Definition of ‘Research’:
Research is defined as the systematic study of materials and sources in order to establish facts and reach new conclusions (The Oxford Dictionary).
Research is defined as human activity based on intellectual application in the investigation of matter. The primary aim for applied research is discovering, interpreting, and developing new methods and systems for the advancement of human knowledge on a wide variety of scientific matters of our world and the universe. Research can use the scientific method, but does not need to do so. (Wikipedia, 2008)
1. Introduction to research
Everyday millions of dollars are spent on research across various disciplines. Mankind has been the beneficiary of various comforts and material advancements as a result of this research. Modern research has not only made us more aware of our surroundings but also provided us the intrinsic knowledge that has in turn led to some critical inventions and discoveries. These inventions and discoveries have changed the way we live. For example:
- We don’t have to watch our children die from malaria; medical science now has a cure for it.
- The telephone allows us to communicate with our families, friends and associates across continents.
- The jet airliner transports us from place to place in a fraction of the time that our forefathers travelled the same distance.
- Crop yields per square meter of land have greatly increased due to advanced agricultural techniques.
Yet, from a spiritual perspective there is futility in the above-mentioned research. In the subsequent paragraphs we will explain the reasons for this bold statement.
2. A few concepts
At the outset we need to understand a few spiritual concepts:
1. The basic purpose of life:
If we look at our lives, all our activities are fundamentally either about gaining some form of happiness or reducing pain. Most of us try to achieve happiness by engaging our five senses, mind and intellect. This may be by obtaining a new product, getting into a relationship or employing oneself in one’s work.
Accordingly we set a number of worldly goals in our life in search of this elusive happiness. The following is a typical list of the various things one would like to do in one’s lifetime.
Unfortunately whatever our worldly efforts are and even if we achieve them, lasting and supreme happiness remains as elusive as ever.
From a spiritual perspective the only purpose of life is:
- To undergo destiny, i. e. to complete the give-and-take account we have with various people.
- To make spiritual progress with the final aim of merging with God and therefore getting out of the continuous cycle of birth and death. When we progress spiritually and merge with God, we get the experience of Bliss which is a quality of God. Bliss is the ultimate form of happiness. It is of the highest order and is not dependent on any external stimuli.
Progressing spiritually means transcending/dissolving the 5 senses, mind and intellect and identifying with the God Principle or the soul within us. This is the main purpose of why we are born.
Refer to the article – What is the purpose of life?
2. The Great Illusion
The Great Illusion (Maya, Māyā) refers to the created universe. While most of us consider the world around us to be real, it is a mistake, although a natural one, to believe that Maya represents a fundamental reality or the Truth. The Absolute Truth (Sat) is God Who is unchanging and resides in each of us as the soul. The veil of Maya traps us into believing that everything we perceive with our five senses, mind and intellect is in fact the Truth.
Maya may be understood as the phenomenal universe of perceived duality, a lesser reality-lens superimposed on the unity of Brahmā which is the Supreme God Principle.
Everything in Maya is subject to change, i.e., everything in it goes through creation, sustenance and destruction. Everything in Maya is devoid of Bliss and that which is devoid of Bliss cannot be eternal. Only God is eternal and Bliss is an experience associated with the God Principle. If we base our happiness on anything in Maya, our happiness is always short-lived as the very nature of Maya is change. Therefore our happiness will always be based on a target that is constantly changing.
On the other hand, the soul or the God Principle within us is eternal and not subject to change. Once we transcend our five senses, mind and intellect and experience the soul within, we experience Bliss.
Refer to article – How does one gain access to the Bliss from the soul?
3. Spiritual Knowledge
Knowledge or spiritual knowledge is the knowledge that pertains to the experience of the God Principle. It is endowed with an inner radiance of its own. It has the inherent quality of dispelling darkness or ignorance of the Truth. The Truth is experiencing that we are all part of the God Principle and not individuals in Maya.
3. Why is research futile?
We will now look at the reasons why modern research is futile.
- Not aligned with the basic purpose of life: Once we have understood that the basic purpose of life is to realise God or to experience the soul within us then all our efforts need to be aligned with this. Unfortunately all research conducted in current times is related to Maya and not towards experiencing the God Principle or soul in all of us. Therefore this type of research does not lead us to the ultimate Truth that is the experience of the God Principle within us. As a result, it is detrimental as it is not aligned with the basic purpose of life.
Ego: From a spiritual perspective, ego (aham) means considering oneself to be distinct from others and God due to identification with the physical body and impressions (sanskars) in various centres of the subtle body. In short ego is leading our life as per thinking that our existence is limited to our 5 senses, mind, and intellect and identifying with them to various degrees.
- Promotes Maya: All research carried out nowadays only fuels the notion that Maya is reality. Therefore it leads us away from the Truth that God is the only reality.
- Increase dependence on Maya: Research leads to inventions which only enhance our dependence on the five senses, mind and intellect. This in turn makes our ego (aham) more entrenched. Many inventions which we applauded are now causing us harm on a global scale for e.g. plastic waste, genetically altered food, atomic bomb, etc.
- Does not take into account the spiritual dimension: Modern research does not take into account the spiritual dimension which is the main reason why we have problems in life. For example on average 40% of the reasons a person becomes an addict is because of root causes in the spiritual dimension. Please refer to the article – Spiritual causes of addictions.
- Spiritual practice can enhance research: If one attains communion with God through spiritual practice, then one can obtain answers to any kind of questions in a fraction of time from the Universal Mind and Intellect. This would save billions of dollars in resources as well as research time.
One may argue that by providing humanity with the smallpox vaccine, modern science research provided cure, relief and happiness to many people. While this is true, the happiness and state of mind that we are referring to here is temporary. As per our destiny we have to experience a certain amount of happiness or pain that is unique to each one of us. These units of happiness or pain are independent of any discovery or invention made by modern science. If a person has to go through a certain amount of unhappiness due to destiny then all the discoveries or inventions in the world will not cushion him from the pain. Pain suffered due to destiny is a spiritual problem. The only thing that nullifies destiny or gives one the strength to bear it is spiritual practice.
4. The limitations of ‘Research’
- Provides only momentary happiness: The word ‘Research’ is related to modern science. It can give a being only temporary happiness. The reason for this is that it encompasses only that can be understood with the help of five senses, mind and intellect. Since the mind and intellect are a part of this perishable body, so ‘Research’ too is applicable to us for a limited span.
- Impermanent: Every aspect of Maya undergoes the three phases of creation, sustenance and destruction. As a result, any outcome of modern research will be for a limited time period.
5. Advantages of practising Spirituality
- Move towards the basic purpose of life: By practising Spirituality a person gains access to soul knowledge and experiences Bliss and moves towards the basic purpose of life.
- The acquisition of real knowledge: According to spiritual science acquiring real knowledge means going beyond the word ‘Research’, searching for the eternal Divine universe and understanding the eternal universal thought therein. Acquiring knowledge means understanding the universe, which is beyond the mind and intellect and is devoid of ‘i’ ness or ego. This understanding which is full of Divinity purifies the intellect. Once the ‘i-ness’ dissolves, the being experiences inner Bliss. The Truth about the eternity of life dawns and this is known as ‘Realisation of the Truth’.
- Overcoming problems in life: By practising Spirituality we are able to overcome problems in life where the root cause is spiritual in nature. Up to 80% of our problems in life have a spiritual root cause. No amount of modern research can shield us from the pain that we need to undergo due to destiny. The only thing that can help us is spiritual practice. Refer to the aticle – Spiritual root causes of difficulties in life
- Ability to conduct spiritual research: After one practices Spirituality one’s sixth sense begins to grow. As one becomes spiritually evolved one gains uninterrupted access to the Universal Mind and Intellect and is therefore able to conduct spiritual research. Spiritual research unlike modern research takes into account the physical, psychological and spiritual realms.
- The spiritually evolved: People who are spiritually evolved live very simple lives without the benefits and inventions of modern research and yet they experience Bliss as a result of their spiritual practice.
6. Comparison between Research and Spirituality
The following table gives a quick comparison between research and the practice of Spirituality.
|Experience||Limited to the five senses, mind and intellect||Experience of the soul i.e. the God Principle in us|
|Type of knowledge||Relative knowledge, subject to time, place, etc.||Absolute knowledge as it pursues the understanding of the God Principle which is absolute|
|Limitations of the knowledge||Entangles one in a web of words||Goes beyond words to experience Divinity|
|Boredom||Boredom will set in after the knowledge is acquired||Boredom does not set in as one experiences more and more Bliss|
|Type of happiness||Provides temporary happiness||Provides Bliss|
|Longevity of benefit||Helps only on Earth (Bhulok, Bhūlok)||Helps us on Earth and even in the afterlife|
|Source of knowledge||Generally limited to one’s own intellect||One is finally able to access the Universal Mind and Intellect|
|Alignment with the basic purpose of life?||Not aligned
Takes us away from the basic purpose of life i.e. realising God and enhances our dependence on Maya
Takes us towards the basic purpose of life