Consciousness and Quantum Physics.

As part of Empire’s ‘special’ forces I was once caught up in a covert operation to ‘liquidate’ a group of dissident fighters who’d defected to our side, having been given a clean uniform, a shiny semi-automatic G3 and a square meal… without really thinking any of it through… They must have wondered at their sudden good fortune, all freshly laundered and all.

Most were taking the opportunity to exact tribal revenges or personal vendettas. The problem was that they also had a check list of grievances which had become diplomatically, ahem, ’embarassing’.

We were eight gunners in the belly of a Crocodile, 16 tons of armoured personnel carrier, roaring to its rendezvous. En route, the mission is unveiled. Gooks. Lure them out. Kill them.

During the rest of the journey I sat in shock, trying to think through what I had just been ordered to do, and as more of an invitation to a party than a command..

…you are in the grip of Evil….

They are defectors, untrustworthy, here today and gone tommorrow, taking pot shots at you along the way with your own weapons..

…you are in the grip of Evil….

They’ll turn against you one day. You can’t trust them! Strike now while they are unprepared and easily beguiled by treachery….

I mean strategy…

…you are in the grip of Evil….

When the innocents were teased from the bush with bully beef and cigarettes  the trap was sprung. I remained bolted to my seat, immobilised from within. A woodlouse in the debris at the bottom of the vehicle was trying to negotiate my bootlace. Would it go over or under? Which way forward? What would he do?

When the firing  stopped, the officer (subsequently killed) glared at me furiously for refusing an order. It could have fetched me an eon in the Dog Box but he said nothing.

And so I started to chew. If I can refuse an order and get away with it something other than the ordinary rules of war are at play. Moreover, if allies can be killed today for the inconvenience they might pose tomorrow then what about one another? What about the guy sitting next to you?

And what might motivate such hideous cupidity? The answer was in the momentary anguished screams of the dying, which is what the Crocodile was ultimately searching for, what it fed on, the beseeching howl of betrayal that confirmed them as sacrifices to the dark face of god.

What any of us were fighting for had nothing to do with freedom or any political ideals. The scenario I had just witnessed was the endgame, apparently gratuitous carnage until you consider the awful possibility that when strategy assumes the the shape of rite and sacrifice we weren’t just soldiers anymore, we were ministers, priests at the devouring altar of Mammon, disavowed dark face of Yahweh whose PR makeover into New Testament Shepherd could be swung but had to be fed with offerings of Humanity to do it, culminating in the current  famines in Yemen and Somalia engineered not just by economic policies of greed or the propping up of corrupt regimes for gain…

..but to feed the maw of gods we will not name.

War proliferation and economic infrastructure depending upon perpetual conflict is only the tip of the iceberg. It’s about way more than money and greed. Its about the quasi-religious experience of being sunk into the Collective,

of being Quanteam,

and being used to act out the horrible, denied underbelly of Yahweh.

The gods have become diseases; Zeus no longer rules Olympus but rather the solar plexus, and disorders the brains of politicians and journalists who unwittingly let loose psychic epidemics on the world.” CG Jung

In the days of the Indian Empire the dashing Brits were fainting at the sight of a table leg at home whilst pig sticking ‘overseas’. Within the collective hive there is no jaring query, no raised eyebrow. ‘I’ has been swallowed up by ‘We’.

With the prospect of nuclear war greater than it has been for decades we would do well to remind ourselves, not just of the dangers of escalation but of nuclear weapons specific purpose, civilian deaths,  game changing technology for gloves off diplomacy. Its the innocent people we’re ultimately after. You don’t nuke a city because you don’t like the mayor. Nor even because you are pissed at its citizens. We are through the looking glass of collateral damage. The dark god requires sacrifices.

never before has…

Dresden..

what?

The bombing of Dresden by the Allies, deliberate civilian targets, a hundred and twenty thousand killed..

never,..

and the Holocaust, and the Armenian genocide.

Never before this last century..

Acre.

What?

Acre in Judea. 1052 AD. Richard the Lionheart bravely killed every civilian in the entire city. 20,000 people. Oh and Charlegmane, he was full of convert or die. Some of the ones who were converted still had to die… only quicker. By the sword instead of the garrot. I wonder if they were grateful for that mercy?

and lets not forget Edward Longshanks beaching the Jewish citizens of London in Morecambe Bay, 1275, to be swallowed by the tide as surely as Andromeda was offered up to Poseidon….

Soon after the above, when the fittest had done a rather poor job of surviving and my troop had been cut down from thirty men to a mere four, we remaining Sons of Empire were treated as pariahs by the others in the Commando who wouldn’t talk to or eat with us. Men refused transfers to the unit or pulled strings to avoid it. It was as if we had condensed all the fear of mortality that soldiers are apt to deny and become embodiments of ill fate.

The irony is that when the troop was disbanded as a solution to the obscure mythology developing and we were individually assigned to other units we immediately became the opposite, like Yahweh himself our association with carnage and death suddenly inverted into one of heroic talismen of survival, lucky warriors carrying some kind of manna imbuing each host troop with new life and hope..

despite the obvious reality that we were being cut to pieces.

and despite all the ardent blood sacrifices to the Dark One..

This flick from one state to its opposite is what the ancient Greeks called Enantiodromia. Its the kind of thing that seems terribly unlikely, impossible even, yet actually describes both matter and consciousness rather well,…

”This phenomenon practically always occurs when an extreme, one-sided tendency dominates conscious life; in time an equally powerful counterposition is built up, which first inhibits conscious performance and subsequently breaks through….” C G Jung.

Enantiodromias occur at a sub-atomic level as well. In fact, life as we know it seems to depend on the unlikelihood of matter being one moment a wave and the next a particle while blinking in and out of ‘reality’. Its as unlikely as going for tacos at an icecream stall and still getting lucky, or an entirely indoctrinated man refusing an order…

and getting away with it.

Enantiodromias, in both quantum physics and in psychology, presuppose a ‘quantum superposition’, or Self, a non-material state wherein these opposites are tolerated as paradox.

Within the quantum ‘superposition’ matter is in an unquantifiable state, you could even say it both does and does not exist. It ‘pre-exists’ in contiguity with everything else. Consciousness is like-wise an unquantifiable soup until something observes, witnesses, mirrors, even a woodlouse will do, compelling realisation from the Belly of the Crocodile. That which pre-exists, knowing right from wrong, takes form as a definite state.

Being here now, the unrehearsed messiness of emerging from the wave function and becoming what you are not, is then further complicated for both consciousness and matter when time and distance come into play.

It seems there isn’t any.

Old Man Physics says that if you lie in wait for a Quantum Creature on a jungle path after you’ve seen it leave its lair, it will in fact arrive at its destination by a different route. The act of lying in wait changes the past. If quantum creatures are separated and housed in different laboratories what you do to the one affects the other. Distance is a construct.

”If you think you understand quantum mechanics, you don’t.” Feynman.

Participation mystique, a term coined by levy-Bruhl to describe the  soup of collective identification with one another, a state of shared psychic reality like the quantum superposition, containing the components of individual identity without suffering their trials, just outside real time and space, removed from any circumstantial trouble and gloriously protected from all moral consideration.. allowing men to play dice with the Universe in a way the Gods would never dare….

similarly defies conception.

Just before my decimated troop was disbanded, I passed out one day on the parade ground. I was carried to the medic’s tent who looked me up and down and asked, ‘have you got a girlfriend?

er, yes. Jane.

Is she pregnant?

er, I don’t think so, why?

Because you have the worst case of morning sickness I have ever seen…

Many years later and out of the Blue, Jane’s younger sister called on me and told me that she had in fact been pregnant at the time and had an abortion without letting me know.

how does that happen?

You hear about fathers-to-be having sympathetic experiences with their partners, but without being told and thousands of miles away?

Distance doesn’t matter.

Like the enmeshed sub-atomic particle, individual consciousness is undivided from its superposition in a way that bypasses the constraints of time and distance like phones or first class post. This enmeshment of the wave function is what Rupert Sheldrake calls Morphic Resonance.

This most excellent Quantum Biologist refloats the gnostic idea that matter and life pre-exist as morphic fields of possibility which are both non-material and have memory. Get that..

Though if these fields exist beyond the bounds of time and space what would there be to remember…?

It turns out that even dense materials have a morphic field which ‘informs’ the process of crystalisation, something which can be observed by the way in which synthetic crystals grown in laboratories become easier and quicker to create over time. Laboratories starting up on the other side of the world synthesise the crystals at the new faster rate despite using all the same old equipment. Something akin to a neural pathway, but outside three dimensional space and time, enables the crystallisation process to ‘remember’ how it is done.

The simplest of creatures have morphic fields that help them ‘know’ who they are, cuttings grow roots, the lizard his tail, the segmented lugworm a whole new body, and what is learned  by one member of a species becomes part of the storehouse of knowledge of all its other members wherever they are. Sheldrake taught a sample of rats to achieve complex tasks. A separate second control group then took only a fraction of the time to learn the tasks once the first group had them well mastered.

Morphic fields do more than share memories. They share information. The introduction of milk bottles in the 20’s led to the surprise discovery that once one Blue-tit had worked out how to get the top off the milk bottle, the news then travelled faster than Blue-tits can fly, let alone breed. So, no new genetic markers or mutations in the mix.  When delivery was interrupted by WW11 and several generations of Blue-tits had come and gone, the new generation knew straight away what to do.

What does it mean?

When I bought myself out of the military for the princely sum of $125 I went walkabout in Central Africa for a few months to try and get my head straight. I had just left Kasama, south of the Burundi/Zambian border where I spent the night. I walked for miles along an empty road into the sprawling endless forest. All of a sudden I became panic stricken as it occured to me, I cannot say how, not in words or images but as an impression, that I was about to be arrested before the hour was up.

I rushed into the forest with my heart pounding, emptied my bag and sorted through all my stuff to see what there might be to incriminate me in any way, anything that might give anyone the slightest reason to get offended.. I had an old cammo bush hat, a sewn set of parachute wings I kept as a momento of the war which was a bit off….

So, I buried them with about twenty minutes to go and got back on the road to meet my fate. Nothing and nobody. Still, strange shit will happen so I squared my shoulders and walked around the bend in the road.

Nobody, just jungle.

I began to relax and walked on. Perhaps I’m just a bit mad? After another ten minutes I got to the lip of a shallow escarpment that looked out over a broad valley. I could see for miles and waaay down the road.

Nobody. Not even locals, let alone horrible policemen. Just the cicadas.

Four minute warning. I began to laugh..

At that moment a young couple from Malawi drove up behind me, the first vehicle all day, perhaps taking pity on my clearly hysterical state. They gave me a lift as far as the road block three miles away where I was arrested exactly on time.

What the hell..?

 

Quantum Physics and the Doctrine of Signatures.

You would think that the Church would grasp with both hands at anything that seemed like a proof of God and yet the closest we have come to it, the ancient and profound wisdom rooted in the Doctrine of Signatures, was suppressed without mercy.

The Doctrine of Signatures, initially propounded by Greek physicians Discorides and Galen in the first century, says that plants resembling various parts of the body can be used to treat ailments pertaining to those parts.

”Nature marks each growth… according to its curative benefits.” Paracelsus.

Lungwort looks like the lungs and is good for bronchial conditions. Kidney beans are good for those organs. Carrots, the cross section of which looks like an iris, are good for eye infections and so on.

It seems like a pretty innocuous belief, and useful enough to have persisted in medical and herbal practices for centuries, surviving to this day in homeopathy and Bach flower remedies. So why were healers persecuted for its practice? Surely the notion that divine intervention had given humanity a helping hand is good PR…

Not so.

Modern medicine wanted its cures devoid of divine meddling and the church preferred that Nature was not something sentient in its own right.

Somehow the notion that Nature might be helpful and intelligent undermined religious convictions about who was running the show. It was the wrong kind of divine intervention.

The problem for the authorities was that the Doctrine of Signatures represented a challenge to the official position on Salvation, you have to deserve it. Not only was the veiw of Nature according to these early gnostic philosphers and healers  lacking in blood thirstyness it was decidedly benevolent, irrespective of a person’s moral rectitude. Not only was Nature sentient, it was unconditional, happy to heal saints and sinners alike.

Moreover, it encouraged folk to have their own relationship/dialogue with Nature which marginalised the intercession of earthly powers.

The Doctrine of Signatures was duly deemed blasphemous and could cost you a great deal more than your health because it went further than affirming the existence of God. It also begged the question of divine disposition.

The notion of divinity unconcerned with sin or retribution, positively helpful to all regardless of upstandingness and offering redemption from suffering in the here and now rather than in an anxious future beset with fears was, err..

unpopular.

So you can imagine how the church fathers’ abject consternation might increase as they considered and mused over its further implications..

because it meant that life itself was full of useful signposts and synchronicities   that helped people, not only freely laid before us and not just as a system of unconditional connecting principles, but as a means by which we might actually experience ourselves in continuity with the natural world.

and if we are not separate from Nature then we need have no fear..

and we have no fear then we cannot be controlled, threatened or manipulated.

oh dear.

One of the stories I like best about plants is the native discovery of Curare, a deadly poison used by Amazonian Indians to tip their blow darts. It is made by combining, in specific quantities, the leaves of three or four entirely unrelated plants, each of which is entirely benign on its own.

The chances of finding this out accidently is about as likely as waking up one morning and deciding to vapourize mayonnaise in the presense of Lithium dichloric oxide and snorting the results as a remedy for gout.

So how did they find out about it?

Simple, the forest told them.

The discovery of Peyote is better documented. For those who haven’t tried it, allow me to assure you that Peyote, a small desert cactus in central Mexico that has strong psychoactive properties, is the most disgusting, bitter, rancid, vomit inducing substance you could ever encounter. It contains natural emetics that make you puke so hard you will wish for imminent death; but before that, a taste so foul your entire body mitigates against it. Imagine the worst childhood medicine topped with dog shit and sprinkled with the contents of Mr Twit’s beard.

apologies to Roald Dahl.

Yes, its that bad; the point being that no-one in their right mind would ever try it unless they also had a taste for paint stripper by the pint with chasers of albatross guano cut with baboon snot.

Legend has it that two young brothers got lost in the desert. Their elder sister became worried once night fell and went in search of them. She too got lost and had to sleep out in the cold. As she slept she dreamt. A voice told her that when she woke she’d find that she’d used these low lying cacti as a pillow. She must eat them. The visions that followed would lead her to her brothers and that’s what happened.

The brothers were saved.

Unless we call such things miracles and subsume them under God’s Will, neither church nor science has much use for them. The reason is that we have been led to believe that our sinful egos are all we are, or, at best that if there is an unconscious then it is derivative, and ‘nothing but’ the garbage heap of the mind.

This maintains the ego as master of its own house but disconnects it from Nature and stops us from experiencing the vastness of Psyche, much of which we are bound to experience as ‘outside’ us.

‘Some think that fish contains the sea, but actually the sea contains the fish.’    C. G. Jung.

This formulation of things, a central pillar of the gnostic world veiw, is expressed by the Sanscrit, ‘Tat Tvam Asi’, ‘thou art that which thou perceivest’ and again in the Talmud as, ‘We do not see things as they are. We see them as we are.’ It is  expressed in the buddhist tradition by the saying, ‘you cannot cover the sky with your palm,’ and invites us to completely re-think, to re-experience, our relationship with the Universe.

More recently quantum physics concurs. When asked what the fuss was all about by a journalist at a press conference convened to discuss Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle, Niels Bohr is reputed to have said, ‘ I’m not sure, except that you may throw yourself down on Mother Earth in the sure knowledge that you are one with her and She with you.’

The story goes that the chemist Kekule had spent years trying to figure out the shape of the carbon molecule. He just couldn’t get it until one day he was passing a school yard thinking about something else when he saw a group of children holding hands and singing ring-a-ring-a-roses and suddenly he had it, the carbon ring, and the Universe had helped him find it.

We might pooh-pooh such things, and resist giving up what we consider to be the separateness of the ego, from ego’s point of veiw its very sovereignty, and yet we need only look at a person describing the day as miserable to know they are talking about themselves. When bidden a good day by a neighbour, Dutch mystic Miester Eckhart replied joyfully, ‘every day is a good day’.

In the absence of such experience life has to be ruled by moral codes of conduct which assume our separateness from one another with the subsequent need to bring these disparate others into line. ‘Love thy neigbour as thy self,’ is then taken to mean ‘be as nice to others as you are to yourself’. Its a moral injunction, a thou shalt. Very different to, ‘love thy neighbour who is none other than thyself’, wherein compassion for others is no mere moral goodness but a recognition of the other as oneself, a shard of the universal hologram.

Hello me.

This does not mean that the ego is an illusion or that we have to get rid of it, but that it is mere garnish to the banquet of life which ordinarily we’d give little more attention than a sprig of parsley…

which, incidently, is very good for gall stones….