Science, Fantasy, and Mysticism

Science, Fantasy, and Mysticism
by Starcat

“I have wondered if there isn’t some real connection between a certain kind of scientific-mindedness (the explorative, synthesizing kind) and fantasy-mindedness. Perhaps ‘science fiction’ really isn’t such a bad name for our genre after all. Those who dislike fantasy are very often equally bored or repelled by science. They don’t like either hobbits, or quasars; they don’t feel at home with them; they don’t want complexities, remoteness. If there is any such connection, I’ll bet that it is basically an aesthetic one.” – Ursula K. LeGuin

This connection between science and fantasy, and the aesthetic appeal that they have to certain types of people, I would suggest also extends to a certain type of mysticism. Many of the world’s most well-known philosophers and scientists were not atheists. They may not have confined themselves to the rigidly-held belief system of their times, but like Galileo Galilei, they did have a sense of awe at the majesty of the universe.

In the same way, some of those who became known as particularly wise spiritual leaders, such as Buddha, were also in touch with a living spirituality, one that was focused on experiencing reality, exploring it, and using the imagination to formulate new ideas about the world and how it works.

The mystic is an explorer of personal spirituality and experience. It’s hard not to respect the divinity of all the wonders of the earth and beyond, from the tiniest particles of matter to the sweeping vistas of outer space. This type of spirituality is closely connected to nature and less reliant on religious leaders or ancient texts. It could be described as a personal science, an individual and ever-changing theory of the way things work.

We often think of science and mysticism as being at opposite ends of a continuum. What if, instead, they are compatible ways of viewing life? The most creative thinkers of each have an open, flexible approach, and base their theories on the discoveries they make rather than rely on what others have said or done. As Albert Einstein famously quipped, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” The leading-edge scientist, the fantasy author, and the insightful mystic all embrace this open attitude, the aesthetic of connection and synthesis.