The Way Of Life

The greatest challenge in life arises from not being able to escape from oneself. That means not being able to avoid your own weaknesses, or escape to the whispered urges of your own amazing potential.

Meeting and dealing well with your own resources and potential also confronts you with the world around you. Whatever you choose to do, even if that is curling up in a ball in isolated withdrawal, you are still interacting with the world around you. You are still breathing. Therefore you would still be interacting with the bacterial life around you, and possible other living processes such as the trees, plants, and the minute moulds and fungi.

In general however, our interaction is immense and much of it unconscious. We usually have little awareness of the tremendous exchange of gases, fluids, bacteria – along with the social, verbal, sexual and sensual signals and interactions going on around us and influencing our own existence.

Yet there is something even more immense in which you are totally and inescapably involved. If you could be aware of the totality of what this is in any one moment, you might fall on your knees in awe. Yet because your focus of awareness is usually so narrowly fixed on what is known through your senses and thinking, you miss the meeting with this splendour and mystery.

I am talking about the fact that your existence depends upon the mysterious processes of life, and those processes in turn are an emanation of the formation of the universe, only an infinitesimally small fraction of which you are aware of at any one moment.

What follows in this book is a look at what the possibilities of your existence might be within this huge mystery we call Life.

The Missing Handbook

Despite the fact that you have innate possibilities, that your body and mind function in reasonably specific ways, and that the laws of nature are fairly stable, you do not arrive in the world with a handbook describing your potential and how to get the best out of yourself.

If you had just purchased a machine as complex and as wonderful as your own being, you would demand such a handbook from the manufacturer. Unfortunately, the universe, the planet, and the parents who brought you forth, do not supply such a helpful guide.

Of course, every culture has attempted its own handbook, its own definition of personal origins and possibilities. We see these in the religious, philosophical or political writings and statements of the ages. But these are often very local in terms of the needs of the times or of the specific difficulties faced through geographic, environmental or social conditions.

You Have Individual Needs And Direction

Although fundamental and important issues are dealt with in all of these early handbooks, many of us today cannot find personal instruction in them to meet our own individual challenges and temperament. In some ways personal growth is like that of a plant or tree. The tree does not take up ready-made leaves or fibre, but creates these from the minerals and substances it takes from the soil. We cannot arrive at anything like this wonderful transformation of raw information and experience until we recognise what our own being needs to take in, and what it rejects. Like the tree, we need access to a wide variety of possible sustenance before we can find and integrate what we need, and what transforms into our own personal beliefs and insights. But if you knew something of the essence of today’s scientific research findings, and the wisdom arrived at by different cultures throughout the ages, you mind more easily find the sustenance you need for your own personal growth and maturity. You might also find ways of utilising your own innate abilities and functions more effectively.

To this end what follows is presented as fertiliser for your own roots to feed on. 

In The Beginning

To make the best use of your own potential and functions you must arrive at some understanding of who or what you are. This is a huge and complex question, and because of its complexity has to be approached by looking at the simplest factors first.

If you are capable of reading and understanding what is written on this page, you are probably able to affirm your own existence. This means you have a sense of yourself as distinct from any other person, animal or object. For most of us this is a central reality, and therefore a useful starting point. Nevertheless, there are complexities regarding your sense of self that require us to look further back. For instance the questions arise as to whether your sense of self arises from your bodily functions or whether it is self-existent in some way. If your sense of self is directly related to your body, what body is it related to? Is it your infant body, your twenty year old body, or a body you reach in old age? Sometimes we identify with a particular age we achieved, or a particular way our body looked, and not with the ever changing reality that is our body now. We may also see ourselves as being of a particular type or character. For instance you may hold particular religious, political or philosophical beliefs. If you counter this by saying that you do not believe in anything in particular, that itself is a philosophy. And each belief system leads you to see yourself in a different way, and to relate to the world and people around you in particular ways.

Nevertheless, no matter what you believe, or how you see yourself, each of us experience a variety of personal urges and conflicts. Can we therefore say, “I am this!” or “I am that!”? Our personality or self is made up of many different feeling states and urges, sometimes disturbingly so. The only stable thing in all of this is simply the sense of existence itself. It may be buffeted by emotions, intrigued by ideas or opinions, challenged by problems of health, but in the midst of all that it still stand firm.

So we come back to the questions of, “Who or what are you?” “What is the most basic fact of your being?” If we can discover something of that, if we can discover something of your foundations, then we might be able to build a conception of what your origins are, what you are capable of, and how you connect with the world around you.

The first step in discovering this faces you with the question of what your origins are. We are tempted at first to think our beginning rests with our parents and ancestors. Or maybe we look further back still and see that our real beginning, as echoed in the developmental stages of the embryo, are with the evolution of life on earth. But there can be little or no argument that if the universe did not exist, there would have been no earth for life to evolve on, and you would not have a body or awareness. So the story of your present existence has its beginning right at the formation of the universe.

This may seem a very abstract or theoretical thing to see as important in dealing with life in the here and now.  But almost every ancient culture had what we now call a creation myth.  These were considered very important, and the reason may be that the foundation of things is as important as the foundation of a house or building.  With a poor foundation a building is weak and has no innate strength.  Having some sense of your beginnings leads to a greater feeling of sureness and confidence in life.  Your identity, or what you identify with as being your fundamental self, also grows out of an awareness of your origins. If you believe that you originated with your parents or your forebears, your sense of who you are will arise in a large measure from the quality or lack of it your parents and forebears displayed.  But if you can accept the formula that without the formation of the universe you have no personal existence, then your own foundations go much further back than your parents, and are on a much grander scale.

If you have not explored this question before you may, as many people do, believe that your beginnings are with the formation of your body. But this is like saying; “This tree started its existence when I planted the seed of it in my garden.” This only leads to the question of where the seed came from, and so on backwards. Looked at in this way, your body is a budding out, a flowering, of cells that have an unbroken line right back to the beginning of life on our planet. Some theorists even believe that life on our planet was ‘seeded’ from particles entering our atmosphere from space. But without arguing that theory, we do know that the material our bodies are made of is ancient beyond the age of our own world. Our roots certainly go back a lot further than parents and grandparents.

Even so, these ideas might still leave you cold.  After all, perhaps you are only aware of your own life and difficulties here and now.  Maybe you cannot even remember much of your childhood, let alone any further back.  So what relevance has such information?

  1. D. Laing, in his book Politics of Experience, writes:

We are born into a world where alienation awaits us. We are potentially men, but are in an alienated state, and this state is not simply a natural system. Alienation as our present destiny is achieved only by outrageous violence perpetrated by human beings on human beings.

In some degree we are all caught up in this violence.  We see it occurring around us, and perhaps we are personally attacked in one way or another.  For many of us even relationship and work are forms of violence imposed upon ourselves. If we are to find our way out of this, even in small degree, we must come to know ourselves more fully, even if that is painful.

The important point here is not whether these ideas are correct or not. They are only given to open your mind to possibilities. The important kernel is that the bedrock of your existence is the universe itself, and your fundamental origins are with the formation of the universe.

Within that statement lies buried an incredible possibility. To unfold that possibility and make it understandable it is helpful to look at how present and past thinkers and researchers explained the creation of the universe and life on Earth.

The creation myth of our times, based on the scientific practices of the present, is called the Big Bang Theory.  I call it a creation myth not because I wish to discount it in any way, but simply as a way of remembering that science itself tells us its theories are forever being changed and developed.  Also, past cultures had their own excellent ways of investigating the world around them.  The mythology of an African tribe stated that one of the stars visible in the night sky had an invisible twin.  To the naked eye this twin was not visible, and so it seemed the myth was pure make-believe.  Neither was the twin visible to normal telescopes or binoculars.  But with the greatly enhanced telescopes developed in recent years it was discovered that the visible star actually was a twin.  It was a system with two suns.

Therefore I honour those ancient findings by classing our own experimental and observed data as a creation myth.

According to this creation myth of the Big Bang Theory, the universe began at a specific time. Authorities find that difficult to place precisely because of the enormous span of time between the beginning and now, but it is somewhere between ten and twenty billion years ago. Many commentaries rest at the figure of fifteen billion. That is, 15,000,000,000,000.

The theory became established in 1929 when the astronomer Edwin Hubble observed that the universe is constantly expanding. When the rate of expansion, and the state of expansion was run backwards, it could be seen that all the galaxies were moving outwards from one point. But this point does not exist as an area of space. Everywhere acts as a centre from which everything else is expanding away.

The idea of the Big Bang was not new however. In 1927, the Belgian priest Georges Lemaître suggested that the universe began with the explosion of a primeval atom. This idea came after observing the red shift in distant nebulas by astronomers. [1]

Hindu beliefs are also similar in some ways, and long predated western ideas.

Because light moves toward us at a known speed, and because of the enormous distances between stars and galaxies, when we observe a distant galaxy we are looking back into the past. So in looking at very distant galaxies we are experiencing the far distant past.

One of the most important features about this suggested[2] beginning of our universe is that prior to it there was no space or time. The Big Bang is said to have actually created time and space. This is a difficult concept to grasp right away, but its importance lies in the fact that some of the findings of physics in the last century suggest that there is still an aspect of the universe, and therefore of our own being, that exists in a spaceless and timeless condition.

But this condition prior to the creative explosion itself is still beyond the capability of present theorist’s and mathematics to explore. It therefore remains an ineffable mystery to science.

What is more defined however, are the stages the process of creation went through. In the Kingfishers Young People’s Book of Space, the stages of creation are explained as follows:

  1. The cosmos goes through a superfast ‘inflation’. Expanding from the size of an atom to that of a grapefruit in a tiny fraction of a second.
  2. Post inflation, the universe is a seething, hot soup of electrons, quarks and other particles.
  3. A rapidly cooling cosmos permits quarks to clump into protons and neutrons.
  4. Still too hot to form into atoms, charged electrons and protons prevent light from shining; the universe is a superhot fog.
  5. Electrons combine with protons and neutrons to form atoms, mostly hydrogen and helium. Light can finally shine.
  6. Gravity makes hydrogen and helium gas coalesce to form the giant clouds that will become galaxies; smaller clumps of gas collapse to form the first stars.
  7. As galaxies cluster together under gravity, the first stars die and spew heavy elements into space: these will eventually form into new stars and planets.

Some refinements that are left out of this sketch are that gravity did not at first exist. Also that as the cosmos came into being, tiny fluctuations created situations that would later allow galaxies to form, and the possibility of life to exist. One scientist called this the ‘finger of God’.

In other words, the development need not have gone the way it did. Other directions would have negated the possibility of life and personal awareness. Also, the death of the first stars produced materials that are the basis of our own world and therefore our body. Whatever way we like to explain it, the universe moved toward the possibility of life.

Some aspects of the Big Bang creation myth need to be looked at more closely. This because they connect directly with the theme of personal origins and the questions of who or what you are. In particular, because the fundamental nature of our universe, its own origins so to speak, rest in a timeless and spaceless condition, this needs exploring in a more here and now way. There are some strange facts about the nature of things suggesting that all times and all conditions are present at this moment. If this is so, the timeless and spaceless ground of existence is still a facet of your life today. Just as a reminder, remember that when we view distant galaxies, we are witnessing the far past. So there may be a clue in the nature of light.

Light was considered by classical physics to be either a wave or a particle. Careful experiments revealed the paradoxical nature of light. It is both a wave and a particle. Observed in one way it is a wave, observed in another way it is a particle. We can think of a particle as something similar to a small ball-bearing. A wave has the nature of ripples we see on the surface of water.

Bell’s Inequality Theorem

Irish physicist John Stewart Bell put forward a quantum theorem that has revolutionised the way reality is considered. In brief, the theorem states that when two sub-microscopic particles are split and moved to a distance from each other, the action on, or of, particle ‘A’, is instantaneously reproduced with particle ‘B’. This interaction does not rely on any known link or communication and is considered to stand above normal physical laws of nature, as it is faster than light. Prior to such findings it was thought nothing could transcend the speed of light.

Nick Herbert, in an interview published in High Frontiers writes: ‘THERE ARE LOTS OF THINGS that are being kept from the public as far as the subjects of physics and consciousness are concerned. Bell’s Theorem was proved in 1964, and it is still not taught in physics classes, and you don’t hear it on your science news programs. A theorem is a proof, and no one has found a flaw in this theorem. It’s such a simple proof that a high school kid can understand it. So physicists can understand it. They have various ways of trying to ignore it, but it can’t be refuted because it’s so simple.’

To quote Gary Zhukov, ‘Quantum mechanics is the theory. It has explained everything from subatomic particles to transistors to stellar energy. It has never failed. It has no competition.’

The implications of the theorem are enormous. Something can be in two places at once. Apparently distant objects, or people, are intricately linked in an immediate way. There is no separate existence as we previously thought. Our view of the world is not one supported by the facts of physics. Time and space are transcended. David Bohm, an eminent physicist, goes as far as to say that all things in our observable universe are inextricable linked. Nothing has separate existence.

The fact that light is both a wave and a particle is astonishing enough. More astonishing is the fact that its nature changes according to the way we observe it. Regarding this Mansfield describes an experiment where one particle/wave is made to pass through a series of mirrors along different arms. A single particle/wave is called a photon. As the single photon is passing through the series of mirrors, the method of observing it and measuring it is altered. This means that on its entry into the system the photon is a wave, but when the method of observing is changed, the photon becomes a particle. The astounding thing is that not only does it become a particle from that point on, but its nature is also changed in the past. [i]

This demonstrable fact faces our rational mind with a conundrum or paradox. To quote Mansfield, ‘Now here is a real conceptual knot. It seems that our choice at the last possible moment determines what light did in the past.’ Mansfield goes on to say that if we made the experiment more dramatic it illustrates the enormity of the findings. To do this he suggests that instead of thinking of light passing through mirrors directing the light in different directions (arms), we think of the light reaching us from the stars. He says ‘Let the arms be billions of light years in length. Then we have a billion or so years between the interaction with the half-silvered mirror and the full-silvered mirror (used in the experiment). This means that my decision today effects what light did a billion years ago! This is too weird even for physicists, noted for their playful imagination, to contemplate. How could my decision today influence the universe billions of years ago?’

Therefore, when examining the model of our mind, we need to leave space on one of the walls for a door. It needs to be a door that opens onto a different sort of universe than the one we may previously have felt to be solid reality. It is a universe that alters its appearance – no, its very nature – according to the way we observe it. Each question we ask of the universe, each attitude with which we approach it, each viewpoint we take, reveals to us a different universe. The universe is therefore not separated from us. We are intrinsically a part of it, and are participating in it. In some way the universe is constantly being created by ourselves as participants. It seems as likely too, that the we the participants are constantly being created by the universe. And the past is not set in concrete. In some mysterious way it is linked with what we do in the present.

We cannot yet say these revelations of science explain coincidences. However, they do point out that the universe is stranger than we previously believed. Therefore the coincidences you experience or hear about may hopefully be an anomaly opening a new door for you. It is a door that can reveal more of yourself, and more about the world around you. Coincidences are like the cartoon cat who runs to the edge of a precipice and carries on running without falling. Suddenly the rules of the world we are so sure are fundamental truths, are thrown into question. Like the worm-holes or the time-warps now common in films and television, coincidences allow us entrance into other dimensions of experience.[ii]


[1] See:

[2] Suggested because the Big Bang Theory is not proved, only inferred from evidence.

[i] If you wish to explore this information further, read: Synchronicity, Science and Soul-Making by Victor Mansfield. Published by Open Court, USA. ISBN: 0-8126-9304-3. Call toll-free: 1-800-815-2280.

[ii] References to people, subjects and authors in the boxes – A more complete, detailed description about Bell’s Theorem and the “new” physics, can be found on Dr. Nick Herbert’s web page :– Michael Talbot is the author of The Holographic Universe, published by Grafton Press. See a description of Bell’s Theorem on – See Fritjof Capra’s book The Tao of Physics and Wholeness and the Implicate Order by David Bohm. Published by Routledge. ISBN: 0415119669.

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