Skip to content

The Nature of Physical and Non-Physical Reality

March 7, 2015

eternal observer

Abstract

Reality is characterized by four aspects of reality: (1) forms of information, (2) the flow of energy, (3) perceiving consciousness, and (4) the Source of information, energy and perceiving consciousness. The scientific framework for this characterization is discussed in terms of the holographic principle, non-commutative geometry, an observer-dependent cosmic horizon arising in de Sitter space with a positive cosmological constant, and the one-world-per-observer paradigm. In this scenario, the observer is present at the central focal point of a cosmic horizon that arises in the observer’s frame of reference and that acts as a holographic screen that projects the observer’s space-time geometry. A consensual reality shared by many observers is possible if their respective horizons overlap. This scientific framework only explains the nature of physical reality in terms of forms of information and the flow of energy. Even the space-time geometry of the observer’s world is derivative of information and energy. This leaves us with the quandary of how to explain perceiving consciousness and its Source, which can only be understood as the non-physical nature of reality. An argument is made that perceiving consciousness can only be understood as a focal point of consciousness differentiated from the Source that arises in relation to a holographic screen, in which case the Source can only be understood in the non-dual sense of an empty space of potentiality or a void of undifferentiated consciousness.

To understand the nature of reality, it’s only necessary to understand four aspects of reality: (1) forms of information, (2) the flow of energy, (3) perceiving consciousness, and the (4) Source of information, energy and perceiving consciousness. Once these four things are understood, the problem of the nature of reality is solved.

The basic problem is everything we observe in the world is a form of information, like an image displayed on a computer screen. Computer generated images are always composed of bits of information. Information is encoded on the computer screen in a pixelated way, with each pixel on the screen encoding a bit of information in a binary code of 1’s and 0’s. A bit of information is typically encoded at a pixel by an on/off computer switch located at that pixel that is either in the “on” or the “off” position.

The way information is encoded on the screen defines the images that are displayed and observed on the screen. These images are animated over a sequence of events, just like the animated frames of a movie. When a movie is displayed on a computer screen, each event in the animation is a screen output. With each screen output, images are defined on the screen by the way bits of information are encoded on the screen. The animation of those images corresponds to a sequence of screen outputs. This animation of images over a sequence of screen outputs always occurs in the flow of energy, which is the power that energizes the computer.

The animated images displayed on the computer screen are projected to the point of view of an observer. With each screen output, the images are projected to the point of view of the observer, who observes those images. The animation of images is observed over a sequence of screen outputs, which occurs in the flow of energy that energizes the whole animation process.

eternal observer

Image of Wheeler’s universal observer

How can this computer analogy give an accurate description of the world? The answer is found in two recent discoveries of modern physics and cosmology: the holographic principle and the nature of an observer-dependent cosmic horizon. When these two scientific concepts are put together, we discover that the world is just like a computer generated animation displayed on a computer screen and observed by an observer.

When we say everything we observe in the world is an animated form of information, like an animated image displayed on a computer screen, we are in effect defining the world on that screen. As we are about to see, the scientific concept that explains the nature of this “animation of the world on a screen” is the holographic principle.

Not only does the holographic principle explain the “animation of the world on a screen”, but it also explains the nature of the screen (as an event horizon), the encoding of bits of information on the screen (in the sense of the eigenvalues of a matrix, which are like spin variables that can only point “up” or “down”, just like an on/off switch), the organization of bits of information into forms (as coherent organization that arises from entangled spin states or the entanglement of bits of information), and the flow of energy that energizes the whole animation process (in the sense of dark energy or the exponential expansion of space that gives rise to an observer-dependent cosmic horizon that inflates in size due to an instability in the amount of dark energy).

The only things the holographic principle cannot explain are the nature of the perceiving consciousness and the Source of information, energy and perceiving consciousness. If we understand the nature of the perceiving consciousness and its Source, the problem of the nature of reality is solved. The only problem with this solution is there is no scientific explanation for consciousness, and so there is no scientific explanation for the Source of consciousness. The problem of the Source cannot be solved scientifically.

The problem is there are no scientific concepts that explain the nature of perceiving consciousness or its Source. The nature of perceiving consciousness and its Source cannot be explained scientifically. Science can never give us the complete answer. If we want to discover the complete answer, we have to look elsewhere.

The radical paradigm-shattering nature of this conclusion bears further discussion. The only reason we believe we are a part of the world we perceive is because we believe the individual consciousness that each of us possesses arises from our brain inside our head. Only that individual consciousness has its own inherent sense of being present, which is its own sense of “I-am-ness”. When we call ourselves human beings, we are conflating that sense of being present with the human life-forms that we take ourselves to be. We mistakenly conflate our own perceiving consciousness with that perceivable life-form.

This conflating of the facts of existence is what neuroscience assumes, but then neuroscience has no idea about how consciousness arises from a brain, except for some mumbo-jumbo about “emergence”. A few honest neuroscientists admit they have no idea how perceiving consciousness arises. They admit it may not even be possible to explain how consciousness arises, and so they attribute its presence to be an “illusion”.

The fact of the matter is, if the perceivable reality of a world composed of information and energy is the only reality, then perceiving consciousness must be an illusion, since it cannot arise as a part of that world. As long as the information that is organized in that world and the energy that flows through that world obey consistent computational rules, which we call the laws of physics that govern a world, then it is impossible for perceiving consciousness to arise within that world, no matter the degree of complexity with which information is organized or energy flows. On the other hand, if perceiving consciousness really does exist, then its existence must be found outside that perceivable world. If perceiving consciousness really does exist, then there must be another reality outside the reality of a perceivable world that is the Source of its existence. If we want to understand the nature of reality in its totality, then we have to understand the nature of the Source.

This odd state of affairs is best explained with the Gödel incompleteness theorems. A human brain is a part of the human life-form. The best way to characterize the human brain is as a coherently organized form of information that is animated in the flow of energy. This is the case for any life-form we want to discuss. Any life-form is a coherently organized form of information composed of bits of information that tend to hold together over a sequence of events. This tendency to “hold together” or self-replicate form over a sequence of events is the nature of coherence. The sequence of events that define the animation of any self-replicating life-form always arises in the flow of energy.

No matter how we formulate the laws of physics that characterize any possible world within which any possible self-replicating life-form arises, those laws are only computational rules, just like the rules that govern the operation of a computer. With computation, bits of information encoded in a binary code of 1’s and 0’s are combined together with the rules of arithmetic.

The second Gödel incompleteness theorem proves that any logically consistent set of computational rules as complex as arithmetic can never prove its own consistency. The “proof of consistency” is always found outside that set of rules. How then is it possible for a presence of perceiving consciousness to “know” about the logical consistency of the set of computational rules that govern the behavior of a brain if that brain generates that consciousness? The answer is: it is not possible. That presence of consciousness must be found outside the set of rules that govern the behavior of that brain or life-form, which proves that presence of consciousness is found outside that brain and outside that life-form.

This state of affairs is really no different than the operation of a computer. The flow of energy that animates a life-form is no different than the flow of energy that energizes a computer, and a self-replicating life-form is really no different that an animated image displayed on the computer screen over a sequence of screen outputs. These images are observed each screen output as they are projected to the point of view of an observer outside the computer screen. The observer is always found outside the computer screen.

paradox

No matter how we formulate the laws of physics that characterize a world, these laws are only computational rules that govern how the bits of information inherent in that world are organized into forms and how energy flows through that world to animate those forms over a sequence of events. This is no different than the operation of a computer. The holographic principle tells us the observer is always found outside the holographic screen.

There can only be an illusion that the observer is defined on the holographic screen if the observer identifies itself with an animated image it perceives on the screen, as that image is projected to the point of view of the observer outside the screen. The nature of this illusion is the self-identification of the observer with the image of an animated life-form the observer observes. This argument demonstrates it is logically impossible for the observer to be some observable thing that it observes.

This raises the key question: what kind of reality is outside the reality of a perceivable world composed of information and energy when that world is defined on a holographic screen and the observer of that world is only a focal point of consciousness that arises in relation to the screen? The reason the holographic principle is able to point us to the only possible answer to this question is because a holographic screen defining an observer’s world is a bounding surface of space that must arise in some “space of potentiality”.

The space bounded by a holographic screen is not the ultimate nature of “space”, but is only a holographic projection from a bounding surface of space to the point of view of an observer. The ultimate reality outside a perceivable world, which must be the Source of perceiving consciousness, can only be an “empty space of potentiality”.

We also have the problem of space-time geometry, but this problem is also solved by the holographic principle. The space-time geometry of a world is defined by the projection of the images of things from a holographic screen to the central point of view of an observer over a sequence of events, where each event is like a screen output. The nature of space-time geometry arises from the spatial relations of the images of things projected to the observer’s point of view and the temporal relations that arise over a sequence of screen outputs. The observer’s space-time geometry is derivative of how information is encoded on the screen. In the language of relativity theory, the observer follows a world-line through that projected space-time geometry, and each event on the observer’s world-line corresponds to a screen output that arises in the flow of energy, where the flow of energy naturally arises in the observer’s accelerated frame of reference.

This description of a world in terms of forms of information defined on a holographic screen and the flow of energy that animates those forms is as far as physics can ever take us. The problem is physics can never explain the Source of the perceiving consciousness outside the screen, nor can physics explain the Source of the information and energy that allows a world to become constructed and displayed on a holographic screen. If we want a complete description of the nature of reality, we have to confront the problem of the Source, but physics and scientific theories can never give us the complete answer.

We could begin with the Source, which is only describable in physical terms as an empty space of potentiality, the void, or infinite nothingness, and then realize that for this “empty space” to be the Source of perceiving consciousness, it must also be describable as undifferentiated consciousness. In some unknown way, perceiving consciousness must be differentiated from its Source of undifferentiated consciousness. This differentiation process is somehow related to how all the information and energy that characterizes the observer’s world arises from the Source as the observer’s consciousness is differentiated from the Source.

Instead of beginning with the Source, we’ll begin with the holographic principle and work backwards, and then infer how this principle implies the nature of the Source.

The holographic principle tells us all the bits of information that define everything an observer can observe in its world are defined on a holographic screen. The holographic screen is a bounding surface of space that encodes all the bits of information that define all the observable things an observer can observe in the space limited by that bounding surface. Information is encoded on the screen in a pixelated way, with each pixel on the screen encoding a bit of information in a binary code of 1’s and 0’s.

Information01

Covariant entropy bound image from ‘t Hooft

Modern physics tells us that each bit of information is encoded on a pixel defined on the screen, where the pixel size is about a Planck area, ℓ2=ћG/c3. In the sense of a quantized space-time geometry, the Planck length ℓ, which is about 10−33 cm, is the smallest possible distance scale that can ever be measured. This pixelated way of encoding information is the natural way to understand how a space-time geometry is quantized.

horizon information

Horizon information image

The holographic screen always surrounds an observer at the central point of view, and the observation of anything in that bounded space by the observer is like a screen output from the screen to the central point of view of the observer. This is just like the kind of observations an observer makes on a digital computer screen. With each screen output, the images of things are projected from the screen to the observer’s central point of view.

The Observer, the Screen and the Thing

Holographic principle image from Smolin

Since all the observable images of things in the observer’s world are projected from the screen to the central point of view of the observer, the observer can only be understood as a focal point of consciousness. This focal point of consciousness always arises in relation to the bounding surface of space that acts as a holographic screen. In the sense of the projection of images, the observer is always present at the central point of view.

Everything the observer can possibly observe in the space bounded by the screen is like the holographic projection of images from the screen to the central point of view of the observer. Although the bits of information are encoded on a two dimensional screen, the projected images appear three dimensional since they’re holographic.

The holographic principle also tells us that the most generic way to understand how bits of information are encoded on the screen is in terms of matrices. A bit of information corresponds to an eigenvalue of the matrix. Encoding bits of information in this way is very similar to how spin variables encode bits of information in quantum theory. We understand that spin variables can only point “up” or “down”, and so they encode information in a binary code of 1’s and 0’s, just like an on/off computer switch that is either in the “on” or the “off” position.

The holographic principle says all the quantized bits of information that characterize a region of space are encoded on a surface bounding that space, which is called the covariant entropy bound. The number of bits of information, n, is specified in terms of the surface area, A, and the Planck area, ℓ2, as n=A/4ℓ2, as though the surface is covered with n pixels, each about a Planck area in size and each encoding a bit of information. These n bits of information are naturally defined by the n eigenvalues of an nxn matrix.

entropy2

This way of encoding n bits of information on a bounding surface of space in terms of the n eigenvalues of an nxn matrix naturally arises in a non-commutative geometry due to the parameterization of spatial coordinates on the surface with non-commuting variables. If the bounding surface of space is parameterized in terms of an (x, y) coordinate system, like latitude and longitude on the surface of a sphere, and if these spatial coordinates are required to act as non-commutating variables that generate an uncertainty relation of the form ΔxΔy≥ℓ2, then each point on the surface becomes fuzzy and is smeared out into an area element of size ℓ2. The more we know about the x-coordinate in any measurement, the less we know about the y-coordinate. Each area element acts like a pixel on the surface that encodes a bit of information defined by the n eigenvalues of an nxn matrix, where the value of n is specified in terms of the surface area, A, of the bounding surface as n=A/4ℓ2. The (x, y) coordinates, as represented by n non-commuting variables, no longer define points on the surface, but n pixels. These n position coordinates are defined on the surface in a rotationally invariant way since the nxn matrix is typically an SU(n) matrix. Since an SU(2) matrix encodes information in a binary code of 1’s and 0’s, like spin variables that can only point “up” or “down”, and since an SU(n) matrix is always decomposable into SU(2) matrices, the n bits of information are also encoded in a binary code.

globe

In quantum theory, spin variables are represented by matrices, and so it is natural to understand how a holographic screen encodes bits of information in terms of matrices. Each eigenvalue of the matrix is like a bit of information that encodes information in a binary code. In the sense of quantum entanglement, the eigenvalues of a matrix are all entangled with each other, and so all of this information is entangled.

This entanglement of information allows for coherent organization of information, which allows forms of information to self-replicate their forms over a sequence of events, where each event is like a screen output that projects images of things to the observer’s central point of view. The self-replication of form follows from the entanglement of information.

The images projected to the observer from a holographic screen are best understood in the sense of coherently organized forms of information. These coherently organized forms of information can be understood in the sense of bound states of information that tend to hold together over a sequence of screen outputs. Coherent organization means the forms tend to hold together as bound states of information. This tendency to hold together is a direct result of the entanglement of information. Each observational event is like a screen output, and the projected images are animated over a sequence of events. This animation of images over a sequence of events always arises in the flow of energy.

How do we understand the flow of energy? Relativity theory gives the answer in terms of an observer’s accelerated frame of reference. Energy must be expended as an observer enters into an accelerated frame of reference, just like a rocket-ship must expend energy through the force of its thrusters as it accelerates through space.

gravity

Principle of equivalence image

In relativity theory, we understand an observer’s accelerated frame of reference as an accelerated world-line through space-time geometry. The holographic principle turns this understanding inside-out, since space-time geometry is a holographic projection from the observer’s holographic screen to the central point of view of the observer. The observer’s space-time geometry is derivative of how energy is expended and how information is encoded on the screen. The observer only appears to follow an accelerated world-line through the space-time geometry that is projected from its holographic screen to the central point of view of the observer.

Observer's Horizon

Rindler horizon image from Smolin

An observer’s holographic screen is understood in the sense of an event horizon that only arises because the observer is in an accelerated frame of reference. The event horizon is a bounding surface of space that always limits the observer’s observations of things in that bounded space due to the limitation of the speed of light. This limitation of the speed of light is just like the maximal rate of information transfer in a computer network. The event horizon demarcates a boundary in space that no light signal can ever cross due to the observer’s accelerated frame of reference. The event horizon only arises when the observer expends energy and enters into an accelerated frame of reference.

The ultimate horizon that defines the observer’s world is its cosmic horizon, which arises with the expenditure of dark energy. The cosmic horizon arises with the force of dark energy, which in relativity theory is called a cosmological constant. The force of dark energy is like a repulsive force of anti-gravity that gives rise to the exponential expansion of space. Space appears to expand away from the central point of view of the observer at an accelerated rate. The farther out in space the observer looks, the faster space appears to expand away from the observer. At the cosmic horizon, space appears to expand away from the observer at the speed of light, and so things at the cosmic horizon appear to move away from the observer at the speed of light. Since nothing can travel faster than the speed of light, the cosmic horizon is as far out in space as the observer can see things in space.

exponential expansion of space

The cosmic horizon is a bounding surface of space that limits the observer’s observations of things in space. Those limited observations of things in space are observed relative to the central point of view of the observer. The observer at the central point of view makes those limited observations. The bounding surface of a cosmic horizon always surrounds the observer at the central point of view. The strange aspect of the exponential expansion of space is a cosmic horizon surrounds every observer at the central point of view, which is to say the cosmic horizon is observer-dependent.

expanding universe

Expansion of space image

How can space appear to expand? The answer is the curvature of space-time geometry. Relativity theory defines curvature with the space-time metric, which is a measure of the amount of curvature that determines the distance along some path between two space-time points. Space appears to contract with the attractive force of gravity, while space appears to expand with the repulsive force of dark energy. This apparent contraction or expansion of space over the course of time occurs relative to the point of view of an observer, which is the nature of the curvature of space-time geometry in relativity theory. This apparent contraction or expansion of space is just like the distortion of images that appear on a computer screen in a computer animation. This is actually a very good analogy, since the bounding surface of a cosmic horizon acts as a holographic screen that projects the images of things to the central point of view of an observer.

eternal observer

The natural consequence of the holographic principle and a cosmic horizon that defines the nature of an observer’s world is the “one-world-per-observer paradigm”.

The key concept in the one-world-per-observer paradigm is each observer is at the central point of view of its own holographic screen that defines everything the observer can possibly observe in its own world. That boundary constructs a quantum state for all possible observations the observer can make in its world. Each observation reduces the quantum state of the screen to an actual configuration state of information defined on the screen, and is like a screen output. Each observational event on the observer’s accelerated world-line through the projected space-time geometry of its world is a screen output. In a holographic world, even the observer’s space-time geometry is derivative of information and energy, as an event horizon arises in the observer’s accelerated frame of reference as energy is expended and bits of information are encoded on the holographic screen.

This gives a natural explanation for the one-world-per-observer paradigm, but how do we understand a consensual reality shared by many observers? The holographic principle again gives the answer. Each observer’s world is defined on its own holographic screen, but those bounding surfaces of space can overlap with each other in the sense of a Venn diagram and share information. This is just like the kind of information sharing that occurs in a computer network. Many observers can share a consensual reality together to the degree their respective holographic screens overlap and share information.

Overlapping bounded spaces

The holographic principle is a duality that relates the projected images of all the things observed in some three dimensional region of space to the way bits of information are encoded on the two dimensional bounding surface of that space. Those projected images include the images of elementary particles, like the electron and photon. When the laws of physics are formulated as a 3+1 dimensional field theory, such as Einstein’s field equations for the space-time metric, Maxwell’s field equations for electromagnetism, or Dirac’s field equations for the electron, this formulation only applies to the three dimensional region of space half of the duality. The other half of the duality is specified by the way bits of information are encoded on the two dimensional bounding surface of that space, which is typically formulated in terms of the n eigenvalues of an nxn matrix.

The duality is a way to make a mathematical transformation from one half of the duality to the other half of the duality. Although we think it is natural to quantize field equations, such as the formulation of quantum electrodynamics, this kind of quantization only has a limited range of validity. The only quantum variables with a range of validity extending down to the Planck scale are non-commuting variables defined on a bounding surface of space.

What are we to make of our attempts to quantize field equations? At most, this can only give us an effective field theory with a limited range of validity. These effective field theories naturally arise as a thermodynamic average in the bulk half of the duality from the non-commuting variables defined on the bounding surface of that space.

The other way to describe the duality is in terms of a holographic screen that constructs a Hilbert space of observable values for the observer’s world. The Hilbert space is always constructed as a sum over all possible observable states of the observer’s world, and each observation of that world is a quantum state reduction. Everything the observer can observe in its world is like a screen output that arises as this Hilbert space of observable values is reduced to some actual observable state of information defined on the screen.

The holographic principle and non-commutative geometry tell us the Hilbert space for the holographic screen is constructed in terms of an nxn matrix, which by its very nature is defined on a bounding surface of space. What then are we to make of the kind of Hilbert space that arises in a quantum field theory? Again, a QFT is only an effective field theory that arises as a thermodynamic average with a limited range of validity. In QFT, the Hilbert space is always defined in a three dimensional space that is an aspect of a 3+1 dimensional space-time geometry. Each component of the quantum field φ(x, t) defined at some position x in that space acts like a harmonic oscillator with a spectrum of excited values, but this spectrum of particle excitations or localized excitations of field energy has a limited range of validity.

The reason no QFT can represent how space-time geometry is quantized is the covariant entropy bound. The covariant bound tells us that the maximum entropy characterizing any three dimensional region of space is bounded by the n bits of information encoded on the bounding surface of that space, where n is given in terms of the surface area as n=A/4ℓ2. Even if a 3+1 dimensional space-time geometry is quantized, the harmonic oscillator nature of particle excitations in a QFT will overwhelm the covariant entropy bound with too many degrees of freedom (proportional to the spatial volume) once the Planck scale is approached, and so every QFT must have a limited range of validity.

What then are we to make of the field equations for the metric that describe a space-time geometry? The field equations for the metric are only an effective field theory that arises as a thermodynamic average with a limited range of validity. The only valid quantum variables at the Planck scale are non-commuting variables defined on a bounding surface of space, which defines a Hilbert space for the holographic screen. The space-time geometry characterizing the observer’s world, which is derivative of how information is encoded on the screen, only arises as a projection of images from the observer’s holographic screen to the observer’s central point of view over a sequence of screen outputs. This occurs as the observer enters into an accelerated frame of reference and appears to follow a world-line through its projected space-time geometry.

There is an easy way to see how effective field theories describing the bulk half of the duality arise from the covariant entropy bound. The laws of thermodynamics specify as energy flows through a boundary, some entropy must flow along with the energy. Since entropy is defined on the boundary in terms of its surface area, the boundary must change as energy flows through it, and so the geometry of the bounded space must also change.

This relation between the flow of energy and entropy, the surface area of the boundary, and the geometry of the bounded space implies Einstein’s field equations for the space-time metric as thermodynamic equations of state. If we invoke the Kaluza-Klein mechanism this generates field equations for the electromagnetic and nuclear forces. In a non-commutative geometry, not only are gauge fields generated, but also the Higgs fields. With super-symmetry, boson and fermion fields are generated. In a nutshell, this is all of field theory, derived from nothing more than geometry, symmetry, thermodynamics, and the covariant entropy bound. In this sense, all fields in the bulk half of the duality are understood as components of the space-time metric.

Can fractal geometry explain the nature of gravity and a holographic world? The answer is yes, due to the deep connection between fractal geometry and non-commutative geometry.

There is a deep connection between fractal geometry and non-commutative geometry called Penrose tiling. When this connection is made, the usual holographic mechanism is straightforward. When non-commutative geometry is applied to an observer-dependent cosmic horizon, which arises with the expenditure of dark energy and the exponential expansion of space, the covariant entropy bound is automatically in effect. The covariant entropy bound then implies the space-time geometry of the observer’s world is described by Einstein’s field equations for the space-time metric (which is the nature of gravity) as thermodynamic equations of state, sort of like the ideal gas law arises in kinetic theory. This directly follows from the laws of thermodynamics, as they relate the flow of energy and entropy through the observer’s world. This argument demonstrates that fractal geometry, or Penrose tiling, when applied to an observer-dependent cosmic horizon, gives rise to the covariant entropy bound and a holographic world governed by gravity.

Penrose tiling

The holographic principle tells us the bounding surface of space is an event horizon that can only arise when the observer enters into an accelerated frame of reference, which requires the expenditure of energy. What is the ultimate source of this energy?

Modern cosmology gives us the answer in terms of dark energy and the exponential expansion of space. Whenever dark energy is expended, space appears to expand at an accelerated rate relative to the observer’s central point of view, and a surrounding cosmic horizon arises that limits the observer’s observations of things in space. In relativity theory this kind of exponentially expanding space, which is characterized by a positive cosmological constant, is called de Sitter space. The cosmic horizon surrounding the observer at the central point of view is observer-dependent, as space appears to expand away from the observer faster the farther out in space the observer looks. We understand this apparent expansion of space in terms of the repulsive force of dark energy.

If we take the big bang theory seriously, we understand that at the moment of creation of the observer’s world, that world is about a Planck length in size, but that world then inflates in size because of an instability in dark energy. This instability in dark energy is like a process of burning that burns away the dark energy.

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 the dark energy and “undoes” this broken symmetry. As the 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. As the phase transition occurs, dark energy burns away.

quantum tunneling

Meta-stable state image

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

There is something odd about this phase transition from a false vacuum state to a true vacuum state, as dark energy burns away and the cosmological constant decreases in value from its initial high value to its final value of zero. This phase transition is the nature of the event that the observer at the central point of view of a cosmic horizon perceives as a big bang event. The odd nature of this scenario is that the total transition to zero can occur over a series of many phase transitions. Each phase transition will appear to the observer as another big bang event. Each phase transition can burn away part of the total amount of dark energy, and is like a transition from a false vacuum state to a less false vacuum state characterized by a lower value of the cosmological constant. With each phase transition, the observer’s cosmic horizon inflates in size.

Each inflation of the observer’s world will appear to the observer as another big bang event. In the exponential expansion of space scenario, the repulsive force of dark energy always counteracts the attractive force of gravity, and so there is only the expansion of space and no contraction. Unlike the cyclical idea of a big crunch followed by a big bang, there is only the expansion of space and repetitive inflations of the cosmic horizon.

In this scenario, a big bang event is only an inflation in size of the observer’s cosmic horizon. Each phase transition resets the radius of the cosmic horizon at the beginning of each big bang event, and the amount of dark energy that burns away during the phase transition resets the radius of the cosmic horizon at the end of the big bang event. A series of such inflations, each occurring as a phase transition, ultimately must terminate when the cosmological constant approaches its final value of zero, the radius of the cosmic horizon approaches infinity, and the true vacuum state is finally reached.

This understanding is not only consistent with our understanding of the big bang event, but also with the current measured value of the cosmological constant, based on the rate at which distant galaxies are observed to accelerate away from us. The current measured value of Λ is about 10−123, which corresponds to the size of the observable universe of about 15 billion light years.

accelerating universe

The second law of thermodynamics simply says that heat tends to flow from a hotter object to a colder object because the hotter object radiates 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 of the observer’s world to colder states of the observer’s world.

Flow of energy

Second law of thermodynamics image from Penrose

The normal flow of energy through the observer’s world simply reflects this normal flow of heat as the 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. One of the mysteries of the second law is understanding time’s arrow, or how the normal course of time is related to this normal flow of energy. The burning away of dark energy explains this mystery. As far as the holographic principle goes, a thermal gradient is also a temporal gradient. The holographic principle reduces concepts of temperature, the normal flow of energy and the course of time to geometry, and so these concepts are intrinsically related to each other.

To say the course of time arises in a temporal gradient is the same as to say the flow of energy arises in a thermal gradient. This is what the holographic principle, the burning away of dark energy and the second law of thermodynamics tell us. As dark energy burns away, the observer’s cosmic horizon inflates in size and cools in temperature, which drives the normal flow of energy and course of time in the observer’s world. This is like the flow of a river down a mountainside under the influence of gravity, except the force of dark energy is repulsive, and is like a kind of anti-gravity. The gradient is established as dark energy burns away, which is like a decrease in the repulsive force of anti-gravity.

What are we to make of the expenditure of other forms of energy besides dark energy? Modern cosmology and physics give the answer in terms of symmetry breaking. All forms of positive energy arise from dark energy through a process of symmetry breaking.

A key aspect of symmetry breaking is not usually discussed. The nature of symmetry breaking that allows for the emergence of a world along the lines of the inflationary scenario is only possible 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 since the negative potential energy of gravitational attraction can exactly cancel out the total amount of dark energy and any 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, the protons become stable, and so that is what is left over. Even the mass of the proton arises through a process of symmetry breaking that we call the Higgs mechanism. The expenditure of energy that characterizes the fundamental gauge forces, like electromagnetic energy in a living organism, or nuclear energy in a star, all arises 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

A common problem in both the physical and biological sciences is spontaneous emergence. This problem of spontaneous emergence always reduces down to some coherently organized form of information that spontaneously develops and is organized with the ability to self-replicate its form over a sequence of events. Whether we speak about a self-replicating living organism or a physical form of organization, like a star, planet, solar system or galaxy, we’re still speaking about a coherently organized form of information with the ability to self-replicate its form.

Self-replication of form always occurs over a sequence of events in the course of time that arises in the flow of energy. There is no possible way to discus the course of time without discussing the flow of energy. Whatever form we consider, like a life-form, that self-replicating form is animated over a sequence of events in the flow of energy, like forms of information or images we observe on a computer screen over a sequence of screen outputs that arise in the flow of energy that energizes the computer.

For self-replication of form to occur, not only is the form of information coherently organized, but the flow of energy through the form that animates the form is also coherently organized. The problem of spontaneous emergence boils down to the problem of how bits of information are coherently organized within the form and how energy coherently flows through the form to allow for self-replication of form. By its nature, such coherent organization defines a bound state of information and energy.

How does the coherent organization that underlies the spontaneous emergence of all the coherently organized forms of information we observe in the world develop? We might say coherent organization is inherent in the laws of physics, but this begs the question: where do the laws of physics that govern a world come from?

The answer is everything in the world, every aspect of that world, spontaneously emerges due to the development of coherent organization. Even the laws of physics that govern a world spontaneously emerge as that world emerges. Even an entire world is coherently organized. Of course, this is precisely what the holographic principle tells us about the nature of an observer and its world, since that world is coherently defined on a holographic screen.

The problem we have is to understand spontaneous emergence in its most general form, with enough generality that it can explain how an entire world and the laws of physics that govern that world can spontaneously emerge.

The solution to this problem of spontaneous emergence, as it applies not only to the emergence of forms but also to the emergence of a world and the laws of physics that govern that world, is the concept of symmetry. Everything that can spontaneously emerge in a world, even the laws of physics that govern that world, even the emergence of that world itself, is an example of spontaneous symmetry breaking. We understand symmetry breaking in the sense of a phase transition, like the spontaneous magnetization of a magnet, or the freezing of liquid water into ice or the melting of ice back into water.

A key concept in all examples of symmetry breaking is the idea of temperature, which is a measure of the random thermal or kinetic energy of the microscopic elements of any macroscopic object, like water molecules inside a piece of ice. Another example are the atoms, electrons, and atomic nuclei inside a magnet that carry spin or orbital angular momentum and have an intrinsic magnetic field due their electric charges and angular momenta. The macroscopic magnet develops a macroscopic magnetic field when the microscopic magnetic fields of the microscopic elementary constituents align together, just as liquid water freezes into solid ice when the water molecules bind together.

This binding or aligning of the microscopic elementary constituents occurs as a phase transition when the temperature reaches a critical level and the force of attraction between the elementary constituents becomes greater than their kinetic tendency to randomly move around. The other way to say this is their potential energy of attraction becomes greater than their kinetic energy of random movement. Coherent organization spontaneously develops due to this tendency of the elementary microscopic constituents to bind or align together when the temperature becomes low enough, and the balance between potential and kinetic energy is tipped in favor of attractive potential energy.

The reason spontaneous emergence can apply to the emergence of an entire world is because that world is always defined on a holographic screen in terms of the bits of information encoded on the screen. These bits of information are like spin variables that carry random kinetic or thermal energy, and so they have a tendency to flip back and forth between the “up” or “down” positions, but they also have a tendency to align together. The n bits of information defined on the holographic screen are defined by the n eigenvalues of an nxn matrix, but since these n eigenvalues are all entangled together, they have a tendency to align together. A nice example of this phenomena is alignment in a spin network. Coherently organized forms of information can develop on the holographic screen through the same kind of symmetry breaking mechanism that describes how a magnet becomes spontaneously magnetized. The temperature of the holographic screen only represents the average thermal energy of each bit of information encoded on the screen. As heat flows in a thermal gradient and the temperature is lowered, bits of information have a natural tendency to align together.

There is an important distinction between the coherent development of physical organization and the coherent development of biological organization. Both kinds of organization develop through some kind of critical phenomena or symmetry breaking, like a phase transition that freezes liquid water into ice or freezes the direction of a macroscopically magnetized magnetic field. For a physical phase transition, the critical variable driving the phase transition is the temperature of the system of microscopic elements. As the temperature is lowered, the phase transition occurs as the balance between random thermal kinetic energy and attractive potential energy is shifted in favor of potential energy.

For a biological phase transition, the critical variable that drives the phase transition is not the temperature of the system, but the amount of potential energy in the system. Biological phase transitions occur through a process of adding potential energy to the system, which we call a process of eating. As potential energy is added to the system at a constant temperature, the phase transition occurs as the balance between random thermal kinetic energy and attractive potential energy is again shifted in favor of potential energy.

All biological organisms develop during critical periods of development, during which time coherent organization of information develops. These critical periods of development are all biological phase transitions that occur as potential energy is added to the system, which we call a process of eating. During the biological phase transition, coherently organized life-forms develop as bits of information are frozen into place. This is a dynamic process that occurs as potential energy is added to the system and the balance is shifted in favor of potential energy.

The maximal amount of coherent organization the life-form can ever have occurs at the time of the phase transition that develops the life-form. This is an inevitable consequence of the second law of thermodynamics. As energy flows through the life-form, which animates all the behaviors of the life-form, the second law tells us that entropy must increase as energy flows. Increased entropy represents the thermal disorganization of information. Even if there are repair mechanisms in the life-form that tend to maintain organization, eventually the relentless increase in entropy that occurs as the life-form is animated and energy flows overwhelms the repair mechanisms, and the life-form becomes irreversibly disorganized. Even the repair mechanisms suffer from the relentless increase in entropy, eventually break down, and the life-form is inevitably disorganized.

A key aspect of all repair mechanisms is a process that maintains the entropy of the life-form at a stable level while energy flows through the life-form. This is only possible if entropy is shed into the environment. This is similar to a process of photo-synthesis, in which higher energy, lower entropy photons are absorbed, some of the energy is used to construct high energy chemical bonds in biological molecules, and lower energy, higher entropy infrared photons are radiated away into the environment. In the process, the entropy of the life-form remains stable. The reverse happens in a process of burning, in which the entropy of the life-form increases.

Just as we recognize the critical periods of development during which a life-form is organized as the birth of the life-form, we recognize the eventual irreversible disorganization of the life-form as the death of the life-form. In reality, the birth, life and death of the life-form is nothing more than the development and maintenance of coherent organization, followed by its eventual disorganization.

The nature of coherent organization that develops in life-forms during critical periods of development, and the eventual disorganization that occurs as energy flows, the life-form is animated and entropy relentlessly increases, thus explains the birth, life and death of the life-form, but what about the consciousness that perceives the whole animation process? The true nature of being is the presence of consciousness that perceives the whole thing. The holographic principle tells us this presence of perceiving consciousness, which we call the observer, is only a focal point of consciousness arising in relation to a holographic screen upon which the whole animation is displayed. Only this presence of consciousness has its own sense of being present, not the animated images displayed on the screen.

Can this presence of perceiving consciousness stop existing? Can the Source of perceiving consciousness stop existing? The answer, as we’ll shortly see, is no.

Symmetry breaking thus explains how coherently organized forms of information spontaneously emerge in a world defined on a holographic screen. The question is: where does this symmetry come from in the first place?

The answer is symmetry is a characteristic of the expenditure of energy that creates an entire world in the first place. We understand this original expenditure of energy as dark energy and the exponential expansion of space. The energy expended as space expands gives rise to all the symmetries that underlie all the various kinds of symmetry breaking. The most fundamental kind of symmetry breaking is the creation of a cosmic horizon that surrounds an observer at the central point of view. Since the observer’s cosmic horizon acts as a holographic screen, the observer’s world is defined by this act of symmetry breaking. The original symmetries broken in that world are symmetries of space that arise with the expenditure of dark energy and the exponential expansion of space.

Not only does the observer’s world spontaneously emerge as dark energy is expended, but the laws of physics that govern that world also emerge as that world emerges. The laws of physics are constrained by the nature of symmetry, but they can only take on their specific forms through a process of symmetry breaking. All the parameters that characterize the laws of physics that govern a world, such as particle masses and coupling constants, arise through a process of symmetry breaking. The general form of the laws of physics, such as laws of gravity and electromagnetism, are constrained by the symmetries of space that arise with the expenditure of dark energy and the exponential expansion of space, but the parameters within these laws take on their specific values through a process of symmetry breaking. Like a phase transition that freezes water into ice or freezes the direction of the magnetic field of a magnet into a specific direction, these specific values are “frozen” into place once the phase transition is finished.

There is an important aspect of symmetry breaking that is usually not discussed. Whatever symmetry is broken, that symmetry can be broken in many different ways. For example, with the spontaneous magnetization of a magnetic, the magnet’s macroscopic magnetic field can point in many different directions. In much the same way, the parameters that characterize the laws of physics, the particle masses and the coupling constants, can take on many different values.

How are the values of these parameters in the laws of physics that govern a world chosen? Who chooses them? Who chooses the original symmetries of space that are inherent in a world and that are broken as that world emerges?

This problem of choosing how the symmetries of space are broken as a world emerges, not to mention the problem of how all the symmetries of space emerge in the first place, is not a problem that physicists want to address, and so they assume a process of random choice, but then are left with the difficult problem of explaining how all the parameters in the laws of physics become fine-tuned enough to allow life-forms to develop. As is well known, if the charge of the electron changes by a few percent, or if certain nuclear decay rates change by a few percent, the universe would not be a hospitable place for life-forms to develop, but this is the inevitable result of a random process of choice. To get around this problem, physicists have had to resort to such absurdities as multiple universes. If there are an infinite number of universes, then random choice will allow the parameters in the laws of physics to become fine-tuned enough in some of them to allow life-forms to develop. Unfortunately, an infinite number of universes results in the absurdity of the measure problem, where both anything and nothing can be explained.

There is a natural way to explain how all the parameters in the laws of physics that govern the world are chosen in a fine-tuned enough way that allows for the development of life-forms. The solution is biased choice. Biased choice is the natural consequence of the holographic principle and the one-world-per-observer paradigm.

Every observer’s world is defined on a holographic screen that surrounds the observer at the central point of view. We understand the observer as a focal point of consciousness that arises in relation to the screen and to which the images of all distinct things in that world, all the coherently organized forms of information that are defined on the screen, are projected over a sequence of screen outputs.

Since the observer is a focal point of consciousness that arises in relation to a holographic screen defining everything in its world, it is natural the observer can focus its attention on different things in that world. This ability to shift the focus of its attention onto different things in its world naturally explains how the observer expresses its inherent bias as it chooses to observe different things in its world.

In this sense, everything in the observer’s world spontaneously emerges as the observer expresses its natural bias by shifting the focus of its attention onto different things in its world. The observer is naturally biased to feel connected to its world, and feelings of connection naturally arise as the flow of energy through all the things in its world come into alignment. These feelings of connection are the nature of the coherently organized flow of energy through the various things in that world that allows for self-replication of form, animates those things, and relates one thing to another thing. In the sense of the expression of emotions that animate the form of a body, the observer is naturally biased to feel connected to things in its world as the desires of that body become satisfied.

This inherent bias of the observer to feel connected to its world explains how coherent organization develops and how everything in the observer’s world spontaneously emerges. It even explains how the observer’s world emerges in the first place, and how the laws of physics that govern that world emerge. The observer’s world and the laws of physics emerge in such a way as to make the expression of life in that world possible, so that the expressed desires of those life-forms can become satisfied.

What about the consensual reality shared by many observers? Many different observers can share a consensual reality to the extent their holographic screens overlap and share information. To a limited degree, each observer makes biased choices in its own world as it focuses its attention on that world, but the biased choices of all the different observers that share the consensual reality together give rise to all the coherently organized forms of information that develop in that consensual reality. Even the laws of physics that govern that consensual reality are chosen in a collective way. In other words, that shared consensual reality is the reality that all the different observers have chosen together.

Overlapping bounded spaces

The laws of physics governing a consensual reality arise from the symmetries of space that arise with the expansion of space and the way those symmetries of space are broken. The net result of all the biased choices made by all the observers in the consensual reality as these symmetries of space arise with the expansion of space and are then broken are the laws of physics that govern that reality, which are just like the computational rules that govern a computer network, except this computer network is not deterministic in nature, but is a quantum state of potentiality.

The holographic principle and the one-world-per-observer paradigm tell us that as an observer expends energy and follows an accelerated world-line through the space-time geometry projected from its own holographic screen, the observer makes observations of things in that bounded space. Each observation of things by the observer is like a screen output from the observer’s screen to the observer’s central point of view. With any screen output, the observable images of things are projected from the screen to the observer’s central point of view, and those projected images are animated over a sequence of events. Each event on the observer’s world-line is another screen output. These events arise in the flow of energy that characterizes the observer’s accelerated frame of reference.

To be clear about things, energy and information are the same thing. Information is what energy looks like when observed at an instant of time. Each coherently organized form of information is composed of bits of information, and those forms of information are animated over a sequence of events. Energy is what a form of information looks like when that form is animated in the course of time. Information is a static concept while energy is a dynamic concept.

The equivalence of energy and information has a deep connection in quantum theory and in the way quantum theory is unified with relativity theory. When we speak of bits of information encoded on a holographic screen, we’re speaking about the quantized bits of information that define everything in an observer’s world. The observer’s holographic screen is characterized by a quantum state of potentiality describing all possible ways bits of information can become encoded on the screen. This quantum state of potentiality defines everything the observer can possibly observe in its world. We can think of this quantum state of potentiality as a sum over all possible configuration states of information, where a configuration state specifies a specific configuration in the way bits of information are encoded on the screen. A screen output must chose a specific configuration state from the quantum state when the observation of anything is observed. In quantum theory, this observational choice is called a quantum state reduction.

Quantum theory tells us that the observation of any observable thing by an observer implies an observer-observation-observable relationship, while each observation implies a choice as the quantum state of potentiality is reduced to an actual configuration state of information. In this sense, each screen output is a choice.

Decision point

Every quantum state reduction that defines events in the observer’s world is a choice, which occurs at a decision point on the observer’s world-line. At every decision point, the observer has a choice to make about what to observe in its world and which path to follow. Physicists have arbitrarily assumed that all choices are made randomly, in an unbiased way, but this assumption is only made since physicists want the laws of physics to have predictability. If choices are made in a biased way, then the laws of physics lose their predictability, and all bets are off, so to speak.

It is instructive to examine how choice operates in quantum theory. The quantum state can always be formalized as a sum over all possible paths that connect two points in some configuration space. For example, a configuration space could be a space-time geometry, and then a path would be a world-line followed by an observer. In this sum over all paths formulation of the quantum state, we are instructed to sum over all possible paths in the configuration space, and then weight each path with a probability factor called the wave-function, ψ=exp(iθ), where the phase angle θ is given in terms of the action S as θ=S/ћ.

Sum over all paths

Sum over all paths image from Penrose

The action is specified in terms of the geometrical length of a path that connects two points. For example, for a world-line the action is specified by the proper-time, τ=∫ds, where ds2=gμνdxμdxν, and where gμν is the space-time metric. This is the case if there are 3+1 extended dimensions of space-time, but is also valid in the sense of the Kaluza-Klein mechanism if there are extra compactified dimensions of space, in which case the metric not only represents the force of gravity, but also represents all the gauge forces, including the electromagnetic force and the strong and weak nuclear forces. In a non-commutative geometry, the Kaluza-Klein mechanism not only generates all the gauge fields, but also generates the Higgs fields. When super-symmetry is added to the mix, boson and fermion fields are both generated. With a cosmological constant, the metric also represents the force of dark energy. The metric is the natural way to unify all the fundamental forces and to specify the action principle. In this sense, all the fundamental forces are represented by fields that are components of the space-time metric, which gives a measure of the distance along some path between two points in the geometry.

The natural result of specifying the probability of measurement with a wave-function ψ=exp(iθ), where the phase angle θ depends on the length of the path, is an interference pattern, as seen in the double slit experiment. When the probability waves are out of phase with each other, the wave amplitudes cancel out, and the probability of measurement is low. When the probability waves are in phase with each other, the wave amplitudes add together, and the probability of measurement is high. This wave addition and cancellation results in the interference pattern.

double slit1

Double slit experiment image-wave aspect

The net result of wave addition and cancellation in the sum over all paths is the principle of least action. 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. The reason the shortest distance is not always a straight line has to do with the nature of geometrical curvature in the configuration space, like a curved space-time geometry. The shortest distance between two points in a curved geometry may not be a straight line, but like the path of a geodesic or great circle on the surface of a sphere.

This explains the so-called wave-particle duality of quantum theory. When we measure a particle at some position in space at some moment of time, that measurement is a choice in the sense of a quantum state reduction. The interference pattern that results from the probability wave addition and cancellation that occurs when we sum up all the possible paths of the particle as it follows some possible trajectory through space over time only specifies the quantum probability of the particle’s measurement.

double slit

Double slit experiment image-particle aspect

The measurement of a particle is defined at some position in space at some moment in time. The quantization of space-time geometry only restricts these measurements to a finite number of possibilities in any finite region of space. This restriction to a finite number of possibilities is what the covariant entropy bound is all about.

The space-time metric represents fundamental forces in terms of effective field theories that are only thermodynamic equations of state, but give rise to all particle excitations in space as localized excitations of field energy. This is just like the wave equation for sound waves. A photon is really no different than a phonon, except the oscillating medium is not air molecules in space but bits of information on a bounding surface of space. Field variables for particles are not quantum variables with a range of validity down to the Planck scale anymore than field variables for sound waves. The only valid quantum variables at the Planck scale are non-commuting variables defined on a bounding surface of space.

The holographic principle is a duality even more fundamental than the wave-particle duality, as it relates particles in space to non-commuting variables on a bounding surface. When we measure a particle at some position in space at some moment of time, that measurement is like the projection of an image of the particle from a holographic screen to the point of view of an observer. The particle has an image in the precise sense that its position in space is fuzzy or smeared out due to the pixelated way bits of information are encoded on the holographic screen.

Black hole projection

Black hole projection image from Susskind

Laws of physics are always expressed in terms of an action principle. Once we express S, we express the laws of physics, but the laws of physics only enter into the quantum state in terms of a probability factor ψ that gives weight to every possible path in the sum over all paths. The most likely path in the sense of quantum probability is the path of least action. Relativity theory tells us the path of least action is like the shortest distance between two points in a curved space-time geometry, which is how we understand all of classical physics. The path of least action gives the maximal quantum probability, but this maximal likelihood is only meaningful if choices are made in an unbiased way.

What exactly do the probability factors specify? They give the probability for measurement. The sum over all paths formulation of quantum theory tells us each path is weighted with a probability factor called the wave-function ψ, and each measurement chooses a specific path through the configuration space. The quantum state is like a probability distribution of possible measurable states, and the wave-function ψ specifies the quantum probability of measurement of each possible measurable state. The quantum state is like a probability distribution measured through a process of choice or quantum state reduction, but if the choices are made in a biased way, the measurements are also biased.

The problem is this process of measurement is only meaningful if choices are made in an unbiased way. The probability distribution is only accurately measured if the choices are unbiased. If there is bias in the way measurements are made, then all bets are off, and the whole concept of quantum probability loses meaning. If there is bias in the way choices are made, the laws of physics as specified by an action principle lose their predictability.

This is a huge problem in the formulation of quantum theory. Every law of physics is formulated by an action principle, where action is a measure of geometrical length of some path that connects two points in some configuration space. The quantum state is formulated as a sum over all possible paths in that configuration space, and each path is weighted with a probability factor called the wave-function that depends on the action or geometrical length of that path.

Quantum theory tells us the probability factors act like waves. The quantum state is a sum over all probability factors that correspond to all possible paths. In that sum, probability waves tend to cancel out when they are out of phase, but add together when they are in phase. This wave addition and cancellation gives rise to an interference pattern, like we see in the double slit experiment. The path of maximal wave reinforcement gives rise to the path of least action, which is the path that gives the maximum quantum probability.

This is easiest to see in the complex plane, where the probability factors act like vectors defined on the unit circle, z=exp(iθ)=x+iy, where x=cosθ and y=sinθ. Since these unit vectors are oriented relative to the x-axis with a phase angle θ, they tend to cancel out when they point in uncorrelated directions, but tend to add together when they align together or point in correlated directions. The principle of least action follows from the fact the maximum correlation occurs at a stationary point, which corresponds to minimizing the action. This gives the maximum likelihood for measurement, but only if choices are made randomly, in an unbiased way.

Principle of least action

Principle of least action image from Penrose

The most likely path in the sense of quantum probability is the path of least action, since this path has the maximal amount of wave reinforcement. The path of least action is like the shortest distance between two points in the configuration space, and so this concept of quantum probability makes perfectly good sense.

The problem is this concept of quantum probability only makes sense if measurements are made in an unbiased way. Since each measurement is a choice, this means the whole concept of measurement is only meaningful if choices are made in an unbiased way. If choices are made in a biased way, then all bets are off, and the laws of physics lose their predictability. This is a humongous problem in the formulation of quantum theory, since there is nothing in the laws of physics that rules out a biased process of choice, except for the desire of physicists that the laws of physics have predictability.

What if there is bias in the way choices are made? The all bets are off, and the laws of physics lose their predictability. Physicists don’t like that idea, and so they’ve arbitrarily assumed only random choice is operative, but each of us knows that is not the way the world really works. Each of us is biased to choose what we like and to avoid what we don’t like. This ability to choose what we like and avoid what we don’t like is the nature of our volition, or free will.

In order to examine this fatal flaw in the formulation of quantum theory, we need to examine how choices are really made. The answer is everyone is inherently biased to choose what they like and not to choose what they don’t like. Each of us knows we have a bias to choose what we like and to avoid what we don’t like. Even physicists choose what they like when they assume an unbiased process of choice so that their precious laws of physics have predictability. The problem we have is to understand how everyone is inherently biased to choose what they like and not to choose what they don’t like.

How are choices really made? The only possible answer is choices are made as the focus of attention of consciousness is focused on something. An observer chooses what it observes in its world with its focus of attention on that thing in its world. This makes perfectly good sense, since an observer is a focal point of consciousness. A focal point of consciousness is always at the central point of view of its own world, and that world is always defined on a holographic screen surrounding the central focal point. The observer expresses it volition or free will as it focuses its attention on something in its world.

There are two mysteries about the nature of consciousness that this explanation helps us understand. The first mystery is about how choices are made, which is the nature of free will. The answer is an observer chooses what it observes in its world with its focus of attention on that world. The observer is always free to shift the focus of its attention into a different direction and observe something different, thereby expressing its free will.

eternal observer

The second mystery is about how meaning is given to observations. The observation of anything occurs in a screen output, but the nature of that thing is only a coherently organized form of information defined on the screen in terms of bits of information encoded on the screen. Forms of information are composed of bits of information encoded in a binary code of 1’s and 0’s.

horizon information

How does a presence of consciousness give meaning to the forms of information it observes? The simple answer is all meaning is given in an energetic context, and this energetic context implies the expenditure of energy. The expenditure of energy is how a form of information is animated over a sequence of events, and only that animation of form creates the context within which the observer gives meaning to the form.

In emotional terms, or the animation of a body, the expenditure of energy creates the emotional context within which meaning is given. As is well known from the study of emotions, all meaning is given in an emotional context. The expression of emotion is the expenditure of energy that animates the form of a body. Without this emotional expenditure of energy that animates the form of a body, meaning cannot be given to any form of information. Only the observer can give meaning to the forms of information it perceives, but that meaning can only be given in an emotional context.

This connection between observation, action and meaning can be stated as “to act is to give meaning”, but the flip side of this statement is “actions arise with the meaning given to observations”. In other words, “to see it is to do it”. There is no doing without seeing. In other words, it is impossible to separate observation from action. What connects them is meaning. What is the value of an explanation, if that expressed explanation cannot be understood? Action expresses the explanation, and observation understands it. Understanding, or meaning, always arises in an energetic context.

It helps to give a simple example. When we observe blue light, we are observing light waves at a particular frequency in the spectrum of light. Quantum theory tells us the energy of light waves at this particular frequency is quantized as E=hf. The meaning “blue” that we give to our observation of light waves at this frequency occurs in this particular energetic context. The emotional meaning that an observer gives to the energetic actions of its body is far more complex, due to the complexity with which the flow of energy is organized as emotional energy flows through a body to animate the behaviors of that body and to allow for self-replication of its form, but the general principle is the same.

The solution to these two mysteries leads to an odd kind of emotional feedback loop. An observer chooses what it observes in its world with its focus of attention on that world, but the meaning it gives to those observations always occurs in an emotional context as energy is expended to animate a form of information in that world. In a peculiar way, this emotional feedback loop directs the focus of attention of an observer on its world.

When we speak of an animated form of information in the observer’s world, we are speaking about a coherently organized form of information displayed on the observer’s holographic screen and self-replicated in form over a sequence of events. Each event is like a screen output.

Some of these observations are external sensory perceptions of the observer’s world, which includes perceptions of the animated form of the observer’s body, and some of these observations are internal perceptions that arise in mental imagination, like the perception of memories, emotions, thoughts, and other mentally constructed forms of information. The holographic principle tells us that there is really no difference in the nature of these external and internal perceptions, since all of these animated forms of information are displayed on the observer’s holographic screen. The observer is only a focal point of consciousness at the central point of view of its holographic screen.

Whether the observed form of information is an external or internal perception, the observer can only give meaning to its perception in an emotional context. This gives rise to an emotional feedback loop that directs the observer’s focus of attention.

How can this emotional feedback loop direct the focus of attention of a presence of consciousness? There are two important ways this direction can occur. The first has to do with the alignment of the flow of energy. When the flow of energy comes into alignment, feelings of connection are perceived, but when the flow of energy goes out of alignment, feelings of disconnection are perceived. Since feelings of connection feel “good” while feelings of disconnection feel “bad”, the observer is naturally biased to choose feelings of connection.

This bias to feel “good” naturally directs the focus of attention of the observer on its world in such a way as to keep the flow of energy through its world in alignment, thereby resulting in feelings of connection, which is the normal way in which the emotional feedback loop operates. This state of affairs is normal since the natural way for energy to flow through the world when choices are made in an unbiased way is for the flow of energy to come into alignment.

This natural alignment of the flow of energy is a consequence of the principle of least action. Quantum theory tells us that as long as choices are made in a unbiased way, the motion of all things tends to follow the path of least action, and in the process, the flow of energy through all things tends to come into alignment.

The other way to understand the alignment of the flow of energy is in terms of the alignment of information. Bits of information encoded on a holographic screen are like spin variables that can only point up or down, but since these spin variables are entangled with each other like the eigenvalues of a matrix, they tend to align together over the course of time, which is only a sequence of screen outputs. The flow of energy tends to come into alignment as the bits of information align together.

entangle2

Entangled spin state image

The normal flow of energy can be understood in terms of the alignment of the flow of energy and the principle of least action, or in terms of the alignment of information and the entanglement of information. Entanglement is operative over all of space. Events that apparently occur on opposite sides of the universe are related if the information for those events is entangled. Not as well appreciated is that entanglement is also operative over all of time. Events that apparently occur at the beginning of the universe are related to events now if the information for those events is entangled. In some sense, this means that everything occurs “here and now”.

As long as an observer makes its choices in its world by choosing feelings of connection, the flow of energy through its world tends to remain in alignment, which is the normal way for energy to flow through its world. This alignment naturally arises when the observer no longer interferes with the normal flow of energy through its world. This kind of unbiased choice naturally leads to the “best of all possible worlds”.

Problems can only arise in the observer’s world when the observer becomes biased to choose feelings of disconnection, and the flow of energy goes out of alignment. Since these feelings of disconnection feel “bad”, why would the observer ever become biased to choose feelings of disconnection?

The answer to this question is called self-identification. Whenever an observer identifies itself with an animated form of information it perceives in its world, it naturally becomes biased to defend the survival of that form as though its existence depends on it. The survival of a form of information is only the self-replication of that animated form over a sequence of screen outputs, while the observer is nothing more than the consciousness present at the central point of view of its holographic screen, to which those animated images are projected with each screen output.

Self-defensive emotional expressions naturally arise out of self-identification with form and result in self-limiting feelings of disconnection. The self-defensive expressions that arise out of self-identification with a form of information always interfere with the normal flow of things, and thereby lead to self-limited feelings of disconnection. A presence of consciousness only focuses its attention on these self-defensive expressions due to its mistaken assumption that its existence depends on the survival of that form, which is the meaning it gives to its observations.

The expression of fear is only a self-defensive mechanism inherent in the way a life-form is coherently organized allowing for its self-replication. The expression of fear by a life-form is the way emotional energy flows through the life-form to defend its survival, which is a normal response to a threat to survival. The only real problem with the expression of fear is fear becomes amplified and distorted in vicious cycles of self-defensiveness when imaginary threats to survival are created in mental imagination. Each imaginary threat triggers another expression of fear, which leads to more threats created in mental imagination. As fear is expressed, the presence of consciousness that perceives the whole thing feels self-limited to the fear-expressing life-form, identifies itself with the life-form with an assumption that its existence depends on the survival of the life-form, and therefore focuses its attention on self-defense, which leads to the creation of more imaginary threats to survival in mental imagination. This is a fear spiral, which amplifies and distorts the normal expression of fear like an out-of-control positive feedback loop, and reinforces the self-identification of the presence of consciousness with the fear-expressing life-form.

As a presence of consciousness identifies itself with the form of its body, it naturally feels compelled to defend the survival of its body as though its existence depends on it, and so that is where its attention is focused. This kind of emotional feedback loop is established because the observer really feels self-limited to the form of its body as it perceives the self-defensive emotions expressed by its body that defend the survival of its body.

This creates a vicious cycle that hinges on the meaning an observer gives to its observations. As more self-defensive emotions are expressed, the more an observer feels self-limited to the form of its body. The more an observer identifies itself with the form of its body, the more it feels compelled to defend the survival of its body as though its existence depends on it.

This self-defensive way of expending energy creates the emotional context within which a presence of consciousness identifies itself with the form of its body. This self-identified way of giving meaning in an emotional context directs the focus of attention of a presence of consciousness on its world, which is a self-limited way of perceiving that world, as the observer identifies itself with the animated form of its body in that world.

In the Allegory of the Cave, Plato refers to such a self-identified observer as a prisoner, since that observer really feels self-limited to the form of its body. Plato also discusses the nature of liberation that occurs when a presence of consciousness no longer identifies itself with the form of its body. Plato describes this freedom in the sense of the ascension of consciousness to a higher level, which thanks to the holographic principle, we’re able to understand as a higher dimension, like an observer out in the audience watching a movie that plays on a screen.

Plato's cave

An observer expresses its free will with its focus of attention. The observer is always free to redirect its focus of attention and make different choices. To the extent that bias arises in the way choices are made, that bias is the nature of individual volition. This bias is always emotional in nature, such as the self-defensive bias to defend the survival of one’s body. The expression of an emotional bias is always an interference with the normal flow of energy that animates the behavior of all things in the observer’s world, including the observer’s body.

It’s worth pointing out something about the expression of emotionally biased individual volition: its futility. Every biased expression of individual volition is an act of futility that interferes with the normal flow of things by creating a localized disturbance in the normal flow of things. This disturbance is always localized in space and time. The normal flow of things arises with the universal expression of dark energy, which is operative over all of space and time. The normal flow of energy through the universe is like the flow of a great river, and the biased expression of individual volition is always an act of futility, like trying to alter the course of the river by throwing a rock at it. The course of the river will not change with such a puny act, only some minor ripples or vortices are created in its flow. The best one can ever “do” is to bring oneself into alignment with the normal flow of things, stop creating one’s own disturbances, and avoid the disturbances created by others.

The principle of least action tells us that when choices are made in an unbiased way, the motion of all things tends to follow the path of least action and the flow of energy tends to come into alignment. This alignment is the natural way for energy to flow through the observer’s world. As long as there is no emotional bias in the way choices are made, the flow of energy tends to come into alignment, which is the natural way for energy to flow through the observer’s world and to animate the behavior of all things, including the behavior of the observer’s body.

Everything one can “do” in the sense of individual volition is biased and an interference with the normal flow of things. Biased behavior always expresses an emotional bias. When one no longer interferes with the normal flow of things, one “does nothing” in the sense of individual volition, and one no longer expresses any emotional bias. When one is “non-doing” and “non-interfering”, one allows actions to play out in the normal way and the flow of energy through all things to come into alignment, which is the normal way for energy to flow through all things in the observer’s world, including the observer’s body.

When one is “doing” and “interfering”, the flow of energy through the observer’s body is out of alignment with the normal flow of things, which is the nature of individual volition. With the expression of individual volition, the observer feels self-limited to the form of its body. In the emotional context of these self-limited feelings, the observer identifies itself with the form of its body, and out of that self-identification, the observer expresses its self-defensive emotional bias with its biased focus of attention.

What is the consequence of “doing”, “interfering”, and expressing emotionally biased individual volition? Wherever we look in the world of frenetic human behavior and activity, we see the fear of non-existence and the insanity of self-identification and self-defense express itself in destructive ways. This insanity is Maya, the illusion of self-identification arising from the emotional intelligence of fear, run amok.

On the other hand, the alignment of the flow of energy arising in a state of “non-doing” and “non-interfering” expresses itself in constructive ways. This is the difference between love and hate; the difference between creation and destruction.

At the root of all hatred and destructive behavior is the irrational fear of non-existence, based on the mistaken self-identification of an observer with an observable form of information it perceives in its world, as though consciousness could stop existing.

Ironically, if the nature of a self-concept arising with the irrational fear of non-existence is seen, this same energy can energize a self-destructive process that deconstructs the self-concept. In the sense of spirituality, this self-destructive process leads to awakening from the dream of self-identification, a process that goes forward as one no longer identifies oneself with a self-concept. This awakening process can only begin if one looks within and examines one’s own mentally constructed self-concept, and if one becomes aware of one’s own sense of “being present” as a presence of consciousness that perceives but mistakenly identifies itself with that self-concept.

The self-concept is finally deconstructed when self-defensive energy is no longer expended. This happens naturally when a presence of consciousness finally realizes the true nature of its existence cannot stop existing, and needs no self-defense.

Can consciousness stop existing? To answer this question, it is necessary to examine the nature of both perceiving consciousness and the Source of perceiving consciousness. The holographic principle tells us an observer is only a focal point of consciousness present at the central point of view of a holographic screen. In this sense, an observer is a presence of consciousness. The observer’s world is defined on its holographic screen. Everything the observer can possibly observe in its world is like an image displayed on the screen and projected to the observer’s point of view.

What can this state of affairs tell us about the nature of the observer’s underlying reality? Can the observer’s underlying reality or the Source of perceiving consciousness really stop existing? If not, then how can we describe this ultimate underlying reality?

there is no spoon

The best way to investigate the nature of this underlying reality is to examine the reality of the observer’s world. The holographic principle tells us that the consensual reality shared by many observers is like an interactive computer network generated virtual reality world displayed on multiple computer screens and observed by many observers. Each observer observes its own world on its own holographic screen, but those screens overlap and share information. The interactive nature of the consensual reality arises from information sharing. The complexity of this kind of interactive virtual reality world in no way makes it any more real than the perception of animated images projected from a digital computer screen to the point of view of an observer.

Each observer’s world also shares in the normal flow of energy that energizes the entire network of screens. The consensual reality shared by many observers can share information to the degree their screens overlap, but each observer’s holographic screen is ultimately defined by a cosmic horizon arising from the expenditure of dark energy that all the observers share together.

Again, the inherent complexity of this kind of interactive virtual reality world in no way makes it any more real than the perception of animated images projected from a digital computer screen to the central point of view of an observer.

What is ultimately real? Is the observer real? If the observer isn’t real, does the observer have an underlying reality? What is left or remains when the observer’s world disappears?

How can the observer’s world disappear? The thing to be clear about is the observer’s world can only appear from the central point of view of the observer. The observer’s world only appears when the observer expends energy and enters into an accelerated frame of reference, since that is the only way an event horizon arises that surrounds the observer at the central point of view and acts as a holographic screen.

If the observer does not enter into an accelerated frame of reference and expend energy, then no event horizon arises and the observer has no holographic screen that surrounds itself and defines everything in its world. If no energy is expended, then no information is encoded and the observer’s world must disappear.

What is left when the observer’s world disappears? The observer’s world is no more real than images of a virtual reality world displayed on a computer screen. What is the nature of the underlying reality that is left when energy is no longer expended, information is no longer encoded, the screen is no longer constructed, and the observer’s world disappears?

Atman Brahman

What is the nature of this underlying reality? There are many names for it, but one of its names is the “nameless”, since it cannot be conceptualized. Even when given a name, the name implies negation, since it cannot really be named. It is sometimes called the void, empty space, nothingness, no-self, non-dual awareness, or Brahmanic consciousness. Probably the best name for it is undifferentiated consciousness. In physical terms there is nothing in it, which is why it is called the void or empty space. Since it is the source of consciousness and the source of information and energy, it is also called the Source.

The hardest thing to understand about this underlying reality is that the Source of consciousness is undifferentiated consciousness. The kind of consciousness that is characteristic of an observer and its world is a differentiated kind of consciousness, which can be called Atmanic consciousness. This critical distinction between the differentiated Atmanic consciousness of an observer and its observable world and the undifferentiated Brahmanic consciousness of the Source is the essence of the Advaita tradition of Shankara.

This differentiation of a focal point of consciousness from the “void of undifferentiated consciousness” occurs at a focal point, which is the central point of view of a holographic world defined on a bounding surface of space. The differentiation process is the energetic construction of that boundary. The relation of a differentiated focal point of consciousness to the totality of undifferentiated consciousness is the relation of a point to the totality of an infinite empty space.

To be clear about things, this infinite empty space is an “empty space of potentiality”. The nature of this “space” is not defined by the boundary or by the bounded space that arises inside the boundary. The bounding surface of space is a holographic screen that projects an observable space-time geometry to the central point of view of the observer.

This observable space-time geometry is defined by properties like dimensionality and curvature, but these properties arise from the nature of the boundary, which is an event horizon that arises in an accelerated frame of reference. This frame of reference arises with the expenditure of dark energy and the exponential expansion of space, which generates all symmetries of space arising in the space bounded by a cosmic horizon. Positive dark energy is exactly balanced out by negative gravitational energy. The expenditure of other forms of energy besides dark energy and gravitational energy, like electromagnetic energy, only arises through a process of symmetry breaking.

The accelerated reference frame arising as energy is expended characterizes the nature of the event horizon and the observer’s world, but does not in any way characterize the empty space of potentiality within which the boundary arises. This empty space of potentiality cannot be characterized in terms of a dimensionality, curvature, or any other physical properties. It is the source of all dimensions and physical laws.

What about a “theory of everything”. The simple answer is there is no such thing, nor is there something of all encompassing “sacred geometry”. A theory of everything is just another thing that a theory of everything must explain, which can only lead us down the road to absurdity. There is “No theory of Nothing”, which is to say there is no theory of consciousness or its Source. Even the holographic principle and non-commutative geometry are not really theories, but only mechanisms; a means to an end. Maybe there are other mechanisms that explain the facts of existence better than these mechanisms, but at the present time, these are the best mechanisms we’ve got. These mechanisms construct the framework within which all possible theories must be constructed. Even this framework only arises as the symmetries of space that characterize any possible world arise with the expansion of space as dark energy is expended.

The laws of physics that govern a world arise from the symmetries of space and the way those symmetries are broken. These symmetries are inherent in the way space expands as dark energy is expended. The “empty space of potentiality” that we call the void is the source of all these symmetries, but in and of itself cannot by characterized by these symmetries. It is the potentiality to express all possible symmetries that can characterize any possible world. Maybe our world is characterized by a sacred geometry, but other possible dimensionalities may not be. It all depends on how the symmetries of space are expressed with the expansion of space as dark energy is expended.

Why does space expand in the first place? Why is dark energy expended? The only possible answer is this is how the “empty space of potentiality” that gives rise to the expansion of space expresses itself. This is how it expresses its power. The “bending of space” that arises with the expansion of space is how it “flexes its muscles”. It expresses its power because it can, and because it “feels good” to do so. At the end of the day, the expression of its power is only about the manifestation and fulfillment of its expressed desires.

The empty space of potentiality is the source of all dimensions, the source of all physical laws, the source of all space-time geometries, the source of all reference frames, the source of all energy, and the source of all information. The holographic principle explains how all these things arise in an accelerated frame of reference as energy is expended and the boundary of an event horizon arises. This boundary characterizes every aspect of the world bounded by that boundary, including its projected space-time geometry, but tells us nothing about the nature of the empty space of potentiality within which the boundary arises.

Another way to understand the nature of this empty space of potentiality is as a “void of undifferentiated consciousness”. As energy is expended in an accelerated reference frame and the boundary of an event horizon arises, a focal point of consciousness at the central point of view is differentiated from undifferentiated consciousness. The differentiation process is the construction of this boundary within empty space, which requires the expenditure of energy. Empty space itself is the source of this energy, which we call dark energy and understand as the exponential expansion of space. In this sense, the expansion of space is the expansion of consciousness, which is always expanding as long as the observer at the central point of view of the boundary has a world to observe.

The expenditure of energy causes a boundary to arise that surrounds the central focal point, which is the nature of the differentiation process. The construction of the boundary and the encoding of information on that boundary for an observer’s world can only occur when energy is expended, which we understand as the accelerated expansion of space.

In place of the laws of physics, some theoretical physicists would like the holographic principle to be the most fundamental thing, but it is not. The most fundamental thing is the No-thing, which is the primordial empty space of potentiality. It is the One-thing, since its nature is undifferentiated consciousness. It is the Infinite-thing, since it is the Source of all possible things. “It Is”, since it is the primordial, timeless nature of existence. All possible things can only appear to temporarily come into existence when energy is expended, space appears to expand, and bits of information are encoded on a holographic screen surrounding an observer’s central focal point.

There is another scientific argument which demonstrates the nature of ultimate reality. Ultimate reality is invariant, which means it is the same for all observers. The holographic principle, the nature of an observer-dependent comic horizon, and the one-world-per-observer paradigm demonstrate that everything in the observer’s world is radically observer-dependent. Everything observable in the observer’s world depends on how the observer’s holographic screen arises (as an observation-limiting event horizon arises in the observer’s accelerated frame of reference as energy is expended) and how bits of information are encoded on the observer’s holographic screen. Although different observers can share a consensual reality in the sense of information sharing, like the kind of information sharing that occurs in a computer network, each observer makes its own unique observations in its own world as displayed on its own holographic screen, and the observations of different observers will never be in total agreement. In other words, nothing observable can ultimately be real and the same for all observers.

To say ultimate reality is invariant and the same for all observers is to say that ultimate reality is unchanging. Ultimate reality does not change with a change in the observer’s frame of reference, which is to say ultimate reality is observer independent. Ultimate reality does not depend on how energy is expended in any observer’s frame of reference or how information is encoded on any observer’s holographic screen. The unchanging nature of ultimate reality means it cannot be any observable thing that any observer can possibly observe.

How can nothing observable be ultimately real? The answer is the only thing that is invariant and the same for all observers is the Source of all observers. Each observer is a differentiated focal point of consciousness that arises in relation to a holographic screen. The One Source of all observers can only be a “void of undifferentiated consciousness”. Ultimate reality is this infinite nothingness.

The nature of an observer and its world is a constructed reality, which is to say it is a bounded reality. The boundary only arises and bits of information are only encoded on the boundary when energy is expended. Forms of information are only organized, animated and projected to the observer’s point of view when energy is expended.

The observer’s world can only appear when energy is expended and a boundary arises. When energy is no longer expended, there is no longer a boundary, information is no longer encoded, and the observer’s world must disappear. Disappearance of the observer’s world always occurs relative to the central point of view of the observer.

What happens to the observer when the observer’s world disappears? What happens to this differentiated focal point of consciousness? The answer is the observer’s consciousness is no longer differentiated from undifferentiated consciousness. The differentiated consciousness of the observer rejoins undifferentiated consciousness. This is often described as a dissolution, like a drop of water that dissolves back into the ocean. In the Tao this is referred to as “returning”, and in many religions as a “reunion”. This dissolution into undifferentiated consciousness is usually referred to as truth-realization, and is the nature of the experience of Nirvana.

Truth-realization is only about the direct experience of the ultimate nature of existence; that which cannot stop existing. Ultimate reality is only describable in negative terms: as void, nothingness, or undifferentiated consciousness. Unlike everything in the manifested world that is animated by the flow of energy, this unmanifested underlying reality is not animated, and so it can also be called pure timeless or absolute being. It is timeless being since it is not animated and cannot stop existing. Since it is not-a-thing, we can say that ultimately “nothing exists”, which is the same as to say ultimately only “undifferentiated consciousness exists”. The ultimate nature of existence is this “nothingness”.

This unmanifested underlying reality is what remains when the untruth of an observer and its world disappears from existence. It is not that the differentiated consciousness of an observer stops existing, but timelessly exists as undifferentiated consciousness.

We might be tempted to say that with truth-realization, the observer has the direct experience of this “nothingness”, but that is not correct. With truth-realization, the differentiated consciousness of the observer “dissolves” back into undifferentiated consciousness, and so the “nothingness” has the direct experience of its true nature.

Something remarkable happens after truth-realization, which Plato calls ascension. After truth-realization, an observer observes its world again, but always from a higher level of consciousness, which is like a higher dimension. Ascension is often described in terms of an observer that observes the animated images of its world on a two dimensional screen from a higher dimension outside the screen. It is as though the observer has come out of its world, but it never really was in its world in the first place. There was only an illusion that the observer was a part of that world. That illusion is the nature of self-identification.

The observer is always present at a focal point of consciousness at the center of its world, while the animated images of that world are projected from a surrounding holographic screen to the observer. If the observer identifies itself with the form of an image that appears in its world, it seems as though the observer is a part of that world. This illusion comes to an end when the observer ascends to a higher level of consciousness and sees that these images are only projected to the observer as they are displayed on a screen, and that this projection process can only occur as the observer expends its own energy.

There is another aspect of truth-realization called enlightenment. The “light of consciousness” is what “illuminates” the holographic screen and allows the images of things in the observer’s world to become projected from the screen to the central point of view of the observer. The observer’s world is only a hologram, and the light of consciousness illuminates the hologram. Just like the illumination of the images of a movie on a screen, the projection of the images of things is like the reflection of the light of consciousness off the screen to the observer’s point of view. In a very real sense, it is the observer’s own light of consciousness that is reflected off the screen.

A truth-realized observer can turn its world on and off like a child flicking a light switch, but a better analogy is turning off the power to a computer screen. The observer can turn off the expenditure of energy that constructs a boundary on which its world is displayed. When that expenditure of energy is turned off, the observer’s world disappears and the observer’s differentiated consciousness rejoins undifferentiated consciousness.

When energy is no longer expended, the observer is no longer in an accelerated frame of reference, the observer’s holographic screen is no longer constructed, the observer’s world disappears, and the observer is no longer present for that world. In relativity theory, we call a non-accelerated frame of reference a freely falling frame of reference, which expends no energy. In this sense, a truth-realized observer can enter into an “ultimate freely falling frame of reference” at will, and turn its world off. A description common to all experiences of truth-realization is “falling into the void”.

In some sense, the fear of non-being is the emotional barrier that separates the self-identified state of being from the ultimate state of being, like a potential barrier separating a false vacuum state from the true vacuum state. This potential or emotional barrier is the only thing that stops one from “freely falling into the void”. In the same sense, the expression of the emotional energy of this fear of non-being is the energy that animates one’s self-concept.

The expenditure of energy creates the emotional context within which the observer gives meaning to all the forms of information it perceives in its world. All worldly knowledge is a form of information, but meaning can only be given to knowledge in an emotional context. In the process of expressing self-limiting emotions and identifying itself with a form of information in its world, the observer gives meaning to self-limiting emotional expressions that create the emotional context. The observer expresses emotions as it expends energy, and then gives meaning to its emotional expressions as they create the emotional context. Without that emotional context, all forms of self-knowledge become meaningless, and the observer becomes “knowledgeless”. A truth-realized observer “knows nothing” about itself, except for the timeless nature of its existence.

Without the expression of self-limiting emotions, no meaning can be given to the forms of information inherent in the observer’s self-concept. Without the expenditure of energy that constructs a boundary on which these forms of information are displayed, there is nothing to know. A truth-realized observer has shifted its attention right to the edge of the precipice separating the existence of its world from the void and the non-existence of its world.

A truth-realized observer “sees everything” in its world, since its consciousness is ascended, but ultimately “knows nothing”, since its consciousness is ultimately unbounded. The only true thing that a truth-realized observer can ever know about itself is “I Am”.

What am I

The only true thing a truth-realized observer can ever know about itself is “I Am”, but in an ultimate state of dissolution with its Source of undifferentiated consciousness, even this is not true. In a state of dissolution, “I am not”, which is the ultimate negation.

Who I am not

In an ultimate state of dissolution, only “The Source Is”. The paradoxical nature of this ultimate state of being, of “being nothing”, is often expressed as “I Am the Source”.

All perceivable states of the world are states of consciousness. The ultimate state of being is not a state of the world or a state of consciousness. In the ultimate state of being, there is no world and there is no presence of consciousness present to perceive that world. This ultimate state of being can only be described as the “experience of nothingness”.

What do these facts of existence tell us about the nature of individual existence? There is really no such thing. Individual existence is an illusion, much like a dream. The true nature of the Dreamer is One Consciousness; One Being. In its ultimate state, One Being is undifferentiated consciousness. In its differentiated state, One Being is fragmented into the many focal points of consciousness of many observers. Each observer has its own world with its own central character displayed on its own holographic screen, like a movie it is watching. Only an illusory consensual reality is shared by the observers. All illusory aspects of individual existence in that consensual reality arise from the observer’s character in the animation. All aspects of individuality, such as individual thoughts, memories, emotions and expressions of personality, are illusory, since they belong to a dream character. If the differentiated consciousness of the observer awakens from its dream, the observer can only return to undifferentiated consciousness and rejoin One Being. The irony of awakening is one leaves the dualistic illusion of a world behind for the non-dualistic nothingness of the void.

The journey of awakening is about the expenditure of energy. One’s expression of emotion is one’s expenditure of energy, which is one’s life-force. The difference between the self-identified and non-identified states is the difference between conditional and unconditional love; the difference between expressing self-defensive energy and creative energy. If one expresses conditional love, one is attached and self-identified. If one expresses unconditional love, one is unattached and non-identified. In the first case, one feels self-limited and disconnected. In the second case, one feels connected. In the first case, one creates a disturbance in the normal flow of energy and identifies oneself with that disturbance. In the second case, one brings oneself into alignment with the normal flow of energy and doesn’t identify oneself. In the first case, one suffers from the illusion of self-identification as one identifies oneself with one’s character in the animation. In the second case, one is lucid since one knows one is only watching the animation.

Whatever one loves conditionally; whatever one attaches oneself to; whatever one tries to defend, control, hold onto, or identify oneself with, that thing is one’s obstruction, which prevents one from moving forward in the journey of awakening. The emotional energy one expends as one loves something conditionally is one’s life-defining purpose or one’s life-force.

Unconditional love is a natural consequence of the integrated state, which occurs naturally when the flow of energy comes into alignment. The experience of unconditional love reflects feelings of connection that arise as the flow of energy through one’s body, which animates one’s body, comes into alignment with the flow of energy through other things in one’s world. The primary experience of the integrated state are feelings on connectedness, but there is also the sense of right action, as the flow of energy comes into alignment, and natural expressions of creativity, since this is inherently the expression of creative energy.

The natural expression of unconditional love in the integrated state stands in stark contrast to the expression of conditional love in the self-identified state. Since the self-identified state is characterized by self-defensive expressions, the integrated state is only possible through surrender, as one gives up the desire to defend oneself and one’s self-defensive emotions are no longer expressed. This happens naturally when one clearly sees that one is not really defending oneself, but is only defending the survival of one’s character in the animation that one is watching. With surrender, one relinquishes the desire to control things. The nature of all expressions of conditional love is the desire to control things in order to have power over things or force things to act in a way that is to one’s liking, but the manifestation of desire works best when the desires of others are manifested while one’s own desires are manifested. That is the only way the flow of energy can come into alignment.

Expressions of conditional love are inherently counter-productive and conflicted. Conditional love expresses the desire to control things in order to force things to act in a way that is to one’s liking and to compel things to satisfy one’s desires, but this strategy is counter-productive, since nothing really wants to be controlled. All things express the desire to act freely, and eventually will resist and frustrate all efforts to control them. The more one tries to control things in order to force things to satisfy one’s desires, the more frustrated one becomes as those expressed desires are inevitably frustrated.

Even worse, conditional love expresses emotional conflict. The desire to control things is self-defensive, in the sense that one’s character is defended, but the desire to defend oneself is incompatible with the desire for love. Love is fundamentally incompatible with self-defensive expressions. Self-defensive expressions only give rise to self-limited feelings, but the experience of love is not a self-limited feeling. In its purest form, love is a feeling of connection. The experience of love is only possible with surrender, as the flow of energy through one’s body comes into alignment with the flow of energy through some other thing, and feelings of connection are perceived.

The only way love is ever experienced is with surrender. With surrender, self-defensive expressions come to an end. If one desires love while one also desires to defend oneself, one is only creating an emotional conflict, since one is creating self-limited feelings that conflict with feelings of connection. This emotional conflict has no possible resolution, since these are incompatible emotional experiences. One can either defend oneself or one can experience love, but one cannot experience both.

Conditional love always expresses the desire to hold onto things and attachment to things, while unconditional love expresses the willingness to let go of things and allow things to freely come and go. The expression of conditional love is also immature, like a dependent baby attached to its mother, while unconditional love expresses maturity and independence. The biggest contrast between conditional and unconditional love is whether one identifies oneself with one’s character in the animation one is watching. In the self-identified state, one identifies oneself with one’s character, while in the integrated state, one does not. In the integrated state, one naturally ascends to a higher level of consciousness and becomes lucid as one no longer identifies oneself with one’s character in the animation.

The integrated state only arises as a state of non-interference, as one no longer interferes with the normal flow of energy through one’s world that animates all things in one’s world. This state of non-interference is only possible if one stops expressing an emotional bias as one expresses self-defensive emotions. That is the only way the flow of energy can come into alignment. Although this is a state of non-interference, there is an active aspect to it that can be called higher navigation. One not only stops creating one’s own disturbances in the flow of energy, but one learns to see and follow clearly defined lines of flow that bring oneself into alignment, even as one avoids the disturbances created by others.

The integrated state is often confused with the ultimate state of truth-realization, but they are not the same state. Like the self-identified state, the integrated state depends on the expenditure of energy and the differentiation of consciousness, while the ultimate state does not. In the integrated state, one still has a world to observe and worldly experiences to experience. In the ultimate state, one does not. In the ultimate state, energy is no longer expended and there is nothing to know or feel. In the ultimate state, one’s world disappears and there are no worldly experiences to experience. In the ultimate state, one’s individual consciousness dissolves back into undifferentiated consciousness and one is no longer present for one’s world. After truth-realization, one observes one’s world again, but from an ascended state of consciousness, and the integrated state naturally follows.

One’s awakening from the dream of one’s self-identification with one’s character in one’s world can only go forward through a process of negation, surrender, detachment, and a shift in the focus of one’s attention away from one’s world and onto one’s own sense of being present. Negation is a deconstructive or dismantling process. One negates who one thinks one is. One negates all mentally constructed self-referential thoughts of the form “I am an embodied person who is emotionally related to other perceivable things I perceive in the world “.

The purpose of negation is to turn off self-referential thoughts, which are only turned off through surrender, as self-defensive energy is no longer expended. When one clearly sees the falseness of self-referential thoughts, one will naturally negate them, turn the focus of one’s attention away from them, and withdraw one’s investment of energy that energizes them. Only one’s expenditure of self-defensive energy can animate one’s self-referential thoughts that mentally construct one’s self-concept of being an embodied person emotionally related to other things in one’s world. If one turns off the expenditure of this self-defensive energy, if one stops interfering with the normal flow of things, then one’s self-referential thoughts are also turned off.

One negates one’s own self-referential thoughts because they are seen to be false. Self-referential thoughts are only like the self-referential narration of an animation displayed on a screen by the central character of the animation. The perceiver of the animation cannot be a perceivable person animated on the screen. The true nature of the perceiver is only a presence of consciousness, or a focal point of perception, that arises in relation to the mental screen on which all self-referential thoughts are constructed. The perceiver only feels self-limited to its character in the animation due to emotional expressions that relate the character to other things in a self-limiting way. The perceiver feels self-limited as it perceives self-limiting expressions. When these self-limiting expressions are no longer expressed, the perceiver no longer feels self-limited to the character.

Thoughts are still possible after self-referential thoughts are turned off, but they become a natural expression of creativity, such as problem solving. Constructive communications with others are still possible after self-referential thoughts are turned off, but thoughts become purely abstract, and even when referring to one’s character no longer refer to a personal sense of self.

As one shifts one’s focus of attention away from one’s world and brings oneself into focus, one withdraws the focus of one’s attention away from one’s world and withdraws the expenditure of self-defensive energy that animates the behaviors and self-referential thoughts of one’s character’s. One focuses on one’s own sense of being present as a presence of consciousness, which is what one is, as long as one perceives one’s world.

The detachment process leading to the awakening of consciousness occurs as one shifts the focus of one’s attention away from one’s world and focuses on one’s own sense of being present as the presence of consciousness perceiving that world. As one withdraws the focus of one’ attention away from one’s world, one withdraws one’s investment of self-defensive emotional energy that animates the self-defensive behaviors and thoughts of one’s character in that world.

As one surrenders, one turns one’s focus of attention away from one’s world, away from concerns about the welfare of one’s character, and one stops trying to defend the survival of one’s character. As one brings oneself into focus as a presence of consciousness, one detaches oneself from one’s world and de-identifies oneself from one’s character. One knows oneself only as a presence of consciousness outside one’s world, perceiving that world like an observer out in the audience only watching a movie animated on a screen.

The goal of negation, surrender, and the shift in the focus of one’s attention is to detach oneself from one’s character in one’s world. The problem of one’s self-identification with one’s character only becomes a real problem if one becomes attached to things, and if one tries to hold onto things, control things, and defend things. One can only free oneself from things in one’s world with one’s willingness to surrender, give up the desire to defend or control things, let go, and detach oneself from things. In this detached state, one lets things play out in the normal way as one observes things with the sense of being outside of things, like a detached observer watching a movie. In the sense of surrender, one brings oneself into alignment with the normal flow of things as one puts one’s trust in the normal flow of things to sort out what is for the best.

To reach the ultimate state of being requires one to go further than surrender. One not only has to stop expending self-defensive energy; one has to stop expending all energy, including creative energy. As long as one has a life-defining purpose and expends the energy of one’s life-force, one cannot reach the ultimate state of being. The ultimate state of being is what remains when energy is no longer expended, the observer’s world disappears, the observer is no longer present for that world, and the observer’s differentiated focal point of consciousness dissolves back into its Source of undifferentiated consciousness.

This non-dual wisdom is expressed in many of the world’s greatest spiritual writings:

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.
-Shankara

And you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.
-Gospel of John

They see only their own shadows, or the shadows of one another, which the fire throws on the opposite wall of the cave.

To them, the truth would be literally nothing but shadows of imagination.

See what will naturally follow if the prisoners are released and disabused of their error.

See the reality of which in his former state he had seen the shadows; and then conceive someone saying to him, that what he saw before was an illusion.

His eye is turned towards more real existence, he has a clearer vision.
-Plato

Be still and know that I Am God
-Psalms

In the knowledge of the Atman
Which is a dark night to the ignorant
The recollected mind is fully awake and aware
The ignorant are awake in their sense life
Which is darkness to the sage

The subtle Soul sits everywhere
The Soul’s light shines pure in every place
In its bodily prison-Spirit pure

Never the spirit was born
The spirit shall cease to be never
Never was time it was not
End and beginning are dreams

Now I Am become Death, the destroyer of worlds

The unreal has no being
The real never ceases to be
-Bhagavad-Gita

I have seen all the works that are done under the sun
And behold, all is vanity and a chasing after wind
-Ecclesiastes

The man of Tao remains unknown
Perfect virtue produces nothing
No-self is true-self
And the greatest man is Nobody
-Chuang Tzu

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

Truly, I have attained nothing from total enlightenment
-Buddha

That One thing, breathless, breathed by its own nature
Apart from it, there was nothing
Darkness was hidden by darkness in the beginning
All that existed then was void and formless

That which becomes, was born through the power of heat
Upon that desire arose in the beginning the first discharge of thought
Sages discovered this link of the existent to the non-existent
Having searched in the heart with wisdom
Their line of vision was extended across

What was below, what was above?
Who knows truly
Whence this creation came into being?

He, the first origin of this creation
Whether he formed it all or did not form it
Whose eye controls this world in highest heaven
Surely he knows, or perhaps he knows not
-Rig Veda

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
-Genesis

In the silence and the void
Standing alone and unchanging
Ever present and in motion

I do not know its name
Call it Tao

The farther you go, the less you know

In the pursuit of learning, everyday something is acquired
In the pursuit of Tao, everyday something is dropped
Less and less is done
Until non-action is achieved
When nothing is done, nothing is left undone
The world is ruled by letting things take their course
It cannot be ruled by interfering

Tao in the world is like a river flowing home to the sea

He who follows the Tao is at one with the Tao

Stand before it and there is no beginning
Follow it and there is no end

Returning is the motion of the Tao

It returns to nothingness

It leads all things back toward the great oneness

Being is born of not being

Being at one with the Tao is eternal
And though the body dies, the Tao will never pass away

Because there is no place for death to enter

To die but not to perish is to be eternally present
Brings freedom from the fear of death

Misfortune comes from having a body
Without a body how could there be misfortune?

Surrender yourself humbly; then you can be trusted to care for all things
Love the world as your own self; then you can truly care for all things

No fight; no blame

All can know good as good only because there is evil
For having and not having arise together

The wise are impartial

Empty yourself of everything

The form of the formless
The image of the imageless
It is called indefinable and beyond imagination

Without form there is no desire
Without desire there is tranquility

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
This appears as darkness
Darkness within darkness
The gate to all mystery
-Tao-Te-Ching

The great path has no gates,
Thousands of roads enter it.
When one passes through this gateless gate,
One walks the universe alone.
-Mu-mon

To reach the ultimate state of being is to awaken from the dream of self-identification. The only things that stand in the way of one’s awakening are all the things in one’s world that one has attached oneself to; the things that one loves. To awaken, one has to detach oneself from these things and let go of whatever one loves. Whatever one loves, whether that thing is a person, a place, a work of art, a song, or a concept, that thing is only a coherently organized form of information animated in the flow of energy. Even to love work is only to love the creative process that creates forms of information.

The love of work is always a creative process that expends creative energy as forms are created, just as the expression of self-defensive energy is a misguided attempt to defend oneself because one loves a form of information with which one identifies oneself. This is the narcissistic story of being in love with one’s own image as one focuses one’s attention and energy on the creative process that creates one’s self-image. Whatever one loves, one is expending one’s energy on either that self-defensive or self-creative process.

The awakening process is not a creative process. It is a self-destructive process. It is a tearing down or deconstructive process; a process of negation that ultimately culminates in one no longer expending any self-defensive or self-creative energy. It is the antithesis of love. As long as one focuses one’s attention and energy on what one loves, one cannot awaken.

To be alive in a world requires the expenditure of energy because life-forms are animated. The ultimate state of being does not require energy because it is not animated. It is timeless being. The ultimate state of being is only describable in negative terms: as nothingness, void, or undifferentiated consciousness. The differentiated perceiving consciousness of the observer, like the flow of energy through the observer’s world, is only required for the animation and observation of the observer’s world.

The problem of one’s self-identification with one’s character in one’s animated world can become temporarily solved if one’s focus of attention becomes distracted by some form of amusement in one’s world, or if one transcends one’s self as one focuses one’s attention and energy on some creative process in one’s world, or even if one’s character falls asleep and loses consciousness. The problem with these temporary solutions is the reentry problem. When one’s consciousness reenters the embodied form of one’s character, one becomes a prisoner again, self-identified with one’s character, and the vicious cycle of expressing self-defensive emotional energy, of feeling self-limited to the form of one’s character, and identifying oneself with one’s character resumes. As long as one has a world to observe, the only abiding solution is if one shifts the focus of one’s attention away from one’s world and focuses on one’s own sense of being present for that world.

Although it seems the observer’s cosmic horizon is the edge of its world, in a strange way the observer’s own focal point of consciousness is the real edge of its world, which can be called the singularity of that world. As an observer shifts the focus of its attention onto its own sense of being present and no longer expends energy in its world, it brings itself right to the edge of the precipice separating the existence of its world from the void and the non-existence of its world. This precipice is the nature of the singularity.

singularity

The purpose of a shift in the focus of the observer’s attention, as the observer withdraws its attention away from its world and withdraws its investment of energy in its world, is not to get lost in the void, like falling asleep or becoming catatonic. A truth-realized observer has shifted the focus of its attention onto its own sense of being present; right at the edge of the precipice that separates the existence of its world from the void and the non-existence of its world; and so is able to turn off its world at will; freely falling into and dissolving into the void; fluctuating its attention between its world and the void; and varying its state of being between differentiated and undifferentiated consciousness.

This penultimate state of being is beautifully expressed in this saying of 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

In summation, there are two mutually congruous perspectives one can have about the nature of life and reality:

Life’s a Sim, and then you’re deleted

Or

Row, row, row your boat
Gently down the stream
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily
Life is but a dream

It all depends on whether One identifies oneself with one’s dream character in one’s dream, or if One identifies oneself with the Dreamer of one’s dream.

References

Leonard Susskind (2008) The Black Hole War (Little, Brown and Company)
Amanda Gefter (2014) Trespassing on Einstein’s Lawn (Random House)
Antonio Damasio (1999) The Feeling of What Happens (Harcourt Brace)
Raphael Bousso (2002) The Holographic Principle. arXiv:hep-th/0203101
Gerard ‘t Hooft (2000) The Holographic Principle. arXiv:hep-th/0003004
J Madore (1999) Non-commutative Geometry for Pedestrians. arXiv:gr-qc/9906059
Lee Smolin (2001) Three Roads to Quantum Gravity (Basic Books)
A. Zee (2003) Quantum Field Theory in a Nutshell (Princeton University Press)
Ted Jacobson (1995) Thermodynamics of Spacetime. arXiv:gr-qc/9504004
Roger Penrose (2005) The Road to Reality (Alfred A Knopf)
Leonard Susskind (1994) The World as a Hologram. arXiv:hep-th/9409089
Nisargadatta Maharaj (1996) The Experience of Nothingness (Blue Dove Press)
Nisargadatta Maharaj (1973) I Am That (Acorn Press)

♦♦♦

Advertisements

From → Uncategorized

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: