"The flow of creativity feels like an avalanche of joy and wonder. Being open to that possibility creates connections with everything." - Feline Dreamers

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Quantum Metaphysics

Quester came up with a saying that he wants to have made into a bumper sticker: “Now that science has proven that magick works, I’d like an apology.” The particular science he refers to here is the non-linear behavior of photons in quantum mechanics. I’ve been studying the intersection between the discoveries of quantum physics and consciousness, from a spiritually-minded layperson’s perspective, for quite a few years. If you’ve ever experienced mysterious synchronicities or phenomena unexplained by conventional Newtonian physics (no matter your belief system), it might interest you to know that science is still in the process of learning how the universe actually works.

Many scientists in quantum physics and related fields describe the non-causal behavior of tiny particles, with the caveat that atomic events don’t apply on a macro level, such as in our daily lives. Just recently an experiment at the University of California showed the laws of quantum mechanics at work on an object visible to the naked eye, but this new and controversial research is an exception. There are some leading-edge rebel thinkers, though, who have opened their minds and are exploring the possible ways our non-linear experiences might be operating under quantum-type principles.

I recently finished reading a couple of books that fit in this category, both published in the 1990s. The first is The Self-Aware Universe: How Consciousness Creates the Material World by Amit Goswami, Ph.D. The author, after exploring the history of quantum physics and detailing many of its basic theories, posits a philosophy that encompasses quantum mechanics as well as classical physics. Called monistic idealism, Goswami’s proposed philosophy posits that “both the world of matter and the world of mental phenomena, such as thought, are determined by consciousness.” He goes on to detail a fascinating story of hard science woven with discoveries of mystics throughout the ages.

The other book is The Dreaming Universe: A Mind-Expanding Journey Into the Realm Where Psyche and Physics Meet by Fred Alan Wolf, Ph.D. I was first introduced to Wolf as the crazy professor who appears very entertainingly in the DVD “The Secret.” I wasn’t surprised to learn that he’s a friend of Robert Anton Wilson, another pioneer in consciousness studies. In this book, Wolf takes us on a journey of discovery that ranges from quantum mechanics to neurological experiments, sleep studies, aboriginal beliefs, and near-death experiences. His ultimate conclusions, or perhaps questions, center on the imaginal realm, which lies between conscious awareness and the world of physical matter. Materialist philosophy says that consciousness arises from matter, yet there has been no satisfactory theory about how this happens. Wolf comes up with some thought-provoking ideas about how the universe dreams itself into existence.

Both of these books begin with explanations of significant research and experiments in the field of quantum physics, written such that a non-scientist reader can grasp the implications. The authors then proceed to pose more questions than they answer (which for me is a good sign), making tentative connections between quantum principles and many aspects of human consciousness. The most interesting part for me, however, is the speculative material. Each author describes his ideas of how the universe might operate, being clear that they are just theories. There is much delicious and satisfying food for thought contained within both texts.

If you haven’t explored the world of quantum metaphysics and would like to dive in, here are some books I’d recommend to get you started:

The Dancing Wu Li Masters by Gary Zukav
The Tao of Physics by Fritjof Capra
The Holographic Universe by Michael Talbot

On the other hand, if you’re a fellow student of this line of thought, please suggest your favorite books in the Comments section.


Tame said...

(Starcat, you're on my blogroll now.) My favorite book on this subject is "The Dancing Wu Li Masters." There's also an excellent episode in a BBC series called "The Illusion of Reality" which you may still be able to find on Google videos. - Tame Bear

Wendy said...

Zukav's other book, The Seat of the Soul, was also a very good discussion of this sort of thing.

You might also check out the writings of Christine Page (or her website at www.christinepage.com). It's not exactly the same stuff, but she does address the connection between the physical and the spirit/energy and how we make our own realities.

Such fascinating stuff ... and in fact, it was studying the science/magic connection that put me on my pagan path :).