Consciousness and Unity
Theoretical physicist and Nobel-laureate Erwin Schrödinger was one of the greatest physicists of the 20th century. In his books “What is life” (1944) and “My view of the world” (1964) he puts forward his thoughts about the nature of consciousness.
According to Schrödinger
“consciousness is a singular of which the plural is unknown; that there is only one thing and that what seems to be a plurality is merely a series of different aspects of this one thing, produced by a deception.”
In his books he refers to the Upanishads insight:
“Atman = Brahman means the personal self equals the omnipresent, all-comprehending eternal self”
To Schrödinger, consciousness is only One, singular and identifiable with its universal source: Brahman, the Absolute.
The statement that “consciousness is One, singular” is similar to Plotinus’s famous statement that “the Absolute is one without a second”.
The Absolute transcends space and time, being timeless and spaceless. Albert Einstein made the following, remarkable statement directly addressing this point:
“For us convinced physicists, the distinction between past, present and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion. … . Time is not at all what it seems. It does not flow in only one direction, and the future exists simultaneously with the past” (Einstein) [Marey Midley; ”The myths we live”, 2003.] .
“A human being is part of the whole, called by us “Universe”; a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself his thoughts and feelings …as something separated from the rest- a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness” (Einstein) [Quoted in H. Eves; ‘Mathematical circles’, Adieu, Boston 1977.].
Here the simultaneousness of past and future and the non-separateness, the eternal now and the oneness refers to the Absolute which transcends time and space as Ultimate Reality.
The ideas relating to the Absolute or pure consciousness, put forward by Schrödinger stand in sharp contrast with the generally held belief in the Western world that the brain generates consciousness and that consciousness is an epiphenomenon (‘secondary phenomenon which results from another’) of brain activity.
As Schrödinger indicated, this point of view relating to the Absolute as pure consciousness, has already been described by many mystics throughout the centuries. He calls it “the greatest of thoughts”. In his book “What is life”, 1944.
Richard Bucke, who did a classical study into this subject, described it with the term “cosmic consciousness” which is the title of his book. Krishnamurti, in his dialogue with theoretical physicist David Bohm, said that consciousness comes from a (cosmic) ‘ground’, which includes the whole universe.
The Upanishads speak of ‘Atman = Brahman’. Christ referred to his indivisible whole in his statement that
“the Father and I are one”.
Edward Carpenter, a leading philosopher in late 19th- and early 20th-century Britain, described it as follows:
“This consciousness is the feeling that oneself is all these objects, things and persons and the whole universe”
The realization that the Absolute and pure consciousness are identical becomes clear when one is in turiya (‘state of being in which a person is one with the Absolute’). During the night, the body falls asleep, but a person who is in turiya stays fully conscious 24 hours a day.
Turiya is the Atman point = union with the Absolute.
Turiyatita is the Brahman point = supreme identity with the Absolute.