Posted by: lecubiste | October 13, 2021

The Circle of Irony in My Life (a true story)

In the 3rd grade my parents sent me to the Polytechnic School in Pasadena. It had been a prep school for Caltech. I went there from 3rd grade through tenth grade, leaving when my family moved to the redwoods in Northern California. In the seventh grade, at the age of 12, a new student came to school, Stuart. Stuart’s father was a geologist with a Ph.D. from Caltech. He would later go on to harness the geothermal energy of Northern California and is considered by some to be the father of geothermal energy. Union Oil would make him their VP of new energy sources.

At Polytechnic, in 8th grade, one had to give a speech as part of a contest. Mine was about the Mexican-American War. Stuart’s was about the Santa Barbara oil spill. For which Union Oil was responsible. Stu was tall, athletic, articulate, and handsome. He won the contest, providing a forceful defense of Union Oil.

Both Stuart and I attended UC Berkeley after graduating high school. During that first quarter I had a profound spiritual experience, something called nirvikalpa in India, sort of the ultimate spiritual experience. I needed time away from academia and took the next 18 months off, traveling and working up and down the West Coast.

I finally decided to become a writer. I transferred from UC Berkeley down to UC Santa Barbara and entered the College of Creative Studies. I had written much poetry in the intervening months, a kind of surprise talent, mostly inspired by my spiritual experience.

However, the College of Creative Studies turned out to be unhelpful to me and so I transferred into the Environmental Studies program at UCSB. It was a very peaceful place, it allowed me to pursue many different academic disciplines as was my wish, and it allowed me to still focus on writing. Here I had rediscovered an academic path that truly interested me.

The head of the department was an old classmate of Stu’s father at CalTech. The genesis of the program was the Santa Barbara oil spill of 1969. In fact, the Santa Barbara oil spill was one of the primary causes of the National Environmental Policy Act and led to the creation of the EPA. The very subject of my best friend’s Stu’s 8th grade speech contest, turned on its head.

I had a vision about that time, at the age of 20. I ‘saw’ in the future a train that would be solar-powered and that would save energy. In 1980 I graduated having written a thesis on solar energy in California. For family reasons I moved back to the redwoods and spent the next ten years working on water quality issues.

In 1988 I ran for Congress in the Democratic primary to oppose drilling for oil off the Northern California coast. Two years later I began working for a solar company in Santa Rosa. That year I began working on electric cars.

Within two years we were the largest manufacturer of electric cars in the world. All that happened since, Tesla, the major car makers going electric, were subsequent to our efforts.

Having become VP of Marketing and Engineering, I moved on to commercializing advanced high efficiency electric motors. The company was founded by a South Korean genius, but who had real difficulties running the company.

One day we received a call from a Dr. Dearien from the US Department of Energy, looking for better motors. I soon traveled to Idaho to meet with him and his team. He was leading an effort called CyberTran, short for Cybernetic Transportation.

CyberTran is a concept in which many smaller rail vehicles, about 5 tons each instead of the usual 20-50 tons, operate on-demand and direct-to-destination by virtue of computer control. One of the main advantages is the drop in the cost of construction.  The other is a whole new network of computerized rail vehicles, more convenient, less expensive, smaller, quieter, and using less energy.

Within two years I had helped CyberTran raise funds from the government and build a test track in the San Francisco Bay area, on the island of Alameda. One day I suggested to John that we could run CyberTran on solar energy.  He didn’t think much of the idea. But when a director of the regional rail system, BART, asked the same question, John answered, ‘Neil’s looking into that.’

Within five years unfortunately, Dr. Dearien passed away from cancer. I took over the position of company President and we pressed forward, slowly, but without giving up. The next year we were nominated for the World Clean Energy Awards.

I went to New York City to attend the awards banquet. We didn’t win but I had the chance to meet the judges, one of whom was a German scientist named Ernst Von Weisacker, the author of a book called Factor Four, a book dealing with world energy consumption and included a section extolling the virtues of CyberTran.

Some months later I received an invitation to a conference on the environment, to be held in Santa Barbara and featuring Ernst Von Weisacker. The environment, Santa Barbara, and Von Weisacker was too stunning of a combination for me to pass up.

Now I must digress seemingly, to the subject of my spiritual experience, my nirvikalpa. The effects were extraordinary on me. My mental perception seemed to have expanded.  Poetry was coming to me spontaneously.

While in a metaphysical book store a month after it happened, a found a book called Kundalini Yoga by Gopi Krishna. This described his nirvikalpa and it was essentially the identical experience I had. I read voraciously as he explained the ancient Hindu theories of kundalini, its activation, it as a source of genius and prophecy, and on.

In it he mentioned a German scientist he described as the “scientist of the future”, one Dr. Carl von Weisacker. Apparently, this was someone he had become acquainted with in Zurich. Krishna believed that kundalini was the source of genius and inspiration that would save us all from catastrophe. Krishna also began to write poetry spontaneously, as I had done.

So there I am in New York City at the World Clean Energy Awards, coming to the realization that my vision of many years ago, the solar train, was CyberTran. Of course I went to the conference in Santa Barbara where I had a chance to speak with Ernst von Weisacker. I had to ask him, “Are you by any chance related to the Carl von Weisacker that Gopi Krishna wrote about?”  I asked him in a quiet moment.

“He was my father.”  The circle of irony was now complete. Energy, my best friend growing up, the head of my department in college, the Santa Barbara oil spill, my spiritual experience and vision – it was all connected!!! Connected by Ernst von Weisacker and Gopi Krishna, and ultimately by me, for I was the interconnection to all these pieces. They all intersected with my life. CyberTran and kundalini, and the environment, and energy.

Neil B Sinclair



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