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Archive for the ‘Scientific Spirituality’ Category

Science Behind Spiritual Experiences –

Posted: March 28, 2015 at 6:47 am

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I'm driving away from from my mother-in-law's house, crying. Vivian has been a mother to me in every way that matters, and now she's dying of cancer. For months my husband, brother-in-law, and I have been taking turns caring for her in her home. As I pull away this November morning, I know I probably won't see her alive again.

I cry and cry, and after a while a strange feeling bubbles up from my chest into my throat. It takes a minute to recognize it as joy, and I'm horrifiedhow can I feel joy at a time like this? But it's irresistible. I'm laughing and crying and all the while a small part of me is wondering what the hell is going on. And then suddenly I'm having a...for lack of a better word, vision. I'm not asleep; I'm not hallucinating; I know my name and the date and I'm still driving the car. But an image comes to me: I'm in an underground cavern, on the edge of a vast lake, looking at the water with the feeling of joy still bubbling up inside me, and somehow I understand that the water is actually love, and that love lies under every step I take. I understand that even though my mother-in-law is dying, I will never be alone or unloved. That I am inextricably, inexplicably connected to every living thing on the planet.

Five years ago, I didn't believe in spiritual experiences. Or at least I didn't believe I would ever feel anything transcendent or mystical. I knew others did, or said they did, but those people were seekers. They went to energy healers and astrologers. They prayed and meditated and maybe, I thought, talked themselves into believing they'd had an out-of-the-ordinary moment.

I wasn't that type of person. Though I'd love to believe in a higher power, I just don't. I'm a science journalist, an agnostic empiricist who appreciates the cultural aspects of being Jewish but not the religious ones. So when that image of water and love enveloped me in a sense of peace I'd never felt before, I didn't know what to make of it. It wasn't the sort of thing I could easily bring up with others; I couldn't imagine saying, "By the way, last week I had this visionlet me tell you about it!" Eventually, though, I described it to a friend who said, "It sounds like you've had a spiritual experience."

It turns out I'm in good company. According to a study at the University of Chicago, about half of all Americans say they've had such an experience, which might range from a sense of well-being while watching a sunset to a classic near-death journey. These occurrences are, necessarily, deeply personal and hard to articulate.. "What one person calls a religious experiencewhich could be intense and life-changinganother might call a simple ten-second prayer," explains Patrick McNamara, PhD, director of the Evolutionary Neurobehavior Laboratory at the Boston University School of Medicine.

But no matter what they're called, these events share certain characteristics. Andrew Newberg, MD, director of research at the Myrna Brind Center for Integrative Medicine at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia, is one of a new breed of "neurotheologians" studying the intersections among our brains, religion, philosophy, and spirituality. Newberg surveyed about 3,000 people who'd had spiritual experiences and identified a few common elements. Number one was a strong sense of what he calls realness. When you wake up from a dream, he explains, you know it wasn't real, no matter how vivid it felt. Not so with transcendent experiences, which feel authentic not only at the time but years later.

Mona de Vestel, a creative writing teacher from upstate New York, still remembers a moment that literally changed her life nearly 30 years ago: At 16 I had pneumonia and typhoid fever. I knew I was dying. One afternoon I was lying in bed and heard the door open. I didn't open my eyes, but I thought, Mom's coming in. She sat on the bed; I felt the weight. She put a hand on my cheek, and I got the most powerful feeling of well-being. I felt that she was telling me, "You're going to be fine." Later, when she came back, I said, "When you came in earlier and put your hand on my cheek, it felt so good." And she said, "I didn't come in here." Around the time I'd thought she was with me, she was in the kitchen doing dishes and heard the rustling of clothes. She turned around, but no one was there. She'd been praying to her mother, who had died, to help.

De Vestel says that from that moment on, she began to recover, and her attitude toward the spiritual world shifted. "It's not just 'those people' who have 'weird' things happen," she says. "It's something that can happen to anyone."

Newberg also found that spiritual experiences usually occur during times of strong emotionseuphoria, fear, grief, or some combination, as I felt that day in the car. A third defining element is a feeling of connectedness, of not being alone. Spiritual leaders might interpret this as evidence of a higher power. Scientists tend to look for answers elsewhere: in the physical structure of the brain.

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Science Behind Spiritual Experiences -

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March 28th, 2015 at 6:47 am

New Xulon Title Ties Science and Spirituality in a Concise Format

Posted: March 27, 2015 at 12:45 pm

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Seminole, FL (PRWEB) March 27, 2015

Within the pages of his new book, Faith & Belief Are the Heart's Keys: Unlock & Soften Your Heart to Set it Free and Live! ($15.99, paperback, 9781498426893; $7.99, e-book, 9781498426909) Daniel Soto will explain the undeniable harmony between science and religionspecifically within Bible-believing religions. His writing comes as a result of many years of dedicated research, and it exists to explain that the truth in the Bible can be validated with science. The text points out that the Scriptures carried wisdom thousands of years ago and those that believed saw something more to life and the physical world.

This information can truly awaken people to opening their eyes and understanding the mechanics of life as the scientific evidence is provided for those that need it, states the author. The approach is different and unique as I explain though my own examples some of the pitfalls we all face, including recent current events that should make people seek out truth to understand the facts.

Having been extremely curious about both science and religion from an early age, Daniel Soto has continually searched and researched for answers throughout his life. He began with a Catholic education that continued until midway through high school when he left for public school. In college, the author was proficient in math and science, and felt there had to be a connection. Daniel began looking at different religious and spiritual programs. As he studied, he realized how similar certain ideas were to what he had learned from Catholic education, resulting in his return to the Bible.

Xulon Press, a division of Salem Communications, is the worlds largest Christian self-publisher, with more than 12,000 titles published to date. Retailers may order Faith & Belief Are the Heart's Keys: Unlock & Soften Your Heart to Set it Free and Live! through Ingram Book Company and/or Spring Arbor Book Distributors. The book is available online through,, and

Media Contact: Daniel Soto Email:

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New Xulon Title Ties Science and Spirituality in a Concise Format

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March 27th, 2015 at 12:45 pm

Critic Faults Alcoholics Anonymous For Lack Of Evidence

Posted: March 26, 2015 at 5:49 pm

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A meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous in the 1950s was based on much the same 12-step program used today. Bettmann/Corbis hide caption

A meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous in the 1950s was based on much the same 12-step program used today.

Founded by two men in Akron, Ohio, in the 1935, Alcoholics Anonymous has since spread around the world as a leading community-based method of overcoming alcohol dependence and abuse. Many people swear by the 12-step method, which has become the basis of programs to treat the abuse of drugs, gambling, eating disorders and some other compulsive behaviors.

But not everyone's a fan. In a recent critique of AA, author Gabrielle Glaser writes in the April issue of The Atlantic that, "Nowhere in the field of medicine is treatment less grounded in modern science."

Glaser, whose 2013 book Her Best-Kept Secret explores what she calls "the epidemic of female drinking" in the U.S., says recent research on the brain suggests that the abstinence advocated by AA isn't the only solution or even the best for many people. Cognitive therapy combined with the medication naltrexone, Glaser says, can help ease cravings and has been shown in some studies to help some problem drinkers learn to drink moderately without quitting.

Glaser's magazine story has drawn fire from defenders of AA, including Huffington Post writer Tommy Rosen, who calls himself "a person in long-term recovery (23 years) who overcame severe drug addiction and alcoholism in great part due to the 12 Steps." Glaser's article, Rosen writes, is "painfully one-sided." Therapist and psychology reporter Robi Ludwig told Glaser and the host of MSNBC's program All in With Chris Hayes last week that she thinks it's "very dangerous to put out the idea that AA doesn't work. Does it work for everybody? No. There's not going to be one form of treatment that works for everybody."

In an interview with NPR's Audie Cornish for All Things Considered, Glaser discusses her story, the heat she's getting and why she believes people with a drinking problem should consider options beyond AA. NPR contacted Alcoholics Anonymous for comment, but the organization declined.

Interview Highlights

On why Glaser thinks Alcoholics Anonymous should be challenged and updated

We did a lot of things in 1935 that we don't do anymore. You know, when babies were delivered, we spanked them on the bottom and held them upside down and that's something that didn't necessarily hurt babies, but we don't do that anymore.

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Critic Faults Alcoholics Anonymous For Lack Of Evidence

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March 26th, 2015 at 5:49 pm

Americans are deeply religious, so will we ever see an atheist president? Heres what we know.

Posted: March 24, 2015 at 2:46 pm

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By Gary Scott Smith March 23

As the 2016 presidential campaign heats up, many of the Republican potential hopefuls have strong Christian convictions.

Sen. Ted Cruz, who is announcing his candidacy Monday, and former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee are Southern Baptists. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a nondenominational evangelical, and neurosurgeon Ben Carson, a Seventh-Day Adventist, also are devout Christians. Several of the potential contenders are Catholic, including former Florida governor Jeb Bush, Sen. Marco Rubio, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and former senator Rick Santorum.

As recently as 1960, American voters were very concerned about the Catholic faith of John F. Kennedy. Fears that Kennedy would take orders from the pope caused consternation for many voters in that years presidential election, and New York Gov. Al Smiths Catholic faith contributed to his defeat in 1928. What once seemed to potentially disqualify a candidate appears to be off the table, at least for those who are Catholic.

So could atheists have their JFK moment soon?

Clearly the landscape has changed. Two-third of Americans believe in God, although scholars who track trends in religion are watching how the rising number of Nones those who do not identify with any religion may impact the religious landscape. Today they constitute 20 percent of all American adults. About 13 million (nearly 6 percent of Americans) describe themselves as atheist or agnostic, while 33 million people (14 percent) report that they have no particular religious affiliation. However, nearly 95 percent of those with no religious affiliation also say they believe in God, and about half ofthem say they are spiritual but not religious.

Given this increase in nones, especially among younger adults (one-third of all adults younger than 30 are religiously unaffiliated), could an atheist perhaps be elected president? Probably not. In a 2014 Pew Research Center poll, twice as many religiously unaffiliated Americans said they would be less likely to vote for a candidate who does not believe in God (24 percent) as said they would be more likely to do so (12 percent). Most (64 percent) stated that a candidates atheism would not matter.

It appears that an overt atheist would have more difficulty being elected than Barack Obama did in becoming the nations first black chief executive or a woman or gay candidate would have in winning the White House. In numerous surveys, at least half of Americans state that they would not vote for an atheist. While the numbers of those who declare that they would not vote for an atheist have declined in the new millennium, a 2014 Pew Research Center poll found that Americans are less likely to vote for an atheist than any other type of candidate, including ones who have never held office, have had extramarital affairs, are in their 70s or are gay.

Being identified as an atheist in the United States today is still such a major political liability that a candidate holding this position probably could not gain a major partys nomination for president or even the Senate. Only eight members of the current Congress declined to indicate their religious affiliation, and only one of them, Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) identifies herself as religiously unaffiliated.

Atheists in other countries have had more success. In 2010, Julia Gillard became Australias first female and first unmarried prime minister. Even more remarkably, she won Australias highest office after openly declaring that she is an atheist. Although Gillard is no longer in office, 10 other popularly elected heads of state are self-described atheists, agnostics, or nonbelievers, including President Francois Hollande of France, President Milos Zeman of the Czech Republic, Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo of Belgium and Prime Minister John Key of New Zealand. Granted, Europe and Oceania are more secular than the United States. More striking is the fact that South Korea (which has a sizable Christian population) and two historically Catholic countries Uruguay and Chile also have elected presidents who identify themselves as atheists or agnostics.

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Americans are deeply religious, so will we ever see an atheist president? Heres what we know.

Written by grays

March 24th, 2015 at 2:46 pm

Finding renewal in spring, and in our spirits

Posted: March 22, 2015 at 5:44 am

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Published: Saturday, 3/21/2015 - Updated: 15 hours ago COMMENTARY


Friday was the first day of spring, with the vernal equinox marking the point when day and night are the same length. Thats the scientific start of the season, but some people look to the birds to know that its spring.

Weve been taught that robins are a mystical harbinger of better weather, because why would the birds be here if it were going to snow again or the temperature were likely to stay below freezing?

The robin escorting the new season in isnt so straightforward, though. Story and tradition dont hew so closely to science and nature.

Some robins dont migrate. In a field guide to birds you might see a map showing that northwest Ohio is year-round territory for the American robin. If the food is not covered by too much snow, robins will be here.

There are times Ive been discouraged seeing robins around and the weather not cooperating, and thinking that some human snowbirds who spend the winter in Florida are better indicators.

Even so, look to the robin. Theres some comfort in seeing the familiar red breast, the bird pulling worms from your yard, maybe, or hearing its brief song. The robin might indicate the promise of spring, but it doesnt actually usher it in.

The robins that stay through the winter demonstrate that there are complicating factors getting in the way of predicting how the world and our lives will go.

Its the same for spirituality for most of us. Being religious, or spiritual but not religious if you prefer that phrasing, is not always transcendent in the way we might like. The positive mysticism might be missing.

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Finding renewal in spring, and in our spirits

Written by grays

March 22nd, 2015 at 5:44 am

In CNN’s ‘Believer,’ Reza Aslan to aim for a window on world religions

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CNN is looking to a higher power in its quest to get new viewers.

The cable news network's original series lineup for 2016 includes "Believer," featuring religious studies scholar Reza Aslan, who will delve into different religious practices around the world. Think of it as "Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown" with faith instead of food as a window to explore cultures.

The six-episode series, based on an idea that Aslan has been pitching for a few years, will be another element in CNN's strategy to get people to tune in when there isn't breaking news.

"It's an opportunity to show religious traditions, practices, rites and rituals that may at first seem weird and foreign and exotic and unfamiliar because you're unfamiliar with the metaphors underlying those ideas," Aslan said in a telephone interview from his Hollywood office. "At the end of an hour episode, they will all of a sudden become much more familiar and recognizable."

Religious programming has found an audience on television going back to when Bishop Fulton Sheen got big ratings just by dissecting inspirational topics on his chalkboard for the DuMont and ABC networks in the 1950s.

In recent weeks, CNN has been topping its cable news competition with "Finding Jesus: Faith, Fact, Forgery," in which scientific and archaeological methods are used to examine physical evidence of Christ's existence. The program has averaged 1.2 million viewers a week since its premiere.

Aslan, who wrote the controversial bestseller "Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth," will cast a wider net with his program, undoubtedly influenced by his own personal experience. A creative writing professor at UC Riverside who holds a PhD in sociology with a focus on religions, Aslan became a born-again Christian after coming to the U.S. from Iran. He later converted to Islam.

On "Believer," Aslan could take viewers to Pakistan for the annual Shia mourning ceremony and flagellation exercises. Or he could go to Israel to observe members of Na Nach, an ultra-Orthodox Jewish movement that combines rave culture and all that that involves (yes, alcohol and drugs) with spirituality to create, as he describes it, "something brand-new."

The show is part of a broader effort by CNN President Jeff Zucker to expand the network beyond the 24/7 news cycle and into documentaries and other kinds of shows. Thanks to its original series' performances, CNN's prime-time audience was down 1% in 2014 compared with the previous year when it experienced double-digit declines. The channel still remains a distant second behind Fox News Channel.

Producing shows like "Believer" costs more than a live show with talking heads in the studio. But Zucker said the improved ratings from such series as "Parts Unknown," "The Hunt With John Walsh" and "The Sixties" have made the approach profitable.

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In CNN's 'Believer,' Reza Aslan to aim for a window on world religions

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March 22nd, 2015 at 5:44 am

Spirit Science | Seeking Higher Consciousness

Posted: March 20, 2015 at 11:43 pm

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I had to tap in to add perspective of the current energies and how to utilize them. First, I want to make clear that in this realm of reality, there is not right or wrong of how to tap into this energy because everyone on this Earth whether aware consciously of the transition or not, will be affected. It is unlike when we set space for a spiritual practice, where we smudge sage or say prayers, this alignment is so monumental all who inhabit this planet will shift simultaneous even if it invisible to the human eye. In saying that, I do enjoy thinking it is accelerating to be conscious of the energy transitions and to actively participate in the current of changeable energy. If you do too than please read on

I will explain the celestial events first and then go on to explain their spiritual meaning or mysticism. First, we are transitioning into the Spring-Fall Equinox depending on where you are located; the Spring Equinox will be in the Northern Hemisphere and the Southern Hemisphere the Fall Equinox.Within the same day this year, we will experience a Solar Eclipse only visible by specially Europe, to top it all off although it is a New Moon the Moon will be a Supermoon! One of six that we will experience within 2015.The view of this rare celestial alignment should be phenomenal to all who can see it since a Supermoon is when the Moon is closer to the Earth, meaning the Solar Eclipse will be amplified visually!

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We have seen many reports online about the healing benefits of Marijuana, and the effects that decriminalization & Legalization have had on the different states in the US. Obama: If Enough States Decriminalize Marijuana, Congress May Change Federal Law. Check this buzzing topic and let us know what you think.

Obama goes into a few topics in this video including concerns about climate change. At min 14:20 he talks about the decriminalization of Marijuana and the Legalization as two separate topics. Check out this video and let us know in the comments below what YOU think the US or other countries should do about this issue.

Want to get straight to the point? Go straight to min 14:20 in the video below.

This is a very hot topic for a lot of people right now. What we seem to know for sure is that people, even in congress, believe that the system we have in place right now isnt working for one reason or another.

We want to know what you think. What do you feel would work for everyone? What do you feel is standing in the way of those things happening now?

Please join the discussion in the comments below.

Thank you for watching,

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Spirit Science | Seeking Higher Consciousness

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March 20th, 2015 at 11:43 pm

Visualizing an Endless Universe: Mariko Mori Makes the Cosmos Life-Size

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Its been two decades since Japanese artist Mariko Mori burst onto the New York art scene. In the years since, she has become one the most recognizable female artists from Japan, with solo shows at the Brooklyn Museum, the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, Japan Society, the MCA Chicago, and the Serpentine Gallery, among others. Her early manga-infused imagery, laden with futuristic costumes, high-tech architecture, and fringe elements of Japanese pop culture caught the attention of the International art scene, but where she started is not where shes at today. Shes evolved, and her transition into more meditative, spiritual territory is both refreshing, and reflected in the work itself.

On Friday she will open her first show with Sean Kelly gallery, exhibiting all new work and unveiling pieces based on scientific research now reproduced on a grand scale. The large-scale sculpture works touch on human connections to nature, the mysteries of the universe, personal spirituality, and environmental awareness.

Cyclicscape will feature ten new sculptures in Mobius forms (an endless one-sided surface with no boundaries) that explore alternative theories of the origins of the universe. Its a heady subject, but the works themselvesproducts of Ms. Moris imagination and extensive research on string theory and ekpyrotic cosmologyare elegant visualizations of otherwise abstract and daunting subjects.

Over mochiand matcha tea in her studio, Ms. Mori patiently explained the science behind the undulating and delicately glittering sculptures. (One hung on the wall above us, a greyish pink ribbon that widened and narrowed as itlooped back in on itself).

The idea of the Big Bang really made sense for everything, but after the discovery of black holes and the introduction of string theory, physicists realized that it doesnt really make sense that we came from nothingness, she told the Observer.

Instead, Ms. Mori bases the repeating forms in her sculptures on the theory that the universe is filled with infinite cycles of energy, and even parallel universes. The sculptures represent these ideas on the largest scale possible.

I wanted to scale up to universe level, she said pointing to a wide section of the hanging sculpture that abruptly narrows before widening again.

Its quite abstract, and while it looks as though this could be the end of the form, theres actually no end and then it starts over again, she said.

The works on view may play on theories of multi-universes, but only represent variations on our own. Pre-existing imagery of the theories themselves are few and far between, and Ms. Mori doesnt look to visual examples by others, instead just relies on the science.

From books your imagination can expand more, but when you look at a picture thats the end, in a way, she said.

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Visualizing an Endless Universe: Mariko Mori Makes the Cosmos Life-Size

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March 20th, 2015 at 11:43 pm

Leak in Curiosity’s Wet Chemistry Test Finds Mars Organics

Posted: March 17, 2015 at 10:44 pm

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An unexpected leak of a chemical designed to tag complex organic molecules in samples collected by NASAs Mars rover Curiosity appears to have serendipitously done its job, scientists reported on Tuesday.

Curiositys onboard laboratory includes seven so-called wet chemistry experiments designed to preserve and identify suspect carbon-containing components in samples drilled out from rocks.

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None of the foil-capped metal cups has been punctured yet, but vapors of the fluid, known as N-methyl-N-tert-butyldimethylsilyl-trifluoroacetamide, or MTBSTFA, leaked into the gas-sniffing analysis instrument early in the mission.

Curiosity landed in a 96-mile wide impact basin known as Gale Crater in August 2012 to determine if the planet most like Earth in the solar system has or ever had the chemistry and environments to support microbial life.

Scientists quickly fulfilled the primary goal of the mission, discovering sulfur, nitrogen, hydrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and carbon in powder Curiosity drilled out of an ancient mudstone in an area known as Yellowknife Bay.

BIG PIC: Curiosity's New Selfie Awash With Epic Mars Science

That paved the way for a more ambitious hunt for complex organic molecules, an effort complicated by the MTBSTFA leak.

This caused us a lot of headache in the beginning, frankly, because it has a lot of carbon in it and other (chemical) fragments that can break apart, Curiosity scientist Danny Glavin, with NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, said on Tuesday (March 17) at the Lunar and Planetary Science conference in Houston, Texas.

Weve turned this sort of bad thing into a good thing because weve learned how to work around this leak. Weve actually used this vapor from this leak to carry out derivitization, he said, referring to the technique to tag organics.

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Leak in Curiosity's Wet Chemistry Test Finds Mars Organics

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March 17th, 2015 at 10:44 pm

‘Hinduism should not lose its USP, and that is tolerance’

Posted: March 16, 2015 at 6:47 pm

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'If science is questioning, religion is also equally questioning. That is what Hinduism is'

'In Sanatana Dharma, there is only questioning'

'But today, if you question a religion, you are called communalist'

28-year-old Dusyant Sridhar, an engineer by day and a Upanyasakar by night, speaks to Shobha Warrier/

Photographs: Sriram Selvaraj/

Meet Dusyant Sridhar, 28, a Jekyl and Hyde character. During the day, he is a techie in jeans and T-shirt working for Tata Consultancy Services.

After office hours, he is an Upanyasakar in white veshti and angavastram with a naamam on his forehead, discoursing on ancient scriptures.

There is no conflict in these two roles for him, and he switches from one to another quite effortlessly.

His journey as an Upanyasakar started with a discourse in Tamil on Seetha Kalyanam when he was a young engineering student at BITS, Pilani, in 2004.

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'Hinduism should not lose its USP, and that is tolerance'

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March 16th, 2015 at 6:47 pm

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