A powerful synchronicity occurred the other day following on our meditation on Rupert Sheldrake’s article, “Is the Sun Conscious?”   An article appeared in Pocket Explore entitled: “The Idea that Everything from Spoons to Stones is Conscious is Gaining Academic Credibility”*

Solar rays. Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash

I forwarded the article to Rupert, who responded, “Yes, panpsychism is a growing fashion, and I hope my sun article will help take this further than most of them originally intended to go.”  I do think talking about the consciousness of the sun is more significant than talking about human artifacts like spoons and tables.

The Pocket article begins:

Consciousness permeates reality.  Rather than being just a unique feature of human subjective experience, it’s the foundation of the universe, present in every particle and all physical matter.

This sentence would earn a jolt of affirmation from most mystics I am familiar with, as well as those who study them such as William James in his classic work, Varieties of Religious Experience. 

How does consciousness emerge? Rupert Sheldrake explains why mystical experience disproves materialism and as a result shows the importance of understanding consciousness. Video from The Institute of Art and Ideas.

I cited Hildegard of Bingen recently that “no creature lacks an interior life” which is another way of talking about the same reality.  It is as if today’s thinkers about consciousness find themselves wandering into her world and that of other creation mystics.

The Cosmic Christ archetype after all names the “light in all things” (photons are light waves in every atom) as a sacred presence; and Eckhart, borrowing from Muslim philosopher Avicenna, talks frequently about the “spark of the soul”– a concept found richly developed by the Sufi mystics but also by Jewish mystics in the Kaballah. 

There, the sparks touch and even ignite Wisdom herself who accompanies creation and play a role in the unfolding of creation itself.  They play in the elements of the universe—fire, air, water, and earth, “from which evolved the states of mineral, vegetable, animal, and human,” as Zohar scholar Daniel Matt comments. 

“Hubble Sees the Force Awakening in a Newborn Star. Partially obscured by a dark cloak of dust, a newborn star shoots twin jets of superheated gas out from its rotation axis into space at more than 100,000 miles per hour as a sort of birth announcement to the universe.” Image credit: NASA/ESA/STScI

Sparks precede the cosmic forces and feed them.  They are “sparks of holiness” found in all things and “intermingle with everything in the world, even inanimate objects.”  They are within all we eat and drink and in all the energy by which we work.  

The article continues:

As traditional attempts to explain consciousness continue to fail, the ‘panpsychist’ view is increasingly being taken seriously by credible philosophers, neuroscientists, and physicists…. 

What causes consciousness? 

Dualism holds that consciousness is separate and distinct from physical matter—but that then raises the question of how consciousness interacts and has an effect on the physical world.

Camille Defrenne andSuzanne Simard explain how trees in a forest communicate through a symbiotic relationship with mycorrhizal fungi. Uploaded to YouTube by TED-Ed.

Rupert’s recent article on the sun addresses that question.  Panpsychism resolves the problem this way. 

Consciousness is a fundamental feature of physical matter; every single particle in existence has an ‘unimaginably simple’ form of consciousness, says Goff. 

There may well be “some inherent subjective experience of consciousness in even the tiniest particle.”

Perhaps the universe is a “fundamental whole rather than a collection of discrete parts.”  If the universe is conscious, how different is that from Aquinas’s observation that “the most excellent thing in the universe is not the human but the universe itself?”

*See: https://getpocket.com/explore/item/the-idea-that-everything-from-spoons-to-stones-is-conscious-is-gaining-academic-credibility

See Matthew Fox, “Eckhart as Sufi: Meister Eckhart Meets Rumi, Hafiz, Ibn El-Arabi, and Avicenna in Fox, Meister Eckhart: A Mystic-warrior for Our Times, pp. 192-195.

Also Matthew Fox, Naming the Unnameable: 89 Wonderful and Useful Names for God…Including the Unnameable God

Banner Image: “Indra’s Net.” A spiderweb illustrates the Hindu conception of reality: “a vast net; at each crossing point there is a jewel… stand(ing) for an individual being, or an individual consciousness, or a cell or an atom. ” ~ Stephen Mitchell, quoted on ChildrensYoga.com. Photo by HibaHaba on Flickr.

What does it mean to you to see scientists and neuroscientists talking about consciousness in all beings?  Does that touch your mystical soul?

Meister Eckhart: A Mystic-Warrior For Our Time

While Matthew Fox recognizes that Meister Eckhart has influenced thinkers throughout history, he also wants to introduce Eckhart to today’s activists addressing contemporary crises. Toward that end, Fox creates dialogues between Eckhart and Carl Jung, Thich Nhat Hanh, Rabbi Heschel, Black Elk, Karl Marx, Rumi, Adrienne Rich, Dorothee Soelle, David Korten, Anita Roddick, Lily Yeh, M.C. Richards, and many others.
“Matthew Fox is perhaps the greatest writer on Meister Eckhart that has ever existed. (He) has successfully bridged a gap between Eckhart as a shamanistic personality and Eckhart as a post-modern mentor to the Inter-faith movement, to reveal just how cosmic Eckhart really is, and how remarkably relevant to today’s religious crisis! ” — Steven Herrmann, Author of Spiritual Democracy: The Wisdom of Early American Visionaries for the Journey Forward

A New Reformation: Creation Spirituality & The Transformation of Christianity

A modern-day theologian’s call for the radical transformation of Christianity that will allow us to move once again from the hollow trappings of organized religion to genuine spirituality. A New Reformation echoes the Reformation initiated by Martin Luther in 1517 and offers a new vision of Christianity that values the Earth, honors the feminine, and respects science and deep ecumenism.
“This is a deep and forceful book….With prophetic insight, Matthew Fox reveals what has corrupted religion in the West and the therapy for its healing.” ~Bruce Chilton, author of Rabbi Jesus: An Intimate Biography

Naming the Unnameable: 89 Wonderful and Useful Names for God …Including the Unnameable God

Too often, notions of God have been used as a means to control and to promote a narrow worldview. In Naming the Unnameable, renowned theologian and author Matthew Fox ignites our imaginations by offering a colorful range of Divine Names gathered from scientists and poets and mystics past and present, inviting us to always begin where true spirituality begins: from experience.
“This book is timely, important and admirably brief; it is also open ended—there are always more names to come, and none can exhaust God’s nature.” -Rupert Sheldrake, PhD, author of Science Set Free and The Presence of the Past

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11 thoughts on “Consciousness Permeates Reality”

  1. Avatar

    Yes absolutely, there’s for me too a synchronicity- I have been listening to Brian Swimme,s Canticle to the Cosmos talks and he ask the question is the universe conscious too. Marvelous !!!

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Thank you Steve, for your comment. I too have listened Brian Swimme’s Canticle to the Cosmos–it is very good !!!

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      You are right Patrick, “even our intellectual musings fall short” and that because they are just intellectual musings. And the poets do come closer because they are accessing a different part of the mind, and artists too come closer in that they too are accessing different parts of their mind. We need the wisdom of the intellect, the poet, the artist and more–in order to access what it is to be human–body, spirit and mind…

  2. Avatar

    Yes! The poets and mystics (who are so often poets and poets are so often mystics). But also the musicians and dancers and potters and painters and all of us when we express ourselves via poetry or other art forms, drawing on our deepest intuitions and mystical experiences. We are all mystics and artists deep down. I see two languages for our deepest (mystical) experiences: Art and Silence.

  3. Avatar

    This is a very simplistic answer: If everything is created by God, then everything comes from God and thus is part of God. Since God is Consciousness, so is all of creation without and within (as Matthew loves to say).
    The other day, on my daily walk, I stopped to look at the sky, one of my favorite things to do, and was captivated by the incredibly huge, totally white puffy cloud against the magnificent blue sky, and couldn’t help but proclaim out loud: “MY GOD, BUT YOU’RE BEAUTIFUL!” And realized I had called the cloud GOD! But, of course . . . what else??

  4. Phila Hoopes

    Dear Matthew,
    Today’s meditation puts me in mind of a vision I had at age 10…
    …while sitting on my swing set, watching the sunset, I was suddenly immersed in vision: Everything was aware…not only humans and animals, but stones, trees, water, earth, stars, sun…not only the natural but the artificial as well, furniture, cars, houses, dolls, the swing on which I sat. All was energy, awareness, and all the awarenesses mingled. The pain of one brought shadow to others; the joy of one brought light to others. There was no separation between the awarenesses, and together they formed a totality that I identified as God.

    I sat in the midst of this vision, enthralled by its intricate immensity, until the last ray of sunlight vanished. Then I leaped off the swing and ran inside to tell my mother… good Catholic as she was (and a visionary herself), she told me gently, “We don’t believe such things, dear, they’re pantheism, heresy.”

    And that was the beginning of the road that led me to you and Creation Spirituality…

  5. Avatar

    “Let there be Light” has layers and layers of meaning. The most amazing thing is the power of Sacred Unity that holds all together in the consciousness within the light. This knowing is here in so many miraculous manifestations!

  6. Avatar

    The consciousness of Hydrogen sensed the Life particle it possessed was more powerful than its own power. In order to destroy Life and realize its conscious self importance of power and wealth it exploded and created the Universe, of which it owned. The rise of Life in the blue planet had other plans. We inherited the sin of the world, in our global attraction to systemic injustice. We are all participants when we seek the benefits of injustice when it gives us self importance of power and wealth. The blue planet is moving us towards a transformation towards the beginning where the freedom for us to evolve, was not destroyed. Deacon’82 Environment and Global Interdependence.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Peter, In view of the “sin of the world” and its “systemic injustice” I am glad that our planet is “moving us towards a transformation” where the freedom for us to evolve, is not destroyed…

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