Sufi’s ontology, epistemology, cosmology and practice are pregnant with the idea of Light and its nature. A paper reviewed one of the lesser known work of one Sufi thinker (Shams al-Dîn al-Daylamî – 12th century), The Mirror of Souls, describing the nature of the soul as a subtle body.
In Sufism, the human soul and body are understood as a microcosm that reflected the organization of the macrocosm. In the depiction of Shams al-Dîn al-Daylamî, the faculties of the soul are presented under the shape of concentric circles, referring to each faculty as a world.
One of the champion of the dialogue between Science and Traditions was John Charlton Polkinghorne (1930-2021). He was at the crossroad of both, devoting his life to mathematics and quantum physics (Cambridge), and at the same time studying theology (Anglican Theological College). He was able to reconcile the creation of the universe by God, and the evolutionary and autonomous world that we witness.
This article is a resume of his thesis, combining “natural theology” and ‘theology of nature” with science. Its conclusion states that :
“a world created by a loving and faithful God will be characterized by both openness of chance and a regularity of necessity. The openness of chance in this universe is expressed through quantum in-determinism, chaos theory, and the role of the mind in human activity. The necessity, in turn, can be indicated, for example, in the regularity of natural laws.”
A ceaseless conflict between science and religion seems to have always been there in public consciousness. It may have given birth to scientism – only the science can generate knowledge or rational belief. A study, analyzing specific myths related to the history of Christianity and Science, reached the conclusion that the real conflict is not between Science and Christianity, but rather between scientism and religion.
Bali (Indonesia) textual traditions was built long time ago with a mixture of Hinduism which were brought more than one thousand years ago in the Island. It is a blending of Samkhya, Yoga, and Advaita Vedanta, three of the six Darshanas of Old India. This combination of dualist and monist approaches is synthesized in the Aji Sangkya, a recent compilation (1947). A new analysis of this tradition was published as a comparative study between the various Hinduisms on which it is based. It highlights the process of creation with the tattvas, which has a lot of parallels with the theosophical constitution of man.
Swami Vivekananda claims that the four yogas – Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Raja-Yoga and Jnana-Yoga – are independent and equally effective paths to Self-realization and liberation from the cycle of rebirth. Ultimately, there are as many yogas as many individuals beings seeking liberation. He said that “The ultimate goal of all mankind, the aim and the end of all religions, is but one-re-union with God, or, what amounts to the same, with the divinity which is every man’s true nature.” A recent paper discusses and explains this diversity leading to unity.
Remaining in control of oneself at the moment of death and influencing one’s future incarnation was thoroughly experimented, analyzed and codified in Taoist literature. A comparative study with the Tibetan esoteric Buddhism revealed many similarities on near-death meditation practices and other practices like phowa (transfer of conscience) and tummo (inner heat generation). The whole process enables the practitioner to let out his/her immortal inner spirit at the moment of death of the body.
The Tibetan Book of the Dead, one of the most detailed and compelling descriptions of the after-death state in world literature, says in its conclusion to the chapter on The Great Liberation by Hearing, that : “By acting correctly, yogis with high realization will successfully effect the transference of consciousness at the moment of death, and, being spared the necessity of having to wander through the intermediate states, will attain liberation in an ascending and core-penetrating manner.“
Scientist community is often considered as anti-religion or at best atheist. Hundred of years in recent history left the feeling of a lack of religiosity in scientists’ approach and a strong tension between the two worlds. This overall vision came mainly from the Western world. A new study shows that such an attitude is influenced by national contexts, even when Science is operating as global field across national boundaries. This survey, based on interviews with Indian scientists, highlights a rising understanding of the differences between religion and spirituality, and it identifies that “those who believe Science and religion are not in conflict focus more on discipline and ethical guidelines”.
Mme Blavatsky (Secret Doctrine, Vol. I, p. 477 – Addenda to Book I) stated that : “So far as Science remains as “organized common sense”; so far as its inferences are drawn from accurate premise – its generalizations resting on purely inductive basis – every Theosophist and Occultist welcomes respectfully and with due admiration its contributions to the domain of cosmological laws. There can be no possible conflict between the teachings of the occult and so-called exact Science, where the conclusions of the latter are grounded on a substratum of unassailable fact.”
More than one billion of people subscribe worldwide to the concept of Karma. A new study analyzed the consequences in terms of moral and social behaviors, compared to non-karma related religious groups like Christians. It suggests that religious beliefs impact how we think about moral norms and that, for example, different religious beliefs promote different generosity norms.
Mme Blavatsky wrote (The Key to Theosophy, 1889) : ” We consider Karma as the Ultimate Law of the Universe, the source, origin and fount of all other laws which exist throughout Nature. Karma is the unerring law which adjusts effect to cause, on the physical, mental and spiritual planes of beings. As no cause remains without its due effect from greatest to least, from a cosmic disturbance down to the movement of your hand, and as like produces like, Karma is that unseen and unknown law which adjusts wisely, intelligently and equitably each effect to its cause, tracing the latter back to its producer. Though itself unknowable, its action is perceivable. “
Science and Religions both offer explanations for the world and for human experience. When an observation in Science or a dogma in Religion cannot be explained by reason, it is called “a mystery”; and Science and Religion are differentially tolerant of absent explanations.
A recent published paper proposes a comparative analysis of both approaches. The study concludes that: “In Science, unanswered questions are judged to stand in need of explanation, while in religion, participants are often content to leave unanswered questions as mysteries.”
Philosophers and scientists have been discussing opposition and intersection between Religion and Science domains for centuries. An anthropologist and ethnographer studied the relationships between the two, using the example of space science and its correlation with Japanese Buddhism. He reached the conclusion that tension or conflict between Science and Religion is a product of Western academic practices, linked to monotheistic religions. This conclusion is not assumed in Japanese discourses on the world. In that Tradition, Buddhism and Science are considered fundamentally compatible, our world being understood in terms of causal relationships and interconnectedness. In that context, potential for extra-terrestrial life is not considered adversarial to Religion.
The Amritasiddhi, an Ancient Indian Tradition text from the 11th-12th century, is presenting the occult physiology of man, and practices to enhance longevity.
This study paper highlights similar teachings in the later Buddhist Tradition (Vajrayana), specially linked to the Esoteric Buddhism as embodied in the Kalachakra Tradition.
Subtle centers – Chakras, subtle energies – Pranas, and subtle drops – Bindus, are the main components of this Eastern alchemy which leads the Buddhist disciple to the awakening and finally to the perfected state – Mahamudra.
The core of monotheistic religions, like Sufism, the mystics of Christianity, and the kabbalists of Judaism have a lot of common values as their foundations. This mystic hybridity has been studied and a paper was published in Dec. 2019, describing “shared space and common ground” between them. One of the key conclusion is that “love is the moral seed from which the spiritual traditions emanate“, and that “the concept of love finds its roots in the theosophies of Gregory of Nyssa and of the medieval theologian known as Pseudo-Dionysos“.
One of the latest theory on Gravitation (Quantum Gravity) is displaying a deep connection with Taoist Cosmology. A paper published by Steven M. Rosen proposes a comparison between some of the key concepts of both theories. Emphasis is put on similarities between Symmetry Breaking in Modern Physics (Strings Theory) and the Yin-Yang mechanism in Taoism. The proposed model includes the evolution of elementary particles through cycles of expansion and contraction of a spiraling universe.
A new study published in Current Biology reveals that religious belief has a negative influence on children’s altruism and judgments of other’s actions. The survey covers some of the monotheistic religions only (Christian’s and Moslem’s). This study report was later on retracted from publication, but can still be accessed here.
Madame Blavastky wrote an article in The Theosophist, Vol. V, N° 2 (1883) about morality and religion : “Exoteric religions base their morality on the hope of reward and fear of punishment at the hands of an Omnipotent Ruler of the Universe by following the rules he has at his pleasure laid down for the obedience of his helpless subjects; in some cases, however, religions of later growth have made morality to depend on the sentiment of gratitude to that Ruler for benefits received. The worthlessness, not to speak of the mischievousness, of such systems of morality, is almost self-evident.”
Brazil and Japan Least Restrictive Towards Religions; Russia and Egypt Most Restrictive
In a study by Pew Research Centers among the 25 most populous countries in the world, Brazil, Japan, South Africa, Ethiopia and the Philippines were the countries with the least restrictions and social hostilities towards religions. The survey was based on 2015 data. Russia, Egypt, India, Pakistan and Nigeria on the other hand, had the most restrictions and social hostilities.
“In India, for example, some state governments restricted religious conversion and others ban cow slaughter,” says the report.