Science and spirituality - The Global Brain
by Kavita Byrd
The Unified Field of Consciousness is an idea whose time has come – urgently, and with a unique potential to bring healing and unity into our fragmented, crisis-torn world. It is an idea whose time has come, but it is perhaps the oldest idea in the world – as old as the most ancient scriptures, and probably much before them. However, it has been covered up, and suppressed in modern cultures. Today, when pressed once again into action by the very crises its neglect engendered, it has come full circle. Today this ancient understanding has been recognised again, not only as a social and spiritual imperative, but also as scientific fact, corroborated by exciting new research
from a growing number of interdisciplinary fields.
What does it mean to say that the world is a unified field of consciousness? The ancient scriptures tell us that consciousness, energy, and matter are one. The unified consciousness that is the source of the universe, expresses itself as energy waves of different frequencies, which in turn interact to manifest as subtle and gross forms. This gives the appearance of solid, separate persons and objects, but all are in fact emanations of the one underlying universal consciousness.
To the Eastern mind this is nothing new – in fact, it is the perennial, primordial truth of the universe. To the Western mind, however, conditioned to a strongly materialistic and individualistic worldview – and perhaps to some Eastern minds today with a Western-influenced education – this vision, and its implications, can be mind-blowing.
The beauty of it is that it blows away all divisions, divisions between east and west, spirituality and science, religious dogmas and terminologies – and points directly to our universal essence, that which unites rather than divides us. At the intersection of all religious and ethical cultures, this essential principle of interconnection and oneness – expressed in plain, universal language, and scientifically verified – may prove to be the most powerful vehicle for the healing of our world and ourselves.
But a principle is a principle, to be potent and transformative; it must have direct and practical applications. The principle of the unified field of consciousness has exactly that, implications that can revolutionise our approach not only to spirituality but personal and global transformation. This includes direct applications to healing of our personal wounds of separation, both spiritual and psychological, as well as at the wider social, economic, and ecological levels.
In the western world, the non-dual spiritual teachings, based on Advaita Vedanta and certain streams of Buddhism, have been increasingly embraced, offering truth-seekers a liberating alternative to the options of divisive religious fundamentalism or soul-numbing materialism around them. “Engaged spirituality” (or “spiritual activism”) is another rapidly growing movement. It takes the core realisation of interconnection and oneness a vital step further, into social action, transforming our political, economic, and ecological structures in accordance with a deep recognition of our interdependent existence.
As part of this growing trend towards wholeness, groups of women around the world have also been actively working to instil the feminine values of interconnection, compassionate action and reverence for the whole web of life into spirituality and society. The Global Peace Initiative of Women, for instance, takes a distinctly spiritual yet non-partisan approach to international peace making, emphasising our essential spiritual unity beneath the surface differences of nation, gender, and religion
These movements radically dissolve dogma and divisions, distilling the universal essence of truth, of interconnection and oneness that unites all spiritual paths, and at the same time uniting inner realisation with outer action.
Meanwhile, for those with a more secular turn of mind, modern science has been confirming this vision, giving it even greater momentum in the collective consciousness. Physicists and biofield researchers have exposed the energetic underpinnings of interconnection and oneness, revealing that we are all interconnected with each other and our world in a vast energetic web, affecting each other instantly, even across long distances, through quantum, ‘non-local’ connections.
It is variously called the “global brain” (Peter Russell), “the holographic universe” (Michael Talbot) and the “self-aware universe” (Amit Goswami). Danah Zohar in The Quantum Self speaks of the “zero-point field”, a field of pure potentiality from which energy and form arise, interchangeably, as waves collapse into particles on observation and back again. This fluid field, like a self-unfolding spectrum, spans the levels of pure consciousness, energy, and all the forms that arise as a result of their interactions; in other words, all forms, including our own, are interconnected within this one consciousness, from which they emerge, to which they return, and which in fact they never leave at all.
The ancient scriptures tell us that
consciousness, energy, and matter are one Hindus will instantly recognise this as Brahman, as Universal Self, or as the Divine Mother. “That is fullness, this is fullness, fullness comes out of fullness; if fullness is taken from fullness, still fullness remains” (Yajurveda), a most profound expression of the unity of all existence, echoes every day through prayers and pujas in India. Sufis see it as the one light that shines through many lamps. Buddhists will recognise it as the primordial Buddha field, and Taoists as the pure ground of being, or the mother of all things.
It has always been there, underlying all true religions and our own consciousness. But today both in the east and west, and in light of the violent divisions pervading society today, this emerging recognition of the invisible web of unity which connects us all has enormous ramifications for both personal and planetary healing. In the west, it is being explored from a number of converging angles. Lynne McTaggart, in her book, Living the Field has documented fascinating experiments on the power of healing intention projected across long distances, both to alleviate personal illness and international political crises. Research conducted by Richard Davidson, in association with the Dalai Lama, confirms the power of compassionate meditation to heal and harmonise others and the environment around us, re-setting frequencies in the field by the power of the mental focus and intention.
Daniel Siegel is investigating a completely new field called interpersonal neurobiology, which confirms at another level the unity of consciousness suggested by quantum physics. Through the agency of ‘mirror neurons’ in the brain, Siegel says, we are each continually shaping and being shaped by the field of shared consciousness constantly flowing between us. Further, he has shown that the greater the integration between the levels of consciousness within us (intrapersonal attunement), the greater our harmonising effect on the energies of those in the field around us (interpersonal attunement). As we find peace and unity within ourselves, we automatically b egin to bring peace and unity in our environment.
Holographic theory reveals, like the ancient vision of the net of Indra, that each of us is like a mirrored bead in the vast web of the universe, containing, and reflecting back the whole. The power of compassion and the intent to attune to the whole, opens us up to the support of the cosmos, and measurably enables us to entrain divisive energies in the field around us into greater synchrony and coherence.
When we shift our identification to the field and the flow rather than defending our own imagined individual boundaries, healing begins to take place on all levels. We open to the bounty of the universe; we support and are supported by the whole. We recognise that we are the whole, and our mode of being in the world shifts from one of competition to co-operation and communion.
A wake-up call
If it is truly taken to heart, our realisation of oneness takes expression not only on the conceptual, not only on the subtle, but also on the material level of our existence. Gross mal-distributions of the earth’s wealth and resources cannot co-exist with a true vision of interdependence. At the social and economic levels, we seek to equalise the distribution of resources in our global society. If we are taking more than our share of resources, we seek to simplify our lifestyle. If the work we are doing exploits the labour or rights of others, or profits us more than it serves others, we look for work that genuinely serves the interests of the whole.
We support the implementation of political and economic structures that ensure that all have their basic human needs and rights fulfilled, that all are safe and healthy and have maximum opportunity to develop their highest potential. We withdraw our participation and energy from structures that generate greed, limitless desires, and the huge disparities of wealth that characterise today’s global society.
Perhaps more dramatically than at any other level, the ecological crises facing us at this time demonstrate the catastrophic effects of ignoring the essential truth of our interdependence. Pursuing narrow self-interests politically and economically has led to disastrous consequences for ourselves and our earth. Violating the earth, sky, waters, and the entire ecosystem that supports us, we have cut ourselves off from our very lifestream, and threaten the survival of the entire planet. The imminence of the effects of global warming, in particular, has shaken many out of their complacency. Global warming is a global warning, impossible at this point to ignore: recognise we are one, act as one – or perish.
Interconnection and oneness are not just words. If taken in deeply, they have profound implications for the way we live and act in the world.
The crises of today’s world are not accidental. They are certainly a wake-up call, pushing us towards the recognition that we are all interconnected, and that if we continue to act as if we were not, we threaten ourselves with our own extinction. The political crises of terrorism and fundamentalist violence, the economic crises of corporate corruption and the financial meltdown, the ecological crises of global warming, fuel and water shortages, and life-destroying pollution – all point to the same thing. We cannot survive unless we start to honour that we are truly all one, to recognise the interconnected nature of our existence, with each other as well as with nature, which our ancestors knew so well. It is not only spiritual truth, but, at this point, essential to the survival of our planet.
A student of Advaita Vedanta, yoga teacher, writer, and craniosacral therapist, Kavita is working to create a living interspiritual community bringing in the values of the feminine.
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