Body, Mind and Soul

by E. Alan Meece

A talk at Divine Science Center, San Jose CA, July 1, 2012

Last month we had a series about the brain, and how its various parts correspond to parts of our personality, some primitive and emotional, some more reasonable. Scientists tell us they can attribute everything we think and feel to the brain. We know that when it is broken, we lose our memory as well as physical mobility. All of our sensations and emotions are processed through our brain, and we not only think and ponder things there, but incessant chatter roams around in there like wild sheep in search of their master.

So where are we in all this brain chatter, and amidst the chatter by all these scientists? How do we defend ourselves against the materialists who reduce us to nothing more than a lump of neurons attached to a body?

The problem with science, of course, is that it looks at moving, fluid things like our flighty brains as if they were static; almost as if they were dead. They look upon the brain as an object to be studied, as though no-one was at home. They try to pin down exactly where in the brain we experience and think certain things. But how can they do this, when all the neurons are connected to each other? Where does one section of the brain begin and another end? In fact, philosophy and even science tell us that we can't really pin anything down to any location at all. The uncertainty principle says you can't tell the position and movement of an object at the same time, which as I see it, is retelling the ancient knowledge that you can't measure what is moving, and you can't step in the same stream twice.

And we've learned that science changes too. We know some things we didn't know before, when the brain paradigm was conceived. For example, we know that if one part of the brain is injured, other parts can take over the functions that were located in the injured part. And they told us not so long ago that when brain cells die, they are never replaced, and now we know that they new ones can grow.

Clearly, to stay conscious and function in this world, we need a healthy brain. But according to the Mayfield Clinic, if our brain is injured, more than one part of it may be affected, which makes it hard to answer questions like "what part of the brain is hurt?" Our brains function holistically and holigraphically, and if scientists don't know that, they go seeking for specific parts of it that do specific things, as if it were the dashboard of a car. We also have a larger existence than our brains. According to Rupert Sheldrake, consciousness, or mind, is best understood as an information field that is anchored in the brain but extends far beyond it, to wherever our attention goes. "The field of a magnet isn't confined to the inside of a magnet. It stretches out beyond its surface. The field of a cell phone stretches out beyond the surface of the handset. The fields on which mental activity depend interact with the brain and are rooted in the brain, but they're not confined to the brain any more than any of these other fields are confined to the material object they're associated with." Craig Hamilton of EnlightenNext magazine compares his view of the mind and the brain to that of the Scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz. Despite needing a brain, he "still had plenty of personality and emotion and at least enough cognitive capacity stuffed in all that straw to get through the day. Although you probably wouldn't ask him to sort out the dinner bill, there was clearly somebody home." It's more like the brain is a tool that we operate to extend our capacities, not who and what we are. In fact, our whole being is part of this mind field, and as we know, our heart and other chakras are as much a part of our consciousness as the brain is.

And yet, without the brain, we can't express here, in what we call this physical or manifest dimension. To do that seems pretty important to us. But my question is not only what kind of mind field we are, but also: why is this important; why do we want to be physical in the first place? Isn't it good enough to flicker around in our light bodies and shapeshift as much as we want? Just think, and we're there! And we get to hang with God too, in all that peace and love and beauty. Professional custom essay writer right here write my essay non plagiarized essays. But we find ourselves confined here, in these heavy, opaque and lumbering bodies, and we actually want this. Why? The best answers I've come up with are: a) that we like some stability in our lives; to know that things we make and experience will last longer than a few seconds, and b) that we like the challenge; that we grow as a soul by dealing with more difficult things. This makes us not only stronger and more creative, but more loving and compassionate too. And if we want to be here, we need strong brains and bodies.

Those who believe in science probably would say we're talking nonsense. What else is there but this life, they ask? To boost their opinion, they turn to neuroscience, which says that we are only the brain, so there is no life after death. But others have found evidence of it from near-death experiences. Craig Hamilton writes about several physicians and nurses that reported patients being able to describe in detail events that happened when they were clearly unconscious, comatose, or even clinically brain dead. In one widely reported case, a patient who came back to life correctly identified which drawer the nurse who had removed his dentures had placed them in while he was in a coma. In another, an unconscious patient had an out-of-body experience and then accurately described a tennis shoe she had seen on the outside ledge of a third-floor hospital window. But the most dramatic case to date is probably the now-famous story of an Arizona woman named Pam Reynolds. In a last-ditch attempt to save Reynolds from a brain aneurysm that threatened her life, doctors performed a rare and dangerous "standstill" operation in which they lowered her body temperature to below sixty degrees Fahrenheit, stopped her heart and respiration, and drained all the blood from her body and brain. She was, by any reasonable definition, dead. Yet following her recovery from the operation, doctors learned that not only had she undergone a classic near death experience, but she also recounted accurately many details of the operation, from the surgical instruments used to the conversation between the surgeons and nurses.

So we may have other places we go when we die. But while we're here, we are centered in our bodies and brains, and we need them to work well. Our nervous system is where our consciousness functions within our body. If we cut or injure a nerve somewhere, we lose feeling there. We can even pass out and go unconscious. It continues within all of our cells, but at a lower level.

This is an idea that I try to explain to materialists, usually without much success: degrees of consciousness. We can observe that some things respond to us in different ways, and this is because of their different consciousness levels. If we strike a stone, in makes a noise. If we strike an insect, it quickly runs away. Often insects can even sense when we are getting too close. Dogs and cats will fight back if we strike them, and they also can nurture us. Human beings when asleep won't respond to you unless you shout and shake them. But when awake, (s)he can tell you a story, or give you music lessons. That's a higher level of consciousness. When we are listening to a politician spout forth hot air on a TV talk show, or watching a sitcom or a football game while drinking our soda or beer, we might be in a lower level of consciousness then when we are deep in prayer. And some of us think there are beings with higher consciousness than us, such as spirits, ascended masters or angels. Then there is the divine spirit which is the source and essence of all of these. We in Divine Science say this omnipresence is equally present everywhere and at all times. But when we focus on particular things, and feel ourselves as centered individuals, from that point of view we see higher consciousness in some beings than in others.

According to the philosophy of pan-psychism, there is consciousness on all of these levels, extending all the way from God down to the darkest space or deepest ground. The best custom thesis service check it out buy thesis really hot propose. Teilhard de Chardin explained that consciousness increases through evolution, and that this level of consciousness corresponds to the complexity of the organisms in which it resides. Everything has a dimension he called the within, even though science specializes in looking at things from without, and so can't measure it. But we observe the different levels of freedom and spontaneity that are displayed in different things and creatures. If we deny this knowledge because science can't measure it, we aren't really being honest. We are just trying to fit in with the dominant paradigm. But the ancients gave us the principle, as within, so without, and that is what Teilhard demonstrated with his theory of complexity and consciousness.

Science usually looks at evolution from the point of view of without. Darwinism explains it as natural selection, in which organisms who have inherited the right genes, which are changed by random mutation, are best adapted to survive amid the pressures of a changing environment. If members of a species become isolated from each other, over time they may become different species. But if the primary impulse to live comes from within, then evolution is also driven by life's longing and aspiration to become conscious and experience love. It is God's process of self-realization within the world.

We living beings are that divine consciousness seeking expression. We look within to find the source of that drive and aspiration, the divine within, which moves out into the world. If we allow the world without to rule over us, then we have lost our freedom and our connection to source. And yet the divine omnipresence is without too, since it is everywhere and in other beings besides our individual self. That also means they would like their freedom respected too, from our attempts to control them. But the within is also our individual center, which always seems to be there. I may sense and realize my connection to the world without, and my essential identity with all, but I also feel centered and even located in this individual body, mind and soul. God expresses as individuals, on many levels; from cells to selves, from atoms to Adam. We can we feel confined to our body, but to our soul too, especially when we are embodied on Earth.

So as mystics, how can we keep our center, our freedom and independence, our drive to grow and evolve, and still realize our oneness with all? That is called the divine marriage. We can be assertive, and receptive, like breathing in and out. At first, when we come to Earth, we increasingly separate from the divine, defend ourselves and develop our individual selves and egos. Then we seek to reunite, and become two as one. We learn to give and receive at once; doing both at all phases of the cycle, like the yin/yang symbol.

As an astrologer, I use the planets as symbols of the aspects of ourselves, according to the hermetic, holographic principle of as within, so without; as above, so below. I think one of the most potent and fascinating symbols of the divine marriage is Pluto, which we have gotten to know much more about during my lifetime. Since 1978 we know that what once we were seeing in a fuzzy image as a much larger planet, was actually Pluto and its large Moon together. But we discovered something much more. Pluto and its Moon are entangled together in a gravitational lock, such that both are facing each other in the same place constantly. In other words, if you were standing on Pluto, you would see its Moon Charon in the same place in the sky constantly, all the time, and if you were on Charon you would see Pluto the same way. This is a symbol of concentration, as when we meditate, and also total interaction and interdependence, which we can also call ecology.

Thus it represents the power gained through total connection of self and other. It's movements through time and space and with other planets correspond to the great death and rebirth cycles of the powerful civilizations of history, and to the experiences of death and rebirth in our own lives too. It leads us beyond death to the next world, and also to new life in this world. Being so small that it's no longer even called a planet, and yet so powerful, it also symbolizes what Pat Moore mentioned in our discussion last week about the power of humility, of making oneself small. In Pluto's consciousness, we have total power and concentration, and yet in the divine marriage, it becomes pure effortless being at the same time. Pluto is evolution, of the principle of as within, so without, of the two simultaneously being two and yet one. It is something to aspire to. When we are in Pluto's orbit, we can hear the wedding bells of the divine marriage ringing in our souls, and calling us to life. May they ring for all of us soon. May they ring for all of our planet, and all the lives upon it.