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The Art and Science of Life


The following article was written by Gwen Randall-Young. Gwen is an author and psychotherapist in private practice. For more articles and information on her books and CDs go to www.gwen.ca.

The Art and Science of Life

Despite exciting interdisciplinary encounters, in the western world a schism yet exists between science and spirituality. There is still some discordance between hard evidence about how human life operates, and soft evidence about the meaning, or deeper purpose of life. Interestingly, the schism exists only within the mind of the thinker, who must, of necessity, separate himself (or his perceptions) from the unified whole in order to even formulate his schema. There is a huge difference between Descartes, I think, therefore I am , and the rationalists I think, therefore it is.

Descartes philosophized that it is in thinking that we become aware of our being. It is true that thinking must occur in order for one to realize his or her independent existence. The newborn does not realize existence independent of the Mother. It is also true that as we grow, what we think about ourselves can limit or enhance our being. If I believe all things are possible, then like Edison, Einstein, Gandhi, Jesus or Mother Theresa, I may stay focused on my path no matter what. If I believe I am not musical and could never learn to play the piano, I would not even try. My belief becomes my truth - even if it is wrong.

The rational scientist chooses a small, manageable playing field. He makes up the rules. If it is not measurable, observable, recordable, i.e. real in his mind, it is not true. The tools used, however, will determine what is found. An x-ray reveals something different than what is seen with a CAT scan, while an MRI reveals information beyond what the others could detect. So, if we use a scientific, rational mind as a tool for understanding reality, as wonderful a tool as it is, much will remain undetected.

Science will never isolate God, love, or spirit, because they are non-material. That much is true. However, the leap to the conclusion that these are unscientific and thus not real, reduces science itself to a purely utilitarian exercise. It might be possible to do an in depth profile of every movement, every muscle contraction within the body of the ballerina as she dances Swan Lake. That would do nothing to explain how the audience is touched by her grace and passion. One could do a highly technical analysis of the voice, the sound waves, and the acoustics in the concert hall, and still know nothing of why the opera singer brought tears to the eyes of her audience.

The science of life is profoundly fascinating. The exploration of the human body is as vast and wondrous an undertaking as the exploration of the Universe. However, human life itself, is art. Art is defined as any human activity that is the product of, and appeals primarily to the imagination. Imagination is the power of forming pictures in the mind of things not present to the senses; a creation of the mind. Quantum physics suggests that everything may be a creation of the mind. This is a dilemma for the scientist, who has limited his scope of exploration to things he believes to exist independently of any individual mind, including his own! This effectively eliminates God, spirituality, eternity, intuition, divinity, soul anything beyond the biology and psychology of body and mind.

The scientist will allow that much exists in the physical Universe that is beyond our ability to detect as yet, but would not suggest that unless we scientifically validate it, it is not there. Humans have senses and the ability to tune into other levels of reality for which, currently, there are no scientific measurements. Animals have the ability to sense a coming earthquake, and have likely done so long before humans inhabited the earth. Dogs can hear sounds which are beyond the range of human hearing. If animals have the ability to perceive things that are not perceivable in an expected sense, it stands to reason that humans would also have this capability. Those grounded in reality may roll their eyes when someone feels the presence of God in their lives, senses the energy in a room, or just knows that some synchronistic event is profoundly significant.

Life is art. Human evolution has played itself out on the canvas of the Earth. We are not separate, distinct, from all who have come before. We are part of a flow of life DNA which combines and recombines in different forms. We carry with us some part of our ancestors, as some part of our being continues on in our descendants. Imagination, myth and metaphor allow us to tap into the train of consciousness that is the evolving human mind. Like the tail of a comet, human consciousness is a path behind a moving life force a primeval force set in motion eons ago, pulsing along as an unfolding future. Myth and metaphor awaken something in consciousness that cannot be named, only felt. It carries us all the way back to the time when there were no words, no language, no science, only life itself unselfconscious, unanalyzed. Yet long before the dawning of rationality, there was passion, love, intuitive knowing - without which humans would not have survived.

Perhaps it is science that is not real. It is a stepping apart from life, an applying tools and rules to try to understand. When we look at a painting, we can know the specifics of the colors and techniques used, how the painting was created, and how it will endure from a physical standpoint. No matter how sophisticated our analysis, we will still know nothing of the artists intent, or consciousness at the time it was created. We will know nothing about how the work impacts viewers, or changes their consciousness. But these are precisely the aspects which are most meaningful, most real, most alive.

So it is with life. The parts that are most meaningful, real and alive, are the most elusive.

They are aspects, the dimensions of which are unbounded, at times indefinable, and often cannot be named. These are the aspect we must embrace if we are to experience the fullness of being human. All that can be measured is that which is temporary. When our time runs out, when the pulse winds down, when we are taking our last breath, all of the rules, definitions, proofs and certainties will mean nothing. Death is only the end of the aspects of life that can be measured. All that is timeless, eternal, and true, will be there as it always was, and if we have prepared ourselves, we will embrace it more fully than ever before.

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