Ah, intellectual and inspirational bliss.
A free, downloadable, thoughtful, well-written "Course in Consciousness" that moves smoothly from down to earth quantum theory to soaring spirituality.
This is my cup of reading tea. I've only been able to quickly browse through the 242 pages of Stanley Sobottka's writing, but I can tell that there's a lot to like here.
Sobottka is an Emeritus Professor of Physics at the University of Virginia, so obviously he knows his scientific stuff.
His deep knowledge of, and appreciation for, Buddhist/Advaita teachings is more surprising – though he isn't the only physicist to wade into some deep philosophical waters (Amit Goswami and Shimon Malin are some others).
Check out Sobottka's short "Dialogue in Consciousness" for an overview of his approach. I resonate with almost everything he says, though I can't help repeating my mantra, "What do I know?"
I learned about the Course in Consciousness from a post on the Church of the Churchless forum. It quoted a paragraph on page 184:
Particularly destructive among the self-deluded spiritual teachers are those who teach that only they and their personal power can bring freedom, or that they are the ones best suited for the task. They would merely strengthen the chains of our bondage. No genuine teacher will imply that we need anything or anyone, since we are already free and complete. A teacher's function is to convey this to the student, and to help him or her to see that. A teacher is at best an invaluable resource to the student, and at worst, a "false prophet", the deluded purporting to teach the deluded, the blind trying to lead the blind.
Amen to that.
This passage from page 101 also appealed to me:
In summary, the following is what physics (plus some simple logic) tells us: There are no objects. There is only a series of observations. There is no observer. There is only nonlocal universal consciousness. As we shall see later, these statements are the essence of both Advaita and Buddhism. (In Advaita, nonlocal universal consciousness is called pure Awareness. In Mahayana Buddhism, it is called primordial consciousness, or buddha-nature.) It is remarkable that physics, which is the science of external, objective reality, can tell us so much about subjective reality, and also can be in such agreement with our most profound nondualistic teachings.
I'm a big fan of science. I also am attracted to the nondual teachings that constitute much of Sobottka's course.
It seems crazy that to know reality, we'd have to ignore half of it: objectivity or subjectivity. Consciousness seemingly links the outer and the inner, science and spirit, physics and mysticism – because if we're not conscious of something, it doesn't exist for us.
Here's Sobottka's Chapter 26: "Very short summary"
The following concepts, like all concepts, cannot describe Reality, but, unlike most concepts, they point to Reality.
1. The premise: Consciousness is all there is. Another word for Consciousness is the impersonal, yet intimate, I.
2. The conclusions:
I am not an object or entity.
Objects and entities are never real.
Whatever is supposed to happen will happen. Whatever is not supposed to happen will not happen. There is no doer, so there is no choice.
The entire manifestation is an expression of Love.
3. The practice: Don't believe this—look and see it for yourself!
This interview with Sobottka also encapsulates his outlook.
[Technical note: Sobottka's web site has links to some interesting PowerPoint presentations. If you don't have PowerPoint, you can view them with a free PowerPoint viewer.]