Our aim is to promote dialogue and discussion, to discover what we can learn from each other and, in particular, to explore the limitations that may be inherent in one particular knowledge system—that known as Western Science. It is an exploration of two different ways of knowing, two different worlds of consciousness, and a discovery of the ways that peoples can begin to have dialogues with each other, enter into relationships, and offer each other respect and courtesy that is the hallmark of humanity.
But how is such a dialogue to commence? Many of the world’s spiritual traditions speak of the impossibility of the rational mind ever approaching a deep understanding of another way of being. The same thing applies, I believe, to cultures that lie outside our own. One can no more understand them from the outside than one can describe the taste of an orange to someone who had never eaten such a fruit, nor a sunset to a blind person. How then can we grasp the flavour the odour, the spirit of a profoundly different worldview, one that cannot be approached by reason, analysis, description, and accumulation of facts alone?
The answer I believe is that we can come to some form of knowing, albeit in a strictly limited way, through an actual change in consciousness. It is my belief that, at its deepest level, the dialogue between Western and Indigenous science will engender an increasing flexibility in human consciousness, an ability to leave the boundaries of our own egos and worldview and temporarily enter those of another. And, in so doing we will engage in a new relationship; we will both give and receive; we will create alliances and become one with a much greater spectrum of consciousness, one that involves not only humans but other beings, forces, and powers of the natural world.
F. David Peat