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 lakṣaṇa, 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 prakṛti. 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 adhokṣaja 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 sakṣātkāra 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.
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