What is Universe that responds to our consciousness?
A different conception of the universe is essential to a full understanding of how and why The Secret works. This article examines in detail both the view of scientific materialism and an alternative view validated by personal life, history, literature, biography and spiritual experience.
Materialist’s view of the Universe
Western empiricism views Nature as a physical field containing living organisms and inanimate material objects. Modern science views life and consciousness as properties of individual forms, not as universal forces. To the materialist, the world is a creation out of inconscient, inanimate matter and energy resulting from the interaction of random chance and universal laws . Out of this inconscient, inanimate world, animate life forms and conscious human beings have somehow emerged due to a series of chance events, events so unlikely to occur on their own that they defy the laws of probability. Clearly there is no room for the conception of a conscious or responsive universe in this worldview.
Oddly enough, the greatest challenge to the materialist mindset has come from where it might be least expected – from the masters of matter – the physicists. Quantum theorists have observed the relationship between matter and the consciousness of the observer. Field theorists have begun to think of reality in terms of interconnected elements of a single continuous whole, rather than as separate, discrete, isolated parts interacting with one another. This does not mean that physicists will endorse the concept of a universe presented in The Secret, but it is possible that their recent discoveries will ultimately lead them to rediscover an ancient truth known since the beginning of recorded history, but recently forgotten or abandoned in an effort to reduce all reality to the formula of the empiricists. Clearly, the Quantum physicists interviewed for The Secret have already endorsed the concept.
Concept of a Conscious Universe
The conception of a conscious universe can be found in various Eastern traditions. The Vedas, Indian scriptures which are far older than the Gita, describe the universe as an ocean of conscious creative energy, hydra samudram. Taoism is founded on the conception of a universal field or flow, the tao, and states that the outcome of events depends on how each individual aligns with the flow. It advices us to align our personal will with the universal harmony. Poets such as Wordsworth and Whitman have experienced and described this universal consciousness.
Sri Aurobindo describes in detail this universal plane of Consciousness in Synthesis of Yoga and The Life Divine, both written before 1920. He explains its nature and attributes, how and from what it is created, how it acts and how it is evolving, as well as the precise relationship between cosmic consciousness and individual consciousness. It is the human ego that creates the sense of difference and separation between the individual and the universe. Our individual consciousness appears to us as something completely separate from the world around us. Actually, the separation is only a physical appearance. Our thoughts, feelings and impulses are in constant communication with the universe and it is constantly responding to them. Our individual consciousness shares the same creative power and creates by the very same process of creation as the cosmic consciousness. Although the human ego feels dwarfed and insignificant in the face of the infinite universe, Sri Aurobindo states that to the universal consciousness, the individual is not insignificant. The universal does not judge importance based on size or quantity. Every individual form in the universe is an expression of the Infinite. The universe manifests its aspirations and powers in and through individual centers of consciousness. Fulfillment of individual aspirations is a means by which the universal consciousness fulfills its own evolutionary objectives. That explains why some individuals are able to accomplish extraordinary feats on a universal scale or with universal repercussions. The nature and character of the universal life is explored more fully in the portals on Spirituality and Life Portal and in the projects on Theory of Creation and Pride & Prejudice.
This universe, according to The Secret, responds to our thoughts and aspirations. It responds to the qualities of our psychological energies by presenting that which is a complement to the vibrations we emit. The Secret refers to this mechanism as the law of attraction. Science has discovered a law of attraction between oppositely charged electro-magnetic particles. There is a universal truth behind this law that expresses differently in different planes of existence. Since reality is an integrated whole, it seeks to express that wholeness in every action.
- Matter is rigid and fixed. Therefore, in the plane of matter the principle of oneness expresses as the attraction of opposites, which complement one another like the physical complementarity of the sexes.
- Mind divides reality into fragments. Therefore, in the plane the mind, the principle of oneness expresses in the form of complementary aspects of truth that combine to form a greater whole, a more complete truth. The curious mind seeking knowledge attracts to it that which complements or completes what it already knows, often the form of a truth quite opposite to what it has already accepted.
- Life is a plane of energy and will. The will is a vibration seeking completeness which is put out by the separate ego to the universe around it. The universe, which is the complement of the individual, responds in kind with a similar vibration. The capacity of our will to attract that which is in harmony with its vibrating frequency, is known as Life Response.
At the very moment this paragraph was being written, a book arrived from amazon.com entitled The Science of Oneness by Malcolm Hollick, which also presents an alternative view of the universe based on consciousness. This is an example of Life Response. Consciousness has the power to attract that which it takes interest in, that which will complete it. The freelance reporter who approached Jack Canfield offering to write an article for National Enquirer was a precise life response to his thought and aspiration.
One need not endorse this view of a conscious universe in order to verify the reality of Life Response. A close observation of one’s thoughts, attitudes and feelings during the course of a single day is usually sufficient. All who try to recollect key turning points in their lives will find critical events involving apparently chance or unbelievable coincidences. A book gifted by an acquaintance or falling off the shelf of its own accord becomes the occasion for a change of career or country. An accidental meeting brings you into contact with the future most-important-person in your life. A missed flight results in unexpected good fortune or a narrow escape from calamity. A full comprehension of the factors determining the nature of Life Response is a subject for a lifetime of study, but the fact that it exists can be ascertained by all who are willing for careful, unbiased observation of the events in their own lives. For a full discussion of the theory and principles of Life Response, see the Life Portal. For a detailed illustration of it, see Pride & Prejudice project.
Analogy to Society
Society is a good analogy for this universe. On the surface, human society appears to consist of a large number of individual beings and activities, each freely pursuing its own objectives. In fact, members of society share a common set of ideas, thoughts, values, beliefs, psychological characteristics, attitudes, aspirations, behaviors, ambitions, manners, information, skills, preferences, etc. Surely this commonality is not the result of chance. It is the result of the fact that even when we are most conscious of our separateness and difference from each other, our lives are all connected and we are made of the same stuff. This society is not only the source of our sameness, but it is also a continuous source of support. It is continuously throwing up opportunities and continuously responding to what we do. If we are successful, it praises us. If we violate its norms, it reprimands us. It places the collective discoveries of the past at our service, so each of us need not reinvent the telephone, TV, airplane or computer in order to use them. In fact, we need not even know how they work. It is enough we take advantage of the powers they place at our disposal. Society takes note of the enterprising and the talented by presenting opportunities for them to excel. It takes note of the lazy and the unproductive by pressurizing them to change. This society has no conscious center and seems to function without conscious intention. It acts and reacts in highly predictable ways by means of gossip, rumor, popularity, status and countless other mechanisms, apparently without conscious intention or initiative.
The Secret characterizes the universe as a genie waiting to fulfill our wishes. This is an oversimplification similar to saying that society exists only to fulfill the wishes of each of its individual citizens. In fact, society has its own aims and objectives which are expressions of a subconscious social will. Society extends support to its individual members in the measure their aims and actions are in consonance with its own larger purpose. Today societies around the world aspire for the education of all their citizens, for better communication, transportation, greater freedom, prosperity, economic security, comforts of life. The aspirations of most individuals are an expression of the social aspiration and fully in harmony with it, so the society supports the pursuit of these aims by its members. But that was not always true. Not long ago, those who aspired for wealth, education, higher status or more freedom were frowned upon or rejected. Pride & Prejudice depicts a period 200 years ago when those of lower social origin were looked down upon for seeking to rise in society. Only landholding males could vote in England until after 1850 and English women did not win suffrage till 1920. Today, most modern societies extend a helping and protective hand to the poor, women, minorities, and even the physically impaired.
The individual is not merely a beneficiary of social largess. He is also an instrument for social progress. The individual is the instrument through which society introduces new ideas, attitudes and practices. The initiatives of pioneering individuals are mechanisms through which the collective fulfills its aspiration for change. The conscious thoughts and intentions of creative individuals give expression to new possibilities, which later spread from the individual to the collective. The conscious aspirations of dynamic individuals give expression to new impulses, which the collective wants to encourage. Successful entrepreneurs are heroes in most countries today, because they express the aspiration of society for greater individual initiative and accomplishment. The conscious will of the individual does matter, because it is an expression of and representative of the subconscious will of society. Society speaks to itself in and through its outspoken individuals and it responds to what they say. For a complete discussion of the role of the individual in social development, see Social Development.
The Aim of the Universe
What is true for society is also true for the wider life of the universe. As the society has a subconscious aspiration for its own development, which includes that of its individual members, the universal consciousness also has a subconscious aspiration for its own evolution, an evolution of consciousness, which includes the evolution of conscious human beings. The universe is working out this aim in and through the actions and lives of countless individuals.
For a fuller discussion, see Spiritual Evolution. The consciousness of the individual is an expression of that universal consciousness. The individual responds to its subconscious intention and gives conscious expression to it. As the power for accomplishment in society is the power of the society which it lends to the individual for use, so too the power for accomplishment in life is the power of the universal life which lends itself to the individual for use. Individual will is one expression of the will of the universal life. So long as it is in harmony with that wider will, life responds to the individual will. The clearer the objective the individual formulates, the more intense the will with which the individual aspires, the greater is the response of the universe to the individual.
What is the aim of the universe? According to Sri Aurobindo, it is to fully manifest the infinite potentials of Spirit. Since Spirit is infinite, it can only do that by creating a world of infinite variation and individuality. The destiny of each Individual is to give perfect expression to one aspect of Spirit. The Eternal is striving to manifest itself in and through individuals.
We see today signs of this spiritual evolution at the level of unprecedented material abundance. In the past abundance was possible for only a small elite. Today billions of people are enjoying the fruits of prosperity. Tomorrow everyone will. There was a time when only the richest people had automobiles, telephones, houses or abundant food and clothing. Today public transport brings the convenience of the automobile or train to everyone. The phone has become ubiquitious. Technology is spreading material abundance around the world.
It is only the beginning. In the next stage, money will become as common and abundant -- everyone will have as much as they want or need. Beyond that it will not serve any practical purpose. Even today many people have more than they need for any practical purpose and only derive some social prestige from having more than others. Soon even the prestige of being rich will vanish the way the prestige of being a college graduate no longer has the social value it had 50 years ago, because it is so commonplace. The Theory of Money Project explores how money is created in society and how we can create as much as we want.
At a later stage, the same will be true of genius. The world will create millions of geniuses the way today it creates millions of engineers, doctors and PhDs. There is no inherent limit to our capacity to expand our intelligence because the source of that intelligence is universal.
Can the universe create abundance of this magnitude? It can create abundance of any magnitude because its source is Infinity. It contains the potential for infinite creation.
Conceiving of the Conscious Universe
When the mind tries to conceive of the immensity of the universe and relate to it, it expands and is lifted above the surface consciousness into the Timeless plane. The power released by that wider conception and identification with the universe supplies the energy needed for accomplishment.