How Spirit led us to find Schrödinger’s Cat.
Posted on 02 June 2020, 13:16
Spirit has created a physical reliably predictable world in all the ways that science discovers. But that same Spirit is very personal, and Spirit can suddenly suspend these laws to walk us through a teaching experience. In the stories that follow, Spirit leads us through a series of incidents having to do with “Schrödinger’s Cat,” and deepening our certainty that in God we live and move and have our being.
But we will think about this mysterious cat later
The following story comes from my book, Into the Wider. Dream
“Dead/Not Dead” along the river Styx
In 1985, my wife Gertrud and I had been thinking of building a retirement house by the seaside, near the river Styx. An appropriate place, I suppose, when you remember that the river Styx in classical mythology is what you cross when you die. Our particular and physical River Styx lies 13 kilometres north of Christchurch, New Zealand.
At this point Spirit seems to began to take us through the teaching scenario. (We weren’t perhaps of that, until being confronted with the said Schrödinger’s cat.)
We shortly came to a pine plantation outside which there was a notice proclaiming, “The Ultimate Game”. This was a new commercial venture where people stalk one another through the undergrowth in the trees, attempting to “kill” each other with dye pellets shot from a gun. “How awful to play a death game like that” we exclaimed and on we drove.
Within a minute, we saw a policeman and a tow truck beside the River Styx. They were trying to haul out a car which had been driven into the river, which was still mostly submerged under the water. We wondered whether or not the driver had been drowned. And we drove on.
It was dusk. Suddenly. two ginger cats leapt out of the shadows at the side of the road. I swerved the car sharply, but killed one of the cats, and there it lay twitching in the road. The other ran away. I was tempted to throw the dead cat into the River Styx and then I thought that I had better own up. I looked over the hedge saw a man working in a vegetable garden. “Is this your cat?”
“Yes, it is,” he replied.
The man was kind about it. We were sympathetic to each other and all very upset. And we drove on.
Just a few minutes later we arrived at our caravan at Brooklands Motor Camp. I was still upset. Gertrud was kind to me and told me to sit down while she cooked the evening meal. She went into a separate camp kitchen, and immediately through the kitchen window came a third ginger cat identical to the one I had just killed. (Perhaps it was the ginger cat that I hadn’t killed.)
While this was going on, I was sitting in the caravan, and to distract myself I picked up Gary Zukav’s The Dancing Wu-Li Masters: an Overview of the New Physics. I opened the book at random, to a part I hadn’t yet read. It was page 108. I read:
“Schrödinger’s Cat” sums up the difference between classical physics and the Copenhagen Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics, and the Many Worlds Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics. ‘Schrödinger’s Cat’ is a dilemma posed long ago by the famous discoverer of the Schrödinger wave equation:
“A cat is placed inside a box. Inside the box is a device, which can release a gas, instantly, killing the cat. A random event (the radio decay of an atom) determines whether the gas is released or not.
“According to classical physics, the cat is either dead or it is not dead. The Copenhagen Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics says that the cat is in a kind of limbo represented by a wave function which contains the possibility that the cat is dead, and also the possibility that the cat is alive.”
[This was first time that I had heard about Schrödinger’s Cat.]
Then Gertrud brought in the meal, and told me about the visit from the third (live) ginger cat. The striking thing here for me was that while I was feeling bad about killing the cat, I was reading about a cat that was both dead and alive, and as I was doing this, Gertrud came in to tell me about the visit from the living cat.
I had been thinking about retirement and death to come, and there in the space of twenty minutes all these upsetting things happened, death and not-death. The whole thing felt to me as if I were surrounded by the numinous, the meaningful, and the spiritual. But mixed with that was the feeling that I was experiencing a weird and unpleasant dream.
And one more thing: we read in the papers next day that someone found a human skeleton in a field just there by the Styx, that very afternoon.
[All this had a powerful effect on us both, but in retrospect, it was as if Spirit had introduced me to the Double-Slit Experiment, which really implies the same thing as the Cat, namely that nothing exists without creative presence of Spirit. This is an absolutely fundamental statement. And that is why Spirit may have walked us through those evvents along the River Styx. [In the Cat thought experiment, I am still filled with worry about the poor cat!]
In retrospect, Styx/cat experiences seemed to be a commentary on the death of an artist friend of ours called Drew Peters.
Drew was in hospital while we were at the camp, and becuase he was such a fit man, we had no fear that he would die. However, while we were at the motor camp Gertrud had a dream which I will report in her words:
“Someone had died upstairs in the house that we were in. We did not understand who it was, or why he had died. But when I got upstairs, I saw geometrical three-dimensional shapes of foam plastic, floating around the air in the room. In the dream I had an “aha!” experience, and in the dream, I went to find Michael [that is me] to say, ‘Oh now I know, his death had to do with geometry.’ In the dream this made sense, but not when I awoke.”
On the morning after the dream we returned home where we could be reached by phone. It was a few hours later that a friend called Victor phoned to say that our friend Drew had just died. Victor remarked that it was at least good that Drew had actually finished his book on ancient geometry.
We grieved for our friend, and went to see Lois with whom he lived, also a long-term friend of ours. From her we learned that two weeks before he died, he had dreamed that his car had broken down, never to go again, and that her car had driven up to him, and the doors of his broken down car were fitted to hers. (He had apparently been in good health at the time of his dream.) But now he had died suddenly of a brain embolism. And in their home, I noted the furniture, the earthenware, the paintings that Drew had made ... so much of him was surrounding her now, that it seemed as if he continued to be with her. It was the story of Schrödinger’s Cat once again, he was both dead and alive, and his apparently premonitory dream, seemed to foretell this.
It had been not long before his death that we had bought from him a fine oil painting entitled “Gethsemane”, which, like many of his paintings, could be interpreted as conveying the feeling “dead – not dead”. In the foreground were rotting pieces of wood, and moss, and in the distance shafts of light shone through the trees. We had been tempted for instance to buy a companion painting, showing jagged and bleached tree stumps, with fresh new plants growing beside them.
So many events on a common theme packed into so short a time!
The death game, and the car being pulled out of the water are not meaningful in themselves, but when added to the number of deeply emotionally charged and meaningful events that follow, they are felt as part of a series that are felt as one event.
In brief: Much of the meaningful happenings were about the ambiguity “dead/not-dead”. To begin with we were thinking about retirement and death; but are not dead.
We passed a place where people were playing a death game, but nobody dies.
We passed a place where a submerged car was being pulled out of the river. Had someone died? We didn’t not know.
I killed a ginger cat, and at the campsite saw an identical cat, alive.
Just when I was reading about a cat that is both dead and alive Gertrud saw the living cat.
Gertrud dreamt that a friend (whose name she could not recall on awaking) had died, and the theme of the dream was important geometrical shapes floating in the air. We then learned that a friend had in fact died, having
completed his book about geometry (I believe it had to do with Masonic beliefs. My recollection is that we were unaware of this preoccupation of his).
Later we heard that shortly before his own death he had a dream which suggested that although he had died, he is still present.
There was also the actual skeleton discovered in that synchronistic area around the Styx river. Symbolically, a skeleton lying beside the Styx would imply a soul that has passed over and lives.
The above could just as well be an account of a dream. And an interpreter of the dream might well suggest that it is a dream about Eternal reality where there is actually no death.
b>Michael Cocks edits the journal, The Ground of Faith.
Afterlife Teaching From Stephen the Martyr and Into the Wider Dream by Michael Cocks are published by White Crow Books and available from Amazon and other bookstores.