On the Mystery of Being

On the Mystery of Being

Contemporary Insights on the Convergence of Science and Spirituality

Who are we? What is our place in this vast and ever-evolving universe? Where do science and spirituality meet?

If you’ve pondered these questions, you’re not alone. Join some of the most spiritually curious and renowned minds of our time for an exploration into the mystery of being. From founders of the Science and Nonduality (SAND) conference, Maurizio and Zaya Benazzo, On the Mystery of Being brings together an array of visionary spiritual leaders, psychologists, philosophers, scientists, teachers, authors, and healers to celebrate and explore what it means to be human.

This beautifully arranged collection of essays and insights highlight topics on the convergence of spirituality and science, weaving scientific theory and spiritual wisdom from some of the most influential thinkers of our time—including Deepak Chopra, Rupert Spira, Adyashanti, and many more—with pieces that get straight to the heart of the matter.

As a powerful antidote to our chaotic and materialist modern world, this dazzling volume offers timeless wisdom and new insight into humanity’s age-old questions. On the Mystery of Being also reveals the cutting-edge explorations at the intersection of science and spirituality today. May it encourage your spirit, challenge your mind, and deepen your understanding of our interconnectedness.

A collection of 48 essays (240 pages), official release date: October 1.

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“Good news! Nondual consciousness and radical embodiment are not mutually exclusive. Maybe you, like I, have known this all along; known it in the cells of your own holy body, touched this truth in the depths of silence, lived it and taught it and forgotten and remembered it. This collection of luminous essays points us beyond language to the undifferentiated field of being that turns out to be nothing less than Love Itself. Enter."
Mirabai Starr, author of Wild Mercy, and translator of Dark Night of the Soul

“In this glorious compendium of thinkers who live and work on the frontiers of the art and science of consciousness, we have a book that opens portals to worlds that astonish while advancing the human mind and spirit. For in these pages, we are met with numi­nous knowledge and priceless wisdom from those who have ‘been there.’ Here, too, is the paradox of living in a biodegradable space-time suit and being the universe in miniature. Ultimately, these essays constitute a kind of a text for those who have ‘consciously’ enrolled in God School! Thus, what you read here both inspires and signals a new and possibly saving agenda for the human species and the Earth we dwell upon."
Jean Houston, PhD, chancellor of Meridian University, chairman of the United Palace of Spiritual Arts, researcher and teacher in human capacities and social artistry, and author

On the Mystery of Being is a testimony to the courageous and open-­minded spirit of inquiry that characterizes the Science and Nonduality community."
—Rupert Spira, teacher of Nonduality and author of several books, including The Nature of Consciousness and Being Aware of Being Aware

“Human civilization will only survive if we are able to create com­munities whose members do not find happiness in excessive material consumption, but in relationships among each other and with the entire community of life. This book of many voices shows beautifully that Maurizio and Zaya have created such a community"
Fritjof Capra, author of The Web of Life, and coauthor of The Systems View of Life


Twelve years ago, a beautiful woman attended a workshop in San Francisco. A man tried all he could to get her attention—unsuccessfully. She showed no interest, but at least she took his business card.

A few days later, the man received a phone call from the woman, who said, “I see you make movies about Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj… I love the book I Am That. It has been in my hands constantly for two years now.”

“Yes,” he told her. “Actually, I am going to India in a few weeks to shoot another film about his Indian translators.”

To his surprise he heard the woman say, “I am a filmmaker, and I’d love to help.”

And that is how Zaya and Maurizio got together and, on one of their first dates, went to India to shoot a film called Rays of the Absolute, about the legacy of Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj. In India, one of Nisargadatta’s translators told them, “Maharaj used to say: One day scientists will come and understand all this. What I am teaching is not spirituality; it is science.”

On our return to the States, we began exploring what Maharaj really meant by this statement, and what modern science has to say about who we are, about the nature of reality and how that connects to what the ancient mystics saw and experienced. We decided to organize an event with the obscure name Science and Nonduality (now referred to as SAND). We didn’t expect much from it, other than to gather together a few crazy dreamers like us. To our surprise, three hundred people showed up in a remote conference room in San Rafael, California. Over the years it become apparent that this quest, this longing to bring science and spirituality together, was a collective dream that we share with many.

Both science and spirituality reflect our human urge to know—that perennial itch to make sense of the world and who we are. This quest is an essential part of being human. We probe reality as best we can with our tools of understanding—structures, models, theories, myths, beliefs, teachings—but these tools of understanding also define the limits of our knowledge.

At SAND, we gather to share this almost sensual longing to know the unknowable, to embody that which is beyond any form, to experience the source in its multitude of manifestations, to perceive the infinite through finite cycles. We navigate that space where something else takes over—call it intuition, deep knowing, trust, surrender—a place from which new discoveries in science and realizations in spirituality become possible.

We collectively draw knowledge and wisdom from many spiritual traditions, we learn from the explorations and discoveries of modern science, and we share our understanding and experience of what we learn and realize on this path of awakening.

Our community gathers from all around the globe to explore, learn, and express what it means to be an awakened human being today. We are here not to transcend the world, but to attune to its sacredness in deeper and subtler ways—not to leave what is here and now for some other reality or dimension, but to realize that spirit and matter are not two separate things, but simply ways of seeing an undivided whole. This is nonduality—the philosophical, spiritual, and scientific understanding of the intrinsic oneness of existence.

The essence of modern spirituality is that we humans are full of paradoxes, yet penetrated by mystery. Transcendence and immanence are two sides of the same coin. Enlightenment is intimacy with any experience that arises in this human being. In a nutshell, we are perfectly divine in our imperfect human form.

SAND is a playground where we come together to explore where science and spirituality meet—in the beauty of the questions, in the wonder, facing the unknowable on the edge of the known.

This book is an emergent collection of essays and insights that reflect on the evolution of this collective journey. We invite you to read each piece with an open heart and mind and to notice the invisible thread that weaves them together, remembering that we can never understand, but only surrender to the mystery we call life.

There is no ultimate truth. No teacher, no scientist will give us all the answers. Let us simply bow to the intelligence of our hearts, drop into not knowing, keep our minds open, cherish the questions, and let the answers arise and evolve, all the while celebrating this mystery called life.

Thank you for being here, for reading this book. Welcome home!


Part One: Voices of Contemporary Spirituality

  • Love and Wonder, Adyashanti
  • Ordinary Awakening, Gangaji
  • Closer to Heaven, Closer to the Mud, Jeff Foster
  • The Magic of Shared Awareness, Sally Kempton
  • The Essence of the Mind, Rupert Spira
  • Faces of the Infinite in Everyday Life, Dorothy Hunt
  • The Wonder of Unknowing, Mauro Bergonzi

Part Two: The Rebirth of Metaphysics

  • Nondual vs. Scientific Views of Reality, A. H. Almaas
  • Of Consciousness and Paradox, Jean Houston
  • Be Blissful, Robert Thurman
  • The Qualitative Science of the Heart, Kabir Helminski
  • The Anomaly of Consciousness, Peter Russell
  • Radiant Intimacy of the Heart, Cynthia Bourgeault

Part Three: Science Embraces Consciousness

  • A Brief History of Consciousness, Stuart Hameroff
  • Reality Is Eye Candy, Donald Hoffman
  • How to Make a Universe, Jude Currivan
  • Mind, Matter, and Life: A Unified Systemic View, Fritjof Capra
  • Mind and the Wave Function Collapse, Henry Stapp
  • Idealism Reloaded: The End of the Perception-Imagination Duality, Bernardo Kastrup

Part Four: The Wonder of Nature

  • Fundamental Awareness: The Universe Twiddling Its Thumbs, Neil D. Theise
  • Rethinking the “Dumb Random Universe” Model of Existence, Robert Lanza
  • The Origin of Life and Consciousness: Lifting and Gifting Our Collective Future, Bruce Damer
  • Resurrecting Real Magic, Dean Radin
  • The Mycology of Consciousness, Paul Stamets
  • The Ecological Initiation, Charles Eisenstein

Part Five: The Body as Teacher

  • What Are Our Bodies? Chris Fields
  • The Essence of Yoga: Exploring Our True Body, Ellen Emmet
  • The Cerebrospinal Fluid and I Am, Mauro Zappaterra
  • Lessons from the Body, Larry Dossey
  • The Body, the Medical System, and Modern Society, Gabor Maté
  • Cancer as an Awakening Journey, Joan Tollifson

Part Six: The Heart of Intimacy

  • Reflections on Intimacy, Zhen Dao
  • Awakened Relating: Being Awake to Our InfiniteNature in Finite Human Relationships, Lynn Marie Lumiere
  • Intimacy and Keeping the Spark Alive, Michaela Boehm
  • The Call of the Earth Goddess: Re-membering a Spirituality of Wholeness, Chameli Ardagh
  • The Ego Cannot Love, Eric Baret

Part Seven: Exploring the Shadows

  • Developmental Trauma and the Transformationof Anger and Rage, Julie Brown Yau
  • Healing Trauma as a Spiritual Path: Individual and Collective Dimensions, Peter A. Levine
  • Mongolian Shamanic Trance, Corine Sombrun
  • Dreaming the Mystery of Being Aware, Stephen LaBerge
  • Fifteenth-Century Alchemy and Twenty-First-Century Liberation, Pamela Wilson
  • Reconnecting to a Child Within, Edward Frenkel

Part Eight: Doorways to Heaven

  • The Science and Mystery of Consciousness, Pim van Lommel
  • Grief, Unmani
  • Three Basic Freedoms, James Fadiman
  • The Blessings of Brokenness, Vera de Chalambert
  • The Portal of a Poem, Mirabai Starr
  • The Human Journey, Shakti Caterina Maggi

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