Spirituality— few words mean so differently to different people as does this particular one. The word itself gives half its meaning. “Spirit”- the utopian soul? Or the “vital force” of life, as early scientists liked to call it? You might find it hard subscribing to abstract concepts, so let spirituality be, for now, a mission. A mission to steer through these abstract ideas and seek to understand the spirit in its true form! And how does one attain reality? —Through the science of course!
So-called eminent holy men right away reject the idea of understanding the soul through science. The line, “science is too small to accommodate something as grand as the soul” is admittedly, too cliched. We are living in a world of science, and if we are to understand the soul, it’ll be through science. Because if something is real, it falls within the realm of science, don’t you think?
The Questions of Science
So, going about it scientifically, what is the problem we need to address? Our physical limitations. The visible spectrum for us, humans, is a mere one-twenty-fifth part of the entire electromagnetic spectrum, which means there are a couple dozen times more frequencies of rays that we cannot even see! Our audible frequency spans less than some 20k Hertz, above or below to which, we are simply deaf.
So, the question is- can our body contain something that is beyond our physical perception? Can we really find this ‘spirit’? You’d say atoms are constituted by frequencies beyond our perception, and that’s a valid point! But, when we see our bodily structure or even the photograph of an atom, we’re not really “seeing” an atom, we are merely seeing the visible light that it reflected off itself. As long as a particle refuses to interact in some way with light, we cannot really “see” it. But sure, we can experience and perceive atoms indirectly! Do we then also ‘experience’ or ‘feel’ our soul? Perhaps, and best if not, you have experienced a heartbreak, accompanied by the ‘rattling’ or that ‘tearing apart’ of the soul where you desperately try to chase it but in hopeless vain. But one may argue that it’s more of a psychological reaction than a physical one. This is where meditation comes in— the effort to connect with your soul when it is calm and joyful, like the clear waters of a sapphire lake on a sunny day. That is why you close your eyes and seek a quiet place— to drown out all the surrounding noises and external disturbances, and only listen to the peaceful quiet within!
A Philosopher of the Old
But even then, to what extent can we really understand the soul? Let’s take a look at what we’ve already been told about the soul. For this, we’ll turn to our ancestors, for they tried more than once, to whisper to us their insight, through poems, verses and stories. And because perhaps meditation is a more profound concept than we thought. Ancient India took an appreciable leap in the sciences in the post-Vedic era. This is when many treatises on science and mathematics were composed. One of these treatises was the ‘Garbhopanishad’ or the ‘the book of the womb’, meticulously composed by Sage Pippalada. Why are we discussing this book? Because it contains an important link between the body and the soul. Carefully interpreting its words, you can’t help but notice that the sage-scientist is hinting towards the spiritual beginning of life- the entry of the soul into a new, developing body. According to the Garbhopanishad, the developmental processes until the sixth month are merely physical. When the body truly attains “jivan” or life, is in the seventh month. And when this happens, the unborn baby starts meditating on the eternal word “OM”, until the eighth month, when the child is fully ‘alive’. Notice something? The child meditates for a whole month for the newly acquired soul to establish or settle in the body. Building connections with the physical and spiritual is indeed the purpose of meditation! And how else would you understand the spirit without connecting with it? (Plus, I bet the unborn child is well cut off from outer stimuli to have that peace we crave during meditation!)
The Garbhopanishad goes on to state that after the soul settles in the new body, the child attains the consciousness of the self, the realization that “I am.” And that is the motive of spirituality, isn’t it? To be aware of one’s existence, “I am my body”, “I am my mind”, “I am my thoughts”, “I am the elements”, “I am stardust” and “I am the Universe”. When I am Everything, I certainly exist, I am real. This realization is so profound and magnificent, and yet so calm and soothing! One of the symptoms of severe anxiety is what doctors call ‘derealization’, the feeling that the self simply doesn’t exist, and everything being experienced is an illusion. This feeling of illusion or derealization comes with crippling, maddening fear. But meditating, and connecting with your spirit assures you of your existence, of your power, and of the fact that the Universe is investing its elements in you. You are its creation and that creation is certainly not an illusion. Psychologists agree wholly, as perhaps do your own experiences, that, getting to know and communicate with your inner self through meditation has a huge positive impact on mental health, especially for those of us who experience anxiety or panic from a hyper-imaginative mind. Spirituality, therefore, also means deriving this strength of thoughts from your soul.
A Successful Spiritual Quest
When you connect with your soul and understand its nature, communicate with it, and derive inspiration from within, you are spiritually awakened— you are ‘Buddha’. It is an abstract and tricky concept, and many of us might feel that it’s more than the work of a lifetime. But is it really? As humans, we learn new things about our outer world every day. Why then, is it so hard to learn about what’s inside? We all need to find peace to be spiritual and we all need to be spiritual to attain peace- it’s a vicious circle. Once you break free of this circle, and you will, you will find enormous strength that rests within you. This strength will give you power without greed; joy without insecurity and love without fear. Because you would have found your soul, and hell may freeze over but that spirit will always run within you. That ultimately is the meaning of a spiritual quest.
If you find these thoughts honest and relatable, if you’re curious to explore the realm of spirituality further, Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist might be a good start! Head on to our review to know more! Want to share you’re your favorite philosophers’ ideas and listen to many more insights from the best authors? You’re always welcome at Empowr Club, where reading books and discussing the ideas is what we do! Get your own bookish club- head to our app: