Thursday, October 6, 2011

Densities and Subtleties

In the last post I called our material order dense and others (beyond the Borderzone perhaps) subtle. I was using conventional language quite accessible to those who like to wander in mystical orchards, as it were. This sort of wording became popular in West via Madame Blavatsky (1831-1891), the agent behind the Theosophical Society. Thanks to her prolific writings, for those tired of talking of the soul that mysterious entity came to be changed into the subtle body. Subtle, the word itself, comes from the Latin subtilis, and that word gets its hard meaning from tela, or web, and texere, to weave. Fine, thin, delicate, finely woven.

But let’s suppose that this view of things is parochial, rather than accurate, based as it is on sensory experience. Suppose that our material order is thinned out, rarefied—like high-altitude atmospheres were oxygen is not quite enough to let us breathe. And, by contrast, the so-called immaterial order is where all the density resides—but in an energetic form. Is there some basis for this? Yes.

Our physicists are now reluctantly concluding that 96 percent of the cosmos is made up of dark energy (74%) and dark matter (22%)—and, it seems to me, these two may be the same. Back in 1980 already, in his book Wholeness and the Implicate Order, David Bohm gave a theoretical grounding for this based on quantum theory. Bohm points out that the smallest possible energy wave present in a vacuum (like space) is 10-33 cm, but waves down to that very tiny wavelength are present. Anything smaller than that renders concepts like space and time meaningless. He continues:

This [wavelength] is much shorter than anything thus far probed in physical experiments (which have got down to about 10-17 cm or so). If one computes the amount of energy that would be in one cubic centimeter of space, with this shortest possible wavelength, it turns out to be very far beyond the total energy of all matter in the known universe.

What is implied by this proposal is that what we call empty space contains an immense background of energy, and that matter as we know it is a small, ‘quantized’ wavelike excitation on top of this background, rather like a tiny ripple on a vast sea.… In this connection it may be said that space, which has so much energy, is full rather than empty. The two opposing notions of space as empty and space as full have indeed continually alternated with each other in the development of philosophical and physical ideas. Thus, in Ancient Greece, the School of Parmenides and Zeno held that space is a plenum [fullness]. This view was opposed by Democritus, who was perhaps the first seriously to propose a world view that conceived of space as emptiness (i.e., the void), in which material particles (e.g., atoms) are free to move. Modern science has generally favored this latter atomistic view, and yet, during the nineteenth century, the former view was also seriously entertained, through the hypothesis of an ether that fills all space. Matter, thought of as consisting of special recurrent stable and separable forms in the ether (such as ripples or vortices), would be transmitted through this plenum as if the latter were empty. [p. 190-191]
Such considerations eventually led Bohm to suggests that our cosmos is a limited, unfolded, explicated region within a much greater enfolded, implicated region: Reality.

Applying this to our interests, it suggests that which we call life, soul, subtle body, and so on, may be something energetic, real, but undetectable—its subtlety arising from a failure of our instruments to detect it—whereas our intelligence, also a function of this energetic order, has no problems seeing it at all. If we turn the phrasing around, it is our instruments that are insubstantial, not our souls—like catching a butterfly with a net made of air.

If the Big Bang was a sudden thinning out of the Implicate Order, that process may have deprived the agents present within it, us, of ready access to that which makes us whole; my analogy here is oxygen, but suppose we call it life-force, the Chinese ch’i, the Arabic baraka, the Hindu prana, the western grace. And our project here, in this rarefied dimension, is to collect enough of it to give us the power, once more, to get home.

To pursue David Bohm’s thought in a strictly scientific context, I recommend The Undivided Universe, 1993.

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