The words hippie and spiritual mean different things to different people and they’ve been through the wash so many times that we can use them as a fun description of anyone who:
- does yoga and meditates
- who loves hanging out in nature
- who knows how to dance like no one is watching
- who sings like no one is listening
- who is ready to open their hearts to other people
- who wonders about the meaning of life
- who believes that we live in a beautiful world and that love really is part of the answer
Okay, but why do hippies need science?
Well, they don’t. Everyone does.
I fundamentally believe that everyone alive is a scientist. Our own bodies, our lives, the world we live in is like one ongoing experiment that we observe and learn from all the time. Our minds, our intuition, our feelings are all tools that we use to make sense of our lives as we search for truths.
But there are two different kinds of truth. There are the truths that we live by, the wisdom we gather, the journey of our lives in search of meaning.
And then there is the truth about the boiling point of water, the chemical composition of an apple, the lifespan of mosquitoes.
We need both to live in this world.
Science makes the world more magical, not less
I used to think scientists were these really arrogant nerds who just took all the magic out of the world. Then I did a lot of reading and discovered that scientists are mostly these really humble nerds who find everything fascinating.
As a hippie I would look out on a forest and say ah, Nature! But I didn’t really understand how any of it worked. When I started reading the science of forests I learned how trees lend each other water and nutrients through the season. I learned about the amazing defenses they have against animals who want to eat them. I learned about the beautiful symbiosis they have with fungi who grow on them.
Science helped me love nature even more.
‘May all beings be happy’
In meditation practices we’re sometimes invited to feel love for all sentient beings, to wish them all happiness.
But putting universal compassion into practice is more than just a feel-good mantra.
It’s about making the effort to understand the world and the creatures who live in it. If we really care about the world we can take the time to learn how nature works. If we really care about other people we can learn more about them.
For love to mean anything it needs to be specific. And that takes time and effort, it means facing uncomfortable truths, it’s not an easy process.
But that’s why all we need is love.