In Memoriam: John T. Shields

by Administrator on March 30, 2017

Sillouette at SunsetA Life Well Lived

John Terance Shields    Dec. 20, 1938 – Mar 24, 2017
Tribute Wall

National Observer: Lessons from the life and death of the phenomenal John T. Shields
Times Colonist: Labour leader John Shields mourned as pillar of social justice

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THOUGHT ON COSMIC SPIRITUALITY

by Administrator on December 24, 2015

My intention in sharing this material is to share my conclusions about cosmology supported spirituality. For me the new revelation from the universe has confirmed that spirit is a quality of the universe and is universally present on Earth. This has opened a door for me to the sacred in the secular.

For twenty plus years I could easily characterize myself as a wanderer on a parched spiritual wasteland as I searched for an answer to my quest to find spirituality that was not dependent on religion or dogma. My longing to find an alternate source of spirituality kept running into the prevailing dominance of consumer and scientific materialism. Belief in Materialism has dominated the scientific and academic world. In brief, Materialism holds that the only real things are what can be held or measured. Since the 1600s when Descartes, in rebellion to the pietism of the Church, declared that spirit was an illusion and relegated it to the teaching of the Church, the influence of spirituality outside religion has been on the wane. The secular world has thoroughly embraced materialism as the explanation of life. The growth of consumerism as the main driver of modern economies is central. Materialism as the prevailing worldview seemed irrevocably entrenched. “Shop till you drop” had taken hold in mainstream North American culture.

The only countering worldview that I could find other than that of the ancient religions was in indigenous culture. On Vancouver Island where I live, I encountered First Nations who lived close to nature and held an age-old conviction that ‘All is One’. They consider themselves part of the forests and the ocean, and live in harmony with their environment as the have for ten thousand years. But indigenous communities have been isolated in reserves and remote villages along the coast, and their beliefs about the world have minimal influence on the settler population.

In Canada, as in the United States, commerce and the economy were, as they are now, the most featured elements of national life. Jobs, profits, the standard of living trump all other aspects of human enterprise. These are the focal points of our materialistic culture. Finding spirituality among the artifacts of corporate and business activity seemed like a lost cause. As hard as I looked, I found no alternative to the concentration on property, trade and commerce.

I was becoming reconciled to not finding evidence of spirit. Then, by chance, I attended a weekend talk that introduced the emergence of a completely new worldview. Brian Swimme, a young cosmologist from California came to Victoria to talk about recent discoveries in his field.

Swimme presented relatively new information from the American space agency, NASA. It had very recently announced that the data that they collected from the COBE satellite, a five year probe of the sky, confirmed a revolutionary finding: the cosmic background radiation, the remnant of the initial flaring out of the energy, confirmed that Big Bang had caused the universe to unfold and to become what it is today. NASA had mapped the energy field and proved that the universe had a beginning. Albert Einstein was correct when he theorized that all the energy of the Cosmos flowed forth in a single moment. Everything in the universe, including the human species owes its being to the first outpouring 13.7 billion years ago. As recently as the early 90s, NASA had introduced this evidence to the world.

When the universe began by pouring out all its energy in a single flash of light and heat it set in motion an unbroken chain of cause and effect that over time gave rise to everything from galaxies to butterflies. In our time, cosmologists and quantum physicists have looked at the near infinitely large expanse of space and the infinitely small subatomic particle world. At both ends of the spectrum, energy is the fundamental constituent. Scientists have confirmed that matter is constellated energy. We are all fundamentally energy. Solidness is a misperception of our senses that are unable are unable to perceive the atomic level. If we could, we would behold the constituents of matter as particles that are not things but whirling dynamic energy. At that level, everything in the universe is interconnected, no matter how great a span of space that separates us.

With the onset of this new revelation coming from the universe through our most brilliant scientists, the fundamentals of materialism are shattered and eclipsed by the principles of interconnection and oneness at the core level. From these newly revealed truths I have drawn my own conclusions about the spiritual foundations in everything.

The universe in its entirety is made from the same energy. That energy, which constituted the galaxies, is what constitutes us. Energy is but one dynamic entity, though it manifests in different ways, sometimes as wave and sometimes as particles.

All the creatures of Earth are made of light and star stuff. Carbon, a basic constituent of life comes to Earth from the stars. Photons and other particles make the atoms of our bodies, in turn forming molecules, which organize into cells. Our cells form into greater complexity creating organs and systems. Our brains have evolved over eons and are the result of the merging of complex biological systems. And all are pure energy. Everything, living and inert, shares the same creative energy.

One of the names that humankind has given to animating energy is soul. From ancient times people experienced the moment when a living being ceased to be animated. They called that moment death, and described it as the moment the soul left the body. In all life there is a moment of death. In humans, we concluded that at that moment consciousness ceased, but evidence points elsewhere.

In the materialistic era, consciousness and mind were thought to be exclusively the function of the material brain. Any creature without a brain was thought to lack consciousness. The narrowness of this definition became a problem for science in the age of the microscope as observers found smaller and smaller entities interacting independently with their environment, making choices about food and connictions.

Now it is widely accepted that every creature that is alive freely interacts with its environment is aware of what threatens or enhances its survival and is conscious. But even that broadened understanding of sententiousness does not go far enough. The energy that has been identified in the subatomic world is doing the same interactive behaviour. The molecular structure of stone is also sentient. Everything in the chain of being participates to some degree in the sentience of the universe.

I believe that the cells in my fractured back are interacting with each other and are actively reuniting to heal the broken vertebrae. No brain is necessary to accomplish wonders that are beyond the work of the mind. Consciousness is not limited to humans and mind is not limited to the brain. In a very short time our awareness of the unity of the universe has expanded exponentially.

I have come to believe that there is a dynamic unifying principle in the universe. The energy that has given rise to the cosmos is non-material, universal and evolving. That energy is equated with soul in living things, and is sentient. When humans think about spirit, we are identifying a characteristic of the nature of the universe. The idea that we have developed to describe spirit is not distinct or different from the creative force of primal energy. That conscious energy animates everything in the cosmos.

The universe reveals itself as a single entity, not just a collection of discrete parts. The all-encompassing unity is a primary and essential quality of its existence. However, it also reveals itself as simultaneously granular. We encounter the world as separate entities. Einstein discovered that light manifests as either particles or as wave depending on which is being sought. While the paradox of individual and multiple may seem a contradiction, it is part of the underlying mystery of the diversity of the universe. Finally, the universe presents itself as developing. There has never been a static moment in the life of the universe from the first gush of light and heat that forged the elements that would be the building blocks of the galaxies to this moment as it learns about itself in the experiences of humanity.

The paradox of the multivalent expression of its mysterious presence is that is at once non-dualistic and unified and graced with unimaginable diversity. We are aware of the Earth’s diversity, but what must the infinite possibilities of evolution be in the billions of suns among the multi-billion galaxies so far beyond our reach. The deeper we look the greater is our consciousness of our unity with each other and with every other being.

The sages and mystics have always known this unifying reality. We have for example the words attributed to Jesus, “The Father and I are one.” The early followers thought of infinite love and creativity being personified and incarnated in humanity. They also understood spirit to share in that unity.

I have experienced that the energy that animated a loved one was not extinguished by death. Conscious energy that we associate with the essence of personality is not destroyed or assimilated just as other forms of energy are not newly created or destroyed. Again, sages and mystics have long recognized that the conscious loving essence passes away from its physical form but continues to remain individuated. I have drawn great personal strength from knowing that my conscious energy will persist beyond the moment of my death.


Practical implications of cosmic spirituality

My beliefs are bringing me into wholeness

1. I am experiencing no fear as I face my impending death.

2. I believe that as a conscious entity I will transcend the end of my life on earth.

3. I am a spark from the creative fire that launched the universe.

4. My life has infinite significance as a manifestation of the universe acting in this time and place.

5. I am one with all being in the cosmos – not separate or alone.

6. I trust that every thought and action, public or private, has grown out of the consciousness of the universe and has contributed to the unfolding of the cosmos.

7. I believe that in loving – at every level – I experience the unity of the unified field where I am one with the other and the All.

8. I believe that the universe has always been the prime source of revelation about the imminent and transcendent. And I assert that the universe has been actively increasing its self-revelation to Earth in our time.

9. Because I believe that everything is connected, “All is One,” we carry an obligation to one another to be peace makers, to the environment to be stewards of the Earth, to the universe to be agents of positive unfolding, in whatever way we understand that.

10. We are connected to the past as to the foundation of our evolution, and we should respect the wisdom and good will that has contributed to our lives, and learn from the negative behaviors that do not contribute to the universe or foster wellbeing on earth (pollution, war, slavery, poverty, and degradation of others).

11. I believe I have an obligation to be open to the benefits of a changing worldview. I need not cling to ideas and beliefs that do not contribute to an expanding consciousness.

12. When I look for guidance in making moral choices, my inner compass should point to the most loving course of action. I will resist looking outside myself at laws and rules, but rather examine the truth that is written in my heart.

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