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Spirit

To take a one week course on Art, Science and the Sacred with David Peat

Within many Indigenous cultures the natural world is considered alive and associated with what could perhaps be called energies, powers or spirits. Traditions suggest that, though a system of mutual obligations, society can enter into relationship with these spirits, energies, or keepers of the animals.

Maybe things were not too different within Europe of the early Middle Ages. Nature was considered to be alive and human artisans - miners, metal workers, masons, etc - were the midwifes who helped nature reach perfection. Metals were generated within the matrix of the earth and, in turn, the goldworker and the alchemist played a significant role in assisting natural processes. Then, some time, around the 13th century, a little before or a little after, things began to change. Time became secularized and matter began to separate itself from spirit. Nature became objectified, something that could be subject to laws, control and prediction. Increase in knowledge became equated with the growth of power and the new notion of progress. It was this change in consciousness that made the Renaissance possible and along with it the rise of science - or at least science within a European context.

From the perspective of progress and technology the results have been impressive in many fields. Yet it has been noted that such progress was gained at the expense of a degree of alienation from the natural world - and here we must be careful not to lapse into uncritical romanticism - human beings have become spectators rather than participators. For Peat the device of pictorial perspective (see for example Visual Code, Art and Language), in which the world is, as it where, projected out through a window as an object seen from a single, frozen view point, is the perfect image of this consciousness. Within such a world-view there appears little room for spirit.

On the other hand, physics of the twentieth century is stressing the role of the observer and a degree of subjectivity. It has also cast doubt upon the grand narratives of progress, control and definitive analysis. Is there then room for a new science, a science that could include compassion, value, a degree of subjectivity and even an element of agape for the whole of nature? Indeed, is there a space for Spirit in the modern world?

Essays:
Alchemical Transformation: Consciousness and Matter, Form and Information
Creativity: The Meeting of Apollo and Dionysus
David Bohm, Paul Cezanne and Creativity
Does Spirit Matter?
New Science, New Vision
Science, Art and the Sacred
A Science of Harmony and Gentle Action
Time, Synchronicity and Evolution
Containment and Growth



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