Universal Life Church - MASTER OF SPIRITUALISM DEGREE
History of Western Thought
Universal Life Church Seminary
Master of Spiritualism - Lesson #3
History of Western Thought - Existentialism
Welcome to the Course Sample of Defining Spiritualism. This is a sample of this amazing course on Spiritualism -- the history and philosophies that permeate our society.
Last week we went through a brief history of western thought beginning with the Greeks and ending with a mechanized view of the universe, in which everything was seen as some giant machine that could in time be completely understood.This week we will see how that idea ran into difficulty. We will then learn how mysticism was recognized by science as being the ultimate truth of all things.
I must address the philosophical idea of existentialism at this point because this philosophy has become predominate in our society and it is therefore important to take a moment to speak of it.It is difficult to say how and when exactly existentialism began, but one of the greatest philosophers of early existentialism is a man named was Nietzche.
Nietzche lived in the 1800s and wrote, extensively, regarding the new developments in philosophy.At that time, science was coming to know ‘everything’ there was to know. ‘Everything’ was thought to be a complex machine that began as a collection of matter, which had a beginning, and would one day come to an end. With this knowledge at a starting point, Neitzche presented his famous statement that “God is dead.”
In many ways he was correct, for the mind of man had learned so much that God was fast becoming unnecessary.Neitzche threw out any and all old moral beliefs and reduced man and morality to a simple will to power.Everything, he thought, was about power and everything people did was a result of their desire for power.
Even kind acts were seen in terms of how they benefited the power of those who committed the supposed kindness.If I do something nice for you, the thinking goes, I am only doing so because of some benefit to me.The concept of altruism—the idea that a person will do something good for another for the sake of the act itself—no longer existed in this concept of the world.
This led to further refinement up to our day.Existentialism is the idea that existence came first and everything else is derived from that existence.The current thought regarding existentialism is this: the big bang created the universe.
·Matter ultimately contracted and generated heat, which ignited, forming the stars.
·Stars die in massive explosions scattering the elements they are made of out into space.
·Gravity causes these elements to collect into new stars and into planets.
·Our planet condensed and the elements combined forming life.
·That life evolved until at long last man evolved conscious thought.
·Because man recognized his own mortality, he created concepts such as God and mysticism to appease his own ego, an ego that both feared death and could not understand its own mortality.
·This collection of stardust that we call man will one day be dispersed into the nothingness from whence it came.
This is a radical shift from the idea of Descartes.Descartes may have reduced the universe to a giant machine, but he still saw consciousness as coming first when he said his famous, “I think, therefore I am.”This statement implies that the soul of man came first and that all other things followed.The philosophical idea of our day says that matter came first and God and all spiritual ideas are simple fantasies of the collection of matter we call man.
There is a terrible problem with this concept of the world in that there can be no basis for any kind of morality.Think about this for a moment.If I am comprised of nothing but a collection of atoms that will one day disburse into the nothingness of space, then the act of killing another has no moral meaning.If I kill you, I am not killing the vessel through which your soul experiences life; I am simply rearranging atoms that have no meaning other than that which we imagine them to have.One day our sun will explode and everything we ever did will be as if it never happened and it will have no meaning whatsoever.
This is the great failure of science.Science acts as if all things can be known by the mind of man; it then turns right around and says that man is a meaningless collection of stardust.On the one hand, man is god-like in his ability to know; on the other hand man is nothing and will never be anything.Science denies meaning in the life of man.
This utter lack of meaning is known as nihilism.Nothing can ever have any meaning because meaning is imagined and not real.We are a collection of matter that has deluded ourselves into thinking there is such a thing as a soul and as meaning, when really, we are nothing.This is the only rational reality for the scientifically minded person to conclude if he or she is honest.This represents an opportunity for our ministry.
These people, as all people, need meaning.Without meaning, there is no reason to get out of bed.Why struggle through the suffering of life if there is no meaning?It would make more sense to simply kill oneself.Why suffer, when death brings the ultimate end to suffering?This conclusion, as it turns out, is based on a lack of knowledge regarding the true reality of human existence.Existentialism is actually a fraud.
The shift away from this thinking began with Einstein and his theory of relativity.This was a major step toward viewing the universe in relative terms as opposed to concrete, mechanical terms.Science continued to progress to the point that Werner Heisenberg discovered the true nature of matter and changed the world.
**It turns out that the Greek Democritus was very close to the reality of all things.His atoms were not the basic building blocks of everything as the atom is itself made up of smaller pieces of matter.But those small pieces were very much like the idea of the atom posited by Democritus.Ultimately there are no ‘smallest’ pieces of matter.There are only things physicists call 'wave packets' that take on the property of matter.Matter is energy contained in discrete units.And even more amazing is the fact that this energy or wave packet takes on the form it does through an interaction with conscious thought.We have learned that the universe takes on the shape and form that it does through an interaction of mind and energy to create the matter that is.
This ties in quite well with mysticism in that if the mind of man can imagine it, it will come to be. This is not unlike what Jesus said when he told his followers that “if you have faith the size of a mustard seed you could move a mountain.”This is not just metaphorically true; it is a physical reality.Our minds interact with the energy of the universe to create our world.
There was a recent experiment at Princeton University , in which the engineering department asked volunteers to think about changing the outcome of a random number generator (a computer device). The result was that the outcome was altered in a way that should be statistically impossible.
All we have to do is imagine something and it will be!
Another experiment used a computer controlled robotic arm that performed a task.It takes this arm about 25 movements to pick up an object and move it.However, if a person simply concentrates on the robotic arm, this can be reduced to as few movements as two.This is an example of mind changing reality.
So why can’t we move a mountain?We can if we believe we can.The problem is that we may not have sufficient faith individually to do something like that.Remember that the collective mind energy of all mankind is interacting with energy to create our world.We would have to have sufficient faith to overcome that collective memory if we wanted to move a mountain.But if we work together and all focus our collective mind energy on one certain thing, we can make it happen.
This is what science does.Science is a method where the collective minds of millions of people are focused to create miracles.Science does not discover the world that is; it instead channels mind energy to create the world that is.For this reason science is like every other religion.The miracles of science are miracles in every sense of the word.
When the scientifically minded says that he only believes in “hard science,” or, “In things that can be objectively proven,” he is saying something that has no meaning.Science is completely subjective and it is a tool born of the mind of man.Science is as faith based as any religion that ever was.It works as well as it does, not because it has discovered the real mechanisms of the universe, but because it focuses the minds of people to create the mechanisms of the universe.
Science is a method where the collective minds of millions of people are focused to create miracles.
This demonstrates how the bias toward science and against spiritualism is silly.When we look back in time and we hear of the miracles done by people such as Jesus, we now see that those miracles would be entirely possible if only the people of the day believed it to be so.We could even look back at legends such as King Arthur or other Mythological stories and see that they could be absolute fact.Dragons would exist in a world in which men believed them to exist.Magic would exist in a world in which men believed it to exist.Magic is a good example because in today’s world, it has less power because so few people believe in it.If, however, we could convince the majority that it was real, then all manner of magical things such as what Merlin was purported to do would be possible again.
But then magic does still exist.We just call it a different name.We can fly through the air because we understand aerodynamics.What this really means is that we imagined a force that could lift one hundred ton hunks of steel into the air and then called it aerodynamics.This is a miracle, but we call it science and believe it to be objectively real.Had we wanted to, we could have imagined something such as ‘humandynamics’ and floated ourselves wherever we wanted to go.
All scientific progress begins with imagination.
A scientist imagines something; he then publishes his idea.Others start to think about it.It becomes more and more popular so that many more minds think about it.The collective energies of the multiple minds ultimately interact with the universal energy and then it becomes real.Think about Star Trek.Many of the wild ideas presented in that show have already come to pass.Our phones now are smaller than the communicators used in the original show.The difference between scientific miracles and miracles of old is that scientific miracles are collective—they utilize many minds to make themselves real—as opposed to the older miracles that were performed by individuals.
This is the true reality of our world.We can now see that psychic ability would be a simple interaction of mind with the universal energy.There is nothing in science that can deny that these things are possible and in fact, even science is beginning to take such claims as paranormal experiences and psychic ability seriously.Such experiences will become ever more real as people begin to believe them to be.It is an amazing thing to think of a universe where our minds are limited only by our imagination.We can create anything; we can do anything if we but believe.
This idea fits in with every form of religion, mysticism, mythology or other spiritual idea ever formulated by man.It does not matter which religion you choose because they all point to the same truth.Our goal as ministers is not to tell people what the truth is; it is to help people on their journey to discover the truth for themselves.It matters not if they are Christian, Jewish, Pagan, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu or whatever, it only matters that they continue on their own personal journey of discovery.
We have an obligation to help them, as that is our calling and this is the reason for taking these courses.We must learn something of the religions of all people so that we can help them on their own journey.Even the so-called scientific realist is a person of faith and we must understand the basis of that faith so that we can minister to him or her.
Unfortunately, there are still many people in the world who preach intolerance and destruction.There are many who believe that their religion is the only true one and that all others are born of the devil and are therefore evil.Most wars have been fought over religious differences.Even science guards its beliefs jealously and will ridicule and scorn anyone who calls its faith into question.This is why we must not force our beliefs but should instead simply guide.When people are ready, they will find you.Your goal is to be prepared to help when that happens.
The scientifically minded person will be cautious, skeptical and afraid.He will also be suffering from an absolute loss of meaning in life when he at last seeks you out.This can be a very delicate time because the honest and introspective scientifically minded person will often be on the brink of utter nihilistic despair when he at last comes to you.Never forget that even the scientifically minded person can have a crisis of faith or can lose his religion.
At that time, he is vulnerable and is looking for answers to questions he thought he had already answered.The very foundations of his world will have crumbled beneath him and he will be utterly lost.If you should bombard him with information at this time, he will be driven away.Remember to observe and to listen.Feed him only that which he can swallow.I like to think of Jesus’ ministry and how he only gave what people could handle, a bit at a time.That, I think, is our ultimate goal.
Speak to him about his beliefs and, as he is ready, demonstrate to him in his own language how those beliefs can be expanded, and how even his own science has discovered the truth of spiritualism.Lead him slowly and carefully as he is able.He has trained himself to reflexively reject any discussion of spiritual matters or psychic phenomena. Therefore, we should not confront him with such things as yet.Ultimately, he will come to see that energy and God are the same thing.He will understand that science just gives different names to God.He will see the mistake of separating man from God and from the world and will begin to reconnect himself with the universal energy that is.He will find wholeness.
The homework assignment this week is to think about these discoveries in science and consider how they relate to your own religious beliefs.Keep in mind that science is simply attempting to explain the same thing, just on different terms.By thinking of the parallels to your own beliefs, you will be better able to explain these things to people who think themselves logically minded.Keep in mind that:
·What you call God, science calls energy.
·What you call miracles, science calls discoveries.
·What you call magic, science calls the scientific process.
·What you call faith, science calls objective reality.
As always feel free to email me with any questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.And again, our goal is to find the commonality of all religious beliefs so that we can minister to everyone who seeks truth.This training is more practical than it is spiritual thus far, but that will change somewhat in future lessons.
I still believe that there is a pragmatic side to being a minister.After all, we want spiritual development, but our ministerial responsibilities require us to learn how to guide others as well.This class is focusing on our obligations to others more so than our own spiritual development.But I think this is no less important.I welcome your opinions on this subject.