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..?

 

Synchronicity. Encounter with Numinosity.

The philosopher Heidegger said,

”There’s what I want to think about, and then there’s what wants to be thought.”

Its a single line that could keep you busy for a lifetime.

For instance, what about what I want to write about and what wants to be written? And who am I if I am merely penning what has already crowded its way to the forefront of my neo-cortex?

What are the implications for self-realisation if my idea of what it might mean is undercut by that which wants to be realised? What if enlightenment was something that came knocking at your door? What if it barged in?

I was a nineteen year old special forces…

be polite now..

soldier.

We had been sent on a mission to mop up some ‘auxiliaries’, fighters who’d annoyingly swopped sides and traded in their AK47’s for G3 semi-automatics and a hot meal.

It wasn’t very well thought out. They had a habit of defecting back again or just doing their own thing and had become…an embarrassment.

Six of us were sent in, concealed in the back of an armoured vehicle. The plan was explained en route. Lure them out of the bush with bully beef and cigarrettes and, ahem, ‘resolve’ the diplomatic….problem.

I had a small niggle about this. When we arrived at the RV the niggle had become an itch and the itch a gnawing pit of dread in my gut.

…in cold blood?

I began to sweat and moan. The officer was calling the Auxiliaries out of hiding. Soft thump of cigarrette cartons landing on the dusty ground. I heard voices, the crackle of dry undergrowth, figures moving slowly through the rifle slits, men with carelessly shouldered weapons.

…in cold blood?

The officer motioned us with a hidden hand. Sweat dribbled into my eyes, grime everwhere. The bottom of the truck was covered in bark and dirt from a fuel run earlier.

A woodlouse suddenly barrelled its way across the floor towards me, his feathery antennae working furiously, as if in desperate communication. Despite his tiny size he seemed to fill my entire field of vision.  My bootlace trailed on the ground. He clambered up it with great effort, struggling to get up, as if the smallest advantage was worth any sacrifice, his now whirring antennae a dance of petition.

…in cold blood?

The woodlouse began to absorb my entire attention. He became Woodlouse, his whole purpose to convey something terribly important and it was as if, for just a moment, the waving of his antennae breached the divide between us.

…in cold blood?

The order was given. The firing and the screaming began. Woodlouse clambered further up, waving, waving, hallooo, halllloooooo.

..not in cold blood.

When it was all over I was still sat in my seat, unused belts of ammo trailing from a cold gun. The silence was eternal. I kept my eyes on Woodlouse who had climbed back down a bit but twiddling victoriously.

Woodlouse. Burrowing creature of the underworld who creates rich humus out of dead wood.

The officer and I looked at each other for a veeeery long time, his brain cluncking between the options of handing me down a juicy 128 days in detention barracks or an even juicier yet unfortunate accident. Woodlouse sat firmly on my boot giving courage and filling me with the strangest sense of calm. Nobody said a word.

Of course, you could say that I just projected my conscience onto the woodlouse but that was not my experience. When I read Jung years later saying that the soul is mostly ouside the body I understood what had happened. I had been redeemed by something beyond my own consciousness.

”Something in the outer world crstallizes or confirms an inner process.” Jeanne Lloyd.

In a moment of urgency, inner and outer had ‘lined up’, or perhaps revealed their inner unity.

“Synchronicity is no more baffling or mysterious than the discontinuities of physics. We must regard them as creative acts, as the continuous creation of a pattern that is not derivable from any known antecedents.” C G Jung. 

During the time I was in analysis I got befriended by badgers. They came to me in dreams. Once I was in the woods and one came right up to me and musked my boot.

So, I dreamt that I was sick and two men with the heads of badgers tattoed their print on my chest and sucked out poison through it via a blue golf tee. It was a great relief.

I had a session the next day. On the pavement immediatly in front of my analyst’s gate, in two up two down suburbia, was a blue golf tee.

Something unknown is doing I don’t know what .

yet there is some poetry in the fresh game, the new beginning, that is teeing off.

Several years later I got the tattoo of the badger’s print done as it had been in my dream. Shortly after I was coming home late at night on my motorbike and as I turned into the drive understood that there was a badger waiting for me at the bottom of the garden.

Badger. Burrowing creature.

It was pitch black and 100m away but I clumsily made my way down to the boundry fence and there she was. I walked right up to the fence as she snuffled up and down. Her partner 60m away, bolted .

We are more than we can conceptualise.

”Morphic fields extend beyond us linking us to the objects of perception, affecting them through intention and attention.” R Sheldrake.

The content of synchronicities are always unique but there is something that seems common to them. They have to do with the re-enchantment of life, an aliveness that comes from going into the unknown, from crossing some kind of threshold of Being, or perhaps simply by allowing oneself to be.

We do have this idea that enlightenment comes from all kinds of strenuous effort and sometimes that is needed but so is it true that sometimes what is required is simply to get out of our own way and allow realisation to unfold by itself.

My dear mentor Chuck Schwartz once told me,

”Whatever the specific meaning of synchronous events there is also the more general sense that you are on the right track.”

Synchronicities are expressions of the dreamlike nature of reality,

”In a night dream, the dreamscape is reflecting the internal psyche of the dreamer. The dream is not separate from the inner world. Nor is our waking experience separate from what we normally call reality”. P Levy

So, what about if you’re not at all sure if you’re awaake or…

not?

Most of the time we at least think we know and are comforted by that. Sometimes, you can have lucid dreams and go about introducing yourself to figures of the inner world. But what do you do if..

you’re not quite sure…?

I’m in a garden and can’t quite decide one way or another. No lizard men… an acid test, usually. I look at the hairs on my arms, the whorls in my fingerprints, the grain of the brickwork in the garden wall. Then I pick up a sprig of three red leaves and hold it up to the light marvelling at the intricacy of their veins and the incredible colours.

Then its real whether you can find the seams in the universe or not, matey.

What a relief, and coughed up a kilo of broken glass.

better out than in…

Next morning I’m off to work down Commercial road in the East End of London, cash in hand casual work in an Indian gift shop. In the middle of the street is a sprig of three red leaves, but plastic and very unreal looking..

..laughed all the way to work.

When we step out of creed and dogma, braving the prospect of making our own way through the dark forest all manner of things happen to act as markers on the way,

”choreographed by the great pervasive intelligence that lies at the heart of nature, manifest in each of us as intuitive knowledge.” D Chopra.

When I was twelve I was sent to a foreign boarding school. On the first day my rugby boots were thrown around the dorm, mocked for their cheap brand and inferior stitching.

It was bad enough, but the really important piece of it was that it reminded me of a forgotten story my father told me long before. Remembered, suddenly and entirely. How his father had been shot down over Turin in 1942 , the rear gunner of a downed Lancaster. The RAF gave my father a bursary to a foreign boarding school where he was mocked for his clumpy shoes…

and how he’d never send me to such a place.

‘An you fink,

‘Ang on a frikkin minit.

Who’s life is this anyway?

Let alone what it might mean.

Something  comes out of the blue with your destiny in one hand and the burden of generations in the other.  Einstein’s anonymous god, a sometimes dark and unwanted co-incidence that nevertheless brings sudden, mercurial insight.