In an earlier, wiser age, what today we call ‘Theories of Everything’ used to be called ‘religions’ or ‘philosophies’ and their proponents were pious thinkers or ‘philosophers’ rather than ‘physicists’. Simple philosophical reflection tells us that without prior awareness of a universe of things, there can be no theory about anything - let alone a theory of ‘everything’. It is only because we insist on regarding awareness itself as a thing - or as an evolutionary ‘property’ only of certain types of thing (biological organisms in particular) that we are blinded to the truth of an age-old ‘Theory of Everything’ – namely that Awareness itself IS everything. Not awareness OF some thing or other, nor simply human subjective awareness - ‘my’ awareness or ‘yours’ - but Awareness as such, capitalised.
The philosophy that ‘Awareness is Everything’ and its converse - namely that ‘Everything is Awareness’ - is what I term ‘The Awareness Principle’. This Principle challenges every search for a ‘Theory of Everything’ grounded purely in physics, and aiming to find it in the form of some super-complex mathematical relation, of matter, energy, space and time. For as the philosopher Martin Heidegger noted, the nature and presuppositions of physics are not themselves the possible object of any possible physical experiment but are something that needs to be thought through meta-physically - philosophically. If we even begin to think the nature of physics philosophically we see immediately that, far from being evidentially, experimentally or ‘empirically’ grounded, it ignores the most self-evident, ‘empirical’ starting point of scientific inquiry – which is not the objective existence of a universe of matter, energy space and time but subjective awareness of it.
I use the term ‘Awareness’ (capitalised) rather than “our awareness” deliberately - because The Awareness Principle also challenges the presupposition that awareness is necessarily the private property of separate bodies or beings. Instead it proposes that all bodies and beings are but individualised shapes, patterns and qualities taken by Awareness as such, that beings only perceive each other as ‘bodies’ in the first place within fields of awareness - and do so according to the particular way their individual awareness fields are perceptually and conceptually patterned. ‘Concepts’ themselves are not just ideas in our heads and minds – detached from the universe they seek to represent. Instead they are but the conceptual expression of highly individualised and species-specific field-patterns of awareness – patterns that shape each species’ and each individual’s entire perception of the universe, not least our own scientific conceptions of it and theories ‘about’ it.
This brings us to a new and revolutionary philosophical aspect of The Awareness Principle, namely the understanding it brings that Awareness is not something localised in our heads or in individual organs or organisms, but has an essentially non-local or field character. Having the character of an unbounded spatial and temporal field, Awareness is - in principle - irreducible to and unexplainable by any thing or things we are aware of as (localised) phenomena within this field, any localised objects and any localised ‘subjects’ of awareness too. Thus to even seek to ‘explain’ awareness as the product of some localisable thing we are aware of (the human brain for example) makes no more sense than to see dreaming - the entire field of our dreaming awareness - as something reducible to, caused or explicable by some particular, localisable thing that we happen to dream of within this field. Even if we happened to repeatedly dream an image of a brain, who would even ‘dream’ of taking this as evidence that dreaming as such is a property of this particular dreamt object? Yet this is the essential error of materialistic body- and brain-based accounts of ‘mind’, ‘consciousness’ and awareness, forgetting as they do that the brain itself is but one localisable phenomenon within the larger field of human waking awareness - and that this field too is in principle irreducible to any one Thing that appears within it.
The principle that awareness has a field character, and therefore cannot in principle be reduced to or explained by anything we are aware of within that field, is one of the basic axioms or ‘first principles’ of ‘The Awareness Principle’. Its most essential ‘first principle’ is that Awareness as such - and not any thing we perceive or conceive of within it, is itself necessarily the ‘First Principle’ of the universe – being the precondition for our awareness of anything and everything, and thus the precondition too for any possible ‘Theory of Everything’. Understanding this, the only possible ‘Theory of Everything’ is The Awareness Principle itself - the understanding that Awareness is Everything and Everything is Awareness. For just as there can in principle be nothing ‘outside’ space, so can aso there be nothing outside Awareness - no ‘Thing’ to study or invent ‘Theories’ about. The Awareness Principle simply recognises Awareness as that which is in principle be the sole or absolute reality - leading to a Theory which much necessarily understand all Things as manifestations or materialisations of Awareness.
The Awareness Principle achieves this understanding only by undermining a principal unquestioned presupposition of both scientists and academic philosophers - namely that Awareness is necessarily the property of separate, localised beings or bodies. Yet as long as religionists too, cling onto the belief that ‘God’ is some sort of being ‘with’ awareness, rather than being identical with Awareness (an age-old Indian religious philosophy) they fall into the same trap as - and therefore fall prey to - the atheistic arguments of scientists such as Richard Dawkins or philosophers such as Daniel Dennett. For it is only because they also cling to the misconception that Awareness is necessarily the private property of beings in the form of biological organisms or organs – the brain in particular - that they so firmly believe ‘God’ to be a mere figment of human beings and of the evolutionary biology of their brains.
All current scientific ‘Theories of Everything’ are essentially the same Theory – the Theory that the universe consists solely of ‘Things’. Within the terms of this unstated ‘Theory of Everything’, and in contrast to The Awareness Principle, ‘Things’ themselves are necessarily seen as preconditions for sentience, consciousness or awareness, awareness is necessarily seen as a product or by-product of some Thing, and effectively reduced to a ‘Thing’ in itself. It is in the light of such a grand, dogmatic unstated and above all unquestioned ‘Theory of Everything’ that we can truly heed the words of Martin Heidegger: “Science IS the new religion.” For all would-be physical-scientific ‘Theories of Everything’ amount to nothing more than a religiously held belief that the universe consists of nothing more than ‘Things’ - thus totally forgetting that Awareness of Things is prior in principle to any possible Theory of them, and that therefore Awareness as such cannot in principle be reduced to or explained by any ‘Thing’ whatsoever. Such “in principle” recognitions express the essence of ‘The Awareness Principle’, together with the consequent affirmation that The Awareness Principle itself is the sole basis for a ‘Theory’ of that which ultimately lies behind ‘Everything’ - for it is the only Theory that recognises that any and every ‘Thing’ is essentially a phenomenon ‘emerging’ from and within fields of awareness, and ultimately from within that unbounded and infinite field of awareness which alone deserved to be recognised and religiously revered as ‘God’ – and must be if God is not to be reduced to one being among others we are aware of. Awareness as such itself is the not only the source of what we call matter and energy, but is also the essence of what we call ‘soul’ and ‘spirit’, indeed the essence of God as such. All this is anathema to a not only to all forms of religion whose ‘Theory of Everything’ reduce God to one being or phenomenon among others, but also to that science, now elevated to the status of a religion, that has forgotten the very meaning of its name - ‘physics’.
The term ‘physics’ derives the Greek physis – means to ‘emerge’, just as the term ‘phenomenon’ comes from the Greek phainesthai – meaning ‘to show itself’, and the word ‘existence’ has the root meaning of ‘to stand out’ or ‘ex-ist’. The Awareness Principle whilst indeed a philosophical ‘Theory of Everything’, is also one that at the same time understands all Things as physical phenomena in the truest, most radical or ‘root’ sense of these words - as things that can in principle only be seen to ‘emerge from’, ‘show themselves’ and ‘stand out’ (‘ex-ist’) within Awareness as such - understood as the very context or field from and within which they do so. ‘A’ for Awareness is truly the missing factor and letter in that most famous Einsteinian equation: e = mc2. For not even such a thing as ‘light’, whose speed is a basic and invariable factor in this equation, would be visible were it not for the invisible light of awareness in which alone all things, including ‘physical’ light itself, can emerge, show themselves and ex-ist or stand out. To explain such phenomena as light itself in purely mathematical terms as abstract ‘quanta’ is not to bring science closer to the underlying reality of the universe, but infinitely further away from what is immediately evident to each and all of us - namely that we could not be aware of anything, let alone develop a ‘Theory of Everything’ without the simple experiential fact of us being first of all aware of a universe of things. And just as no objects are perceptible or even conceivable without a space surrounding them, nor is our awareness of anything or in space conceivable without a spacious field of awareness. The recognition that space and time themselves are not essentially ‘objective’ or ‘physical’ dimensions of the universe but innate dimensions of subjective awareness was bequeathed to Western Philosophy centuries ago by Immanuel Kant - and much, much earlier by Indian religious philosophy. When will our modern physicists, with their would-be ‘Theories of Everything’ begin to heed this heritage, instead of priding themselves on the ‘objectivity’ of their Theories and denying the essentially subjective nature of all experiencing and of ‘Everything’ we can possibly experience? In this respect, not only today’s scientists with their crude conceptions of the universe, but also their current religionist enemies, with their crude and unquestioned concepts of God, would both do well to be reminded of such already clear affirmations of ‘The Awareness Principle’ as I cite below. These affirmations stem neither from priests, physicists or purely academic ‘philosophers of mind’ but from the most pious thinkers of 10th century India, and give expression to truths already recognised by other sages centuries before them:
“… the being of all things that are recognised
in awareness in turn depends on awareness.”
“… space is inherent in the soul as true subjectivity which is at once empty of objects and which also provides a place in which objects may be known.”
“Every appearance owes its existence
to the light of awareness.
Nothing can have its own being
without the light of awareness.”