Here in 17 chapters, Dr. Goswami and his friends and colleagues discuss, among other things, how quantum physics affects our understanding of:
- Thoughts, feelings, and intuitions
- Karma, death, and reincarnation
- God's will, evolution, and purpose
- The meaning of dreams
- The spiritualization of economics and business, politics and education, and society itself
This fascinating new book will appeal to a wide array of readers, ranging from those interested in the new physics to those captivated by the spiritual implications of the latest scientific breakthroughs.
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|Publisher:||Hampton Roads Publishing Company, Inc.|
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The Everything Answer Book
How Quantum Science Explains Love, Death and the Meaning of Life
By Amit Goswami
Hampton Roads Publishing Company, Inc.Copyright © 2017 Amit Goswami
All rights reserved.
A Clash of Two Worldviews
People often ask me: If everything is not made of matter, then what is everything made of? And I say to them: Consciousness, everything is made of consciousness. But consciousness is such a wooly, nebulous concept! And this is where quantum physics breaks through with the answer we are looking for. For, in a quantum worldview, everything is wooly — even matter. Everything is a possibility before we experience it.
But if this is so straightforward, why do scientists debate about it? Scientists, in fact, still debate about all sorts of things: Is matter or consciousness the ground of everything? What does it mean to be human? Does God exist? While these are important questions, in our world of everyday affairs, what matters most is values. The biggest shortcoming of the materialist worldview is that it denigrates the archetypal values — love, truth, justice, beauty, goodness, abundance — and the meanings we derive from following these values. Yet, to a majority of the world's population, values like love remain important. Quantum physics, on the other hand, brings with it a new worldview that can put value and meaning back into our lives and provide answers to the questions of who we are and what it means to be human.
Someone once asked me if I found any similarity between quantum theory and the theory of the universe. And, in fact, the question is a good one. Quantum theory resulted from the observation of very tiny objects in the material world — the submicroscopic world. On the other hand, the theory of the universe is meant to explain a huge macro world. So how are these two related? In the quantum theory of consciousness, the large-scale aspects of the physical universe lose much of their interest. Modern cosmology has — thanks in large part to materialist science — avoided dealing with the internal world of consciousness. Thus it no longer seems to have any relationship to the real problems that occupy us all the time. But the concepts of modern cosmology are merely escapes — distractions not unlike the preoccupation of medieval Christian thinkers to determine how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.
I find it interesting that scientific materialists often posit their own exciting gods. All the exotic knowledge we now have of outer space has become a modern replacement for the gods of earlier religions — from the archetypes of Plato, to the angels of Christianity, to the more human Hindu gods like Siva. Instead, today, we call upon black holes and dark matter in an attempt to replace the archetypes and gods of earlier times. Modern science simply ignores consciousness and focuses instead on a concept of the universe that replaces archetypes and values with modern concepts like black holes and white holes, or dark matter and dark energy.
What we need to recognize is that science should always consist of three components. It must be founded on a theory. That theory must be verifiable by experimental data. And that theory must be useful. It must be applicable to human affairs. Whereas consciousness studies are now producing useful, experimentally verifiable, and technologically useful objects of inquiry, modern materialistic science increasingly involves itself with useless, non-verifiable objects of inquiry. Thus objects that were previously deemed more esoteric and less scientific are now becoming more useful and more scientific. At the same time, what used to be practical, down-to-earth science is becoming more abstract and less useful — more like old spiritual traditions. And spiritual traditions are becoming more like science.
What Is Consciousness?
Scientific materialists tend to treat consciousness as a linguistic assumption. There are subjects and predicates in our language, but science claims we can do without the subjects. As an example, they give the Hopi language, which has no subjects or predicates, only verbs, eliminating the need for consciousness except as a linguistic element. Without subjects — without consciousness — everything is matter and the manifestation of material interaction. This is the dominant worldview among scientists today.
If you ask a medical doctor to define consciousness, he will likely say, without batting an eye, that it is the opposite of being in a coma. A journalist told me her reaction to this kind of expert assertion: "Here we are, stuck with huge problems like global warming, economic breakdown, and political polarization — all because we can't come to a meeting of the minds over what a term like consciousness means. And we are not even aware that there is no meeting of the minds."
Of course, for many medical doctors, awareness and consciousness are synonymous, even after one hundred years of Freud. Doctors rarely read any psychoanalytic literature or, if they do, they do not accept much of it. Because how can the unconscious mind be validated if consciousness is not present in a patient who is in a coma? But consciousness never goes away. When we are unconscious — as in a coma — we may be unaware; we may have no experience of what is happening to us as subjects looking at objects. But we still have consciousness. What Freud really meant is that, although there is a distinction between awareness and unawareness, both are states of consciousness. In one state, we are aware of a subject-object split; we have an experience with two poles — the subject (the experiencer) and the object (the experienced). But in an unconscious state, we have no awareness of this split. Through psychoanalysis, we can explore how the mental processes taking place in the unconscious, of which we are not aware, are bothering us in our waking states of awareness. According to Freud, we should try to identify and understand these unconscious processes in order to function well mentally.
Consciousness is a fundamental aspect of our nature that is difficult to define — immediately, at least. We can become aware of some aspects and attributes of consciousness, but that's all we can do. Because consciousness ultimately, according to the quantum worldview, is the ground of all being, any definition that you give of it will fall short. Consciousness is everything there is. So any way you try to define it will fall short because the definition, in itself, is a phenomenon of consciousness, rather than the other way around.
Now let's return to that fundamental question with which we began: What is everything made of? Apart from psychoanalysis, is there any other compelling reason to choose between consciousness and matter to answer this question? Fortunately, today we can scientifically refute the materialist worldview. Theoretically, we can do so by demonstrating paradoxes — logical knots of thinking; experimentally, we can do so through anomalous data. Verbal quibbling has become unnecessary.
Material interaction has certain properties. One is that all interactions, all communications, occur through connections — signals that pass through space and time. Today, however, even undergraduates in physics can verify signal-less communication between submicroscopic quantum objects. And the work that some quantum physicists are doing proves conclusively that we cannot understand quantum physics without introducing causally potent consciousness into it — without introducing, not only consciousness, but also nonmaterial consciousness with causal power. We get paradoxes otherwise.
The causal power of consciousness — causation by conscious choice from potentiality into actuality — sounds much like the old Christian idea of downward causation by God. But that is not exactly true, although it is close enough to sound alarm bells in the cloistered minds of materialists. But here is the important thing. The new view of nonmaterial downward causation is that it involves nonlocal communication as opposed to communication with signals. Local communication goes through the locality to reach distant places, as for example when we communicate with sound; sound is a local signal. When we communicate without signals, as in mental telepathy, that is nonlocal.
With the concept of nonlocality, we have an experimentally verifiable consequence of a consciousness-based metaphysic. Material interactions behave locally and require signals. When consciousness interacts with the world, it requires no signals, only nonlocal communication. True, this type of communication seems subjective. But objective experiments since 1982 have shown that there are indeed nonlocal interactions in the world. Thus scientific materialism — based exclusively on material interactions — is ruled out experimentally. Instead, we can establish through experiment the idea that a new kind of nonmaterial interaction exists in the world. We have a new kind of causation — the causal ability of consciousness.
In the last few centuries, materialist science has been very busy deciphering the mysteries of matter. And, in fact, it has developed technologies that were needed in order for our civilization to survive and move forward. These technologies have also produced some bad offshoots, however. We can't afford to put up with these negative consequences anymore — nor do we need to. Today's deepest scientific questions are about the large-scale structures of cosmology, and they're kind of useless. What is the practical use of studying black holes? We cannot verify them experimentally, and the research appears to have no purpose. So why spend so much time studying them?
On the other hand, we have problems galore in the world: global climate change, terrorism and violence, economic melt-downs and corporate greed, people without jobs or trapped in meaningless work, politicians monopolizing power and disempowering people, political polarization, the skyrocketing cost of conventional healthcare, education that reinforces dogmas and ideologies without setting living examples of the values they preach. Solving all of these problems will require a change in the global mindset, a change in our collective consciousness. So we need to develop a different approach — a move away from the current scientific paradigm to one that includes consciousness, one that has the ability to integrate the power of consciouseness into our everyday lives.
We must recognize that it is when called on to explain consciousness that the materialist model of the world completely fails as an explanatory principle. Objects, material objects, can only yield other conglomerates of material objects. All objects, when taken together, can never yield a subject — and that's what human consciousness is all about. We are all subjects looking at objects, looking at the world, formulating views about the world. Those who say those views all come from the dance of elementary particles at the basic level are just fooling themselves. They are ignoring the existence of meaning and values. They are denying that there is causal efficacy at the level of human consciousness — at the very top level. Without values, there can be no civilization. So our entire civilization is in danger when we take the word of scientific materialists that matter is the ground of all being. Quantum physics, by contrast, suggests a worldview in which consciousness, not matter, is the ground of all being. It suggests a world where meaning and value can be reintroduced into science as aspects of consciousness beyond matter. This is the new approach to science that our society needs.
Mainstream scientists have taken a very interesting approach to this critique — namely, benign neglect. They hope to discredit this new approach through their silence, depriving proponents like myself an opportunity to engage in debate. But while mainstream science has chosen to ignore the work of quantum activists, we have used the time to develop a new science uninterrupted by controversy. As a result, we now have a very good theory of consciousness based on quantum physics. Thanks to experimental researchers, we also have a lot of corroborating data.
Scientific materialism relies on a concept called "dualism" — the idea that anything nonmaterial must exist as a separate object — as its main justification for denying the role of consciousness and all other "internal" experiences. Dualism begs the question of how material and nonmaterial objects interact. Think about it. If matter and nonmatter have nothing in common, they need a mediator, a signal, to interact — something to "connect" them. This has proven a tough nut to crack for supporters of nonmaterial beings. Quantum physics' answer is signal-less communication — nonlocality, in technical jargon. Signal-less communication is impossible in space and time; so it must use another domain of reality outside of space and time. According to quantum physics, this is the domain of potentiality. If this is true — and experiments say that it is — all materialist arguments against dualism go away, returning value and meaning to spirituality, religion, the arts and humanities, and indeed to consciousness itself. And if dualism goes away, nonmaterial objects can communicate with material objects and with other varieties of nonmaterial objects, because no signal is needed for them to communicate through the domain of potentiality — also known as consciousness.
Quantum physics forces us to conclude that the domain of potentiality is really consciousness itself. Moreover, it shows us that the communication between what seem to be two separate objects — mind and matter — is mediated by consciousness. This is the essence of the quantum paradigm.
Sometimes materialists try to discredit the idea that quantum physics, quantum nonlocality, can affect phenomena at the macro level of our experience. But we now have support from many experiments in a variety of fields — physics, biology, psychology, and medicine — that suggest that there is a nonlocal domain, even at the macro level. These experiments support the claim that signal-less communication really does happen, not only in the microscopic world, but also in the macro world of matter and human experience. As the underpinnings of their arguments disappear, more and more mainstream scientists are coming around to the quantum point of view. Although most still do not engage with the "weird" aspects of quantum physics (like nonlocality), those who do are becoming more amenable to scholarly discussion about the theory.
Parapsychologist Dean Radin supports the new quantum worldview and has undertaken some interesting experiments using a random-number generator to support it. A random-number generator converts random events of radioactive decay into random arrays of zeros and ones with the aid of a computer. Radin took these random-number generators to locations where people were meditating. He found that, in the presence of the meditators, the behavior of random number generators became significantly more nonrandom than was statistically expected. Radin suggested that the random-number generator should deviate maximally from randomness in the presence of coherent intentions. And he verified this idea, not only with people in a meditation setting, but also with people watching the Super Bowl. In those situations, Radin found that intention indeed caused deviation from randomness.
In situations where people were scatterbrained and not particularly intending anything, the random-number generators behaved normally. For example, in the corporate boardroom or at a university faculty meeting, random-number generators really generated random arrays of zeros and ones. In the meditation halls, they didn't. This supports the new view of quantum physics that conscious intention can affect outcomes. It shows the presence of conscious choice, which of course — as Gregory Bateson said a long time ago — is the opposite of randomness. The antagonists of the quantum worldview have to come to terms with experimental data like this.
Polarization and Integration
In our world today, we don't need polarization; we need integration. Although perhaps not as pronounced elsewhere, in America, polarization between science and religion has absolutely paralyzed the political process. How does the polarization between science and religion infect politics? Very simple.
Excerpted from The Everything Answer Book by Amit Goswami. Copyright © 2017 Amit Goswami. Excerpted by permission of Hampton Roads Publishing Company, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
Chapter 1 A Clash of Two Worldviews 1
Chapter 2 Consciousness and the Science of Experience 15
Chapter 3 The Physics of the Subtle 37
Chapter 4 Zen and Quantum Physics 55
Chapter 5 Thought, Feeling, and Intuition 67
Chapter 6 The World of Archetypes 79
Chapter 7 The Ego and the Quantum Self 95
Chapter 8 Free Will and Creativity 101
Chapter 9 Involution and Evolution 119
Chapter 10 A Tale of Two Domains 129
Chapter 11 The Creative Principle 143
Chapter 12 Quantum Reincarnation 153
Chapter 13 The Meaning and Purpose of Life 173
Chapter 14 The Meaning of Dreams 187
Chapter 15 Enlightenment 195
Chapter 16 Quantum Professor, Quantum Society 207
Further Reading 237