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Spiritual Phenomenon in the Light of Bio-technology : 1
| Introduction || Spiritual Phenomenon || Psycho-Neurology || Psycho-Surgery || Psycho-Bio-Chemistry || Genetic Engineering and Spiritual Phenomenon || Evolution and Bio-technology || Conclusion ||
I -- Introduction
If we trace the evolution of the interaction between modern science and religion, we shall find that at one time, may be up to two centuries ago, modern science was in its infancy and there was no organized branch called holistic science. Instead, there was religion-although a science in itself-based mainly on faith, only vaguely understood. Even this faith had a rational and experiential basis, which was not well understood. During this phase religion vehemently opposed modern science. Galileo was humiliated and Bruno was burnt alive.
But modern science maintained its relentless march and soon religion was on the defensive. Modern scientific discoveries shattered faith in heaven and hell-even disproved God. It was during this period of scientific ascendancy that Swami Vivekananda presented to the West Vedanta as the scientific religion.
We are now in the third phase when modern science, having realized its theoretical as well as applied limitations, and having appreciated the scientific nature of religion and its usefulness for the individual and society, has decided not only to shake hands with it-- now called holistic science-- but also try to understand it with its own tools of investigation.
The first to change stance was physics-atomic physics, or more precisely, sub-atomic and quantum physics. Its discoveries were so startling that we heard great modern physicists speak like mystics, and people started telling that religion and science are shaking hands. But physics is only one branch of modern science. Biology, physiology, and medical science are also material sciences. Even psychology is a science-science of the psyche or mind. And, it did not take long for honest material/modern scientists to realize that mysticism is also a science-science of the spirit. But there are other scientists also, who are not willing to assign the term 'science' to mysticism. Instead, they try to understand mysticism and spiritual phenomenon with the help of modern scientific methods, which they feel are the only authentic tools to understand everything happening in the world, internal or external.
Before we take up the study of spiritual experience in the light of modern science, especially neuro-sciences, we must clearly understand what spirituality means. Swami Vivekananda equates religion with realization: "If there is God, we must see Him; if there is a soul, we must realize it." So, then, religion is not merely faith, but realization-a real, mystic experience. But that is not all. Religion is also a 'being and becoming', and a transformation of personality.
But how are spiritual experience and transformation related, if at all? The great spiritual masters tell us that true spiritual experience cannot be obtained unless one passes through rigorous and prolonged spiritual discipline for many, many years. Without such a discipline, if the person obtains an experience, it will either be misunderstood or will not last long. Cases are on record of such "stumbling upon truth" without due preparation, and the result of such an experience had been beneficial as well as harmful to the individual and society.
Secondly, a genuine spiritual experience must transform the personality of the experiencer. Swami Vivekananda has categorically said that if a fool enters samadhi (super conscious experience) he comes out a saint. The real spiritual experience is so profound that it wholly transforms the character of the individual. And this aspect of religion is far more important than experience. Take for example the three descriptions of ideal states to be attained in the Bhagavad Gita: the sthitaprajna, the ideal bhakta, and the trigunatita. Although there is no mention of spiritual experience there, a detailed description of the moral and ethical characteristics of a person are described. Here is the description of an ideal bhakta, paraphrased by Swami Vivekananda:
"'He who hates none, who is the friend of all, who is merciful to all, who has nothing of his own, who is free from egoism, who is even-minded in pain and pleasure, who is forbearing, who is always satisfied, who works always in Yoga, whose self has become controlled, whose will is firm, whose mind and intellect are given up unto Me, such a one is My beloved Bhakta. From whom comes no disturbance, who cannot be disturbed by others, who is pure and active, who does not care whether good comes or evil, and never becomes miserable, who has given up all efforts for himself; who is the same in praise or in blame, with a silent, thoughtful mind, blessed with what little comes in his way, homeless, for the whole world is his home, and who is steady in his ideas, such a one is My beloved Bhakta.' Such alone become Yogis." [Complete works, Vol. 1, page 193.]
In Sri Ramakrishna we see a complete demonstration of the spiritual phenomenon. He often used to have samadhi and varied spiritual experiences. With this, he was wholly established in moral values like truth, unselfishness, renunciation, continence, non-possessiveness, purity, love and compassion, etc. This was not all. Even his nervous system had been transformed. He could not touch a coin, even in sleep; and would feel pain if his hand touched a woman. He would feel lost if he unconsciously or unknowingly possessed even a little packet of condiments! In short, we find all the three features of spiritual phenomenon-- experience, moral excellence and physiological transformation-- in Sri Ramakrishna. (For details of Sri Ramakrishna's physiology, please consult "Physiology of a Man of God" by Dr. C. S. Shah, The Vedanta Kesari, May, June and August 1999)
With this short introduction about what spiritual phenomenon actually is, let us now turn to psycho-neurology.
Continued Part 2...
Contributed By Swami Brahmeshananda
About the author: Swami Brahmeshananda is a senior monk of the Ramakrishna Mission, a world-wide religio-spiritual organization, founded on the teachings of Sri Ramakrishna, a man of God, by his chief disciple Swami Vivekananda who preached the philosophy of Vedanta all over the world. At present the Swami is working at Chandigarh, India, in the capacity of President/Secretary of Chandigarh Ashrama. He can be contacted at: E-Mail