Meaning: our assignment of value and judgment to everything that crosses our field of vision, experience or awareness. Not only “meaning” as in life purpose, but every event and circumstance can be perceived and responded to in myriad ways. Quantum physics makes it clear that in very fundamental ways, the “out there” is not separate from the “in here,” and internal states of consciousness, through quantum processes, influence (what appears to be) the external environment.

We perceive a tiny fraction of the light spectrum with our 5 senses, and think it is the whole of reality. We are just beginning to learn what Nobel laureate Roger Sperry meant when he said consciousness is a causal (not to be confused with casual) reality, and that our meanings have a potent causal role.

The failure to adequately understand the nature and role of transcendent meaning in the development of a healthy psyche and society has led to skyrocketing rates of mental, emotional, and behavioral dysfunction.

We have a profound capacity to choose/assign meanings (a crowning frontal lobe capacity) and, as observers collapsing quantum waves of possibility into actualities, the meanings we choose (at this time all too unconsciously) profoundly affect “reality”. This leads to a new motivation to pay attention to assumptions and conclusions (meanings and interpretations) and pick the ones that will have the greatest positive benefit.

Check our other Meaning Matters initiatives

“Freedom means freedom in the face of 3 things: 1) the instincts, 2) inherited disposition, and 3) environment. Man is by no means merely a product of heredity and environment. There is a third element: choice. Man must ultimately decide for himself! And, in the end, education must be education toward the capacity to choose.” Viktor Frankl, MD, concentration camp survivor

“Recent research by Drs. Barbara L. Fredrickson and Roy F. Baumeister has demonstrated that people need meaning to flourish. Their research findings, which have grabbed media attention, confirm three decades of research documenting that meaning-making is the most versatile human capacity to reduce suffering and increase happiness. Paul T Wong, PhD psychologist

Meaning is something transcendent and interconnecting…it is about relationship. Meaning and interrelating will become central as we enter what some have called the Age of Relationship (like Terry Mollner, EdD, chairman, Stakeholders Capital (7B in assets managed), founder Calvert social Investment Fund and fellow of the World Business Academy).

“The highest and most complex sense of relationship is expressed in consciousness.  Thus the most highly evolved form of existence is seen in the human consciousness.  It is expressed in its highest form in those who are the most developed with respect to their relationship with all else in the cosmos near and far.  Those most highly evolved would also have the greatest capacity for further evolution, for advantageous change, for adapting to changing circumstances.  They would be the ones with the greatest capacity to resolve difficulties…to find ways to survive even under intolerable circumstances…We can no longer relate to ourselves without regard for our relationship to all of life...our minds are linked and interrelated.”  Jonas Salk, (developed polio vaccine), from Anatomy of Reality: Merging Intuition and Reason

Relationship and meaning go hand-in-hand, we need them, we are wired for them, and things go haywire with all the isolation and alienation common today. “So the opposite of addiction is not sobriety. It is human connection.”

“A human being is a part of the whole, called by us “Universe”.  He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest – a kind of optical illusion of his consciousness.  This delusion is a prison restricting us…”  Albert Einstein

It’s not our brain that deceives us, it’s our 5 senses. But we rely exclusively on those physical senses. It’s the empirical way.

Unfortunately the current mechanistic, materialist, classical, Newtonian, Cartesian paradigm holds that the universe is made up of separate parts and pieces, a random, accidental, meaningless universe with no cause and no purpose.

Dangerous world theories and psych conditions: (2010)

“………ETAS [Evolutionary Threat Assessment Systems] Theory explains how beliefs* related to the dangerousness of the world can directly affect psychiatric symptoms through their effects on specific brain structures”.

*like the mechanistic/materialist scientific paradigm.

“Science is complex and chilling. The mathematical language of science is understood by very few. The vistas it presents are scary—an enormous universe ruled by chance and impersonal rules, empty and uncaring, ungraspable and vertiginous.” — Isaac Asimov

It may surprise readers to know that there is no scientific evidence for two basic materialist/classical assumptions: consciousness is emergent from matter, the Big Bang was an accident or numbers game with no purpose or meaning behind it.

Stephen Gould (paleontologist, evolutionary biologist), clearly denounces the notion that life is destined to produce mind…”The history of Earth is a giant lottery with far more losers than winners. ..We should then be forced to agree with Monad’s melancholy conclusion: “Man at last knows he is alone in the unfeeling immensity of the universe, out of which he has emerged only by chance.” “

No evidence, but lots of chutzpah.

“Contemporary western medicine is likened to a well-organized heroic technologically sophisticated effort devotedly engaged in this task and often quite well rewarded, of pulling drowning people out of a raging river. The establishment members never raise their eyes or minds to inquire upstream and around the bend in the river, about who or what is pushing all these people in.” Israeli-American medical sociologist Aaron Antonovsky

“…the discipline of psychology knows very little about what keeps people mentally well and flourishing (Wissing, 2000). Literature on people’s psychological health and adaptive strengths is very limited.” Henriëtte Van den Berg Department of Psychology. University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa

Einstein said major problems can’t be solved with the same consciousness that created them. The quantum model – which features consciousness, interconnectedness, and meaning as foundational principles – is the new consciousness…which is also quite ancient and indigenous.

“All things of the Universe Wheel have Spirit and Life, including the rivers, rocks, Earth, sky, plants, and animals. But it is only man, of all the Beings on the Wheel, who is a determiner. Our determining spirit can be made whole only through the learning of our harmony with all our brothers and sisters, and with all the other spirits of the Universe. To do this we must learn to seek and perceive. We must do this to find our place within the Medicine Wheel. To determine this we must learn to Give-Away.”Hyemeyohsts Storm

We are wired for interconnectedness and transcendence. But we have to do training to not be hypnotized by our 5 physical senses (that we are raised to honor and indulge). We see slight fraction of the light spectrum and call that “reality”. There are many ways to get past the limits of the 5 physical senses and access more of the light spectrum metaphorically and literally.

We are raised in the mindset of parts, categorization, and separation (left hemisphere capacities).

There’s lots of research that seeking meaning and deep purpose (not just food, shelter, clothing, sex) leads to flourishing, more optimism (shown to have many benefits) and better health, relationships and productivity/creativity. We are wired for meaning and purpose and we are designed to thrive in the seeking and determining of meaning.

By redirecting awareness and attention toward what contributes to flourishing rather than floundering, we individually and collectively can create a new universe of possibility. Many physicists (and many for a very long time) have seriously undertaken the exploration of consciousness as a causal, not secondary or emergent, reality.

Meaning in the universe? Information theory, first called Communication Theory, is far more than a technical field. Information theory has a very cosmological application, which ties it to the fundamental role of meaning. Findings from many fields have converged

Regarding meaning and information theory, we encourage a little research on the difference between syntactic and meaningful (semantic) information…which begs the question of purposeful advancement. If life evolved in a direction towards greater complexity, that is essentially saying it has progressed in a particular direction…”advancement” is towards something…adaptations fit with a map, outfitted with some guidance towards further and more of something… greater and greater complexity.

If evolution was merely about survival, simple organisms or animals have survived just fine – thereby accomplishing y the conventionally proposed goal of evolution (adaptation and survival) – well before advancement into further stages of complexity and consciousness into meaning-seeking. Which if frustrated actually threatens planetary survival…as we have seen.

Seeking meaning and purpose is not a trait for survival (let alone flourishing) unless finding meaning (opposed to “finding food” so to speak or seeking pleasures and avoiding pain) is essential for a healthy well-leveraged life. But we need healthy access to our emotions and we teach nothing about that…medicate not meditate (which basically means to contemplate). In fact we teach away from that.

It makes no, zero, logical sense that we would be deeply and profoundly wired for seeking meaning in an ultimately meaningless universe…actually, it would be profoundly anti-adaptive. By the way, God and religion are by no means necessary for postulating or seeking ultimate or transcendent meaning in the universe.

We are wired for interconnectedness and transcendence. But we have to do training to not be hypnotized by our 5 physical senses (that we are raised to honor and indulge). We see slight fraction of the light spectrum and call that “reality”. There are many ways to get past the limits of the 5 physical senses and access more of the light spectrum metaphorically and literally.

There’s lots of research that seeking meaning and deep purpose (not just food, shelter, clothing, sex) leads to flourishing; more optimism (shown to have many benefits) and better health, relationships and productivity/creativity. We are wired for meaning and purpose and we are designed to thrive in the seeking and determining of meaning.

Concentration camp survivor, Viktor Frankl, MD, wrote Man’s Search for Meaning and makes the case that the drive or will to seek meaning is the most important not Freud’s pleasure seeking, and later psychologists’ theory of power-seeking. He created Logotherapy (logo from Greek logos, “meaning”):

“Existential philosophy deserves the credit for having proclaimed the existence of man as a form of being sui generis. Thus [John D] Jaspers calls the being of man a “deciding” being, not something that simply “is” but something that first decides “what it is”…when he ceases to be subjugated and blindly obedient to the constraints imposed by the biological factor (race), the sociological factor (class), or the psychological factor (characterological type) [when he transcends constraints/limitations]`- only then can he be judged morally. 

The meaning of concepts like those of merit and guilt stands and falls on our belief in man’s true capacity for not simply accepting as fated limitations all the above-mentioned constraints, on his capacity for seeing them instead as challenges bidding him shape his destiny and his life…a man can be ethically judged only where he is free to decide to act responsibly; he is not to be judged where he is no longer free.”

In the mechanistic, materialist behavioral model, we react, we don’t really choose. “Logotherapy is ultimately education toward responsibility; the patient must push forward independently toward the concrete meaning of his own existence…Decisions not conditions are the key to mental health.” Viktor Frankl

Meaning is the name of the game. It’s connected to the Observer Effect.

“Reality is in a certain sense, made up of a few iron posts of definite observation between which we fill in, by an elaborate work of imagination and theory, all the rest of the construction we call reality. I like the story of the three umpires relaxing over beer one afternoon and comparing notes. One umpire says, “I calls ‘em as I sees ‘em.” The next umpire says, “I calls ‘em as they really are.”. The third one says, “They ain’t nothing until I call’em.” Physicist John Archibald Wheeler

Meaning and Interconnectedness go hand-in-hand in the quantum paradigm. And in every day reality.

“. . . human beings have a deep need to bond and form connections. It’s how we get our satisfaction. If we can’t connect with each other, we will connect with anything we can find — the whirr of a roulette wheel or the prick of a syringe. He says we should stop talking about ‘addiction’ altogether, and instead call it ‘bonding.’ A heroin addict has bonded with heroin because she couldn’t bond as fully with anything else.”

“What is man that the universe should be mindful of him? …is not man an unimportant bit of dust on an unimportant region somewhere in the vastness of space? No! The philosopher of old was right! Meaning is important, even central.” Physicist John Archibald Wheeler

“If a society set out to design a creation myth to scare the living daylights out of everybody, you couldn’t do a better job than modern western science.” Ret physics professor, Roger Jones, PhD

“As with energy and matter, mind and matter may be equivalent even though they appear completely different. And just as energy and matter are related through a third entity, the speed of light, mind and matter also may be related through a third entity, meaning.” Larry Dossey, MD