"Consciousness Creates Reality" - Is This An Accurate Interpretation of What Quantum Mechanics is Revealing?
Before You begin: Take a breath. Release the tension in your body. Place attention on your physical heart. Breathe slowly into the area for 60 seconds, focusing on feeling a sense of ease. Click here to learn why we suggest this.
Article written by Arjun Walia
“Despite the unrivalled 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”
The fascinating connection between mind and matter has given birth to a saying used by many, from quantum physicists and academics to ancient and “new age” philosophers. The saying goes, “Consciousness creates reality.”
The question is, where did this saying come from? What does it mean? And how should we interpret it?
In the 17th century, the ideas of philosopher Rene Descartes played a significant role in shaping what science would one day become. Among his influential contributions, Descartes brought to light the characteristics of mind and matter, identifying them as the two primary ingredients of reality.
These views, originating largely from Aristotle and Plato, have made their way throughout the ages to the present day and have been further validated by quantum mechanics (QM).
It’s always fascinating when ancient ideas, which seemed to have originated from one’s own heart/mind, are validated by modern-day experiments, technology and science. It truly makes one ponder whether or not the burning questions of existence and the mysteries regarding the true nature of reality are somehow accessible somewhere inside all of us in some extraordinary way.
Do we have all of the answers inside of us? Perhaps.
To dive deep into this subject we must examine consciousness and its relationship with physical material matter. The existence of this relationship has, in my opinion, been demonstrated without a doubt through the birth of quantum mechanics (QM). QM is the catalyst for the term, “consciousness creates reality.”
Quantum mechanics, or quantum physics, examines physical material matter and how it behaves at the smallest observable level. It attempts to describe and account for the properties of molecules and atoms and their constituents—electrons, protons, neutrons, and other particles such as quarks and gluons.
Basically, it’s the examination of atomic and subatomic particles and trying to understand them, given the fact that these particles make up everything that we perceive to be physical material matter, including me and you.
The modern scientific worldview is largely based on the idea that materialism dominates and that matter is the only reality. But this isn’t true, as renowned theoretical physicist Dr. John Wheeler emphasized,
"No point is more central than this, that empty space is not empty. It is the seat of the most violent physics."
QM threw the supposed material foundations of the world out the window and demonstrated that much of what we call “reality” is not even perceivable to our senses. QM has shown that atoms and subatomic particles, of which everything is made, are not really solid objects and do not exist in space and time at definite spatial locations and times.
Perhaps most importantly, QM has demonstrated that the mind, or consciousness, is directly intertwined somehow with what we call physical material matter.
This is why all of the ‘founding fathers’ of QM could not deny the relationship between consciousness and matter. In fact, many believed and do believe that consciousness is a fundamental aspect and required for matter to even exist.
Max Planck, a theoretical physicist who originated quantum theory which won him the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1918 emphasized this in a 1931 interview with The Observer of London,
“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.”
Nikola Tesla also emphasized his belief with regards to where matter is birthed from, which he referred to as the “luminiferous either” in his work, “Man’s Greatest Achievement.”
“All perceptible matter comes from a primary substance, or tenuity beyond conception, fill 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.”
QM introduced the mind into its basic structure since it was found that the particles being observed and the observer—the physicist and the method used for observation—are linked.
This implies that the consciousness of the observer is vital to the existence of the physical events being observed and that mental events can affect the physical world. The results of multiple experiments support this interpretation which suggests that the physical world is not the only component of reality. The physical world cannot be fully understood without making reference to the mind.
The quantum double-slit experiment is often cited to illustrate this connection. When physicists watch a particle pass through two slits, the particle goes through one slit or the other. If a person doesn't watch it, it acts like a wave and can go through both slits simultaneously and/or split in half, go through both, then join up as one after it has passed through both slits.
This means its behaviour changes based on a person's perception or the act of observing to see what slit it went through.
Neils Bohr, known for his work in atomic/quantum theory which won him the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1922 explains,
“When we measure something we are forcing an undetermined, undefined world to assume an experimental value. We are not measuring the world, we are creating it.”
When someone is watching to see what slit it goes through, the particle acts differently compared to when no one is watching. And when no one is watching its behaviour is spooky, impossible and not comprehensible.
When it is not being watched the particle acts as a wave and exhibits all potential possibilities, being anywhere, everywhere or nowhere at all — until clicked into substantiality by a conscious observer.
“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.”
- M. Mermin, Boojums All the Way Through: Communicating Science ina Prosaic Age, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, 1990. Referenced by Dr. Dean Radin in a paper published in Physics Essays regarding the quantum double slit experiment
There are other experiments as well, like the delayed choice experiment. Like the quantum double slit experiment the delayed choice/quantum eraser has been demonstrated and repeated multiple times.
It basically brings up the point that, after the particle passes through the slit(s), it is not only until we observe, after the fact, that the particle chooses what direction it takes. This means that observation in the present is changing the past.
Physicists at the Australian National University (ANU) have conducted John Wheeler’s delayed-choice thought experiment, and the findings were published in the journal Nature Physics.
To make the experiment easier to understand, Wheeler used a cosmic scale explanation. Imagine a star emitting photons billions of years ago, heading in the direction of planet Earth. In between there is a galaxy. As a result of what’s known as “gravitational lensing,” the light will have to bend around the galaxy in order to reach Earth. So, it has to take one of two paths, going left or going right.
Billions of years later, if one decides to set up an apparatus to “catch” the photon, the resulting pattern would be an interference pattern, as explained above in the double-slit experiment. This demonstrates that the photon took one way, and it took the other way. A "wave" of possibilities, but the way it took has not been defined.
One could also choose to “peek” at the incoming photon, setting up a telescope on each side of the galaxy to determine which side the photon passed to reach Earth. The very act of measuring or “watching” which way the photon comes in means it can only come in from one side. The pattern will no longer be an interference pattern representing multiple possibilities, but a single clump pattern showing “one” way.
What does this mean? It means how we choose to measure “now” affects what direction the photon took billions of years ago. Our choice in the present moment affected what had already happened in the past.
Below is a great video of Wheeler explaining.
Beyond the experiments above, research in psychoneuroimmunology indicates that our thoughts and emotions can markedly affect the activity of the physiological systems (e.g., immune, endocrine, cardiovascular) connected to the brain. In other respects, neuroimaging studies of emotional self-regulation, psychotherapy, and the placebo effect demonstrate that mental events significantly influence the activity of the brain. Another form of mind and matter interaction.
Perhaps my favourite are parapsychological studies.
“Studies of the so-called “psi phenomena” indicate that we can sometimes receive meaningful information without the use of ordinary senses, and in ways that transcend the habitual space and time constraints. Furthermore, psi research demonstrates that we can mentally influence—at a distance—physical devices and living organisms (including other human beings). Psi research also shows that distant minds may behave in ways that are non-locally correlated, i.e. the correlations between distant minds are hypothesized to be unmediated (they are not linked to any known energetic signal), unmitigated (they do not degrade with increasing distance), and immediate (they appear to be simultaneous). These events are so common that they cannot be viewed as anomalous nor as exceptions to natural laws, but as indications of the need for a broader explanatory framework that cannot be predicated exclusively on materialism.”
I’ve cited many times a document titled “Research Into Paranormal Ability To Break Through Spatial Barriers” which reviews experiments conducted by the Aerospace Medicine Engineering Institute in Beijing.
The document highlights experiments involving the videotaping and high-speed photography of the transfer of test specimens (nuts, bundles of matches, pills, nails, thread, photosensitive paper, chemically treated paper, sponges dipped in FeCl3, etc.) through the walls of sealed paper envelopes, double layered KCNS-type paper bags, sealed glass bottles, tubes with sealed caps, and sealed plastic film canisters without the walls of any of these containers being breached.
All of the experiments used gifted children and young adults who apparently possessed well-known extraordinary PK (psychokinetic) ability that allowed them to teleport the various test specimens.
According to a declassified Air Force study by scientist Eric W. Davis entitled Teleportation Physics Study, “The experiments were well-controlled, scientifically recorded, and the experimental results were always repeatable.”
A quote from the Chinese Institute of Atomic Energy pointed out in 1991, in a study archived by the CIA:
“Such phenomena and paranormal abilities of the human body are unimaginable for ordinary people. Nevertheless they are really true.”
In all the experimental cases that were reported, the test specimens teleported were completely unaltered or unchanged from their initial state.
Experiments like these suggest that mind/matter interaction is a phenomenon that has been observed beyond the quantum scale.
Be sure to access the document, read through it, and examine the study and the methods and experiments used if you want a deeper analysis.
Other psi phenomena like remote viewing and studies of Near Death Experiences (NDE’s) suggest that the mind/consciousness is not dependent on a physical biological system to exist.
A paper published in Frontiers of Neuroscience Emphasizes just how fascinating psi phenomenon is and why some of the world’s most eminent scientists have been interested in it for more than a century.
“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, 201). 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.”
Has much changed? When science breaks the boundaries and exposes the reality of the metaphysical and spiritual aspects of our reality, is it too much for academia? After all, research in this area completely shatters what we believe to be true sometimes.
The Connection Is Clear. But What Does It Mean?
“It was not possible to formulate the laws of quantum mechanics in a fully consistent way without reference to consciousness.”
– Eugene Wigner, theoretical physicist and mathematician
Robert Lanza, a stem cell and regenerative medicine expert famous for the theory of biocentrism, argues that consciousness is the driving force for the existence of the universe. He argues that everything that we experience and know about is created by our consciousness.
Lanza postulates that the physical world we perceive is not something that’s separate from us but instead created by our minds as we observe it.
According to his biocentric view, space and time are a result of the “whirl of information” in our head that is weaved together by our mind into a coherent experience.
In a paper he co-authored by Dmitriy Podolskiy and Andrei Barvinsky, theorists in quantum gravity and quantum cosmology, they explain how observers influence the structure of our reality. According to Lanza and his colleagues, observers can significantly affect the behaviour of observable quantities both at microscopic and massive spatiotemporal scales.
Again, according to theories like this the world is not something that is formed outside of us and simply existing on its own. Observers ultimately define the structure of physical reality itself not just at the quantum scale, but at large scales as well.
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.”
Writing about this topic could span thousands of pages and multiple books, but for the sake of reading length and time, the basic conclusion that seems to be inarguable is the fact that mind and consciousness have a direct relationship with matter and may be required in the first place for matter to exist. Matter may be birthed from the non material void, and perhaps some type of consciousness is the catalyst that is required for its birth.
This article represents a very basic explanation of where the idea comes from and what it means.
It suggests that, in some way we don’t yet understand, we are all playing a part in co-creating this reality. But what about other intelligence elsewhere in the multi-universe/multi-dimensional realm? It gets very complicated when you think about it. What about the consciousness that exists beyond death, beyond our perception of space and time? Does consciousness itself exist on its own beyond physical systems? Can everything that’s made up of matter possess some type of consciousness?
As far as being what we perceive to be as ‘individuals,’ which could simply be one small facet of the whole if we are all indeed one, does this mean that one can ‘manifest’ a particular life with regards to whatever they desire? I don’t know. I do believe that our thoughts, feelings, emotions and perceptions do indeed play a large role in creating or influencing our reality. What about concepts of determinism and free will?
That being said it’s not that simple. For example, if we have certain goals and desires in life it may require years of work and dedication to get there. We can’t simply snap it into existence instantaneously, which some people out there seem to imply.
In some ways, science like this has been hijacked and misinterpreted for money making purposes. Furthermore, everybody seems so convinced regarding manifestation that they become engulfed with their own personal desires. This is fine, but let’s not forget about the collective, let’s not forget about others, and let’s not forget that we are all connected and that some souls are having an experience on this planet that no one would desire. What can we do to help them?
Another strange and inaccurate interpretation seems to be the idea that focusing on the “bad” or exposing the immoral and unethical actions of various governments and corporations will simply continue to manifest this reality. This doesn’t make sense to me and is not aligned with quantum theory at all. In fact, if we don’t shed light on the “dark” we simply allow it to be part of the human experience and permeate even more.
Theories like the one discussed above also bring into play our emotions, feelings, perceptions and state of being. If consciousness and mind are directly intertwined and in some way help to create our experience, we must ask ourselves, from what collective state of being are we creating from?
These discussions also lend belief to the idea of God, although I won’t go there because that’s also a deeper discussion. There are many different ideas of what “God” may constitute.
Transform you, transform the world.
Join 120,000+ subscribers who get our weekly CE INSIGHT. A concise newsletter with actionable personal development tips and solutions for a new future.
We hate SPAM. We will never sell your information, for any reason.