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The spirit of science

I cannot help thinking that as part of our journey away from separation and towards integrated wholeness, spirit and science must agree to meet, complement and even enhance one another.

Often confused with religion, spirit is of another dimension, it belongs to the vast realm of ‘Stillness’ as cranial osteopath Rollin Becker terms it. Here lies the fabric, the tabula rasa and the source of Being, of all that is. Its force permeates everything in the universe and unites us all.

It is thanks to its pervasiveness that we are an inherent part of the natural world surrounding and constituting us.

Nowhere have I found this interweaving more present than in my biodynamic craniosacral practice.

We are complex living organisms, home to an incommensurable amount of processes, functions, interactions between tissues, potency and fluid, but also home to countless amounts of other living organisms such as bacteria and microbes…, a jungle-like microcosm that constantly interfaces and exchanges both internally and with our surrounds— an extraordinary, miraculous, ecosystem.

I learned about it simply as a ‘system’ and have never taken to this mechanistic word. Our bodies are so much more than mere combinations of “systems”.

Before I put my hands on a client, I first settle into the stillness within me, I attune to its frequency and my contact emerges from its vast anchor. As my body resonates to stillness it becomes a fulcrum, an organising centre, to which this other living organism can orient.

Dr Rollin Becker, cranial osteopath, used to call this Stillness his "Silent Partner":

"Your Silent Partner is a fulcrum point; it's absolutely still. (...) it is the source of energy, the state from which energy comes...There is no motion and yet it's all motion."

Of the state of knowing, he says, " ...if I did know, then it wouldn't be a Silent Partner. That would be making it part of the same limited-effect world that everything in our mind can touch is." (The Stillness of Life, Rollin Becker, 2000)

Our learning is also grounded in science. As I make contact, I am aware of the anatomy, the neurology, the endocrine and immune functions, the embryology… all at play at once in a fantastic symphony yet I intuitively know, I sense that underneath it all sits a dynamic stillness which powers and underlies all. It is while I surrender to its unfolding that magic takes place. "I" goes beyond knowing and the ego disappears for a time.

We come from Stillness and to it we return but it is within us throughout our lives. Our form is imbued with its presence and it orchestrates our whole.

This spirit, or conscience, or consciousness is in our hearts, our muscles, our blood, our livers, our finger nails…

We are not our nervous system. Embryologist Jaap Van Der Wal beautifully puts it: “ The embryo challenges the idea that we are our brain because it does not have a brain for more than eight weeks… The way you exist as an embryo is through a soul awareness that is not neurological… ‘I’ move my arm. I’m not moved by my brain.”

He adds that “science is a reduced reality” because for so long it has vainly attempted to objectify it— an impossible task.

He refreshingly confesses that in his study of the embryo, "I am searching for spirit in the human being.There is something more at stake than the matter dimension."


As craniosacral practitioner I know that there is a constant interplay between the forces of stillness in my being and my conditioning (my and my ancestors' history).

It is this interaction that I contact during a biodynamic craniosacral session. I hold both expressions with the potential to resolve into Stillness, into coherent wholeness, beyond duality.

Many scientists have acknowledged and embraced the mystery of the unknown. Some famous ones like Albert Einstein or Max Planck are known for their spiritual and spirited declarations and integration of the unknown, the beyond in their theories.

It is physicist and Nobel Prize winner Max Planck, who famously said, “An experiment is a question which science poses to Nature, and a measurement is the recording of Nature's answer.”

It is also Planck who asserted, “Whence come I and whither go I? That is the great unfathomable question, the same for every one of us. Science has no answer to it.”

Albert Einstein for his part said, “Every one who is seriously involved in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that a spirit is manifest in the laws of the Universe - a spirit vastly superior to that of man, and one in the face of which we with our modest powers must feel humble.”

Yet the world of academia opposes science to spirituality and often disregards or marginalises 'spiritual' scientists, while popular culture embraces their humanity.

Cranial osteopath Rollin Becker started his career as a physician and osteopath and later on became a student of William Garner Sutherland, the founder of osteopathy in the cranial field.

Sutherland's revolutionary discoveries of 'primary respiration' (as opposed to pulmonary breathing) rhythmically permeating our whole organism and what he called the "Breath of Life", this life force intrinsic to Being on this planet, led him to tread carefully where no man had gone before.

Dr Sutherland's view on this matter is stated in a 1950 letter to Dr Becker, "It [is] important at this stage to keep clear of the spiritual... It is necessary for the present to keep to the material [level] concerning material for publication."(The Stillness of Life, Rollin Becker, 2000)

They were resonant with the cultural mindset of the times and were also its unfortunate victims. They were concerned that it could lead to confusion and misinterpretation. And they were probably right, but by only whispering the role of spirit, of what some call the divine, they also played into the hands of a particularly dominant section of society that thrived on a mechanistic, materialistic, fragmented view of life. The very one that has allowed for the objectification and manipulation of life and resources on Earth.

Many other scientists have fallen into that trap.

It is high time science and spirit are rightfully considered as two sides of the same coin. One cannot go without the other. Just like matter cannot go without anti matter and space without nothingness. The Universe comes from the void.

If science deals with the natural world as it is, it cannot but encompass the spiritual pervading its core, enlivening it into being. Any science worthy of its name ought to be spiritual and as Einstein advises, tread humbly and respectfully in the face of the infinite unknown.

Only then can we feel inspired by science. Only then can it step down from its pedestal and truly integrate our lives.

For our culture reveres science yet it is also repelled and even scared by it as it deems it beyond our reach, destined to the lofty few who can understand it. This further adds to a de facto separation mindset.

It is scientists from up on high that have written these gigantic over a thousand page reports warning us of the impending effects of climate change.

Why are we still not responding adequately? Why does their factually-based message of gloom lack resonance and feel remote, leaving it open to discussion by many still?

I would offer that it is precisely because of this unnatural dissonant ‘separation’ between science and spirit, this long entrenchment between the two which has robbed science of its magic and spirit of its flesh and bones.

The two are inextricably enmeshed: the material and energetic both equally partake of the living matrix yet we continue to pretend otherwise and live in a dualistic, segregated worldview.

This sad state of affairs leaves us bereft of the necessary inspiration to lead us forward and envision a non dual way of being, one that is congruous with this integrated whole, as Life on our planet is increasingly endangered.

Imagine a world where science and spirit, science and the magic of Being are reconciled, widely perceived at last as intricately enhancing and bolstering one another; providing the backdrop for our unfettered imagination to bloom and driving our inspiration forward.

As French philosopher and anthropologist Edgar Morin says, "Conscience without science and science without conscience are mutilated and mutilating." ( Science with Conscience, Edgar Morin, 1982)

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