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”*
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.
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.
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.
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 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