My rating: 4 of 5 stars
You are the Universe: Discovering Your Cosmic Self and Why it Matters (2017) by Deepak Chopra and Menas Kafatos is a non-fiction book attempting to reconcile the spiritual and the metaphysical with the scientific.
To sum up, everything comes from nothing, or a place that can be known but not yet perceived. Complicated? Not really. What is complex is the attempt to explain through acute scientific measures how things exist (to atoms, to human thoughts, to the Universe) and how humanity is connected and interlinked to the Universe, which is Time and Space all around us all the time.
Whether we know it or not, we are, in effect, active actors in a play we are creating and co-creating and the Universe responds to our thoughts, emotions, and physical actions—not too dissimilar to karma, if you will.
The Universe, however, needs humanity to help create the all-surrounding universe. Our thoughts, therefore, have power over Reality. We are what we think and feel; the world, also, is what we think and feel. In fact, the authors explain “the universe is made of what we want it to show us” (p 111) and the brain acts as a kind of “transmitter” to help deliver messages between us and the Universe (p 159).
In the Preface (called “You and the Universe are One”), the authors provide a general explanation of the basics:
“You are the creator of reality, and yet you have no idea how you do it—the process is effortless… In ancient India, the Vedic sages declared Aham Brahmasmi, which can be translated as ‘I am the Universe’ or ‘I am everything.’ They arrived at this knowledge by diving deep into their own awareness, where astonishing discoveries were made…
“We have an agenda, which is to show that this is a participatory universe that depends for its very existence on human beings…
“A conscious universe responds to how we think and feel. It gains its shape, color, sound, and texture from us. Therefore, we feel the best name for it is the human universe, and it is the real universe, the only one we have” (pgs 3-4).
To begin to explain how the “conscious” and “human” universe and the invisible processes work, the authors use Albert Einstein (who is mentioned and cited often in the book—as is Sherlock Holmes) and Einstein’s special theory of relativity (STR) equation to help illustrate how our thoughts (i.e., energy and the unseen) and the physical universe (i.e., mass and the seen) are connected and, at times, interchangeable.
The formula, just one piece in a rather large puzzle, does help the authors start the discussion of a difficult and sensitive subject, often bordering the spiritual with the scientific. The full equation, “a mind-bending theory in the popular imagination,” consists of the increased relativistic mass (m) of a body times the speed of light squared (c²) equals the kinetic energy (E) of that body, hence E = mc² (it should actually be written as: mc² = E).
Keep this exact formula in mind as the authors explain in the Overview of their book (called “The Dawn of a Human Universe”) their (rather simplified) reasoning for using Einstein’s STR equation:
“A huge amount of knowledge is contained in E = mc², which applies to phenomena as diverse as black holes and splitting atoms. Yet, in a sense, the most startling aspect of E = mc² is the equal sign.
“‘Equal’ means ‘the same as,’ and in this case, energy is the same as matter, or mass is equivalent to energy. As far as the five senses are concerned, a sand dune, a eucalyptus tree, and a loaf of bread (matter) are totally unlike a bolt of lightning, a rainbow, and the magnetism that moves a compass needle (energy). But Einstein’s formulation has been proved correct many times over” (p 14).
The authors wish to convince you that since matter and energy can be equal and often interchangeable (e.g., water turns to vapor and back into water, etc.), then why can’t thoughts emerge from a quantum realm that lies just below the surface of our perceptions much the way in quantum physics “the act of observation can be enough to bring particles into existence in time and space” (p 110).
Heisenberg, long ago, described the phenomenon (“the act of looking to affect physical matter” and how “the observer cannot be separated from the observed”) in this way: “What we observe is not nature itself, but nature exposed to our method of questioning” (p 111).
As a result, the nature of subjectivity and objectivity must then be questioned in relationship to the “Heisenberg cut,” which is a “dividing line that separates quantum events from our perception” (p 133).
Later, the authors take the opportunity to discuss the Quantum World and Quantum Reality and how the Heisenberg cut can be applicable in explaining the “conscious and human universe” in scientific and mathematical terms: “The Heisenberg cut is useful, not so much to divide the real world but to divide the kind of mathematics that works on one side of the line or the other.
“It’s like a border where only French is spoken on one side and only English on the other. But this begs the question of whether quantum reality really is isolated and separate from everyday reality. Perhaps quanta are making things happen all around us that we don’t notice. Or maybe the whole picture has been turned upside down—quantum behavior could be the norm in the everyday world, and we only happened to discover it first in the microscopic world of waves and particles…
“What lies beyond the horizon is both everything and nothing. It is everything because the virtual quantum domain contains the potential for every event that has occurred or ever will. It is nothing because matter, energy, time, space, and we ourselves originate somewhere that’s inconceivable. It becomes quite mysterious to reconcile the duality of everything/nothing in order to describe how creation operates” (p 133).
Regardless if the authors, Deepak and Menas, can prove their hypothesis (i.e., that we really do live and participate in a conscious and human universe) mathematically and under extreme scientific scrutiny, the authors do make it easy to understand the evidence and their reasoning.
The American theoretical physicist John Archibald Wheeler (1911-2008), however, put it the most poetically:
Human beings are the “carriers of the central jewel, the flashing purpose that lights up the whole dark universe” (p 151).
So go ahead, think of something. Who knows? It might just come true.
After all, you are the creator of your own created universe.
That is, if you wish to be.
The American novelist CG FEWSTON has been a Visiting Scholar at the American Academy in Rome (Italy), a Visiting Fellow at Hong Kong’s CityU, & he’s a member of Club Med & a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) based in London.
He’s the author of several short stories and novels. His works include A Father’s Son (2005), The New America: A Collection (2007), Vanity of Vanities (2011), A Time to Love in Tehran (2015), and forthcoming: Conquergood & the Center of the Intelligible Mystery of Being; Little Hometown, America: A Look Back; A Time to Forget in East Berlin; and, The Endless Endeavor of Excellence.
He has a B.A. in English, an M.Ed. in Higher Education Leadership (honors), an M.A. in Literature (honors), and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing & Fiction. He was born in Texas in 1979.
You can follow the author on Facebook @ cg.fewston – where he has 400,000+ followers