In this first blog, I reflect on my own life in which I see unplanned emergence, self-organization, uncertainty and surprise which are the hall marks of my universe evolving as a complex adaptive system. Thank God I never entered into a structured career path, for what a beautiful life it turned out to be, though not without its share of failures and disappointments. And now the underlying unity comes shining through the glorious diversity in all its emptiness.
• I was born and grew up in Guyana (formerly British Guiana) in South America of East Indian ancestry. My great grandfather migrated to British Guiana about 120 years ago as an indentured labourer. I have since lived in New Delhi, Jamaica, St. Lucia, Toronto, Winnipeg, New York and Ottawa and work has taken me to more than 50 countries worldwide.
• I grew up in an Arya Samaj (Hindu) family but went to Jesuit high school.I was reading eastern and Western philosophy from about 14 years old and started yoga at this time but my academic inclination was in mathematics and the natural sciences. I felt drawn to Eastern mysticism but was living in a largely western-style society and so faced an early schism which I found difficult to reconcile. The Guyanese society was also split ethnically with frequent ethnic conflicts, leading to later massive emigration including that of my family.
• Immediately after my BSc degree I was recruited by an Oil Company as their chemical sales representative. One of the chemicals I promoted was to destroy aquatic weeds. It worked well, but one day I was struck by the observation that the weeds used to be cleared manually at one time, providing work and income for local people, and the weeds provided a good habitat for fish and shrimp which provided food. And a deep interest in the link between the natural environment and human livelihoods was born leading several years later to the PhD degree in environmental sciences and to becoming the first Executive Director of the Caribbean Environmental Health Institute.
• While my formal education and professional career was evolving, my search for meaning in life was intensifying and so was my spiritual quest. Fritjof Capra’s Tao of Physics and Uncommon Conversations, as well as the life and work of Albert Einstein, were instrumental in my intellectual understanding of the convergence between physical science and spirituality and helped to heal some of my early schisms. Later, Stu Kauffman’s Reinventing the Sacred, helped build the bridges for me between the biological sciences and spirituality.
• My meeting with Baba Virsa Singh Ji led to a series of life-transforming events, both professional as well as personal which continue to this day. The limits of intellectual understanding of convergence between science and spirituality have become clearer, inner knowing has grown, the reality of humans as essentially spiritual beings having a human experience has become evident, the need for meditation and calming the mind, the role of my ego in my life etc.. are now so much clearer.
• My scientific understanding of the nature of the Universe has also been transformed from seeing atomic matter everywhere to understanding that it is only probably about 4% of the constituents of the Universe and the remainder is dark energy and matter which we are still trying to understand. The observation the Universe could scientifically have come from nothing is awesome! The argument now gaining credibility that time might not be a fundamental dimension of the Universe at all is both counter-intuitive and intuitive at the same time. The possibility and quantum likelihood that matter arises from consciousness and not the reverse as long believed is humbling.
• The power of now (Tolle) the limits of thought (Krishnamurty) finding eternity in the moment, the convergence of mystical thought and practice in the East and the West are all so clear now that the conditions for greater peace and harmony seem self-evident. That the commonality in human beings on both spiritual and scientific grounds is far greater that illusory differences in identity, culture, organized religion etc. is now for me beyond the shadow of a doubt.
• The challenge of course is to communicate this commonality in a credible and easily understood way to people stuck in the illusory differences which for them is their reality. How can a reweaving and retelling of our wisdom stories help?
• The Science and Non-duality movement might have the best chance of redirecting a currently misguided dominant human civilization.