The Marriage of Science & Spirit: Negotiating the Great Pre-Nup, Part 1

During the last couple of weeks my inbox has been filled with eloquent emails from Deepak Chopra, Duane Elgin, Sam Harris, James O’Dea, Bruce Sanguin, Michael Dowd, Elisabet Sathouris, and many others — all about the nature of authentic “rational” or “scientific” spirituality. And I have been talking about some of these same issues with Ken Wilber, Andrew Harvey, Craig Hamilton, Duane Elgin and Rick Hanson. Hundreds of smaller conversations are ebbing and flowing — and to a certain degree, they’re all about a single, big topic.

Under the surface of things, and completely invisible to most observers, a great indirect “negotiation” is taking place — one with enormous implications for the future course of human culture.

The mind of rational science is reconciling itself with the truths encountered via spirituality, and the mind of trans-rational spirituality is reconciling itself more rigorously to the penetrating clarities of rigorous, evidence-based rationality. Each is realizing that they must reckon more fully with the other’s incontrovertible truths. That means they’re converging, headed for a “marriage” of sorts. This marriage, as it ripples through world culture, is likely to mark an epochal cultural sea-change.

I think that among our most prescient, original thinkers, there's a dawning awareness that the coming together of rationality with spirituality, the "marriage of science and spirit" is THE big thing happening now in terms of cultural evolution—an event on the scale of the Reformation or the Enlightenment. It is the most significant intellectual and cultural event of our time and it will reshape the future of human affairs.

             
This means that much is at stake, and there is no deep agreement about the precise terms on which this inevitable marriage will be consummated. In fact, the negotiations over the “pre-nup” bring together a wide range of participants, including some that seem more likely to have “irreconcilable differences” than to be candidates for matrimony.

Though there are, of course, shades of grey in this discussion, the differences seem to fall (very broadly, generalizing shamelessly) into two camps:

In one camp are rationalists, like Sam Harris, who have been recognizing and advocating for the benefits of mindfulness and meditative higher states and seeing a basis for transcending the narrowness of an overly reductive materialism. Harris credits contemplative traditions with confirming “some well-established truths about the human mind: Our conventional sense of self is an illusion; positive emotions, such as compassion and patience, are teachable skills; and the way we think directly influences our experience of the world.” Some see this as a basis for subsuming (some would even say “co-opting”) a non-dogmatic (and perhaps even demystified) “not religious” spirituality into a new, more comprehensive and powerfully modernist rationality.

Although much attention is dutifully paid to the attitudes of the leaders and followers of organized religions, I don’t think they are at the forefront of this synthesis.

In fact, the other camp is occupied by the many spiritual practitioners and mystics, myself included, who have taken to heart the implications of contemporary science, particularly quantum physics. We’re inspired by the mind-blowing ideas that time and space are the same thing, and that energy and light are the same “stuff” as physical matter. We’re especially inspired that our best scientific origin story — the Big Bang, and the processes of cosmic physical evolution, biological evolution and cultural evolution — says that every, every, everything (time + space + matter + energy) was once a tiny singularity. But we’re also inspired by the great mystics and sages and their unifying vision of the world. We are arriving at a rational spiritual vision that is grounded in science but not in “flatland” materialism. We are having the experience of awakening as co-participants in a conscious universal Reality, sometimes called the “Living Universe” or the “Kosmos.”


Each “side” envisions a marriage of science and spirit, but a marriage forged on very different terms. It is not a simple two-sided debate, though; there are myriad factions, each championing particular important “clauses in the contract.”

This blog post is the first of a series on this topic. In future installments, I’ll take a closer look at some of the key current ideas, and a few of the thinkers, who are proposing key terms for the “pre-nuptial agreement” for science and spirituality — the great cultural synthesis of our time.

Comments

The Marriage of Science and Spirit

Has it occurred to anyone besides me that the marriage of science and spirit occurs, not through negotiating positions, but through Being in a State of Consciousness that transcends words?

Yep! And, practicing That,

Yep! And, practicing That, I’m practicing Both/And.

The Marriage of Science and Religion

Me, too, as the result of a rather odd combination of life experiences - many mystical/transformational experiences coupled with 22 years of law practice.

yes, Eckhart Tolle reminds us

yes, Eckhart Tolle reminds us of this. So simple. So easy to forget. So important to keep on practising, remembering to "wake up."

spiritualism cannot be understoody at intellectual /words level

Yes.... you can ask any Sahaja Yogi and they will tell you spiritualism is not at intellectual level.

But the good questions is how to go beyond words and be at that State of consciousness. ! ?

This will not happen by man's endeavour.... nothing has happend by man's endeavour... we have grown from amoeba to human stage not by our own.

Dr. Nirmala Shrivastava fondly called as Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi has worked on this line since 1970 . Also twice nominated for Nobel Peace Prize, has worked far and wide in this self-realisation of human beings. Thanks to her !

So please take realisation which means know your own energy called Kundalini and she will take you beyond intellect !

wwww.sahajayoga.org www.freemeditation.com

Regards,

kavita

It is amazing when people

It is amazing when people completely ignore civilizations that have been living with one mind & spirit for millennia. Almost like going Eureka over inventing a round, flat thing that can be used to move heavy weights if you stick them under!!

Eureka ! indeed !

The fact that stone was there, the stick was there and that human were there earlier as well, it was the knowledge that somehow and from somewhere came into the mind of some being and the stone was moved !

The best part is to understand that we has human being are still growing , discovering new things. As Einstein said "Something dawned upon me from tortion area " . And so there is change in the human civilisation .

So, thanks to these people who had achieved the union of mind, and spirit already before others did, that they taught other humans about it , and many tried to follow it (may be giving new names as new religions); that the knowledge was told. But, it was not realised by all the people as these few men did.

But it is the time "Blossom Time " as Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi says; and that every person on this Earth has to achieve this Union. The only condition being is that one should ask for it ... it should be his WILL !

And when this energy called kundalini which resides in the sacrum bone, as called by Greeks, when shoots up from the Sahasrar or the 7 th cakra at fonatanelle bone, that the UNION Happens !

So just ask and it happens ! ........... and Enjoy :)

With love and regards,

Kavita

Old wine in new bottle

Yes. What is being talked about as fledgling state is already fully developed with all the arguments and counter-arguments in several ancient traditions like Vedantic Hinduism. It will do a great good to use the wisdom which is already available (giving due credits of course).

yes, we've just forgotten

yes, we've just forgotten this. It's time to re-remember.

Brahman

I hope readers recognize and realize that a lot of this "New Age" stuff is just repacking of ancient ideas present in Hinduism and Buddhism. Very little of it is actually new and this is not an exaggeration. It is merely stripped of its "religious" sounding Sanskrit terms and secularized/universalized as a means to get more people interested. The ancients were thinking about these exacts concepts thousands of years ago and the West is just beginning to catch on while speculating about a "marriage" between science/rationality and spirituality that has always been known elsewhere.

However, there are distortions as a result of this translation process. The concept of "soul" as most people understand it is not quite the same as "atman" for example. There are many, many others involving Sanskrit non-translatables that come to mind.

My advice? Respect the traditions where these ideas came from. Learn more about them if you so desire. Show direct support for them and speak out against predatory proselytization by missionaries who are not interested in these traditions surviving. If they are sufficiently marginalized, we all suffer.

Only greatest analysis

This is the most authentic , scientific and Vedic reply. This is must be from very learned person on Vedic traditions. This person is also very clever and knows designs of western forces. He knows they want to copy and Copt. Gentleman/ gentlewoman come and save our traditions. Unite forces. I offer you myself.

My name is Dr. VIKRAM sharma and I offer my services to forward your vision. Let me know and guide us

Plagiarizing or co-opting Vedic Agamic tradition

It is amazing how with out any sense of guilt, these people usurp well known Indian traditions and with out even blinking an eye claim a new invention discover to their name. It is no different from usurping Pagans in to Christianity or Alexandrian Euclid in Greek geometry. In fact claims are that greeks developed Algebra, even when they did not have place value number system, and istead used X'x and L for numbers.

want to follow this

want to follow this

The Marriage of Science and Spirit

Is it possible that all these concepts, traditions, and ideas emanate from an experience that transcends concepts, traditions, and ideas?

The Tao that can be spoken is not the Tao. Yet words and concepts can point toward the non-dual experience that cannot be spoken.

These reactions are telling

It's really strange to see these arguments from authority, that somehow "Eastern" cultures have been operating under this "marriage" for some time. That simply isn't true, and to claim such seems to be an attempt to change the discussion. The very fact that we can be having this discussion, on a web page, on the Internet, communicating our intentions as language, rides primarily on the back of "Western" progress. The underlying philosophies and reductive, mechanical perspectives that have birthed such amazing achievement; those things are that which "Eastern" lacks and are being spoken of as a fully equal partner in this "marriage".

what's missing?

Difficult to live fully with the resistance to wholeness in the
strictly rational mode but the reality is there in the ideal of wholeness
and its eternal values that are ignored and excluded as the rational groom refuses the marriage.

yes :)!

Science and mysticism are two facets of the same Truth - when we throw in ethics then we have a truly holistic version of the triad: Truth, Beauty and Goodness - the essence of all spiritual teachings... thank you for this beautiful explanation. These are truly exciting times when we are rediscovering this not just within religion but as science, and especially space science progresses, we see once more of the miracles and the beauty of science which incites this feeling of spiritual wonder and awe, about the beauty of our Kosmos. Thank you for this. xx

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