A conversation: consciousness and the connection to the universe
Excerpt from a long interview by Deepak Chopra with Stuart Hameroff:
DEEPAK: You know, it’s very interesting. I recently interviewed Hans Peter Duerr who was a colleague and student of Werner Heisenberg and actually they worked together for 20 years. The other day I asked him, “What is matter?” And he said “It doesn’t exist”. He said “there are happs”, happenings in consciousness, that are interpreted as matter. So I said, what really exists? And then he said, that the wrong question, it’s like asking (laughs), what’s the color of a circle? And you know, he confused me a lot, but now with what you’re saying — that moments of consciousness are a result of self-collapse. And these are discontinuities, but they happen so fast that they give us an experience of continuity.
STUART: Precisely. Actually, roughly forty times a second.
DEEPAK: All right, I see.
STUART: At least in our model they coincide with gamma synchrony EEG which is the best measure of consciousness. But it doesn’t have to be forty, and in fact the Dalai Lama selected some Tibetan monk meditators and sent them to Wisconsin, where Davidson’s Lab studied them during meditation. They found that their synchrony wasn’t at forty, but it was between 80 and 100 per second. So they were having more conscious moments per time than the rest of us in their meditative state and actually before they meditated, implying that chronic meditation actually changed the brain. So, I think that these “happses” as your colleague said or conscious moments or quanta of consciousness are pretty much like photons in the electromagnetic spectrum where you can have high energy, fast, high frequency photons like ultraviolet’s for example or slower, longer wavelengths like infrared. There is a spectrum of conscious events.
STUART: I think when we meditate or are in altered states, we shift to a higher frequency, which is also higher intensity, higher experience. Kind of like going from red to ultraviolet, something like that. When that happens, the outside world can slow down in perspective. So people in car accidents for example, when the car is spinning, report that the world slows down, because they have gone from say 40 to 80 conscious moments per second. The perception of the outside world appears slower. Great athletes say that when they’re playing well, the other team is in slow motion. Michael Jordan said that.
DEEPAK: Michael Jordan. Joe Namath once told me that when he was in a peak moment during the game, everything seemed to slow down and actually when he was scoring a touchdown, and there were literally thousands of people applauding, he saw everything in slow motion and total silence. There was no sound.
STUART: Fantastic. So, he might have gone from say 40 conscious moments per second to a 100 in that moment. So the outside slowed down or almost stopped even.
DEEPAK: And there was silence too. Because this raises the question. You said information is very fundamental in the universe. But were you implying that information is transcendent and non-local?