Dean Radin 2nd Interview Transcript

Dean Radin #576

November 18, 2020

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>>Rick: Welcome to Buddha at the Gas Pump. My name is Rick Archer. BATGAP is an ongoing series of conversations with spiritually awakening people. I’ve done about 570-something of them now, so if this is new to you and you would like to check out some of the previous ones, please go to and look under the ‘Past Interviews’ menu.

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My guest today is Dean Radin. I had Dean on the show about three years ago and I just listened to the conversation we had then, and I had a sort of a funny thing that often happens to me when I listen to old interviews, I think “God! Am I losing my touch? This was such a good conversation. Am I going to be able to do one half as good this next time?!” Well, we’ll see what happens. Hopefully I will and it’s pretty easy with Dean because he speaks very eloquently, but we’ll try not to repeat ourselves.

Let me just read his bio first:

Dean is the Chief Scientist at the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS) and Associated Distinguished Professor of Integral and Transpersonal Psychology at the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS). He earned a B.S. in electrical engineering, magna cum laude with honors in physics, and then an M.S. in engineering and a PhD in psychology from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

Before joining the research staff of the IONS in 2001, Dean worked at AT&T Bell Labs, Princeton University, University of Edinburgh, and Stanford Research Institute International. He has given over 500 talks and interviews worldwide and he is author and co-author of hundreds of scientific and popular articles, four dozen book chapters, two technical books, and four popular books, translated so far into 15 foreign languages and those books are:

The Conscious Universe – 1997, Entangled Minds – 2006, Supernormal – 2013, which was, I think, the focus of our last conversation, and Real Magic – 2018, which I just read.

And you said in that last interview Dean that you had envisioned a trilogy and then this idea for Real Magic came up and the Real Magic book. And we were wondering what the word for a four book set is and I just looked up the word, it’s called a “tetralogy.” So there you go, you’ve written a tetralogy.

So I thought it might be a good way to start to just sort of trace your thinking over the last couple of decades, you know, why you wrote these books, and in a nutshell, what is in them. And then we’ll spend most of our time talking about the things that you write about in your latest book, Real Magic.

>>Dean: Okay. So the four books will probably turn into five and then six, and so we’ll have to find out the words for that … I was thinking that four is a quartet, but of course that’s because I used to play the violin.

So the origin of this is when I was at Princeton, I had enough time and a research assistant to help me start looking at the literature in parapsychology and apply what was then a somewhat new method of meta-analysis to see if the studies that people reported were independently repeatable.

>>Rick: And why were you interested in parapsychology? As an engineering student and aspiring classical violinist, what drew you into parapsychology?

>>Dean: Who is not interested in psychic phenomena? And so when you look for example in our fiction and our televisions and movies, the theme of psychic phenomena often devolves into horror, but nevertheless, it is a major theme that is used again and again because it attracts people. So I’m no different than anybody else and I used to read a lot of stories, fairytales, stories of the Eastern masters, all of these are somewhere between fiction and mythology and nonfiction is obsessing, almost, over these kinds of special abilities.

So I don’t remember exactly when I became interested in this but it was probably my early teenage years where I discovered that this was a thing, and in my later teen years I discovered that there was a branch of science that was trying to figure out whether or not these stories could possibly be real. That’s where I discovered that there was parapsychology as a discipline.

So, long before I went to college I was already reading most of the literature that was available, but you learn very quickly in college that nobody in the academic world seems to have any interest in this, so it was an advocation for a long time until I figured out a way of being a scientist and actually working in this field.

>>Rick: Were you also doing something to bring about the experience of this stuff as opposed to just reading about it? Were you meditating or going to séances or taking psychedelics or, you know, exploring the experiential track?

>>Dean: No one in my family and neither myself had ever reported anything psychic, but I still felt intuitively, in some way, that this was real. I don’t know why, but that’s simply what I felt. So I started meditating in 1970 as part of TM (Transcendental Meditation), on campus, and I learned very quickly that at least your subjective sense of reality can change very quickly.

And it was actually frightening because even though I was warned that you might have some distortions of perception and things of that sort, I had never taken any psychedelics – to this day I haven’t unless you include marijuana, but that’s not really psychedelic – I never felt that I needed it; my own sense of reality is already somewhere in outer space anyway.

>>Rick: Why was it frightening when you learned to meditate?

>>Dean: It was frightening because I was getting such strong visual distortions and temporal distortions. Things were moving and looking much stranger and slower typically than I knew that they were. And at the time the Checkers were people who had learned TM two weeks before I did and so I didn’t get much satisfaction from them as to what was going on, and it was frightening so I dropped it for a couple of years.

>>Rick: Yeah. Checkers by the way were people … there was a checking procedure where you could sit with a person and “check” their meditation to see if they were doing it correctly, and like Dean said, I was a Checker myself there for a while, and yeah, you basically had a memorized script that you went through based upon what the person said, and if somebody started having far-out experiences like Dean is suggesting, you might have felt a little out of your depth dealing with it, yeah.

>>Dean: Yeah, and so since I didn’t get any confidence that they knew what they were talking about or at least that they were following the script and it didn’t include my experience, I decided I don’t want this right now, I’m trying to be in school and play the violin and so on.

So over the years I’ve continued to practice TM but have gravitated more towards a kind of vanilla version of Vipassana. That works for me, t produces the calm, the inner stillness that I like but without much of the distortions that I get with some of the other methods.

>>Rick:  So do you still get distortions if you do TM? I’m curious about that.

>>Dean: I haven’t tried to go back there. I kind of suspect now that I would not because it was just such an unusual state for me to be in and I was dropping into it very quickly, maybe too quickly.

>>Rick: Yeah, you can go pretty deep pretty quick. And by distortions, I mean, obviously these things work themselves out over time with integration and stabilization, but there are all sorts of experiences, many of which you actually talk about in your Real Magic book, which meditators have, not only TM meditators but other kinds … like you might start seeing subtle beings or you might, oh I don’t know, feel yourself becoming vast and just sort of filling all the universe or some such thing, and this can be a little freaky I guess if you aren’t deeply convinced that something good is happening.

>>Dean: Or even told that this is a guidepost along the way.

>>Rick: Yeah.

>>Dean: All that somebody needed to say, in retrospect, was, “Oh, these sorts of things happen for a while and then it will fade away and you’ll get past it!” But the kinds of distortions I’m talking about are essentially that the world is breathing, as I’m breathing. So if I’m walking down a corridor and I take an in-breath, I can see it expand and then contract along with my breathing, and that’s not supposed to be the way that a corridor looks, and it was consistent enough that I could make it happen. And I decided that I don’t even know what this is, but I don’t like it too much and so I stopped.

>>Rick: That’s fascinating. I mean, there is that saying that in unity consciousness we see the world in terms of the self, but that usually means we see it as pure consciousness, its essential nature; it’s not like we see it with the nose and eyes and breathing and sweating, or whatever! So that is interesting.

Personally, if I had been your Checker, so to speak, back in those days, I don’t think I would have been overly concerned and I might have repeated a phrase that I heard Maharishi say 1,000 times which is, “Something good is happening, but don’t over-meditate, be sure to engage in plenty of vigorous activity afterwards to kind of stabilize and integrate.” But anyway, we won’t dwell on this in great length.

>>Dean: Just that, that phrase alone would have helped a lot! Because at the time, in college, every other person was using LSD or something and I was imagining at the time that maybe one of my roommates had slipped something into a drink I had or something in the air. I just didn’t know, so that was the freak-out part.

>>Rick: And that brings up a good point which we’ll just touch upon briefly, which is that on the spiritual path, knowledge is as important as experience, the two have to sort of go hand in hand. Too much knowledge without experience and you can mistake intellectual understanding for actual realization, but profound experiences without some reassurance, without some understanding of what is happening, can throw you off the path; you can give up the whole thing because you get scared, so both go hand in hand.

>>Dean: Right, and actually, I find the same thing I hear pretty often from people who may have had some psychic experiences. And the reason why they are attracted to my work and the work of my colleagues is because we’re providing a scientific way of looking at those phenomena which is not subjective anymore, it’s all objective. And people feel comforted by it because their internal concern is similar to mine, like, “Am I going crazy or not?” Well, we’ll know! That’s part of this particular path. And likewise, if we can show that telepathy exists in a laboratory, then somebody who is having those impressions will feel, “Oh, okay, that’s a thing!”

>>Rick: Yeah, and you know, we’ll probably get into this later and I think we touched upon it in the last interview, but we can imagine a society in which all these latent abilities were the norm rather than the rare exception, and if you said to your friend, “Hey! I just experienced such and such,” he’d shrug and say, “Big deal. I have that every day.”

It’s just that when things are unusual there is no social acknowledgement or reinforcement or reassurance, and so we feel like an oddball and others regard us as an oddball.

>>Dean: And heavily culturally biased as well. So if you had these experiences in modern-day United States and then you tell exactly the same experiences in modern-day India, totally different responses.

>>Rick: [Laughing] Yeah, I know, in India they’d start touching your feet or something.

>>Dean: Yeah.

>>Rick: Alright, so let’s skip through the books a little bit. So you wrote this sequence of books and I suppose each one fulfilled a …kind of it was the next horizon of your interest that needed to be explored and explained to the public, so how did the evolution go?

>>Dean: So the first book was The Conscious Universe. I wrote about 80% of that when I was at Princeton and I was addressing a question which I heard a lot, even including among my colleagues at Princeton. They said, “Well, I don’t know if I believe this experiment or that experiment,” because the currency of truth in science is independent repeatability.

Well I had read enough of the literature to know that there was lots of independent, repeatable experiments, but at the time there were very few meta-analyses that were actually published, so I decided to write a book because I couldn’t find one that had done this before, which collected the various meta-analyses that were available at that time.

And in the process, of course, I had to explain what meta-analysis is and how science is done and all the rest of it. I had to like fill in the context of why we do these kinds of analyses and what they mean, and so on.

>>Rick: And meta-analysis is just sort of a summation of all the studies that have been done on a particular thing, right?

>>Dean: Yeah. “Meta” sometimes is an echo of the original noun, so a “meta”-analysis is an analysis of analyses.

>>Rick: I see, right.

>>Dean: So you’re integrating knowledge from many different experiments.

>>Rick: Yeah, so if 100 studies have been done on Vippasana or something, a meta-analysis will congeal all the results of all those studies and see what the commonality is.

>>Dean: Right, and answer questions like, “Is this actually an effect?” or, “Is there a real effect going on? Is it independently repeatable? What is the quality of the studies?” – all of these kinds of issues.

And meta-analysis over the past 20 years or so, since I wrote that book, has continued to become more and more sophisticated, so there are lots of methods that could be applied to this now and my colleagues are continuing to do that. So that’s The Conscious Universe, is basically presenting a case for evidence in the modern vein.

>>Rick: And were you saying in that book that the universe is conscious?

>>Dean: That is one of the implications you come out with. It was not actually my choice for the title of the book, it was my editor’s choice, but I think he nailed it because once you get the notion that consciousness is bigger than 3 pounds of tissue inside your head, you immediately can just logically say, “Well, where does it end? Where did it start and where did it end?” Well, it doesn’t. It’s like there somehow. It’s fundamental in the universe, so the idea of the universe itself being conscious is not that surprising.

>>Rick: Yeah, perhaps we can touch upon that later too, that is an interesting topic. Panpsychism versus pantheism versus materialism and all that. You cover that nicely towards the end of your most recent book.

Okay, so the next one was entitled Entangled Minds.

>>Dean: Right, so Entangled Minds is about the physics of these phenomena. Entanglement is referring to quantum entanglement, which of course is one of the strange aspects of quantum mechanics, and it came about because one of the questions that people always ask after listening to the evidence is, “Well then how do you explain this?”

And scientists in particular will say, “The evidence looks good but I think it’s impossible because it doesn’t match what we know about the nature of the physical world. And I would respond by saying, “Yeah! It actually does not match what we know about the physical world in the 17th Century, but we’ve gone a little but past now!”

And I don’t propose that quantum mechanics explains consciousness or explains psychic ability, rather, what I say is that our more sophisticated understanding of the physical world allows for phenomena that are nonlocal. And so if you were to give it a description of what’s the commonality in all of the psychic phenomena, it’s that somehow, our awareness transcends space and time.

So, transcending space and time is, in a rough sense, what is meant by “nonlocality” in physics, and so I said, “Well, let’s look a little more deeply at the reality that is painted by quantum mechanics and see if that is in fact compatible with the little that we know about psychic phenomena.” And the answer is yeah, there’s a very close relationship there and it is not as simple as some physicists who simply dismiss it by saying, “You’re taking one mystery and explaining another mystery with it. And I would say no, the two mysteries are so close that I’m guessing that they’re the same.

So, quantum mechanics is a better description of the physical world, an experiential sense of the physical world then would be exactly like what we’re seeing in quantum mechanics; things are connected through time and space. And in addition, the other thing about quantum mechanics (from now on: QM) which is quite different from classical mechanics, is that observation makes a difference. You observe a photon and it does not behave the same way as if you don’t observe it. So, both of those are then related to perceptual psychic abilities and psychokinetic effects.

And so I wrote that book in 2006 I think I published that, and the evidence has continually improved, because at the time, the notion that QM was relevant to the understanding of biology was pretty controversial, it’s not so controversial anymore. So we’re getting closer and closer to the idea which I predict will eventually become mainstream, which is that the brain is not only a quantum object but it behaves as a quantum object. We might be 10 years away from that becoming a “thing,” when it does happen, then it will make a very plausible case as to why sometimes we get impressions about things that are distant in space or time, because that’s what nonlocality is all about.

>>Rick: Please elaborate a little bit on the phrase “quantum object,” that could use a little explanation.

>>Dean: QM is a better description of the physical world, in all respects, and from that perspective, when you talk about classical mechanics (from now on: CM), classical physics, that is seen as a special case. So, classical physics is like a little bubble that describes things that are kind of at the human scale, QM is larger in the sense that it can describe everything that you see in CM but a lot more things happening at the scale of the very small, very cold, and so on. It’s a different realm of physical reality, so CM is smaller.

So the neurosciences today assume that the brain is a completely classical object, it’s behaving like a classical object, and one of the consequences of that is that in principle, given our understanding of the brain today, you could create a network of tin cans connected by strings that, in principle, if it was enough tin cans and enough strings connected in a complicated enough way then the tin can network would become conscious! That’s a logical inference based on neuroscience today. So I don’t know too many people who would actually expect that it would become conscious but nevertheless, that is what you can project out of neuroscience today.

>>Rick: Well, except that tin cans and strings are not made of the stuff that neurons are made of and so even if you had the whole earth covered in tin cans and strings, it would still be just a bunch of tin cans and strings, you know? It wouldn’t have all the beautiful chemistry and all the microtubules and all that stuff that neurons have.

>>Dean: Right, but still all of that, everything you just mentioned with the possible exception of microtubules, is classical physics, and so from a classical physics perspective you’re talking about like Tononi’s vision of information: you combine information in certain ways and somehow it gives rise to consciousness.

Well you can do that, you can create an information network with tin cans and strings, in which case if it was complex enough then Tonoi would say – and he’s mainstream in this domain – it should give rise to consciousness, or maybe a less comprehensive version of it would give rise to a little bit less consciousness, so maybe like what a mouse has, but I don’t think that many people would agree that that would happen.

So all they would say then is like you’re saying, you need a more complex biochemical reaction. It’s still classical. So you need to expand out into the realm, and the moment you do expand to the QM you are now looking at a world that is very different: it’s holistic, it’s connected nonlocally, it has all kinds of structures involved with it which are very different than CM.

>>Rick: So when you say that the brain is a quantum object, what you’re saying I think is that the brain is capable of interfacing with the quantum field or a very subtle level of nature’s mechanics and … well I’ll stop right there. Is that correct?

>>Dean: No. A quantum object means that if our best description of physical reality is QM, as it is today, then everything, any object at all, is better described in a quantum sense than as a classical sense.

In many cases though, if you had some kind of an object … so here’s my iPhone. This is a quantum object. It behaves in classical ways, except the electronics actually do require quantum mechanics to work, but the hunk of stuff is better described as quantum mechanical. It would be extremely difficult to describe it that way, but given that it’s our best theory about the way the physical world works, it’s a quantum object.

The question though is: if the brain and body are all quantum objects, does it behave that way? That’s the important question. And so that’s why I brought up the idea of quantum biology, because up until maybe 10 to 15 years ago, the response to the notion that the brain would behave in a quantum way was dismissed because the brain is too hot and too wet and you can’t sustain quantum coherence for very long, and all those arguments, but with the rise of quantum biology we see that actually living systems do sustain QM and it’s even important in some things, like photosynthesis.

So the likelihood then that the brain, which has elements of it working down at the quantum scale – ions and microtubules and that sort of thing – the idea that it is not behaving in some way as a quantum object is no longer tenable. I think it actually does.

And so what I’m building here then is a plausibility case for – in historically speaking – our notion of what we mean by “material” is drastically changed, and it will continue to change, and at some point what we are currently calling “spiritual” and words like that, is going to merge with what we call “physical” because our notions of it have so radically changed over time and will continue to do so.

>>Rick: Good. So we’ll move on in a second, but we could call this pen a quantum object too, I suppose, by the way you’re using the word, and everything’s a quantum object.

>>Dean: Sure … yep.

>>Rick: Which means that the reality of everything in the universe has its quantum mechanical level of functioning, which is not too relevant if we’re actually designing a pen or designing a bridge or something like that; there we [would] want more chemical and Newtonian principles at play, right?

>>Dean: Right.

>>Rick: But when it comes to the brain, the whole notion of QM becomes extremely relevant because of the kinds of things you and I are going to be talking about today … the brain is able to allow or result in.

>>Dean: Right. So I would say that it is probably true that the majority of the brain operates as a classical instrument – if we want to use that term – this is what the neurosciences keep showing us as they get better and better. It shows that the brain is an information processing system, it’s extremely complicated, but the methods that are being used to understand it at this point are classical – showing connectomes, we’re looking at genetic influences, all of that stuff. It works, we’re not going to throw any of that away, the question is: Is that all it is?

And what I’m proposing is: No, it actually does have some quantum elements to it and it could be that those aspects of the physical brain itself – which are no longer particulate-like; they’re more like quantum wave-like and wave-potential – and that a portion of the brain, and the body, which are not located here (pointing to his body), so we’re partially here and we’re partially out there, everywhere, both at the same time.

>>Rick: Yeah, across the universe.

If I were to define the brain as a kind of an interface the way a radio is an interface with the electromagnetic field, but an interface with something deeper than the electromagnetic field, and also an interface with what we might call “the Cloud,” to use a computer term, wherein a lot of our memories and experiences are stored in a nonphysical space of some kind, which would account for remembering past lives, you know, somehow those impressions get carried over from one life to the next, would you be comfortable with that explanation and can you embellish upon it a bit?

>>Dean: Yeah, I would be comfortable with that. The notion that all memory and experience is recorded somewhere, I guess

>>Rick: Maybe not all. Like your computer for instance; you can save a lot of stuff right on the computer but you can also have it backed up to the Cloud or put it on Google Drive or OneDrive or one of those things, so it can be a both-and kind of arrangement.

>>Dean: But then who decides what goes where?

>>Rick: Well that’s a good question. In the case of your computer, you decide whether you want to put it locally or back it up or share it or save it to the Cloud, but in the case of the way our brain functions, maybe there’s some kind of more cosmic mechanics at work that determine what gets stored in a non-physical space and what gets stored in our actual neurons, if that’s what neurons actually do. Of course they can’t find memories and neurons, they don’t know how they’re stored.

>>Dean: Right. You mentioned “cosmic mechanics,” we’re currently at QM. At some point, as we keep advancing our understanding of physicality there will be something maybe called “Cosmic Mechanics,” which will provide a yet greater expansion of our understanding.

We’re still nowhere near there, or maybe we are, it could be right around the corner. So it’s a question I wouldn’t know how to answer at this point, that “could there be the equivalent of an Akashic record or something like that out there that is storing bits and pieces of experience?”

>>Rick: Yeah, and of course there have been people around for thousands of years who would answer that question affirmatively based on their own experience, so it’s not like we’re discovering anything new here, but what you’re trying to do is take this ancient esoteric wisdom and apply scientific principles to it, scientific experimentation and bring it into the public understanding, rather than some obscure esoteric realm.

>>Dean: Right. And in the process of doing that it becomes very limited. I can speculate all day about the Akashic record and how reincarnation works and all that, but I feel much more comfortable talking about things that we can test in the laboratory because then you can kind of grab onto it and sort of shake it.

Whereas for the rest of all the big questions about metaphysics, I don’t have any answer to that other than pure speculation. I mean I’m happy to speculate along with anybody else, but as I said, I feel more comfortable trying to do something with it.

>>Rick: Yeah, good. Alright, the third book, Supernormal.

>>Dean: So, after talking about the physics of this little bit and people still asking then, “Well, I don’t know, maybe it’s QM maybe it isn’t, but how else can we understand these kinds of phenomena?”

So I had to step back, and since I had read a lot about Eastern philosophy and some in Western philosophy, I decided to look at other world views that have dealt with the same kinds of phenomena, because it goes back to Shamanism and then it takes many different forms that we call “esoteric.”

So I decided to tackle the Eastern esoteric traditions first, primarily through the Yoga Sutras because the Yoga Sutras by Patanjali are particularly useful because his book on classical yoga talks specifically about the siddhis – about the special abilities that come about, and there’s a pretty strong overlap then between elementary psychic abilities and the elementary siddhis.

So this is then a book that I thought might appeal to people who are getting into yoga and meditation because that’s becoming something now, and yet many people doing it would perceive yoga in particular as a kind of spiritualized aerobics, that you “stretch for enlightenment,” or something. And so I knew that from a classical perspective the body-side of yoga was important, but that really wasn’t it; it was a lot more than that. So that’s what the motivation for writing that book was.

>>Rick: Yeah, sometimes the stretching bit is what gets people into it initially, and then they begin to wake up to deeper possibilities.

>>Dean: Yeah. What was also interesting to me, and is still true today but to a lesser extent, is the resistance from some religious people who view stretching as the work of the devil. I mean I was just floored with that when I was starting to read about what some of the preachers were saying, “We can’t do yoga in the schools because stretching is the work of the devil!”

>>Rick: Well they see it as a Trojan horse, you know? That first they’re going to show you these nice little yogic stretches but then they’re really going to introduce Hinduism to you once they’ve got you in there.

>>Dean: Right, yeah, no, I understand that argument but it was just this notion of a slippery slope that … really? Touching your toes is opening a door to the devil?

>>Rick: [Laughing] Alrighty!

Okay, so on that note, Real Magic, your most recent book, let’s get into that. How would you define the word ‘magic’ in a nutshell?

>>Dean: It’s not Harry Potter and it’s not Harry Houdini, it’s the other magic. So I define it in the book as an esoteric practice, and the analogy I use is that technology is to the scientific worldview as magic is to the esoteric worldview. It’s an application of your view of reality, so it falls into 3 general classes:

  • There’s Divination, which is perception through space and time – that’s a magical practice. The stereotype is a woman looking at a crystal ball but there are many, many different methods that are considered magical practice.
  • The second category is force of will, which is the application of your intention to change something in the physical world and in a larger sense you can think of it as “destiny engineering.” You want to engineer the destiny that you will have, it’s like fate manipulation, those kinds of terms.
  • And then the third category is theorgy, which is a Greek word that means spirits or spirit-work – communicating with spirits and having them do things on your behalf if you’re lucky, and having them eat you if you’re not so lucky.

>>Rick: [Laughing] Okay, so in other words, ‘magic’ means things that go outside of the conventional worldview – the worldview that scientists would be comfortable in, things that would suggest somehow mechanics of nature that are not conventionally understood, that violate conventional understanding.

>>Dean: And in particular violates a classical worldview. So if your worldview is of classical physics, which is a refinement of common sense, then magic, psychic phenomena, mysticism, all of that make no sense at all. That’s why especially psychologists, academic psychologists anyway, are fond of saying that these kinds of things are literally impossible because it doesn’t fit their understanding of the way the world is stuck together.

But our modern worldview which is mostly classical, not all, but that’s roughly three to 400 years old, and the esoteric worldviews are tens of thousands of years old, so an academic today would look back on that history and say, “Well we’re modern and sophisticated now,” except that we’re just as smart as people were back then. A very different way of being in the world.

And so I think we’re sometimes a little bit too quick to throw things away just because we can’t understand it with our particular worldview. You put on different glasses like an esoteric worldview, and suddenly it all makes sense.

>>Rick: Yeah, I mean I can see how scientists would feel that the scientific age, the scientific method was a much needed corrective to a lot of hocus pocus and strangeness that had predominated prior to the advent of science, you know, all kinds of unusual things and people were being burned at the stake for suggesting that stars might be other suns like our own, with planets around them and things. But, here’s an excerpt from your book.

You say, “Reality viewed through the lens of science is an exceedingly thin slice of the whole shebang. Science is tightly focused on the objective, measureable, physical world. That focus excludes the one and only thing you can ever know for sure: your consciousness, that inner spark of sentience that you call “me”.”

Then you say, “There are rising trends in science suggesting that what was once called magic is poised to evolve into a new scientific discipline.” Go ahead and respond to that and then I have a follow-up question there.

>>Dean: Sometimes people will think that my interest in esoteric ideas and law, lore, is a regression, a regression to a romantic image of what it was like to live 1,000 years ago or so, or more, and I have no desire to go backwards in time. The average age was 35 before vaccines were developed, there was a lot more physical suffering that went on.

>>Rick: Sure. Imagine not having a dentist to go to if your tooth became infected, you know? You could die from it!

>>Dean: Yeah, so I don’t have illusions about a romantic past but I do think that it’s important to not dismiss ideas and concepts that have been around for tens of thousands of years because as Homo sapiens, we haven’t changed that much over that period of time.

So you had a lot of smart people who were doing the equivalent of empiricism back then … they didn’t have that word but they would do things that were pragmatically useful. They didn’t have time generally to philosophize about things. They wanted something that worked, so a lot of what comes out of that is superstition.

There’s almost as much superstition going on today, especially in sports, you see it all the time. If you don’t have your lucky socks, you’re not going to play the game. So we haven’t evolved that far from our ancient past in terms of our daily behavior, but on the other hand, the development of materialism as a way of understanding reality is so successful that it allows us to do interviews like this, and they work pretty good and we could be on other sides of the world and still work just as well.

So we cannot throw away and should not throw away what we have learned, the question is: Is this as much as we can know? And so part of the argument in Real Magic is, no! You can expand materialism in a way that includes other assumptions which maintains all of our textbooks – we don’t throw away any textbooks but we have a new set of assumptions about what’s actually happening.

>>Rick: Yeah. It’s interesting because the fruits of science are so demonstrable and so obvious, I mean you know, your iPhone that you just held up, or sending people to the moon, or this skype conversation, or the YouTube that everybody is watching this on, whereas in your research, for the most part, you’re measuring these little teeny tiny deviations from the norm that are only detectable when you’ve collected a whole lot of data, but, they’re extremely statistically significant.

So I guess people might wonder, “Well, how is this ever going to be anything more than an oddity or an interesting anomaly? How can it have the kind of impact that technology has had?” Go ahead and answer that and I’ll continue.

>>Dean: Right, so somebody could ask the same question about the Large Hadron Collider. Why do we spend ten billion dollars running experiments with trillions upon trillions of collisions and atoms that are breaking apart? Because we’re trying to learn something about the nature of the world that we live in. And so they have huge data sets, they use statistics very heavily, and they’re testing various models and it costs a huge amount of money.

So, what do we get from the Higgs Boson into something I could buy at K-Mart? Well it’s gonna take a while! And we’re so used to having things – new thing is showing up and now you can buy it and have a new toy. No, it takes a long time to go from understanding the structure of reality into something which turns into a toy that you can play with.

The other way of talking about this then is, if somebody had asked Benjamin Franklin who was playing with sparks after flying a kite in an electrical storm, “Why were you even interested in that?” Well I doubt that Franklin had any idea that the world a few hundred years later would be running on gigawatt electrical networks! But you gotta start somewhere.

The third thing in my answer to that is that when we do laboratory experiments, they are like any experiment that is done: it’s an artificial construct. If we’re studying telepathy in the laboratory, it has to be under the conditions that we’re defining so we can exclude frailties and fraud and flaws and all of that, and when you do that you start chopping away the way that the experience manifests in the real world and you squish it into something that you can capture in the laboratory. This is how all experiments work.

So I would say that psychic phenomena as they occur spontaneously to people in the real world can be life-transforming, they’re big! In the laboratory they get squished and it’s an artificial construct where I say, “I want you to be psychic in this way, right now.” For example like a precognition test, “I want you to see this thing that’s going to happen five seconds from now, not 200 years from now and not backwards in time, and not even the present, but this very specific thing.”

Well it’s astonishing then that people can do that! So how are you excluding the entire eternity to just get the thing that’s five seconds in the future? Somehow we can do that. And so what I take from the lab studies – which it’s true that they’re generally pretty small magnitude effects, you need a lot of data, a lot of statistics, and so on – it’s showing us what is real.

And so from the “what is real” into the toy you buy at K-Mart, that could be 100 years. It took 300 years or I don’t know, some number of centuries from Benjamin Franklin to today’s modern networks, but with enough time and effort we get there.

>>Rick: Yeah, I can think of a fourth thing which is that in many respects the world is a mess and you know, humanity’s continuation is not assured, I mean there’s a number of climatologists who feel like we might go extinct in the coming century. And then we have any number of things – we’re in the middle of a pandemic and Fukoshima, they’re trying to decide what to do with all the radioactive water; there’s too much of it and they’re probably going to have to dump it into the ocean, and there’s no way they’re ever gonna put a cap on that thing, and there are hundreds of nuclear power plants around the world that could melt down at the right circumstances.

And you know, I could go on and on and on about all the things that are wrong with the world, and I would suggest, and maybe you would agree with me, that if most of the people in the world or a significant percentage of them had really unfolded their full potential, which means becoming experientially grounded in the ultimate reality of consciousness, that the entire world would be transformed just as much as if not more than the life of an individual is transformed when they have that experience, as yours and my life have been transformed.

So you know, what you’re actually studying here and your trying to limit yourself to the things you can actually measure, could be of the greatest significance if it helps to shift collective understanding of consciousness as being the most important thing one can explore and experience.

>>Dean: Yes. I like that so much. I’m going to have to use that in the future.

>>Rick: [Laughing] Okay!

>>Dean: That’s a very good answer. Yeah, it’s something that if given enough time I might have actually come up with myself, but you stated it very nicely.

>>Rick: Well thank you.

>>Dean: Yeah, yeah. We’re studying the essence of not only who we are but probably the essence of the universe at large, so what else could be more exciting?

>>Rick: Yeah. You know our friend Alex Tsakiris who does the Skeptiko podcast, he often says … he wrote a book called Why Science is Wrong About Just About Everything, or something like that, and I don’t necessarily agree with him. It seems like science is right about a lot of things that it studies, but maybe he meant that in the sense that if things aren’t oriented properly – and I’ll show a chart here that we have.

[Screen displays chart– 6 levels, from the bottom to the top: physics, chemistry, biology, psychology, mind, consciousness]

I’m showing the pyramid with consciousness at the top. If consciousness is understood to be the product of physics then chemistry then biology then psychology then mind, then finally it emerges consciousness, as opposed to this chart

[Screen displays a different chart – 6 levels, from the bottom to the top: consciousness, physics, chemistry, biology, psychology, mind]

… where consciousness is fundamental, then physics, chemistry, biology, blah, blah. If science is wrong about what its actual ultimate foundation is, then perhaps in some sense it is wrong about everything else that it lays its hands on, there’s sort of a misguided orientation where we try to do something to help ourselves and it has all these unintended consequences because we don’t have the full picture.

>>Dean: Yeah, the way I would put it is that from a materialistic worldview everything is made out of matter, it may be energy. That’s a nihilistic worldview, a worldview without any meaning or purpose, everything ultimately is random. What you see then that happens for students in particular who start to absorb that idea, is everything is pointless, there’s no reason for doing anything! Why do I need to study? Why do I need to go to school? Everything is going to fall apart and die, so why do anything? That is the prevailing worldview today, whether it’s discussed in those terms or not.

The alternative worldview, the one where you put consciousness at the bottom, not only is supported by the tens of thousands of years of the esoteric worldview, but it brings meaning and perhaps purpose back into our model of reality. And I think what’s very important about that pyramid thing that I was using as a way of a hierarchy of showing how disciplines stick together, is that each one of the slices of reality that we’ve carved up, you can take physics 101 and chemistry 101, all of these textbooks, they’re completely correct.

There’s nothing wrong with what is said in there but they oftentimes will have an implicit assumption that this really does bubble up out of physics, and that that’s the basis of everything, which is based on nothing! Right? It’s like purely random.

So when by putting this into not quite an idealistic viewpoint but somewhere in that direction where you put consciousness as fundamental, what that says is: materialism is a special case of a way of perceiving reality. It’s a special case which is predicated on the physical world as we understand it right not, but that’s not the whole world! In fact, when you look at the “theories of everything” that are very popular in physics, any “theory of everything” that does not take into account consciousness, is not a “theory of everything;” it’s a theory of a small bit of everything but it’s not portrayed in that way. The reason why it’s often presented as though it understands everything is purely based in materialism as a philosophical concept, but if it excludes consciousness then that can’t be it.

>>Rick: Yeah, that reminds me of another point which is that, you know, knowledge is so voluminous now and [so] as you progress in your study of a particular field you have to specialize more and more precisely because you can’t just learn it all, so you have to sort of zero in on a very specific thing. And so in a sense, the ignorance increases more than the knowledge, you know, the more you know the more you realize how little you know?

But if consciousness is the foundation then we could say that that’s sort of the ultimate repository of all knowledge or home of all knowledge, so if you could capture that in your awareness then we could say that you derived the fulfillment that would be had were you to somehow know everything, without actually having to know everything, which is an impossibility for a human being.

>>Dean: Right, and consciousness may or may not have much to do with knowledge, per se. So consciousness, the way I think of it usually is “the state of being aware, awareness, subjective awareness,” so that may be like a background; it’s a background state on which things reside.

Knowledge is so closely associated with language, with the way our senses work, and so it is emerging. I think it emerges out of this awareness in the same way that elementary particles might emerge. And so it’s not clear to me that it goes all the way down, in other words, that you can reside in this state of pure awareness, with nothing else!

>>Rick: True, and sages like Ramana who have resided in a state of pure awareness, don’t “know” everything in a relative sense, but we could argue that they have achieved the goal of knowing things or the goal of doing anything, which is happiness or fulfillment, to an infinite degree.

>>Dean: So here’s a connection with magic.

>>Rick: Go ahead, yeah.

>>Dean: And it’s also true with the siddhis. If you want to create a siddhi you go into Samadhi, so let’s just imagine that that’s resting in pure awareness, but you have to do something in Samadhi otherwise nothing’s going to happen! So you do samyama [practice] or you do some other practices.

The same thing is true in magic. They call it “gnosis,” it’s the same as Samadhi, and from the state of gnosis you express your will or intention or you merge with the object of which you want to gain knowledge. So if you want to gain knowledge about another person, you become the other person, which you can do from that state, you can’t do it from an ordinary conscious awareness state. That’s where all the magic happens, from the Eastern and Western esoteric traditions, it’s about becoming from a state of everything, emerging into the object of interest, and then you know it.

>>Rick: Yeah, and according to Patanjali, you can know virtually anything. When you are able to function that way you can know, you can understand the language of animals, you can have knowledge of the cosmic regions, you can have some sort of omniscience, and there are all kinds of different possibilities.

He uses a phrase “Ritambhara Prajna,” which means “that level of consciousness or intellect which knows only truth,” so you can sort of really know the ultimate truth of anything that you choose to know.

>>Dean: Yeah, that would be useful for people in the media.

>>Rick: [Laughing] Yeah! Wouldn’t it!

>>Dean: They always have some person or commentators on everything … “Let’s have our guru commentators … what do they say? Is this true or not true?” and then they can tell us.

>>Rick: It would make the job a lot easier at Snopes and Politfact and places like that.

>>Dean: Yeah, yeah.

>>Rick: Okay. A question came in, I think I can ask this without it throwing us off the track. This is Adam from Sweden, he asks: “I have for a long time had the experience that I am Nothing, capital ‘N,’ but I am not really experiencing being everything even though I understand this truth and I’ve had glimpses of it. Any tips on how to experience this oneness instead of just the emptiness?”

>>Dean: I wish I knew how to respond to that, but all I will say is that as in my beginning of meditation and experiencing all kinds of weird things happening, if someone had told me at the time similar to what you just said, or in response to that said, “Oh! That’s interesting. You’ll eventually go through that and then you’ll start experiencing other things,” so I suspect that this is probably true in many cases.

I’ve experienced something like “the void” in my own meditations, where it’s just black and there’s nothing going on. Initially it was quite scary because you feel like you’re dying or something, but you persist and then it turns into something else! So nothingness became nothingness part one, and there’s a whole bunch of other ones.

>>Rick: Yeah, that’s the answer I would have given. I would say, you know, keep on truckin’ – I don’t know if that phrase is familiar in Sweden. But there’s a Sanskrit thing, they call it Shunyavada, which means sort of an orientation or emptiness or nothingness, and that’s kind of one flavor of the ultimate reality, but then there’s also Poornavada, which means ‘fullness.’ And you can sort of get both flavors of it, but I believe that most sages we respect have evolved more into the Poornavada aspect, the fullness aspect.

So you know, if you have an effective spiritual practice, Adam, keep at it and you know, it ain’t over.

>>Dean: No. Part of the beauty of it is that there is no bottom to this, and even if there were a bottom, it’s not clear to me that we could experience it in a way that we could then express, right? All the really deep experiences are ineffable, they can’t be expressed, which suggests that it’s beyond language – we don’t have language that can do a decent job with it yet … that makes it fun!

>>Rick: I forget which sage it was who said, “The bad news is you’re in free fall forever, the good news is there’s no ground,” you’re not going to go splat.

>>Dean: Yeah, that’s good, I like that. Or one of my favorite Ramana Maharshi quotes is [when] somebody asks him, “We can work on our own practice but what about all those other people?!” And his response is, “There are no other people!”

>>Rick: Yeah, what other people? Right.

Anyway, Adam, you could have the attitude that life is … you know, some people make a big fuss about wanting to be done with seeking and some teachers say “give up the search” and all that stuff, and maybe you have reached a point at which you don’t feel like you’re seeking anymore, but I haven’t met anyone yet who has insisted that there has come an end to exploration and adventure and to just deepening into whatever this is; that there seems to be no end to that, and so that’s something that makes life exciting.

>>Dean: Yeah. And it’s very similar in the scientific enterprise. At the edge of the known, as you said before, that the more you study any particular topic, the more you begin to realize how much is left to learn. And after a while you could become paralyzed if you take that too deeply, because you know the right questions to ask and you know that we are not anywhere near smart enough to figure out even how to approach the questions. So fortunately, I like these of puzzles because otherwise I would have given it up a long time ago.

>>Rick: Yeah. Speaking of “paralyzed,” you know what you said a few minutes ago about you go to college and you’re taught that life is meaningless and mechanistic and, you know, just physical reality and the universe is accidental and random and so on. What a discouraging and depressing thing to teach people?

>>Dean: Yeah.

>>Rick: And I hope that anybody who is listening to this and if they feel that way, I hope they look deeper because I never for one second feel that way, although there might have been times when I was a teenager when I did for a bit. But it’s kind of criminal that students are given that orientation by professors. I think you said … there’s some humorous phrase in your book about how that’s a typical perspective of a college sophomore or something.

>>Dean: Yeah, yeah, it is.

>>Rick: People commit suicide with that attitude, you know?

>>Dean: Yes, and so the only alternative we have today, the main alternative is religion, because religion does give answers, and some people will grab onto it really, really hard, because who wants to live a meaningless life?

So I understand then the urge to get pulled into one particular set of beliefs, but I’ve always been of a skeptical mind so I’m not willing to accept something just because it’s written in a book somewhere; I need to have proof. The proof, generally, is my own experience. And so there’s a very close relationship between experience and experiments. An experiment is just a formalized way of having an experience, that’s how I view it.

>>Rick: Yeah. All right. Well, you have a summary of your book at the beginning, chapter by chapter. I thought I would like just read the key sentence of each chapter and let you expound upon it, and I’ll probably have some questions.

For instance, in chapter 2 you say that you were so surprised after it dawned on you that you had been studying magic for 4 decades without realizing it. I guess, what do you mean by that? Because for decades you’ve been studying out of the ordinary stuff – sci-phenomenon and so on – maybe you had never associated it with the word “magic” and the historical use of that word?

>>Dean: It’s partially because I’m not an anthropologist so I haven’t spent a lot of time thinking about magical practices, but it’s also because a fair amount of the time that I’ve spent looking at this has been in the academic world, and in the academic world studying psychic phenomena is already very controversial. And if you add onto that “You’re studying magic? For real?!” That’s an explosive combination.

There’s only a certain amount of golden bullets that you have when you’re in the academic world and you don’t want to spend them all fighting people off with two controversies; one is more than enough.  This is not just my opinion but even among my colleagues who are doing similar kinds of work on sci-phenomena, I think all of them will privately admit that there’s this pretty strong overlap between magical practice and psychic phenomena but we’ve collectively, most of us have agreed we’re not going to mix it.

Because there is a third arm here as well, which is UFOs, which is even more explosive! And so there’s an overlap there, something about some strange thing about consciousness, where UFOs seem to be reactive to observation and all kinds of other things. To pull them all together into one, if you’re an academic is a death wish, and so we avoid those.

>>Rick: Is there some synonym for the word ‘magic’ that you could have used to arouse less of a reaction, or do you have to use that word because that’s the true word that traditionally has been used for a lot of the things that you’re discussing here?

>>Dean: Well, I’m not in the academic world anymore so I decided to use the word that describes exactly what it is. It is an esoteric practice and it is “magic.”

>>Rick: Yeah.

>>Dean: I also figured, if I had used a euphemism, like even within my domain now we use euphemisms like ‘anomalous cognition,’ or ‘predictive anticipatory awareness’ and other terms that are all euphemisms, as ‘remote viewing’ was a euphemism for ‘clairvoyance.’ It’s a way to like get one beat ahead of somebody else’s thought process, so it sounds like, “Uh, that sounds like a science thing,” and you kind of bypass, “Oh, you’re talking about psychic stuff?” Well, so I decided I don’t want to do that anymore, for one thing, I don’t have to answer to anybody and I’m old enough to not want to play that game.

>>Rick: Yeah, I don’t think your editor would have let you title your book Real Predictive Anticipatory Awareness either.

>>Dean: Probably not.

>>Rick: [Laughing] Okay.

And I just want to remind people that the reason this whole discussion is relevant to the whole notion of enlightenment and awakening and so on, which is the main theme of BATGAP, is what Dean is doing and has been doing for a long time now is, and I don’t know how many people there are in the world but you’re one of the main ones who are actually producing data and getting it published, which gives some proof that the materialistic paradigm does really not define the way the universe works, that there’s something deeper going on and that’s what spirituality is all about: that consciousness is fundamental and that’s our true nature, we want to realize that and it will have an impact on the way we function in the world.

So anybody who is actually practicing any sort of “real magic” is demonstrating what I just said, that there’s a deeper mechanics which human beings are able to tap into and which defies the materialistic time.

>>Dean: At the same time, materialism is really, really good.

>>Rick: Yeah, like we said, it builds bridges and it gets us to the moon and …

>>Dean: Yeah, and so we’re talking about a more comprehensive worldview, where materialism is in the middle somewhere.

>>Rick: And like we said, not only should materialism not be threatened by what you’re talking about here, it should be glad because it’s going to be enriched.

>>Dean: Right, yeah. I mean we’re all, especially in science but in philosophy too and even the average person, we would like to have a better understanding of the nature of reality and our role in it. So if it turns out that materialism is a special case of a worldview that is sort of human-centric but the universe is a lot bigger than human, well then I would think that would be of interest to everyone.

>>Rick: Yeah. I was encouraged towards the end of your book, you summarize the momentum that this deeper understanding is gaining and how I think between 1940 and the year 2000 there were only two published studies, but that now there’s been this huge snowball of … go ahead and elaborate on that.

>>Dean: Yeah, that was probably about the consciousness studies as a discipline, so 30 to 40 years ago there might have been some conferences on consciousness, mostly by philosophers interested in the mind-body problem. There would have been maybe something from an Eastern philosophical perspective as well, but obscure, only academics would go to these things and not very much was known about it then, or for the prior 3,000 years.

So from then until now, probably sparked by the psychedelic revolution of the 60s, that started it, but it has continually progressed to the point now where you could have a conference on some aspect of consciousness every week, around the world! And more importantly, there are now centers for consciousness study, you could be an academic and devote your career to aspects of it, mostly in the neurosciences but not exclusively, and that shows that within the academic world, which is of course already a tiny little bubble, but that bubble is nominally trying to push our understanding of who and what we are.

In a broad sense, consciousness is now acceptable as a topic! Even when I went to Princeton in the early 1980s, I mentioned to one of my uncles who knew that I was going there, he said, “Oh, what are you going to study there?” Well, “I’m going to be part of a project that is studying the nature of consciousness.”

He could not understand what I meant! It was this notion that … for many people, consciousness is so close to your face that it’s like a fish trying to understand water; it doesn’t even arise as something that is even studyable. So I had to take a while to figure out how to explain to my uncle what it was that I was doing and I’m not sure I ever succeeded on that.

>>Rick: Hmm, well I mean in a way he has a point, or there is a point, which is that consciousness is not an object, and everything that science studies generally involves the perceiver and the mechanics of perception and then the object of perception, but you can’t do that with consciousness because you are it! You can’t stand apart from yourself to observe yourself.

So what you’re really studying are the sort of artifacts or effects of people using their consciousness in a certain way, or using their subtler aptitudes or abilities in a certain way. I wouldn’t say that you or anyone is studying consciousness itself.

>>Dean: Right. The way we put it is as studying the capacities of consciousness, that’s what we study. And so from those capacities we begin to get a sense, not exactly what awareness is, I mean it’s a little bit like asking, “How is it that an electron has a charge on it?” We don’t know. We have descriptions of it, we kind of know how it works, but we don’t fundamentally know what it is! In fact, in a fundamental sense, anything you ask about, “Why is it this way and not that way?” In most cases we have no idea.

This is part of what happens when … like I consider myself a generalist when it comes to science and scholarship, so I know little bits about lots of different topics. And when you’re able to cram it all into your head to get a picture of what do we think we understand, you realize it is a tiny, tiny slice of what’s actually out there. And a lot of what you can cram into your head is wrong, as we see in the history of science, it’s just flat out wrong!

So I get a little annoyed sometimes with people who are chosen as science spokespeople and on TV, who are asked questions of which they know nothing but they’re put in a position where they have to give an answer so they’ll give some kind of an answer. And the reality is that nobody is an expert in so many things that they can give a viable answer about anything.

So I consider myself an expert in a slice of psy-research and a slice that I’ve spent a lot of time on, but even in that domain, that’s also a gigantic domain to understand. So one of the reasons why I write books is to collect my own thoughts in a sense, collect thoughts about areas that are just beyond where I thought I knew something, then squish it into a book, then I don’t have to think about it anymore.

>>Rick: Yeah, I remember an interview where Sam Harris asked astronomer Neil deGrasse Tyson some question about genetic engineering and Tyson said, “Oh we’ve been doing genetic engineering for thousands of years,” and of course he meant like selective breeding and that kind of thing, but that’s not genetic engineering, that’s not tinkering with the genome or with the DNA. So there’s a good example of what you just said.

And the two of them were also batting back and forth notions about atheism and the insentient and mechanistic nature of the universe, which I thought was ludicrous! I mean here are these super smart guys that everybody respects talking drivel really, I mean if you have a deeper perspective on things.

>>Dean: So what I like to say, what I would like to say for many questions that I get on interviews is, “I don’t know, and I don’t know anybody who knows,” but that doesn’t go over very well after the 15th time you say that so I try to give the best answer that I know at the time, but internally I’m having a center saying, “Oh really? Do you really believe that? And your opinions haven’t changed over time?”

>>Rick: You can say that, I won’t be upset if you say that.

>>Dean: Okay [Laughing].

>>Rick: In fact, it’s good to remind oneself of that because we can sound a little smug about how wise we are with our deeper understanding of consciousness and all that but you know, we’re still very much ….

>>Dean: Was it Newton who described his whole life as being a boy on the shore picking up shells in the face of reality? Yeah, that’s how I feel most of the time.

>>Rick: Yeah, yeah. And Einstein talking about not losing the sense of awe and wonder, when you look out upon the vastness of the universe and contemplate its mysteries and so on. There are many scientists who have been mystics, whether they knew it or not.

>>Dean: Right, yep.

>>Rick: Okay, so the next chapter you entitled “Magical Potpourri: potpourri of magical topics from popular culture to scholarly study of magic, why magic is both terrific and terrifying, the continuing horrors of witch-hunts, and why we can’t help but engage in magical thinking” – you can elaborate on that. Let’s talk about those things.

>>Dean: Well, that chapter could have turned into individual chapters on each one of those topics but it didn’t. I had a limit of 200 pages for the whole thing, Basically trying to describe why people are drawn to concepts of magic, and the easy way to see that is, I think I mentioned in that chapter about the amount of money that is made on fiction in books and television and movies, it’s gigantic!

Harry Potter for example being one of the most purchased books in history, competing with the Bible, and at the same time one of the most banned books in history, so it’s showing that people are attracted to it, sometimes positively and sometimes negatively. And an adult who has, let’s say, lost their child inside, would say that it’s childish, that it’s fantasy and wish fulfillment and all that, of which some of it is, sure.

But then the question is just as with mythology: is mythology just purely fiction or is it trying to tell us something? Well I’m in the camp with Joseph Campbell on this. Mythology is a prescientific way of describing something which is real, so the mythology that we see in comic books and movies and so on, that is telling us something about our actual capacities. Of course it’s embellished because it is fiction, but it’s real at the same time. So I think for an adult to forget that or worse, to deny it, that’s just kind of sad!

>>Rick: Yeah, I think we have a yearning to realize those capacities, to realize those potentials, and that’s why we’re interested in that stuff, perhaps in the way that romance novels are popular, you know, people yearn for the ideal romance and they’re not having one so they read these novels.

So there’s all kinds of unfulfilled things about us and one of them is what you say, just that we realize that life is a lot more magical than a humdrum reality that most of us function in and we want to actualize that.

>>Dean: And so one thing that didn’t make it into that book because we’ve only recently completed it, is a question that comes up sometimes from people who are just viciously skeptical about all these things, they’ve never had such an experience, they don’t know anybody who’s had an experience like this, they then view it as some kind of pathological wish-fulfillment, that sort of thing.

And then there’s the other half of the population, actually more than half, who do have experiences like this, spontaneously, synchronicities, things happen. So a project that we’re been running now, it’s called Psy-genes, we’re looking at the genetic basis for people gravitating towards what I would call “psy-blind” versus people who are “psy-open” – they just have these experiences.

And genetics have come to the point now where fairly subtle aspects of being human are being explained to some degree by your genetic predispositions, including intelligence for example. Two kinds of intelligence – not your IQ but whether you tend towards crystalline intelligence or fluid intelligence. So crystalline is somebody who is really, really good with numbers and specifics, whereas fluid intelligence is more creative. There’s just a direction on a spectrum.

Turns out that there’s constellations of genes, hundreds of them, which make up networks which are pointing in one direction or the other, so that provides a genetic predisposition to float in one direction or the other, the same appears to be true with psychic phenomena. We have identified a genetic sequence in chromosome 7 of the DNA which was the opposite of what we thought originally. We originally thought there’s some special gene that makes people psychic superstars and we’re going to find what that is.

And so we got people who are psychic from psychic families and controls who are not psychic from non-psychic families and did a standard case control study, which is what you do with genetics. So we found this difference between the two, but the difference was that it looks like most people who are “average” – normal, average people – they have capacity for psychic ability, it’s these other people – still a pretty large proportion of the population we think, maybe 40%, we don’t know exactly – who don’t have this particular gene and by not having it, their capacity for having these kinds of experiences is much, much lower than the average person.

So this is kind of backwards because we’re basically saying it looks like everyone can have these experiences except this group of maybe 40% who end up being extremely skeptical because it’s not part of their experience and they don’t know how to make it part of their experience. And so one of the people working with us is a specialist in sociogenetics, which is a discipline I didn’t even know existed until he started working with us, and what it’s about is looking at the genes of a population and how that orients a population towards certain kinds of beliefs and certain predilections.

So he did this analysis and found a very strong correlation between the … and this is a negative correlation. We were originally saying well maybe the Druids – that portion of northern Scotland or Ireland – maybe they have more psychic ability because they have legends about such things. We found the opposite.

We found a place that has a deficit of people with psychic talent, and from a socio-historical perspective it turns out to be Christianity, so we’re thinking this is wholly Roman Empire, plus or minus a couple of countries over time. There’s a deficit of this particular genotype basically.

>>Rick: So you mean the geographic birthplace of Christianity, you don’t mean Christians around the world in general?

>>Dean: No, it’s like the birthplace and then high density is going to be near that birthplace, so we’re talking about probably Italy, Spain, a few countries around there which are still heavily Catholic, there’s a deficit of this gene, of this sequence.

And so in thinking about that we were trying to figure out, to get rid of a gene in a population first of all takes many generations, but also something has to happen, I mean evolution does things because there’s a need. The need could be that the environment changes or could be endless wars, it could be all kinds of things. In this case all we could come up with as a speculation is the Inquisition.

>>Rick: Yeah, I was going to say, the people were persecuted for displaying anything like this, they were accused of witchcraft and so on.

>>Dean: Yeah, so those genes were not passed along.

>>Rick: Interesting.

>>Dean: So that this is the speculation at this point except that the correlation is pretty strong, which was surprising that we found anything, and even more surprising that it’s [strong]. We’ll need to do many more studies to confirm it but as an inkling as to what we can understand or what we can explore from a genetic point of view, I thought it quite interesting.

>>Rick: I wonder if you could take a group of people who didn’t have the psychic gene – whatever you’re calling it – and teach them all to meditate, you know? And I wonder if they really wouldn’t take to it or if they did, if it would begin to change their genetics, which is, as I understand it, a lot more malleable than we once thought … or given psilocybin or something if you don’t want to wait for mediation to kick in. [Laughter].

>>Dean: Right. So it is unlikely that this one particular sequence which is an RNA – it’s not part of DNA, it’s an RNA sequence – so it’s probably involved in the expression of epigenetics. It’s like a switch, you can turn the switch on or off, so people who have that sequence in them, they could switch on and go in that direction, they can become psychic. I think those people will respond to meditation or psychedelics, it’ll open that door.

For people who don’t have the sequence, there may be lots of other sequences that we haven’t found yet that would do something similar to that, we don’t know yet. But the likelihood that there are biomarkers that we weren’t able to detect 30 years ago because we didn’t have the technology yet, I think there are many biomarkers, including regions in the brain, genetics, a whole bunch of other things.

And you’re right, through the practice of meditation the shape of your brain changes, the connectome changes, all sorts of things change as a result and it might actually open a door for somebody who otherwise it’s not part of their experience at all. I do know somebody, just talking to them the other day, who said that for the most of their adult life they were absolutely hardcore materialist. They didn’t believe in any of this stuff, they would never be attracted to meditation. They started taking psychedelics … a complete flip-flop, totally changed from a materialist to an idealist and now is completely open to all of this because they got pushed. And it may be that some people would need to be pushed hard whereas for other like myself, I kind of always knew that all of this stuff was real without knowing how I knew it.

>>Rick: Yeah, I remember Carlos Castaneda’s teacher saying that he needed psychedelics because Carlos was such a dunderhead, but once he had kind of broken through he said don’t do them anymore because this can have a negative effect, but it can definitely give you a kick in the pants.

>>Dean: Yeah, as a good meditation teacher can do too, especially somebody who knows about Shaktipat and can really do it, they can push you as well.

>>Rick: Yeah, a lot of things can do it.

This thing we were talking about a few minutes ago about how there seems to be a snowballing interest in this kind of thing and research that suggests that materialism is being overturned and your kind of research, you know, I wonder if we’re seeing the beginnings of a significant transformation in society?

Because as you know, trace it back to any time this previous century – the 40s to the 50s to the 60s to the 70s – there’s been such a huge change in so many things, social things and technological things and so on, so I wonder if we’re on the cusp of a shift like that in our understanding of consciousness and our experience of it and our facility with the kinds of abilities that you’re discussing here.

>>Dean: I hope so! Whether we are or not is two ways to think about that kind of societal shift. It could be fluid, where it takes generations and slowly moves, or it could be more fractal, where we come to a bifurcation point and then there’s a break.

Well if the climate scientists and other people paying attention to the world are right, and we might have 10 to 20 years before we reach a bifurcation point and it either goes to all completely downhill or something else happens and we have the Arthur C. Clarke book Childhood’s End occur.

>>Rick: What did he say there?

>>Dean: Well, the Childhood’s End was children being born who were very different than their parents and who have a vast array of psychic abilities and are much more intelligent and have kind of a hive mind – all these kinds of things … science fiction.

The Childhood’s End is talking about an evolutionary jump in Homo sapiens. You look at Homo sapiens as a species and we’re still pretty much adolescent, we’re tribal monkeys basically, we’re primates driven. We are all still pretty much hardwired into the kinds of disruptions that we see and so it’s easy to get people to believe things that are flagrantly not true! Well, their genes are pushing them in that direction, to say nothing of their predilections. So that is a very young species.

We have won the evolutionary battle against Neanderthals and a number of other pre-human species, probably because of our aggression. So you take the combination of a young species that’s highly aggressive, somewhat clever and does not like to cooperate very much, and you end up with us! And so if you keep going in that direction and you pay attention to what the scientists are saying who study things like what is happening on the planet, it’s really scary, like we have 10 years! In 10 years it all falls apart. Well nobody wants to hear that so it’s denied and set aside.

But at some point where it really starts to crack, that is the opportunity. Like if enough people make the right choice at that time, everything works out well.

>>Rick: Yeah, I’d like to think, maybe it’s optimism but I’d like to think that the upwelling of consciousness and interest in all these types of things is in direct response to the crisis that is coming down on us, and that hopefully …

>>Dean: It may well be, yes.

>>Rick: Yeah, and that hopefully it will be one of those nick of time kind of things, where enough … which it’s interesting because in a lot of stories like the Lord of the Rings and so on, things just happen in the nick of time, you know? Things just kinda work out … and Frodo manages to get to the pit of fire, and Gollum bites his finger off, and the ring goes in, and that’s it – boom, and things change.

So it’s sort of like nature doesn’t often …well, switching back to the real world but often we don’t get a lot of padding in terms of getting everything neat and tidy and resolved way ahead of time, you know? It’s just sort of nick-of-time.

>>Dean: Yeah, it doesn’t make for good story.

>>Rick: Yeah.

>>Dean: I have friends of mine who are religious scholars, scholars of religion, thinking of Jeff Kripal in particular.

>>Rick: Yeah, I’ve interviewed him.

>>Dean: Yeah! So his notion it that we’re writing our story. It’s almost literally like some aspect of us or a collective mind is writing a narrative and then that narrative becomes us, it’s a two-way street. So you don’t want a story that is just laying everything out in a plotting way, nobody would watch that, so maybe these perils of Pauline episodes are something that we do collectively because it makes, you know, it’s like the spice of life.

>>Rick: Yeah, maybe it is, and if creation is God’s Leela then God is enjoying this play and making it as dramatic as possible, otherwise you get bored.

>>Dean: Yeah, otherwise you get bored! If it’s too predictable then you know, why do I need to watch this?

>>Rick: Yeah. Here’s a question that came in, it might take us in a slightly different direction but we’ve actually been alluding to some of the things in this question. This is from Wesley in Cottage Grove, Oregon, who asks: “Dean, can you talk about UFOs and the context channeling? Are you familiar with the “Law of One,” also called “the Ra Material”? It’s a channeled work channeled by Carla Rueckert in the 1980s, reported to be an E.T. collective consciousness called Ra. Even if you aren’t familiar with that material Dean, can you speak about the possibility of E.T. channeling?”

>>Dean: So I know a little bit about Ra, I’m completely aware of my ignorance about it as well. I’m not a Ra scholar, let’s put it that way. So we have a project on channeling at the institute where I work, and one of the difficulties with it is that most of the information that you get is unverifiable because you’re getting wisdom apparently from extraterrestrial something which sounds like pearls of wisdom said by some something.

But most of the time, in fact the vast majority of the time, you can’t do anything with that! So we have specialized more in the study of mediumship because there you’re getting information that you can verify about a deceased person. And so we know the mediums are quite good, some are very good at what they do and they can get real information, and channeling, it’s much, much more difficult.

So the experimental approach we’re taking for channeling is, if there is in fact an entity which is coming through somebody, let’s ask the entity to go through say four channelers. First go through channel one and then continue your story in channel two and continue it on three and four. And then you can compare what’s being said, you can compare whether or not there was an unbroken thread of thought from what the channels are saying, you can do all kinds of interesting things. You can look at the physiology of the channels as something is coming through them, like before during and after; so we’re thinking about these kinds of tasks.

And it’s not really then “verifying” what the channels say because we have no way of verifying that, but it is trying to get at the notion that some kind of information is coming through, and from an actual entity of some type, an independent entity. So that we can do, but beyond that, I don’t know, I don’t know what else to do at this point.

>>Rick: Yeah, okay. I hadn’t really heard much about the Ra Material at all until I interviewed a young fellow named Aaron Abke who had been a fundamentalist Christian, I think he went to Oral Roberts University and then he eventually cracked out of there and opened himself up to all kinds of possibilities. But this is fascinating stuff in that material, I’d like to become more familiar with it and perhaps interview somebody at some point.

I have a friend who is very conversant with it.

Anyway, let’s skip ahead, unless we’re skipping something you want to say, but let’s skip ahead to the Merlin’s Class Magicians chapter; case studies of some real world people who did stuff that was jaw-dropping and that really hundreds and hundreds of people witnessed. Tell us those stories a little bit.

>>Dean: Well, the reason I wrote that chapter is because it is true that the biggest chapter in that book is all about scientific evidence and it’s talking about experiments that have been done which are addressing part of the magical practices, things like how you use your intention and the role of a-ttention and that sort of thing. And the results are statistically highly significant but they’re pretty small effects.

So you ask the question then: Well does this stuff scale up into the world at large? So the examples they gave, one was St. Joseph and another was D.D. Home, and then a more contemporary guy. St. Joseph is a good case because being a Catholic priest who eventually became a saint, there’s an enormous amount of material that was kept by the Vatican, still at the Vatican, all of the original interviews with witnesses who were describing what he did.

When you start having 100s to 1000s of witnesses, even a long time ago, the people involved in being the devil’s advocate, which were part of the process that somebody would have to go through in order to become a saint, they took their jobs very seriously because you don’t want to accidentally make somebody a saint who wasn’t. So they interviewed lots and lots of laypeople who saw him levitate, royalty – kings, princes, a very wide range of people who saw these kinds of remarkable things.

What he was mainly known for was levitation but he also had other skills, psychic skills, and he was very lucky that he was not caught … he was caught by the Inquisition a number of times but he got out of it. That he got out of it is almost as miraculous as levitation because the kinds of things he was doing was very close to our concept of what magic is about.

So that was still quite a while ago, a more contemporary version is D.D. Home.

>>Rick: Let me just interject here for a second. Christ said, “You know all these marvelous things that I do, you shall do even greater things,” and He explicitly taught that the siddhis that He was performing were not unique to Him and that other people should be capable of them, and so it’s kind of ironic that the Church has given people such a hard time if they began to display such things.

But I think it’s an indication of the deviation from Christ’s essential teaching in which you know, we’re all thought to be sinners at our core, whereas Christ I think taught that we’re all Divine at our core. If you’re a sinner at your core then why should you be able to levitate? It must be the devil or something, but if you’re Divine then you’re just accessing or utilizing deeper laws of nature.

>>Dean: Right, and the other reason is a sociological reason, that if you are the organizer and power of a society, you don’t want anybody challenging that. And so if you have somebody out there as a miracle-man then people will very quickly start following that person and they won’t follow you! So you have two choices: you either kill them or you make them a saint, because if the person is a saint, they’re still within the body of the thing that you are and then it’s okay. If they’re outside that, that is not acceptable. That is a lot of what was going on with the Inquisition. Of course a lot of other people got caught up in the Inquisition for no good reason, but it’s largely a social control program.

I think early on we mentioned about witch hunts today; there are countries in the world where people are still stoned as witches! And again, maybe they have some talent but in many cases they’re just people who somebody else wants to get rid of, which is a pity.

>>Rick: You were about to mention the second guy.

>>Dean: Yeah, D.D. Home. So D.D. Home was in the heyday of spiritualism and in particular physical spiritualism or physical mediumship, where the fun of the day was things like table tipping and table levitation and spirit voices and that sort of thing.

So what’s different about him … as you can imagine there was money to be made by putting on these shows, so there were lots of people who were doing fake shows, mediumship shows, because there weren’t movies and there was no television! So this was something that people would go to just for entertainment and maybe entertainment with a slight thrill to it, because maybe there really were spirits.

So people like Houdini and others spent quite a bit of time tracking down these “fake” mediums who were putting on shows and were completely fraudulent. This overlay then that psychics or mediums are frauds comes to the present day. This is why skeptics will say the whole thing is fraudulent. Well no, there are some people posing as frauds but that doesn’t mean they’re all frauds.

And in particular, D.D Home even as a young man was showing these special talents and he eventually did thousands of shows, of physical mediumship shows with very large tables that were levitated, not in complete darkness but in light, witnessed by all kinds of people, including skeptics of the day and royalty and everybody else and more importantly, by magicians – stage magicians who wanted to know how he did his tricks.

And so after thousands of people watching him over many decades, there was never anybody who figured out how he did it as “a trick,” and of course he said, “This is not a trick. This is for real.” So I mentioned in my book Real Magic that one of the best biographies that I’ve read about this was published by a performing magician who also happens to be a scholar, who wrote his biography about D.D. Home. And he gets to the end of the book and he said, “Well what do I think about this since I’m a magician, a professional stage magician, I know how to do illusions and so on?” and his answer was that he had no idea.

Everything we can look at in terms of the historical record, of which there is quite a bit, says this guy was for real! He was never caught in any kind of fraud. It sounds impossible and yet that’s a Merlin level person. I wish we had the DNA of these people because I suspect it would teach us a lot about why they’re different.

>>Rick: I wish we had some people today who were able to do that kind of thing, like a St. Joseph of Cupertino and so on.

>>Dean: I think we probably do, the difference today though is that there is no Inquisition per se, but if somebody had that ability and decided to go public on YouTube,

  • A: nobody would believe it because we have deeply fake movies and you can’t tell who is what anymore so most people wouldn’t believe it.
  • [And b:] For people who did believe it or maybe they witnessed it firsthand,
    • Some of them would drop it immediately and just deny that they even saw it because it’s too freakish.
    • Others will start following them like Christ, right, that he has the power and they’re gonna want to follow him.

So I think that people who are reasonably intelligent would never go public with these kinds of skills because …

>>Rick: Yeeeeah… although you know, if it weren’t just one guy but if there were dozens of such people, if they could somehow collaborate with each other and say, “Alright, let’s all go down to the mall in Washington D.C., right out in the middle where there’s nothing that could be … no wires could be strung from anything and let’s all levitate 10 feet off the ground and let the media film it.” I don’t know, that would have an impact if it wasn’t just one guy.

>>Dean: It would have more of an impact, it would also put their lives in danger.

>>Rick: Yeah. Why do you say that? I could think of reasons but why do you say that?

>>Dean: Well because the world doesn’t like things that are significantly different. I mean you touch on this in movies like X-Men and other movies, where in order for the magic to work in a safe way it has to be secret, because other people will freak out. There are people who will get so freaked out that they will try to kill the ones who are showing these special abilities.

This is exactly the reason why when the U.S. government had its psychic spying program, portions of it were top secret to protect the individuals involved from other countries and from people in our own country who just find it demonic and would want to get rid of it.

>>Rick: Yeah. You know, in our last interview you and I talked about the TM people who tried to achieve levitation and no one has achieved it, and the explanation within the TM movement was always, “Well, world consciousness isn’t ready for it. When world consciousness is ready then we’ll be able to do it” – it’s kind of what you’re saying here.

>>Dean: It has a slightly different spin on it. It’s true, I think that world consciousness is part of it, it will put a break on certain kinds of things and allow others. We’re talking about “mass consciousness” as kind of an entity that …

>>Rick: Yeah, “collective consciousness” might be a better word.

>>Dean: It can allow things to happen and allow other things not to happen. So that means that there may be people who are doing levitation meditation who find that there’s a break, like they’re being suppressed, in which case when the collective mind says, “Okay, now it’s alright,” well then they can do it, and very few people would be freaked out because now it’s okay. So that’s like an active suppression of it.

At the same time, it may be that there are places around the world where people can do that perfectly fine but it happens to be in an ashram somewhere, where there’s no T.V. cameras.

>>Rick: Yeah, up in the Himalayas or something.

>>Dean: Yeah.

>>Rick: Huh. But there may come a time, it’s kind of like a strength in numbers thing, you know, it’s still a rarity. But there might come a time when … you know how phase transitions work and water can be one degree short of boiling and look kind of normal, and then one more degree and it starts to boil and bubble. So it could be that at some point we might be just that close to a major breakthrough and it’ll happen quite unexpectedly.

>>Dean: Right. So this idea of collective consciousness as a causal mechanism is one of my projects that I’m working on now.

>>Rick: Ah, how so? What are you doing there?

>>Dean: It comes out of this long-term project that started at Princeton called “the Global Consciousness Project”. So we have random numbers of generators around the world and we’ve been tracking world events for a long time now, 23 years, the formal experiment was 500 events. That part of the experiment ended in 2015 when we finally reached the 500th event, and the overall result was a 7-sigma deviation from chance.

That is associated with odds against chance of three trillion to one, so very strong evidence that something about large-scale events in the world attracts people’s attention and that changes the nature of randomness; it becomes more orderly – that’s like a large-scale physical change, but there’s two interpretations of that result.

A 7-sigma result would be considered a discovery, a confident discovery in physics. So here it is not a discovery in physics because we don’t have any explanation for it, but it still has two interpretations. One interpretation is that mass consciousness that becomes coherent literally changes aspects of the physical world because consciousness is fundamental. So when a portion of consciousness becomes highly coherent, the physical world that is emerging out of it is going to behave in a different way; we can detect that with the random number generators. So that’s a causal interaction, and if we could show that, that would be exceptionally important because then it says that we’re creating this, that we’re somehow making the show happen.

But the other interpretation is that somebody has to intervene in doing an experiment, right? Somebody is saying, “Let’s do this at this time … let’s choose this particular event to put into our database.” That then becomes a human-centric description, which doesn’t require causation anymore. This is now somebody’s intuition or somebody’s precognition saying, “I think if we use this event we’ll get a good deviation but if we use that one we shouldn’t, so I’m going to choose this one.” So somebody had to choose 500 events and that goes in the database, and then we get the 7-sigma result!

So we have either a causal, active form of consciousness, or we have one that’s completely passive but could still see things in the psychic way but not doing anything to it. So given that those are the two possibilities, I’m working on a type of analysis which I think is showing that it actually is a causal effect, and it’s interesting partially because even Einstein said that God does not play dice with the universe, meaning it’s not random at the bottom; something is causing these deviations to occur.

And so with this database – 23 years of data – I think we have the capacity now analytically to show that actually consciousness is pushing the physical world around, or even in a stronger way, consciousness is making it emerge!

>>Rick: Incidentally for those listening, in my first interview with Dean we talked about this quite a bit, and taking events such as 9-11 or princess Diana’s death and things like that as examples of things that the whole world’s attention was focused on, which made a big difference in random number generator behavior. Our dog is coughing in the background here.

>>Dean: Poor doggie.

>>Rick: Yeah, she has a lung condition of some kind.

Okay, so was there a third guy? There was D.D. Home, there was St. Joseph…?

>>Dean: Yeah, a guy named Ted Owens. So Ted Owens claimed that he was able to control the weather, was able to pre-cognize effects, and make UFOs show up, all of which he did all of them! He could make a prediction that, “Over San Francisco on this particular time and date I’m going to make a whole bunch of UFOs show up that are going to end up being shown on T.V., within a span of time.” And it happened!

So did he pre-cognize some strange event? Did he make them happen? We don’t know how he did it. He was a strange character as sometimes these folks are, not particularly easy to get along with. But you can kind of imagine that if somebody is linked into the world in some peculiar way and is able to do these things quite strong, they’re first going to end up with skepticism because nobody is going to believe it, and then they’re gonna get angry because nobody is going to believe it and they’re gonna start doing things to demonstrate what they can do.

If you’re unlucky, they can really do it, like I mean there’s one case where he possibly brought down an airliner. Well that’s not good! If you’re luckier then they’re just psychotic and they think they can do it but they really can’t.

So my estimate then is that maybe about one in 10 million or one in a 100 million people have that level of natural skill. These are things that they learned how to do, they just did it. So one in 100 million used to be pretty rare, it’s not so rare when we’re dealing with almost 8 billion people now, that means that there are people out there who very likely have similar skills that we either haven’t heard about yet or, they’re very successful business people or artists or something else and they’re really good at what they do because they have exceptional precognition, they have exceptional insight, they have “exceptional something” that allows them to become very successful and look normal, but they’re not normal.

>>Rick: Yeah, sometimes the best basketball players almost look like they’re levitating, you know?

>>Dean: Yeah!

>>Rick: Michael Jordan, he used to sort of do this thing where he would go towards the basket and it would seem like he went up even more without even touching the ground and then, yeah, but who knows?

Well then what you said about that Ted Owens guy brings up an interesting point which is that we can’t just assume that the emergence of these kinds of abilities means you’re going to use them for good, which of course is depicted in all of the science fiction movies, there’s Darth Vader and people like that.

So when I’m saying that oh, if consciousness were just enlivened and awakened the whole world would be transformed and all of our problems would go away, I guess you really have to consider whether the enlivenment of consciousness to a significant degree among billions of people would result in some of those people actually becoming more powerfully evil…

>>Dean: Yeah. Part of what I talk about in one of the last chapters in the book is what would happen if we figured out a way – one way or the other – to suddenly become super-psychic, what would happen? And it would be a disaster! It would be a complete disaster because if egos are not in check you will end up with a whole planet full of Darth Vaders.

Because we’re talking about something which is essentially kind of power and power-seductive, and some people will go to the dark side and some people won’t. And there’s probably continual seductive pressure to use it for what a magician would call “black magic,” which is interfering with somebody else’s freewill.

And so I think that that’s another reason why we need to be a more advanced species, a more mature species, to be able to handle this level of power without ending up destroying ourselves. And to make it very pragmatic, think if you’re driving on the highway and somebody cuts you off and you have to work quickly to avoid an accident or something. You’re angry, even a long-term meditator is going to be angry for a moment, well if you have the ability to do things, that anger, that whim for a short period of time can act as blowing up the car! Well that would not be good.

>>Rick: Yeah! There are stories like that in the Vedic literature. There was one story for instance where this sage was deep in Samadhi, some king comes up and asks him a question and he doesn’t respond so the king thinks he’s being rude and insulting him, so there happens to be a dead snake lying nearby and the king picks it up and drapes it around his shoulders.

And then after a while the sage’s son comes home and he’s a great yogi and he’s developed all this power, and he sees this insult that has been inflicted upon his father and he said, “Whoever did this will die of a snake bit in a week.” And once he said it – and there’s so many stories like this, that once someone like that has said such a thing, whatever they speak is truth, it has to happen.

And so his father was horrified when he realized his son had said this and so the word gets back to the king and the king believes it and he said, “I shouldn’t have insulted that sage. I deserve to die in a week. Let me make the best use of my time over the next week.” So Shukadeva came along and narrated the Srimad-bhagavatam to him and got him enlightened by the end of the week and then he got bit by a snake and died.

But anyway, there are a lot of stories like that where a sage with a certain level of Shakti or power, whatever he speaks or says will become true and there are many instances where they curse somebody and then they regret it a second later.

>>Dean: Yeah, yeah, imagine if 2 billion people on Earth who had that ability?

>>Rick: Road-rage would take on a whole new meaning, wouldn’t it?

>>Dean: Yeah, and if they didn’t go through the first what, 3 or 4 stages of classical yoga to get their egos in check and ethics and so on?

>>Rick: Yeah, the yamas and niyamas and all that.

>>Dean: Yeah … yep!

>>Rick: Well that’s an interesting point, and perhaps that’s why we don’t generally see these abilities to any great degree, and in most of us and in most people that perhaps they will emerge spontaneously and naturally when we have achieved the requisite level of maturity in every sense of that word – spiritual and emotional and ethical and so on, but it’s for our own good that they are not emerging when we’re still relatively stunted.

>>Dean: Yeah, but that said, my estimate is that 0.5% of the population is naturally talented in these domains. They may be practicing psychics, I suspect most of them are not, but they have the capacity at least to be highly successful at what they do, and some will end up in psychiatric institutions because they’re diagnosed as being schizophrenic or something.

>>Rick: And some of them may end up like Elon Musk or somebody who … well, I don’t know about him, but these visionaries like Steve Jobs or whoever, who just have this “intuition” to go this way or go that way, and it ends up transforming the culture because of their insights.

>>Dean: Yeah, yeah. People who are highly successful in entertainment or business, some of them, in fact, one time I gave a talk at the Naval War College and there were a couple of submariners, commanders of submarines in the audience. And originally, before talking to military audiences, I didn’t think that they were going to be very open to the kinds of things I was talking about, but it turns out they’re extremely open to it because they would not be in the positions that they have gotten to without really exceptional intuition.

The submariners were telling me stories that happened when they were submerged, about psychic connections with people at home which they were really able to verify later. So yeah, they’re using some natural ability that the average person may not have but as you can see, it would be quite useful for somebody in a submarine.

>>Rick: Yeah, yeah, interesting. Alright, so we’ve covered quite a bit.

Your Chapter 9 in the book is entitled … well, there’s also Chapter 8 which we haven’t really covered. Maybe we could just take a few minutes on that: “The Metaphysical Foundations of Science,” then “The knowledge hierarchies that science uses to carve up reality into separate disciplines … why all of this leads to a new worldview that’s consistent with both science and magic.”

>>Dean: Right. So what I’m referring to there is thought leaders in physics and the neurosciences today who are trying to come up with comprehensive models for the nature of reality. And you can see this in the books that they write and the articles that are being produced, you see a couple of themes.

One of the themes is that the universe is not made up of matter and energy, it’s made up out of information, whether it’s classical information or quantum information or something like that. Well that’s one step closer to an esoteric idea which is that the universe is made up of symbols. Symbols are information.

So this is beginning to sound much more like a form of consciousness then it is like a grand machine – the universe as a grand thought not a grand machine, and this is the leading edge now in mainstream science.

Even within mainstream neuroscience you find people like Christoph Koch is one of the leaders, thought leaders in neuroscience, and he’s already saying that he thinks consciousness if fundamental, that you can’t derive it from anything else.

So when you look at the landscape at the edge of what is known, what I’m seeing anyway is a movement towards what I would see as an esoteric worldview except it’s coming with new tools and language. So it’s like taking stories that somebody came up with and saying, “Oh! You know what? The narrative is correct but we now understand it at a pretty deep level, in a way that they didn’t know, they didn’t have the mathematics and the other instruments, but the narrative was right.”

So that’s what I meant by saying that there’s something like a synthesis happening even though the language hasn’t intertwined yet because you don’t want to be a professional physicist and be saying that what you’re doing is magic, that wouldn’t work too well. Nevertheless, you look at the equations that people use and even mathematics after all is a symbolic language.

So something about the symbolic language that the brain presumably came up with – but probably more than the brain – a symbolic language that describes the way the physical world works to an exquisitely good degree. I forget now but it’s either like 12 to 14 decimal places in terms of describing how precise you can make a prediction based on QM.

QM is not the end of physics, it’s the beginning of physics! So at some point we will have obscure equations that you need a lifetime to know what they mean, that actually describe the nature of the physical world and allow you to predict how to make it different.

So you know, you step back from science and you step back from the mythology and the esoteric lore and at least what I’m seeing, this is how I expressed it in the book was that they’re going in the same direction. This is a convergence, it’s not a divergence. That’s why when sometimes people will say, “Well why would you be interested in this old ancient superstitious stuff? That sounds like a regression to the past.” No, it’s taking ideas from the past and combining it with ideas from the present and seeing that they’re actually a lot closer than most people think.

>>Rick: Yeah. That might be a good conclusion right there. I was going to say, you know, what could you say as a conclusion for the nonscientific listener since most of us aren’t scientists? But you kind of just said it, I mean the implications for all of us, we don’t have to be scientists to be benefit from the practicalities of what you’re studying.

Maybe you can just utter another sentence or two just to wrap it up, but along the lines of what I’m bumblingly trying to say here.

>>Dean: I think you said it earlier in a way that I wanted to borrow, which was that the reason why you would do science in the domain of consciousness is to figure out who and what we are, and to test whether the idea that we live in a nihilistic universe is correct. So if there is any evidence that we’re not living in a random universe that’s completely pointless and you can get there rationally, without having to dive into religion; that would help everyone because it would change the way that we behave.

In a nihilistic universe the winner is the one who ends up with the most toys and that’s it, like that’s the end of that story, there’s nothing else there! So in that case even virtue is not its own reward, there’s no reward in this. If it turns out though that we live in a universe that is purposeful or even one where consciousness plays an active role or anything like that, that’s a very different story that we start telling.

>>Rick: Yeah, and that’s not just theory, I mean there are plenty of people who have matured to a great degree spiritually who never for a second regard the universe as nihilistic or accidental or meaningless or anything else. Their whole life is just overflowing with meaning and significance and fulfillment all the time; that’s the hope for every human being.

>>Dean: Yeah, it’s like the essence of every mystical experience, the person comes back and tries to express the ineffable in millions of words, and he can’t do it, but that’s the same story again. You get a sense that the universe is a living thing that does have purpose and meaning, and we are tiny, tiny, little reflection of that, except that we can be hypnotized into thinking that we’re just machines made out of meat.

>>Rick: Yeeeah. We in our individual expression are tiny little reflections, we in our true nature are actually the totality.

>>Dean: Well that’s why I was talking about the quantum brain. You see, the quantum brain even as a metaphor, there’s a physical object in there, it’s acting in a particulate way, but it also has wave-like characteristics, potentials that spread out throughout all space and time, and I think we are both of those.

So this is somewhere between a metaphor and an analogy and maybe even literal? And I think that we’re moving away from the story of it and actually towards a literal way of thinking about it

>>Rick: Good. That’s a good stopping point.

Alright, well thanks Dean. Really appreciate talking to you again. I always enjoy hearing your talks at the SAND conference and these conversations have been great, reading your books has been a lot of fun. So thanks for taking the time to have this conversation.

>>Dean: Okay, and I’ll see you on Facebook and all those people will be piling on you.

>>Rick: Ha! I don’t mind, let ‘em pile.

So thanks to those who have been listening or watching and we will see you for the next one. Please go to and explore the menus and you might want to sign up for some things like the email or the audio podcast or whatever.

So, thanks a lot.

>>Dean: Okay. Bye.

>>Rick: Bye Dean.