How to be a Sage in Science: Nurturing Wisdom Through Insights

Inspired by the teachings of Dr. Waitzkin and the wisdom of Vedic philosophy, student Abhishek Karna embarks on a journey to become a Sage in science.

As a student hailing from Nepal, where the ancient wisdom of Vedic philosophy intertwines with my educational pursuits, I found myself immersed in a transformative career talk by Dr. Michael “Buz” Waitzkin. Through his enlightening discourse, I discovered a profound path towards becoming a sage in the realm of science, a journey that transcends conventional boundaries and embraces the essence of wisdom.

Growing up in the ethereal landscapes of Nepal, steeped in the rich tapestry of Vedic teachings, I have always held a deep reverence for knowledge and sought to uncover the interconnectedness between different disciplines. Dr. Waitzkin’s words echoed with resonance as he shared his own upbringing in Florida, a place he described as a “strange place to live,” where he felt a lack of values. Dr. Waitzkin’s journey was not simply an academic pursuit but a quest to study everything, exploring the realms of religion, sociology, and government. In these diverse fields, he discovered a key ingredient to success: the transformative power of harnessing our “psychosocial disabilities” and converting them into assets. This revelation struck a chord deep within me, as I contemplated how embracing our own imperfections and utilizing them as stepping stones can propel us towards greatness in the scientific realm. Throughout his narrative, Dr. Waitzkin imparted invaluable advice on how to navigate the intricate pathways of a scientific career. He emphasized the significance of taking a gap year, allowing oneself time for self-reflection and personal growth—a concept that harmonizes with the teachings of Vedic philosophy, which advocate for introspection and self-realization. His words echoed the wisdom of the sages who taught me that true knowledge is not limited to the boundaries of textbooks but encompasses a deeper understanding of oneself and the world.

“Dr. Waitzkin’s reminder to detach half a step, to introspect and define our ethical boundaries, mirrored the teachings of the ancient sages who encouraged us to embark on a path of self-discovery and align our actions with the greater good.”

As Dr. Waitzkin traversed diverse professional landscapes, he encountered challenges, disappointments, and moments of self-doubt. It was during these trying times that his sage-like qualities shone through. He shared his experiences of understanding his audience, the art of effective science communication, and the need to bridge the gap between personal beliefs and those of his clients. In these reflections, I discovered the essence of being a sage in science—balancing intellect with empathy, merging technical proficiency with the ability to connect with and inspire others.

Dr. Waitzkin’s journey led him to unexpected territories, from the corridors of power in the White House to engaging in bioethics-related court cases. Through these diverse experiences, he unraveled the importance of unconventional skills that may initially seem unrelated to scientific pursuits. This resonated deeply with me, for in the teachings of Vedic philosophy, we are encouraged to embrace a holistic approach, acknowledging that wisdom can be gleaned from unexpected sources. I realized that being a sage in science goes beyond mere academic achievements. It requires cultivating a moral compass, understanding the intricate balance between personal beliefs and the ethics of one’s profession. Dr. Waitzkin’s reminder to detach half a step, to introspect and define our ethical boundaries, mirrored the teachings of the ancient sages who encouraged us to embark on a path of self-discovery and align our actions with the greater good.

In the final moments of his career talk, Dr. Waitzkin left us with a profound thought—an invitation to embrace the ethics of technology in its early stages. It was a call to become pioneers, to think beyond the present, and to shape a future where wisdom, ethics, and scientific advancements coexist harmoniously. This resonated deeply with my own journey, as a student from Nepal where Vedic philosophy continues to guide my path, reminding me of the importance of moral positions ahead of their time.

With gratitude and newfound inspiration, I embrace the notion of becoming a sage in science, intertwining the wisdom of the ancient sages with the ever-evolving realm of scientific knowledge. I embark on this path, ready to chart my course with intellectual curiosity, empathy, and a commitment to ethical principles. Through the teachings of Dr. Waitzkin and the guiding light of Vedic philosophy, I endeavor to nurture wisdom and expand the horizons of scientific exploration as a socially-conscious and an ethically-cautious scientist.

One, two, three… the journey of becoming a sage in science awaits, and I am prepared to embark upon this transformative quest with humility, passion, and the timeless wisdom bestowed from Dr. Waitzkin and sages of the old.

Abhishek Karna, Huang Fellow ’26

Vivian AppleAbhishek Karna a first-year Karsh International Scholar from Bathnaha, Nepal. He intends to double major in Physics and Mathematics and work towards a PPE (Philosophy, Politics, and Economics) certificate.