|Unification of Science and Spirit -- Copyright Ben Goertzel © 1996|
SCIENCE, WISDOM, AND THE HIERARCHY OF BEING
SCIENCE, WISDOM, AND THE HIERARCHY OF BEING
If I had to sum up the diverse contents of this book in a a single phrase, it would be this: computational reality is spiritual reality. The whole book is an expansion of this idea in various directions.
The bringing-together of computation and spirit ties together two megatrends of late-twentieth-century culture. Computers are everywhere, dominating our lives more and more; while at the same time, an increasing percentage of the population is turning to Oriental religions and related practices, seeking some kind of spiritual "exit door" from the rat-race of modern life. My thesis is that ultimately, these two trends are getting at the same thing. I present a view of the world in which the computational universe and the spiritual universe are identical.
My path to this unification moves across diverse terrain -- everything from quantum physics and artificial life to clinical psychology and Surrealist poetry. I will write about future changes in mind and society to be effected by computer technology, especially virtual reality. I will write about contemporary mind and reality as viewed through the lense of computational theory. I will review ancient spiritual traditions, and show how they are mirrored in detail by ideas from computer science and computational psychology.
I will lay a particular emphasis on the study of mind. This is the branch of science to which I have devoted the past decade of my life, and it is the means by which I have happened upon the relations between computation and spirituality. Modelling mind computationally, one touches both the higher realms of the spirit and the mechanical details of everyday physical reality. One is forced to view everything in the same light. Computational theories of mind resonate with Indian and Buddhist theories of mind in amazingly satisfying ways.
Throughout, the idea is not to reduce science to spirituality, nor to reduce spirituality to science. It is rather to show how these two apparently very different strategies for understanding the universe are actually getting at the same thing -- how they fit into a common map of the world. The world-view of the future, I suggest, will incorporate science and spirituality in a seamless, harmonious way. The ideas given here are a sketch for this future philosophy -- or, to use Nietzsche's phrase, a "Prelude to the Philosophy of the Future."
This new, scientific/spiritual map of the world that I will outline here is valuable to me personally. As outlined in the Preface, it overcomes a schism that has plagued my mind since childhood. But I believe it will be valuable to others as well, and for basically similar reasons. All of us who live in a scientific, technological society are to some extent touched by the gap between science and spirituality. Our culture itself is infused with this gap: if the gap were not there, we would not destroy our environment, we would not ruin our minds and bodies with obsessive work schedules, we would not abandon our children to oppressive, mind-deadening school systems. Overcoming the gap between science and spirit, on a society-wide level, is important to all of us. It is my hope that this book will be of some use toward this goal.
This point bears enlarging. One might think that the inner dilemma between science and spirit would be most acute for those who, like me, earn their living as scientists. However, I am not so sure that this is the case. Living in the modern world, each one of us necessarily absorbs something of the scientific mentality. Attitudes of objectivity, rationality and empiricism are forced on us by the structure of our society and the nature of our technology. These attitudes help form our thoughts and feelings, whether we are aware of them or not.
All of us, in modern technological society, have a strong tendency to distance ourselves from our bodies, from our environment and from our society as a whole. This individualist, alienated perspective, which has been discussed time and time again, is tied in closely with the "objectivist," rationalist viewpoint of modern science. The rational mind is set apart from everything, and makes its own disconnected, dispassionate observations. This attitude suffuses modern society in dozens of different ways, even among social groups who have nothing to do with the practice of science.
As scientific values encroach more and more deeply on our minds, in obvious and subtle ways, more and more of us are coming to appreciate the power of spiritual experience. Spirituality provides an inner balance and strength that is particularly difficult to gain in a society governed by information technology. However, our information about spiritual experience tends to sit rather oddly with the rest of our knowledge and understanding. Much of our information about spirituality comes from the ancient practices of other cultures: Indian and Chinese religion and philosophy, the shamanism, etc. In general, we pick and choose amongst the teachings of the ancient wisdom traditions, selecting those ideas that seem the most palatable and comprehensible, and leaving the others aside.
And this is a recipe for confusion. It is not hard to see that, when a mind filled with empiricist and rationalist habits turns to ancient spiritual traditions in its spare time, certain internal frictions are going to be created. This is the situation in which many of us find ourselves today: pulled one way by the world around us, another way by our deepest inner promptings. To a certain extent this is not a new problem: spiritual traditions have always focussed on the inadequacy of life as ordinarily lived. In a technological society such as ours, however, the dichotomy between the spiritual mentality andthe mentality pressed on us by ordinary life is particularly striking. Given this situation, it seems extremely important to observe that the scientific and spiritual views of the mind and world are in fact complementary, supporting rather than degrading each other. Unifying two sides of our knowledge and nature helps us to become more complete human beings, forming a more complete society.
I have spoken of a schism between science and spirituality, plaguing our culture. Many have criticized modern culture in far stronger terms. They believe that modern, technological culture represents a step backwards, rather than forwards. I call this attitude anti-modernism.
"We seem to have sacrificed the most important parts of life," the anti-moderns say, "in favor of surface sheen. We have millions of labor-saving devices -- our devices link together to form an environment that has replaced nature as our everyday home. But yet we work far more than our Stone Age predecessors, who needed to hunt and gather only a few hours a day on average. We leave our children with strangers to work long hours at often mind- and body-numbing jobs. At school, our children learn to fight, to obey unquestioningly, to squelch their natural creativity and independence. In our spare moments, we avoid reflection and contemplation by watching TV and videos, gossiping about celebrities, going to sports events, tinkering with our cars. We fill our bodies with foods like alcohol and refined sugar that are chemically configured to prevent us from rebelling against this way of life."
While these dire conclusions do have emotional resonance, a part of me rebels against them. After all, few would deny that we have progressed in many ways. Our science, mathematics and engineering dramatically surpass anything to come before. We understand aspects of the universe that previous cultures barely knew to exist. Our literature, art and music have developed in striking, deep, beautiful ways. Our medicine works miraculous cures, more than compensating for the physical unhealthiness of our lifestyle. We have charted the brain, the body, the earth, and the edges of the universe.
But the anti-moderns do have a point. In spite of all these achievements, there is clearly something lacking in modern culture and modern psychology. The schism between science and spirituality indicates an emptiness at the core of the modern Western world -- an emptiness which pops up again and again, in hundreds of different ways. It is there in existentialism, in the feeling of looking beneath the surface trimmings of life and finding nothing there. It is there in the youth counterculture of the 1960's and early 1970's, which sought and sought for a deeper, more satisfying alternative to ordinary culture, and ultimately gave up. It is there in my own generation, so-called "Generation X," which is, according the popular media, an aimless collection of losers crying out to be entertained, lacking the capacity for deep attachment or commitment.
Of course, these stereotypical images do not summarize theindividual case. There are many individuals who, in one way or another, manage to move beyond the restrictions of their culture and find personal freedom and fulfillment. This is the case in our culture as in all others. But individual growth and freedom is never quite enough, for we are social animals, and with deeper fulfillment comes deeper compassion. All of us in the modern Western world must be intensely concerned with our collective past, present and future.
Mind Technology -- Past, Present and Future
This brings us to the futurological side of the present work, to what I sometimes call the digital dharma dream: the idea that this emptiness at the core of our culture may possibly be remedied by means of computing technology.
At first glance, it might seem absurd to suggest that the emptiness at the core of modern civilization can be filled by computing technology. What's the idea? -- "It's all right if our inner life and culture are lacking, because we have cool new computer toys to play with!"
But what I am saying is something a little subtler than this. The digital dharma dream is that the computing technology of the near future is going to transform us in such a way that "inner emptiness" will no longer be a prominent feature of our lives. In other words, computing technology is going to effect a spiritual transformation. This is not because computers have some magical power, but rather because computation is the tool our culture has created for the purpose of its own self-transformation.
Computers are transforming science already. Complex systems considerations are coming into every branch of science, motivated by the new possibility of computer simulations. Complex systems psychology is pushing us toward an understanding of the whole mind, unprecedented in scientific psychology. Complex systems physics allows us to simulate the growth of the universe, and the interactions between matter and spacetime at unimaginably high energies. Complex systems biology allows us to study the emergence of consciousness from the brain.
And computers are transforming human interaction as well. With the Internet, communication is for the first time truly global. People from different nations, social classes and subcultures have an unprecedented opportunity to communicate. At this stage, cultural and class boundaries still determine who gets online -- but once you are online, these divisions barely matter at all. Rapid, global interaction between research scientists is turning the Internet into a primitive kind of "collective mind." And, outside the realm of science, the Net is effecting serious changes in our emotional experience of the world. Individuals who have never shared their insights and feelings with anyone, share them with total strangers via e-mail and newsgroups.
And the current wave of computer innovations is just the beginning. Many individuals believe that, over the next few centuries, we will shed our bodies and become digital artificialintelligences living in virtual realities. There is an organization, the LA-based Extropians, devoted to precisely this proposition. This may sound bizarre now -- but no more bizarre than prosthetic limbs, air and space travel, genetic engineering, television and the WorldWideWeb would have sounded to the early Puritan settlers of the USA.
It is admittedly a long way from these cultural, scientific and technological changes to what I am proposing: a fundamental change in humanity and reality, a convergence of science and spirituality. But if computers have demonstrated anything over the past few decades, it is their ability to go a long way in a short time.
This digital dharma dream may seem unreasonable, wild, crazy, unscientific. As a scientist, I am aware of all of these aspects. But it seems to me that, where questions as large as these are concerned, usual standards of reasonableness do not apply. Every age will seem absurd to the one that came before it. Our only guide is our deepest intuitions. Intuition is not an infallible guide, but it is the best one we have.
When considering these futurological ideas, however, it bears remembering that the idea of transcending ourselves using technology is not at all a new one. This is where one begins to see the connection between the trend toward computer technology and the trend toward modern mysticism. Psychedelic drugs are the most obvious instance of mind-altering technology, but if one considers the word "technology" in the broader sense, one finds that Oriental traditions such as meditation and yoga are also mind-altering technologies. Thesey are all special tools, developed by lengthy empirical investigation, for effecting intricate sequences of changes in the human mind.
LSD, Ecstasy and other modern chemical hallucinogens fit into a long history of psychedelic technology. Terence McKenna, in The Food of the Gods, has written a great deal about the plant hallucinogens used in the shamanic traditions of tribal cultures, which often require very careful preparation. Psychedelic drugs promise to transform us, to bring us beyond everyday reality to a deeper and more satisfying world. And in some cases they deliver. But, used in the context of modern society, psychedelic drugs rarely provide more than an occasional vacation from ordinary reality. Sometimes they do effect profound and lasting psychological change. But all too often, the clash between everyday reality and psychedelic insight is too great, leading to disastrous results.
Timothy Leary, the most famous psychedelic guru of the sixties, has turned to computer technology with a vengeance. He believes that the personal computer revolution would not have been possible without psychedelic drugs. In his view, it is no coincidence that Apple computers, the first PC's, were born in California, and were created by psychedelically-experienced, spiritually aware "hippie hackers." The whole idea of a graphical user interface represents a visual slant on the universe that comes directly out of the psychedelic experience.
Looking back even further, Stewart Brand, founder of theWhole Earth Catalogue, notes that "The early hackers of the sixties were a subset of late beatnik/early hippie culture; they were longhairs, they were academic renegades, they spelled love l-u-v and read The Lord of the Rings and had a world-view that was absolutely the same as the Merry Pranksters and all the rest of us world-savers.... But they had a better technology. As it turned out, psychedelic drugs, communes and Buckminster Fuller domes were a dead end, but computers were an avenue to realms beyond our dreams. The hippies and the revolutionaries blew it, everybody blew it but them, and we didn't even know they existed at the time!"
Moving on from psychedelics to other methods for mind expansion, it is obvious from even the most cursory study that Yoga, for example, is a very complex body/mind technology, a discipline of mind control through body control and body control through mind control. It is a series of very specific steps, arrived at by centuries of experimentation, designed to step the brain/mind/body through a particular sequence of conditions. A substantial proportion of yogis also make use of pharmacological technology -- hashish and hallucinogens -- to assist in this process.
Buddhism is a simpler body/mind technology, involving control of diet, control of emotions, and sustained meditation (which affects brain waves and body chemistry in special ways), but it belongs to the same family of technologies. On the whole, Eastern religions are very scientific compared to Western religions, generally involving the undertaking of certain practices in order to bring about certain physical and psychological conditions in this life, rather than in some nebulous afterlife.
Often the Eastern religions are approached as if they held the answers to the problems of modern culture. However, when thinking about these spiritual traditions, it is well worth remembering that the average ancient Chinese or Indian was, by all accounts, not particularly "enlightened." The treatment of women in these societies was appalling, and the treatment of children was not much better. Rigid class structure kept a vast majority of the population in a state of mental as well as physical poverty. In these cultures, as in our culture, technology represented a way of escaping the unsatisfactoriness of everyday reality. Religious techniques were not so much an extension of everyday life as an escape from everyday life. By appealing to ancient Eastern religions, then, we are not so much appealing to a wiser period in history, as simply applying the escape technologies of a different type of repressive, unsatisfying society.
Computer technology is not the same as yogic technology, or psychedelic technology, or anything that came before it -- but, in the hands of Extropians and digital dharma dreamers like myself, it is not entirely different either. It is another attempt to break the bonds of consensus mind and reality, to break through to a deeper understanding.
THE PERENNIAL PHILOSOPHY
I have been talking about ancient technologies for changing the mind -- Oriental, shamanic, and so forth. Throughout history, across different cultures and continents, there have been literally hundreds of very different technologies and traditions aimed at penetrating deep into the mind, and transcending the less pleasant aspects of everyday reality. One might expect that the ideas of these different traditions would all be dramatically different. But it is a remarkable fact that, among all the spiritual traditions of the world, there is a strong common core, a vivid common picture of the universe. This common picture has been called the Perennial Philosophy.
The Perennial Philosophy will be of immense use to us here in our explorations in computational psychology and cyberspace philosophy. What I will be showing in this book is, in essence, that computational psychology and philosophy are just another version of the Perennial Philosophy. The Perennial Philosophy comes from shamanism, from Oriental religion, from gnosticism -- and from computationalism too.
The Perennial Philosophy holds, first of all, that everything in the mind and in the universe is an aspect of the "divine." The divine is immanent in all things.
Next, there is, according to the Perennial Philosophy, an hierarchical structure to the universe. There are lower, middle and higher planes of being -- the exact number varies from tradition to tradition.
There is also a pattern of interpenetration in the universe: each entity, when looked into deeply enough, can be seen to contain other entities -- ultimately, all other entities. The part contains the whole, just as the whole contains the part.
There are certain qualities which need to be possessed in order to consistently live in contact with the higher levels of being. One must display a certain humility and compassion, a respect and love for one's fellow beings.
And, finally, there is something standing in the way of our achieving these virtues and gaining a clear vision of the world. This is our thought-emotion complexes, our habitual mind.
The Perennial Philosophy teaches that the physical world is the lowest realm of being. It is unreal, a construct of the higher levels, which the refined mind can see right through. On the other hand, the thinking and feeling "mind" as we generally understand it is just an intermediate level. The mind is bound up in "knots," self-preserving thought systems, which prevent it from seeing the true nature of the world. Freed from these knots, the consciousness ascends beyond thinking and feeling, on to a higher plane of pure intuition.
The notion of a "cosmic hierarchy," drawn from the Perennial Philosophy, will be of particular interest here. There are many different ways of drawing the hierarchy, but while the details may differ, the basic idea remains the same. The scheme that I will use here is loosely adapted from the hierarchy found in the Vedantic school of Indian philosophy.
Vedanta is one of the six major schools of classic Indian philosophy: Purva Mimamsa, Vedanta, Sankhya, Yoga, Nyaya and Vaisesika. The ultimate origin of all these schools is the Vedas, a corpus of hymns composed between 4000 and 6000 B.C. In true mythic fashion, the Vedic hymns are addressed to the deities ruling the various forces of nature. But there is also a more metaphysical side to their teachings, in that the gods are understood as expressions of a deeper, impersonal order of being. And this impersonal order of being is itself understood as an expression of a yet deeper realm of pure formlessness. This realm of formlessness is Brahman -- or, in its individual aspect, Atman.
More will be said about Vedantic philosophy and practice later. For the moment, we will content ourselves with a single, central part of Vedantic philosophy: the doctrine of the five sheaths or koshas. These sheaths are to be understood as covers, obscuring ultimate being. Removing one level reveals the next higher level, and brings one closer to the center.
The great mystic Sri Aurobindo, in the early part of this century, explained and re-interpreted the Vedantic koshas in a way which is particularly relevant here. Sri Aurobindo took each of the koshas and associated it with a certain type of mental process, a certain kind of inner experience.
The lowest level is annamaya kosha, the food sheath, which Sri Aurobindo associates with the physical mind, or sense-mind. This is the level of thought about physical circumstances, immediate surroundings.
Next comes pranamaya kosha, the energy sheath, which Sri Aurobindo calls the life-mind or vital mind. This level of being is associated with the breath, the prana, and the fundamental life-force. It is also associated with the feelings, the emotions.
Then comes manomaya kosha, the mental sheath. This represents inventive, creative thought: the making of novel connections, the combination of ideas. Some people may go through their lives and hardly ever encounter this level of being. However, all creative individuals spend much of their time here.
Vijnanamaya kosha, the intellect, represents higher intuitive thought. It is not experienced by all creative people, but rather represents a higher order of insight. When a person experiences a work of art or an idea popping into their mind full-blown, without explicit effort or fore-thought, as though it has come from "on high" -- this is visnanamaya kosha, or true creative inspiration.
Finally, anandamaya kosha, the sheath of bliss, represents the "causal world." It is what the Greeks called the Logos; the source of abstract, mythical, archetypal forms. The forms in the Logos, the sheath of bliss, are too general and too nebulous to be fully captured as creative inspirations. They extend out inall directions, soaking through the universe, revealing the underlying interdependence of all things.
Beyond the sheath of bliss, finally, there is only the Self or Atman: pure, unadulterated being, which cannot be described. It is absolute simplicity.
I am not a Sanskrit scholar and will not attempt to do justice to the detailed meanings of the Vedantic terms. Aurobindo's slant on the terms is somewhat different from the traditional Vedantic slant anyway. The Vedantic hierarchy serves here simply as a motivation for the hierarchy that I will consider here, which has seven levels:
Quanta (Quantum Reality)
World (Everyday Physical Reality)
Bliss (Transpersonal Reality)
Being (Ultimate Reality)
The level of physical reality corresponds to annamaya -- it is the everyday physical world, the "solid" world that we normally interact with. Body reality is pranamaya, the world of our feelings: pains, pleasures, hungers, desires, sex drives, and so forth. Mental reality, manomaya, is the domain of reason: it is what distinguishes humans from ordinary animals. Intuitive reality, vignanamaya, is beyond reason and represents the higher reachings of the individual mind. Transpersonal reality -- anandamaya, the Realm of Bliss -- is the spiritual realm in which boundaries between individuals are felt to dissolve.
The lowest level, Quantum Reality, was not known to the ancient Indians or any pre-modern culture. Tongue-in-cheek, one might call it quantum-maya. It is a striking fact that quantum reality bears close resemblance to transpersonal reality. In the quantum world of submicroscopic particles, the boundaries between individual entities dissolve and distant entities are subtly interconnected. Modern theories of physics are focused on the emergence of particles and spacetime out of nothingness, out of pure Being -- in much the way that spiritual traditions envision transpersonal forms to emerge out of pure Being. This direct connection between the lowest part of the hierarchy and the highest part of the hierarchy indicates the fundamental incompleteness of the hierarchical map of the universe. Although hierarchy is a significant pattern in the universe, it does not capture all the structure in the universe -- no one pattern does.
Numerous heterarchical connections exist within each level of the hierarchy, and spanning the different levels. The nature of the heterarchical connections is to bind together forms and processes that are related to each other, and that mutually produce each other. The limitations of the purely hierarchical view may be seen most vividly by considering alternative "maps" of the universe. For instance, at the beginning of the book, two diagrams are given. The first is a simple hierarchy, similar to the Vedantic hierarchy, but incorporating the "cyclical" structure by means of which the quantum world is viewed as emerging directly out of nothingness. This is the diagram whichhas been used to help structure the book. The other diagram is based on interdependence rather than hierarchy. It is an equally valid way of "structuring" the hyperrealistic world.
The second diagram is based on a central core of mind, body and world -- the three of the hierarchical "planes" involved in everyday life. This central core is responsible for the "knots" that bind up being, obstructing smooth flow around the cycle shown in the first diagram. The three "peripheral" planes result from the interaction of the core planes with pure Being. Quantum reality represents a movement of the physical world toward pure being. Intuition represents a movement of the mind toward pure being. And transpersonal reality, bliss, represents a movement of the body, the boundary between Inside and Outside, toward pure being.
The first, hierarchical, diagram represents one pattern of flow through the dynamic process system that is the universe. The second, core-versus-periphery, diagram represents another. There are also other flow patterns -- these two are not exhaustive. The only strong claim I would make is that the various flows of form and information through the universe all follow the basic ideas of progressively emergent pattern (hierarchy) and interpenetration (heterarchy).
These two maps of the world are crucial to the world-view presented here; and it is most important to understand the sense in which they are to be taken. They are both maps of the universe as a whole, and maps of the individual stream of consciousness. The psychological sense of this proposition will be elaborated later. This structural and dynamical identity of the whole universe and the individual consciousness is absolutely essential to the Perennial Philosophy as I understand it. Each of us represents the whole, and in fact is the whole: our individual interpenetrative and hierarchical structures both represent and constitute the interpenetrative and hierarchical structures of the universe. This is itself an example of interpenetration, and an example of the subtle fractality of the world.
In discussing the hierarchy of being and related matters, I will frequently be using the word "pattern." Thus, at this point, a brief digression on the concept of pattern as I mean it may be useful.
Recall that, more than two millenia ago, Democritus suggested that every physical object is made of "atoms." By "atom," he simply meant "something so small you can't break it down into component parts." What we today call an atom is not a Democritan atom, because it can be broken down into protons, neutrons and electrons (and electrons can apparently be broken down into quarks _ there is no telling how far down this hierarchy extends; in fact, the late Stanislaw Ulam proposed that inside every particle, no matter how small, there is some smaller particle).
The system theorist Gregory Bateson has proposed an axiom called the Metapattern which states, roughly, that patterns arethe Democritan atoms of the universe. In Bateson's view, Democritus erred by looking for physical atoms, when in fact the true "atoms" of the universe exist on the level of information.
I believe that Bateson's Metapattern is correct. Essentially, there is the structureless, formless void (atman), and then there are structures, forms, patterns. These patterns can be placed into various categories; and the hierarchy of being is one such categorization scheme. Bateson applied this idea, this Metapattern, to the study of cultural and biological evolution, and human learning. In the following pages we will encounter many other scientific and philosophical thinkers who have analyzed aspects of the world in the language of pattern.
The concept of "pattern" provides a bridge between spiritual and scientific views of the world, in that it is very general and abstract, spanning different levels of being, and it is also susceptible to precise scientific definition. The scientific definition of "pattern" is based on the theory of computation. The details are complex, and will be revisited in Chapter 6, but the basic idea is simple and may be given here: it is merely that a pattern is a representation as something simpler. For instance, if one has a picture of a woman, and represents this picture in terms of a very short computer file, then the computer file is a pattern in the picture.
Of course, this definition begs the question somewhat: If the world is composed of patterns, and a pattern is a representation as something simpler, then what is simplicity? Obviously, what is simple to me may not be simple to you, and vice versa. In this sense, pattern is not an objective quantity. For instance, I might represent a certain painting to myself as a portrayal of the skyline of a city. But to a native of the jungle, unfamiliar with cities or perspectival drawing, the painting might look like a random jumble of lines and angles, or it might have some other form of order, but it would certainly not look like the skyline of a city.
Mathematical formulations of "pattern" and "simplicity" do not provide objectivity, but rather make very clear the subjective notion of pattern. For instance, using ideas from the theory of universal computation, one can give a universal, objective definition of simplicity. But what one finds is that this definition is only really "objective" for infinitely complex entities. In the finite world that we live in, there is no escape from subjectivity!
Every pattern arises from something, from some kind of substrate. In some cases the substrate is not perceptible, although the pattern is. In other cases, the substrate is composed of parts, perceived on their own, that come together in a certain way to form an holistic pattern. This gives rise to the concept of an emergent pattern -- a pattern that arises when a collection of elements are put together, but which is not apparent in any of the elements separately. In short, an emergent pattern it is a gestalt.
And this notion of emergent pattern, finally, brings us back to the hierarchy of being. Each level of the hierarchy of being is a gestalt -- a collection of patterns that emerge out of the levels below, and particularly the level immediately below. The hierarchy of being is an hierarchy of emergent patterns -- ofWorld patterns that emerge from Quanta patterns, and Body patterns that emerge from physical World patterns, and Mind patterns that emerge from Body patterns, and Intuition patterns that emerge from amongst many Mind patterns, and Bliss patterns that emerge from all the lower levels. And all the levels in the hierarchy are composed of overlapping patterns that emerge from each other in a complex ecological web.
"Pattern" is not a perfect word -- a better word would be pattern/process. These are dynamic, active things, not static bits of computer code. One could speak of phenomena, or dharma, instead of patterns. But my personal predeliction is to speak about patterns: I like the flavor of regularity, habit, emergence. Patterns are what scientists observe in the lab, what mathematicians observe in their formulas, what shamans observe on their mystic quests, and what intuitive geniuses bring down from the lofty realms of Bliss and Inspiration. Pattern is one more way of thinking about the information-stuff, the dharma-stuff that makes up the world.
The hierarchy of being is particularly useful for understanding the relation between science and spirituality. In hierarchical terms, the key difference between wisdom and science has to do with the direction of information flow through the hierarchy of being. Science is dominated by bottom-up flow, emanating from the physical level, while wisdom is dominated by top-down flow, emanating directly from the higher Self.
In wisdom traditions, the main source of knowledge is inner experience. Those with the most advanced inner experience are trusted as gurus or sages. Ideas about the external world -- the lowest level of being -- are formulated in accordance with the higher intuitions brought down by the spiritually advanced. The higher levels of being are given precedence, and the most important criterion for judging an idea is, not its empirical validity, but rather how well it fits in with spiritual, intuitive insights.
In science, on the other hand, the focus is generally on the lowest level of being, the physical level. Interference by the emotional level, associated with the level of pranamaya and the lower parts of manomaya, is strongly discouraged. The bottom line is always physical, empirical data. Higher levels of being are of course intimately involved in the conception of scientific theories. Every scientist works on the level of manomaya (Mind), and some scientists, including many of the greatest, have had regular experiences of higher Intuition or even transpersonal Bliss (anandamaya). However, the ultimate justification is always found on the annamaya, physical world level; the other levels are considered merely as sources of inspiration. The strength of science is precisely its focus on the decisive importance of physical data. Even in quantum theory, no matter how bizarre the nature of quantum reality is, everything "bottoms out" in the behavior of lab instruments that inhabit the ordinary, everyday world.
This point is worth enlarging on for a few paragraphs. According to the great quantum physicist Richard Feynman: "The first principle of science is not to fool yourself. And you're the easiest person to fool." This quote highlights the main function of empiricism in science: to overcome emotional thought-complexes in the minds of scientists. Scientists, because of their culture of empiricism, admit their errors far more often than individuals engaged in any other human endeavor. One does not often see a philosopher, politician or religious person, who has devoted years of their life to a particular point of view, suddenly change their mind and adopt an opposite perspective. However, this is not at all uncommon in science; in fact it is expected. Once the facts have shown a theory to be inadequate, the good scientist will put the theory aside, in spite of their emotional attachment to it.
One often hears, among scientists, sayings such as "You can't let a fact get in the way of a good theory." What this aphorism means is that, in some cases, the higher levels are really more important than the physical level. A scientist who has received an idea from an experience of deep intuition will probably never be induced to give it up. He will keep on pushing and pushing, convinced (rightly or wrongly) that the facts must eventually yield themselves to his guiding vision. Even ideas obtained from intense bouts of rational thought are hard for many scientists to abandon. So, the accepted ideal is that physical reality is the most important level -- but struggle against this ideal is a crucial part of the scientific process. If physical data were really exalted as much as most scientists claim it is, then the progress of science would halt.
It is precisely because the higher levels of being do play a limited role in the judgement of scientific theories, that scientists sometimes wind up failing in their quest for objectivity. The reticence of scientists to accept Einstein's special theory of relativity is a case in point. Many older scientists never accepted relativity theory, despite the convincing nature of the data. It went against their belief systems. They were ignoring the information filtering up from World to Mind, in favor of emotional thought-complexes resident at the Mind and Body levels.
However, the overwhelming and rapid acceptance of quantum theory, at around the same time, speaks in favor of the self-correcting nature of science. Here the quantity and quality of data was so tremendous that no one could deny it. Conservative scientists consoled themselves with the thought that quantum physics, with all its bizarre aspects, would someday be supplanted by a theory that made more sense to them. That is, they did not accept quantum theory as absolute truth. But they accepted it as an outstanding scientific theory.
Even where the issues involved border on the philosophical, scientists have an impressive ability to change their minds based on new data. Consider, for instance, the question of the origin of the universe. In the middle of this century, there were two leading theories. There was the Big Bang theory, which proposed that the universe began at some point in the finite past, exploding out of an initial singularity. And there was the steady state theory, which argued that the universe had always existed, and would always exist; and that matter was continuouslycreated out of empty space. Disputes between Big Bang and steady state theorists were lengthy, arcane and sometimes acrimonious. However, the discovery of the cosmic background radiation, as predicted by Big Bang theory, put an end to the matter. Even the staunchest steady state theorists were forced to admit defeat -- to conclude that the idea they had devoted their lives to was incorrect.
Steady state theorist Dennis Sciama expressed a common feeling when he said: "For me, the loss of the steady-state theory has been a source of great sadness. The steady-state theory has a sweep and beauty that for some unaccountable reason the architect of the universe appears to have overlooked. The universe is in fact a botched job, but I suppose we shall have to make the best of it." This quote from Sciama is beautifully demonstrative of the true power of science. Scientists, under force of compelling data, are able to put aside belief systems that are deeply important to them, emotionally and intellectually. Science, in this sense, is relatively nondogmatic. It is impressively self-correcting. Very, very few philosophers have ever concluded: "I am forced to admit that my philosophy was wrong. The universe is botched; it's not the way I wanted it to be." Ludwig Wittgenstein comes to mind as a partial example -- but he is the exception that proves the rule. Science has a rigor that overpowers belief systems, even belief systems that science, itself, has set up.
So: hard science focuses on the bottom levels of the hierarchy of being; traditional spiritual wisdom focuses on the top. And what about the middle? A moment's thought indicates that the middle is occupied by the "softer" sciences: psychology, sociology and anthropology. One of the main things which distinguishes hyperrealism from other incarnations of the Perennial Philosophy is its psychological bias, its focus on the middle levels of the hierarchy. Instead of working from the top down, or the bottom up, I will work primarily from the middle out, understanding everything in terms of mind. Modern, complexity-theoretic psychology will be used as a bridge between the traditionally separate realms of science and the spirit.
Mind will be a central theme in these pages, so it is perhaps worth noting that the interplay between levels of being in the discipline of psychology is particularly complex. On the one hand, there are areas of psychology such as behaviorism, and neuroscience, which are entirely focussed on the physical world. Pursued narrowly, these parts of psychology can be revoltingly reductionist. For example, some behaviorists have taught that the mind does not exist: that the only reality humans have is on the annamaya, physical level. And some neuroscientists teach that mind is brain: that what we are, fundamentally, is a lump of neurons, seething with chemicals. These points of view are absurd and insulting, and are widely recognized as such by other psychologists.
But there are other areas of psychology, such as cognitive and personality psychology, which are far more accepting of different orders of experience. These areas of psychology arebased on constructing abstract models of thought and feeling. These models are evaluated based on empirical data, but also based on inner intuition, i.e. based on direct comparison with human experiences on the Body and Mind levels of being. This aspect of mental modelling is not often explicitly emphasized: it is said that a certain mental model is "elegant" or "natural," rather than that it matches up with personal experience. But there is no doubt that, in practice, comparison with inner experience is the major factor guiding the construction and judgement of abstract psychological models.
Finally, there is transpersonal psychology, the psychology of spiritual experience. Here one has abstract models that pertain to the higher levels of being, as well as just feeling and thinking. These models are judged based on a combination of empirical, physical evidence, and comparison with direct experience of the higher levels of being, Intuition and Bliss . At the present time, transpersonal psychology is not a very well developed area of research. But one can expect to hear much more from it in the future.
My own work in theoretical psychology, as mentioned above, has involved the construction of a very general mathematical and conceptual model of the structure of mind, which I call the psynet model. The psynet model portrays the mind as a network of interacting, intercreating pattern/processes, giving rise to two emergent, large-scale structures: an hierarchical perception-control structure, and an heterarchical associative memory structure. Thoughts, feelings, perceptions and actions, are viewed as "attractors" or self-organizing subsystems of this dually-structured system.
In terms of philosophy of mind, the psynet model fits very neatly into the hierarchical view of the universe. It views the mind as a collection of emergent patterns, patterns emergent in the brain and related body systems. It speaks of manomaya, and the emergence of manomaya from pranamaya. Rather than reducing the one level to the other, it understands the nature of the hierarchy of emergence.
The psynet model accounts for a variety of neurobiological and psychological data; and it also fits in very naturally with the more general map of the world being presented here. The individual mind, which is the middle levels of the hierarchy of being, is in fact a sort of microscopic image of the entire hierarchy. And for this reason, the same concepts which have been useful for understanding the structure of the individual mind, are also useful for understanding the structure of the universe as a whole.
A metaphor which captures the role of psychology in the present study of the universe is the "Great Smoky Dragon." A Great Smoky Dragon is an animal whose middle section is entirely obscured by smoke. Its tail is sharp and clear, and its mouth is vividly apparent, but no one can see what's inbetween.
Through science, we can see one end of the universe -- the "bottom end," where mind interfaces with brain function andeasily replicable behaviors. Through spiritual practice, we can see the other end of the universe -- the "top end," where mind loses its individuality and merges with the All. But the middle, the essence of ordinary human mind and experience, remains obscure.
This book is intended as a gust of wind aimed at the Great Smoky Dragon of the the universe. And it must be emphasized that the unveiling of the Great Smoky Dragon -- the unification of scientific and spiritual views of the world -- is not a purely intellectual project. It is a project of deep personal significance for me, and potentially, I feel, for others as well. By understanding the true unity of science and spirit, we become more able to empower and enliven the spiritual and scientific sides of ourselves.
So, finally, to summarize the relation between science and wisdom in a general way, one might say that, whereas wisdom seeks an understanding of the whole, and works down to the parts from the whole, science seeks an understanding of the parts, and works up to the whole from the parts. Neither approach is complete, in that the whole does not yield a thorough explanation of the parts, while the parts do not yield a thorough explanation of the whole. This directional difference -- top-down versus bottom-up -- is explained very nicely in terms of the hierarchy of being. Western science achieves by empiricism what Eastern religions achieve by spirituality: an escape from the domination of emotional thought-complexes, resident in the middle level of being. For historical and cultural reasons, these two strategies for avoiding middle-level domination have been seen as mutually exclusive, but this is not necessarily the case. It is possible to bring the two together.
THE BATTLE OF SCIENCE AND RELIGION
I have talked a great deal about the schism between science and spirit. The Vedantic sheaths, we have seen, are useful in confronting this issue; they give us a new view of the basic difference between science and spirituality. One works from the bottom up, the other from the top down. One reveres physical evidence, considering individual insights irrelevant. The other reveres individual insights, considering physical evidence irrelevant.
Today, the schism between science and spirit is closing, though in challenging and non-obvious ways. In the future, if my extrapolations are correct, it will close even further. In the following chapters I will explore these issues in detail. Before rushing on, however, it may be worthwhile to pause for a moment and look back at the history of the situation -- to ask how the present rejoining of science and spirit has come about, and why it didn't come about sooner. This is, for obviousreasons, an issue of utmost importance for all of us.
What was it about science and spirituality that caused the two to separate, and then make motions toward rejoining? The answer to this question lies, I believe, in the historical conflicts between early scientists and the Christian church.
We must go back at least half a millenium, to the origins of modern science with such figures as Galileo and Copernicus. These men of genius devoted themselves with all their might to the task of understanding the universe. They observed the world around them, and painstakingly studied the thoughts of those who had come before them. They carried their questions around with them for years and years, developing awesome powers of concentration. Finally they came to their conclusions. And instead of being celebrated for seeing deeply into the structure of the universe, they were threatened with death -- by the Church. "What you have discovered," they were told, "goes against the way of God. You must recant or die."
Consider, for example, the Church's dispute with Galileo. The Church was absolutely committed to the view that the earth was the center of the universe. The earth, unmoving, was the center around which the sun, planets and stars moved. Heavenly bodies lives on spheres, centered around the earth, and at the outer sphere was Heaven. Galileo pointed out that the things we see in the sky -- for instance, the apparent movements of the planets -- are much better explained by the assumption that the earth moves around the sun. The Church said, basically: Ignore the world you see around you, and listen to the Truth as God has revealed it to the Church fathers.
The Church was willing to allow Galileo a partial victory. They didn't demand that he claim his theory was entirely false. They just wanted him to admit that, although his theory was for some mysterious reason a good method for predicting the movements of lights in the sky, the theory didn't represent underlying reality. They wanted him to recant his idea that the lights in the sky were caused by actual objects, which had the same kind of existence as the earth and objects on the earth. They wanted him to affirm their own God-based cosmology, the theory of celestial spheres. But this wasn't enough for Galileo -- and it shouldn't have been enough for him. On a certain level, it's true that science doesn't speak about underlying realities; it only recognizes patterns, gives us algorithms for predicting things. But we need to be able to construct conceptual models, ways of thinking about the world, and pass them on to others. The Church wanted to prevent Galileo from doing that -- from constructing an intuitive understanding and passing it on to others. They wanted him to falsely represent his theory as a method of predicting the movements of elements within the celestial spheres -- a representation which would have made his theory far less sensible, and far less useful to future scientists.
In fact, it is not outlandish to claim that, if Galileo's theory had been passed on to others as "only a method for predicting" of the movement of lights in the sky, and others had accepted it that way, then Newtonian physics would never have come about, and the whole progression of modern science would never have happened. For, while Newtonian astronomy is a fairlybig step from Galilean astronomy, it is an unimaginably large leap from the theory of celestial spheres. Science depends on the progressive accumulation of conceptual models, and the Church was too committed to its own very particular conceptual model of the world to allow this process to occur.
The Church was on one side; systematic observation and human intuition on the other. The Church won, in the short term. Galileo and many others were executed. But in the long run, observation, intuition and experience were vindicated. Now that we have sent satellites near the sun and the planets, robots to Mars and men to the moon, even the Catholic church has recognized its error. A few years ago the Pope apologized for the murder of Galileo.
More recently, a similar but less bloody controversy has erupted in regard to evolution theory. At this very moment, the theory of evolution by natural selection is rejected by Christian fundamentalists, as going against the word of God. "The world was created 6000 years ago," they say. "Never mind the results of carbon-14 dating, the fossil record, the cosmic background radiation measured by astrophysicists. Never mind the evidence for the emergence of new species, as gathered by Darwin and thousands of others since. All this evidence was placed there by God 6000 years ago."
Of course, it is possible that all this evidence was placed there by God 6000 years ago. Just as it is possible that life is just a dream, or that we are all brains in a vat, experiencing a false reality induced by a mad scientist's electromagnetic apparatus. These are real possibilities, and I take them quite seriously. I am not joking. But what is most notable here is the Church's complete lack of regard for the scientific perspective. Science does not attempt to establish anything as absolutely true. It merely identifies the best assumptions for explaining the evidence at hand. Based on these assumptions, it makes new hypotheses, and guides the construction of technology. Regardless of what the absolute truth regarding the origin of the universe is, there are many good reasons for studying evolution theory. It helps us to make sense of the world as we see it.
In its consistent opposition to science, the Christian church has set itself up against experience. It tells us to ignore what we observe around us, what scientists observe in the field and the laboratory, in favor of a dogmatic, received truth. Today this attitude on the part of the church is relatively irrelevant to the practice of science, except in rare cases such as evolution theory. In past centuries, however, this attitude was a huge obstacle in the way of scientific progress.
This historical background is extremely relevant to the present day. The skeptical, deprecating attitude of many branches of science toward spiritual experience must be understood in this historical light. The Church suppressedscience, and presented itself as a force contrary to direct observation. It treated science as an enemy. It created a war -- and then it lost the war which it created. Today's world, particularly in developed countries, is dominated by science and technology, not by the Church. And science, having learnt the lesson that religion is its enemy, has followed the maxim "an eye for an eye." For the most part, it has proceeded as though spiritual insights into the world were useless and invalid. The ironic thing is that, proceeding rigorously in this way, it has ultimately come to validate many aspects of spiritual insight.
Hounded from the start by religious dogmatists, science has developed an "empiricist" view of the world, according to which the only valid form of truth is the statistical regularity extracted from replicable experiments. "Do experiments in such a way that others can copy them, verifying your results. Extract patterns from the data the experiments provide, using mathematics and statistics. This is the only form of truth; everything else is mumbo-jumbo." As stressed above, this extreme view has never been adopted by all scientists, but it is a part of the culture of science. It is implicit in the publication guidelines of all scientific journals. Whatever individual scientists may believe in their off-hours, when they put on their scientist caps, they feel a very strong pressure to adopt a strict empiricist point of view.
As also noted above, however, the benefit of empiricism is its ability to overcome emotional thought-complexes. This power holds up even when the thought-complexes involved are induced by science itself. And it is this very power of science to overcome itself that lies at the root of what we see happening today: a reunification of science and spirituality. Working within its strict empiricist perspective, science has uncovered vast amounts of information speaking against a strict empiricist view of the universe. Quantum physicists have discovered that observing the universe disturbs and creates it. Biologists have discovered that organisms and ecosystems are complex, self-organizing wholes, with properties that cannot easily be detected in replicable experiments. Psychologists have discovered that, in fact, the models of mind created by non-scientific wisdom traditions are remarkably accurate. Psychophysicists have shown that the objective world is at least partly an illusion, that the world we consciously perceive is actually constructed by the brain.
And so, more and more, the universe is viewed as a richly interdependent system, a deeply unified whole. The control of mind over body, and over external reality, are increasingly acknowledged. More and more stress is laid on the emergence of high-level, abstract forms and patterns, not immediately derivable from regularities in low-level data. The animist view of consciousness, which holds that every element of the world has a spark of awareness, becomes more scientifically viable than any of the alternatives. In so many different ways, the scientific universe becomes a living world.
This is not to say, however, that science is leading us backto a religious dogmatism of the form practiced by the Catholic church. Far from it. What is happening is rather -- as I will argue in the next chapter -- that science is leading us back to the more fundamental, experience-based spirituality that was the original root of Christianity and other organized religions. Science is leading us toward a world-view that is consistent with amny aspects of ancient Chinese and Indian philosophy, of shamanic practice, and of early Gnostic Christianity.
The story of the emergence of the Catholic Church may be of some relevance here. It is not often remembered that, following the death of Christ, there was a vast variety of different Christian sects. Some believed in the Resurrection as an actual phenomenon, others only as an ecstatic vision. Some were egalitarian and non-sexist, allowing female priests, or having no priests at all. Most were explicitly "gnostic," meaning that they were based on gnosis, or direct knowledge of the divine. Some taught that each individual should rely on their own knowledge of the divine. Others were more hierarchical in nature, teaching that individuals should rely on the superior knowledge of the divine possessed by their religious leaders. Of all these different sects, the one which survived was the one that was the least egalitarian, the most sexist and hierarchical; the least focused on individual spiritual experience, the most focused on dogmatic acceptance of the teachings of leaders. This sect turned into the Catholic Church -- and set about systematically destroying all the teachings of Christ which were not consistent with its beliefs. The New Testament as it is known today is a carefully prepared dogmatic document, omitting the Book of Mary and many other gospels which were available in the early centuries A.D. Some of these lost gospels were unearthed in the 1940's at Nag Hammadi, in Egypt; and these are extremely revealing. They show a side of Jesus which the Catholic Church has been careful to suppress: a Jesus who teaches that "the Kingdom of God is here and now." A Jesus who teaches that he, and God, are equally present in every part of the universe: "Split a stick and I am there."
So, the same Church which, at its time of origin, cast out individual spiritual experience in favor of dogmatism -- this same Church went on to suppress real-world, scientific experience in favor of dogmatism. The message was the same in both cases: "What you yourself observe and experience, in the inner or outer world -- that is not important. The important thing is what we tell you the truth is." This attitude is anathema to science, It is also anathema to individual spiritual exploration, as demonstrated by the Church's treatment of Christian mystics such as Meister Eckhart. However, the attitude of the early Gnostic Christians was much more friendly to experimentation and exploration of all kinds. It was based on inner observation, inner experimentation. Just as science is based on outer observation, outer experimentation.
In the end, both science and spirituality are based on careful, focused attention. Science is based on careful attention to the properties of the outside world. Spirituality is based on careful attention to the inner world. Spiritual traditions based on individual experience, such as Gnostic Christianity, shamanic traditions, Sufism, Taoism and certainvarieties of Buddhism (to give just a few examples), fit in fairly naturally with science, due to a common focus on attentiveness and exploration. There is no conflict between, on the one hand, attending to the lower levels of being and working up, and, on the other hand, attending to the upper levels of being and working down. It is only the more dogmatic and socially repressive varieties of religion that have a conflict with science.
Despite the rather harsh historical facts, however, one should not fall into a "good guys - bad guys" view of the history of science and spirituality. One should not be too quick to condemn the Church for creating this artificial schism between science and spirituality. For, after all, there is another side to the matter: It was only in the Western world, dominated as it was by the Christian church, that modern science and technology came into existence. Other religious traditions, as in the Orient, were less judgemental of scientific inquiry -- but they also fostered cultures in which scientific inquiry was far less productive.
Traditional Indian and Chinese science are deep and profound, and in some areas they achieved insights unequalled in Western science. With all due respect, however, it is clear that they lack a certain conceptual fluidity and pragmatic generative power. Western science, with its greater attitude of objectivity, has continually led to improvements in technology, which in turn have led to better scientific instruments, which in turn have led to advancements in scientific theory, etc. This kind of intimate science/engineering link was never established anywhere outside the Western, Christian world. And one suspects that the reason for this is precisely that, in non-Christian cultures, scientific investigation was closely tied to spiritual and philosophical beliefs. Chinese science is not easily separable from Chinese philosophy and religion; there is much less trouble making this distinction in the history of the West. By rejecting scientific experience, Christianity cut science free, and left it open to develop unconstrainedly, in whatever direction it might. Of course, it would have been better if Christianity had somehow cut science free without murdering and oppressing scientists. But this does not seem to have occurred anywhere in the world, and may not have been a viable psychosocial possibility.
In fact, one may go even further, and argue that the general Christian mind-set made positive contributions to science. In its dogmatism and its emphasis on the "one God", the "one Truth," Christianity unwittingly set scientists on a course toward grand unified theories and principles. The progress of physics toward more and more comprehensive theories of the universe has been partially reviewed above. Newton revealed gravity as a principle underlying both the motions of heavenly bodies and the falling of objects toward the ground here on earth. Mendeleev, in his periodic table of the elements, uncovered simple constituents whose combination could yield every observable substance. Faraday and Maxwell brought electricity and magnetism under acommon framework. Einstein showed that gravity and acceleration were one and the same. The "standard model" of modern physics explains everything except gravity (electromagnetism and strong and weak nuclear forces) in one elegant equation. And hundreds of scientists throughout the world are hot on the trail of the Grand Unified Theory of physics -- the one equation that will summarize everything we know about the cosmos, in a formula you can wear on your T-shirt.
This quest for an ultimate equation is probably ultimately misguided. Once we bring gravity into the fold of the standard model, who is to say that some brand new force won't be discovered -- or some new phenomenon which requires us to generalize or cast aside the very notion of force? The nineteenth-century physicists were too quick to declare the universe understood; we should not make the same mistake. But even if the quest for an ultimate equation is in a sense misguided, it has been very productive nonetheless. Even if we never reach a truly Supreme Unified Theory, the process of unifying has led to many very important insights. And this whole strain in modern science is somehow very Christian -- certainly very un-Chinese. It would seem that the underlying spirit of Christianity has, in some sense, proved very useful for science -- despite the hostility of Christianity to science, on the explicit level.
My final historical conclusion is, then, that the separation of science from spirituality was necessary -- necessary in order that science could develop to the point it has today. Science is like a child who had to leave his home town for a few years, in order to develop into an adult. Once an adult, he can return home happily. Science is now mature. Science can return home now and takes its place with the rest of human experience. It is in the process of doing so. We can help it along. This book is a small part of the process.
Toward a Unified Culture
There has never been a culture in which advanced science has been unified with advanced spirituality, in an balanced way. In archaic, shamanic cultures, science was poorly developed. In Chinese and Indian cultures, science was there and was magnificent, but it was in the service of spirituality and philosophy, and was limited because of this. In Western culture, on the other hand, we have this large and painful schism between the two, with science increasingly dominant.
Just because a true, egalitarian synthesis of science and spirituality has never been achieved, however, doesn't mean that it is not possible. Thinking in terms of the levels of being, one can easily see how such a thing might come about.
It is evident that the strong empirical emphasis of Western science has been extremely important for its development. But what, exactly, is the reason for this importance? Why has empiricism been necessary? The answer is, as suggested above, to avoid the negative influence of human emotion on the progress of science. The pranamaya level, in its connection with the manomaya level, gives people strong emotional connections to their ideas and beliefs. The empirical focus of science servesto detach people from these emotional connections; it forces them to give up their ideas even if they are attached to them.
However, spiritual advancement may be seen to achieve exactly the same thing. In many wisdom traditions there is a focus on precisely the transcendence of one's emotional belief-systems, and the achievement of a greater "objectivity." One sees, on careful consideration, that both science and advanced spirituality are methods for untying the mental knots that are fastened by the middle levels of the hierarchy of being. Science focuses particularly on those thought-complexes concerned with the physical world, and scientific data; whereas spiritual traditions focus particularly on those thought-complexes concerned with one's own person, one's social relations, and one's body.
In order to have a science truly synthesized with spirituality, then, one would need to have a scientific community that consciously differentiated forms emanating from the higher levels, from anandamaya and vignanamaya, from mere biases and thought-complexes emanating from pranamaya and manomaya. Higher intuitions would not be dismissed as if they were mere personal biases, or unproductive, self-producing belief systems. The trouble, of course, is that this kind of distinction is extremely difficult to make; the ability to make such distinctions comes only with long and intense spiritual practice. But it is easy to imagine that, if society as a whole were to become more spiritually aware, such a spiritually sensitive science might emerge of its own accord.