Integral Spirituality, Deep Science, and Ecological Awareness
Author: Maxwell, Thomas P.
Source: Zygon, Volume 38, Number 2, June 2003 , pp. 257-276(20)
There is a growing understanding that addressing the global crisis facing humanity will require new methods for knowing, understanding, and valuing the world. Narrow, disciplinary, and reductionist perceptions of reality are proving inadequate for addressing the complex, interconnected problems of the current age. The pervasive Cartesian worldview, which is based on the metaphor of the universe as a machine, promotes fragmentation in our thinking and our perception of the cosmos. This divisive, compartmentalized thinking fosters alienation and self-focused behavior. I aim to show in this essay that healing the fragmentation that is at the root of the current world crises requires an integrated epistemology that embraces both the rational knowledge of scientific empiricism and the inner knowledge of spiritual experience. This “deep science” transcends the illusion of separateness to discern the unity, the unbroken wholeness, that underlies the diverse forms of the universe. Our perception of connectedness, of our integral place in the web of life, emerges as an attribute of our connection with the eternal, beatific source of all existence. This awakened spiritual vision “widens our circle of understanding and compassion, to embrace all living creatures in the whole of nature” (Einstein, quoted in Goldstein  1987). Our behavior, as it emerges naturally out of our perception of the sacredness of the natural world, will naturally embody love and respect for all life forms. This vision promotes the healing of our long-standing alienation from the natural world and offers hope for renewal in the midst of widespread cultural deterioration and environmental destruction.
Keywords: Sufism; awakening; awareness; consciousness; contemplative spirituality; ecological; emergent; enlightenment; fragmentation; holistic; holographic; holomovement; idealist; implicate order; integration; materialism; modern physics; modern science; mystic; mystical; perennial philosophy; quantum mechanics; salvation; scientific materialism; spirituality; synthesis; transcendental; transpersonal; transrational; unity; worldview
Document Type: Research Article
Affiliations: 1Physicist, Eucharistic Minister, and Sufi initiate, currently engaged in interdisciplinary research with Gund Institute for Ecological Economics. Thomas.Maxwell@uvm.edu.
Publication date: 2003-06-01