In these times we need our whole brain on deck- left, right, intuitive, scientific, and the profound neural connections between brain and heart flowing freely. We need to step out of ourselves to connect with and call upon a larger wisdom – which is readily available if we are able to quiet ourselves enough to tune in to these subtle voices. Not an easy task in these times, but a necessary one.
As left brained engineer and astronaut Edgar Mitchell hurtled back toward the earth, he saw it in all its vulnerable beauty, hanging alone in the blackness of space. He underwent a profound mystical experience of the nature of life and the types of knowledge we need to understand it – a combination of our analytic intelligence and our inner wisdom. In 1973 he founded IONS1 a research institute devoted to exploring the nature of consciousness using both these modalities.
I spoke at the IONS conference recently to make a plea to develop a spiritual ecology, bringing spirituality into conservation and conservation into consciousness discussions through the stories of the Earthfire animals. To add a visceral, grounded awareness of nature to our thinking and planning – to widen the circle of conversation.
In return I was rewarded by hearing mind-blowing science and ideas from the rich mixture of brilliant researchers which I’m glad to share with you:
Evidence from physics is suggesting that consciousness is not seated in the human brain, but is a fundamental property of the universe, coming before anything: before space, time, matter, form. As the ground of all being, it would be inherent in matter. This idea of a primordial intelligence echoes one of my favorite themes – that intelligence is everywhere in nature, expressed in unique form in each species and each individual – so let’s listen to other intelligences.2 (They say travel is broadening. So is tuning in to non-human life forms and communities).
An extension of this is the idea that the universe itself is a conscious, intelligent, evolving entity, and that we are part of this evolution and can contribute to it. Research scientist Dr. Dean Radin showed a slide of the complex neuronal interconnections of the human brain – and then a slide of the interconnections of galaxies as shown by our most powerful telescope. They were indistinguishable, suggesting a primary form of organization may exists in all levels of organization – in this case the brain echoing the universe?!
This also leads to a possible explanation for the experience of telepathy. If the mind is more extensive than the brain and consciousness stretches across space and time, perhaps that is what we are tapping into when we have telepathic experiences. Some of us are better “radio receivers” than others, but under intense emotion we all have the capacity to tap in this. In fact, Rupert Sheldrake’s work on telepathy between humans and their dogs suggests that it happens more easily among social creatures where there are intense emotional bonds (he has researched dogs and parrots among other animals)*.
Dogs That Know When Their Owners are Coming Home by Rupert Sheldrake
Rupert Sheldrake suggests that instead of being driven by genes (which have been increasingly diminished in importance as we realize they are only part of the picture), all life, plant and animals respond to, are attracted by, and drawn toward a source of information or pattern that gives the form of their particular species. It is not the genes at all that direct development. Rather they carry out instructions from a higher source of information. The brilliant playwright and botanist Goethe had the intuition 200 years ago that there is somewhere in the universe a universal “archetypal” pattern that is the blueprint for all species of life that ever were and ever could be, and that somehow are developed into form. It is only now that insights from quantum mechanics indicate something like this may be true.
Coming from the more spiritual aspect, and speaking about the current environmental crises, theologian Matthew Fox asked, “What keeps us asleep? We are asleep because we are not in love. We are made to be in love with wildflowers and polar bears…The point of universe is celebration – an exuberant expression of existence itself. We are part of creation’s bursting forth, unfolding, the life within life itself. Perhaps all creation is a spirit seeking to be itself, in the process of becoming, seeking to organize through matter to bring forth creative flow.”
And flow is what we need everywhere. One example relevant to the environment is how critical it is to maintain wildlife corridors woven throughout the continent3 through which wildlife and their genes can flow over vast reaches of space and time, uninterrupted by developments, fences, or cut into pieces by highways. These theoretical discussions illustrate basic principles that we can and need to apply to maintain a rich and sustainable life on our Earth. This kind of integrated thinking, not taught in our schools or supported by our culture, is nonetheless, in the end, essential to our survival. Interestingly, being in nature does support this kind of thinking……
There was much more. Some of it we will explore in our ongoing Conservation Conversations.4 Some of it I will incorporate into future blogs. But in all of this mind-blowing science and shift in perspective, there were a few statements that stood out: that the fact the universe exists is a gift—according to Matthew Fox; a grace. That it exists in a state of flow.
And that we can only navigate all this the vastness with love.
1 Institute of Noetic Sciences. The word noetic derives from the Greek nous, meaning “mind or ways of knowing.”
2 In “Just a Sparrow?”, if you look at the pictures of the baby sparrow we rescued, there is intelligence and life force expressed in those-bright little black eyes…. There is nothing “just” about any life form. It is all magic.
3 see One Good Deed