Traditionalists like Dayananda reject anything scientific
Just a few more points in a separate post to cut down the length of the posts. James Randi and Uri Geller: Uri Geller has become a sort of strawman to knock Parapsychology, so I am not surprised a skeptical article would mention Uri Geller. Geller was just an obscure unknown Israeli man that became famous after he got involved in the SRI progam for psychic abilities, apparently he was one of the most psychic people living in the world. After the program ended, this prior obscure entity became famous and in order to maintain his fame he started doing TV tours on various programs. The videos of the SRI studies with Geller are available on youtube and the experiments he conducted apparently underwent rigorous trials by Harg and Putroff. After the program ended Geller in order to maintain his fame started of his TV psychic career. Although not proven, Geller allegedly was found cheating and this cast huge doubts on the original SRI program. In fact, he was never actually found cheating, but his credibility certainly came into question. At most his so-called abilities became dubious when he seemed to be unable to perform in certain conditions, such as when he was provided fresh spoons(not his own) to bend and he could not perform. Another obscure stage performer, a magician James Randi became his arch nemesis and set out on a crusade against him becoming his own claim to fame. Geller did his TV tours as a psychic and Randi as a skeptic. Apparently, they were slugging it out constantly in legal battles.
My own take on the matter that Geller possibly did have some psychic ability, which was scientifically demonstrated in controlled conditions, but later due to his greed for fame and money, he either lost some of his ability or he cheated a bit to perform and play to the galley. There are constant warnings by Patanjali and other Hindu/Buddhist masters to not fall into the trap of allurement for siddhis, because it generates karmic effects. Apparently, even talking about them to other people could cause you to lose them. Siddhis are described as attainments or perfections only because they are sign posts of how far in your Sadhana you have progressed; they are not goals in themselves. They are like the equivalent of the temptations of Christ or Buddha, they happen at more advanced stages of spiritual development and if you fall for them, you fall long and hard. It might be the equivalent of many life times of development. Recall how Christ, Buddha and Nachiketa were tempted by the the equivalent of the lord of death in their mythology with exactly the same promises, "I will make you the sovereign of the Earth, all women, all gold, all pleasure will be yours" but they remained steadfast in their resolve and stuck it to the end (kingdom of heaven, Nirvana, knowledge) Ironically, we give up for even the smallest of pleasures, such as one ladoo, so forget siddhis ;)
Westernization/Abrahamization of Modern Vedanta/Sanyasa culture: I think myself and Mr Malhotra are ideologically allied in this battle and have spotted the same thing, that our own Vedanta/Sanyasa culture is becoming Westernized. I am more forthright (I can be because I am not famous) and fingerpoint at the biggest proponents of this movements, such as Swami Dayananda of Arsh Vidya, but Malhotra can't, so he goes after his disciples instead. That is, they are inculcating the Western philosophical assumptions into Hinduism. The same Cartesian dualism that is preventing parapsychology from breaking in the West(and thereby scientific progress) I have encountered in Swami Dayananda's Vedanta ashrams. I have been taught the same myths that science and religion are separate and cannot meet, that Vedanta is for religious people and science is for scientific/rational people and only through authority of scripture(in this case Vedas) can the spiritual world be known; conversely science can never know the spiritual. Once you accept accept these assumption welcome to the world of Sanyasa: You will be indoctrinated as a monk and you spend most of your time reading in Sanskrit the scriptures, memorising slokas and doing religious and administrative duties. The same world of scholastics that medieval Europe was stuck in before the Age of reason dawned. Rather than going forwards, we are going backwards.
Ironically, this modern neo-scholasticism that is being peddled in the Vedanta world is actually of recent origin (Dayananda has a huge part to play in its formation) prior major Hindus gurus like Yogananda, Vivekananda, Aurobindo, Muktananda and Prabhat Sarkar saw science and religion as complimentary not in opposition, in fact they predicted science and religion would merge into 'global spirituality' we have today. Yogananda and Prabhat Sarkar predicted we would find the spiritual atoms, which Yogananda called lifetrons and Sarkar called microvita, which would explain the hidden gap between mind and energy, and explain how PSI etc happens. In Yogananda famous autobiography, he explains how extraordinary feats like materialising massive objects is achieved through the manipulations of these particles using the mind. Aurobindo predicted the emergence of the next step in human evolution, homospiritus, the spiritual man, which will be the next root race (manu) and born with higher levels of consciousness and psychic ability The common denominator is that they all endorsed progress of science and religion and its merger, as well the disappearance of boundaries -- to use a cliche, to not see ourselves as English, Indian or Chinese, but as Earthlings, humans. If that ever happens times will tell, but one thing is for they were progressive not regressive. Therefore, we should reject anybody that peddles regression, whether that be our own traditionalists like Dayananda that reject anything scientific or atheists and secularists that reject anything religious and embrace spirituality as the reconciliation of both.
We Hindus should have a huge part to play in the unfolding global spirituality, because we are the ones that have bequeathed it. Rather than criticising and undermining Parapsychology, we should actually join hands with it and help it unfold even faster.
Lol, yeah a tenuous link I admit, but still a bit of a link, in that we are importing Western assumptions into Hinduism. In original Hindu thought mind matter dualism is absent, siddhis are normal natural phenomena and expected as a part of sadhana. We should be friendly to fields like parapsychology and transpersonal psychology, not antagonistic to them. Otherwise, what difference remains between us and Abrahamic religions? It's this "being different" that I guess Malhotra and myself wants to emphasise. Naturally, we have to point out those people who are trying to erode those differences from within.
The biggest swing to the Eastern worldview is not even by a physicist, it is by a psychologist named Ian Stevenson, who pioneered research into reincarnation and his data was so compelling that even a self-confessed atheist and skeptic scientist like Carl Sagan was compelled by it. The results are Hindu-Buddhist beliefs are becoming increasingly more popular and mainstream in the West and threatening Western religions. You can only imagine what would happen when PSI, PK and reincarnation are declared as scientifically proven.
The modern avatar of vivartavada is Bohm's holographic interpretation. I think Max Plank summed it up beautifully, when he said that we must posit some divine intelligence to explain the findings of quantum theory; in our apparent universe we see that particles behave randomly, but they are not totally random, because they somehow manage to cohere so that the universe can remain possible at all and there can be observers around to see it. I would argue from this fact that there never is a a real decoherence, coherence is maintained right up to the largest body such as a galaxy, as it is right down the smallest body such as an atom. What we are calling "decoherence" is where we are failing to see the order in the apparent chaos and mathematically explain it(String theory might be a push in the right direction). Take for example the Earth orbiting the sun, the speed of gravitation is the speed of light, but given the distance between the sun and the Earth, it would take its gravity approx 8 min and 20 seconds to reach the Earth. The fact the Earth maintains an orbit around the sun cannot be explained classically then, we must look for a non-classical explanation. Planks "divine intelligence" can be replaced with QM and we will find QM can explain all these instances of coherence and order in nature; the orbits of planets, biological processes or how animals navigate.
Finally, on Akasha. You are right to suspect a Hindu influence. What we are calling non-classical views is really the result of the influence of Hindu thought on Western physicists. The classical view is the old Cartesian, dualist, naturalist and mechanical view and the non-classical view is the Kapila-Shankara, Advaita, participatory and interactionist view, which Western thinkers were introduced to in the late 19th to early 20th century. Schrodinger's biographer Walter Moore confidently asserts that Schrodinger QM was a result of his readings into Hindu writings and cat in the box thought experiment was just a modern jazzed up version of a debate between Hindu and Buddhists. Virtually all the pioneers of QM were avid Hindu-Buddhist students. I am sure Malhotra will do his bit to expose just how far the influence went. In my dissertation I attempted to show that they are not just similar, as Capra was arguing but near identical to Samkhya; only the words have been changed. To really understand QM better you need to understand Samkhya. It would be helpful for modern physicists to all study Samkhya. Samkhya will not shed any new light on the mathematics of QM, but it will help interpret QM and situate the observer in physics.
In Yama's instruction to Naciketas, there is nothing comparable to Milton's descriptions of hell in Paradise Lost or Dante's details of Inferno, Purgatorio and Paradise in Divina Commedia. Yama for the most part expounds on the atmanjnana (“soul-knowledge”) and its relevance to authentic human existence in “this life.” There ...