Quantum Physics as a Spiritual Path
By Paul Levy
Article reprinted from: ww.ScienceAndNonduality.com
In this excerpt from The Quantum Revelation: A Radical Synthesis of Science and Spirituality, author Paul Levy proposes something radically new: quantum physics as a spiritual path. The universe is dreaming us up and we are all dreaming our lives into being. When we realize this phenomenal nature of reality, we can tune into the field of unlimited creative potential always available to us. The book, which Jean Houston says is one of the most important she has ever read, is a rare dive down the quantum rabbit hole and an exciting exploration of what is possible when science and nonduality intimately meet.
“I wonder if I am becoming addicted; I can’t get enough of quantum physics, which has captured─and simultaneously liberated─my imagination beyond belief. My appetite for what it is revealing feels insatiable. The more I study it, the more I feel as if I am mutating, metamorphosizing, becoming quantum-physicized into a higher state of coherence in my very soul. Words fail me when I try to describe the realm of pure and utter magic that is quantum theory. Unlike a typical addiction─wherein energy gets drained─the more that I enter(tain) the world of quantum physics, the more creative energy makes itself available to me. I feel convinced that what it is revealing to us is of crucial importance for the future of humanity.
Science is the wisdom tradition par excellence of our modern age. Quantum physics, its crowning jewel, can be likened to a genuine spiritual path in that its study becomes a “royal road” beyond both physics and the physical dimension into the realm of meta-physics. Quantum physics’s return to metaphysics was inevitable, for physics began with the gnostic search for what Einstein calls the “Old One” behind all phenomena. To mainstream physics, however, the word “metaphysics” is now akin to a swear-word, a synonym for “loose thinking,” a code-word for unscientific thought. In modern physics as it is commonly practiced today, being “metaphysical” is used as a derogatory euphemism for condemning a theory which doesn’t fit into the common, agreed-upon consensus framework. It is as if the perspective of contemporary conventional physics wants to “purify” its discipline from the stain of metaphysics. Mainstream physics claims it is not interested in metaphysics, asserting that it makes no metaphysical assumptions, as it is only interested in seeing reality as it is. Yet, hidden within this very viewpoint is, paradoxically, a tacit form of metaphysics. This metaphysics lies in the unexamined assumptions implicit in the perspective that physics makes about the nature of reality, assumptions so implicit as to be not even recognized as assumptions. The spirit of quantum physics, however, challenges the underlying and unexamined metaphysical assumptions of mainstream physics, at the same time providing the doorway for a radical new form of metaphysics to emerge.
Metaphysical considerations are unavoidable if we are truly interested in comprehensive knowledge of the whole and not merely in practical, material concerns. Metaphysics, according to its most common modern definition, has to do with a transcendent realm “beyond” what is perceptible to the senses, which is precisely what quantum physics points towards. The term is related to “mysticism,” which is based on the word “mystery,” implying something hidden. Physicists and metaphysicians are both in the business of wondering about the universe. Contrary to the pejorative associations that the word mysticism has within the modern scientific community, the genuine mystical path is closely akin to the path of science in that mystics accept only that which is revealed through direct, immediate experience. The word “experiment” is etymologically derived from the word “experience.” Mystics are those who experiment with their experience and are therefore empiricists, drawing conclusions in a way that is in the true spirit of science. The discoveries of quantum physics make the insights which were once considered mystical “transparent,” readily available for all of us to see the world through its liberating perspective. We ourselves are an essential part of the mystery that is being unveiled through quantum physics. To the extent that we are interested in truth, or the nature of reality, or God, or who we are, we are all metaphysicians. Quantum physics is hinting at something beyond what we normally think of as physics, reaching beyond even what we consider the physical world. Quantum physics is pointing at the very thing that it itself─and in fact the whole universe─is an expression of.
In my recent article Quantum Physics: The Physics of Dreaming, I continually evoke the genius of physicist John Wheeler, who is widely considered one of the greatest scientists of the twentieth century. A lover of wisdom, Wheeler did work in quantum physics that reached beyond the formalism of physics into the realm of metaphysics in its original philosophical sense. Quantum physics is the most successful scientific theory─as far as its capacity to make accurate theoretical predictions that precisely match with experimental data─of all time; there aren’t even any competitors. The majority of corporately trained and funded physicists are content to take their theory for granted, however, just using it for practical ends, rather than being curious about where it came from and what it indicates about the nature of reality. Thankfully, physicists such as Wheeler are interested in the deeper philosophical meanings and implications of their mysterious theory. Commenting on quantum theory, Wheeler says, “It’s a sausage grinder. We drop our problems in, and turn the crank, and get out the answers. Where did the sausage grinder come from?” It is as if a miraculous object bestowing earth-shaking knowledge has fallen from the heavens, helping us to develop undreamed-of technologies; but no one really knows why it works, what it means or, ultimately, what it is revealing to us. Wheeler is not just interested in the practical aspects of solving equations, making predictions, developing engineering applications and building technologies, but is willing and impelled to contemplate the big questions, such as why is our universe a quantum universe in the first place? He asks, “Why is the quantum there? If you were the Lord, building the universe, what would convince you we couldn’t make a go of it without the quantum?”
The shadow side of “science as a modern-day wisdom tradition” is that it can, and often does take on the qualities of a religion, with all of its taboos and heresies that violate the open-minded spirit of the scientific method. The tenets of science, which can easily resemble a disguised form of religious dogma, call for its adherents’ intellectual and emotional allegiance in a way that borders on the irrational. People who have been indoctrinated into the dictates of this scientific creed, as if hypnotized or under a spell, can find it difficult or even impossible to imagine that the world can be anything other than the way they have been taught that it is, as if no other way of thinking or knowing about things has ever occurred to them. The still-dominant attitude of “scientific materialism”─with its hidden metaphysical belief in an objectively existing world─has erroneously excluded the subjectively experienced mind from the domain of the natural world to the point that “scientific knowledge” has come to be equated with “objective knowledge.” And yet, quantum physics has proven there’s no objective anything. Writer Octavio Paz wonders, “Perhaps tomorrow’s metaphysics, should man feel a need to think metaphysically, will begin as a critique of science, just as in classical antiquity it began as a critique of the gods.”
Sometimes the greatest breakthroughs in science happen because someone has the courage to recognize and speak out loud what others have turned a blind eye towards. The ever-emerging discoveries of quantum physics are thirsting for the next generation of daring thinkers to further unfold its deeper meaning. For daring and gallantry are needed in science, as in battle.”
Paul Levy, a pioneer in the field of spiritual emergence, is a wounded healer in private practice, assisting others who are also awakening to the dreamlike nature of reality. He is the author of Awakened by Darkness: When Evil Becomes Your Father (Awaken in the Dream Publishing, 2015), Dispelling Wetiko: Breaking the Curse of Evil (North Atlantic Books, 2013), The Madness of George W. Bush: A Reflection of Our Collective Psychosis (Authorhouse, 2006), and The Quantum Revelation: A Modern-Day Spiritual Treasure (soon to be published). He is the founder of the “Awakening in the Dream Community” in Portland, Oregon. An artist, he is deeply steeped in the work of C. G. Jung, and has been a Tibetan Buddhist practitioner for over thirty years. He is the coordinator for the Portland PadmaSambhava Buddhist Center. Please visit Paul’s website www.awakeninthedream.com.