11/11/2014 01:07 pm ET Updated Jan 11, 2015

The Spookie Mind

In a recent plenary talk that I gave at the Science and Nonduality conference Oct. 23 - 26, in San Jose, California, I spoke of the Nonlocal, Entangled, Conscious Universe: From the Spookiness of Limited Mind to the Undivided Wholeness of Reality. It is obvious that the mind shapes the kind of reality we experience. This statement is generally taken for granted but not explored. Yet, a healthy living compels us to try to understand what the mind really does. Here are the general points developed:

Observation, Mind and Reality

Quantum mechanics brought in the role of observation in a primary way, and the participatory universe of John A. Wheeler is a natural consequence of measurement theory in the standard John von Neumann quantum view established more than 80 years ago. An important non-trivial aspect of quantum nonlocality, implied by entangled quantum states, has been demonstrated in numerous experiments. These works have confirmed the correctness of quantum mechanical predictions. Quantum theory in its foundations implies a primary role for the mind and interactions of observers with objects under observation. Whatever is meant by the word reality, mind and observation seem to be tied to the quantum world. Since quanta form the physical universe, we cannot anymore take the mind as separate from the objects it is examining.

Conscious Experience

Yet, despite these profound experimental results confirming quantum physics, today's scientific assumptions, and they are just assumptions, assign mental activity to physical process and seek explanations with no obvious role for the observer or agency implied by quantum physics. Although advancing our knowledge of correlates of conscious experience and yielding great medical advances, brain science cannot tell much about conscious experience in itself and the mind in specific. Quantum biology must surely play a role.

Spookie Mind

The main issue is not why our universe is nonlocal and entangled but rather how it appears as being made of distinct, physical objects. We have a fundamental issue to account for, not the spookie actions at a distance that worried Einstein so much, but how what I call the "spookie mind" takes on limited characteristics, divides the infinite and in the end creates a limited, divided, physicalist view of a Reality which is none of the above. What is proposed here is that the mind creates a veiling of undivided wholeness. New developments in mathematics that shed light on the observer-observed relationships should be developed to advance this view.

A Vision for the Future

As such, the emerging view proposed here is that entanglement, nonlocality and coherent structures are all manifestations of the universe which is basically living and conscious. Consciousness manifesting as awareness, of objects and the observing agent, is primary, rather than derived through blind processes as current materialist approaches claim. Entanglement is not a peculiarity of quantum mechanical phenomena at microscopic scales. It is instead the natural feature of the primacy of consciousness, operating through three fundamental principles of complementarity; creative interactivity and sentience; and recursion. Advances in quantum mechanics, quantum-like processes in biology and cognition and the working of the fundamental principles of consciousness will form the cornerstones of the emergence of Observer-based Science, distinguishing it, but complementary to, current Object-based Science. This is what I claim. Several of us, including Deepak Chopra, Subhash Kak, Neil Theise, Rudolph Tanzi , Attila Grandpierre, Jay Kumar and others, are developing the overall framework and specific results.

Relevance for You and Me

Are these issues yet another set of intellectual arguments that scientists, philosophers and academics make? They are very relevant to your life and your healthy living: We seem to be bound by our minds, often giving us no peace. Yet, if what we view as reality is really the product of the mind, then we can approach our mind as a tool, as a friendly tool, get it on "our side," so to speak. Not only will science emerge and advance to new heights, a true synthesis between our fragmented views will emerge, which will affect society at all levels. This is the meaning of "Embrace Change, Enable Dialogue" which we saw in previous blogs. Dialogue between science and humanities, dialogue between mind and nature. These will be the agents for true change. And such changes we should embrace, because change is the very nature of life, our life. And healthy living. This is sorely needed for human wellness and life well-being. It is the new but also ancient vision of embracing change while we carry dialogue in respect for each other and all of us, what we should pass on to the next generations.

Menas C. Kafatos, is the Fletcher Jones Endowed Professor of Computational Physics, at Chapman University. He is a quantum physicist, cosmologist, and climate change researcher and works extensively on consciousness. His doctoral thesis advisor was the famous M.I.T. professor Philip Morrison who studied under J. Robert Oppenheimer. He has authored about 300 articles, is author or editor of 14 books, including "The Conscious Universe" (Springer) with Robert Nadeau, and is co-author with Deepak Chopra of the forthcoming book, "Who Made God and Other Cosmic Riddles" (Harmony).

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