Consciousness Mechanics

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A sound theory of consciousness has to integrate mechanistically our understanding of nature and latest physical theories. It also has to provide insights to puzzles in natural sciences and those theories.

Introduction

Latest theories in physics while pushing boundaries are raising more weird questions. These questions come from concepts like extra dimensions, parallel worlds, multiverse, digital philosophy, and simulated hypotheses. These questions are in addition to a big piece of unsolved puzzle – consciousness. The role of consciousness on matter has been fiercely debated since the discovery of quantum mechanics a 100 years ago. Many heavy weights of physics also recognize the role of consciousness is key, but so far there is no conclusive understanding on what consciousness is and its role on matter. The latest physical theories have a single common purpose in mind – unification.  Strangely, the effort of unification with only the physical in mind is raising more questions on our subjective experience and reality. Is there a solution to this misery?

Key Points

  • Consciousness found in String Theory.
  • There is a closely knitted structure of nature.
  • There is no other physical parallel universe.
  • We are the parallel universes.
  • We collectively shape the physical universe.
  • We live in the universe hologram.
  • All that we experience are illusion.
  • There is no universe programmer and computer.
  • We are the programmer and the computer.
  • Basic colors of the universe give rise to everything in the universe.
  • Mathematics in string theory are expression of Yogacara doctrines.

Consciousness found in String Theory

String theory is one of those theories for unification. It is seen as the strongest candidate for theory-of-everything.  String theory has gone through many ups and downs. One of the reasons it made many physicists switched camp was that graviton, a quantum force carrier of gravity, appeared automatically and persistently in the mathematics. Initially not knowing it was graviton, many attempts were made trying to remove it but failed. This happened at a time when many competing theories were being developed to hunt for a theory of quantum gravity. And none of these theories survive. Gravity is required and inserted itself into string theory.

Another strange requirement of string theory is that it has to work in certain specific number of dimensions: 26 (bosonic string theory), 10 (superstring theory), and 11 (M-theory). The smallest form of all particles is said to be a string vibrating within a 6 extra spatial dimensions in the superstring theory (SST). That is 10 dimensions minus 4 for spacetime. The 6 extra dimensions are compacted into a space so tiny that they cannot be seen. The compactification of the 6 extra spatial dimensions are called the Calabi-Yau manifolds (CYM).  String has to work in this configuration. Any other configuration, for example adding extra spatial dimensions will not work. (Bosonic string theory and M-theory are different.) As a theory-of-everything, string theorists have found consciousness in the most general sense – the Calabi-Yau manifolds, without realizing it.  Consciousness is also required in string theory.

Together with the concept of parallel worlds, string theorists have developed an almost complete model on consciousness to matter. But string theorists, like in the days of discovery of graviton, have not fully understood the implications.

Consciousness to Matter

Sentient beings’ psychological worlds collectively determine the physical world is central to Buddhism. Sentient beings are said to be merely transient entities of the Five Aggregates (TFA): Consciousness, Mental (Formations), Sensations, Perceptions, and Matter.  Consciousness are of 6 types: Ear, Eye, Nose, Tongue, Body, and Mind.  Matter is said to be made up of the Six Great Elements (TSGE): Consciousness, Space, Wind, Water, Fire, and Earth.  The last 4 are symbolic as they relate to TFA and mean: interact / move / grow (Mental), connect (Sensations), change / mature (Perceptions), hold (Matter). In physics, they are gravity, EM, weak, and strong respectively. Traces of TSGE can also be found in organic chemistry, cells, and brains and body building up to sentient beings like us.  They can be organized and provide a Structure of Nature (SON). (Diagram) They shall be called Type C, 1, 2, 3, and 4 instead of Consciousness-Consciousness, Mental-Wind, Sensations-Water, Perceptions-Fire, and Matter-Earth respectively.

Structure of Nature

Gravity in general relativity equation has 8π while π is recently found in hydrogen atoms (organic chemistry). They are both Type 1 interaction and are related to Mental. Sensations has 2 pairs of 4 states: dissatisfaction / satisfaction and pleasure / displeasure just like electromagnetism – / + and S / N which are Type 2 interaction. Our nervous system which is responsible for our sensation also carries electrical signals. Sensations is part of Mental, meaning Type 2 is within Type 1, this is gravitoelectromagnetism. W/Z bosons of weak interaction converts neutron to proton and vice versa. They position gluons to form new atoms. This is Type 3 interaction which is the same as centrioles in cells positions nucleus to split before forming new cells. Carbon, the back bone of organic compounds holding the other elements together, is the same as gluons for strong interaction which holds quarks and nucleus together. They are Type 4 interaction. More and more new studies are pointing to this tightly knitted Structure of Nature. For example, a recent study found our brains work in 11D. This is a Type C element similar to Calabi-Yau manifolds. Another example is a recent theory which says the purpose of life is hydrogenating carbon dioxide. This theory points to a Type 1 to Type 4 sequence at the level of organic compound.

Note that Type 3 interaction is a catalyst force (symmetry breaking in physics) for maturity and for growth. In physics it is the weak force, in organic chemistry it is nitrogen, and in cells it is in centrioles. This explains why weak interaction is the only one that violates parity.

Superstring Theory and Buddhism

In string theory, 10 dimensions SST explains all particles in our universe.  SST is a continuation of an earlier version of 26 dimensions bosonic string which explains only bosons. Minus 4 spacetime dimensions, there are 6 and 22 extra spatial dimensions respectively. This is no coincidence to 6 Consciousness in TFA comes from 22 Indriyas in Buddhism. Strings vibrating within the CYM in SST can be open or close. Strings interacts with other strings. Examples are photon string and electron string which interact with each other, the photon string could be absorbed into the electron string.

With this ability to interact and change, string or the CYM in SST is consciousness in the most general senses as the first element of TSGE. SST also goes through the sequence like TSGE.  Atoms are found to be 99.999999999% empty and therefore string theory requires the CYM to first create Space. This is the second element in TSGE. The last 4 elements in TSGE are explained in SON above. They are gravity, EM, weak, and strong. What are described in SST equals to those in TSGE.  But TSGE is more complete in explaining the level above physics building up to brains and body.

Dimensions, Consciousness, and Types

For simplicity, extra spatial dimensions and consciousness should be considered as energy. There are many types of consciousness in Buddhism, here are definition of two types: those in general and related to Matter in TSGE, and those related to sentient beings in TFA. The former – Consciousness in TSGE or CYM in SST are consciousness in general. They aggregate up to form organic compounds, cells, and our brains and body physically. This consciousness in general explains the results of many experiments showing water and plants are consciousness. For life or existence of sentient beings in this world, there must be a union of the two.  Without the latter, a physical body is just dead without life.

Note that they both share a same architecture and structure of 22/6/4. Their relationship is similar to hardware and software.

Parallel Worlds and Symmetry Breaking

Rigorous mathematics in SST, with the intention to accurately calculate particles and matter, ended up with the strange requirement of parallel worlds. Physicists think that many of these parallel worlds exist around us.  Conservative estimate puts the number to 10500. These parallel worlds are required to constantly interact with our physical world. But they are nowhere to be found.

They are not physical universes. These parallel worlds are the psychological universes of sentient beings in the form of TFA – as they are of the same mathematics and structure of 22/6/4. Our brain is a condensed version of the universe is a decade-old idea. Many studies have shown formation of brain neurons mirror the formation of stars and galaxies in the universe.  Recent study even shows that our brains work in 11D.  This is close to dimensions in string theory. Our brains or we are the parallel universes.

One of the reasons where parallel worlds are required is symmetry breaking. Physicists think symmetry breaking is responsible in shaping our universe. But the source of symmetry breaking is unknown. In Buddhism, Perceptions in TFA is responsible for formation of preferences, likes or dislikes, concepts, and etc. Therefore Perception is responsible for symmetry breaking. This is the characteristics of all Type 3 interactions in SON. It explains why Matter follows Perceptions in TFA.  To summarize:

  • Sentient beings’ psychological universes in the form of TFAs: Consciousness > (leads to) > Mental > Sensations > Perceptions (through symmetry breaking) > Matter
  • Matter=TSGE=SST+SON=Physical universe
  • Physical universe (SST): CYM > (Space >) > gravity > EM > weak > strong
  • Physical universe (SON): Type C > Type 1 > Type 2 > Type 3 > Type 4

The above shows mechanistically how consciousness of sentient beings through their TFAs (psychological universes) and TSGE leads to the formation of physical world. Note that symmetry breaking is not just happening at the physics level. It also takes place at the level of organic compounds and cells.

There is no other physical universe around us – they are in us.  We are the parallel worlds. This explains a 100-year old mystery – the observer effect in quantum mechanics.  In Buddhism, other than those existence on the Earth, there are many other forms of existence. Some beings do not rely on organic compounds to survive and some are even formless.  So 10500 is a fair or, possibly, a low estimate.

Hologram and M-theory

Physicists think that there is a possibility the entire universe is a projection of a hologram. This idea comes from the fact that quantum information about all 3D objects in the universe is encoded on a 2D surface around all 3D objects.  Think of a person’s image reflected on a mirror. Assuming all the images in the mirror, the person, the background, and the person’s clothing, can be encoded as 2D information on the surface of the mirror. The 2D information on the mirror and the person outside of the mirror seems to exist at the same time. Question was raised: how could this be possible? But not for long, the 11 dimensions M-theory, which was originally introduced to unify different versions of SST into a single theory, was found to allow a dimension for this information to be stored. After years of research, the 2D information seems more fundamental than the 3D objects in this duality. This leads to wild questions like “Is the universe a computer program?” and “Where is the programmer?”.

7th and 8th Consciousness

Buddhism proposed this concept as early as 4th century CE. It is called the Alaya Consciousness or 8th Consciousness in the Yogacara school. Yogacara school is also called the Mere-Consciousness school or Consciousness-Only school following the teaching that all our experiences, whether mental or physical, are nothing but illusion.

8th Consciousness as consciousness is very different from the first 6 Consciousness in TFA.  Similarly, the 11th dimension in M-theory is very different from the first 6 extra spatial dimensions in SST. 8th Consciousness is an information store. But it is extremely dynamic. All our experiences, psychological or physical, are the result of reflection from the information stored in the 8th Consciousness.  So far it is quite similar to the duality in physics. 8th Consciousness, according to the theory, is capable of Mental, Sensations, and Perceptions as well. This could likely be related to the super-gravity in M-theory.

But the Yogacara doctrine is more complete with the definition of 7th Consciousness.  Simplistically, think of 8th Consciousness as DVD, 7th Consciousness as DVD Player, and the first 6 Consciousness as images and sound.  Our everyday physics (experiences of 6 Consciousness) are no more than the images reflected from the information store (8th Consciousness). They are all dynamic. It is through this mechanism, our mental and physical experiences arise.  They are all nothing but illusion or information.

Digital Philosophy and Simulated Hypothesis

8th Consciousness defines areas within the information store that can be shared and areas that are private. To fully understand the mechanism of the Yogacara doctrine will take a long time.  Let us have a sense of this illusion theory here.

The Consciousness in TFA of sentient beings writes information through the Mental, Sensations, and Perceptions sequence until a point when symmetry breaking takes place and Matter is formed. Note that there is no physical reality, including the formation of Matter, but all are just information. We can regress this as far back as we would like and look for the original point, but this is futile in Buddhism. (The history of universe, with the parallel worlds concept, has a more gradual development compared to the Big Bang theory.)

Fast forward to now, think of John pouring water in his jar into the cup of Harry.  This action causes information to be written. (This is the same understanding in physical theories.) Not only John’s action, but everything about John, his physical body, every details in the internals of his body, the water, the jar, and all the items in the setting like furniture are all nothing but just information. John and his experiences are nothing but aggregates of information through his 8th Consciousness, 7th Consciousness, and TFA. What happens to Harry is while John is performing the act of pouring water, John’s aggregates of his 8th Consciousness, 7th Consciousness, and TFA are playing out the information that are just written down by John through the common shared area.  There is absolutely no physical things or reality.  All these happen at the speed interval of less than 10-33 of a second.

If we take away TFA and the 7th Consciousness with its play back ability, the above description is a valid physical theory.  This Yogacara concept as unbelievable as it sounds, is getting closer to reality when physicists attempt to push boundaries for our understanding of nature.  Even without these theories, physicists already suspect that our experiences are just illusion.  This is because the outermost layer of our bodies are all electrons.  It is the same for all other objects. In physics, our bodies can never ever tough any object or any person at all because of the Pauli Exclusion Principle.  (Two electrons will not touch each other.) Therefore our senses are likely to be illusion.

We are the Programmer and the Computer

The scenario described above is the same as simulated games.  This is the similar to the concept of simulated hypothesis. But there is no computer and no programmer to be found. Recall how the above illusion got started. It was us who wrote the information in the shared areas of the 8th Consciousness. And it is through our 8th Consciousness, 7th Consciousness, and TFA that the illusion arise. The above sequence repeats and in turn causes our TFA to be altered or conditioned repeatedly with countless sensory information.  It is therefore, our 8th Consciousness, 7th Consciousness, and TFA which collectively make up the computer. We are the programmer and we are also the computer through our Mind and actions.

What is real?

If John, Harry, and all that we experience are illusion, then what is real? This question crosses to the domain often thought of as religious practice. The above understanding leads to the teaching of no-self, impermanence, detachment, emptiness, and so on. But there is something that is more fundamental below at the bottom most layer. It is, according to Mahayana Buddhism, Heart.  Heart, Citta in Sanskrit, is often translated to mind in English.  This translation grossly undermines the concept of Heart.  As you will see, there is a true substance of Heart which is different from Mind, and both are often confused with Mind Consciousness.  According to Buddhism, everything that we know, mental or physical are created by the Heart. That means the 8th Consciousness, 7th Consciousness, TFA, and TSGE, also those from various physical theories, are created by the Heart.

Basic Colors of the Universe

In 26 dimensions bosonic string theory, physicists found only bosons and not fermions.  Fermions are real matter or building blocks of the universe compared to bosons which are force carriers. There are also anomalies found. Among them is a tachyon particle. Tachyon has imaginary mass and travel faster than the speed of light and if found will create havoc as it violates causality. Here comes the big difference – what is undesirable to physicists, as physicists are looking for physical formulation, could be desirable for Buddhist practices. The reverse is true. The latter is looking for detachment and formless existence than physical existence. To look for fermions, string theory moved to SST with 10 dimensions or 6 extra spatial dimensions. Somehow, SST is able to go to the 6 extra spatial dimensions without relying on the 22 extra spatial dimensions in bosonic string.  Or the new string theories look more for physical formulation rather than true natural existence (like anomalies), this results in a great miss as it is in the 22 extra dimensions where the basic colors of the universe can be found.

22 Indriyas and Heart

In Buddhism, there is a concept of 22 Indriyas. Indriyas can be thought of as pockets of power or energy. In the state of Indriyas, there is no Matter as Matter is part of TFA and Indriyas are pre-TFA. This is the reason why fermions cannot be found in bosonic string theory.  (Interestingly, some effort is going on to look for boson consciousness and preliminary study indicates that it could exist.)

The 22 Indriyas are divided into 2 Doors.  Simplistically, Door 1 has to do with sentient beings’ experience of the physical world.  Door 2 has to do with sentient beings’ exiting the physical world towards Nirvana.  Most of the time, sentient beings are in between the 2 doors more towards Door 1.  Buddha and other enlightened beings are towards Door 2. (Doors 2 is where anomalies in physics are found.)  These 22 Indriyas are also divided into 4 groups. Those in Group 1 are dependent energy for existence. Group 2 can simplistically be considered as a source energy for Group 1. Group 3 is kind of a reservoir of existence. Group 4 is sensations of the Doors. There is a very clear classification of the above as followed (omitting names of most Indriyas, though very crucial, for simplicity):

  • Door 1: Group 1: I1 (Eye), I2 (Ear), I3 (Nose), I4 (Tongue), I5 (Body), and I6 (Mind).
  • Door 1: Group 2: I7, and I8.
  • Door 1: Group 3: I9.
  • Door 1: Group 4: I10 (dissatisfaction), I11 (satisfaction), I12 (displeasure). I13 (pleasure), and I14 (indifference).
  • Door 2: Group 1: I15, I16, I17, I18, I19, and I6**.
  • Door 2: Group 2: I20.
  • Door 2: Group 3: I21.
  • Door 2: Group 4: I22, I11**, I13**, and I14** (**repeats of above).

The above structure conforms to a 4 x 6 lattice which defines the smallest packing order (4 groups and 6 Indriyas in Group 1).  In other words, it is the smallest possible way energy can be organized. This is a concrete definition of Heart. (Diagram) It is through combination of these 22 Indriyas, TFA are formed. Consciousness, Mental, Sensations, Perceptions, and Matter are cocktail combinations of these 22 Indriyas. They are the basic colors of the universe. This is similar to the 3 basic colors in a CRT which projects all images onto a TV screen. Though it is not studied, the 6 extra spatial dimensions in SST must have their origins from the 22 extra spatial dimensions in the same structure as described here. Note that Mind Consciousness, one of the 6 Consciousness in TFA, is a product with the Mind Indriyas as main ingredient. Therefore, the concepts of Mind Consciousness, Mind Indriyas, and Heart are very different concepts.

Group 4 of Door 1 has 5 states. They permeates the entire physical universe. The first 2 states (I10 and I11) are related to bodily sensations and the last 3 states (I12, I13, and I14) are related to psychological sensations.  They are related to electricity and magnetism respectively with I14 representing monopole. This explains the duality in which electricity field equals magnetic field plus monopole. It also explains why monoploe appears everywhere in physical theories.

Notice that Doors 1 and 2 are opposites.  Bosonic string theory uses the number of -1/12 and a quantum probability of ½ was applied which resulted in -1/24 (26 dimensions are derived later through a series of mathematics).  Doors 1 and 2 are like a quarter on a table (quantum probability of ½), what we can see is either head or tail, but the other side is always there.  It cannot be seen. This understanding and the above 5 states, could explain many phenomena in science especially in physics.

Buddhism and Mathematics

Can Buddhism concepts be expressed mathematically? Most Buddhist scholars would strongly reject this idea.  But it should be obvious by now that all mathematical expressions in string theory are also mathematical expressions of Yogacara doctrine.

Imaginary number are called imaginary because most do not think it is real. In Buddhism, what ordinary people consider as real are illusion and vice versa. We are said to be living in the inverse world.  The Heart resides in a realm that is hidden from us.  This realm is called the Tathagata (it is not just the title of Buddha) which we cannot imagine just like √-1. Now close your eyes and imagine what were in your lunch plate yesterday, image of your lunch plate appears. The Heart can reach places without space and time boundary. Similarly, with √-1 no equation (like X2 + 1 = 0) remains unsolved. All our experiences, mental and physical, are created by the Heart as explained above. All quantum formula explaining our physical world requires √-1.  So is √-1 imaginary or real?   Sometimes 8th Consciousness is also called Tathagata Warehouse. This has the meaning that 8th Consciousness is residing in the Tathagata realm.  According to Mahayana Buddhism, everything we know comes from Tathagata.  This is the same as quantum mechanics where all phenomena have relation to √-1.

Euler’s identity e+ 1 = 0 has been admired as a mathematical beauty.  Though it can be proven mathematically, what is the story it is telling is not yet known.  Now going back to Structure of Nature, there is a sequence of arising from Type C to Type 4 interactions in nature. Type C has the characteristics of i (Tathagata, Heart, and Consciousness). Type 1 and 2 interactions have the characteristics of π (Newton’s and Coulomb’s laws of attraction have to do with radius). Type 3 interaction has the characteristic of e where it is due to change or mature. Type 4 interaction is the interaction of finalization or something appearing. It has the meaning of -1. So the story of Euler’s identity reads: with Consciousness (i) as the subject through constant interaction (i x π) when reaching maturity (e), something appears. (eiπ  =  -1). This law is universal and applicable to all natural sciences from physics, to organic chemistry, cells, and brains and body as in Structure of Nature.

Study of Brains

How do our brains get their folding structure from fertilized eggs? A quick study of human brains (Diagrams) shows that the 6 Consciousness is related to the inner brain.  Incidentally, the inner brain resembles a more complex structure of CYM. This could not be a coincidence as CYM is of the same structure as the 6 Consciousness. Our brains, cells in the brains, and their organic compounds are aggregated by the aggregates of CYMs physically. The inner brain or our 6 Consciousness are reflected in the various sensory cortices, cerebellum, amygdala, and thalamus with the last 3 related more to Mind Indriyas and Mind Consciousness. The frontal lobe, the parietal and the occipital lobes, and the temporal lobe are related to Mental, Sensations, and Perceptions respectively. A rough look at the inner brain shows roughly 20 plus areas depending on how we dissect it. A  way to study our brains is to look for the 22/6/4 structure.

Conclusion

Buddhism provides a complete picture from consciousness to matter. It provides an integrated picture to the unsolved puzzles in our understanding of science and advanced physical theories. It is able to provide insights into science like in Structure of Nature, physics, and mathematics. Science and theoretical physics have also come a long way providing understanding to Buddhist studies to express the above concepts with clarity. This is only the very first step. Hopefully, more integration effort will follow.

David Foo.  foocf@hotmail.com

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