June 13, 2017

New vistas open through The Life Divine and Savitri

Dear Tusar, Paul, Kashyap

                I attended the release of Arun Shourie's book on "Two Saints" in Delhi by the Dalai Lama. I have also bought a copy of the book and read a few chapters. The Dalai Lama, in his remarks only said that Ancient knowledge is very valuable and all knowledge has to be combined with compassion.

      The review, you have enclosed by Rajrishi Nandy as well as the one by Pratap Bhanu Mehta in Indian Express give the impression that Shourie has belittled The Swamis'  achievements  by saying that neuroscience can explain and duplicate them easily.  I do not know if this is Shourie's aim. Mehta points out that even if neuroscience replicates  the experiences, getting them  voluntarily is different from getting them with help of neuroscience. I think this is an important point.

         My point of view, as expressed in an earlier mail about use of drugs to help in self actualisation, is that the voluntary effort is proving so difficult that we definitely need help from (neuro) science. In my view both spirituality and science are separate (at
least, at the moment) and both are needed for higher evolution of human beings. This was first expressed in modern time among others by Swami Vivekananda. Sri Aurobindo thought an evolved higher being is going to come. Eckhart Tolle, a self actualised person thinks that spiritual levels of human beings are much higher than at the time of Buddha. I hope they are right. If not we have to take the help of science especially medicine and neuroscience science.

           In India, especially, we have to accept science as correct in its applicable area and reserve judgement on miracles as again Vivekananda has told us. To that extent Shourie's book helps to bring spirituality and science closer , I hope .

N. Panchapakesan
New Delhi


What gets left out of science, why, is often fascinating. I'm reading William Patterson's biography of Robert Heinlein, the science-fiction master whose books are widely held responsible for luring much of the early NASA staff into their careers. Of course, those who love the hard science of Heinlein's early works may differ with the metaphysics of some of his later writing. But Heinlein himself, from childhood, had extensive memories of past lives.

To explain consciousness you have to explain memory -- which we can't begin to yet, at least on the level needed to take a brain and decode memories from it. But if a child can truly have memories of past lives, that would strongly imply at least some memory storage is beyond what we conventionally consider the physical. Can dark matter help?


Some of the folks with the strongest paranormal inputs end up writing science fiction, because it is easier to "say everything" in science fiction (even if names must be changed and so on). I remember Heinlein from childhood, but for paranormal inputs I have been more impressed by others, like Dan Simmons and Orson Scott Card, maybe Cixin Liu and Connie Willis, and parts of the "Far Futures" collection. But that is not to say I believe everything they say. Jane Roberts has written many long tomes... but somehow, her simple, readable "oversoul trilogy" science fiction rang true to me more than the tomes did. 

There are many types and levels of memory. The kinds of models I mentioned in last post can explain a wide variety of mundane memory types. Decoding is another matter. I wince when I hear from transhumanists who hope to download their  brain minds into a computer, in part because people now expect it would take 10**18 bits -- but for real brain data, not vaporware, the best I could find (at <=1ms resolution) was 128 channels last year, and even that had major encoding issues to be straightened out. Huge amounts of vaporware out there. Even if they could get the bits all out, the "embodiment" is a central issue as well, much harder than the wishful thinkers imagine. 

In a word, yes. If we are all linked to the noosphere of the earth, made of some variety of dark matter, and even have a part of that system specially linked to us ("our personal soul" more or less, degree unknown)... memories can reside there as well. If an engineer claimed to have accidentally built such a system, we would rightly laugh at him... but billions of years of evolution in a vast galactic cluster with plenty of free energy can do things which are highly "nonrandom" (relative to the probability distributions we tend to assume).

Best regards,


Dear Bruno and Vinod

I agree with Vinod that the experience of the ultimate nothingness (awakening from the dream; not awakening within the dream like lucid dreaming) is beyond our mental capacity to understand in conceptual terms. Joseph Campbell liked to say "No words have ever soiled it". Although it cannot be conceptualized, it does seem that when it is directly experienced there is certainty that it is the ultimate reality. In the Matrix (which borrows heavily from theology) when Neo returns to the ultimate state of reality (the source) the machines say "It is done". The Matrix also quotes the book of Revelation by calling it "The Beginning and the End", implying the primordial (timeless) nature of existence (the I Am state) from which all temporal states of existence originate and to which they must return. Nisargadatta Maharaj says "Before all beginnings, after all endings, I Am". 

Jed McKenna says the same thing, and as a shorthand designation calls it "Done". So although we cannot conceptualize it in mental terms, it seems that when you (more specifically your individual consciousness) directly experiences it, you know with absolute certainty that you are in the ultimate state or the underlying reality (ground of being) that remains when everything (including the space, time, matter and energy of a world) disappears. The best description I've ever heard is the concept of dissolution (as in Nirvana, or blowing out the flame of life). When everything disappears and only the underlying reality remains, one's individual consciousness dissolves back into the infinite nothingness of undifferentiated consciousness like a drop of water dissolves into the ocean. In the Tao this is referred to as the light of consciousness returning to the darkness. 

"Ever desireless one can see the mystery. Ever desiring one can see the manifestations. These two spring from the same source. This appears as darkness. Darkness within darkness. The gate to all mystery." The Bhagavad-Gita says much the same thing about the ultimate I Am state. "The unreal has no being. The real never ceases to be."


Dear Jim,

As far as I can sense, you have not read Sri Aurobindo's books. Your present worldview may seem flawless but many new vistas will open up if you go through The Life Divine and Savitri. There is no dearth of secondary literature also. Hope, you do yourself a favour by reading Sri Aurobindo. They are available online at:

Wishing you all the best,

Tusar (b.1955)
June 13, 2017

Cosmic Mind is ordinarily understood as containing the secret of the whole Creation but in Sri Aurobindo's interpretation, it lies somewhere in between in the ladder of Consciousness representing the whole Existence. He redefines the ill-understood concept of Maya and fuses it with Myers' Subliminal and Vedic Hiranyagarbha to conceive an ever-emergent Supermind which is only an intermediary rung in the march of Evolution.

It's hoped that physicists here make some effort to know Sri Aurobindo's ontological formulations.


Tusar (b.1955)
June 13, 2017

Dear Jo,

I find that you generally keep yourself confined to the Western tradition but Sri Aurobindo has accomplished some wonderful syntheses in the realm of Ontology. You are thorough on Leibniz but I am sure if you read Sri Aurobindo you can find much clearer ways of looking at things and contradictions posed by science at present.

Hope, you read The Life Divine available at:



Tusar (b.1955)
June 13, 2017

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