Scientist Steven Weinberg says that the corrosion of religious belief by science is a good thing because of what an awful God it is that’s shared by Christians and Muslims alike…
…but while his character analysis may be spot on it does tend to make a neurosis of anything other than ego based psychologies and ignores discoveries in quantum physics that seem to demonstrate that there is something truly mysterious, mystical, about the relationship between Consciousness and Matter, between Time and Eternity.
‘The Self is not so much linked with what happened to its ancestors, it is not so much the product, and merely the product, of all that, but rather, in the strictest sense of the word, the SAME THING as all that.’ ― Erwin Schrödinger.
just as the person who is fifty experiences themselves as the same person as they were at forty no matter what has happened in the interim.
Quantum theory uses an intertesting term, the ‘quantum superposition’ in which an atom can pre-exist in a combination of multiple states corresponding to different possible outcomes. Curiously, this is also true of Consciousness.
”The unborn work in the psyche is a force of nature that achieves its end either with tyrannical might or with the subtle cunning of nature herself,” CG Jung
Shrodinger’s cat experiment, in which a cat in a box would be killed if a random particle was detected by a gieger counter and could therefor be considered both alive and dead until you’d checked up on it, was meant as a mockery of the prevailing ‘Copenhagen Interpretation’ which supports the idea of quantum superposition and can demonstrate the truth of it with experiments during which light behaves as a wave or as a particle depending on whether the experiment is being observed at the time…. Even if it is being merely monitored by detection equipment…
matter playing peek-a-boo…
Consciousness, too, exists in multiple, contradictory and sequential forms that seem to have very little to do with one another not unlike a recent scientific discovery which has determined that some species of dragonfly shares no DNA with its nymph. At some point in the metamorphosis the organic state of the nymph not only dies to itself, it is reduced to its most basic atomic constituents…..
from which will emerge a three gram jump jet.
For those who have a Newtonian point of veiw, life is like being a dot on a page. It cannot imagine a line any more than a line could imagine a page, or a page a book. Yet what seems particular to all life is this incomprehensible transition from one kind of life to another.
Something I console myself with when I’ve lost perspective in all the chaos, is that whether science or religion is right in their eternal wrangle about the origin of life, it is an indisputable fact that at some moment, from a ball of millenial flame now cooled sufficiently for rain to fall and support life…
Life did just that, and at 2.34pm one Tuesday..
Life blinked on.
Consciousness too, blinks on from multiple potential states beyond our comprehension and navigates a passage through the world chiefly by virtue of the attitude held towards that quantum superposition from which it emerged..
and whether or not it allows itself to be altered by involvement.
An example of quantum theory at work in fairy tales can be found in the comparable stories of, ”The Devil’s Golden Hairs,” and ‘Brother Lustig,’ both of which involve an encounter with the quantum wave function of Hell.
In the first story a boy is born with a lucky caul and a prophecy that he would marry the daughter of the king who just happened to be around. The king took Lucky Hans and threw him in a river to die but he was saved by a Miller who then raised him as his own.
Years later the king passed by the Mill. By chance he learns of the boy’s identity and sends him to the Queen with a letter saying, ‘kill the bearer of this note.’ But the boy gets lost and wanders into a thieves’ den where he falls asleep. The thieves read the letter, feel pity for him and secretly change it for one saying, ‘marry this lad to the princess’.
And so it was.
When the king finds out he has been tricked he’s enraged and sends his new son-in-law to fetch three golden hairs from the Devil’s head, thinking he could not possibly return.
On the way the prince encounters three gate keepers. The first asks, ‘why does the spring here not gush with wine as it once did?’
‘I don’t know,’ he says, ‘but I’ll try to find out.”
The next one asks, ‘why does the tree of golden apples no longer give fruit?’
‘I don’t know,’ he says, ‘but I’ll try to find out.’
The next is the ferryman to Hell. ‘Why must I be the eternal ferryman ?’
‘I don’t know’, he says, ‘but I’ll find out’.
When he gets to Hell the Devil is out, but his Grandmother is home. She’s friendly when she finds out that he’s there to save his marriage, when he’s transparent and straight with her. She turns our hero into an ant which she hides in the folds of her skirts having promised to help him get the hairs and the answers to his questions..
Prince as Ant has acheived what the Tao calls action through non-action. He acknowledges the primacy of the quantum superposition to take care of the situation.
The Devil arrives tired and grumpy. He falls asleep on Grandmother’s knee and when he’s snoring she tweaks out a hair. He wakes startled. ‘So sorry,’ she says. ‘I was dreaming of a spring that no longer gushes with wine.’
‘Nor will it,’ replies the Devil, ‘for as long as the toad sits upon the source.”
He drifts off and she tweaks a second hair. ‘So sorry,’ she says as he starts up, ”I was dreaming of a once beautiful tree of golden apples that now has even lost its leaves…’
”and it will die entirely if the mouse continues to gnaw at the root…’
A third hair and the Devil leaps furiously to his feet. ”Sorry, so sorry, I was dreaming of a ferryman who was imprisoned to his task…
‘so will he always be till he hands the oar to another,’ grumbled the Devil and wandered off to a spot less infested with grandmothers.
And so our hero returns victorious with the three hairs and the secrets of the various afflictions… and bags of gold from the grateful gatekeepers.
‘Can I have some? asks the wicked king.
Sure, says the prince, ‘go ask the ferryman for his oar.’
The kind of consciousness a person has, influences their material fate.
This is not a crude, ‘everything happens for a reason’, nor even that we might make meaning of tragedy. Its more that Fortune favours the brave. Fortune was a Goddess before the church got hold of her and made her an attribute of knights. In our story, the youth who experiences himself as fortunate catches Her attention. In her guise as Grandmother, the quantum superposition, or archetype, enables him to realise a useful outcome because he’s motivated by his heart and by the Principle of Relatedness, which is her thing too.
So all goes well.
Not so for ‘Brother Lustig’, who, like Schrodinger, had a hard time with the Copenhagen Interpretation, that potential states can exist simultaneously on the threshold of the phenomenal world and that what happens next is down to how they are perceived.
Er, so, reality as well as beauty is in the eye of the beholder?
You can see why someone lurking with philosophical intent might have a problem with that.
Brother Lustig can’t co-operate with Saint Peter, his travelling companion, his wave function, who goes to great lengths to make sure Brother Lustig does okay in life but is thwarted by our hero’s own ineptitude and bad grace. The Self, the combined multiple states of a quantum system, has healing and energising properties. St Peter brings a man back to life with just the right salve and mysterious ability, but Brother Lustig, the self involved ego, is more interested in the reward of a lamb dinner than the miracle he’s witnessed.
Brother Lustig eats the only part of the lamb that Peter wants, the heart, and then lies about what he has done despite ample opportunity and considerable pressure to come clean. To make things worse he then tries to resurrect the Princess of the land who’d just died, by the same means as Saint Peter the day before.
Of course he is just inflated. He hasn’t got the knack for it and fails. Saint Peter has to step in at the last moment and pull him out of trouble. He even gives him a magic knapsack which could contain anything he wished to make sure he should never be hungry before he departs but Brother Lustig is unimpressed.
”I am very glad you have taken yourself off, you strange fellow, I shall certainly not follow you.’ Grimm.
Eventually Brother Lustig dies and comes once more face to face with St Peter at the Pearly Gates who is reluctant to let him in.
‘At least let me return the knapsack,’ he says and passes it through the gate. No sooner has St Peter taken it than Brother Lustig, thinking himself clever, wishes himself into it. St Peter tutts quietly and places the bag in a corner.
‘Tis strange how some want their Eternity. The power was only to wish things into the bag. Now you will have to stay in there.’
”What happens to a man has something to do with him.” CG Jung.
We create our reality.
and do so by refraining from trying to be the author of it all the time.
”One must not wish to leap over everything and penetrate directly.” Lu Yen
Lucky Hans has a way of rolling with life by accepting his dependence on it. He lets himself be lost and need help. He willingly takes a backseat in Grandmother’s folds while she does the work. He has faith in the Universe because he knows it will offer him the face that he shows it.
”The right way to wholeness is made up of fateful detours and wrong turnings.’ CG Jung.
I was once on a train which was bound to my destination but via a different route to the inbound journey. The conductor points out that its the wrong ticket and that I could be liable to a fine and the cost of another ticket.
The situation was entirely absurd and of course I could have protested the unfairness of it all since I was clearly just making a return trip. The route was irrelevant.
But the guy had a job to do.
So I handed him the ticket and crawled into the folds of Grandmother’s skirts.
He looked at me, looked at the ticket, clipped it, and handed it back.
A quantum system, British Rail conductor, remained in his Quantum Super-position until interacted with or observed by the external world, BR passenger, at which time his wave function collapsed into a definite state,
”causing the set of probabilities to reduce to only one of the possible values immediately after the measurement.” from the Copenhagen Interpretation
The situation emerged as a result of how it is measured. I knew he would do the right thing, and he did.
”Consciousness is fundamental. I regard matter as derivative of consciousness. We cannot get behind consciousness. Everything that we talk about, everything that we regard as existing, postulates consciousness.” Max Plank.
So we have to stop it already with all the what-is-the-meaning-of-life? What life might mean presupposes that we know what it is…
The followers said to the Master, ‘Tell us in what way our end will be. The Master replied, ‘Have you therefor discerned the beginning in order that you seek after the end? For in the Place where the beginning is, there will be the end. Happy is he who stands boldly at the beginning. He shall know the end, and shall not taste death. Gnostic Gospel of Thomas. logia 18.
My teacher George Brown used to say, ‘don’t get caught in the (client’s) story’. Its even easier to get caught in our own story and, like Brother Lustig, to get mesmerised by the drama.
Roberto Assagioli, founder of Psychosynthesis, likened the psyche to an orchestra where there was the various facets of personality represented by different instruments, the conductor, the organising ‘I’, and then the Self, the composer.
What he left out was the audience, the all important observers of the experiment, since music is meant to be enjoyed after all. They, by their appreciation, draw the utmost from the performers who in turn forge admiration from envy and abundance from gratitude.