by Iona Miller
Goswami, PhD has proposed a theory of consciousness,
rather than atoms, as the fundamental reality o the
material world. Based in the philosophy of monistic
idealism, he claims to obtain a consistent paradox-free
interpretation of the new physics. He suggests a quantum
mechanical, as well as classical nature for mind, which
accounts for nonlocal psychic phenomena.
In searching for the fundamental basis of physical reality and the
nature of the mind, Goswami (1993) has defined consciousness
as "the agency that affects quantum objects to make their behavior
sensible." In choosing this criterion he hopes to show how mind can
effect matter non-energetically because they share the same essence.
By making the leap from a universe based on bits of matter, to one
based in consciousness, he hopes to logically and coherently resolve
some of the major paradoxes of physics. He suggests that instead of
everything being made of atoms, everything is made of consciousness.
If quantum objects are waves that spread in existence at more than
one place, as QM has shown, then consciousness may be the agency
that focuses the waves so we can observe them at one place.
Goswami labels this philosophy,
"monistic as opposed to dualistic,
and it is idealism because ideas (not to be confused with
ideals) and the consciousness of them are considered to be the
basic elements of reality; matter is considered to be
Mental phenomena such as
self-consciousness, free will, creativity, and ESP are explained
anew in this reformulation of the mind-body in a fresh context.
As in both the mystical view and holographic universe (such as that
described by Bohm), there is only the dynamic play of one great
webwork of existence (Bohm's
holomovement). This unified movement, a dance of creation and
annihilation, has intentionality.
However, Goswami does not propose
that consciousness is mind; they are different concepts.
In monistic idealism, the consciousness of the subject in a
subject-object experience is the same consciousness that is the
ground of all being. Therefore, consciousness is unitive. The domain
of potentia also exists in consciousness. Nothing is outside
Buddha tells us that,
"There is an Unborn, Unoriginated,
Uncreated, Unformed. If there were not this Unborn, this
Unoriginated, this Uncreated, this Unformed, escape from the
world of the born, the originated, the created, the formed would
not be possible."
But there is this essential ground, and
it is possible to "escape" space-time, according to Buddha.
If the brain-mind is itself an object in a non-local consciousness
that encompasses all reality, then what we call objective empirical
reality is within this consciousness. The one becomes many through
self-reference, fragmentation into tangled hierarchies of
The trick is to distinguish between consciousness and awareness.
processes of which we are aware classical models prevail. When we
consciously see, consciousness collapses the quantum state of the
brain-mind. Unconscious processing does not effect collapse of the
quantum wave-function, pinning down quantum entities to one reality.
Thus, unconscious processing permits the expression of non-local
The situation in the brain-mind, with consciousness collapsing the
wave function may only happen when awareness is present. There is a
tangled hierarchy within the immanent self-reference of a system
An operation by a self-referential
system is where the von Neumann chain stops.
THAT DARN CAT
Erwin Schrodinger reminded us that,
"Observations are to be regarded as
discrete, discontinuous events. Between there are gaps which we
cannot fill in."
He illustrated his famous metaphor of
the uncertainty principle with the conundrum of
Schrodinger's Cat. All physics
students eventually get tired of hearing about this stupid cat, over
and over, pondering whether it will be alive or dead.
Goswami has tried to "put it to
bed," with his "nine lives of..." version:
In the first life, the cat is
treated statistically, as part of an ensemble. The cat is
offended (because its singularity is denied in this ensemble
interpretation) but not wounded.
In the second life, the cat is
viewed as an example of the quantum/classical dichotomy by
the divisive philosophers of macrorealism. The cat refuses
to trade its life/death dichotomy for another dichotomy.
In the third life, the cat is
confronted with irreversibility and randomness, but the cat
says, Prove it.
In the fourth life, the cat
confronts the hidden variables and what happens is still
In the fifth life, the neo-Copenhagenists
try to do away with the cat using the philosophy of logical
positivism. By most judgments, the cat escapes unscathed.
In the sixth life, the cat
encounters many worlds. Who knows, it may have perished in
some universe, but as far as we can tell, not in this one.
In the seventh life, the cat
meets Bohr and his complementarity, but the question What
constitutes a measurement? saves it.
In the eighth life, the cat
meets consciousness (of a dualistic vintage) face-to-face,
but Wigner's friend saves it.
Finally, in the ninth life, the
cat finds salvation in the idealist interpretation.
Only three of these models are not
The idealist resolution of the paradox of the cat's existence
demands that the consciousness of the observing subject choose one
facet from the multifaceted dead-and-alive coherent superposition of
the cat and thus seal its fate.
The subject is the chooser, and choice
is fundamental to existence:
"I choose, therefore I am."
Free choice means the possibility of
jumping out of an old context into a new one at a higher level. The
capacity for choice, even recognizing choice, makes us conscious of
the experiences we choose. From the myriad alternative
possibilities, we recognize the course of our becoming, and define
our self. The primary question of self-consciousness is to choose or
not to choose.
More accurate than the old notion of the unconscious is that our
conscious self is unconscious of most things most of the time and of
everything in dreamless sleep. Paradoxically, the unconscious is
holistically, non-locally conscious of all things all of the time.
It never sleeps. OUR CONSCIOUS SELF IS UNCONSCIOUS OF OUR
UNCONSCIOUS, AND THE UNCONSCIOUS IS ACTUALLY MORE CONSCIOUS than
Unconscious thoughts and feelings affect our conscious thoughts.
During unconscious perception, an unconscious feeling can produce an
unexplainable conscious feeling. According to Goswami, choice
is a concomitant of conscious experience, but not of unconscious
perception. Our subject-consciousness arises when there is a choice
made. When we do not choose, we do not own up to our perceptions.
Before choice, the state of the brain-mind is an ambiguous state -
like that of Schrodinger's cat. In quantum theory, the subject that
chooses is a single, universal subject, not our personal ego "I."
Thus, this universal choosing consciousness is also nonlocal.
Even if you introduce hidden variables to find a causal
interpretation of QM (quantum mechanics), as
David Bohm does, those hidden
variables have to be non-local. In Bohm's theory, the light that
projects the image of reality is not the light of creative
consciousness, but causal hidden variables - which current research
suggests may be deterministically chaotic, rather than
According to the idealist interpretation, violation to the EPR
Paradox signifies non-local correlation between photons. Hidden
variables are not needed as an explanation. Of course, to collapse
the wave function of non-locally correlated photons, consciousness
must act non-locally.
Therefore, simultaneously occurring events in our space-time world
can be related meaningfully to a common cause that resides in a
non-local realm outside space and time. This common cause is the act
of non-local collapse by consciousness. Thus it is not a message
transfer (from a sender through a channel to a receiver) but a
communication in consciousness. This has important repercussions for
information theory, based in causality.
Non-local consciousness might seem like a "hidden variable", but it
doesn't constitute causal parameters. It is simply us! Non-local
consciousness operates not with causal continuity, but with
non-linear creative discontinuity from moment to moment, event to
This discontinuity, the quantum jump out of the system, is the
essential component of creativity needed for consciousness to see
itself, as in self-reference. It means we can exercise the freedom
to be open to a new context.
DOMAINS OR FORMLESS POTENTIAL
According to the idealist interpretation, coherent superpositions
exist in a transcendent domain as formless archetypes of matter.
Suppose that the parallel universes of the many-worlds theory are
not material but archetypal in content - universes of the mind.
Then, each observation makes a causal pathway in the fabric of
possibilities in the transcendent domain of reality. Once the choice
is made, all except one of the pathways are excluded from the world
Goswami proposes that,
"the universe exists as formless
potential in myriad possible branches in the transcendent domain
and becomes manifest only when observed by conscious beings."
These self-referential observations plot
the universe's causal history, rejecting the myriad parallel
alternatives that never manifest.
The universe bifurcates in every event in the transcendent domain,
becoming many branches, until in one of the branches there is a
sentient being that can look with awareness and complete a quantum
measurement, according to Goswami. The causal pathway leading to
that sentient being collapses into space-time reality.
Meaning arises in the universe when sentient beings observe it,
choosing causal pathways from among the myriad transcendent
possibilities. This anthropocentric view is also reflected in
cosmology as the Anthropic Principle, where the cosmos is
created for our sake.
Amazingly, this is apparently compatible
with quantum physics.
The conviction has been growing among many physicists that
is an interactive system with a quantum mechanical macrostructure as
an important complement to the classical neuronal assembly.
The classical and quantum components of the brain-mind interact
within a basic idealist framework in which consciousness is primary.
The classical/quantum distinction is purely functional. Its essence
is one. Experienced mental states arise from the interaction of both
classical and quantum states.
The quantum component of the brain-mind is regenerative and its
states are multifaceted. It is the vehicle for conscious choice and
for creativity. In contrast, because it has a long regeneration
time, the classical component of brain-mind can form memory and thus
can act as a reference point for experience.
The archetypal component of the thought is revealed by its inherent
uncertainty: If we concentrate on the content of thought, we lose
sight of the direction in which the thought is heading. If we
concentrate on the direction of a thought, we lose sharpness in its
content. Its features (instantaneous content) equate with the
position of physical objects; association (movement of thought in
awareness) is like momentum in objects.
Between manifestations thought exists as transcendent archetypes -
as does the quantum object with its transcendent coherent
superposition (wave) and manifest one-faceted (particle) aspects.
Research shows spatial coherence of brain waves during meditation
proportional to the degree of pure awareness that the meditator
reports. Studies of remote viewing, mutual hypnosis, and group
meditation have shown coherence of brain waves of participants
sharing consciousness states.
As in therapeutic rapport or co-consciousness,
"two subjects interact for a period
until they feel that a direct (nonlocal) connection has been
established. The subjects then maintain their direct contact
from within individual Faraday cages at a distance. When the
brain of one of the subjects responds to an external stimulus
with an evoked potential, the other subject's brain shows a
transfer potential similar in form and strength to the evoked
Before the supervention of
consciousness, the brain-mind exists as formless potentia
(like any other object) in the transcendent domain of consciousness.
When nonlocal consciousness collapses the brain-mind's wave
function, it does so by choice and recognition, not by any energetic
process. Thus, "conservation of energy" is not violated in the
Goswami postulates the need for an EPR-correlated quantum
network, stating "It has to be there." Perhaps this is
Buckminster Fuller's vector equilibrium matrix, and
Thomas Bearden's zero vector
summation, which describe how matter "jitterbugs" into and out
of existence in quantum "creationism."
According to this idealist interpretation, consciousness chooses the
results of a single quantum measurement - that is, nonlocal unitive
consciousness. The intervention of the nonlocal consciousness
collapses the probability cloud of a quantum system.
In the manifest world, the selection process involved in the
collapse appears to be random, while in the transcendent realm the
selection process is seen as choice. Our consciousness chooses the
outcome of the collapse of the quantum state of our brain-mind.
Since this outcome is a conscious experience, we choose our
conscious experiences - yet remain unconscious of the underlying
It is this unconsciousness that leads to the illusory separateness -
the identity with the separate "I" of self-reference (rather than
the "we" of unitive consciousness). The illusory separateness takes
place in two stages, but the basic mechanism involved is called
tangled hierarchy, which is a way of achieving self-reference. The
self arises because of a veil of discontinuity, an infinite
oscillation. Out of discontinuity comes the veil and self-reference.
Mystics call it the Veil of Isis
or The Abyss.
The self of our self-reference is due to a tangled hierarchy, but
our consciousness is the consciousness of the Being that is beyond
the subject-object split. There is no other source of consciousness
in the universe.
The self of self-reference and the
consciousness of the original consciousness, together, make what we
EGO AND THE
Before collapse, the subject is not differentiated from the
archetypes of objects of experience - physical or mental. Collapse
brings about the subject-object division, and that leads to the
primary awareness of I-am-ness called the "quantum self." Awareness
of the quantum self also brings about collapse.
In Goswami's conceptualization, "the brain-mind is a dual quantum
system/ measuring apparatus," through which the universe becomes
self-aware. The universe cuts itself in two - subject/object -
terminating the von Neumann chain. We resolve the von Neumann chain
by recognizing that consciousness collapses the wave function by
acting self-referentially, not dualistically.
The old mechanistic concept was non-regenerative. Repeated
measurement interaction leads to a fundamental change in the
brain-mind's quantum system. Each previously experienced, learned
response reinforces the probability of the same response over again.
Learning (or prior experience) biases the brain-mind.
Before the response to a particular stimulus becomes conditioned,
the probability pool from which consciousness chooses our response
spans the mental states common to all people at all places at all
In conditioned behavior, the dual quantum system/measuring apparatus
becomes virtually classical. In the limit of a new experience, the
brain mind's response is creative. Experiences such as near-death
can instantly release much repressed unconscious conditioning, as
does therapeutic ego death. The psycho-social contexts of living are
no longer absolute to the truly fluid identity.
When the creative potency of the quantum component is not engaged,
the tangled hierarchy of the interacting components of the
brain-mind, in effect, becomes a simple hierarchy of the learned,
classical programs. The ego is an emergent property of our classical
self. The quantum mode is equivalent to the "still point" within.
Thus, ego emerges out of the introspective interaction of our
learned programs that result from our experience in the world, but
there is a twist. The separate self has no free will apart from that
of the quantum self, and ultimately, that of the unitive
consciousness. Consciousness always leaves some room for
unconditioned novelty, making possible what we know as free will.
This process can be viewed from a "top-down" epistemology or from a
bottom-up theory that subject-object consciousness arises as "order
How or why does consciousness split itself?
The states of the
brain-mind are considered to be quantum states, which are
probability-weighted, multifaceted, possibility structures.
Consciousness collapses the multifaceted structure (a coherent
superposition) choosing one facet but only in the presence of
brain-mind awareness, the mind-field in which objects of experience
Which comes first: awareness or choice?
This is a tangled hierarchy
which gives rise to self-reference, and subject/object split.
Secondary-awareness processes lead to intentionality - the tendency
to identify with an object.
The "I" of reflective awareness also arises out of these
secondary-awareness processes. Primary and secondary processes
normally remain preconscious, obscuring the tangled hierarchy of the
primary process. At this primary-process level there is no
conditioning which means unrestricted freedom of choice.
Benjamin Libet has shown that
even before a person experiences awareness of their actions (which
is necessary to free will), there is an evoked potential that
signals an objective observer that the person is going to will to
raise his or her arm.
Interestingly, as we all know, we retain our
free will to say no to raising an arm, even after the evoked
potential signals otherwise.
In psychological terms, nature refers to unconscious instincts that
drive us - libido; nurture refers to environmental conditioning,
much of which is also unconscious. A third leg is creativity, which
in this context is a drive from the collective unconscious.
Creativity is the creation of something new in an entirely new
context. Newness of the context is the key. We have access to the
vast archetypal content of the quantum states of mind (the pure
mental states) that extend far beyond the local experiences within
our lifetime. Creativity is fundamentally a nonlocal mode of
The creative act is the fruit of the encounter of the self's
classical and quantum modalities, according to Goswami. There are
stages in its development, but they are all tangled-hierarchical
encounters of these two modalities; the hierarchy is a tangled one
because the quantum modality remains preconscious in us.
The classical modality of the self, like the classical computer,
deals with information, but the self's quantum modality deals with
communication. Thus the first stage of the play of creativity is the
tangled play of information (development of expertise) and
communication (development of openness). It is tangled because you
cannot tell when information ends and communication begins; there is
a discontinuity in the "cosmic message."
Here the ego acts as the research assistant of the quantum modality
- and it takes a strong ego (or fluid ego) to handle the
de-structuring of the old that makes room for the new.
In the second stage of creative illumination, the encounter is
between the perspiration of the classical modality and the
inspiration of the quantum modality. When the brain's quantum state
develops as a pool of potentialities in response to a situation of
creative confrontation, the pool includes not only conditioned
states but also new, never-before-manifested states of possibility.
Since our personal pool is statistically weighted by our memories we
can minimize the mind's conditioning by keeping an open mind to
reduce the probability of (unconscious) conditioned responses, as in
creativity. We can increase the odds of manifesting a
low-probability creative idea by being persistent. Persistence
increases the number of collapses of the mind's quantum state
relative to the same question, increasing the chance to realize a
Creativity is enhanced if we confront ourselves with unlearned
stimuli. Unlearned stimuli that seem ambiguous - as in a
surrealistic painting - are especially useful for opening our minds
to new contexts. Since conscious observation collapses the coherent
superposition, there is a certain advantage in unconscious
processing. Uncollapsed coherent superpositions can act upon others,
creating many more possibilities for the eventual collapse.
The classical modality performs an equally essential function: It
ensures the persistence of the will (the perspiration). Hence, the
traditional importance in Magick of subordinating the
personal will to True Will. The creative individual's ego has
to be strong-willed to be persistent and has to be able to handle
the anxiety associated with unknowing - the quantum jump into the
A creative experience is one of the few times when we directly
experience the quantum modality with little or no time lag. It is
this encounter with primary process experience that produces the
elation, the ah-ha, the creative act of self-realization. It can
lead directly to personal transformation of one's own context of
In outer creativity, quantum jumps enable us to view an external
problem in a new context. In inner creativity, the quantum jump
allows us to break from established patterns of behavior, which
together make up what is known as character. Inner creativity means
transpersonal experience, the uncertainty of being beyond the ego,
which tends toward death-like stasis.
So, for inner creativity, one develops and practices awareness of
one's conditioning, becoming aware of inner-growth potential.
Transformation is an ongoing process, always defining an
ever-more-compassionate context for our being. Recognition begins
the shift of identity to the quantum-atman, comprehending a new
Creative quandaries, like the Zen koan, intensify a
double-bind which dissolves the ego and facilitates a third state of
unbiased emptiness, wherein the probability pool of choice is
extended to the creative dimension. The quantum wave of our mind
expands and is ready to embrace new responses.
There is, however, no self-nature, no independent existence, in
either subject or object: Only consciousness is reality, but how do
we comprehend it? What is before collapse? The tangled hierarchy -
the infinite chaotic oscillation of yes-no answers.
The joy of
meditative experiences is the original joy of consciousness in its