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Question: Acharya Ji, how is the knowledge of the scriptures different from the knowledge of science?
Acharya Prashant: No scripture ever offers you knowledge. There is a great difference between knowing Science, and Spirituality. Science is knowledge. Science is incremental. A certain fellow does something, and the next fellow takes it forward from there. It’s like a relay race.
Spirituality – everyone has to start afresh. It doesn’t matter, how much your father, your ancestors, your predecessors knew. You will still have to start from where you are. Einstein didn’t have to start from zero. Newton said, “He could see so far, because he was standing on the shoulders of giants.” In Spirituality, you cannot stand on somebody else’s shoulders. You have to stand on your own. So, knowledge cannot help.
In Science, the more knowledge, the better.
In Spirituality, the more your freedom from knowledge, the better.
It has become a trend over the last few decades, to conflate these two – science and spirituality. In fact, certain authors think that it is a mark of their scholarship, if they use scientific terms in the spiritual domain. They would try to bring in quantum physics in Spirituality. There can be nothing more foolish than this. It only shows that you know no Spirituality and you are also revealing that you know no Science. If you know Science, then you would not conflate it with Spirituality. And had you been spiritual, why would you bring in Science?
Science is such a small petty subset of Spirituality. Science is about trying to look at objects, objectively. That’s what Science is – Look at the objects, without prejudice, objectively. That is Science.
Spirituality is about looking at the subject and object together. And hence, a third kicks in, that which you know by the name of witness. When the subject and the object are together, then that togetherness, is a very special thing. Science would never look at these two together. You may have fever, you are still observing a physical phenomenon. You might be in love, you are still observing a physical phenomenon. Your observation, will remain the same. If you are in a laboratory, the reading will not change, if you have fallen in love, or would it?
You are observing a physical phenomenon outside of you. You might be the greediest man ever born. Still, your readings would be the same. In spirituality, that does not happen. In Spirituality, everything depends on “Who you are?”
Science is oblivious to who you are. Science cares only about what is happening outside of you, in the physical objective world. You might be about to commit suicide, you might be totally depressed, yet the time period of that pendulum won’t change for you. The efficiency of the engine does not depend on your mental refinement, or does it? You may keep blood in your refrigerator, or you may keep liquor, or you may keep some water or some juice. The machine operates the same way.
In life it is not so.
Spirituality looks at the totality of life, which includes that(Object), this(Subject), the observation, and the witness.
Listener: Is witness not that which resonates with how you feel or you are happy or sad…
AP: Resonate with what? Resonance means, one thing resonating with the other. When you use the word resonance, it has to be used precisely. What resonates with what?
You see, this is what happens when scientific terms are arbitrarily applied to spirituality. If you must study the mind, if you must go into spirituality, then kindly be a little cautious of the neo-spiritualists. Please go directly to the scriptures. They will talk of Self-realization. They will not talk of quantum leaps or resonance.
Are you getting it?
L: Acharya Ji, it is said that God has written the scriptures, but all the scriptures are written by man?
AP: There is no difference. When man is totally himself, he is God. So, don’t have this artificial distinction. We are very fond of raising boundaries, are we not?
And there is a huge debate then.
“Were the Upanishads written by Rishis, or did they come from Brahma?” “Was the Quran revealed to the Prophet, or was it written by him?” How does it matter? And how are these two any different? Is God somewhere outside of you that he will communicate a message to you? When your Heart speaks, then it is God speaking.
When it is said, that Scriptures are words of God. The term used in India is, Aporushey, they do not belong to man. What it means is, that they are not products of the usual processes of the mind. Because the usual processes of the mind are all conditioned processes. And Scriptures are not a product of conditioning.
Scriptures are a product of deep meditative understanding. That is why it is said that they are coming from God. And whenever it is said that the Scriptures are coming from God, it is very rightly said. But that does not mean that God exists outside of man. These two things go together.
I am saying both “One, Yes! Scriptures are directly coming from God. Secondly, that God is sitting in the heart of man.” So, they are coming from man.
-Excerpts from a ‘Shabd-Yoga’ session. Edited for clarity
Watch the session video: Acharya Prashant: Science, Spirituality, and their relationship
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