The universe appeared out of nowhere according to what some call science today. Everything fell into its own perfect place —matter, energy, and all the laws that govern them.

Only a few of us take time to question this hypothesis but it is well worth the contemplation because the truth of this statement will have an impact on what kind of life each one of us will choose to lead.

Thinking that the universe came out of nothing is a little like saying that whatever device you are using to read this article also appeared out of nowhere. Further, all the hardware, batteries, and programs running that device fell into perfect position governed by the laws of circuits that also came out of nothing. Rupert Sheldrake describes it like this:

It’s almost as if science said, ‘Give me one free miracle, and from there the entire thing will proceed with a seamless, causal explanation.’The one free miracle was the sudden appearance of all the matter and energy in the universe, with all the laws that govern it.

Seems crazy, right? We should step back for a moment. Before trying to find out if the universe is actually the result of a random event, it is worth asking, Why do we even care?

The answer is simple when we consider how our lives are affected by worldview.

If you believe that the universe came out of nothing, it may also be natural for you to feel somewhat isolated, alienated, lonely, and fearful. In this contractive, haphazardly created world, all of us would appear to be separate entities born without purpose or meaning. Life would primarily be about securing your survival even at the cost of others.

Now suppose you believed that a central force created the universe. A force that not only guides planets, stars, and all the celestial bodies in the cosmos but your life as well.

This expansive worldview for you would probably mean that all of us are one. We would not be separate entities living here to ensure our own survival. We would understand that the same force that resides in us, resides also in every other being. In a world like this, one feels more connected, loved, hopeful, and peaceful.

Sadly, for most of its existence, science has tended to validate the former worldview. The more scientists insist on a contractive worldview, the more one feels fearful and disconnected from a personal inner reality, a higher self, and a higher consciousness.

Think of all the people today who feel lonely, depressed, and disconnected from others. They probably have no insight about or into their higher selves. You can see this malaise in the people around you even if you don’t feel this yourself.

Yogis, saints, sages, and many religions confirm and embrace an expansive worldview. In yogic science, the force from which the universe came and the force that creates and guides life is understood to be Consciousness.

The universe is created and governed by Cosmic Consciousness just as our own lives are run by individual consciousness. Swami Kriyananda was once asked Three Questions. One question was, ‘Who is God?’  This is how he responded:

He is not a person. He is neither He nor She, and He is both He and She. He is everything our souls ever craved: perfect bliss, immortality, complete consciousness – Satchidananda, as He is defined by those who are familiar with the concept of absolute perfection. There is nothing and no one apart from Him. All that we see around us is but a part of a cosmic dream. Who is God may be paired with another, equal question: Who are we? For in our deepest reality, what is left when we strip away all superficial definitions is that germ of consciousness within. There, as Jesus Christ implied, lies the secret of God’s reality.

Skeptics might perhaps ask, ‘Why, then, hasn’t science been able to validate the existence of consciousness?’ Actually, I may have an answer to that question.

Looking for the Right Things in the Wrong Places

Mulla Nasreddin was a Sufi mystic who lived in the 13th century in present-day Turkey. His methods of teaching were not through sermons or repetition of scriptural knowledge. He used one of the most powerful teaching methods available — stories.

Nasreddin’s stories were full of jokes and humorous anecdotes, followed by a moral. Here is one of them:

Once Nasreddin lost his ring in the living room. He searched for it for a while, but since he could not find it, he went out into the yard and began to look there.

His wife, who saw what he was doing, asked: ‘Mulla, you lost your ring in the room, why are you looking for it in the yard?’

Mulla stroked his beard and said: ‘The room is too dark and I can’t see very well. I came out to the courtyard to look for my ring because there is much more light out here.

So many are like Nasreddin looking for proof of consciousness in all the wrong places. When looking in the wrong place, is it any wonder that its presence cannot be found or validated. Consciousness and matter are certainly not the same. We can see and measure matter but consciousness has to be experienced internally.

Researchers are looking for proof of consciousness outside themselves and in the material world. They try to look through a lens of the science of consciousness but do not dare consider or realize that consciousness is intangible and cannot be perceived with the brain, intellect, or the mind alone.

The room inside of us may be dark so we do not want to make the effort to look there. All the while, our efforts are wasted searching for Truth anywhere else outside of ourselves.

Consider this – A light bulb can shine light on everything around it but not on the power that actually illuminates it. You can see everything around you but you cannot see the consciousness or force that animates you. The ability to perceive this force is beyond the mind’s normal operations, beyond the limits of intellect, and beyond thought.

Some deny the presence of the reality of consciousness outside of ourselves since we cannot validate or contemplate it with the intellect. This, however, does not seem quite right, does it? Can you quantify or measure a mother’s love for a child? Does that mean that love is not there? Absolutely not –  and this is the case with consciousness.

Those Who Know, Just Know – Those Who Don’t, Don’t

I have been somewhat critical of science for its follies but there are prominent and progressive scientists who acknowledge the presence of this higher reality.

Max Planck was a Nobel Prize-winning German physicist known as the father of quantum theory. His seminal work in the field of theoretical physics led the way to many advances throughout the 20th century.

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. -Max Planck

Sir James Jeans, physicist, astronomer, and mathematician also stated:

The stream of knowledge is heading towards a non-mechanical reality; the Universe begins to look more like a great thought than like a great machine. Mind no longer appears to be an accidental intruder into the realm of matter… we ought rather to hail it as the creator and governor of the realm of matter. — Sir James Jeans, The Mysterious Universe

In an interview with The Observer, Jeans was asked if he believed that life on this planet was the result of an accident or some great scheme.

I incline to the idealistic theory that consciousness is fundamental and that the material universe is derivative from consciousness, not consciousness from the material universe… In general, the universe seems to me to be nearer to a great thought than to a great machine. It may well be, it seems to me, that each individual consciousness ought to be compared to a brain-cell in a universal mind.

Let me quote Einstein to bring more weight to my point. Einstein was the theoretical physicist who wanted to express God in an equation:

A human being is part of a whole, called by us the “universe,” a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest — a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.

Einstein wrote this in a letter as consolation to Robert S. Marcus, political director of the World Jewish Congress, whose young son had just died of polio.

Einstein often called his belief system a cosmic religion because for him “science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.” [1] Interesting right?

The Scientist Who Left Matter Consciousness

Eben Alexander became famous after Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife hit the New York Times bestseller list. Alexander shared and described his experience of the afterlife as he transitioned in and out of consciousness.

In 2008, he became ill with acute bacterial meningoencephalitis. ​​Meningitis affects the meninges, the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord and protect the central nervous system. Bacterial meningitis is the most serious type of meningitis. It can lead to death or permanent disability. His condition, with a rapid decline in neurologic function, conferred a 90% mortality rate. For one week he was in a coma, brain dead. Yet, on the seventh day, when he opened his eyes his expression was startling.  In a personal account he writes:

A family friend who was there could not get over how my amazed expression looked more like the astonished gaze of an infant, not like what one would expect from an adult returning from an unconscious state.

A person recovering from such a state is not expected to live, let alone remember experiences from the coma.

Thus, you can imagine my surprise at remembering an elaborate and rich odyssey from deep within coma that comprised more than 20,000 words by the time I had written it all down during the six weeks following my return from the hospital.

While I won’t go into the details of what he saw, he was clearly transported to a different level and reality of consciousness. For him, God seemed too puny a word to describe the power, majesty, and awe that he had experienced.

I originally referred to that deity as Om, the sound that I recalled from that realm as the resonance within infinity and eternity. -Eben Alexander

I am a disciple of Yogananda. I cannot help but think how true these experiences seem in the light of Yogananda’s teachings and yogic science.

All of Alexander’s experiences could be conveniently disregarded as hallucinations. This is what the traditional scientific community has been doing for ages. Yet, he argues:

The conventional reductive materialist (physicalist) model embraced by many in the scientific community, including its assumption that the physical brain creates consciousness and that our human existence is birth-to-death and nothing more, is fundamentally flawed.

For Alexander, the world will never be the same. He wants to convince the scientific community to graduate from kindergarten and explore the realm and possibilities of consciousness.

Those who get a glimpse of such consciousness cannot stop talking about it as you can see from Alexander’s experience. His experience is hardly a hallucination and is as real as the material universe around us. Near-Death Experiences (NDEs) have long remained a source of mystery for science. They are unexplainable.

Key characteristics of such NDEs include a sense of profound peace, of unconditional love, of leaving the physical body, and of light.

Alexander himself came up with several models in neurophysiology and neuroanatomy, but none could explain what he experienced.

A Way to Know & Find the Truth

NDEs are not the only way you can go into such states.

There is a scientific method that yogis and sages have experienced and have been teaching for millennia — meditation.

It is possible through meditation to calm the senses, still the body, mind, and thoughts. Once you are able to accomplish this (a herculean task in itself), you can realize that you are in fact, more than your body, mind, or thoughts – you are consciousness. This same consciousness manifests its reality in all objects of creation – animate or inanimate.

Descartes said, “I think, therefore I am.” Yogis would say, “When I stop thinking, then I really am.”

Yogis would also affirm that this reality or level of consciousness is the only goal worth striving and it is this reality that is the ultimate frontier of human development.

[1] Interestingly, though Einstein wanted God on a piece of paper, he also realized that if he created a near-perfect equation, it would be useless. It would be like describing Mozart’s music in the form of sound waves. You could potentially do it but would you really be able to grasp the spirit and the meaning of the music?

Original Post: Shivendra Nath Misra, anandadelhi.org, November 23, 2021

 

5 Comments

  1. This is an awesome article. Thank you for sharing this beautiful point of view.

  2. I really appreciate your article. I learned that science has for its basis a matter centered understanding of the universe but that this theory is fundamentally flawed; that there are great scientists who believe otherwise; that there are near death experiences that demonstrate the brain does not create reality; and that there is a way for people to experience that same reality that people experience in a near death experience through yoga. I thought you wrote beautifully and clearly and I can see this article helping many people that have doubts about religion or mediation.

  3. Hi Shivendra!

    This is a good blog post! Thank you for sharing an explanation of consciousness.

    Joy to you,
    viraj

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