Recently I was gifted to hear a presentation in my theology class from Dr. Stanley Goldin, a quite well known and respected scientist, who is engaged in some very excited work – namely to scientifically document the mystical experience. In a recent article, The Human Soul – Can it Survive in an Age of Neuroscience? he states, “There are two ways of knowing, the book of science and the book of spiritual experience.” As he encouraged us to respond to his talk, I did. Here is what I wrote. Enjoy!
I am Stephanie Rutt, a DMin student, and would like to share some thoughts with you about your talk today from the other way of knowing – the way of spiritual experience. I have returned to school very late in life to articulate what I have long experienced – what I heard you pointing to today. I am a practitioner of the sacred who has come to know that, above all, it is my job (and joy) just to love God most. I have spent many years immersed in the spiritual practices across faith traditions. I have felt the Cosmic Christ you described in the stillness of a zikr turn, in the spacious silence following mantra meditation, in the sweet depths of contemplative practice. Ten years ago I became an interfaith minister because, by that time, everywhere I had landed I had been graced to find God. But, today I found myself very excited and hopeful that, by science being able to confirm what many practitioners of the sacred have long known, we can begin to move toward some profound implications for personal as well as for inter-religious understanding.
Truth is truth. Scientists, theologians, philosophers, poets, mystics all express this same truth in different ways. What appears to be the common denominator is the awareness of the universal energy field and, for the mystic (or the movers and shakers as you called them), the experience of this field as a guiding spiritual presence. Yet, to this I would like to offer an additional awareness that has truly been at the heart of my spiritual experience over many years.
The perhaps unintended implication for having experienced a taste of the universal energy field, the Cosmic Christ, is that suddenly we begin to know that God does not so much live in us as we live in God. And, this awareness begins to change everything. For example, now when I make eye contact with a homeless man on the corner, my heart recognizes my brother. When I hear collateral damage I feel a tightening in my stomach as now it is no longer acceptable to hear regrettable but unavoidable. Suddenly now, I am experiencing what it truly means to love my neighbor as myself. What could be more profoundly beautiful for the human experience?
And, as science is able to document this universal energy field the extremist of all religions who believe they have the only true God will be challenged not just by the subjective reports of religious experience but by the objective documentation of rigorous science. Bravo!!
And, just perhaps, as science and spiritual experience meet and discover they are pointing to the same Truth, so may we be able to meet one another, anywhere in the world, and recognize the same.