Saturday, August 20, 2011

Bring a sense of spirit to the Humanities part 2

The conventional approach to the Humanities too often has consisted in rote teaching, memory training and problem solving.  Opening the "inner eye" requires experiencing the "I" as an integrated whole, an ego (Latin for "I") that balances thinking, feeling, and willing.  Increased mastery of this integrative process leads to the ability to distinguish between true intuition and mere whim; between inspiration and empty abstract thought; between creative imagination and disconnected fantasy.

Such personal development goes against the present flow of conventional Western thought.  For 500 years Western civilization has developed itself through the exploration and conquest of the "outer" world.  This progress seems to have come from a scientific materialistic philosophy.  The world viewed with this attitude appears separated from our inner being.  And yet, if one looks more deeply – imagination, inspiration, and intuition – all spiritual, integrative processes, are at the core of our scientific and cultural discoveries.  Einstein, to take one example, has said that he valued his ability to speculate and fantasize above his mathematical skill.  The "new physics" is based on doing away with the old attitude that "I am here and it’s out there."  The observed, say the new physicists studying sub-atomic phenomena, is always changed by the observer.

Yet so much of the way we think and live is structured in dualism, (binary thinking) the commonplace way of thinking in terms of either/or, bad/good, inner/outer.  Whether our faith is in science, progress, God, human nature or government, our outlook is often confined to dualities.  Only enhanced self-knowledge enables us to transcend the temporary illusion of duality and one-sided materialism.  An experience of opening the "I" breaks through to the integration of head, heart and creativity that is the core of all reality – the "patterns of organic energy" with which the Zen masters of ancient China were concerned.

To satisfy the universal need for inner direction many are turning toward gurus, cult figures, drugs and pseudo-Christianity (close-mindedness, intolerance, hatred and violence in the name of Christianity).  People who choose to neglect their own self-development through self-knowledge can become attracted to and become locked into unhealthy, unfree solutions for their doubts, illnesses, insecurities and dissatisfactions.

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