The relation between two massive bocks which denote science and religion has long been the object of research of many philosophers and scientists. Indeed, even nowadays the debates and discussions, which were supposed “to discover the truth”, did not result in the common opinion that could be agreed by everyone.
However, objective observations prove, that “a vast majority of scientists, physicians and mathematicians like Isaac Newton, Rene Descartes, the couple Curie, and many others do not divide the essence of science and religion. Carrying out different researches and working on theses, they all have come to the point of realization that this ideal world order, this wholly structured universe has been originally designed by some kind of Intelligence, which is the Creator.
“Having split the atom, having discovered the smallest particles, from which every animate and inanimate object constitutes, I have realized that science does not contradict religion. In fact, they go hand in hand with each other.” (Kurtz, 48)
According to the fact, that human nature demands explanation to each process and phenomena occurring in this world, the science has strong intention to give reasons and ground for the processes, which take place in religious world. However, such phenomena as Holly Light coming down from heaven during the period of Jesus Christ’s Resurrection cannot be fully explained, and science’s characteristic as “almighty” fades away (Harvey, 48).
On the contrary, a reasonable example of science’s ability to explain the religious phenomenon “nirvana” performs the experience of Dr. Jill Taylor. Being an intellectual, a prominent scientist, and having survived after a serious stroke, she has managed to give explanations to what we call the “loss of self”, which can be definitely considered as a state of extinguishing, nirvana.
In order not to be misled, I would like to offer to your attention the exact definition of the word “nirvana” in the Webster’s Dictionary, which states: “Nirvana is the final beatitude that transcends suffering, karma, and samsara and is sought especially in Buddhism through the extinction of desire and individual consciousness.” (Merriam-Webster, 978)
“The final beatitude” that was the climax of Dr.Jill Tailor’s speech proves the fact, that the woman’s experience can be called the religious phenomena, even though reached by non-mysterious way of relatively simple brain hemisphere dysfunction. The Doctor I talking about complete freedom of mind, about absence of any prejudicial judgments, which the left hemisphere is responsible for.
As far as solely right hemisphere became in charge of Dr. Jill Tailor, all hints to the past or the future have disappeared, the same did the feeling of being the separate individual. The consciousness acquired freedom, which is also one of the main characteristics of nirvana.
Doctor’s state of being whole, not limited with respect to space and time can be can be undoubtedly defined as religious phenomena. The speaker has felt the absence of any boundaries in connection with universe and at this very moment Dr. Jill Tailor realized the life’s meaning and reason (Harvey, 42). She felt the real love and peace of the world, which were originally meant for this universe.
Nirvana, being “the act of mental consciousness” practically coincides with the description of Doctor’s experience, which is also the state, when the mind is clear, unprejudiced and, comparing it to the white paper sheet, unblemished with the previous experience of being the part of society. (Gombrich, 63)
In my opinion, such scientific findings do not falsify the essence of religious phenomena. On the contrary, this is only a mere instance that science has succeeded in explaining religious process and, indeed, authenticated and proved the reason for particular feeling during this state.
Harvey, Peter Consciousness Mysticism in the discourses of the Buddha in Karel Werner, The Yogi and the Mystic London: Routledge, 1995.
Harvey, Peter “The Selfless Mind.” NY: Curzon Press 1995.
Gombrich, Richard Theravada Buddhism: A Social History from Ancient Benares to Modern Colombo. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul 1988.
Kurtz, Paul Science and Religion: Are They Compatible? NY: Prometheus Books 2003.
Merriam-Webster, Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary 10th edition NY: Merriam-Webster, 1998.