By Life Positive
What do our readers think of the coming together of science and spirituality?
Science and spirituality are totally compatible. The purpose of both is pursuit and realisation of truth, though the methodology may be different. Spirituality is perfectly logical, rational and scientific. Modern science is only two or three hundred years old. It is still evolving.
Whether validated by the very limited modern science or not, spiritual truths and processes have been, and will continue to be, true and valid. As science progresses, it will discover methodologies of scientifically validating many spiritual truths, practices and attainments like meditation and different yogic practices. Science only has proved that the universe is one whole and various planets, including earth and human beings, like millions of other life forms, emanated from the same supreme Source.
Successful experiments are going on in many parts of the world to verify and establish paranormal phenomena.
Truly spiritual people have scientific temperament. Great scientists have been spiritually inclined. At a conference on science and spirituality at the Indian Institute of Advanced Studies (Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore), renowned scientist Charles H. Townes, who received the Nobel Prize four decades ago for discovering the phenomenon of maser, told me that the deeper a scientist goes, the more spiritual he becomes.
- D.R. Kaarthikeyan, President,
Life Positive, New Delhi
Both science and spirituality seek truth, encourage individual experimentation, and engage with the reality of creation. The search for truth demands clarity of thought and discrimination. The realms that open up through spiritual experimentation and experiences are largely uncharted and require a vigilant mind. But, also, there is a discrimination that is beyond mental logic and rationality and is much more effective – a discrimination arising from the faculties that are beyond the mind. These open up through spiritual discipline and are more reliable and in touch with truth than the mind. But till that happens, it is good to rely on the mind. Scientific temper, that is the discipline of observing, experimenting, verifying, concluding, is very important as well.
The collaboration of science and spirituality essentially should be in learning from each other – science to break out of its superstitions and limitations and expand its means to include subtler ranges of consciousness (other than the physical), and spirituality to integrate scientific methods in its communication of inner reality.
- Anuradha, Gnostic Center, New Delhi
Partners in Seeking
True spirituality is very much compatible with science as both complement one another in the quest for truth. Physicist Fritjof Capra writes in Uncommon Wisdom how Werner Heisenberg could understand the abstract tenets of modern physics better in the worldly sense after his discussion with Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore. His Holiness the Dalai Lama told American astrophysicist Carl Sagan that if science could prove reincarnation wrong, he would have no reason to continue with his own belief in it, as the objective of Buddhism is the same as that of modern science – the search for truth.
True spirituality begins with logic, rationality and scientific temper. Faith and intuition only give us direction toward which we ought to move in our search for truth. Spirituality without its roots in logic, rationality and scientific temper is dangerously superstitious and counterproductive.
Scientific validation, if available, reinforces our own subjective evidence. It helps us check if our experiences are not purely the result of wishful thinking or ego-driven. It helps us if we keep challenging and checking our assumptions by comparing them with views available from various other possible windows (including the window of scientific evidence). Faith that survives this challenge is not only stronger but also of superior quality.
I think finding proof of God or understanding consciousness through scientific methods may not help humanity. Many dacoits and criminals believe in and worship God everyday. Bin Laden is a strong believer in God. Belief in God does not make anyone a better person. Often our beliefs are only skin-deep and belief should not be checked by one’s words but by one’s actions. Many self-proclaimed theists are not aware that they do not believe in God at all – their actions prove this.
The best area for science and spirituality to join forces would be a study on the mind-body connection. The Dalai Lama has done a pioneering job in this direction by bringing together social scientists, physicists and experts on Buddhism to explore the correlation between our mental software and physical processes in the brain (and body). Another area which is important is exploring how inner harmony can be achieved among our beliefs, thoughts, speech, imagination, emotions, motives and attitude.
- Anil Bhatnagar, New Delhi
Need for Justification
Though the basis of science and spirituality is the same, their common understanding and practice seem divorced from each other. Spirituality needs some sort of justification or basis for faith that can be only provided by scientific temper, rationality and logic. Every system of belief needs justification for it to sustain itself.
I would like science and spirituality to collaborate on alternative systems of medicine, like reiki, since I have often wondered how that works.
- T.S. Revathi,Hyderabad
The journey towards self-realisation is purely experiential. However, a caveat here becomes necessary. As the truth experienced by the realized soul is something beyond the ability of human expression, both oral and written, relying only on reason for this journey can become futile. This brings in an interesting poser – can the human being attempt to understand infinity (God in other words) through the sense organs and the human mind, which are finite? This then brings in the core of eastern religious thought – that without the grace of the Almighty endowing a soul with belief, such an attempt to know or find God is bound to fail.
- Cdr Amar Singh Chauhan, Mumbai
The natural curiosity about the world and nature, when explored with an open mind, leads to awe and humility at what we don’t as yet know. This creates a desire to understand what atma or spirit is. The human mind is constantly developing and trying to decipher the meaning of existence. Abstract thoughts when processed through the logic of scientific algorithms will probably lead to a better understanding of one’s own spirituality.
- Dr Shanti Nedunchezian, Mumbai
Science and spirituality rely on logic and to that extent, have a common goal. However, the focus of science is on the physical world and that of spirituality on higher levels of consciousness. In the voyage of discovery, science relies on instruments such as telescopes and microscopes, which have become more and more sophisticated today. However, spirituality uses no such tools but relies only on one’s inner vision.
True scientists certainly will begin to understand higher realms when they see that the application of their mind alone cannot give them all answers. If, however, they succumb to the ego, they will become conceited and closed to any other direction of thought.
- Promila Gurtu, Mumbai
Spirituality is itself a science, and everyone turns to it sooner or later. Finding God is actually finding yourself and for this, practices such as meditation are the most effective tool. Science should certainly investigate more into these areas.
- Padma Raman, New Delhi
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