Tag Archives | Eugene Wigner

Asking Unanswerable Questions

“I regard consciousness as fundamental. 
I regard matter as derivative from consciousness. 
We cannot get behind consciousness. 
Everything that we talk about,
everything that we regard as existing,
postulates consciousness.”

“Whence come I and whither go I?

That is the great unfathomable question,

the same for every one of us.

Science has no answer to it.”

“Science cannot solve the ultimate mystery of nature.

And that is because, in the last analysis,

we ourselves are part of nature

and therefore part of the mystery that we are trying to solve.”

~ Max Planck, Nobel laureate physicist
“The very study of the physical world leads to the conclusion that …. consciousness is an ultimate reality and, all the possible knowledge, concerning objects can be given as its wave function”
~ Eugene Wigner, Nobel laureate physicist and co-founder of quantum mechanics
“We never cease to stand like curious children before the great Mystery into which we were born.”
~ Albert Einstein
“The important thing is not to stop questioning.
Curiosity has its own reason for existing.
One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality.
It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day.
Never lose a holy curiosity.”
~ Albert Einstein

Have you ever wondered how our space/time universe began?  

Did it just appear from nothing?  What is its source – its matrix?  Was it created?  Was it intelligently designed?  Did it begin with a “big bang”?  How? When?  What exists beyond its beginning?  Will it ever end?  If so, will it begin again?  What is its purpose, if any?  Is it really real, or just a simulated or virtual reality – like a matrix?  Is it a holographic, fractal projection of Universal Awareness – our common Cosmic Consciousness? Can it ever be explained? Can we ever discover a provable theory explaining everything [“T.E.O”]?

If you’re curious or ever have wondered about any such questions, you’re quite unusual.  Except for some theoretical scientists, most people never think about them.  Or they simply accept and believe what some authority, professor, preacher, or spiritual teacher tells them.  Or they are in a state of psychological denial about anything or anyone challenging cherished beliefs.

Only after my mid-life spiritual awakening did I begin wondering, and sometimes writing, about the supposed philosophical meaning or purpose of earth life, if any.  And sometimes I have shared such writings on-line hoping to help inspire in readers a state of curiosity and wonder beyond our everyday existence.  Like a poem called “Cosmology Mythology: From Beyond The Beginning To The Beginning And Beyond” which intuitively speculates on how and why our cosmic reality might have originated.

Or like this verse:

Life is a metaphoric metamorphosis process.

Gleaning meaning in matter,

we learn all that matters —

we learn all that matters is


Whether or not my intuited verses seem true for you, I hope they help inspire us to reflect with wonder and amazement about our precious lives on this precious planet.  Such a state of wonder and awe can help us transcend long outdated materialistic world-views about ‘reality’ which may deter reverential realization of ONE timeless spiritual reality beyond materiality – a Universal Intelligence beyond, imagination, conception, comprehension or description.

Albert Einstein died while unsuccessfully seeking a unified field theory – a ‘theory of everything’ [T.E.O.] – which might explain “the great Mystery into which we were born.”  Theoretical scientists are continuing to search for such a formula.  And ever more non-materialist scientists – like Einstein and nobel laureate Max Planck – are approaching acceptance of a non-dualistic universal Intelligence or cosmic consciousness as the ultimate mysterious matrix of what we call space/time causality reality.

Hopefully, they may some day fulfill Swami Vivekananda’s prescient prediction that “Science and religion will meet and shake hands”.

Meanwhile, I have become experientially persuaded by Eastern non-duality philosophy that our ever impermanent space/time duality causality reality – often called samsara or maya –  is an endless illusionary projection of a mysterious Infinite Potentiality beyond conception, comprehension, imagination, or expression.  

Nonetheless our reflection on unanswerable cosmic questions may help us experience life-changing gratitude, awe and wonder about our miraculous causality reality concerning which Albert Einstein observed:  

“We never cease to stand like curious children before the great Mystery into which we were born.”

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

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What’s really “real”?

“Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.”;
“Space and time are not conditions in which we live, they are modes in which we think”.
~ Albert Einstein
“The very study of the physical world leads to the conclusion that …. consciousness is an ultimate reality and, all the possible knowledge, concerning objects can be given as its wave function”
~ Eugene Wigner, Nobel laureate physicist and co-founder of quantum mechanics
“That which is impenetrable to us really exists. Behind the secrets of nature remains something subtle, intangible, and inexplicable. Veneration for this force beyond anything that we can comprehend is my religion.” ….“Everyone who is seriously involved in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that a spirit is manifest in the laws of the Universe.”
~ Albert Einstein
Theory of Everything:

E = mc2 = Consciousness = Self.
 ~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings

Have you ever wondered what is really “real”?
Or what isn’t “real”?   

Is your “reality” only physical, measurable, perceptible, or comprehensible? 

Where does this “reality” end and ‘unreality’ begin – if anywhere?

Our ideas of reality are crucial. Knowingly or unknowingly they deeply affect our beliefs about who and what we are; and, our beliefs about who and what we are  determine our behaviors, our experiences and philosophies of life, both individually and societally.

Thus, reality paradigms which do not recognize our essential Unity with Nature and all its life-forms have proved environmentally, economically, internationally and inter-personally disastrous.

“…this separation between man and man, between nation and nation, between earth and moon, between moon and sun. Out of this idea of separation between atom and atom comes all misery. But the Vedanta says that this separation does not exist, it is not real.”
~ Swami Vivekananda

How different would be our behaviors if we truly realized and always remembered that we are part of Nature, deeply connected and unified with all life-forms; that our apparent separation from each other and Nature is a perceptual illusion?

“Our separation of each other is an optical illusion of consciousness.” .
~ Albert Einstein

As Jesus told us, with faith human potentialities are unlimited:

“All things are possible for one who believes.”
~ Mark 9:23

“If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
~ Matthew:17-20

But limited ideas about reality are conceptual cages confining us in a kind of psychological prison, restricting realization of our unlimited potentialities.

Culturally, our concepts of “reality” are an unspoken consensus abstraction dependent upon predominantly shared beliefs about what is “real”.

“Reality is only a Rorschach ink-blot, you know.”
~ Alan Watts

“Reality is nothing but a collective hunch.”
~ Lily Tomlin

Until now, most of us have been unconsciously acculturated and indoctrinated with limiting ideas of self-identity and “reality”, without ever reflecting upon or intuiting who or what we really are and what’s really real.

Our ideas about “reality” – both individually and societally – differ with different people at different times and different places.

But beyond our ever changing and relative ideas of manifest “reality”, is there is a transcendent ultimate Reality – which is the eternal Source of relative reality?   Beyond thought can we experience such ultimate Reality?

In universally seeking happiness, doesn’t everyone knowingly or unknowingly, consciously or subconsciously, remember and intuitively long for the experience of Divine Oneness?

Mystical  “inner explorers” have answered all of the foregoing questions affirmatively. Mystics – from both East and West – have for millennia reported their discovery of ONE ultimate, unchanging non-duality Reality; THAT which is beyond definition, comprehension or imagination – yet, everywhere invisibly imminent in and source of our space/time polarity/causality relative reality.

“Time, space and causation are like the glass through which the Absolute is seen…In the Absolute there is neither time, space, nor causation.”
~ Swami Vivekananda

“Though One, Brahman is the cause of the many… Brahman is the unborn (aja) in whom all existing things abide. The One manifests as the many, the formless putting on forms.”
~ Rig Veda

“All things come out of the One and the One out of all things.”
~ Heraclitus, 500BC

“Reality cannot be found except in One single source, because of the interconnection of all things with one another.”
~ Leibniz, 1670

“We are a part of Nature as a whole whose order we follow.”
~ Spinoza, Ethics, 1673

And now more and more scientists are agreeing with the mystics.  Matter has melted into Mystery. Physics and metaphysics are merging.
Both science and spirituality agree that the universe is undivided Wholeness.

And for some Quantum physicists – like Nobel laureate Max Planck – beyond “uncertainty” about reality of “matter” there is only consciousness and Divinity.

“I regard consciousness as fundamental. I regard matter as derivative from consciousness. We cannot get behind consciousness. Everything that we talk about, everything that we regard as existing, postulates consciousness.”
~ Max Planck, as quoted in The Observer (25 January 1931)

“There is no matter as such.  All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force which brings the particle of an atom to vibration and holds this most minute solar system of the atom together. We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent mind. This mind is the matrix of all matter. ”
~ Max Planck, Nobel Prize-winning physicist

“Both Religion and science require a belief in God. For believers, God is in the beginning, and for physicists He is at the end of all considerations… To the former He is the foundation, to the latter, the crown of the edifice of every generalized world view.”
~ Max Planck, Nobel Prize-winning physicist – Religion and Natural Science (Lecture Given 1937) Scientific Autobiography and Other Papers, trans. F. Gaynor (New York, 1949), pp. 184

Thousands of years ago, Eastern seers called this permanently impermanent and ever changing world of countless forms and phenomena a dreamlike illusion, maya or samsara; a mere projection of the One Reality – of Infinite and Eternal Existence.

“The world, indeed, is like a dream and the treasures of the world are an alluring mirage! Like the apparent distances in a picture, things have no reality in themselves, but they are like heat haze.”
~ Buddha

“A wise man, recognizing that the world is but an illusion, does not act as if it is real, so he escapes the suffering.”
~ Buddha

Einstein intuited that:

“Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.”

And now other scientists are agreeing with mystics and affirming Einstein’s observation about the illusion of physical “reality”.

For example, distinguished quantum physicist David Bohm has questioned any objective tangible reality. Bohm theorized that the universe is fundamentally like a gigantic hologram; that underlying apparent reality is a deeper order of existence, from which all the objects and appearances of our physical world arise and appear in much the same way that a two dimensional holographic film gives birth to a three dimensional hologram in space.

What appears to be a stable, tangible, visible, audible world, is an illusion. It is dynamic and kaleidoscopic — not really “there”. What we normally see is the explicit, or unfolded, order of things, rather like watching a movie. But there is an underlying order that is mother and father to this second-generation reality.
~ David Bohm

Until his death in 1955, Einstein maintained his intuitive view, consistent with ancient mystical insights but challenged by quantum physicists, that “God does not play dice with the universe”; that the principle of cause and effect (or karma) pervades the phenomenal Universe without exception; that the ideas of chance or “uncertainty” arise from causes not yet recognized or perceived.

Since Einstein’s death, some physicists like David Bohm have advanced theories which reconcile apparent contradictions between universal “causality” and quantum “uncertainty” and “non-locality” and they are thereby ever narrowing remaining apparent disparity between scientific and mystical views of “reality”.

“Science and religion will meet and shake hands…When the scientific teacher asserts that all things are the manifestation of one force, does it not remind you of the God of whom you hear in the Upanishads? Do you not see whither science is tending?”
~ Swami Vivekananda, London talk, 1896

As presciently envisioned by Swami Vivekananda, science and religion will ultimately agree on the ONENESS of phenomenal “reality”. And realizing such ONENESS, Humanity will at long last – as it must – discard destructive illusionary beliefs and behaviors which have brought it to the brink of ecologic, economic, inter-personal and international disaster.

Thereupon, Humankind and all other life-forms on our precious planet, will harmoniously and peacefully flourish and evolve with Nature.

And so it shall be!

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A Brain Scientist’s ‘No Brainer’ NDE

“The brain does not create consciousness,
but consciousness created the brain,
the most complex physical form on earth, for its expression.”
~ Eckhart Tolle
I regard consciousness as fundamental.
I regard matter as derivative from consciousness.
We cannot get behind consciousness.
Everything that we talk about, everything that we regard as existing,
postulates consciousness.
~ Max Planck, Nobel laureate physicist, as quoted in The Observer (25 January 1931)
“The very study of the physical world leads to the conclusion that
consciousness is an ultimate reality and,
all the possible knowledge, concerning objects
can be given as its wave function”
~ Eugene Wigner, Nobel laureate physicist and co-founder of quantum mechanics



For millennia mystics and seers have realized experientially that our space/time/causality reality is but a play of consciousness; that all impermanent appearances, all apparent forms and phenomena – including human brains – are but holographic projections of timeless Universal Awareness.

But very few scientists have shared this revelatory mystical world view. Most scientists do not regard as “real” that which is beyond perception and conception.

Rather than recognizing consciousness as the ultimate and eternal Source of our reality, reductionistic and materialistic mainstream science says that brains generate consciousness, and that we see via our brains.

However, there have been innumerable published reports of near death and out of body experiences and other mystical experiences which contradict this mainstream brain hypothesis. (*See footnote re Near Death Experiences [NDE’s].) Nonetheless, until now most brain scientists have dismissed these reports as untrustworthy “anecdotal” evidence. Rarely have mainstream brain scientists transcended their mistaken materialistic paradigm. But there have been noteworthy exceptions. (see e.g. Atlantic Monthly: The Science of Near-Death Experiences.)

Dr. Eben Alexander

Thus, in October 2012 Dr. Eben Alexander, a neurosurgeon who has taught at Harvard Medical School, went public with an autobiographical account of a life changing dramatic and vivid near death experience (NDE) of what he called “heaven” while he was in a week-long comatose state with a non-functional brain neocortex. (His best-selling first book, ”Proof of Heaven”, was published by Simon and Schuster on October 23, 2012.)

Dr. Alexander reported being told in “heaven”:

“‘You have nothing to fear. There is nothing you can do wrong.’ The message flooded me with a vast and crazy sensation of relief.”

He has written that prior to his NDE he did not believe in such experiences, and ‘scientifically’ dismissed them.

“As a neurosurgeon, I did not believe in the phenomenon of near-death experiences. I grew up in a scientific world, the son of a neurosurgeon. I followed my father’s path and became an academic neurosurgeon, teaching at Harvard Medical School and other universities. I understand what happens to the brain when people are near death, and I had always believed there were good scientific explanations for the heavenly out-of-body journeys described by those who narrowly escaped death.”

“According to current medical understanding of the brain and mind, there is absolutely no way that I could have experienced even a dim and limited consciousness during my time in the coma, much less the hyper-vivid and completely coherent odyssey I underwent.”

“There is no scientific explanation for the fact that while my body lay in coma, my mind—my conscious, inner self—was alive and well. While the neurons of my cortex were stunned to complete inactivity by the bacteria that had attacked them, my brain-free consciousness journeyed to another, larger dimension of the universe: a dimension I’d never dreamed existed and which the old, pre-coma me would have been more than happy to explain was a simple impossibility.”

Raised as a Christian, Dr. Alexander used the religious concepts of “God” and “heaven”, to describe his extraordinary experience.

“Communicating with God is the most extraordinary experience imaginable, yet at the same time it’s the most natural one of all, because God is present in us at all times. Omniscient, omnipotent, personal-and loving us without conditions. We are connected as One through our divine link with God.”

Apart from referring to God, he also identified unconditional Love as the the ultimate Reality and “basis of everything” that exists.

“Love is, without a doubt, the basis of everything. Not some abstract, hard-to-fathom kind of love but the day-to-day kind that everyone knows-the kind of love we feel when we look at our spouse and our children, or even our animals. In its purest and most powerful form, this love is not jealous or selfish, but unconditional. This is the reality of realities, the incomprehensibly glorious truth of truths that lives and breathes at the core of everything that exists or will ever exist, and no remotely accurate understanding of who and what we are can be achieved by anyone who does not know it, and embody it in all of their actions.”

With newfound openness to “anecdotal” evidence, Dr. Alexander now expresses optimism that as science and mysticism ever more agree, humankind will evolve to wonderful new states of being.

And so may it be!


*Near Death Experiences [NDE’s].

The term ‘Near Death Experience’ [NDE] was coined in 1975 by Raymond A. Moody, Jr., PhD, MD, in his book Life After Life which sold over thirteen million copies worldwide. Since then numerous NDE accounts have been published and discussed in mainstream media, on the internet, in films and videos, and in magazines and books. Many spiritually inspiring NDE stories have been published and researched by the International Association For Near-Death Studies [IANDS] and others. So NDE’s have become widely considered, especially by those who claim to have experienced them. And some non-materialist scientists cite NDE’s as evidence that consciousness survives physical death. For millions of people NDE’s, and other extraordinary mystical experiences, have proven to be spiritually inspirational, and transformative events, diminishing or ending fear of death and encouraging a newly open, trusting and loving lifestyle. (see e.g. Atlantic Monthly: The Science of Near-Death Experiences.)

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