Jain Metaphysics and Science ► 0 ►Preliminaries ► Foreword

Posted: 22.11.2017

Is there any scope of 'comparison of philosophy and science'? There is one view, which out rightly denies it. According to it, science and philosophy are poles apart. In the field of spirituality, which is a part of philosophy, the nucleus is non-corporal substance—soul. On the other hand, science confines itself mainly with the corporal substance—matter. The physical order of existence has been explored by science through powerful apparatuses, but the non-physical order of existence (consciousness or soul) is beyond the range of such apparatuses.

This (above) view is however not acceptable to all. Hence, in the field of science itself, some eminent scientists are of the view that there is a scope of comparison between science and spirituality or science and philosophy. Albert Einstein, Werner Heisenberg, Erwin Schrodinger, David Bohm and many others like Sir Arthur Eddington, Sir James Jeans, and Herman Weyl have dealt with at length on this topic.

Fritjof Capra, in his famous work, Tao of Physics, has very aptly put forth his views on the comparison of science (mainly modern physics) and the oriental mysticism. I would like to quote a few passages from Tao of Physics to show that the author of our book, Dr. N.L. Kachhara, has indeed made a commendable effort to justify his idea of comparison of Jain metaphysics with science.

"The fact that the current changes in our value system will affect many of our sciences may seem surprising to those who believe in an objective, value-free science. It is, however, one of the important implications of the new physics. Heisenberg's contributions to quantum theory, which I discuss in great detail in this book, imply clearly that the classical ideal of scientific objectivity can no longer be maintained, and thus modern physics is also challenging the myth of a value-free science. The patterns scientists observe in nature are intimately connected with the patterns of their minds—with their concepts, thoughts and values. Hence, the scientific results they obtain and the technological applications they investigate will be conditioned by their frame of mind. Although much of their detailed research will not depend explicitly on their value system, the larger framework within which this research is pursued will never be value free. Scientists, therefore, are responsible for their research not only intellectually but also morally.

From this point of view, the connection between physics and mysticism is not only very interesting but also extremely important. It shows that the results of modern physics have opened up two very different paths for scientists to pursue. They may lead us—to put it in extreme terms—to the Buddha or to the Bomb, and it is up to each scientist to decide which path to take. It seems to me that at a time when close to half of our scientists and engineers work for the military, wasting an enormous potential of human ingenuity and creativity by developing ever more sophisticated means of total destruction, the path of the Buddha, the "path with a heart cannot be overemphasized." [p. xvii, Preface]

"The purpose of this book is to explore this relationship between the concepts of modern physics and the basic ideas in the philosophical and religious traditions of the Far East. We shall see how the two foundations of (twentieth-century physics—quantum theory and relativity theory—both force us to see the world very much in the way a Hindu, Buddhist, or Taoist sees it, and how this similarity strengthens when we look at the recent attempts to combine these two theories in order to describe the phenomena of the submicroscopic world: the properties and interactions of the subatomic particles of which all matter is made. Here the parallels between modern physics and Eastern mysticism are most striking, and we shall often encounter statements where it is almost impossible to say whether they have been made by physicists or by Eastern mystics." [p. 4]

"Eastern thought—and, more generally, mystical thought—provides a consistent and relevant philosophical background to the theories of contemporary science; a conception of the world in which scientific discoveries can be in perfect harmony with spiritual aims and religious beliefs. The two basic themes of this conception are the unity and interrelation of all phenomena and the intrinsically dynamic nature of the universe. The further we penetrate into the submicroscopic world, the more we shall realize how the modern physicist, like the Eastern mystic, has come to see the world as a system of inseparable, interacting, and ever-moving components, with the observer being an integral part of this system." [p. 11]

"Rational knowledge and rational activities certainly constitute the major part of scientific research, but are not all there is to it. The rational part of research would, in fact, be useless if it were not complemented by the intuition that gives scientists new insights and makes them creative. These insights tend to come suddenly and, characteristically, not when sitting at a desk working out the equations, but when relaxing in the bath, during a walk in the woods, on the beach, etc. During these periods of relaxation after concentrated intellectual activity, the intuitive mind seems to take over and can produce the sudden clarifying insights which give so much joy and delight to scientific research." [p. 18]

"It is important to realize the difference between the mathematical models and their verbal counterparts. The former are rigorous and consistent as far as their internal structure is concerned, but their symbols are not directly related to our experience. The verbal models, on the other hand, use concepts which can be understood intuitively, but are always inaccurate and ambiguous. They are in this respect not different from philosophical models of reality and thus the two can very well be compared. 

If there is an intuitive element in science, there is also a rational element in Eastern mysticism." [pp. 20, 21]

"The firm basis of knowledge on experience in Eastern mysticism suggests a parallel to the firm basis of scientific knowledge on experiment. This parallel is further enforced by the nature of the mystical experience. It is described in the Eastern traditions as a direct insight which lies outside the realm of the intellect and is obtained by watching rather than thinking; by looking inside oneself; by observation." [p. 22]

"When the rational mind is silenced, the intuitive mode produces an extra-ordinary awareness; the environment is experienced in a direct way without the filter of conceptual thinking." [p. 23]

Dr. N.L. Kachhara has written this book, in which he has elaborately explained the fundamental principles of Jain Metaphysics and some of the relevant concepts of modern science. This is the need of the hour. It will immensely benefit the students and the scholars of Jainism to understand it in the context of modern science.

The metaphysical theory of soul and pudgala (physical order of existence) of Jainism explains very scientifically various aspects of universe, but unfortunately till now it has not been presented in modern style. Dr. Kachhara has fulfilled this lacuna.

Specially, the theory of karma is a very special and significant contribution of Jainism, which explains the nature of that psycho-physical force called karma which is essentially a physical force generated by the soul. The beginning less coalescing of karma with soul is responsible for the transmigration of the soul in the labyrinth of birth and death. Karma becomes so powerful force that if not subsided or annihilated, it will endlessly make the soul to continue in the mundane existence. The Jain metaphysics has explained logically the cause and effect of karma and also the means to end the beginning less relationship of the soul and karma.

It is very important that the metaphysical views of Jainism should be understood and made use of to make soul free from the bondage of karma. Let us hope that the modern scientists may one day be able to at least hypothesize the subtle most material force of karma and its effect.

Besides this, the entire discussion of the six fundamental substances, as made by the author and as related it with the scientific concepts, makes a very interesting and useful academic probe into the nature of truth.

Muni Mahendra Kumar

Jain Vishva Bharati, Ladnun

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