27 May Diving Into Quantum Social Theory & The Nature of Mind with Justin Robinson
Justin Robinson is a renowned researcher and philosopher in the emerging field of Quantum Social Theory. We are extremely excited to have him host a 10-week course that is bound to change your view of reality. Read on to learn more about quantum theory, how Justin had his mind blown by a crow, and his best tips on bringing mindfulness and inquiry of time and space into your daily life.
By Lina Konovalov
To register for Mind, Language and Reality: A Quantum Exploration click here.
Lina: Hey Justin! So happy to have you here today. You are a very unique contributor to The Virtual Sentinel Store, in that your offering to us is like no other! In fact, I haven’t really seen anything in the realm of quantum social theory before. Can you tell us, in brief, what that is, and what your course entails?
Justin: Quantum social theory is looking at what human beings and society would be like if we understood the mind as a macroscopic quantum phenomenon. It’s trying to provide a correction to social sciences’ implicit assumption that the human mind is simply a side effect of a classical machine. If that assumption were true, we would expect human beings to operate in a 100% mechanical, 100% defined, and 100% way.
Lina: The behaviourist point of view, right?
Justin: Yeah! The materialist idea of what a human being is. The weird thing is, most of us don’t walk around in our daily lives acting like that’s true – but all of our social science is founded on this implicit assumption that it is. So then we end up creating structures in society that lock us into certain ways of behaving, and are limited in terms of what we are capable of and how we can fully express our potential. In this course, I’m trying to open up this new idea of what the human mind is, and in so doing, help humans be more free and creative than what they’ve known themselves to be.
Lina: Beautiful! This is some complex stuff! I’m wondering, what is your background, and how did you get into the wonderful world of quantum physics and quantum social theory?
Justin: I did my undergraduate degree in Communications and Masters in Leadership. What I was particularly interested in was two things – one was complexity science, and two was the philosophy of language. Let me tell you a crazy story about how I came across quantum physics: I was reading this philosopher Timothy Morton in his book ‘Hyperobjects’, where he’s exploring what it means for human beings to exist together in this crazy world. He says any philosophy that is worth its weight today has to address the three most complex sciences: general relativity, quantum physics, and ecology. He gives this example that birds have quantum scale magnets in their eyes which allow them to detect the quantum signature of the earth’s magnetic field, which is why a bird can migrate 10,000 miles back to the exact same square meter that it left last year. It’s nuts. If birds have that in their biology, doesn’t it mean we have that in ours? That same day, I’m walking down the street and this crow dive bombs into my head! That started my journey. I wrote a chapter in my Master’s thesis looking at how we might look at quantum physics as a doorway into addressing problems around sustainability and planetary challenges that human beings are facing in the present era.
Lina: So, you had your mind blown by quantum theory, and then you went on to develop this course. What do you want to bring to your participants and humanity with it?
Justin: There’s a couple things. I’m a long-term practitioner of meditation. The addition of the quantum social theory and quantum theory of the mind has actually helped me understand those experiences in a much more profound way. It’s given me an even deeper appreciation for the true nature of my mind. In my experience, it’s helped me be more free. So I’d like other people to play in that sand-box with me, to see if they can have a similar experience. Number two is that when I look at some of the biggest challenges we’re facing in society today, my sense of it personally is that some of the very attempts people are making to resolve these issues are actually stuck in a paradigm – the classical paradigm of what a human being is. So, the attempts to resolve it are actually making it worse. My belief is that there is a correction needed on many levels in our understanding of what we are as human beings. Quantum social theory can help us correct that, and I believe if we can do that a little bit, it will give us the capacity to resolve some of the worst issues we are facing.
Lina: Well said, and I think those are some really noble aspirations you have. I really like your scientific approach, too. I typically find that new age understandings of spirituality are often void of science and scientific research. How do you reconcile the two? In other words, where do you find that the worlds of spirit and science intersect?
Justin: First of all, I want to mention that there continues to be a taboo in speaking of the mind as a quantum phenomenon, for precisely the reason you just mentioned, which is that it kind of gets lumped in with some hocus-pocus new-agey thing. However, I do want to say two things about that. First, is that taboos can crumble very quickly – and there is a significant amount of rigorous academic work by prominent academics that is being done in this area right now. Secondly, how do I reconcile science and spirituality? Well, I don’t really know what spirituality is, and I don’t consider myself an expert in that. All I know is that when I meditate, that is my only understanding of what spirituality is. It’s a big question of what is this? I don’t expect to ever get an answer to that, but I love the question.
Lina: Well, spirituality definitely can be quantified! Studies have put Tibetan monks through MRI’s and seen parts of their brains get deactivated, specifically the ones involved in regulating emotion. You can start to get a map of what it means to dissolve the ego.
Justin: That’s very interesting! Luckily, I have been blessed to work with meditation teachers who do have scientific bends. One of my meditation teachers is Shinzen Young, who runs a meditation lab at Arizona State University. His vision is the unification of meditation, spirituality and science. My other teacher is Dan Brown, who has been on the Medical Faculty at Harvard for 40 years. He’s a very influential Western Psychologist and is the only person authorized by the Dalai Lama to teach Mahamudra in the west. So, he’s actually one of the people who’s done some of these studies, taking meditators and showing different stages of awakening. They show what happens in the brain at each stage.
Lina: Super interesting stuff! In your course, you claim that participants will have their view of reality changed. Could you extrapolate more on that?
Justin: There’s multiple ways in which that can happen.The most profound way is that I feel we are all, to some degree or another, under this hypnosis – even if we don’t realize it. It is so entrenched in how our society operates: in our economic system, in our government policy. All the things that give our society shape and structure are informed by this underlying classical paradigm of what the human mind is. I want to give people an opening to see something different. I think in engaging with these questions, it is transformative. There is even a community called ‘Time Space and Knowledge’, and one of the underlying assertions that they make is that engaging in a sustained deep inquiry of time, space and knowledge does have a liberating effect on the human personality. My belief is that people who attend the class and engage in a 10-week inquiry about the nature of their mind, and what time and space is and how that relates, is going to have some kind of effect where you have the opportunity to become a little unmoored or unleashed in your own expression.
Even if you take the heart sutra and break it down, it just represents empty constructs of the mind. To me, that is exactly what you can learn about the nature of the mind if you study quantum social theory. You start to realize that what you imagine is your self is just thoughts and things that are arising inside of this indefinite boundless timeless wave function.
Lina: It’s interesting because when you look at your page it sounds very futuristic and almost transhumanist, but then you say this stuff about the contemplation of time, space and knowledge, and it makes me realize that this is an inquiry that is ancient. We’ve been contemplating these things since the dawn of time! Your offering is new, but it’s an age-old question.
Justin: It is age-old, and that has been one of the most fascinating personal revelations for me. I’ve heard people say that there are a lot of similarities between Buddhist understandings of the mind and what quantum social theory would tell us about the mind. Even if you take the heart sutra and break it down, it just represents empty constructs of the mind. To me, that is exactly what you can learn about the nature of the mind if you study quantum social theory. You start to realize that what you imagine is your self is just thoughts and things that are arising inside of this indefinite boundless timeless wave function. Long story short, you’re right. It is an ancient inquiry, and the people who’ve paid the most attention to it studied it from a direct experiential perspective. The insights they have that caused them to wake up and have these big lives is the same insights that I think a quantum theory of the mind lets you access, if you contemplate it the right way.
Lina: Well there are so many spiritual traditions, and so many doors and access points, ultimately all bringing us to one fundamental realization. I don’t even know what that realization is, because I’m not enlightened. Yet. Before we get too heady, let’s talk about some simple daily mindfulness practices you would recommend to our readers as an entry point to becoming more attuned to spirit and the metaphysical realm.
Justin: It depends where you are in your meditative journey, but if you’re at the beginning, one of the first things you need to do is develop a baseline level of concentration. In today’s world we tend to be missing that. My recommendation for people just starting out is to do 5 minutes, 2 or 3 times a day. During those 5 minutes, marshall all of your resources, and set a very strong intention that you’re going to take your mind and turn it like a steering wheel towards whatever you are focusing on. Use intensity with your meditation practice! That can just be focusing on your breath. If you’ve already got that baseline level and have deeper insights into the nature of mind, I would recommend getting into practices around spaciousness and time. For example, a quick one you can do with your eyes open is seeing the visual field, and then seeing the space beyond that, and the space beyond that, and the space beyond that, until you make contact with some aspect of reality that appears to be boundless. If you can hold your attention there for even a short period of time, it should have some pretty interesting consequences for you.
Lina: I actually haven’t heard of that one before! Thanks for giving us so much to chew on. We at The Sentinel are happy to partner with you to inspire these important mindset shifts within our community and in the world. Thanks for being a part of that and bringing this knowledge to us! We really appreciate it.
Justin Robinson’s mind-blowing course Mind, Language and Reality: A Quantum Exploration is available now inside The Virtual Sentinel.