The following is excerpted from Dawn of the Akashic Age: New Consciousness, Quantum Resonance, and the Future of the World, published by Inner Traditions.
The New Paradigm in Science: What It Is
Albert Einstein captured the objective of scientists in his well-known saying that scientists seek the simplest possible scheme that can tie together the facts they observe. This phrase encapsulates the quintessence of the project of fundamental science. Fundamental science is neither technology, nor discovery: it is understanding. This is of great practical relevance. When our understanding of reality matches the nature of reality, we discover more and more about the reality that underlies our life. We then have a greater ability to cope with our own place and role in the scheme of life. Understanding is fundamental.
Genuine science seeks the scheme that can convey comprehensive, consistent, and optimally simple understanding. That scheme is not established once and for all; it needs to be periodically updated. The observed facts grow with time and become more diverse. Tying them together in an optimally simple yet comprehensive scheme calls for revising and occasionally reinventing that scheme. In recent years, the repertoire of observed facts has grown and has become highly diverse. We need a new scheme: a new paradigm.
This is how science evolves: through alternating phases of what philosopher of science Thomas Kuhn called normal science and revolutionary science. Paradigm shifts are radical. Normal science treads water: it is only marginally innovative. It ties together the observed facts within an established scheme that is validated by consensus. If it encounters observations that do not fit that scheme, it extends and adjusts that scheme. This, however, is not always possible. If the attempt is not relinquished, the dominant scheme becomes unmanageably complex and opaque, as Ptolemaic astronomy did through the constant addition of epicycles to its basic cycles to account for the anomalous movement of the planets. When, in the growth of science, that critical point is reached, it is time to take a radical step.
The dominant scheme must be scrutinized, discarded, and replaced. A new paradigm must be found to ground the theories and interpret the observations that support them.
In the natural sciences, a paradigm-shift point has now been reached. A number of unexpectedand, for the current paradigm, critically -anomalousobservations have surfaced.
The series of critically anomalous observations can be traced to experimental findings that came to light in the early 1980s. A paper by French physicists Alain Aspect and collaborators reported on an experiment carried out under rigorously controlled conditions. This experiment was suggested by Einstein nearly half a century earlier. It involves splitting a particle and projecting the split halves some finite distance apart. Then some measurements are to be made on the distant halves. According to the uncertainty principle put forward by Erwin Schrödinger, we cannot observe all aspects of a particle at the same time; when we observe some, the others become blurred or go on to infinity.
Einstein suggested that we can overcome this limitation by making observations on the split halves. If we can observe some of the parameters on certain ones and some on the others, we would observe both, and have overcome the strange limitations encapsulated in Schrödingers principle. Aspect and collaborators managed to test the physical reality of this assumption and came up with a strange finding. It turned out that the split halves remain instantaneously connected over any finite distance. When we take a measurement on one half, it is as if we would have made that measurement on the other. The uncertainty principle holds even across spaceand because the signal that connects the halves is instantaneous, it also holds over time. This, however, contradicts Einsteins own relativity theory, which holds that the maximum speed of propagation of anything across space is the speed of light.
Aspects experiment was repeated, and always produced the same result. The scientific community was baffled, but finally dismissed the phenomenon as not having any deep significance: the entanglement of the split particles, physicists said, is strange, but it does not convey information or do anything. But this, too, was called into question in subsequent experiments. It turned out that the quantum state of particles, and even of whole atoms, can be instantly projected across any finite distance. This came to be known as teleportation. Then instant quantum–resonance-based interactions were discovered in living systems, and even in the universe at large.
A related anomalous fact came to light in regard to the level and form of coherence found in complex systems. The observed coherence suggests nonlocal interaction between the parts or elements of the systemsinteraction that transcends the recognized bounds of space and time. This kind of interaction surfaced not only in the quantum domain but, surprisingly, at the macroscopic level as well.
Yet another finding, inexplicable by the current paradigm, is that organic molecules are produced in stars. The received wisdom is that the universe is a physical system in which life is, if not an anomalous, at least a rare and most likely accidental phenomenon. After all, living systems can evolve only under conditions that are extremely rare in space and time. However, it turned out that the basic substances on which life is based are already produced in the evolution of stars. These are organic molecules, synthesized in the fiery process of stellar evolution and then ejected into surrounding space. They coat asteroids and clumps of interstellar matter, including those that subsequently fuse into stars and planets. It appears that the universe is remarkably well-tuned for life: its basic physical processes produce the very substances required for the evolution of living systems.
Observations of this kind are not amenable to being tied together by patching up the dominant scheme: they challenge not only the maximum velocity of effect propagation* in space, but our understanding of the most basic processes in nature. They call into question the paradigm of the Late Modern Age: the basic scheme by which contemporary scientists tie together the observed facts.
*Effect-propagation is the transmission of a physical effect, such as heat or kinetic energy, from an open point in space or timethe causeto another, which is the effect produced by the cause.
This is not the first revolution to rock science. An analogous revolution took place at the turn of the twentieth century, with the shift from the Newtonian to the relativity paradigm, and again in the 1920s with the advent of quantum theory. More limited revolutions have unfolded in specific domains since then, among them in psychology, with the emergence of transpersonal theories, and in cosmology, with the advent of nonBig Bang, multicyclical-universe models.
The next revolution promises to be even more fundamental. Relativity theory changed our notions of space and time, but the strange relativistic effects came to light only at speeds approaching that of light. The quantum revolution seemed to affect only the supersmall world in nature. The everyday world did not and does not seem to be affected by these revolutionary findings. But this limitation will not hold in the next paradigm shift. The new paradigm affects everything we see and know in and about the world.
What is the new paradigm? Grasping it calls for a veritable Gestalt switch. We normally think of the things we experience as real, and the space that embeds them as empty and passive, a mere abstraction. We need to turn this around. It is the space that embeds things that is real, and the things that take place in space that are secondary. They are the manifestations of space. More precisely, they constitute the underlying generative and interconnecting matrix that fills space.
This concept emerges from the findings of cutting-edge physics. Space, quantum physicists now realize, is not empty and passive; it is a filled and active plenum, even though physicists still refer to it as the quantum vacuum. In the emerging view, space is the ground, and the things we know as real things in the world are the figures on the ground. They are figures not just on a ground; they are figures of the ground. The things we consider real are manifestations of spacemanifestations of the cosmic matrix that fills space.
There is a good metaphor for this concept of the world. Think of waves traveling over the surface of the sea. When you look at the surface, you see waves moving toward the shore, waves spreading out behind ships, waves colliding with waves. The waves move from one point on the sea toward another, yet there is nothing in the sea that would move that way: the molecules of water on the surface do not move from one place to another, they just move up and down. The motion of the waves is an -illusionan illusion not in the sense that there would be nothing that would correspond to it, but in that it is not what it appears to be. The waves travel across the surface of the sea, but the water of the sea does not travel.
The same applies to the motion of things in space. Things do not move across or over space, they move in, or more precisely within, space. They are conveyed by space. Space is not empty and passive: everything that exists in the world exists within the dimension of the world we call space.
The vision the emerging paradigm gives us is very different from the still-dominant vision. The world that meets our eye is not an illusion, but it is not what it appears to be, either. The real world is not an arena of separate things moving across intervening space. All things are part of that matrix, and are conveyed in and by the matrix. The bare existence of things is not the illusion; their separateness is. All things are in and of the matrix, and in the final count are one with the matrix.
Fantastic? Noits science: quantum science. This world is a giant quantum system where all things, and not only supersmall, quantum things, are entangled, intrinsically and instantly interconnected. Recognizing this is vital for our own well-being and for the survival of the whole of humanity. But first a word on what this concept does to our habitual picture of the world.
The New Paradigm in Science: What It Means for Our Life and Times
Why is this new paradigm of such importance in regard to the thinking we need in our crisis-prone but rapidly evolving world? The answer is, first and foremost, because it gives us a sense of belonging. We are not separate individuals, pursuing our destiny in a strange, indifferent, and often hostile world. We belong to the world, and, in the final analysis, we are one with the world.
The Akashic paradigm turns our current picture of the world on its head. In the everyday context, we think that the things we see are real, and the space that embeds them is empty and passive. We now turn this around. It is the space that embeds things that is real, and the things that move about in space that are secondary. This is the deep dimension of the world the ancient rishis called Akasha. Their intuition is now confirmed at the cutting edge of the sciences.
The new Akashic paradigm is a holistic paradigm. All things interact with all other things, and all things are what they are through their interactions. Wholeness is the essence of the new concept of reality. The world is a coherent whole, made up of parts or elements coherently related each to the other.
The idea of coherence is fundamental. In any system, whether it is a molecule, a mouse, a human being, or a galaxy, the parts are finely tuned to one another: they respond to each other and to the rest of the world as one. They are instantly coherent. Life would not be possible in the absence of such coherence, nor would any other complex system. Ecologies need to be coherent to persist, and the web of life itself needs to be coherent. Only the societies of humans can exist in a state of partial incoherence, but they, too, cannot exist in that state for long. Incoherence in a system is unsustainable. It is at the root of the unsustainability of the human world in our time.
The holistic Akashic paradigm gives important guidance for us both individually and collectively. This guidance is based on the recognition that, since the coherence of the whole is a precondition of the functioning of the parts, maintaining the coherence of the whole is fundamental in sustaining a balanced system. When it comes to human beings, it is the goodthat is, the right, the wise way to act and to be.
Coherence is not a purely individual attribute. The right way to act, and to be, is not merely to enhance our own, individual coherence, but to contribute to the coherence of the systems that sustain our life. This means safeguarding our coherence with our community, with the whole human community, and with the web of life that frames the whole human community. It calls for cooperationembracing, systemwide cooperation.
Maintaining our individual coherence calls for cooperation between the cells and organs that make up our body. Despite the diversity of our cells and organsindeed, because of and through their diversitywe can perform the almost miraculous feat of maintaining ourselves in lifes inherently unstable state far from equilibrium. This feat is achieved because in a healthy organism all cells and organs are effectively and precisely coordinated. Any breakdown in coordination is a sign of weakness, a prelude to disease.
A healthy organism is organically coherent, with all its parts tuned together to maintain the system in its environment. But for achieving and maintaining organic coherence, coherence with others and with nature is sine qua non. Health for a living system requires both internal and external coherence.
In todays world, external coherence is highly constrained: many -people act as if they were separate from the world around them. They behave as if the world and they were categorically distinct and different. This is an error, and it has grave consequences. People who feel they are separate are prone to treat others and their environment as a means to satisfy their own ends and aspirations without regard for the health and well-being of others, disregarding the coherence of the system that supports life on the planet. This is a dangerous condition. Species that possess a higher nervous system cannot follow this dangerous paththey are more intrinsically connected with the world around them and cannot sever or ignore their web of connections. We, on the other hand, can fail to recognize our ties with each other and with nature and entertain the illusion of separateness.
Recognizing the paramount importance of coherence is a key to our individual health and well-being, as well as to the survival of our species. The Akashic paradigm highlights this fact, not as an arbitrary moral command, but as the basic law of life and existence in the biosphere. It gives us a consistent view of ourselves, of nature, and of the cosmos. It is a key to recovering the harmony that traditional people felt with each other and with their environment.
We have lost our sense of oneness, but have not lost it irrevocably. With the new vision that emerges at the cutting edge of the sciences, we can lend credence to our suppressed but still vital sense of oneness and belonging: this is not an illusion. When all is said and done, we are truly one with each other, with the biosphere, and with the cosmos.
Teaser image by geometrics, courtesy of Creative Commons license.