On Friday morning I met a dear old friend for a cup of tea before work. We got talking about Buddhism and quantum physics and the fascinating overlap between the two.
A couple of years ago my brainy ex-boyfriend gave me a copy of Brian Greene's "The Elegant Universe" to read. It is a relatively simple introduction to quantum physics and to string theory. I use the word 'relatively' advisedly in this context.
He was gently trying to educate me. My ex and I never quite saw eye to eye on the matter of my spiritual beliefs. He was an athiest with a great hunger for scientific knowledge. I was an agnostic with a great hunger for spiritual practice.
The irony is that our very different paths (physics and philosophy for him, yoga and meditation for me) may very well have brought us to a similar place in the end.
I never quite got my head around quantum physics. But I was fascinated by the experiments that showed that sometimes particles act like waves and sometimes light waves act like particles. What intrigued me most of all was that the act of observation appeared to influence whether particles acted like waves or particles.
I loved the simplicity of Niels Bohr's interpretation of this experiment. When it looks like a wave, it is a wave. When it looks like a particle, it is a particle. He essentially said that nothing is real unless it is observed.
Did you get that? Nothing is real unless it is observed. The entire universe is actually a series of probabilities.
String theory appealed to me even more. The fundamental, elemental matter of the universe is in fact a dancing, vibrating loop that appears to be either particle-like or wave-like depending on where you are looking from, amongst other variables.
Yesterday I spent the afternoon with twenty other people, sitting in meditation and receiving teachings on how to live our meditation.
At the end of the day all the teachings came down to this – we are not as separate from each other nor as fixed as our egos would like to believe. We are all connected. Are we connected by the four universal forces identified by quantum physics or by prana, the shared universal energy identified in yogic teachings? Maybe they are the same thing.
We are not fixed. We are constantly in the process of creating ourselves and our realities moment by moment. By the act of observation we take those dancing, vibrating strings and make of them "me" and "you". What would it be like if, when we looked at the world and at each other, we let the picture we have of what we think we are looking at drop away for a moment and opened up to the mystery and the beauty of not knowing what we are looking at.
With this in mind, I'm off to observe the effect that the act of cleaning has on the dancing strings that make up what I call my home.