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Brahman (the undifferentiated consciousness of the void) is the only truth, the world is an illusion (an animation of images projected from a holographic screen to the central focal point of an observer), and there is ultimately no difference between Atman (the central point of differentiated consciousness of the observer) and Brahman (the undifferentiated consciousness of the void).
Awakening is only about the focus of attention of consciousness. If the observer's focus of attention is focused on the survival and welfare of its character in an emotionally biased, self-defensive, controlling, interfering, self-centered and character-favored way, the observer feels self-limited to the form of its character as it perceives the emotional body feelings expressed by its character and mistakenly identifies itself with the animated form of its character, even though that emotionally animated form is no more real than an animated image projected from a screen to the observer's central point of view. If the observer surrenders and puts its trust in the normal flow of things to sort out what is for the best, stops trying to defend its character or control or interfere with the normal flow of things, and allows the actions of its character to come into alignment with the normal flow of things, the observer enters into the integrated state with its feelings of connection and expressions of creativity. If the observer turns the focus of its attention away from its world and character and shifts its focus of attention onto its own sense of being present as a presence of consciousness at the central point of view of its world, ultimately de-animating its world as the withdrawal of the observer's focus of attention from its world is the withdrawal of its investment of animating emotional energy, the observer awakens to the true nature of what it really is.
The individual (Atmanic) consciousness of the observer in some mysterious way arises at a point of view from what can best be called the undifferentiated (Brahmanic) consciousness of the void. Conscious intention expressed in the observer's accelerated reference frame creates and energizes the observer's world, while withdrawal of that energy in a freely falling reference frame, as the observer withdraws the focus of its attention from its world, implies the disappearance of its world. This scenario only makes sense if every observer has its own observable world, which can appear to come into existence in an accelerated reference frame or disappear from existence in a freely falling reference frame, but always from the observer's own point of view.
The process of surrender is integrally related to the process of detachment. With surrender, one becomes willing to give up one's desire to defend one's character-based self-concept in an emotionally biased and controlling way. With detachment, one becomes willing to give up one's desire to hold onto things in an emotionally biased and possessive way. With detachment, one becomes willing to let go and sever one's possessive attachment to things. Detachment leads to the end of possessive love just as surrender leads to the experience of non-possessive love. Detachment also allows the observer to shift the focus of its attention away from its world and character and onto its own sense of being present for its world at the central point of view of its world.
Surrender and detachment are like a dying process that leads to a death/rebirth transformation. Whenever an emotional attachment is severed, it feels like something dies inside. What dies away is the observer's emotional or false self-identification with its character, and what is reborn is the observer's realization that the true nature of its identity is with consciousness itself.
With the ascension of consciousness, the observer sees that every observable thing in its world, including the animated form of its character and all character-based self-concepts it has about itself as emotionally constructed in its mind, is like an animated image projected from a screen to its point of view outside the screen. The only thing the observer can take with itself with the ascension of its consciousness to an ascended point of view is its own sense of being present.
Contemplation is all about looking within. When one looks within the first thing one sees is one's own self-referential thoughts, which are the basis for one's character-based concept of self as the self-concept is related to the concept of some other thing in one's world with some kind of an emotional response to that thing. There are only two kinds of emotional responses: emotional attachments to the things we want to possess, control and hold onto, which are things that reinforce and promote our concept of self as something important, powerful and admired by others, and self-defensive responses to or against whatever threatens our concept of self, which are responses of fear and anger and ways of defending the self-concept against those threats by attempting to defeat, resist or control them. These self-referential thoughts are always dualistic.
Self-referential thoughts and the self-concept can only arise in an antagonistic, possessive or controlling emotional relationship between self and other, where the concept of self is always character-based. The expression of fear and anger are all about the desire to fight against and blame others in the defense of self, while the expression of the desire to possess and control things are all about the desire to have power over others, force their subservience, or gain their admiration. These dualistic self-referential thoughts are what one first sees when one looks within. The path of awakening is to reject and stop expressing dualistic self-referential thoughts. One rejects them when one sees their inherent falseness as a concept of self. One cannot be what one can observe. One cannot be the animated character one observes in one's world and therefore no character-based emotionally animated concept of self can be true. One can only be the observer of one's world, but the observer is not really a part of its world anymore than an observer of a movie can be an animated image projected from a movie screen to the observer's point of view outside the screen in the audience. This naturally leads to a shift in one's focus of attention as one focuses on one's own sense of being present as an observer of one's world, which is only a point of view at the center of one's world.
The observer is always a silent observer and does not really think any thoughts. Mentally constructed self-referential thoughts are just another emotionally energized image projected from the screen to the observer. Only emotional bias in one's focus of attention can emotionally energize and reinforce the mental construction of one's self-concept with the expression of biased emotions. In order for one to shift one's focus of attention onto one's own sense of being present, it is not enough to reject one's emotionally energized dualistic self-referential thoughts as false, but one must also stop emotionally energizing and expressing them. One must become willing to surrender, stop defending one's concept of self, and become willing to detach oneself from things and sever one's emotional attachments to things. One surrenders when one puts one's trust in the normal flow of things to sort out what is for the best, stops trying to control things, and stops interfering with the normal flow of things in an emotionally biased way. One detaches oneself from things when one becomes willing to let go and sever one's emotional attachment to things. Surrender and detachment in the process of looking within are the only way that one can shift one's focus of attention onto one's own sense of being present and know oneself as a silent observer. Surrender, detachment and looking within are the only way that one can:
Be still and know who I am.
The observer can only identify itself with its character if its focus of attention is focused on its world and character in an emotionally biased self-defensive and character-favored way. The detachment and surrender processes allow the observer to know itself only as a focal point of consciousness at the central point of view of its world. These processes also lead to the ascension of the observer's consciousness as the observer sees that all the images of its world are projected from a screen like the animated images of a movie projected from a screen to the observer's central point of view outside the screen. The observer becomes aware that it is not really in the movie, but always outside, only perceiving the movie. The observer also becomes aware that it is its own light of consciousness emanating from its own point of view that projects the images of the movie from the screen like the light of a movie projector. With this enlightenment experience, the observer is no longer able to emotionally identify itself with the projected and emotionally animated image of its character. When the surrender and detachment processes are finished, the observer finally awakens to the true nature of what it really is. The observer's consciousness ultimately returns to the one source of consciousness.
With full awakening, when the dreamer finally awakens from its dream, everything in the dreamer's dream-world disappears and only the true nature of the dreamer remains. Nothing remains. Only the ultimate, underlying reality remains. The differentiated consciousness of the observer ultimately returns to and reunites itself with the undifferentiated consciousness of the void.

Consciousness Isn’t Scientifically Explainable

There’s a lot of confusion about what consciousness is because the content of consciousness is often confused with the nature of observing consciousness. The content of consciousness is what is observable, while observing consciousness is the observer. The content of consciousness includes everything that can be observed in the observable world, but it also includes mental content like thoughts and memories. Mental content that can be observed in our minds like thoughts and memories are complicated since they’re internally or brain generated, but so too are sensory perceptions of the external world. It all gets filtered through our brains, which act like information processors, while organs of sensory perception in our bodies act like information conduits. The problem is no matter how information is conveyed or processed into perceptions, there’s no credible scientific brain explanation for how organized forms of information or mental images are perceived by observing consciousness. There’s no brain theory of the observer.

Universal Observer

Only theoretical physics has anything meaningful to say about the nature of the observer in a scientific sense. In relativity theory, the observer is only a point of view, specifically the point of origin of a coordinate system or frame of reference. Relativity theory can’t say what observing consciousness is, but that point of view is where the observer is present. In quantum theory, the observer is a means by which the quantum state of potentiality, which is a sum over all possible outcomes of any event, is reduced to an observable state of actuality, which is the outcome that is actually observed. When you come to a fork in the road, you have to take one path or the other. You have to make a choice. Until you make that choice there is the potentiality to choose either path. Once you make the choice you’ve chosen to follow an actual path. Quantum theory implicitly assumes that it is the observer that makes the choice. Once the choice is made, that outcome is what is actually observed. In quantum theory this sum over all possible outcomes can also be expressed as a sum over all possible paths.

Quantum State of Potentiality/Sum over all Paths

How can we reconcile the nature of the relativistic observer with the quantum observer? The answer is the unification of quantum theory with relativity theory. There is only one known way to unify quantum theory with relativity theory, which is called the holographic principle of modern physics. The holographic principle is the fundamental basis for all theories of quantum gravity that accomplish this unification. For those not familiar with the holographic principle, the recent book by Amanda Gefter: Trespassing on Einstein’s Lawn explains why this must be so. Gefter interviewed the best theoretical physicists in the world that work in the area of quantum gravity, and after much deep thought about what they told her, came to the logical conclusion that only the holographic principle allows for unification. It’s a worthwhile exercise to read her book and follow her line of reasoning and logical analysis that leads to this conclusion.

Why is this relevant to a discussion of the observing consciousness of an observer and why there can never be a scientific or brain theory for the observer? The problem boils down to the nature of the world and the laws of physics that govern the behavior of things in the world. The space-time geometry of the world is governed by Einstein’s field equations for the space-time metric. The space-time metric specifies the curvature of space-time geometry, which is the nature of gravity. The other fundamental forces of nature, which are the electromagnetic and the strong and weak nuclear forces, are governed by a set of quantum field theories that are called the standard model of particle physics. The usual method of unification goes forward through the Kaluza-Klein mechanism of extra compactified dimensions of space and super-symmetry, in which all the fundamental forces are understood to arise from Einstein’s field equations as extra components of the space-time metric. What we understand as an elementary particle is really a quantum field that arises as an extra component of the space-time metric. We understand that an elementary particle is a quantum excitation of the field, which is a wave-packet of field energy localized in space and time. The force of gravity arises due to the curvature of space-time geometry in the extended 3+1 dimensions of space-time, while elementary particles and the fundamental forces of electromagnetism and the nuclear forces arise due to the curvature of space-time geometry with extra compactified dimensions of space and with super-symmetry. This explains the nature of the space-time geometry of the world and the matter and energy in the world.

Einstein’s Field Equations for the Space-time Metric

The big unsolvable problem is to try to explain the nature of the observing consciousness of the observer from these scientific theories of the physical world. Elementary particles can bind together into atoms and molecules, which can bind together into the brain cells we call neurons, which can bind together into the structures of the brain. The synaptic activity of the brain is really nothing more than electromagnetic signals exchanged between neurons, which arise in the flow of electromagnetic energy through the brain. All this synaptic activity is governed by the laws of physics. This may explain the nature of information processing in the brain that gives rise to organized forms of information or mental images, like the kind of information processing that occurs inside a computer, but it doesn’t explain the nature of the observer of those mental images. A computer can generate images based on the way information becomes organized inside the computer, but a computer can never observe those images. A computer screen can display those images based on the way bits of information are organized within pixels on the screen, but the computer screen can never observe those images The only way the computer images are ever observed is if the computer screen projects the images to an observer outside the screen. This projection of images from a screen to an observer outside the screen is called a screen output. Nothing that occurs inside the computer can explain the nature of the observer.

Screen Output/The Observer, the Screen and the Thing

The laws of physics can only explain how information becomes organized within the world into the observable forms of information or images, but can never explain the nature of the observer of those images, no more than the way information becomes organized in a computer can explain the nature of the observer outside a computer screen that observes the images projected from the screen to the observer, and yet physics has something important to tell us about the nature of the observer. The fantastic thing about the holographic principle is it reconciles the relativistic observer with the quantum observer. Whenever an observer enters into an accelerated frame of reference, an event horizon arises that limits the observer’s observation of things in space. An accelerated observer’s horizon is as far out in space as the observer can see things in space.

Accelerated Frame of Reference/Observer’s Horizon

When the holographic principle is applied to the observer’s event horizon, the horizon acts like a holographic screen that encodes bits of information like a computer screen, and like a computer screen projects observable images to the point of view of the observer outside the screen. Everything the observer can observe in its world, including all sensory perceptions of that world and all mental images like thoughts and memories, are projected from the observer’s holographic screen to its point of view outside the screen. Not only is the nature of all matter and energy in that world projected from the screen, but the space-time geometry of that world is also projected from the screen to the observer’s point of view. Each projection of observable images from the screen to the observer is like a screen output from a computer screen. The observer’s point of view is always outside the screen at the central point of view of its own world.

Universal Observer

The observer’s accelerated frame of reference is often represented by an accelerated world-line, which is the path the observer appears to follow through the space-time geometry of its world. In reality, the observer goes nowhere. The observer is always present at the central point of view of its own world. It only appears the observer follows the path of a world-line through its world due to the projection of the space-time geometry of its world and all the images of things in its world from its holographic screen to its central point of view. Each holographic projection is the observer’s choice about what to observe and which path to follow. With each choice, the observer chooses to follow an actual path and make actual observations of things as the quantum state of potentiality of its holographic screen is reduced to an observable state of actuality. The observer only makes its choices with its focus of attention on the observable images of its world. The observer’s focus of attention is what allows it to make its choices. Each choice is a decision point on its path.

Decision Point

To understand why the observer’s point of view is the central point of view of its own world it’s necessary to discuss how the observer’s world is created in the first place. All theories of the big bang event rely on the idea of dark energy. In relativity theory dark energy or a cosmological constant is understood to give rise to the accelerated expansion of space that always expands relative to the central point of view of an observer. Dark energy is what puts the “bang” in the big bang event, which gives rise to the accelerated expansion of the universe. Due to dark energy, space appears to expand away from the observer at an accelerated rate, faster the farther out the observer looks into space. Due to the limitation of the speed of light, which is the maximal rate of information transfer in three dimensional space, the two dimensional surface of a cosmic horizon arises that limits the observer’s observation of things in three dimensional space. At the surface of the cosmic horizon space appears to expand away from the observer at the speed of light. Since nothing can travel faster than the speed of light through three dimensional space, nothing is observable beyond the observer’s cosmic horizon. The odd thing about the accelerated expansion of space that arises with dark energy is every observer is at the central point of view of its own world, which is the singularity of its own big bang event.

Accelerated Expansion of Space

If the holographic principle is applied to the observer’s cosmic horizon, the horizon encodes bits of information in a binary code of 1’s and 0’s. It’s as though the horizon is covered with pixels, where each pixel encodes a bit of information like a computer screen. The holographic principle arises naturally with non-commutative geometry, which is a way of specifying a finite number, n, of position coordinates on the horizon. These n position coordinates are no longer infinitesimal points, but are smeared out into area elements like pixels, where the natural pixel size is about a Planck area. This is a natural way of quantizing space-time geometry. The total number of pixels is given in terms of the surface area of the horizon as n=(Surface area)/4(Planck area). In non-commutative geometry the n bits of information encoded on the horizon are specified by the n eigenvalues of an SU(n) matrix. Each bit of information is like a spin variable that can only point up or down, and like a computer switch that can only turn on or off, encodes information in a binary code.

Holographic Principle

When the holographic principle is applied to an observer’s cosmic horizon, the horizon acts like a holographic screen that projects all the three dimensional images of the observer’s world to the observer’s central point of view. This tells us that every observer is at the central point of view of its own world, which is the singularity of its own big bang event. Everything the observer can observe in its own world is a projection of images from its own holographic screen. Every observable thing the observer can observe in its world reduces down to a configuration state of information encoded on its own holographic screen, but there is a big problem with this analysis.

The Observer, the Screen and the Thing

What projects the images from the observer’s holographic screen to the observer’s central point of view? The answer can’t be physical light or electromagnetic radiation since physical light is only an organized form of information encoded as a configuration state of information on the holographic screen. A photon is a quantum of electromagnetic field energy, and all the bits of information for this observable form are encoded on the observer’s holographic screen along with all the bits of information for everything else the observer can observe in its world. There must be another kind of light that projects the images from the observer’s holographic screen to its central point of view. This other kind of light can be called the light of consciousness, which can be understood as the observer’s focus of attention on the projected images of its world. The observer’s own light of consciousness must emanate from its own focal point of consciousness and become projected back to itself in the process of observing the observable images of its world as those images are projected from its own holographic screen to its own point of view.

Singularity/Light of Consciousness

If each observer has its own observable world defined by the way bits of information are encoded on its own holographic screen, then how can we understand a consensual reality shared by many observers? The answer is the kind of information sharing we see in a network of overlapping screens like the internet. Each observer’s own holographic screen can share information with the screens of other observers to the degree those screens overlap in the sense of a Venn diagram. This is possible because the cosmic horizons of different observers can overlap. Many observers can only share a consensual reality because of information sharing.

Overlapping Bounded Spaces

How do the laws of physics arise that apparently govern the behavior of everything the observer can possibly observe in its own world? The answer is the laws of physics only emerge in that world as thermal averages, which are called thermodynamic equations of state. It’s fairly easy to show that Einstein’s field equations for the space-time metric arise as thermal averages from the holographic principle based on the way bits of information are encoded on the observer’s horizon, which is the nature of entropy, and the absolute temperature of the horizon. Einstein’s field equations for the metric describe the behavior of the dynamical space-time geometry of the observer’s world, which is an observable aspect of that world. Einstein’s field equations only apply to the bulk 3+1 dimensional space-time geometry of that world, which can only arise as a holographic projection from the observer’s holographic screen. In the same way, the quantum field theories of the standard model of particle physics also arise as thermal averages when the Kaluza-Klein mechanism of extra compactified dimensions of space and super-symmetry are applied to Einstein’s field equations. What we observe as elementary particles are really only localized wave-packets of field energy, and these quantum fields are only extra components of the space-time metric, which arise as thermal averages. All of these observable things are in reality only the holographic projection of images from the observer’s holographic screen to its central point of view. That’s the nature of a holographic world.

Elementary Particle/Localized Wave-packet of Field Energy

How do we understand the flow of time? The answer is the normal flow of energy through the observer’s world that animates everything in its world. The normal flow of energy through the observer’s world is what allows things to obey the laws of physics in the sense of following the path of least action. The path of least action is like the shortest distance between two points in the information configuration space. The quantum state of potentiality for the observer’s holographic screen is defined by all possible ways in which bits of information can become encoded on the screen, and the path of least action is the natural path or world-line for the observer to follow. This happens naturally as long as the choices the observer makes that reduce the quantum state of potentiality to an observable state of actuality are made in an unbiased or random way. The normal flow of energy is what animates the observer’s world in the sense of a sequence of holographic projections or screen outputs that become ordered in the flow of energy. An ordered sequence of holographic projections is the normal course of time, which naturally arises in the sense animation like the animation of the images of a movie projected from a computer screen to an observer over a sequence of screen outputs.

Normal Flow of Energy

How does the normal flow of energy through the observer’s world arise? All theories of the big bang event assume an instability in the nature of dark energy that gives rise to the normal flow of energy through the world. Each state of the world is characterized by a non-zero value of dark energy that gives rise to the observer’s cosmic horizon. These are not stable states, but are only metastable states. The only truly stable state has a zero value for dark energy. The transition from a higher value of dark energy to a lower value is like a phase transition in which some dark energy burns away and heat is radiated away. As dark energy transitions to a lower value, the observer’s cosmic horizon inflates in size, since the radius of the cosmic horizon is inversely related to the amount of dark energy in the observer’s world. The absolute temperature of the observer’s horizon also cools in temperature as it inflates in size since its temperature is inversely related to its radius. This phase transition is like a transition from a metastable false vacuum state to a more stable vacuum state of lower energy. As the transition goes forward, the observer’s cosmic horizon inflates in size and cools in temperature. This temperature gradient is what drives the normal flow of energy through the observer’s world as dark energy burns away, heat is radiated away, and the observer’s horizon inflates in size and cools in temperature. The normal flow of energy arises as heat flows from hotter states to colder states of the observer’s world, which naturally occurs as dark energy transitions to a lower value. The true vacuum state, which has absolute stability, is characterized by a zero value of dark energy. As dark energy in the observer’s world burns away to zero and heat is radiated away to infinity, the observer’s cosmic horizon inflates in size to infinity and cools in temperature to absolute zero, which leads to a state of absolute stability. This state of absolute stability, which is the true vacuum state, is the end of holographic projection, the end of animation, and the end of time.

Metastable False Vacuum State

The holographic principle is able to explain the nature of everything observable in the world, but it cannot explain the nature of the observing consciousness of the observer of that world or how the observable images of that world are projected from the observer’s holographic screen to its central point of view outside the screen. We have to assume the independent existence of the observer at the central point of view and the observer’s own light of consciousness that emanates from this focal point of consciousness and projects observable images from the observer’s holographic screen to its point of view in the process of observing them. There is no other way around this quandary except to give the observing consciousness of the observer and the observer’s light of consciousness its own independent existence. The existence of the observing consciousness of the observer must be independent of the apparent existence of whatever appears to occur in its observable world.

In actuality, we have a trinity of perceiving consciousness, which is an observer observing images its own observable world and mind. The observable images are defined by the way bits of information are organized into the form of configuration states of information on the observer’s holographic screen; an observing event like a screen output is defined by the projection of images from the observer’s screen to the observer’s point of view with the emanation of the observer’s own light of consciousness like the light of a movie projector that projects movie images from a screen to an observer out in the audience; and the observing consciousness of the observer is present at its own central point of view outside the screen. The whole science of physics is only about the way bits of information are encoded on the screen and organized into form. Relativity theory and quantum theory as they describe the nature of space-time geometry and all matter and energy are only about what appears to happen in the world in terms of how bits of information are encoded and organized on the screen. The remarkable thing is the holographic principle implies Einstein’s field equations for the space-time metric, which describes the nature of the space-time geometry of the observer’s world, and implies the standard model of particle physics in terms of quantum field theory, which describes the nature of matter and energy in that world, but space-time geometry and matter and energy are only a holographic projection from the screen to the observer. Science really has nothing to say about the nature of the observer’s observing consciousness or the holographic projection of observable images from the screen to the observer.

Illusion and Reality

This is what science is really telling us about the nature of the observer’s observing consciousness. The observing consciousness of the observer cannot be scientifically explained. It isn’t scientifically explainable. Scientific explanations are limited to how information is encoded and organized on an observer’s holographic screen. That’s the nature of what’s observable. The nature of the observer’s observing consciousness isn’t scientifically explainable.

Hero’s Journey

The observer is not really a part of its world anymore than an observer out in an audience is a part of a movie it observes as animated images of the movie are projected from the screen to the observer. The observer only falsely believes that it is part of the observable world it observes. That false belief is called a self-concept, which is only mentally constructed as the observer falsely identifies itself with the animated form of its character that it observes in its world. This false process of self-identification is inherently emotional in nature, as the perception of emotions is what makes the observer feel self-limited to the emotionally energized form of its character. Inherent in every self-concept is emotional energy that keeps the observer identifying itself with its character. This can only occur because the observer feels self-limited to the emotionally energized form of its character as it perceives the self-limiting emotions that relate its character to other things in its world. The character-based emotionally energized self-concept is always dualistic and self-referential. The emotionally energized mentally-constructed self-concept is false since the observer cannot be any observable thing that it can perceive in its world. It’s really not a part of the show it perceives, but is always out in the audience only watching the show.

Why does the observer believe this false belief about itself and identify itself with its character? The observer only believes it is a part of the world it perceives and identifies itself with its character in that world because that’s the way it feels as it perceives the flow of emotional energy that animates the form of its character, which makes it feel self-limited to that animated form. Logic tells it that it cannot be anything that it can perceive, but it trusts its emotions and believes them even though they’re irrational. Believing a false belief is delusional. The only thing that makes delusional beliefs believable is the irrational emotions that energize them. Just as seeing is believing, feeling is believing, especially when those feelings arise from irrational emotions.

If self-identification of consciousness with form is false, why does it even happen? An observer becomes self-identified with form as an inevitable consequence of being alive. The only way a living life-form can self-replicate its form is if the life-form expresses self-defensive emotions. The expression of self-defensive emotions has to become built into the system of the living organism for the life-form to live. This leads the presence of consciousness that observes the behavior of the life-form and that perceives the flow of animating emotional energy through the life-form to identify itself with the life-form, since the observer really feels self-limited to the life-form rather than the observer knowing itself only as the presence of consciousness at a point of view outside the screen to which that animated self-replicating form is projected. Once the observer identifies itself with the life-form, it becomes a prisoner. The focus of its attention becomes directed in emotionally biased ways on defending the survival of the life-form as though its existence depends on. This leads to a vicious cycle. Self-defensive emotions are constantly expressed, which perpetuates the observer’s tendency to identify itself with the life-form. This emotional bias gives rise to the mental construction and expression of emotionally energized, delusional, dualistic, self-referential thoughts from which a character-based self-concept arises in relation to the concept of other things in the observer’s world. In reality, the observer is never a part of its world, but is always outside in the audience, only observing events in that world from its own point of view to which it projects the animated images of that world from its own screen.

Truth Destroys Illusions

Science has absolutely nothing to say about the nature of an observer’s observing consciousness except that it arises at the central point of view of its world in relation to the observer’s holographic screen, which is an event horizon that arises in the observer’s accelerated frame of reference, and that the observer is a means by which the quantum state of potentiality of the observer’s holographic screen is reduced to an observable state of actuality, which is the observer’s choice about what to observe in its world. The observing consciousness of the observer and the light of consciousness of the observer have an existence that is independent of the apparent existence of whatever appears to happen in the observer’s world. The independent existence of the observer’s consciousness isn’t scientifically explainable, but it is always present to observe its observable world.

♦♦♦

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Is God One or Three?

Richard Rohr has written a book about the Trinity, where he states God is both One and Three. He also states this idea of God cannot be understood conceptually, but at some level can be directly experienced. How is it possible that something is beyond understanding but can be experienced? Rohr is also very interested in the connection between science and spirituality. Remarkably, there is a scientific way to understand how God can be both One and Three.

Universal Observer

The idea of the Trinity is found in both eastern and western thought, as is the idea God as One. What’s truly remarkable is that there is a fairly straightforward, natural and scientific way to conceptualize God as One and Three in terms of the holographic principle of modern physics.

Horizon Information

Although not generally recognized, modern physics as formulated in terms of the concepts of dark energy and the holographic principle can explain this connection in a way that’s consistent with everything we scientifically know about the world. For those not familiar with the concepts of dark energy and the holographic principle, the recent book by Amanda Gefter: Trespassing on Einstein’s Lawn discusses the holographic principle in the context of dark energy and modern cosmology and explores the logical implications of these concepts at a very deep level. This brief article will also explore these ideas and give an overview of what they imply in terms of science and spirituality. The upshot is that God is both One and Three, just as Rohr says.

Measure of All Things

The basic problem is that when we say God is One we mean that in some sense God is the undifferentiated source of everything. Along the same lines of reasoning that Gefter uses to understand this source in the context of modern physics and cosmology, this source must be infinite and undifferentiated. Everything that we can observe in the observable world in some sense is differentiated from this source. Since this source of everything observable in the world cannot itself be some observable thing that we can observe in the world, it must be nothing observable, which can only be described as the primordial nothingness or void from which everything arises through some kind of a differentiation process. When we say God is One we’re referring to this primordial, undifferentiated, infinite nothingness that is the source of everything observable in the world including the world itself. This primordial nothingness is God in its ultimate, infinite, undifferentiated, formless form. Since this primordial nothingness must also be the source of the perceiving consciousness that we have that allows us to observe the observable things in the world, and since our perceiving consciousness must somehow become differentiated from the primordial nothingness as we perceive things in the world, it’s natural to understand the primordial nothingness as undifferentiated consciousness. Our own individual consciousness, as observers of the observable things, must in some sense become differentiated from this source of undifferentiated consciousness just as the observable things in some way are differentiated from the source.

Motion of the Spheres

So what does it mean to say God is Three? The answer is that in the process of the creation of an observable world, the differentiated consciousness of the observer must arise in relation to the observable things in that world through a process of observing them. This defines the Trinity of perceiving consciousness in the relation of the observer observing the observable things. This Trinity of perceiving consciousness is differentiated from its source of undifferentiated consciousness in the process of creating and observing an observable world. Since this Trinity of perceiving consciousness itself becomes differentiated from its source of undifferentiated consciousness, it’s natural to say God is One in its ultimate, infinite, undifferentiated, formless form, while God is Three in its differentiated, finite form. This process of differentiation naturally occurs with the creation and energetic animation of an observable world and with the differentiation of an observer’s consciousness observing that world. In the non-dualistic language of Advaita, the ultimate nature of God as One is the undifferentiated consciousness of the void, which can be called Brahmanic consciousness, while the nature of God as Three can be called the Atmanic consciousness of an individual observer observing its observable world. In the famous words of Shankara: “Ultimately there is no difference between Atman and Brahman”.

Atman-Brahman

As Gefter explains in her book, the key to understanding these ideas in terms of modern physics is to apply the holographic principle to modern cosmology. The basic idea is to understand that before the big bang creation event that creates an observable world and that simultaneously gives rise to the differentiated consciousness of the observer of that world, only the infinite primordial nothingness of the void exists, which is to say only undifferentiated consciousness exists before the world is created. All theories of the big bang creation event rely on the idea of dark energy. In relativity theory dark energy is understood as the accelerated expansion of space that always expands relative to the central point of view of an observer. In relativity theory the force of gravity is understood in the sense of the curvature of space-time geometry as the contraction of space, while the force of dark energy is understood as the accelerated expansion of space, which is a kind of anti-gravity. In the sense of the big bang, the central point of view of the observer is understood as the singularity of the big bang event. Due to dark energy space appears to expand away from the observer at the central point of view at an accelerated rate, faster the farther out the observer looks into space. At some point space appears to expand away from the observer at the speed of light, but due to the limitation of the speed of light as a means of information transfer in three dimensional space, that point is as far out in space as the observer can see things in space. This point defines the two dimensional surface of a cosmic horizon that surrounds the observer at the central point of view. Nothing is observable to the observer beyond the cosmic horizon.

Accelerated Expansion of Space

The holographic principle naturally arises if we apply non-commutative geometry to the surface of the cosmic horizon, which is a natural way of quantizing space-time geometry. Instead of locating position coordinates on the horizon with infinitesimal points, non-commutative geometry smears out those position coordinates into area elements that act like pixels on the surface. The natural pixel size is about a Planck area. Just like the pixels on a computer screen, each area element on the surface of the horizon encodes a bit of information in a binary code of 1’s and 0’s. This happens naturally in non-commutative geometry since the normal way to define bits of information is in terms of the n eigenvalues of an SU(n) matrix, where the value of n is specified in terms of the horizon surface area as n=(Surface area)/4(Planck area). Each bit of information is like a spin variable that can either point up or down, which is like a computer switch that is either on or off, thereby encoding information in a binary code.

Holographic Principle

The holographic principle is a radical idea since it implies that all observations of things in our apparent three dimensional world are like the projection of holographic images from a two dimensional screen to an observer at the central point of view, much like the observation of images projected from a computer screen to the point of view of an observer. Those images arise from configuration states of information defined on the screen. Holography is only possible since there is a kind of coherent organization of information that arises from the entanglement of information. All the bits of information encoded on the screen are entangled since they arise as the n entangled eigenvalues of an SU(n) matrix. The other radical aspect of the holographic principle is it implies that each observer has its own holographic screen defined by the way bits of information are encoded on its own cosmic horizon. In other words, every observer observes its own observable world as images of that world are projected from its own holographic screen.

The Observer, the Screen and the Thing

How then is it possible for many observers to share a consensual reality? The answer is the kind of information sharing that we see in a network of overlapping screens like the internet. Each observer can share information with other observers to the degree their respective holographic screens overlap in the sense of a Venn diagram, which is possible because their cosmic horizons overlap. We only share a consensual reality because of information sharing.

Overlapping Bounded Spaces

In the sense of relativity theory, Gefter defines the observer as an accelerated frame of reference, which occurs naturally in the context of the big bang creation event due to the accelerated expansion of space that occurs with the expenditure of dark energy that gives rise to an observer’s cosmic horizon. The cosmic horizon always arises relative to the central point of view of the observer. This central point of view is the origin of the observer’s frame of reference, which is the singularity of the big bang creation event. In the sense of relativity theory the observer is an accelerated frame of reference that can only arise with the expenditure of dark energy.

Observer’s Accelerated Frame of Reference

In the sense of quantum theory the observer is a means by which the quantum state of potentiality is reduced to an observable state of actuality. The quantum state of potentiality is defined by all ways in which bits of information can become encoded on the observer’s holographic screen, while the observable state of actuality is defined by the actual configuration state of information that gives rise to the observable images projected from the screen to the observer’s central point of view. The sum over all ways in which bits of information can become encoded on the screen is equivalent to a sum over all possible paths through the information configuration space, where each possible path is an observer’s world-line. The most likely path in the sense of quantum probability is the path of least action, which is like the shortest distance between two points in the configuration space and is the normal path for the observer to follow. In some mysterious way, the perceiving consciousness of the observer arises at this point of view while the observable images are projected from the screen in a process of observing them.

Quantum State of Potentiality/Sum over all Paths

But there is even a bigger mystery. What projects the images? Just like the light of a movie projector is needed to project the images of a movie from a screen to an observer, or the light of laser is needed to project the images of a physical hologram, another kind of light is needed to project the images from a holographic screen to the central point of view of the observer. This light can be called the light of consciousness that emanates from the observer’s own central point of view. Another way to describe the light of consciousness is as the observer’s focus of attention on the images of its world, which emanates from its own focal point of consciousness and is reflected back to itself in the process of projecting images from its own holographic screen. But the biggest mystery of all is what gives rise to the observer’s holographic screen and the differentiated consciousness of the observer at the central point of view, which can only arise in an accelerated frame of reference with the accelerated expansion of space as dark energy is expended. The only possible answer is the undifferentiated consciousness of the void.

Singularity/Light of Consciousness

Remarkably, all of these ideas are represented in the first few lines of Genesis:

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth
And the earth was without form and void
And darkness was upon the face of the deep
And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters
And God said ‘Let there be light’; and there was light
And God saw the light, that it was good
And God divided the light from the darkness

Scientific Translation:

God in its primordial infinite, undifferentiated, ultimate formless form is the undifferentiated consciousness of the void. This is God as One. The void is the darkness, the deep or the abyss. The creation of the world in a big bang event only occurs with the expenditure of dark energy. The face of the deep is a cosmic horizon that arises with this expenditure of dark energy and the accelerated expansion of space, which is the nature of the observer’s accelerated frame of reference. The observer’s horizon acts as a holographic screen that projects the observable images of its world to the observer’s central point of view. The differentiated consciousness of the observer is the Spirit of God, which is God as Three or the Trinity of the observer observing its observable world. The motion of the Spirit of God is an observer in an accelerated frame of reference. That accelerated frame of reference or motion is what gives rise to the observer’s cosmic horizon. Emanating from the observer’s focal point of consciousness is the observer’s focus of attention on the projected images of its world, which is the light of consciousness that is reflected back to the observer in the process of projecting images from its holographic screen and observing them. The light of consciousness is good because of the feelings of connection or unconditional love that naturally arise with the creation of a holographic world These feelings of connection are due to the alignment of the flow of energy through all things in that world, which naturally arises due to the entanglement of information on the observer’s holographic screen, which is to say everything is connected to everything else. This is the normal way for energy to flow through the observer’s world.

Normal Flow of Energy

This experience of love for the creation is why God the One created a world for God the Three to love. In the process of that creation, God the One divided the light of consciousness of the observer from the darkness of the void through the differentiation of the observer’s consciousness. When this differentiation process comes to an end, God the Three must return to God the One. In physics this is called a freely falling frame of reference that must occur when the expenditure of all energy comes to an end. Ultimately, God the Three must return to and reunite itself with God the One.

God the One is the beginning and the end. God the One is what exists before an observable world is created and appears to come into existence, and God the One is what exists after an observable world comes to an end and disappears from existence. God the Three is only present to observe that observable world during the time span of its creation, which is only for as long as energy continues to flow through that world and animate things in that world.

The Hero’s Journey

There are a number of interesting points that are worth making about this analysis:

1. God the One, which can only be understood as the undifferentiated consciousness of the void, is the ultimate nature of reality, but is beyond the reality of an observer and its observable world, sort of like a higher dimension is beyond a lower dimension. The reality of an observer observing an observable world is more like a virtual reality that arises within ultimate reality. The analogy of the world as a virtual reality is quite perfect, since all the observable images of the observer’s world are projected from a holographic screen to the observer’s central point of view. The process of observing those images is a process of holographic projection, which tells us the projection process can only arise with the observer’s own light of consciousness that projects the images from the screen back to the observer’s point of view like the projected images of a movie projected from a screen to the point of view of an observer out in the audience.

Illusion and Reality

2. Understanding that an observable world can only arise within God the One explains why all things are within God. The exception to this statement is the observer itself, which as Genesis says is the Spirit of God. The Spirit of God can return to and reunite itself with God the One for the simple reason that the individual consciousness of the observer is differentiated from the undifferentiated consciousness of the void, and that reunion must occur when that process of differentiation comes to an end. This reunion always occurs through a process of looking within, which makes sense once we understand the observer’s world is a holographic world. In the same way, the observer is not really a part of its world anymore than an observer out in an audience is a part of a movie it is watching as animated images of the movie are projected from the screen to the observer. The observer only falsely believes that it is part of the observable world that it observes. That false belief is called a self-concept, which can only arise as the observer falsely identifies itself with the animated image of its character in its world. This false process of self-identification is inherently emotional in nature, as the perception of emotions is what makes the observer feel self-limited to the emotionally energized form of its character.

Truth Destroys Illusion

3. Inherent in every self-concept is emotional energy that keeps the observer identifying itself with its character. The process of looking within is the only way of bringing that expression of self-identifying emotional energy to an end, which is the only way the Spirit of God can reunite itself with God the One. When one looks within the first things one sees are false self-concepts that lead the observer to emotionally and falsely identify itself with its character. This can only occur because the observer feels self-limited to the emotionally energized form of its character as it perceives the expression of self-limiting emotions that relate its character to other things in its world. The mentally constructed character-based emotionally energized self-concept is always dualistic and self-referential. The process of awakening only begins when the observer clearly sees the falseness of emotionally energized self-concepts. The observer cannot be any observable thing that it can perceive in its world. Awakening only goes forward through a process of surrender and detachment in the process of looking within, which ultimately results in a shift in the observer’s focus of attention away from the mental construction of its character-based self-concept and onto its own sense of being present as a presence of consciousness. As the observer withdraws the focus of its attention away from its world, it also withdraws its investment of emotional energy that mentally constructs and animates its character-based self-concept. This awakening process only goes forward with surrender and detachment, which is the observer’s willingness to give up and let go. With surrender the observer gives up its desire to control things in an emotionally biased and character-favored or self-defensive way. The observer stops interfering with the normal flow of things and allows the flow of energy to come into alignment, which it perceives as feelings of connection. With detachment the observer severs its emotional attachment to things, lets go, and allows things to freely come and go. The observer sees things with a sense of distance, which is the ascension of its consciousness to a higher level. The observer no longer sees itself as something that is a part of the show it perceives, but has come out of the show and can only know itself as a silent observer perceiving the show. The ultimate awakening only occurs when the show comes to an end and the differentiated consciousness of the observer returns to and reunites itself with the undifferentiated consciousness of the void.

Plato’s Cave

4. Understanding the observer’s world is a holographic world explains how the observer’s world is created in the first place and why that world appears to be governed by the laws of physics. There are no laws of physics in ultimate reality. There’s no such thing as a Theory of Everything. The laws of physics emerge in the world as the observer’s world is created. That’s part of the differentiation process. This creation process is understood in terms of geometric mechanisms. It all has to begin with the expression of dark energy, which is the energy that puts the “bang” in the big bang event. In relativity theory, dark energy is understood as the accelerated expansion of space that always appears to expand relative to the central point of view of an observer. Relativity theory also tells us this central point of view is the singularity of the big bang event. Due to the limitation of the speed of light as a means of information transfer in three dimensional space, a cosmic horizon arises that limits the observer’s observation of things in space. The observer’s cosmic horizon is as far out in space as the observer can see things in space. If non-commutative geometry is applied to the observer’s horizon as a way of specifying position coordinates on the horizon, those position coordinates are no longer points but are smeared out into area elements like pixels on a screen. This is a way of quantizing position coordinates on the screen. Non-commutative geometry tells us that each pixel encodes a bit of information in a binary code of 1’s and 0’s like pixels on a computer screen. This gives a natural explanation for how the holographic principle comes into effect. There’s one last idea needed to fully understand the holographic principle, which is the idea of holographic projection. Everything the observer can observe in its world is like a projection of images from the observer’s holographic screen to the observer’s central point of view. We understand those observable images are specified by configuration states of information encoded on the screen, but the images can only be observed through a process of projection from the screen. Just as the light of a movie projector is required to project the images of a movie from a screen, the observer’s own light of consciousness is required to project images from the observer’s holographic screen to its point of view.

Holographic Projection

5. Holographic projection tells us that everything the observer can observe in its world is only a projection from its own holographic screen. This includes the dynamical space-time geometry of the observer’s world. That is the essence of the holographic principle. The space-time geometry of the observer’s world is only a holographic projection. This dynamical space-time geometry appears to obey Einstein’s field equations for the space-time metric, which is the nature of gravity. It’s fairly easy to show that Einstein’s field equations for the metric arise from the holographic principle as thermal averages or thermodynamic equations of state due to the way bits of information (entropy) are encoded on the holographic screen and the absolute temperature of the screen. This is an emergent property of the holographic principle. The dynamical space-time geometry of the observer’s world is an observable aspect of the bulk 3+1 dimensional holographic world that is projected from the observer’s two dimensional holographic screen to the observer’s central point of view over a sequence of holographic projections, where each projection is like a screen output from a computer screen. A sequence of screen outputs explains the nature of animation, which is the nature of time. Even the idea of an elementary particle like an electron is a holographic projection. In quantum field theory, we understand an elementary particle is a wave-packet of field energy, but unification of the laws of physics tells us these quantum fields are really only extra components of the space-time metric that arise through the usual unification mechanisms of super-symmetry and the Kaluza-Klein mechanism of extra compactified dimensions of space. Since Einstein’s field equations for the space-time metric only arise as thermal averages, the quantum fields for the electromagnetic, strong and weak nuclear forces also arise as thermal averages. What we observe as elementary particles are only a thermal average description of the world that arise as holographic projections.

Einstein’s Field Equations for the Space-time Metric

Does an omniscient God contradict free will? The answer is no, but this is really an incorrect question. The nature of free will has to do with the focus of attention of consciousness. The first few lines of Genesis state the individual consciousness of the observer is the Spirit of God. The nature of divine will is an unbiased expression of God’s will, which gives rise to the normal flow of energy through the world that animates all things. The critical point is that divine will is always unbiased, while the expression of individual will becomes emotionally biased. If the focus of attention of an observer’s individual consciousness becomes emotionally biased in favor of its self-concept or ego, this is an interference with the normal flow of energy through all things that interferes with the expression of divine will. Emotional bias in an observer’s focus of attention has a scientific basis in terms of quantum theory. The quantum state of potentiality is a sum over all possible outcomes, which gives rise to an interference pattern. An actual outcome is always a choice that must choose one of these possible outcomes from the quantum state.

Decision-point

The normal flow of energy through the world is what allows things to obey the laws of physics in the sense of following the path of least action, but that can only occur with unbiased or random choice. If there is emotional bias in the way the choices are made due to emotional bias in an observer’s focus of attention, then this expression of emotionally biased free will is always an interference with the expression of divine will and the normal flow of energy through all things. This kind of emotionally biased interference is always an expression of ego that obstructs the normal flow of things. If you want to lose your ego, then you must surrender to and put your trust in divine will. Genesis says the normal flow of things is good, since it leads to the best of all possible worlds. Only one’s surrender to divine will can lead to freedom from one’s ego and give rise to feelings of connection and unconditional love that arise as the flow of energy comes into alignment. This kind of death/rebirth transformation is what it means to die to one’s false character-based self-concept and be reborn to one’s true spiritual identity.

If God is truly omniscient and all knowing, then God is the totality of all consciousness. This kind of omniscient knowledge doesn’t just include past, present and future, but all possible outcomes in the sense of a quantum state of potentiality. On the other hand, individual consciousness can only know about whatever outcome is actually chosen from the quantum state right now. This may seem confusing since the actual outcome chosen right now includes memory of the past and anticipation of the future, but it’s still a right now choice. Individual consciousness and the expression of free will is only about the actual choice that is made right now, while omniscient consciousness is about all possible choices that can be made at all possible times. Omniscient consciousness is about the potentiality of all possible choices while individual consciousness and free will are only about the actuality of a given choice, so there is no contradiction between them. Actuality is only a subset of potentiality, and so it makes no sense to try to reconcile them. Genesis tells us that the individual consciousness of the observer is always differentiated from the totality of undifferentiated consciousness of God in the sense that the light of consciousness of the observer is divided from the darkness of the void. God as One can truly be omniscient and yet God as Three can express free will. This is possible since God as One is outside of time, beyond the time-bound world, and makes no choices, while God as Three expresses its choices within time and the world. However, God as Three can only reunite itself with God as One if it gives up its desire to express free will and surrenders to the divine will of God as One.

If these ideas don’t blow your mind away, I don’t know what will.

♦♦♦

Consciousness and the Thermodynamics of Life

It’s important to examine our assumptions when discussing the behavior of a living biological organism in terms of entropy, energy, or any other thermodynamic concept. It’s widely accepted that the most fundamental scientific concept we have in physics is the holographic principle. This isn’t just a string theory idea. Gerard ‘t Hooft has expressed open hostility toward string theory and yet he accepts the holographic principle as the most fundamental scientific concept we have (Susskind). There is general agreement among people who work in string theory (Bousso) and most people who work in loop quantum gravity (Smolin) that the holographic principle is our most fundamental principle. This conclusion is quite general and is not dependent on any particular theory. As both ‘t Hooft and Tom Banks have argued (Gefter), the holographic principle is automatically in effect when non-commutative geometry is applied to a bounding surface of space, which in the sense of relativity theory is an event horizon that arises in an observer’s accelerated frame of reference (Madore). String theory, loop quantum gravity and all possible theories of quantum gravity are probably special cases of non-commutative geometry. The only possible way to put the quantum in space-time geometry is to express space-time coordinates as non-commuting variables. These non-commuting space-time coordinates give rise to the bits of information encoded on a bounding surface of space that we call entropy.

Horizon Information

This is important when we discuss the entropy of a living biological organism with the ability to express all the complex behaviors we call emotions. Not only is the behavior of a biological organism far away from thermodynamic equilibrium, but that behavior can only arise through some kind of critical phenomena or symmetry breaking, like a phase transition. Unlike a physical phase transition, like the freezing of water or the melting of ice, which is dependent on the flow of heat in a thermal gradient, biological symmetry breaking is more complex because it also depends on the addition of potential energy to the organism (Kauffman). The flow of heat is nothing more than kinetic energy at a microscopic level, which we tend to conceptualize as the motion of point particles, like the electron and photon. We also conceptualize potential energy as the tendency of particles to bind together under the influence of a fundamental force, like an electron that binds to the composite particle we call a proton under the influence of the electromagnetic force, or the quarks that bind together into a proton under the influence of the strong nuclear force. We then attribute entropy to these point particles, which is the idea of quantum information. The problem is this conceptualization can at best be an approximation of the holographic principle, which tells us that all the fundamental bits of information are really encoded on a bounding surface of space in a binary code of 1’s and 0’s. Kinetic energy arises from the tendency of bits of information to flip back and forth between 1 and 0, like spin variables that tend to flip back and forth between the up and down spin positions due to their thermal energy, while potential energy arises from the tendency of bits of information to align. This tendency for alignment is a natural consequence of non-commutative geometry, which typically formalizes the n bits of information encoded on a bounding surface of space in terms of the n eigenvalues of an SU(n) matrix (Madore). Since these n bits of information are entangled, they naturally tend to align, like in a spin network (Penrose).

Entanglement and Spooky Action at a Distance

We can understand the complex behavior of living biological organisms as arising through the phenomena of symmetry breaking due to the alignment of these bits of information, but there is always a balance between competing critical phenomena. For example, photosynthesis in a plant involves both the construction of carbohydrate molecules, as the energy of an absorbed photon is converted into a high energy chemical bond, and the burning of carbohydrate molecules, as the energy of that chemical bond is released and utilized to perform useful work, like the plant turning toward the sun so that it can absorb more photons and grow.

Normal Flow of Energy

The construction of the carbohydrate molecule is an example of biological symmetry breaking that requires the addition of potential energy to the organism, which is obtained through the absorption of the photon. The plant is then able to express a desire to absorb more photons and grow as it burns the carbohydrate molecule and uses some of that released energy to turn toward the sun, which is the performance of useful work in terms of the growth of the plant. The expressed desire to turn toward the sun has a useful purpose for the plant, which is to absorb more photons and grow. That’s really the only significant difference between a physical phase transition, which is solely dependent on the flow of heat, and an example of biological symmetry breaking, which always requires the addition of potential energy. The emotional behavior of a living biological organism is complex because there is always a balance between competing critical phenomena, which in the example of the plant is the balance between the construction and burning of carbohydrate molecules, but this behavior is emotionally directed toward the growth of the plant, which is necessary for the plant’s survival. Although we can conceptualize this process in terms the motion and organized behavior of point particles, like electrons and photons, the more fundamental description is in terms of the holographic principle.

Holographic Principle

The holographic principle tells us the point particle description is at best a thermal average with a limited range of validity. This fundamental principle tells us the n bits of information encoded on a bounding surface of space are specified in terms of the surface area A of the bounding surface as n=A/4(Planck area), where the Planck area is ℓ²=ħG/c³. The bounding surface also has an absolute temperature, which for a spherical surface of radius R is given as kT=ħc/2πR. The maximal entropy of everything that can be observed within that bounded space is given as S=kn. Ted Jacobson has shown using the fundamental relation between the flow of heat and a change in entropy, ΔQ=TΔS, that the observable space-time geometry of that bounded region of space is only described by Einstein’s field equations for the space-time metric in the sense of a thermal average or a thermodynamic equation of state valid near thermal equilibrium (Jacobson).

Horizon Entropy

The reason Einstein’s field equations arise from the holographic principle as a thermal average is quite simple. As heat flows across a bounding surface of space, the maximal entropy of that bounded region of space must change, which implies a change in the surface area of the bounding surface, which implies a change in the space-time geometry of the bounded space. Einstein’s field equations for the space-time metric only describe the space-time geometry of that bounded region of space in the sense of a thermal average. The holographic principle is more fundamental than gravity as it implies that gravity only arises as a thermal average. If we apply the usual unification mechanisms of supersymmetry and the Kaluza-Klein mechanism of extra compactified dimensions of space to Einstein’s field equations for the metric (Zee), we then end up with a field theory that looks like 11-dimensional super-gravity (Greene), which includes the fundamental forces of gravity, electromagnetism, and the strong and weak nuclear interactions. All the usual quantum fields of the standard model of particle physics are included in this description. The problem is this point particle description is only a thermal average with a limited range of validity, which is a low energy limit. The quantum field for any point particle is understood as an extra component of the space-time metric, and a particle excitation is understood as a wave-packet of field energy. The point particles of electrons and photons, which are the quantums of the Dirac and electromagnetic fields, are in reality no more fundamental than phonons or the quantum of sound waves.

Einstein’s Field Equations for the Space-time Metric

There is a big mystery about the holographic principle that we need to address if we really want to understand the complex emotional behaviors of living biological organisms. This mystery is the nature of dark energy, which is the accelerated or exponential expansion of space that always expands relative to the central point of view of an observer (Gefter). Due to the limitation of the speed of light, which is like the maximal rate of information transfer in three dimensional space, a cosmic horizon surrounds the observer at the central point of view and limits the observer’s observations within that bounded space. The cosmic horizon acts as a holographic screen that encodes all the fundamental bits of information for everything the observer at the central point of view can observe in that bounded region of space. Everything the observer can observe in that bounded region of space is like a projection of an image from the holographic screen to the observer’s central point of view (Susskind). This holographic projection process can be called a screen output. Not only is the image of every perceivable thing projected from the screen, but those images are also animated over a sequence of screen outputs, just like the animation of a movie on a computer screen. This holographic projection and animation process requires energy.

Accelerated Expansion of Space

This energy must come from dark energy (Gefter), which is the energy that puts the “bang” in the big bang event and creates the observer’s world in the first place. In the sense of inflationary cosmology, the normal flow of energy through the observer’s world, which animates all projected images, can only arise as dark energy burns away and heat is radiated away to infinity. We understand this burning away of dark energy as an example of symmetry breaking. A non-zero value of dark energy is always defined in a metastable or false vacuum state, and the burning away of dark energy occurs in a phase transition, as the value of dark energy transitions to a more stable state of lower energy. This is really no different than burning a carbohydrate molecule.

Ying Yang Balance

The total energy of this dark energy burning process always adds up to zero, since the negative potential energy of gravitational attraction exactly cancels out dark energy and all other forms of positive energy like mass energy. Cosmic observations indicate not only a non-zero value for dark energy but also the total energy of the observable universe is exactly zero. In this burning process, heat is radiated away, and the observer’s cosmic horizon inflates in size and cools in temperature. This burning process is what gives rise to the thermal gradient that drives the normal flow of energy through the observer’s world. The complex emotional behavior of biological organisms arise in the normal flow of this animating energy. We really have no good explanation for the nature of these metastable or false vacuum states, except life and the complex emotional behaviors of living organisms could not occur without them.

Metastable State

Amanda Gefter has argued (Gefter) that ultimate reality must be invariant for all observers. Based on this self-evident axiom she has then concluded: Nothing is ultimately real. This conclusion is irrefutable in a holographic world where everything an observer can possibly observe arises from configuration states of information encoded on a holographic screen, which is always an observer-dependent event horizon that arises in the observer’s accelerated frame of reference. Since the observer’s world is ultimately defined on an observer-dependent cosmic horizon that arises with dark energy and the accelerated expansion of space, every possible observable thing in the observer’s world is observer-dependent and depends on the observer’s frame of reference. Nothing observable in that world can then be invariant for all observers, and so Nothing is ultimately real. This statement can be read like an optical illusion. Either there is no such thing as ultimate reality, or ultimate reality does exist, but it can only be described as the primordial nothingness. This primordial nothingness must be infinite and undifferentiated. The big mysteries are: how does dark energy arise from the primordial nothingness in the first place to create the observer’s world in a big bang event, and how does the differentiated consciousness of the observer arise at the central point of view in relation to the observer’s horizon? The absolutely mysterious thing about the observer’s consciousness is that relativity theory tells us the observer’s central point of view is the singularity of the big bang.

Singularity

Trying to explain reality in terms of the laws of physics is putting the cart before the horse. The laws of physics describe the behavior of the world in a probabilistic sense, but they can only emerge as thermal averages from the holographic principle, which in turn can only come into effect when bits of information are encoded on a bounding surface of space when non-commutative geometry is applied to the surface. This is always an observer-centric description of the world. The bounding surface of space is an event horizon that arises in the observer’s accelerated reference frame, which for an observer’s world can only be understood as a cosmic horizon that arises with dark energy and the exponential expansion of space that always expands relative to the central point of view of the observer. Dark energy is the horse and the laws of physics are the cart.

Paradox

The big mysteries are: how does dark energy arise from the primordial nothingness and create the observer’s world in the first place, and how does the differentiated consciousness of the observer arise from this primordial undifferentiated nothingness at the central point of view of the observer’s world as that observable world is holographically constructed on the observer’s cosmic horizon? The primordial nothingness is the beginning and the end. It is what exists before dark energy is expended and the observer’s world appears to come into existence and begins, and it is what exists after all dark energy burns away and the observer’s world appears to go out of existence and ends.

Atman-Brahman

There is another mystery that needs to be discussed. The observer’s holographic screen is always described by a quantum state of potentiality that is like a sum over all possible configuration states or ways bits of information can become encoded on the screen. In any screen output, a choice must be made as a particular configuration state of information is chosen from the quantum state. In physics this is called a quantum state reduction. Who chooses? Physics assumes the choices are made randomly or in an unbiased way. Random choice is the only thing that gives the laws of physics their predictability. If bias arises in the way choices are made, then all bets are off and the laws of physics lose their predictability. If we conceptualize the quantum state as a sum over all possible paths through the information configuration space, then only random choice can give rise to the path of least action as the most likely path in the sense of quantum probability. The path of least action is the classical limit, which is like the shortest distance between two points in a curved space-time geometry. Even the idea of a thermal average relies on random choice.

Sum Over all Possible Paths

What if bias arises in the way choices are made? Who would make those biased choices? Only the observer at the central point of view of its own world can make choices with its focus of attention on things. All the bits of information for everything the observer can observe in its world are encoded on the observer’s holographic screen. Images of things are projected to the observer’s central point of view in a screen output and are animated over a sequence of screen outputs. Each screen output is a choice that chooses a particular configuration state of information from the quantum state. If emotional bias arises in the observer’s focus of attention on those observable things, there is the possibility that bias can arise in the way the choices are made. Emotional bias in the observer’s focus of attention could give rise to the expression of biased emotions, which like a positive feedback loop could then further bias the observer’s focus of attention on things.

Universal Observer

Things are more complicated than this scenario, since there is the possibility of information sharing among many observers, like the kind of information sharing we see in a network of screens, like the internet. Each observer’s holographic screen can share information with the screens of other observers to the degree those screens overlap in the sense of a Venn diagram. This is possible since every observer is at the central point of view of its own cosmic horizon, and the horizons of many different observers can overlap and share information (Gefter).

Overlapping Bounded Spaces

The universe is not at thermal equilibrium. We can’t even really speak about the universe per se, only about an observer’s world (Gefter). Each observer’s world is defined on its own holographic screen that encodes all the bits of information that specify the configuration states of everything the observer can observe in its world. The observable images of those things are projected from the observer’s screen to the observer’s central point of view in a screen output and animated over a sequence of screen outputs, just like the animation of a movie on a computer screen.

The Observer, the Screen and the Thing

The observer itself is only a focal point of perceiving consciousness at the central point of view of its world. Everything the observer can perceive in its world, including the animated image of its character in that world, is projected from its screen. This holographic projection and animation process is only possible because of the flow of energy through the observer’s world. That flow of energy naturally arises as dark energy burns away and the observer’s cosmic horizon inflates in size, cools in temperature, and encodes more bits of information. This energetic process is not at thermal equilibrium. The burning away of dark energy is actually more like a phase transition. The fact that things are not at thermal equilibrium is obvious when we look towards the hot sun and see the burning of nuclear fuels inside the sun that give rise to the radiation of hot high energy photons, and then turn around and look at the coldness of cold outer space. The flow of energy through the observer’s world is driven by the thermal gradient created as dark energy burns away, just like the flow of sunlight is driven by a thermal gradient. There is no need to violate the second law of thermodynamics with this flow of heat since the observer’s cosmic horizon encodes more bits of information as it inflates in size and cools in temperature, which happens naturally as dark energy burns away. The development of coherently organized forms of information in the observer’s world, like the biological organism of its observable character, occurs naturally as energy flows in this thermal gradient. Coherent organization of form naturally develops because all the bits of information encoded on the observer’s holographic screen are entangled like the eigenvalues of an SU(n) matrix, and those entangled bits of information naturally tend to align.

Accelerated Observer’s Horizon

Everything in the observer’s world can only begin when the observer, which is a differentiated point of consciousness, arises at a central point of view in relation to a holographic screen, which is an event horizon that encodes all the bits of information for everything observable in the observer’s world and projects the animated images of things in the observer’s world like images of a movie. This holographic projection and animation process requires energy, which is what we perceive as animating emotional energy. At the center of this animating emotional energy is the projected image of a central character, just like the central character of a movie. This central character is a biological organism that arises from the way bits of information encoded on the holographic screen are coherently organized into form with the potential to self-replicate their forms over an animated sequence of screen outputs. All of these perceivable images are projected to the central point of view of the observer, who not only observes the images of things, but also perceives the flow of emotional energy that animates those things. The observer not only perceives the animated form of the organism but also “feels” the emotional feelings expressed by the biological organism as the animation process goes forward. The animation of “inanimate objects” like a rock is limited to the flow of heat, which is kinetic energy at a microscopic level, while the biological organism also has the ability to add potential energy to its form. The addition of potential energy not only occurs when we eat something, but also when we learn something. All knowledge is based on the organization of information, and that organizing process requires the addition of potential energy.

Illusion and Reality

The animated form of biological organisms are characterized by the ability to express emotions, which are desires to add potential energy to their forms. This expression of emotions by the organism is what makes the observer “feel” self-limited to the form of the organism as the observer perceives the flow of animating emotional energy through that form. This feeling of self-limitation allows the observer to emotionally identify itself with the form, which leads to emotional bias in the observer’s focus of attention, which leads to the expression of biased emotions, which leads to a vicious cycle of self-identification of the observer with its character and self-defense of the animated form of the character with the biased expression of emotions, which is the emotional expression of ego that can be called the self-identified state (Damasio).

The emotional bias of the self-identified state creates feelings of self-limitation, which is a state of emotional bondage. This self-limited state of emotional bondage is why Plato called an observer that identifies itself with the emotionally animated form of its character, like a shadow projected on a wall, a prisoner.

Signpost to the Truth

There is another possible way to live, which is free of the emotional bias of ego. This possibility can be called the integrated state. To live an integrated life requires surrender and the willingness to come into alignment with the normal flow of things. Surrender leads directly to the integrated state, as the animating flow of energy through one’s character comes into alignment with the normal flow of energy through one’s world, which leads to feelings of connection, expressions of creativity and correctness of actions. Surrender is not really possible unless we become aware of the true nature of what we really are, which is consciousness (Nisargadatta). As long as we live in a fearful state of self-identification with character, we won’t surrender.

Truth Destroys Illusions

The big mystery is where does the differentiated consciousness of the observer at the central point of view of its world come from when this whole holographic projection and animation process begins? Where does the dark energy come from that puts the “bang” in the big bang event and that creates the observer’s world in the first place? The value in thinking about things in a logically consistent way is it drives us to the fundamental questions. These questions don’t really have answers in a conventional scientific sense. To really answer these questions requires that we go beyond what we call knowledge and beyond what we call information, to consciousness itself. Only the consciousness of the observer at the central point of view of its own world can know about the meaning of the knowledge energetically constructed out of information in that world. Only the observer can know what it all means. This journey to consciousness itself always requires a shift in the observer’s focus of attention away from its observable world and onto its own sense of being present for that world (Nisargadatta). The journey to consciousness itself, which is a journey beyond all possible knowledge to the true nature of what we are, is the real mystery.

References:

Bousso, R., The holographic principle. arXiv:hep-th/0203101, 2002.

Damasio, A., The Feeling of What Happens. Harcourt Brace, 1999.

Gefter, A., Trespassing on Einstein’s Lawn. Random House, 2014.

Greene, B., The Elegant Universe. Vintage Books, 2001.

Jacobson, T., Thermodynamics of spacetime. arXiv:gr-qc/9504004, 1995.

Kauffman, S., At Home in the Universe. Oxford University Press, 1995.

Madore, J., Non-commutative geometry for pedestrians. arXiv:gr-qc/9906059, 1999.

Nisargadatta Maharaj, I Am That. Acorn Press, 1973.

Penrose, R., The Road to Reality. Knopf, 2005.

Smolin, L., Three Roads to Quantum Gravity. Basic Books, 2001.

Susskind, L., The Black Hole War. Little, Brown & Company, 2008.

Zee, A., Quantum Field Theory in a Nutshell. Princeton University Press, 2003.

♦♦♦

The Real Time Traveler

I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of time travel, maybe as a means of escape from this so-called reality into which I was born. The year is 2037, and the reality of life on planet earth is not so good. Global warming has taken its toll with droughts, famines, rising sea levels, floods and severe weather events. Now add in the political instability of mass population dislocation, refugee camps the size of small countries and the failure of nation states, all of which has led to the rise of radical apocalyptic ideologies and warlords who are constantly fighting for the control of territory and resources and who have the willingness to resort to regional nuclear warfare whenever they can get their dirty little hands on the nukes. So it’s no big surprise that hundreds of millions of people have died or been killed in the last decade. The good old USA, maybe because of its geographic isolation, is one of the last places left with any political stability, but that probably won’t last much longer. Representative democracy is long gone, and even America has become a totalitarian country ruled by a dictator. When the nation state finally crumbles and the food riots begin, it will be time to get out, but where to go?

Which brings me back to my fascination with time travel. For the last twenty years I’ve worked as a freelance science reporter, and so I’m familiar with all the latest pertinent research. I’ve found an expert of the topic and have plans to interview him today. His name is Jacob Bernstein. He’s a professor of theoretical physics at Stanford and he was the last PhD student of Leonard Susskind. He’s recognized as one of the foremost authorities on quantum gravity, which is the key to unlocking the secret of time travel. I’m at the Stanford Physics Department right now, waiting to meet him. Maybe this is only a pipe dream, but I hope a practical application of the theory can come out of this meeting.

We meet and walk over to his office where we sit down and begin to talk. After some small talk I ask him the big question: “What is quantum gravity?”

He answers:

“If by quantum gravity you mean a master set of equations, or an all encompassing ‘theory of everything‘, there is no such thing. In the spirit of relativity theory, quantum gravity is more of the nature of a geometric mechanism that leads to a set of theoretical equations that only have the validity of a thermal average. All the theoretical equations that we call the laws of physics aren’t really laws at all, but only arise as thermal averages.

“What is the nature of this geometric mechanism?”

“With the discovery of the big bang event that creates the universe, we realized there was a fundamental force or a source of energy that drives this creation. This creative energy is called dark energy, which in relativity theory is called a cosmological constant and is understood as the accelerated expansion of space. The expression of dark energy that gives rise to the accelerated expansion of space is what puts the ‘bang‘ in the big bang event. Without the expression of dark energy, there is no creation. In relativity theory, space can either appear to contract or expand relative to the point of view of an accelerated observer. We call the contraction of space the force of gravity and the expansion of space the force of dark energy. Dark energy is a kind of anti-gravity. Gravity is responsible for the attraction of massive objects to each other, while the force of dark energy drives the accelerated expansion of the universe from the point of singularity of the big bang event.”

singularity

Singularity

“If we place an observer at this point of singularity, space appears to expand away from the observer at an accelerated rate, faster the farther out the observer looks into space. Due to the limitation of the speed of light, which is like the maximal rate of information transfer in three dimensional space, a cosmic horizon surrounds the observer at the central point of view. The cosmic horizon is as far out into space as the observer can see things in space. This cosmic horizon that surrounds the observer at the central point of view is the fundamental nature of the geometric mechanism. The observer’s central point of view is the singularity of the big bang event that creates the universe as dark energy is initially expended.”

expanding universe

Accelerated Expansion of Space

“Where does the dark energy come from?”

“The whole thing has to begin with the true vacuum state, which is called the void. In some mysterious way, the expenditure of dark energy, which is the accelerated expansion of space that expands relative to the central point of view of an observer, arises from the void. Only the void can give rise to the expression of dark energy. But there is something even more mysterious than this initial expression of creative energy. Not only does this initial expenditure of dark energy arise from the void, but the perceiving consciousness of the observer at the central point of view must also arise from the void. In other words, the creation of the world and the perception of that world are always linked to each other. Creation always arises with perception.”

eternal observer

Universal Observer

“How is that even possible?”

“We don’t know. That’s the mystery. Creation and perception are always linked together. This is an inevitable consequence of the principle of equivalence, which is the foundation of relativity theory. The exertion of any force is equivalent to an observer’s accelerated frame of reference. Just as the force of gravity is equivalent to an observer accelerating through space in a rocket-ship, the force of dark energy is equivalent to an observer’s accelerated frame of reference. The energy expended in any accelerated reference frame is always equivalent to the exertion of a force, just like the energy expended by the thrusters of a rocket-ship that force it forward through space is equivalent to the force of gravity.”

gravity

Principle of Equivalence

“Can you explain how this acceleration gives rise to quantum gravity?”

“As the dark energy that creates the universe in a big bang event is initially expended, the observer at the central point of view observes a world that is limited by a cosmic horizon. Everything the observer can observe in that world is limited by the cosmic horizon. This horizon can only arise because the observer is in an accelerated frame of reference due to the expression of dark energy, which gives rise to the accelerated expansion of space that appears to expand relative to the observer’s central point of view. Since the horizon only arises in the observer’s accelerated frame of reference, we say the observer’s horizon is observer-dependent. The observer at the central point of view always has its own cosmic horizon that can only arise because the observer is in an accelerated frame of reference.”

exponential expansion of space

Cosmic Horizon

“Where does quantum gravity come from?”

“The idea of quantum gravity comes from the concept of information. The observer’s cosmic horizon encodes bits of information in a binary code of 1’s and 0’s, just like a computer screen. In analogy to a computer screen, we call the observer’s cosmic horizon a holographic screen. The observer’s cosmic horizon is a two dimensional bounding surface of space that encodes all the bits of information that specify the configuration states of everything the observer can observe in its world. Since the observer’s world appears three dimensional, we understand the observer’s cosmic horizon acts like a holographic screen, or a two dimensional surface that gives rise to three dimensional images in space, just like a conventional piece of holographic film. All the fundamental bits of information that define the configuration states of everything the observer can possibly observe in three dimensional space are encoded on the two dimensional bounding surface of that space, just like a hologram. This idea is called the holographic principle, which was discovered way back in the early 1990’s by Gerard ‘t Hooft and Leonard Susskind based on the way a black hole event horizon encodes bits of information to give rise to black hole entropy.”

entropy2

Horizon Entropy

“Where does the holographic principle come from?”

“Again, just like the expression of dark energy that gives rise to an observation-limiting cosmic horizon that surrounds the observer at the central point of view, we understand the holographic principle as a geometric mechanism. The most generic geometric mechanism that gives rise to the holographic principle is called non-commutative geometry, which is a way of quantizing position coordinates in space. If position coordinates on the observer’s cosmic horizon are specified in terms of a finite number of non-commuting variables rather than an infinite continuum of commuting position coordinates, then in effect each of these quantized position coordinates is smeared out into an area element that acts like a pixel and encodes a bit of information in a binary code. If there are n non-commuting variables that define these n quantized position coordinates on the surface, then the n bits of information are defined by the n eigenvalues of an SU(n) matrix. In quantum gravity, the pixel size is about a Planck area, which gives the total number of bits of information encoded on the bounding surface in terms of surface area as n=(Surface area)/4(Planck area), which is the holographic principle. Just as the expression of dark energy is a geometric mechanism that gives rise to an observer’s cosmic horizon, the encoding of bits of information on the observer’s cosmic horizon with non-commutative geometry is also a geometric mechanism.”

Information01

The Holographic Principle

“Are you saying that the universe only has a single observer?”

“Yes. You are the observer of your world just as I am the observer of my world. You are the observer at the central point of view of your world just as I am the observer at the central point of view of my world. The cosmic horizon that limits and defines a world always arises in an observer’s accelerated frame of reference, and so it’s always observer-dependent. Everything I can observe in my world is defined by how bits of information are encoded on my cosmic horizon and everything you can observe in your world is defined by how bits of information are encoded on your cosmic horizon. In the language of quantum theory, every observer has it own Hilbert space of quantized observable values that are defined on its own observer-dependent cosmic horizon. The observer’s Hilbert space is defined by the non-commuting variables on its horizon that give rise to bits of information.”

horizon information

Horizon Information

“There is always the possibility that different observers can share a consensual reality to the degree their cosmic horizons overlap in the sense of a Venn diagram and share information, just like the kind of information sharing we see in an interactive network of computer screen, like the internet. Information sharing in an overlapping network of screens is what allows different observers to apparently interact with each other.”

Overlapping bounded spaces

Overlapping Bounded Spaces

“What about many worlds or a multiverse?”

“The many world interpretation of quantum theory and the multiverse interpretation of inflationary cosmology are not consistent with quantum gravity for the simple reason that quantum gravity is an observer-centric description of observable reality. There’s only one observer per observable world. Each observer has its own world defined by how bits of information are encoded on its own observer-dependent cosmic horizon that arises as the dark energy is expended that creates the observer’s world in the first place. The observer’s cosmic horizon acts as a holographic screen that projects all the images of its world to the observer’s central point of view. That’s how the observer’s Hilbert space is constructed. It makes no sense to speak of other worlds unless we speak of other observers. We can only speak of other observers in terms of a shared consensual reality that arises as different holographic screens overlap in the sense of a Venn diagram and share information.”

“What does this tell us about the nature of objective reality?”

“If by objective reality you mean observable reality, then there is no such thing. Observable reality is always subjective in nature, and only exists in the ‘eye of the beholder‘, which is the focal point of consciousness of the observer. All observable images of the observer’s world are projected from its holographic screen to its central point of view in a screen output. This is the lesson of the relational interpretation of quantum theory understood in the context of the holographic principle, which tells us the observer’s Hilbert space of observable values is always defined on its holographic screen. The observer’s observable reality only exists because the observer observes it. The really big mystery is where the observer comes from. The only possible answer is the focal point of consciousness of the observer and the observer’s holographic screen both arise together from the true vacuum state or void as the dark energy that creates the observer’s world in the first place is expended, since that is how the observer’s cosmic horizon arises. If we want to say there is an ultimate or absolute nature of reality, then it is the void, but the void is not observable. The void is the source of observation in the sense it gives rise to both the observer and the observer’s observable world.”

The observer is the singular consciousness present at the singularity or central point of view of its own world. This is a natural consequence of the holographic principle. All the bits of information for things in the observer’s world are encoded on an event horizon that arises in the observer’s accelerated frame of reference and acts as a holographic screen that projects images of the observer’s world to the observer.”

“How is it possible that everything I can observe in my world is defined on a holographic screen? Are we living on the holodeck or in a virtual reality world? Is everything I can observe an illusion, no more real than a holographic image?”

“You could say that. Quantum gravity is only a mathematical description of the world, and this is what quantum gravity says about the world. The configuration state of everything that I can observe in my world is defined by how bits of information are encoded on my cosmic horizon, which acts as a holographic screen. In some sense, my holographic screen must project images of those things to my central point of view, just like the images of a physical hologram. The observer itself can only be understood as the consciousness present at the central point of view of the holographic screen. Everything observable in the observer’s world is like a holographic image projected from the observer’s screen to the observer’s central point of view. In some sense, every observation of something is like a screen output that projects an image of the thing from the observer’s screen to the observer’s point of view, just like the screen outputs of images we see projected from a computer screen to an observer. John Wheeler called this ‘It from bit‘.”

The Observer, the Screen and the Thing

The Observer, the Screen and the Thing

“How can everything be a screen output?”

“The idea of a screen output solves the puzzle of observation or measurement in quantum theory. The observer’s holographic screen encodes bits of information just like a computer screen, but this encoding is more like a quantum computer than a conventional computer. The observer’s holographic screen is described by a quantum state of potentiality, which describes all possible ways bits of information can become encoded on the screen in a binary code, with one bit of information encoded per pixel on the screen. Each observation of something is like a screen output, in which the quantum state of the screen is reduced to an actual configuration state of information defined on the screen. In quantum theory, we call the observation of something a quantum state reduction, which reduces the quantum state of potentiality to an actual state of information. Each screen output is a quantum state reduction. In the sense of holography, with each screen output the image of something is projected from the observer’s holographic screen to the observer’s central point of view. In the sense that projected images are the nature of creation, this also explains why creation is always linked to perception. Creation always occurs in a screen output, and the observer must always be present at the central point of view of the screen to perceive that creation.”

“What does it mean to say creation occurs in a screen output?”

“The quantum state of the observer’s holographic screen is a sum over all possible ways in which bits of information can become encoded on the screen. This sum is over all possible configuration states of information. This sum can always be expressed as a sum over all possible paths through an information configuration space. It is the observer itself as a focal point of consciousness that follows this path through the information configuration space. Each possible path is a world-line through the space-time geometry projected from the observer’s screen to the observer’s point of view and animated over a sequence of screen outputs. Everything the observer can possibly observe in its world, which is literally everything in creation in the observer’s world, is projected from the screen to the observer in a screen output. As far as the observer knows, this is the sum total of all creation. In the sense of a quantum state reduction, a screen output chooses an actual configuration state from the sum over all possible configuration states, but a screen output also chooses an actual path for the observer to follow through its projected and animated space-time geometry. There is a big mystery here about how these choices are made. Does the observer choose which path to follow with its focus of attention on that path?”

Decision point

Decision-point on the Observer’s World-line

“Quantum theory tells us that the most likely path in the sense of quantum probability is the path of least action, which is like the shortest distance between two points in the information configuration space, and which we understand as the classical limit of the quantum state. The path of least action can only become the most likely path if choices are made in an unbiased way. As a quantum probability distribution, random measurement or unbiased choice is the only thing that gives the quantum state and the laws of physics, which are inherent in the quantum state, their predictability. What happens if bias enters into the way choices are made through the observer’s focus of attention? If there is bias in the way choices are made, the laws of physics lose their predictability and all bets are off.”

Sum over all paths

Sum Over all Possible Paths

“This is mind-boggling. I still don’t understand how everything is defined on the screen.”

“The configuration state of everything the observer can observe in its world is defined by how bits of information are encoded on the observer’s holographic screen. Not only are the images of things projected from the screen to the observer in a screen output, but even the observer’s space-time geometry is projected from the observer’s screen to the observer’s point of view over a sequence of screen outputs. The observer’s space-time geometry is both projected and animated, like the animation of a movie projected from a screen to an observer. The observer’s space-time geometry is defined by the spatial and temporal relationships of the images projected from the screen to the observer with each screen output and with the animation of those images over a sequence of screen outputs. The curvature of space-time geometry is like the distortion of images seen in a movie animated on a screen as images are projected from the screen to an observer.”

Black hole projection

Holographic Projection

“How is this animation of images over a sequence of screen outputs related to the possibility of time travel?”

“The key to understanding time travel is the concept of a time-line, but in relativity theory a time-line is called a world-line. It is the observer itself as a focal point of consciousness that appears to follow an accelerated world-line through its space-time geometry as energy is expended and the observer enters into an accelerated frame of reference. Each screen output on that world-line is an event, which is a moment of time in the observer’s rest frame. The observer always follows a world-line through its space-time geometry, but that space-time geometry is always projected from the observer’s holographic screen to the observer’s central point of view in a screen output and is animated over a sequence of screen outputs. This animation of events over a sequence of screen outputs is the nature of the observer’s time-line. This animation always occurs in the normal flow of energy through the observer’s world that animates everything in its world.”

Observer's Horizon

Accelerating Observer’s Horizon

“What do you mean by the normal flow of energy?”

“Modern cosmology tells us that the observer’s world is created in a big bang event due to the expenditure of dark energy that gives rise to the accelerated expansion of space that always expands relative to the observer’s central point of view. The normal flow of energy through the observer’s world arises due to an instability in the concentration of dark energy that causes it to transition to a lower level. This transition to a lower level is like a phase transition from a metastable or false vacuum state to a more stable vacuum state of lower energy. This transition is like a process of burning in which dark energy burns away and heat is radiated away, just like the burning of any kind of energy.”

quantum tunneling

Metastable State

“The holographic principle tells us the temperature of the observer’s cosmic horizon is inversely proportional to the radius of the horizon, while relativity theory tells us the radius of the cosmic horizon increases as the concentration of dark energy in the observer’s world decreases. At the initial moment of the big bang event that creates the observer’s world, the concentration of dark energy was maximal, which gives a minimal radius of the observer’s cosmic horizon of about a Planck length and a maximal horizon temperature. Due to the instability in dark energy, as dark energy transitions to a lower level and burns away, the observer’s cosmic horizon inflates in size and cools in temperature. The normal flow of energy through the observer’s world reflects the second law of thermodynamics, which tells us that heat tends to flow from hotter states to colder states. As dark energy burns away and transitions to a lower level, the observer’s cosmic horizon inflates in size and cools in temperature, which sets the thermal gradient that drives the normal flow of energy through the observer’s world as heat flows from hotter to colder states of the observer’s world.”

normal-flow-of-energy

Normal Flow of Energy Through the Observer’s World

“The normal flow of energy through the observer’s world reflects this normal flow of heat in a thermal gradient as dark energy burns away and the observer’s world inflates in size and cools in temperature. This normal flow of thermal energy naturally arises in this thermal gradient. This also explains the mystery of ‘time’s arrow‘, as the normal course of time is related to the normal flow of thermal energy through the observer’s world. As far as the holographic principle goes, a thermal gradient is also a temporal gradient.”

“What happens when all the dark energy burns away?”

“When dark energy burns away to zero, the observer’s cosmic horizon inflates in size to infinity and cools in temperature to absolute zero. This defines the true vacuum state, which is called the void. The true vacuum state has zero dark energy and absolute stability. All states of the observer’s world are defined by a non-zero value for dark energy, and so all states of the observer’s world are metastable or false vacuum states. The source of dark energy in the observer’s world is the central point of singularity of the big bang event, which is the observer’s central point of view, while the final heat sink for all the radiated heat is infinity as the observer’s cosmic horizon inflates in size to infinity as dark energy burns away to zero. Only the normal flow of energy through the observer’s world that arises as dark energy burns away and heat flows from hotter to colder states of the observer’s world can drive the normal animation of the observer’s world over a sequence of screen outputs. When dark energy finally burns away to zero, heat no longer flows in a thermal gradient and so the animation of the observer’s world comes to an end. In thermodynamics, this end of animation is called the ‘heat death‘ of the world, which is a state of thermal equilibrium at absolute zero. This end of animation is also the ‘end of time‘. In this final state of absolute stability, there is no longer any projection from a holographic screen or any animation over a sequence of screen outputs. All that remains in this final state of absolute stability is the infinite undifferentiated nothingness of the void or true vacuum state.”

“What happens to the observer when its world is no longer animated and comes to an end? What does this tell us about the nature of consciousness?”

“Just as the expenditure of dark energy that creates the observer’s world in the first place must in some mysterious way arise from the true vacuum state, the consciousness of the observer must also in some mysterious way arise from the void. When dark energy burns away to zero and all heat is finally radiated away to infinity, the observer’s consciousness must in some mysterious way also return to the true vacuum state. When the observer’s world finally comes to an end, the observer’s consciousness must return to the void.”

“How is the flow of thermal energy that arises from the instability in dark energy related to the bits of information encoded and organized on a holographic screen?”

“We normally think of energy in terms of the energy of motion of things in three dimensional space, which we call kinetic energy, and the energy of attraction or repulsion of those things, which we call potential energy that gives rise to forces of attraction and repulsion. Thermal energy is only randomized kinetic energy, while temperature is only an average measurement of thermal energy. The holographic principle tells us all the things that appear to move around in three dimensional space and that attract or repel each other are like images projected from a two dimensional holographic screen to the point of view of an observer. All the bits of information that specify the configuration states of these observable things are encoded on the holographic screen. These observable things even include what we call elementary particles. Even an elementary particle reduces down to a configuration state of information encoded on the screen. Each observation of something is like a projection of an image of that thing from the screen to the observer, and those images appear to become animated over a sequence of screen outputs. The flow of thermal energy arises because bits of information can flip back and forth between the 1 and 0 positions over a sequence of screen outputs, like spin variables that can flip back and forth between the spin up and the spin down positions. Potential energy arises because all the bits of information arise from the n eigenvalues of an SU(n) matrix, and all those eigenvalues are entangled with each other. Although not well appreciated, entangled bits of information like entangled spin variables naturally tend to align together, which gives rise to the potential energy of alignment. The tendency of entangled spin variables to align together explains the spontaneous magnetization of a magnet, but the tendency for entangled bits of information on a holographic screen to align together or anti-align together explains the gravitational attraction of masses and the attraction and repulsion of the electric and nuclear charges carried by elementary particles. All kinetic energy fundamentally arises because bits of information tend to flip back and forth over a sequence of screen outputs, while all potential energy fundamentally arises because entangled bits of information tend to align or anti-align with each other as they flip back and forth between the 1 and 0 positions, which is just like the entanglement of spin variables in quantum theory.”

entangle2

Entanglement of Information

“This concept of thermal energy understood in terms of bits of information encoded on a holographic screen that tend to flip back and forth between the 1 and 0 positions also allows us to calculate the absolute temperature T of a holographic screen in terms of the screen radius R. The easiest way to understand this is in terms of the event horizon of a black hole, but the concept for a cosmic horizon is really no different. Nothing can escape from a black hole because the force of gravitational attraction inside the black hole is so strong that even light cannot escape.”

Black hole

Black Hole Event Horizon

“The event horizon of a black hole is a bounding surface of space of radius R where the force of gravity is just barely strong enough to bind light, which is to say a photon at the event horizon has just barely enough kinetic energy to escape away from the gravitational attraction of the black hole. Relativity theory tells us the kinetic energy E of the photon is given in terms of its momentum p as E=pc, while quantum theory tells us the photon’s momentum p is given in terms of its wavelength λ as p=h/λ. A photon that is just barely gravitationally bound to the black hole and just barely able to escape away has a wavelength about equal to the maximal circumference of the event horizon λ=2πR, which gives the energy of this photon as E=hc/2πR. Thermodynamics gives the average thermal energy of a bit of information encoded on the event horizon in terms of the horizon’s absolute temperature T as E=kT. If we equate the average thermal energy of a bit of information encoded on the horizon to the energy of a thermal photon that is just barely able to escape away from the black hole and become radiated to an observer, this gives the absolute temperature of the horizon as kT=hc/2πR.”

Hawking radiation2

Hawking Radiation From a Black Hole Event Horizon

“Hawking Radiation away from the event horizon of a black hole is the radiation of thermal photons into three dimensional space. These thermal photons appear to be radiated to the point of view of a distant observer, but this is only a holographic projection. The energy of the radiated photons actually arises on the horizon in terms of the average thermal energy of the bits of information encoded on the horizon that tend to flip back and forth between the 1 and 0 positions.”

Information

Information Encoded on a Black Hole Event Horizon

“The original Hawking calculation considered virtual photons created as particle-antiparticle pairs near the event horizon of the black hole. These virtual photons are entangled. For a stationary distant observer that accelerates in a rocket-ship away from the black hole with an acceleration equal to the black hole’s force of gravity, the virtual photons become separated as one falls across the event horizon into the black hole while the other is radiated away from the event horizon to the distant observer. For the distant observer these photons are no longer entangled and the observed thermal photon is a particle of Hawking radiation. For a freely falling observer that falls through the event horizon, the black hole’s horizon is only an imaginary surface in space and the virtual photons remain entangled and unobservable. For the freely falling observer there are no particles of Hawking radiation and these particles simply do not exist. How can particles of Hawking radiation appear to exist for the distant accelerated observer but not for the freely falling observer? The answer is holography. The thermal photon radiated away from the black hole’s horizon to the point of view of the distant observer is only a holographic projection that arises from entangled bits of information encoded on the event horizon that acts as a holographic screen. These entangled bits of information correspond to the entanglement of the virtual particle-antiparticle photon pairs that become unentangled and observable for the distant observer but remain entangled and unobservable for the freely falling observer. The reason radiated thermal photons of Hawking radiation become observable and appear to exist for the distant accelerated observer but remain unobservable and do not appear to exist for the freely falling observer is because the observation of thermal photons is only a holographic projection to the distant observer.”

“You mentioned the accelerated expansion of space that gives rise to a cosmic horizon with the expression of dark energy and the encoding of bits of information on the horizon with non-commutative geometry are only geometric mechanisms that give rise to the laws of physics as thermal averages. Can you say more about how that happens?”

“Way back in the 1990’s, around the same time that ‘t Hooft and Susskind discovered the holographic principle, Ted Jacobson also discovered that Einstein’s field equations for the space-time metric, which describe the nature of gravity as the curvature of space-time geometry, arise from the holographic principle as a thermal average as long as things are near thermal equilibrium, which is called a thermodynamic equation of state. The law of gravity isn’t really a law at all but only a thermal average description of the world that arises from the holographic principle, which is more fundamental than gravity. The holographic principle in turn only arises from the geometric mechanisms of the expansion of space that gives rise to a cosmic horizon that surrounds the observer at the central point of view and non-commutative geometry that gives rise to the encoding of bits of information on the observer’s cosmic horizon. The space-time geometry of the observer’s world is projected from the observer’s holographic screen to its central point of view in a screen output and is animated over a sequence of screen outputs.”

Einstein Field Equations

Einstein’s Field Equations for the Space-time Metric

“What about the other fundamental forces and elementary particles?”

“Once we understand that Einstein’s field equations for gravity arise from the holographic principle as thermodynamic equations of state, we can then understand that the unification of gravity with all other fundamental forces arises through the usual unification mechanisms of super-symmetry and the Kaluza-Klein mechanism of extra compactified dimensions of space. In this way, unification finally results in a kind of 11-dimensional super-gravity, which is a part of M-theory, and is understood as a low energy limit.”

Compactified space

Extra Compactified Dimensions of Space

“This unification process gives rise to the so-called fundamental forces of gravity, electromagnetism and the strong and weak nuclear forces and to all the elementary particles of the standard model of particle physics as formulated with quantum field theory. We understand quantum fields are extra components of the space-time metric that arise due to super-symmetry and extra compactified dimensions of space. With unification, all internal structure of particles, like electric and nuclear charge, is understood to arise much like the Bohr mechanism as momentum is quantized in extra compactified dimensions of space, while all external structure of particles, like ordinary quantized energy and momentum, is understood to arise as a quantum field wave-packet that propagates over the course of time through the extended dimensions of space.”

bohrorbit

Quantization of Momentum in a Circular Orbit

“Since Einstein’s field equations for the space-time metric only have the significance of a thermodynamic equation of state that arises as a thermal average, all the quantum field theories of the standard model of particle physics can also only have the significance of a thermodynamic equation of state. In reality there is no such thing as a fundamental force or elementary particle. The emergence of a quantum field theory is just like the equation for sound waves that arises from atomic theory as a thermodynamic equation of state. The quantum of sound waves, which is called a phonon, isn’t really a fundamental particle. In the same way, the quantum of electromagnetic waves, which is called the photon, isn’t really a fundamental particle. They both exist only in the sense of a thermal average. The standard model of particle physics is the basis for atomic theory, but quantum field theories are no more fundamental than the equation for sound waves. They all have the significance of a thermodynamic equation of state. There’s no such thing as fundamental particles or forces. Neither a photon nor an electron nor a quark is really fundamental.”

wave-packet

Wave-packet

“What is fundamental?”

“We might say only the holographic principle is fundamental since it’s more fundamental than the fundamental forces or elementary particles, but the holographic principle only arises through the geometric mechanisms of the accelerated expansion of space that gives rise to a cosmic horizon that surrounds the observer at the central point of view and non-commutative geometry that gives rise to the encoding of bits of information on the observer’s cosmic horizon. These geometric mechanisms in some mysterious way arise from the true vacuum state, so I guess we could say only the void is really fundamental.”

Illusion and reality

“Are you saying that nothing is really fundamental?”

“Yes. In some sense, everything is really nothing. The remarkable discovery of modern cosmology is cosmic observations indicate the total energy of the observable universe is exactly zero. This is possible in relativity theory since the negative potential energy of gravitational attraction can exactly cancel out the total amount of dark energy and all other forms of positive energy that arise from dark energy.”

“How do other forms of energy, like mass energy, arise from dark energy?”

“The answer is symmetry breaking. As dark energy burns away, high energy photons are created, which can create particle-antiparticle pairs, like proton-antiproton pairs. One of the mysteries of cosmology is why there are so many protons in the universe and so few antiprotons. Symmetry breaking solves the riddle. At high energies, antiprotons can decay into electrons and protons can decay into positrons, but there is a difference in the decay rates due to a broken symmetry, and so more antiprotons decay than protons. As the universe cools, protons become relatively stable, and so that’s what’s left over. Even the mass of the proton arises through a process of symmetry breaking called the Higgs mechanism. The expenditure of energy that characterizes all the gauge forces, like electromagnetic energy in a living organism or nuclear energy in a star, all arise from dark energy through a process of symmetry breaking, but all of this positive energy is exactly cancelled out by the negative potential energy of gravitational attraction.”

there is no spoon

There is No Spoon

“The fact that the total energy of the observable universe exactly adds up to zero tells us something important. Since everything in the world is composed of energy and all energy ultimately adds up to zero, this tells us that everything is really nothing in disguise.”

ying-yang

Ying-Yang Balance

“What role does the observer play in the creation of its world?”

“The nature of quantum potentiality tells us every observation is a choice or a decision point on the observer’s world-line as the observer’s world-line or path branches into all possible paths. In computer terms, every observation is like a screen output. In the language of quantum theory, every observation is a decision point on the observer’s path about what to observe and which path to follow. It would seem that the observer expresses its choices through its focus of attention on images of its world.”

“I find it difficult to accept that all the complexity of the world arises from bits of information encoded on a holographic screen.”

“The solution to the puzzle of complexity is coherent organization of information. This is like the kind of coherent organization that develops in a phase transition, like the spontaneous magnetization of a magnet, which is an example of symmetry breaking. Symmetry breaking develops because there is always a balance between the organizing effects of potential energy that tends to organize information into forms and the disorganizing effects of the flow of thermal energy as heat flows in a thermal gradient. If organizing potential energy wins the balance, coherent organization spontaneously develops and information is organized into forms. Coherent organization is what allows for the self-replication of forms over a sequence of events. It’s only organizing potential energy that can coherently hold the form together over an animating sequence of events and allow for self-replication of form, while the thermal flow of heat through the form tends to disorganize the form. This naturally happens when bits of information are encoded on a holographic screen since the bits of information are defined by the eigenvalues of an SU(n) matrix, and all those eigenvalues are entangled with each other. This entanglement of information is characterized by an interference pattern. If you’ve ever looked microscopically at a piece of holographic film, you’ll only see an interference pattern, not the images of things, and yet the holographic film is able to project the three dimensional images of things into space. This is because the interference pattern represents the entanglement of information, and entangled bits of information naturally give rise to the development of coherent organization of forms. As Einstein tells us, entanglement implies non-locality or ‘spooky action at a distance‘. This is a direct consequence of all the information for the observer’s world encoded on a holographic screen where all the bits of information are entangled. We might say that everything in that world is connected to everything else.”

spooky action

Spooky Action at a Distance

“Don’t the laws of physics have to be in operation before symmetry breaking can occur?”

“No. Only the holographic principle has to be in operation. The laws of physics are not fundamental but spontaneously emerge through symmetry breaking like everything else in the observer’s world. All the laws of physics that appear to govern that world can only arise as thermal averages, which is what the second law of thermodynamics tells us in the framework of the holographic principle. As long as things are near thermal equilibrium, the laws of physics only appear fixed and stable due to symmetry breaking, and in some sense have frozen out of the quantum state of potentiality like a phase transition that turns water into ice, although the better analogy is probably the spontaneous magnetization of a magnet. The laws of physics only appear stable because they all arise through symmetry breaking within a metastable or false vacuum state. The nature of symmetry breaking tells us that bits of information spontaneously become organized into complex forms as energy flows in a thermal gradient, like the spontaneous magnetization of a magnet. The holographic principle and the expression of dark energy explain how bits of information become encoded on a holographic screen in relation to the point of view of an observer, and the instability in dark energy explains the origin of the thermal gradient. The expression of complexity arises through these geometric mechanisms because the organization of information occurs at a metastable state. Even the transition from one metastable state to another metastable state is a kind of symmetry breaking. This is epitomized by a cosmological constant that is only ‘constant‘ within a metastable state, while the transition from one value of the cosmological constant to another value is akin to a phase transition.”

“Some researchers say complexity arises because of fractal geometry.”

“No problem. Like M-theory, fractal geometry is a special case of non-commutative geometry, which gives rise to the holographic principle. In the end, it all comes down to holography. Fractal geometry is fine as an explanation for how complexity develops, but it can’t explain where all the information comes from. The holographic principle can. There is another interesting aspect of complexity that only the holographic principle in the context of modern cosmology can explain. All states of the observer’s world are defined by a non-zero value of dark energy, since that is what gives rise to the observer’s cosmic horizon that acts as a holographic screen. All states of the observer’s world have the nature of a metastable or false vacuum state. The instability in dark energy as it transitions to a lower level and as heat flows in a thermal gradient is what gives rise to the normal flow of energy through the observer’s world that animates everything in its world over a sequence of screen outputs. As is well known from the study of fractal geometry, complexity naturally arises whenever information becomes organized within a metastable state. The spontaneous emergence of the complexity of things is characteristic of the metastable state. Complexity researchers call this ‘the edge of chaos‘. Geometric systems which are characterized by information naturally develop coherent organization when they become organized within a metastable state that is near the phase transition to disorganization and chaos. Dark energy and the holographic principle give a natural explanation for the nature of this metastable state.”

“Are you saying all complexity arises from symmetry breaking?”

“Yes. Symmetry breaking begins with the creation of the observer’s world and comes to an end when that world comes to an end. In the sense that the true vacuum state or void gives rise to the creation of the observer’s world with the expression of dark energy, the void is the ‘alpha and omega‘, the beginning and end of everything in that world. The expenditure of dark energy breaks the symmetry of empty space by constructing an observation limiting cosmic horizon that surrounds the observer at the central point of view. The instability in dark energy is like a process of burning that burns away dark energy and undoes this broken symmetry. As dark energy burns away to zero, the cosmic horizon inflates in size to infinity, and the symmetry is restored. We understand that this undoing of symmetry breaking is like a phase transition from a false vacuum state to a true vacuum state. Dark energy burns away as the phase transition occurs. This idea is also consistent with the current measured value of the cosmological constant, Λ=10−123, based on the rate with which distant galaxies are observed to accelerate away from us, which also corresponds to the size of the observable universe of about 15 billion light years.”

accelerating universe

Accelerating Universe

“My last questions are about the possibility of time travel. What does the holographic principle tell us about this possibility?”

“The really big question to answer is who exactly is the time traveler? We understand that the animation of the observer’s world occurs over a sequence of screen outputs that arise in the normal flow of energy through the observer’s world. The observer’s time-line is really a world-line, and it is the observer itself as a focal point of consciousness that appears to follow this world-line through its projected and animated space-time geometry. Space is projected from the observer’s holographic screen to its central point of view with each screen output, and time is animated over a sequence of screen outputs. It is the observer itself that follows the world-line. The normal course of time results from the normal flow of energy through the observer’s world. Each contiguous event on the observer’s time-line uses up a little bit of the dark energy that was expended in the creation of the observer’s world. If we want the observer to make a discontinuous jump on its time-line, either forward or backward in time, it will take a lot more energy to oppose the normal flow of energy that gives rise to contiguous events. A big time-line jump might take an appreciable fraction of the total amount of energy that went into creation of the observer’s world in the first place. That’s only the first problem. The bigger problem has to do with the nature of who the time traveler really is. The time traveler is the observer, which is only a focal point of consciousness present at the central point of view of the observer’s world.”

“Why is this a problem?”

“When time travel is depicted in science fiction, it’s usually a person that time travels. This gives rise to all kinds of time paradoxes, like a person meeting a younger or older version of the same person. The famous grandfather paradox arises if the time-traveling person kills the person’s grandfather before the person’s father is born, so how can the person ever be born? In other science fiction, the person doesn’t time travel, but the person’s content of consciousness is somehow downloaded into the mind of another person who lives at another time. This downloaded content of consciousness gives the consciousness of the time traveler access to all its old memories, thoughts and identity even though that consciousness is now inhabiting another person. Both of these science fiction concepts are badly flawed. In reality, only the observer can time travel as it makes a discontinuous world-line jump, but the observer is only a focal point of consciousness that arises in relation to a holographic screen that projects all images of the observer’s world. The image of a person is projected from the screen to the observer and animated over a sequence of screen outputs just like any other image of the observer’s world. What we call personal identity is only like the central character of a movie the observer is watching. Even the content of consciousness is personal. Not only is the image of the person projected from the screen to the observer, but so too are all the person’s thoughts, memories and other forms of mental imagination. Everything in the observer’s world, whether physical or mental, is projected like the images of a movie from the observer’s holographic screen to the observer’s central point of view. A person cannot time travel because a person is like an image projected from the screen. A person’s content of consciousness cannot time travel because that content of consciousness is also like an image projected from the screen. All information in the observer’s world is encoded on the screen. Only the observer itself as a focal point of consciousness can time travel. If the observer makes a discontinuous jump on its world-line, in all probability that observer will see things from the point of view of a person, but that new person may or may not appear to be the same person that appeared in the observer’s world prior to time travel. Whoever that new person appears to be, the content of consciousness the observer perceives will be characteristic of that new person, not the old person. The observer will have no memory of the old person and no sense of identity with the old person. All memories and identity will be characteristic of the new person. It’s as though the observer has always been identified with the new person. The time-traveling observer will have no awareness or memory of having time traveled. It’s as though nothing has happened.”

“Is the science fiction depiction of a time-traveling person totally wrong?”

“Yes. It’s absolutely wrong. Neither a person nor a person’s content of consciousness can time travel. Both the observer’s personal identity and its content of consciousness are only like images projected from its holographic screen to its central point of view. All information is encoded on the screen. Only the observer itself as a focal point of consciousness can time travel if it makes a discontinuous jump on its world-line. The normal course of time arises as contiguous events, while time travel can only occur in a discontinuous jump. In all probability, the time-traveling observer will have a new personal identity and a new mentally constructed content of consciousness, but will have no memory of its old personal identity or old content of consciousness. The mistake science fiction makes is to assume that the observer’s consciousness belongs to the person, when in reality it’s exactly the other way around. In some sense, personal identity and the person’s mentally constructed content of consciousness belong to the observer. This is an inevitable consequence of every observer having its own holographic world defined on its own observer-dependent cosmic horizon. Only the observer can time travel by making a discontinuous jump on its world-line. If that time-traveling jump is big enough, the observer’s new personal identity and content of consciousness will in all probability become radically different than its old personal identity and content of consciousness. The possibility of time travel to the past with your memory intact so that you can take advantage of future events or make different choices that change the course of future events is simply not possible since it is only the observer that can time travel, not the person or the person’s mentally constructed content of consciousness. The time-traveling observer always leaves these things behind. The time-traveling observer takes no memories of future events with itself into the past. There is the possibility of prediction at any moment of time to the extent the normal flow of things can be extrapolated forward in time, but the prediction of future events is not the same as the memory of future events. There is no such thing as memory of future events, even when an observer time-travels back to the past. All memory, like all personal identity, is characteristic of a particular moment in time. In all probability, events for the time-traveling observer will play out just like they played out the first time. The observer can time travel to the past as many times as it likes and events will tend to play out the same. It’s like groundhog day, except every day is the same day, over and over again. That’s the nature of quantum probability. The probability for events to play out a different way for an object as large as a person is exceedingly small unless the observer somehow knows how events are supposed to play out and consciously makes different choices, but the observer can never know with certainty how things are supposed to play out.”

“Weird.”

References:

Gefter, A., Trespassing on Einstein’s Lawn. Random House, 2014.

Jacobson, T., Thermodynamics of Spacetime: The Einstein Equation of State. Phys.Rev.Lett. 1995.

Susskind, L., The World as a Hologram. J.Math.Phys. 1995.

ying-yang

The Scientific Basis for Nisargadatta’s Description of Reality

eternal observer

There are many puzzles about the nature of the world, space, time, matter and energy, and how modern quantum particle physics can be unified with relativity theory and cosmology in a way that also takes into account the nature of the mind and consciousness. Remarkably, all the pieces of the puzzle have already been discovered. All that is really needed is to put all the pieces of the puzzle together in a logically consistent way. Amanda Gefter has gone a very long way toward putting all the pieces of the puzzle together in a logically consistent way as she surveys the landscape of modern physics in her recent book Trespassing on Einstein’s Lawn. She draws these conclusions based on the recent discoveries of dark energy and the holographic principle. The brief outline below extends her work to its logical conclusion, and also demonstrates how these scientific concepts are completely consistent with the description of reality given by Nisargadatta Maharaj, as adapted from the spiritual classic I Am That.

Deepak Chopra refers to things experienced in awareness as excitations in awareness, and to reality as that which is the source of all knowing that exists before things are experienced in awareness. These concepts are very much in line with the way Nisargadatta describes reality. Implicit in these concepts is the idea of the expenditure of energy that gives rise to excitations in awareness. Without that expenditure of energy, there are no excitations, and so at that point nothing can exist. Modern physics comes into the equation in terms of how energy is expended to give rise to these excitations.

It’s important to make a point of qualification: Everything we can say about reality is a story or a mental construct, which is a thought. We can have the direct experience of things in awareness before the story is constructed, or we can tell stories about those things. Science is only a story we tell. Reality can only be that which is the source of all knowing that exists before things are experienced in awareness and any thoughts about those things are mentally constructed, which is to say being is prior to creation and perception. The story of science is only a mental construct of thoughts, but that mental construct is another one of those things that’s experienced in awareness, and so there’s something of a paradox. The real problem with the mental construction of thoughts (particularly the self-referential thoughts that give rise to the mental construction of a self-concept in which the concept of self is emotionally related to the concept of other things in emotionally biased ways) is this emotionally biased mental construction process interferes with our normal tendency to come into alignment with the normal flow of things.

All mental constructs are only stories, and this includes the scientific stories we tell, but the only way we can ever conceptually understand things is to construct scientific theories. If we value the conceptual understanding of things, then we have to construct scientific theories.

There are only three things that we can have any real confidence or trust in: the first are the unbiased/impartial observations of scientific measurements; the second are scientific theories that are based on the logical consistency of mathematics and that are free of paradoxes of self-reference; and the third are the testimonies of trustworthy enlightened beings like Nisargadatta. The outline below only relies on these three trustworthy things.

One last comment about the problem versus the value of mental constructs. The expression of emotionally biased self-concepts are obstructions that interfere with our normal tendency to come into alignment with the normal flow of things, but scientific concepts allow for the technological advancement of human society. Without self-concepts human society would no longer become structured in emotionally biased ways, but without scientific concepts modern society would lose its technological advancements. Without mental constructs, human society would revert back to the kind of organization we see in a flock of birds. Maybe that would be a good thing. Jesus made similar comments about the birds of the field not worrying about where their next meal would come from.

If you want to live your life as free as a bird, then by all means give up your mental constructs. However, if you like the technological advancements of modern society, then it would seem you are stuck with the mental constructs of science. That does not necessarily mean that you have to remain stuck with the emotionally biased mental constructs of a self-concept.

The description of reality given by Nisargadatta is in the non-dual tradition of Shankara. These non-dual concepts can be summarized in terms of Brahman (the undifferentiated consciousness of the void) and Atman (the differentiated focal point of consciousness of the observer):

That which permeates all, which nothing transcends and which, like the universal space around us, fills everything completely from within and without, that Supreme non-dual Brahman−That thou art.”

Brahman is the only truth, the world is illusion, and there is ultimately no difference between Brahman and Atman.”

Atman Brahman

In an ontological sense, everything begins and ends with the void (the true vacuum state). The void can never really be conceptualized, but for the purposes of developing a conceptual system, we can conceptualize the void as nothingness, an empty space of potentiality, or undifferentiated (non-dual) consciousness (awareness).

expanding universe

Creation (as in the creation of the world in the big bang event) requires both the expenditure of energy and the differentiation of consciousness. In relativity theory, this creative energy is called dark energy, which is understood as the accelerated expansion of space that expands relative to the central point of view of an observer. The farther out into space the observer looks, the faster space appears to expand away from the observer. The expenditure of dark energy inherent in this accelerated expansion of space is what gives rise the observer’s accelerated frame of reference. Due to the limitation of the speed of light (as a means of information transfer in three dimensional space) a cosmic horizon surrounds the observer at the central point of view. If we apply the holographic principle to the observer’s cosmic horizon, then all the bits of information that define the configuration states of every observable thing the observer can observe in its world are encoded on the observer’s horizon, which acts as a holographic screen that projects the images of all things to the observer’s central point of view. The expenditure of dark energy also gives a conceptual explanation for the differentiation of the observer’s consciousness at the central point of view or singularity of its world, which is the point of origin of the big bang event.

The Observer, the Screen and the Thing

The relational interpretation of quantum theory tells us that with the expenditure of dark energy every observer has its own world defined by its own observer-dependent cosmic horizon, explaining the nature of cosmic consciousness. The Hilbert space that defines everything observable in the observer’s world is understood in terms of bits of information encoded on the observer’s own cosmic horizon. A consensual reality shared by many observers becomes possible if their respective cosmic horizons overlap in the sense of a Venn diagram and share information, much like the kind of information sharing that occurs in an interactive network of computer screens, like the internet.

Overlapping bounded spaces

Leonard Susskind realized that the observer’s cosmic horizon acts as a holographic screen that projects all images of the observer’s world to the observer’s central point of view, just like the kind of holographic projection that occurs with a physical hologram. The observer’s holographic screen not only projects images of its world, but also projects the observer’s space-time geometry. Each projection of space occurs in a screen output, and a sequence of screen outputs animates that space-time geometry over a sequence of events. Within that projected and animated space-time geometry, the observer (as a focal point of consciousness) appears to follow a world-line. The observer’s horizon only arises because that world-line arises in an accelerated frame of reference due to the expenditure of dark energy.

Observer's Horizon

This holographic encoding of bits of information on the observer’s cosmic horizon is a result of non-commutative geometry. If position coordinates are defined on the observer’s horizon by a finite number of non-commuting variables rather than a continuum of an infinite number of commuting position coordinates, then in effect each quantized position coordinate on the horizon is smeared out into an area element that acts like a pixel and that encodes a bit of information in a binary code of 1’s and 0’s. If there are a total of n non-commuting variables defined on the horizon, these n bits of information are defined by the n eigenvalues of an SU(n) matrix. The Hilbert space for the observer’s world is defined by the quantization of the non-commuting variables. In quantum gravity, the pixel size is about a Planck area, which gives the total number of bits of information encoded on the observer’s cosmic horizon in terms of horizon area as n=(horizon area)/4(Planck area), which is the holographic principle.

Information01

Gravity, which is the curvature of the 3+1 dimensional space-time geometry projected from the observer’s holographic screen to the observer’s central point of view, is then understood to arise from the holographic principle as a thermal average when things are near thermal equilibrium. Ted Jacobson has shown that Einstein’s field equations for the space-time metric (which measure the curvature of the observer’s space-time geometry) arise from the holographic principle as thermodynamic equations of state, which are only valid as thermal averages near thermal equilibrium. Einstein’s field equations for gravity are then understood to only have the validity of a low energy limit.

Black hole projection

Unification of particle physics with gravity then becomes possible through the usual unification mechanisms of super-symmetry and the Kaluza-Klein mechanism of extra compactified dimensions of space. When these unification mechanisms are applied to Einstein’s field equations for the space-time metric, all the usual quantum fields of the standard model of particle physics are generated as extra components of the space-time metric. The final result is akin to 11-dimensional super-gravity, which is a part of M-theory, and is understood as a low energy limit. Internal structure of particles, like electric and nuclear charge, is understood as momentum quantized in extra compactified dimensions of space, while external structure, like ordinary quantized energy and momentum, is understood as a wave-packet in the extended dimensions of space-time. Since this particle behavior is understood to arise from components of the space-time metric, which is only valid as a thermal average near thermal equilibrium, all so-called fundamental forces and elementary particles are understood as a low energy limit or an effective field theory that only arises as a thermodynamic equation of state.

Compactified space

This analysis shows the importance of geometric mechanisms as means of creation. The expansion of space that occurs with the expression of dark energy and the holographic encoding of bits of information on an observer’s horizon that occurs with non-commutative geometry are both geometric mechanisms of creation. The unification mechanisms of super-symmetry and extra compactified dimensions of space are also geometric mechanisms of creation. Without these geometric mechanisms, there is no creation. Without creation of the observer’s world, there is no differentiation of the observer’s consciousness and only the undifferentiated consciousness of the void exists.

horizon information

The observable space-time geometry of the observer’s world is not only projected from the observer’s holographic screen to the observer’s central point of view, but is also animated over a sequence of screen outputs. In the sense of quantum theory, a screen output (projection) is a quantum state reduction, while animation (like the animated frames of a movie) is an ordered sequence of screen outputs. The quantum state of potentiality of the observer’s screen is defined by all possible ways in which bits of information can become encoded on the screen (in the sense of a sum over all possible paths in an information configuration space), and a screen output is a choice that chooses an actual path or an actual state of information. A sequence of screen outputs (animation) arises in the normal flow of energy through the observer’s world (normal in the sense of thermodynamics and the normal flow of heat from hotter to colder states). This gives rise to the normal course of time through the observer’s world as an ordered sequence of screen outputs or events. In the sense of quantum theory, the normal way for this animation to occur is to follow the path of least action, which is like the shortest distance between two points in the information configuration space, and which gives rise to the principle of least action as the classical limit of the quantum state.

Sum over all paths

The normal flow of energy through the observer’s world is understood to arise from an instability in the amount of dark energy. Inflationary cosmology postulates that at the initial moment of creation (the big bang event) dark energy took on a maximal value, but due to an instability, the value of dark energy transitions to a lower value, typically over a sequence of transitions, each of which is like a phase transition or a process of symmetry breaking. In each phase transition, some dark energy burns away and is radiated away as heat. Each phase transition is like the transition from a metastable false vacuum state to a more stable vacuum state of lower energy. As each transition occurs, the observer’s cosmic horizon inflates in size and cools in temperature. This temperature gradient drives the normal flow of energy through the observer’s world as heat tends to flow from hotter to colder states of the observer’s world. This flow of energy gives rise to both the projection of the observer’s space-time geometry from the observer’s horizon that acts as a holographic screen to the observer’s central point of view and the animation of the observer’s space-time geometry over a sequence of screen outputs.

quantum tunneling

The true vacuum state (which is called the void) has zero dark energy and absolute stability. In the final transition to the true vacuum state, dark energy burns away to zero and the observer’s horizon inflates in size to infinity and cools to absolute zero. In the sense of creation, the origin of the big bang event is the singularity that is the source of dark energy, while infinity is the sink as dark energy burns away to zero and heat is radiated away to infinity. In the sense that the observer’s horizon breaks the symmetry of empty space, this final transition restores the symmetry of space. In this final transition, the observable space-time geometry of the observer’s world is no longer projected from the observer’s screen or animated over a sequence of screen outputs, and so the observer’s world disappears from existence. In a metaphysical sense, this final transition to nothingness is both the end of the creation of the observer’s world and the end of the differentiation of the observer’s consciousness.

Illusion and reality

In this conceptual framework, the observer can have both a physical body and an ego, which is the observer’s mentally constructed self-concept. The observer’s physical body is defined by how bits of information are coherently organized on the observer’s holographic screen with the ability for self-replication of form over a sequence of screen outputs. Coherent organization allows for bits of information to become organized into recognizable forms (like distinct entities) that are projected from the observer’s screen to the observer’s point of view, and for the forms to become animated over a sequence of screen outputs. The observer’s physical body is born with the development of coherent organization (in the sense of symmetry breaking like a phase transition) and physical body death is a result of the loss of coherent organization and disorganization of form. All of these observable forms are projected like the animated images of a movie from the observer’s holographic screen to the observer’s central point of view.

Nietzsche

The observer also has a self-concept that in some sense is independent of its physical body. Psychology tells us the self-concept is body-based, but modern physics tells us the self-concept must have an extent in space and time that goes beyond the limits of the physical body. The reason the ego extends beyond the limits of the body has to do with quantum entanglement. All the bits of information that define the observer’s world are entangled because they’re encoded on the observer’s holographic screen. Entanglement is a consequence of holographic encoding, like the entangled bits of information defined by the n eigenvalues of an SU(n) matrix. Entanglement means the bits of information that give rise to the mental construction of the observer’s ego are not just located within the physical limits of the observer’s body or even to those things physically connected to the body, but extend throughout the observer’s world. This tells us that the observer’s holographic screen (that defines its world) is also a mental screen that allows for the mental construction of the observer’s self-concept. Entanglement is in effect before the observer’s physical body is born and after its physical body dies. Entanglement can give rise to the mental construction of the observer’s self-concept, which has the nature of self-referential thoughts, and allows for mental construction of the observer’s ego even after body death. Bits of information entangled on the observer’s screen can give rise to memories and self-referential thoughts that do not depend on a physical body. Self-referential thoughts are emotionally energized by expressions of desire to live a life in the world. In some sense, the manifestation of a physical body is a manifestation of that desire. That desire arises with the normal flow of energy through the observer’s world that animates its world, which can always be traced back to the expression of dark energy that creates the observer’s world in the first place.

singularity

The projection of images from the observer’s screen to the observer’s point of view is like the projection of movie images with the light of a movie projector or the projection of images from a physical hologram with the light of a laser. This projecting light can be called the light of consciousness, which can only emanate from the observer’s own focal point of consciousness. The observer’s light of consciousness gives rise to the observer’s focus of attention, which allows for choice in the sense of quantum state reduction, and which chooses the path the observer follows through its world.

Decision point

Although the normal flow of energy through the observer’s world may be sufficient to explain just about everything that appears to happen in its world, there are some things that it cannot explain. The normal (thermodynamic) flow of energy is unbiased as long as the choices that reduce the quantum state are unbiased, but as is well known, choices often become emotionally biased. The expression of emotional bias interferes with the normal flow of things in the sense of a quantum interference pattern. The normal (unbiased) choice is to follow the path of least action, but with the expression of emotional bias, it’s possible to choose to follow another path that deviates from the normal path, which can happen when the observer’s focus of attention becomes emotionally biased. When choices become emotionally biased, all bets are off and the laws of physics lose their predictability. Emotional bias in the observer’s focus of attention is what makes events in the observer’s world unpredictable. This emotional bias is also what emotionally energizes the observer’s self-concept, as the concept of self is emotionally related to the concept of other things in the observer’s world in emotionally biased ways.

Who I am not

The problem of identity is the problem of self-identification. Self-identification is a problem because it gives rise to a state of bondage, like a prisoner. The true nature of identity is a timeless, unchanging and undivided identity of pure being that does not depend on the creation of the observer’s world, the expenditure of energy in that world or the differentiation of the observer’s consciousness. This true identity of pure being can be directly experienced, but it can never be conceptualized, although it is often referred to as the void, nothingness or undifferentiated (non-dual) consciousness (awareness). On the other hand, the emotional process of self-identification can only lead to a false identity that arises as an emotionally energized false self-concept. Self-identification is always emotional in nature, and depends on the creation of the observer’s world, the expenditure of energy in that world and the differentiation of the observer’s consciousness. With this process of emotional self-identification, it’s as though the observer (the focal point of consciousness out in the audience) emotionally (falsely) identifies itself with the animated form of a character it watches on a screen (as emotionally animated images of the observer’s character are projected from the observer’s holographic screen to the observer’s central point of view).

Plato's cave

The true identity of pure being is only experienced when the differentiated consciousness of the observer returns to its primordial non-differentiated state of existence. This return to the pure being of undifferentiated consciousness or nothingness is only possible when energy is no longer expended, desires are no longer expressed, the observer’s world is no longer created, and the observer’s world disappears from existence. That’s the only way the creation and differentiation process can come to an end. Like awakening from a dream, when the dream comes to an end, the dream (world) disappears and only the true nature of the dreamer (nothingness) remains.

ying-yang

This is how Nisargadatta Maharaj describes the self-identification process:

Self-identifications are patently false and the cause of bondage.

You are the source of reality-a dimensionless center of perception that imparts reality to whatever it perceives-a pure witness that watches what is going on and remains unaffected.

It is only imagination and self-identification with the imagined that encloses and converts the inner watcher into a person.

The person is merely the result of a misunderstanding.

In reality there is no such thing.

Feelings, thoughts and actions race before the watcher in endless succession.

In reality there is no person, only the watcher identifying itself.”

Nisargadatta describes that “nothing perceivable is real”:

Nothing perceivable is real.

Only the onlooker is real, call him Self or Atman.

That which makes you think that you are a human is not human.

It is a dimensionless point of consciousness, a conscious nothing.

All you can say about yourself is ‘I am’.

You are and I am only as points in consciousness.

Nisargadatta also describes the “light of consciousness”:

Whatever happens, I remain.

At the root of my being is pure awareness, a speck of intense light.

This speck, by its nature, radiates and creates pictures in space and events in time, effortlessly and spontaneously.

Nisargadatta describes the Great Illusion:

The totality of all mental projections is the Great Illusion.

When I look beyond the mind I see the witness.

Beyond the witness is infinite emptiness and silence.

Nisargadatta describes the self-identification process occurs as the image of a person appears in the world like the image of a character projected from a screen to an observer:

I am like a cinema screen-clear and empty.

The pictures pass over it and disappear, leaving it as clear and empty as before.

The screen intercepts and reflects the pictures.

These are lumps of destiny, but not my destiny; the destinies of the people on the screen.

The character will become a person when he begins to shape his life instead of accepting it as it comes-identifying himself with it.

All this I perceive quite clearly, but I am not in it.

I feel myself as floating over it, aloof and detached.

There is also the awareness of it all and a sense of immense distance as if the body and the mind and all that happens to them were somewhere far out on the horizon.

To myself I am neither perceivable nor conceivable.

There is nothing I can point out and say ‘this I am’.

Nisargadatta describes self-identification as “ignorance”:

In ignorance the seer becomes the seen and in wisdom he is the seeing.

In reality all is one, the outer being merely a projection of the inner.

The objects in the world are many but the eye that sees them is one.”

Nisargadatta describes the observer at the center of its own world:

Delve deeply into the sense ‘I am’ and you will discover that the perceiving center is universal.

All that happens in the universe happens to you, the silent witness.

Whatever is done is done by you, the universal and inexhaustible energy.

There can be no universe without the witness, no witness without the universe.”

Nisargadatta describes the “purpose of creation”:

“The very purpose of creation is the fulfillment of desire.

Things happen by their own nature.

From my point of view everything happens by itself, quite spontaneously.

I do nothing. I just see them happen.”

Nisargadatta describes that “consciousness is the source of everything”:

Consciousness itself is the source of everything.

I see only consciousness, and know everything to be but consciousness, as you know the pictures on the cinema screen to be but light.

Once you realize that there is nothing in this world which you can call your own you look at it from the outside as you look at a play on the stage or a picture on the screen.

To know the picture as the play of light on the screen gives freedom from the idea that the picture is real.

In reality I only look.

Whatever is done is done on the stage.

Joy and sorrow, life and death, they are real to the man in bondage

To me they are all in the show, as unreal as the show itself.

It is enough to shift attention from the screen onto oneself to break the spell.”

Nisargadatta describes the “path of return”:

For the path of return naughting oneself is necessary.

My stand I take where nothing is.

To the mind it is all darkness and silence.

It is deep and dark, mystery beyond mystery.

It is, while all else merely happens.

It is like a bottomless well, whatever falls into it disappears.”

Nisargadatta describes the nature of truth-realization:

Every moment returns to its source, just as every wave subsides into the ocean.

Realization is in discovering the source and abiding there.”

Nisargadatta describes the “source of consciousness cannot be an object in consciousness”:

The source of consciousness cannot be an object in consciousness.

To know the source is to be the source.

I am not an object in consciousness but its source, its witness, pure shapeless awareness.”

Nisargadatta describes that Absolute reality “is the very source of reality”:

Absolute reality imparts reality to whatever comes into being.

It is the very source of reality.

It is ‘what is’-pure being-the timeless reality.

It is not perceivable; it is what makes perception possible.”

Nisargadatta describes the Supreme state of undifferentiated consciousness:

The Supreme state neither comes nor goes. It is.

It is a timeless state, ever present.

Before the mind happens, I am.

Before all beginnings, after all endings, I am.

All has its being in the ‘I am’ that shines in every living being.

Nisargadatta describes that as the observer’s central point of differentiated consciousness arises in the undifferentiated consciousness of the void (in pure being), the world appears (like the reflection of images from a surface or the projection of images from a screen):

In pure being consciousness arises.

In consciousness the world appears and disappears.

Consciousness is on contact, a reflection against a surface, a state of duality.

The center is a point of void and the witness a point of pure awareness; they know themselves to be as nothing.

But the void is full to the brim.

It is the eternal potential as consciousness is the eternal actual.”

Nisargadatta describes that (non-dual) awareness is beyond all:

Awareness is beyond all.

Awareness is primordial; it is the original state.

Awareness is undivided-aware of itself.

Nisargadatta describes “the way to truth lies through the destruction of the false”:

The way to truth lies through the destruction of the false.

To destroy the false you must question your most inveterate beliefs.

Of these the idea that you are the body is the worst.

It is the clinging to the false that makes the truth so difficult to see.

There is a deep contradiction in your attitude which you do not see.

See your world as it is, not as you imagine it to be.

See the person you imagine yourself to be as a part of the world you perceive within your mind and look at the mind from the outside, for you are not the mind.

Nisargadatta describes “the person is never the subject”:

The person is never the subject.

You can see a person but you are not a person.

The difference between the person and the witness is as between not knowing and knowing oneself.

Mere knowledge is not enough; the knower must be known.

Without knowledge of the knower there can be no peace.

I know myself as I am in reality.

I am neither the body nor the mind. I am beyond all these.

You are accustomed to deal with things, physical and mental.

I am not a thing, nor are you.

We are neither matter nor energy, neither body nor mind.

You are not the body. You are the immensity and infinity of consciousness.

Once you have a glimpse of your own being you will not find me difficult to understand.

You must gain your own experience.

We believe so many things on hearsay.

We never cared to verify.

Nisargadatta describes bodily existence is but “a movement in consciousness”:

I am not my body. I am the witness only.

All things are in me. I am not among things.

You are confused because you believe you are in the world, not the world in you.

You are so accustomed to thinking of bodies having consciousness that you cannot imagine consciousness as having bodies.

Bodily existence is but a movement in consciousness.”

Nisargadatta describes that “the person is in resistance to the very end”:

The person is in resistance to the very end.

It is the witnessing consciousness that makes realization attainable.

It is the witness that works on the person-on the totality of its illusions.”

Nisargadatta describes that “you progress by rejection”:

You progress by rejection.

To question is the essence of revolt.

Without revolt there can be no freedom.

When you refuse to open your eyes, what can you be shown?

Nisargadatta describes the self-destructive process of awakening:

“Destroy the wall that separates, the ‘I-am-the-body-idea’, and the inner and the outer become one.

Investigate your world, apply your mind to it, examine it critically.

Scrutinize every idea about it.

Everything must be scrutinized and the unnecessary ruthlessly destroyed.

There cannot be too much destruction.

For in reality nothing is of value.”

Nisargadatta describes the process of self-inquiry:

The seeker is he who is in search of himself.

Give up all questions except one: “Who am I?”

The only fact you are sure of is that you are.

“I am” is certain. “I am this” is not.

A false question cannot be answered. It can only be seen as false.

The question “Who am I?” has no answer. No experience can answer it.

All I can truly say is ‘I am’.

Nisargadatta describes that being is beyond perceptions in consciousness:

I am beyond consciousness and therefore in consciousness I cannot say what I am.

There is nothing wrong in the idea of a body, but limiting oneself to one body only is a mistake.

In reality all existence, every form, is my own, within my consciousness.

Nisargadatta describes that “reality is essentially alone”:

Reality is essentially alone.

Abandon the idea of a separate ‘I’.

Abandon all self-identifications. It is a vicious circle.

Only Self-realization can break it.

By focusing the mind on ‘I am’, on the sense of being, ‘I am so-and-so’ dissolves.

‘I am a witness only’ remains and that too submerges in ‘I am all’.

Then the all becomes the One and the One-yourself.

Nisargadatta describes that with awakening the dream disappears and only the true nature of the dreamer remains:

The dreamer is one.

I am beyond all dreams.

I am the light in which all dreams appear and disappear.

Nisargadatta describes the observer’s world is only created in an accelerated frame of reference as the focal point of consciousness of the observer follows a world-line. Without this expenditure of energy only the undifferentiated consciousness of the void exists:

The ‘I am’ in movement creates the world.

The ‘I am’ at peace becomes the Absolute.”

Nisargadatta describes “everything is a form of energy”:

Everything is a form of energy.

What is real is nameless and formless, pure energy of life and light of consciousness.”

Nisargadatta describes that “everyone lives in his own world”:

Everyone lives in his own world.

Everything is subjective.

You remain as pure being.

You are watching only; all else happens.”

Nisargadatta describes that “there is no such thing as a separate person”:

There is no such thing as a separate person.

Everything is the cause of everything.

Everything is as it is because the entire universe is as it is.

Nisargadatta describes the bondage of self-identification arises with emotional attachment:

Your attachment is your bondage.

There is trouble only when you cling to something.

It is your desire to hold onto it that creates the problem. Let go.

When you hold onto nothing, no trouble arises.

As long as there is the sense of identity with the body, frustration is inevitable.

It is because of your illusion that you are the doer.

Nisargadatta describes that “to be attached is to be selfish”:

To be attached is to be selfish.

As long as you have a self to defend you must be violent.”

Nisargadatta describes the bondage of self-identification arises with the expression of emotionally biased “free will”:

These is no such thing as free will. Will is bondage

It is your ego that makes you think that there must be a doer.

You are compelled to desire.

You cannot avoid action.

You make it possible by giving it attention.

You identify yourself with your desires and become their slave.”

Nisargadatta describes that “all attachment implies fear”:

All attachment implies fear, for all things are transient.

Fear makes one a slave.

Freedom from attachment is natural when one knows one’s true being.”

Nisargadatta describes the path of return is always a process of detachment:

Discrimination will lead to detachment.

You gain nothing.

You leave behind what is not your own and find what you have never lost:

Your own being.

Nisargadatta describes that liberation is “always from the person”:

Liberation is never of the person, it is always from the person.

The reward of Self-knowledge is freedom from the personal self.”

Nisargadatta describes that “freedom means letting go”:

Freedom means letting go.

Spiritual maturity lies in the readiness to let go of everything.

Giving up is the first step.

The real giving up is in realizing that there is nothing to give up, for nothing is your own.”

Nisargadatta describes that to give up all is to gain all:

“Give up all and you gain all.

Then life becomes what it was meant to be:

Pure radiation from an inexhaustible source.

In that light the world appears dimly like a dream.

Nisargadatta describes that life in the perceivable world is but a dream:

The world you can perceive is a very small world-entirely private.

Take it to be a dream and be done with it.

The world is but a reflection of imagination.

By forgetting who you are and imagining yourself a mortal creature you create so much trouble for yourself that you have to wake up, like from a bad dream.

What you call survival is but the survival of a dream.

Nisargadatta describes that “you are dreaming a dream you call the world”:

Realize that you are dreaming a dream you call the world.

When you have seen the dream as a dream you have done all that needs to be done.

Nisargadatta describes the barrier to awakening is the fear of impersonal being and nothingness:

Go beyond, go back to the source, go to the Self that is the same whatever happens.

See everything as emanating from the light which is the source of your own being.

Find the immutable center where all movement takes birth.

Be the axis at the center-not whirling at the periphery.

Nothing stops you except fear.

You are afraid of impersonal being.”

Nisargadatta describes that “to know that nothing is, is true knowledge”:

To know that nothing is, is true knowledge.

Nisargadatta describes that “what is caused by desire can be undone only in freedom from desire”:

What is caused by desire can be undone only in freedom from desire.

What you see as false dissolves.

Desirelessness comes on its own when desire is recognized as false.”

Nisargadatta describes the shift in the focus of attention that leads to awakening:

As long as there is consciousness of something, its witness is also there.

The two appear and disappear together.

Give attention to the witness to break the spell of the known-the illusion that only the perceivable is real.

As long as you believe that only the perceivable world is real you remain its slave.

To become free your attention must be drawn to the witness.

Nisargadatta describes that “when you refuse to play the game you are out of it”:

Whenever a thought or an emotion of desire or fear comes to your mind, just turn away from it.

Turn away. Refuse attention.

When you refuse to play the game you are out of it.”

Nisargadatta describes that with awakening the illusion of life in the world comes to an end and only timeless being exists:

I am dead already.

Physical death will make no difference.

I am timeless being.”

Nisargadatta describes the role surrender plays in awakening:

Self-surrender is the surrender of all self-concern.

It cannot be done-it happens when you realize your true nature.

When there is total surrender, complete relinquishment of all concern with one’s past, present and future, with one’s physical and spiritual security, when the shell of self-defense is broken, a new life dawns, full of love and beauty.

Complete self-surrender by itself is liberation.”

Nisargadatta describes the “ascension of consciousness” that arises with awakening:

Awareness comes as if from a higher dimension.

The witness that stands aloof-is the watchtower of the real-the point at which awareness, inherent in the unmanifested, contacts the manifested.”

Nisargadatta describes that one’s “true home is in nothingness”:

Love says “I am everything”.

Wisdom says “I am nothing”.

By itself nothing has existence.

Your true home is in nothingness.”

♦♦♦

Postcard from Nirvana

No One Here Gets Out Alive
Jim Morrison

wish-you-were-here

Postcard from Nirvana

Q: Why speculate about undifferentiated consciousness and the nature of the void?

A: Those of us who have not had the direct experience of the void can only speculate, but there is an extensive literature of testimonies by those who have awakened from the dream of separation to the unitary experience of infinite nothingness called Nirvana. The usual word for one who has awakened is a Buddha. For the purposes of this discussion, let’s focus on the testimony of Jed McKenna (2013), since I know of no better testimony about the nature of awakening nor a better conceptual discussion of the nature of consciousness.

eternal observer

Universal Observer

Q: What does McKenna have to say about his experience?

A: Let’s discuss what he has to say about the nature of consciousness first, since this will establish the framework within which the nature of awakening can be understood. McKenna gives a conceptual definition of consciousness in terms of Atmanic consciousness, which he identifies as the trinity of observer, observed and observing, and Brahmanic consciousness, which he says is the ground of Atmanic consciousness and identifies as the undifferentiated consciousness of the void.

Atman Brahman

Atman-Brahman

Q: Why make this distinction?

A: The whole thing has to start someplace and with something. The irony is the source of everything in the world can only be identified as the nothingness of the void. In the same way, the source of the observer’s consciousness can only be identified as the undifferentiated consciousness of the void. When we use the word source, we really mean potentiality. The nothingness of the void is the potentiality to create everything in the world, just as the undifferentiated consciousness of the void is the potentiality to differentiate itself into the individual consciousness of the observer. To put it another way, existence must have a primordial nature. The undifferentiated consciousness of the void is the primordial nature of existence, which we can call being, while the creation of everything in the world and the differentiation of consciousness into an observer is the nature of becoming. All concepts of matter, energy, space and time have to do with becoming. The nature of being is timeless, spaceless, matter-less and energy-less, but it is the potentiality to create all of these things and differentiate consciousness.

Q: How does this creation and differentiation occur?

A: The void can only be understood as the pure potentiality to create the geometry of the world, just as the undifferentiated consciousness of the void can only be understood as the pure potentiality to differentiate itself into an observer. In and of itself the void is a timeless or unchanging reality, which is to say the void cannot be characterized by time, space, matter or energy. The void can only be understood as the pure potentiality to create these things and differentiate itself into the observer of these things. This creation of everything in the world and the differentiation of consciousness requires the expenditure of energy. Carl Sagan once quipped: “If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe”. Modern cosmology tells us the universe is only created because dark energy is expended. In relativity theory, the expenditure of energy is referred to as an observer’s accelerated frame of reference. The only way an observer’s world can be created is if the observer’s accelerated reference frame begins with the expenditure of dark energy, which is understood in relativity theory as the accelerated expansion of space. As dark energy is expended, space appears to expand away from the observer’s central point of view at an accelerated rate; faster the farther out the observer looks into space. At some point, space appears to expand away from the observer at the speed of light. Since nothing can travel faster than the speed of light, this limitation gives rise to a cosmic horizon that limits the observer’s observations of things in space. If we apply the holographic principle to the observer’s cosmic horizon, this tells us only the expenditure of dark energy by the void allows for creation of the observer’s world and differentiation of the observer’s consciousness from the void. If this energy is not expended, there is no observer and no observer’s world. These things cannot come into existence without the expenditure of dark energy. If energy is not expended, only the void exists.

expanding universe

Accelerated Expansion of Space

Q: What does this tell us about the nature of the reality of the world?

A: The world is to the void the same way a virtual reality is to an absolute or ultimate reality. The analogy of an interactive computer network generated virtual reality is very powerful because of the holographic principle, which tells us all the images of things in the observer’s world are projected from a holographic screen to the observer’s central point of view. The holographic screen that defines the observer’s world is the observer’s cosmic horizon. The holographic principle tells us the observer’s horizon encodes bits of information in a binary code, with each pixel on the screen encoding a bit of information. The holographic principle is a natural result of non-commutative geometry, which is a way of quantizing position coordinates on the horizon. Each quantized position coordinate on the horizon is represented by a non-commuting variable, which in effect smears out the position coordinate into an area pixel. The bits of information encoded on the horizon pixels define the configuration states of everything observable in the observer’s world. Just like a virtual reality, the images of things are projected from the observer’s screen to the observer’s point of view. Each projection of images can be understood as a screen output. This projection of images from a screen to an observer in a screen output defines the nature of Atmanic consciousness as the trinity of observer, observed and observing. Just like a computer network generated virtual reality, these images of things are animated over a sequence of screen outputs that occur in the flow of energy that energizes the network of screens. At a fundamental level, the flow of energy arises from the expenditure of dark energy. Just like an interactive computer network generated virtual reality, the network of screens can share information. Information sharing is possible because the holographic screen of one observer can overlap with the screens of other observers. Even though each observer only observes the projection of images from its own screen, information sharing in the network of screens allows many observers to interact.

Overlapping bounded spaces

Overlapping Bounded Spaces

Q: If the world is like a virtual reality, what does this tell us about the laws of physics that seem to govern the world?

A: Even a computer network generated virtual reality has to have rules that govern its behavior, but the laws of physics in the form of Einstein’s field equations for the space-time metric, which is the nature of gravity, and the standard model of particle physics, which is the nature of the electromagnetic and nuclear forces, only arise as thermal averages that are valid near thermodynamic equilibrium, and so are only valid as low energy limits. We understand that Einstein’s field equations for the space-time metric are a gauge theory, which means they depend on the observer’s frame of reference, and therefore all observations of space-time geometry by an observer are observer-dependent. The standard model of particle physics as formulated with quantum field theory are also gauge theories, and therefore all observations of the electromagnetic and nuclear interactions also depend on the observer’s frame of reference and are observer-dependent. This gauge property of the laws of physics arises from the principle of equivalence, which says every force is equivalent to an observer’s accelerated frame of reference. This gauge property is also what allows the electromagnetic and nuclear forces to become unified with gravity through the Kaluza-Klein mechanism of extra compactified dimensions of space.

Compactified space

Extra Compactified Dimensions of Space

Q: What is the importance of this gauge property of the laws of physics?

A: We understand that all elementary particles are irreducible representations of the Poincare symmetry group, which is the nature of spin angular momentum. This is the symmetry of flat 3+1 dimensional space-time, or Minkowski space. Super-symmetry is a natural extension of Poincare symmetry. The problem is Poincare symmetry is only valid as a low energy limit. The space-time geometry of the world is not perfectly flat but is curved, which we perceive as gravity. As soon as an observer enters into an accelerated frame of reference, which with unification is the nature of gravity and all other fundamental forces, an event horizon arises that breaks the symmetry of empty space and limits the observer’s observations in space. In addition to spin, elementary particles are characterized by charges that mediate the fundamental forces. With unification, charges are understood to arise as angular momentum quantized in extra compactified dimensions of space. This can only be understood as a low energy approximation that is no longer valid in an accelerated frame of reference, since Poincare symmetry is broken in an accelerated frame of reference.

Observer's Horizon

Accelerating Observer’s Horizon

Q: If the behavior of the world is governed by rules, what kind of rules are valid?

A: Only the holographic principle has validity in an accelerated frame of reference and so transcends the idea of elementary particles and fundamental forces. The holographic principle is the idea that every observer has a holographic screen that encodes bits of information and projects the images of things in the observer’s world to the observer’s point of view. The observer’s holographic screen only arises because the observer is in an accelerated frame of reference, which is how an event horizon arises. The holographic screen that fundamentally defines the observer’s world is its cosmic horizon.

The Observer, the Screen and the Thing

The Observer, the Screen and the Thing

Q: Where does the holographic principle come from?

A: The void expresses its potentiality to create geometry with the expenditure of dark energy, which we understand as the accelerated expansion of space that gives rise to a cosmic horizon that surrounds the observer at the central point of view and limits the observer’s observations of things in that bounded space. With non-commutative geometry, the observer’s cosmic horizon encodes all the bits of information for those observable things and acts as a holographic screen that projects the images of things in the observer’s world to the observer’s central point of view. Both the observer’s holographic screen and the observer’s central point of view can only arise from the void as dark energy is expended. That is the nature of the creation of the observer’s world and the differentiation of consciousness into an observer. Differentiation and creation only occur because dark energy is expended.

Information01

Holographic Principle

Q: How does this give rise to the rules that govern the world?

A: The usual laws of physics only arise as a thermal average that is valid as a low energy limit. The holographic principle has validity that transcends the usual laws of physics, but the holographic principle is only a way of formulating how a quantum state of potentiality arises that describes all possible ways in which bits of information can become encoded on a holographic screen. Quantum theory tells us that with every observation of something a choice must be made. This choice reduces the quantum state of potentiality to an actual configuration state of information defined on the screen. In computer terms, each observation by an observer is like a screen output that projects the images of things from the observer’s screen to the observer’s point of view. This tells us that every observation of something by an observer is a choice that reduces the quantum state. Correctly interpreted in the context of dark energy, the holographic principle tells us that each observer has its own holographic screen defined on its own observer-dependent cosmic horizon, which is the nature of the observer’s Hilbert space for its world. The observer’s Hilbert space is defined by non-commuting variables defined on the observer’s screen.

horizon information

Horizon Information

Q: How are the choices that reduce the quantum state made?

A: Physicists would like us to believe all choices are made randomly, since that is the only way the laws of physics can have predictability. Only random choice allows the laws of physics to emerge as a thermal average and have predictability. The quantum state of potentiality is like a probability distribution that is measured as choices are made, which is the nature of observation. The quantum probability distribution is characterized by an interference pattern as seen in the double slit experiment. The most likely path in the sense of quantum probability is the path of least action, which is like the shortest distance between two points. The path of least action can be understood as the shortest distance between two points even in a curved space-time geometry, like the path of a great circle on the surface of a sphere. The only problem with this concept of quantum probability is the concept only makes sense if the choices that reduce the quantum state are made in a random or unbiased way. Only random choice gives this probability distribution its predictability. The problem is each of us knows our choices are not really made in a random way. Each of us is emotionally biased to make our choices in a biased way. Once bias enters into the way choices are made, all bets are off, and the laws of physics lose predictability.

Sum over all paths

Sum Over all Paths

Q: If every observation is a choice, how do we make our choices?

A: Only the observer can choose. The observer chooses what it observes in its world with its focus of attention on things in its world. The holographic principle tells us the observer’s quantum state of potentiality is formulated in terms of all possible ways bits of information can become encoded on the observer’s holographic screen, but quantum theory also tells us the quantum state can be formulated as a sum over all possible paths through the observer’s world. It is the observer itself as a focal point of consciousness that arises in relation to a holographic screen that follows this path through its world, which we call a world-line. The observer follows a world-line through the space-time geometry that is projected from its holographic screen and animated over a sequence of screen outputs. Each choice on that world-line is a decision-point where the observer chooses to observe an actual configuration state of information and chooses to follow an actual path through its world. These choices can only arise with the observer’s focus of attention on things in its world. If there is bias in the way the observer makes its choices, the laws of physics lose their predictability. This is really not such a big problem, since the laws of physics were never really laws in the first place, but only a thermal average description of the world that arises as a low energy approximation when random choice is the dominant way choices are made.

Decision point

Decision-Point

Q: It seems the observer’s holographic screen can only arise in an accelerated frame of reference as the observer follows an accelerating world-line. What exactly do you mean by an observer’s accelerated frame of reference?

A: The principle of equivalence tells us every force is equivalent to an accelerating frame of reference, like a rocket ship that accelerates through space. This is not only the case for gravity, but also for the electromagnetic and nuclear forces and the force of dark energy. In relativity theory we understand the force of dark energy is the accelerated expansion of space that expands relative to the central point of view of an observer, which gives rise to the observer’s cosmic horizon. The holographic principle then tells us all the bits of information that define the configuration states of everything in the observer’s world are encoded on this horizon, which acts as a holographic screen that projects images of things in the observer’s world to the observer’s central point of view. Like the animation of a movie, this projection of images occurs over a sequence of events that arise in the flow of energy through the observer’s world. Each observational event is like a screen output. Where does this energy come from? The exertion of a force always implies the expenditure of energy, like the energy expended by the thrusters of an accelerating rocket ship that force it forward through space. The force of dark energy that gives rise to an observer’s accelerated frame of reference is also what gives rise to the normal flow of energy through the observer’s world.

gravity

Principle of Equivalence

Q: How does this expenditure of dark energy give rise to the normal flow of energy through the observer’s world?

A: The second law of thermodynamics tells us heat flows from hotter to colder objects, but in global terms, heat flows from hotter states to colder states of the observer’s world. The holographic principle tells us the absolute temperature of the observer’s world at thermal equilibrium is set by the temperature of the observer’s cosmic horizon, and horizon temperature is inversely proportional to horizon radius. As the horizon expands in size it cools in temperature. The radius of the observer’s cosmic horizon is set by the amount of dark energy in the observer’s world. The higher the concentration of dark energy, the smaller the horizon radius. Modern cosmology tells us there is an instability in the amount of dark energy in the observer’s world. At the moment of creation of the observer’s world, which we call the big bang event, the concentration of dark energy was maximal, which corresponds to a minimal radius of the cosmic horizon of about a Planck length and the maximal temperature of the observer’s world. Due to an instability in the amount of dark energy, the concentration of dark energy decreases over time, which results in an inflation in the size of the observer’s cosmic horizon and a decrease in its temperature. This decrease in temperature as the horizon inflates in size is what drives the normal flow of energy through the observer’s world as heat flows from hotter states to colder states of the observer’s world. This decrease in the amount of dark energy does not occur continuously, but in discontinuous events that are like phase transitions. We understand this instability in the amount of dark energy is like a phase transition from a metastable false vacuum state to a more stable vacuum state of lower energy. The true vacuum state, which we call the void, has zero dark energy, a temperature of absolute zero, and absolute stability. This transition from a metastable false vacuum state to an ultimate true vacuum state is like a process of burning that burns away dark energy. Dark energy burns away in this phase transition. As dark energy burns away to zero, the observer’s cosmic horizon inflates in size to infinity and the observer’s world cools in temperature to absolute zero. This is the thermal gradient that drives the normal flow of energy through the observer’s world.

quantum tunneling

Metastable State

Q: What does dark energy tell us about the big bang event?

A: Dark energy is what puts the “bang” in the big bang creation event. Without the expression of dark energy there is no “bang” since there is no expansion of space. Space always expands relative to the central point of view of an observer, which is the point of singularity from which dark energy arises. The observer is surrounded by a cosmic horizon that acts as a holographic screen and that encodes all the bits of information that define the configuration states of everything the observer can observe in its world. Modern cosmology tells us all matter and energy in the observer’s world arise from dark energy through a process of symmetry breaking. The observational fact is the total energy of the observable universe is exactly zero, which tells us that everything is really nothing in disguise. This is possible in relativity theory since the negative potential energy of gravitational attraction can exactly cancel out all dark energy and all forms of positive energy that arise from dark energy, like mass and kinetic energy. In other words, everything in the observer’s world is in perfect balance.

ying-yang

Ying-Yang Balance

Q: You mentioned the laws of physics only emerge as thermal averages. What exactly does that mean?

A: The second law of thermodynamics is only a statistical or thermal average description of the world, but in the framework of the holographic principle tells us all the other laws of physics that appear to govern the observer’s world can only emerge as thermal averages. As long as things are near thermal equilibrium, the laws of physics only appear fixed and stable due to symmetry breaking, and in some sense have frozen out of the quantum state of potentiality like a phase transition that turns water into ice, although the better analogy is probably the spontaneous magnetization of a magnet. The laws of physics appear stable because they arise through symmetry breaking within a metastable or false vacuum state. The nature of symmetry breaking tells us that bits of information spontaneously become organized into complex forms as energy flows in a thermal gradient, like the spontaneous magnetization of a magnet. The expression of complexity arises with symmetry breaking because the organization of information occurs at a metastable state. Even the transition from one metastable state to another state is a kind of symmetry breaking. This is epitomized by a cosmological constant that is only a “constant” within a metastable state, while the transition from one value of the cosmological constant to another is a kind of phase transition. The upshot is all of the usual laws of physics, like gravity and electromagnetism, are not really fundamental, but are derivative of the holographic principle and only arise as thermal averages. Around the same time the holographic principle was discovered, it was also discovered that Einstein’s field equations for the space-time metric, which specify the space-time geometry of the observer’s world, arise from the holographic principle as thermodynamic equations of state that are only valid as thermal averages. The law of gravity isn’t really a law at all, but is only a thermal average description of the world that emerges as a statistical consequence of the holographic principle. The other laws of physics that govern the interactions of the electromagnetic and nuclear forces can then be understood to arise from Einstein’s field equations for the space-time metric through the usual unification mechanisms, which include super-symmetry and the Kaluza-Klein mechanism of extra compactified dimensions of space. All the usual quantum fields of the standard model of particle physics then arise as extra components of the space-time metric through unification mechanisms. The final result is akin to 11-dimensional super-gravity, which is a part of M-theory. Like gravity, the electromagnetic and nuclear interactions only arise from the holographic principle as thermal averages. Like the holographic principle, these unification mechanisms can all be understood as geometric mechanisms. The expansion of space that arises with the expression of dark energy and the pixelation of bits of information on a horizon with non-commutative geometry explain how bits of information become encoded on a holographic screen in relation to the point of view of an observer, while the instability in dark energy explains the origin of the thermal gradient that gives rise to the normal flow of energy through the observer’s world.

Flow of energy

Normal Flow of Energy Through the Observer’s World

Q: It’s often stated quantum theory is not consistent with relativity theory. Is that how you see things?

A: We’ve already seen that quantum field theory is based on the Poincare symmetry of flat 3+1 dimensional Minkowski space-time. Poincare symmetry is broken whenever an event horizon arises in an observer’s accelerated frame of reference, but there is a bigger issue than symmetry breaking. The problem isn’t so much that quantum theory per se is inconsistent with relativity theory, but that our interpretation of quantum theory is wrong. The standard Copenhagen interpretation of quantum theory is not consistent with relativity theory or modern cosmology. Only the relational interpretation of quantum theory is consistent with relativity theory and modern cosmology. The Copenhagen interpretation assumes there is a single quantum state that describes the universe and that multiple observers can measure the universe described by this single quantum state. This mistaken assumption is what creates the problem. The problem with the Copenhagen interpretation is that it assumes there is an objective quantum state that describes everything in the universe, which is called the wavefunction of the universe, and assumes all observers make their measurements by reducing this all-encompassing mega-quantum state of everything in creation. The wavefunction of the universe is assumed to be observer-independent, and all observers must reduce it to make their measurements. This faulty assumption leads to all the measurement paradoxes of quantum theory like the Wigner friend paradox. How can an observer be a part of this mega-quantum state from the point of view of another observer and vice-versa? The relational interpretation of quantum theory solves the measurement problem by assuming each observer has its own observer-dependent quantum state that is reduced as the observer makes an observation. The relational interpretation says the quantum state is observer-dependent and every observer has its own quantum state that describes its own world. In this way, every observer measures its own world as described by its own quantum state. I measure my world and you measure your world, but there is no God’s eye view of both my world and your world that can measure what appears to happen in both our worlds. The God’s eye view is a view from nowhere outside the universe. The only possible view of the universe is from inside the universe. The God’s eye view simply does not exist, but the conventional interpretation of quantum theory, which assumes a single quantum state of the universe that multiple observers can measure, assumes the God’s eye view does exist. This mistaken assumption of an observer-independent universe is the basic problem. Remove that assumption and the problem is solved. The holographic principle in the context of modern cosmology is an explicit solution to this problem. In relativity theory, the observer is only a frame of reference, specifically a point of view that arises in a reference frame, which can be thought of as the origin of a coordinate system. With a positive cosmological constant, which we understand as the expression of dark energy that gives rise to the accelerated expansion of space, the observer is the central point of view that arises in relation to a cosmic horizon. The critical point is that the cosmic horizon is observer-dependent and only arises in the observer’s accelerated frame of reference. With the holographic principle we understand the observer’s cosmic horizon encodes all the bits of information that specify the configuration states of every possible observable thing in the observer’s world. The holographic principle tells us the observer’s cosmic horizon acts as a holographic screen that projects observable images of things to the observer’s central point of view. Each projection of images is an observational event, which in computer terms is like a screen output, but in the context of quantum theory is a quantum state reduction. Each observer has its own cosmic horizon that encodes bits of information about its own world, which defines the observer’s quantum state of its world. The quantum state of my world is different than the quantum state of your world because our cosmic horizons are different. With the expression of dark energy that gives rise to the accelerated expansion of space, I am at the central point of view of my world, which is defined by how bits of information are encoded on my horizon, and you are at the central point of view of your world, which is defined by how bits of information are encoded on your horizon. There can only be consensus among what different observers observe in their respective worlds if their cosmic horizons overlap in the sense of a Venn diagram and share information. It seems like we inhabit the same world because of information sharing among worlds, but in reality each of us perceives our own world. In other words, there is no such things as objective reality if what we mean by reality is what is observable. The quantum state that describes the nature of observable reality has no objective reality, but is always observer-dependent and subjective. Each observer has its own observer-dependent Hilbert space of observable values. There is only consensus among different observers in terms of what each observes if their respective Hilbert spaces overlap and share information.

Q: It’s hard to believe all the complexity of the world is encoded on a holographic screen.

A: The animation of the world is just like the animation of a movie, except the development and animation of forms, including all life-forms, develops and occurs spontaneously. It all spontaneously emerges in the normal flow of energy through the observer’s world, but always under the direction of the focus of attention of the observer’s perceiving consciousness. Complex life-forms are able to develop due to the development of coherent organization as encoded on the observer’s holographic screen. The birth and development of the observer’s body can be understood in terms of the coherent organization of information, just as the physical death of the observer’s body can be understood in terms of the disorganization of information. Modern physics tells us the development of coherent organization arises through a process of symmetry breaking. This is as much the case for biological organisms as it is for physical objects. The only significant difference is the organization of physical objects through phase transitions is dependent on the transfer of heat, while biological organisms can also engage in a process of eating, which adds organizing potential energy to the organism. There is always a balance between the flow of thermal kinetic energy that tends to disorganize objects and organizing potential energy that tends to organize objects. When the balance shifts in favor of organizing potential energy, symmetry breaking occurs and coherent organization develops. When the balance shifts in favor of too much heat, disorganization occurs. As organizing potential energy is added to a body through a process of eating, the development of coherent organization naturally occurs through a process of symmetry breaking. Although symmetry breaking may be sufficient to drive the development of coherent organization in the observer’s body, the observer also plays a role in directing the organizing process through choices that occur with the observer’s focus of attention, especially when those choices become emotionally biased.

Q: How does this explain the nature of memory and learning?

A: Memory and learning are nothing more than the development of coherent organization. The best example of this is the kind of learned memory that develops as an athlete trains. When an athlete trains, coherent organization of information develops in the mind. This organization of information is not really processed or encoded in terms of neuronal activity that appears to occur in a three dimensional brain, which is only a holographic projection of images into space, but on a two dimensional holographic screen. The observer of the screen, which is only a focal point of consciousness that arises in relation to the holographic screen, observes the images that are projected from the screen into three dimensional space. Each projection of images is like a screen output from a computer screen. In terms of quantum theory, each screen output is a quantum state reduction that defines how information is actually encoded on the screen. The quantum state of the screen is a sum over all possible ways information can become encoded on the screen. This information is entangled, which we understand as an interference pattern. If you’ve ever looked microscopically at a piece of holographic film, you’ll only see an interference pattern. The two dimensional interference pattern encoded on the film has no resemblance at all to the three dimensional images projected into space from the holographic film to an observer. This tells us we are fundamentally looking at the wrong signal when we try to deduce how information is processed in the mind based on the neuronal activity of a three dimensional brain, which is only a holographic projection of how information is encoded on a two dimensional holographic screen. The screen is the more accurate description of how the mind encodes information. The interference pattern is what makes the observer’s perceived world appear holographic in nature. Entanglement of information on the screen is also the reason why events throughout the observer’s world are connected.

Q: How does this explain memory and learning?

A: When an athlete trains, information on the screen becomes coherently organized, which allows for learned behavior. With training or learning, coherent organization develops on the screen, which explains why learned behavior is possible in the sense of “doing” that follows from “seeing”. Once coherent organization or learned memory develops, no further information processing is necessary to connect the learned behavior to the perception of that behavior in a pattern of stimulus and response. The best way to understand stimulus and response is in terms of the phase space dynamical concepts of attractors and basins of attraction, like a river that drains a mountain range. Given a particular set of initial conditions (the stimulus) the flow of energy through the system evolves toward an attractor (the response), just like water flows in the drainage basin of a mountain range towards a river. The development of coherent organization (learned memory) is how the particular characteristics of the attractor (the river) and the basin of attraction (the mountain range) develop. Once coherent organization develops on the observer’s holographic screen, learned behavior in a rapid pattern of stimulus and response becomes possible. This behavior is always animated over a sequence of screen outputs, each of which reduces the quantum state of the observer’s screen. The quantum state reduction is instantaneous. As the screen output occurs, the observer instantaneously sees how images are projected from its holographic screen to the observer’s point of view. The only physical limitation in the rate of information processing is the speed of light, but this limitation only applies to how information appears to become transmitted through three dimensional space. The speed of light limitation does not apply to information processing on the screen or to the rate with which screen outputs can occur. The net result is the observer sees the sensory stimulus and almost instantaneously sees the motor response, which occurs in a split second. The motor response follows from the sensory stimulus due to the way bits of information are coherently organized on the holographic screen. The only delay is the time it takes for screen outputs to become animated in sequence, like the animated images of a movie projected from the screen to the observer. The observer sees the sensory stimulus and almost instantaneously sees the motor response. This explains why a trained athlete can “see” and “do” things almost instantaneously. With training and the development of coherent organization in the mind, “doing” follows directly from “seeing”. The key thing about learned behavior is to allow it to happen naturally. If you try to control it in an emotionally biased way, you’ll only interfere with it. Only unbiased choices allow things to play out in the normal way, which in the sense of quantum theory we understand as following the path of least action. All that really happens is the observer sees whatever appears to happen as images are projected from the holographic screen to the observer. The observer’s screen not only defines the observer’s mind, but also the observer’s world. Everything the observer can perceive in its world is defined by how information is encoded on its holographic screen, which is a mental screen. The observer itself is only a focal point of consciousness that arises in relation to the screen. All bits of information encoded on the screen are entangled in the sense of an interference pattern, just as quantum theory says. All of this organization of information occurs on a holographic screen, since that is where all the bits of information are encoded. The apparent information processing that seems to occur in a physical brain is misleading since it’s only a holographic projection from the screen to the observer. Neuroscience may be wasting its time by studying neuronal activity in a brain. At best, this kind of scientific investigation has limited validity. Only the holographic principle gives an accurate description of what is really going on in a mind in terms of learned memory and learned behavior, but none of this can happen without perception. The observer’s world only comes into existence if the observer is present to perceive that world. Perception is reality if what we mean by reality is what is perceivable. Of course, that is not the ultimate nature of reality. Ultimate reality is the source of the observer’s perceiving consciousness just as it is the source of the observer’s perceivable world. That ultimate reality is the undifferentiated consciousness of the void.

Q: So far we’ve discussed the nature of consciousness, how the observer’s consciousness is differentiated from the undifferentiated consciousness of the void, and how the observer’s world is created from the void, but not the nature of awakening. If the observer’s world is only like an interactive computer network generated virtual reality, then what is the nature of awakening?

A: McKenna says the virtual reality is like a dreamstate, which is an illusion. When one awakens from one’s dream, only one’s true nature remains. McKenna calls the true nature of the dreamer the truth, which he identifies as the undifferentiated consciousness of the void. McKenna says illusion, which he calls Maya, cannot be explained, but the holographic principle gives us a perfectly good scientific explanation of the nature of illusion. Amanda Gefter (2014) makes exactly this point. The nature of illusion can be explained and understood if we marry Gefter to McKenna. If people read McKenna and Gefter and marry them together, they can draw this conclusion for themselves. To paraphrase William Blake, this is the marriage of modern concepts of theoretical physics to timeless concepts of nonduality.

Illusion and reality

Q: What exactly is the connection of Gefter to McKenna?

A: The secret of this connection of consciousness to illusion is geometric mechanisms, of which the holographic principle is the prime example. McKenna even hints at this geometric connection, but doesn’t have the scientific background to expand the connection to its logical conclusion. When he says illusion cannot be explained he is being disingenuous. He even takes the first steps toward such an explanation. He makes the analogy of flatland, in which the void is a blank piece of paper, the observer is a point on the paper and the observer’s world is defined by a circle that surrounds the central point. This is the prototypical idea of a holographic screen that projects images of the observer’s world to the observer’s central point of view. The only reason such a geometric connection is possible is because the undifferentiated consciousness of the void is what exists prior to the creation of the geometry of the observer’s world. It is not only the potential to create that geometry, but the potential to differentiate itself into the observer. McKenna just doesn’t know how to take this idea further. That’s where the holographic principle comes in. Illusion is created whenever the void expresses itself through geometric mechanisms. When the void expends dark energy through the expansion of space and encodes information on a cosmic horizon through non-commutative geometry, it is expressing its potentiality to create an observer’s world out of itself and to differentiate an observer’s consciousness from itself.

Q: Are you saying the observer’s consciousness is part of the illusion?

A: Yes. Both Gefter and McKenna make exactly the same point. The individual consciousness of the observer is a part of the illusion that is created as dark energy is expended and the observer’s world is created. The idea that Atmanic consciousness is differentiated from Brahmanic consciousness as the observer’s world is created has been around for eons. This is stated explicitly in the Book of Genesis when it says the light is divided from the darkness as the world is created. Genesis is referring to the observer’s light of consciousness that is differentiated from the darkness of the void. This differentiation of consciousness is part of the illusion. The only stumbling block to understanding what this distinction between Atmanic and Brahmanic consciousness really means is in understanding how illusion is created. The holographic principle solves this mystery in a very straightforward way.

Q: What do you mean by the light of consciousness?

A: When one is enlightened, one can see it is one’s own light of consciousness, as it emanates from one’s own focal point of consciousness, that projects the images of one’s world from one’s screen, much like the light of a laser projects the images of a physical hologram. The observer’s focal point of consciousness is the singularity at the center of the observer’s world, and the light of consciousness emanates from the singularity. Genesis refers to the observer as the spirit of God, to the observer’s holographic screen as the face of the deep, and to the void as the abyss, the deep, or the darkness. Genesis also describes the world is only created as the spirit moves over the face of the deep, which we can understand as the observer’s world-line or accelerated frame of reference that gives rise to the observer’s horizon which acts as a holographic screen. The observer’s light of consciousness is what allows images of the observer’s world to become projected back to the observer. In the sense of focusing on things, the observer’s light of consciousness is what gives rise to the observer’s focus of attention.

singularity

Singularity: Light of Consciousness

Q: You seem to be saying that everything that appears in the world is part of the illusion and that nothing in the illusion is true. Isn’t there some aspect of the illusion that has some truth in it?

A: Yes, there is one important exception. Mathematical statements are part of the illusion, but can be seen to be true or false. The statement 1+1=2 is true, while the statement 1+1=3 is false. Mathematicians point out mathematical truths are directly seen and not learned. They have the nature of intuition. Even a young child without any formal education can intuit the nature of addition. The power of true mathematical statements and their logical consistency allows a scientific explanation of the illusion to appear within the illusion. Mathematical statements can be seen to be true or false as long as they are free of emotional bias, since they refer to something that is beyond subjectivity. What is beyond subjectivity is the source of the geometric mechanisms that give rise to mathematical statements as they appear within the illusion. The experience that mathematical truth is discovered from some ultimate unknown source of truth is the reason many mathematicians and physicists, like Einstein, consider themselves to be Platonists. That source of mathematics can only be understood as the undifferentiated consciousness of the void.

signpost-to-nonduality

Non-duality Signpost

Q: What proof do you have that what you’re saying is true?

A: You’ve misunderstood what I’m saying. The truth cannot be expressed in words. Science can only point to the truth in the sense of a signpost. Science is telling us that the true nature of existence is the undifferentiated consciousness of the void, but there is no way to prove this or even describe what it is except in the sense of nothingness, like an empty space of potentiality. This conclusion is what the logical consistency of science as formulated in terms of mathematics is telling us. The epitome of this conclusion are the Godel incompleteness theorems, which prove that no mathematical system as complicated as counting natural numbers can prove its own consistency. The proof of consistency is always found outside the mathematical system. This is another way of saying that the creator cannot be a part of its creation, or that the dreamer cannot be a part of its dream, or that the perceiver cannot be a part of its perceptions. It may feel or look like the perceiver is part of its perceptions, but that’s only another perception. Just as the proof of consistency is always to be found outside of the mathematical system, the creator is always found outside its creation, the dreamer is always found outside its dream, and the true nature of the perceiver is always found outside its perceptions. This is an inevitable consequence of the logical consistency of science as formulated with mathematical systems. Logical consistency requires there are no paradoxes of self-reference. The logical consistency of science is not based on any particular theory, but on the logical consistency of all possible theories as formalized in terms of mathematics. This is the importance of geometric mechanisms as a means of creation. These geometric mechanisms are the essence of relativity theory in the sense of the contraction and expansion of space, which we understand as the forces of gravity and dark energy, but are also the essence of quantum theory in the sense of a sum over all possible paths in some configuration space. Relativity theory and quantum theory are not particular scientific theories, but have the nature of overarching frameworks that give rise to particular theories. All possible theories are based on geometric mechanisms, but different geometric mechanisms can give rise to different theories. The logical consistency of all possible theories based on geometric mechanisms points to the undifferentiated consciousness of the void as the true or ultimate nature of existence, but that’s not a proof of its existence. The only possible proof available to anyone, which is the ultimate proof, is to become a Buddha and directly experience the undifferentiated consciousness of the void for oneself, at which point one ceases to exist as an individual self. Only the undifferentiated consciousness of the void as an empty space of potentiality can give rise to the point of view of the observer and the observer’s holographic screen. In the sense of projection of images of the observer’s world from the observer’s screen to the observer’s point of view, the observer is right at the edge of being outside its world. The only way to be outside the observer’s world is to go beyond the images of that world as projected from a holographic screen, at which point the differentiated consciousness of the observer must return to its primordial undifferentiated state of existence. This return to nothingness is all about what is beyond the images of the observer’s world.

finger-pointing-at-the-moon

Q: Where does the potentiality of the void to express itself and create a world come from?

A: It doesn’t come from anywhere. It’s the nature of what the void is. The mistake is to think of the void as something personal, like a God-like personality. The void expresses itself by creating a world for itself to perceive because it can. That is its potentiality. Its potential to express itself is like an impersonal force of nature, but its potentiality to create is always linked to its potentiality to perceive its creation. The void creates a world for itself to perceive because it can and because it feels good to do so. Creation is always linked to perception. This is just like a dreamer and its dream. The book of Genesis says that when God created the world, God saw “that it was good“. This feedback between creation and perception always requires the expenditure of energy, which is perceived as emotional feelings that feel good. Creation is the manifestation of desires, and that manifestation only goes forward because it feels good. A world is only manifested because of the fulfillment of desires. There is always an emotional link between the focus of attention of consciousness and the expression of emotional energy that arises as a consequence of the way attention is focused. There is nothing personal about this expression of the void’s potentiality. Everything we think of as personal is part of the creation. The mistake is to think of the void as something separate from yourself with its own desires and its own God-like personality. The void is the true nature of what you are. Its desires are your desires. Its consciousness is your consciousness. The only barrier to seeing this truth is the differentiation of your consciousness that occurs as your energy is expended, your desires are expressed and your world is created. There can be no world to perceive if consciousness does not differentiate itself into an observer of that world. Without the observer there is no world. The observer and its world always arise together. This is the answer to the Zen koan “If a tree falls in the forest and nobody is there to hear it, does it make a sound?” The answer is yes. A tree falling in the forest implies a perceivable world, and a world to perceive implies an observer of that world. That observer may be nobody, just a focal point of consciousness that arises in relation to a holographic screen that projects all the perceivable images of that world, but the observer must be present to observe that world for its world to come into existence.

Q: If differentiation of the observer’s consciousness and creation of the observer’s world are both a part of the illusion, like a virtual reality or dreamstate, then what is the nature of awakening? What does it mean to awaken from the dreamstate, and how does one awaken?

A: When one awakens from a dream, the dream disappears and only one’s true nature as a dreamer remains. What is the true nature of the dreamer? How is the dream created? We’ve already answered these questions. The true nature of the dreamer is the undifferentiated consciousness of the void. The dream is created as the void creates an observer’s world out of itself through the expenditure of dark energy and differentiates the observer’s consciousness from itself. For the dream to come to an end, the expenditure of this energy must come to an end. Since the expenditure of this energy is fundamentally the expression of the desire to live a life in the world, the dream can only come to an end if the expression of this desire comes to an end. One awakens when one becomes desireless.

Q: At a practical level, what does it mean to become desireless?

A: No one ever awakens out of love for truth or the expression of desire. McKenna says it just doesn’t work that way. The only way one awakens is if one becomes desireless, which requires the willingness to die. Not only the desire to live a life in the world must come to an end, but also the desire to become enlightened. McKenna says one doesn’t become enlightened out of love for truth but hatred of the lie, which is why one is willing to destroy one’s self. Self is a lie. McKenna says all self is false self. There is no true-self, only false self and no-self. There is no enlightened self. One doesn’t really become enlightened. One reverts back to one’s true nature when one stops living the life of a lie. It’s not that one becomes true; one only destroys the lie. When the lie is destroyed, only truth remains. Since the lie of self is emotionally energized, the only way one destroys the lie is to stop expressing desires that energize the lie, and that can only happen if one is willing to die. McKenna calls awakening a process of “ego death as a means to no-self”.

Nietzsche

Q: How does ego death lead to no-self?

A: Awakening is a self-destructive process of ego death that ultimately culminates in no-self. The individual consciousness of the observer returns to its primordial state of timeless existence and reunites itself with the undifferentiated consciousness of the void. McKenna says there is no true-self, only false self and no-self. All self is an illusion. There is no self or individuality in no-self, only one or unity. The awakening process cannot culminate until ego is totally annihilated. In the final Matrix movie, Neo finally becomes the One when he annihilates with agent Smith, who is the anti-Neo, like the annihilation of a particle antiparticle pair. McKenna is fond of quoting U G Krishnamurti: “the end of illusion is the end of you“. The big question is what it takes to totally annihilate your ego. Ego death is much more than body death, since it requires the willingness to bring all desires to live a life in the world to an end.

there is no spoon

There is No Spoon

Q: How does hatred of the lie of self lead one to become desireless?

A: The energy that drives the awakening process is hatred of the lie that results in a kind of suicide. This suicide is not physical body death but ego death. One does this not out of love of truth but hatred of the lie. The only way one ever returns to the darkness is to become dark. As long as one expresses light and love and the desire for life in the world, one is alive in the world. The only way one returns to the darkness is if one stops expressing light and love and the desire to live a life in the world. To use the Star Wars metaphor, the only way one goes through the awakening process is if one goes over to the dark side, not by expressing anger and resentment against others in the world, but by expressing anger against the lie of one’s own self. This self-destructive anger is a dark rage, or a death wish. This death wish can only be fulfilled through ego death, which is the end of all desires to live a life in the world. This willingness to become dark is metaphorically represented in the Matrix when Neo puts on his dark glasses every time he enters the Matrix. Neo’s willingness to see things in terms of the darkness represents his mission, which is a search and destroy mission of self-destruction that ultimately leads to ego death. In the first Matrix movie he undergoes a process of disillusionment culminating in a death/rebirth transformation, which McKenna calls the first step in the awakening process. In the final Matrix movie he undergoes the final process of ego death leading to no-self, which is the final step. That is the only path that leads to awakening and freedom. The freedom that one achieves is freedom from ego. Self-identification with ego is the illusion destroyed in the process of awakening. Freedom is not freedom of ego, but freedom from ego.

Q: What exactly is the ego?

A: The ego is the mentally constructed, emotionally energized self-concept. This self-concept is what the observer believes itself to be as long as the observer identifies itself with its ego. The ego is a false belief the observer believes about itself, which is a delusion. McKenna says “no belief is true” and “once delusion has been destroyed we can see it never really existed” since it was based on the illusion of self. The ego is mentally constructed as this self-concept is emotionally related to other things in the observer’s world. Only the expression of this emotional energy can make the observer feel like it is really self-limited to the form of its body as the observer perceives the expression of self-limiting emotional body feelings. Psychology tells us the ego is body-based, but modern physics tells us the ego must have an extent in space and time that goes beyond the limits of the physical body. The reason the ego extends beyond the limits of the body has to do with quantum entanglement. All the bits of information that define the observer’s world are entangled because they’re all encoded on the observer’s holographic screen. Entanglement means the bits of information that give rise to the mental construction of the observer’s ego are not just located within the physical limits of the observer’s body or even to things that are physically connected to the body, but extend throughout the observer’s world. Entanglement allows for mental construction of the observer’s ego even after body death. Since ego is only a collection of desires to live a life in the world, the expression of that desire can continue after body death.

Q: Can you elaborate on the process that leads to ego death?

A: McKenna says it is not possible to become true. In the sense of undifferentiated consciousness, truth is the true nature of what you are. It is the true nature of your being, and being is prior to becoming. As the Gospel of John says: “Before Abraham was, I Am“. You cannot become what you already are. On the other hand, you can become something false, which is what happens when you identify yourself with your character in the world that you are perceiving. You can only un-become what is untrue. McKenna says you cannot realize the truth, you can only un-realize untruth by destroying everything that is false, and in the process only the truth remains. The irony is when everything false is destroyed, nothing remains. This nothingness is the undifferentiated consciousness of the void. That is the true nature of what you are.

Q: How can this nothingness be the truth?

A: The nothingness of undifferentiated consciousness is the truth of what you are; the truth of what everything is. This is the critical distinction between being, which is timeless and unchanging, and becoming, which requires the expenditure of energy and constantly changes over the course of time. The undifferentiated consciousness of the void is the true nature of being, while the dynamical nature of the world with its space, time, matter, energy and differentiated consciousness of an observer is the nature of becoming. McKenna points out that the void is like an undivided empty space, which is the nature of unity and nothingness, and that this empty space has no limits or boundaries, and so is also the nature of infinity. McKenna likes to quote Melville: “truth has no confines”. This empty space is space-less in the sense that it is not defined by spatial relations among things perceived in the world, unlike the kind of perceivable space projected from a holographic screen to an observer. McKenna also says “the price of truth is everything”. One only reaches the final destination of the journey of awakening if one leaves everything behind. Everything is lost and nothing is gained. Every step in the journey of awakening is a loss, and as long as there is more to lose, there are more steps to take. McKenna says one trades everything for nothing, and makes a good deal. One discovers one’s true nature.

Q: The flip side of desire is fear. What role does fear play in awakening?

A: McKenna says the ultimate barrier to awakening is the fear of no-self, which is fear of nothingness. Paradoxically, this fear of nothingness is fear of the true nature of what you are. In a twisted way, one becomes afraid of one’s true nature. This can only happen because the ego is mentally constructed through paradoxes of self-reference and the observer identifies itself with its ego. The fear of no-self can only become a barrier to awakening due to the illusory nature of self-identification. It is as though the observer is watching a movie and identifies itself with the central character of that movie as the character gives a self-referential narration of the movie. This emotionally energized self-referential narration of the movie is the nature of the ego. The emotions that energize the ego are all desires to live a life in the world. This expression of desire is the mechanism that creates the illusion of self. The illusion of self is only created through the expression of desire to be somebody or something in one’s world. As you say, the flip side of that desire is fear. McKenna says all fear is ultimately the fear of no-self. The expression of fear defends the survival of the illusion of self. Just as the journey of awakening is a self-destructive process that destroys the illusion of self, the expression of fear is a self-defensive process that defends the illusion of self. The fear of no-self is the barrier to awakening, but this is a much greater fear than the fear of death, since it is always possible to assuage the fear of death with some belief about life after death. The fear of no-self is the fear of nothingness, and no fairy-tale can assuage that fear. The fear of no-self is the fear of losing everything, but as McKenna says: “No one knows what everything means until they’re paying it”.

Q: Are you saying that nothing can be taken with you after death?

A: No, I’m not saying that at all. It all depends on whether you awaken or not. This is the distinction between body death and ego death. If you awaken, which can only happen with ego death, you take nothing with you. Ironically, with awakening you return to a state of no-self in which there is no you. On the other hand, if you experience body death without awakening, you can take a lot with you into your next life. The observer is only a focal point of consciousness that arises in relation to a holographic screen that projects all images of the observer’s world. The observer’s body is one of those images, like the central character of a movie. Body death is only the disorganization of information in that image so that the body image is no longer coherently self-replicated in form after body death. The observer’s ego is much more than just the observer’s body since the ego arises from entangled bits of information that are dispersed throughout the observer’s world, and so the observer’s ego can persist after body death. The observer’s ego as an emotionally energized self-concept that arises from these entangled bits of information can give rise to memories, emotional attachments, and desires to live a life the world that persist after body death. If body death is not accompanied by ego death, the observer as focal point of consciousness can remain present for its world and take these things with it into its next life. If the observer becomes reincarnated into a new body, it can take some aspects of its old ego with it. Only ego death allows the differentiated consciousness of the observer to reunite itself with the undifferentiated consciousness of no-self. Since this is a return to nothingness, nothing is taken back to the nothingness. The fear of nothingness is the ultimate barrier to awakening that perpetuates this cycle of reincarnation into a new body. The usual word for this is karma, which is a word for the effects of all the perpetuated desires to live a life in the world. When McKenna discusses burning away karma, he means burning away desire. In scientific terms this is the burning of dark energy. McKenna describes the burning away of desires in much the same way the Buddha describes burning in the Fire Sermon:

Burning, burning, burning, burning
Oh Lord, Thou pluckest me out

When all desires to live a life in the world have finally burned away, the illusion of self is destroyed. The fear of no-self is the barrier to awakening, but the barrier is illusory since it is only created out of this desire to live a life in the world and the illusion of self. The only way to break through the barrier is to become desireless and awaken to one’s true nature as no-self. In a twisted way this makes sense if, as McKenna likes to say, we understand “life is but a dream”.

Q: Why is awakening so uncommon?

A: People say they want to know the answer about the nature of existence, but the sad truth of the situation is they really don’t want to know the answer if knowing means being a nobody. What people really want more than anything else in the world is not an answer, but to be somebody or something important in the world. This is the literal definition of narcissism, as one falls in love with the projected image of one’s own character in one’s world, and which we’re currently experiencing an explosion of epidemic proportions. We live in the age of the grandiose ego. People are motivated by the desire to be somebody or something important in the world, not by the desire to know the answer if knowing means being a nobody. That’s why it is not possible to discover the answer by expressing the desire to know. The answer is only discovered if one is willing to be a nobody, and that can only happen if one doesn’t want to be somebody or something in the world. In other words, one no longer wants to live a life in the world. One never awakens out of the love of self, but only out of hatred for one’s false self. This hatred of self becomes so intense that one becomes willing to die, but nobody really wants to die. The fear of no-self will always stand as the final barrier to awakening. Like the gateless gate paradox that describes the illusory nature of the barrier, McKenna is fond of quoting Chuang Tzu on the nature of no-self:

The man of Tao remains unknown.
Perfect virtue produces nothing.
No-self is true-self
And the greatest man is nobody.

Q: What does no-self mean?

A: No-self is the undifferentiated consciousness of the void. McKenna says it has no context and doesn’t mean anything. It Is. It is the nature of timeless being. All meaning is inherently emotional in nature and is established in an emotional context. Emotional connections always require the expenditure of emotional energy. In and of itself, the undifferentiated consciousness of the void expends no energy, has no emotional context, and has no meaning. Meaning can only come into existence through a process of becoming, which requires the expenditure of energy as an observer’s world is created and the observer’s consciousness is differentiated. The creation of meaning always requires the expression of desire. Without expression of desire, there is no meaning.

Q: Can you say more about the awakening process?

A: The process of awakening consists of two distinct but related phenomena: the dissolution of the observer’s individual consciousness into the nothingness of undifferentiated consciousness, and the ascension of the observer’s consciousness. Dissolution can only occur when the expression of all desires to live a life in the observer’s world come to an end. When the expression of all emotional energy comes to an end, the observer is no longer in an accelerated frame of reference and the observer’s holographic screen is no longer created. In this ultimate freely falling frame of reference, all images of the observer’s world disappear and only the observer’s underlying reality remains. That underlying reality of undifferentiated consciousness is the ground of the observer’s individual consciousness. The analogy often made is the observer’s individual consciousness dissolves into the undifferentiated consciousness of the void like a drop of water dissolves into the ocean. In the sense of spiritual reunion, the individual spirit of the observer reunites itself with the Supreme Spirit of the void. In the language of Advaita, Atman reunites itself with Brahman. Dissolution is also described as freely falling into the void. Dissolution of individual consciousness into undifferentiated consciousness is referred to as the experience of nothingness or Nirvana. The Tao tells us:

Ever desireless, one can see the mystery
Ever desiring, one can see the manifestations
These two spring from the same source
This appears as darkness
Darkness within darkness
The gate to all mystery

Q: What happens after dissolution?

A: If the observer comes back to its world after the experience of nothingness, even though energy is again expended and the observer’s world reappears, the observer is profoundly changed. This change is referred to as the ascension of consciousness. Plato gave an excellent description of ascension in the Allegory of the Cave. An ascended observer no longer observes its world as though it is a part of its world and no longer identifies itself with its character in that world, but instead perceives that world as though it has come out of its world and is looking down on its world from a higher level. All images of that world appear like movie images that are projected from a screen, and the observer can only know itself as the focal point of consciousness outside the screen to which those images are projected.

Plato's cave

Q: Is this how McKenna describes awakening?

A: This is exactly how McKenna and all other awakened beings describe awakening. McKenna says awakening cannot be explained conceptually, and uses the analogy of reading a book about a foreign land rather than actually making a journey to that foreign land. Awakening is like the journey to the foreign land, while concepts of awakening are only like reading a book or a postcard about the journey. When one actually makes the journey and comes back from that journey, one is profoundly changed.

Q: To clarify this analogy, which part is the journey and which part is the change?

A: The dissolution of individual consciousness into the nothingness of undifferentiated consciousness is the final destination of the journey, while the ascension of consciousness that occurs after the journey is over and one comes back to one’s world is the change in perception. McKenna calls this a journey to a “strange and lonely place called Done”, after which there is “no further”. The phrase “it is done” is found throughout the awakening literature, from Revelation 21:6 to Neo’s final death in the Matrix when he annihilates himself with agent Smith. Neo only becomes willing to annihilate himself when the Oracle tells him “Everything that has a beginning has an end“. As Revelation 21:6 says: “I am the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end”. That is the nature of being the undifferentiated consciousness of the void.

Q: Does McKenna have anything else to say about awakening?

A: McKenna describes the destruction of illusion as untruth-unrealization. Only illusion can be destroyed, not truth. Truth is what remains after all illusions disappear. That truth is the nothingness of undifferentiated consciousness, which is the ultimate nature of being. Everything perceived in the world is the nature of becoming, which is an illusion like a dream. Everything in the dream is false. The only truth is the true nature of the dreamer. The dream can begin when one starts dreaming, and the dream can come to an end when one awakens, but truth cannot change. The true nature of the dreamer is timeless and unchanging. Only after one comes back from the truth and starts dreaming again can there be a change in one’s perception of one’s world. That change in perception is the ascension of consciousness. This is how McKenna describes his experience: “Having undergone the process of untruth-unrealization, I am left not in an elevated state of superior knowledge, but in a knowledgeless state of superior elevation. I see everything, I understand everything, I know nothing”. McKenna is also fond of quoting Layman P’ang:

When the mind is at peace, the world too is at peace.
Nothing real, nothing absent.
Not holding onto reality,
not getting stuck in the void.
You are neither holy nor wise,
just an ordinary fellow who has completed his work.

Holding onto reality is the nature of emotional attachment to things in one’s world and one’s self-identification with one’s character in that world. Emotional attachments and self-identification always imply emotional bias. The ascension of consciousness is fundamentally a state without any emotional bias. McKenna also likes to quote the Tao: “the wise are impartial”. Getting stuck in the void is the nature of dissolution into nothingness. Between the illusion of self-identification and the truth of dissolution is the ascension of consciousness. An ascended observer is right at the edge of the abyss, or the singularity, that separates the existence of the observer’s world from the void and the non-existence of that world. McKenna refers to an ascended observer as “in the world but not of the world”.

Q: Is an ascended observer finally free of self?

A: No, even an ascended observer is not free of self. The only state of existence free of self is the ultimate state of existence, which is the undifferentiated consciousness of no-self. An ascended observer has come back to the illusion, and so has an illusory self, but an ascended observer can clearly see its illusory self is only a part of the illusion. As long as the observer continues to observe whatever appears to happen in the illusion, the observer will have an illusory self. The only real difference between self-identification and ascension is an ascended observer can clearly see the nature of the illusion and its illusory self. This is how McKenna puts it: “The process of awakening looks like it’s about destroying ego, but that’s not really accurate. You never completely rid yourself of ego-the false self-as long as you’re alive, and it’s not important that you do. What matters is the emotional tethers that anchor us to the dream state; that hold us in place and make us feel that we’re a part of something real. We send out energetic tendrils from the nexus of ego like roots to attach ourselves to the dream state, and to detach from it we must sever them. The energy of an emotion is our life-force, and the amount of life-force determines the power of the emotion. Withdraw energy from an emotion and what’s left? A sterile thought. In this sense, freeing ourselves from attachment is indeed the process of awakening, but such attachments aren’t what we have, they’re what we are.” McKenna also goes on to say: “Ego doesn’t need to be killed because it was never really alive. You don’t have to destroy your false self because it’s not real, which is really the whole point. It’s just a character we play, and what needs to be killed is that part of us that identifies with the character. Once that’s done-really done, and it can take years-then you can wear the costume and play the character as it suits you to do so, now in the character but not of the character.”

Q: What role does the observer’s focus of attention play in awakening?

A: McKenna points out that an investment of emotional energy always arises as the observer focuses its attention on things in its world. This energy emotionally relates the observer’s self-concept to other things in the observer’s world. If the observer’s focus of attention becomes emotionally biased, these emotional expressions also become emotionally biased, which is the nature of the emotional feedback loop. The only way this investment of emotional energy can be withdrawn away from the observer’s world is if the observer withdraws the focus of its attention away from its world. This withdrawal of emotional energy not only de-animates the observer’s self-concept, but also ultimately de-animates its world. The purpose of the observer’s withdrawal of attention away from its world is not to get lost in the void, but to awaken to its true nature. Nisargadatta points out the awakening process always requires a shift in the observer’s focus of attention, as the observer shifts its attention away from its world and onto its own sense of being present. Nisargadatta stresses that to awaken one must focus one’s attention on one’s own sense of being present. The observer as a focal point of consciousness can only focus on its own sense of being present. That is what it means for the observer to shift its focus of attention onto itself. Awakening to the ultimate state of undifferentiated consciousness is only possible if the observer keeps its focus of attention on itself as a focal point of consciousness while its emotional energy is withdrawn away from its world, its world is de-animated, and its world finally disappears.

Q: What role does emotional bias play in the awakening process?

A: Dissolution of the individual consciousness of the observer into the undifferentiated consciousness of the void is a desireless, timeless state of existence that expends no energy. After dissolution and the experience of nothingness or Nirvana, one can observe one’s world again and the expression of desire can resume. The difference is in this ascended state of perception the observer no longer identifies itself with its character in its world and the expression of desire is no longer emotionally biased in favor of its character. With the end of the expression of emotional bias, the observer no longer interferes with the normal flow of things in its world and the observer’s path through its world naturally comes into alignment with the normal flow of energy through its world, which gives rise to feelings of connection. The bliss experienced with enlightenment can only arise from feelings of connection that characterize the ascended state. McKenna refers to this non-interfering state of coming into alignment with the normal flow of things as the integrated state, and to an ascended observer that keeps itself in alignment as higher navigation. Without emotionally biased interference, things tend to come into alignment and play out for the best, which McKenna calls the best of all possible worlds.

Q: How are self-identification, emotional attachment and emotional bias related?

A: As soon as one becomes emotionally attached to things in the illusion, one feels the need to defend the survival of the illusion. Emotional bias arises with this desire to defend the survival of the illusion, both at the level of the observer’s emotionally biased focus of attention and the expression of biased emotions. As the observer’s character is emotionally related to other things in the observer’s world with self-limiting biased emotional expressions, the observer feels self-limited to its character as its perceives these biased emotional expressions, and so identifies itself with its character, which only perpetuates its emotionally biased focus of attention and the expression of more biased emotions. The desire to defend the survival of the illusion is primarily expressed with fear, but fear easily turns into anger and the desire to control things in an emotionally biased self-defensive way. This desire to control things is a way of defending one’s emotional attachments, which fundamentally arises from the fear of losing things. The problem is nothing really wants to be controlled and all things eventually resist these efforts at control, which inevitably leads to the frustration of one’s desire to control things. Out of frustration one may try even harder, redouble one’s efforts, and reinforce one’s desire to control things, but these actions are always counterproductive and only lead to more frustration. The more one tries to control things, the more frustrated one becomes, which only leads to the expression of more self-limiting emotional expressions. Attempting to defend the survival of the illusion and one’s emotional attachments to things in the illusion is a strategy that is bound to fail. The only resolution for this dilemma is with the willingness to relinquish the desire to control things and allow things to play out in the normal way as directed by the normal flow of energy through one’s world. That willingness to let things play out in the normal way is always a detachment process as one withdraws one’s emotionally biased focus of attention away from one’s world and withdraws one’s investment of biased emotional energy in one’s world. This detachment process also allows the observer to stop identifying itself with its character if the observer shifts the focus of its attention away from its character and onto its own sense of being present. Emotional attachments to things in one’s world and the desire to control things in an emotionally biased way perpetuate one’s self-identification with one’s character, while one’s willingness to detach oneself from one’s world and relinquish one’s desire to control things allows one to stop identifying oneself. The only Self that one can know if one does not identify oneself with one’s character is the focal point of consciousness we call an ascended observer. Even this Self is not a true-self, but only arises as part of the illusion. The only truth is the undifferentiated consciousness of no-self that remains when the illusion disappears.

Q: You’ve discussed the role detachment plays in the awakening process, but what about surrender?

A: McKenna says “Surrender follows naturally from seeing what is” and “To surrender is to relinquish the illusion of control, which initiates the death part of the death/rebirth process”. When McKenna says surrender follows from seeing what is, he means surrender follows from seeing what one really is. As long as one is observing one’s world, one is nothing but a focal point of consciousness present at the central point of view of one’s world. That differentiated focal point of consciousness is the nature of one’s being while one is observing one’s world. By surrender, McKenna refers to one’s willingness to relinquish one’s desire to control things in an emotionally biased way. When one sees that one is nothing but a presence of consciousness, one surrenders and gives up one’s desire to control things in a self-defensive way. One no longer feels the need to fight for the survival of one’s character or defend anything to which one has become attached. One not only stops trying to control things, but one stops being self-defensive, stops attaching oneself to things, and stops interfering with the normal flow of things. One just lets things play out in the normal way. This leads to the death part of the death/rebirth transformation. McKenna goes on to say: “The segregated self is slain and the integrated self is born” and ”It’s the primary death/birth process, and nothing proceeds until it happens”. One dies to one’s false self-identification with the embodied form of one’s character in the animated world that one is perceiving and is reborn to one’s true spiritual identity as the presence of consciousness that is perceiving that world. McKenna also says: “The necessary letting-go is itself a kind of death”. When one detaches oneself, it feels like something dies inside. Surrender is a necessary part of the detachment process. When one stops trying to control things, one also lets go of the things that one has become emotionally attached to in one’s world. This is giving up both in the sense of letting go of things and a surrender to the normal flow of things. When one no longer interferes with the normal flow of things and lets things play out in the normal way, one no longer feels disconnected, self-limited or segregated, but instead feels connected and integrated. The detachment process also gives rise to ascension. In a detached state, one observes events with a sense of distance. The outcome of this surrender process is what McKenna calls the integrated state. This is not the ultimate state of dissolution into nothingness, which can only be experienced when one awakens from one’s dream, but is more like lucid dreaming, as one awakens within one’s dream and becomes lucid within the dream.

Q: How is the desire to control things related to emotional attachments?

A: Almost everyone has the experience that when an important relationship begins to break up, one or both members of the relationship will try to impose their desires on the other and attempt to forcefully control the behavior of the other, which inevitably meets with resistance as the resisting member resists those efforts at control and frustrates the desires of the controlling member. Only this desire to control the other can perpetuate the emotional attachment to the other. These controlling actions are not only futile, but are also immature, which is why McKenna refers to the integrated state as Adulthood. When one finally sees the futility and immaturity of these actions and relinquishes this desire to control the other, one severs the emotional attachment to the other. When the attachment is finally severed, it feels like something dies inside. What dies is the emotional attachment to the other. McKenna describes this is like a process of death and dying in which one has to give up the desire to control something before one can grieve the loss of that thing and accept the loss. One only severs one’s emotional attachment to something if one gives up the desire to control it and accepts its loss. When McKenna says that to awaken: “what needs to be killed is that part of us that identifies with the character” he means our emotional attachments have to die.

Q: What does severing emotional attachments tell us about the nature of love?

A: The critical distinction is between possessive and non-possessive love. Someone who experiences possessive love is emotionally attached to things and feels the need to defend their attachments and control things. An ascended observer lives in a state of surrender and emotional detachment in which feelings of connection to all things arise and non-possessive love is experienced. The expression of possessive love indicates immaturity, like a needy child that becomes angry at its mother when its desires are frustrated and tries to control the behavior of its mother in an attempt to ensure its desires are satisfied. The experience of non-possessive love indicates maturity and willingness to allow things to freely come and go. Nisargadatta says: “Spiritual maturity lies in the readiness to let go of everything“.

Q: What role does surrender and the integrated state play in the awakening process?

A: McKenna calls the integrated state “halfway up the mountain”. Like the Zen koan says: “First there is a mountain, then there is no mountain, then there is a mountain again”. The state of disillusionment that arises when one clearly sees the Illusory nature of one’s false personal self is the first step in the journey of awakening. Surrender is a necessary part of that first step, but many more steps are necessary to totally deconstruct the mental construct of a personal self. Each of those steps is part of the detachment process. Surrender is necessary at each step. Surrender is the only way biased emotional energy can be withdrawn away from the mental construction of a personal self. One is only “done” with one’s journey when there is “no further”, which means there is “no mountain” in the context of the Zen koan. The disappearance of the world is a necessary aspect of dissolution into the nothingness of undifferentiated consciousness. That is the ultimate outcome of the surrender and detachment process. The “mountain” only reappears when one comes back to one’s world from this ultimate state.

Q: Can you review all the steps required for the awakening process?

A: The first step is disillusionment as one sees the illusory nature of one’s false self-concept. One sees that one’s self-concept only arises from an observable character in the animation one observes while one’s being and true identity can only arise from the consciousness that is observing the animation, like an observer in an audience watching the images of a movie projected from a screen. This leads to the death/rebirth transformation as one dies to one’s false self-identification with a personal self and is reborn in identity to the consciousness present at the singularity at the center of one’s world. Surrender is a necessary aspect of spiritual rebirth as one dies in identity to a personal self and no longer feels the need to defend the survival of this personal self. With surrender, one relinquishes the desire to control things in an emotionally biased self-defensive way. This is giving up both in the sense of letting go and a surrender. One no longer fights for the survival of one’s character or tries to control things in a futile attempt to enforce one’s emotionally biased desires on things. One just allows things to play out in the normal way. This leads to the integrated state as one’s own investment of emotional energy comes into alignment with the normal flow of energy through one’s world and one feels connected to things. The personal self dies away and the integrated self is born. If one stops here, one is halfway up the mountain. One is only done with the journey of awakening when there is no mountain. Many more steps of the journey are required to reach the final destination of the journey. Each step is a process of detachment as one withdraws emotional energy away from some desire to live a life in the world and severs an emotional attachment to something in the world. Since the ego is only a collection of desires to live a life in the world, the detachment process ultimately results in ego death when the expression of all these desires comes to an end. At that point, the bottom falls out and the whole thing collapses into the abyss as the expression of all energy in one’s world comes to an end. One’s world is no longer animated and disappears from existence. As one falls into the void, one’s individual consciousness reunites itself with the undifferentiated consciousness of no-self in the ultimate state of dissolution. If one comes back to one’s world from this ultimate state, one’s world reappears and the animation resumes, but one has ascended to the highest state of perceiving consciousness.

Q: Can you outline each step in the awakening process?

A: Here are all the necessary steps:

  1. The first step-Disillusionment. You don’t see what you are yet, but you see what you’re not. You see that you are not the character in the animated world that you’re perceiving.
  2. Surrender-Nothing can go forward until surrender occurs. You surrender and stop trying to defend the survival of your character when you see that you are not your character. What you are needs no defense. The true nature of your existence is never threatened when the survival of your character is threatened. You’re only defending the survival of an illusion of what you are. Awakening is only about bringing that illusion to an end. The illusion is only created since it really feels like you are your character when you perceive the self-defensive and self-limiting emotional body feelings that arise as you try to defend your character’s survival from the imagined or actual threats posed by other things in your world, which as long as you are self-identified, you will defend as though your existence depends on it. This self-defensiveness makes you identify yourself with your character, thereby completing the vicious cycle of self-defense that leads to self-identification and leads to more self-defense. The only way you can break the vicious cycle is to surrender, which can only happen when you see the true nature of your existence, which is never really threatened and needs no defense. You surrender when you give up the emotionally biased desire to control things in a self-defensive way. You stop fighting for the survival of your character and stop interfering with the normal unbiased flow of things. You give up and let go. You stop attaching yourself to things and let them come and go. You stop trying to control things. You put your trust in the normal flow of things to sort out what is for the best. You just allow things to play out in the normal way and watch them with a sense of distance. You stop resisting and fighting against the normal flow of things. You see the normal lines of flow and allow yourself to be carried along. That is how you come into alignment with the normal flow of things. Your reward for coming into alignment are feelings of connection, expressions of creativity, and a sense of right action. Your other reward for coming into alignment is the transcendence of self. You have no self-concern with the expression of creativity that occurs as you come into alignment, only feelings of connection.
  3. Death/rebirth transformation-You die to your false self-identification with your character in the animated world you’re perceiving and are reborn to your true identity as the presence of consciousness perceiving the animation. You come out of the animation like an observer in an audience watching a movie of images projected from a screen and see things with a sense of distance. The things you see are no more real than animated images projected from a screen. You can only know yourself as the presence of consciousness at the central point of view to which those images are projected. You see that it is your own light of consciousness emanating from your own focal point of consciousness that projects the images and animates them in the flow of energy that arises with your focus of attention on them. Once you clearly see your true nature you can never identify yourself with the image of your character again, but only know yourself as a presence of consciousness. Surrender naturally occurs as you see what you really are, which initiates the death part of the death/rebirth transformation.
  4. Shift in the focus of attention-You shift the focus of your attention away from your world and your character and turn the focus of your attention onto your own sense of being present, which is the process of turning around. This shift in the focus of one’s attention is one’s guiding light.
  5. Look within-You see the emotionally energized self-concepts that emotionally relate your character to other things in your world and that make you feel like you are self-limited to the animated form of your character as you perceive emotional body feelings. As you see the falseness of all self-concepts you destroy them by withdrawing emotional energy away from them as you withdraw your focus of attention away from them. You destroy them by no longer energizing them with your emotionally biased focus of attention and biased emotional expressions. This withdrawal of emotional energy leads to ego death since ego is only a collection of desires to live a life in your world and be somebody in your world. McKenna says: “To know the lie is to hate it; to see it is to slay it“. When you sever an attachment it feels like something dies inside because part of your ego dies away. Ego death is the result of severing all attachments to things. You initially become willing to sever attachments when you see the futility and immaturity of attaching yourself to things, but ultimately you become willing to sever all attachments when you see you’re living the life of a lie and you’d rather suffer ego death than live the life of a lie.
  6. Detachment-You detach yourself from your world and no longer identify yourself with your character as you sever all the emotional attachments that keep you attached to your world. You do this through surrender, giving up and letting go, and withdrawing the focus of your attention away from your world and your character that gives rise to the emotional energy that animates them. McKenna describes this relationship between surrender and detachment: “All attachments to the dream state are made of energy. That energy is called emotion. All emotions, positive and negative, are attachments. Humans are emotion-based creatures and all emotions derive their energy from one core emotion; fear. Fear cannot be confronted or slain because it is fear of nothing, of no-self. The desire to slay fear is itself a fear-based emotion. Fear can only be surrendered to; the thing feared entered. You can spend your life hacking away at the million-headed hydra of attachment and never make any progress, or you can follow emotional energy back to its source, its lair, and see Leviathan, enemy of light, for what it really is: your heart“.
  7. The final step-Dissolution. You focus your attention on your own sense of being present as a focal point of consciousness, withdraw your attention away from your world, and withdraw the animating energy away from your world. Your world is no longer animated and disappears from existence. You fall into the void and reunite your consciousness with the nothingness of undifferentiated consciousness like a drop of water that dissolves into the ocean.

Q: Why does McKenna say one’s heart is the enemy of light?

A: The whole problem starts with the fear of non-existence. One fears one’s own non-existence. This is delusional since the true nature of one’s existence is no-self. One only mistakenly equates the true nature of one’s existence with the survival of one’s character. One makes this mistake as one identifies oneself with one’s own character. Since one fears the non-survival of one’s character as though one’s existence depends on it, one tries to defend the survival of one’s character in an emotionally biased controlling way. These self-defensive actions make one feel self-limited to the form of one’s character and reinforce one’s self-identification with one’s character. One’s fear of non-existence is what drives one’s desire to control things in a self-defensive way, but one can’t really control things, and so one’s desire to control things is inevitably frustrated. This frustration makes one feel angry and drives one’s desire to control things even harder, leading to even greater frustration and anger. That is the vicious cycle that one finds oneself in. The only possible resolution for this dilemma is if one surrenders and gives up one’s desire to control things. With surrender, one puts one’s trust in the normal flow of things to sort out what is for the best and accepts the outcome of all situations as for the best even if that means that one’s character dies. One accepts that the true nature of one’s existence has nothing to do with the survival of one’s character, and so one allows things to play out in the normal way. As one gives up one’s desire to control things, one detaches oneself from things and sees things with a sense of distance from them. The detachment process applies to one’s own character as much as it does to anything else one perceives in one’s world. This is the process of detaching oneself not only from one’s world, but also from one’s character in that world. It is not possible to detach oneself from one’s world unless one detaches oneself from one’s own character. When one attaches oneself to things in one’s world, one also attaches oneself to one’s own character, which is the nature of the self-identification process. That’s what McKenna means when he says one’s heart is the enemy of light. McKenna is saying that one’s heart, which represents all the things that one loves about one’s life in one’s world, is the enemy of one’s own light of consciousness. One’s heart represents all the things to which one emotionally attaches oneself through the expenditure of emotional energy. The fear of no-self is the fear of losing all these things. That fear only reinforces the attachment process. The only way one can know the true nature of one’s existence is if one becomes willing to lose all of these things. One must become willing to lose everything and gain nothing. The process of giving up and letting go, which is the nature of surrender, is the only way the detachment process works, which is always a process of withdrawing emotional energy away from one’s world. That is what McKenna means when he says one must surrender to the nothingness one fears, which is the only way one can reunite oneself with the undifferentiated consciousness of no-self.

Q: Does McKenna have anything else to say about severing attachments?

A: McKenna likes to quote the Bhagavad-Gita, which describes how the warrior Arjuna fell on the battlefield when he saw that to awaken he had to sever his attachment to everything he loved in his world. In the metaphor of a battle, he had to kill all the things he loved. His attachments had to die as part of the process of ego death, but ego doesn’t want to give up the ghost. He only got back up and rejoined the battle when he saw that he was living the life of a lie, which is why he became willing to sever his attachment to everything he loved and suffer ego death rather than live the life of a lie. McKenna also quotes the Gita about how to act in a detached way: “Act but do not be attached to the fruits of your actions“. This becomes possible when you stop trying to control the flow of things, let go, detach yourself, surrender and allow your actions to come into alignment with the normal flow of things.

Q: Can you discuss how the first step in the journey of awakening leads to the final step?

A: McKenna says that without the first step, awakening is not possible, but once you take the first step, not awakening is not possible. It all hinges on the first step. You cannot make progress in your journey until you take the first step. If you don’t take this first step you are stuck. You are a prisoner, feeling self-identified with your character and feeling compelled to defend the survival of your character as though your existence depends on it. Self-identification and self-defense can only arise with the expression of self-limiting body feelings that keep you imprisoned. Freedom is only possible if you bring the expression of those self-limiting body feelings to an end. That can only happen if you surrender and stop defending and identifying yourself with your character. The key aspects of the first step in the journey of awakening are disillusionment, surrender and initiating the death part of the death/rebirth transformation. That is the only way you can bring an end to the feeling of being identified with your character and feeling like you must defend the survival of your character as though your existence depends on it. Feelings come and go, but you are always present as a presence of consciousness that perceives whatever comes and goes. Everything in your world, even your character, comes and goes, but you are always present to perceive it. Even your world comes and goes. As long as you have a world, you are present to perceive whatever comes and goes in that world. When your world goes away, you can only return to your source. As long as you have a world to perceive, you as a presence of consciousness can only say I Am about yourself, but when your world disappears from existence, you are not and only the Source Is. Since you have returned to the source, it doesn’t really matter whether you exist or only the source exists. In reality, you and your source are one and the same. The first step in the journey of awakening is about making the self-limiting body feelings that perpetuate your self-identification with your character and your self-defense of your character as though your existence depends on it go away, or bringing their emotional expression to an end. The final step in the journey of awakening is about making your world go away, or bringing your world to an end.

Q: Can you say anymore about the path that leads to awakening?

A: There are only two paths that lead to awakening: surrender and the shift in the focus of your attention away from your world and onto your own sense of being present. These two paths converge as they both lead to detachment. Your surrender requires your willingness to give up your desire to control things in an emotionally biased self-defensive way. You stop interfering with the flow of things, become willing to accept the normal flow of things, and allow things to play out in the normal way even if that turns out to be bad for your character in your world. Only your surrender leads to the death part of the death/rebirth transformation. As you sever your attachment to your character and stop identifying yourself with your character it feels like something dies inside because part of your self dies as you detach yourself. Self is only the emotional self-identification of perceiving consciousness with a perceivable character. This is a self-identity that only seems real because the perception of self-limiting emotional body feelings feel real. The truth is you are only defending an illusion of what you are, like a character in a dream. Self is the illusion created as perceiving consciousness emotionally identifies itself with its character and becomes emotionally biased to defend the survival of its character. The truth of what you are needs no defense. It is the source of perceiving consciousness and its emotionally energized character. No matter what appears to happen to the character in the dream, nothing ever happens to the true nature of the dreamer. Nothing can happen to the dreamer since its true nature is nothing perceivable. Your goal is to see the truth of what you are as the dreamer of the dream. When you finally see the truth, you naturally surrender. The problem as Osho says is: “You cannot surrender. You are the hindrance. Surrender happens when you are not.” Nisargadatta says: “Surrender cannot be done. Surrender happens when you realize your true nature.” McKenna says: “Surrender follows naturally from seeing what is.” That’s why the path of shifting the focus of your attention away from your world and character and turning the focus of your attention on your own sense of being present leads to surrender and detachment. Nisargadatta says there is no easier or more direct path to awakening. One last point about awakening. If you want to discover a conceptual explanation about the nature of awakening, it’s better to do so before you awaken. You may not have any desire or motivation to understand awakening at a conceptual level after you awaken. Like all other desires, the desire to understand awakening is given up and lost in the process of awakening. If asking questions and finding answers is your life-defining purpose, you may have to do so before you awaken. After awakening you may not have any more questions and you may no longer look for answers.

Q: You’ve made it clear awakening can only occur with ego death, but I have questions about what happens to consciousness after body death. Can you elaborate?

A: If body death is not accompanied by ego death, the individual consciousness of the observer, which is only a focal point of consciousness that arises in relation to a holographic screen that projects all images of the observer’s world, may hang around its world until it finds a new body to inhabit, and some aspect of the observer’s old ego may get incorporated into the new body. That would explain why some people can remember past lives. Some sage defined enlightenment as “you don’t have to be born again“. As long as the observer’s ego survives after body death in some rudimentary, diffuse or incoherent form, the observer does have to be born again, since the desire to live a life in the world has not come to an end. Ego is really nothing more than a haphazard collection of desires to live a life in the world. Only ego death, not just body death, can bring the expression of all these desires to an end. If body death is not accompanied by ego death, these desires continue to be expressed, and so the ego continues on in some disembodied form. This disembodied ego would arise from entangled bits of information that are dispersed throughout the observer’s world, and that give rise to a sense of self that is more than just the observer’s sense of being present, such as fragments of memories and emotional attachments that may have to do not only with the observer’s immediate past life but with many past lives. The best way to think of a disembodied ego is as a collection of desires to live a life in the world that persist after body death due to the entanglement of information in the observer’s world. As Einstein tells us, this is “spooky action at a distance.

spooky action

Spooky Action at a Distance

Q: What does this tell us about the nature of ghosts?

A: It may be that when people interact with a ghost, they’re really interacting with a disembodied ego and not directly with the spirit, which is the observer’s consciousness. It may also be the case that when a person evolves to a higher plane of existence, like a channeled entity, it’s only this disembodied ego that evolves. The evolution of a disembodied ego to a higher plane of existence is then a distinctly different phenomena than the ascension of consciousness to a higher level, but it’s easy to see how they could become confused with each other. A highly evolved disembodied ego could be the nature of a shaman or a spirit walker, like Carlos Castaneda’s Don Juan, which has more to do with mystical experiences in the world, like lucid dreaming, than with awakening from the dream, which ends the dream. Everything we think of as spiritual experiences in the world are really more of the nature of mystical experiences, like lucid dreaming, rather than awakening from the dream, which is the end of the dream.

References:

Gefter, A., Trespassing on Einstein’s Lawn: A Father, a Daughter, the Meaning of Nothing and the Beginning of Everything, Random House. 2014.
McKenna, J., Jed McKenna’s Theory of Everything, Wisefool Press. 2013.

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Postscript

Everyone ultimately undergoes the truth-realization process and ends up “fully enlightened” for the simple reason the expenditure of all energy must eventually come to an end. The truth-realization process is only the undoing of the differentiation process that creates the observer’s world in the first place. The differentiation process requires the expenditure of energy, and that differentiation process must come to an end when energy is no longer expended. When energy is no longer expended, the observer’s world disappears, the observer’s individual consciousness reunites itself with the undifferentiated consciousness of the void, and only the void exists.

This is how McKenna puts it: “Success in realizing one’s true nature is absolutely assured because, well, because it’s one’s true nature. The greatest wonder isn’t that you’ll make it back, it’s that you made it away. Returning is the motion of the Tao. Struggling to achieve truth is in its own way as preposterous as struggling to achieve death. What’s the point? Both will find you when it’s time. Should we worry that if we fail to find death, death will fail to find us? Of course not, and neither death, nor taxes, nor gravity, nor tomorrow’s sunrise is as certain as the fact that everyone will end up fully enlightened, regardless of the path they take.”

The expenditure of energy eventually comes to an end for the simple reason that all energy eventually burns away and heat is eventually radiated away to infinity. This thermodynamic flow of heat through the observer’s world is the essence of the differentiation process that creates and animates the observer’s world. Without this thermal flow of energy, it is not possible to create and animate an observer’s world or perpetuate the differentiation process. Modern cosmology tells us the source of all this energy is the dark energy that creates the observer’s world in the first place. We understand that the expression of dark energy is the expansion of space that expands relative to the central point of view of the observer and that gives rise to the observer’s cosmic horizon. With the holographic principle, we understand that the observer’s horizon encodes all the bit of information that define the configuration states of everything in the observer’s world, and that the observer’s horizon acts as a holographic screen that projects the images of all things in the observer’s world to the observer’s central point of view. The expenditure of dark energy is the essence of the differentiation process. In the sense of the big bang, the observer’s focal point of consciousness is the singularity that gives rise to the expression of this energy. The source of this energy in the observer’s world is the singularity itself. Cosmology also tells us that all dark energy eventually burns away to zero and the observer’s cosmic horizon eventually inflates in size to infinity. All states of the observer’s world are characterized by a non-zero value for dark energy. Dark energy must eventually burn away to zero in these states since they all have the nature of a metastable false vacuum state. Only the true vacuum state with zero dark energy has absolute stability. As dark energy burns away to zero, heat is radiated away to infinity, and so infinity is the sink for all this radiated heat energy. The source of the energy is the singularity, and the sink is infinity. That is the nature of the normal flow of energy through the observer’s world that gives rise to the differentiation process that creates and animates the observer’s world. In the process, the observer’s individual consciousness is differentiated from the undifferentiated consciousness of the void. When the expenditure of energy and the differentiation process comes to an end, as it must when all energy burns away and heat is radiated away to infinity, the observer’s individual consciousness must reunite itself with undifferentiated consciousness.

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As Joseph Campbell liked to say: Eternity “is not a long time”. Eternity “has nothing to do with time”. Eternity is a timeless state of existence. Time can only come into existence with the expression of energy, which is the expression of desire. The desireless state is a timeless state of being. Nisargadatta says the same thing. From the perspective of observing a time-bound world, what Nisargadatta and other truth-realized beings refer to as the direct experience of the eternal is difficult for us to understand, but the best analogy is the relation of a dreamer to its dream. The hard thing for us to wrap our minds around is that the true nature of the dreamer is the nothingness of undifferentiated consciousness.

This is how McKenna puts it:

The truth of the situation is that eventually, there’s nothing.
Infinity. Eternity. The void.
Time and space come and go but what’s true is true and all the rest is but a dream.
Truth is one, is non-dual, is infinite, is one-without-other.
Truth is dissolution, no-self, unity.
You are true or you’re a lie, as in ego-bound, as in dual, as in asleep.

Nisargadatta puts it this way:

The Supreme state neither comes nor goes. It is.
It is a timeless state, ever present.
Before the mind happens, I am.
Before all beginnings, after all endings, I am.
All has its being in the ‘I am’ that shines in every living being.
The dreamer is one.
I am beyond all dreams.
I am the light in which all dreams appear and disappear.
For the path of return naughting oneself is necessary.
My stand I take where nothing is.
To the mind it is all darkness and silence.
It is deep and dark, mystery beyond mystery.
It is, while all else merely happens.
Reality is essentially alone.
To know that nothing is, is true knowledge.

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The expenditure of energy in the observer’s world is directly related to the observer’s focus of attention. When the focus of attention is withdrawn away from one’s world, so too is the expenditure of one’s energy. The ultimate state of dissolution into undifferentiated consciousness can only occur as the observer focuses its attention of its own sense of being present while all energy is withdrawn away from its world and its world disappears. When the focus of attention is redirected back to the observer’s world, the expenditure of energy resumes and the observer’s world reappears.

This is how Nisargadatta puts it:

In pure being consciousness arises.
In consciousness the world appears and disappears.
Consciousness is on contact, a reflection against a surface, a state of duality.
The center is a point of void and the witness a point of pure awareness; they know themselves to be as nothing.
Nothing perceivable is real.
Only the onlooker is real, call him Self or Atman.
At the root of my being is pure awareness, a speck of intense light.
This speck, by its nature, radiates and creates pictures in space and events in time, effortlessly and spontaneously.
That which makes you think that you are a human is not human.
It is a dimensionless point of consciousness, a conscious nothing.
You are and I am only as points in consciousness.
I see only consciousness, and know everything to be but consciousness, as you know the pictures on the cinema screen to be but light.
Once you realize that there is nothing in this world which you can call your own you look at it from the outside as you look at a play on the stage or a picture on the screen.
To know the picture as the play of light on the screen gives freedom from the idea that the picture is real.
It is enough to shift attention from the screen onto oneself to break the spell.

McKenna describes that the withdrawal of one’s focus of attention away from one’s world leads to the withdrawal of one’s emotional energy that animates one’s character, and that when this emotional context comes to an end, the light of consciousness returns to the darkness:

Even now it takes a conscious effort to maintain my false self, my dream character-to animate it, to keep it running. And this trajectory I’m on will take me as close to non-existence as anyone can get and still have a body.”

Like a child flicking a switch that turns the world off like a light. What can you say when the thing that ends isn’t within a context, but context itself?
Come see for yourself
.”

Like Nisargadatta, McKenna describes life in the world as a dream, or like a movie that an observer in an audience watches as images are projected from a screen to the observer’s point of view. Enlightenment or awakening requires the disappearance of the dream:

The enlightened view life as a dream.
You wake up and the dream is gone as if it never was.
All the characters and events that seemed so real have simply vanished.
The enlightened may walk and talk in the dream world, but they don’t mistake the dream for reality.
Members of movie audiences don’t leap out of their seats to save characters in the film. If they did, they would be hauled off to the nearest mental health facility and treated for a delusional disorder.

McKenna also gives an overview of the entire enlightenment process:

Before enlightenment I believed my ego was me, then enlightenment comes along and no more ego, only the underlying reality.
Now it’s after enlightenment and this ego might be slightly uncomfortable or ill-fitting at times, but it’s all I’ve got.
The idea that your ego is destroyed in the process of becoming enlightened is roughly correct, but it’s not complete.
Before enlightenment, you’re a human being in the world, just like everyone you see.
During enlightenment you realize the human being you thought you were is just a character in a play, and that the world you thought you were in is just a stage, so you go through a process of radical deconstruction of your character to see what’s left when it’s gone.
The result isn’t enlightened-self or true-self, it’s no-self.
When it’s all over it’s time to be a human being in the world again, and that means slipping back into costume and getting back on stage.
Now you’re actually in the audience, watching the drama.
I could never mistake the play for reality again, or my character for my true state.

Osho describes that with awakening “one becomes pure space

We call Buddha the awakened one.
This awakening is really the cessation of inner dreaming.
When there is no dreaming you become pure space.
This non-dreaming consciousness is what is known as enlightenment.

Osho describes the dissolution of one’s individual consciousness into the nothingness of no-self as “I am not

The inner emptiness itself is the mystery.
When the inner space is there, you are not.
When you dissolve, the inner emptiness is there.
When you are not, the mystery will be revealed.
You will not be a witness to the mystery, you will be the mystery.

Osho also describes dissolution as “falling into the void

You fall into an abyss, and the abyss is bottomless: you go on falling.
That is why Buddha has called this nothingness emptiness.
There is no end to it. Once you know it, you also have become endless.
At this point Being is revealed: then you know who you are, what is your real being, what is your authentic existence.
That Being is void.

♦♦♦

This is what McKenna says about “what is one to do” after awakening from one’s dream:

Die. That’s the obvious answer. Drop the body. Be done with it. But why? Why not live? Why not stay? Why interfere with the flow of things?”

♦♦♦

Nisargadatta describes the kind of life that is lived after awakening:

When there is total surrender, complete relinquishment of all concern with one’s past, present and future, with one’s physical and spiritual security, when the shell of self-defense is broken, a new life dawns, full of love and beauty.”

“Complete self-surrender by itself is liberation.”

Nisargadatta tells us the basic problem is our common sense view of the world, which is delusional since it’s based on self-identification:

“Self-identifications are patently false and the cause of bondage.
Your attachment is your bondage.
Abandon all self-identifications. It is a vicious circle.
Only Self-realization can break it.
Liberation is never of the person, it is always from the person.
Freedom means letting go.
Spiritual maturity lies in the readiness to let go of everything.
Discrimination will lead to detachment.
You gain nothing.
You leave behind what is not your own and find what you have never lost:
Your own being.”

McKenna says much the same thing about surrender and freedom:

Ego is obstruction, surrender is flow.
Surrender is the basis and precursor of growth.
There is no growth possible within egoic constraints, only the illusion of growth.”

“Once we free ourselves we come into alignment.”

♦♦♦

Matter is a Form of Consciousness

In a recent New York Times Op-Ed: Consciousness isn’t a Mystery, It’s Matter, Galen Strawson writes: conscious experience is itself a form of physical stuff, and the hard problem is not what consciousness is, it’s what matter is. He asks: what is the fundamental stuff of physical reality, the stuff that is structured in the way physics reveals? He answers: we don’t know-except insofar as this stuff takes the form of conscious experience.

We’d like to point out this argument is a strawman. Once the primordial existence of consciousness is accepted, modern physics has already shown that it’s exactly the other way around: physical stuff is a form of consciousness. Ironically, this brings us back to the mystery of the primordial existence of consciousness. This line of reasoning is discussed in detail by Amanda Gefter in her recent book Trespassing on Einstein’s Lawn as she surveys the landscape of modern physics. Based upon the recent observational discovery of dark energy and the theoretical discovery of the holographic principle she concludes that nothing is ultimately real.

Gefter defines ultimate reality in terms of what is invariant for all observers. Since modern physics tells us every observer’s observations are observer-dependent, nothing can ultimately be real. Everything an observer can possibly observe depends on the observer’s frame of reference. Only the primordial nothingness of the void is invariant for all observers and therefore can ultimately be real.

The only thing needed to complete Gefter’s argument about the nature of ultimate reality is to identify the primordial nothingness of the void as undifferentiated consciousness, while the perceiving consciousness present for living organisms is differentiated consciousness. This premise tells us the individual perceiving consciousness of the observer is differentiated from the undifferentiated consciousness of the void. This essay gives the scientific reasons why her argument can be extended in this way.

The concept of ultimate reality is at the heart of all discussions of ontology, which is the study of what exists in reality. This directly leads into a discussion of being and becoming. This critical distinction between the concepts of being and becoming has a long philosophical tradition, beginning with the works of Plato. The idea of becoming has to do with the nature of the world, specifically the physical and mental world we experience through the perception of the world. All ideas of space, time, matter and energy have to do with becoming, while being has to do with something that is prior to becoming. As modern physics clearly points out, not to mention the conclusions of many modern philosophers, the only thing that is prior to to the creation of the world is the nothingness of the void. In this sense, the void is the ultimate nature of being. Simply put, being is prior to becoming.

Relativity theory tells us that even the dynamical space-time geometry of the world has the nature of becoming. The holographic principle tells us that all the physical and mental  images of the world are projected from a holographic screen to the point of view of an observer, and that these images of the world are animated through the expenditure of energy that animates the world, not unlike the animation of a movie. Everything in the world, from elementary particles to body and mind, is animated.

The animation of all things in the observer’s world requires the expenditure of energy, which relativity theory refers to as an accelerated frame of reference. It is always the observer itself as a focal point of consciousness that enters into an accelerated frame of reference. The holographic principle tells us that if energy is not expended and the observer’s frame of reference is not accelerated, the observer no longer has a holographic screen, and so all images of the observer’s world must disappear.

The big question is about what finally exists when the expenditure of energy comes to an end. Correctly interpreted, the holographic principle tells us that without the expenditure of energy only the nothingness of the void can exist, which is therefore the ultimate nature of reality. Only this nothingness is invariant for all observers. Since the flow of time is directly related to the expenditure of energy, this is a timeless or an unchanging reality.

If the void is the ultimate nature of being, while all the animated images of the world projected from a holographic screen to the point of view of an observer are the nature of becoming, then what is the relation of the void to the world? The holographic principle tells us the only possible bridge that can connect the void to the world is the focal point of consciousness we call an observer. The perceiving consciousness of the observer must have a source, which can only originate from the void itself. In this sense, the perceiving consciousness of the observer can only be understood as differentiated.

Correctly understood, the holographic principle is telling us that the focal point of consciousness of the observer is differentiated from the all-encompassing empty space of the void whenever a holographic screen arises in that empty space and projects images of the world to the observer. Since the perceiving consciousness of the observer is differentiated, the consciousness of the void can only be understood as undifferentiated. Undifferentiated consciousness is what it means to say the void is the ultimate nature of being. As undifferentiated consciousness, the ultimate nature of being is One Being.

This nondual concept of One Being has a long metaphysical tradition, ranging from the Tao Te Ching to the Hindu Vedas to Zen Buddhism. It can be found in the works of Plato and the Advaita tradition of Shankara. Most modern philosophers have also come to the conclusion of the nothingness of being and that the ultimate nature of being or ground of being can only be identified as the nothingness of the void.

This is also what modern physics tells us when correctly interpreted in the context of the holographic principle. The fundamental reason this is the correct interpretation is logical consistency. This is the only possible interpretation that is not fraught with the logical inconsistency of paradoxes of self-reference.

The nature of life in the world has to do with the animation of forms. These animated forms have a tendency to hold together while animated, which modern physics calls the coherent organization of information. The holographic principle tells us that all the bits of information that become organized into forms are encoded on a holographic screen; that forms are animated with the expenditure of energy that characterizes the world; and that images of forms are projected to the point of view of an observer.

At least superficially, the nature of death has to do with the disorganization of information in forms so that they no longer can hold together and become animated as distinctly perceived entities. At a deeper level, an argument can be made that the nature of death has to do with the transition of consciousness from the differentiated perceiving nature of an observer to its ultimate undifferentiated nature.

The holographic principle is telling us that the focal point of consciousness of the observer is the bridge that connects the ultimate being of the void to the becomings of the world. This also tells us that the nature of life in the world is about becoming, while the ultimate nature of death is about the final transition from becoming and the differentiation of consciousness to undifferentiation and ultimate being. In this transition, the illusion of life in the world comes to an end. Ultimately, death is not only the end of the illusion of life in the world, but also the end of the illusion of separation.

The other way to say this is that consciousness is the true nature of what we are. The holographic principle tells us that the perceiving consciousness of the observer can only be identified as the focal point of consciousness at the center of its world. As we perceive the becomings of a world, the nature of our individual consciousness and being is differentiated from the void. This differentiation process can only occur as a holographic screen arises from the void and projects all the images of that world to the observer’s central point of view. If the holographic screen does not arise, this principle also tells us that the ultimate nature of our consciousness and being is undifferentiated.

Correctly interpreted, the holographic principle tells us that all physical and mental experiences are manifestations of our consciousness. Whenever we have a physical or mental experience, we manifest the experience we perceive either as an external sensory perception, an internal emotional body feeling, a memory, a thought, or some other form of mental imagination. The holographic principle tells us that all these perceptions are analogous to images projected from a holographic screen to the point of view of an observer. The screen defines our physical and mental world and the observer is only a focal point of consciousness. The mystery of our existence is that we exist as a point of consciousness.

The really big mystery is that ultimately we exist as the infinity of undifferentiated consciousness, which is the void. The void expresses its potentiality through the expression of energy, fundamentally as dark energy, which is the expansion of space. The expression of this energy is an expression of desire, specifically, the desire to create and perceive a world. From that expression of desire arises a physical world and all the possible physical and mental experiences of that world. We might even venture to say the void creates a conceptual world for itself in order to explain itself to itself within that world, and then is able to return to itself after it has gained this conceptual understanding of itself. Such a conceptual understanding is not possible in the ultimate state of existence, only in a conceptual world.

What is the scientific evidence for such bold statements about the nature of reality? Relativity theory tells us the expression of dark energy is the exponential expansion of space, which always expands relative to the central point of view of an observer. Due to the limitation of the speed of light, a bounding surface of space called a cosmic horizon arises surrounding the observer at the central point of view that limits the observer’s observations of things in space. If the holographic principle is applied to the cosmic horizon, all the bits of information that define everything the observer can observe in this bounded region of space are encoded on the cosmic horizon.

Leonard Susskind realized the observer’s cosmic horizon acts as a holographic screen that projects the images of things in space to the observer’s central point of view. This is just like the projection of images from a computer screen to an observer, except the images appear three dimensional since their nature is holographic. Amanda Gefter has stressed that in the sense of quantum theory and a Hilbert space, the observer’s holographic screen defines everything the observer can possibly observe in its world. She also realized that a consensual reality shared by many observers becomes possible if their respective holographic screens overlap in the sense of a Venn diagram and share information.

Where does the holographic principle come from? The holographic principle is automatically in effect if non-commutative geometry is applied to a bounding surface of space. Position coordinates on the surface are no longer represented by ordinary continuous numbers, but by non-commuting variables, which is a way of quantizing position coordinates. In effect, each possible quantized position coordinate defined on the surface turns into an area pixel that encodes a bit of information.

Raphael Bousso has shown the holographic principle is a general property of relativity theory called the covariant entropy bound, which is a consequence of very general focusing theorems. The holographic principle is best understood as a geometric mechanism that allows all the bits of information that define things in a bounded region of space to become encoded on the bounding surface of that space. The bounding surface acts as a holographic screen that projects the images of things observed in that bounded space from the screen to the point of view of the observer. This geometric mechanism naturally arises with the expression of dark energy, the expansion of space, and non-commutative geometry.

How do the laws of physics that appear to govern the behavior of everything in the observer’s world fit in with the holographic principle? The strange answer is that all the laws of physics are derivative of the holographic principle, but they can only arise as thermodynamic averages. Ted Jacobson has shown that Einstein’s field equations for the space-time metric, which determine the space-time geometry of the observer’s world, arise from the holographic principle as thermodynamic equations of state, which are only valid as thermal averages. In other words, the law of gravity isn’t really a law at all, but is only a thermal average that is a statistical consequence of the holographic principle.

The other laws of physics that govern the interactions of the electromagnetic and nuclear forces can be understood to arise from Einstein’s field equations for the space-time metric through the usual unification mechanisms, which include super-symmetry and the Kaluza-Klein mechanism of extra compactified dimensions of space. All the usual quantum fields of the standard model of particle physics then arise as extra components of the space-time metric through these unification mechanisms. The final result is akin to 11-dimensional super-gravity, which is a part of M-theory. Like gravity, the electromagnetic and nuclear interactions only arise from the holographic principle as thermal averages. Like the holographic principle, these unification mechanisms can all be understood as geometric mechanisms.

These geometric mechanisms pretty much explain the creation of the observer’s world, the nature of all physical and mental stuff in that world, and why that world appears to be governed by the laws of physics. The observer’s world is only created because the void has the potentiality to express these geometric mechanisms. The void expresses its potentiality as it creates a world through geometric mechanisms, such as the expansion of space, and observes that world from the central point of view of that world, as all the physical and mental images of that world are projected from a holographic screen to the point of view of the observer.

Modern Physics Tells Us Life in the World is an Illusion

“Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one”-Albert Einstein

It helps to back up and review in detail how modern physics has brought us to this critical point in the development of science. Modern physics is concerned with the nature of the physical world, which is to say matter and energy apparently existing within some kind of space-time geometry. There is a big puzzle in the connection between consciousness and modern physics in that all the matter and energy in the physical world that apparently exists within some kind of space-time geometry is composed of observable things like fundamental particles, while there is a long metaphysical tradition that equates the nature of being to consciousness itself, which is to say the observer of the observable things.

The big conundrum is about whether consciousness itself, as the observer of the observable things, can arise from some complicated configuration of the observable things like a human brain. Is it possible that consciousness arises from the things it observes? The simple answer is no. The problem with this idea is that it lacks logical consistency and inevitably leads to paradoxes of self-reference. All serious thinkers that have considered this puzzle have come to the conclusion that this idea is not possible, which begs the question: where does perceiving consciousness come from?

eternal observer

Wheeler’s Universal Observer

The scientific answer to this question about the source of perceiving consciousness is really about what is ultimately real. Is the physical world the ultimate nature of reality, or is there an ultimate state of reality that is beyond the physical world? Until recent discoveries in physics, many physicists held the position that the physical world is the ultimate nature of reality, but that position is no longer tenable.

The basic difficulty with this position goes back to the problem of the unification of quantum theory with relativity theory, which is the problem of fundamental particles existing in some kind of space-time geometry. Relativity theory tells us there is no such thing as an absolute space-time geometry, and so with unification there can be no such thing as fundamental particles. Change the space-time geometry as observed from the point of view of an accelerating observer, and the symmetries of that space-time geometry also change. Since all so-called fundamental particles reflect the symmetries of the space-time geometry as representations of a symmetry group, there really is no such thing as fundamental particles.

The ultimate example of this dilemma is an event horizon, which always arises from the point of view of an accelerating observer. The observer’s horizon fundamentally limits the observer’s ability to observe things like particles in space. As Hawking realized with the discovery of Hawking radiation from the horizon of a black hole, an accelerating observer that accelerates away from the black hole horizon in a rocket ship does not observe the same set of particles that a freely falling observer observes that freely falls through the black hole horizon. The basic problem is the event horizon of the black hole breaks the symmetry of empty space, and so radically alters what these two observers call fundamental particles. For the freely falling observer, particles of Hawking radiation do not exist.

Hawking radiation2

Hawking Radiation

How can particles of Hawking radiation radiated away from the event horizon of a black hole exist for the accelerating observer but not for the freely falling observer? How can any particles be fundamental if the particles that appear to exist for an observer can change or appear to go in and out of existence based on whether the observer’s point of view is accelerated or not? If neither space-time geometry nor particles are really fundamental, what is?

We might guess that only the consciousness of the observer is really fundamental, and that so-called fundamental particles can change based on whether the observer’s frame of reference is accelerated. Although this is a good guess, it’s not quite the right answer. There must be something more fundamental than the point of view of the observer that explains whether that point of view is accelerated. The basic problem is acceleration implies the expenditure of energy, and that energy has to come from someplace. There must be some kind of a mechanism inherent in the generation of the energy that gives rise to the observer’s accelerated frame of reference. If that energy is not expended or the acceleration mechanism is not put into effect, the observer’s frame of reference is freely falling.

At the root of this problem is the underlying foundation of relativity theory. Relativity theory is fundamentally based on the principle of equivalence. The exertion of any force, which requires the expenditure of energy, is equivalent to an observer’s accelerated frame of reference. For example, the force of gravity on the surface of a massive planet is equivalent to the acceleration of a rocket ship through empty space. An observer on the surface of the planet observes exactly the same kind of accelerated motion of objects that fall through space as an observer in the accelerating rocket ship, and so there is no possible way to distinguish between these two scenarios based only on the accelerated motion of objects. As an object accelerates through space, it gains kinetic energy. We usually think that gravitational potential energy is converted into kinetic energy as the object accelerates under the force of gravity, but where does the energy come from in the accelerating rocket ship? The answer is the energy comes from the energy expended as the thrusters of the rocket ship force it forward through space.

gravity

Principle of Equivalence

This means that before we can discuss an observer’s accelerated frame of reference, we have to discuss the expenditure of energy or the mechanism that generates this accelerated motion. The consciousness of the observer cannot really be fundamental because there is the issue of whether or not the observer’s point of view is accelerated and energy is expended. The observer is only in an accelerated frame of reference if energy is expended. Where does this energy come from? The strange answer is the energy comes from the same place as the observer’s point of view. The irony of this answer is that this most fundamental of all places and all things can only be described as the void or nothingness.

Closely related to the issue of the principle of equivalence is the issue of the generation of an event horizon. Although the event horizon of a black hole seems like a special case, it turns out event horizons arise for all accelerated observers. The observer’s event horizon always limits the ability of the observer to see things in space. An event horizon always arises for any observer in an accelerated frame of reference. In the most generic case, this is called a Rindler horizon. In line with the idea that the observer’s accelerated frame of reference is only an accelerated point of view, we say the observer’s horizon arises as the observer follows an accelerated world-line through its space-time geometry.

Observer's Horizon

Accelerating Observer’s Horizon

This brings us back to the question of where does the energy come from that gives rise to the observer’s accelerated frame of reference? Although the answer seems exceedingly strange, it can be summarized with only a few concepts. This answer is at the heart of all theories of the big bang creation event. The energy must come from the same place that the observer comes from, which is the void. The nature of this energy is called dark energy, which is understood in relativity theory as the exponential expansion of space, which always expands relative to the central point of view of an observer. Dark energy is the creative energy that puts the “bang” in the big bang event. If space does not expand and dark energy is not expended, only the void exists, which is like an empty space of potentiality. If space does expand and dark energy is expended, an observer’s world is created, and the observer of that world is always present to observe that world at the central point of view of that world.

expanding universe

Exponential Expansion of Space

In relativity theory the force of dark energy is called a cosmological constant Λ, which gives rise to the exponential expansion of space that always expands relative to the central point of view of an observer. With the exponential expansion of space and the expression of dark energy, the farther out in space the observer looks, the faster space appears to expand away from the observer. Due to the limitation of the speed of light, which says nothing can travel faster than the speed of light, the observer is always surrounded by a cosmic horizon that limits the observer’s ability to see things in space. This limitation of the speed of light is really not that mysterious, since it is like the maximal rate of information transfer in a computer network. At the observer’s cosmic horizon, space appears to expand away from the observer at the speed of light, and so this is as far out in space as the observer can see things in space.

exponential expansion of space

Accelerated Expansion of Space

How can space appear to expand? The answer is the curvature of space-time geometry as formulated by Einstein’s field equations for the space-time metric. The space-time metric is the field that measures the curvature of space-time geometry. Einstein’s field equations relate a change in the metric in a region of space to changes in the energy content of that region of space.

Einstein Field Equations

Einstein’s Field Equations for the Space-time Metric

With the attractive force of gravity, space appears to contract. This gravitational contraction of space is like the kind of length contraction and time dilation that occurs with uniform motion in special relativity, but with gravity generalizes to accelerated motion. Relativity theory tells us the gravitational contraction of space always occurs relative to point of view of an observer, like the observations of a distant observer limited by the event horizon of a black hole. At the horizon of a black hole the contraction of space or the attractive force of gravity is so strong that even light cannot escape away from the black hole, cross out of the boundary of the horizon, and reach the point of view of a distant observer.

In a very similar way, the repulsive force of dark energy gives rise to a cosmic horizon that limits the observations of the observer at the central point of view. With the repulsive force of dark energy, space appears to exponentially expand relative to the central point of view of the observer, and due to the limitation of the speed of light, this limits the observer’s ability to see things in space. At the observer’s cosmic horizon the expansion of space or the repulsive force of dark energy is so strong that even light cannot cross into the boundary of the horizon and reach the central point of view of the observer.

Accelerating universe

Accelerated Expansion of the Universe

Although a lot of dark energy was used up in the big bang event, astronomical observations indicate there is still a lot of dark energy left in the universe. These are observations of the rate with which distant galaxies accelerate away from us. If the only kind of force operative over galactic distance scales was the force of gravity, the expansion of the universe should be slowing down, since gravity is an attractive force, but that is not what is observed. The expansion of the universe is speeding up, as though all the galaxies were repelling each other. This repulsive force, like a force of anti-gravity, is called the force of dark energy. Its current observed value in terms of the cosmological constant is Λ=10−123.

If the only recent discovery of modern physics was dark energy, we would only have another puzzle, but about the same time dark energy was discovered, the holographic principle was also discovered. The holographic principle is about where all the bits of information that define all the observable things in any bounded region of space are encoded.

The strange answer is that these bits of information are not encoded in space itself, but on the bounding surface of that space. The bounding surface of space acts as a holographic screen that projects the images of things into space, just like a conventional piece of holographic film projects holographic images into space. The other analogy is a computer screen. Bits of information encoded on the screen project images into space to the point of view of an observer.

This kind of holographic projection from a screen into space is really no different than the kind of animated space-time geometry projected from a computer screen to the point of view of an observer, except the images appear three dimensional since their nature is holographic. Just like the animated frames of a movie, the projected images are animated over a sequence of screen outputs. With each screen output, which corresponds to an instant of time, the images are projected into space. Since the projected images can become distorted as they change in size and shape, the projection of images from a screen to an observer over a sequence of screen outputs can give the appearance of the curving or warping of space-time geometry.

Black hole projection

Holographic Projection

Just like a computer screen, each pixel defined on the screen encodes a bit of information in a binary code of 1’s and 0’s. In a conventional computer, this encoding of information in a binary code is performed by switches that are either in the on or the off position, but on a holographic screen, the encoding is generically performed by spin variables that are either in the spin up or the spin down position. Since spin variables are mathematically represented by SU(2) matrices, this encoding of information has a purely mathematical representation.

The holographic principle is fundamentally about how the space-time geometry of any bounded region of space is defined, specifically where all the bits of information defining the space-time geometry of that bounded region of space are encoded. The strange answer is that all the bits of information are not encoded in space itself, but on the bounding surface of that region of space.

Bits of information are encoded in a pixelated way, with each pixel on the screen encoding a single bit of information. The holographic principle tells us the pixel size is about a Planck area 2=ћG/c3, given in terms of Planck’s constant, the gravitational constant and the speed of light. For a bounding surface of space of surface area A, the total number of bits of information encoded is given by n=A/4ℓ2.

Information01

The Holographic Principle

What is a bounding surface of space? The answer is for any region of space, the bounding surface is an event horizon that limits the ability of the observer of that region to see things in that region of space. With the expression of dark energy and the expansion of space, the observer at the central point of view has limited ability to see things in space due to its cosmic horizon, and so the bounding surface is the observer’s cosmic horizon.

This is where things start to get weird. The holographic principle tells us the observer’s cosmic horizon acts as a holographic screen that encodes all the bits of information that define everything the observer can possibly observe in that region of space. Every observation of something is like the projection of an image of that thing from the observer’s holographic screen to the observer’s central point of view.

The Observer, the Screen and the Thing

The Observer, the Screen and the Thing

Before delving into all the weird implications of the holographic principle, it is worth an examination of how the holographic principle arises in the first place, and secondly, how the holographic principle gives rise to a world that appears from the point of view of the observer of that world to be composed of matter and energy, all of which appears to reduce down to some kind of fundamental particles existing in some kind of space-time geometry.

The first question is: how does the holographic principle arise in the first place? The answer is it can only arise if there is a bounding surface of space that acts as a holographic screen that projects all the images of things in that bounded region of space to the central point of view of an observer. This is the critical role that dark energy and the exponential expansion of space play, as the expenditure of dark energy gives rise to a cosmic horizon that acts as the observer’s holographic screen. All the bits of information encoded on the observer’s holographic screen in effect define everything in the observer’s world in the sense of a Hilbert space. The observer’s cosmic horizon is the bounding surface of space that defines the observer’s world as it limits the observer’s observations of things in space.

How does the observer’s cosmic horizon encode all the bits of information that define everything the observer can possibly observe in its world? The answer has to do with the quantization of space-time geometry. This is what the unification of quantum theory with relativity theory is all about. The most generic way to understand unification is with non-commutative geometry. Although the holographic principle was first discovered in string theory, which has been generalized to M-theory, string theory is a special case of non-commutative geometry. All examples of the holographic principle occur in some kind of non-commutative geometry. If non-commutative geometry is applied to a bounding surface of space, the holographic principle is automatically in effect. Non-commutative geometry is manifestly holographic. This basically says the space-time geometry of any bounded region of space is a direct consequence of how bits of information are encoded on the bounding surface of that region of space.

How does this happen? The basic problem is that position coordinates on the bounding surface of space can always be parameterized in terms of some (x, y) coordinate system, like latitude and longitude on the surface of a sphere. In a commutative geometry, there are an infinite number of (x, y) position coordinates, since the geometry of the surface is a two dimensional continuum and is infinitely divisible. The quantization of space-time geometry turns this infinitely divisible continuum into a finite number of quantized position coordinates on the surface.

globe

The way non-commutative geometry performs this trick in the most generic case is to require an uncertainty relation between the x and y position coordinates, where the product of uncertainty is at least as large as the Planck area. This is analogous to the uncertainty relation between the position, x, and the momentum, p, of a particle in ordinary quantum theory, where the product of uncertainty is at least as large as Planck’s constant, except in non-commutative geometry the uncertainty relation is between the position coordinates of space itself, not the dynamical variables of particles defined in a space-time geometry. Non-commutative geometry is fundamentally about how a space-time geometry is quantized, not how the dynamical variables of particles are quantized. This turns the (x, y) position coordinates defined on the bounding surface into non-commuting variables.

Whenever non-commutative geometry is applied to a bounding surface of space like a cosmic horizon, there are no longer an infinite number of position coordinates defined on the surface, but rather a finite number of non-commuting variables, which give rise to pixels. In effect, each quantized position coordinate is smeared out into an area element of size 4ℓ2. The total number of pixels defined on the bounding surface of area A is given as n=A/4ℓ2, which corresponds to the number of non-commuting variables that define the non-commutative geometry.

horizon information

Horizon Information

In the most generic case of non-commutative geometry, these n non-commuting variables give rise to n bits of information defined by the n eigenvalues of an SU(n) matrix, and so the n pixels defined on the bounding surface encode n bits of information. Since an SU(n) matrix can always be decomposed into SU(2) matrices, and since SU(2) matrices encode bits of information in a binary code like spin variables that are either spin up or spin down, the SU(n) matrix thus encodes n bits of information in a binary code, which is the nature of horizon entropy.

entropy2

Horizon Entropy

The second question was about how the holographic principle gives rise to a world that appears from the point of view of the observer of that world to be composed of matter and energy, all of which appears to reduce down to some kind of fundamental particles, and appears to exist in some kind of space-time geometry. Although this sounds like a broken record, the answer is geometric mechanisms.

The first step in solving this puzzle is to understand how bits of information encoded on a bounding surface of space give rise to the appearance of a curved space-time geometry in a bounded region of space. This is the problem of how the holographic principle explains the nature of gravity, which is understood as the curvature of space-time geometry.

Although there are many ways to approach this problem, the most generic way is the second law of thermodynamics. The second law is a very general statistical relationship that relates how a change in the number of bits of information or entropy that define the configuration state of everything in a region of space are related to the thermal flow of energy or heat through that region of space. This relation is usually written as ΔQ=TΔS, where ΔQ is the flow of heat through the region of space, T is the absolute temperature of that region of space, and ΔS is the change in the number of bits of information that define everything in that region of space.

The flow of heat through that region of space is understood as the random thermal motion of those things through space, while the holographic principle tells us all the bits of information defining everything in that region of space are encoded on the bounding surface of that region of space as S=kn, where the total number of bits of information encoded is given in terms of the surface area A of the bounding surface as n=A/4ℓ2. The constant k is called Boltzmann’s constant, which converts thermal kinetic energy into conventional units of absolute temperature.

Remarkably, this simple statistical relation between the flow of heat through a region of space and the entropy of that region of space implies Einstein’s field equations for the space-time metric in that region of space as a thermal average as long as things are near thermodynamic equilibrium, which is called a thermodynamic equation of state. The reason is fairly simple. The holographic principle tells us all the bits of information that define everything in a region of space are defined on the bounding surface of that region of space as S=kn. As heat flows through that region of space and the heat content of that region changes as ΔQ=TΔS, the second law tells us the entropy of that region must also change as ΔS=kΔn.

Since entropy is given in terms of the surface area of the bounding surface, n=A/4ℓ2, as heat flows across the bounding surface, the surface area of the bounding surface must change. As the bounding surface of space changes, the geometry of the region of space bounded by the bounding surface also changes. This change in the geometry of the bounded region of space is mathematically specified by Einstein’s field equations for the space-time metric, which relates a change in the curvature of the space-time geometry of that bounded region to a change in the energy content of that region of space.

Before the discovery of the holographic principle, the vast majority of theoretical physicists thought Einstein’s field equations for the space-time metric were about as fundamental as physics can ever get. Thanks to the holographic principle, we now know that Einstein’s field equations are not really fundamental, but only arise as a thermal average in any bounded region of space, or a thermodynamic equation of state that is only valid near thermal equilibrium. Einstein’s field equations arise from the holographic way bits of information are encoded on the bounding surface of that space.

Shockingly, the holographic principle is more fundamental than Einstein’s field equations for the space-time metric. Einstein’s field equations are derivative of the holographic principle as a statistical or thermal average that is only valid near thermal equilibrium. The force of gravity and the curvature of space-time geometry only arise in a bounded region of space from the holographic way bits of information are encoded on the bounding surface of that region of space.

The holographic principle in turn is only a geometric mechanism that allows bits of information to become encoded on a bounding surface of space whenever a bounding surface like a cosmic horizon arises with the expression of dark energy and the exponential expansion of space.

If Einstein’s field equations are only derivative of the holographic principle, which in turn is only a geometric mechanism, what is really fundamental? The weird answer is nothing is really fundamental. Only the potentiality of the void to express itself with the expenditure of dark energy and encode bits of information on a bounding surface of space is really fundamental. This is the potentiality of the void to create a world for itself and observe that world from the central point of view of that world.

The second law of thermodynamics in the context of the holographic principle also explains the temperature of an event horizon as observed by a distant observer. This becomes an important issue when we discuss the temperature of a cosmic horizon as observed by the observer at the central point of view, since this horizon temperature sets the stage for the thermal evolution of the observer’s world.

The observer will observe thermal photons radiated away from the horizon as a consequence of the horizon temperature. These thermal photons have an energy given in terms of their momentum as E=pc, where quantum theory tells us this momentum is related to wavelength as p=h/λ. The wavelength of a thermal photon that is just barely bound within the event horizon as observed by the distant observer is approximately given in terms of the horizon radius R as the circumference of the horizon, λ=2πR. For example, for a black hole horizon, a thermal photon that is just barely gravitationally bound within the black hole as observed by a distant observer has a wavelength that is about equal to the horizon circumference. This tells us the energy of a thermal photon that is barely bound within the horizon and is just barely able to escape away from the horizon and become radiated to the distant observer is given as about E=hc/2πR. The energy of this radiated thermal photon is the flow of heat, ΔQ=hc/2πR. The second law tells us this flow of heat is related to the change in entropy as ΔQ=TΔS, where ΔS=kΔn. The lowest energy thermal photon radiated away from the horizon corresponds to the smallest possible change in entropy, Δn=1, which gives the observed horizon temperature as about kT=hc/2πR.

What about other forces of nature besides gravity, like the electromagnetic and nuclear forces? What about other quantum fields besides the space-time metric, which comprise the standard model of particle physics? The unification of quantum theory with relativity theory solves this problem in a very straightforward way, again based on geometric mechanisms. The only known mechanisms of unification are super-symmetry and the Kaluza-Klein mechanism of extra compactified dimensions of space.

If there are six extra compactified dimensions of space, then Einstein’s field equations for the space-time metric give rise to the electromagnetic, strong and weak nuclear forces. The quantum fields that describe these forces are extra components of the space-time metric that arise in extra compactified dimensions of space. The quantum fields for these extra forces represent the curvature of space-time geometry in extra compactified dimensions of space, just like the ordinary components of the space-time metric for the usual four extended dimensions of space-time represent the force of gravity.

Compactified space

Extra Compactified Dimensions of Space

If super-symmetry, which is the idea of spatial coordinates with both commuting and anti-commuting aspects, is applied to Einstein’s field equations for the space-time metric with six extra compactified dimensions of space, not only are the boson force particle quantum fields generated, but also the fermion matter particle quantum fields. If the extra compactified dimensions of space are formulated in terms of non-commutative geometry, not only are the force particle fields and the matter particle fields generated, but also the Higgs symmetry breaking fields. By breaking the symmetry of space, the Higgs fields give rise to the mass energy carried by all matter particle fields.

In the Kaluza-Klein mechanism, the electron is understood in terms of an extra compactified dimension of space. At each point of ordinary 3+1 dimensional space-time there is an extra circular dimension of space. Momentum can flow in the extra circular dimension just as it can flow in an extended dimension. Quantization of momentum in the circular dimension explains the quantization of electric charge, which is quantized in units of the electron. This is the usual Bohr argument for quantization of momentum in terms of an integral number of wavelengths fitting into the circumference of the circular orbit, nλ=2πr, where r is the radius of the circular orbit, n is the number of wavelengths, and in the sense of a Fourier transform momentum and wavelength are inversely proportional to each other, p=h/λ, except momentum in the extra circular dimension is the nature of electric charge. Momentum can flow in either the positive or the negative direction, explaining both the positron and the electron.

What we call an elementary or point particle is really only angular momentum quantized in an extra compactified dimension of space. As a geometrical mechanism, the quantization of electric charge is really no different than the quantization of energy in a hydrogen atom.

bohrorbit

Quantization of Momentum in a Circular Orbit

The idea of a gauge theory naturally arises from this idea of extra compactified dimensions of space. With multiple extra compactified dimensions of space the idea of an Abelian gauge theory generalizes to non-Abelian gauge theories, which explains nuclear charges in addition to electric charge. In both cases, the nuclear and electrical forces are understood in terms of extra components of the space-time metric that arise with extra compactified dimensions of space, which allows the gravitational force to become unified with the nuclear and electromagnetic forces in a natural way.

The final result of unification is called 11-dimensional super-gravity, which includes all the standard quantum fields of the standard model of particles physics, including the electromagnetic and nuclear forces in addition to gravity. Since 11-dimensional super-gravity can only arise as a thermal average valid near thermal equilibrium, it is only valid as a low energy limit. All so-called fundamental particles are thus understood to be nothing more than localized excitations of field energy, which are called wave-packets. The wave-packet is localized in space and time, which gives rise to the particle quantization of energy and momentum.

wave-packet

Wave-packet

The wavelength of the wave-packet is extended in an extended dimension of space, which allows for the particle quantization of energy and momentum, while the quantization of wavelength in an extra compactified dimension of space gives rise to the internal structure of the particle like electric charge. Internal structure is related to external structure since the space-time metric relates the curvature of extended dimensions of space to compactified dimensions of space.

A so-called fundamental particle is thus nothing more than a localized excitation of field energy. These quantum fields all arise from the space-time metric through the usual unification mechanisms of super-symmetry, extra compactified dimensions of space, and non-commutative geometry. All the quantum fields of the standard model of particle physics are really only extra components of the space-time metric that arise through these geometric mechanisms. Even the space-time metric only arises as a thermal average through the geometric mechanisms of the expression of dark energy, the expansion of space, and non-commutative geometry. In reality, there are no such things as fundamental particles or fundamental forces, only the potentiality of the void to express these geometric mechanisms.

Simply put, there is no Theory of Everything because there is No Theory of Nothing. The potentiality of the void cannot be reduced to a theory or conceptualized in any other possible way. That is the nature of infinite potentiality. Scientific reductionism simply does not apply to infinite potentiality. Anything is possible as long as it can be expressed in terms of a geometric mechanism. The expression of this potentiality always requires the expenditure of energy. In emotional terms, the expression of this energy is the expression of desire, which directly leads to the manifestation of desires. The manifested world is only a manifestation of desires.

This important point cannot be stressed enough. Correctly interpreted, the holographic principle is telling us the physical world is only an expression of the potentiality of the void. This expression of potentiality always requires the expression of energy, which in emotional terms is the expression of desire. Through its geometric mechanisms, the void has the potential to create a world for itself and to observe that world from the central point of view of that world. The void is the source of everything in that world, including all the matter, energy, information and even the space-time geometry of that world, but it doesn’t end there. The void is also the source of the perceiving consciousness that observes that world. When we use the word source, we really mean potentiality. Just as the source of the world is an empty space of potentiality called the void, the source of the perceiving consciousness that observes the world is the potentiality of the undifferentiated consciousness of the void.

If we take the big bang creation theory seriously, as formulated with inflationary cosmology, we understand that at the moment of creation of the observer’s world a great deal of dark energy is expended. That world is initially only about a Planck length in size, but then inflates in size due to an instability in the amount of dark energy. This instability in dark energy is like a process that burns away the dark energy. Inflationary cosmology hypothesizes that at the moment of creation the cosmological constant takes on a value of about Λ=1, but due to an instability in the amount of dark energy, the cosmological constant transitions to a lower value. This transition is like a phase transition from a metastable false vacuum state to a more stable vacuum state of lower energy. The most stable state, the true vacuum with Λ=0, is a state with zero dark energy.

quantum tunneling

Metastable State

The expenditure of dark energy breaks the symmetry of empty space by constructing an observation limiting cosmic horizon that surrounds the observer at the central point of view. The instability in dark energy is like a consumptive process of burning that burns away dark energy and undoes this broken symmetry. As dark energy burns away to zero, the cosmic horizon inflates in size to infinity, and the symmetry is restored. We understand this undoing of symmetry breaking is like a phase transition from a false vacuum state to a true vacuum state. Dark energy burns away as the phase transition occurs. This idea is also consistent with the current measured value of the cosmological constant, Λ=10−123, based on the rate with which distant galaxies are observed to accelerate away from us, which also corresponds to the size of the observable universe of about 15 billion light years.

This burning away of dark energy also explains the normal flow of energy in the observer’s world in terms of the second law of thermodynamics. Relativity theory tells us the radius R of the observer’s cosmic horizon is inversely related to the cosmological constant as R2/ℓ2=3/Λ, while the holographic principle tells us the absolute temperature of the observer’s horizon is inversely related to its radius as kT=ћc/2πR. At the moment of creation, R is about ℓ, Λ is about 1, and the absolute temperature is about 1032 degrees Kelvin. As Λ decreases to zero, R inflates in size to infinity, and the temperature cools to absolute zero.

The second law of thermodynamics simply says that heat tends to flow from hotter to colder objects because hotter objects radiate away more heat, which is thermal radiation. The instability in dark energy explains the second law as dark energy burns away, the observer’s world inflates in size and cools in temperature, and heat tends to flow from hotter states to colder states of the observer’s world.

normal-flow-of-energy

Second Law of Thermodynamics

The normal flow of energy through the observer’s world reflects this normal flow of heat as dark energy burns away and the observer’s world inflates in size and cools. This normal flow of energy naturally arises in a thermal gradient. This also explains the mystery of “time’s arrow”, as the normal course of time is related to the normal flow of energy through the observer’s world. As far as the holographic principle goes, a thermal gradient is also a temporal gradient.

What are we to make of other forms of energy besides dark energy? Modern physics gives an answer in terms of symmetry breaking. All forms of positive energy arise from dark energy through symmetry breaking. This allows an observer’s world to emerge from the void along the lines of the inflationary scenario, but only if the total energy of that world adds up to zero.

The remarkable discovery of modern cosmology is cosmic observations indicate the total energy of the observable universe is exactly zero. This is possible in relativity theory as the negative potential energy of gravitational attraction can exactly cancel out the total amount of dark energy and all other forms of positive energy that arise from dark energy.

How do other forms of energy, like mass energy, arise from dark energy? The answer is symmetry breaking. As dark energy burns away, high energy photons are created, and these photons can create particle-antiparticle pairs, like proton-antiproton pairs. One of the mysteries of cosmology is why there are so many protons in the universe and so few antiprotons. Symmetry breaking gives the answer. At high energies, antiprotons can decay into electrons and protons into positrons, but there is a difference in the decay rates due to a broken symmetry, and so more antiprotons decay than protons. As the universe cools, protons become relatively stable, and so that’s what’s left over. Even the mass of the proton arises through a process of symmetry breaking called the Higgs mechanism. The expenditure of energy that characterizes all the gauge forces, like electromagnetic energy in a living organism or nuclear energy in a star, all arise from dark energy through a process of symmetry breaking, but all of this positive energy is exactly cancelled out by the negative potential energy of gravitational attraction.

The fact that the total energy of the observable universe exactly adds up to zero tells us something important. Since everything in the world is composed of energy and all energy ultimately adds up to zero, this tells us that everything is ultimately nothing.

ying-yang

Ying-Yang Balance

If the void is the ultimate nature of reality, the physical world is a lower form of reality, like a virtual reality of images projected from a screen to the central point of view of an observer. This lower form of reality, with its projection of images from a screen to an observer, only exists when the void expresses its potentiality through geometric mechanisms, which is the nature of becoming. When the void expresses its potentiality through these geometric mechanisms it creates a world for itself, which it always observes from the central point of view of that world as the perceiving consciousness of the observer is differentiated from itself. If this potentiality is not expressed, only the void exists. Simply put, being is prior to becoming. As undifferentiated consciousness, the void exists as One Being.

What about a consensual reality apparently shared by many observers? The answer is many observers can share a consensual reality to the degree their respective holographic screens overlap in the sense of a Venn diagram and share information. This is just like the kind of information sharing that occurs in an interactive computer network. Each observer only observes its own holographic screen, but to the degree different screens overlap, different observers can apparently interact and share information. The network of interacting holographic screens can share information to the degree the screens overlap.

Overlapping bounded spaces

Overlapping Bounded Spaces

Each holographic screen encodes bits of information in a binary code. This is due to defining n quantized position coordinates on a bounding surface of space, which is due to defining n non-commuting variables on the bounding surface. The n bits of information, one per pixel, arise from this holographic mechanism as the n eigenvalues of an SU(n) matrix.

It’s worth pointing out out that the holographic principle is completely consistent with quantum theory. In effect, each observer has its own Hilbert space of observable values, with all the bits of information for observables encoded on the observer’s holographic screen. In this sense, each observation of something by the observer is like a screen output that projects an image of the thing from the screen to the central point of view of the observer.

The very fact that the observer has the innate ability to focus its attention on things in its world raises the issue of choice. How is this choice expressed? Quantum theory gives a natural answer in terms of a quantum state of potentiality. The quantum state can always be expressed in terms of a sum over all possible paths in some configuration space.

Sum over all paths

Sum Over all Paths

The configuration space relevant for the holographic principle are the n non-commuting variables defined on the observer’s holographic screen that give rise to the SU(n) matrix that defines the n bits of information encoded on the screen. That is the nature of the observer’s Hilbert space.

Since the observer’s holographic screen projects all images of the observer’s world, each path specified in the sum over all paths is a possible world-line through the observer’s projected space-time geometry. The observer’s space-time geometry is not only projected from its holographic screen, but is also animated over a sequence of screen outputs. It is the observer itself that follows this world-line through its projected and animated space-time geometry. As a focal point of consciousness, an accelerating observer always follows a world-line.

Just as the observer observes its own world, the observer follows a world-line through its own world, with a one-to-one correspondence between the observer and its world-line. Each observer’s world-line is defined by the observations or screen outputs that occur at every decision point on the world-line. Until an observation is made, the quantum state of potentiality branches into all possible paths, but as the observer chooses to observe a particular state of information, a particular path is followed.

Decision point

Decision-point

Each screen output on the observer’s world-line is a decision point where the observer chooses to follow some particular path rather than some other possible path. Each possible path of the observer through its projected and animated space-time geometry is a possible world-line. At every decision point or screen output the observer has a choice to make about what to observe and which path to follow in its world. This choice arises with the observer’s focus of attention on images of its world.

Quantum theory tells us each observer has its own Hilbert space of observable values for its own world defined by quantization of non-commuting variables on the observer’s holographic screen. This defines everything the observer can observe in its own world, but due to information sharing in the network of overlapping screens, its observations can become correlated with the observations of other observers.

What is meant by other observers? Each observer is only a point of view that arises in relation to its own holographic screen. This point of view can be called a differentiated focal point of consciousness, or individual consciousness. The holographic principle tells us this focal point of consciousness is a point of singularity that arises at the center of the observer’s horizon, which is to say the observer is the singularity at the center of its own world. Many apparently distinct observers can share a consensual reality, but ultimately when these geometric mechanisms are no longer expressed, only the undifferentiated consciousness of the void exists.

What role does the observer play in the creation of its world? The nature of quantum potentiality tells us every observation is a choice or a decision point on the observer’s world-line as the observer’s path or world-line branches into all possible paths. In computer terms, every observation is like a screen output. In the language of quantum theory, every observation is a decision point on the observer’s path about what to observe and which path to follow. The observer expresses its choices through its focus of attention on images of its world.

Even the laws of physics are not fundamental but are all chosen. Everything is a choice and nothing is determined. All the laws of physics that appear to govern that world can only arise with random choice as statistical or thermal averages, which is what the second law of thermodynamics tells us in the framework of the holographic principle. As long as things are near thermal equilibrium, the laws of physics only appear fixed and stable due to symmetry breaking, and in some sense have frozen out of the quantum state of potentiality like a phase transition that turns water into ice, although the better analogy is probably the spontaneous magnetization of a magnet. The laws of physics only appear stable because they all arise through symmetry breaking within a metastable or false vacuum state.

The nature of symmetry breaking tells us that bits of information spontaneously become organized into complex forms as energy flows in a thermal gradient, like the spontaneous magnetization of a magnet. The holographic principle and the expression of dark energy explain how bits of information become encoded on a holographic screen in relation to the point of view of an observer, and the instability in dark energy explains the origin of the thermal gradient. The expression of complexity arises through these geometric mechanisms because the organization of information occurs at a metastable state. Even the transition from one metastable state to another state is a kind of symmetry breaking. This is epitomized by a cosmological constant that is only a “constant” within a metastable state, while the transition from one value of the cosmological constant to another is akin to a phase transition.

The birth and development of the observer’s body can be understood in terms of the coherent organization of information, just as the physical death of the observer’s body can be understood in terms of the disorganization of information. Modern physics tells us the development of coherent organization arises through a process of symmetry breaking. This is as much the case for biological organisms as it is for physical objects. The only significant difference is the organization of physical objects through phase transitions is dependent on the transfer of heat, while biological organisms can also engage in a process of eating, which adds organizing potential energy to the organism.

There is always a balance between the flow of thermal kinetic energy that tends to disorganize objects and organizing potential energy that tends to organize objects. When the balance shifts in favor of organizing potential energy, symmetry breaking occurs and coherent organization develops. When the balance shifts in favor of too much heat, disorganization occurs. As organizing potential energy is added to a body through a process of eating, the development of coherent organization naturally occurs through a process of symmetry breaking. Although symmetry breaking may be sufficient to drive the development of coherent organization in the observer’s body, the observer also plays a role in the organizing process through choice, especially when those choices become emotionally biased.

The End of an Illusion

Nietzsche

“The end of illusion is the end of you”-UG Krishnamurti

The nature of consciousness only appears to be mysterious if we do not know the true nature of what we really are. Plato describes an observer that mistakenly identifies itself with the central character of the animation of images it perceives on a screen as a prisoner. The only possible freedom is an observer that no longer identifies itself, but for that we have to know the true nature of what we are.

The age old problem of identity often expresses itself as an identity crisis. This identity crisis is about the true nature of “who I am”. Is it possible that I am only the observer and not the person I am observing? If I am not a person in the world, then who am I? Can the true nature of identity be purely spiritual? Can the problem of identity be answered with a sweeping statement like I am nothing but consciousness or Ultimately, I am the undifferentiated consciousness of the void?

Ultimately, this identity crisis is about the mystery of the ultimate nature of existence. The ultimate nature of existence is a mystery that can never be explained, just as infinite potentiality can never be reduced to scientific concepts. The most that it is ever possible to say about the ultimate nature of existence is that It Exists, which is to say It Is or I Am.

The ultimate nature of existence can never be personified. The holographic principle tells us that the nature of a person in the world can only be understood as a limited expression of the ultimate nature of existence as the image of a person is projected from a holographic screen. This limited expression of a person in the world is very much like the animation of an avatar in a virtual reality world, which is no more real than the images of a character animated on a screen and projected to the point of view of an observer. As Plato tells us, the observer becomes a prisoner when it identifies itself with its character.

Plato's cave

If man will strike, strike through the mask!
How can the prisoner reach outside except by thrusting through the wall?
Herman Melville

The void expresses its potentiality as it creates a world through geometric mechanisms and observes that world from the central point of view of that world. The expression of this potentiality requires the expenditure of energy, specifically dark energy and the expansion of space. Without this expenditure of energy, neither an observer nor its world can exist.

How are these geometric mechanisms expressed? The only logically consistent answer is the void has the potentiality to express these mechanisms. The void is what exists prior to the creation of the world. Being is prior to becoming. In the sense of One Being, the void can be understood as undifferentiated consciousness. This argument is consistent with all the nondual traditions, including Advaita Hinduism, Zen Buddhism, Taoism, Sufism, Kabbalah Judaism and Gnostic Christianity.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I Am”
Gospel of John

The book of Genesis tells us that in the beginning, God divided the light from the darkness. The light that Genesis refers to is not physical light, but the light of consciousness, which is divided from the darkness of the void. The light of consciousness is inherent to the observer itself and can be understood as the observer’s focus of attention, which allows for the observer’s expression of choice in the sense of quantum potentiality. Each decision point on the observer’s world-line is another choice.

Just as the observer is understood as a focal point of consciousness to which images of the observer’s world are projected from its holographic screen, the observer’s focus of attention allows for the projection of those images. To use a physical analogy, the observer’s own light of consciousness illuminates the images of its world like the light of a laser projects images from a physical hologram. In this sense, with the creation of the observer’s world, the differentiated consciousness of the observer is divided from the undifferentiated consciousness of the void.

singularity

Light of Consciousness

Genesis also tells us the creation of the world occurs as the Spirit of God moved over the face of the deep. The Spirit of God is the observer, the motion appears to occur as the observer follows an accelerated world-line through its projected and animated space-time geometry, the face of the deep is the observer’s holographic screen, and the deep is the void.

The Rig-Veda tells us darkness was hidden by darkness in the beginning. All that existed then was void and formless. The undifferentiated consciousness of the void is referred to in the non-dual sense of One Being as that One thing, breathless, breathed by its own nature. Apart from it there was nothing. The creation of the world is described in a thermodynamic sense as that which becomes was born through the power of heat. Upon that desire arose in the beginning the first discharge of thought. The observer is described as whose eye controls this world in highest heaven.

The Tao-Te-Ching describes the observer’s world is only created through the expression of desire, and without that expression of energy only the mystery of the void exists: Ever desireless one can see the mystery, ever desiring one can see the manifestations. These two spring from the same source but differ in name. The Tao describes the void as darkness, darkness within darkness. the gate to all mystery. The gateless gate paradox describes that when One passes through this gateless gate, one walks the universe alone.

What is the nature of passing through the gateless gate? When the holographic mechanism that creates the observer’s world is no longer expressed, the observer’s world comes to an end and disappears from existence. What happens to the observer? The observer’s individual consciousness must return to the undifferentiated consciousness of the void. This reunion is described as a dissolution, like a drop of water that dissolves back into the ocean.

In both Hinduism and Buddhism the final dissolution of individual consciousness into undifferentiated consciousness is referred to as the experience of nothingness or Nirvana. The experience of Nirvana is understood as the final dissolution into nothingness in which individual consciousness reunites itself with undifferentiated consciousness. In the sense of spiritual reunion, the individual spirit of the observer reunites itself with the Supreme Spirit of the void, or to use the language of Advaita Hinduism, Atman reunites itself with Brahman.

“Brahman is the only truth, the world is an illusion, and there is ultimately no difference between Atman and Brahman”-Shankara

“That which permeates all, which nothing transcends, and which, like the universal space around us, fills everything completely from within and without, that Supreme nondual Brahman-that thou art”-Shankara

The literal translation of Nirvana is to blow out the flame of life or extinguish the light of consciousness. When the light of consciousness is extinguished, only the darkness of the void remains. This reunion with undifferentiated consciousness or final dissolution into nothingness is the ultimate nature of death, which is the end of an illusion. The illusion that comes to an end is not only the illusion of life in the world, but the illusion of separation. Ultimately, death is a transition from the differentiation of consciousness and the becomings of a world to undifferentiation and ultimate being.

Both the Rig-Veda and the gateless gate paradox refer to the ascension of consciousness. Plato also refers to the ascension of consciousness in the Allegory of the Cave. It is as though an ascended observer looks down on its world from a higher vantage point as it observes all the images of its world on a two-dimensional screen from a point of view outside the screen, and sees that all those images are only projected by its own light of consciousness. An ascended observer that clearly sees this state of affairs can no longer identify itself with the image of its own character animated on the screen, but can only know itself as the focal point of consciousness or singularity at the center of its own world. Only this singularity of consciousness can act as a bridge that connects the ultimate being of the void to the images of the observer’s world.

Developmental psychologists have demonstrated that prior to the development of a self-concept in a human child in the second year of life, the child has no perception of the third dimension. If the child is shown objects of different sizes, it is as though the object is an image displayed on a two dimensional screen. The child has no concept that the same object can appear different sizes if it moves back and forth in the third dimension. Different sizes are only perceived as distinct two dimensional images.

Only after the child develops a self-concept can the child recognize movement in the third dimension. In the lingo, depth perception is linked to object constancy. Without object constancy, there can be no self-concept. So it seems the ascension of consciousness is a reversion back to the kind of perception that occurs early in human life prior to the development of a self-concept. The only way to understand the mental development of a self-concept is with coherent organization of information, which becomes organized through some kind of symmetry breaking during critical periods of childhood development.

The birth and development of the observer’s character can be understood in terms of the coherent organization of information, just as the physical death of the observer’s character can be understood in terms of the disorganization of information. Although symmetry breaking may be sufficient to drive the development of coherent organization in the observer’s character, the observer also plays a role in the organizing process through choice, especially when those choices become emotionally biased.

The animation of the observer’s character naturally arises in the flow of energy, which in part is directed by the observer’s focus of attention. An investment of emotional energy arises whenever the observer focuses its attention on its character, but this investment of energy can be withdrawn when the focus of attention is withdrawn. The part of the animation the observer can direct arises in the sense of choice with the observer’s emotionally biased focus of attention, but this always plays out against the backdrop of the normal unbiased flow of thermal energy through the observer’s world. Emotional bias in the focus of attention gives rise to emotional feedback as it leads to the expression of biased emotions.

In some sense, every emotionally biased expression of emotional energy that arises with the observer’s emotionally biased focus of attention is an interference with the normal flow of things through its world. This interference is analogous to a quantum interference pattern in the sense of a non-stationary path. This kind of interference leads to feelings of disconnection, while coming into alignment with the normal flow of energy and following the path of least action gives rise to feelings of connection.

glass-butterfly_red-blue_

Before I sink into the Big Sleep
I want to hear, I want to hear
The Scream of the Butterfly
Jim Morrison

Coming into alignment with the normal flow of things is the meaning of the Grail legend, while interfering with things in an emotionally biased way is the meaning of the Wasteland. The transition to this state of energetic alignment is usually described as a metamorphosis, like the transformation of an immature caterpillar into a butterfly. In this transformation of form, the caterpillar dies and the butterfly is born. This is the archetypal metaphor of spiritual rebirth. One dies to one’s false self-identification with one’s body and is reborn to one’s true spiritual identity.

How is it even possible for the observer to identify itself with the form of its body? Neuroscience has demonstrated the emotional nature of meaning. Meaning is given in an emotional context, and this is also the case for self-identification. Emotional context has to do with the flow of emotional energy that relates one distinct perceivable thing to another distinct perceivable thing. The observer is only able to emotionally identify itself with the form of its body due to the expression of emotions that relate the observer’s body to other distinct perceivable things in its world and that make the observer feel like it is really self-limited to the form of its body. This feeling of being embodied is perpetuated by the expression of biased emotions and the observer’s biased focus of attention that play an essential role in the mental construction of the observer’s body-based self-concept.

The observer’s body-based self-concept is emotionally energized by the expression of biased emotional energy that relates the observer’s self-concept to other things in the observer’s world in emotionally biased ways. This self-identification process is also an emotional attachment process. As the observer identifies itself with its character, the observer also becomes attached to things in its world, including its own body. This emotional attachment process can only occur when the observer’s focus of attention is emotionally biased in favor of its character’s survival and is focused on its character and other things in its world in emotionally biased ways, which directly leads to the expression of biased emotions.

Emotional bias in the observer’s focus of attention and the expression of biased emotions are two sides of the same coin. As long as biased emotions are expressed by the observer’s character, the observer’s focus of attention is emotionally biased. As long as there is emotional bias in the observer’s focus of attention, its character will express biased emotions. This kind of emotional feedback is a vicious cycle. The only way this vicious cycle can be broken is if biased emotions are no longer expressed by the observer’s character and the observer stops directing its focus of attention in emotionally biased ways.

Breaking the vicious cycle is always a detachment process, or a process of “letting go”, as the observer detaches itself from its world and de-identifies itself from its character in that world. This “letting go” process is a kind of death as the observer stops being emotionally invested in or expressing bias in the outcome of any situations relevant to its character’s survival, and in effect stops “caring about” whether its character lives or dies. This is a “giving up” process both in the sense of letting go and a surrender.

The impartiality of this kind of emotional detachment is the only way the expression of emotional bias can come to an end. In this detachment process, things are accepted the way they normally occur as an expression of the normal flow of energy through the observer’s world, just like the acceptance of death that finally occurs through a process of grieving. In this detached state, the observer only watches as things play out in the normal way, and stops interfering with or trying to control things in an emotionally biased way so that things come out in favor of its character’s survival. This state of non-interference can only occur with the willingness to relinquish the emotionally biased desire to control things.

For the purpose of the observer’s awakening, only the de-animation of the observer’s character and disappearance of the observer’s world are required. This de-animation of the observer’s world is a direct result of withdrawing its focus of attention and emotional energy away from its world. Without the observer’s focus of attention on its world and its expression of energy, there is no animation of the observer’s world. This always requires a shift in the observer’s focus of attention away from its world.

This shift in the observer’s focus of attention away from its world is what is meant by turning around, which is the original meaning of the word repent. In a spiritual or metaphysical sense, the observer turns the focus of its attention away from its world and onto its own sense of being present. The observer shifts the focus of its attention onto itself. In some sense, only the observer’s focus of attention on its character and the expression of biased emotional energy can keep the observer emotionally attached to its world and self-identified with its character. The only way the observer can detach itself is if this expression of biased emotions comes to an end, which naturally occurs when the observer focuses its attention on its own sense of being present.

An ascended observer can only know itself as the focal point of consciousness at the center of its world, or dissolve back into the undifferentiated consciousness of the void. In a very real sense, an ascended observer exists right at the edge of the abyss that separates the existence of its world and the animation of its character in that world from the void and the non-existence of its world.

There is no scientific way to prove the existence of the undifferentiated consciousness of the void, but anyone can confirm this ultimate state of being for oneself. It is possible to do an experiment of One. That is what it means to become a Buddha and awaken from the dream of separation. All nondual traditions describe the process of awakening. When one awakens from the dream of the world, one’s world disappears and only one’s true underlying reality remains. The experience of one’s underlying reality is the experience of undifferentiated consciousness, which is the experience of nothingness. There is no other way to describe it. With dissolution, there is a sense of falling into the void, like entering into a state of free-fall. After awakening one observes one’s world again, but from an ascended point of view and self-identification with one’s character in one’s world is no longer possible.

What happens to the observer’s differentiated consciousness with the death of its body? One possibility is the observer’s consciousness remains differentiated as a focal point of consciousness at the central point of view of its world after body death. Like a phase transition, body death is only the irreversible disorganization of information in the way the observer’s body is coherently organized on the observer’s holographic screen. Even with body death the focal point of consciousness can remain differentiated. Maybe a new body coherently forms for the observer, which would explain the nature of reincarnation.

It’s important to point out the observer’s mind is greater than just the information organized within the physical limits of the observer’s body or brain. Quantum entanglement tells us the information for mental events involves entangled bits of information that are encoded both within the limits of the observer’s body and outside those limits. Quantum entanglement is a natural consequence of the holographic principle since the observer’s Hilbert space for observables as defined by its holographic screen arises as the eigenvalues of an SU(n) matrix, and all those bits of information are entangled with each other.

Entanglement tells us that with any mental event it is possible to know about events that occur outside the limits of the body even if those events are not physically connected to the body. Even after body death, quantum entanglement remains in effect, and so the observer still has a form of mind after body death. It may be that these mental experiences after body death lead to the reincarnation of a new body.

A critical point is only the holographic principle can resolve the paradoxes of quantum entanglement, like the Schrodinger cat paradox and Wigner’s friend paradox. All these paradoxes require an “outside” observer to collapse the entangled state of a quantum system, but as Amanda Gefter points out, the universe has no “outside” observer. The only possible point of view is from inside the universe. Gefter also points out that these entanglement paradoxes are really paradoxes of self-reference. All the bits of information encoded on the observer’s holographic screen are entangled, but the observer cannot arise from entangled bits of information. The observer can only identify itself with a form of information it observes, which brings us back to the question: where does the observer come from? The answer is the observer arises from the void at the central point of view of its world as its world is created.

The way the holographic principle resolves this problem is that all possible images of the universe are projected from a holographic screen to the central point of view of an observer, which is only a focal point of consciousness. Dark energy tells us the observer’s holographic screen is a cosmic horizon that only arises with the expansion of space. Only the cosmic horizon by breaking the symmetry of empty space allows for encoding of bits of information and projection of images from the screen along the lines of “It from bit”. Only the undifferentiated consciousness of the void as an empty space of potentiality can give rise to the central point of view of the observer and the observer’s holographic screen. In the sense of ascension and dissolution, the observer is right at the edge of being “outside” the universe. The only way to be “outside” the world is to go beyond the images of a world projected from a holographic screen. The dissolution of individual consciousness back into undifferentiated consciousness is all about what is beyond the images of a world.

How is it possible for the observer to return to its original state of being and for its differentiated point of consciousness to dissolve into undifferentiated consciousness? The answer is the holographic mechanism that creates the observer’s world must come to an end, which means the end of all expressions of energy, including the emotional energy we call the expression of desire. In all nondual traditions, this end of the expression of desire is understood not as body death, but as ego death. When the expression of all desires to live a life in the world come to an end, the observer’s ego, which is the observer’s mentally constructed and emotionally energized self-concept of who it is in its world, also comes to an end.

No One Here Gets Out Alive
Jim Morrison

The only possible breakthrough occurs with ego death, but ego is in resistance to the very end. Ego fights for its own survival until it comes to an end, since that is the nature of how ego is coherently organized as a self-replicating form of information. This fight for survival is the nature of self-defensiveness.

Self-defensive expressions can occur in the moment as an expression of the normal flow of things, but with the expression of biased emotional energy and the mental construction of ego, these self-defensive expressions become emotionally reinforced, distorted and amplified like a positive feedback loop. The ultimate expression of self-defensiveness is the fear of death, which is ultimately the fear of nothingness. Paradoxically, the fear of nothingness is the fear of the ultimate nature of being. In a twisted way, being becomes afraid of itself. This fear of nothingness can only arise through the paradoxes of self-reference and self-identification that give rise to the mental construction of ego.

Only ego death, or the disorganization of this complex, mentally constructed, emotionally energized, self-replicating form of information allows for the breakthrough, which is really a break-out as the differentiated consciousness of the observer leaves its world behind, dissolves back into undifferentiated consciousness, and returns to its primordial state of undivided being. Like any process in which a coherently organized self-replicating form of information becomes disorganized, this breakthrough is really a break-down, like a phase transition that melts ice into water or a process of burning in which the ego “burns away”. Those who go through this disorganization process describe it as a mental, emotional or psychic break-down, or a break with reality.

Burning, burning, burning, burning
Oh Lord, Thou pluckest me out
The Fire Sermon

As is often stated, the antidote is in the poison. The breakthrough can only occur with ego death, which is a complete and total surrender in which the fight for survival comes to an end. The fight for survival naturally comes to an end when all desires to live a life in the world come to an end. In this break-down process, the self-identification of the observer with its character in its world comes to an end, which is the only way the observer can “break-out” of its embodied state of imprisonment. In a very real sense, only this “break with reality” can lead to the ascension and dissolution of consciousness.

Dissolution of the observer’s consciousness into undifferentiated consciousness requires de-animation of the observer’s world, which is a natural result of the observer withdrawing its focus of attention away from its world and its investment of emotional energy in its world. Ascension of the observer’s consciousness requires enough disorganization of the observer’s ego to allow for a state of emotional detachment in which the observer no longer identifies itself with its ego. This naturally happens when the expression of emotional bias comes to an end. Biased emotional energy is withdrawn away from its ego as the observer stops focusing its attention on its ego in emotionally biased ways.

As Plato tells us, even an ascended observer can still have an ego, but this mentally constructed self-concept no longer has enough emotional energy animating it for the observer to identify itself with it, and so the observer is no longer a prisoner. Plato calls this non-identified state of the observer freedom from bondage. The observer can only know itself as the light of consciousness emanating from its own focal point of consciousness and see its ego as another image projected from the screen like the self-referential narration of a movie by the central character. With dissolution, the expenditure of all energy comes to an end, the observer’s world disappears, and the observer reunites itself with the undifferentiated consciousness of the void. Ultimately, the observer can only know itself to be the undifferentiated consciousness of the void.

In a metaphysical sense, each observer’s differentiated light of consciousness, as it emanates from its own focal point of consciousness or singularity, is the nature of spiritual being, while the undifferentiated consciousness of the void is the ultimate nature of all being. Ultimately, only One Being exists.

Atman Brahman

Atman-Brahman

Each observer’s consciousness has an apparent individual existence, but at the end of the day when the holographic mechanism is no longer expressed and the observer’s world disappears, every observer must return to its ultimate state of being as undifferentiated consciousness. The holographic mechanism must come to an end when energy is no longer expended and desires are no longer expressed. As the Tao states: Ever desireless one can see the mystery.

Ultimately, there is only One Being. The void expresses its potentiality as it creates many worlds, each observed by its own observer at the central point of view and sharing information to the degree each observer’s holographic screen overlaps with the screens of other observers, but at the end of the day when these holographic mechanisms are no longer expressed, only the undifferentiated consciousness of the void exists. Every observer must eventually return to this ultimate state of being. Individual consciousness must ultimately reunite itself with undifferentiated consciousness. The divided light of consciousness of the observer must ultimately return to the undivided darkness of the void.

When the Music’s Over, Turn Out the Lights
Jim Morrison

Scientific References

Raphael Bousso (2002): The Holographic Principle. arXiv:hep-th/0203101
Amanda Gefter (2014): Trespassing on Einstein’s Lawn (Random House)
Brian Greene (2000): The Elegant Universe (Vintage Books)
Gerard ‘t Hooft (2000): The Holographic Principle. arXiv:hep-th/0003004
Ted Jacobson (1995): Thermodynamics of Spacetime. arXiv:gr-qc/9504004
J Madore (1999): Non-commutative Geometry for Pedestrians. arXiv:gr-qc/9906059
Roger Penrose (2005): The Road to Reality (Alfred A Knopf)
Lee Smolin (2001): Three Roads to Quantum Gravity (Basic Books)
Leonard Susskind (2008): The Black Hole War (Little, Brown and Company)
Leonard Susskind (1994): The World as a Hologram. arXiv:hep-th/9409089
A. Zee (2003): Quantum Field Theory in a Nutshell (Princeton University Press)

Non-duality References

Nisargadatta Maharaj (1996): The Experience of Nothingness (Blue Dove Press)
Nisargadatta Maharaj (1973): I Am That (Acorn Press)
Jed McKenna (2013): Theory of Everything (Wisefool Press)
Jed McKenna (2002, 2004, 2007): Spiritual Enlightenment Trilogy (Wisefool Press)
Osho (1974): The Book of Secrets (St. Martin’s Griffin)

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