True science always seeks answers to the natural phenomena that we find around us. Further, the answers and hypotheses thus discovered must be able to stand up to rigorous and independent testing to become fact and established theory. These facts and theories can then serve as a guide for further enlightenment. Science must be unbiased and objective. Unfortunately, with economy at the base of everything, science can be prejudiced by subjective, interest oriented factors. We have even witnessed the emergence of a mysticism based science that borders on becoming a new later day religion. Most of us know by now what this is. Ideas, which are not proven by any means are concepts such as the holographic construct of the universe and ideas about multiple dimensions and worlds therein. None of it has been proven outside of mathematical construct that is not even complete. In addition, science is also bound by economics; in the current era; capitalist economics that has at it basis, the idea of profit and growth. Nor is scientific discovery complete and there is far more to discover and understand despite what some may say as far as reaching the end and sum of understanding.
What we do know, that has been proven and can be tested again and again at our whim and leisure are evolution via adaptation to the environment, the photo-electric effect that is used routinely in current technology, chaos and complexity theory that now allows us to understand turbulence and exploit it, chemistry, physics of machines, electrical, magnetic phenomena and so on. Since the industrial revolution, we have advanced the pragmatic side of science to a level where some of the technology that we use, would be spooky to people of a few generations ago. The common cell phone that works on a host of scientific principles and physics was inconceivable a few decades ago is an example of a modern day scientific wonder. All it takes is understanding and application of that knowledge. To the uninformed, a tiny cell phone crammed with hundreds of applications, videos and music would seem miraculous and mystical to someone who had no such understanding.
Fundamentalism, mysticism and real, materialist based and dialectical science are locked in battle at the moment and have been since the days of Evangelical fundamentalism's grip on capitalist politics during the Reagan era, though it had a measure of control even before then. It is deeply rooted in the economy and to control the economy requires the ignorance and mystification of the toilers who produce all real wealth. During the Enlightenment, the emerging bourgeoisie used science to battle against superstition, religion and mysticism. The bourgeoisie enlisted the help of the toilers to overthrow the aristocracy and church monopolistic stranglehold on the economy. This was the origins of both the French and American revolutions that have long since drifted away from the principles they once held sacred. The bourgeoisie have come a long way since then and have enlisted the aid of the fundamentalists and Catholic Church to keep the toilers in the dark. A policy of get 'em young, treat 'em rough and tell 'em nothing is in place. About the only thing the world toilers are allowed in this equation is to be mass consumers of sophisticate products that are made for the most part by robots and under engineered to fall apart or become obsolete in a year or two.
To comprehend how people can be persuaded to see things in a mystical light, we have to turn to another giant of science, Sigmund Freud. Freud never intended to be a mystic, but sought to understand the human mind. Freud determined from thought, observation and experiment, that the human mind comprised of the conscious and unconscious. One part he called the ego and the other he called the id. He recognized that the unconscious had a profound influence on the personality and could give rise to real illnesses that he identified as hysteria based illness. The cure of hysteria based illness through psychoanalysis and hypnosis appeared to the uniformed public as seemingly miraculous in manifestation. Indeed, the so called miracles of a bygone era are more likely due to the effective cure of a hysteria based illness than anything like mystical powers, though that is what they were usually explained as being. The unscrupulous have used manifestations of these cures to advance their own power and wealth and this continues to the present era. But there are a host of conditions that are not amenable to cure by psychology. These are diseases of degeneration and malnutrition. The trick is to distinguish one from the other and that's where real science comes in.
Modern research into the mind has found that the mind itself, based in the physical brain is divided into the rational, logical side and the intuitive, creative side. The mind is also divided back to front from the autonomous, so called reptilian brain located at the medulla oblongata to the frontal conscious and thinking lobes. The limbs, internal organs and senses are all controlled from various regions of the mind-brain. Most of it is unconscious and automatic, such as digestion, breathing and heart beating. A little is consciously controlled such as hand-eye co-ordination in complex tasking. The mind-brain is one of those interfaces that is analogous to the software-hardware interface of a computer. The mind does not exist without the physical brain, though a brain can exist without a mind, such as in the recently dead. Software and computers can co-exist simultaneously, but unless they are coupled together in a useful function, both are useless and for all intents and purposes, non existent in use, though existing in form.
We also have to understand the limits of the mind and senses, something a thorough going scientist understands and often has to work against. There are many aspects to the limits of sense and the mind. The eyes can only see in a narrow bandwidth of the electromagnetic spectrum of frequencies and also has a blind spot. The mind can only register activity at about 24 Hertz. That is revealed through the fact of the way that movies are constructed and why we choose AC electrical frequencies of 50 or 60 Hertz. The fact that our mind processes information at about 24 Hertz is demonstrated in the use of finely tuned strobe lights that can be used to analyze moving machinery to reveal things we would not be able to normally see in moving machines or even natural phenomenon. In fact, the use of AC current and fluorescent lighting creates a strobe effect that most people can't detect. Science has been able to augment our senses to a great degree through technology to extend our sight into the infra red, ultra violet, x-ray and at speeds that exceed our ability to detect directly through senses alone.
Mysticism is something else altogether and almost always condemned by the left. Yet the existence of mysticism does not vanish because of criticism. It is true that mysticism can be and is misused to control others, and there is hardly a time or society that did not do this, one of the more recent misuses of which occurred under Nazism as detailed in “The Occult Reich”. Real mysticism is an experience one has when in awe. That awe can come from an unhindered view of the cosmos and milky way on a chill, clear, dark night in a region far from the light pollution of large metropolitan areas. It can come from a new discovery in any field of the sciences. This is especially true in the area of quantum physics. Unfortunately, some people take this too far, such as in some of the scenes and commentary in “What the Bleep do We Know Anyway”. It can come from the realization that life and the cosmos is far greater and unknown than we can account for logically. The mystic view is behind much of the great poetry and aphorisms of the ages, such as written by Jala-al-din Rumi, William Blake, Patanjali and others. Mysticism begins when philosophers ponder questions such as “Why there is something rather than nothing?” especially when we combine this with science that ponders the nature of the origins of the cosmos.
Mysticism is often lumped together with superstition and exoteric religion and is viewed as nothing more than mumbo-jumbo at best and chicanery at worst. It is confused with fundamentalist religion because mystics of the past have been found within every major religion and some have even started new sects. Jala-al-din Rumi is considered to be the inspiration behind Sufism, a sect of Islam that emphasizes mystical ecstasy, and he is a mystic and poet. Are we to consider his major poem, the Masnavi, nothing more than gibberish and garbage to be fed into the fire, much as the Nazis did in their purges? Would we consign the art and poetry of William Blake to the same flame? We would like to think that the giants of today stand on the shoulders of giants of the past. Many mystics also had a vision for a utopian socialism, a society that Marx correctly identified as only being possible when the means of production were capable of supporting the whole of humanity at a level above starvation and shanty town living; that everyone's needs could be met and the heaviest, most dangerous work was accomplished by machine.
Mystics, such as Buddha were and are also atheist. It is this fact, plus the idea of living in harmony with all others and nature that attracted practising Buddhists to communism when Russia had its proletarian revolution. Nor was the religions we see playing in the theatre of world politics the same as it was at their foundation. In the Acts of the Apostles, we can find a description of practical communism that existed in the early days of the Christian religion. It has gone a long way from its roots, to the point of spectres, essences, spirits and the like. Though the texts of the Bible condemn idol worship, we see Christians commonly engaged in the practice. To confuse and lump a genuine mystic who is in awe of nature with the babble of psuedo-mystics who spout all kinds or weird ideas is to condemn the innocent along with the guilty. Many mystics were also romanticists like Blake who deplored the “Satanic Mills” that were ruining the lives of the people trapped therein as well as the natural setting they existed in. But these same “Satanic Mills” were the means by which the growing bourgeoisie were making their profits. They represented an industrial progress over the earlier cruder means of production. They were in the wrong hands and needed a revolutionary overhaul. We can see this more clearly standing where we are in history than it was possible then. Some would consider Blake a reactionary, wanting to return to a pristine peasant natural world instead of advancing to better means of production that can remove all of humanity from the plagues that scourge it like hunger, disease, early death and homelessness.
Mystics, such as Buddha didn't recognize the existence of a soul or an “essence” such as promulgated by and criticized by others. Those that do, such as spiritualists, do believe in some form of “spirit” or essence that exists apart from the material world and supernaturally guides it. Though the material world is changed by invisible forces and fields, science has a good grasp of these to the point of being able to use them to serve humanity, with the exception of gravity. Once science masters gravity, feats impossible now, will be commonplace tomorrow. By then, today's science will seem like mumbo-jumbo in comparison.
Let's look at the complex web of matter, mass, forces, fields and energy. All the constituent parts influence each and every other part in a complex dance that always seeks equilibrium. This is sometimes called the N-bodied problem that is complex and difficult to solve. At best we can analyze with detail, a four or five bodied system and the whole of the cosmos contains far more than that. We can talk ad-infinitum about these influences are, and science does so in the quest for an ultimate theory of everything. Until that day, we wrestle with a wide array of hypotheses in search of facts. What is certain is that we live in a diverse world, filled with countless variations that life can manifest through evolutionary adaptation to change. We look to the stars and glimpse at other planets, wondering if any are suitable for life such as ours. In a very real way, this is the mysticism of science that ponders questions such as “Are we alone?”, How is it that inanimate matter can self-organize to generate life and consciousness of its surroundings and self?” Though seemingly philosophical in context, these questions are now the domain of science since Francis Crick decided to invade territory once considered to be the domain of philosophy, religion and mysticism.
As Communists, who are interested in true scientific investigation, no matter what the field, in order to advance the cause of the world proletariat, should support all that can be rigorously and independently verified as scientific truth, no matter what cherished notions have to be swept aside. Cherished notions that stand as a block to science and real enlightenment become mere dogma and catechism, the bane of human understanding and ultimate liberation. We should refrain from censoring research into the cosmos and ourselves. To label and condemn something as false without knowing it is the worst form of ignorance and censorship. For anyone who proclaims the ideal of true liberty, this act is a backward and reactionary step. We need to weed out the false from the real and this can be done through unbiased and rigorous scientific practice.