Integral yoga psychology - seeing science as purely agnostic

Hi folks:

I haven’t been here for over a year, since the Life Divine discussion group.

I would love to start a conversation - and maybe at least a once a month group with a very clear focus. I’d like to draw primarily on the works of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, but I’d be happy to bring in Bernardo Kastrup, Paul Brunton, Owen Barfield and numerous others.

I’d like to focus on one thing - how to communicate to the general public that the methods of science - as currently understood and practiced - are COMPLETELY neutral with regard to ontological foundations. In other words, the recognition that neither materialism nor physicalism are necessary for the practice of science and that in fact, by definition, scientific evidence CANNOT be provided for a purely ontological view.

I’m not interested, a la Bernardo Kastrup, in developing an alternative philosophy for science, Personally, I find the integral advaita of Sri Aurobindo to be the best I’ve found as a foundation for science. But very few people would agree, and that doesn’t matter.

I agree with Iain McGilchrist, who wrote the extraordinary book, “The Master and His Emissary,” and in the last 10 years, has put together a 1500 page book, “The Matter With Things.” McGilchrist believes that the #1 problem in the world today is NOT political polarization, climate change, etc, but the belief in the nihilistic dogma of materialism (aka physicalism).

If it were possible to reach a sufficient number of people with the simple understanding that materialism is NOT implied by science much less required for its support, I think that would be an amazing step toward the recovery of sanity in the world.

If you are interested, please let me know.

Thank you.


I will certainly jump on board. :slight_smile:

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Hi @Don_Salmon, Welcome back and thanks for your invitation. I remember your enthusiastic contributions to the Life Divine group, and it is good to hear about your focus and intentions for this group. Let’s make it happen.

I have a full plate at the moment and won’t be able to participate in real time, but would like to support you and @MarcoMasi, and whoever elses wishes to participate. We are working on our next Metapsychosis newsletter and can include a blurb for this group there. If you would like for us to include this mention, you can send me an invite of 500 words or less, which will link to your longer post here. An example of these invitational blurbs can be seen here: I think we will get the next newsletter out sometime next week, so end of this week would be a good deadline for that, if you’re game.

Perhaps folks from the Collaboration journal would also be interested? (@Matteo, @JohnRobert). And we could… collaborate and cross-pollinate with their site? For example, there could be article or review that comes out of the group that gets published in one or ther other location, or cross-linked to both? Or some of the contributors there might be interested in participating in this group?

McGilchrist’s thesis sounds provocative. I would only question whether a “spiritualist” orientation is necessarily better than a “physicalist” one. For example, a brutal theocracy which does not metaphsysically assume the primary importance of “matter,” but rather espouses some eternal law of pure Spirit, could still be problematic. How might an evolutionary or developmental view address these questions, or not? I would be curious to see how the discussion in the group unfolds based on your framing of the issues.

It sounds like perhaps some other project, intending to reach “a sufficient number of people” might also grow out of these discussions. It would be interesting to see what comes out of the group relating to that.


This is a good question. I don’t have a crystal sphere, and caution is mandatory. Too many times in history we have seen people proposing a new paradigm that was supposed to save the world and as the leading road towards more freedom, equity and fraternity and we know how it ended…,

However, I nurture optimism in this regard.

First of all, because all theocracies I know of are not based on a “spiritualist” orientation, rather on religious dogma., and which is the contrary of “spiritual”. Ok, I know, one might wonder what “spiritual” means after all? Right? But I think everyone has a more or less intuitive feeling what makes the difference between a dogmatic, hierarchical and exclusive religious theory and a spiritual non-hierarchical, inclusive worldview based on principles of unity in diversity, of spiritual self-perfection, psychic opening , etc. The latter give me a bit more reasons to believe that it won’t end in the same way as in the past.

Secondly, today we have several communities based on spiritual ideals, and I’m thinking in particular of Auroville. It is an experiment far from perfect and, indeed, vitiated by all the possible human weaknesses, far from having realized the human unity and harmony it aims at. But precisely because of the spiritual principles of diversity and freedom it embraced, it has no hierarchy and eventually has the opposite problem: How to make such a society that has much more freedoms than in any other democratic system, work without falling into chaos?

So, my guess is that the real problem we will face in a truly “spiritualist oriented” society (whatever that might mean…) is not so much how to avoid relapses into a theocracy, rather how to harmonize freedom with responsibility, how to draw a line between my freedom and the freedom of the collective, how to distinguish between an egoistic freedom and the freedom of the soul. And, if the aim of integral yoga is achieved, that is, the spiritual, psychic and supramental transformation will become a reality, then these relapses will become an impossibility. Of course, we are far from that, but sooner or later we have to take a direction. The only thing sure for me is that if humanity will stick at the present physicalist, reductionist and soul-less orientation, it will go towards a physical and especially psychological self-destruction.


Ok, I just stepped in but I don’t quite understand how madrush’s comment relates to what I perceive in Marco’s suggestion.

Your brutal theocracy espousing an eternal law of Spirit sounds like one run by typical theologians, who have no clue what they’re talking about, any more than Stephen Hawking has a clue when he says “philosophy is dead.”

Scientists generally have little or no understanding of the philosophic underpinnings of their discipline. Similarly, theologians (or worse, priests) have little or no understanding of spirituality.

So how, you might ask, do we get qualified people (in other words, at the very least self-realized individuals at the beginning level as indicated in Chapter 2 of the Bhagavad Gita)?

I have no idea, but I trust in Divine Grace. I was just writing to Marco somewhere else (in cyberspace!) that I’ve talked to so many kids under 20 who have verifiable psi experiences, direct intimations (or even direct knowledge) of nondual awareness (and not just the transcendent, Shankara/Rupert Spira type).

So I’m calm and content with the direction God is taking us. I trust Her implicitly.

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Fortunately, She also has - though it may be hard to discern at times - a really good sense of humor.

Sorry, marco V - I read the excerpt from your comment and Marco M’s response before seeing your suggestion.

I’ll take a look at it. I"m in the midst of drafting 20 blog posts, 20 videos, and just this morning came up with the idea of ANOTHER series of a dozen or so videos having me as a talking head guiding people through the practices in our sleep course.

And I have a running bet with a friend of mine that now that I’m almost 70, I’m going to scale back my activities

Well, at least my friend will be glad to hear of your proposal, as it makes it more likely he’ll win (if he loses, he’s supposed to run around Wheeling West Virginia - where he lives, and which is a very strong pro Trump area - naked, holding an “I HATE TRUMP” sign. He doesn’t seem to be worried at the moment about losing)

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Hi again folks - on a more serious note, I considered the possibility of starting this now and I think it’s best to say it should be more like some time this summer. After creating all the blogs and videos this month and next, the spring is going to be “full steam ahead” with all kinds of marketing projects. Hopefully, things will cool off by the beginning of the summer, and i’ll have time to devote to this.

Thanks so much for your interest.

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Thanks for these comments, Marco.

@Don_Salmon also offers this distinction:

My question had to do with the level of ideas, where we define our concepts and positions. To attack physicalism, I see now, is not necessarily to assert its opposite. As “spiritual” belief system could be asserted by a fundamentalist, but this would not be spiritual as you define it.

And you may not choose to define it, but rather defer to to the divine, or an intuitive understanding, implcitly. I appreciate your observerations, Marco, that in a spiritual society we will face different challenges than in a theocratic one—

So the quality of consciousness must be already transformed to be dealing with those kinds of problems rather than the typical ones related to surivival, resources access, national and tribal politics, and so on. However, I do not doubt that more insidious kinds of power dyanamics can manifest within purportedly spiritual societies, with the best intentions. I’ve seen it happen. So I think it is important to to not take such questions for granted when we are advocating for some alternative point of view.

And Don, it sounds like you are very busy! Good luck with all those projects. Whenever you’re ready to re-initiate this group, I’ll be happy to help you get it going.

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Yes, in fact. That’s the basis for everything, and it is true not only for spiritual communities, but in every human context.

It is like war. It won’t disappear just because of good intentions, new ideas or political orders, more tech and stuff., etc. It needs a new consciousness based on an inner sense of commonality that realizes inwardly how we are one human family.

Looking forward towards this stimulating project. :slight_smile:

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I think it is interesting that, without always addressing it explicitly or directly, a lot of Sri Aurobindo’s poetry reflects on the nature of war, struggle, violence, and the darkness of the human condition. In Savitri we have come across multiple passages that seem to be a commentary on, or inspired by the ‘world wars’ of the last century, but also see the soul itself as a kind of battleground that consciousness must evolve through to become capable of higher awareness.

Heraclitus also wrote to the effect that ‘war is mother of all things’. I am not sure whether that is just true, or an insidious belief that we also must overcome. Certainly, though, war seems to arise when the conditions for it are ripe. It is like a phase of re-creation that destroys both deliberately and indiscriminately, beyond the limits of discourse and mutual recognition.

To the topic of this thread, I would ask, How could we end the “war” between science and spirituality? Must science become more spiritual? Must spirituality become more scientific? That seems to be answer proposed by those who have tried to bring the sides together for “peace talks,” such as the Dalai Lama or participants in the Science and Nonduality conferences. I know you have written on this topic as well, and I hope those writings (which I still have on my reading list) will come up as source material when the group finally convenes.


I’m not sure if we should label it a “war”, but for sure there is a divide. I often ruminate about that, and probably the most honest answer is: I don’t know.

I guess that ultimately, what really triggers an understanding that goes both beyond the materialistic and the spiritual is, after all, an inner feeling, an intuitive understanding, we might say even a spiritual realization that can’t be conveyed by the intellect. If that inner feeling is not there, all the best intellectual explanations won’t sound convincing.

However, at the cost of contradicting myself, if I might attempt an intellectual pathway nevertheless, I would say that science and spirituality will converge when we will become aware of the fact that we are a transitional species. But not only in the biological sense, also from a sociological, psychological and cultural standpoint. This is to mean that science and technology itself have to be seen as transitional as well. Or, at least, that what we actually mean by “science” is. Science is a mean of evolution, not an end. It is a method of Nature to make us develop mental and physical skills. Once fulfilled its aims, it will be left aside and grow into … well, who knows? To make an example that not everyone will have to agree with, but that can nevertheless illustrate the process, I contend that all the research, efforts and funds that nowadays are thrown into genetics, molecular biology, AI, quantum computing, etc. will, sooner or later, reveal itself, if no self-delusions, but at least lines of research that did not meet the expectations (they already didn’t, but it is not yet realized in the collective). But the failure of these sciences will show us that we are working with a superficial paradigm based on wrong principles. Nature is, nevertheless, allowing us to push the physicalist and reductionist mind to its extremes, precisely because it wants us to go beyond. It is a process pre-ordered from above that pulls the strings of the evolution of human’s culture, with the scientific and rationalistic effort at its center, and which aim is not so much the mere conquest of matter but that aims at perfecting to the utmost our mental skills in order to transcend it. The material fallout is an extra bonus, but not its primary aim. At this stage we can go through this process believing it to be the outcome of an evolutionary process as most humanity does, or become aware that it is a method of Nature. Once we give up our physicalist way of seeing and realizes how transitory, primitive and superficial these approaches are, finding for something that goes beyond both and that is much more interesting, won’t be too difficult.

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I am not too worried about it, actually. I think the culture is changing and there is much more room for a “spectrum of consciousness” than there was when industrial civilization became ascendent. I think you may be right that science and technology, as paradigmatic pursuits, will exhaust themselves eventually. They will become more like media content that recycles itself endlessly through countless variations on a theme. The act of creation (as you say, Nature) will take on a different purpose. The end goals will change; consciousness will decide to play a different game.

I just read that that “Joint European Torus” experiment in the UK has sustained a controlled fusion reaction for 5 seconds… which is nowhere near enough to be practical, but evidence that we may be able soon to use the same process that the sun uses to produce solar energy here on earth. While that is a technological change, if could produce cheap, abundant, carbon-free energy, that could be a game-changer, as it were, for human evolution. I don’t think humanity wants to be a transitional species, though, and I’m not sure why we should be.

Why wouldn’t Spirit call humanity to its fullest expression as physical as well as spiritual. What about a Cosmic Human that embraces physicality (being matter), vitality (being life), mentality (being mind), and spirituality (being consciousness itself) as a full spectrum of possibilities for manifestation? Couldn’t such a realization transcend yet include the human dimension—a nexus of earthly habitation?

Yes, that might take 30/40 perhaps 50 years still, but it might be technologically a game changer. The question is if and how our conscious evolution follows the scientific one.

I guess that’s not something we can want or desire, it is a natural fact of evolution.

I would say that describes well a future species that includes the human and goes beyond the human. :slight_smile:

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