Where is the Line Between Science and Mysticism?
CHAPTER 5 The Science of Mysticism
Mystics understand the roots of the Tao, but not its branches; Scientists understand its branches but not its roots. Science does not need mysticism and mysticism does not need science. But man needs both. —Fritjof Capra, The Tao of Physics
It is not unusual for people to hear terminology like telepathy, precognition, or extrasensory perception (ESP) and recoil at the thought of such spooky, occult subject matter. Past notions of doomsday prophets spring to mind, along with images of charlatans, “gypsies,” and fortunetellers, and the legacies of witch-hunts, cults, and deceivers of the masses.
These archaic stereotypes fuel the onslaught of “scientific” researchers on their crusade to debunk these mysterious, unexplainable phenomena. While a true understanding of psychic phenomena has consistently eluded the traditional religious and scientific communities, recent advances in technology and physics are paving the way to a new metaphysical understanding of reality.
The paths of religion and science are converging. The gap between what we feel and what we can measure is narrowing by the decade. True science and true religion are destined only to reinforce each other. After all, truth is truth, whether we can quantify it with technological instruments or simply understand it through the most amazing and mysterious instrument we know of—the human body. But truth will always have its enemies. People will always have their reasons for not wanting to believe in life after death, or the possibility of interaction between our world and the world beyond. Some people fear the idea. Some people want to forget about it. Some people never want to think about it to begin with; others are more comfortable believing that the end is the end, with no consequences, no more suffering, just a quiet nothingness. Most people who don’t believe in an afterlife don’t want to believe in an afterlife.
Many fears and misunderstandings about the nature of the spiritual world prevent people from opening their minds to the reality that death is, in actuality, a joyful homecoming. Whether we believe in life after death or not, science is already speaking for itself on the matter. We already know that energy cannot be destroyed. It can only be transformed. In the simplest terms, nothing that has been created can ever cease to exist; it can only change.
And so we change. We emerge from microscopic interactions of cells and DNA, grow to the physical form we know in this world, and then shed that form, like a butterfly emerges from its chrysalis, to fly home. We were created before this life, and we will exist after this life. We, like all other things in creation, exist eternally, in tandem with the rhythm of the expanding and contracting universe, with the beating heart of our creator.
When we ponder the scientific mysteries of the universe, we must remind ourselves of the humble nature of our understanding. After all, it was only 500 years ago that we thought our solar system revolved around the earth. Imagine the burden of poor, tortured Copernicus, who had to break it to the world, and worse, the church, that humankind was not the center of the universe. And he had to do that despite the fact that the measurable phenomena of the previous ages went against his theory.
Every evening, century after century, human beings watched the sun and the planets take their place in the celestial parade across the heavens; the stars rose and set as if the entire production revolved around our little planet. But as we looked closer, using instruments more advanced than our eyes, and as we began to plot the mathematical charts, we learned that this parade was not all that it would seem. There were anomalies and retrograde motions that simply were not consistent with more than 1,500 years of indoctrinated science. Try telling that to the fourteenth century.
It’s no surprise that Copernicus was reluctant to go public with his theory. He discreetly circulated his ideas among his peers in 1514, but did not agree to print them publicly until 1540, in the last years of his life. The scientific community was in shock. This changed everything. This heralded a new world. To the fourteenth century, the idea that the earth wasn’t the center of the universe was revolutionary. But today we see that as common knowledge, often sneering at the naiveté of our ancestors.
The birth pains of a new idea have long been forgotten. So it has been throughout history. And so it is today, in our process of cultural evolution. Change brings revolution; revolutionary ideas become the norm. Ideas that may seem radical today will one day be a common part of life. Mysticism is no exception.
One day, the reality of life after death may be so commonplace that denying it would be much like someone today denying that the earth is a sphere.
But only time will tell. There is a scientific explanation for all mystical experience; we just don’t have it yet. Mystical experience abides by the same natural laws of the universe as our physical world. We process psychic information in specific parts of our brain, just as we process other external stimuli. Many psychics have subjected themselves to hours of laborious tests and analyses to help the scientific community better understand how this spiritual process unites with our physiology.
In many cultures, mysticism has evolved hand in hand with science. India, historically, has prided itself both on its spirituality and its scientific prowess. The Buddhist and Hindu religions were founded on mystical elements that have been a part of everyday living for thousands of years. Many of our own culture’s greatest scientists, including Johannes Kepler and Albert Einstein, had deep spiritual convictions. Their spirituality and their science reinforced each other; they did not negate each other.
During recent years we have seen a resurgence of this notion in the West, particularly with the advent of Einstein’s Theory of Relativity and the development of quantum physics. The profound and unfathomable nature of this new era in science marries well with many aspects of spirituality. The universe is no longer a three-dimensional model of ups and downs, objects and space, somethings and nothings; it is all interconnected, a vast, contradictory web in which everything is relative to perception, and time and space lose meaning as we know them.
Relativity has also made us aware of just how similar matter and energy are—simply two different forms of the same thing. This is most profoundly illustrated in the dynamics between the physical and spiritual worlds. Our bodies are composed of matter; our souls are composed of energy. This was once thought to be a duality; two opposites irreconcilably bound together. But, now, we see that it is otherwise. The matter of our bodies and the energy of our souls are, in fact, just different manifestations of a single underlying whole. Our body is the material extension, or densification, of our spirit.
On earth, matter is our reality. We need to touch, see, hear, smell, or taste it in order to accept it. In the spiritual dimensions, energy is the reality. Spirit friends, angels, departed loved ones, the Holy Spirit—all interact in terms of energy. However, these energies still have different vibrational levels, though none are as dense as that of the physical world. Naturally, the lower vibrating energies will be the ones that most naturally interface with us while we’re in our material bodies.
Since the material world is a manifestation of a denser expression of energy, purely spiritual beings must lower the frequency of their energy vibration in order to interact with us. Their natural energy frequency is so high that it is imperceptible to our senses. Animals operate at a slightly different vibrational level, often perceiving what we do not. The classic example of the dog whistle illustrates how limited our human faculties are; there is no denying that the sound is there, but we hear nothing. Naturally, we can conclude that, if we want to enhance our bandwidth of perception, we can do so by expanding our energy vibration to a level closer to the energy that we aim to perceive. This may sound ludicrous at first, but it is truly the most simple and beautiful of concepts. It is generally accepted that the closer an energy is to the divine source, the higher its vibration will be.
So, the spiritual hierarchy unfolds, with humanity somewhere in the middle of it all. With the divine source being the highest possible expression and vibration of energy, it only follows that, by embracing the qualities of God, we will become more like God. We all know these qualities: Love. Truth. Faith. Trust. Compassion. Forgiveness. More love.
The more we evolve and raise our spirit level with love and wisdom, the easier it is to connect with the spiritual realm. The spiritual world is all around us. Connecting to it is not a matter of location, or proximity; it does not exist in some distant, faraway place. It is everywhere; it is throughout our world, and it is beyond our world. It is in the space between our houses, our thoughts, our pasts, and our futures. We live in bodies that limit our perception to only those things within the proximity of our five senses; but by tapping into our “sixth sense,” we begin to experience the unseen world that exists in the dimensions that overlap our own.
This sixth sense, also called our intuition, is our link to these higher realms of perception. There is a part of our mind that continually interfaces with the higher planes of existence. In this regard, it is our higher self that has access to all of the information that we, in the limited perception of our physical bodies in linear time and space, do not. This is the part of us that just “knows” things, like when the phone will ring, or when someone is hurt, or when to double-check that the coffeepot is turned off.
From the simplest everyday matters to the deepest life situations, our intuition guides us in ways that are beyond reason and beyond measure. Our intuition is our best friend. It is the light in the darkness, the truth behind the lies, our protection in times of danger, our solace in times of sorrow. When we learn to trust our intuition, we gain truth, understanding, and a sense of safety and comfort. When we say that our intuition connects us with the higher spiritual planes, we mean that it also connects us to the love and divinity inherent in those planes. This inner guidance is always there, for everyone. Quietly it nudges us to heed its call, to make the right choices, to better ourselves, and to share the love with others.