Saturday, April 7, 2012

The Separation of Science and Mysticism: A Detriment To All?

As many of my treasured readers may know I have been taking an abundance of mathematics and physics courses over the past two years while getting my Master's degree in bio-medical engineering. I am pretty sure at this point, that the ghost of Sir Isacc Newton has begun haunting my brain, scraping his chains through the halls of my cerebellum. For anyone who has taken at least Physics I and II and Calculus I and II, you will know that Newton pretty much has his named stamped on everything from his "Three Laws of Physics (which form the foundation from which most other physical laws/theories are defined) to "Newton's Method" ( a method for finding successively more precise approximations for the zeros of real functions in Calculus). For all intensive purposes we could say that Newton for the most part, invented Calculus ( although this is highly debated as another scholar during his time was working on the fundamentals of Calculus but from a different perspective). However, in terms of what we as students learn in university it is Isaac Netwon's principles in both mathematics and physics that govern the majority of material that is taught. But what is never spoken about is that Newton was also a famous alchemist and mystic. In fact, the majority of what we study in science and mathematics today were discovered by great intellects who were also mystics, alchemists, and magicians...Giordorno Bruno, Pythagoras, Plato, Poincare, Einstein, Descartes, Kepler, Bach, Roger Bacon, Pascal, Copernicus, Albertus Magnus, Geber, Paracelsus. This list is far from complete and leaves out the many mystical thinkers who have made great contributions to other important areas such as literature, music, and art that so highly influence us today.

Contemplating this and studying the universe from both a magical and scientific perspective it seems obvious to conclude that humans are functioning with limited knowledge on both sides of the fence. Limited because these famous scientists and mathematicians combined their work with techniques, and teachings that gave them a more complete understanding of the nature of reality which has now been separated from thier discoveries. Where they were praying, meditating, and connecting with the Spirit to uncover the mysteries of the universe and nature, we are left with the bare-bones of what they percieved. Where they were eating the hot, sumptuous pie just barely cooled from the oven, we are left with the crust (which is exceptionally tasty), but not the filling or its freshness. These masters were getting in touch with higher states of consciouness that helped them to uncover some of the many wonderful principles that we exploit today in our inventions, studies, experiments, and discoveries.

Albert Einstein for example, used to use a personal technique that he uncovered when he was working on the Special Theory of Relativity. He would sit in a chair with a metal ball and a metal bowl. Thinking of his question or what he was working on he would let himself drift off to sleep. Just before he would fall asleep he would enter that state of consciousness between waking and sleeping which is totally unbounded by the intellect, this is known by some to be transcendental consciousness, the dialectic, hypnogogia. In this state he would uncover the answers to the mysteries that he contemplated, unrestricted by the intellect, emotions, and sensations and attachments to the physical world. When he began to transition into the sleep-state the ball would drop into the bowl and wake him up so that he remembered what he uncovered. Although one of the world's greatest physicists, Einstein believed he could get in touch with the underlying unity of existence to unveil its true nature and make some of the most important discoveries to physics since Newton himself.

The seperation of science and mysticism didn't happen during the Age of Enlightenment, but has been a part of intellectual thinking since antiquity and has affected our studies of mathematics and science from its inception. Pythagorean cults are a perfect example. Although no writings exist from Pythagoras himself (he beleived in the concept of "mouth to ear" that still lives in the Golden Dawn tradition today). We do know by cross-referencing the writings of his students that Pythagorous was a mystic, mathematician, musician, and astronomer who did not see the seperation between these subjects but instead viewed them as being bound by a unifiying principle. He taught unification with the Spirit though harmony, humility, honor, and the contemplation of the infinite through numbers and music. It wasn't until after his death that two "Pythagorean Schools" emerged, one that focused soley on his mathematical and scientific teachings and the other which focused soley on his spritual teachings. It seems that the separation of holistic knowledge into bits and pieces was fated from antiquity.

If we begin to research and study the life-works of many of the scholars listed above, it becomes quite clear that the physical knowledge that we have obtained from their works is but a mere reflection of the spiritual principles that they uncovered simultaneously. "As Above, so Below" is the great spiritual edict, or as many a Golden Dawn magician may say, "Kether is in Malkuth and Malkuth is in Kether". If we contemplate these teachings of pure math or physics or chemistry from the view point that there is a reflective side of these subjects, a new world, a more complete world, begins to open itself up to us.

The next thing that we may deduce (or debate) is that not only is the corpus of out scientific knowledge incomplete, but possibly the corpus of our magical teachings. Is it so far fetched, to look at the study of something such as electro-magnetic fields and associate them with the way that magical current flows during hand-on healing techniques? Chapter X of The Kybalion concerning polarity begins, "Everything is dual, everything has poles, everything has its pair of opposites; like and unlike are the same, opposites are identical in nature, but different in degree..." For those of you who may have studied electricity, current, and electric fields this may sound similiar to you. Protons and electrons have an equal but opposite charge. Protons having a positive 1.67*10^-19 charge and electrons having a negative 1.67*10^-19 charge. These elementary particles are governed by Newton's "Third Law of Action and Reaction" which states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Not only does this govern the movement of objects in the macroscopic realm but also the behavior of particles in the microscopic realm. The fact that these two particles are equal and opposite are the reason that atoms are held together and that molecules are made.Next comes what is known as an electric field where a distribution of charge (a bunch of charges bundled up together) causes what is known as an electric field. A single particle has an inner or outer pointing electric field, but it is the distribution of charge that causes things such as electric current.

Now let's look at this from an esoteric point of view. How many of you have under-taken the study of an energy healing technique or been the recipient of one and thought "Wow, I can feel this energy flow out of my hands" or "I can feel you touching me even though you are inches away from my body"? Is is so hard to make the connection that these energies may behave similarly to what we study in science? That there may be some type of energetic current or distribution of energetic particles causing this flow and that we may turn it on and off by at will? We spend a great deal of time honing our magical will in order to control these energies.Combined with a more specific understanding of how these energies work we could allow our will to turn into a sharply honed knife. And what about distance healing? Could quantum physics govern the principles of healing from far away? What about the discussions of the astral plane, where things such as time have no meaning? In the realms of quantum physics time is totally transcended, in fact the results that we receive from our experimental studies in quantum mechanics are totally dependent upon how we observe them because they deal with a plane of existence that is nothing but potential. Does this sound familiar?

Now this post is not meant to prove the connection between science and magic. I think that has been well written and well documented. The point that I am trying to make is that not only are we as a species of intelligent beings doing ourselves a great disservice by poo-pooing time honored and proven techniques (meditation, yoga, magic, etc..) that can help us to gain greater physical knowledge, but that we as magicians may not be utilizing all the knowledge that is available to us either. (Yes, I believe a physics book could be part of your grade material if used in the proper way) I have often heard it said by modern day mages that if science was only willing to take on the studies of esotericism our discoveries would grow exponentially. But I have rarely heard it spoken of the other way. However, over the past two years I have come to believe that when the separation of science and mysticism of an individual's teachings and discoveries takes place not only does the scientific community suffer, but spiritual community does as well. It makes complete sense that one should study chemistry along with alchemy, or physics along with ritual magic and meditative techniques. Knowledge is universal. It is one, it is not meant to be separated from itself into pieces. You cannot bake a pie with just a crust or just a filling, you need both. Please tell me your thoughts...

Nosce Te Ipsum

VH Soror FSO