The greatest discovery in all of human history was expounded by quantum physicist Max Planck in the early part of the twentieth century. I am told that he wasn’t the first to put it forth, but his experiments demonstrated it so conclusively that he was frank to say it aloud. Sadly, he was altogether ignored. The only thing that won him a Nobel Prize was his work in quantum physics. But he certainly should have received a second Nobel Prize for his theory that what we think of as human consciousness is primary and pre-existing.
The Fun of Staying in Touch will be out late this month. It was delayed a bit by my friend Gary Schwartz’s offer to write a terrific Foreword, and also by the fact that I am finishing Letter From Wonder for the fall. Publishing six books in one year because you are catching up on a twenty-year drought does take quite a bit of time! But in assembling quotations for The Fun of Staying in Touch, I have been struck yet again by the fact that the earliest quantum physicists seem fully to have understood that they had made a discovery that was even more important than the role of quanta. They had discovered that human minds are of the very stuff that brings the universe into being.
Abundant support for the theory that what we think of as human consciousness is primary and pre-existing derives naturally from the double-slit and other classic quantum physics experiments, all of which suggest that researchers’ own minds influence their experimental results. Max Planck said in 1931, “I regard consciousness as fundamental. I regard matter as derivative from consciousness. We cannot get behind consciousness. Everything that we talk about, everything that we regard as existing, postulates consciousness.” By 1944 he was saying, “As a man who has devoted his whole life to the most clear headed science, to the study of matter, I can tell you as a result of my research about atoms this much: There is no matter as such. All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force which brings the particles of an atom to vibration and holds this most minute solar system of the atom together. We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent mind. This mind is the matrix of all matter.”
Planck wasn’t the only leading early-twentieth-century physicist to come out and say that human consciousness seems to be primary and pre-existing. The grid of human-like consciousness from which all of reality apparently suspends is sometimes called the “matrix”; it is also called the “field.” Albert Einstein, winner of the 1922 Nobel Prize in physics, said of subatomic particles, “The field is the sole governor of the particle.”
Mathematician Euan Squires agreed that, “Every interpretation of quantum mechanics involves consciousness.”
Other Nobel-level scientists, too, have come to conclude that what we think of as human consciousness has to be primary. Biologist George Wald, winner of the 1967 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, is quoted as saying, “It has occurred to me lately—I must confess with some shock at first to my scientific sensibilities—that both questions (the origin of consciousness in humans and the origin of life from non-living matter) might be brought into some degree of congruence. This is with the assumption that mind, rather than emerging as a late outgrowth in the evolution of life, has existed always as the matrix, the source and condition of physical reality—that stuff of which physical reality is composed is mind-stuff.”
And so it is! Exactly right.
All the evidence indicates that your mind is an undivided part of the energy-like potentiality that brings forth the universe. As such, it is:
1) Eternal. Your mind exists outside of time. It never began, and it never will end.
2) Powerful. Even while we are in bodies, the power of our minds seems to be limited only by our own beliefs in their powerlessness. After death, our minds can literally create the realities in which we live.
3) United with all other minds. In truth, there is only one of us here. Each of our minds is deeply united with every other human mind.
4) Fundamentally good! Our cultures distort our behavior so severely that we have some strange notions about human nature that simply are not borne out by what we now understand to be true about the nature of our minds. While our minds are sufficiently creative to conceive of evil, they are at their base the very essence of pure love that we have long imagined God to be. That is who we are.
As that universal genius, Albert Einstein, said of the overarching Mind of which each of our minds is a part, “Every one who is seriously involved in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that a spirit is manifest in the laws of the Universe – a spirit vastly superior to that of man, and one in the face of which we with our modest powers must feel humble.”
Our powers are modest, true. And deservedly we ought to be humble in the face of God. But we are of God’s very essence. Powerful, eternal, and infinitely good. At the core of your being, that is who you are!