At a speaking engagement at Cumberland Lodge for Windsor Leadership recently, I was asked if I had a spiritual faith that helped sustain me in the middle of the ocean. Given that both my parents were Methodist preachers, some people wonder if I have followed in their footsteps and have a strong Christian belief system.
To which I would say – not really. I do have a strong sense of the spiritual, but it wouldn’t fit into any conventional world religion that I am aware of, although some form of Buddhism would probably be the closest.
Like any question of faith, I have no definite answers. Rather, I have a belief system that works well for me. I don’t claim it as factual truth. The corollary of this is that I am absolutely happy for anybody else to believe whatever they want to believe, so long as it doesn’t impinge on my freedom to believe what I want to believe.
My general thoughts on the subject go something like this:
– We know that reality as we experience it is not reality as it really is. Humans have evolved over the generations to favour the attributes conducive to survival, rather than the ability to perceive the “real” reality in all its dimensions. For example, it could well be that hyper-sensitivity to danger (fast movement, loud noises, etc) was genetically preferable to a more rounded view of the world, as the individual humans who spotted danger first were more likely to get the opportunity to pass on their genes.
– Given the above, plus the very inadequate nature of our paltry five senses, and our very short time perspective, there are probably many things that exist in reality of which we have no conscious awareness, because we have no sense organ to detect them, or they are too big or too small to comprehend, or they operate on a time scale that is imperceptible to us (e.g. tectonic plate shift).
– So it could be that things that we regard as “spiritual”, such as synchronicities, seemingly telepathic connections, ability to perceive things at impossible distances of time or space, etc are actually capable of scientific explanation, if only we were sophisticated enough and knew what we were looking for (although I can’t help feeling that a bit of the magic would be lost if we could scientifically explain these “spiritual” phenomena).
Further to all the above, I would like to think that it is possible that we are entering a “shift of consciousness” stage, where a tipping point will be reached and we as a species will suddenly see things in a different way. Maybe we will rediscover our connection to each other and to the other parts of nature, and stop behaving like we are all isolated individuals, competing with each other for wealth, resources and attention.
Maybe. And maybe not. Given the rapidity at which the train is approaching the ravine, with seemingly no bridge, no brakes, and no points to shift us onto a different track, let’s hope that this actually is happening, unlikely as it may appear from where we are now. (Ecomodernists take a more optimistic view, which you are welcome to try on for size by reading their manifesto. Thanks to Canon Bryan for bringing this to my attention.)
I know hope is NOT a strategy, but we are running out of options, and last-minute miracle might be our best bet, even while many of us continue to strive for sustainability.
Either way, I take comfort from the fact that this planet will long outlive humanity, and despite all the damage that we have inflicted on it, time is a great healer.