Science and The Sacred

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Item Code: NAE009
Author: Ravi Ravindra
Publisher: The Theosophical Publishing House
Edition: 2000
ISBN: 8170593816
Pages: 375
Cover: Paperback
Other Details 9.0 inch x 5.5 inch
Weight 590 gm
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Book Description

About the book

I personally find this book captivating and mesmerizing. It is very important because it speaks not only to the spiritual and psychological health of humankind, but to the survival of our planet. It is refreshing to read the opinions of a first-rate mind who is willing to unabashedly speak out about the primacy of spirit and to call into question many of the assumptions western scientists make about the world, most of which go unchallenged in our culture.’

‘This is a significant contribution.. .This book will certainly be of interest to the general public and all those concerned with the relationship between religion and science.’

‘Ravindra’s exposition of the remarkable similarities and profound differences between the pursuit of science and the pursuit of spirituality goes to the heart of the matter. Complex issues are presented with delightful clarity. This seminal text is bound to exert a profound influence on any future treatment of the subject.’

A significant contribution to the fields of philosophy of science, comparative religion and religious studies. A first-rate scholarly mind, who also has considerable spiritual sensitivity, deals with science without being intimidated by science.


About the Author

Ravi Ravindra was born in India and received a B.Sc. and a Master of Technology from the Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur. He went to Canada where he obtained a Master of Science and a Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Toronto and a Master of Arts in Philosophy from Dalhousie University.

He was a member of the Institute of Advanced Study, Princeton in 1977, and a Fellow of the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla in 1978 and in 1998. He was the Founding Director of the Threshold Award for integrative knowledge and Chairman of its international and interdisciplinary Selection Committees in 1979 and 1980.

He has lived in Canada since 1966. At present he is Professor and Chairman of Comparative Religion, Professor of International Development Studies and Adjunct Professor of Physics at Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia.



‘It is no exaggeration to say,’ remarked A.N. Whitehead, ‘that the future course of history depends on the decision of this generation as to the relations between religion and science.’ There is an increasing feeling among some people that an adequate view of life cannot be based solely on western science and technology which are basically reductionist in their attitudes and methods, and that eastern perspectives on nature, life, and Spirit may also contribute something of value to human welfare. It has been suggested that the various recent advances in the sciences themselves, in spite of the western cultural assumptions in their procedures and foundations, may be revealing a view of reality which is hospitable to traditional eastern spiritual perspectives. Also, in some quarters there is growing disillusion with the whole enterprise of science which is no longer regarded as being exclusively a force for the good.

The present global situation permits neither an isolation of the eastern and western values, nor the continuing military or economic domination of the West over the East. This situation has been brought about primarily by developments in science and technology, which are inevitably leading to the emergence of a planetary culture. If the intellectuals, both of the East and of the West, do not endeavour to forge a right synthesis of science and spirituality, of the Occident and the Orient, of modernity and tradition, this worldwide culture will be based on a very low common denominator, amounting essentially to a lack of ethical standards and of spiritual values. We can hardly overestimate the difficulty of communication across cultures and disciplines, and also the urgent necessity for some understanding across these boundaries to be reached. We hope that this book can be of some help in the development of such an understanding.

Initially, some are likely to think that science simply means knowledge, as it does etymologically, and that any reasonable and systematic study of phenomena is science. It is easy to forget that there are certain basic presuppositions of scientific inquiry in the modern (post-sixteenth century) world, essentially derived from a particular stage in the European and Christian philosophical and religious history, which set modern science apart not only from the sciences of China and India but also from the ancient European sciences. These presuppositions involve the very essence of what makes any culture distinctive from another, namely issues dealing with the place and meaning of human beings in the cosmos, the nature and aim of knowledge, the relevance and importance of external experiments and internal experiences as providing data and evidence, the value and significance of faith in the development of science, and the like. Since the East with all the immense variety derived from the ancient, vast and, at times, mighty cultures of Egypt, Persia, India, China, Korea, and Japan, and now comprising nearly three fifths of the human race — has several very different perspectives on all of these basic questions, it is not surprising that the eastern views of science are also very different from the western view, in spite of the fact there is something basically trans-national and trans cultural about science. In part, it is an acknowledgement of the importance of science and technology in the modem world that there are different perspectives on them, for it is only on relatively unimportant matters that people can easily agree.

It is not very easy to come to an agreement on what a phenomenon is, and certainly not on what is reasonable, and therefore on what science is. For example, in a recent conference, there was a question repeatedly raised by some eastern intellectuals as to whether a systematic internal investigation of various subtle energies in the human body is a scientific study. Is yoga a science? The hesitation of the western intellectuals in agreeing with this is understandable, because science is not just any reasonable and systematic study of phenomenon, as one may be tempted to think. It is a particular kind of study which is based on identifiable philosophical assumptions and world-views, and which requires external evidence independent of the level of spiritual development of the researcher and subject to repeatability, prediction and control.

These considerations and difficulties, involving the nature of reason and the specific rationality underlying scientific procedures, are germane to the extremely important question of the relationship of science and Spirit. Of course, it is even more difficult to clearly define what Spirit is. Some of the papers collected here address these questions. However, one remark may be made here: traditional knowledge asserts that Spirit is higher than and prior to body-mind, sometimes for simplicity called only body. Even though the various spiritual traditions may express it differently, they can all understand and endorse the essence of in the beginning was the Spirit.




  Editor's Note XI
I Science and religion in the modern world 1
1 Introduction 3
2 Ancient wisdom in a changing world 22
3 Science and mystical consiousness 34
4 Transcending opposites: The creative power of paradox 47
II Science and spiritual traditions 61
5 Yoga and knowledge 63
6 Perception in yoga and physics 76
7 Western science and technology and the Indian intellectual tradition 95
8 Modern science and spiritual traditions 112
9 Science and the sacred 126
III Science and reason are quite two things 143
10 Experience and experiment: A critique of modern scientific knowing 145
11 Blake's response to newton 175
12 In the beginning is the dance of love 183
13 To the dancer belongs the universe: Freedom and bondage of natrual law 213
IV Science as a spiritual path 241
14 Where are religion and science complementary 243
15 Science as a spiritual path 250
16 Galileo galilei 261
17 Johannes kepler 268
18 Isaac newton 273
19 Albert einstein 281
V Inner transformation and science 289
  A science of inner transfromation 291
  Ahimsa transformation and ecology 302
  Science and the mystery of silence 317
  Healing the soul: Truth love and god 329
  Acknowledgements 345
  Index 349

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