February 21, 2007

Science and Spirituality Are the Same

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar argues that science and spirituality are after the same goal - understanding - coming from different angles.

Science and spirituality are like two ways of looking at the creation. Science regards life as matter and spirituality regards matter as life. Spirituality elevates matter to the level of life, level of divinity and adds a sense of honour. While science brings us material and physical comfort, spirituality gives comfort to our souls. Science cultivates logic and spirituality develops intuition, another faculty of enquiry. Ancient rishis recognised this interplay between science and spirituality and said true fulfilment in life can come only through gyana (spirituality) and vigyana (science).

I like this approach, and agree. Science and spirituality are not inherently at odds. They are only at odds if one is not able to shed old beliefs and use new information to guide one's soul. God, in whatever form we believe he/it exists, gave us science as a way to understand the universe. And science paired with spirituality brings us even closer to whatever/whoever it is that creates us, or we are created from.

The source of conflict comes from humans, not from God, or the universe.

Shankar's argument reminds me so much of The Varieties of Scientific Experience: A Personal View of the Search for God by Carl Sagan, with a little bit of Life After Death: The Burden of Proof by Deepak Chopra thrown in too.

Hinduism and other eastern religions are not perfect. None are. But if we could combine atheism and western religions with some of the open-ended Asian religious perspectives, we sure would have a well-rounded, worldly religion.

Perhaps, that's what's happening when it seems that there is a recent increase in atheism; we are beginning to be ready to move on to a new level of religion and spirituality, that accepts science and what we see the universe/God giving us right here, right now, instead of determining today's perception by what our ancestors believed to be true about science.

In any case, it's an interesting read, and I like it. I like the idea of being OK with science, and OK with spirituality at the same time. Why does the argument seem to be about which one is right? Perhaps, they both are.

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