2007 Review, Part 1

Scott Virden Anderson Blog

Along with the above noted, in December ‘06 I also worked to change the name of YREC to the Yoga Science Foundation and develop a simple YSF website.  The new name, the website, and the newly discovered STSe all debuted in brief presentations at SYTAR in Los Angeles in mid January.  (We subsequently changed the name again to YREF for good reasons I won’t go into here).

Then, in January…

I began working with webmaster Wolfgang to develop a Yoga Science Forum website and logo (now still “under construction” at yogascienceforum.com).  I imagined that the dialog between Yoga (including Buddhism) and Science was far enough along to make a “forum” useful.  However, as the weeks went by, I began to see that what I was really wanting to do was describe what I’ve come to suspect is an “unexpected offspring” of that dialog as it has taken place in my own life over the past 40 years – the “hybrid” that I’m calling the “Yoga Science.”

In late January I ran across the work of astrophysicist Piet Hut at the Institute for Advanced Study (http://www.ids.ias.edu/~piet/index.html) regarding the possibility of a “subjective science.”  I did an extensive review of his work on this theme, drafted “The Subjectoscope” in response, and circulated it for review.  I got extensive and helpful comments from Andrew Porter and Kent Palmer. (Piet replied that he was too busy to look at it.)

The “Subjectoscope” article was my first attempt to give a sophisticated articulation of how it is that the STS might be used as a tool along which to align, and thus better understand, the subjective experience of Yogis and contemplatives throughout the ages with the objective findings of the sciences.  (I’ve written several articles since that elaborate these themes in simpler language that are posted here in the documents section.)  At some point, I may revise and update the Subjectoscope article with corrections, clarifications, and discoveries made since – we’ll see how things develop.

In February we got notice that the works of noted Venezuelan scholar and Yogi Elias Capriles were being made available on the web for the first time.  Susan and I delighted in reading through his Buddhism and Dzogchen (in English translation) for its beautifully articulated overview of this centrally important tradition of Tibetan Yoga.  Although Elias is not a scientist, as a contemporary he has a working familiarity with scientific modes of thought to contrast with the pre-modern Dzogchen tradition he practices and teaches – much food for Yoga Scientific thought here.

The first Shamatha Project three month retreat got underway in March at the Shambhala Mountain Center in Colorado.  Under the scientific direction of Cliff Saron and with B. Alan Wallace as the meditation trainer in residence, this project consists of some 14 concurrent experiments in cognitive neuroscience and psychology to monitor the progress of the 37 participants.  A 20 minute video of Alan’s opening talk (with a brief overview of the science and history) is available at http://www.sbinstitute.com/news.php?id=34.  A post-retreat interview with Alan is at http://www.thetibetconnection.org/guestsandstories.html.

The highlight of the spring for me was my afternoon with Kent Palmer and what came out of that conversation. As outlined in the blog entry for April 18, we discussed the possibility that the Three Domains of SummaTime that I first observed in November ’06 might line up with his three “Special Systems.”  This has become a key potential theoretical extrapolation for Yoga Science that I’ve been exploring since.  As of this writing, I feel that I’ve found many points of confirmation – most of which I’ve pointed out in the blog entries here.

The idea that stands out as of this writing is that the “Three Degrees of Complexity” that come out of this consideration might open a new way forward for the “sciences of complexity” that seem (to me at least) to have been bogged down for some time.  In summary, whereas matter has exploited the self-organizing opportunities afforded by complex systems in the outer domain of the STS, living systems seem to exploit additional opportunities (or “degrees of freedom”) opened up in hypercomplex systems in the mid-range domain of the STS.  Then, reflexive (and therefore) mental (and social) systems may be exploiting yet further opportunities opened up by the ultra-hypercomplex systems in the innermost domain of the STS.