[God] has a primordial nature and a consequent nature. The consequent nature of God is conscious; and it is the realization of the actual world in the unity of his nature, and through the transformation of his wisdom. – Alfred North Whitehead, Process and Reality (1929)
What is the ultimate nature of reality? And how does it interact with each of us?
My last column introduced the idea of “twin ultimates,” the notion that there are two types of divinity worthy of our consideration. The first, the more fundamental type of divinity, may be referred to as the ground of being, the Source, God’s “primordial” nature (as in the Whitehead quote above), or any of a number of other names from various philosophical, scientific or spiritual traditions. The ground of being is the metaphysical soil from which all actuality grows.
The other ultimate, the Summit, lies at the opposite end of the spectrum of being and becoming. The Summit is closer to traditional western notions of God and God is as good a name as any other for this ultimate.
This essay will explore the Summit in more detail and compare Source and Summit. As with all of my essays, I appeal both to science and spirituality in my explanations. This is the case because I don’t believe there is any fundamental distinction between science, philosophy and spirituality. To be sure, there are differences in current practice and focus, but in terms of conceptual structures, if not all their methods, these endeavors should be essentially the same (“should” being the essential word here). By this I mean that the “deep science” (to use Ken Wilber’s term) that meshes science, philosophy and spirituality together relies on logic, intuition, faith and facts – recognizing that all human endeavors are a mix of these tools.
The deep science that reconciles science and spirit doesn’t ignore inconvenient facts, nor does it elevate reason above all other tools as the only source of legitimate knowledge. Deep science recognizes that all our attempts at understanding should be empirically based as much as possible, but it also recognizes that some sources of knowledge lie beyond empiricism and even beyond logic. Defining the contours of where facts and reason should give way to intuition and faith is an entirely personal matter. I tend to the intellectual and rational approach in my own explanations (particularly in these essays), while acknowledging that logic has limits; but I have no independent basis for preferring this prioritization. It’s entirely personal.
We are predisposed in thinking about the nature of solidity to think of the stuff around us as far more solid than it really is. Though it is commonly known now that we are each comprised of massive numbers of molecules and atoms, and what we think of as solid molecules and atoms are in fact extremely sparsely populated regions of space, this truth has not reverberated as far as it should. We are mostly empty space, and when I say mostly, I mean 99.999999% or more. We, as human beings, are mostly vast voids of emptiness, with tiny isolated specks of matter dispersed at distant intervals.
Moreover, we don’t even know what matter “really is.” As I wrote in an earlier essay, the mind-body problem presupposes that we’ve solved the “body problem” (the nature of matter) – but we haven’t. Is matter really condensed energy (Heisenberg) or really fields (Einstein) or tiny vibrating strings, as modern string theory suggests?
Or is matter really a projection of an underlying neutral substrate, the ground, as I argued in my last column? This means that matter arises as quantum fluctuations from the ground of being and these quantum fluctuations constitute matter but also mind. That is, each unit of nature has dual aspects of both mind and matter. The process that produces each quantum fluctuation leads, as the hierarchy of complexity is scaled, to more complex structures like gnats, rats, bats, cats and eventually humans.
This process does not, however, have to stop at the human level. Clearly there are physical structures in the universe far larger than us, such as planets, stars, galaxies, superclusters, etc., and possibly infinite universes beyond our own that comprise the grandest scale of all: the multiverse (see Brian Greene’s latest book, The Hidden Reality). Tradition suggests that there is no mind present in such supra-human organizations; they consist of mindless matter, as do sub-human levels of complexity. But this is an unjustified prejudice that results from basic philosophical mistakes at the beginning of the modern era. When we recognize that the better solution to the mind-body problem acknowledges that all matter has some type of mind attached, we recognize also that supra-human levels of organization may also have some type of mind attached.
Can the entire universe have a mind? Could the universe itself, with its vast swaths of empty space be akin to the structure of humans with our own vast swaths of empty space? I don’t know, but I do know that the conceptual structure that best explains the human level of mind does not in any way preclude the possibility of a universal mind. Let me explain in more detail.
Mind at its most basic level consists of a subject, an object and a link between the two. Consciousness necessarily implies “consciousness of.” That is, each subject must have at least one object to be a subject. And there must be some causal link between subject and object to have any such relation. At the human level, we call this causal link perception and we can explain it in purely physical terms as the transmission of information about the world around us through our senses into our internal theater, which is transformed into a picture of the world unique to each of us.
This process is not, however, limited to humans. What we call perception can legitimately be applied to an electron. The electron perceives its environment insofar as it responds to physical forces, such as gravity and electromagnetism. Why is this not normally called perception? Because “perception” implies the presence of a mind. But in the panpsychist view of the universe there is no qualitative difference between an electron’s reception of information from its environment and a human’s perception of information from her environment because each has some type of mind. The mind in both consists of the same process: a subject receiving/perceiving information from its environment. These processes are surely very different in the degree of consciousness present with such perception but the idea is that both share the same quality of a subject (however simple) receiving/perceiving the world around it.
Freeman Dyson, the Princeton physicist, stated succinctly: “[M]ind is already inherent in every electron, and the processes of human consciousness differ only in degree but not in kind from the processes of choice between quantum states which we call ‘chance’ when made by electrons.” Dyson recognized also that the process that creates mind need not stop at the human level, stating in his 1979 book, Infinite in All Directions: “I do not make any clear distinction between mind and God. God is what mind becomes when it has passed beyond the scale of our comprehension.”
God is, then, what we call mind at the level far beyond the human level. Universal mind surely deserves the name of God. This is the Summit in the system I am describing here. It is made conceptually possible due to the recognition that causality itself, which is the link between subject and object, has no limitation to the human level. Does universal consciousness operate at the same timeframe as humans? I don’t know. Does it interact with us in any significant way? I don’t know.
Perhaps this universal consciousness, if it exists, operates at a vastly slower pace. Perhaps it cares not a whit about humans or other life on other far-flung planets. But perhaps it does. Perhaps it’s not even here yet and perhaps it’s our role to bring the Summit into existence, a collective co-creation of God. I have no personal evidence of God as Summit so I remain agnostic about its existence. My key point here is to show that there is nothing particularly irrational about the idea of conscious beings at levels far higher than the human level.
Unconscious Source, Conscious Summit
It seems that the Source is itself unconscious. The Summit must, however, be conscious given the framework I’ve sketched here.
The Rig Veda, the oldest Hindu texts, supports the notion of the Source (Brahman) as unconscious:
Neither death nor immortality was there then [in the very beginning],
No sign of night or day.
That One breathed, windless, by its own energy:
Nought else existed then
In the beginning this [One] evolved,
Became desire, first seed of mind.
Wise seers, searching within their hearts,
Found the bond of Being in Not-being.
I think of the Source as pure potentiality. It is only when matter/mind bubbles up into actuality from the depths of pure potentiality that consciousness arises. Reality consists, then, in a spectrum from pure potentiality to complete actuality. This conceptual structure allows us to respect Occam’s Razor – explanations should be as simple as possible – while also explaining how complexity and consciousness arise from simplicity and non-conscious processes.
A Consistent Vision Of Science & Spirituality
Beyond the purely intellectual understanding of the Source and Summit, we should, as thinking and feeling beings, ponder what good this understanding achieves? The highest good it can achieve is a different type of knowledge than purely intellectual understanding, what can be described as gnosis. I use this Greek term, typically associated with the Gnostic sects of early Christianity and pre-Christianity, because it best typifies what West and East share in terms of a deeply emotional and spiritual understanding of the nature of God. Other terms for gnosis include satori, Samadhi, moksha, nirvana, enlightenment, or simply “awakening.”
Erwin Schrödinger, perhaps the most spiritually attuned of the major 20th Century physicists, is worth quoting at length on gnosis.
From “The I That Is God”:
I – I in the widest meaning of the word, that is to say, every conscious mind that has ever said or felt ‘I’ – am the person who controls the motion of the atoms according to the Laws of Nature…the insight is not new. The earliest records, to my knowledge, date back some 2500 years or more. From the early great Upanishads the recognition Atman = Brahman (the personal self equals the omnipresent)… was in Indian thought considered to represent the quintessence of deepest insight into the happenings of the world… Again, the mystics of many centuries, independently, yet in perfect harmony with each other (somewhat like the particles in an ideal gas) have described, each of them, the unique experience of his or her life in terms that can be condensed in the phrase: Deus factus sum (I have become God).
Looking and thinking in that manner you may suddenly come to see, in a flash, the profound rightness of the basic conviction in the Vedanta…. [I]nconceivable 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…This, as we know, is what the Brahmins express in that sacred, mystic formula which is yet really so simple and clear: Tat tvam asi, this is you… ‘I am in the east and in the west, I am below and above, I am this whole world.’
If You Could Power Your Entire Home With 60 Minutes Of Cycling, Would You Do It?
- The Facts:
Mechanical energy, converted into kinetic energy can provide the energy that we use on a regular basis to power our homes and electronic devices.
- Reflect On:
Rather than focusing on the current problems in our world it is great to change gears and have a look at all of the solutions that are popping up all over the world.
Imagine if your morning workout could power your home for the entire day, all the way until your next morning workout. Well, you may not have to imagine, as this technology exists now. Manoj Bhargava has invented a new exercise bike that can power some homes for 24 hours after use for only sixty minutes per day.
This invention was a part of a new initiative to bring electricity to places that undergo frequent power outages or may only have access to power for a few hours during the day. In our modern age, going without electricity can really separate a person from the rest of the world. Bhargava’s mission is to bridge the gap for those who suffer from poverty and make it easier for them to access the same information as the rest of the world, potentially giving them more opportunities in life.
The Free Electric
The above heading is also the name of this awesome and innovative bike serving as a solution to a pretty significant issue in the underdeveloped nations of the world.
According to Bhargava, the Free Electric is meant to lead to “better health, more leisure time, better access to education and opportunities for entrepreneurship.” He also feels that it could, “literally change the world.”
Power to change the world? Bold statement, but if this is able to be implemented worldwide, I would absolutely have to agree with him. This technology not only has the capacity to assist those in poverty, but can also be used by the rest of the world as well as more and more people around the world who are aiming to reduce their usee of fossil fuels. I have a feeling that Millennials (such as myself) and younger generations would be all over this if its made available! Not only is it a great way to get your cardio in, but it provides FREE electricity that produces no other pollution.
As mentioned in the video, it is also a great solution in the face of natural, or even man made disasters because this type of electricity would not rely on that generated and sold by power companies. Perhaps even one day a way to stock up and store this energy will be possible — then, the opportunities here will be much more plentiful and could be a huge factor in reducing the amount of pollution our current methods of energy production are creating.
The Future Is Friendly
As much as there is sometimes destruction all around us, there is also innovation and ingenuity. Human beings have tremendous potential. Even though there are many problems that we as a society are facing, solutions are popping up and fast, and in most cases they already exist. Finding solutions doesn’t seem to be the problem, so ask yourself, what is? It’s so great to see ideas such as these being conceptualized and then created and put into use so efficiently, it shows how our species is capable of stopping and potentially reversing some of the destruction that we have caused over the years.
This is absolutely a double win! We are constantly bombarded with news stories and articles that are telling us to be more active, stop sitting so much, and now with the Free Electric, we will have to be active before we can relax and enjoy the use of our precious technology.
Physicists ‘Grow’ A Man Made Diamond From Nuclear Waste That’s Able To Generate Electricity
- The Facts:
Scientists have developed a technology that can convert leftover radioactive materials into diamond batteries to power a wide range of electronics.
- Reflect On:
Could this be the solution to use op all the radioactive materials on the planet and shut down nuclear power plants worldwide?
Currently there is more than 2 billion tons of nuclear waste across the globe. This nuclear waste is a hazardous threat to the environment if not disposed of correctly. Scientists have recently begun attempting to transform nuclear waste into batteries that could last for thousands of years. If they are successful with this conversion project it would be a double win, less nuclear waste contaminating our environment, and a way to reuse energy that was generated to give power to whatever requires it.
Diamond batteries that use the energy from leftover radioactive materials have been developed and tested by researchers at the University of Bristol. They are now hoping to be able to recycle the waste leftover from decommissioned nuclear power plants in the UK. According to the University, “New technology has been developed that uses nuclear waste to generate electricity in a nuclear-powered battery….A team of physicists and chemists from the University of Bristol have grown a man-made diamond that, when placed in a radioactive field, is able to generate a small electrical current.” (source)
How Does This Work?
According to The Independent,
Carbon-14 isotopes extracted from graphite blocks produced by the plant are infused with wafer-thin diamonds to create the batteries, which researchers say are capable of providing power on a “near-infinite basis”.
Potential applications range from powering hearing aids and pacemakers, to extending the range of spacecraft to distances much further than are currently possible.
“Eventually, a highly powerful version of a diamond battery could power a mobile phone,” James Barker, from the University of Bristol’s Faculty of Engineering, told The Independent.
“Primarily though, they are best for devices requiring long lifetime, low power and where it is difficult to replace energy sources.”
In order to make these diamond batteries safe for medical and consumer use they are encased in a non-radioactive diamond layer, which will absorb any radiation given off by the C14 source.
According to the University,
Unlike the majority of electricity-generation technologies, which use energy to move a magnet through a coil of wire to generate a current, the man-made diamond is able to produce a charge simply by being placed in close proximity to a radioactive source.
Tom Scott, Professor in Materials in the University’s Interface Analysis Centre and a member of the Cabot Institute, said: “There are no moving parts involved, no emissions generated and no maintenance required, just direct electricity generation. By encapsulating radioactive material inside diamonds, we turn a long-term problem of nuclear waste into a nuclear-powered battery and a long-term supply of clean energy.”
Could This Be The Solution We’ve Been Searching For?
“The ultimate aim is to have a factory based at one of the former power stations in the South West that takes Carbon-14 isotopes directly from the graphite blocks for use in diamond batteries. This would significantly reduce the radioactivity of the remaining material, making it easier and safer to manage,” said Professor Tom Scott, director of the South West Nuclear Hub.
“With the majority of the UK’s nuclear power plants set to go offline in the next 10-15 years this presents a huge opportunity to recycle a large amount of material to generate power for so many great uses.”
Time will tell how effective this method that scientists have come up with will be able to be implemented worldwide, but if it is, just imagine the implications of what this technology could represent.
Is It Time To Move Away From Nuclear Energy?
You’d think since the Fukushima disaster there would be a worldwide agreement for countries to stop generating power from nuclear reactors and to safely shut down these plants. Nuclear disasters have devastating effects on our planet and all of it’s inhabitants, recovery from such accidents can take tens of thousands of years to lose their hazardous radioactivity. Take the Chernobyl disaster that occurred in 1986 and is now contained under a metal shell, this site will likely remain radioactive for up to 20,000 years.
Instead of waiting for these disasters to occur, shouldn’t we be safely dismantling these sites before any more devastating disasters occur? Thankfully many countries are vowing to shut down their nuclear power plants and we can only hope that the rest of the world will follow suit.
The Future Is Here
There are so many amazing technologies that have the capacity to revolutionize the way we use energy on this planet. Of course many of those are hidden from us, especially if they cannot be in some way profited from, and unfortunately as it seems, if they don’t exploit the environment and our resources in some way.
As innovative ideas abound and technology continues to rapidly develop, we have to assume that safer and more innovative means of producing electricity will be uncovered. Hopefully these technologies will also have the capacity to undo some of the damage that we have done to our planet.
At the end of the day, using nuclear energy is not needed anymore, and in reality nuclear waste should not even exist at this point in our development as a collective.
Galaxies Millions of Light Years Apart Seem To Be Connected By Invisible “Large Scale Structures”
- The Facts:
A study published in The Astrophysical Journal in October found that hundreds of galaxies were rotating in sync with the motions of galaxies that were tens of millions of light years away. This suggests that an invisible force somehow connects them.
- Reflect On:
How much of what we know, and what we think we know, is false? Are our minds open to accepting new concepts of reality that don't fit within the framework of accepted knowledge?
“We are all connected” — a statement that may evoke an eye-roll from someone you express this to. This is common when it comes to such topics, or any topic that dives into the ‘spooky’ world of quantum physics, which seems to be directly intertwined with philosophy and metaphysics in various ways. These subjects are going to really conflict with the belief systems of many, and that’s ok.
“There is nothing new to be discovered in physics now. All that remains is more and more precise measurement.” This statement was made by Lord Kelvin — a famous Scottish mathematician and physicist who contributed to many branches of physics — in 1900, and shattered only five years later when Einstein published his paper on special relativity. The new theories proposed by Einstein challenged the current framework of understanding, forcing the scientific community to open up to an alternative view of the true nature of our reality. This serves as a great example of how things that are originally taken as truth can suddenly turn out to be fiction.
This type of thing is happening quite often today, and with most of us trying to put food on the table and pay our bills, we don’t really have time to keep up with all that’s being discovered.
When it comes to the connection between all living systems, there are a number of examples one could use from many different fields of study. We see connection in all different forms, including all the way down to smallest bits of matter, the physical ‘stuff’ that our world is made up of. In quantum entanglement, for example, particles remain connected so that if you separate them, regardless of distance, whatever actions are performed on one of them affect the other. This has been seen with photons, for example.
This strange connection is not only seen at the smallest levels of the physical world, but also in large scale. This has been demonstrated by a new study published in the Astrophysical Journal last October, which found that hundreds of galaxies were rotating in sync with the motions of galaxies that were tens of millions of light years away.
This is a new discovery and a new phenomenon that came from studying 445 galaxies within 400 million light years of our planet. The observed coherence is quite astonishing, and the authors hypothesize that it must have something to do with “large scale structures” that are perhaps connecting them, causing them to move so precisely in sync as they do, especially given the fact that the galaxies observed are separated by approximately 20 million light years. Somehow they “directly interact with each other,” said Joon Hyeop Lee, an astronomer at the Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute.
The paper suggests that the synchronized galaxies are somehow embedded along the same ‘large scale structure,’ which is slowly rotating in a counter-clockwise direction and could be an explanation for the coherence seen between the rotation of these galaxies and their neighbours.
Obviously, a lot is still unknown.
“The dynamical coherence even out to millions of light-years was unexpected and surprising to us, because such distances are obviously too far for neighbor galaxies to directly interact with each other” says Joon Hyeop Lee, first author of the study, from KASI at Daejeon, Korea “Nevertheless, since the observational evidence supports the interaction origin of the dynamical coherence, we could not but think of the possibility that it is the vestige of past interactions.” (source)
These large structures are, as of now, invisible. Astronomers can’t identify what they are, but the discovery hints to the idea that the structures are made predominately of dark matter that links these galaxies in some sort of cosmic web, as galaxies and space in general seem to be dominated by dark matter.
This is where the world of non-material science comes in, as we start to bridge the gap that seems to separate science and metaphysics.
More is unknown than is known. We know how much dark energy there is because we know how it affects the universe’s expansion. Other than that, it is a complete mystery. But it is an important mystery. It turns out that roughly 68% of the universe is dark energy. Dark matter makes up about 27%. The rest – everything on Earth, everything ever observed with all of our instruments, all normal matter – adds up to less than 5% of the universe. Come to think of it, maybe it shouldn’t be called “normal” matter at all, since it is such a small fraction of the universe.
Non-material, invisible substances dominate our world — they are not perceivable to the senses, but they can be detected.
If you’ve looked into dark matter, you may also know that what scientists refer to as the quantum vacuum is often mistaken for dark matter or ‘dark energy,’ but we don’t hear about this in mainstream channels.
Space is actually not empty and it’s full of energy… The energy in space is not trivial, there’s a lot of it and we can actually calculate how much energy there is in that space and that reality might actually come out of it. Everything we see is actually emerging from this space. – Nasim Haramein
This idea was illustrated decades ago with the “Casimir Effect,” which demonstrates what’s called zero-point energy. Today, we are beginning to see that these concepts are not just theoretical, but instead are very practical. (source)(source) This is why it’s interesting to point out how multiple scientists, over the past little while, have been expressing the idea that what we call “Dark Matter” might actually be mistaken for this ‘zero-point energy.’
Take, for example, this Defense Intelligence Agency unclassified document entitled “Warp Drive, Dark Energy & The Manipulation of Extra-Dimensions,” written and prepared for the agency by senior research physicist Richard K. Obousky, Ph.D. and Eric W. Davis, Ph.D.
When it comes to dark energy, here’s what the paper states:
This is what now is being accepted as the ‘substance’ of space. Space is not empty–if you look at an atom, it’s mostly made up of ’empty space,’ but the space is not actually empty, it’s full of energy.
Nikola Tesla was well aware of this substance/force at the turn of the 20th Century:
All perceptible matter comes from a primary substance, or tenuity beyond conception, filling all space, the akasha, or luminiferous ether, which is acted upon by the life-giving Prana or creative force, calling into existence, in never-ending cycles all things and phenomena.” – Nikola Tesla, Man’s Greatest Achievement, 1907
The late Parahamsa Tewari recently had a paper published in Physics Essays. The paper is titled “Structural Relation Between The Vacuum Space and The Electron.” You can access the full study here. Tewari also points out that dark matter has been mistaken for the ether.
Ether has got to be, once again, established, then there will be the meaningful understanding of physics, meaningful understanding of metaphysics, and meaningful understanding of spiritual processes.” – Tewari (source)
I believe that there is something non-physical connecting these galaxies, connecting space and connecting time in ways that we are just beginning to understand, and I believe that what’s beyond this non-physical ‘substance’ is consciousness.
Science still has a long way to go with regards to making discoveries about our universe, as there are many more questions than answers, but something seems to be a common theme, and that’s the fact that invisible forces like dark matter, dark energy, and the zero-point energy field are key components with regards to the structure and nature of reality.
What’s even more fascinating? The fact that consciousness itself may play an integral role in shaping how our physical world behaves. You cannot go into quantum physics without diving into consciousness. Max Planck, the theoretical physicist credited with originating quantum theory — a feat that won him the Physics Nobel Prize in 1918 — offers perhaps the best explanation for why understanding consciousness is so essential: “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.”(source)
Perhaps the universe itself is conscious?
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