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The science of the future

Dr. Alok Pandey

Editor's Note

As the human cycle moves from an individualistic to a subjective phase, science also begins to shift its foundations and starts acknowledging subjective disciplines along with objective disciplines. This movement gets stronger till the veil between science and mysticism gets progressively dissolved, paving the way for the spiritual phase of the human cycle.

Traditional science has already reached the thresholds of the occult. Digging deep into matter, it has reached an outpost (or perhaps inpost) where the hard ground of physical matter and sensible world of phenomena seem to mysteriously collapse into a fathomless void. And yet this void seems to be pregnant with possibilities, as if teeming with an exciting new world where form melts into the formless and separate distinctions dissolve into an incalculable Unity. It is truly a crossroads on which science stands today. It has several choices to make now. It can choose to stay at this watershed zone and continue to draw as much strength and power of utility from here without actually entering this domain. Equally, it may choose to probe this vast unknown opening before its field of vision but approach it through means more appropriate for a study of our neatly packed ‘three-dimensional’ universe. In that case it may well pack up its bags and return empty handed or at most with some gems that lie scattered on the shores of the ocean of Infinity. Or else it may break itself free from the hypnosis of the hour and plunge into the blind alleys of matter and probe deeper but with appropriate instruments and methods.

But science in itself is a seeking and therefore, sooner or later, it is bound to enter into the inner domain. And after it fails in its initial methods of exploring the inner by means and methods appropriate to the outer, it is likely to turn for help to other ways and will be willing to try out other methods. It is presently true that science is too identified with the material surface, or rather the study of matter through material means; this has been accepted till now as the only means at our disposal to study and explore. This was also perhaps necessary so that it could stretch itself to the last limits of matter, oblivious of everything else.

But then there is a period for everything. The method used to educate a child is not necessarily the same (except in some of its fundamentals) as should be used to educate an older boy or man. Science too has come of age, passing from its early childhood when it probed the surface of things with the naked eye and crude senses to a raw adolescence which saw an amassing of inventions, queer experiments and development of equipment for probing deeper and further. Today’s science is the rash adventure of an unripe mind, the leaping of an unchastened intellect that jumps to premature conclusions based on its daring successes. But while the success stories are there for all to see, the stories of failure are glossed over: for example, over sixty years of failure at finding a single molecule of life from seemingly inert matter. Yet the hypothesis continues that life is just a certain combination of matter, a chemical reaction arising in the primal soup and nothing else. Let us hope that this tendency at drawing premature conclusions will be surpassed as science enters its adulthood. Otherwise it would keep mistaking the phenomenon and instruments for the thing in itself, much as a countryside herdsman may mistake a tape recorder for the source of songs and vocal apparatus for the source of speech or television set for the source of people and living beings. And so the modern scientist mistakes the brain for the mind and mistakenly and ignorantly believes that thought is primarily and only a physical event simply because the transmitting and receiving brain can produce certain images and thought-forms when stimulated in certain areas. The scientist fails to understand that the brain is not the originator but only an instrument that reproduces what it has received and transcribed from another source.

A new science

But let us suppose that this is only a passing phase and wisdom shall grow with age as it does in all endeavours. Science, even mainstream science, may enter a new phase of study and experimentation. Even if it does not, the Time-Spirit will inevitably awaken this new Science in man, and if it finds the main entrance closed, it may crash over it or open some side-gate or backdoor. Indeed we can see that happening all around us. A new science is stirring in the minds of men as ideas and images, thoughts and creative impulses. Its early voice and victories are already getting attention if not a full recognition. It is now just a matter of time until this new science will take over and beautifully complement the old. It shall enter where the old probe could not, it shall see and feel and hear the voice and wisdom of that which is timeless. It shall seek and find what lies hidden and carefully wrapped inside the shroud of matter. We have so far studied the shroud, its patterns and design, its fabric and form, its colour and texture, its possibilities and limitations. It is now time to see the body and soul of the wearer. It is time for a new challenge to be set before science.

What is that vision? We can roughly define it in the language of science in the following ways:

Handling matter by knowledge of material forces and material energies.

This is something that science has already achieved to a great extent although there are still many more conjuring tricks left in the great magician’s hat.

Handling matter by intermediary energies of life and mind.

The handling of living matter through the universal life-force called prāṇa in the ancient Indian tradition has already entered the arena through the backdoor in the form of neo-therapies such as reiki, prāṇic healing, acupuncture and working with the energy body, etc. The role of thought and emotions has already begun to explore the effect of mental energies on mentalised matter in man. Similarly, there is also now an increasing acceptance of the role of imagination and autosuggestion in the healing process. These are some examples of the action of life-energies and mind-energies on the physical body.

Handling ‘inanimate’* matter through vital and mental forces.

The martial arts often use this process when a strong brick is broken by the impact of the hand. The phenomenon of telekinesis is another case in point. Whatever it be, understanding is still in its infancy and needs more authentic reproduction. But once the process is found and perfected, we shall be only a step away in devising machines that are driven by thought or will, just as they are now driven by various forms of material energy. Imagine the potential of such a spacecraft, knowing the speed at which thought travels and the subtle regions of ether where it can go! Of course it also needs much more study in metallurgy to devise an alloy that is subtle and sensitive enough (through a bio-chip perhaps) to receive and transduce the mental will. With computers being increasingly upgraded, the prospect may not be so distant, perhaps just a few decades round the corner.

Handling life energies and mind energies through their conscious use.

Hypnosis is one method of handling mind-energies of the other person through one’s mental will and thereby influencing his bodily responses as one would one’s own. It is taking charge of another person’s body through his mind since the mind has a significant role to play in the body. One could directly set right emotional or other imbalances by readjusting the play of forces at subtle levels. Just as there are forces of illness such as fear and anxiety, so too there are forces of order and harmony. If one learns how to contact and handle them as one handles a game ball one could set things right so much more easily and directly. With the inner development of man this is bound to happen: this is the direction towards which all evolution is heading.

However, before this can be done in a proper way and not haphazardly, as is now happening in isolated pockets, there will be a need to study each of these domains separately as material science has studied matter thoroughly in its general principles and laws without caring for the other domains. Each level of consciousness and its energies has its pattern and mode of action, its set of laws and properties that can be studied, arranged in order, classified and applied. Thus if we were to study life-energies thoroughly we may discover, in the borderlands where the energy of life dips into matter, the secret of creating living forms out of material substance. One could also discover ways and means of temporarily charging a material object with a particular formation of life or thought and despatch it on an errand with a particular purpose, say of effectuating a cure. At the level of mind one could discover, for instance, the seed sounds that can rejuvenate life and thereby prolong longevity and youth. Such things may seem like science fiction today, but they are the reality of tomorrow. But then to arrive at some perfection would need time and a methodical and scrupulous study, almost a purifying austerity, for without that tapasyā life and mind will never reveal all their secrets. It is through the heat of tapas that one breaks the barriers that guard the gates of knowledge.

The eternal question

All this and much more is possible. Yet even after humanity has discovered all this the eternal question will still remain. Will it make life on earth better, will it improve man and his relationship with the world or make it worse? Without the austerity of an inner knowledge, the power that science provides through its inventions and applications is dangerous. Nature, obeying her own law of rewarding any sincere seeking, may yield her secrets to the seeker but the majority of mankind may not be ready for this. One shudders even at the thought of such greater powers passing into the hands of the unripe. Ultimately all this knowledge is merely the laws and processes of the cosmic Ignorance which are by their very nature transient and imperfect. The domains of mind and life are also the creation of the avidyamayī māyā the mother of division, out of whose dark womb the forces of Ignorance and evil spring. And what formidable forces these might be if marshalled and applied. Even at its best, science can at most influence our intellectual mode of thinking but a change of human heart is another matter, and our life’s obscure motives yet another! In itself science is unable to tear the veils of ego and release us into the true inner freedom of the Spirit. It can lay an intellectual foundation for that freedom but cannot provide it to us. It can make the veil of matter, that guards the face of the Eternal, less dense, but cannot remove it and uncover the deity whose luminous eyes uphold the flux of this ever-changing world of infinite forms and names. For this last victory we have to go beyond science to that Eternal Scientist who is labouring in the crypts of Matter to bring there the Light and Truth and Immortal’s Ānanda.

* Although there is nothing ‘inanimate’ to a deeper view.

Dr. Alok Pandey is a doctor practising at the Sri Aurobindo Ashram.

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