Why Bring Mathematics into Spirituality?

Mathematics and spirituality, one may say, go hand in hand.

Much has been known and written about the spiritual feelings of wonder, beauty and mystery evoked by mathematics among its ardent students. The “unreasonable effectiveness” of mathematics in describing this world has persuaded some to even believe in the divinity of mathematics. While laws of physics are not necessarily the same from one universe to the next, mathematical laws are eternal and pan-universal. In this respect Vedanta (- the “eternal philosophy”, which is also said to be universal and eternal-) and mathematics share a unique and equal place among sciences.

This website is not however concerned with the spirituality in mathematics, but rather with mathematics in spirituality. That is to say, it is concerned with the study of spirituality- especially as it is formulated in the philosophy of Advaita Vedanta- using mathematical models. Vedanta has been successfully studied and taught for centuries using only verbal reasoning and intuitively appealing concepts. As a philosophy it is based on strict principles of logic and has withstood the test of many a debate. The twentieth century physics has also brought modern science surprisingly close to key Vedantic concepts.

You may then question why one should bother bringing mathematics into the picture. It started for me merely as a curiosity and a personal challenge to see if it is possible to express Vedantic logic in the language of mathematics. After some thirty years of work, I think I can safely say that this is possible. Also it is useful. I found mathematics can, by virtue of its many unique capabilities, lead one to a more simple, clear, and precise understanding of Vedantic teachings on human spirituality.

Mathematics demands strict discipline in thought development and this makes the resulting models robust. The processes and variables affecting spirituality have to be defined precisely with the relationship between the variables made explicit. Mathematics has a useful self correcting feature which helps in setting up credible models. Faulty or sloppy reasoning at any step shows up as absurd results sooner or later, forcing one to go back and correct. Once the model is correctly setup, analysis can proceed using the vast array of mathematical tools that have been made available to us by the effort of many past generations of mathematicians. The analysis reveals the role played by each variable clearly. It becomes possible to eliminate unnecessary or redundant variables which leads to simplify our understanding. I believe these benefits can be seen even in the first mathematical models developed to date and reported in my books.

A huge benefit of using mathematical models is in facilitating communication of the ideas. A picture is worth a thousand words. A mathematical model and its analytical results can be often visually communicated using graphs, charts and tables. This is much easier than communicating using only words. This benefit has been demonstrated in the case of mathematical spirituality also. Mindscape diagrams to display how the observer interacts with the observed and the in-bound Archimedean spiral depicting the worldly and spiritual life of sentient beings are two examples.

While what is accomplished so far has been personally satisfying to me, I am aware that it is just a demonstration of what more is possible and needed through further collaborative research effort.

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