Other Worlds

Other Worlds

painting by TURGO BASTIEN

As people who are fascinated by the mind, soul, consciousness, etc, our language is replete with things “inner” and things “outer,” things “internal,” and things “external.” This is a bit confusing to those who are accustomed to thinking in a literal fashion. We are not speaking literally, of course. It is not that speaking in this way is bad. It is simply a limitation of our language.

“There is a vast universe within us.” This statement is very true, very inspiring, as long as we are not thinking literally. If this is taken in a thoroughly materialistic fashion, however, it is of no value whatsoever. We enter a different mode of being when we speak this way. It is not the same mode of being as when we say, “The plate is round.” What we think of as “inner” things cannot be expressed in the same way because these belong to another level of reality.

There are multiple levels of reality, myriad levels of being. Empirical reality is only one mode; in fact, it is the lowest form of being. We in the West have forgotten how to think and speak about any other level of reality than what we experience with our five physical senses. This, however, is changing. Everyday, I see more evidence of a change in thought. It seems that more and more people are becoming more aware of deeper, more soulful, ways of thinking. Could this be occurring because our Sun is rising; a transformation of consciousness, foretold of for centuries, is occurring?

The sphere of physical matter is the realm of Malkuth, the tenth sephirot in the Kabbalistic Tree of Life. Even though the realm of empirical reality is the lowest, it is not without Soul. There are great mysteries yet to be discovered in Nature, especially in the way it points, with its plethora of metaphors, to more profound spheres of reality. A good example of this is contained in my essay on Trees.

Western science has been dominated by the materialistic, objective point of view for centuries. We have come to regard any other scientific method as inferior.

Most problematically, meaningful understanding of the world is lost because our ‘objective’ analyses have denied the language of human experience in this cannon of ‘truth’. Meaning however, is manifest only in the context of interrelation. The ‘objective’ lens of the scientist enforces the separation between the observer and the observed and thus denies the web of relationships which we experience in life. It is not surprising then, that nothing remotely resonant with our living experience has emerged out of this vast array of inert information. It is not surprising that we find ourselves in a time of ecological crisis and alienation from nature: through this veil of objectivity we have severed our meaningful relationships with Her, and therefore, the obligation to interact with nature responsibly. How then do we transcend this mechanistic world view and heal our relationship to the earth (Natasha Myers, Exploring Goethean Science)?

There is a different path, however, to science. Johann Wolfgang von
Goethe devised a scientific methodology that was more holistic. Goethean science may hold the key to doing true science.

We are always fascinated by how organisms grow. How, for example, does the magnificent beech tree arise from its tiny seed? How do we explain its form as it changes through time? Biologists are always looking for explanations to get at the mechanisms behind the phenomenon. Goethean scientists on the other hand, seek an understanding of processes by delving into the phenomenon experientially (ibid.)

I invite you to read further about Goethe’s scientific methodology. It is truly fascinating and inspirational. Rudolf Steiner expounded Goethe’s ideas, as well, in his own scientific thinking. It is a more phenomenologically and participatory method, where there is no separateness between observer and observed.

“Inner” and “outer” are metaphors that attempt to communicate modes of being which we experience. They are images to assist our understanding. Our culture, when it began to emphasize materiality and causality (“outer” things) grew less and less aware of the higher spheres of being. As science concentrated on cracking the mysteries of physical matter, and, because its methodology could not deal with any other mode of being, it excluded all other realities, deeming them “imaginary.” The more subtle worlds (“inner” things) are much more mysterious to us who are more acclimated to this physical world.

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