There is no doubt that a primary motivation for spiritual living is to
obtain a happier more fulfilling life. Certainly,
there are other motivations as well, such as an
inexplicable internal conviction and desire, a need
for fulfillment, a reason to exist, power, doing as
your told, a fear of being alone...the list goes on.
Each person's story is different and unique. And
each story is essentially tied to the lessons -
scientific truths even - we all
need to learn in this lifetime. Even if you don't
believe in a grand purpose, so to speak, we can
probably all at least agree that life is full of
lessons, discovery and rediscovery. Touch that and
you will get burned. Drink that and you will get
sick. Harbor that thought and you will be unhappy.
We all need to have something to live for. We need values, faith, religion, and spirituality. Whether you're living for streets paved with gold, eternal bliss, sainthood or absolute enlightenment, to live for something that impels us to be smarter, wiser, happier people, is an impulse that unites us all. And let's face it - there are many ways of going about this. It is the diversity of "paths to happiness and enlightenment" that makes it possible for each of us to find our own Way - suited to our unique experiences and faculties.
So while sometimes "gulfs" between the religious, scientific and spiritual are promulgated, the core essence of these "schools of thought" is one and the same. Brought together as three points of a triangle, they combine and lead down the path of knowledge, peace, happiness, salvation, wisdom, and ultimately, enlightenment.
These days, an increasing number of people are merging, religion, spirituality and science. Mystical branches of various religions, such as the Islamic Sufis, Christian Gnostics, and the Kaballah of Judaism are growing in numbers, while an increasing number of people are now practicing Christian spirituality, Native American spirituality, scientific and spiritual teachings of Rosicrucianism, Scientology/Dianetics, Masonry and other, often misunderstood, teachings like Wicca, Zoroastrianism, and Astrology, just to name a few.
Spirituality, Religion and Science
So what about this
thing called science, which is oftentimes placed in
contradiction with religion and spirituality? Well,
these days, science is actually doing more to verify the
"mysteries" of faith and spirituality.
Let's start off with an example, shall we? You may or may not have heard about Quantum Physics - the burgeoning field of science that is essentially the study of the relationship between energy and matter, as well as "reality". Although there are critics of the movie "What the Bleep do we Know?" (there are critics of everything for that matter), many people and notable scientists will agree this movie offers an easy-to-grasp introduction to the higher teachings of quantum physics and its relationship to consciousness, thoughts and spirituality.
Let's take a look at some of the discoveries resulting from the study of quantum physics and consciousness. The biggie is this:
Thoughts are things.
Scientists know that cells react the same way in our
bodies when actually going through an experience, as
they do when recalling that experience from memory. The
cell knows absolutely no difference between living the
actual experience and thinking about the experience
(albeit the degree of reality will vary depending on the
intensity of the memory and focus of thought). Scientists
now see that certain
thoughts and experiences produce different chemicals in
the body, which in turn, are "absorbed" by cells - brain
cells included. Taking a closer look at this process,
scientists have begun to study how the cells are
specifically affected. What they have already discovered is nothing
short of groundbreaking. Upon repeated exposure to
specific chemicals produced by specific emotions like
anger, love, stress and lust, which consequently,
dictate one's thoughts (and vice versa), scientists
could see that tiny transmembrane receptors on each
cell's membrane wall - also called peptide receptors
- would receive these signaling molecule peptides and
generate specific responses. For example, adrenaline and
pheromones are two chemicals that can be produced by
thoughts and which are composed of different peptides,
The more a cell is exposed to a particular peptide, the more peptide receptors a cell will have. In other words, cells are conditioned to receive peptides they are exposed to more often. Therefore, the human body's natural response is, "Oh, this is what I should be thinking...well then, allow me!" The actual neurological network inside the human brain then begins to remap itself according to the changes taking place in the cells. The body simply makes it easier for emotionally produced chemicals, like adrenaline, to be integrated with the body's cells. In essence, we become addicted to our emotions. This is why people have sexual addictions (fueled by lustful thoughts), compulsive anger (fueled by angry thoughts), and unbreakable contentment (fueled by peaceful thoughts). It seems so elementary , does it not? And it certainly is. We've just been so busy thinking that we haven't been thinking about thinking!
Okay, so what does all this have to do with spirituality and religion? Well, besides serving as a middle ground between the scientist or skeptic who says, "I'll only believe it if I see it" and the devout follower who says "I believe it because I am told to believe it", the discoveries of quantum physics show us just how large of a role our thoughts and emotions play in our well being and our individual realities...In other words, how we see the world around us. And how we see, live and create in the world is indeed influenced by one's spirituality, faith or belief system.
Here is just one of many examples how science can be united with spirituality and religion:
Doctors and scientists have proven that when we do not breathe properly - meaning too shallow - the body is prone to becoming stressed. There is less Oxygen being delivered to our cells, which consequently creates a chain effect that stresses all of the different systems in the human body. When we're stressed, we're prone to be overcome by emotions, and consequently, prone to react in ways not becoming of our religious and spiritual ideals. In other words, we are more likely to blow a fuse or react to someone in a way we would normally not do if we were but centered and calm.
Considering that most of us do not fully breathe like we should, it would certainly serve us well to pay attention to our breathing and focus on doing it better. Yoga, as well as meditation, which is primarily a spiritual practice that incorporates the use of deep breathing, would make for an excellent tool for everybody in this regard. The act of meditating and deep breathing is yet another spiritual supplement. So simple, but true!
There is something that hasn't been mentioned yet, but which certainly needs mentioning - for it is the greatest unifying force between spirituality, religion and science. It is none other than Love...and we all are familiar with it on one level or another.
All religions and spiritual teachings have long placed importance on the value of love and loving one's neighbor. But why is this so?
These days, there is certainly more incentive or "reason" to love, well, simply because we can now see just how real the effects of love are - even on the cellular level. In other words, science - in a way - is measuring love.
Yet, at some point, every human must embrace the mystery of Love and direct faith (because we are always directing our faith in one thing or another) toward the infinitude of love's power and possibility. In other words, we must love because we feel it in our hearts - even if our minds can't fully grasp the concept of loving an enemy.
The impulse to do so must and will eventually come from within, beginning with loving ourselves. When we feel the love of ourselves, then and only then can we give it fully to others. We may not always see the proof of the power of love outside and inside of ourselves, yet it's always there. Science is just beginning to prove this.
In the meantime, it is our quest to keep seeking to know ourselves - the manifestations of which are expressed in our beliefs, faith, self-expression, lifestyle - in short, everything! Spirituality, religion and science keep us searching for more answers, while at the same time providing answers. This is the quest. And while it is necessary for humankind to keep bearing the torch that shines Light on our existence and the path ahead, it is vitally important to remind ourselves that we are exactly where we need to be. Right here. Right now.
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