By Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant is a sannyasi, an ascetic Hindu monk. He has a vision to bring the wisdom of ancient scriptures, words of saints and the rigour of modern science to the help of mankind. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Question: Acharya Ji, how is the knowledge of the scriptures different from the knowledge of science?
Acharya Prashant: No scripture ever offers you knowledge. There is a great difference between knowing Science, and Spirituality. Science is knowledge. Science is incremental. A certain fellow does something, and the next fellow takes it forward from there. It’s like a relay race.
Spirituality – everyone has to start afresh. It doesn’t matter, how much your father, your ancestors, your predecessors knew. You will still have to start from where you are. Einstein didn’t have to start from zero. Newton said, “He could see so far, because he was standing on the shoulders of giants.” In Spirituality, you cannot stand on somebody else’s shoulders. You have to stand on your own. So, knowledge cannot help.
In Science, the more knowledge, the better.
In Spirituality, the more your freedom from knowledge, the better.
It has become a trend over the last few decades, to conflate these two – science and spirituality. In fact, certain authors think that it is a mark of their scholarship, if they use scientific terms in the spiritual domain. They would try to bring in quantum physics in Spirituality. There can be nothing more foolish than this. It only shows that you know no Spirituality and you are also revealing that you know no Science. If you know Science, then you would not conflate it with Spirituality. And had you been spiritual, why would you bring in Science?
Science is such a small petty subset of Spirituality. Science is about trying to look at objects, objectively. That’s what Science is – Look at the objects, without prejudice, objectively. That is Science.
Spirituality is about looking at the subject and object together. And hence, a third kicks in, that which you know by the name of witness. When the subject and the object are together, then that togetherness, is a very special thing. Science would never look at these two together. You may have fever, you are still observing a physical phenomenon. You might be in love, you are still observing a physical phenomenon. Your observation, will remain the same. If you are in a laboratory, the reading will not change, if you have fallen in love, or would it?
You are observing a physical phenomenon outside of you. You might be the greediest man ever born. Still, your readings would be the same. In spirituality, that does not happen. In Spirituality, everything depends on “Who you are?”
Science is oblivious to who you are. Science cares only about wening outside of you, in the physical objective world. You might be about to commit suicide, you might be totally depressed, yet the time period of that pendulum won’t change for you. The efficiency of the engine does not depend on your mental refinement, or does it? You may keep blood in your refrigerator, or you may keep liquor, or you may keep some water or some juice. The machine operates the same way.
In life it is not so.
Spirituality looks at the totality of life, which includes that (Object), this (Subject), the observation, and the witness.