Quantum Reality in Daily Life
The essay is about the implications of the latest researches in quantum physics and their relevance to human life.
Probably the same mechanism that is responsible for our imagination is at work in the working of the universe also because our imagination knows no bounds just as the reality of the universe. In both spheres everything is possible, and nothing is stable or certain. Jayaram V
Modern research in quantum physics revealed many truths about the nature of existence, causality, probability and reality. Some of them are relevant to our lives since they give us an incredible perspective on the world and ourselves and help us dispel long standing irrational beliefs. In the following discussion we will focus upon a few principles and discoveries of quantum physics which can be applied to our lives to improve our thinking and attitude towards our current notions of reality, life and existence.
1. Life happens in interactions, relationships and perceptions
You have two states, a passive state and an active state, just as every elementary particle has a positive and negative charge. People do not notice you or know much about you when you are in a passive state. When you are passive and withdrawn, they may see you but cannot know what is going on in your mind. If you do not lead an active life or engage with the world, your opportunities to succeed in life or experience happiness and fulfillment remain limited.
You may live alone and prefer to be secluded, but life happens only when you engage in actions, pursue goals, relate to something, respond to something, or deal with some problem or situation. It is in interactions and relationships with people and things that life happens, which others can notice and know that you exist. It is by engaging with the world that you experience the beauty, richness, tragedy, diversity and immensity of life.
The same thing happens to the quanta or the subatomic particles, which make up an atom. You come to know about their existence only when they interact with other particles or jump from one orbit to another in the atom. In other words, they appear from nowhere when they are active only. Otherwise, you may not know whether they exist at all or where. In life, other people come to know about you only when you meet them or when you directly or indirectly interact with them. Otherwise, as in case of particles you do not exist for them.
If you are a quiet person, in that quietness also life happens only when you interact with the objects and the world that exist in you our outside you. Your awareness arises from the interaction between the duality of subject and object. In deep sleep, when the objects are missing, your mind goes into an inactive and restful state, and no one knows where your consciousness resides in that deep silence or whether it exists at all.
2. Reality exists in the moment of time not in Time as such
There is no continuity of experience or time as such in the universe or in life, just the illusion of it. Reality exists in the brief moment of interaction between the subject and object. You may experience the illusion of continuity in life, but in truth there is no continuity. There is also no timeline as such, just a series of random dots, that you connect in your consciousness to create the illusion of history and continuity.
Take for example, history. What is history? It is what we have decided to remember as part of our collective past, not everything that happened. The history that we know is just an illusion. Mathematically, it is not even sufficient to qualify as a viable sample of the past. You may perhaps need a million books worth of space to store all the information that happens upon earth in a single day. That is the reality compared to the illusion of history that we learn and study in schools and universities.
Same is true with your life. What you remember as your childhood, is but the minutest fraction of what you experienced each moment in your life as a child. Even that may be incomplete because several events might have happened in the background or in you without your knowledge. On the top of it, you might have consciously or unconsciously embellished it with confused memory, imagination, falsehood and distortion. Most biographies of great people are perfect examples of how the world creates the illusion of reality and greatness with selective information, exaggeration and distortion of facts. It is why the past always looks better than the present.
The moment that has gone has gone forever. You cannot bring it back, although you may remember parts of it. Future is also just a notion. It may exist as an idea or expectation, but not as a reality until it happens. The only reality that you can grasp, whether in your life or in the quantum field of atoms, is the reality of the moment. Once it passes, the reality associated with it passes too. It will never repeat in the same manner. What stays in you is a (not 'the') memory of the event or an after image, if that image is worth something to you. Otherwise, you may not even remember it.
There is also no continuity of time, just the illusion of it. There is no real continuity from one moment of perception to another. The continuity is an illusion of the mind, a construct or superimposition of your mind just as you conjure up a story when see some images. We may pair those disconnected points of experience together to create the sense of being in the flow or the illusion of life, or to relate to the world and its aspects. It is the same with time. We experience the illusion of past, present and future to make sense of our lives and to use our experiential knowledge and memory for our survival and wellbeing.
Quantum reality suggests that time is not continuous but bound to a particular location in space. There is really no “Now,” but only “Here.” The Now is inseparably connected to the Here. Without the one, the other does not exist. Quantum physics states that Time is made up of infinitesimal number of small units which are woven into the fabric of space, just as infinitesimal, isolated memories are woven into the fabric of consciousness, bound to specific neurons. Even the space is not continuous but made up of little units, which are bound to time. The illusion of time and space helps us keep our sanity and the illusion of order and regularity. At the same time our preoccupation with past or future also leads to mental and emotional problems, which prevent us from enjoying the moment.
3. Reality is a creation of random events and largely uncertain
Reality is largely a matter of probabilities and statistical possibilities, so is life. According to quantum physics, there is no blue print for the universe. There is no hidden plan, but unstable structures and systems that facilitate the possibility and the probability of certain events or effects that may or may not always happen with the same precision. No one can predict when two electrons will collide in space, but you may conclude that if a large of number of them are present in the same space, they may most likely interact and produce an effect that may fall within a probable range of possibility. The same is true with our lives. We never know with certainty what may happen, but only the possibility or probability of something happening.
Even the known laws of physics can be reversed or manipulated by changing the factors that facilitate their probable occurrence. There are no universal constants which can happen, without the factors that may precipitate them. For example, one plus one is two, but not necessarily always (1 x 0 + 1 x 0 = 0). In other words, in the universe nothing is constant or permanent. Reality is contextual, event driven, and a product of probabilities and possibilities. It is always relative to the factors that make it possible.
Chance and randomness are the undercurrents of existence. The universe came into existence purely by chance because a number of facilitating factors manifested together in time and space to make it possible. Probably, life upon earth too happened in a similar manner. Life evolves upon earth through random genetic mutations to increase the probability of better species replacing the weaker ones. However, no one can accurately predict such happenings. You can see the play of chance or randomness in our lives too. No one can predict your birth until you are conceived. No one can accurately predict your death until it happens or unless the factors that precipitate it appear. While you may take credit for your successes, the truth is chance plays a significant role in shaping your life. The people you meet, the events that happen are mostly random events which are beyond your control and which you may later attribute to certain causes to create the story of your life.
Our lives are unstable, uncertain and depend upon many factors to thrive. No one knows what will happen or how our plans and actions will eventually take shape. One may know the probability of something happening, like eating your lunch or attending a meeting, but not with 100% certainty. No one can be 100% sure when and whether one will succeed or fail in one's life or actions. However, one can improve the probability of chance by taking necessary measures and creating right conditions.
Even the simplest actions such as eating or breathing can go wrong. The causes do not always produce the same results, because a lot need to happen between them for the effect to manifest. This truth should help us to approach the problems of life with caution and an open mind, not to take anything for granted and not to view every failure as a personal failure. Instead, we must set realistic goals, prepare realistic plans and intelligently use our resources to increase the possibilities and probabilities of achieving success and fulfillment.
How can the knowledge of Quantum Reality help us in real life?
If we are the random products of the universe, why are we here? Is there any purpose to our existence at all? Are we even relevant or important to the universe? We may give probable answers to these question, using our knowledge or speculation, but no one can answer them with certainty. It is the truth. We learn from quantum physics that the reality of the universe is more like water or air rather than stone. Any answer to its riddles is just a possibility. Just as you can travel from one point to another in the universe in numerous ways, there are numerous answers to the riddles of life and numerous ways to approach any problem. Hence, there are no definite answers to anything in this universe. Every question regarding its principles, functions or mechanism may lead us in several directions.
It is probably part of the mechanism and the principles by which the universe exists and reality manifests. Plasticity and flexibility give the universe incredible freedom and opportunity to manifest realty in diverse ways without limiting itself. It is the same with your imagination, which is very flexible and has no limits. You can push it in any way you want. You can create whatever you want with it. Probably the same mechanism which precipitates reality in the universe is also at work in our imagination. Interestingly, imagination is what shaped our civilization and made all the scientific progress possible upon earth.
This knowledge should help us to keep our minds open and flexible and maximize our chances of survival, success, peace and happiness. Without becoming prisoners of our assumptions, rigid beliefs and opinions, we can open ourselves to immense possibilities. Without worrying about the past or the present, we can be attentive to the reality of the moment, here and now, and live with greater awareness, mindfulness, knowledge and understanding.
The universe probably has its own intelligence or a mechanism like our imagination, or perhaps not. No one can tell. What we can do is to put the principles of the quantum universe to work, knowing that we are alive when we are active, and we can precipitate reality by creating favorable circumstances. While we cannot be sure of future, we can always depend upon possibilities and probabilities to plan our lives and engage in actions. It is better to understand the underlying mechanism and laws of the universe and live in harmony with them, keeping our minds open to truth and letting our imagination and creativity find solutions to our problems in life. In this regard the following suggestion are useful.
- One should not avoid his or her duties and responsibilities. To be active means to be alive. It is through actions that we express ourselves and experience the richness and diversity of life. To remain engaged with the processes of life is therefore important.
- There is nothing certain in the world. Life flows in all directions. Therefore, keep your mind open and flexible, free from judgments, assumptions and preconceived notions. Consider all scenarios and possibilities before making any important decision. People whose minds are flexible and open and who are not afraid to take risks and experiment, like Nature, have greater chances of achieving success and fulfillment in their lives.
- Life is uncertain. No one can predict what may happen. You have little or no control over the random events and the play of chance in your life. However, you can increase the probability of chance or the possibility of certain events happening by creating necessary conditions and taking right actions.
- You may learn from others, but you should go by your own experience because what happened to others do not necessarily happen to you. You may learn the lessons of life from others but you should customize them and plan your life according to your own experience, circumstances and reality.
- Bring spontaneity into your life rather than living rigidly according to the conditioning and mental programming that influence your thinking, behavior and perceptions. Understand how society and various institutions and authority figures take away your freedom to think for yourself or think clearly without prejudice and preconceived notions. You can be spontaneous only when you pay attention to the present moment or the current reality, here and now.
- Human imagination seems to be very similar or identical to the mechanism that makes the universe precipitate reality in whichever way possible without limiting itself. Therefore, use the power of visualization and creative imagination to break free from the shackles of your mind, see newer possibilities, play out different scenarios, learn new skills, solve your problems and overcome challenges.
- Focus on the possibilities and probabilities when you begin a new course of action, set your goals or plan your actions. While the result is not in your hands, you can certainly improve your chances of success by focusing your skills, knowledge, methods, techniques and proper use of other resources. Since causes do not always produce the same results, you should focus on creating necessary conditions for increasing their probability.
We are products of Nature. We are part of the universe. The same atoms and subatomic particles that make up the universe, billions of stars, galaxies and planets also make up our bodies, minds, and consciousness. The same principles of quantum reality are at operation at the subatomic level in our bodies. As we have been indoctrinated beyond redemption for centuries by false doctrines and unfounded beliefs, we need a paradigm shift in our thinking and approach to understand how precarious our existence is and how it can all vanish in no time if we change even a little of the probabilities and statistical possibilities that favor our existence and that of our planet. We may live under the illusion that miraculous help will come from above, but who can tell with certainty? We may live and act as if we are going to be here forever, but at some point reality may sound the boom of doom in the heart of our existence.
Even if the Supreme Being is behind all this, he may remain a passive witness and let chance and probability, which are part of natural existence, take care of the essential and existential reality. It is highly doubtful whether like our imaginative, free flowing, highly unstable and curious minds, the universe will produce only limited results or particular realities. Probably, it will be more inclined to work freely producing probabilities and possibilities that would manifest innumerable realities in the macrocosm of the stars, galaxies and interstellar spaces as well as in the microcosm of living entities and in their limited field of experience and consciousness. If you look at the night sky and watch those stars, and imagine the invisible planets that circle around them, you will realize that perhaps it has already been going on for billions of years.
The truth of our existential reality is that it is always qualified by perhaps, may be, probably, and possibly. The Buddha was aware of the indeterminate nature of existence. Therefore, he remained silent about it and urged his followers not to speculate upon it.
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