Science and Spirituality

science spirit

“Only when each one of us feels the truth, appreciates the truth, accepts the truth, and is ready to follow the truth, will it work. When someone puts himself outside of the truth in order to study the truth, he won’t know what to do when something happens to him.”

~Shunryu Suzuki Roshi

There is a terrific amount of fresh and exciting activity these days revolving around the increasing connections and bridges being forged and mutually fruitful exchanges being made between the latest developments in the scientific field (such as in quantum physics, neuroscience, psychology, and of course in various consciousness studies) and the world of spirituality.

Some have even suggested that the scientific method, if followed without premature bias, will result in the discovery of the Truth with a capital “T”. Indeed, a good case could be made that awakened beings such as the Buddha were actually very scientific in the process and development of their brilliant and inspiring insights, and left behind scientific means and methods to achieve self-knowledge, happiness, and freedom from suffering.

Certainly, intellectual knowledge (which is the domain and goal of science) can be incredibly useful for the evolutionary advancement and betterment of the species (although it is also capable of being employed for destructive purposes, as has been sadly proven again and again in human history).

However, can even the highest of human concepts ever amount to truly liberating knowledge? Furthermore, can liberation ever be the result of some skilfully applied method, which could in turn be duplicated under laboratory conditions and be universally applicable?


The great Masters who have addressed the matter are unanimous in claiming that genuine Liberation is beyond the causal process of strategic effort altogether. Nor can it be achieved through a contrived mindfulness, which only leads back to thoughts and concepts.

The nondual sage Ramana Maharshi indicated as much when he said: “All that you need do is find the origin of mind and abide there. Your efforts can extend only thus far. Then the Beyond will take care of itself. You are helpless there. No effort can reach it.

All the scientist (or any of us for that matter) can really do is to discover and then discard that which is not true. The mind can be employed to eliminate certain barriers to realization, but it cannot be used to grasp itself. Truth itself cannot be seen, because it is always what is seeing. Awareness can never be an object to itself. What is perceived cannot perceive.

Moreover, as the sage Nisargadata Maharaj noted: “Any knowledge of any kind that you think you have can only be in the consciousness. Whatever happens in consciousness is purely imaginary, a hallucination. How can the consciousness which came later give you any knowledge about that state which exists prior to consciousness’ arrival?”


Having some intellectual insight into truth is not at all the same as its direct realization. It is merely a faint and shadowy reflection, and not the great relief that comes with the genuine awakening that penetrates to the very cells. Relying on mind and intellect alone for an accurate model of reality (much less its living experience) is like trying to eat a painting of a cake on paper.

A good example of the coincidence of Science and Spirituality is demonstrated by the most recent findings/theories of quantum mechanics, which posit that there is no objective and independently existing universe outside of our observations and interpretations. Despite its apparent solidity, the universe is at heart a phantasm, a gigantic and splendidly detailed hologram. Moreover, if the apparent separateness of subatomic particles is illusory, it means that at a deeper level of reality all things in the universe are infinitely interconnected. In a holographic universe, even time and space need no longer be viewed as fundamentals.

bu 2

This revelation is consistent with the Buddhist teachings of Madhyamaka (Middle Way), which also propose that that there is no objective reality independent of our mentally fabricated interpretations on perception, or conceptual designations, and that all phenomena arise interdependently (Pratītyasamutpāda). The late philosopher Alan Watts made a good point when he noted in this regard:

“The final Buddhist vision of the world as the dharmadhatu– loosely translatable as the “field of related functions”- is not so different from the world view of Western science, except that the vision is experiential rather than theoretical. Poetically, it is symbolized as a vast network of jewels, like drops of dew upon a multi-dimensional spider web. Looking closely at any single jewel, one beholds in it the reflections of all the others…”

Certainly, we may find such information challenging, or refreshing, or even revelatory, but does such knowledge alone have the power to free the hearer or knower from their own self-fixations and emotional contractions, or their habitual confusion over personal identity? Indeed, does any conceptual proposition have the power to bring about the cessation of suffering that follows each one of us like our shadow, and liberate us into the direct realization of our true nature?

Nisargadatta’s own guru, Siddharameshwar Maharaj, made a very salient point about true awakening: “When you have actually seen that you are not, there is no necessity of a means and an end. You have seen that you are not existent. There is a confirmed realization from top to bottom in the whole body, that ‘you’ are not there.” In other words, if awakening is real, and not just the accumulation of more conceptual insights, it must impact the total being, the “whole body”.

This point was echoed by Nisargadatta when he noted: “What you hear must enter you like an arrow and hit something deep within you. There must be an internal reaction; without the reaction, what you hear won’t do you any good. You should know it when the arrow reaches its mark.”

Ecstasy of Saint Theresa

Any truth discovered as a result of intellectual analysis will likely still remain in the realm of knowledge, which is why many methods, whether scientific or spiritual, may bring one to the threshold, but none can carry one across. When does abstract knowledge become living wisdom? For that, something more is needed, something the intellect cannot comprehend, because it is that in which the intellect itself arises and dissolves.

As the great Kashmiri poetess Lalla once hinted: “Meditation and self-discipline are not all that’s needed, nor even a deep longing to go through the door of freedom. You may dissolve in contemplation, as salt does in water, but there’s something more that must happen.”

To be termed scientific, a method of inquiry must be based on empirical and measurable evidence that is subject to specific principles of reasoning. However, most of the world’s great wisdom systems are in agreement that “enlightenment” is intellectually incomprehensible; it cannot be understood or attained through conceptual knowledge, because it escapes all categories of thought, and so transcends all philosophical or scientific theories and propositions that are dependent on rational standardization, statistical analysis, and verifiable hypotheses.

beyond the mind

Simply stated, the human brain does not understand how to process memories outside of the physical world. Our brain constructs memories by associating information with that which it already knows. Since it typically does not know what it is like to be a brain within an alternate or expanded reality, it has nothing to which it can associate information coming from the spirit state, and therefore it does not know how to translate or interpret it into language accessible by the brain.

There is a way of bringing such information into our awareness, but it involves bypassing the human brain by resonating at the higher frequency ranges which access “Quantum Intelligence”. In order to do so, we must first let go of our fixated identification with human consciousness, with all of its filters and conceptual designations, which obstruct our intuitive connection with Spirit.

Going Beyond

There is certainly no doubt that a wise and appropriate integration of science and spirituality can lead to a better understanding of how human beings think and behave in both the micro as well as the macro context. However, true spirituality moves in the very opposite direction from science at a particularly critical juncture, in which relying solely on intellectual knowledge itself is seen and recognized to be an impediment, an obscuration holding the aspirant back from the necessary surrender of beliefs and concepts that is the prerequisite for any real spiritual breakthrough.

In other words, it is not by knowing, but by unknowing, that the ground is prepared for the emergence of transformative insights into one’s fundamental nature and identity. As opposed to the scientific paradigm of knowledge acquisition, the path of spiritual transcendence is more about releasing all mental fabrications, rather than perpetually gathering facts and constructing more concept models.

Again, Nisargadatta addresses this point: “While I am talking about knowledge that is beyond the phenomenal world, you are trying to understand through worldly concept and words. If you continue in the realm of intellect you will become entangled and lost in more and more concepts. It is not possible for you to acquire knowledge, you are knowledge. You are what you are seeking.”


Although with brain imaging techniques, science now has the tools to evaluate what happens in the brain during certain religious experiences, such as prayer and meditation, it cannot extrapolate that data and subsequently arrive at a prescription for removing cognitive and emotional fixations, much less the achievement of spiritual liberation. No fine tuning of neurotransmitters will ever result in awakening. For that, a special form of wisdom which directly realizes the essential emptiness of both self and phenomena must first arise, and that will not happen merely by manipulating brain scan data and attempting to form a hypotheses for the methodical acquisition of such insight.

With the benefit of the aforementioned brain imaging technology, scientists can now determine to some extent that so-called “spiritual emotions” and unity experiences occur when certain portions of the brain are either stimulated or else relaxed. However, although the body and the mind are interrelated, they are not the same. The mind is not the brain, and the brain is not the mind. The brain is physical, whereas the mind is formless. The mind is not contained in the brain, regardless of the speculative assertions of the scientific materialists. There is nothing within the body that can be identified as being “our mind”.

We are so accustomed to think of ourselves as bodies having consciousness that it has become a real challenge to accept consciousness as having bodies. Nevertheless, a key spiritual insight consists of the direct realization that bodily existence is but a state of mind, a movement in consciousness. True scientists of the mind turn attention back to its silent source. They practice being aware of being aware, seeking the source of consciousness, until they are able to withdraw beyond consciousness altogether. No instruments will take us there. In the process, even the sense of “us” and “there” are recognized as mere transparent conceptual designations. It all must be discarded — even the wish for truth — so that truth at last can reveal itself as the spontaneously evident presence of awake awareness.


Taking the inquiry to the next step, one might even argue that our purpose in incarnating in these human forms is not so much to find “Truth” (which is our actual nature, prior to, in the midst of, and after these temporary forms dissolve back to the elements). Rather, we are here more for the purposes of understanding and then transcending all the chronic poisons that tend to obscure our original innocence, such as greed, envy, hatred, pride, and ignorance. In the process, we learn how to “do the right thing” in every situation we encounter, and live a life of natural integrity. “The Truth” in its more universal or absolute sense is not really any of our business, as long as we are addicted to the false in the habitual way we live and relate in this realm.

In fact, it could be argued that the dense vibrational frequency at which we as humans resonate allows little if any possibility of expanding to the point where it can access the higher levels of consciousness. That is, as long as we are anchored to the human body-mind organism, we are simply not fitted for the appreciation or apprehension of the ever more subtle realities in the greater spectrum of consciousness beyond our current receptive capacity. A device with a hundred volt capacity simply cannot handle a million. It would incinerate the device. This is also why many near death experiencers report the sensation of “dumbing down”, upon return to the physical bio-vehicle.

In any case, there is no question that progress in our scientific understanding of ourselves and the world we inhabit shows enduring promise. The rapid advancements we are witnessing today in the evolution of the quality of our shared information data base can help speed our emergence as a species from the superstition-shrouded dark ages (which is sadly still entrenched in many parts of the world, particularly as a result of fundamentalist religious provincialism).

sticks and stones

All knowledge is welcomed, but we also must recognize that knowledge does not equal wisdom, although the two can certainly go hand in hand. Indeed, there may come a time in our group evolution where any distinction between science and spirituality will have long ago been rendered obsolete in a new golden Age of Enlightenment, and what remains will only be the conscious process of Recognition that is equally accessible to all.


“Of all the hard facts of science, I know of none more solid and fundamental than the fact that if you inhibit thought (and persevere) you come at length to a region of consciousness below or behind thought, and different from ordinary thought in its nature and character — a consciousness of quasi-universal quality, and a realization of an altogether vaster self than that to which we are accustomed. And since the ordinary consciousness, with which we are concerned in ordinary life, is before all things founded on the little local self, and is in fact self-conscious in the little local sense, it follows that to pass out of that is to die to the ordinary self and the ordinary world.

It is to die in the ordinary sense, but in another sense, it is to wake up and find that the “I,” one’s real, most intimate self, pervades the universe and all other beings — that the mountains and the sea and the stars are a part of one’s body and that one’s soul is in touch with the souls of all creatures…..

So great, so splendid is this experience, that it may be said that all minor questions and doubts fall away in face of it; and certain it is that in thousands and thousands of cases the fact of its having come even once to a man has completely evolutionized his subsequent life and outlook on the world.”

~Edward Carpenter
The Drama of Love & Death, 1912


See also:

About Bob OHearn

My name is Bob O'Hearn, and I live with my Beloved Mate, Mazie, in the foothills of the Northern California Sierra Nevada Mountains. I have a number of blog sites you may enjoy: Photo Gallery: Essays on the Conscious Process: Compiled Poetry and Prosetry: Verses and ramblings on life as it is: Verses and Variations on the Investigation of Mind Nature: Verses on the Play of Consciousness: Poetic Fiction, Fable, Fantabulation: Poems of the Mountain Hermit: Love Poems from The Book of Yes: Autobiographical Fragments, Memories, Stories, and Tall Tales: Ancient and modern spiritual texts, creatively refreshed: Writings from selected Western Mystics, Classic and Modern: Wisdom of a Spirit Guide: Thank You!
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53 Responses to Science and Spirituality

  1. Bob OHearn says:

    Manifesto for a Post-Materialist Science:

    We believe that the sciences are being constricted by dogmatism, and in particular by a subservience to the philosophy of materialism, the doctrine that matter is the only reality and that the mind is nothing but the physical activity of the brain. We believe that the sciences would be more scientific if they were free to investigate the natural world in an un-dogmatic spirit, following the scientific methods of data collecting, hypothesis testing and critical discussion.

    The purpose of this website is to act as a portal for open-minded scientific investigations that go beyond the dogmas that dominate so much of science today. The main areas covered include consciousness studies, alternative energy sources, integrative medicine and healing, post-materialist approaches to science and new aspects of cosmology, physics, chemistry and biology. The website includes selected videos, books, publications, journals, and links to the websites of open-minded scientific researchers and organisations. This website also hosts blogs on open questions in science.

  2. marcel says:

    Written something similar as as young chap (sparrow) but local folks perceived it as “rebellious”

    In any way whenever whomever (how enlightening and all) spews something up I always replied as a kid with “bedankt voor de bandruis” which in English would be something as “thanks for the banth distortion?” and had a good laugh [a tango or solo], yet appreciated any offering to light a match always.

  3. marcel says:

    In ‘retro’-spect it’s funny to observe, just my foolishness (conditioned mental pictures) made it seem [to believe] otherwise. Seems to be part of the game/program to create complex mental obstacles to come back to the natural obvious, part of the play I reckon, and any other way there wouldn’t be the appreciation of the bliss of “coming home” the recognition of [i]this[/i], no becoming or unbecoming, just perfectly at peace,

  4. Bob OHearn says:

    Yes, the game, the play . . . “During the waking hours you are, as if, on the stage, playing a role, but what are you when the play is over? You are what you are; what you were before the play began you remain when it is over. Look at yourself as performing on the stage of life. The performance may be splendid or clumsy, but you are not in it, you merely watch it; with interest and sympathy, of course, but keeping in mind all the time that you are only watching while the play — life — is going on.”

    ~Sri Nisargadatta

  5. Bob OHearn says:

    “The best method for humans to investigate the true nature of the universe is by studying consciousness itself. It is the fault of the system in which human society and progressive development is governed and funded. Scientists and researchers are expected to produce physical measurable and applicable results to perpetuate further funding for their studies. Studying consciousness in the way which is required to significantly advance yourself as a species is not adequately funded or supported because there is no immediate benefit or financial gain for produced results, which are not easily defined, proven or contained into a marketable product or service. The motives and criteria for funding research needs to change, so too the approaches which are often dismissed, criticized and avoided need to be pursued. There are many individuals outside of the field of science who have mastered miraculous feats and abilities of consciousness, of creation and of perception; these individuals are simply ignored by the greater scientific community. This has to change.”


  6. Bob OHearn says:

    “The day science begins to study non-physical phenomena, it will make more progress in one decade than in all the previous centuries of its existence.”

    ~ Nikola Tesla

  7. Bob OHearn says:

    “Anything you experience based on knowledge is an illusion.”

    ~ U. G. Krishnamurti

  8. Bob OHearn says:

    “Looking for consciousness in the brain is like looking in the radio for the announcer.”

    – Nasseim Haramein

  9. Bob OHearn says:

    If Jane Goodall could change one thing about the way science is done, this is probably it.

    In a new video from NOVA’s web series “The Secret Life of Scientists and Engineers,” the celebrated primatologist recalls how, early in her career (see above), other researchers criticized her for referring to her animal subjects as “he” or “she,” as well as for giving names to the chimpanzees she studied.

    “I was told you have to give them numbers because you have to be objective as a scientist,” Goodall says in the video, “and you mustn’t empathize with your subject. And I feel this is where science has gone wrong. To have this coldness, this lack of empathy, has enabled some scientists to do unethical behavior.”

    She says empathy can bring a better understanding of animal — and human — behavior, adding, “I think only when our clever brain and our human heart work together in harmony can we achieve our full potential.”

  10. Bob OHearn says:

    Materialism is the paradigm of scientific philosophy under which the vast majority of contemporary scientists operate. It is essentially the belief that everything can be explained in physical terms, and that there is no need to explore anything further.

    Why are most scientists operating within this doctrine when science has already demonstrated many examples of non-physical phenomena?

  11. Bob OHearn says:

    “I regard consciousness as fundamental. I regard matter as derivative from consciousness. We cannot get behind consciousness. Everything that we talk about, everything that we regard as existing, postulates consciousness.”

    “Science cannot solve the ultimate mystery of nature. And that is because, in the last analysis, we ourselves are a part of the mystery that we are trying to solve.”

    “Science…means unresting endeavor and continually progressing development toward an aim which the poetic intuition may apprehend, but the intellect can never fully grasp.”

    ~ Max Planck

  12. marcelvuijst says:

    Thanks for the lovely Niels Bohr quote.

    “All the prophets, creeds, religions, etc. are not real, they are only the play of this consciousness.”
    ~Sri Niz

    Knowing is granted in my Light, but what you believe to know is not that, the death of your knowledge, the end of your desires and fears, there I truly am…shining

    • Bob OHearn says:

      Like that, sounds like this, from Meister Eckhart:

      “God is in himself so exalted that he is beyond the reach of either knowledge or desire. Desire extends further than anything that can be grasped by knowledge. It is wider than the whole of the heavens, than all angels, even though everything that lives on earth is contained in the spark of a single angel. Desire is wide, immeasurably so. But nothing that knowledge can grasp or desire can want, is God. Where knowledge and desire end, there is darkness, and there God shines.”

      “Only in silence and in darkness can it be heard and seen.”

      ~Sri Nisargadatta

  13. marcelvuijst says:

    Beautifullly expressed, thanks for sharing!

  14. Bob OHearn says:

    Great choices!

    Love & Blessings!

  15. Bob OHearn says:

    Beyond Physicalism: Toward Reconciliation of Science and Spirituality – February 19, 2015
    by Edward F. Kelly professor of research Division of Perceptual Studies University of Virginia and co-editor of Beyond Physicalism: Toward Reconciliation of Science and Spirituality

    The rise of modern science has brought with it increasing acceptance among intellectual elites of a worldview that conflicts sharply both with everyday human experience and with beliefs widely shared among the world’s great cultural traditions. Most contemporary scientists and philosophers believe that reality is at bottom purely physical, and that human beings are nothing more than extremely complicated biological machines. On such views our everyday experiences of conscious decision-making, free will, and the self are illusory by-products of the grinding of our neural machinery. It follows that mind and personality are necessarily extinguished at death, and that there exists no deeper transpersonal or spiritual reality of any sort.

    Beyond Physicalism is the product of an unusual fellowship of scientists and humanities scholars who dispute these views. In their previous publication, Irreducible Mind, they argued that physicalism cannot accommodate various well-evidenced empirical phenomena including paranormal or psi phenomena, postmortem survival, and mystical experiences. In this new theory-oriented companion volume they go further by attempting to understand how the world must be constituted in order that these “rogue” phenomena can occur. Drawing upon empirical science, metaphysical philosophy, and the mystical traditions, the authors work toward an improved “big picture” of the general character of reality, one which strongly overlaps territory traditionally occupied by the world’s institutional religions, and which attempts to reconcile science and spirituality by finding a middle path between the polarized fundamentalisms, religious and scientific, that have dominated recent public discourse.


    Beyond Physicalism heralds an impending shift of epic proportion in humankind’s efforts to understand the nature of reality, and potentially the most significant advance in the recent history of the mind-body debate. This landmark book provides an unprecedented synthesis of science, psychology, philosophy and theology, approaching the deeper truth of all existence. (Eben Alexander III, MD, Neurosurgeon and author of Proof of Heaven and The Map of Heaven)

    Finally, a book that conclusively demonstrates that it is possible, in fact preferable, to reconcile genuine science with spirituality. Drawing upon a massive amount of compelling empirical data, and weaving together several interrelated and extremely thoughtful theoretical perspectives offered by a range of highly respected scientists and humanists, Beyond Physicalism articulates a cogent and compelling alternative to the distorted “all or nothing” dichotomy between a narrow-minded religious fundamentalism and an equally dogmatic and rigid scientistic mentality. (G. William Barnard, professor of Religious Studies, Southern Methodist University)

    Beyond Physicalism lays several stones for the foundation of a new world-view. No book has gone further toward reconciling science and spirituality. (William Eastman, former director of SUNY Press)

    In this wonderful sequel to Irreducible Mind: Toward a Psychology for the 21st Century, “rogue” phenomena that are the essential facts denied by psychology too long mired in varieties of physicalism are rightly accepted as empirical fact. Abandoning neither the truths of science nor those of religion, evolutionary panentheism provides the tertium quid that that can steer us safely home. This is a must read book. Marvelous!
    (Ralph W. Hood Jr., professor of Psychology, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and former editor, Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion)

    Dogmatic materialists, sometimes called skeptics, claim that to accept the possibility of any non-physical force or entity requires that we sacrifice all of modern science. No matter the apparent evidence, we are told, the future of scientific progress and rationality are at stake. Creationism and the flat Earth lie in wait. Beyond Physicalism, however, presents both solid empirical evidence and fully rational theoretical views demonstrating that the materialist’s dichotomy is false. This book offers a third way, reconciling science and spirituality without diluting either. Robust and evidence-based, this work by highly respected scholars and scientists demolishes orthodoxies right and left, allowing the reader a way forward past the Scylla and Charybdis of religious and scientific fundamentalisms. (David J. Hufford, professor emeritus, Penn State College of Medicine.)

    Beyond Physicalism” is much more than a book. It is the intimate expression of a decade and a half of critical but collegial conversations between established scientists and professional humanists around some of the most important but still unsettled questions facing humanity: those involving the nature of mind or consciousness—that is, the nature of us. (Jeffrey J. Kripal, J. Newton Rayzor Professor of Religious Studies, Rice University)

    Beyond Physicalism is an eye-opening (perhaps one might be permitted to say “soulful”) collection of essays by disciplined researchers who seek to develop a credible conception of the spiritual nature of human beings. The authors are hard-nosed scientists and humanistic scholars who believe it is possible to reject the “old man in the sky pulling the strings” version of theism without embracing dispiriting contemporary versions of materialism. (Richard A. Shweder, Harold Higgins Swift Distinguished Service Professor, Department of Comparative Human Development, University of Chicago)

    Some of the philosophical problems that occupied William James longest and deepest, along with solutions he thought most promising, have literally been written out of history. This volume presents the first serious collective attempt since James’ death to revive his project. Its chapters are characterized by an intellectual ethos reminiscent of the ‘father’ of modern American psychology himself: sympathetic open-mindedness made fruitful through disciplined, calm and penetrating rigor. (Andreas Sommer, junior research fellow in history and philosophy of science, Churchill College, University of Cambridge)

    If you are personally content thinking of yourself as a meaningless byproduct of accidental chemical reactions, what I’ve called the Total Materialism view of reality, and think you’re superior for being so “scientific,” you don’t want to read this book, not that you can actually freely make a choice, because it will upset you and you’ll need some tranquilizing drugs to calm your agitated brain. But if you believe facts are more important than currently fashionable scientistic theories and wonder about the spiritual side of human nature, you will find this volume fascinating! (Charles T. Tart, professor emeritus of psychology, University of California, Davis)

    I see this book as a landmark publication that may help to catalyze two urgently needed, radical transformations in modern civilization. The first is the first true revolution in the mind sciences, which is bound to have profound repercussions all the way down to the foundations of physics. The second is a renaissance in the world’s great contemplative traditions. Both science and spirituality need to return to a spirit of open-minded, radical empiricism, casting off the shackles of dogmatic metaphysics, whether materialistic or religious. (B. Alan Wallace, physicist and Buddhism scholar, president of the Santa Barbara Institute for Consciousness Studies)

    When I first encountered Kelly and colleagues’ first book, Irreducible Mind, I enthusiastically read all 800 pages, excited to see a book that so carefully documented the research that supports the notion that consciousness is not simply a product of neural activity. When I completed the book, I wanted to know more. I wanted to know details of a theoretical framework they had alluded to, which might include both mystical experiences and scientific understanding of consciousness within one “big picture.” Their second book, Beyond Physicalism, brings together key scholars in the areas of quantum physics, psychology, Asian philosophy and mysticism to thoughtfully explore ways that mystical and psi experiences can fit into an expanded scientific worldview. (Marjorie Woollacott, professor, Department of Human Physiology and Institute of Neuroscience, University of Oregon)

  16. Bob OHearn says:

    “Broadly speaking, although there are some differences, I think Buddhist philosophy and Quantum Mechanics can shake hands on their view of the world. We can see in these great examples the fruits of human thinking. Regardless of the admiration we feel for these great thinkers, we should not lose sight of the fact that they were human beings just as we are.” – Dalai Lama

  17. Bob OHearn says:

    “Both science and religion have their own specific uses, but one without the other can lead to less than desirable results, to say nothing of painting an incomplete picture of reality.”

  18. Bob OHearn says:

    According to Buddhist thought, however, Western science tells only half of the story. Buddhism and science both agree that although sights, sounds, and tactile sensations of the world around us seem to exist out there, they have no existence apart from our perceptual awareness of them. But Buddhism adds that mass, energy, space, and time as they are conceived by the human mind also have no existence apart from our conceptual awareness of them—no more than our dreams at night. All appearances exist only relative to the mind that experiences them, and all mental states arise relative to experienced phenomena. We are living in a participatory universe, with no absolute subjects or objects.

    ~B. Allan Wallace, Awakening to the Dream

  19. Bob OHearn says:

    “The real problem of humanity is the following: we have paleolithic emotions; medieval institutions; and god-like technology. And it is terrifically dangerous, and it is now approaching a point of crisis overall.”

    ~E.O. Wilson

  20. Bob OHearn says:

    Given the mounting evidence that our current mechanistic worldview has limits  – evidence from places as varied as quantum physics, the placebo effect, the challenges of accounting for consciousness, quantum biology, the new psychedelic research, gaps in evolutionary theory and studies on precognition and out-of-body experiences – I believe science will soon engage in a fundamental ‘paradigm shift’ (to quote Thomas Kuhn). Anomalies to the materialist / mechanistic worldview will force us to re-evaluate the foundational metaphors upon which science has been premised. Newton’s clock will be replaced by something more… alive.

  21. Bob OHearn says:

    n a recent interview on Waking Times aired on The People’s Voice Network, Dr. Eben Alexander, Harvard Neurosurgeon presents compelling scientific research in the field of consciousness that examines the unfolding reality that the brain does NOT create consciousness. Misleading concepts that focus on reductive materialism have kept us in the dark about the true nature of the human soul and its integral part in our evolution as spiritual beings.

    “The old paradigm of birth to death represents an outdated concept that is woefully inadequate in defining the unfolding reality of expanded awareness,” he stated in the interview with Waking Times. “Materialist science is at the end of its days as most scientists are changing their views. The old concepts are soon to be relegated to the same dust bin as ‘the earth is flat’ as we develop a more mature understanding and transcend old beliefs.”

  22. Bob OHearn says:

    In the West, we have a very strong tradition for doing science. In fact, the tradition has been so firmly established as our fundamental worldview, that it is often overlooked as being exactly that: One of many possible worldviews. But the scientific way of thinking wasn’t always around. Greek philosophers like Aristotle (384-322 BC.) did some of the basic groundwork, but it really wasn’t until the time of philosopher-scientists like Francis Bacon (1561-1626) that what became known as empirical science, later to turn into physics and chemistry was founded. When the 18th century French Enlightenment conclusively rejected religion as the basis for human life, Bacon’s empirical way of looking at things took its place.

    These days, the avant-garde of western thinking is slowly starting to realize that that just might have been a wrong move: Scientific terminology and scientific thinking doesn’t cut it, and we desperately need something else, or at least something more. Getting rid of dogmatic religion, in the Judaeo-Christian sense of the word, might have been the right thing to do, but we still need something, that recognizes man’s spiritual dimension. We need spirituality, if we want to fully understand the so-called human experience.

  23. Bob OHearn says:

    “Is consciousness generated in and confined to the brain? Or does it extend in some way beyond the brain—and could it even be a fundamental feature of the cosmos? Until a few years ago nobody other than deeply spiritual or religious people would have subscribed to a concept of consciousness other than what I call the “turbine theory”: the theory that the brain generates consciousness, and the consciousness it generates is confined to the brain. Today there is more and more evidence that consciousness is not confined to the brain but is “nonlocal,” embracing minds and events beyond the brain and the body. And there is an insight dawning among avant-garde scientists, thinkers and spiritual people that consciousness may be not only nonlocal, but cosmic.”

    Ervin Lazlo

  24. Bob OHearn says:

    “The systems view of life, not surprisingly, includes a new systemic understanding of evolution. Rather than seeing evolution as the result of only random mutations and natural selection, we are beginning to recognize the creative unfolding of life in forms of ever-increasing diversity and complexity as an inherent characteristic of all living systems. Although mutation and natural selection are still acknowledged as important aspects of biological evolution, the central focus is on creativity, on life’s constant reaching out into novelty.”

    ~Dr. Fritjof Capra

  25. Bob OHearn says:

    “It’s truly amazing, especially in the fields of neuroscience and quantum physics, just how much knowledge our ancient cultures had regarding the true nature of reality. In many cases, modern day science is in fact catching up to this ancient knowledge.”

  26. Bob OHearn says:

    It is a mistake to confuse the theories of modern physics with Buddhist theories of emptiness and phenomena.

    Even if an idea of emptiness as the vacuous absence of phenomena is accepted by non-spiritual scientists, the great, empty space of their own limitless mind, which is the sky of wisdom, is not acknowledged.

    Scientific theories of relative phenomena are totally different from the Hīnayāna and Mahāyāna Buddhist teachings on the interdependence of phenomena. The result of nonspiritual scientific theory is the creation of substantial phenomena. The intention of Buddhism is to create substanceless light phenomena.

    Also, no parallel can be made between nonspiritual scientific explanations of phenomena, which come from dualistic mind, and the Vajrayāna Buddhist teachings of the clear appearance of nonsubstantial appearance, which come from wisdom mind. From the point of view of nihilist science, fundamental, original mind is completely ignored as the source of phenomena, and no connection is even considered between phenomena and wisdom mind.

    If we examine objective phenomena, we will find that its source is subjective ego. If we examine subjective ego, we will find that the source of objective phenomena does not exist because the subject does not exist as a substantial reality.

    If we can recognize that phenomena never come to us, but only from us, the blossoming of fundamental inner pure Buddha phenomena becomes indistinguishable from outer pure Buddha phenomena, through practice. Then, all phenomena can be transformed into the appearance of enlightenment, abiding in the awareness of immeasurable, indivisible, nongrasping phenomena.

    Whenever a fundamental, imperceptible particle of phenomena is pursued by nonspiritual science to find the source of phenomena, or even if an ultimate attribute of mind is pursued with grasping in spiritual practice, it eventually results in the maniacal frenzy of this world.

    Dungse Thinley Norbu Rinpoche – White Sail

  27. Bob OHearn says:

    Dr. Marjorie Woollacott discusses and sign her new book Infinite Awareness: The Awakening of a Scientific Mind (Rowman & Littlefield; Oct 15, 2015).

    As a neuroscientist, Marjorie Woollacott had no doubts that the brain was a purely physical entity controlled by chemical and electrical pulses. When she experimented with meditation for the first time, however, her view changed. Woollacott’s journey through years of mediation has made her question the reality she built her career upon and has forced her to ask what human consciousness really is. Infinite Awareness pairs Woollacott’s research as a neuroscientist with her self-revelations about the mind’s spiritual power. Between the scientific and spiritual worlds, she breaks open the definition of human consciousness to investigate the existence of a non-physical mind.

    Marjorie Hines Woollacott, PhD, has been a neuroscience professor and director of the Motor Control Lab in the Institute for Neuroscience at the University of Oregon for more than three decades and a meditator for almost four. She has ongoing grants from National Institutes of Health to study balance and falls in older adults and to study balance and control problems in children with Cerebral Palsy and Down Syndrome.

    More information available at

  28. Bob OHearn says:

    Last year on April 5, 2016, at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, the sold out 17th Annual Isaac Asimov Memorial Debate took place before a packed audience moderated by astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson. The question debated before the audience was: “Is this universe a simulation?” — meaning computer simulation. Some physicists and mathematicians say the answer is more likely to be yes, than not, and that eventually the “simulated universe theory” will be proved.

  29. Bob OHearn says:

    Robert Wright has written a book that many people far beyond the Buddhist crowd want to get their hands on. Released in August 2017, Why Buddhism is True: The Science and Philosophy of Meditation and Enlightenment quickly became a New York Times bestseller and captured the attention of the mainstream media as well as “secular” readers interested in how meditation might help them interact with the modern world.

    In this episode of Tricycle Talks, Tricycle’s web editor, Wendy Joan Biddlecombe, speaks with Wright about how evolutionary psychology supports what the Buddha taught us about suffering and not being satisfied in the present moment. In the talk, Wright explains why we haven’t evolved past difficult emotions such as anxiety and how mindfulness meditation can provide a way to work through—and maybe even free us from—them.

    Wright also speaks about how the Buddhist ideas of interconnectedness and not-self can help us navigate a time of “fake news” and divisiveness.

  30. Bob OHearn says:

    ‘For a long time we have been accustomed to the compartmentalization of religion and science as if they were two quite different and basically unrelated ways of seeing the world. I do not believe that this state of doublethink can last. It must eventually be replaced by a view of the world which is neither religious nor scientific but simply our view of the world. More exactly, it must become a view of the world in which the reports of science and religion are as concordant as those of the eyes and the ears.’
    ~ Alan Watts

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