May 9, 2016

Will the “Real” Reality Please Stand Up?.


When your mind and heart are truly open abundance will flow to you effortlessly and easily.

One peculiarity of our times is that people are so quick to accept the reality they see, hear, touch, taste, and smell. We do this automatically, disregarding the fact that every preceding age was totally mystified by existence, to the point that mystics, poets, philosophers, sages, and spiritual teachers, without exception, insisted that there was an invisible, hidden dimension which constituted the “real” reality. In a hidden realm could be found God and the gods, heavens and hells, a domain of perfect forms (according to Plato), Nirvana (according to the Buddha), or some version of spirits, ancestors, shamanistic creatures, and so on.

Where did this “real” reality go? The easy answer was simple. The hidden dimension was extinguished by science. In a scientific age, nothing was considered real unless it was formed by bits of matter (molecules, atoms, subatomic particles) bound by elementary forces. On this foundation, which is often called physicalism, reality became consistent from top to bottom, from the farthest galaxies to the domain of the quantum, leaving everyday reality—rocks, people, trees, the Republican Party—sandwiched in between. Until very recently, physicalism provided a seamless picture of existence, minus all the gods and monsters relegated to the past.

But the easy answer has been unsatisfactory for over a century, even by the standards of science, and now physicalism hangs on by dint of scientific superstition, given that actually proving it is impossible. Without a doubt modern physics has revived a hidden, invisible, formless dimension that exists beyond time and space. This dimension preceded the Big Bang (with apologies for using “preceded,” since the word implies time, and there is strong evidence that time came into existence only with or even after the Big Bang.) Without going into detail, we can accept what modern cosmology asserts, that something came out of nothing, the something being our universe and the nothing a formless dimension we can dub the pre-created state (even though there are problems with any word assigned to describe it, since words are a creation in time and space also).

So the mystery of the “real” reality has returned with a vengeance. This poses an immediate intellectual challenge, to find a way to understand the pre-created state but also a second, more practical challenge, how to adjust our lives, if we need to, to a completely new reality. Let’s confront the first challenge now, with a future post devoted to the second. There are three routes to solving the mystery of the “real” reality:

  1. Plug away at it with the tools of modern science until an answer is arrived at. This is the default position of most scientists, who assume that the triumphal march of the scientific method, based on measurement, data collection, and experiments, cannot be stopped.
  2. Surrender to the fact that a timeless realm beyond our universe will never yield to modern science, because aside from mathematical conjecture (which abounds), our minds cannot wrap themselves around it. This is a minority position occupied largely by a handful of philosophically minded theorists who believe that physicalism is naïve in the face of a formless, dimensionless domain totally alien to the human brain, which without a doubt requires time, space, matter, and energy in order to exist—these are the very things we must do without in order to describe the hidden dimension.
  3. Develop a new method of inquiry that can work reliably outside physicalism. This new method won’t be science, religion, or mysticism as they are usually pigeonholed, but it could be feasible as a new paradigm.

You can see that the third route is the most optimistic, since the first has no sound basis and the second amounts to giving up. But in order for a new paradigm to create a reliable kind of investigation, it faces one seemingly impossible hurdle. It must comprehend the “real” reality without relying on time, space, matter, and energy. This seems to imply that we must think about the hidden dimension without using the human brain—a tough obstacle, indeed.

Yet there is a way forward, which is currently being developed by a cadre of theorists who propose that consciousness is the answer. If we live in a conscious universe, there is no need for any of the assumptions of physicalism. Instead of accepting matter and energy as absolutes in creation, every phenomenon becomes a modality of consciousness. In everyday life we accept that only thoughts, feelings, sensations, and images in the brain stand for conscious activity. This makes the brain a privileged object in creation. Even though it is obvious that the brain is made of the same chemicals as a banana, activated by the same forces as lightning, the superstition of physicalism treats the brain as unique in the universe (so far as we know).

If we take the drastic step of demoting the human brain from its (false) privileged position, reality shifts just where we need it to, toward a single entity that is totally consistent, uniform, evolving, self-created, self-regulated, and self-governing. That’s a huge chunk to bite off, but in fact we attribute these very qualities to our brain and to thinking itself. If we shake off the last vestige of physicalism—and why not, since its foundations crumbled long ago? —the primacy of consciousness leads to the following remarkable insights:

  • The fossil record, which holds the history of life on Earth, is still accurate. But its existence came about as a human experience and a human interpretation of that experience.
  • All biological organisms, including dinosaurs and us, exist in the same way: as perceptual and cognitive experiences in consciousness. Consciousness is not our personal property. We experience the fossil record in our awareness just as we experience our own body-mind in awareness. From the perspective of sensations, images, feelings, and thoughts. Matter and energy “out there” has no privileged status, since even a far-flung galaxy is knowable only as a perception in our awareness. “In here” and “out there” occupy a level playing field.
  • Matter, including rocks, tress, clouds, and stars, is an interpretation of our experience in human consciousness. We create our version of reality strictly according to our localized species of consciousness, nothing else. To Bo, a dog at the White House, his species of consciousness creates a different reality. Bo doesn’t know that his owner is the President, for example.  That’s a story invented by humans, as are race, nationality, gods, money, myths, latitude, longitude, Darwinism, etc.
  • Science itself is a human story invented in human consciousness.
  • If we try to reduce our stories to something more basic, known as raw experience, what we arrive at as building blocks are no longer atoms and subatomic particles but the qualia (qualities) of experience. These begin with sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell, none of which exist outside us. Photons are not bright; roses have no fragrance; thunder isn’t loud in any intrinsic way. Raw experience is a species-specific collection of sensations, images, feelings, and thoughts. These constitute our perceptions.
  • The physical universe therefore is actually the perceptual universe. It exists, insofar as we can know it at all, through our own experience and interpretation. Nothing “out there” has any property we do not assign to it.
  • If we attempt to go beyond the human-created universe, we arrive at something inexplicable, which would seem to pose the same insurmountable problem faced by physicalism: something comes out of nothing. Only in this case, consciousness has no pre-created state. It is already without form and dimension, here and now, in everyday life. There is no need for an alien domain devoid of consciousness. Consciousness embraces time and the timeless, dimension and the dimensionless, here and there, then and now.
  • Since consciousness is in fact the “real” reality, the rest is a story, a useful narrative for creating history, psychology, the hard sciences, and so on. At present technology is pivotal in the story, since it redounds to our benefit but could also lead to our ultimate extinction through a variety of means, from nuclear warfare and robot armies to eco disasters.
  • Yet no matter how worried or encouraged our story may be, all stories are a model of reality, not reality itself.  Reality cannot be modeled, because its basic materials have no qualities we can touch, taste, smell, think about, or perceive in any way. Reduced to a formula, Reality = Existence + Awareness of Existence.
  • Language plays a crucial role in disguising the “real” reality. We gave names to perceived forms, and then bought into the de facto reality of these forms (matter, energy, brain, universe, etc.). The truth is that all phenomena are united as activities arising in consciousness, persisting for a while, and then subsiding back into the formless state of pure consciousness, the way that waves arise and fall in the ocean. By buying into the play of name and form, we got bamboozled into the superstition of matter as the essence of what is real. In fact, matter is an object lesson is illusion.

These insights have existed in the world’s wisdom traditions for centuries, both East and West, and the hope of modern science that such traditions could be ignored has come back to bite us. At the very least everyone must agree that the “real” reality is wonderfully inexplicable. Why this matters to everyday existence is the topic of the next post.

(To be cont.)

Deepak Chopra MD, FACP, founder of The Chopra Foundation and co-founder of The Chopra Center for Wellbeing, is a world-renowned pioneer in integrative medicine and personal transformation, and is Board Certified in Internal Medicine, Endocrinology and Metabolism.  He is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians and a member of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists. Chopra is the author of more than 80 books translated into over 43 languages, including numerous New York Times bestsellers. His latest books are Super Genes co-authored with Rudolph Tanzi, PhD  and Quantum Healing (Revised and Updated): Exploring the Frontiers of Mind/Body Medicine.


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  1. Tài Kubin

    Deepak Chopra,Soul of Leadership in Prague ~ #wwwplayscom02

  2. Tài Kubin

    Deepak Chopra,Soul of Leadership in Prague ~ #wwwplayscom02

  3. Tài Kubin

    Deepak Chopra,Soul of Leadership in Prague ~ #wwwplayscom02

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April 21, 2014

Will the “Real” Reality Please Stand Up?.


When your mind and heart are truly open abundance will flow to you effortlessly and easily.

By Deepak Chopra, MD

In the pursuit of knowledge about the universe, recent discoveries have pushed earlier than the Big Bang, bringing physics to the point when the early universe was doubling in size every hundredth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a second. Such fine-scale measurement is awe-inspiring. The technicalities of how a Cold Little Swoosh preceded the Hot Big Bang was lucidly presented in a New York Times article by the noted cosmologist Max Tegmark. He explained for us laymen why physicists are so excited about the discovery of gravitational waves that originated so early in cosmological time, another victory for the predictive powers of quantum field theory.

One is left with the impression that science has now delved much deeper into reality, getting closer to the origins of the universe and therefore our own origins. However, there's an analogy that seems relevant here. If you wanted to know the reality of music, would you study a radio as it broadcasts a Mozart symphony, taking it apart and delving into the atomic and subatomic structure of its transistors, or would you study music as a creation of the human mind?

The answer seems obvious, and yet by dismantling the cosmos down to trillionths of a second, physics is basically dismantling a mechanism, like a radio. This leaves aside the unassailable fact that like music, our entire knowledge of the universe arrives through subjective experience. We are immersed in reality, not detached from it. The exciting discoveries of cosmology keep advancing along an objective track when it's well known in quantum physics that objectivity has definite limits. Whatever cosmology is discovering, it may very well not be reality itself.

So how do we know what's real? One way is to trust the evidence of the five senses, which deliver a tangible world of sights and sounds. But the five senses indicate that the sun rises in the East and sets in the West, which is an illusion. Many other illusions exist, enough to make reliance on the five senses quite shaky. Giving them a grade, the five senses get no more than a C for explaining the physical world, but they deserve a solid B for telling us about our inner world, since we sense pain, pleasure, moods, likes and dislikes, etc. as extensions of the five senses. Remembering the hot touch of a stove is the recapture of a sensory event, for example.

To untangle what is illusory from what is factual, a second way to explore reality is available, using the rational mind. Reason gave rise to science, with its data, measurements, explanatory models, scientific machinery, etc. It deserves an A for measuring the physical world, which is good enough to tempt many people into believing that an ultimate way of knowing reality has been found. But reason gets a C when it comes to the inner world, because the rational mind doesn't even know where an idea comes from, much less the source of creativity, insight, love, beauty, imagination, and many other aspects of mind. Consciousness cannot be explained objectively, despite the hopes and claims of neuroscience. The brain functions like a radio, delivering the music of the mind, as it were. As you dissect it, you can delve very deeply into the brain's physical structure. However, just as the reality of music eludes anyone who tries to find it inside a radio, the nature of mind will elude anyone who tries to find it inside the brain.

To know what is "really" real requires going beyond the five senses and the evidence of reason. The world's wisdom traditions proclaim that reality is known only by examining experience, first and foremost, which entails looking directly at consciousness. This method is a radical departure from anything most people have ever experienced. Once you look at experience directly, however, some startling conclusions emerge:

– The universe reflects our human perspective.
– All so-called objective measures depend upon the human nervous system, which has the limitation of operating in a linear, cause-and-effect way that confines us in spacetime.
– The source of the universe is beyond space and time; therefore it is inconceivable using thought processes and models.
– Being inconceivable, the source of reality makes reality itself inconceivable. All we think we know is part of a feedback loop that begins and ends with the brain.
– Mathematics may seem like a reliable, objective language for explaining Nature, but it too has a mysterious source and is ultimately an experience, like everything else.
– Because it is infinite, with a source beyond spacetime, impenetrable by either reason or the five senses, reality cannot be modeled. It simply is. In other words, existence can only be explained by existence, just as consciousness can only be explained through consciousness.

These conclusions tend to baffle and anger everyday working scientists, understandably, because words like "existence" and "consciousness" smack of metaphysics. Moreover, when you propose that reason has its limits, scientists feel that you are attacking their methods and science itself. But none of these assumptions about attacking science is really valid. Devising a third way to know what's real came about because just as the five senses cannot tell you that the Earth moves around the sun, reason cannot tell you why your inner world gives life its meaning and purpose. To say that a random universe gave rise to purpose and meaning through the accidental bump of particles in the night is just as tortuous as claiming that the same random activity enabled matter to learn to think.

The third way of knowing reality promises to answer the following deep mysteries, among others:
– Where did mind originate, or is it innate in Nature?
– Why is the universe so fine-tuned that the jiggle of a single constant would have made the cosmos as we know it impossible?
– Is the force of evolution mindless or intelligent?
– Is the universe a conscious entity?
– Is creativity innate in Nature?
– Do we ultimately live in a human universe?

Only a third way of examining reality makes these questions answerable, or even make it valid to ask them. From a Western perspective, it's impossible to grade this third way of knowing, because we are so convinced of the superiority of rationality. Judging itself, the wisdom tradition of India, especially Vedanta, gives itself an A for knowing reality, both inner and outer. There is no need to give two grades, because Vedanta views reality as a wholeness, not divided into inner and outer domains as if they are separate kingdoms. I'm not advocating that science turn spiritual. It's unfortunate, but the argument between science and religion has muddied the waters, hiding the fact that the world's wisdom traditions are not primarily about God but about knowing reality. Once you see this, then consciousness – the vehicle for all knowledge – becomes a suitable study for both sides of the debate.

Deepak Chopra, MD is the author of more than 75 books with twenty-two New York Times bestsellers including Super Brain. Join the to eradicate obesity and malnutrition. For more interesting articles visit The Universe Within. Join me at the 5th International Sages and Scientists Symposium.

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  1. heartphone

    You have probably already given all the answers to the above in the new book you have written with Dr. Rudy Tanzi. So why would we even think about this if we can buy the book and have all the answers? I am remembered by a famous quote of Osho: "every question receives an answer that evokes another question and this just goes on and on. Life just goes on and on with everything inherent in it. It seems you have the innate urge to go to the bottom of this but according to your own theories the Universe is bottomless :)

  2. heartphone

    Thank you GypseSpirit for your clear explanation. It is all good as it is. I do not take any side just because of the fact that I myself am beyond that. Deepak however still is not. He teaches us to go that way but he has not yet forgiven Richard Dawkins and is still not able to put himself above this `argument`. And thats what I meant with Dawkins is the product of his education and Deepak is the product of his education which clearly shows the Western influence in his life. If he had remained pure Indian he would have not let himself be involved in paying Dawkins back.........

  3. GypsySpirit

    Consciousness as deepak is putting is beyond science and spirituality. Because both views take reality as given, science as out there and spirituality as in here. Whereas deepak or vedantic tradition is putting reality as intellectually unknowable without any splits.

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