Sobottka is an emeritus (retired) professor of physics. I enjoyed reading the short version of his course, a 75-slide Power Point presentation. I was curious to see whether his philosophical/spiritual take on quantum physics made more sense than Chopra's.
The jury inside my head is still out on that question. After I finished reading the slides, my impression was interesting, but not persuasive. Meaning, I didn't come across any grand insights that weren't already pretty familiar to me.
Sobottka is big into nondualism.
He regularly refers to sages like Ramana and Nisargadatta. Having read several books by these gurus, I wasn't surprised to find that parts of Sobottka's presentation produced the same question marks in my head as those books did.
Here's some examples.
What is, is. It's difficult, if not impossible, to disagree with that.
If I stumble on the dance floor, or during my Tai Chi class, that's a fact. It's reality, what happened. But the next time I attempt the same move, I find nothing wrong in learning from my experience and changing what seemed to produce the stumble.
I don't feel separate from my "body sensation" when I try to change a bodily action. Nor do I feel separate from my thoughts when I decide to think about something different than what is currently in my mind.
Change happens. Change is part of life.
Heck, it's reasonable to say, change is life. A lifeless rock is much different from a living flower. Resisting change, including our natural desires and intentions, doesn't seem like a healthy or wise way to live.
This slide makes the same point. Again, I don't find that trying to change something -- whether inside or outside of me -- produces an increased sense of separation. As dishes pile up in our sink, there comes a point when I think, "I should put them in the dishwasher."
Doing so, I neither feel more or less separate from the world. I don't feel that something is wrong when dishes get dirty. That's what dishes are for: to put food on them, some of which sticks to the surface.
So I don't see how taking action to produce a change is a problem. This is the way of nature, including the laws of nature that Sobottka studied as a physicist.
Another part of the presentation that produced a "huh?" in my psyche concerned concepts. This slide makes some good points. We don't perceive reality as it is, but as our human perception makes it out to be.
The same holds true for dogs, cats, bats, goldfish, and every other conscious entity. We don't know what the cosmos is like from a detached "God's Eye" perspective. What would that perspective consist of? It'd just be another way of perceiving, not reality as it is absent perception.
Sobottka appears to accept an interpretation of quantum theory which posits that an act of observation leads to possibilities/probabilities becoming actualities. I guess this is what he means when he says "if there are no mental images, there are no objects."
This is questionable. I find it hard to believe that the 14 billion year old universe didn't exist until conscious beings with minds came along.
How is it that physicists and cosmologists have been able to trace the history of the universe so persuasively, including deep space images of galaxies that formed soon after the big bang, if there were no objects? (Since "mental images" weren't part of the cosmos until minds evolved.)
Trees, stars, stones, water, grass, and what-not are defined and delimited by human cognition, even though ecologists, environmentalists, and systems theorists point out the interconnectedness of everything.
But to say that an object is nothing but a concept...hmmmmm. Maybe, maybe not. This seems to be a philosophical notion that could be debated endlessly, like so many other, well, concepts.
Yes, Sobottka uses lots of concepts in his "A Course of Consciousness." What else can he do? He is a human being with a mind/brain, who wants to communicate with other people.
What's wrong with that? What's wrong with concepts? Or, change?
Nondualism, as with most other mystical, religious, and spiritual teachings, sees big problems at the heart of life and living. We're screwed up, seeing things wrongly, enmeshed in illusion, deceived by the human psyche.
Well, as I so often say: maybe; maybe not. I now lean toward the latter. And in that regard, Sobottka agrees with me in the first part of the first slide I shared in this post. We feel things should be different from the way they are, but how could they be?
So there's the big contradiction I see in my admittedly brief foray into "A Course of Consciousness." It teaches that on the one hand, reality is what it is. On the other hand, we humans need to overcome our inability to comprehend reality as it really is.
This presumes that some person knows what reality really is, that nondualism, or monotheism, or materialism, or idealism, or some other "ism" can capture the essence of the cosmos. Or at least point us toward our own experience of that essence.
Maybe. Maybe not. Again, I lean toward "not." And I also lean toward accepting human experience for what it is, not for what some sage, guru, or philosopher says it might be.
Change happens. Concepts happen. What's wrong with that?