Seeing Past The Edge*
An Original Work of Non-fiction
By: David G. Yurth
All Rights Reserved
Looking For Simple, Elegant Solutions
Experience Is Only Half Experience
A Journey of Discovery
In these pages we embark on a journey of discovery together. While we are at it, we are going to re-ask some of the BIG questions which have framed the age of science as we know it. We reframe our questions to take advantage of a kit of wonderful new tools which have been devised by some of the most creative and intuitive geniuses of modern times. In short, we are going to re-examine what we think we know in a broader context, so we can make some cogent choices about where to begin the next phase of our search for answers about the Universe.
I have always subscribed to the notion that the answer to any question is implicit in the context and structure of the question itself. I am convinced that if we are to have any reasonable expectation of making sense of what we experience, including a long and troublesome list of scientifically documented phenomena which simply do not fit any of the best models modern science can devise, we must begin by reconsidering the way we ask our questions. If we are to harbor any realistic notions about getting answers which really matter, we must review the data we gather, regardless of its source, without preconceived prohibitions. This is the essence of what Ken Wilber refers to as integral science.[i]
This process of re-framing, of reconstructing the context which governs the way we interact with the world, is tantamount to altering the way we “see.” In the broadest sense, this is what Seeing Past The Edge is all about. In the instant we attempt to go beyond the Edge, beyond that place where a more powerful microscope or larger telescope can no longer provide any useful information, we run headlong into the first of a long list of difficult, perhaps impossible, challenges.
At the outset, we are forced to recognize that we cannot trust what we see with our natural eyes, nor can we trust the way our intelligence interprets our experience.[ii] The human experience is all about processing information – all our systems are configured to receive, process and find meaning in the stream of information which flows through and around us. And depending on where we find ourselves along the evolutionary path represented by the Spiral Levels enfolded into the Great Chain of Being, our point of view will inevitably skew the way we interpret our experience.
Experience is Only Half Experience
It is true that “…all experience is only half experience.”[iii] Except perhaps through the disciplined practice of some disciplines of metaphysics, where consciousness finds release by operating temporarily without direct reliance on the physical senses, human consciousness experiences nothing of the world around us directly. The architecture of our physical equipment provides an interface between our conscious awareness and the world as it is, at all scales or quadrants. Our experience of reality is therefore colored by the way we are physically architected.
Until we learn to recognize and accommodate this aspect of our makeup, we will continue to allow some serious errors in judgment to color the way we frame our questions and interpret the answers we obtain. In order to really understand what makes the world operate as it does, we are compelled to find ways to eliminate the information errors which are introduced into our experience by the architecture of our sensing and information processing equipment. To do this, we have to understand what those limitations are and how they work.
The effects of these errors in judgment can be categorical. We sometimes despair at the extent to which our ability to understand is limited by our physicality. Because we experience the world around us in terms of contrasts, we are compelled to believe certain things about our experience which are simply not accurate. This is the basis of the intriguing puzzles we are faced with.
It is the nature of the human condition that we are not content to simply process information. We are not simply survival mechanisms.[iv] A unique aspect of our humanness is the irresistible compulsion to attribute meaning to our experience. We have developed some exceedingly clever strategies for aggregating information into orderly, meaningful lots. As a community, in the broadest sense, we are driven by an irresistible compulsion to understand why life works the way it does. This drives us collectively in our quest for meaning
The Myth of Detachment
The sensory facilities architected into the human condition are so complex in their many levels of functionality that we cannot hope to understand them by simply observing the functional processes and the physical equipment by themselves, in isolation. We cannot understand them alone by examining them alone because they do not operate in isolation from each other.[v] Instead, we have to find a way to see past the processes and physical organs themselves in order to discover the dynamic forces which govern the way they function together. If we can get a firm grip on this level of insight, if we can understand the rules, relationships and dynamics which cause information to operate as it does in the human condition, in us and around us, then perhaps we will have found a revolutionary new vantage point from which to assess how Nature works.
Where shall we begin? At which point in the cycle of this merry-go-round we call the human condition do we step off? How do we achieve a level of detachment from which to acquire an undistorted view of the way the Cosmos works? If what we think we know about such things is accurate, even if we can find a way to incorporate all our information gathering and processing functions into a cohesive whole, there is probably no way any of us can become truly detached. When we engage in any practices which seek total detachment, we enter the realm of the mystical. Interestingly enough, quantum physics and the mystical traditions tell us the same thing – we are each an intrinsic component of the fabric of the Cosmos and cannot, in any real sense, extricate ourselves from it.[vi]
What is compelling about this comparison is that modern science seeks to evaluate the Cosmos in a state of arbitrarily defined and artificially imposed detachment by dismantling the cosmos into its constituent parts. Throughout the ages, mystics have attempted to comprehend the nature of the Universe by training their physical equipment to deliberately experience a state of detachment which merges all sensory input into a state of undifferentiated unity. Later on, we’ll define our approach to this consideration by relying on the recent work of Francisco Varela[vii], Anatoly Akimov[viii], V. Kaznacheev[ix] and others as our point of departure.
For the moment, we recognize a simple baseline axiom – it is impossible to separate the human attribute we call consciousness from the effect it exerts on the world around us. The role of consciousness is not passive.[x] This is no longer an abstruse, isolated notion. The act of observation exerts a demonstrable, measurable, repeatable effect on everything we observe.
The act of processing information, of observing, thinking and intending, exerts an effect on that which is being considered.[xi][xii] The act of observing simply cannot be separated in any meaningful way from the means of observation nor from that which is being observed. Later on, we will closely examine the breakthrough work of Alain Aspect, John Wheeler, Dean Radin, Dale Graff and others who have experimentally validated some important aspects of the mind-matter connection.
Physicist David Bohm intuited this feature of the fields which interpenetrate the Cosmos when he wrote,
“We’re all connected through and operate within living fields of thought and perception.the point,” he said, “is that we are all linked by a fabric of unseen connections, and those fields are influenced by our intention and ways of being.”[xiii]
In 1964, a Swiss physicist named J.S. Bell, advanced a theorem which has come to be known as Bell’s Theorem[xiv]. Bell’s theorem predicted that the exercise of choice by an observer would eventually be demonstrated to exert a fundamental effect on the way sub-atomic particles manifest themselves while being observed. Eight years later, French physicist Alain Aspect and his team at the University of Paris experimentally proved that Bell’s prediction was quite correct. This is one of the most profound discoveries of all time because it establishes with categorical certainty the mind-matter connection. One of our biggest challenges is to discover how this connection operates.
Bell’s Theorem also predicted that matched pairs of sub-atomic particles, called positron-electron pairs, whose polarity, spin and other attributes are perfectly matched, would instantaneously readjust themselves if the attributes of one were to be altered by some outside force, such as an electro-magnetic field, regardless of how far apart they might be separated from one another. This prediction had to wait until 1997 to be verified[xv].
A team of physicists at the CERN particle accelerator facility in Geneva, Switzerland, led by Dr. Nicolas Gisin, demonstrated that there is a field which conveys information throughout our universe instantaneously, regardless of time or distance, at least 109 times faster than C, the speed of light. This is our entry point – this is where we penetrate the problem to establish a new vantage point. This is, indeed, the Edge of our current understanding about primary fields and field theory.
The Role of Complementarity in Information Processing
Before we jump to any conclusions about what this means, however, let’s first consider an important aspect of our search for meaning. It is known in the language of quantum physics as complementarity. In our culture, in the English-speaking culture of North America and in many of the European cultures from which it originated, the way we have become accustomed to framing our questions is dramatically effected by the process of enculturation.[xvi] In the West, our notions about how the world works, that is, the context within which we attribute meaning to the things we observe, is bounded by a set of concepts which have been relied on for two hundred fifty years, since the work of Rene Descartes and Sir Isaac Newton. These concepts form the bedrock of the scientific method. The conceptual flaws which characterize this contextual set is illustrative of the nature and magnitude of the challenges associated with our attempts to extract meaning from our experience.
Complementarity is an attribute intrinsic to every aspect of the world we live in because it is a fundamental aspect of information itself[xvii]. As a point of reference, it is reasonable to say that complementarity is that aspect of quantum systems which marries seemingly irreconcilable opposites together into an inseparable whole. For example, Alain Aspect’s experiments demonstrated that an electron carries all the attributes of wave form, energy quanta and particles with measurable mass, at the same time. An electron carries the information which characterizes all of these seemingly mutually distinct attributes at the same time, and manifests each or all of them on an as-needed basis.
To our rational minds this simply doesn’t make sense. Even though it cannot be visualized, it is nevertheless true. When we reach the point at which we attempt to iron the distortions out of the information we are analyzing, an understanding of this aspect of information theory becomes indispensable.
For the purpose of clarity, let’s begin at the beginning of the modern scientific era. When the French philosopher Rene’ Descartes began examining the way the world works, he concluded that the world is comprised of two distinctly different kinds of “stuff.” He characterized them as physical stuff and “spiritual stuff”.[xviii] His notion about such things was that “physical stuff” and “spiritual stuff” are so primarily distinct that they are mutually exclusive; that is, they are separate kinds of stuff which have nothing whatever to do with each other, except as directed by God and as allowed by his turf deal with the Catholic church.
Based on this notion, he also concluded that the Universe operates as a clockwork mechanism, made up of discrete bits and pieces, which can be assembled and disassembled in the same way and to the same extent as any other kind of machine. His thesis was that if we can find all the bits and figure out how to disassemble them, we will be able to understand everything there is to know about the Cosmos. At the time, it was a revolutionary idea, so elegant in its simplicity that it was irresistible. Even though we now know Descartes was very much mistaken in this notion, the result of his hypothesis continues to exert a profound influence on the way we examine these issues today.
Sir Isaac Newton crossed the conceptual bridge provided by Copernicus and Descartes when he wrote a book which has never been rivaled in its brilliance, entitled Principia.[xix] This conceptual masterpiece became the cornerstone of differential calculus and the bedrock of classical physics. With it, Newton succeeded in creating a kind of orderliness which had not existed in human considerations before. Descartes’ separation of stuff and Newton’s laws of motion and gravitation created the fundamental basis for the scientific method we use today.
Perhaps more important was the agreement among “scientists” (natural philosophers) which denied the possibility that anything observable could be caused or affected by any non-material influence. The notion that “spirit stuff” could not exert any real influence on the material world has become so powerfully embedded in our collective Western psyche that mediums were imprisoned in England as recently as World War II, when things they “saw”, which were afterwards physically verified in the field, were not deemed possible by conventional scientific standards.
The notion that “physical stuff” and “spirit stuff” are distinct and mutually exclusive propelled the entire Western world into the industrial age and was relied on as the key to unlocking the mysteries of the Universe. This trend continued unabated until Max Planck, Niels Bohr, Werner Heisenberg, Albert Einstein and others developed a new set of revolutionary insights to accommodate many of the anomalies which could not be explained by classical Newtonian physics.
Today, two and a half centuries after Descartes, we are both the beneficiaries of their extraordinary genius and the victims of their conceptual limitations. As a result, we find ourselves in territory Ken Wilber has called the Flatland.[xx] Because Descartes and Newton [and those who followed them] believed that “spirit stuff” could be entirely excluded from the process of inquiry, they succeeded in isolating some of the gross mechanical components of the material world into discrete categories – solids, gases and liquids; animal, vegetable and mineral; chromosome, DNA strand, genome address, and so on. Methods of scientific classification and identification were developed so that the sub-sets of each of the more gross categories of things could be separated from one another and evaluated separately.
Reduction of the Universe to mechanical simplicity and separation of its stuff into smaller and smaller components has become the order of the day. Witness, for example, the media attention given to the much heralded Human Genome Project[xxi]. As a society, we are still deeply invested in the notion that by reducing the constituents of DNA to their genome addresses, we may really know something about how DNA works. Recent Russian research illustrates how seriously flawed this line of reasoning is. In the process, we have succeeded in narrowing our collective focus to include only a fraction of the information which is really available. This is the reason many of our notions about how the world works are so narrowly defined and arbitrarily skewed.
After two and a half centuries of thinking and acting in this way, we have come to understand intuitively that separateness is an intrinsic attribute of the Cosmos. More importantly, the idea of separateness has become so embedded in our nature, in our language and culture and, therefore, in the context within which we automatically attribute meaning to our experience, that we interpret virtually everything we experience from the vantage point of separation and other-ness.
We don’t consciously think about it – we just do it.[xxii] This response to our experience is so automatic that it is almost impossible to escape the conceptual limitations associated with such basic ideas as “this or that,” “mine or yours,” “here or there,” “theirs or ours” “now or then” and so on. Our whole way of interpreting our experience is couched in terms of duality, largely as a result of the way we have learned to view it, and not necessarily because that is the way it really is. Indeed, if we consider such things in terms of complementarity, the “or” becomes “and”, a condition of simultaneity rather than exclusivity.
We are beginning to recognize the extent to which this limited way of “seeing” limits the way we interpret our human experience. When we attempt to step back and reframe our inquiries in terms that take us past the erroneous notions embedded in the context of mutual exclusivity, we find ourselves on ground which is altogether foreign to the Western mind. In order to even have the discussion, we are compelled to recognize that the tools at our disposal are somewhat primitive.
It is now quite clear that our method of assessing our experience, the way we collect and evaluate information, distorts our perception because it provides us with
(1) information which is incomplete and seriously skewed by our cultural filters;
(2) information which is limited by the conceptual context (e.g., Wilber’s meme) from within which we view the world;
(3) information which is limited by the linguistic tools we use to communicate with each other;
(4) information which is unavoidably limited by our inability and unwillingness to integrate information found in one privileged source with that which is provided by other sources which are not ideologically acceptable, and
(5) information which we simply do not comprehend.
The Role of Ambiguity in Communication
Communicating meaning is an exercise in limiting ambiguity.[xxiii] Ambiguity is an intrinsic, inseparable component of all means of communication devised by humans and is an intrinsic property of complementarity.[xxiv] We have to recognize it, understand how it operates and learn to deal with it because it cannot, by definition, be eliminated from any of the processes associated with human perception and communication. Each level of the information gathering process evidences the limitations we have identified.
The process itself operates with a set of filters which are defined by a common set of underlying perceptual, cultural and linguistic dynamics. One of the greatest discoveries of our time is that the dynamics which govern the way information operates in the Cosmos appear to be universally consistent, operating in every manifestation of everything in and around us at all scales.[xxv] This insight provides invaluable clues to the nature and behavior of the dynamic forces which operate at the baseline of the causal plane.
In order to understand what dynamic forces operate at the interface between the causal plane and our space-time dimension, we begin with what has come to be referred to in the literature as the Vedic Model of the Unified Field.[xxvi] Recent work by Dr. John Hagelin of M.I.T.[xxvii], Per Bak of Brookhaven National Laboratories and London University[xxviii], Brian Greeene,[xxix] Anatoly Akimov[xxx], and V. Kaznacheev[xxxi] and their colleagues at PERM University, are illustrative.[xxxii]
The point is simply this: human perception and expression are an intrinsic part of the problem – they are manifestations of the attributes of complementarity which are also intrinsic to the human condition. Expression and perception are controlled and defined at the most fundamental level by a common set of perceptual and information processing filters. The limitations of human perception and expression are hardwired into the architecture of human physicality and, therefore, cannot be studied separately as simply physical functions. The “mind” is no more a computer than the Universe is a clockwork mechanism. So long as we allow ourselves to believe that Descartes’ “spiritual stuff” is really separable from the physical component of the human experience, we will continue to make the mistake of interpreting our experience in the fundamentally limited context of a 17th century paradigm.
Today, as a community, Western science has altogether failed to accommodate the relationships between our physical experience and our consciousness. In this context, because of the way we have framed our inquiries in the past, consciousness, Descartes’ “spiritual stuff”, has altogether been excluded from the scientific method of inquiry. This is a serious issue – if we are to build a bridge to a deeper level of understanding, we are compelled to carefully re-examine the philosophical underpinnings of the scientific method and make some important adjustments to the way we conduct our research in the future.
[i] Wilber, K., Theory of Everything, loc.cit.
[ii] Edelman, G. Bright Air, Brilliant Fire: On the Matter of the Mind, HarperCollins Publishers, New York (1992)
[iii] Greenfield, Susan A. The Human Brain: A Guided Tour, HarperCollins, New York (1997).
[iv] Varela, F.J. The Embodied Mind: Cognitive Science and Human Experience (1993) MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass.
[v] Capra, F. The Turning Point: Science, Society and the Rising Culture. Bantam/ Simon & Schuster, New York (1982).
[vi] Kafatos, M., Nadeau, R. The Conscious Universe, Springer-Verlag New York, Inc., (1990) in which the authors make a compelling case for this aspect of human experience – that detachment is simply not possible in the general context of the human condition.
[vii] Varela, F.J. Sleeping, Dreaming and Dying: An Exploration of Consciousness with the Dalai Lama Wisdom Publications (1997).
[viii] Akimov, A. etal, “Heuristic Discussion of the Problem of Finding Long Range Interactions, EGS-Concepts,” Journal of New Energy News, Winter 1997, Vol.2, No. 3-4, pages 59-80, including 177 studies, references and suggested readings.
[ix] Kaznacheev, V. etal, “Soliton-Holographic Genome with Collective Symmetrical Genetic Code,” IKEM SO AMN SSSR Pub; Novosibirsk. Preprint (1990) [in Russian].
[x] Sheldrake, R. Seven Experiments That Could Change The World: A Do-it Yourself Guide to Revolutionary Science, Riverhead Books, Inc. NY (1995) ISBN: 1-57322-14-0. See also Bishop, J., Waldholz, M., Genome: The Story of Our Astonishing Attempt to Map All the Genes in the Human Body, Touchstone, Simon & Schuster, NY (1990) ISBN: 0-671-67094-8.
[xi] I recommend selected reading into the works of Alain Aspect and his team at the University of Paris. See A. Aspect, P. Grangier, G. Roger, Physical Review Letters, 1981, 47, p. 460 etal .
[xii] Wheeler, J.A. Einstein’s Vision, Springer-Verlag, 1968, page 112. See also A. Dolgov, Yu. Zel’dovdich, M. Sazhin, Cosmology of the Early Universe, MGU Publ., Moscow 1988, page 200 (in Russian). See also M. Lavrent’ev et al, On Remote Action of Stars on Resistor, Doklady AN SSSR, 1990, vol 314, no 2, page 352 (in Russian). See also A. Pugach, A. Akimov, “Astronomical Observations by N. Kozyrev’s Methodology: Preliminary Results,” in the press (in Russian).
[xiii] Bohm, D. Wholeness and the Implicate Order, Ark Paperbacks, Routledge & Kegan Paul, plc, 1980.
[xiv]. Bell, John S. Physics, 1964, vol. 1, page 195.
[xv] Dr. Gisin and his team borrowed fiber optic phone lines running from Geneva to two nearby villages. In Geneva, they shone photons into a potassium-niobate crystal, which split each photon into a pair of less energetic photons, traveling in opposite directions – one north toward Bellevue and the other southwest to Bernex. At these two destinations, nearly seven miles apart, each photon was fed into a detector. When the attributes of one positron were altered at the point of detection by an electro-magnetic field, the other positron instantaneously adjusted its characteristics to accommodate it. This experiment, which has been successfully repeated many times, proves beyond question two important things: First, we live in a quantum realm, where common sense cannot be relied on to interpret data and, second, that there is an interpenetrating field which conveys information at least 109 times faster than the speed of light everywhere in the known Universe.
[xvi] Korzybsky Alfred, Science and Sanity: an Introduction to Non-Aristotelian Systems and General Semantics 5th Edition, Institute of General Semantics (1995).
[xvii] Varela, F.J. The Embodied Mind: Cognitive Science and Human Experience MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass (1993).
[xviii] Descartes, ibid.
[xix] Newton, I. Principia, ibid.
[xx] Wilber, K., A Theory of Everything, ibid.
[xxi] Bishop, J., Waldholz, M., Genome: The Story of Our Astonishing Attempt to Map All the Genes in the Human Body, ibid.
[xxii] Campbell, J. (1982) Grammatical Man: Information, Entropy, Language and Life, Simon and Schuster, New York.
[xxiv] This is the reason, for example, that as mathematical expressions become more and more precise, they also become less and less relevant. The converse of this is also true – as information becomes more and more relevant, it also becomes less precise. This is an implicate attribute of all forms of human expression. The functions of information theory which seek to limit ambiguity without sacrificing relevance, have proven to be of limited value because the formulations of information theory are grounded in terms of singular absolutes which affirmatively deny the quantum nature of language.
[xxv] Bak, P. How Nature Works, loc. cit.
[xxvi] Akimov, A.E., “An Heuristic Discussion of an Issue of a Discovery of New Long Distance Interactions,” EGS-Concepts. MNTC VENT, pre-print N7A, page 63 (in Russian); Akimov, Shipov, “Torsion Fields And Their Experimental Manifestations,” Journal of New Energy, Vol. 2, No. 2, page 68, (Summer 1997).
[xxvi] Akimov, A.E. Shipov, G.I. “Torsion Fields And Their Experimental Manifestations,” J. New Energy, vol 2, no 2, 1997. See also V. Bunin, “Latest Problems of Gravitation in the Light of Classical Physics,” abstracts of papers of the 4th Astrogeological Workshop of the Geographical Society under the USSR Academy of Sciences, Leningrad, 1962, page 88 (in Russian). See also, V. Bunin, “Unified Gravitational Equations of Mathematical Physics,” author’s abstract of MIOP section, 1965, vol 1, no 4 (in Russian). See also V. Dubrovsky, “Elastic Model of Physical Vacuum,” DAN USSR, vol 282, no 1, 1985 (in Russian). V. Dubrovsky, “Elastic Model of a Physical Vacuum,” DAN USSR, vol 282, no 1, 1985 (in Russian).Maharishi Model #33
[xxvii] Hagelin, J. Is Consciousness the Unified Field? A Field Theorist’s Perspective, Maharishi International University, Fairfield, Iowa, (1989).
[xxviii] Bak, P., loc.cit.
[xxix] Greene, B., The Elegant Universe, ibid.
[xxx] Akimov etal, “Heuristic Discussion of the Problem of Finding Long Range Interactions, EGS-Concepts,” Journal of New Energy News, Winter 1997, Vol.2, No. 3-4, pages 59-80, including 177 studies, references and suggested readings.
[xxxi] Kaznacheev etal, “Soliton-Holographic Genome with Collective Symmetrical Genetic Code,” IKEM SO AMN SSSR Pub; Novosibirsk. Preprint (1990) [in Russian].
[xxxii] Yurth, D. “Variations on the Maharishi Model: An Integration of Consciousness and the Unified Field, Proceedings of the 5th Annual Symposium of the International New Energy Society, Journal of New Energy, Vol. 4, No. 2, Summer 1999. ISSN: 1086-8259. See also, www.altenergy.org/ine-99/INE.html for access to the proceedings and video clips of the presentations.