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Science and Spirituality: Dimensions [1]

Published: 03.08.2007
Updated: 15.02.2008
The epochal discoveries of modern science are:
  • objective science has started recognising the dimensions of consciousness;
  • at a deep and fundamental level, the 'separate parts' of the universe are connected in an intimate and immediate way;
  • the cosmos is an integrated and self-energizing system, a totality that creates itself;
  • every "thing" in the cosmos is a coherent "event" and every event is the summed result of all other events; and
  • all the concepts we use to describe nature are not features of reality, but creations of the mind - parts of the map, not of the territory.
[1] Wills W. Harman, To Holistic Bulletin, Vol. V, No. 2, 1993.

The world-view implied by modern physics is inconsistent with our present society, which does not reflect the harmonious interrelatedness we observe in nature. Wills W. Harman concludes, "Western society is drifting toward increasing entropy, economic and technological chaos, ecological disaster, and ultimately, psychic dismemberment and disintegration. Nothing less than an epistemological revolution will stem these tendencies".[1] While man discovers the mysteries of space-age and atomic-age, he also stands at the edge of an abyss of total annihilation. The extinction of life is at the very core of man's anxiety.

The present objective science is the search for truth in the outer world, so it deals with a fragment. We shape our "reality" (object) from the miniscule amount of information our sensory mechanisms, with the help of some artefacts, gather; we then graft (called coherent superpositions of different webs) the corresponding recalled memory (subject) on the object; and this leads to distortion of the fact which is called the distorted perception. In technical parlance, it is called the "crisis of perception". The crisis of perception is defined as unawareness of the truth, the fact, and awareness of the false, the distorted fact. All crises in the external field - for example, a crisis in health care, crises of pollution and other environmental disasters, a rising wave of violence and crime, and so on - are all different facets of the inner crisis of perception. It is an unprecedented crisis, which has global dimensions.

We gather fragmentary experience and partial knowledge and store these as memory or cultural structure. Rational knowledge is thus a system of abstract concepts and symbols, characterized by the linear, sequential structure, which is typical of our thinking, and/or speaking. It leads to symbolic-dualistic knowledge. The symbols are not the actual. In worshipping a symbol you will lose the real, the truth.

[2] David Bohm, Wholeness and the Implicate Order, London: ARK Paperbacks, 1983 pp. 11, 172.
[3] Jan Smuts, Holism and Evolution, in Marilyn Ferguson, The Aquarian Conspiracy, J.P. Tarcher, 1980, pp. 49, 156.
[4] Roger Sperry, in Bulletin of the Theosophy Science Study Group, Madras, February & April 1988, p. 23 & June & August 1988, p. 27.

David Bohm emphasised the need to look on the world as an undivided whole, in which all parts of the universe, including the observer and his instruments, merge and unite in one totality. He concludes, "The new form of insight can perhaps be called Undivided Wholeness in Flowing Movement." [2] When one deals with the wholeness of life - both the "within" (inner world) and the "without" (external world) - it is called spirituality. We define spirituality as the science of life which explores the inner dynamics of the conditioned human mind-brain system and the outer time-space matrix. Wholeness, Smuts said, "is a fundamental characteristic of the universe - the product of nature's drive to synthesize". "Holism is self-creative and its final structures are more holistic than its initial structures". Smuts said, "There is a whole-making principle in mind itself...Evolution has an ever-deepening, inward spiritual character".[3] Roger Sperry wrote, "When the brain is whole, the unified consciousness of the left and the right hemispheres adds up to more than the individual properties of the separate hemispheres".[4]

He added, "When parts come together in a new whole, this new whole exhibits features - emergent properties, - that can't be predicted as a rule from the parts, and cannot be explained entirely in terms of the parts". He advocates that science cannot be adequate until it recognizes "inner conscious awareness as a casual reality.“ Modern science has verified the quality of whole-making, the characteristic of nature to put things together in an evermore synergistic, meaningful pattern.

Spirituality deals with exploring and understanding the fundamental whole-making characteristic of nature. It essentially deals with exploring and understanding the wholeness of nature. Understanding comes only through self-knowledge, which is awareness of one's total psychological process. Thus education, in the true sense, is the understanding of oneself, for it is within each one of us that the whole existence is gathered.


Encyclopaedia Of Jainism


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