The Search for Truth and a Spiritual Life
An Integration of Modern and Ancient Science
Presentation at the Coudert Institute, April 3, 2003
Alarik T. Arenander, PhD
Brain Research Institute
Institute of Science, Technology and Public Policy
The scientific revolution and the objective mode of inquiry were considered a necessary replacement of the old ways to create a platform of more reliable, stable, nonchanging knowledge in order to better understand yourselves and our place in the changing world.
As we know, this great scientific revolution has been not without its own problems. In fact, we’re faced with the same age-old problem: how to locate and use a nonchanging structure of knowledge and awareness to guide our individual and collective actions on this planet Earth.
Both these modes, subjective and objective, have apparently failed. Both these modes have failed because they each lack a field of field of spirituality which is pure, complete, universal, and therefore, nonchanging. The only difference and it is a significant one, is that the modern science has unleashed a series of uncontrollable forces ranging from genetic manipulation to nuclear war to threaten human existence. The sheer size of the present-day problems, the sheer ignorance and lack of resolve/ability to solve them in the growing disharmony and violent change in the world suggest that we do something quick, and hopefully, we do it right. So, the eon-old search for spirituality has brought us to this “cliff” of pain, anxiety, confusion, and suffering, perhaps to get our individual and collective attention, to see if a new paradigm could be located which might ‘save the day’, and the human race, and this beautiful planet.
A new paradigm would need to be more than the old subjective way, given up almost wholesale during the last millennium, and the current objective mode of progress, and it fragmented, partial knowledge and resulting arrogance. Is there something left untried? From time to time individuals and a occasionally small groups, have suggested a spiritual path capable of resolving our growing dilemma. However, these attempts have been consistently dismissed by civilization and the drive for material affluence. A new integrated paradigm inclusive of subjective and objective modes of gaining knowledge is needed, a truly spiritual mode of gaining knowledge and directing our behavior for harmony, peace and fulfillment. The basic requirement is to locate and access a state of spirituality or nonchange that will provide both a mastery of and a harmony with nature. If we’re not to fail at this time we need to locate a source of nonchange that will permit civilization to move forward and not rapidly backwards.
What is spirituality? Spirituality is wholeness, it is interconnectedness. Spirituality is our sense of connection to our selves, our family, our community and nature. Spirituality is the sense that we are connected to something larger, something more beautiful, something that can extend our appreciation of our time and space and are seemingly small moments of our life on this planet; something that is the essence of meaning—of being alive and breathing, of participating in the great change of nature.
This presentation is about the evolution of spiritual transformation. It is how the evolution of the spiritual civilization is inherent within human life, embedded in the human genome, in the functioning of the human brain. It is about the knowledge and that present the bliss of pure spirituality unfolded in the most natural and effortless manner, replacing all that is not good and removing, or at least minimizing, the memory of such a destructive millennia in the growth of civilization.
We would like a spiritual civilization. We can imagine what that may be like with all its glorious and fine qualities. And such a civilization cannot be created without those institutions that make it up being spiritually oriented in their functioning. In turn, spiritually oriented institutions function based on the prevailing, acceptable morals of society. We need to facilitate a sense of spiritual morality. But, the collective social sense or fabric of society is a reflection of the collective morals of his individuals, its citizens. Thus, we need to create spiritual individuals, spiritual citizens. The spiritual citizen is one that possesses and uses a spiritual brain. A Spiritual brain can’t be purchased at your local Toys “R” Us, but must be carefully and delicately cultured through spiritual experience. If we’re to have spiritual experiences to cultivate a spiritual brain, this in turn will require spiritual techniques to be available for the members of the society. And, spiritual techniques can only be found within a body of spiritual knowledge that provides a systematic and comprehensive understanding of the origin, the use, and the benefits of such spiritual techniques. Where can we find such spiritual knowledge?
Since knowledge is structured in consciousness, spiritual knowledge is structured in a state of spiritual consciousness. Thus, knowledge that is spiritual or whole or the essence of interconnectedness requires, as it’s foundation, a state of consciousness, a mode of consciousness, which is in itself pure, whole and completely interconnected. This presentation is about the knowledge and technologies of the Vedic tradition. Veda means ‘knowledge’ in Sanskrit and thus, this is a tradition of knowledge.
This presentation will integrate the ancient Vedic Science and modern Neuroscience and provide a forum in which to understand and directly experience a state of pure spirituality or pure consciousness and its natural and gradual incorporation into the style of functioning of our brains and waking awareness.
Points to touch upon include:
1. Knowledge, Experience and Reality: What is Spirituality?
Knowledge is structured in consciousness
Knowledge is different in different states of consciousness
Each state of consciousness has its own corresponding state of the physiology (and brain)
Knowledge comes from experience
Experience is the collected dynamic of the knower, the known and the process of knowing
Correlation and causality, historical developments
2. The Human Brain: Appreciating the wholeness of brain structure and function
Unifying diversity: spatial and temporal diversity and integration
Experience, brain and behavior
Neural plasticity, how change in the brain drives thinking and behavior
Conscious and unconscious processes underlying our thinking and behavior
3. States of Consciousness: How to Cultivate a Spiritual Brain
Waking, dreaming and sleeping seen from neuroimaging
Pure or transcendental consciousness, Pure spirituality
Higher states of consciousness, integration of unity in diversity
Emotions, brain processes that connect or disconnect us from ourselves and our world
4. Universal Structures of Consciousness: Do they exist? What good are they? How to access?
Vedic Seers: Direct perception of the intelligence in nature; Unified Theories of Physic
Plato: Pure forms open to experience
Jung: Archetypes in human thinking and creativity
5. A Spiritual Civilization: Developing Total Brain Functioning and a Spiritual Life