Practicing Self-Inquiry

As a follow-on to my previous post, while traditional spiritual practices, such as meditation and yoga, can help us resolve the great existential crisis facing humanity today, if we are to fully understand what is happening to our species, we need to look inwards, practicing self-inquiry. In this way, we would be following the maxim that seven wise men inscribed on the temple of Apollo at Delphi: “Know thyself,” Plato tells us in Protagoras. In a similar fashion, when Neo visited the Oracle in the popular movie The Matrix, hanging on the kitchen wall was a sign saying Temet Nosce ‘Know yourself.’

Socrates highlighted the need for self-inquiry at his trial for corrupting the youth of Athens, saying, “An unexamined life is not worth living.” Then, when he was given the choice of whether or not to accept the death penalty advocated by the democracy, he said, “I would rather die having spoken after my manner, than speak in your manner and live.”

Therein lies the central issue of our times. Democracies, acting as tyrannous majorities—as Alexis de Tocqueville and John Stuart Mill pointed out in the mid 1800s—do not generally understand why they behave as they do. They mostly live in fear and ignorance.

But neither can traditional materialistic and mechanistic approaches to science and mathematics—denying the fundamental law of the Universe—help us answer the most critical of the unanswered questions in science: What is causing scientists and technologists, aided and abetted by computer technology, to drive the pace of scientific discovery and technological development at unprecedented exponential rates of acceleration?

We can see this most clearly in The Psychology of Invention in the Mathematical Field, by Jaques Hadamard, who, in 1945, conducted a survey of some of the leading mathematicians of his day into how they develop their ideas. Hadamard published a letter from Albert Einstein about how his concepts emerge in consciousness, beginning,

The words or the language, as they are written or spoken, do not seem to play any role in my mechanism (sic) of thought. The physical entities (sic) which seem to serve as elements in thought are certain signs and more or less clear images which can be ‘voluntarily’ reproduced and combined.

Similarly, Stephen W. Hawking said in A Brief History of Time, perhaps with tongue in cheek, “we have, as yet, had little success in predicting human behaviour from mathematical equations!”

So, what to do? Well, some spiritual teachers, such as Thomas Hübl, founder of the Academy of Inner Science, is planning to lead a community gathering within the auspices of Science and Nonduality (SAND) conferences on 28th March 2020, with this theme:

We are living through a global challenge where collective trauma layers are being reactivated. It’s important that we meet this moment with presence: honouring our fear while awakening the resilience that has been transmitted from our ancestors who survived crises in the past.

We can choose to raise our awareness—to create mutual support and collaboration, find a new vision, and fully embody our potential.

I am sure that this event could help many in their healing activities. However, in itself, it doesn’t address the central issue facing us all. SAND-20 in Italy, scheduled for July, has this invitation: “Join our annual gathering in Italy for six inspiring days of exploration, experience and celebration of this mystery we call life.” However, no one in the planned programme, which may not take place because of the COVID-19 pandemic, addresses how we could demystify the mystery of life and being.

So, as the most advanced studies of inner science do not tell us how to map the Cosmic Psyche in its entirety, they cannot help us to understand what it means to be human, where we have come from, and where we are all heading at breakneck speeds. If we are thus unable to awaken to Total Revolution, as Vimala Thakar urged us to do, does this then mean that Homo sapiens ‘wise human’ is destined to become extinct in the near-term without more than a few liberated, awakened beings realizing their fullest potential as superintelligent humans?

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