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By Deepak Chopra, M.D., Menas C. Kafatos, Ph.D., P. Murali Doraiswamy, MBBS, Rudolph E. Tanzi, Ph.D., Neil Theise, MD
Imagine someone who says, “Every morning I look out the window and the sun has come up. So I must be responsible for creating the Sun.” Of course, the statement makes no logical sense. We know that looking at the sunrise doesn’t create it. However, at the quantum level the link between observer and observed becomes much more ambiguous as fundamental uncertainty guides quantum events. The classic example has to do with photons, which have a dual personality, acting like either particles or waves. Light only assumes its form as wave or particle when an observer makes a conscious decision to set up a measuring process and actually measures it. In the act of observation, a physicist might say something very like the man looking at a sunrise: “Without me to observe it, it doesn’t exist.”
This situation already represents a much softer definition of cause and effect from Newton’s billiard balls knocking each other about. There is no settled explanation for the observer effect – some physicists deny its existence or question the classic explanation – and it would be immensely helpful to clear up its ambiguity. A consciousness-based universe clears it up immediately by saying that observer and observed co-arise. They only seem to be separate if the human mind decides on such a separation. Feeling that you are in love co-arises with the brain activity that corresponds to love. You can’t have one without the other. But if you insist that brain chemistry causes love, you wind up with the same troubling ambiguity that physics faces over photons. Common sense tells us that if someone you’re attracted to says, “I love you,” there’s no doubt that the words caused love to arise as a feeling, taking the brain along. Since our bodies respond to feelings, and of course the inverse, then the brain responds to love.
The quantum version of the universe’s origins story has made room already for a pre-created state that is “nothing.” This supposition runs into the objection that this “nothing” cannot be verified – after all, it’s nothing. What if the pre-created state can’t even be thought about? Then science as a system of thought will be forced to accept its built-in limitations. But consciousness isn’t stumped. There can be a pre-created state that has the potential to turn into the universe, containing the necessary seeds of creation (i.e., intelligence, creativity, evolution, and self-organization). This accords very well with our own minds, for everyone has a vocabulary stored out of sight. When you want a word, the potential for saying or thinking of that word exists invisibly. Is that potential the source of everything you verbally think or say? Yes. So why not give the universe the same reservoir of possibilities? There’s no scientific reason not to. Indeed, if the pre-universe contains mathematics, it would solve the riddle of where math came from, which has baffled the greatest minds for centuries. (The acclaimed British physicist Roger Penrose has even gone back to ancient philosophy and labeled the qualities of the pre-universe “Platonic values”, which he claims exist at the Planck level where space-time comes to an end).
Science has been the greatest boon of modern civilization, but at the end of the day, experience is more important. A complete description of how the brain produces the sensation of being in love would be pointless if a supernatural dictator gazed down upon us and eradicated our ability to experience the sensations of love. Without the experience, measurement makes no sense. Now come the “Aha!” moment.
If consciousness pervades the universe, and if consciousness can be aware of itself,
then by looking at itself, consciousness can know the most fundamental aspects of the universe.
Such was the position taken by the Indian rishis who developed the most sophisticated model of consciousness that we possess. In their view though it was not just to see or observe, the most important aspect of consciousness was to experience. The brain can’t pause to measure its own thoughts, just as boiling water can’t count its own bubbles. But awareness isn’t in motion. It’s the still point around which the universe turns. The dead end that science has reached by excluding consciousness turns into a limitless opportunity for knowledge once consciousness is allowed back in. In the next post we’ll explore what this means for everyday existence. The possibility of achieving greater freedom is hidden within consciousness, and also the return of God in a guise we can place our faith in once more.
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Deepak Chopra, MD is the author of more than 70 books with twenty-one New York Times bestsellers, including co-author with Sanjiv Chopra, MD of Brotherhood: Dharma, Destiny, and The American Dream, and co-author with Rudolph Tanzi of Super Brain: Unleashing the Explosive Power of Your Mind to Maximize Health, Happiness, and Spiritual Well-being (Harmony). Chopra serves as Founder of The Chopra Foundation and host of Sages and Scientists Symposium – August 16-18, 2013 at La Costa Resort and Spa.
Menas Kafatos, Ph.D., Fletcher Jones Endowed Professor in Computational Physics, Director of the Center of Excellence at Chapman University, co-author with Deepak Chopra of the forthcoming book, Who Made God and Other Cosmic Riddles. (Harmony)
P. Murali Doraiswamy, MBBS, FRCP, Professor of Psychiatry, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina and a leading physician scientist in the area of mental health, cognitive neuroscience and mind-body medicine.
Rudolph E. Tanzi, Ph.D., Joseph P. and Rose F. Kennedy Professor of Neurology at Harvard University, and Director of the Genetics and Aging Research Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), co-author with Deepak Chopra of Super Brain: Unleashing the Explosive Power of Your Mind to Maximize Health, Happiness, and Spiritual Well-being. (Harmony)
Neil Theise, MD, Professor, Pathology and Medicine, (Division of Digestive Diseases) and Director of the Liver and Stem Cell Research Laboratory, Beth Israel Medical Center — Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York. www.neiltheise.com