I Love Scientists. Some Of My Best Friends Are Scientists.
And they are so good looking. Geeks with brains the size of planets, wandering around looking like women you want to look like. They’re all aerodynamics this and biospheric that. It’s a wonder they can stand with all the smarts they have going on up there. So of course when we get together we mostly talk about relationships, and errr…actually that’s mostly it.
Sometimes though, we talk about spirit. Our spirits, the great spirit, the souls journey, meditation, prayer, all things ‘God.’ And I have to tell you, they are my favourite people to have these conversations with.
Just to be clear, I am no scientist. When I was 14, a physics teacher put my multiple-choice test paper on the desk in front of me and said, “Statistically Natalie, if we had given the same test and a pencil to a monkey, it would have had just as much chance of getting this score.” Biology and chemistry weren’t much better. But I’ve always been fascinated by mysteries and decoding things. And the universe is the universe right? Whether you’re wondering what Jupiter is made from, or you’re wondering what our place in it is, we’re all just asking questions in service of our evolution and just plain old curiosity.
In an interview for The Telegraph, Stephen Hawking said, "If you believe in science, like I do, you believe that there are certain laws that are always obeyed. If you like, you can say the laws are the work of God, but that is more a definition of God than a proof of his existence."
So I was wondering. Is the difference between science and spirituality becoming increasingly a matter of semantics? I’m a Brit spending a lot of time in America these days and constantly resisting the urge to start saying things like ‘tomaydo’ instead of ‘tomartoe.’ But we’re all just talking about fruit aren’t we?
I love the idea that spirituality isn’t magic, or that science is. That the mundane, the material and the physical are all in the same fruit bowl as the esoteric and the mystical. I’m pretty sure that someone is already doing this, but I’m guessing if they’re not, that one day we’ll be measuring love and fear the same way we currently measure electricity or gravity. Because I wonder how an organism such as myself can contain matter, spirit, emotions, thoughts, creativity etc. and not have all of those things be interconnected. I know that my thoughts create emotions for example, so why wouldn’t my spirit or my emotions create matter?
This is one of the many reasons I love the invitation to ‘Chop wood, carry water,’ because along with bringing me into the moment and telling me to just do what I’m doing, it tells me that the greatest spiritual act I could do today might just be the washing up or going to work. I don’t want to have to be in a temple or doing some kind of ritualistic act to be spiritual. Dancing with friends, gardening or paying my car insurance can make me feel more connected than meditation sometimes. Because it’s just the next right thing to do. Or perhaps more accurately, it’s just what I’m doing, and everything I’m doing is coming from mind, body and spirit, so why try to separate them out?
For me, science operates in service of my spiritual life and vice versa. Because it grounds everything into the physical which is, after all, what I believe I’m doing here. A spiritual being having a human experience. Science offers me the human experience with all of it’s wonder and it’s limitations. It brings humility into my experience, because where there are laws there are limitations. And the same is true of my spiritual life. It too is full of wonder and limitations, because there is so much we simply do not know and don't yet know how to know, and because I am in a human body, governed by those physical laws. That dependence is what separates me from the Gods. And I cannot transcend either my physical or my spiritual needs, nor I believe, am I supposed to. These two aspects of myself are supposed to be friends, supporting each other, and co-creating my experience.
My parents are a great living example of this relationship. They are both geology enthusiasts, but I think for the most part, for different reasons. My Dad talks about the subject from an almost entirely scientific perspective. My Mum on the other hand talks about the energetic qualities of the stones and the stories of the cultures she comes to learn about through the study of the different time periods they ‘read’ in the rock. But they are both still looking at and talking about rocks, and from equally important perspectives that live in service of one another.
So what does my spiritual self offer my physical self? Meaning, purpose and desire among other things. Also color, and a sense of adventure. I’m a visual person so here’s the analogy that comes to mind. If science is the concrete and the tile of a swimming pool, then spirit is the water. Together they make for a lot of fun. Water in that same spot without the concrete is just mud. And the concrete without water is just, well a skate park I suppose, but you take my point.
And so I bow down to my lovely nerdy friends and their incredible wisdom, because on my so called spiritual path, I consider it to be one of my greatest challenges to humble myself to the laws of the physical and the mundane, and to be willing to be governed by the laws of science and all of the vulnerability that that implies, using spiritual practice not to transcend the fragility of being human but as a way to fully embrace it.