Topic 19 – At the Corner of Physics and Metaphysics
I thought this next-to-last episode in my recent series, The View from Here, was going to expou
nd on how quantum reality reflects a metaphysical view of the cosmos, something that Newtonian physics would never be accused of. While Newtonian physics is very mechanistic, looking at parts and wholes, and cause and effect, quantum reality has an almost ontological feel about it, meaning, that when we study it, it seems as if we are studying the nature of existence itself. Since metaphysics is the branch of philosophy that houses ontology, you can begin to see why we talk of physics meeting metaphysics in quantum reality. What’s exciting about that is that a doorway is now open to the integration of science and philosophy, even spiritual philosophy, giving us a far more expansive and accurate notion about this world as well as we who inhabit it.
But what we also see is how quickly this discussion becomes so abstract that attempts
to understand ourselves and our world more clearly are a ways off yet. You can see this exemplified in this awesome but rather boggling description of the universe offered by the late John A. Wheeler, a quantum physicist of great repute:
There is nothing in the world except empty curved space.
Matter, charge, electromagnetism, and other fields are
only manifestations of the bending of space.
So as I sat at my desk, pondering how to approach this topic, an image of an old Mexican Indian sitting in a hot, dusty bus station in Arizona, enduring the pretentious
s introductions of a sociology student by the name of Carlos Castaneda, filled my mind. The conversations that ensued for 13 years between these two men became for me grist for a mill that has continued to grind for over 40 years–my introduction into quantum reality. The old man was aware of this mystery of the universe that science is only beginning to peg down, and he knew how to operate in it. And though the universe Don Juan Matus described may not be any easier to grok than John Wheeler’s, it’s a whole lot more fun reading about from Don Juan Matus.
The series of books that resulted ended up in the fiction section of bookstores and libraries. That didn’t deter me. Nor did the abuse from my friends who taunted, “Christina, what are you, nuts? It’s just a story. It’s made up.”
I merely replied, “Then introduce me to the writer, because somebody knows something about life here that is astounding.” And so it began, my forty-year affair with what I called the Don Juan books. The writer was Don Juan’s apprentice. What he added to the mix for me, other than recording his experiences, was he endless list of questions, all of which I benefited from greatly.
Why did I choose this route for this blog? Because Don Juan offered me my first introduction to quantum reality, only it took me years to realize it. The men and women of Don Juan’s party lived from a worldview not at all like ours. They could live in ours, but that could also move beyond a world of objects—solid, separate, and static. Their view, unlike ours was not earmarked by suffering, powerlessness, and unending need. Their expanded worldview was based on acknowledging, understanding and interacting with the world as energy. Their perception was attuned to seeing in terms of energy, and their facts were energetic facts. Their apparent raison d’etre was to explore life from that worldview and learn as much as they could before their era expired. If you want a read of a lifetime, read the first 8 books in sequence and then add on The Art of Dreaming and end with The Active Side of Infinity.
That 1500-year-old linage could grasp and work in quantum reality because they knew one inarguable fact. They had to be able to transcend their Newtonian worldview in order to accommodate a new one. This is not an intellectual journey. If we’re going to swim in these waters, whether scientist or you and me, we need to get into the pool. We really don’t have a lot of choice about this, yet we’re still acting as if we do. Mary Oliver, in Evidence, understands and captures the irony of our situation in her conversation with an otter:
…He has no words, still what he tells me
about his life is so clear.
He does not own a computer.
He imagines the river will last forever.
He does not envy the dry house I live in.
He does not wonder who or what it is that I worship.
He wonders, morning after morning, that the river
is so cold and fresh and alive, and still
I don’t jump in.
I am ending this series next week with some names and further reading of those who’ve awakened to what this series has been talking about. It is time for more people to slip into the river.