Where does your body end? Most people would answer, “at the skin”, and probably consider the question rhetorical because, of course, everyone knows the answer to that, right? Wrong. An average sized individual’s skin contains approximately 3 trillion pores. These pores act as a two-way ventilation system for gases, liquids and particles released and absorbed by the body’s internal dynamic processes. Without them, life with its reliance on environmental interdependence or symbiosis would not be possible. All elements – water, oxygen, sunlight – are simultaneously internal and external. Ruminating on this causes the boundaries we perceive between ourselves and other phenomena to grow fuzzier and fuzzier until they finally become utterly insubstantial.
Newtonian physics and Western religion have been equally guilty in fomenting the erroneous notion of independent things and lifeforms set against a backdrop of space and propelled by energy. Oddly enough, the Chinese tradition of Taoist thought and the Indian tradition of Buddhist thought argued correctly, as it turns out, that all “things” as well as space (emptiness) are a single fluid process – and they managed to do so about 5,000 and 2,500 years, respectively, before the advent of quantum physics. Since the Western mind has been so thoroughly conditioned both by scripture and incomplete science to view the Universe as essentially a grand-scale game of billiards with the moral imperative of winning for every life form on the table, the roughly century-old discipline of quantum and theoretical physics hasn’t significantly affected our way of thinking yet, even though it has produced many technological innovations that we feel we cannot live without but whose workings the vast majority of us do not even begin to understand. Fans of Neil Degrasse Tyson and Stephen Hawking might have a better, albeit rudimentary understanding of the bizarre quantum world and its counter-intuitive activity but most of us who fall into this category only analyze these issues with better accuracy while intently watching an episode of Cosmos or re-reading A Brief History of Time (or composing annoyingly loquacious blog posts).
I don’t intend for this to be a physics essay, per se. There is a vital spiritual message to be gleaned from the strange happenings going on in the quantum world, one that has the potential to transform humanity’s consciousness in radical but enormously positive ways. What if you were to suddenly internalize the truth that what we call the Universe is actually a single unitive conscious energy field? When I say internalize, that means to go further than just intellectual acceptance. It means to feel it, to know through meditative experience that all phenomena one apprehends through the senses are extensions of ourselves and vice versa. Would the understanding that separate things and identities are nothing more than convenient contrivances engender more empathy for others? Would it not make sense to treat others with boundless compassion and kindness since they are really just extensions of yourself having a temporary and illusory individual experience just like you?
How’s this for something that really doesn’t matter: there is no such thing as matter. Down at the subatomic level, “particles” start doing very strange things. In fact, they start BEING very strange things. A subatomic particle’s position can be observed, as can its trajectory, but never at the same time. This is because these particles behave according to our observation and even expectation. Consciousness itself dictates their observed behavior. If one wishes to view a particle’s position, it will appear at a certain point in space as a definite physical particle. If one wishes to view its trajectory through space, it will appear as a wave pattern. Some physicists have dubbed these dual-natured particles “wavicles”, a clumsy term that pretty much gets to the heart of the matter while adding an aesthetically awful word to the scientific parlance. The significance to this post of the particle/wave pattern in the quantum realm is that it makes implicit the idea that everything is energy. What we call matter is nothing more than concentrated energy along a limited channel – a “knot” of energy, so to speak. When we speak of energy, we don’t usually talk about “this energy over here” and “that energy over there”, because we tend to view it as a single interconnected force. Well, even a stopped clock gives the right time twice a day and accordingly, we of the Western mindset actually managed to get that one right. What we’ve failed to realize is that energy is all that there is. What would happen if this understanding were to become an integral part of the 21st century Western zeitgeist? It’s impossible to say, really, but I can hazard a guess. As more and more people are born into a world that holds the correct view of mutual interdependence, the false ideas of separateness – of us and them – would gradually lose their influence on society. How can one truly hate another based on the old ideas of distinction – race, ethnicity, religion, gender, politics – when it is truly understood that all of these seemingly disparate organisms are all just in and of and encompassing the same exact field of energy-consciousness? To put that in monotheistic terms (which I hope will be completely unnecessary for those born into future generations), all is God. All and everyone. Our personal opinions of others do not change this. Whether I love you, hate you or just view you with indifference, you are as necessary to my existence as oxygen, as am I to yours.
If such an understanding of reality were ubiquitous, when and how would the desire for war arise? Persecution? Hatred? Inequality? Injustice? It seems to me that not only would the need or proclivity for such negative concepts abate, they would become utterly meaningless, receding into the history of humanity’s bad ideas to join the Flat Earth and Earth-centric views that dominated our earliest thought.
But would this perhaps have the side-effect of making mankind too homogeneous? I doubt it. There would still be ample room for individual creativity and innovation, probably more so in the absence of interpersonal strife. Not to mention, other than its general biology and capacity of intellect, I am certain that my dog isn’t anything like your dog. That’s why we talk about our dogs: they all have individual personalities, quirks, preferences, habits and capabilities. If they didn’t, all one would have to say about his or her pet is “dog” and everyone would know exactly what that animal is like. But if that doesn’t work in the case of canines, think how much less it’s applicable in the realm of humans. I predict that we would transform into a life form more fascinatingly cooperative and creative than anything we can currently imagine. So…why don’t we get down to business in squaring our psyches with actual reality before we as a species blow ourselves right off the fucking map, no? This strikes me as a much more vital endeavor than creating yet another version of the iPhone that absolutely no one needs.