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Is spirituality pointless? Does science have all the answers?

spirituality is pointless Is spirituality pointless? Does science have all the answers?

We’re all searching for the same thing – happiness. The only difference is the place we search for happiness. General opinion might lead us to believe it’s found in money, technology, power, sex, and/or drugs, likely due to the religious dogma that has pervaded, particularly through Western religions for millennia.

Many of us in the modern world tend to view religion as rather irrelevant, preferring instead to look to science for answers. While science does provide answers one might instantly seek, does it provide answers that lead to happiness? The short answer is no – it has never been science’s goal to make people happy, and never will be. Science is concerned only with knowledge of the physical through repeated testing.

Religion is attempting to address these issues of happiness, but in the West, dogma seems well on the way to overshadowing religion’s deeper meaning, leading many to overlook it entirely. How can we abide by such rigid dogma in the 21st century? We can’t.

So, philosophically, we’re in a bit of a pickle. Since many have abandoned religion in favour of science, the most important element of religion is in danger of being abandoned along with it, spirituality. Many have come to view spirituality and religion as being one and the same – I was once one of these people.

Not so long ago an outspoken atheist, I was a sucker for neglecting my spirituality in favour of science with the confused notion that spirituality had to be dogmatic. It didn’t lead to happiness. Then I began to look east.

Buddhism is a non-theistic, non-dogmatic religion – finding true happiness its main focus. It is entirely compatible with scientific discovery, and is concerned with solving the mysteries of human existence from a spiritual perspective. Now, spirituality in Buddhism isn’t based on blind faith; it’s founded (put simply) on self-discovery achieved through the practice of meditation.

Through meditation, we can discover things about happiness and ourselves that transcend what we know about the physical world. What’s more, it’s actually scientific – we can get the same results multiple times. Through engaging in a daily meditation practice, we can begin to uncover individual truths.

I’m not proposing you all immediately convert to Buddhism, but rather, I’m proposing you use your rationality. Experienced yogis have been using meditation to treat mental illness for thousands of years; modern medicine has only recently found evidence of meditation being effective for this purpose.

Perhaps what we need today, instead of viewing spirituality and science as totally separate, is to start viewing them as just two sides of the same coin: two different methods running in tandem to uncover the same truths. We need to cultivate a healthy fusion of spirituality and science, utilising spiritual wisdom to aid us in our scientific understanding.

If we close our minds we can surely never find what we are all searching for – a happiness free from hatred and delusion.

Written by Dan Simmons

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  • Joe Bloggs

    “it has never been science’s goal to make people happy, and never will be”
    Look up positive psychology. Also, just because Buddhism is lighter on the dogma than other religions doesn’t make it 100% dogma-free. The majority of Buddhist teachings (e.g. emptiness/Śūnyatā) are faith-based — they’re just more chilled out (than say, holy resurrection).

    • Dan Simmons

      Hi,

      Thanks for your comment. The use of positive energy to treat mental illness is along the same lines as when I say ‘Experienced yogis have been using meditation to treat mental illness for thousands of years; modern medicine has only recently found evidence of meditation being effective for this purpose.’

      Also, when you speak of ‘dogma’ and ‘faith’, yes, Buddhism does ask for a certain amount of faith. But this faith or ‘dogma’ as you mistakenly call it only goes so far as to try to encourage the individual to meditate to uncover individual truths. You don’t just blindly believe anything, but you do have do believe, I suppose, that meditation works. At the end of the day it is completely up to the individual whether he or she chooses to engage in a daily meditation practice, but if he/she does, the truth of emptiness eventually is understood as meditation provides the mental clarity needed to this. Quantum mechanics is also coming round to this view of the true nature of the universe being emptiness. 99.999999999999% of atoms are emptiness. This considered, atoms are also on the very edge of the quantum field which means that the majority of reality exists solely as wave energy. Atoms have also been shown through repeated testing to only come into existence when observed by a conscious mind. For further information see this two-part video on Buddhism and Science: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qj_i7YqDwJA

      Peace.

      • JonJo Shelvy

        Don’t obscure your point by conflating quantum mechanics with metaphysics – ‘observed’ is confusing terminology in the quantum physics-sense, the universe acts as the ‘observer’, as the wave function of all matter is entangled and coupled with that of all other matter.
        No intelligent being is required for this to occur – your implication being that the universe began and exists because of the evolution of consciousness – no physicist believes this.
        To suggest such an origin theory would contradict your point arguing the compatibility of science and Buddhism.

        P.S. If we’re talking quantum mechanics, the ‘space’ in an atom is filled with quantum fields. ‘Empty’ is a bit of a misnomer, a relic of the solar-system type model of the atom from the early 20th century.

        • Guest

          If I sounded like I was implying that, I didn’t mean to. I agree with what you’re saying – but I don’t have a physics degree whereas, clearly, you do.

          • JonJo Shelvy

            I didn’t mean to be pedantic.
            I thought you ought not to undermine the point of your article with a confused explanation of the subject, which I felt you did in your reply to Joe Bloggs (which incidentally is also a pseudonym.)

            No physics degree – just an interest in physics.
            An unfortunate flaw in the way sciences are taught at secondary level means outdated models are taught simply because they are easier to grasp, meaning current thinking contradicts what people are taught in schools.
            The video you posted similarly ties in some elements of pop-sci physics with Gerald’s interpretation of Buddhism.

            I do not disagree with the premise, I think there are many possibilities for spirituality within science, from the feeling of a shared kinship with all life on earth, down to the quantum entanglement of the matter that we, and every other particle in the universe are made up of.
            We are infinitely interconnected on so many levels, science and Buddhism are more compatible than many give credit for. The Dalai Lama’s attitude towards science is excellent, too.

          • Dan Simmons

            I didn’t mean to be confused :). Thanks for your comment – interesting what you say about the pop-sci elements of that video. If you could give me some new titles, that’d be great!

            I would very much like to get some kind of ball rolling for more of this type of discussion between scientists, philosophers, religious leaders, politicians, atheists, artists and people of different faiths. We need many different types of people to become involved in this discussion, as opposed to just categorising ourselves and putting our blinkers on. As you say, we’re all so interconnected.

            Peace.

        • Guest

          I’m not claiming to be a physicist. Hence why I post the link to a video appropriately expressing what I am attempting to highlight. If you would like to highlight the flaws in my scientific knowledge, that’s fine, but please use your real name so we can check your knowledge against your credentials ‘JonJo Shelvy’. All I can find when googling that name is a footballer, no eminent quantum physicists unfortunately.

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