The Spiritual Scientist - 2

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In this context, it is interesting what Vivekananda said in the s:. By this Pranayama practice In many of you certain physical changes will come , …. Do not be afraid …. The whole body will have to be rearranged as it were. New channels for thought will be made in the brain, nerves which have not acted in your whole life will begin to work, and a whole new series of changes will come in the body itself.

Vivekananda, b[ 16 ]. Babies behave like little scientists, continually over-throwing theories that no longer fit evidence, testing their theory of the world against evidence around them Gopnik, [ 3 ]. These findings suggest that man is hard-wired for a scientific manner of acquiring knowledge irrespective of what he chooses to study.

The mental process that happens in the mind between intentional perception and the consequent knowledge involves scientific process.

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An obvious question is how to explain the wide variability in its manifestation in man. In this section, I propose a few concepts to account for and explain this variability based on common observation.

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In man, the innate science-skill manifests along two wide continua, the dimension of precision, and dimension of need and interest. In addition, the practice of science is influenced by a dimension of objective-subjective nature of phenomena. Besides, people vary widely on yet another dimension -- ability to make sense of what is observed and communicated. Each of these dimensions follows Gaussian distribution, just like all natural phenomena or any other human ability. The dimension of precision relates to an individual's ability to observe, reason, and verify in a consistently precise manner.

At one end of the continuum are the scientists and philosophers, and at the other are the others. But, the mind can be trained to acquire precise perceptual abilities. As Vivekananda says:. The Yogi has a science that manufactures an instrument for the study of his own mind, and that instrument is in the mind Vivekananda, c [ 17 ].

This science-skill has survival value and progressively evolves from generation to generation at both individual and social levels. For example, even an illiterate expert sailor uses his science-skill to learn and refine his navigational skills. For managing other areas of his life, he relies with faith on the knowledge of others, whom he believes as experts. Similarly, man's persistent enquiry about the cause of all existence might have contributed to evolution of religious and spiritual practices whose core tenets across cultures are similar.

As Vivekananda d[ 18 ] says:. For thousands of years such extraordinary mental phenomena have been studied, investigated, and generalised, … and the practical result is the science of Raja Yoga …waiting to be verified… Rajayoga does not deny facts which are difficult to explain.

Either spontaneous or introspectively generated subjective and intuitive experiences exemplify the subjective end.

Disciplines like psychology and psychotherapy deal with both types of events. In this respect, scientists of mind have to evolve the techniques of recording and analysing subjective data. What is important to note here is that objective and subjective sources of facts are complementary and not mutually exclusive.

For example, many discoveries in physical sciences originated from the subjective experiences of its originators. But, all may not be able to understand either the subjective experiences they have not experienced, or abstract subtler ideas.

1. Dr. Eben Alexander, Harvard Neuroscientist

For example, even in physical sciences, certain data or abstract concepts cannot be understood by all, as in the case of the emission- absorption bands in a spectrum of light, a concept which does not make any sense to the un-trained. Two events in my life narrated below exemplify this problem of understandability of subjective experiences.

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The first was on a morning in when my mother narrated to me her dream the previous night in which there were two large trees, and one of them fell down. She was apprehensive about the life of my cousin brother in the village, 40 km away. We two cousins were the only surviving boys among the male descendants of our grand-father. The same evening, a relative from the village brought the news of my cousin's unexpected death the previous night. The second event occurred one night in October, , when I was sound asleep in an Air Force barrack near Allahabad. I got up suddenly before midnight with a sense of vague dread, but could not recollect any dream.

This dread continued the whole night. The events reported above may not make any sense to those who have not had similar experiences. But, for those who have, they are comparable to objective data. There are abundant research reports on such phenomena in journals of Society for Psychical Research www. Bem [ 1 ] has recently reported proof of such phenomena. A curious fact of human life is the inseparableness of mind and subjective experiences, which cannot be observed by others as objective events.

Here, replicability of subjective experiences in different people at different times accords them the same degree of credibility as objective observation does in physical sciences. Therefore, the science of mind must necessarily include subjective experiential events as data within the framework of its scope and develop suitable technology to study and analyse them. The role of this replicative credibility as a component of scientific corroboration is described by Singh and Singh [ 13 ].

This faith is the basis of common man's faith in science. Moreover, scientific communication is impossible without the scientist's faith in it. Thus, science and faith are inter-dependent in the field of scientific knowledge. Hopefully, a similar body of experts in future may also accord equal status to subjective data. Currently, the study of mind is being practiced in two independent directions, as if the two bodies of knowledge are incompatible. The first concerns studies in conventional psychology whose research trend is heavily weighted towards brain and behaviour. The second concerns studies of such anomalous phenomena as ESP, telepathy, reincarnation-type cases, mind-matter interaction etc.

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Both these streams have kept their distance from yet another stream, the science of mind, perfected over millennia in India by practitioners of Rajayoga , as quoted earlier by Vivekananda d[ 18 ]. He also said:.


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All our knowledge is based upon experience. What we call inferential knowledge … has experience as its basis …. What is required now is to integrate all the facts, concepts, and techniques of investigation available in the three streams of knowledge mentioned above by cross-fertilisation. Moreover, concepts from Raja Yoga and related philosophy are capable of explaining the phenomena in the other two streams of psychology.


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A few examples are provided below in respect of mind-body relationship, energy like nature of mind, and the scientific nature of Rajayoga as a form of spiritual practice. With the exception of the immaterial Soul, the rest is all material, but the mind is much finer matter than the rest. Thus, between the intellect inside and the gross matter outside there is a difference in degree. Vivekananda, f [ 20 ]. That is, the mind and physical body are on a continuum of degree of subtleness, explaining psychosomatic relationships.

It is this Prana by which we breathe and by which the circulation of the blood goes on; it is this energy in the nerves and in the muscles, and the thought in the brain. All forces are different manifestations of this same Prana, as all matter is a different manifestation of the same Akasha Vivekananda, g [ 21 ].

This description is analogous to currently debated Big-Bang theory of Cosmology, with its empty space containing fields of energy, eventually evolving into observable material universe etc. For example, a review by Jahn et al. I have earlier Shamasundar, [ 12 ] described the field-like qualities of the human psyche. Rajayoga is a popular method of spiritual practice for achieving self-realisation by direct experience, through control of the mind.

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It is described in a simple and lucid manner by Vivekananda h[ 21 ]. I find that the pattern of essential facts and concepts that emerge from the above description has similar counterparts in the well-recorded biographical accounts of saints like Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, Paramahansa Yogananda, and Lord Buddha.


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This pattern also fits in well with the hypothetico-deductive model of science as formulated below, offering a paradigm for future consideration:. Religion serves as a textbook of spiritual science, and spirituality is the experimentation proper. Saints are spiritual scientists.