Is Consciousness Energy?

My post about this interview: Mechanism vs Meaning 

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Dean Radin interviews Christian de Quincey

DR: The way that this seminar is labeled is: is consciousness energy. And before we go there I wonder if you would have a comment on the approach that Sue Blackmore has, and she will be our guest on the next teleseminar. Sue is a philosopher and psychologist and her approach to consciousness is to claim that it is an illusion. So would you agree with that approach Christian?

CQ: No, I would not. And it would really require a conversation with Susan, to find out what exactly she means by claiming that it’s an illusion. I am somewhat familiar with her work and my immediate question to anyone who claims that consciousness is an illusion is to ask: who or what is .. the illusion? And clearly only a being with consciousness can have an experience of having an illusion. So if consciousness is an illusion, it means that there is already some consciousness present to have the illusion. And an illusion can not have an illusion. So to just claim that consciousness is an illusion acquires much further investigation of what exactly is meant by an illusion.
So I would say that consciousness can and does have many distortions but the fact that the reality of consciousness itself is not an illusion and could not be an illusion, it requires a conscious being that has the idea that an illusion could exist.

DR: How then do you account for the consciousness as illusion theme which is basically the prevailing and accepted idea within the neuroscience today? Are the neuroscientists under an illusion themselves?

CQ: Well, there are two .. questions there. And one of the illusions is that the braincell or the neurons produce consciousness. And that really would be a miracle if as many of them seem to claim that .. the basic ingredients, the atoms and the molecules that make up the braincells, are themselves .. not conscious. Surely .. particles and matter somehow come together .. complexity, produces something that is completely non physical .. is impossible to explain. It’s called the hard problem in philosophy. So neuroscientsts or anybody else who claims that .. require purely physical braincells can produce a non physical consciousness basically means .. that they really don’t understand what consciousness is. This is not .. scientist do very important work .. but to understand the material events that happen within the brain is not the same as understanding consciousness. And that seems to be one of the .. that many .. scientists have .. very excited by .. but for them to assume that exploring consciousness is basically making a fundamental error. And that is part of what we can talk about today in our conversation is that in many ways neuroscientists are exploring are different forms of energy and are not exploring consciousness. That’s the first thing.

DR: Okay, that’s a very good distinction then. Since we are talking about consciousness, could you give a definition so that we know what version we are talking about.

CQ: Yeah, I usually do my best to avoid giving a definition of consciousness. I will come to the reason for that. A definition means to limit something and I think it is way to premature for us to decide what are the limits of consciousness. So that is one reason. But another reason, definitions are objective, go to a dictionary of wikipedia to find the objective meaning. An objective definition. But consciousness is not objective, it is subjective. So for those .. offering a definition of consciousness. What I am very interesting in is clarifying to me when I use the term consciousness. So what I mean by consciousness is the ability to know, to feel, to be aware and to make choices. Anything that can .. make choices and is aware .. as consciousness.

DR: So a computer that makes decisions all the time, like the ones that are used to decide whether an aeroplane should land on this place or that place, that is not conscious because it is not aware that it is making those decisions?

CQ: Yeah, it is not conscious. And making decisions is not .. what computers do is compute. It is not making choices. They compute zeros and ones, algorithms. But they don’t make choices and decisions. If by decisions .. the desertion of a conscious selection between options .. computers don’t make decisions, they compute and relate in calculations.

DR: So does this go back to the notion that consciousness has free will, or at least the ability to make a decision. I guess I am not sure what the difference between what a computer does, because a computer deals with an huge amount of incoming information and it .. in various ways and it does make an action which would look like it makes a decision.

CQ: Yeah, it can look that way, but I think we know that behavior is not the same as experience. Even though a computer may behave intelligently, that’s another vision you can explore, it’s an intelligent .. So intelligent behavior is not the same as intelligence, as the experience of intelligence. So a computer could be … behave intelligently .. but it is not itself intelligent .. belongs to the programmer, not to the machine. And the same .. computers. So computers are intrinsically intelligent .. designed by intelligent beings they can behave in an intelligent ways. One of the intelligent ways is to very rapidly to compute large quantities of data and information. And to produce results that look .. decisions .. behave as if they are actually intelligent .. looks like they made a .. between various options. But actually .. made a choice. Engaged in calculation between zeros and ones. And from that information .. programming .. result. That is not the same as intelligence and .. same as making a decision or making a choice.

DR: What would it take to make the intelligent vacuumcleaner and make it conscious. Is that something that is conceivable or no?

CQ: I don’t think so. I don’t think we can make a vacuumcleaner intelligent. We can make it behave intelligent .. doing that. So computers can do wonderful things. They can mimic intelligence and they can .. large quantities of data but .. data is not the same as experience and information and making choices.

DR: So what is the difference then, what is the secret ingredient that’s added to an object that allows it to experience consciousness.

CQ: It’s that word exactly right there: experience. Machines don’t have experience but conscious organisms .. do.

DR: So is it the idea of a living creature that is the magic ingredient?

CQ: No, it doesn’t have to be living. In fact as far as I can tell, consciousness precedes life, so even the precursors of live, .. molecules, atoms, subatomic particles, themselves must have some degree of consciousness. It seems to me that that has to be the case. We are made up of that stuff. We are made cells, of molecules and atoms and subatomic particles.

We have consciousness, we have experience and the only coherent way to understand, as far as I can see that that can happen, is that the basic ingredients that we started out as, themselves must have some degree of sentience, some degree of awareness, some ability to make choices. And then as those physical components engage to more and more complex arrangements like brains, megasystems in .. living organisms then the quality of consciousness increased. And so we now have beings that have reflexibly consciousness, which is a higher order of consciousness that would not be available to a single cell. To the brain neuron, or to the molecule.

So the secret ingredient is experience. That what needs to be accounted for in the universe. We do know for a fact that experience in beings exist. That pretty evidenced, even to people who Daniel .. who prefers to say that, and perhaps this is what Susan Blackmore means by consciousness is an illusion, she seems to be rather sympathetic with Daniel .. that equals a folk fiction, that consciousness actually doesn’t exist. Now what is interesting about that kind of playing is that it requires a conscious being that makes that claim. Engaging in what philosophers call the formative contradiction, in claiming that consciousness doesn’t exist. He has to be an experiencing being to even doubt live .. consciousness exists. Decarte great breakthrough .. I am is that he realised that doubts everything except his own consciousness. And in doubting his own consciousness he realised he must be a conscious being because only conscious beings can engage in the act of doubting. So the near fact of doubting or denying conscious already demonstrates its existence.

So I often say there are two certainties we can have in life, not death and taxes, but two certainties that something exists and whatever exists must have consciousness, must have sentience, must be experiential. Everything else comes from that. Thought the ingredient that sentient organisms have, that the vaccuum cleaner or the computer doesn’t have or a .. doesn’t have, is the experimential exponent, the ability to actually feel and be aware of its environment and to make choices in responds to .. in its experience.

DR: But before you were saying that consciousness doesn’t appear to magically begin somewhere but maybe traceable all the way down to the elementary particles, and the vacuumcleaner is made up of those particles, wouldn’t the vacuumcleaner have some kind of primordial consciousness?

CQ: No, I wouldn’t think so because it is a question of how the components are organised. We are organisms and a vaccumcleaner is a machine. And an organism is a collection of parts that is so interrelated and interdependent that you can not isolate one from the other without affecting the whole. So the experiences that would go on in my liver, depends on what goes on in my lungs and my heart, for example. But the components of a computer, or the components of a thermostat or a vaccuumcleaner, are pretty much like the components of a rock. They are organised physically adhasent? to each other, that the actual performance of each of the independent parts is not dependent of how the others are functioning. Maybe to some degree of that in a complex machine, but they are replaceable parts, and the machine as a whole would not have a unified consciousness, the way that a sentient organism would. So our parts are organised in such a way that we are what is called individuals, we can not divide ourselves .. and survive. But we can take the parts of the computer and .. other computer and the computer would still function.

DR: But don’t we do this transplant of organs and artificial limbs and so on. It seems that the further we go on with medicine, the more like a cyborg the human becomes, but they retain their consciousness.

CQ: Yes, yes.

DR: Does that mean that it is the complexity of the brain and the nervous system in particular that creates this .. in other words is it something about the complexity of the connections that allows consciousness, and then I am thinking in terms of something like awareness, thats what gives rise to awareness?

CQ: I don’t think so, no. I don’t think that anything doesn’t already possess some degree of awareness can then produce awareness. And I have yet to have anyone who can even begin to explain how that can happen.

DR: Right, but what I am trying to get at then is the difference between the complexity of a living organism and a machine. There is a huge difference in complexity, but on the other hand we can say, if we talk about the object we call the internet, it’s composed of billions of smart little terminals connected in extremely complicated ways, all kinds of .. loops and self reference and databases, would something of that level of complexity be conscious? Because it is made of little tiny elements which can have some kind of primordial consciousness.

CQ: No, the point I’m making is that consciousness is not a result of complexity. If you begin with the ingredients that are totally non conscious, no matter how complex they become, I would .. evolution, they are not going to produce consciousness. The only way that consciousness can happen is that it can evolve and develop into higher orders from ingredients that already have some degree of consciousness to begin with. Otherwise we are faced with a complete insurmountably mystery which the philosophers call the hard problem.

DR: So the molecules in my body, many of them are the same as the molecules that make up the internet. If it is not complexity, if it is not simple the way that we put together the molecules, that gives rise to the experience of awareness, then I am still looking I guess for the secret sauce. Where does it begin to arise?

CQ: It doesn’t, that is the point. It’s right there in those molecules. There is a molecular .. a molecular consciousness, a cellular consciousness, there is the consciousness of an organ, there is the consciousness of an organism. But that is the point I am trying to make here is that, the phrase I use here is that consciousness is all the way down. So there is no level of the physical reality at which there isn’t already some degree of consciousness. That seems to me to be the only viable starting point if we want to understand how come we are sentient embodied beings, that we live in a physical universe and we are conscious beings. We are beings with physical bodies, and we are beings that have experiences of our physical bodies.

The only way it seems to me, to account .. those facts .. physical reality and the fact that .. conscious reality is to recognise and to make the assumption that right from the start, or actually there was no start, that life down to the basic level that we can go to in the physical world, there is also some degree of consciousness of sentient present there too. If we don’t start out with that assumption, than we are faced with the insurmountable either that dualism faces, of understanding .. separate and come together of the problems that materialism faces. Materialism begin .. sentient ingredients, how .. sentient beings. Nobody can even begin to explain that. So to avoid those insurmountable gaps .. hard problem, it seems to me that the most likely story is to go with the Darwin assumption that can actually .. what .. be the case, which is, we live in a physical universe that contains experiencing beings.

DR: Right, I actually agree with all that. But what I am stuck on is, the internet is a holistic complex system. You can think of it as an .. of the human brain perhaps. It is made up of these bits of consciousness. Just in the same way that the molecules in my body are made of consciousness in some form. In which case why could we, or maybe we could, I don’t know, can we think of the internet than as a conscious entity. Not necessary a body, but an entity made up of tiny little bits of primordial consciousness that are put together in such a way that they become aware of themselves, or itself.

CQ: Well, I think that theoretically that is .. it is actually the case at the moment I doubt. The reason that the electrons that bounce around the internet are identical to the electrons around .. and my body .. our brains and that those electrons are at some degree sentience and that the complexity of the internet may be approaching at least some landmark of the kind of complexity that is responsible to self .. awareness, at least seems to me plausible that in time that progression continues, that the .. that already exists in the ingredient .. internet .. one day develop selfreflective consciousness.

I am open to that possibility but I am inclined that a part of me that thinks that will not happen because there is something to do with the relationship between the components that involves what philosophers call internal relatedness. That they are not just related to physical inactions but there is a sharing of meaning involved, there is an internal relatedness. And that is one of, to me, fundamental differences between the experiencing living organism and a machine is that the parts that make up our internally related, that they are sharing meaning between each other. Not just exchanging energy. Which kind of brings us back to the initial topic of our talk, is consciousness .. to make a distinction between those two.

I would say that machines operate through mechanisms, conscious beings operate by sharing of meaning. Sharing of meaning is not the same as exchanging energy.

DR: Could you elaborate on that, because the idea of, especially the idea of exchanging energy, there are ways from physics we can think of exchanging energy through forces, but there is also a related way which is simply the transmission of information. A transmission of information occurs through patterning of energy, a modulation of energy so that even information devolves in a sense down energy as well. So what is the, the question of our seminar, is consciousness energy.

CQ: No, I would say that consciousness is not energy. However consciousness and energy always get together. And energy is like a technical way of talking about embodiment. Bodies are made of energy.

And in my view consciousness and embodiment, consciousness and energy always go together. You never have one without the other. So they .. unity. But they are not identical. Their unity does not equal identity. So consciousness is non located, it is non physical, energy is located and it is physical. Those are fundamental distinctions between consciousness and energy.

Energy is something that moves through space, consciousness doesn’t exist in space. There is a very different kind of existence .. energy that exists in space. That’s really the fundamental distinction that .. and .. to use the language of energy of vibrations and frequencies and waves and fields to talk about consciousness, I am proposing is using inappropriate language .. energy talk to something that is not energy which is consciousness.

So we need to, I am proposing that we need to catch ourselves .. what I call the physics .. using energy talk when we want to discuss consciousness .. using terms like fields and vibrations or mechanisms, waves, that we use the already very rich language which we have by discussing mind and consciousness, words such as tension, attention, purpose, meaning, desire, experience, feeling, awareness and on and on. We already have a very, very rich vocabulary for discussing consciousness. And non of those terms can be reduced to our .. energy talk, like waves or fields or vibrations. So basically requesting or proposing that we catch ourselves when we use energy talk, when talking about consciousness, and instead we use our very rich language we already have, talking about consciousness. I think I might have drifted off a little bit from the question about the consciousness .. energy but those are .. considerations that I have .. consciousness is not a form of energy, energy that .. exists in space and consciousness is something that doesn’t. The bottom line.

DR: Did I hear you right .. saying that they are related?

CQ: Yes.

DR: So if they are related and they are so different from each other, it sounds like dualism.

CQ: It does sound like dualism, except dualism .. basically is the idea that two different and separable kinds of reality exist, but what I am proposing is that .. an non dual dualism .. dual aspects .. in philosophy that there is definitely a distinction .. fundamental distinction to be made between consciousness and energy. However, having that distinction is not saying they are separate. So consciousness and energy .. always go together, they form a unity. But they are not the same.

I give an example of that, of what I mean by unity does not equal identity. Let’s say I .. you a .. ball .. beach ball and it is made of plastic or sponge. It has a .. like the plastic or the sponge. It also has a shape which is .. or and then I ask you to change the shape of the ball, and you do. And then I ask you, well has the quantity of energy changed. Has the substance changed, by changing the shape. Of course the answer is no, the substance is still exactly the same.

Now we can not have substance without shape and we can not have shape without substance, they always go together but if you can change one, and the substance remains the same, clearly the substance does not equal the shape.

You can change one but the other does not change. Nevertheless, you can not have one without the other. Well, that is kind of a metaphor .. analogy for how conscious .. energy related is that they always go together, they are inseparable, form a unity, an indivisible unity, but they are not identical.

DR: So physicists might use the word complementary, as in complementarity.

CQ: Yeah, I like that.

DR: So if consciousness is complementary to energy, and they are inseparable, can you have energy without consciousness?

CQ: No, I would say no. I would say energy is intrinsically sentient. That energy already comes with the ability feel, to be aware, and to make choices. To purpose to redirect itself. Here is really what I am saying .. dualism.

I am saying that consciousness, the ability to be aware .. to make choices, is intrinsic in the very nature of energy itself. It is not something acting on energy from the outside .. the ability that energy has, to feel itself, to feel its environment, as the purpose to redirect itself. And I think one way for us to actually get out of the attractions of .. talking about, is we all know our own bodies, we move and we make choices .. awareness .. body moves .. not by some external force, moved by the body itself, making decisions and making choices .. but I am saying .. large scale version of what happens even on the level of an electron.

That an electron has its own intrinsic, internal .. subjectivity, that it is aware of its surroundings. Not in terms of thoughts of course .. but in whatever way an electron can have a feeling. It has the .. that an electron would have and if you make the kind of choices that .. the world that an electron .. that .. saying. And I am beginning to .. some clarity .. dualism even though it still has a distinction between consciousness and energy.

DR: Yes, I think so, I think of it as a complementary state, two things which must have the other in order to be a whole. But unfortunately by now .. talking about energy, I wonder if you could offer a definition of energy, which has a very precise meaning in physics, but is used in many other ways in other disciplines.

CQ: Yeah, well the definition that I go with and it seems to work pretty well, comes from physics which is energy is the ability to .. just lost my drift.

DR: Work.

CQ: To do work, yes. The ability to do work, exactly. The energy is .. to make something happen in the physical world.

DR: So the complementary relationship is a non-physical something which is linked in some way to a physical something which modifies the world in some way. So we have a linkage between a non-physical subjectivity and a physical objectivity.

CQ: Very close to what I would say, except I would probably search around for different wording ‘linked’ because linked .. implies that these two separate things are .. hooked up together.

What I am trying to communicate is that the relationship between them, the relationship between them is that the consciousness is part of the very nature of the energy itself. Energy comes tingling with a spark of consciousness .. that it is already tingling with its own ability to feel, to make choices. So it is just part of the very nature, you know like matter has mass .. matter energy has sentience or awareness, it is part of the very nature of .. to be able to feel and to make choices.

So energy is the ability to do work .. to make things happen in the physical world, because I say that consciousness is intrinsic to energy, things just don’t happen randomly in the physical world, that they happen through direction and direction comes from within the energy itself because of the consciousness is intrinsic to the energy. And so that is why I would say is that evolution is not just a random process, it is actually internally directed by the consciousness that is within evolution.

DR: Okay I will ask one additional question and than we will go to the audience to see if they have questions as well. Since .. the relationship between consciousness and energy, many people are involved in the power of prayer and healing and energy healing, do you think that this conception of consciousness is a way of modulating energy is related to what people are doing when they are praying for example, praying for health?

CQ: Yes I do. On one of my blog I have a couple of articles about discussing the topic of energy healing and I point out that actually it seems to me more likely that those cases of what I quote energy healing probably more accurately describe as consciousness healing. Where so called non local effects are involved. So for example if prayer our intention for a particular healing seems to produce .. instantaneously, then we can be sure that no energy has been transferred although information has been transferred if it happens instantaneously. And we certainly have anecdotal evidence .. laboratory evidence, but we certainly have anecdotal evidence that that happens. Well, if that is the case, then it can not be energy healing what is happening. Something else is going on. And I would say what is going on is that it is really consciousness healing .. intentional healing.

Since consciousness does not exist in space, than a spacial separation between healer and healed is irrelevant, so there is no time that is required for sharing the healing between person A and person B, between healer and healed, it can happen instantaneously, there is no transmission of energy. There is a participation in the sharing of meaning and let’s say the meaning is to be whole or to heal or be healthy.

So the electron with the cell in the body of the recipient is literally sharing the meaning that is being intended by the healer which is be whole, be healed. And that meaning is picked up .. it is not like it has traveled anywhere, but it is experiences shared by the cells in the recipient’s body .. now holding this meaning of being healed or being whole and that gets communicated to the rest of the organism.

And then directs the energy that is in the cells, and the molecules and the organism of the hosts body that apparently produced the healing. The is a .. sketch from what I think is going on, something like that is probably much more likely what is happening than the idea of energy being shot across the world. It is .. and the speed of light.

DR: I think that is clear what you just said, at least I think I think I understood. So lets turn over to Linsey who will invite questions from the audiance.

Q: Would you say that a plant and a rock have consciousness?

CQ: Yes, I would say that a plant has consciousness and certainly the cells of the plant have cellular consciousness. I would say that the rock as a rock does not have rock consciousness, but that the particles, the molecules within the rock do have their own molecular consciousness.

So there is some consciousness at work within the rock, but the rock as a whole is not a unity, is not an individual in the way an organism like an animal or a plant is an individual. And the rock is .. it is an aggregate of parts that don’t have the internal relatedness that I talked about earlier. So there is no unified consciousness that we call rock consciousness. And I would say that the same applies to computers and thermostats and .. and at this state .. probably the internet as well .. they don’t have that degree of internal relatedness. So I know that this can be disappointing to people have particular relationships with rocks .. When I say that I am not denying that people can have inter-subjective, meaningful experiences with rocks and with crystals. In fact I have had those kind of experiences myself. But from my understanding, what I think is going on is that in those moments, when I am having those relationships, I am actually .. to the molecules withing that rock and that the rock as a whole, despite its blooming? and many times beautiful presence it is not a unified consciousness what I am connecting with.

Q: So you would say that a tree has consciousness, that when a piece of bark breaks of the tree and falls to the ground, that that bark doesn’t have consciousness anymore. As a body that dies. Or if you cut of a hand and the hand doesn’t have consciousness anymore.

CQ: Pretty much, yeah. That the molecules within the hand, the molecules within the bark, continue to have consciousness. And a question that I am often asked is, what happens when we die, what happens to consciousness when we die. And from my prospective, first let me step back a bit from this conversation and .. I want to make it clear that what I am saying I am not presenting this as the truth. I don’t know what the truth is. But I am telling .. what seems to me to be the most likely story, the most likely story of what is going on. And that is all I can do. I can only .. what seems to me the most likely case. I am not making any claims of the fact that it is the truth, I am not.

Q: I understand that. Do you see some elemental substance or thing that is really, really close to the .. on either side of being conscious or not conscious, or is it really a .. divide a line.

CQ: I am gonna be little .. here and say that conscious is a bit like being pregnant. You either are or you are not. So something is either conscious or it isn’t. Now once it is conscious, then there are higher degrees of consciousness. So the consciousness that an electron would have is very, very dilute, so to speak, than the consciousness that a dog or a dolphin or a whale or a human might have. But it still has some consciousness, the light is still switched on. Once the light is switched on we can then turn on the dimmer switch from the dim, dim light from deep, deep dark unconsciousness that an electron might have to the bright lights of a kind of enlightenment that a Buddha might have.

Q: Okay, thank you.

CQ: Thank you.

Q: .. outer body experience. I read enough books now .. clearly there seems to be a situation where consciousness seems to be separate from the body. Now you claim that, and I agree with this for the .. that you site, that consciousness is intrinsic to energy, and I think in one of your books you tried to explain that to the spherical double, but it quite doesn’t resonate with me. So if you might elaborate a little bit, how is it possible if indeed, if consciousness is infused within matter, how is it possible for the outer body experience to occur.

CQ: Yeah, although it’s not necessarily part of the worldview of panpsychism that I align myself with, the idea of a kind of a multiple continuum of different levels of reality .. including subtle bodies, subtle energy, is consistent with panpsychism .. required. So the idea that we have subtle bodies in addition to our physical or physiological bodies is consistent with panpsychism and is actually consistent with my own experience.

So I would say that what happened in a so called outer body experience, an OBE, is probably more accurately  described as an ABE, an alternative body experience. That in so called normal consciousness is the denser side with our physiological body. In an OBE or an ABE .. an alternative state of consciousness, in an alternative body consciousness, body experience, that consciousness is now identified, at least more identified with its subtle body or in some traditions called the astral body, or the chi body.

So consciousness is still embodied, but it is now embodied in a form of subtle energy that is talked about in many other traditions of something that is yet to be recognised by modern western science. But again .. anecdotal and .. laboratory evidence to suggest the reality of subtle energies like chi and .. and mana. So it seems to me that the idea, if we accept the idea that there are subtle realms existent beyond the gross physical realm, then consciousness is also embodied in those realms. It is still a kind of states that exists in those realms and consciousness is identified with the, it identifies itself with the body in those subtle domains. So an out of body experience is really consciousness choosing, and maybe even sometimes not choosing, to identify itself with an alternative body. So I would call it an alternative body experience, an ABE rather than an OBE.

Q: Okay, that is very interesting. Would that not have the implications that indeed that if this other alternate body indeed exists, would that not have implications that this conscious survives physical death. Could you speak for that please.

CQ: Yes it would and as far as I can tell from traditions like Tibet Buddhism, it seems to happen that when a physical body dies, consciousness is now associated with the subtle bodies in the .. that we also learn from those traditions that the subtle body is not eternal and that it too will decompose or disintegrate or dissolve. And at that point it may find itself going to a more subtle level. The subtle, subtle body. And I have no idea how many levels there might be of that, and if that is the case then consciousness would no longer be identified with those bodies but would still remain in the molecules of the once living body and those molecules then get recycled.

And with that the consciousness, the consciousness associated with those molecules gets recycled. And this is one way, at least for me I have an understanding of .. past life experiences, is that each of us carries around countless numbers of molecules that were one time .. bodies of other living humans and other living creatures and that still retain, in a holographic way, experiences that those molecules had when they were part of some other living organism. So in a particular state of consciousness I not be able to access the experience, literally we experience experiences decoded in those molecules and I would then describe that as having access to the experience of somebody who lived, lets say for example, back in Roman times. Typically I would be tempted to describe that I would say that I had a past live experience, and I know that I once .. Roman slave or a Roman soldier or an emperor, or whatever it might be. I would say that that is probably not the case.

What is happening is that as an 21 century human, I am actually accessing experiences in a molecule that are that are recorded holographically .. they were once part of a the body of somebody living so many centuries or millenia ago. It is not that I lived at that .. but that one or more molecules of that person are now part of my body and in a particular state of consciousness, I can now have a pretty intimate connection with those experiences that otherwise I wouldn’t have. So I think that is what is probably going on in a so called past life experience.

Q: Very interesting, thank you very much.

CQ: Thanks.

Q: Can we test non physical stuff and if so, would it produce physical evidence of non physical stuff.

CQ: I think the short answer is no. I don’t think there is any physical means for detecting anything non physical. And also just to be precise I would not incline for you to use the term non physical stuff.

That is still thinking as there is something objective, it is not a thing, it is what knows. A bumpersticker that I use is consciousness knows, energy flows. So consciousness is what knows, or feels or is aware of and directs the flowing of energy. But it is itself not a form of energy. So it is not stuff.

And any physical instrument that we would have is necessarily made of energy, and it is not going to be able to detect something that isn’t also made of energy.

Q: And so if we can’t test consciousness, how do we ever get past or beyond or farther than just wondering and just speculating and just having a theory.

CQ: Well very easily, by actually engaging in practice such as meditation or other spiritual disciplines that .. direct experience consciousness. We don’t need physics and biology or neuroscience to help us investigate consciousness .. existence. We know that directly. We really have the physical instruments of our own, embodieness  and that is all we need.

But the physical presents of our embodiment is itself not sufficient to communicate to anybody else, that consciousness is present. It is what I have talked about in my book, just because another being behaves as though its conscious, the behaviour does not indicate .. the presence of consciousness in the other being. So consciousness needs to be detected by consciousness, it cannot be detected by physical instruments. And one of the ways we do that is through intersubjective connection. When we fall in love we do that all the time. Between couples, between a parent and a child and between good friends.

We are actually having an intersubjective experience where consciousness is ‘detecting’ the presence of consciousness in the other. We don’t need physical machinery for that.

Q: So you are saying that physical evidence doesn’t get us anywhere that not having physical evidence to look for physical evidence.

CQ: Physical evidence is never going to reveal anything about anything non physical.

Q Thank you.

Q: You consider atoms to be conscious and the prayer questions been asked, I think you do suggest that there is molecular consciousness, are atoms conscious?

CQ: Yes, I would say so.

Q: Do they choose to bond with molecules and not others?

CQ: Well I would say that, we are made of cells and we are conscious, and cells are made of molecules and then .. consciousness .. therefore the molecules must have molecular consciousness. And molecules are made of atoms, and if molecules are conscious of whatever they are made off must also have consciousness and the atoms must be conscious and all the way down to the subatomic particle, the electron, the proton, the neutron, must also have some degree of consciousness, and then below that, there are quarks, quanta, superstrings, whatever it is at the fundamental level of the physical world there is also the ability to feel, to know the be aware and to make choices. It goes all the way down, so yes, I would without any sense of embarrassment  talk about molecular consciousness, cellular consciousness, atomic consciousness, electronic consciousness, quantum consciousness.

All that seems to be the only way to make sense of what we know today. That we live in a physical universe, and a physical universe that has sentient beings. We know that seems to be the case, the only way it seems to me, to account to that, is to start with the assumption that whatever the fundamental ingredients are, we must also have energy and consciousness, or energy that is conscious .. so yeah, again I do think that atoms have consciousness.

Q: Would you say that like the duality of energy, like particle and wave, consciousness is the wave aspect and energy is the particle aspect of the duality we are living.

CQ: I am inclined not to go in that direction because that is, what I have been referring to earlier, energy talk, it’s using the language of physics, waves and particles, to describe these .. components about physics which is not physical, so the idea of a wave, a wave is something spread out in space, it undulates in space, consciousness doesn’t exist in space.

Consciousness doesn’t vibrate, it doesn’t have waves, consciousness is the ability of a wave to feel its unwaviness and to direct its waving, but it is not itself a wave. That’s what I would say.

Q: I am not saying it is a wave but have been talking about a duality .. inseparable and so we all know that if we intent something, that we have an intention on something, it floats, the attention, the energy would flow like knowing and .. I have been .. scientist and you are right .. put this together with the quantum mechanics and I have been using this models for many years and I would say .. implication of that, I come from a mystical background and 40, 45 years at least this time in my life .. meditation and I have seen the impact of this model and how .. responds, so I am suggesting that to look at the possibility of really .. this is the kind of the consciousness, energy is the other aspect, it is like a coin, the other aspect of the energy, so it is the knowing, the feeling of the awareness .. when consciousness, experiencing itself it .. into the form, is like a wave becomes a particle, is no form, no localized, become localized. This is what I understand.

CQ: Okay, okay, it may be that we are basically giving words to the same intuition, but because of a particular path of my investigation .. come to the conclusion that using the language of particles and waves to describe consciousness, the relationship between consciousness and energy doesn’t work for me, but if it works for you and other people then I would say keep working with that, but the fundamental insight I think that we both share is that consciousness and energy are intrinsically and intimately related and the .. from physics is .. complementarity. In some ways that is probably a .. to use then duality. Because duality does have the implication of the separateness, complementarity implies a mutuality .. inseperable .. so I would say that consciousness and energy are mutually complementary, and not dual in the sense that they can be separate.

Q: I would say that it is one and the same. Thank you for the response.

CQ: Thank you

Q: Yes, it was a separate question actually and it is: how does the organisation of sentient molecules lead to higher order consciousness, do we just observe that it happens or is there some, do we understand how it happens?

CQ: The simplest answer I would give to that without going into detail and explanation is to say that as the energy, as the matter becomes more and more complex and more organized than consciousness associated with that matter and energy becomes more and more organized .. become self reflective and then can even develop to levels .. and so we can become not just aware that we are aware, but we can become aware that we arware that we are aware and then that we are aware that we are aware that we are aware that we are aware. As we go into that process we enter into transcendental states of consciousness. So yes, I would say that the complexity of organization of development, the evolution if you like of consciousness is associated with the evolution of the physical world, with the evolution of energy and that is why I would say that a being that has a complex neocortex, whether it is a human being or a dolphin or a whale or a chimpanzee or a gorilla .. has a higher order consciousness because its matter energy is far more complexly organized and the matter will be in the .. of a plant for example or a single cell bacteria or a molecule, so the two are again correlated, the complexity of the matter energy is correlated with the complexity of consciousness, but not in the way that neuroscience seems to imply, suggest or assume that the complexity of matter produces consciousness. I am rejecting that idea, I am saying that is actually impossible. But what happens is that as matter becomes more and more complex, for example in a ..  brain then the consciousness that is intrinsic to that matter, to that energy itself, evolves, developed, and becomes more ..

Q: Okay, thank you.


My post about this interview: Mechanism vs Meaning 

Is Consciousness Energy


{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

rudrappa agadi

I definitely agree that Energy is Consciousness and the human mind, brain etc., run on Consciousness. The Universe itself is full of Consciousness and it is pervading and pulsating with consciousness. So, as and how the Universe acts, like during full-moon and new-moon days, it acts definitely on Human and other Living being Consciousness. So, with this view, I believe that Energy is Consciousness and that Energy may be in any shape like water may be in the shape of ice, liquid, fog, etc., etc., Consciousness and Energy are Part of God. Kindly reply to my opinion. Thanx.


Jaroslav Vlcek

To know consciousness we have to go to the beginning of life on Earth. Those who will get there will find that consciousness is light which is energy. I also is the awareness of energy. Consciousness works through electromagnetic interaction between two electric chrges. This creates a resonance in the object consciousness is focussed on. The observer recognizes the object on the basis of prior experience


Lucky Balaraman

Thank you for this article. I have for years been searching for insight into the proposition that Energy = Consciousness, and this article has provided me with serious and exciting food for thought.


Zepp Sultana

Definition- Consciousness is a state of being aware especially of something within oneself. It has no physical meaning. It cannot move objects so it is an illusion created by the mind of an individual. The conscious of a criminal is not about the crime he committed he worry of being caught.


Zepp Sultana

I agree totally with Jaruslav Vlcek. If he can proof to me that consciousness is light which is energy. Try to turn off a ligh bulb with consciousness. It should be easy to make a connection since consciousness is light which is energy.



We live in a biocentric universe. The observer effect shows that consciousness plays its part in what is perceived. Nothing can exist unless the is someone to observe it’s existence. The human animal creates reality through perception, time and space are constructs of our temporal logic to create an order to our experience. Awareness is present at all times before, during and after all forms of the temporal mechanics that take place. This we call consciousness unable to give dimensions to the dimensionless.


Joseph Sultana

Consciousness- Is a state of being aware especially of something within oneself. It has no physical meaning. It is an illusion created by the mind of an individual.



If consciousness is in fact energy then it out to be measurable, quantifiable, and man capable if harnessing it and manipulating it. Since energy is neither created nor destroyed then there should be measurable evidence of an energy increase in a closed system upon death. I believe consciousness is essence/spirit – intelligent energy of a higher order created by God.



I believe the body is like a blanket that covers and greatly narrows down consciousness for example embreyos or baby’s very tiny narrowed perception of consciousness that’s why when we grow so does our awareness of consciousness and learning the brain an interactive antenna that’s grabs passive energy or consciousness . Great new article from professor at SF STate that says we may have been wrong for a long time that consciousness is passive more than observing that the mind and outside matter energy coexist together
that in fact everything outside our mind has just as much to do controlling us as we do ourselves .


Robert Phillips

Question: can consiouseness be contained,or focused as our brains seem to contain consiouseness in some way. And also it seem possible that our brain acts as a type of channel that can in some way minipulate or focus the memmory that is contained in consiouseness itself…..any thoughts?


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