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Deepak Chopra and Intent

Deepak Chopra and Intent

Is Physics the Next Guru?

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The worldview of modern physics teases us with spiritual suggestions like the discovery—premature it seems—of the “God particle.” That nickname embarrasses some in the field, but ever since Fritjof Capra’s book The Tao of Physics, the links between Eastern spiritual traditions and the findings of quantum physics have been tantalizing.

 

Now they are much more than that. In three previous posts I’ve argued that synchronicity, the experience of a meaningful coincidence, points toward a new way of life, one where the strange and spooky behavior of the quantum domain can be used to change our view of everyday reality. There is a staunch band of physicists and their skeptic hangers-on who erect a brick wall between the quantum and classical domains, but more and more they are in the minority.

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This is because we exist in only one reality, not two. Nature didn’t separate the quantum and classical worlds; this division exists in the mathematical models of physics. If you keep normal, everyday life on one plane and quantum behavior on another, a bridge must eventually be built. In everyday life, as human beings live it, there is intelligence, meaning, purpose, intention, creativity, evolution, and consciousness. To date, no one has constructed a plausible way for these things to arise out of the random, mindless, meaningless operation of subatomic particles.

 

This matters. Instead of trying to keep the brick wall intact, more scientists are looking at the common ground between the classical and quantum worlds. Their purpose isn’t to make everyday life quantum, nor is mine. The sensible goal is to explore how common principles uphold reality as a whole.

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One principle is self-organization, which applies to the atom and to the human body. Both are self-sustaining systems that use feedback loops to remain in balance.   Another principle is qualia, the qualities we experience through the five senses and the mind. Qualia aren’t about numbers; they are about how reality is experienced. The color red is a qualia; its wavelength is a number. Middle C on a piano is a qualia; it also has a measurable wavelength. Qualia define every moment of human existence, but science has resisted the concept, preferring numerical measurement. But numbers will never get you to intrinsic qualities that are imbedded in reality, such as beauty, truth, harmony, goodness, and love.

 

The common ground here, as a number of thinkers agree, is mathematics, which displays harmony, order, balance, and even beauty, not as add-ons or psychological projections but as fundamental properties of math itself. This realization opens the door for other qualia in other parts of science, particularly harmony and balance, which all self-organizing systems display.

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The next common principle is creativity. At the quantum level, genesis is a constant as new subatomic particles bubble up from the so-called quantum foam. It hardly seems an accident that creativity is a constant in the classical world as well. The brain of a skeptic is creating new neurons and pathways throughout life, even if they are being used to deny the principle of creativity, espousing that only random events give rise to new creations in nature. No one has successfully rebutted the clever remark by physicist Fred Hoyle that creating DNA out of random events is the equivalent of a hurricane blowing through a junk yard and creating a Boeing 727.

 

The relevance of these three common principles—self-organization, qualia, and creativity—is hard to overestimate. If they take hold on a wider scale, our view of the cosmos will never be the same. We will look out on a universe where human beings belong at home rather than a cold, alien vacuum. The vacuum isn’t habitable, but that’s not the point. The point is that reality itself is human, created through experience, upheld by the same core values. Such a view has been dismissed as Platonic, poetic, or blindly anthropomorphic. But that’s starting to change.

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The reason for the rise of Platonism in a new, scientifically valid guise is that without common values, reality is either hostile to human beings or indifferent to us. It seems untenable that this can be true, because here we are, the product, as the famous astronomer Sir Arthur Eddington remarked of “something unknown . . . doing we don’t know what.” That something can be relied upon, however. The principles of self-organization, qualia, and creativity are at the heart of human life and of Nature itself.

Deepak Chopra, MD is the author of more than 80 books with twenty-two New York Times bestsellers. He serves as the founder of The Chopra Foundation and co-founder of The Chopra Center for Wellbeing. His latest book is The 13th Disciple: A Spiritual Adventure.

 

 

 

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Synchronicity, Evolution, and Your Genes (Part 3)

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By Deepak Chopra, MD, and Jordan Flesher, MA Psychology

 

Two views of the universe have been contending with each other to explain why human beings exist. The first view holds that human beings are not special in any way. We evolved through random events that have accumulated over time, taking 13.7 billion years since the big Bang to arrive at the most complex structure in creation, the human brain. This view, long established in physics and biology, constructs evolution in the absence of mind. Matter came first, and mind emerged very late in the game.

 

The contending view, held by every wisdom tradition, holds that mind came first. The universe is a field of consciousness, which made it inevitable that conscious creatures would evolve over time. Using our self-awareness, humans recognize order, harmony, beauty, truth, love, balance, equanimity, creativity, and the other qualities essential to consciousness. Over the course of our evolution as a species, we have come to embody these qualities. Therefore, the link between humanity and the universe is intimate, to the extent that the only creation we experience is the human cosmos.

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Despite science’s enormous prestige, these two views exist on level playing field. The evidence for both is solid. In the previous two posts of this series, we took a single example, synchronicity, and showed how meaningful coincidences can be used to arrive at the same principle of non-locality strongly validated by quantum physics. Working from the other worldview, the eminent British physicist Sir Roger Penrose has theorized that mathematics, the essential language of science, is imbued by a Platonic value like harmony and symmetry—these attributes give mathematics its internal beauty, recognized by every great mathematician and yet inexplicable if you attempt to break this harmony down into reductionist bits of information.

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In both cases, a meaningful trait in the makeup of the human mind becomes a basic trait of nature. Synchronicity as a subjective experience and mathematical symmetry as an objective discovery indicate that an underlying wholeness exists in Nature. Why, then, is there any disagreement about the compatibility of the subjective and objective approaches? The most obvious answer is habit and tradition. The scientific viewpoint has been centered on materialism, Darwinian evolution, randomness, and the exclusion of subjectivity for a long time.

 

This steady focus tells most scientists that they must be right, but in fact it only shows that a model of reality can continue and persist. Outside the laboratory, human experience is measured in millennia, not centuries, and it is reliable. The most reliable aspects are as follows:

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  1. Reality is too complex to submit to models.
  2. Any model explains only the portion of reality that fits the model.
  3. Models ignore what lies outside them because they have to in order to remain intact.
  4. What a model leaves out is just as important as what it includes.
  5. By definition, a model has nothing to say about what it doesn’t include.
  6. Being as complex as reality itself, the human mind cannot be modeled.
  7. Nothing is real in the human world unless we can experience it.

These seven points are unarguable. Human beings didn’t invent or imagine them. They arise from simple logic, and they pertain to any worldview, including the religious and mystical. Attributing creation to God or to the Big Bang is logically consistent within its own framework and logically flawed outside that framework.

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A model of DNA, for example, explains the structure of living cells, but it says nothing about where life came from. An origins story about life is just that, a story. Similarly, a brain scan can tell you about the firing of neurons in specific areas of the brain, such as the visual cortex. But it says nothing about how the total darkness inside the brain produces the sensation of light and color.

 

When physics declares, as it does regularly, that a Theory of Everything is possible and will one day be arrived at, this “everything” is purely material—it accounts for the four basic subatomic forces in Nature. A reasonable definition of “everything” would also have to include human experience—the search for theories, after all, is itself an experience. But the Theory of Everything excludes human experience, and therefore constitutes an extremely limited definition of wholeness.

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Wholeness is peculiar in that it’s totally necessary for our existence and yet completely inconceivable. Without the universe being exactly what it is, down to the minutest ingredient, the human brain could not have evolved. Yet the human brain isn’t an adequate instrument for understanding how every element was coordinated, either by chance or by some unseen consciousness, to arrive at where we are in our evolution.

 

The eminent physicist Henry Stapp was a student of two great quantum pioneers, Wolfgang-Pauli and Werner Heisenberg. Stapp recalls that in private conversation, Heisenberg believed for his mathematical framework to make sense, there needed to be what he called an “Objective-Mind”. Such a mind orchestrates the cosmos, which is how objective observation suggests so strongly that behind the appearance of random events, reality is self-organizing, purposeful, and continuously evolving. By analogy, if Rembrandt were invisible, an outside observer would see his brush dip randomly into a palette of colors, and yet the picture being produced assumes definite form, shape, and meaning.

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Stapp himself holds to a view originated by another great predecessor, John von Neumann, that “the state of the universe is an objective compendium of subjective knowings.” In other words, the facts collected by science are at the same time subjectively experienced. The “mind of God” has cropped up in scientific discourse form time to time—Einstein used the phrase—as something more than a metaphor but less than a proven fact. It points to a source of infinite potential from which the universe draws its orderliness and at the same time the human mind is able to recognize such orderliness.

 

If wholeness is inconceivable and two worldviews compete on equal footing, a question arises. Which viewpoint should people hold to in their daily lives? We will address this thorny question in the next post.

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(To be cont.)

Deepak Chopra, MD is the author of more than 80 books with twenty-two New York Times bestsellers. He serves as the founder of The Chopra Foundation and co-founder of The Chopra Center for Wellbeing. His latest book is The 13th Disciple: A Spiritual Adventure.

 

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Synchronicity, Evolution, and Your Genes (Part 2)

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Everyone has had a meaningful coincidence happen to them–the classic example is thinking of someone’s name and the next minute that person telephones, or seeing an unusual word in your mind’s eye and then running across that word the next time you open a book.  It’s spooky that the outside world can be synchronized with our inner world, yet the bigger question is about reality itself. Synchronicity, the common term for meaningful coincidences, doesn’t tend to change anyone’s life–but it could.

 

Instead of passing off such experiences as incidental, what if synchronicity is telling us something crucial about reality, linking the inner and outer worlds because in the long run, they are completely unified? If inner=outer, a tremendous shift in the Western materialistic worldview would follow. Let’s see how far the trail of clues takes us.

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We already saw that in the quantum world time and distance are not fixed properties. Both are malleable, and even more importantly, they can be erased. Two particles separated by light years can react immediately to changes of state in one of the pairs, so that Part A somehow “knows” what is happening to particle B instantaneously, without any visible connection. This phenomenon, known as non-locality, is verified physics even though it cannot be explained, only calculated as a key aspect of highly complex equations.

 

Non-locality needs to be understood on a human scale to have any meaning in everyday life. Synchronicity does just that: it joins two events that have invisible connections. For example, when highly successful people are asked about how they achieved their success, they often say that they were somehow the right person in the right place, not once or twice, but throughout their careers. If they are religious, they say, “God was on my side.” Luck is often invoked, but the one thing you almost never hear is that their success was random. There’s a wide gap between the meaning we experience in our lives and the randomness of scientific explanations.

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It goes beyond a single instance of synchronicity when many things fall together perfectly, as if being in sync overrides the ordinary notion of cause and effect.  When the link between inner and outer is strong enough, intuition strikes so deeply that the world of appearances turns transparent, revealing an underlying structure that is perfectly organized. The unity experiences, which have occurred in every culture, gave rise to the world’s wisdom traditions. From that perspective the tables are turned, and what are anomalous are random events.

 

Collectively, the world’s sages, seers and mystic repeat the same conclusions, which can be stated in modern secular terms as three principles:

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  1. The universe is conscious; therefore, human intelligence is a single outcropping in an infinite field of intelligence.
  2. Reality functions as a unified whole. Everything from subatomic particles to galaxies operates as one.
  3. Because it is sentient, the universe is constructed as layers of consciousness that parallel different levels of reality. “Consciousness stuff” transforms into waves, particles, planets, living creatures, the human brain, and beyond. Our senses are attuned to the appearance of physical things, but if we have sufficient self-awareness, the mask of materialism drops away, and we see the invisible nature of reality as it truly is, not as it appears.

 

Seeing the universe as mind first and matter second is the position of every spiritual tradition; introducing God is actually secondary, in that some traditions accept the three principles without needing a personal God to personify them.

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We can say, then, that synchronicity lifts us momentarily into a state of awareness where the universe is pervaded by order, harmony, beauty, truth, love, balance, equanimity, creativity, and the other qualities essential to consciousness. Human beings didn’t invent or imagine these qualities. We possess them by drawing on an infinite reservoir–in this way, without introducing religion, we understand why omniscience, omnipotence, and omnipresence are undeniable features of an all-pervading consciousness that pervades the cosmos.

 

Human evolution isn’t chiefly materialistic, even though the fossil record without a doubt gives us the physical traces of our ancestors. What these physical traces only hint at, however, is the invisible progression that all evolution depends upon. There are three principles at work here, too.

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  1. Simple forms evolve into complex forms.
  2. As complexity proceeds, so does self-organization.
  3. As self-organization evolves, so does self-awareness.

 

These principles are obviously at work in human evolution, because the brain of Homo sapiens is the most complex entity on the evolutionary ladder. Its complexity serves a purpose, to organize the nearly infinite synchronicity that binds billions of neurons and trillions of other cells into a wholeness. And this wholeness, having transcended physiological functions common to all higher life forms (e.g., digestion, respiration, reproduction, healing) focuses its energies on consciousness itself.

 

The reason we notice a moment of synchronicity, then, is that we are looking into a mirror. Unable to see with our eyes the incredible synchronicity that binds trillions of cells at every moment of life, we need outer reflections to remind us that the invisible forces holding reality together are constantly present, upholding the highest stage of evolution that exists today, while preparing the foundation for our next evolutionary step.

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In the next post we will see how this whole scheme is directed to make the universe a human universe, not a whirling, random, physical machine.

(To be cont.)

 

Deepak Chopra, MD is the author of more than 80 books with twenty-two New York Times bestsellers. He serves as the founder of The Chopra Foundation and co-founder of The Chopra Center for Wellbeing. His latest book is The 13th Disciple: A Spiritual Adventure.

 

 

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Synchronicity, Evolution, and Your Genes (Part 1)

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By Deepak Chopra, MD, and Jordan Flesher, BA Psychology

 

Over the past decade, the hunt for genetic connections with behavior as intensified. For any experience, there must be a physical activity in the brain—otherwise, the experience has no basis. Using this irrefutable assumption, researchers have looked for the seat of anger, criminal behavior, gender identification, the sense of self, and many other aspects of human nature. This includes spirituality. Where is God in the brain? To many neuroscientists, that’s not only a valid question but the only one worth asking, insofar as spiritual experiences have any reality.

Now we are hearing about “God in the genes,” as genetics overtakes neuroscience for the top spot in explaining the roots of human experience. Where the brain operates only in the present, genetics peers deep into the past. A geneticist would want to know what evolutionary advantage early humans got from being spiritual—in the broadest sense of the word—that led to a better chance to survive. This whole line of inquiry, whether we’re taking about the brain or our genes, makes sense if you are a materialist. But it runs the danger of saying that spirituality is only about the physical side of the experience, as if music could never be discussed except by looking at pianos and radios, the physical side of delivering the musical experience.

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The materialist explanation is filled with philosophical flaws, but instead of focusing on that, it’s more productive to ask how the brain and genes relate to spiritual experience. The physical side must be accounted for, without making it the whole story. To explore a new kind of explanation that embraces both the physical and non-physical, let’s examine an experience that most people have had. Without experiencing God, angels, the soul, or other traditionally religious things, almost everyone has had at least one or two inexplicable coincidences in their lives.

 

Synchronicity is the commonly used term for a meaningful coincidence, such as thinking someone’s name and having that person telephone a few seconds later, or opening a book at random and finding the answer to a problem you’ve been wrestling with. Synchronicity doesn’t feel random, which is how it is differentiated from coincidences that have no meaning but happen by chance. The spiritual link involves how to explain a meaningful coincidence. When someone is rescued through a string of chance events, did God intervene? If a car is stranded by the side of the road and a stranger appears out of nowhere to offer help, is God answering a need or a prayer? Events without causes lead to all kinds of unusual explanations.

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The term synchronicity was coined by the eminent Swiss psychologist Carl Jung for a phenomenon he experienced with clients in psychotherapy. He first publically discussed synchronicity in a short essay describing synchronicity as an “acausal connecting principle”. By using the word acausal he is pointing to the non-local nature of synchronicity. Non-locality is one of the major principles in quantum physics. Non-locality refers to behavior between particles that doesn’t need a specific cause or location in spacetime. Hitting a billiard ball with a cue entails both a cause and a location. The location is the point where the tip of the cue strikes the ball. The force of the strike is the cause that moves the ball.

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But in the quantum domain there is a mystery known as action at a distance, where two particles react to each other instantaneously, even though they can be separated by light years. The action occurs without regard for distance or the limitation of the speed of light. Action at a distance has been popularly explained as “You tickle the universe here, and it laughs over there.” Two particles that mirror each other’s behavior are said to be entangled, although the mechanism behind action at a distance is unknown. Entanglement fits the mathematical model underlying quantum mechanics, and that is what counts when physics is arriving at reliable, precise calculations.

In the everyday world, however, non-locality is about people, not particles. It’s part of human experience to have a meaningful coincidence happen that feels too profound—or too spooky—to feel random. A strict materialist would dismiss such feelings as unreliable and subjective, but “meaningful” isn’t simply subjective. Finding meaning in our lives, from any source, is essential. So how can we fit synchronicity into a broader context?

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The key is to connect inner and outer, because synchronicity is about an event “out there” that has sudden meaning “in here.” To make the connection, nine principles apply to genuinely synchronous coincidences.

  1. Synchronicity is a conspiracy of improbabilities. The entangled events break the boundaries of statistical probability).
  2. The improbable events conspiring to create the synchronistic event are acausally related to each other. (Buddhist traditions call this interdependent co-arising. This is the equivalent of non-local correlation.)
  3. Synchronistic events are orchestrated in the non-local domain.
  4. As we become aware of synchronistic events, we move to higher or more expanded states of consciousness.
  5. Synchronistic events are actually the result of an intention, which organizes the needed outcome. (The intention may have been introduced consciously or unconsciously.)
  6. Synchronistic events vary in importance. They can seem incidental or can change the course of a person’s life.
  7. Synchronistic events affect our emotions the way random coincidences don’t. A synchronous event creates the experience of emotional fulfillment and joy.
  8. Synchronistic events allow us to discover the meaning and purpose of our life.
  9. Synchronistic events are personal. In effect they are messages from our non-local self.

 

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Taken together, these principles enable us to receive clues about the essential unity of two realities that seem to be separate: the inner world of thoughts, feelings, memories, fantasies, desires, and intentions, and the outer world of spacetime events.  The inner and outer are the same field, one non-dual consciousness that simultaneously creates both the subjective world and the objective world.

Therefore, synchronicity isn’t simply a passing anomaly that can be shrugged off. Something crucial is happening. In the next post we’ll discuss the implications of that something as it applies to everyday life.

 

(To be cont.)

 

Deepak Chopra, MD is the author of more than 80 books with twenty-two New York Times bestsellers. He serves as the founder of The Chopra Foundation and co-founder of The Chopra Center for Wellbeing. His latest book is The 13th Disciple: A Spiritual Adventure.

 

 

Previous Posts

Is Physics the Next Guru?
The worldview of modern physics teases us with spiritual suggestions like the discovery—premature it seems—of the “God particle.” That nickname embarrasses some in the field, but ever since Fritjof Capra’s book The Tao of Physics, the ...

posted 11:48:13am Apr. 20, 2015 | read full post »

Synchronicity, Evolution, and Your Genes (Part 3)
  By Deepak Chopra, MD, and Jordan Flesher, MA Psychology   Two views of the universe have been contending with each other to explain why human beings exist. The first view holds that human beings are not special in any way. ...

posted 10:38:46am Apr. 13, 2015 | read full post »

Synchronicity, Evolution, and Your Genes (Part 2)
Everyone has had a meaningful coincidence happen to them--the classic example is thinking of someone's name and the next minute that person telephones, or seeing an unusual word in your mind's eye and then running across that word the next time ...

posted 12:03:58am Apr. 06, 2015 | read full post »

Synchronicity, Evolution, and Your Genes (Part 1)
By Deepak Chopra, MD, and Jordan Flesher, BA Psychology   Over the past decade, the hunt for genetic connections with behavior as intensified. For any experience, there must be a physical activity in the brain—otherwise, the ...

posted 10:56:38am Mar. 30, 2015 | read full post »

The Best Way to Get Rid of Evil
    By Deepak Chopra, MD.   The best way to get rid of evil is to change our ideas about it. The two concepts about evil that do nothing to end it are, first, the concept of cosmic evil embodied by Satan, and second, ...

posted 11:07:42am Mar. 23, 2015 | read full post »

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