Science and the Reenchantment of the Cosmos


Science and the Reenchantment of the CosmosThe Rise of the Integral Vision of Reality, Rochester: Inner Traditions, 2006.

The present is a sampler, not completely authored, but edited by Ervin Laszlo. But that’s surely not a disadvantage. The book starts with a statement that really made me happy. I have never believed in the big bang theory, as this theory is not in accordance with the principle of smooth continuity that can be observed in all of nature.

I believe that there was never a beginning of life, and that there will never be an end. We know perhaps more about the future of our galaxies, we know about the folding back of the universe upon itself, which can be seen both as end and a new beginning, both as death and as a new birth. For in nature, nothing ever dies without something else becoming manifest. So with this natural principle in mind, there can logically not be a single timelined event called big bang. It’s a typical assumption of modern-day scientists that betrays their hopelessly linear thinking.

The widespread idea—that all there is in the universe is matter, and that all matter was created in the Big Bang and will disappear in a Big Crunch—is a colossal mistake. And the belief that when we know how matter behaves we know everything—a belief shared by classical physics and Marxist theory—is but sophistry. Such views have been definitely superseded. The universe is more amazing than classical scientists, engineers, and Marxists held possible. And the connectedness / and oneness of the universe is deeper and more thorough than even writers of science fiction could envisage./1-2

A cosmos that is connected, coherent, and whole recalls an ancient notion that was present in the tradition of every civilization; it is an enchanted cosmos. /2

The reenchantment of the cosmos as a coherent, integral whole comes from the latest discoveries in the natural sciences, but the basic concept itself is not new; indeed, it is as old as civilization. In ages past the connectedness and wholeness of the world was known to medicine men, priests, and shamans, to seers and sages, and to all people who had the courage to look beyond their nose and stay open to what they saw. Theirs, however, was the insight that comes from mystical, religious, or aesthetic experience and was private and unverifiable – even if it appeared certain beyond doubt. Now, in the first decade of the twenty-first century, innovative scientists at the frontiers of science are rediscovering the integral nature of reality. They lift the private experiences that speak to it from the domain of unverifiable intuition into the realm of interpersonally verifiable public knowledge./2

We can live up to our potentials as conscious beings: we can come to know the reenchanted cosmos. Not only is this not impossible, it is not even particularly difficult. Beyond the complex deductions and abstruse mathematics of the new sciences, the basic concept of a coherent, connected, and integral universe is simple and meaningful: indeed, it is beautiful./3

This book consists of three parts, the first two written by Laszlo himself, and the third containing contributions by other authors that I will list further down. The first part, The Reenchantment of the Cosmos is a summary of what Laszlo wrote earlier in Science and the Akashic Field. While this is so, Laszlo somehow explained things still more comprehensively in this summary than I found it expressed in his earlier book. It is actually an extension of the field research, as it deals with biology, not physics, and with the human body. I hold these statements for particularly revealing and important for our future as human beings. Ervin Laszlo writes:

The vital functions of the body are governed by constant, quasi-instant and multidimensional correlations. Simple collisions among neighboring molecules—mere billiard-ball push-impact relations—do not suffice. They are complemented by a network that correlates all parts of the system, even those that are distant from one another. Rare molecules, for example, are seldom next to each other, yet they find each / other throughout the organism. This is important for the organism needs to react to stresses and strains as a whole, mobilizing all its resources wherever they are located. There would not be time for an integrated response to occur by a random process of jiggling and mixing; the molecules need to locate and respond to each other specifically, whether they are proximal or distant. (…) The body’s high level of internal coherence makes possible a high level of sensitivity to the external world. In the insect world a few pheromones in the air are sufficient to attract males to prospective mates many miles away. In the human being the eye can detect single photons falling on the retina, and the ear can detect the motion of single air molecules. The mammalian body responds to extremely low frequency electromagnetic radiation, and to magnetic fields so weak that only the most sophisticated instruments can register them. Such sensitivity is only possible when a large number of molecules are coherently linked among themselves./8-9

Very important in this chapter is also Laszlo’s fundamental criticism of Darwinism, and here I would like to remind that Fritjof Capra, too, has forwarded substantial arguments that disprove the assumption of random mutations. Laszlo writes:

Living organisms are so finely tuned to their milieu that any mutation of their genome resulting from random / alterations will almost certainly reduce rather than enhance the viability of a species. Random mutations would end up by impairing fitness to the point where the species could no longer survive.
However, the biosphere is populated by a vast number of complex species, the result of a long series of successful genetic mutations. This indicates that mutations in the genome are not always piecemeal and random, but are sometimes massive and systemic. If they are to be successful, the mutating elements of the genome must be highly coordinated among themselves, and must likewise be in harmony with the conditions in which the species finds itself. This suggests that the mutating genome is not fully isolated from the phenome and the environment in which the phenome finds itself. But to claim this is heresy for Darwinism, even in its current form known as the ‘synthetic theory.’/15-16

Under ‘The Coherence of the Human Mind and the Universe’, Laszlo then provides striking scientific evidence of psychic phenomena. The first feat to mention here is the synchronization of brain waves that was observed in groups during meditation. Laszlo writes:

The experiments show that as people enter an altered state of consciousness—in deep meditation or prayer—the electrical activity of the left and right frontal hemispheres of their brain becomes synchronized. Still more remarkable, the electroencephalograph (EEG) patterns of the left and right brain hemispheres of an entire group of persons can become synchronized with one another. In repeated tests up to twelve meditators achieved a 50 to 70 percent synchronization of their EEG waves while sitting in deep meditation in complete silence, with closed eyes and no sensory contact with each other./18

Separative Western culture has never really fostered coherence in people and between people, while for example Japanese culture does very much stress, and positively value, the fact that people in a group act in some coherent, organized, and mutually supportive way—not just each for himself or herself. I have vividly seen this happening when last time in the train from the airport to downtown Tokyo.

There was a moment about halfway the distance when one person in the compartment was falling asleep. It was very visible, as the person had their head just hanging down, in a very carefree yet relaxed position. And to my great surprise, about five minutes later all other Japanese were sleeping. I felt as if being in a movie. And when about half an hour later one of the people woke up, about five minutes later all were awake again. Now you have to see that these people were not a group, were not people who knew each other, and had been randomly put, due to prior reservations, in that compartment. I also wondered why my brain was not affected and I did not feel sleepy, while the whole compartment was asleep. And here we read:

A growing storehouse of evidence indicates that when the brain functions coherently, consciousness is not limited to the signals conveyed by the senses. This is a surprise to modern people who view extra- or non-sensory perception with skepticism, but it is not surprising for other cultures. Traditional tribes knew and actively used some form of extrasensory perception in their daily life. Shamans and medicine men could induce the altered state of consciousness where spontaneous information-transmission becomes possible, and their spiritual powers appear to have been a consequence of this state./19

We thus have to conclude that, because they are more coherent in their relatedness, Japanese have higher extrasensory perception abilities than people from our own culture. And there was another information I picked up in Japan. It was about earthquakes. I had heard that earthquakes are very frequent in some parts of Japan but that there is hardly ever any damage, let alone human suffering as a result. I asked why. I got to hear that first of all in these regions houses were built from very light material, virtually paper, carton and wood, and do not contain heavy objects, nor lamps hung at the ceiling, and that besides the people were very well organized in their community spirit. That they also had a strong intuition, sensing the quake coming, and doing all preparations needed, always in joint-effort, so that all major damage was avoided. Whereupon I tried to imagine how this would be like in a Western country …

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