In part I of this article, I recounted my discussion with a physicist I had the good fortune to meet after having worked on a member of his family at Esalen’s Carmel office. We talked about the interconnectedness within the basic fabric of our universe, a fact which quantum theory describes mathematically, and has been demonstrated experimentally. This fact has radical implications for our theoretical understanding about the nature of reality itself. As I wrote in part I, confirmed by my physicist friend, matter, energy, space, time, and mind are interwoven into an unbroken wholeness. Anyone involved in the healing arts needs to consider the relational nature of our universe and it’s component parts as we assess our work and it’s effect on both our clients and ourselves. Following are a few details which get a bit heady, but are crucial to understand in order to grasp the above ideas. Please bear with me while I try to explain them clearly.
In 1964, an Irish physicist named John Stewart Bell became interested in a debate between Danish physicist Niels Bohr, and one of the 20th centuries’ most brilliant minds, Albert Einstein. At issue was a peculiar aspect of quantum theory called ‘quantum entanglement”. Quantum entanglement involves the interaction of sub-atomic particles. When they interact, they become “entangled”. Einstein’s dilemma was his attachment to a universe made up of ordinary objects. Quantum theory as a whole, and quantum entanglement in particular, demonstrates that the objects we perceive as normal with our five senses are hardly normal at all. Objects that have become “entangled” respond to changes in each other’s state instantaneously, across space and time at faster than light speeds. This occurs no matter how far apart they are. Quantum entangled particles of light on opposite sides of our galaxy literally sense, instantaneously, shifts experienced by the other. Einstein spent a great deal of time trying to prove, through a famous thought experiment called the EPR experiment, that this “non-local, faster than light” aspect of quantum theory had to be wrong. Bohr was convinced that any notion of “ordinary objects” was absurd. Quantum theory demonstrates that “objects” come in and out of being, moment to moment, according to quantum probabilities represented by waveforms. Non-local, faster than light relationships are a curious feature of a theory representing a reality based on the rules of quantum probability. Einstein, convinced that some “hidden variable” had yet to be discovered to complete quantum theory, uttered the famous phrase “god does not play dice” to express his distaste for this feature of quantum theory. John Bell entered the fray to settle a central question in this debate: is the universe a collection of discreet, separate parts, related by “local forces” only, like gravitation, electro-magnetism, and the strong and weak nuclear forces, or is there a “non-local” interconnecting web, capable of faster than light signaling as suggested by quantum theory? To make a long, very complex story short, Bell discovered a mathematical proof that demonstrated reality to be non-local, as suggested by quantum theory. In 1972 at the University of California, Berkeley, and again in 1982 at the University of Paris, what is now known as Bell’s Theorem was experimentally verified. It means that we live in an interconnected universe which responds to changes anywhere in it’s web instantaneously, at faster than light speed (enormously faster).
All of this was information I was familiar with, and had pondered deeply over many years. In my conversation with my new physicist friend, he said something which made me look at all of this from a deeper perspective. It was truly a “click, light goes on” moment in my thinking. What he said was: “At the dawn of time, when the universe was born in the Big Bang, everything was quantum entangled. All of the matter, energy, and space created in that process is inextricably linked, forever. The atoms making up your body, and the hydrogen in the cores of distant stars sense each other at a level that is so subtle most people never experience it. Our minds are made up of the same stuff, and have the capacity for self-awareness. A part of their nature is the reality of quantum interconnectedness. It is possible to directly experience that. It creates a feeling of the human mind being connected to a greater living, self-organizing intelligence. I think this experience is what some people call god.” Wow! My mind was totally blown at that point, so blown that as they left, I forgot to ask him his name.
I ask myself the question if quantum interconnectedness is in some way involved with the intuitive capacity to empathically connect with our client’s in a way which can be therapeutically beneficial. Watching Milton Traeger work at Esalen in 1979, it was clear to me that he had this capacity. It is a capacity that can be learned, and taught. As I have stated in previous blog posts, slowing down, and allowing sensing and feeling to become primary in our field of awareness are keys. Providing our students with opportunities to practice developing these capacities is an important part of our work as teachers, if our intention is to train practitioners of the healing arts, rather than “massage technicians”. (I’ve always disliked that term.)
On a final note, some people are convinced that the experience my physicist friend was describing is one of “the divine”, or god. Others, like myself, believe that the universe is possibly a living, learning, ever evolving process, integrating into some kind of “meta-intelligence”. This meta-intelligence might be the sum total of all intelligent beings and processes existing within the boundaries of this universe. Quantum interconnectedness may be an organizing, connecting factor, which makes it possible for seemingly disconnected processes and individuals to intuitively connect. We can never know for certain which explanation fits the facts most neatly. Even a scientific explanation requires a great deal of faith. The following comment, from an old friend, on my “Therapeutic Aggravation” post points to the issue quite clearly:
“…well put and supported Per..at what point does a correction become divine healing..I know you’ve been there and have witnessed it. How do you know as the manipulator when the healing touch becomes divine ? you know me never an easy question…” les
Great question Les. I can only speculate as to the answer.