Science and Spirituality –

Science has been defined by its votaries in various ways. A method which “applies to all reasoning about facts which proceed, from their accurate classification, to the appreciation of their relationship and consequence” as knowledge and truth, as Law and perfection, as an attitude of mind, as intellectual orientation, as hypothesis and common-sense these are some of the conceptions of science held by various scientists. But all these can be reduced to two basic meanings or aspects of science, which are firstly, that, science is a method of search for the ReaI in the realm of the phenomenal, as philosophy, religion and mysticism are methods of search for the Real in the realm of the noumenal.

The former deals with prakrti, the latter with the purusha. Science is the application of man’s divine faculty of reducing a vast array of facts and ‘an illimitable assembly of other worlds’ (Sir Oliver Lodge), to a small compass, into an easily comprehensible and inter-acting system of knowledge. This is the pure, theoretical or philosophical aspect of Science. “The second aspect of science is its application to the problems of life. Here, science descends from its empyrean heights of abstract speculation and enters the haunts of the humble.

It confronts the question of human welfare, man’s physical well-being, comfort, health, his emotion, stability, refinement, security, his intellectual opulence and spiritual adventure. Here Science becomes the handmaid of the practical art of living and human association, here and now, not in the far off future and in the promised land of heaven. This is the pragmatic or utilitarian aspect of science……… “Science, from both points of view, has an ancient and sacred ancestry.

The beginnings of science lie in the early Vedic period. Sama, and, Atharva Vedas laid the foundations; out of these grew up the Upa Vedas, Vedangas and the Six Schools of Thought. Medicine, music and dancing, archery and military science, architecture, the science of phonetics, of metrics, of grammar, the science of etymology, astrology and astronomy and the Science of ritual formed the Upa Vedas and Vedangas, while the Six Schools developed the systems of logic, the atomic conception of matter, the relationship between matter and spirit, the science of expansion of powers of consciousness and of self-realization through meditation, the ritualism and philosophy of unqualified monism, AII these applied sciences were based on Natural or exact sciences. They were not empirical assumptions, but, experimental systems of Science and History.”

(Dr. Kewal Motwani-Science and Society in India)

“During the past 25 years there has been a profound change in the scientist’s picture of the physical world, and science used to look at Nature as something almost apart from man. But now, Sir James Jeans tells us that the essence of science is that ‘man no longer sees nature as something distinct from himself.” And then the old question arises, which troubled the thinkers of the, Upanishads: How can the knower be known ? How can the eyes that can see external objects see themselves ? And if the external is part and parcel of the internal, what we perceive or conceive is but a projection of our minds; and the universe and nature and the soul and mind and body, the transcendent and the immanent” are all essentially one, how then are we, within the limited frame work of our minds, to understand this mighty science of things objectively ?

Science has begun to touch these problems, and though they may elude it, still the earnest scientist to-day is the prototype of the philosopher and the man of religion of earlier ages. ” In this materialistic age of ours ” says Einstein, ” the serious scientific ‘workers are the only profoundly religious people. Thus, the question that troubled the philosophers of old can be said to have come up again, but in a different form and in a different context. How to reconcile the phenomenal life of the World with the inner spiritual life of the individual. The Physicians have discovered that it is not enough to treat the body of the individual or of society as a whole. In recent years, medical men familiar with the finding of modern psychopathology have abandoned the antithesis between ‘organic’ and “functional” diseases and lay great stress on the psychological factor.

This is the greatest error in the treatment of sickness ” wrote Plato, ” that fifty years ago Swami Vivekananda regarded modern science as a manifestation of the real religious spirit, for it sought to understand truth by sincere effort there are physicians for the body, physicians for the soul and yet the two are one indivisible.” ” Einstein, most eminent among scientists tells us that ” the fate of the human race was more than ever dependent on its moral strength to-day.

The way to a joyful and happy state is through renunciation and self-limitation everywhere.” “He takes us back suddenly from this proud age of science to’ the old philosophers, from the lust for power and profit motive to the spirit of renunciation with which India has been so familiar. Probably most other scientists of to-day will not agree with him in this, or when he says: ” I am absolutely convinced that no wealth in the world can help humanity forward even in the hands of the most devoted workers in the cause. The example of great and pure characters, is the only thing that can produce fine ideas and noble deeds. Money only appeals to selfishness and always tempts its owners irresistibly to abuse it ! “


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