What is it about Sri Lanka?

Two brilliant western physicists – unshackled by “group think” – gravitated there.

Arthur C Clarke “advanced intelligence would be indistinguishable from magic” and 2001 A Space Odyssey.

Milo Wolff interpreting the meaning underlying Schroedinger and Einstein’s work on waves into his “Wave Structure of Matter”.

Both lived in Sri Lanka..

Oh, and ..We honeymooned there (Bentota. Magical)

Direct with passion

We spend our lives, all of us, waiting for the great day, the great battle, or the deed of power. But that external consummation is not given to many: nor is it necessary. So long as our being is tensed, directed with passion, towards that which is the spirit of all things, then that spirit will emerge from our own hidden, nameless effort.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

When poetry collides with physics

“The hint half guessed, the gift half understood, is Incarnation. Here the impossible union Of spheres of existence is actual, Here the past and future Are conquered, and reconciled,”

The Dry Salvages T. S. Eliot

“In quantum mechanics, wave function collapse occurs when a wave function—initially in a superposition of several eigenstates—reduces to a single eigenstate due to interaction with the external world. … Significantly, the combined wave function of the system and environment continue to obey the Schrödinger equation.”

Wikipedia “Superposition collapse”

TS Eliot, after the despair of The Wasteland, came to his realisation that the only way out of the endless cycle (“when is there an end to it, the voiceless wailing”) is the intersection between now and infinity -the Incarnation. The universe does not revolve around humans. Neither are we apart from all-that-is. Rather we are here to bear witness; or as quantum physics might put – to be observers – and thus to crystallise actual from the infinity of potential. What they would call observation collapsing the wave function, is what Eliot calls The Incarnation.

Harnessing Love

“The day will come when, after harnessing space, the winds, the tides, and gravitation, we shall harness for God the energies of love. And on that day, for the second time in the history of the world, we shall have discovered fire.”

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin – The Evolution of Chastity,” in Toward the Future, 1936, XI, 86-87)

Trust in the slow work

“Above all, trust in the slow work of God.
We are quite naturally impatient in everything
to reach the end without delay.
We should like to skip the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being on the way to something
unknown, something new.
And yet it is the law of all progress
that it is made by passing through
some stages of instability—
and that it may take a very long time.

And so I think it is with you;
your ideas mature gradually—let them grow,
let them shape themselves, without undue haste.
Don’t try to force them on,
as though you could be today what time
(that is to say, grace and circumstances
acting on your own good will)
will make of you tomorrow.

Only God could say what this new spirit
gradually forming within you will be.
Give Our Lord the benefit of believing
that his hand is leading you,
and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself
in suspense and incomplete.”
― Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

We, the force

Carl Jung first wrote about the “collective unconscious”. This lies below and as a foundation of our own individual unconscious. It is a pooling between us, now and in the past. It is also one gateway (I believe) to the shared life beyond the fragility of our mind in the life – our material consciousness – the Brahman of Hinduism or Nirvana of Buddhism, that can be glimpsed through meditation.

The collective unconscious speaks in a language both of archetypes and mandalas. Archetypes are the powerful shared images which make so many movies effective for instance the monster in the dark of horror films and the ecstasy of union and community of Avatar. Mandalas reflect perfection in images and seem, at least to me to be linked to the beautiful fractals of chaos theory that underlay existence. (look at free fractal apps on your iPhone for a direct view of reality!).

It is only our mind, this particular consciousness that dies, this is anyway an illusion. If we can connect to the shared stream of unconsciousness now , then we already experience our immortality. Through prayer, meditation, connection with our loved ones or nature – even the cinema.

After all, the movies are right, forget what people call it – Avatar is what awaits. May the Force be with us.

The human phenomenon

De Chardin’s work is scintillating – a brilliant piece of philosophical science. But, oh how difficult to access! It appears as a work of nineteenth century charismatic spirituality, language calculated to repel a positivist scientist. Yet it deals with concepts and theories that bring together quantum mechanics, relativity, geology, evolutionary biology and anthropology. One struggles to absorb the width of his landscape.
And he distils some compelling concepts.
Material evolution started at the big bang with occasional phase-shifts from plasma to atoms, from giant molecules to cellular life, from complex organisms to the birth of ideas. Evolution within the geosphere (the crystallising and polymerising worlds) leading to the biosphere and now the noosphere.
A duality of material and spiritual, which he calls the “without” and “within”. He traces the development of the “within”, an evolution of consciousness. He names man as a stage in that process associated with the phase-shift from the evolution of biology to the evolution of ideas.
He shows that everything, both material and spiritual in each phase has common properties – plurality, unity and energy.
His ideas have of course been widely adopted, but almost by stealth and by others. He was a Jesuit priest, and the church tried to gag him. He bowed to pressure, because of his vows of obedience, and much of his work came to light after his death. . De Chardin’s work gloriously and selflessly witnesses the growth of God within and between us. What an irony that the entombed treasury of his ideas was pillaged most famously by Richard Dawkins (memes? Noosphere…), who is of course the Ian Paisly of atheism.
It is meat and needs to be chewed, but it is rich meat and will repay the effort.