There is a lot of interest in the “God Particle” and the debates on TV are happening on the subject as well.
The debate on NDTV under the title “The Big Fight” was one such discussion / debate. My interest of entry in this debate was that my Guru, Sadhguru was also part of the panel.
The discussion was interesting and in many ways, the prejudices and biases of people came out as well as their stance.
Some of the interesting things – Swami Atma Preyananda of the RK Mission was an interesting person. He was a trained Particle Physicist, until he turned a Monk. So, he sort of straddled both the worlds – Science and Spirituality.
His point of reference for Spirituality was Swami Vivekananda. And, I believe he suffered from the same issue of articulating the differentiating Spirituality and Religion, that Swami Vivekanandna (whom I admire and respect a lot) had. For all his contribution to Spirituality, Swamiji used Religion and Spirituality interchangeably. And that was the context of Swami Atma as well.
Dr. Bhargav, a scientist, is a “rationlist” somehow tried his best to “save his turf” of Science and not be “tainted by God” in any way.
The Spokesman of the Catholic Church of Delhi spoke intelligently, and I give him credit for at times questioning his own beliefs.
Then there was a sociologist, who was playing the class-joker, and was there merely to keep people in good spirits, while himself wondering at the “play” that was going on.
Then there was Dr. Ramana – who is a scientist and believes in God. A friend and yet a frustrating example for Dr. Bhargav.
I want to discuss a few points that I found interesting in the whole conversation and things that I feel didn’t come out as well.
Religion, Spirituality and Science
First off the bat, Religion is NOT Spirituality. These are two different things. Religion is predicated on Belief, while Dharma or Spirituality is predicated on Search [Read the following for more on this difference: Bhagwad Gita is not about “Doing Good” . Dharma and Religion: the Foundational Difference]
Sadhguru’s entry point was always from the Spirituality context and not the Religion context. Unfortunately, that point and differentiation didn’t quite come out clearly, because others kept muddling it all the time. In the end, he did try to clarify, but the format of the program somehow never helped to clarify it.
So, it should have been Spirituality and Science and NOT Religion and Science discussion. Unfortunately, except for Sadhguru, rest of the panel – including Vikram Chandra, the anchor – kept using these terms (Religion and Spirituality) – synonymously. In fact, these days people – with fetish for “isms” – have come up with another word – Spiritualism, which is “go-between” compromise between Religion (which is belief system) and Spirituality (which is seeking).
I have seen that for non-Hindus, this distinction is almost impossible to fathom. And amongst the Hindus, the more “intellectually accomplished” a person is, the greater his inability to get past the preconceived notion of religion and spirituality and complete confusion between the two.
In this panel for example, the archbishop had no idea about this, but Raja Ramana and even Swami Atma were confused.
Science and Spirituality: Is their quest similar?
In this sense – YES! Why?
Because both, the Spiritualists and the Scientists, are asking the same question:
How did the Infinite manifest itself as the Finite?
Or in other words – How did Existence come from God? [Spiritualists articulation] Or How did the matter manifest from Wave? [Scientists’ question]
The methods of both, are however, completely different. While one is trying to know by inference. Because direct observation is not possible and not even reliable. The other is trying to know by direct experience. Knowledge – through calculation or inference is not reliable and therefore, of no use for the Spiritualist. This is important to understand. If one even has the most reliable theory of existence, then what? How does it make the human existence or the Universe a more worthwhile thing? Yes, we will get another gadget created, another rocket sent to space. But how does it make us any better equipped to deal with the immensity of the Existence?
And, for all the talk of “Scientific Rigor” amongst the scientists, honestly, I find them rather ideological. All the Spiritual Masters that I have come across had extraordinary rigor. They have questioned the heck out of everything to get to the answer.
So, Seeking is in both the places. The question – fundamental question – is the same. Methods are different. Rigor is a self-congratulatory qualification bestowed by scientists upon themselves.
Modern Science and Spiritual Science
There is a fundamental principle of Seeking. Seeking starts when Believing stops. And, believing includes Disbelieving. Opposite of Believing is Seeking, and not Disbelieving.
Now, this can manifest in two different ways. When a Seeker is a Disbeliever of something, it will look at the world minus the object of disbelief. Things / Concepts / knowledge that is disbelieved is brushed aside. Openness is limited. The realm in which this openness to question exists, there is rigor. But the playing field for this rigor is already closed. For, the world of disbelief is not about objects. But about concepts and even a way of understanding things. If Upanishads talk of Nothingness coming from a time, when the rest of the world was playing with rock implements, then it is important to ask the question, how did they reach that conclusion? Unlike Dr. Ramana – that “just because the scripture says everything comes from Nothingness, it cannot be equated to conclusions of particle physics, because there are other facts in that theory to fall back on, while in scriptures there is no basis to that conclusion given”.
Such a failure of backup qualification and calculation, thankfully didn’t stop Dr. Hardy from recognizing the genius of Ramanujam, whose notebooks mostly contained theorems and not the back up work.
And, that is the point to understand. The profundity and the immensity of the work articulated in Dharmic scriptures is tough in these terms, when Science says 1000 things and then constantly sniggers when you show a conclusion has already been there and part of Spiritual semantics forever.
Let us. therefore, look at a thing the profundity and the immensity of whose potency is impossible to debate against. At least in the world today. Yoga. Specifically, Physical Yoga.
Now, Yoga is by far the most complete, comprehensive and the best exercise regimen the mankind has today. No other method even comes close to it in the efficiency of what is done and the amount of benefit one can derive from it. Just by breathing right, people have gotten rid of chronic ailments and even things like high Blood Cholesterol.
That Yoga is an Unique, Unbeatable and Highest form of exercise for complete Human well-being (mental and physical) that mankind has today is indisputable.
However, something that the scientists do not realize is that Yogis who came up with Yoga were NOT coming from the knowledge of Biology. But from a different paradigm and dimension itself. Yogis talk of Nadis and Chakras. No modern science dissections have proved the existence of that. But our confidence in Biology is what drives modern medical science.
How come someone, ostensibly, not as well conversant with all the medical advances of biological sciences but an expert in esoteric stuff like Chakras and Nadis (which are considered useless and non-existent by biologists) create a method that FAR SUPERSEDES anything that the modern Biologists have ever come up with?
I mean, if you are the most kick-ass Engineer that mankind has ever produced in the entire history, and all you come up with is a bicycle versus a guy whose knowledge you say is rubbish comes up with a kick ass Lamborghini with a mileage of 200 miles on a gallon and a life of 700,000 miles with an oil change every 50,000 miles (efficient, effective and comprehensive), then it is time to reflect.
And, it is THIS reflection – this admittance of need to reflect – that is taken away from a person, whose idea of Seeking is firmly established in Disbelief rather than Openness.
And that is why Sadhguru’s point – that it is crass to say that “My Seeking is better than yours, just because you cannot understand other person’s way” – makes sense. It is this – almost – Exclusivist tendency, that I hold people like Dr. Bhargav in the same category as the religious.
The only difference between a religious person and Dr. Bhargav is that they belief in different things. The fanaticism, however, is similar.
Stay in touch! Like Patheos Hindu on Facebook: