OCTOBER 28, 2013
CONSCIOUSNESS AND THE QUANTUM: SCIENCE, PSYCHOLOGY AND SPIRITUALITY

Dr. Amit Goswami


Professor Emeritus at the Theoretical Physics Department of the University of Oregon


Abstract: Why we should welcome having robots in our lives.

 

Transcript

 

First, 20 years ago I went to Japan to deliver a talk to a similar conference, futurology oriented. The first thing that I noticed in Tokyo, I was staying in a good hotel I suppose, surprised me. I went to the bathroom,  you know, to put very crudely, to wipe my ass, but I found to my surprise, water came on, a sprinkler came on and sprinkled me clean. And I thought, oh yeah, technology is great, because if I don’t have to worry about the mundane stuff,  then I can put my attention to my consciousness, who I am, right?

 

And really, joking aside, that’s where it’s at. All the technology stuff is wonderful unless we figure out how to change our human nature, because let’s face it, right now what are we doing in technology we already had talks in this conference itself to tell you, and you can see it outside, in New York City, full of worries about what will happen when the sea board rises even more, they are already talking about it, Michael Bloombers and company, about how much preparation is needed to save New York from flood water, right, so really to take consciousness seriously is the job that we need to do. We haven’t done it for almost 60 years, ever since scientific materialism, this idea that everything is matter, came around.

 

You know, that’s a classical physical idea, it has been with us ever since Newton, a 350 years old idea. We want to have rocket science to take us to planets, outer planets, pay attention here:  what is going on is that we are still holding on to a world view that is 350 years old, it is not getting us anywhere. It is stopping us cold, because we haven’t changed. We are as violent today as we used to be, and it is the violence to ourselves, that we do, that is wired in our brain, that keeps us from paying attention to consciousness.

 

So, we have to change our sciences - paradigm shift. We have to change especially our psychologists, which have much failed to notice the absolute stand-by that we are doing, the world is passing and we are just witnessing it pass, we are not doing anything about it. We have to become activists. We have to bring our creativity that is beyond the machines. We have to do all this, but first you need some faith that you are in the right direction, you need to learn quantum physics.

 

Don’t be scared. I am not suggestion that I tech you quantum physics for these 40 minutes that I have.  But what I am suggesting is that you pick up the basics of what quantum physics says compared to Newtonian physics that truly liberates the human spirit. And that’s just one sentence. Quantum physics says objects are possibilities, this contradicts Newton, of course.


Newton thought that objects are deterministic, they are completely determined by physical laws. Quantum physics says, yes, determined to some extent, yes, to the extent of statistical predictions, but that’s it. The individual behaviors of objects are not determined. What does that mean? That means that you have creativity at the base level, don’t worry about it, you are not a machine. You know this already, but since the science - scientific materialism - the idea that you are machines, has been propagated to you, propagandized to you for 60 years. It is a little bit hard to shake off that belief system because newspapers, and advertisements, and marketing techniques, are making sure that you hear that message, but that’s not the complete message.  Yes, we have negative emotional brain circuits and competitiveness built into us from our evolutionary history, but, yes, we can also change.

 

And the beauty of it is that this new science that I am going to tell you about, science within consciousness, is giving us already broad hints. We have the theory at hand. We have some of the experimental data at hand, all that is left is for you to listen, and act. I call it Quantum Activism. It centers on the idea that humans are capable of exerting their free will and bring creative change in their nature.  Yes, we can change human nature, that’s the message of the new science. Yes, we can do it. Can we do it by 2045? Well, if we really try.

 

So, quantum physics is a physics of possibilities. What does that tell us? Well, It tells us first, of course, that we can change. But the second thing it tells us is absolutely astounding. If objects are possibilities, then what makes these objects transform into actuality? Stuff that we experience is not possibility. We never have seen any object, tables, chairs, podiums - all objects are concrete, where they are - they don’t appear in possible positions, but we know from the behavior of electrons that although when we watch the electrons they do appear at a definite position, before we saw them they really were like quantum physics tells us, they were waves of possibilities.

 

So, the astounding thing that quantum physics tells us is that reality is not Newtonian, is not matter moving in space-time, just that one realm. It really tells us that reality consists of two realms: one is the domain of potentiality, these waves of possibility, and the other is the domain of manifest actuality, what in physics we call particles. This two-item idea of reality, that reality has two realms, is very, very important. Why? In ancient times, people had the same idea. They called the reality beyond, “transcendent reality.” Intriguing word but confusing, and the reality here on Earth was called “immanent reality.” But nobody understood the word “transcendent, “ therefore they changed the name, they called transcendent, gave it a name, a place, “Heaven”, and gave immanent reality the name “Earth,” which is of course quite appropriate. But “Heaven” is confusing, so soon Heaven was interpreted as the outer space, incorporated within the one real version of reality that Newton proposed, ever since struggling with it.

 

If reality is transcendent, what is the evidence for it in our experience? This, of course, is the question. In ancient times, people could not give much evidence for it in regular people’s regular life. They said you have to do a special stuff, they called it “spiritual work,” in order to discover it. And that of course was beyond the level, beyond the effort of ordinary people. New York is so busy. I cannot ask you to meditate, meditate, meditate all the time, and get away with it, you won’t. So that particular message got lost. So when science came around and said but no, there is one reality, no need for meditation, people found relief, this is why we are generally anti-religion today.

But look, at the turn of the 19th century Sigmund Freud, a psychologist, actually a man of anti-spiritual bend, he suggested from his data, from his clinical data, that there are two realms of reality as we experience it. The two realms of course are quite famous, you know it, unconscious and conscious. And if Freud left any doubt that the unconscious is talking about the same transcendent reality of the older days, then Carl Jung confirmed it. He said that, look, Freudian unconscious is full of negative stuff, I agree, suppressed and repressed emotions of childhood for example, but there are other stuff in our unconscious, that’s not all of it.

 

There is also unconscious which must be called “collective unconscious,” because somehow this unconscious doesn’t seem to have limits like racial limits or cultural limits or geographical limits, open to everyone it seems like. So Carl Jung said, well, unconscious really is our road to spirituality, we really have to listen to it. And both the ancient cultures and the psychologists, Freudian and Jungian psychologists, are very clear on the fact that the unconscious is important, because the unconscious affects the conscious. With the help of the unconscious we can change, we can bring the good stuff in our midst. They did not recognize it so clearly as we do today, that we have brain circuits of negativity, suffering build into us. We indeed have competitiveness, jealousy, anger, lust, all these things built into us in brain circuits. They were not so clear about this, because neurophysiology was not built yet, but they were clear about this one thing: that yes, whatever negativity we have, that brings us suffering, there is also positive stuff that comes to us, because we have a power called intuition, we have an experience called intuition.

 

Today, scientists side with the matter, the material side, and look at what this has done to us. In 60 years of scientific materialism we are already facing the dark ages, as you have been told at this very conference by other speakers. The answer is obvious, quantum physics has given it to us on a platter. Consciousness is the ground of being and we have the capacity of dealing with all of our experiences, including the creative use of these possibilities, to bring the creative into manifestation, and see if we can use it to change ourselves. As simple as that? Yes!

 

In the meantime, the creativity researchers have been making some very good progress, researchers who do empirical studies of creative people. What they have found, they really have discovered the phenomenon to change ourselves, they really have discovered the nature of creativity itself, the passes. For a long time there was much resistance to accepting these empirical results of creativity researchers. They really found that there are 4 stages, at least, of creativity. The first stage is well known to everybody, preparation. The second stage is very, very obscure, to most people who have grown up with Newtonian physics. Because the next stage is called incubation, bird sitting on an egg, that’s the image, just sitting, not doing anything.

 

Creativity is an act, after all, we wonder, how can just sitting be useful for a creative act? So there is much controversy about this. And then controversy only thickens when creativity researchers absolutely insist that there is a third stage, which is a discontinuous insight. Insight comes to us, but that has no continuity with all of our previous thoughts. They even gave a name to creativity, it’s called the “AHA” experience. Creativity always comes with a surprise, we say AHA, I didn’t know, I never realized. Where did that AHA, the surprise come from?

 

So, researchers are saying, well, there is a discontinuity with previous thoughts, that’s where the surprise is coming from. And then we manifest.

 

So these 4 stages: preparation, incubation, discontinuous insight, and manifestation. The first one and the fourth one you can understand with Newtonian physics, the second one and the third one you can’t. Controversy. Quantum physics resolves the controversy in just a second, if you will pay attention to what quantum physics is telling us.

 

If thoughts are quantum possibilities of consciousness before consciousness materializes them into a particular thought, in other words if a thought is preceded by a possibility wave of multiple meaning, that’s what my emphasis is, meaning, so if you start with these possibilities of multiple meaning, and you experience a thought only when you choose, in that nonlocal (that is a quantum name for consciousness as the ground of being) consciousness, you choose, and that particular thought is your experience. But in between your thoughts, these thoughts are not concrete thoughts, they are possibilities of meaning, allowing many meanings, including new meanings, very important to recognize.

 

And what happens to waves, if you wait? Throw a pebble in water, when you get an opportunity, or just remember when you did that last time, what happened? The water waves became bigger and bigger and bigger waves, right? Same thing happens to waves of possibility. If you are not doing anything, thinking, thinking, thinking, what happens is that the thought waves, these possibility waves of meaning, they start expanding, becoming bigger and bigger pulses of possibility. Pulses of possibility for what? For you to choose from. See, your scope of what to choose from, your scope for finding something new to choose from, goes up manifold. And this is the power of incubation, this is the power of just sitting, not doing anything.

 

Discontinuity? Well, it is part and parcel of quantum physics. When Heisenberg declared that quantum possibilities give us another realm of reality, called potentiality, at the same Niels Bohr clarified the relationship between this realm of potentiality and the manifest realm. Niels Bohr said, you cannot go from one to the other in a continuous manner, there is really a discontinuous leap that is involved, Bohr called it the quantum leap.

 

When electrons jump from one atomic orbit to another one, they don’t go through the intervening space, they really disappear and reappear at the lower orbit. Quantum leap, discontinuous transition.  Just as that creative insight, AHA, surprise, discontinuous leap in thought. So, quantum physics removes the consternation we feel when we look at the creative process.  Only thing that you have to deal with is, there is some insight that will come from the uncertainty, did I get or did I not? But here also, I will tell you, something very interesting happens. I talked to you about the three realms of the psyche, feeling, thinking, and intuition, three different tools. Now, feeling, we have much knowledge about that tool, but we are not going to have time to deal with it much. Thinking, I have already dealt with. What is intuition about?

 

Ancient people studied that a lot, and they found that intuition is about glimpses at things, stuff, that is really stuff of our happiness, stuff that will make us permanently happy. Well, we have sort of something built into us, into the brain, already, which makes us temporarily happy. We call it pleasure. We do have weird circuits of the brain, and if we play them up we get pleasure and we can forget our suffering a little bit, this is how New Yorkers do it today. But the spiritual traditions are telling us something that is permanent, they are saying that, look, if you follow these intuitive messages, Plato even had a beautiful name for it, “archetype,”  interestingly Jung used the same kind of name, “archetypes,” for the images of the collective unconscious that come to us.

 

Archetypes, the intuitive stuff. Archetypes, love, beauty, justice, truth, abundance, goodness, self, these are archetypes. And the traditions and the psychologists are saying, well, look, if you follow these archetypes, and that is what we do in creativity, what we do when we jump, when we quantum leap, go and look at the archetypes. Unconsciously, of course.  In the other realm we cannot be conscious, consciousness and possibilities are identical in the realm of potentiality, we call it “non-local” because consciousness is processing itself. There is no distance, there is no signal between them,  the signal-less communication is called non-locality, quantum non-locality. Like discontinuity, this concept of quantum non-locality is also a revolutionary concept, you have a connection aside from the local connection that connects you and me immediately. Non-locality.

 

Hopefully, some of you just by hearing about this are getting into a non-local consciousness with me, and there is a fellow at the Institute of Noetic Sciences in Califorina, Dean Radin, who works with a random number generator, and this generator is supposed to generate random arrays of zeros and ones.  But, guess what, when he brings that kind of apparatus in the presence of people who are into non-local consciousness, the apparatus starts behaving very differently than generating random numbers, it starts generating non-random arrays of zeroes and ones. Why the change? Choice. It is opposite to randomness, right?

 

So, in the presence of this non-local consciousness we are able to choose, we are free to choose. And that shows even in the mechanical random number generators. So, technology supports this kind of theory. And if this doesn’t satisfy you enough as support for non-local consciousness, I could give you even more sophisticated ways that it has been verified, and the more sophisticated way of verifying this is that two people meditate together, then only one of them - they are isolated from signals, by putting them in Faraday’s chambers - one of them are seeing a series of light flashes producing brain activity, actual EEG measurements show that the brain activity travels from one brain to the other without any electrical connection. Unbelievable? Two dozen experiments since the first one by the Mexican neurophysiologist Greenberg, two dozen experiments have verified that this is what happens. You get into a non-local consciousness with another person by meditating with the person, it will change the nature of your consciousness, from locality into non-locality.

 

So, Quantum Activism says let’s use it, let’s use these facilities, discontinuity, non-locality. Discontinuity will allow us to be creative, non-locality will allow us to be a little cooperative, a little friendly, and most important it will allow us to take charge, because in that non-local consciousness I can choose, I can choose to be free, I can choose to be creative, this is what I want to get into. Because I can create the new reality that we want.

 

What is that reality? What is the human nature that most obstructs us from being creative? The ancients have sort of figured it out partly. They said if we follow these archetypes we can change, and therefore let’s follow the archetypes and make that our goal of life, forget the mundane world. They missed the fact that we could also follow the archetypes and change ourselves, and stay in the mundane world and make it better. This is why this vision of ourselves that this conference is projecting is so important. It doesn’t negate “let’s change ourselves,” that’s the message since the ancient times, from millennia, that we are hearing, but not quite able to do, follow up. The new message of quantum physics is that, well, yes, let’s change, but let’s change the world, the mundane world,  at the same time, where other people live. Because, look, not everybody has the capacity of using their quantum possibilities in this creative way. What they are stuck with? They are stuck with these brain circuits, and these brain circuits or patterns of habits may arise from a variety of reasons, part of it is genetic, for example some of us are predisposed to have schizophrenia, for example, or psychopathic/sociopathic behavior, for example, what do we do with them?

 

This is something we have to deal with. So, immediately speaking, of course, we can learn them quantum consciousness. Very different way of looking at things like what do we do with prisoners, what do we do with schizophrenia, isn’t it? Ordinary wisdom is we put schizophrenics into asylums, and do whatever is necessary to keep them confined. Ordinary wisdom is we put the sociopaths and psychopaths into prisons. We don’t realize how expensive this is. Much cheaper is to try to change them, just as you try to teach people from indolence into more enlightened people. Similarly, we can create opportunities for sociopaths and psychopaths, by simply lending them our consciousness. If you went to a prison and talked to a prisoner you can see it for yourself. You would find that they are much more lively when they talk to you. What happened? What happened is that in ordinary states their thoughts are so frequent, they are so hyperactive in their brain activity, they cannot meditate.  What does that mean? That means that the gap between thoughts is zero. We call it today, in psychology we call them people of zero awareness. No gap between thoughts, you cannot change them. So by borrowing your consciousness they have a little bit of gap, and within that gap the ability to change their behavior comes immediately. Of course that will only be temporary unless you really teach them to meditate, and then they can be reformed.

 

But look, I don’t want to spend too much time with the pathological cases of psychology, although that is very interesting. Apart from quantum physics I want to get back to what we can do. What we can do to change the society itself, to change the human nature. Now, here I have to finally talk about feelings a little bit. What do we feel? Think about it. What do we feel when we feel? The ancients knew that, today under the aegis of scientific materialism we are forgetting these things. But many of you, who have felt, who like feeling,  some of us hide behind “I don’t have - we cannot handle feelings,” but some others really like to feel. What do you feel? You feel energies.

 

The ancient times called these energies “vital energies,” and other cultures, Chinese has a name called “qi,”, and Indians called in “prana,” but they all mean that, look, these things are connected with the force that differentiates between life and non-life: vitality. The force of vitality, life force. This is what Qi, and Prana, and vital energy are about. In modern times, there is a scientist named Rupert Sheldrake, very maligned by conventional scientists, but a great biologist in my opinion. He gave a name to these fields that are responsible for our experience of vital energy. These fields are connected with form-making, biological form-making, said Sheldrake. What does that mean? That means that these negative emotional brain circuits, that we find so disturbing, those brain circuits that keep us from creativity, those brain circuits that we call “human nature,” today. That were produced, actually, not by means of genes, not by means of usual biological processes, but actually these “morphogenetic fields,” working in a way that a biologist named Lamarck predicted long time ago.

 

So, this is very legitimate science. What do we get if we listen to it? What we get is that if we, today, start building brain circuits of love by actually loving people, by actually engaging with this non-local consciousness, initially the effect is only momentary, but if we engage creativity then the effect will be permanent, I see you, and I love you. What happens if I see you and I love you, is that repeated reinforcement produces a brain circuit in me - neurophysiologists are very sure of this, neuroplasticity is the biggest excitement in neurophysiology for many decades.

 

Neuroplasticity: the brain can make new circuits. So you build these love circuits. Not working alone, but working in non-local consciousness, working in groups like this, Quantum Activists. And you have these brain circuits that you have created. Can they be propagated to the future? This is the question that Sheldrake - and Lamarck long time before him - are saying, that yes, the circuits that you build, collectively, those circuits can be propagated. Carl Jung’s concept of “collective unconscious” already supports this: why do we have the ability of having dreams with this collective memory that happened way past, millennia ago, why and how? Well, it comes to us through this non-local aspect of evolution, through morphogenetic fields, not through the local genes.

 

So, in this way, this is what I suggest: we have the power, let’s change our brain, and let the morphogenetic field pick up these changes. The memories of the morphogenetic field are non-local memories, quantum physics can prove it, I don’t have the time to go through the proof, but we have experimental evidence and quantum theory for suggesting that, yes, memory can be non-local, outside of space and time, and therefore future generation can indeed inherit these brain circuits from us.

 

So, imagine this: six or seven generations, well, 2045 is only a couple of generations away, but we may be able to do it by 2045? I am hopeful, if you are. Let’s try this, let’s try the biggest experiment in history that was ever done. We just practice, collectively, loving each other, using quantum creativity. How do we do it? I have a slogan for it: DO-BE_DO_BE_DO. Really, I mean it quite seriously, because what we need to do is not just DO and BE, but DO-BE-DO-BE alternatively, because if we don’t DO then BE, unconscious processing, loses focus, but if we DO too much then we become hyper, we cannot really have the quantum possibilities expand very much and make big pulses of possibility.

 

So, you have to use it alternatively, DO to keep the focus, BE to allow the pulse of possibility to become bigger and bigger. When we do this, we take the quantum leap, to make the preparation of the brain circuits, manifest the brain circuits. And once we have them, if we do it non-locally, they will be transferred thanks to the morphogenetic field to the future generations, and change human nature. Believe me! Thank you.

 

Acknowledgements

 

Our thanks go to our volunteers Giulio Prisco, Kim Solez, Chris Smedley, Philip Wilson, Xing Chen, including anonymous volunteers for their help with the transcription of Congress presentations.

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