The Science of Oneness: The Science and Nonduality Conferences (SAND)

Many people practice yoga because it helps them to feel good, stay fit, or manage minor health issues like insomnia, back pain, or stiffness.  Few are aware that the practice of yoga is guided by a vast and ancient philosophy devoted to lifestyle, health and healing.

The word yoga means union. The 2000 year-old Yoga Sutras of Patanjali state that yoga is intended to still the fluctuations of the mind (yogah citta vritti nirodah: Sutra 1.2) to attain a state of sattva, or pure existence. This philosophy is similar to that of the mystics, seers and philosophers of many religious and spiritual traditions that have spanned human history.

Whether termed consciousness, pure awareness, sat chit ananda,  nirvana, spirit, or one of a myriad of other terms, the tenet that all beings are borne of the same cosmic materials and separated only by ideas transcends time and tradition.  Author Aldous Huxley referred to it as the Perennial Philosophy in recognition of just how universal this tenet is.

Many spiritual and mystical philosophies and practices have emerged and flourished in the service of liberating humans from suffering and the delusion of separateness. Yoga is one such tradition. The ancient yogis aimed to cultivate the capacity to experience the oneness underlying all of reality through the combined practices of yoga postures, breath exercises and meditation.

During the past several decades, Buddhism, Taoism, and Yoga and other Eastern traditions have proliferated in the West. Mainstream America has grown to embrace their philosophies, practices, and culture, and commerce and popular media have shifted their focus in response.

In recent years, this trend has also moved into Western universities, think tanks and research laboratories. One example is the Science and Nonduality (SAND) movement, which was founded by Zaya and Maurizio Bennazo with the goal of uniting mystics, scientists, philosophers, and spiritual teachers to create a new paradigm that recognizes the interconnectedness of life and the ancient wisdom of nonduality. To that end, SAND offers ground-breaking conferences across the globe in an effort to unite science with spirituality and personal experience.

SAND’s 5th conference entitled, “The Science and Mystery of Perception” was held at the National Utrecht Park in the Netherlands in the spring of 2013. Conference organizers endeavored to create a context to explore “ the nature of awareness, the essence of life from which all arises and subsides”. Over 400 participants gathered for 6 days to examine topics related to perception, consciousness, and the self, within an overarching framework of integration, exploration and nonduality.

The SAND movement represents many of the beliefs and traditions consistent with the philosophies of the ancient yoga tradition. Their leadership and innovation provide an inspirational road map from which all beings can cultivate a greater awareness of their world and the interconnectedness of all beings.

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