THE SPIRITUAL-PHYSICAL UNIVERSE
“. . . It occurred to me that relativity and quantum theory might imply the spontaneous creation of universes from nothing. If so, matter and energy would not be fundamental but manifestations of underlying laws. Ultimate reality would be the laws themselves–the mind of . . . God.” –Edward P. Tryon, Physicist
Plato defended the idea that a mental, or spiritual, realm exists within the universe, and now science has discovered an unknown substance with no physical properties except gravity. This may actually be a co-discovery of that mysterious element discussed by mystics and philosophers, but never accepted by scientists. One possibility of this comes from the fact that physicists have not been able to ascertain the nature of this material, other than its gravitational force, and over the last several decades the missing mass has become one of the biggest problems in cosmology to solve.The vast universe contains an assortment of objects both well known, and extraordinarily strange. Our solar system is but a small speck among a hundred billion stars in our own galaxy. The Milky Way is just one of a local group of galaxies making up a cluster of galaxies. The mapping of the heavens is revealing even greater and more massive structures covering immense regions of space surrounded by voids of complete emptiness. Observations suggest that these structures form great walls in the shape of ovals much like the bubbles in soapsuds.
Early Western philosophers liked to postulate that reality consisted of five elements instead of four. Besides earth, air, fire, and water, there was a fifth essence they called the aether. Etheric matter was the substance of the soul; ghostly apparitions made themselves known through a hazy vapor. Mind had to be made of something if it was to be explained at all. If there is life after death, then there must be a spiritual world for soul to experience its existence. What is this elusive essence?
Astronomers and cosmologists have discovered a substance that cannot be seen, or explained. Calculations show that it makes up 90 to 99 percent of the mass of the universe. It must exist to explain galactic rotation and formation in a universe that began with a Big Bang. The traditional view of our Milky Way galaxy is of a central bulge of many old stars within a thin disc of young stars stretching out about 100,000 light-years. Now evidence suggests that the galaxy is enveloped by a huge sphere of dark matter greater than 300,000 light-years. This means that about 80 percent of the mass of our galaxy cannot be seen. Many galaxies spin so fast that were it not for the weight of some unseen mass many stars at the outer edge would spin off into space. Clusters of galaxies can only be explained if the weight of the cluster is more than that of the galaxies it contains.
Dark matter theory holds that gravity amplified tiny fluctuations in the distribution of matter in the early universe to eventually produce vast fields of galaxies. Dark matter consists as an unidentified substance that interacts only slightly with ordinary matter. Such particles need to be heavy enough to provide gravitational attraction, but they are also very aloof defying detection in experiments. If dark matter took part in chemical or nuclear reactions, their presence would be all too obvious.
Could the Spiritual universe as a component of mental sentience in the physical universe be dark matter? Since it interacts very weakly with ordinary matter, and seems to have an independent existence, the connection seems plausible. The conceptual leap from the aether to dark matter is appealing on the ground that scientists are totally mystified by this eerie substance, just as they are mystified by the strange stuff called the Mind.
Within the bounds of logic, and the realm of possibilities, the idea that mind is merely a complex of sensory input enabling an organism to grope through its brief existence fails to answer the question of what life is in and of itself. Not to mention the larger question of what intelligent organisms, such as ourselves, are even doing here. Without a purpose existence seems meaningless, but where there is a purpose there must be a reason.
In theory, as the universe cooled and matter formed, the force of gravity gathered sentience as dark matter to itself and coalesced into the logos of cosmic Thought. Mind, intellection, gives rise to selfhood manifesting individuality through the power of stellar structures. Although it may exist as pure thought in contemplation, it requires matter in opposition for the purpose of creation as identified in the three Hypostases of Plotinus. The greatest force in the universe is the most noble in human spirit; love is the power, and life the ultimate goal.
Physicists and cosmologists have come close to explaining all the processes in the universe. Yet try as they do, they still cannot tidy up their equations to explain the ultimate meaning of life. The very thing they are using to answer their questions is the one single thing they are leaving out. Mind is a fact of reality; it cannot be left out of any grand explanation. It seems certain that the methods of science will ultimately discover the basis of Intelligence on a vast scale within the stars and galaxies of our universe. Not until then will we come to know what we are really doing here. Carl Jung takes notice when he says:
“All the same, every science is a function of the psyche, and all knowledge is rooted in it. The psyche is the greatest of all cosmic wonders and the sine qua non of the world as an object. It is in the highest degree odd that Western Man, with but very few–and ever fewer exceptions, apparently pays so little regard to this fact. Swamped by the knowledge of external objects, the subject of all knowledge has been temporarily eclipsed to the point of seeming non-existence.” 22
For science it is easier to think of the mind as a product of axons, neurons, and such stuff that makes up the brain–all neatly housed within the skull. If this is the case, then death of the organism confirms death of the psyche; there is no path back from eternal blackness and nothingness.