more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in
best things in life aren’t things.
materialism is a strange philosophy for everyone to be attached
to . . . Why should it be the preferred philosophy? Of
all the philosophies, it’s the one that allows the least hope
relative to any matter whatsoever! If it were so — well, that’s
that, that’s the way it is. But why should one hope that
it is the one that turns out to be so? Why should one so much
want it to be so that one is moved to presently affirm that
it’s already so, even though you haven’t really found
out that it’s so yet? . . . Rather than just willing to have
it be that way or whatever way it is, but here just to find
out the way it really is, and not anything other than that.
overwhelmingly predominant view these days — the one with the political
and cultural clout as well as the philosophical influence — is that
of scientific materialism. We
cannot even begin to talk about alternative views that do include
a Greater Reality, without acknowledging the power and influence
held by the view that openly denies or strongly doubts that any
non-material reality exists.
materialism: the naive realism of sense and "common sense"
— The simplest
form of materialism says reality is exclusively that which appears
to the five material senses. The basic methodology by which
materialism justifies itself is that of naive
realism: “what you see [or hear, or smell, or taste,
or touch] is what you get [or all that is real].”
materialism: amplifying sense and common sense through technology
— Scientific materialism augments materialism in a specific way:
reality also includes whatever is directly perceivable via (or
directly inferable from) scientific instrumentation used in carefully
controlled experiments. Thus even though the immediate senses
cannot detect radioactivity, scientific instrumentation can, and
thus radioactivity is also considered “real” by scientific materialists.
potential within the materialistic view
— Within the view of materialism, our most obvious human potential
is to be as self-fulfilled as possible (via the available materialistic
means) while we are still alive. Fulfillment is in human (not
Spiritual) terms: bodily pleasure and emotional contentment. Because
nothing significant can be said about what happens after one dies
within this viewpoint, no consideration is given to what consequence
living solely to fulfill oneself has on one’s destiny after death.
There is no absolute address to the problem of human suffering
ot unhappiness; but it is presumed that increasingly greater understanding
of (and control over) material reality corresponds to a lessening
of human suffering (at least to the degree that that suffering
takes a material form).
of the materialistic view
— In some sense, the primary limitation of materialism is its
“obviousness”. We rely on our senses all the time, to the point
where we place a great deal of trust in those senses. And rightly
so, relative to ordinary functioning and survival: our senses
are constantly keeping us alive, whether we are speeding down
the road in our automobiles and suddenly swerve out of the way
of an unexpected car; or we are spitting out something that tastes
“off”. Why would we want to bad-mouth such good friends as these
five? We are so intimate with (and habituated to) these friends
that there is even an emotional overtone of “obviousness” to everything
they “tell” us. It’s worth recalling how the "apparently obvious"
has been shown to be untrue — the stuff of mere appearance — time
and time again.
which materialism does not account for is the clue to what will
supercede it —
Because paradigm shifts are presaged by that which the current
paradigm cannot account for, it is worth taking a close look at
those aspects of our experience that mainstream scientific materialism
has not adequately accounted for. These include two fundamental
facts of our existence: the nature of human consciousness; and
the nature of human death (and human suffering).
does not account for consciousness
— The phrase, “ghost in the machine”, is used to refer to all
those aspects of human beings that — to date — have not been accounted
for mechanistically (otherwise they’d be a part of the machine).
So this would include a “spirit” or “soul”, and of course, “consciousness”.
There is a view — an esoteric Spiritual (and Transcendental) view
— that does account for the “one / many” dichotomy and the “ghost
in the machine”: the view that our apparently separate “consciousness”
(along with our body-minds, and the material and Spiritual dimensions
altogether) is arising in the One Divine Consciousness, and the
sense of being “one being” (despite being associated with a “body-mind”
machine having countless parts and personalities: a veritable
“society”) is a direct consequence of the One Being being the
inherent True Self of all. The ghost is not in the machine. The
machine is in the Ghost!
does not account for death and suffering
— The inability for materialism to adequately account for this
aspect of oneself called “consciousness” is the reason why death
too has been inadequately accounted for. Materialism suggests
that death is simply when the battery dies and the “body-mind”
machine (thereby) comes to a halt. But if there is a residual
part to a human being beyond the part that has died (the physical
body), then understanding its destiny is of paramount, personal
importance to each of us. Therefore, the inability for materialism
to account for human consciousness raises a big question mark
in the context of our own mortality. If one has any intelligence
one can’t say, “I can’t account for consciousness in material
terms”, and simultaneously say, “Who cares about what happens
after we die? Let’s just eat, drink, and be merry in the meanwhile!”
As a result of our culture's technological frenzy, and as a result
of our mistaking self-fulfillment for happiness, we are a culture
that is increasingly pleasured in body and stimulated in mind,
but increasingly desperate at heart.
freedom of inquiry vs. the politically enforced reductionism of
scientific materialism —
The philosophy of scientific materialism also has
political force in
the sense that it tends to enforce itself as the only acceptable
view on reality. Should you or I actually claim that we have seen
God, or that we have come into contact with a Greater Reality,
we are likely to be subjected to ridicule — either covert or overt;
in our contemporary, scientifically materialistic, Western civilization,
all such experiences have tended to be immediately interpreted
as hallucinatory by-products of the material brain, rather than
evidence of a Greater Reality. But now science itself is developing
to the point where it cannot use that dismissive argument any
more: neurophysiology knows too much about how hallucinations,
delusions, etc. are produced, and can no longer claim that spiritual
experiences are hallucinations or delusions, when neurophysiological
studies of the human brain during such experiences indicate otherwise.