Yoga Background

Scott Virden Anderson About

I was in my final year as a science undergraduate at Harvard when I first met His Holiness Sri Swami Satchidananda in the Fall of 1967.

I was profoundly impressed by the man and most especially by a number of striking experiences I had in his company.

My initial response was a deep sense that here was an Old Testament saint walked right out of the pages of the Bible and into the basement of the Boston YMCA.

He had the appearance, the peaceful voice, and the simple wisdom that I’d come to associate with such an archetypal figure.

Then, several days later, I took a class in Hatha Yoga that he conducted in the parish house of the historic Arlington Street Church.

At the end of the class, after an hour of gently guided postures, he led us in a recumbent progressive relaxation that produced a deep sense of bodily peace.

More strikingly, this final exercise culminated in a vivid sense of the literal witnessing of thought and it became instantaneously obvious that I am not these thoughts that I am witnessing.

Here was born a core feature of my life ever since—my preoccupation with the relationship between “the witness” and all things witnessed—referred to in the classic Yoga Sutras of Patanjali as “the SEER and the SEEN.”

Yet more striking still, however, was the transfiguration I experienced later in the evening of that same day (I gave a brief description in my Presentation at SAND)—I’ve been attempting to “make scientific sense” of this experience ever since.

In the years that followed, as I became a student of his and trained as a teacher of Hatha and Raja Yogas, Swamiji always encouraged my ongoing study of and professional involvement in science.

In the course of getting a Master’s in genetics at UCONN, it became clear that the best way for me to continue my study of human biology would be in medical school.

Encouraged by Swamiji, I entered medicine as a practical way to “keep my hand in” science and simultaneously engage in a profession that would allow me to support a growing family as well as maintain geographic flexibility.

A Quarter Century with Adi Da Samraj

As I began my Master’s in 1975, I discovered the initial publications of the “upstart American guru” Bubba Free John—The Method of the Siddhas, and The Knee of Listening.

Over the course of the following year, I felt that Bubba was speaking directly to places in me that Swamij could not—most especially my “Western” mind.

In May of 1976, I had a conversion experience on the way to work one day—in a moment, stopped at a red light, it became obvious that Bubba was my Guru.

When I got to work I called Swamiji to report the news and he graciously blessed this new turn in my life.

As a “correspondent student” during my years at UCONN Medical School, I began my 26 years as a formal member of the Adidam community.

I was soon drafted by one of the senior doctors in the community into doing library research on the many issues that Bubba wanted us to find out more about—we had a long list that included finding cures for herpes, cancer, menopause, and aging—all then thought to be impossible tasks by medical standards.

Soon after I completed my training with an internship at UC Davis, Sacramento Medical Center, I moved to Lake County, California to be close to Bubba’s community and practice medicine as a rural country doctor.

In 1986, after ten years as a devotee, while sitting in meditation with Adi Da early one morning, I experienced a spontaneous moment of identification with the timeless Divine.

In the months after that moment, I became aware of a new impulse in me to bring together my outer life and my inner life.

This gradually took shape as my “SummaProject ”—a wholesale reframing of science “in the light of” yoga.

As I continued my daily routines of meditation, study, and contemplation along with an intensive schedule of medical practice over the ensuing years, I broadened my consideration to embrace fundamental issues in science and medicine.

In the mid ‘90s, this process intensified as the result of a month-long meditation retreat with Adi Da in Fiji,  providing direct research support to his personal physician, participation in the 2nd Tucscon Conference on the Science of Consciousness, and a most intimate heart exchange with Adi Da in 1997 in his home, the Manner of Flowers, while sitting directly at his feet.

As the SummaProject matured, my sense grew that it represented something altogether new.

Thus, when I retired from the practice of medicine in 2002, I was moved to “retire” from Adidam as well in order to devote myself more directly to the Summa and broaden my exploration of the spiritual traditions.

Dzogchen: the Summa Morphs into the Yoga Science

Having left Adidam, my attention was almost immediately drawn to a range of non-dualist teachings that were becoming popular with the arrival of the new millennium.

My wife Susan, (also a former long-time devotee of Adi Da Samraj) and I had the great good fortune to meet Chögyal Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche at St. John the Divine while on a family trip to New York City.

We were deeply impressed by the non-charasmatic directness of Norbu Rinpoche and in the decade since have been on numerous retreats with him.

Norbu Rinpoche is one of the last living “high lamas” still active who was fully trained in Tibet prior to the Chinese takeover mid-century, and he was the first to break the ancient taboo against offering the “most secret” Dzogchen teachings to the public.

Since the early ‘70s when he began teaching in Italy, he has produced a huge body of work, including original teachings discovered in his many lucid dreams, and has a sizable world-wide following.

In the same timeframe, Susan and I were asked by yoga scholar Georg Feuerstein to serve on the Board of Directors of his Yoga Research & Education Center.

In late 2003, Georg decided to pursue his passion for traditional Yoga in a non-institutional setting and left YREC.

The Board helped set the International Association of Yoga Therapists back on a course as an independent organization, and in early 2007 changed its name and purposes into the Yoga Research & Education Foundation.

I then began serious work on the Yoga Science Project as a direct continuation of my SummaProject–now with the support of YREF–and launched this website.

Most recently (Spring 2010), we have changed the name again to the Yoga Science Foundation, begun work on a book with a working title Founding Yoga Science, and initiated development of a new website for the Foundation.