June 28, 2008

Between Science and Mysticism

Where Physics and Mysticism Don't Meet

By Adrian Stuart

Can you change your reality simply by thinking about it? A popular opinion held by many spiritual people is that modern physics has made discoveries which validate these beliefs. But is this really the case?

Science and spirituality are often seen as being incompatible with each other. Like a dog and cat living in the same bag, trouble seems almost inevitable, and conversational injuries can be suffered at the hands of people with the best of intentions. Our intention here is to clarify some muddy waters not to take sides.

The concept of the inter-connectedness of all things is one which has appeared in spiritual writings for thousands of years. Perhaps one of the oldest and most poetic expressions of this sentiment can be found in the Hindu texts known as the Upanishads a collection of spiritual tales. In the Chandogya Upanishad (c. 800-900BC) we are told, You Are That, meaning that the individual person, the soul (Atman) is of the same substance and nature as the physical universe (Brahman).

Some believe that if we are of the same substance and nature as the rest of the universe, then we may be able to influence it in some manner through sheer will and concentration. Others believe that human beings are able to focus an energy, force or power from within themselves, causing it to radiate out into the cosmos and produce a result. The Scottish anthropologist Sir James Frazer (1854-1941), writes about this type of belief appearing in many cultures. In his book, The Golden Bough: A Study in Magic and Religion, Frazer called this belief magical thinking.”

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