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Bernardo Kastrup 2nd Interview
Rick Archer: Welcome to Buddha at the Gas Pump. My name is Rick Archer, Buddha at the Gas Pump is an ongoing series of interviews with spiritually Awakening people. There have been almost 350 of them now. So if you’d like to check out previous ones, go to batgap.com. Look under the past interviews menu, and you’ll see them all archived in various ways. This whole production is made possible by the support of generous viewers and listeners. And so thanks to those who’ve been supporting it, and if you feel like being one of them, there’s a Donate button and a page about donations on the website you can check out. My guest today is my friend Bernardo kastrup. I interviewed Bernardo a couple of years ago and then we met in person out at the sand conference this fall and had a good time. I would say that if I would categorize Bernardo was in a Yanni, you know. It’s one of the smartest people I know. And if anybody can get to Enlightenment by virtue of the brilliance of their intellect, it’s Bernardo. Sure about that, just try to see if I can make you blush. But first, let me read your formal bio here so people can get to know who you are. Bernardo kastrup, has a PhD in computer engineering with specializations in artificial intelligence and reconfigurable computing. He has worked as a scientist in some of the world’s foremost research laboratories, including the European Organization for Nuclear Research, CERN, and the Philips Research Laboratories where the Casimir effect of quantum field theory was discovered. Bernardo has authored many scientific papers and philosophy books. His three most recent books are more than allegory, which is what we’re going to be talking about today. Subtitled on religious myth, truth and belief, nother book brief peeks beyond and another one why materialism is baloney. He has been an entrepreneur and founder of a successful high tech startup, next to a managerial position in the high tech industry, Bernardo maintains a philosophy blog, a video interview series, and continues to develop his ideas about the nature of reality. He has lived and worked in four different countries across continents currently residing in the Netherlands. For a rigorous analytical summary of his philosophical ideas, you can look to add, there’s a link here, which is kind of long, I’ll put it on the website. So thanks for Manana. And thank you also for doing this on short notice. For those who have been listening I had scheduled David Spangler this weekend and he had a health emergency and had to postpone So Bernardo was kind enough to do this on very short notice.
Bernardo Kastrup: To talk to you so I’m happy to be here. Yeah. Never mind that there are 1000s of people watching. It’s always fun to talk to you anyway.
Rick Archer: At the moment, there’s only 27. So you can relax. Yeah,
Bernardo Kastrup: more will be watching offline, I guess.
Rick Archer: Right. And just to put a plug about where Bernardo is, he’s, he’s in his girlfriend’s apartment in Germany, and that’s her artwork on the wall behind him. She’s obviously a very talented artist. So why don’t you get us started Bernardo, by giving us just a synopsis of what your book is about, that we’re going to be talking about?
Bernardo Kastrup: Well, as the subtitle implies, it’s about religious myths will lead to mythology, which is something I’ve had a bit of a schizophrenic relationship with, throughout my life. My father was a scientist, my mother was Roman Catholic, so she had a relationship with religion, and he was exposed to that as a kid. But in my career as a scientist and corporate manager, I sort of completely lost contact with that neglected it completely even disregarded it, and only very recently it is sort of researching in me, but in a very different way than it was before. And the book is about how do you restore the legitimacy of religious myths in a mature way that doesn’t defy reason doesn’t defy logic doesn’t condone fundamentalism, but also keeps the door open for what the mates are pointing to, which are truths that transcend literal articulation, linear articulation through the rules of Aristotelian logic to say And then through?
Rick Archer: Do you feel that all religious myths do that? Or would there be like a spectrum of myths, some of which correlate with deeper realities and other others, which are just sort of fanciful. notion
Bernardo Kastrup: there’s this, there’s a spectrum, of course myths is basically are basically narratives that we tell each other metaphorical slash symbolic narratives. And interestingly, the symbolic part. But of course, there’s a spectrum there are myths that are just preposterous, there are myths that, that, that are meant to be conducive to social control, to to gender repression, or the repression of whatever sexual orientation is out there. myths that are meant to help people achieve power and money and status or whatever. So there is a spectrum. But when I talk of religious myths, I talk about those, the core of the term there lies the QAnon of the world’s established religions, and some creation myths that are less well known. But the core intuitive aspect of those narratives, not the bells and whistles we’ve added to them in the course of history for whatever ego eccentric purpose, but the core intuitions underlying those myths that emerge from from deep within the human psyche. Those are what I call the true authentic, legitimate religious myths.
Rick Archer: And we should point out that myths are not the sole province of religion. For instance, in your book, you talk about the myths of modern culture, myths of science, for instance, here’s a quote of sciences blind devotion to the gods of chance and automatism condemns its myths to hollowness. So I mean, there’s a whole predominant scientific myth that the world is mechanistic and meaningless. And, you know, just a lot of little billiard balls bouncing around without any sort of divine intelligence orchestrating things.
Bernardo Kastrup: Sure, not every myth is a religious myth. Not every myth is pointing to transcendent truths, pointing to things that that lack in our ability to linearly articulate in words, myth, in general, are just narratives in terms of which we can relate to the world. I mean, we are always running myths in the back of our minds constantly, because we are always interpreting sense perception. We are always interpreting what we see what we hear, what we taste what you smell, there is a constant interpretation machine going on in the backs of our minds that inform us of the meaning and significance of what we perceive. If we didn’t have this, this myth running in the background all the time, the world we see would be just a bunch of dancing pixels, they would evoke No, no meaning no emotion, no significance. Within us, it would mean literally nothing. So myths are integral to life. The question is, what myths Do you run? Do you run the strictest myths that make basically make life feel dull, unimportant and pointless? Or do you run rich myths that put you in contact with aspects of your own psyche of your own minds and the nature of reality itself? That transcend our ability to articulate literally in linear logical words? That is the question, I think. So by
Rick Archer: that definition, you know, you’re walking down the street, you see a tree, you see a sidewalk, you see a dog, you see a car, those are all interpretations of phenomenon, they’re actually, you know, in their essence, quite a different thing than what our senses bring to us. So you’re saying that, you know, by, by the, by your definition, just the very act of living is dependent upon myths, or as you if you forgot to use that word or interpretations of, you know, based off what our senses bring to us?
Bernardo Kastrup: Absolutely, if there weren’t, if there wasn’t, if there weren’t a myth, to breach sense perception, to inner meaning. And I say meaning not only the sense of purpose, but also in the sense of what is the denotation of what you see the denotation and the connotation of what you see, what does it mean? What does it imply, if you don’t have this mythical bridge, that would be a complete disconnect, from your inner life, your feelings, your emotions, your thoughts, and your perceptions. There would be no bridge, no commerce between the two, they will be fundamentally dissociated. The bridge between the two is a narrative in terms of which you link the contents of perception to the emotions, thoughts and insights that arise within you. The myth link the outer world to the inner world and I use the outer world he I don’t mean it quite literally, but I will use it as a as a shorthand. to refer to, to the to the contents of perception. So yes, myths are integral to life, to pretend that one can live life without a myth is itself a myth that basically entails a very poor a very restrictive interpretation of the world, a very existentialist interpretation of the world as something that has no meaning. That itself is a myth, that itself is an interpretation. If there were truly no meets running in your mind, you would not open your mouth, you would say nothing you just witnessed.
Rick Archer: Yeah, so I remember I was at somebody’s house one time, it was wintertime, and it was drizzling and cloudy. And, and, and she was saying, I hate wintertime. It’s so depressing. And all this and, and I was feeling good. And it looked kind of beautiful to me. So I mean, there’s perhaps an example of, you know, a personal myth. I hate wintertime, you know, it makes me depressed. And whereas it’s completely dependent upon your subjective orientation or interpretation of, of the experience, and it could could be a very blissful time and a blissful experience.
Bernardo Kastrup: Absolutely. I mean, we’re always running these little myths, right. And I think, I mean, you were very connected to Advaita, Advaita, Vedanta and non dualism. And one of the the underlying objectives of Vedanta, I think, is to eliminate this harmful little myths about Oh, I hate to enter, and, oh, I’m a bad person, or Oh, the future is bleak. Or, oh, I should have done something different in the past, you know, this little myths are very harmful in the sense that they trigger harmful emotions, and they make life unnecessarily difficult. So it is a legitimate goal to try to get rid of them. But you can overshoot in Advaita. And you can go to the point where you think that the actual goal is to eliminate all nets. If you eliminate all myths, you are denying life. I mean, even if the world we live in, Rick is, is an illusion, in the sense that it isn’t what it appears to be, in other words, that it isn’t really up there as as a physical reality independent of consciousness. It’s just images arising in consciousness, which I think is the case and I make this case in the book, even if that is so then something true is generating that illusion in the same way that a speaker generates sounds without itself being a sound. So there is something that is not an illusion, you know, just generate an illusion. And so the illusion will be an expression of that something. So I think it is integral to live to interpret the illusion to granted validity s such an illusion, as it may be to grant it the validity tests for what it is, and to try to interpret it and derive meaning from it. Because the illusion may be the only way truth expresses itself. So I think it may it may go too far in Advaita. To try to eliminate all interpretations, it may be a denial of nature, or denial of life itself.
Rick Archer: A perfect example of what you just said is the famous snake and rope and string rope and Snake analogy and Vedanta, you know, where somebody’s walking along in a dim light and as a rope coiled up by the side of the road, and they think it’s a snake and they jump in, they’re fearful and, you know, running away and so on. And then someone brings a light and points out to them. Well, it’s really just a rope. So I don’t think Vedanta is trying to eliminate the rope is just trying to eliminate the misinterpretation of the rope and the consequent fear. You know, that results from that misinterpretation?
Bernardo Kastrup: I agree, I agree that this is this is the legitimate way to go. I do think there is a risk that people have issues that people go too far. And they say, and I have seen it. People saying, Well, what is the point of this, this is all an illusion anyway, so forget about it, you know, then you don’t engage with life. And that’s what I think is a denial of nature. And in that sense, I think there is value in religious myths. I’m not saying that all myths or religious myths with religious myths are particularly rich, because they try to see behind the symbols, the phantasmagoria in the illusion that’s phantasmagoria in the screen of perception is composed of symbols, those symbols mean something, not something that you can pin down in words and put your finger on and say this is what it is literal. Symbols are pointing to aspects of our inner lives that we may be dissociated from. And interpreting that phantasmagoria I think, is what religious myths may try to do. They lend significance. To get to the aspects of existence. I’m going to talk about Christianity and the descent of the Holy Spirit that imbues every aspect of life and life and every living creature with Divine significance? I think there is something to that it’s that symbol pointing at something. And it’s pointing at the significance of the illusion and the usefulness of engaging with life.
Rick Archer: Oh, yeah, I just want to add, before we elaborate on that, that, you know, Vedanta like everything can and has been misinterpreted by, you know, ending up in the hands of people who don’t fully properly appreciate it, I mean, look at some of the various interpretations of Islam or of Christianity that have come down through history, or that are plaguing society, even today, that are an embarrassment to the deeper, more mystical appreciation of those traditions. So, you know, there’s this sort of so called Neo Advaita these days, which I don’t think that, you know, Shankara would be rolling in his grave if he heard some of the things that are presented in the name of Vedanta. Although he was probably cremated, so I guess he can’t roll but
Bernardo Kastrup: Myths as part of any human activity can be abused.
Rick Archer: Yeah. Now let’s take an example of a myth. Because in your book, for instance, you take the creation myth, and you go through several different cultures, Aboriginal and I think something from South America and the Hindu treatment of that. And there’s a striking similarity between these different myths. And let’s take that as a case in point and discuss it a little bit.
Bernardo Kastrup: Sure. Do you want me to go over some examples? I ended a bit yeah, yeah. Just to put the car ahead of the horses for a moment. And it’s striking how they all are consistent with Vedanta. It’s, yeah, it’s pretty striking. We can start in. In Australia, there is an Australian Aboriginal myth. The dream one of the dream time myths, there are many there’s a wide, wide variety, I picked one because I thought it was a good example and representative of everything. The myth says that the Creator at karora, dreams the world up into existence, and then woke up within his own dream. And within the dream, he lost the magical powers of creation. He had to comply to the rules and constraints of the dream. So he got hungry, he had to eat some of the animals that he created. He met the people that he had created while dreaming. And every night he would go to dream again, he would sleep again, dream more stuff into existence, the next morning, he would wake up again and within the dream. So you have this theme of a creator data that creates the world as a thought as a as an image in his imagination, as a dream in his mind, and then wakes up within his own dream. And you see that, on the other side of the world, they were taught to try them in the Amazon, they have a mind boggling if it was very difficult. To summarize it accurately in a few words, as I did in a book, because there are so many ways of interpreting it. It’s so subtle, so nuanced. But the main line is that the Creator at this call this design, called the nine, Emma created the world as an illusion, a very lucid illusion in his mind that kept on escaping him. And to prevent the illusion from escaping, he tied it up with a magical rope and glued it. So he would basically fix that illusion as as a sort of a more stable dream if you want. And then he stamped on it, until he broke through and entered his own dream. And from within the dream is split the jungle into existence. So again, you have this notion of your world created in the mind of a of a deity, which then enters his own creation enters his own dream. You have that in Hinduism, where Brahman creates the primordial waters, and then drops his sperm in the primordial waters are his seed, as they call it, I think in the Phoenicians. Somewhere in the Vedas, and from from his seed in the primordial waters, cosmic egg is created, and Brahman itself hatches from that cosmic egg within his creation. So again, this this self recursive notion that a creator deity imagines the world into existence, and then he’s born within it by hatching from the egg you put in there. And guess what Christianity is the same thing. God created the world, the world through their word. That’s the Gospel of John right in the beginning was the Word through the words or things were made. And the words is, of course in English translation for the Greek logos, which also means reason, thought. So God created the world through thought, and then was born into it through the Christ, the Christ was God fully and was man fully. So this thing recurs, which I thought was pretty striking and rekindled my My respect for religious mythology as symbolic narratives, not literal, not metaphoric, either. A metaphor is just an indirect way of referring to something that can be made sense of literally just an easier to understand way. For something that has a literal articulation, why was symbol has no literal articulation, it’s pointing at something that cannot be said, in words can only be hinted that indicated, pointed that suggested. So it’s became of my mind my respect for religion in that sense.
Rick Archer: Yeah. And I will say that’s true of everything I mean, try describing the color of my shirt and words, you know, it’s well, it’s blue. Yeah, but what’s blue? How do you describe that. But I just wanted to add, that it might be easy for people of a scientific bent to dismiss all these myths as primitive and, you know, kind of silly, you know, notions of cultures that didn’t really understand how the world works. But actually, if you if you look deeply into science and kind of begin talking about the self interacting dynamics of the unified field and sequential, spontaneous symmetry breaking through which manifestation occurs, and all you actually find the same myth presented in scientific terms.
Bernardo Kastrup: Yeah, even if you didn’t have those parallels, and I will share my personal impression with you even without those striking parallels that you’re referring to. But even if you read the myth, alone, by itself, pretend you know nothing of science and physics and all this latest and greatest developments, just looking at the myth itself, and then you, you think about it, and you consider that, for instance, this we toto mesh has emerged in a tribe. That is, I mean, from our perspective is extraordinarily primitive, they really have developed no technology in no written language, no culture in that sense, whatsoever. It’s a bow and arrow and hunter and gatherer culture. And the myth is of a sophistication. I mean, it didn’t do justice to it in the way I just summarized it now with you. But the myth is so nuanced, so sophisticated, and it’s it’s mind boggling to imagine that these guys could have composed this myth, through steps of reasoning. Obviously, they didn’t, they just don’t have the intellectual background to do that. So how did it happen? I think and I discuss this in the book, I think, what happens is that myths are not composed by thinking. They’re not composed through thoughts steps in the ego, in the intellect. They’re perceived, like you perceive the landscape, they emerge from deep within the human psyche, from what analytical psychology would call the unconscious, I don’t like this word, I think it’s a misnomer. I think there is no unconscious whatsoever there up there, only obfuscated segments of mind. It emerges from this obfuscated segment of mine, pure incomplete, as a reality available to contemplation. And these guys then just wrapped a word based narrative around it, in order to create a reference to it within their culture, so they can talk about it. So myths are not composed intellectually, they’re not created for a reason, they just pop falling ready. And the differences between authentic myths are the differences with which different cultures use words to wrap that landscape they can perceive with a different narrative in order to refer to it in the culture. And of course, in that process, myths can be abused valve bells, and whistles can be added in order to repress women and gay people and make the priests rich and powerful and whatnot. But this happens later. I think, through myths begin pure as a pure contemplation of a transcendent truth available two aspects of the human mind that are very far away from the intellect.
Rick Archer: And this job is perfectly with the whole Vedic tradition, and which I know more about than other traditions, but I bet you they have their parallels, in which you know, most, if not all, significant truths come about through cognition, not not through, you know, reasoning and logic. It’s that the Rishis or the seers, go deep within and you know, and kind of use their, their mind the nervous system as a scientific research tool to plumb more fundamental aspects of reality. And you know, and cognize those deeper truths and then come out to express them in various ways. And I think that, obviously, people of every culture have been capable of that the human nervous system being what it is, doesn’t matter if they’re a bow and arrow society, there would naturally be people in every society that have the spiritual inside of the midst. capability to cognize the deepest truths of nature and then naturally they’re going to express them in their own language and within their own culture.
Bernardo Kastrup: I would even say they have an advantage compared to us. Good point, I think by the mere fact that we are humans, we are connected with that we have an umbilical cord to the to the root of reality, right to the source of it all, because we are conscious beings. So by definition, we all have that little umbilical connection somewhere deep in the mind. And we can contemplate those truths if you really introspect. Those preliterate cultures had less superficial myths running and the level of intellect less narratives, telling them what is true, what’s not what’s possible, what’s not what this means what this doesn’t mean, all this stuff, this baggage that is created in culture, these worldviews that give or don’t give us permission to contemplate this or that they had less of that they, they had more of a beginner’s mind, because they knew nothing. The entire world, the whole of reality was a big mystery to them. They didn’t have prejudices or preconceptions, they were just there observing. And they didn’t have a narrative in their mind standing, oh, this should be possible. This shouldn’t be possible. This is right or this is wrong. So there was less pollution between their eyes and the things that they could contemplate that that inner truth that could be perceived through the origin of the imagination, as Rudolf Steiner would say.
Rick Archer: Also, I mean, along the same lines, they weren’t bombarded by television and all the all the distractions of modern culture, they’re, they’re out there sitting looking at the stars, you know, and able to sit if you go to contemplative atmosphere.
Bernardo Kastrup: There you go. Yeah, I totally agree. And then it’d be nice if you could rescue some of that. But it’s nearly impossible in this day and age.
Rick Archer: I think the tides are turning, you know, people are sort of individually rescuing it for themselves anyway. And maybe if enough of them do that, then it’ll the culture will begin to display that change. It I think it’s happening. Well, maybe it’s happening. It’s kind of polarizing, in my opinion.
Bernardo Kastrup: That’s true. Yeah. That’s true. And that’s, that’s what worries me. But I see what you’re what you’re alluding to. I agree there is something happening on the positive side as well.
Rick Archer: Oh, yeah. Yeah, we could perhaps talk about that at some, but there might even be some myths about that about polarization. Being a harbinger of, of, you know, societal change, you know, of any?
Bernardo Kastrup: No, I hope, I hope it is the case, because many poker some hope, or what is happening now is extreme polarization that we are witnessing 20th century.
Rick Archer: Well, if we if we took the Mahabharata, then that was an example of polarization, where the the sort of the good and evil for so so to speak, had had sorted themselves out and were assembled in opposing armies. And there was a huge,
Bernardo Kastrup: but that’s, that’s from the beginning. I mean, you have Zoroastrian ism, which is also a very polarizing religion, and good and evil and some currents of Islamic mysticism as well. But that these are also creation myths, in a sense, Gnosticism is very polarizing as well. But this polarization happened in the beginning. I wonder if there is a myth saying that if it gets more extreme going forward, then it’s a harbinger of change? That’d be nice. Wherever no enemies that says that.
Rick Archer: Yeah. Well, I don’t know when it’s in the Gita again, Lord Krishna says when, when I Dharma prevails, when, when, when the tail basically he’s saying when this when the pendulum has swung too far in the direction of a Dharma, or kind of like, violation of natural law, then I take birth to restore it. So you know, sort of like God, what he’s saying is God comes an infusion of God consciousness comes into the world to restore the balance. And as he puts it, to uplift the righteous and destroy the wicked. I know that sounds very apocalyptic and kind of judgmental, but I’m just kind of citing that as as a myth.
Bernardo Kastrup: God knows we need some of that influx these days fast.
Rick Archer: Yeah. So as we go along here, just talk about anything that pops to mind, you know, because I’m sure there are plenty of things where I wouldn’t have thought to ask a question. And if an idea comes to you, as you’re speaking, just launch into it, and we’ll go there. Meanwhile, I have notes that I can rely upon, but is there anything at the moment that
Bernardo Kastrup: I follow you for now and Uh, when something pops up, I will, I’ll bring it in.
Rick Archer: Okay? Well, here’s, here’s something I highlighted in a life informed by religious myth, nothing is just so everything has a reason for being and a purpose to fulfill. Everything belongs in a bigger and timeless context. So, yeah,
Bernardo Kastrup: religious means particular way of translating the contents of perception, in other words, the empirical world around us into meaning within significance within, which leads to purpose. The thing is, we are plagued as a culture in the West, increasingly in the East, because we’re sort of contaminating them with the myth of literalism. The myth that something can embody its own final meaning. The idea that this is a glass of water, and there is nothing else it is this embodies its own, meaning, it’s a glass of water, that’s it, it’s the end of a cognitive chains of associations, you could start with a metaphor that points to another metaphor that points are not a metaphor that points to a glass of water, where it ends there, there is a route to this chain of cognitive associations. And once you get there, that’s it. That’s the end of meaning, then things just are, and this is a very western thing. And science is philosophically based on this quest for this final route of meaning, what things actually are in and of themselves. And I think what religious myths help us do is to, to embrace at an emotional level, this idea that the things we see in the world, are not their own meaning that this glass of water itself is a symbol, pointing at something else that is not part of the empirical world, something that goes behind and beyond the empirical world. And that invests life with a spaceless slash timeless meaning, because the the contents of life, the contents of perception, the things, events, people of the world, they are all indicating, pointing at something beyond in that is the richness that I think a religious myth can bring to life. I have a an acquaintance, who believes the true story, by the way, he may be listening to this, and I hope he doesn’t mind that I’m channeling if I’m not going to mention his name. He went on a quest to Thailand to learn to meditate and do yoga and find himself and has a difficult past that he wanted to transcend, and find his true self and leave his past behind. And at the final day of a long course, he did in long retreat. The final day, his house went up in flames burned up and he lost everything
Rick Archer: back. At home in silence.
Bernardo Kastrup: He moved his entire life, you rented the house by the beach, and then everything that has had importance to him was in that house, you know, computer and hard drives with the pictures he took throughout his life that
Rick Archer: seems quite symbolic.
Bernardo Kastrup: To hear the notes in the books and the memorabilia that he accumulated throughout life, little memories and disclose his books, everything went up in flames, he was left with his wallet that was in his pocket, and a motorcycle, and some clothes that he had, like in the laundry. And look at the symbolic significance of this. I mean, there are two ways you can approach this. One is to say, the fire is its own meaning. In other words, it means nothing but the fire, that’s all there is to it. It’s just the fire, it happens. That’s it. Or you see the fire as as as an embodiment of a symbolism that has a lot to do with where he is in his mind and in this phase of his life. So that’s the choice we have. If you’re fired from work, it’s either its own meaning you were just fired, that’s all or it’s, it’s pointing as necessary change in your life. If you have a romantic relationship or a divorce, what does it mean? If you’re ill? What does it mean? You know, your entire life can become an epic drama that extends extense for your birth and beyond your death. In you are the main character of the drama. I mean, talk about drama, On television, I mean, there’s nothing I mean, there’s this series now, what’s his name for dragons? And
Rick Archer: oh, yeah. Game of Thrones Game of Thrones.
Bernardo Kastrup: Yeah, oh, man, your life is much more is much richer and more significant. And then Game of Thrones, if it is informed by a religious myth, and what I call a religious myth is any myth that points to transcendence. It doesn’t really need to be religious in the in the sense that we normally understand the word religions, I define it in the book. So I should define it with you as well. Any myth that points to transcendence in a way that is legitimate and sounds based on human, deep and authentic human intuitions is a religious myth in that sense. So if you’re if you’re if your life is informed by those suddenly it’s not claustrophobic and meaningless anymore. Yeah, certainly. It’s a rich drama.
Rick Archer: Yeah, I mean, if we could define a myth here, I would say that, you know, one nice myth to live by? Well, here’s here’s one to juxtapose with it. First of all, you say in your book? Where is it? All right. And was it something about real men and tough chicks? Oh, yeah. contemporary science cannot acknowledge even the possibility of meaning and purpose for real men and tough chicks face bleak facts. This isn’t skepticism, but cynicism and an arbitrary commitment to the impossibility of something. And for the way I perceive life and live it is that everything is pregnant with meaning and significance because everything is suffused or with intelligence. And even science will tell us that if we look closely, there’s this marvelous intelligence operating in everything on every level. But I’ll tell you a little story that happened to me yesterday, we have this ice cream maker. And, you know, my wife decided she’s not going to bother making ice cream. If we want ice cream, we’ll just buy some ice cream. So it’s just nice, ice cream maker. And so we went to have our hair cut yesterday. And I called the lady who was going to cut her hair and said, Hey, would you like an ice cream maker? And she said, Yeah, I was mad. So we brought it over. And we got there. She said, Look at this, you picked up a magazine. She said, Just this morning, I was looking at this magazine, and it was an article about ice cream makers. And here’s the ice cream makers a picture of it the recommended one to get this is the one you brought me and I thought just this morning, I would like an ice cream maker like that. Now, is that, you know, sheer coincidence? Or is there some kind of deeper, you know, thing going on there?
Bernardo Kastrup: It just synchronicity and it could reflect information transfers in the world beyond what we today acknowledged as possible from what we understand. In science, it could reflect the fact that human psyches are not really insulated from each other, that they are all connected to each other as root, because they may be dissociated fragments of only one consciousness, right? Universal Consciousness or Brahman, or the Godhead. Many myths call it different names. So I acknowledge synchronicities. But I think the significance of the world at a symbolic level goes beyond synchronicity. It’s not only this meaningful coincidences, even if there isn’t any coincidence whatsoever. The thing in front of you right now, the fact that we are talking to each other right now and then how the weather is today, and what’s going to happen to you tomorrow. Those have their own symbolic significance. I think, you know, this may sound anti Advaita, but it isn’t really actually it’s completely divided. If I may just take attention to here, record, I think it’s worthwhile. You see, if one can look upon the world, without judgment, the world becomes a cosmic drama. The world loses its symbolic significance only when we start passing judgment on it, when they start telling ourselves, this shouldn’t have been so or this has to be so or that person is silly, or is an act or in when you start passing judgment. We flatten the drama and it becomes provincial pedestrian. trivial, almost. We don’t do that when we are watching a movie if you’re watching war in peace on TV, or if you’re reading war in peace. I mean, there are so many holes in that in that story, right? There are so many people that if you would judge them if they were your friends or acquaintances, you would judge them so badly and you make them it would make them so smart. All, within Warren face, they are heroes. They are main characters in that drama. And why do you see them that way? Because you’re not not judging them. You’re you’re reading or watching it for what it is, which is a symbolic drama that points to the realities of the human psyche and human society. So if we could adopt that same attitude of reading a novel, reading a rich, symbolic novel, as you live your life, without that judgment, you would restore the symbolism of the world, let me make certain two points when What does Advaita do? It helps you achieve exactly that, to experience the world without this judgment. So Advaita is extremely conducive to this, although it’s often interpreted to mean the opposite, which is if you don’t judge the world, then you don’t see any meaning in it. And then you become a loser, because it’s all an illusion anyway, and yeah, forget about it. Just roll up in a corner and wait to die, because it’s all for nothing anyway. Well, that’s the option one has, how are you going to look at it?
Rick Archer: Yeah, that again, that was not true Vedanta, I don’t think that’s not the way the founders and great teachers of Vedanta live their lives. It seems to me that, on this point of judging, if we are saying that things shouldn’t be the way they are, or there’s something wrong with the weather, or there’s something wrong with, you know, the way the universe is working, then implicitly we’re denying the existence of God, we’re denying the existence of a deeper intelligence that’s actually running the show, you know, orchestrating things, we’re kind of CO opting that authority and saying, I know better how things should be. And you know, I’m a judge of this universe, which is,
Bernardo Kastrup: there is a, this brings back to me, a book by Thomas Moore, an old book from the early 90s by Father Thomas Moore, who was a psychotherapist for many years when he wrote a book called about so cultivating the soul. So making and I don’t remember the title of the book anymore. But he mentions one beautiful example. He talks about family, I mean, we all have, most of us have a very difficult relationship with our families, right, this fear of love and hate, we love them. But if they stay around too long, well, we hate them, you know, I think they brings the worst in us, because of this judgment, you know, my mother should be different, my father should be different, or they should have been different, which is even worse. This is how they should they should behave or how they should not behave, and so on and so forth. And we are judging families and any make them very small when we distance from them because it’s all trouble. And what Moore says in the book is, if you inject soul in that, you will refrain from judging. And he will read the story of your family as you read warranties. No, I mean, as you read, one of the great epics, and each member of your family, we acquire a sort of an archetypal quality. And archetypes do not all good. Many archetypes are pretty, quote, bad, right? They’re pretty disgusting sometimes, or you don’t want to have them around. But if you want your the members of your family as embodiments of that archetypal dynamics, suddenly it’s invested with so which was more as a word for what I mean by invested with meaning and significance, symbolic meaning, what are archetypes but symbolic manifestations of deep patterns, psychic patterns, in mind in consciousness itself?
Rick Archer: Nice. Here’s a question that just came in through this. This is from Dan in London, he asks, through lucid dreams, I’m always exploring the dream reality and comparing it to actual reality as a way to explore the nature of reality. I have noticed that the dream reality if explored carefully, that is, you look at a blade of grass carefully, and you’ll notice all the details you’d expect in the waking reality and can’t tell a difference. It’s interesting that all the myths you mentioned in terms of the creation of the world relate to a deity, dreaming the world into existence. Do you think lucid dreaming can play a part in the exploration of reality to come to such conclusions about reality as those myths you have mentioned?
Bernardo Kastrup: Absolutely. I think it is a formidable tool. It’s a very difficult tool to master. I have never mastered it. I have had lucid dreams. I adopted a very scientific approach in the lucid dream I did precisely what is describing trying to find any, any quality or characteristic in the world of dreams that would allow me to differentiate it from waking life purely perceptually. I could differentiate it because I could remember the history I knew I was asleep, because I remember I went to bed and so on. But they differentiated based on perceptual qualities and I couldn’t So I think what lucid dreams tell us is that mind is perfectly capable of creating this. This whole shebang, all the dramas of life, all the contents of perceptions, in galaxies, black holes to galaxy clusters, all the way two grains of sand. And, and the electrons mind is perfectly capable of creating this and you know that for yourself if you’re a capable, regular, lucid dreamer, which I am not. So I think it there is a hint phase on direct experience right there about what this myth we’re trying to say, Who is creating the world right now, but you, not the you, Rick Archer, or Bernardo Castro, but the true sense of AI that that is witnessing Rick Archer and Bernardo Castro QAnon and whoever else is out there that is imagining the world into existence. And I think myths are pointing to that. I think in part three of the book, I try to elaborate on it in slightly more analytical explicit terms. And I do that guess what, in the form of a myth, a dialogue between an archetypal figure and an explorer of consciousness that could have been a lucid dreamer. In the book, I talk about it in different terms, there is a lot of technology involved there to put this explorer in a sort of an altered states of consciousness where he can interact with this archetypal figure and learn about the nature of reality and how everything came into existence. But it could have been a lucid dream, if lucid dreamers can establish a dialogue with an archetypal figure manifested in symbolic form within undersea Dream, which is extraordinarily difficult to do, especially if you’re trying usually it happens when you’re not trying. But if that happens, you probably can have a dialogue of the kinds that I mythically described in part three of the book.
Rick Archer: Nice. Here’s another question. Elizabeth from the United States asks, myth and science are often presented as being polar opposite, polar opposites. Myth having to do with fantasy and imagination and science having to do with truth. Do you agree with this? Our myth and science different and how are they similar? Thanks.
Bernardo Kastrup: It’s a it’s a terminal terminology question. I define myths not as true or untrue. But I define it based on the original ideology of the Greek word, mythos, which became mythos in which became myth, which means a narrative, you report a story, in terms of which we can interpret the contents of the world, that’s why they find a word. So myths can be true or untrue, without ceasing to be myths in the way I use the word. In modern culture. Especially in a scientific context, people use the word myth in the sense of fantasy, which is different. A fantasy is also a myth. It’s a myth and grounded on empirical facts. But in the book on every time I use the word myth, during this interview, and in the book, I mean, something broader. I mean, I mean, a story in terms of which we can interpret the contents of perception, in other words, the world out there. Now, science itself, today, in the way it is practiced, is based on myths. Every time in the way I define the word, every time you have a narrative for interpreting experiments, you are running a myth in the way I defined the world. And that myth can be true or untrue, you can have a hypothesis tested and proven to be untrue or tested and proven to be true, and you still have a myth. Philosophically, you would say that any interpretation of scientific observations is that gives you an idea about what things actually are. We call it an ontology. And ontology is a myth of reality, a myth of what reality essentially is. science itself, not in the way it’s practice, but in the way it should be in the way it was originally defined, is ontology independent science itself does not actually requires myths or interpretations. It only requires correct predictive models that can be tested under controlled conditions. In other words, you do not need to know what an atom is, what an electron is, what an orbital or a photon are, you do not need to know what they essentially are. All you need to know is that if a photon hits an electron inserting orbital, it will jump to the next orbital. This is a model a predictive model, it tells you that if this happens, then that will happen as a consequence. These models can be verified and proven to be correct or incorrect, and that is the business of science,
Rick Archer: that if you’re a scientist You might also want to know what they are, that might be another thing.
Bernardo Kastrup: That’s the thing. In practice, all scientists will be running and on top of an ontology myth, in their minds, they will be telling themselves what this probably means. But that’s no longer science. Officially, this is philosophy. The problem is that what happens today is that scientists like Krauss and Hawking, they put down philosophy as something completely unnecessary. And then they go ahead and do philosophy. And because they’re completely ignorant of philosophy, they do philosophy miserably wrong, pathetically. And these are the people telling our kids what reality is, especially in the United States. And I think that’s a problem.
Rick Archer: So you’re saying, just for clarification here, that if science begins to get into wanting to know, ultimately, what things are, then it has strayed into the realm of philosophy? And that that’s not really the business of science? That’s the business of philosophy? Is that what you just said? Unless that’s
Bernardo Kastrup: exactly what I’m saying? Yes, it’s not the business of science to investigate the essential underlying nature of things,
Rick Archer: why shouldn’t? Why is that not a legitimate purpose of science? I mean, isn’t that like, quite what quantum physicists and you know, the, the more advanced realms of science are trying to do?
Bernardo Kastrup: I think the methods of science are not suitable for this, the methods of science, I mean, there are three ways you can explore the world world. One is through theoretical thinking, logical thinking, logic. The other one is through empirical observation. And the third one is through introspection, Science uses only the first two, and it completely ignores the third problem is to understand the underlying nature of things you cannot ignore the third, you can ignore the third one introspection, if all you want to do is to, to to come up with correct predictive models. If this happens, then that will happen as a constant consequence. If that other thing happens, then this happens as a consequence, this what science can do through its methods. The third one is totally beyond the scope of a methodology that ignores introspection. And that’s where things go from dramatically wrong, because most scientists ignore what I just said, they do not recognize what I just said.
Rick Archer: This is one of my favorite themes, actually, if I understand you correctly, you worked at CERN for a while, you know, which is where the Large Hadron Collider is these days. And, you know, that’s a very sophisticated instrument and using that they’re, they’re trying to observe the way very fun fundamental particles behave with one another, and so on. And I always like to think of the, the human nervous system as the ultimate particle accelerator, so to speak, now that we accelerate particles with it, but that it’s the, the ultimate tool for is that it’s the scientific instrument that we use if we want to do introspection, and that, that its very structure is vastly more sophisticated than the LHC the Large Hadron Collider, and therefore is capable of doing things that that instrument is well firstly, isn’t designed to do but could never do it no instrument that man makes, could ever do. Because no, we couldn’t make an instrument as sophisticated as the human nervous system and why should we bother because we already have one, all we have to do is learn how to use it properly. And you know, using it properly, we can plumb the very fundamental ground of existence and introspectively cognize the deepest realities of nature’s functioning and existence,
Bernardo Kastrup: I wouldn’t disregard either approach. I think they are complimentary.
Rick Archer: I’m not saying we should, it’s either or I’m saying they both have different functions.
Bernardo Kastrup: And they come together, which is counterintuitive for most people in Western society today. I think introspection brings you if this is what you want to understand, introspection brings you from one side. And an empirical analysis brings you at the same point from the other side. And where they meet is where the meat is, if you pardon the pun, what is the empirical world, but the patterns of excitation of mind itself, but when mind is excited, that excitation appears to you in the screen of perception, as the atoms electrons fundamental subatomic particles,
Rick Archer: mean individual mind here You mean mind with I mean, nothing.
Bernardo Kastrup: I mean, Universal Consciousness, large Brahma, Godhead. Corolla a nightmare. Whatever.
Rick Archer: Your analogy of whirlpools and water what is what is a whirlpool. It’s just Water, but it’s a sort of a, you know, current in the water that seems to have a structure which it ultimately doesn’t is nothing but water, right?
Bernardo Kastrup: That’s right. So our personal psyches would be like Whirlpool was in the stream. And what I’m referring to as mine at large is the stream itself, not the individual whirlpools. So if the empirical worlds are the ripples on the stream, that whirlpools can see when they look around to them, to the neighborhoods. There are two ways of studying these excitations of mind. One is through introspecting. And the other one is through aggressive empirical investigation, like what happens if our children collider, a project that I worked on from its inception, you know, digit 1994 was part of the data acquisition team for the ATLAS detector of the LHC, which is one of the two main detectors, the ATLAS and CMS, and working the ATLAS detector.
Rick Archer: I was watching a documentary on that just a few weeks ago. And they were showing that that very thing, I had no idea that you were part of that
Bernardo Kastrup: I was part of the data acquisition system, which doesn’t sit inside the own unit itself, the detector itself, it’s a it’s a large computer system next with it connected by cables. It’s not by it’s not down there in the tunnel. But it’s essential for the detector. But nevermind, I don’t want to get into into the technical details of the introspection and interest is more complimentary. So I think science is very informative to philosophy, especially philosophy of mind or neuro philosophy. We would be operating more or less blind in neuro philosophy today, well, not completely blind, because we still have intersection. But it’s extraordinarily helpful to have neuroscience give us empirical facts about what happens. We don’t need to, scientists do need to interpret those facts. But they can gather these facts in a way that is internally consistent, and robust and repeatable. And isolates variables. So it makes interpretation easier. I think that is extraordinarily important and useful. At the same time. I think it applies that the same rationale applies the other way around as well. Science without philosophy is purely an enabler for engineering. It helps us build computers and microphones and airplanes, and telephones, and it helps us have this conversation. But without philosophy, it informs us not at all about the underlying nature of reality, it only plays that role, if it’s coupled to philosophy, and philosophy can be much expedited through the empirical information that arises from from science. So I think the marriage is important. And the marriage shouldn’t be such that one party completely dominates the other, or twist the other down, like dominating husband putting down his wife when it wouldn’t work. This has to be a marriage of equals that meet somewhere in the middle. And I think that’s where things have been going wrong. I mean, in the early days, philosophy was not informed by science. And it pursued all kinds of useless avenues of thought and speculation totally grounded on reality, because it was not empirically informed in a systematic way. Today, we depend on swung to the other side. Now, we had science saying, we don’t need philosophy. That’s ridiculous.
Rick Archer: Yeah, I think philosophy itself lost its moorings because, you know, it perhaps lost its ability to have mystical insight or have deep profound cognition. And so, you know, people who call themselves philosophers were like, people sitting on a frozen lake, you know, kind of looking through the ice and kind of speculating about what might be down there, you know, maybe there’s sea monsters, or maybe there’s mermaids or whatever, they’re coming up with all kinds of ideas, that actually bore no resemblance to truth or became very distorted and strange, because, again, that there had if there had ever been a fairly common access to deeper mystical truth Suess through introspection, through subjective experience, it had somehow been lost. And so, you know, when science dawned around the period of the Renaissance, it did so as in response to very rather strange ideas that had come to dominate right, mainly in the hands of the church. And so, it was really a much needed antidote to the to the weirdness that had come to you know, the, that had become dogma in the popular you know, I agree.
Bernardo Kastrup: The problem that science became an antidote for only arose when we started interpreting myths literally. Then things started going south, right? Because they And we started speculating wildly about not only widely but violently about what the facts of the matter were, and, and completely and grounded on reality. And we started taking those stories, literally. So instead of listening, instead of contemplating deep landscapes of transcendent truth deep within the mind, we started making up stories in the intellect and then interpreting them, then literally, these myths were not religious myths in the sense that they didn’t emerge from deep within that umbilical cord that connects us to the source of truth. They were made up through observation of the world and intellectual exercises ungrounded on systematic observation of the world, the world, and then they became siddhi meats that were interpreted literally. And then it was a disaster. And science came as an antidote of that. But it corrected more than the original problem, because now it went down the path of saying, even religious myths are nonsense. And by the way, we don’t need any interpretative framework, philosophical interpretative framework for science, because science itself already provides the answers. It’s absolutely silly, that’s just applying a certain ontology a certain philosophical view to the data without even knowing that you’re doing it. So blind when it comes to it.
Rick Archer: And also religion had co opted a lot of stuff that it had no business messing with, such as astronomy, you know, okay, well, now, the Earth is the center of the, of the universe, and that has religious significance, it means that man is, is ultimately important. And you know, and the planets have to move in circles, not ellipses, because circles are perfect, and ellipses aren’t so religious religions, we’re getting into all kinds of stuff that I don’t think that the founders of religion such as Jesus or Buddha would have wanted them to. So science kind of saved the day in that respect.
Bernardo Kastrup: Well, the perfect circus thing was actually a philosophical speculation
Rick Archer: was played over somebody.
Bernardo Kastrup: Yeah, it comes from very old times in Greece, prior to Jesus, I think, this idea of the, you know, the perfect fears and so on. But, uh, I think religious institutions are guilty of what you’re saying. Once you have an institution with people, you have all the negative aspects of people playing a role, their greed, status, and power seeking, even sexual, whatever motivations. The religious institution can hijack me with terrifying consequences, like burning witches in converting New World Inquisition converting the new world people to Christianity, and completely removing meaning from their lives, or the Crusades, going to a place where they had no business and then killing everybody there. And of course, the Muslims are no less guilty of this, as well, radical, fundamentalist Islam, very visible today for doing something similar, probably, well, at a much lower scale than what Christians have done, but much more visible today. I’m not pro or against any particular religion. And by the way, and I didn’t mean to sound biased here. But I think we should discern, make a difference between a religious institution with its own problems and biases and prejudices, and also with its benefits. Because, you know, without some forming some form of institutional support, it’s hard to see how a religious myth can be maintained, vital and alive, without institutional support. So there are pros and cons to religious institutions. But you have to differentiate all that, from the original religious myth itself, the original short little story, rich in symbolism that emerges spontaneously and ready from the obfuscated mind in which people very long ago, contemplated and try to wrap around in words.
Rick Archer: Yeah. Also, just to put a cap on that. I mean, religious institutions were not only inimical to other cultures and all but even to the mystics within their own tradition. I mean, people like, you know, St. John of the Cross, and Teresa of Avila, they got a really hard time from the religious administrators of their day, because they were actually having genuine, direct mystical insights. And that kind of threatened those who clung desperately to mere beliefs.
Bernardo Kastrup: Yeah, if you have a direct connection to transcendence, you don’t need an intermediary. Yeah. And if you don’t need an intermediary, What power does the intermediary hat? So of course, these people when others Swedenborg comes to mind. Of course, they were threats. They could access these things directly. Remember, there was a time only a few 100 years ago When Christians we’re not supposed to even read the Bible. Yeah, we shouldn’t forget that. So this this thing, this idea of you need an intermediary, and we will take care of you don’t try to have this experience yourself. This has a very long history. Yeah.
Rick Archer: Fortunately, not so much of a history in the, in the Hindu or Vedic tradition. I mean, they’re, you know, the teachers. I mean, I’m sure there are examples of it. But they’re the teachers would want their students to have the same experience they had and to graduate, so to speak, and become experiential authorities of themselves without needing without needing the teachers tried to put themselves out of a job, essentially, if they were good ones.
Bernardo Kastrup: And still, you have the whole the whole, you know, thing around gurus and the way they dress and then all the flower necklaces, and then the throne high in the room in front of the room, and all the other ration and all that stuff. So it happens in the east to read, it may be less officially institutionalized. It has west but it’s happening.
Rick Archer: Now let’s kind of wrap up a theme we’ve been discussing, I think was was you haven’t, we haven’t quite done the conclusion on it. And that is that, you know, science arose as a fulfill a need, that was, you know, pretty dire. Because society or human thinking was so so gripped by ridiculous myths. And so science said, Hey, wait a minute, let’s, let’s understand things are correctly here and see what’s really going on. But as you’ve said, science threw the baby out with the bathwater, and, and even today, generally, totally rejects myth as as meaningless and silly. But we’ve seen what can happen to the world with without that sort of deeper spiritual orientation, where materialistic understanding of things is allowed to dominate and the implications that had for that is having for the environment and, you know, species extinction, and you know, all this stuff. So, if all goes well, you know, how would you see, you know, a decade or two or three or four down the line? How would you envision a world in which a proper balance had been restored between the empirical and the intuitive I think that was the word used the intuitive Yeah. You know, what, what would an ideal world look like if those two were actually in proper balance in relationship with one another?
Bernardo Kastrup: Difference answer this directly, I think, just make a comment. We never abandoned myth. They’re just hidden. And they don’t have this label anymore. If you look at science today, all the multiverse cosmologies with coffee of coffee, countless coffees of Rick Archer living their lives in countless parallel universes, and because zillions more emerging every tiny, every tiny fraction of a second, I mean, what is that but a rich myth in which you never die, because the result is a US somewhere else that didn’t die. Or even if you die, you will be reborn exactly as you work today at some point in the cosmological future, because there is enough time for that to happen. And there are there are limited states in the universe. So combination of states, we will have to believe defeat at some point. Ray Kurzweil
Rick Archer: wanting to upload his mind to a computer so you can be eternal or like
Bernardo Kastrup: my next exam for consciousness consciousness is generated from material arrangements, hey, then it can be downloaded or uploaded. And then that’s another door to be mortality. The difference here is that in the modern, scientific myth making, covertly also aiming at transcendence and immortality. The difference is that what is invested with power is the ego. The ego now has the power to control transcendence through technology, not deities, not the archetypal forces of the obfuscated mind. There is a recent psychological study done here at the University of Colombia, if I’m not mistaken, at least the lead researcher was published this year. They did research with volunteers, and they could show that belief believe that science will eventually obtain control of nature is perceived as very empowering, comforting as a means to reduce anxiety, depression and all that, that belief in the power of science to completely control nature and the belief that
Rick Archer: in every realm, I suppose agriculture, disease, environment, everything
Bernardo Kastrup: okay? Yeah, so I sort of transhumanist idea but we About the downloading of consciousness of Ray Kurzweil, just extraordinarily advanced medicine that would get you to live 100 years, 1000 years or even beyond this belief was proceeding in the belief that this is within rich that it may happen within our lifetimes, or the lifetimes of our kids is very empowering, has a religious tone to it. But again, it invests the ego, not deities, with the power to control transcendence. So we never lost the myth of transcendence, they are covert, the only difference is that they are now focusing on the ego, as opposed to focusing on what the ancient ancients would call the soul, which is your, how you truly feel what you truly want, not what you think you feel not what you think you want, but how you feel inside in the chest in the gut, not in the head. And that’s the difference. Now, how can we restore balance? I’m very bad at coming up with recipes for things. Rick, as you know me well enough to know this, by now, I focus on analyzing and understanding what is,
Rick Archer: let’s say to, you know, if you were able to if you were a science fiction writer or a futurist, and you wanted to portray a civilization in which a proper balance had been restored between science and you know, mystical insight or intuitive insight, and that each was flourishing to its full value, but in a way that was in which they were harmonious with each other, and complementary to one another, you know, what would that look like to you?
Bernardo Kastrup: I’ll be honest, even though it will not be nice, what I’m going to say, Okay. I think that the train of a physicalist science has enormous momentum. Now, it’s a very heavy, very large training, and it’s going at a very, very high speed, it is nearly impossible to stop it. Within any term that we can contemplate, now, I see only one hole that can be explored. And it’s precisely the hole one focusing on and that is the hard problem of consciousness. That is the fact that we cannot explain the qualities of experience the warmth of love, the readiness of an apple, the bitterness of disappointment, we cannot explain these qualities on the basis of parameters of physical systems, like spin momentum, form, angle, mass, charge, these these are completely disconnected disjoint worlds, you cannot explain one in terms of the other. And that’s, that’s even in principle, so. So it’s a very fundamental gap. And more and more people looking at it, scratching their heads and thinking, what are we doing wrong? What are we seeing wrong? I mean, the answer is obvious. Right? Here we have consciousness, imagining things like electrons and atoms outside consciousness, and then becoming puzzled why it can’t explain itself on the basis of its own abstractions. I mean, it’s obvious what’s going on consciousness is abstracting things into existence, contents of consciousness itself. And then it can’t figure out how it can explain itself on the basis of its abstractions, it will never do that it’s changed the chasing its own tails, its own tail. It’s like a dog running around in circles. And that’s the hard problem. And because there are more and more people seeing this for what it is that we have dogs chasing our own tails here, we never come out of it. I think that offers some hope. But my feeling is that it’s not going to happen in time. I think what will happen to restore balance is catastrophe.
Rick Archer: Yeah, I mean, with your train metaphor, there have been several train crashes in recent years where high speed trains went into curves much too quickly, because the conductor wasn’t paying attention or something and they went off the rails. And I think this the so called unstoppable train of science is heading for the curve.
Bernardo Kastrup: Basically, science and physical science I mean, science, prejudiced by a particular ontology finds itself without an ontological load and ontological bias or prejudice causes no harm. It only gives us tools. It’s what we do with the tools based on how we interpret what we see in science. That’s where things go incredibly wrong. For instance, if I take the position of eliminative materialism, and this is the idea that consciousness doesn’t really exist, that’s what Michael Graziano has been saying Daniel Dennett and the church lens and a few other people with questionable insanity if you ask me. So here we have cautiousness denying that consciousness exists, or consciousness saying that consciousness is an illusion. But wait a moment, where do illusions happen, but in consciousness, so what there’s a short circuit here, with, if these guys and these guys are published by, you know, major journals, and even the New York Times, and The New Yorker magazine and the Atlantic and other mainstream magazines, they get a lot of airtime, they are taken seriously, which is incredible, but it is, so they are taken seriously. Now, what is the implication of this interpretation of reality? If you say that consciousness doesn’t exist, that all that really exists is matter outside consciousness? What possible meaning can there be to life, but the accumulation of consciousness? This is the necessary answer, because there is no other answer, there is no other possible conceivable meaning. And then what do you do you, plunder you, you, you you, you don’t care about the future of the planet, because once you’re dead, you’re dead. Anyway, you’re not going to live to see the catastrophe. All you can do is collect your material stuff and enjoy it as much as you can. And to hell with the rest. So you see what causes the trouble is the interpretation. When we lay a myth, a story on top of those predictive models of science that inform us what will happen if this happens, and so on and so forth. We load a tool with an interpretation that leads to disaster. science itself will only offer the tools I think, the problem, the problem is in the interpretation, so it wouldn’t blame science. I would blame physicalist contaminated science. Yeah.
Rick Archer: Men use the term obfuscated mind and to obfuscate means to make something unclear, occluded to some extent, and seems to me that people who come up with these, these, these very sort of anemic myths about the world are just not seeing very clearly they’re occluded. They’re obfuscated. I mean, it amazes me, actually, that a scientist, or a doctor or anyone with with who looks at nature very, very closely, could be an atheist, because they more than anyone are, you know, have the sort of the beauty and interested intricacy of nature, the the obvious intelligence of nature, staring them in the face. You know, if you’re, if you’re a cell biologist, and you’re looking at the mechanics of a cell, how could you possibly conclude that that’s just some mechanistic little, little thing that is not being orchestrated by unfathomably rich intelligence?
Bernardo Kastrup: I think I have a theory about this. I think there is surprising psychological gain for these people to say what they say and to think what they think it’s very covert. They portray themselves as just staring the hard facts in the face and biting the bullet. And in that sense, they make themselves better than you and me, because we are just Wishful Thinkers, right? We are just dreamers. We want reality to be different than what it is. And they just stare the hard facts in your face. But actually, there’s tremendous psychological gain by taking this position. But it’s a complex theory I have I’m submitting a paper actually to a psychology journal with it. I’m not sure you want to get into this. But there is psychological game. This is this is biased.
Rick Archer: Well, in a nutshell, are you implying that the psychological gain is a buttressing of their individual ego? It’s sort of like a, an attempt to that’s to strengthen and maintain, you know,
Bernardo Kastrup: that’s certainly part of it. Yeah, I think there’s more to it, it goes deeper. It has to do with gaining meaning, surprisingly enough, because you see, one major source of meaning the main source of meaning that humanity has had historically, is religious myths, the transcendence, the teleological transcendence, that and the immortality that religious myths offer. Once we lost the ability, round, middle of the 19th century, we lost the ability to relate to religious myths, without intellectual scrutiny. So you were forced to disregard them. If people felt that they were intellectually honest, they had to disregard those myths and that created an ontological trauma people were traumatized because now they had to stare their own mortality in the face. And that’s a tremendous loss of meaning. We know that from terror management theory today, that mortality salience as it’s called in psychology and the fact that you have to acknowledge your own approaching mortality. That is a tremendous threat, your sense of meaning in life. And, but the thing is, meaning has multiple sources. And there is a theory called meaning meaning management To model or something like this, there isn’t. The core idea is fluid compensation. And the idea is if you lose one source of meaning, you will compensate by getting meaning from another source. And another source of meaning is closure. It’s a major source of meaning. So if you lose meaning from religious transcendence, you will emphasize closure to restore meaning. It’s like a closure. Closure, it means that you have an understanding of why things happen, they may be shipped, but at least you understand why they are shipped. For instance, if
Rick Archer: so you have you feel like you have it all figured out. And that gives you some security,
Bernardo Kastrup: it gives you meaning, a sense of meaning, and not security, a sense of meaning. And for instance, if you are, suppose you’re trying very hard to get a promotion, and you fail, that destroys your sense of meaning, or significance and impacts it and you compensate that by telling yourself, but that company is a piece of crap anyway. And that gives you closure. So we play this little game inside their heads all the time, this is established psychological fact, we know that from the mmm fluid compensation and all that it happens subliminally. I think what materialists do is they compensate the meaning that has been robbed from them by their intellect, which is the bounced part and then doesn’t allow them to relate spontaneously to religious myths anymore. We compensate by seeking closure and what is science doing? Science is by far the biggest attempt humanity has ever made to come up with a complete, causally closed model of reality. So yes, reality may be shit, we may be dying, it may all be lost anyway. But at least we figured it out. And that gives us a sense, at least we want that we want a battle here, we get something out of it. And I think that’s what is underlying this. But okay.
Rick Archer: That’s an interesting line of thinking. And it’s interesting to note the arrogance or audacity of, or the attitude of many of these people, there’s a sort of a certainty of finality, you know, this is the way it is, and everybody else is stupid. And whereas it’s kind of juxtapose that with a lot of spiritual teachers these days, who talk a lot about the value of not knowing and the value of uncertainty and, you know, keeping an open mind and never considering yourself to have kind of final answers to anything, but life is a continuous exploration and a mystery. That, to me, is much more humble, and healthy.
Bernardo Kastrup: And you see, most people I hope, my science colleagues and I still have many, don’t don’t take me wrong. When I say this, they probably won’t be watching this, which is someone I can cite someone else in my own responsibility here. Let me cite Thomas Kuhn, who wrote structure of revolutions. Yes. A lot of what goes on in sciences, game time, people are playing games they made they made the rules themselves. And they play those games, and they can win or they can lose. And when they win, it’s fake kick. It’s like winning a chess tournament in our winning an Olympic competition, you feel good about yourself. And that gives you meaning to because self? What’s the right word for that? If you have a positive view of yourself, that gives you meaning as well. So it’s one of the sources of meaning amenable to fluid compensation. So I think what you see is a lot of grown up. adolescents who are very smart, who enjoy their gains very much can avoid the toughest existential questions of their lives. By focusing all their energies and passions in playing those games. The games bring them a strong sense of meaning, despite that pessimistic outlook of materialism, for the reasons we just discussed, which are usually covert, nobody talks about that. But it gives them a sense of meaning. And then they go on playing this game all their lives, and self esteem is boosted because, hey, they understand the world and most people on the streets don’t understand. And if they speak out and pretend that they understand, we have to shut them up. Because they’re ignorant idiots anyway, and we are the ones who understand it’s the new priesthood. They are placing themselves like priests in the past, in the recent past, as intermediaries between people in truth, they’re basically telling you, you can’t figure truth out for yourself. It’s way too complex. You don’t have the education and have the background. You don’t have the publications and the degrees. Listen to me. Because I know
Rick Archer: it’s interesting because it’s like, you know, when Christ came along, he was always railing against the scribes and Pharisees who were hypocrites and who weren’t really sincerely interested in truth, they’re more interested in power and position. And, you know, they had, they had sort of lost the original purity of their own tradition. And you’re kind of saying the same thing about science. When I, when I hear you describe them that way, it’s like these people aren’t interested in knowing what’s real, what’s real, they aren’t interested in knowing what’s ultimately true. They’re just playing games, as you said, they’re kind of jockeying for status and, and well, then various, you know, perk perks of their of their position.
Bernardo Kastrup: When I say playing games, I don’t mean necessarily just status and wealth and all this no, this is negative things. It can be honest, healthy, game playing, when it becomes unhealthy. If you replace reality with gameplay, if you think that your game is actually the reality of things.
Rick Archer: Well, you can also spend half a career investing in a particular paradigm and then you feel very, if that paradigm begins to be threatened by something, you don’t want to just drop it, you
Bernardo Kastrup: know, you There you go. But I think in my own experience in science, and has been in the greatest bastions of science, is that scientists, by and large, are honest, they are not bad people, they don’t have bad intent. They are doing all this thinking that you’re doing the right thing. So I don’t mean to imply that this is malicious. This isn’t malicious. It’s just human beings stuff, garden variety, psychology, you know, with its weaknesses, and it’s in its tracks. And scientists, just human beings, very smart human beings are playing that those games. But that smartness doesn’t necessarily correlate with wisdom and introspective insight. Yeah. And often, often, it doesn’t.
Rick Archer: Well, it strikes me that it’s a symptom of, you know, egotism of being fixated or absorbed in one’s individual ego, as opposed to being willing to surrender or relinquish that, which ultimately, is what you have to do if if you really want truth, you know, you have to cut the drop has to dissolve into the ocean to understand the ocean. Yeah,
Bernardo Kastrup: this idea of surrender. This is not in the map of science. It does not exist, they have this is really beyond their conception of reality. That’s not what what happens in scientific circles,
Rick Archer: which is, again, a point that is, if we’re talking about a future scenario in which science and spirituality have each blossomed fully and are collaborating with one another, hopefully, they will each have adopted the best of the other’s systems, you know, so that spiritual people will be very systematic and scientific and their explanation, exploration is not given to, to offense, fanciful imaginings. And science, you know, will be kind of very humble and open to truth, wherever it may be found, or wherever they may be led, without being kind of rigid or invested and paradigms that are no longer working.
Bernardo Kastrup: I think you make an important point, all the critics, we’ve just leveraged science, we can leverage analogous critiques at spirituality. Yeah, maybe worse, maybe worse. But since since I feel I know more of science and spirituality, I will refrain from pounding people that I don’t know sufficiently about,
Rick Archer: I kind of think they need each other, you know, and, you know, one point, so called spirituality had the upper hand, and now science has so called Science as the upper hand, but neither was really all it ought to be. And that if they can somehow move beyond the current stage to the point where both are coming to their full potential, and by sharing with one another, the best aspects of each, then both will become much more than either ever has been.
Bernardo Kastrup: Absolutely, I think there is. There’s a lot of room for dialogue. I mean, there are things I can mention one concrete example, if you read Nisargadatta Maharaj, I mean, firstly, you have to get past all the outright contradictions in every page of what he writes, because his use of words is so loose, and because there is translation, and because you know, there are 30 words in India for consciousness and only one in English. So if you translate everything into consciousness, so there’s contradictions all over the place, but if you get fast all that he was talking about metacognition, about re representation and self reflection. Already the 60s in the 70s and this is something that entered the realm of neuro psychology and neuroscience. This century scholar published I think, seminal paper in 2002 about this idea of re representation and metacognition and only this year there has been some Some influential papers about the fact that the neural correlates of reportable experience are not the neural correlates of experience in itself, because to report an experience is an extra cognitive faculty and metacognitive faculty on top of the ability to experience something. So all these things are now being talked about in neuroscience. And he’s gonna tell us talking about it long ago, in completely different words, you were saying, you’re talking about the I Am, know that you are, that’s an appeal to metacognition, you’re talking about an experience that isn’t in consciousness or something to that effect. He’s talking about known re represented experiences, in other words, experiences that are not repressed, re represented at a cognitive metacognitive level, this modern stuff in neuroscience, if you read Nisargadatta, with the knowledge that you have today, you got them through pure introspection. This guy knew all this shit already decades ago.
Rick Archer: And millennia ago, people have known it. Yeah. Here’s a question that came in from Elizabeth. Again. In Tibetan Buddhism, there is a practice known as deity yoga. Maybe you’re familiar with it, in which the practitioner imagines that their body is the body of the Deity. Their mind is the mind of the Deity, and their speech is the speech of the Deity. In this way, we invoke and inhabit the energy of an archetype. I’ve often wondered how this sort of practice relates to the more direct path of Advaita Vedanta, what’s your sense of this?
Bernardo Kastrup: I think this resonates a lot with the union psychology. Okay, I have a lot to say about this. This is a sweet spot. For me, and, and I feel strongly about this. I think one thing is to know what the ultimate truth is. And that’s what Advaita Vedanta tells us. And I think it’s very effective know that, at the bottom of everything, there is only consciousness, which is the best English word we have. I mean, we should have more English words, really. And I don’t mean consciousness as cognition or as metacognition more
Rick Archer: like an ocean, like at the bottom of every wave, there’s the ocean
Bernardo Kastrup: view of consciousness. So the potential for there being something it is like to be, that would be the rigorous definition that comes from David Chalmers your conscious if there is something that is like to be you. So that’s the most basic level of consciousness if there is some quality of experience in you, then you are conscious at that basic level,
Rick Archer: like you might, you might say that your glass of water is not conscious, because there’s nothing that it is like to be a glass of water in itself,
Bernardo Kastrup: no, but there is something it is like to be the whole universe, a part of which is the glass of water, right? So we can put you can put it that way. But so what Advaita Vedanta is telling us is that at the bottom of everything, in scientific terms, the ontological primitive of all reality, the root of all reality, the speaker whose vibrations is the world, we see the feelings we have, and everything is consciousness itself. And what is consciousness? It is that which experiences it is that whose excitations are the qualities of experience. That’s what Advaita Vedanta tells us. And, and, and you can interpret it in many ways, like, well, then the rest is just excitations. It’s always illusion, or the rest are symbols of this ultimate truth, that ask for interpretation, ask for engagement, it’s interpretation, but advice. It gives us that root level, what the Western approaches which are highly symbolic, and I discuss this thing in chapter four of the book, this myth versus no myth, traditions, and the pros and cons of each as I see them. What the Western traditions give you is a study of the structure of the illusion. If we can call it an illusion, I’ll concede that word illusion, to to speak to advise this, which I think a big part of your audience. So I concede that. Yes, it’s all illusion. But I emphasize that the illusion is the WAY the TRUTH expresses itself, because the truth cannot be known directly, for the same reason that you can’t see your eyes, with your eyes, unless you have a mirror. The illusion is the mirror. The illusion is the way what is true project itself in a way that can be apprehended, cognized experienced. So the illusion is the only expression of the truth with what Advaita is probably not going to give us is, how does the illusion arise? What is the structure and dynamics of that evolution? Is it restricted to what we can see with our five senses? Or does the illusion continue before or after death? And maybe was there before birth? Are there hierarchical worlds of experience in which some form of individuality is preserved? Are there alternative phenomena universes universal universes have experience with different patterns and regularities different laws of physics, if you want to call it is there a purpose behind the illusion? Is there a theory ology, is it going somewhere? Is it driving to something? Is there a grant? Meaning, is it? Is it a war in peace? Or is it just just an accident? Or is it just for nothing just for fun, as Alan Watts used to claim that this is just for fun, which appealed to his personality, but doesn’t appeal to anybody who is driven by meaning, which, unfortunately, is most people today. So I think the union approach which is reflected also in this, this Buddhist meditation, she’s referring to the play of the archetypes. It’s not looking at what is ultimately true. It’s the Okay, there is an ultimate truth, but we don’t look at it, we look at at the hierarchical levels of the manifestation of that truth, whatever it may essentially be. And we went to study the structure, this complexity, this factors of the illusion, because it may be helpful, it may inform our lives in ways that we don’t understand today. I think the best approach is to marry the two when it is a very recent very strongly feeling I have had this week that if you have only one, you’re missing out on something, if you go down this archetypal path, the Gnostic fashio, the Western esotericism, path of hermeticism, you know, all these other symbolic currents of religious mythology, if we ignore that, purely for the sake of what is ultimately true, you find a measure of peace. But you will not engage life because you need a myth to engage life, you need a narrative to motivate you to really engage with the with the fact that you are alive in the world. But if you have only that in theology, and you’re not connected to what is ultimately true, through, you are liable to all kinds of detours, and false shortcuts and delusions, and taking things too seriously when ultimately you shouldn’t when they go wrong. So marrying marrying these two, I think, is very useful. And from that perspective, I think to answer her question, finally, directly. I think this meditation in which you play with archetypal figures, I think it can be very useful. Jung called it active imagination, it’s slightly different. But the essence underlying the approach is the same, the goal is the same. But it’s also very dangerous, because there are there are some archetypal forces down there, that it’s tricky to be in touch with. But if one feels courageous and adventurous enough, and perhaps prepared enough, I think it’s worthwhile to do it. I think if it doesn’t work, it’s harmless. And people might think it’s worth it, it’s working, but actually, it’s not. So it’s harmless. But if it does work, and you really embody an archetype, I think you you raise your eyebrows very high, and then you think, Oh, shit, this is not what I thought it would be. But it can be very useful,
Rick Archer: I think you really have to be in shape if you’re going to try to climb Everest. And so there might be pas, you know, of spiritual practice that not everyone is suitable or qualified for, or without more preparation or something, they could be too much for a person or might not even be able to practice them. But to your other points, I, you know, my understanding of things just that I’ve gleaned over the years and doing these interviews, you know, they’re the idea of a deity is not merely some kind of fanciful or imaginative notion, there are deities, there are deep, powerful impulses of intelligence that help to govern and orchestrate the universe. And some of them have vast jurisdictions, and some of them are more small, perhaps, but there are all sorts of things going on, that don’t ordinarily meet the eye, at least of the average person, they do meet the eye of some people, some people actually perceive the mechanics of this stuff quite routinely. So I don’t know that might be a bit of a diversion. But you know, it’s just that life is much more incredible and mysterious and magical and multifarious than then we the vast majority of people realize,
Bernardo Kastrup: yeah, and connecting with this felt sense of the mystery and the magic. I think that is one of the greatest challenges. And it’s a challenge I systematically fail at. And because, in a sense,
Rick Archer: something that when grows into and that you may become more successful at as you go along.
Bernardo Kastrup: I used to be very successful at it when I was very young. I was very connected to the sense of mystery and the magic of the world. But the more and that’s, that’s the trick and everything that you succeed on has has a negative impact. The more you think you’re understanding what this is all about, the more you lose the connection. with that sense of ultimate mystery, and unfortunately, to be effective in what I do, which is to write rigorous philosophy, if you don’t have this sense that you’re making progress, and you’re figuring it out, you can’t do this. You can’t do it. So it’s a sort of a job hazard. Know what I mean? I should get extra pay for this job hazard. Because maybe if you just read what I’m saying, You’re not really you get a sense of Oh, yeah, this, this makes sense. But you’re not as exposed to the heart and to the hazard. As as you are, when you’re actually plowing your way through the jungle and getting this feeling that I’m getting this, I’m figuring this out. And the more you go down that path, the more you lose contact with the mystery and the magic and the more crazy and in, in silly life starts to feel. So my personal challenge right now is to continue to do what I do, but not fall in this trap. And maintain that that beginner’s mind, maintain maintain that sense of the unfathomable mystery we’re sitting on right there in which is right under our noses. And it’s very difficult.
Rick Archer: I think you can do it others have. I mean, you know, a lot of people I’ve talked to say that they had this sort of mystical union kind of thing going on when they were very young. And then they lost it as they got into their teen years and began to become educated, and so on and so forth. And some say they’ve regained it, some haven’t. But, you know, some of the greatest spiritual luminaries of history have been great intellects as well as being great mystics and for instance, Shankara, himself, you know, wrote these really sophisticated commentaries, and, and so on, and yet, so he was a great intellect, but at the same time, a great Realizer of truth. So I think the two can actually be complimentary, and you shouldn’t feel like you’re kind of handicapping yourself with all this, all this thinking and writing. Maybe you just need to supplement what you’re doing with something else, some more meditative practice or something like that. Oh, go ahead.
Bernardo Kastrup: I envy Swedenborg was a scientist and engineer and inventor in a very respected and Swedish Academy of Sciences, I think he was. And he had this mind boggling mystical experiences. And if I read his experiences, symbolically, it makes all kinds of sense, his idea of the correspondences, I mean, that’s deep, it’s fantastically deep. It’s symbolic, but fantastically the but it’s difficult these days, it was possible until a couple of 100 years ago, but today, there is so much you have to know, intellectually, in order to be able to articulate things in a way that will get you heard so much, so much, you have to know I mean, I haven’t had an experience very recently, I submitted a paper to neuroscience journal, which shall remain unnamed. And in a very kind editor, who also shall remain unnamed, wrote me back saying it’s a great paper. It’s a fantastic paper, but it great ideas, but a lot of it has already been written about. And there is enough new here to go ahead. But you have to connect all this stuff that has already been written about to the previous papers. And it was mind boggling list and I thought Shit, this is I’ll have to plow through another jungle here. I have a speciality that’s not mine. I’m a computer engineer, not a neuroscientist. I’m doing it, but I’m doing it. But it illustrates the difficulty today. Because you see, I’m approaching things from a holistic perspective, which I think is what’s needed today. introspection, and science at multiple levels, science in terms of in terms of neuroscience, in terms of psychology, in terms of in philosophy of mind, hardcore, analytic, neuro philosophy, as well. So I think when you put it all together, then you have a fixture of what’s going on, because these things are not separate, we separated them for our own ease. Now, it makes it easier for us to separate things but reality is not separate. There is no neuroscience psychology and philosophy of mind in reality, there is only reality. So in trying to sew these things out together in a coherent narrative, you get exposed to so much that you have to know constantly never ends. That it’s very difficult to see how how you can be complete, even on the spiritual side and introspective side of things. Something Something will fall through the cracks. Anyway, when we knew less this was possible it was possible for Swedenborg it was possible for Leonardo Nadis Renaissance men and women who were fantastic characters, but there’s so much to be said. So much useless knowledge as though like that you have to know anyway, in order to be able to articulate your position that is very tough
Rick Archer: for many branched and endlessly diverse or that intellects of the irresolute. But the resolute intellect is one pointed, comes from the Gita. But um, think of it in terms of like a wheel with spokes, you know, and you have the hub of the wheel, and then you have all these spokes representing the different branches of knowledge. And in terms of actual knowledge, you can’t really become a master of all the spokes, there just isn’t time enough in life. But you can, using any spoke, get to the hub. And if you’re at the hub, then you’re kind of the home of all the spokes, so to speak. So I would suggest that consciousness in the oceanic sense of it the self, you know, one’s essential, ultimate nature, is the home of all knowledge. And that if you can capture that in your awareness, then you will have the sort of the benefit that would be had, were you to somehow explore all the branches of knowledge. without actually having to do that.
Bernardo Kastrup: I think I think for your personal realization, all this complexity I’m referring to is unnecessary. A personal realization of the truth can be very simple. I have had my glimpses so I, I don’t live in the truth. But I have had glimpses, first no direct experiential glimpses. And I know it’s, it’s simple. You could put it into words, you don’t even try it, because you know, it’s completely hopeless. But it is simple. So for for that personal realization, this forest of complexity and knowledge I’m referring to is unnecessary. But if you want to engage in the cultural dialogue, if you want to engage at the level of words and models and theories, and arguments, and be heard, and God bless me, even when, then you need to engage the forest, because everybody else is in the forest.
Rick Archer: But the more you can sort of be grounded at the source of it all, then the more all this, the more the greater the capacity, you have to deal with the complexities without getting lost in them
Bernardo Kastrup: through you can discard what is what sorts everything out for you. Yes, yes. Oh, that experience that I’ve had, I have come across things that they look at. And I’m saying, this is complete nonsense. I don’t need to read this further, right. I mean, but there is a lot of out there that make sense. There are tiny little glimpses, or formulations of tiny little aspects of the truth, that we blow up tremendously in complexity in order to be rigorous, and precise, and complete, and so on. So it’s a tree with many, many, many branches and leaves, and you have to go from leaf to leaf, in order to argue about it. But you can be at the root of the tree, and not ever have to face the complexity of the leaves and branches. It’s unnecessary for your personal experience,
Rick Archer: right. And, you know, you might spend a lifetime exploring the complexity of certain leaves and branches. Whereas if you can be at the root, you might in a moment, realize, alright, I don’t need to go into all that complexity. I’ve got the essence of that here at the root. Let’s, let’s investigate other things. But But I guess what I just want to emphasize is that having established yourself with the route, there’s no harm and exploring all the leaves and branches. Yeah, as you feel motivated to do so you won’t get lost. You won’t lose the forest for the trees, you know?
Bernardo Kastrup: Yeah, disclose a nice circle. So if you if you don’t mind, I did something. I think from a purely or new advisors, or misinterpreted advisor perspective, if you find yourself at the root, that’s the end of it, you’re there, you’re the root, you feel the truth, the truth breathe through you. It’s part of your inner experience. So there is nothing else. From my union or Western therapist, perspective, or hermetic perspective, or Gnostic perspective, or symbolic, the via positiva, the via of symbols, you would have an archetype that tells you to leave the roots, go to the branches and leaves and fight a cultural fight, because that’s what your soul wants. And I sense this very strongly me. My personal sense of peace takes a backseat to an archetypal drive to influence the cultural dialogue about the nature of reality.
Rick Archer: Yeah, but what I’m saying is you could do that without leaving the root and you’ll do it better if you can do it without leaving the room. The gators says Yogastha kuru karmani established in yoga, perform action. It doesn’t just stay stay established in Union it says, Get there, be established there and then engage in the battle of life.
Bernardo Kastrup: I acknowledge that not that I know how to do it.
Rick Archer: I actually did. Since we’re on a personal note with you, I just want to ask you about something when we were at the science and non duality conference, and we were doing that talk with Chris Fields. You said something that troubled me afterwards, you said something about how, with your new understanding of of the way things work, you you actually are fearful of death. Now, I wonder if you could address that. And if you’ve resolved that fear,
Bernardo Kastrup: no. Okay, when I I went to university very early at 17, just completed 17, I was already in university immersed in, you know, in the in the culture of physicalism, materialism, hardcore physics, engineering, computer science and all that. I, I wasn’t materialist by default. Because I was not thinking about alternatives. I just received materialism as the most plausible alternative. I accepted it, it came from the Masters, you know, the teachers, the professors, the Nobel Prize winners, even with, with heads contact with some at CERN, and just solid at home. And I had no fear of death. Because if you really, most people who proclaim themselves materialists aren’t really, if you really embrace and internalize materialism, you don’t fear death, because there is literally nothing, nothing to fear.
Rick Archer: Because you’re just gone when you’re,
Bernardo Kastrup: there’s nothing there. It’s the end of all of your suffering, your problems, your anxieties, your depression, I can push a button, it’s all out, it’s off. It’s the end of it all. Now, it’s a ticket to freedom, because you aren’t anymore. So this wouldn’t occupy my mind at all. There’s nothing to prepare for, there is nothing to think about. There is literally nothing there, literally. So it’s very free. And then at some point in my 30s, I realized that, that That’s complete nonsense. That’s just wishful thinking. I mean, it doesn’t make sense. And it I realized that once I understood the hard problem of consciousness, and they understood the hopelessness of ever trying to explain the qualities of experience, from the model parameters, parameters of physical system, which is what I was doing at the time, I was working on artificial intelligence, strong AI for physics experiments, we had this ambition of having an artificial intelligence to the Data Selection during the data acquisition, at the LHC, the Atlas effector. Ultimately, something or some other approach was used. But it was what I was doing, I was trying to replicate in a computer mental processes. And I realized that whatever I could replicate, would never give rise to the qualities of experience, there’s a fundamental gap. And if that was the case, and physical ism didn’t add up. And if physical isn’t, doesn’t hold, and there’s no reason to think consciousness ends upon the end of the body, because if it’s not the body that’s generating your consciousness, that thereby dies. So what, it’s not generating your consciousness anyway. And then what is the ultimate implication, the ultimate implication is then that death is not the end of consciousness, death is a new experience. But when you know nothing about now you have an unknown, and that has been the archetype of fear of humankind, I mean, the fear of hell, the fear of purgatory, the fear of what will happen after you die, which it has built into it, the idea that consciousness will continue, we just don’t know what will be the next experience. And what we do know, based on for instance, meditation, or the use of psychedelics, which as it turns out, reduce brain activity, don’t increase it. So it’s a sort of a simulation of death, you make the first steps towards no brain activity by using psychedelics. And what we know from from studies and from experience there is that the archetypal forces emerge, and they can be very good, they can be blissful, and they can be terrible. And there are many deities in the pantheon of archetypes in which they will come to you when you die. I don’t know. And that’s my honest answer. And the refuge would be to really be well trained in Advaita. So that once you die, you know, how to step out of your experience and assume the witness position and know that this is just an image in the mirror, a symbolic image in a symbolic mirror, of of what you are, but that fundamentally you are the one watching the mirror. And the image in the mirror can ever hurt what you truly are because you’re just watching all of your experiences. So I can imagine that this kind of training is useful during that trip. Question. But it doesn’t solve the fear.
Rick Archer: Well, in simple terms, though, I know in Eastern traditions and maybe also Western and Western Western to the the basic myth is that if you live a good life, then whatever happens after you die will be pretty good. So, you know, we have control over that pretty much. And maybe we don’t need to fear as long as we’re doing the best we can. And in this life,
Bernardo Kastrup: it’s a soothing story, isn’t it?
Rick Archer: Yeah. We’re talking about myths here. In fact, here’s here’s a question from Mike in Santa Clara, that might be a good point to bring it in. We were talking earlier about the train wreck metaphor. And he said, Is there a particular myth that can help reduce the existence of existential angst for those who see the train of materialism heading for catastrophe?
Bernardo Kastrup: No, of course, if he if he is actually referring to existentialism, so the existential angst as described by
Rick Archer: he might also mean like, you know, what we see with climate change, and various other things happening in the world that, you know, we could end up you know, going to hell in a handbasket. If we don’t turn things around.
Bernardo Kastrup: I understand that the expression existential angst is Keuka guardian. So I would apply on that assumption, that that’s what he means. The existential angst comes to you only, to the extent that you see yourself as smaller than the world and inserted in the world, and the world being separate from you. Only then is the world oppressive, out of control, threatening. And only then can the world also be finite. And the train wreck, a permanent thing that actually threatens you. I think all legitimate religious myths can help one overcome this existential angst. They all talk about the kinship, the essential fundamental kinship between humans and gods. Jesus was fully man and Jesus was fully God, and the Holy Spirit has descendants to every man, woman and child on this planet. So this fundamental kinship is identity between man and God, God as the one that encompasses the world, and men as the one who is encompassed by the world. If there’s different collapses through this kinship, existential angst goes out of the window, because then, you know, what if there is a train wreck, what if there is catastrophe, and this planet goes up in flames, it’s an event in time. And we live in eternity, we aground in eternity, it will be part of the romance, it will be part of warranties, it will be a tragedy in one piece, and many new romances will will emerge after that tragedy, new planets, maybe the earth will come back online, after a few 1000 years, we cannot destroy the planet, we can only destroy our means to survive in the planet. The planet itself will always recover, given sufficient millions of years into the future. We can only destroy ourselves as a species. And but then what does it matter? Yeah, what does it matter if you don’t see yourself as the one is certainly the planet, but as the one imagining the planet and the whole thing is happening in it?
Rick Archer: That’s a good answer. And I mean, even the planet won’t survive, eventually, the sun is going to become a red giant and the the earth will become engulfed in it and melted, and so on. But we live billion years. Yeah, that’s about it. That’s about the timeline. Yet. At that point, the global warming skeptics will finally have to admit we have a problem. But that won’t perturb the self, you know, the, the freemen may come and men may go, but I go on forever. Yeah. Great. Well, maybe that’s a good point. And I’m sure there’s tons of points in your book here. And even on this summary of your book that I have in front of me that we could discuss and haven’t discussed. But these interviews always have to be sort of a little taste, you know, a teaser. And if people like what they hear then then they can read the book. And I’ve, essentially, there’s a fellow named Jeffrey Crapo that I interviewed a couple of years ago along with Dana Sawyer, and I noticed that Jeffrey discovered you and kind of did a crash course and reading all your books and wrote a very beautiful introduction to the current one. And
Bernardo Kastrup: we’ve met a few weeks back, Virginia. A very nice guy.
Rick Archer: Yeah. But in any case, I think that endorsement says something that is I always find it a little bit of a challenge and a stretch to Read your material and even to talk to you, but it because you’re so brilliant, but it makes me more intelligent by having to expand my capacity in order to understand what you’re talking about. So I really appreciate it actually. And I highly encourage those who have found this conversation interesting. And there have been a record number of people online during it over well over 100, at most times, to check out some of your writings. And
Bernardo Kastrup: I think I think one thing we didn’t cover, and I’m not suggesting that we cover it now, but just just to mention it. So people know, I think part two of the book where I talk about space and time and the fact that they don’t exist, and how we can figure it out, through pure introspection without any scientific knowledge or scientific experiments purely by introspecting, we can, we can feel and realize that space and time are not there. And the idea of the cosmic Big Bang, how do we create space and time in our own minds through circular cognition? I think that that’s, that could be attractive to Advaita inclined people, because it resonates so well, with Advaita. It’s difficult to talk about, it’s very difficult to write about, or at least you have more time to sort of craft your words when you’re writing, which is much more difficult to do when you’re talking. So maybe it’s even good that we didn’t talk about that, but I just wanted to leave it up there. Put it out there, that this is in the book. And it can be interesting, great.
Rick Archer: Well, PT Barnum said, always leave them wanting more. So there’s a little temptation for people. All right, well, let me just make some concluding remarks. I’ve been speaking with Bernardo kastrup, which is really been enjoyable for me. And hopefully, for all of you who’ve been listening to us all this time. This, I’ll be creating a page for this interview on batgap.com and linking to all Barnardos books and his website and all that. You have podcast also, I believe, and it keeping up with that the podcast,
Bernardo Kastrup: not really not really. It’s really incidental.
Rick Archer: Okay, so we won’t worry about that too much. And this interview, as I said, In the beginning, as most of you know, is part of an ongoing series. We’re continuing with the new one every week. So if you would like to be notified of new ones, you can either subscribe on YouTube and YouTube will notify you or you can subscribe on BatGap. I’ll bet you’ll get an email once a week, every time a new one is posted. What else is going on? There’s an audio podcast of the whole thing. If you prefer to listen in that format, rather than watch. There’s the donate button which I mentioned the beginning and a bunch of other things. If you just poke around the menus on the website, you’ll you’ll see what we have to offer. So thanks for listening or watching and thank you again Bernardo. It’s really been a joy and hope to see you again that sand conference or someplace it’s
Bernardo Kastrup: sure always fun to talk to you Rick. It’s always a pleasure.
Rick Archer: Always a pleasure. And those who are listening watching see you next week.