Spiritual people don’t have to denigrate science, and science people don’t have to denigrate spirituality, as if one is better than the other. No. Neither is the “better” one. This is genuine non-dualism.
Spirituality investigates interior realities, the mind, consciousness, the spirit/soul, and the self/Self, what we are inside, from the first-person subjective point of view (until we transcend that “subject,” that psychological self). Science investigates exterior realities, physical things, the material world, the laws of nature, fields and forces, the cosmos, etc., from an external objective point of view (until we realize there is no true or final objectivity or absolute that we can intellectually know).
Interior/exterior, inner/outer, heaven/earth. In the Gospel of Thomas, Jesus says:
When you make the two into one, and when you make the inner like the outer and the outer like the inner, and the upper like the lower, and when you make male and female into a single one, so that the male will not be male nor the female be female, when you make eyes in place of an eye, a hand in place of a hand, a foot in place of a foot, an image in place of an image, then you will enter [the kingdom].
The recent Eastern philosopher Alan Watts likewise said:
Really, the fundamental, ultimate mystery — the only thing you need to know to understand the deepest metaphysical secrets — is this: that for every outside there is an inside and for every inside there is an outside, and although they are different, they go together.
They are two sides of One coin, spirit and matter, mind and body, and eventually they meet in the middle, a middle way, and are realized as One and the same thing, seen through two different lenses, or in two different perspectives.
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Eventually we realize that the spirit world and the material world are not divided, but are One Great Whole. As I read recently from Steve Taylor:
In wakefulness, we realize that there’s no duality, no matter or spirit, no matter or mind. We realize that the physical world and the spiritual world are one, with no distinctions.Taylor, The Leap: The Psychology of Awakening
Heaven is here, on Earth, and this Earth is a Heaven, if we have eyes to see it, if our consciousness is open enough to realize it, to become aware of it, to take in its glorious beauty that surrounds us, that saturates our every moment. Our physical bodies are manifestations of heaven, of the transcendent, of that One, here on Earth.
Energy has collapsed together, fusing into matter in the cores of stars (likely one star nearby in our galaxy billions of years ago that went supernova), solidified in the atomic elements that make up our bodies. And more energy from our sun has come to animate them, through photosynthesis and the food chain, water, light, oxygen, carbon, to give them life, breath, and consciousness.
The unmanifest becomes manifest, the formless takes on form, the immaterial becomes the material, the implicate becomes explicate, the infinite potential collapses into finite reality. And then it returns again, and it is both at the same time. We are that spirit-energy that is flowing into form, waking up, becoming conscious, and then flowing out again. As Paul intuited, quoting the Greek seer and philosopher Epimenides, “in [God] we live, and move, and have our being” (Acts 17:28).
Through my own personal mystical experiences I have come to the radical realization that the material world and the spirit are not two separate things, but One and the same. We are not trying to escape this bodily form for an extraterrestrial heaven on a distant planet somewhere. We can realize that it is “on Earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). The two are One.
As Joseph Smith, the prophet-mystic from my Mormon background, once said,
There is no such thing as immaterial matter. All spirit is matter, but is more fine or pure, and can only be discerned by purer eyes. We cannot see it, but when our bodies are purified, we shall see that it is all matter.D&C 131:7-8
Spirit is matter. Matter is spirit. But to discern this, it takes “purer eyes,” mystical consciousness, deeper perception, to reconcile the inner/outer, mind/body, spirit/matter, as One Great Whole. Joseph Smith also had this insight:
And the spirit and the body are the soul of man.D&C 88:15-16
And the resurrection from the dead is the redemption of the soul.
The spirit nature of us (mind/consciousness/being), and the physical nature of us (body/physicality/blood/bones) are the soul of man. The two are One, as that soul, as that divine nature in God. And the resurrection from our spiritual death is the redemption of this knowledge, this knowing, this intuition, this insight, this being, this experience, the remembering of what we were before our “Fall.” This doesn’t happen after we are dead. It happens during life, and is Life itself.
Joseph Smith also had this insight/revelation:
For man is spirit. The elements are eternal, and spirit and element, inseparably connected, receive a fulness of joy;D&C 93:33-35
And when separated, man cannot receive a fulness of joy.
The elements are the tabernacle of God; yea, man is the tabernacle of God, even temples; and whatsoever temple is defiled, God shall destroy that temple.
We are spirit, even now. The elements that make up our bodies are made up of eternal components, for as the first law of thermodynamics states, energy cannot be created or destroyed (aka Conservation of Energy). It lasts forever, which is eternity. And spirit is one with these elements, and is never separated from them. The spirit is that energy that becomes the elements, and that flows through them, and facilitates the consciousness that emerges from them. And the Spirit comes to know its Self. God sees God, as in a mirror.
And this is a fulness of joy. When this is hidden from our consciousness, when the ego thinks it is separate from Spirit, when we are “fallen,” alienated from the Absolute, we are lost, frightened, fearful, depressed, in a dark night. But we can awaken from that dream, from that illusion and error, from that delusion to the way things really are, the Whole of which we are.
As the celebrated theoretical physicist Albert Einstein once said,
A human being is a spatially and temporally limited piece of the whole, what we call the “Universe.” He experiences himself and his feelings as separate from the rest, an optical illusion of his consciousness. The quest for liberation from this bondage is the only object of true religion. Not nurturing the illusion but only overcoming it gives us the attainable measure of inner peace.
When we are liberated from this illusion of separateness, that we are somehow apart from Spirit, dualistically alienated from God, then we are practicing true religion. This is known as redemption, salvation, resurrection, exaltation, enlightenment, satori, kensho, nirvana, moksha, liberation, freedom, etc. We are saved from our own fallen sense of the separate self, the ego, the “natural man,” to a realization of our divinity in God/Reality here and now, in and through our own Self, and through all things in the cosmos!
“The elements are the tabernacle of God, even temples,” Joseph said, repeating the early Christians Apostle Paul and St. Stephen. Not even many Mormons see this. It is sealed from their eyes, the veil is pulled over consciousness, even though it is plain to be read. The ego can’t imagine how it is one in God because it is the very thing that constructs the sense of separation.
The Indian sage Ramana Maharshi once said:
The mind is a bundle of thoughts. The thoughts arise because there is the thinker. The thinker is the ego. The ego, if sought, will automatically vanish. Reality is simply the loss of the ego. Destroy the ego by seeking its identity. Because ego is no entity it will automatically vanish and reality will shine forth by itself.
When the ego construction in consciousness falls away, then we see the Truth of Reality, as-it-is, also known as yatha-bhuta in Buddhism, or simply dharma. Dharma is the true reality of things, not the way we think things are, but as they really are. That thinker must fall away, the ego is transcended.
The fullness of the Father, the pleroma as it is known in Christianity, is here and now for us to awaken to, for us to become conscious of, and this awakening will set us free. Spirit and matter are One, mind and body are One, Heaven and Earth are One, mystical spirituality and scientific materiality are One, I and my Father are One. That you may realize that you and the Father are One also was Jesus’ most holy prayer:
Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one…
that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.
The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one,
I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.John 17:11, 21-23
We are One.
What are your thoughts about spirituality versus science? Do you think we can realize the fullness of reality without both of these? How do we go about reconciling the two? Please add your thoughts in the comments.