A Visual Account of Quantum Strangeness

The strangeness of the microscopic world, aka the quantum world, is best captured in a famous experiment known as The Double Slit Experiment. It is a simple experiment that shows how our intuitive ideas of matter and reality don’t hold anymore. This experiment shows the essence of quantum mechanics and why it is so strange and counter-intuitive. The following video is the best and the most accurate description of this experiment I have found so far. I hope you enjoy it.

The Act & The Almighty

The Almighty is the substratum of the acts of cognition. 

From the standpoint of a radical empiricism, one yet concealed to the positive sciences, the brute fact of reality is: There is nothing but experience.

If experience is divisible into distinct cognitive acts this divisibility is itself something experienced by a consciousness, the witness consciousness. Consciousness of multiplicity is possible if and only if the perceiving consciousness itself remains one and the same through its many perceptions, and hence being untouched by that multiplicity. But we can assume these distinctions in acts of cognition insofar as it is understood that all distinctions are only apparent and used only for the sake of clear exposition. With this in mind, we define experience as the totality of cognitive acts. However, the cognitive act bears within it the cognized object, what is called noema. The experienced object is constituted within the temporal flow of the act and cannot exist apart from the act that constitutes it. The object of consciousness is a moment inside consciousness, for if the object were outside consciousness there would be no way for consciousness to come into contact with its object no more than a blind person can fetch an unknown object in a straightforward manner.

Therefore, all objects are essentially objects for consciousness. Or, consciousness is always consciousness of an object. That consciousness is essentially consciousness-of something is known as the intentional character of consciousness. There is no consciousness that is not conscious of something: All consciousness is a consciousness of. It follows that world and its objects are correlates of the acts of consciousnesses; they are correlated, or entangled, with the constantly functioning conscious acts, much like magnetic poles; where there is one pole there must also be a second pole. Where there is consciousness there must also be a world of objects as the end product of cognition. Thus, cosmos is nothing but a correlate of consciousness which is eternally constituted in and through the acts of consciousness. What has substantial reality is not the world, for world is nothing outside the cognitive acts that constitute it. What has substantial reality is the totality of the acts of consciousness, each act being an attribute of an underlying substratum. This underlying substratum which is of the nature of pure consciousness is the infamous Almighty; it is the only thing that is real: It is the supreme reality.

World As The Ecstasy of Consciousness

Consciousness gives and hides at once; it exhibits the world, but exhibits the world as transcendent, always beyond our full reach. It makes most of the world hidden from intuition and yet laments over what it gives and brags about what it takes.

Consciousness doesn’t just exhibit the world; it exhibits objectivity. It is not a world of objects that we experience and then label it as real; it is reality itself that we experience. Reality is the absolute necessary object of all experience; it is in light of this structural feature of consciousness that even our dreams are experienced as real: Experience is always experience of reality. “World” and “Object” are alien concepts added later.

Experience is the consciousness of the Real.

Existence is the consciousness of the Infinity.

Objectivity is the consciousness of the Absolute.

World is the consciousness of the Totality.

Beauty is the consciousness of the Good.

The peculiarly human anxiety is due to the half given world, a world that is necessarily and eternally withdrawing from the full grasp of consciousness. We become anxious because despite our awareness of the contingency and impermanence of the world we still invest in it, in a world that is always only half-available; and we do so on faith. It is the anxiety inherent in bad faith that conquers us; it traps us into fears of our own creation.

This is the anxiety over “what if our worldly projects go wrong!” This anxiety implies the essential contingency of existence and human’s instinctual awareness of it. World can always be a different world; it can and most often does deviate from our naïve expectations. We are already aware of this dilemma, and it is with this awareness in mind that we undertake our projects and invest in our investments.

Man’s irresistible urge to erase his memory of contingency and impermanence constitutes the real Fall of man. The fall did not just occur and end; the Fall is an ongoing process: Man fell and is still falling, falling an eternal centrifugal fall that is entangled to human existence. We can transcend this urge only when we transcend our humanity. We have worn existence inside out; this made us human. Religion and science came and made it even worse; these imposters of truth turned existence upside down; and this made us the modern man, the rock bottom of all species. No wonder man cannot find its way back to the ground. Humanity’s time is over; it is worn out and bleeding too hard. It has already had too many strokes; it is too old for restoration: It will expire in the hands of the drunken surgeons of modernity and its fascist sciences.

The anxiety is lifted only when we fully admit to the contingent character of the world; only when we stop investing in it and expecting from it. Life can be lives fully only when the old, rational idea of the world is renounced, wholeheartedly and with the most sincere intentions. One wonders if human emotion is a reaction to this absolute dichotomy, of the urge to invest in something known to be absolutely uncertain. It is as if man has a fetish for pain and bondage.

It is not that we as humans can withdraw our investments and resolve this dilemma. Humanity itself is an investment in the world; it is itself the symptom and not the cause. Humanity is the world-interested self-objectification of consciousness. Humanity is in principle identical with captivation, hypnosis, bondage and finitude. But if we are to withdraw our own humanity out of the world, then who are we really!? We are that which poses the question. We are what we have accepted to be.

If we were truly human, if we were grounded in our humanity and if it was our inevitable essence, then it would not be possible for us to wonder about who we are, to question our existence, to have notions such as Absolute, Infinite, Perfection, and Real, and to pose the question “Who am I?”

Humanity is the content of experience; we are the absolute subject forever immune to all objectification, for it is us and only us who does the objectification.

You are not human; you are not alienated; you are not alone, for you are the only thing that exists and everything that exists is you. You are the One; you are that and that is you.

Nothing can weaken you; nothing can frighten you; not so much because you are strong, but because you are the only thing that exists; there is nothing outside you to weaken you; there is nothing other than you to disturb you, your peace and your greatness. You are absorbed in an eternal presence filled with glory and bliss. Nothing is there to hurt you. The only thing that exists is the contents of your own consciousness. We only need to make one decision: Do we want the contents of our own consciousness be for us or against us?! Our salvation is in the former and our damnation is in the latter.

You are not the knower; you are not the known: You are the knowing.

You can never fully be anything, for you are Being itself. You are pure existence. Human anxiety is the known fear in the face of its own infinitude.

You must dwell in the essential ambiguity of presence. You are the dweller of the void; you are the whirling dervish called Now: You are the Now and not anything that happens in it.

A Non-Dual Perspective on The Big Bang

Existence As The Grand Illusion 

The similarities between Quantum Physics and Plato’s theory of Forms is so astonishing that one may even view quantum theory as a mathematical formulation of Plato’s theory of Forms.

Plato’s fundamental forms are regular solids of Euclidean Geometry. The fundamental forms of quantum physics are elementary particles which are not physical objects at all; elementary particles are mathematical objects; what we perceive in the form of matter is only the manifestation of these ideal-mathematical objects.

Plato considers our world to be the imperfect shadow of an ideal, perfect world of pure forms. It is not that Plato’s Pure Forms or Ideas are mental objects or subjective constructs. Plato’s Forms have existence of their own and are in fact the sole reality that exists. Only these Forms are real; what we experience as reality is the imperfect shadow of the world of pure forms. Thus, Plato’s Pure Forms are not physical entities existing in space and time; they are ideal-and in Plato’s view mathematical-entities existing beyond space and time.

Now take a look at a sentence from Werner Heisenberg, the German physicist and Nobel Laureate who was one the founders of quantum mechanics. He says in his Physics and Philosophy:

What we observe is not nature itself, but nature exposed to our methods of questioning.

From the point of view of Quantum Physics what we regard as physical reality is only the projection of an ideal, non-physical reality. According to quantum physics the underlying reality is beyond space and time, and that is why we observe phenomena such as interference and entanglement. A purely physical reality existing in space-time could not possibly produce these phenomena which are observed and experimentally confirmed.

The universe as we know it, as this physical object, has no real, physical existence; it is a mere shadow of something that lies outside space and time, something essentially non-dual. In fact the non-existence of universe as an independent reality is an immediate consequence of the postulates of quantum physics:

An isolated quantum system remains forever in a superposition state (state of pure potentiality) until it is observed or disturbed by something outside the system itself.

Now if we take the quantum system to include our universe and all other possible universes, namely if we take our quantum system to coincide with the totality of what is, then there is no way for this system to ever leave the state of pure potentiality and become actual. Even if we posit the existence of some conscious agent outside totality, like god or whatever, which can make the universe into actuality the problem remains intact; we can now define the quantum system to include that agent as well, thus making it a pure potentiality rather than something actual that can produce any effects. Though this may sound pretty abstract or strange it was common sense for the non-dual Vedantist who knows that none of this has ever happened.

According to the principles of quantum physics universe cannot possibly exist; it cannot possibly be real. Though most physicists avoid this aspect of the theory, it is interesting to know that this conclusion of modern physics is identical to the central principle of Advaita Vedanta Metaphysics. The details of this similarity is discussed in my book “Non-Dual Perspective on Quantum Physics” to which I would provide a link at the end of this essay.

Now, what is even more striking when it comes to the similarity between Plato’s Forms and Quantum Physics is the idea that “the observable reality is an imperfect shadow of a transcendent reality.” Here is the source of awe:

In quantum theory the underlying reality is described by this mathematical object called “state vector” which is a more abstract form of wave function. The whole of quantum theory and its description of reality is built upon mathematical objects called vectors and operators.

The quantum system described by a state vector naturally dwells in Hilbert Space which is an abstract mathematical space lying beyond space-time. Hilbert Space in which superposition states exist is the space of pure potentiality where the formless, non-dual reality dwells. Hilbert Space is NOT inside our familiar space and time; it is more like the void that contains our space-time in pure, formless potentiality.

In quantum physics observation corresponds to the action of operators on state vectors. The operators corresponding to the act of observation are called Projection Operators. What projection operator does is to project what is in Hilbert Space onto our familiar space-time. A quantum system which is originally in superposition state inside Hilbert Space (space of pure potentiality) in thrown into actuality by the action of the Projection Operator.

The Projection Operator is defined in a graduate textbook of quantum physics as follows:

“The action of Projection Operator gives the shadow of any state vector on a subspace.”

Through the act of observation it is not the reality that we experience but a mere shadow of it; the true reality, including our own real selves, lies beyond space and time. According to quantum physics what is observed is a mere shadow of a transcendent reality.

Considering this precise meaning of observation and experience and also the fact that our universe could not have possibly been thrown into actuality, we see that the reality described by quantum physics is somewhat identical to the reality described by Plato’s Theory of Forms. Both agree that what is real is not what is observed: Observation is a mere shadow, a pure appearance, having no reality of its own.

The only thing that ever existed is the state of pure potentiality which can never be actualized. What we experience as actual reality is more like a dream: The apparent actuality must be a cosmic illusion, a Noema, a Maya, namely a Noemaya.

It is interesting to see that cosmologists have caught some clues about this idea since a lot of them are coming to the conclusion that our universe behaves more like a hologram, a theory known as the Holographic Universe.”

I have explained in detail the non-dual aspects of quantum physics and its similarities to esoteric traditions such as Advaita Vedanta in the following book: