matthieu ricard: the false dichotomy between spirituality and discovery

in the on being episode with matthieu ricard, krista quotes this section from his 1998 book, the monk and the philosopher:

My scientific career was the result of a passion for discovery. Whatever I was able to do afterward was in no way a rejection of scientific research, but arose rather from the realization that such research was unable to solve the fundamental questions of life — and wasn’t even meant to do so.

in the show, krista and matthieu go on and discuss in detail from where that sentiment came, from both narrative and spiritual/value approaches. but even just that quote really makes me think.

for reasons that i’m sure i could figure out but don’t currently know, there seems to be a perception in the west in that religion and spirituality are anti-discovery. i know there are probably some roots to that sentiment in the enlightenment. but i’m thinking most recently about how in semi-socialist and previously/currently communist countries, religion is held with disdain. it’s “the opiate of the masses” or just seen as backwards and dumb.

and sure, maybe that is generally true of religion. but, in my mind, there’s a difference between religions and spirituality. the spiritual realm deals with internal, non-physical phenomena.

under that category, there is so must to discover. fundamental questions of existence to me belong to the spiritual realm.

in fact, some of the scientists & researchers i respect the most have deep spiritual lives. and that allows them to not feel limited or trapped or hindered by the things their research can or can’t prove.

anyway, i just really appreciate this thinking and it makes me really mourn for folks who are missing out because of a misperception (is that the right word?) about what spirituality is and therefore misperceive what science can and can’t do.

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