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Metaphysics & Psychology

Scientists Now Believe That The Universe Itself Is Conscious

Some of the world’s most renowned scientists are questioning whether the cosmos has an inner life similar to our own.

For centuries, modern science has been shrinking the gap between humans and the rest of the universe, from Isaac Newton showing that one set of laws applies equally to falling apples and orbiting moons to Carl Sagan intoning that “we are made of star stuff” — that the atoms of our bodies were literally forged in the nuclear furnaces of other stars.

Even in that context, Gregory Matloff’s ideas are shocking. The veteran physicist at New York City College of Technology recently published a paper arguing that humans may be like the rest of the universe in substance and in spirit. A “proto-consciousness field” could extend through all of space, he argues. Stars may be thinking entities that deliberately control their paths. Put more bluntly, the entire cosmos may be self-aware.

The notion of a conscious universe sounds more like the stuff of late night TV than academic journals. Called by its formal academic name, though, “panpsychism” turns out to have prominent supporters in a variety of fields. New York University philosopher and cognitive scientist David Chalmers is a proponent. So too, in different ways, are neuroscientist Christof Koch of the Allen Institute for Brain Science, and British physicist Sir Roger Penrose, renowned for his work on gravity and black holes. The bottom line, Matloff argues, is that panpsychism is too important to ignore.

“It’s all very speculative, but it’s something we can check and either validate or falsify,” he says.

Three decades ago, Penrose introduced a key element of panpsychism with his theory that consciousness is rooted in the statistical rules of quantum physics as they apply in the microscopic spaces between neurons in the brain.

In 2006, German physicist Bernard Haisch, known both for his studies of active stars and his openness to unorthodox science, took Penrose’s idea a big step further. Haisch proposed that the quantum fields that permeate all of empty space (the so-called “quantum vacuum”) produce and transmit consciousness, which then emerges in any sufficiently complex system with energy flowing through it. And not just a brain, but potentially any physical structure. Intrigued, Matloff wondered if there was a way to take these squishy arguments and put them to an observational test.

One of the hallmarks of life is its ability to adjust its behavior in response to stimulus. Matloff began searching for astronomical objects that unexpectedly exhibit this behavior. Recently, he zeroed in on a little-studied anomaly in stellar motion known as Paranego’s Discontinuity. On average, cooler stars orbit our galaxy more quickly than do hotter ones. Most astronomers attribute the effect to interactions between stars and gas clouds throughout the galaxy. Matloff considered a different explanation. He noted that the anomaly appears in stars that are cool enough to have molecules in their atmospheres, which greatly increases their chemical complexity.

Matloff noted further that some stars appear to emit jets that point in only one direction, an unbalanced process that could cause a star to alter its motion. He wondered: could this actually be a willful process? Is there any way to tell?

If Paranego’s Discontinuity is caused by specific conditions within the galaxy, it should vary from location to location. But if it is something intrinsic to the stars — as consciousness would be — it should be the same everywhere. Data from existing stellar catalogs seems to support the latter view, Matloff claims. Detailed results from the Gaia star-mapping space telescope, due in 2018, will provide a more stringent test.

Matloff is under no illusion that his colleagues will be convinced, but he remains upbeat: “Shouldn’t we at least be checking? Maybe we can move panpsychism from philosophy to observational astrophysics.”

Mind Out Of Matter

While Matloff looks out to the stars to verify panpsychism, Christof Koch looks at humans. In his view, the existence of widespread, ubiquitous consciousness is strongly tied to scientists’ current understanding of the neurological origins of the mind.

“The only dominant theory we have of consciousness says that it is associated with complexity — with a system’s ability to act upon its own state and determine its own fate,” Koch says. “Theory states that it could go down to very simple systems. In principle, some purely physical systems that are not biological or organic may also be conscious.”

Koch is inspired by integrated information theory, a hot topic among modern neuroscientists, which holds that consciousness is defined by the ability of a system to be influenced by its previous state and to influence its next state.

The human brain is just an extreme example of that process, Koch explains: “We are more complex, we have more self-awareness — well, some of us do — but other systems have awareness, too. We may share this property of experience, and that is what consciousness is: the ability to experience anything, from the most mundane to the most refined religious experience.”

Like Matloff, Koch and his colleagues are actively engaged in experimental tests of these ideas. One approach is to study brain-impaired patients to see if their information responses align with biological measures of their consciousness. Another approach, further off, is to wire the brains of two mice together and see how the integrated consciousness of the animals changes as the amount of information flowing between them is increased. At some point, according to integrated information theory, the two should merge into a single, larger information system. Eventually, it should be possible to run such experiments with humans, wiring their brains together to see if a new type of consciousness emerges.

Despite their seeming similarities, Koch is dubious of Matloff’s volitional stars. What is distinctive about living things, according to his theory, is not that they are alive but that they are complex. Although the sun is vastly bigger than a bacterium, from a mathematical perspective it is also vastly simpler. Koch allows that a star may have an internal life that allows it to “feel,” but whatever that feeling is, it is much less than the feeling of being an E. coli.

On the other hand, “even systems that we don’t consider animate could have a little bit of consciousness,” Koch says. “It is part and parcel of the physical.” From this perspective, the universe may not exactly be thinking, but it still has an internal experience intimately tied to our own.

A Participatory Cosmos

Which brings us to Roger Penrose and his theories linking consciousness and quantum mechanics. He does not overtly identify himself as a panpsychist, but his argument that self-awareness and free will begin with quantum events in the brain inevitably links our minds with the cosmos. Penrose sums up this connection beautifully in his opus “The Road to Reality:”

“The laws of physics produce complex systems, and these complex systems lead to consciousness, which then produces mathematics, which can then encode in a succinct and inspiring way the very underlying laws of physics that gave rise to it.”

Despite his towering stature as a physicist, Penrose has encountered resistance to his theory of consciousness. Oddly, his colleagues have been more accepting of the exotic, cosmic-consciousness implications of quantum mechanics. Ever since the 1920s, physicists have puzzled over the strangely privileged role of the observer in quantum theory. A particle exists in a fuzzy state of uncertainty…but only until it is observed. As soon as someone looks at it and takes its measurements, the particle seems to collapse into a definite location.

The late physicist John Wheeler concluded that the apparent oddity of quantum mechanics was built on an even grander and odder truth: that the universe as a whole festers in a state of uncertainty and snaps into clear, actual being when observed by a conscious being — that is, us.

“We are participators in bringing into being not only the near and here but the far away and long ago,” Wheeler said in 2006. He calls his interpretation the “participatory anthropic principle.” If he is correct, the universe is conscious, but in almost the opposite of the way that Matloff pictures it: only through the acts of conscious minds does it truly exist at all.

It is hard to imagine how a scientist could put the participatory anthropic principle to an empirical test. There are no stars to monitor, and no brains to measure, to understand whether reality depends on the presence of consciousness. Even if it cannot be proven, the participatory anthropic principle extends the unifying agenda of modern science, powerfully evoking the sense of connectedness that Albert Einstein called the cosmic religious feeling.

“In my view, it is the most important function of art and science to awaken this feeling and keep it alive in those who are receptive to it,” Einstein wrote in a 1930 New York Times editorial. Explorers like Matloff are routinely dismissed as fringe thinkers, but it is hard to think of any greater expression of that feeling than continuing the quest to find out if our human minds are just tiny components of a much greater cosmic brain.

Source futurism.com

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Metaphysics & Psychology

Russia’s paranormal soldiers and military dolphin telepathy revealed by defense ministry magazine

Brendan Cole
Newsweek

An article in the official magazine of Russia’s Defense Ministry has claimed that the country’s military works in tandem with psychics, employs paranormal tactics to aid soldiers and has used dolphins in telepathy experiments.

A piece in the magazine Army Collection headlined “Super Soldier for the Wars of The Future” described how the military has conducted strange experiments, such as one in which psychics managed to read documents that were locked in a safe.

The article was first published in February, but came to prominence this week after reports in the Russian magazine RBC, opposition newspaper Novaya Gazeta and the website Meduza. Commentators were surprised that such claims would be made in a publication sanctioned by authorities.

According to the article’s author Nikolai Poroskov, who served in campaigns in Chechnya and Sierra Leone, Soviet scientists developed paranormal techniques in the 1980s with the aim of the military being able to “extract information from a state of so-called altered human consciousness.”

He wrote how the method was even used during the campaigns in Chechnya “to reveal the enemy’s plan and the composition of the forces and means involved.”

He said that Russia has specialists that use telepathy to quiz prisoners, skills honed in experiments on dolphins.

“They mentally gave the animals the commands that they performed… It turned out that the technique also applied to humans,” he wrote.

The article stated that paranormal tactics have helped soldiers learn foreign languages, treat wounded troops, detect ambushes and even crash computers.

He said telepathic, non-verbal interrogation can help soldiers decide if enemy soldiers are receptive to recruitment. So-called “psychic countermeasures” also taught special forces soldiers how to hold up during enemy interrogation.

Anatoly Matviichuk, the head of the Analytics Department at the magazine Soldiers of Russia, told RBC that Soviet scientists did some work in these fields, especially between the 1960s and 1980s.

“Combat parapsychology really has a place…the technique was developed by the Soviet Academy of Sciences in an attempt to discover the phenomenal characteristics of a person.”

However, the chairman of the commission to combat pseudoscience at the Russian Academy of Sciences, Yevgeny Alexandrov, told RBC that “combat parapsychology” is a pseudo-scientific invention.

“Such works really existed and were developed, and were classified… But, as in many countries of the world, such studies are recognized as pseudoscientific, all this is complete nonsense. No parapsychology exists at all, it’s a fairy tale,” Alexandrov said.

“All the talk about the transfer of thought at a distance does not have a scientific basis, there is no such recorded case, it is simply impossible,” he added.

Meanwhile, Vladlen Prilutsky, Army Collection‘s chief editor, told RBC that his publication simply publishes “articles containing research, information, and discussion about military topics.”

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Metaphysics & Psychology

How To Stop Self-Sabotage & Get Out Of Your Own Way

IN BRIEF

  • The Facts:While we all have our fair share of obstacles to overcome in life, in many cases, we are the biggest obstacles standing in our way. Thankfully, there are things we can all do to cut back on self-sabotaging behaviour.
  • Reflect On:How much am I holding myself back from? What, if anything, am I getting from keeping myself in the state I am in?

Whether or not you consider yourself a creative person, we are all creative powerhouses. Proof of this lies within our minds, which are consistently concocting ideas, scenarios, goals and so much more that all play a prominent role in the life that we live.​

While some of us thrive at making the most of the constructive impulses that come our way, the vast majority of us instead seem to excel at running with those that are instead destructive in nature. We may feel as though we live in a world filled with ruthless competition, but in reality our biggest competitor both operates and exists within us.

“Addiction, self-sabotage, procrastination, laziness, rage, chronic fatigue and depression are all ways that we withhold our full participation in the program of life we are offered. When the conscious mind cannot find a reason to say no, the unconscious says no in its own way.” – Charles Eisenstein, The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible

Here are some of what I’ve found to be the most common ways in which we sabotage ourselves and what we can all do to get out of our own way:

The Problem With Overthinking

One of the most common ways that we sabotage ourselves is by overthinking. Don’t get me wrong, there are a number of situations and scenarios in which reflecting on something extensively is not only beneficial, but often the best course of action. However, the number of times where that is the case is far outweighed by the number of times we opt to overthink.

One second we are excited about a new idea, and within hours, or sometimes minutes, we’ve concretely established three worst case scenarios, two of which have a 0.001% likelihood of ever occurring, and we’ve sold ourselves on the conclusion that we shouldn’t even bother. Sound familiar?

If overthinking is an issue for you, I recommend that you try adding journaling into your daily life. I personally like to follow the protocol outlined in the infamous book The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, which encourages you to journal first thing in the morning, but taking any time out of your day to allow your mind to metaphorically dump onto the page can be life-changing. Let yourself write literally anything and everything that comes to mind. It may feel counterproductive at first, but you’d be surprised at how often writing things out can make your thoughts feel heard, allowing you to more easily assess the healthy from the unhealthy and move past those that would have previously sabotaged your creativity.

Cut The Comparison

Another common way in which we frequently self sabotage is through comparison, especially in our social media driven world where measuring ourselves against others has never been more prevalent. With a couple of swipes and scrolls we can easily compare ourselves to hundreds of other people, most of which are portraying themselves and their lives inaccurately.

If comparison is your “Achilles heel”, there are two things you can do: 1) cut back on how much time you spend on social media, and 2) actively challenge yourself to celebrate rather than compare yourself to the accomplishments of others.

For example, I could very easily look at the work of someone like Jay Shetty–whose content falls largely under a similar umbrella to mine–and see that it’s being seen by millions of people compared to the thousands that mine is typically consumed by, and allow myself to get down because of that. Or I can alternatively look at his accomplishments, including his recent appearance on The Ellen Show–a longtime goal of mine–and instead be happy for him, seeing his success as living proof that there is an audience for this content.

Sorry, I Was Distracted

A third lesser-known way in which we sabotage ourselves, occasionally even subconsciously, is through distraction. Rather than taking immediate action or even the smallest of steps to further establish the healthy neural pathway that is trying to form, we closet that creativity by opting to distract ourselves from listening to it.

Common ways that we do this include picking up our phones and checking social media, or using our fatigue to justify sitting on the couch and watching some TV, both of which always provide more than enough content for us to engage with in a far less creative manner.

If distraction is your self sabotage speciality, consider setting aside set periods each day where you do not allow yourself to engage with any form of technology. Whether you opt to read a book, meditate or spend some time out in nature, give your mind the daily opportunity to reacclimatize to what that experience feels like, and you may be pleasantly surprised by what it leads to.

Article originally written for and published by Ideapod.

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Metaphysics & Psychology

Psilocybin & Magic Mushrooms – The Next Wellness & Legalization Trend After Cannabis?

Makia Freeman, Contributor
Waking Times

Psilocybin, the substance found in 200+ species of magic mushrooms, may be the next health and legalization trend after cannabis. Magic mushrooms have been used in many cultures all over the world for therapeutic and spiritual purposes. Many scientific studies and clinical trials have found positive evidence of their benefits to the human body, especially in the area of mental health. With the state of Oregon and the city of Denver (Colorado) about to vote on legalizing magic mushrooms later this year, will psilocybin become the next trend after cannabis?

Current Legal Status of Psilocybin in the USA

Like cannabis (marijuana), MDMA (Ecstasy or Molly), peyote and heroin, psilocybin is classified as a Schedule I drug. The definition of this category is substances with no medical use and the high potential for abuse. Possession of psilocybin mushrooms is a felony. Given the incredible benefits which magic mushrooms containing psilocybin offer mankind, this kind of classification is clearly ignorant, heavy-handed and contradictory. How can such benign substances as magic mushrooms be on the same level as the highly addictive, artificially manufactured and deadly heroin?

What the Science Says About Psilocybin

It turns out magic mushrooms are already being closely studied all over the world by many different scientists. So far, the science shows psilocybin bestows many health benefits. In a nutshell, scientific studies including pre-clinical and clinical trials show that psilocybin helps beat depression, anxiety, addiction and even cancer. On a higher level, it helps increase joy, peace and altruism. However, looking closely at the results provides even more insight.

Psilocybin for Autism, Asperger’s, ASD, Depression, Anxiety and PTSD

Autism rates are skyrocketing across the US, with many suspecting vaccines (thimerosal/mercury) and GMOs (glyphosate) as possible causes. Whatever the cause, it’s a serious neurological disorder. Asperger’s used to be considered its own disorder but was recently reorganized to come under the ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) and is now considered a mild form of autism. Asperger’s is characterized by a rigidity of thought and routine, and by a lack of empathy and social/emotional awareness. Interestingly enough, this is exactly what psilocybin can heal according to a recent January 2019 study, which found that psilocybin increased flexibility, creativity and empathy. Here’s what the author of the study Natasha Mason said:

“Examples of processes that have been found to be decreased in these pathologies include creative, flexible thinking and empathy. Specifically, individuals are characterized by repetitive and rigid patterns of negative and compulsive thoughts, as well as reduced empathic abilities. Thus we wanted to assess whether psilocybin enhanced these processes, and if so, how long effects lasted …We found that psilocybin, when taken in a naturalistic setting, increased aspects of creativity and empathy the morning after, and 7 days after use. Furthermore, psilocybin also enhanced subjective well-being. Interestingly, changes in well-being correlated with changes in empathy after psilocybin use.”

This also has implications for other mental disorders such as depression, anxiety and PTSD, as the study notes in its Introduction:

“Both creative, flexible thinking and empathy deficits have been found in stress-related psychopathologies like depression, anxiety disorders, and post-traumatic stress disorder.”

Breaking Down the Ego and “Default Mode Network”

If you want to learn more about psilocybin and what science is beginning to show about its benefits and effects, check out the work of Michael Pollan, author of How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us about Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression and Transcendence. He discusses how psychedelics, contrary to a common misconception, actually make you more sane than crazy. This is because substances like psilocybin decrease the activity of a brain network called the default mode network, which is in charge of perception of self. Psilocybin halts the functioning of this network, thus allowing a space for new neural connections – a re-wiring of the brain.

Psilocybin: Naturally in Sync with Our Biology

Another person to check out is Dr. Roland Griffiths, Professor in the Departments of Psychiatry and Neurosciences at Johns Hopkins University. He has some online videos such as this one where he shows that psilocybin helps people release fear, old patterns and negative beliefs. On a higher level, it helps increase joy, peace and altruism. Studies have also found that it can engender mystical-type experiences in people which are identical to those that occur naturally, suggesting psilocybin is naturally in sync with our biology.

Further Evidence of Psilocybin’s Potential as a Healing Agent

Lastly, take a look at the studies reported here and here on Waking Times. The latter showed that psilocybin strongly helped patients with depression:

“Amazingly, after the participants were given two doses of psilocybin (10 mg and 25 mg), with the second dose a week after the first – their brains showed pronounced, decreased blood flow to the areas of the brain implicated in depression. Researchers also found increased stability on parts of the brain related to depression – and these effects lasted up to five weeks.

The team described the immediate results of patients’ symptoms disappearing after the initial trip as an “afterglow” and a “disintegration” – with the compound also reintegrating brain networks afterward. The afterglow included marked improvements in mood and stress relief. Patients used a lot of computer metaphors to describe how their brains felt afterward – defragged, rebooted, and reset.”

Final Thoughts: Psilocybin is a Gift of Nature which will Hopefully Soon be Widely Legalized

Psilocybin has a long history of use across the world, especially among South American tribes (like the Aztecs, whose word for it was teonanacatl, which translates to “divine mushroom”). There are several prehistoric rock art drawings depicting psilocybin mushrooms, such as the one in Spain, near Villar del Humo, approximately 6,000 years old, another in Tassili n’Ajjer (a national park in the Sahara Desert, Algeria) which is around 7,000-9,000 years old, and the one pictured above from Guatemala. My prediction and hope is that it will become the next health and legalization trend after cannabis, which, for the USA, also started in Denver, Colorado. We shall see.

About the Author

Makia Freeman is the editor of The Freedom Articles and senior researcher at ToolsForFreedom.com (FaceBook here), writing on many aspects of truth and freedom, from exposing aspects of the worldwide conspiracy to suggesting solutions for how humanity can create a new system of peace and abundance. Makia is on MindsSteemit and FB.

**Sources embedded throughout article.

This article (Psilocybin & Magic Mushrooms – The Next Wellness & Legalization Trend After Cannabis?) was originally created and published by The Freedom Articles and is re-posted here with permission. 

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