Through the lens of quantum mechanics and quantum field theory, what in our day-to-day lives we typically conceive of and experience as “empty space” is revealed to be densely populated by all variety of matter, in the form of virtual particles, zero-point fields and more. The “space” of the quantum world is, in fact, anything but open and serene: on the contrary, there’s all kinds of bubbling, chaotic activity, with particles (guided by probability waves/distributions) continuously popping into and out of existence. And with the theorized Higgs field -- providing a dense viscosity which gives mass to the various particles, as they move through it -- as its substratum, there’s actually very little “space” (in the way we usually think of it, as open and, well, spacious :) within quantum space.
Quantum Space & The Space-As-Awareness Metaphor
If anything, the “space” described by quantum mechanics might best be used as a metaphor of what’s commonly referred to as the monkey-mind: a never-ending, ever-frenetic scurrying about, never a moment’s rest! A field of fluctuating, jiggling sub-atomic particles certainly doesn’t accord with my current image of the vast expanse of Dharmakaya, the pristine realm of Pure Awareness, the all-knowing Tao.
(But then again .... perhaps this is just because of how quantum reality has been conceptually imaged -- how something that I (as a human bodymind) have no conscious experience of, has come to be re-presented, as a series of mental objects?)
So different, quantum space would seem to be, from Newtonian space or Einsteinian space-time (not to mention the numerous “spaces” of 11-dimensional String Theory!) .... and yet, presumably, as Awareness, they are all, in some sense, equivalent?
The Wave Structure Of Matter: Space As Inherently Wavy
"Someday we'll understand the whole thing as one single marvelous vision that will seem so overwhelmingly simple and beautiful that we may say to each other; 'Oh, how could we have been so stupid for so long? How could it have been otherwise!"
That from 20th-century American physicist J. A. Wheeler, cited in the context of a provocative essay by Geoffrey Haselhurst, proposing what would seem to be a very elegant solution to the particle-wave duality -- one which, he claims, also achieves no less than the long-sought-after unification of Relativity and Quantum Mechanics. And, in the bargain -- apropos to our purposes here -- offers yet another vision of physical space: as inherently wave-like.
Mr. Haselhurst’s fundamental assumption is that: “space exists and propagates waves, and all matter-energy interactions in space-time are really wave interactions in space.” And in particular: “space vibrates radially in and out around a central point -- where this point-like wave center is the cause of the particle effect of matter ....” This wave nature of matter (actual, not just probability waves), then, is the source both of so-called “particles” and of “fields.” In this view, light and matter both are made of waves.
In the same way that the transition from a Newtonian world-view to an Einsteinian world-view shifted our notion of gravity from a force that propagates through space and time to, instead, it being an inherent feature of space-time; so it is that a wave-structure-of-matter view invites a transition from conceiving of the “motion of matter through space and time” to, instead, the “inherent wave motion of space, that causes matter and time.”
Similarly, in this model, so-called “causes” do not propagate through space and time to then “have their effect”; but rather, causal connection is understood to issue forth from one active substance (in a manner similar to the scenario I outlined in Fish-Bowl.)
In short, one substance -- space -- vibrates in a variety of wave patterns that we observe as matter. Matter/particles and fields are just two ways that space vibrates:
“And now for the very cool clever bit - it is these waves that create both matter 'particles' and fields! i.e. When you do the mathematics (complex quaternion wave functions) you discover that space actually vibrates in two completely different ways depending upon the phase of the intersecting plane waves - and these two modes of vibration exactly deduce both the quantum field (background space) and matter 'particles'.”
“From this most simple foundation of plane waves in space naturally creating two different modes of vibration - spherical particle vibrations and complex field vibrations - we can now deduce all of modern physics.”
Wavy Space & The Space-As-Awareness Metaphor
The Wave Structure of Matter framework offers a wealth of metaphoric applications -- if we’re open to conceiving Awareness / Tao as having inherent vibratory qualities. Brings to mind, for instance:
* Spanda = the Kashmir Shaivite notion of the vibratory nature of primordial space.
* Also, how sat (Sanskrit: being, attribute-less space) is forever in union with cit (the quality of awareness, awakeness, knowingness) and ananda (peace, happiness, contentment, bliss).
In any case, with a wave-structure-of-matter paradigm, in which matter is nothing other than vibrating space, we’ve come -- metaphorically speaking -- clearly into the third “mountains are (once again, but with a difference) mountains” stage of spiritual unfolding -- in which so-called “objects” are perceived directly (re-cognized) as being none other than playful modulations of Pure Awareness, Tao, Dharmakaya.
At this point, is it fair to say that physical space (along with its various “contents”) has been revealed to be the equivalent of Pure Awareness -- as the “one substance” of Reality? Or does physical space remain, always (regardless of how it’s modeled), as simply a subset of Pure Awareness -- a subtle object within something much more vast? Does the “dimension” of Pure Awareness remain perpetually “at right angles” to the appearances of the relative world? Or is this the case only while we’re in the “witnessing” phase of our spiritual unfolding?
And what to do, when our everyday sensory experience seems to be in dramatic contrast to, say, our scientific (or spiritual) models of “what’s really happening”? In such instances, do we privilege our sensory experience, or our understanding? Or, perhaps, give them equal weight? Or embark upon a visualization practice of some sort, which over time will purify our perception, to the point at which how things appear will be in alignment with how they really are?
Is having a more-or-less accurate model of the physical universe useful to us, as spiritual practitioners? Is it necessary? Or, is it a detriment? Is the working of the so-called “physical universe” revealed intuitively to someone who has fully Awakened?
A work in progress .....
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