By Sean O’Donnell
Last week, we looked at how energy is perceived in both science and spirituality.
This week, we continue the discussion by touching a broad array of topics.
Science and spirituality are both ultimately born of the same impulse: questioning. A search for knowledge. A search for truth. At times, a large disconnect has been portrayed between these two disciplines. Given that what we know as science has its roots in the past several hundred years, at best, while what we call spirituality has its roots going back thousands and thousands of years, there are bound to be some differences. However, we can see a lot of overlap and convergence in the study of physics and consciousness, as well as how some of the greatest seekers made waves in both fields.
East Meets West in Advanced Physics
As the study of physics has progressed, it has expanded into a new field called string theory. String theory is about as esoteric as its spiritual counterparts, and there are infinitely complicated interpretations and depths left to be explored. In some very simple ways, though, these achievements in physics are aligning with some things that Eastern religions and mystics have been saying for quite some time.
String theory revolves around the concept that the entire physical world is made up of vibrating strings as the very smallest component. All matter and all energy would be made up of these vibrating strings. What is even more fascinating about this proposition is that according to modern physics, in order for this to be true, several more dimensions must exist.
It is impossible for the mind to comprehend these dimensions or for us to discern how tiny these vibrating strings are believed to be under normal conditions. Likewise, our deepest, most comprehensive understanding of the spiritual world cannot be reached with the mind. It is nice to notice though that intense seeking, regardless of the lens used, can result in cohesive revelations, such as the concept that the entire universe is made up of vibrations, that there are threads that connect us all, and that there is more to our reality than what we can measure in the three dimensions of space and the dimension of time.
Science and Spirituality on Consciousness
The nature of consciousness is something that philosophers and neuroscientists have contemplated for ages. Recently, a lot of money has been put forth trying to study the nature of consciousness with advanced computer models. One project attempted to recreate a roundworm by reproducing all 302 neurons exactly in a simulation. In attempting to model this brain like a computer, the results produced fall far short of the behavior of a living roundworm.
A living roundworm can find food, find a mate, avoid predators, and learn things. The simulated bunch of neurons did not replicate this. It was lacking anything resembling consciousness. There is something more. Something else that is essential to life. Something beyond a complex pile of neurons that produce consciousness, and this supports what we have been told by countless ancient traditions of knowledge.
Great Minds Think Alike
Throughout history, some of the greatest scientists are known to have also put a tremendous amount of research into spiritual topics as well. Albert Einstein, Nikola Tesla, Isaac Newton, and René Descartes―to name a few―all made contributions or espoused theories in both seemingly contradictory areas of study. Albert Einstein may have said it best:
“Now, even though the realms of religion and science in themselves are clearly marked off from each other, nevertheless there exist between the two strong reciprocal relationships and dependencies. … Science can only be created by those who are thoroughly imbued with the aspiration toward truth and understanding. This source of feeling, however, springs from the sphere of religion … I cannot conceive of a genuine scientist without that profound faith. The situation may be expressed by an image: science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.”
Sean is a Hridaya Yoga student and a frequent contributor to our blog. You can read all of his blog posts here.