In Search of Stepping Stones

Abstract

Exploring the unknown is a task that scientists and mystics alike have set themselves, although starting off in rather different directions. At first, these tasks were seen to be sufficiently different, so that they did not crowd each other. But by now scientific insight has grown to such an extent that there seems to be less and less room for mystic explorations. Simply said: there seems to be little left of an unknown to jump into, in order to find a deeper grounding for our fleeting world of experience, through direct contact with reality, call it mystic, spiritual, or contemplative. Will the objective approach of science have the last word, and tell us how our experiences, from the every-day to the deeply spiritual, can seen as simple consequences of complex electrochemical phenomena in the brain? Or will further progress bring about a modification of both scientific and contemplative approaches, perhaps introducing a form of science of the subject, together with a heightened appreciation of the limits of the describable, even in a world of objects? In order to address those questions, what we need are stepping stones to connect the bodies of knowledge that have been acquired in different traditions. A systematic way to return to the phenomena themselves may provide such a stepping stone. Already familiar in science, philosophy, and personal paths of explorations, but under rather different names, such a phenomenology may help the different sides to reach each other

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