Spirituality vs scienceis a common debate; the pursuit of truth and understanding the fundamental nature of reality are central to both science and spirituality. Science seeks to fully comprehend the basic principles that govern the physical universe in all of its varied manifestations.
Spirituality is the emergence of knowledge about our affective interactions with one another and the rest of the world. Spirituality aims to awaken our hearts, while science attempts to educate our minds. Each is required for the other to fully develop.
Although some people might view science as being opposed to or in conflict with their spirituality and/or religion, the reality is that obsessive adherence to certain beliefs and dogmas is harmful to both science and a greater realization of spirituality.
In the past, science and religion have frequently seemed at odds with one another. However, there is one type of spirituality with which science agrees. It's interesting to note that mystics from all faith traditions appear to concur fundamentally.
While many exoteric Christians(and Muslims and others) are at each other's throats over tiny doctrinal differences, the Christian mystic, Sufi mystic, and Zen master all seem to be in perfect agreement.
This mystical constant throughout all nations and eras is what the 20th-century philosopher Aldous Huxley called "perpetual philosophy." At this level of spirituality, science and religion donot contradict each other.
Indeed, spiritual practices from the past, like Kabbalah and alchemy, in the west have had a strong influence on science. The ideal scientist was unquestionably Sir Isaac Newton. However, Newton's publications on alchemy were more extensive than his scientific and mathematical works.
Science and spirituality are quite harmonic and complimentary at this (deepest) level of religion. Because dogmatism, not religion, is what conflicts with science. The enemy of both science and spirituality has always been dogma. The tendency of doctrine and dogma to be mistaken for religion is the root cause of all historical clashes between science and religion.
Dogmais thought to be reality itself, not just a description of reality. Alternative accounts of reality are considered dangerous. In contrast to the conflicts between different Christian sects, the well-known disagreements between science and Christianity may be insignificant.
Hundreds of thousands of people have died as a result of purges and persecutions that were started by what today seem like minor variants of the same fundamental dogmatic systems of belief.
Although science is always looking for the truth, it can never say that it has found it. Scientific theories should always be regarded as fundamentally speculative models of reality. A theory and the reality it aims to depict are fundamentally distinct in the eyes of science.
In science, there are only observations and speculations; there are no facts. A theory is an effort to predict occurrences that have not yet been observed and explain the facts. Theories are representations of reality, not actuality. Although theories can never be proven, all it takes to refute a theory is one repeatable observation!
The greatest barrier to the advancement of science has always been the tendency of scientists to become overly devoted to outdated notions.
A scientist must be willing to forsake her favorite theory at the drop of a hat if it contradicts another theory in order to be honest with science. Once the old theory has been discarded, scientists can have some fun developing a new theory that is consistent with all of the current findings.
Exalting and celebrating when an old hypothesis is abandoned is appropriate because doing so advances our grasp of the cosmos.
Regarding their mistrust of dogma, eastern philosophies and the philosophy of science appear to be rather similar. The old Yogic proverb "Not this, not this" means that one's conceptualization of reality is always inadequate.
It is written in Sanskrit as "neti neti." There will always be smaller fish that elude the (conceptual) net, no matter how fine the mesh is. The Tao Te Ching, a classic work of Taoism written by Lao Tsu, begins with the caveat that "the Tao that can be articulated is not the genuine Tao.
If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him!" reads a Zen koan. This suggests that one must ultimately uproot all of one's concepts in addition to avoiding becoming too connected to them. In order for a better understanding of truth to emerge, all dogma must be surrendered.
The fundamental element of the aforementioned Eastern and Western mysticism is belief, notwithstanding all this iconoclasm.
The foundation of scientific philosophy is also based on this fundamental idea. Science is based on the premise that our senses and minds are inherently reliable tools that, when applied appropriately, can help us better understand the world around us.
Similarly, there is a core premise that our hearts and minds are inherently reliable and can help us come to a greater realization and comprehension of our true nature in both Eastern philosophy and Western mystical traditions. This "root belief" differs somewhat from the dogmatic convictions of a religious zealot; rather, it is a working hypothesis rather than an assertion of absolute truth.
After all, who and what can we trust if we can't trust our own senses, hearts, and minds? Because believing in an external "authority" also entails believing in our own senses, hearts, and minds to determine whether or not that "authority" is legitimate.
Thus, both science and spirituality would like us to "wake up!" Doctrines and belief structures are intellectual frameworks that should serve our senses, not the other way around. It's possible that elevating dogmas above the facts provided by our own senses is the truest definition of "idolatry."
Dogmas being elevated beyond our senses reeks of schizophrenia. I once inquired about how contemporary psychiatry distinguishes between the delusional thinking of religious zealots and schizophrenics from famous neuro-psychiatrist Monte Buchsbaum, who was then the director of the University of California at Irvine Brain Imaging Lab. The Oapublishing London is an academic institution also famous for mixing spirituality and science together for their work.
He reacted by saying that the key distinction is that, in contrast to fanaticism, many people have the same (perhaps irrational) ideas, whereas schizophrenia patients are alone in their delusions.
A cult is a group of people who share the same delusion; a cult with many members who share the same illusion is a religion, and a singular delusion may be a symptom of schizophrenia. However, mystics are able to rise above the exoteric (and generally illusory) systems of belief in their religious traditions, independent of their cultural background.
Zen is a particularly striking example of the mystics' timeless worldview. What's left after being passed through Indian, Chinese, Japanese, and now Western civilizations is simply a concentrated version of perennial philosophy that has been stripped of any extraneous cultural baggage.
The indigenous Taoist tradition, which emphasized Nature's contemplation as a means of attaining truth, had a significant influence on Zen in its Chinese iteration. Reality is not perceived through words and ideas but rather through the senses. This is obviously in line with the scientific philosophy, which places a high priority on thorough observation.
Zen master Torei Enji Zenji stated that three characteristics—great faith, great skepticism, and great determination—are required for achievement in spiritual realization in his 16th-century treatise, Discourse on the Inexhaustible Lamp of the Zen School. Success in scientific efforts also requires these three characteristics.
In Zen practice, "great faith" refers to both a deep belief in one's ability to personally discern reality's core character as well as a trust in the process as exhibited by those who have come before.
"Great faith" in scientific work refers to confidence in the scientific method, which has been successfully used by scientists in the past, as well as an underlying conviction that one is naturally capable of comprehending the phenomena being examined.
In Zen, the term "great doubt" describes the readiness to seriously contest all of one's deeply held beliefs and eventually toss them aside. Beliefs are merely ideas that exist only on the surface.
The conceptual world may occasionally be helpful, but obsessive adherence to one or more conceptions prevents one from reaching deeper degrees of knowledge of the true nature of reality, which is beyond all concepts. According to a proverb from ancient China, a fool sees just his finger when a wise man gestures to the moon.
Realizing that the model does not accurately represent reality is the basis for "grave uncertainty" in science. A person may be prevented from developing a more accurate theory that represents a deeper understanding of the relevant facts if they become overly committed to a certain hypothesis or theory.
In Zen, it takes "great willpower" to resist giving in to sloth. Without perseverance, the process could take some time before one reaches deep insight. In actuality, there is no deepest insight, and the only way to continue moving deeper is with immense resolve. The same is undoubtedly true of scientific research.
The epistemology of scientific philosophy is fundamentally the same as that of the deepest spiritual traditions. Beyond this, scientific advancements offer us the science that can enlighten us and aid in the awakening of great epiphanies.
If we had been satisfied with our outdated dogmas, science would never have revealed to us a universe so magnificent and beautiful. It is impossible to study science without being frequently in awe of the vastness of the world, which we are unable to escape.
Spirituality is concerned with things that cannot be measured, whereas science is concerned with those that can. Both of these are combined in real life.
Spirituality is the study of the "stuff that gives life." We have discovered numerous fundamental forces in physics as we have progressed from molecules to atoms to the subatomic realm. These forces, however, simply make an effort to describe how matter is created.
Spirituality is profoundly scientific, so much so that it surpasses science. Without spirituality, science is both susceptible and incomplete. Such science is more likely to be misapplied and manipulated for personal gain.
According to mystics, we have been one with the universe since the beginning of time. Modern science also demonstrates this idea in various ways. In a sense, the cosmos is becoming aware of itself through us (and other sentient beings).
The mystic poet William Blake once said, "To see a globe in a grain of sand and heaven in a wild flower, hold infinite in the palm of your hand and eternity in an hour." (I hold infinity in the palm of my hand and eternity in an hour), which seems to represent the universe as a fractal. Fractals have the characteristic that just a small portion of them can encode the complete fractal.
In a real sense, the component can equal the total! We can better understand ancient spiritual truths by using metaphors from science and mathematics.