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Record Type: Review   ID: 400

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

Goswami, Amit, with Reed, Richard E., & Goswami, Maggie

 Goswami, who is a physics professor, tells in his Preface how he came to write this book, something that everyone, but especially scientists, should be required to do. When they do, it is interesting how often the same pattern emerges: disillusion followed by reenchantment—often via EHEs—and then synchronistic events that play an important part in writing the book in question. Goswami fits this pattern well. Having followed, as he was trained to do, a mechanistic approach to physics that provided him with a living but led to his losing the joy he had known in his youth when contemplating quantum physics, he decided to recapture some of that zest. Capra's The Tao of Physics had just come out, and Goswami felt that Capra did not properly investigate the reason for the parallels he observes between quantum physics and a mystical worldview. He decided that would be his focus. And then the coincidences started, which led him to the right people who could supply him with the interdisciplinary knowledge needed to write this book. In it he puts forth a philosophy of monistic idealism, which views consciousness as the primary "stuff" of creation, and he shows how it can form the basis of a new physics. Part 1 contains four chapters on The Integration of Science and Spirituality. Part 2, Idealism and the Resolution of the Quantum Paradoxes, devotes 5 chapters to specific paradoxes, such as nonlocal effects, Schrodinger's cat, and the Einstein-Podolsky-Rose paradox. Part 3 may be the most important. It consists of 5 chapters that deal with Self-Reference: How the One Becomes the Many. It begins with the mind-body problem and ends with the Buddha self, the Hindu Atman. He points to the role played by transpersonal experiences (i.e., EHEs) in expanding one's identity. Part 4, is The Re-Enchantment of the Persona. In this book, as in many being written today, the person writing the book has to grow into its subject matter. Goswami had been stuck (although he wasn't fully aware of it) by his belief that consciousness was an epiphenomenon of the brain. But then, in talking to a mystic, Joel Morwood, following attendance at a lecture by Krishnamurti, he had an EHE of the "aha" variety—a sudden comprehension of what the mystics have always taught: "consciousness is prior and unconditioned. It is all there is. There is nothing but God" (in the words of Morwood). Goswami saw that "in quantum nonlocality, transcendent heaven—the kingdom of God—is everywhere" (p. 215). But we do not see it. Having seen it himself, Goswami set himself the new task of formulating "a physics based on consciousness as the building block of everything" (p. 215). Instead of trying to find consciousness within science, he now knew he had to "develop a consciousness compatible with consciousness, our primary experience" (p. 215). He underlines the basic fact that "the mystical truth that there is nothing but consciousness must be experienced in order to be truly understood" (p. 216). [This realization is an exceptional human experience, and the way to it is indicated by other EHEs—R.A.W.] In this last section he proposes that "science and religion in the future perform complementary functions—science laying the groundwork in an objective fashion for what needs to be done to regain enchantment, and religion guiding people through the process of doing it" (p. 216).
Publisher Information:New York: Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam, 1993. 320p. Bibl: 297-305; Chap. notes: 287-295; 40 figs; Glossary: 275-285; Index: 307-319
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