[I was invited to be the guest speaker at Unity of Bellevue's (Bellevue, WA) Sunday morning celebration services on January 29, 2012. Unity of Bellevue is my spiritual home and I'm a member of its board of directors. My talk was an introduction to The Physics of Truth. Following the services, several of those who listened asked for a transcript. I'm happy to provide it here. It's been edited slightly for readability and clarity.]
Good morning! It’s with deep pleasure and gratitude that I’m able to be here with you today. I’ve been on this platform several times but never to give a Sunday lesson, so this is a very special honor. Thank you for being here and for sharing it with me.
The title of this morning’s talk is “The Physics of Truth: Exploring the Spiritual Realm of Quantum Physics.” It’s about that place where New Thought spiritual principles and physics converge. For much of my life I’ve been immersed in the study of this place, first out of simple curiosity and wonder and later on, out of a desire to have a closer relationship with God.
Now, I’m fully aware that some people’s eyes glaze over at the mere mention of anything having to do with physics. If you are one of these, dear friend, please bear with me. Even if your eyes are glazed, I invite you to listen with your heart open. You just might find this more interesting than you thought.
You and God
My purpose is to share some ideas with you about the flow of consciousness, also known in New Thought circles as the Christ-spirit, and how quantum physics supports these ideas, plus conclusions my personal contemplation has lead me to. They may prove to you to be provocative. For example, flowing consciousness creates the universe and everything in it including your physical self, the person sitting next to you as well as the experience you’re having right now. I don’t believe this is some kind of spiritual mumbo jumbo. I do believe it’s how the universe goes about its job of evolving into higher and higher levels of perfection on an individual basis. It’s the grand design of things. It’s how God works and here’s the kicker: you are the most important part of the process.
Unlike how we often think, you are not the end product of God’s work. You are the process itself, co-creating with God. When you are in alignment with the universe, you’re creating something wonderful that blesses everyone who comes within the reach of your expression of life. You are the center of the process. It’s what makes you real. In fact, it’s the only human part of you that is. It’s why you exist. And It’s why you chose this particular human form in the beginning.
The shockingly simple fact is, God can’t do it without you.
There’s a body evidence within quantum physics that, in my opinion, supports this world view of how you and God work together to get things done. Unfortunately, our time this morning is brief so we’ll only be able to touch on a couple pieces of that evidence. If the opportunity presents itself, I’d love to guide you into a deeper exploration at another time.
First, a bit of disclosure. I’m not a physicist and I don’t want to give you the impression that I think most physicists are going to agree with the conclusions I’ve reached. Far from it. Only the most enlightened among them do. However, the number of scientists who fall into this group is growing. You see, it’s getting harder and harder for them to ignore where their own discoveries are pointing.
Some of these concepts that we’ll talk about can be difficult to get our minds around but that’s okay. Dare to expose yourself to them anyway. After all, the most brilliant among us struggle too. Consider Richard Feynman. He was an especially brilliant physicist, one of the top three of the 20th Century, right up there with Einstein. He was a rather eccentric fellow, very smart of course, and I understand he was pretty good on the bongos too. He won the Nobel Prize for his work exploring some of the great mysteries of light. During a talk he was giving to a group of non-physics students about the nature of his work, he said this:
…It is my task to convince you not to turn away because you don’t understand it. You see my physics students don’t understand it… That is because I don’t understand it. Nobody does.
The flow of consciousness: the Christ-spirit
This morning I’d like to take you on a journey to the place where New Thought principles and physics converge and merge as One. It’s not the place where God resides. It IS God.
However, before we probe the subject of physics, we need to talk first about consciousness. At its source, consciousness is perfect, whole and pure. It’s the source of all energy in the universe, the sum total of all thought, all ideas and all possibilities now and forever. This is where our journey begins.
By whatever name you call it, consciousness is not a static thing. It flows. It flows from the realm of Oneness, through a channel created by your thoughts, into this physical realm where we experience life as human beings. If it were static, life wouldn’t exist. To illustrate, compare consciousness to electricity. When electricity stops flowing, it has no power, it’s only a potential. But when it flows, it lights the world.
When you flip the switch, break the current, stop the flow, the light goes out. The same thing happens with consciousness. And as it turns out, just like with electricity, it’s rather easy to slow the flow of consciousness. We do that with our human-level thoughts of fear and worry, anxiety, limitation and judgment. But when it flows, it creates. It expands and evolves the universe to higher levels of perfection, which is the direction the universe is always moving in.
The universe has a clear compulsion to evolve this way and it’s easy to see. From the age of the Big Bang 13.7 billion years ago to now, it’s evolved from a simple mass of hydrogen atoms into living, breathing, thinking beings that co-create with God. Think about it. And, it hasn’t stopped evolving. In fact, now that you’ve joined the process, it’s accelerating.
How Consciousness Enters the Physical Realm
God-consciousness enters the physical realm by flowing through your thoughts. As it flows, your ideas, feelings, opinions, moods, beliefs and judgments mold God-energy much as a lens bends light. In fact, I think of human-level thought not so much as thinking, but as a lens. You shape the energy into a form that’s understandable to other human beings. Then it flows on into the world around you in the physical form of your words and actions. This is how you create. The specific form you shape it into is completely up to you. However, in order to be co-creating with God, your thoughts and actions need to be in alignment. We’ll keep coming back to that.
New Thought Ideas
Let’s look at something Charles Fillmore, one of Unity’s co-founders, said.
Everything that appears in the universe had its origin in mind.
Note that he didn’t say “some things” or “most things.” He said, everything. This includes your physical presence and the experience of life you’re having right now in this present-moment.
Much of Fillmore’s work took place during the formative years of quantum physics in the early 20th Century and as those discoveries were being announced, he recognized their significance to New Thought spirituality. Anyone who’s read his books knows how extensively he commented on science. So did Ernest Holmes and many other New Thought teachers. Nevertheless, I was rather blown away (and delighted) when I found out that six years ago, the Dalai Lama published an autobiography about his lifelong investigation into the merging of science and spirituality. His book is titled, The Universe in a Single Atom: The Convergence of Science and Spirituality. In it, he said this:
I believe that spirituality and science are different
but complementary investigative approaches
with the same greater goal of seeking the Truth.
He also made this bold statement:
…spirituality must be tempered by the insights and discoveries of science. If as spiritual practitioners we ignore the discoveries of science, our practice is also impoverished, as this mind-set can lead to fundamentalism.
Quantum Physics and Cosmology
Quantum physics is the study of very, very small things. By contrast, cosmology is the branch of physics that studies the exceptionally large like the birth of the universe and its evolution.
As a young boy, I was fascinated by cosmology, even if I didn’t know what that term meant when I was just 10 or 11. A clear memory I have was laying on my back at night on the lawn outside the home where I grew up in north Seattle. The sky was crystal clear that night and my brother and I were gazing up at the expanse of brilliant stars laid out above us. I said to Richard, “I wonder if those stars go on forever.”
“They probably don’t,” he said.
“What do you suppose stops them? Is there a wall out there?”
I paused a long time and then said, “I wonder how thick it is.” I turned to him and added, “And, what do you suppose is on the other side?”
He didn’t take his eyes off the sky. He said, “Probably more stars.”
The Inner Boundary: Particles of Spacetime
In the years since that night, I’ve learned this: there’s not a boundary out there beyond the stars for the cosmologists to find. However, the physical universe definately does have a boundary that defines it’s limits. It was up to quantum physics to discover it because it’s at the scale of the smallest things. It’s an inner boundary. It’s within you and it’s within me. It’s within all things. This is, I think, the most important scientific discovery of all time.
It had its roots in this fact: quantum physics says that all things are made of particles; that they aren’t continuous as science had believed. What does this mean?
At the smallest sizes imaginable, everything, starting with light, is quantized, and that means they’re made of particles that cannot be subdivided. By the way, that’s how quantum physics got its name. At first glance, this news might not appear all that significant. After all, they’re so small, we’ll never be able to see them. However, the idea nonetheless revolutionized science and with it, life on this planet. For example, the discovery lead directly to everything digital including the cell phone in your pocket or purse.
Let’s consider energy. Light-energy is made of particles, each of which contains the smallest quantity of energy possible. There’s nothing new here; this has been known for a hundred years. You’ve no doubt heard of them. They’re called photons. But, the particle nature of things isn’t limited to light. It might shock you to learn that, according to quantum physics, space and time itself are also made of particles. This isn’t as generally well known. And, it’s a little bit more complicated. Nevertheless, let’s keep on our journey.
First, Einstein showed that space and time aren’t two things; they’re one, sort of like two sides of a coin. So we’re actually talking about particles of spacetime – one thing – not two things.
If you take a quantity of spacetime and cut in half and then in half again and again and again many, many times, you’ll eventually get to a point where you can’t make the next cut. You’ve reached one particle of spacetime. The reason you can’t cut again isn’t because the tool we’re using isn’t delicate enough. It’s because of what spacetime is.
These particles form that inner boundary of the physical universe we were talking about earlier. Physicists have a name for it. They call it the Planck length or Planck time, after the father of quantum physics, Max Planck. The sizes involved are incredibly small. In scientific shorthand, the Planck length is written 10-35 meters. Planck time is written 10-43 seconds. It’s the length of time light takes to move the Planck length.
Within these particles, there’s no movement. There’s no up or down, no big or little, no long or short. In terms of time, each particle is a frozen instant where time exists but doesn’t pass. Therefore, there’s no before, no after.
The End of Separation
This is the end of the physical universe because it’s the end of the separation that spacetime imparts on everything that’s on the physical side of the boundary. See, the hallmark characteristic of all physical things is that they need separation to exist. Spacetime is the separator. Space separates objects from one another; time separates events. (That, by the way, is the only thing space and time do.) Therefore, physical things can’t pass the boundary. However, thought can. It easily transcends the boundary because, as Fillmore said, all is mind. So our journey doesn’t have to stop here at the boundary. We can step lively cross it using our imaginations and when we do, we find ourselves immersed in the vast and unlimited field of consciousness.
Here in the Oneness, everything we’re used to continues to exist, but without separation. There’s a word we commonly use when we mean things that lack separation. Do you know what that word is? Ideas. Another word that fits is information. In fact, this is turning into a brand new field of study within physics.
There’s much more in consciousness than just what is. The realm also includes all that can be. It includes all possibilities now and forever and we have full and free access to all of it. You see, the flow of consciousness is not a one-way street. We can reach into this realm with our thoughts and doing so, we can choose which ideas we want to inflate into our future present-moments simply by using our thoughts powered by action – moving our feet – on the physical side. I call this process visioning and we’re always doing it whether we do it intentionally or not.
I remember the day a few years ago when I realized a person doesn’t need to know anything about quantum physics to understand that this inner boundary exists and that something truly magnificent is on the other side of it. Jesus discovered this 2000 years ago. You know what he called it, don’t you. Here’s what he said:
The kingdom of God cometh not with observation.
Neither shall they say, lo here! or, lo there!
for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you. -Luke 17:20-21
How could he have been more clear?
Life Experiences are Quantized too
All this leads to what I think are inescapable conclusions about what our experience of life really is, and it’s the central point of my message. Here in the physical realm, it’s not just space and time that are made of particles, everything contained in space and time must also be made of particles. Since your physical life is a spacetime experience, it too is quantized. Think about what this means.
It means that, at the most fundamental level, the experience of physical life is actually a series of individual, extremely brief events, short segments of experience if you will, rather like a snapshot. Each of them is your current present-moment. It’s Now. Then it goes away and an instant later it’s replaced by another. There’s a gap between them and that gap is God.
These segments of experience are small packages of ideas that have been inflated with separation and flow one at a time, in a perfect order, each slightly different than the one that came before it; slightly different from the one that comes after, following the pattern of our thoughts. Within each instant, there’s no motion, no passing of time. However, run together at the speed of Life, an experience of life emerges. It’s really quite amazing. A helpful analogy is a movie. They’re made of individual still images, aren’t they. They don’t contain space or time. Only by projecting them quickly on a screen does an illusion of movement and passing time show up.
This is what physical life actually is. But if that’s true, how in the world can we be aware of it? We’re aware of it only because we’re not the experience itself. We’re not those individual segments, those still images. We’re the observer just as we’re the observer at the theatre.
I hear someone near the back of the sanctuary thinking, then why doesn’t our experience feel like a movie? Good question. It’s because we have an incredible set of sensory tools (eyes and ears and so forth) imbedded in these bodies that leads to an astoundingly real illusion that we are these bodies. But we are not. Nor are we the chatter of these brains.
Analogy of a Car
Consider this analogy: If my eyes were the headlights of an automobile and my ears were its horns and my sense of touch and feeling were somehow impeded in the metallic finish of the car, after a while living like that I’d probably think I’m a car, especially if it began when I was born. Then someone comes along and says, “Doug, you’re not a car. You’re dreaming. Wake up!” I protest, “Of course I’m a car. When I see, I’m clearly looking out through these headlights. That proves I’m the car. What’s more, when I’m in a parking lot and another car opens its door into my side, bang! Ouch! That hurts! How can you say I’m not the car. Of course I am.”
Alas, we have a high enough perspective to know we’re not cars. Our perspectives needs to be high enough to realize we are not our bodies either.
When we realize this, we can then also realize that nothing that happens out here in the physical world can bring us harm.
We’re totally protected. And when we know that, we can continue on this journey of life without as much fear and worry about what’s going to happen next or what won’t.
We can put our trust in Life itself and the evolution of the universe to higher levels of perfection with the certain knowledge that we will be carried with it following the pattern of our thoughts to higher levels of perfection – as long as we keep ourselves in alignment.
And as we do, that subtle state of anxiety that sometimes drifts like a cloud through our daily experience will simply blow away.
A Practical Application
Is there something we can do with this knowledge of how the universe works to make life happier, more joyous, more abundant? Yes, I believe there is. There are a number of ways. Here’s just one: I use it to quickly get back into alignment with the universe whenever I realize I’ve fallen out.
You see, once in a while I have troublesome thoughts. Does that ever happen to anyone else? I’m grateful they don’t happen with near the frequency they used to, but it happens. Sometimes they might arise out of self-doubt. Or, they might involve judgment of what someone else said or did. Or, perhaps it was due to my reaction to some condition, situation or circumstance in the world around me. Whatever. When it happens, it’s time to get myself aligned so that the Christ-spirit can flow freely through me once again.
My first step is to pause and acknowledge the thoughts. This is necessary. Then I remind myself what this physical experience really is and that it’s only because my true self isn’t part of it that I can be aware of it in the first place. I’m observing it. Even though the good in the situation might not be apparent to my human self, I know in my heart that what’s happening is part of the evolution of the universe and it is good.
Then I forgive, starting with myself. I forgive myself for forgetting the Truth and for taking life a little too seriously.
And then I forgive anyone else who might be in these troublesome thoughts. After all, they’re living life and like me, they’re doing the best they can with it even if they’re not living it to my expectations. But that doesn’t matter. I might not be living up to theirs either.
I should add parenthetically, none of what I’m saying here means that I won’t take action if that’s what’s called for. I will and I do. But fear will not be the force that motivates me. I’ll be driven only by love to do something that blesses all those around me including myself.
My last step is this: I recall the words of the 13th Century poet, Rumi, when he said,
This place is a dream.
Only a sleeper considers it real.
Then death comes like a dawn
and you wake up laughing
at what you thought was your grief.
And then I wake myself up and begin laughing out loud!
Thank you for the opportunity to share some of these ideas with you. I hope you found something here interesting, thought provoking and more importantly, useful. If you did, my prayers have been answered. Blessings to each of you. Namaste.