Letter 32: The changing worldview

Although Descartes saw insight as being divinely inspired, over the four centuries following him anything based on subjective or transpersonal experience was more and more ignored as unscientific, as it could not be proven by scientific research or caught in a mathematical equation.

With Albert Einstein a new era of thought about the Cosmos came into being. He is quoted as saying: “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honours the servant and has forgotten the gift.” He himself felt led by intuitive insights like other scientists. The most striking example is the discovery by the German organic chemist Kekule of the ring like structure of benzene in a ‘day-dream’ of a snake seizing its tail in its mouth.

Then Niels Bohr, Werner Heisenberg and Paul Dirac developed Quantum Theory following on from Einstein General Theory of Relativity and later his view of space-time as a field. This opened up a totally different world view from the dualistic and material Cartesian/Newtonian one – everything is connected through fields: “In this new physics there is no place for both field and matter, because field is the only reality.” This view allows a holistic approach, including a transpersonal/spiritual perspective. The beauty of the subatomic world as shown in Quantum theory is that nothing has meaning or substance in itself. All – including the human mind, body and spirit - are part of an infinite ocean of energy, patterns within patterns, relationships within relationships. All are integrally related and supported by a vast underlying ocean of energy. In 1931 George Lemaitre, a young Belgium priest, an outstanding physicist and cosmologist, put forward the theory that this Quantum field, this ocean of energy came into being as the result of a momentous event. A very dense and compressed single atom – he called it a primeval atom – about 13.7 billion years ago exploded into an enormous field of creativity, which has been continually expanding and creating ever since. Lemaitre called this the ‘Big Bang theory’ and this is now generally accepted as the standard theory, proven – as far as that is possible - by many discoveries in cosmological research. Recent cosmological research has even postulated that this very dense and hot atom that exploded and created the Universe as we know it, was part of a further unknown field of reality.

The temptation is to equate these scientific findings with theology and consider the Big Bang as the creative act from Genesis and the field that it was part of to be the Source of All, the Divine Reality. But we have to keep in mind that both the scientists and the theologians are trying to grasp and express what is incomprehensible. We have really reached the limits of our rational understanding. All we truly know is that we don’t know to paraphrase Socrates. But what is proven uncontestably is that everything and everyone are interconnected and interdependent, with humankind being integrally involved. This is brought out strikingly by experiments that showed that the consciousness of the observer influences the outcome of an experiment. There is only energy and consciousness relating and interacting. The difficulty is that it seems that everything is ruled by probability; there are no fixed and certain outcomes and conclusions in this theory. This ‘uncertainty principle’ made even Albert Einstein unsure and is quoted to have said “God does not play dice!”

This is also the reason why everything on the whole is still treated in a mechanistic and reductionist way. Many scientists feel uncomfortable with the ‘uncertainly principle’ and have difficulty with understanding the complicated principles underlying quantum theory expressed in its equations. Thus they are either unaware of its wider implications for science or instead are struggling to incorporate these new ideas into an existing conventional framework. Experiments had proven the existence of this connecting principle, this self-generating life force field, right at the beginning, but it was ignored as irrelevant to practical applications of this science and left out of the equations. Now scientists interested in the philosophical implications of Quantum Theory are drawing attention to it.

Even before the findings of the new world view filtered down in our consciousness, many of us instinctively felt that there was something lacking in this dualistic, mechanistic, deterministic way of viewing a human being. It made us feel incomplete, with an emptiness within. Many looked unsuccessfully to the world for things and people to fill that emptiness, so we could be whole. The Quantum view of reality made us realise that there is nothing missing; we are an integral part of the whole with both our rational mind and the intuitive and spiritual part of our being; we had just been encouraged to forget the existence of the latter. This is why meditation is so important in this respect. It gives you a way to actually experience this wholeness and connectedness. It becomes an experienced reality not just an intellectual assumption. We realise the truth of St Paul’s saying that we ‘move and have our being’ in this sea of energy we call Christ. Through Him humanity and its actions are intimately involved with and co-responsible for the whole Cosmos. This worldview makes us profoundly aware that we too have a deep significance and meaning.

Kim Nataraja

(Adapted from Dancing with Your Shadow)