Now it is possible to articulate more clearly what union of science and spirituality is, and what it entails.
Union starts by developing a single worldview that integrates the separate worldviews of science and spirituality into one unified whole. This first essential step will irreversibly transform the way to think about, and the way to practice, both science and spirituality.
This new worldview removes the duality between mind and matter; inner and outer life; intuition and reason; intellect and emotions; mind and heart; objectivity and subjectivity; life and death, bringing a new vision about the nature of reality that was neither contained in the vision of science, nor in the vision of spirituality.
Yet, union is much more than a unified worldview. It is much more than an intellectual achievement because it unifies the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual aspects of human nature into an integrated whole where the whole is infinitely larger than the sum of the parts. Union brings into balance the inner life with the outer life; it discloses to each human being his true nature, it unleashes his unique creativity, and enriches his life far beyond what anyone can imagine. It is ultimately an inner process that allows each person to know herself as an integral, indestructible, and unique part of the universe.
It’s a fundamental step forward that finally brings harmony into a divided house. A step that enriches both science and spirituality, by extending the domain and the methodology of science beyond the limitations of a worldview that considers legitimate subjects of inquiry only observations from the outside, and only for those outer aspects of reality that can be reliably repeated in a laboratory. This unnecessary methodological limitation has induced many scientists to declare illusory those phenomena that cannot be successfully reproduced in their laboratory. But just because we declare that something doesn’t exist because we cannot pin it down, it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist.
Science has avoided the investigation of the inner, spiritual aspects of humanity, denying the clarity that could result by adding the power of rational thinking and experimentation to spirituality, a field that has traditionally limited itself to consider important only the inner, transcendental and intuitive personal experiences.
Rarely have scientists deeply explored the spiritual realms from the inside by making first-person experiments, and just as rarely have spiritual people deeply studied the core theories of physics and attempted to experience physical reality as first-person experiences. For union to occur, both sides need to respect and learn from each other what they don’t yet know and practice. Only from this shared knowledge and experience can union arise.
If the field of interest of human beings is divided into two broad categories: inner world and outer world; and the primary investigative tools are also divided into two categories: reasoning and intuition, the scientist is mainly interested in exploring the outer world using reasoning, while the spiritual person is mainly interested in the investigation of the inner world using intuitive, experiential means. Therefore, only one of the four possibilities is utilized by scientists and its polar opposite is utilized by spiritual people. One can expect that the union of science and spirituality will bring about a new mindset that will lead scientists and spiritual people to learn and explore both fields of inquiry using both tools, thus producing extraordinary new knowledge and new experiences.
A few words here in connection with intuition may help restore confidence about this indispensable capacity that has been generally doubted by scientists because it may lead to false conclusions, when in fact, if properly trained, intuition can provide insights that are impossible to obtain with reasoning alone. When educated intuition is coupled with educated rationality, the combination is incredibly more powerful than each separate method. However, to educate the intuition, and thus the creativity that depends on it, it is necessary to free the trapped emotions and feelings each human being carries within.
The self-knowing which is crucial to self-development requires recovering and understanding the core patterns hidden in emotions and feelings which are generally pushed out of sight during the acculturation process. This is essential because the emotions are far more vital than reason. Emotions are the propelling force to physical action while reason is neutral, it doesn’t contain the impulse leading to action. In other words, the dynamism of consciousness, its creativity, its developmental urge, the desire to know itself, are only present in the emotions and feelings, and not in the intellect.
One may consider the process of recovering and understanding emotions a purely psychological process rather than a spiritual process. However, the boundary between psychological and spiritual regions is quite broad, and the same emotional clearing process is required in order to make spiritual progress.
Interestingly, the power of emotions can be easily verified by recognizing that while a person can think about anything he wants, he cannot make himself feel something that he doesn’t feel. True feelings refuse to follow the will. One can pretend of course to feel something he doesn’t, as people have been skillfully trained to do so by their mothers. However, pretension and reality are very different. One can also push his true feelings out of sight, but in truth one cannot make himself feel what he wants.
To work with emotions one needs much integrity and honesty, and it takes a major effort, but that same integrity and honesty is then extended to all other aspects of one’s life, making the self-knowing much more reliable. In fact, the reason why intuitions tend to deceive is because each person has hidden agendas he is not aware of having, and these agendas interfere with the intuitive process producing distorted intuitions.
Clearing the emotions is even more fundamental for spiritual development because such development depends primarily on the accuracy of the intuitive side. Unfortunately many spiritual paths do not stress enough this point, creating some unbalance in the personal growth of their practitioners.
To summarize then, union means to recognize that both subjective and objective experiences are real, and to bring the power of both intellect and intuition into the study of both inner and outer realms. Therefore, union requires working toward knowing oneself and toward knowing the outer world, and seeing the reflection of self in the outer world, and the reflection of the outer world into the self. It means combining self-development with a deep knowledge of the universe, and expanding the ability to see new aspects of both inner and outer realities by using capacities of consciousness that are as yet largely undeveloped.
A typical scientist today is not motivated to do the difficult work of knowing himself, particularly the emotional self, which holds the key to personal development. The scientist generally limits his personal development only to the intellectual aspect, and generally has no training and little motivation to recognize that his trapped emotions and feelings keep under lock and key the far superior intuitive capacities that, once educated, would provide him the deep insights necessary to go much beyond what can be explored with the intellect alone.
Similarly, the spiritual exploration can take advantage of the rigorous intellectual development of the scientist to explore the inner reality with a more scientific and rigorous methodology that minimizes the potential for self-deception, and wishful thinking which are the most prevalent causes of arrested spiritual progress.
How Can Union Be Achieved?
The first step is to develop a new conceptual framework about the nature of consciousness, followed by a mathematical theory of the same. This theory will bring the aware observer into the basic framework of physics, allowing a mathematical description of the evolution of the universe as the co-evolution of the inner or aware aspect of reality in interaction with the outer or material aspect of reality.
This step will show that there is no objective reality, just different degrees of objectivity. To be right, the mathematical theory must lead to the unification of GR with QP by the introduction of awareness as an irreducible property of the primordial energy of the Big Bang, thus forming an inner and an outer reality from the outset. Not surprisingly both QP and GR deal with the intrusion of the observer into what was previously considered a completely objective reality. However these theories so far have only hinted about our world having an irreducible subjective component.
The author’s view is that:
1. reality will be found to be far more subjective, and far more revolutionary than the already bewildering one revealed by QP and GR, and…
2. the unification of QP and GR can only occur within a conceptual framework where both the aware observer and physical reality are co-evolving in recursive interaction.
It is time to abandon completely the idea that one can observe without affecting what is observed and that there is a privileged observer that is not affected by what is observed. When awareness is an integral part of wholeness from the beginning, it is no longer possible to make a distinction between the observer and the observed; both observer and observed observe each other.
Unification will allow a deeper understanding of the concepts of information, meaning, understanding, qualia-perception, complexity, the nature of self or identity, the nature of action, and free will. Many of the basic tenets of science will need to be revised, and some new concepts will be needed when consciousness will be seen as a core aspect of the nature of reality.
But the new conceptual framework capable of unifying the two now separate worldviews of science and spirituality into a single all-encompassing worldview will be only the necessary beginning. Once the separation between inner and outer reality will be clearly seen as non-existent, the motivation and permission to explore the inner realms with both intuitive and rational tools will allow the scientist to know himself as an integral part of the universe.
The converse will be true for the spiritual person who will be able to explore the outer realms with both intuitive and rational tools and see the world as an integral part of self. As discussed earlier, this effort will require a dedicated and intense personal work on one’s feelings and emotions, to recover the original intuitive and creative aspects that are now obfuscated by deeply armored psychological defensive structures.
Now the scientist is almost the polar opposite of the spiritual person when it comes to purpose, methodology, and tools used. Eventually there will be no major difference between the two when consciousness and matter are seen as complementary and irreducible aspects of reality; when knowing self is not much different than knowing outer reality; when the same patterns embedded in matter are seen reflected in the emotional, the mental, and the spiritual aspects of reality.
From that point on any journey will be both inner and outer, in a much deeper and creative way than man has ever known. The union of science and spirituality is not an intellectual exercise but a deep personal and unique journey into the nature of Life itself.
The author believes that many of the current problems facing humanity stem from the still unresolved duality between science and spirituality. If so, the place to start is to bring a deep union between the two opposing worldviews that continue to fester in our midst. To do so, a new conceptual framework is needed that is not only consistent with science and spirituality but extends both domains so that the will and the means to find creative solutions are brought to bear on the challenges facing mankind and the earth ecosystem. This new approach will not only heal the ecosystem, but also bring personal satisfaction, social justice, improved education and health, and peace on earth.
The key to healing the split rests on understanding the nature of consciousness. And given the impossibility to explain consciousness as an epiphenomenon of the operation of the brain, it is essential for scientists to deeply study alternative theories that assume a precursor of consciousness to exist at the beginning of the universe. Union also requires the spiritual person to take seriously the scientific evidence and bring his own intuitions and insights to help the debate. By continuing to live each in its own silos, ignoring each other, will not bring an end to the deep divisions that impede finding the solution to the current major challenges humanity needs to urgently face.
The hope that technology alone will resolve humanity’s problems is ill-founded. It is well known that technology is just a tool that can be used for or against the wellbeing of the planet, and thus humanity. The proliferation of ever more powerful and easily accessible technologies is very dangerous if it isn’t attended by an equal growth of personal responsibility rooted on respect for all life.
The universe is a big place indeed; a place we will not be able to explore from the outside, as the finite speed of light imprisons us to explore only a small corner of our own galaxy. If it is true that consciousness connects everything from the inside, then consciousness may be the only instrument of exploration of a universe that is otherwise essentially off limits to mankind as physical beings.
There is too much at stake to persist on the position that one side is right and the other must therefore be wrong. It is likely that each side is both right and wrong. Each side has a lot of truth and a lot of distortions, and only by joining forces, and looking at reality with open and fresh eyes, can mankind find a common ground, thus beginning a new era for the evolution of our planet.
Part 1: A Framework for the Union of Science and Spirituality
Part 2: The Nature of Consciousness
Part 3: Consciousness and Matter Co-evolve
Part 4: Explaining Consciousness
Part 5: What is Union?