I have written my answer to this question in my book “Some Science Adventures with Real Magic”, Chapter 1 pages 2 – 7, so here I will be brief.
My wife, Jean, and I began reading about Edgar Cayce, Yogananda, other yogis and mystics in the mid-1950s while I was working as a Materials Physicist with the Westinghouse Research laboratory in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In 1964, when I was invited to join Stanford University as a full Professor with tenure in the Materials Science department, Jean and I became daily meditators. We began to have many experiences with psychics of various caliber and various types of psychic phenomena. I was asked to be Department Chairman in 1965-66 while Jean and I continued our private inner explorations of the seemingly non-orthodox realms of nature in parallel with my very orthodox science research and teaching at Stanford. We took a sabbatical leave from Stanford in 1970 with a Guggenheim Fellowship to Oxford University in order to write one or two books in my orthodox science area, “The Science of Crystallization”. On the flight to England, I read the book “Psychic Discoveries Behind the Iron Curtain” by Ostrander and Schroeder and, although I knew a great deal about this subject by that time, I was impressed with what the Soviets had accomplished.
A key thought kept returning to my mind during this time-period: “how might the universe actually be constructed to allow this seemingly crazy kind of stuff to naturally coexist with the orthodox science research that I was doing every day at Stanford with my Ph.D. students?” I reflected on this question a great deal via my daily meditative process while in England and eventually came to the conclusion that this psychic research area was so important to future humanity that some competent, serious scientists needed to carefully study this area of research. Eventually I realized that one of those scientists needed to be me! However, how was I going to do this with my very busy life as Department Chair with government committees, professional committees, teaching, Ph.D. Students, research proposal writing, scientific papers writing, etc.? Eventually, I decided that I needed to give up (1) my post as Department Chair, (2) my government committees and (3) my professional committees to create a block of time that I could avocationally devote to serious work in this new area. I thus embarked upon a dual path in my search for knowledge and understanding of nature that I conducted in both orthodox and non-orthodox science in parallel with each other for 30 years (until my last Ph.D. student completed her thesis and passed her oral defense in 2000).