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Article LXXXVII: Faith and Shraddha

"Speaking of the spirit that informs modern scientific investigations, I am of the opinion that all the finer speculations in the realm of science spring from deep religious feeling, and that without such feeling they would not be fruitful" said Albert Einstein in response to a question about whether or not modern science can offer spiritual insights where organized religion has failed.

Shraddha can be translated as faith, or a firm belief in the reality of something. Faith is often discussed with respect to religion, but faith is involved in science as well. Postulates, axioms, theorems, and principles are based on observation and experimentation. However, the nonexistence of a counterexample cannot be proven. Scientists have faith in principles based on the data available. However, scientific principles are malleable based on the availability of new data. Scientific principles are often amended to reflect new information.

Vedanta is often described as scientific, and this philosophy of life can be approached scientifically. To paraphrase Swami Chinmayananda, accept Vedanta subject to verification. Based on available data, scientists accept that unlike charges always attract, which provides the foundation for a number of scientific principles. Analogously, spiritual aspirants can accept the basic concepts of Vedanta, which can provide the foundation for a spiritual life of peacefulness and blissfulness. Vedantic principles have been discovered and verified by numerous yogis over thousands of years similar to how scientific principles have been discovered and verified by scientists throughout time.

By accepting the principles of science, a scientist has a foundation to discover greater knowledge. Similarly, by accepting the principles of Vedanta, a spiritual aspirant has a foundation to discover greater peace and bliss. Blind acceptance is not necessary in Vedanta, and faith can take the form of accepting Vedantic concepts, subject to verification in one's own life. Albert Einstein is one of the greatest scientific minds the world has ever known, and his beliefs were quite Vedantic.

"A human being is part of a whole, called by us the 'Universe,' a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest - a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty." Albert Einstein

East-West Counseling & Meditation -- Modern Psychiatry Integration -- Himalayan Philosophy -- Penn & Stanford Medicine
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