Quantum Mechanics: The Mind of Nature
Firstly, quantum mechanics reveals that the universe like the human species has an outer body and an inner mind. The outer body is the macroscopic, material world, which has been the subject of over 300 years of scientific investigation by classical mechanics and thermodynamics. The inner reality behind this outer expression the man behind the machine is the abstract world of quantum mechanics. This world, with all its quirky and enigmatic behavior, thrusts itself upon scientists in their efforts to understand the microscopic realm of atoms and subatomic particles.
In probing natures inner core, in attempting to isolate and analyze the elementary particles the ultimate material building blocks of the universe scientists discovered that this inner core was surprisingly soft. The elementary particles were not particles, but non-material, wholly conceptual entities. The quantum world was a world of pure potentiality of probability waves evolving in accordance with the Shroedinger equation. More precisely, a quantum-mechanical system (e.g., an elementary particle) is a vector in a complex, infinite dimensional Hilbert Space. Beyond this abstract mathematical description, any attempt to impute material attributes to these particles is problematic, at best. If they were material particles, they would behave like material particles. They do not. A material particle cannot, for example, exist in multiple locations simultaneously. A material particle does not diffract and interfere with itself like a wave. And the properties of a material particle should not depend intimately upon the observer. Instead, a quantum-mechanical particle moves like a non-material wave (evolves unitarily in accordance with the Shroedinger equation), adds like a non-material wave (the quantum superposition principle), and otherwise behaves like a non-material wave (or more precisely, like a vector in Hilbert space).
This wholly conceptual, quantum-mechanical world, and the abstract mathematical laws that govern it, is the nonmaterial, inner mind or soul behind outer matter. It is made of the very stuff that thoughts are made of. Mathematical logic alone governs its behavior. This abstract, non-material quantum world underlies, and governs, the outer material universe.
Through the correspondence principle described above, classical, material behavior can be derived as the macroscopic limit of underlying quantum-mechanical principles. The converse is not the case: the deeper, more fundamental quantum-mechanical laws cannot be derived on the basis of classical constructs.
Similarly, the human mind, and the very existence and nature of consciousness, cannot be derived, or even anticipated, on the basis of classical principles. The phenomenon of consciousness will always be enigmatic to classical, material science. The essential nature and characteristics of life, and of consciousness, fly in the face of conventional classical laws e.g., creating and preserving order in a universe governed by increasing entropy. These and other essential characteristics of consciousness, such as intelligence, creativity, and dynamism, are properties normally associated with quantum mechanics properties which exist abundantly at finer scales.
Indeed, life derives its special qualities precisely because its roots go deep into the quantum-mechanical realm. The self-perpetuity of life and its ability to preserve order in an environment ruled by disorder is due to the quantum-mechanical nature of DNA, and its stability as a molecule. The abstract nature of the human mind is merely a reflection of the abstract nature of the universe itself at these fundamental scales. Any effort to understand consciousness, and account for its subtle and subjective properties, is destined to fail, unless that analysis itself is rooted in deeper, quantum-mechanical levels of nature.
Human Intelligence and Natures Intelligence
We have already noted how the material, outer structure of the body mirrors the material, outer structure of the universe; how the atomic, biological, and even astronomical worlds are inscribed in the very structure and function of the human physiology. As a consequence, one can imagine how, at least in principle, the subjective exploration of the human physiology could bring detailed knowledge of the laws of nature governing the material universe.
It is far more striking, however, and more crucial to our understanding of such subjective technologies, how the deeper structure of intelligence reflected in the human mind and consciousness precisely mirrors the deeper, quantum-mechanical levels of intelligence seen in nature. Scientists have long been amazed at how the logical structure of the mind, which takes its most concrete shape in the various mathematical formalisms and theories developed over the past several centuries, precisely mirrors the intelligence displayed throughout nature. These logical, mathematical structures, spawned by the human mind, seem to fit nature like a glove. Physicist Eugene Wigner, honored as the Father of the Atomic Age, marveled at what he called the unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics in the physical sciences. For Einstein, the eternal mystery of the universe is its comprehensibility by the mind.
This remarkable parallel between human intelligence and natures intelligence has become far more dramatic with the advent of the superstring, where physicists have pushed the frontier of scientific investigation to the very foundations of the physical universe. With the superstring, more than any previous physical theory, it appears as if every existing human mathematical construct plays a natural role in the description of the superstring and its rich and varied dynamics.
To fully appreciate the profound, structural correspondence between human intelligence and natures intelligence, and the feasibility of gaining precise and practical knowledge of natural law through the inner exploration of consciousness, some understanding of the latest discoveries of quantum mechanics and the most up-to-date knowledge of the mind is needed. A concise summary of these most relevant discoveries follows.
Recent Discoveries in Quantum Physics
The early, successful application of quantum mechanics to the atom inspired further efforts to apply quantum mechanics to the more energetic, relativistic world of the atomic nucleus. The success of such efforts hinged upon a highly nontrivial synthesis of quantum mechanics with Einsteins special relativity. The resulting relativistic quantum theory, known as Quantum Field Theory, quickly established itself as the most successful theoretical framework in the history of science. It provided the ability to compute, with apparently unlimited accuracy, the properties and behavior of atomic and subatomic systems. It also provided the mathematical and conceptual framework needed to probe time scales and distance scales far beyond the atomic nucleus. Armed with this successful theoretical framework, and with ever more powerful and sophisticated particle accelerators, scientists since the 1950s have dedicated themselves to probing natures deepest, most profound secrets.
As was mentioned briefly above, this systematic inward exploration has uncovered progressively more unified layers of natures functioning, culminating in the recent discovery of completely unified field theories. These theories identify a single, universal field of natures intelligence at the basis of all forms and phenomena in the universe.
The progressive unification of the four fundamental forces, which function separately at the nuclear scale (~1014 centimeters), begins with the weak and electromagnetic forces at a distance scale 100 times smaller than the atomic nucleus (10-16 centimeters). The profound, empirical success of this unified electro-weak theory inspired scientists to propose grand unified theories (GUTs) of the strong, weak, and electromagnetic forces. This proposed grand unification of forces occurs at a distance scale ten million-million times smaller (10-29 centimeters). Such GUTs, which still await definitive experimental confirmation, provide a highly compact and elegant description of the elementary particles and forces, and offer natural explanations for hitherto inexplicable features of the universe.
The construction of a truly unified field theory that incorporates gravity has proved more challenging, since the force of gravity is of a completely different type. Its particle states or quanta (known as gravitons) have spin-2 (in units of Plancks constant), while the conventional particle forces have spin-1. The unification of such disparate fields thus requires a powerful new unifying principle capable of uniting different spins. Such a profound symmetry, termed supersymmetry, was finally discovered in the 1970s.
Supersymmetry not only bridged the spin gap between the spin-2 graviton and the spin-1 forces, but it also set the stage for an even more dramatic unification. By combining particles of different spin, supersymmetry was, in principle, capable of linking hitherto irreconcilable categories of matter: force fields (particles with even-integer spin, or bosons, such as the four forces) and matter fields (particles with half-integer spin, or fermions, such as quarks and leptons). The discovery of supersymmetry thereby triggered a global search for a completely unified field theory of all the elementary forces and particles.
The Superstring Revolution
Although straightforward attempts to construct supersymmetric unified field theories failed, a more radical implementation of supersymmetry, known as the superstring, soon emerged. Whereas previous unified theories were all quantum field theories of elementary point-like particles, superstring theories involve quantization of one-dimensional closed loops or strings moving in 10 or 26 space-time dimensions. The requirements of quantum consistency impose mathematical constraints on such theories which are so severe that it is remarkable that a self-consistent string theory exists. Its discovery precipitated the recent firestorm of theoretical activity known as the superstring revolution.
The superstring provides not only the first quantum-mechanically consistent theory of gravity, but it incorporates within its unified structure the entire universe of elementary particles and forces. This powerful and elegant framework fulfills all the requirements for physics long-sought Theory of Everything, and Einsteins lifelong dream of a unified field a single, unified theoretical foundation for all the laws of nature. Within the framework of this theory, the elementary particles and forces which fill the universe are just vibrational states of the superstring. Indeed, the entire universe, with all its diverse and multiform properties (charge, spin, color, flavor, etc.), is just a cosmic symphony the vibrational states (fundamentals and overtones) of a single, underlying, universal, unified field of natures intelligence.
The picture that emerges is simple and striking. Within the manifest field of space and time, at distance scales larger than the Planck scale, the universe is described by a supersymmetric field theory of elementary particles, categorized by their spins. Beyond the Planck scale lies the purely abstract, unified dynamics of the superstring itself. While the details of the superstring and its precise mathematical formulation remain lively areas of research and debate, there is little dissension among theorists as the veracity of this overall picture.
Recent Developments in the Science of Consciousness
To proceed further with our investigation of technologies of consciousness, and the prospect of gaining direct experiential access to the laws of nature, we will need a similarly concise, up-to-date summary of the latest scientific knowledge of the mind and consciousness. Unfortunately, historically, no single comprehensive theory of consciousness comparable to the unified field theory of physics has been available. Indeed, psychologists have felt conceptually ill equipped to speculate about consciousness within the purely material framework and mechanistic models afforded by 19th century science.
Fortunately, rapid progress towards a foundational theory of consciousness has recently been made possible through the advent of new empirical, experiential procedures that isolate the simplest and most fundamental structures of consciousness. In the past, psychological research focused largely on the study of waking consciousness and its numerous pathologies. However, waking consciousness is a highly complex form of awareness which results from an excited state of the brain physiology. As a consequence, it has been difficult to construct a simple and coherent theory of consciousness based on the analysis of waking experience. This situation would be analogous in physics to developing the quantum theory through an analysis of complex macro-molecules in a high temperature environment. The solution in physics is to replace the complex macro-molecule with the hydrogen atom. Similarly, in psychology, the breakthroughs have come from investigating simpler, more fundamental structures of awareness.
The new experiential methodologies employed actually derive from the most ancient known science of consciousness the Vedic tradition of India. During the past 40 years, scientist and Vedic scholar, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, has revitalized this ancient science of consciousness together with the experiential methods that constitute its empirical basis. Today, the Transcendental Meditation technique is widely practiced throughout the world, with millions of subjects ranging in experience from several months to almost 40 years. During the past 30 years, over 600 scientific studies have been published on the physiological, psychological, and even sociological benefits of this practice. This extensive body of research, the widespread availability of subjects, and the highly systematic manner in which it is taught, have made this technique an ideal investigative tool for modern psychological research.
A Unified Field of Consciousness
Whereas waking consciousness represents a complex form of awareness corresponding to a complex state of neurophysiological functioning, the brain is also capable of sustaining simpler, more integrated states of functioning, which correspond subjectively to more silent and more unified states of awareness. According to direct experience, and to the Vedic science of consciousness from which meditation springs, human intelligence, like natures intelligence, is hierarchically structured in layers from gross to subtle, from excited to de-excited, from localized to unlocalized or field-like, and from diversified to unified.
While we are typically aware of only the more active, surface levels of the mind which are engaged in thought, perception, and action, experience reveals that every thought undergoes a vertical microgenesis from a least excited, holistic or seed form to a more precipitated and concretely articulated manifestation, where it is finally available to conscious awareness and participates in the process of experience and action.
In other words, the meditation experience reveals a vast realm of subtle levels of mind and cognitive processing that typically lies outside of conscious experience. These deeper levels of the mind are experienced as causally prior, intrinsically more dynamic, and progressively more abstract, comprehensive, and unified parallel to the more fundamental levels of intelligence found in nature.
Subjectively, these unified states of awareness arise when the mind systematically experiences, through a subjective technology, more abstract and fundamental stages in the development of a thought. As the mind thereby becomes less and less localized by the specific boundaries of a thought, awareness becomes correspondingly more expanded. When the faintest impulse of the thought or feeling is transcended in this manner, consciousness is left alone to experience itself. In this state of pure consciousness, the simplest, least excited state of human awareness, consciousness is experienced as a purely abstract and unbounded field.
The following is a typical account of this experience:
As I spontaneously became aware of more fundamental and abstract levels of the object of attention during meditation, the rigid boundaries of the object began to fade. As the object becomes more and more unlocalized and the focus of attention continues to spread, comprehension becomes more and more unbounded. When the faintest impulse of the object dissolves and there is no localized content to experience, my awareness is completely unbounded. I am left with the experience of a pure, abstract, universal field of consciousness, unlocalized by specific content or activity of the mind, just the Self wide awake within its own unbounded nature.
From a structural standpoint, ordinary waking consciousness is characterized by the three-fold structure of observer (i.e., the lively field of subjectivity itself), the process of observation (the mechanics of thought and perception), and the observed (the content, or object, of experience). Thus, in waking consciousness, there is always an object of perception, whether this is a gross object of sensory experience, a thought, or merely an abstract feeling. Although the object of perception provides the essential content of waking experience, both the observer and the process of observation are necessarily also present. At deeper levels of awareness, the object of perception is experienced as more intimate to the subject, i.e., the separation between the observer and the observed, which is the defining characteristic of waking consciousness, become less distinct. In the least excited state of consciousness, the three essential components of waking experience observer, the process of observation, and the observed are unified in one structure of pure, self-interacting consciousness.
This unified state of consciousness is marked by the onset of a unique constellation of physiological and neurophysiological changes indicating profound integration and coherence of brain functioning. Physiological research on this state began with the work in 1970 of R.K. Wallace, who found evidence from the electroencephelogram (EEG), skin resistance, and other metabolic indicators that a fourth state of consciousness might be occurring during the meditation practice. Numerous subsequent studies have confirmed that the integrated complex of physiological changes occurring spontaneously during the meditation practice is consistent with the existence of a fourth major state of consciousness. The prefix major is used to indicate that this state of consciousness appears to be as universally accessible and as natural as waking, dreaming, and deep sleep states of consciousness.
Modern medical research has traced the seat of pure consciousness to the brain stem. While the cortex and cerebellum are concerned with active cognitive processing and sensory-motor experience, the brain stem is responsible for consciousness the essential subjectivity of the mind, or self. Although not itself directly involved in the activities of thought and perception, such cognitive processes unfold under the brain stems silent authority and control. (It can shut off the gateways of experience, and can activate or deactivate neuronal activity responsible for various states of consciousness.) The brain stem thereby serves as a silent witness to all mental activity, which corresponds directly to the subjective experience of pure consciousness during meditation. The brain stem has thus been called the silent ruler of the mind and physiology.
The existence of an underlying, unified state of consciousness, and the availability of systematic experiential procedures to investigate this state, has been heralded by many researchers as a new empirical foundation for a unified psychological theory and the basis of a comprehensive science of consciousness
In addition, these widely available meditative practices provide a systematic, repeatable, scientific basis for the exploration of the deepest levels of the mind and consciousness, and thereby permit a detailed comparison of the structure of the human mind and the deepest structures of intelligence displayed in nature.
Human Intelligence and Natures Intelligence:
As it turns out, this correspondence is striking. As already noted, both human intelligence and natures intelligence possess a hierarchical structure. Both have, at their basis, a unified field of intelligence. And, as in nature, deeper levels of the mind are more powerful, holistic, comprehensive and unified. This qualitative correspondence has withstood close scientific scrutiny. The essential characteristics of the unified field, and the qualities that characterize the deepest levels of nature, can be systematically derived from the mathematical structure of these theories. These qualities, including orderliness, simplicity, creativity, dynamism, self-referral, and unboundedness, correspond precisely to the properties of human intelligence expressed at deeper levels of consciousness.
The most natural conclusion to be drawn from such a detailed quantitative and qualitative correspondence is that the unified field of pure, self-interacting consciousness and the unified field of modern theoretical physics are one and the same. In other words, the deepest level of human experience, pure consciousness, constitutes the direct, subjective experience of the unified field currently being explored by modern theoretical physics. This conclusion is both parsimonious and consistent with common sense: it is difficult to conceive of two distinct unified fields of natural law one at the basis of conscious experience, and one at the basis of everything else in the universe.
While it seems almost self-evident to the lay scientist that pure consciousness, the most fundamental aspect of human existence, and the unified field, the most fundamental aspect of everything else in nature, are identical, this identification is surprising even counterintuitive to many physicists. This is because many scientists regard consciousness as an epiphenomenon the macrcoscopic outcome of numerous microscopic electro-chemical processes in the brain. This particular view of consciousness would seem to preclude any fundamental relationship between consciousness and the unified field. However, this mechanistic view of consciousness, and the entire material paradigm on which it rests, is mainly a byproduct of three centuries of scientific investigation dedicated to the analysis of macroscopic, inert matter. It should be emphasized that, with regard to consciousness, this viewpoint has no foundation in knowledge and should not be formally associated with science. Within this limited framework, for example, there has been essentially no progress in the development of a consistent interpretation of the quantum theory in the last half century. Moreover, as we will see, this mechanistic view of consciousness is at odds with a growing body of data in the domains of individual and collective consciousness, and is also incompatible with the direct experiences of millions of individuals similar to those cited above.
Implications for Science
We conclude from this discussion that it is indeed possible to gain detailed knowledge of the laws of nature knowledge that extends to the deepest levels of natural law through the systematic exploration of human consciousness. The implications of such a technology are far-reaching for both science and society. There is a growing concern among scientists regarding the long-term empirical basis for fundamental physics due to severe financial and technological constraints on future particle accelerators. Already, theorists have had to rely increasingly upon their analytic and intuitive abilities as the principal focus of physics has shifted to the experimentally inaccessible domains of grand unification and superunification.
If there were a subjective means of gaining knowledge that was reliable (i.e., verifiable and consistent among scientists), this could compensate for a lack of useful accelerator data pertaining to the physics of fundamental scales. Specifically, if experiential technologies of consciousness provide direct conscious experience of more fundamental levels of natural law, they could provide a crucial means for developing physical intuition, and for gaining direct insight into the most fundamental aspects of natures dynamics. The profound success of the Vedic tradition of knowledge, with its detailed knowledge of the unified field and its highly developed technologies based upon that knowledge, bears testimony to the effectiveness of this experiential approach.
In education, it is of widespread concern that there is no commonsense, experiential basis for the understanding and teaching of modern science. In the past, the teaching of scientific principles has been based on laboratory experience gained with simple mechanical models and wave tanks. These concrete models no longer provide an adequate basis for understanding physics at the quantum-mechanical or quantum field-theoretic levels. If ones outer, sensory experience fails to provide a viable experiential basis for learning, then the only obvious alternative is the inner experience of consciousness.
Extensive scientific research on the use of such experiential methods in the classroom has shown striking improvements in the assimilation and retention of scientific concepts. Grade-point average improves markedly among both university and high-school students. In addition, as a neurophysiological side-benefit of the meditation itself, subjects show substantial gains in I.Q., creativity, learning ability, psychological development, and moral reasoning.
Implications for Society: Life in Accord with Natural Law
For our purposes, the most important long-term effect of these experiential procedures is life in accord with natural law. The intimate familiarity with the laws of nature which results from the direct experience of natural law in consciousness enables subjects to utilize natural law more skillfully to take natural advantage of the intricate and subtle laws of nature governing the mind and physiology. Indeed, according to Vedic science, the direct experience of the unified field of all the laws of nature in pure consciousness, and the resulting intimate familiarity with the total potential of natural law, brings the whole of thought and action spontaneously into full accord with all the laws of nature. As a result of this profound experience, the individual mind becomes deeply attuned to natural law, and the physiology and neurophysiology become integrated and balanced. According to Maharishi, thoughts and actions projected from this integrated state of neurophysiological functioning are fully in tune with natural law, and thus have maximally life-supporting influence on the mind, body, and surroundings. Indeed, there is no other single, compelling explanation for the universal, wide-ranging benefits observed in more than 600 scientific studies, conducted at over 200 independent universities and research institutions, on the physiological, psychological, and sociological effects of meditation.
(From a neurophysiological standpoint, this phenomenon of life spontaneously in accord with natural law results when the brain stem the chakravarti or seat of consciousness is fully awake: i.e., when the totality of natural law, which is the essential nature of pure consciousness, is fully enlivened in conscious awareness. Thereafter, even during normal thinking activity, which involves specific cognitive processing in the cortex and cerebellum, the holistic value of natural law, the unified field or pure consciousness, remains fully awake as a silent witness deep within the brain stem. Thoughts and actions projected from this state of complete inner wakefulness, while necessarily of a specific nature, remain profoundly connected to, and fully coordinated with, the totality of natural law i.e., to the universal intelligence, or cosmic administrator that governs the universe. Such thoughts and actions are fully in accord with natural law, and are thus of maximum evolutionary benefit to both the individual and society. )
Because pure consciousness is subjectively the most blissful and rewarding state of consciousness, and because it is the simplest form of human awareness, the awareness becomes established in this experience relatively quickly more quickly, in fact, than gaining comparable facility with the more fragmented levels of natural law corresponding to more active states of neurophysiological functioning.
It is fortunate, in a sense, that familiarity with the deepest level of natural law comes first, since it is the most important. We have already argued that the knowledge and experience of the unified field is, by itself, sufficient to achieve the goal of all knowledge: life spontaneously in accord with natural law. Life in accord with natural law is, as we have seen, life free of mistakes and problems, fully supported by the evolutionary power of natural law.
This developed state of mind and physiology, in which the total potential of natural law is fully lively, and where life is lived on a universal level, is traditionally known as enlightenment. While such experience has been relatively rare in recent history due to the widespread unavailability of the requisite experiential procedures, such enlightened experience is natural to the human brain. It is truly the birthright of every human being. Less integrated states of neurophysiological functioning are simply the result of an inadequate educational system, and constitutes a tragic waste of human potential.
Fortunately, the educational technologies necessary to unfold full human potential are simple, universal, non-religious, non-philosophical, time-tested, and backed by extensive scientific research. There is no reason in this scientific age not to take immediate and full advantage of these critical developmental technologies.
The incorporation of such developmental technologies would quickly address the primary failings of our current educational system. As discussed above, these are:
1) It does not develop the students innate mental potential;
2) It is unsatisfying it is not perceived as directly relevant to the students life, and can leave students with a sense of growing ignorance; and
3) The intellectual study of natural law does not guarantee life in accord with natural law, because (a) the laws of nature remain largely unknown, (b) the full ramifications of ones actions are incalculable, and (c) even endowed with full knowledge of the ramifications of ones actions, one can still feel compelled towards harmful behavior.
All of these shortcomings are addressed by the incorporation of the aforementioned experiential procedures:
1) The students innate potential is systematically unfolded. Longitudinal studies have found growth of I.Q., and other key parameters of mental performance, among high-school and university students, and even among adults at an age where I.Q. traditionally does not change;
2) The study of natural law becomes deeply satisfying and relevant to the student when the laws of nature are directly experienced as functioning within the students own mind and physiology. And students never feel overwhelmed by the sense of incomplete knowledge because they are experientially grounded in the wholeness of knowledge, the totality of natural law, within; and
3) As we have seen, as a result of these developmental technologies, life in accord with natural law is increasingly spontaneous. As one gains a growing familiarity with natural law within, one develops a natural sense of what is healthy for the body and useful for the mind and surroundings. Also, as the physiology and neurophysiology become integrated and balanced, the stress and deep dissatisfaction that can compel one knowingly towards harmful behavior is absent.
We can therefore conclude that the incorporation of such developmental technologies within our current educational system would fulfill the purpose of education envisioned by Americas founders: a self-governing nation where every citizen is endowed with the ability to conduct his or her life without problems, and with maximum freedom and ability to pursue their own happiness with the full support of all the laws of nature in their daily lives.
Furthermore, we have seen that this individual approach to bringing national life into accord with natural law through the full development of consciousness is easy, scientifically well-founded, and highly practical within the sphere of education. It offers any government leader a simple, practical solution to the myriad national problems born of the violation of both natural law and national law by the whole population, while bringing greatly enriched quality of life, growing enlightenment, and numerous other benefits to every citizen.