Response to Science and Spirituality: Any Points of Contact?
Dr. T.R. Seshagiri Rao
Dr. J.S.R.L. Narayana Moorty presented an erudite paper on the above subject at the Krishnamurti Centennial Conference held at Miami University, Oxford, Ohio on May 18, 1995. I fully agree with his argument that the positions of the scientists and the mystics are not comparable, However, I wish to add that the search of the scientists and mystics for the state of unity is like a blind man's grope in a dark room for a black cat that is not there.
The scientists' pursuit is rationally supported by the fundamental research in physics and allied subjects during the last two centuries. The knowledge thus acquired is confined to the limitations of comprehension by the human brain which in turn is programmed by his sensorial receptors whose spectrum is limited. The human brain which is a computer serves the main function of the survival of the organism, which is a problem that does not exist with computers.
The mystics, on the other hand, use their meditative ability to conduct an in-depth probe into their 'thought-self' complex and finally eliminate or annihilate it. The mystic thus enters into a state of samadhi/chaitanya/unity merging his consciousness with the external all pervading 'consciousness'. It may be a state of delusive euphoria wherein he feels united with the ultimate reality/god/creation, etc. But his sensorial acuity widens, thus conferring upon him certain paranormal powers. His quest usually ends at that point which is nothing but a physiological state.
U.G., the central figure in the paper of Dr. Moorty, is known to me from 1943 after his marriage to my sister. I had the opportunity to study him at close quarters till he left India for the U.S. I met him again after thirty years, i.e., after his 'calamity'. The profound transformation of his personality astounded me and also roused my curiosity as a medical scientist. I had also the unique opportunity to study Sri Ramana Maharshi and Sri J. Krishnamurti at close quarters. In addition, I enjoy a few peeps into ecstatic states after practicing the meditation taught by J. Krishnamurti. Further studies in neurophysiology as part of my profession as Professor of Radiology, Radiation Physics, Radiobiology, Molecular Biology, and Genetics enhanced my curiosity to study parapsychology and mysticism.
U.G. kept himself well informed about the recent developments in fundamental physics, quantum mechanics, evolution, genetics, and molecular biology, in addition to his earlier grounding in all the related literature from the East and the West—from the Vedas to Aristotle, Kant, Marx and Engels, etc. During his talks with many in India, I was fortunate to comprehend in full his exposition concerning the changes within himself after his 'calamity'.
Dr. Moorty succeeded in bringing out the subtleties in U.G.'s teaching in greater clarity than U.G. himself. My commentary is meant to fill certain gaps in the terms and concepts of neurophysiology, radiation and the still vexed question of 'energy'. I have made an effort to offer some explanations of the concepts of consciousness, memory, thought process, the mysteries of the mind and some paranormal phenomena.
Man created God and defined God's domain. Religion divided man against man. The "Garden of Allah" has no domain, but man imprisoned himself, denied himself his freedom, freedom from fear. Fear begot 'God'. So, science and religion are not related, whereas science and mysticism are quests of man into the unknown. The methodology of each is different, and the two are not comparable. Both scientists and mystics are motivated in their quest and their motives are products of their brain-mind complex. But this motive is not related to survival. So the quest of both is rational, and intended to discover the mystery of reality. The scientific method is well known. The methods and results of mystics and yogis have been investigated to some extent by scientists and reported elsewhere.
Changes in cosmic radiation affect life on earth. Matter is formed from cosmic energy, and life is a development from matter. Man is a product of evolution. Electrical potential generated in each cell sustains life and all vital activities. This field of electrical energy generates magnetism all around, which in turn is affected by the electromagnetic and geomagnetic forces. Life is sustained by an equilibrium with the environment; otherwise disease and death ensue. The body disintegrates after death into its elements, leaving nothing behind except its progeny.
Man is a highly developed organism in the scale of evolution. His structure and function are highly complicated, particularly his central nervous system which controls all activities in order to sustain life, survival, and propagation.
The human central nervous system is a well developed computer. It functions continuously with the electrical energy generated by all the living cells in the body, collected and stored possibly in the brain stem, and supplied to all the other parts of the brain such that it functions in all the stages of consciousness (wakeful, subconscious, sleep, and unconscious). The smallest vital component of the central nervous system is a neuron (parallel to a byte in a computer) and its molecules (parallel to bits). Sensorial impulses are received through the nerves, stored as information (memory), and sent out again by the nerves when retrieved. Genetic information is also stored in the appropriate areas of the cerebral cortical neurons. Memory is the residue of experience through the senses which are the only connection between the living organism and the environment. Neuro-chemicals have a special function in the conduction of the impulses, and endocrine glands also play a vital role. Such complex equipment is not available in a computer, but may be necessary in a robot at a later stage in the development of artificial intelligence.
The hypothalamus and the amygdaloid-hippocampus nuclei sense, sort, and send the endocrine-associated neural impulses to the right brain (cf. Penfield experiments). When electrical impulses are gunned by micro electrodes into the hypothalamus of rats, they, in a state of ecstasy, forsake food, water, sex, and sleep (cf. Prof. Desraj's experiments in NIMHANS, Bangalore, India). Possibly the "self" disappears in them during that period and reappears after the current flow is stopped when they resume normal activities immediately. This is probably analogous to the state of the mystic or yogi in a meditative trance.
The swellings and severe pain traveling upwards in the spine for a week or so experienced during the 'calamity' of U.G. at the age of 49, in J. Krishnamurti at age 27, and in Ramana Maharshi at age 14 may indicate the possibility of the mobilization of the body's electrical energy into a high voltage surge in the caudaequina of the lumbar region, extending upwards to the region of the medulla, the mid-brain, and the cerebral cortex, resulting in the erasure of the memory associated with emotions—particularly in the right cerebral cortex, and a permanent and total change in personality and behavioral pattern.
My offer to conduct such an experiment was flatly refused on the grounds of ethics, but further experiments on apes and chimps may help. The residual personality is termed as "Natural Man" by U.G. Paranormal powers acquired by such persons can be attributed to the extended sensitivity of the brain and increased spectrum of perception. Increased visibility, concentration of vision so as to move matter, stop the center seconds hand of a watch, thought-reading, and thought-projection are some of the phenomena observed and verified by scientists. Yogis have slowed down the heartbeat, were buried in tightly sealed coffins for more than 72 hours, could suck water through their anuses and the penises, and survived after ingestion of deadly poisons. In physiological terms, perfect control over the autonomous nervous system was obtained. It is also possible that a magnetic aura exists around such people, as is claimed in some photographs purporting to capture such auras.
The investigative physicist's study in this field is more objective and hence his inability to interact with these subtle forces unless he subjects himself to the Yogic/Buddhist/Tibetan disciplines, at least to get a glimpse of what is happening. Maybe then he is in a better position than the mystic to realize the "truth." Perhaps Professor Bohm is pursuing both types of investigation. However, U.G. is perfectly correct in his criticism of the scientist's chase after his tail as a kind of "vortexical involutionary" struggle.
As mentioned earlier, the sense of union with "reality" is a physiological state that can be reproduced experimentally in a monkey or a man. Unless the scientist experiences the mystical trance, he remains a prisoner of his brain and thoughts. However, what is the goal of a "natural" mystic like U.G.? Nothing! He is often referred to as a teacher which designation he denies, as he also refuses to address any curious groups. His motto is that nothing can be taught.
Is the mystic guilty of self-aggrandizement? The scientist may be. The mystic may end his quest when he lands, temporarily or permanently, in the land of 'reality', which is his blind end of a physiological state of 'bliss'. He may quit at any time this exercise of his, but the scientist sticks to his study. And this may be his self-aggrandizement! Einstein, Sheldrake, and Bohm might all have had a mystic glimpse into this state of 'bliss'. Scientists should supplement their knowledge of physics with neuro-physiology if they are truly convinced about the origin of life from matter and evolution.
The discussion furnished so far may also answer the vexatious question of the 'soul' which does not exist, unless it is equated with 'energy'. Even some scientists are besotted with god and religion and refuse to face the truth unless they equate their 'energy' with 'god'. In that case, there is no need for religion for the scientist except as a quagmire to bind him in perpetual intellectual slavery!
As stated earlier, memory cannot exist outside of the neuron which serves a function similar to that of a magnetic tape or a laser or a computer disc. Retrieval of the recorded signal is necessitated by a new challenge and is projected into the display as a picture or thought. Thought requires language. Otherwise, it is simple fantasy which can be communicated with gestures similar to the ones aborigines use. Thoughtless action is reflex action for which ensures survival. It short circuits time and thought. Thought as energy conforms to the electro-magnetic wave propagation formula e = ny. Hence its ability to work.
So thoughts can survive the body and may be received by another brain tuned to the same wavelength, then translated or stored; and finally, they may end up in action. Dreams are thoughts projected into the subconscious display as dreams. Thought has no origin except from genetic or acquired memory. What is considered a new thought stems from the deductive capacity of the brain-computer based on the knowledge recorded earlier, analyzed logically, and retrieved in order to answer a new challenge. Similarly, dreams cannot arise de novo, though the dream content may appear as fresh and sometimes fantastic. Forewarning in dreams is based on the silent logical information stored in the brain.
[The writer once had a dream of a serious event which occurred 48 hours later at a far-away place. This dream-future-event sequence can be explained by the fact that the time difference of 48 hours does not exist at a point beyond the earth's orbit. The event occurred at the same time as the dream and the information was received by the dreamer on earth where the time element is relative to the self-rotating motion of the earth around itself once every 24 hours!]
Physiological consciousness is nothing but excited electronic flux (magnetic field) maintained in the brain, similar to a TV tube that serves the function of receiving the thought-wave and picturization. Thought formulation and recognition are the memory functions of the neuron. As long as this picture tube is kept clear of fantasy, fiction, and monkey chatter arising from the brain and eliminated by the meditative process, the brain performs better. The external electromagnetic and gravitational disturbances have also the power to create similar disarray in the brain-thought complex.
All that is living on earth that generates and carries electricity is very much susceptible to the external electromagnetic flux. The higher-energy-carrying gamma rays, etc. of the spectrum harmful to the living are filtered out in the outer atmosphere. Excessive ultraviolet and infrared radiation is also damaging. So, an equilibrium is maintained to sustain life on earth. Mutations and evolutionary mechanism are well known and documented.
The electromagnetic spectrum is not, however, self-luminous, and the sun, the planets, and the stars in the galaxy are not emitting light. Only the light-sensitive organs like the retina respond to the seven frequencies of the electromagnetic spectrum and convert them into electrical impulses, which are then transmitted through the optic nerves to the respective areas of the brain and converted into sensations of light.
Similarly, sound waves which impinge on the tympanum (ear drum) are the vibrative energy that is transmitted to the three bones in the middle ear, converted into electrical impulses in the inner ear, carried by the auditory nerve to the respective areas of the brain, and finally translated into sound. The other sense organs like the skin, the tongue, and the nose carry information to the brain for identification and recording. All these are survival phenomena. The logical conclusion that follows from this discussion is that the universe in itself is dark and silent! The external world does not exist to the living organisms deprived of the five senses. This paradox is termed maya, or 'illusion', in Indian philosophy.
It is surprising that all the physicists that investigate the cosmic phenomena, experiment, postulate, discuss, illustrate, and publish their opinions, particularly on Quantum Mechanics, never mention this paradox. A photon that carries energy and excites the eye is recognized as light. The ultraviolet and the infrared frequencies are not visible. If light is polarized in one direction and interposed again by a second polariser placed horizontally, no light comes out after filtration by both polarisers in the different positions.
That a photon is considered both a particle and a wave is considered a paradox in quantum mechanics. But is it possible that the character of a light photon (visible wave lengths) is altered by the polarisers by increasing or decreasing the wave length of the ultraviolent or infrared rays which do not excite the retina? A photon of light is not self-luminous and it may also be carrying higher and lower energy waves. Is not a photon an electron particle converted into an x-ray wave by imparting it higher energy?
Matter also consists of dynamic electrons. Matter may be stable or it may disintegrate, as uranium and radium do, emitting different particles and wave forms of energy. All the living creatures on earth also absorb and radiate energy. So, the universe along with the earth is flushed with radiation energy which is perceptible in different forms. The energy is in equilibrium most of the time except for some inter-stellar disturbances and turbulences which also have an effect on the living organisms on earth. A flying bird stops right over a plant and drops down vertically like a stone and is devoured by the plant! It means that a powerful beam of energy has neutralized the energy of the bird in flight. Similar phenomena termed as "occult" are seen in human interactions and are called "miracles" by the glib! Adequate knowledge of physical and biological sciences is available now to explain rationally various "miracles" performed and reported. Molecular Biology and genetics have now revealed the mysteries of generations.
Returning now to our study of U.G., to say that he lives in a thoughtless state is not accurate. Only his thoughts are not colored like ours but are purely objective, uncontaminated and transitional. He lives, eats (differently, of course, due to metabolic changes), sleeps, talks, meets people, jokes and laughs heartily like a new born baby. To describe him briefly, he lives exactly like a baby.
We are educated and cultured, we are knowledgeable, opinionated, assertive and steeped in desires—all for 'survival'. So, our thought process is different, because it is derived from and colored by memory. U.G.'s thoughts arise de novo and leave no residue. He lives as part of consciousness and we live in duality as separate entities qualified and blinded by our 'ego'-'self' complex built and nurtured from birth.
After U.G.'s "calamity," his 'involution-self' complex ceased and evolution took over. He is not capable of watching himself as though he is separate from himself. He is part and parcel of the phenomena. This is paradoxical to us because the physiological change in him cannot be understood or experienced by us. That is U.G. His paranormal powers, on the other hand, are explainable.
In conclusion, man, matter, and energy are made up of the same stuff in different forms. Man's comprehension and perceptive powers are limited, limited by the spectrum of his senses. Hence his inability to comprehend in full. He thus gives names and attributes qualities to that which baffles him, in spite of all his achievements in knowledge, science, and technology. Neither the saint nor the scientist is capable of grasping that which is not there. But the quest goes on and should go on. IT reveals and unfolds itself, but it takes its own time.
Dr. T.R. Seshagiri Rao
No. 1, Green Park, Whitefield
Bangalore 560 066