THE SELF-AWARE UNIVERSE HOW CONSCIOUSNESS
CREATES THE MATERIAL WORLD
Amit Goswami, Ph.D.
WITH RICHARD E. REED
AND MAGGIE GOSWAMI
ALSO BY AMIT GOSWAMI
The Concepts of Physics Quantum Mechanics
With Maggie Goswami
The Cosmic Dancers
Illustrations vii Preface ix Foreword xiii
Part z THE INTEGRATION OF SCIENCE AND SPIRITUALITY
Introduction to Part 1 1. The Chasm and the Bridge 3 2. The Old Physics and Its Philosophical Legacy 13 3. Quantum Physics and the Demise of Material Realism 24 4. The Philosophy of Monistic Idealism 48
Part 2 IDEALISM AND THE RESOLUTION OF THE QUANTUM PARADOXES Introduction to Part 2 635- Objects in Two Places at Once and Effects That
Precede Their Causes 656. The Nine Lives of Schrodinger's Cat 78 7. I Choose, Therefore I Am lo5 8. The Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen Paradox 113 9- The Reconciliation of Realism and Idealism 137
Part 3SELF-REFERENCE: HOW THE ONE BECOMES MANY
Introduction to Part 3 147lo. Exploring the Mind-Body Problem 149 Il. In Search of the Quantum Mind 161 12. Paradoxes and Tangled Hierarchies 176 13. The 'T' of Consciousness 188 14. Integrating the Psychologies 199
Part 4 THE RE-ENCHANTMENT OF THE PERSON Introduction to Part 4 2 1 315. War and Peace 217 16. Outer and Inner Creativity225 17. The Awakening of Buddhi 237 18. An Idealist Theory of Ethics 256 19. Spiritual Joy 269
Glossary 275 Notes 287 Bibliography 297 Index 3o7
When I was a graduate student studying quantum mechanics, a group of us would spend hours discussing such esoterica as, Can an electron really be at two places at the same time? I could accept that, yes, the electron can be at two places at the same time; the message of quantum mathematics, although full of subtlety, is unambiguous on this point. Does an ordinary object, however--a chair or a desk, things that we call "real"--behave like an electron? Does it become a wave and start spreading in the wave's inexorable way whenever no one is looking?
Objects found in our everyday experience do not seem to behave in the strange ways common to quantum mechanics. Thus, subconsciously, it is easy for us to be lulled into thinking that macroscopic matter is different from microscopic particles--that its conventional behavior is governed by Newtonian laws, which are referred to as classical physics. Indeed, many physicists stop puzzling over the paradoxes of quantum physics and succumb to this solution. They divide the world into quantum and classical objects--and so did I, although I did not realize what I was doing. To forge a successful career in physics, you cannot worry too much about such recalcitrant questions as the quantum puzzles. The pragmatic way of doing quantum physics, I was told, is to learn to calculate. I therefore compromised, and the tantalizing questions of my youth gradually shifted to a back burner. They did not, however, disappear. Circumstances shifted for me, and--after my umpteenth bout of the stress heartburn that characterized my competitive-physics career--I began to remember the exuberance I once felt about physics. I realized that there must be a joyful way of approaching the subject, but I needed to restore my spirit of inquiry into the meaning of the universe and to abandon
the mental compromises I had made for career motives. A book by the philosopher Thomas Kuhn that distinguishes paradigm research from scientific revolutions that shift paradigms was very helpful. I had done my share of paradigm research; it was time to move on to the frontier of physics and to think about a paradigm shift. Just about the time of my personal crossroads, Fritjof Capra's book The Tao of Physics came out. Although my initial reaction to the book was jealousy and rejection, it did touch me deeply. After a while I could see that the book broaches a problem that it does not investigate thoroughly. Capra delves into the parallels between a mystical view of the world and that of quantum physics but does not investigate the reason for these parallels: Are they more than coincidence? At last, I had found the focus of my inquiry into the nature of reality. Capra's entree to questions about reality was through elementary particle physics, but I intuited that the key issues are most directly confronted in the problem of how to interpret quantum physics. This is what I set out to investigate. I did not anticipate initially that this would be such an interdisciplinary project. I was teaching a course on the physics of science fiction (I have always had a soft spot for science fiction), and a student commented: "You talk like my psychology professor, Carolin Keutzer!" A collaboration with Keutzer ensued that, although not leading to any major insight, did introduce me to a lot of relevant psychological literature. I eventually became familiar with the work of Mike Posner and his cognitive psychology group at the University of Oregon, which was to play a crucial role in my research. Besides psychology, my subject of research demanded considerable knowledge of neurophysiology--brain science. I met my neurophysiology teacher through the mediation of John Lilly, the famous dolphinologist. Lilly had kindly invited me to participate in a week-long Esalen seminar that he was giving; Frank Barr, M.D., was also a participant. If my passion was quantum mechanics, Frank's was brain theory. I was able to learn from him just about everything I needed to begin the brain-mind aspect of this book. One other crucial ingredient for my ideas to gel consisted of the theories of artificial intelligence. Here, too, I was very fortunate. One of the exponents of artificial intelligence theory, Doug Hofstadter, began his career as a physicist; he earned his degree at the University of Oregon graduate school, where I teach. Naturally,
when his book came out, I had a special interest in it and learned some of my key ideas from Doug's research.
The meaningful coincidences go on and on. I was initiated to the research in parapsychology through many discussions with another of my colleagues, Ray Hyman, who is a very open-minded skeptic. Last but not least of the important coincidences was my meeting with three mystics in Lone Pine, California, during the summer of 1984: Franklin Merrell-Wolff, Richard Moss, and Joel Morwood. In a sense, since my father was a Brahmin guru in India, I grew up immersed in mysticism. At school, however, I started a long detour through the conventional training and practice of a scientist with a compartmentalized specialty. This direction pointed me away from my childhood sympathies and resulted in my believing that the objective reality defined by conventional physics is the only reality--anything subjective is due to a complex dance of atoms waiting to be deciphered by us. In contrast, the Lone Pine mystics talked about consciousness as being "original, self-contained, and constitutive of all things." Their ideas led to considerable cognitive dissonance for me in the beginning, but eventually I realized that one can still do science even if one assumes the primacy of consciousness rather than of matter. This way of doing science, moreover, routs not only the quantum paradoxes of my teenaged puzzling but also new ones of psychology, the brain, and artificial intelligence. Well, this book is the end product of my roundabout journey. It took ten to fifteen years to overcome my bias for classical physics and then to research and write the book. I hope that the fruit of my effort will be worth your while. To paraphrase Rabindranath Tagore,
I have listened And I have looked With open eyes. I have poured my soul Into the world Seeking the unknown Within the known. And I sing out loud In amazement.