Inner Cosmos from Chris Thomson 3719
Chris Thomson 3719 - his September 2019 three-part series of articles:
Part One - This introduction to the “inner cosmos”.
Part Two - I describe the inner cosmos itself (Sept 18).
Part Three - I give you some advice on how to access your own inner cosmos and make the best of it (Sept 25).
Inner Cosmos ... A New Story
The story I am about to tell you is not all that new. It has been emerging for quite a long time, at least since the 1920s, when quantum physics arrived on the scene. Although some parts of the story are already established in some circles, it has still not entered the consciousness of the general public, and it is actively rejected by academia and mainstream media. It is rejected because it contradicts the “science story” – the account given by science of the nature and history of the universe and the human being. Although you may have never heard the science story in its entirety, some of it will be familiar to you. If we want to know what the new story is, there is probably no better place to start than the science story. What follows does not claim to be comprehensive, but I believe that I have captured the essentials. I should add that, although this is this is still the prevailing view in science, many individual scientists are warming to the new story.
The Science Story
The universe began from nothing. To be fair, science tells us that it was not exactly nothing. It was a “singularity”, which existed before space time. In other words, it had no dimensions. Difficult to imagine? Yes. And difficult believe that the immense universe, including this planet with its myriad forms of life, came effectively from nothing? Sure. But let’s get on with the story.
The “laws of nature”, such as the laws of physics and chemistry, all came into existence in the first few nanoseconds of the life of the universe. This is what many scientists seem to agree on. Clearly, this begs some big questions. For example, how do scientists know this? And how did it happen? How is it possible for a large set of complex principles, which did not exist a nanosecond earlier, suddenly to come into being? Although I can just about stretch my mind to imagine a singularity, I have to say that this part of the science story takes us into the realms of fantasy. This is by no means to suggest that I know how or when the laws of nature came into being, but I am reasonably sure that it did not happen this way.
The universe has no intrinsic meaning. This is because it began for no apparent reason. If this is true, then we have to wonder why it bothered coming into existence at all. In any event, presumably this absence of meaning applies to us too, because we are surely products of the universe.
Science also wants us to believe that the universe contains disorder, chance and randomness. They tell us that some things happen by chance – such as the appearance of life on this planet - and that some things lack order. The significance of this part of the science story is the claim that disorder and chance are inherent characteristics of the universe. This means that some things can never be explained. They just happen! And they happen for no reason!
Everything is physical. According to science, the whole universe is physical, and everything in it, including us. This means that we are nothing more than our bodies. This in turn implies that we do not exist before conception or after the death of our bodies. It also means that anything that, at first, appears not to be physical – such as consciousness – will eventually be shown to be physical in nature. It should be self-evident, but perhaps it needs to be stated that scientists believe everything is physical because they use only the physical mode of perception to explore the world and the human being. In other words, they rely only on their five physical senses, and on extensions to these senses, such as telescopes and microscopes. When we think about it, we realise that all scientific instruments are, ultimately, extensions to one or more of our five senses. If scientists used other, “non-physical” modes of perception to explore the world, the world would respond accordingly, by appearing to non-physical. The next part of the science story follows naturally from this part.
Matter is primary, and consciousness is secondary. Consciousness is believed a product of matter. Scientists say that consciousness is an “epiphenomenon of the brain”. This, too, has far-reaching implications, such as the belief that consciousness can exist only within the brain. As we shall see shortly, there is a lot of compelling evidence that consciousness can exist well beyond the brain.
Science’s emphasis on the physical and the material leads it to believe that the world and the human being can best be understood as “mechanisms”. This suggests that, if you really want to understand something, you take it apart, and see how its parts fit together and interact with each other – just like a machine. This “mechanistic worldview” is very evident in medicine and pharmacology.
Science’s focus on mechanisms and parts takes us to the next chapter of its story – that the primary reality is to be found at the level of the very small, at the level of particles, waves and quanta. From this, it is a short step to the belief that causality is upwards. “Primary causes” take place at the sub-atomic level. Everything else is secondary, a consequence of primary causes.
Science believes that things are basically separate from each other, and connected only by physical forces, such as gravity and electromagnetism. This belief persists, despite long-standing evidence of “quantum entanglement” and “non-locality”, which strongly suggest that things are anything but separate. It is this belief, that things are basically separate, that causes many scientists to reject phenomena that suggest the opposite, such as “paranormal” experiences. More on this shortly.
In the science story, human evolution happened more or less as Darwin described it. I might agree with this, if we were talking only about the evolution of our physical body. For scientists, however, this is all we are, our physical body. In the new story, we are much more than that. If we really are much more than our bodies, this puts the whole of evolutionary biology into question.
Finally, and although this is not a formal part of the science story, we are told that, while some religious and spiritual traditions can offer useful moral guidance, they cannot give us facts. Only science can give us facts! Yet, when we stop to think about it, we realise that most of the facts in our own lives come not from science. They come from our personal experience. The new story differs from the science story in many respects. Most importantly, it places our personal experience right at the heart of the story.
Many scientists, and many people in general, think that the science story is a set of facts. This is very evident when you hear Richard Dawkins speaking. I have seen him tell people that the facts of evolution are settled, and beyond argument. Hardly a basis for good dialogue and exploration! The reality is that the science story is not beyond argument. This is because it is a set of beliefs. While it is true that some of these beliefs are based on careful observations and complex calculations, they are still beliefs. This is because science is always provisional. Its “facts” are not set in stone. They are not eternal truths. All of them are subject to change. The point to note is that the science story is believed to be true. This is significant, because it means that, as a set of beliefs, the science story is a worldview. It is a worldview that profoundly influences all aspects of our lives.
It influences our lives more than you might imagine. This is because a worldview tells us what is true and what is possible. The untrue and the impossible is very unlikely to be taught in our schools and our universities! But it goes much wider than this. The science story is at the root of our values – what we believe to be important – and therefore our behaviour. It follows that if we change our worldview, then everything else changes. This is why the new story so important. It is because, if and when it eventually prevails, it will change our core beliefs, our values and our behaviour. Few will deny that the planet is crying out for us to change.
The New Story
In many ways, the new story is the opposite of the science story. The science story begins “out there” and works inwards, whereas the new story begins “in here” and works outwards. The new story begins not with the origins of the universe, but with the nature of human experience. Let us begin with a quote from John Eccles.
Sir John Eccles was an Australian neurophysiologist, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1963. He made some memorable observations. Particularly relevant to our discussion is this one:
“I want you to realise that there exists no colour in the natural world, and no sound – nothing of this kind, no textures, no patterns, no beauty, no scent.”
What Sir John meant by this is that all these qualities, such as colour and sound, are experiences. They are not things “out there”. They are things “in here”. It is how we experience the natural world. It is our reality. This is significant because it contradicts a central claim of science, that reality is “out there”, and independent of us. While it is true that things happen out there, independently of us, our understanding of what these happenings are depends wholly on our experience. The world, as we understand it, is the world seen through our eyes, viewed through our mindsets, and seen from our viewpoint. It is we who are the determinants of what reality is for us. “Reality” for us can only ever be “human reality”.
This is significant, because it means that our knowledge and understanding depends more on the quality of our experiences, rather than the quantity. To express this another way, the more conscious we are, the more likely it is that we will know, and understand the “truth” about the world and ourselves.
The new story is not primarily concerned with the origins of the universe and the laws of nature. It is mainly concerned with who we are and what our relationship with the Cosmos is. It focuses on our human experience, and how we interact with the world around us. Its starting point is not “What is the Universe?”, but rather “What is a human being?”
The short answer to this question is: a human being is how we experience ourselves. Please bear with me, because this needs a little explanation. Science tells us that the human being is a higher animal, wholly physical, which evolved over millions of years, in the process of evolution. Science also tells us that all human experience is the consequence of physical processes in the body, mainly the brain. While some parts of this are evidently true, the new story prefers to explore the experiences themselves. What does it mean, for example, to “know” something or someone? How do we “understand” some things? What is the experience of “love”? Why do we have additional senses that tell us things that no one has taught us? And why can some people have “altered states of consciousness” that are not induced by drugs? Science rarely, if ever, asks these questions.
If it were asked, science would probably say that, in each of these cases, the answer is to be found in physiological and neurological processes that take place in the brain and in other parts of the nervous system. Just to be clear, the new story agrees with part of this. Yes, there are physical mechanisms involved, and science is very good at exploring and describing these. But mechanisms are not experiences. Mechanisms are the vehicles for experience. There is a world of difference between the two. A good analogy is a car and its driver. The car is the vehicle that gets us there, but it is we who make the decisions, and it is we who experience the journey. The car experiences nothing. Science tells us that the human being is the car. The new story tells us that a human being is the driver.
In the new story, a human being is one and the same as the totality of his or her experiences, past, present and future. It is worth stopping to think about this, because it is central to the new story. While it is true that there are many processes going on in the body that we seem unaware of, we are more conscious of them than you might imagine. First, there are the obvious experiences, such as hot and cold, pain, thirst, and tiredness. We are very conscious of these, because they often come in the form of extremes. Then there are slightly less obvious ones, because they happen slowly, such as the fact that advancing years cause our sight to fade and our joints to stiffen. But it does not stop there. We do not need a medical specialist to tell us that some part or process in our body is not functioning well. We know when we are ill. And I have not even begun to talk about our perceptual experiences – seeing, hearing, touching and so on. When you add together all these different forms of experience, it is a very wide range. Experience never stops. We are constantly experiencing, even when we are asleep. We really are our experiences. It is with this sentence that the new story begins. And although there are quite a few stages to go through, the new story does eventually get to the Cosmos!
Unlike the science story, which asks “What is Consciousness?”, and then ties itself in knots by trying to prove that consciousness is physical, the new story asks, “What does consciousness tell us?” The fact is that it tells us everything we know, including everything scientists believe that they know. Although scientists struggle to explain consciousness, because they want to put it into a box labelled “physical”, they would admit that there would be no science story at all if there were no consciousness.
Consciousness can be defined in many ways. I prefer to think of it as “all of our experience”. Now, if it is true that we human beings are one and the same as our experience, then it surely follows that we are consciousness itself. As you may be aware, mystics and sages have been telling us this for a very long time. But perhaps you did not understand exactly what they meant. I hope that this is a little clearer now.
Turning now to the next part of the new story, some of our experiences suggest that some parts of the science story are at best inadequate, but probably just wrong. For example, when we have an intuition or, more specifically, a telepathic experience, this is something that science, with its emphasis on separateness and physical mechanisms, cannot explain. And because these experiences threaten the science story, they are usually ignored or explained away as “coincidence”. The truth is that this kind of experience is widespread. A lot of us have them. Collectively, they are called “paranormal”, for the good reason that they are not considered normal. While it is true that they are not normal, in the sense that they are not accepted by science or mainstream society, they are real. They do happen, and there is a lot of compelling evidence for this. An excellent source is Dean Radin, who has written several books on the subject, such as The Conscious Universe, and Entangled Minds, and Real Magic. Once you read his books, you will be in no doubt that paranormal experiences happen, and that they happen to a lot of people.
One of these experiences is the “near death experience”. This is widespread, and well documented. It nearly always takes more or less the same form, which is that your consciousness is away from your body. Typically, you are looking down at your body, while surgeons are operating on it. Afterwards, you are able to tell the surgeons what happened, even though you were under general anaesthetic at the time, and therefore technically unconscious. I cannot think of better evidence that consciousness can exist away from the brain and the body.
This changes everything. If paranormal experiences and phenomena are real and relatively common, then the foundations of the science story look very shaky indeed. Let me try to explain why.
The paranormal can usefully be summarised as “connections without any cause known to science”. They can be connections of knowing, or connections of doing. For example, you can know something at a distance, as in telepathy, even when there is no physical connection. Or you can do something at a distance, without any known physical cause. Distance in space or in time is not a limiting factor. It is well-documented that some people can know things well before they happen. They “see” into the future. There are others who can “see” into the distant past. Although we have no idea how this happens, we can be sure that it does happen.
Fascinating as the paranormal is, I do not want to dwell on it. The only point I want to make in the context of this discussion is that there are phenomena and experiences that not only fall outside the science story, they strongly contradict it. They suggest that consciousness can be independent of matter, and may even precede it. This “independence of consciousness” has some very far-reaching implications, which form an important part of the new story. Here is a summary of them.
First, insofar as consciousness can be independent of matter, it can be considered “non-physical”. This suggests that the universe may be non-physical and physical at the same time. We will explore this in Part Two.
Second, not only may the universe consist of non-physicality/consciousness, it may itself be conscious. This alone has profound implications.
Third, there may be “laws of consciousness”, which are the non-physical equivalents of the “laws of nature”. We may not know what these are, but we should be trying to find out.
Fourth, science is very good at exploring and explaining the physical aspects of the universe and of the human being. It is not good at exploring their non-physical aspects. Indeed, science does not acknowledge that non-physical aspects exist. This leaves huge gaps in our knowledge and understanding of who we are and what the universe is. We should be looking for ways to explore the non-physical aspects of the world and the human being, to fill some of these gaps.
Fifth, related to this, science is very good at exploring and explaining “vehicles”, such as the human body. It even created a “vehicle” in Scotland in 1996 – Dolly the sheep! But science is not good at exploring and explaining “drivers”, such as the experience of human beings.
Sixth, the paranormal suggests a web of non-physical connectedness. That web could turn out to be one and the same as the whole universe. Although quantum physics has made some tentative steps in this direction, we still have a long way to go in our exploration of what the universe-as-connectedness implies for us and our lives.
So far, I have just given you the headlines of the new story. There are several possible ways of telling the story in more detail. The route I like is called “the inner cosmos”. As I begin to tell it, in the next article, the new story will become a little clearer.
Chris Thomson was a lawyer and economist in Scotland until the mid-80s, when he was asked to chair the Natural Medicines Commission in the UK. He then trained as a psychotherapist in London, before joining the Scottish Council Foundation, a think-tank in Edinburgh, set up in anticipation of devolution. From there he moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he advised multinational corporations on various moral issues.
As well as passable Spanish and French, Chris speaks Chinese.
He now lives in the Catalan Pyrenees, where is a keen mountaineer. The ski slopes are only 20 minutes away!
Chris published Full Spectrum Intelligence in 2014. He is now writing The Inner Cosmos, and Intelligent Simplicity
YouTube or https://www.youtube.com/user/Vaguehighlander
TU Chris ... Onward ...
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