Monday, May 23, 2011

Science as a spiritual technique and the other way around

"Stupidity is repetition, repeating others. It is cheap, cheap because you need not learn. Learning is arduous. It needs guts to learn. Learning means one has to be humble. Learning means one has to be ready to drop the old, one has to be constantly ready to accept the new."  Osho

Sometimes it is war between science, spirituality and philosophy. There are several causes. One reason is that people today misunderstand the scientific method, which I will come back too. Another reason is the the power and money that is associated with scientific research that have created a power structure that some people consider to be unhealthy. In Sweden postmodernism mayham have started to take over academia as a way to redirect power, as I mentioned, their work is based in a total misunderstanding in the scientific method itself and I will not (at least not now) get into that discussion.

I am more interested in exploring similarities between spirituality and science.
Why do we have spirituality? It gives an explanation of our place in cosmos and it teaches us how to relate to the world. in a way that brings us happiness. Most techniques are focused on getting the brain to stop thinking and become conscious of the fact that it is alive. The present is a place/time/state that can be defined but not really described. When an old brain encounters an experience or a problem,  it goes back and recall every experience that was similar to this one, and then act from those experiences. What worked, what did not work? It is a bit like choosing a computer program, which should I run in this situation, what would help me, who should I be. A young brain has not started this but instead interacts with the experience, if it is a problem it will attack every angle of it until it has solved. It is blank of prejudice, it has no made up ideas of what the interaction has created. This is the state that so many people lock themselves up in ashrams to achieve, the young state. The nonjudgemental nonimprinted brain.

This innocent stage perceives everything as it was the first time, which it is. If you have seen my previous postings, you will know that the body is in constant change, thus every experience that you have in this body is for the first time. You don’t think that you are experiencing it, you are experiencing it, it is a big difference and it is the purpose of spiritual teachers and gurus to make you see this difference.
I am convinced that  a person who are going through life with a spiritual purpose and a strong longing will find treasures along the way. I have done this myself and I do encourage everybody to explore what it means to have a consciousness and being human. But often a shift takes place in the spiritual journey. The spiritual interpretation slowly become a new imprinting, a new judgement through which they interact with the world. New myths are incorporated, the indivudal continue to live from a brain that has an idea of what life should be like, although the old myths have been exchanged by new. This is how dogmas are created, suddenly the new myths are more important than anything else, it is what defines the person. It might have brought a sense of relief, happiness and peace. But everything changes, nothing ever remains the same. In order for peace to remain, the brain has to keep its innocent state. When dogma enters it will be we and them, should and would. Then the brain has gone back to creating something from thoughts and preconceptions instead of being in the present. You wanted to run away from your life’s story and ended up creating a new prison for yourself.

Now let turn our gaze towards science.
Why do we have science? We want to understand what it means to be alive. If we can use that to improve our lives we will be even happier.
The scientific method is based on a self-correcting interaction with nature and constant international dialogue of sharing observations. When I show my data I have to describe every step that I took, every chemical I used. It is exactly like sharing a recipe, and people all over the world will try to recreate my data/cake by following notes. Usually one does several experiments to answer the same question, in order to verify the result with various techniques. At those occasions where they get diverging results one has to question the data and the circumstances. Science is constantly rebuilding its truth. It is a constant dialogue where we are open as Osho said; “Learning means one has to be ready to drop the old, one has to be constantly ready to accept the new.” We are constantly learning about life. The truth will last as long as the data makes sense in the context that interprets the data from. If the data start showing something else the context might have to be revised. This can be referred to as scientific revolutions.

There is also a judgmental side to science. Some scientists don’t understand the fragility of their data. Dogmatic scientists are blind to the contextualition that they live in. We have created a world together that makes sense so to us. Questions that we ask on patient level might be influenced by prejudice ideas on women and men. Some scientists are blind to how their own ideas affect their experimental designs. Yet once you show your data to the world they will be open for debate. Interestingly, it is usually the judgemental people that are at each other’s throats. The one that believes in the process knows that truth will reveal itself and change as it always has.
I know that it can be hard to introduce a new truth into the field, or have made experiments that nobody else have succeeded with. Nobody will believe your data, it will take several years to get them published. But if they are true, you will in the end succeed.
We are living in a time where science is under fire and the scientific method is presumed flawed. It is not science that is the villain. Mr Specters speaks of the dangers of science denial in his Ted talks.

“We're now in an epidemic of fear like one that I've never seen and hope never to see again. Unfortunately, this fear is motivating people to replace science with a belief in magic, from seemingly harmless magic such as Ginkgo biloba, echinacia, and açaí, to tragic magic such as using coffee enemas to cure cancer, or even insisting that beet root can cure HIV. People fight genetically engineered food, and think it's wrong to patent life and crop seeds -- and they blame science for these problems. But these issues are about law, morality and corporate greed, not science. Science is not a company, it's not a country, it's not even an idea. It's a process….The idea that we should not allow science to do its job because we're afraid is really very deadening, and it's preventing millions of people from prospering."

Mr Specter is right. Science is a process. A scientific interaction with life is thus what the spiritual seeker is looking for, it is an innocent and curious interaction. It is an interaction without fear that explores life, nobody knows will emerge from the dialogue today. The scientist and the spiritual seeker both want to dive deeper into the mystery of being here.

So there is a common thread here, science and spirituality both have the possibility to be dogmatic, oppressive and religious, it also has the capacity to be nonjudgmental. Dalai Lama is one of few religious leaders that have been positive to science. He knows that it is two sides of the same thing, an interaction with life that is always changing, while the processes to study life/explore conciousness remain the same.

This is an image of an exploding star, taken by the hubble telescope.
I wanted to add it for its beauty.

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