The Primacy of Consciousness
[copyright Peter Russell, 2008]
This essay presents the argument as to why the ultimate nature of reality is mental not material.
(Chapter contributed to The Re-Enchantment of the Cosmos by Ervin Laszlo)
See also video stream of presentation given at Physics of Consciousness conference.
Ervin Laszlo has proposed that the virtual energy field known as the quantum vacuum, or zero-point field, corresponds to what Indian teachings have called Akasha. the source of everything that exists, and in which the memory of the cosmos is encoded. I would like to take his reasoning a step further and suggest that the nature of this ultimate source is consciousness itself, nothing more and nothing less.
Again we find this idea is not new. In the Upanishads, Brahman, the source of the cosmos (literally, "that from which everything grows"), is held to be to Atman ("that which shines"), the essence of consciousness. And in the opening lines of The Dhammapada, the Buddha declares that "All phenomena are preceded by mind, made by mind, and ruled by mind".
Such a view, though widespread in many metaphysical systems, is completely foreign to the current scientific worldview. The world we see is so obviously material in nature; any suggestion that it might have more in common with mind is quickly rejected as having "no basis in reality". However, when we consider this alternative worldview more closely, it turns out that it is not in conflict with any of the findings of modern science—only with its presuppositions.