Science and Spirituality
There are some profoundly fundamental questions that humans have been pondering upon through the ages. These questions include: Where did all this – the whole world/universe – come from? Was there anything before all this came into existence or did all of it simply sprout out of nothing? Or is it all eternal without a beginning or an end? How did life begin amidst dead matter? What exactly is life? Why does it all even exist? and so on so forth.
Basically, all these questions revolve around the inherent curiosity within humans to know the absolute Truth or Reality underlying everything.
Both Science and Spirituality are geared towards getting to the bottom of it all i.e. to discover the absolute Reality. The key difference being that Science focuses on the external physical world i.e. the world external to our mind (physical body, physical objects, physical particles, physical universe, etc.), whereas Spirituality focuses on the internal world i.e. the world internal to our mind and, deeper within, our spirit.
Both are marvelous means in their own right. One big challenge Science faces though is being limited to physical matter/energy, as that’s the only thing its able to detect, monitor and experiment-with through the help of physical instruments and devices. But there is a whole different world within us – our thoughts, feelings, experiences, memories, intelligence, ego, desires, aversions, tendencies, etc. – that Science has absolutely no way of monitoring directly and objectively. There’s probably lot more going on inside our minds combined than in the whole physical universe! Mainstream Science tries to circumvent this limitation by assuming that everything can be reduced to physical matter/energy and can be explained in terms of particles, forces, etc. It also assumes that the mind and the consciousness we feel inside our head are nothing but an emergent phenomena of certain bio-electrical signals flowing through the neurons and certain chemical reactions occurring inside our brain cells, with absolutely no clue how physical matter that is mostly made-up of fat, protein, carbohydrate and water can pull off such a feat!
What if the absolute Reality is actually beyond physical matter/energy? There is already some scientific evidence of it. For instance, we have discovered that less than 10% of the total mass-energy constituting the whole universe is in the form of physical matter/energy. The rest 90%+ is something called dark matter/energy which is very different from the physical matter/energy we know of. Moreover, there have been numerous incidents of individuals experiencing non-local consciousness stretching beyond the limitations of their physical bodies. There have been thousands of scientific experiments establishing the validity of many such type of experiences and as a result Science is starting to open-up to the possibility that mind and consciousness are separate from physical matter/energy. The problem of figuring out the true nature of consciousness has been termed as the Hard Problem of Consciousness. You may check out some videos on these sites to get a better idea of where Science is with this investigation: http://www.opensciences.org/videos/consciousness-studies and http://www.scienceandnonduality.com/videos.
These are strong indicators that there is way more to Reality than just physical matter/energy and the limitations imposed by them. But do we have to just twiddle our thumbs and wait for Science to discover the Reality with no sense of whether it would ever be able to do so? Since Science has just started to scratch the surface of the non-physical domain, it could take many generations before its able to make any breakthrough. And there are high chances Science might not be able to get anywhere with this investigation as its quite implausible for it to go beyond the physical limitations imposed by nature.
So is there no way we can know the Reality during this life of ours? Thankfully, there is. Countless people throughout the history of humankind have already discovered the absolute Reality. Some great persons have even highlighted clear ways for others to get there too, and its possible to do so in this very life if one is sincere. Basically, this is already a solved problem! How did this miracle happen? Well, some very smart and able people had the ingenuity of looking for the Reality within their internal worlds instead of the external world, thinking that whatever the Reality is it must also be inside of them. Its also possible that they were not really seeking Reality but just looking for peace of mind and simply happened to stumble upon the Reality as they uncovered layers after layers of their mind through deep meditation and eventually transcended even the mind to discover and experience the underlying absolute Reality. And what they experienced was absolutely out of this world – completely beyond intellect and imagination – and it brought them supreme peace and bliss! So some of them, out of their unconditional love and compassion for other beings, shared with the world what they had discovered so that others could also experience it. This is the core of Spirituality.
So, Spirituality is like a fast-track that will get you to Reality much quicker than any other means. In fact it is the only known track as of now!
But why should one even care for Reality? Primarily because all the people who have ever experienced it, irrespective of what spiritual path they took to get there, say one thing in unison – it liberates you from all miseries and sufferings of life forever, and delivers you to a state of infinite eternal peace and bliss! And no matter who you are or what you are, you are surely looking for one and only one thing in life – happiness. If you think about it, everything that you ever do is so that you can feel happy. But how flickery this happiness usually is. After so much pain-staking effort does it come and then vanishes away so quickly. Spirituality is the solution to this problem. Its the holy grail that brings enduring happiness while you are on the journey and limitless ever-lasting happiness once you get to the destination!
Like Science, some of the spiritual paths are based on reason and involve lot of observation and experimentation, but just focused on the internal world instead of the external world. One such path is Advaita (Non-Dual) Vedanta that provides a very crisp understanding of the Reality. As Science is diving deeper, its getting more and more aligned with what Vedanta has already been saying for thousands of years! (I ll be writing a separate article on this topic)
Lot of people consider Spirituality to be superstition. But after understanding it better, it almost feels like many things Science tells us are superstitious as they are just based on plain theories and assumptions pulled out of some human’s intellect! The essence of Science is its openness. But rejecting something that countless people have experienced just because the limited human intellect is not able to grasp it is utter close-mindedness. I hope you don’t fall into that trap and give-up your freedom to explore the Reality for yourself. May the force be with you!
(This article was cross-posted from happinessjourney.net/post/143641274465/science-and-spirituality)