I recently read Roger Penrose’s book about the nature of consciousness and how it arises, and I am again surprised and excited by how western science is running into the ’end’ of the universe, not on a macroscopic level, but at the subnuclear level where the most fundamental properties of the macrouniverse seem to dissolve and merge.
If you’re not familiar with Penrose, let me try to summarize his book in a sentence or two. He asked the obvious question – if thought and consciousness and mechanical action/reaction is supposed to arise in nerves and nervous systems, what is going on in single-celled organisms that have no nervous system? They recognize food, avoid danger, and reproduce in predictable ways.
Penrose followed a trail that led to the microtubules within the mitochondia of cells, where he found thousands of sets of protein dimers that have two states, like primitive boolean state machines. He hypothesizes that quantum coherence across a set of these dimers – on the order of 10,000 or so – constitutes the fundamental “signal” that underlies all neural action. What he cannot explain is how coherence arises and is sustained at biological temperatures, where thermal noise should swamp this most faint signalling.
I suspect that the mechanism of organic superconduction could be partly or wholly reponsible for maintaining such coherence. I have personally experienced the phenomenon that the vedic theorists describe as the “kundalini” force, and it subjectively feels like the cerebrospinal fluid starts to superconduct. The process begins at the base of the spine, where the “kundalini gland” is supposed to lie, and rapidly proceeds upward as the compound diffuses.
But within the cells of organisms, perhaps creation of such a superconducting chemical acts as a stabilizer or amplifying force. Perhaps the meditative/concentrative techniques evolved over the years in many different paths are ways to stimulate production of this substance, and/or to quiet the thermal noise of the “monkey mind” enough to let kindling of quantum-coherent state information arise from the Dirac sea into these primary receptors.
The mechanisms governing virtual particle production are not subject to the same space/time/causality considerations that already created matter is subject to. If Allah has left His signs “on the horizons” as the Koran says over and over, along with, “Surely there are signs for those who reflect” and “for those who ponder”, what better place to seek Him out that at that very twilight borderland of physical reality. Experiment after experiment in that land verifies His attributes – such as the recent Bose-Einstein condensate experiment, which projected unity of material identity across 2000 “separate” atoms as they approached close to absolute zero.
In my experience, the reception of information from outside the accustomed sources takes place, at first, at levels that fluctuate around one’s own threshold of awareness, and are only understandable as “spliced-into-normal-consciousness” by observing that the action-reaction thought flow is interrupted by a non-mechanistic thought/perception. It took me many years to catch the nonsequential element in this (this is also how telepathic information presents to me.)
Perhaps as individuals mature they separate more and more from the deterministic stream and become more and more aware of a non-process-oriented nondeterministic reality, corresponding to Ibn al’ Arabi’s “Realms”, which he describes as “the substrata in which experience actually occurs”, or to the ideational platonic realm described by Shaykh Hasan Shushud as fana’ al-af ’al , or the “annihilation of actions”, the first stage of separation from material creation, i.e., time-bound action/reaction mechanism.
Experience occurs there because what we perceive as “identity” is the ideational aspect of reality transferred from that realm to ours in simultaneous coterminous quantum flux throughout spacetime. Without that transference, we would have no existence or only have beingness as a formless “quark fog”, as one theorist put it.
I have experienced states of awareness, as an adult (I imagine that young children do it spontaneously until they learn to observe compulsively), where I was aware of process without being aware of myself. The quality of my awareness was such that it seemed to be floating frictionless on experience without any self-referential interaction. If there was a way to sustain that level of awareness, not of process but of the “objects of knowledge”, what might we learn?