Scott Virden Anderson, MD

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John Hagelin, Part 2 PDF Print E-mail

At the time of my first post re Dr. Hagelin’s work as a Yogi-Physicist, I emailed him requesting more information regarding his “Unified Field Equation” in the hopes that I could send Elizabeth Rauscher something she could sink her teeth into.

He eventually referred me to the front page of his magum opus in progress – The Maharishi Central University (http://www.maharishicentraluniversity.org) where a version of the equation can be found.  I s-mailed it off to Elizabeth for comment.

He also referred me to his book Manual for a Perfect Government, especially chapter III.

Despite the improbable title, I ordered the book from amazon and have read it through.

It is a remarkable mixture of idealistic hyperbole and good ideas – at least to me as a fellow Yogi-Scientist.

The conventional wisdom about TM (at least as reflected by the extensive critical material at such sites as www.trancenet.org, and no doubt others) seems to be that TM’s science (“over 600 studies”) is far too “in-house” to be believable (this despite numerous publications in peer-reviewed publications) and that John Hagelin has promoted himself, The Maharishi Effect, and his Unified Field Theory far beyond any serious scientific credibility.

My hunch is that the materialistic bias of contemporary Science makes it highly unlikely that a professed Yogi will get a fair hearing for any but the most strictly materialistic hypotheses.

This plagues all the “Science of Yoga” work going on currently — including even the most state-of-the-art cognitive neuroscience efforts, such as the Shamatha Project.

John Hagelin has chosen to align himself instead with what is clearly the Maharishi’s long-term project to revive traditional Hindu Vedic culture.

No doubt my eight years as a close student of Swami Satchidananda makes me more sympathetic to such an enterprise than the average scientist – the flowery excesses of traditional Hindu idealism and its inherent dualism are not an automatic put-off for me whereas I’m certain that the few scientists who have run across this title have dismissed it out of hand.

In any case, there are numerous ideas in Hagelin’s book that resonate with my own Yoga Science intuitions and speculations.  To list a few — in no particular order:

1. The deeper levels of reality are more fundamental than the outer ones we’re familiar with via our senses, and the various tools of our materialistic science that extend our senses.

2. That the “rules” are very different at these deeper levels and that all bets are off at and below the Planck scale.

3. That all known mathematics is likely to find application at these deeper levels (included explicitly on page 126 – titled “Unified Field Chart for Mathematics” – quaternions and octonions).

4. That there is a “detailed structural correspondence between the human mind and the deepest laws of nature” – with the proposed parallels made explicit in Fig. 3c on page 57: “Qualities of the Unified Field derived from the Lagrangian of the superstring” and the “Unified Field Chart for Physics on page 125.  (I'm planning to send this material off to Elizabeth for review.)

5. That all thought and experience is subject to a process of “microgenesis” originating at the “causally prior” deeper levels of reality.

6. That meditation has been demonstrated to be a “Fourth Major State” of consciousness (vs waking, dreaming, and deep sleep).

7. That all this paves the way for “new educational technologies.”

Even if the Maharishi Effect – here presented as having careful meta-analytical combined p over seven independent studies in peer-reviewed literature of 10^-19(!)  – turns out to be non-existent, I feel the above ideas will likely become something like "axiomatic" for the Yoga Science.

There are three points where I part company with Dr. Hagelin, however:  the bodily source of microgensis, the ultimate significance of the Fourth State, and the philosophic context of the whole consideration.

Hagelin takes existing evidence as having demonstrated that “the brain stem is responsible for consciousness – the essential subjectivity of the mind, or self” (p55) whereas I’m convinced that the sinoatrial node will turn out to serve this core biopsychological function.  (I'll be writing more on this in the near future.)

The Fourth State of consciousness, known traditionally as "Turyia," is not, at least in a number of important schools, considered to be the ultimate state, since it is most typically associated with awareness abstracted from ordinary experiencing.

It may be, of course, that in the inner sanctums of TM the nondual state "Beyond the Fourth" is taught and practiced — "Turyiatita" (or some other equivalent term) — referring to a nondual state wherein the ordinary world of lived experience is not excluded.

(This gets us into many potentially thorny historical and philosophical issues, but the main point is that none of this subtlety is indicated or even hinted at in this book.)

Finally, Hagelin appears to adhere to the idealistic monism of the Maharishi’s Advaita Vedanta tradition whereas I’m personally drawn to the nondualist schools.

The most sophisticated (and also approachable) presentation of one major nondualist tradtion (Dzogchen) I've run across so far is the work of Elias Capriles (www.eliascapriles.dzogchen.ru).

All the same, I feel the serious Yogi-Scientist will want to at least be familiar with Hagelin’s work – it will have to be “answered” somehow by the Yoga-Science of the future, in my view.

 

 

 

Last Updated on Wednesday, 18 July 2007 04:46
 
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