Physics that inspires us
Physics that inspires us
Waking up terrified one morning, I realized why I had to write Quantum Mind: The Edge between Physics and Psychology.
I was afraid of dying. I did not know what would happen to me when I lose my physical form.
Every other night for several years, I had been awakened with questions about what grand mystery lies behind our physical form. Who are we, where did we come from? Why are we here? What happens after death? What is the basis of physics and how does it connect to the psychology of dreams and with spiritual traditions? How is my personal fate connected to the fate of our planet, our solar system? …
Then I had an insight. To find answers to my questions, psychology, shamanism, and physics had to come together in a new kind of unified field theory. What an impossible job!
Arnold Mindell, Quantum Mind, 2000.
On this page, please enjoy our writings below, compiled from our blog posts, 2003- 2009.
We hope you will enjoy and be inspired as we have been while developing our ideas over time, and appreciating the input and engagement with others.
Arny’s research into the connections between physics and psychology can be found especially in these books:
Quantum Mind (2000)
The Quantum Mind and Healing (2004)
Earth Based Psychology (2007)
The ProcessMind (2010)
Dance of the Ancient One (2013)
Feynman: Go Beyond Everyday Thinking
We learned this from a great teacher: Don’t only think about your process or the process of others. Have courage, experience and follow your experiences until they explain themselves.
You can know the name of a bird in all the languages of the world, but when you’re finished, you’ll know absolutely nothing whatever about the bird… So let’s look at the bird and see what it’s doing — that’s what counts.
Richard Feynman, Nobel laureate.
Curiosity creates the passion to follow unknown processes. That allows people and Nature to reveal Her wonders. We learned this from our favorite re-searcher.
I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious. —Albert Einstein — To Carl Seelig on March 11,1952.
Quantum Mind Review
We appreciated Dave Stein’s review of Arny’s book, Quantum Mind.
Building on the visions of Wolfgang Pauli, Carl Jung, and David Bohm, Mindell speculates on exciting new directions for psychology and physics, with profound implications for epistemology and ontology. In his view, the next level of understanding will be based on nonlocality and unbroken wholeness at the outset. Dreaming will be seen as the Universe’s background process, more fundamental than elementary particles, ego, or self. Next-generation mathematics, physics, and psychology will be based on the nonlocal sentient awareness itself as the fundamental “reality.” They will encompass the experienced world as well as the measured world – and matter will have attributes of consciousness or at least non-measurable attributes, as perhaps hinted by Galileo, Leibniz, and some neurophysiologists.
Quantum Mind is at the forefront of a paradigm shift that may be unprecedented in scope. In large measure, the book was possible because of Mindell’s brilliant insights and his rare capability to identify relationships among several areas of knowledge – relationships that escape notice (in CR) by many others. Nuggets of perennial wisdom, familiar to many people on paths of self-development, come alive as Quantum Mind relates them to mathematical and scientific principles. The book is a must-read, not only for those exploring the exciting new possibilities in the physical, medical, and behavioral sciences but also for anyone on a path of self-development – as is everyone, in a sense. Complete with its practical exercises, this book is not only read but also experienced. ( p.80)
Stein, D. (2004). Quantum Mind – The Edge Between Physics and Psychology. The Rose+Croix Journal, 1, 77–81.
Gravity and the earth’s field: what moves us?
Who are We and What Moves Us About?
Pondering the origins of the universe and the meaning of gravity makes us ask what do we experience as pulling and moving us about? What is gravity? Why is it here? It’s obviously something like magnetism which pulls on iron, but also very different than magnetism. For you can be any kind of matter and you will be influenced by gravity! As therapists we must ask ourselves what is it that moves us one way one day, and then moves us in another way on the next day? Is it magnetism, is it gravity, dreaming…or what do you call it?
Shifting from figures, forms, insights and cognitive thinking, to the subtle nature of force fields, will bring psychology closer to the earth, body and natural sciences. Our question is: how do we bring science closer to human experience, and how do we bring what is now called psychology, closer to the nature of the physical universe?
Playful Approach to Gravity
Amy made these two videos while Arny and Amy were studying ecology. They show Arny playfully researching gravity and ecology and come from his less academic side! It was I, Amy, that wanted to post them. Hope you enjoy them!
WHAT IS GRAVITY?
GRAVITY AND KIDS
We are now pondering what dream and body experiences are connected with Einstein’s general theory of relativity. This theory explains how things move through the universe in connection with the energy and curvature in any given area of our universe. It may sound “far out”, but then dreams and body experiences (not the medical descriptions of these experiences) go beyond conventional concepts of time and space and may be more closely connected with relativity’s 4 dimensional spacetime. Thanks to theoretical physicist Jack Sarfatti for pointing us to the following quotes.
“Einstein [realized] that the equivalence [between gravity and acceleration] would work if spacetime were curved and not flat, as had been assumed hitherto.” Universe in a Nutshell.
“Gravity is not actually a ‘force,’ … A charged particle in an electric field feels an acceleration … in contrast a particle in a gravitational field moves along a [geodesic] path that is the closest thing there is to a straight [world] line [in 4D space-time]. Such particles do not feel acceleration; they are freely-falling. … think of a ball flying through the air as being more truly ‘unaccelerated’ than one sitting on a table; the one sitting at a table is being deflected away from the geodesic it would like to be on (which is why we feel a force on our feet as we stand on Earth.). “SpaceTime and Geometry” p.2
Arny’s question: What is the psychological significance of “falling freely,” in contrast to “standing on the earth.” Is “free fall” what we experience by following the “dreaming body” ?
Where Do You Live in the Universe?
While astronomers are deciding how to define the meaning of the word “planet”, we are studying how to define who we are. What is the difference between our everyday selves, and our occasional sense of ourselves as timeless beings?
Each of us lives on earth. (Or at least most do [Description: )] ). But at the same time, perhaps a part of us does not. If you simply let your intuition work for a moment, ask yourself, where do you sense you would fit in this sketch of The New Solar System?”
If your intuition allowed you to guess where you are located you in this sketch, go another step. Ask yourself what is the significance –if any– of your location? What does that significance –if any—imply for your everyday psychology here on earth?
PARTICLE PHYSICS AND MYTHIC JOURNEYS
Quite accidentally, our research into the nature of light and matter following the approach of Richard Feynman’s QED (quantum electrodynamics, best described in his book, The Strange Theory of Light and Matter) has uncovered new, elemental links connecting the nature of our psychology with the properties of the universe. We have long been looking for fundamental and easily understood connections between the theory of matter, Taoism and process-oriented psychology. It seems as if we are now at the edge of this research. By using Feynman’s concept of “direction” in complex space, (a method which is part of the standard model” in elementary particle physics), it has been possible to elucidate what we mean by “process,” “path” and “mythic journey” to create simple practices and theories revealing mystical depths and everyday resolutions. The quantum mind is connected with the concepts of directions, tracks and body feeling. See Arny's book Earth-Based Psychology for more.
If you are in the mood of thinking about where we live and have 6 minutes (we know, that is a lot!!), check out this video of the Hubble Deep Field view of our universe.
How Big Is The Moon? Amazing things are never close enough!
Why did the Moon appear to be so large in the Northern Hemisphere at the end of June?
In 1913 Mario Ponzo gave one explanation to why the moon seems so large when it is near the cityscape or horizon. This explanation is called the “Ponzo Illusion” or the “Moon Illusion.” He suggested that our minds increase or decrease the actual size of objects, depending upon their background. If they are bright and round up and up in the air in the midst of a black or blue sky, they seem smaller than when they appear near the earth’s surface or horizon. There are various newer explanations of this illusion as well.
Our explanation for the moon illusion is a bit different than Ponzo’s. When the Moon or anything else from the sky appears at the horizon (i.e. the edge of the earth) it will seem larger to many people, even larger than Ponzo’s optical illusion would predict, because we need the moon to be larger, closer and more accessible. Amazing things are never close enough!
In any case, next time you see the moon, don’t pass by it by. Stop, watch it flirt with you, and ask yourself, “how large is that moon, and how close is it to your heart”? We hope that everyone interested in psychology can be amazed at the world and universe we live in.
GRAVITY, PSYCHOLOGY, AND POLITICS
We are interested in Prof. Robert P Crease of Brookhaven National laboratory in the US. His article, “Gravitation” describes the influence of gravitation on our social systems (Oct 1, 2007, physicsworld.com). He says “Newton’s famous equation describing the gravitational force between two objects altered more than our ideas of the solar system.”
As Crease explains, it also influenced our conception of human nature. For ease, we have attached the rest of his article here.
Entanglement: Locality, quantum nonlocality and psychology
Normally, if you give your teacup a push, you expect that cup to move on the table top.
After all, if you push something at a given spot or locality, it will react. This is the principle of locality. However in the quantum world things move in connection with other things at a distance…even when there was no obvious push! In other words, your tea cup might move if a friend of yours in another city merely thinks of drinking tea with you! That sounds like magic, that is, it violates the principle of locality.
In quantum systems, physicists call such action-at-a-distance, nonlocality. Nonlocality means that something can affect something else without any sort of noticeable push. It seems as if there is no space, no locality, as if something about nonlocality connects things…or that these things are all part of some inherent oneness. We don’t want to go into the details of the physics here. The reader interested in a popular explanation can see this article Was Einstein Wrong?: A Quantum Threat to Special Relativity. (Thanks to Magdalena Skoczewska and Alexandra Vassiliou for pointing us to this.)
At this point people divide up into at least 2 schools. One school says, “Ok that is quantum physics but people are not quantum objects.” The other school says, “People have always known about this kind of magic.”
Arny goes into this debate in his 2010 book, ProcessMind, and we explore these questions in our seminars. But we want to put these ideas out again to the general public so that together, all of us can ponder, who are we as human beings? How for example can we know that one of two particles is happy and excited, while at the same time neither of them is definitely excited.
Find that hard to understand? Try thinking nonlocally :-) Or begin to think psychologically.
Dr. Quantum Explains Entanglement
How quantum-like stuff coming from the same source remains mysteriously connected –as if space barely existed –can help us understand more about people and community. In addition, quantum entanglement will enable us to develop new practices for inner and outer work this next year. We loved finding some simple, popular explanations of quantum entanglement on the web.
Listen and watch Dr. Quantum as he gives us one such (very popular!) explanation. Enjoy the video!
Entanglement and the Mind of God?
Because we have been studying the physics of “entanglement”, we were happy to read the recent attempts of physicists to explain this remarkable and “counter-intuitive” quantum phenomenon. Simply stated, entanglement occurs when two particles that were once close together and part of the same quantum system, remain instantaneously connected even though they may become vastly separated at opposite ends of the universe. Is there a possible signal connecting them? Einstein called their “entangled” connection, “spooky action at a distance.” We know that Einstein was often quoted wondering about the nature of what he called, “The Mind of God.” (See below.) Is this “Mind” behind those “spooky” entanglements? Or are there (as yet) unknown signals, traveling many times faster than the speed of light? Read “Entanglement remains a mystery” Physicsworld.com, August 13, 2008 (92Kb PDF file)
Is there a central principle to life?
From an interview with Professor John Wheeler, 2003 on The Science Show, Radio National Australia….
Q: Many great scientists throughout their life have a vision. Do you have a vision?
John Wheeler: “Well, to me it’s the picture that the whole of this existence of ours will some day have its single, central principle spring to life, that will be so natural we’ll say to ourselves: How could it have been otherwise and how could we have been so stupid all these years not to have seen it?
Wheeler was a great physicist and the teacher of Richard Feynman, Hugh Everett and our friend, Edwin Taylor. Wheeler died in 2010.(Thanks Susan Kocen for finding this quote)
We agree with Wheeler, and are also “searching for that single, central principle…” that is almost obvious. In addition, we are searching for central principles that not only correspond to known quantum/string physics and cosmology, but also to Aboriginal creation myths from around the world.
In this photo, Albert Einstein wants to know What are the thoughts behind the structure and patterns of our universe? In Einstein’s mind, knowing those patterns, would be knowing “The Mind Of God”.
We too wonder about “the Mind of God”. But perhaps the very question about the nature of the universe is itself a “koan”? That is, such questions may be something that are not really meant to be answered! Perhaps that question about the nature of the universe is a puzzle that is meant to throw us into an altered state of openness. [Description: -)]
We think that state of openness itself is an answer to Einstein. The fundamental pattern of our universe must be the capacity to wonder, and reflect. Everything gets interested and starts wondering or at least “sniffing” something else.
In any case, after seeing so many different kinds of ongoing conflicts, and moments of the most incredible resolutions this year, we too sense there is a kind of self-reflecting “mind in our universe” that appears frequently even in the worst mess. For one reason or another, perhaps many people, even those in conflict are directly or indirectly unified at least in wishing to know: “What is God’s Mind?”
(This picture comes from an Einstein Poster in my office… and appears on Physlink.com).
The Cosmological Constant and Psychology
Einstein’s cosmological constant has undergone many re-evaluations since he proposed it. This constant determines whether the universe gets bigger or smaller. It is a kind of intrinsic energy density of the vacuum. This “constant” is very fine tuned, and measured to be of the order of 10-29g/cm3. To date, no one can find the reason for it being so small. And no one has yet explained why if it were changed just one part in many trillions of parts, life itself would not exist. This kind of accuracy seems very unlikely, very improbable.
Therefore some scientists believe there was some sort of intelligence, a life creating force generally referred to as the “anthropic principle”. That means, the universe is fine tuned so that life can come into being.
Our question; how does this “anthropic principle” appear in psychology? Or does it? What is consciousness and life? Why have many people always believed there was some sort of intelligence “out there in the universe”?
Physics, Shamanism and Taoism
To answer our questions about life, we are pondering the connections between Shamanism, Physics and Taoism. We are thinking about these three quotes (Thanks to Brian Kahn and Dr. Jai Tomlin for pointing these out to us):
I. “Nature uses only the longest threads to weave her patterns. So each small piece of her fabric reveals the organization of the entire Tapestry.” Richard Feynman
II. Spinning with your ally will change your idea of the world. That idea is everything. And when that changes, the world itself changes.” Don Juan Matus.
III. The reason why the universe is eternal is that it does not live for itself. It gives life to others as it transforms.” Lao Tse
God, Physics, Psychology and Self-Reflection
Thanks to Dr. Gary Reiss for pointing us to the astrophysicist Bernard Haisch’s book, the “God Theory”, and Haisch’s interview with Tikkun Magazine about that book.
We are thankful to Prof Haisch for trying to connect mainstream scientific thinking with the “God” hypothesis; namely that there is some “intelligence” and “purpose” behind the creation of the present universe –which at present is believed to be about 13 billion years old. Haisch suggests that God is an intelligence that wants “to know itself” and “pre-existed” this universe.
In his book “The Quantum Mind,” Arny suggests that a way of understanding the self-reflecting nature of the universe (suggested originally by John Wheeler in the 1950’s) is to examine a central mathematical characteristic of the universe, namely the quantum wave function. Quantum theory produces highly accurate empirical answers about physical “reality”. No scientist today knows where this self-reflecting mathematical property comes from. In “Quantum Mind”, Arny suggests there is no “reason” for this self-reflecting property; he simply accepts it as a basic property of the universe we live in.
What is the purpose or reason the universe wishes to self-reflect? Why do those equations of quantum theory work so well? We don’t know. As therapists however, we respect a given individual’s or community’s belief system about “why the universe may self-reflect.” If a given belief system enriches the lives of the people concerned, it is a valuable belief.
As far as we are concerned however, we know from observing thousands of people the world over, that the self-reflection “property” of the equations of quantum theory (and the nature of the universe) leads to useful psychologies, group and organizational methods. Focusing on the awareness process, that is, noticing experiences, and becoming aware of awareness allows one to follow one’s own deepest nature. This focus almost always leads to a richer life experience. Individuals, partners and groups that self reflect, experience more interest in diversity, in one another, and in life.
We don’t understand where the self-reflecting properties of the universe come from, but because they work so well with kids, adults and people near death, we believe in them. (See, for example, the actions and last words of Dr. Sara Halprin.)
Awareness and the Collapse of the Wave Function.
Physics ponders one of its central mysteries; how does the imaginary world of the wave function “collapse” or get reduced into a concrete reality. Psychology offers one possible answer. We marginalize our various dream-like experiences, valuing one over others at a given moment, to create “reality”. This marginalization is due to our everyday identity as well as the world situation around us at any given moment. Our question: why does physics so often tend to deal with observation as if it had nothing to do with people? June 2003
Perception research koans
Why can’t you see the diversity of things at the same time, all the time?
How is this problem linked to the one-sidedness behind so many personal and political problems?
Is anything, any one “thing?”
What in you determines what you see?
For example, do these cubes coming out or going into the picture? These so called “Necker Cubes” may be an optical illusion for your mind. In your awareness, the two-dimensional drawing of cubes may flicker between protruding from and intruding into the page. Why is this? What is happening with our awareness? What does this have to do with quantum waves?
Can you be in or see more than one state at a time?
When you wake up in the middle of the night, and see something hanging over a chair, it can be a monster or goddess at the same time. But then “awakening”, you realize it is just your old shirt you threw over the chair before you went to bed. In the quantum realm of physics, a consensual physics object such as a shirt, can be in two states at the same time. Likewise in psychology, in a sleepy state, we can see two different states of a “shirt” at the same time.
Art and physics
One summer day in August of 2004, Amy was playing with colored acetate plastics. Suddenly she discovered or “saw” what she called “a king emerging”.
Later, Arny walked by the picture and said, “Oh! Look at the goddess and lion in there!”
What do you see when you look at the king?
Do you see the Goddess and the Lion “in” the King?
If you can see different parts of the King, can you also imagine seeing a human being with her different parts — such as that Lion, Goddess and King?
Why do we often see only the person, and less frequently all the art within her?
Who are we human beings? Who chooses which things get created, then “added” (superposed) within us to create who we are?
Do you have any problems related to identifying yourself as a person only instead of an individual full of diverse parallel worlds? This is one of the many places where quantum physics (and its parallel worlds) is a type of psychology– and where psychology is a kind of physics and art.
“Presponding,” Not Re-Sponding. New Views on Perception.
We are pondering Dick Bierman’s work on perception. This experimental physicist at the University of Amsterdam did experiments that show we apparently know things 1 to 2 seconds before we see them. This convincing work seems to support timeless or time-reversible aspects of observation. In other words, we seem to know events before the physical event signal is actually received by our retinas. Seattle physicist John Cramer’s quantum theory explanation of observation (see Arny’s Quantum Mind for more on that) is that there are forward and backward movements in time. He speaks of a “quantum exchange” between observer and observed before observations take place. It seems to us as if Bierman’s work may lend us experimental validation for Cramer’s ideas. In other words, the roots of observation are time-free exchanges. He calls our ability to know things before we receive physical signals, “presponding” instead of responding. Summer 2006
Flat Land and Hyperspace Videos
Thanks to Dr. Alexandra Vassiliou for making us aware of these enjoyable extra dimensional theories in animation form. They would be good background for understanding Arny’s book, Quantum Mind.
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