Consciousness is the basis of all material reality. But what produces our consciousness? That’s what Mark Gober explores in An End to Upside Down Thinking, his new book that challenges our fundamental belief about consciousness. Mark is an author whose worldview was turned upside down in late 2016 when he learned of phenomena that threaten the prevailing view in science that consciousness comes from the brain. After researching extensively for nearly a year, he became convinced that a paradigm shift was in order: biology does not produce consciousness; rather, consciousness produces biology. Mark talks about his concept of consciousness and how affects everything from our happiness to the way we live. He recounts his journey exploring compelling scientific evidence from diverse disciplines such as quantum physics, psychic phenomena, near-death experiences, and beyond. With his book, Mark aims to shift our view of the human potential and understand the true nature of reality.
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An End To Upside Down Thinking with Mark Gober
I’m feeling quite blessed. I woke up, as always, I put my feet on the floor. I said these words that are imprinted on my shirt which says, “I love my life.” It’s been interesting for me because I slept late after being up thinking about some things. I had seen a new movie that came out talking about a number of the political divides that are with us in our world. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. It interfered with my normal bedtime ritual. I woke up feeling a little bit of that same energy, the same disappointment in the communication that seems to exist in our world. Much of that communication is divisive.
I’m in a place at this moment where I realize that there’s more that each of us can do. I’m not going to focus on anybody in that regard except myself. I took it before I went to bed and when I woke up in the morning as a bit of a personal assignment to speak into this a bit more, be clearer in my own communication, close any open loops that might exist for me when it comes to where I stand on certain issues and all that thing, and not be in a place of fear, I suppose. There’s backlash, there is bullying that comes or controversy that’s more than I want to handle based on those things. I open up space for our podcast to say that I am going to take my own personal responsibility at a higher level.
I have an incredible guest, somebody that you are all going to enjoy so much because of what he has to share, what he’s been researching, what he’s written about and the person that he is in the world at this moment. He’s a terrific model for many of us in terms of taking more personal responsibility for finding, creating, and being solutions to things that are disheartening. The gentleman’s name is Mark Gober. He is the author whose own worldview was turned upside down in late 2016 when he learned of the phenomena that threatened the prevailing view in science that consciousness comes from the brain. After researching extensively, he became convinced that a paradigm shift was in order. Biology does not produce consciousness, rather consciousness produces biology. Implications are immense for science, technology, medicine and even for everyday issues like happiness, health and relationships. His book, An End To Upside Down Thinking, has received endorsements from Jack Canfield, Goldie Hawn, number one bestselling author Eben Alexander, two-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee Dr. Ervin Laszlo, Pixar founder Loren Carpenter and the list goes on and on.
Mark is a senior member of Sherpa Technology Group in Silicon Valley, a firm that advises businesses on mergers, acquisitions and strategy. He previously worked as an investment banking analyst in New York. Mark has been quoted for his opinions on business and technology matters in Bloomberg Businessweek and elsewhere. He authored internationally published business articles. He graduated Magna Cum Laude from Princeton University where he was also the captain of the tennis team. Mark also represents Dr. Ervin Laszlo’s Institute Of New Paradigm Research as the Director of Corporate Relations. Mark, it’s a pleasure to have you on the show. Welcome.
Thanks so much for having me, Adam.
We’re living in interesting times. Would you agree?
We are indeed. That’s one of the reasons I felt such urgency to write this book even though I only learned of this phenomenon in late 2016 and here we are with my book.
This is an extensive bio. There’s a lot going on here. You’ve had a prolific career for somebody who’s only in your early 30s. You’ve done a lot already. You’ve done a lot of research, a lot of studying and a lot of hard work. What is not in this bio that you would love for people to know about you?
You mentioned that my worldview was shifted as a result of the research I did. Those words probably don’t capture what it’s been to go through that shift in a worldview. If you want to start here, we can go through what my old worldview was because it’s one that’s informed by the current education system. I did learn a few things and that changes how I think about my own life. That might be impactful to your audience.
I want to go there but first I want to ask you. You’ve been able to accomplish a lot of things. There are people who are striving and they spend a lot of time in the mode of striving and achieving. Sometimes that’s to prove something. For me, part of why I spent a lot of my early career wanting to prove myself to myself, as well as to my family, and wanting to do as well as I could. That created some level of exhaustion. I got burned out in the first ten, fifteen years of my career. Share a little bit about who you are other than the things that are written in that bio. What’s something that some people don’t know about you, something that drives you that’s not about business or success?
How I’m going to answer this tie into the content of the book, which is that I have been success-oriented my whole life. Even when I was going through these different things at Princeton in investment banking and beyond, I knew that something was missing. I was striving for things but even achieving them didn’t bring lasting happiness. I’m pumped about something. I win a tennis match or I get a promotion but then I would quickly return to baseline, which is striving for the next thing. In my book, I talk about something known as the hedonic treadmill. It’s like we’re on a treadmill striving for the next thing. We’re running but we’re not getting anywhere. We’re staying in place. I’ve had a quest for happiness for a long time.
This is the proverbial rat race. I found myself chasing that carrot. I’ve met a lot of people along the way also caught up in that idea of chasing after something, feeling that if I can grab that thing, I get that carrot. I also graduated from a different university with high honors and all that. I thought, “If I graduate with high honors, my life’s going to be better and I’ll be happy.” I killed myself or nearly killed myself to have that happen. That happened but I didn’t feel happy, contented and fulfilled. It was the next thing. I was going to go to law school. I went to law school and then it was to pass the bar exam on the first try. I start practicing and opened my own firm and thing after thing that I convinced myself, if I have that then I’ll be happy.
I grew up in an apartment. We didn’t have a house, we’ll get a house. I didn’t have a pool, we’ll have a pool. We’ll have a vacation home. In each of those milestones or things that I was seeking, that carrot, after going after it, figuring it out, doing whatever it took to achieve it, I found that there was this place where it didn’t fulfill. It didn’t meet the hype. It didn’t produce happiness. That’s an essential issue in the lives of most people. It doesn’t matter what the thing is, whether it’s the striving to get a degree, to become a millionaire or to seek some other physical thing, some other material thing. We’re all caught up in that cycle.
It’s almost like Einstein’s definition of insanity because it’s the doing of a similar or operating in a similar pattern and expecting that the result at the end will be different. Instead of it being $1 million, now it’s $10 million. Instead of it being one house, now it’s five houses. Instead of 2,000 square feet of living space, it’s 8,000 square feet or whatever the case. If you would tie that in because your book does on some level go at the root. I know we’re going to get into the science of what upside-down thinking is. What was the prevailing thinking? What’s the conventional scientific thinking? What does this book do to the turn that on its end? There’s something that’s even more fundamental to the way people live, that everyday people live on in everyday life that’s being raised by this book. Would you speak into that a bit?
There is an assumption throughout modern society that we will become happy when we achieve something that’s external to us. You were describing different things. It could be a relationship. It could be more money. It could be the next house. What we find over and over again is that that doesn’t bring lasting happiness or even a sense of peace. We see that it sometimes brings temporary happiness but it doesn’t do it. For me personally, I achieved a lot of things that were goals for me and it wasn’t bringing a lasting sense of happiness. If external things always brought happiness, then every billionaire or every movie star would be ecstatic all the time. Yet we hear of people in the news who are depressed, who have committed suicide and some things that don’t align with the material success that they have achieved.
This is something I do talk about in the book, which is challenging the idea that anything external is what will bring lasting happiness. What I talk about in the book is that our identity as being, the consciousness that we are rather than something physical and more consciousness is the basis of our reality. If that’s true, then anything external is almost an illusion. Instead of focusing on things outside of ourselves to bring happiness, to shift the attention inward which is the opposite of what we’re taught. This is an everyday life issue. On a daily basis, we’re striving for things, sometimes small, sometimes big. To shift the perception to say, “Who is having the experience? What am I fundamentally?” Shifting that attention inward is a start to bringing happiness.
Let’s dial it back a little and perhaps define what materialism is, what you said that we’re looking to get happiness out of some external thing. Even a relationship’s an external thing. A better body is an external thing. Money, success, fame, celebrity, whatever it is, these are external things. If that’s not the key to lasting sustainable happiness, if that’s not even a key to peace, which is ultimate I believe what we’re all after anyway. It’s all rooted in how we see those things. That’s materialism but please define it for us.
Materialism basically says that the universe is made of physical matter like atoms. I can touch my table, that’s made of matter. The whole universe is made of this physical stuff. When you break things down to the smallest level, it’s a matter that you find. In this universe that has matter, ultimately a human being and other types of biological organisms evolve that are made of matter and we develop consciousness. I have a mind. I have an awareness, a sense of identity. What materialism says is that sense of identity comes from stuff in my brain, which is made of matter. Materialism says that matter creates consciousness. Matter creates my sense of identity. That implies that there is something outside of our identity, that there is me sitting here that’s having this experience and then there’s an external world.
In my book where I talk about upside-down thinking, An End To Upside Down Thinking, I am asserting that consciousness is the basis of reality. Our identity is the centerpiece. Anything that’s external is an illusion. It’s an experience that the consciousness is having. It’s something that we perceive through our vision, our hearing or other senses. Fundamentally, what exists is the awareness that’s experiencing those things. When you shift from saying that there is this physical world and then we emerge within, it’s saying, “No, everything is our awareness and the experiences that we’re having are within our awareness. To think of something being outside of awareness, outside of our consciousness is not a real thing. It’s an illusion.” It would make sense to say, “If I’m striving for something outside of myself but there’s nothing outside of my consciousness in the first place, then it won’t bring happiness because it’s an illusion.”
I’ve read your book and I know where you’re going with this. We’ve got to dial it back a couple of steps. Let’s go back to the Big Bang. Let’s start at the beginning and move forward so that everybody can understand what materialism is in that context.
The universe, according to materialism, started about 13.8 billion years ago with some event, it’s usually called the Big Bang. The Big Bang filled the universe with the stuff that we call matter, atoms. Through randomness, you end up with matter that’s interacting with itself. One particle interacts with another particle. We call that chemistry. When you have enough random chemical interactions in this big universe, you’re bound to end up with a type of molecule that’s self-replicating. That’s DNA. As we know, DNA is the basis of our physical biology and leads to the evolution of different beings, like a human. A human has a brain and the consciousness comes out of the brain. That’s awareness.
There’s a human being and that human being thinks. It’s that thinking process, that awareness that feels like it’s coming from the brain. What we’ve been told is that our awareness comes from the brain and that our thinking comes from the brain. Isn’t that what we’ve all been taught from the time that we were young?
We’re taught it and sometimes it’s implicit that people don’t even talk about it. It’s like, “I have a mind because of my brain. My mind comes from my brain.” That’s what the materialist perspective says. Big Bang leads to a human being that has a mind but it’s because of this brain that’s the interface.
What you said about physical matter. For example, we can touch our arm. It’s simple enough, wherever you are, if you’re driving, you’re on the treadmill, whatever it is, touch your arm anywhere and go, “That’s easy enough to do.” You can touch your leg. You can touch some other part of your body, but what’s not possible to touch, Mark?
“Can I touch my consciousness? Can I touch my mind? Where is it?” This is the big question and the big problem with materialism that I didn’t even know was a problem. How is it that this body that you can touch, you just proved it? If you were able to touch your arm, touch your leg or touch your head, how does that body that’s physical produce something that you can’t touch? This is the big open secret. It’s called the hard problem of consciousness. Science Magazine has said, “It’s the number two question that remains in all of science.” We don’t know how this happens.
It is a dilemma because it’s the hard problem of consciousness. Does the brain produce consciousness or does consciousness produce all else?
It is a problem in that we all know we have awareness. It’s the most probable thing you can think of. Right now I’m aware of talking to you, Adam. The only thing that I can definitively prove is that I have a consciousness and that thing that I can prove, we don’t know where it comes from according to science. When you think about it, we can send people to the moon. We can do amazing things by genetically modifying plants and different organisms, but we still don’t know where our own consciousness comes from. This is a major issue.
Einstein had an issue with this. He was a materialist. I want to lay out the foundation, which is that there’s a divide. I don’t know what the divide is, 50/50, 70/30, I don’t know. There’s a tremendous amount of science. That’s the one thing that’s the right amount of whelm. In this book, it’s the science that supports the idea that that materialism is not the law when it comes to consciousness. In fact, it’s the opposite and Einstein wrestled with this idea.
Einstein was a materialist and he believed that there was this world outside of consciousness. What I mean by that is we start with the Big Bang and there is this universe filled with matter. The human being and the consciousness associated with it came later. That means there is a human being and then there’s this world outside of it. Here’s the problem. We can’t prove that anything existed before consciousness because in order to prove that this table’s here for me to prove that I’m looking at you, I have to experience it to prove it. Even if I’m measuring something scientifically, there needs to be an observer, a consciousness that experiences it.
If we say that materialism is right, that there were some Big Bang and all this stuff 13.8 billion years’ worth of things and then the consciousness came, we can’t prove it. 13.8 billion years ago, according to materialism, there was no consciousness to experience it. Could have it happened? Yes. Can we prove it? No. Einstein was wrestling with people who were on the other side of materialism. What he said is, “I cannot prove that my conception is right, meaning materialism but that is my religion.” This is the leap of faith to say, “There’s something outside of my consciousness but we can never prove it.” The minute that we observe it or experience it, it’s within our consciousness.
This leap of faith has nothing to do with religion. It doesn’t have to do with anything that would be beyond the realm of what’s provable, yet it serves as the foundation for all science. If you look at science as a series of dominoes, for example, one thing that tips into the next in a sequential order, whatever that might be if it’s a time sequence or some other thing, the first domino in that sequence is undefined in science. They don’t know and cannot prove the first domino in the sequence.
It amazes me every time I think about it still. It’s like, “I’ll take this one leap of faith and then I’ll measure everything after that one point,” but it’s the foundation. It’s like the foundation of a building and that part is shaky. It’s something that’s not provable. If you look at it from this, it’s a philosophical issue that we’re talking about here. The philosophy is shaky and we haven’t even talked about the science.
We haven’t. It implies a change to potentially so many views, so many long-held opinions, beliefs and the faith that we have in certain things. If our consciousness exists outside of us, because in essence that’s what you’re saying, that consciousness exists outside of our physical bodies or non-locally. If that’s the case, then when our physical bodies pass away, when we transition from this physical life to wherever we are beyond this life, if any place, our consciousness doesn’t necessarily die when we do. Is that what you’re saying?
That is what’s implied by this idea that consciousness is first rather than matter. There is also science suggesting that a consciousness exists when a physical body is not functional anymore. We start to get into questions of identity. What am I? Am I a body that has a consciousness? When the body dies, my consciousness dies? Am I a consciousness, first and foremost, that has different experiences? One of them right now is through this body. If that’s true that I’m a consciousness, then we start asking questions about happiness, what’s external and things like that.
If consciousness exists before matter and we are an expression of consciousness, then we’re all expressions of consciousness. Everything’s an expression of consciousness then. Therefore, there’s some relationship between us, the collective us. Is that also what’s implied by this?
Absolutely. That’s what the evidence at least points to in many different ways. We’re not only a consciousness first and foremost, but that the consciousness that’s me is the same that is the consciousness of each of the audience and the same as the consciousness of anything. We’re having our own localized individual experiences but still part of the broader consciousness. There’s an analogy from Dr. Bernardo Castro which says, “Imagine that all of reality is like a stream of water, where the water represents consciousness. Each of us is a little whirlpool.” Meaning we’re having our own localized whirlpool experience. We’re not necessarily seeing everything outside of that experience because we’re in a whirlpool, but it’s all there. The water is still there and we’re still made of water even though we’re a whirlpool. That also implies that when the whirlpool stops being a whirlpool, the water flows into the broader stream. It changes form, which is like when the physical body dies, the consciousness transitions into something different.
Why don’t we get into the science a little bit? We’ve set a pretty good foundation for what it is that’s being explored. This is revolutionary. This is not a small topic obviously. It doesn’t sound like a small topic but in reality, it changes just about everything.
It does for me. Personally, it changed so much. That’s why I felt the need to make the information available to those who are interested in it. The implications are big that the way I structured the book was that you have basically 12.5 chapters or so of science and explaining how this could be true. The very end is the implications because to start talking about the implications, it’s hard to grasp. According to many of the conventional views we’ve been taught, these things don’t make sense. I structured it with all the science up front. When you talk about the implications under that context, maybe it makes sense. Maybe there’s nothing external to me, even though it feels like there’s something external using my eyes. I want to preface it with that. There is a reason for starting with that science.
You’re not saying that there isn’t matter that exists outside. You’re not saying that what we’re seeing like a table or something like that, is an illusion, are you?
It gets tricky when you start asking questions about what’s matter in the first place. My table, it’s made of atoms. We can look under a microscope and see atoms. What’s an atom made out of? You have protons, neutrons, electrons. When you start looking into the microscope, you realize that matter is 99.9999999% empty space even though it feels solid. There’s another property of matter which is that if you observe it, it’s there as something physical. When you’re not observing it, it behaves like a wave, meaning it’s only in a state of probability. It’s maybe here, maybe there. This is something in quantum physics that I talk about. When we think about the matter first of all, it’s mostly empty. It’s not even there unless we’re looking at it. My point here is that our ordinary perceptions, our ordinary senses, our eyes, our ears, our nose, our mouth, our skin, all of these things that we perceive around us give us an appearance of something.
When we break down what is this physical world that we’re in, science doesn’t have an answer as to what matter is even made of. When we say that matter is this thing that we don’t even know what it fully is, it’s creating consciousness. Consciousness is the only thing we know. It’s a bit of backward logic to say that matter, the unknown creates a consciousness that’s known. What I’m arguing, what some others argue is to start with this consciousness and say, “The table is an experience within my consciousness.” It’s very much real and that I’m experiencing it. What’s it made out of? That’s where it becomes a big question. Is it my own consciousness in a way? In a sense and that’s what I’m arguing is that it’s a modulation of consciousness in the experience of my hand touches the table, it feels like a tingling sensation.
This is something that everyone can do. You can close your eyes and forget the concept of your hand and the table. What do you experience? It’s a sensation. Get rid of the labels of table, hand, room, world, Earth. It’s a sensation and that sensation is located in your consciousness, in your field of consciousness. One could argue that the experience of touching the table is a different modulation of consciousness, an experience within consciousness. It’s almost a redefinition of what matter is. We can do the same thing when we hear something. It’s an auditory thing. You can close your eyes, you hear something but that hearing occurs within your own consciousness again.
It’s a sense. We have we have five senses. This is the way that we perceive what exists in our awareness, whatever that might be, by sound, by sight, by taste or smell or any of those things.
They are all occurring within your own field of experience. This is taking this idea of an independent world and then we emerge in it to saying that we are it and everything’s happening within us.
Is it a subjective experience or is it objective?
I would argue that it’s subjective. Some people ask, “If it’s subjective, then why is it that you and I appear to experience the same world around us?” If there is one consciousness where we’re all connected in the stream, then we’re lenses looking at it from different angles but it’s the same thing that we’re experiencing. That would also explain it. To say that there is a singular consciousness and therefore we experience the same reality. I’m not saying that’s an illusion because we’re all very much having experiences and having highs and lows. I touched the table that feels like something. I don’t want to diminish that. The question of, “Is that table an independent thing outside of my consciousness?” That’s the upside-down thinking.
That’s outside of the collective consciousness because if you and I were in the same room, we’re both sitting at a table. We’d both be able to say, “That’s a table. That’s what it feels like to me.” Let’s dive into the science a bit.
I have two different categories of phenomena that I discuss in the book broadly. One is psychic phenomena, things like telepathy, which is mind to mind communication, precognition which is knowing the future before it happens, psychokinesis is the ability for the mind to affect physical matter with no physical contact, and remote viewing which is the ability to see something without your eyes being involved, seeing something that’s far away. I have a chapter on each of these phenomena in the book and show the evidence for all of them. What they all suggest is that consciousness isn’t localized to us. Remote viewing is something far away that I’m able to see with my mind.
The US government ran a 25-year program on remote viewing using psychic spies. Jimmy Carter confirmed that this was used to find a downed Russian bomber in an African jungle that they couldn’t find. The remote viewers went into a trance and were able to see it with their mind and locate where this bomber was. There are many other examples of this. What’s interesting is that the CIA recently released documents which talked about what happened during this program. I show these documents at An End To Upside Down Thinking. They say very explicitly, “Remote viewing is a real phenomenon.” That’s a direct quote from a CIA document.
Declassified CIA documents saying that remote viewing is a real thing.
They’re saying it’s real. It couldn’t have been more explicit for me as I’m looking for evidence to show people. They show a science panel that looked at it and there was a scientist from Caltech and some prominent people. The science panel’s finding is, “The implications are revolutionary,” another direct quote. If we think about the stream analogy again where I’m a localized whirlpool in this big stream, it’s like the remote viewers are somehow able to access another part of the stream that normally is shielded out because they’re in this circular thing. It’s like they open their whirlpool a little bit and are able to access something else.
There’s something that a lot of people have heard of or maybe even experienced because near-death experiences are more common than people would realize, than I realized. The experiences of people who have come too close to death or have been technically declared dead even for some period of time and then come back to life relay similar information.
Whereas the psychic phenomena are more about how our consciousness is interacting locally to us or somewhere outside of us, whether it’s someone else’s mind or finding a plane in the African jungle, there’s another category that suggests that consciousness is existing when the physical body is not even functional. It’s not only non-local but it’s not dependent on the body. The near-death experience is one of the most important phenomena out there that should be talked about much more than it is. Where people are having a conscious experience when they’re clinically dead and in some cases, they have a highly impaired brain. In other cases, their brain is off and that shouldn’t happen according to the conventional view of the brain, the materialist perspective, which is that chemical and electrical activity in my brain. Somehow that’s causing my experience and my memories. What’s happening is there’s no brain, yet there is somehow a verified memory.
The switch is turned off. They say technically there’s no brain function.
Yet they have an experience. What is that experience? This is where we start to get into questions about, “What is existence? Can we learn something about the broader reality from these experiences?” What people describe, and this has been described since The Egyptian Book Of The Dead, The Tibetan Book Of The Dead and Plato. People have been talking about these things for a long time. The reason it’s become more commonplace now to talk about it is that resuscitation technology has improved.
Now we’re bringing people back in larger numbers. Even if it’s a percentage of those people that report this experience that I’ll describe, we have more case studies to be able to say, “Something’s up.” What happens, and not everyone experiences each element, is a person typically describes hovering over their body, seeing what’s happening in the room and in many cases, what they describe is accurate. The doctors go crazy for this. They saw the person was dead. They’re operating on them. The person describes things that were accurate during that time.
It goes beyond the life review, the idea that at death or near death we’ve got this cascading film of our life from birth up to that moment. That’s something that’s common as well. This is not that.
It’s part of it. The sequence that’s described in the cases that have the most elements is the first hovering over the body. There’s typically a feeling of relief and unconditional love. People feel this incredibly positive feeling. In most cases, there’s a minority that is fearful or fear-inducing. There’s discussion of beings being seen or experienced, sometimes family members, sometimes mystical creatures. There’s a feeling of being comforted by these creatures and then having this life review where the person watches his or her own life in a flash and judges him or herself or how he or she acted. To me, and I think about this every day. In some of these cases, the person experiences the life review from the perspective, from the eyes of those he or she affected.
Bob inflicts harm on Jane. Bob in the life review sometimes will feel Jane’s pain as if he were Jane. He comes back after the life review. He comes back into the body, which is typically what’s described after the near-death experience, totally with new priorities in life of, “I don’t care about these material things. I care about how I’m treating people.” Many people often get divorced after a near-death experience. They change their jobs because their priorities shift 180 degrees. They start to get to happiness where what people care more about is the treatment of others. If we’re all connected, then that makes sense. Treating another well is treating you well. This is what people come back talking about after they’ve had a near-death experience. Sometimes they were completely materialistic beforehand.
Chasing after something external, chasing after something material to create a feeling, whether that feeling is to love yourself, to be peaceful or to be happy, whatever happiness is. To me, it feels like it’s a fool’s errand because we’re chasing after something that does not necessarily exist. It’s like the dog chasing its tail or that old expression about putting the cart before the horses.
I personally experienced that of achieving things and then not getting the lasting happiness that I thought I would get from it. It’s the shift in words of, “I’m this consciousness. We’re all connected as consciousness.” I don’t think it says that we should not care about anything external to us. We should still live our lives, but the dependence to say, “It’s a requirement for me to get X, relationship X, job X in order for me to be happy,” that is a dangerous situation to be in. It’s saying if I don’t get X then I’m going to be unhappy. Once we achieve X, it’s not always what we think it’s going to be. It’s a real shift in how we think about our own priorities. This is such a major shift in this day and age because we’re not taught to think this way.
What was the catalyst, the trigger point, if there was one, for you? I was a little bit older than you when I had that moment. It wasn’t even a moment. It was day after days looking in the mirror and thinking, “Is this the person I’m going to be for the rest of my life?” and not being satisfied to look in the mirror and think, “This is what I’m going to be doing and this is how I’m going to be feeling.” That was a catalytic moment where I said, “Something has to change.” If you ask that question or you posed that problem enough, for me, anyway, it was only natural to create some solution around it. What was it that that said, “Here you are, a guy that had worked hard through school. You’ve done well, you’ve got a job.” You were an investment banker in Manhattan, right around the time of the financial crisis in 2008. That wasn’t an easy time at all to be around. At some point after that, you started to have these conversations.
I’ve had questions around the same thing that you describe of, “Is this exactly what I want to be doing? Am I happy with everything that I’m doing? What is happiness?” I’ve been asking those questions for a long time and I didn’t have good answers. My answer was this materialist perspective that I’m taught is that when my body dies, my consciousness dies. That means that no matter what happens during my life, it’s wiped out once I’m dead. The computer is turned off. There’s nothing functioning anymore. The strict interpretation of materialism is that there is no meaning in life. It’s unavoidable. It’s an unavoidable, logical consequence of materialism. Consciousness comes from my brain. Once my brain is off, there’s no consciousness. There’s no memory. Anything that happened in my life I’m not going to remember it.
Meaning in life is a rationalization. I don’t think that’s even a controversial statement. That’s literally implied by materialism if we take out any biases. I struggled with that of, “Something great happened,” even at a young age. This was before college. Why does it matter? Something bad happened. Does it matter? I’m rationalizing that it’s good or bad. I struggle with these questions and I didn’t have an answer.
Will it matter after I’m dead?
I don’t think so. I don’t think it will. Almost, who cares? I still went through the motions because I’m in this world and I felt an obligation to go through the motions. I had this deep issue of understanding what was implied by my worldview and it was not a happy one. It was a pretty bleak one. I wasn’t looking for a different answer because as far as I knew, that was the science. To look for anything else was rationalizing the bleakness of this materialist perspective. It was about two years ago. It was starting in the late summer of 2016 when I came across some of these ideas that talked about consciousness not being dependent on the brain. These talked about people being able to have communications with a consciousness that is no longer living, talking to a dead person. These were totally crazy things, mediums.
I had heard of mediums but I hadn’t heard people who claimed there were mediums talk about it like it was a normal thing. I hadn’t heard of studies on these things. It wasn’t overnight that my life changed. It was I became exposed to these things and I brushed it off. I started looking into it a bit more, would forget about it, and then I became totally obsessed with learning about it. If it meant a worldview shift then I had to re-understand and re-contextualize who and what am I. What matters? If something does matter, if my consciousness persists, then that’s at least more meaning than I was giving to life before. At the least it’s more, I don’t know what. I had to investigate it. It rocked completely of, “I can’t believe my whole life I thought the world was one way and that I was a certain thing and I didn’t know all these other things.”
It gives us a greater responsibility as well. That’s the first domino in the sequence of this conversation. I saw this movie and it disturbed me. It was Michael Moore’s movie, Fahrenheit 11/9. I started to think about things like Flint, Michigan, where we are politically and how it is that we treat each other. I’ve had my head a bit buried in the sand. I’ve created a wonderful life. I get to work with a lot of people. I get to do things I want to do. I feel fulfilled. I don’t focus on things that I have no ability to affect or have some positive impact on, and yet there are a lot of things that are going on that that need addressing. It’s not even enough in my view to vote. Although if you haven’t voted, if you know somebody that does not vote in major elections, this is a huge issue in our world that half the eligible population of the United States, for example, does not vote in major elections. It’s shocking but it goes beyond that. What is implied or at least one of the serious implications about what your book represents and what you’re talking about is that we have a greater responsibility that many of us own at the moment. Is that fair?
It’s totally fair. That’s been a big worldview shift for me. The materialist perspective whether people realize that it’s embedded in our culture or not, it implies my life is finite. You’ve got one life to live. I’m separate from you. The goal is to collect as much material stuff as you can to make yourself as happy as possible. Maybe you give to charity. Maybe there are things you do but at the fundamental level, materialism teaches that we’re separate. Why should I care if something’s happening far away from me? What’s suggested by the science, in my opinion, is that we’re all connected. We should care a lot about things that are happening that seemed far away from us because they are a version of us.
It’s another part of the stream we are a part of. There’s no avoiding it. That’s probably one of the reasons I felt compelled to write about these things, even though they are not conventional by the science in 2018. At some point soon they will be, but that’s a big risk on the surface. However, I think about things differently now where there is an obligation of, “I have this knowledge that I spent all this time researching things. I can put it together in a way that will open things up for those who are interested. This is my way of contributing to this area. There are many areas that need contributions all over the world.”
It’s very much a book that distills down a lot of the science and makes it accessible, readable and understandable. I was a lawyer for eighteen years. I very much think in logical terms of how the premises lead to the conclusion and what’s the proof of stuff. There’s actual science that suggests that materialism is not the correct way to look at things. There’s a lot of opposition to that science, this opposition to what is otherwise irrefutable evidence. Why is that, Mark? Is there something that you think drives that continued denial of the evidence? What do you think is going to happen when this book is published? It’s going to hopefully have a large impact. I know it’s going to have a large impact.
You reminded me of one of the endorsers who wrote a quote about my book and he called the book, “An exposé.” It’s a science book but it does expose some of these issues where we’re seeing resistance to ideas that challenge the prevailing wisdom. That prevailing wisdom of materialism is, for some reason, scientific fact. It’s not even something you can argue with. It’s so entrenched. Why is it entrenched? There are a number of reasons we can speculate. I have a great quote from Dr. Ed Kelly at the University of Virginia who is aligned with the topics I’m talking about. He was kind enough to endorse my book. He says in one of his books, “We predict with certainty that, in the future, sociologists will look back at this period and try to understand how it took so long for people to realize and accept the science.”
It’s an unbelievable phenomenon, sociologically. Why do people resist something new? If you think about those who are in academia or have fancy PhDs and are really smart people, I’m not saying these people are not smart. They would have to admit that they were wrong about their overarching worldview. There is a potential ego issue of having to admit that one is wrong. That can be hard to do when you’ve spent a whole career on something. That’s challenging. Another challenge is something that I personally experienced which is I was willing to admit I was wrong. I knew, for example, that 96% of the universe is unknown dark matter and dark energy. Even before I was a materialist, I knew there were things I didn’t know. I was open to shifts. It’s a hard shift to make even if you’re open to it. To rethink about the world in a new way, it’s been about two years and I’m still adjusting to it. For me, I’ve been totally entrenched in it spending so much time on it. It’s really hard to shift how you think about things even if you’re open to it.
It’s the sunk cost fallacy.
I spent all this time with something else and I’ve got to give that up and think in a new way. You have to rethink everything about your own life of, “In this new reality, how do I think about that?”
If I’m connected to everything or to all other consciousness, what does that mean for how I live my life? If my consciousness doesn’t expire when my body is no longer, what does that mean for how I live my life? What are the implications we’re after? In fact, is there scientific evidence for past lives? Is that also implied by this?
I do have a chapter on that topic. If you think about it from this perspective of a whirlpool, the notion of a past life is like water that was in one whirlpool. It stopped being a whirlpool. It dissolved into the broader stream. It dissipated and then it became a new whirlpool. That’s this idea. There’s evidence from the University of Virginia, the Division of Perceptual Studies. This is at the med school. These are hardcore scientists looking at this, of children, usually between the ages of two and five who start speaking of a life that’s not theirs. It’s difficult to explain some of the detail that they’re able to provide. These are 50 years’ worth of studies at UVA, over 2,500 cases. In some cases, the researchers are able to find a person that matches the description of the child gives. In those cases, the most compelling ones, the children and even the families, would have had no way of knowing about this individual person.
Someone who died in a plane crash in the war, that’s an example that I talk about, very specific details. Sometimes the children have preferences that you can’t explain. They’re craving tobacco or alcohol or think about clothing that’s not something that’s in their everyday living with their parents. To me, the most compelling cases are ones where the children have physical deformities where they have birthmarks that match how they described dying in the previous life. These are chilling pictures to look at from the University of Virginia professors’ books on this topic. Sometimes you see a birthmark where there is an entry and exit wound of where a bullet went in and out of their body. The birthmark’s tied to that.
In one case that I show in the book, a little girl has what looked like constriction rings on her leg. It’s like her leg looks like it’s being tied in ropes. In fact, the past life that she’s describing was of a person who was tortured and had ropes tied around his leg. She has a leg that is shaped in that exact manner. There was a person found who died in that way. This is all pointing to the idea that the consciousness of our own body isn’t limited necessarily. That’s what’s implied by this to this singular life.
AI, artificial intelligence, is definitely a topic that’s on a lot of people’s minds. There are implications in regard to that as well.
Adam, more generally you’re hitting on an important point, which is that every topic in society, we have to rethink in this new context. AI is one. There is an assumption that’s not talked about often, and that AI will get to the point where it develops feelings. It develops its own consciousness and it has emotions, it has greed, it has pride. The show, Westworld, is a good example of that. The machines, it’s a scary thing where they start taking over. They get to a point of sophistication where, “I remember things. I have my own desires,” and they become human-like. The implication is that we can create a machine that develops its own consciousness. Is that true?
Under a materialist view, it would be true. A physical thing can produce a consciousness. You can replicate the brain, then you should be able to replicate that as well.
That’s what materialism would say is that all we have to do is understand the sophistication of the brain, replicate it and we’re done. Even Sir Federico Faggin, one of the founders of the microprocessor. This is someone who’s pretty credible in the area of AI. He comes to the same conclusion I do and is now writing about this, which is that, “We’re not going to be able to create a machine that has consciousness because consciousness is coming from something physical in the first place.” That’s not to say that AI isn’t dangerous. We can program a machine to do something that’s not good for people. We can program it to shoot at a person but still, in that case, it is a computationally intensive machine that doesn’t have feelings.
It’s not autonomous. It’s not doing things that its master isn’t telling it to do or hasn’t been programmed to do. We can program a machine to do terrible things and we have to be careful, as programmers, what we do. Can we make a machine that’s conscious on its own? I would argue we can’t create consciousness because it’s not coming from matter in the first place. This idea has to come into the debate about AI. We hear from Elon Musk, Stephen Hawking, and others who are terrified of AI. Embedded in thinking is this idea that AI can become conscious.
How has this impacted your life? We didn’t track your history very much other than what I said about you having worked in New York. You moved and ended up taking on a role in the investment banking space on the West Coast. You’re still in the business space. You still do a lot of business consulting. There was something that changed for you two years ago. You’ve written a book about it. Now you’re speaking widely and representing a number of organizations in this area. I’m sure you can’t create more hours in a day more than I can. You’ve got that much more of an active calendar and schedule. Other than the fact that you’re probably working double time these days because this is such a passion of yours, how else has your life changed as a result of what you’ve learned?
In so many ways. If we think about what’s the meaning of existence and that’s how I’ve always thought about things, why is it that I do anything that I do? Anything? Where does it come from? Where does that desire come from? Am I a biological machine? If I were a machine then I would do everything that my biology wants. I would see the chocolate cake over there and I would eat it every time, but I’m not that because I don’t eat it. Something is going on. I have some element of control. If I have control, what is it that I want to do? The life review gives us a hint as to what at least part of the meaning is of our existence, which seems to be it’s about how we treat one another.
That’s what matters after this physical body is going away. That’s what scientific studies on near-death experiences are suggesting. If that is true, we take it literally and following the logic. You are a lawyer, Adam, following the logic then the desire to help people which is something I’ve always had is something that’s intrinsic to my identity as consciousness. It’s something I’m fostering much more of how can I be of service to people in whatever ways that I am an expression of consciousness. For me, I guess that’s writing a book and of having discussions about this topic. I don’t know where that will lead to in the future but there’s much more of a focus on helping other people. Another area for me is making sure that I’m following my own passions.
If I’m a consciousness, first and foremost, if I’m not a body, first and foremost, then where are my desires coming from? Where is my urge to study these topics coming from? Is that coming from something more intrinsic to me? These are big questions but what I’m saying is that following my passions and paying more attention to what I’m passionate about is much more top of mind. This gets to questions of happiness. For our audience, all of us are looking for what’s happiness. There are probably things that if we look inside of ourselves, see what we’re passionate about, and follow those things naturally, we might have a better chance of achieving lasting happiness.
The brain limits us in many ways. I don’t mean just by intellect, IQ or something like that. The brain, as part of its functionality, the way that it’s constructed and wired, limits our consciousness on some level. You address that as well in the book that we’re not always thinking about these bigger things or can we wrap our brain around as the phrase goes. These concepts would otherwise lead us to obviously more and more questions. These also would help us to see the connection points between ourselves and everything in the world around us, including obviously all of our brothers and sisters. This is important, Mark, because the way that I’ve been addressing this topic and how I’ve seen a lot of other people over the years addressed this topic is through spirituality or sometimes through religion. Through belief in oneness or the interconnectedness of all beings and things like that or with reference to words like God, universe or spirit.
Another one of the implications of seeing this differently, of expanding our awareness, I can’t say expanding our consciousness, because if I buy into this book I can’t expand my consciousness. This whole idea of even raising my consciousness is silly because there’s a consciousness that exists. This large stream, I’m a whirlpool in that stream. I’m becoming more aware of what is. Our brain is wired to give us only a limited view of the stream. Is that right or not?
You’re onto it. This is a question that your audience might have had as we were talking about this connection between brain and consciousness. Don’t we know that the brain is related to consciousness? Yes. What I’m arguing is that the brain isn’t the producer but it’s a limiter. It’s a filtering mechanism or an antenna. That’s the way to think about it for those who have been confused about that topic. That was a big revelation for me. If we think about the brain as limiting us, only allowing us to see a portion of the stream, what is the potential function of that? Why might that be the case? This is getting to the point where we have to make inferences. What we see from near death experiences and from people that are able to channel different types of consciousness’s that are not local to them. Messages come about that relate to the idea of learning.
We are here to have experiences. If I didn’t have a limited consciousness right now, a limited experience of consciousness, then I wouldn’t be able to learn the things that the body of Mark is learning. It’s an enabler, in some sense, Adam, where it allows us to have specific experience that enables targeted learning experiences. Where the life of Mark, through this brain, is going to have certain experiences that someone else isn’t going to have. This is getting to the point of extrapolating a little bit, that if we think about our existence as learning then it makes a bit more sense.
If we think about the fundamental purpose of our existence from a biological standpoint, we’re here to live long enough to perpetuate the species. The main function on that level from a biological level is that we continue the species. We live long enough. We survive long enough to be able to see that the species continues. To limit our consciousness helps us to continue to exist as human beings, as a species of human beings, unless we become extinct.
If we had the exposure to the actual reality, would we function the way we do to be able to reproduce? Probably not. Donald Hoffman, a cognitive scientist, has looked at this topic from an evolutionary perspective. He’s run simulations on machines that see reality as it is versus machines that see a skewed picture, like we do, through our brains. Those who see reality as it is don’t survive as well. From an evolutionary perspective, it benefits us to see a limited picture of reality. Which again argues, should we use our perceptions to tell us about the broader reality? No, they give us an opportunity to survive and survive in this world but it doesn’t give us an accurate picture of what we’re in.
I love the analogy of the antenna. The whirlpool I get and that makes sense to me as well. The antenna, maybe it’s because of growing up and spending a lot of time driving in the car. My parents would always take us on these trips and things. We would drive from place to place, state to state. The stations would always change. I remember that we’d dial in to get a good clear signal and then 30, 40 miles later you have to change the station again. If you think of it as an antenna, in our particular place we can pick up whatever frequencies and information based on that reach. There’s more information that’s out there. There are more stations available, more music, more sports, more business, whatever it is but we’re not picking up those signals necessarily.
There are some people that are talented at this and they describe what you just talked about. To them, it’s like tuning in to a different station and they’re picking up different information that way. We’re not fostering it because it’s not conventionally accepted. I love the antenna analogy because it’s one that’s easy to relate to. It’s not fully precise because it presumes that there’s a separation still that there’s something outside then there’s me. The filter or the whirlpool keeps the oneness of it but the antenna is probably the one that got me initially because it’s relatable.
A television set has an antenna when you’re watching a show because the TV is receiving a signal from outside the TV set. I break the antenna and all of a sudden, my TV screen is scratchy. I know that the signal came from outside the TV set. It’s not produced by the television itself, and this is the brain consciousness analogy. That the brain is picking something up that’s not localized. To me, that was a world-changing revelation to think about the brain as this TV antenna. Where someone has brain damage and they get a scratchy screen. They lose their memory or something but it’s not because of their brain. Their brain is the TV set that’s processing a signal that’s not from the brain.
What you said about how the brain has a regulator, a limiter. There are people that had brain damage or in other ways are not functioning within some normal parameters. They have extraordinary gifts, access to information, and are able to do things that are savant-like. Those are related as well. The way that brain is constituted, they’re getting access to things that they wouldn’t otherwise if their brain was working within what we would call some normal functionality.
Under the materialist perspective, in order to have a heightened or enriched consciousness, you need more activity typically. That’s what’s implied. The more brain activity, more conscious experience. We get examples like savants who have severely damaged brains or impaired brains. They have abilities that are incredible. We see this in near-death experiences. The person has no brain functioning at all or some brain functioning but that’s minimal and they have an enriched experience. A person on psychedelics, there has been emerging studies where people have these enriched trips where it feels like a hyper-real thing and they have reduced brain functioning. These all go to the idea that when you limit the brain in certain ways, you have access to the broader reality that we’re typically filtering out.
Mark, with everything that’s going on in your world right now, how is it that you maintain your own harmony? What are some of the rituals or at least one ritual that you do to maintain your own personal harmony?
There are things that I do throughout the day that are subtle, which is remembering the reality that I’m in. I’m still hardwired based on my own old way of thinking and also our biology trains us to bias things based on what we can see and hear and everything, our senses. The reminder of, “Am I a body that has a consciousness? Am I something deeper?” Even thinking about that for a second pulls me back from whatever might be stressing me out. It’s an easy exercise to say, “Right now I’m aware I’m having this experience. It’s this subjective thing. Is that my identity?” It’s almost like a meditative practice, being aware of being aware. That’s something that I do throughout the day. The more I do it, the more even keeled I am.
There are other practices of different meditative practices and breathing practices. I have a BEMER mat. I don’t fully understand how it works but I know it’s done miracles for certain people. What I like about it is that it forces me to sit down on the mat for eight minutes in the morning, eight minutes at night. There are electrical pulses that go through it that apparently help with blood flow. That might be an added benefit. I mention it because it gives me that eight minutes in the morning, eight minutes at night to put my phone away and to try to just be.
Quieting the mind, I’m not a great meditator myself and part of my own ritual is in stillness mostly. In that stillness, it doesn’t mean that my brain isn’t actively sending me information. I’m not sure if there’s any difference, at least from my perspective, between sitting in stillness and being quiet even and meditation. They’re probably very much related things. The idea we could have a spiritual experience of living without it being “spiritual” is intriguing to me as part of this. In our world, sometimes when we refer to things in that way as spiritual or we use words like God, the universe or what have you or faith or belief. There’s a segment of folks that are ready to believe and want to believe. There’s a segment of our world that that’s not where they’re at. For other reasons, potentially they’re even averse to that.
What’s incredible about the work in this book and I’m highly recommending it to everybody in our audience and recommend that you also share this with other people, An End To Upside Down Thinking. This is a pre-publication release, An End To Upside Down Thinking: Dispelling The Myth That The Brain Produces Consciousness, And The Implications For Everyday Life. It’s been a real blessing to cover with you, Mark, some of that myriad of implications.
It has sparked something in me and everybody that I’ve heard you speak to. It’s been like lighting a fire. There’s so much more for us to understand the nature of our own existence. That doesn’t have to rely on religion or spirituality. I’m not opposed to religion or spirituality. I’ve been calling it spirituality for a long time. What it feels like to me is that this is the rule of existence. This is the Law of Existence versus something that you have to explain through faith or belief.
What you describe is what I’m hoping for with the book that it sparks something in certain people who are open to it in the same way that it sparked things for me. It completely changed my life and it completely changed my worldview. I wanted to make that accessible to people in the most condensed, accessible fashion possible. I’m hoping that it has that effect on those who are interested.
Thank you for writing the book. It’s been a blast to have you on the show. To the audience, I want to also remind you if you love this episode and I hope you have, that you’ll refer it to other people. If you haven’t yet subscribed to the podcast, go ahead and do that. We’d love the review. On iTunes, please leave a review and leave a comment. We’ll reply to it there. Our Facebook group has been growing. Tons and tons of people, like-hearted, like-minded folks are interested in these topics and you can get to that Facebook group by going to PivotFB.com or simply go to Start My Pivot Community on Facebook as well. This has been a joy for me, a pleasure. I loved every second.
I am reminded that it’s important that each of us become more awake. We started with at least my own ruminations on personal responsibility and it’s a great place to end as well. We have a fundamental responsibility to awaken whatever that means for each of us, individually in our lives. We all got to wake up, at least on the physical level we were able to wake up and that was not guaranteed. My appreciation at this moment is that we all get to wake up again. At that moment, when we are waking up, when we’re taking that first conscious breath, but when we’re aware of the fact that we are awake physically and breathing. We can also be aware of the fact that there will be people at that moment taking their last breath. There will be babies being born taking their first breath. There’s something that is special about that moment, something that deserves or can be the source of gratitude.
When you get to wake up, when I get to wake up when we are aware of that fact, we can be grateful. We can be in a state of appreciation. If you feel like it, even is something you’d like to test out for yourself. It’s been my ritual for about ten years now. In that moment of waking to say these words out loud, “I love my life. I love my life. I love my life.” I welcome you to try those words on for yourself and see if it changes how you feel as well. An End To Upside Down Thinking is available. You can go to Amazon to get it or you can go to MarkGober.com. Ciao for now. We’ll see you soon. Mark, thanks so much for being on the show.
Thanks so much, Adam.
- Mark Gober
- An End To Upside Down Thinking
- Sherpa Technology Group
- Dr. Ervin Laszlo’s Institute Of New Paradigm Research
- The Egyptian Book Of The Dead
- Tibetan Book Of The Dead
- The Conscious Pivot Podcast on iTunes
About Mark Gober
Mark Gober is an author whose worldview was turned upside down in late 2016 when he learned of phenomena that threaten the prevailing view in science that consciousness comes from the brain. After researching extensively, he became convinced that a paradigm shift was in order: biology does not produce consciousness; rather, consciousness produces biology. Implications are immense for science, technology, medicine and even for everyday issues like happiness, health, and relationships. His book, An End to Upside Down Thinking (Waterside Press, October 2018), has received endorsements from Jack Canfield, Goldie Hawn, #1 NYT bestseller Eben Alexander MD, 2-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee Dr. Ervin Laszlo, Pixar founder Loren Carpenter, UVA professor Ed Kelly, NYT bestseller Larry Dossey MD, and others. Mark is a senior member of Sherpa Technology Group in Silicon Valley, a firm that advises businesses on mergers & acquisitions and strategy. He previously worked as an investment banking analyst in New York. Mark has been quoted for his opinions on business and technology matters in Bloomberg Businessweek and elsewhere, and he has authored internationally published business articles. He graduated magna cum laude from Princeton University, where he was captain of the tennis team. Mark also represents Dr. Ervin Laszlo’s Institute of New Paradigm Research as Director of Corporate Relations.