The scientific approach in general is a good guideline and pointer for our own “spiritual” explorations.
And within science itself, it seems that the study of the very small and the very large both are fertile ground for pointers and guidelines for exploration.
Science in general helps us recognize that we don’t know. We operate from our own world of images and this is just a map. It may be very helpful in a practical sense in everyday life but there is no “truth” in it. Examples from quantum physics, the study of the very small, helps bring this home.
Through this, we notice that we may assume that there is an objective world “out there”, and it is helpful to act in daily life as if it is so, but this too is just an image. As is the images of a me and I (doer, observer). As we notice these images as images, as content of experience, there is an invitation for identification to release out of these images. We can still use any and all of them in a practical and pragmatic way, to help us function and orient in the world, but they are recognized as images, helpful tools only, and not any absolute truth. And we can notice what happens when there is identification with the viewpoints of some of these images, including the images of a me and I, and what happens when there is a softening or release of this identification and we are more free to play with and make use of these images while recognizing them as images only.
Evolution provides a similarly rich, if not richer, set of pointers for own exploration.
The epic of evolution, especially as told in a numinous way, invites in a shift into Big Mind. (For me, this happened first in my childhood as I went out to look at the stars after having watched the last episode of Cosmos by Carl Sagan. There was a profound sense that THIS was the universe experiencing itself, and a shift out of identification with any content of experience.)
In addition to this, the epic of evolution provides a deep sense of belonging to the universe and the earth, of coming home, and trust in existence. There is release of fear and sense of alienation.
And it provides strong ethical guidelines, and a natural wish to act in ways that are of benefit not only to this human self and those close to it, but also to the wider whole and future generations. As we shift out of an exclusive identification with this human self, and into identification with the Earth and the universe, there is a natural wish to act in ways that benefit this whole. We are one of the ways the universe experiencing and exploring itself. As Carl Sagan said, we embody the local eyes and ears and thoughts and feelings of the cosmos.
Evolutionary psychology shows how anything and everything human is produced through evolution, including compassion, ethics, growing into a widening circle of concerns, and so on. It also shows us that much, or all?, of what we may experience as problematic in our own life, such as impulses and drives, have an evolutionary origin, and the problems often come from mistmatch between our current environment and the environments of our ancestors (going back to the first single-celled organism). This can bring in a deep and heartfelt sense of compassion for ourselves and others, and it also suggest strategies for relating and dealing with these impulses and tendences in our own life, and collectively.
Note: I read a great deal of popularized books on quantum physics as a teenager, especially as it relates to Buddhism and the mind, but haven’t been drawn to it much since then. It seems that the message of quantum physics is not different from the pointers in a basic scientific approach. In contrast, an evolutionary perspective provides a fertile ground for pointers and explorations in many areas of our life, including a deep compassion for ourselves and others, and shifts into Big Mind.
Note2: I am still puzzled by our local spiritual group’s attitude towards this (Center for Sacred Sciences). They emphasize quantum physics, which is fine, although it seems that the basic insights from there are also found in the general philosophy of science. It would also be understandable if they recognize the value of an evolutionary approach, but chose to not emphasize it due to personal inclinations of the teachers. But instead, they seem to assume that an evolutionary approach is not aligned with theirs at a more fundamental level. And that is what is difficult for me to understand. The epic of evolution is an effective way to shift into and have a taste of Big Mind, as I and others repeatedly notice. It is a great way to inform and deepen compassion with ourselves and others, and release much of the struggle we may have with ourselves. And it creates a shift into naturally wishing to act in ways beneficial to the larger social and ecological whole, removing a need for a “should” based ethics.
- qf and evolution
- qf – don’t know
- shift into big mind
- compassion for self/others
– epic of evolution, shift into big mind, we are the universe experiencing itself
– compassion for self/others, recognize evolutionary origin of our impulses
– shifts from I to me, becomes an object, b/c has an origin story
– ethics, act in ways that benefit the larger whole + future generations
Since these are pointers from a basic approach to science, it is also inherent in the study of evolution.