Perhaps the best way to broach this subject is by refreshing our memory on the term ‘natural science’, to then draw comparisons.
Natural science is defined as the observation and study of the physical world through the scientific method. The scientific method, as we may or may not recall from our High School science classes, is a 9-step process that can be broken down into the following:
The aim of natural science is to reach an accurate, precise and comprehensive understanding of the natural world that surrounds us and all of its physical properties. The aim of Spiritual science, on the other hand, is not the study of the physical world, but the understanding of what lies behind the veil of the senses.
The senses is everything that we can hear, see, touch, smell, and taste. In short, everything within the physical world. But there is also a spiritual reality that we cannot sense physically, and that is the reality of thoughts, feelings, and will.
Spiritual science aims to study our thought, feeling, and willing lives so that we gain awareness of ourselves. Awareness of our inner life is the first step in the refinement of our spiritual selves. Through this refinement, we reach higher states of consciousness.
The methods in spiritual science are relatively similar to the scientific method used in natural science.
We ask a question about our spiritual reality, such as: What effect does a reverential feeling/thought have in me?
We do background research, such as the definition of reverence (deep respect for someone or something), reverence as used and understood in religious movements (hare krishna, christian worship), etc., until we feel we have a grasp on the subject we are trying to approach. We construct a hypothesis, i.e.: the practice of reverence will help me develop higher cognitive faculties. Then we test our hypotheses by sitting down and focusing (thinking) on things that bring out the feeling of reverence in us, so that we can fully connect to it and thus study the effects it has on our soul.
For the religiously inclined, the focus of our reverential thoughts/feelings can be a deity. For the agnostics out there, the focus can be an abstraction, such as the ideal concept of truth, nobility, love, freedom, etc. In reality, it doesn’t matter to what we direct our thoughts and feelings, but rather that we connect with these thoughts and feelings, and genuinely seek to understand them.
We can’t expect results overnight. Our thinking, willing and feeling lives are so entrenched in their habitual modes of functioning that to truly revitalize and refine them will take a-lot of time and practice. Our inner reality will not be dramatically transformed by connecting to a reverential feeling once. A conscious, dedicated and routine practice should replace any desire to experiment or to achieve drastic changes in a short amount of time.
The most common trait between natural science and spiritual science is that we are our own teacher. Our physical experiments help us to gain understanding of the material world that surrounds us, and our spiritual experiments help us to understand both ourselves and the spiritual world. There is no one that tells us what we should expect from testing our hypotheses, rather, we must find out on our own.
The biggest difference between natural and spiritual science is the plane where these experiments take place. Natural experiments need outward interference. Spiritual experiments, on the other hand, require a total immersion in our inner life, so that we can connect with the spiritual world without the distraction of the physical world.
Of course if you’re a cynic you might think, what if I focus instead on negative thoughts and feelings, such as hatred? Well, do the experiment. The method is the same, only instead of a positive thought you will be focusing on a negative one. Venture a hypotheses as to what will happen to your soul life, if you will.
We can ask many questions regarding our thoughts, feeling and willing lives. Regarding our willpower, we can ask ourselves: What will be the effect in my soul life if I resolve to wake up early every day of the week, and follow through with my resolution? For this specific experiment to work, following through with it is very important.
For our feeling life, we can ask ourself, what will happen if instead of criticizing everything and everyone that crosses my path, I try to focus instead on their good qualities and the things in them worthy of admiration?
In these two examples, it’s easy to come up with hypotheses. If we wake up early every day of the week, we become more productive and energetic. If we focus on the good qualities of people and things instead on their bad ones, we become more understanding and compassionate. But coming up with a hypothesis or predicting a result is very different from actually going through with the experiment. We can only truly come to valid conclusions about our spiritual life if we connect with what is inside of us, that is, our thoughts and feelings. Not by intellectualizing the process or solely theorizing about the results.
The experimental methods in spiritual science are four:
By meditating, we are training ourselves to connect with the spiritual world, to that which lies beyond the senses, and with practice we slowly come to detach ourselves from the sense world.
“When a man gives up all varieties of sense desire which arise from mental concoction, and when his mind finds satisfaction in the Self alone, then he is said to be in pure transcendental consciousness.” – Sri Krishna (Bhagavad Gita)
When we observe both ourselves (our thoughts, feelings and actions) and the world (the thoughts, feelings and actions of others), we gain a clearer and more objective understanding of our inner and outer reality, and its consequences.
When we reflect on our actions and feelings and thoughts, we learn to look at ourself through the perspective of a third party, through the tranquility of a Judge, and can better assess ourselves and our lives, and the next steps to take.
Finally, through devotion to that which is higher than ourselves, we gain access to a deeper meaning in everything that would otherwise have been hidden from us.
All of these methods help refine our consciousness and elevate our soul so that we connect to the spirit, or to our Higher Self. This is the final aim of these experiments.
This is a very brief introduction to Spiritual Science. In upcoming posts, I will be blogging about the development of three distinct soul forces that help open our eyes to the spiritual world that surrounds us.