Trnscript for Dr. Bernardo Kastrup – The Mental Nature of Reality

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human experience is in session my name

is Xavier katana we’ve got an amazing

program planned for you guys today so

sit back have a drink and enjoy this

conversation my guest for today is dr.

Bernardo Kastrup Bernardo Castro is a

scientist philosopher and author whose

work looks at the nature of our reality

he has PhDs in both philosophy and

computer engineering and has worked in

such prestigious places as the European

Organization for Nuclear Research and

Phillips Research Laboratories Bernardo

has authored a number of books including

the idea of the world a multiple

multidisciplinary argument for the

mental nature of reality his work has

also been published in Scientific

American magazine he has penned a number

of academic papers on topics ranging

from self transcendence to brain

function impairment Bernardo it’s a

pleasure welcome to hxp thanks for

having me pleasures mine

we’re know thank you so much for being

here I know that we had a little bit of

a miscommunication on the times it’s

very late for you where you are but I’m

really glad that you’re here with us

today a lot of really interesting

material that you’re you’re talking

about but please give us a small

introduction to how you got to this to

studying this information and you know

how you got to this point well my whole

life since the very early times has been

influenced by science

worked at CERN in my youth as you

mentioned my early 20s I have been in

those early days a sort of materialist

by default because I was just in that

environment my whole life and I never

really questioned that that view of the

world that there is only matter in mind

is so much sort of a phenomenon of

certain arrangements of matter a

secondary thing and then at some point

it was in early 21st century very early

like I don’t know 1919 years ago I read

a paper by David Chalmers in which he

talks about the hard problem of

consciousness and basically what he says

is you know there is nothing about the

properties of matter in terms of which

we could deduce how it feels to see a

color how it feels to have a bellyache

how it feels to fall in love there is

this arbitrary base between the domain

of matter in the domain of mind he

called it the hard problem of

consciousness and death sunk in I really

got that and I realized that our

mainstream view of the nature of reality

is untenable and I started looking for a

more reasonable alternative so I mean it

was a question of science I mean how do

you how do you determine the nature of

reality it seems like such a big task

yeah it’s it’s much more difficult in

science science is about the behavior of

nature when you do an experiment you are

basically asking nature how it behaves

under certain conditions and nature

replies by manifesting that behavior so

by doing these experiments and and

creating predictive models about how

nature behaves you can develop

technology and you don’t need to know

anything about how things really are

in and of themselves apart from their

behavior so science doesn’t need to

philosophy and it has this this way of

answering questions in a definite way

you know if you say that the behavior of

nature will be a instead of B and you do

an experiment and it turns out to be B

then the question is settled now the

nature of reality is something that you

cannot ask directly to

it’s an inferential process you try to

guide your guesses about what nature

really is based on internal logical

consistency in other words you can’t

contradict yourself in your argument

based on parsimony it don’t wants to

postulate all kinds of entities and

things that can’t be proven so you want

a parsimonious theory of nature and it

has to be empirically adequate you

cannot have a theory about the essence

of nature that contradicts nature’s

behavior as verified through science so

it’s so much more difficult enterprise

so with science you’re using numbers in

math and if doing experiments based on

the scientific method and with

philosophy what are you doing exactly

simplify it for me philosophy is a way

to think carefully about the hypothesis

you put forward make sure that you’re

not contradicting yourself in your

argument making sure that your argument

is clean and ultimately what decides

what the best philosophical hypothesis

is are those three criteria destination

you have to be logical logically

consistent parsimonious and empirically

adequate okay so and one of the main

points that you mentioned in your work

is what you call the defense of what in

the West is called the philosophy of

idealism what is the philosophy of

idealism and how how does it relate to

reality the vibrations of a membrane of

pure consciousness to help you

understand what idealism is yeah

idealism is is the idea is the notion

that all there is is mind that all

nature is mental that doesn’t mean that

all there is is your personal mind alone

that’s not what is being said according

to my favorite formulation of idealism

they want to have been articulating for

a while there is a world outside beyond

ourselves but that world is mental it is

of the same nature of the same essence

as our conscious in their lives and it

is the interaction of that mental world

outside the

transpersonal processes and our personal

processes when we observe the world that

that create the images on the screen of

perception that we call the physical

world with colors with shapes with

particular behaviors that can be modeled

and predicted by science and so on and

the advantage of this this way of

regarding the world is that unlike

mainstream physical is more materialism

let’s call it materialism you don’t have

this fundamental transition between non

mind in other words matter and mind this

transition is arbitrary and that’s the

whole difficulty of explaining

consciousness my deal isn’t suffer from

that problem because it says well there

is really a world out there but it’s

mental and it interacts with my personal

mentality upon observation and creates

this new mental qualities like color

shape melody flavours and so on and so

forth and there is no fundamental

problem in that because you know that

certain mental processes impact and

influence other types of mental

processes is trivial our thoughts

influence our emotions all the time they

may even create emotions and our

emotions in turn influence our thoughts

as well they may even lead us to down

certain paths of thinking so for

idealism this is what creates perception

is an interaction between my personal

mental processes and transpersonal

mental processes out there that

interaction creates the qualities of

perception in other words the physical

world itself hmm okay okay so I mean

Bernardo do you do you think it’s

possible to over philosophize things in

and their relationship to your life I

mean is it possible to sort of talk in

circles in a sort of armchair

philosopher way totally I mean there

there have been many instances of Dave’s

in history and I think you don’t need to

look around very hard to find instances

of that I personally think that


is sort of over philosophizing

phenomenon because it postulates this

this this this kind of substance that’s

supposed to be non mental even though

our entire lives or entire reality is

purely mental we don’t have access to

anything beyond the mental but you can

overflow suffice in terms of ethics you

can over philosophize in terms of

metaphysics you can go down certain

rabbit holes that if you are not careful

you get lost in and you never emerge

back yeah so you know in 2015 you wrote

a blog post about how your ideas are

sometimes conflated with the notion of

pens psychism let’s let’s define pans

like ism for our audience what is the

meaning of pen psychism

i oversimplify it because there are many

versions of paint psychism and i know it

to take half an hour to go through them

so if there are philosophers listening

to this forgive me for not being

extremely accurate and precise but in

general terms pen psychism is the idea

that all matter is conscious that even

strictly speaking this is called micro

pen psychism or never mind the idea is

that everything that is material has

consciousness at the fundamental level

in other words consciousness is not

magically created by certain

arrangements of matter in your brain

consciousness is always there as an

intrinsic fundamental property of all

matter so pencil case would say

consciousness is in all matter

I would describe idealism as stating all

matter is in consciousness in other

words the other way around I think

matter what what will refer to when we

use the word matter is a particular

category of experience in other words

perceptual experience there are other

categories like thoughts imagination

feelings emotions and so forth

intuitions one particular category of

conscious processes is what we call


so matter is in consciousness as in my

view although not in your personal

consciousness alone a kind of universal

transpersonal consciousness fen cyclists

instead they would say that the

structure of matter you know subatomic

particles atoms molecules tissues and so

forth that structure we see in matter is

the structure of consciousness itself so

for pants I cast my mind emerges through

the combination of all kinds of tiny

little minds in the subatomic particles

atoms and molecules that constitute my

brain personally I think this is as bad

philosophy as as materialism because you

have another very hard problem or

impossible problem which is to explain

how independent minds of different

little independent subatomic particles

combine to constitute this unitary

conscious point of view that I call

myself I think that problem is insoluble

and idealism does not suffer from that

problem okay let’s define materialism as

well since we brought that up a couple

times now please materialism is the idea

that everything that truly exists at a

fundamental level is matter matter is

not conscious in and of itself only

certain arrangements of matter in the

form of nervous systems biological

nervous systems are conscious and that

consciousness itself emerges from this

certain arrangements of matter that is

materialism ok ok so now let’s get into

the realm of consciousness how do we

define what’s something that has

consciousness is because I mean

certainly something in the animal

kingdom and that self-actualization of

awareness makes does that make me more

conscious than say a monkey or a whale

or a zebra yeah depends on what you mean

there are several definitions of

consciousness when I use the word

consciousness I I mean what philosophers

call phenomenal consciousness and that’s

the very the most simple the simplest

type or the simple definition you are

phenomenally conscious if there is some

it is like to be you if being new feels

like something anything then you are

phenomenally conscious in other words in

this definition consciousness is equated

with experience if you experience

something then you are conscious but it

doesn’t require higher level mental

functions like cognition or conscious

metacognition and all those other things

that there are other definitions one

that’s very popular still in psychology

today one definition of consciousness

requires that not only you must have

experience in addition to that you must

know that you have experiences in other

words you must be able to reflect on

your own experiences upon introspection

and they define it that way because you

need this ability to reflect in order to

report to someone else or even to

yourself that you are having an

experience otherwise you’re like my cat

you’re experiencing but you’re not

telling yourself or when I’m

experiencing this now I’m experiencing

this now of this food I’m experiencing

the Sun on my fur it animals will

probably not have that but I use

consciousness as a synonym of simple raw

experience so for example if I go and

touch a hot stove and get burned then I

have have this awareness that you know

because I went and touch this the stove

now I’ve been burned that actualization

of that experience and being able to be

aware of that makes me conscious more

than something else that would make you

meta conscious so not only do you have

the experience of the pain of the burn

you also know that you have the

experience of the burn and that brings

conscious to another consciousness to

another level in this case consciousness

is kind of a turning in upon itself in

order to examine its own experiential

contents and then you might say well

that makes me more conscious than an

animal that gets burned feels the pain

but doesn’t think about that in terms of

a subject

that’s that is undergoing that

experience the animal doesn’t think of

itself in that in that way and then you

might say well it’s less conscious it’s

it’s it’s up to for choice what one

means by more or less conscious okay so

you know when we’re when we’re

establishing different narratives of you

know these sort of fundamental questions

of reality like you know what am i what

are we what is the nature of things you

know is there a god I mean these these

big questions how do we start to look at

those questions in a rational way I

think this is very personal I think

every person has a different motivation

a sort of different angle of attack to

approach these questions for me these

questions have been very fundamental

since since an early age what is the

nature of life it’s a very strange

condition isn’t it I mean we are

temporary organisms that are constantly

fighting the second law of

thermodynamics which says that there

should be always increasing disorder and

we construct order through metabolism

it’s a very strange condition and what

happens after we die or whether what

guides our ethics what are the values

that guide our ethics and are they

arbitrary or not is there a metaphysical

basis for all that I think different

people will be interested in different

ones amongst these questions and

approach it in a different way for me

the very meaning of life is to ask

myself these questions and attempts

answers so if if consciousness is

something that is independent of the

brain then then is it I mean what

happens at the moment of death does

consciousness move forward or you know I

guess no one can really say right yeah

well I am NOT a dualist I don’t think

there is consciousness and then there is

this material brain that interacts with

consciousness in some way I think that’s

not parsimonious I think what the brain

is is the image the outer appearance of

a certain configuration of consciousness

of certain conscious

they seize on they are observed from the

outside they look like a brain or a body

if you look at me you see a body but

from the inside it’s my conscious in

their life I think my conscious in their

life presents itself to you in the form

that we call a living biological body

and I think this process that my body is

an image of is a sort of a split of

complex or a split of personality if you

will an outer is the technical term of

universal consciousness I think life is

the image of a kind of universal

dissociation in consciousness in which

consciousness seemingly

splits itself off in different Co

conscious centers of experience so to

say I think that’s what life life is

it’s the appearance of that process and

if that is correct then death is the end

of the dissociation it’s the

reintegration of your inner life with

the inner life of the universe as a


I think my best guess is that this is

what happens hmm okay I mean you

mentioned dreams a bit in your work and

you know I I find it interesting that we

live this this life and dreams and you

know we we wake up and it feels so real

right so I mean what’s to say that this

isn’t just a dream we’re in this sort of

dream reality that feels very real and

when we die we just sort of wake up yeah

I think that’s a great analogy I mean

dreams compellingly demonstrates two

things one it demonstrates that mind

alone is perfectly capable of creating

this entire scenario that we find

ourselves in it can alone create

everything sense of touch sense of

vision everything and I have had a few

lucid dreams in my life in which I ask

myself I knew I was dreaming and I asked

myself is there any way I can tell

simply by looking at this dream world

around me

that that it is a dream is the

resolution worse is the concreteness not

as high and and every time the answer

was no it’s perfectly calm convince’

belitz very compelling I couldn’t tell a

difference I only knew that I was

dreaming because of continuity I knew

that I had gone to bed and I knew that

the world I was in was not part of the

world where I normally live so that’s

the first thing that dreams compellingly

demonstrates the other thing that dreams

demonstrate is that mind can dissociate

itself in two parts an experiencer in

the world that is experience it because

when you’re dreaming it’s your mind

that’s generating the entire scenario of

the dream you know the mountains the Sun

the streets there are the people the

buildings everything is generated by

your mind but you are dissociated from

it in the sense that you don’t recognize

that part of your mind as your own you

think it’s something external that is

creating that environment or even a

physical world out there so mind is

perfectly capable of not only creating

this entire scenario but also of

convincing itself that it is not doing

it it’s something outside and of course

it immediately raises the question might

this be what’s happening right now I

think as an analogy yes this is what’s

happening right now I certainly don’t

think it is literally what’s happening

right now if this is a dream then it’s

it’s like a dream of the kind we have at

night but it’s a whole other order of

dreaming okay I mean yeah because you

know people have are having their own

interpretations of their experiences and

it all kind of coagulates together right

I mean it it’s moving in this this

weaving thread of collective experience

so you know how how do we individuate

those those experiences and the the

consciousness of someone else and mine I

mean how could all of that be connected

yeah because this dream is not yours as


Xavier is in my view dissociated complex

of a broader consciousness and it’s that

broader consciousness that is

synchronizing the dream as an idealist

I’m not saying that there isn’t anything

out there that we all seem to inhabit

something beyond ourselves that we

cannot control with our evolution just

by imagining it to be different and

creating this environment where we are

all inside but I think that this thing

out there is mental as well it’s

fundamentally experiential and we are

immersed in this common ocean of

experience if you will all interacting

with the same common environment of

experiences around us which presents

itself to us as the physical world and

because we are all inserted in this

experiential milieu this experiential

environment that surrounds all of us

that’s the reason why we think we share

the same world and I think we do share

the same world but it’s a mental world

physicality is just the appearance of

that world upon observation and if you

allow me to pursue this a little further

there has been very interested there is

a one paper from 1994 a study of the

dream life of patients with dissociative

identity disorder used to be called

multiple personality disorder in which

the psyche or the mind of a person

splits off into this multiple disjoint

identities which claim to have different

ages sometimes different sexes in our

different histories and so on and the

the researcher wanted to investigate

whether these people dreamed differently

and it turns out that for about a

quarter that’s what they could

demonstrate for about a quarter of the

subjects of the study they would have a

dream in which different alters of that

person different personalities would

experience the same dream from a

different point of view so if in the

dream you were talking to somebody else

waking I would say well I dreamed about

talking to a girl this age and then when

the other alter assumes control of the

person in waking life the other outer

would relate the same dream but but from

the other perspective from the

perspective of the girl that the the

previous one was talking to there is an

example in which six alters were


each one of them experiencing the same

dream the same environment very

consistent from different point of view

and what this shows again sort of

compelling me if you believe this is

that one mind can dissociate into mode

or concurrently conscious centers of

experience that share the same dream and

yeah I don’t need to pursue this further

for you to see where I’m going with this

yeah I mean it’s such a puzzle because

it seems like we have such little

information about how the mind works I

mean the human visual spectrum is in our

ability to see in the visual spectrum is

like seven percent so if we’re not we’re

not perceiving everything that’s there

how can we how can we determine what the

larger picture is is there a place where

we will ever be able to do that so I’m

trying to say no I don’t think so

no I think the best we can hope for is

to have a theory of nature that is

closer to the truth can we really get to

the truth probably not because we see we

are rearing certain within the

environment that we want to make sense

of we are not contemplating it from the

outside we are living beings in this

universe it’s very difficult to explain

the universe from an internal

perspective for the same reason that

it’s very difficult to explain anything

and as you can step out of it and

contemplate it objectively so I don’t

think we will ever get to the ultimate

truth at least not in life but I do

think we know enough today to have a

much better theory of nature of much

better metaphysics if you will than the

metaphysics of materialism I think the

metaphysics of materialism is glaringly

untenable inelegant

don’t parsimonious and we certainly can

do a lot better than that already now

and I think that’s all we can hope for

but it’s already an enormous step

because the implications of ideal is

contrasted with materialism can lead us

to live life in a very very different

way than we do today

okay okay so let’s get into that let’s

get into how this can change or affect

the way that we live our lives I mean

what are some of the practical ways in

which we could apply some of these

philosophies and our understanding of

the nature of reality to our everyday

life well you know when when if you are

a neuroscientist and you are doing a

brain scan of a subject and the subject

is having experiences and you’re

scanning the brain of that person so the

the neuroscientist will see just

patterns of brain activity but the

subject itself is leaving an inner

experience which can be very significant

and the correspondence of that from the

neuroscientists perspective is just some

patterns of brain activity

if idealism is correct then the physical

world around us the entire inanimate

universe is like that brain scan it is

also the outer appearance of the entire

universes in their life and if that is

true then everything we see around us

has a meaning it’s not the end it’s not

the way it simply is and you stop there

now it’s it’s pointing to something in

the same way that the patterns of brain

activity of a person correspond to the

persons in their emotions feelings

imagination intuition and so on it’s an

indication it’s pointing to that in

their life that brain scan and my

contention is would be then that the

entire inanimate universe in the exact

same way is pointing at something beyond

itself and in that sense it’s symbolic

and it’s it’s it can be interpreted and

life gains a whole new meaning if you

start looking upon this this way that

life is a story too

be interpreted for meaning to be derived

from it it’s very different than

materialism which basically says well

matter is just what it appears to be

that’s the end of the story it’s not

symbolizing anything it’s not pointing

at anything it’s just who it is and

therefore the only possible meaning of

life is to accumulate material goods

because matter is all there is right

sure it’s really fascinating to me I

mean I I I wonder about you know the

brain being this pattern connecting

machine and I wonder a lot about you

know how much meaning I’m giving to the

events around me and I’m looking at

those interpretations and yeah I tried

to identify what life is telling me but

most of the time I just don’t get it you

know I mean I just I I mean sometimes

I’ll get a clue of it and then only to

realize it later you know like okay this

was what it was pointing at

so I mean surely you’ve heard of Carl

Jung synchronicity certainly I’m writing

a book about him now I was just writing

it to half an hour ago okay perfect

that’s a synchronicity right so I mean

so I mean how do you classify something

like that into the larger picture like

what is controlling these

synchronicities what is creating this

these events around me am i doing that

or is it something higher is it a

different part of me like a super

consciousness or you know what is that

depending on what you call you right

what what your self-image is what your

sense of identity is if we identify just

with these personal egos then it’s not

you it’s there is something out there

transpersonal that is coordinating the

events of the world and it may not be

doing this in a deliberate or

premeditated way it may be doing it and

I’m in an instinctive way in the same

way that according to Jung the

unconscious works the unconscious for

Jung is not a rational planning agency

or an hour an agent

it’s just unfolding according to certain

patterns that are a priority that are

primitives they are there before

anything else and he called it the

archetype so

archetypes are the instincts of the

collective unconscious so to say and if

idealism is correct if what I just

explained before is correct I think it’s

fair to equate mind at large this

transpersonal mind beyond ourselves to

equate that with Jung’s collective

unconscious and in that sense it would

operate the same way you can you can see

it manifesting itself from two different

points of view one when you’re dreaming

and you have a deep archetypal dream

what you’re seeing is the manifestation

of the these archaic archetypes and they

they sort of coordinate the imagery of

your dream and then you can go ahead and

say well then waking life is sort of

that as well because according to Jung’s

synchronicity idea

it is the archetypes that are sort of

organizing the events in the physical

world as well at a non-local at a

non-local level so to say and the way he

positions it to say is to say that we

know from quantum physics and I have

been very careful about using this word

as it has been so abused but I’ll be

precise and rigorous according to

quantum physics at the most fundamental

level of nature nature is not

deterministic individual quantum events

do not follow necessarily from certain

causes they’re random and the laws of

physics begin to apply only at a

statistical level so if you if you have

many events then at that level

statistically patterns begin to emerge

which we call the laws of nature but at

an individual event at that level it’s

apparently random and what Jung and

Wolfgang Pauli postulated was that well

those apparently random events are not

really random they are being determined

by this non-local agency that will

unfold according to certain archaic

patterns that he called the archetypes

and it’s the same archetypes that are

coordinating your dream life and even

some of your impulsive

behave your state we mean visions and so

forth so in your book the idea of the

world’s you you get into new your death

experiences right so can you talk a

little bit about some of the

commonalities of what these people are

experiencing at the moment of death for

them and it you know can we create a

pattern with what they see

after they die I’ve never had a

near-death experience I have seen many


I think it’s undeniable that there are

common themes the basic themes of a

near-death experience are shared are

common but the imagery through which

these things are presented varies widely

an Indian might see Krishna my Catholic

might see Jesus an atheist might see his

dead grandfather you know in the imagery

that symbolizes the can the core of the

experience vary but I think the core

those basic themes are the same I think

one thing to keep in mind is that if we

entertain the possibility that people

who have an NDE are actually in some

kind of realm in some kind of mental

realm I would say we have to keep in

mind that that alternative realm does

not necessarily comply with the

regularities of ordinary life in other

words that realm does not need to be so

seemingly objective as the physical

world seems to be completely

disconnected from our inner feelings or

our expectations or beliefs and so forth

maybe an NDE realm is not like that

maybe it does adjust itself to to some

extent conform to the expectations of

the experiencer in other words the

experience is as much a function of

whatever is out there as it is of what

the experience

brings to it and different people bring

different expectations reliefs and so

forth to the experience changing it I

think that’s basically what’s going on

but for me the most interesting thing is

not the end E’s themselves it is that

there is a consistent pattern

correlating events in which you have

impaired brain activity or brain

function with an experience of an

expansion of consciousness it just

happens with NDEs you know we have a

cardiac arrest blood is not circulating

in your brain metabolism you stop in

seconds but you also have psychedelics

which reduce pre activity and leads to a

major expansion of consciousness you

have certain breathing techniques that

cause you to sort of pass out because

you get hyper oxygenation in your blood

and your blood vessels in your brain

constrict and you don’t have enough

oxygen in the brain you pass out but

then you have fantastic experiences of

transcendence people with brain damage

suffered during surgery or brain damage

suffered in in war they are much more

they tend to have this transpersonal

experience is much more than ordinary

people who have not been heard you have

these acquired savant syndrome the list

goes on every must I wrote an article

for Scientific American listening the

whole gamut and to me that’s the most

interesting thing that this widely

different phenomena which have only one

thing in common which is that they

impair ordinary brain function that they

all can be associated with an experience

of awareness expansion yeah I love it

man it’s almost like you know you’re

reading my mind just because that was

the next thing I was gonna bring up was

you know your paper self-transcendence

and correlates with brain function

impairment and I wanted to talk about

mystical experiences and and how they

relate to you know and you you just said

it i but also with psychedelics

something that i’ve heard is that you

know it’s as if psychedelics are just

moving an aspect of the veil that we’ve

put up ourselves you know so it’s not as

if they’re adding something it’s it’s as

if they’re lifting a filter that we’ve

ourselves created in our beliefs and our

paradigms you know however we see the

the nature of reality so you know how do

you think psychedelics are affecting our

philosophical perspective on the nature

of reality can answer these are two

levels one is pretty vanilla

I think psychologists who study this

would not disagree with what I’m about

to say we don’t leave reality as it as

it is as it is out there presenting

itself to us what we live is a projected

in their narrative we tell ourselves a

story about reality which we project out

onto the world and that’s actually what

our experience of life becomes that

narrative is reflected back to us so we

see what we expect to see what we tell

ourselves we are seeing we live a story

not what’s really out there so it’s it’s

so fulfilling and clearly psychedelics

will disrupt that that mental process

that no before mode Network which is a

tan area but also a process in your

brain which has this internal narrative

making thing going on psychedelics

disrupt that by by drastically reducing

brain activity in the default mode

Network but if you you can even go

beyond that because I think in a

psychedelic trance what your experience

goes far beyond seeing the world for

what it really is we see other worlds

other realms things that cannot be

described in words because there are

just no references in our culture that

we could rely on in order to communicate

that in their experience people have to

experience it themselves and this second

level I think is more interesting and I

think what’s happening there is that

there is a reduction of the

disassociative mechanism that

characterizes life I mean I said a while

ago to you that I think life is the

image of a dissociative process that

sort of splits us off from universal

consciousness at least apparently and if

that’s the case then you know normal

ordinary brain activity is also part of

that image so if you reduce running fair

brain activity you are impairing the

dissociative mechanism means in some

instances and what does it mean for

dissociation to reduce or to be impaired

it means that there is an expansion of

awareness awareness is being it’s being

constricted by that dissociative process

and if you weaken that process awareness

expands not in an evolutionarily useful

way because you know it doesn’t help you

to see a tiger on the other side of the

world if you’re going to get killed by

an elephant where you’re in standing

consciousness better be very focused

very constrained very dissociated

forests survive as a not as an organism

in in this ecosystem but we’ve

transcended that as a species we’re not

in the African South African savanna

anymore and psychedelic experiences can

be at the cultural layer I think very

enlightening yeah I mean how do you

think materialism relates to this it

seems like you know if you just sort of

dosed someone with a psychedelic that

they would see past this idea that

everything is just material things but

you know it but at the same time it’s as

if you know this this self-fulfilling

aspect of our brains our psychology that

we see what we want to see right so yes

would would a psychedelic experience

change I mean it can we even can we even

hypothesize about this idea would it

change the perspective of someone that

had a bias towards a certain way of

looking at the the nature of reality I

think it can but it’s certainly not

necessarily the case in other words it

can but it doesn’t every time our in

their narrative reasserts itself very

quickly after a psychedelic experience

say after a strong one your inner

narrative making the story you tell

yourself reassert itself within 48 hours

after that time you will look back at

the fact psychedelic experience and tell

yourself if that’s your disposition you

tell yourself oh you know it’s just my

brain going nuts and you will not

remember anymore the key insights they

and you cannot hold them in memory

because you can’t tell yourself what

you’re experiencing and if you can’t

tell yourself what it is that you’re

experiencing you don’t form memories

memories require this sort of

metacognitive link in order to for you

to be able to it’s the key with which

you sort of go back to that drawer and

recover the experience so and it is a

very noisy channel psychedelic

experiences have a lot of nonsense as

well before you get to a point where you

can say well that was really gnosis I’ve

learned something about the essential

nature of reality before you get there

if you ever get there there is all kinds

of nonsense there are all these

skeletons in your in your cupboard that

come out it is not something that you

know you do want and then it to change

everybody into an idealist certainly not

know that’s not likely it’s interesting

I mean there there seems to be this

reimagines it’s it’s almost like a

psychedelic Renaissance of people who

are talking more about these mystical

states that are generated by these these

compounds so you know it’s interesting

to see where the world is in regards to

that and where it will be because of

those mystical experiences would you

would you say the evolution of the way

we look at the world has changed because

of any specific things I mean look at

the way technology affects the way we

communicate and interact certainly there

you know there there has to be something

that has affected our paradigm or

worldview as a culture as a species I

think the mainstream world view that our

civilization holds at any one point in

time is not really a function of

reasoning it it’s not the output of a

for reasoning process based on evidence

logic and parsimony that’s not how it

works it works more like a fashion there

is a certain ethos a certain site-geist

in the culture at different points in

history and that is the key determining

factor at some point that zeitgeist was

you know a man is the center of the

universe humans are the center of the

universe and God is beyond and the Stars

and you know we had this idea that human

life had intrinsic meaning because we

were created in the image of God that

was fashion then late in the 19th

century the fashion was the opposite was

to put down human life as insignificant

something on the corner of the universe

we are nothing and and even derive some

kind of morbid pleasure from that in the

20th century this this dis fashions

changed a lot and it started with

positivism in the early 20th century and

then at some point constructivism get or

and the constructivism came up so these

are fashions and they are not based on

young reason and the fashions change

based on factors that I don’t well I

certainly do not understand and I so I

can’t keep track of it I wonder if

anybody does understand that it may be

influences from what Jung called the

unconscious it may be something to do

with our collective consciousness as

determined by social media model means

of communication I don’t know what I can

tell for sure is that we today are not

mostly at least at academia materialists

because it is materialism is the best

hypothesis is the best worldview that’s

certainly not the reason between

academia today many of them feel that to

not be a materialist is a reason to be

ashamed which is sort of ridiculous

because one can articulate very soundly

very reasonably reasons for not being a

materialist and being something instead

and you said ok psychedelics they’re

changing things now there seems to be a

new openness to it

clearly there is a new openings opening

to it since the turn of the century but

let’s not forget there was a lot of

opportunity for this back in 60s as well

and it was much more pronounced than it

is now

and we thought you know the world will

never be the same again you know after

the psychedelic explosion of the 60s and

guess what by the end of the 70s the

pendulum already swung all the way to

the other side and in the 80s it was all

about business and egotism you know so I

don’t know how it’s going to go forward

I’m I’m glad that there is this

renaissance or psychedelic psychedelics

but I I’m not very optimistic for the

long term so to say I really appreciate

it that answer really got a lot from

that in your book idea for the of the

world you included a paper about the

physical physicalist world view being a

neurotic ego defense and how does that

work how is this a defense for the ego

well you have to look at history

materialism has been strong in our

culture well I’d say since the 18th

century with the the Enlightenment but

it has become dominating towards the end

of the 19th century and then you have to

put yourself in the in the mindset of

that time your scientist and you had the

religious background when you were young

because that was in the early part of

the 19th century and that was the ground

for your perception of meaning let’s

take Nietzsche as an example son of a

pastor when he was a kid he was even

called the little pastor because he

could quote the Bible without even

opening the Bible to quote from it so

religion dominated his life and at some

point when he became an adult a more

critical and could examine the hidden

assumptions behind out that hip he

turned into an atheist and and he had a

lot of difficulty finding or

constructing new meaning for his life a

new source of meaning ultimately he got

to the

uberman Superman and if at the meaning

of life is to transcend your own

limitations yeah okay he found that

story but everybody around that time was

faced with this idea that your previous

source of meaning religious

transcendence was no longer applicable

and people had to find new sources of

meaning and we know from psychology that

if your existing source of many meaning

breaks down or you don’t believe in it

anymore you would transfer oh that that

term how to say that longing for meaning

to other potential sources and I think

materialism or physicalism offers

abundant potential alternative sources

of meaning for instance we know that if

you have a very good opinion of yourself

that plays the role of a source of

meaning this this is positive view of

yourself and scientists have that source

of meaning available to them through the

scientific conquests and that they

participate in or it’s also a source of

meaning to have the idea that you

participate you’re an integral part of

something bigger than yourself which

will survive your presence in this

planet so even though you will die and

there will be nothing left of you

your presence here will survive in the

form of the work you left behind science

offers that possibility as well so the

psychological phenomena here is called

fluid compensation you sort of

unconsciously move your longings for

meaning to other sources and I think

materialism played that role big time

from the end of the 19th century onwards

we’re on the same page that was

literally my next question I’m looking

at it right now um in the in the same

paper you talk about the meaning

maintenance model and then you get into

the expression of fluid compensation and

you talk about the intellectual elites

and it makes a lot of sense of creating

this lifelong sort of legacy

that you know lives on after their death

but what is the meaning maintenance

model and in fluid compensation it might

touch it on upon it you have sources of

meaning in your life if you don’t have

any then you are depressed maybe

clinically depressed so we all have even

if you’re not directly or explicitly

aware of it we all have certain sources

of meaning and what the meaning

maintenance model tells you is that if

one of your sources of meaning is

threatened because you believe in

something else your view of the world

has changed whatever you will

automatically meaning you’re not

explicitly aware of it it’s something

that happens in the background in your

subconscious so to say you will

automatically shift your attention

towards other potential sources of

meaning make no mistake you know a while

in the maybe the sixteenth century

people would derive meaning from the

notion that we are the center of the

universe and that everything turns

around us in the 21st century you can

derive meaning from exactly the opposite

by saying you know what we are nothing

we are completely irrelevant we don’t

count for anything

there is no meaning any of this and

because I know and I’m courageous enough

to admit this I am better than you

because you are not courageous to face

the facts in the face and that is the

source of meaning for them they just

differentiated themselves from the

others and acquired a positive

self-image by telling themselves you

know I face facts that others don’t face

that’s fluid compensation in in action

right there as fascinating I love your

explanations Bernardo I really

appreciated this time we’ve got a little

bit of time left I want to get into a

paper that you wrote a piece that you

wrote on Scientific American about

relational quantum mechanics and their

suggestion that or your suggestion that

physics may be a science of perceptions

can you get into this forest yeah

relational quantum make

was proposed by an Italian physicist

called Carlo Rovelli

back in 94 if I remember it correctly

and basically what it says it it bites

the bullet of quantum mechanics it

acknowledges the necessary implications

of quantum mechanics that everybody else

is trying to tell themselves a story

that oh no there is something else at

work here that’s not captured by quantum

mechanics well rovelli said ok I will

soon that quantum mechanics is a

complete description of the physical

universe what are the implications then

and a direct implication which has been

confirmed by the way this year a paper

that was published this year

experimentally confirmed back in 94

reveille just looked at the theory the

implication is that the physical world

is always relative to the observer now

let’s not get into the discussion of

what counts as an observer the raisa to

get too complex let’s just pretend that

observers are people like you and me

looking at the world around us so what

he is saying is what he wanted mechanics

is saying actually is that the physical

world is always relative to the observer

in other words each of each one of us

inhabits strictly speaking a different

physical world because each one of us

has a different quantum mechanical

description of the world around us and

this has been experimentally confirmed

this year now it opens up all kinds of

difficulties in terms of philosophy

because if you say that everything is

relative then relative to what you know

motion is relative yes but its relative

to a material observer and the material

object that’s moving if you say that the

entire physical world is relative then

there is nothing physical to ground the

meaning of these relational properties

if you know any the way around it is to

just say you know what we are all

inhabiting the same environment but that

common environment is not the physical

world that common environment is an

environment of experiences of meditation

and the physical world emerges when we


at that mental environment interact with

it and the result of that interaction is

what we call the physical world and then

of course I have my physical world you

have yours because we all have different

interactions with this common

environment of meditation so to say so

the physical world is relative to each

other but that does not imply solid

decision because the real world out

there is not physical its mental that’s

how I would do about it

Bernardo what a fascinating conversation

time flew by really enjoyed this a lot I

mean yeah we talked we touched on

everything that I could think of to

bring up is there anything that you want

to mention them that you feel that we

didn’t cover yet oh I’m certain I’m

searching we didn’t cover a lot of

things but okay

it’s almost doing the morning I’m not

sure I can okay I know it’s very very

late for you you mentioned that you’re

working on a new book can you tell us a

little bit about that

sure I used to publish a book every year

the latest book the idea of the world

which came out in April this year took

me three years because I thought you

know I’m going to preempt this line of

attack that I was often subjected to

which is well you know what you didn’t

submit your work to be a review and you

don’t have degree in philosophy so I

took 3 years 15 papers in good

peer-reviewed journals including a

couple of them very respected journals

got myself a second PhD and wrote a book

based on that and in the book I sort of

explained things more to the to the

average educated reader so it’s not so

technical but the result was that

instead of one book per year I went to

one book in three years because it took

a while to do all that so now I’m trying

to catch up I I have one book in

production right now it will come out

next year it’s about the metaphysics of

Arthur Schopenhauer okay which I think

has been tremendously misunderstood and

misrepresented in academia so I am

arrogantly trying to correct that


and when I’m writing right now I mean

the book of Chopin about Schopenhauer is

in production I finished it a couple of

months ago and I’m writing a book right

now about the metaphysic metaphysics of

Carl Jung the the psychiatrist I think

although he disclaimed being a

philosopher very strongly

I think his ideas have metaphysical

implications that we can derive from

being appointed with his work indeed I

agree or not oh where can people find

your work is there a website that they

can get to yes bernardo castro calm gasp

trapeze with a k’ if you go there there

is a top menu bar there is everything

there there links to all my books videos

my academic papers one of my PhD theses

are there links to all the Scientific

American essays I’ve been publishing

over the past two years or so little

more videos and I have several videos I

have a channel on YouTube but if you go

to Bernardo cast opcom you can from

there you can go everywhere and of

course I have a blog on that same

address as well very good ladies and

gentlemen the book is called the idea of

the world my guest dr. Bernardo Kastrup

that’s gonna do it for us here at HSN AV

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