THE BOOK THAT WROTE THE LIFE- a talk given to the Scientific and Medical Network. Horsley Park June 2014
(Report by Grethe Hooper Hansen in Network Review Summer 2014 No115)
The final speaker was Philippa Rees, whose book
Evolution-Involution, an epic poem on the story of the Western mind, is currently receiving ecstatic reviews. Her topic for this conference was Involution – the Book that Wrote a Life, an account of the events and personal stories that shaped her book. What she gave us was a profound and extraordinary experience of the feminine aspect of consciousness, which broke all the rules of rational-objectivist science.
She explained to us the ‘cathedral of consciousness’: keep your eyes open and receive everything that happens as a necessary part of your process. “Never look for a stone but use the stone you just picked up”, noticing the instantaneity of thought and event. The thread of your consciousness is dictating the evolution of your process. She was educated in literature, science and theology, chose to work in science and at one stage, worked with the Max Planck Institute of Behaviour. It was after she married and had children, at age 29, that her life suddenly fell apart; within a short time, she had lost children, home and husband. But she also noticed that at the same time as this disaster, her connection with nature had deepened: birds would land on her shoulder and she became sensitive enough to read thoughts directly.
It was evident that she was evolving.
Her view of evolution was the opposite of the conventional view: ‘involution’, a concentric unfolding of experience whereby an incremental accretion of negative actions, occurring at every cellular and molecular level, takes the person deeper inside. This is a basis for the building of consciousness. Soon, her inner poet, mystic and scientist were all active and she was writing. She described a voyage by banana boat to a conference at Oxford, her critical interaction with three men who could help in her career, and the collapse of all her possibilities in a single instant during a horrible interview. She used poetic narrative in an attempt to create the multi-dimensionality of her experience. But her unusual ways of working eventually landed her, for a while, in a mental hospital. That too was grist to her mill because the point of involution is deep exploration of one’s own inner essence to align with the power within.
She described the way she changed psychically, noting all the stages of the evolution of an individual who was rising to a different state of consciousness, and how this altered utterly all her interaction with other humans. There were also constant gifts of divine intervention. She noted the relevance of her life to her ideas, rather than the conventional view of ideas shaping life. It was the individuals, the solitaries and mavericks with their feet in an evolutionary past, becoming part of what they interacted with, who moved forward.
There was another marriage and more children and now that she is 73, her book is written and published, 52 years in the making.
At the end of Philippa’s talk, a crowd of women rushed forward to gather round her, drawn like iron filings to a magnet by the energy of her radiating heart although the rational mind would find a reason for their enthusiasm such as her demonstration and explanation of a way of working that we all know and love to use (albeit not to the same poetic level) but try to suppress and conceal, rather than delighting in it, learning from it and constantly extending it as she did.
Evolution Involution was reviewed by David Lorimer in the Winter 2013 Network Review. It opens with Teilhard de Chardin: “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience, we are spiritual beings having a human experience”. Philippa first explores the concept of involution in prose and then, more deeply, in poetry, a dialogue in nine Cantos between Reason and Soul on the history of everything. Involution implies that the soul already knows; the ideas have only to emerge. They are presented in a poetic, metaphorical and meditative way to encourage readers to recognise and explore their own depths for the first time. Don’t miss this opportunity.
(Grethe Hooper Hansen is a former head of SEAL, an international educational organisation founded to explore the concept of pre-conscious learning introduced by Dr Georgi Lozanov from Bulgaria.)