Spirituality and science have common aims

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It just so happens that in the so-called ‘West’ there has been a rapid development of science in the last few centuries. If we want to understand how things work, if we want to develop technologies and medicine, we turn to ‘Western’ science.

Also, it just so happens that when it comes to introspection and exploration of subjective inner states of consciousness, the so-called ‘East’ has had the historical monopoly. There have been a few thousand years of rigorous exploration of consciousness through meditative, contemplative, tantric and various other practices. This has allowed humans to discover and access mental states in which truths about our minds and subjective experience can be discovered and experienced first-hand without the need for belief.

Of course neither science nor spirituality are the preserve of the ‘West’ or ‘East’; they are universal. What is scientifically or spiritually true in one place, time and culture is also true in another. Similarly both spirituality and science are scientific – they are both based on repeatable personally verifiable evidence/experience, and do not rely on belief or dogma.

Similarly both spirituality and science are scientific – they are both based on repeatable personally verifiable evidence/experience, and do not rely on belief or dogma.

But what is the point of it all? In both cases the aim (in my view) is to alleviate suffering and improve the quality of life for as many people as possible. This is done though understanding, by being honest and truthful in our enquiry, by discovering truths of our experience of life: science looks outward and enables us to develop medicine and technology among other things; spirituality looks inwards and enables us to discard our wrong ways of viewing and thinking about ourselves and the world in which we live.

…science looks outward and enables us to develop medicine and technology among other things; spirituality looks inwards and enables us to discard our wrong ways of viewing and thinking about ourselves and the world in which we live.

In spiritual exploration we can discover that the sense of being an individual entity that chooses and has free will is an illusion. And paradoxically this understanding, far from being unsettling, is actually liberating. It frees us from our self-created mental and emotional suffering. This gives our lives and sense of ease, joy and clarity, so much so that it can feel ‘divine’. It also happens to tally with science which tells us that there is no evidence for a sense of self (as defined above): our sense of self is an illusion.

Is this also your understanding of spirituality and science?

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