Category Archives: Conscious Universe

The Meaning of Life: A Theory of Everything including Consciousness and “God” Pt. 3

Created December 16, 2022

Welcome to this week’s Bill Harvey Blog.

Chapter One Continued

How Can We Reconcile “God” with Science?

Because of the habits of the human mind, especially in a culture in which humans have created more complexity than our minds can easily handle, we find that as a first step it may be useful to temporarily set aside the word “God” and speak only of a conscious, intelligent universe.

It is far easier for today’s human mind to deal objectively with the possibility that something as big and as filled with inanimate objects as the universe could itself have a mind, than to discuss a word so saddled with millennia of baggage associations. The word itself looses emotions, chemicals in the body, muscular reactions, imagery, feelings beyond description. Let’s park the word and continue the investigation of where we are at the crossroads of life and self-extermination and how it relates to our thinking and ways of being.

Wheeler again has theorized that consciousness is a real thing and has vast importance in the scheme of things in this universe we live in. Consciousness according to Wheeler transforms a universe of probabilities into a world of tangible matter and energy events. Science has not rejected Wheeler’s ideas.

It has largely ignored them. That is, science has ignored the Wheeler ideas that have a bearing on the existence of consciousness as an important aspect of the universe. Science has certainly not ignored Wheeler’s other ideas about black holes, nuclear fission, thermonuclear fusion, quantum foam, wormholes, etc.

Given the respect for Wheeler and the non-rejection of his theories about consciousness and the universe, it should not be too difficult to get scientists to accept the possibility that Wheeler was right about everything, except perhaps the sequence of early universe events. The writer’s own theory is that Wheeler was incorrect about consciousness coming after the beginning of the universe. It makes more sense to the writer that consciousness was there before matter and energy, and compelled them to come into existence.

How to Defend the Idea that Consciousness Came First

Any cosmological theory faces the challenge of explaining why there is a universe at all. Logic suggests that nothing should ever have existed. Something cannot come from nothing. Therefore, there must always have been something.

In scientific thought today, it is Wheeler’s quantum foam of probabilities that was always there. Then the big bang came from that, and eventually crashing matter and energy led to self-reproducing complex structures accidentally, and those eventually became life, and life eventually brought forth brains, and brains generated consciousness.

Is the writer the only one who feels that this picture seems overly optimistic about what accidents can do?

Not to mention the question of where did the quantum foam of probabilities come from.

Science has made it a tradition to dodge these questions of how things started.

Glimmers of light appear from time to time. Today most physicists acknowledge that “the hard question” is how to incorporate consciousness properly in the unified theory of everything. This is the direction from which science can begin to theorize about the start of the universe.

A Possibility to Consider

Let’s imagine what it could have been like before what we experience as the universe existed.

Imagine total nothingness. No quantum foam probabilities, no anything. Just endless nothingness.

Imagine that after the passage of unimaginable amounts of time, that the nothingness realizes itself as a self, noticing a persistent experience of nothingness.

The time that has passed is merely the subjective experience of nothingness that has always existed in the mind of the Noticer.

“The nothingness has always existed, it exists right now, and will probably go on existing forever,” might have been the first intuition of the Noticer.

“I AM THAT nothingness” might have been the next intuition the Noticer had.

“I am the Nothing’s imagination”, might have been the third intuition.

That Consciousness could have continued to think and found it to be more fun than just watching nothing happen forever.

Why did the writer just slip in initial capital letters to “Noticer” and “Consciousness”? If we are considering a scientific proposition regarding a theoretical consciousness of the universe itself, it seems proper respect to use initial caps.

Does this automatically mean that all of the connotations of “God” are to be assumed of the consciousness of the universe? Not necessarily.

What we are suggesting is that it is if nothing else simpler to assume that a persistent experience of nothingness could lead to the experiencer realizing that it exists as an observer – than to imagine that a quantum foam of probabilities existed, exploded, and things slammed against each other until this world we see around us in lightyears in all directions came to be in all its wondrous complexity, eventually created consciousness, the ability to perceive oneself as a persistent entity which experiences things.

The Better of Two Bootstraps

The standard model at the moment is that a complex physical form evolved from random collisions we call The Replicator Molecule, and thus life came to exist.

The model we present here is similar in that it starts with random information bits representing nothingness, assembling a self-referential viewpoint, a permanent memory-creating self.

One would argue that it is less implausible to envision random information becoming a self-organizing system than it is to envision random collisions of matter-energy building any complex physical thing let alone one that is also a factory for others of its kind.

What Would You Do If You Were the First Self?

There you are, you just realized that you exist at all, and you are alone amidst nothingness.

You might think and think and think and at some point, come to the conclusion that you and imagination are one and the same.

This might lead to experimentation as to how far you could go just by imagining things. How intensely could you visualize something else besides nothingness. How real could you make your imaginings seem to you.

After all, once having become consciously self-aware, were you going to simply accept nothingness as your way of life forever? Or would you want to at least try for other things?

What else was there to do but to explore one’s own capabilities? How far could imagination be pushed?

Never A Beginning

Although the better of two bootstraps appeals to me, a simpler theory is that it has always been this way. There never was a beginning.

In the writer’s present theory, time itself is not intrinsic to the One Consciousness, who has the computing power to experience all time at once. Time is part of the imaginary world the One Consciousness creates and inhabits through its avatars.

The expanding universe since the Big Bang suggests a cycle similar to an inbreath alternating with an outbreath, with all of creation sucked back into the Creator for what might be a sleep cycle, followed by a reawakening.

Love to all,

Bill

 

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The Meaning of Life: A Theory of Everything including Consciousness and “God” Pt. 1

Created December 2, 2022

Welcome to this week’s Bill Harvey Blog.

The Meaning of Life
A Theory of Everything including Consciousness and “God” Pt. 1

As we transition from one year to the next, I’ll be sharing with you here a serialization of my newest shortest book The Meaning of Life: A Theory of Everything including Consciousness and “God”. I wrote this short book mainly for physicists but also for everyone. I’d like physicists to accept the scientific possibility of something very much like God, and to prioritize the subject. This book explains why. Hope you enjoy it and feel what Freud called “the Oceanic feeling”. –Bill

Preface

It is long past time to discuss the ultimate questions. We set those questions aside because things were interesting enough in the world of the senses and the everyday pleasures.

Now when things have gotten rough and the existential challenges are many, we remember that homework not done. Now we need the answers to why we are keeping up on our daily routines, in order to have the guts to stand up and do whatever it takes to overcome all the new challenges.

Inner Life

From the start, many of us could not shake off a strong compulsion to know more about who we are and why we are here.

Early aspirants to self-knowledge attained high levels of sophistication in contemplation of the self, remembering key ideas from generation to generation as lyrics in songs. Spirit and mind were regarded as the same thing then, so that psychology and spirituality were in the same category. Most of these key ideas being saved relate to the Oneness of all things. The Rig Veda, Egyptian Book of the Dead, Torah, Tao Te Ching are classic examples.

Science ought to consider this as evidence of a long-running human intuition that there is a far greater intelligence overseeing the universe, and that we are all parts of That. Just because almost everyone at some point experiences such an intuition does not prove that there is anything scientific about it. However, it is a reason to keep an open mind. Science is supposed to do that all the time anyway, the only exception appears to be in this one subject domain, “God”. As if a flinch reaction to having been “deluded” by it for so many millennia – that is the implied script. Hopefully most scientists do have open minds. Because this subject needs more attention stat.

The “inner life” tradition continued alongside every step forward we made in “outward” science and technology. In the world of 2022, meditation and yoga are practiced worldwide, and represent the 101 course of self-examination and thought experiments into what the world might be. The most advanced thinkers of every Age gave us (sometimes only through their followers) the findings of their own inner explorations.

For 6000 years of written history describing as far back as 10,000 BC based upon oral “records”, the ideas of materialism and spiritualism were always of nearly equal importance in explaining people’s behavior. That healthy balance took an odd turn a few hundred years ago and there has been a shrinkage first in the average person’s own spirituality, and then in the outward self-identification people give in surveys. This last drop took place only in the past 20 years, in which self-proclaimed spirituality (an exaggeration of true spirituality) dropped for example in the U.S. from 90% to 70%.

Eisenhower’s speech as he left office described Americans as “a free and religious people”. The absurdity of saying that in 2022 is obvious. The daily news paints all of humanity as running amok. People invoke God to sanctify deeds of extreme hostility. They must be thinking of the old vengeful images of God we first had while hiding in caves.

The “hip” thing to say since around 1970 is a bit like “I believe in something – some kind of force – it may be nothing like us – it may not care about us – but it is there.” This is the way to announce that you are a spiritual, and therefore a good, person. That is another concept of God.

The deists who founded the USA believed that whatever God was, was supremely benevolent, had our best interests at heart, and the teachings of Judeo-Christianity and Islam well described what God would want of us, for our own good. We trust in God. Even though we don’t know what “He” is.

Except that nowadays, even with the social pressure to go along with the herd, a third of us boldly state that we don’t trust God or acknowledge that “He” exists.

Eisenhower was not alone in his association of spirituality with the economic, social, and political success of a nation. He did trust God. A plausible social science theorem would be that the degree of law and order in a culture is predicted by its degree of trust in God.

All of this by way of explaining why a short book like this had to be written.

If we are to trust God in this modern cynical age where we are mostly ruled by violent mood swings, we cannot avoid discussing the nature of God within a scientific framework. If God cannot be reconciled within science, the game is over. The denouement shall not be pretty. The cards are stacked against us. Hedonism, material accidentalism, cynicism, selfishness, ego, scarcity of wealth (only a few have it), power, hate, racism, misogynism, xenophobia, fear, weapons of mass destruction, collapsing environment, dying species, fiat money, superficial education systems, unmoderated systems of social mass communication, all of which are the self-destructive negative forms of creative expression in the absence of spirituality.

The Benefits New Science Can Bring

If science shows that “God” is on the scientific agenda, humanity shall experience the strongest upsurge in positive emotion in hisandherstory. Science’s acknowledgement of possibilities very similar to the existence of God makes each of us important again. We were important enough to have been created by something like God. Life is important, has great meaning, is not to be treated frivolously.

Better behavior will steadily take over. Working together in a friendly way will become the norm. Doing things that you enjoy shall be the employment principle, inspiration and creativity and compromise shall all blossom, love will flower.

What Exactly Is Needed

These are the upside benefits to humanity if science decides that there is no scientific basis for ruling out a benevolent God whom we are right to trust. And taking a fresh look through the lens of science at how consciousness might be related to matter and energy, for that is the experimental direction to determining what “God” there truly is.

A “fresh” look means not again and again solving for the matter-energy quantum brain phenomena which generate the epiphenomenon of consciousness. But explaining why we experience consciousness, why there is Flow state, why there are other states of consciousness and powers of mind that come and go.

And theoretical scientists are needed to focus on all of the possibilities for how the universe came to be, without any presuppositions.

For example, could Wheeler’s first cause “quantum foam of probabilities” exist within a consciousness?

A Role for Individuals 

There is a second experimental path for individuals described in the last Chapter of this book. How an individual can test various ways of using his or her own consciousness, and observe what the results might be. These results may not be of use to science, but could turn out to give you useful new tools and possibly even a profound spiritual feeling.

Love to all,

Bill

 

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Levels of Consciousness

Created October 7, 2022

Welcome to this week’s Bill Harvey Blog.

The idea that there might be a stepladder of different states of being goes back into antiquity, far earlier than the earliest written records. We all know that sometimes we’re on and sometimes we’re not.

Plato implied there were at least two states of being when he wrote, “The first and greatest victory is to conquer yourself; to be conquered by yourself is of all things most shameful and vile.”

Artwork by Bruce Rolff (rolffimages.com)

What he meant by being conquered by oneself was allowing oneself to be taken over by incorrect inner biases, including fear, anger, conceit, vanity, ego. Conquering those things is what he meant by conquering yourself.

India during the time preceding the rise of written language – going back thousands of years before Plato – was aware of the stepladder of self, and sang about it in memorized sung poetry passed on from generation to generation. They knew that there was a spiritually elevated state of consciousness in which one became aware of being part of God. They also realized that before that stage was reached there were intermediary levels of consciousness. One of these was nivritti, the state in which one was no longer attached to the desires for sensory experiences.

Later in the development of this natural philosophy (science), Gautama Buddha developed the idea of nonattachment in language that anticipated modern psychology. The Greek Stoic philosophers including the greatest of them all Epictetus (must-read The Enchiridion) further honed these ideas into operational language that average human beings could understand, and can follow the practices that bring about this state of detachment. The Greeks saw a condensed stepladder which included hubris, the state of entrapment in ego which is the norm today vs. apatheia, the state of detachment (nivritti).

Also in India there evolved techniques for controlling the senses and which were therefore helpful in attaining detachment. Two paths are reported by Daniel Goleman in his classic The Meditative Mind: The Varieties of Meditative Experience. In this valuable work Dan shows a definite stepladder construct called the Visuddhimagga (tracing back to Buddhism), with one path involving concentration and the other path utilizing insights, both ultimately reaching the state of highest spiritual oneness with the Universe and The One Self causing it.

In India there is another map called the Chakra system, which postulates a seven-stage process anticipatory of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, in which the individual conquering himself/herself over the course of a lifetime (or a series of them), passes through the motivational stages of Security, Pleasure, Power, Love, Creativity, Self-Knowledge, and Self-Transcendence.

Levels of consciousness and the stages of evolution in a person’s own life are definitely related. The way they are related is that the stages in life construct is the longterm view and the levels of consciousness concept is the shortterm view. For example, in every stage of my life I experienced second-to-second changes in my level of consciousness, gradually as I moved up the chakra stages spending more and more of my time in the higher states (Observer and Flow states). You might say that the stages of life are a typology and the levels of consciousness are a phenomenology.

In Judaism, those attaining the Observer state (the lowest state in which the mind is enabled to conquer the ego by metacognition and self-metaprogramming) are called menschen (singular=mensch). In the I Ching, the “superior man” has approximately the same meaning. These are foreshortened stepladders into two possible conditions similar to the Greek hubris/apatheia, whereas other conceptions of the journey involve many more states, such as Visuddhimagga and my own map cited below, as well as an interesting stepladder created by a synthesis of the Rig Veda and Piaget’s developmental stages.

These ancient (and modern day) observations about what the mind can do are very relevant to our world today. Our own Western psychology, in a fight to gain the respect of the “harder” (easier to prove) sciences such as physics and chemistry, has straightjacketed and blindered itself into a heavy emphasis on behaviorism, because of its visibility from outside the subject. This to some extent mirrors Plato’s concerns about how our senses can be fooled, implying to modern minds the need for an external observer to observe the observer. However Plato had his own solution which was to employ the mind without the senses, which was more in line with the Eastern traditions cited above.

As a science, today’s Western psychology has skipped over the value of inner observation out of a distrust for the reporter of inner experiences. This is truly throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Our behavioristic psychology has been strongly involved with neurosis and psychosis, which definitely deserve attention, but insufficiently sparse with regard to the positive possibilities of the mind. Future psychology must repair this faster than present forces end the race too soon.

It might also be seen as a circularity of reasoning. Because individual scientists have ego, whatever they write about what happened within them internally will be distorted by their desire for self-aggrandizement, therefore  causing Western psychologists to think: let us measure third-party-observable behavior and place a stiff taboo on introspective reporting being considered acceptable within science. The reason this is circular is that without the knowledge of the techniques by which to reach higher states of consciousness we cannot get the ego out of the way; but because ego is ubiquitous in modern world culture and rules it, we are unable to learn those techniques that would remove the ego from its hypnotic Orwellian power over us, leading us to our doom.

That’s why I write about these ancient subjects, because they are a necessary part of our immediate future, if we are to have a future. The future psychology must make introspective data admissible within guardrails to be established and verified by third-party observations of behavior. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi gave us that validation system: it is the obviousness of the Flow state, a term which he coined. Some of what attracts human attention through the media is the Flow state that athletes demonstrate, as do great musicians, and performers of many types that we can see on our devices. We are appropriately awestruck watching what a human being can accomplish if they follow the requisite techniques to conquer themselves, as Plato put it.

In my book You Are The Universe, Chapter 21 is devoted to Levels of Consciousness, and offers a construct involving five levels of Flow state, starting with the Flow state of the body, and ultimately attaining the Supreme Flow state of the spirit. The levels shown in that chapter represent my own experience as organized around the map created by Oscar Ichazo and adopted by John Lilly, which was informed by the speculative stepladders of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky.

One of the techniques on the stairway to heaven, up Jacob’s Ladder, that is common to all religions is meditation, but it is not alone, it’s joined by contemplation and concentration. All three of these techniques require the conquering of the senses directly, one of the paths up the Visuddhimagga. The other path involving insights is represented in modern thought, for example, by my manual Mind Magic which is a compendium of mental/emotional self-interventions resulting in the conquest of oneself (specifically the ego part).

Levels of consciousness are important because in the race between education and destruction (H.G. Wells), if we as a species do not bring the subject of levels of consciousness to the forefront of the world media conversation, and into our lives as a daily regimen, we are at great risk of not being able to avert racial suicide which is visibly in its early stages even to an optimist like me. It is the failure of our science and education system worldwide (including the religions) that while maintaining the pomp and ceremony and numinous traces of the teachings of Christ and Buddha et al, we have eaten the seed and thrown away the fruit.

Getting billions of people to recognize that there is an internal stepladder to be climbed and helping them as they try to make their way up the stairway is a herculean task. I see no way around it. We definitely need to start with world leaders and would-be world leaders. May divine intervention make it so.

Love to all,

Bill

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Believing What We Want to Believe

Created September 9, 2022

Welcome to this week’s Bill Harvey Blog.

The human race is driving itself insane. What is the root cause of this? I postulate that it is an overpowering desire for hard answers to questions for which we may not have scientifically objective hard answers for hundreds or thousands of years more of the current slogging forward and slipping backward.

So we manufacture black and white answers and defend our somewhat arbitrary/aesthetic positions by aligning with like-minded people, and demonizing all others, who are assumed to all be the polar opposite of what we stand for.

In Mind Magic, Chapter One “Avoid Hasty Closure” provides psychotechnology (mind tricks) to overcome this “mind takeover to relieve aggravated cognitive dissonance”. “If everyone read this one book” (as one reader wrote), it could have significant effect on bringing down the omnipresent Berlin Wall of psychoneurotic divisiveness.

Just telling people to be good does not do it. They need to know the mental and emotional corridors to explore to achieve a steady state of metacognition and self-metaprogramming (which I call the Observer state). Once established in this equilibrium, the mind takes it to the next level on its own (Flow state, the Zone). Flow state itself has levels, and at the higher levels the intuition (hunches) become very accurate (likely to be verified empirically).

Religions were started by people in these latter higher states of Flow. Some of those who became disciples of those religions developed themselves along similar lines. Other followers of specific religions have taken a different path. They are followers in name only, and have lost the essence of what their claimed religion stands for.

These latter people who are religious in name only, are doing that for the purpose of aligning with other like-minded people who have chosen one authority to believe, having the false comfort of mental closure, and also now having a scapegoat group of people on which to blame everything that is not right about the world. Although they may claim to believe everything their one authority said, their actions prove they are being hypocritical, and that they are repressing awareness of their own hypocrisy.

Not that Christianity is the only religion that suffers from false followership, a new article very carefully and authoritatively connects the dots to help Christians get themselves into alignment with Jesus rather than with any political faction. Written by Michael Gerson, Republican speechwriter and journalist, who was steeped in Evangelical Christianity from birth, and was named by TIME Magazine as one of the top 25 most influential Evangelicals in America, this article strikes me as potentially the most important article ever written. If all Christians read it and truly grok it, it will put their feet back on the path. I hope that writers with comparable levels of authority and learning regarding their own religion are able to emulate Michael’s article.

Blaming a religion itself for those who have perverted that religion is not a very intelligent thing to do. This is the same black and white oversimplistic reductionism to which we all flee in Hasty Closure state, because we find that something in us cannot bear not having at least provisional answers upon which to base one’s life and one’s actions. It’s not unreasonable to feel that way but a better response is open mindedness.

All true religions have taught the same moral lessons. Compassion, do unto others, kindness, respect, love. When in the name of religion, a person acts oppositely from these ethical compunctions, and hides that hypocrisy even from themselves, this to me goes beyond neurosis into true psychosis, i.e., a dangerous diseased condition, not just a tolerable level of neuroticism.

The fact that there were and are still religiously driven equivalents of Crusades, the Inquisition, and sexual molestation by clerics, that is not the fault of the religion, it is the fault of the followers in name only.

Religions are losing adherents faster than cable/satellite companies are losing cord-cutters. In the US for example Pew finds that the percent of people who are religiously unaffiliated has doubled to roughly 3 in 10 since 2007.

In another article, Pew explains why this is happening and relates it to a perceived dichotomy (more of the same black/white mindtrap) between religion and science. Science may have ruled out a white-bearded old man version of God, but it certainly has not ruled out the possibility that our own selves are offshoots of One Self (my Theory of the Conscious Universe).

Leading scientists including Einstein, Wheeler, Planck, Schrodinger, Heisenberg, Wigner and many others have put forth scientific possibilities aligned with my notion, which also aligns with all religious writings.

The human race is becoming more open to the idea of animal intelligence and therefore animal rights (as I predicted in a 1972 sci-fi novel Ouroboros). For example, the reading public has recently discovered how intelligent octopi are. Upon closer scientific study it has become now widely known that each octopus tentacle has its own brain. This suggests that each octopus tentacle may have an independent sense of self.

Perhaps the main groupmind of these brains is the controlling sense of self, who can live through the each of the multiple sub-minds. And perhaps the main self can focus in on the one arm that is presently sucking on the most delicious shrimp.

How is that different from my theory that there could be One Self above us all into which we all feed? Is it mere coincidence that the latter lens integrates and depolarizes science and religion?

By opening one’s mind to include this possibility, one can regain a new oneness with everyone, and a new genuine, authentic oneness with one’s own birth religion or chosen religion. And by embodying the scientific method as the way to run one’s life (Foment Empiricism, as Scott McDonald says), one gains a new respect for science by practicing it in each moment oneself.

This lens overrules the impatient Hasty Closure black/white ache in one’s mind. By making sure that one does not jump to conclusions just to have a fake sense of certainty. Having a fake sense of certainty is what allows us to desire civil war to punish all the bad people who disagree with us politically. That fake sense of certainty is the insanity I spoke of in the first sentence of this article.

Coming back to intuition… Kurt Vonnegut in his satirical wisdom said that humans tend to cluster into two types of groups: karass, which is the real group we are destined to be with, and to whom we are brought together by unseen forces (“meant to be”, “bashert”, “kismet”), and granfalloon, a false karass. Suppose he was right. Granfalloons then might in some cases be political parties. In his brilliant article, Michael Gerson contrasts Jesus with Trump, and shows how scripture makes it clear that Jesus warned his disciples to stay away from politics. How can we know when we are following a true intuition and not simply believing what is convenient to believe?

The highest true (empirically verifiable) intuitions tend to give one a sense of peace, a sense that all is oneness, naturally oneness loves it parts, the universe is doing all this benevolently, there will be a happy ending, and from the ending we shall look back and see how the way that reached that end was perfect as it was. How the learning could not have otherwise been achieved. That it all happens for a reason.

Freud called this “the oceanic feeling”. Jung called it the “collective unconscious”. Kashmir Shaivism calls it “The Supreme Self”. The earliest Greek philosophers when they looked inside, and acted so as to foment empiricism, found that mind has hidden powers (intuition), and used them to think about what reality really is. Thales, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Epictetus, and later many poets and natural philosophers including Berkeley, Newton, Leibniz, Spinoza, Descartes, and endless more sages throughout hisandherstory, all came to the same conclusion that consciousness is primary, at least as important as the apparent matter-energy-time-space display which we all apprehend.

How can an empiricist postulate that the only thing he/she as an empiricist can swear exists (consciousness), is merely a derivative of a physical brain which is not directly known to the empiricist who needs a surgeon to inspect his/her brain? Unscientific, yet scientists sometimes assume that their intuition is superior to that of other people who sense a Friendly Larger Presence. Let scientists be the first to have open minds!

Love to all,

Bill

 

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