World as Divine Symbol

World as the totality of all existence, both in its form and content, is nothing but a symbol. It is a symbol because it always points to something other than itself, to an origin that is itself not in or part of the world, to an origin that is itself other-worldly. Even modern science has secretly come to this same conclusion though it does not explicitly admit it: They claim that the physical world came into being without the need for something outside itself. If we ask why and how, their answer is ” according to the laws of physics!”

However, if Big Bang occurs simply due to these laws, then these laws must preexist the Big Bang itself, if not temporally but surely logically, in order to make it begin; these laws must in one way or another transcend the universe or else our world could not come into existence. On the other hand, laws of physics are not themselves physical entities; they are not made of matter and neither are they tangible worldly phenomena; rather, they are Ideal, invisible forms that can be grasped only through intellectual intuition.

Thus, we see that science too cannot help but explain the universe by recourse to a set of ideal and other-worldly beings that must necessarily both precede and transcend the phenomenal world. If modern science only apparently succeeded in omitting God from the picture it was also simultaneously forced to replace God with universal laws enjoying an absolute and Godly status. Scientists only renamed that transcendent ground of the world from “God” to “scientific laws”. Apart from the name, the traditional God of religion and the modern laws of science both have the same role and authoritative voice in explaining the phenomenal universe: Without them our universe could not be, and now that it is its every moment and phenomenon is sustained only because the Godly laws keep being what they are without themselves being in need of anything else for their existence.

It is in virtue of its symbolic character that world is a questionable phenomenon, something always in need of explanation, and it will always remain so until we realize that world as symbol cannot be explained in terms of world-phenomena themselves but only in terms of a transcendent principle.

Adi Shankara
Adi Shankara

Adi Shankara, the great Hindu philosopher and theologian of the early 8th century CE, expressed the necessity of a transcendental understanding, and origin, of the world in the following sentence:

Trying to explain the phenomenal universe without reference to the Divine is like trying to explain day and night without reference to the sun.

The advent and development of world’s three greatest intellectual traditions all aimed at understanding the phenomenon of world, namely religion, philosophy, and science, is itself the most obvious indication of the always insufficient, and hence questionable, character of this phenomenon. If world was self-sufficient and had no ground outside itself, then we would never question its being and appearance in the first place; we would simply take appearances at face value and as they present themselves to us in immediate experience without even the idea of a cause or origin, and the need for explanation, coming to our minds.

But man was never satisfied with mere appearances; he believed, and even now secretly believes, even subconsciously knows, that there is something behind appearances, that appearances must stand on something other than themselves, something itself not an appearance, something transcendent to all appearances. This is the always present but often concealed presupposition that initiates and drives all inquiries. This intrinsic referencing of phenomena to something behind themselves, this pointing-beyond which is the root cause of the sense of wonder, this referencing-beyond is always there in all phenomena precisely because this world-phenomenon as a whole is nothing but a symbol. A symbol is a pointer, and world insofar as it points to some ground of existence is nothing but a symbol. The very fact that man can raise questions, that he/she can doubt, and in general the very phenomenon of questioning, is possible only because world-phenomena-in-themselves are by their nature insufficient and questionable, and that man knows from the depths of his heart that there is something above and beyond everything that appears, and thus by his struggle to know he is in fact yearning to return to that absolute ground in which no question and no desire can creep.

Man can raise grand questions and move toward their final resolution because as spiritual being he is equipped with a spiritual instinct, the instinct to scent the truth and return to it: For man the knowledge of truth is always a matter of return to that knowledge, for if man were not somehow intimately familiar with truth he/she could not even begin to form, let alone assimilate, the idea of truth in the first place, and hence he/she could not scent and find it. Thus, man’s questioning is a sniffing around of the divine perfume that is meant to intoxicate him out of the world and into transcendence, namely deliver him from world-bondage.

If man can question the world it is only because this world by itself does not have the character and quality of a final answer. In other words, a self-sufficient and self-contained world cannot develop an organism capable of questioning the existence and adequacy of that world; a world cannot by itself develop and house other-worldly ideas.

Man questions because this world is not the answer

More precisely, world is a transcendental clue. If we take it by itself and in itself, and then set our hopes and interests with reference to world itself, whether these interests are material or spiritual, then we have missed the point. World must be viewed as a means and not as an end in itself. It should be seen as a hanging thread from which we must ascend to the divine instead of descending further down into its inevitable emptiness. A symbol by itself is always empty and devoid of meaning if we overlook its symbolic character and fail to see that it is pointing to something other than itself. The primary cause of the meaninglessness of lives in modern era is that the end toward which this world points is omitted from the picture. We have taken the symbol as that for which it stands and that to which it must lead us. Hence, our lives point to nowhere; we are not anchored in anything transcendent and permanent. We are not anchored at all.

“In the beginning there was Word.” This Word refers to the world, world as the incarnation of meaning, world as word as symbol. But a word must by necessity point to a transcendent referent if it is to mean anything at all, a meaning that is produced when consciousness confronts the symbol, a meaning that is grasped only if consciousness transcends that the word, namely the world, and enters into the realm of pure meaning, naked truth, God Himself. As a symbol without referent is meaningless, our world too without reference to the divine is meaningless: God became flesh so that flesh becomes God. In the present condition in which we are totally forgetful of the Divine Principle we have nothing to become; we have nothing worthy of becoming except what lies beneath and below ourselves; instead we see ourselves as nothing but the becoming of a chimpanzee.

World is a sacred symbol descended from above; world as a mundane phenomenon ascending from inert matter makes no sense at all, and this is so besides the brute fact that the ascent of matter to consciousness is both logically and empirically impossible and by all means an irrational position. We could all see this if we used the aid of the infallible intelligence instead of letting ourselves being bullied into irrational opinions by what is intellectually fashionable nowadays.

Facing the truth regardless of public opinion and intellectual prejudice demands courage and refined intelligence. Only a coward accepts anything stupid and irrational simply because it comes out of the mouth of academia or because it is intellectually fashionable. Being intelligent and open-minded is no synonym for blind faith in evolution and the claptrap of the sort. Being intelligent and open-minded has nothing to do with believing and babbling incomprehensible gibberish under the guise of fancy and pseudo-intellectual names and forms and theories. Being intelligent and open-minded has to do with seeing things as they are and regardless of the pressure and the judgmental squint of the prevailing untruth.

Being intelligent and open-minded has to do with seeing pure and simple.

Random Reflections

I have been wanting to write something in my blog but I really have nothing to say at the moment, at least the usual stuff that I say. I thought it is a good opportunity to push myself to write when there is nothing to write, that perhaps a new field may open itself up to me which is concealed by what I usually think and say. So I decide to devote this post to free-writing.

I think I have put my mind in an awkward situation: At the same time I have used the analytic part of the mind most of my life, doing only physics, mathematics, and western philosophy. On the other hand, I am inherently drawn to the synthetic language of religion and spirituality. The analytic aspect of me tends to dissolve the whole into pieces, disintegrating whatever comes in its way. The synthetic aspect longs for the shattered whole. No wonder I linger mostly in metaphysics which is the intersection of scientific thought and religious aspirations.

By science of course I mean not modern science which I see as the perversion of the intellect. We should remember that the idea of science as systematic knowledge of totality was handed down to the fathers of modern science, such as Bacon and Galileo, from Aristotle. But in the vision of Aristotle science as systematic knowledge must always contain the two complementary parts, Physics and Metaphysics. Modern science took physics and dispensed with metaphysics, the result being a collection of scattered and mentally challenged disciplines that outwardly behave as science but lack the proper metaphysical foundations. For Aristotle metaphysics is the ground of all science; he called it the First Philosophy, supreme science.

Of modern sciences I like them insofar as they explain phenomena quantitatively but disliked them for their lack of metaphysical foundations. And by modern science I really consider exact sciences; the rest such as psychology, humanities, AI, and even biology and neuroscience don’t even qualify as science; they are awfully misguided in their characters and conclusions because they adopted the methods of physics which deals with inert matter and tried to apply them to totally different kind of phenomenon, life. Their procedures is based on an unfounded assumption that life is nothing but inert matter put together in a complex structure. I cannot see how one can make this unscientific assumption and claim to produce a science out of it!

There is very sharp line between organic and inorganic systems, between life and inert matter. The whole of these pseudo-sciences is based on ignoring this impossible gap between the two kinds of phenomena. We can consider a stone, a piece of wood, water, etc. to be natural phenomena, but we cannot possible consider consciousness too in the same class, for nature and all its phenomena are given to us, and known, in and through consciousness. To say that pure material phenomena and natural processes cause the emergence of consciousness is exactly like saying that the objects in our dream cause the dream experience!

The very basic division that we so take for granted, the objective-subjective divide, is itself a moment of conscious experience. The objectivity that we so much value in science is a possibility within subjectivity. The fact of the matter is that there is nothing but subjectivity; no one can say something that lies outside experience; and even the idea of “outside experience” or “independent of experience” is itself something experienced and cognized by consciousness. Only a subject can think of a world existing independently of him/her; only consciousness can imagine its own absence.

What modern scientific thinking has done was to push everything non-material into the human mind, telling us that imaginations, inspirations, religious experiences, etc. are all in your head, that they are subjective and not in the world. And we have simply accepted this crooked judgment and as a result take our own spirits less seriously compared to the men and women of the golden age. They have created a police state and sent everyone home, into the privacy of your mind. But when science speaks of a God-less, objective world isn’t it speaking of the subjective experiences of a few who consider themselves privileged in their knowledge of what is real and what is unreal?! Isn’t a God-less, objective world itself an idea in the consciousness of those totalitarian institutions known as academia?! What they consider objective reality is really someone else’s subjective experience, the scientists.

We have been raised and educated with this hidden propaganda that the knowledge of reality is only accessible to a few with whose unquestionable verdicts we must agree or else we are superstitious and unintelligent! Their subjectivity is better than ours! Well, if we don’t get caught up in their superficial names and forms we recognize this mentality as almost always present in history: It is nothing but fascism. It has emerged in the realm of religion, race, and now in the realm of intelligence. The dogmatic scientism exercised by many such modern scientists is nothing but intellectual fascism. When you consider your own methods of inquiry and modes of knowledge as superior to others and systematically ridicule and suppress everything that smells of the slightest disagreement, then you are that recurrent fascist who always shows up in history demanding the reign of its own truth and the exclusion and execution of the truths of others.

Modern science is but an abstraction from the immediate conscious experience. To consider these abstractions as the causes of that conscious experience is a self-refutation of science because the results cannot precede the methods by which the results are obtained. Knowledge, scientific or otherwise, is essentially the content of consciousness and cannot account for the existence and form of that consciousness no more that a water in a glass can be the cause of the glass itself. I must add that here by consciousness I mean something broader that the particular human consciousness because our humanity, our mind and consciousness, our existence, etc. are things of which we are aware, and hence they too belong in the content of a more general, universal consciousness who has no personal subject; it is rather subject-less consciousness, or if you like its pure subject is The Absolute, or God. Anything of which we are aware of is always already inside consciousness: We are constantly aware of ourselves surrounded by an external world; thus, we and world with its quality of being give as something outside me are all contents of consciousness. In other words, there is nothing outside consciousness, even the idea of outside-consciousness itself being something inside consciousness.

The problem of course is not with science as such. It is the wrongful role and status that we have assigned to it. We must understand that modern science with its picture of the universe is nothing but an abstraction, however a very practical and beneficial abstraction that can in many ways improve our lives. But this science and its objects have nothing to do with the Reality in itself, reality as it first shows up in our immediate conscious experience, the reality that contains science only as one of its possibilities, a human tradition at best. Science itself is something experienced; it may explain other objects of experience but it cannot explain itself and its own origin and possibility. Modern science as one among the many other human achievements can never understand its own master, the human person, for it is itself produced and conditioned by that person. Therefore, psychology is bullshit.

Good night.

Quantum Field Enigma I

In a previous post titled What is Quantum Physics I introduced the subject and its principles: Quantum Physics, or Quantum Mechanics, is the theory that explains the motion of microscopic objects such as molecules, atoms, nuclei, and all the elementary particles of nature. This is the story of its creation: Before the beginning of the twentieth century physicists were able to discover almost all the laws that governed the observable phenomena at the macroscopic level. These laws, expressed in mathematical form, explained the two main realms of nature: 1) The motion of masses and the gravitational force that is exchanged between them. 2) The behavior of charged particles and the electromagnetic forces exchanged between these charges.

The first set of laws governing gravity and dynamics of masses is known as Classical Mechanics explained by Newton’s Laws of Motion. The second set of laws governing electricity and magnetism is known as Electromagnetism obeying Maxwell’s Equations. All natural phenomena such as heat, waves, etc. could be understood within these two theoretical frameworks. These two frameworks along with Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, which deals with objects moving with high velocities, are together known as Classical Physics. The important point is that in classical physics we are dealing with two distinct types of objects whose collective behaviors determines natural phenomena: Waves and particles. Sound and light are examples of wave phenomena; masses and point-charges are examples of particle phenomena.

As a result of technological advancements of late 19th and early 20th centuries experimental chemists and physicists were able to probe into the microscopic world of molecules and atoms. Scientists expected to find particles obeying Newton’s laws of motion; however, it turned out they were wrong, and in fact they saw that the concepts of classical physics were hopelessly inadequate in capturing the reality of the microscopic world. Let me give you just one example: Experimental findings gave a model of an atom, which is neutral, consisting of a very heavy, positively charged, nucleus concentrated in a very small region of space, within a length of about 10-14 meters. The negatively charged electrons rotate around this nucleus, hence keeping the whole atom neutral (This model is similar to our solar system though we will see that the underlying reality is totally different.) However, this kind of motion for electrons violates the most important tenet of electromagnetism: According to electromagnetism an accelerating charged particle, such as electron, radiates energy in the form of light, hence it keeps losing its energy as long as it is in accelerating motion. We also know from classical mechanics that rotation is an accelerating motion. This means that electrons rotating around the nucleus should radiate light and hence lose their energy until they fall onto the nucleus. But experiments have shown that nothing of the sort happens. Atoms, at least most of them, are stable structures; their electrons revolve the nucleus without radiating light; these electrons emit, or absorb, light only when they jump from one orbit to another orbit, and these orbits are not arbitrary; electrons can only occupy certain allowed orbits with discrete energies. Also, their jumps between orbits are not jumps through space; when an electron jumps from, say, orbit 2 with energy 20 to orbit 1 with energy 10 it does not fly through the space in between orbits; neither does it incrementally decrease its energy from 20 to 10 passing through 19, 18, …. This energy loss is radiated away in the form of electromagnetic radiation, photon. Electron’s jump is instantaneous and doesn’t take any time whatsoever: The electron is in one orbit and then suddenly shows up in another orbit. This inexplicable kind of jump is known as electronic transition or Quantum Jump. This example was one among the many experimental findings that needed a new physics in order to make sense.

Quantum Mechanics which was developed between 1900 to 1927 by the collaboration many physicists is the theory that explains the motion of microscopic objects. In other words, quantum theory was developed as a mathematical tool to make sense of and organize the strange experimental findings in the first decades of twentieth century. Double Slit Experiment is the cornerstone of quantum phenomena and it contains almost all the bizarre features of the quantum world. Quantum Mechanics is considered to be the most successful intellectual achievement of mankind since it has been able to explain all microscopic phenomena, and it is also the most experimentally verified theory in the history of science.

According to quantum theory the basic constituents of nature are neither wave nor particle. However, depending on the measuring instrument they can manifest either as wave or as a particle but not both at once, see The Complementarity Principle. Prior to the act of measurement the quantum system (particle is a misnomer but we have no better word) is neither a wave nor a particle, and it is also nothing else: It has no characteristics, no form and no properties, no position and no velocity in space. In fact, it is not a thing or entity anymore; it is a no-thing, a no-entity. Nothing can be said about it except saying that if we perform such and such a measurement on this no-thing there is such and such a probability to get such and such a numerical value for what is being measured. This bizarre feature of quantum phenomena is called stochastic behavior, that is the microscopic world is inherently indeterminate, see The Uncertainty Principle.

This indeterminacy is a matter of principle and not of the our ignorance nor of the inefficiency of our equipment. It is not that we don’t know the position of the “particle” in space; the particle has no position, or any dynamical property for that matter, prior to the act of measurement; the measurement process creates the very position that is to be measured. This means that the quantum world and the quantum objects cannot be thought or imagined in any possible way. Even the much used statement that “in quantum world a particle is in many places at once” is a false way of putting it because in the quantum world there is no such thing as particle; it is meaningless to speak of here and there, let alone of everywhere. Place has no place in the quantum realm.

The objection may rise, as it did for myself for quite a while, that this lack of knowledge about the nature of quantum objects is a lack on our part; perhaps the particle itself contains all this missing information but it is us who cannot access it, whether due to our state of knowledge at the present time or because nature somehow doesn’t like us to have that information!

But that is not true, for if it were our everyday world would not look like what it does. It is proven and experimentally verified that the quantum “particle” could not possibly have a position prior to measurement; if it did, whether we know that information or not, then we would not observe phenomena such as waves, colors of a soap bubble, etc. These phenomena can occur and be observed if and only if the underlying constituents do not have inherent properties such as a determinate positions or velocities. In other words, the missing information about the exact properties of quantum objects is not missing at all; it does not, and cannot, exist or else we would not be seeing what we are seeing right here right now. In other words, our observation of the form of appearances is possible only if that which appears is itself formless: Form is formlessness conditioned and partitioned. The set of experiments that have consistently proven this results are known as Bell Experiments and the theory that underlie them is known as Bell’s Theorem.

In the microscopic world what determines the place and status of quantum objects is the act of observation. To avoid mystical mis-interpretations I must add that observation here is not meant seeing with eyes or anything like that, anything depending on the consciousness of the experimenter. Observation in quantum mechanics refers to a complex process in which a macroscopic machine interacts with a microscopic object. Whether or not our consciousness is there in the room, whether or not we read the display of the machine that contains the result of measurement, it is always the internal mechanism of the instrument that by itself determines the state of quantum system and the possible outcome of the measurement. Human consciousness does not create reality, for it is itself already part of a created reality.

In future posts I will continue this subject and introduce you to Quantum Field Theory, QFT for short, in which the quantum world is no more seen as a collection of isolated particles and waves but as a field spread in space-time. In QFT particles are in fact the vibrations of the field. Quantum Field Theory was created by combining Quantum Theory and Einstein’s Theory of Special Relativity.

Diving in God

We run away from that which fills us toward that which drains us; we run away from God which is the source of consciousness and seek objects which consume our consciousness. All our pain and suffering comes from lack of consciousness, from losing ourselves to the objects of desire. Let go of these world objects and dive into God; everything you lose you will again in Him. Ask of God not what you want but what you need; pray Him to grant you more consciousness and He will give Himself to you.

Lose yourself to Him and you will become the universe.

We Are a Black-hole

There is this thing called the information paradox in black-holes. The idea is this: From conservation laws we know that information can never be lost, created or destroyed; it may only be transformed or moved around. This is of course an alternative way of presenting the energy conservation law. But when it comes to black-holes this laws seems to be violated: Black-holes are by definition structures that suck in information in such a way that we cannot retrieve it. Once information passes the event horizon of a black-hole it cannot be accessed at all, for nothing escapes the event horizon, even light, hence the name black-hole.

Scientists have been trying to figure out what happens to the information that falls into a black-hole. If we say that information is destroyed, then the conservation laws are violated. If we say that it is not destroyed, then what happens to that information?!

Here was my morning fantasy: The information which is falling into the black-hole is converted into consciousness. After all, information is really meaningless without a consciousness that can be informed. Thus, the information is not lost; instead, it produces conscious experience. In other words, black-holes are conscious; they perceive the universe since the light from all over the place is falling into them. But of course since our modern science doesn’t recognize consciousness as an independent reality as it cannot be measured with a stick, naturally scientists call it a paradox.

A little more of reflection on our own consciousness shows that we experience the world around us as if we were at the center absorbing the light reaching us from all over the universe, hence producing this world-experience that we have. We perceive the world as something extended beyond us into infinity, and this is precisely how a black-hole would experience the light falling into it. The idea is that we are a black-hole who happens to have a human experience. This cosmos is that experience. There is only one black-hole, a singularity, that has come to believe it exploded in a big bang, but that too is just an experience. The singularity that we are never exploded. We have not yet happened. In reality nothing is ever happening.

But now enough with the fantasy.

I must add, considering the internal dynamics of a black-hole, the gravitation tension and torsion, and the stretched space-time in it, for a person who is standing at the singularity it will appear to him/her that everything is accelerating away from him. He/she will experience a rapid expansion of the universe around him which is really nothing but the light that falls into the black-hole. This expansion is experienced from inside the black-hole whether or not the outside universe is actually expanding! Now, this is not fantasy, and yet we believe our universe is expanding.

The Parable of The Naked Man

(The image is the famous Hubble Ultra-Deep Field.)

We often demand miracles as proofs for the transcendental origin of the world; but in demanding so we are blind to the miracle in the fact of being and the act of demanding. Our mundane preoccupations eclipse the sense of wonder inherent in each moment and its content; and we take for granted the strangest of all things, that the world is.

We take the scientific descriptions as causal explanations, as if science really explained the why of being and becoming! We look for miracles inside the world but fail to see that the very being of the world is itself the most obvious miracle, the ground of all miracles.

The miracle of Being is something beyond the scope of all rational inquiry, for reason itself must first be before it can know, and hence itself remains always a mystery.

The parable of the naked man: “God is With You”

Once upon a time a skeptic scholar surrounded by his pupils bumped into a naked man dancing and singing the names of God. They asked him, “What is wrong with you?”

The naked man said, “God is with me.”

The scholar mockingly said “If God is with you, then why don’t you perform a miracle for us!”

The naked man replied, “Yes sirs, I shall perform a miracle for you.” Pointing to a stone farther away he said, “You see that stone over there! I can move it from here.”

The scholar and his students became curious and demanded the naked man to do as he had claimed.

The naked man walked to the stone, moved it around, and came back to where he was standing and said, “Done.”

The crowd laughed at him; the scholar said “That was not a miracle you fool; you were supposed to move it from here but you walked there.”

The naked man said, “Exactly sir, I walked there, and that is the miracle. From here I can move a bigger thing called the body and with it I can move everything else. I will and it moves. If you cannot see the miracle in that, then you are the performer of a bigger miracle: You can doubt the self-evident and deny the most obvious; even I can’t do that. Indeed God is with you too,” said the naked man and continued dancing and singing.

[Note: I like to add this point about the Hubble Ultra-Deep Field which shows billions of galaxies spread out in boundless space: I have heard people say that this image makes them feel so insignificant. But we must understand that if we feel insignificant it is because we can feel the significance of the image and the infinite greatness implied in it. The image is just a small piece of paper. Both the greatness and the littleness that we experience come from within ourselves, hence preexisting all creation. This is how the macrocosm is reflected in the microcosm transcendentally and primordially.]

What is Quantum Physics

There is no field in modern science that is misunderstood or misinterpreted more than any other. Two reasons should be mentioned: First, quantum physics deals with the microscopic world, atoms and subatomic particles; it is a world inaccessible to our direct perceptions, to human experience as such. And as much as we like to but our logic and commonsense which are derived from shared human experiences cannot be extended to the realm of atomic phenomena. Even the physicist cannot imagine what an atom looks like. The second reason that has led to much misinterpretation is the desperation of modern man to find meaning, excitement, mystery and surreal phenomena to compensate for the lack of essence in his/her life. Thus, the field is open to people like Deepak Chopra who are the kind to take advantage of the mystery and stick exotic words such as quantum next to whatever it is they sell so to make it sound both cool and healing. But if we are really after knowing the mystery, then wouldn’t we be fooling ourselves if we sufficed to superficial interpretations or one night stands with what may be a glimpse of an ultimate reality!

Of quantum mechanics (or quantum physics) it is said “Quantum physics is not something to understand; it is something to do.” Physicists do quantum mechanics all the time; in fact, almost all electronic equipment owe their lives to the quantum physics done by physicists; doing it involves solving equations and calculating probabilities; but this doesn’t entail a deep understanding of the meaning of these equations. Rarely can physicists say that they have truly understood quantum physics. We may even define quantum physics as the subject that when we think we have understood it we suddenly realize we haven’t. This is not because we are stupid or quantum physics is too hard; both are true to some extent, but the problem has to do with what it is that we call understanding.

To understand is to reduce something new to something that we already understand, and to do so until we arrive at simple, elementary facts that are self-evident from experience. But if the subject matter is one which is altogether alien to experience as such, then understanding, in the sense we know it, is not possible. In light of an understanding of understanding we can say that quantum physics is only understood in terms of abstract mathematics; the only elementary concepts to which the object of the quantum world can be reduced are abstract mathematical objects. But I have developed a new way of introducing quantum physics which involves reflections on why we cannot understand it. In short, we can indirectly understand the quantum world by understanding what it is not rather than what it is. Now let us try.

Physics is an attempt at understanding the natural order. It used to be part of what is known as natural philosophy. The natural order, the object of inquiry, is the world that know through experience. In this experience we encounter different kinds of phenomena: Some are mechanical; they have to do with motion of massive objects, like projectiles, motion of the stars and planets. Some are electromagnetic in nature, like light, electricity, magnets, etc. Some others are thermodynamic in nature, dealing with phenomena such as heat and cold and transfer of energy. Three main sub-fields of physics were developed to study these phenomena: Mechanics, Electromagnetism, and Thermodynamics.

As experimental technologies advanced scientists focused on the study of the origin of phenomena such as electricity, magnetism, and heat. The guiding idea here, and in all of modern science, was that the behavior of the whole is exclusively determined by the behavior of the parts. This is the assumption behind all modern sciences, the assumption that broke in quantum physics. Thus, physicists started studying the smaller constituents of the macroscopic phenomena. Eventually they arrived at elementary particles such as electrons and photons, but they noticed that in the new realm of microscopic phenomena things are very strange. Our everyday logic does not hold anymore. Below I mention a few of the new mysteries.

1. Particles of matter which were expected to be point-like stuff confined in space strangely appear to be in many places at once.

2. It turned out that material particles can sometime behave as point-like particles and sometimes as waves spread in space, depending on where we put them.

3. Wave phenomena, such as light, can sometimes behave as point-like material particles.

4. Particles seem to know a way of communication that transcends space and time.

5. It is possible to have two distinct particles each at opposite ends of our universe that are intrinsically correlated in their behavior. No matter how far apart we put them they still remain, and behave as, one whole system and not two separate things.

6. When we are not looking at a quantum object it behaves totally different from when we are looking at it (notice that to see something really means to bounce light off of it and see the reflected light.)

7. It appears that observation is not a passive position; it is an active and creative act. By observing a quantum phenomena we actually make it happen. Thus, it is in principle impossible to speak of nature in the absence of observation.

8) The quantum realm is a realm of interconnectedness. There is are only wholes and not parts. There is a deep unity that even the strongest technologies cannot break. Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, the cornerstone of quantum mechanics, is a mathematical expression of this indestructible unity.

Double Slit Experiment is one the most famous experiments that exposes the strangest features, and hence the deepest principles, of the quantum world.

Werner Heisenberg, the first founder of quantum mechanics, then known as Matrix Mechanics, says in his Physics and Philosophy “What we observe as nature is not nature herself but nature as exposed to our methods of inquiry.” This idea is the juice of quantum physics. Let me encrypt this saying into a more philosophical and concise proposition: The object and the knowledge of object are one and the same

I mentioned a few of the strange features of the quantum world but it becomes even stranger than that. In my book Nondual Perspective on Quantum Physics I have explained these features in detail but I will mention some metaphysical implications of it here. It has to do with understanding our commonsense:

Look at a glass of water in front of you. The glass has a distance from you; it has a certain speed (hopefully zero.) It has an apparent size and shape that changes as you move relative to the glass. Though we may view the glass from an infinite number of perspectives, we know that it is one and the same glass. According to our commonsense our perspective changes but the glass does not.

But we have more assumptions: We assume that the glass has an independent shape and size, specific position in space and place in time irrespective of our presence. On the other hand, we know that the color and the lighting by which we see the glass is not a property of the glass itself. Color is understood to be a moment of subjective experience; in reality there are only wavelengths and frequencies which represent different energies; it is our brain that translates these different energies into different colors. In other words, there are certain properties that we attribute to the glass itself and certain others that we attribute to our perceptions. This reflection is crucial in understanding quantum mechanics.

We may speak of primary and secondary qualities: Primary qualities are those that belong (according to our commonsense) to the object itself; they are always present in the object whether we are present or not, whether we experience them or not. Examples are actual shape and size, position and velocity, etc. Secondary qualities are those that arise only when the object is being experienced by a subject; they arise in the subject but only in the presence of the object and only insofar as the object is present. Examples are apparent shape and size, color and shade, etc. For instance, notice that color is not in the glass itself; color of the glass is something that happens during seeing of the glass.To be more precise, the secondary qualities belong to the overlap of object and experience: I won’t see the green glass if I do not look at the green glass and I see it only as long as I am looking at it. 

Having a clear sense of the distinction between the two qualities we can now define the whole of the quantum realm as a realm where some primary qualities are pushed over into the of secondary qualities. If our commonsense breaks in the face of quantum phenomena it is because what we had previously taken to be the primary qualities of natural objects turn out to be their secondary qualities!

Abstract science background electromagnetic radioactive core

To take this understanding to the quantum realm we first have to got back to the glass: One of the most important primary qualities of a glass that was always taken for granted is its state of motion. We know from commonsense that the glass has a fixed position and speed in space and at each moment of time. Even when we not present with the glass we never doubt that it is somewhere, that it has a position in space and a velocity; this is because we take the state of motion to be the primary quality of objects. Consciousness of place is most fundamental to our commonsense and understanding: Everything has a place whether we know of it or not, at least we think. We attribute our lack of knowledge about the place, or position, of an object to our ignorance rather than the object itself. Try to imagine an object that has no place! I do not mean an object that is constantly moving, but an object that has no place at all, whether in real space or imagined space. It is impossible. We cannot imagine or conceive of objects without imagining them in their primary qualities though we may do so dispensing with their secondary qualities.

The fundamental paradigm shift in the case of quantum physics is that the state of motion of a particle which was previously assumed to be a primary quality turns out to be a secondary quality, a property present in the observation rather than in the object itself. The place and the velocity of elementary particles are unknown prior to observation, not because we do not know them, but because they do not have properties such as position and velocity. To speak of the position or velocity of a particle in the absence of observation is like to speak of circular triangle.

When we measure the position of an electron and get a numerical value we do not see the electron hiding somewhere; instead, the very process of measurement forces the electron to take a position in space. In other words, measurement of position creates the measured position. Prior to measurement the electron is described as being present everywhere at once, but the act of measurements makes the electron to instantaneously collapse into a point in space. This instantaneous, atemporal, collapse is known as the collapse of the wave function.

See that we cannot imagine what happens during the measurement process because we cannot imagine the quantum objects under investigation. As I mentioned above, in order to imagine something there must be something that we imagine; but now that all the imaginable properties of quantum objects have turned out to be only secondary properties, properties that do not preexist the observation, then in the absence of observation there is nothing to imagine.

An analogy may help: If I compare the faculty of imagination with the our hands, then trying to imagine the quantum world is like using our hands to listen to music. Sound is not a tactile object; it is something heard and not touched. Thus, no amount of moving or stretching our hands will help us hear a sound. Instead, we must listen. In the same way the quantum realm lies forever beyond imagination because the objects and processes of this realm have more intrinsic properties through which they can be imagined or grasped.

Now I must add that quantum physics is the most experimentally verified scientific theory in the whole history of civilization. It is as solid as it can get, and its best proof is the myriad of tools and devices that we use today on a daily basis, all of which were born out of the findings of quantum physics: Transistors which exist in all electronics, GPS, microwave, your car, cellphone, TV, computer and internet, etc.

There are more details about the mysteries of quantum physics, its philosophical implications, and its astonishing similarities to the world described my mystics. In my book Nondual Perspectives on Quantum Physics I have first introduced the strange features of the quantum world in a non-technical language and then compared it to philosophical and mystical traditions of the East and the West such as Advaita Vedanta Metaphysics and Transcendental Phenomenology. The conclusion is that physics and metaphysics, physicists and mystics, one through discursive thought and the other through direct intuition, have both described a world that appears to be one and the same, and this similarity is more than ever present in our time.

Glowing blue synapses in space

The world of the mystic speaks of One, a nondual ground from which all diversities arise. The world of the physicist is a world fundamentally interconnected and whose fluctuations appears as the multitude of phenomena. The Nondual Perspectives on Quantum Physics finds and recounts the one conclusion at the heart of modern physics and traditional metaphysics:

The manifest arises from the vibrations of the unmanifest

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00N5DL1R0/

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