35. The energy in things
While they’re not the same, religious structures, and their rituals that bind, tend to convey spiritual notions. The implications of intolerance for others’ religious beliefs is sadly projected by many of the world’s war-zones, past and present. Religious enforcement often overlaps political allegiance – think of the Spanish Inquisition.
Given all the many religions in operation, beliefs may conflict, but what threads them together is how they address invisible aspects of life. While keeping the chakras of a person’s subtle body unblocked is linked to ancient lifestyle approaches such as yoga, this cartography of human physiology is still widely invoked by complementary healers. Terrible times can awaken a quest for something to believe in. Research conducted by Dr Randolph Byrd in 1988, though contested, demonstrates the power of faith; those who were the objects of intercessory prayer fared much better on a range of medical tests over time than a control group. Dr Larry Dossey and others support the claim.
“And if you would know God be not therefore a solver of riddles.
Rather look about you and you shall see Him playing with your children. And look into space; you shall see Him walking in the cloud, outstretching His arms in the lightning and descending in rain. You shall see Him smiling in flowers, then rising and waving His hands in trees.”
And from chapter 25 of the Lao-Tzu’s esteemed Tao Te Ching:
“There is something formlessly created
Born before Heaven and Earth
So silent! So ethereal!
Independent and changeless
Circulating and ceaseless
It can be regarded as the mother of the world”.
Rupert Sheldrake methodically takes Western scientific dogma to task for vetoing the study of non-solid topics, generally related to mind or soul dynamics however understood, in the humorously-titled, The Science Delusion. His peers are catching up now, admitting to a ‘post-materialist’ reality. Some scientists have been drawn to mysteries, such as those described by Michio Kaku in his book, The Physics Of The Impossible, and elsewhere. He dissects the latest findings on human mastery of skills imagined in science fiction, including telepathy, time travel and perpetual motion. Dr Korotkov in Russia has also earned fame for imaging invisible plant life. It has even been argued that science in Europe was primarily sponsored by the Catholic Church.
A spiritual curiosity creeps up on most people at some time during their lives, spurring them into deeper enquiry. Jack Kerouac retraced the best-known biography of Buddha in a slim volume, Wake Up, articulating his own reflections e.g. ‘to escape [to nirvana] from the prison, [of samsara] was why the prison was made.” He claimed to cultivate his future works based on it. Richard Grossinger applies similar tenets directly to current affairs in the more contemporary tome, The Bardo Of Waking Life.
Sam Harris argues that people can do without religion while still gaining a lot of quality comfort and support from spirituality. Others cry narcissism at the a la carte approach to faith, which can amount to no more than a cult of self-worship according to Paul C. Vitz, in his book, Psychology As Religion. Of many useful resources out there, Sounds True and Wisdom Books cater for a wide range of spiritual queries. Ken Wilber’s integral embrace and transcend system is more all-inclusive: it says everyone’s right – and there’s more! He doesn’t stop at recommending the integration of beliefs only, but at blending spiritual essences into everyday routines alongside taking responsibility for developing as a healthy human being, to make it meaningful, for a ‘holy’ (whole) life.
Furthermore, sensing and believing in extra being, inside, outside, above or below the self is less of a shot in the dark than it might seem when numerous well-regarded scientists are now convinced, based on their research results, of the immortality of consciousness, the seat of the individual self-concept. So, having a little faith, it seems, is not only good for the soul, but sound science, and the solace supplied can be most important during high-stress episodes.