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The most positive action we can take about the past is to change our perception of it.

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Books

Super Brain by Deepak Chopra, MD & Rudy Tanzi, MD (Hardcover)

Super Brain by Deepak Chopra, MD & Rudy Tanzi, MD (Hardcover)
Learn about Deepak Chopra and the Chopra Center's Super Brain dietary supplement - Ayurvedic Brain Support NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER Super Brain by Deepak Chopra, MD & Rudy...

Joyful Wisdom

Joyful Wisdom
ABOUT THEBOOK: Yongey Mingyur is one of the most celebrated among the new generation of Tibetan meditation masters, whose teachings have touched people of all faiths around the world. His first...

Creating Sacred Space with Feng Shui

Creating Sacred Space with Feng Shui
ABOUT THE BOOK: Feng Shui is the ancient oriental art of enhancing and harmonizing the flow of energy in your surroundings.  Over the last twenty years, Karen Kingston has pioneered the study...

GOD: A Story of Revelation (Hardcover)

GOD: A Story of Revelation (Hardcover)
“God is an empty term except through the revelations of all the saints, prophets, and mystics of history. They exist to plant the seeds of spirituality as a direct experience rather than a...

Book Of Secrets

Book Of Secrets
2005 Nautilus Book Award Grand Prize Winner! New York Times Best Seller! Every life is a book of secrets, ready to be opened. The secret of perfect love is found there, along with the secrets...

NEW Spiritual Solutions by Deepak Chopra(Hardcover)

NEW Spiritual Solutions by Deepak Chopra(Hardcover)
Spiritual Solutions: Answers to Life's Greatest Challenges ( AUDIOBOOK Available )  "Great advice directly from the master on virtually any subject, it just doesn't get any better...

Soul of Leadership (Hardcover)

Soul of Leadership (Hardcover)
ABOUT THIS BOOK Leadership is the most crucial choice one can make—it is the decision to step out of darkness into the light.      Bestselling author and spiritual guide Deepak Chopra invites...

Brotherhood - by Deepak & Sanjiv Chopra (Hardcover)

Brotherhood - by Deepak & Sanjiv Chopra (Hardcover)
BROTHERHOOD Dharma, Destiny, and the American Dream DEEPAK & SANJIV CHOPRA   “BROTHERHOOD is an uplifting account of sibling affection and success, and of the promise and infinite...

Ten Poems to Change Your Life

Ten Poems to Change Your Life
ABOUT THE BOOK: This is a dangerous book. Great poetry calls into question not less than everything. It dares us to break free from the safe strategies of the cautious mind. It opens us to pain...

Events

 
 
 
  • April 14 2014

    Five Spiritual Mysteries: #2 Why Does God Let Bad Things Happen? (Part 2)

    Category:  SF Gate

    By Deepak Chopra, MD

    Read Part1 of Why Does God Let Bad Things Happen?

    One of the biggest stumbling blocks for people who want to believe in God is the existence of bad things in our lives. The evening news carries enough stories about war, crime, famine, oppression, and much else that a loving God wouldn't permit. But as we saw in the first post, such a God is formed in our own image. He, or she, is envisioned as a human being on a supernatural scale. This is just one of the assumptions that needed to be cleared away before seriously asking the question of why God permits bad things to happen.

    Once you accept God as formless and not a copy of human qualities, his relationship to events on earth changes radically (the most immediate change being that God no longer has a gender). The alternative to a deity created in our image is a deity who is still a creator but not a judge. God can be envisioned as pure consciousness, the source of the creativity, intelligence, love, truth, and every other possibility that becomes embodied in the universe - and in ourselves.

    Such a deity would solve many mysteries while also holding many. The chief mystery is that God-as-consciousness is inconceivable. Being the source of the universe, this God is beyond space and time. Our minds work in space and time, so linear thinking is limited. But the world's wisdom traditions have all held that there is a transcendent domain that the human mind can access. We experience it as silent mind, the background of experience, or awareness itself. When a person shifts his attention away from mental activity and focuses on the silent background, it turns out that this apparent "nothing," is the womb of creation.

    The second mystery about God is that pure consciousness reconciles opposites. The system of dualities that structure our lives - life and death, light and dark, positive and negative - merge into a single unified system that organizes itself, not by juggling these opposites but by transcending them. Once again, if a person pays focused attention to silent awareness, the reality of such a unified consciousness becomes evident.

    This synopsis has been too truncated to explain the convincing nature of God as pure consciousness, a concept with thousands of years of actual experience behind it, both East and West. But let's jump ahead. Good and evil are among the most important dualities we all struggle with. One reason for our confusion is that we look at only the manifest side of God/consciousness/creation. With one-eyed sight, there is no end to evil, no rationale to justify it, and no escape from it.

    Which is why the great spiritual teachers, including Buddha and Jesus, pointed to the other side of consciousness, which transcends duality. At this second level, good and evil are part of the setup, the karmic drama that we each inherited at birth. Like every duality, this one follows an internal logic we can't fathom, but we don't need to. The solution is to go beyond duality, at which point we have walked away from the drama. When this happens, we become detached, in two senses. We are no longer engaged in the play of karma, and it cannot reach out to grab us back.

    God, then, is present in both states, the manifest and unmanifest. In the created world the deity is the basis for morality and its promise that being good leads to good results. For millions of people, this side of consciousness suffices. They may suffer when bad things happen, but they remain convinced that God is good and just. Another large swath of people jettison religion and accept a secular morality based on manmade rules and laws. How many people accept the way of transcendence?

    There’s no answer to this question, since someone can be deeply involved in such a path with no outward sign. Yet two thoughts seem irrefutable. The problem of a God who permits evil in the world has never been solved through reason or religion, while on the other hand, a transcendent God has been open to personal experience since the dawn of spirituality. The way of transcendence alone can bring a person beyond duality - in fact, that has been its chief attraction in every age, including ours.



    Deepak Chopra, MD is the author of more than 75 books with twenty-two New York Times bestsellers including Super Brain. Join the weightlessproject.org 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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  • April 07 2014

    Five Spiritual Mysteries: #2 Why Does God Let Bad Things Happen?

    Category:  SF Gate

    By Deepak Chopra, MD


    In every spiritual tradition, different as they are, God is taken to be the moral compass for human beings. He may or may not be a punisher. He may or may not sit in judgment, watching and weighing our every move. He may or may not be a He, since the God of Judaism, for example, is without form. But in some way the notion of good and evil, right and wrong, the light versus the dark, goes back to a divine source.

    In secular society this link isn't as strong, and for someone with no religious beliefs, morality has no connection to God. Yet the connection has been crucial for at least two thousand years in the Judeo-Christian world. In the Indian spiritual tradition, particularly Vedanta, God is not personified. The deity is conceived as cosmic consciousness. One of the strongest arguments offered by atheists is that a just and loving God doesn't exist. If God did exist, why do bad things happen to good people? If there is divine love, how can the Holocaust even be conceivable? For opponents or religion as well as mild, everyday doubters, a God who sits back and permits wholesale suffering is on shaky ground.

    Is there a deeper mystery here, or have we been duped into accepting a myth, as militant atheists insist?

    We must approach the question without assumptions, and as it happens, both sides of the debate stubbornly cling to a large number of assumptions. Sometimes these preconceived notions overlap, which further muddies the waters. Here are some preconceived ideas that you may well believe:

    1. God is human and has human traits.
    2. God shares our human sense of time and is watching us minute by minute.
    3. God's reasons cannot be understood by human beings.
    4. The divine notion of right and wrong is the same as what we call morality.
    5. There is an eternal cosmic war between God and Satan.
    6. God and Satan represent absolute good and absolute evil.
    7. God doesn't need to justify his judgments to us here down below.

    I think most people have been exposed to these seven assumptions one way or another. Each one is a double-edged sword, offering proof of God to believers and a source of ridicule for militant atheists. Yet none of these assumptions stands up to the demand for proof that we've become used to in the age of science. They are articles of faith; in some cases they are the inheritance of archaic ages. Insofar as militant atheists accuse religions of fostering cultural mythology, their case is pretty credible. What is Satan, for example, but an inherited myth?

    If you think that God is like a loving Father sitting above the clouds, or a punishing patriarch quick to anger, either conception is a projection. The infinite has been reduced to the finite; a mystery has been unraveled by turning it into a human predicament. To feel that you are a good person who is suffering unjustly is a very human predicament, and it's just as human to cry, "Why is God doing this to me?" But there can be no credible answer if we stay within the limits of everyday morality. A loving father who arbitrarily punishes his child would be guilty of abuse - he would be a very bad human father, in fact.

    So the question of why God allows bad things to happen isn't a simple human question, even though the answer makes a tremendous difference to how humans live their lives. It's a spiritual question, a mystery that requires deeper thought. In the world's wisdom traditions, the following possibilities exist.

    - God knows the true nature of our souls and treats us accordingly.
    - God set the universe in motion and then walked away from his creation.
    - God has a larger view of good and evil than we can comprehend.
    - God is transcendent and can only be understood in a state of higher consciousness.

    Depending on which of these views you accept, God's relation to bad things changes radically. A God who knows your soul and is treating you accordingly is a God who puts the whole burden on the believer. The believer must figure out how to avoid sin and live virtuously, while God peers through an X-ray machine into every crevice of the believer's life, exposing secret darkness and hypocrisy. At the other extreme, a God who created the universe and walked away delivers no judgments of any good, neither punishing sin nor rewarding virtue. The cosmos operates mechanically, and we are caught in the machinery, subject to accidents and the grinding of it gears.

    Yet all four conceptions have the advantage, if we are intellectually honest, of doing away with a God who is simply a human being in disguise, a projection of human traits write large. In the next post we'll see which line of reasoning leads to the best answer of how God relates - if at all - to the bad things that happen to us.

    (To be cont.)

    Deepak Chopra, MD is the author of more than 75 books with twenty-two New York Times bestsellers including Super Brain. Join the weightlessproject.org to eradicate obesity and malnutrition. For more interesting articles visit The Universe Within.



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  • March 31 2014

    Five Spiritual Mysteries: #1 Is Karma Fair? (Part 2)

    Category:  SF Gate

    By Deepak Chopra, MD

    Even at a time when religion is declining in the West, most people remember the Biblical saying "As you sow, so shall you reap." they cling to a belief taught in childhood, that good is rewarded and evil punished. In the first post we started to look at the possibility that what was learned in childhood is correct. The universe balances right and wrong, good and evil. In the Indian spiritual tradition this simple notion was developed into the Law of Karma. But common experience offers endless examples of good that isn't rewarded and evil that is never punished. So is karma really fair or not?

    Read Part1 of this article here https://www.deepakchopra.com/blog


    In his famous encounter with Albert Einstein in 1930, the great Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore argued against the random universe of quantum physics in favor of a "human universe" where harmony prevailed despite the evidence of unruly passions and bad deeds. Tagore meant this quite literally, not metaphorically. The universe was an expression of divine consciousness, and human beings, who express the same cosmic consciousness, belong within the grand scheme. In fact, the universe mirrors human destiny and vice versa.

    This is the classic view of the world's wisdom traditions (with some exceptions - certain strains of Buddhism come to mind, which do not accept a divine essence or creative agency in the cosmos). They describe a worldview that looks inward for justification, not outward at events in the physical world. A consciousness-based view of karma can take two forms (briefly touched upon in the first post).

    * Evidence of the balance of good and evil can be found through insight and intuition.
    * The doctrine of the afterlife, with or without reincarnation, can be accepted and justified.


    I think both approaches have merit, but the second one depends on viewing life before birth and after death. That's not tenable until you establish a theory of cosmic consciousness. In any event, it doesn't benefit someone here and now who has suffered innocently; it brings no justice today, only tomorrow. So we're left with the other alternative, looking inward for such things as divine mercy, compassion, forgiveness, salvation, and grace. To discover whether life is fair or not requires this inner journey. Needless to say, skeptics who scoff at such a journey will continue to declare that existence is essentially determined by random events and mechanical processes.

    What makes the inner journey viable? It's not viable simply as an escape, turning to some unconscious state in order to stop seeing how bad the world really is. It's also not viable as a kind of Pollyanna attitude: Everything is beautiful if only we see it that way. The inner journey is only viable as a means to connect with reality. In other words, we are pointed - by Jesus, Buddha, the Vedic rishis, and many others - to transcend ordinary reality, the world of appearances to pure existence. In a state of higher awareness, the bonds of suffering are released, and one realizes that the true self, which is at the core of every person, has no dealings with good versus evil, right versus wrong, because those are products of duality.

    To summarize what transcendence actually does:

    1. It removes a person's deep attachment of pain and pleasure. There is an eternal cycle between pain and pleasure, but it pertains to individuals who see themselves as separate. The true self is open, free, self-aware, and a participant in the world of duality as a witness only.
    2. When someone is established in the true self, there is no fear. This subdues the grip of physical suffering and death.
    3. Consciousness flows without boundaries, so that "I" is no longer the insecure ego.
    4. Once unbounded or unity consciousness is achieved - in the state generally called enlightenment - a person is in the best position possible to help others out of the bondage of their suffering.
    5. From the vantage point of the true self, the play of good and evil, darkness and light, is seen as perfectly balanced. The Law of Karma is justified.

    It's important to state that none of these things are intellectual conclusions. You can't mentally jump to #5 and decide that the universe is perfectly balanced. As the Vedas constantly repeat, this is knowledge that you become, not knowledge you learn. That human beings are capable of such profound transformation is the message of the world's wisdom traditions. In that light, the greatest gift of grace is that having created our own tragic circumstances, we are simultaneously capable of liberating ourselves. This, in essence, is the whole reason for the Law of Karma to exist - as a means of insuring that there is enough equipoise between light and darkness that no one is every truly lost, damned, or devoid of a path to enlightenment. Tagore's argument for "the human universe" expresses how profoundly he understood the transcendent possibilities in human life.


    Deepak Chopra, MD is the author of more than 75 books with twenty-two New York Times bestsellers including Super Brain. Join the weightlessproject.org to eradicate obesity and malnutrition. For more interesting articles visit The Universe Within.

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  • March 24 2014

    Five Spiritual Mysteries: #1 Is Karma Fair?

    Category:  SF Gate

    By Deepak Chopra, MD

    #1 Is Karma Fair?

    We live in an especially dispirited time when people say, totally without irony, "Life is unfair" and "No good deed goes unpunished." Is there proof that life is, in fact, fair or unfair? The question doesn't even make sense if you believe that the universe is cold, random and devoid of meaning. That's the usual rationale for saying that life is essentially meaningless, sometimes posed as a scientific view. But no one experiences their own life as being without purpose and meaning, so this rationale begs the question.

    The Indian spiritual tradition argues that life is completely fair, down to the fall of a leaf, because the universe is morally balanced by the Law of Karma. The Vedic scriptures go into extensive detail about the operation of karma - in Sanskrit the word simply means "action" - but the gist of a moral universe is simple, as stated by Saint Paul in the New Testament: "Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows." (Galatians 6:7)

    In this advice there is an implicit warning about not trying to fool God, who sees every good and bad act. Jesus makes the same point without the warning: "Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” (Luke 6:38) The idea of God balancing good and evil goes back to the Hebrew Bible, as for instance in this verse from the Book of Job: "As I have seen, those who plow iniquity and sow trouble reap the same." (Job 4:8)

    But as soon as you mention Job, you're reminded that he was a totally righteous man who suffered horrific afflictions essentially because of a wager between God and Satan. Job doesn't know that God is testing him, only that the only way he can endure his predicament is to have faith and not renounce the Lord. And the fact that Jesus, the very emblem of holiness, died on the Cross would seem, on the face of it, to defy and mock the notion that God, the universe, and life are fair. The game seems rigged to the benefit of evil, which can have its way without divine interference, and if you decide that there is no force of cosmic evil, then the alternative is a blind fate, striking down the innocent and the guilty alike.

    Yet somehow none of this has eradicated the widespread belief that goodness is rewarded and evil punished. Delaying the reward and punishment until the afterlife or Judgment Day is one way to patch up the holes in the law of Karma. A similar way is to postpone them until a person's next incarnation (this escape route is quite common in India, where ill fortune is often passed off, usually with a shrug, as the result of bad acts in a former lifetime).

    If you want to save the Law of Karma in a serious way, one that makes a difference to how people live their lives, there are a few genuine alternatives that should be considered:

    1. The balance of good and evil can be taken as basic morality, leading one to live a virtuous life.
    2. Evidence of the balance of good and evil can be sought within, through insight and intuition.
    3. The doctrine of the afterlife, with or without reincarnation, can be accepted and justified.

    The first option is simple and practical. It says, in essence, that the balance of good and evil belongs in the human world. It is we who do good and bad things, so it's our responsibility to be moral. That's why a stable, workable society values justice, sets up laws and a court system, adopts a constitution, etc. Human nature may contain much badness, but our better angels - and centuries of experience - have guided us to choose morality over immorality (with a lot of secret slippage). Even gross evils like war can successfully fit into a model of justice, hence, the "good war."

    The problem with this version of karma, making it a human responsibility, is that we are left with a potentially cruel, indifferent, or absent God. We are also stuck with a dead-end universe that offers nothing but random events at its foundation. Beneath the surface of a civilized society lurks monstrous things - crime, famine, cruelty, repression, despair, famine, poverty - that call humanity itself into question. Indeed, the weight of inhumanity and suffering in the world has been a major motivation for religions, which promise a better life, higher, consciousness, and a transformed world.

    Which bring us to the second and third versions of karma. They argue that life isn't meaningless, that religions aren't indulging in fairy tales to distract people from total misery, and that a moral creation is, in fact, the one we live in. these points seem ridiculous to many doubters and outright evil to militant atheists, who argue that surviving in the reality of a cold, meaningless universe requires true courage - accepting the nonsense of religion is pure myth and fantasy papering over the countless wrongs committed in the name of God.

    To counter this rational, secular position requires a deeper look into the Law of Karma and why there are viable alternatives than either blind faith or blind skepticism.
    (To be cont.)


    Deepak Chopra, MD is the author of more than 75 books with twenty-two New York Times bestsellers including Super Brain. Join the weightlessproject.org to eradicate obesity and malnutrition. For more interesting articles visit The Universe Within.
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  • March 17 2014

    Hidden Truths: Going Beyond Common-Sense Reality (Part 3)

    Category:  SF Gate

    By Deepak Chopra, MD, Menas C. Kafatos, Ph.D., and Subhash Kak, Ph.D.

    We all live in the common-sense world, trusting in our five senses as if they transmit all reality to us. Yet the quantum revolution, as we've detailed in our first and second posts, long ago undermined such a world view. We've argued that "real" reality consists of a conscious universe. This is the reality we are all participating in, even though science has only recently begun to take consciousness seriously as a legitimate field of inquiry. The changes precipitated by the emerging science of consciousness have just begun to be seriously contemplated.

    Our last task is to build a bridge from the conscious universe to everyday life, because if we don't, people will continue to live as if common-sense reality was still reliable and correct and complete. It would be an enormous help if such a bridge already exists, and we believe it does. The only difficulty is that it's invisible.

    This can be shown through simple observation: The five senses cannot perceive the quantum world, and yet perception depends upon quantum activity in the brain; there is no other domain where matter and mind credibly meet. The quantum world is hidden from us the way the operation of the brain is hidden. If you think the word "elephant" and see an image of the animal in your mind's eye, you aren't aware of the millions of neurons firing in your brain in order to produce them. Yet those firings -- not to mention the invisible cellular operations that keep every part of your body alive -- are the foundation of the brain's abilities.

    Just as the image of an elephant is the visible end point of veiled processes, the material world is founded on a veiled reality. Moreover, to produce a single mental image, the whole brain must participate. Specific areas, mainly the visual cortex, produce mental pictures, but they are coordinated with everything else the brain does, such as sustaining the cerebral cortex, which recognizes what an image is, and maintaining a healthy body. This points to a profound link between the brain and the cosmos, at both the smallest and the largest scales- veiled non-locality and cosmic censorship.

    The work of the late Polish-American mathematician Alfred Korzybski (1879-1950) is relevant here, because Korzybski worked out the layered processing that goes into the everyday processing of reality. Billions of bits of data bombard our sense organs, of which only a fraction enter the nervous system. Of that fraction, more is filtered out by the brain, which uses built-in models of reality to filter out what doesn't fit. When people say, "You're not hearing me" or, "You only see what you want to see," they are expressing a truth that Korzybski tried to quantify mathematically.

    Sometimes the things a person sees are simply outside the range of human experience, like our inability to see ultraviolet light. But a great deal more depends on expectations, memories, biases, fears, and simple close-mindedness. If you go to a party, and someone tells you that you are about to meet a Nobel Prize winner, you will see a different person than if you had been told he is a reformed Mafia hit man. When all the filtering and processing is complete, there is no doubt that the brain doesn't actually experience reality but only a confirmation of its model of reality.

    Two interesting points follow:

    1. All models are equal as viewed from the level of the brain.
    2. Reality transcends any model we can possibly make of it.

    The first point undermines the notion that science is superior to other models of reality because it gathers facts, while idealism, religion, and spirituality deal in beliefs. In practice, science filters out and discards a huge portion of human experience -- almost everything one would classify as subjective. Its model of external reality, the cornerstone of Newtonian physics, is as selective, as the model which shapes a religious or metaphysical reality. As far as the brain is concerned, neural filtering is taking place in all models, whether they are scientific, spiritual, artistic, or psychotic. The brain is a processor of inputs, not a mirror to reality. This is what quantum theory as advanced by John von Neumann holds. Classical science does of course offer huge successes in our interactions with the objects around us and is built on methods that are repeatable. But still, these methods do not give us the full reality, only filtered representations of reality.
    As such, the second point is even more telling. If our brains are constantly filtering every experience, there is no way anyone can claim to know what is "really" real. You can't step outside your brain to fathom what lies beyond it. Just as there is a horizon for the farthest objects that emit light in the cosmos, and a farthest horizon for how far back in time astronomy can probe, there is a farthest horizon for thinking. The brain operates in time and space, having linear thoughts that are the endpoint of a selective filtering process. So whatever is outside time and space is inconceivable - unfiltered reality would probably blow the brain's circuits, or simply be blanked out.

    Korzybski held that even mathematics was a model, subject to the limitations of all models that the brain constructs. Not everyone would agree -- holding on to mathematics as a universal truth gives advanced physics its toehold on the quantum world. But we are not using these ideas as bludgeons to bash science with. Korzybski simply pointed out, using the language of mathematics, that whatever reality is, it transcends the brain.
    In that single word -- transcendence -- there's a level playing field between materialism and idealism. Reality transcends, or goes beyond, what the brain discerns. When all is said and done, we are caught in the paradoxical trap of believing what we see (as ordinary people) and not believing it (as theoreticians) at the same time. It was this paradox that gave rise to two competing monisms in the first place.

    Maya and the “Why” of Creation

    In our view, a consciousness-based universe doesn’t represent the victory of idealism over materialism. On the face of it, no previous version of idealism, whether from Plato, the Christian Neo-Platonists, or Spinoza, can survive the challenge of science and its genius at delving into “reality as given.” That idealism subsumed “reality as given” to a higher principle proved fatal in the modern world, where the advantages of science and technology are unarguable. But materialism isn’t salvaged by idealism’s failures.

    Deposing physical objects from their privileged position could have been accomplished before World War I if the implications of quantum theory had been followed up. It has taken more than a century, in tribute to the privileged position that common-sense reality, based on the five senses, still occupies.

    We propose that consciousness-based reality overcomes the flaws of both traditional monisms. The key question comes down to meaning. The quantum and classical worlds aren’t separated merely by a physical gap. On one side the behavior of the quantum is meaningless, random, and unpredictable. A subatomic particle has no purpose or goal. On the other side, in the classical world, it goes without saying that each of us lives our life with purpose and meaning in mind, in what appears to be a linear time. To accept this as self-evident is crucial to getting out of bed every morning. Can randomness produce meaning, and if so, how?

    To lead a meaningless existence is intolerable, so it’s ironic that quantum physics bases the cosmos on meaningless operations, and doubly ironic when you consider that physics itself is a meaningful activity. The resolution of this impasse was again suggested by John Archibald Wheeler, who coined the phrase “participatory universe.” He held that physicists were mistaken to see themselves as separate from the phenomena they observed, like children with their noses pressed against a bakery shop window. The observer mingles with what he observes, and the process of observation is always altering the observed object.

    By definition reality is complete; therefore, whatever purpose and meaning we find in it using our limited human capacities must be a fragment of a pre-existing state, which we term the state of infinite possibilities. This state is hidden from us, just as the existence of every possible subatomic particle is hidden. The concept of a field as used in quantum physics contains this veiled relationship between the whole and its parts. There is no reason to exclude the field of consciousness from exhibiting the same relationship to its parts (hence Schrödinger’s insight that there can be only one consciousness, not many).
    Cosmic censorship applies in like manner. We search for meaning because the object of our search, even though pre-existent, cannot be perceived directly. The search for meaning is at once a necessary human endeavor and a chimera. Here the ancient Indian principle of Maya proves critical. Although usually translated as “illusion,” the Sanskrit word maya, which is also the name of a goddess, is better understood as "appearance" or "distraction." The world "out there" appears to be self-sustained, but in fact we are being distracted from the truth. The activity of the world “out there” is no more self-sustained than iron filings dancing on a piece of paper, made to move by an invisible force, a magnet hidden under the paper. In the case of Maya, the concealed mover is consciousness. Without consciousness, nothing is experienced, either "in here" or "out there."

    Maya distracts us by enticing our perceptions outward, to play in the infinite variety of Nature. We forget the hidden mover – consciousness – seduced by the five senses and “reality as given.” Maya is eternal, but accepting it as the ultimate reality depends on a kind of self-forgetting. Once we ask, “Who am I?” it becomes evident that “reality as given” doesn’t suffice. Maya cannot explain itself, while consciousness can, through self-awareness; the experience of the self by itself. The prejudice that science holds against all subjectivity is the result of Maya-based thinking. Having placed its trust in “reality as given,” science overlooks the self-evident fact that nothing can be experienced without consciousness. It is a more viable candidate for “prime mover” than the physical universe.

    If enlightenment consists of seeing beyond Maya, it too isn’t mysticism but a recognition that self-awareness can know itself. The mind isn’t only the thoughts and sensations constantly streaming through it. There is a silent, invisible foundation to thought and sensations. Until that background is accounted for, individual consciousness mistakes itself, and in so doing it cannot help but mistake what it observes. This is expressed in a Vedic metaphor about the wave and the ocean: A wave looks like an individual as it rises from the sea, but once it sinks back down, it knows that it is ocean and nothing but ocean. The point for everyday life is this: You are an expression of wholeness, of consciousness itself, fulfilling the Vedic teaching, Aham Brahmasmi, "I am the universe."

    Cosmic consciousness, then, isn't just real -- it's totally necessary. It rescues physics (and science in general) from a dead end -- the total inability to create mind out of matter -- and gives it a fresh avenue of investigation. The Higgs boson has gotten physics a bit closer to a unified field theory -- only a bit -- but we are still far away from a full theory of quantum gravity. In some versions of superstring theory, the so-called M-theories, it is deduced that a vast number of parallel universes exist, all forming what is called the multiverse.

    But the multiverse cannot be an explanation of why this particular universe of ours is what it is. Having a vast number of universes emerging from empty space still does not explain where meaning comes from or why we exist. It doesn’t even account for the rise and evolution of life in this corner of our universe that we call our home planet. We exist as creatures with a foot in two worlds that are actually one, divided by appearances. Maya gives us the joy of existence “out there” while self-awareness gives us the freedom to transcend time and space.

    In conclusion, quantum theory has reached the point where the source of all matter and energy is a vacuum, a nothingness that contains all the possibilities of everything that has ever existed or could exist. The quantum vacuum is not empty, it is as full as it can be. These possibilities then emerge as probabilities before "collapsing" into localized quanta, manifesting as the particles in our four dimensional space and time reality, that are the building blocks of atoms and molecules.

    Where do they exist? Where is the exquisite mathematics that we have at our disposal to be found, in some sort of "real space"? That makes no sense. Every model ends where it began, in purely mental space. The probability of an event, whether a quantum event or the event of winning the Powerball lottery, only exists if there is a mind to investigate the problem. Countless acts of observation give substance and reality to what would otherwise be ghosts of existence. Did the Big Bang happen if there was no one there to witness it? No. But the witness must be conceived of as consciousness itself.

    Such a conception is made less bizarre once you realize that consciousness operates the same way in us as it did at the birth of the cosmos. Babies are born with the potential to walk, speak, read, and do mathematics. It's possible to locate which areas of the brain will eventually produce these abilities, but until then, they exist as pure potentials. If you are wedded to materialism, there must be a molecule (DNA) that functions as the source of speaking, walking, reading, and doing mathematics. But such an assumption falls apart very quickly, since: 1) It's impossible to credit that DNA knows math, which would in essence give it a brain, and 2) Can we really believe that Shakespeare, and all other producers of words, got his inspiration from a collocation of amino acids, enzymes, and proteins?

    It is more elegant and far easier to accept as a working hypothesis that sentience exists as a potential at the source of creation, and the strongest evidence has already been put on the table: Everything to be observed in the universe implies consciousness. Some theorists try to rescue materialism by saying that information is encoded into all matter, but "information" is a mental concept, and without the concept, there's no information in anything, since information by definition must ultimately contain meaning (even if it is a sequence of 0s and 1s as in computer language), and only minds grasp meaning. Does a tree falling in the forest make no sound if no one is around to hear it? Obviously not. The crash vibrates air molecules, but sound needs hearing in order for these vibrations to be transformed into perception.

    We've proposed that consciousness creates reality and makes it knowable -- if there's another viable candidate, it must pass the acid test: Transform itself into thoughts, feelings, images, and sensations. Science isn't remotely close to turning the sugar in a sugar bowl into a Mozart concerto or Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Your brain converts blood sugar into words and music, not by some trick of the molecules in the brain, since they are in no way special or privileged. Rather, your consciousness is using the brain as a processing device, moving the molecules where they are needed in order to create the sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell of the world.

    In everyday life, we get to experience the miracle of transformation that causes a three-dimensional world, completed by the fourth dimension of time, to manifest before our eyes. The great advantage of experience is that it isn't theoretical. Reality is never wrong, and all of us are embedded in reality, no matter what model we apply to explain it. Reality is waiting for us to creep closer to understanding its mysteries. In the meantime, it won't falter or come to an end. Reality will remain our home, our source, and the ground state of our being far beyond the lifetime of the foreseeable universe.

    Deepak Chopra, MD is the author of more than 75 books with twenty-two New York Times bestsellers including Super Brain. Join the weightlessproject.org to eradicate obesity and malnutrition. For more interesting articles visit The Universe Within.

    Menas C. Kafatos is the Fletcher Jones Endowed Professor of Computational Physics at Chapman University. He is a quantum physicist, cosmologist, climate change researcher and works extensively on consciousness and the above fields. His doctoral thesis advisor was noted M.I.T. professor Philip Morrison who studied under J. Robert Oppenheimer. Kafatos' studies involved quantum physicists Hans Bethe, Victor Weisskopf and cosmologist Thomas Gold. He is co-author with Deepak Chopra of the forthcoming book, Who Made God and Other Cosmic Riddles. (Harmony)

    Subhash Kak, Ph.D., Regents Professor of Computer Science, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater.



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