Science and Spirituality

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.

 

 

 

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Comments ( 7 )
  1. Vic DiCara / Vraja Kishor

    “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.

  2. Vic DiCara / Vraja Kishor

    “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.

  3. 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

      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.

  4. purushottam das

    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.

  5. Swami B. P. Padmanabha

    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

      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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