My Philosophy & Consciousness Stories on Medium

Tom Nickel
8 min readSep 12, 2021

I was a Philosophy Major. I read the famous dead European guys from Plato and Aristotle to Hegel and Marx. Very little of what they had to offer penetrated my 20 year old brain, high on drugs and freedom. I saw the questions they were asking, most of them.

Because the Spring Semester of 1970 was literally blown away by world events, I also read outside the coursework. Specifically, I read Thomas Kuhn’s, “Structure of Scientific Revolutions,” and Teillard de Chardin’s, “The Phenomenon of Man” one after another in March.

I see Kuhn as a modern Constructivist; ie, what we call scientific laws aren’t objective principle waiting to be discovered; they are socially constructed entities to be discussed and engaged with.

I see Teillard de Chardin as a modern idealist, tracing the spiritual progress of an idea being worked out in history. He invented the term, ‘noosphere,’ referring to the layer of mind he believes we have created like green plants created the oxygen-rich lower atmosphere.

No one has informed my philosophical and spiritual thougfht more than these two thought leaders.

X-Meditators vs CIA, Part 1

X-Meditators vs CIA, Parts 1–7

July 28-August 13, 2021

This seven-part story focuses on the power of meditation. It looks into the intersecting lives of Itzhak Bentov and Robert Monroe as a lens for considering different threads of meditation from New Age to the Military.

Bentov emerges as a central figure, with an explanation of consciousness that becomes involved in all of the threads.

I knew Ben and I have been wanting to write this story for 50 years. I wrote it when I did because declassified CIA Reports based on his work were trending on TikTok.

Schrodinger’s Vax

Schrodinger’s Vax

May 1, 2021

Quantum physics is said to be impossibly strange, stranger even than Chia Pets. But I’m not sure. I like some people and I also don’t like them at the same time. I agree and disagree with certain propositions. Definite features are not a characteristic of my inner experience. It’s a characteristic of rationality, materialism, and science.

My vaccination status is in superposition. Maybe I’m making antibodies right now while I’m writing these words, maybe I’m not. Both are true. I have achieved quantum immunity.

New Quantum Narrative

New Quantum Narrative

January 17, 2021

Entangled particles are just the particle expression of one propagating wave front.

I’m an Armchair Quantum Physicist and this is how I would explain the world we live in to my grandkids.

I am not the first to point out that Pro Quantum Physicists (ie, not the Armchair variety) have been dishing up mere ‘Interpretations’ of their measurements of wave/particle interactions for decades.

Everyday Entanglement

Everyday Entanglement

July 11, 2020

The default option is to take in whatever happens, making a few selections from within a restricted range of options, which are all primed and waiting to hijack human attention, every minute of every day.

In order to keep individual values aligned at scale, attention must be captured at scale and focused on the the appropriate content.

Attention can be un-hijacked.

Meditation, one example, teaches us to notice what comes into our field of attention without judging it. Repetition on a daily basis over time influences what we attend to and for how long.

One Brain, One Human?

One Brain, One Human?

June 29, 2020

At least there’s one thing we can be Certain about, right?

At least we have Our Self.

There’s something inside. It’s definitely there. It’s impossible not to be aware of it.

Lots of people today love the idea that we can capture that Presence inside. Make it into a file. That the inner Presence we associate with Our Self can be fully described in data, which can then be retained in perpetuity. USBs-R-Us!

Inside Someone Else’s Head

Inside Someone Else’s Head

June 26, 2020

The whole idea that other people have something going on in there (mental states), kind of like we do, is something we gradually figure out. We don’t come out intuitively understanding this — it is an ability that develops.

It seems to develop differently in different cultures. Social environments around the world today shape how we look at our own and others’ inner experience. The cultures of earlier humans also must have influenced how we looked at each other in ways that would seem like a science fiction novel to us now.

Rebel Mode

Rebel Mode

June 14, 2020

Camus has aged well as an artist. Rebelling in the face of absurdity is an attractive stance to many, including me.

He also didn’t beat around the bush when it comes to Meaning, it wasn’t something abstract. It was, why shouldn’t I commit suicide?

If you were Sisyphus would you commit suicide? This is also not abstract, because to Camus you are Sisyphus. We’re all just rolling the boulder up the hill knowing it comes to nothing. That it gets washed away, at any time for no good reason.

Book Club Guide: BE HERE NOW

Book Club Guide: BE HERE NOW, parts 1–4

February 8-11, 2020

Ram Dass died on December 22, 2019, at the age of 88.

He was an influential thinker, activist, writer, speaker and model, not without flaws, of how to live a full and meaningful life, in the opinion of many.

His seminal work, “Be Here Now,” was published in 1971 and helped launch the New Age movement, an explosion of new ideas and new forms of spiritual expression in the west, drawing heavily on a variety of eastern traditions

This Book Club Guide is published in four parts, corresponding to the structure of the book.

Ram Dass and ‘Be Here Now’

Ram Dass and ‘Be Here Now’

January 20, 2020

The current wave of eastern thought sweeping over the west is a version of Buddhism.

It bears almost no resemblance to how most people in Asia who call themselves Buddhists practice Buddhism, but there are a few core ideas that overlap. It’s not crazy to call both traditional Asian Buddhism and 21st century western Buddhism — Buddhism.

Ram Dass is not part of that wave.

Avalokateshvera and ‘The Watchmen’

Avalokiteshvera and ‘The Watchmen’

December 27, 2019

Avalokiteshvara is the original Watchmen. The name means ‘The Lord who gazes down at the World.’

A Bodhisattva is Enlightened and has decided to hang out here to benefit others all the time.

I take ‘Enlightened’ to mean free from the blind spots, mistaken ideas, and unconscious forces that largely determine my behavior. I do not act freely in each moment. I am mostly conditioned. I mean, conditioned at the level of seeing the things around me as solid persisting objects, or believing that the 3D movie in my head is the way things actually are. That’s deep conditioning.

Me and My Consciousness

Me and My Consciousness

March 2, 2019

If that’s what consciousness is — the clear and articulate awareness of a situation and a resulting plan of action — then it is probably true that consciousness is not an actor Now, in the moment. At least certainly not most of the time.

But maybe there’s more to consciousness than that internally verbalized presence, maybe that’s just a millisecond-delayed artifact of consciousness. Maybe consciousness is involved in the first nanosecond of neuromuscular stimulation in a way we have not yet noticed that enables us to avoid that snake or return that tennis ball. It wouldn’t be the first time we didn’t know it all when we thought we did.

The Delusion of an Autonomous Self

The Delusion of an Autonomous Self

December 23, 2028

The best way I can make sense of the delusion is is to assume that, yes, I am this bag of flesh, I’m just not only this bag of flesh. That’s got to be it.

I’ve come up with a few metaphors over the years to help see how I can be this body and also more than this body. I’m sure someone else has thought of these same images and written them down somewhere, but I haven’t found them and the process of writing has been helpful for me.

So I feel it’s OK to call this one, the Metaphor of the Streets.

The Biggest Construction Project Ever

The Biggest Construction Project Ever

October 18, 2018

Now that they are being studied at Johns Hopkins University, it must be OK to talk about psychedelic drugs. I was doing just that a few days ago with an old friend from the sixties; actually we were using Facebook Messenger, an unwieldy communications channel if there ever was one. I texted him the big takeaway from my very first LSD experience: It’s all constructed

When I felt my perceptions of the world change dramatically because I had chemically altered my brain, I also realized that I’d been making it up all along. We all are. We just agree enough about what we’re making up that we think it must really be like that out there.

Ignorance is Space-Time, Not Bliss

Ignorance is Space-Time, Not Bliss

September 22, 2018

I didn’t pick up Carlo Rovelli’s, “The Order of Time” because it offers an understandable alternative to String Theory, but that was part of what kept me going until the end, and then had me starting all over and reading it again. It’s a small book.

There’s no math, at least no math as math was presented to me throughout my entire formal education. Plus he writes about Time and Space and Gravity with a clarity most writers never achieve about any topic. Not a dry clarity either. Rovelli’s warmth and his personal life long quest for understanding is there on every page.

I can’t remember a book that shifted my thinking this much since Thomas Kuhn’s, “Structure of Scientific Revolutions.”



Tom Nickel

Learning Technologist focusing on VR, Video, and Mortality … producer of Less Than One Minute and 360 degree videos