Mind Before Matter:
Visions of a New Science of Consciousness
Edited by Trish Pfeiffer and John E. Mack, M.D.
Summary by Don Carroll
This an anthology of essays by nineteen authors grouped into four facets identified as Science, Philosophy, PSI and Communion. The overall focus is that consciousness is the prime foundation of reality. That everything that exists is alive, conscious, and aware. Posited is that consciousness, not matter is the primary building block of ultimate reality. The dialogues are to assist in changing the mistaken societal paradigm of a materialist non-living universe world view into knowing and mutually participating in an actual universe of organic interconnected conscious at all levels.
Until recently such dialogues would have been circular debates ending in opposite belief system stalemates, each arguing the lack of evidence of the other, both based on a core of their own faith. It is the evolvement of science, specifically, Quantum Physics that has aided opening the door wider to this discussion bridging science and spirituality. This Quantum mechanic science which is discovering that the universe shows evidence of sentience, self organization, and being found to be non-local, that it exists every where in the eternal now. The knowledge base plumbed is from the observable phenomenon, experiential, subjective and intuitive knowing. The chasm that had been opened between scientific materialism and universal consciousness; a dead mechanical universe versus a living holistic universe, is being closed.
Facet I: Science
The section discusses the change in thinking that began approximately four hundred years ago with the physics of Newton and philosophy of Descartes. They began the movement away from earlier beliefs of a God/consciousness infused in nature, with the intimacy of a whisper in humankind’s ear, towards a silent mechanical universe. A dead universe composed of separate parts of inert physical components that could be understood and controlled by mathematical formulas. This new thinking was labeled positivist reductionism. Even when a concept of God was included, it was at best a universe based on a concept of Deism. Deism; that God created the universe like a great mechanical clock, He then wound it up and left the neighborhood, not to be involved.
That was the macrocosmic view. The microcosmic views of consciousness in the individual self was the argument of epiphenomena versus hypophenomena. Epiphenomenon being that consciousness is merely a byproduct of the biochemical reactions and neurons of the physical brain. The hypophenomena view had that the brain physicality was actually derived from primary consciousness first; the minority opinion of the time.
It can be seen from modern history that the materialistic dead universe and accidental byproducts of biochemistry model from science had dominated over these centuries. The concept of an inadvertent random universe with a byproduct from matter called consciousness had taken over as first chair. Positivist reductionism seemed to rule the cosmos. Science was not the culprit alone; religions had allowed power to corrupt themselves going beyond belief systems to creating institutions ruled rather by man-made dogma that severely persecuted scientific researchers whose discoveries challenged not God, but the churches. It was if the human faults of pride and prejudice from both sides conspired to cast us adrift in a vacuum of both space and spirituality. God was dead heralded the media.
Fortunately this belief has not held sway in the timeline of humankind existence for long, three to four hundred years. This has been a time of huge progress in physical and theoretical sciences. Presently, the concept of a dead universe and an accidental consciousness is losing ground in science and an integration of a living universe with the mind being primary before matter is rising to the forefront. Science and spirituality are being seen as not exclusive from each other, but two sides of the same coin, the warp and woof of the same fabric. We are beginning to have the sound of two hands clapping, rather than one.
It seems as if we, along with science, are evolving or growing up. As a child initially sees the world as complete magic and randomness, the child goes through those short but rebellious teen years and believes nothing around them or from their elders, to the maturity of an adult who can appreciate and see both the magic and the method.
The most progressive scientists, i.e. Einstein and Bohm, among others noted that true breakthroughs come through first insight, then rational thinking, through intuitional leaps beyond any linear mechanical process. Though not mentioned this belief was well put by Poincare; Logic, therefore, remains barren unless fertilised by intuition. Such leaps, brought the world quantum physics with the idea of a nonlocal, eternally now universe, where waves and vibration of all encompassing infinite existence can collapse into events or nodes that appear as a linear finite being. The iceberg in the ocean only appears separate from the sea. The scientific discovery that the observer affects the observed helps us to see that we are co-creators in a universe of Oneness of electro-magnetic quantum vacuum (a form of unseen light) as the matrix or loom of creation from whence the visible universe is born. What Bohm called the explicate order manifesting itself out of the implicate whole. A universe that scientists now find that its visible part apparent to our physical senses only accounts for four percent of the entire cosmos.
A living universe in harmony with the inner spirituality with consciousness at all levels both immanent and transcendental, implicate and explicate, interconnected where observer and observed influence each other. Such a conscious universe creates an evolving new paradigm of unity and shared responsibility in its primal holistic reality. A reality that we share interconnected to all through our essential being as waves of energy that ebb and flow with each other, not as isolated, separated particles. Many see this coming paradigm change at a critical juncture where the present materialistic worldview has been destroying our environment, our lives.
Facet II: Philosophy
Part of the new paradigm realization process will be the continued healing of the rift between science and spirituality and moving away from an exclusively self-destructive material based direction. As we better listen to our hearts moving from a basis of "I and it to one of I and thou". A united knowing of our co-creation of the cosmos built on a shared consciousness and love, growing in stages moving from unknowing, through discovery, to seeing, then being. This movement is being recognized, embraced, and is gradually removing the veil of false separation that materialism and an illusory philosophy of scarcity has created. This illusion of separation has distracted us from the conscious unity and shared abundance this is the cosmos. It is summed up in the representations of the dead universe versus the living universe. This progress has brought us back to the realization that a dead universe is devoid of purpose and meaning, and we become aware that consciousness is primary and through a living universe seeks to know itself, through its unfolding.
Perhaps our struggle to grasp the living primal reality we are immersed in while we wrestle with what appears to be a human mentality towards a materialistic dead universe has its parallel it a description from Herman Hesse , where in order to be born, a new bird must appear to destroy its world. That this actual short lived materialistic worldview is the cracking shell birthing a new paradigm of unified consciousness.
The positivist reductionism world view has allowed us to deny our responsibilities to a living universe and each other. If the universe was a freak accident with a dualism that made matter primary over mind with mind being a curious non-essential byproduct, then we have no duty to anyone or anything but ourselves and individual desires. We have generally accepted such a dead lonely universe not grasping that if we had accepted the responsibility for a living universe we would have been given unconditional love, and a freedom. We would have known we are not isolated, alone or an accident fearing extinction into nothingness. A conditioned fear of the unknown created from a belief in a lifeless universe, a fear that separates us and that needs to be removed.
Facet III: PSI (a term for parapsychological phenomena)
PSI is very slowly being accepted into mainstream science. The difficulty is trying to put in a box as is our want. This reflects our need to name, measure and label, which has its purpose, but as we are warned; "the map is not the territory". Science is based on observation and if science cannot measure, gauge, and observe repeatedly, the events are considered suspect. There is much to be said for this methodology to rule out random coincidental occurrences. The difficulty is that science shows little is random or coincidental but the immensity of factors and variable involved have been beyond the scope of instruments and computers until recently. A PSI growth is occurring in scientific studies as instruments and measuring devices are being created that can measure these effects and changes repeatedly with the scientific method. PET scans and brain wave identification from a participants’ conscious meditation through its effect on surrounding populations and evidence of non-locality of the mind through remote viewing, are two examples. We struggle with the paradox of humankinds’ desire to measure and gauge in a world that we exist in and experience through feeling. We have suffered from a lack of integration of science with our true selves; ironically taking a reverse engineering approach is returning us to find our being. The left hand has not known what the right hand is doing, or more aptly the left side of the brain has not been integrated with its right side.
An example of this struggle can be seen in the history of the science of chaos theory that has led to fractal geometry and the evidence noted before that there is actuality little chaos in the universe. In its beginning both mathematicians, physicists, even economists and were dealing with apparent randomness in their fields, but their knowledge wasn’t shared or seen as connected. It was Lorenz, a mathematician turned meteorologist who first united it and brought it into a science; Chaos theory that now is shared in multiple disciplines. A field of theory that shows that everything around us from the fabric of the universe, our coastal shorelines, and the biology of life show a repeating guided self similar patterns at all levels harkening to the ancient philosophical premises of "as above, so below" and" the ocean is the drop and the drop is the ocean". It is noted that such fractal geometry allows the leaf to heal the tree as well as the tree to heal the leaf.
It is appropriate that this new renaissance in science and thought with its evidence towards the consciousness of humankind are now ushering in the new age of the primacy of mind before matter. That it is taking up the banner of the renaissance that stumbled and fell prior to the introduction of the positivist reductionism revolution three hundred years before. The expansion of quantum physics discoveries are opening doors of science to more psychic studies. As such studies find more evidence of PSI it challenges many basic assumptions by the science of a dead universe. Challenges science is coping with now, such as the discovery that the visible universe only accounts for about four percent of the universe. For lack of able to account or measure this missing universe they theorize it as a dark (unseen) matter and energy. It seems to be the same struggle they are having with PSI and the primacy of mind over matter. In each case, until now mainstream science assumed what they could observe was all of the cosmos, just recently understanding the visible universe was only four percent of the whole. The evidence now is revealing to them it is barely the tip of true reality. It would be akin to studying, by their standards, a tidal pool and saying it completely explained the ocean.
Research in PSI often shows such experiences and capabilities occur not only through focused regimens of meditation, contemplative prayer, and yoga-type breathing exercises, but through shock, trauma, near death experiences (NDE) and shamanistic rituals. These appear to jolt people to greater, broader levels of consciousness. I see an analogy in the nature of photosynthesis again using the leaf, tree model. A leaf, with almost 100% efficiency turns light energy into biochemical energy. Call these PSI creating regimens or jolts a spiritual photosynthesis where an individual can integrate the surrounding universe with such efficiency.
Such experiences remove the bogeyman of death from us and allow us to see life in the eternal and universally connected splendor that it is. It lifts the veil of a local limited material universe and we lose our fear, finding we are not separated or limited. We are able to enjoy and understand that universal life is now and always.
These experiences, both accidental and through purposeful direction, are occurring more and more. An example as the era of the 1960’s is used to show this movement, a movement that, though close, failed because it went from a sharing sacramental base to a hedonistic one. It did show that higher levels of consciousness can be reached and this can be either good or bad depending on one’s intent. In a star wars era it would be considered the dark side of the force.
The good news is that though there is the fear of the ecological, economic and warfare crisis our world is spiraling in, seen is a widespread reawakening of the spiritual side of the people going on. This is a reawakening that is both immanent and transcendental. The reawakening is at a personal level of people desiring to reach a direct connection with such creative forces. This movement includes over 50 million in the United States and another 90 million in Western Europe.
These groups could be considered moving towards modern day scientific shamanism, integrating science with spirituality, drawing from quantum physics, the latest cosmological discoveries, along with knowledge from multiple wisdom traditions creating an individual, yet shared spirituality with the direct God contact found in shaman type rituals, experiencing the true fabric of reality with the interconnection of all in the universe. These new seekers are reaching out, meeting in conferences and workshops, sharing their experiences, then going back to their communities and spreading out the effect of the enhanced consciousness. This effect can be considered the early impetus of the new shift similar to the documented maharishi effect where a few peaceful meditators (less than 1 %) could significantly and measurably reduce crime in a targeted area. As science has discovered that the universe is actually accelerating rather than slowing, perhaps this is mirrored in the acceleration towards this discussed paradigm shift in consciousness.
Facet IV: Communion. (Mutual Participation)
Accepting mind being primary to matter it then becomes the precursor to a deep mutual participation with a universe that is alive and self aware, the identified as the paradigm shift that is occurring. The hope is that there is enough individuals who have the reached this level of awareness to awaken the masses and draw the rest, like a siphon, or like the maharishi effect to full oneness. This unification quest will be recognized as the purpose of science. Quantum theory will help lead to the unified theory of all and the fractal basis of nature will make explicate from it’s implicate being the ancient wisdom "as above, so below", the microcosm and microcosm embracing each other as one will become self evident. Humankind as a whole will know our universe of energy and matter also has meaning, with a self awareness and unconditional love that is there for us all to share and does so even now whether we are conscious of it or not.
In science Bohm has brought forth the evidence the universe functions much as a holograph and Pribram has evidenced the same for the brain functions. This makes the consciousness in ourselves and the universe fractal in nature, connected self similar consciousnesses that as with the example of the leaf and the tree can heal each other. This makes us mutual participants, co-creators of each other. In such mutual co-creation Love is the key, a key of shared intention and service multiplied exponentially by the growing communities aware of this cosmic shared consciousness. This new renaissance will overturn the illusion of death and separation. Being in the eternal holistic now will be the nail that shall not be "wonted" ,that will prevent the shoe from being lost, thus the horse , the rider and the kingdom are then saved.
Numerous people from many disciplines share the belief of the primacy of consciousness before matter and this belief is rapidly spreading. There also is a shared concern that humanity is at a tipping point of self destruction, on the precipice of a fall into materialistic disaster. In the underlying themes and my own thoughts this will not be the case. The surface evidence may make it appear as if we are racing to an apocalyptic doom seemingly prophesied from so many cultures, but these are the birth pangs and necessary jolts to move our consciousness to the next level. Remember many today and in the past have reached this higher level of consciousness, some though traumatic events such as near death experiences. Perhaps such events, world wide NDE’s, not death itself, will then trigger the shift for the rest of humanity. While those who have already neared or reached such consciousness or have been prepared for this consciousness will be their brothers and sisters keepers guiding them into the new awareness of a conscious loving united universe. Our birthright we had blindly ransomed will be returned where heaven and earth can be united in harmony, fully sharing mutual awareness with the universal consciousness as co-creators.