Quantum Zen

Architects Of Light by xzendor7

Architects Of Light by xzendor7

The following story is fiction. Characters do not portray actual people, living or dead.

The Ethereal Quotient

        The conversation went this way: “I cannot tolerate intolerance!” My friend was sitting at a wrought iron chaise in her courtyard. The grounds, framed by elegant cypress trees rising high into the hazy sky, were muted by the thick balmy air of a summer afternoon.
        “I consider myself an equal,” she insisted. “I regard every person the same. Perhaps this is why I get along so fabulously well with everyone!”
        As she gestured widely with a half-filled glass, her chair scraped across the flagstones of the patio, bringing up the smell of sparks, iron friction against stone. She paused a moment, listening to the sound of the ice tinkling in the glass, then added, “But maybe it’s why I don’t get along with anyone!”
        I sat silently, sipping my drink, mulling over the paradox of ‘getting along with everyone’ and ‘not getting along with anyone’ when she veered on a completely different thought.

        “I think God is a powerful force, unleashed without warning,” she said. “And we, afraid for our existence, have created this image of a Great Father in the Sky who gives the things we need if we wait long enough. We fail to see the equivalent of a toddler cuddling stuffed tigers and bears; if a real tiger gets loose from a zoo or a circus, the child runs to it thinking, Gee, there’s a big toy! Expecting nurture, it is instead slashed to pieces.”

        You cannot ‘see God and live,’ the Western Bible tells us. Could it be the Deity is not the peaceful, benevolent confidante we approach when we pray?
        History teaches religion has not made a very good impression of itself. Most thinking educated people are aware of the atrocities committed in the name of God. The Divine Nature manifests itself repeatedly, with uncanny certainty and violence.
        Humanity has been stuck in a cycle of violence ever since we learned from our gods how to deal with the enemy. Sacred texts are instruction manuals in how to take vengeance on the godless. Once we identify the wicked, the rest is easy, just follow the models found in the holy writings of every faith.

        “The belief needed today cannot be taught,” she said, waking me from my reverie. “Once a truth has been voiced it becomes void. The religion of the heart, one’s own experience with the Great Spirit, not just the thoughts and words of the dead; this is what counts. No Bible, Koran, Bhagavad Gita or Sutra will teach what can grasped from a simple walk in the woods; not a million written letters or a thousand visits to a cathedral or shrine. We learn from the Air, the Sun, the Earth.”

The Quantum Equation

        As Science continues to dig into the basic stuff of life, we find ourselves in a worse quandary than proposed by Antonia’s spiritual angst. As scientists dissolve the glue that maintains religion’s hold on society, we realize with ever more certainty nothing really is absolute. All truth is subject to change. Even our understanding of the concept of God.
        This becomes pronounced when we peer into Quantum Mechanics. Throughout the 20th century, physicists have performed numerous experiments to unravel the secrets of the universe. Strange things happened when physicists experimented with atoms. They were caught in the intrigues of the shell game con artists play on street corners: the cup most likely to hold the bean is not where you’ll find it. But I n the Quantum world, the opposite is true. Where you expect to find the bean is where you find it. In God and the New Physics, (1983 Simon & Schuster) a book on the conflicts of belief versus modern scientific discovery, Paul Davies describes an experiment with photons, electrons and atomic particles:

“. . . the fuzzy and nebulous world of the atom only sharpens into concrete reality when an observation is made. In the absence of an observation, the atom is a ghost. It only materializes when you look for it. And you can decide what to look for. . .”

        The author then clarifies the baffling apperception of these “ghost photons” with a simile, the Hindu concept of Maya—the idea that our material world is merely an illusion:

“Considering that the quantum theory is now several decades old, it is remarkable that its stunning ideas have taken so long to percolate through to the layman. There is, however, a growing awareness that the theory contains astonishing insights into the nature of the mind and the reality of the external world, and that full account must be taken of the quantum revolution in the search of understanding God and existence. Many modern scientists are finding close parallels between the concepts used in quantum theory and those of Oriental mysticism, such as Zen. But whatever one’s religious persuasions, the quantum factor cannot be ignored.”

        In further describing the bizarre realities posed by quantum mechanics, Davies uses the example of broadcast transmissions to make his point.

“The image on a television screen is produced by myriads of light pulses emitted when electrons fired from a gun at the back of the set strike the fluorescent screen . . . the number of electrons involved is enormous, and by the law of averages, the cumulative effect of many electrons is predictable. However, any particular electron, with its inbuilt unpredictability, could go anywhere on the screen. The arrival of this electron at a place, and the fragment of picture that it produces, is uncertain . . . electrons . . . simply turn up at the target . . . [There is] no known reason why the electron should go to point x rather than some other place. The picture fragment is an event without a cause . . .” [Italics added]

        I am eerily reminded of the voice in the Kevin Costner film Field of Dreams: “If you build it they will come!” In the quantum universe, we only need to look for it and it will become.

The Zen Factor

        Years ago I used to think to live like the Ancients I had to follow the philosophies of the East and learn their disciplines. But my wife, of Chinese origin yet Christian, has a mystic quality I suspect is inherited and has nothing to do with cultural upbringing. I observe a quiet aura as she takes her tea, as if not to disturb the life-spirit of the moment; and refusing to drink from the bottom of the cup, for the last drop is sacred.
        I watch her closely, intrigued. I finish the last bite of the sesame cookie at the moment I take my last sip of tea.

the crooked picture
on the wall
never moves. . .
until a hand reaches
to touch it
(then it straightens

        In the Quantum Universe, the ghost-photons of matter match the real world, but are not there unless we look for them. In our Universe we are made of those particles, floating in an imaginary field until some random event causes us to appear. Really?
        Recalling my friend’s Highball fueled rant, I wonder.


The First Day to Tomorrow

Resting from the storm

Clouds bloomed above the housetops. The mountains on the horizon sparkled. The rain had washed everything clean and bright. The air was silent except for the chirping of birds and the occasional sound of chainsaws against a blue sky. The world was once more at peace with nature. The storm had subsided, leaving the day to begin its fresh new steps into tomorrow.

As he sat on the front porch, Johnson had a different feeling about it. To him, the dawn brought a distinct sense of the hours ahead. There was a gnawing in his stomach, a constant thrumming in his ears, like the sound of his heart beating in anticipation. An event, though still imperceptible, loomed in the air as sure as the storm that thrashed against the windows the night before.

Johnson reached into his pocket and grabbed a pack of gum. He thumbed a stick out from his pants and carefully unwrapped it. Placing it between his teeth he chewed slowly, deliberately, scratching his head as he gazed at the clouds.

I wonder, he thought, as he walked back into the house and closed the door behind him. The quiet chatter of the radio became louder as he entered the room. He had been listening to the news all morning. The newscasters had said nothing. There was the usual back and forth banter, the joking and small talk one hears every morning on the syndicated stations. Reports were made about the damage to buildings in the area, branches blocking roads and even the big tree in the Village Square that had been toppled by the winds, but nothing else.

Still, Johnson could feel it lingering. He’d had a premonition. And in his life, he had never before this day, had a premonition.

The First Day to Tomorrow

Suburban Sandals

Driving through neighborhood streets, Johnson saw children exploring the havoc left by the heavy rains. Lifting clumps of leaves that had fallen into the gutters, strewn everywhere across the lawns, the debris left by the storm now served as entertainment.

Where is the caution in these people, he thought? Don’t they get it? Am I the only one who does?

Everywhere, people where enjoying the beautiful sunny day, cleaning up after the storm. Wearing shorts and sandals, for God’s sake!

Where were the combat boots, the camouflage fatigues, the readiness gear? Has the world lost it’s mind?

He tooled the sedan along D Street until he reached the intersection at Main. An officer was directing traffic. Ah, ha, thought Johnson! It seems someone is on their toes. The police are not usually this present. They hang around the diner drinking coffee. Sometimes you see them parked at the edge of town, lurking, waiting to catch out-of-town speeders. Huh! Yes, there is something in the cards, I can feel it!

Parking in front of the Best Buy Hardware store, he got out and stood at the sidewalk, taking in the scene. In front of the hardware store they had put rakes and wheelbarrows on display. Just inside the door were the more expensive items, the chainsaws and cutting shears. Further back near the counter were the work gloves. Everything was readied for the rush of customers Mr. Reeves knew for sure would be coming in. A sign had even been freshly painted with a white soap marker on the window: Open Early!

How absurd, thought Johnson. This was nothing. Wait until tomorrow.

Down the street, Al’s Groceries had fresh apples displayed in front of his shop. Bananas hung from a metal pole next to a crate of tomatoes on a wooden table. Johnson watched as people wandered in and out of the store, shopping like there was not a care.

The barber shop, too, seemed to have customers. Getting a haircut at a time like this, thought Johnson, with time and space itself hanging in the balance?

The Orpheum Theatre even advertised the afternoon matinee on its marquee: War of the Worlds. How appropriate, thought Johnson.

The First Day to Tomorrow

The First Day

The dust started to settle as Johnson picked himself up from the pavement. The wheels of the car spun helplessly in the air. Shattered glass from the windshield poured from the folds of his shirt like sand. The blood from his forehead mixed with the glass causing it to glisten pink in the rays of the sun.

What the… thought Johnson. Where the hell did that come from?

In the sky a gray dust mingled with the clouds. It whirled into the upper levels of the atmosphere, shimmering like silvery insects rising on the currents of a hot day.

As he brushed the dust and bits of glass from his clothes, he walked to the car and picked his hat up from the dirt. He slapped the grit from the brim of the hat against his thigh and surveyed the damage.

Hopeless, he thought. The front wheels were still spinning, slowly running out of inertia. The car was a wreck. Johnson limped towards a house that stood in a cluster of trees on the empty street.

“Hello!” he called out. He reached the front steps and started lifting his leg, painfully, onto the porch. The barrel of a rifle stuck out from the partially opened front door.

“Just keep movin’, no visitors allowed.” The voice sounded frail, fearful.

Johnson stepped back. “Whoa! I’m just seeing that everyone’s OK. Are you alright in there?” His voice showed empathy, a sincere concern for the person behind the door. It started to open slowly.

“We’re fine,” the small voice said. Johnson was able to get a good look at the figure standing with the gun he had presumed was held at the hip. He now saw it was aimed from the shoulder. The boy could not have been much older than ten.

“Put that down,” said Johnson, “before you hurt someone.”

The barrel of the gun lowered slightly, uncertainly, then dropped without warning out of the boy’s hand as he went running into the house, crying.

“Leave me alone, mister. Leave me alone!” He rubbed a fist into his face and crawled into a corner, trying to hide.

“Look here, little fellow… ” Johnson’s voice was calm but stern. “I’m not going to hurt you. Where are you folks?”

“That cloud… that cloud…” The boy started to scream. It was an ungodly, stomach wrenching wail unlike anything Johnson had ever heard before.

He knew that when the cloud had appeared, it was a terrifying event. The sound alone was beyond comprehension, but the tornado-like wind it brought with it was devastating. His car had been thrown up into the air and landed a tangled mess, yet all around houses had been left standing.

He walked over to a shattered window and peered out from the living room. There were no people on the street. In the distance he could hear a dog barking, yet, everywhere it seemed silent. There was no wailing of sirens, no sound of trucks or emergency vehicles. He tried the light switch next to the door. The power was on.

“Calm down,” he said to the still sobbing boy.” We’ll get to the bottom of this.”

“Do you suppose the phone’s working?” He looked around the room, then went into the kitchen. The telephone hung from the wall near the door. There was a dial tone. He fumbled with his wallet and found his address book.

“… 8910,” he muttered to himself as he dialed the number. No answer. He tried another. Still no answer.

“Okay, then. What about a radio?” The boy was standing at the doorway, a bit more composed.

“Is there a radio?” Johnson asked. The boy pointed down the hall to one of the bedrooms.

“In there,” he said, his voice shaking.

Johnson went into what seemed to be the parent’s bedroom and turned on the radio. There was nothing but static as he turned the dial.

Finally, he turned his attention to the boy. “Okay. Tell me what happened.”

The boy, once more, started sobbing uncontrollably, rubbing his eyes with one hand and clutching at his shirt with the other. Johnson decided he wasn’t going to get anywhere with the boy. He called out.

“Is anybody here?” Cupping his hands over his mouth, he yelled louder, “Can anybody hear me?”

From the basement he heard a stirring.

“Hello,” he called down the basement stairs, opening the door and leaning into the dampness of the cellar. He called again, but there was no response. Turning on the light from the switch at the top of the stairs he stepped cautiously down to the bottom.

There was a movement from behind the furnace. Suddenly, a small child came running out, blindly trying to pass him as she aimed to go up the stairs.

“Whoa, there!” Johnson grabbed the child and brought her up into his arms kicking and screaming.

He took her upstairs to where the boy was standing, watching from the landing.

“Is this your sister?” he asked. The boy nodded, his face streaked with tears.

Johnson placed the kicking girl on the floor in front of the boy. She immediately went to her brother, embracing him tightly, turning to Johnson with a fearful, yet defiant look.

“Where’s my mommy?” she cried.

“That’s what we’re trying to find out,” Johnson sighed.

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