“Out of many thousands among men, one may endeavor for perfection, and of those who have achieved perfection, hardly one knows Me in truth.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.3)
कश्चिद् यतति सिद्धये
यतताम् अपि सिद्धानां
कश्चिन् मां वेत्ति तत्त्वतः
kaścid yatati siddhaye
yatatām api siddhānāṁ
kaścin māṁ vetti tattvataḥ
“Is anyone else getting sick and tired of being reprimanded for their skepticism of the experts? I keep hearing them tell me to ‘trust the science,’ but when a new study comes out that debunks their previously, strongly held belief, they ignore it.
“These same people love to denigrate religion, to label people as belonging to the stone ages, for relying on faith alone. But the way I see it, these leaders are the ones imposing faith and allegiance. The deities in this religion of science, as I call it, are tremendously flawed. They lie. They cheat. They are duplicitous.
“For many months one leading scientist kept telling us that a certain public health issue afflicting the planet at the moment has unknown origins. Then later on someone unearths emails from this official wherein he openly admits to knowing the origins.
“Why was he lying this entire time? Why are people ignoring the science? Why this need to deify something that is observation and experiment? Why is there a struggle to simply search out the truth? Where does religion really fit into all of this?”
A person might say that science, as it is understood today, is nothing more than an attempt to decode God’s creation. For instance, we say that such and such person discovered gravity. They were resting comfortably underneath a tree one day when an apple fell and hit them on the head.
This sparked the interest to uncover the cause. Why did the apple fall? At what rate was the descent? Will every object fall in a similar way? Is there a singular force that holds everything together, which keeps us from floating in outer space?
Hence a wise scientist, blessed with tremendous intelligence, discovers gravity. He publishes his findings and the world is better off for it. The scientist is a hero in many circles, but something is amiss. What about credit to the person who created gravity? Should not they be considered more intelligent?
His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada often describes sanatana-dharma as the science of self-realization. The specific use of the word is intentional, to appeal to basic scientific principles as we know them, such as the properties of fire, water, earth, sky and so forth. Two plus two is always four; this is a law of science, though perhaps a basic one.
In the same way, spiritual life incorporates many scientific principles. Fortunately, they do not have to be discovered. They are passed down from the original person, who happens to be the creator of the natural world. This means that He is the basis for modern science, although someone may not come upon that discovery for a long time, if ever.
To understand the science of self-realization is not easy. After accepting the principles passed down through the generations, the student can make a test. For instance, they can witness for themselves if an individual remains unchanged through the transmigration of the soul, with the changing bodies.
देहिनो ऽस्मिन् यथा देहे
कौमारं यौवनं जरा
धीरस् तत्र न मुह्यति
dehino ‘smin yathā dehe
kaumāraṁ yauvanaṁ jarā
dhīras tatra na muhyati
“As the embodied soul continually passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. The self-realized soul is not bewildered by such a change.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.13)
They can test the hypothesis that uncontrolled desire, turning into wrath, is the all-devouring enemy of this world. They can study whether certain actions are actually not actions at all, akarma, and vice versa. They can see if attempting to connect with the source of the material and spiritual worlds has a positive influence on the manner of living moving forward.
Out of many thousands of men, barely anyone will try to achieve perfection in the science. Out of those who succeed, hardly anyone will know the Almighty in truth. This is another way of saying that decoding the entire creation of God is next to impossible. He cannot be known with full precision because He is everything and more. Even if we were to survey the landscape of the entire universe, that would not fully encompass the potency of the one who is everywhere but also aloof from His creation.
मया ततम् इदं सर्वं
न चाहं तेष्व् अवस्थितः
mayā tatam idaṁ sarvaṁ
na cāhaṁ teṣv avasthitaḥ
“By Me, in My unmanifested form, this entire universe is pervaded. All beings are in Me, but I am not in them.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.4)
The theological science is difficult to understand, and normally there are high requirements for even being admitted to the academic study, but thanks to the merciful Vyasadeva even the layperson has a chance at understanding God.
“Shrimad-Bhagavatam is the topmost theological science, and therefore it can react on the laymen as medicinal doses. Because it contains the transcendental activities of the Lord, there is no difference between the Lord and the literature. The literature is the factual literary incarnation of the Lord.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 1.5.16 Purport)
Pursuit of science unrelenting,
To decode God’s creation attempting.
But with dharma can make a test,
To see which system is best.
That body really changing so,
And the same identity to know.
That kama with krodha leading,
To anger and wrath proceeding.