My Non-Vedic Reading List
[00:45] Recommended Reading
Jai Guru Deva, I’m Thom Knoles. This is my podcast, The Vedic Worldview. And I’d like to move on to part of a previous session about my suggested reading list, where I suggested readings that had to do with texts that came out of my teacher, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, but also out of the ancient Vedic traditions of India.
Now I’d like to spend a few minutes making recommendations about books that do not come from the Vedic tradition, but which I think you may find very educational.
And I’m just going to give you a few because these few, in fact,encapsulate a tremendous amount of reading, which, even if you are a fast reader, you’ll probably spend the better part of the year trying to get through some of this stuff.
[01:38] The Overstory
First of all, I’m not going to restrict myself only to non-fiction. I think that it would be very good for everyone to read a particular novel, which was gifted to me by my close friend, Peter Spoerri, and which I have recommended to a large number of people, who’ve in turn recommended it to many, many others.
A novel written about three or four years ago entitled The Overstory. And The Overstory was written by an author whose surname is Powers [Richard Powers]. It’s a story about trees.
It’s a story about the roots, the trunk, the branches, and the leaves of the trees. Told in the format of the way in which a tree grows from its transcendental origins, under the soil, all the way up, and through the interaction of trees with humanity.
The Overstory, written by Powers, the author won the Pulitzer Prize for literature, for his having written this particular book. And it’s been on several bestseller lists, including the New York Times Bestseller List, for many, many months on end.
I enjoyed it thoroughly, and I find its transcendent themes very enjoyable, and it’s very consistent. The knowledge that’s in it is very consistent with the knowledge that I’ve been teaching.
[03:14] Non-fiction Books by Paul Davies
Now to move into the realm of non-fiction. For those of you with a scientific bent, you do not need to be a scientist. You know the word lay, L-A-Y, means someone who is not a specialist in an area. And so you can be a layperson and read these books very easily.
I recommend any book written by Paul Davies. Paul Davies, D-A-V-I-E-S, Davies. Paul is a British professor of physics. I met him first when he was teaching quantum astrophysics at the University of Adelaide in South Australia many, many years ago.
And he’s written several books. They have very provocative titles. For example, The Mind of God. And God and the New Physics. Why does he call it by those names? Not because he’s a religious man.
In fact, Professor Davies is considered a conservative mainstream scientist and sits on the review board of several major sober, and very non-controversial, peer-reviewed journals, including Science, Nature, and a few of those highly orthodox scientific journals.
Professor Davies, he’s written about, I’m going to say, around eight books. I haven’t kept up with all of them. One called The Cosmic Jackpot. In some countries, it was published under that name. In other countries, it was published as The Goldilocks Effect, meaning not too hot, not too cold, not too big, not too small, not too hard, not too soft.
In other words, the story of how astonishing it is that we dwellers here on planet Earth ended up on a planet that turned out to be so incredibly bio-friendly over the last, probably, 20 million years. That biology has been able to thrive here. But what it takes, in order for that biologically friendly atmosphere to exist here on Earth is nothing short of mind-boggling.
The timing, the size of the Sun, the Theia event of the Moon crashing into the Earth, tilting it onto its axis, settling into being a moon instead of a giant asteroid. The distance of the Earth from the Sun, relative to the other planets, the gravitational effect of all the other planets, and the effect they have on the Earth. The proximity of our Sun to other stars, not too close, not too far, and the age of our Sun with regard to this particular planet.
[06:23] Davies’ Exploration of the Perfect Conditions
All of these things have to be taken into effect, and Davies is able to demonstrate that, which all astrophysicists and planetary scientists know, which is if you changed any one of these conditions, if there were fewer planets in our solar system than are extant in it, then there couldn’t be life on Earth.
If any one of the planets in our solar system was any larger or any smaller than actually it is, there couldn’t be life on Earth. If the Sun were any larger or smaller, or any closer or further, to the Earth, there couldn’t be life on Earth.
If the Moon hadn’t collided with the earth, and tilted it onto its axis, and then turned into a moon around the Earth, there couldn’t be life on Earth.
If the nearest star were any closer or any further, then there couldn’t be life on Earth. If our solar system was in any other place in our galaxy other than where it is in a particular obscure spiral arm of our galaxy, then there couldn’t be life on Earth. We wouldn’t be having any of these conversations unless all of the most perfect conditions existed for there to be life on Earth.
Now, this is classic Paul Davies, making provocative statements for your consideration and contemplation. He doesn’t arrive at conclusions for you. He allows you to come to conclusions on your own about what he proposes to be a question that needs to be answered. He’s not saying it has been answered.
[08:03] Come to Your Own Conclusion
The question being the bio-friendly nature of our Universe, that somehow our Universe appears to be creating, in different pockets here and there, the conditions for life to appear. But he takes it further than that, and says that the placement of all of the fundamental forces and matter of the Universe is pivotal to life existing in any place that it does exist.
In other words, it appears to be, and it’s up to you, the reader, to arrive at your own conclusion, but it does appear to be a question that you need to answer. Is somehow there a transcendent bio-friendly trend in our Universe? And if so, why?
Davies is also a professor of ideas around quantum mechanics. That is the most successful theory of modern science.
Quantum mechanics is the most successful theory of modern science because it can predict the appearance of a form, or a phenomenon, up to nine decimal places of accuracy in time and in space. There’s no other theory of modern science that can get anywhere near that level of accuracy.
So we can easily call quantum mechanics the most successful theory of modern science, and one which has produced technologies that we all use every day, including digital technology, which we’re using right now as we listen to this.
So I’m a great admirer of Paul Davies.
[09:41] Professor John Gribben’s Thesis
I’m a great admirer of Professor John Gribben, G-R-I-B-B-E-N.Professor Gribben,also a mainstream scientist who wrote a book entitled The Birth of the Living Universe, and I believe it has another two words in its title, which I’ll get my team to look up for you [In the Beginning], but its subtitle is The Birth of the Living Universe.
Gribben’s thesis in this book is that we live in a Universe which is alive, that the Universe is a living thing. Now, that might sound a little bit woo woo to some people, but Gribben himself is not a woo woo scientist.
In fact, just like Davies, whom he knows, Gribben is a major professor, and a member of the boards of review of some of the most orthodox and stuffy scientific journals that exist in the world today, and has a sterling reputation in the scientific community.
[10:45] Professor Brian Josephson’s Works
I’d also suggest that you read any book by the Nobel laureate, Nobel Prize-winning author, Professor Brian Josephson, who, for many years, when I knew him and spent time with him, was the professor of physics at the University of Cambridge in England.
Professor Brian Josephson won his Nobel Prize on the subject of quantum tunneling. The way that we’ve been able to show there is a Unified Field because, if you tickle a sub-nuclear particle here, then over there, which could be thousands of miles away, it laughs.
In other words, you can do something in one place in spacetime, and create a measurable effect, and a predictable effect, in another place in spacetime, where the movement of, impact of the effect that you’re creating, would have to travel faster than the speed of light, which we know is not possible.
But quantum tunneling allows there to be a stimulus produced in one part of the Universe, and for it to be detectable in another part of the universe.
And Josephson wrote many specialist treatises and books. Unless you’re a physicist, I recommend you skip those. But he also wrote, you can find the titles easily just by Googling Professor Brian Josephson,Joseph-son, S-O-N, and you’ll discover a world of reading. He is considered to be mainstream and also way out there.
[12:31] Books on Neuroscience – Norman Doidge
Now, getting out of the astrophysics and physics world, and into the world of neuroscience, which is an area in which I specialized for some time, I recommend that you read a book entitled The Brain That Changes Itself by Professor Norman Doidge. Doidge also wrote a second book on the subject of The Potentials of the Human Brain.
His first book, The Brain That Changes Itself, was published about 10 years ago. His second book was published about five years ago.
Doidge is a neuropsychiatrist, someone who studied neurology, modern medicine, specialized in the brain, neurology, and is also a psychiatrist. And his story about the potentials of the brain and what it is that makes the brain tick is just phenomenal and very congruent with our thinking.
It turns out Doidge is able to demonstrate, through his writings, that consciousness, in fact, conceives the mechanisms of the brain, and determines how the brain functions, not the other way around.
The brain is not hardwired at birth to behave in a particular way, but that we, through our consciousness, cause the brain to hardwire itself. So the software creates the hardware, in the case of the brain. This is Doidge’s basic thesis.
I also recommend Norman Doidge’s most recent book, The Brain’s Way of Healing. And so, if you would like to have a look at Doidge’s work in the field of cognitive neuroscience and neuropsychiatry, I think you would find some of those books very fascinating.
[14:27] Sapiens – Yuval Noah Harari
I also enjoyed very much, Harari’s book called Sapiens, or if you’re American, Sapiens. Sapiens is all about the human species that we know ourselves as today, as distinct from the other four or five human species that existed as recently as a hundred thousand years ago.
And what our advantages were, our evolutionary advantages that made us the only extant humanoid and homonid species still standing on the Earth today. I find Harari’s concepts and ideas, the kinds of questions that he asks, and the way that he thinks about things, to be very provocative and helpful for any critical thinker.
So that might be enough for today. I’ve given you a year or two worth of readings to check out and investigate, and we can continue with this once you start to make worthy inquiry about it.