In the proposed seminar consisting of three gatherings on zoom under the aegis of the European School of Theosophy we will explore Education, Science and Spirituality.
The purpose of science is to discover and understand the order which manifests itself in the outer world of Nature. The purpose of humanity’s spiritual quest is to discover order in the inner world of our consciousness, in the form of peace, harmony, non-violence, joy, happiness and beauty, all of which are different elements of virtue. From time to time, in different parts of the world wise sages were born who discovered such order in consciousness. Their followers created various religions as paths to come upon that order in consciousness.
Unfortunately, religions got equated with belief, dogma and faith, thereby creating divisions in the world. In the west the scientific discoveries of Galileo in the 16th century, contradicted the beliefs of the Christian Church and he was persecuted and forced to recant his findings. From that time onwards, there came a big divide between science and religion, which persists even today. In the east such a divide did not occur and there has been a long legacy of religious inquiry into what is true and real and what is false and imaginary. In Christianity inquiry and doubt were forbidden and treated as heresy. In the eastern religions like Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Zen etc. there was belief, worship, and faith but religious inquiry and the quest for self-knowledge were pursued alongside these. There has been a long history of dialogues on these matters starting from Upanishadic dialogues, to Buddhist dialogues, Socratic dialogues, and various other religious dialogues in quest of truth and wisdom.
The Buddha pointed out that all negative emotions creating disorder in consciousness arise from illusions in our mind and can, therefore be eliminated by discerning what is true and what is false. This quest for truth does not involve any belief and therefore does not contradict the scientific quest. Krishnamurti pointed out that this is not merely an intellectual inquiry which transforms ideas but when it is combined with observation of the way our consciousness functions in daily life, it can bring about a transformation of consciousness through a deep perception of what is true and what is false leading to self-knowledge and wisdom. He regarded such a learning mind as the true religious mind and stated as follows: “The religious mind has no belief, no dogma; it moves from fact to fact. Therefore, the religious mind is a scientific mind; but the scientific mind is not a religious mind. The religious mind includes the scientific mind but the mind that is trained in the knowledge of science is not a religious mind”.
In this seminar we shall discuss the differences in the scientific and spiritual quests and show that they are two complimentary quests for truth in two different aspects of reality covering both the external world of Nature and the inner world of our consciousness. Both the quests have originated from the innate inquisitive nature of human consciousness but the questions they explore and the methods they employ are different. The antagonism between the two quests, perceived by many in society, is born of a superficial meaning given to religion which needs to be questioned.
One of the consequences of the divide between science and religion has meant that religious inquiry is not promoted in education and only the scientific and intellectual inquiry has been assiduously cultivated. This has led to a lop-sided development of the human mind which has accumulated knowledge and skills but without much understanding of oneself or one’s relationships. Knowledge and skills produce power and efficiency, which without self-knowledge and wisdom get used destructively. Most of the ills of modern society can be traced back to this lop-sided development of the human mind. The major problems of modern society are not the creation of uneducated villagers. They are the creation of highly educated minds which become political leaders, army men, diplomats and scientists. More of the same kind of education cannot remedy the problems. We shall examine some of the challenges faced by modern society and consider how education can create a mind that is both scientific and religious at the same time.