Tag Archives: Subjectivity

Can the Truth Come Back With a Capital “T”? (Part 8)

Butterfly flying free from cupped handsClick here to read part 7!

By Deepak Chopra, M.D., Menas C. Kafatos, Ph.D., P. Murali Doraiswamy, MBBS, Rudolph E. Tanzi, Ph.D., Neil Theise, MD

To salvage cause and effect, the “brain first” camp usually resorts to the notion that indeterminacy occurs at the quantum level but not in the world of everyday events. This sort of sequestration has no basis in truth. Whatever the brain is doing, its roots are in the quantum realm. In fact, the brain’s ability to express new ideas, new works of art, and imaginative thinking in general is proof positive that indeterminacy is fundamental to life, not a quirk of quark behavior. If Hamlet were lost for a hundred years and suddenly rediscovered, a crowd would gather to see the legendary play. Imagine that the actor playing Hamlet arrives at the line, “To be or not to be, that is the question.” Does anyone suppose that a neuroscientist, even with total knowledge of every firing of every neuron, could finish the soliloquy? No matter how closely you examine the brain – including Shakespeare’s brain – the rest of “to be or not to be’ is undetermined until creative inspiration finishes it.

A solution to this either/or dilemma is to say that neither brain nor mind, “came first.” Michael Pollan, in “The Botany of Desire”, describes how apples, tulips, marijuana and potatoes did not appear as the seductively pleasing plants we see before us to day – nor were we humans, a priori, the perfect propagators of these species – we shaped each other, intimately, simultaneously, mutually. These plants seduced us (with their sweetness, beauty, intoxication and nourishment) into nurturing, feeding and propagating them. Likewise how humans came to depend upon and their dogs, as dogs (previously wolves!) came to depend upon and love their humans. These are examples of co-arising or co-evolution.

Likewise, Hamlet is a perfect example of brain and mind co-arising. The words and the brain activity that brings the words into the physical world can’t be separated. But neither can any word you think now or have ever thought. One can argue that the brain and mind comprise a self-organizing system within consciousness. As brain activity modifies mind, the activity of the mind physically reshapes the neural networks of the brain. A universal consciousness, beyond our own, individual minds and brains, is the only thing that can unite our concepts of mind and brain. Consciousness is at the universal level existing everywhere, and it gives rise to countless beings, some of them with higher thinking abilities and rational experiences, giving rise to “minds”. But it also gives rise to countless physical bodies and corresponding brains, primitive or more advanced as the case may be. Once this truth is accepted, our worldview must change forever.

Here are some statements that directly follow from taking consciousness to be the absolute ground of existence.

  • Your body and the world you inhabit are projections of your perception. They are not “out there” but exist within consciousness.
  • Your true self is the potential for creating a body, brain, and the world around it.
  • Naming and describing something – a plant, animal, person, or even an inanimate object – camouflages the great mystery and majesty of existence. Reality cannot be named, described, or measured; these are only ever approximations. Reality lies beyond words or mathematical descriptions.
  • Your true self is not the fictional character you play on the stage of time and space. Your true self is the timeless awareness from which fictional characters spring, as Hamlet and King Lear sprang from Shakespeare’s awareness.
  • The fictional character you are playing does not belong to you. It is the recycling of unreliable wisps of memory and flimsy threads of desire.
  • Truth cannot be known or experienced by a system of thought, be it scientific or philosophical. Specific thoughts tied to experience of space and time are tied to the mechanics of the brain, which are enmeshed in space and time, not beyond them. But thought can also contemplate the end of space and time, the beginning of space and time. This is the paradox of reality, demonstrated by quantum mechanics already 100 years ago. Consciousness pervades the cosmos but cannot be contained there, because it is the source, the womb from which all things arise.

Such statements are logical conclusions based on taking consciousness seriously. If they seem preposterous to many orthodox scientists, this reflects the limitation of present-day science, not the ridiculousness of the statements. Science exists for the purpose of making sense of the universe, to understand the components that comprise the universe through quantitative means, and to produce self-consistent theories that can be tested and, potentially, disproven. Here we are making qualitative statements, which means one of two things: either science must concede that it is helpless to measure meaning or meaning must give rise to a new, expanded science. In both cases, crude materialism plays no role.

We believe that a science of consciousness is possible, as called for in an astute and intelligent TED talk by the eminent philosopher John Searle (it can be viewed on YouTube). Searle makes all the salient points:

  1. A science of consciousness has been long ignored but is not crucial.
  2. Consciousness is irreducible; it cannot be described as the outcome of physical processes.
  3. The world “out there” is the product of our perception.
  4. Consciousness is a field, akin to but not the same as the quantum field. It pervades everything.
  5. Subjective events can be objectively studied (as the sensation of pain, which is subjective, can be linked to inflammation and the activity of nerves).
  6. In fifteen minutes, you can see for yourself how thoroughly the superstition of materialism can be demolished.

What remains is to demolish subtle materialism, which claims, among other things, that a finer and finer exploration of the human nervous system will one day reveal where consciousness comes from. Searle himself is a subtle materialist, since he says that consciousness is a “low-level neuro-biological activity.” But that’s like saying that music can be understood if you get to the molecular level of a piano or clarinet or that radio. In reality, you can’t get there from here.

This leads to our final point. There are only two paths to follow if you want to understand reality. One is relative, the other absolute. The relative path – currently taken by Searle and almost every neuroscientist – is to study brain phenomena until you arrive at such a fine level that you observe the birth of awareness. This is like salmon following a river until it leads to the sea. The absolute path begins with the ocean of consciousness as all-embracing. Relative things (all the salmon and all the rivers they swim in) arise from this source; they display its characteristics. The advantage of the absolute path is that the hardest things to explain – mind, love, truth, intelligence, creativity, evolution – are a given. We can take for granted that the universe is the play of consciousness as it unfolds in space and time. What we are left to explore is the depth and richness of these qualities (indeed, whether they admit it or not, even crude materialists are exploring their own creativity and intelligence).

Even though reality is inconceivable, born somewhere beyond space and time, the beauty and paradox of existence is that we are participating in the mystery. As we participate, we co-evolve unceasingly. We can’t predict where human evolution will go, but we are confident that it will happen in Consciousness. The process of awakening is inherit is self-awareness; therefore, it cannot be stopped. The universe, as viewed from consciousness, is not a place in which we live, it is not an empty box or a cold void shot through with random events. We don’t live in the universe, we are the universe, arising from its fundamental nature with every other element, co-arising together. Then true self-knowledge will flourish, not instead of current science, but containing it and further transcending its limits, because no description of reality is ever the actual reality, just as the map is never the landscape. With such understanding we will take for granted the following, because we will directly experience them, not merely think them:

Peace is not a state of mind. Peace is our very being.
Joy, equanimity, and freedom are not things you work towards; they are qualities you already possess right now, in this present moment.
The point of arrival is now. The end of struggling is now. Being is now.
The only truth is existence itself, in the ever unfurling, co-evolving now. This is Truth with a capital T.

* * *

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 ofSuper 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

Can the Truth Come Back With a Capital “T”? (Part 7)

Mahatma GandhiClick here to read part 6!

By Deepak Chopra, M.D., Menas C. Kafatos, Ph.D., P. Murali Doraiswamy, MBBS, Rudolph E. Tanzi, Ph.D., Neil Theise, MD

Telling someone that Truth exists with a capital T may seem like a quixotic crusade. We have raised a new absolute – universal consciousness (or pure awareness) – to the level once occupied by God, an all-pervasive, all-powerful agent who is secretly in charge of everything. But reality has led us to this conclusion and, by any definition, science is an activity that must follow wherever reality leads it.

The oldest and most sacrosanct assumption of science – that reality exists “out there,” independent of consciousness – has reached the end of its usefulness. The time for a paradigm shift is long overdue. Quantum physics sniffed around the importance of the observer a century ago, and now the tide has come in. Without an observer, so-called physical reality cannot be perceived in any way, either through validation and measurement by experiments or through theoretical, mathematical calculations. Moreover, a reality existing “out there”, devoid of consciousness, is, ultimately, not possible.

Our final task is to show why any of this matters in the real world of everyday experiences. After all, if we are right in saying that consciousness is the absolute upon which everything is based, reality must agree. There is no court of higher opinion than reality itself. Mainstream science has proved wildly successful despite its setting a low priority for pursuing the nature of consciousness as a major force. What kind of success can we point to for this newer paradigm? Subjectivity is anathema to the scientific method. What perversity impels us to suddenly elevate it? We’d like to sketch in plausible answers to both questions.

To begin, the bugaboo of subjectivity has always been a fairy tale. All experience is subjective, including the experience of doing science. The human mind is capable of separating subjectivity into various compartments, one of which is rational thought. You don’t buy a new car because you like how shiny the metal gleams in the sun or how smooth it feels under your touch. You can separate those sensations from rational considerations about price, reliability, style, safety, etc.

Science takes one aspect of reality – that it can be measured in bits of data – and runs with it. But it never runs so far that subjectivity is left behind. In fact, theories, to which all measurements of data must eventually lead and from which they originate, are, in the words of Einstein, “free inventions of the mind”. And beyond theories, all experience happens in consciousness, which means that if you want to get at the source of love, truth, beauty, hope, aspirations, art, insight, intuition, and scientific hypothesizing itself, the proper field to explore is consciousness itself. Consciousness gives you the answers to questions about meaning and purpose, such as “Who am I?” and “Why am I here?” Asking science to answer these questions is pointless.

Despite the proliferating number of brain imaging studies with press releases depicting colorful hotspots, neuroscience is not much closer to discovering why we love one another or where God resides in the brain. While fMRI and EEG studies are helpful to diagnose brain death and map the activation of high level circuits associated with self-awareness or decision making, our current imaging tools still do not, in fact, answer fundamental cause and effect questions about mind or consciousness. When science gets away with confusing data with meaning, philosophers squawk, but philosophy is in the same position as the hapless Bart Simpson confronting the cynical Krusty the Clown:

Krusty: What have you done for me lately?
Bart: I got you that danish.
Krusty: And I’ll never forget it.

Philosophy can plead for science to acknowledge what great thinkers and wisdom traditions have accomplished, but Science (capital S, the institutional reifications of scientific activities) is currently all-powerful and can choose to ignore it as irrelevant. As a result of this often willful amnesia, we have been saddled with the crude assumptions of materialism. It’s as if someone went to Detroit and said, “You build such fantastic cars. Tell me where I should take my next vacation.” The ability to arrive at incredibly sophisticated technology doesn’t remotely give science the right to speak about meaning and purpose.

In fact most scientists shy away from doing that. They correctly point out that present day science is neutral on such human constructs and values. But the new science of Consciousness will be able to at least put in the right tools, the experiences would be an integral part of what is being observed. Although “metaphysics” remains a term of dismissal among scientists, the hardest problem in metaphysics, the relation between mind and brain, has become a hot topic in recent years, largely because of advances in neuroscience. Here is the one place where consciousness can clearly make a difference to science, since understanding the brain in all its complexity will tell us a great deal about the mind if only the conversation goes both ways and science is willing to see the brain in terms of the mind.

The urgency of solving the mind-brain problem (or the mind-body problem, as it was stated in philosophy for many centuries) is greater than ever. Two partial answers exist, each with its own partisans. One camp holds that brain is the creator of mind. To have any thought or sensation, there must be a corresponding brain process that “lights up” with fMRI. These processes are fascinating in their complexity, but this is a mechanistic metaphor and does not actually answer the question of whether the mind creates brain.

In our prior metaphor of music and the radio, showing the structural and functional behaviors of the radio’s individual antennas, circuitry, and speakers, does not reveal how it “made the music” because it didn’t make the music – such analysis only reveals how the radio detected radio waves and transformed them into something a human ear could comprehend as music. Beethoven, the Beatles, and Beyoncé still made the music. Will an fMRI ever reveal how Shakespeare wrote, how Leonardo invented, or how Michelangelo painted? We think not. So the other partial answer is that the brain transduces forms of communication between humans – like plays, music, technology, and art – from their creative source in an all pervasive, pre-existing consciousness.

The events in consciousness include all experiences, including the experience of having a brain. When the word “hippopotamus” pops into your head, that’s an experience. When you isolate the exact set of neurons that triggered the word, that too is an experience. One didn’t cause the other; they arose together. Does this defy the Newtonian world view in which every effect must have a cause? Yes, but that demolition job was done a hundred years ago when the pioneers of quantum physics dealt with the behavior of subatomic particles, which obey “quantum indeterminacy,” a probabilistic way of looking at reality, wherein two events are linked by probability not by certainty. Yet this probabilistic view of reality is incredibly accurate. Quantum mechanics predicts parameters to one part over one followed by 16 zeroes! This quantum reality of indeterminacy has to be taken seriously, if we are to be self-consistent in our own science.

Stay tuned for part 8!

* * *

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 ofSuper 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

Can the Truth Come Back With a Capital “T”? (Part 4)

klanggabe

Click here for Part 3!

By Deepak Chopra, M.D., Menas C. Kafatos, Ph.D., P. Murali Doraiswamy, MBBS, Rudolph E. Tanzi, Ph.D., Neil Theise, MD

Working physicists, including some of the most eminent, believe that they are merely completing a very complex jigsaw puzzle, although most acknowledge that our theories are also incomplete and need more creativity. But that won’t really suffice: the universe will be radically incomplete if that big unexplained chunk – the mind – is left out, along with the vast array of inner experiences – love, joy, hope, sorrow – that comes with the mind. The subjective world is where our lives are actually lived. To exclude it in favor of only objective data gather through the senses, is like collecting every message ever sent over the telegraph without knowing Morse code. You will have a complete set of dots and dashes, but the meaning of the messages hasn’t even been touched. Likewise, our scientific theories are radically incomplete.

Especially among the younger generation of scientists, the questions left to answer aren’t just a mopping-up operation. Far from it. This next generation is more willing to confront the kind of incompleteness that potentially can alter the course of science itself. They are likely to not just continue doing the same things over and over again, just to remain in the comfort zone of “acceptable” science. This can happen once we begin viewing consciousness as a fundamental aspect of existence, not a byproduct.

Consciousness seems to be the simplest starting point for a science that could be complete. If consciousness is inseparable from existence, then so are the qualities of consciousness. The universe exhibited creativity, intelligence, evolution, and sentience, not because God breathed these qualities into Adam or because prehistoric hominids evolved in time from some far distant past to acquire them. In a very real sense, the universe has always been “thinking.” Mind didn’t begin with the arrival of the human brain or the brains of the most ancient species that roamed the earth. (The reason to favor the simplest explanation is that otherwise, if one ponders the question of origins of the mind, one gets into convoluted logical dead ends. We smile at the Medieval controversy over how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, because it so obviously defies logic and in fact it seems comic. Future generations will surely smile at our insistence that neurochemicals in the brain create thought.)

Humans have exhausted the old paradigm of science, in which data-collecting and mathematical formulas according to some fixed “laws of Nature” were privileged while everyday experience was too messy to contend with. The new paradigm can’t simply patch up the holes in the old one. It begins instead with a single game-changing premise: the most fundamental fact of existence is our awareness that we exist. Several of the greatest quantum pioneers, including Max Planck, Niels Bohr, Werner Heisenberg, Wolfgang Pauli, and Erwin Schrodinger, were astute enough to foretell the key role of consciousness. To them, it was never irrelevant. It was something science cannot detour around, to paraphrase Planck.

In some sense it’s a paradox that we award Nobel Prizes for eminent discoveries about the early phases of time, space, subatomic particles, weak interactions and “standard particle models” and so on, only to face the possibility that these are all mental constructs, for that is the implication of a fully developed consciousness theory. In place of the quantum field from which matter and energy arise, our spiritual traditions – through deep, persistent training of the mind to perceive the world in far greater detail and depth than is our habit – reveal a field of consciousness from which everything arises. The speck on the horizon is about to fill the whole sky.

The assumption by neuroscience that the brain creates the mind is seductive but has far less basis in actual proof. Yes, damage to specific brain circuits can cause people to not recognize faces or even go into a coma, but nevertheless no fMRI or PET scan or lesion study has answered the question of where in the brain does the mind reside. One informative example is a beautiful study from the University of Iowa of a patient named “R” who suffered damage to three brain regions – insular cortex, medial prefrontal and anterior cingulate – due to a viral encephalitis. These regions are critical for human self-awareness in modern neuroscience theory and patients with damage to these areas should essentially become zombies. Yet, despite memory deficits from the lesions, R remained self-aware. Likewise, the notion that the mind exists separate from the brain has no actual hard proof in the laboratory, though, for example, increasingly detailed documentation of near death experiences by clinicians such as Pim van Lommel, a cardiologist in the Netherlands, and Peter Fenwick, a neuropsychologist in the United Kingdom, strongly raise this possibility.

Yet, neuroscience has not revealed the “location” of the mind anywhere in the brain, or for that matter anywhere in the physical body of humans. Mind is simply assumed to be there, for no better reason than that the brain controls the central nervous system. This is like saying that music is located in a radio. There’s no doubt that radios transmit music. If you lived on a planet devoid of music and a radio fell from the sky blasting the 1812 Overture, you could claim that the radio is solely responsible for music. But that’s the very same kind of radical incompleteness that current day neuroscience suffers from. Having no other source for mind, they stick it into a physical object.

Everything we call real is created in our perception. There is no evidence that the world “out there” exists independently of what we perceive. (Even an arch physicalist like Hawking admits that science tells us nothing about reality itself.) The physical brain would have to exist outside space and time to “see” its own origins. Only consciousness qualifies as Point Zero, the origin of all experience. It doesn’t need time and space. It doesn’t need the laws that govern matter and energy. Consciousness, as opposed to pure awareness, only needs an object, that object can only be itself. In a word, to find out the truth about the universe and the life that flourishes on our plant, only an absolute – truth with a capital T – answers everything we want answered.

* * *

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

Deepak Chopra: What Is Ultimate Reality?

It is an interesting paradox that science finds itself in. Science says that there is an observer-independent reality and you do not need a conscious observer to manifest reality. At the same time without an observer this reality is not testable, so it cannot exist. In this episode of “Ask Deepak” on The Chopra Well, Deepak discusses scientific contradiction of ultimate reality.

In science, anything that is not testable is considered invalid. Science depends on empirical facts based on observations. If we propose an observer-independent reality, we must realize that an observer-independent reality is not testable. So according to the current principles of science, we cannot say it exists. A scientific conclusion would be that an observer-independent reality does not exist. But is this really the case?

Subscribe to The Chopra Well and let’s keep this discussion going!

Deepak Chopra: From Quanta to Qualia — The Mystery of Reality

Written By Deepak Chopra, MD, FACP, Menas Kafatos, Ph.D., Fletcher Jones Endowed Professor in Computational Physics, Chapman University, and 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).

Wherever reality leads, science follows. The two are inseparably linked, as they must be when science is our way of knowing reality. Reality shifts in ways that are unpredictable and strange. Time and space took very strange turns a century ago, for example, while cause-and-effect turned into a game of probabilities, and the solid physical universe dissolved into invisible energy clouds. Quantum theory had arrived, keeping pace with where reality led it. What Einstein called the “spookiness” of activity at the quantum level has only become more spooky ever since.

Now it appears that reality is about to lead us into new, unexpected paths once more. A hint of the future was provided decades ago by one of the most brilliant quantum pioneers, Wolfgang Pauli when he said, “It is my personal opinion that in the science of the future reality will neither be ‘psychic’ nor ‘physical’ but somehow both and somehow neither.” By using a word that science shuns – psychic – Pauli was pointing to a kind of ultimate mystery. The vast physical mechanism we call the universe behaves more like a mind than like a machine. To thousands of working physicists, the riddle of mind and matter doesn’t apply to their research. But the founder of quantum physics, Max Planck, had no doubt that mind would eventually become the elephant in the room, an issue too massive and obvious to ignore. Planck is worth quoting in full:
I regard consciousness as fundamental. I regard matter as derivative from consciousness. We cannot get behind consciousness. Everything that we talk about, everything that we regard as existing, postulates consciousness.

The reason that mixing mind with matter disturbs many scientists isn’t a secret. Mind rules the subjective world, while matter is the basis of the physical world, and science is dedicated to gathering objective data from it. Subjectivity is fickle, individual, shifting, and prey to all kinds of bias, if not outright delusion. Consciousness therefore has been systematically excluded from scientific consideration – it’s simply a given that all of us are conscious, and a given doesn’t need to be factored into the equation.

But Planck and Pauli were not alone in suspecting that consciousness was more than a given. Mind holds some kind of key to the nature of reality. Neither Planck nor Pauli followed up on the mystery they had uncovered. There was no need to, not for a long time. Quantum physics blossomed into the most accurate and mathematically sophisticated model in the history of science. It achieved such precise results that its predictive powers were nothing less than stunning. As the eminent British physicist Sir Roger Penrose notes, Newton’s gravitational theory as applied to the movement of the solar system, is precise to one part in 10 million. Einstein’s theory of relativity improved upon Newton by another factor of 10 million.

Spooky as the domain of quarks and bosons may be, even to trained physicists, it obeys mathematical rules and can be predicted using those same rules. Reality, it cannot be denied, has led science along a very productive path. Leaving consciousness out of the equation was like leaving metaphysics out of cookbooks. You don’t need metaphysics to measure cake flour and butter. But its commitment to follow reality wherever it leads can make science very uncomfortable, especially when it’s time to overturn some cherished assumptions. That time inevitably arises, however, for one simple reason: Reality is always more complicated than the models we use to explain it.

In this series of posts, we want to follow up on Planck and Pauli’s intuition that consciousness will turn out to be the thing you cannot get behind. We think their intuition was right. The future of science depends on factoring in the mind. We don’t say this because we happen to be fans of the mind or have a personal stake in boosting it. Science has come to a turning point by following its own findings. We hope to show this in some detail, and our aim, although not stated in mathematical language, is to be scientific in the best sense: We want to expand the accepted picture of Nature and to discover where in the cosmos human beings belong.

Part 1: Quantum Reality

The hints about consciousness are hidden in our existing model of reality. Today’s science as it is practiced assumes an external reality “out there,” existing independently of any observers (and not limited just to human observers). Therefore, the universe is independent of the human mind, even as our minds conceive the theoretical constructs of science. This sounds like common sense. People may be baffled by the riddle, “Does a tree falling in the woods make a sound if no one is around to hear it?” but they have no problem with “Did the Big Bang occur if no one was around to see it?” Yes, of course.

Although at first this seems obvious and reasonable, a fixed, solid, reliable universe is inconsistent with quantum mechanics, whose incredible precision deals with the finest level of Nature, the subatomic domain. In everyday life, we seem to experience a world “out there,” while our own feelings, thoughts, sensations, etc., seem to be “in here.” That’s what we believe and what classical Newtonian physics taught. Quantum physics presents us with a radically different viewpoint: The subatomic quanta whose properties we study in the laboratory are inexorably tied to the act of measurement. The observer is involved in what he observes. Quantum properties exist in potential form (invisible, unlocatable in time and space) until a measurement is actually carried out.

Before that moment, no specific values can be assigned. Once a measurement takes place, hidden potentialities reduce to specific values. This is called the “collapse of the wave function”. Quantum theory calculates with great accuracy probabilities of occurrence, but it cannot say for certain what will happen when a measurement takes place; only how probable it is to get a particular value. Nor can it say – and this is the crucial point – how the act of observation actually effects what is going on “out there.” Common sense tells us that looking at a sunset doesn’t change the sunset. But common sense is confounded in quantum reality. In some mysterious way, looking isn’t a passive act.

Most physicists, including the ones who put the theory together almost a century ago, accept the probabilistic nature of events (not everyone, however – Einstein never stomached the quantum world, even though he did much to launch the quantum revolution). But at the same time, most scientists go about their profession as if the classical world were indeed an accepted reality. They drive to work in cars, not in clouds of probability waves. They do science at a level far grosser than the quantum domain, on the assumption that quantum behavior is confined to the microscopic world. But the usefulness of a reliable, fixed physical world is at bottom invalid.

Everything we see, touch, taste, and smell is founded on a more fundamental level, and when you get down to the building blocks of Nature, you find a shadowy dance of quanta that don’t have any “hard” material presence. Hardness is a quality that dissolves as we go into smaller dimensions. So do all the familiar qualities delivered by the five senses. Imagine that two powerful magnets approach each other with their positive poles facing each other. Similar poles repel, so at a certain point, two powerful magnets would stop dead because repulsion forces them to go no further. If magnets could speak, they’d say that they ran into an invisible hard wall. But when viewed at a finer level, hardness dissolves into the activity of an invisible force field.

If you go even deeper, across the boundary of time and space to reach the precreated source of the universe, the physical world disappears even more radically. Quantum properties vanish. Armed with the developing theory of superstrings, it now appears that entire universes can (perhaps) “pop out” of the nothingness of the quantum vacuum state. In this way the smallest and largest levels of Nature get unified through the rich fullness of the quantum vacuum. The world of quanta is a world of “haps” (infinitesimal happenings). This view of constant change was also held by the ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus. But what seems to prevail as we move around our everyday existence is the view of another Greek philosopher, Democritus, who taught that the atoms (in Greek meaning “indivisible”) were tiny and hard and could not be divided any further. Subatomic theory makes this view invalid, even though we act as if it is true.

Modern quantum theory says that at some point all the forces of nature get unified, including the weakest of them all, gravity. As we approach that ultimate limit, called the Planck dimension, the elementary particles get dissolved into tiny vibrating strings of energy, until we reach the Planck limit, where space and time themselves cease to exist. Thus modern quantum theory predicts the end of physics (and itself) as reality leads us to the vanishing point that is also the point of unity. But does the human mind stop there, also? Can we go beyond the ultimate limit of the physical? What does it mean that there is no space and time? The human mind keeps asking such questions, which turn out to be questions about itself as well as about fundamental reality. The thinking mind, armed with its product, the language of mathematics, seeks to go beyond. This yearning is the topic of our next post, where we will discover that other products of the mind, not just mathematics, are capable of probing the finest fabrics of creation.

www.deepakchopra.com

Follow Deepak on Twitter

photo by: s58y

The Living Universe: Interview with Duane Elgin

 Deepak Chopra Interviews Duane Elgin  on Sirius XM Radio  May 9th, 2009

 

 

Deepak Chopra:  My guest is Duane Elgin, the author of the new book The Living Universe . Duane, who is also a good friend of mine, is an author, speaker, educator, consultant, and  a media activist. For more than three decades he has defined the cutting edge in consciousness research in the ecology movement and in future studies. He pioneered the voluntary simplicity movement with his now classic first book titled by the same name, published in the 1980s. The book provided an exploration of the practical and philosophical meaning of simplicity as well as the comprehensive overview of the precarious ecological predicament of our planet. His current activist agenda is to transform the media, particularly television, which he sees as our greatest environmental risk factor because violent programming has a devastating effect on human consciousness and behavior. Duane has co-founded three non-profit organizations concerned with media accountability. He’s also helping me and others with a new effort that we’re calling Evolutionary Leaders. He has worked a senior social scientist with the think tank SRI International where he co-authored numerous studies on the long range future of government agencies such as the National Science Foundation.  I could go on about his credentials, but I actually want to talk more about his new book which is called The Living Universe. Duane, good morning.

 

Duane Elgin: Good morning.

 

DC: So where are you this morning? In California?

 

DE: I’m in California just north of San Francisco, it’s a sunny morning. It’s a beautiful day.

 

DC: Everyone is having a sunny morning except us in New York.

 

DE: (laughs)

 

DC: (laughs). Listen I got your book, yesterday in fact and it looks very nice. Of course I had read it before and it seems to have come a long way nicely.


DE: Thank you.

 

DC: So let’s talk about it. Your major thesis in this book is that the universe is a living, biological organism with consciousness.

 

DE: Well I would say it’s a unique kind of living system. I wouldn’t say so much biological, but rather there’s a deep aliveness that permeates and sustains the universe. And so we are more than biological beings, we are beings that also partake of the aliveness of the living universe.

 

DC: But you imply of course that the universe is imbued with consciousness.

 

DE: Indeed. So the aliveness of the universe is not simply a neutral energy. It is also the energy of consciousness, of a reflective capacity that permeates the universe. So throughout the universe it appears that systems at every level from the atomic up to the human and beyond are using the consciousness that’s at the foundation of the universe to organize themselves and intensify themselves into animate beings and life forms.

 

DC: You know I, several years ago when I wrote my book How to Know God, I had the good fortune of meeting a scientist in Holland by the name of Herms Romijn. And I dedicated my book to him. Herms has since passed away, but he wrote some very seminal papers on the origins of consciousness. He was a neuroscientist, quantum physicist, and unlike most neuroscientists who happen to be reductionists he actually had a very holistic view of the nature of consciousness. He was inspired by David Bohm. But, one of his papers that I read and I still have and would be happy to share it with you was about the fact that photons seem to be the carriers of all the information in the universe. Right now for example we are communicating with each other and with lots of people all over the world by using electromagnetic disturbances of the cosmos which essentially are virtual photons. But he was saying this was right in the 1990s, that when you have a thought, the thought also is carried, at least in your nervous system, through electromagnetic energy. And so photons are not only the carriers of what we call objective information but also subjective information. And since photons permeate the whole universe, the whole cosmos, he suggested in his paper which was published in a neuroscience journal in Holland. Since photons are the carriers of all information, subjective and objective, this implies that the universe is imbued with subjectivity.

 

DE: Ah, indeed.

 

DC: Which is a very fascinating idea and that we are part of that subjectivity in the sense that we are contained in that subjectivity.

 

DE: I think that’s such a key insight that the universe is imbued with subjectivity. So many people feel alone in the universe now. Feel cut off, feel like there’s no deeper connection or aliveness sustaining them. And if we can once again feel that aliveness that the universe is imbued with its own subjectivity that welcomes us if we will welcome it. And as you say in the foreword to this book “Talk to the universe”. George Washington Carver, the wonderful botanist said that if you love anything enough it will talk to you. And so just as you said Deepak if we engage the universe it will speak back to us. And for too long I feel that we have disregarded the universe and we now have gone this path of exploitation of the Earth rather than reverence for the Earth and reverence for the universe and this sacred home that we have.

 

DC: So, where are we, who are we, where are we going? So where are we Duane?

 

DE: What we’re discovering through both the lens of science and spirituality is that the universe is not a non-living machine, it is a living subjective presence and what we are doing is learning how to live in a living system. This living universe. So as the human family has this extraordinary journey before us. And it’s a common journey of discovery using all the tools we have, both science and spirituality to inquire into this extraordinary home that we have.

 

DC: You know the current issue of Scientific American, I don’t know if you’ve seen it but it has Einstein on the cover and the title says “Was Einstein Wrong,” and of course they’re trying to account for the fact that the universe at its most fundamental level seems to be non-local. It’s kind of spooky. Of course Einstein called it spooky action at a distance. He could never reconcile with the idea that we could have non-locality. ‘How could a fist in Des Moines, Iowa smash a nose in New York without disturbing anything in between? ‘ is how they pose the question. Then they go on in this particular article, and it’s the cover story, to say that non-locality is now a fact and that when you go deeper into understanding non-locality, this is in fact the universal mind which is simultaneously everywhere, which is synchronistic, which is infinitely creative, always continuously evolving, where everything is inseparable from everything else. Where uncertainty prevails and that uncertainty is the basis of all the creativity that comes out of there. If we could start to align ourselves with this kind of synchronistic intelligence which is the basis of all information: energy, space time, and all the objects of our universe, we would definitely be moving to the next stage of our own evolution.

 

DE: Indeed. And it simply is to come back to home, to rediscover the home that’s around us, the original home, the living universe.


DC: So tell us a little bit more about The Living Universe book, what can our readers expect to get from this?

 

DE:   They can go to my website awakeningearth.org  and they can get more information about it there. The book really looks at three core themes: where are we, is the universe dead or alive, and it says the evidence says its alive, it’s a living system, this is very exciting. The second theme is, who are we? Are we biological beings and that’s it, or are we more than that? And what it says again and again is we are beings with a cosmic connection. Our consciousness connects into the subjectivity of the living universe. And then the third theme is, where are we going? If we are beings that live in a living universe then where are we going? Well, we’re collectively learning how to live in that living universe and we’re on a heroic journey of discovery as a species. We’re just growing up and growing into this understanding of this subjective cosmic home that we live in. So those are the three core themes that orient the book.


DC: And even as we speak we are seeing war and terrorism and abominable acts in Pakistan and Afghanistan recently with all those slayings. We are seeing prejudice, we are seeing economic systems collapse. Do you think this is some kind of death and resurrection?

 

DE: Well I think we’re going through a rite of passage and into our early adulthood as a human family. And just like any adolescence, when you go through that rite of passage, that time of initiation to go into adulthood you go through the fire. And we as a human family are going to go through the fire before we come out the other side as a whole human family not only in name but in spirit, in feeling, in knowing that we’ve gone through this together and we have some extraordinary work to do together to come out the other side as a whole species civilization on this larger journey of learning to live in the universe.

 

DC: And you’ve been very active in this new evolutionary leaders movement that we’re all part of and you feel very strongly that the media especially has a big role to play in bringing us out of that fire.

 

DE: As the media goes, so goes the future. As we think, so we become, because the media is the thinking machine of our civilization. What it’s telling us to think about is how to be good consumers. Not good citizens of an endangered Earth. So we absolutely require the collective mind of the mass media to reflect back to us stories, and images, and themes, and ideas for a sustainable and promising future. And currently it’s reflecting back stories and images and ideas about being a satisfied consumer in such a diminished, impoverished view of who we are that is diminishing our evolutionary vision as a civilization.

 

DC: Right and we need a new mythology don’t we?

 

DE: Indeed we do.

 

DC: And we new media, new news stories, new music, new entertainment, all of this sort of…

 

DE: It’s exciting…There’s a short video that people can see on my website: awakeningearth.org.   

 

DC: Duane wonderful talking to you and I hope to be speaking to you again, having you on the show again, and also working with you as part of Evolutionary Leaders.

 

DE: Thank you.

For more information go to deepakchopra.com

Follow Deepak on Twitter

 

Photo: CC Flickr//Odalaigh

Just showing up is all that matters*

Now I have been observing things in the Universe and have come to the conclusion on the Now as Bodhidharma might have seen..and the principles I have seen so far is with this Now in my clarity and moment by moment because it is this..as this is..is(Zen)

I came into this world many moments ago which I just showed up and lived through all those moments to bring me into the Now and also tells me I am just showing up and when I die which is a part of this loan program will just show up…

So in this world besides one hand clapping as a Zen Riddle mantra..guess what I am doing RIGHT NOW!!! Just showing up and that is all that is in life..no Objective and a simple plain TRUTH of the subjective reality I exist in and no more or less as in nothing to gain and nothing to lose….enjoy just showing up always…

           Zen Rocks my World in Stillness and Wisdom of Nothing at All and keeps me there for it is…is*

I love this youtube video so much that you gotta see it again if you already have….enjoy the world you show up to..It is subjective reality and we belong to it as we are subjects within ourselves..the Soul*

                                                 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AqnEGu8VF8Y

Transformation of Consciousness

Question:

I wonder about our true self and what it is. Is our true self/the essence of what we are, the same as Atman or is it something that is even beyond Atman?

Since we all are in the process of shifting our awareness from jiva to

Atman, does that mean that both jiva and Atman are different points of

view or two different ways of experiencing what is?

Is it really possible for consciousness to be pure and totally objective?

As soon as there is awareness, isn