Science, Spirituality and Mysticism: Not Mutually Exclusive

The Dalai Lama wrote: “In order to understand the way our brains behave, we can observe our emotions and their effects. In the past, it seemed as though science and spirituality were opposed to each other. However, it’s not a useful division to maintain, because the one tradition deals with knowledge of the material world and the other with the inner world of the mind; we need to know about both.”

The Dalai Lama did not mention mysticism, which seems unusual to me since he is a part of the Tibetan mystical tradition, which has existed for many centuries.

Lately, I have been taking a course in modern European mysticism and psychology from Hebrew University in Jerusalem on-line from professor Jonathan Garb. In the midst of this course, I noticed another aspect within mysticism that is closely connected to spirituality as well as science.

The mystics of a variety of traditions deal with changing perceptions. Mysticism changes the perception of the world, which is the same world we all experience. Science informs us about the physical world and in its own way changes our perceptions of it. We can look at what appear to be random phenomena, but with knowledge of chaos theory we can see patterns within these random phenomena. Spirituality, in its own way, also sees or perceives the world differently through eyes informed by holiness.

No one way of perception is absolute. As the Dalai Lama said, we need both. I would correct that to add: we need all.

If we apply that principle to our public life or the public sector, we can say that no one group, party, community organizer or other entity has absolute truth about the world and the needs of it. We need all peoples’ perceptions and visions. This is spirituality applied.

But, what do you think?


About tpurchasesnj

I am a Presbyterian minister. I am also a former military chaplain. It has always been important to me to examine the impact that religion has on the public sector. That is the purpose of this blog; to explore the ways that religion intersects the market place.
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