Put a helmet on your head to keep your brain from exploding. This is deep stuff! Goswami digs deep into the relationship between quantum theory and the existence of the human soul.

The author is deeply invested in taking ancient ideas about death and reincarnation and re-interpreting them [or validating them] with modern physics. His central ideas revolved around the “bardos”, portals through life and death described in the Tibetan Book of the Dead. Goswami redefines the soul as a non-local monad that gathers knowledge as it enters and exits various incarnations. He explains the difference between the kind of memory that a living person has and the kind of memory that souls possess.

Goswami has written previous books on related subjects. Over twenty years of accumulated ideas provide the foundation of the analysis presented in Physics of the Soul. The author has a charming way of explaining this incredibly complex topic, but sometimes the explanations can seem glib, or pass lightly over a point that needs further analysis or explanation.

Esoteric ideas about reincarnation and the human soul have been discussed for millennia, and mostly in terms of religious or mystical jargon. What purpose does it serve to recycle these ideas into quantum physics? Does it make skeptical scientists feel better about reincarnation? Does it make it somehow more digestible for the mainstream public? Hard to judge, and hard to tell. This is a book that demands time and attention from the reader, as well as some capacity for grasping the concepts of quantum physics. Not easy stuff at a first approach! Readers who have done prior reading on quantum physics will have the edge on understanding the information.

The author's purported goal is to help the reader be less fearful of death and dying. Readers who are able to grasp his points may well gain this benefit.

Like any work about death and the afterlife, there's no way to prove the substance of Goswami's conjectures. Death and the afterlife are a Big Mystery. Unlike traditional religions, the author is not trying to gain power through bluffing, so aptly described by Bertrand Russell [i.e. if you believe in this, you’ll go to heaven, and if you don’t you’ll go to hell]. There's no promise of an exclusive afterlife, and he's not pimping his theories to create a congregation of believers. That in itself is a comfort. Still, the author faces the same problem Einstein had before that 1918 solar eclipse transformed his theory of relativity from conjecture into a legitimate theoretical tool: there's no way to prove his theories. The concepts of quantum physics tend to be proof-resistant by their very nature. Goswami juggles them around with a great deal of sophistry that may or may not appeal to readers.

This is an unusual book that takes effort to read and time to let the ideas sink in, but it’s worth the effort for those who are attracted to a 21st century quantum interpretation of the life-death continuum.

~review by Elizabeth Hazel

Author: Amit Goswami, Ph.D.
2nd edition, Hampton Roads Publishing (Red Wheel/Weiser), 2001, 2013;
289 pg, $21.95 pb

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