Are the tools of science and the insights of inner knowing starting to come together to help reduce human suffering?

Posted June 8, 2011 by IONS Staff in Big Questions

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commented on March 24, 2015
by dustproduction




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Are the tools of science and the insights of inner knowing starting to come together to help reduce human suffering?

Western culture is dominated by the intellect. We prize the rational, objective mind and have put logical thinking on the throne of high achievement. And our intellect has served us well, driving remarkable accomplishments in science, medicine, and industry since the rise of reason and materialist science during the Scientific Revolution and the Age of Enlightenment hundreds of years ago.

But all is not well in the land of the cerebral cortex. The litany of our challenges, both personal and collective, is long and seems to be getting longer. Research by IONS and others into the nature of human consciousness reveals that our deeply rooted belief systems are highly resistant to change. But change they must. As Edgar Mitchell wrote in the introduction to his landmark book, Psychic Exploration, “Now is the time to develop our nonrational abilities into a ‘subjective technology,’ which will begin the wedding of science and religion, reason and intuition, the physical and the spiritual.”

While neuroscience is providing insights (such as research on meditation) into aspects of human consciousness, and the field of positive psychology reminds us of our capacity to do good in the world, what else could be done to apply scientific discoveries and the depth of our inner knowing toward helping reduce human suffering.

What do you think?

Please join this discussion by sharing your response to this question in the comment space below.

Read an excerpt from the introduction of Edgar Mitchell's book, "Psychic Exploration."

  • Anonymous Icon

    dustproduction Mar 24, 2015

    Re: "We prize the rational, objective mind and have put logical thinking on the throne of high achievement."

    We might prize it because we are incapable of achieving it, most of us are irrational, some more than others. To a measurable degree we lack objectivity even in terms of ourselves. Logical thinking was and is employed to support of obvious falsehoods.

  • Anonymous Icon

    Imagination Mar 22, 2015

    Are the tools of science and the insights of inner knowing starting to come together to help reduce human suffering? Yes. The Internet/www has made available insights about inner knowing, thought, New Thought, metaphysics, spiritual metaphysics, noetics, etc. X-ref: The Secret (2006) - film; Limitless (2011) - film, Random Acts of Kindness day, Earth Day, etc.

  • Ponsie Nov 18, 2012

    Dear Cassandra
    Thank you for these topics and to everyone who has contributed to the creation and furtherance of the IONS mission. I am a bit of a late starter here (40 years I believe!) so apologies if there is unacknowledged repetition of material that has appeared elsewhere in IONS’ research and discussion topics. Also, because of this, if IONS wishes to manage this submission elsewhere or differently, that’s fine.
    Reducing suffering looks like a goal we can all agree on, however, whether effective principles to deal with it can ever be discovered through the use of the familiar tools of science is another matter... unless we now understand science to be a search for truth, rather than just profit-driven, interim conclusions about physical phenomena. I’m sure there are effective tools for noetic research but they need to be appropriate to the questions…
    What we hope to discover from noetic research will depend, I believe, on our ability to ask the right questions and that depends, in turn, upon starting with an intuitively plausible model which the questions must serve to test and refine. As many have said, this is a process…how far have we got?
    So, as concisely as possible for present purposes, I would like to offer for discussion, the following basic propositions for initiating (maybe you have already done this?) a model of the noetic world we live in, one that should, if it is to succeed, become increasingly coherent and intelligible as we go along.
    To begin with, can we agree that the following observations rate as ‘facts’… are we ready to tick them off and see where it takes us?
    • We humans actually live in a metaphysical world (the psyche), but in order to function and engage with a physical world and the people round us, we nevertheless need input from our senses. Reacting and processing this information is all psychological, internal and intangible stuff which includes suffering and joy – the raw material of IONS’ projects. Therefore, in an important hierarchical sense, the physical world is secondary to the metaphysical world – more-or-less the exact opposite, I presume, of the currently dominant cultural/academic assumption.
    • Ironically, physical (materialistic) science has nevertheless taken us to one very important philosophical inference which is perhaps the greatest ‘scientific’ discovery of our era and fully justifies its core purpose: As we can now perceive it, our physical Universe is orderly and devoid of chaos. If we accept this, can we take the seemingly logical and important next step of accepting this as evidence that the metaphysical realm, also being part of Nature, is similarly orderly and devoid of chaos?
    With best wishes - Bruce

  • Anonymous Icon

    iamonesoru Jun 20, 2012

    Dearest dustproduction:
    I have absolutely no need to convert anyone to my way of thinking. I make impartial observations as an impartial observer who has spent many years learning to become impartial through self reflection and observing myself in relationship with the world around me.

    I have no "need" to prove anything. I really don't care whether you, or anyone else, believes anything I say because what you believe does not affect me, it only affects you and your experience of reality. I share what I have learned in the hope that you or someone else may possibly gain some insight into yourself because I know that you are much, much, more than your experiences in the world have taught you to believe yourself to be.

    I have learned to love and accept myself and as a result I have no need to be loved, accepted, or believed by others. By removing any emotional attachment to "needs", I have become the master of my emotions, and because of this no one in my world has the power to affect me emotionally because I have learned that I don't have to give them that power.

    Love is the greatest power in the universe, and I choose always to share this with all others and as a result I have learned how to be truly happy no matter what is happening in the illusion around me. Please forgive me if my wish to share this knowledge with others offends you in any way. I did not intend for it to.
    Love and Blessings to all here

  • Anonymous Icon

    dustproduction Jun 12, 2012

    " .... has caused us to assign one half of our mind to the realm of the sub-conscious."

    As if we could assign mind or brain at will.

    Quite poetic, as is the statement, " This half of the human mind has come to be called “Satan”, and the ego." but meaningless really, outside of the context of its own belief structure, which is understood and adhered to by relatively few.
    What is it called in neuroscience?

    Listen to the video and then provide any scientific evidence of any of what is being suggested in the rest of the comment.
    Now if the suggestion is that this is a personal understanding, and a structure of belief of how an order might be modeled, that would be acceptable. But even IONS seeks to follow a scientific path to an understanding of the paranormal and spiritual. Science is by its very nature a evolving discourse which is built onto from an understanding of the work of others. It is not as we say it is simply for the convenience of our argument and conjecture.
    But again, I must question why people feel the need to convert others to think as they do. There is no evidence for much of what is tossed about here. We are all to believe what we want, but belief must be clearly label so as not to deceive others. Science does this, and if others think that it does not it is because they do not understand the principles of the scientific methods, and subscribe to the pop-science repeated in the news.

  • Anonymous Icon

    iamonesoru Jun 06, 2012

    Since the earliest recorded history of our species, man has sought to understand the mysteries of a greater power that seemed to exist outside of us, and sought to find ways to influence that greater power to work in his favor. This is the reason we invented the concept of "God" in the first place.

    This is the reason we made idols of wood and precious metals, with our own hands, and then turned and prayed to these idols as if they had the power to influence our world.

    Because of the beliefs of our ancestors, which have been passed down to us, so much confusion has been sown over the course of millennia that the human mind, or psyche, has become split, and our own fear of this deity has caused us to assign one half of our mind to the realm of the sub-conscious.

    This half of the human mind has come to be called “Satan”, and the ego. It is basically a sub-human altered ego that operates in the same realm as the consciousness of the body, or that part of our consciousness that controls the processes of our bodies that we do not usually consciously control.

    This half of our mind is, in reality, what has been called the Divine Feminine and also the emotional body. It is the part of our mind that operates emotionally and intuitively and its information or data is processed through the right hemisphere of our physical brains. Because we repress this half of our mental ability, we aren't able to properly translate and integrate the information or data coming from this half of ourselves.

    Because of the confusing paradoxical fearful beliefs we have been taught about a patriarchal, monotheistic deity we call God, we have relegated one half of our mind to a sub-conscious, sub-human condition that is able to control our actions through instinctive responses to experiential catalyst by overriding our mental processes.

    The intellect or mental masculine half of our mind now exists in an age of information and technology that is more like "science fiction" and our emotional intuitive half still exists in the dark ages. It has not evolved with the rest of us. As a result we are mentally and emotionally imbalanced and becoming more and more mentally and emotionally unstable every day.

    We invent new technologies without an awareness of the ramifications of these technologies, nor the destructive uses to which they may be put. Believe it or not, a practical rather than esoteric understanding of our emotional energy system, called the chakras by eastern and new age philosophy and the seven churches or seven seals of the Revelations in western religions, is necessary to the understanding and reconciliation of the contradictions and false beliefs of our split psyches.

  • Anonymous Icon

    dustproduction May 15, 2012

    The statement that "Research by IONS and others into the nature of human consciousness reveals that our deeply rooted belief systems are highly resistant to change," seems to have it backwards, as it externally objectifies our belief systems and renders us victims to it. This is have a relinquish our self control so easily.
    Are belief systems innate, or are they passed on from parent to child, and through social norms, the way language and religion is passed on?
    One small example might be the way C-section births have risen to 1/3 of all births in the US. Why did we start to believe this was "natural" or necessary.
    If we seek to reduce suffering let us start with ourselves and reduce the inner conflict we so often ignore in favor of the belief in our own goodness. The neuroscientist Sam Harris gives us this neuro-reflective insight:
    "According to a recent Pew survey, 21 percent of atheists in the United States believe in “God or a universal spirit,” and 8 percent are “absolutely certain” that such a Being exists. One wonders if they were also “absolutely certain” they understood the meaning of the term “atheist.” Claiming to be an atheist who believes in God is like claiming to be a happily married bachelor. Rarely does one discover nonsense in such a pristine state.

    In small ways we all create suffering, directly are indirect.
    We may be more "Green" but we still harbor mean. So lets recycle goodness.

  • Anonymous Icon

    dustproduction May 15, 2012

    In an essay that appeared in The Wall Street Journal, adapted from his book, "The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined," Stephen Pinker, Professor of Psychology at Harvard University outlines several reasons, none of which have anything to do with meditation, consciousness, or positive psychology.
    " Evolution has a speed limit measured in generations, and many of these declines have unfolded over decades or even years. Toddlers continue to kick, bite and hit; little boys continue to play-fight; people of all ages continue to snipe and bicker, and most of them continue to harbor violent fantasies and to enjoy violent entertainment.

    It's more likely that human nature has always comprised inclinations toward violence and inclinations that counteract them—such as self-control, empathy, fairness and reason—what Abraham Lincoln called "the better angels of our nature." Violence has declined because historical circumstances have increasingly favored our better angels."

    Being human is all it requires.

  • Anonymous Icon

    thoromli Apr 25, 2012

    As Edgar Mitchell wrote, “Now is..."
    Try to live as close to NOW as possible will help the humanity...

  • Leigh Aug 01, 2011

    Are the tools of science (and the insights of inner knowing) starting to come together to help reduce human suffering?

    What is <i>suffering</i>?

    Is it a process some need to engage to learn? to grow? If a person is truly suffering at the hands of another, should the perpetrator be immediately eclipsed with no consequences for those instilling justice?

    Is suffering something we see in others, though they are accustomed to living a path different from our own? It may not then be suffering but a lifestyle. Is suffering, then, a place where science can use its tools toward suffering's reduction?

    "Western culture is dominated by the intellect"? I disagree. If we were dominated by intellect, some would not engage in overproductive childbearing behaviors, knowing what healthy beings consume. If beings are unhealthy, there is an additional strain on resources, though unhealthy problems draw on intellect to work toward a solution, resulting in mental growth.

    If someone were insightful and blessed with inner knowledge, as you suggest, why would he or she not use these gifts and end collective suffering, once honestly defined?

    And if we were driven by intellect, why would we as a people choose to be obese, loud, mean, material hoarders, or unkind? Is the intellect separate from emotion? Or is a blending of all intelligences, however dispersed, necessary to be considered before we are capable of intellectual thought?

    Can the tools of science remedy, balance, and make right all suffering, whatever it might be, or would science measure its degree based on each individual's definition of <i>suffering</i>?


  • Anonymous Icon

    Trish Jul 19, 2011

    It might help if we stop thinking "science" means Western Technological Positivist scientific method and authority. If (e.g.) Noetic Science is given a place within science in the wider sense we are halfway there. By the same token, formal religious belief-structures (which equate to narrow Western science in their potential for destructiveness) must be contrasted with the mystical traditions found within even the most dogmatic religions -- Islam has Sufism, Christianty has the Christian mystics, etc.

  • Anonymous Icon

    lecubiste Jul 09, 2011

    We have the clash of two different world-views - the ancient religious and spiritual view, complete with cosmologies that explain origins and ends, and the scientific worldview that examines from the objective outside perspective and reduces everything to fundamental particles. The former is wholistic but uncritical and the latter is reductionistic and partial. One could say that a wholistic science wouldn't negate or ignore the spiritual domain of human experience, and an open-minded religiosity would embrace all scientific methods as valid and providing valid information. Those two would be one and the same hybrid belief system, thesis and antithesis into synthesis.

    We see now modernism and tradition at battle in the Islamic world as internal conflicts push and pull the cohesion of cultures. We see the same all over the world. This just seems to be the way of history, but I believe we are getting there incrementally every day in many ways.

  • Anonymous Icon

    Dianz2 Jul 09, 2011

    The question is "... starting to come together..." and I think that science and the insights of knowing are coming together - in fact I think they have come together for those that are looking at these two aspects together. Most scientists are looking at one small area of interest, which is what scientists do. And many people that are looking at insights of knowing look at what they know - which for many is religion. We don't look outside of "what we know" or "what we know we don't know" because it's not even a possibility. But when one little thought or idea prompts some curiosity then it gives us an option, a little opening to look further. That's how we all shift from one belief system to another. I don't think it's something that can be forced, but I think it is something that can continue to be talked about and this allows for people to learn and for the number of people that are looking and learning and teaching to grow in number. Even the PBS TV show "nova" has recently aired a few shows that definitely bridge this thinking. The early adapters have to allow for the wave of the masses to catch up. There are signs for success and there are signs for defeat, for me, I am looking at the signals of successful transition and pointing them out whenever I can. But I'm an optimist.

  • Anonymous Icon

    justbille Jul 08, 2011

    Whenever I read about or hear about some new advance in life, I always ask myself, Are these advancements reaching those whose socio-economic condition is such that the basic human needs are being realized allowing them the opportunity to be involved in this process? Is it even possible for these advances to reach all 7 billion of us? Or is it more likely that, as is portrayed in the ending of the movie 2012, only a select few will truly benefit from this? I have to wonder if the recent obsession with the 2012 phenomonon may well have its roots deep in our collective subconscious that we have pushed the limits to the extreme and nothing short of a catastrophy is going to set things right again? Just a thought.

  • Anonymous Icon

    Stardust9 Jul 07, 2011

    I have to believe they are and in so doing hope to be a causal factor in making it so. Our thoughts are powerful and I believe one person at a time, changing what we expect, will ultimately create the 100th monkey. The result we want needs to start as something we can believe will happen...or it won't.

  • ewaweel Jun 25, 2011

    Hi to all,
    The original question on this forum was : what could be done, using science and technology along with our new understanding of human consciousness, to reduce human suffering around the world. Could Noetic science be a form of medical science?

    We already have the level of science and technology to reduce most human suffering on this planet. We all agree on the fact that science and consciousness have to be united again for the benefit of Humanity, but for the moment, this is only a dream and, as such, an illusion. The question could have been : how can we make the Noetic dream come true.

    Science and technology are controlled by large corporations. These financial empires are, in turn, controlled by very few shareholders, the so-called masters of the world. Financial power in the hand of those individuals is the key to reduce human suffering using their technology and our Noetic consciousness.

    To reduce human suffering, and hence to raise Humanity to its next level of consciousness, this Institute now need to have ambassadors from the parallels worlds. These “elders”, “ambassadors” or “lobbyists” can make the Noetic dream come true and help reduce pain and suffering for Humanity.

    E.W. Aweel

  • PonsAnimus Jun 14, 2011

    true, absolutely true. On the other hand, is that bad ? - On the science way mankind found a lot of interesting facts which we almost all use in daily life. The sacred believe of many people seems to be the engine which drove classic scientists forward with the target to proof that there is nothing beyond our 5 sences. Well, meanwhile they have shown that there is a LOT beyond our 5 sences *giggles*.
    I like that and am curious what else will be revealed on the way. As I said earlier, maybe this is the key-way... the yin and yang basic on our search for enlightment. In the end it is classic science which gave us computers and internet, by which we now can communicate to find equal minded people on their search for spiritual insight....not bad..eh ?
    hip hip hurray for science - for they open more ways to finaly find out that the infinity is a cycle beyond our influence ;)

  • Anonymous Icon

    angelica1 Jun 13, 2011

    I believe that technology has tried to supercede our sacred beliefs, and that in NOT TO BE.

  • E. R. Jun 10, 2011

    Maybe, one day but I haven't seen anyone using new methods to solve the Palestine-Israel conflict or the clashes between religious sects.

  • PonsAnimus Jun 08, 2011

    I do believe that science insights and spiritual insights are just 2 roads, which will one day melt as one. There are already a lot of junctions, but unfortunately both sides seem to refuse to see them. Maybe it is because only a few really try to find a way to communicate on equal terms. Lets take the words energy. Science has a formula and a definition of what energy is. Spiritual people use the same word but fill it with something that is beyond a mathematical definition. Both point at each other and say: You have no idea of what you talk ! Anyway, what is energy then ??? In the basic it is something that is within all objects. Both would have to agree on that. It is something that can influence living beings and is actually needed by them them to survive. Both would have to agree on that. Now there are several kinds of energy in the definitions of science and each time a new "sort" of of energy is detected, the formula are changed to follow the new insight. Built machines only register the quantity and reaction of energy but not the "quality" of its nature. A good example is the theory of relativity. It was stated that a photon obviously has no mass, if not moving, but when it does it has. So the background thoughts of science had to be changed according to that insight to keep the detailed formula working. Anyway it seems that it is possible that material objects are in the end energy string-junctions of a multi dimentional space not yet discovered, which is again what spiritual people feel, too..... not ?
    oops, already a long post, so i better give it a stop. For me science and spirtual work are just two sides of the same coin. We should stop trying to proof one side wrong ! ;) On the other hand, maybe that is exactly the key-way to a universal thinking.

  • charliet Jun 08, 2011

    I don't know if we will ever achieve the goals of which you speak. We, as the human race, would have to set aside religion, politics, tribalism, prejudice, money and ego. Only then could we come together and collectively cure all suffering, feed the hungry and heal the earth. The list is probably much larger and more complex than I have written. These things are embedded in us and would be near impossible to change, lack of education in many countries also contributes to this.
    I oft times wonder if these things can never be changed, maybe they are not supposed to be changed. We have come to an age of spiritualism, we know that "life" continues after physical death, we know that we can reincarnate, we do go on. Why do we come to this earth? Is it to learn the lessons we are trying to overcome, suffering, religion, politics, etc, etc? Is this the best way for the spirit we are to learn these lessons, to experience them in the physical realm of the earth?
    I would love to see the human race come together as one, all suffering to end and the world to be cleansed. But maybe it is not to be, or, maybe that day will come. We can only try.


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