Wednesday, 30 September 2015

What is Life?

What is Life?

Raynor C. Johnson was an Australian physicist, Master of Queens College, University of Melbourne and a highly respected academic.  He spent years studying many different aspects of philosophy, mysticism, mediumship and Spiritualism in his attempt to arrive at an understanding of life that accounted for all its myriad facets and not just the physical and obvious.  He wrote several fascinating books, in all of which his views are clearly and logically stated in non-academic language, except where its use was unavoidable.

His book “Nurslings of Immortality”, investigates the writings of Douglas Fawcett and his theory of Imaginism.  It is a compelling theory that explains, logically, many aspects of life that scientists generally have no explanation for or whose explanations cannot withstand serious, intelligent examination.  Briefly the theory holds that God has imagined everything that exists throughout the universe, even events and developments that take aeons of time to reach fruition.  His imagining is continuous and is not the “once and for all” that some religions claim.  His imagining is a living, vital process in which each one of us contributes to some degree because we are each a part of Him.  On the individual planets, such as Earth, the realisation of God’s imaginings is in the hands of “imaginals” which I believe equate to what Spiritualists think of as the higher spirits.  Here I propose to include some extracts from Johnson’s book in order to whet your appetite for more.

I start with a comment on the tendency of scientists to classify things in groups in the mistaken belief that such classification explains “why”:

“A nucleo-protein molecule is still a molecule – even if it is convenient in biology to call it a gene.  It is incapable of accounting for blueness in eyes, redness in petals, or the length of a nose; nor if it is buffered by other neighbours, or if it drops an amino-acid from its tail, can it produce brown eyes, white petals or a short nose.  We do not dispute that certain molecular conditions and ordering of the genes are conditions (from “below”) enabling such characters to manifest.  But we claim that these qualitative features arise from “above”, because imaginals are able in these conditions to appear.  The philosopher must continue to remind the biologist that “it is no good tapping the cask for wine that is not there.”

When I survey the account which Darwinism and its derivatives gives of Evolution of living things from the Protozoa to Homo Sapiens, I am bound to say that the two themes of Variation and Natural Selection, together with all the detailed knowledge which genetics is supplying, hold out great promise of accounting for the factors in Evolution which derive from “below”.  I am equally clear that regarded as the sole and sufficient basis of Evolution they are completely inadequate.  At every step there is apparent the activity of imagining (spirit or higher activity), of a purposive drive towards the interim goal of increasing awareness, and of experimenting to further that plan.  Some of the experiments have obviously been failures; this is readily granted as we look back at the many extinct forms of life.  But something was learned by these experiments, as we can see by the significant facts that failures were not repeated and that successful devices were fully exploited.

It may be asked: Who or what made these experiments and stored the wisdom?  The answer leads us directly to consider the factors in Evolution which come “from above”.

At certain important stages of evolution, such as the invasion of dry land by the first amphibians or the conquest of the air by primitive birds, a whole group of complex adjustments had to be achieved approximately simultaneously.  One or two alone could be of no value to the creature.  These variations were presumably effected by co-ordinated genetic changes.    It is of great interest that Professor A.C. Hardy has expressed the view “that there must have been at least one element in the process of evolution that is not mechanical or material in the ordinary sense”.  Moreover, referring to telepathy, he has said, “The discovery that individual organisms are somehow in psychical connection with one another across space is, of course, one of the most revolutionary biological discoveries ever made.”
In a later paper Professor Hardy develops these views further:

“I find it quite impossible to imagine how such a mathematical plan of growth could have been evolved entirely under the selective influence of the very heterogeneous environment.  It seems to me to have all the appearance of a definite mental conception like that of an artist or designer – a pattern outside the physical world which in some way has served as a template or guage for selective action.” (God?)

Now to Psychic Research:

“Some people imagine that psychical research is synonymous with Spiritualism.  This is of course untrue, and such a view could only be held in ignorance of both.  The former is a critical and scientific approach to all para-normal phenomena.  The latter is a religious practice based upon the conviction of man’s survival of death and the possibility of communication between the incarnate and the discarnate.  … It is quite possible for a student in the field of psychical research to hold that the spiritualist view is either right or wrong.  The present writer has been driven to accept its central contention as true, both by a critical appraisal of the evidence and by certain personal experiences.

The late G.M Tyrell, a distinguished worker in the field of psychic research, on many occasions drew attention to the strangely neglectful attitude of otherwise thoughtful and reasonable people towards the findings of psychic research.  One would certainly have supposed that where issues of the greatest importance to scientific and philosophical thought were involved there would be widespread concern to investigate and assess them at their true value.  Apart from a small minority of persons this is not so.  The attitude is on the whole one of neglect, or of derision, or of explaining away as coincidental, happenings which, accepted, would be beyond the possibility of explanation by our present scientific knowledge.  It is clear that these commonplace attitudes must have a psychological cause, and Tyrell suggests that in the course of man’s evolution his mind as well as his body has been adapted to the physical environment.  In other words, there is an unconscious factor in man’s mind which acts so as to prevent his interest and belief from wandering too far from the familiar world which his senses present to him.  It leads him to assume that the physical world ceases to exist at the point where his senses cease to register it.  It also leads him to suppose that “common-sense” is a safe guide when faced with the question as to what is possible and what is not possible in this world. …

Let us turn our attention to the aspects of the world which science neglects.  We have seen how it abstracts from the Whole, for purposes of detailed study.  Even biology is not concerned with the distinctions that constitute individuality.  It is obviously of significance for biology what members of a given species have in common, and of little or no significance wherein its members differ.  When we rise to the level of man it is obviously of the greatest significance wherein one individual differs from another.  In other words, feelings, desires, thoughts, aspirations, ideals are not the concern of science, and only to a limited extent the concern of psychology.  In so far as it is a science it is concerned with reactions shared by all men, and not with those higher distinguishing characteristics in virtue of which we cherish the friendship or admire the character of one person rather than another.

Psychical research goes further; it investigates a world whose limits are not determined by the senses.  It is obliged to recognise profound individual differences – on a certain level.  Consider the differing mental affinities of people by which good telepathic rapport is possible between some and not between others.  Psychical Research however, in its turn neglects elements in personality which are higher in the scale of significance.  Those elements which we describe as Values:  sensitivity to Beauty, the qualities of Compassion, of Kindness and of Self-sacrifice, the high attainment of Wisdom of which the expression is found in intuitive insights; these, which are the highest achievements of individuals, are not within its ken.  These partake of still higher levels of the world we may appropriately call spiritual or transcendental to distinguish them from those described as psychical.  Human personality participates in these higher levels, as rocks and trees and animals do not.”

What is Religion?

“William James spoke of it as “The feelings, acts and experiences of individual men in their solitude so far as they apprehend themselves to stand in relation to whatever they may consider the divine.”  G. Galloway defined it as “Man’s faith in a power beyond himself whereby he seeks to satisfy emotional needs and gain stability of life, and which he expresses in acts of worship and service.”  A.N. Whitehead says, “Religion is the reaction of human nature to its search for God.”  E.D. Fawcett speaks of it as “Devotion to the most perfect reality which shows in our experience.”  It would be easy to multiply such definitions, but they all point to certain things.  The whole man is involved; it is a total commitment which affects all the significant levels of man’s living.  We are challenged by what we conceive to be the Divine, and to it we make a glad response, realising that our only happiness must be in our increasing awareness of Him.”

 The “Next Life”
“For some time it has been my belief that the evidential case for man’s survival of death is a very strong one.  More recently, I have had communications through the automatic writing of a friend in London which have transformed that belief into conviction.”

He then goes on to quote descriptions of the afterlife given from the spirit world.  He lays great emphasis on the communication through automatic writing, of F.W.H. Myers, a founder of the British Society for Psychical Research and his belief in Group Souls.

I hope you find the foregoing interesting and will investigate further for yourself.