According to MSNBC.com, “Dr. Barry Marshall was so determined to convince the world that bacteria — not stress or stomach acid — caused ulcers that he drank a batch of it. Five days later he was throwing up, and he had severe stomach inflammation for about two weeks. It was just the result he was hoping for. His bold action over 20 years ago symbolized the perseverance that Marshall brought to proving a controversial idea — one that gained the ultimate validation Monday as he and Dr. Robin Warren won the Nobel Prize in medicine.”
There are many other examples. Dr. John Lilly, who during World War II, researched the physiology of high-altitude flying, exposing his body to the changing pressures of high altitude, and thereby inventing instruments and equipment for measuring gas pressure and protecting pilots during high altitude flight.
In 1954, following his desire to strip away outside stimuli from the mind/brain, he devised the first isolation tank, a dark soundproof tank of warm salt water in which subjects could float for long periods in sensory isolation. Dr. Lilly himself and a research colleague were the first to act as subjects in this research.
These men were determined to move their research along even at the risk of their own lives. They could have gone the standard academic route, feeding ulcer-infected concoctions to guinea pigs, or sending monkeys and armadillos up to high altitudes, but they chose to verify the effect of their theories on their own bodies. What made them do it? Were they merely being brave or foolhardy? I don’t know. But I do know that, at the same time that they were proving their hypotheses, they were also perfecting a method of experimentation. A method akin to, but distinctly different from, the scientific method. A method whose purpose Gopi Krishna described thusly:
“Now a material scientist may argue that, well, we have gained this consciousness by experience. Why has not the ox or the cow or the fish gained it?
“Then he will argue that, well, man’s consciousness took a leap, but when we ask him how did it take a leap, he is dumb. He knows nothing. Even Darwin had to admit that we could give no definite explanation for it except that it is part of natural selection. So you see the whole structure of materialistic philosophy has been built on suppositions and premises, not on realities. The first reality we come across is consciousness. The world comes later. We know first ourselves and then the world.
“So the wiser course is first to understand the knower. What modern thinkers have done is to ignore or bypass the knower, forgetting that it is the knower that is doing it.”
What Gopi Krishna is talking about here is a different kind of science, a science based on empirical self-observation. To acquire this type of knowledge, the people interested in this type of knowledge — be they dabblers, adepts, practitioners — must approach it in a scientific manner. And that may take some realignment of the whole thinking process. What am I talking about here? Several things. First, that Kundalini is a scientific experiment. Second, that science, whether material or empirical, needs to be approached with rigorous, intellectual consistency. Things must be set down clearly so that the general public can understand them. Why is this important? It’s important because the spiritual community is often less meticulous about describing the so-called spiritual experience than it ought to be, especially if it seeks to expand its findings to a greater population. Concepts and experiences are bandied about, to the point of turning many people off.
Millions Are Confused About the Spiritual Path
I know I was. So what is spirituality? How is it different from religion? Religion is a passive activity. You pray and then wait for something to happen. Spirituality — the discipline I call empirical science (self-realization) because, stripped of its incense and saffron robe overtones, that’s what it is. Empirical science requires action. What kind of action? I’ve already cited the examples of Dr. Barry Marshall and Dr. John Lilly, two men who blended traditional material science with the empirical approach, using their bodies in experiments.
And although people don’t realize it, meditation is a scientific experiment performed in the laboratory of the body. Approached correctly, meditation actually brings about changes in the body, and eventually in the whole Being. But is the meditation experience scientifically valid? Absolutely — as long as the results are the same over a given number of subjects.
That is the whole purpose behind Golden Flower Meditation — assuring standardized results in the Kundalini arousal process. GFM produces safe, reliable, consistent results over a given number of subjects. But before getting into the particulars of GFM, practitioners must prepare themselves for a new type of experience — using the body as a laboratory.
And that means preparing the mind as well as the body. Yes, the mind must be ever present during this work. Every detail of the experiment must be noted so that the experimenter can make the right decisions along the way. That’s right, the scientific method of observation, evidence and proofs can, and must be applied in the empirical arena. Investigators used to the subjectivity so common in the spiritual arena must adopt a scientific approach. Practitioners must wean themselves away from subjective interpretation and opinion and train themselves in factual investigation.
Distinguishing Fact From Opinion
Wait a second! you say. I know how to distinguish fact from opinion. Well, I’m sure you do, but bear with me while I cite a really banal example of how far we have strayed from the empirical approach, how easily we accept the opinions of so-called experts. I’m talking about the new NBA basketball that players say is sometimes too slippery, sometimes too sticky, and generally way more unpredictable than the old leather ball. The league has declared that a bunch of lab coats have proven the new ball is better. Forget about the empirical wisdom of the players, who actually play with the ball. Some lab coats say it’s better and that’s that! Well, it isn’t better. We all know it can’t be if the players are struggling to control it, but we are so conditioned to bowing to scientific pronouncements by men with diplomas that we have forgotten the wisdom of experience. The general acceptance of opinion as fact is rampant in our daily life.
Driving down the coast toward San Francisco one day a few years ago, I scanned the radio dial when the station I was listening to began to fade. Only two stations at the lower end of bandwidth in Ukiah. One of them was a Christian station and the program was a call-in about interpreting scripture. Brother B. — I wasn’t able to catch his full name — was taking the calls.
Most of the calls were references to specific chapter and verse citations from the Bible. For example, the caller would say Romans 6:23 and Brother B. would look up the verse, read it over the air and then give his interpretation. This was done with great solemnity. In fact, they had placed a mic right near the Bible to pick up the sound of pages turning. Dramatically milking the effect, Brother B. was in no hurry to get to the page in question. He was master of his domain, a bit pompous, but in total control of the discourse with the various callers. In fact, most them meekly accepted his pronouncements.
Occasionally, however someone with a personal agenda would call in to bounce a particular theological interpretation off Brother B. One such caller was curious about salvation and questioned Brother B. about Whom he had to pray to for salvation.
Brother B. told the caller that he should pray to God. The caller, however, said in order to be saved he had learned that one must invoke the name of Jesus in prayer. When Brother B. disagreed, saying that everything, including Jesus, was contained in an appeal to God, that’s when the caller sprung his trap, intimating that if Brother B. wasn’t praying to Jesus, Brother B. might, in fact, be some sort of heretic or false prophet. He didn’t use those specific words, but it got pretty testy. Finally Brother B. had to cut the caller off.
Well, what’s so special about this you’re probably asking? And at first I felt the same way, listening to these two guys argue about something that could not be resolved because each had a well-formed opinion. And then I got to thinking that the really interesting issue was the two guys going at it over their respective interpretations of a passage in the Bible. Especially since both were adamant that the Bible was the word of God.
Polemics Are the Natural Offshoot of Culture
When two people discuss the meaning of a passage, a book, a painting, or a movie, you have disagreements. That’s the nature of the act of interpretation. And what happens when people interpret? They almost never agree; they form opinions — different opinions, mostly, which leads to arguments. In fact, no two people agree on any subject for long — be it the Word of God or who’s the better running back. Polemics is the natural offshoot of Art, Philosophy, Politics, Religion, and Science. Why else do we have so many sects, schools, political movements, and denominations? Because individuals are locked into their own opinions — opinions that have no basis in fact, in fact in most cases, we'd be better off treating opinions as hunches, for that's what they really are.
As opinions proliferate, we have a compounding of disagreement due to non-factual causes. Remember the passage from the Bible, "Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass or a tinkling bell." Substitute clarity for charity, and you have what I’m talking about.
At first glance science may appear to have an advantage. Science is quantifiable, after all. The atomic weight of Cobalt is 58.9332 whether you are a Christian, Jew, Muslim, or Buddhist; whether you live in Pakistan, Chicago, or Beijing, whether you are a painter, a schoolteacher, plumber or politician.
Get used to disagreements, to someone disagreeing with what you think, even on scientific matters. I know it sounds simplistic when I say we need to recognize opinion and step back from it. But we’re surrounded by opinion — talk radio, political pundits, talking heads, sports analysts, spinmeisters. None of their pronouncements has any lasting value. But when the pundits and the talk show hosts are paid so much money, we tend to suspend our skepticism and accept their opinions as fact. It’s sad really, because we place greater value on celebrity than on creative thinking or natural skepticism. Opinion is only some guy’s take on how things are bound to turn out. But they rarely do, because they’re based on nothing — no science, no prescience, no empirical observation, no serious trial and error, no investigation.
As an empirical scientist, I’m used disagreements. How do I handle them? I ignore them; I test everything in teh laboratory of my own body. You see, empirical science (self-realization) doesn’t deal with opinion, hearsay, judgment, gossip, superstition, hunches, or even interpretation. The empirical scientist seeks this knowledge to learn the true facts of life. It’s in this laboratory setting — within the infinite confines of his body — that the empirical scientist seeks and then applies the knowledge he has gained. What kind of laboratory? you might rightly ask. The same as any material scientist?
The Human Body is the Laboratory of the Empirical Scientist
No, not exactly the same. You see a material scientist examines natural and material phenomena — chemistry, biology, physics, etc. in the customary lab type setting. Empirical science also deals with observation and fact in a laboratory setting. The human body is the laboratory of the empirical scientist. The aim of empirical science is to gain knowledge of the body — its functions, its capabilities, its latent abilities, its potential for higher consciousness.
What is the purpose of this type of knowledge? The empirical scientist seeks this knowledge in order to uncover and activate the full potential of the body. If you have a hunch about something that's occurring in your body, it's not enough to treat your hunch as fact, you must find a way — observation, repeatability, some demonstrable effect — to verify it.
After reading The Secret of the Golden Flower, I began to understand how empirical science had become confused with spirituality. Not at first, however. No, because of its arcane language and Taoist overtones, at first, I thought The Secret of the Golden Flower was a “spiritual” document. Nevertheless, as I delved deeper, practicing its method of meditation, I recognized that this book dealt more with the laws of science than the canons of religion. It described a method capable of reproducing the same results over and over, no matter the specific religious beliefs or cultural predispositions of the practitioner. You see, The Secret of the Golden Flower is really a science book. I call it The Empirical Science Bible, using the word bible not in a religious sense, but in a comprehensive informational sense, like The Standard C++ Bible that programmers use.
Early empirical science was pure scientific investigation, undertaken by so-called mystics and spiritual seekers, who, for whatever else they might have discovered during their lives, always started with the study of the body. Because these empirical scientists went off on their own, never bothering to tie their discoveries to the discoveries of others, empirical science became fragmented. It wasn’t able to present itself to millions, it didn’t know how to fill its coffers with contributions, and it didn’t even have a God. Nevertheless, empirical science is not religious mysticism. It’s a science. You can read about it in my books.
In fact, empirical science is older than both modern material science and organized religion. Modern science, you see, is actually based on the discoveries of ancient self-realization practitioners — those solitary individuals who went to the desert or to the mountains to find answers to life’s eternal questions. These men came away from their lonely pilgrimages with empirical knowledge about the body’s hidden potential.
But once the disciples of those ancient practitioners shifted their attention towards the material world and away from the study of the “knower,” empirical science began to drift, surfacing from time to time under the vague labels of mysticism and the occult.
The real problem with empirical science, however, has been its lack of a single coherent method for its practitioners to rally around. Being an ancient discipline, empirical science bequeathed us a strong written and aural record. The problem is no one has ever forged a standardized program of study around this record. Thus, unlike material science, there has been no way of testing or synthesizing the many discoveries made by empirical scientists. As a result, empirical science has drifted. With one foot in science and the other in religion, it has stagnated. A true crisis of identity. Nevertheless, empirical science is the source of both religion and material science.
Not for the elitists, the ones who dabble in fancy Buddhist retreats and order products from so-called enlightened companies. Heck, I’ve seen Buddhist magazines advertising Mutual Funds for the spiritually transcendent. But what about the rest of us? The people whose shattered lives cry out for a helping hand. We can’t relate to this stuff. We’re watching NASCAR and the NFL, spending our hard earned money in bars and laundromats. But that doesn’t mean we don’t feel a deep down loneliness, that we aren’t seekers in our own right.
All it takes is an effort to adapt self-actualization techniques for the many people looking for it. So what if we made these techniques available? Would people lap them up? Many people are already empirical scientists in their own right. Yes, I’m talking about drug addicts, ex-cons, and prostitutes. They know what it means to transform their bodies into laboratories, and then talk about it in group therapy sessions, whose ultimate goal, we must admit, is to get to know the knower. And that’s where scientific exactitude comes in. Realizing the qualitative difference between using the body for drug experimentation and using it to raise Kundalini. But is it possible on any reasonable scale? Is it possible to cultivate love and kindness and compassion at all times? I can’t say, not with the certitude that I can verify the atomic weight of Cobalt.
Golden Flower Mediation offers just that sort of jolt. Don’t believe me? Think of it another way then. If I succeed in raising my Kundalini, everything — love, kindness, and compassion — will flow from that accomplishment. Why? Because Kundalini transforms the being from the roots up. The body, then the mind and finally the spirit—the whole being. Want a Case Study?
I open a book and put my finger down. Plopp. “Sit down daily to meditate with the legs crossed. Let the lids of both eyes be lowered; then look within and purify the heart, wash the thoughts, stop pleasures, and conserve the seed.”
Definitely not opinion, hearsay, judgments, gossip, superstition, or interpretation. It’s a set of instructions, a bit archaic sounding, perhaps, but just as valid today as it was in eighth century China, when The Secret of the Golden Flower was complied. A set of instructions, much like the ones found in your vacuum cleaner manual on how to change the bag. A series of instructional steps that you, a seeker, can perform. Performance, action, observation, fact, experience. Again, don’t believe me; try it yourself.
In order to get anywhere with meditation, or any other empirical investigation, it is necessary to master the art of discrimination: to be able to distinguish fact from opinion. That’s why Brother B. and the caller got nowhere. They were engaged in polemics, a lose-lose pastime. Just like the lab coats who declared the new NBA ball was better! The mind is capable of so much more.
The empirical scientist doesn’t debate or philosophize, he acts on his hunches, sets out to prove them, even at the expense of his/her own body! Men like Dr. John Lilly, Dr. Barry Marshall, Gopi Krishna, Lao Tse, Milarepa, Dr. Paul Ehrlich, the discoverer of the cure for syphilis.
Gopi Krishna dedicated his life to a revival of empirical science: “All of my ambitions,” he said, “all of my desires, truly my only aim, is to leave a legacy of authentic material about the transcendent plane of consciousness, so that posterity can lay the foundation of a new science.”
If you are looking for some type of empirical knowledge, realize that you can’t obtain it by talk, or exchanging opinions or by reading books. That’s because the mind isn’t capable of taking you where you want to go. Only the body can take you there. The mind will help — once you train it to serve your central purpose. But you have to act.
Action is what separates the doers from the dabblers — who, in spite of their academic credentials — limit themselves to exchanging highfalutin opinions. These are the people who say they are looking for self-knowledge, but when someone shows them the way, the first thing they do is attack it with a standard set of denials. They don’t want to act. It takes them away from the spotlight, where they are ubiquitous and powerful. But the spotlight isn’t where it’s at. Not really. Action is where it's at...