Kindred spirits

It has been said that we know people by the company they keep. In my case, as an evolutionary pioneer living mostly outside society as it has been constituted during my lifetime, my closest friends have been a few kindred spirits who have lived similar lives in relationship to their times.

Not everybody made it. Here are a few examples:

  1. Socrates was executed for ‘corrupting the youth of Athens’, saying at his trial, “I would rather die having spoken after my manner, than speak in your manner and live.”
  2. Mansur al-Hallaj and Giordano Bruno suffered even more gruesome deaths for declaring their union with the Divine, regarded as heresy by the Abrahamic religions.
  3. Galileo Galilei was imprisoned, albeit in a luxurious villa, for arrogantly refusing to read Johannes Kepler’s books New Astronomy and The Harmony of the World, which describe the three fundamental laws of planetary motion.
  4. Ignaz Semmelweiss went mad when his colleagues refused to wash their hands in chlorinated lime water before entering their maternity wards, actions that could reduce deaths of puerperal fever to a tiny fraction, denouncing his opponents as murderers.
  5. David Bohm suffered severe depression in old age because his theory of the implicate order, which unifies quantum and relativity theories, went mostly unrecognized by his fellow physicists in his lifetime.

As Arthur Koestler said in The Act of Creation, the martyrology of science contains a number of conspicuous cases that ended in tragedy, going on to say in his inimitable manner, “we have no record of the countless lesser tragedies, no statistics on the numbers of lives wasted in frustration and despair, of discoveries which passed unnoticed. The history of science has its Pantheon of celebrated revolutionaries—and its catacombs, where the unsuccessful rebels lie, anonymous and forgotten.” As a rebellious mathematical scientist of the mind and consciousness, I too have suffered much from frustration and despair over the years, much helped by knowing that my situation is not unique.

In addition to many spiritual teachers, both from the past and those I have met, Anthony Storr’s books The Dynamics of Creation and Solitude, originally titled The School of Genius, have been particularly helpful in this healing process. As he writes in Solitude, “The majority of poets, novelists, composers, and, to a lesser extent, of painters and sculptors, are bound to spend a great deal of time alone,” quoting Edward Gibbon as saying, “Conversation enriches the understanding, but solitude is the school of genius; and the uniformity of a work denotes the hand of a single artist.”

I don’t include my spiritual teachers, from the anonymous Rishis in the Indus Valley to modern mystics, for they are all saying essentially the same thing in different words, which Isaac Newton and Gottfried Leibniz knew as philosophia perennis and prisca sapientia, respectively.

As Osho said in The Book of Secrets, the first of his many books of transcribed discourses, anyone can become a Buddha, for you are already a Buddha, only unaware. But “You are not already an Einstein.” To be like him, “First you will have to find the same parents, because the training begins in the womb,” which is impossible. “How can you find the same parents, the same date of birth, the same home, the same associates, the same friends?” So as individuals, we are all unique. As Osho said, “whatsoever you do, your past will be in it,” a past that cannot be repeated by anyone else in exactly the same way. On the other hand, anyone can become a Buddha, because all you need to do is uncover what is already there.

On this menu, in order to help people know me a little better as a human being, I provide a page on a few of the kindred spirits whose lives and ideas have kept me company over the years. Most notably, these are Heraclitus, Johannes Kepler, Jan Ámos Komenský (Comenius), Isaac Newton, Charles DarwinGeorge and Mary Boole, Ada LovelaceCharles Sanders Peirce, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Carl Gustav Jung, Albert Einstein, Erich Fromm, Joseph Campbell, Arthur Koestler, and David Bohm.

To give the historical background to earlier attempts to solve the ultimate problem of human learning, I mention some of these influences in my book The Theory of Everything, adding a few other names, such as Roger and Francis Bacon, René Descartes, Leonhard Euler, and Ted Codd. There I also provide a short history of mathematical logic and scientific method, describing their weaknesses and how these are resolved with Integral Relational Logic.

Of course, my contemporaries have also been of enormous influence, particularly Ken Wilber and Peter Russell, who studied mathematics and physics at the same high school as me, albeit four years later, Peter being 1,446 days younger. But as I am challenging some of the assumptions and social constructs of similarly-minded evolutionary leaders and scientific revolutionaries, I cannot say that they are like-minded kindred spirits and so have not been able to connect with them over the years. But everything happens when the time is right.