A basic NCERT textbook knowledge implicates that the most defining characteristic of a living organism is consciousness, and humans are the only species with self-consciousness. None of the other life properties such as growth, metabolism, reproduction, cellular organization can exclusively demarcate the boundary of a living organism (for more details, the reader can refer to the first three pages of the XI class NCERT biology textbook). This inherent property of self-consciousness led to a universal curiosity in humans, i.e., what is life or what are we, both scientifically and philosophically.
The national educational policy explicitly states that “knowledge is a deep-seated treasure and education helps in its manifestation as the perfection which is already within an individual” (NEP 2020, Page 12, section 4.4). This further led to whether such an education/ educational institution/educational curriculum is being practiced? Are our institutions more focused on imparting knowledge about our surroundings and less on the self? Are not self-consciousness has been mainly exploited for learning about the surroundings? These questions further led to whether this self-consciousness can be used to manifest the “perfection which is already with an individual” and whether such a methodology exists?
The most apparent answer which can come to our mind is religion. However, religion is primarily applied in a personal space. Numerous wars in history have been fought due to the misinterpretation of religion. Religion lacks universal applicability, whereas self-consciousness is a universal human attribute. Furthermore, Article 28 of the Indian constitution prohibits religious instructions in educational institutions, restricting religion as a versatile tool. Does religion only is a tool to generate knowledge? Do not we do experiments to generate knowledge?
Any knowledge imparted to a human being comes through the observation of natural or artificial experiments, and it is a consecutive, multifaceted and dynamic process. This first step is the preparation of the mind which involves the training of our neural networks towards understanding the subject, which includes reading, understanding, logical reasoning, discussion, and listening to the views of subject experts. Similarly, observation requires selecting the right tool, and the experiment needs proper variables and control. Moreover, this requires further analysis of results and comparing with the existing knowledge landscape and correct interpretation. This process converts tangible information to intangible assets, which are further applied for tangible changes in society and the benefit of humanity.
Can not whether an experiment within should be carried out? Whether not actively or passively, we always learn from the experiments called life. Whether not, this self-consciousness can be used to generate the intangible asset about self, which will have a similar impact for the benefit of individual and thus society as of science. We have already argued about the incompleteness of our education system in generating such an attribute. Now we reach the question of how this intangible asset can be developed and what the methodology should be?
The methodology of science, which is knowing about our physical world, requires extensive and subject-specific infrastructure as an event can have biological, physical, chemical, and societal facets and is also dependent on the scale of study. While the methodology of knowing self can be termed as spiritualism should require self-consciousness as an ingredient and mind as an instrumental tool and a relatively non-expansive endeavor for educational institutes.
Methodology of both science and spiritualism requires hard work and perseverance. Spiritualism, although methodological simple, involves the conversion of the intangible event to an intangible asset, whereas science consists of transforming an actual event into an intangible asset. Hence, it will always be hard to comprehend spiritualism compared to science. Both the procedure require tremendous faith with curiosity. When we perform any scientific experiment, we generate belief about the existing literature and design our experiments. We either add to the knowledge or refine the current literature based on the experimental outcomes. However, performing experiments is an essential requisite for science and spiritualism.
A dichotomy exists both in the field of science and spiritualism. Atoms interact due to the presence of electrons and form bonds to make themselves more stable. However, electrons have duality, i.e., they exist both as a particle and wave, which complicates the calculation for a large system, say of more than 100 atoms. Hence, for the simulation of large biological molecules, the atoms are represented as balls, and bonds are represented as sticks. This approximation also worked and was awarded the chemistry Nobel prize in 2013. Similarly, what we observe is not necessarily equivalent to the truth, and the famous example while watching the sun moving around the earth and knowing it is not valid.
As for science, spiritualism also needs a conducive environment to flourish, although less resource-intensive than science. Like science, spiritualism also requires a constant engagement with simple rules of practice, practice, and practice. Like science, spiritualism starts with curiosity and needs a continuous input of ideas/thoughts either from inside or outside. The objective function of science is to do what generates new facts, whereas the objective function of spiritualism is to do what makes oneself more powerful. Like science, a dichotomy exists in spiritualism too, like to know about your mind, the tool is also the same mind.
More can be said, but spiritualism/science is all about practicals and practice. Could our universities start with the simple concept that helping others will make you more powerful? Lets students do the practicals in their daily life and see what they feel. Instead of teaching morals, this can be more effective as the concepts here are self-generated, hence can be easily comprehended. Like science, spiritualism can also have many methodologies/concepts/approximations to make things more practical within the explored scale. For example, try to practice believing/having faith in self and then ask students about their opinions. Other methods could be to ask the students to spend 10 minutes with themselves and ask how they feel. Can not we discuss the students with different life scenarios and let them discover what they should do.
Similarly, there exist thousands of techniques in spiritualism similar to science. However, the bigger question is, do we need an education “to manifest the perfection which is already with an individual”? If yes, then where there is a will, there is a way. We live in the Anthropocene era, and Homo sapiens influence the planet. Today or tomorrow, we ultimately need to learn to control our-self so that humanity continues to survive, sooner the better for a harmonious world.
Disclaimer: Manish Manish is supported by CSIR Scientists’ Pool Scheme, File number 13(9108-A)/2020-POOL and works at JNU, New Delhi. The opinions in the article are of the author and do not reflect the opinion of either CSIR or JNU.
Dr. Manish did his M.Sc and Ph.D. from Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. Dr. Manish's research focuses on Multidisciplinary Platforms for Vaccine and Drug Development and smartphone-based mosquito/parasite surveillance system. Dr. Manish has been awarded Fulbright Fellowship funded by the department of state, USA, and SBRI-India-GID Fellowship funded by NIH Fogarty International Centre and worked at the University of Washington, Seattle. Dr. Manish also worked as an Assistant professor at Manipal University Jaipur, as ICMR-RA at the School of computational and Integrative sciences, as DST-Young Scientist at ICMR-NIMR. Currently, he is working as a CSIR pool scientist at SCIS JNU.