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Think Quantum, Be Creative

By Dr. Amit Goswami

Quantum physics says that objects are possibilities for you to choose from. Really, the primary ongoing question of your life is: are you going to choose same-old, same-old, or are you going to explore new possibilities? In other words, are you going to live in the conditioned but comfortable cocoon of your ego, or are you going to take some risk, aspire for the new, and explore your quantum consciousness? 

If you lived in a Newtonian world, as materialists claim, the question of choice between creativity and conditioning would be moot. In the Newtonian world, depending on which scientist you are talking to, you are the atom's way of knowing about itself, or your genes' way of preserving and spreading themselves. In the latter view, your genes have managed to evolve a brain from their chance mutations driven by survival necessity. At best you are a by-product of your brain, the software of your computer-brain hardware. You were programmed through your evolutionary history and environmental conditioning as you grew up. Any computer is potentially capable of doing, and perhaps better than you, what you call your creative acts. 

Fortunately for you, and for all of us, including the materialist, the real world is quantum, and so the question of choosing creativity over conditioning is real. In the real quantum world, your consciousness is the only reality and your brain is the by-product of the evolution of consciousness to make better and better representations of all the mental meaning available for you to explore in all the different contexts you can discover for your exploration. True, your past explorations produced conditioned way stations for your personality and character, but you don't have to be stuck in any one of them. You can always move on, changing your old order, replacing it with the new. 

You can easily intuit that this is an exciting journey. I submit that the meaning of our lives rest in this journey, and that we have been engaged in this journey for many lives, something like the hero of the movie Groundhog Day.

Thinking Quantum

No one has to tell you how to think according to the dictates of your conditioned way station that you call your ego. It comes to you quite naturally. You often do it quite helplessly.

Creativity is far from this; creativity is not this ego stuff. This statement does not seem to help much until we put some structure to it. To that end, let's consider the rudiments of quantum thinking about creativity.

Quantum thinking consists of realizing that creativity ultimately consists of choosing the new among the quantum possibilities of meaning, giving us a new thought, discontinuous with all previous thoughts. Quantum physics says that the process is something like this: before you choose, waves of possibilities of meaning are developing in consciousness, in your consciousness, but you are not separate from them. This is called unconscious processing.

The virtue of a theory of conscious experience, is that, with its help, we can now formally distinguish between the unconscious and the conscious. "Unconscious" is when your consciousness is not separate from the possibilities that you are processing; "conscious" refers to awareness of the subject-object split—your consciousness is separate as a subject to the objects you are experiencing. (Slight misnomer here, thanks to Freud. Unconscious really means unaware.)

Ordinary thoughts follow a stream of consciousness. They are continuous, one more or less causally following the other. A creative thought does no such thing; it follows no cause, no other thought before. The passage from all the previous thought to the new creative one is fraught with discontinuity. You become separate from your stream-of-consciousness thinking, suddenly caught in a wonderful feeling of surprise. Aha!, a new thought, a creative insight. But you have no idea where the thought came from or how it arose in your awareness. Do more quantum thinking: a creative insight is a discontinuous event of thought, a quantum leap. 

If a creative insight is a quantum leap, from what and to what is it a leap? In other words, where do creative insights come from? Perhaps you've already figured this out from the contents of your own creative ahas. Creative ideas come from the archetypal domain of our consciousness. In creativity, we take a quantum leap from the mind to the supramental.

If you catch yourself in that "aha!" moment of a creative insight, you see that your surprise not only involves the novelty of the object of your insight, but also the novelty of the subject of the insight. The "you" that is having the insight is a cosmic you; it is not the usual you with a personality, but a holistic you.

In the process of quantum leaping, your conscious identity has leaped from your ordinary state of consciousness, the ego, to a nonordinary cosmic unity of superconsciousness, which you may call your quantum self.

Realize that whereas you exist in a seemingly continuous state of arousal in your waking state, the arousal of the quantum self is quite discontinuous from this ordinary state of your consciousness. Realize that whereas you in your ordinary ego are local, quite identified with your local personality and history, your quantum self is nonlocal; its identity is the whole cosmos.

And here is the most subtle aspect of the creative experience, observed by only those few who want to investigate the very nature of this creative cosmic quantum self. The quantum self arises in awareness codependently with the new insight, the object in consciousness in its suchness.

In ordinary thinking, you think your thought; you are the head honcho—seemingly, the causal level. The thoughts seem to be secondary to you; they seem to be the caused level. What you have is a simple hierarchical relationship between you and your thoughts. But this is not so in creative thinking when there is codependency of the thinker and the thought—a codependency in which who causes what is blurred. This is a tangled hierarchical relationship.

So whereas you in your ego exist always in a simple hierarchical relationship with your thoughts, your quantum self is tangled hierarchical in its relationship with objects in consciousness.

Quantum collapse events are ideally discontinuous, nonlocal, and tangled hierarchical. Previous experiences, their memories really, corrupt this ideal situation. Since we have a habit of sifting a previously experienced stimulus through reflections in the mirror of memory, this corruption conditions our response to the present stimulus in favor of past responses. As experience accumulates, this corruption tends to dominate our meaning processing. So what we collapse tends to become conditioned—continuous, local, and simple hierarchical.

In every creative event of insight, creative people (let's call them "creatives") rise beyond their conditioning and collapse what is discontinuous, nonlocal, and tangled hierarchical. The mathematician Carl Friedrich Gauss wrote about one of his creative experiences, "Like a sudden flash of lightning, the riddle happened to be solved. I myself cannot say what was the conducting thread which connected what I previously knew with what made my success possible." The poet Rabindranath Tagore wrote about composing his first poem, "The unmeaning fragments lost their individual isolation and my mind reveled in a unity of vision." You can easily read discontinuity, nonlocality, and tangled hierarchy in such comments.

But there is no need to be vicarious about creativity. Anyone can be creative. Anyone can take a trip to the unconscious supramental and directly process the archetypes, albeit unconsciously. Do more quantum thinking. Who are you when you unconsciously process the supramental in search of the new? You are your quantum consciousness, of course. It is only convention to say that whenever there is the new in your unconscious, God comes to process for you. And when God chooses collapsing the creative insight, there is the experience of the quantum self. But think quantum again. Who is having the quantum self experience? Only you. And then there is the experience of the ego with the memory of the "aha!" and you make a mental garland of the supramental flowers of insight. Do you see what adventures you are missing when you think that only geniuses can be creative?

When we are children, we have creative experiences many times; these experiences give us the conditioned contexts of our ego identity. Learning how to be creative when we are adults is learning how to penetrate the ego conditioning when the situation arises. Learning how is not, however, a regression to childhood, negating the ego entirely. It is reclaiming again and again some of our childhood innocence, in spite of the ego, in fact, using the ego. 

is the only real play there is in a quantum universe. However, the shadows (memories) of these creative ideas in our mind-brain complex give rise to conditioning, a tendency for homeostatic repetition. Conditioning sets us in a seductive shadow play, making the world appear to be a play of dichotomies: creativity and conditioning, good and evil, consciousness and matter, activism and non-doing, and so forth. To be creative is also to penetrate this oppositional camouflage and develop the ability to integrate the dichotomies.

Amit Goswami, Ph. D. is a retired professor from the theoretical physics department of the University of Oregon in Eugene, where he had served since 1968. He is a pioneer of the new paradigm of science called "science within consciousness." Visit the author's website:

The above excerpt is from HOW QUANTUM ACTIVISM CAN SAVE CIVILIZATION By Amit Goswami, Ph.D.© 2011 by Amit Goswami, Ph.D. by kind permission of Hampton Roads Publishing Co. Get your copy at

Goswami is the author of the highly successful textbook Quantum Mechanics that is used in Universities throughout the world. His two volume textbook for nonscientists, The Physicist's View of Nature traces the decline and rediscovery of the concept of God within science.

Goswami has also written many popular books based on his research on quantum physics and consciousness. In his seminal book, The Self-Aware Universe, he solved the quantum measurement problem elucidating the famous observer effect while paving the path to a new paradigm of science based on the primacy of consciousness.

Subsequently, in The Visionary Window, Goswami demonstrated how science and spirituality could be integrated. In Physics of the Soul he developed a theory of survival after death and reincarnation. His book Quantum Creativity is a tour de force instruction about how to engage in both outer and inner creativity. The Quantum Doctor integrates conventional and alternative medicine.

Dr. Goswami began the conversation of activist thinking and activist living in the award winning documentary film, The Quantum Activist. In How Quantum Activism Can Save Civilization, Dr. Goswami continues his call-to-arms to all who believe that change is needed and necessary if we are to start leading meaningful lives.

In his private life, Goswami is a practitioner of spirituality and transformation. He calls himself a quantum activist. He appeared in the film "What the Bleep Do We Know," "The Dalai Lama Renaissance," and the award winning documentary "The Quantum Activist."

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