In memorium: Herbert Bishop Keller | Alan Heirich
• My spiritual “coming out” story: I worked with a famous mathematician in graduate school Herbert Bishop Keller. I had remarkable experiences with him that I want to document.
  • When I first started working with Herb on bifurcation analysis of partial differential equations we had a remarkable experience. At one point when we were talking I perceived the space between us to be filled with a golden light. Herb got excited and after our meeting he walked over to the computer science department and told them that I was a special student. I don’t know what he perceived but he perceived something extraordinary.
  • Fast forward four years, I have been attending his research group meetings every week. One day he decides to lecture on solving Magnetohydrodynamics equations. At one point in the lecture he says something about matrix preconditioners that blew my mind. I can’t recall exactly what he said but it opened new dimensions of understanding. Suddenly I am looking down at the room from the perspective of the ceiling. It is an out-of-body experience. I see Herb, the other students, and myself in my chair. Over my head is a slowly rotating image of the Sahasra Chakra known as the thousand-petaled-lotus. This is a classic yogic experience. After a few moments of this I am back in my body and feel a strong energetic connection to Herb at the front of the room. Herb stops speaking and stares at me. I try to hold as still as possible to not give anything away.
  • I am sorry that I never discussed these experiences with Herb. Eventually I came to learn that Herb has spent time visiting the Himalayas in India which means only one thing: visiting gurus. So Herb was mystical although he did not talk openly about that. Yoga says that there are several paths to enlightenment, and one is the path of knowledge. I think Herb’s mathematical work led him toward enlightenment and that he was in a high spiritual state. This is somewhat paradoxical because he was not always nice to people and was not a fount of love and acceptance.
  • I never told anyone about this but now I am an old man and I don’t care what people think about me. I am more interested in spiritual truth than conformity. I swear that every word is true.