The Heart of the Black Madonna

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Who is Really Rational

When I was conducting some research for a thesis on how the practice of medicine is influenced by the Spiritual values of a culture, I was focusing on the age of reason. I was trying to see how the concept of thinking as arising from the brain started. It was a fascinating study, because I was trying to get at how and when science started to split from religion. In ancient Chinese medical philosophy, thinking occurred in the heart. When did the concept of thinking become removed from the heart, particularly in the western consciousness? Who exactly started the split and why?

I was astonished to learn that it was actually clergy in Paris, who had seen that passions run amok during the French Revolution. They reasoned, that thinking must be encouraged from the brain and be devoid of heart sense feelings, because look at the mess that had happened in the decades before. So began in earnest the separation between thinking and feeling, of spirituality and science. 

We have experienced in a very profound way the consequences of this split, a religion that has no reasoning and a science that has no morality. We have fundamentalists from all orientations willing to kill and die for an ideal regardless of the practicality, and a science that destroys life as a "side effect." Scientists look at religion with bewilderment, as if such practices are quaint and immature. I explore this in The Black Madonna, Journey of the Human Heart, here is another excerpt from the book:

Introduction to the Second Part 

A Passionate Disclaimer

As Atheism is now a cottage industry for books, magazines and organizations, it is the belief system of those who claim to be the only sane educated ones on the planet. Atheists would say they adhere to facts, but I beg to differ, it really is a belief system, but it permeates all of modern culture. I am often deeply intrigued by how differently creation and the natural world is understood between those who have a relationship to the divine world and those who do not. When I see a magnificent mountain range or a work of art, I see the Divine manifest. The art and mountains,  they are proof to me of the existence of the Love of God for humanity, messages from the spiritual world. 

Montserrat in Catalonia Spain, Home to the Black Madonna on the Camino

An Atheist sees mountains or art as atoms, various arrangements of chemicals held together by gravity and mathematical equations. The perception of the mountains or art is reduced to hormonal and neurochemical synapses in the brain. My bias is complete, because I comprehend chemistry, gravity and the intricate workings of the brain as incredible mysteries originating and confirming the Divine, I guess I will always be this way, and to be honest it just “feels” good to me. I excuse myself as a hopeful romantic, from Southern California to boot.

Debating the existence of Spirit with a beloved cousin of mine, who is an evangelical Atheist, I asked him, “Well, what is love?” He immediately, with out any hesitation or consternation, replied, “Oxytocin.” (This is a hormone secreted by the Pituitary Gland, involved with labor and lactation, apparently now called the cuddle hormone because rat studies show when mother rats are injected with large amounts of Oxytocin, they exhibit increased grooming behaviors towards their baby rats) My cousin is a Professor of Physiology at the University of Southern California Medical School, and by the way, a loving father. (I wanted to tell him to pat a pregnant tummy, but in the interest of a harmonious family holiday celebration, I smiled and passed him the stuffing. He would not have gotten it anyways)

Since I believe in the spiritual world, I see messages, proofs everywhere of love, of harmony, of relationships, of the Divine reaching out to me, my psyche needs meaning, needs context. I think there is something that inspires the release of Oxytocin beyond my Pituitary when I weep for joy at the sight of pilgrims praying before an ancient Icon, I think there is more at work than Oxytocin when these pilgrims bow in prayer asking for a miracle to heal their loved ones. There was more than Pituitary glands at work when villagers came together to dismantle the windows at Chartres and hide them in the country side during World War II for safe keeping, more than neurochemistry synapses that caused the Poles to flock to the shrine of their Black Madonna during Communist times, risking their lives so they could pray for redemption. When I see people rally to help disaster victims, restore the land, feed starving children, weep for their dead, rejoice in the birth of a new family member, I just think, and I believe there is something deeper and more mysterious to life than the secretion of a hormone that alters brain chemistry, I feel it in my chest down to my tummy, and this orientation colors my experience of the Black Madonna. It is from this perspective, that Love is beyond Oxytocin, I comprehend the mysteries that the Black Madonna reveals.

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