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.


4 responses

  1. The story may be fiction but the reality that Buddhism teaches and has taught is that this material reality is an illusion – that the ultimate attainment is emptiness – and yet there is a continuity of consciousness – our quantum physicists call energy.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I read and really enjoyed this piece. The first thing is I personally agree with the character speaking about the “religion of the heart.” This is also a term the perennial esoterists use to describe their approach to reality which transcends names and forms. I too believe that the time has come for man to become independent in his understanding existence, his self-worth, and self-perception. It is time for him transcend faith and belief and instead base his insights on direct intuition. So far our view of ourselves and the universe was at the mercy of authorities such as religion and even science. But none can be as powerful as direct intuition. Neither science nor religion is in the place to determine who I am and what is my place in the universe; the reason being that science itself is a product of mankind; if science comes to undermine the significance of man, then it is undermining itself and its objective worth. So, I strongly believe that time has come for us to “see” for the first time instead of having to accept from above.
    Another point is about QM and esoteric traditions. In fact this has been the subject of my own research in the past year. I have realized that the fundamental structure of quantum mechanics and those of esoteric traditions such as Vedanta or Buddhism or Taoism or zen are identical. I can use the mathematics of QM to formulate the metaphysics of Advaita Vedanta. QM has a lot more gem inside it which is not yet realized. It has a lot to say about existence and worth of man. I personally view it as a step toward a huge paradigm shift that makes direct intuition the highest attainment of truth.
    I don’t know much about Zen or Taoism or Buddhism, but insofar as I have studied Advaita Vedanta I should say that everything they say is implied by QM, even the idea that the universe has not really happened and that it is a mere illusion. It is a consequence of the principles of QM that our universe could not have possibly come into existence since there is no way for its wave function to collapse from potentiality into actuality! Interestingly many cosmologists have come to the idea that our universe is in fact a hologram. This is in agreement to QM and experiments.
    Great existential piece. And you are right about the possibilities of QM.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are right; it does to some extend, since in entanglement we see that there exists a kind of relationship between things that transcends space and time, as if the separation is only superficial. My own research in physics is mostly focused on the phenomenon of entanglement. And I always look for these links and write about them whenever I see something. Entanglement is a very curious phenomenon. One thing that is shown by experiment is that if you put two particles in a box for a few minutes and then separate them to opposite ends of the universe, they cannot tell which is which. They don’t have any means by which to tell whether they are separated or not; in other words, though we separate them spatially, they don’t experience that separation at all.; and it doesn’t matter how far you take them apart; you cannot do anything in space and time to disconnect them. They behave as if they are still together and united. This is entanglement, and it is pretty amazing.
      Entanglement occurs whenever two things interact; then they will be forever entangled; but what is interesting is that if we accept the picture of Big Bang, then everything that is in the universe now was at some point inside a tiny singularity; so everything in the universe is essentially entangled; this means that the expanse of space is only an apparent expanse while in reality there is not Real distance or separation between things. At least this is the logical consequence of the principles of quantum physics and relativity.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: QZen – an American Haiku

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