How Science and Religion Come Together

This article was originally written in 1981 when I was working as a Research Associate in High Energy Physics at Ohio State University. Reading Rawel Singh’s recent article that he submitted to the SikhNet News reminded me of this article I wrote 27 years ago, and so I dusted it off and updated it for publication here. – Guruka Singh Khalsa 

THERE has always been science, and there has always been religion as long as the human race has walked on this mother Earth. In fact, these two are not only related to each other, but they are really, in essence, identical.

Examining the meaning of the word “science” we can see that it is derived from the Latin “sciens” which is the present participle of “scire” which means “to know or to understand”. Many people completely misunderstand the word ‘religion.’ It comes from the Latin word ‘ligare’ which means to tie or fasten. It is the same root as the word ligature or ligament. It means to be connected, tied. So the actual meaning of religion is to experience that state of being connected or tied to the One – to our origin and our Infinity.

In sum, science is the technology of knowing or understanding the essence of the universe, and religion is the actual experience of one’s own identity with that essence.


The Nature of Religion

We must fundamentally understand that true religion is experiential. That is, religion is not what we usually consider it to be, i.e., a set of beliefs or ideals, or even a philosophy or manner of behavior, but it is, in fact, the moment to moment experience of one’s origin, the source of one’s being, God.

Where can this experience be found? The answer is: everywhere! For it is not really a question of where at all, but one of how. Obviously if one is experiencing the living presence of God, which is by nature infinite and inexpressible, the experience can only be that, an experience. It cannot be written or told. Over and over in the Siri Guru Granth Sahib we hear the phrase:


“Nanak tells that story which can never be told…”

Both science and religion are the attempt to tell “that story which can never be told”, to share the experience of the infinite and inexpressible with our fellow travellers on this beautiful spaceship we call Earth. Science and religion are identical in purpose, but they are opposite in method. In fact, one might almost say that science is religion without a heart, and religion is science without a head; two opposite approaches to the identical task: to express the inexpressible so that others may share it.

The Nature of Science

The task that science has set itself is to describe the essential nature of the entire universe precisely and mathematically in the totality of its creation. The irony of this task is that it is endless in nature. The supposed ultimate goal of science, to propose a theory that explains neatly and logically how everything in the universe operates and fits together into a whole, is actually an impossible task. The reason that it is impossible is that science itself is part of our constantly growing, evolving, moving, and ecstatic universe. The very act of scientific observation affects not only the specific process under observation, but also the entire creation.


When, at the dawn of the twentieth century, Albert Einstein proposed his general theory of relativity, and Max Planck proposed his principle of uncertainty, the world was stood on its ear. Suddenly the seemingly explainable, mechanical nature of the world as understood by science until then, was dissolved in a sea of uncertainty. The sudden and unexpected announcement by Einstein that everything in the universe is connected to everything else, and that every action no matter how seemingly small affects the whole, and Planck’s discovery that absolute measurements within the realm of time and space were impossible because both could not be measured simultaneously, made the hard facts of science suddenly seem a lot less solid. The realization that all scientific models and theories are only approximate, and that their verbal interpretations always suffer from the inaccuracy of language itself was now inescapable.


It now seems that the totality of science’s accomplishments is asymptotic in nature. An asymptotic function, of course, is one that approaches a limit without ever reaching it. In other words, while the scientific method can approach closer and closer to its goal of describing the essential nature of the universe, it can never actually get there. It is like Zeno’s bridge, crossing it takes forever. The discovery and exploration of the subatomic world of modern physics has revealed a reality that transcends both language and reasoning. At the dawn of the twentieth century science and religion entered the common ground of inexpressibility.

The Image of the Infinite

All religions seem to have begun with the transcendental experience of a single individual or a small group in individuals. Let’s take as our example here, Guru Nanak Dev Ji, the founder of the Sikh faith. As a young man, Guru Nanak underwent an ecstatic and transforming experience; an experience in which he understood the essential nature of existence. It is said that after undergoing this experience, his first impulse was to express in words what had happened to him. The great poem we call “Japji” was the product of that effort. The first part of the Japji, known as the root or “Mool” mantra is the expression, in as few words as possible, of Guru Nanak’s experience of reality.

 

    Ek Ong Kar The Creative Power and the Creation are ONE
    Sat Nam Its Identity is TRUTH
    Karta Purkh It is the Doer of everything
    Nirbau Beyond fear
    Nirvair Beyond Revenge
    Akal Beyond Death
    Moorat Image of the Infinite
    Ajooni Unborn
    Saibhang Full of Light
    Gur Prasad To experience this is the Guru’s Gift
    Jap MEDITATE!
    Aad Such PRIMAL TRUTH
    Jugaad Sach TRUE FOR ALL TIME
    Hebi Sach TRUE AT THIS MOMENT
    Nanak O NANAK
    Hosee bi Sach FOREVER TRUE

The utter simplicity of the Mool Mantra is striking. It is the very essence of which all religions are made. It is interesting to realize that the very first line of it expresses exactly the same concept which is the foundation of all modern relativistic science: E=MC2

Ek Ong Kar:



The Creator (energy) and the Creation (matter) are ONE!


This primal truth is expressed in various ways in all the world’s religions. Let’s take as another example the Taoist symbol called the “Tai C’hi”, which many people know as the “yin-yang” symbol.


The Tai C’hi is an attempt to express the experience of the infinite in an image or picture. In reality the Tai C’hi is not a two dimensional image but a four dimensional one. While such a symbolic representation is difficult to express in words, I hope that you will bear with me while I attempt to do so. Examining the Tai C’hi, we notice that in the center of the black teardrop shape is a point of white, and in the center of the white teardrop is a single black point. Now imagine that the “tail” of the white teardrop actually continues “behind” the symbol itself and is connected to the white dot at the center of the black half, while the “tail” of the black half comes around the “front” of the image and connects to the black dot at the center of the white half. Got it?


Ok, now imagine that the Tai C’hi is not static, but that it is in constant flowing motion within itself. i.e. that the white portion is constantly flowing out of the center of the black portion and the black portion is continuously being born out of the center of the white portion.


In other words, the Tai C’hi is not a circle divided into a black half and white halves, but an attempt to express in a beautifully simple image the constant process of creation, growth and evolution itself. It is a picture or image of “Ek Ong Kar”. It is an “Akal Moorat” a timeless, infinite image.


The Power of the Word

In the Christian bible, in the book of John, is written:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

What is the Word of which John was speaking?

For thousands of years the sacred texts of India, the Vedas, Shastras and Smritis, have taught that sound vibration holds the key to the mysteries of the universe, to the actual creation and sustenance of our world, and to the means of extricating ourselves from its bonds. In the Vedic tradition, the world we see, the world of phenomena is said to be the visible manifestation of the infinite combinations of sound patterns, all derived from the soundless sound (Anahat Shabd) of the One who is both the Creator and the Creation. To express it another way, the Word of which John is speaking is the Anahat Shabd of the Vedic teachings; the continuous vibrating of the Creator/Creation in action.

The latest research in astronomy validates the creation of the universe as beginning with this cosmic sound.

    Three independent teams of astronomers yesterday presented the most precise measurements to date ofthe infant universe as it existed approximately 14 billion years ago, exposing telltale reverberations theycalled "the music of creation." The results represent a significant advance in scientists’ efforts to understand what happened in the initial split second of cosmic creation and how the universe has evolved since, researchers said. …the cosmic microwave background, is the cold echo of the hot Big Bang fireball. Reaching Earth from all directions, it is enfeebled and stretched into the microwave range by the expansion of the cosmos. Scientists say that 1 percent of the static picked up on a home TV antenna is the echo of the Big Bang approximately 15 billion years ago. Astronomers first detected this background glow in 1965, using a ground-based radio telescope. But the radiation appeared bafflingly uniform and featureless in contrast to the present-day universe — all lumpy with stars and galaxies. Russian and American theorists soon predicted that the seeds of this lumpiness should show up in what mathematicians call a "harmonic series" of fluctuations imprinted on the embryonic glow. The primordial cosmic soup "is full of sound waves compressing and rarefying matter and light, much like sound waves compress and rarefy air inside a flute or trumpet," said Paolo deBernardis, Italian leader of the international collaboration known as BOOMERANG, or Balloon Observations of Millimetric Extragalactic Radiation and Geophysics, another high-altitude balloon project presenting new analysis.

    -Washington Post
    Monday, April 30, 2001


This sound continues today. Once we accept that what we call “time” is really only a matter of appearances, and that what we know as “past”, “present”, and “future” are in reality just ways of describing what appear to us to be different parts of what is actually a continuous, infinite, timeless process, then we can begin to understand that the actual manifestation of that process is vibratory in nature.


In fact, new research shows that what is conducted by our nervous system is in fact, sound vibrations. so, in order to explore the nature of creation itself, we must correlate the sciences of biology, subatomic particle physics, chemistry, and mathematics because sound vibration is the integrating phenomenon of life, the common denominator, through which and by which everything in the universe operates.


The ancient Indian texts explain that sound is the cause and not the effect of vibration and that there can be sound without any vibration even without the usual media of conveyance such as air, water, or so called solid matter. This is the concept of the “Anahat Shabd”, the driving energy and force behind all manifestation; the “soundless sound” or “unstruck melody” which is the infinite, endless continuum… indivisible, unfragmented and unimaginably potent… the most powerful source of all… the sound of the Creator/Creation constantly creating itself.


This constant hum of creation, the primal AUM, is the vibratory activity of all energy and matter. The power within the atom’s core is but a minute pinpoint of this infinite energy, and yet even this is able to utterly destroy cities, nations, and even our planet itself. With the exception of the work of a few advanced scientists (most of whom were ostracized by the traditional scientific community) such as Nikola Tesla and John Keely, the relatively coarse instruments of modern science have barely begun to probe this infinite energy source. The Anahat Shabd, the “soundless sound”, is the subtlest element of all. It is the etheric essence, finer than earth, air, water, or fire, beyond the speed of light… all pervasive, the source of cohesion, of electricity, of magnetism and gravitation, of all that exists. The modern physicist E.C.G. Sudarshan has described the etheric essence of the Anahat Shabd in scientific terms as follows:


    “The ether as superfluid is consistent with relativity and quantum theory. It is the support of all light, in it all bodies exist, it is attached to none, it is ever present beyond the limitations of time and space. It has no inertial qualities, no interactions, yet it is the very substance of illumination.” E.C.G. Sudarshan (preprint, University of Texas, 1974).


This is the secret of the power of the Word. If the creative activity we know as God is manifested through vibration, and if the entire universe as we perceive it is nothing but a constantly changing pattern of vibrations, then the knowledge of how to consciously create vibrations which affect the vibratory continuum in a specific manner is the knowledge of how to consciously participate in the creative process itself. This is the ancient science of sound that is known as “mantra”.


In the Japji of Guru Nanak, he speaks in great length and depth of the Anahat Shabd and of the effects of both listening and speaking:


    Akharee Nam Akharee Salaah.
    Akharee Gian Geet Gun Gaah.
    Akharee Likhan Bolan Baan.
    Akharaa Sir Sanjog Vikaan.”

    In sound is naming and praising.
    In sound is all knowledge and song
    In sounds spoken and written.
    In sound lies the destiny.

    Guru Nanak, Japji Sahib, pauri 19


    Ant Na Vekhan Sunan Na Ant
    Ant Na Jaapai Kiaa Mant?
    Ant Na Jaapai Keeta Aakaar

    Ant na Jaapai Paaraavaar.”

    There is no end to seeing and hearing
    There is no end in sight…
    What Mantra lies within God’s mind?
    The structure of the universe is infinite.
    Endless vibrating expansion.

    Guru Nanak, Japji Sahib, pauri 24


    Suniai Sidh Peer Sur Nath.
    Suniai Dharat Dhaval Akash
    Suniai Deep Loa Pataal
    Suniai Poeh Na Sakai Kaal
    Nanak, Bhagataa Sadaa Vigaa
    Suniai Dookh Paap Kaa Naas.
    Suniai Eesar Baramaa Ind
    Suniai Mukh Saalaahan Mand
    Suniai Jog Jugat Tan Bhed
    Suniai Saast Simrit Ved
    Nanak, Bhagataa Sadaa Vigaa
    Suniai Dookh Paap Kaa Naas

    Suniai Sat Santokh Giaan
    Suniai Ath Sath Kaa Ishnaan

    Suniai Par Par Paaveh Maan
    Suniai Laagai Sahej Dhiaan
    Nanak, Bhagataa Sadaa Vigaas
    Suniai Dookh Paap Kaa Naas
    Suniai Saraa Gunaa Ke Gaah
    Suniai Sekh Peer Paatishaah
    Suniai Aande Paaveh Raaho
    Suniai Haath Hovai Asagaaho
    Nanak, Bhagataa Sadaa Vigaas
    Suniai Dookh Paap Kaa Naas.”

    Listening… saints, heroes, masters.
    Listening… the earth, the power, the ethers.
    Listening… high and low realms, oceans of light.
    Listening… beyond time.
    O Nanak!
    God’s lovers bloom forever.
    Listening destroys all pain and error. || 8 ||

    Listening… men become gods.
    Listening… praise comes from the mouth of the most negative person.
    Listening… the way of yoga and the body’s secrets.
    Listening… all holy books and scriptures.
    O Nanak!
    God’s lovers bloom forever…
    Listening destroys all pain and error. || 9 ||

    Listening… Truth, patience, wisdom.
    Listening… bathing at all holy places.
    Listening…reading and reading gains honor.
    Listening…concentration comes easy.
    O Nanak!
    God’s lovers bloom forever.
    Listening destroys all pain and error. || 10 ||

    Listening… deep oceans of grace.
    Listening… kings, emperors, saints.
    Listening… blind ones find the Path.
    Listening… the unknown is known.
    O Nanak!
    God’s lovers bloom forever.
    Listening destroys all pain and error. || 11 ||

    Guru Nanak, Ja pji, pauris 8 – 11

All religions use sounds to affect consciousness. From the shaman’s drum at the peyote meeting to Gregorian chant and the Latin Catholic liturgy, the effects of sound on the human consciousness, and on the perception and creation of reality, are universally experienced. If all matter is in reality the interplay and patterns of waves of sound, then it requires no great leap of imagination to see that all form in nature is the outpouring of causative sound. If God as the constant Creator can form and change the vast array of the plane of matter, then we as co-creators can use the science of sound to form and change the patterns of the world and of our own inner beings. In the Vedic view of the cosmos, the whole universe is an ocean of sound and light of varying degrees of density or luminosity. It is understood that sound proceeds even light.

God and the Superforce

During the latter part of the twentieth century the forefront of scientific research has been theoretical physics. Theoretical physics consists of the postulation and subsequent proof of the actual manner in which the universe is constructed. Most people are aware that the “stuff” of reality is made up of molecules, and that molecules are made up of atoms. Most are also aware that atoms are made of so-called particles known as protons, neutrons, and electrons.

These things were understood at the turn of the century, but with the arrival of Neils Bohr’s quantum mechanics in the early part of the twentieth century, a whole new world of sub-atomic particles has opened up. As physicists began to discover and name these new particles they were looking for an underlying symmetry, a pattern that would make sense both logically and aesthetically, just as all patterns in nature seem to have an inner rhythm and beauty to them.

The Newtonian image of the atom, that of a tiny “solar system” with a sun/nucleus made up protons and neutrons, and a whirl of little planet/electrons surrounding it has now become obsolete. It now appears that what at first seemed to be three different basic types of particles, and later was understood to consist of these particles made up of, and interacting with, smaller component particles, mesons, neutrinos, quarks, and charmed particles, etc., are in fact simply one energy; one energy that is constantly transforming itself into different frequencies of vibration, spinning right and lift, up and down… a constant flow of changing ripples and waves in one cosmic sea of energy.

Compare the description of God given by Guru Arjan Dev, the fifth Nanak, in his poem “Sukhmani Sahib,” The Jewel of Peace, to the quantum concept of the universe described above.

    “Parbrahm ke sagle thao
    Jit jit ghar rakhai taisa tin nao
    Aap karan kravan-jog.

    The entire Creation is One with God.
    But we call its parts by different names.

    Prabh bhavai soi phun hog.
    God is the Doer of everything.

    Pasrio aap hoe anat tarang.
    Whatever He wills happens.

    Lakhe na jaah Parbrahm ke rang
    Jaisi mat dee taisa pargaas.

    God is an ocean, pervading everywhere,
    filled with endless waves of creation.

    Parbrahm karta abinas.”
    His play cannot be described.

    But each man has a vision of Him according to the light granted to him.

    Guru Arjan Dev Ji, Sukhmani Sahib, Ashtapadi IX

The appearance of separate and definable “particles” is only an illusion, a trick of perception that occurs in the same manner that a baseball seems to be suspended in mid-air in a short exposure photograph, when in fact it is hurtling through the air quite fast and is, in actuality, in another place completely by the time we ever see the photograph. Even with the “high-speed photography” possible with our modern atomic accelerators such as Cern in Geneva, and Fermilab in Chicago, the “snapshots” of our bubble chambers and tracking emulsions are much to slow to catch the divine dance of energy as it actually occurs. In fact, it is our minds that are too slow to catch the divine dance! But it can be experienced, and this experience, beyond the limitations of time and space, beyond the mind and its symbolic and linear thinking, is the experience of constant ecstasy and immense joy which is the very flow of the Anahat Shabd itself.

In addition to the illusion of separate particles of matter, science is now beginning to discover that what was previously thought of as separate types or kinds of energy are really only one. The very latest concept of modern physics is the idea of a so-called "Superforce." What were previously thought to be the five basic separate energies of the universe, electricity, magnetism, weak atomic bonding force, strong atomic force, and gravitation, each with it’s own mathematical expression and laws, are currently beginning to be understood as merely separate expressions of ONE force, which physicists call the Superforce. These energies are constantly transforming themselves into each other, just as the “particles” of matter are constantly transforming themselves into each other.

The One appears as many in all His manifested forms

Ek Ong Kar – There is One Creator/Creation. This is the fundamental discovery of modern science. That not only is all matter convertible into energy, and vice versa, but that energy and matter are simply different appearances of the very same thing. And that not only are energy and matter the same thing, but that the constant interplay of this energy is the very play of God itself, the divine play of “lila”.

The religious experience is the experience that we and God and God and we are one and the same. It is only our minds, our egos that make us ever feel that we are observing, that we are separate from other forms of consciousness and energy. But science is the process of observation, and observation implies an observer. How wonderful it is to realize that there is only One observer… and that He is constantly observing Himself through His/our eyes, and enjoying it immensely! The modern scientific view that consciousness is within everything has been expressed by E.H. Walker:


    “Consciousness may be associated with all quantum mechanical processes. The uniqueness of our consciousness lies in the fact that it is a part of a logic machine, which in turn is the brain of a particular kind of physical system, a living organism. That is, the terms “life”, “thought”, and “consciousness”, properly defined, are separable. An organism does not have to be conscious or capable of thinking in order to be alive. A brain does not have to be conscious to be capable of “thought” (we are using the term in the restricted sense of “data processing”). Only the higher organisms have brains for data processing, and only under very special conditions, when a large part of the data processing functions of the brain is handled by an irreducible quantum mechanical process, does the organism become a conscious, thinking being.

    Any of these attributes may exist independently of the others, or in conjunction with only one other. A non-living computer that is capable of both thought and consciousness would be a real possibility. Consciousness may also exist without being associated with either a living system or a data processing system. Indeed, since everything that occurs is ultimately the result of one or more quantum mechanical events, the universe is “inhabited” by an almost unlimited number of rather discrete conscious, usually non-thinking entities that are responsible for the detailed working of the universe. These conscious entities determine (or exist concurrently with the determination) SINGLY the outcome of each quantum mechanical event, while the Schrödinger equation (to the extent that it is accurate) describes the physical constraint placed on their freedom of action COLLECTIVELY.”


    E.H. Walker, “The Nature of Consciousness”,

    Journal of Mathematical Biosciences 7 : 175-176, 1970

The Heart of Science and the Head of Religion

Earlier we said that science is sometimes thought of as religion without a heart, and religion as science without a head. The current evolutionary state of human consciousness is that these two are finally becoming one. Religion is giving its heart to science, and science has given its head to religion.


In the latter decades of the 20
th century, and the beginning of the 21st, we are experiencing the continuing explosion of information sharing and group consciousness on this planet. A network of computers, televisions, radios, electronic cables, optical fibers, and satellites links our entire planet electronically. Ideas and images that affect us all are instantly transmitted and shared with others of our species all over the globe. We have even begun to acknowledge and connect to the consciousness of other species, as John Lilly’s research with dolphins has shown.

The group subconscious described by Carl Jung is now openly reflected in a visible planetary group consciousness. The age of blind faith is over. The age of belief without knowledge died with the advent of instantaneous global information sharing. We have irrevocably entered the age of conscious knowledge, experience, and responsibility. The union of science and religion is now taking place. The people of planet Earth can no longer march under a banner that reads:


“I believe – therefore I know”

but are joining together under a new banner which proudly proclaims:

 

“I know! Therefore I believe”



The Age of Khalsa

This is the age of the joining of all the Dharmas. This is the age of sudden transformation. Not since the incredible evolutionary speedup that marked the beginning of mankind’s use of the forebrain, the factor that separated us from the apes, has such a quantum leap in consciousness happened on this planet. We are entering the age of the Khalsa – an age of purified and subtle creative behavior and consciousness – an age of the self-sensory human being.


The religion of the future, which is evolving out of the union of science and traditional religion, is the worship of God as Universal Truth.

I’d like to close with my translation a poem of the Khalsa, originally written in Gurmukhi, and transmitted to this Earth by the most pure, humble, and devoted channel I have ever met, Yogi Bhajan. From the volume called the “Furmaan Khalsa”, The Inner Command of the Pure Ones, here is the poem called “Lohe da Mandir”, The Temple of Steel:

 

    The Temple of Steel has been built!
    The Light of Wisdom is Shining!
    Today the sinners are filled with fear.

    Today the Sovereign Khalsa Nation has proclaimed: “Only the Righteous will survive!” Today Satan is dead!
    The New Nation of the Earth comprises all the Dharmas.
    This Order comes direct from God!
    The cycle of births and deaths is ended.
    Today, only TRUTH will be accepted!
    Today, no one is weak.
    Today, the power of the Will reigns Supreme.
    Today, by the grace of the Lord of both the Worlds, The being is reborn as Khalsa!
    Strong as steel Steady as stone.
    A face radiating sweetness… A forehead shining with self-respect…

    An inner voice that calls out to all people… And carries them across the Ocean of fear.
    The Flag of TRUTH is flying High!

    Falsehood lies in ruins.
    The Path of Love is simple: There is no loss or gain.

    White Hot Steel, heated in the fires of the times, has branded “TRUTH!” upon our foreheads.
    The Temple of Steel has been built!
    The Light of Wisdom is Shining!
    We shall live our lives in TRUTH!

    For this is the Priceless Blessing of our Guru.

– By Guruka Singh Khalsa