“Science progresses rapidly because researchers base their work on information accumulated by other scientists and then develop their own findings. Human beings cannot cultivate our spirituality the same way, because we can’t receive the results of other people’s practice and base our own practice on them. Each of us has to start from the beginning. We can’t start from the point our teachers reached. This is why human beings with technology are like children playing with lethal weapons. It’s very dangerous.”
–Kodo Sawakai, Ch. 35. Science and Human Beings in The Zen Teaching of Homeless Kodo
Zen and the Art of Science
True science and scientists are largely misunderstood, even by scientists. Science is in no way a heartless, wholly-objective process. If it was, it could be easily performed by machines and we would have long removed humans from the equation. Science is an art. The observation of the natural world is the medium. The data, interpretations, and presentations are all made evident through the lens of human interpretation. The difference is consensus. The objectivity of science is not achieved by individuals, for that is not possible, but it is achieved through a consensus of scientists averaging out their biases. There are no unbiased humans.
The above quote implies that there is some difference between science and spirituality. Perhaps that is true since it is possible for spirituality to progress on a purely individual level, while science, by definition, cannot. Science requires the building blocks, but zen does not, taoism does not. But there are organized religions, schools of thought or belief, and cults that claim to be building spirituality while at the same time requiring strict adherence to the building blocks. Faith in these cases is nothing more than blind acceptance of the building blocks. While science demands questioning of the building blocks (though some accept them blindly), religion often demands that such questions not be asked. That is the difference between organized religion and organized science.
Learning and Building
Zen can be practiced as an individual. But most would suggest that it is better practiced in the context of learning from others or at least in the context of observation of nature. It is a process of learning based on observation of nature and guidance provided by teachers. No one would question the sentence that states that science is a process of learning based on observation of nature and guidance provided by teachers. In this respect, zen and science are the same. What differs is simply the application and perhaps the awareness of the practitioners.
Next up; A Cabin in the Woods