The Upanishads and Quantum Physics both talk about reality.
Scriptures (sastras) tell us that the abstract Brahman (Para-Brahman) is creator and the physical universe is creation, existing in an intertwined, inseparable manner. Brahman is omnipresent. It is uncanny that the same Quantum Physics that runs our cell phone, computer and internet is currently revealing to us a similar nature of reality.
Modern cosmology and quantum field theory have brought us the discovery that the abstract, primary source of everything in the universe is ingrained in each minutest stitch of the fabric of space of the vast cosmos, thereby upholding and administering its fundamental aspects.
Our ever-changing physical reality is a direct manifestation of the timeless source. What was once thought to be sterile, empty space is now known to be an active participant in moulding the activities of our daily world as well as harbouring the source of everything tangible throughout the universe. Hence, we can recognise how the truer nature of reality described in the Vedas and Upanishads is anchored in modern science.
What’s missing here is awareness associated with Brahman. The phenomenon of awareness is common to all animate species; it is also at the core of cognition in any sentient being we consider capable of possessing consciousness.
Consciousness is the window through which we perceive reality and reflect upon emotions and feelings. Because it is both an instrument of perception and a perceived entity itself, consciousness is qualitatively different from anything else we know. So it could be a fundamental feature of the universe.
The subject of the origin and the nature of existence of consciousness is a scientific study in progress. Scientists are receptive to the idea of the Anthropic Principle whose corollary suggests that the conditions at the beginning of our universe had to be such as to presage the eventual emergence of intelligent beings like us.
Based on his “delayed choice” Quantum Physics experiment,physicist John Wheeler stated, “It is incontrovertible that the observer is a participator in genesis.” That is, awareness has been present from the very beginning of the universe, but its emergence needed the eventual development of an appropriate material structure in sentient beings. The question now begs itself: Can the source of everything physical also be entrenched with the source of consciousness?
Quantum Physics has compelled us to accept that two distinct and seemingly inconsistent elements of reality, like the particle and wave aspects of a quantum object, can coexist in a complementary way.
This paves the way for us to consider the possibility that the “non-material” source of consciousness could be entwined with the abstract quantum fields that are the primary source of all things physical.
Experiments reveal that quantum fields fluctuate spontaneously and unpredictably with mind-boggling speed, yet they have remained, on an average, exactly the same since the beginning of time, while all else in the universe has changed dramatically.
Does it not suggest the existence of some sort of self-referral associated with quantum fields that is responsible for maintaining their fidelity in spite of their immense dynamism? Thus, it is credibly indicative that self-referral, which is the hallmark of awareness is an inherent feature associated from the beginning with the ubiquitous quantum fields.
As envisioned by ancients, we can now perceive how the discoveries of modern science confirm that the source is inextricably intertwined with the creation.
The source is permanent while creation is ever-changing. But both are equally real. Can we not then declare: Brahman Satyam, Jagat Satyam (sarva khalv-idam brahma)? (Adapted from Times of India, January 12, 2012)