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IT from BIT from CHIT

*IT from BIT from CHIT*

Universe from Information from Consciousness

by Swami Sarvapriyananda

This fascinating talk is the exploration of the reality of IT (the Universe) from BIT (Universe reduced in terms of  Information predicted by quantum mechanics and mathematical equations) from CHIT Consciousness (the non-computable / non- quantifiable).  The talk covers the latest scientific understanding of the universe, mind, and proposals for Consciousness, and explores more complete answers from Vedanta.

*IT (Universe) as reality?*

How does one know the universe, “IT” as reality? Greek Philosopher, Aristotle said reality is basically “substance plus structure” (Hylomorphism).  [In Vedanta we recognize this as Brahman plus Nama Rupa Maya but there are some differences]. Greeks thought the substance was chaos and the structure was the real thing. [ Vedanta however says that substance-Brahman is the reality and Nama/rupa are just transitory].

Science investigates reality, looking for the "substance”, by breaking down matter in the universe into particles (molecules, atoms) and sub-atomic particles (electrons, quarks, zoo of particles etc).  They continue to find finer and finer structures and space in between which is measurable and observable in experiments. Scientist John Wheeler describes  Reality as consisting of "a collection of registrations on our instruments" (measurements, perceptions etc.).

*BIT (Information of Universe in terms of math predictions)*

However, further speculation and Mathematical equations lead them to theories of reality based on "strings", super symmetries, and pure geometry.  These are just mathematical predictions, as information, “BITS" (binary digits) of information.  So now the reality is described only in terms of mathematical equations.

Since this math came from the mind, (and not measured or perceived), this predicted universe is just in the mind a "subjective idealism work". This is also the domain of philosophy now. Scientists are talking about bundles of properties in which matter interacts with itself.  These are descriptions of Behavior/structure and not the actual stuff /substance.   This leads to the "hard problem of matter". Jim Holt points out that reality may be understood through mathematics, except consciousness cannot be described by mathematics.

We are always aware of ourselves and conscious of our feelings and objects around us.   Science is struggling to define consciousness.  Prof Penrose imagined it to be a triangle with the 3 corners as Universe (matter), Mathematics and Consciousness (not definable by Mathematics).  He also concluded that Universe is mathematical (probabilistic existence, etc).

In a thought experiment, “Knowledge argument” by Frank Jackson, scientist Mary grows up in a black and white world bunker, but gains all the physical knowledge about  colors and has expert understanding about how color red,  is created in the eye and brain. When she emerges from the bunker and sees a Red Rose,  She has an immediate "conscious, vivid experience".  That experience/feeling  was not describable by prior theoretical knowledge, hence physical knowledge is incomplete without actual conscious experience.

Scientists have observed millions of neurons firing and chemical reactions in the brain for perceptions of shapes etc., but emergence of consciousness from brain cells (and conscious feelings and experiences) is still a mystery, leading to the “Hard problem” of consciousness. Information BIT is not consciousness.

*Chit (Consciousness) as fundamental reality?*

However, when we check ourselves, we can directly feel, taste, smell fresh coffee and “know” that we are conscious beings.  Some scientists are now agreeing that Consciousness is a fundamental reality not produced by matter.  David Chalmers proposes that this Consciousness is everywhere "Pan psychism".  Timothy Sprig says that Consciousness must be the "substance" of the universe/reality whose structure only can be described by mathematics.  This solves the problem of experience (consciousness gives us experience,), and as the “stuff/substratum” of the universe, it permeates all universes.

However, this scientific explanation has a problem, called “combination problem". How does the distributed consciousness resolve into one brain/ mind such that we can say  "I" experience something.  A bizarre, Quantum entanglement theory is being proposed, in which various particles of Consciousness combine and behave as one in the mind (quantum psychology).  Jim Holt’s book “Why does the World Exist”, concludes by saying Reality is the "dream of a Mad philosopher", as it all happens in the mind.

*Vedanta provides better answers*

Vedanta resolves it simply by saying Mind/Brain are separate "objects" observed by the “subject consciousness”.  Any scientific study on the thoughts/emotions or experiences will only be on "objects" and not on the consciousness itself.  The witness/subject cannot be studied as an object.  Consciousness "illumines" objects when their image is presented by senses, the brain neurons and mind thoughts (past impressions), and then a feeling/experience arises in the mind. So, consciousness is different from the Mind.  It is just the illuminator.
As answer to the "combination problem", Vedanta explains that there is Ego (ahankara) the inner instrument/part of the mind that has the function to "integrate and appropriate" into Me/Mine, "I do, I enjoy" etc. However even this is separate and can be witnessed as an object. e.g., when in meditation/deep concentration/ or asleep, the Ego disappears.  Consciousness continues to "illuminate' the functions of the mind and every daily experiences.

Vedanta then continues from there, as in Bhagavad Gita, Chp 9, Verse 4 Krishna says, "I pervade this universe in my unmanifest form which is pure awareness pure Consciousness".  Consciousness pervades the universe but appears localized in the reflecting minds of the sentient beings.  Beings with purer minds will reflect consciousness more clearly.   Krishna then goes on to say " Actually, all beings are in Me, I am not in them".  Per Aristotle’s definition, Consciousness would be the Substance, the reality itself.  The structures are the changing body minds that reflect the consciousness.  Like ornaments in gold, or waves in water.  Effects exist in the Cause, like pots in clay.  The effects (pots, ornaments, waves) are always changing and impermanent and hence just appearances.  Similarly, body/minds are just appearances in the Consciousness/brahman.

In Verse 5, krishna says, "none of these beings are in me, witness the magic/glory of Maya shakti".  Universe is just an appearance; Brahman is the reality.  Importantly, there is no separate reality as the universe. e.g., wave cannot be separated from the water, or pot separate from the substance clay. All such appearances are just Nama/Rupa/Vyavahara Name/Form/Transactions only.  Consciousness does not become the universe, it remains as it is, and universe just appears [due to Jiva's ignorance].

The benefit of this knowledge is that fear of Terror and Temptation go away, and Jiva becomes a Jivan Mukta, freed while living.

This talk covered the exploration of IT from BIT from CHIT.  Universe, from Information from Consciousness as being studied by latest scientists and more complete answers from Vedanta.

Check out ** for more insights.

Science of Matter, Mind and Consciousness
  • Scientists describe the "quantitative properties and behavior" of aspects of the universe. i.e. in terms of measurable quantities, mass, speed, time, space, volume etc.  Using Math as the language.
  • Science and Math describe the "behavior"- (swabhava) of matter, but cannot describe the "instrinsic" nature (Swarupa) of nature.
  • Newtonian laws describe the classical physics, and they are still true at that gross level of objects, F=MA etc,
  • Einstein laws operate at relative levels of space/time / motion etc.. True at deeper cosmic level and indicate that space and time are not fixed, they are "adjustable" elements of matter
  • QFT (quantam level, particle, waves) laws describe randomness of appearance/manifestation of particles from waves and vice versa. "observation snap shot" indicates the instant value of the wave at that instant. it could be a wave or a particle.
  • Nuro-scientists have mapped the brain that correlates parts of the brain segments triggered by different external stimuli (seeing, hearing etc).
  • According to current brightest scientists themselves, still open questions:
    Material scientists have not figured out What "intelligence" causes the wave functions to collapse into measurable physical particles (with mass and properties). "Panpsychism" hypothesis of universal intelligence is one  theory being developed now.
  • Neuro scientists have not explained, how we "spontaneously experience the smell of fresh morning coffee, or the experience of wonder of a beautiful sunset". (or any other experiences). This requires a much more than a cohesive operation of the all parts of the mechanical brain. Considered to be a "mental capacity".. "Mind" cannot be quantified (weight, volume etc), only qualified.
  • western Scientists are just beginning to explore how we as "conscious beings" (Not zombies like robots) experience, measure, study, interact with the world. This is the only thing that matters to everyone one of us in the end.

Please check out the videos on "hard problem of consciousness" and other playlists below.

The mystery of consciousness and the Mind-Body-Problem. – Panpsychism theory

Extracted from video

  1. The conscious Mind
  • Humans have a mental “subjective experience” of the world. They smell, taste, feel, and remember experiences in the world.
  1. Why Consciousness?
  • It is the most important thing for our living. It is the reason we do anything, enquire into science, biology, philosophy. No good studying this for a zombie.
  1. The “hard problem”
  • It is the hardest problem in science and philosophy
  • Understanding Consciousness is key to understanding the universe and ourselves
  1. What is the problem?
  • How can mere matter originate Consciousness. Evolution does not explain this.
  • Is it a new kind of “reality” injected into the universe, instead of just a re-combination of the old realities.
  • Major gap between “qualitative experiences” and “quantitive measurements and analysis”
  1. Traditional solutions in scientific circles: a) Materialism or b) Dualism (and their limitations)

5.1 Materialism  (and its limitations)

- Evolutionary theory explains material changes to body and brains. It lacks in bridging the gap to “experiences”)

- “Conciousness is illusion theory” e.g. our experiences of blue sky or experience of sunset are not the reality.  The fact is that experiences exists, and needs to be explained, and humans and others live by experiences.

- neuroscientists (as reductionists) have mapped activities of specific parts of the brain that are stimulated by external events. However there is no observed  part/whole of the brain that integrates all the stimulated brain parts into one whole experience!  There is no “agent” inhabiting the brain – like “Catesian theater”.

-  AI, Zombie is defined as having “behavior” identical to humans but devoid of “conscious experiences”, a mindless “robot”.  Conscious beings are obviously not zombies.

5.2 Dualism (and limitations)

- Many scientists are spiritual and understand that the universe is material for quantitive measurements. So they put universe and Body as “matter” and “Soul” as “spirit” in completely separate domains.

- Property dualism theory. A theory that the separate “Mental experience is Consciousness ” is somehow connected with a loose property or a feature.  Consciousness as a fundamental element (as irreducible element alongside space, time) in the universe and in beings.

  1. Panpsychism Hypothesis

- coined by Thomas Nagel, 2012 (now gaining acceptance in some scientific circles.)

6.1.  A “metaphysical “description of the world, - which is the attempt to explain “how the world works in general”. It must include the conscious human subject!  The aim would be to offer a solution of “how we fit into the world”

6.2 “Matter” must have a “proto-mental” potential to produce consciousness!

6.3 This metaphysical hypothesis is usually call “Panpsychism”. “pan”-all, and “psych” -mind

- everything living or not has a nature that is both physical and nonphysical. All elements of the physical world are all mental.


  1. Does panpsychism really claim that consciousness is everywhere?.. i.e. in sticks, stones etc. Ans: There are gradations:  “Simple” (sticks, stones), “Compsite” (plants, protozoa etc), “compound “ (animals, humans with more developed minds). Only ‘genuine individuals’ that show signs of full spontaneity (to experience).
  2. Quantum physics gives only randomness. Ans: QFT only gives randomness, and not mind for free will. Could randomness (as seen from outside) be a “choice or decision” of QFT field collapse from inside the field itself?.  The universe shows evidence of the operations of mind on 3 levels:
    1. Frist level. Even at quantum levels, matter is not inert substance, but an active agent. nature forces choices (e.g. orbit of electron) between alternative possibilities or potentials based on probabilistic laws. Interaction between observer and observed forces the choice (collapse of wave function).  A proto-mind exists at quantum level.
    2. Second level. Development of Human mind as an amplification to the choices made at quantum level.
    3. Third level, by extension the mental component of cosmic universe is also present (can be called God).

‘Actuality’ or manifestation is due to  decision (of a mind) amid ‘potentiality’.

6.4 The most important “panpsychist” or “experimentalist” was Alfred North Whitehead 1933

- “Actual/final” events, entities, occasions are drops of experience, complex and interdependent.  Actual “things/objects” are “societies of drops”, ie collection of decisions leading to actualities.

- “Actuality is the decision amid “potentiality”- Consciousness may be a factor.

  1. Consciousness remains the mystery and panpsychism is a metaphysical hypothesis. Colin Mcgin 1999

- metaphysical hypotheses (as a general theory) is required.  This can be followed by metaphysical research programmes.

Consciousness, a Quantum Physics Perspective

Extracted from

Conciousness as a unified field.  - John Hagelin (PhD, Harvard) at Stanford

Perception, Brain and Consciousness

NOVA:  Perception, Brain and Consciousness video