The Mayans, Eastern Indians, and other ancient cultures knew things (celestial mechanics, perspectives on quantum physics, architecture, etc.) that to us seem unimaginable for those times. How could they have possibly known those things? Where did their knowledge come from? Could there be an ancient approach to gaining knowledge that has been forgotten to time?
Our modern approach to gaining knowledge starts with observing the surface of life. Years ago, Newton threw objects off a high tower, measured how long it would take them to hit the ground, and recorded his observations. Galileo constructed a telescope to observe the planets, again recording his observations. That process of observation has been our approach to gaining knowledge to this day. We have simply taken that approach further and further, looking deeper and deeper at the mechanics of nature. That approach is called the "scientific method."
For any notion to gain respect and credibility in the scientific community, it must be supported by repeatable and measurable scientific observations. Otherwise, it is not taken seriously. However even today, there is an entirely different approach that some scientists use to create their theories. The approach is not based on outer observation, but on inward reflection. For example, Einstein came up with the notion of the unified field, not so much based upon outer observation as inner reflection. His theories were derived in that manner. Only later were such theories tested through the acquisition of observable facts and experimentation.
The techniques of theorizing, looking inward to come up with the mechanics of creation, are not taught in our schools and universities. What is taught are the laws that have been discovered and the theories that have some observable verification. But the actual technique of going inward to derive theories is not taught. The techniques to develop and cultivate abilities in theoretical physics are not known.
The ancient approach to gaining knowledge was not one of observation, but was one of refining the ability to look inward. The ancients knew that what dwells on the outside, dwells within. In ancient times, Seers (called Rishis) in the Himalayas accessed inner knowledge through what is called Vedic cognition. Their recitations were memorized and passed down thousands of years by oral tradition. Those recitations include knowledge of many fields: mathematics, science, psychology, etc.
Current theories of modern physics have begun to make sense of this process from a modern perspective. Physicists now believe that what dwells deep within every thing and every one is the unified field. The unified field is that one thing that is the source of everything and contains all knowledge of everything in existence. The ancients, through their meditative techniques, refined the ability to perceive on that deepest level of existence. For them, acquisition of knowledge by looking outward was far too limited, far too crude. They accessed knowledge at the source of all knowledge.
To the Western mind, this may seem a fanciful dream, completely unbelievable and unimaginable. However, it is what the ancient Sages proclaim to be their approach. The knowledge they acquired through that approach is now, thousands of years later, verified through our theories of modern physics and our technologies which include, for example, the Hubble telescope.
There is a movement in the world today to re-enliven that ancient knowledge, to practice the techniques, and develop the technologies offered by that ancient wisdom. It promises a whole new relationship with life in harmony with Mother Nature.