Spirituality with science? Many of us may believe this to be an impossible paradox. Some of us think of this as a possible way forward from the current crisis of our modern ways.
What made me ponder on this, is the sad news that one of my heroes, Anne Wilson Schaef has just passed away…😞
A psychotherapist with a native american origin, Anne had a unique ability to blend old wisdom with science. She has written some incredibly influential books that shaped my professional and personal views on life and healing. Books like: Living in Process; Beyond Therapy, Beyond Science; When Society Becomes an Addict, Escape from Intimacy. I would wholeheartedly recommend these books to all of you, who are feeling the shortcomings of our modern ways and looking for a way forward from that.
She helped me to see that we can integrate old wisdom that respected the huge importance of spirituality in our lives with good science and modern approaches. I know that it can feel fairly far-fetched for some of you to to talk about blending spirituality with science. Anne however has demonstrated in her books and in her life that we don’t have to take sides and chose one or the other. Science and spirituality can happily live together, when we open our hearts and minds to that possibility. The current disconnection and outright war between science and spirituality reminds me of the saying: throwing the baby out with the bathwater. I firmly believe that humanity has gained an incredible amount from science. Science showed us how much we can learn from what we can objectively observe. At the same time, science has been struggling with making sense of anything that is not easily measurable.
The field of therapy for example has been suffering from this immensely. So much of the magic that can happen between two human beings cannot be measured easily. So much of healing is to do with our subjective inner experiences that are difficult to make sense objectively. This is why approaches that are a bit easier to “formulate” and “standardise” (like CBT or EMDR) are what made it into the current health system. More subjective and personal therapy approaches are not made available the wider public, as they are not “evidence based”. We can see all around us the signs of what happens when we are only allowed to consider “real” what is objectively observable and ignore to have a scientific debate about subjective areas, like personal values, morals, the impact of culture on us, and yes, spirituality. Still, in my view, that is the way out of the widespread crisis in our prevailing culture. Anne Wilson Schaef has been a beacon of light for all of us towards that.
I am forever grateful for her courage and intuition to move us to uncharted waters and deepen the process of healing in which our culture is engaged.