Science- spiritualism - a useless fight
Science- spiritualism - a useless fight
November 20, 2011
I am again going in comment mode, as some times, I do. I am publishing as an article, a comment, I had published on the site speakingtree.com (ST for Speaking Tree). This site is a sort of spiritualism Indian style site which includes discussions on spiritual aspects from all religions, Hindu, Islam, Christian, Buddhist, Jain, Sikh, Jewish ideas etc. In almost all sites, ST or Hub pages, Often I see people getting lost in this strange battle of science verses spiritualism. As I have often mentioned in my comments that a good scientist or a good spiritualist does not get lost in this kind of useless questions or battle. Particularly in India this kind of battle does not make any sense. Our spiritualism is not incompatible with today's style of science. In fact both studies have always been encouraged.
The following is a comment written when similar question arose, while I had started a series of articles on studying and building a model of universe according to Advaita Vedanta Philosophy (see references below). One of the persons was questioning idea with a view that there is no science developed from it (even this aspect he was wrong but that is another matter).
It describes my view on general method of understanding in science or spiritualistic aspects. I am also adding a comment in the same context by one of the readers, who writes very interesting comments often. His comment here also gives an interesting perspective on this fight.
My idea of publishing this is not to start a debate about this issue. I am more writing as my own view with expereince of living in world of scientists for a long time.
I do not see any difference between two types of people, those who express sentiments implying scriptures being "God" (they may not use word God but the style is the same) instead of properly learning from them or those who use science as God and do only pooja (ritualistic praise) of rational products of science, instead of learning properly from the work. Much more dangerous is a tendency to compartmentalize things -"Hey! this is not scientific" or "Hey! this is not spiritual" and use it as a tool for not doing some thing or to create useless boundaries for self as well as in society. To me both such tendencies look to be the same and cause the same type of harm to self as well as society. Of course using such tools to degrade some thing without understanding, is one of the worst thing a person can do to self and others.
There is no difference or compartment in any knowledge or effort to learn or understand any thing, whether it is scientific or spiritual. Knowledge does not come colored with color of science or spiritualism. Words like "not scientific" or "not spiritual" are meaningless, for those who want to learn some thing. All knowledge is scientific as well as spiritual.
When you want to learn some some thing how can there be a compartment in your learning with some beliefs and reservations. Being skeptic and not doing any thing with skepticism is the easiest path.
Knowledge and understanding does not come, just from reading books whether they are scriptures or science books. Often seeing final products expressed in a rational language (logically developing a subject), one has tendency to start thinking that rational development and language is god for me and all beauty and work lies in that ( both are written rationally with same precision, whether they are Indian style philosophies or science and technology thoughts. Though many of this type of people in India without really going through details pronounce that spiritual books or scriptures are not ).
Common process to learn and understand
But being lost in that rational language or doing pooja of those final products is neither science nor spiritualism. To learn either of them, process is the same you have to spend time to go through rational arguments given, try to understand thinking, vision behind that writing (manan), identify with the problem you are thinking about, or what is being taught to you by your teacher/Guru, sort of just live with it for 24 hours, not allow your mind to divert to other things too much (studyiing with such dedication any thing is indeed spiritualistic action) etc. Try to build and see the natural flow in the phenomena or problem under the study. When you do that suddenly understanding just comes to you and one starts feeling "oh! it was so clear, why did I not think about it earlier."
If understanding is proper, rational arguments automatically get built, as a natural process
At that stage one does not have to bother at all about rational language. The rational arguments, if the thing is right, are built up automatically for both science or spiritualism. Rational arguments are not final goal, they are meant for being careful that vision may not be wrong, feeling that "I know now" may not be wrong .
Rational arguments are generally used only as a test for one's understanding
Rational arguments provide a sort of test for final understanding "Ok, it is right and complete". If one sees a gap in rational arguments, or one is unable to build it up or one sees in the vision or understanding "some thing missing" or "some thing, still not cleared out", then one goes back to the whole process, I described above again.
Learning or understanding is mostly outside rational or irrational arguments
Learning, understanding or practicing science or spiritualism is not in those final products, presented as rational or irrational arguments. It is mostly outside that. Rational arguments or irrational arguments, just provide a language to convey and carefulness as I described above.
This process, I describe is not for some big research in science or big spiritual learning, it is for any thing you want to learn. One has a short span of life. Choice, one has is either to go through this process, learn and do some thing worthwhile in life, using knowledge gained - science or spiritual achievement also comes from such efforts and not just sitting around doing pooja of this or that or trying to criticize others "Hey! that is not rational, not scientific" or "Hey! that is not spiritual, that is against scriptures", "Hey! spiritualism has given nothing to our country" etc.
About last question about finding science in scripture and asking me to post it here, I will just say, such questions and propositions are generated out of ignorance and lack of knowledge about both spiritual ideas as well as science and arrogance arising out of it.
You want to enjoy your feeling just enjoy it.
There is enough in this world to see reality, one has to first be willing to see it, and make some efforts towards it, instead of just playing verbal games, before expecting some thing from others.
A Zen story
I had read some where a Zen story which expresses exactly in right style before starting an argument what a person should do. On being asked by a professor to teach him Zen philosophy, a Zen monk brought a cup of water completely filled. He then asked the professor to use water tap to fill it more. The professor was surprised and asked "How can it be filled more, all the water will flow down the drain". The Monk said "Exactly! You already have your knowledge and reservations, until you empty some of them, there is no space for these different ideas".
A Reader's comment
Animals also have knowledge and understanding
"Humans attempt to understand the Universe around them. They use various tools and rationalism is just one of them. There could be other ways to gain knowledge too. There seems to be some evidence that an impending earthquake can be sensed by certain animals. Many animals seem to have knowledge about certain things - like which plants are edible and which are poisonous, and these seem to have been gained neither by empiricism or rationalism.
True! Rationalism has made a huge contribution to humankind, but it may be dangerous to get fixated on it to the exclusion of everything else."