Rick Archer: Welcome to Buddha at the Gas Pump. My name is Rick Archer. Buddha at the Gas Pump is an ongoing series of interviews with spiritually awakening people or people who are experts in various topics pertaining to spirituality. I’ve done hundreds of these programs now. And if this is new to you, and you’d like to check out previous ones, go to batgap.com, b-a-t g-a-p, and check under the past interviews menu. This program is made possible by the support of appreciative listeners and viewers. So if you appreciate it, and would like to support it in any amount, there’s a PayPal button on every page of the site. My guest today is Mark Gober. I met Mark last October at the Science and Nonduality conference, I was excited to see the title of the presentation he was going to give: An End to Upside Down Thinking: Dispelling the Myth That the Brain Produces Consciousness and the Implications for Everyday Life, which is also the title of his book. And so I attended his presentation and enjoyed it, talked to him afterward, and we made arrangements to do this interview, which we’re now going to do. I was thinking about the interview, and I’d like to just read a little something I wrote, I don’t want to pretend that I’m saying this extemporaneously, but something I’d like to just read out as a preface to our discussion. Our understanding of how the world works has a major impact on how we influence it. If we still thought the earth was the center of the solar system, we wouldn’t have gotten to the moon, we wouldn’t have satellites, modern communications, etc. If we still thought the Earth was flat, we wouldn’t be able to navigate the oceans. If we didn’t believe germs existed because we can’t see them, we wouldn’t have modern hygiene and medicine. In each of these examples and many more, those entrenched in the existing paradigm resisted the introduction of new knowledge. People were ridiculed, tortured, and killed for espousing it. Church authorities threatened to put Galileo on the rack if he didn’t recant his assertion that the Earth orbited the Sun, and they refused to look through his telescope. Mark argues in his book and, as we’ll be discussing, and he’s in agreement with many time-honored spiritual traditions, as well as many leading physicists, that consciousness is fundamental to the universe. This view contradicts the predominant materialistic scientific paradigm, predominant today. Since modern science and the technologies it spawns are the predominant influence in our world, if science is wrong, about what consciousness is, and how it fits into the scheme of things, how has this error impacted our world? And how might the world change if science correctly understands consciousness? So that’s the bit that I wrote. Now, I just want to read a little quote from Mark’s book, which answers the question I just asked: How might the world change if science correctly understands consciousness? And here it is. This is Mark writing: “I view the belief that we are finite and separate to be the disease underlying virtually every problem in human society today. Anxiety, depression, interpersonal problems, racial and social prejudices, gender inequality, geopolitical unrest, violence, war, greed, or nearly every problem you can think of, at their core, are symptoms, not the disease. The world’s problems are caused at the most fundamental level by the pervasive underlying assumption that we are all finite, limited, and separate. And that stems from the materialist belief that consciousness comes from the brain. So here we go. Thanks, Mark. And hello.
Mark Gober: Hi, Rick. Thanks for having me.
Rick Archer: Yeah. You’re welcome. I’ve been looking forward to this interview for a long time. I read your book back in December because I was eager to read it. And I think we’re both, and hopefully, our audience, are really going to enjoy this conversation. So before we really get into it, just tell us a little bit about your background.
Mark Gober: Sure, my background on the surface doesn’t have much to do with consciousness. I work in the business world. I’m a partner at a firm called Sherpa Technology Group in Silicon Valley, and we advise businesses on their technology, business, and intellectual property strategy. Prior to that, I worked in investment banking with UBS in New York.
Rick Archer: Union Bank of Switzerland, is that what that is: UBS?
Mark Gober: It was originally, that was the name and then it became UBS. I was there from 2008 to 2010. So it was during the financial crisis. My first day was in July of 2008. And it was right before everything really got bad. And I was actually in the group that was responsible for advising financial institutions. So my clients were banks and insurance companies and asset managers. I got to see a lot of that world up close and personal. Prior to investment banking, I was a student at Princeton University. I was a captain of the tennis team there. So my focus in college—I was very focused on sports because it was a division one program. And that kept me very busy. I ended up studying psychology and focusing on behavioral economics. So I wrote my thesis on Daniel Kahneman’s Nobel Prize-winning Prospect Theory, which was about how people make decisions under risk. And he wrote a book called Thinking Fast and Slow, which summarizes a lot of what I studied in undergrad.
Rick Archer: Okay. And so you probably weren’t thinking much about the things that you described in your book. So how did you shift from your primary focus of finance and so on, to writing this book?
Mark Gober: Well, now, in hindsight, I think I’ve had interests in big existential questions for a long time. And in college, I almost decided to major in astrophysics, because I took a few intro courses and thought it was fascinating. And I wanted to understand our place in this big universe. But because of the tennis commitments, I wasn’t able to do it. So I think the interests were always there. The topic of consciousness, though, didn’t really enter. It wasn’t a big deal for me until around August of 2016 when I heard a podcast, and it was a show called Extreme Health Radio, I wasn’t listening to learn about consciousness, per se, I was just learning about health. And I heard a woman on that show who talked about psychic abilities and her ability to communicate with nonphysical entities. And these were things that I had just never heard of. And at the end of that interview, the woman, whose name is Laura Powers, talked about her own podcast called Healing Powers, where she interviews other people that have had similar experiences. So I decided to listen to that podcast just because I thought it was cool. And on my drive from San Francisco to our office, which is down in the peninsula, where there can be lots of traffic—I had a lot of time to listen to podcasts in the car, I ended up listening to all of the episodes of that podcast from 2016, all the way back to 2011 over the course of a few weeks. And at that point, after having listened to so many different interviews, I was confronted with a problem because now I had a lot of independent accounts of things that I couldn’t explain at all, with my worldview, which was a very conventional materialistic one. And here I was being presented with evidence that contradicted it. So I became very curious. And I started to do research. And as I researched more and more, looked at the science, and also worked with people that have these abilities, as well, and what they were able to do confirmed what the research was showing, it really rocked me. It was an extremely disorienting period of a few months in late 2016, where I had to shift my worldview. And all I wanted to do at that point was to learn as much as I could because I wanted to understand the reality that I’m in. The way I think about the world is: how we derive meaning is ultimately based on our perception of reality, and of who and what we think we are. So that’s all I wanted to do. And I spent about a year just researching nonstop outside the office, pretty obsessively, books all over my apartment in San Francisco. And after telling a few friends about what I was researching, because at first in the communities that I’m in, these are totally foreign concepts, and to talk about psychic abilities and life after death—I mean, people would just stare at me at first. But as I started to tell people about the research that I was doing, and that there was credible stuff out there, I got very positive reactions from people. And in fact, some people said that their lives were shifting in a positive direction as a result of our conversations. So I think the combination of that feedback with my intense passion for the material led me to say, why don’t I try to put this down on paper? And at first, I said that to myself. And then I said, “No, I’m not going to do that. It’s going to take forever. I have to cite all the sources if I want to do this right. I work in finance, I’m not going to do that.” And then I actually had dinner with a few friends one night, and they suggested: “Hey, Mark, why don’t you try it.” So I took the Fourth of July weekend in 2017, which was a long weekend, and ended up getting a good chunk of the book done that weekend, which then motivated me to finish the draft that month. And now here we are.
Rick Archer: Here we are. Explain for a minute—I can explain this, but I’m sure you can explain it better—What is the paradigm, and what is a paradigm shift?
Mark Gober: A paradigm is a prevailing way of thinking about things and a shift is a new way of thinking about that fundamental idea. What’s interesting to me about this consciousness-related paradigm is that we’re talking about a paradigm that underlies other paradigms. You were alluding to this in your introduction, the way we view reality will inform the way we act towards each other, the way we do science, the way we do medicine, the way we study things. So what we’re talking about here in this conversation, and what my book discusses, is a paradigm in terms of how we view reality: What is our basic worldview?
Rick Archer: And there’s a great book called The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas Kuhn, I’m sure you’ve read that, in which he talks about the process of paradigm shift. And again and again, history shows that there’s always a reluctance by those who are entrenched in the existing paradigm to shift out of it. They have vested interests. And they give anybody who’s proposing a new paradigm a really hard time generally. And yet if a paradigm is going to shift, it does so because there’s more and more and more evidence, challenging and refuting the existing paradigm, it really begins to get shaky, and eventually, a shift takes place. And then that becomes the new paradigm. Right? Is that a fair summary of that?
Mark Gober: Yeah, I think that’s what we’ve seen historically. And I wonder if we’re at that point with regard to consciousness and reality.
Rick Archer: One thing I was thinking about in your case is was there something about the work you do in the financial world is something that made you more flexible and open-minded? Or if it’s just your nature, I mean, you just happen to sort of have a more inquisitive mind or something?
Mark Gober: That’s a great question. I think it’s probably both, that I’ve tended to always ask questions and just be open to things because I know that I don’t know that much. And therefore I should be open to new possibilities. My whole life has shown me that just based on how much I’ve learned, it shows that at a certain point in time, there was a lot that I didn’t know. But professionally, it’s interesting you ask that. I work a lot with intellectual property and help companies license their intellectual property, patent assets, or acquire or work on their business strategy around those assets. And a patent, by definition, is a new invention that is something novel and non-obvious relative to what’s known as the prior art (what was done at the time). So every single patent is looking at a paradigm and doing something above it. So I think in some ways, I’ve been trained to look at paradigm shifts. And because I work with so many inventors and inventive companies, I may be a bit more acclimated to that.
Rick Archer: That’s interesting. And you know, the real innovators in science and other fields have always been those who have thought outside the box. They weren’t so constrained by the existing paradigm, they were kind of renegades in a way. I mean a lot of people look at what Einstein came up with, as he was working in a patent office, actually. And they think, wow, where did he get? That was just like, so, so totally unexpected. But he had the sort of broadness of vision to come up with something radically new.
Mark Gober: That’s a great point, I noticed that a lot with inventors we work with. Some of the best inventors are looking at things from a different perspective. And sometimes they’ll come from outside of the field that they’re working in because they had a different background. And they’re using maybe a cleaner slate to look at an old problem. And they come up with a novel solution that is sometimes so simple, that the status quo, those who are entrenched in that belief system, will resist it. And in the patent world that manifests itself through litigation, where someone gets sued for patent infringement. And there’s resistance because there’s an argument over who invented it first, and whether that was actually a novel idea. So it is something that I see all the time.
Rick Archer: Yeah. I wonder if the resistance to paradigm change has something to do with human psychology, which you also studied at Princeton for a bit. I wonder if it’s a kind of a fear thing that one feels that one’s existence is threatened. One derives some sort of security by being in a world that makes sense, and if something begins to shake that world, you feel personally threatened?
Mark Gober: Yeah, I can say that, from personal experience. This was a threatening experience for me to challenge my worldview and realize that what I thought to be true was not correct, or that it was just partially correct. And you reminded me of a quote from an interview that I did recently for my forthcoming podcast, doesn’t have a name yet, but it will be released in 2019, at some point. I interviewed Brenda Dunn, who co-ran the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research Lab with Dr. Robert Jahn, who was the former Dean of Engineering. They were studying anomalies of consciousness. And Brenda and I were talking about anomalies.
Rick Archer: Define the word “anomaly.”
Mark Gober: So anomaly means something that doesn’t fit the mainstream paradigm. So if we think the world works a certain way, an anomaly is a finding that doesn’t fit with that. And there’s been a tendency throughout history sometimes to just sweep those under the rug because they’re not convenient to a modern theory. And before I give the example about Brenda, I’ll give a historical example of this, around 1900, Lord Kelvin, who was one of the major authorities in science globally, said that basically all of science had been figured out except for two clouds. These were two anomalies in science that were just small things they couldn’t figure out, that didn’t match the conventional theory. Once those anomalies were solved, those little things, those two clouds, turned into relativity theory and quantum physics, which are two of the most revolutionary theories and all of physics. I think paying attention to anomalies is important. And the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research Lab, which again, was run by the former Dean of Engineering there, is significant to me because I have great respect for that engineering department. They were looking at anomalies of consciousness, which I’m sure we’ll get into. What was fascinating to me was to hear Brenda Dunne’s recollection of the resistance that she faced, which is similar to what I’ve heard from many scientists. What she told me that scientists would say to her in private is, “Brenda, do you realize that if the things you’re doing are real, then that would mean that everything that I’ve been doing in my career…that’s all wrong?”
Rick Archer: Yeah. Right, dude. Sorry to break the news to you. But yeah. This whole topic, for some reason just fascinates me. I’ve been interested in it for years. I mean, another obvious anomaly is the astronomical one where it was thought that the earth was the center of the solar system. And with that, being the prevailing understanding the movements of the planets made no sense. They kind of would stop and go backward and in little loops, and all kinds of things. And I don’t know how those were brushed under the rug for as long as they were, but when we finally shifted to the understanding that the Sun is the center, then all of a sudden, we have these beautiful ellipses, and everything kind of mathematically worked out properly.
Mark Gober: And we have something going on in physics where there are incompatibilities where it doesn’t fit, just like that. And the biggest one that people talk about is relativity theory and quantum physics, which I just mentioned. These are two of the biggest, most important theories for understanding the physical reality that we’re in. And yet they are incompatible when you apply them together. So physicists and philosophers even, people are trying to come up with a unified theory to be able to work with these theories that seem to work independently. But when you put them together, something is off. And now that I’ve done the research that I’ve done, I am very curious as to whether consciousness is something that needs to enter all of our paradigms.
Rick Archer: Yeah, in the last couple of days, you and I both watched a video by Dr. John Hagelin, positing whether consciousness is the unified field and vice versa. And one of the things I think he pointed out in that video is that resolution or unification tends to take place at more fundamental levels. So for instance, we have the four fundamental forces: strong, weak, gravity, and electromagnetism. And going more fundamentally, a couple of those—I guess it’s the weak and electromagnetic—get unified into one fundamental field or force. And physicists have been striving to go even deeper and unite them all into a grand unified theory which Einstein devoted most of his life to after his initial breakthroughs.
Mark Gober: Yeah, it’s a big one for physicists, and it still amazes me to think that we don’t have a unified theory to explain existence and physical reality we’re in. So it’s great to see videos like that, where people are trying to integrate many of the findings of consciousness with mystical traditions to come up with a unified theory of everything.
Rick Archer: Yeah. And as you may know, Max Planck and a bunch of the early physicists, actually were students of Vedic wisdom, and often would quote from it and so on. There’s a quote from Max Planck that I’ll put up on the screen here, you won’t be able to see it, but the audience can, he said, “I regard consciousness as fundamental. I regard matter as derivative from consciousness. We cannot get behind consciousness. Everything that we talk about, everything that we regard as existing, postulates consciousness.”
Mark Gober: Yeah, that one, when I talk to people about this topic, it really shocks people when they hear names like Max Planck, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist, and this was in 1931, that he said. That statement really summarizes the thesis of my book and what many other people are saying, which is that the conventional view known as materialism, which says that the universe is fundamentally made of physical stuff that we call matter—is incorrect. When I say matter, I mean, my table here is made out of atoms of matter, physical stuff. That’s the basis of the universe that formed in this Big Bang 13.8 billion years ago. Lots of atoms of matter everywhere, and then all of a sudden because you have a big universe, you have pieces of matter that start to interact with each other, randomness and chance tell us that will eventually happen. And that’s called chemistry. So we started with matter, then we got chemistry. And then with enough random chemical reactions in a very large universe, chance says that we’ll end up with a molecule that can replicate itself. And that’s like DNA. So DNA leads to the evolution of a human species, which develops the brain, and then we develop consciousness. And so that’s the conventional view, matter creates consciousness. And here Max Planck is saying, “No, I regard consciousness as fundamental. I regard matter as derivative from consciousness.”
Rick Archer: I want to unpack several of the points you just made. But before we do that, since you mentioned randomness, here’s a quote from Fred Hoyle, the astronomer he said, “the chance that higher life forms might have emerged in this way from randomness is comparable with the chance that a tornado sweeping through a junkyard might assemble a Boeing 747 from the materials they’re in.” You’ve probably heard that.
Mark Gober: It’s a great one.
Rick Archer: Yeah, I’m biased, because I’ve been in the “consciousness is fundamental” paradigm for 50 years or more—but it seems to me that any high school kid these days, knows that matter isn’t really material. I mean, you learn in high school that that which appears solid is really mostly empty space, and even the little bits that are supposedly material are just vibrating strings if you go even deeper. So it’s funny that, since that’s such common knowledge to any reasonably educated person, the notion that solid matter actually exists and is the foundation of everything is still so predominant.
Mark Gober: It is and I think about that often. I wonder why that’s the case, because like you say it’s a basic part of our education to learn that atoms are 99.99999%, empty space. So as we look around our collective rooms right now, or wherever we are, all of that stuff that is allegedly matter is mostly empty. And separately, we know from quantum physics, that—it’s known as the observer effect—when you look at something it behaves differently than when you’re not looking. And that’s an oversimplification. But that’s basically what happens. So matter (or what we’re calling matter)— when you’re not looking at it, it behaves like a wave of probabilities, it’s maybe here, maybe there. It doesn’t have a definite location. So this stuff that we are all seeing that we consider to be matter, because that’s what our eyes show us, it’s mostly empty, and it’s not even solid unless we’re looking at it. So it takes a few intellectual steps. And I think that might be the difficulty: that our common sense, our perceptual systems, like our eyes, our ears, our nose, our mouth our skin, everything, those sensory organs show us a world, which we then interpret as being a certain way. We have to almost undo that interpretation. And those extra steps I think, can be difficult.
Rick Archer: Yeah. And obviously, you have to respect what appears to be matter as matter. You don’t go stepping in front of buses thinking that they’re just gonna pass right through you or something, even though there’s actually a finite statistical probability that they might, but you don’t take that chance because the odds are not in your favor.
Mark Gober: Yeah, that’s right. We do live in a world that is apparently material, and there are material laws. So it is practical to view things as being solid. The thing is though when we’re looking at a picture of reality, we can’t use approximations, we need to look at an exact picture. Whereas what our eyes show us, we know that is just an approximation. Using traditional physics, the electromagnetic spectrum, which is the spectrum of all types of light, we know that visible light is just a tiny, tiny fraction of all kinds of light. And that would include things like infrared or X-rays, those are types of light that we can’t even see with our eyes. So we just have to remember sometimes to stop for a second and say, “Wait, our eyes are just showing us a small sliver of reality.”
Rick Archer: Sure. I mean, every time you use a cell phone, you’re actually employing the electromagnetic field, the same field that enables you to see the cell phone, you’re just accessing or using different frequencies of it.
Mark Gober: Exactly. And we know that they’re there because our phones work. So we know that there are invisible things acting that we use on a day-to-day basis.
Rick Archer: So okay, so there’s a number of threads we want to tie up here and go more deeply into. One is… There’s a whole lot of things in your book that we’re going to get into that attempt to illustrate or demonstrate that there’s something subtler than the material world that we perceive and that there are all kinds of phenomena that take place by virtue of that something. Such as telepathy or remote viewing, or dogs that know when their owners are coming home or all kinds of things like that. So I guess let’s probe into that a little bit. And there’ll be some little side channels that we’ll go off on as we do that. But the reason that I thought of that question is that when we started talking about electromagnetism, I thought, “well, what are some of the devil’s advocate people say to you?” Maybe they say, “Well maybe that it’s the electromagnetic field that we’re somehow accessing, as transmitter-receivers, and that would account for telepathy. And we don’t have to jump to the conclusion that consciousness is fundamental, it could still be produced by the brain, and yet somehow the brain is able to tune into electromagnetic fields and thereby do these anomalous things.”
Mark Gober: I have heard arguments like that. And for me, what’s most persuasive is the accumulation of these anomalies, these things that don’t make sense under the conventional view—The accumulation of anomalies in independent areas, which all point in the direction of the primacy of consciousness. So it’s not that one thing on its own convinces me for sure. And I’m not sure this is something that can ever be proven beyond subjectivity, beyond having a personal experience with consciousness, because all that we actually know is subjectivity anyway. But that’s a separate topic. So that’s, I would say, the first answer: is that it’s not just an individual telepathy study here and there. It’s the convergence of all the different things. But with regard to telepathy and other psychic phenomena, there have been attempts to isolate those sorts of issues. And an example I’m thinking of off the top of my head: studies that were done at the US government. So the US government ran a program using psychic spies for over 20 years during the Cold War, which I was shocked to learn in my research. And I was even more shocked that the CIA declassified certain documents, which explicitly say that certain things are real in this realm. But there were studies done with Uri Geller, who is a famous Israeli psychic who was tested at the US government. And there are documents from 1973 that I was able to include in my book, they’ve been declassified, where they put Uri in an electrically shielded room and asked him to perform these psychic tasks, and he was still able to do it, which is suggesting that something beyond the traditional forces that we’re aware of is at play.
Rick Archer: So Uri’s in that room. Electrically shielded, so that means a radio wouldn’t have worked in there?
Mark Gober: I believe so. Yes. So you wouldn’t be able to get information using waves in or out.
Rick Archer: So that would rule out the electromagnetic fields. Okay, good. But obviously, if everything is ultimately consciousness, then the shielding of that room is made of consciousness. So although it could block the electromagnetic field, it couldn’t block itself because it is consciousness.
Mark Gober: Right. And that’s the big question: if there is a psychic ability, telepathy, remote viewing, which is perceiving something that’s far away using your mind, is something being transmitted and received? Is there an energy force that is beyond the forces that we know of? And if we are in this kind of sea of consciousness, then it would make sense that things would be able to flow beyond the traditional forces that we’re measuring.
Rick Archer: Yeah. Yeah, I guess all this stuff is sort of subtle. I mean, in some cases, they’re random number generators being influenced by mass events like 9-11, or Princess Diana’s death, and things like that, we’re talking about really infinitesimal variations from the average. And so most people aren’t even thinking about this. And most people aren’t in a position to do the research themselves. So it’s like most scientific researchers just have to say, well, I guess these guys know what they’re doing. But if you’re predisposed to disbelieve it, then you can easily sweep it under the rug or ignore it. And I’ve heard stories of just as get the priests, the Church authorities refused to look through Galileo’s telescope, I’ve heard stories of people refusing to look at this kind of research because it’s got to be bunk. It doesn’t fit my paradigm.
Mark Gober: Yeah, I’ve heard that as well, where certain scientists don’t even want to spend time looking at it. Because according to their worldview, the odds that these things are real are so low that it’s not worth spending time and money on those things, which ends up being a self-selecting issue, where then you only end up studying things that you think are real, which is kind of antiscientific because, in my mind, scientific should be the open exploration of new topics. But what you said is very much true. And it’s something I’ve had to look at closely. If these things are real, Why is it that I have never heard of them until I listen to alternative podcasts? How could it be? And how could it be that so many people that I know who are well educated have never heard of these things before? So I had to really convince myself that there was a dynamic happening where, I don’t know if suppression is the right word, but there is a sweeping under the rug that seems to be happening where there is a resistance to the paradigm. And when we look at paradigm shifts throughout history, we see similarities where there’s a reluctance to look in the telescope, in the case of Galileo. We have something very similar right now. And it applies even to the world of peer review, where it’s difficult to get a journal paper put into a mainstream journal because editors don’t necessarily want to put that information in there. And I’ve heard from scientists who say that sometimes their papers are rejected, without reason, because the findings are impossible, and therefore the journal doesn’t want to publish them. So when I hear stories like that, it kind of makes sense that we are, at least up until this point, we haven’t heard about some of these ideas in the mainstream.
Rick Archer: Yeah, there’s a lot of politics which represses it. And people’s reputations are on the line, their tenure may be on the line, their grant funding may be on the line. And so they’re cowed into subservience really.
Mark Gober: That’s exactly what I hear. The scientists who I think are very brave that have decided to study these topics, many of them say that if you mentioned these topics at all, you can kiss tenure goodbye. And many of them have waited until they got tenure to study these things. At which point they’re still not shielded from criticism. A good example of that is Brian Josephson was a Nobel Prize winner in physics.
Rick Archer: I met him back in the 70s.
Mark Gober: So a brilliant guy from Cambridge, and he has said things like that he thinks telepathy is real. And he thinks that quantum physics might help us explain how this could happen. And he has been turned away from a scientific conference. There was one conference in particular that he mentioned in a paper that I cite in my book, where the person running the conference said (paraphrasing) “we understand that you have interest in the paranormal,” speaking to Josephson, “and this is a scientific conference. And we don’t think that those topics should be included.” So he was uninvited from a scientific conference as a Nobel Prize winner in physics.
Rick Archer: Yeah. A similar thing happened to Rupert Sheldrake. He was either uninvited to a TED talk, or his TED talk was taken down or some such thing because he talked about this kind of stuff.
Mark Gober: Yes, I’ve heard about that. And it seems like the stories happen over and over again. But I’m becoming optimistic. And maybe it’s because I’m just new to the space. But at the same time, there are some developments that seem very favorable. And one is the fact that in 2018, there was an article published by American Psychologist, it’s the official peer-reviewed academic journal of the American Psychological Association. So this is mainstream psychology. They accepted a study by Dr. Etzel Cardeña, from Lund University in Sweden, who looked at these psychic phenomena, telepathy, remote viewing, precognition, which is sensing the future before it happens, psychokinesis, which is mind affecting matter. And he showed that there are statistical effects beyond what randomness would predict that there’s something going on, there’s something that is an anomaly occurring. And those findings were accepted to the degree that this mainstream journal published the article. So that, to me, is a very positive sign.
Rick Archer: Yeah. And of course, there have been tons of published articles on the effects of meditation and all, usually in terms of their physiological effects, which don’t necessarily shatter any paradigms, you’re sitting quietly and your heart rate goes down, or whatever, your skin resistance changes. But there was one published in the Journal of Conflict Resolution some years ago, on studies that the TM group conducted where they amassed large groups of people in trouble spots. I myself spent three months in Iran. And they were groups in Israel and Southern Africa, where there was a lot of trouble at that point, Central America, and there was a measurable and statistically significant change in war deaths and other conflict measures. And it took them about two years to work up the nerve to publish that study. And they got a lot of flak after they published it, but it was published.
Mark Gober: Yeah, there are studies here and there that are published in various outlets, and they’re just not talked about often. I mean, to me, the fact that this Etzel Cardeña study has not been on the front page of newspapers says a lot. I mean, it’s a major finding: the American Psychological Association publishes an article like this that’s validating the reality of psychic phenomena. So these are like the little clouds that are popping up all over the place, to use Lord Kelvin’s terminology.
Rick Archer: Yeah. And I think the pattern is repeating itself and will repeat itself through the conclusion that the paradigm will shift and the pattern being that these anomalies get more and more pesky, more and more insistent as they continue to accumulate. And they kind of peck away at the foundation of the existing paradigm until eventually it topples and gives way to a shift to the new one.
Mark Gober: Yeah, I hope we see it soon. But on one hand, I’m encouraged by things like some of these papers being published, but I personally experienced some things that made me a little less optimistic, and I’ll give an example of my publicists was sending my information out to various outlets to try to get the information out about my book to market it and we reached out to a mainstream scientific journal. And the editor there initially just dismissed it immediately when he heard that remote viewing was involved in this topic. And then I asked my publicist to just send this editor the CIA documents, which say that remote viewing is a real phenomenon. That’s a direct quote from the CIA documents and other things like it, including the scientific panel that examined the phenomenon. And we also sent him the Etzel Cardeña study from American Psychologist. His response was…he just dismissed it immediately, he said that the CIA is not a scientific body and that the American Psychologist article was amusing, and basically said something to the effect of “unless my 35 years in scientific journalism have been an exercise in delusion.”
Rick Archer: Which I guess they have been, at least to a certain extent. Well, you probably heard that quote, that science progresses by a series of funerals.
Mark Gober: Right, the idea being that those who are entrenched in the paradigm…
Rick Archer: They die off.
Mark Gober: Or they’re no longer vocal force.
Rick Archer: Yeah. But I think my observation is that in every way, the pace of change is accelerating. And we’re building up to some kind of crescendo here. And, also the dilemmas, the potential catastrophes facing us are getting more and more ominous and getting closer. So something’s got to give. And, as I read in that quote from your book, in the beginning of the interview, this whole issue of consciousness being fundamental, it’s not just some kind of ontological entertainment or something. It’s really impactful and really critical to what’s going on in our world. And that’s why we’re talking about it.
Mark Gober: Yes. And it applies to every single person. That’s the important thing. It sounds kind of intellectual when you talk about consciousness and the brain and neuroscience.
Rick Archer: Yeah, like who cares?
Mark Gober: But these are fundamental questions about existence, who and what we are, and how we interact with one another. So when we think about many of the problems in the world, which you quoted, from me, whether they’re interpersonal, they’re personal, they’re international, the problems to me at their core relate to assumptions about reality. And I think many of those mainstream assumptions are not correct. So it affects all of us.
Rick Archer: Yeah. And like you said, with your friends, when you told them you were researching this area, and you started telling them some of the stuff, they said it shifted their perspective. I mean, if you think about it, if you think that you’re basically a meat puppet and that your existence is going to completely cease when your body dies. That’s one perspective. If you think that you’re an immortal soul and that the body is just like a suit of clothing that you change from time to time, then that’s a radically different perspective, it seems to me it would have a major impact on your mentality, your psychology, your hope, your optimism, your happiness.
Mark Gober: Yeah, well, I can tell you from personal experience, because I was very much in the conventional way of thinking which says, matter, i.e., the material brain, creates consciousness. And therefore, when the brain dies, when the body dies, then there’s no consciousness, there are no memories, no feelings, no emotions. And under that paradigm, at least the way I interpreted it, which I think is a strict interpretation, you cannot find meaning in life, you can only rationalize because once you’re dead, it’s over. And everyone’s going to be dead because we have these finite bodies. And that’s the reality of what we’re taught. So that’s where I came from. And I think that might help your listeners understand why this was such a big shift for me.
Rick Archer: I saw this cartoon recently, I should have queued it up to show it during the interview, but it was called “at the dung beetle bar.” And there’s a dung beetle, a couple of dung beetles sitting at the bar. And the bartender is a dung beetle. And so one guy is drinking his drink. And he says, so is that all there is to it, Murray: eat, shit, and die. And Murray says, “Yeah, that’s basically it.”
Mark Gober: Yeah. But that’s kind of where I was. And I didn’t want to fight that because I thought that’s what science was pointing to more and more, the notion that the universe is fully random. It’s egocentric of us to think that we’re more than a body. And I didn’t want to rationalize. So I thought life had no meaning. And I struggled with that. Not necessarily outwardly. But in my day-to-day life, if something would happen to me that seemed ostensibly good or bad, in the back of my mind, I said, Mark, why does it matter? In the end, it doesn’t matter at all. You’re just making it up. And then when I learned this other information, which is what you suggested, that our identity is much more than the body, that we’re really a consciousness that’s experiencing the physical world through a body, rather than being a body that has a consciousness. That shift rocked me and took me time to adjust. I’m probably still adjusting.
Rick Archer: Yeah, I think we’re always all still adjusting. And there’s another thing I think that has a ripple effect of the materialistic assumption, which is that what if what you are, what you appear to be, and what you accumulate in your life is all there is to it, then he who dies with the most toys wins might be your predominant attitude. And we live in a very sort of materialistic society, one in which there’s huge wealth inequity, and which a lot of people are really not living very happy lives because they’re so impoverished, that there might be one example of the upside-down thinking that it’s just a material world. And when you die, you’re gone.
Mark Gober: Yeah, I mean, if it were true that material goods would make us happy, then we should see that every billionaire or superstar should be in ecstasy all the time. And we certainly don’t see that. So there seems to be something happening beyond this notion that materialism is everything that there is. And that reminds me of one of the phenomena that I think has had one of the—probably the biggest—impacts on me, it’s in the near-death experience, which is an instance where a person has little or no brain functioning, and yet their consciousness is totally lucid and rational and logical. Sometimes the things that they see from out of their body are actually—those things are reported as being accurate when they come back in their body and are resuscitated. But on this topic, the life review is something that occurs during this period where a person experiences their whole life in a flash, and they’re judging and observing themselves, and they’re seeing how they acted towards people. They’re not judging how big their house was, or what kind of car they were driving. They’re judging how they treated the other person. And if they were inflicting pain upon that person, they feel that person’s pain through that person’s eyes. And it’s a very powerful thing to think about that all of our actions, if that is something that we all encounter, a life review, that how we treat other people is what actually matters. There’s a great example of Dannion Brinkley, who I also interviewed for my podcast, he recently had his fourth near-death experience, once he was electrocuted, twice during open-heart surgery, one during brain surgery.
Rick Archer: He got struck by lightning a couple of times, at least once.
Mark Gober: He got struck by lightning when he picked up a phone. And yeah, that was his first one. But in his case, he had a life review every single time, in addition to going to other realms. And he was a Marine and killed many people in Vietnam.
Rick Archer: He was a sharpshooter in Vietnam.
Mark Gober: So he had to go back and during his life review and experience the deaths of the people that he killed and experience the pain that he inflicted upon them. Not only that, but he experienced the pain of the people that were affected by the person that was killed (i.e., he felt the “indirect” effects of his actions). So the child that lost a parent, he felt that pain, though he didn’t feel it quite as strongly. So when we think about the life review, and you talk to people that have had a near-death experience, they come back into their body, and they are often much less materialistic, because they see this broader reality. And to them, all that seems to matter is how they treat people. So, Dannion Brinkley, he’s now a hospice volunteer.
Rick Archer: Yeah. I should interview him one of these days, I enjoyed his books. Not only do they tend to change how they live their life, but it also radically changes their attitude toward death, they no longer fear it. They’re not suicidal, but they’re no longer—they’re kind of looking forward to death because they’ve seen a glimpse of how beautiful it is on the other side.
Mark Gober: Yes, I hear that very often. I’ve actually heard someone say to me, I’m not suicidal Mark, but I really want to go back there because it’s such a pleasurable place to be in these other realms, being freed of the body, so to speak. But when we talk about these ideas in the context of the world that we live in, and the traditional education system, these are not the things that we are always learning. It is about achievement, and the attainment of material goods, in the hopes, I think, perhaps falsely, that we will then become happy and satisfied once we achieve all of those material things.
Rick Archer: And there’s nothing wrong with having a certain amount of them, you need that to be comfortable. And even to engage in spiritual practice. It’s hard to do that if you’re living under a bridge. But it’s not sort of the be-all and end-all.
Mark Gober: That’s a great point, in the same way that the world is not actually physical, but we perceive it to be physical, we are in this realm where we need physical things to survive. So there is nothing wrong with the material world so to speak. But I think it’s maybe the emphasis that’s placed on it can be recontextualized if we think about the fact that maybe we’re all gonna have a life review, for example, and in that life review, what we are judging our life on is not based on the material goods, it’s about the treatment of others because we are interconnected.
Rick Archer: Yeah. Well, it worked for Ebenezer Scrooge. Here’s a question that came in from Mark in Bogota, Colombia. Mark asks, “do you find a relationship between electromagnetic fields and collective consciousness? And what the accelerating shift of the North Magnetic Pole towards the eastern hemisphere means?” That’s an interesting thing that’s been going on.
Mark Gober: Good question. Yeah, I’ve heard of that. The answer is I’m not sure. I think it’s something that needs to be explored more fully. And part of the reason I think we’re not exploring it fully is that these ideas are not mainstream. So many scientists who are studying electromagnetic fields aren’t able to look at them. So if we start to integrate the topic of consciousness with these global shifts, what could we find? It’s a great question. And I think it needs to be explored.
Rick Archer: Yeah. Let’s, let’s bring up a point from your book and which many others have discussed, which indicates that there is something more fundamental than the electromagnetic field or any field taking place here. And that is, I believe it’s called complementarity, where you can have particles that are separated by light years. And I don’t know exactly how they test this. But it’s established science, and that a change in one produces instantly a change in the other. And there’s no way that the speed of light or anything could get from one to the other. So that sort of presupposes some kind of omnipresent field that is infinitely correlated, and through which information, if we call it information, can travel instantly. It’s what Einstein called “spooky action at a distance”.
Mark Gober: Yes, spooky action at a distance. Nonlocal connections. In physics, many physicists call it entanglement or quantum entanglement, the notion that two particles that are physically…
Rick Archer: Maybe it’s entanglement, not complementarity, I might have had the wrong term. Go ahead.
Mark Gober: So yeah, entanglement, which is the notion that two particles physically distant from one another, no matter how far apart they are, when you affect one, the other one has an instantaneous correlated effect, where they’re basically mirroring each other, even though they are far apart. And Einstein called it spooky because he thought that the fastest that anything could travel is the speed of light. And here we have an instantaneous connection. Einstein tried to disprove this. And in his attempt to disprove it, he actually further proved that it is a real thing. And now it is accepted science that there are nonlocal connections at the core of reality.
Rick Archer: Yeah. Are you aware of how these are explained? Does anybody have an idea for this? Or is it just like one of those head-scratchers?
Mark Gober: My understanding is that it’s something scientists are trying to understand, though it’s still a mystery. To me, if we incorporate consciousness, and the idea that consciousness is fundamental, or primary, or as Erwin Schrodinger said: “In truth, there is only one mind,” that we’re part of the same mind—that might help us start to explain these things.
Rick Archer: I think most of the people watching this are pretty much on board with the stuff we’re saying. But a simple analogy that we could use, and that they might want to use if they’re talking to friends about it, is that a radio, I mean, or a radio, obviously, that’s a good one or a cell phone. But you know, there’s a radio transmitter, maybe 60 miles away, and your little radio picks it up. And so like that the human nervous system could be thought of not as a generator of consciousness, but rather as a receiver of consciousness. Want to riff on that a little bit?
Mark Gober: That’s an important topic. And I think, when there’s a paradigm shift, the history books are going to write a lot of papers on this topic of: why is it that we thought that the brain produces consciousness, given all this evidence that we have? And there are a few reasons to think that the brain produces consciousness, one is that our sensory organs are located near our brain. So it feels like our consciousness is up here. And if we put our eyes at our shins or our toes or something, it might feel differently. So we should just think about that, we are biased by where our eyes are. But even more than that, more scientifically, the fact that there are strong correlations between what happens in the brain and what happens to your consciousness—that is biasing us. So what do I mean by that? Let’s say someone gets in a car accident, and they have brain damage, they might have corresponding memory loss. So we changed the brain, we changed the consciousness. Another example is if you stimulate the part of the brain, let’s say you take a little electrode, you stimulate the part of the brain responsible for vision, and then you start to have different vision. So look, we changed the brain. Now we change the conscious experience. Super tight correlation. Now, why can’t we conclude that the brain must be producing consciousness based on that tight correlation? I’ll use an analogy from Dr. Bernardo Kastrup. In his book, it’s called “Why Materialism is Baloney.”
Rick Archer: He’s been on the BatGap. Twice.
Mark Gober: Okay. So he says, we should imagine that there’s a fire and you have firefighters that show up, you have a larger fire, many firefighters show up. So you have a strong correlation between how large the fire is and how many firefighters are appearing. But the firefighters aren’t causing the fire. And that just illustrates that just because two things are related, we can’t always say that one is causing the other. And this gets to your point. Well, how else can we explain the fact that our brain is definitely related to our consciousness? It’s somehow related to it. But if it’s not producing it, necessarily, what could be the relationship? The analogy of an antenna, I think is a helpful one because it places the brain in a processing role, so to speak, that the brain is taking in consciousness and almost spitting it out in a new form. There’s an analogy that I think is maybe the most precise, which is to say that the brain is Almost a filtering mechanism of consciousness. So it’s like consciousness is the sun shining all the time. And we have clouds, whether it’s our brain, our thoughts, our mind, our perceptions, and they’re actually blocking rays of the sun. So the brain is a limiter. And when we have experiences like a near-death experience where the person’s brain is shut off, or meditation, which is a bit more subtle, where there’s a calming of the mind, it’s like a removal of clouds, and more pure consciousness is able to come in.
Rick Archer: Yeah, the second verse of the Yoga Sutras is yoga, or meditation, we could say, is the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind. So there’s a calming of the mind. And then the next verse is, then the seer is established in the self. So it’s like if the mind is agitated, then like, water, trying to reflect sunlight, the reflection isn’t very clear, it’s all broken up. But if the mind is settled, like settled water, then the reflection can be very brilliant. And that’s what the whole spiritual practice thing is all about. Basically.
Mark Gober: It’s been so fascinating for me to learn that the ancient traditions have been saying this for a long time. And now science is really pointing to these the same concepts that we can find from ancient scriptures. So these topics we’re talking about are not new in any way, maybe for your audience, that is an obvious thing. But I will say to many people that I’ve spoken to, they’re just so shocked that people have been saying this for a long time, that cultures have known about how we think about consciousness as being potentially a fundamental aspect of reality. And now science is finally catching up to it.
Rick Archer: Yeah. You know one thing that would really shock the culture and change the paradigm pronto: Throughout history, there have been numerous accounts of people levitating. A friend of mine wrote a book kind of accumulating, amassing all these different accounts that come from cultures all over the world. And it’s easy to sort of brush that one away as sort of some kind of imaginative thing. But there have been so many accounts, and even some fairly recently. If someone were to do that, it would—and if it were proven that they weren’t just a good magician or something—it would really blow some minds. And we’d have to ask ourselves, how can they do that? You know, on what are the mechanics through which physical laws are apparently being violated or counteracted? Any thoughts on that?
Mark Gober: Many of the studies that I referenced in the book, including the one from the American Psychologist, they’re talking about small statistical effects. In other words, if you weren’t looking at the math, you wouldn’t know that something’s happening, you have to look at the math to see that it’s a deviation beyond what just chance would predict. These more extreme cases where it’s actually visible. They’re much more anomalous, they’re much rarer, it seems in my research, and looking at the US government program. That’s a good example, where there were a number of people that are really, really good at remote viewing. And there’s an example that former US President Jimmy Carter confirmed that a downed Russian bomber was found in an African jungle, it was lost, the radar systems couldn’t find it. And they used remote viewers to be able to locate this bomber using their minds. But though the number of people that can do that, it seems to be a smaller group. So it’s like there’s a distribution of abilities in the same way that for sports like basketball, you have Michael Jordan on one end, who’s a superstar, and then you have an average person who can dribble a basketball. Yeah, the number of Michael Jordans in the world, it seems to be a smaller number. So I think that is one issue is that we can’t always find the Michael Jordans. And then another issue is that I think especially with people who have developed spiritual practices, it tends to be a spontaneous occurrence. Where it’s not always planned.
Rick Archer: Yes and no, I mean, well, firstly, I think LeBron James, he gets some credit. And we’ve been quoting more Michael Jordan for a long time. These days, LeBron is King
Mark Gober: Yeah we’ll go with Lebron.
Rick Archer: Or Serena Williams, if you want to switch to tennis. But this thing about it not being planned, not being a spontaneous event, or having to be a spontaneous event, maybe certain things are but spiritual practices can be systematic. I mean, there are people throughout history who practice things in a very systematic, regular, repetitive way and it ultimately has yielded some fruit.
Mark Gober: Yeah, absolutely. But sometimes the anomalous occurrence, as far as I’ve understood it, sometimes it is spontaneous, where the practice can be done. But the anomalous event doesn’t always occur with it. And so it seems to be that these things can be difficult to pin down and even those that are really talented at it like the LeBron Jameses of remote viewing. It’s not always 100%. Maybe the same with the person who does spiritual practices. Maybe it’s not 100%, and the skeptic will want to latch on to the few instances where it’s not perfect.
Rick Archer: Yeah. And of course, spiritual practices are not primarily about having particular flashy experiences or demonstrating some kind of supernatural ability. But those things have been associated with spiritual practice. I mean, Patanjali, the third chapter of the Yoga Sutras, which is four chapters is all about siddhis being able to do these things actually, intentionally on demand more or less. And he lists a whole bunch of different things you can do if you’re able to do them and prescribes actually a formula for doing them. But anyway, that’s interesting, but it’s hard to find contemporary examples.
Mark Gober: It’s hard to find contemporary examples and to find people to do it in a rigorous enough way that the mainstream will accept it or even look at it. But it is kind of mind-blowing to know that these practices had been around for a long time, people have reported and have experienced psychic phenomena paranormal or anomalous phenomena. And yet, we haven’t been able to document them in a way that is at least satisfactory to the mainstream. Although I would say that there has been significant documentation of a lot of this stuff, it’s just not being looked at.
Rick Archer: Yeah, some would say that the suppression of these kinds of things is not just a cultural or intellectual kind of thing. But it actually has to do with the quality of collective consciousness, that there’s a sort of a density to it, that keeps these things tamped down. And that as that density clears, like the dispelling of clouds, spontaneously, a lot of things that we now consider rarities and anomalies will become more and more commonplace.
Mark Gober: I’ve heard that idea sort of like as consciousness evolves, so to speak, at the collective evolves to a new state, then certain things will become more commonplace. And I hope that’s the case. Because if that were true, then I think many of the world’s problems might start to shift.
Rick Archer: I think I’m seeing it in terms of all the people I talk to and communicate with me, that there just seems to be some kind of epidemic of awakening consciousness around the world, people start having Kundalini experiences, and all who didn’t know anything about Kundalini, or, you know, these spontaneous awakenings who weren’t even looking for them at all. So it definitely seems to be something getting enlivened. I think.
Mark Gober: I’m noticing that as well. And I’ve been surprised to know how many people have known about these topics and are experiencing them on a regular basis. And as I’ve kind of gotten into that world more, I’m seeing exactly what you’re seeing, where there are more awakenings, sometimes spontaneous ones, the SAND community, Science and Nonduality, lots of people talk about their experiences there. So I think it’s a growing community globally.
Rick Archer: Yeah, it’s exciting. There are a lot of things in your book that we could get into, a lot of different topics we can discuss. But one that comes to mind at the moment, is I think I’ll preface it with a quote from Einstein, which I’ll put up on the screen here. He said, “Contemplate the mystery of conscious life perpetuating itself through all eternity, to reflect upon the marvelous structure of the universe, which we can dimly perceive, and try humbly to comprehend even an infinitesimal part of the intelligence manifested in nature.” So I like that quote, you want to comment on that before I go on?
Mark Gober: The first thing that came to mind is the notion of humility, which has been an important one of my journey, which is to continue to acknowledge how little I know or could ever know, using my intellectual, rational mind, that the linear brain the way we think about things in a linear fashion, is a sliver of reality. And things are happening beyond what our intellect can sometimes comprehend. Or even if they are things that our intellect can comprehend, maybe we don’t know them yet. And keeping that open mind, I think, is really critical. And it might be one of the things that are holding us back in other areas, the tendency to think that we know much more than we actually do.
Rick Archer: Yeah. I think that there’s a value to the sort of like, adherence to certain established knowledge. I mean, if we were willing to just sort of brush it aside with any little contradictory notion that came along, there’d be no sort of stability or consistency. So there’s a value to that, but generally, it becomes too calcified, too rigid. And, as we discussed earlier, there’s a value of counterbalancing that with open-mindedness, and I think you can do that, you don’t have to either be “anything goes and I’ll accept any whacky idea that comes along.” Or, “I know it all and I’m not going to change my mind.” You can somehow incorporate your awareness to incorporate both the stability of what is known with the open-mindedness to accept new knowledge.
Mark Gober: It’s a really important point you make. So this materialist paradigm which says matter creates consciousness. We start with matter, we end up with chemistry. Biology, Brains, Neuroscience, and then consciousness. And what we’re talking about today is saying consciousness comes first. But still, we have physics and chemistry and biology and neuroscience, I’m not suggesting that those things should be thrown out. I’m just suggesting a recontextualization. Those other areas work and we’ve discovered a lot in those disciplines. So that’s important. It’s kind of finding a middle ground in all of this. And not taking too extreme a position.
Rick Archer: Yeah and if scientists at large were really scientific, in general, they would do that, you know, because it’s definitely unscientific to let personal bias or fear or worry about tenure, or any of those other things to close your mind. You’re not—I mean, science is open to anything could be a hypothesis worthy of testing. If you’re really being scientific about it.
Mark Gober: That’s the scientific approach, it should technically be nondogmatic it should be—If there is a finding, we should explore it and see if it’s real then how we might be able to incorporate it rather than saying everything should fit into this box. And if it doesn’t, then it’s not accepted. That is almost an unscientific approach. So it’s taking that approach. And again, it kind of goes against some of our instincts to want to cling and cling on to the security of what we know, or what our sensory organs are showing us. We have to counteract some of those instincts to just be open and willing to accept things that might challenge us.
Rick Archer: Yeah, well put. So back to that Einstein quote, I won’t read it again. But one of the things that—he uses the word intelligence there. And when we talk about what consciousness is, let’s talk about that a little bit. And it being the basis of the universe, perhaps the ultimate foundation of the universe, perhaps the essential constituent of the universe, perhaps the entirety of the universe, maybe there’s nothing other than consciousness appearing as a universe, then what does that tell us about the qualities of consciousness?
Mark Gober: When I think about consciousness, the way I define it in the book is it’s our subjective inner experience. And when I say that I am speaking to you, Rick, that I, that’s what I mean by consciousness. So it’s not a tangible thing, but it has sentience to it, an awareness to it as a property. And what I argue in the book is that that awareness that I’m experiencing is part of the same stream of consciousness that we’re all connected to, which is the basis of all reality, essentially. So what is consciousness? In the book, I include a footnote, when I define consciousness, and I say that even though I try to define it using language, that is perhaps—it’s perhaps limiting because if consciousness is the fundamental aspect of reality, existing beyond all space and time, and is actually infinite, then to put language around it is creating a limitation that shouldn’t exist. So by talking about consciousness, we are constricting it and actually not purely being it.
Rick Archer: I think that we could do our best to talk about it, as long as we acknowledge that words will never do justice to it. You know, we can use words like unbounded or universal or blissful or, or whatever. But they’re just words. And they all point to something that potentially could be experienced. But we shouldn’t get too hung up on the words.
Mark Gober: That’s how I feel about it too. We need language in today’s day and age to communicate. And so we do our best but keeping in mind that something that might be infinite, to put language on it would put an artificial boundary on it.
Rick Archer: Yeah. But that’s true of almost everything, not just consciousness, I mean, try to describe the taste of an orange or try to describe what being in love is, like, are any of those things, they’re just words, they’re concepts. And if the other person has tasted the orange, or been in love or something, then there could be some communication, that they really understand what you’re talking about. But if they haven’t, you could talk ’til you’re blue in the face, and they’re really not going to get anything like what the actual experience will be.
Mark Gober: Right. It’s a proxy. You’re reminding me of the near-death experience, where people come back and say, “Look, I can’t really use words to explain this”: known as ineffability. And that’s part of the disconnect is that people who have had these mystical experiences, it’s hard sometimes to explain it using human language to others who haven’t had the experience, because the language is a proxy, and it’s not the actual thing.
Rick Archer: Yeah. So a minute ago, you said consciousness is—you define consciousness as subjective experiences?
Mark Gober: Yeah, our subjective inner experience
Rick Archer: So let’s say for the sake of metaphor, that a radio is conscious of what it’s playing. So a radio is playing the Beatles. And the radio might say, well my subjective inner experience is the Beatles, but that doesn’t define the electromagnetic field. I mean, the electromagnetic field is a much vaster, more significant thing than any particular vibration of it, which could give rise to a particular song through a radio.
Mark Gober: Yeah, to use a term from Rupert Spira: He talks about “modulations” of consciousness. That it’s sort of like if we’re in a still body of water, we get little waves that pop up and those modulations create diversity. So consciousness is the basic underpinning of reality, and all of the things that we experience, whether they’re electromagnetic fields or just a tree that we see, those are all just different modulations of the same consciousness.
Rick Archer: Right. And in that video, we alluded to earlier about whether consciousness is the unified field, it was presented that both consciousness and the unified field which you know, Hagelin was claiming, are one of the same, arise and give appear to give rise to the manifest universe by these modulations, or vibrations, at a very, very fundamental level, and that they, in turn, become more and more complex through something called sequential, spontaneous symmetry breaking—until you have a manifest universe, but the whole thing arises from that foundation.
Mark Gober: That’s how I see it, and the mechanics of how that all happens. That is still an open scientific question. But I don’t think we’ll get there unless we acknowledge the primacy of consciousness or at least, entertain it. And, to me, one of the strongest arguments for this is one that Bernardo Kastrup has made and a number of other people have as well, which is to say, we should look at our own experience. And our own experience is always subjective. I can’t prove anything outside of my own experience, nor can anyone. We can infer it. So if we take that steps further, and we say, imagine that there’s a material universe with no conscious beings, no awareness, no sentience at all, just a material universe, could that universe be there in the first place? And when we think about it, yeah, it’s possible, but we could never verify that it was there. Because it would take a conscious awareness—
Rick Archer: There would be no “we” to verify it
Mark Gober: There would be no “we” to verify it in any way, whether it’s seeing or hearing, there’s no way to verify it. So if we want to be truly skeptical, the skeptic would say: “All we know is consciousness.” So to say consciousness is fundamental, is ironically, the most skeptical position metaphysically.
Rick Archer: But if the universe arose from consciousness, if consciousness is fundamental to creation, then if modern cosmology is correct, presumably there was a period of billions of years in which there couldn’t have been any sentient beings around to perceive the universe. And yet the universe was able to evolve on its own, to the point where such beings began to exist.
Mark Gober: So that that line of reasoning would presume that sentience and consciousness need a biological body to exist. And if consciousness is independent of the brain, then we don’t need a brain or a biological organism.
Rick Archer: No, not for consciousness to exist. But perhaps for perception to take place, you need perceptual—you need senses.
Mark Gober: An apparatus?
Rick Archer: Yeah
Mark Gober: Well, what I mean by consciousness, being able to experience or verify the universe, is any kind of awareness, even if it’s not in the body. So if we look at someone with a near-death experience, their organs are totally turned off. So I’ll give examples of blind individuals, people who have been blind since birth. And there’s a great book called Mindsight, the authors look at 31 cases of this, where the person has been blind since birth, they have a near-death experience, and they experience all the same things that a sighted person has reported throughout the ages, including being able to see and then they come back into their body and they are unable to see again or have the same impairment. So it suggests that the way we perceive is not tied to biology, that there is this—as author Kenneth Ring and his colleague referred to—they call it the “transcendental awareness” that exists independently of a functioning body. So if that sort of awareness can exist without biological organisms in the universe, then presumably there could have been an awareness at that period.
Rick Archer: Yeah. One explanation for what those blind people experience is that we not only have a gross body, but we have a subtle body, and the subtle body actually has senses through which things can be experienced. And that would account for disembodied beings, spirits, astral beings, angels, ghosts, all that kind of stuff being able to experience without having any kind of actual biological material. It’s just an astral or subtler level.
Mark Gober: Right, right. But still nonphysical.
Rick Archer: Still nonphysical, yes.
Mark Gober: Yes, less physical, beyond the physicality that we are assuming to be the only reality of materialism. So even an etheric body or however it’s not that is that still a major departure from the conventional wisdom.
Rick Archer: Oh, yeah. Although conventionally, we deal with all kinds of things that are nonphysical.
Mark Gober: That’s the irony of it.
Rick Archer: Yeah. You spoke about randomness earlier on and I read that Fred Hoyle quote about a 747 being assembled from a junk pile by a tornado. I wonder how conventional science understands how all of this beauty and complexity and detail arose through some process of randomness, from basically hydrogen. How do they explain this?
Mark Gober: Well, I can give you the answer I would have given you a few years ago, and maybe this is aligned with scientists or not, I probably got it from scientists that I was reading, which is that in a huge universe, we know, with the law of large numbers, that certain things will happen, based on chance. When you have enough trials of something you’re bound to end up with diversity. And one part of that diversity could be the complexity of life. It’s just a chance emergence out of many, many things happening. And we’re seeing a speck where diversity in life evolved.
Rick Archer: So a speck on our planet, or a speck in this whole universe being such a speck, because it’s obviously full of diversity.
Mark Gober: I think it would depend on who you talk to. But I’ve sensed that more and more scientists are open to the notion that there is some form of life, even if it’s not as advanced as human beings, elsewhere in the universe, just based on chance alone.
Rick Archer: Sure, and even on our planet. I mean, when a daffodil grows or something, it’s not just doing that, by chance, it’s doing that in a very orderly way, extracting nutrients from the ground and the sunlight, and so on and so forth. And coming out with this beautiful thing. It’s sort of the second law of thermodynamics doesn’t dominate in our world, there are so many things that counteract it.
Mark Gober: Yeah, I mean, now, with my perspective, looking at consciousness as being the fundamental aspect, which is kind of—instead of a bottom-up approach, that we emerge from matter and consciousness comes out, it’s more of like a top-down. Consciousness is fundamental. Everything is emerging within it. It’s just—it’s much easier to explain this kind of diversity with an underlying awareness or sentience than it is using randomness.
Rick Archer: Yeah, that’s kind of what I’m getting at. Muktananda wrote a book called Play of Consciousness. And in the Vedic tradition, they use the word Leela. And they say the whole creation is a play of consciousness. But the implication is that it’s pure intelligence, pure, unbounded intelligence. It’s not just consciousness, but it has this sort of creative potency, that wants to give rise to more and more sophisticated forms through which you can experience itself as a living reality.
Mark Gober: That makes much more sense to me than it used to, I’ll say, and it could explain the diversity that we see all over the planet and all over the universe.
Rick Archer: Yeah. So let’s go through some of the things in your book. Some of the chapters, I mean, obviously not in tremendous detail. But you outline a number of different areas that you feel buttress the argument for consciousness being fundamental. And I’ve got the table of contents in front of me here, but I’m sure you have them in mind. So let’s go through a few of them. And people who are listening or watching live, if you want to send in a question, there’s a forum at the bottom of the upcoming interviews page on batgap.com.
Mark Gober: To preface this discussion, my approach, when I started my research was, I was exposed to anomalies, things that didn’t make sense. So I didn’t start my investigation by looking at the brain versus consciousness, I didn’t start by saying, I think consciousness is fundamental. It started with a number of independent phenomena that I couldn’t make sense of. And as I did more and more research and saw more of these phenomena, studied by people independently in independent areas, it all converged on this idea that consciousness is primary, and that consciousness doesn’t come from the brain. And that’s the way the book was ultimately structured. It comes back to the idea of “we all have a consciousness,” anyone listening to this right now or watching it has a consciousness. It is there. How is it there? Is it from the brain? Or is it not from the brain? And the book explores a number of independent phenomena, which, if real, could be explained much more easily by saying consciousness is not from the brain, whereas we’d have a really hard time explaining them by saying consciousness is just stuck in our skull. So that’s the preface for these various phenomena. And I divided it into two major categories and each has its own chapter. So the first category is psychic phenomena. And the chapters within that are the evidence for remote viewing, perceiving something at a distance. Telepathy, which is mind-to-mind communication. Precognition, which is knowing or sensing the future before it happens. Animals that exhibit these abilities as well. Psychokinesis, which is the ability for the mind to affect matter without any physical contact. So that’s the kind of wizard-like psychic abilities category. The other category is evidence that consciousness survives after bodily death. And the three chapters there are: near-death experiences, communications with the deceased, including planned accounts like mediumship, and also spontaneous ones. And the third is children who have memories of a previous life. And that’s from research coming out of the University of Virginia in particular, for over 50 years.
Rick Archer: Yeah. Well, all these things are all kind of like, matter-of-fact assumptions for me, I’d be interested in if anybody listening is skeptical about any of these things, if they would like to voice their skepticism, I’m sure you could address it. But one thing that I often thought about reading your book or listening to various other interviews you did is it might be interesting for you to present some of the most intelligent skepticism you’ve encountered. Has anyone rather than just brushing you off, has anyone actually sat you down and given you a really good argument as to why this data, the other thing might be seen a different way?
Mark Gober: I haven’t heard any arguments that have swayed me on the whole. But I’ve heard arguments that look at specific cases. So for the sake of your audience, the reason that I positioned the book the way I did, where I have each of these independent phenomena is that I reasoned that if any one of these things is real, we have to rethink the paradigm. So it’s not necessarily the case that every single anomaly ever reported is real, and that the statistics were properly done every time. I cannot personally verify that. But when I look at the large body of evidence, I have a hard time as a rational human being saying that every single one’s wrong. So that’s the overarching premise here. And I haven’t heard of anyone who’s been able to shoot down every single one. But within individual cases, I have heard things like, “well, the statistics were manipulated here.” And, using complex math (the statistics are beyond me), they say, “well, they this was not done properly, and therefore the study is not valid.” I’ve heard things like, “well, these are anecdotal cases, and we need controlled scientific studies to be able to verify that something exists.” And to me that that doesn’t really work because everything is experienced subjectively, and we can’t just throw that out. So the short answer to your question, Rick, is that I haven’t heard anything that has compelled me to throw all of it out.
Rick Archer: No, not all of it. And it’s fair enough to say that some studies are shoddy and some are well done. And some people are phonies, and some are genuine and all that stuff so I mean, Houdini spent a lot of his life trying to verify psychic phenomenon and life after death stuff, and he debunked a lot of psychics and so on. But one anomaly doesn’t—I mean, one sort of phony or weak study doesn’t trash the whole bunch. I mean, there are people who you take the sort of email scandal over some British climatologist and say, “Well, climate changes bunk because they cherry-picked some guy’s emails, and they appear to be monkeying with data.” But anyway, like you’re saying, I mean, that’s gonna happen with pretty much any field of scientific endeavor, there’s going to be a broad range of studies in a broad range of quality of those studies. But you have to sort of take the entirety of it and look at how solid it is. And I think in the area we’re talking about, there’s a lot of information out there. Now, that’s really hard to ignore, unless you have your head in the sand.
Mark Gober: But you make an important point that the bad apples in the barrel, those are the ones that seem to get the most attention. And if you don’t have a lot of time to research these things, and you see a headline or you see a Wikipedia article that says all this has been debunked, and maybe some of it has, rightly so, where there have been studies that have been done improperly, or they’re frauds, just like in any other area, those get all the attention. And then it causes people to put this whole domain in another area, which is “Oh, that’s all fraudulent.” And it’s perhaps the inability or lack of adjustment to say maybe those are just a few cases, and it’s not that reflective of the whole.
Rick Archer: Yeah, it’s kind of like the whole extraterrestrial thing where yeah, maybe there were some weather balloons, but boy, there’s a lot of stuff that’s going on that’s really hard to explain. A question came in from, see if I can pronounce this from Guillerme Koeho from Sao Paulo, Brazil, South America is on today. He said, “I would like to know more about your opinion of free will and choice. More and more neuroscientists (including Sam Harris. He didn’t say that but I’m adding it), have come to the conclusion that choice and free will are an illusion or unrealistic construction of the brain Michael Gazzaniga is one of them, what are your thoughts?”
Mark Gober: Well, if we think about what is reality. Reality, under the idea we’ve been discussing, is made of consciousness. Consciousness is the basis of existence. And therefore at the level of pure consciousness there would be infinite free will. That’s how I would see it because if consciousness is all there is and if we’re talking about the sea of consciousness, then that sea has free will. Now, each of us we’re a part of that stream. But it starts to get abstract. Does the individual actually exist as we perceive the individual? And so is there an individual if we’re all part of the sea? Is it just really the sea that has the free will? And we are, we are freewill instruments within that sea. So I guess the way I would summarize it is I think there is free will in the universe at the basic level of reality. And secondly, I think the concept of free will is a human construct. It’s something that we have created with the limited mind and we have a particular perspective on what free will is. And we’re kind of like answering our own limited question. So it might be something that is also just beyond the comprehension of the limited human mind.
Rick Archer: I think one way of looking at it is like, kind of like what you just said, I mean, consciousness in its ground state, and its fundamental nature is a field of all possibilities. And as it begins to manifest, then it has to do so in particular streams. And so the possibilities become more and more limited as it manifests and birds can’t swim underwater, humans can’t fly like birds. I mean, once you get into a particular form or structure, then that structure has its limitations, but it’s still permeated by, and essentially is that which is a field of all possibilities. So if you could, as a human being, if you could, culture, the ability to maintain that unboundedness of awareness, while functioning within boundaries, then you kind of have the best of both worlds.
Mark Gober: I totally agree with you. That’s how I see it as well. And it’s in line with what many mystics have said for a long time, which is aligning with that awareness when we are just being in the world. That’s kind of the optimal state.
Rick Archer: Yeah. Good. I suppose another analogy we could use is water, you know, which doesn’t have a form or shape. But if you put it in molds, and then freeze it, like popsicles, or something like that, then it has a particular shape. And it doesn’t have the fluidity of water rigid head, but it’s still water
Mark Gober: Right. It has a limitation or a restriction but within the same context,
Rick Archer: Yeah. One implication of what I just said, I think, is that if you get focused into boundaries, without having access to unboundedness, then you’re inevitably frustrated because you are that unboundedness. There’s beautiful quotes from Rumi, and all, about how you are this field of all possibilities. And so you know, that might be why Thoreau said “most men live lives of quiet desperation”. Because you’re stuck. And you know you’re more than that. But if you could somehow access that something more and live that well, yet enjoying life as a human being, then there’s tremendous freedom and fulfillment and lack of such frustration.
Mark Gober: Yeah, it’s a liberating transition. And I can say it because it’s so fresh for me. The materialist perspective is one of limitation inherently, and that applies to one’s own identity, as well. But maybe there is that knowing in the background, that that awareness that’s always been there that’s kind of been overlooked throughout one’s life, like it was for me, but once one taps into that, it is just an incredibly liberating experience.
Rick Archer: Yeah. And again, concrete, practical applications of this. I mean, I often mentioned the opioid epidemic, because I think it’s such a shame all these people are trying to, you know, blot out their consciousness because they’re so unhappy, or whatever it is that motivates them. And all these people are dying, but golly, I mean, if they could contrast what they’re experiencing, either on opioids or before taking them with what it’s possible to experience with what say, Ramadan experienced, or Jesus Christ, or one of these great sages, they would be so inspired by that vision of possibilities, they never be able to forget it. So the birthright of man, of human beings, is tremendous. And we’re just not really realizing it as this as a society.
Mark Gober: With instances like opioids and other drugs or anything that’s external to bring us happiness. It’s almost like a misattribution of pleasure. We attribute—let’s call it a drug—say, an addictive drug, someone takes it and then they become happy. And we say it was because of the drug. And it’s really a maybe a misinterpretation. If we use the analogy of the sun and clouds, maybe what the drug is doing is just removing some of the clouds so that you’re experiencing more of those rays of consciousness. So all the drug is doing is unlocking the filter that was already there. And we’re saying it’s because of the drug that that happened, but we have that innate capability within us.
Rick Archer: Yeah, they say that of psychedelics, that psychedelics thin the filter, or move the filter or some of the filters so that we’re experiencing a lot of stuff that’s ordinarily outside the realm of our experience. With downers you know, with opioids, it seems like it’s the opposite is the case, we’re sort of just trying to make the filter even darker so that we could just kind of become unconscious and not have to feel anything.
Mark Gober: Yeah. Or it’s dulling disturbances, if there are disturbances to the rays of consciousness, maybe they’re clouds or something else. But it’s a dulling, that allows us to experience more of the pure consciousness, so to speak. And we are saying that the opioid or whatever it is we’re taking is the cause, but it’s actually just an enabler to something that’s already there.
Rick Archer: Yeah. Okay, so I’m enjoying talking to you. And I don’t want this to end. But I also don’t have a whole big, huge list of questions in front of me. So anytime you feel inspired to say anything that we haven’t discussed, just bring it right out, and we’ll do it. Anything at the moment?
Mark Gober: Yeah, we haven’t talked about the research at the University of Virginia. And I think it’s important to talk about them because they’re a mainstream, credible, established institution. And they’ve been looking at this for 50 years. And one of the areas of study, they also look at near death experiences and altered states of consciousness. But they’ve spent a lot of time looking at over 2,500 cases of children who are reporting very distinct memories of a life that is not theirs. And in some cases, the children have memories or certain preferences that just don’t make sense based on the life that they have. And to me, the most compelling cases are the ones where the children have physical deformities, birthmarks, birth defects that are aligned with how the person died in the previous life. And where the researcher sometimes can find medical or historical records to verify that the person died in that manner. And here we have the person’s new body as a child sharing physical manifestations.
Rick Archer: Yeah, I had a friend who had a lump on the back of his head, and he claimed to have been Abraham Lincoln in his past life, but I was skeptical with him. But, yeah, that’s very interesting. Do you have any idea how that would happen, that physical deformity coming into this next life?
Mark Gober: It is not well understood. But the researchers at UVA tend to think that reincarnation is the best explanation. So if we use Dr. Kastrup’s analogy of reality being like a stream of water, and we are all whirlpools within that stream, so we’re just different modulations of consciousness, we’re having individual localized experiences. When the person dies, it’s like the whirlpool stops being a whirlpool, the water dissolves into the broader stream, it doesn’t leave the stream, consciousness doesn’t leave the stream, the consciousness continues. It’s simply transitioning into a new form. And this example of apparent reincarnation that we’re seeing with children, it might be a re-forming of a whirlpool, that’s using water from a prior whirlpool to use an analogy. So it’s like information is being transferred from one to the other. And it’s having a manifestation both mentally in terms of memories and preferences, but also physically.
Rick Archer: Yes, some people say that the next life is formed by just randomly taking a bucket out of the stream, and then all the karma in that bucket or whatever forms this life. But I tend to think that there’s a kind of a continuity from life to life and that the same water so to speak, that was forming one whirlpool goes to form the next one, and we’re stretching the metaphor here. But that, that there are traditional texts that concur with this, that there’s a kind of a record kept, and that the soul evolves from life to life and takes advantage of progress it’s made in previous lives and carries on into the next.
Mark Gober: Yeah, that notion really makes sense to me now—now that I’ve really looked at this whole area. And if we think about our physical existence, we come into the body, we don’t bring anything physical with us. And when we leave the body, according to this notion, consciousness continues. So the consciousness leaves the body, but we don’t bring anything with us from the physical world, so to speak, all we carry with us is our consciousness and the ways in which it has evolved. So this notion that we are evolving through an infinite diversity of expression in the universe, and even on a more individualistic level as individual whirlpools that become new whirlpools. It’s like there is this continuity that’s occurring and there is an evolution. That just seems to make sense to me, based on the way that consciousness is transitioning beyond this life.
Rick Archer: Yeah, makes sense to me. I’m happy to entertain any contrary opinions, but it just seems to fit.
Mark Gober: It seems to fit. And it’s what many people report who have entered altered states when people come back from a near-death experience. There is this sense that it is not the end of life. And the life review is part of the learning and evolving process. People who are highly psychic, whether it’s through mediumship, channeling, or other forms, many people through independent areas—hypnosis is another one—come back with this notion of recurring lives in different bodies and in evolution. That’s sort of a continuum.
Rick Archer: Yeah, there’s a guy named Michael Newton, you’ve probably heard of him.
Mark Gober: Yes.
Rick Archer: And he specialized in hypnotizing people back to the period between lives. And he got so much consistency between all of his different subjects that he was able to map out an agreed-upon scenario of what happens when we’re in-between lives. And I interviewed a guy who is sort of a protege of his are somewhat in the same vein, I forget the guy’s name.
Mark Gober: Was it Robert Schwartz?
Rick Archer: Yeah. Right. Thank you. But in any case, I mean, it kind of can, reinforces what we’re just saying here that there’s a sort of a, it’s like you go from one grade to the next, so to speak, as you go through your education. And it’s not like you’re a whole new person, when you go from seventh grade to eighth grade you carry on your knowledge from seventh grade, and then you build upon it and the eighth grade, and so on.
Mark Gober: Right. Right. But it’s so counter to mainstream thinking, to think that way because it’s much more expansive. And it says that something is at play here that’s beyond our genetics and beyond our environment. And that’s what basic medicine says, is that our physical form, and that who we are, that’s informed by our genetics and our environment. And that’s it. And here, there seems to be a third factor. And that’s what the University of Virginia researchers say, there might be a third factor here that’s influencing who we are in this body. And if that’s true, think about if our medicine and science and everything else, we’re missing an entire factor.
Rick Archer: Which they are. And what we’re saying doesn’t contradict genetics or the environment. It just says that your karma so to speak, you would be born into a circumstance and with, with certain genetics that would be in alignment with your karma?
Mark Gober: Exactly. We don’t have to throw out the old but it’s just incorporation of a much more expansive idea.
Rick Archer: Yeah. Yeah, I think that’s an important point. Because if we did have to throw out the old then there would be a reason for all these people to be threatened and to fight back against such notions. But if, if it’s more a matter of building upon what we already know, and just expanding it and filling in some missing pieces, then who wouldn’t want that?
Mark Gober: Right, in theory.
Rick Archer: In theory. Yeah. But I’m intrigued by, you know, the notion that you I read in that paragraph at the very beginning of the interview, that we could actually really trace back just about every problem in the world, to the fact that we don’t regard consciousness as fundamental. And that we might add that we’re not taking advantage of the fact that it’s fundamental by tapping into that resource adequately.
Mark Gober: It’s a very empowering idea because it means that everyone is entitled to this because it’s fundamental to who and what we are. Whereas we live in a world that is much more hierarchical, it makes certain things seem to be more important than others. Whereas here we’re seeing an empowering notion. So I think this is why it’s not just an intellectual endeavor, this is something that applies to everyone in their own life, and how they carry themselves in the world and how they think of themselves in relation to others. I think this notion of separation is one that is so subtle, but it’s just part of the materialist view, it’s “I’m a body that emerged randomly through matter, I have my own brain, my own consciousness. And even though I see you, as another human being, you have similar genetics to me, because we’re part of the same species. And we inhabit the same universe and planet. Beyond that, we are separate beings.” Whereas, if we are part of the same consciousness, and our eyes just show us an apparent separation, then the way we treat one another becomes paramount because we’re all the same. And when we think about things like altruism, and that’s been a hot topic in biology, it’s like, “Wait, how do we explain that we’re, we’re good to others if we’re separate, and we’re survival of the fittest.” And there are some explanations to show that it’s beneficial for genetics to help others in your gene pool. But we could also explain altruism through this notion that we’re connected as part of the same self, and by helping another you’re actually being selfish because you’re helping yourself through another form. And that idea alone, I mean, we think about all the problems we have on a daily basis and throughout the world. I think many of them stem from this notion that we are separate from each other.
Rick Archer: Yeah. And of course, all the great religious traditions say that we’re not. I mean, Jesus said, “Whatsoever you do unto the least of these you doing to me.” The Upanishads say, “thou art that,” “all this is that,” “that alone is.” And so there are so many examples of people who actually were having that experience expressing it for us. But if you don’t have—Well, Jesus also used to always say “if you have ears to hear, then you will hear” and “pearls before swine” and all that. But a lot of people just hear these concepts, and they don’t mean anything, because it doesn’t resonate with their experience, I suppose.
Mark Gober: Right. Again, I think it goes back to our perceptual systems, it looks like there’s separation out there. And if you unless you’ve had a personal mystical experience, where you felt the oneness, or unless you’ve really dug into this science or you’ve had a just a personal sense of it, it can be hard to absorb it. But that’s, to me, it’s important enough where I decided to write a book on it, I’m now speaking publicly, these were not things that were on my radar, I had no plans of writing a book or being public in any way. But I felt that it was important enough, because like Rupert Spira says, and I quote him towards the end of my book, he says something to the effect of, “If we look back 250 years from now and see that the human species hadn’t survived, it will likely be because the materialist paradigm has prevailed,” meaning this notion that consciousness comes from the brain. So that—that’s a big deal. And that’s worthy to me of spending time to talk about these topics and to write a book.
Rick Archer: Yeah, I’m placing my money on a paradigm-shifting.
Mark Gober: I like it.
Rick Archer: So you yourself, have you, in addition to really wrapping your head around this intellectually, have you gotten onto some sort of spiritual practice that you are doing consistently?
Mark Gober: I’ve tried different forms of meditation, I think living a very contemplative lifestyle, where I’m kind of pulling back to that sense of being consciousness rather than being the body, while living on a daily basis—in addition to doing that kind of thing in a silent time—that’s been the biggest practice for me, is that reminder of who and what I think I am now and what reality is, and then acting from that place is very different than what I used to do.
Rick Archer: Yeah. Well, maybe you’re a Jnana yogi. Do you know what that means?
Mark Gober: Yeah. So it’s the intellectual path. I’ve learned about it.
Rick Archer: Right and you’re certainly a bright guy. Next lifetime, I want to go to Princeton and be captain of the tennis team or maybe the pickleball team if they have one.
Mark Gober: Maybe then they will. Pickleball is fun as we talked about.
Rick Archer: Another question came in. Let me ask this one. This is Aaron Morton, from Dunedin, New Zealand. Think that’s a girl’s name. Aaron asks, What about the observer and the observed? Do they have to happen at the same time and can’t exist without the other? What do you think comes first? And how does that affect free will? I saw a cartoon the other day that said, I ordered a chicken and an egg from Amazon. I’ll let you know what happens.
Mark Gober: That’s a great question. Thank you, Aaron, for asking that. That gets to “what is time?” That’s really the fundamental question underlying what you ask, is time linear in the way that we perceive things and is causality what we think it is, does something from the past cause something in the future, and is time linear, past to present to future? In my book An End to Upside Down Thinking and just having thought about this a lot, I think there are reasons to question our perception of linear time. We certainly perceive time to be that way. And it helps us organize things in the universe. Space and time help us organize perceptions and thoughts. That’s really what they are. But when we look at things like precognition, and I’ll give an example of a study that I cite in the book, it’s been replicated many times where a person is looking at an image on the computer screen. And the image is either an arousing one like an erotic or violent image or a very peaceful one. The body seems to respond to the image seconds before the image is randomly shown by the computer, meaning the person doesn’t know what’s going to come up. And I’ve actually done this test at the Institute of Noetic Sciences, you’re sitting in front of a computer screen and you’re just hooked up to machines that are measuring either your skin or your eyes or your brain or your heart.
Rick Archer: And the researcher doesn’t know what’s gonna come up, and even the computer doesn’t know what’s gonna come up. It’s just random.
Mark Gober: It’s random. No one knows because it’s based on a random system. And yet the body seems to have a subtle but highly statistically significant response in a direction that’s consistent with the eventual picture that’s shown. Meaning that if it’s an arousing picture that comes up, the body responds in that direction before the picture is shown, versus a peaceful picture, like just a mountain, something that wouldn’t stimulate the body. There’s a correlation there. So studies like that, combined with many other studies of pre-cognition: precognitive remote viewing is something that happens a lot. And I spoke with Russell Targ a few weeks ago, he’s one of the laser physicists who ran the program, the US remote viewing program out of Stanford. And precognitive remote viewing is where people are remote viewing something far away in space, and in time, they’re seeing it before it happens. So all this is to say that our notion of linear time is put into question and if something in a future picture is affecting the past of the body, is time linear? So I think where I come out is time is not linear in the way we perceive it. And even when we look at time, from just an intellectual perspective, like many mystics have done, Rupert Spira does this all the time. He says, well think about the past. You’re thinking about it right now. The past occurs now. And the same thing with the future, the future is a thought that occurs now. So I view time and space—it’s kind of like this ever-present now and here, a simultaneity that’s occurring in a way that’s almost beyond human comprehension. So then we start to—I think it humility comes back in. And that’s where I end up with like, wait, I can’t I just can’t understand it. I don’t know. But it’s not what I perceived to be in the linear fashion that is just common sense.
Rick Archer: Yeah. I mean, Einstein told us that time is malleable and space curves, and all that. I mean, there’s relativistic time dilation, the twins paradox, one twin goes out near the speed of light and comes back. And when he gets back his other twin is really old, and he hasn’t aged much. So time is malleable in that way. But it’s a bit more of a leap to talk about predicting or seeing things that haven’t actually happened yet.
Mark Gober: It’s a hard one. And I’ve heard lots of analogies about this. And it’s kind of what you were alluding to on the topic of free will that the future isn’t fully set, but it has highly probable outcomes. And some of those outcomes are just more probable than others. And it’s sort of like this distribution of potential. And if a future event is very, very likely then maybe it can be predicted. I don’t know. It’s hard for me too, but the findings are suggesting, and I’ll quote, Dr. Jessica Utts who is the 2016 president of the American Statistics Association. She was asked by the US Congress and the CIA to examine the evidence for psychic phenomena. And she what she says in her report, this is back in 1995, direct quote, she says “using the standards applied to any other area of science, psychic functioning has been well established.” In that report, she says that precognition also appears to be real. This notion that the future is able to be known by some people beyond what chance would predict. So I’m seeing it occur over and over again, and scientists who seem to be really smart, say there’s an effect. And it’s mind-boggling.
Rick Archer: Yeah. I interviewed a guy a few months ago named Ishtar, and he had all kinds of remarkable experiences as a child, but he at one point, had this really strong feeling that his mother shouldn’t go anyplace. And he was like, begging her crying, “don’t go anyplace, you got to stay home,” and all this stuff. And he and she went out in the car someplace, and Ishtar looked to his left. And a car was like inches away from their car going about 60 miles an hour, killed his mother instantly. And he was okay. But it was this really strong precognition thing. And there are lots of stories like that.
Mark Gober: Lots of stories, and sometimes they happen in dreams, known as precognitive dreams. I mentioned a story from Dr. Larry Dossey, who wrote a book called One Mind around the same idea. But he’s personally had an example of a precognitive dream where he dreamt something that happened in the hospital where he worked, he’s an MD, in vivid detail, he dreamt it before. And he couldn’t reconcile that with the old worldview. And he ended up shifting away from materialism as a result.
Rick Archer: Yeah. Alrighty, well I hope this interview will help a few people shift away from materialism. If there are any people of that sort listening to this. I don’t know if there are, we have a pretty selected audience here. But anyway, I think the whole topic is as important as you think it is. And it’s really been fun getting to talk about it with you for a couple of hours.
Mark Gober: Yeah, well, thank you so much for having me on the show. I think even if, for your listeners who are familiar with these topics, I’ve found in talking to people that it can be validating sometimes to hear that there’s science to back what someone has experienced personally. And I’ve heard from people that they have felt just shy or timid about speaking about these topics openly. But now that there seems to be science backing what they’ve been through, maybe they’ll talk about these topics in areas or social circles where previously they wouldn’t have.
Rick Archer: Yeah, and it’s one of those things that can build momentum until the point where it just shifts, the 100 Monkey phenomenon or whatever you want to call it. And a lot of times, that kind of stuff happens quite suddenly, there’s a big shift, like the fall of the Berlin wall or the collapse of the Soviet Union, you didn’t see it coming and then all sudden. Or a lot of things. I mean, gay marriage. I mean, there are all sorts of societal shifts that kind of thing come quite suddenly after just percolating for a while.
Mark Gober: Yeah, the universe seems to work in a nonlinear fashion. And there’s a theory that I referenced in An End to Upside Down Thinking called Chaos Theory, where you have a butterfly flapping its wings in Asia. And because when you run the math, that butterfly flapping its wings, that minute shift in the air ends up causing a hurricane on the other side of the planet. So that’s how things seem to work where a tiny shift ostensibly based on our linear mind actually has a much bigger effect, more than we can actually compute using our brain.
Rick Archer: Yeah, there’s also a thing in science called a phase transition. There are many examples of it. But even boiling water is one where it can be almost 212 degrees Fahrenheit, maybe 211, doesn’t look like much is happening, and all of a sudden, it reaches 212. And boom, it starts to boil. And there are all kinds of interesting analogies about how certain percentages of people shifting in their consciousness could cause the whole society to shift once a certain critical mass has been reached.
Mark Gober: I’ve heard that theory. I’m very intrigued by it. I mean, I hope it happens in our lifetimes. That would be cool to see a shift that way. But who knows, I think, at the very least on an individual level, this can be extremely liberating.
Rick Archer: Yeah. There is an old Bengali saying, which is “if no one comes on your call, then go ahead alone.” So it’s extremely liberating and gratifying for the individual, whether or not the rest of society buys into it.
Mark Gober: That’s how I felt about this whole process is that I was going to put the book out because it really resonated with me. And I wanted to give others an opportunity to take in that information without having to do the research that I did and scrounge around and find and sift through things. And some people like that. And that’s, that’s okay by me. I think it’s a matter of finding truth for ourselves.
Rick Archer: Yeah, well, the book is well-referenced, then there’s a whole notes in the back with references to all kinds of things. So yours is a good kind of synopsis. And then, if people want to get into the details, you point them in all the various directions.
Mark Gober: Right. I wanted it to be an overview for the general public, I didn’t want it to be too scientific, while not being unscientific. So there are hundreds of citations in the back for people who want more detail.
Rick Archer: Yeah, great, alrighty. So I’ll be putting up a page on bat gap with no link to your website and a little bio of you and link to your book. And people can go there and but your website, it’s easy to remember just Mark gober.com, m-a-r-k g-o-b-e-r, and go there, or they can bounce off of the BatGap page and get to your site. So thanks, Mark. I really appreciate spending time with you.
Mark Gober: Yeah, it was fun. Thanks for having me, Rick, and thanks for all the great work you do. I think these interviews are part of helping the shift. And I know they’ve helped a lot of people. I’ve listened to many of your interviews over this period as well. So I want to thank you.
Rick Archer: Yeah. Well, I appreciate it. And I’m looking forward to your podcast, by the way, I’ve heard you allude to it several times. And you’ve interviewed a whole bunch of interesting people. It’s gonna be worked very well produced and I’ll definitely subscribe to it.
Mark Gober: Okay, thank you. I’m excited about it. Later in 2019.
Rick Archer: Good. Okay, so thanks to those who are listening who have been listening or watching and we will see you in the next one.