Wednesday, 19 November 2014

The cosmic power of love: a testimony by Pete Sears

This post is  by my brother, a rock musician who lives in San Rafael (near San Francisco), California, USA, about 6000 miles from me in the UK. He wrote it as an email message to his family  on the way to a gig in LA having just read my post 

'ET encounters but no ET life: resolving the paradox'.

I like my brother’s latest blog post. It explains very well what I have instinctively felt for quite some time now. Many will disagree with it of course; but these concepts need to be talked about on this crazy but wonderful jewel of a planet we inhabit.

 The mystery of sentient life, how we interact with our fellow beings, and how we perceive and interpret our surroundings is just too fantastic to be explained by mere chance. How and why the same species is capable of such extreme goodness and selflessness, but is also capable of inflicting almost unimaginable horrors  spawned from blind selfishness and misguided ego is a question that will be debated for a very long time to come. To me, ego seems to be the key...the answer is in there somewhere, and on a metaphysical level. 

One of the most difficult things to do is to give up the take this path is a life long commitment. Some of you have heard me speak of the mystical life altering event I experienced, alone on a stormy windswept night some forty one years ago...I have been attempting to understand what happened to me ever since. It was not of this dimension, of that I am certain...and the intense light that hovered directly above me emanated pure, unfettered love and acceptance beyond anything I could ever have imagined. 

And power. There was absolutely no doubt that this pure love and goodness was ubiquitous and all powerful...hence the deep bottomless darkness that seemed to be slinking and slithering away below and to the left of me. I won't go into any more details, but will say that the light appeared to me after I cried out into the metaphysical realm for God to help me...I was at a crossroads in my life. 

I couldn't do it on my own. I needed help from the Divine. I didn't instantly become a better person, I just knew that by surrendering my ego and asking for help and guidance from this all powerful, metaphysical force of creation we call God, I would always have this entity of pure peace and love to help and guide me through times of hardship and weakness. Yes, attempting to surrender the ego through prayer is a major key...and a very strong one. I fall short of accomplishing this everyday of my life...but I believe the answer is in trying.

I believe there are many ways God reaches out to us, depending on where and when we are born. One of the most spiritual people I have ever had the honour to call my friend was the Dakota Sioux, Floyd "Red Crow" Westerman...he was vocal regarding those who he felt were responsible for the horrors inflicted on his people so many years ago. He himself had been taken off the reservation as a young child and forced into one of the special schools designed to assimilate Native Americans into the white man's way of life. He was forbidden to speak his native tongue...he was vocal, but not bitter and Floyd emanated a sense of forgiveness and healing, and he was humble but strong at the same time. 

The east Indian mystic Parashana Yoginanda was also, I believe, in touch with the Holy Spirit. Most other major religions were spawned from some sort of mystical experience, but have been corrupted and manipulated by man through the years. However, you will always find those good and humble people within that are truly close to God. 

Jeannette and I worked closely with Catholic Liberation Theologists, who were at odds with Rome in how they viewed the poor and downtrodden of Central America during the 1980s. Father George Dyer and many nuns quietly put their lives on the line to help the Mayan Indians of Central America who were systematically being slaughtered by right wing dictatorships descended from Spanish Conquistadors. These dictatorships represented the ruling families and their offshoots who were trying to preserve their power and wealth using any means possible. They were also supported by US President Ronald Reagan's administration. The opposite of President Carter who had threatened to cut off aid to Guatemala unless they improved their human rights record. Eighty percent of the country's population was and still is comprised of people of Mayan descent living in dire poverty. 

Father Stanley Rothers from Oklahoma was murdered one night in his church. Previously he had been threatened by government right wing death squads for sheltering Mayan Indians in his mission in Santiago, Atitlan, Guatemala. He had consequently returned to Oklahoma...but his love for the Mayas and the danger he knew they were in impelled him to return to his mission in the mountains. This quiet spoken man had found the strength to return to extreme danger, in spite of serious death threats, through prayer and his faith in God. I have since visited the room in the mission he was murdered intensely moving experience, especially after I was shown his blood stains on the wall. He had obviously put up a struggle. The Guatemalan government tried to say he had been murdered by local Mayans in Santiago, Atitlan. But the villagers loved him, and unlike the Maya's who are relatively small in stature, the suspected attacker, or attackers who had been seen in the village earlier that day in their Toyota Jeep were tall. They towered above the Mayans. The right wing Guatemalan death squads of the 1980s usually drove Toyota Jeeps.

 This is where I'm at in my lifelong spiritual journey at the moment...this is of course subject to modification as my trek continues. But I know the power and love of what I saw that dark and stormy night in Westerham, Kent, England...and even though I don't pretend to understand it....nobody can ever take that profound, metaphysical experience away from me.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

David Hume, the Big Bang and the Resurrection

David Hume (1711-1776) was a philosopher at a time when the universe seemed to be governed by mechanical laws such as those of Newton and Kepler, discovered or as yet undiscovered, and eternal. Miraculous events did not fit into this tidy eternal clockwork scheme and therefore, he concluded, they had not happened. Reports of miracles were immeasurably more likely to be the result of ‘knavery and folly’ than a supernatural agent. My understanding is that he did not directly question the Resurrection but his followers, with questionable logic, saw this as a consequence.

Yet, as St Augustine of Hippo (354-430 AD)  stated, anyone seeing the universe for the first time, fresh and free of the bias of trivial everyday life and habits of mind, would witness a miracle. Every child witnesses such a miracle. Plato said something similar in his cave allegory as did Aristotle when he envisaged underground beings emerging into the light of day. The same would apply to beings on a planet permanently shrouded in cloud and seeing the planets and stars moving in an orderly way from night to night (assuming the planet had such celestial order in its sky) as the cloud cleared for the first time. 

Recently I learned of a woman who gained her hearing after being born deaf. From her reaction on the YouTube video she obviously saw this as a miraculous event. In the last analysis it was because the skills, logic and technology needed to make this happen originated outside the universe, beyond space and time and so not able to be investigated by science.

In our time the universe seems stupendously miraculous in two ways which cannot be obscured by the fog of mechanistic scientism or deadened by day-to-day trivia.

  1. It is precision engineered to allow sentient beings to come into existence in our particular part of space and time.

  1. It started from outside of space and time i.e. from outside the dimensions in which we exist.

Both Augustine and David Hume, if they were alive today, would, I suspect, find the revolution in physics and cosmology through the 20th century truly miraculous.

After Hume mechanistic science continued to develop up to the early 20th century. Then Einstein showed the extraordinary nature of space-time and Heisenberg et al introduced us to the bizarre phenomena of the quantum world. Then Lematraire, Hubble and others came up with the theory that the universe, including space, time, energy and matter, came into existence in a Big Bang where there had been nothingness. This theory has been progressively verified with empirical evidence over the last 80 years.  Even without black holes, dark matter, dark energy and  mathematical suggestions of extra dimensions, our existence would be stranger than any pre-20th century person could have envisaged. See Deep mystery of existence.

Biology has radically transformed in the last few decades, leaving the reductionist Darwinism, which started in the mid nineteenth century, at best inadequate to explain, among much else,  the gulf between inanimate matter and the  purposeful trillion atom complexity of the first  organisms (cells without nuclei) or the rapid evolution of the first therapod dinosaur in only 10,000 years after the mass extinction of 201.564 million years ago.

Thus whatever led to all this, and to us having inbuilt senses of justice, good and evil , a desire to survive, thrive and seek truth, and with a whole panoply of means to accomplish good or evil -reason, science, philosophy, psychology, medicine, counseling, sociology, politics, rhetoric, democracy, physical strength, creativity, empathy, art, music, literature, drama, humour, manual dexterity, interpersonal skills, leadership, charisma, sport and much else – must have at some point made a free decision and have the property of personhood. I call it God, moreover a God that cares about the end point of his Creation enough to intervene in our world and make a course correction after we had gone astray through our free will decisions.

The  Resurrection of Jesus was the means to this. It is was witnessed many times in the month or so between the Crucifixion, and the Ascension, sometimes by a single person, sometimes by several and on at least one occasion by 500. All the accounts in the Bible were written down in Koine Greek 300 years before the Roman church was established. They were written down at a time when the spoken word was accurately remembered. Rabbis could often recite the entire Old Testament from memory. Moreover there were numerous people around to question the accounts.

That Jesus was more than a good man is beyond question. He claimed to be the Son of God, so if this was not the case he was a madman. Yet a madman would not have been taken seriously as a threat to the Jewish and Roman establishments. More importantly he could not have come up with the earth-shattering wisdom that transformed history and on which liberal non-believers now base their 'beliefs' in human rights and freedom without even being aware of where these beliefs come from.