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The Asana of Science

October 25
, 1980

 

To live all of life in the pose of science, to make the asana of science a style of living, is like trying to eat dinner while standing on your head!

Avatar Adi Da Samraj

 



Avatar Adi Da SamrajADI DA SAMRAJ:
Science is commonly described as a way of observing the natural world, a method of excluding or abstracting the viewer from the process of observation, so that what is observed is a "reality" untainted by the presence of the viewer. This process of acquiring knowledge is concerned not with transforming the viewer but with learning about the so-called objective, or natural, world independent of the viewer.

Now, this is an interesting notion of human activity. People are so used to the presence of science and technology in today's culture that they accept science as a natural activity, a sort of professionalization, or technical elaboration, of something that everybody is already doing. But the activity of science may not be natural at all. It is something you are already doing when you conceive of the objective, or natural, world apart from yourself. Yet if you become sensitive to the real condition of your existence, can you truly say that you ever experience or have anything whatsoever to do with an objective world? Do you ever contact anything objective, or independent of yourself?

The common presumption of daily human life is that there is an objective world, but this presumption is simply a convention of egoic life and of present-day society. Science bases its sophisticated activity upon this conventional view of life. It seems natural enough to say that you live in the physical world. You are sitting around here in this physical world with many other people, right? To speak of a physical or objective world is simply a convention of your existence, whereas in fact you do not have any actual experience of an objective, or independent, world. Your actual experience is much more complex and undefined than that convention suggests.

You refer to yourself as "me" and "I", but if you were asked what "I" is, how could you ever come to the end of the description? Obviously you have not entered into an exhaustive self-analysis or observation of yourself before using the terms "me" and "I" as self-references. If you understand how you presume the reality of a so-called objective world, you will not find an "I" that could possibly have so much as a foot inside a physical world or that can be so defined and confined. This "I", which is ultimately only conscious awareness, this individual being that is aware of phenomena, has no direct connection to an independently objective world.

The conscious being is related to a so-called objective world through the process of conception and perception. You conceive and you perceive and therefore you presume an objective world, but you do not in fact have any actual contact with the world itself. You are associated with perceptions but not with the world. Thus, you never directly experience a "world" as an independent reality. Yet as you experience this whole affair of perception and conception, you make certain conventional judgments. You establish certain conventions of thought, communication, and action whereby you say things like "There is this external world here" and "I am me, and you are you". You say these things, but they are purely conventional statements with no ultimate philosophical stability. The notion of a physical world in which you exist is a conventional notion, an idea, a presumption on which you can act, but a presumption you need not even share with others. It is not universally accepted that there is an independent gross physical world. Many other cultures have had totally different views of reality, and they have used other conventions to determine their behaviors, relations, and ideas.

Science presumes to seek direct knowledge about a world that is independent of human beings. In doing so it has created other effects that have cultural, psychological, and even Spiritual significance. Science has become the dominant point of view of society everywhere, and it thus has established a way of life wherein human beings universally presume that the "real world" is the physical world and that the world of the psyche, the so-called internal realm, is unreal, or merely caused by the external world. Thus, science abandons the primary feature of human experience. In fact, you could even say that science is not a truly human activity, because in its pursuit what is specifically human the inherence of personal consciousness in the Divine Reality is fundamentally suppressed, abstracted, and separated out.

According to the philosophy of science, people are supposed to pursue knowledge about the external world, rather than participate in a total world wherein reality includes not only the objects of perception and conception but the process of perception and conception as well as the conditional being, or living consciousness, in which perception and conception are experienced or acknowledged. Science does not presume reality to be the total human condition. It presumes reality to be external to the human condition, and in its study of that reality it suppresses the human condition as a medium of association with phenomena. Therefore, science has chosen the so-called external world as the real world and presumes that all the other dimensions of existence with which human beings are directly associated are unreal, or simply caused by the "real" world, which is the gross, physical, material, external universe.

In Truth, the condition of your existence includes more than the so-called external world. You are always simply existing, simply conscious. Every other feature of your existence is an object to your own living consciousness. If a thought arises, it is witnessed, or observed, in consciousness. If a sensation arises, it is witnessed. If a room is perceived, it is witnessed. The fundamental aspect of your experience, therefore, is this living consciousness, which has no features of its own. Everything arises as an object to this living consciousness through a spontaneous process of perception and conception.

That process of conceiving and perceiving notices and experiences various forms, some of which are related to what is called the "external", gross world and others of which cannot be found there at all. For instance, you cannot always find the environments of your dreams in the gross world- at least according to the conventions of thinking, you could say that you cannot find them there. You associate the many levels of conceived and perceived objects with different dimensions of experience. Therefore, there is living being, or living consciousness, and there are the processes of conception and perception, and then there are various forms, gross and subtle, that are interpreted and evaluated according to various conventions. But your actual situation includes all three of these fundamental conditions the living consciousness, conception and perception, and forms in dynamic association with one another.

Science is a human invention and a development of one specific convention of interpreting reality exclusive of other possible conventions. Thus, in the scientific convention, living consciousness in association with the process of the conception and perception of forms becomes a single conventional presumption at the level of human relations in space and time. The conception of "me" or "I" is basically the process of conception and perception referring to itself. This body-mind, or the process of conception-perception, calls itself "I". It refers to itself as if it has thoroughly investigated itself and thus knows exactly what it is meaning when it says "me" or "I". But the "I" is just a convention of reference, not necessarily the product of a thorough analysis of its true nature. "I" is a rather intuitive gesture, but it is also just a convention that permits ordinary communication and activity.

Therefore, if the process of conception and perception is uninspected, it conceives of itself as an independent self over against all possible forms that arise. Once this presumption is made (and it is made for very ordinary reasons), it is possible to say things like "There is the external universe." But to call the realm of conceived and perceived forms an "external universe" does not signify that one understands anything profound or that one has understood the true Nature of that realm, any more than to say "I" or "me" means that one has thoroughly analyzed and understood the conditional self. It is simply a convention of reference.

Scientific activity is not inherently evil, but it does become an evil or destructive force if it is permitted to dominate one's world-view and to remain unaccountable to one's total realization of existence. In the present time the conventions of science have been taken absolutely seriously, as if such conventions had ultimate philosophical force, and the materialistic point of view of science has been permitted to do great psychological harm to humanity. By divorcing reality from the realm of people's actual existence, science has attributed reality to that which is apparently outside your existence. It has made the so-called physical universe the realm of reality, and it regards everything else to be an effect of the material world.

The reality of the external world to which science points has no psychic depth. It is a plastic mass of events. When scientists study the human being, they want to prove that the mind, the psyche, and the essential being are the effect of bodily existence and thus the effect of matter. They conclude that if the mind is caused by matter, then it is basically unreal, secondary, not a primary reality. From that point of view, however, to pursue knowledge about reality one must dissociate from one's own being and find a way to become involved with a so-called external, objective world. Science as such a discipline of knowledge can be of value, but as a point of view about existence it is destructive and psychotic.

You do not exist merely in a physical universe. You exist in a multidimensional condition, every aspect of which is totally real and mutually related to all other aspects. These many dimensions condition one another and bring one another into existence. As a matter of fact, you never observe anything's ever being brought into existence. Existence is an inherent Attribute of the Divine Reality. All these appearances are just transformations, or changes. Nothing ever comes into existence. Nothing ever passes out of existence. Things only change. They become apparent and unap-parent, identifiable in one moment and unidentifiable in the next. This truth is demonstrated in the law of the conservation of energy conceived by modern physics, which states that energy is never destroyed but is, rather, ceaselessly transformed.

In the ancient world essential human existence, as well as social and cultural existence, was not created and defined by the point of view of science or anything like science. Even though some science-like enterprises may have developed in those times and places, the fundamental conceptions, or presumptions, that created the model of human existence and established the circumstances and processes of daily life were often based on a total and fully human presumption about the conditions of existence.

Science is a dehumanizing adventure when made into an absolute philosophical point of view, because it chooses a reality independent of human existence as the subject of its investigation, makes that reality the force that defines human existence, and makes the physical universe senior to, superior to, or more real than one's essential being and the subtler dimensions in which one participates constantly. Science excludes the subtle dimensions of energy, the dimensions of psyche, and the dimension of essential being, or the living consciousness. But all these conditions are your true Condition. The mere external, or objective, physical world, which is only a conventional notion anyway, is a fraction of the total Condition of which you are directly aware in every moment. The physical universe that science wants to investigate itself represents only a portion, one dimension, of a much broader scale of dimensions in which you participate.

You exist simultaneously in many dimensions. You fluidly move attention through those dimensions. Your attention can pass from gross physical phenomena into thinking, into visions, into revery, into a state transcending all gross consciousness, into psychic awareness of what appear to be environments or worlds that have nothing whatever to do with this one, dissolving in Consciousness Itself, or Being Itself, Which has no references whatsoever, and then moving back again through all of these dimensions one by one. You can, therefore, presume a Condition of existence wherein all these dimensions are simultaneously existing, simultaneously real. But, since science is founded not upon the observer but upon the observed, it does not have this flexibility of movement through many dimensions, and it is not possessed of the paradoxes of actual human existence.

Many scientists and people sympathetic with the scientific world-view do not seem capable of thinking about what they are doing. They have no more insight into their presumptions and motives than enthusiastic religionists or "creationists" possess in their domain. Scientists do not rigorously understand that science itself is a chosen, specific development of a single aspect of conventional human understanding. In the enterprise of science the mind and the body are used for a specific kind of work. But apart from that, all the dogma about the total universe and about reality and existence itself, and science's anti-Spiritual, anti-religious, anti-psychic point of view, and its Victorian, archaic materialism, and its prejudices against other kinds of knowing all of this is insidious, not merely nonsensical, because it has such a profoundly negative effect on human beings.

Meanwhile, many scientists who adopt this dogmatic approach act as if they were super-intelligent people with their tweedy, pipe-smoking, complicated linguistic minds. This is the archetype of intelligence, is it not? This is the way you are supposed to be if you are intelligent. Well, this archetype does not necessarily represent intelligence. It is just a pose. Real intelligence must be fiercely capable of investigating every aspect of existence, including the very process of knowledge that is called "science".

Science has now become so legitimized, and people have become so serious about it, that they are beginning to forget that on a very basic level they feel there is something ridiculous and even threatening about science. When it first appeared, science was regarded as heresy by the Catholic church. Then it became thought of as just craziness, and scientists were always depicted as mad. Madness and science were regarded as the same thing in those days. When science first began to become prominent, before it became really official at that crossover point from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance into the so-called Age of Enlightenment and then the Romanticism of the nineteenth century science was regarded to be possibly aberrated. Many stories, such as the tale of Frankenstein, appeared during that time. Science was regarded as a kind of balminess, or madness.

On some level people are still very humorous about science. They know that the left-brained, tweedy character is a poseur, and they know that science is a pose, an asana. Apart from the specific enterprise for which this asana, or pose, of science was invented, it does not represent the disposition wherein one is Divinely Enlightened, Free, Happy, totally associated with all of the factors of one's existence.

To do science, one must assume a pose that is not the disposition of the human being contemplating Infinity. When science begins to propose that this asana is the disposition one must assume relative to everything, then it becomes mad. People must be able to reconnect with their humor, their primitive sense of the poseur that they can be and of the ridiculousness of their postures. To live all of life in the pose of science, to make the asana of science a style of living, is like trying to eat dinner while standing on your head!

The Western disposition makes the human being into a moral robot whose only significance is the accomplishment attributed to the few individuals who have made scientific discoveries at critical moments. From the point of view of scientific dogma, those are the only human beings who have really done anything other than be confined to illusions. Everybody else is sort of babbling along in fear, believing all kinds of nonsense. Here and there you find some character in a tweed coat with a pipe who is able to break free of all that and see how objects move in space!

In terms of the ability to observe and comprehend, there is something remarkable about such individuals. But other people have accomplished just as many remarkable things in relation to a totally different way of knowing, a more comprehensive or total way of knowing or realizing human existence. Even so, there are many babbling, frightened people. But one can babble and be frightened as a scientist just as much as one can babble and be frightened as a conventionally religious person.

The true alternative to the extreme pose of science, however, is not the traditional option of orientalism. The oriental enterprise which not only developed in the East but which has been a feature of humanity all along, East and West has provided the domain for religion, Spirituality, mysticism, magic, and all the elaborations of the psyche. Because oriental enterprises attribute reality only to the fundamental depth of the subjective being and not to the world of forms, they tend to be ineffectively related to the world of forms. Therefore, if the domains of religion, Spirituality, mysticism, and magic are not held accountable to actual, literal processes, they can develop all kinds of illusions and create views that are purely imaginary, suggestive, or archetypal. Those views may be unified, but the phenomena they are unifying can be totally imaginary, merely psychic and subtle, and only partially objective in relation to the material world. Thus, human mind and human culture, when permitted to develop exclusively along oriental lines, tend to create a culture of illusions.

Science as it is known today appeared historically at a time when religious enterprises (particularly Christianity), dominated by orientalism, had become so filled with illusions that early scientific observations were arbitrarily condemned and anathematized, just as science now arbitrarily condemns and anathematizes non-illusory, real features of psychic and Spiritual realization. Scientific discoveries were declared heretical because they did not square with the assumed imaginary cosmic picture that had been created by religionists. Then, as science itself began to achieve more and more dominance (because it was discovering some real facts), the Church, the religious point of view, the oriental disposition itself, began to be viewed as wrong. Not only were some of its presumptions or ideas presumed wrong, but religion itself was presumed wrong.

Now the world is at the opposite end of this historical pendulum. At one time even the Western world was profoundly associated with the religious consciousness of orientalism (in the form of Christianity, specifically), but now that whole enterprise is presumed to be false. Another world-view, another way of knowledge, another kind of cult, has achieved power and has become associated with the State and the machinery of worldly power, and it is using that position to dominate its opposite.

To transcend the limitations that are obvious at the present time, human beings must transcend all of the historical alternatives. Humanity must transcend the limited disposition of science that now dominates, as well as the limited disposition of the oriental view that seems to be its primary alternative. In order to transcend all these limited features, human beings must simply and directly observe and "consider" their existence as a whole, before making any of these limited presumptions, before assuming or engineering their existence as a choice between the occidental and the oriental dispositions. You must conceive of your existence as it is altogether. You must observe it and see that it is altogether existing and real in every dimension, not just in one dimension or feature. And your real existence, your free and Happy existence, is to be realized only in the asana, the attitude, of your total Condition, rather than in your choice of a single aspect of that Condition.


 
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