Swami Nirviseshananda Tirtha
Do you know of any other civilization in the world which has declared that the Ultimate Truth of the universe is Knowledge? Not the objective knowledge we generally think of, but the non-dual Knowledge of our Real Identity.
Q: In the west many feel science and spirituality are not compatible. They believe that science is about facts and logic, about results of experiments that are verifiable and can be shown. Whereas they see spirituality – which somehow gets mixed up with religiosity – as something based on faith and belief, that cannot be demonstrated – almost mythical and imaginary.
How do you define science and spirituality in terms of how similar they are and where is the point of departure?
NS: In fact, such misconceptions about spirituality are there everywhere, not only in the west.
You said that in the west they are not able to match science and spirituality; but, if you look into the 20th century Nobel Laureates for quantum physics, many of them have said that the ultimate truth is in Vedanta; they have spoken about the oneness of Consciousness. That is what they understood as spirituality. There is no conflict for the real scientists who have gone deep into the ultimate Reality and the true meaning of spirituality.
Religion is based on a concept of God. Generally people have an “extrovert” idea about God – that God is somewhere in the yonder sky. That is not spirituality. Spirituality starts when we start questioning that concept, start asking “Can we realize what is God?”.
In spirituality the ‘I’ in us, the inmost Truth of our being, is finally discovered as God. So, spiritual sadhana starts when we stop looking outside and start looking within to find out “Who am I”.
In science, our focus is on the world. We study its reality and the laws applicable to it. We don’t go into the Subject within, that perceives the world. Whereas our Rishis understood that the cause of the universe cannot be found in the universe itself, because whatever we get as the source of the universe, we will ask “What has caused that?”. So, they started looking within, enquiring who is this ‘I’ that is looking at the world. In that process, they finally discovered the Truth – that the whole universe is an appearance in that ‘I’, the Consciousness.
Our mistake is we think Consciousness is within the body. Only when we do the inner experiment do we understand that the whole universe – of which my body-mind personality is only a tiny part – is appearing in Consciousness. So, our body-mind personality is in Consciousness, not the other way round.
By understanding the Subject ‘I’, spirituality has found the ultimate solution to all our problems. Because you see, all problems come from the smallness of our identity. We feel ‘I am this body, this is what I am and others are different.” That creates selfishness, greed, competition and everything that leads to the problems in human life, society and civilization.
When we understand that the real ‘I’ is not small, it is universal and there is nothing other than that, all problems will be solved. The greatest discoveries of science have resulted in both good and bad for the world. Whereas spiritual discovery is only for the ultimate good of the entire mankind.
Just imagine, thousands and thousands of years ago, it was recorded in Rig Veda (which is considered to be the oldest of the Vedas), that the ultimate ‘constituent’ of the Universe is KNOWLEDGE – Prajñānam Brahma. Brahman is the substratum of the whole universe. Do you know of any other civilization in the world which has declared that the Ultimate Truth of the universe is Knowledge? Not the objective knowledge we generally think of, but the non-dual Knowledge of our Real Identity.
As the Knowledge gets more and more mature, our identity also gets completely transformed, until it is no longer ‘knowing’ the Ultimate Truth but becoming that. Will not any scientist be attracted to such a great discovery?
– Vicharasethu–April 2022