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John E. Mack – 2
(laughter) It’s in that area that has to do with experience as evidence, and we don’t generally accept experience as evidence. Therefore this huge body of material tends to not be taken seriously because it can’t be proven in physicalistic or scientistic terms. But, evidently, it seems to be the case that there is some form of consciousness after the body dies. Then you have all of the spirit visitations from the so-called ghosts, some of which have been anchored in quite good research. So I don’t know, I think the burden of proof has shifted in the direction of those that would deny it.
David: What is your perspective on the concept of God?
John: Well, as soon as you say a “concept”, there are two questions here. One is the concept of God, which is one idea. The other is the experience of the divine, and I don’t know which you mean exactly.
David: I’m just curious what the word means to you, how you interpret it.
John: The word “God” has become the shortcut term for what has historically been applied to the overarching or the ultimate creative principal in the universe, that is sometimes experienced in human-like terms–because I think that our psyche can grasp things if we anthropomorphize them–but, in its essence, is mysterious, luminous, numinous, and overwhelming in its sense of presence when one is open to it. The problem is its all concept now, mostly, because the actual experience of the divine has been pretty well eradicated from the Western psyche by what Rilke called “daily parrying”, so that, as he put it, the senses by which we can know the spirit world have atrophied. So you can only know it experientially, and people that know it experientially are not very good at describing it in a way that’s going to create the experience for somebody else. Therefore, somebody who hasn’t had the experience, or who’s senses aren’t open, will say, well, you haven’t convinced me, because I haven’t had the experience. So that’s usually where the conversation ends.
David: So you see God as something like a state of consciousness.
John: As an experience of the divine. God as a separate entity, a theistic notion of a being that is separate from us–no, I don’t have any sense of that. I have a sense of being part of some infinite spirit wisdom, or spirit intelligence, that is sometimes present, real and alive to me. But I’m indwelling in it, and it in me. There’s no separate thing like churches sometimes try to make of it.
David: Do you see any teleology in evolution?
John: No, I think the future is up for grabs.
David: But you do see an intelligence inherent in nature?
John: That’s what I was saying, yes.
David: Do you think that intelligence is helping to guide the evolutionary process, or do you see any type of design crafted into how evolution progresses?
John: A guiding process? Sometimes it seems like it.
David: I guess what I mean is, do you see the evolutionary process as working entirely through blind chance, random mutation and natural selection, or do you think that there’s some type of intelligence inherent in the process–an intelligence that is, perhaps, groping toward something?
John: Yeah, I think that there is some type of intelligence, but we’re part of it. In other words, the thing is that most of us are kind of saying, well, I don’t see any intelligence out there. Or I’m waiting for it to show up. Or why doesn’t it speak to me? Whereas, in fact, we are co-creating the divine. The intelligence is expressed in higher or lower forms through the choices we make. So if we make a choice, say, to demonize the Other, that’s an expression of God at a very low level. Or if we experience a sense of love that transcends any individual differences, then we’re expressing our participation in the divine in a higher vibrational sense. But it’s all participation in what people call God.
David: What are you currently working on?
John: Rather than just rattle off projects, my principle interest now is in what kind of understanding, information, and commitment can accelerate this shift out of the purely materialist epistemology toward a more holistic or expanded way of knowing. In other words, not to argue for it–because I don’t think that’s necessary anymore–but really, how do we address the resistance to transformation? How do we find ways of opening hearts and minds? How does one become more effective in presenting information to people who hunger for this new way of thinking, but are threatened by it? There are ways of communicating that can reach people much more effectively than we do. That’s one of the things