One and the Consciousness Units
The following appendix is about the nature of reality and the nature of consciousness, the subject of chapter 7, under the assumption that consciousness is a fundamental and irreducible aspect of all that is. These ideas are clearly speculative and most likely non-falsifiable based on the current axioms of physics. On the other hand, the widely accepted assumptions about the nature of reality cannot explain the existence and the properties of consciousness. I believe that to explain both objective and subjective reality we need to start from a different set of concepts than the current ones in which consciousness may only emerge with classical living organisms.
Many of the ideas described below originate from the “perennial philosophy” expressed throughout recorded history, starting as early as 3500 years ago in the Vedas, the philosophical-spiritual foundations of Hinduism. I recommend suspending the quick rejection of ideas that may superficially appear to contradict commonly held beliefs. Let the entire new framework emerge and then you can carefully reflect about the potential of this different “beginning” to explain the existence of both inner and outer realities with the crucial aspects you recognize deep within yourself.
Quantum physics is about information
The theoretical physicist Giacomo Mauro D'Ariano and his collaborators recently showed that quantum mechanics and field theory are entirely derivable from six purely informational postulates , . Quantum physics, therefore, could be interpreted to say that matter is simply "made" of organizations of quantum bits, or qubits, the quantum mechanical generalization of the Boolean bits used in classical computers. The qubit is obtained by the quantum superposition of two complementary quantum states: "1" and “0" as discussed on chapter 7.
Within quantum physics, then, physical matter—whether an atom, a stone, a computer, or a living organism—derives from purely abstract quantum information, information without any intuitive or obvious meaning. If we wish to introduce meaning and free will, we need to postulate the existence of an inner reality where consciousness and free will reside. This is not what physics currently proposes or accepts, though physics never intended to describe inner reality.
A few centuries ago, physicists had embraced Cartesian dualism where a clear division had been drawn between mind and matter. The recent progress of physics, however, has shown that reality is holistic and therefore there can be no real separation between mind and matter. Thus, mind-body dualism should be abandoned in favor of a monistic theory, despite the good service done by dualism in mitigating the age-old dispute between science and religions.
This also means that the nature of consciousness might be accepted into the domain of physics as a legitimate subject of research since it can no longer be considered somebody else’s problem. If we deny the existence of free will and consciousness, as many positivists do, then neither we nor our computers should be conscious. If instead we accept their existence, they will likely be irreducible properties of nature and therefore must have had a fundamental impact on our universe from its very beginning. I think that physics as we know it is incomplete because it can only describe that portion of reality that can be expressed with abstract symbols devoid of meaning.
As discussed in chapter 7, to explain the nature of consciousness, physics needs to take seriously the possibility that the quantum fields of elementary particles are somehow conscious fields. The concept of field must then be extended beyond its current definition within quantum field theory (QFT) because the quantum information that currently describes quantum physics can also be felt as qualia by the fields, or by some organization of states of the fields.
I should point out that the measurable matter of our physical world can only represent abstract Boolean information describable with bits. It cannot represent the quantum information that requires entangled qubits currently represented with vectors in a complex multi-dimensional space called Hilbert space. Quantum computers, for example, cannot exist entirely in our physical world in the sense that only the setting up of the program and the recording of the result of the computation can be done in our classical world, but the quantum information processing itself cannot be performed in our space-time.
However, quantum computers, as currently conceived, are deterministic and therefore they cannot support the free-will decisions of conscious entities because those decisions could not be known a priori by a deterministic quantum (or classical) algorithm. In other words, no algorithm can possibly compute the actual state that will manifest in our physical reality if that state is determined by a free-will choice. To have both free will and consciousness requires a more general quantum system than a deterministic quantum computer. It takes a system capable of freely choosing a specific quantum or classical state to manifest, and perhaps even choosing, or creating, which operator to use.
The universe is dynamic and holistic
As above so below, as within so without, as the universe so the soul.
The quantum universe is not only a highly dynamic world but is also an indivisible whole—a holistic system. Imagine an infinite ocean in which waves keep emerging, changing, and disappearing without leaving a trace—forms that never repeat themselves and have no permanence. This type of universe could not have any identifiable parts because there would be nothing with any permanence. It would simply be an indivisible wholeness. The universe described by quantum physics, however, appears to be less general than the one just portrayed, because it contains many identifiable quantum fields, “parts” that have something that persists, something that makes their identification possible, while they are also indivisible and inseparable from the whole.
For example, the quantum field of electrons produces “forms” that all behave the same way. That field can then be identified by the indistinguishability of the electrons (quanta) it manifests. This field should then be called part-whole because it is not the only field and yet it has no boundaries, for it extends throughout the whole, it is inseparable from the whole, and yet it can be identified because its signature “waves” have something repeatable that “reveal” its identity, otherwise it could not be identified.
Parts-whole can be influenced by the whole, top-down, in addition to combining from the bottom-up into hierarchies of states. This whole-to-part feedback is represented by quantum entanglement, a remarkable property in which interacting fields create states with joint nonlocal properties that are independent of space and time.
Interestingly, top-down and bottom-up influences are also present in general relativity. Before special and general relativity, space, time, mass, and energy were considered completely independent variables. With the experimental verification of general relativity, we now know that they are not. Space and time are not absolute, as Newton assumed, but the structure of space depends in part on time, mass, and energy in ways unknown to classical physics. And the same is true for the other three variables, though in many cases the influences between them are so small as to be negligible for everyday practical situations.
It is only because these dependencies are either small enough to be ignored, or can be accounted for, that we can mathematically solve certain classes of problems. Otherwise, we would encounter insurmountable difficulties. Just the fact that these influences exist, though, makes a fundamental difference because even small effects can be amplified and become relevant due to the nonlinearities existing in nature. In our holistic and dynamic universe, there are already clear examples that the whole influences the parts-whole. For instance, in general relativity the global mass distribution determines the local geometry of space-time, as previously discussed, and in quantum physics the feedback from the whole to the parts-whole manifests in the existence of entanglement.
Another general feature of our holistic physical universe is that the quantum fields self-organize hierarchically to create complex systems like molecules, living organisms, and the overall ecosystem of our planet. Out of this process, nucleons, atoms, molecules, cells, organs, animals, and so on emerge. These are ever more complex hierarchies of connections between groups of states among the quantum fields.
Notice that since ontology resides only in the quantum fields, the “stuff” of which all hierarchical levels are composed is ultimately the stuff that makes such fields, what I called nousym in chapter 7. What we conceive as "atoms" and "molecules" only exist as particular combinations of connections among the dynamical states within the fields. These are ultimately “states of nousym,” the substance with the capacity to represent quantum information and qualia as complementary aspects of itself.
One and the Consciousness Units
Why do you insist the universe is not a conscious intelligence, when it gives birth to conscious intelligences?
One is defined as All that exists. To manifest a universe like the one we know, One must be dynamic, holistic, and have both interiority and exteriority. Exteriority is what is currently described by physics. Interiority is what is needed to explain the existence of consciousness and free-will actions, the crucial properties that are missing in the current physical theories. Consciousness and free-will action express the capacity and the urge of One to experience and know itself. These human words are clearly inadequate to describe what moves One to know itself, and yet we share in our depth the same urge to know, variously felt as a combination of desire, curiosity, impulse, satisfaction, love, determination, and will.
Dynamism means that One can never be the same, instant after instant. Holism means that One has no separable parts, i.e., within One everything is connected. And finally, the urge of One to know itself is the cause of all manifestation and evolution, implying also that the self-knowing of One must continuously grow. Dynamism, holism, and self-knowing must then be intertwined aspects of One, facets of an indivisible whole rather than “independent variables.” This also means that existence and self-knowing may well be two sides of the same coin in the sense that coming into existence may be equivalent to being known for the first time. I think that to exist is to be known, and vice versa, and once known, that self-knowing can never be annihilated. Therefore, the memory of the self-knowing must somehow exist within the “substance” of One, what I called nousym. All these are assumptions, of course.
Where is One’s self-knowing coming from? It must come from within itself since One is all that is. Therefore, One must contain potential existence and actual existence, where actual existence is what One knows and potential existence is the self-knowing that is not yet known. In other words, potential existence is the “unconscious” of One, what has yet to reveal itself—the “unknown” of One that can eventually be known by it. For the remainder of the chapter I will use existence to mean actual existence and the expression “potential existence” to indicate what is still unknown, but knowable, by One.
I will call each “unit of self-knowing” a consciousness unit or CU. Thus, each CU is a part-whole of One; a whole because it cannot be separated from One and from the other CUs, yet a part because there are many CUs, and each CU has a unique identity that allows it to be distinguished and recognized from the other CUs. Like One, each CU cannot be the same from instant to instant (dynamism), it can never be separated from One and from the other CUs (holism), and it has the same urge of One to deepen its own self-knowing. The holistic substance that is shaped by the self-knowing of One and that can know itself and the other CUs through qualia is nousym. It is what appears as energy within physics.
Notice that One’s creation of multiple CUs, all connected from the inside, has also created an “outside” world—from the perspective of each CU. Here I assume that each CU can perceive the other CUs as “units” like itself and yet knows itself as “distinct” from the others. Thus, the urge of each CU to know itself will also extend to knowing the other CUs, since the inner realities of all CUs are deeply interconnected. I should point out here that in this framework, the CUs exist before matter, energy, space, and time. Thus, they can be thought of as collectively constituting the quantum vacuum out of which our universe emerged.
We have seen that each new self-knowing of One creates a CU. Each CU is then an entity endowed with three fundamental properties: consciousness, identity, and agency. Consciousness is the capacity of the CU to know itself and to perceive and know the other CUs. Identity is the capacity of the CU to know itself within itself and to be identifiable (knowable) as a CU by the other CUs. Agency is a property connected with the existence of an “outer reality” populated by many CUs. It is the capacity of each CU to communicate with free will with the other CUs for the purpose of deepening its own self-knowing and the knowing of the others. Communication requires that each CU be capable of shaping symbols out of its own “substance” (nousym) to communicate. It requires the transformation of inner meaning, which is private, into outer symbols (forms, states) that appear in its outer reality. This transformation defines action. It is worth noting that the CUs are conceptually related to the Monads described by Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz in his famous book entitled Lehrsätse über die Monadologie and published in 1720.
I mentioned earlier that each CU is a part-whole of One, therefore, as a whole, each CU perceives the other CUs as itself. As a part, it knows itself as distinct from the other CUs and can distinguish the other identities from its own. This would be a contradiction only in a reductionist reality in which each entity is separable from the others. This property can be understood in a unitive experience, like the awakening experience described in chapter 5, in which I experienced myself as both the world and the observer of the world. These experiences, though infrequent, have been reported by many people over the centuries.
Properties of the consciousness units
A single force, Love, links and gives life to infinite worlds.
A crucial feature of this framework is that experience—the inner semantic reality—is about subjective and private meaning, whereas information, the outer symbolic reality, is a public, objective representation of meaning. The outer reality of each CU represents its recognizable identity field with the superposed voluntary symbols that convey the specific meaning the CU wishes to communicate. When a CU observes another CU, it can only perceive as qualia the outer symbolic reality existing within the identity field of the observed CU. The inner reality of any given CU can only be known directly by that CU and by One, and no one else. The qualia perceived by a CU by the transformation of outer symbols can only be comprehended to the extent that the meanings of those symbols are known. Notice that this requirement also exists for us, since to understand the meaning of a new word, a person must already know a similar meaning.
Essential to this framework is also the idea that the symbolic aspect of each CU stands in some correspondence with its meaning, and that this correspondence is the same for all the CUs, given the unity of the inner reality of One. Therefore, it becomes possible to bootstrap a universal communication language between the CUs, thus creating an indispensable tool for the CUs to know one another and for deepening their self-knowing. This essential communication is also what leads the CUs to combine into a hierarchy of conscious entities, just like the quantum fields “combine” to create atoms, molecules, macro-molecules, and so on.
The CUs are the ontological entities out of which all possible worlds are “constructed,” and therefore the quantum fields of our physical world are organizations of CUs. However, what physicists call a quantum field is only the outer aspect of the corresponding organization of CUs. In this framework, a combination entity is conscious, has a unique identity, and has free-will agency just like the CUs. Therefore, the quantum fields of physics and the corresponding conscious fields I am proposing are quite different entities. By adding “selfhood” to the quantum fields, the nature of reality changes in a fundamental way.
In this framework, the urge of One to know itself gives birth to many CUs that can greatly expand One’s self-knowing. Notice that only One knows the interiority of every CU and every combination of CUs. In fact, One knows all manifestations from the inside and is also what connects all from the inside. One is the creative interiority of all that exists, partaking in the experience of every entity. What matters to One is the self-knowing gained by the hierarchy of communicating CUs. Therefore, One may even be disinterested about the outer symbolic reality of the CUs and organizations of CUs. This is a strong statement to make, but I considered it realistic since the outer reality is only a means for the self-knowing of the conscious entities, guaranteed to converge to the inner meaning of One. The self-knowing of One is the sum of the self-knowing of all the CUs and their combinations. One is thus within each conscious entity and each conscious entity is within One.
The CIP Framework
The set of symbols created by the CUs, like the words of our languages, form the ever-growing vocabulary of a universal language. The symbols of the next higher level in the hierarchy are combinations of these basic symbols, and so on. The selves belonging to a specific hierarchical level may comprehend all the symbols of lower hierarchical levels but may only partially comprehend the symbols of higher levels than theirs. The ever-growing number of public symbols of all CUs and their combinations form an informational space, or what I call I-space.
The totality of the inner semantic knowing of all CUs and their combinations forms a semantic space called consciousness space, or C-space. C-space and I-space form a holistic structure that describes the irreducible, semantic-symbolic nature of nousym, the substance of One. C-space and I-space are not physical spaces like the space of our universe. They are realities existing before the birth of any physical world. Physical worlds are called P-spaces, and P-spaces are essentially virtual worlds, as we will discuss next.
I call this overall conceptual structure the CIP Framework, where C stands for consciousness space, I stands for informational space, and P stands for physical spaces. Notice that our concepts of space, time, and quantum fields represent how we currently imagine physical reality to be constructed, though we do not really understand what these concepts mean. Scientists have postulated that certain mathematical relationships exist among them, allowing for predicting much of what can be measured. However, these concepts, as currently defined in physics, can neither predict nor explain the existence of consciousness, meaning, and purpose, which in this framework cannot be separated from the symbolic reality described by physics.
The creation of physical realities
The combination of communicating conscious entities, each with its own free will, gives birth to hierarchies of: (1) selves; (2) meaning; (3) symbols; (4) syntactical rules; and (5) languages. In so doing, the conscious selves create various organizational structures, layer after layer, in which to experience themselves and increase their self-knowing.
Since each organization must be held in place by the free-will cooperation of the selves, rather than through the coercion of top-down laws, the more complex the structure, the more improbable its construction becomes. This statement brings up a fundamental difference between the CIP framework and the framework of physics in which mathematics is supposed to determine top-down how a system behaves. Let me explain.
Within CIP, reality manifests through the co-evolution of the semantic and symbolic aspects of the CUs through which One knows itself. The “order of nature” expresses the order inherent in the meaning of One, which is also expressed in the correlated order found in the symbolic expressions of that meaning. In other words, the structure of the universal language of the CUs reflects the “order” within One—order coming from the coherent wholeness of One. Mathematics can then express only the order found in the symbolic aspects of reality. This order was not imposed by mathematics on these symbols, however, for it was discovered in the meaning arising in the dialectic relationships of the CUs. Therefore, mathematics is an effect, not the cause of the order found in nature.
Given that symbols and syntactical rules carry the essential order of One and given that physical reality is an expression of this language, there must be some correspondence between this universal language and the concepts and laws of physics. For example, certain combinations of symbols may have the abstract properties attributed to the elementary fermions, the matter of the universe, and the syntactical rules that determine how the symbols “lawfully” combine with each other may have the properties attributed to the elementary bosons, the forces that connect the fermions or keep them apart.
Ergo, the mathematics that models our physical world may express some of the order inherent in the universal language of the CUs. As such, it must be probabilistic since no algorithm can prescribe the choice of symbols to describe a freely chosen meaning. Such mathematics is therefore descriptive, not prescriptive the way it is used in physics. Moreover, a language requires syntactical rules agreed by all users and obeyed out of the users’ desire to communicate, not out of coercion. Within CIP, the laws of quantum physics express the syntactical laws of the universal language used by the CUs.
To learn how to cooperatively create a higher-level organization, it may become necessary to create special environments in which the entities that desire to cooperate acquire the necessary comprehension to be able to do it. We do the same in our world as demonstrated by the various educational institutions we have created for that purpose. I am guided in my hypotheses by Hermes Trismegistus’s principle quoted earlier, and this is the only sensible way in which I can explain the existence of entities temporarily “embodied” in physical bodies and interacting in a physical world.
In this interpretation, a physical world is an artfully constructed “constrained environment” that can give each conscious entity the feedback necessary to learn what keeps it from fully cooperating. The thinking here is that the unconstrained environment of C-space and I-space may be insufficient to achieve that goal. It would be much like kids left on their own rather than attending school, unable to learn what they need without a certain amount of discipline and guidance. Hence, I imagine a physical world being like an interactive “educational system” in which each entity can safely discover what lack of comprehension, or miscomprehension, keeps it from voluntarily collaborating with other entities in the construction of complex organizations.
If so, our physical world would behave like a virtual reality (VR) created in a computer in which sophisticated avatars controlled by conscious human beings interact with each other in a virtual world. In this case, the body that controls the avatar exists outside the computer and is not part of the program. Likewise, the conscious entity that controls the body exists outside the physical world in which the body exists. This idea has already been explored in chapter 7.
We are conscious beings existing in C-space and I-space, the irreducible and fundamental semantic-symbolic reality of One. And just like the Boolean symbols that make up the VR are constructed out of the quantum-classical symbols of the physical world, our physical world is made of the special I-space symbols that make up I-space, all organized by a large number of cooperating CUs and organizations of CUs. In chapter 7 these symbols have been described by quantum information, which is necessary, but may not be sufficient to fully describe I-space symbols.
The physical universe behaves then like a giant quantum-classical virtual machine created by a hierarchy of cooperating conscious entities. These conscious entities seek learning experiences by controlling “bodies” which are more sophisticated avatars made of the quantum-classical information of which the physical universe is made. In this hypothesis there is no central computer made by aliens. The computations are inherent in the symbolic interactions arising from the simultaneous “conversations” that a vast hierarchy of conscious entities are having to explore their own inner and outer realities. Within CIP, the consciousness that controls the body and experiences human life, what is generally called ego, may only be a portion of a vaster consciousness, the consciousness of the real entity we are.
If we start from the hypothesis that CUs exist before physical reality, the present concepts of space, time, matter, and energy, which are considered primitive in physics, need to be reconceptualized as deriving directly from the nature of the CUs’ interactions. This new vision requires a complete rethinking of what we have up to now accepted as fundamental axioms. Only after a robust and self-consistent conceptual framework has been developed, together with the beginning of an appropriate mathematical structure, can we evaluate its consequences and refine the model. The payoff will be a science in which inner and outer realities can be joined in a meaningful and purposeful universe.