The Answer to Existential Questions – Merging Science and Spirituality
It seems that mankind has come up with a multitude of stories and rationalizations in order to explain the reason and purpose of our existence. The traditionally endorsed answers to existential questions tend to come from either religion or atheistic science. Religion generally dismisses a large number of scientific facts, while usually promoting a spiritual savior figure, guidelines, and an ultimate reward and punishment system. Science, on the other hand, studies no further than the material world, and “praises” coincidence, rather than acknowledging a consciousness or purpose behind the existence of life.
While humanity has largely divided itself into these two mindsets, the only alternative that seems to be left out of the loop is the merging of both science and spirituality. Could they be linked to one another, or are they bound to contradiction? Without referring to another dogmatic and deity-based theology, could an essence of consciousness possibly be involved in nature? Or is life nothing but a purposeless phenomenon in the midst of a universe of dead matter?
Let’s take a moment to reflect on the galaxies, the solar system, the ecosystem, the fauna, the flora, the cells, DNA, or any other ingenious mechanisms that make up our reality. Ever wondered why snowflakes show flawlessly geometrical patterns, or why plants know when to bloom and birds when to migrate? Ever wondered why you even have the conscious ability to witness such phenomena?
“The most incomprehensible thing about the world is that it is comprehensible.” – Albert Einstein
It is obvious that science is simply a tool assisting us in understanding the already conscious mechanics of nature. We attempt to learn about it, yet it already existed in perfect harmony before we tried to. However, many scientists insist in describing such a rich, conscious and lively existence as a mere coincidence, with no intelligence involved in its inception. The only intelligence or consciousness that mainstream science seems to acknowledge is the intellect of our brain.
CONSCIOUSNESS BEFORE THE BRAIN, OR AFTER THE BRAIN?
To this day, we read in most science books that consciousness is merely an outcome of chemical processes in the brain, as if it emerged—by coincidence—out of brain tissue. But does this claim make any sense?
If consciousness only exists in the brain, then how could “unconsciousness” create a brain that is not only conscious, but that has a capacity for complex subjective experience? Did superficial brain processes invent the brain itself, the body, the earth, and the entire universe? Why do conscious and experiencing beings—such as us—even exist in the first place? WHY is there consciousness?
Such questions are undoubtably a problem that the scientific community seems to ignore—perhaps to avoid a more metaphysical perspective.
“How is it that something as unconscious as the matter of the brain ever gives rise to something as immaterial as an experience? (…) Scientists find themselves in the strange position of being confronted daily by the indisputable fact of their own consciousness, yet with no means to account for it.” – Peter Russell (M.A., D.C.S., F.S.P.)
Physics, biology, chemistry or any other science—despite their success in analyzing the material world—simply cannot explain the purpose of it all, or where it all really came from. They cannot account for the fundamental essence that makes us conscious individuals with a deep sense of self and of subjective experience. Our spark of being—the one that makes us creators, thinkers and observers with such a rich and multifaceted inner world—is undeniably beyond the bounds of mainstream science.
“In one way or another, they are trying to accommodate the anomaly of consciousness within an intrinsically materialist worldview. Like the mediaeval astronomers who kept on adding more and more epicycles, the underlying metaparadigm is seldom, if ever, questioned.” – Peter Russell (M.A., D.C.S., F.S.P.)
Such observations are generally avoided in our society. After all, how relevant are “mysterious” existential questions in a system in which mindlessness, material consumption and financial success are the primary focus? However, this book is not meant to abide with neither preconceptions nor popular stances. We are not going to address the cause of a celebrity’s weight gain, recite bible verses, talk about politics and economics or inform you of sport statistics. We are going to delve into the realm of the unresolved.
In order to understand who we are and why we are here, we have to explore the deepest level of our reality. What are we made of? What is the very source of all that exists?
“My studies in mathematics and quantum physics explained how the entire material universe could have evolved from the simplest of the elements—hydrogen. Yet the most fascinating question for me had now become: How had hydrogen—a single electron orbiting a single proton—evolved into a system that could be aware of itself? How had the universe become conscious?” – Peter Russell (M.A., D.C.S., F.S.P.)
REALITY BEYOND THE BRAIN
When basing our understanding on a three-dimensional experience, our automatic reasoning will surely be that reality is made up of matter. Not to mention that the word “real” is mostly tagged upon all that is perceivable through our 5 senses. However, quantum experiments and neurological studies have proven this impression to be inaccurate. Reality is actually quite different from the images filtered by the brain.
The mind may find it ridiculous to even consider that what it so clearly perceives is not exactly as it seems. But who is to say that the human brain—which only serves as a decoder of abstract electrical signals—is the ultimate point of reference as to what is real and what is not?
“Remember how electrical currents and ‘unseen waves’ were laughed at? The knowledge about man is still in its infancy.” – Albert Einstein.
As much as Cartesian minds may conquer, it is primordial to set aside the scientific ego and open ourselves up to a path of uncertainty. Because the first step to understanding the fundamental construct of reality is to accept that it is quite unlike our mind’s perception of what is “out there”. As the great physicist Erwin Schrödinger stated, “Every man’s world picture is and always remains a construct of his mind, and cannot be proved to have any other existence.”
There is indeed no evidence, which could prove that the reality we experience “out there” is not a mere reconstruction of information/codes received and filtered through our nervous system.
As a matter of fact, studies show that the world we perceive through our eyes is merely our brain’s interpretation of electrical signals derived from light.
Light is scientifically referred to as electromagnetic radiation, or simply as energy. We often think of light as the brightness we can see with our eyes, yet visible light is but a very small portion within a vast range of light frequencies.
The light frequencies known to the scientific community have been categorized and labelled in what is called the electromagnetic spectrum.
Visible light is a range of frequencies that project our three-dimensional reality. As these light frequencies enter the eye, it triggers chemical reactions in the retina, which produce electro-chemical impulses. These travel along nerve fibers to the back of the brain, which is where vision is interpreted. The brain then analyses the data it receives, and recreates its own picture of what is “out there”. However, what is “out there” is quite unlike the coherent and conceivable world we experience through our senses.
“Consider our experience of the colour green. In the physical, there is light of a certain frequency, but the light itself is not green. Nor are the electrical impulses that are transmitted from the eye to the brain. No colour exists there. The green we see is a quality appearing in the mind in response to this frequency of light. It exists only as a subjective experience in the mind.” – Peter Russell (M.A., D.C.S., F.S.P.)
Even though we have labelled certain light frequencies with names such as ultraviolet or gamma rays, they are all just light/energy. There are no definitive breaks or boundaries when it comes to light, but only a continuous range of energy, which can lower or raise its vibration speed. It is within this ocean of light, that our ingenious brain is able to translate a specific frequency range into what we call our visible “reality”.
THE SECRET OF THE QUANTUM WORLD
“What we have called matter is energy (light), whose vibration has been so lowered as to be perceptible to the senses. There is no matter.” – Albert Einstein
Everything is inherently made of light in different frequencies, and this does not exclude solidity. Just as light can manifest itself in a frequency range that is visible to our senses, it can also manifest itself in a frequency range that is touchable to our senses. It doesn’t mean that the objects we experience are solid by nature; it only means that our brain interprets them as solid.
Of course, the thought of matter being “immaterial” will seem farfetched to the mind, because its only reference point is the human senses. But let’s not forget that all of our senses are the product of an ingenious computer called “the brain”, which—again—is only a decoder of electrical signals. Our 5 senses will never give us an accurate picture of what is truly “out there”, because they can only experience what they are designed to experience. Without a brain programmed to transform light into electrical signals, and electrical signals into visible shapes, colors, sounds and sensations, there is only light of different frequencies and vibrations. As the great inventor, electrical engineer, and scientist Nikola Tesla stated, “If you want to find the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration.”.
“Are not millions and millions of blobs of energy and light, photons and electrons? They make up this imaginary three-dimensional solid world, which does not exist at all according to Relativity or Quantum Mechanics. (…) The only realities we know are the ones our brain manufactures. A brain receives millions of signals every minute. And we organize them into holograms which we project outside ourselves and call it ‘Reality’” – Dr. Robert Anton Wilson
As the quote above states, “blobs of energy” or “light” are terms that would best describe the smallest, most elementary particles that make up the material world. Most linear minds would hope to find proof of their solidity, but the truth turns out to be more puzzling than the easy to grasp concept of size and mass.
We all know that matter is composed of atoms. Yet studies now reveal that each atom is composed of 99.9999999 % empty space. They are nothing like the “solid balls” that science has used to describe them for two thousand years. The remaining 0.0000001% of the atom represents the elementary particles that are hundreds of thousands times smaller. This means that if we enlarge an atom to the size of a football stadium, the nucleus of the atom would only be as large as a tiny grain of rice, and so are the electrons orbiting around it. As the early twentieth-century British physicist Sir Arthur Eddington stated, “Matter is mostly ghostly empty space.”.
The discovery that matter is mostly immaterial seemed too uncomfortable for the minds of physicists to grasp. Therefore, in an attempt to at least ascribe solid properties and measurements to the elementary particles of matter, physicists have encountered another so-called “anomaly” within the quantum world. Experiments show that elementary particles can behave and look like particles, but are not solid in essence. They are truly and inherently waves of potential existence.
“With the advent of quantum theory, it was found that even these minute subatomic particles were themselves far from solid. In fact, they are not much like matter at all—at least nothing like matter as we know it. They can’t be pinned down and measured precisely. They are more like fuzzy clouds of potential existence, with no definite location. Much of the time they seem more like waves than particles. Whatever matter is, it has little, if any, substance to it.” – Peter Russell (M.A., D.C.S., F.S.P.)
The reason for this abstract description is precisely because what appears to be elementary “particles” behave in a most abstract manner. They are inherently spread out as waves of light—without a defined and measurable substance or location like we would expect “solid” particles to have. However, this light carries all potentialities for manifestation. In other words, light has the potential to manifest itself in many ways, which would explain why—despite there being only light—we experience a world of many particles, textures, colors, sounds, and so forth.
“This isn’t the world of electrons. It’s the world of potential electrons.” – John Hagelin, Particle Physicist, Ph. D.
According to quantum studies such as the double slit experiment, that which defines what potentiality the wave will “choose”, is the presence of a conscious and observing mind. Physicists can now say for a fact that the very presence of a conscious mind observing and intending to define or measure a particle, consequently determines the aspect and location in which it takes form. The only question our science cannot answer is WHY light defines itself as a particle the moment we observe and define it. This quantum anomaly is scientifically known as the measurement problem.
“The measurement problem is this: an atom only appears in a particular place if you measure it. In other words, an atom is spread out all over the place until a conscious observer decides to look at it.” – Prof. Jim Al-Khalili
“And anytime we attempt to look at particles beyond a certain level, the very act of observation changes (their) lanes.” – Dr. Dean Radin
To put it simply, the fundamental nature of reality is originally “open” to all potential outcomes, yet our very consciousness is intimately hooked to the one that shall be experienced. As the physicist Dr. York Dobyns stated, “Without us, (conscious beings) there would just be this expanding superposition of possibilities with nothing definite ever actually happening.”
“Any exchange of energy between any two atoms in the universe involves the exchange of photons. Every interaction in the material world is mediated by light. In this way, light penetrates and interconnects the entire cosmos. (…) Although all we ever see is light, paradoxically, we never know light directly. The light that strikes the eye is known only through the energy it releases. This energy is translated into a visual image in the mind, and that image seems to be composed of light—but that light is a quality of mind. We never know the light itself. ” – Peter Russell (M.A., D.C.S., F.S.P.)
“For the rest of my life I want to reflect on what light is.” – Albert Einstein
Days could be spent studying the behavior of the quantum world, and more problems and anomalies could be discussed. Yet these so-called quantum anomalies all involve the dimensions and behaviors of light.
Modern science is not in the business of asking what this light, this energy, this empty space or this wave of potentiality is—all terms aimed at describing the fundamental construct of our reality. It aims at describing the way things works, but barely ever questions what or why it is this way.
Some claim that answering these questions is a job for philosophers, not physicists. However, everyone agrees that quantum theory works, but most of those who study it are not quite sure what it means.
“If you are seeking the Infinite, what instruments do you have to seek the Infinite? Only sense organs, isn’t it? So through your sense organs, if you are seeking the Infinite, it is like wanting to go to moon with a bullock cart. Isn’t it so? That is the plight of humanity, right now: with a limited perception, they are trying to grasp that is which is beyond.” – Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev