Saturday, September 3, 2011

What the guru ... Enlightened Hooey from Jaggi

Let me confess. I am no hard nosed "rationalist" propagating the joys of science to the benighted ignorant masses. I do not like phrases like "scientific temper", although I have written about 50 peer reviewed research papers. Yet increasingly I find myself wondering if all is well in the world of the enlightened ones, I mean really enlightened ones, those who have awakened to the reality of the universe, seen the truth, light and probably also found all the lost contact lenses.

I get mails from the Isha Foundation and it has the writing of the Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, who in my opinion has done a superb job of spreading yoga around the world, and especially south India. Now I got to read this:
which had Jaggi saying things like: "Today, modern science is recognizing there is something called as akashik intelligence; that is, empty space has a certain intelligence". I do not claim to know all about Modern Science, far from it, but I can smell BS from quite far, and this my friend is prime BS, enlightened hooey talk. Gurus have been dropping "Modern Science" around rather carelessly for ages, so that is nothing really new. Just that it is now Jaggi's turn, and he does it with so much confidence that it is truly admirable, even enviable.

Needless to say, science has not found any "akashik intelligence". It is probably another case of a metamorphosis of scientific concepts to popular myths by people who profit from it. In all likelihood, it is probably the "quantum vacuum" in this case, the nothing that is not nothing, that has become glorified as the "intelligent akash". I am afraid my understanding of quantum field theory and it vacua are rather prosaic and minimal, still I am very confident that it is not ascribed any "intelligence". In fact I can say categorically that there is no intelligence, thought, life, consciousness etc. in science. Please find it in Einstein's equations or the standard model before writing blogs about it.

There is more hooey, this time very well-known and does not involve much sanskrit (for those who don't know this: Amavasya is the new moon and Pournami the full moon).
 He expands thus in the piece called  Amavasya – Journey from Untruth to Truth:
You may have heard that if people are a little mentally imbalanced, on Pournamis and Amavasyas they become more imbalanced. Why this is so is, the gravitational impact of the moon is working on our planet. So it is pulling everything up. Whole oceans are trying to rise. Similarly, your own blood is trying to rise to the moon’s gravitation. Because of this, if you are mentally little imbalanced, because of excessive circulation in your brain on that day, you will become more imbalanced. If you are happy, you will become more happy; if you are unhappy, you will become more unhappy. Whatever is your quality, it gets a little enhanced on those days because the blood is being pulled upward.
OK, now here comes Resnick and Halliday and for all those who have taken high school physics, using the value of the universal gravitational constant, the mass of the moon and its distance from us (all available at a moments click away) show that the acceleration due to moon's gravity is a million times weaker than that of the earth. It is well know that gravitational effects of the moon on the oceans is a combined sun+moon effect and that thankfully our blood does not have high tides etc.. It is also well documented that the strange effects that are attributed to the full or new moon is superstition. A search for instance throws up:
where it is pointed out that a mosquito sitting on ones arm exerts as much gravitational pull as the moon out there. (Maybe I should do the arithmetic, this somehow does not seem right!)
Well, anyway, this is all so much lunacy I am afraid.

The pity is, why should gurus who have something important to convey spread so much untruth too?
I have heard yet another gem from Jaggi where he brings in an imaginary research lab in the UK (called of all things d'Labor) where they have found evidence for what is commonly called Kirilian photography (of "auras" and such). Says it with a straight face too.

Jaggi is hardly alone, but he is a contemporary practitioner and I know that the yoga that he conveys has infinitely more value than the hooey that he occasionally sprouts. A bit sad actually. Isha foundation has launched a campaign against corruption. Apart from riding on the popularity crest of Anna Hazare and talking of corruption, maybe Sadhguru will also stop attributing to science what is not, as this too is clearly a form of corruption. But then I have not found the truth, the light and the million contact lenses ....