As many of you know, most scientifically minded folks would, at this point, do what scientists normally do in order to found their proofs; they would "define" their terms. Unfortunately, if, at this point, I define my terms, I will have created an unsolvable paradox. The paradox? If I define a meta-word before I offer a metaphor, I will have created a visual blank spot in my proof. What I mean by this is, if I define my terms for consciousness with things which you cannot consciously visualize on the screen of your mind, then I will have created a visual loop hole in what I'm trying to prove. You will literally be unable to see what I'm saying. Please allow me to elaborate.
Science, which I truly love, is presently much like a precocious human ten year old. It is naively wise. How so? Science desires and dreams it will help us to better our lives. How? By pointing out to us how things work, the nature of our world. Unfortunately, like a precocious ten year old, science believes only in what it can see and even then, only in what it can logically explain of what it can see. Sadly, in choosing to behave this way, it has ignored warnings given us centuries ago to heed to this error. Where do we find these warnings? In the enduring but often "scientifically" discounted words of everything from the Tao Te Ching (c.Sixth Century BC) to the writings of Greek skeptics like Heraclitus (c.540-475 BC) and Carneades (c.213-129 BC). Their advice? You can never take what you see to be the literal truth.
Thus the Tao, which is an attempt to comprehensively describe the nature of our world and how to best live in it says, "The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao." Translation. We cannot know the literal truth of our world. Why not? Heraclitus would say, "because you cannot step into the same river twice." Carneades might have said, "because we can never know for sure what is true and what is not. Everything in the mind is mere phantasm, meaning, everything in our minds is made of fleeting and imperfectly formed images of the authentic world." Finally, the Tao Te Ching says simply, we can not know it because "it can not be told"; meaning, it is beyond words.
Science, the barely three hundred year old newcomer, ignores these maxims and declares defiantly it will understand what it sees no matter what the cost, moreover, that what it can not measure is not real. How nice. Of course, much of the beauty in life falls into this later category, into the "what can not be measured" category. This includes not only spiritually oriented things like love and curiosity but also empirically minded data, everything from how cold water transitions to boiling water all the way up to how energy and matter change into each other.
What I am saying here is that science ignores and in fact, refuses to even acknowledge the idea that the part of our world it can define is limited to the part which is actually or potentially measurable, what most of us call, the "physical" world. And the part of our world (and thus, the part of our consciousness) which it will never define, not even marginally, is the part of our world which can never be literally measurable, the part I call the "non-physical" world.
Here, then are my first terms defined. The physical world is "everything we can actually or potentially measure." The non-physical world is "everything we can never actually or potentially measure." My point?
Science denies (or ignores) this second world exists. Not all scientists. But science in general. Why does this matter? Because here I am trying to describe something which most of us know very well exists; consciousness. At the same time, I know all too well that most people will trust what I say as true only if I can define what I say scientifically.
Let me say this once more. That consciousness exists is obvious, at least to most folks. Unfortunately, in order to attempt to describe it and be believed, I must ignore that one of these two worlds exists, then try to force-fit my whole descriptions into the other of these two worlds.
Herein lies my dilemma. If I honor only the physical world, I ignore what I know to be a full half of what consciousness is. And if I honor both worlds, both the physical and the non-physical, then I will be discounted by anyone who defines as true only what one can actually or potentially measure. So what can I do?
I believe the answer lies in Chaos Theory which offers us a pragmatic way to describe both the physical and non-physical aspects of our world, both the measurable and the immeasurable. In other words, I believe we can use Chaos theory to create useful descriptions of our world. Admittedly, even these descriptions will be somewhat immature. Even so, I believe they will also be a whole magnitude more compressive than any mere scientifically logical descriptions of our world. And a whole magnitude more accurate.
Some might now ask, but is there an actual non-physical world? My answer? Newton saw it. So did Einstein. How can we know this for sure? Neither man ever saw himself as a god. Both men, in fact, clearly demonstrated a deep and enduring respect for the infinite. And said so many, many times, both personally and professionally.
I see their admissions as true humility and as a necessary part of any scientifically minded search. Unfortunately, much of science either lacks or ignores this humility and in doing so strives to present god-like views. How so? By believing they can fully describe anything in our world, they perhaps inadvertently play god. In other words, by refusing to see the natural limits to their otherwise excellent and honorable work, they believe they can actually know something definitively. At least in theory.
Please know, science is still honorable. And excellent. At least when it comes to defining those parts of our world which can actually or potentially be measured. However, by refusing to acknowledge the non-measurable aspects of our world, what some would call the "spiritual" aspects of our world, they disrespect and ignore a full half of the beauty and meaning which exists in our world. And here we have it. The word "meaning" finally surfaces. The "meaning" in our world. So what can we do to know both halves of the meaning in our world?
I think the answer lies in setting aside our biases and in taking our cues from what the "shamans" in our world have done for thousands of years. What I mean by this is, perhaps we can begin to define the meaning in our world by using stories to build a visual library, similarly to how we each, as infants, build visual libraries of meaning within ourselves. And lest the word, "shaman" put you off, please consider that what I've just suggested is also the basis of much of what we have come to revere, from the essence of sports medicine and performance training all the way up to core teachings within Zen koans and wisdom stories.
So what exactly is it I'm suggesting we do? That we visually explore the various aspects of our world in order to see how the "what we can see"; the physical world, is connected to the "what we cannot see"; to the non-physical world. Admittedly, this may be a heck of a task. Even so, remembering our "not god" status will surely guide us in our journey. Are you ready?