Volume 6 / Issue 1 SPRING 2020

S p i r i t ua l i t y S t u d i e s 6 - 1 S p r i n g 2 0 2 0 9 Larry Culliford 5 Living in Error The psycheorworld-mind , according to the current, I would say incomplete , science-orientated paradigm, tends to dismiss the spiritual dimension, concerning itself with the first four only, with the physical universe and its temporal manifestations. This is the secular, left-brain world of words and numbers, of science and technology, of reason , of evidence and calculation , the world of progress , of profit and loss , of the tragic imperative of growth economics , of merciless consumerism and advertising , of eco-destruction and global warming , of increasingly devastating natural disasters , widespreadhuman aggression , and the resulting displacement of millions, both as refugees and as so-called economic migrants . 6 Discovering Wisdom Wisdomcan be defined as a “form of knowledge”, “sacred and intuitive knowledge” in contrast to scientific, evidence-based information. Wisdom is “ the knowledge of how to be and behave for the best, for all concerned, in any given situation ” (Culliford 2020, 19). As such, it can be seen to depend upon recognition of our profound kinship to each other. This is clearly the opposite of, and an antidote to, Descartes’ induced self-centredness. We human beings are ultimately of one kind. Hence the value of kindness, and an inescapably urgent need to re-sacralise human culture. I hope you will agree with me that what we seek is spiritual progress throughout the world, progress aimed at gently pulling everything back from discord towards social well-being, health and harmony. Wisdom is intuitive, of the moment. It cannot be said to depend on any particular beliefs: ideological, political, religious or non-religious. A belief, in my view, is often a form of Ego-attachment, and much more important are deeply personal, spiritual experiences. To fit in with the spiritual theme of holiness, we can say, for example, therefore that wisdom ultimately depends on having a profound and mysterious sense of both personal and cosmic wholeness. Thomas Merton put it like this: “ We are already one... But we imagine that we are not... And what we have to recover is our original unity... What we have to be is what we are. ” (Merton 1973, 308). Even from the perspective of the world-mind, the findings of science provide good evidence that all people everywhere, This is the veritable shambles we are all in. How did we get there? According to Thomas Merton, since the philosopher Descartes announced, “ I think, therefore I am ” in the 1600s, humans have been living in error. The subsequent interpretation has always since been about reason, about thinking rationally. Logical, binary, either-or, right-wrong, us-them thinking, following Descartes, therefore tends, Merton says, “ to make the individual person central to his or her self-enclosed universe, seeing everything and everyone else as an object ” (Merton 1988, 131–2). Thus, in our secular Western culture, we define ourselves as separate from other people, and have grown increasingly mechanistic, materialistic, and mercenary to the detriment of the world. So, let me say a bit more about wisdom. past, present and future, are connected to one-another, and equally to everything else in the universe. To begin with, physics and chemistry teach that everything originated billions of years ago with the so-calledBig Bang ; that the first stars, formed of hydrogen and helium, eventually burned away and finally blew apart with such tremendous force as to create and spread wide all the atoms of the periodic table, leading to the creation of a multitude of galaxies, including our own, our solar system and planets, universally connected still by a mysterious force known as quantum entanglement . Biology, in turn, says that the same stardust atoms contribute to carbon-based life-forms that share a genetic heritage and evolutionary pathway towards the astonishing diversity and sophistication of life on earth today. The oxygen that we humans all breathe and share is produced in green plants by photosynthesis, a process which entraps light energy from the sun, our local star. The same oxygen, combined with carbon, is taken back up by plants and re-used in a continuous cycle. It is clear from such observations that we are each inextricably bound up with nature. Psychology reveals, in addition, that human beings share universal faculties, among them: the five senses; being able to learn, think, calculate and reason; the ability to speak and act; also a range of emotions, both painful and pleasurable. As extensively elaborated in his magnificent book, The Master and His Emissary , Iain McGilchrist (2009) reports how neuroscience tells us that the two sides of our brains work on