Sunday, March 27, 2016

Unpacking Deepak's Mess: The Problem - Part Two

Note: This is part two of a three-part essay on reality and consciousness.

Shortly after “God Makes More Sense Than Atheism," Chopra penned another Huff Post article entitled "God Is The New Physics."  This is certainly not a new idea.  My first experiences with reading material that attempted to mingle quantum physics with spirituality go as far back as God and the New Physics by Paul Davies in 1984, a book I still own in my library.  Numerous articles, books, blogs, etc. cover this subject.  It seems that the mysteries of consciousness cannot resist some of the wonky conclusions of contemporary physics. Since there are a plethora of theories about how the mechanics of the universe work, and very little is really proven, it is fashionable for modern spiritualists like Chopra to grasp at the ambiguities, to play along the nebulous seams of debate by creating a belief system that supports a non-materialistic, non-biological interpretation of consciousness and reality.

Why consciousness should be related to reality at all is something almost no one questions.  I suppose we think that because, as John-Paul Sartre concluded, consciousness is always consciousness of something, consciousness must be associated with reality.  But, reality, as Being, predates consciousness.  While consciousness cannot escape reality (except through the power imagination, in which case it escapes by creating alternates), reality does not rely upon consciousness for anything, belief does not factor in to the universe as a whole.

It is easy to become disoriented when considering consciousness and Being.  Being, as I have pointed out before, entails everything that exists.  Being, as I intend it, is an enormous diversity of primarily unrelated things. Nevertheless, when considering the Being of a supernova or the Being of a tornado or the Being of human love it can seem that Being connects everything because everything is Being. "Being is."  Sartre rightly proclaimed the is-ness of Being. But the diversity of Being overrides the illusionary unity of Being. All Being is not the same; though Chopra wishes it to be otherwise. Chopra desires a "level playing field" in order to create a humane universe or a cosmic consciousness.  This is dreamy, fluffy, happy stuff that makes many people feel good, I guess.  But it hardly constitutes a sober consideration of things. It is, in fact, absurd.  This absurdity becomes self-evident when you consider the Being of weather systems or the cosmos.  Weather is. Betelgeuse is.

Sometime in the coming centuries Betelgeuse will go supernova.  That is completely unrelated to human consciousness.  That will happen whether or not humanity survives to see it. Betelgeuse does not care.  Betelgeuse has no capacity to care in its Being.  As a star it has no conscious agency or relationship to me or you. On the reverse side, anger and love and compassion and hate have nothing to do with the life cycle of Betelgeuse. Chopra wants to connect our intimate experience with cosmic consciousness in order to advance the cause of a spiritual (imaginative) psychology. Chopra wants to explain away indifference by promoting consciousness without biology. This is subtle-arrogance. There is no evidence that consciousness has agency outside of biology.

In "God Is The New Physics," Chopra discusses the great divide between religion and science and, like countless other writers and teachers, claims that there is a "unified theory" to be discovered by the marriage of the two.  In a nutshell, Chopra argues that "religion must abandon its claim to the supernatural." Meanwhile, where science is concerned: "The division between objective and subjective, along with rational versus irrational, must be abandoned, because it's a false duality.  All experience is subjective, including the experience of doing science."

This is a false choice.  For religion to "abandon its claim to the supernatural” has no relationship to science "abandoning" subjective-objective reality. The "supernatural" and "subjective-objective reality" are not equivalent.  Even if you concede miracles happen, reincarnation happens, ghosts exist, whatever, the universe remains indifferent. There is no Earthly miracle that equates to the vastness of space itself. Such an elevation is delusional. 

Chopra argues that the "consciousness-based universe" offers a better perspective over both supernatural religion and scientific materialism.  "In a purely physical cosmos, the most difficult questions lead to answers that make no sense whatever. Molecules can't think, end of story. Therefore, if there is a cosmic intelligence that exists beyond time and space, which under the old terminology was called God, it is the most likely basis for the universe and our place in it."

Why there must be a “unified theory” in place of materialistic or even supernatural (astrology, past lives) explanations of things is rather vague. Chopra seems to desire (believe) that there be such a theory, that everything in the universe be fundamentally connected, but that belief is not based on any science as presented in his article. Instead, he merely states that religion is supernaturally naive and science is materially bankrupt.  This has all the trappings of a belief system. Even if we agree with him on these contentions there is absolutely nothing in his article to confirm that therefore there must be a unified theory of everything and this is where we find what has traditionally been referred to as "God."

This is clearly an un-critiqued (subtly-arrogant) assumption on the part of Chopra.  There is nothing in his article to suggest the inevitability a "unified theory" or a "universal consciousness" at all.  The emperor has no clothes in this regard. “God Is The New Physics” is an idea that has been around for decades and we are no closer to "proving" it now than we were when it was first introduced.  It is merely a matter of taste on the part of Chopra, a racing to conclusions based upon unsubstantiated theories that fail to lead most physicists to any particular "god."

Chopra radically attempts to bring all this down to earth in “God Makes More Sense Than Atheism” when he mentions the two-century "tug-of-war" between science and religion, only this time Chopra attempts to "turn the tables" on science with the statement that "God is actually more rational than science and more practical than technology."  He offers five points in summation of his argument.  I will comment on each of these five points as he presents them in his article.

"If all experience is subjective, going inward is a valid means of exploring reality."

Well, no.  Here's where the subtle-arrogance of Deepak Chopra shines brightest.  He steers you onto a limited path of understanding reality, without you realizing it and probably without intending to do so, because he mistakenly thinks it is an unlimited path, beyond biology.  On the surface what he says makes perfect sense because there is undeniably a lot to learn about subjectivity by "going inward."  My argument is not that human Being is simple and shallow.  Human Being is fascinatingly complex. Human Being is wonderful in its height and depth. Still, he is talking about "reality" here and, as such, he is inadequate.  He is elevating subjective experience to the universal in order to establish a foundation for a unified theory, which is a personal belief on his part.  By saying “all experience is subjective" he is certainly correct as far as the perception of biologically based bodily senses and nervous systems are concerned.

But the unspoken assumption here is that reality is primarily subjective within animal experience.  In part one we saw that there is much more to the reality of Being than animal Being. Conscious experience itself is mundane and not recognized outside of animal life and perhaps the life of certain flora. Instead, physical occurrences throughout the universe far outweigh experience upon Earth or within a person.  Going inward in no way takes all of reality into account.  Feeling so is clearly arrogant by any reasonable definition of the term. 

Experience and physical occurrences are not the same thing outside of our life on Earth. Occurrences have Karma but practically all occurrences occur without consciousness.  A supernova is not conscious of human experience, nor is it connected to (or possess) consciousness by any reasonable consideration.  Humanity cannot experience the supernova, it can only visualize the occurrence after it happened. Conflating occurrence (Being) with experience (consciousness) is an old hat trick of new age specialists.

"In this exploration, new levels of consciousness reveal themselves."

No qualms here.  There are many layers to human consciousness and the exploration of them is useful in terms of living a more mindful life with regard to your own behavior and well-being, as my recent post on Sam Harris attests.  This does not mean anything other than what I just said.  There is no significant "connectivity" with the physical or quantum universal occurrences beyond your intimate ability to be more aware of what you observe and how it affects your behavior.  The occurrence is not affected by your consciousness at all - again, it would be subtle-arrogance to think otherwise. Nevertheless, human Being is capable wondrous expression and looking inward can open our awareness of the possibilities of living on this Earth.  I’ll write more about this in part three.

"At deeper levels of consciousness, perception changes radically."

This change is genuine but it is also the beginnings of illusion.  You have already gone off course by confusing experience with occurrence and by feeling experience is reality.  You validate this misconception with genuine techniques for actual mindfulness that truly do “work” within experience.  This validation leads to further subtle-arrogance by feeling that, because you become mindful, your perception therefore affects reality as a whole, or connects in a different way with reality. There is no basis for this except wishful thinking. In truth, it is more relevant to experience the benefits of looking inward without any impact at all upon the reality of occurrences in the larger sense.

"As perspective changes, so does reality itself, since nothing is real beyond what we perceive in some way.”

This is arrogance in a somewhat less-subtle sense. Your perception changes your reality but your reality is still fixed in space no matter how inward you go.  The human capacity for perspective has no meaning beyond the very limited human horizon of living.  Believing otherwise leads to all sorts of nonsense such as if I change the way I look at things then the things change in themselves.  Your experience of things has nothing to do with the things-in-themselves only how you relate to them. That relationship and understanding does not change anything, it merely makes the pre-existing discontinuity more manageable, which is a positive aspect of looking inward, despite this arrogant side-effect.

"The conjunction of the individual mind with the new source of consciousness is where God lives."

Yes, which is why, to put it positively, "God" is found within your relationship to your “perspective” and to the things you experience from your perspective.  To put it a bit more negatively, there is no "God" outside of your “perspective” and your relationship to things. This "new source of consciousness" is meaningful to the extent it can inspire you and enhance your capacity for compassion and well-being. These are things that should not be discounted.  They are real and meaningful.  But what Chopra indicates in the article is that there is a linear A+B+C+D=E relationship between these various statements.  In other words, exploring reality through inward subjective experience leads to an experience of God. Since we all know God is everything, our experience flows through God and is connected to everything.

What is the relationship between interacting galaxies and subjective human experience?  What is the relationship between El Nino and subjective human experience?  What is the relationship of the earthquake in Nepal with the human beings living there?  These questions about a very real reality cannot be answered within Chopra's five-point thesis. They are out there in space reality beyond human experience. Any connection worthy of deep consideration commits subtle-arrogance, confusing occurrences with experience, Being with consciousness.  The mystery of consciousness itself does not have to have any connection with anything outside of animal consciousness.  The desire to connect animal consciousness with everything is an understandable human weakness.

The truth is that this connection is motivated by unquestioned desire and imagination more than by actual experience and observation.  It is intimately human to connect with the “eternal” in some way. It is a very effective technique to use against the fear of death and anxious uncertainty which so many humans deeply possess and which rules their psyche.  The work of Joseph Campbell reveals this aspect of our humanity to us and the power of myth to address it.  Such actively created connectivity gives rise to magic and reincarnation and resurrection myths.  Living a certain lifestyle or performing a certain ritual will afford us a way to control reality or connect with reality.  The prior sentence has broad, almost unquestioned appeal, and serves as the basis for religion and primitive spirituality. Nevertheless, the fact is we could be wiped out by the orbit of an unknown asteroid or the Anthropic warming of our planet into inhabitability without regard to our "spiritual" practice.

(I am aware that if all of humanity "changed their conscious awareness" in a particular way it would be possible to reverse the human contribution to global warming.  But the fact we have no such earthly awareness presently, and that the event will likely happen beyond human control, or rather that so few of us have it, contextualizes the impotent reality of "cosmic mind." It is likely too late for humans to do anything about the coming heat upon this planet. A scientific, not religious, prediction by the way.) 

Just to clarify, religion and spirituality and imaginative psychology are not the only ones misapprehending consciousness.  Science has its own prejudices, as Chopra correctly points out, particularly among materialists and reductionists. In science's case, however, the issue is not inflating consciousness but, rather, minimizing it to the point of absurdity.  Sam Harris writes about this in his work. Consciousness is irreducible to neurological firing patterns and brain activity alone.  It is a collection of systems working together including biology, language, habitual and social patterns. This dynamic cannot be relevantly reduced to physical activity precisely because nonphysical imagination, belief, intent and action in the world contribute to Being.  

The Being of the nervous system alone is not the whole of human consciousness.  There are acts of spontaneous expression that can be traced to mechanical underpinnings much as the parts of an engine in an automobile.  But the engine is not the automobile.  The automobile is mostly defined by its use in the world (its Being) not by how it works mechanically.  While the basis of conscious expression can be traced to brain activity, the actual Being of expression is beyond mere neurological implications, though clearly founded upon them.

My personal opinion is that almost no one makes the critical distinction between consciousness or Being, either the differences between the two or the interplay of the two.  For that reason most human beings either unfairly sever the connection between the two or over-relate the two as being the same thing.  Neither approach has validity in my opinion. The vague nature of consciousness and Being allow them to become equated, conflated, inflated (choose your word) along their naturally nebulous seams.

Chopra feels atheism makes less sense than God at bottom because theism appears to offer a happier, brighter, non-materialist perspective.  As mentioned above, there is a deep-seated human (imaginative) need to have unity with a nurturing cosmos, to address uncertainty and fear within the context of a holistic paradigm of loving confidence; as if our intergalactic reality is a family, a warm, close, caring family. Which is a great foundation for certain aspects of human behavior but it is also the root of a misapprehension expressed in subtle-arrogance.  

Pursuing this path eventually leads to the point where "consciousness" is the mother of everything and has no biological boundaries at all.  Instead it is elevated to the supreme state, above everything, physics itself becomes a child of biological consciousness.  And what does the term even mean at this level? Consciousness is everything.
Consciousness causes everything in the universe. Consciousness is the cause of the Milky Way moving millions miles per hour through space. This subtle-arrogance isn't really so subtle.  Consciousness trumps everything so that means if you look inward rather than outward you will understand and grasp reality better.

Instead of trying to trump atheism with "God consciousness" we would be better served to look at our existence soberly within the cosmos. While it is true that "reality" is a representation and we do not experience things-in-themselves, only our sensory representation of them, to say that "reality" is an internalized construct is overly simplistic. An internalized construct implies an invention of an illusion of reality or the experience of the indirect nature of reality. Anything is possible within this imaginative construct.

Spiritualists do not hesitate to latch on to aspects of theoretical physics that cannot be confirmed via any scientific method, String Theory, for example. There is a growing controversy about the inability to form any sort of test for the further reaches of physics.  These "non-scientific" aspects of physics are completely speculative, without factual basis. The inability to validate such theoretical beliefs makes them more a product of the unsubstantiated imagination than of factual hypothesis  - and ironically they are more "illusionary" for that reason.

In part one we saw that one reason Stephen Hawking says, compared with religion, science "works", is science's ability to form an understanding of occurrences that allows for accurate prediction.  For his part, Chopra makes at least one prediction, that there is a “tipping point” for global consciousness, as I also mentioned in part one.  Such a massive occurrence is not confirm-able unless it actually happens, which it might.  But my bet is that it is hogwash because we have absolutely no reason to believe that it might happen.  

Phillip K. Dick had a great method for detecting ‘pseudo-realities’.  “Reality is that which is still there when you stop believing in it.”  Quite clearly, Chopra’s reality as it relates to humanity requires belief.  It cannot be factually tested in any way. Going deeper into levels of consciousness does not teach us more about the place of consciousness. The place of consciousness requires adherence to facts about the reality of the universe of space, global weather systems, populations of birds, diseases, earthquakes, numerous things-in-themselves without any necessary connection to human experience.  Any attempt to minimize this reality is subtle-arrogance.  

Parts of Chopra’s reality definitely benefit humanity but its ultimate truths lead to a basis for life that feels right but is nevertheless wrong, its primary assumptions too often go unquestioned. Questioning the validity of Chopra need not affect how we can discover many of the healthy psychological conditions he advocates.  But we should best do so on a foundation of where we are in space.  An asteroid (or comet or other space object) will eventually wipe out the world as we experience it. It has happened several times already, beyond human consciousness.  If the Sixth Extinction happens tomorrow then your life will be just as important and meaningful as it is right now, it just simply won’t be very significant in the cosmos.  That is our place in reality. 

By deconstructing what some see as Chopra’s “bullshit” we open ourselves to a truly authentic and relevant human existence.  That is the solution to the problem of Deepak Chopra’s Mess, which will conclude this three-part essay.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Unpacking Deepak's Mess: The Problem - Part One

Note:  This is the first of what I think will be a three-part series of musings about consciousness.

On April 22, 1715 a map of the United Kingdom was printed in a newspaper for wide distribution. The map showed where a solar eclipse would take place upon London and surrounding British areas at the precise height of the eclipse, which would happen on May 3, 1715.  When the predicted eclipse actually occurred at exactly the moment predicted, tens of thousands of ordinary British citizens, otherwise disinterested in astronomy altogether, were struck by awe. It was a watershed moment for astronomy.  The prediction seemed miraculous to most but a few understood the mechanics behind it, making it an inevitability. 

Did this eclipse have "consciousness"?  Was it planned or coordinated with any manner of intent? Would it have not occurred at all had no humans been living in and near London in 1715? These questions are obviously absurd.  It is definitive that the eclipse mechanics had nothing at all to do with humans.  It also had nothing to do with the moon and the sun acting with any “mutual awareness” of one another outside of mindless gravity itself. "Consciousness" of the eclipse was a completely animal experience.  Yet it happened whether humans were conscious of it or not, whether they understood the karmic mechanics or not.  It happened without anything that can genuinely be classified as "consciousness."

That is the place of consciousness in the universe. That is reality.  So much of Being is beyond the animal Now, meaning the universe trumps my personal experience in terms of what can relevantly be termed “reality."

Late in 2014 I read two fundamentally troubling articles in The Huffington Post by Deepak Chopra. They were entitled "Why God Makes More Sense than Atheism" and "God Is The New Physics." While the articles were troubling to me on multiple levels, their shared perspective also clarified something for me to the degree that I knew Chopra was wrong.  This clarity of wrongness was more felt than reasoned by me.  So I sat out on a long personal journey to understand Chopra's mistake and how to articulate a relevant response to it.  It has taken me over a year to write the following.

In essence, Chopra commits an almost imperceptible error because most of what he says fits so well into contemporary cultural values.  Yet, Chopra's position, despite its board appeal, is absurd in its fundamentally sweeping force and in its elevation of a very limited phenomenon. Consciousness is not vast.  It is rare in the universe and biologically based as far as we factually know. Yet, Chopra believes in a “cosmic mind," (or quantum mind) and that human consciousness is connected to the vast consciousness of the universe in powerful and meaningful ways.  The error Chopra commits is what I term subtle-arrogance.  

Though much of Chopra’s teachings appear benevolent and compassionate in their intent, he is, in fact, arrogant and misguided about consciousness.  He attempts to ground human reality and a deeper understanding of the human experience within a non-biological connectivity of things. By ridiculously elevating consciousness, Chopra artificially decouples it from its true place in the universe and, therefore, fails to ground it in relevance.  The result, in Chopra’s case, is human meaning centered in LaLaland.  It might feel good but it is not reality-based.

Human experience is, of course, supremely important to us as humans.  I believe life should be passionately embraced with a sense of wonder, an active inquisitiveness, and affirmed as a creative pursuit.  This makes life worth living. The experience of Flow is a great example of this.  It is enough and no further justification for living need exist.  If such justification does exist then it is an abundance, but not required for relevant living.  

There is no reason nor necessary implication to believe that reality is human experience or that human experience touches reality in a significant way.  It is only by seeing human consciousness as mediocre that we can gain an understanding of our proper place in the universe and obtain the foundation for a truly relevant, profoundly authentic existence.

Those who worship consciousness, like Chopra, see consciousness as a necessary and inescapable human concern that applies to some sort of larger, cosmic mind.  The human experience of “mind” is thus projected without any inherent justification whatsoever into the vastness of space, attributing “consciousness as mind” to physics, cosmology, molecular dynamics and every other scientific pursuit.

This is simply arrogant; but of a subtle, seemingly harmless, even helpful, kind.

Subtle-arrogance can be isolated by various examples:

  • Bestowing a human quality on the universe.
  • Setting expectations that human needs are answered in the universe.
  • That universal truth is inherently beneficial to the human spirit.
  • That the human “mind” mimics and connects with a “mind” outside of biology.
An extended example is equating spirituality and science as essentially different views of the same thing; thereby making science relative to spirituality.  But science is the practice of using tools and testing theories to broaden our knowledge of reality whereas spirituality is a specifically human expression and finite within our biology.  There are no examples of non-biological consciousness, not even artificial consciousness. Even Carl Jung’s famous “Collective Unconscious” (a concept I agree with in principle) is ultimately based in the biological underpinnings of the collective culture, it reveals aspects of consciousness that are not based in any particular brain.  If someone “discovers” an example of consciousness beyond biology via reflection or introspection into human experience it nevertheless remains biologically based; just because you make discoveries internally (and there are many important ones to be made) doesn’t lessen the grip of biology. It is subtle-arrogance (as well as poetic, inspirational, and other positive human things) to connect it with the whole of reality. 

Stephen Hawking, one of many renowned physicists who rightly sees that there is no inherent connection between human experience and the universe, has been critiqued by worshipers of consciousness for his comparison of science and religion. His comment that science "wins" over religion because “science works” galls the spiritualists, because it implies that religion doesn’t “work” as well.  While I find Hawking overly critical from the perspective of the importance of religion to human experience (I do not discount religion’s importance only some of its ultimate contentions), the spiritualists don’t understand what Hawking means by “works.”  Essentially, he is talking about how the scientific method leads to accurate predictions and protocols and approaches to life. No insight of religion or of inwardly reflective consciousness predicted the 1715 solar eclipse, for example. On the contrary, religion has historically interpreted eclipses in terms irrelevant to their occurrences.

The fact that religion does not “work” as well as science is also exemplified by Chopra in another HuffPost article contending that humanity is near some sort of “tipping point” for consciousness; that when we pass said point we will see consciousness in its proper, universal place. Yet, the true reason our species has not reached the tipping point of consciousness is that no such point exists.  It is a misunderstanding, and arrogant elevation, of consciousness.

This understandable error in the teachings of people like Chopra serves to answer a basic creative human need. It validates their existence and inspires them.  It also leads to erroneous thinking on a ridiculous scale.  To project the concept “mind” into the universe is forcing distinctive human Being onto a canvas that does not even acknowledge humanity, let alone embrace it.  I believe when you strip it all down, it is better to find a sense of wonder within a universe where eclipses occur completely indifferent to us and live life affirmatively yet grounded firmly in that truth than it is to force meaning onto the universe that is, for whatever noble purpose and positive influence, purely human fabrication.  By living affirmatively with a fundamental understanding of humanity’s mediocrity in the universe, all manner of spiritual and philosophical problems simply cease to exist.

Humanity is filled with a multitude of creative needs and expressions; this is part of what makes us human to begin with. But, because human consciousness is best contextualized as a decentralized aspect of an unconcerned universe, the expression of the creative need for certain conclusions of the worshippers of consciousness is misguided.  Its apparent importance to us as humans is irrelevant.  Friedrich Nietzsche understood what Chopra is trying to do in these two very revealing articles.  In Beyond Good and Evil, Nietzsche writes: "Happiness and virtue cannot be used as arguments.  But we like to forget, even the thoughtful spirits among us, that whatever makes us unhappy or evil can no more be used as a counter-argument.  Something might be true, even if it is also harmful and dangerous in the highest degree; indeed, it might be part of the essential nature of existence that to understand it completely would lead to our own destruction. The strength of a person's spirit would then be measured by how much 'truth' he could tolerate, or more precisely, to what extent he needs to have it diluted, disguised, sweetened, muted, falsified." (Aphorism 39)

The central problem is that Chopra and these new age physicists conflate consciousness with Being. As I have written before, Being has nothing to do with animal consciousness.  While you can certainly come to an experience and an understanding of Being by looking within yourself there is absolutely no reason why that understanding elevates YOUR experience of Being to all Being.  Being is distinctive with innumerable forms of Being that do not reflect any singular Being at all.  The workings of Karma have no central guiding force. Karma is where intention meets the accidental in a haphazard fashion. Karma can only be seen to us as humans in the past tense of how things unfolded to create the largely unpredictable Now.  It is the result of multiple conflicting, complementary, and (mostly) indifferent forces of Being.

Unlike Being, animal consciousness is the residue of biological processes.  Consciousness is limited by biology and this is where Chopra’s subtle-arrogance leads him to the realm of the ridiculous.  Biology sufficient enough for animal consciousness is a rare thing in the universe and it is the universe that is "reality," not our consciousness within.  We are limited to our perceptions of things and without direct access to the things in themselves.  Our limited experience fails to reveal a doorway to ultimate reality.  It does not “work” that way.  It only offers a doorway to human perception and awareness, which is nevertheless valuable to us as humans.

Most recently, Chopra’s arrogance has led him in yet another HuffPost article to trivialize the discovery of gravitational waves as “red herrings.” This is a rather obvious slight-of-hand tactic, clearly elevating consciousness above the physics of the universe - again, subtle-arrogance.  Can anyone fail to see how arrogant it is to minimize a new proof of a prediction by Albert Einstein, possibly one that could change how we can see the universe?  There is a reality out there revealed to us through our use of tools, not by direct experience. But Chopra’s approach is doubly dubious.  While making a red herring out of Einstein he simultaneously elevates consciousness as the real target for scientific understanding of the cosmos. This is misguided.

What Chopra doesn’t take into account is that our human sensory perception is augmented by the tools we invent, some of which are theories we verify through factual merit, others are scientific tools we build in order to expand our knowledge like infrared and ultraviolet telescopes.  The experience of science is not entirely, as Chopra conveniently claims, an extension of human experience (though much of science is very human).  We do not experience the infrared spectrum in any meaningful way; not like we can experience an eclipse, for example. Physical sight is more powerful to most of us than mathematical formulas leading to other aspects of the spectrum of light beyond our sensory ability to directly experience.  The perceived power of our senses (as directed either inwardly or outwardly) tempts some of us to mistakenly make them the origin of reality.  

To place your spirituality within a "cosmic mind" or any such “power” and to elevate consciousness into a relationship with the solar eclipse and rogue asteroids and the orbits of planets and the globular clusters and Super clusters of the observable universe is simply a subtle form of egoism.  

The discovery of gravitational waves is the result of applying a tool (the Theory of Relativity), not direct human experience. It reveals a part of reality that is without consciousness.  There is absolutely no basis for consciousness in gravitational waves. We did not even know about them and they were there all along, Being their thing-in-itself. It is far more likely that gravitational waves are part of reality without consciousness than it is to primitively attribute human characteristics to realms of reality without humanity. These waves have Being regardless of our awareness of them, independent of consciousness, because Being is largely without consciousness.  Their Being is revealed to us by the fact humans can create tools to expand our knowledge of things we cannot be conscious of. There is a revealed aspect to the universe that has nothing to do with human experience.

“Conscious” expression certainly has Being. But Being is more than this and transcends biology altogether. The movement of the Milky Way, the form of the Delicate Arch, the eruption of a volcano, the emergence of a typhoon, the gravitational interaction of the Sun and the Earth and the Moon are all examples of Being.  But, it is a misapprehension to classify these aspects of Being as "conscious."  They are physical occurrences, they have the quality to Be in space and time but they are not consciously attempting to control anything or deal with the internal struggles and joys of what we call consciousness.

When we delve into human consciousness (and unconsciousness) we truly encounter a myriad of realities. There is salvation for some, enlightenment for others, occult powers, self-mastery, mindfulness, nightmares, love, fear, courage, arrogance, forgiveness, understanding, desire, well-being, artistic inspiration, and empowerment and control. Any of these could be experienced in any combination. Many individuals experiencing any of these believe they have distilled experience down to the prime experience.  That is the way internal human experience works.  It is selfish, even in its apparent approach and realization of alleged selflessness. You can't escape yourself, not matter how deep you go into your "inner reality." You remain fixed in space, not in biological consciousness alone.

Whenever a comet hits Earth, then you will see how relevant consciousness is to reality.

Although pop psychology stresses the importance of consciousness to our lives, consciousness itself is a very limited thing.  We make a big deal out of it because it is all we directly experience. Nevertheless, consciousness is biologically and physiologically limited to perceiving and awareness and personal expression. Consciousness cannot transcend anything because it is firmly embedded in biology which, as far as we can currently tell, is a rarity in the immediate universe.  Biology itself cannot be reduced to the material, nor the molecular, nor the spiritual for that matter. Biology is dynamically biological (variations of living processes) and Earth is unique in our solar system in its conduciveness to promote higher biological functions such as animal consciousness. 

In absence of fact, Chopra can only theorize, since his initial approach, while beneficial in some ways (mindfulness, well-being), is absurd. Consciousness is a particular Being of karmic occurrence.  Chopra's fundamental theory, put somewhat negatively, is that “Without consciousness there is no reality.” How do you prove that contention?  Where are the facts, not the theories? Chopra’s “cosmic mind” is a projection of biology where it doesn’t belong.  It is a vast spiritual palace founded upon the biblical-like myth that our “soul” is our "essence."  Over millennia the concept of the individual soul became “mind.” Rene Descartes addressed this in his writings although mature Buddhism already knew that centuries earlier.

When we project human experience onto the laws of physics or the tangibility of geology (Are earthquakes conscious? They sure as hell are real.) or whatever then we are taking the first step toward conflating and equating two very different things. Consciousness is a subset of Being.  Being itself is more than consciousness.  The error commonly made among masters of meditation and worshipers of consciousness is to reverse the hierarchy here or to eliminate the hierarchy altogether through religious and spiritual practice such that Being emerges out of consciousness, is a subset of consciousness.  This is, quite simply, an unjustified inflation of consciousness.  Experiences confirming this falsehood are illusionary and self-induced, but not without a certain advantage to humanity, as Nietzsche pointed out in The Birth of Tragedy. There is value in illusion.