The Mystery of Consciousness and the Meaning of Light



What is consciousness? Modern science, which has enjoyed so much success in furthering our understanding of the material world, has singularly failed to account for consciousness. Yet without consciousness there would be no science. As far as the contemporary scientific worldview is concerned, consciousness is one big, awkward anomaly.

From Science to God challenges science’s assumption that the material world is the primary reality. Rather than trying to account for consciousness in terms of the material world, it proposes that consciousness is as fundamental as space, time, and matter -- perhaps even more so.

The roots of this alternative worldview go back two hundred years to Immanuel Kant, who drew a clear distinction between the “thing-in-itself” and our experience of it. We think we see the world “out there,” but all we ever observe is the image created in the mind. Now two hundred years after Kant’s realization that we each shape our own reality, science is proving him to be correct. And the implications are far-reaching.

Studies of the brain and the processes of perception have revealed that we do indeed construct our own experience of reality, and that this personal reality is very different from the external physical reality.

In physics, space and time have been demoted from their absolute status. They are, showed Einstein, relative to an observer’s point of view. In their place we find the absoluteness of light. The speed of light is a universal constant, and so is the quantum of action encapsulated in a photon.

For a photon traveling at the speed of light, as all photons do, time and space disappear. In some strange way, light seems to lie beyond both space and time -- and, since it has no mass, beyond matter too. Little wonder that Einstein once said “For the rest of my life I want to reflect on what light is.”

From Science to God reveals intriguing parallels between the light of physics as revealed by Einstein's theory of relativity and quantum theory, and the inner light of consciousness that mystics have spoken of throughout the ages. Their goal has been to still the mind so that the light of consciousness might be known directly. Then, they claim, we discover that pure consciousness is, like the light of physics, beyond both space and time. It is our true Self. Moreover, claims the mystic, it is divine. Atman is Brahman. I am God.

Not, one might think, the kind of statement a scientist would make. However, once we shift to a worldview in which consciousness is as fundamental as space, time, and matter, science unwittingly embarks upon a path that eventually leads to an appreciation of just what the great saints and sages have been pointing to all along. It is forced to consider the one topic it has so arduously avoided -- the science of God.

Today a new spiritual renaissance is taking place, one that affirms the intrinsic divinity of all existence, and recognizes the value of each and every one of us awakening to the God within. From Science to God concludes by bringing the spiritual journey down to the practical level. It explores the essence of spiritual growth, beyond techniques, teachings, teachers and texts, giving readers insights and tools to help them awaken to the true nature of consciousness.

Woven through the book is my own journey into science and God. At Cambridge, England, I had the privilege of studying mathematics with Stephen Hawking. However, although the subject fascinated me, I found myself increasingly drawn to the mysteries of consciousness. So I took a further degree in experimental psychology. Later I traveled to India to explore meditation and Eastern philosophy in greater depth. Upon my return to England I established a meditation center and began research on the psychophysiology of meditation. For twenty years I worked in corporations, creating self-development programs, based on my discoveries. I lectured around the world on the significance of inner awakening for the well-being of humanity. As my experience and understanding of the nature of consciousness deepened, I came to see how the many threads of my life were all pointing to a new understanding of God, and which was not in conflict with science, and which I have pulled together in this, my tenth, book.

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Overview of Peter Russell 's new book 'From Science to God'

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