Posts Tagged Taoism
Sophia exists in all creation myths of Earth, directly or indirectly. The terminology or gender may vary, but the story is the same. Even within the Gnostic traditions the terminology vary wildly, and they are colored from the various religious traditions they come from.
I have here tried to show the story of Sophia in connection with other creation stories, and I have been surprised how much they are alike and how sophisticated they are.
In the Beginning
Sophia existed in the beginning, from before Chaos. When the Beginning is mentioned in religious or esoteric texts it’s always about beings known as the Beginnings, Æons, or Spirits of Time and Personality.
With Sophia started time and and a new creation. All new creation starts with the First Logos, Adam or Brahma/Atma is created within time. Through the seven æons Atma is developed to become Atman.
The dominion of Sophia is what we call soul, the soul contain our personality and understanding of time.
She came out of Pistis (faith) in the form of primeval light. Immediately her will manifested itself as a likeness of heaven, with an unimaginable magnitude.
Together with Pistis, she brought a great power into being in the first æon, who we know as the Father, Adam, Osiris or Brahma, which became like a veil between the immortals and those who came into being after them.
It means that we are Fathers too, we and the Father is one, we know everything that are within him, what there was before we don’t experience within us.
Here the same description but with Osiris as the Father:
This is our universe as it looks in the first æon:
A shadow arose out of the Father, Achamod [Achamōs, Achamōth], that gave birth to envy and wrath, and became like dark waters of immeasurable deepness. This is also symbolized through Adam being created out of the earth.
We know this darkness as the minerals of our physical world. We also know it as Lilith, Tiamat or the Asuras. Pistis appeared over it, and was disturbed at what had come into being.
In the second æon, Sophia creates the Living-Eve, Zoë, the Mother and Instructors of Life, by letting a droplet of her own light flow onto the water, onto the etheric, creating the first seed of Buddhi. It became an androgynous human, which Sophia molded as a female body who bore another androgynous being. Eva proclaims her identity with Sophia and assumes the title of Isis.
Sophia sent her emanation Eve, to awaken Adam in whom there was no soul,” so that his offspring would become vessels of the light.
Then Pistis Sophia caused a lion-like spirit to come into being out of the waters, to rule over the world of matter. She called him Yaldabaoth, Aramaic for “child of chaos”, the etheric gave life to matter. He had power, but did not know how he came to be, and was “ignorant of the power of Pistis.”
He is in reality her masculine side who we later will know as Vishnu or the Son, the I AM who enter chaos where he creates order out of chaos, this chaos is also known as the Ahrimanic, Yin.
Alexander the Great, Faraoh and a Son of Zeus, is the emanation of the transformed Yaldabaoth, the Second Logos creating order out of chaos. He is also the same as Marduk who we later will know as the Archangel Michael or Mahakal. Marduk created the solar system out of Tiamat.
The Platonic philosophy used the name Demiurge instead of Yaldabaoth. Demiurge meant originally “craftsman” or “artisan” (Cain,) then became “producer” and lastly “creator”. The Demiurge is the ‘incarnated’ God, he who forms the physical out of chaos.
Chaos was his karma, so when he incarnated he took his karma on him, and although he was good, when he took the garment of karma on him he became weighted down under its weight, and had to work with the karma as any human soul must when incarnating on Earth.
Another place Adam’s creation is described in this way: The seven archons, the elemental beings of the seven planetary hierarchies, molded a man corresponding to man’s seven layers or bodies. But he had no spirit, no I AM, so they left him. Sophia sent her breath into Adam, gave him life, gave him his I AM.
Yaldabaoth and his archons were disturbed, but rejoiced when they found that Adam was not able to rise.
They are the untransformed human layers, and the I AM couldn’t permeate these wild powers. Yaldabaoth is her not yet developed masculine side.
Sophia “withdrew up to her light.”, to Buddhi, where she is known as Eve.
The thoughts of Yaldabaoth becomes the Word and moves over the waters as a spirit, and he separates the waters and land, making heaven and earth, the etheric and the physical.
Pistis says, “You are wrong, Samael, there is an immortal light man that exists before you.” He later realizes the truth of her words when he glimpses her image on the water, sees the image of buddhi in the etheric, when he had developed buddhi himself.
Sophia creates Sabaoth in the third æon, the Third Logos, who we also know as Abel, the son of Adam and Eve, the Son of Man. But he enters first the Earth in the form of Seth, as the etheric body wasn’t ready to receive the astral body in the start, why Abel has to await his time, await Golgotha.
Cain’s murder of Abel simply symbolizes that Abel can’t enter the world development yet, the etheric body (Cain) are not developed enough to connect to the astral body (Abel). Cain can’t connect to God, God can’t see his sacrifice, but God can see the sacrifice of Abel, can communicate with Abel. When Abel enters the Earth in the form of Seth he becomes the channel between God and Cain, he brings the smaller light to humanity.
Sabaoth helped Yaldabaoth up of the darkness, also known through the legend where Shiva stopped Vishnu running wild as the Lion avatar. We also know the story in the form of Enkido incarnating to help King Gilgamesh or the incarnation of Lucifer or Seth, giving humanity the astral body, the animal body, and teaching them how to live in a civilization.
Sophia, daughter of Pistis, instructs Sabaoth about all the things that exist. He becomes the first teacher of man, Lucifer, Shiva or Seth, the first Lightbringer, the bringer of civilization. Later we know him as the Holy Spirit. The true light-bringer is the Son of God, her masculine side.
Eve worked through the Snake, Lucifer. She promised the couple that they would be able to tell good from evil.
The creation told around the Three Logoi, see The Logos Walks the Earth.
Kronos – Æon – Zervan
Sophia exist both in a masculine form and a feminine form, but the feminine form is the main gender. We know her masculine form as the Son or Vishnu, but also as Kronos or Chronos. The masculine form are transforming chaos to order, to Manas, Buddhi and Atma. Sophia or Kronos introduced time.
Isis – Sophia
From Rudolf Steiner, Isis and Madonna:
“… Therefore in the true sense of spiritual science we do not speak only of one Mother but of the Mothers, realizing that what we have today as the physical Mother is the last development of the soul-spiritual figure out of the spiritual realm.
There are in fact images of Isis representing not one Mother but Mothers, three Mothers.
In front we have a figure, Isis with the Horus child at her breast, resembling the oldest representations of the Madonna.
But behind this figure in certain Egyptian representations we have another figure, an Isis, bearing on her head the two familiar cow horns and the wings of the hawk, offering the “Crux Ansata”☥ (Ankh) to the child.
We see that what is physical, human, in the foremost figure is here more spiritualized.
Behind there is yet a third figure, bearing a lion’s head and representing the third stage of the human soul. This is how these three Isis figures appear, one behind the other. It is an actual fact that our human soul bears in it three natures — a will nature, found in the inmost depths of the being, a feeling nature and a wisdom nature. These are the three soul Mothers; we meet them in the three figures of the Egyptian Isis.”
The universe as seen in old Egypt:
The I AM of Sophia/Yaldabaoth moves through the seven bodies in seven consecutive æons.
Horus is Cain/Yaldabaoth, the Second Logos, and he is the beginning, and the middle, and the end.
In the first part of Earth he is going through the lower three bodies, mineral, etheric and astral body, creating our body. Also called the three pre-earthly deeds of Michael or Christ.
In the middle of Earth he is in the soul of humankind, developing the three soul bodies, sentient soul, intellectual soul and consciousness soul.
In the last part of Earth he develop the three spirit bodies together with humankind, and when the Earth have become old he raises with humanity to become spirit.
Goethe and the Mothers
Rudolf Steiner on Faust and the Mothers:
“Now what does this journey to the Mothers signify for Faust? …
Mephistopheles himself cannot enter the realm where the Mothers are enthroned although he gives Faust the key. Mephistopheles is the spirit of materialism, the spirit contained in the forces and powers of man’s material existence. To him the realm of the Mothers is the realm of nothingness.
Faust, the spiritual human being, with his bent towards the spirit is able to answer: “In thy nothingness I hope to find the All.”
Then follows the highly remarkable and significant description of the realm of the Mothers, and we are told how they weave and live in a sphere out of which the forms of the visible world are fashioned; how man, if he would penetrate to the Mothers, must rise above all that lives in space and time.
Formation, transformation, this is the essence of their realm. They are mysterious Goddesses holding sway in a spiritual realm behind the reality of the senses.
Faust must penetrate to them if he is to obtain knowledge of all that transcends the sensory and physical. Only by widening his soul to this realm of the Mothers can Faust worthily unite in Helen the eternal with the temporal.
… Goethe fully understood how in this realm of the Mothers one has to do with a sphere into which man is able to penetrate when he awakens slumbering spiritual forces in his soul.
This is for him the great moment in which are revealed to him the spiritual beings and facts which are always around us, but which with the eyes of the senses we see as little as the blind man sees color and light. It is the moment when the spiritual eyes and ears are opened to a world lying behind the physical world. Entrance into this realm is portrayed by the journey to the Mothers.”
More here on Faust and the Mothers.
The Three Fates
The three aspects of Isis-Sophia is a mystery, hidden in plain sight. Who does the gods bow for, the Three Fates. They lay the plan for everything in existence, for gods and man.
The three are called Clotho (spinner), Lachesis (allotter) and Atropos (unturnable). The string of fate is a concrete experience for many who can see clairvoyantly, as a string with markings of old and new karma, what we have or had to handle. When zooming in on the thread it is seen as the Akashic Chronicles.
The Norns was the absolute powers of destiny. They took the one eye of Odin and gave him the language instead, here we have the start of Kali Yuga or End of Dreamtime, we lost the spiritual communication, dream-language and got the spoken language in its stead. This we also know from India, where Vac or Saraswati was the giver of language.
In Norse mythology the Norns are female beings who rule the destiny of gods and men, twining the thread of life. They set up the laws and decided on the lives of the children of men. Their names were Urðr (that which became or happened) related with Wyrd, weird (fate), Verðandi (that which is happening) and Skuld (that which should become, debt, guilt).
From “Myths of the Norsemen“:
As soon as the Golden Age [dreamtime] was ended, and sin began to steal even into the heavenly homes of Asgard, the Norns made their appearance under the great ash Yggdrasil, and took up their abode near the Urdar fountain. …
These three sisters, whose names were Urd, Verdandi, and Skuld, were personifications of the past, present, and future.
Their principal occupations were to weave the web of fate; to sprinkle daily the sacred tree with water from the Urdar fountain, and to put fresh clay around its roots, that it might remain fresh and ever green.
Thence come the maids Who much do know;
Three from the hall
Beneath the tree;
One they named Was,
And Being next,
The third Shall be.
~The Voluspa (Henderson’s tr.)
Some authorities further state that the Norns kept watch over the golden apples which hung on the branches of the tree of life, experience [Buddhi], and knowledge [Etheric body], allowing none but Idun to pick the fruit, which was that with which the gods renewed their youth.
“In Snorri Sturluson’s interpretation of the Völuspá, Urðr (Wyrd), Verðandi and Skuld, the three most important of the Norns, come out from a hall standing at the Well of Urðr or Well of Fate.
They draw water from the well and take sand that lies around it, which they pour over Yggdrasill so that its branches will not rot.
These three Norns are described as powerful maiden giantesses (Jotuns) whose arrival from Jötunheimr ended the golden age of the gods.”
Here’s two things that are especially interesting, the Norns keep Yggdrasill alive, the Tree of Life, they keep our microcosmos alive, they are Sophia.
The other thing are that they ended the Golden Age of the gods, meaning that they ended what the Australian Aboriginals calls Dreamtime, what the Indians calls Kali Yuga and connects to the death of Krishna, and the old testament connects to the Tower of Babel. Now the gods, our archetypes, where tamed.
The Ariadne Thread
The hero Theseus handled six Chtlonic demons at six gates to the underworld and the Marathonian Bull, corresponding to the seven chakras, before he was send to Crete to slay the Minotaur. He was send to Crete together with six men and seven women as sacrifices to the Minotaur, but his goal was to slay the Minotaur.
Ariadne was the Mistress of the Labyrinth, and she falls in love with him, she spins a thread he should use in the labyrint to find his way out again, and she gave him a sword to kill the Minotaur.
The Labyrinth is the physical world. The Ariadne thread is the Thread of Life, the Akashic Record, the wisdom of his life, dharma, he builds while descending into the physical world.
Theseus uses the Thread of Life to ascend from the depth again. The Minotaur is Karma, Chaos, called Sin or Ahriman by some traditions, and the Sword is the ‘I’ used to fight Karma.
Theseus was god working on Earth and Ariadne god working from the spiritual world.
See also The Strings of Fate.
Sophia in Hindu Mythology
Vāc – The Word
She is called the “mother of the Vedas”, and she gave mankind speech, which connects her to the Norns, who gave Odin and humankind language, replacing the dream-language.
She is identified with goddess Saraswati in later Vedic literature and post-Vedic texts of Hindu traditions.
The Tantric vision of Vāk displaying her omniform manifestation (viratsvarupa)
19th century. Rajasthan. The same form as Arjuna’s cosmic vision of Krishna.
Saraswati – Goddess of wisdom
Saraswati is the goddess of knowledge and wisdom and matches Sophia nicely.
The creation myth of India are many and complicated, but they are all inspired describing what happened with different words.
Some say that Saraswati, as part of Vishnu, created Brahma, but Saraswati became unconscious after the creation, first when Brahma had created the physical did Saraswati become conscious again, and Brahma gave Birth to her into his new creation, bound Buddhi together with Atma and the etheric to the physical.
Until then, Brahma’s creation was full of chaos, but with the help of Saraswati the creation got form, the etheric formed the physical.
Brahma is Atma and the physical, Saraswati is Buddhi and the etheric world, but also the spiritual side of Vishnu.
When the creation continues, she also emanates down into Lakshmi and Parvati, the feminine side of the Trimurti, Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva.
Though Krishna recited the Gita, the credit goes to Saraswati as she resided in Vishnu’s tongue, was the wisdom of Vishnu, was Buddhi. Together they created the Gita. Thus Saraswati, who is called the mother of the Vedas, also becomes the mother of the Gita.
Brahma, the Supreme Being of Light
The first living being within the world of matter is Brahma, the highest Light being within the universe, in the topmost seventh heaven, Atma.
Brahma, is the first created being in countless universes with countless Brahmas but in each universe there is only one Brahma.
The universes themselves emanate from the absolute Individual, in Sanskrit called Vishnu, ‘the omnipresent One’, God as Creator. The emanation and dissolution of the countless universes is described as the exhaling and inhaling of Vishnu, as bubbles of space and time within the Causal Ocean of Vishnu.
Within this primordial universe Brahma appears as a ray, or ‘son’, of Vishnu. Through Brahma, hierarchical dimensions of existence are materialized, basically seven in number. It is Brahma who creates in ‘seven days’, starting with the channelling of light into the dark universe: ‘Let light come to be.’
“The world rests as the lotus in the palm of my hand, the cosmos revolves around my finger like a discus. I blow the music of life through my conch and wield my mace to protect all creatures.” – Krishna Upanishad
I can’t separate Sophia from Vishnu, they are one. It’s as if Sophia is the inner wisdom where Vishnu is the active wisdom, forming the universe.
Vishnu is Atman, and Atman is the soul, the developing agent of the universe.
Brahma emerges at the moment when time and universe is born, inside a lotus rooted in the navel of Hari, Vishnu. The Lotus could symbolize Sophia, wisdom, order in chaos. The beings with resurrection body, rainbow body, are said to be born out of the Lotus.
For Brahma and Shiva it seems to be opposite, it’s as if their feminine part is the physical and the astral world.
Vishnu is the All-Pervading One, derived from “vis’ in Sanskrit which means both ‘to spread’ and ‘to be present everywhere’. Even when there was Nothing, there was Vishnu, present as a nameless, formless, dormant energy. In this un-manifested (nirguna) state, even Vishnu was not aware of his own being. He just was.
In this Nothingness, when the first ripple of awareness stirred , spontaneously and of its own will, the formless energy became Vishnu, the Supreme Being, Parabrahman.
When Brahma begins the process of Creation, it is Vishnu who expands into everything and becomes part of everything. Now he is Brahman, the Cosmic Consciousness.
As if he is seeing a dream, Vishnu watches Brahma create the Universe. By the act of watching his dream, Vishnu sustains the Universe. When Vishnu wakes from his dream one cycle of Creation ends.
Vishnu who dreams up the Universe must also now protect it. To maintain the order of Creation, Vishnu becomes The Protector. He takes the form of Ishwara or God.
At times, when world descends into total chaos, Lord Vishnu comes to its rescue in the form of an Avatar, or incarnation.
The wisdom of Sophia or Saraswati was what formed the universe.
Viśvákarma – The divine architect of the Universe
God as Creator is also known as Viśvákarma.
From The Spiritual Beings in the Heavenly Bodies and in the Kingdoms of Nature, lecture 9, April 13, 1912:
“Then came the civilisation of Zarathustra; and Zarathustra pointed again to the same being whom the Holy Rishis had called Vishvakarma, only he alluded to him in his own way as Ahura Mazdao. The Holy Rishis knew, as also did Zarathustra, that what is meant by Vishvakarma represents the Spirit of Wisdom who streams down upon the earth and encompasses wider spheres than do the individual Spirits of Motion. Zarathustra too knew that Ahura Mazdao has wider spheres than the Spirits of Motion.”
He is the Principal Universal Architect who fabricated and designed the divine architecture of the Universe, the Lord of Creation. Brahma emerges at the moment when time and universe is born, inside a lotus rooted in the navel of Hari, Vishnu. In Rig veda Viswakarma is seen as the Ultimate reality, from whose navel all the visible comes. Same imagery is seen in Yajurveda purusha sukta, where the divine smith Tvastar originating from Viswakarma. As he is Aja the unborn he is the primordial personification of the upanishadic Parabrahman.
Vishwakarma was the universal father, creator and an all seeing god who has faces, eyes and feet on every side; and who produced and gave name to all the Heavenly, Earthly and other Celestial realms and preserves them through the exercise of his arms and wings. He sacrificed himself to himself for the evolution of this visible world, thus he is Purusha, in Christian tradition, the Mystical Lamb.
Shakti is another description of Sophia, she is both wisdom and the chaos order is created from. She is the karma that teaches the gods.
In Shrimad Devi Bhagwat Puranas 1st book and 4th chapter. Devi addressed the Trimurti as follows:
“I am Adi Parashakti. I am the owner of this universe. I am the Absolute Reality. I am dynamic in feminine form and static in masculine form. You have appeared to govern the universe through my energy. You are the masculine form of Absolute Reality, while I am the feminine form of that Reality. I am beyond form, beyond everything, and all the powers of God are contained within me. You must know that I am the Eternal limitless energy.
She then said: Brahma! You will be generator of the universe; the Goddess Sharada (Saraswati) is your consort, she will be recognized as the goddess of wisdom and the primeval sound. Lord Brahma, this goddess will be with you when you create the universe.
She continued: Lord Narayana (Krishna)! You are formless, yet you take form. I assign you to be the preserver of the universe. You will take a different incarnations in order to save this universe’s inhabitants. Oh Narayana! You have created Lord Brahma, and Brahma will further create thirty three kind of gods and goddesses. My third shakthi, goddess Mahakali, has been born from your mystic sleep. Your consort will be goddess Lakshmi. Lord Vishnu, this goddess will be with you when you rule/maintain the universe. When life evolves, you will take the form of Vishnu, the one who will perform the task of observing and preserving this universe.
At Last she instructed: “Oh Lord Rudra, the Great God, you are the personification of time, which is above all. You will perform the task of destroying and regenerating this universe. When you are formless, time stands still. It is due to my power that you become dynamic and are capable of bringing about the destruction and regeneration of this universe. Your consort is goddess Mahakali, Mahakali is myself , my full form , where Laxmi and Saraswati is just my clone, partial form but due to meditation, you will surpass all my forms. It is then that I will incarnate from your left half in my manifested form. This form will be my truest manifested form. Lord Shiva, I will perform the task of destroying evil and will incarnate as your consort”.
It is interesting that she will be the consort of Shiva (Lucifer) in the form of Mahakali, the feminine form of Mahakal, who we know as Michael. Mahakali was part of Vishnu, but when she left his body, he became conscious.
The Aitareya Upanishad mentions that only the “Atman” (the Self) existed in the beginning. The Self created the universe we know, the physical, the etheric (breath of life) and the astral (fire). He also created the speech. He then formed the Purusha from the etheric.
The beginning points to Sophia, she was a spirit of time and personality, time started with her. Creating the speech, language, also points to Sophia.
In the beginning Atman, the I AM, pointed at the physical, and was nearly unconscious. This is the same that are said about Sophia, that she was unconscious in the first period where Adam was created.
In the next period or æon, the old Sun, Atman points to and develops the etheric. In the following period, the old Moon, Atman points to and develops the astral. In our current period Atman points at and develops the soul, our soul.
Atman will in this way develop all the seven layers of the human body ending with Atma!
In Taoism the creation is shown through the Trigrams. The trigrams are build from below, where the lowest line represents the First Logos, the middle line the Second Logos and the top line the Third Logos. Here another representation of the development of the trigrams, and related to western symbolism.
Here’s how the children was created (from the Book of Change).
The Creative (☰ Qian) is Heaven, therefore, it is called the Father.
The Receptive (☷ Kun) is the Earth, therefore, it is called the Mother.
- In the Trigram of the Arousing (☳ Zhen,) she seeks for the first time the power of the male and receives a son. Therefore, the Arousing is called the Eldest Son. [The highest spiritual principle in man, Atma.]
- In the Trigram of the Gentle (☴ Xun) the male seeks for the first time the power of the female and receives a daughter. Therefore, the Gentle is called the Eldest Daughter. [The lowest principle in man, the physical.]
- In the Trigram of the Abysmal (☵ Kan) she seeks for a second time and receives a son. Therefore, it is called the Middle Son. [The second lowest principle, the etheric.]
- In the Trigram of the Clinging (☲ Li) he seeks for a second time and receives a daughter. Therefore, it is called the Middle Daughter. [The second highest principle, Buddhi.]
- In the Trigram of Keeping (☶ Gen) Still she seeks for a third time and receives a son. Therefore, it is called the Youngest Son. [The third highest principle, Manas.]
- In the Trigram of the Joyous (☱ Dui) he seeks for a third time and receives a daughter. Therefore, it is called the Youngest Daughter. [The third lowest principle, the Astral.]
Inserted into the figure of the Alchemist Mountain:
The trigrams have names from their position in the family, and the oldest son and daughter corresponds to the First Logos, the middle son and daughter corresponds to the two personalities of the Second Logos and the youngest son and daughter corresponds to the Third Logos.
See also The Taoist Triad and the Three Logoi
More on the periods, æons: Esoteric History of Man.
A friend of mine have just made me aware of the physicist Amit Goswami:
Quantum physics, as well as a number of other modern sciences, he feels, is demonstrating that the essential unity underlying all of reality is a fact which can be experimentally verified. Because of the enormous implications he sees in this scientific confirmation of the spiritual, Goswami is ardently devoted to explaining his theory to as many people as possible in order to help bring about what he feels is a much needed paradigm shift. He feels that because science is now capable of validating mysticism, much that before required a leap of faith can now be empirically proven and, hence, the materialist paradigm which has dominated scientific and philosophical thought for over two hundred years can finally be called into question.
Consider instead the possibility that the entire story only existed as an abstract potential—a cosmic dream among countless other cosmic dreams—until, in that dream, life somehow evolved to the point that a conscious, sentient being came into existence. At that moment, solely because of the conscious observation of that individual, the entire universe, including all of the history leading up to that point, suddenly came into being. Until that moment, nothing had actually ever happened. In that moment, fifteen billion years happened. If this sounds like nothing more than a complicated backdrop for a science fiction story or a secular version of one of the world’s great creation myths, hold on to your hat. According to physicist Amit Goswami, the above description is a scientifically viable explanation of how the universe came into being.
Goswami is convinced, along with a number of others who subscribe to the same view, that the universe, in order to exist, requires a conscious sentient being to be aware of it. Without an observer, he claims, it only exists as a possibility. And as they say in the world of science, Goswami has done his math. Marshalling evidence from recent research in cognitive psychology, biology, parapsychology and quantum physics, and leaning heavily on the ancient mystical traditions of the world, Goswami is building a case for a new paradigm that he calls “monistic idealism,” the view that consciousness, not matter, is the foundation of everything that is.
He is not the only one, Martin Rees:
“In the beginning there were only probabilities. The universe could only come into existence if someone observed it. It does not matter that the observers turned up several billion years later. The universe exists because we are aware of it.”
From the interview (it’s simply filled with Goodies):
WIE: In your book The Self-Aware Universe you speak about the need for a paradigm shift. Could you talk a bit about how you conceive of that shift? From what to what?
Amit Goswami: The current worldview has it that everything is made of matter, and everything can be reduced to the elementary particles of matter, the basic constituents—building blocks—of matter. And cause arises from the interactions of these basic building blocks or elementary particles; elementary particles make atoms, atoms make molecules, molecules make cells, and cells make brain. But all the way, the ultimate cause is always the interactions between the elementary particles. This is the belief—all cause moves from the elementary particles. This is what we call “upward causation.” So in this view, what human beings—you and I—think of as our free will does not really exist. It is only an epiphenomenon or secondary phenomenon, secondary to the causal power of matter. And any causal power that we seem to be able to exert on matter is just an illusion. This is the current paradigm.
Now, the opposite view is that everything starts with consciousness. That is, consciousness is the ground of all being. In this view, consciousness imposes “downward causation.” In other words, our free will is real. When we act in the world we really are acting with causal power. This view does not deny that matter also has causal potency—it does not deny that there is causal power from elementary particles upward, so there is upward causation—but in addition it insists that there is also downward causation. It shows up in our creativity and acts of free will, or when we make moral decisions. In those occasions we are actually witnessing downward causation by consciousness.
WIE: In your book you refer to this new paradigm as “monistic idealism.” And you also suggest that science seems to be verifying what a lot of mystics have said throughout history—that science’s current findings seem to be parallel to the essence of the perennial spiritual teaching.
AG: It is the spiritual teaching. It is not just parallel. The idea that consciousness is the ground of being is the basis of all spiritual traditions, as it is for the philosophy of monistic idealism—although I have given it a somewhat new name. The reason for my choice of the name is that, in the West, there is a philosophy called “idealism” which is opposed to the philosophy of “material realism,” which holds that only matter is real. Idealism says no, consciousness is the only real thing. But in the West that kind of idealism has usually meant something that is really dualism—that is, consciousness and matter are separate. So, by monistic idealism, I made it clear that, no, I don’t mean that dualistic kind of Western idealism, but really a monistic idealism, which has existed in the West, but only in the esoteric spiritual traditions. Whereas in the East this is the mainstream philosophy. In Buddhism, or in Hinduism where it is called Vedanta, or in Taoism, this is the philosophy of everyone. But in the West this is a very esoteric tradition, only known and adhered to by very astute philosophers, the people who have really delved deeply into the nature of reality.
AG: Yes, it is. Henry Stapp, who is a physicist at the University of California at Berkeley, says this quite explicitly in one of his papers written in 1977, that things outside of space and time affect things inside space and time. There’s just no question that that happens in the realm of quantum physics when you are dealing with quantum objects. Now of course, the crux of the matter is, the surprising thing is, that we are always dealing with quantum objects because it turns out that quantum physics is the physics of every object. Whether it’s submicroscopic or it’s macroscopic, quantum physics is the only physics we’ve got. So although it’s more apparent for photons, for electrons, for the submicroscopic objects, our belief is that all reality, all manifest reality, all matter, is governed by the same laws. And if that is so, then this experiment is telling us that we should change our worldview because we, too, are quantum objects.
AG: We all hope so. Now this is called the “quantum measurement paradox.” It is a paradox because who are we to do this conversion? Because after all, in the materialist paradigm we don’t have any causal efficacy. We are nothing but the brain, which is made up of atoms and elementary particles. So how can a brain which is made up of atoms and elementary particles convert a possibility wave that it itself is? It itself is made up of the possibility waves of atoms and elementary particles, so it cannot convert its own possibility wave into actuality. This is called a paradox. Now in the new view, consciousness is the ground of being. So who converts possibility into actuality? Consciousness does, because consciousness does not obey quantum physics. Consciousness is not made of material. Consciousness is transcendent. Do you see the paradigm-changing view right here—how consciousness can be said to create the material world? The material world of quantum physics is just possibility. It is consciousness, through the conversion of possibility into actuality, that creates what we see manifest. In other words, consciousness creates the manifest world.
AG: I mean that literally. This is what quantum physics demands. In fact, in quantum physics this is called “delayed choice.” And I have added to this concept the concept of “self-reference.” Actually the concept of delayed choice is very old. It is due to a very famous physicist named John Wheeler, but Wheeler did not see the entire thing correctly, in my opinion. He left out self-reference. The question always arises, “The universe is supposed to have existed for fifteen billion years, so if it takes consciousness to convert possibility into actuality, then how could the universe be around for so long?” Because there was no consciousness, no sentient being, biological being, carbon based being, in that primordial fireball which is supposed to have created the universe, the big bang. But this other way of looking at things says that the universe remained in possibility until there was self-referential quantum measurement—so that is the new concept. An observer’s looking is essential in order to manifest possibility into actuality, and so only when the observer looks, only then does the entire thing become manifest—including time. So all of past time, in that respect, becomes manifest right at that moment when the first sentient being looks.
It turns out that this idea, in a very clever, very subtle way, has been around in cosmology and astronomy under the guise of a principle called the “anthropic principle.” That is, the idea has been growing among astronomers—cosmologists anyway—that the universe has a purpose. It is so fine-tuned, there are so many coincidences, that it seems very likely that the universe is doing something purposive, as if the universe is growing in such a way that a sentient being will arise at some point.
Connie: We think science and spirituality are mutually exclusive but lately it seems that the two ideas are moving closer together.
Amit: The division happened because of a quirk of history: that classical physics was discovered before quantum physics. If quantum physics had been discovered first we would not have these separations between science and spirituality. Carl Popper coined the phrase “promissory materialism.” Materialism will always remain promissory in those areas of spirit, soul, mind, meaning and what life is all about. Science based on materiality will never make total sense. It fits some questions that have a reductive tendency. Some things we do are materially oriented. If you need a job you learn a skill. But on the other hand if you want to be happy, to think money or work will make us happy is foolhardy. One becomes happy by connecting with wholeness. This wisdom has escaped most scientists.
I am finding a shift among budding scientists who want to find real answers to questions like happiness, soul, reincarnation and the meaning of life. All those questions that science thought it could never answer. It’s clear that if we continue our present direction, the decline of the stock market and business ethics are just a few of the symptoms of the disease, which is leaving spirit, ethics and values out of the equation. If you understand reincarnational philosophy, you’ll know that we come back again and again if we are unethical. No one would ever dare to be unethical. You do come back and you have to answer for those propensities. So there’s no sense in building bad karma, bad propensities.
Amit Goswami: Amit Goswami is a theoretical nuclear physicist and member of The University of Oregon Institute for Theoretical Physics since 1968, teaching physics for 32 years. After a period of distress and frustration in his private and professional life starting at the age 38, his research interests shifted to quantum cosmology, quantum measurement theory, and applications of quantum mechanics to the mind-body problem. He became best known as one of the interviewed scientific experts featured in the 2004 film What the Bleep Do We Know!?. He is the author of six books including the successful textbook, “Quantum Mechanics.” Amit is a pioneer of science within consciousness “science based on the primacy of consciousness” which is developed in his books “The Self-Aware Universe: How Consciousness Creates the Material World” and “Science and Spirituality.” He has also authored “Quantum Creativity” and “A Quantum Physicist’s Guide to Enlightenment,” “The Visionary Window” and “Physics of the Soul,” and the upcoming “Integral Medicine.” Amit gives workshops in the United States, Brazil, Sweden, and India on the subjects of quantum creativity, quantum healing, physics of the soul, and science and spirituality.
Also read-worthy The Universe, Quantum Physics, and Consciousness by Subhash Kak, Ph.D.
I regard consciousness as fundamental. I regard matter as derivative from consciousness. We cannot get behind consciousness. Everything that we talk about, everything that we regard as existing, postulates consciousness.
As quoted in The Observer (25 January 1931)
As a man who has devoted his whole life to the most clear headed science, to the study of matter, I can tell you as a result of my research about atoms this much: There is no matter as such. All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force which brings the particle of an atom to vibration and holds this most minute solar system of the atom together. We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent mind. This mind is the matrix of all matter.
Das Wesen der Materie [The Nature of Matter], speech at Florence, Italy (1944) (from Archiv zur Geschichte der Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, Abt. Va, Rep. 11 Planck, Nr. 1797)