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Religion Vs Spirituality
by Dr. C.S. Shah Bookmark and Share

The circular growth of science has reached its peak; the pointer must come downward again. However, new tangents would be drawn to the circle that would once again point upwards as the offshoots for further progress. Thus we would always find two tendencies in every branch of knowledge, one of the progress and the other of decline. Religion and spirituality are no exceptions to this rule.

Science had started as nonpartisan quest for knowledge: pure and simple, based on reason and rationality, but without any consideration of reasonability. For, reasonableness does not come under the purview of physical science; it comes under the application of the truths one has gathered from the vast pool of Jnana Sagara - ocean of knowledge. The basic facts are not invented; they are discovered. For, all fractional disciplines of knowledge - mundane or secular, arts or sciences, religious or spiritual - are but self-existent parts of one eternal and ever-existent Truth.

The quest for knowledge is to realize the totality of truth; however, as the person or persons involved in seeking and exploring the 'totality' are themselves the parts of that one whole, they in no way can ever grasp or reach the wholeness; unless of course one becomes the whole himself. And indeed that alone is the graceful aim that 'The Whole' has reserved for and granted to the human beings! Thus, knowingly or unknowingly, the person or the persons as a collective endeavor (clans, groups, states, province, nation, world, etc.) - the whole process of evolution - is always in a flux and in the process of reaching the wholeness that can also be called perfection.

In this journey the person reaches a temporary phase or a stage where he can 'have consciousness' that he is capable of 'reasoning and rationalizing' about the wholeness. From this point of view one should try to see the scientists' claim that they do not need religion and spirituality to decipher the meaning and value of the universe and its existence, and interrelationship and interdependence of multifarious objects and emotions therein

The Implications

What are the implications of such an analysis? Though, not easy to put in words, for the words are also but the part of that Whole, it is given to us to try and explain 'reason' of science and spirituality and thereby come to grasp the limitations thereof. This is the one purpose of seeking knowledge, i.e. to develop or sharpen 'reason' itself to the level of intuition and thereby cross it or transcend it. The forced or inherent inability and resistance to do so leads to or brings to the surface the dichotomy between the science and its application as technology, spirituality and its application as religion.

This inability to see the lag between science and technology, spirituality and religion, springs from the varying pace of growth of and misplaced emphasis on the two. While science, including the science of spirituality, is the outcome of immense labor and head poured into clarifying one genuine concept, its application afterwards is a matter of simple logistic and a matter of time. While the rewards of intensive labor and application of intellect to create and evolve (or resolve) a concept is but intellectual satisfaction and recognition later, its application in the form of technology brings forth immediate comfort and joy in life of the many mostly concerned with sense pleasures. Such comforts take the forms of more leisure and ease in life in the field of physical sciences, while in the spiritual field they become rituals and traditions. Light and electricity, ease of communication and transport, availability of food and housing all pertain to the technological fall out physical sciences, while temples and worship, books and prayers come handy as religions based on the science of spirituality, discovered and enunciated by the Prophet or the Seer.

Soon in the clamor and dazzle of technological fallout there occurs the forgetfulness about the basic principles of pure sciences, both physical and metaphysical. The moral and ethical vistas, i.e. the universal appeal of the founder genius (the scientists), are relegated to the background and in their place are visible the horrifying and distorted fall outs of the technological and religious decay. The most decadent and dreaded aspects are the weapons of mass destruction and religious fanaticism. The world today is seeing and experiencing such a cleavage between science and technology and spirituality and religion.


The lag between the two must be corrected, and this can be done, as was the case with the global application and spread of physical sciences, by finding the universal basis for all religions. Every religion is a necessary outcome of partial truth discovered by a prophet or a seer; the idea of universalization and finding harmony of religions is to accept the unitary principle behind each one of them. The physical sciences have done it, but the science of spirituality is far from such attempt. It would be futile to claim that then the world would become Heaven to live in, but at least the intellect of spirituality would attain some conformity with its applied aspect, the religion. This bridging the gap between the basic science and its applied aspects in the field of spiritual science itself would bring peace and harmony in the societies world over. And even the misfortunes and dissensions in the field of physical sciences and their applied technological aspects shall find some respite in the process of bringing spirituality and religion in conformity they deserve. Advaita Vedanta can indeed act as the basic source to offer such unifying building material and the foundation for such an edifice. The reason to bring in Advaita Vedanta as the basis of all religious expressions is the fact that all the seers of various religions have had realized their experiences and their concepts on the basis and at the plane of Advaita alone.

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