Yogicly-informed Scientific Intuition

Scott Virden Anderson Blog

Steven Wolfram describes in his New Kind of Science the unique opportunity he has had to spend years running computer experiments with cellular automata – basically as a kind of play — and how this “informed his scientific intuition” in an equally unique way.

I’ve come to feel that my experience has perhaps been unique in some ways as well — in my case, the opportunity to play with conceptual structures that might allow science to somehow interface with Yoga in a way that does no violence to either one.

My motivation has been personal integration — as I describe in the “Marginal Man” piece on the home page here — I’ve lived in both worlds for 40 years and so I have had compelling reason to “make it work” for both parties, if you will — both sides of my own personality — the Yogi and the Scientist.

A key turning point in the process was an event in Western Face Cathedral at the Mountain of Attention Sanctuary in Northern California in May of 1986 — roughly 20 years into my dual life and now almost 21 years ago — early one spring morning, sitting in the pitch dark with hundreds of others, in silent meditation, in the company of Adi Da — then known as Swami Da Love-ananda.

It lasted only a moment, but it stood out then as unique — a moment of nonduality, of “non-separateness” — and it has continued to stand out for having initiated a gradual but spontaneous process of integration around itself.

That Yogic moment was no accomplishment of mine — it was entirely spontaneous and “given.”

In the months and years that have followed, that moment appears to have acted as a kind of seed around which has grown a complex and multi-faceted consideration — really as a kind of spontaneous spare-time play — about how Yoga and Science might share a common destiny.

I’ve tested that intuition over the past 21 years and now feel ready — if only barely, to begin to undertake a description of the result — the “Yoga Science” as I’m beginning to describe it now, here, in public.

The basic intuition is that nonduality is itself the key, the nucleus around which a real Yoga Science can form.

Many Yogis already appreciate nonduality — it has been “known,” “experienced,” or “understood” in many ways over the millennia and there is much to be said about it in terms of the various “nondual traditions” — it seems they each developed their own unique perspectives, descriptions, and methods.

On the other hand, few Scientists have any idea how nonduality could be of any use whatsoever — it seems almost oxymoronic from a conventionally Scientific point of view given that Science up to know has thought of itself in terms that are rather unequivocally — and often rather dogmatically — dualistic.

So, my guess at this point is that hardest job will be to convince Science that nonduality is important and that taking it seriously could open important new vistas for Science and, perhaps most importantly, for applied Science and engineering in our world in crisis.

This is the reason I’m so excited about Kent Palmer’s work: he feels that he has discovered exactly how it is that our “Western Science” is, actually, both historically and conceptually, rooted in nonduality — and he has thought long and hard on this matter as a professionally trained philosopher, professional systems engineer, and practicing Sufi with a deep appreciation of nonduality.

The tack I’m taking with the Yoga Science Forum is to see if a meaningful discussion can be initiated with other “Yogi Scientists” — other “marginal” men and women of Science who have developed their Scientific intuitions via the practice of Yoga — broadly defined.

The idea is that these are the Scientists who will need the least convincing — they already have some degree of Yogicly-informed Scientific intuition to appeal to.

We’ll see.

I’m probably hopelessly naive about all this, but I’m at the stage of my life where I’ve got little to lose, we’ve got these fabulous web tools to work with, and so why not give it a try?