exploring self-realization, sacred personhood, and full humanity
Dr. Amit Goswami
Return to Afterlife main-page
biographical information from amitgoswami.org
Theoretical Quantum Physicist Dr. Amit Goswami is a retired full professor from the University of Oregon’s Department of Physics where he served from 1968 to 1997. He is a pioneer of the new paradigm of science called “science within consciousness,” an idea he explicated in his seminal book, The Self-Aware Universe, where he also solved the quantum measurement problem elucidating the famous observer effect...
In his most recent book, The Everything Answer Book (April 2017), Goswami’s basic premise is that quantum physics is not only the future of science, but it is also the key to understanding consciousness, death, God, psychology, and the meaning of life. In short, quantum physics offers a theory of everything.
In his private life Goswami is a practitioner of spirituality and transformation. He calls himself a quantum activist. He appeared in the film What the Bleep Do We Know!? and its sequel Down the Rabbit Hole as well as the documentaries Dalai Lama Renaissance and the award winning The Quantum Activist.
Few subjects command greater importance than Amit Goswami's quantum mechanics. No one can claim to be an educated person without understanding the basics of Goswami's assertions.
Most high school - college, as well - physics courses focus, in the main, upon a Newtonian perspective of determinism, cause-and-effect, and predictability. There's much to be said for Newton's paradigm: it took us safely to the moon and back and works well in certain contexts, especially, the macro-world. However, as we've come to see in the last hundred years, the domain of "the very small" - quantum mechanics - knows little of this well-ordered life.
"the only mystery" of science
A good place to begin one's investigations is the classic Double-Slit experiment. The results will rock your world. Nobel Laureate Dr. Richard Feynman, speaking of the Double-Slit Experiment:
"We choose to examine a phenomenon which is impossible to explain in any classical [Newtonian] way, and which has in it the heart of quantum mechanics. In reality, it contains the only mystery."
There's a great little primer for Double-Slit, a cartoon-version featuring "Doctor Quantum," that you'll want to view on Youtube. It was produced for the "What The Bleep" science documentary:
See the "Doctor Quantum" video HERE.
The wild and whacky world of quantum mechanics, as we discover, is not what we would normally consider to be "common sense" or logical. Here's one of the main findings:
- When observed, electrons behave/manifest/operate as particles; but when the electrons are not observed - which includes electronic sensing devices - they act as waves.
What are the implications? Observation - that is, a perceiving consciousness - determines what manifests as "reality" or does not. Without a "present awareness," all things remain in a state of infinite possibility, of Potentia - and come into materialistic being only when a choice is made, when an observing presence collapses wave-forms to produce particles.
This is not theory; this is the way the universe really works - at the sub-microscopic level.
“If we ourselves are made out of these exact same particles [which produce the counterintuitive results of the Double Slit Experiment], then why is the act of us observing something so fundamentally different from everything else in the Universe? This is one of the greatest unsolved scientific and philosophical mysteries of all time.”
Eugene Khutoryansky, Physics and Math Videos
Dr. Goswami asserts that all fields of research -- medicine, psychology, biology, sociology, theology; on and on -- must be reformulated to include the quantum view and its shattering implications of "what's real"! However, he says, most scientists and academicians do not possess a working knowledge of quantum fact and philosophy, and, therefore, many disciplines of enquiry are still subsumed, and burdened, by outmoded Newtonian "clockwork universe" principles!
No subject worthy of careful consideration can be safely summarized on one page. My purpose is one of encouragement for you to investigate further.
I will offer several quotations from Dr. Goswami.
What if consciousness is the ground of being? What if the possibilities discovered by quantum physics are the possibilities of consciousness itself? Remember there is already a class of people who think in this way. They are called mystics, and they say it is all God. Finally, a few scientists dared to say that some of the characteristics attributed to God are similar to what we describe as consciousness.
The current worldview has it that everything is made of matter, and everything can be reduced to the elementary particles of matter, the basic constituents of matter. And causation arises from the interactions of these basic building blocks or elementary particles; elementary particles make atoms, atoms make molecules, molecules make cells, and cells make brain. But, all the way, the ultimate cause is always the interactions between the elementary particles. This is the belief - all causation moves from the elementary particles. This is what we call upward causation. So in this view, what human beings think of as free will does not really exist. It is only an epiphenomenon or secondary phenomenon, secondary to the causal power of matter. And any causal power that we seem to be able to exert on matter is just an illusion. This is the current paradigm.
Now, the opposite view is that everything starts with consciousness. That is, consciousness is the ground of all being. In this view, consciousness imposes downward causation. In other words, our free will is real. When we act in the world we really are acting with causal power. This view does not deny that matter also has causal potency - it does not deny that there is causal power from elementary particles upward, so there is upward causation - but in addition it insists that there is also downward causation. It shows up in our creativity and acts of free will, or when we make moral decisions. In those occasions we are actually witnessing downward causation by consciousness.
Consciousness is primary. Brain does not do consciousness, consciousness does the brain.
Quantum physics presents a new and exciting worldview that challenges old concepts, such as deterministic trajectories of motion and causal continuity. If initial conditions do not forever determine an object's motion, if instead, every time we observe, there is a new beginning, then the world is creative at the base level.
I had vainly been seeking a description of consciousness within science; instead, what I and others have to look for is a description of science within consciousness. We must develop a science compatible with consciousness, our primary experience.
The idea that consciousness is the ground of being is the basis of all spiritual traditions.
Any attempt to dismiss a phenomenon that is not understood merely by explaining it as hallucination becomes irrelevant when a coherent scientific theory can be applied.
For most of us, creative motivation requires a crisis—either externally, like a threat to our physical survival, or an internal crisis of intense suffering.
Naturally we project that the moon is always there in space-time, even when we are not looking. Quantum physics says no. When we are not looking, the moon’s possibility wave spreads, albeit by a minuscule amount. When we look, the wave collapses instantly; thus the wave could not be in space-time. It makes more sense to adapt an idealist metaphysic assumption: There is no object in space-time without a conscious subject looking at it.
Consciousness is the agency that collapses the wave of a quantum object, which exists in potentia, making it an immanent particle in the world of manifestation.
The fundamental process of Nature lies outside space-time but generates events that can be located in space-time.
The new paradigm posits instead a monism based on the primacy of consciousness-that consciousness (variously called Spirit, God, Godhead, Ain Sof, Tao, Brahman, etc., in popular and spiritual traditions), not matter, is the ground of all being; it is a monism based on a consciousness that is unitive and transcendent but one that becomes many in sentient beings such as us. We are that consciousness. All the world of experience, including matter, is the material manifestation of transcendent forms of consciousness.
Consciousness is the true reality, and matter is an epiphenomenon bordering on trivial.
there is but One Consciousness in the universe
Elsewhere in this series, I featured Dr. Goswami's research concerning free will, our ability to choose:
"We create our own reality, but there is a subtlety in consciousness. We do not create reality in our ordinary state of consciousness, but in a non-ordinary state of consciousness...
That "ordinary state" is the world of the dysfunctional Small Ego, with "non-ordinary" as the True Self, that part of ourselves linked to Universal Consciousness.
Consider the profound implications. The selfish Small Ego, ever grasping for more, attempts to create reality with its choices - but cannot; not in an all-inclusive way. The world is chock-a-block with billions of individual yapping egos, each attempting to gain advantage. How temporary are these futile efforts.
However, when we look at life from a higher perspective, having allied ourselves, via the hidden inner-person, with Universal Consciousness, we find ourselves energized with altruistic purpose; to borrow Frederic Myers' phrase, we become "ambitious for the sake of others." But, when we do, this spirit of beneficence is properly viewed not just as individual good intention, but now part of something much larger - the very spirit of love and service that created the universe for the ultimate benefit and happiness of all.
Stated succinctly, "there is but One Consciousness in the cosmos!" Our choice is to either find resonance with it or to succumb to base, one-against-all survival-instincts.
Editor's last word:
"Consciousness is the ground of all being" because consciousness collapses wave-forms, transforming them into particles, and thereby draws from Potentia a material form to manifest in the world! This is "downward causation."
All things of the universe exist within consciousness - not, consciousness as just another element within the universe, which is the view of materialists: "upward causation."
Goswami suggests that, as consciousness is necessary to precipitate matter, such process becomes evidence for the existence of a supreme power, the Great Consciousness, the original superintending awareness of the cosmos.
All this makes a ready link to our subject of Afterlife. We are not primarily physical beings, living out transitory and ephemeral lives; in our deepest persons, we are linked to, and share in, the Great Consciousness. As this sacred sense of Awareness rests not upon material foundation, it will survive the disintegration of the outward, material shell.
No one, in quietest moments, especially, upon peering into the dazzling starry night, has ever failed to sense an affinity with the Great Consciousness.