by Anthony “Sensei Tony” Stultz, author of The Three Principles of Oneness: How Embodying the Cosmic Perspective Can Liberate Your Life.
“Dear Sensei Tony: Where Do Science and Spirituality Meet?”
I always like to start addressing a question by defining the terms that we are exploring. Let’s start with science. The word itself comes from the Latin for “knowing.” What kind of knowing is science? It is the gathering of knowledge about our incredible universe. It is a rational process that uses experimentation to prove or disprove information and hypotheses. Most humans living today are directly affected by and rely upon science whether they are aware of it or not. Anyone who uses a radio, a cellphone or goes to an emergency room in a medical crisis is relying on this particular knowledge of how things actually work.
What about the word spiritual? The etymology of spiritual is found in the root word “spirit,” which refers to our respiration or breath. Without being able to breathe we die. We might say it’s the ultimate reference point for being alive. So, we could understand the word spiritual as a reference to what ultimately matters in life. This is another kind of “knowing” but, in this case, it refers more to a kind of discernment, similar to the word “gnosis,” which we could say is an intimate awareness of what really matters most.
When we find the intersection between science and spirituality, it comes down to two forms of knowing. One is about the knowledge of how things work and the other is the wisdom of using that knowledge to realize what really matters. Science is the servant of spirit. Knowledge is the servant of wisdom. The problem is that folks often get this very wrong. We turn science into an idol, and idolatry is when we take something that is pointing to something beyond itself, an icon, and shut the bigger reference out. We box it up and think we have contained it, but this is a delusion, and this delusion leads to suffering. Science is information. It can be used for evil ends or it can be used to save a life. Wisdom is knowing the difference.
So, let us return science to its harmonious place, as a heuristic doorway into the wisdom of Oneness, as a language to describe this wondrous web of existence. We need to teach our scientists how to see the ways in which we can yield spiritual metaphors and practices from the universe. Likewise, we need to teach our clergy to learn to speak through the empirical language of science, not as a limit but as an inspiration for limitless imagination. When we do, science will give us the technology to make the lame walk and spirituality will give us the eyes to see how it all comes together and what really matters. And that will make a better life for you and me.