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Bridging Science and Spirit

Norman Friedman

Common Elements in Bohm's Physics,
The Perennial Philosophy and Seth

Published by Living Lake/MO in 1994
ART Chapter: Quantum Reality
A Book Review by Bobby Matherne ©2012


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Here is a book which I acquired in 1997, and only partially read it because I was reading books by David Bohm, Seth, Fred Alan Wolf, Ken Wilbur and others. In this book Norman Friedman describes how the various works of these authors overlap each other. Three years ago, I read and reviewed the book Quantum Enigma by Rosenblum and Kuttner, which lays out the various quantum reality problems which have presented themselves to twenty-first century consciousness. Recently, I picked up and read completely Friedman's book to get some perspective on how he was presenting the quantum world of Bohm in the light of Wilbur and Seth and others writing about the spiritual world.

Most of my reading of the Wilbur-Seth material covered by Friedman's book came before I was writing reviews, and my early reviews(1) such as Fred Alan Wolf's The Body Quantum were very sketchy reviews. What I hope to do in this review is to offer some of my insights gained from these books which I read early on, but have not reviewed. In addition, I have gained valuable insights into the interface of the material and spiritual worlds from my study of Rudolf Steiner's works, which needs to be added to the mix of the materialistic minded physicists' points of view.

Friedman's introduction gives us this issue to consider:

[page 22] An ongoing debate arose among some scientists and philosophers over how consciousness originates from matter. (That the question might be reversed — that is, how does consciousness produce matter? — has been and still is largely inconceivable.)

My answer to this question is this: Consciousness does not come from matter; consciousness comes from spirit and matter comes from spirit. At the time I first read this book, I had not begun my detailed study of the works of Rudolf Steiner, a scientist and philosopher of the first quarter of the twentieth century. His books and lectures described how the evolution of humankind and our cosmos (our solar system) began by sacrifices of spiritual beings which remain today, helping us to evolve further. A study of Steiner's An Outline of Occult Science will reward any open-minded scholar with an understanding of how humans and the cosmos evolved in parallel and remain so today. As our quantum physicists create unsolvable puzzles for themselves, they are only revealing that their basic assumptions of the world of reality are wrong. They assume that spirit does not exist, that only matter exists, and with that assumption, they can have no explanation of the latest phenomena of quantum physics, which involve moving back and forth between the spiritual and material worlds, worlds which are intimately interconnected, having interconnections we ignore at our own peril and thereby create obfuscation instead of clarity.

[page 23] Exactly how the relationship between consciousness and matter occurs is still an open question. In fact, it will be central to our discussion in the chapters to follow.

My decades of experience in designing computer hardware, software, and real-time computer systems has helped me to understand the relationship between consciousness and matter as follows: consciousness operates in a human being as software operates in a digital computer built by human beings. Nothing inside the digital computer can understand what software is, as it must use the very thing it wants to understand to attempt to understand it. We humans have built digital computers and we understand how they work. We design and write software and understand how software enables computers to work. But we are as unable to understand how consciousness works for the same reasons that computers are unable to understand how their software works. Hardware exists in the material world; software exists in a non-material world. In a powered-off computer, software has no reality: it can take no action nor change its own internal state, it is like a frozen crystalline structure. Only when the computer is powered up, does software come into play and action; the computer comes alive, in other words.

Similarly for a human being, only when a human being is alive is it possible to say that consciousness is present. Humans know as little about how consciousness got into humans as computers can ever know about how their software got into them.

Ah, you may be thinking, but computers can learn, they can accept data from the material world, accept new programming from humans, and with large enough computers and programming, they can become smarter than humans, can they not? The advocates of Artificial Intelligence (AI) would have us think so, but computers are limited to data from the material world, whereas humans can accept novel information from the spiritual world. Yes, our thoughts arrive as novel information from the spiritual world; it is received by our physical brain and we claim the results to be our own thoughts. Computers cannot do this; they can only receive novel information from human beings or data from the material world, lacking any receptors for the spiritual world. It is inconceivable that computers could ever receive novel information from the spiritual world. Certainly we humans cannot understand how we receive this novel information, and lacking that understanding, we cannot program computers to do so.

Clearly many of you are skeptical at my claim that humans receive novel information from the spiritual world through the process we call consciousness, so let's take a look at this process as it has evolved in recent millennia. There was a time when it was not necessary for humans to write down information because they had direct access to information on a spiritual hot-line. Take a look at Homer's sagas, which existed in an oral tradition(2) for centuries before being written down: The Iliad and The Odyssey. What are the first words of each? The Iliad: "Sing, O Goddess, the anger of Achilles" and The Odyssey: "Tell me, O Muse, of that ingenious hero who traveled far and wide". Now compare the beginning of these two books with Virgil's The Aeneid, which begins, "Of arms I sing, and a man."(3) Note the absence of a Goddess or Muse in Virgil's opening line, but the salient presence of the "I". In the 600 to 1,000 year gap of time between Homer and Virgil, the skill of writing appeared along with the human "I" or "I am." What a spiritual being (Goddess or Muse) revealed to Homer in his time, the "I" of Virgil revealed to him in his time. Said another way, Virgil received his novel information from the same source as Homer, but human consciousness had evolved to the point where Virgil accepted these inputs as if they were his own thoughts and wrote them down as his own song, his own thoughts, for his fellow humans who did not have access to this information.

Digital computers could write, "Sing, O Programmer, of the anger of Achilles" but it would be meaningless for a computer to write "Of arms I sing, and a man", for where is the "I" of the computer? Unlike humans, computers cannot have an "I"; it can only pretend to have one, but in reality its "I" would be the "I" of its programmer, would it not?

Until physicists understand the spiritual world which infuses human consciousness and lives inside the human being like software does in a digital computer, they will never be able to understand "the relationship between consciousness and matter" and it will remain "an open question" to them, an unanswered question to be pondered.

Physicists taught biologists about the hardware of the human body and led them into believing that the mind was simply the effects of the brain, all physiology. But, by the time biologists bought into this metaphor, physicists had moved further into the puzzling aspects of quantum physics, which requires an observer and therefore requires consciousness.

[page 24] Thus, biology has busily pushed the mind out of the door of the house of science, little realizing that it was reentering through the door of physics.

How consciousness has "reentered through the door of physics" is the meat of this book, and requires the author to examine unorthodox sources for insights, such as Seth, an incorporeal entity channeled by Jane Roberts, Kenneth Wilbur's holographic metaphor, David Bohm's implicate order, and Aldous Huxley's "perennial philosophy". All of these authors's works I have studied, and the most valuable to me were the works of Jane Roberts' in her Seth books, books whose words came to her directly from Seth, similar to how the Muses reached the mouth of Homer, leading eventually to the texts of the Iliad and Odyssey. Once I had read Roberts' first book, Seth Speaks, I began making my way through her entire genre, both her books and those dictated to her husband, Robert Butts, by the entity Seth using Jane's voice. Butts' commentary about the activities during his taking of dictation adds veracity and credibility to the Seth books. The most important are the ones I went back years after reading them to review: The Unknown Reality and The Individual and the Nature of Mass Events. The one Seth book I was able to write a review directly after reading it was The Magical Approach, which Butts published about eleven years after his wife had died. One passage in my review speaks to the ability of men like Kekule to reach into the future to grab hold of the ring structure of benzene:

[Magical Approach Review] Creativity has its own kind of time, a free-flowing time in which past, present, and future co-exist like in a dream where we can "rummage through the days of the future to find precisely the data required to make a specific point." Seth contrasts this magical approach with the rational approach which says "that to solve a problem you worry about it."

Clearly there are more things in heaven and earth than biologists can find in their microscopes and dissecting rooms, or physicists in their telescopes, spectrometers, and high-energy colliders. What physicists are finding is that the finer they make their semantic nets, the larger the fish that get through(4). One example is dark matter: when astronomers defined the universe by what was visible, no one thought to look for matter which is not visible because it does not radiate energy and yet constitutes about 84% of the matter according to present estimates. When it comes to accounting for the spiritual world, physicists are even more in the dark, opposing vehemently the very idea of a non-material world which interweaves our physical world. But just as they were forced to acknowledge the presence of dark matter in our universe because of its gravitational effects on visible matter, they will one day have to acknowledge the presence of the spiritual world because of its effects on human beings and the cosmos in which we find ourselves. As I point out in my Quantum Enigma review:

[page 75, Quantum Enigma] If an actual physical object were smeared over the extent of its waviness, its remote parts would have to instantaneously coalesce to the place where the whole object were found. Physical matter would have to move at speeds greater than that of light. That's impossible.

Quantum Enigma Review: And yet, the soul and spirit of every physicist when awakened from a dream re-coalesces instantaneously from the edges of the universe. Perhaps physical matter is not actually physical. Physicists calculate the probability that a wave will coalesce in one place, but that is not the probability of there being an object there, an important difference.

I recall a Mutt & Jeff comic strip from when the Times-Picayune was still a daily newspaper in the 1960s. Mutt was searching his coat pockets and his pants pockets looking for his wallet. Jeff looks down on his buddy and asks him, "Did you look in your left back pants pocket?" Mutt gives his pal a sheepish grin and says, "No, if it's not there, I would die!" Physicists are in Mutt's position vis-à-vis quantum realities today: they refuse to look in the one last place for understanding, the spiritual world, because they feel they would die if they did, making all their railings against so-called metaphysical realities null and void. But, clearly there is no other place to look.The evidence provided by the Bell Theorem experiments of Alain Aspect proves that the quantum phenomena we observe are the effects of things we call objects, but which, in reality, only appear to us as objects when we observe them and have a non-material existence in between our observations. To be honest, we physicists should come clean and admit the existence of a spiritual world, and learn more about it. Teachings of the spiritual world have been around long before physics, and perhaps it's time for physicists to learn something new.

[page 28] Do anomalies exist on the macro level that we are simply not noticing or are allowing to slip through our scientific nets? Certain events, casually assigned to the paranormal and thereby dismissed, may contain information that would clarify persistent problems in our evolving worldview. Philosopher Huston Smith imagines the Perennial Philosophy addressing Science and noting, "You are right in what you affirm. Only what you deny needs rethinking."

Once scientists stop denying the spiritual world’s existence, perhaps they will be able catch that slippery eel of consciousness which has been slipping through its finest nets, up until now. (Page 28) They will also discover that consciousness has existed long before humans had physical bodies and will exist long afterward, as Steiner shows in his landmark book, An Outline of Occult Science.

Another slippery eel is that of time, and we must stop treating the past and the future as if they are irrecoverable, one already done and one not yet happened. We do best if we evolve to understand the Past and Future reaching us in the Now moment, coming together in a vortex, allowing us to experience Eternity in the Now, at every moment. My NOW diagram illustrates this ever-present process. Friedman and Ken Wilbur both echo this new way of understanding eternity, the past, the present, and the future, Friedman calling Eternity the Absolute.

[page 112] . . . the Absolute is present at every point in time since the Absolute is timeless.
      [Wilbur] Being timeless, all of Eternity is wholly and completely present at every point of time — and thus, all of Eternity is already present right now. To the eye of Eternity, there is no then, either past or future.

Seth in The Unknown Reality, Volume I says it this way:

[page 140, U. R. vI] On the one hand as a species your present forms your future, but in even deeper terms your precognitive awareness of your own possibilities from the future helps to form the present that will then make that probable future your reality.

In Seth's concept of the "moment point" we see a description of the NOW diagram above, Seth’s “inner ego” representing what Steiner calls our “I”.

[page 159] Using Seth's terminology, the outer ego understands most events in physical terms, and for a given event creates a past, present, and future. The inner ego exists in the moment point, in which there is no past and future separate from the present.

Local effects are required by Newton's theories and Einstein's improvement on Newton's theories, but are eliminated from quantum reality by Bell's theorem and Alain Aspect's experimental verification of Bell's theorem. Here's a passage Friedman quotes from physicist Nick Herbert's Quantum Reality:

[page 259] Despite physicists' traditional rejection of non-local interactions, despite the fact that all known forces are incontestably local, despite Einstein's prohibition against superluminal connections, and despite the fact that no experiment has ever shown a single case of unmediated faster-than-light communication, Bell maintains that the world is filled with innumerable non-local influences. Furthermore the unmediated connections are present not only in rare and exotic circumstances, but underlie all the events of everyday life. Non-local connections are ubiquitous because reality itself is non-local.

With Bell's Theorem now confirmed by Aspect's experiments, we must accept that our daily reality is non-local. If this is so, then a rose bush which is wilting due to the overhanging leaves of a large tree may be able to create a wind-storm which downs the offending tree limb, as happened in our backyard a couple of decades ago during Hurricane Florence and inspired me to write this poem.

A Conspiracy of Roses

Locked in step
The bushes bend
To squeeze out every second
       of sunlight slipping silently
       past the overhanging leaves.

In an instant
A movement
A wave of shimmering energy
Moves in the far off reaches
       of the galaxy.

In the same instant a movement
       Begins in the far off reaches
       of the sea.

Locked in step
       The wills of the rosebushes
       Dance with the galaxy and the sea
       and the winds that whistle
       through the tree.

The dance is done ... the galactic wave subsides ...
the sea is quiet again ...
the tree is resting on its side ...
       and the roses are smiling in the sun.


The world in which we live is operating, sheltered under the old paradigm on a daily basis while the winds of the new paradigm are already blowing through the trees. Lift up your eyes and look at the limbs that are waving in the trees above you, they represent a time wave from your future which is heading into your life, entwining with a time wave from your past and creating a new now for you. This is an effect which you may not have noticed in your life, up until now. It is an effect which will enrich your life from now on.

---------------------------- Footnotes -----------------------------------------

Footnote 1.
These include books by Itzhak Bentov, Nick Hebert, Richard Feynman, Michael Talbot, Danah Zohar, Jeremy Berstein, Aldous Huxley, Ken Wilbur, Jane Roberts, and Victor Weisskopf, among others, as you can see in the ARJ1 Review List.

Return to text directly before Footnote 1.

Footnote 2.
This oral tradition became necessary as humans in general began to lose direct access to the spiritual world. Those humans who didn't have access to the Iliad and Odyssey sagas depended on those few who retained that direct access to speak aloud Homer's sagas to them. These few were not endowed with an amazing memory, but with direct access which required no memory at all. (If your song is playing on the radio, you do not need a recording of it.) Eventually someone wrote down the sagas to save them for future generations, and we attribute them to Homer.

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Footnote 3.
Quotes from University of Chicago Great Books edition, 1952 published by Encyclopedia Brittanica.

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Footnote 4.
Sir Arthur Eddington writes cogently on this subject in his The Philosophy of Physical Science, which I bought and first read back in 1982.It had a powerful effect on my subsequent thinking about quantum realities.

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Any questions about this review, Contact: Bobby Matherne


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