Spiritual teacher A.H. Almaas facilitates a discussion between five scientists on the nature of consciousness. It’s a laugh a minute in this….. no, just kidding. Not amusing but truly fascinating, especially if you’ve recently had your entire worldview tossed into the rubbish bin, so I recommend doing that first.
I didn’t about know of any of these folks prior to this video but was immediately impressed by both their smarts and diverse backgrounds – neuroscience, cognitive science, medicine, physics. I was so encouraged to learn that the nature of consciousness is the focus of many people in many areas (whew, it’s not just me!).
The awakening raises questions of ‘self’. What am I in relation to this body? If my body isn’t generating my consciousness, then what is my body for? Did my consciousness leave my body or is my body made of consciousness? Listening to this discussion helped me understand I would have a few options to pick from when looking for models to explain the nature of consciousness … Good news?
“A monk spends his whole life cultivating the same awakened attitude it [MDMA] gives you.” –Brother David Steindl-Rast to Newsweek, 1985
I’ve heard a few people who lived through the psychedelic revolution of the 1960s lament that the strong public and government backlashes that followed lost us the chance to follow-up on the promising results coming from the clinical trials of the time. Yet clearly these seeds were sown as another movement to bring psychedelics back into mainstream medical use is well underway today. Case in point, the work of Rick Doblin, who founded MAPS (Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies) in 1986, a group making great strides with a new series of clinical trials involving psychedelics. In this presentation, Rick explains why earlier psychedelic research is prompting people to take another look at these substances for various applications. Rick goes on to update the audience on the MDMA treatment programs the MAPS group is developing. It’s hopeful stuff!
If I have learned one thing from all this reading and watching and pondering about consciousness, it’s the importance of maintaining the long, wide historical view. Our sense of separation from everything around us can limit our worldview to just what’s within our personal horizons and it’s only the long view that allows us to see the larger patterns in human evolution and behavior, patterns which can teach us important lessons. And it is these patterns that Elisabet argues point to a single universal consciousness.
Recently, the Gates Foundation got involved with history education in a big way by funding The Big History Project, an effort to come up with ‘a story of the universe’ that could be taught in all schools. During her talk, Elisabet examines the limited model underlying The Big History Project and proposes an alternative approach that includes creation stories from many cultures; she includes several interesting examples from various traditions. I found Dr. Sahtouris’ broad expertise allowed her to make a persuasive case that a multi-cultural understanding of our shared history would better serve us all.
As both a quantum physicist and a professor at Maharishi University of Management, Dr. Hagelin is in a unique position to speak to the connections between the math of quantum physics and the ‘One Mind’ spiritual concepts of eastern traditions. As he says at one point, some use yoga to reach a state of nirvana, others use complex mathematical concepts to perceive the mystical states of infinity (the audience thought he was joking).
Dr. Hagelin then goes on to explain a couple of these complex mathematical concepts … I think I may have blanked out for a few. Actually, though they are pretty brain-bendy, all of John’s explanations are straightforward and clear – or as clear as they can be, considering the material. His model of entangled particles and their relation to string theory was well-illustrated and I was able to conceptualize the basic aspects of his theory. Which is why I included this video particularly; evidence of quantum entanglement is thought by many to demonstrate the presence of a ‘field’ of consciousness/potential so having a basic understanding of this “spooky action at a distance”, as Einstein called it, can be helpful when wading into the science of non-duality.
As a cognitive scientist, Dr. Hoffman is able to use what many think of as ‘optical illusions’ to very convincingly demonstrate how our brains are manipulating ‘the data’. It’s fascinating stuff – you can hear the audience getting caught up in the weirdness of his examples.
As with all the videos in this group, this presentation introduces concepts that I would hear about over and over as I continued exploring the field of consciousness science; having an understanding at the outset of the models Dr. Hoffman covers was very helpful.
Dr. Hoffman has been doing extensive work to develop a ‘mathematics of consciousness’ and he spends the second half of the video explaining the structure of this model.
From Eckhart Tolle to Terence McKenna, I’ve heard one teacher after another introduce the idea that large events in the future create ripples in the fabric of our shared reality or consciousness. These ripples move back through the time stream and are perceived by us in the present moment; we call it a sense of intuition, foreboding, a gut sense. Dr. Mossbridge has been investigating this phenomenon and in this lecture, shares the data and conclusions from experiments done recently which seem to demonstrate ‘rippling’ effect.
Perhaps the thing I most appreciated about Julia’s presentation was her underlying sense of …. wonder? …. that appears to come from a realization that science is leading us back to the same truths understood by non-dual spiritual traditions for centuries. I have come across a number of such videos and I’ll be sure share more; the sense of awe and amazement coming from these scientists as they recount their realizations is contagious!
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