February 25, 2020
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Peter Russell - Science, Spirituality and the Origin of Consciousness

legalize freedom calm why are we here where do we come from where are we going from the nature of reality to the future of humanity beyond politics poverty and war legalize freedom calm greetings and welcome once again to legalize freedom calm I'm your host Greg Moffatt and my guest today is Peter Russell who joins us to discuss the crumbling buyers between science and spirituality and what contemporary research may be telling us about the origin and nature of consciousness Western science has had remarkable success in explaining the functioning of the material world but when it comes to the inner world of the mind it has very little to say when it comes to consciousness itself science Falls curiously silent there is nothing in physics chemistry biology or any other science that can account for your having an interior world in a strange way scientists would be much happier if mines did not exist yet without mines there would be no science this ever-present paradox may be pushing Western science into what Thomas Kuhn called a paradigm shift fundamental change in worldview hello and welcome Peter Russell and thank you very much for joining us today on legalized freedom Comm invites me with you Matt Peter today we're going to discuss some of your work on the origin and in nature and the evolution of consciousness but before we start that perhaps you could just give listeners a little bit of your background and how you came to be doing this work yes it was a somewhat surprising for me because I was initially very much of a scientific bent I was actually a mathematician I loved mathematics and I was studying mathematics at Cambridge and then moved into serrator physics which is very very similar and in the background I was always interested in the mind and consciousness and didn't really give it too much attention but then gradually I just realised that consciousness was a huge problem for science and however much physics I did I couldn't see any way it was ever going to explain why you know I was actually conscious having experiences and it struck me as a paradox that the whole of physics takes place in the mind and the one thing that physics can't explain is why do we have minds why doesn't the universe just work perfectly well without consciousness and so that led me off into an exploration first of all of philosophy Western philosophy and a bit of Eastern philosophy and then into experimental psychology thinking understanding the brain would help me understand consciousness and it was fascinating uh to that degree in Experimental Psychology and consciousness was hardly mentioned I learned a lot about the brain and memory and the chemicals and all of that stuff but no one was really interested in consciousness itself and I felt the people who are really interested in that were these sort of Yogi's and saints in India and other places in the East who actually look to consciousness firsthand and I realized that was the way you explore consciousness is actually observing it in yourself rather than studying the matter of the brain consciousness is a subjective thing and so I got involved in meditation as a way of looking at consciousness and went out to India I lived there for six months studying with the Maharishi initially the Beatles Fame because I'd started TM back in those days this was in the late 60s and learnt an incredible lot there that was a very valuable time in my life just to be sitting with somebody like that and sapping up their own wisdom and knowledge and came back really with that as my sort of personal mission I think two things happened in India one I realized there was something to spirituality I'd rejected religion as a kid just seemed a load of weird mumbo-jumbo that didn't make sense and you know how could I believe all that stuff but I realized when I was in India there was something to spirituality meaning to the you know the investigation of our own in a world and the awakening of human consciousness and also realizing that this was going to be so important for the world that almost every problem with whether it's personal social economic global environmental problems they all come back to human mind human consciousness human thinking human decisions in one way or another and it struck me that we're functioning from a fairly limited mode of consciousness and if we're really going to successfully tackle the problems facing us we really need to be exploring consciousness and how we can free consciousness from it's more egocentric or short-term thinking and so that was really a turning point I came back and really set up a meditation center and eventually started writing books on consciousness and the role of spiritual awakening in the world today yes that's what that's how I began really and then then moved into actually teaching in corporations I spent about 15 years working in the corporate world not for any particular company but designing and running seminars on personal development which allowed me to bring in a lot of the ideas around consciousness that I was excited by in those times and finding ways to deliver them to people whose primary concerns were meeting their quarterly budgets keeping the kids in school that sort of thing paying the mortgage just ordinary everyday people and saying how can you take these ideas these spiritual ideas and make them relevant to ordinary people in everyday terms and that was a fascinating period I love doing that and you know over time within a number of books and made videos and things but I think all along the general background mission has been trying to distill the essential spiritual teachings just what is the essence of what all the different teachers are talking about trying to distill that out for myself and as I go along sharing what I discover with other people through talking writing recordings whatever as you say for modern materialistic science consciousness is what's known as the hard problem and with good reason and the crux of it is trying to discover how consciousness could possibly arise from matter and it always occurred to me in any case that what evolutionary purpose would that serve if we take the Darwinian view of evolution how would the development of consciousness it you know I thought to myself why bother yes well I think yes that question comes up I think if you if you believe that consciousness comes out of matter in some way it obviously the question comes up yes why bother why should evolution develop consciousness when what's it do I mean as we understand the world now you know it all seems to be a great unfolding according to laws that we are discovering and some of them include true randomness etc but nevertheless consciousness doesn't seem to be involved we should just be functioning as very complex biological systems processing data making decisions and life you know doing its thing through us why do we have experience and as you say this is the hard question the way the hard question was framed really by by David Chalmers who sort of coined the term about 20 years ago now you're saying the you know the easy problems of consciousness are to do with the brain explaining why a certain brain activity leads to a certain experience in the mind and he pointed out these are far from easy really but maybe in you know 20 30 50 years time we might understand exactly what goes on in the brain when you have a certain insight solve a problem fall in love or just looking at a tree whatever the hard problem is why should any of that brain activity actually lead to subjective experience because they are totally different brain activity is a physical phenomena and we assume the physical world isn't sentient doesn't have consciousness we assume that atoms don't have consciousness and the nerve cells don't have consciousness why should a particular activity in in sentient matter ever give rise to a non-material experience so that's the essence of the hard problem and so if you say if you believe that that is what has happened then the question comes you know a how does it happen why'd why does this happen and be is it useful permanent from a Darwinian point of view you know why does it add to survival I would actually I think it does it it does add survival value in terms of it allows us I think to focus attention it gives us it gives us an internal picture of the world which we can then relate to and focus our attention on things or what needs to be done but that you know that is that is a value it has but that doesn't explain why it occurred wide appeared now in considering consciousness and then dismissing it or perhaps not even considering it at all materialistic scientists tend to deny their own subjective experience and indeed I read something recently that we said I think which is a section from all of Richard Dawkins books where he was describing at what he said this is really what all that I am I'm nothing more than this and it was appalling and it seemed to it actually to seem to negate the evidence in front of him to the contrary that he was much more than that he was saying the e Wars yes I I find these sorts of statements most puzzling I was having a discussion like that at a while back with somebody who was saying well you know I don't actually I don't believe in consciousness I would saying what do you mean you don't believe in consciousness is what it's all just you know the functioning of you know nerve cells and electrochemical activity etc and I said but you know you are experiencing you're thinking about it you know you're thinking about this is nevertheless something that is arising in your experience and he said oh yes but it all could be an illusion and I was saying but then who is who is experiencing the illusion you know there is consciousness here that the one thing you cannot deny is the fact that you are experiencing and he kept coming back to all but it's just you know it's just a result of brain activity and as you say somehow people I don't know how you can do it overlooked that the the most obvious fact the only thing that we are certain of is that we are having experience that's the only thing we are certain of is that there is experience there is awareness we could doubt we can doubt our theories we can doubt you know even doubt our perceptions it could be an illusion a mirage we could all be sitting in a virtual reality but we'd still be experiencing even if what we're experiencing was a fabricated reality and the this it puzzles me it's like I don't know people almost like have this position they just don't want you know they don't want to accept the existence of consciousness yet without consciousness there'd be no science there'd be no ideas there'd be no imagination of what the world is about it's strange I just don't get it now I can see why or one could see why perhaps that modern scientists might want to just dismiss consciousness or just put it away as something to deal with another day because because they can't explain it but I've never quite understood lay people's kind of enthusiasm for dismissing it because I mean you can say that they can't explain it either but they can't explain a lot of lay people can't explain some of the simplest scientific principles they don't understand up at all maybe they've never tried but that doesn't seem to trouble them too much whether they're just repeating the main line consensus on this we live in a world where a lot of people maybe the majority of people feel that the scientific worldview is the correct view of reality and they pick it up through you know with its newspapers or conversations or magazine articles or TV programs whatever they pick up the standard scientific view and go along with it I think without really thinking it through I suspect that's what's happening and so they just they feel this is what somebody which are talking to said this and he is you know he's an Oxford Don whatever and he's so really important and written all these books so what he says must be right I suspect quite a bit of that is what is happening but also the other point you make is you know there's you know science ignores consciousness which I think you know there's it can have good reason to ignore it there's a difference between dissing it and ignoring it you know to ignore it says you know we understand it's our understanding of the universe seems to work perfectly well without getting into consciousness and since it's a whole weird subject let's just ignore it that's different from saying it doesn't exist or it's just an illusion or just a fabrication of the brain no there has been a paradigm shift in science one which occurred with the discovery of quantum physics and that entire world inside worlds Ballou worlds and just general weirdness there but it hasn't really been fully integrated into modern scientific thinking or practice or indeed the general consciousness and I think this is because something you certainly spoken about in your books and presentations is that there tends to be resistance with that with a scientists themselves and if I'm not sure if it was your phrase or someone else's but that science tends to proceed and one funeral at a time yes that was somebody I forget who it was now who was actually paraphrasing Max Planck the quantum physicist to what Max Planck said was new scientific ideas coming to get accepted not because scientists changed their minds but the old scientist eventually died out so he was saying basically pointing out that we hold on to our idea we're more attached to our ideas and beliefs and just about anything else and this was what Thomas Kuhn who really coined the term paradigm about what 4050 years ago in his book these was a history and structure of scientific revolutions I think that was a title he coined the idea of paradigm and what he showed was that just this thing that we don't change our thinking easily and that science progresses through these sudden shifts of framework of theory but they take a long time to happen and you know the classic case was you know Copernicus coming along with after the being 1,500 years of the basic belief seeing that the earth was the center of the universe and everything went around it but there was the problem of the planets why do the planets move as they did and Plato said everything moved on circles and obviously the planets wandered around the sky packed the Greek word Planeta means to wander and Copernicus came up with his idea but the establishment then was the church and you know he wouldn't even publish because he was scared of what the church would say when Copernicus 70 years later signed up Copernicus Galileo 70 years later looked through his telescope and came up with evidence to support Copernicus it said the Cardinals refused to look down the telescope because they knew he must be wrong and it was only really another 70 years after that when Newton came along and did the mathematics and proved it was right that the idea got accepted so it takes it takes a while for new ideas to to settle in and I think that I think that's what's happening with consciousness we're at the stage where there's a lot of things that don't quite fit but we're holding on to the old materialistic model because that's the that's the currently accepted view and we're trying to fit consciousness into basically a materialistic worldview we're trying to fit something that's in essence non material into a materialistic worldview now you mentioned Newton and since his time and a lot of the understandings of the world that he initiated even though this was a guy who had a vast library of books on our chemical subjects in all sorts of other quote magical things but our way of understanding the world has seen a divide a hard divide between science and spirituality and it's been a relatively short period of time before that started to be unpicked again certainly a lot of work that's gone on in the world of quantum physics has begun as led people reluctantly or otherwise back to a situation existed maybe for thousands of years before that maybe all of human existence before that we just don't know where science and spirituality weren't necessarily separate disciplines yes in a way science has only existed in its current form for a few hundred years it but sort of people like Rene Descartes and bacon in England sort of formulated the idea of studying the physical world that we could actually measure it and study it and before then it's like the study of the world was very much within a religious context and for Europe that was primarily a judeo-christian context with a little bit of Islamic influence but that that was the context in which we studied the world so it was like it was within that context of an almighty deity and who we were the you know pride of his world or whatever and there was some science but it was it was within that context and then there was this division that happened in fact I think it was Rene Descartes who said and they called himself a natural philosophy said let us natural philosophers study the natural world and we will leave the world of the mind to the to the church but saying that because you knew if he you know stood on the toes of the church in those days you're liable to get burnt at the stake so I think that's when the division started happening and then just progressively as we've understood more and more of the world and and that understanding is so powerful understanding you know of the physical world particularly if you take quantum mechanics and you know our computers you know your cell phone you know what we're communicating with now it depends heavily on our understanding of quantum mechanics in terms of how the chips work etc that worldview is so successful in itself so powerful that consciousness has just got ignored sidelines we don't we don't bother with it and so the world of the mind has been left to the church and the church has been almost completely sidelined because we say you know the world of what we understand from a scientific point of view Trump's whatever the church says about how the origin came into being and so that's just it's left on the left on the back shelf more or less but in sort of throwing out the religious point of view we've actually thrown out I think the whole depth of wisdom and understanding which exists in spiritual traditions beyond their particular metaphysics of how the world came into being but I think they all contain a deep understanding about the nature of consciousness and how we can liberate our own minds and of course the scientific approach to this even a scientific thinking in non scientists as the tendency to make us consider consciousness as a thing as you alluded to earlier just one among many phenomena for us to understand but of course that's a kind of a bit of a cooler psyche and a trap in its own in its own right I think this is one of the most fundamental mistakes we make without even realizing it as soon as we talk about consciousness and at NES onto something we turn an adjective into a noun in order to talk about it you're like we might talk about you know sadness or happiness we're talking about the you know the quality of being happy or sad but we talk about it with a noun we do the same thing with consciousness we're really talking about the quality of being conscious which as I said earlier is something we all know we are all conscious we can all say yes I am an experiencing conscious being and then well then we start asking what is consciousness and immediately we do that we've actually taken a step in the wrong direction because we end up as like conscious we are it is our own conscious self which is then making an object of consciousness as something separate to be studied looked at defined measured even and as soon as we do that we're looking for something else besides the very quality of being conscious so I think that's that's the fundamental mistake is actually talking about consciousness as some thing with almost like an independent existence and I see that time and time again when you look at you know where scientists are beginning to explore the subject they they are looking at it as something to be defined and then looked at and rather than recognizing it is the very essence of that which is doing the defining doing the knowing it is it is our ability consciousness I would say is our ability to actually know an experience you mentioned a moment ago that you could make an argument for consciousness having an evolutionary purpose giving a creature and evolutionary advantage but we also consider that we observe consciousness in our pets in animals in general even at different levels down you know sort of the hierarchy and the chain of other living creatures and then say what purpose would does it have in our and our cat or dog having consciousness I mean what evolutionary benefit does that confer to them because if we were to just fully subscribe to the idea of a Darwinian dog-eat-dog survival of the fittest world then why have consciousness I think is seemingly permeating the entire living world well I don't I mean I don't think the Darwinian view actually holds for a different reason and we will come back tell me what you're asking here and that is that assumes that consciousness was developed because it it had some value had some purpose and I don't I don't think it was developed from you know survival of the fittest creatures that became conscious survived better which is the basic Darwinian view if you have consciousness you're going to survive better therefore it's a good thing I see that you know consciousness is there in all creatures and it does I think it does have a value but it's not it's not from a Darwinian spective though there's a subtle difference there I think all beings are conscious it isn't that it came into existence because it had value but I think it it has value or let us take a dog line we can relate to dogs most easily probably because a lot of us have pets a dog is clearly a conscious being when someone says you know animals aren't conscious I think what they really mean is that animals are not conscious that they are conscious I mean one of the possibly unique things and I'll say possibly unique things about human beings is that we know that we know we are conscious that we are conscious and this whole conversation is founded on the fact that we recognize we are a conscious being I don't think a dog actually consciously recognizes that it is conscious nevertheless I believe it is having experiences it looks at the world it is seeing its own particular projection of the world and this is what I think in all animals there are the sense organs taking in data from the world and then the brain analyzes that data puts it all together and creates its picture its representation of what is happening out there and it's taking you know the whatever the light is the patterns of light the patterns of movement of air molecules that come in through the air the the smells or the molecules that are stimulating its nose whatever and it creates a picture of the world out there and I think that that is what the animal then responds to is that picture in consciousness and most of the time if you watch it you know a dog most the time it's sort of its relaxed it's just observing the world if something catches its attention then the consciousness gets focused which is something which is clearly corresponding to brain activity focusing on a certain aspect of the experience but in that in that focusing of the attention we can then pay attention to a particular point in the invite and it may be some you know possible threat or danger it may be a source of food it may be the source of a mate's and mating opportunity whatever it is the attention becomes focused and I think that focusing of attention has has a value subjectively and I think that that's what we do as human beings we that we're not like dogs as we spend most of the time with a focused attention because we are thinking about things analyzing things worrying about things hoping expecting we're actually unlike dogs and that we don't sort of sit back and just relax a lot of the time we seem to be continually in a focus mode which is probably part of our downfall because that makes the mind continually in a way up tight and tense so so I would say in a sense I think there is value to it but that isn't why consciousness emerged I think consciousness is an intrinsic quality of the cosmos but if there's any Darwinian thing here you could argue that if consciousness if being aware of the world having this incredibly sophisticated map of the world presented to our awareness if that has value over being a pure automaton if that has value then nervous systems which created a richer more useful map of the world would be favored from a winning perspective and that would be an argument for the evolution of the complexity of things like the cerebral cortex in human beings and it gives us a a better model of the world so you could apply a Darwinian argument to the development of the nervous system but not to the development of consciousness itself which for me is always present there's never a moment in which it's not present so if we then look at the idea of matter excuse me of consciousness arising from matter and realize it it's actually the other way round you don't have to consider as you say talking about consciousness throughout the cosmos that trees other form of consciousness in fact even rocks perhaps I mean if it's going to extend right through everything yes and we have to be a little cautious here because it's easy to I think mistakenly take what we know as our own experience and projecting that onto a tree or a rock or whatever but Judge justice again step back a moment here I the argument that everything has consciousness comes from the fact that it's it's almost impossible to draw a line if we say dogs are cats a conscious fish you know I believe you know spider in its own way has its tiny little map of the world and you go down to an amoeba or something a bacterium it would have its own little map of the world if you say you know amoeba don't but spiders do you got to explain what what is the difference and the the view that's coming in more and more now it's still very small it's a minority but I think this is the new paradigm is that it isn't that consciousness was created by matter but that an intrinsic quality of the cosmos of all matter is that there is an interior world there's an interior aspect to everything a subjective aspect to everything but the subjective aspect of a bacterium is you know it's like a billionth of what as is is virtually nothing but it's not completely nothing and you go down to you know just a crystalline structure is going to be a billionth of a bacterium but we can't say there's absolutely nothing there we have to posit that the capacity for experience is always there but that doesn't mean that a crystal is experiencing like we know it and a rock is basically a crystalline substance so I would say a rock has far far far less awareness that even a simple back hearing about a bacterium is a much much more complex system than a rock and the the correlation that seems to hold up is that the degree of consciousness which is manifest is a reflection of the complexity of the physical system and I think you know that's why we you know we have one of the most complex nervous systems on the planet and that's probably why our consciousness is the most is the richest most awake consciousness on the planet so you know T you know when we talk about consciousness of a rocket it's basically nothing there's nothing really manifest there but it's not absolutely nothing as tiny tiny safe fraction of a bacterium's a tree now a tree you know there's gonna it's in a way saying yes the cells of a tree are conscious in the same way about karyam is then we have to look at you know what is the organization of the system there there's no obvious nervous system as we know it in the animals or in the vertebrates but there's obviously some sensing of the environment and there's interesting research coming out in recent years about how trees plants are actually sensitive to each other through biochemical exchanges so the sensing going on and if the sensing going on there may be some sort of internal model of reality it would probably be very faint compared to what we know but I don't think we can deny it all together but I think the important thing here is it it doesn't mean that trees you know thing can have feelings like we do or that rocks you know have feelings it's that you know what we know of consciousness thoughts and feelings thoughts particularly I think on just a human experience feelings I think feelings most of the actually go so far say you know reptiles birds mammals have feelings for what we know of the brain there's enough evidence suggests that they have feelings but then you know I wouldn't think that a simple worm has a feeling it's nervous system hasn't developed that far yet so whatever the consciousness is in a bit much simpler structure it would be it would have none of the qualities that we actually know as consciousness well if you delve into the world of quantum physics the idea that matter is all that matters begins to dissolve as the you know fundamentals of matter itself come apart and matter increasingly begins to look like a or appear to be a mental construct yes yes this is I think one of the fascinating things that's been happening with modern physics just in the last the last century really since the advent of quantum mechanics and where we've gone from there before we thought that matter was obviously you know solid material and then we started realizing it was just elementary particles orbiting each other and most of that was empty space I started using allergies if you you know made thee made a nucleus of an atom the size of a golf ball then the electron to be like peas flying around two or three hundred feet away be like a football stadium with a golf ball in the middle and peas flying around the stands and that's just almost totally empty space and then what we realized was even that isn't true that the you know the nucleus the protons and neutrons the electrons aren't actually particles at all we call them particles that's just how we imagined them and we get trapped into thinking because we call them particles that they actually are particles we're now discovering they're not particles at all they're sort of we don't even know what's there it's like there's energy changes which we can measure all those probabilities rather of energy changes happening and in the end all we know is the mathematics in modern quantum theory there's about six or seven different contenders to explain what's going on they call the interpretations of quantum mechanics and the most popular one is what's called the Copenhagen convention which says that when we observe something what's called the wave equation which is the mathematical equation of the different probabilities of things occurring collapses into a certain reality but that's just one possible interpretation the many-worlds interpretation says no when you you know all the realities coexist and in just an almost infinite number of universes and then there's you know David Bohm has another interpretation that it's much more mechanistic one that things actually there is a there is an underlying reality so there's these different interpretations and all of the interpretations are actually taken from human experience we take what we know in experience and projected onto the mathematics and you could say that physics is actually mathematics plus models projected onto it in order to understand the mathematics and there's one school of quantum mechanics which is I suppose my favorite school which is called shut up and do the math which basically means the math works all these interpretations are almost inevitably floor because their interpretations we don't know what's happening and maybe there's in a sense nothing happening there was just the mathematics mathematics is describing the the exchange of energy and information in the physical world that's about all we can say is that there is this there is something there was a physical world where there was activity there are energy exchanges there is information there and then we as human beings take in that information through the senses and then the brain as I mentioned very cleverly puts it all together and then we experience this model this map of the world but the map we experience is actually nothing like what is out there I mean a simple example of that is you know you experience a color you see red for example there's no such thing is red light there's light of a certain frequency or certain energy and even that is just a model in the mind it's just a concept we've come up with and there's no you know red light nerve fibers or anything the brain analyzes the frequencies and puts it all together the redness only appears in the mind it's a creation in the mind and that's true of everything we experience I mean you're listening to my voice there's air molecules moving backwards and forwards stimulating your eardrum that's all there is my voice doesn't exist out there there's just movement of ear with a lot of other things are affecting it and then the brain very carefully very cleverly extracts the vibrations which would do with my voice and gives you the sound of my voice which you then here and you start interpreting it and understanding it and it's the same with matter it seems there's no matter actually out there as what a hands beater juror German physicist I love said whatever matter is made of it's not made of matter we don't know what it is but it's not solid matter out there our concept of solid matter is part of how the brain presents to us it's model of the world so that we can then understand it relate to it interact with it but it leaves the conclusion that in the end matter is a construct in the mind which is the opposite of where we started which is you know how does mind how does consciousness come out of matter we end up with the opposite position of how does matter how does the experience of matter arise in consciousness it's the complete reverse if we take consciousness then as the ground of being the we can angle one further and say okay well why is there any consciousness why should there be something rather than nothing and I've actually read some relatively new research and ideas recently that a lot of it based in mathematics but that something from nothing is possible I either the vacuum being far from empty and not only has something from nothing possible it's likely and maybe even necessary yes yes I'm familiar with some of these ideas which are is that they're coming out of quantum mechanics and the fact that the you know the nothingness of what's called the vacuum state is continually like frothing with particles which come into existence and disappear again there's that level of activity going on and yes it does seem that you know something can come out of nothing and is almost as you say inevitable it's happening the whole time and we're beginning to understand that but all of that is still taking place sorry our understanding of all of that is still taking place within a materialistic mindset and so we're talking about how matter the matter of an electron or whatever it is can come into being out of nothing the direction I'm meaning in more and more these days is to say that there is only altom utley again consciously this isn't quite the right word but the the underlying field is a field of awareness and it is it is the awareness which is in a sense bubbling and creating for itself the experience of matter and it and I think that all you could say that always has been that capacity for awareness is what is what has always been there that's what so many of the you know bears metaphysical teachings point to that they've come to it from different conclusions but I'm seeing we can begin to see that from a Western scientific perspective we can begin to argue that in the end the matter everything we know is that arising in consciousness and the the fight in the final analysis there is only awareness there that the universe is an incredibly sophisticated complex field of knowing that is continually evolving and in that evolving coming to know itself more and more fully so then you could posit the question then I mean is it possible that there is nothing in the sense that we understand that there is something that actually it is just an experience of awareness of consciousness it yes I would say we can there is nothing in the sense of no thing not that not that nothing exists but no I think this important section no thing because I would argue that thickness is actually what the mind in its having a representation of the world creates the concept or the actual not just the concept it creates the experience of things and separate things and that's a very useful thing to do and if we are as biological beings navigating this world then if our model of the world has things in it and we can see separate things and we know to avoid certain things whatever that's a very very useful thing so the thinness I think thinness is the way consciousness maps the world but what we're understanding about the actual world in itself every time we try and you know go and say what is this what is matter what is the thickness it just dissolved it just disappears fundamental particles the more we look at them they just dissolve they're disappearing and I think we're forced to the conclusion now we're not actually coming to the conclusion but we're being pushed in this direction of actually accepting there is no thing there but that's not there's nothing I would say there is this there is this field incredibly complex ly structured field and the observation of that field creates the experience of things but there's no actual things in the field it's just this continually evolving interfere interacting with itself all familiar with the biblical phrase and God said let there be light and we hear a lot of talking new-age circles by us being light beings and there's research in the quantum realm thinking of light speed and virtual particles and beyond light speed tachyons and all of that tying in to the idea that there's because light itself doesn't experience it's not subject to normal space-time rules and I know you've spoken of parallels between light and consciousness yes it's something I've played with a lot and thought about a lot in fact when I was studying theoretical physics I was deeply fascinated by light the nature of light and the thing that initially caught my attention was from Einstein's theory relativity and I think that's one things you're pointing to is that what Einstein showed was that the faster you go the slower time goes more space contracts and also that the more massive you become that the speed of if you ever traveled at the speed of light then time would stop and space or distance in the direction of travel would contract to zero and people just ignore that many people pointing it out Einstein looked at it many people looked at this but it seemed that because nothing can travel at the speed of light because it's mass would become infinite so nothing can travel at the speed of light therefore we don't have to worry about the fact that time stops we can accept time becoming slower but time stopping is too weird but I started playing with the fact that well light travels at the speed of light by definition and therefore from light's point of view which is a it's a technical term rather than a psychological point of view but from lights point of view in physics it would not know time there would be no time and no space and also light has no mass and therefore in some sense light is beyond space time and matter it's more fundamental and they looked at that and some of the implications of that and then I started realizing we also use the word light for consciousness you know we talked about you know the inner light I had a flash of inspiration or with someone's unconscious you know the lights went out or even enlightenment words like that the the word light has a lot of uses when it comes to consciousness and then I started realizing that you know what happens in in meditation when you go into deep meditation often there's one thing there's the experience of you know the inner light or the white light whatever but I came more interested the fact that space time and matter begin to disappear the time is something you know people talk about that moving into the timeless moment where there there seems to be no time and you're moving just in a sense where any sense of physical identity with a body with a particular point in space dissolved one's moving beyond space time and matter in the mind and yet there is still that quality of just pure consciousness the inner light of consciousness the inner light of being is still there and I just started thinking with this very close parallels here between how light in the physical world seems to be on space time and matter and the light of consciousness in terms of our experience seems more fundamental than an actual experience of space time and matter and it's almost like light is somehow almost like it's the first manifestation from the no thingness whatever the no thickness is this field of pure being its first manifestation in the physical world is what we think of as light and it's manifestation in the subjective world is just the light of our own our own being before it takes on a particular form or experience and obviously that you mention it that's something in many spiritual God is and God is light the idea of light being fundamental and it seemed to me that these two things were pointing in this in the same direction so whatever they whatever the fundamental nature of reality is it's almost like the closest we can come to it in any terms of relationship whether it's an understanding of the physical world or an internal experience or relationship light seems to be the the key thing no reality as we're experiencing it certainly seems to be real and I think most people accept it as real in a fundamental sense and our awareness causes us to identify with the self the eye and I think this may not be largely just to the fact that we have differentiated and seemingly separate forms but the sense of self and separation leads us to have an identity and different identities different beliefs different perceptions as things are playing out in reality certainly at the moment there's a great deal of competition not as much cooperation so used to be there's conflict and so this is whether this reality is fundamentally not what we think it is whether we're plugged into some sort of matrix or some sort of virtual reality program certainly the way things are playing out at the moment the problems are increasing as I say a great deal of conflict and we're not going in a direction that's likely to stay in this illusion for much longer yes several things has important important stuff let's I mean let's come back it first of all the whole nature of self here there's in a ways as this we can divide it into two areas there's the self which we identify with when you ask a person you know who are you they'll typically you know come up with oh I'm I'm a man or you know I'm I'm English or I'm a schoolteacher and you can tell us more you know who are you well I'm you know I believe in this I this is my role I I've done this in my life this is my expect patient these are all individual characteristics of this particular being their role in the world how other people see them and this is what's often called the separate self it's a separate sense of self of me here in this body navigating my way through the world which is there's a truth to this all those things are true in terms of what we identify with they're usually things that change as well you know we are a body navigating our way through the world and that sense of identity is very useful and people sort of criticize it and say oh it's just an illusion it's actually it's no more an illusion than the bus we're stepping on it's all a creation in the mind whatever the bus we're stepping on is ultimately we don't know but you know it's a very useful model which we have that's that's the reality of what we experience and so that individual sense of self is real it's part of the real reality in which we live and then there's the self if you like just the eye which knows all this and you know it's the eye that knows I am a whatever it is I am a man I am English or whatever it's it's the eyes that knows I am experiencing I am seeing a bus whenever it's the eye that knows I'm having this feeling and that eye is always there it's an essential quality of consciousness in a way you could say that being conscious comes with it this sense of I am which it isn't that I am anything is just it this is what it's the knowing aspect of consciousness that I am here and this never changes I mean we sometimes say things like I am not the same person I was twenty years ago and if you look at that carefully there's two eyes in there you know I meaning the pure eye that tend to being which has always been there that eye which feels the same eye is when I ten years old that I hasn't changed but the person my beliefs values have changed a lot over the years so I am not the same person I was there's there's two there's two senses of self there now and then this is what many many spiritual teachings have pointed out this is where they get to the essence of the problem really with human consciousness we don't actually pay any attention to this pure eye the eye that's always there we sort of overlook it and yet it's there I mean right now you know if I asked you to are you conscious you know yes do you know can you say I am we can all say yes but we don't we don't actually pay that any attention we get much more focused on the separate sense of self which is the me here navigating the world what do I need to do what do people think of me how's my life going all this stuff and that separate sense of self as I say it it's very real but when we believe that that is true and that is our only sense of self we then fall into a lot of behaviors which are geared towards supporting bolstering maintaining that sense of self we you know if someone criticizes us we need to know perhaps reaffirm our sense of self but also this sense of self falls into a belief which is really hypnotized into us from the moment we're born that says if I'm if I'm to be happy if I'm if I'm going to feel okay I need to get the world to be a certain way I need to get people to respond to me a certain way I need to have certain things I need to feel powerful I need to feel secure whatever and this starts running our life and it's this that I think is the problem because when it runs our life several things happen one we start engaging a lot of behaviors which probably aren't appropriate unnecessary we start using the world for our own ends whether we're using other people for what we want or more tragically taking from the environment using the environment thinking if I could just make more of just the right things have more of the right things I'll be happy it it leads to really an abusive relationship with world around and at the same time it causes us discomfort inside this is what Buddha saw it causes suffering that are wanting things to be a certain way are clinging to how things should be in order that the the separate self can feel good actually leads us to feel unhappy discontent to suffer and then we think oh I can alleviate this suffering by getting even more things by whatever it is you know gathering more possessions more experiences looking for security and so it's our identification with this separate sense of self that I think is lies behind so many of the problems we're facing today in the world not just global problems but social problems are personal problems and that I think is why so many of the you know spiritual teachings around the world have said you know what we need to do is to know the true self to recognize that pure sense of eyeness which is which is always there it's nothing where or mysterious it's something we all know but we just overlook it and get caught up in the world of the separate self do these destructive thought patterns and destructive behavior seem to me to sort of go hand in hand with a belief or rather a lack of belief that there's any purpose in reality in existence and it's a sort of post postmodern pessimism that most people seem to suffer from and they believe that there is no ultimate purpose and this causes a terrible nihilism I think so I don't know if you've discerned in your life's research and work and thinking and feeling so far if the there is an ultimate purpose here yes this is all these questions have two sides I don't think there's an ultimate purpose in something insofar as you know the purpose of life is to do this or get this or whatever because I say that because there are pulley on on this planet at the moment millions and millions of different views of what the ultimate purpose of life is and they can't all be correct if there is an ultimate purpose and only one of those views is correct and everybody's arguing about which one is correct I think most senses of purpose are actually human created there we think about the world and we come up with a sense of purpose and it makes us feel good to feel there is a purpose I have a purpose and so I think the intent of an ultimate purpose most of it is things we have conjured up and which we then live by and they feel good and they serve us but then on that there's a second sense in which yes we can some of these purposes are actually really valuable it's like and this could be an individual purpose or a person may their purpose may be to I really want to really foster education in the developing world because I really feel this is absolutely critical and that becomes their life purpose and that and that's wonderful but that again is their individual purpose that doesn't mean to say that everybody's purpose should be fostering education in the developing world so that's an individual purpose but what you're really pointing to is the cosmos is is there a purpose to the cosmos and I tend to I drop the word purpose because it's too loaded like there's an intention but what I see is if the universe is basically a knowing system if it is fundamentally aware it is knowing it is knowing itself at all levels of existence the universe self-knowing system of which we are one tiny part in us as human beings are a particular form of the universe knowing itself and so is an amoeba the universe is knowing itself and there seems to be a very consistent direction to the universe to evolution which is this growth of complexity and consciousness together and it seems the direction of evolution is towards fuller and fuller knowing of the universe and there are people coming round to the scientists who have looked at something called the anthropic principle which basically says all the fundamental constants have to be exactly what they are things like the force of gravity the charge on an electron things like this if you change them by a tiny bit the universe doesn't work and some people say oh that's just that's just the way it is we couldn't possibly observe a universe which didn't work and you know it's just a chart it's a one in a zillion fluke that the universe works and exists other people say no actually what is happening here the universe seems to be set up in order to arrive at greater and greater levels of complexity in order that life may arrive in order that intelligence may develop in order that the universe the cosmos may come to know itself more and more fully and that seems to make sense for me so you could say hey I don't like purpose about but the direction of the universe is towards increasing self-knowledge of itself and we as a tiny tiny tiny part of that here on this little planet are doing that ourselves and that seems and that becomes my own purpose is knowing how do I know myself more fully what what what does it mean to be aware what's going on what's happening in the mind to actually begin to understand myself and the more I do that I feel the more free I become actually the happier I become the more ease I become and also the more I feel I'm able to then fulfill a role in in society which is coming out of my own beingness rather than out of my sense of a separate self well this should give us great hope really for the future that despite the many disasters of the last two thousand years or even ten thousand years of human history that there's a possibility of ongoing evolution and evolution in consciousness as well that we can transform our understanding and perceptions of reality in air quotes of course and move beyond where we are now and certainly there's a lot of science behind some of these ideas as well that people can look into this is not pure fantasy or wishful thinking though I have read some commentator sagal with this idea of a transformation of any kind which again doesn't have to happen overnight it's not we wake up one day transform but some common tears said oh well this is born of denial because basically we're going down the toilet and we just can't bear to face up to it but then there was a did in the past you know hundreds of years those in the years this idea has persisted for example even though showdowns omega point idea there's a lot of this sort of thinking stands from well before the current crises that we're currently in meshed in yeah couple of things here one I mean I think the direction we're moving in this this three parts of it one understanding of the world through I mean through science in general is increasing an incredible pace which is accelerating and the technologies that are coming from that who knows in the future what abilities we will have so much of what we have today was magic in the past I mean you should just go back to the time of Mozart and you know show him an iPod he just said it's magic you know you can hear an orchestra through this little tiny thing made of a material he doesn't even know what the material is give him an antibiotic that's magic so much of the stuff we take for granted was magic in the past even you know even go back 25 years how many of us had email 25 years ago unless you were an or in the military point of even heard of email and now we just you know accepted the the web is only just over 20 years old you know and streaming is what ten years old it's so much stuff where we going to be in another 10 15 20 years let alone 50 years the world of fifty years time in terms of our understanding technology we magic to us and the way we are creating this world with disregard for the system as a whole for other people in the system for the planet itself for the environment we are simultaneously moving into we are in a state of real crisis which is going to deepen and get more severe this there's no way of avoiding that things things are going to get a lot lot worse a lot more challenging we could have solved them we could solve them now but obviously there isn't the political willingness the individual willingness we are sort of blindly going on and the third trend is there is this awakening of consciousness which I think really started back in the sixties and it was fairly naive back then but we've been working on it exploring it and that's moving head and all these things are moving ahead faster and faster and faster and I see us moving into a world where where we are going to have up as I say technology beyond our imagination to be able to do things we cannot even imagine today in a world which is going to need serious serious change and help like never before with people who are I would guess more free in themselves more compassionate more understanding than we've ever had before how these three things come together I have no idea but we are going to have the need the resources and the creativity how that pans out I wouldn't I have no art no idea any guess I would make it be way off the mark would be based on this reality now rather than the future but then you mentioned Taylor to shut he was very influential in my thinking many many years ago and he was talking about the Omega Point as the end point of evolution which is where our evolution is heading towards and he was describing that he was he was a Jesuit who's describing it in christian-like terms but it was really he was describing the full conscious awakening of humanity which you could say is letting go the letting go of our illusions of a separate self etc letting go of that on mass now he put that thousands of years ahead because he was thinking in a linear time scale as most of us do it's very hard of us that very hard for us to take into account the fact that change is accelerating it's an inevitable part of evolution the change is always accelerating the rate of evolution accelerates and when he saw television he said television is going to bring the omega point a lot lot closer just because it will allow you know the communication allow between people is going to speed things up just before he died the first computers were coming along and he said I think these are also going to be very significant in the omega point and if you look at the acceleration I mean we've moved way beyond the computers he was seeing but when you look at the acceleration how things are feeding back on themselves and everything is going faster and faster I think what he was pointing to is the omega point is actually somewhere within the next hundred years it's not thousands and thousands of years in the future we're heading towards something which we may actually experience in our own lifetimes given you know the possibilities of life extension and things if we don't totally screw things up in the process so I think that we are heading towards this point where I would say within this century where we could have the potentially the fall awakening of humanity with incredible technology and you know facing the most desired dire planetary crisis we've ever seen well I think in conclusion it's worth saying that as we all move forward collectively with us that it is important to have a positive vision for the future and I'm not talking about some sort of wishy-washy woolly thinking about you know mindless optimism but really to keep in focus what is good for for all of us and how we want things to be and whatever challenges we face to just keep focused on that and keep moving forward as best we can yes yes and for me that is I just hold I hold that vision of what we can become and holding it also just collectively but also on an individual level and you know it's one thing to say everybody you know people need to change we're too self-centered or whatever too materialistic I'm one of those people you know I have my own stuff I have you know I can get caught in materialist stuff times I can you know see elements of greed or whatever self-centeredness in myself I need to be you know looking at that in myself I am I am one of these people and that journey of liberating myself becomes an exciting possibility because I begin to see yes life life can be better there can be a greater freedom there can be more joy in life in myself even even in this current environment and my life becomes one of seeing that as a potential for myself as a goal that I am working towards and knowing that this is something millions of other people are working towards like we're all on we're all on this team of wanting to wake up human consciousness and it's like the light at the end of the tunnel feels you know so bright it's just drawing us all on and for me this is the only game in town worth playing no Peter you've written a number of books covering a lot of these topics and more including the consciousness revolution waking up in tain the global brain which actually deals with a lot of what we've just been talking about and the internet and also from science to God you offer DVDs seminars and workshops courses and you undertake regular speaking engagement so perhaps you'd maybe like to share with listeners and details of your website and anything else you'd like to put out there yes my website is very simple it's Peter Russell comm two hours on Russell is the only important Peter Russell calm or the spirit of now it's called the spirit of now but Peter Russell calm is the main address on which I've got always what about 400 pages now it's very organic it's things I just put up thoughts I have bits of books several of my books up there online videos I've made passing thoughts that sort of thing it's a collection of a lot of my work and meditations I really feel that meditation is an important thing I've just created an online course there called how to meditate without even trying which is really about the effortlessness of meditation so there's some there's things like that on it and also should mention my speaking engagements and whatever whatever else I'm doing it's my sort of I just put a lot of things there that it's a way sort of it's a whole new way of publishing that's not really publishing anything particular like a book or a video or something but just just putting putting what I'm thinking my own journey out there some of it is stuff that's been there 15 years some of it is stuff I'm sort of working on today anyway it's fun that's where people go Peter Russell calm wonderful well thank you very much for joining us today Peter on legalized freedom calm thank you I've really enjoyed it well folks that's it for another week as ever thank you so much for listening if you enjoyed the show please check out the website that's legalize freedom calm legalize – freedom calm where you'll find an archive of programs and many equally interesting and important topics until next time I'm Greg Moffitt and you've been listening to legalize freedom calm

Otis Rodgers



  1. Julie Wilson Posted on June 21, 2019 at 7:12 am

    Stunning, fascinating and articulate guest. Very talented, thoughtful host. Thank you for an interview of huge substance so beautifully explained. I will have to listen to this again … such a pleasure!

  2. JUST SAYING Posted on June 21, 2019 at 7:12 am

    His answer to 'purpose' kind of contradicts what he says.

  3. Merveil Meok Posted on June 21, 2019 at 7:12 am

    Life is Consciousness.- Emmet Fox.

  4. Sonny Corbi Posted on June 21, 2019 at 7:12 am

    particle light does manifest mass – (perhaps this falls under quantum physics – analog/digital) – to me "consciousness" is a given – what I want to know is why we are here and where we came from – kcuf all this infrastructure –

  5. DaddyCool Posted on June 21, 2019 at 7:12 am

    Really enjoyed this, thanks.

  6. PinUpEarrings dot com Handmade Posted on June 21, 2019 at 7:12 am

    the solution ~ change yourself: Picture a child you love very much at the age of 2 years old. Imagine this child before you and focus on the feelings of love you have for this child. Focus on your love for the child until it has expanded so much that you are smiling and feeling joy. After you have maintained this feeling for a few minutes, move this child to the side and place in front of you ~ yourself at the age of 2. Picture yourself now at the age of 2 and keep focusing on the feelings you built up for the first child ~ is not the second child as precious as the first? You are now loving yourself ~ stay with the feeling and expand it further ~ open your heart. Now that you know how to get into a feeling of love for yourself, you can change your age to focus on areas that may be more difficult for you to love yourself. Do this exercise daily and loving yourself will be become your natural response to yourself

  7. Psydrei Posted on June 21, 2019 at 7:12 am

    weak besides…mind is an illusion.

  8. Live Light with Alex Kip Posted on June 21, 2019 at 7:12 am

    Great ! Way to go!!

  9. Kitti Saratada Posted on June 21, 2019 at 7:12 am

    No one could find the earth and universe by eyes and thinking because this is the wondering world. You can seeing but cannot think and thought. Try to concentrate on the white screen or green, red and yellow screen. Our brain is an automatically by without anything. Look at the moon moves around the earth but slower than the sun 12 degrees every day. Test her by yourself. Stop thinking could explaining for everything. Amazing the Creator! The biggest problems there are too many NUKES.

  10. Adriano Bulla Posted on June 21, 2019 at 7:12 am

    I'm not sure Human consciousness is the most complex on the planet though… Maybe dolphins and whales have a higher consciousness than us; it would not surprise me. And Earth has a much higher consciousness than us, in my opinion.

  11. David F Posted on June 21, 2019 at 7:12 am

    Legalize Freedom, it would be wonderful indeed to do away with money. However, it is not money that enslaves man, it is man that enslaves man.

    I enjoy your interviews. Thank you.

  12. Knowledge of Living Posted on June 21, 2019 at 7:12 am

    Thanks for watching my video the other day! You're really popular and it means a lot for someone so big to reach down and watch the little guy's videos. I get a lot of inspiration from you! Keep up the great wo…

  13. Adriano Bulla Posted on June 21, 2019 at 7:12 am

    Just a silly remark: the ad at the beginning of this vide, a guy boasting about his new Lamborghini? Not really my thing…

  14. Eloha Posted on June 21, 2019 at 7:12 am

    I dont like to do this, but if you are seeing this I'd really appreciate it if you could view my music/videos on my Channel and give me feedback.

    appreciate it

    & Have a great day

  15. Bainsworth Posted on June 21, 2019 at 7:12 am

    If he speaks of consciousness as "a capacity to experience" which is what he defined it most in his video primacy of consciousness, but refers to inanimate materials having consciousness, defining consciousness as "intelligence" rather than a capacity to experience would make more sense. When I surrender into "I-am" I experience a liveliness of intelligence, like something, a presence is working through me. When a thistle is acted upon by the wind to find a germination point, one could say it is conscious from an intelligence framework, but not necessarily a capacity to experience. The thistle dynamically exchanges with the wind to produce an intelligent result, which is to germinate. I disagree with his definition of capacity to experience and would simply define consciousness as intelligence, or rather "automatic intelligence" or intelligence without thought

  16. stvbrsn Posted on June 21, 2019 at 7:12 am

    Yeah well, sorry to be so crude about it, but the reductionist, atomist, materialist worldview endemic to the BELIEF SYSTEM of scientism can go fuck itself.

    Oh wait, it has been fucking itself for the last 150 years or so.

    I bolded the term above for extra emphasis of the simple fact that no matter how loud they shout and how hard they stamp, the anti-mystics of scientism can never prove the nonexistence of anything. Their belief that matter is the end-all-be-all is just that:
    A belief.

  17. New Age Music Channel Posted on June 21, 2019 at 7:12 am

    What about the intelligence in the mathematics or structure in all living organisms or so-called non living structures ? Is it not consciousness that is inherent in all there is? Our experience is all information of an intelligent universe? All it is, is conscious being, wether we understand it or not. What we call existence is the expression of infinite being.

  18. Bobby Boulders Posted on June 21, 2019 at 7:12 am

    The anthropic principle is a great example of the division between materialism and spiritualism. One says that it is just an extreme coincidence that could only happen once in all eternity, the other calls it a miracle. The odds of everyone of us being who we are, here right now, are simply impossible. Perspective is the only thing that separates us. I believe everything is a miracle and for this people call me delusional or schizophrenic but they will never convince me otherwise.

  19. Tom Horan Posted on June 21, 2019 at 7:12 am

    Finally I've found a channel with intelligent discussion on consciousness that doesn't devolve into wild speculation and conspiracy theory…

  20. Source of Consciousness Posted on June 21, 2019 at 7:12 am

    The Source of Consciousness has been found…