Thursday, June 18, 2009

Review of The Quantum Activist

Review of The Quantum Activist
Documentary featuring Dr. Amit Goswami

Thanks to the nice folks at Blue Dot Productions, I’ve had the pleasure of viewing an advanced copy of the new documentary Quantum Activist featuring theoretical physicist, Dr. Amit Goswami. You may be familiar with him from his many books including The Self-Aware Universe or his appearance in the documentary What the Bleep Do We Know?

Most professors admit that they truly did not understand their field of choice until they began to teach it to others. Dr. Goswami’s mastery of quantum physics is quite evident. His textbook on quantum mechanics is still the de facto collegiate standard for teaching students the basic equations of that science. From reading his books and watching this documentary, it is also evident that he has a mastery of philosophy that is inclusive of many cultures, religions, and belief systems. All of this knowledge is squarely rooted in a true understanding of history and the evolution of human thought, and that is what makes him a visionary. It is impossible for someone to connect such far-flung dots if they do not have a deep understanding of multiple disciplines and how they evolved into what we now experience.

It’s extraordinarily difficult to produce and market a documentary of this type. Veteran intuitive practitioners may find the tenets of spirituality Dr. Goswami presents very basic in scope. But, it’s important to understand the intended audience. Over the last several decades, a bridge has been built between the realm where scientists reside and the realm of intuitive practitioners. Dr. Goswami was once far inland on the science side. This documentary is the story of his journey to the bridge and his continued movement in that direction. He mostly speaks in language that is grounded in scientific and philosophic tradition. It can be heard by those who live inland and still practice materialist science. If he turned in the other direction, he would be facing the bridge and speaking only to those who are already standing nearer to the center, and that is preaching to the choir and unnecessary.

All documentaries are a snapshot in time. Where Dr. Goswami is on the bridge at the time this documentary was made is not nearly as important as the fact that he is moving toward the center and doing it in a way that will eventually bring other physicists with him.

One of the greatest gifts Dr. Goswami presents is something that he first gave to himself, and that is clarity. He knows what he knows with precision. Anytime he is presented with a question he cannot answer, he is diligent to investigate it, drop old beliefs that are no longer relevant, and expand his framework to accommodate the new information while maintaining the consistency of his theories. It’s like a sculptor finding the art that he already sees in the stone. He is in the process of removing that which is not the art and we are the benefactors of his craft.

I believe history will record Dr. Goswami as being a pivotal influence in developing a definition of consciousness that works across multiple disciplines, which in itself is a grand feat. He does this by making the case for consciousness as the ground of being instead of matter, as it has been regarded by Western culture since the time of the Ancient Greek philosophers. This resolves a number of paradoxes in quantum physics including the illusion of duality and the quantum measurement problem that even Einstein and Schrodinger grappled with in the beginning of the discipline.

He is also building the framework for a new understanding of the multiple levels of consciousness. In doing so, Dr. Goswami is presented with the limitations of current vocabulary. It is difficult to present an entirely new idea using words that have been wracked in controversy and highly emotional debates for eons. At the moment, Dr. Goswami defines at least two levels of consciousness using the words ego and god. He does so because it is necessary for him, by some means, to relate his new theories to concepts we already understand. To add insult to injury, these word choices could also lead to unnecessary disagreements that distract from the point he is trying to make.

However, in the documentary, he uses inspired analogies to explain the different levels of consciousness and clarifies several misunderstandings that were made vogue in the 1970s that eventually led to misinterpretations of practices that focus on attraction and intention and why many of these exercises don’t work. He also elucidates the concept of how we create our own reality versus how we perceive and react to reality and then create our own experience of it.

Dr. Goswami has lived in-country with materialist science and he fully understands the culture from an experiential basis. His statement that physics does not deal with the nature of reality is not new. It never has. But, his charge that the current paradigm in physics leaves no room for such questions is a highly contentious declaration to those still entrenched in that way of thinking. The first big split in quantum physics was due to a fundamental argument between Einstein and Bohr concerning the non-local aspect of reality. Dr. Goswami is resurrecting that argument in a way that is likely to revive many of the old lines of reasoning, putting them up for renewed debate. And, that is the point. If we hope to think new thoughts, we must construct them from new models. Dr. Goswami has done his homework and is now shaping a new framework that will eventually lead to real advancements in human thought instead of re-treading old ideas.