Spirituality vs science was the hot theme of conversation at the Science Museum on Monday night. An insightful question and answer session between Jo Marchant a New York Times best seller and Sadhguru a yogi and speaker from India. The session revealed a passionate response from both speakers.
The Science fraternity raised objections to the Science Museum about Sadhguru as a speaker since he was not deemed to be a true scientist. This perplexed me since unlike religions I have always felt that the science community was an inclusive group ready to gain knowledge for the progression of science. The objection reveals a level of intellectual snobbery, prejudice and closed mindedness.
I have always felt taking an open minded approach and a willingness to learn anything that may contribute to individuals advancement and happiness was wise.
Summarising the evenings conversation. Considering the scientific approach first. Science is a constantly moving frontier and our understanding and knowledge is constantly being updated and shaped by new theories. Due to this fact science is only as current today since new finding will eventually replace existingtheorems.
Medicine is always in a flux of new revelations. Only a decade ago we thought that stomach ulcers were due to life style and dietary factors alone. However some were due to a bacterial infection. The surgery was subsequently replaced by a combination of antibiotics for some. The surgeons prior to this time based on their existing, knowledge would have believed radical surgery was the only approach. As scientist we have to believe we only have pieces of the jigsaw and from that we are trying to postulate the whole picture. Scientific research has yielded many benefits such as better health and longevity.
Scientific intervention may solve immediate problems but its far reaching leagacy is often overlooked by the shorter term gain’s. For eg better transportation makes our lives easier but the emissions will have long term consequences for our future generations and planet. Scientific exploration will always continue since humans have a natural thirst for learning and trying to piece the puzzle together but at what far reaching cost is the question. We can not also overlook the fact that science is not just for pure exploration and research to help humanity but is now also about politics, economics and power.
Science may create an environment for healing but every doctor and scientist will tell you the actual healing occurs from within by a complex web of systems orchestrated together harmoniously. Which science has yet to model.
The Spiritual side of the debate adopted the approach of first learning to understand our own inner mechanisms prior to understanding the external systems. Sadhguru eloquently explained that by dissecting a human being we can not really know the human since a human being is not just a sum of its parts it is a sophisticated energy system interacting with the surrounding energy. Dissecting destroys the very thing we are examing. Infact dissecting and considering individuals organ systems may be producing dysfunctional medicine. Since treating one system may indeed solve the problem for that organ but the side effects unbalance other systems. Taking a more complete approach is sometimes overlooked since each specialty is focused on their own therapeutic targets.
Science may feel very advanced but it is comparatively modern compared to spiritual practice. Ancient wisdom and spiritual practices have had a prominent place in the Eastern culture. This wisdom and innate understanding should not always be discarded since modern science may not have the tools or equipment to fully explain ancient beliefs currently. After all atoms and cells existed prior to the invention of microscopes. Spirituality focuses on energy and its flow and in time science will gain a greater comprehension of this intricate system that eastern mystics describe as chi and prana. Fundamentally science can not deny that we are all energy clumped together as matter.
Modern science with all of its endeavour can not fabricate a human being thus the spiritual approach is to gain a deeper understanding of ones self. Since many of the answers to life’s questions are within. If we can gain understanding and awareness of our own bodies we can also learn to self and upregulate them. By understanding our own system’s we can eventually understand universal systems. An example of this self understanding was explored by a man called Wim Hof (The Ice Man), who by regulating his breathing rate was able to stay in subzero temperatures without experiencing hyperthermia. He explored this for himself first and now science is studying him to observe changes in his physiology and biochemistry. Science does not have to always lead the way. As individuals we can observe ourselves and regulate to enhance our experiences.
Medical scientific studies are always carried out with a placebo group and drug trial group. Often the placebo group will benefit just as well as the drug trial group. The power of the mind and the core belief systems of the participants are often overlooked by scientific approach and yet they produce significant clinical results. So could spirituality be a piece of the puzzle that science needs to also factor in?
I feel thankfully that the gap between science and spirituality is being bridged by more scientist and medical teams and that it is no longer as black and white as it once was. Hence this an exciting time since individuals are on a path of self discovery and not totally let by science and religion. Thus taking back power and control for our own health and lives.
A huge thank you to Dinesh for inviting me to this thought provoking evening and it was a huge privilege to meet Sadhguru in person.
Keep those mind open to new inputs and the outputs will change.
Sending love and blessings xx