QUANTUM ENIGMA would be NO ENIGMA to GREAT MYSTICS—Just Part of the Cosmic Dance of Consciousness

I finished reading Quantum Enigma: Physics Encounters Consciousness, by Bruce Rosenblum and Fred Kuttner. They did a great job, I think, admirably doing what they set out to do. The book is inspired, informative, courageous, and accessible to the lay person (moi). Their punch is measured but not pulled, and I appreciate their dilemma, let alone the enigma.

I know I’m seeing Quantum Theory through my own lens, but I can’t tell you how much it resonates with Eastern thought (Vedic—Hindu Metaphysics—in particular, with flashes of Buddhist mind (manas) stuff as well).

A few final (of many) great moments. From page 155:

Quantum mechanics forces us to accept that the Mechanistic Newtonian view of the world [and thus could you not throw in the genius of Darwin's view, also?]—and the intuitions fostered by it—are fundamentally flawed

[I]t is also fascinating to explore what Nature seems to be telling us.

As [Physicist] John Bell [of Bell’s Theorem] says:

Is it not good to know what follows from what, even if it is not necessarily FAPP ["for all practical purposes"]?

By FAPP, they mean scientists being able to do quantum physics while ignoring the virtually undeniable confrontation of Quantum Theory and consciousness.

Bell goes on:

Suppose for example that quantum mechanics were found to resist precise formulation. Suppose that when formulation beyond FAPP is attempted, we find an unmovable finger obstinately pointing outside the subject, to the mind of the observer, to the Hindu scriptures, to God, or even only Gravitation [some paths in the Vedas would say Gravitation has consciousness, has beingness]? Would that not be very, very interesting?

Scientists with the courage to say such things are so inspiring.

And this monster from Niels Bohr:

[T]he apparent contrast between the continuous onward flow of associative thinking and the preservation of the unity of the personality exhibits a suggestive analogy with the relation between the wave description of the motions of material particles, governed by the superposition principle [let's say in infinite places at the same time], and their indestructible individuality.

It is as if, with observation, we ‘collapse’ to individuality. Before that, we are infinite possibilities. And in fact, even as individuals we are infinite possibilities (don’t get me wrong, I have no idea what this means, either).

The Bengali 15th century Vaishnava mystic Caitanya (Shay-tanya) said this: “We are inconceivably, simultaneously, one [with everything, the Supreme] and different [distinctly individual].”

Rosenblum and Kuttner repeat over and over and unabashedly that (pg 201):

“…if you take quantum theory seriously beyond practical purposes, it has baffling implications. It tells us that physics’ encounter with consciousness, demonstrated for the small, applies to everything. And that “everything’ can include the entire universe.

Copernicus dethroned humanity from the cosmic center. Does quantum theory suggest that, in some mysterious sense, we are a cosmic center?”

They finish the book with, in my opinion, just the right, beautiful emotion (at least for me!).

Most physicists will dismiss the creation of reality by observation as having no significance beyond the limited domain of the physics of microscopic entities. Others will argue that nature is telling us something, and we should listen.

Our own feelings accord with Schrodinger’s:

“The urge to find a way out of this impasse ought not to be dampened by the fear of incurring the wise rationalist’s mockery.”

Man, I love that. I’ll keep that in my heart, Dr Dawkins—whose greatness is not denied.

When experts disagree, you may choose your expert. Since the quantum enigma arises in the simplest quantum experiment, its essence can be fully comprehended with little technical background. Nonexperts can therefore come to their own conclusions. We hope yours, like ours, are tentative.

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

—Shakespeare, Hamlet

I loved this stuff, this book—and their honesty and intellectual courage. And I love to be in awe—as the “real” world spins crazily into a black hole bail-out—at the wonder and mystery of it all, love, consciousness, me, you, us.

Time for dream sleep. Lots of love,

Pete xox


3 Responses to “QUANTUM ENIGMA would be NO ENIGMA to GREAT MYSTICS—Just Part of the Cosmic Dance of Consciousness”

  1. [...] Quantum Theory, and the still unclear position of consciousness; the wild yet important idea that an ‘observer’ may be necessary to make something actually exist. That is indeed spooky, but remains a result of much experimentation in the [...]

  2. Curious but Baffled says:

    I wish there were a way to explain quantum theory and why an observer may be needed, for someone who’s got NO science or maths worth mentioning. Given the complexity of the subject, I doubt it’s possible, and that’s frustrating. I tried readng “God Is Not Dead” by Amit Goswami a couple of years ago, and for all it’s supposed to be for the lay reader, it simply wasn’t, at least for this one; I was floundering a few chapters in. History and English are my fields, not maths or science – I dropped those subjects as soon as I was able, and that was more than thirty years ago! It’s maddening, because this field seems to be where science and spirit may come together …

  3. Dear Curious but Baffled/frenchqueen 13.

    I don’t know which name you go by, but both are great. Thanks for the honesty of the note. It’s a toughie, but the idea itself, supposedly seen in experiment, that the observer is needed, is cool if only to be brought up at a a boring party to impress somebody. I utterly agree with the challenge of trying to grasp the concept. I can’t either, but like the Buddhists say, or maybe it wasn’t a Buddhist, once you try to grasp it, you lose it. Similarly, Hegel said anything familiar is a lie, or no long understood. But all that aside, I think the great Richard Feynman said it best, and he was a GREAT scientist, paraphrasing, “If you think you understand Quantum Physics, you don’t understand Quantum physics.” We are certainly in (and are ourselves) a mystery. Congratulations! Lots of mysterious love,


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