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Science, Religion and Spirituality in the Age of Aquarius

"Matter is the vehicle for the manifestation of soul on this plane of existence, and soul is the vehicle on a higher plane for the manifestation of spirit, and these three are a trinity synthesized by Life, which pervades them all."1

Much has been said about the apparent conflict between science and religion. Viewed from a higher plane, there is in fact no conflict. While religion will continue to provide needed ethical guidance and direction as we progress into the Aquarian Age, science will unveil to us our genesis and reveal our Path of return.

The Encyclopedic Theosophical Glossary defines essential religion as "a self-sacrificing devotion to truth, a resolve to live in harmony with all other lives, a sacrificing of the personal self to the greater self."2 As practiced by the world's traditional faith-based organizations, religion is "a belief in and reverence for a supernatural power or powers regarded as creator and governor of the universe," and is embodied in "a set of beliefs, values and practices based on the teaching of a spiritual leader."3 It is only in this latter codified form of religion, which in addition to glorifying and amplifying the divine capacity in man to love, also attempts to satisfy the human desire to know, that it tends to come into contention with science.

Science is simply "the observation, identification, description, experimental investigation, and theoretical explanation of phenomena."4 In other words, it is the means par excellence of gaining knowledge, and by definition does not involve value judgments as to whether specific phenomena, or the means of materializing them, are good and beneficial or not. While scientists had until the 20th century primarily concerned themselves with strictly physical plane phenomena, scientists are not to be categorically confused with materialists, for whom truth is limited to what can be detected and observed with the gross physical senses. It is perhaps in the misconception that all science is necessarily materialistic and that all religion must be dogmatic that the enmity between the two is based.

It can be seen from the foregoing definitions that religion does not have an exclusive claim on the spiritual, "the vital principle or animating force within living beings,"5 the formless and immaterial. Instead, we can distinguish the devotional and the speculative attitudes of the mind toward the spiritual, in the practices of religion and science. And we realize that it is not only possible, but inevitable, that every religious disciple be also a scientist. Max Heindel expresses this realization as a hallmark of the Aquarian Age, for "as Aquarius is an airy, scientific sign, it is a foregone conclusion that the new faith must be rooted in reason and able to solve the riddle of life and death in a manner that will satisfy both the mind and religious instinct."6

It is tempting to think that because science concerns itself exclusively with explanation of the phenomenal it is forever confined to what we today think of as the physical plane. Those familiar with the theory of the ever-progressing evolution of consciousness know that this cannot be the case, for as man's ring-pass-not expands with time, so does the domain of known effects (i.e., the phenomenal), which become increasingly more subtle, refined, and undetectable by the human physical senses. It is important to remember that, while our solar system consists of seven planes - physical, astral, mental, intuitional, spiritual, monadic, and divine - these seven planes themselves are viewed from the cosmic perspective as physical in their totality. In A Treatise on Cosmic Fire the Tibetan Master informs us:

  1. The lowest cosmic plane is the cosmic physical, and it is the only one which the finite mind of man can in any way comprehend.

  2. This cosmic physical plane exists in matter differentiated into seven qualities, groups, grades, or vibrations.

  3. These seven differentiations are the seven major planes of our solar system.7

Thus, what is considered "spiritual" today are but those aspects of cosmic physical substance that science cannot yet explain. Although scientists today command knowledge of only the coarsest sub-planes of the cosmic physical plane, there is little reason to doubt that by the end of the Aquarian Age 2500 years hence, we will be arguing about whether science is too solar-centric, while religionists claim a monopoly on knowledge of the cosmic astral plane!

Since the beginning of the 20th century, scientists have explored physical causation to the borders of the lower three sub-planes (the dense, liquid and gaseous) of the solar physical plane and beyond into the etheric and astral (whether they recognize it yet or not). The culmination of this exploration can be seen in cosmology, quantum physics and evolutionary biology, which have brought the factor of consciousness into play. We can expect that in the Aquarian Age, meditation and telepathy will become the new frontiers of science as non-local causation is further explored. And in this new, subjective science all esotericists will participate, religiously sacrificing the lower to the higher.

1 The Secret Doctrine, by H. P. Blavatsky, Photographic facsimile of the original 1888 edition, p. 499.
2 Encyclopedic Theosophical Glossary, Copyright © 1999 by Theosophical University Press.
3 The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Copyright © 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
4 Ibid
5 Ibid
6 Teachings of an Initiate, by Max Heindel, p 56.
7 A Treatise on Cosmic Fire, by Alice A. Bailey, p. 11.

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