TOWARD A SCIENCE OF CONSCIOUSNESS
The Tucson Conference 2014 - 20th Anniversary
APRIl 21-26, 2014 Tucson - University Park Marriott
under the direction of the Center for CONSCIOUSNESS STUDIES, University of Arizona
The Reality Problem: Can Science Become Enlightened?
Date: Monday, April 21, 2014
Session: 7:30 - 10:00 pm
Room: Grand Ballroom
Optional Dinner: 6:30-7:30 pm
Deepak Chopra, MD
New York Times Bestselling Author
Founder, The Chopra Foundation
Science goes where reality leads it, but what happens when reality itself comes under question? Since the quantum revolution over a century ago, the solid, tangible nature of reality has been undermined. Scientists were faced with three linked mysteries that are only now being seen as inseparably linked:
- What is the nature of the universe?
- What is the nature of consciousness?
- What is the origin of both the universe and consciousness?
The era has ended when consciousness and the universe could be treated as separate and unrelated. Once accepted as independent, material reality depends on observation – the “measurement problem” in quantum mechanics. Accordingly, mind/consciousness/ awareness can no longer be considered epiphenomenal, a complex product of brain processes having no bearing on reality.
We are forced to rethink such basic questions as which came first, mind or matter? In Western philosophy details of the material world are “constructed” by the brain, but this perceived reality is considered incomplete and inaccurate. As a given, the physical world is primary, while conscious perception and action are viewed as secondary (if not a brain-created illusion). But this view, which cannot demonstrate how matter learned to think, leaves us lost at sea.
However, in Eastern wisdom traditions, particularly Vedanta, the scheme is reversed: consciousness is primary, giving rise to the physical universe. Experiential exploration of consciousness has been a pursuit of the sages and rishis for thousands of years. This workshop with Deepak Chopra will examine this experiential understanding of consciousness, with the aim of lending scientific credibility to the hypothesis that bringing forth the material world starting with mind is much more likely, given all the evidence, than trying to bring forth mind form inert interstellar dust.
On the way to making the case for “consciousness first,” the following issues will be considered:
- Can exploring consciousness through spiritual methodologies lead to some of the same insights as science?
- Can the conscious observer and ‘self’ be understood through introspection - self awareness, self reflection, transcendence, and conscious choice making and intentional self - observation?
- Is there a difference between perceptual experience and fundamental reality?
- Where do consciousness and conscious experience occur?
- In Vedanta, reality changes as consciousness expands. What brain states in neuroscience correlate with different states of consciousness?
- Enlightenment or nondual awareness also referred to as liberation (moksha), has been the ultimate goal of life in Vedanta. How does this state of unity bear upon modern science?
Juxtaposing science and enlightenment, which would have scandalized a previous generation of cosmologists, now verges on being totally necessary. Without it, cherished theories like the Big Bang and the Standard Model of quantum mechanics are threatened with collapse.
In Vedanta and other spiritual traditions, expanding consciousness leads to a transcendent domain that precedes time and space. Cosmologists are seeking a pre-created state that seems amazingly similar. The advantage of a “consciousness first” approach is that it includes, as innate qualities of reality, the values of truth, beauty, evolution, love, compassion, joy, equanimity and loss of fear of death. In other words, creation has built into it both purpose and meaning. This skirts the insurmountable problem of how to derive purpose and meaning from a random universe evolving by chance collisions of elementary particles and the explosion of supernovae.
Beyond the ordinary states of waking, dreaming and sleeping, Vedanta posits various other states of consciousness that directly bear upon the reality a person perceives (including persons who happen to be scientists): pure consciousness, cosmic consciousness, refined cosmic consciousness and unity consciousness. These are stages in a centuries-old journey to enlightenment. Each stage is marked by a shift in cognition, perception, memory, emotions and the sense of self. They are the ingredients that create the reality we experience as human beings, and although physicalists are reluctant to admit it, if there is a reality beyond human experience, it is totally closed off to us, literally inconceivable within the constraints of space, time, and the human brain.
To validate that these higher states of consciousness aren’t simply subjective (with the connotations that they are shifting, illusory, religious, or possibly delusional), we will cover widely validated experiences of synchronicity, intuition, and “Aha” moments of discovery. They are the best hints we have, outside Eastern traditions, that a single, overarching consciousness – cosmic mind – weaves together the fabric of observer, observed, and process of observation, making them parts of a single process: consciousness interacting with itself. In a word, humans are self-aware because the cosmos is self-aware.
The workshop will discuss theoretical topics but also take attendees through various meditation techniques to gain experiential insight into these ideas. Harnessing the power of synchronicity can be achieved by the sutras taught in yogic traditions as a means to shifting from local to nonlocal awareness.
In the end, once the outmoded biases of Western science are overcome and the exoticism of Eastern spirituality is brought down to earth, a huge barrier will be smashed. When consciousness is all that really matters, science and enlightenment are reaching for the same truth.
Deepak Chopra is the Founder of the Chopra Foundation, and Cofounder and Chairman of the Chopra Center for Wellbeing in Carlsbad, California. He is a columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle and Washington Post On Faith and contributes regularly to Oprah.com, Intent.com, and Huffington Post.
Chopra is known as a prolific author of more than seventy-five books with twenty one New York Times best sellers in both fiction and non fiction. A global force in the field of human empowerment, Dr. Chopra’s books have been published in more than thirty five languages. His New York Times bestsellers, “Peace Is the Way “ received the Religion and Spirituality Quill Award in 2005, and “The Book of Secrets: Unlocking the Hidden Dimensions of Your Life” was awarded the Grand Prize in the 2005 Nautilus Awards. His latest New York Times bestsellers include "Super Brain: Unleashing the Explosive Power of your Mind to maximize Health, Happiness, and Spiritual Well Being", "War of the Worldviews", “Reinventing the Body, Resurrecting the Soul”, and “Spiritual Solutions - Answers To Life's Greatest Problems” His book , The Soul of Leadership, was mentioned as one of five best business books to read for your career FINS - Wall Street Journal.
His innovative mobile programs Stress Free and Yoga and Vook’s Deepak’s Buddha Guide and Sages and Scientists applications provide an avenue to explore the world of Deepak Chopra. Released on Mother’s Day 2010, the new multi-media project, “The Mother-Infant Bond: The Biology of Love”, produced by TheVisualMD.com with a consortium of partners, reveals never-before-seen scientific visuals depicting the extraordinary biological bond between mother and baby.
Deepak Chopra's popularity as an international presenter and keynote speaker is exemplified in an impressive list of honorariums. Chopra is the recipient of the 2010 GOI Peace Award, 2010, Starlite Humanitarian Award, 2010 Art for Life Honoree, 2009 Oceana Partners Award, 2006 Ellis Island Medal of Honor presented by the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations Foundation, and 2006 Trailblazer Award by the Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine, 2002 Einstein Humanitarian Award through Albert Einstein College of Medicine in collaboration with the American Journal of Psychotherapy. He participates annually as a lecturer at the Update in Internal Medicine event sponsored by Harvard Medical School, Department of Continuing Education and the Department of Medicine, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center since 1997. Dr. Chopra is a fellow of the American College of Physicians, a member of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, and an Adjunct Professor of Executive Programs at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.