The Cosmic Shiva Dances Into the Lab
The French Nobel laureate, Romain Rolland once wrote that “religious faaith in the case of the Hindus has never been allowed to run counter to scientific laws.” That compatability with the scientific method and scientific discoveries, from Darwin to Einstein and beyond, has been a prime reason so many of the Western intelligentsia have admired, studied, and in many cases drawn from, Vedanta. The Shiva Nataraja statues on the grounds of nuclear accelerators — CERN in Switzerland and Lawrence Livermore in California — are symbolic of that meeting ground of Eastern and Western sciences.
Theoretical physicists from Schrodinger to Heisenberg to Oppenheimer to Fritjof Capra, author the seminal Tao of Physics, to current theorists Amit Goswami and John Hagelin, have postulated links between Vedantic cosmology and cutting edge physics. Is it possible that the unified field that physics has been searching for will turn out to be what the Vedic seers called Brahman?
Vedantic models of higher consciousness and models of development influenced Abraham Maslow and other early pioneers of humanistic and transpersonal psychology. And meditation and other yogic practices added power to the repertoire of therapists. As a result, the spiritual dimension of life was finally taken seriously by psychologists and became an acceptable subject for rigorous inquiry.
In recent years, neuroscientists have made quantum leaps in understanding the brain mechanisms involved in spiritual experience and a small but significant number of them have begun to investigate consciousness in new ways, postulating that perhaps — as Indian sages always maintained — awareness is not just the result of brain activity but is rather non-localized and the brain is analogous to a TV set.