Science and spirituality converge for societal well-being

The Art of Living International Center
Karnataka, India
12th January 2013

Experts from 6 countries explore emerging models at a cutting-edge Symposium

Scientific experts from 6 countries addressed a vast audience at the International Scientific Symposium- "Science, Spirituality and Mental Health", hosted by the Art of Living in Bangalore, today.

The goal of this Symposium was to discuss the significant scientific research that shows how spiritual practices from Vedic traditions can positively impact the mental health and wellness of an individual in meeting the challenges and increasing pressures of the modern day world.

“Science has been my passion and it continues to be. Yoga is a science of mind – it begins with modulating the consciousness. And quantum theory also speaks of the fact that everything is made of one energy; field called mind and space that is called consciousness.Today, there is need for people to study both ancient and modern.I congratulate all scientists who have assembled here, to see beyond traditional methods for more scope for research,” said Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Spiritual leader, Humanitarian and Founder Art of Living as he gave the keynote inaugural speech.

Distinguished experts from India, Indonesia, Norway, Australia, Canada and USA, including Prof. Matcheri Keshavan, Harvard medical school presented their views on the collaboration of Eastern wisdom and modern western science to achieve optimum results in mental and physical wellness.

Prof Matcheri Keshavan, Harvard Medical School, USA gave an interesting talk titled ‘Mental State and Cognitive Therapy related to Geeta’. Highlighting the fact that Psychiatrists today have challenges of dealing with patients from anxiety, due to job stress, suicidal tendencies and relationship problems, he said, “The Geeta offers solutions which are very practical, as in it the Krishna acts as a counsellor to Arjuna who is in battle neurosis. He tells him to be established in yoga, being balanced and detached.” He also spoke about fact that yoga is not just asanas but wisdom of body and mind, of awareness of one's self and skill in action and recommended people to do right kind of action that suits their skill level.

While another leading luminary, Professor Russell D’Souza – Melbourne University, Australia said that new idea of spiritual intelligence is gaining momentum which has more importance than Emotional Intelligence and Physical Intelligence. He said that the Geeta provides many domains of knowledge such as Knowledge of life, Emotional regulation, control over desires, decisiveness, among others.

The symposium also included several papers on the symbiotic relationship between science and spirituality in India, where ancient scriptures and treatises have extrapolated direct as well as subtle connections between them.

Professor Fahri Saatcioglu, University of Oslo, Norway spoke on socio environmental factors that affect our genes for generations and said, “This is why Psycho Neuro Immunology is a very important area of research now. If there are too many stresses in our life,  the immune system breaks down. The Geeta speaks about mental and physical disorders. If you can’t cure the mind, you can’t cure the disease.” He also mentioned that yogic practices reduce the stress hormone cortisol and how yogasana, pranayama, diet, relationships, lifestyle changes impact our genome and hence our life and said,” Genetically, our genes are only 0.1% different, this is in support of the idea of one world family that essentially we are same.”

Aiming to make a constructive contribution to the ongoing dialogue of the convergence between science and spirituality, the symposium also served as a platform to explore resultant paradigms to aid societal well-being.

Picture Caption:

Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar addressing International Scientific Symposium, "Science, Spirituality and Mental Health". Dignitaries on the dais are Dr. Wolfgang Gaebel Head of Department of Psychiatry, University of Dusseldroff, Germany; Lisa Colson, Publishing Editor of the Asian Journal of Psychiatry, Publishing Manager of the Elsiever Publishers, Amsterdam; Dr. Matcheri Keshavan, Vice Chairman of Public Psyhicatry at Harvard University, Boston; Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Founder, Art of Living; Dr. Fahri Saatcioglu, Professor of Genentics, University of Oslo; Dr. Sridhar Sharma, Professor of Psychiatry at the National Academy of Medicine, Former Director General of Mental Health, India; Dr. Igusti Gunadim, Head of Department of Psychiatry, Airlingga University, Surabaya, Indonesia.