But the cornerstone of coherence is the experience of being a unified whole in our own right as individuals. This is a potential available to us as human beings because we have two aspects to our identity. We have an inner self, and a personality self. And in this book I want to show how it is the meaningful relationship between these two aspects that opens the space of coherence in us, with its percolating lift of relief and perspective, which then leads to coherence in how we think and what we create.
The modern west mostly ignores the presence of our inner self, so that its potential lurks like the proverbial elephant in the room that no one talks about. Only this elephant is not just in a room, it is in the entire social and cultural world we inhabit. Alan Watts described this syndrome as a taboo:
"The most strongly enforced of all known taboos is the taboo against knowing or what you really are ..”
from ‘The Book on the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are’
To acknowledge the inner self goes against a prevailing orthodoxy that takes its cue from scientific reductionism which sees the world as material only, including human beings. According to this view, our minds, emotions and personalities are just electrical firings in the brain cells. Scientific reductionism has coalesced out of interpretations of the theory of evolution, psychology and genetics. The end result is the notion that we, like the rest of the flora and fauna, are biological survival mechanisms, driven by the imperative of genes that want to reproduce themselves.
But this interpretation of the life-sciences has not kept pace with the discoveries of quantum physics which showed, over a hundred years ago, that matter is not simply material because at the sub-atomic level particles appear to be temporary energy waves appearing and disappearing out of a vast ocean of deeper energy. Therefore the advance guard of science, which is physics, tells us that something else is in the mix, and that all of matter is interwoven with an energetic or non-material aspect. And on this basis alone, the scientific reductionist approach is incoherent because it is not logically consistent with the findings of physics.
In my own experience, the existence of a deeper aspect of myself has always been obvious, and characterizing humans as highly complex biological survival systems seems a bizarrely narrow view. But more importantly, I believe that because this view is incoherent, it leads to incoherence in our thought and actions both as individuals and as a society. This is because it conditions us to think of ourselves as what I term the personality self only, defined by the sum total of the nature and nurture elements allotted to us. As a result, we mostly override the presence of our inner self, discount its promptings and thereby drain life of its deeper meaning.