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#3449 - Friday, February 20, 2009 -
Editor: Jerry Katz
The Nonduality Highlights - http://groups.yahoo.com/group/NDhighlights
"The marriage of modern physics and modern mysticism has been a nightmare."
To continue the conversation on nonduality and quantum physics from issue 3448 -- http://nonduality.com/hl3448.htm -- Highlights reader Ed Kelly describes a conversation between Ken Wilber and Corey deVos. Read his description and then listen to the MP3 link to hear the conversation and to get the real juice.
"Ken compiled the original writings of the 13 most important founders of modern quantum and relativistic physics, to explore their understanding of the relationship of physics and mysticism. Without exception, each one of them believed that modern physics does NOT prove spiritual realities in any fashion. And yet each of them was a mystic, not because of physics, but in spite of it."
Ken Wilber and Corey deVos - Does
Physics Prove God?
The central question of this dialogue has to do directly with the
relation of modern quantum physics and spirituality. In effect, does
physics prove God? Does the Tao find proof in quantum realities?
Answer: "Categorically not. I don't know more confusion in the last
thirty years than has come from quantum physics...."
Ken goes on to outline the three major confusions that have dominated
the popular (mis)understanding of the relationship of physics and
#1: Your consciousness does not create electrons. Unlike Newtonian
physics, which can predict the location of large objects moving at
slow speeds, quantum physics only offers a probability wave in which
a given particle, like an electron, should show up. But here's the
funny thing: it is only at the moment that one makes the measurement
that the electron actually does "show up." Certain writers and
theorists have thus suggested that human intentionality actually
creates reality on a quantum level. The most popular version of this
idea can be found in the movie What the Bleep Do We Know?!, in which
we "qwaff" reality into existence.
Ken suggests this is both bad physics and bad mysticism. As for the
former, in his book, Quantum Questions, Ken compiled the original
writings of the 13 most important founders of modern quantum and
relativistic physics, to explore their understanding of the
relationship of physics and mysticism. Without exception, each one of
them believed that modern physics does NOT prove spiritual realities
in any fashion. And yet each of them was a mystic, not because of
physics, but in spite of it. By pushing to the outer limits of their
discipline, a feat which requires true genius, they found themselves
face to face with those realities that physics categorically could
Likewise, none of those founders of modern physics believed that the
act of consciousness was responsible for creating particles at the
quantum level. David Bohm did not believe that, Schroedinger did not
believe that, Heisenberg did not believe that. That belief requires
the enormous self-infatuation and narcissism, or "boomeritis," of the
post-modern ego, and Ken goes into the possible psychology behind all
#2: Quantum vacuum potentials are not unmanifest Spirit. The
immediate problem with the notion that certain "unmanifest"
or "vacuum" quantum realities give rise to the manifest world, and
that the quantum vacuum is Spirit, is that it immediately presupposes
a radically divided Spirit or Ultimate. There is Spirit "over here,"
manifestation "over there," and it's only through these quantum
vacuum potentials that Spirit actualizes manifestationwith Spirit
set apart from manifestation.
As the great contemplative traditions agree, true nondual Spirit is
the suchness, emptiness, or isness of all manifestation, and as such
leaves everything exactly where it finds it. Nondual Spirit is no
more set apart from manifestation than the wetness of the ocean is
set apart from waves. Wetness is the suchness or isness of all waves.
By identifying Spirit with quantum potential, you are actually
qualifying the Unqualifiable, giving it characteristics"and right
there," Ken says, "things start to go horribly wrong, and they never
recover. These folks are trying to give characteristics to Emptiness.
They therefore make it dualistic. And then things get worse from
#3: Just because you understand quantum mechanics doesn't mean you're
enlightened. Physics is an explicitly 3rd-person approach to reality,
whereas meditative, contemplative, or mystical disciplines are
explicitly 1st-person approaches to reality. Neither perspective is
more real than the other, but each perspective does disclose
different truths, and you cannot use the truth disclosed in one
domain to "colonize" another. The study of physics, as a 3rd-person
discipline, will not get you enlightenment; and meditation, as a 1st-
person discipline, will not disclose the location of an asteroid (or
an electron). The "content" of enlightenment is the realization of
that which is timeless, formless, and eternally unchanging. The
content of physics is the understanding of the movement of form
within time, i.e. that which is constantly changing. And if you hook
Buddha's enlightenment to a theory of physics that gets disproved
tomorrow, does that mean Buddha loses his enlightenment?
Ken goes on to suggest that what might be influencing quantum
realities is not Suchness per se, but bio-energy or prana, which may
be the source of the crackling, buzzing, electric creativity that so
many theorists have tried to explain at the quantum level. Of course,
it remains to be seen exactly what further research does and does not
*Corey deVos and Ken Wilber - Does Physics Prove God?
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