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Lecture Looks Inward to Look Outward

Inaugural Massey lecture focuses on the understanding of ourselves and the universe

In the course of matriculation, a Morehouse student may hear about the importance of various forms of unity. But it was a “fundamental unity of life” that provided the theme for the inaugural Walter E. Massey Lecture on Science and Spirituality during Science and Spirituality Week Crown Forum on April 6.

Guest lecturer John Hagelin, a quantum physicist and director of the Institute of Science, Technology and Public Policy at Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield, Iowa, discussed the upsurge of research on how a transcendental, or meditative, state can lead to the ability to understand the fundamental unity of the universe.

“Nature is superficially diverse but fundamentally unified,” Hagelin said. “Experience of our core unity is fundamental not just to inner peace, but to outer peace.”

A published scholar, Hagelin also focused on how humans can use the same meditative state to improve their everyday lives. He noted that some researchers believe a higher state of consciousness can lead to better physical and mental health.

“Fragments in the human brain lead to high levels of stress.” Hagelin said. “Unity brings deep peace. That spiritual experience is our birthright.”

A physicist in his own right, President Walter E. Massey ’58 acknowledges that Hagelin’s theories are controversial in the scientific community, and does not necessarily agree with his point of view.

“I certainly do not find science and spirituality to be incompatible,” Massey said. “However, the fact that science and spirituality are not incompatible does not mean that they share the same processes and methodologies, and frames of reference or understanding how the universe, including ourselves, function.”

But that difference in schools of thought illustrates the fundamental purpose of the lectures - to be provocative and stir debate among the campus community.

“My hope is that in years to come, the Walter E. Massey Lectures on Science and Spirituality will be characterized by a great diversity of opinion – and, most important – healthy dialogue and debate about what science and spirituality can contribute, both separately and collectively, to our understanding of what it means to be human,” Massey said.

The Science and Spiritual Awareness Crown Forum served as the induction of the 20th annual Martin Luther King Jr. College of Ministers and Laity, where 41 religious and community scholars were honored. Among them were Morehouse graduates Kirby Clement ’66, Vernon C. King ’83 and Joseph C. Parker Jr. ’74.

Additionally, the late Coretta Scott King (Hon. ’70) was posthumously honored with the Gandhi, King, Ikeda Community Builder’s Prize. The Chapel paid tribute to King, humanitarian Kaneko Ikeda, and his wife, Daisaku Ikeda, by unveiling oil portraits of the three community leaders.

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