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July 2002


THE PHYSICIST AS MYSTIC

Introduction by Paula Peterson


The gap between science and religion is thinning more than ever before. Mystics throughout the ages have been ostracized from most materialistic and industrialized societies since much of what they tout never seemed to make any sense to those who rely primarily on the nature of logic to navigate their way through life.

Living a spiritual life seemed, for the most part, far removed from anything that made sense to the more intellectually inclined and scientific minded. Mystical revelations and the often poetic, yet mostly mysterious diatribe resulting from it, tends to alienate non-experiencers simply because the lack of reason and understandable communication about such experiences can confuse people. I know.

Much of my life is interwoven with mystical, unexplained experiences. I've learned to speak of these experiences only to those who are open-minded enough to listen and not invalidate nor ridicule me simply it cannot be proven or because they themselves have never had such experiences.

Happily, it is becoming easier to talk about mystical experiences because more people are willing to believe. In addition, there is increasing scientific evidence that supports what the mystics have been talking about for ages. It's exciting!

For example, the multi-universe theories are beginning to emerge as truths within the scientific community as well as the theories that past, present and future are all happening at once which lends greater credibility and builds greater faith in the popular axiom "living in the now moment".

Another significant example is that in which consciousness creates reality - you experience your beliefs: what you think about and whatever gets the most of your attention. Wherever your attention goes that's where the energy flows. You build your reality based upon what you pay attention to. If you pay more attention to the pain, unfairness and struggles of life situations, that is what you will experience more of. If you pay more attention to the good in others, the beauty of life and the joy of over coming hardships then that is what you will experience more of.

Physicists have seen very clearly now, through their own scientific experimentations, that sub-atomic particles - that make up our material world - cannot be seen nor measured until there is an observer to see these particles. So where is this particle and what is it doing when no one is noticing it? Hmmmmmmmmm.......

Reminds me of the riddle, if a tree falls in the forest and there is no one to hear it, does it still make a sound? (or the latest version: if a man speaks and there is no woman to hear him, is he still wrong?)

Thoughts are things. Our reality is made up of thoughts and beliefs - consciousness. That's why His Holiness the Dalai Lama states clearly that in order to create peace, we must stop having bad thoughts about one another. And it's true. Namaste' - Paula Peterson

In the excellent article below you will discover what the following people have in common: Albert Einstein, David Bohm, Michael Talbot, Steven Hawking, Steven Weinberg, Michio Kaku, Paramhansa Yogananda, Paul LaViolette, and Allan Bloom.

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THE PHYSICIST AS MYSTIC
by David Lewis

Writer for Atlantis Rising

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A child staring at the clear night sky beholds the wonder of the universe and its mystery. How, after all, to such a simple mind, to any mind, can the starry expanse go on and on, never ending.

For if it were to end, we imagine, there would always be something beyond. And then what about the beginning, and before that, and so on? The two apparent extremes describe what the French philosopher and mathematician, Blaise Pascal, called les deux infinis: the two infinities.

As science probes this mystery, sub-atomically and cosmically, it searches within the domain of finite understanding for its answer. Since Darwin, western scientists have told us that matter gave birth to reality, to life, that reality is concrete, which is to say finite, the wonder of infinity as observed on a starry night notwithstanding. But in its attempt to define reality, to put it into an intellectual box, materialistic science finds itself in the land of mystics, the realm it sought to avoid all along.

Delving deeply, relentlessly, into any sub-atomic particle in the universe, cutting-edge physicists find that nothing is as it appears. Indeed, they find that the physical universe is but a ripple in an ocean of infinite energy. Even hangers-on, such as Paul Kurtz and his Committee for Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal, and so many in the material sciences, assert that nothing exists beyond matter. They assert, in fact, that matter is ultimate reality. Unfortunately for the absolute materialists, the tide turned some time ago.

Early in this century, Albert Einstein amazed the world with his discoveries in the world of astrophysics. With his general theory of relativity, he opened the doors of science to the M-word—Mysticism. He told us that space and time are intertwined, relative coordinates in reality that make up the space-time continuum. He also suggested that matter is inseparable from an ever-present quantum energy field, that it is a condensation of that field, and that this ineffable field is the sole reality underlying all appearances. The implications brought into question the western world’s most basic assumptions about the universe, about matter, and about our perceptions as human beings. Einstein, though, only opened the door to the mystical realm. Much more followed.

Quantum theory evolved beyond Einstein’s landmark discoveries. Physicists, in their quest to define matter’s essential properties, found that the most minute particles in the universe, protons, electrons, photons, and so on—the very fabric of the material universe—transcend three-dimensional reality. Electrons, they discovered, are not matter in any standard sense. The diameter of an electron, for instance, cannot be measured: an electron can be shown to be two things at once, both a wave and a particle, each with differing characteristics that should exclude the other’s existence from a purely materialistic viewpoint.

As particles, they behave like a larger visible object, a baseball, or a rock. As waves, though, electrons mysteriously shape-shift into vast energy clouds. They display magical properties, stretching across space with the apparent ability to bilocate. Physicists have discovered, moreover, that these magical abilities characterize the entire subatomic universe, adding a mind-boggling dimension, and a mystical one, to the nature of the universe itself. Even more astounding revelations waited in the world of physics.

The Observer, modern physicists found, actually determines the nature of a sub-atomic particle. When physicists observe particles as particles, they find them to be particles. But when observing the same particles as waves, they find them to be waves - the implication being that matter is defined by conscious perspective rather than being fixed or finite.

A MORE PROFOUND UNDERSTANDING

Physicist David Bohm, one of Einstein’s proteges', delved yet more deeply into this mystery. He took the implications of the new physics even farther. He discerned that if the nature of sub-atomic particles depends on an observer’s perspective, then it is futile to search for a particle’s actual properties, as was the goal of science, or to think that sub-atomic particles, the essence of matter, even exist before someone observes them. In his plasma experiments at the Berkeley Radiation Laboratory, Bohm found that individual electrons act as part of an interconnected whole. In plasma, a gas composed of electrons and positive ions in high concentration, electrons more or less assume the nature of a self-regulating organism, as if they were inherently intelligent.

Bohm found, to his amazement, that the subatomic sea he created was conscious. By extension, the vast sub-atomic reality that is material creation may also be said to be conscious. To those who foresaw the implications, Bohm shattered the useful but limiting premise that led science to its many achievements in modern times, crossing a new barrier, beyond which lurked the unknown, a scientific twilight zone. Intellectual observation, it turned out, the fulcrum of the scientific method since Francis Bacon, could only take an observer so far. As with any dogma, what was once a useful guideline became a stifling limitation. Negating the ability of the human intellect alone to fathom ultimate reality, Bohm challenged the scientific world to adopt a more profound understanding. Reality, Bohm’s work suggests, has a more subtle nature than that which can be defined by linear, human thinking: the province of modern science and the intellect.

Within the fabric of reality, Bohm found not just the wave/particle duality phenomenon, as described above, but an interconnectedness, a Non-Space or Non-Local reality where only the appearance of waves also being particles exists. He saw, perhaps intuitively, that it is ultimately meaningless to see the universe as composed of parts, or disconnected, since everything is joined: space and time being composed of the same essence as matter. A sub-atomic particle, then, does not suddenly change into a wave (at velocities that would have to be beyond the speed of light, as Bohm’s mentor, Einstein, suggested). It already is a wave sharing the same Non-Space as the particle. Reality is not material in any common sense of the word. It is something far more ineffable. Physicists call this Non-Locality. Mystics call it oneness.

In spite of those who disagreed, Bohm evolved a yet more profound understanding - that of an interconnected whole with a conscious essence, where all matter and events interact with one another. Time, space and distance are an illusion relative to perspective. He developed, in fact, a holographic model of the universe, where the whole can be found in the most minute part: a blade of grass, an atom, and where matter, circumstance and dimension result from holographic projections of subtle, but powerful, conscious energy. Actual location and the shape-shifting of particles, all manifest reality. Infact, they exist only in the context of relative appearances. Bohm discovered that every thing is connected to everything else, past, present and future, as well as time, space and distance, because it all occupies the same Non-Space and Non-Time.

David Bohm brought to physics and the scientific world the understanding that has propelled mystics and sages since the dawn of time. Rejecting the idea that particles do not exist until they are observed, he, like Noble laureate and renowned physicist Brian Josephson, saw that physics must see the nature of sub-atomic reality in a new way. It is not simply that conscious perspective effects the nature of the sub-atomic quanta. Bohm revealed that the sub-atomic quanta is conscious, which means that everything is conscious: inanimate objects and seemingly empty space, the very definition, if one were possible, of mystical or spiritual reality.

HALLOWED SPACE

Most physicists agree that a mere cubic centimeter of space brims with more energy than the sum of all the energy held in the entire material universe. One school of physics finds this calculation so incredible that they assume it must be a mistake. But to those such as Bohm, the principle makes perfect sense. Matter, according to the avant-garde of sub-atomic physics, cannot ultimately be separated from what appears as empty space. It is, a part of space and part of a deeper, invisible order from which reality’s unseen, conscious essence precipitates as material form then returns to the invisible again. Space is not empty, but filled with highly-concentrated conscious energy - the source of everything in existence.

In The Holographic Universe, an elaboration upon the implication of Bohm’s genius, Michael Talbot describes all of material creation as a "ripple...a pattern of excitation in the midst of an unimaginably vast ocean." Talbot goes on to say, paraphrasing Bohm, that, "...despite its apparent materiality and enormous size, the universe does not exist in and of itself, but is the stepchild of something far vaster and more ineffable."

Talbot tells Bohm’s story, capsulizing the implications of his revelations and of modern science’s implicit nihilism. "Bohm," Talbot says, "believes that our almost universal tendency to fragment the world and ignore the dynamic interconnectedness of all things is responsible for many of our problems...we believe we can extract the valuable parts of the earth without affecting the whole...treat parts of our body and not be concerned with the whole...deal with...crime, poverty, and drug addiction without addressing... society as a whole." Bohm, Talbot relates, believes that such a fragmented approach may even bring about our ultimate destruction. The problem in reconciling modern science, even modern physics, with the wonder a child feels while staring at a clear night sky, Les Deux Infinis, remains the dogma of absolute materialism, of non-interconnected-ness.

While the tide has turned in certain circles within the scientific community, matter, we are still told, is the source of all life. Nothing truly mysterious exists, they say, contrary to Einstein’s belief that appreciation of the mysterious lies at the center of all true science. In letters to a friend, Darwin himself argued strenuously in favor of gradualism, the theory that all life evolved slowly and inexorably from primitive matter without sudden changes, in order to avoid supporting any possible supernatural or biblical creation theories. That bias, we now find, remains fixed to such a degree that absolute materialism has become the established dogma of the scientific and academic worlds.

According to Allan Bloom, a professor at the University of Chicago, the suggestion of the existence of an Absolute, even the philosophical variety, is looked upon with derision in academic circles. He reveals in Closing of the American Mind that Absolutism of any sort has become taboo in university classrooms. No underlying order or intelligence can exist in the universe, the academics say. The avant-garde of theoretical physics, however, arrive with a new take on a very ancient philosophical and metaphysical Absolute.

ANCIENT WISDOM AND MODERN SCIENCE

Beyond the Big Bang, Paul LaViolette’s book about ancient myth and the "science of continuous creation," reveals an extraordinarily persistent message encoded throughout the ancient mythologies of the world, a message now echoed by quantum cosmologists, such as Stanford’s Andre Linde and even Cambridge’s Steven Hawking. Passed down to modern times from the mists of prehistory, these ancient myths repeatedly describe principles now pointed to in the newest of the new physics: that of a universal potential latent within all reality.

"In all cases," LaViolette says, "the concept [the myths] convey effectively portrays how an initially uniform and featureless ether Self-Divides to produce a bi-polar...wave pattern." LaViolette elaborates, telling us that an "ancient creation science" comes down to us through myth, which "conceives all physical form, animate or inanimate, to be sustained by an undercurrent of process, a flux of vital energy that is present in all regions of space. Thus the ancient creation science...infers the presence of lifelike consciences or spirits in all things, even in inanimate objects such as rocks and rivers or the Earth itself."

While supporting his premise with the principles of quantum physics, LaViolette speaks to the materialists who inhabit the world of modern science, "This view of a vast, living beyond contrasts sharply with the sanitized mechanistic paradigm... which has denied the existence of an unseen supernatural realm and forged a wedge between science and religion."

High priests of physics such as Noble laureate Steven Weinberg, and other highly notable physicists, clearly leave the door open to LaViolette’s Continuous Creation, syncretizing, according to physicist Michio Kaku of the City University of New York, Judeo-Christian, Buddhist and scientific cosmologies. The high priests also express the likelihood of parallel universes, or a Multi-verse, in which our reality is one of many that exists in Non-Time/Non-Space, a principle that sounds like the scientific version of transcendental existence.

Addressing the Big Bang theory’s inability to account for what happened before the Big Bang, Kaku, in a recent article in the London Daily Telegraph, quotes Weinberg as saying, "An important implication is that there wasn't a beginning...the [multi-verse] has been here all along." Grappling with how extremely unlikely it is that our reality, let alone another, ever presented conditions that would support biological life, Princeton’s Freeman Dyson says, ominously for the materialists, "It’s as if the universe knew we were coming (emphasis added)."

BEYOND THE VEIL

The principles science now begins to embrace, that of an inherently intelligent universe, have been espoused for thousands of years. Ancient Sanskrit texts describe the nature of Purusha, Supreme Consciousness, and Chittam, or mindstuff, as fundamental to the nature of reality. The mineral, vegetable, and animal kingdoms exist as grades of Supreme Consciousness. Man, being highly conscious, participates in this vast flow of subtle consciousness. Here, the mind is a miniature universe and the universe is the expansion of mind. And while the debate still rages in western science, throughout history practitioners of the yogic science report, as actual conscious experience, what the high priests of physics relegate to abstract theory.

In an exalted state of consciousness, for example, the great yogi, Paramahansa Yogananda, who spent much of his life in the United States, experienced his own awareness merged with cosmic consciousness, having devoted himself to that goal for many years. In his famous autobiography, Yogananda describes his experience:

"My sense of identity was no longer confined to a body," he relates, "but embraced the circumambient atoms...My ordinary frontal vision was now changed to a vast spherical sight, simultaneously all-perceptive...all melted into a luminescent sea. The unifying light alternated with materializations of form."

After describing a state of ecstatic joy, the renowned yogi goes on to say, "A swelling glory within me began to envelop towns, continents, the earth, solar and stellar systems, tenuous nebulae, and floating universes...The entire cosmos...glittered within the infinitude of my being."


In the jargon of modern physics, this experience might be described as Non-Locality in the electron sea. In the jargon of yoga, it is called Oneness with Supreme Consciousness, Ultimate Being, or God.

Like sages before him for thousands of years, Yogananda describes the universe beyond matter as being composed of indescribably subtle Light. He describes the material universe as being composed of the same essence but in a grosser form, a principle echoed throughout the world’s mystical traditions and now in modern physics.

Regarding the source of this Light, Yogananda states, "The divine dispersion of rays poured from an eternal source, blazing into galaxies transfigured with ineffable auras. Again and again I saw the creative beams condense into constellations, then resolve into sheets of transparent flame. By rhythmic reversion, sextillion worlds passed into diaphanous luster, then fire became firmament."

Perhaps more significantly, the sage tells us that his experience of the center of all light and creation poured from a point of intuitive perception in his heart, not from his intellect, a point that emphasizes the limits of the western scientific method. And while Western science may balk at such a subjective account, claiming it lacks scientific verification, those mystics who have devoted themselves to absolute perception throughout history report similar experiences. The yogic science, practiced within the laboratory of human consciousness, is, in fact, the science of consciousness, which physicists such as Bohm theorize as being inseparable from, and responsible for, all reality. In his own way, our wonder-struck child beneath the stars probably draws the same conclusion.


Have a great day !!

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