When we look around us, we observe the material world (matter/energy) full of living organisms (life). We can deduct from observing all the many living organisms that they are conscious (have consciousness) of the world around them and some living organisms (life) even demonstrate the ability to think and solve problems (they have mind).
Humans analyse themselves and their own thoughts and are said to be self-aware (we have self-awareness). This much is given, and everybody agrees, but what about concepts like God (a/the Creator Spirit), spirit, and soul? Furthermore, what are life, mind, memory, and consciousness exactly?
We also know that humans and some advanced animals have brains and nervous systems. An organism’s brain and nervous system coordinate its organs and organ systems, perceive its environment, and help it to move, think, and solve problems. Humans are psycho-anatonomical organisms and not merely anatonomical ‘machines’. We have hardware and software part-systems.
Although God and spirit are eternal, and have never changed, our physical environment, culture, and especially our technology have from time immemorial, guided us in our knowledge and understanding of the spiritual realm. As farmers and nomads, ancient hunter-gatherer societies had an organic view of spiritual matters and of their world.
However, since the Industrial Revolution the peoples from Western civilizations had developed a more mechanistic point of view. As our knowledge of physics and chemistry grew, and with the advent of the steam engine, we started to see the universe and all life in it as a big mechanical machine constructed from chemical elements.
Since then our knowledge has kept on increasing with discoveries about electricity, electronics, information and communication science, computer science and nanotechnology, and especially quantum theory, and holography.
We had a whole paradigm shift, and have since developed tools like general systems theory, cybernetics, and chaos theory that are directing our approach to these new, technological developments. The mechanistic worldview of Isaac Newton and Rene Descartes has become utterly untenable and we have to reconsider our world perspective and probably develop a more holistic view of our world and belief systems.
When we, for example, look at a modern personal computer (a PC) we see a cabinet, a monitor, a keyboard, a mouse, speakers, a printer, a scanner, etc. If we look inside the cabinet, we will also see a mainboard with a central processing unit (CPU). Usually there are also video and audio cards, as well as random access memory (RAM) units plugged into special slots. This, including all the wiring, constitutes the computer’s hardware components.
To be operational a computer will need a source of suitable energy (electricity) as well as a hierarchy of interconnected computer programs (software components) – firmware, an operating system, and applications software programs. Electricity (electrons and ‘holes’) is also a physical component like the computer hardware, but the computer programs and information in the programs, although anchored in hardware, are something completely different from the hardware altogether.
We have moved away from the mere mechanistic machine to an electronic device – a machine with a ghost inside! The modern electromechanical apparatus now has not only memory, but also has enormous decision-making capabilities! It has evolved from a ‘mechanical idiot’ into a ‘thinking android’.
If we compare ‘the anatomy and physiology of a living organism’ with ‘the architecture of a PC’, we will find certain noticeable similarities and not only in the hardware parts (anatonomical aspects) of both, but especially in the software parts (psychological aspects). Software in both cases is entirely outside the realm of the physical scientists.
Both organisms and PCs are complex cybernetic systems, where cybernetics is for our purposes the study of self-regulating information, control, communication, and transformation systems in organisms, mechanical and electronic, and electromechanical equipment.
If we add to this our knowledge of quantum theory, holography, general systems theory, and chaos theory, we can gain a completely new perception and understanding of the world of God, spirit, life, the soul, mind, memory, and consciousness. We can rediscover a completely new spiritual appreciation of our place in the world.
Obviously, we cannot ignore the work of the many very knowledgeable and informed mystics through the ages. Therefore, I have looked at as many of the different esoteric and mystical traditions from both the West and the East as possible (and in particular the Holy Hebrew Qabalah and Yoga – Yogi Philosophy) in my vision quest to understand something of the spiritual realm of the world in terms of my software paradigm. Just possibly this is the key to the survival of the human species!
I am not a physical scientist or an academically qualified philosopher, but I am a qualified Topo-cadastral and Engineering Surveyor and have a doctorate in Business Economics and Management. Nevertheless, because of a lifelong, intense interest in metaphysics, fideism, ontology, and the concepts of faith and knowledge, I have been studying the relationship between science, religion, different philosophies, and the occult for over forty years.
Some questions are so enormously important that we cannot ever afford to leave them in the hands of natural, or any other, scientists, and especially, specialists. We have to get involved ourselves, or we are going to be taken for an extremely expensive ride into oblivion. As the old management saying goes, ‘Never place specialists on top (in charge), but always keep them on tap.’
We urgently need alternative views on science, religion, and philosophy to explain the world around us; we need integrated maps of reality to make sense of our lives; the existing fragmented (‘disjointed’) maps only serve to confuse us. Science gives us one window on reality; philosophy and religion give us two other windows, but we now need a bigger, single window to integrate all our fragmented (‘disjointed’) maps of reality. Well, a mapmaker of reality, in the first instance, must think for himself/herself – that is presently our only alternative to ‘canned’, organised science and religion!
Furthermore, science is so compartmentalised into different disciplines within science itself that it has become impossible, for example, for a geologist to have an intelligent conversation with a geneticist on biology or physics. A cardiologist might even have trouble understanding, for example, an orthopaedic surgeon. They speak ‘different’ languages. I have always endeavoured to be a multi-disciplined generalist rather than a specialist. Managers and economists must be integrators of knowledge and ideas above all else.
Everything that we know and believe is based on assumptions and is expressed in language. We all like to ‘believe’ that we are rational and logical. However, this is exactly where all our problems in understanding the ‘software’ component of the universe begins. This component of reality does not necessarily conform to our human logic and language is certainly not adequate to express spiritual (software) concepts.
So then, what is meant by concepts like God, reality, life, spirit, the soul, mind, memory, and consciousness? The rest of this book is a quest to clarify these concepts by investigating the views of modern science, Western and Eastern philosophy, religion, and mysticism. Specific use is made of advances in computer science, holography, and systems theory to help us understand these very, elusive concepts in a contemporary context. Then ultimately, all human knowledge should be integrated into a single, holistic worldview and then assimilated into the mind.
Therefore, in Chapter 1, we start by discussing the limitations of language, thinking, and human communication as a means to understand and explain the spiritual (software) aspects of reality. We also look at the fixed and dogmatic views of modern science and suggest a completely, different view of reality – the holographic view of reality.
Purely intellectual knowledge moves round its object and studies it from a distance, like food held in the palm of the hand. Whereas intuitive understanding, when correctly applied, embraces, and absorbs what is to be known, like food that is digested and absorbed into the body.
Thus, if we cannot use language and science as a way to understand and absorb spiritual reality, what can we then use? In Chapter 2, we talk about a spiritual vision quest employed by the Lakota peoples of North America and others, a specific quest for union with your personal Holy Guardian Angel, and a particular way to understanding and communicate with nature as was suggested by Carlos Castaneda.
This then brings us to one of the most serious problems that every student in search of more spiritual illumination will encounter, namely the absolute confusion in the terminology that scientists, philosophers, theologists, and even mystics use when talking about spirituality. Talking about food is very different than eating it.
Even worse, many people (e.g. the American Atheists) confuse the words used with reality itself – i.e. they confuse the name with the thing named. These issues are addressed in Chapters 3 and 4. In Chapter 3, we commence to analyse the core concepts mind and consciousness. We know something about the physical universe, the hardware, but we know virtually nothing about the spiritual universe, the software. These concepts will be a recurring topic throughout the book.
Furthermore, in Chapter 4, the computer analogy as a means to explain the hardware (physical) and software (spiritual) components of reality is introduced. The computer analogy is a means to help us make sense of the hardware (the physical universe) and software (spiritual aspects of reality) components of reality in a concrete manner.
Chapter 5 introduces the Great Levels of Being, the hierarchy from physical matter/energy to different levels of life on earth. This hierarchy of being gives us a framework, a scaffold, that we can make use of to understand the difference between ‘dead matter/energy’ on the one hand (e.g. a physical computer system), and life and mind (the software components of a computer), on the other. Plant, animal, and human life, as well as the concept of the soul is compared to that of silicon ‘life’ (the personal computer) in this chapter.
When we consider the Great Levels of Being, concepts like spirit, life, the soul, mind, memory, and consciousness immediately come to mind. The views of Meister Eckhart and Eugène Marais are also considered in Chapter 5 as two opposing views on the nature of the soul. Eugène Marais’ views also guide us in reconsidering certain important aspects of the concepts of soul, memory, and consciousness.
In Chapter 6, we introduce General Systems Theory as another way to make sense of the spiritual world. Systems theory, as opposed to the analytical approach to reality, sees everything in the universe as integrated and interrelated. The systems approach opens the door for us to compare and evaluate different types of systems like life, mind, and computers. We see how systems theory and holism are fundamentally related. We also consider some natural systems, e.g. human anatomy and physiology, cells, DNA, and genes.
Although systems theory is a relatively recent, human artefact, the seeds of the approach can be found in a number of different approaches though history. The human brain is possibly the ultimate system that we know about. This is discussed in Chapter 7. In this context, we also reconsider the ideas of Plato, Goethe, Freud, Paul McLean’s triune brain hypothesis, and Gurdjieff’s three-brained being. This trinity of mind and brain is seen as the basic tenet of the suggested division of the computer software hierarchy (i.e. firmware, operational system, and applications).
In Chapter 8, a number of different philosophical and spiritual views and explanations of the terms spirit, life, mind, soul, memory, consciousness, and body are explored. Here we give specific attention to the work of Ernest Holmes, Charles F Haanel, William Atkinson, Yogi Ramacharaka, and Hari Prasad Shastri. In this chapter, we essentially look at Yoga and Indian Philosophy (Vedanta and Advaita) and Western variations on it.
The origin of the concept of the human soul is explored in Chapter 9, and is in contrast to Chapter 8, a Western version of spirituality, where Chapter 8 was an Eastern version. This is done by considering the views as expressed in the Holy Hebrew Qabala. A synoptic outline of the qabalistic Tree of Life is also given here. The tree of Life is said to be a map of reality and this then begs the question, what do we really know?
What is knowledge, faith, and what is plain illusion? What do we know and what can we know? These questions are looked at in Chapter 10. Attention is specifically given to the core, spiritual concept – illusion, and therefore Daath and Maya.
Then, consequently, what do we really know about life and the genesis of human life? Does the Bible, for example, tell the full religious story of the genesis of the human race, or is there more? Chapter 11 looks at the missing parts of the biblical story from the perspective of the Qabala (the Zohar) and the Jewish mystical tradition. Interesting facts and insights are gained about Adam, Eve, Lilith, and Naamah from the Zohar – the Jewish version of the genesis and evolution of the human soul. These stories are as much about the genesis of humans as they are of the genesis of the human soul.
In contrast to the religious views, what does modern science (the materialist) know and have to say about the origins of life and human life in particular? We look at this particular aspect in Chapter 12 – i.e. biogenesis and the human genome.
In Chapter 13, we look at the meaning and importance of mitochondrial DNA, the concept of mitochondrial Eve, and the ensuing Y-Chromosome Adam. This is a modern extension of the materialistic view of Genesis. Now, genetics is purported to be our map to knowledge about the origins of life and the human genesis. However, does it really make any sense in a greater (holistic), spiritual, and philosophical framework? Science has a lot to say about the genesis and evolution of the body (human and otherwise), but nothing about the soul. Science is all about the hardware of the universe, not about the software.
Where then did life come from? Will we (can we) ever know? We look at this question in Chapter 14. We start off with different stories of genesis and consider the hypothesis of cosmic ancestry as well. The ideas of Fred Hoyle, Chandra Wickramasinghe, and Francis Crick are looked at specifically. The enigmatic book of Urantia is also mentioned because of its relative importance in this case. Theory, religion, philosophy, mythology, speculations, conjecture – where does the truth lie?
All this brings us back to the basic question again, namely; is the universe one big hologram, or is it possibly a big computer (hardware and software)? In Chapter 15, we revisit the holographic view of the universe and consider the views of a number of people in this regard. The germinal ideas of Jan Smuts and the more recent ideas of Arthur Koestler and Ken Wilber are considered in this chapter.
In Chapter 16, we mull over some conclusions. The qabalistic Tree of Life is then utilised to integrate, interrelate, and assimilate all the different concepts, ideas, and viewpoints that were considered in the previous chapters. A clear distinction between and explanation of concepts such as spirit, the soul, and mind are aimed at, at this stage. Ultimately, the scientific views on the physical universe must be integrated and assimilated with the spiritual views of religion and mysticism, as well as with the views of Western and Eastern philosophy into a single, holistic worldview. It is in fact an unattainable quest and might therefore lead to a dire bout of severe, mental indigestion or even worse, constipation.