I started meditation at eight years old learning gymnastics. I competed regionally, doing backflips with a full twist and spinning around the high bar and such. Gymnastics is rated as the most difficult sport in the world. You have to visualize your routine and you have to be focused, healthy and strong. As a teen I started bodybuilding and martial arts, Daoist meditation, Zen and yoga, studying Western esotericism and ancient religion.
Before I started at the University of Iowa studying Business and Political Science, I joined the Episcopal Church, finding myself a member of the choir, the music committee and the liturgy committee. It was just for a couple of years but the experience left a lasting impression on me. That is also where I met a gifted couple who introduced me to an English knight who is also an Anglican priest, theologian and theoretical physicist. Our conversations were my introduction to the Science vs. Religion debate.
While the knight of the realm defended his faith, agnostics and atheists point out that faith without evidence, which is the very cornerstone of religious belief, is precisely the antithesis of skepticism and science. In my view, intuition is our ultimate compass and guide, and there is no blanket rule for the compatibility of science and religion; it depends on the philosophy of the individual. One might, for example, take the view of Joseph Campbell or retired bishop John Shelby Spong. Religion can be understood as erring mortal human’s relationship with the eternal. The supernatural can be viewed with skepticism. Tradition can be maintained while illuminated by historical perspective.
I had been studying Lectio Divina on retreat with a small Catholic Benedictine monastery in Illinois and I told my friends about oblation, which I was considering. My friends became oblates at Saint John’s Abbey in Minnesota, the largest monastery in the United States, also a Benedictine monastery, staying there for six months while I house sat. I also stayed at Saint John’s Abbey for a week with them. I was welcomed graciously by the Roman Catholic monks, even though I was a chorister (and not an especially good one) with the Episcopal Church.
I became a 32nd degree Freemason between Alexandria, Virginia and Washington, D. C. I was made a Mason in a courtesy third degree ceremony by Alexandria-Washington Lodge No. 22. The lodge was named such because George Washington served as the first Master of that lodge. During this time I met my Zen teacher, a Korean Soen Buddhist monk, taking my lay vows and receiving my Dharma name, Wuyi, “Depends on Nothing.”
My father, a physicist and engineer who had worked with Dr. James Van Allen on contracts with NASA for space shuttle programs, was taken by cancer. I inherited from him a love of science. After moving to Java, an Indonesian island just south of Borneo, I began cultivating a monastic lifestyle. After traveling around the United States, Europe and Asia, I came to deeply appreciate the importance of science in every facet of life. In particular, I personally have found an interest in the science of meditation, and I hope to help bring some clarity to the subject in my research for Science Abbey.