Correspondence with Ravi Ravindra

From Ravi Ravindra 11 November 2016 at 20:28

Dear Friends: As far as I can understand, if there is one common lesson of all the scriptures and all the sages, it is simply this: As long as one remains the way one is, one cannot come to the Truth (or God or whatever other label one wishes to use for the Real). A radical transformation of our whole being—including the body, mind and the feelings—is recommended so that we can develop the eyes of the spirit—which alone can see the things of the spirit—and not be wholly confined to looking with the eyes of the flesh, however magnificently enlarged.

Implied is the strong idea that at different levels of consciousness, or at different levels of subtler and subtler perceptions, different laws apply to the seer and they can overcome some of the laws of ordinary nature which bind people at lower levels of consciousness. Thus, the so-called miracles are not super-natural; they are also part of the enlarged domain of nature and belong to subtler aspects of nature, perceivable to those who have subtler (traditionally called ‘spiritual’) eyes.

Modern materialist science does not require the kind of transformation of the scientists from the eyes of the flesh to the eyes of the spirit.

Also, a basic assumption of modern science is that matter is the primary reality, primary both in the sense of the first reality as well as in some ways the ultimate reality. Consequently it is assumed that we understand something rigorously scientifically if the phenomenon in question can be explained in terms of matter in motion.

Any extended science needs to question the fundamental assumption of matter being the primary reality. Secondly, we need to explore the requirement of transformation of the scientists who wish to understand the subtler aspects of reality which can hardly be exclusively physical.

For many years I have been raising the question with my scientific friends ‘Is Yoga a Science?’ In general, they don’t seem even interested in the question. As I have wrestled more and more with two of the classics of Yoga—the Yoga Sutras and the Bhagavad Gita*—I am more and more convinced that a serious study of the philosophy and psychology of Yoga will be of great help in any exploration of Extended Science.

Several of the related questions were explored in my book Science and the Sacred (Quest Books, 2002); this may interest some of you. Attached here is a paper presented at the conference on “Science, Consciousness and Ultimate Reality” in London, England, June 29-July 1, 2002, and published in D. Lorimer (ed.) Science, Consciousness & Ultimate Reality, Imprint Academic, UK, 2004; pp. 93-108. Translated into Italian and published in Auto Ricerca, No. 4, Anno 2012 , pp. 17-36 as “Yoga, Fisica e Coscienza.”

Warm good wishes,

Ravi Ravindra

Reponse from Chris Thomson On Nov 12, 2016, at 1:37 AM

Dear Ravi

Thank you for this.

The big question for the Commission is: how?

How will scientists change themselves, such that they can use additional forms of perception and consciousness in their explorations? For example, will a training in consciousness and perception be a obligatory part of their training to be scientists?

And how will the core assumption that consciousness is primary and matter secondary become widely accepted? Although it seems to be accepted by some in the rarified world of quantum physics, it is certainly not had much impact within science and scientists as a whole. As you know, much turns on that core assumption.

A lot has been said and written about the “what” and “why” of extended science. The Commission aims to go beyond these, to try to find some answers to the “how”.

Best wishes


From Ravi Ravindra November 12, 2016 at 2:54:00 PM AST

Dear Chris: Greetings! I am convinced that we need ‘extended’ (‘transformed’ will be better) scientists to engage in Extended Science. During 1978-80, when I was the founding director of the newly established Threshold Award, one of the members of the Advisor Committee for the Award was Roshi Nanrei Kobori, the Head of Rinzai Zen in Japan. With his agreement, we had launched a very short lived initiative inviting bright post-graduate students in the Physics Depart at Princeton University to apply for a scholarship which would take them to Japan where they would be engaged in Zen meditation during a period of three to four months.

Whatever philosophers and others may say, science will be done only by scientists. Our conviction was, and still is, that if a bright science student has some experience of a serious spiritual teaching (quite different from any religious dogma) even for a few months, his/her engagement with scientific research—what sorts of questions are important and what sorts of answers are acceptable—will change.

However, we soon discovered that by the time one is a post-graduate student, especially in Physics at Princeton, he/she is thoroughly brainwashed in the materialist and reductionist science and is aiming at a Nobel Prize (especially at that time). We discovered what should have been obvious that the journey of transformation needs to begin much earlier than at the time of being a post-graduate student. Many factors are involved: cultural background, family input, some special feeling based experiences, encountering some wise and respectable people who are not doing science but have an inspiring life, and the like.

After all, why are the people to whom you have sent the invitation to make some contribution towards an Extended Science—including you and I—different from the vast majority of very bright and dedicated scientists happily engaged in the standard materialist science? Following the standard academic dogma, one is inclined to think that this is a matter of rational argument. This is one of the fallout of the so-called ‘Enlightenment’ mind-set. Can you imagine a more misleading label than ‘enlightenment’ for this perspective? A natural consequence of this is that none of the great poets, artists or musicians can have any contact with reality. No wonder William Blake regarded Locke, Newton and Bacon as members of an Infernal Trinity.

Nothing in my spirit allows me to dismiss the possibility that the Buddha, the Christ, Krishna or Lao Tse; or Michael Angelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Bach or Uday Shankar; or Plotinus, Nagarjuna and Shankara had some contact with what is Real. To the extent that our modern science dismisses their contact with Reality, I personally find myself, especially as I get older, dismissing the possibility that materialist science has any contact with any worthwhile Reality.

I had referred to an article of mine in my general e-mail. There is another one in a book edited by you, David Lorimer, et al, namely, Wider Horizons: Explorations in Science and Human Experience. My article in that book is titled “Yoga and the Future Science of Consciousness.”

Hope to see you in the Mystics and Scientists Conference in April 2017. With warm good wishes,