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I must admit that, though I admire Carl Sagan and the legacy he bequeathed to us in terms of popularizing scientific exploration and research for a larger audience, I didn’t realize he had spoken these words during his lifetime. I happen to agree wholeheartedly! But I understand why there may be some misgivings about mixing up science and spirituality…

I think that part of what is tricky about all this is getting your definitions straight: it’s all a matter of what means what, how you define the terms you’re working with and what value you give to those definitions. Spirituality is a positive word to me, one that I resonate with, but it is ultimately just a word—what this term points to is what’s important, and anyone who has walked the spiritual path for a little while probably knows that words, though beautiful, inspiring and moving, can also become shallow and be stripped of their power, their meaning.

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When science restricts itself to only observable, reproducible phenomena, it is adhering to a strict or faithful interpretation of the scientific principle. That is fine, but the spirit of scientific inquiry cannot be stifled by narrow and petty mindsets! And there is that word again, spirit—this is an expression that we use colloquially; when something is in the “spirit of” this and that, we mean that it honors its essential qualities. The spirit of scientific inquiry is curiosity then; a desire to learn more and expand your model of reality. Strict reproducibility criteria help us ensure quality and consistency; a dogmatic, narrow, inflexible attitude of scientific inquiry stifles learning and problem-solving.

If anything, I would say that there are two stereotypes of scientists out there, with the atheist and cold materialist being the most prevalent and well-known. The other is a deeply spiritual individual who does not adhere to an organized religion; he or she may have come from that background but through the course of their life they arrived at a place where neither materialism nor infantile theologies are enough to satisfy the spiritual hunger we all experience—whether we know that we are experiencing it or not.

Since it all comes down to language and interpretation, to conceptual knowledge contrasted with actual life experience, we can say that all of life is spiritual—that being a spiritual person is simply being a positive, life-affirming person. One does not really need to believe in the existence of an afterlife, understand the supremacy of thoughts and feelings over physical reality or subscribe to any particular set of beliefs, in my opinion: I think it is enough to have some common sense, a willingness to let go of our own egos at times… a willingness to not always be reactive and hard, impetuous and compulsive. I think that only individuals with grave psychological problems like sociopaths could be said to not have much of a spiritual dimension to their lives, and even in those cases I’m not completely certain… for the majority of the rest of us, we have experienced at least a minimum of unconditional love in our lives, from some source somewhere, to have a basic grasp on what this means. Even if we are alone we can have this experience; one does not always need to have a partner or an external “other” in order to experience unconditionality and acceptance.

To me, all the greatest philosophers and scientists possess this quality or they expressed it during their lives: a sense of awe and reverence towards the mysteries of life; a sense of something holy, transcendent, infinitely nourishing and embracing that pervades all. For some of these, that sense of awe and wonder might have been what fueled them to achieve some of their greatest triumphs.


You can now tune in to The Positive Head Podcast Monday – Friday each week! Every Wednesday, host Brandon Beachum interviews a different consciousness change-maker that is helping to pave the way for humanity as we collectively transition into a state of expanded consciousness and awareness. On the other weekdays, Brandon and his co-host Dalien give interpretations of their favorite quotes, share a bit of mind-expanding news, take questions from the audience, and dig into other positive topics they deem worthy of discussion.>> see all podcasts >>

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