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S1E7: The Science of the Spirit

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Espiritualidad y Ciencia
Espiritualidad y Ciencia
S1E7: The Science of the Spirit
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So far, I have shared with you the results of part of the research, or rather let’s say “learnings” that I have accumulated from the point of view of science, trying to find a balance between two topics that have always fascinated me: formal science and the world of the intangible, what is within the mind and perhaps beyond matter.

But today we are going to talk about Spirituality, or rather, I’m going to share with you my vision of what spirituality is and how I think it is related to science. I do not hope to give absolute answers and of course, it is not necessary to clarify that unlike the previous topics in which there are theories formally accepted as the truth, in the topics of the soul there are no absolute truths.

The word Spirituality comes from the Latin spiritus which means soul, vigor, breath and the suffix “lidade” which means “related to”, that is to say that Spirituality means “what concerns the soul or spirit”. It can also be translated as “concerning the essence”, since as you know, the word spirit is also used to refer to alcoholic beverages that do not contain sugar and that have at least 20% alcohol. As a curious fact, drinks that have sugar and flavors are called liquor. Therefore, if the drink contains only essence of the plant from which it is extracted, then it is a spirit.

This is as far as we can go as the definition of Spirituality. Anything else that we add, becomes a personal appreciation or the definition created by some particular group. However, the definition or rather the semiology of the term is already anticipating something important: If it refers to the intangible, to the internal, it is spirituality. If it has added flavors, then it’s another liquor!

From here on then, I have to share my personal construct of what Spirituality is, based on my personal experience and above all what I consider is NOT spirituality. So I’m going to start there.

Spirituality V Religion

Religion is the term that is most commonly confused with spirituality. Religion, according to Wikipedia, is a sociocultural system of moral behaviors and practices, cosmogony, texts, sanctified places, prophecies, ethics, and organizations related to supernatural, transcendental or spiritual elements. Starting from this definition we can see that spirituality is usually a part of religion, but depending on each religion, it can be a more or less important or a more or less significant part in the context of the other elements of the religion.

Religions are very well structured and defined systems with behavioral guides, bodies of knowledge such as the Bible or the Koran, or a certain version of those books, and usually with a canonical hierarchy of community leaders. Religions usually promulgate that their main foundation is spirituality as a way to approach divinity, improve as a person or achieve happiness either here on Earth or in some type of existence beyond death. However, I consider that in most cases spirituality is not the center but rather the main attraction for the faithful, but other elements such as doctrine or the practice of certain behaviors are usually more important, as well as the prohibition of others.

This does not mean that spirituality cannot be found in a religion, in fact, one of the probable origins of religion, according to Saint Augustine is the Latin re-ligare which means “to rejoin”. Therefore, religion would be the tool with which you want to rejoin the human being with its essence. However, there is another probable origin of the term, coming from the Roman philosopher Cicero, who spoke of religio that would be translated as “obligation to some vows”. See how interesting that religion has these two aspects so highlighted, like the two sides of a coin: on the one hand, the connection with something sublime, but on the other hand, the fulfillment of a series of obligations towards an organization, even so. as an intermediary of the divinity.

Spirituality V Metaphysics

On the other hand we have metaphysics which is a branch of philosophy that examines the fundamental nature of reality and tries to connect mind and matter in some way. Metaphysics literally means “beyond the physical.” In a way, what I intend to do in this space is metaphysics since I deal with that connection between mind and matter. However, metaphysics also moves away from spirituality because its essence is very phenomenological, that is, it cares more about explaining the phenomena that we perceive in our mind and how these phenomena can be the evidence of a reality beyond the physical. I believe that spirituality is not really concerned with these issues because they have no relevance to the ultimate goal of finding individual and collective happiness. But hey I’m getting ahead of myself. By the end of this episode I will complete my definition of spirituality.

Metaphysics was, in a way, the origin of science, because it made us think about the phenomena we perceive and try to understand the nature of reality. The thing is that, as I narrated in another episode, this exercise was carried out by metaphysicists without serious means of experimentation and therefore it was limited by the capacity of our senses and our mind. However, this capacity should not be underestimated, even great discoveries such as Archimedean hydrostatics, Newton’s mechanics and Einstein’s theory of relativity started from existential musings that was later perfected thanks to mathematics to be finally confirmed by experimentation. In any case, the field of human behavior, the search for happiness or love, continue to fall outside the possibilities of mathematics and to a great extent, also of the scientific method, so both Science and metaphysics fall short of being considered spirituality.

There have been modern currents of metaphysics that promise to dedicate themselves fully to the development of the Self such as Connie Mendez’s 4 in 1 metaphysics, Gnosticism, which I will talk about in detail in another episode and more recently “The Secret” by Rhonda Byrne, which was in vogue over there between 2006 and 2010. However, despite the fact that these movements could be classified as metaphysical, I personally consider them part of the next group that I will talk about: Esotericism.

Esoterism

Like all previous definitions, there is no consensus on what exactly esotericism is, so it is generally used as a term that groups together ideas and movements that have arisen throughout history, specifically in Western societies. The word “esoteric” comes from the Greek esôterikós means “belonging to an inner circle.” This can give us an idea of ​​what it is all about. Esoteric cults are generally organized systems that are defined as concentric circles where there is an outer group of sympathizers and visitors, a more inner circle of students and apprentices, a still more inner circle of postulants, and a private circle of initiates. Many times they also have hierarchies or initiation scales that are earned over time. Loyalty and merits are often means to access higher or restricted levels of knowledge and power. This is the main difference between esotericism and metaphysics. Metaphysicians do not usually have that hierarchical organization or levels of knowledge. They limit themselves to sharing knowledge and through it they promote an “awakening”.

Some famous esoteric groups are Gnosticism, Hermeticism, Rosicrucianism, Kabbalah, Sufism, and various other movements that could be classified together as occultism. They have always existed and they will surely continue to exist as longs as humans survive, because they are super attractive. Not only do they offer a magical vision of the world but they also promise the deepest knowledge of reality, revelation of the secrets of nature and often supernatural powers such as, and I do not exaggerate, flying, crossing walls, teleportation, omnipresence, telepathy, material wealth, longevity, reincarnation, seeing the future and as a dessert, the possibility of having many sexual partners because of course, almost all esoteric cults are extremely misogynistic and sex-centered.

We are going to talk a lot about esotericism in this podcast because it is a topic that I knew quite closely, particularly Gnosticism, and I want to share a lot about it.

New Age

There is an additional classification of esoteric and metaphysical movements that have emerged in the last 50 years, more or less since the 70’s and that have tried to update the terminology and practices of classical esotericism, adding ideas, terms or concepts from science such as quantum terminology, oriental practices including yoga, tantra or zen, or mixing ancestral knowledge of sacred plants and rituals with nature. All of this is what is what we know as New Age.

Speaking of Ancestral knowledge, Ancestrality should also be mentioned as a form of religiosity or spirituality, that comes from the cosmogony of the indigenous peoples of America. It encloses their way of seeing reality, life, relationships, community, even things of daily life such as food, clothing, medicine and language.

There are many more classifications and also movements that maybe do not quite fit into a single classification, in fact, most internal knowledge systems belong to more than one category. There are ancestralist religions such as the Santo Daime of Brazil, metaphysical esoteric religions such as the Gnostic Church and new age metaphysic cults such as Scientology.

All these knowledge bodies have their merits and their dangers and in all of them one can find a path to spirituality, but none of them is spirituality.

Spirituality

Spirituality is something much simpler: it is the sense of connection with something greater than ourselves, which transcends mortal existence but does not necessarily look to understand what lies beyond. Spirituality starts from deep self-knowledge and includes the ability to transform ourselves, to grow as human beings and to give purpose to our existence. (Repeat)

No dogmas, no creeds, no gods or afterlife are required. You can be a spiritual person even having any belief or disbelief, as long as you feel a connection with something higher. This can be knowledge, human-kind, world peace. As long as it is based on objective and methodical observation of yourself and the ability to improve yourself to achieve positive change in your life and those around you.

And it is for this reason that science is as much or more powerful a vehicle for spirituality than the others of which we have spoken: Science is based on observation, experimentation, the search for truth and aims to improve human life and that of other beings. True spirituality is similar to science and differs from religion or esotericism in that there is no easy path, there are no shortcuts or magic recipes, but practical and consistent methods to develop our potential through hard work and perseverance.

This fact is the reason why some of the most inspiring and spiritual phrases I have ever heard came not from spiritual guides but from scientific professors.

When I was part of the Muisca community in South America, we repeated in our ceremonies: “We are children of the Stars, children of the cosmos and the central sun …” And Carl Sagan, the astrophysicist of whom I have already spoken in this podcast once said:

“The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our skin, were manufactured in the entrails of collapsing stars. We are made of stardust. “

Carl Sagan

In fact, on another occasion Carl Sagan specifically referred to spirituality by saying:

“The very act of understanding is a celebration of union, communion, albeit on a very modest scale, with the magnificence of Cosmos. Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a deep source of spirituality. “

Carl Sagan

Spirituality is also the life experience of any person who regardless of their beliefs, or as I said before, without any belief, strives to be a better person every day, to help those around them and to contribute making the world a little bit better every day.

The practice of spirituality leads us to understanding better and better the truth about ourselves, those around us, the society in which we live and the world around us. It is the way out of the matrix that I spoke about in the first episodes. But it is not a magical process, or well, we can choose to see it as the true magic of internal transmutation, what I mean is that it is not an automatic process nor can it be given from the outside in. No teacher, no holy book, no technique or holy plant can push you through the spiritual path. Teachers, methods and schools are rather like lamps that light the way, but in any case, true spirituality involves a conscious and constant individual effort.

Being spiritual comes naturally to some people who for whatever reason were born with the right genetic inheritance, grew up in a loving family, and were fortunate enough to learn at an early age to know and control their emotions. You may know someone like that in your family. I know a couple in mine!

Other people go through what is known as the dark night of the soul and face very hard tragedies that shake them and make them discover in spirituality as a way to heal themselves and rebuild their lives.

Most of us, however, are somewhere in between and fortunately have not had to endure real tragedies, but rather difficult situations, hopelessness and internal emptiness. This is my case and I found in spirituality my way of building a life with meaning, purpose and harmony.

But there are also many for whom spirituality is not the way and they are able to find their balance in contemplation, work, family, sports, art, nature or of course science.

The most important thing in any path you choose is that you fall in love with it, that you enjoy it and feel that every day it makes you a better person than the day before, that it takes you one step closer to the happiness you seek.

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