Colin Low  -  Who He?


Glastonbury Tor, Somerset, 2001 Colin Low was born in Scotland in 1951 and attended 14 schools in Scotland, Nyasaland and Australia. In spite of this erratic education he studied physics at the University of Western Australia and graduated with first class honours in 1972. He went on to study star formation at the Institute of Astronomy in Cambridge, UK. His entire professional life has revolved around computers, with four years as a consultant, 9 years as a lecturer in Computer Science at the University of London, and 13 years as an industrial researcher with Hewlett Packard. He has authored several academic papers and is named as inventor on 27 patents.

Colin has three sons, who make him feel outrageously proud.

Kabbalah has been a life-long passion. He began to take an interest in 1968, and studied and practiced it informally in a number of small groups before meeting a teacher in 1978. He studied and worked with her until her death in the early 90s.  

Colin states:

Shapwick Nature Reserve, Somerset, 2001My life has been oriented around understanding the nature of the world and existence. Physics provides me with the tools I need to comprehend the natural world, which is infinitely rich in structure and beauty. Part of that beauty is sensuous, accessible to sight and touch, and part of that beauty is abstract, accessible to the "eyes in our head":

But the fool on the hill sees the sun going down, 
And the eyes in his head see the world spinning around.

Two parallel levels of cognition - the sun moving, the world spinning.

Kabbalah provides me with the means to understand the inner world of my conscious experience. I find no tension between physics and kabbalah. Neither is a definitive and finished account of the world . Even in science there are multiple, overlapping levels of explanation (what Edward Wilson calls consilience) and we can afford ourselves the luxury of having many metaphors, many explanations, many frameworks. What is important is not the finished account (which will never happen): it is the process of unceasing exploration, and that in turn demands that we extend the boundaries of our existing conceptualisation.

The "spiritual" dimension is important because it dignifies life. Reason is like a piece of string that must always be tied to something solid before one can hang anything from it. There is always a first premise, always an assumption, even if it is squirreled away so cleverly that it is hard to spot.

The base assumptions in moral and ethical behaviour are not (pace Kant) derived from reason alone. They derive from millennia of experience of living in the world. All experience is interpreted, and a legitimate part of that experience (with an accompanying domain of interpretation) is what we call "the spiritual".  I am a monist: I do not see "the spiritual" as a separate level of being from "the natural world". The Hermetic Kabbalah reveals the spiritual as an act of cognitive intention, a way of being-in-the-world that opens doors of understanding and experience that are as important as anything gleaned with a spectrometer. And it is that inarticulate understanding and experience that provides the solid, fixed points on which to anchor the slender threads of reason and argument.

Photographs by Laura Cooper, 2001. 

And yes, that is Colin's hair.

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Copyright Colin Low 2001