Religion and science seem to be having a constant battle. However, in so many ways the battle is superficial and lacks an understanding of the vast biodiversity of religion and its practice all over the world.
Believers often have deep faith and emotion but also their faith gives them purpose to dig deep and study the scriptures, listen to gurus and spend a lot of time in meditation and reflection. In this sense there are lots of similarities with the industry and institutions of science because they too involve faith, rituals, study and reflection. Sat Sang (truth dialogues) can be like a university too. What may differ are methods and languages and varying definitions of truth.
One of the biggest paradoxes for science is the difference between the inner ‘subtle’ world of the human and the outer observable world of action and ‘objective’ evidence gathering. Often science ignores the inner world altogether or denies it or creates separate disciplines like psychology or theology to analyse feelings and emotions. The diversity of faiths and communities seem too vague and fuzzy for scientists who often specialise in ignorance and as a result the gap between science and religion widens.
Kanji Swami was ordained as a Jain monk in the 1930s but his deep search for truth led him to abandon traditional monkhood and focus instead on learning the fundamental nature of the soul after his discovery of Acharya Kundakundas ‘Samayasara’ an epic work of science & philosophy widely read and acknowledged by scholars from all over the world.
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In order to bridge the gap between science and religion his followers have sponsored a major new exhibition at the world famous School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) where Professor Peter Flugel is Director of their pioneering Centre for Jaina Studies. It explores the mystery of the soul and takes you on a philosophical and intellectual journey expressed through various media including art and film.
That the Jains have a very distinctive science of the soul is undisputed. What is interesting is this attempt to take religion out of the temple and community and open it to scholarly dialogue and analysis. Over several decades, SOAS has become a lighthouse of a revival in Jain scholarship and research and helped reinvigorate the depth and breadth of Jain science to a much wider audience.
The exhibition is for the curious and the seeker of truth in a genuine sense. Why not visit and explore for your inner self?
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