Utne Reader Visionary: Larry Dossey

We need a science of sacred invitation

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This eminent, conventionally trained physician has some highly unconventional ideas about healing and the nature of reality. In a series of careful books that respect scientific method, Dossey has explored the many connections between science and spirituality.Healing Words of 1993 laid out an amazing array of clinical evidence for the power of prayer in healing, and these days Dossey is exploring, with his unique mixture of enthusiasm and cautious precision, the proposition that the entire world—including “inanimate” objects—is in some sense alive and conscious.

“I often hear science bad-mouthed—it’s so horrible, so remote, so cold, let’s get rid of it. I think that’s insane. The goal is to revise it—and ourselves in the process—but not toss it out. I view many scientific discoveries as revelations, as gifts, as grace; the universe didn’t have to give up those secrets, but it did, and to throw them away would be ingratitude—and would condemn a lot of people to misery.

“A scientific experiment could be seen as a sacred invitation to the universe to show up, to manifest. We would cease trying, to put Nature on the rack and torture her secrets from her. We would recover a reverential attitude toward how we exist in the world. I have a friend who does research, and when he arranges an experiment, he sees it as setting an elegant table in his house. He makes it as enticing and as beautiful as he possibly can, and then he goes to the front door of the house and just opens the doors wide. He waits to see who shows up. If nobody comes, he hasn’t arranged things elegantly enough. This is a sacred, reverential way of asking. It’s teaching. It’s waiting patiently to see what Nature will reveal.”