Term Paper: Existence the Nature

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Existence

The Nature of Existence

Ever since human beings became aware of being, they have pondered the nature of existence. Why are we here? What is the purpose of existence? These questions continue to make people wonder. As time has gone by and humans have made many discoveries, their concept of reality has shifted and changed in an evolution -- not of biology -- but of consciousness.

For tens of thousands of years human beings understood their existence in terms of magic. Pagan magic practices were implemented, and multiple gods were worshipped to control crops and ensure fertility. The fact that the crops came in and young were born "proved" that the magic was effective. Many magic practices, however, involved human sacrifice and other cruelties. Religion, which placed a new and needed emphasis on morality and ethical behavior, replaced magic and offered a world view in which one God was worshipped and human beings were expected to behave morally. The main weakness, however, of religion was its superstition. Physical science then overtook human consciousness as a way to view reality without superstition. Each shift in consciousness attempted to correct for the weakness of the old one (Dunlap, 2000).

The weakness of Physical science is that it makes no provision for a spiritual dimension to existence but limits its investigations to the only those aspects of reality that can be discerned with the physical senses -- sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch. Since the 1960s a competing paradigm has emerged in the field of quantum physics, which once corrects for this weakness. One of the theories of quantum physics, called the holographic paradigm, will be explored in this paper.

Thomas Kuhn (1962, 1970) in his landmark dissertation on how change takes place in the scientific community, points out that when a new paradigm emerges, it is impossible to discuss it meaningfully from within another paradigm. The language used in the old paradigm has changed or taken on new meanings in the new. The new paradigm sees different relationships, different problems, and a different world. We can understand a spiritual dimension, for example, only from within a paradigm that acknowledges existence of a spiritual realm, but not otherwise. If, for instance, we believe there is no such thing as a "spiritual realm" (physical science asserts this), and set out to analyze reports of near-death experiences, we will automatically see the report as a story about something that didn't really happen in a place that doesn't actually exist. The existence of a spiritual realm will conflict with what we "know" about the nature of the world. In such a situation, we are faced with either ignoring the external inconsistency or else denouncing and debunking it.

Having said that, it stands to reason that we must look at theories in quantum physics from a new standpoint, knowing that the information we obtain will conflict with what we formerly assumed was "true." Holographic theory, as an alternative view of reality, will be investigated in this paper because it allows for the existence of different dimensions. We don't have to accept what seems to be a paradoxical world-view, of course, but to understand it we do have to get inside it somehow and see it from the inside out rather than from outside in. We will argue that existence is intimately connected to consciousness; thus, we have more control over our present and future than we formerly thought.

The Holographic Paradigm

The holographic paradigm (Talbot, 1991) unites the physical and spiritual realms and challenges the traditional concept of matter as the substance of the Universe. The holographic paradigm allows systematic research to take place around previously anomalous events and phenomena. It allows researchers to ask questions, which are un-askable in the physical science paradigm. Holographic theory was formulated in quantum physics; however, it began, not in physics, but with Karl Pribram, a neurosurgeon and brain researcher at Yale (Thinking Allowed web site, 2005). During the 1940s Pribram investigated the nature of memory. He believed at that time that if he cut out the section of a rat's brain where the memory of how to perform a certain task was stored, its memory would be destroyed. He found, however, that this did not happen. No matter what portion of brain he removed, he could not eradicate their memories. "Often the rats' motor skills were impaired and they tumbled clumsily through the mazes, but even with massive portions of their brains removed, their memories remained stubbornly intact" (Talbot, 1991, p. 13).

Pribram concluded that memories do not occupy a certain space in the brain and that memory must somehow be spread out and distributed throughout the whole brain. Then, in the mid-1960s he read an article in Scientific American that gave him a whole new perspective. The article was about the first construction of a hologram. Holograms are a kind of three-dimensional photography. Using laser light, a convincingly real three-dimensional image is projected which a person can walk around and view from different angles. However, if one tries to touch the image, there is really no substance there. Meanwhile, if a piece of holographic film is cut in two, each piece will still contain a complete, although smaller, image:

Even if the film is cut up again and again, the entire image will still remain in each little piece of the film and can be projected intact. Every fragment of holographic film contains all the information recorded in the original whole. Pribram saw in this an explanation for how memory could be distributed in the brain. The way he saw it, every part of the brain has access to all the information needed to recall a whole memory, so even if the brain is "cut up," memory will still be there intact in what is left (Dunlap, 2000, p. 41).

This was the initial discovery that led to the brain's holographic properties. Eventually, Pribram came to understand that the physical senses perform a frequency analysis to construct a sense of solid reality (using the same Fourier transforms that enable converting television waves back into images on the TV screen). The brain receives input, which it fits together "to provide us with visual perceptions of the world" (Talbot, 1991, p. 28). This led Pribram to question the nature of reality. He asked, which is reality -- the objective world we seem to experience -- or interference patterns perceived by a holographic brain that converts into images? He concluded that we live in a frequency domain. It is transformed into the "world" after our senses perform an analysis and construct an image.

Meanwhile, quantum physicist David Bohm (1987) was researching the nature of subatomic particles. He found that when matter is divided into smaller and smaller pieces, it loses its particle nature. It is no longer solid and three-dimensional. Electrons and protons, for example, eventually become waves and possess no dimension at all. Bohn eventually concluded that subatomic phenomena -- the stuff from which the universe is constructed -- should be classifed as both particle and wave in nature -- that is, as quanta. His research showed that the only time quanta appear as particles (or solid) is when human beings are perceiving it. Physicist Nick Herbert (1987) said, "...humans can never experience the true texture of quantum reality because everything we touch turns into matter" (p. 34). This suggests that matter is a mental phenomenon, a constructed image, or hologram. Matter is a representation of human understanding.

The implications of quantum discoveries are enormous. If subatomic particles do not take form until they are observed, they cannot be thought of as independent "things." They must instead be part of an interconnected and indivisible system. When Bohm picked up on this and studied plasmas, for example, he found that "once they were in a plasma, electrons stopped behaving like individuals and started behaving as if they were part of a larger and interconnected whole" (Talbot, 1990, p. 38). If subatomic particles are not independent things, then "wholeness" is the primary reality. Bohm also observed that at the subquantum level, location ceases to exist. Because nothing is separate from anything else, all points in space are equal to all other points in space.

Everything in the Universe is part of a vast dynamic continuum that Dr. Bohm (1987) calls the holomovement. Nothing is separate from anything else and all is the same substance: "One enormous something that has extended its uncountable arms and appendages into all the apparent objects, atoms, restless oceans, and twinkling stars in the cosmos" (Talbot, 1991, p. 48). The varied patterns or elements of the Universe are constantly shifting, flowing in and out of perception, enfolded and enfolding, unfolded and unfolding. The part of the Universe that is enfolded and which we cannot perceive, Bohm calls the Implicate Order. That aspect which is unfolded so that we are aware of it is called the Explicate Order. The Implicate Order is infinitely greater than the Explicate. Constant enfolding… [END OF PREVIEW]

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