The Nature of Knowing

by Steve Ryals

There is one spectacle grander than the sea, that is the sky; there is one spectacle grander than the sky, that is the interior of the soul

- Victor Hugo

Namaste, hello and, once again, welcome. Namaste is Sanskrit for "The God in me honors the God in you."

I have journaled extensively over the years, and the dialogue format of this book reflects some of the conversations I have had with my higher self. Simply think of the questions as coming from a younger, more fear-based me, and the responses from that higher place deep within us all.

I don't claim to have any answers for you. Once you've learned how to access your higher self, you'll discover that all the answers you will ever need have always been available to you. When you come to fully appreciate this, you will find all your questions answered from within. Please trust that you will recognize when your inner voice is offering guidance for your highest good. Now, let's begin by creating some context.

OK. Why don't you talk a bit about who or what you are.

To put it as simply as possible, we are a manifestation of All-That-Is, the animating spark of consciousness that you might think of as your soul, or higher self.

Wow, that seems like quite an ostentatious claim!

It is neither ostentatious nor a claim. It is simply a fact. We are a Divine expression of All-That-Is, and so are you.

What do you mean, so am I?

Every single human being is a deeply cherished manifestation of All-That-Is. Like all people, and all of creation for that matter, Divinity is your birthright. Every thing (by which we mean all facets of the universe), whether or not you consider it alive, is also an expression of the infinitely loving heart of All-That-Is. For thousands of years, numerous spiritual traditions have taught that there is really no separation between us. In Drunk with Wonder, we heartily affirm that teaching.

Recent scientific discoveries bear this out. For the sake of making sure our readers are on the same page, let's review some basic material. For those who are already familiar with this information, please bear with us. Throughout the course of Drunk with Wonder, we'll be looking at how the seemingly disparate teachings of science and spirituality are actually describing the same phenomenon, albeit from what appear to be radically different perspectives.

For example, perhaps you've heard that some cosmologists consider the universe to be holographic. A hologram is a three-dimensional image contained within a photosensitive medium, such as a flat glass plate. The most amazing quality of a hologram is that, if the plate is broken, no matter into how many fragments, each fragment still contains the entire image.

I've known about holograms for years, but I still find it a difficult concept to grasp.

Quite understandable, though it's not really an issue here. When we call the universe holographic, we simply mean that each part, no matter how infinitesimal it may appear, contains the essence of the entire universe. Similarly, every cell in your body contains the DNA blueprint for your entire body, everything from your skin color to how long your eyelashes are. This underlying holographic truth is also the source of the foundational belief of many spiritual traditions, including Buddhism, Hinduism, Sufism and many indigenous cultures.

I was raised in the Unitarian Church. Sunday school largely consisted of increasingly detailed studies of comparative religion, so I have at least a little familiarity with those traditions.

That's a great place to start. If you're willing to explore the concept of Unity Consciousness (which both the Unitarian and Unity churches have explicitly used in their names), you will find it to be at the core of almost all theology. Jesus said, "Lift up a stone and you will find me there; split a piece of wood and I am there." Experiments in quantum physics have repeatedly validated this ancient wisdom.

More recently, superstring theories appear able to unify (at least mathematically), the four measurable forces in the universe (electromagnetic, gravity, weak and strong nuclear forces), in a way that eluded Einstein. The latest work in this field unifies five different string theory models into what is being called M-theory. This grand theory, which currently exhibits no known mathematical defects, is the closest we've come so far towards scientifically describing the underlying unity of the universe.

Physicists have also demonstrated that every subatomic particle is fundamentally connected, and that no particle can exist without affecting other particles, as well as being affected by them. Recent experiments with quantum entanglement show conclusively that this connection is not bound by space or time. As with many of the ideas we'll mention in this book, there is a plethora of information readily available in books or on the Internet.

Taking this idea of an underlying connection between the four measurable forces of the universe a step farther, it's crucial to understand that every observation we make affects what we observe. A clear example of this idea is the classic double-slit experiment. One version concludes that light is composed of particles of energy called photons. With a simple variation in this experiment, observing that same beam of light shows just as conclusively that it is a wave, or frequency, and not composed of particles at all.

The deeper truth, which can be most disconcerting, is that light is simultaneously composed of both particles and waves. It's the way we look at light that determines whether we observe a particle or a wave. In other words, the universe and our experience of it are inextricably linked. The essence of human experience is filled with paradox, something mystics of all traditions have intuitively known.

That's a lot to take in. I'm not sure where you're going with this.

Please bear with us for a moment. Where we are going is that, while science has become adept at describing the physical universe, there are innumerable observable phenomena that have so far defied conventional understanding. Science has learned to describe physical reality quite well, as far as it goes. Space, time, energy and matter have had volumes written about their empirical qualities. Simply referring to the physical attributes of something, however, particularly a living, breathing being, or quantifying the forces acting upon it, fails to capture its essence, or Spirit.

Over the past several thousand years, countless experiential observations have been made for which there have been no corresponding physical data. These experiential observations form the core of metaphysics. One of the main goals of Drunk with Wonder is to bridge the apparent gap between physics and metaphysics. By the end of the book, our hope is that you will appreciate that these two apparently disparate disciplines actually describe different aspects of the same universe within which we find ourselves.

This underlying, unifying Spirit, or Divine Presence, is the thread weaving together all that exists. Spirit is unbreakable, inseparable and utterly unified, which is why we often refer to it as The One. Though most people possess preconceived notions about what Spirit is, we use this term in a way that may be new to you.

As simply as we can put it, just as breath animates the body, Spirit is the animating force of the universe. At times called the ocean of joy, or the field of pure potential, or the alpha and the omega, Spirit is the infinite Being out of which all things become manifest. As the Bible teaches, God is the great "I Am," the unbounded awareness of pure being.

One of the most basic choices you can make in your apprehension of the world is whether the universe is Divinely inspired or merely random. From our perspective, those who speak of "intelligent design" are on the right track. Where our teachings part ways with creationists centers on the idea of an angry, vengeful God sitting in judgment over the born sinners of humanity.

As you may already have gathered, our enthusiastic choice is that God is all there is, the source of an unlimited supply of life and love. From this perspective, of course the universe is not random. It has obviously been designed as a platform within which life, in its infinite glory, can flourish. However, in a way that those on the far right would no doubt find heretical, we teach that the overwhelming scientific evidence of evolution is also true.

For us, there is no contradiction between intelligent design and evolution. God did indeed create the universe, including the laws of physics and biology. These laws make evolution, including the evolution of life on Earth as well as countless other planets, inevitable.

The infinite creative spark of the Divine takes it from the moment the universe began (In the Bible, God commanded, "Let there be light, and there was light, and it was good") to right here, right now.

With all due respect for those with differing beliefs (such as that God is judgmental, capable of anger, or reserves love for those who adhere to one, and only one, set of beliefs), we teach that God is pure, unconditional love, and that God's infinite, unending gift of love is life itself. The New Testament states this clearly, "God is Love."

The entire universe is therefore an outward manifestation, of life, the ultimate gift of love. You get to choose, on a moment-to-moment basis, what you do with this gift. Do you choose love or fear? Do you choose to own your Divinity and create the life of your dreams, or stay small and play the role of victim? In each moment, with each breath, it is your choice.

Open or Closed

When I'm feeling expanded and awake Shining with a starry residue That clings provocatively To my naked skin, The love that flows So freely through me Laps tenderly at the heart Of each Beloved

When I'm feeling closed down, asleep Dark with worry, Perspective forgotten Covered with itchy old flannel The love I am Lies immersed in An icy pool Under the blazing night

In my favorite dream I'm centered, Balanced Gracefully Between big and small, Breathing, Being

In my worst nightmare I've forgotten how to expand, Contracting inexorably into A pinpoint of darkness screaming

Dare I sleep? Dare I dream? Dare I not? It's all God

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