Love, Death & the Meaning of Life

Amit Goswami Writes ‘The Everything Answer Book’ on Quantum Science

Almost 100 years have passed since the complete mathematical formulation of quantum physics. It has been verified by myriad experiments and its concepts have been successfully applied in many technologies. Indeed, we have begun to use the word “quantum” in our daily discourse—often without fully understanding its deeper meaning. And yet, despite its effective integration into our society, the quantum worldview has still not been fully accepted by the scientific community, which continues to espouse and defend the archaic Newtonian worldview. Consequently, the full implications of the quantum worldview have not yet penetrated the public mind. The good news is that, in the 1990s, thanks to the efforts of an avant-garde group of renegade scientists including myself, the quantum worldview began to mature and gave birth to an all- inclusive new scientific paradigm. A grassroots movement known as “quantum activism” has begun to dislodge the stranglehold of Newtonian physics on the scientific establishment by appealing directly to people.

Part of the mischief derives from circumstances. The prevailing Newtonian paradigm was always fraught with paradoxes. Officially known as scientific materialism, this worldview proposed that everything exists merely as a phenomenon of matter—material movement in space and time, caused by material interaction. The paradoxes implicit in this view were never resolved. It wasn’t until the 1980s and 1990s that scientific materialism came under serious scrutiny by the scientific community, prompted by new experimental data. Previously, the worldview of scientific materialism was much aided by the shift of physics away from a philosophy-oriented European approach to the more pragmatic American approach that followed World War II. Before the 1950s, scientific materialism was firmly entrenched only in the disciplines of physics and chemistry—the science of inanimate objects. After the 1950s, it also began to dominate biology (which became chemistry), the health sciences (which became almost “mechanical”), and eventually psychology (which became cognitive neuroscience).

The second party to the mischief was the inadvertent enthusiasm of well-meaning scientists to close off the debate surrounding the meaning of quantum physics as quickly as possible. So, a compromise—dubbed famously (or should I say, infamously) the Copenhagen Interpretation—was reached. This interpretation was pioneered by the famous and amicable Niels Bohr, whom every physicist (including myself) worshipped.

The centerpiece of the Copenhagen Interpretation is called the “complementarity principle,” which, in its popularized form, is simply wrong, both theoretically and experimentally. Quantum mathematics says unequivocally that quantum objects are waves. But of course, experiments say that they are also particles. How can the same object be both a wave—something that spreads out—and a particle—something that travels in a defined trajectory? The popular form of the complementarity principle resolves this wave- particle paradox by claiming that quantum objects are both waves and particles. The wave aspect is revealed in wave-measuring experiments; the particle aspect is revealed in particle-measuring experiments. But both aspects never show up in the same experiment and are thus called complementary.

However, the correct answer to the paradox of wave-particle duality—both theoretically and experimentally—is this: Quantum objects are waves of possibility residing in a domain of reality outside of space and time called the domain of potentiality. Whenever we measure these objects, they reveal themselves as particles in space and time. So both the wave and the particle aspects of an object can, in fact, be detected in a single experiment. Unfortunately, the popularized version of the complementarity principle, which created the impression that the wave and particle aspects of an object both exist in space and time, misled an entire generation or two of physicists and caused them to close their minds to the really radical elements of quantum physics. In fact, quantum physics insists on a two-level reality, not the single space-time reality of Newtonian physics and scientific materialism. Moreover, quantum physics cannot possibly be made paradox-free without explicitly invoking consciousness.

But of course, it was the role of consciousness that kept the paradox alive—not in the mainstream but in a cultish sort of way. In the 1980s, an experiment by Alain Aspect and his collaborators resolved the issue of a dual versus a single domain of reality by discerning the domain of potentiality from the domain of space and time. In the former, no signal is needed for communication; everything is instantaneously interconnected. By contrast, in space and time, signals, always moving with a speed no greater than the speed of light, mediate communication, which always occurs in finite time.

What does it mean to say that the domain of potentiality is all instantaneously interconnected? Simply this: Everything in the domain of potentiality is one entity. In a scientific paper published in 1989, and again in 1993 in The Self-Aware Universe, I arrived at the paradox-resolving proposition that the domain of potentiality is our consciousness—not in the form of ordinary ego-consciousness but as a higher consciousness in which we are all one. In manifest awareness, we become separate partly due to the necessity of distinction from other objects (the subject-object distinction) and partly due to our individual conditioning. I also proposed that this higher One consciousness is causally empowered by downward causation—the capacity to choose among the many facets of a wave of possibility. It is conscious choice that transforms waves of possibility into particles of actuality.

Philosopher and scientist Willis Harman, at the time president of the Institute of Noetic Science (IONS), was very supportive of my work. He invited me to write a monograph on my research. The new research soon created a new science—“science within consciousness,” a term I later discovered was already in vogue thanks to Harman. A monograph by the same name was published by IONS in 1994.

Progress in the field came rapidly and was always accompanied by strange coincidences of Jungian synchronicity. First, an old woman called me on a radio talk show with the question: What happens when we die? I didn’t know how to answer her without resorting to cultural clichés, so I kept quiet. Then a Theosophist—a believer in reincarnation—took a course from me based on my book but ended up mostly talking about reincarnation. Soon after, I had a dream in which I woke up remembering this admonition: The Tibetan Book of the Dead is correct; it’s your job to prove it. Finally, a graduate student of philosophy called me and asked me to help her mourn and overcome the impact of her boyfriend’s death. It was while conversing with her and trying to theorize about what survives us in death that I began to see the possibility of a science of all our experiences—material sensing (sensation), vital feeling (energy), mental thinking (meaning), and supramental intuitions (archetypes like love and truth). From this, I developed a theory of survival after death and reincarnation. Soon after, I got a call from author and editor Frank de Marco asking me to write a book on my newest research. This appeared in 2001 under the title Physics of the Soul.

Biophysicist Beverly Rubik called me in 1998 and asked me to contribute an article on my research to an anthology she was compiling. In 1999, I joined a group of thirty new-paradigm thinkers at a conference with the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, India. This conference turned fractious. First, physicist Fred Alan Wolf and I had a verbal battle over whose approach to the new paradigm was correct. Others joined in; the organizers complained to the Dalai Lama. He simply laughed and said: “Scientists will be scientists.” After peace was established, the Dalai Lama asked us to apply our new paradigm to social issues. This caught my attention. When I returned to the United States, I wrote the article Beverly Rubik had requested, applying quantum physics to health and healing. Here, I developed a theory of what Deepak Chopra called “quantum healing”—spontaneous healing without medical intervention.

Around the same time, I visited Brazil, where a young man asked me if I knew Deepak Chopra. When I said I did not, he said, “I can correct that.” Soon after, I got an invitation to visit Deepak in San Diego. He had just published his book Perfect Health (2000), which discussed Ayurveda, an alternative healing system from India. He gave me a copy and asked me to read it.

As a result, I ended up proving the scientific validity of an idea that physicians of alternative medicine have been using for millennia. Since we are more than our physical bodies, diseases in our “subtle” bodies can also be responsible for physical disease, especially chronic disease. And thus healing can be approached, not only through curing physical symptoms, but also through healing disease at its subtler source.

Practitioners of the health sciences, physical and mental, deal with actual human beings. Thus they do not always give their enthusiastic approval to the allopathic model of medicine—the more “mechanical” model that grew out of scientific materialism. When I wrote The Quantum Doctor (2004), which dealt with integrating conventional “mechanical” medicine and more human alternative medicines, the quantum worldview began to get some traction among alternative medicine practitioners and even among some avant-garde allopaths. Deepak was so enthusiastic about the book that he wrote the foreword to a later edition.

Medicine is based on biology. To relax the stranglehold of scientific materialism on medicine, we must introduce consciousness into biology. I began that work in the 1990s and, in 2008, proposed a consciousness-based scientific theory of evolution in my book, Creative Evolution. This theory explains the fossil gaps and the biological “arrow of time” required for evolution to move from simplicity to complexity—two important pieces of data that Darwinism and its offshoots cannot explain. In Creative Evolution, I also integrated ideas of Sri Aurobindo and Teilhard de Chardin about the future of humanity into a scientific approach. I drew on ideas developed by Rupert Sheldrake about morphogenetic fields (blueprints for biological form- making), bringing them under the umbrella of science within consciousness.

The biology establishment, however, has been very resistant to the influence of quantum physics, although—thanks to the empirical work on epigenetics and popular books by biologists Bruce Lipton, Mae Wan Ho, and others—quantum biology is gradually gaining ground.

In 2009, I set out to accelerate this paradigm shift by founding a movement called “quantum activism.” My goal was to popularize the quantum worldview by bringing together a group of people dedicated to transforming themselves and their societies through practicing quantum principles. This has gained some attention, not only in America, but also in Brazil, Europe, India, and Japan, and even in the Middle East. In 2014, I went to Japan for an extensive dialog on the quantum worldview and quantum activism with erudite Japanese businessman and philosopher Masumi Hori. My new book leans heavily on those dialogs. To this, I have added other interviews, notably one with author Eva Herr.

The result is a sort of Quantum Physics 101 for nonscientists. It contains elements from all of my previous work and I hope it will inspire you to become a quantum activist. I hope to convince you that consciousness research and an understanding of the quantum worldview is the future of science. It is the foundation of a new paradigm that can lead us to the answer to everything.


Amit Goswami, Ph.D., Theoretical Nuclear Physicist, and member of the University of Oregon’s Institute of Theoretical Science, is best known for his appearance as one of the featured scientists in the 2004 film, What the Bleep Do We Know!? The above is an introduction to his book: The Everything Answer Book—How Quantum Science Explains Love, Death and the Meaning of Life, to be published in April 2017, by Hampton Roads.

By Amit Goswami, Ph.D.