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The True Nature Of What We Perceive As Reality & How It Can Transform Our World

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Collective Evolution’s Arjun Walia spoke to Pradeep B. Deshpande, Professor Emeritus and former Chair of Chemical Engineering at the University of Louisville, Visiting Professor of Management, Gatton College of Business & Economics, University of Kentucky, and President and CEO, Six Sigma and Advanced Controls, Inc.

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  • For the benefit of our readers, how is the ultimate reality defined?

To borrow a line of reasoning from Amanda Gefter’s path-breaking book, “Trespassing on Einstein’s Lawn”, the ultimate reality is that which persists even after everything physical in the universe has vanished. It is that which is always there even before the beginning of time, uniform, same everywhere, and does not vary from observer to observer and perspective to perspective.

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  • So, what is the ultimate reality?

After an effort spanning a decade or more for her book which included interactions with some of the best known physicists of our time including Stephen Hawking, Gefter concluded, ‘Ultimately, nothing is real’, that is, the ultimate reality is the nothingness of the void when the universe was about the size of Planck’s length (10-33 cm in diameter) at the moment of the Big Bang.

  • What is the nature of the ultimate reality?

Renowned theoretical physicist the late John Archibald Wheeler told Gefter at the Science and Ultimate Reality Conference in 2002 in Princeton that the universe was a self-excited circuit. Inspired by the work of Adi Shankara and Nisarga Datta, Jim Kowall, a triple-board certified physician with a doctorate in theoretical physics used certain concepts from theoretical physics and logic concluding that the nature of ultimate reality cannot be anything else but consciousness which he termed undifferentiated consciousness.

  • So, which perspective is a better representation?

From Prof. Wheeler’s perspective, something, the universe, came out of nothing as the universe was a self-excited circuit. If this view is adopted, then the mystery of the beginning of the universe and the mystery of life are wholly independent but if Jim’s perspective is taken as a hypothesis for scrutiny, then there are some exciting possibilities. In particular, the hypothesis leads to a scientific framework for world transformation and peace that is detailed in the book. On the side, reflect on the ancient Indian saying, Purusha (metaphor of Shiva) is a potentiality but it needs Prakrati (metaphor of Adi Shakti) for creation.

  • Is it possible to prove Dr. Kowall’s hypothesis, undifferentiated consciousness created the universe?

To examine the hypothesis, we must conduct scientific experiments and show that everything remains connected to everything else just as it was at the moment of the Big bang when the universe was about the size of Planck’s length. Western scientists have successfully conducted such experiments in at least as far as the connectedness of human beings is concerned. These experiments were made possible in part by the discovery of the DNA which allowed scientists to locate living DNA remotely and examine if there was something within us that had an effect on the remotely located DNA. That ‘something’ turned out to be emotions!

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  • Could you give our readers an example of these experiments?

On YouTube, there is a video clip of an experiment with 32 Metronomes that are in a sense connected although not physically linked. The readers will see that within minutes the metronomes synchronize indicating that they are sharing some form of energy. There are also experiments which show that the heart rates of a group of subjects meditating or engaged in prayer synchronize to a great extent in short order. These experiments imply that our differentiated consciousness may well be a microcosm of the undifferentiated consciousness.

  • OK, so where does this take us?

If in fact our differentiated consciousness is a microcosm of the undifferentiated consciousness of the void and since the latter created the universe, then, we too must possess a capacity to create. This is consistent with the ancient Indian proverbs, Aham Brahmasmi (I am a creator) or So Hum (I am that). Using this line of reasoning, if we can demonstrate this capacity to create physical reality from nonphysical phenomenon (consciousness, intention, emotions, vibrations), then the hypothesis that the undifferentiated consciousness created the universe strengthens but it would be exceedingly difficult, may be even impossible, to prove it with an absolute certainty.

  • What do I need to understand before setting out to prove that I am a creator?

First, we need to understand the fundamentals of yoga, meaning to connect, and not the bone-bending physical exercises that have come to be known as yoga in the West. It is heartening that there is now an UN International Yoga Day, June 21st that came into being at the behest of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014 with the support of over 175 nations. Now, if everyone understood the real meaning of yoga and how to practice it, then surely the world will become more peaceful.

Second, to connect to the undifferentiated consciousness requires two things: (i) positive emotions, (ii) a process with which to connect. We humans possess two types of emotions: Positive emotions (unconditional love, kindness, empathy, compassion) and negative emotions (anger, hatred, hostility, resentment, fear, sorrow, frustration, despair, etc.). Individuals who are endowed with abundant positive emotions may be thought of as having a high level of internal excellence. Such individuals suffer only minor, short-term disturbances in their internal conditions when highly taxing external conditions occur.

  • Where do our emotional traits come from?

Just as we inherit genetic traits from our ancestors, we may also inherit some negative psychoemotional traits (e. g., depression, hypertension, etc.). We compound our problems by our own actions from adolescence to the current age. Success in connecting to the undifferentiated consciousness requires that these negative psychoemotional traits must be wiped clean and replaced with abundant positive emotions.

  • Are our emotions related to our base nature?

The two are strongly correlated. Just as we have two types of emotions, the 6 ½ billion of us also have three components of the mindset: (1) S: Truthfulness, honesty, steadfastness, equanimity, (2) R: Attachment, ego, ambition, greed, desire to live, and (3) T: Lying, cheating, inflicting injury in words or deed, and sleep. In this scheme of things, every human being has a certain minimum amount of S, R, and T required for life. A little reflection will reveal that the S component is positively and strongly correlated to positive emotions while the R and T components are strongly and positively correlated with negative emotions. Just as positive and negative emotions lead to a scale of internal excellence, so do the S, R, T components. On either scale, the pursuit of connecting to the undifferentiated consciousness is equivalent to a desire to rise of the scale of internal excellence.

  • So, it sounds fairly straightforward, track our emotions diligently, harness positive emotions and avoid negative emotions and I can connect.

That is partially correct. A simple thirty-day experiment will convince anyone that the conscious approach falls short of expectation. We also need a process whose side-effect is a rise in positive emotions at the expense of negative emotions and such a process is meditation. Meditation has the power to connect an individual’s consciousness to the undifferentiated consciousness.

  • What sort of additional evidence can you offer that meditation can materialize intentions?

At my request, Sanjeev Aroskar, a friend and an Electronics & Computers graduate of the well-known Indian Institute Technology, Mumbai, gathered a group of six meditators in Pune a few years ago and demonstrated that it was possible to lift from the ground from a crossed-legged sitting position. The meditation practice included an explicit intention to lift from the ground. The evidence was recorded on my IPhone camera. The experiment is further detailed in the book. That said, the intention most worthy of materialization is a rise in the level of internal excellence.

  • Can internal excellence be measured?

Yes, but only inferentially. Any scientific inquiry must have measurable outcomes or else it becomes just another interesting philosophy. Prof. Konstantin Korotkov, Professor of Biophysics, Mechanics, and Computers at St. Petersburg Federal University in Russia developed a scientific device based on the gas discharge visualization (GDV) principle over fifteen years ago. The device involves a painless, noninvasive, and almost instantaneous measurement to estimate the physiological and psychoemotional state of the subject at a high confidence level. The GDV device was approved by the Russian Health Ministry for use as a routine medical diagnostic device in Russian hospitals and doctor’s offices. I have published extensive data on myself showing that meditation enhances positive psychoemotional traits and thus, internal excellence which I can experientially attest to.

  • What are the benefits of connecting to the undifferentiated consciousness with meditation?

Even partial success leads to a myriad of benefits: Health & wellness, creativity, and innovativeness, exemplary performance in all walks of life including business and academic performance, better leadership decisions, and less discord and violence. There are a large number individuals throughout the history of India and elsewhere who bear testimony to the truthfulness of this assertion. In recent years, prestigious science publications such as Nature, Science, Pro. Nat. Sci. Acad.-US all have carried full-length articles on the benefits of meditation. A quick Google search will produce a long list of Nobel laureates, famous CEOs, and scientists who are regular meditators and who credit some of their successes to meditation.

  • How do we extend the benefits of meditation to the larger segment of society?

Here, we have to take advantage of the Maharishi effect, named after the late Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Maharishi continues to have thousands of followers who include the likes of Jerry Seinfeld, George Stephanopoulos, Peter Lynch, renowned physicist and three-time presidential nominee, John Hagelin, among many others. The Maharishi effect says that a relatively small number of meditators can bring about peace in a much larger segment of the society. Following this principle, Dr. Hagelin and associates conducted experiments in Washington, DC in the eighties demonstrating that 4,000 meditators were sufficient to bring down the crime rate of the entire DC metropolitan area. The experiment was successfully repeated in the Middle East.

  • Does this mean eternal global peace is possible?

Not quite, and the reason is this. The S, R, T components of societies undergo transformation over time due to reasons that we cannot quite comprehend. As the average S component of nation rises, that society rises but the S component cannot continue to rise indefinitely and when it reaches its peak, the T component gains prominence and the society begins to decline. The T component cannot rise indefinitely either and when it reaches its peak, the S component gains dominance and the society begins to rise again. As a consequence of this transformation of the S, R, T components, societies sustain repeated rise and decline. This has been true for thousands of years and will remain true for the foreseeable future. Since our specie did not evolve into humans at the same time, there are societies in the various stages of rise and decline present on the scene at any given time. Consequently, global peace ad infinitum is not possible. However, by adopting the scientific framework under discussion here, emerging nations can rise faster, nations in decline can change direction, and developed nations can keep their inevitable, eventual decline at bay longer and that will make the world more peaceful. This is the best possible scenario.

  • Fascinating, so this is what you mean by transforming the world?

Actually, only partly so. From my perspective, world transformation has two parts to it: To make the world better and to make the world more peaceful. The ultimate reality book presents a scientific and auditable framework for internal excellence while the author’s companion book, Six Sigma for Karma Capitalism, SAC 2015 (also available on amazon) presents the wherewithal for a better world. What we have talked about so far is for a more peaceful world. The term ‘better’ refers to a scenario where all processes and transactions worldwide produce the least possible defects for the best possible performance and this requires a framework and an auditable methodology for external excellence. There are several quality initiatives available but my favorite is the national award-winning six sigma co-created at Motorola by Drs. Bill Smith and Mikel J. Harry in the late seventies.

  • So, quality initiatives are sufficient for the best possible performance across the world in terms of defects?

This is a very interesting question. Several years ago, I made a shocking discovery: In the absence of an adequate level of internal excellence, the best quality initiatives do not produce the best possible performance in terms of defects. Add internal excellence to the mix and the performance can be further improved. So, to make the world better and more peaceful, both components of excellence, external and internal are required.

  • It appears, businesses of all types need to have both components of excellence in place?

In my view, all companies in whatever line of business, manufacturing or service, need to embrace both components of excellence. The framework is amenable to an audit and therefore within a short span of four to six months, companies will be able to demonstrate for themselves the many benefits of the framework. Actually, the proof of concept is already on hand. Some of the references cited at the end of this interview lists several CEOs talking about the benefits of meditation for themselves and their companies.

  • Meditation has been around for thousands of years. What is the necessity of a scientific framework?

It appears that humanity has become increasingly rational minded perhaps stung by Aristotle’s false claim of our Earth-centric existence in vogue till the time of Copernicus in the fifteenth century. The widespread acceptance and adoption of the ideas discussed here is possible only with a scientific framework.

  • Sounds like we need to teach all this stuff in colleges and universities?

I wholly agree. Today’s students are tomorrow’s leaders and it is absolutely essential to introduce these ideas in colleges so they do not graduate tunneled-visioned. I have done so in my six sigma class of the MBA program of the University of Kentucky at TEI/Piraeus in Athens, Greece I have been teaching for ten years and the student are loving it.

  • Does meditation have a religious connotation?

Meditation is for everyone, of all faiths and also for those who profess no faith. Every human being has the same gift of capacity to learn but the desire to learn and openness of mind are choices and those are the biggest hurdle to progress.

  • Does God exist according to the scientific framework?

Scientific inquiry cannot go beyond the notion of undifferentiated consciousness. However, many will marvel at the same evidence and conclude that God must exist while many will say, not so fast. The precious lessons I have drawn from the scientific framework are: (1) The purpose of all scriptures of all faiths is identical: To prod humanity to rise on the scale of internal excellence, (2) All incarnations, Son of God, Prophets have devoted their entire lifetimes in the pursuit of a single goal: To persuade humanity to rise on the scale of internal excellence.

  • What are your thoughts on violence in the name of religion?

Since you and I share Indian ancestry, I start with the Hindu religion. Discrimination on the basis of caste has been a persistent problem for thousands of years although there is no mention in the Geeta that Varna distinctions can be inherited. In the epic Mahabharata, there is an episode which shows Sage Bhishma lying on a bed of arrows commenting to Karna, If I had not called you Shudra and not prevented you from participating in the sports arena, may be this Great War could have been avoided. He further goes on to say, in the Vedic times, Varna was determined by qualities, when this changed to the heredity-based caste system, no one knows.

Next, to Christians and inquisitions and crusades. Bible has not changed but there is no more violence in the name of Christianity. Finally, the current problem with terrorism. Islam is no more responsible for terrorism than Bible for inquisitions and crusades or the Geeta for caste discrimination. The root cause of violence in the name of religion is high R and T components.

  • Thank you, this has been an interesting conversation.

I have enjoyed it as well. Thank you and Collective Evolution for this opportunity.

Further Reading

  1. Clark, Don, Salesforce.com CEO Mark Benioff Delivers Meditation on Mindfulness, The Wall Street Journal, October 20, 2015.
  2. DeSteno, David, The Morality of Meditation, The New York Times, July 5, 2013.
  3. Gelles, David, At Aetna, a CEO’s Management by Mantra, New York Times, March 1, 2015.
  4. Goyal, Madhav, et al., Meditation Programs for Psychological Stress and Well-being, JAMA Internal Medicine, 174 (3), March 2014 pp.357 – 368.
  5. Gregoire, Carolyn, How Meditation Transformed this Executive’s Approach to Work and Life, Huffpost Endeavor, March 14, 2016.
  6. Korotkov, Konstantin G., Human Energy Field: Study with GDV Bioelectrography, 2002. amazon.com.
  7. Kowall, James P., Metaphysics of Modern Physics, J. Consciousness Exploration and Research, 7, 3, 2016.
  8. La Roche, Julia, Ray Dalio: More than anything else, I attribute my success to one thing, Yahoo! Finance, May 23, 2016.
  9. Mallet, Victor, Pop-up Megacity is a Lesson for India, Financial Times, March 1, 2013.
  10. Marchant, Jo, Can Meditation Really Slow Aging?, CNN Health, www.cnn.com, July 10, 2014.
  11. O’Connell, Andrew, A Little Meditation Helps You Make Better Business Decisions, HBR Blog, January 24, 2013.
  12. The ‘Dabbawala Roti Bank in India’: We will Give that Food to Someone who is Hungry, BBC News, (http://www.bbc.com/news/business-36418730).
  13. Pinsker, Joe, Corporations’ Newest Productivity Hack: Meditation, The Atlantic, March 10, 2015.
  14. Walton, Alice G., How Yoga might save The US Trillions of Dollars, And A Lot of Lives, Forbes, July 24, 2013.

 

 

 

 

 

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Consciousness

Our “Reality” Isn’t “Physical.” It’s “Spiritual, Mental & Immaterial” Says Renowned Physicist

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Johns Hopkins University Richard Conn Henry published a paper in the journal Nature titled "The Mental Universe" emphasizing how metaphysics plays a central role in understanding the nature of our reality.

  • Reflect On:

    Are we metaphysical beings? What impact does our collective consciousness have on our physical material reality and the overall human experience? Is our consciousness manipulated in any way today?

What Happened: In 2005, Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Johns Hopkins University Richard Conn Henry published a paper in the journal Nature titled “The Mental Universe.” In it, he writes the following:

A fundamental conclusion of the new physics also acknowledges that the observer creates the reality. As observers, we are personally involved with the creation of our own reality. Physicists are being forced to admit that the universe is a “mental” construction.

Pioneering physicist Sir James Jeans wrote: “The stream of knowledge is heading toward a non-mechanical reality; the universe begins to look more like a great thought than like a great machine. Mind no longer appears to be an accidental intruder into the realm of matter, we ought rather hail it as the creator and governor of the realm of matter… The universe is immaterial-mental and spiritual.

The underlying idea he’s getting across with this statement is that in some way shape or form, consciousness is directly intertwined with what we perceive to be our physical material world, and that the nature of reality is made up of non-physical “stuff.”

He goes on to emphasize how, in the modern day scientific world, “there have been serious attempts to preserve a material world – but they produce no new physics, and serve only to preserve an illusion.” This illusion he refers to again, is the idea that the make up of our reality is strictly and fundamental physical.”

Physicists shy from the truth because the truth is so alien to everyday physics. A common way to evade the mental Universe is to invoke ‘decoherence’ — the notion that ‘the physical environment’ is sufficient to create reality, independent of the human mind.

Nikola Tesla is often attributed with saying, “The day science begins to study non-physical phenomena, it will make more progress in one decade than in all the previous centuries of its existence.” Many scientists, I would say the majority of scientists in this field all feel the same way, yet there is still a tremendous lack of attention paid to immaterial science in the mainstream academic world. This is odd given the fact that at the highest levels of government, usually with the Department of Defense, non physical phenomenon like telepathy, clairvoyance, remote viewing, pre-cognition and more are all and have been heavily studied and verified for a very long time. These phenomena are within the realm of parapsychology, which is directly intertwined with quantum physics.

What convinced me was just the evidence, the accumulating evidence as I worked in this field and I got to see more and more of the evidence. I visited the laboratories, even beyond where I was working to see what they were doing and I could see that they had really tight controls…and so I got convinced by the good science that I saw being done. And in fact I will say as a statistician I’ve consulted in a lot of different areas of science; the methodology and the controls on these experiments are tighter than any other area of science where I’ve worked. – Dr. Jessica Utts, the Chair of the Department of Statistics at the University of California, Irvine and a professor there since 2008. (source)

A paper published in Frontier’s of Neuroscience Emphasizes:

Research on parapsychological phenomena (psi) is being carried out in various accredited universities and research centers throughout the world by academics in different disciplines trained in the scientific method (e.g., circa 80 Ph.D.s have been awarded in psi-related topics in the UK in recent years). This research has continued for over a century despite the taboo against investigating the topic, almost complete lack of funding, and professional and personal attacks (Cardeña, ). The Parapsychological Association has been an affiliate of the AAAS since 1969, and more than 20 Nobel prizewinners and many other eminent scientists have supported the study of psi or even conducted research themselves (Cardeña, ).

So why is there such a strong resistance? Could it simply be the implications with regards to the findings within these realms are too great? When physics changes, so do global paradigms and the perceptions people have of our world. Some discoveries literally have the ability shatter the way we perceive our modern day world, and perhaps change the way we live and even have us question the way we live.

Cassandra Vieten, PhD and President/CEO at the Institute of Noetic Sciences, an organization founded by Apollo 14’s Dr. Edgar Mitchell to study consciousness and its relationship with the nature of our reality, offers a thoughtful explanation:

There seems to be a deep concern that the whole field will be tarnished by studying a phenomenon that is tainted by its association with superstition, spiritualism and magic. Protecting against this possibility sometimes seems more important than encouraging scientific exploration or protecting academic freedom. But this may be changing. (source)

Take, for example, prominent physicist Lord Kelvin, who stated in the year 1900 that, “There is nothing new to be discovered in physics now. All that remains is more and more precise measurement.” It wasn’t long after this statement when Einstein published his paper on special relativity. Einstein’s theories challenged the accepted framework of knowledge at the time, and forced the scientific community to open up to an alternate view of reality.

It serves as a great example of how concepts that are taken to be absolute truth are susceptible to change.

A few years ago, a group of internationally recognized scientists have come together to stress the importance of what is still commonly overlooked in the mainstream scientific community – the fact that matter (protons, electrons, photons, anything that has a mass) is not the only reality. We wish to understand the nature of our reality, but how can we do so if we are continually examining only physical systems? What about the role of non-physical systems, such as consciousness, or their interaction with physical systems (matter)?

Despite the unrivaled empirical success of quantum theory, the very suggestion that it may be literally true as a description of nature is still greeted with cynicism, incomprehension and even anger.” (T. Folger, “Quantum Shmantum”; Discover 22:37-43, 2001)

Just to reiterate, at the turn of the nineteenth century, physicists started to explore the relationship between energy and the structure of matter. In doing so, the belief that a physical, Newtonian material universe that was at the very heart of scientific knowing was dropped, and the realization that matter is nothing but an illusion replaced it. Scientists began to recognize that everything in the Universe is made out of energy. This has been known in the scientific community for more than one hundred years.

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, postulating consciousness.  –  Max Planck, theoretical physicist who originated quantum theory, which won him the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1918.

The “quantum double slit” experiment is one that has been used to examine the connection between physical matter and human consciousness. It brings up what’s known as quantum uncertainty  which is defined as the ability, “according to the quantum mechanic laws that govern subatomic affairs, of a particle like an electron to exist in a murky state of possibility — to be anywhere, everywhere or nowhere at all — until clicked into substantiality by a laboratory detector or an eyeball.”

A paper published in the peer-reviewed journal Physics Essays explains how this experiment has been used multiple times to explore the role of consciousness in shaping the nature of physical reality.

It was published by Dr. Dean Radin, who you will see in the lecture below. He’s the chief scientist at the Institute of Noetic Sciences.

He produced incredible results: Human intention, via meditators, was able to actually collapse the quantum wave function. The meditators were the “observer” in this case.

In fact, as Radin points out in his lecture, a “5 sigma” result was able to give CERN the Nobel Prize in 2013 for finding the Higgs particle (which turned out not to be Higgs after all). In this study, they also received a 5 sigma result when testing meditators against non-meditators in collapsing the quantum wave function. This means that mental activity, the human mind,  attention, intention, which are a few labels under the umbrella of consciousness, compelled physical matter to act in a certain way.

“Observations not only disturb what has to be measured, they produce it. . . . We compel [the electron] to assume a definite position. . . . We ourselves produce the results of the measurement.”

So where does physical material matter come from, and why does an invisible force like human consciousness affect it?

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

One of many, in fact, who had been contemplating the ether and its relation to what we perceive as physical material matter. In ancient times, Plato referred to the ether. This is from his work Phaedo:

“And upon the Earth are animals and men, some in a middle region, others (elementals) dwelling about the air as we dwell about the sea; others in islands which the air flows round, near the continent; and in a word, the air is used by them as the water and the sea are by us, and the ether is to them what the air is to us.”

And here is another interesting quotation from this ancient text:

And they allowed Apollonius to ask questions; and he asked them of what they thought the cosmos was composed; but they replied; “Of elements.”

“Are there then four?” he asked.

“Not four,” said Larchas,  “but five.” “

And how can there be a fifth,” said Apollonius, “alongside of water and air and earth and fire?”

“There is the ether.”

Even Rene Descartes proposed the theory that “space,” (what we perceive as empty space) is completely filled with matter in various states. There is evidence to suggest he was executed by the Church because his science entered into the realm of metaphysics.

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.” –Parahamsa  Tewari (source)

The Takeaway/Why This Is Important: With so much evidence showing that human consciousness is directly intertwined with our physical material reality, it further suggests that our own feelings, emotions, perceptions, and ‘state of consciousness’ is a a key factor when it comes to creating and shaping our human experience. What state of being are we all operating from on a daily basis, and what impact does this have on our reality, on our human experience? If we want to change the world, how important is it that we create from a place of peace, and love?

What kind of reality are we going to create if our thoughts and perceptions if major global events are not really ours, but given to us from an outside source like mainstream media? How dow we react to events? Are your thoughts and feelings about what happens on planet earth even ours? Is our consciousness manipulated by powerful people? What kind of impact does this have on our state of being? If we want to create a new human experience, we can’t do it from the same level of consciousness that got us here in the first place. Can we ever really identify a “God particle” when it’s most probably that matter is birthed from an immaterial realm?

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Consciousness

The Study of Fundamental Consciousness Entering the Mainstream

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Consciousness is appearing to be a fundamental property, just like liquids, solids and gas, consciousness and its connection to the physical material world is now gaining big time credibility.

  • Reflect On:

    How much do we have yet to discover? Are we ready to abandon what we thought we knew in light of new discoveries and evidence?

The world-renowned neuroscientist Christof Koch, spent nearly two decades working alongside the co-discoverer of the DNA molecule, Francis Crick. Their mission was to find the neurobiological basis of consciousness. They discovered many insights into cognition and the functioning of perception, yet the central enigma, the nature of consciousness itself, remained mysteriously elusive.

In 2009, Koch shocked the scientific community by publishing his conviction that consciousness probably isn’t just in brains, but is a fundamental feature of reality. This is a view known to philosophers as ‘panpsychism.’ The theory Koch is now dedicating his research to is called ‘Integrated Information Theory’ or ‘IIT.’ It is the brainchild of neuroscientist Giulio Tononi of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

In explaining his theory, Tononi asks us to consider a simple light sensitive photo diode like those found in a digital camera. A simple diode might respond to just two states: light or dark. We could present our diode with any number of images, yet regardless of the picture, the diode conforms to one of only two possible states. Is it light, or is it dark?

Now consider yourself looking at the same picture, lets say, of the Eiffel Tower on a beautiful spring day in Paris. For us, looking at this image results in a reduction from a near infinity of possible states. Not an image of the Andromeda galaxy, not a childhood picture of your mother, not cells dividing in a Petri dish and so on.  Because of the vast number of images we are capable of recognizing, each one is highly informative. For Tononi, the vast amount of information capable of being integrated in the brain means that we have a comparatively huge capacity for consciousness.

Tononi’s theory, that consciousness is born out of networks with high integrated information, has novel ways of being tested in the laboratory.

In studies with sleeping participants, Tononi and his colleagues used transcranial magnetic stimulation to send a ripple of activity through the cortex of sleeping participants. The researchers found that when dreaming, this ripple reverberated through the cortex longer than when participants were in stages of dreamless sleep. This demonstrated that during dreaming, when the brain is conscious, the cortex has a higher degree of integration.

In another experiment, the researchers built tiny robots known as ‘animats’ that were placed into mazes. The animats used simple integrated networks capable of evolving over sequential generations. To their surprise, the greater the degree of integration that the animats evolved, the quicker they were able to escape the mazes. For Tononi this finding suggested that consciousness may play a more central role in evolution than had previously been thought.

The mathematical value of integrated information in a network is known as phi. But Tononi’s theory, now the topic of serious mainstream discussion, has an extraordinary implication. Phi didn’t just occur in brains, -it is a property of any network with a total informational content greater than its individual parts. Every living cell, every electronic circuit, even a proton consisting of just three elementary particles have a value of phi greater than zero. According to Integrated Information Theory, all of these things possess something, albeit but a glimmer of ‘what it is like’ to be them. Tononi states:

“Consciousness is a fundamental property, like mass or charge. Wherever there is an entity with multiple states, there is some consciousness. You need a special structure to get a lot of it but consciousness is everywhere, it is a fundamental property.”

Integrated information theory is in its infancy and there are still many questions it must face. Did the information of brains operate at the level of the neuron, or the protein, or something deeper still? The electromagnetic field of the brain, as observed by psi researcher Dean Radin, is always re-establishing its quantum connection to the entire universe. Could a much richer informational interaction exist than has yet been imagined?

Physicists such as John Wheeler have laid the groundwork for a radical new understanding of reality, in which matter, the laws and constants of nature, and indeed the entire universe is best described, not in terms of physical objects, but through the play and display of a fundamental dynamic information.

Quantum mechanics suggests that at the deepest level of nature, the entire physical universe is interconnected. Might the total information of the universe be integrated in some deep sense? Is it in a mysterious way conscious of itself?

As spiritual traditions throughout the ages have long asserted, instead of isolated and separate experiencing beings, we may experience on behalf of the greater evolving system in which we find ourselves.

In Koch’s highly anticipated 2012 book, ‘Consciousness – Confessions of a Romantic Reductionist’, he states:

“I do believe that the laws of physics overwhelmingly favored the emergence of consciousness. The universe is a work in progress. Such a belief evokes jeremiads from many biologists and philosophers but the evidence from cosmology, biology and history is compelling.”

Regardless of the validity of Tononi’s theory, today increasing numbers of scientists and academics are convinced that the existence of consciousness simply cannot be sensibly denied. The study of fundamental consciousness is now entering the mainstream. This movement consists of thinkers in and outside of the mind sciences. Yet despite their different academic backgrounds, they are united by two common convictions: that consciousness is an intrinsic rather than incidental emergence in the universe, and that any complete account of reality must include an explanation of it.

 Sources:

 Koch, C. (2009, August 18). A complex theory of consciousness: Is complexity the secret to sentience, to a panpsychic view of consciousness? Scientific American.

 Tononi, G. (2008). Consciousness as integrated information: A provisional manifesto. Biological Bulletin, 215(3), 216-242.

 Edlund, J. A., Chaumont, N., Hintze, A., Koch C., Tononi G., & Adami, C. (2011). Integrated information increases with fitness in the evolution of animats. PLoS Computational Biology, 7(10).

 Radin, D. I. (2006). Entangled Minds: Extrasensory experiences in quantum reality. New York: Simon & Schuster.

 Koch, C. (2012). Consciousness: Confessions of a Romantic Reductionist. MIT Press Books.

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Alternative News

If You Could Power Your Entire Home With 60 Minutes Of Cycling, Would You Do It?

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In Brief

  • 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.

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