Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to have a conversation with Dr. Deepak Chopra on the topics of healing, consciousness, and the nature of reality.
One of the really beautiful questions he asked was,
Where is this experience we are having now happening?
At first, the answer seems like an easy one. The experience we were having--two people conversing in front of an audience--was happening in a room near Broadway in Manhattan. I could've easily answered "New York City."
Similarly, the experience you are having now--reading words on a screen--is also happening in a physical location. Easy answer, right?
Not so fast.
Let me add a little context. Prior to this question we had already discussed that all physical locations, such as New York City, are structured in space. So the question Deepak was really asking was,
Where is space located?
This is a decidedly tougher question, and there is no answer that everyone will agree on. A physicist might answer that space formed with the Big Bang 13.7 billion years ago, but that still doesn't tell us what the pre-conditions of space were. A mathematician might suggest that the space we know can be traced to an abstract vector space known as Hilbert space. But then where is Hilbert space?
The reason science doesn't have an answer to this question is because it is still trying to cleave space from the mind that imagines it. The simple answer to the question of where Hilbert space is located is that it is in the mind. Yet this answer seems insufficient... why?
We are used to thinking that the mind is exclusively related to the brain, and therefore that the mind is located in the head. Hilbert space couldn't possibly be located in the head of just one person right?
It's a reasonable question, but its premise is wrong. The mind is not located in the head, and is not exclusively related to the brain. This is a common misconception that is taught from grade school through medical school. If you observe the behavior of cells distributed throughout the body, you will see mind-like behavior that includes communication with other cells, eating, drinking, and going through an entire life cycle. These mind-like cells constitute the human body, yet they don't have a brain per se…
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Anoop Kumar, MD, MM is board certified in Emergency Medicine and holds a Master’s degree in Management with a focus in Health Leadership from McGill University. He practices in the Washington, DC metro area, where he also leads meditation gatherings for clinicians. He is the author of the book Michelangelo’s Medicine: How redefining the human body will transform health and healthcare. Follow him @DrAnoopKumar.