LOS ANGELES, Calif. — The Copenhagen Interpretation of quantum mechanics, which was first proposed by Niels Bohr in the 1920s, remains the gold standard in this area of study. However, it is not universally accepted and its implications have been debated over the years. A two-day conference in the Southland, entitled, “Copenhagen Interpretation and Beyond,” did just this on Oct. 18 and Oct. 19 and drew an intimate crowd of intellectuals and scientists.
Among the highlights of the two-day hard science conference was a more human element: the warm greeting between Dr. John Hagelin and Dr. Deepak Chopra after several decades. Both subscribe to the Maharishi Yogi way of teaching and thinking and that the two leading lights were once again together was happily remarked upon by onlookers and organizers. Both are winners of the Doshi Family Bridge Builder award, which honors individuals fostering understanding between cultures, people and disciplines and, it seemed on this day, that the duo had built yet another bridge.
Hagelin, physicist, author and president of the Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield, Iowa; and Chopra, author and alternative medicine advocate, bookended day two of the conference held here at the Loyola Marymount University campus Oct.19.
The day opened with Thomas Poon, Provost of LMU, welcoming the audience, and Eric Strauss, Executive Director of the Center for Urban Resilience, remarking that consciousness is the most difficult phenomena for scientists to study.
In his presentation on day 1, Hagelin explained the hypothesis that mind and matter share a common source – the foundation of matter (unified field) and the foundation of mind (universal consciousness) are ultimately the same. He linked these findings to the oneness of human souls espoused in Hindu philosophical texts such as the Vedas and Upanishads. He ended his talk explaining the positive impact of transcendental meditation on U.S. military personnel.
In the first of two panel discussions, the panelists had to answer the question, ‘Is consciousness primary or secondary’? The panelists included Navin Doshi of Nalanda Foundation, Debashish Banerji of the California Institute for Integral Studies, Ulrich Mohrhoff of Sri Aurobindo Center of International Education, India, and Sanjay Kumar of Chapman University. Kumar said science faces a conundrum in explaining consciousness and reduces it as a function of the brain. Banerji was of the opinion that consciousness is qualitative and primary and not localized. Doshi read excerpts of aphorisms from his book, ‘Transcendence, Saving Us from Ourselves’, to assert that consciousness is primary.
The second panel discussed: “Implications of a new model of consciousness for the biological world.” Moderated by Strauss, the panelists were Carolyn Ristau from Columbia University, Kathleen Weaver of LMU, Ian Barnard from Chapman University, Neil Theise of New York University, and J.J. Rawlinson from Wallis Anneberg petSpace. They addressed the implications of consciousness in biology and animals and the context of the human-animal bond. This led to a lively and interesting debate about how humans interact with non-human animals. Are we wired to love them? Or are we imposing our will and projecting our own view of consciousness on them? Do animals have their own interpretation of consciousness that we are not aware of?
Chopra closed out the event with an invigorating speech, “Understanding the Meta Human.” In his characteristic style, he expanded on science and spirituality referencing different scientists, authors and saints. He said that there are 125 open questions in the universe which science has not been able to answer. In his speech, he tackled the first two: “What is the Universe made of?” and “What is the biological basis of consciousness?”
He argued that consciousness conceives, governs and constructs everything in existence. Pure consciousness precedes the conditioned mind and in order to understand it, we have to shift our identity to the source of all knowing.
He elaborated on the benefits of yoga and meditation, which helps human beings go beyond their perceptions and the illusion of existence and gain insight for a holistic view of the world. Chopra ended his speech with a quote from Rumi, “God’s language is silence, everything else is poor translation.”
The conference, which was sponsored by LMU, Chapman University, California Institute of Integral Studies, the Nalanda Consciousness Network and other participating organizations, began Oct. 18 at the Chapman University campus in the city of Orange. Hosted by the university’s president Daniele Struppa, it expounded on the Copenhagen Interpretation beyond the atomic range and was interspersed with informal discussion, remarks and open participation, including questions and answers with the presenters.