September/October 2002 Living Now
An Interview With Amit Goswami,
Author of Physics of the Soul
Interview by Connie Hill
"Dr. Amit Goswami
is one of the most brilliant minds in the world of science. His insights
into the relationship between physics and consciousness have deeply influenced
my understanding, and I am deeply grateful to him. Physics of the Soul
is both challenging and brilliant."
Connie: How did you get started in the field of consciousness and science?
Amit: My work in this field started after one year of struggle with
a Theosophist friend who appeared in my office and wanted to take a
reading course from me at the U of O. With some reluctance I said yes.
He wanted to study the Self Aware Universe, quantum physics and
the implications of all that. He was persuasive and I gave in. Then,
he started pushing Theosophical philosophy on me. That went on for 9
months. He was talking about reincarnation, soul and so on. I was very
reluctant to get into the subject because I didn't think anyone could
and still study science. Then I had a dream that felt like an admonition
to me. I heard it so clearly: "The Tibetan Book of the Dead
is correct. It's your job to prove it!"
Connie: Wow! That's a simple task!
Amit: Well, after that I got into the subject seriously, and a couple
of philosophers and he and I had a study group for awhile. When the
group stopped meeting I started finding answers to some of the problems.
In about 1997, Michael Thom of New Dimensions was my agent and he was
very enthusiastic about the material in Physics and the Soul.
At the last moment the deal fell through with the publisher. When that
happened I realized that the subject of Jesus's resurrection was not
covered. It took another 3 years to find answers. I'm glad it happened
because the connection that I found also connected UFO's and other "unsolvable"
Connie: We think science and spirituality are mutually exclusive but
lately it seems that the two ideas are moving closer together.
Amit: The division happened because of a quirk of history: that classical
physics was discovered before quantum physics. If quantum physics had
been discovered first we would not have these separations between science
and spirituality. Carl Popper coined the phrase "promissory materialism."
Materialism will always remain promissory in those areas of spirit,
soul, mind, meaning and what life is all about. Science based on materiality
will never make total sense. It fits some questions that have a reductive
tendency. Some things we do are materially oriented. If you need a job
you learn a skill. But on the other hand if you want to be happy, to
think money or work will make us happy is foolhardy. One becomes happy
by connecting with wholeness. This wisdom has escaped most scientists.
I am finding a shift among budding scientists who want to find real
answers to questions like happiness, soul, reincarnation and the meaning
of life. All those questions that science thought it could never answer.
It's clear that if we continue our present direction, the decline of
the stock market and business ethics are just a few of the symptoms
of the disease, which is leaving spirit, ethics and values out of the
equation. If you understand reincarnational philosophy, you'll know
that we come back again and again if we are unethical. No one would
ever dare to be unethical. You do come back and you have to answer for
those propensities. So there's no sense in building bad karma, bad propensities.
Connie: I think we also come back life after life for adventure as
well as to learn various lessons.
Amit: Yes, life is an adventure. If we are really concentrating on
learning the lessons--the archetypal stuff, then it's a tremendous adventure.
If you ultimately ask people "why do you do what you do?"
they will answer "Oh, to be happy. To find love." It is not
that it is an unknown. It is just that we have brainwashed a whole generation
of people to think that these things have to be kept secret and personal
and that they have no place in public or science. That is a myopic separation
of our personal life and our social life. Socially, we have become very
materialist and personally we have continued to believe in non-materiality
because that is where our life is, that's where happiness is, that's
where love is, it's soul satisfying. So we keep our soul and science
separate. This cannot continue.
Connie: We keep our soul and work separate. I work in a place where
there is a lot of spirituality and it seems to me that spirit IS moving
into the culture.
Amit: I agree. It's not as new agey or alternative as it was some years
ago. In the three decades since Tao of Physics we have made a
tremendous shift--no question. I find that a paradigm shift takes place
in two ways. First, for all scientists to start working on the new paradigm
like happened with Newtonian physics, it takes a long time. But there
is another way where a group of people hang onto a model that they are
all happy with and they are all finding new problems to work on within
that model. For me that model has been that consciousness is the ground
of being and now, lots of people are accepting that model. This is a
great achievement. This change has happened in less than three generations.
That's a tremendous achievement. Old paradigmers, like some of my colleagues
from the U of O physics department, will take a long time to change.
What usually happens like Thomas Kuhn pointed out is "Old-timers
never get converted, they just die."
Connie: At the beginning of the book you talk about dreaming, talk
to me about that.
Amit: There are residue dreams which are an extension of our waking
life. Then there are what Carl Jung calls "big dreams" and
my dream about the Tibetan Book of the Dead was one of those
big dreams. One of those can change your life. It can change it for
awhile or forever. Those dreams are in the same local time domain as
when we have an experience of Holy Spirit.
Connie: Had you been thinking about any of these ideas before your
Theosophist friend came to you?
Amit: No. It was a totally new idea. But in retrospect I realized that
the very first person who called in at my first interview after Self
Aware Universe came out was an older woman and her question was
"What happens when I die." That was the most important question
to her. I had no answer, zilch! I told this as a funny story for awhile.
My attitude was: what does a physicist know about this? From that attitude
to actually find that the age-old question can be answered from a scientific
point of view was a tremendous break through for me. It really defined
the scientific discoveries that I have since written about in other
books like the Visionary Window where I describe the new science
and how it's going to take shape. But really, wondering about the soul
is what gave shape to all those wonderful ideas, which are needed, because
in Self Awareness Universe the breakthrough is that consciousness
is the ground of being. We have to introduce consciousness into science,
but to do this consciousness must have some structure to manifest itself.
That structure requires mind, vital energies, supra-mentality, soul
in other words. All of that was lacking in the "self aware universe
model." If I had stayed with that model I would have felt as dissatisfied
as I was before the "self aware universe model." These answers
for the soul were very vital for my own thinking but also for the progress
in science that is already happening. Every few months I get somebody
writing a new book where similar ideas are being proposed. We have these
prejudices and as long as we think that these prejudices are valid we
exclude huge subjects of thinking. And that exclusion is what is really
Connie: What I like about this book is that it is very scientific,
but it is also fun. It's very enjoyable and exciting. And I'm not just
saying that because we are on the phone!
Amit: Thank you. Just what any author wants to hear!
Join Dr. Goswami at New Renaissance Bookshop on Friday, Oct. 11
for his talk, Physics of the Soul. Call 503-224-4929 or visit
www.newrenbooks.com to register.
Connie Hill works at New Renaissance Bookshop and is a local astrologer.
She can be reached at 503-291-8229, ext. 2 or email@example.com.