- Paperback: 224 pages
- Publisher: BenBella Books; Reprint edition (May 2, 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1944648658
- ISBN-13: 978-1944648657
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 192 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #16,602 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Beyond Biocentrism: Rethinking Time, Space, Consciousness, and the Illusion of Death Reprint Edition
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"Lanza and Berman employ cutting edge science to rediscover ancient truths about life and death and reconceptualize our very notions of reality and consciousness. Beyond Biocentrism is an enlightening and fascinating journey that will forever alter your understanding of your own existence."
"Beyond Biocentrism is a joyride through the history of science and cutting-edge physics, all with a very serious purpose: to find the long-overlooked connection between the conscious self and the universe around us."
Corey S. Powell, former editor-in-chief, Discover magazine
"This intriguing and provocative book will challenge some of what you know and push you into rethinking your view of scienceall the while entertaining you with a fast-paced, exhilarating narrative journey."
David J. Eicher, editor in chief, Astronomy Magazine
"[Beyond Biocentrism] offers a neurobiological point of view to help answer questions about the world around us. Lanza and Berman make the journey towards a better understanding of the role of consciousness and perception. . . . A fun read.”
Kwang-Soo Kim, professor of Psychiatry and Neuroscience, Harvard Medical School, and director, Molecular Neurobiology Laboratory, McLean Hospital
"Lanza and Berman's latest statement of their theory of biocentrism’ changes the way we think about age-old religious questions such as the origin of the universe and human immortality. Based on cutting edge work in physics and biology and explained with exceptional clarity, Beyond Biocentrism is a must-read for anyone interested in science and religion."
Ronald M. Green, professor emeritus for the study of ethics and human values, and former chairman of the Department of Religion at Dartmouth College
"Will machines ever achieve consciousness? Are plants aware? Is death an illusion? These are some of the big questions tackled in Beyond Biocentrism, which serves up a new, biology-based theory of everything that is as delightful to read as it is fascinating. Tremendously clear and lovely writinga huge achievement."
Pamela Weintraub, psychology & health editor for Aeon Magazine, former Executive Editor of Discover Magazine and former editor in chief of OMNI Magazine
About the Author
Bob Berman is the longtime science editor of the Old Farmer’s Almanac, and contributing editor of Astronomy magazine, formerly with Discover from 1989 to 2006. He produces and narrates the weekly Strange Universe segment on WAMC Northeast Public Radio, heard in eight states, and has been a guest on such TV shows as Late Night with David Letterman. He taught physics and astronomy at New York's Marymount College in the 1990s, and is the author of eight popular books. His newest is Zoom: How Everything Moves (2014, Little Brown).
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One of the 'a-ha" moments was towards the end of the book when author Lanza acknowledges the fact that plants have consciousness. I was reading that part of the book on the train on my way form work and at one moment, I said out loud (without realizing it) - "Oh my God!" An older gentlemen, a professional man, sitting in a fine, tailored suit next to my seat, was startled and he replied: "Did you miss your train exit? Was I in a way?". I just looked at him and smiled and my response was simply:" Oh, no. It is just that I learned from this book that plants have consciousness! Can you believe it? And there is a proof!".. He was so kind, he looked at me and said after a longer pause replied: "Well, it does kind of make sense - the fact that plants have consciousness...." What can I say - I repeated the same story to my yoga students I was teaching that same night.
The fact is that this book is so rich with references to ancient philosophical books, logic from ancient Greece and how all of that information is relevant today. Authors provide scientific insight on classical physics (Newton) to modern physics (quantum mechanics and relativity). For me personally, this book, every single page of it was food for my soul. Not to mention that I was delighted to learn (and accept) the premise that authors have that, after all, we are all immortal. Some of the very fortunate people on earth experience enlightenment, and this book will show every reader that there is a potential in each and every one of us to experience it. This book opened my eyes to possibilities that no one has ever presented in such a concise and beautiful way before.
There is one portion of the book where authors discuss how human beings are used to observing and exploring universe by "looking" at the skies. This book missed it by a couple of months, since it's been announced a few months back that scientists in New Mexico, for the first time, "heard" creation of the black hole. This was just an idea that Einstein had nearly 50 years ago that the events in the universe can be heard and not just seen and it was only recently that scientists could prove that events in the universe can indeed be heard by human beings. Nevertheless, this book is priceless and I am keeping it as a reference in my library. It has underlining all over the place and I just cannot stop talking about it to everyone I know.
Another wonderful thing that must be mentioned is that one author (Lanza) relies strictly on science and logic, while the other co-author (Berman) believes in a "gut" feeling in spite of the fact that he received a training as a scientist. Perhaps the part of the reason is the fact that for the period of three weeks, Mr. Berman experienced enlightenment himself. I must quote one part of the book, where Mr. Berman says: "We trust our instincts. We need no textbook to teach us to love, or to recognize danger, or to be swept into a joy by a beautiful garden. Yet when it comes to grasping the nature of existence, we fumble and stumble through insensate theories, our eyes glazed over as we hear about string theory's extra dimensions".
My personal struggle my entire life has been to reconcile my scientific mind with my deep sense of intuition. For a long time I denied myself my intuition because my rational mind always felt that there has to be a rational "proof" first before I make up my mind and fully accept my gut feeling. This book has finally thought me a lesson that I will allow my intuition to lead me first, I will trust it unconditionally and rationality will follow in its own time and show itself when it is ready. For that lesson I am so thankful to both of these authors. They are my personal heroes.
So I was intrigued when I saw this book. Basically, we’re told, everything we “know” is wrong. I don’t find that much of a leap. At various points I found this book intriguing, exciting, challenging, fulfilling, baffling, irritating and exasperating. Any book that can do all that is probably well worth reading, even if you’re not fully on board with all of the conclusions.
The first half of the book is devoted to deconstructing what we think we know about the world. We delve into quantum theory, relativity and other theories to show that time and space don’t exist, at least not as we commonly perceive them. Contrary to what we “know” with science (not to mention what we feel in our guts), “spooky action at a distance” is not only possible, it’s quite common. Science is so focused on “objectivity” that it leaves a gaping hole in our knowledge – a hole that can only be filled by losing “objectivity”. That is, to really understand and make sense of what science has been telling us, we have to look to the observer – our own subjective sense. The authors take us through experiments like the double slit experiment, as well as looking at entangled twin particles that seem to know and replicate what the other is doing even if the other is galaxies away.
Next we delve into deconstructing the “dumb random universe” theory. Simply by looking at the chances that 10 books arranged randomly on a shelf would happen to end up in alphabetical order (a probability of about 1 in 3.5 million) we can see that it stretches credibility to believe that everything in our universe has ended up the way it is simply by random chance. The chances that a galaxy like ours would randomly have a solar system with a planet that is perfectly suited for life would simply happen because of particles randomly bumping into each other is so astronomical as to be impossible. The authors demolish the idea of string theory (the idea of multiple universes) as being a “theory of everything” and, hence, a theory of nothing. And in any case, even if this dumb random universe theory were correct, no one has yet given a satisfactory explanation as to how consciousness as arisen out of all of this randomness.
The later part of the book develops the authors’ answer to these dilemmas. We have been, in fact, starting backward, trying to arrive at consciousness by studying physics and biology. We should, rather start with consciousness and then the universe makes sense. There is, according to the authors, no “out there” out there. Everything happens in our minds, so it is our minds that we need to start with. In other words, thousands of years of exploration, observation and science have led us back to where the ancient Hindus started thousands of years ago.
I’ll have to admit first off that I am no scientific expert, so I did not follow all of the science in this book. A large part of science is being able to get your head around it – to be able to visualize, even roughly, what the theories and equations are pointing to. I admit I was often rather lost in this way. The authors develop their argument step-by-step, brick-by-brick in a seemingly incontrovertible way. But perhaps because I can’t get my head around it all, I remain skeptical. For one thing, I have to question their sources. Dr. Lanza is a medical doctor, and I have a hard time believing he also has a deep and thorough knowledge of theoretical physics – those are rather big fields for any one person to master. Berman seems to be more of a science generalist who came to the field because of his own “enlightenment” experience. Many of the references seem to come from SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN and other layman’s magazines. Not to disparage those publications but, being as they are written for the lay audience, they are of necessity rather simplified. My field is psychology and I have read both academic journals and popular publications like PSYCHOLOGY TODAY. I can tell you that the latter is wildly simplified, often to the point of error.
But in any case, my real issue is that biocentrism doesn’t really solve or explain anything more than any other scientific or religious approach. It just raises more question – many of which are the same as any religion. If everything boils down to consciousness, whence did consciousness come from? Again, we’re back to an unexplainable first cause. Furthermore, whose consciousness? The authors frequently use the words “our mind”. Is this meant to imply a collective consciousness? I suppose so if we’re all part of some overarching consciousness and divisions and dualities are all illusions. (If not, we’re back to Descartes “I think, therefore I am” because I can only verify my own consciousness – perhaps I’m dreaming and making up everything else.)
If there really are no dualities and all is illusion, how did these illusions come to be? Did we each split ourselves off from this overarching consciousness? Or did this consciousness split us off? And in either case, why? What are we “here” for? And what happens after “death” (which doesn’t really exist)? Do we rejoin the larger consciousness? Will we retain any individual sense of ourselves as separate, or will we just merge into the larger whole (which, for all practical purposes is annihilation)? Biocentrism doesn’t answer these fundamental questions any better than “God did it” or “turtles all the way down”.
Moreover, if everything is consciousness and everything else is illusion, that renders life itself meaningless. If there is no death, then it doesn’t matter that people are dying of hunger or war or lack of medical care – they are just rejoining this larger consciousness sooner. In fact, we should all just lay down and die. What difference does suffering and evil and oppression make anyway? While I don’t buy into any of the Western religions, I do admire them for struggling with the meaning of life and death, good and evil, struggle and altruism.
Nonetheless, I am very glad I read this book and I have passed it on to other people and look forward to discussion on the issues raised. I was, as noted, very challenged by this book and it has opened up new possibilities. The book is well written and intriguing, and, despite my skepticism, not easily brushed off or dismissed. Incidentally, I have not read the first book. I would like to go back and see if that book answers any of the questions raised here. Whether you agree, disagree, or simply remain skeptical, I recommend reading this book for some very satisfying food for thought.