Thomas Campbell answers the question, “What Is Consciousness”. He is a physicist, lecturer, and author of the My Big TOE (Theory of Everything) trilogy. In the books, he discusses the origins of consciousness and brings together science and philosophy, physics and metaphysics, mind and matter, purpose and meaning, as well as the normal and the paranormal. The writings are based on the simulation argument, which takes the position that reality is both virtual and subjective. He is here to answer the question,”What Is Consciousness?”.
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- Website: www.tomcampbell.info
- Book: My Big Toe: Book 3 of a Trilogy Unifying Philosophy, Physics, and Metaphysics: Inner Workings by Tom Campbell
Mindfulness according to Tom Campbell
- First let's say mindfulness isn't a thing you do, it's a thing you become.
- Mindfulness, of course, is not a real precise term. So there's probably at least four or five, or six ways to look at it. And when you look at an each of those different ways, you'll get a little better idea of just what mindfulness is. Let me kind of state it and then restate it in multiple ways. Being mindful means that you have some discipline with your consciousness, and undisciplined consciousness is kind of zinging off on all sorts of thoughts and places and things.
- To be mindful requires you to have some discipline. So mindfulness takes a little work, it's not something that's just a trivial thing to do. It takes work for people to develop those skills. Mindfulness is about whatever it is you're doing, you're doing it purposefully, you're aware that you're doing it, and you're doing it, you know, for a reason. And you're aware of that reason.
- Which means it's the opposite of being on automatic, it's the opposite of being a zombie. It's the opposite of just kind of drifting through life, turning the crank that you always turn, and you're so habituated to that crank that you just never think about really much of anything. You just repeat every day, sort of like it was the last day; you get up, you go to work, you push buttons, you work your mouse at work, and you come home and you eat dinner, and you watch TV; it's that sort of thing. So that's not mindful, that's just letting your life run on automatic.
- Mindfulness is kind of the first step in getting to know who you are. It's getting to know your own consciousness. It will help you answer your own question, ‘What Is Consciousness'. And until you're mindful, you don't really know who you are. You make choices.
The Birth of Big Toe Theory
- The way I created it was I looked at all the facts that I knew about consciousness, and that was after about 35 years of studying consciousness. And I had two parallel careers. One was in consciousness research, and one was in physics. The conscious research I did at night, and physics I did in the daytime.
- So basically, after a long time, I thought I knew enough about consciousness to make a good consciousness model. So I took all the facts of consciousness and I took all the facts of the physical world, which I knew most of because I'm a physicist. And I came up with an idea theory, a model that would explain all of those facts on both sides, and explain everything we know now. Which means in the objective and the subjective world, as well as make projections about things that we don't know. So that's how I made it. And that's called a TOE; a theory of everything.
- Now, Einstein coined that word, ‘theory of everything', when he was trying to unite relativity and quantum physics because those two really have a foundational level, they don't really get along with each other too well. Each one has an assumption that the other one denies exists.
- So Einstein knew there was something bigger. There was had to be something bigger above them in the hierarchy of causality. Something above them that could explain both of them. And then they would be kind of both part of a bigger thing. So he worked on that for the last 20 years of his life and fails, he didn't come up with a with a TOE, Theory of Everything.
- Now, in my world, that TOE was just a objective TOE. That's all it was; just quantum physics and relativity, that's the objective world. But mine was about also the subjective world, because consciousness is subjective.
- So I didn't want to say that this was a TOE. That would be confusing, so I call it a big TOE. And then that's of course kind of amusing at the same time, but I figured all right, that's a good attention getter. You know, that might pull some people browsing the bookshelf on BIG TOE. What's that about? Particularly if you find it in the philosophy or physics sections of the shelf that might draw attention? So that's it all right, we'll go with that.
- But the point of it is not that I'm so proud of it, that it's my Big TOE. The point is that it's based on my experience. And if it's not your experience, it can't be your truth. You can't [dispute] something that you know to be true, can't be based on somebody else's experience. You have to experience it yourself.
- So I wanted my readers to not believe what I said, but rather to go find out for themselves, because you have to know when we're talking about the internal world of consciousness, we're talking about that subjective state, you can't read about that.
- What other people feel, you've got to go do it, and get there on your own. So I specifically called it my Big TOE to let people know that you have to find your own Big TOE. This is mine based on my experience.
- And if you can use that as a model to help you find your own, well, good, use it as a model, use what parts of it work and throw the rest away. And that's the way you should approach it. So that's why I called it my Big TOE.
- It goes back a long, long time ago. And it's pretty much the last time that I really got angry about something; got really out of control. I haven't done that since I was probably, maybe 13 or something like that.
- I was at a Boy Scout camp. I was there for several weeks. WhI was somebody to pick on. They would grab my stuff and throw it around, you know typical kids.
- Kids do that because they're very self-centered. And they don't have any appreciation for what they're doing to other people when they do that. In general, I was a pretty laid back kid and didn't get riled up very easily.
- But after the third or fourth or fifth round of that bullying and throwing my things and messing with we, like tearing all the sheets and stuff off the bed and throwing them outside. It was annoying and it just kept going on and on and on.
- I realized I was going to have three days of this if I didn't do something about it. I knew that going up in the chain and saying these people are giving me a problem probably wouldn't work and hardly ever works. So what I did was I got angry, and I knew that I had to stand up to them the best I could. So when that happened again, after I had gotten to the end of my rope, I just hauled off and started slugging this kid, knocked him down and hurt him. And after that, they all backed off.
- I didn't hurt him badly. I hurt probably his ego more than anything else. But because I was smaller than he was, he didn't see it coming. And I didn't let up until he was down. So the time that happened, I kind of came back to myself and the anger. It was all adrenaline at that point. And I saw that the others weren't going to jump in. They were backing off now. So they weren't really terribly mean, kids, they were just being bullies because they could.
- So it's not like they really wanted to beat me because they were they were thugs. They were just kids. So that was the one time that I got bullied and after fighting back, it stopped. So that was a good object lesson.
- For me, ‘turn the other cheek' is really good advice some of the time, but not all the time. Sometimes you get to a point where you have to push back. And it didn't matter. At that point I didn't care whether they beat me up or not. I had to vent and do whatever it is I could. But you know, now that I think about it, even if they had beat me up, they probably would have stopped doing what they were doing. Right? That's my one experience with bullying.
Most Influential Person
- One of the persons that that was a big influence on me would have been Bob Monroe. Bob was about the same age as my father, I guess. So he was kind of a father figure. And in that sense, he was an older guy, I was in my 20s. And he was in his 50s. Going to 60s. And he was a good role model. He seemed to be able to handle almost everything positively.
- I don't think I ever saw him get angry or get upset. So that was a good influence. But mostly, I'm not very easily influenced by anything or anybody, I don't have a lot of favorites or connections like that. I've always been like my sons. Both of my sons have enough self confidence for two or three people. And I think I was like that as well.
- So I didn't have a lot of books that I read, or people that I met or things that really changed me very much. Because my changes all had to come from inside myself. And they really weren't triggered so much by other people as they were triggered by my seeing that I needed to make the change.
Effect on Emotions
- Mindfulness changes everything. When I first started on this path, I had a lot of growing up to do. I was a young physicist in graduate school, in my middle to late 20s. And if you know any young physicists in graduate school in their 20s, you probably will know that they're kind of arrogant, they kind of feel like they know everything. That kind of goes with that profession, at least when you're young.
- Now, because you tend to be a little arrogant anyway, when you're young, because you're still kind of self-centered; I had to outgrow that. But it just slowly disappears.
- And I think this is the key, as you grow up; your picture gets bigger and bigger, your decision space gets bigger and bigger. The possibilities that you have, I could do this, or I could do that. I could change this way or that way. Whereas somebody that has no idea they could change at all, you know, doesn't have that in their decision space.
- So as that grows, and your picture gets bigger, then you're no longer such a big person in this bigger picture, you begin to realize that you're just a tiny little speck of something that's much bigger than you are. There's purpose to your being here.
- That helps get rid of most of that arrogance, that self centeredness. So I'd say the key things for me was my pictures kept getting bigger and bigger, my understanding kept getting bigger and bigger. And I realized that most of me being a smart young physicist, was totally irrelevant, didn't have any value. That wasn't a concept that carried value, that was a concept to carry negative value, not positive.
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Tune in to “What Is Consciousness; Tom Campbell”, for an in-depth understanding of ‘What Is Consciousness?'.