Was it us, or more than us, that created the World?
Posted on 11 September 2013, 8:54
I do find it hard to get my head around some of the things that I read about how the World as we know it came into being. It is not that I doubt that the world and the universe that contains it is a creation of Mind: the question for me is, whose mind? Or the mind of what? If the world is illusion, whose illusion is it? I don’t really have answers, perhaps readers have suggestions.
It is said that things come into existence when something is observed causing quantum wave collapse: There is the example given by QM physicist, Erwin Schrödinger about a cat in a sealed box – either he is dead or not dead, and only the act of observation can determines that. It is the act of observation that brings physical reality into being. Counter intuitive as it may seem, there is a lot of agreement about the matter.
Even the 1700s philosopher Bishop Berkeley maintained that. The tree is there because we are observing it. For him the reason why it does not vanish when we walk away is that God is observing it.
It is pointed out that the picture of physical reality around us that we have, is very much dependent on our physical senses. The light spectrum for us ranges between ultraviolet and infrared. Ultraviolet and infrared we cannot see, but if we could, the world around us would seem very different. Our sense organs are insensitive to the radio energy spectrum: we have no consciousness of radio waves passing right through us and the seemingly impervious concrete walls that may surround us. What would the world feel like if we could sense radio or television waves?
We are told that the atoms that compose our bodies are almost entirely empty space, nothingness, in which infinitely more minute energy fields interact, themselves the product of distortions of the vacuum of space. All this of course makes it much easier to envisage a world of spirit that may coexist with the world of our physical senses.
But when we say that we create the physical world, and that it is a creation of the mind, and therefore that it is an illusion, (at least in the sense that it is not what it seems), what do we mean by “we” in this context?
I am inclined to think that it is important that we consider the work of the biologist Rupert Sheldrake in this respect. For him, memory is the key factor. In previous blogs I have explored the reasons why memory cannot be conceived of as “memory traces” in the physical brains. A Taiwanese friend Dr Simon Wu, has conducted neurological research in California, has been duplicating experiments conducted by Wolfgang Köhler and Karl Lashley, where animals have been trained to perform a task, and then random cuts were made in the cerebral cortex to interrupt possible “traces” or diminished patterns of resistance at synapses between the fibres of nerve cells. When the animals recovered, there was no discernible loss of memory in the subjects.
But there are many other arguments against the existence of such memory traces, including what has happened with people having Near Death Experiences. For Sheldrake memory is a function of non-physical reality, and exists in a timeless realm. Here is quotation I once copied out, (unfortunately without the page reference, which I didn’t record):
“While we know far more about migrating species today, there are still great mysteries: How does a fledgling American Golden-Plover make a journey of 10,000 miles along a route he’s never flown before?
How does the small Savannah Sparrow manage to fly from Mexico to Alaska—6,000 miles distant—and still nest within a few yards of its previous home?”
“Adult bald eagles do not migrate with juveniles. Newly fledged eagles migrate before their parents. No one knows how the young birds know when and where to travel.
“Some fledgling eagles wander in a wide range their first few years. Some return to their origin, while others do not. Only the young eagle knows if this is a conscious decision, or if it simply loses its way.”
Sheldrake proposes that there exist what he calls non-physical Memory Fields. He would do so because in the cases just quoted, the fledglings could not have prior knowledge where to fly to, that it would the impossible to suppose that flight paths and destinations could somehow be present in the genetic material with which the fledgling is born. (Even granted that there could be “memory traces”.) Sheldrake’s idea is that former experiences of (in this case) a bird species are recorded in these hypothetical memory fields, and one could perhaps see them as like GPS satellites, with which the fledgling is in constant communication, both guiding and controlling the fledgling in its flight.
Of course, his theory also applies to our memories – they also reside in such fields, and such fields may not in turn be insulated from other fields, and thus we have a corporate memory of a wider all embracing Mind, somewhat similar to the Akashic Records of Hinduism. Wikipedia: “The akashic records – akasha being a Sanskrit word meaning “sky”, “space” or “aether” – are described as containing all knowledge of human experience and all experiences as well as the history of the cosmos encoded or written in the very aether or fabric of all existence.”
In the same way Sheldrake extends this concept and proposes a similar memory field to govern the so-called laws of physics. The so-called laws, Sheldrake proposes, are really habits of behaviour, or memories. If the physical world is the creation of Mind, then the memory fields, or if you like the Akashic records, explain the continuation of the set way in which physical phenomena occur. Physical reality may be the creation of Mind, or of individual minds, and the Memory fields, or Akashic records explain why that mind creation retains its fixed form.
In that case Sheldrake would disagree with Bishop Berkeley and claim that it is not simply the act of observation that constructs the physical reality detected by our senses, but also the memory fields which govern all things.
The disciple of Albert Einstein, quantum physicist David Bohm, would have agreed with the ideas of Sheldrake. In his book The Implicate Order he proposes an “infolded” or Implicate order where the patterns and memories of all things are contained, and an Explicate or “outfolded” order of the physical. Bohm’s picture is like that of Plato and his doctrine of Ideal Forms. I think by “Ideal” Plato means “belonging to the idea.” But the difference between Bohm and Plato would be that Plato seems to envisage a one-way process, with the “Ideal” world producing the physical world, whereas Bohm envisages a two-way process, where what happens in the physical or Explicate is “remembered” in the spiritual or Implicate world, which in turn influences the physical, (including determining the llight paths of migratory birds) and so on, back and forth.
Memory would be the key. We exist in the world of spirit, and also in the physical world because of our memories. Without memory and consciousness we would not exist.
Memory would be the key to everything. Memory brings stability of form and its continuation. Memories can be changed, patterns can be altered, but, as those of us who try to memorise, or to change our habits, often much effort, much effort is required. If because of bad memories and faulty habits we have become sick, then sometimes through hypnosis, or prayer, this can be corrected, and we become well. But it is not an easy process, and often much repetition is required.
So it would be true to say that we create the world, but it would seem that the word “we” would have to include not only other living beings, but the habits of the physical world would have to be included as well.
So where does “God” or the “Absolute” fit in to all this, in the view of Bohm and Sheldrake? For in this view, the creative process goes back and forth from Implicate to Explicate to Implicate and so on. What happens in the physical can produce an effect in the spiritual or Implicate. Is there no place for God? Well, it does depend on how you want to define that word.
In the New Testament there is talk of a God who is in all, through all, and above all, and in a God who shows himself in Love. In that case, we would have to see God in the whole Implicate-Explicate process, or in the process of the interaction of the “memory fields” “akashic records” and the physical.
In Afterlife Teaching from Stephen the Martyr we have Stephen speaking of the universal Christ bringing all things into being, of “imaging” the world, thus we are created in his “image.” And this is how the Gospel of John begins: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it”.
We are brought into being with the events in which we participate by the “Word”, the projection of the universal Christ.
The phenomenon of synchronicity is often seen as demonstrating this imaging process.
And this intuition about the nature of things, seems almost universal in the world’s religion, all talking in one way or another about the predestination of all things by God, Fate or whatever. All that happens is seen therefore as the will of
God. And I suppose, if we are to accept Sheldrake’s and Bohm’s back and forth between the eternal and the physical, that is how the will of God would be worked out.
Questions immediately arise about good and evil, and I cannot answer them, except to suggest that in the context of the wholeness of space and time, we might evaluate good and evil in some other way.
Michael Cocks edits the journal, Ground of Faith.
Afterlife Teaching From Stephen the Martyr by Michael Cocks is published by White Crow Books and available from Amazon and other bookstores.