Science and Sprituality have always shared a love-hate relationship. In today’s uncertain age of great change, do science and spirituality have to forge a new friendship to help humanity progress to the next stage of evolution?
Curious cavers from the fields of photography, physics, heritage film making, law, radiology, medical innovation, art, engineering, education and research checked in at our Cave of Plato meetup to explore the bitter – sweet relation between science and spirituality. Together, they co – created a rich tapestry of knowledge and insights with their multi disciplinary perspectives.
Cavers ditched textbook explanations and shared some deep wisdom gained through personal experiences like exploring off beat spiritual places, conversations with deep thinkers, observations during professional experiments and the death of loved ones. We then discussed how all of this wisdom can be harnessed to create a better world that’s currently plagued with multiple existential threats.
A sensational topic like this is bound to have multiple opinions and so we did, over yummy snacks and tea 🙂
Some cavers maintained that the difference between science and spirituality is that while spirituality is a purely personal experience and can’t necessarily be proved, results of scientific experiments are observable by all and can be proved repeatedly through experiments and thus can be relied on . But, how much can we rely on another person’s perception of truth, especially since superstitions and extremist religious views clouds the real spiritual quest for truth?
Other cavers said that both science and spirituality are ultimately looking for truth. Not everything that we spiritually experience as truth can be scientifically proved unless we have very advanced scientific instruments in the future. But, regardless of the chosen path, truth will eventually be realised both through spiritual practices and scientific techniques. So, it is important to stay open minded and not get attached to dogmas or even scientific theories. Many scientific theories that we had taken to be absolute have become obsolete now in the light of new discoveries and more powerful instruments.
In a nutshell, while the need for proof distinguishes science and spirituality, its the quest for truth that binds them together. This resonates with what nanotechnology expert, Ted Sargent had to say , ‘Even as science progresses in its reductionist fashion, moving towards deeper and more elegant understanding of particles and forces, there will always remain a ‘Why’ at the end’.
However, since there is a tendency of ascribing spirituality only with the religion we practice, cavers also explored what spiritual thinkers themselves have to say on the need for critical analysis in spiritual practices.
Buddha said ‘Monks and scholars, just as you test gold by burning, cutting and polishing it; so too well examine my speech. Do not accept it merely out of respect’.
A Zen Koan says ‘If you meet the Buddha on the road, Kill him!’ This implies that one should not be attached to one’s concepts, but ultimately uproot them for a deeper perception of truth to arise.
Dalai Lama mentioned in his book Science and Philosophy in the Indian Buddhist Tradition that both in science and Buddhism for something to exist:
- It must be known by a conventionally valid cognition and
- It must not be contravened by some other conventionally valid cognition’.
Cavers also gave examples of noted scientific thinkers like Newton, Einstein and Ramanujan who claimed to have been inspired by something deeper than what meets the eye.
It was Einstein who questioned the Mechanistic Science with his Theory of Relativity and study of the atom and caused a shift in scientific thinking from rational to paradoxical.
EInstein said ‘The most beautiful and profound emotion we can experience is the sensation of the mystical….to know that what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty, which our dull faculties can only comprehend in their primitive forms – this knowledge, this feeling is at the center of true religion’. True religion, like spirituality only stresses on truth.
In a continuing cycle, science clarifies our spiritual realisations, while our spiritual epiphanies inspire the evolution of science. This continuous loop might help forge a great cosmic religion of the future that is not attached to any dogmas.
In the final stage of our caving, we discussed how we are at the cusp of a great technological revolution that could send us to space, eradicate poverty and illnesses etc. Simultaneously, we are experiencing a radical expansion in collective human consciousness. This is exciting and scary at the same time, as humanity could attain unimaginable heights or plunge into a bottomless pit of destruction.
Is it just a coincidence that both scientific and spiritual evolutions are happening together at an unprecedented scale or is there a deep connect between the two? It is worth noting that several ancient, advanced civilizations like the Mayans, Egyptians etc have clearly shown an incredible blend of scientific and spiritual thinking in their architecture.
Interestingly, many top corporates, robotic researchers and scientists today who traditionally have only invested in technology are today spending top dollar in researching more about the human mind and consciousness. How come this sudden interest?
As we march towards the great unknown future, spiritual wisdom (devoid of extremism) from across ages and civilizations could actually be a great buddy to science to usher in much needed transformations on earth , while maintaining the necessary delicate balance with the greater cosmic ecosystem.