Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Consciousness and Quantum Physics

The followings are excerpts from Dharma Talk by Thich Nhat Hanh in 2006.

Store consciousness has access to the realm of phenomenal suchness as well as noumenal suchness.
1) suchness: the thing in itself (reality in itself), which is accessed by direct cognition (by senses consciousness and store consciousness)
2) representations: in which you create the object of your perception, for a mental interpretation of reality
3) mere images: such as those we see in dreams (Mere images make up the majority of the objects of our mind consciousness.)

True emptiness here is the noumenal, the ontological ground of reality. Only the eighth (store consciousness) has access to it, because the eighth has the Wisdom of the Great Mirror — innate wisdom.

According to Buddhist wisdom, life is possible in the realm of no form and no matter. Many people who are about to die and come back to life report that they see light; that may be the realm of pure light. This is an invitation for our scientists: besides matter there is life. Life is expressed not only in terms of matter, it can be expressed in other forms — energy, light, and so on.

With its indeterminate (and non-obscuring) nature, the eighth consciousness operates with the five Universals. Realms and Lands depend on karmic power. This consciousness receives impregnation, preserves all seeds and also the body, organs and environment. It is the one who comes first and leaves last, being truly a master of the house!
“It is the one who comes first and leaves last, being truly a master of the house!” This is speaking about the energy that animates the body. A living body always has store consciousness in it. When the body deteriorates, that manifestation withdraws at the same time, but returns to the seed in order to manifest again and again, like the earth. The earth brings us to life, the earth receives us back, and the earth will bring us out again. So life after life. That is the meaning of continuation, of rebirth. The rebirth of our body is linked to the rebirth of our environment. So this is the base, and that is why we call it basic consciousness.
The eighth preserves all the seeds, and of course memory, images, and all experience, and all the organs also. This body is maintained in life by store consciousness. What the neuroscientists call background consciousness is only something manifested together with the body.

We see here the expression “evolving consciousness”; all the seven consciousnesses are described as evolving. The eighth consciousness is described as the ocean. When there is a wind blowing, the seventh consciousness manifests as waves. In the sutra it is said that store consciousness is like the ocean because when the wind of the objects blows, the seven consciousnesses are born dancing. That is the image used by the Buddha: the dancing of the seven consciousnesses.

When we speak of the subconscious of Freud and the collective unconscious of Jung, we speak of one part of store consciousness. But store consciousness is much larger.

The word vasana means impregnation, learning, processing. Because the consciousness is plastic, it can be conditioned. If we have habit energies and patterns of behavior, that is because of vasana. We develop those during the first six years of our life and we continue to do that.

Quantum coherence has been detected by neuroscientists. They have discovered that biological tissues, when they are excited with the right energy level, begin to emit a tiny glow. We know that there are a multitude of molecules of fat and proteins in the membrane of each cell. They are truly electromagnetic dipoles.
When a cell is at rest, these molecules of fat and proteins have their dipoles arranged in a haphazard way. They are out of phase. But when there is stimulation, they begin to jiggle intensively and oscillate in unison. One molecule behaves like the totality of all molecules. You begin to see the holistic property of a Bose-Einstein condensate.

Einstein predicted with mathematics that when we are able to bring the atoms of a substance down in temperature to near absolute zero, every particle behaves like the totality. Every particle loses its boundary and occupies the whole of time and space in that place. It is possible to use laser beams to bombard these particles to bring them down to a temperature very close to absolute zero. Scientists have been able to do that with certain gases and liquids, including gases of sodium and ribidium, and liquid helium. That is what Einstein called a Bose-Einstein condensate (named for Indian physicist Satyendra Nath Bose and Albert Einstein).
Einstein said that we can make the particles sing in unison. The one behaves like the totality and the totality can be seen in the one. We learn that in the case of a laser beam, all the photons in the laser beam behave holistically, they don’t have their own boundaries anymore. They behave just like one photon, similar to a Bose-Einstein condensate.

We don’t need to bring our brain down to a temperature near absolute zero. At body temperature we can observe behavior analogous to quantum properties, quantum coherence. This is very promising.
When the cell is excited with the right energy level, all the electrical dipoles come together and begin to oscillate together, to sing in unison. 

(Cf.) http://www.mindfulnessbell.org/wp/2015/03/dharma-talk-consciousness-and-quantum-physics-2/

Albert Einstein Photo by Lucien Aigner, CORBIS