Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Essay on Science and Spirituality

I hope you are doing well and enjoying the Summer. The moon is looking beautifully full (almost) and the katydids are loving life by the sounds of it. I love this time of year and especially the warm Summer nights. 

Anyway, it's been a while since I sent out an email update. I've been very busy and going through a very challenging and transitional period in my life lately. I have been working two jobs, and ended up in a situation that puts me well outside of my comfort zone. As a result, I have a lot of insights to share. I just haven't had a chance to write them up yet.

However, I did have the opportunity to write the following essay. Since there was a cash prize involved it gave me some added incentive to let some ideas fly. It was nice to get some gratitude expressed in writing after a bit of a dry spell. It was challenging to keep it short enough to meet their guidelines. I could have written much more on the subject, and may well elaborate some day. But I felt like it was something worth sharing in its current form. 

I did not get selected for the prize, which is fine with me. I enjoyed the exercise. I think they were actually aiming more for the link with "religion" instead of "spirituality" so my essay didn't quite fit what they were looking for. Anyway, here is the submission, complete with biographical stuff.



- Please submit a brief letter explaining your interests in using narrative nonfiction to explore harmonies between science and religion (1750 character maximum - approximately 350 words).


After I was diagnosed with epilepsy in 2004, at age 30, I was catapulted head first into a search for truth and meaning. It was as if I had no choice but to find the answers to all of life’s big questions. I started reading books about different religions, mysticism, metaphysics, shamanism, as well as various types of energetic healing modalities. I didn’t stop there, however. I was simultaneously reading books on various fields of science, such as neuroscience, biology, cosmology, kinesiology, physics, psychology and anthropology - just to name a few. I was reading at least 10 books at any given time, and read more books during a two year period than I had read in my entire life. I was looking to see where spirituality and science intersected. My analytical mind had been challenged by a deeply spiritual experience brought about by seizures. My search eventually led me to the idea of enlightenment and I felt like I had finally found what I was looking for. The experiences I had encountered, which were later labeled partial complex seizures, were very much like spiritual awakenings that I was reading about. I narrowed my focus at that point and began reading books and studying with many of the well known teachers in non-duality. Around this time I began writing about my realizations and started sharing my discoveries with the world through my blog and an email list I had of my friends, family and acquaintances. My blogs eventually became a book in late 2012, entitled “A Seeker’s Guide to Inner Peace: Notes to Self.” It was actually like the book wrote itself through me and for me, though everyone who has read it has enjoyed it as much as me. I have continued to write and feel as though it is my calling. These discoveries have to be shared with the world and I am happy to be a conduit for that to happen.


- Please submit a synopsis of the story you would like to develop and tell why you think it is an important story to write, especially for general audiences (2500 character maximum - approximately 500 words).

Wherever you look you see nature and science. For example, if you are driving down the road and you look around, what do you see? Cars, signs, power poles, electrical lines, lights, buildings, bridges, glass, asphalt, guard rails, etc. What do all of these things have in common? All of them come from the Earth and all of them took science to create. We are mining metals of all types to make car parts, steel beams, wires and more. We are converting rocks and sand into structures that could not have existed a few hundred years ago. We are able to turn fossil fuels into a wide variety of plastics, as well as create energy. All of this required scientific exploration to achieve. Wise men and women spent their lives figuring out new ways to manifest things using the natural resources we have been given. The main goal has primarily been to make life better for people.

I’m always amazed at what hard work and modern engineering can accomplish. All you have to do is look around with a sense of curiosity to discover things that took years to become possible. Look at a piece of fabric. Creating that used to take countless hours by hand and is now mass produced from a plant grown by farmers. Imagine how much cotton it takes to make all of the blankets sold at your local retailer, then consider how many retailers there are just like that in your town, your state, this country, the world.

Look at a new bridge being built. Imagine how much concrete and steel it takes to create that structure. Imagine how many tons of metal has to be extracted from the ground and melted in order to form those beams. Let’s not forget how much science goes into forming just the right size, shape and consistency to determine the right amount of support needed for any given application. Consider the ingenuity involved to precisely position an enormous structure and the hundreds of manhours needed to create just one bridge abutment. I could go on and on about the various ways in which science has improved our daily lives and how we overlook it, but I must leave some space for where spirituality fits in.

Science is represented in the world of manifestation, while spirituality is found in the unmanifested realm. Before thought is born, there is only the sense of “I am.” Without thought there is only presence. Consciousness itself. That space of conscious awareness is what we truly are. We are not our names, we are not our stories, we are not what we have been told all of our lives. We are the awareness that allows us to enjoy this world of form. Our purpose is to recognize our true nature, and that recognition makes it possible to truly appreciate what we have been given.


- Please submit a short biographical sketch (1500 character maximum - approximately 300 words).

I was born in Asheville, NC, the son of two academic-minded business professors. Creativity was encouraged, but I was taught that higher education and analytical thinking is what would lead to success in life. I followed suit and earned three master’s degrees in the field of business. Eventually my interest in business was replaced by an interest in spirituality, thanks to my diagnosis with epilepsy in 2004. It was a life shaking event (no pun intended), but one that had a profoundly positive effect on my life. It made me realize that what’s truly important transcends what the analytical mind has to offer. I came to understand that Self-realization is what leads to the sense of peace that makes all thing possible.

I continued to have occasional seizures, both partial and grand mal, for about four years, but they deepened my curiosity in the unknown. My exploration of the unknown led to me become a writer. After a few years of blogging about spirituality, I wrote a book on the subject I had become so passionate about - A Seeker’s Guide to Inner Peace. Since the publication of that book I have continued to write and deepen my experiential understanding of Life. I now host regular satsangs (truth gatherings) and have created an online community devoted to non-duality - Asheville Sangha. I am now focused on the integration of these teachings into the often times stressful life most of us lead.

My wife and I currently live on the outskirts of Asheville in Candler, NC, with our four year old daughter.