Is the Universe conscious? and if so, what are the implications of this to humanity? We will begin a journey into the amazing world of consciousness studies, starting from the Cosmos, to the non-living, to the cellular, and to the human being. What is consciousness? Why is understanding it very important to humanity? Is there an afterlife? Roger Sperry, the neuroscientist and the Nobel laureate has said that, Consciousness studies is crucial to the survival of humanity.
Since the dawn of humanity, humankind has been exploring and developing various concepts and beliefs about God and the universe. Views vary from religion to religion, and with different schools of yoga, mysticism, philosophy, and quantum physics. But, over the past decade there has been increasing scientific evidence to strongly suggest that there does exist in the universe, a superforce (referred to by various names, such as God) which pervades the cosmos and influences our lives, and which we each need to understand, attune with, experience, and even love; if we wish to experience success, happiness and health.
Of course, there are contrary views, which hold that there is no such thing — that it belief in a superforce is a mental construct with no basis in fact. Why are there such oppositions? If in fact there is a supeforce in this universe, then it is critical that humanity explore this issue. And, if it does exist, what does this mean for each of us, and how can one come to know this conscious universe or God? How does reincarnation and the afterlife relate to this?
In the next several publications, we will explore various concepts of God or this superforce from the following perspectives: Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, mysticism, philosophy, psychology, quantum physics, and Sikhism.
Before we do this however, its crucial to understand the important concept of paradigms or world views which determine how we see things, how we investigate, and how come to know anything.
According to Swami Ajaya, in his excellent book Psychotherapy East and West: A Unifying Paradigm,today our world views are based on four major paradigms: The reductionist, humanistic, dualistic, and the monistic. They reflect distinct philosophical positions regarding the fundamental states of existence and our world. Here are some highlights and excerpts for this outstanding book.
The ReductIonistic Paradigm
A complex phenomenon is to be understood by breaking it down into its more basic material components (e.g., psychological phenomena can be understood in terms of biology, and biological occurrences can be understood in terms of chemical and physical events).
- A) Consciousness is not primary; rather, it is the result of the interaction of material entities. It may be considered an epiphenomenon.
- B) The methods developed in the classical physical sciences are the most useful for studying psychological phenomena. These include: sensory observation, isolation of component parts for analytic study, and the study of antecedent causes. The mechanic has certain preconceptions and relates to the machine in a particular way:
- a) He starts with an effect and looks for the cause.
- b) He isolates the components and examines them separately, seeking the component that in functioning abnormally. Finding it, he returns it to normal functioning.
- c) If the problem is in a component that he is not an expert in correcting, e.g., the cars computer or a bent frame, the mechanic may turn the task over to a specialist.
- d) The mechanic works on the machine while the machine remains at rest or while it goes on functioning as it has been. The machine is the passive recipient of being fixed.
The Humanistic Paradigm
Is based on the following assumptions: The individual human experience is unique and must be studied and valued in its own right rather than reducing it to any sort of components, or regarding it as inferior to any other phenomena or mode of experience.
- A. The experience of the individual is primary. The psychologist must relate to the unique world and experience of each individual rather than impose a general theory upon an individual, which devalues his personal experience.
- B. Each human being in motivated toward actualizing his latent potentials for uniquely human experiences.
Both Freud and the behaviorists were considerably influenced by the physical and biological sciences of their time. They attempted to use mechanistic conceptions and methods from physics to study and explain human functioning. Both psychologies were also influenced by Darwins theory of evolution. This led to the view that human behavior and experience emerged from animal behavior and to the attempt to understand human beings in terms of more primitive modes of function. The humanistic psychologists rallied against this limited perspective and established a third force, which focuses on those uniquely human qualities that are ignored, denied, or devalued in reductionist psychologies.
Humanistic psychology has become a major movement with many enthusiastic followers. The founders of this movement include such renowned theorists and therapists as Kurt Goldstein, Abraham Maslow, Carl Rogers, Erich Fromm and Rollo May.
Humanism had a long tradition before the rise of humanistic psychology in the middle of the 20th century. It awakened in the Renaissance to give man a new sense of freedom from the medieval order. It has awakened in modern psychology to free man from the reductive conceptions about the nature of human beings. Humanism recognizes the value or dignity of man and makes him the measure of all things. The humanistic orientation in psychology has contributed considerably to an enhanced view of the nature and potentials of the human being by focusing one experiences that are uniquely human and cannot be adequately explained in terms of more primitive levels of organization. Humanistic psychology occupies a position between the reductionist paradigm, and the dualistic paradigm, with its interest in transcendent consciousness.
While humanistic psychologies emphasize such qualities as self-actualization and seek to bring out the best in human beings, they do not fully reach upward toward a transcendent or universal consciousness, for they fail to recognize the existence of such a mode of consciousness.
The Dualistic Paradigm
In contrast to the humanistic perspective, dualistic psychologies, both ancient and modern, conceive of a consciousness that transcends human experience. The dualistic models are based on the following basic assumption: The universe is fundamentally made up of interacting complementary qualities. Both material phenomena and consciousness exist as the fundamental duality.
- A. Human existence is that of an individualized, delimited consciousness involved with material phenomena.
- B.A transcendent consciousness also exists, which is unidentified with material phenomena.
- C. The individualized consciousness is evolving toward a more complete experience of transcendent consciousness.
- D. The individualized consciousness can never fully experience the comprehensive or transcendent consciousness.
- E. To the extent that the individualized consciousness involves itself with the material phenomena, it will experience a mixture of pleasure and pain; to the extent that a human being realizes or positively relates to a more transcendent state of consciousness, he experiences such qualities as joy, contentment, knowledge, and truth.
The Monistic Paradigm
While dualistic psychology posits two fundamental principles that interact to create the universe, the fourth system to be studied the monistic paradigm begins with the assumption that there is only one fundamental principle, consciousness. The monistic paradigm rests on the following premises: Unitary consciousness is all that exists.
- A. The phenomenal world appears to exist, but it is merely an illusory manifestation of unitary consciousness. The phenomenal world is insubstantial. It may be thought of as a mirage or a dream existence.
- B. When one ignores the universal consciousness, the phenomenal world appears to be substantial and is taken as a something rather than the negation, which it is.
- C. Manifestations of universal consciousness have identified with the phenomenal world, but are engaged in the process of recognizing themselves as the universal consciousness.
To further contrast the dualistic and monistic paradigms, it is useful to distinguish between the terms monotheism and monism. Theism refers to the belief in a god and mono of course means one; monotheism refers to the conception that there is only one universal consciousness, God. In a monotheistic belief system, God remains separate from the individual whom He has created. The individual worships God and remains subservient to God. But monism does not refer to belief in a god. Rather it is the conception that there is only one existence, one consciousness that is universal. In this system, there is neither the worshiper nor the worshiped, for what may have appeared to be two is actually one. There is only one. This fourth paradigm is the least commonsensical yet most profound, and so it must be, since it takes its stand in non-sensory experience and considers sensory data to be of little value in conveying knowledge of the fundamental reality. This view is quite foreign and even unnerving both to the materialists, who consider even the theists world view wishful thinking, and to the theists, who cry heresy, delusion, and dangerwhenever anyone asserts that a human being can attain a transcendent or universal consciousness.
We will explore the God/consciousness concepts from various paradigms, philosophies, perspectives, and schools of thought. Our first approach will be from the Monistic perspective involving quantum physics, then we will explore this concept from each world religion, philosophy and mysticism.
Each paradigm gives us a different view of the world. Originally, psychology was the study of logos and the psych the study of the mind and soul. Now mainstream psychology has taken a much more scientific/statistical approach, closer to traditional physics and science. Therefore, while quantum physics, the epitome of hard science, has been going in the opposite direction towards where psychology was. Psychology has moved to where physics was/is. They are like trains going in opposite directions.
Over the past decade, several scholarly publications by top quantum physicists are now seriously discussing issues like the conscious and spiritual universe, the superforce, consciousness, and he mind of God. We truly live in exciting times. In this publication we will begin a modern 21st century cutting edge discussion of the cosmos where it is described as an elegant quantum field with certain unique intelligent properties.
Alexander (1990) proposes that in higher stages of human development and as our spiritual consciousness evolves, so too do our morals, values, and higher dialectical and integrative thinking skills, and our care and commitment to the world.
We are better able to accept contradictions and tolerance between seemingly opposing systems. We develop a synthetic form of thinking. He further proposes that in Vedic psychology, higher stages of consciousness naturally unfold in the course of normal adult development, but that development freezes prematurely because of lack of developmental technologies.
He proposes that we need cultural amplifiers such as transcendental meditation (T.M.) to unfreeze our development. He believes that at the highest stage of cosmic consciousness, self-knowledge is now direct, and complete. There is a completely stable, expanded inner frame of reference. Thus, from a Vedic psychology perspective, a technology of consciousness is required for scientists to experientially catch up, and complete the theoretical map of the universe.
Unity consciousness may then represent a natural state of integration of knowledge and experience, capable of resolving fundamental constraints of modern reductionistic thinking. Clearly, the core doctrines and use of specific techniques used by mystics seem to be absolutely invaluable tools for exploring and elucidating consciousness.
The quantum physicist Hagelin (1989) suggests that by using the T.M. technique there is enhanced self-referral, self-sufficiency, and infinite dynamism at the physiological, psychological, ecological, and sociological levels. This exerts a positive feedback to and from the pure consciousness, and we better appreciate the pulse of this unified field. Thus, our paradigms, theories, and models would be more reflective of this unified field. That it is the direct experience of more unified and holistic levels of natural law in consciousness, which produces the desired physiological, psychological, sociological, and ecological changes.
More recently quantum physicists and other scientists have done very extensive intellectual research into the quality of pure consciousness from a quantum wave mechanics and Vedic science perspective. In my opinion, they have come uncannily close to elucidating it by suggesting that the unified field of modern theoretical physics and the field of pure conscious are identical.
When the nature and properties of this Vedic sciences pure consciousness (unified field) is investigated from a quantum wave mechanism perspective, Hagelin (1989) and Lewis (1982) suggest that we find certain essential characteristics of this unified field. Some of these are:
That pure consciousness is not the same as the common every day experience of awareness.
It has dual characteristics of existence and intelligence.
Consciousness is all that exists. All forms and phenomena in the universe which constitute various expressions can be said to exist by virtue of its existence. The existence of this pure consciousness is an empirical reality, which is self-evident in higher states of consciousness.
The intelligence property of consciousness is associate with its self-interacting nature. It is aware of its own existence; it has a witnessing property. This is precisely the quality of dynamic intelligence that the quantum principle provides.
The precise mathematical structure of the unified field serves as an unmanifested blueprint for the entire creation; all the laws of nature governing physics at every scale are just partial reflections or derivatives of this basic mathematical structure.
This field acquires (at the quantum/mechanical level) a degree of dynamism, discrimination and creativity.
In addition to having the property of self-referral consciousness and dynamic creative intelligence, it has dynamism which all combine to give rise to patterns of vibrations or dynamics. Within this pure consciousness field there is a kind of infinite frequency of oscillation between infinity to a point a sort of opposite value/duality which gives rise to fundamental vibrations, harmony, rhythm, frequencies, overtones, resonance, and an electromagnetic spectrum spanning over 80 octaves.
Maharishi (1986) asserts that the creative process occurs entirely by itself in a self-sufficient manner as a spontaneous and inevitable consequence of the unified field itself. In fact, this entire dynamics and sequence of expression from unity to diversity can be seen as a sequentially more elaborated commentary on the nature of the atma itself. Every stage in the sequential placement of the laws of nature from the unified field, is a spontaneous and inevitable consequence of the nature of consciousness and its self-interacting dynamics. Through its sequential transformations, pure consciousness, the unified field of all the laws of nature, ultimately gives rise to manifest existence of matter. That is, it is the basic constituent of all matter and energy. Thus in the sequential growth, consciousness becomes matter. The implications of this extremely critical point will be explored in a later section.
Hagelin (1989), in an elegant paper, details how the recent quantum physics theories on the principle of spontaneously broken symmetry, Higgs mechanism, super gravity, grand-unification, super symmetry, and superstring theories together allow for the conceptual foundations of the unified field theory. He adds these theories afford for the first time a self-consistent and completely unified description of the elementary particles and forces in terms of a single, self-interacting field that of pure consciousness. He further proposes that this unified field must, itself, embody the total intelligence of natures functioning.
Vedic Science gives consciousness a unique ontological status; it is not an emergent property of matter, rather, its considered to be fundamental or a primary reality in nature. Further, that the human being, with the use of his/her nervous system, can experience this pure consciousness. Hagelin (1989) states, Vedic Science, like modern science, seeks to identify and explore the most fundamental and universal principles of intelligence at the bases of natures functioning. In addition, Vedic Science (unlike modern science) provides systematic experiential technologies which allow the direct exploration of these most fundamental and universal principles of intelligence in consciousness (p.6).
Maharishi (1986) asserts that the creative process occurs entirely by itself in a self-sufficient manner as a spontaneous and inevitable consequence of the unified field itself. In fact, this entire dynamics and sequence of expression from unity to diversity can be seen as a sequentially more elaborated commentary on the nature of the atma itself.
Every stage in the sequential placement of the laws of nature from the unified field, is a spontaneous and inevitable consequence of the nature of consciousness and its self-interacting dynamics. Through its sequential transformations, pure consciousness, the unified field of all the laws of nature, ultimately gives rise to manifest existence of mater. That is, it is the basic constituent of all matter and energy. Thus in the sequential growth, consciousness becomes matter. The implications of this extremely critical point will be explored in a later section.
That the infinite dynamics, creativity, intelligence, and self-referral properties of pure consciousness allow for the infinite variety of creation where there is continuous emergence, growth, and dissolving. The Bhagavad Gita states, curving back on my own nature, I create again and again. Consciousness creates matter and eventually matter reverts to energy (consciousness). Hence the immortality of pure consciousness. Pure consciousness is both the womb and grave of matter and its manifestations.
Orme-Johnson (1988) summarizes several important principles, which he feels now arise as a result of the pure consciousness. Some of these key principles are:
- a) There is a unified field at the basis of all matter and energy fields, which are the fields of pure consciousness, – the cosmic psyche.
- b) The universe emerges through the spontaneous sequential dynamic symmetry breaking of pure consciousness.
- c) There are seven major states of consciousness.
- d) Nature has a purpose, which is the evolution of life to higher states of consciousness. Evolution is thus twofold the evolution of matter to increasing complexity, so as to support life, and the development of higher states/stages of consciousness.
Hence we see the progression of species to express increasingly, the totalities of the cosmic psyche. The goal and end point of physical evolution is the human nervous system, which is personal cosmic bridge. It can sustain and attune with this pure consciousness and the cosmic psyche becomes fully expressed in individual life. Furthermore;
The dynamics of natural law and the dynamics of pure consciousness are identical.
It is possible to know all laws of nature by knowing the dynamics of consciousness.
Developing pure consciousness is the solution to all problems. Orme-Johnson (1988), in another exquisite article, shows several examples of how and where this self-referral, self-sufficiency, creative, dynamic, oscillating, intelligence, and infinite dynamism these qualities of the cosmic psyche can be seen in its subsystems and sub-disciplines, such as in physics, mathematics, psychology, sociology, ecology, physiology, biology, and chemistry. Thus it operates at all levels of the cosmic system. Further elegant works by Perry also provides an exquisite understanding of mutation of consciousness from a systems theory perspective, and the teachings of the perennial philosophies.
-By Dr. Ranjie Singh
Some books to check out to learn more are:
Mind of God – Dr. Paul Davies.
Quantum Field – Michio Kaku.
Quantum Physics – Dana Zohar
Quantum Universe – Dr. Amit Goswami.
Spiritual Universe – Dr. Fred Alan Wolfe.
Superforce – Dr. Paul Davies.
The Book of Wisdom – Pandit Usharbudh
The Conscious Universe – Dr. Paul Davies
The Conscious Universe – Kafatos and Nadeau.