In my previous post I argued that incompatible worldviews such as materialism, non-duality and religious models are due to the way that we seek the source of our experience through our senses. Some project outward and find a quantum fluctuation and others project inwards towards a universal consciousness or one or more gods.
I think that I have found a way to make these projections compatible. It all starts with the mathematics of transformation. Mathematics a transformation is a process Where You start with some data that represents something and it gets transformed to different data that gives a different viewpoint of the same data you started with. Picking up an dice and turning in your hands is an example such a transformation; as you turn the dice, you see it from different angles but it is still the same dice.
So could reality be like dice with different faces that we can see simply by transforming our viewpoint? Yes, I think is, and that is the heart of the mystery that has occupied humans ever since they developed a conscious brain.
For the purpose of this argument, I will use a scientific and materialist language to describe what happens. But I could tell exactly the same story using a non-dual language.
How do we experience the world? When we see a tree, white light from the sun reflects on the tree and some light of different colors will reflect off the tree and hit our eyes and through the lenses reach our retina. There it gets transformed into electric impulses that will travel via the optic nerve to be processed by the visual cortex at the back of our heads. A lot of things happen next. Different areas in the cortex will process the primary visual information. Since this is a tree, the shape will be analyzed and specific neurons that represent a tree or leaves or a trunk will fire. Others that represent green will fire. Since the tree is a 3 dimensional shape, it’s depth and height and size will all be processed into some geometric qualities. In the end, our experienced is summarized by the “fingerprint” of the tree which for an ordinary person might be “tree” and for a arborologist it might be “dying oak with significant foliage loss”.
The tree that we see is not the tree that we are looking at: it is an image of that tree in our mind.
Let’s rephrase all this. The electromagnetic energy waves that originate from some location in space (where the tree is) are transformed into neural activity in our brain which is transformed into an image in our mind and a conscious experience of “that looks like a tree”.
There are 3 important transformations here that point to at least 3 realities:
- energy and waves in space,
- neural activity our brain and
- our conscious experience
The important point is that just like the dice you held and turned in your hand, these 3 realities are exactly the same thing. Energy and waves in space are no more or less real than the neural activity or our conscious experience. These are all different view of the same reality.
Scientists and materialists can only work with the first two angles of reality, i.e. energy and waves in space as well as the neural activity in our brains because they can use instruments to perform measurements and extend their senses which allows them to repeat measurements and get the same results. Because of this restriction, they define their reality as that which is measurable and therefore the angle of the conscious experience of reality is not of primary importance but only a consequence of the measurable reality.
Non-dualists and religious scholars can only work from he conscious experience angle because they define their universe to be consciousness only. For them, the other angles of realities are derived from consciousness and therefore not of primary importance. They will therefore state that consciousness or god gives rise to – or creates – the material world.
Since materialists are naturally drawn towards the measurable viewpoint of reality, they will not explore their conscious reality to a sufficient degree to create an intricate model of that conscious reality and reject consciousness and god as deluded hallucinations. Similarly, people that experience reality through their conscious experience cannot conceive why anyone would distance itself from their conscious origins, i.e. consciousness or god, and reject and ridicule the materialist viewpoint.
We only have to follow the transformation from energy waves through neural activity to conscious experience to KNOW that these opposing angles on reality are looking at exactly the same reality. Denying that us like saying that a dice has 6 dots only, just because you never turned it over to see that it has any number from 1 to 6.
In my block post on the Slide Projector Model of Worldviews, I referred a “focal origin”. This was the idea that if you follow your experience of the world around you, back to its source, you will hope to find the source of it all.
For materialists like physicists this means analyzing the electromagnetic and other energies around us and tracing them back to their original cause. Today that has taken us to fluctuations in quantum fields that caused a big bang and everything that follows.
For non-dualists and indirectly for religious scholars it means going beyond the experience of the self, i.e. “who am I?” and they end up with that which is all consciousness which they give names like Brahman, Yahweh, God, Allah, the “all”, the “isness”, awareness etc.
As you may know, I worked in particle research for 10 years and do not doubt the reality of fundamental physics. I have personally done the measurements of antimatter particles and antihydrogen and know its reality. I have also pursued my search in the realm of consciousness and found what the various scriptures relate on the experience of consciousness including the pull towards that ultimate experience of bliss. From my experience, that bliss is as real and true as antimatter.
One notion that has eluded me as a scientist is that consciousness should be taken on faith rather than proof. That doesn’t make sense for a very simple reason. If the material universe is one viewpoint of the underlying reality and consciousness another, than logic and reason has to apply to both. That implies that consciousness, i.e. god etc., should be provable. The fact that people that live and breathe in their conscious reality do not need proof because they personally experience consciousness – which they may do – does not mean that we should take their experience on faith, even if that is an easy option. Similarly, it’s not because a dozen physicists tell us that they have seen the Higgs Boson, that we should take that on faith. We definitely need peer reviews of all claims, scientific or religious.
So how do we prove the reality of consciousness and god? One claim that has eluded me for a long time is that there is only one consciousness. Most of us won’t dispute the fact that we are ourselves conscious but to know that all of us are one in consciousness defies reason. If I am conscious and so are you, than given that our scientific view is that our personal consciousness is experienced in our separate brains, what magic would allow us to state that this is the same consciousness?
Many other things in conscious reality add up well. The fact that we can imagine things and perhaps even worship these imaginations to a point where they become as real as our conscious image of a tree, which is merely a collection of qualia in our minds, that’s OK. We love watching a Netflix series and can happily discuss what The Professor will do next in the Money Heist (La casa de papel). The Professor exists in our consciousness and it really shouldn’t be a stretch that Hindus pray to Vishnu. The fact that The Professor and the god Vishnu only exist in our consciousness does not challenge their reality for us humans. On the other hand, there are plenty of things in the material reality that do not exist in our consciousness but only in impenetrable equations of physics. An example would be the 26 dimensional boson in string theory, you cannot have a conscious concept of this.
On a side note, if we wrote these experiences in consciousness off as hallucinations of the brain, then we’re looking at them from the wrong angle of reality, i.e. that of the angle of the neural brain. And even if we entertained the thought that they are hallucinations, we’d have to admit that our experience of the Money Heist is also an hallucination. As would be the experience of being in love or admiring a painting of van Gogh. ALL OUR EXPERIENCES are experiences in consciousness and all are imaginings of the mind. Even studying particle physic leads to a model of reality in our minds. There is no such thing as physics or mathematics in the energetic and waves viewpoint of reality. These are all constructs of our conscious minds.
Back to the one consciousness that I could never understand. How can our individual consciousness be one and the same between us? To answer this, I need to go back to mathematical transformations.
Under the right conditions, mathematical transformations work in both directions. Like the rotation of a dice. If you look at the face with 6 dots and you turn it towards the face with the 3 dots than if you turn it back, you will get back to the 6 dots face. That’s only normal.
It’s the same for our viewpoints of reality. If I start with looking at a tree in the energy and waves in space viewpoint and then change my angle towards the viewpoint of the neural activity in the brain and then to the viewpoint of our conscious experience I will end up with the knowledge that there is a tree. I can now go the other way from that conscious experience back to the viewpoint of the neural activity in the brain and triggers some neurons that allow me to speak and then from the viewpoint of the energy and waves in space, generate a physical sound that represents “hallo tree”.
It’s clumsy to think of these rotations of our viewpoint of reality but it matters. Thinking “tree”, firing speech neurons and generating a sound for “hallo tree” are almost simultaneous events in the 3 viewpoints of reality. We never even have to think of it like this. The fact that I think up these words and you read them, also involves my neurons and your neurons and also the physical medium of keyboard, internet and screen. But the net result is that I transfer thoughts from my consciousness to yours.
To keep things simple, we could agree to ignore the neurons and the physical media involved and just say that I transfer my conscious thought to you directly. For people that live and breathe in their conscious experience of the world, they will always think like that and therefore everything they experience and express is ALWAYS in the same consciousness as you and me. This is the oneness of consciousness. It is a shorthand experience for sharing conscious thoughts via the medium of physical reality. It’s similar to turning a dice over in you hand and saying that it has faces with the numbers 1 to 6. You need to look at all the angles of the dice to determine that but we don’t have to explain that only if you turn a dice over in your hand, can you see all the numbers. We skip that fact when we discuss dice. When we speak about one shared consciousness we also skip the role of the energy and waves in space.
There are more things I could say about how we are profoundly influenced by looking through the viewpoints of physicality, neural activity and consciousness but hopefully you get the idea. Different viewpoints, different focal origins and ways of expressing our shared and unshared experience. In short, human existence.