1. The Belief Box
"Everyone takes the limits of his own vision for the limits of the world." Arthur Schopenhauer
“Your belief systems limit your reality to a sub-set of the solution space that does not contain the answer” Tom Campbell
The Clockwork Universe model of reality presented in the previous video was an extremely caricaturised world view. It was not meant to be self-consistent – in fact, it was full of logical fallacies. My goal was to make you think, to make you evaluate not only its inconsistencies but, just as importantly, to make you analyse all of its implicit and explicit assumptions. I wanted you to question everything you heard in that video: from the premises to the conclusions. The idea was to prompt you to critically examine any deep-rooted beliefs about the nature of reality that you may have, to prompt you to really question them, to be sceptical about them.
Do you believe you are an insignificant bunch of atoms in a vast, meaningless, purposeless universe? Do you believe that the laws and constants of physics are immutable and not subject to evolution? Do you believe that mind is reducible to matter and its physical interactions? Do you believe that you are a puppet on strings, a sort of automaton with no personal agency whatsoever? Do you believe that consciousness or free will are just an elaborate illusion? Do you believe that time is not real?
Now, from a scientific point of view – what if I told you that the Clockwork Universe model of reality turns out to be … a little bit outdated? What if this model, which is essentially based on materialism, Cartesian reductionism, Laplacian determinism, classical physics and local-realism has already been superseded? And with this I mean that not only have most of its premises been falsified (which is a very important point), but also that its domain of validity has been shown to be extremely limited. How can we justify the extrapolation of such a restrictive model outside of its domain of application? What is the rationale behind using these outdated assumptions about reality to study complex, non-linear, non-isolated systems, to study life, human or animal behaviour, consciousness, the Universe as a whole… to study Nature itself?
What if this model of reality has got it all inside out and upside down? What if it turns out there really is no evidence which supports the premises of local realism, determinism, materialism and scientific reductionism? Ask yourself… what if? What if the truly fundamental elements of reality are not some immutable physical laws, space-time and matter, but instead they are, say, information, free will, time and evolution? How would you picture yourself in a completely different model of the universe? If you happen to subscribe to the Clockwork Universe paradigm – apart from maybe some of its most controversial conclusions – the question is: can you open your mind just enough to be able to seriously consider other possible world views, including those world views that you may currently find ridiculous or unlikely? Are you going to let prejudice or belief-blindness get in the way of possibly gaining a new perspective?
“I would rather have a mind opened by wonder than one closed by belief.” Gerry Spence
“Those whose minds are jammed with prejudice have room for little else. Growth is dead. Learning is gridlocked.” Gerry Spence
Do you know what happens when a scientific or philosophical world view is still widely held in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary? Well, such world view can only be described as pure dogma, as a belief system… it has moved from the realm of science into the realm of superstition.
“Although science is now superseding the mechanistic world view, the mechanistic theory of nature has shaped the modern world, underlies the ideology of technological progress, and is still the official orthodoxy of science.” Rupert Sheldrake
Let me ask you a very important question. Why should you ever deny the value and importance of your own personal experience, of your intuition, of what you discover through deep introspection, of what you learn not by looking outside, but by focusing your attention within? Your own subjective experience, your own consciousness, is the most important tool you have to learn about the world! In fact, it can be argued that it is the only tool you have to learn about the world!
I would like to challenge you to leave aside any logical arguments for the moment, to leave aside any premises and assumptions, to leave aside any beliefs or disbeliefs you may have, to leave aside what your biology, psychology or physics textbooks may have told you about the nature of your own being, about the nature of your own awareness, your own feelings, thoughts and emotions – and concentrate instead on what you intuitively feel to be true and fundamental about yourself.
Why should you give credit to anybody (and this includes your own left-brain) who denies the existence of the most fundamental aspects of your own being and the most fundamental aspects of your own experience – such as consciousness, free will and time, which you experience every single day of your life? Why should you belief anybody who tells you that you are just a robot living in a kind of cosmic puppet-show?
“Cogito Ergo Sum” (I think, therefore I am) – René Descartes
“You say: I am not free. But I have raised and lowered my arm. Everyone understands that this illogical answer is an irrefutable proof of freedom.” Leo Tolstoy. War & Piece
Why should you pay any attention to anybody else’s dogmatic belief system, be it a scientist, a teacher, a philosopher, a politician, a priest, a monk? In particular, why should you pay attention to anybody who refuses to let go of an outdated world view, that is, anybody who keeps using assumptions about reality which have already been falsified by modern science.
And most importantly, why should you believe that reality need be synonymous with a map of the world which deeply conflicts with your own personal subjective experience, with what you experience every single moment of your life?
Here is a little gem for you. These are Robert Anton Wilson’s words, not mine. They are quoted from one of his talks (check out Omega Point’s awesome video to listen to the man himself):
“Never believe fully in anybody else’s belief system. […] I don’t care who it is. Don’t swallow their belief system totally. Don’t accept all of their bullshit totally. The second rule is like onto the first: don’t believe totally in your own BS. Which means that as Bucky Fuller said ‘The universe consists of non-simultaneously apprehended events. NON-simultaneously! The universe consists of non-simultaneously apprehended events! Which means any belief system or reality tunnel you’ve got right now is gonna have to be revised & updated as you continue to apprehend new events later in time, non simultaneously. […] But once you have a belief system everything that comes in either gets ignored if it doesn’t fit the belief system, or it gets distorted enough so that it can fit into the belief system. You’ve got to be continuously revising your map of the world.” Robert Anton Wilson
When physicists, neurobiologists, psychologists, philosophers… anybody who claims to study the nature of reality or the nature of mind… When any of these people – no matter who they are, no matter how many books or papers they have written, no matter how many awards they have won… – when these people keep using the same outdated, 17th 18th 19th century mechanistic, deterministic, reductionistic models of reality to derive their theories about how your mind or the world works, to tell you that you are basically a puppet on strings, or that you are just a piece of complicated machinery, that your consciousness or your free will are an illusion… well… take their theories with a rather large pinch of salt! See these theories and models for what they really are. They are theories based on very outdated maps of the world which no longer serve us any purpose. Maps of the world which do nothing but keep us going round in circles. Maps of the world which unfortunately have turned into a rigid, limiting belief system.
Physicist Paul Davies summarises this problem in just a couple of sentences:
“It is often said that physicists invented the mechanistic-reductionist philosophy, taught it to the biologists, and then abandoned it themselves. It cannot be denied that modern physics has a strongly holistic, even teleological flavour.” Paul Davies
Take Werner Heisenberg for instance. Like most of the founders of quantum theory, he realised that applying reductionism and other classical assumptions to the modelling of consciousness or the study of psychological phenomena was probably not a very good idea:
“[…] the existence of quantum theory has changed our attitude from what was believed in the nineteenth century. During that period some scientists were inclined to think that the psychological phenomena could ultimately be explained on the basis of physics and chemistry of the brain. From the quantum-theoretical point of view, there is no reason for such an assumption. […] for an understanding of psychic phenomena we would start from the fact that the human mind enters as object and subject into the scientific process of psychology.” Werner Heisenberg
Physicist Erwin Schrödinger elaborated extensively on these same concepts. Western science cannot explain consciousness because it has excluded the self from its map of the world. By rejecting Cartesian dualism while attempting to explain the world in purely materialistic terms, Western science has trapped itself into another corner:
“[…] a moderately satisfying picture of the world has only been reached at the high price of taking ourselves out of the picture, stepping back into the role of a non-concerned observer. […] The material world has only been constructed at the price of taking the self, that is, mind, out of it, removing it; mind is not part of it; obviously, therefore, it can neither act on it nor be acted on by any of its parts. […] our science – Greek science – is based on objectivation, whereby it has cut itself off from an adequate understanding of the Subject of Cognitanze, of the mind. But I do believe that this is precisely the point where our present way of thinking does need to be amended […]”
More recently, theoretical physicist & philosopher Bernard d’Espagnat has also made his views quite clear on the fact that modern philosophers and scientists need to stop clinging onto outdated notions about reality and start listening instead to what modern science is telling us about the fundamental nature of reality and our relationship with it:
“Nowadays, any tentative philosophical approach to a world-view should take information coming from contemporary physics into account quite seriously. […] Some philosophers do still make unrestricted use of classical notions of quite a general nature, such as locality or distinguishability, taken to be obvious ever since Galileo’s and Newton’s times. Most of them do so without realising that the domains of validity of such notions are known, nowadays, to be severely limited. […] Quantum physics […] imparts to all objects such a status relative to the sentient beings that we are. It is true that some physicists strove to revert to a more classically objective standpoint but they had such serious obstacles to circumvent that […] the outcome of their quest has finally to be considered unsatisfactory.” Bernard d’Espagnat, On Physics and Philosophy
And last but not least, I would like to quote Richard Feynman’s words once again…
"A philosopher once said: 'It is necessary for the very existence of science that the same conditions always produce the same result'. … Well, they don't! […] In fact, it is necessary for the very existence of science that minds exist which do not allow that nature must satisfy some preconceived conditions, like those of our philosopher!"
“Nature isn't classical dammit!” Richard Feynman
As we’ll explore later on in quite a lot of depth, modern science has inevitably shaken the foundations of the Clockwork Universe world view. It is quite clear that the outdated metaphor “the Universe is a giant clock” needs to be replaced by another metaphor which can successfully describe a new world view that takes into account all the experimental evidence uncovered during the past century.
Not only that, but any new paradigm should also take into account our direct experience of the world, that is, what we know to be true via direct introspection. Consciousness, free will, the perception or awareness of change, our experience of the now moment in time… These are fundamental elements of our experience that cannot continue to be brushed under the carpet, they cannot continue to be ignored, denied or explained away.
As far as today’s science is concerned, there doesn’t seem to be a consensus as to what this new metaphor might be. While some scientists are still desperately clinging onto some of the old premises and have come up with semi-classical theories or hypothesis, others are ready to move on, to completely let go of each and every one of the classical assumptions about reality. As you may have guessed, I am mostly interested in exploring this last option.
So what options do we have? Well, there are definitely very promising candidates! As we’ll see, the expressions “the Universe is a giant computer”, or “reality is information” or even “the Universe is a virtual reality or a simulation” are metaphors used to designate models of reality which are taken quite seriously by many or today’s scientists and philosophers. It cannot be denied that, fundamentally, the virtual reality hypothesis is nothing but a modern version of what the philosophers and mystics of all ages and traditions have been telling us for thousands and thousands of years… What if life is nothing but a very persistent dream?
“We are asleep. Our Life is a dream. But we wake up sometimes, just enough to know that we are dreaming.” Ludwig Wittgenstein
2. THE STUFF THAT DREAMS ARE MADE ON…
“We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.”
William Shakespeare, The Tempest
Now, let me take you on a little journey. Have you ever woken up inside a dream? Have you ever become lucid while dreaming? Have you ever been in a dream, suddenly realised that you were dreaming and from then on experienced full waking awareness while inside the dream? If you haven’t, I recommend you give lucid dreaming a try; it can be such an eye-opening experience, and it also has many practical applications. Some people are natural lucid dreamers, but in general, one can learn how to lucid dream by using very simple techniques. Being interested as I am in the nature of reality, I am of course very interested in exploring the nature of dreams.
So, during my first lucid dreaming experiences, I decided to investigate the foundations of dreaming itself; I wanted to find out what dreams really are at the core. What is the stuff that dreams are made of? Is there such a thing as matter in a dream? And if so, what is its nature and its relationship to mind? Could I build a particle accelerator inside a dream? What would I measure if I smashed dreamed particles against other dreamed particles? What is the basis of experience in a dream? What is the basis of sound, vision, touch or pain inside a dream? What is the origin of sensation in the absence of external physical stimuli?
I was determined to find the answer to all of these important questions (alright… I haven’t got to the particle accelerator bit yet…¬¬). Well, what I experienced each time I became lucid felt so real that, after waking up from my dreams, I often felt deeply confused and disoriented. Depending on my level of lucidity, these dreamed realities could feel more tangible, more authentic, more real than waking life. In essence, my adventures in lucid-dream land seemed to be showing me that there wasn’t any fundamental difference between the stuff dreams are made of and the stuff waking life is made of.
In my dreams – if I wanted to – I could experience the solidity of matter, I could experience vision, touch, sound, taste, pain…! Like someone who was experiencing a new world for the first time, I was mesmerised by the most mundane things, I was fascinated by the smallest details in all sorts of familiar objects, I examined textures, colours, shapes and patterns in tables, curtains, carpets, doors, grass blades, bricks, flower petals, stones, tree trunks! …. I performed the most rigorous tests; I knocked on doors to test whether they were solid or to check if they made a sound, I even interacted with what seemed like an exact replica of my cat, I stroked her fur, I examined her whiskers, her skin, her paws, her tail to the nearest detail… Everything, and I mean everything, felt as real and as vivid and detailed as in waking life.
Do you want to know the most remarkable – if somewhat unsettling – thought that went through my mind after each of these experiences? Funnily enough, my thoughts were not along the lines of “wow, my brain is such an amazing organ, it can recreate all of this stuff as if it was the real world out there! What an incredible piece of machinery”…
Quite the contrary! In fact, my amazement was in realising that there was a very real possibility – no matter how strange or ridiculous it might seem – that my waking life was essentially made of the same stuff my dreams were made of, that there was no fundamental difference whatsoever between the two. In essence, my experiences consisted of a bunch of qualia, a bunch of subjective, consciously integrated moments; ultimately, it could all be described as a data stream, as information being processed within my own mind!
“Dreams pass into the reality of action. From the actions stems the dream again; and this interdependence produces the highest form of living.” Anaïs Nin
Just as importantly, I realised that the subject of experience, the entity that I called “I” was not really a separate object, that it was not limited to being a character inside a dream, but that elusive “I”, at its very core, was both the director and the player, it was the awareness which existed beyond the dreamscape, beyond the reference frame where the dream was taking place.
Not only that, but that “I” was also the provider of the dreamscape, “I” was the actual stage where the movie was being played. “I” was director, player and stage all at the same time! At the most fundamental level, “I” wasn’t just the character’s body or the character’s brain, “I” was consciousness! “I” was creator, participator and observer all at the same time!
“There's a part of me making, creating the perceptions […]; there's another part of me which is a kind of observer. About half of the pleasure comes from the observer-part appreciating the work of the creator-part.” Carl Sagan, as Mr X, “Marihuana reconsidered”
So, if at its core, what I called “I” could only be described as consciousness, and this “I” was definitely not emerging from inside a dreamed brain located inside a dreamed character’s body, could it be that this “I”, this consciousness, was not originating from my physical brain either?
After all, the only difference between my waking life and my dreams seemed to be related to the constraints I was subject to in each reality frame, but the substrate, the medium, the framework within which all those events were taking place didn’t need to be an external and independent world made of physical space-time and matter, but it seemed that all that was needed was a subject of experience, all that was needed was a mind…
“Our truest life is when we are in our dreams awake.” Henry David Thoreau
But what about all the objects that appeared in my dreams? What was their true nature? Were they objective and external to me? When viewed from the dream character’s limited perspective, they definitely looked like separate, independent material objects. And they certainly appeared external to me… And yet, when viewed from the dreamer’s perspective it was clear that the all the contents in the dream, including all the material objects, were simply an experience within my mind. These objects were not objectively real but subjectively real.
“Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.” Carl Jung
They could not be said to be things-in-themselves, but their form was somehow dependent on my awareness of them, on an intricate net of relationships within mind-space to which my dream character was also intimately connected. The apparently localised material objects, including my dreamed character’s body, were in fact parts of a larger whole, nodes in a net which was nothing but an integrated conscious experience taking place in the dreamer’s mind, they were parts of a larger whole which was so much more than the sum of all these objectified parts.
The fabric of my dreams consisted of sensation, perception, qualia, information… which somehow turned into an integrated conscious experience, a unified whole that could not be divided into isolated or independently existing parts. All the material objects in my dreams, including my character’s body and brain existed only as an experience in a much larger consciousness, my consciousness, the dreamer’s consciousness.
The observer had somehow become the observed. The observer was essentially observing itself from a particular point of view, it was experiencing the contents of its own mind through a much limited perspective, the perspective of a localised object. But it was clear that object and subject were ultimately not separate, that they were parts of an interconnected, non-separable whole.
Have you ever experienced your dreamed realities from outside of your dream character’s perspective? In dreams it is quite easy to switch your point of awareness, to experience the dreamed reality from, say, a bird’s eye perspective, or from a fly-on-the-wall perspective, seeing yourself from outside of your dream character’s body – from above, from the side, from behind… Just as if you were the camera filming the scenes of a movie, momentarily stepping out of your character’s location and instead moving your point of awareness somewhere else …
Even more fascinating is the idea that one can temporarily experience reality from someone else’s perspective by somehow becoming one with them. Can you imagine what it would be like to experience someone else’s perceptions, thoughts, feelings and emotions from a first person perspective? Think about it… What would it be like to see red, to taste wine, to listen to music or to experience love or a broken heart as different person?
Well, it turns out this is something for which there is a substantial amount of anecdotal evidence. For thousands of years, people have reported being able to transcend the limits of the personal or egoic self when in certain altered states of consciousness, not just in dream-like states but also in meditative states, those states associated with out of body or near-death experiences, or those states induced by the use of psychedelics, for instance.
Imagine being able to experience reality as if your awareness was no longer limited to the confines of your body. Can you imagine being able to experience what it feels like be your mother or to be your twin, what it feels like to be a slave or a pharaoh who lived thousands of years ago? Can you imagine being able to feel what it is like to be a tree, a flower, a bee, a snake, or a platypus! What it feels like to be the Amazon rainforest, to be planet Earth, the Milky Way Galaxy, to be the whole Universe!
Imagine being able to de-localise, to expand your awareness to the point of becoming one with the Cosmos, with Nature itself! And then, imagine being able to move back to the other end of the spectrum so that you can localise your awareness to any particular space-time region at will, be it somewhere within your own body, somebody else’s body or even that of an inanimate object.
Few people can describe the experience of becoming one with an ordinary object with the eloquence of Aldous Huxley, as he did in his book “The Doors of Perception” – who would have known that becoming one with the legs of a chair could be such a life-changing experience…
“The legs, for example, of that chair–how miraculous their tubularity, how supernatural their polished smoothness! I spent several minutes–or was it several centuries?–not merely gazing at those bamboo legs, but actually being them—or rather being myself in them; or, to be still more accurate […] being my Not-self in the Not-self which was the chair.” Aldous Huxley, The Doors of Perception
As fascinating as these ideas seemed to me when considering the nature of dreams – and by extension, when considering the nature of other altered states of consciousness, such as those induced by meditation or the use of psychedelics – the million dollar question then was…. Could I possibly extrapolate this same logic to what we call ordinary states of consciousness – that is – waking life, physical reality itself…??
No matter how fanciful or crazy this thought appeared to be, my intuition kept pulling me in that direction. Not only my intuition, but most importantly, all the scientific evidence related to the study of ESP seemed to support this idea. Remote viewing, for instance, is a controlled shifting in the localisation of one’s awareness which can be achieved in the normal waking state of consciousness. Non-local information is perceived as if somehow one’s awareness has been transported at will to another space-time location.
But if my waking life was fundamentally not different from a dream or what many would call a hallucinated reality, the implications were overwhelming… Ultimately, who or what was this entity we call “I”? Who or what was the dreamer of my life, of everybody else’s lives? Who or what was dreaming the Universe? What was the true nature of the Self then?
I knew very well what the mechanistic answer to this question was. According to the clockwork universe world view, the universe was made of objectively real, separate material objects interacting with each other locally, according to the classical laws of physics. I was just a complicated machine, a separate, independent object made of matter; a complex arrangement of ever-changing particles following deterministic laws. Nothing more, nothing less.
In the clockwork universe, I was built from the bottom-up, from the parts to the whole, and I existed in a world that was completely external to me. In such a mechanistic, reductionistic universe, any sense of personal agency I had could only be an elaborate illusion. Eliminative materialists would even say that consciousness is an illusion. And yet, my direct subjective experience would tell me otherwise. It was telling me that this worldview was fundamentally flawed, that it was inside out and upside-down.
Direct introspection was showing me that the illusion was not related to the existence of a Self, whatever it was, because that Self, that overwhelming sense of I-am-ness, was always and had always been there. Subjective experience was telling me that, without a shadow of a doubt, the Self, the “I” did exist; and I felt very strongly that this Self was not built from the bottom up – separate parts somehow assembled to make a whole – but that this “I” had evolved from the top down – it was a whole that, through evolution, had differentiated itself into several parts – parts that could not be disconnected, that could never be separated from the whole.
Despite the inexistence of clearly defined, separate objects or subjects of experience, I could intuitively feel that there was indeed such a thing as personal agency, such a thing as intent, such a thing as downward causation, and such a thing as free will, and I realised that these ideas presented no conflict when one looked at the world as an evolving unified whole, a whole which had always preceded its parts, not the other way around. Despite its different forms, the “I” had always and would always be unified wholeness at its very core.
It seemed that the ways in which this “I” could be experienced, what could be seen as different identities of the Self, could be mapped to a kind of onion-layered reality; in this sense, the Self existed not as a clearly defined separate object or subject, but in its process of differentiation, the whole had evolved to exist also as an incredibly large number of parts, all of which remained intimately connected to each other and which of course could only be understood contextually, as elements that had originated within the whole.
The Self, whatever its temporary form, was ultimately identical with the whole world, Nature itself. Nature was not a separate external world, but it was at its most fundamental level the inner world of experience, it was awareness, sensation, perception, qualia, information: it was at its core undivided, unbounded consciousness.
Theoretical physicist David Bohm’s ideas come to mind here… He saw the totality of existence as an unbroken whole, as undivided wholeness. Just as every portion of a hologram contains the image of a whole, everything that we conceptualise as an objectified or localised portion or region of the Universe is actually and unfoldment of the whole, “in some sense, each localised region, contains a total structure ‘enfolded’ within it…”
He further elaborates:
“[…] man is a microcosm of the universe; therefore what man is, is a clue to the universe. We are enfolded in the universe.”
“Individuality is only possible if it unfolds from wholeness.”
“I would say that in my scientific and philosophical work, my main concern has been with understanding the nature of reality in general and of consciousness in particular as a coherent whole, which is never static or complete but which is an unending process of movement and unfoldment…”
“Man's general way of thinking of the totality, i.e. his general world view, is crucial for overall order of the human mind itself. If he thinks of the totality as constituted of independent fragments, then that is how his mind will tend to operate, but if he can include everything coherently and harmoniously in an overall whole that is undivided, unbroken and without border (for every border is a division or break) then his mind will tend to move in a similar way, and from this will flow an orderly action within the whole.”
“The notion that all these fragments are separately existent is evidently an illusion, and this illusion cannot do other than lead to endless conflict and confusion. Indeed, the attempt to live according to the notion that the fragments are really separate is, in essence, what has led to the growing series of extremely urgent crises that is confronting us today.”
Just like in our dreams, the Self, Nature, is fundamentally a whole which constantly localises and de-localises itself, or in Bohm’s words, reality involves a continuous process of enfoldment and unfoldment. Nature’s point of awareness can become expanded to embrace the whole of existence or, alternatively, it can become focalised into its parts – autonomous parts that are nonetheless interdependent, non-separable, interconnected. Hence, from this perspective, is not personal agency that would be an illusion, but the illusion would be rooted in the feeling of separateness of the Self, this feeling of disconnection that this “I” may temporarily experience, a kind of ill side effect resulting partly from the temporary localisation of its awareness.
And this illusion seems to solidify even more through the process of objectivation of reality, this tendency we have whereby we conceptualise reality as being made of independent, separate, localised, well-defined objects, including our own bodies and our own individual minds. We tend to constantly build conceptual boundaries, through language or through our constant attempt to quantify, compartmentalise reality – as we do when creating our mathematical models for instance – and these conceptual boundaries, we take them so seriously, that we eventually can’t help it but think of them as real existing barriers. We tend to confuse the world with our maps of the world, and this inevitably leads us to the illusion that the world is made of objects which exist independently from subjective experience and independently from all cognitive frames of reference.
Subject and object, internal and external, the inner world of experience and the outer physical world are ultimately one inseparable whole. This feeling of separateness – this feeling of being a limited and firmly localised awareness in space-time, separate from what we conceptualise as an external, independent, objective world “out there” – it can only be a temporary illusion.
I would like to end this video with another little gem… What follows is extracted from one of Alan Watts’s talks:
“I wonder what you mean when you use the word “I”. I have been very interested in this problem for a long long time; and I have come to the conclusion that what most civilised people mean by that word is a hallucination, that is to say, a false sense of personal identity that is at complete variance with the facts of Nature. And as a result of having a false sense of identity we act in a way that is inappropriate to our natural environment, and when that inappropriate way of action is magnified by a very powerful technology we swiftly begin to see the results of a profound discord between man and Nature.
[…] and we have not realised therefore that our environment is not something other than ourselves. In assuming that it is we have made a great mistake and are now paying the price for it. […] because we have the strong sensation that our own being inside our skin is extremely different from the world outside our skin. That while there may be intelligence inside human skins and while there may be values and loving feelings, outside the skin is a world of mechanical process which does give a damn about any individual and which is basically unintelligent […]. But it does not occur, you see, to the ordinary civilised person to regard himself – or herself – as an expression of the whole universe. […]
You go with your environment in the same way as your head goes with the rest of your body. […] But in the ordinary way, we don’t feel it; that is to say, we don’t have a vivid sensation of belonging to our environment in the same way that we have a sensation of being an ego inside a bag of skin located mostly in the skull, about half way between the ears and a little way behind the eyes. And it issues in these disastrous results of the ego which, according to nineteenth-century common sense, feels that it is a fluke in Nature and that if it does not fight Nature it will not be able to maintain its status as intelligent fluke. […]
Using symbols and using conscious intelligence – scanning (Nature) – has proved very useful to us. It has given us such technology as we have, but at the same time it has proven too much of a good thing. At the same time we’ve become so fascinated with it that we confuse the world as it is with the world as it is thought about, talked about and figured about, that is to say, with the world as it is described. And the difference between these two is vast. And when we are not aware of ourselves except in a symbolic way, we are not related to ourselves at all. We are like people eating menus instead of dinners. […] So then we get back to the question of ‘What do we mean by “I”?’. Well first of all, obviously, we mean our symbol of ourselves. Now, ourselves in this case, is the whole psychophysical organism, conscious and unconscious, plus its environment. That’s your real Self. Your real Self, in other words, is the Universe as centered on your organism. That’s you. […] You are not a puppet which your environment pushes around, nor is the environment a puppet which you push around. They go together, they act together.[…] We are only rarely aware of this as when in curious alterations of consciousness which we call mystical experience, cosmic consciousness… An individual gets the feeling that everything that is happening is his own doing, or the opposite of that feeling, that he isn’t doing anything; but that all his doings – his decisions and so forth – are happenings of Nature. You can feel it either way. You can describe it in this two completely opposite ways but you are talking about the same experience. You are talking about experiencing your own activity and the activity of Nature as one single process. […]
3. FINAL THOUGHTS…
There are so many ways to describe or to model reality… While I certainly love to challenge the status quo, the last thing I would want here to fall into another dogmatic trap. My aim is to challenge ideas… and to explore alternative ideas; ideas that make more sense to me, ideas that perhaps agree a bit more with my personal subjective experience, with what I feel life may ultimately be all about, I guess…
All I want is just to share my thoughts, to share my journey… I think we all go through it and, sometimes, some of us are kind of a bit nerdy about it all and lose a few nights of sleep thinking about these things. So I think, after all, it is just worth sharing it… it is something that… What’s the point me thinking every single day about what it’s all about if I don’t share my journey with anybody? And hopefully – I don’t know – I can bring a smile to your face with my videos, I can just send you maybe a little shot of inspiration and a little sense of awe, of wonder… And if I can achieve that then I think I have achieved something.
I am not here to convince anybody of anything. This is not what I am about at all. There is no point, there is no benefit whatsoever in trying to change somebody’s belief or disbelief system; but I think it’s really important to always push boundaries, to explore the fringes, to look at the validity of those ideas that are currently ignored or even ridiculed by mainstream science. And perhaps make some people feel a little bit uncomfortable along the way; yeah, give them a little push so that, at the very least, they can have a little uncomfortable swim in the cognitive dissonance swimming pool… That is always a good thing. This is the most important thing; to continue to re-evaluate our values, our story of the world, our description of the world, our models of the world.
Perhaps one of the most important things to remember is – as Werner Heisenberg said – “Not only is the Universe stranger than we think, it is stranger than we can think.”
We are born, we grow up, we learn, we fear, we love, we succeed, we fail, we endure, we suffer… And throughout all this, we can’t help but wonder: what is all this struggle for? Because deep down, what each and every one of us wants is an answer to the question: “Who am I?”, “What am I here for?”, “What is the purpose of my life?”, “How can I be happier?”, “How can I make a difference?” “What is the meaning of existence?”… Ask yourself: If I look back at my life right now, knowing that I may die tomorrow, “Will I be happy and at piece with the way I have grown and learned and changed?”, ”Will I be happy with the way I have treated others?”, “Will I be happy with the way people will remember me?”…
One of the most important elements here is being able to ask ourselves this question: from what framework, from what world view, from what perspective are we going to attempt to answer these questions? From a framework based on dogma, blind belief, superstition and close mindedness? Or from a framework based on open minded scepticism, our own subjective experience, direct introspection, and of course, all the available scientific evidence? – and this includes all the evidence that may be currently ignored or ridiculed by the mainstream. Do your own research… the information is out there, and of course, in here. Always be sceptical when new information comes in, try to always stay away from complete belief and disbelief… Evaluate the data, keep an open mind and try to consider all possibilities without prejudice or preconceptions. So yeah… trust your intuition and always – always – follow your heart.
“Begin challenging your own assumptions. Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won’t come in.” Alan Alda
Well… I hope you have enjoyed this video. In the next video in this series I will probably ramble a little bit more about dreams, will discuss ideas involving feedback loops, valves and whirlpools, I will cover some of the ideas behind systems thinking, self-reference and self-organisation and try to tie all that with some of the ideas already introduced in this video, such as the idea of localisation and expansion of awareness, the nature of self-awareness, consciousness and much much more… Don’t forget to like, subscribe, share and comment! And if you enjoy my channel, it would be awesome if you could help support it with a little contribution – no matter how small, it will be greatly appreciated.
I will leave you with the thoughts of some of the greatest physicists of last century… the brilliant minds who founded and contributed to one of the major revolutions in modern science. Their words are powerful, meaningful and convey an important message that, I hope, has not been lost along the way… Thank you so much for watching!
“A human being is a part of the whole, called by us ‘Universe’, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest—a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.” Albert Einstein
[…] there is a third stage of religious experience […] rarely found in a pure form: I shall call it cosmic religious feeling. It is very difficult to elucidate this feeling to anyone who is entirely without it, especially as there is no anthropomorphic conception of God corresponding to it. The individual feels the futility of human desires and aims and the sublimity and marvelous order which reveal themselves both in nature and in the world of thought. Individual existence impresses him as a sort of prison and he wants to experience the universe as a single significant whole. […] The religious geniuses of all ages have been distinguished by this kind of religious feeling, which knows no dogma and no God conceived in man’s image; so that there can be no church whose central teachings are based on it. […] How can cosmic religious feeling be communicated from one person to another if it can give rise to no definite notion of a God and no theology? In my view, it is the most important function of art and science to awaken this feeling and keep it alive in those who are receptive to it.” Albert Einstein
“[As] inconceivable as it seems to ordinary reason, you – and all other conscious beings as such – are all in all. Hence this life of yours which you are living is not merely a piece of the entire existence, but is in a certain sense the whole; only this whole is not so constituted that it can be surveyed in one single glance. […] Thus you can throw yourself flat on the ground, stretched out upon Mother Earth, with the certain conviction that you are one with her and she with you.” Erwin Schrödinger
"[…] we have entirely taken to thinking of the personality of a human being […] as located in the interior of the body. To learn that it cannot really be found there is so amazing that it meets with doubt & hesitation, we are very loath to admit it […] we have got used to localising the conscious personality inside a person’s head – I should say an inch or two behind the midpoint of the eyes […] It is very difficult for us to take stock of the fact that the localisation of the personality, of the conscious mind, inside the body is only symbolic, just an aid for practical use […]” Erwin Schrödinger
“There is obviously only one alternative, namely the unification of minds or consciousness. Their multiplicity is only apparent, in truth there is only one mind.” Erwin Schrödinger
“Each of us has the indisputable impression that the sum total of his own experience and memory forms a unit, quite distinct from that of any other person. He refers to it as 'I'. What is this 'I’? If you analyse it closely you will, I think, find that it is just a little bit more than a collection of single data (experiences and memories), namely the canvas upon which they are collected. And you will, on close introspection, find that what you really mean by 'I' is that ground-stuff upon which they are collected. […]” Erwin Schrödinger
“The reason why our sentient, percipient and thinking ego is met nowhere within our scientific world picture can easily be indicated in seven words: because it is itself that world picture. It is identical with the whole and therefore cannot be contained in it as a part of it.” Erwin Schrödinger
“Consciousness is a singular of which the plural is unknown; that there is only one thing and that what seems to be a plurality is merely a series of different aspects of this one thing.” Erwin Schrödinger
"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” Max Planck
“There is no matter as such – mind is the matrix of all matter.” Max Planck
“Science cannot solve the ultimate mystery of nature. And that is because, in the last analysis, we ourselves are part of nature and therefore part of the mystery that we are trying to solve.” Max Planck
“There have been times when science and philosophy were alien, if not actually antagonistic to each other. These times have passed… scientists have learned that the starting-point of their investigations does not lie solely in the perceptions of the senses, and that science cannot exist without some small portion of metaphysics. Modern Physics impresses us particularly with the truth of the old doctrine which teaches that there are realities existing apart from our sense-perceptions, and that there are problems and conflicts where these realities are of greater value for us than the richest treasures of the world of experience.” Max Planck
“[The] ideal clear-sightedness of the spiritual eye, in seeing behind the various processes of physical nature, is due exclusively to the fact that the nature of the physical world in this case is something that is fashioned by the mind of the observer himself… The epistemological difficulties which have arisen in the sphere of theoretical physics through the development of quantum theory seem to be due to the fact that the bodily eye of the measuring physicist has been identified with the spiritual eye of the speculative scientist. As a matter of fact, the bodily eye, being part of the physical process of nature itself, is the object rather than the subject of scientific exploration. For as every act of research measurement has a more or less causal influence on the very process that is under observation, it is practically impossible to separate the law that we are seeking to discover behind the happening itself from the methods that are being used to bring about the discovery.” Max Planck
“Natural science and the intellectual sciences cannot be rigorously separated. They form a single inter-connected system […] the nature of any system cannot be discovered by dividing it into its component parts and studying each part by itself […]. We must keep our attention fixed on the whole and on the inter-connection between the parts.” Max Planck
“Can we logically set up against our self-consciousness a ‘Nature’ independent of it? Are not all so-called natural laws really nothing more or less than expedient rules with which we associate the run of our perceptions as exactly and conveniently as possible? If that were so, it would follow that not only ordinary common sense, but also exact natural research, have been fundamentally at fault from the beginning; for it is impossible to deny that the whole of the present-day development of physical knowledge works towards as far-reaching a separation as possible of the phenomena in external Nature from those in human consciousness.” Max Planck
At a dinner table conversation between Max Planck and Countess Stella Andrassy, she asked Planck what he thought would be the next frontier in science, to which he replied: “Why my dear lady, there is no question but that it will be the study of consciousness!”
"I consider those developments in physics during the last decades which have shown how problematical such concepts as "objective" and "subjective" are, a great liberation of thought. […] We have come a long way from the classical ideal of objective descriptions. […] The objective world of nineteenth-century science was, as we know today, an ideal, limiting case, but not the whole reality." Niels Bohr
“Everything we call real is made of things that cannot be regarded as real.” Niels Bohr
“The impossibility of distinguishing in our customary way between physical phenomena and their observation places us, indeed, in a position quite similar to that which is so familiar in psychology where we are continually reminded of the difficulty of distinguishing between subject and object.” Niels Bohr
“[…] the necessity of considering the interaction between measuring instruments and the object under investigation in atomic mechanics corresponds closely to the peculiar difficulties, met with in psychological analyses, which arise from the fact that the mental content is invariably altered when the attention is concentrated on any single feature of it.” Niels Bohr
“[…] the use which we make of the words like ‘thought’ and ‘feeling’, or ‘instinct’ and ‘reason’ to describe psychic experiences of different types, shows the existence of characteristic relationships of complementarity conditioned by the peculiarity of introspection. Above all, just the impossibility in introspection of sharply distinguishing between subject and object as is essential to the idea of causality would seem to provide the natural play for the feeling of free will.” Niels Bohr
“Just as the freedom of will is an experiential category of our psychic life, causality may be considered as a mode of perception by which we reduce our sense impressions to order. […] the feeling of volition and the demand for causality are equally indispensable elements in the relation between subject and object which forms the core of the problem of knowledge […] That the physicist touches upon such questions may perhaps be excused on the ground that the new situation in physics has so forcibly reminded us of the old truth that we are both onlookers and actors in the great drama of existence.” Niels Bohr
“Admittedly, even in our future encounters with reality we shall have to distinguish between the objective and the subjective side, to make a division between the two. But the location of the separation may depend on the way things are looked at; to a certain extent it can be chosen at will.” Niels Bohr
“We can admittedly find nothing in physics or chemistry that has even a remote bearing on consciousness. Yet all of us know that there is such a thing as consciousness, simply because we have it ourselves. Hence consciousness must be a part of nature, or, more generally, of reality, which means that, quite apart from the laws of physics and chemistry, as laid down in quantum theory, we must also consider laws of quite a different kind […]” Niels Bohr
“Some physicists would prefer to come back to the idea of an objective real world whose smallest parts exist objectively in the same sense as stones or trees exist independently of whether we observe them. This however is impossible.” Werner Heisenberg
“The hope that new experiments will lead us back to objective events in time and space is about as well founded as the hope of discovering the end of the world in the unexplored regions of the Antarctic.” Werner Heisenberg
"Natural science, does not simply describe and explain nature; it is part of the interplay between nature and ourselves." Werner Heisenberg
“[…] we have to remember that we observe is not nature itself, but nature exposed to our method of questioning.[…] In this way quantum theory reminds us, as Bohr has put it, of the old wisdom that when searching for harmony in life one must never forget that in the drama of existence we are ourselves both players and spectators.” Werner Heisenberg
“Of course, we all know that our own reality depends on the structure of our consciousness; we can objectify no more than a small part of our world.” Werner Heisenberg
“[…] modern physics has perhaps opened the door to a wider outlook on the relation between the human mind and reality.” Werner Heisenberg
“[…] it will probably be necessary for an understanding of life to go beyond quantum theory and to construct a new coherent set of concepts, to which physics and chemistry may belong as ‘limiting cases’. History may be an essential part of it, and concepts like perception, adaptation, and affection also will belong to it […]” Werner Heisenberg
“Was it utterly absurd to seek behind the ordering structures of this world a ‘consciousness’ whose ‘intentions’ were these very structures? Of course, even to put this question was an anthropomorphic lapse, since the word ‘consciousness’ was, after all, based purely on human experience […] We sense that the meaning of ‘consciousness’ becomes wider and at the same time vaguer if we try to apply it outside the human realm. The positivists have a simple solution: the world must be divided into that which we can say clearly and the rest, which we had better pass over in silence. But can anyone conceive of a more pointless philosophy, seeing that what we can say clearly amounts to next to nothing? If we omitted all that is unclear, we would probably be left with completely uninteresting and trivial tautologies.” Werner Heisenberg
“Revere those things beyond science which really matter and about which it is so difficult to speak.” Werner Heisenberg
“I am now convinced that theoretical physics is actually philosophy. It has revolutionized fundamental concepts, e.g., about space and time […] about causality […], and about substance and matter […]. It has taught us new methods of thinking […], which are applicable far beyond physics.” Max Born
“We have sought for firm ground and found none. The deeper we penetrate, the more restless becomes the universe; all is rushing about and vibrating in a wild dance.” Max Born
“The belief that there is only one truth and that oneself is in possession of it, seems to me the deepest root of all that is evil in the world.” Max Born
“[The mystical experience does] try to preserve a unity of the inner experience of the ‘observer’ […] and the external processes of nature, and thus a wholeness in its contemplation – a wholeness formerly contained in the idea of the analogy between microcosm and macrocosm but […] lost in the world view of classical natural science.” Wolfgang Pauli
“[…] physics and psychology reflect again for modern man the old contrast between the quantitative and the qualitative. […] On the one hand, the idea of complementarity in modern physics has demonstrated to us, in a new kind of synthesis, that the contradiction in the applications of old contrasting conceptions (such as particle and wave) is only apparent; on the other hand, the employability of old alchemical ideas in the psychology of Jung points to a deeper unity of psychical and physical occurrences. To us […] the only acceptable point of view appears to be the one that recognises both sides of reality – the quantitative and the qualitative, the physical and the psychical – as compatible with each other, and can embrace them simultaneously.” Wolfgang Pauli
“It would be most satisfactory of all if physics and psyche could be seen as complimentary aspects of the same reality.” Wolfgang Pauli
“[…] there are paradoxical characteristics in the relationship between subject and object that have a far reaching analogy to the relationship between the means of observation and the observed system as we encounter in quantum physics […]” Wolfgang Pauli
“I believe it is the fate of the west to bring into connection, again and again, […] two fundamental viewpoints, on the one hand the critical-rational will to understand and, on the other, the mystical-irrational search for the enlightening experience of unity. In the soul of mankind both standpoints will always be present, and each will carry within it the seed of its opposite.” Wolfgang Pauli
“The attempt at a psychophysical monism seems to me now essentially more promising, given that the relevant unitary language (unknown as yet […]) would relate to a deeper invisible reality. We should then have found a mode of expression for the unity of all being, transcending the causality of classical physics as a form of correspondence (Bohr); a unity of which the psychophysical interrelation, and the coincidence of a priori instinctive forms of ideation with external perceptions, are special cases. On such a view, traditional ontology and metaphysics become the sacrifice, but the choice falls on the unity of being.” Wolfgang Pauli
“It seems to me one has to postulate a cosmic order of nature — outside of our arbitrariness— to which the outer material objects are subjected as are the inner images… The organizing and regulating has to be posited beyond the differentiation of physical and psychical… I am all for it to call this ‘organizing and regulating archetypes’. […] The nature laws of matter would then be the physical manifestation of the archetypes.” Wolfgang Pauli
“[…] contrary to the strict division of the activity of the human spirit into separate departments – a division prevailing since the nineteenth century – I consider the ambition of overcoming opposites, including also a synthesis embracing both rational understanding and the mystical experience of unity, to be the mythos, spoken or unspoken, of our present day and age.” Wolfgang Pauli
“The most modern physics, even in the finest details, can be represented symbolically as psychic processes.” Wolfgang Pauli
“More and more in relation to the situation of our time, I see the key to spiritual totality is to be found in the psycho-physical problem.” Wolfgang Pauli
Pauli Effect: a term referring to the apparently mysterious anecdotal failure of technical equipment in the presence of certain people. The Pauli effect was named after Wolfgang Pauli’s bizarre ability to break experimental equipment simply by being in the vicinity. Pauli himself was aware of his reputation, and was delighted whenever the Pauli effect manifested. He was convinced that the effect named after him was real.
“The old question whether under certain circumstances the psychical condition of the observer can have an influence on the course of external material nature finds no place in today’s physics. […] one certainly cannot say that a priori philosophical grounds are sufficient to reject such possibilities from the outset. In recent times there is an empirical parapsychology which claims to employ the approach of exact science and which works with modern experimental methods on the one hand, and modern mathematical statistics on the other. Should the positive results in the still controversial realm of ‘extrasensory perception’ (ESP) finally turn out to be true, this could lead to developments which cannot be envision today.” Wolfgang Pauli
“[…] I still want to consider briefly the controversial theme of ‘extrasensory perception’ (ESP), which constitutes a frontier of both physics and psychology and which can as reasonably be called ‘parapsychology’ as ‘biophysics’. […] This border field has elicited much interest among physicists, but also much rejection. Some speak of experimental or mathematical mistakes, others say carefully that they ‘don’t feel comfortable with it’. To the former point it can be said that as far as my knowledge extends, in the carefully conducted experiments there has been no evidence of mistakes. […] The question of the existence of ESP must therefore be decided through critical empiricism. The recent investigations of such phenomena return to importance the old question of how the psychological condition of the subject fits into external occurrences. […]” Wolfgang Pauli
“The history of science shows that the progress of science has constantly been hampered by the tyrannical influence of certain conceptions that finally came to be considered as dogma. For this reason, it is proper to submit periodically to a very searching examination, principles that we have come to assume without any more discussion.” Louis de Broglie
“[…] the nineteenth century […] saw a certain divorce taking place between scientists and philosophers […] But such a separation could only be prejudicial both to philosophy and to science […] many scientists of the present day, victims of an ingenuous realism, almost without perceiving it, have adopted a certain metaphysics of a materialistic and mechanistic character and have regarded it as the very expression of scientific truth. One of the great services that the recent evolution of physics has rendered contemporary thought, is that it has destroyed this simplified metaphysics, and with the same stroke has caused certain traditional philosophical problems to be considered in an entirely new light. Thereby the way has been prepared for a reconciliation between science and philosophy […]” Louis de Broglie
“[…] Bohr has remarked that the kind of disturbance introduced by observation into the phenomenon to be observed in microscopic Physics has a certain similarity to the difficulty met in Psychology, when it is desired to make an objective study of psychological phenomena by introspection […] Must we go still farther, and must we believe, as Bohr appears to suggest, that the new ideas of contemporary Physics will allow us to understand why it is that the classical methods of objective Science do not seem to adapt themselves with a good grace to the phenomena of the vital and of the mental order […]?” Louis de Broglie
“It is not enough to know nature experimentally or to be skilled in analysing it mathematically; above all, we must know ourselves. A general education truly worthy of the name must combine love of scientific knowledge and a deep concern for the human personality in all its complex aspects with respect for the art of living – of feeling and wishing.” Louis de Broglie
“If we wish to give philosophic expression to the profound connection between thought and action in all fields of human endeavour, particularly in science, we shall undoubtedly have to seek its sources in the unfathomable depths of the human soul. Perhaps philosophers might call it ‘love’ in a very general sense – that force which directs our actions, which is the source of all our delights and all our pursuits. […] The engineers of the future have an essential part to play in cementing this bond.” Louis de Broglie
"The universe does not exist 'out there,' independent of us. We are inescapably involved in bringing about that which appears to be happening. We are not only observers. We are participators. In some strange sense, this is a participatory universe. Physics is no longer satisfied with insights only into particles, fields of force, into geometry, or even into time and space. Today we demand of physics some understanding of existence itself." John Archibald Wheeler
“No phenomenon is a real phenomenon until it is an observed phenomenon.” John Archibald Wheeler
“There are many modes of thinking about the world around us and our place in it. I like to consider all the angles from which we might gain perspective on our amazing universe and the nature of existence.” John Archibald Wheeler
“In any field, find the strangest thing and then explore it.” John Archibald Wheeler
“We live on an island surrounded by a sea of ignorance. As our island of knowledge grows, so does the shore of our ignorance.” John Archibald Wheeler
“Behind it all is surely an idea so simple, so beautiful, that when we grasp it – in a decade, a century, or a millennium – we will all say to each other, how could it have been otherwise? How could we have been so stupid?" John Archibald Wheeler
“It will be ultimately misleading and indeed wrong to suppose, for example, that each human being is an independent actuality who interacts with other human beings and with nature. Rather, all these are projections of a single totality […]” David Bohm
“In the implicate order we have to say that mind enfolds matter in general and therefore the body in particular. Similarly, the body enfolds not only the mind but also in some sense the entire material universe.” David Bohm
“Deep down the consciousness of mankind is one” David Bohm