Sometimes in studying a particular subject it helps to step back and take a look at the big picture. When we talk about the human legacy we go back to 7.2 million years ago to the split between the hominin line and the pan or chimpanzee line. However, when studying the mind, we have to talk about consciousness and to get the beginning of that we have to step way back.
The quantum field theory. Simply put the fundamental substance of the universe is consciousness. This has been proven in scientific experiments using the scientific method which means the experiments can be repeated and will give the same results over and over.
Let me just say that quantum mechanics is a lot to shallow. Most of it seems counterintuitive. The basic understanding of the physical world we all grew up with is that atoms are composed of a nucleus with electrons spinning around them and even though they are 99% empty space the atoms form molecules and the chair you are sitting in is solid. Something like that. If you had a really powerful microscope and looked at an atom you would see nothing. The atom actually has no physical structure at all. Atoms are made from invisible energy and not matter that is tangible. But what is this invisible energy?
Here is the deal with the quantum field, it is consciousness itself.
All of manifestation is consciousness or mind. I am going to give you the overview but I have to tell you that this understanding that the underlying glue of all the universe is mind or consciousness is accepted fact by theoretical physicists everywhere including many Nobel Prize winners. Quantum theory has been studied and experimented with for decades and increasingly the consensus of opinion (still a minority however) from the scientific community is in agreement with what Max Plank, the originator of quantum theory said.
Don’t jump to a lot of conclusions right how if you haven’t been up on all this. I am not saying the world is an imagination or hallucination or anything like that. According to quantum theory, the universal consciousness is a transpersonal mind that adheres to natural laws. It is comprised of individual minds but far transcends them.
It’s not some big sloppy soup where we are all seeing something different and everybody has their own reality and there are parallel universes and a bunch of other stuff. It’s weird enough as it is without all that.
This does not mean we all don’t share a common reality either. What I mean by that is when your neighbor buys a new red sedan and brings it home and parks it in the driveway you will not look at it and say nice blue truck and another neighbor might look at it and say nice green van. No, you will all look at it and say nice new red sedan you got there Harry.
But what is the new car made of? Nothing really, the car, your body and for that matter every particle in the universe are what is called ‘excitations’ of the quantum field. Matter is a manifestation of the workings of quantum mechanics.
So how can a car be made of invisible stuff. Well first off there is no stuff to begin with, it’s a field of energy. Admittedly the visible universe being actually made up of invisible ‘stuff’ is a hard one. Here’s another hard one as long as we are on it. The visible universe, the stuff we are and the stuff we see including the stars and all ‘normal’ matter comprise less than 5% of the universe. The rest is ‘Dark Matter and Dark Energy’. Dark energy comprises 68% of the universe and dark matter 27%. Nobody knows what dark matter and dark energy is but scientists can say it exists. It’s like black holes. You can’t really see them but you can tell they are there from measurements.
The Hard Problem of Consciousness
Individual consciousness refers to the fact that we are aware of ourselves, our feelings, our emotions, our thoughts, etc. But the exact meaning of consciousness is debated and even questioned by scientists. It has been dubbed ‘The hard problem of consciousness’ for the reason that no one can explain it. It just exists.
Is our consciousness a product of the brain or is the brain the physical focal point of consciousness? I really like the TV analogy. Consciousness is like the TV signal and the brain is the TV set. The TV signal is being transmitted to the TV set and watched there. If and when the TV set is destroyed or dead the signal is still transmitting.
Some would say that if you damage certain areas of the brain then consciousness is damaged too so consciousness must be a product of the brain. If the video card goes out on the TV the signal is still the same but you can’t see the picture. There are any number of things that can go wrong with the TV but it doesn’t mean anything is wrong with the signal.
There is nothing in science or medicine that rules the possibility of non-local consciousness out.
On the surface of it, it does seem like the brain produces consciousness. It does not mean that it is true though. There have been a ton of things in the history of human knowledge that seemed obvious at the time but were later proved wrong. How about that flat earth thing? How about the sun revolves around the earth? How did that work out? You could probably think of a dozen more examples off the top of your head right now. Leeches anyone?
The Irony of Consciousness
As the progression of human knowledge advances towards a better understanding of not only ourselves but the fundamental workings of the universe we see how science has turned concepts about nature upside down, like the eath being flat and the sun revolving around the earth, truths once held as beyond doubt. Those and many other unquestionable truths have fallen by the wayside.
Throughout all of human history mankind has held the belief of a higher and universal consciousness.
There has never been a culture and there has never been a time when the belief of a universal consciousness did not exist. This of course takes different names, God being the main one, but other names like infinite living mind, or the various names for different Gods but always with the concept of a higher consciousness in play. In Anthropology, one the major fields of study for any culture is the study of religious beliefs.
It wasn’t until modern science became the formidable force that is has become today that great numbers of individuals began to question the concept of God or Gods or anything beyond the immediate life we are experiencing and atheism began to grow. It didn’t take that long either, less than a hundred years of experimental science or modern science is all it took. On Good Friday in April 1966 the U.S. news magazine, Time, published its front cover with the question, “Is God Dead?” Heresy!
There was a time period in Western Culture that lasted hundreds of years where you would get burned at the stake for uttering heresies and denying the existence of God. It is now perfectly acceptable to think and say that life in the universe is a random occurrence and when you die that’s it, done deal.
The belief of the existence of God or higher universal consciousness was chipped away at by one astounding revelation after another from modern science explaining the nature of how the universe is put together in scientific, measurable means. Hundreds of millions now accept what they believe is the truth of existence and that is that it is a random chance occurrence. And why not? Science that has given us the modern world has never been able to prove any connection to a God or any indication that life is indeed anything but a random, chance occurrence.
The great irony here is that science has now confirmed the existence of a ‘higher’ consciousness. What primitive peoples believed in, even perhaps Neanderthals understood, is now accepted by science as a truth. That the underlying substance of all reality is consciousness. That all of manifestation emanates from this universal consciousness.
I hesitate to call the universal consciousness or quantum field God. The reason is as soon as you invoke the word ‘God’ everyone has their own religion with their own dogma of what they believe God is. Currently 7.6 billion people populate the earth. A rough estimate is given that 7% or about 500 million do not believe in a God. The rest of humanity has a belief in God and the majority align with one religion or another.
Nearly 75 percent of the world's population practices one of the five most influential religions of the world: Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism. Here is a breakdown of the largest religions in the world.
If we say science has proven the existence of God there are quite a few interpretations of what that could mean. Something tells me there would not be universal agreement on which God science has proven to exist. For me, I think I will stick with the term ‘universal consciousness’ and hold to a vision that all of manifestation, all particles of matter, all existence floats on the surface of this eternal field of consciousness and there is no thing outside of it or beneath it, it is All.
In all cultures big changes in concepts of fundamental truths take time to propagate and sink in.
It took generations for the concept that the Earth revolves around the Sun to finally take hold and be universally accepted. The same thing applies to the scientific community. It takes a few generations sometimes to embrace a change in thinking and accept findings that go against established dogma. Max Plank himself said it best.
The fundamental truth of consciousness for the modern scientific world may well be a case of ‘what goes around comes around’. An ancient Egyptian high priest, Hermes Trismegistus, could not have given a better sound bite for the quantum theory.
Being a glass half full guy, I am of the opinion that advances in scientific knowledge make the world a better place. The contemplation of the quantum field theory and a universal consciousness will inevitably lead one to the consideration of spirituality regardless of what religion you align with.