Tag Archives: Theory of the Conscious Universe

The Theory of the Conscious Universe: Where Is the Self in the Brain?

Originally posted July 16, 2011

The Theory of the Conscious Universe was the working title of my book, “You Are the Universe: Imagine That”, released in 2014.

Picture the neurons in the brain as strings in a violin. Now picture them as superstrings. The brain is both.

In a previous posting we discussed the different “selves” that each individual has within him/herself, which are formed out of associational clusters of neurons constructed in the brain by our experiences after we are born.

These different selves in the software layer are not places amongst the neurons. Not quite. Each self is a particular conversation amongst neurons, and each self is evoked using specific places in the brain where those memories reside.

Each such “self” is a particular dance of the neurons.

Behind all this is the self you were born with.

This raises a semantic issue: the meaning of the word “self”. David Brooks, for example, says in his book THE SOCIAL ANIMAL, “Even up to age three, children don’t seem to get the concept of self-consciously focused attention. They assume that the mind goes blank when there is no outside thing bidding for its attention.”

Elsewhere in the book he says “You are the spiritual entity that emerges out of the material networks in your head.”

In reading this excellent and thought-provoking book, I get the feeling that he means exactly what he says in the prior sentence — that matter comes first, and that the self is part of the mind that arises out of the contacts we have with the rest of the world, and how those experiences dictate the laying down of neurons and connections in our brain.

Now, David is obviously a humanist who talks about moments of transcendence, and emphasizes the importance of emotions and the unconscious mind. At the same time he is probably a materialist, not in the popular social sense but rather as in the philosophy term of art, meaning he believes that matter appears ahead of mind in the timeline of the universe.

After all, read his last sentence above, once more. He is saying that your Self is what emerges out of the neurons that have connected since your birth. Whatever unconscious hard-wired genetic/instinctual predispositions you had at birth did not comprise your true self. To David, “You” remained self-less until your brain was sufficiently formed to where the self-ness function turned on — when you had enough contact with the rest of the world to emerge as a distinct self.

Here we would differ. I take the Self to be an experiential phenomenon. Not an abstract word. Practically every other word that we use refers to an object or something we see outside the Self. The word “Self” however has as its referent the actual ineffable experience you are having right now of being you. Reducing that to a word can be very useful, but can also be counterproductive if it gets us to think of Self as just another “thing” like all the others we perceive. The Self is not like anything else. It is in a class by itself. It is the only thing we know really exists. It is the Knower itself. Everything else is something we perceive indirectly through the physics of perception.

That is what I mean by Self and I suspect with that as a stipulated definition, David would probably agree with what I am saying here.

Once we start to perceive, our Self is lit up — we are the experiencer. If those perceptions start in the womb, or when we take our first breath, we likely have no notion of what is going on. Later, that experiencer undergoes various levels of evolution and becomes self-aware (has what David calls an “inner narrator that he thought of as himself”), and then later capable of looking at his/her own feelings objectively (what David calls “equipoise”). And even capable of Knowing Itself As Universe in moments of what David calls “self-transcendence” — moments when we lose the sense of separateness.

The Self is the experiencer. What the neurons lay down is the software layer. Sometimes, as David acknowledges, there is a fight for control among parts of the brain; we would say that the fight for control also includes one other part besides the ones considered in THE SOCIAL ANIMAL: THE ORIGINAL EXPERIENCER.

The Original Experiencer. The Self that was always there, before these levels of self-awareness that David represents as the step-off point for the Self. The ineffable spark of selfness that you have even before you can see yourself as separate or start to self-narrate or start to decide whether you are lost in bliss or somewhere else. The Self you have when your mind is empty. We would argue this is your true self, not the concoction of neuronal dances that you have going on all the time as a result of your experiences.

This is an important choice to consider in terms of your own thinking, I would submit.

What has all of this, however, got to do with The Theory of the Conscious Universe?

The Theory of the Conscious Universe postulates that the Universe is a single consciousness, is the single Self that exists, and that the Self lives through all Its creations.

As we shall demonstrate in upcoming blog postings, this conception of what we are can explain every detectable phenomenon within an Occam’s Razor scientific model fully synchronous with quantum mechanics (QM).

Because of the importance of consciousness in explaining our “Theory of the Conscious Universe”, we began this posting by talking about when the Self arises — what I call the experiencer. We can’t talk about TTOTCU without first discussing these basic issues.

In describing what consciousness is and how it works we will make frequent analogies to the way computers work. We will explain why we doubt that robots can ever be made to experience, unless they are based on genetic technology, in which case they will not be robots. Yet we will also explain our odd hypothesis that consciousness exists in everything.

As we go along, you may find all the hypotheses in The Theory of the Conscious Universe odd — or perfectly obvious (latter group please send me an email — I’d like to chat).

So, what if anything does this have to do with the primary work of the Human Effectiveness Institute (“THEI”)? Our mission is to enhance human effectiveness. One way of doing this is by freeing the mind of constricting limiting notions that may be based on totally inaccurate pictures of reality.

Best to all,

Bill

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Originally posted 2011-07-16 10:35:16. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Three Books with the Same Name

In April, 2014 my book You Are The Universe: Imagine That was published, but I held back from marketing it, awaiting a feeling of the right time. The Universe obviously saw no reason to wait to have Its coming-out party, thus stimulating the re-recognition among its many self-parts of Its One-Selfness.You Are the Universe by Bill Harvey

So this year the dean of positive nonfiction writers Deepak Chopra and leading light in physics Menas Kafatos published their version: You Are the Universe: Discovering Your Cosmic Self and Why it Matters.

I discovered that Masami Saionji also published You Are the Universe in print in 2004 and as an ebook in 2014. (For that matter, my You Are The Universe came out to friends as The Theory of the Conscious Universe in 1976.)

These are three great books about exactly the same point. The same point that is made by all the original source books (e.g. the Vedas, Torah, I Ching, et al) from which modern religious texts have drawn. Underlying the material appearances is one consciousness at play. When a being becomes established in this perspective he or she enjoys life to the fullest, and is a fount of constructive encouragement to others. Helping as many people as possible to get into this headspace is what motivates writers such as ourselves to write and disseminate books like these.

It’s of course personally fascinating to me, to compare what my esteemed colleagues (what an honor to feel like in some way I’m in this group!) and I did differently in approaching delivery of the same message.

My friend the genius Chuck Young, inspired by Daniel Kahneman’s book Thinking: Fast and Slow, analyzes and measures advertising based on its ability to get into three different long-term memory systems: thinking, feeling, and procedural. Thinking and feeling are processed in the cortex while procedural is processed in the cerebellum. The body can go through its motions by second nature even without a cortex.

Chuck might see my version of You Are The Universe (especially with its companion volume Mind Magic) as more procedural than the other two. Both of my nonfiction books are aimed at getting people to try things themselves and observe what happens, in their actual lives.

In a workshop with top officers of the U.S. military, I guided a meditation aimed at erasing all assumptions and using the senses to focus on what the individual was actually experiencing, for many minutes of silence. Trying to come at that experience as if for the first time, with no prejudgments, and observing without interpretation or naming. This is the shift one must make from the subconsciously-assumed materialism that is baked into us, in order to begin to realize that all we know exists for certain is our own consciousness. Making that shift based only on spiritual advice, or scientific theory/experimental findings, is very difficult. That’s why my version of YATU has mind experiments (and the companion volume is all mind experiments).

Another thing is different about my version. It explains in the lens of science exactly how conscious experience relates to the world of matter, in a way that anyone can understand and picture without the need for understanding advanced mathematics.

I recommend reading all three books, each comes at it from a different pov, and that itself is interesting. Also these three books with the same name are talking about the most important thing in life: What does it all mean?

When mainstream science gets the point of what we are saying in these books, it will be a bigger scientific renaissance than the world has seen.

Best to all,

Bill

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A Possible Explanation for Dark Energy and Dark Matter

Volume 4, Issue 15

I’m sitting in the outdoor roof bar of New York’s Catch restaurant down in the meat packing district. The incessant heavy metal beat of the Muzak is almost drowned out by the traffic sounds below and the murmurs of voices from the adjacent inside bar. A cool breeze beats the heat and humidity of the day, promising another thunderstorm. Here I sit writing and editing my next two posts.

Readers who like my more emotional, feeling-oriented posts are asked indulgence for posts like this in which I offer my scientific theories. Originally a math and physics major before turning to philosophy, I have always loved science. I read the works of leading physicists to keep up on the latest proven findings in the physical world in order to see if there are any hints to the unseen world, which I intuitively feel certain is there supporting the visible universe. After all, why should a universe this wondrous be limited to what one species on one planet happens to be able to see?

Invisible matter and energy have been detected based on their gravity fields, which affect the movements of nearby bodies that we can see. That’s how we know something is there.

These dark (actually transparent) entities make up 95% of the mass of the known universe. Scientific theory currently has not yet integrated these findings. It is this staggering recent finding that allowed science to answer the longstanding question of whether the universe would collapse or keep expanding forever. The perceivable universe will keep on expanding because it is being drawn out by the gravity of the dark masses.

Again, science has not yet got a theory or explanation for the dark masses. Here we will offer one based on my Theory of the Conscious Universe, as contained in You Are The Universe: Imagine That.

All that exists is a single spaceless point of self-awareness.

All that we see is a projection of that one biocomputer in a multidimensional hologram — kind of like an interactive video show with feelovision, smellavision, and tastovision. The substance being projected is information. The Observers receiving the projected information are an instance of the self-aware point. The one point is also projecting Itself outward into this hologram so as to experience it from many viewpoints.

All known observers are within the see-able universe, which make up 5% of its mass. Dark Matter makes up 25% and Dark Energy 70%. What are these dark entities?

Dark Energy is a good candidate for being the Operating System or software of the universe. The algorithms and instructions that take our intentions and integrate them into the flow of the overall universe as our actions in the interactive CosmopolyTM game.

Dark Matter is a good candidate for being Data Storage or firmware of the universe. The conversion tables, past and future results, potentially usable as a time machine, what Indian tradition calls the akashic records, the subconscious of the universe, that which is not on display in the Projection but still exists eternally.

Thanks to Frank Wilczek for his beautiful leading-edge science book The Lightness of Being: Mass, Ether, and the Unification of Forces, which is an awesome read and inspires me to see possible connections between leading-edge scientific thinking and my Theory of the Conscious Universe.

Best to all,

Bill

Follow my regular blog contribution at Jack Myers Media Network: In Terms of ROI. It is in the free section of the website at  Bill Harvey at MediaBizBloggers.com.

My new book, You Are The Universe: Imagine That is now available. Read an excerpt and watch videos of Bill talking about the book.

Truce Talks at the Border Between Science and the Spiritual

Volume 4, Issue 3

As science releases its restrictive thinking clamps, what then remains if anything of the supposed war between science and religion?

In our last conversation here, I explained that I see the “spiritual” as being historically the same domain as all inner experience, the same as consciousness. In my view our race began with this identity in mind across psyche, soul, personality, nous, and all the other terms that today we have separated into:

  • a grouping that is recently again accepted by science (the conscious mind) plus
  • a grouping that is largely ignored (the experiential dimension, which does not care how the underlying brain mechanics work but focuses on what it feels like from the inside and what options the conscious mind has in order to do something about its experiences), plus
  • a grouping that science has sniped at for centuries, which is the connection/relationship between the individual and divinity.

Of course it’s the divinity part that reductionist science has objected to. Occam’s Razor being itself only a heuristic hypothesis for reducing complexity to its minimum, is of course reflective in the end of a mere aesthetic preference for “elegance” over “complexity”. The Universe might not have the same aesthetic.

However, once science accepts the first grouping — consciousness as an actual reality phenomenon — where is the ground for science saying that the overall Universe might not itself be conscious the way we are? It is illogical to assume that consciousness exists but that it is somehow impossible for it to reside in places where some of us might not suspect.

Once you allow that proposition, then it is a very small further step to my Theory of the Conscious Universe, which is set forth in my upcoming book, You Are The Universe: Imagine That. All you have to add are the following premises:

  • Attention is one of the pivotal dimensions of consciousness.
  • Each of us present day Earth humans is living at a time of overwhelming information overload, maximizing the challenge to our newly-developed brains to pay attention to what is most important and not be distracted by mere distractions (Acceleritis).
  • Our minds operate by processing information.
  • The substrate hardware on which this information processing runs is the brain and nervous system in the matter realm, which corresponds to the operations and functions we sense through our experiential layer — our consciousness or spirit.
  • As with computers, our minds have certain processing power based on the underlying hardware and also on the degree of self-referential organizing we have done from within the experiential layer.
  • It is not only possible but likely that minds with far more processing power than present day Earth humans exist in the multiverse.
  • One can conceive of a mind with so much processing power that it can pay even more attention that an Earth human possesses, to each of more than one humanoid.
  • Amping up the latter point to virtual infinity there could be One Mind with enough processing power to be the sense of self within each of us, i.e. living through all of us simultaneously, with enough attention allocated to each of us to handle our experiences on Earth.

The spiritual methodologies from Yoga to Christian meditation to Sufism to the Jewish laying of tefellin and so on are all aimed at the cleansing and purification of automaticities we’ve purposely or accidentally set up as programs within us (brain and mind). Free of such programs, the awareness of our identity with the One Divinity becomes palpable.

Once this is understood, there is no reason for there to be any war between the spiritual and science. Hallelujah!

To be continued!

My best to you all,

Bill

Watch for my new book, You Are the Universe: Imagine That, coming soon.

For those interested in my work in the media business world you might want to check out this collection of videos.

Follow my regular blog contribution at Jack Myers Media Network: In Terms of ROI. It is in the free section of the website at  Bill Harvey at MediaBizBloggers.com.

To The Protectors

Volume 3, Issue 39

It is Veteran’s Day as I write this. On the way to the airport listening to the radio I heard the Mormon Tabernacle Choir doing a special show celebrating America and its war veterans.

Flashback to the 60s when certain protesters sometimes crossed the line to not only condemn the war but also the country itself with the moniker Amerika, sometimes substituting a swastika for the “k”. That saddened me.

We all make mistakes and sometimes they are big ones. This is true not only for individuals but also for groups of people like protesters, countries, corporations, even well-meaning nonprofits and religious institutions.

But the ideals of the Founding Fathers are unique among the articles of constitution for each of the 190+ nations on Earth. The U.S. Constitution is our Mission statement and our collective vision still. Protecting these ideals and this country that seeks to bring about a world based on these ideals is still a sacred trust.

Those who are warriors for any free nation, especially if they take that role voluntarily, are at least in part moved by a very high level of consciousness. The realization of something greater than oneself, and the urge to serve others. This can also be true of cops, firefighters, doctors, and many other vocations, even the oft-criticized paramilitary. Not every individual in these vocations is equally motivated by the idea of service and the will to protect, and that motivation can vary over time. But when one is in that headspace and heart space it is a form of the Flow state and attracts cosmic fire support — at least according to my Theory of the Conscious Universe, which is explored in my soon-to-be-published new book, You Are The Universe: Imagine That!

Most if not all of us would like to see an end to war, but this does not mean we should be unappreciative of the warriors. The prerequisites to ending war forever are not forever distant and unapproachable; in fact we are closer than ever to realizing these possibilities:

  1. Psychotechnology and education bring about better self-management and decision-making at an individual level everywhere, engendering sanity, clarity, perspective, menschness, and happiness.
  2. Science and technology release unlimited free energy by which there is plenty of whatever anyone might need or want, as in the “Culture” novels. With free energy we can afford to transport the Earth’s still abundant raw materials from where they are to where they are needed. Nicola Tesla was on the track of unlimited free energy a century ago and it is no further off than unlimited life extension. Perhaps another century will do the trick.
  3. Space travel provides enough room and raw materials to not have to fight over land.
  4. Medical science brings about the ultimate cures. Only a matter of time. Not soon enough to end the heartache in our lives but soon enough to remove great gobs of pain from the lives of our children’s children’s children.

It will all happen. If we don’t blow ourselves up or befoul the environment too much more between now and then.

In the meantime, here’s to the protectors. We still need them, and they deserve to be honored with our gratitude and deepest respect.

In that spirit, I’d like to share the lyrics to a song written by my friend Stan Satlin, who was inspired by Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass to write songs about the country he loves.

I Am an American

Chorus (repeats after each verse):

I am black and I am white, I'm yellow and brown
I am red white and blue, Yankee Doodle won't you come to town
I am the whole wide planet, rolled into one
I am a citizen of the world, I am an American

Verse 1:

I came from distant lands, to seek a better life
All I owned was on my back, by my side my wife
The work it wasn't easy, in the factory and the farm
But hope in me grew stronger, like the muscle in my arm               

Verse 2:

As I sailed across the ocean I was told of gold in the streets
When I arrived I soon found out not everything was sweet
I built the road and cities, from the east coast to the west
I've been tricked and cheated, but the land is still the best

Verse 3:

Some things are much better, some things still need change
I wish I could bring back some things, like buffalo on the range
I don't want to be a master or servant of any man
I just want to go on living my life, doing the best I can

And this, to honor the symbol that inspires our warriors, Old Ragged Flag, as told by Johnnie Cash: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vgpp0V7sDbE.

Best to all,

Bill

Follow my regular blog contribution at Jack Myers Media Network: In Terms of ROI. It is in the free section of the website at  Bill Harvey at MediaBizBloggers.com. 

Can Creativity Be Induced?

Volume 3, Issue 38

Waves booming, the expletives of gulls as they glide like white boomerangs buzzing us, scouting for handouts. I’m sitting with Lalita at breakfast on the terrace at the Malibu Beach Inn, reading The New York Times and I come across a book review reprinted from the Financial Times of London of the new book The Myths of Creativity: The Truth About How Innovative Companies and People Generate Great Ideas by David Burkus.

According to Burkus, taking the review at face value, Plato and the other dons of antiquity were deluded and superstitious in believing that creativity was conferred only on certain humans and that moments of inspiration were given to them by the gods; that even today the popular notion that an “Aha!” moment exists is foolishness, and that creativity really comes down to hard work by large numbers of people working together to generate “creative ideas”. To which my first thought is “Why does it have to be one way and not the other, why can’t there be some truth in all of these ideas?”

The author reportedly goes on to point out that the efforts by organizations to instill increased creativity often backfire, instead causing people to conform so as to belong to a new groupthink where they hold back ideas that they fear would rile the comfort of the tribe and thus cause themselves to become treated like outsiders. This part also has the ring of some truth in it, as I’ve been in such situations, though found myself and a few others quite willing to bear the risk of contrarian creativity.

The book deserves to be read before coming to any conclusions about it, and it surely provokes useful thought if even its review does so. Yet all books that take seeming black and white positions from the title forward would in my estimation have low likelihood of portraying the complexity of the real world as it exists. I will apologize in this space if after reading it I must eat those words, for the review is not the book, the map is not the territory, as S.I. Hayakawa liked to say.

In my practice both at Bill Harvey Consulting and at The Human Effectiveness Institute I’ve often been asked to lead workshops aimed at increasing individual and group creativity and performance. My book Mind Magic is specifically tasked at doing that, and one edition of the book was even experimentally titled Freeing Creative Effectiveness. So as you can see I have a dog in this race, and a potential axe to grind.   😀

Can I prove that I’ve ever induced creativity by a book or workshop or any other means? Alas, no scientific proof yet (we’ll do A/B testing at some point), although anecdotal circumstantial evidence abounds in thousands of letters from readers, including this review from Dan Goleman:

“Highly recommended… will loosen your moorings and open you to creative vistas.” — Dr. Daniel Goleman

Science of course considers individual reports subject to placebo effect and various other biases including the desire to be nice.

In group work, there have been similarly non-definitive measurements. When Richard Zackon and I did an ARF creativity workshop last year it got good scores from the participants and many nice emails. Several people even followed up with telephone consultations. And beyond kind words there has been evidence that one day’s worth of a creativity-inducing workshop has had major positive effect on the directions that leaders of major companies took soon afterward.

I was amazed at the creativity I found in high-ranking officers of two different military branches during workshops I led. In one war game I created, a female officer in charge of a powerful group of units took the bait of my scenario to find a solution even more creative than the one I was going to reveal at the end had nobody thought of it.

The placebo effect and its counterpart in groups, the Hawthorne Effect, suggest that false effects can be caused simply by paying special attention to people. And yet why call these effects “false”? If one can remove pain with salt water and the powers of the subconscious why not use it? If one can cause creative behavior with hand waving, why not take all you can get?

Coming back to the Myth of Creativity book, one of its conclusions ascribed by the review is that creativity is best fostered in organizations where it is challenged. Necessity is indeed the mother of invention, and compressing a spring or irritating an oyster analogies do apply to inducing creativity. I used to tell my team at a certain large agency that the repressive conduct of my boss at the time was an opportunity to be “creative within constraints”.

At the aforementioned ARF creativity workshop, we had the participants anonymously hand in ratings of their own organization on a ten-point scale of creativity repressiveness and siloed confusion. The range of scores we received covered practically the entire range from zero to ten. Take a look at your own organization and see what score you would give it.  🙂

Other than distributing our book and video to your team or doing our workshop, or doing similarly with other interveners from outside the organization, what else can you do? Guard against simulated creativity-inducing exercises, which can backfire. Give people autonomy within the bounds you feel each is equipped to handle and then give a bit more. Give people permission to try new things even if they might fail. When someone screws up, be kind yet honest. Don’t just simulate that, be authentic. Check the effect on target to be sure you’re not kidding yourself to make yourself feel good when you might have actually crushed them.

One way I found it easy to get bollixed organizations to be more creative is to interview the employees and get their creative ideas and then feed those ideas to the top person who can then take credit. That person was always the bottleneck and would only act on creative ideas if he/she could take credit for them. Before the intervention, good ideas had come up in meetings and been shot down, and months had passed until the top person was able to forget that the idea had been mentioned before, then putting it in new garb and “inventing” it as his/her idea. Thus the organization lurched forward, driven by organizational creativity with a delay cycle equal to how long it took the top person’s ego to forget and reinvent.

The notion that the “Aha!” moment is a fiction strikes me as funny. I have had this experience all my life, of ideas putting themselves together in a flash. Carl Jung and William James and many others define the intuition as the mind’s way of suddenly making logical connections among bits of information lying around. Saying that this process does not exist is amusing. Daniel Goleman’s description of the way the brain works at these moments would seem to add further veracity to the existence of “Aha!” moments in fact.

As to Plato’s being superstitious in considering that inspiration can come from levels above human consciousness, please see my new book when it comes out, You Are The Universe: Imagine That, which postulates that all observed phenomena including the paranormal and religious can be accounted for by my Theory of the Conscious Universe, in which we are all one Self living through many avatars, one biocomputer server networked to many clients. In that picture of reality, Plato could easily have been right.

Best to all,

Bill 

Follow my regular blog contribution at Jack Myers Media Network: In Terms of ROI. It is in the free section of the website at  Bill Harvey at MediaBizBloggers.com.