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True Splendor of Science

--by Alan Watts (Aug 24, 2015)


The true splendor of science is not so much that it names and classifies, records and predicts, but that it observes and desires to know the facts, whatever they may turn out to be. However much it may confuse facts with conventions, and reality with arbitrary divisions, in this openness and sincerity of mind it bears some resemblance to religion, understood in its other and deeper sense. The greater the scientist, the more he is impressed with his ignorance of reality, and the more he realizes that his laws and labels, descriptions and definitions, are the products of his own thought. They help him to use the world for purposes of his own devising rather than to understand and explain it.

The more he analyzes the universe into infinitesimals, the more things he finds to classify, and the more he perceives the relativity of all classification. What he does not know seems to increase in geometric progression to what he knows. Steadily he approaches the point where what is unknown is not a mere blank space in a web of words but a window in the mind, a window whose name is not ignorance but wonder.

The timid mind shuts this window with a bang, and is silent and thoughtless about what it does not know in order to chatter the more about what it thinks it knows. It fills up the uncharted spaces with mere repetitions of what has already been explored. But the open mind knows that the most minutely explored territories have not really been known at all, but only marked and measured a thousand times over. And the fascinating mystery of what it is that we mark and measure must in the end 'tease us out of thought' until the mind forgets to circle and to pursue its own process, and becomes aware that to be at this moment is pure miracle.

In such wonder there is not hunger but fulfillment. Almost everyone has known it, but only in rare instants when the startling beauty or strangeness of a scene drew the mind away from its self-pursuit, and for a moment made it unable to find words for the feeling. We are, then, most fortunate to be living in a time when human knowledge has gone so far that it begins to be at a loss for words, not at the strange and marvelous alone, but at the most ordinary things. The dust on the shelves has become as much of a mystery as the remotest stars; we know enough of both to know that we know nothing. Eddington, the physicist, is nearest to the mystics, not in his airier flights of fancy, but when he says quite simply, "Something unknown is doing we don't know what." In such a confession thought has moved full circle, and we are again as children.

Alan Watts is ... The excerpt above is from his book, 'The Wisdom of Insecurity.'

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On Aug 26, 2015 Jyoti wrote:

Thank you for broadcasting the circle. So much power in the words, even over the waves. It radiates out far beyond the 4 walls. 



On Aug 25, 2015 Jagdish P Dave wrote:

 How to know what we don't know? The mind comes up with this wonderment and tries to know the mystery of the unknown.The unknown becomes known and the the inquiry continues. In this way, science has made  great progress. And the inquiry continues. Philosophers  also make inquiries without the requirement of proving their mental explorations and ideas and systems. Mystics also have that wonderment and openness of the heart to welcome whatever arises on its own. They are not looking for any validation. They become what they realize. The distinction between the subject and the object disappears. It is neither me nor you,  neither this nor that. It is neither demonstrable or describable. It is like pointing a  finger towards the moon. I can relate to all the three modes of knowing. The most enchanting and the most fulfilling experience is the mystical experience of finding oneself in losing oneself, where the separation between the knower and the known g  See full.

 How to know what we don't know? The mind comes up with this wonderment and tries to know the mystery of the unknown.The unknown becomes known and the the inquiry continues. In this way, science has made  great progress. And the inquiry continues. Philosophers  also make inquiries without the requirement of proving their mental explorations and ideas and systems. Mystics also have that wonderment and openness of the heart to welcome whatever arises on its own.

They are not looking for any validation. They become what they realize. The distinction between the subject and the object disappears. It is neither me nor you,  neither this nor that. It is neither demonstrable or describable. It is like pointing a  finger towards the moon.

I can relate to all the three modes of knowing. The most enchanting and the most fulfilling experience is the mystical experience of finding oneself in losing oneself, where the separation between the knower and the known gets dissolved. Such experiences are transformative dispelling the  illusory world I create and in which I live.It is a  non-doing and a non-possessing world. It is like the Zen poem: Sitting by the river, Spring comes, And the grass grows by itself.

Jagdish PDave

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On Aug 22, 2015 david doane wrote:

The true splendor of science is to openly see and examine what is, beyond preconceived notions, expectations, and desires.  It is to see what is, not see one's own thinking or the predominant thinking of the time.  That's quite different than science corrupted by bias or by the highest bidder.  I've had the experience of seeing that the emperor is wearing no clothes, saying what I see, being alone in what I am seeing, wondering if others think I'm crazy, wondering if I'm crazy, putting those concerns aside, trusting and sticking with what I'm seeing, and experiencing a positive outcome, all of which was the miracle of being in the present.  What helps me avoid the comfort of the familiar and remain open to the miracles of the present moment is trusting my seeing, experiencing the satisfaction of accepting what I am seeing, and experiencing the emptiness and lack of comfort of the familiar.  Getting old and caring less what others think and say also helps a lot  See full.

The true splendor of science is to openly see and examine what is, beyond preconceived notions, expectations, and desires.  It is to see what is, not see one's own thinking or the predominant thinking of the time.  That's quite different than science corrupted by bias or by the highest bidder.  I've had the experience of seeing that the emperor is wearing no clothes, saying what I see, being alone in what I am seeing, wondering if others think I'm crazy, wondering if I'm crazy, putting those concerns aside, trusting and sticking with what I'm seeing, and experiencing a positive outcome, all of which was the miracle of being in the present.  What helps me avoid the comfort of the familiar and remain open to the miracles of the present moment is trusting my seeing, experiencing the satisfaction of accepting what I am seeing, and experiencing the emptiness and lack of comfort of the familiar.  Getting old and caring less what others think and say also helps a lot.  I'm remembering Nietzsche's statement that "those who were dancing were thought to be crazy by those who could not hear the music."  They were also thought to be crazy by those who do not see what is.  And I remember being taught to never fear the truth.  The truth will set you free.  The true splendor of science is the seeing that sets you free to discover.

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On Aug 20, 2015 many am wrote:

Beautiful words, the more you look deeper the more you find, that's the true wonder that surrounds us, only in few fleeting moments we have a fragile grasp of it and then the mind does it's tricks and sucks you back into it's theater. we are indeed blessed to be in an age where more of us are becoming aware of it with little effort because of those that came before us.