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I have been covering the Science and Nonduality Conference for the past two years. What I particularly love about the event is that it is as much a festival as it is a conference.

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It all began with a basic question:

What happens when you take some of the world’s leading scientists and lock them in a room with some of the world’s greatest spiritual luminaries?

That’s what two filmmakers, husband and wife team Zaya and Maurizio Benazzo, puzzled over for years before finally taking action. No, they didn’t kidnap or lock anyone in a room. Instead, they created the Science and Nonduality Conference (SAND), a five day event dedicated to exploring what happens when the worlds of science and spirituality collide.

Six years later, SAND has evolved into something neither could have imagined when they first embarked on this journey. “We started with the idea that we were looking for scientific evidence for spiritual wisdom of all traditions,” Zaya explains. “But it became more and more evident, the impossibility of finding an answer,” admits Maurizio. They realized, “It’s not about finding an answer, or proof,” says Zaya. “It’s about expanding the questions, both for science and spirituality.”

Here is official video examining the core principles behind the event and introducing the SAND 2015 Conference which is taking place from October 21st – 25th:

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Now the couple sees SAND as a platform for meaningful dialogue between philosophers, scientists of all disciplines, spiritual teachers, and artists. “Ultimately, SAND is the place where free thinkers converge to share experiences,” Zaya says. “It’s a tribe of open-minded people who are interested in the big questions about life, consciousness, and who we are.”

While there are all the usual talks and plenary sessions you’d expect at something calling itself a “conference,” the atmosphere at SAND is positively festival-like. This year, there are two “experiential spaces” where attendees can take classes in various kinds of dance, yoga, meditation, voice, and more. There’s art, including what Maurizio describes as “a couple of Burning Man-like installations.” The Consciousness Hackers are bringing their cutting-edge, interactive, mind-altering technologies for attendees to play with. And sprinkled throughout the day and in the evenings, there’s live entertainment with music, dance, and comedy performances.

Much of the dialogue this year will be focused on “the nature of consciousness,” a hot topic in philosophy, science, and spirituality. “The only thing we know beyond a shadow of a doubt,” Maurizio says, “is that we are conscious. But, at the same time, this is probably the most mysterious phenomenon in the universe.” Zaya adds, “Understanding this phenomenon might just be the key to bridging the gap between science and spiritualty, and understanding who we are as a species.”

What I love is that speakers from fields like neuroscience and quantum physics participate to discuss these questions from a scientific perspective but objectively, without “scientism.”

To better grasp the intention behind this revolutionary conference, I encourage you to watch the following video in which Maurizio himself explains non-duality and what the conference intends to accomplish:

The magical location where all this unfolds is the 100 year-old Hayes Mansion, one of the South Bay’s most impressive historical buildings. Surrounded by lush lawns, colorful gardens, towering palm trees, and sweeping mountain vistas, this quiet oasis is the perfect setting for conference participants to mingle, play, contemplate, and explore.

Some of the big names presenting this year include Edward Frenkel, the UC Berkeley math professor, bestselling author, and independent filmmaker who, at the ripe old-age of twenty-one, was plucked from some obscure Russian college to become a visiting math professor at Harvard; and Deepak Chopra, MD, author of numerous bestselling books on health and spirituality, and founder of the Chopra Center for Wellbeing.

Some favorite SAND regulars include Cassandra Vieten, PhD, President and CEO of the Institute of Noetic Sciences and scientist at the Mind-Body Medicine Research Group at California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute; and Stuart Hameroff, MD, Director of the Center for Consciousness Studies at the University of Arizona, and founder of the landmark conference, Towards a Science of Consciousness.

Making his conference debut this year is the irrepressible Robert Thurman, renowned Buddhist scholar from Columbia University, best buds with the Dalai Lama, and the first ever American to be ordained a Tibetan Buddhist monk.

Be A Part Of SAND 2015

Collective Evolution is proud to be a media sponsor for the 2015 Science & Nonduality Conference. As a part of our sponsorship, members of the CE team and writing staff, including myself, will be at the Main Conference. We will be stationed at a table display area and I will also be given the opportunity to do a poster presentation on one of my personal favorite topics: “If DNA is Software, Who Wrote the Code?

On behalf of the CE team I would like to formally invite all of you to attend the conference and be a part of this unique and expansive experience. Tickets to the conference are selling fast, so be sure to reserve your spot as soon as possible via the following link:


For those who can’t attend in person, proceedings from the main conference room will also be streamed live every day for a nominal fee.

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