Digestion Of Dharmic Insights Into Neuroscience

satyameva jayate nānṛtaṁ, satyena panthā vitato devayānaḥ, yenākramantyṛṣayo hyāptakāmā, yatra tat satyasya paramaṁ nidhānam - Mundaka Upanishad 3.1.6

Truth alone triumphs; not falsehood. Through truth the divine path is spread out by which the sages whose desires have been completely fulfilled, reach where that supreme treasure of Truth resides.

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The interconnectivity of multiple planes and parts of brain that now amazes neuroscience is something Ramachandran has learned from Kapila Vatsyayan through several interactions in Delhi over the years and he acknowledges this privately. This neuroscience is in correspondence with Sri Aurobindo's planes and parts of being. Both these (brain and mind descriptions) are manifestations of the interconnectivity and interdependence conveyed by the metaphor of Indra's Net.

Howard Gardener of Harvard University appropriated Sri A to propose his "theory of multiple intelligences". Tragedy is that Gardener and modern neuroscientists are getting credit and massive funding for these so-called "new" ideas while nobody is bothered to support the re-doscovery of the source traditions from where these emerged. Three deficiencies exist that my digestion research brings out loud and clear:

  1. Even today the derived/digested theories lack the depth of framework of the dharma sources. These copycats are fragmented, isolated across various Western disciplines; hence the need to bring them together as synthetic unities.
  2. The digested versions of theories lack the practice aspect inherent in dharma. Hence they are desperate to introduce these sciences into Judeo-Christianity in order to bring a unified theory-practice together - though it will be synthetic with internal contradictions. This is the heart of the entire Templeton "Science & Religion" project. (Unfortunately, they were able to buy off many Indian scholars who Infinity Foundation had nurtured in their early stages, guided them strategically, before Templeton plucked them off with X times more money.) In parallel there are other westerners trying to bring "secular practice" of dharma (e.g. "naturalized Buddhism") into science - by de-contextualizing Hindu-Buddhist traditions to make them digestible as "secular". Many Hindu gurus have thrived as suppliers of de-contextualized Hinduism, ready to digest into Western Universalism. A major industry for the past few decades.
  3. Neglecting/abusing the source means we wont have further flow and evolution. Fossiizing into closed canons is rapidly happening in many lineages as a result of adopting the "universal" model back at home. How about future rishis as future R&D labs? Where will these come from once the sources are put in museums and stop being living traditions?

-Rajiv Malhotra

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