Science and Spirituality

Traditionally science and spirituality have been at loggerheads. Science is concerned with man’s material success, spirituality, on the other hand, is interested in man’s inner realities. Is this conflict inevitable, or can the different arts of science and spirituality be complementary?

"Science has the capacity to show mankind the full development of the mental life. Spirituality has the capacity to show mankind the possibility and inevitability of the life beyond the mind, the supramental life."

Sri Chinmoy [1]

Science deals with the finite, material world; it examines the functioning of matter. Spirituality considers the inner reality, a consciousness that cannot be explained by mental reasoning. This creates a division, the scientific mind says, "only what can be proved on an outer level is meaningful." In response the ancient spirituality of yoga suggests; "the material world that we see is actually maya, an illusion."; the underlying reality of the universe, is what we feel in our silent meditation. On one level, science and spirituality deal in seemingly mutually exclusive methodologies

Science argues that progress comes from improvements in our material well-being. In this regard, science and technology have been of great help in developing better living standards for man. However, although science has helped increase material well-being in society, this has quite often, not led to increased happiness. Spirituality states that, what is important is not the accumulation of material comforts; real abiding happiness comes through living in harmony with our soul. Thus science and spirituality offer 2 very diverse approaches to the meaning of life and human happiness.

However, to expect the same thing from science and spirituality is perhaps a mistake. They offer different truths and explain different aspects of creation. There is no reason why science and spirituality cannot be harmonised.

Science creates material power. With the technology of science we can destroy the world, or we can harness its power for the betterment of humanity. If spirituality is the guiding force behind science, technology can be used to transcend the poverty and ignorance of man. If science is used only as an instrument of power, its results can lead to destruction and suffering.

Spirituality believes in the inner life, but spirituality does not involve just a retreat from the world. Real spirituality involves the manifestation of spiritual ideals. Both, the inner and outer world, are aspects of God’s creation. For its manifestation spirituality requires the help and knowledge of science. In this regard, science is an invaluable mechanism for the dissemination of spirituality’s message.

"Let us listen to the message of Matter through the voice of science. Let us listen to the message of the Spirit through the voice of spirituality. Finally, let us not forget that spirituality is the soul and science is the body."

Sri Chinmoy [2]

Article by Richard Pettinger

Oxford, Sri Chinmony Centre,


[1] Excerpt from Eastern Light For The Western Mind by Sri Chinmoy.

[2] Excerpt from Songs Of The Soul by Sri Chinmoy.

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