23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I dont understand the negative comments at all.
I cannot give this book five stars because I admit that at times some of the concepts that get mentioned are done in a too mater-of-fact way. I remember reading some part of the book (in Part 3) when Goswami throws in the term "self-nature of objects". As a buddhist myself I am versed in the notions of non-self and Emptiness, but I had to review the paragraph and its...
Published on 23 Dec. 2008 by N. Robinson
25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars non-logical quantum jump
I did like the book and found the science very interesting - however the main problem for me was his non-logical quantum jump from quantum physics to monistic idealism. Statements such as 'consciousness is the ground of all being' (site) - which although from a theological view are fine - i don't feel are adequately substantiated in the book. There are some very basic...
Published on 13 Jun. 2007 by Amazon Customer
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I dont understand the negative comments at all.,
I cannot give this book five stars because I admit that at times some of the concepts that get mentioned are done in a too mater-of-fact way. I remember reading some part of the book (in Part 3) when Goswami throws in the term "self-nature of objects". As a buddhist myself I am versed in the notions of non-self and Emptiness, but I had to review the paragraph and its context to confirm this was indeed what Goswami was talking about (he was). Theres been a few incidents like this through the book, which are actually valid, but sometimes hard to immediately understand when not in contact with the concepts on a day to day basis. But the subject of consciousness, quantum mechanics, experience, emptiness, ephiphenomenology, soliphism, etc are not simple.
The above is only a minor criticism. The subject matter is defnitely well covered, and I think Goswami's ideas certainly contribute to the philosophical ideas of this new field of thinking. Goswami covers fundamental principles of quantum mechanics that force materialist scientists to have to re-think the classical principles at the quantum level. He explicates modern thinking of QM, and then brings it into the world of consciousness.
I'm surprised at the comments made by Marc John about relegating the Dalai Lama et al to the status of Santa Claus - such comments seem to come from an inappropriate level of attachment to ideals which, in the final analysis, are just mental constructs of things that dont exist. The Dalai Lama was once asked what he would do if it was proven that reincarnation does not exist (I think that was the question the interview posed), and after a short pause the Dalai Lama highlighted he would believe reincarnation doesnt exist - if letting go of that conceptual legacy allows the progression of the eastern/western understanding of life and how to get closer to happiness, then why hold onto it? Therefore, as the west applies more and more what it is learning about QM, nonlocality and its possibility to radically change our thknking of reality, then to me thats the natural way for it to go and one shouldnt feel upset. No way does Goswami imply any negative connotations towards the Dalai Lama et al (certainly from what I read), which does imply the comment author has misunderstood a lot of what is being said - to be fair, the subject matter isnt simple.
As for the comments from David Hampson, I can appreciate where he is coming from with some of his comments. There is no bending of accepted science when it comes to the struggle classical scientists have with the ideas that are borne out of the theory and mathematics of QM. The clear denial of "Rabbis, Buddhists, fictional religious characters, Yoga dudes, ..." (it goes on), indicats the intellectual (or not) slant of the comment author. I think it would be a severe injustice to Goswami were people to be swayed from buying the book because of these two, ill-informed and highly devisive and content-lacking reviews.
The fact it is that the subject of consciousness is still embryonic, and ideas from any field that helps in breaking old conceptual models to help creative thinking that might help take our understanding further is a good thing. Goswami brings together lots of known facts (remember Goswami has authored academic material on quantum mechanics), as well as bringing together the ideas of the east and its own 2500+ year old experience with the ideas of consciousness. This is a good book and it has some very good ideas. Yes, sometimes its a little difficult and you may need to return to the begining of a section and read it again, but just thinking of quantum mechanics, the ideas of non-locality, the uncertainty principle and the many paradoxes, requires some focus of mind to read. I think other authors may have made such subjects more accessible in places than Goswami achieves, but I do not want to take away anything from what Goswami has achieved with this book, and I think it is a lot. Our understanding of reality opened up when QM was discovered, and the same happened in the east as they understood consciousness, experience and reality. Ill-informed commenters can deny with a blunt knife many well-established and documented worlds of thought that indicate towards a thorough understanding of reality - indeed, some think QM is simply catching up with what the east has always known about reality.
Anyone interested in learning about what the thinkers of today are thinking about consciousness and reality will definitely enjoy this, if they remain open-minded. If you are a black-and-white thinker who refuses anything thats described by science, then you might struggle with the challenges to your mental models that this book throws at you - and you can see with some of the negative comments how difficult such challenges seem to be.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Just what "stuff" is universe made of?,
This is a very tightly woven polemic, requiring careful attention. Goswami argues that the fundamental "stuff" of the universe is not matter as we have all been taught at school, but consciousness. This, he argues, is the only possible conclusion of the findings of quantum physics. Goswami challenges perhaps the most fundamental of all paradigms. The universe is not made of material stuff at all! Well, we all know that atoms are mostly empty but they still appear to be very solid when we encounter them in iron bars. Goswami considers his claim from every angle, he unravels Einstein's objections and examines the work of researchers in Quantum mechanics from Neils Bohr onwards. He describes numerous experiments, both in physics laboratories and in the field of psychology and noetic science, and extrapolates their conclusions. He considers the many objections to his thesis and shows how all these objections are flawed. Consciousness remains the only possible fundamental which accounts for all material, phenomena and experience. This is not an easy read, but for those with stamina, he provides a great deal of food for the mind.
25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars non-logical quantum jump,
I did like the book and found the science very interesting - however the main problem for me was his non-logical quantum jump from quantum physics to monistic idealism. Statements such as 'consciousness is the ground of all being' (site) - which although from a theological view are fine - i don't feel are adequately substantiated in the book. There are some very basic logical jumps which are not fully backed up and not clearly thought out, were he moves from science to notions of spirituality without rigorous philosophical investigation.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A world of monistic idealism,
The Self-Aware Universe: How consciousness creates the material world, by Amit Goswami, Jeremy Tarcher, New York, 1993, 336 ff.
The author sets out at the beginning how he views the world. He is rejecting the dualism of Descartes that suggested the world about us comprised material things and thinking things, that is, matter and minds. Goswami's world is a holistic unity - a world the philosophers would describe as monistic. Thus, he also rejects the dualism of western religion separating God from Man and Nature.
Then Goswami addresses the scientists. Theirs is a world of materialism. Only material objects and their properties are relevant. Any spirituality is subjective and meaningless to everyone else. But the deepest experiences of humankind are those of the soul and emotions and here science, that has explained so much, has little or nothing to say by way of explanation or interpretation. And the world of the numinous is the philosophical world of idealism.
The author is professor of physics at the Institute of Theoretical Sciences at the University of Oregon and is well-known for his writings that try to bridge the gap between materialist science on the one hand and the world of spirituality on the other, like Fritjof Capra a couple of decades earlier. He makes an important distinction though between mind and consciousness. Essentially, mind is the collection of our thoughts; consciousness is awareness and includes our sensory experiences. That aspect of our minds that Jung described as the collective unconscious is what Hindus describe as Atman. The mystic sees this unitive consciousness as God.
Goswami explains the mind-twisting concepts of quantum physics - non-locality, wave-particle duality, complementarity - quite simply for the non-specialist. The quantum matter/energy concept is the scientists' vision of transcendence - `being beyond comprehension'. He also makes quite frequent reference to parallels between his scientific philosophy of monistic idealism and Hindu mythology. It might have widened the readership if Goswami had tied the quantum world view into eastern mysticism more generally, like Capra, but Goswami makes an excellent job of his presentation.
I didn't find the sharp three-fold division of the book into physics, philosophy and mysticism that some other reviewers have found. The book is indeed presented in four parts, but they are much more integrated than that. Because of this diversity of content, the book does seem to jump around a bit in order to make these connections, and this does demand greater concentration from the reader.
When you read this book, the author's writing style is such that you feel you are in conversation with him. Although it deals with many challenging ideas, it is presented in as non-academic a style as possible for such sophisticated subject matter. If you are interested in a spiritual approach to the material world but one that is compatible with the latest ideas in quantum physics, then this book is for you. You must however be prepared to embrace some of the mystical ideas of eastern religion. There's a glossary of technical terms, a list of references and a bibliography, and a good index.
Dr Howard A. Jones is the author of The Thoughtful Guide to God (2006) and The Tao of Holism (2008), both published by O Books of Winchester, UK.
Mind Before Matter: Visions of a New Science of Consciousness
100 of 112 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent explanations of the implications of quantum physics,
The Self Aware Universe. Amit Goswami.
The discovery of quantum physics as a science began a century ago and yet is still held at arms length by the majority of scientists despite the fact that many of the concepts are now utilized in modern technology.
The reasons for this are that quantum physics is viewed from the mind set of classical physics, otherwise termed material realism.
In this fascinating and broad minded book, Amit Goswami discusses the world view of material realism. He then provides a beautifully clear explanation of the main points and implications of quantum physics and the nature of reality. He states that consciousness and not matter is primary and describes his new paradigm of monistic idealism.
The old paradigm of material realism claims that reality is outside of us and is governed by the laws of classical physics. It sees objects as solid and independent from or how we observe them. This is a universal view of causality and determinism where humans are essentially mechanistic, emotionally driven carbon units. Life is predestined and free will is an illusion with consciousness merely a phenomenon of matter.
The science of this world relies on empirical evidence gathered by strong objectivity and meaning is derived through reductionist techniques. From this stance there is no real consideration of the perception of the observer determining the reality they experience.
Quantum physics has essentially demolished material realism through overwhelming evidence. However, Amit Goswami asks "why does it not speak for itself?" The problem is that quantum physics is observed and interpreted from the small window of classical physics and that is why it appears to be paradoxical and strange. There is a huge urge to make it fit the predictability of classical physics.
Fully embracing quantum physics means that we accept that the observer affects that which is observed. This also implies accepting that everything exists as superpositions of waves of probabilities until observed, that the universe is non local and that we are not separate from our environment.
Amit Goswami also reflects on the current non-compatibility of science and spirituality and suggests that accepting the full implications of quantum physics into our lives would dispense with the need to have such divisions and disparities.
To take these concepts further I'd recommend "A Beginner's Guide to Creating Personal Reality" by Ramtha.
40 of 46 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars
MATTER, MIND and DESTINY,
By A Customer
David S. Devor
Exec. Director, Project Mind Foundation
Copyright 1995 by Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.
If the matter/mind, science/spirit question interests you, this is
a book you should read. It is rich in fact, observation and
speculation and constitutes a serious contribution to the new
proliferation of books attempting to bridge temporal and
transcendent worlds. If you are not a physics buff and yet are a
little familiar with popular notions of quantum mechanics, you may
wish to read the introductory material that runs until page 24, and
then skip over the technical sections to part three on page 147.
This section is called "Self-Reference: How The One Becomes Many"
and includes chapters entitled "Exploring the Mind-Body Problem,"
"In Search of the Quantum Mind," "The `I' of consciousness" and
"Integrating the Psychologies." Part 3 is concerned with the issues
themselves while everything up to page 147 is concerned mainly with
physics and the question of non-locality. This technical section
will be especially useful for those who wish to see Goswami's
arguments anchored in physics theory.
What we have here is a physicist and associates with more than a
passing acquaintance with spiritual matters, applying insights
gleaned from physics to a wider understanding of life. The "new
paradigm" he offers is not so new but Goswami does succeed in
drawing fairly solid analogies between recent thinking in physics
and the world of spirit and meaning. He bases himself on "monistic
idealism" which he claims is "the correct philosophy for science in
view of quantum physics"[p.54]. The idea of monistic idealism is,
roughly, that the prime reality is outside space-time and generates
all temporal or "local" phenomena. But this is about as close as
Goswami ever comes to delivering on the promise of his subtitle,
"How Consciousness Creates the Material World." So if this is what
interests you, be warned that this book is not a work on cosmology.
The crux of the argument is that nonlocal, distance-independent,
instantaneous effects have their source in a transcendent domain
outside of space-time. Goswami begins by illustrating the
relationship between consciousness and quantum measurement and
claims that it is observation or awareness that collapses a
"quantum wave" into a local, observable phenomenon.
The implication is that collapse (and thus observation) creates the
restricted temporal world. Limited awareness and subjectivity
derive from time-lags, memory and "tangled hierarchies." I quote:
"According to monistic idealism, objects are already in
consciousness as primordial, transcendent, archetypal possibility
forms. The collapse consists not of doing something to objects via
observing but of choosing and recognizing the result of that
choice"(p.84). Goswami claims that our choices are made nonlocally
and not in the ego where we think they are made. Thus the source of
consciousness and quantum action is nonlocal, outside the time-
space continuum. Their local expressions are the local results we
normally and unwittingly call "reality."
Another key element, a corollary of monistic idealism, is the
notion that mind is not an epiphenomenon of the brain but that the
brain is a physical expression of mind that mediates between local
and nonlocal (transcendant) reality by acting as a quantum
measuring device. "The conviction has been growing among many
physicists that the brain is an interactive system with a quantum
mechanical macrostructure as an important complement to the
classical neuronal assembly"[p.169]. Consciousness (usually outside
awareness) is shared by us all but we are unaware of our unlimited,
everpresent consciousness which originates outside of space-time.
The "self" is defined as "the a relationship between conscious
experience and the immediate physical environment"[p.199].
As deeply as this book probes into the theoretical details of
matter and psychology, it disappoints in the vagueness of its
recommendations for the future where it resorts to fluff. "I
propose that science and religion in the future perform
complementary functions -- science laying the groundwork in an
objective fashion for what needs to be done to be done regain
enchantment, and religion guiding people through the process of
doing it" [p.216]. "In the new science, which infuses a new
worldview, we draw upon science and religion and ask practitioners
of both to come together as co-investigators and co-developers of
a new order"[p.224].
Where Goswami comes closest to raising cogent possibilities for the
future is in chapter 16, "Inner and Outer Creativity." Here he
touches on aspects such as the nonlocality of creativity and that
it involves new contexts. But he neglects, entirely, the motor of
creativity and the imperative of all life - desire - including
motivation and commitment. According to T.Kun's new book, Project
Mind - The Conscious Conquest of Man & Matter Through Accelerated
Thought (Unimedia, Indian Rocks, FL, 1993), desire, calling and
commitment, are the essence of Creation and of the creativity that
will eventually allow us to bridge locality and nonlocality -
science and spirit.
According to Kun, science, by addressing the enigma of matter, is
already engaged in the highest calling of spirituality. All that is
lacking is the level of intensity that characterizes the best of
spiritual striving in order to turn the entire human body into an
creative intrument of vision. Thus "holistic science" would begin
to give our body, which in its entirety is really a brain-mind, its
full expression of what Goswami calls its "quantum mechanical"
potential. We would thus be filling our conscious role in granting
nonlocality its rightful expression within the local temporal world
which, for us, is destined to be the receptacle of the transcendent
and of which the ephemeral matter of this world is the mere crust.
# # #
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A New View of Reality,
This book is a sincere attempt to help us enter a new paradigm - a way of looking at Life, the Universe and Everything. A new paradigm is certainly needed, if nothing more than because of the findings of quantum physics (the study of the sub-atomic). Those findings have come as a profound shock to Western civilisation - steeped as we are in the Newtonian / Cartesian paradigm of Reality. Making sense of it all has been the basis of a huge and heroic effort for over a century now. It really is high time that we took stock, got our heads round it properly, and moved on appropriately.
In this book Amit Goswami has done an excellent job of articulating the new paradigm. There are several books on this subject now, but I think that this is well and away the best I have read so far.
If Amit's text does have faults, then none of them invalidate the central point of what he advocates. Read this book and experience for yourself how the western mind is so deeply conditioned by Cartesian dogma.
Through this book I feel that Amit, and all involved in it, have done us a real service. I am grateful for that and give the book five stars.
Now, I really must get on and fix the lock on the passenger door of our car. It's real alright, and my boy won't let me forget it!
83 of 99 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars good book; "sweeping" thoughts on religion overstated.,
By A Customer
the science work in the book is good, and found it more intersting then the deliberate synchretism of "Tao of Physics". It is even handed without going into overwhelming detail. However, he displays a diletante's familiarity with comparative religion, though, and has some historical facts wrong, that ultimately affect the framework of the book. Mysticism has had a TREMENDOUS affect on the Western Mind, contrary to his assertion on page 56; the Renaissance was in good part the result of the translation of neo-Platonic and Hermetic works, the proliferation of "secret societies" and quasi-occult movements in Europe in the Enlightenment era had a tremendous influence on the French Revolution, and became entrenched in the founding of the United States, as well as many south American countries. And the "Hierarchy of Interpreters" claim is also shallow. That these esoteric "schools of thought" were able to survive, as well as the existance of the diversity of religious views on "the basics" necessary for the Reformation, contradict this understanding. So What? Well, it is used to claim that the West is somehow void of its own mystical facet, and requires input from Asia to have a soul of any depth! All and all, its okay.
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Forward Step for Human Kind,
At last a book that coherently & convincingly binds the spiritual with the scientific. A ground breaking & immensely inspiring book - turns the lightbulb on!
28 of 35 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Incoherent treatment of a vital subject,
Yes, quantum physics appears to offer a scientific bridge to understanding consciousness and the ultimate reality of your being, echoing concepts and truths that ancient sages and mystics have been pointing toward for thousands of years. In other words, there is no contradiction or competition between science and spirituality; the former is now supporting and clarifying the latter. And the best, most intuitive quantum physicists are modern-day mystics, whether they know it or not. One day there will be a mathematical formulation for the achievement of enlightenment. The experience itself will have no equation, but that won't matter. Science will take us to God, and God is present right now in every atom of your being and is knowable directly, inwardly, via a subtle yet often elusive transformation of consciousness which has nothing to do with sensory perception or the mind as you know it. It's a quantum mechanical process, up until a point where categorisations can no longer apply. The advent of Quantum Physics in the early part of the 20th century marked a radical turning point for Western civilisation, it blew apart classical science forever, and complements Eastern esoteric wisdom in a crucial way. We have found the West's Yin to the East's Yang. If quantum physics fulfils its potential, by the next century your local quantum mechanic will have relegated the likes of the Dalai Lama and the Pope to the status of a Santa Claus.
But this book does not do justice to such a vital subject and revolution in Western and global society. It is incoherent to the point of often being unreadable, with the author coming across at times as a smug ego-maniac, seeking to validify and bolster his sense of existence, rather than transcend it. How ironic. It's fascinating to observe - as you read through the pompous sludge that gets in the way of the simple message - how the ego of the author has compromised his potential to graduate to true mystic status. I suspect many quantum physicists will fall into that very human trap. We will start to see physicists who intellectually grasp the spiritual dimensions of their findings and even wholeheartedly believe in them, yet will fall short of breaking through their own ego to experience transcendence directly - yet will act, talk and write as though they have. In the same way as we have psuedo gurus and hypocritical religious leaders, who know all the concepts and dogma, but are not truly, deeply living in the Truth, we will have similar charlatans in the new mystical domain of quantum physics. The author of this book is a prime example. If you watch the What The Bleep movies you'll see a whole pack of them. Goswami's in there too, no surprise. I suppose their value is that they're focusing attention on the quantum world in the first place. The trick is finding the genuine seers among the opportunists. Read Fritjof Capra's The Tao of Physcis instead for a much better exploration of consciousness and the parallels between modern physics and Eastern mysticism.
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