With a foreword by Member Professor Peter Stewart, this magisterial work is a greatly extended version of the author?s earlier book Mirages in Western Science Resolved by Occult Science. The breadth of coverage and depth of thought are truly remarkable as the work of a single scholar. Edi has studied the detail and relationships of many different disciplines and integrated them into an overarching view of the relationship between Western science and occult insight or gnosis. Network readers will be familiar with the background of much of the material presented here as a development of the original work of HP Blavatsky. Both Theosophists and early members of the SPR felt that a marriage between science and mysticism was eminently possible, and that science did not have to entail an exclusively materialistic world view.
As we know, the quest and the struggle continue after 130 years. Edi makes his own position clear when he writes that ?Occult Science is not bent on toppling, but rather on uplifting Western science to an even nobler position, by using examples from Western science itself to show how it is rooted in the deeper substratum of Occult Science and Philosophy.? One needs to remind oneself that the word
science is derived from the Latin ?scientia?, meaning knowledge in a wider sense.
The book falls into three major parts: an exposition of Western science, and especially its findings on cosmology, consciousness, sound and light. The second part treats the different methodological approaches of Western science and occult science, while the third part is a detailed exposition of the tenets of occult science and the ways in which it can underpin and extend the understanding of modern physical science. Edi is a very clearly aware of the intrinsic limitations of modern science as an approach based on quantification and which does not have a coherent account of the subjective nature of consciousness.
He shows how the mind is used within this structure of argument effectively to deny itself, and draws attention to the importance of presuppositions, criticising, for instance, the assumption that realism can be equated with reality. The essential distinction between the two approaches is that scientific truth is acquired from without and is utterly different from spiritual truth revealed from within. It is the distinction between observation and participation. The author?s discussion of this point would have benefited from some references to the work of Ken Wilber, who analyses the question of
intersubjective verification of mystical insights. However, he does draw usefully on the work of Paul Brunton.
The second part begins with a discussion of the nature and structure of the Divinity, which contains some brilliant analysis of such concepts as manifestation in relation to limitation and form, and the emergence of duality and diversity within the framework of the unity of existence. He rejects the notion of a personal God who created the universe at a particular time, arguing that the universe is not separate from God, but an organic or bodily expression of deity itself. Divine action is manifested through the harmonizing principle of karma.
The principal duality responsible for manifestation is explained in terms of Shiva or divine consciousness and Shakti or divine power, a structural duality that can be found at every level of existence. This topic, as with many others, is amply illustrated by means of extensive charts. I found Edi?s definition of substance somewhat unusual, as he defined it as the ?subjective, noumenal term applied to the formmaking or vehicle-providing principle of which the object of realisation is Matter.? The function of this within Western thought would be equivalent to a morphogenetic field. Matter remains a vehicle for manifestation.
This section also contains a very useful discussion of the relationship between light and consciousness. There is an extensive chapter on various ways in which issues within modern science are resolved through occult science. This takes the form of a proposition, followed by an elucidation from Western science and a resolution using the principles of occult science.
The main proposition of the book is that at the root of the physical universe is Consciousness or Mind ? hence efforts to detect such a reality by purely physical means will never be successful. Deep self-knowledge is a prerequisite to inner insight, which stands as complementary to the outerdirected methods of modern science. Edi is highly critical of the onesidedness of a purely quantitative approach, and of the ways in which scientism castigates those who do not follow its dictates. Vast though the range of the book is, the principal focus on Theosophical writings means that the works of other perennial philosophers receive little or no attention: Nasr, Schuon, Guenon, Coomaraswamy and Ken Wilber for example.
I also felt that the rhetorical device, used twice, of a dialogue between the archetypal sceptical scientist (ASS) versus an occultist, wise and learned (OWL) lowered the tone, even if it provided some amusement. Occultists and perennial philosophers can also be rigid and dogmatic. However, these are small reservations in relation to such a profound work, which will repay close study.