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The Self-Aware Universe: How Consciousness Creates the Material World

The Self-Aware Universe: How Consciousness Creates the Material World

Consciousness, not matter, is the ground of all existence, declares University of Oregon physicist Goswami, echoing the mystic sages of his native India. He holds that the universe is self-aware, and that consciousness creates the physical world.

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538 of 564 people found the following review helpful 4.0 out of 5 stars
Monistic Idealism Creates Confidence In Your Consciousness, February 6, 2000 By  Henry ReedSee all my reviews
I’ve recently returned from a journey to the rain country of western Oregon where I discovered "monistic idealism." It’s about to become a philosophy of choice in the consciousness revolution.

I gathered this intelligence at the Eugene home of Amit Goswami, Professor of Physics at the Institute of Theoretical Studies at the University of Oregon. I arranged this special interview because of Goswami’s new book, The Self-Aware Universe: How Consciousness Creates the Material World. (Tarcher/Putnam). I wanted to meet the person who authored such a book and to make sure I was correctly understanding its many profundities. At first glance, the book appears to be one of those "new science" books that have become so popular. It does describe quite well the basic experiments of quantum physics, the ones that produce such paradoxes as the dual identity (wave and particle) of electrons and their ability to communicate at a distance with each other instantaneously (non-locality). But rather than simply leaving us with a "Gee, whiz, isn’t this incredible?" impression that the real world isn’t as we assumed, Goswami boldly, yet very thoughtfully, introduces us to monistic idealism and suggests we accept it as a foundation for a new, and quite compelling, worldview. Monistic idealism is the academically correct name given to a philosophical position that once was considered pre-scientific. It existed before the advent of what philosophers today label as materialistic dualism,. or what we might call the current official scientific world view. Materialistic dualism is the assumption that physical matter is the primary reality and that mind is separate from, but dependent upon, matter. In this view, mind is a secondary phenomena, or, to use the favored term, is an "epiphenomenon," meaning that it is some kind of separate, extra stuff that bubbles harmlessly out of brains. Monistic idealism, however, turns things around. In this position (dating back to Plato in the West, to Hinduism and Buddhism in the East), there is but one mind and it is the primary reality. Matter is an expression of mind, not separate from mind, but mind manifested materially. The worldview expressed in Edgar Cayce’s psychic readings is a perfect example of monistic idealism. Cayce’s formula, "Spirit is the Life, Mind is the Builder, the Material is the Result," for example, gives consciousness a very creative role in manifesting the material world. Goswami’s book basically says, "Look, if you’ll adopt the viewpoint of monistic idealism, then everything–the paradoxes of quantum physics, the puzzle of individual consciousnesss and free will, the enigma of psychic abilities, the universals in spiritual teachings–everything falls into place!" His book is a journey of creative thinking, providing the most credible and complete tour of the worldview we call "The New Paradigm" that I’ve yet read. One of the early warning signs of this new paradigm, which Goswami refers to as the "consciousness revolution," was Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle: The observer affects the observed. The scientist looks into the microscope at nature to find nature responding to the observation. How did nature know there was a scientist looking? It takes an electron, it turns out, to know an electron. When the scientist flashes a light on atomic structures, the photons of light disrupt the atoms observed. This simplistic explanation, however, is misleading because it hides the greater truth. Goswami points out that we habitually use materialism to assume that there is a fixed material reality–independent of the observer–one that is simply rebuffed by our gaze. Reality is not fixed, however, and that is where the observing consciousness makes a difference. There is literally a quantum leap of creativity that comes into play as the observer, searching for the material electron "thing" within the etheric electronic wave activity, forces the many possibilities into a single, manifested actuality by the very act of observation The quantum leap is, according to Goswami, like an act of grace–creative, unpredictable, synchronistic and "non-local" (psychic). In talking with him, I realized that it took a quantum leap in my own imagination to fully digest all the implications of monistic idealism. It was easy to understand the ethical implication that we each have to take responsibility for our choices. Goswami emphasizes that it make a difference which ideals we live by, because they determine which potentialities in the unmanifest, quantum mind will materialize through the channel of our individual lives.
Individuality, by the way, especially in the context of a universal consciousness, becomes an intriguing question. Edgar Cayce once had a dream envisioning the mind as being like a single star with spokes radiating out to form individually functioning conscious minds. This model expresses exactly the transcendent, unitary mind assumed by monistic idealism. The spokes even anticipate Goswami's formulation as to how and why the unitary mind creates the impression of separate individual minds. Why, if consciousness is truly unitive and singular, do we have the experience of separate minds? The brain, according to Goswami, is a measuring instrument. It collapses the non-local (a.k.a., infinite and eternal) quantum mind into concreteness and specificity as manifested through individual experience. Our individual "minds" are necessary to "realize" (make real) the material world. We are co-creators of reality, yet created ourselves to help reality become aware of itself. Goswami refers to the theory of "


116 of 124 people found the following review helpful 5.0 out of 5 stars
Great re-thinking of the implications of quantum physics!, December 1, 2003 By  Robert Anderson (Pacific Northwest) – See all my reviews
Most books that explore the intersection between science and spirituality seem to be written by non-scientists who explain some basic scientific principles and then extrapolate wildly to support their spiritual viewpoint.
Goswami, a physics professor, approaches it from the other direction. He carefully lays out a scientific theory – essentially that matter is a phenomina of consciousness rather than vice versa.
In the process he navigates through various topics in physics, mathematics, religion, and philosophy in order to provide the necessary components for us to get a grip on his theory of "monistic idealism" which he proposes as an alternative to the current "material realism" (matter is all that is real) which pervades scientific thought today.
I don’t want to imply that I’m stupid, but the only fault I found with the book was that much of his jargon and scientific references went right over my head – so I came away with a good understanding of his theory, but also with the impression that much of it’s depth and subtlties were lost on me.
I’m not sure how this book was received by the author’s peers (if at all) but he impressed me as a "blow-the-lid-off-the-subject" type of scientist who is willing to ruffle feathers and push beyond the traditional limitations of his field to integrate various disciplines in a search for a truth that doesn’t just look right on paper but also jives with human experience and the soul.
Well worth reading.


67 of 70 people found the following review helpful 4.0 out of 5 stars
Consciousness created reality, June 18, 2005 By  David J. Kreiter (Iowa City, Iowa USA) – See all my reviews
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It has been said that philosophers never answer any questions, they simply pose them. Amit Goswami does both. Armed with a keen understanding of philosophy and an academic background in theoretical sciences, Goswami is able to both succinctly state the essence of a problem and logically hypothesize an answer, while fending off the criticisms offered by others in his field.

Goswami tackles what I consider the most important question of our time: What are the implications of quantum physics for our everyday reality? Numerous attempts have been made to make sense of the oddities and paradoxes of quantum physics, and there have been as many as a dozen proposals to explain these paradoxes. Among the propositions have been Bohr’s Copenhagen Interpretation, Everett’s many-worlds interpretation, and what some have called the most naive explanation–Consciousness Created Reality. The advocates of this Idealist philosophy, which includes John Von Neumann, Eugene Wigner, Fred Alan Wolf, and the author of this book, unashamedly insist that objects such as the moon don’t exist until they are observed.

Goswami doesn’t reject other interpretations of reality outright, but rather, he incorporates, and clarifies some of the best points into his strong anthropocentric philosophy of Monist Idealism, which posits that the universe exists in a transcendental domain of potentiality, and it is we, the observer, who collapse this potential into the corporal world.

The fact that observers have not been here during a majority of the universe’s existence is no problem for Goswami, as he explains that a myriad of universes have existed in a transcendental realm outside of space/time, and an observation “now” can go “back-in-time” to create the universe we know today. Stange as it might seem the notion that a choice in the present can affect past events is strongly demonstrated in Wheeler-style delayed choice experiments.

One of the thorny issues that always crops up with Consciousness Created Reality is the division that seems to exist between the observer and the observed. Why do we feel separate from what we observe, and why is there a sense of a mind/body duality? Goswami contends that the brain/mind is a measuring device with both classical and quantum components. We remain largely unaware of the creative choice that our subconsious mind makes when it exercises a collapse. The choices we make are very creative when we are young, but as we become more conditioned the choices are skewed toward predictable patterns. It is these conditioned patterns and our memories of past choices that give us the sense of our separate “selves”–our individual egos.

Having read “The Conscious Universe” and “The Unconscious Universe” I was a bit leery about picking up yet another book with a similar title. I was glad that I did. “The Self-Aware Universe” is one of those landmark publications that can change ones entire view of reality.

For me, “Consciousness Created Reality” has always been the most romantically satisfying explanation of the paradoxes of quantum experiments. Goswanmi has made it the most scientifically satisfying as well.

This review submitted by David Kreiter, Author of: “Quantum Reality: A New Philosophical Perspective”.

Last modified on Thursday, 22 September 2016 21:31

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