By LESLIE DUNN
Sometime during the 1920s, science went haywire. As curious minds peered into the subatomic world of quarks and electrons, instead of finding “things” they found waves of energy that seemed to appear and disappear out of nowhere.
In fact, they seemed not to exist in a definite form at all until they were measured.
This was very upsetting to scientists. Einstein even quipped, “Does the moon disappear if I don’t look at it?”
Physicists still debate: Is it possible to draw philosophical conclusions from science? Are we creating what we see?
Arriving in Monterey with some startling new quantum theories is physicist Dr. Amit Goswami. Medical doctor and New Age guru Deepak Chopra calls him “one of the most brilliant minds in the world of science.”
Best known for his appearance in the metaphysical surprise indie hit film, “What the Bleep Do We Know!?” Goswami will speak at the Carmel Art Association on Thursday and at the Asilomar Conference Center this week through Friday.
“All the paradoxes of quantum physics can be solved if we accept consciousness as the ground of being,” is what Goswami theorizes.
It is a statement not many of his peers would dare to make. Yet Goswami is no New Age newcomer.
He earned his doctorate from Calcutta University in India in theoretical nuclear physics in 1964 and is currently professor emeritus in the physics department at the University of Oregon.
The author of a university textbook on quantum mechanics, he is also the best-selling author of “The Self-Aware Universe: How Consciousness Creates the Material World,” “The Visionary Window” and other books that deal with the intersection of science and spirituality.
The scientific community is split. Many physicists reject philosophically-oriented quantum theories as unverifiable.
Goswami’s response? “As long as we think that these prejudices are valid we exclude huge subjects of thinking.”
He spoke to us from his office at the University of Oregon.
Q: Why is there such a growing interest in this subject right now?
A: The materialist point of view has made people unhappy. People see this is not reality and they’re very interested in finding out about deeper reality.
Q: In “What the Bleep Do We Know!?” you said that “quantum physics is the physics of possibilities.”
A: Yes. It means you can be liberated from the materialist thinking that views you as helpless. You have the freedom to choose among the possibilities that life offers.
Q: Is this similar to the idea of “manifesting” (based on the Law of Attraction) that seems very popular right now?
A: Yes, but what people miss is that ordinary thoughts never change anything in the world and never will. Creative thoughts — thoughts from those moments when we become one with the whole, one with God — in those moments we do have creative power.
Q: Doesn’t the word “God” make scientists nervous?
A: I could call it “quantum consciousness” and never mention God. Some scientists are very sensitive. They don’t like the word “God.” On the other hand you lose a few who would rather have God back in science and not “quantum consciousness,” which seems very obscure.
Q: Is it true that our thoughts affect our outer world?
A: You can say that but you have to stretch a little. In ordinary states of consciousness our thoughts have no effect on reality. They are corrupted by memory. But through meditation and creative processes we can reach non-ordinary states of consciousness in which our thoughts affect our reality.
Q: What’s the first thing we need to change?
A: It is imperative that people shift their worldview — that is the very first step.
Q: To what?
A: From the materialistic worldview that “matter is everything,” to the worldview that “consciousness is everything.” This materialistic world makes almost everything that we covet seem impossible: impossible to love, impossible to be just, impossible to appreciate beauty. Right thinking enables us to recognize that the world is full of possibilities.
Q: So is it our materialistic thinking that makes us unhappy?
A: There are two things that make us unhappy: one is this materialistic worldview. We’re separate. Not experiencing wholeness. The second one is that we have not dealt with our negative feelings. No matter how much right thinking we have it all goes down the drain and we become negative.
Q: Are physicists moving more toward the metaphysical?
A: If you converse with a physicist who has no ax to grind, and talk with him (or her) about the paranormal or spiritual, you’ll find they can be delightfully open-minded.
Q: What has been their reaction to your theories?
A: There is a saying, “Old paradigms never change, but they do die.” I think that a great number of scientists struggle to reconcile science and spirituality in their personal lives.
Q: What does your statement, “Consciousness is the ground of all being,” mean?
A: The statement itself is a Brahman statement I have seen in mystical literature. It means that the material world is contained in consciousness, instead of the other way around. The realization I experienced (as a physicist) was “I have nothing to lose… science can be done on the basis of this metaphysic science. ”
Q: Were you a curious child?
A: What I remember from my childhood (Goswami grew up in a small town near Calcutta) are some very enchanted moments. Today children grow up with computers, which is a machine of separateness. Whereas in the olden days, my parents had a fruit garden in the backyard and a pond and all kinds of little creatures, so as a child I could be totally lost in imagination.
Q: What would be your highest hope for a change in our society?
A: I am convinced that we are evolving toward a world where love will be the going thing.
Q: When might that happen?
A: If we could be that today that would be nice, but we can’t. At this stage of our evolution it’s very tough. It won’t happen overnight.
If you go Dr. Amit Goswami will be speaking at the following events: • All week: Asilomar Conference Grounds, Pacific Grove. Call 372-8016 for details. • Thursday: Carmel Art Association, Dolores between Fifth and Sixth; 6:30 p.m.; free; sponsored by the Pilgrim’s Way Bookstore; 624-4955. After his talk, Goswami will be signing copies of his books “The Visionary Window,” “The Self-Aware Universe” and “The Quantum Doctor” at Pilgrim’s Way.