Amit Goswami will lead an evening lecture called The Self-Aware Universe on February 21, 2014.
By Amit Goswami
Certain spiritual teachings can be very confusing when we first hear them, whether we are scientists, or not. When back in the 1970s, the physicist Fred Alan Wolf created the evocative phrase “we create our own reality,” it sounded good, but gave rise to many disappointments. People tried to manifest fancy automobiles, vegetable gardens in desert environments, or parking spaces in busy downtown areas. Wolf based his phrase on the work of mathematician, John von Neumann, who first introduced the idea of the “collapse” of consciousness, which occurs when the quantum wave of possibility “chooses” one of its facets, which then becomes actualized.
Yet many attempts to follow through and create our own reality produced a mixed bag of outcomes because the would-be-creators were unaware of something important:
We create our own reality, yes, but we don’t do that in our ordinary state of consciousness, but in a non-ordinary state of consciousness. The paradox of Wigner’s friend, articulated by Eugene Wigner, a Nobel laureate physicist, helps to clarify this.
Wigner approaches a quantum traffic light which offers two possibilities: red and green. Simultaneously, Wigner’s friend approaches the same light from the road perpendicular to Wigner’s. They both choose green, but their choices are contradictory. If both choices materialize at the same time, there would be pandemonium. Obviously, only one of them gets to choose, but which one?
An understanding of narcissism offers an insight as we go about trying to create our own reality. How could it be that only one person in the world is sentient, and the rest of us only exist within this person’s imagination?
Three physicists independently resolved Wigner’s paradox. They were Ludwig Bass in Australia, myself at Oregon, and Casey Blood at Rutgers, New Jersey. The solution was simply this: Consciousness is one, nonlocal and cosmic, behind the local individuality of Wigner and his friend. Although both men want the green light, the one consciousness chooses for both of them, avoiding any contradiction. The one consciousness chooses such that the result dictated by quantum probability calculations is validated: Wigner and his friend each get green fifty percent of the time. Yet for any individual crossing, a creative opportunity for getting green is left open for each.
In formulating my theory about this, the underlying question was: What is the nature of consciousness that enables it to be the free agent of downward causation without any paradox?
The answer was: Consciousness has to be unitive, one and only for all of us. This oneness of consciousness is the basis of our theories about it.
When my paper proclaiming this was published back in 1989, a University of Mexico neurophysiologist, Jacobo Grinberg-Zylberbaum, noticed it. Grinberg was studying novel transfers of electrical brain-activity between two people. Intuiting that my theory was relevant to his research, he asked me to visit his laboratory and check out his experimental set up and the data to help him interpret it. Soon Grinberg and collaborators wrote the first paper proclaiming a modern scientific verification of the idea of oneness of consciousness.
The Good News Experiment: We Are One?
Since then, four separate experiments have shown that quantum consciousness, the author of downward causation, is nonlocal, and unitive. Quantum physics provides an amazing principle to operate with–nonlocality. The principle of locality says that all communication must proceed through local signals with speed limits. Einstein established the speed of light as the speed limit. This precludes instantaneous communication via signals. And yet, quantum objects are able to influence one another instantly once they interact and become correlated through quantum nonlocality. In 1982, physicist Alain Aspect and his collaborators confirmed this with a pair of photons (quanta of light). There’s no contradiction to Einsteinian thinking, once we recognize quantum nonlocality for what it is–a signal-less interconnectedness outside space and time.
Grinberg, in 1993, was trying to demonstrate quantum nonlocality for two correlated brains. Two people meditate together with the intention of direct (signalless, nonlocal) communication. After twenty minutes, they are separated (while still continuing their unifying intention), placed in individual Faraday cages (electromagnetically impervious chambers), and each brain is wired up to an electroencephalogram (EEG) machine. One subject is shown a series of light flashes producing in his or her brain an electrical activity that is recorded in the EEG machine, producing an “evoked potential” extracted by a computer from the brain noise. Surprisingly, the same evoked potential was found to appear in the other subject’s brain, and viewable on the EEG of this subject (again minus brain noise). This is called a “transferred potential,” but is similar to the evoked potential in phase and strength. Control subjects (those who neither meditate together nor can hold the intention for signal-less communication during the duration of the experiment) do not show any transferred potential.
Obviously, the experiment demonstrates the nonlocality of brain responses, but it also demonstrates the nonlocality of quantum consciousness. How else to explain how the forced choice of the evoked response in one subject’s brain can lead to the free choice of an (almost) identical response in the correlated partner’s brain? As stated above, the experiment since then has been replicated several times by the neuropsychiatrist Peter Fenwick and collaborators in 1998 in London, by Jiri Wackermann et al in 2003, and by the Bastyr University researcher Leana Standish and her collaborators in 2004.
The conclusion derived from these experiments is radical and can integrate science and spirituality, Vedanta style. Quantum consciousness, the precipitator of the downward causation of choice from quantum possibilities is what esoteric spiritual traditions of many traditions call God. (In Sanskrit, Ishwara.) In a sense, we have rediscovered God within science. However it is within a new paradigm of science, based not on the primacy of matter as in the old science, but on the primacy of consciousness. Consciousness is the ground of all being which we now can recognize as what the spiritual tradition of Vedanta calls Brahman, and what esoteric Christianity calls Godhead, or Christ.
The Power of Intention
Grinberg’s experiment also demonstrates the power of our intention, which parapsychologist Dean Radin has also studied. One of Radin’s experiments took place during the O. J. Simpson trial, when many people were watching the trial on TV. Radin correctly hypothesized that the intentions of the viewing audience would widely fluctuate depending on whether the courtroom drama was intense or ho-hum. This activity, he theorized, might influence random number generators. Radin asked a group of psychologists to plot and note down in real time the intensity of the courtroom drama. Meanwhile, in the laboratory, Radin measured the deviations of random number generators. He found that the random number generators maximally deviated from randomness precisely when the courtroom drama was high. What does this mean? The philosopher Gregory Bateson said, “the opposite of randomness is choice.” So the correlation proves the creative power of intention. In another series of experiments, Radin found that random number generators deviate from randomness in meditation halls when people meditate together (showing high intention), but they did not at a corporate board meeting!
I’ll bet you’re wondering how to develop the power of intention. We all try to manifest things through our intentions, sometimes they work, but less often than not. This is because we are in our ego, rather than higher consciousness, when we intend. But how do we change that?
I propose a four stage process: An intention must start with the ego since that is where we ordinarily are, local, selfish. At the second stage, we intend for everyone to go beyond selfishness. We don’t need to worry, we haven’t lost anything. When we say “everyone” that includes us, too. In the third stage, we allow our intentions to become a prayer: if my intention resonates with the intention of the whole, of quantum consciousness, then let it come to fruition. At the fourth stage, the prayer must pass into silence, become a meditation.
You may have seen a recent movie, The Secret or have read a book by the same name. The movie talks about the secret of manifestation through our intention. The main message is good. To manifest, the book and the movie teach us, not only do we have to actively intend, but also have to learn to passively wait. Maybe the intended object will come to us. That’s why I too recommend that we end in silence, waiting.
If we wait too long, however, we may forget what we were intending. So we cut short the waiting and become active again in our search. In this way the real secret of manifestation is an alternation between doing and being. I sometimes call this a do-be-do-be-do lifestyle. In India, we are in a be-be-be lifestyle, haven’t you noticed? In America and the West, of course, it is do-do-do. The connoisseur of manifestation via intention-making takes the middle path, do-be-do-be-do.
There is one final secret: How do we know what consciousness intends so we can align our intention with it? The answer is creative evolution. Consciousness intends to evolve us toward greater good for everyone through creative evolution.