Friday, February 22, 2008

Science and Spirituality

Spirituality does not negate any accepted form of living by the society of any time. In fact it is part - indeed a greater part - and parcel of any life. Reality or anything that exist - animate or inanimate - has both spirit and matter and hence we need to study both the part to understand any reality. Mundaka Upanishad speaks of two types of education - dve vidye, para-apara-spiritual and material in consonance with two part of reality ( MU 1.1.4 ). The material consists of earth,water,fire,air,space,mind,intellect and ego,according to Bhagavadgita ( 7.4 ) that covers all the branches of knowledge in the universities of today, the Science studies Matter.The spiritual refers to the imperishable part of reality ( MU 1.1.5 ). The Science and Spirituality, each has its own distinct purpose,Science conquers death and Spirituality experiences immortality according to Isha Upanishad ( 10-11 ). It even says that if you know only science/matter - apara vidya - which is now abbreviated as avidya , you are a blinding fool - andham tamah. If you know only spirituality - para vidya - which is abbreviated as just vidya, you are a even more blinding fool ( IU 9. ). Hence, it advocates the study of both, veda ubhayam saha ( IU 11. ), the lower(material) and higher(spiritual) knowledge as some calls it. What is more,all that exist - matter and spirit, animate and inanimate - are all connected like pearls are strung on a thread, says Bhagavadgita ( 7.7 ).

The modern science,dealing with matter,has travelled enough to recognize the presence and the need of spirituality, starting from Fritz Capra ( Tao of Physics ) and Deepak Chopra ( Ageless Body Timeless Mind ) to Peter Russell (From Science to God ) and Mani Bhoumick ( Code Name God ). Sir Arthur Eddington, a great Physicist, puts it very tellingly:" Matter is mostly ghostly empty space". " To be precise " says Peter Russell " it is 99.9999999 percent empty space". Hans Peter Durr is even more blunt: "Matter is not made of matter"! Unless we understand that empty space,the home of all potentialities and possibilities, we can hardly say that we have known reality.

Spirituality can not be known by the methodology adapted to know the matter. In fact, it can not be 'known' in the sense we normally use that term,it has to be experienced only and, what is more, it involves a process of becoming what we want to 'know', Brahmavid brahmaiva bhavati, knowing Brahman/Reality is to be Brahman, says the Vedas. Those who entered spiritual domain have demonstrated with their experience of peace,harmony, joy and efficiency. Then,how do we access the spiritual domain in us, as well as, in all that exist? Historically, the access to spirituality has been the task of religion.But, today all established/institutionalised religion has developed its own vested interest and quite a lot of them do everything except kindling spirituality of people! Spirituality is too serious, urgent and need to be brought to the daily living that it can not be left in the hands of religion alone to fend it. There are various techniques of getting access to spiritual domain,especially in the Ancient Indian(Eastern )Thought such as the eight parts of Patanjali Yoga or four steps of Buddha Dhyana that need to be studied and incorporated into our educational system to make our student holistic in knowledge - akhanda jnana, and total in being.

Spirituality does not negate life. In fact it enlivens life. My own foray into spirituality as a scientist as well as practitioner, including what necessitated it, is narrated in