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Science and Spirituality

Science and Spirituality

Brain und computerscience

The following is a conversation between Babaji and a devotee scientist

Scientist: What is the difference between science and spirituality, and can these two ever agree?

Babaji: Science and spirituality have different approaches. Science works to study matter and works to improve external instruments to probe matter. It does not have any intention to study spirit per se. Spirituality works to improve the inner senses and the inner experience and this cannot be proven externally, or empirically. Therefore, modern science will never accept spirituality, even if God comes directly in front of a scientist. The latter will not accept him as God. If he accepts him as God, he is not a scientist. Science does not have any lakaa, or definition of God, so, how can it accept him? Therefore, a discussion about the scientific proof of spirituality is futile, yet interesting and mentally invigorating. It will continue without any conclusion, and it should continue.

Ultimately, science and scientific discoveries are used to bring comfort and luxury to human life. Spirituality also is meant to grant ultimate happiness. So, in this sense, both are striving for the same goal but have different approaches. Science does not believe in anything beyond matter, i.e., the spiritual self or God or the spiritual world. Therefore, its field of action is only matter, or prakti. Spirituality, on the other hand, believes that ultimate happiness can only come by transcending matter and thus focusses on subjects that are beyond matter.

Scientist: Science is not about belief. It is about observation and inference. Nothing beyond matter has been reported in the hundreds of years of science.

Babaji: So you are saying that science has no beliefs at all. Do you think they do not believe in anything? Do they not believe in their own abilities to discover things unknown? Or that they will be successful in doing a particular research? I do not understand why you get irked by the word “belief.” Nothing works without belief. Has every scientist observed everything and does not believe in the discovery of other scientists? 

Scientist: Yes, certainly science has beliefs of the type you described above.  But this belief is “confidence based on evidence.” That exists in most human endeavors. For example, we board a plane in confidence that the plane will take us safely to our destination. This is based on tangible evidence—we see people traveling in planes safely every day. Similarly, we can have the belief that the sun rises tomorrow, that is based on our past evidence that it rose yesterday. All such belief is based on evidence. 

This belief is very different from the belief in śāstra. There is no evidence for any of the truths in śāstra, yet the sādhaka believes it. In fact, it is precisely because śāstra talks about adhokaja Bhagavān that belief without evidence is required in śāstra

Your statement that “science does not believe in God” seems to convey that science refuses to believe in Him. If evidence were provided of any supernatural phenomenon, science will accept it.

And I might add—I have not come across a devotee who is willing to say that they have observed anything beyond matter.

Babaji: So why are you pursuing spirituality?  

Scientist: I am pursuing spirituality because I have the necessary belief without evidence in sastra. There is no free will. I am controlled in what I do, and I cannot help but pursue śāstra. I do not claim that I have any experience about the ultimate truth of my path- direct perception of Bhagavan. I feel happy on this path and feel lucky to be on it. 

Babaji: I already wrote above that spirituality has no empirical proof. Why do you expect a devotee to say that they have observed something beyond matter? It is not at all about observation but about inner experience. And you can find many who have had some inner experience.

Scientist: First, my statement was in the context of your statement “Science does not believe in God”. The point I was making was that when devotees themselves have not perceived God directly (as, for example, they perceive their friends or fellow devotees), then by kaimutya nyāya, science is not going to accept His existence without evidence. 

Second, my understanding (perhaps incorrect) was that a siddha devotee has sakātkāra of some sort. There is no doubt in that state; it is not about belief without evidence any more. Bhagavān manifests in front of the eyes and also inside the mind. In terms of inner experience, I also have experienced joy upon hearing your lectures, upon hearing that Bhagavān is everywhere, including right here. I can feel continuous happiness when I am continuously aware of this simple fact. But I also catch myself thinking- am I fooling myself?

I have seen the sun, so I don’t need to believe it will rise. I don’t question whether my children exist- there is clear evidence of that fact. I have not seen Krṣṇa, therefore I will continue to be unsure of such inner experiences-—until I see Him just like I see real, living people.





  • Svayambhu Dasa June 28, 2020

    The following excerpt is quite revealing if not very interesting. It reveals that even if (staunch)scientists are given some kind of evidence for phenomena beyond the purview of empirical reality they tend to falter. Telepathy is known amongst mystics and psychics in the empirical world yet many scientists refuse to study such occurrences or even validate them as part of the manifests reality; they simple debunk most of such phenomena as pseudoscience. It makes one wonder if scientists are really scientists( i thought science was all about curiosity and wonder). Anyway let me not waste time, here is the excerpt from https://www.sheldrake.org/reactions/richard-dawkins-comes-to-call : ” Soon before Enemies of Reason was filmed, the production company, IWC Media, told me that Richard Dawkins wanted to visit me to discuss my research on unexplained abilities of people and animals. I was reluctant to take part, but the company’s representative assured me that “this documentary, at Channel 4’s insistence, will be an entirely more balanced affair than The Root of All Evil was.” She added, “We are very keen for it to be a discussion between two scientists, about scientific modes of enquiry”. So I agreed and we fixed a date. I was still not sure what to expect. Was Richard Dawkins going to be dogmatic, with a mental firewall that blocked out any evidence that went against his beliefs? Or would he be open-minded, and fun to talk to?

    The Director asked us to stand facing each other; we were filmed with a hand-held camera. Richard began by saying that he thought we probably agreed about many things, “But what worries me about you is that you are prepared to believe almost anything. Science should be based on the minimum number of beliefs.”

    I agreed that we had a lot in common, “But what worries me about you is that you come across as dogmatic, giving people a bad impression of science.”

    He then said that in a romantic spirit he himself would like to believe in telepathy, but there just wasn’t any evidence for it. He dismissed all research on the subject out of hand. He compared the lack of acceptance of telepathy by scientists such as himself with the way in which the echo-location system had been discovered in bats, followed by its rapid acceptance within the scientific community in the 1940s. In fact, as I later discovered, Lazzaro Spallanzani had shown in 1793 that bats rely on hearing to find their way around, but sceptical opponents dismissed his experiments as flawed, and helped set back research for well over a century. However, Richard recognized that telepathy posed a more radical challenge than echo-location. He said that if it really occurred, it would “turn the laws of physics upside down,” and added, “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.”

    “This depends on what you regard as extraordinary”, I replied. “Most people say they have experienced telepathy, especially in connection with telephone calls. In that sense, telepathy is ordinary. The claim that most people are deluded about their own experience is extraordinary. Where is the extraordinary evidence for that?”

    He produced no evidence at all, apart from generic arguments about the fallibility of human judgment. He assumed that people want to believe in “the paranormal” because of wishful thinking.

    We then agreed that controlled experiments were necessary. I said that this was why I had actually been doing such experiments, including tests to find out if people really could tell who was calling them on the telephone when the caller was selected at random. The results were far above the chance level.

    The previous week I had sent Richard copies of some of my papers, published in peer-reviewed journals, so that he could look at the data.

    Richard seemed uneasy and said, “I don’t want to discuss evidence”. “Why not?” I asked. “There isn’t time. It’s too complicated. And that’s not what this programme is about.” The camera stopped.

    The Director, Russell Barnes, confirmed that he too was not interested in evidence. The film he was making was another Dawkins polemic.

    I said to Russell, “If you’re treating telepathy as an irrational belief, surely evidence about whether it exists or not is essential for the discussion. If telepathy occurs, it’s not irrational to believe in it. I thought that’s what we were going to talk about. I made it clear from the outset that I wasn’t interested in taking part in another low grade debunking exercise.”

    Richard said, “It’s not a low grade debunking exercise; it’s a high grade debunking exercise.” “

  • Vic DiCara / Vraja Kishor June 29, 2020

    “Nothing beyond matter has been reported in the hundreds of years of science.”

    That’s a very ludicrous statement. Science intentionally avoids things that cannot be empirically measured, but no scientist worth a dime would equate this to mean that such things do not exist and are not experienced on a daily basis.

  • Vic DiCara / Vraja Kishor June 29, 2020

    “There is no evidence for any of the truths in śāstra, yet the sādhaka believes it.”

    Another extremely ludicrous and shallow statement.

    If you are really a scientist, please choose your words correctly. Your thoughts are alarmingly sloppy.

  • Tulasi June 30, 2020

    it’s not even about God, it’s about the living beings. So many places of worship, so many believers. Who really still believes today there is a plan of God, may God have mercy on him. This world as we experience it, was created, preserved or perhaps destroyed in the faith of mankind. It’s like with an electrical outlet, what you do with it is your business, it’s not about understanding the engineers in the power plant, you should put your creativity in the outlet. After all so many prayers are addressed to God every day, but He does not appear, so every reasonable thinking person should realize that it is not about God but about each individual and what he makes of it. Nevertheless, in our experience the origin of an energy source is always personal.

    • Parikshit Vats Chauhan June 30, 2020

      Setting aside metaphysical inquiries such as who is God or is there something called a spiritual world; the undeniable experiential truths about mind and life expressed in the Gītā and Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali are sufficient evidence for believing in existence of Īśvara.

      I find it problematic to label someone as a ‘scientist’ or a ‘devotee’. Such labelling may fuel prejudices. Language shapes conceptualization.

  • purushottam das July 1, 2020

    this is a debate like between a staunch non-veg n strict vegetarian. conclusion can never be reached. two sides of horizon like east and west. though the great scientists like Newton and Einstein believed in God and it is described in the biography of Einstein that while searching in the nature, he discovered his famous relativity theory.

    • Tulasi July 5, 2020

      The difference between these two groups are simple, one knows matter the other ignores it. The later one of this group makes the fundamental mistake by ignoring matter. Fully surrounded by matter and of its 95% matter driven body functionality he’s blanking it out. Instead he jumps to conclusions of dogmatism and poor intellectual Integrity. Once the spiritualist sees the necessity for understanding matter correctly, he can take full advantage on the path of enlightenment. Unfortunately the idea of understanding matter correctly is discarded by most of the spiritualist. Upmost he ends up in fanaticism.

    • Parikshit Vats Chauhan July 5, 2020

      Well said, Tulasi.

      One who ignores matter can’t be a spiritualist, the person is deluded and is mistaking fanaticism for spiritually. To put it technically, such a person delights in vikalpa-vrtti (fiction).

      Matter can’t be transcended without knowing its essential structure. Knowing the mind is also knowing matter. ‘Spirituality’ is probably one of the most misused words.

  • Swami B. P. Padmanabha July 2, 2020

    It may be relatively easy for a scientist to deny God´s existence, but it´s much more difficult to deny the existence of love for God, especially when we analyze its most fundamental attributes on a scientific level: brahmani upasamasraya. That someone can control the human passions is certainly otherworldly, and this should be enough empirical proof to be open to the possibility of something real causing such extraordinay symptoms.

    • Tool Time July 2, 2020

      Swami, your comment suggests that you haven’t understood this conversation. I can show you people who love the Easter Bunny, and others who love God. Their love neither proves nor disproves the existence of the object of their love. Furthermore, human passions can be and have been controlled simply by chemicals.

      God is adhoksaja, the Supreme Autocrat. No act of science or devotion can compel Him to reveal Himself. A god who can be compassed by human logic is something other than the Supreme.

      However, this does not mean that the use of the tools of science is futile. Science can teach us much about the physical world around us, and if we learn things that seem to “contradict” shastra we may safely conclude that our knowledge is merely provisional, but nonetheless useful. But it would be ludicrous to use the tools of science and expect to receive the results of bhakti. Similarly, if our bhakti gives us knowledge that seems to “contradict” science, we should not hesitate to apply our bhakti-jñana in the realm of bhakti, but we should not foolishly use that bhakti-jñana as if it were the result of science.

      Let science take us to the moon, closer to us than the Sun. But let bhakti take us to Goloka. Don’t make the mistake of thinking bhakti will take you to the moon or that science will take you to Goloka.

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