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