Science: The Big and the Small

“All religions, arts and sciences are branches of the same tree. All these aspirations are directed toward ennobling man’s life, lifting it from the sphere of mere physical existence and leading the individual towards freedom.”*

Tuesday, January 3, 2006 1:10:46 AM

I wonder if it is possible for someone who has not written a Ph.D dissertation to know the joy of completing such an endeavor? It took me 10 years and I was ecstatic at the end. Anna, the best thing about writing a dissertation is the tremendous focus that it entails. You flex every ounce of intellectual muscle to get through the ordeal. You enter a deep meditation, an intellectual trance, that envelopes your being. Anna, the worst thing about writing a dissertation is that it ends and you are left with a huge hole in your life. You have focused on a single topic for years and suddenly you are hanging in mid air. You can easily collapse into depression. For my part, I was compelled to open another area of research. In effect, I started another dissertation that is going on even today. I undertook a layman’s study of astrophysics and quantum mechanics, the study of the big and the small. I was spared from depression.

How does a person who has been moving on the cutting edge of Hindu theology sudden shift into the field of physics? Are these two fields not worlds apart? In fact, they are different sides of the same endeavor, namely a quest for knowledge. Anna, till the day I had completed my dissertation I had spent the majority of my life in the humanities: literature, history, philosophy and religious studies. After my dissertation I found myself laying at the bottom of a intellectual pit with no place to go. It was true, I was satisfied with my dissertation, not simply because I had finally completed it, but from what it had taught me and what I had learned about myself along the way. However, I soon realized that I had completed only half of what I had set out to accomplish. So where was I to take my next step? It was not long afterwards that I published my dissertation, and one day, leafing through the new book, I noticed an astrological chart that I had placed in one of the appendixes. Astrology? I had been curious about this topic for years, so something in my mind told me to spend a little time and study the subject and see where it could take me. “A little time” ended up lasting seven years! My encounter with astrology is a topic that I have written just a little about, but where it took me was unexpected. I eventually found myself at the door step of astronomy and ultimately, science.

*Albert Einstein

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