Category Archives: Spiritual Physics
I have written a few posts so far about modern science. I have explored some of the tenets of quantum mechanics, astrophysics and brain neurology looking for connections to spiritual issues and practices. One question is very important within spirituality and it comes up repeatedly in the face of some of the most cutting edge science today. That question is “who am I?” A corollary to that question is “What is the nature of “reality?” since that question is so dependent on the answer to the first question, “who am I?”
I have found that most contemporary scientists I have studied come face to face with these questions quite quickly when explaining their latest discoveries. Even though they often just as quickly dismiss such questions in order to proceed with their experiements or explanations of their experiments, these questions remain for the discerning spiritual practitioner. I have found that these scientific treatises can be very helpful, in fact, for going deeper into these questions.
TOUCHING A NERVE by Patricia Churchland is a new book about brain neurology that I have found interesting for these reasons. In it Patricia admits right away that the new discoveries in brain science are making a lot of people uneasy because they are forcing us to introspect in very spiritual ways. Brain science is leading a lot of scientists to ask that pesky question, “Who am I?” Patricia, of course, isn’t writing a book with that intention. She deflects the question in an interesting way, as I will go into in a bit, but that she is forced to acknowledge the issue is significant.
At first she writes,
“You may wonder: how can have control over a domain of the brain I am not even aware of? Do I have control over brain activity I am aware of? And who is ‘I’ here if the self is just one of those many things my brain builds, with a lot of help, as it turns out, from the brain’s unconscious activities?”
Even Arjuna, in The Bhagavad Gita, asks Krishna “can I really control my brain?” If Arjuna, a great warrior/yogi, can ask that question we certainly can’t blame Patricia for doing the same. Both Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra and Krishna’s Bhagavad Gita answer unequivocably yes but I am not interested in that right now. What interests me is not Patricia’s denial that “I” can control my brain but her deduction that the “I” is a creation of the brain.
The mistake that Patricia makes, from a spiritual point of view, is mistaking the package for the contents. Put another way, the details of “I;” that is, my memories, my opinions, my aspirations, etc.; are not what makes me “me.” Patricia writes as if there would be nothing left of her without all of these “trappings” of the ego. She expresses that unwillingness to consider the existence of a soul or some “essence” of life within her again here:
“In death brain cells quickly degenerate with massive loss of information. Without the living neurons that embody information, memories perish, personalities change, skills vanish, motives dissipate. Is there anything left of me to exist in an after life? What would such a thing be? Something without memories or personality, without motives and feelings? That is no kind of me? And maybe that is really okay after all.” (page 12, emphasis hers)
Patricia doesn’t recognize anything that she would call “me” if it doesn’t have the details of her ego connected with it. In other words, Patricia doesn’t recognize a true self that is indistinguishable from the true self located within every other person and thing. For her, a “me” has to set her apart from everything else. That is the ego in a nutshell. Thank you Patricia for helping us to see it so clearly.
Going further, Patricia explains that the possible absence of an essential “me” that will survive death is okay with her: “And maybe that is really okay after all.” She goes on to explain that she is able to accept these nihilistic conclusions of brain science because she feels that she is still connected to everything. She reveals however the source of this happy feeling of acceptance on page 23: “How fine a thing is an indoor toilet on a winter morning when it is -10 degrees Fahrenheit and there are 2 feet of fresh snow.” In other words, she can accept the anti-soul nihilistic implications of modern science because it allows her to be comfortable. If it gives me my food, my clothing and my shelter I am okay with it, says the slave to her master.
Patricia pretends that her “feeling” of being okay with the conclusions of modern brain science are grounded in logic. She writes “The background logic has three main points and essentially goes like this: First, reality does not conform to what we want it to be. The facts are the facts. . . . By working with reality, we can sometimes change it by finding a new vaccine or a new machine to harness electricity. Science–testing, being guided by facts, revising, testing again–is the best deal we have for getting a bead on reality. . . . Second, . . . fighting the truth about reality does not work in the long run. . . . And third, we can regulate how we use science.” (page 23)
She has to ignore a very real aspect of her own science in order to argue this way. Even though, earlier on, Patricia explained that the “self” that speaks, thinks, asks questions is entirely a construct of the much larger encompassing brain, she still insists she can trust this mechanism to find truth, or “reality,” within its parameters. She already stated that the truth is bigger than the questioning, talking or thinking mind but then insists that we can blindly follow this thinking mind’s lead in order to discover that “reality.” Even the most conservative of scientists would admit there is a problem with the logic there. Modern neurology is upending the assumption that the thinking mind is dependable to pursue the question “what is real.” Patricia admits the game-changing nature of the most recent discoveries but refuses to be shaken by them.
The fact is that brain science, along with quantum mechanics, along with modern astrophysics, along with other cutting edges of modern science, are giving good reason for the scientist to question the scientist himself. In other words, the forefront of science is exposing holes in the ego’s logic. They are threatening the castle of the ego and it is mainly the discoverers themselves, like Patricia Churchland, that are denying this or trying to discount it. Although I haven’t finished reading “TOUCHING A NERVE: Our Brains, Our Bodies” it is so far appears to be another book of science written by a scientist who has figured out a way to avoid the most poignant and important questions that their experiments are really raising.
“The Grand Inquisitor” is a chapter within Dostoevsky’s novel, “The Brothers Karamazov.” In it one of the brothers, Ivan, relays his feelings about Jesus and religion, to his monk brother, Alyosha. In the previous chapter, “Rebellion,” Ivan explained why he can’t accept the idea of God and the happiness that God offers in Heaven or “salvation.” His argument rested upon his refusal to accept the fact that innocent children suffer within God’s creation. He said that it was impossible for him, as a lover of humanity, to accept an eternity of happiness as one of God’s “saved” if it came on the backs of suffering innocent children.
Alyosha agreed with his brother that his difficulties in accepting God on that basis are understandable but countered that the life and actions of Jesus provide the answer. Ivan, however, is not convinced and shares a story he calls “The Grand Inquisitor” to explain his difficulties with Jesus the Savior.
Ivan’s story involves a highly respected leader of the Christian church who wielded near absolute power over his parishioners. He was so influential that he was able to orchestrate and direct the killing of perhaps 1,000’s of people he called “heretics.” This fictional story of Ivan’s supposedly took place during the Spanish Inquisition of the 1500’s and curiously described a possible meeting between this “Grand Inquisitor” and Jesus, Himself.
In the story the Grand Inquisitor persecutes and threatens to kill Jesus for similar reasons to the ones Ivan shared in “Rebellion.” Just as Ivan said that he could not accept a salvation that involved the suffering of innocent children, the grand inquisitor tells Jesus that His salvation is unfair to the majority of humans and is willing to kill Jesus again for the sake of those people.
The grand inquisitor implies that his authoritarian, oppressive measures are more loving of humanity as a whole than Jesus’s original teachings. He tells Jesus that He left humanity with directives that they cannot possibly match up to and that what He offered them, namely True Freedom, most of humanity does not even want. The Grand Inquisitor tells Jesus that what most humans want is their “daily bread” not freedom. The Grand Inquisitor claims that he, not Jesus, gives most of humanity their chance for happiness by taking away the one thing they fear the most, their freedom.
Ivan’s story paints Jesus as the God who offers salvation (and its eternal happiness) but in a way that only a very small number of people can actually receive. Jesus’s teachings are too difficult for most people to even think about, much less follow through with, and so, his teachings are partial; i.e., unfair. Ivan thereby explains his grounds once again for rejecting such a salvation offered by Jesus, due to his “idea” of unfairness.
Earlier in “Rebellion” Ivan mentioned that he “suffered for an idea.” This is his way of saying that he adheres to principles which get in the way of faith in God or Jesus. His principles about what is right and just allow him to feel indignant towards what he witnesses in society. He observes a world that is unfair, even downright cruel at times, and he cannot forgive such injustice nor does he feel it is right for anyone else to do so. Jesus’s salvation doesn’t work for him either because he believes that salvation is partial; not everyone is saved, only those who are capable of acting correctly as Jesus prescribed. What about everyone else, Ivan asks? For the sake of those people, the ones excluded from salvation, Ivan rejects God and the eternal happiness that He offers through salvation. “And if for the sake of the bread of Heaven thousands shall follow Thee [Jesus], what is to become of the millions and tens of thousands of millions of creatures who will not have the strength to forego the earthly bread for the sake of the heavenly?”
Ivan also criticizes religion itself, as characterized by the Christian church. In “The Grand Inquisitor” Ivan paints a picture where a religion must become oppressive in order to cater to the majority of humanity that is incapable of true sanctity as the scriptures prescribe. In other words, religion itself ends up perpetuating the very unfairness/cruelty of the world in order to give people what they want (food and shelter) and protect them from what they fear (true freedom) because “freedom and bread enough for all are inconceivable together.” The picture that Ivan paints is thereby even more distressing for a man of real love for humanity as he claims to be. On one hand religion provides for the needs of people that Jesus has discarded (because His standards are too high) and on the other hand religion adds to the suffering of innocents.
Ivan’s criticism of religion, as represented by the Christian church, has another ironical part to it. In addition to the church adding to suffering (out of concern for the masses) the church must take away freedom in order to give happiness to the people. Ivan claims that the church owns “mystery” and when the people bring a certain threshold of suffering upon themselves because they follow the path of “free thought” (i.e., the sciences) they will turn back to the church as the abode of “mystery.” In other words, when the intellectuals finally admit that they don’t understand the world and its purpose any more after extensively exhausting the sciences they will give up such freedom of thought and come back to the safety of the church.
The Grand Inquisitor predicts that science (free thought) will fuel humanity to fight each other ever more fiercely, causing ever more suffering, until it gives up such science and admits that existence is all a mystery that only religion can handle. They will say in the end “’Yes, you were right, you [the church] alone possess His mystery and we come back to you, save us from ourselves!’” The grand inquisitor says that in the end “they will know the value of complete submission!” But “until men know that, they will be unhappy.” And, of course, he blames Jesus for leading humanity away from such submission by offering them complete freedom (in exchange for acts that they aren’t capable of). In the grand inquisitor’s view Jesus led humanity astray by inspiring them to reach for freedom which led to the sciences which led to wars and an increase in strife. Only religion, he claims, can fix this situation by humanity’s complete submission to it.
Echoing Ivan’s thoughts, I believe, the grand inquisitor stands up to Jesus, claims that he is the true savior, providing for the people that Jesus has rejected and then dares Jesus to judge him for the lies and the acts of cruelty that he had to perform in order to do so. The grand inquisitor truly believes that he holds the high moral ground on Jesus and so, does not fear Him. The grand inquisitor feels that he rejected Jesus’s salvation on principles (on an “idea”), because any salvation that leaves a vast number of incapable, weak, childlike beasts (as he describes the majority of humanity) hanging is “madness.”
So Ivan’s counter-argument to Alyosha’s reliance upon Jesus to overcome the dilemma concerning the suffering of innocent children is a negative assessment of Jesus’s actions relative, not to each individual, but to humanity as a whole. Through his “Grand Inquisitor” story, Ivan criticizes God for not accepting everyone, regardless of their capabilities and actions, into Heaven.
Essentially, Ivan criticizes God for judging us in any way: for identifying what we are doing wrong and delineating what we need to do in order to reform ourselves and receive eternal salvation and happiness by His side. Ivan criticizes God because His plan leaves out a tremendous number of humans who are not capable of earning their place in Heaven by doing good, being good.
In that way, “The Grand Inquisitor” does a wonderful job of putting words to so many valuable questions and helping us to determine how we have already secretly answered many of them. Do we, too, already harbor an “idea” about the suffering of innocent children? Do we, too, secretly feel that if God judges any of us He is not a truly loving God? Do we, too, harbor resentment towards the idea of a God that will reject an individual for choosing “bad” over “good?” What if that individual is our father, brother or sister? Can we happily go to Heaven if we know that they have gone to Hell? Or to put that in more modern terms, are we willing to be happy everyday (because we believe in an all-loving God) when others close to us are unwilling or unable to do the same? Can we allow ourselves to be happy all the time when we know that many children are suffering all around the world? Do we secretly feel superior to the God that our religions describe because of our unwillingness to be happy all the time?
In the next blog entry I will explore a few of those questions in greater detail but for now the important point I want to make is that the value of reading this story is in considering to what degree we share Ivan’s feelings and opinions. We must keep in mind that these feelings and opinions may be held deeply within our mind and may take a bit of introspection in order to dig up. It is a fact that our upbringing may have encouraged the burying of such feelings. Modern society doesn’t help us very much in exploring our emotional relationship to God and suffering. It trains us, rather, to focus more superficially on issues related to daily affairs.
In other words our very busy daily lives may hide deeper feelings about God and suffering that are not only secretly driving us but also do a lot to prevent us from feeling content or happy in any given moment. To what degree have we already blocked off happiness in our lives, like Ivan has done, because we have judged God and His creation as inherently unfair or even downright cruel to those undeserving of such treatment? This is question worth asking and re-asking ourselves, resisting the temptation to judge our deeply held ideas and opinions are “good” or “bad.” Let’s find out how we truly feel about life, first, before attempting to force ourselves in one direction or another.
Here’s a wonderful science article that supports spiritual principles. These two previously distant poles are coming together so beautifully.
by Shane L. Larson
On 19 April 1610, Johannes Kepler wrote an open letter to Galileo Galilei, musing on possible future voyages that would allow explorers — human explorers — to see what Galileo’s telescope had shown. He mused that some day inventors might “provide ship or sails adapted to the heavenly breezes, and there will be some who will not fear even that void.” Kepler called on Galileo to join him in preparing the way for those so0n to be travellers, and create a new science to light their way: astronomy.
It was almost exactly 351 years before Kepler’s speculations were realized — on 12 April 1961 the Soviet Union launched cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin into space. In a flight that lasted only 108 minutes, Gagarin orbited the Earth in a capsule bearing the callsign Kedr (“
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“The first truth of awareness is that the world out there is not really as we think it is. We think it is a world of objects and it’s not.”
“It’s not as solid and real as our perception has been led to believe, but it’s not a mirage either. The world is not an illusion as it has been said to be; it’s real on the one hand, and unreal on the other.”
“We perceive. This is a hard fact. But what we perceive is not a fact of the same kind because we learn what to perceive. Something out there is affecting our senses. This is the part that is real. The unreal part is what our sense tell us is there. . . . our senses perceive the way they do because a specific feature of our awareness forces them to do so.”
From The Fire Within by Carlos Castaneda from pg. 49.
As modern humans we know a lot about perception. Science tells us that what we consider to be our environment is not actually there in the way that our senses tell us. Something stimulates our senses and a signal is sent to our brain and that signal is interpreted as feeling water or seeing the moon. But the fact is that the snapshot which our senses take of our environment is always in the past by the time our brains interpret it as some reality or another. What we see may be already gone by the time we “see” it.
Additionally we already know that our senses can be wrong. Our nose may tell us that the food in front of us is edible and wholesome despite the fact that it contains some poison. Our eyes may send our brain signals telling us that a snake is approaching us when actually we are looking at a rolled up newspaper. Our senses can be wrong, sometimes very wrong. When ancient mariners looked out over the ocean their senses told them that there was nothing but ocean there. They didn’t know that the earth curves thereby hiding what is ahead. They didn’t know there was an island straight ahead of them because their senses couldn’t see it.
Modern science has taken this awareness of the limitations of the senses even further. We now know that our eyes see light of a very small range of possible spectrum; therefore there are many, many colors which our eyes cannot see. We call those colors radio waves or X-rays or ultraviolet and we can’t see any of them. The science of neurology today is also telling us that we can’t trust our senses with even the small spectrum of sensations that they claim to be able to see. Neurology has uncovered many types of situations in which the brain doesn’t function normally and interprets things wrongly because of a “bad wiring” so to speak. Some people who had their arm amputated are known to still “feel” and “touch” things with that arm. No, the arm is not there according to our eyes but according to their other senses it is.
Don Juan says that it all boils down to a single fact that we “perceive.” Beyond that, he says, there is a broad range of possibilities. And the most important thing about perception, Don Juan teaches, is that it is limited by our ideas about what is possible to perceive. Something in our minds, our conditioning, controls the scope of our perception in a way that is more important than the limitations of the tools of perception, our sense organs.
So Don Juan maintains that there is a real world to perceive but it is not as limited as we think. He teaches that in order to see more of this world we need to change our minds: to turn around our conditioned beliefs about what is possible, what we, as humans, are capable of. But what do we need in order to be able to do that? Faith, of course.
We must have some faith in order to leave behind the limited but cozy-because-familiar picture of what the world actually is. And where does this faith come from? For Don Juan, faith is the logical conclusion to a careful consideration of the facts of life. He teaches that if you look closely at life you see two main things. First you see that death is the irrevocable end of life and second you see that your life doesn’t seem to be worth very much in the big picture of things. You live and you die, and life goes on, virtually unaffected. The only rational response to this situation is faith, Don Juan teaches, because anything else is in alignment with death. To come into alignment with death makes no sense, Don Juan teaches, because death is already the only thing we know for sure coming, so to hasten it is to bargain away our only asset.
Out of those conclusions Don Juan teaches that we must choose faith, drop our sense of self-importance, become humble, take responsibility for our life and carefully review our conditioning in order to root out its weeds. Don Juan taught that a careful review of our life can see where we have been given ideas that are limiting, dogmatic and arbitrary. Without these ideas and without the heavy ballast of our self-importance, Don Juan teaches, our senses can take a leap into the unknown.
Wheeler’s standard expression of the notion of “It from Bit”
is a working hypothesis
that every “it,” every particle, every field of force, even the spacetime continuum itself,
derives its function, its meaning, its very existence entirely–
even if in some contexts indirectly–
from the apparatus-elicited answers to yes or no questions, binary choices, bits.'”
“The Bit and the Pendulum” by Tom Siegfried
Let’s breakdown this quote from the world-renown quantum physician, John Wheeler. First of all, what are “apparatus-elicited answers?” What does he mean by that? This is a complex way of indicating observations or perceptions. Apparatus-elicited answers are the results of tests; that is, information that comes from the tools used to observe something. Normally, this doesn’t seem to say anything special. So what, that information comes from test results?
Well, the exact phrasing here implies that in our tests we are not observing something fixed or objective; that the “apparatus” are “eliciting” results means that there is a conversation, maybe even a negotiation, going on when we test or observe something. Remember that scientific testing uses “apparati” that simply extend the powers of our senses. They are sense augmenters. So in a fundamental sense, the only real “aparati” are our organs of sense. The fact that those apparati are “eliciting” responses admits that they are making a request for some type of information that the environment answers.
The answers that are received are not simple either. In classical physics we imagined that a fixed objective object was encountered and measured by our “apparati” or senses (attached to their machines of augmentation). But quantum physics knows that it is really not that simple or material. It knows that the apparati themselves are created by prior application of these apparati to objects. So, physics is admitting feedback loops into its concept of reality. The way that we see things and get results from our viewing comes from past experiences of viewing. The one who looks, the way that one looks and the object seen are all dependent on the results of prior observations.
Using this quote we can go even farther because Wheeler says that the “very existence entirely” of both the observer and the observed is a result of prior interactions. So, not only is the answer to a question dependent on the results of prior inquiries but the asking of the question itself only occurs under certain combinations of prior answers. If this seems convoluted you can imagine the effect that this type of thinking is having on hard-line doctoral scientists. Some of them might be purposely resisting even following the implications of quotes like this one out of fear of losing their grip on science as they know it.
For us, as spiritual seekers, however this line of questioning is all a deep breath of fresh air because it is the beginning of a recognition of the primacy of consciousness. Before any object exists in any form, consciousness exists: ‘In the beginning was the Word.’ Spiritual teachings have always tried to lead us away from considering objects and observers as solid, fixed objects. Spiritual teachings have always emphasized the power of mind, the power of attitude, to affect, even to create objects and their observers. And now, powerhouse physicists like John Wheeler are introducing the supremacy of observation and the information that is produced to direct what we have formerly considered a very “solid” reality. Wheeler is stating that whether or not an object exists (can be perceived) depends on prior inquiries. What we can see right now is largely controlled by what we have seen in the past. Further reducing this line of thinking down we can say that the expectations that we carry into an inquiry limit our potential findings.
And remember that John Wheeler doesn’t consider himself a spiritualist or philosopher (to the best of my knowledge, at least). He is drawing his conclusions from math. The mathematics behind the quantum revolution are creating these types of conclusions and are introducing the notion that consistency and probability combine to create what we consider to be reality.
This is not something we go around aware of. If these physicists are correct then we may be considering our “reality” to be more fixed than it actually is (which is ironically why it appears to be so fixed). Not only is the pen sitting on my table right now not the fixed object I assume it to be but it doesn’t necessarily have the history that I think it to have either. I assume because I see it right now that it was there one minute ago. I also assume that the pen I see right now is the same pen I saw there one minute ago. Quantum mechanics is starting to tell us that these assumptions are not exactly correct.
If we believe that what happens on the quantum level is relevant to our daily life (which some physicists don’t agree with) then I have to revise the way I am considering the pen on the table in front of me right now. According to quantum mechanics it should not be seen as the same pen that was there one minute ago nor should I think that just because I see it right now that it was even there in the past. Quantum physics is introducing the idea that the past can only be considered as part of the package of information relevant to this moment but not necessarily existing on its own; i.e.: the past is always the past and as the past it doesn’t have a fixed reality. We cannot say that the past really ever happened! What happened in the past is only true to the extent that it is determining the future by providing a guideline of consistency for “reality” to follow. It is not a fact in itself, on its own, divorced from what it means to the present.
Quantum mechanics is also saying something similar about the presence of objects. We may verify the existence of something like a pen on the table right now but we shouldn’t see it as the same object that was there a minute ago. Quantum mechanics says that in every moment that we observe that pen it is being recreated out of the flow of consistency. It is emerging in the now to be observed due to our conception of what has been there before. But it is emerging anew every instance. And it doesn’t have to emerge exactly as we expect it to, in each moment. It is actually guided by probability. Therefore there is always a chance (however, miniscule) that the pen, that was on my table a moment ago, may not be there now, without me witnessing anything moving it. It probably will be there but it may not.
Many scientists, of course, may get angry over this type of application of quantum mechanics but the math, itself, is forcing the issue. The math of quantum mechanics is supporting these types of conclusions whether or not the scientists themselves want it to.
For spiritual seekers the most important thing to focus on within the quantum considerations is how the ancient spiritual teachings are being supported. As I wrote earlier, “In the beginning was the Word,” is one example of this. Many spiritual teachings emphasize the power of the word which is the same as the power of the idea which is the same as the power of consciousness. When John Wheeler says “It from Bit” he is affirming that the Idea is the power behind the creation of objects. Consciousness is primary but consciousness is made up of ideas. Ideas are packages of information and information is the product of choices. For spiritual seekers the conclusion to all of this is obvious: the reality of life is about choices. What we choose is what we create. Every moment is an act of creation because in every moment we choose to see what we see with a certain attitude. Our “take” on whatever we see is our choice. The attitude with which we witness an object is the idea that we are injecting into the ongoing history of that object. That is our creative power. A closed mind is a mind that restricts creation and an open mind is a facilitator for others.
What we experience is simply a product of what has been witnessed and reacted to in the past. The product of history conforms to consistency and is given to us, wholesale but how we react is how we have power to selectively steer the creation of reality onwards into the future.
Physics is a train that goes round the mountain. If you want to reach the top you have to jump off at some point.
“’The constructs of classical physics are just as much fictions of our own minds
as those of any other theory’ [Hugh] Everett declared.
‘We simply have a great deal more confidence in them.’”
“In other words, science is not the same thing as the reality it describes.
There is always a gap between reality and the description of it.”
“’How come the quantum?’ [John Wheeler] repeats again and again
– most recently to me in a letter of Dec. 15, ’98.
‘Miserable me,’ Wheeler wrote.
‘I still don’t know how come the quantum?
and still less how come existence.’”
The Bit and The Pendulum by Tom Siegfried, pgs. 235, 237 & 245
Spiritual seekers scrape off the top only what they need from the latest in quantum physics and throw out the rest. Like reading poetry, one doesn’t need to examine the mechanics in order to come away with the valuable feelings that are conveyed. Quantum mechanics is like poetry to spiritual seekers and they quaff it like a perfume in order to energize themselves for their own purposes. Spiritual seekers seek Truth and Freedom, not just the truth and freedom that is confined to one discipline, one field of study. Spiritual seekers take what they learn from Quantum mechanics and cross-reference it in ways that conventional scientists would not likely see as valid. They cross reference it to the spiritual scriptures, to what they know of psychology, even to the end of the world prophesies of the Mayans, if it feels appropriate. They are not interested in “solving” the riddles of the universe using mathematical symbols. This is how they are different from the scientists within these fields.
The scientists don’t realize that the assumptions about life that underlie their discipline will always prevent them from reaching the true crux of the matter that they investigate. Science today is underwritten not by the motivations to discover the truth. Science today is underwritten by the motivation to make tools: to make discoveries that are useful. Useful for what? Not useful in a general way but useful in a very specific way: science wants discoveries that are useful to assist humanity in overcoming the natural forces of the universe, to better manipulate those forces for our own “benefit.” Science today is myopic in its focus because of the underlying aggression of its motivations. That doesn’t impede discoveries being made into the fantastical workings of quarks but it does impede discoveries that bring meaning, hope and joy to people’s personal lives. Those kinds of discoveries require a broader scope.
Spiritual seekers are not interested in any more gadgets, that is not why they are interested in quantum mechanics. They are not interested in colonizing or even mining mars using the properties of strange attraction within sub-nuclear particles. They are not interested in the quantum computer or even AI. But they ARE interested in discovering the secrets of the universe, not to manipulate them but to marvel at them; to worship them! Spiritual seekers are defined by the awareness that the way society is being directed today, including the way that the sciences are focused and run by commercial interests, has not led to better quality of lives for anyone. And by “quality of life” the spiritual seeker does not mean creature comforts, ease of transportation, entertainment value or even length of life. By “quality of life” the spiritual seekers means contentment and happiness with things as they are, no matter what. The spiritual seeker knows that the gadgets of modern society have done nothing to deliver those things and never will. The spiritual seeker knows that he or she must look in other directions for those things.
And so, the spiritual seeker quaffs at the latest news within quantum physics and other areas of discoveries for the perfume of the Infinite. The spiritual seeker knows that he or she must get in touch with the infinite if he or she is to ever get in touch with the True Self. The latest in physics and astrophysics provides a window, however small, into the world of the Infinite and since it is no longer possible to look up into the night sky to see the stars (due to smog and light pollution) the spiritual seeker must get that type of awe somewhere else. And so, the pictures of the Great Galaxies and the descriptions of the “holographic universe” provide that glimpse into the Absolute, the infinite, with a chance, however small but certainly cumulative, of grabbing a hold of that Infinite and journeying beyond that small self and all its petty concerns.
With regard to black holes the holographic principle contends
that real three dimensional information is being encoded on a two dimensional surface.
Translated into ordinary life,
it would be like writing all the information contained in a book
on its cover.
. . . whatever happens in a room
could be recorded or somehow retried
just by looking at what happens near the walls, says Nathan Seiberg.
The Bit and The Pendulum by Tom Siegfried pgs.231-232
The holographic principle of the universe is one of a handful of theories circulating within the world of quantum physics as an explanation of the nature of reality. It is not science fiction. This theory, like the other competing ones, are born out of solid math. What does that mean? It means that this theory is not a proposition made by a philosopher or spiritualist. It is an INTERPRETATION of complex mathematical equations based on physical experiments. In other words, the world of quantum mechanics has been performing experiments (mostly within huge particle colliders), studying the results, coordinating the results with mathematical equations to describe those results and then trying to explain those equations on a larger scale when they prove true. The holographic principle is one of those interpretations of real experiments that has been proposed to explain proven mathematical formulas. At this point it is only a theory, albeit one that has attracted a lot of attention because it sounds so much like science fiction. I am also attracted to it but not because it sounds like science fiction. To me it sounds like spirituality in the form of astrology.
The earliest known records of the practice of astrology have been dated to around 2500 BC. At that point the Sumerians and later the Babylonians began to write down their observations of celestial events (stars) and then make predictions based on them. They started to observe and measure the movement of the sun, moon, planets, stars, etc. and ascribe significance to that movement in terms of terrestial events. For them and most astrologers since then, the sky is a stage upon which the events of everyday life are played out in symbolic form.
Starting in the 1500’s the Catholic church started denouncing astrology as heretical and the work of the devil. Prior to that, astrology was considered a religiously acceptable study. The celestial lights were seen as communication from God teaching us about the inherent order within His universe. The earlier modern astronomers, namely Johannes Kepler, studied the sky with that type of religious reverence. But then all of that changed when the Church started to feel threatened by astrology and started to slander it in the public’s eye. Good christians were no longer able to worship the natural world as a form of communication from God. Only the Church’s teachings and doctrines were to be looked to for communication/instruction from the Divine. Suddenly a whole range of previously sacred practices and studies were punished. Not only astrology was maligned but the study of the seasons, communication with plants and animals, even worship of rivers and oceans were connected with the devil if they were connected with a transcendental significance. In other words, if the study of plants were seen as having a larger significance (having Divine symbology) then it was the Devil’s work. If plants were studied just to observe and name the parts and their workings without ascribing any larger significance then it was okay. That type of study was justified as practical and useful. Thus, modern science was born.
Today’s quantum physicists have proposed the holographic principle from that (Church created) modern scientific viewpoint. They are largely not willing to see any larger significance related to the meaning of life itself or a Divinely inspired set of instructions on how to live in holy alignment with the universe. They are simply observing the parts and their interactions from a practical mindset. How to explain what we see for the purpose of manipulating it all for our benefit, is their perspective (largely speaking).
Unwittingly however, they have stumbled upon an observation of the workings of astrology. Under the rubric of the holographic principle IT IS ENTIRELY POSSIBLE from a modern scientific standpoint to say that the movement of the celestial lights has a direct correlation to the events occurring under those lights. The holographic principle has observed that every sphere of life in this universe can be imagined to be contained within a sphere. In other words, wherever you are standing in the universe you can look all around you and see the outer container limits of YOUR sphere. Because observation always comes from a central point and flows outward in every direction equally you are always in a spherical shaped room. That happens to not only every one of us but to our planet as a whole. So the Earth is contained within a spherical shaped container whose surface we can see in the sky. The writings on that wall; i.e., the movement of the lights that we see out there; have a direct correlation to all the events that occur around us, within the sphere, on planet Earth. That may sound like New Age craziness to some but it is actually a description of a mathematically proven theory within modern straight-ahead academically-entrenched physics.
The holographic principle is tying back in with the theories of other quantum physicists like Wheeler and Susskind who are emphasizing information as the true nature of reality. Whether it is in the form of binary ones and zeroes or in the form of the orbits of the planets, information determines events. In the case of astrology, the pure information derived from the observation of the planets translates into the details of life on the surface of Earth. The mystery of this correlation has been observed and demonstrated for over 4000 years by astrologers and now is being seen in the world of quantum behavior and astrophysics. Modern science is coming full circle to disprove what the Church forcibly imposed on the minds of humanity five hundred years ago; that is, no religion owns the commodity of Divine connection or Divine communication. Everything is information, Divine information. Everything, if studied in the proper way and with a trained and disciplined mind, can tell us about ourselves, our lives, our origin, our destiny and answer the deepest questions in life about its meaning and purpose. Everything in nature is symbolic and Divinely so. We are not alienated islands of consciousness on this planet but instead we, and the sequence of events that has happened to us and will happen to us, are connected to everything else to such a degree that we can study what is apparently outside us in order to study ourselves and anticipate what will happen.
There is a debate looming within Quantum Physics about the nature of consciousness and of God (represented by the singularity of the blackhole)
Roger Penrose “tries to show,
in chapter after chapter [of his book “The Emperor’s New Mind”],
that human thought cannot be based on any known scientific principle.
Minsky’s position is exactly the opposite –
he believes that humans are, in fact, machines,
whose functioning, although complex, is fully explainable by current physics.”
Penrose is “one of a handful of scientists
who believe that the nature of consciousness suggests a quantum process.”
From WIKIPEDIA on Roger PENROSE
There is an incredibly fascinating debate going on within scientific circles concerning the nature of consciousness. For a yogi like myself, I am thrilled beyond description to follow the play by play description of it. It is many spiritually oriented people’s dream, I believe, to witness materially oriented people drifting towards spiritual questions. In the past, questions like “who am I,” “what is my nature,” “what is thought really about,” were only considered within religious and philosophical circles within academia. Now these questions are being asked, against their own wills in many cases, by straight-ahead mathematicians and physicists. Their own scientific inquiries have finally forced them to face such issues.
Roger Penrose is leading a group of those scientists who are grabbing onto the strangest of the quantum physics material to explain the previously unexplainable nature of consciousness itself. Penrose’s work is supported by other heavy-hitters in the world of physics, like Wheeler (who I wrote about in a previously article). Wheeler’s work on the presence of singularities within every moment, every where, on the quantum level, could easily support some of Penrose’s assertions although Wheeler, himself, may not be ready to do so personally.
Wheeler is saying that reality is all about bits: the choice between zero or one. This is the basic duality of life. Is it . . . or is it not? Zero or one. Empty or full? Real or unreal? Good or bad? The most fundamental of choices. The most fundamental expression of free will. No matter what is happening we always have a full and complete choice to say either, “this is good,” or “this is bad:” ONE or ZERO.
In the world of computer science this is called the binary language and is the fundamental language that all computers that we know of, speak. Zero or one: this is, for computers, the same as “on or off.” Computers are essentially a huge conglomeration of “on and off” switches. Amazing!– that what we know as the internet today is essentially nothing but a hugely complex interplay of “on and off” switches which we all are manipulating, individually and collectively.
But is that the essence of consciousness entirely? Could there be something more than just the simple choice, good vs. bad, to the functioning of thought and self-reflection?
Alan Turning thought so. Turning is considered one of the creators of the computer (second to Von Neumann) but his visions for the computer were never really pursued. He believed that computers could be more alive, more conscious than computers of today actually are. One of the fundamental differences, he stated, between a computer that was simply a tool (which is how he would have categorized the computers of today) and a computer that is intelligent, is that a computer that is intelligent could be wrong. The computers of today are never wrong in the way that Turner meant. They always add up correctly (assuming we program them correctly), they always perform exactly as programmed. Turner believed that real consciousness (in both a machine and in an organism) required the leeway to be wrong. This type of computer would still be programmed (just like we are born with DNA) but that they would have the flexibility to be wrong.
He saw that ability to be wrong in nature. He studied morphogenesis, which is the ability to grow in nature, to grow from a seed into a plant, and saw the hand of experimentation and self-reflection. Nature tried something and then observed whether it was right or not and THEN made a new plan based on the results. Our computers of today may be programmed to do something new if something goes wrong (like an anti-virus software) but they cannot then determine what next to do on their own. Their programming always has to precede and anticipate all possible outcomes of their behavior otherwise they crash.
Turning even came up with formulae to describe this aspect of being able to be wrong (and not crash) but his ideas were never pursued. Some say that it was because of his untimely death and others say that his ideas threatened religious and psychological social systems of his day. Whatever the case, I believe that he would be thrilled by the modern inquiries of physics into the nature of reality and consciousness. For isn’t Wheeler’s assertions that the true nature of reality is about information also a statement that the true nature of reality is about consciousness? He might not agree but that doesn’t prevent us to see into the finer details of what is happening. Isn’t his statement that the nature of reality is about information also a statement that consciousness is more than just the binary language that our current computers are based on?
Wheeler says that reality is binary but it is obvious that our binary-based computers today are not alive, so doesn’t that support what Penrose is saying? Penrose is saying that reality may be about bits or choices but the interplay between them is not classical but quantum; that is, the making of a choice is not as simple as it sounds. If it is all about choices, who is making those choices? We are trying to describe consciousness here so you can’t answer by saying, “consciousness is making those choices.” Consciousness can’t be the one who asks and also the question itself, can it?
That’s where the singularity or the black hole comes in to save the day. Otherwise scientists couldn’t even approach the question at the end of the last paragraph. They don’t have the tools to study that question. But with the singularity they do. By studying the role of the singularity within each moment of reality, within each choice, on or off, empty or full, good or bad, that is made in creating what happens next, physics has the tool to close the circle asked in the above question. Physics can connect the dots per se; that is, they can prove that the one who asks is the same as the the question itself. Once the singularity is recognized as the embodiment of Infinite Oneness then they will realize that it is the spark that brings life into the otherwise mechanical answering of a million-billion yes or no questions. Once they recognize that the singularity is bigger than the universe and at the same time is a size smaller than the smallest thing then they will have closed the circle on consciousness and the nature of life itself.
Luckily, despite the obvious, scientists will not see the singularity in this Absolute way. Not seeing It as Absolute will allow them to continue to study It with the approval and interest of conventional material oriented society and so they can pursue it all the way to a proof, in their own language, that the singularity is omnipresent and essential to the most fundamental quantum process of answering each and every “zero or one” situation. The singularity is what determines the answer to each binary question within reality and the singularity is self-reflective in the way that Turner described, growing upon what happened before and therefore answering each successive question in a new way. The singularity is the essence, or true indivisible kernel, of consciousness itself. It is unique and Infinite, omnipresent and strangely non-existent at the same time. It is the “I AM” principle and if there is such a thing, It is the true God particle.
So if you squeeze matter into a tiny space, it gets denser and denser,
and space curls up very tightly. . . .
this is what they say happens inside a black hole, at the center, where the density of matter is infinite,
all the matter crushed into a single point called a singularity.
There is no way to describe a singularity—space and time literally go away there—and so many physicists hope that singularities really don’t exist.
The Bit and The Pendulum by Tom Siegfried pg. 218
As I propose in my book, THE SCORPIO RING OF FIRE, black holes represent something very unusual and profound for spiritual seekers. As I elaborate therein, black holes have a very importance lesson to teach us about the fundamental meaning to life and also about where we came from and where we eventually will go.
Astrology recognizes that everything that scientists choose to study is important to spiritual seekers. Everything uncovered in the scientific world has symbolic meaning to all of us here on Earth. Even more specifically, astrology teaches that the names that scientists assign to a thing helps us to decode the meaning or message behind that discovery. In that vein, astrology has used the description of the god, Jupiter, from the ancient Roman culture, to help understand the message or lesson coming from the planet that was so-named. Yes, in those ancient cultures the planets were named after the gods because they were believed to be those gods incarnate but since then it is scientists who have decided which names to keep and use. And of course, they have chosen the names for everything discovered in the modern era (such as Uranus, Neptune, Pluto, Ceres which were also gods from ancient cultures).
So astrology PAYS ATTENTION to all the details of the discoveries coming from the conventional scientists in order to deduce the underlining spiritual significance. I say “spiritual” to describe the motivation to come into alignment with the forces of nature as opposed to the motivation to control and manipulate those forces, which is the motivation behind non-spiritual inquiry. [Of course, any method of inquiry INCLUDING astrology can be used in a non-spiritual way. Here I am specifically referencing only spiritually oriented astrology.]
So when scientists get together and agree upon the use of the word, “SINGULARITY,” to describe black holes, astrologers take notes. To use such a word is immediately interesting and relevant to astrologers’ search for the connections/lessons coming from the Universe about our deepest questions in life. [Here I use the phrase “from the Universe” but I could just as easily have used “from the Divine,” “from the WHOLE,” “from God,” “from our True Selves”.]
The word “singularity” is a word that I imagine quite a few Vedantist/non-dualist teachers wished they had coined themselves. The fact that it comes from the world of conventional science is marvelous, to say the least. It is a beautiful word to indicate that indescribable state of non-dual Beingness described in so many spiritual texts (the Bhagavad Gita, being one of them) as the final and highest goal of human life.
“There is no way to describe a singularity—space and time literally go away there.”
In a state of Unity, of Oneness consciousness, time and space do not exist, the great spiritual texts tell us. That state is beyond the grips of even death itself because only “singularity” is honored. Death requires separation, multiple objects along with their observers, etc. Death requires a “birth;” which is a basic way of describing change in a general sense. Things change, things are born, things die. Where there are no things, no separation of object and observer, there can be no change, nothing is born, nothing dies.
“so many physicists hope that singularities really don’t exist.”
Of course, scientists are terrified by the possibility of such a state “existing;” that is, being represented in a physical way. The existence of a singularity threatens to trump the supremacy of their human minds. The human mind is founded on the ability to categorize, to analyze something until its rules are delineated. Knowing the rules behind the operation of any natural process lets us CONTROL that process, of course. That is the motivation propping up the hubris of the human mind. The existence of a “singularity” trumps the idea that controlling things is the reason we have a mind. The “singularity” admits the possibility that there is something higher in function than the use of our mind to control things. The existence of a “singularity” opens the door to the possibility that the human mind is in its highest expression not through control of external conditions but through honoring them. The “singularity” represents a triumph of nature over the human mind. In studying a black hole scientists are looking at something that is and will continue to humble them because it represents a spiritual truth that the individualist, control-oriented mind is not the highest and best use of a human life.
In the modern view, force is transmitted by the exchange of particles.
A force is the same thing as an interaction,
and the way particles interact is to trade other particles.
One electron interacts with another, for example,
by emitting a photon that the other electron absorbs.
The Bit and The Pendulum by Tom Siegfried, pg 215.
According to modern quantum physics all interactions are a matter of giving. Giving is the primary way that things interact on a quantum level. This tells us that if we want to maximize our positive effect on the world around us we should focus on what we give.
Of course, spiritual scriptures have emphasized giving over receiving since the beginning of recorded history. Generosity is listed as one of the highest of virtues in most religions/spiritual traditions. But now we know, scientifically, that giving is the primary action of life. When we sit back and wait to receive . . . we are really not doing anything at all. How can we expect positive results from a life strategy that is fundamentally inactive?
Giving is the fundamental nature of all communication. Every time we communicate we are basically giving. If part of our communication is also waiting to receive, waiting to get what we want, then we are inhibiting the process of communication. Communication gets fouled up by adding the (inactivity of) waiting for what we want in return. Receiving what we want is an extraneous part of the equation. Particles don’t do that on the quantum level. They interact simply by giving what they have to give. The nature of that gift determines the nature of the force that gift exerts on an object. Does that gift support or create change? Either way the result comes naturally with the gift.
So on a quantum level we see interaction through constant exchange. One particle gives of itself by emitting a photon and may or may not receive a photon in return. It would be silly to say that a particle that gives a photon wants one in return. Giving a photon is a result of having more than is needed or balanced. To expect something back from such a gift is nonsensical.
The picture that quantum physics is painting of the fundamental world of particles and their interactions is so simple, natural, efficient and wholesome. How have our actions today stepped away from such uncomplicated behavior? Why is there so much thinking today that gets in the way of the natural behavior of giving to others what is excess in one’s own life? What has caused humans to grab and hold on to everything they possibly can without considering the health of the larger community? What has caused humans to act more like cancer cells do within the body: taking but not giving, doing as little as possible and absorbing as much as possible, taking up more and more space and cutting off the natural flow of resources to others?