Tami Simon: You’re listening to “Insights at the Edge.” Today I speak with Dr. Fred Alan Wolf. Dr. Wolf is a physicist, writer, and lecturer who earned his PhD in theoretical physics at UCLA in 1963. He was featured in the groundbreaking film What the Bleep Do We Know? and has written many popular books on physics, including the National Book Award–winning Taking the Quantum Leap.
At Sounds True, we call Dr. Fred Alan Wolf “Dr. Quantum,” and we have worked with Dr. Quantum to create several audio titles, including Dr. Quantum Presents: Do-It-Yourself Time Travel; Dr. Quantum Presents: A User’s Guide to Your Universe; and Dr. Quantum Presents: Meet the Real Creator—You!
In this episode of “Insights at the Edge,” Dr. Quantum and I spoke about three life-changing insights from quantum physics. We also spoke about complementary observation, identifying with the mind of God, and recognizing that everything is made of light. Here’s my conversation with Dr. Quantum.
Now, I’m speaking with Dr. Quantum. Is that right?
Dr. Quantum: Yes, you may call me that, or you may call me Dr. Fred Alan Wolf, but don’t call me late for dinner, as the old joke used to go!
TS: And you’ve created a program with us called A User’s Guide to Your Universe. And what I’d like to know, Dr. Quantum, is if you had to tell me the three most important discoveries, revelations, insights, from quantum physics that will actually change my life, that really will make a difference to me, that I just have to know, what are they?
DQ: Wow. Do I have about three years to think about it? No, I’m only kidding! What are the three most important things?
Let’s start with number one. The most important thing I can think of that you need to know from quantum physics is that the universe is not made of solid stuff, but is made from the acts of consciousness that are brought to bear upon it. And since you as a human being are a conscious, a hopefully conscious human being, that means that you, whether you like it or not, are affecting the universe by your presence and your actions of awareness, your actions of consciousness. That seems to be a conclusion that quantum physicists have been reluctant to come to, but seem to be ever-drawing toward as we move into the twenty-first century. So that’s number one.
TS: Let’s pause for a moment, because I want to ask you a question about that, if I can, which is about “acts of consciousness.” Well, humans have acts of consciousness, I imagine animals do as well. Is the whole universe generating these acts of consciousness?
DQ: This is the best picture we have right now. It’s not necessarily the final picture, but it’s the best picture we have right now. The best picture we have right now is that matter itself is not made of solid little hunks; it’s not itself material. Matter seems to be made of light, and this light spins like a whirling dervish, and interacts with something that we call in physics the Higgs field, which seems to be an invisible field that prevails and pervades all of space and time. And I look at it as the mind of God, as a God-mind. And it seems to bring into being the existence of solid hunks of matter, and the awareness that there are solid hunks of matter. So both the material world and the awareness of the material world arise together.
And so the way that works, the way it seems to work, is at the deepest level, it seems to be a very highly intelligent but basically noncaring. [I mean noncaring] in the sense of worrying about what you would need to know, or what somebody else needs to know, but caring in a sense of making sure that a matrix of possibilities is formed, so that everybody can get into the act, so to speak. It’s kind of a democratic matrix formation.
That seems to be what appears to be happening. And that gives human beings an opportunity to alter and change at a much greater macroscopic level the events of their lives.
TS: OK. I think I might be with you for number one. Maybe you could just restate it, and let me know how knowing this actually has changed your life and could change mine, and then we’ll move on to number two.
DQ: OK. Well, the first thing that this brings to bear, when you finally cognate and recognize what it means, is that any label or any attachment you have—and this now goes into Buddhist and ancient mystical theology, if you will—but any attachment that you have to a name, a process, a way of being, a way of thinking about yourself, and any of those things are themselves constructs of this field. And they’re not permanent; they’re not fixed; they’re not defined to such an extent that they cannot be changed by your own actions to change them.
And I think this is probably the most important thing to know, is that you can change, and that the physical universe isn’t preventing you from making those changes. In fact, it says that you’re going to be changing even if you don’t want to change. So there’s a battle going on, if you will, with the will to maintain a status quo and with this kind of consciousness bubbling up, which is changing things all the time. And that gives us the nature of time, it gives us the nature of consciousness, it gives us the nature of what it is to be a human being.
I don’t know if that explained it any shortly. Maybe I’m elaborating too much.
TS: No, I think that’s good. So the first insight from quantum physics is that we live in a field of consciousness, and all acts of consciousness are always changing, influencing, creating fluid movement. Something like that?
DQ: Right. Yes, that’s very good! It doesn’t even have to be fluid motion, fluid movement. It could be sudden pops. In my books I call them “popping the qwf.” And “qwf” is a euphemism for “quantum wave function,” which is the field of possibility, which suddenly changes when you have a recognition, or you carry out an act, or you become consciously aware of something. That action that you take then, call it “popping the qwf,” could be sudden and discontinuous. It doesn’t have to be a flow in which things are gradually changing; it can be pop! And big jump, quantum leap.
TS: OK, very cool, but I didn’t quite follow the qwf. Can you explain that a little slower?
DQ: Yes. It’s a euphemism. It’s spelled “qwf,” and it stands for “quantum wave function.” It’s the name that physicists have given to the probability field that exists, and from which all material processes arise.
TS: And we pop the qwf when—
DQ: “Popping the qwf” means that since the qwf is a field of possibility, or a field of probability, it means it contains within itself all the different kinds of possibilities.
For example, let’s take a coin, a simple, ordinary coin. If the coin were, say, the size of an atom, it would have two sides, head and tail. And if it were a real coin, if it were a solid coin as we have our normal coins, as we see them, it would have a head showing or a tail showing. But in the qwf, both head and tail are showing simultaneously until an action of observation—that’s where you come into the picture—observes. And at that point, it pops from being both heads and tails, to being heads or tails.
TS: OK. I think I understand the power of acts of consciousness from this example.
DQ: The power is really that you— This is a little bit confusing. People think there’s just one thing you can do, is just choose to act and it will happen. It doesn’t work that way. There are complementary ways of acting, or complementary ways of observing. And if you choose to observe in a certain kind of way, then you will only get the actions that pop into existence from that kind of way of observing. If you choose to observe in a complementary way—I’ll give you some examples of what I mean in a moment—if you choose to observe in a complementary way, then things will pop into existence that fit that way of observing.
A typical example—and this is a metaphor, but maybe actually what’s happening inside of a human being—is we use feelings and thoughts. We tend to feel about things a certain way, and we may use our feelings to actually evaluate or make judgments or make decisions about which actions we should take in the future, and what we should do about our relationships and so forth.
But we can also apply something we call “thinking mode.” And thinking is complementary to feeling, but when you think about things, your feelings really aren’t entering into it. The typical stereotype thinker, of course, might be the physicist, who builds atom bombs and doesn’t feel anything about what the course of his actions will be, where a typical feeler would be the stereotype softie, or the stereotype person who is very sensitive, say a musician or a poet or something like that.
And so we have this complementarity going on. Every human being has a bit of the poet and a bit of the physicist inside of them, so they tend to act “rationally” in a thinking mode, or they tend to act “irrational” in a feeling mode, which doesn’t mean it’s crazy, it just simply means you’re not using your thinking mode, you’re going on your feelings. Feelings are often attached to intuitions, for example.
TS: OK. And your purpose in helping me understand these two different modes of relating is what exactly? That I pop the qwf in different ways?
DQ: Well, it’s to let you know that regardless of what you think you are, however you classify yourself in any kind of way, that the opposite or complementary matter of looking at the world and yourself is always present, so that you don’t have to—there’s nothing mandatory about you being or thinking of yourself as you presently do. In other words, you can pretend, if you will, that the universe, the world, your home, wherever you are, is a stage and you’re an actor upon the stage. And you, by changing your act, so to speak, are changing the way you go about making observations of others and of yourself.
So Buddhists practice the action of compassion. Warriors and marines practice the action of the warrior or the killer. These are very different modes, but yet they’re simply acts, they’re actions that we take. The marine is not necessarily a killer, and the Buddhist is not necessarily a holy person. But they act that way, and as a result [they] observe themselves and the world that way, and the world that comes into being for them fits that mode. So the marine walks into the world of war, and the Buddhist meditator walks into the Buddhist monastery.
TS: So in terms of thinking and feeling, if I associate myself primarily with, let’s say, being a feeler, you’re saying that that is then creating a world because I’m experiencing the world through my feelings, and I could equally try experiencing the world through my thinking mind, and I would experience a different but equally valid world?
DQ: Valid or not valid—validity is another judgment call. What is valid? What might be valid for a bunch of people in terms of carrying out mathematical operations may have no validity in terms of determining how you feel about people that carry out operations in mathematics. So validity is a question of agreement between, say, you and others as to what should be the valid way of going about things. But both in this, to answer your question shortly, both are equally valid.
TS: And the importance here is for us to understand how flexible our world is, how we impact it through the method of observation and relationship that we choose?
DQ: Yes. It’s important to realize that. It’s also important to realize there’s a resistance; it’s also important to realize that things don’t just change because you will or wish them to change. There is inertia. The whole purpose of having a universe is to bring a resistance or inertia—I mean, matter itself is inert. It resists movements and changes. And our thought processes are like that; they will resist changes.
So the whole point of this is if everybody got what they wanted instantaneously, we would be living in a wispy world of no material. And that may seem ideal to some of us who are burdened by the enormous weights we carry, both mentally and physically, but in a few hours of just doing that, you’d be very bored, because everything you wanted you would get, and after a while you realize that wanting things and getting them aren’t the same things, and you realize that having them is not the same thing as wanting them or getting them! And they’re not the same things. And after a while, you realize, “This is kind of boring! Where’s the fight? Where’s the battle? Where’s the resistance? I want to feel that I’m achieving something. I want a goal!” That’s part of our nature.
TS: So let’s go on to the second insight from quantum physics that you think is life changing.
DQ: Well, the second one is one I’ve actually already mentioned, and that is that there is a mind-field that must be present in order for there to be a universe. And the most important thing you could learn to do is to identify with it, rather than with your egoic consciousness. It doesn’t mean that you lose your egoic consciousness, but you recognize it from a witness point of view.
You identify with the mind-field, and immediately certain things drop away: the fear of death drops away, you don’t feel horrible that you’re going to die because in a way, you don’t really die. Once you identify with that which is constantly there, it doesn’t die. So you’re identifying with the mind of God, the mind-field, whatever you want to call it.
So if you identify with it, then you have a power, a kind of ease with your life. That’s maybe a good thing for people that are very stressed, but then again it could be a bad thing because then you’d stop caring about “Well, should I do this? Well, it doesn’t make a difference if I’m already the mind of God anyway, whether I live or die doesn’t make any difference!” And then you get into this other kind of apathy, which we tend sometimes to find in spiritual belief [systems]. People get apathetic because once they fall into that way of thinking, they stop thinking about what to do as an egoic self.
So the whole idea is to identify with it, but don’t completely identify with it! You have to understand that you are an illusion, but play the game anyway, because actually it’s very boring just being the mind of God! It doesn’t do much. What’s really exciting is being the mind of Tami or the mind of Fred or the mind of a listener, or the mind of anybody who’s got a sense of being in a body and a sense of doing something with their lives.
TS: Now, when you say the “mind-field,” can you tell me— You said the “mind-field,” the “mind of God.” Can you explain more what you mean by that?
DQ: First let me try to get at it from the point of view of quantum physics, because the idea came about in about the midsixties. It was discovered by a couple of physicists, one whose name is Peter Higgs, and actually today it’s called the Higgs field. And what physicists were interested in was, how does matter come into being? How does mass arise? The reason that became interesting to them is because they realized that matter can go out of being; they realized that matter could be annihilated and disappear. We have so-called positron, electron annihilation events, and we have what is called position emission tomography, for example, in typical diagnostic tool in hospitals. These are all based on the notion of matter and antimatter, so-called antimatter, colliding and going out of existence by producing a burst of energy.
So the whole then became, well, if matter could disappear like that, mass vanishing into this pure energy, then maybe we need to look at how matter came into being in the first place. And so what people began to realize is a kind of a picture—which by the way is in my book Time Loops and Space Twists, which will be in the bookstores March. I probably shouldn’t say a date on this, but March 2011 you’ll be able to see this book, and it’s explained more carefully there.
But the whole idea is that this mind-field seems to interact with light, and it interacts with light in a certain way. And it actually makes the light do a kind of a dance, a zigzagging dance. And as it zigzags, it appears to be twisting and turning and spinning, and it appears to be solid, it starts to take on a solidified form, kind of like a bubble appears in a liquid. This would be kind of a form appearing in this mind-field. So it’s light becoming material, [and this] is a process we see happening. And we’re just beginning to understand how that works. It’s much more complicated than I’m explaining right now, but that basically is it.
I then made the leap, which is my own speculation here, that this process is also something that involves mind, that there’s an order that comes out, a recognition or a pattern that seems to come out, which I take to be the pattern of mindful activity, or mind-activity. And this is where I got the notion that the Higgs field is really the same thing as the mind of God.
TS: And what does it feel like to you? How would you describe from the inside of your experience what it feels like to identify with the mind-field?
DQ: Well, that’s interesting, isn’t it, because I’m giving all what I think about it, now how does it feel to me? Well, it feels to me like me! I am that process, so my experience of what I’m doing right now, the thoughts that are arising, that are popping into existence by the ability of my throat to constrict and open and have my vocal cords vibrate at certain frequencies, all of that, all those processes that I become consciously aware of, that’s what it feels like. It feels like that, it senses like that, it intuits like that. It’s what that is.
That mystery, that whole question of who I am, what I am, and how I come to be in a state of asking that question of who I am, what I am, is a process. And that process is the mind-field directing light into following a zigzag path, making into material processes and recognition of those material processes as a being, a sentient being, separated in space and time.
TS: Now, you mentioned that when we know how to identify with the mind-field, when this comes naturally to us, our fear of death doesn’t exist anymore. And I’m curious first of all if this is true for you.
DQ: Oh yes, sure! Sure, it’s been true for me for a long time. As soon as I began realizing what was going on here, I simply accepted it. Well, that makes the most sense to me. You see, it doesn’t make much sense that—in fact, any other explanation that I can think of, including the materialist explanation that consciousness is a byproduct of material processes, that to me doesn’t hold water. That to me seems totally wrong from many, many different perspectives.
So as I try to boil through and try to figure out what is really going on, why am I having this experience of being alive, it dawns on me that this is what this field is doing, that I am that field. So once I took that at heart, I began to just play with life rather than get caught in its web of illusion.
TS: So then even without a body, even without a brain, this identification with the mind-field will still be there?
DQ: Yes, because it’s there now. See, right now you think you’re the body, and you’re experiencing a lot of—a larger part of normal human experience is sensations, movement of, say, arms or legs or your voice, all those sensations that you’re having are of the body. But this mind-field is not just of the body. If you were to remove all of those sensations one by one, you would still have the mind-field present.
In fact, that’s what meditation is really all about, that’s what spiritual seeking is all about, that’s what Zen is all about, is to remove the immediate environment of the body so that one can begin to see that which is perceiving, rather than beginning to see that which is perceived. Most of us are perceiving that which is perceived, but the perceiver of that which is perceived is not usually perceived, until you can go into a state—however you do it, meditation works very well—in which the removal of those kinds of perceptions takes place. They drift away.
It’s like meditators will tell you: when a thought arises, watch it as a cloud, let it drift through, don’t get attached to it with the next thought. Let whatever comes up come, but don’t get attached to it. So the whole idea of nonattachment arises very naturally into this notion of going into the mind of God, the one mind, that which is perceiving rather than that which is perceived.
TS: OK. Let’s move on to the third insight. I know you could go on and on and on, and I’m limiting you just to three, but you’re playing along with me, Dr. Quantum!
DQ: Well, actually these are the three main ones. I mean, it’s funny that you picked three; I would have a hard time if you picked four! I could probably do it, but it would be stretching it a bit. But just with three, we can go to the third one, which is that everything is made of light. And that is really what the universe is made of.
If you think about making a cake, for example, the cake is made by mixing together various ingredients. The universe of matter is made by mixing together various kinds of light. Actually there’s only two basic kinds. One we call spin-½, and the other we call spin-1.
The spin-1 kind of light doesn’t interact very well with the mind-of-God field. Once it’s released, it’s allowed to do its thing: it carries information, it becomes the medium by which we become aware of what’s going on. And it interacts with the spin-½ kind of light, which is zigzagging in the mind of God. So the mind of God is constantly buttressing and playing with the spin-½ kind of light. And the spin-½ kind of light then sends messages backward and forward using the spin-1 kind of light.
These notions of spin-½ and spin-1 have to do with another kind of name. When light’s behaving that way, [when it’s behaving as] spin-½, we call them fermions, and when it’s spin-1 we call them photons, or ordinary light. So these are just more nomenclature, but you don’t have to know all that. Basically that’s how it works. Everything is made of light, and once one understands that, then one uses light as the medium by which the message is composed.
TS: OK. So the poet in me was very comfortable when you said, “Everything’s made of light, and this is our third point,” but when you got into spin-1 and spin-½, I totally lost you there. But also, how do we know this? And what does this mean, spin-1, spin-½?
DQ: It’s an interesting question. And it’s one I’ve written a whole book about trying to explain it; that’s what Times Loops and Space Twists is all about.
To know why it’s ½ or 1, these are what are called quantum numbers. And these quantum numbers arise in a very natural way from the mathematics of quantum physics. They’re not something you can intuitively grasp and say, “Ah! Now I understand why it’s that way.”
The spin-½, the story goes something like this: Spin-½ is kind of an incomplete thing. It’s trying to get more complete, and it does a funny kind of dance in doing that. And that dance we call electron. That’s the dance of the electron. The electron, which is the particle inside of us that makes all the atoms behave the way they do, that makes atoms different, is responsible for the reason why you breathe. You breathe in oxygen because it has a tendency to hold on to electrons, and you need the electrons because the electrons are the things that are communicating light inside of your body, etc. So these particles are in a sense incomplete. These electrons are incomplete, but yet they’re very fundamental. And they behave in this kind of way.
They can be visualized as if they were barber poles. That sounds very funny, but remember the old-fashioned barber poles in front of the barbershop, and they would rotate with red and white stripes? Right? You do remember those, right?
TS: Yes. I’m with you, I’m totally with you.
DQ: OK. You can imagine the spin-½ particle is like a barber pole. And if you watch the barber pole, you’ll see that it’s doing a couple of things. First of all, the stripes are moving up the pole, or possibly down the pole, depending on which way it’s rotating. So spin-½ corresponds to having two possible rotations: it could be rotating so that the barber-pole stripes are going up, in which case we say it’s plus-½, or it could be rotating in such a way that the barber-pole stripes are going down, in which case we say it’s minus-½. So in other words, the spin-½ particle can either be pointing up or pointing down, or its barber-pole stripes can be moving upward or moving downward.
That’s an important part of why electrons behave the way they do: they pair up an atom so that when you start to build up the atomic core, the atomic orbits about every atom, they always pair up. That’s why I say each one is incomplete; they want to pair up. They’re always looking to find the opposite-pair spinner so that they can feel more complete, so to speak.
OK, so you could think of it that way. And you can also think of them in terms of having hands or being handy, having something we call helicity. This refers to if you take the barber pole with the stripes moving upward, and you grab hold of the barber pole with your right hand, your thumb will be pointing in the direction in which the stripes are rotating. OK? If the barber pole is spinning in the other direction and you grab hold of it, then your right hand won’t work. You have to use your left hand to get the direction right for the way that pole is spinning.
So you have to play with this in your mind a little bit to figure it all out, but basically these light particles of spin-½ are like barber poles that come into existence, and they’re always trying to complete themselves. And that’s where we have this business of maybe ourselves feeling incomplete, or seeking soul, or seeking connection, because the particles, the spin-½ particles of light of which we are made, are trying to essentially go to the whole complete spin-1 world, in which there is no more of this game going on. And you might think of that like the moment of death, or it could even be considered the moment of birth, in which this is first coming into being.
So this gets a little metaphysical, but I think you have some idea of what I’m talking about.
TS: Now, how would you say that this understanding that everything in the universe is made of light, whether it’s spin-1 or spin-½ light, how does this understanding change or affect potentially the way we live our lives?
DQ: Well, that’s an interesting question. It’s certainly has affected mine, because the thing that I have always been engrossed with all my life is: How does the universe work? How does it work? How is it that I’m here? What is going on? Is there God? If there’s God, how do I discover God? If there’s no God, what makes me come to that conclusion? And so on. These are the questions that bubble up through me.
So as you ask yourself these kinds of questions, and you begin to seek and find answers in which you have of course in physics a mathematical understanding, and then you begin to piece them together in terms of the English language. As you begin to do that kind of activity, there’s a feeling, a kind of a mystical feeling, a feeling of what I would call great joy. It’s a joyous feeling that arises.
And it’s almost too bad that most people in their everyday lives don’t get a chance to experience this kind of joy, because it’s a wonderful feeling. It’s very exhilarating. It’s feeling at one with God; it’s having a sense that you’re getting an idea, you’re getting to know how this all works. It’s an act both of faith, and also an act of rational belief. In other words, it’s a rational act to do, but it inspires faith, and it inspires a feeling of well-being.
So I would say that learning about how things are, or learning how things work and how the universe gets made, is inspiring. It gives you a feeling of well-being that you don’t get by trying to figure out how a vacuum cleaner works. You may enjoy learning how a vacuum cleaner works the first time you take it apart and put it back together again, if you ever were to do that, but after you get the idea of how it works, it’s pretty boring. But the universe always has surprises in it. There’s always mysteries in it. So even as you get closer and closer to understanding it, there’s always something that eludes your grasp. And I think that’s what gives one inspiration and joy.
TS: Dr. Quantum, I’m curious in your own life, did your insights come because you read and studied about quantum physics, and then you went, “Aha! I get it”? Or did you have mystical experiences or other kinds of personal insights, and then you sought to have them confirmed through quantum physics? How has the process worked for you?
DQ: Well, it’s been a “both-and” kind of situation. If we go back some moments to the first action, which is that there’s a mind-field and that you have choices as to how you can go about observing yourself and others, once I began to observe myself through the action of what I’m talking about, this mind-field, this presence, [and seeing] that I’m not really just a name or this person but I’m something bigger than that, once I began looking at life that way, experiences that I would normally be blinded to, or would ignore or be unaware of, began to occur.
So more mystical types of experiences began to take place, and along with them came a greater sense of “I’m on the right path. I’m doing the right thing for me. This is what I need to be doing. I need to keep inquiring. I may not know why I’m inquiring about this particular thing right now, but I have the faith that I’m on the right path, so I’ll keep going.”
So they go hand in hand. Once you choose to go on that path, after a while experiences that take place for you that normally would not take place had you not chosen that path, [these experiences] begin to take place, and then you have a reinforcement that you made the right choice.
TS: Can you share with us what you mean? What type of experience? Can you give an example?
DQ: Well, there are many kinds. There are enormous numbers of them.
TS: From your own personal life.
DQ: Oh yes, sure. Some of them are kind of sad, some of them are very amazing. I don’t know where to begin, I’ve had so many.
TS: Let’s go with one of each, one of each variety, a sad one and then an ecstatic one.
DQ: OK. One of the most profound things that happened first of all has to do with death. It’s ecstatic but at the same time it’s sad, because you’re dealing with death. I’ve lost some people who were very close to me. I lost a son who was killed by a drunken driver when he was 25 years old.
TS: I’m sorry.
DQ: I lost both my parents. And because of where I was going with myself, I would get what I would call lucid-dream states, in which these people would appear to me in several dream varieties. As time evolved after their deaths, I would see these people, we would talk, we would have experiences together, and I would get some insight from what they were experiencing, assuming of course that what I was experiencing was them talking to me, and not just an imaginary realm of my own mind playing tricks on me in some kind of weird way. That gave me kind of a faith that death was not the end of the road. So that’s definitely one of the things that happened to me.
I’d had experiences when I was with shamans in various parts of the world, with shamans in the jungle in which I began to see that my personality had divisions in it, that I wasn’t just one person, that there were several different “beings” inside of me, and each of them had their own way of thinking and being. Some of them were more negative, some of them were more positive, some of them were very cranky, some of them were very sexy, some of them were feeling elated about everything, some of them were feeling dejected—these different beings, they weren’t just feelings, they were actual beings that were me, that came over me, and seemingly without my control.
Once I got to see that these were beings of me coming into being, I was able to control that, and I no longer— For example, when somebody came in and said, “That was a stupid thing to do,” I would turn around and talk to it, and say, “Yes, I know that was a stupid thing to do. But don’t worry about it, because I’ve got it handled.” And then he would shut up! In other words, once I acknowledge the critic inside of me, the one who was always complaining about everything, he was no longer in control.
In other words, some people when something bad happens to them, they have to smash the guy in the mouth, or like the typical road-rage driver: “You cut in front of me, you SOB! I’m going to knock you out, I’m going to kill you!” This kind of insanity that goes on. People, if they recognize that’s only a being that’s come into being, that they themselves can get rid of just by recognizing it, that makes it disappear, makes it go away.
So one time on Larry King’s show, he asked me about depression. He wanted to know how quantum physics could help him with his depression. I said, “Well, you have to ask yourself a very simple question. When you’re feeling depressed, you have to ask yourself this question: Who is feeling depressed?
But you must not answer the question, because if you answer the question, then you will identify who has answered the question. And what you want to do is stay away from that answering being, because that’s not going to lift you out of the depression. But merely asking the question will, because to ask a question and to know the question are complementary to each other. And as long as you’re asking and not knowing the answer, whatever feeling that’s arising in you as a result of answering the question will begin to dissipate. So you can actually cure yourself of depressive thoughts by simply asking yourself who’s feeling this depression, and not answering the question.
And you have to work on it. You can’t just do it once and say, “Oh well, I’ve dealt with it.” You’ve got to keep doing it every time the feeling arises, [you have to ask the question] “Who is feeling this, who is having this feeling?” without answering it. The more you do that, the more you begin to get into this what I call the mind of God.
TS: You ask the question, and then you start hearing answers. What do you do with the answers?
DQ: You just let them be, but you yourself just simply don’t get caught up with the answer. You don’t answer the question, you don’t say to yourself, “That’s the answer.” You don’t identify with the answerer. You keep identifying with the questioner.
TS: OK. I love asking you these big questions, Dr. Quantum, because these are things that you’ve wrestled with and investigated and written books on. So we’re going to move on, and I’d love to know what Dr. Quantum knows, the essential insights, about time.
DQ: Wow! Time is the real biggie of this all. And I’m going to skirt that; I’m going to talk about it, I’m going to explain what I know, but I have to skirt it. Because asking anybody to explain time is like asking the fish that is swimming in water, and only knows the water, never has been out of water, never been hooked by a fisherman or something like that, to explain water, to know that it’s in water. It doesn’t know that, because that’s been its total environment. We’re like fish in water when it comes to being in time. Time is really in a sense our essential nature, and to recognize ourselves is to identify with what we call time.
Now, I sneak up on it in the following way, because I don’t really know what time is. In fact, I know what it is as long you don’t ask me. I think it was Thomas Aquinas—no, I can’t remember which priest it was from ancient times who was asked that question, and said that he knew the answers, provided that you didn’t ask him the question!
But the notion here is that when you look at the way the Higgs field or mind of God and spin-½ light play their game, the first thing you come to realize from Einstein’s relativity theory is that anything that moves at the speed of light, relative to us, is not moving relative to itself. And not only that, anything that moves relative to us will take a certain amount of time to go from one place to another. But from its point of view, there is no time passing at all.
So for light, let’s say a photon, which is born in the sun due to a nuclear reaction of some kind, and then comes and hits your eyeball and registers on your retina in some way. The birth of that photon and the death of that photon—which are eight minutes or eight-and-a-third minutes apart in time as far as we are concerned—for that photon there was no time at all. No time passed, and it didn’t go anywhere. Space and time do not exist for light.
This is relativity theory, and it’s completely impossible to understand in commonsensical terms. In my book I will explain that, but it has to be thought upon. You can’t just jump into it and think you’ve got it.
When you grasp that, [that space and time do not exist for light,] then you realize that time and space arise with matter. They’re not there to begin with. They arise. So that means that time has something to do with the notion of experience, or things arising. And that’s about the best I can do with it right now.
TS: Now, I know in your book The Yoga of Time Travel, you talk about this idea that it might be possible to “cheat time.” What do you mean by that? How do we cheat time?
DQ: That terminology of “cheating time” actually comes from an ancient Hindu Vedic text. It’s called kala-vancana, and they actually speak about it in that terminology. I thought it was very curious that they would call it cheating time.
What these yogis apparently discovered was that they experienced no time passing for themselves when they went into these deep meditative states. Time just disappeared for them. They would go into it, and in the next moment they were coming out of it, and they didn’t experience any time passing, and yet a whole day might have gone by. So they were in a different state, and in that state of consciousness, they were what is called cheating time. They weren’t experiencing time; time wasn’t grabbing hold of them and making them bow down to it by endless thoughts and worries and consternations of one kind or another.
TS: OK. That makes sense to me. In your program for Sounds True, Dr. Quantum Presents: Do-It-Yourself Time Travel, there’s this idea that we could travel into the future as well as into the past, and I’m wondering if you could talk a little bit about that. How might especially we travel into the future?
DQ: Well, that’s a little more esoteric in a certain sense. In another sense it’s very common. Every time that you make a choice to do something, or to not, you have jumped into the future, and in some way recognized what the actions of the future would be, based upon the choices you’re making now. You also at the same time, based on choices you make now, are recognizing what actions in the past could have been those that led to the choices that you’re making now. We call those rationalizations of one kind.
And so we, in making ordinary decisions about our lives, when we choose to do things, are really anticipating or jumping into the future and jumping into the past, in order to bring credence or believability or sense of being in the present. So you really can’t have the present without having both the future and the past coexisting, so to speak, at least at the level of mind. Now, physically to make things work requires tremendous amounts of energy and technology, which we do not have at this point. But as far as the mind is concerned, there doesn’t seem to be any problem with it, because that seems to be what we do.
So we all anticipate the future in some way. We all decide, “Well, what am I going to have for dinner tonight?” That’s a very mundane anticipation of the future, but we do it every time we make a choice. Usually our choices are fairly immediate in terms of “Do I make a right turn or a left turn? What should I do now? Should I do this, do that?” Those are pretty immediate, and the future is just maybe a second or two ahead of you, and the past by which you rationalize that choice was just maybe a second or two behind you, and most of us live our lives calling that “Well, I’m doing it now. I’m having my experience now.”
Actually, it’s impossible to be here now! I know Ram Dass would kill me for that one, but nobody can be here now, because there is no such thing as “now.” All there is really is a time-window in which we ourselves are constantly moving and experiencing both past and future in order to make sense of the present.
TS: Now, that time-window is probably what somebody like Ram Dass or Eckhart Tolle means by “now.”
DQ: It could be that’s what they mean by “now.” But you tell people “Be here now,” and what that meant is “Stop mental masturbation, stop worrying about what you did in the past. Be here now. Smell the flowers! Wake up!” Yes, that’s vital and true. My point is that in order to have that experience, there is a window of time that has to be present, and we can’t have that experience without that window of time.
There’s some interesting experiments that were done by Benjamin Libet at the University of California-San Francisco Medical School more than 25 years ago, in which he proved and showed that the way the brain signals various different parts of the body when we’re having an experience of some sort involves both the future and the past in its recognition of the present. And that if you don’t have that, or if you change that in some way, if you block something in a short time in the future of an event, that the person won’t even experience the event. And if you don’t block it, he will.
In other words, when a person experiences something now, that’s dependent on what is going to happen in the future. So even in our brains, we have this kind of window of time. And how big or how broad in terms of time that window is, that’s changeable. It can be as wide as half a second, and it’s usually around 200,000th of a second.
TS: Now, these yogis who cheat time, aren’t they in some way going out that window and staying out of that window for at least a period of time?
DQ: In a way they are. Yes, I would say that’s a good way to think about it. Yes, they’re definitely leaping out the window! And they’re floating, and they’re no longer concerned about the immediate sensate world. Yes, I would say that’s what they’re doing, and that’s what meditation is basically teaching you to do.
On the other hand, there’s yoga practice, and yoga practice, what the teacher tries to do is get you into your body, not out of it, tries to really get you to focus on what you’re feeling in that part of your body, even down to the various organs of your body. Not only the muscles, but feeling your liver, feeling your heart, feeling your lungs. It’s rather amazing. And that works too, but that’s a different direction to it. That’s like really exercising the window by opening and closing it a little bit each time.
TS: Now, I’m with you, and I’m also with you in terms of the past and the future being right here with this present time-window. But when I was talking about what might it mean to time travel, when I originally asked the question about the future, I was thinking about things like, can I travel into the twenty-fifth century and see what life is like? That kind of time travel.
DQ: Well, I don’t know how to do that, so I can’t really say that you can do it. In some sense, I don’t see any problem with there being a twenty-fifth century in existence now, and some sense of now—“now” not being what we usually mean by the word “now,” but that the whole time-scape, like a landscape, lies before us.
But it’s got to be a very blurry time-scape. It can’t be one that is pinned down, because the field of consciousness has to kind of move through it. And maybe it is already doing it right now; we’re just not aware that it’s happening right now. But that’s something that may indeed be true, but I don’t know how I can jump my consciousness to be there.
On the other hand, I’ve had dream-states where I believe I did go into the future, where I witnessed things. I even had a state in an Ayahuasca ceremony in which I saw something happening in Peru six months in the future, and I didn’t know I was going to Peru at that time. And sure enough a couple weeks later, I was invited to travel to Peru, and when I went there I went to Machu Picchu outside of Cusco, and witnessed what I saw in this vision. So it wasn’t like—I mean, I was seeing at least six months ahead of time.
TS: How would quantum physics explain that? Because I think people have had that kind of experience like what you were describing.
DQ: Actually there is a quantum physics explanation. People might object that there’s a quantum physics explanation for everything! In a sense that’s almost true.
But there is a rather unique school that’s developed over the last 20, 30 years or so. It started with the work of an Israeli physicist whose name is Yakir Aharonov. And he’s been working with a number of physicists in various parts of the world, who have developed what’s called the two-time quantum physics, in which what happens now is influenced by events that will occur, as well as events that have occurred. And that from both of these events happening, so to speak, the present event becomes determined. And he believes that this two-time kind of quantum mechanics is a way to explain how we have these kinds of experiences of maybe the future and the past when we have déjà vu, or maybe even a jamais vu experience, something like that.
TS: Jamais vu?
DQ: Jamais vu is very interesting. Have you ever heard of jamais vu?
DQ: Well, jamais vu is never having had this experience before. Déjà vu is actually probably fairly common; a lot of people have déjà vu, but jamais vu is a total surprise. In a way jamais vu is charming. What you’d like to have is more jamais vu: “I’ve never had that before! Wow!”
I think everybody has at least one jamais vu experience in their lives when they’re very young. It might be the first experience of “Aha!” or possibly when you first tasted something you never ate before, or possibly even your first orgasm. Those would be jamais vu experiences, because you never had them before.
TS: Very good. I just have one final question here for you. Our program is called “Insights at the Edge,” and I always love to know what people’s current edge is. And what I mean by that, Dr. Quantum, is what’s the question that you’re asking? What’s the edge of discovery that you’re currently playing with?
DQ: Well, I don’t believe that I’ve yet completed this understanding of how the universe completely works. There’s still some things, some details, that are probably, once revealed, once I understand them better, will make it easier for me to explain how it works in a better way than I have done so far.
There’s also something else that has been missing in all this, which is that I haven’t really gotten into gravity, the field that holds us to the earth, and how that works. In all of my explanations, I’ve left gravity out, because gravity still is a kind of mystery, and we don’t really have a good theory that includes quantum physics and gravity that we really feel comfortable with yet. We’re still grappling with that. So probably in the next couple of years, I will be grappling with improving my understanding of time loops and space twists and spin-½ and spin-1 and that kind of stuff so that I can explain it better than I did so far. And understanding how gravity plays a significant role in our consciousness, because I believe it does.
TS: That’s a wonderful answer and I love it. And I’m also curious if there might be an edge for you personally, sort of a more intimate way of answering the question. Something that you’re investigating that relates specifically to your own—not so much your research and your written work, but your own being, your own life.
DQ: Well, there’s a continual ongoing recognition that I’m getting older. And as I age, I’m beginning to see myself accepting more of who and what I am, and accepting who and what I haven’t accomplished, rather than cursing the time. In other words, there’s a kind of a mystical sense of presence that is arising as I go through life. And that coupled with my intellectual interests into the nature of how God does it, is what keeps me going.
TS: Wonderful. I’ve been speaking with Dr. Fred Alan Wolf. Here at Sounds True we call him “Dr. Quantum.” And Dr. Quantum has created three different audio-learning programs with Sounds True: Dr. Quantum Presents: Do-It-Yourself Time Travel; Dr. Quantum Presents: A User’s Guide to Your Universe; and Dr. Quantum Presents: Meet the Real Creator—You!
Fred, Dr. Quantum, thank you so much for being with us.
DQ: You’re very welcome, Tami. And thank you, I appreciate it very much.
TS: I love hearing your heart, your presence, and your great curiosity and discoveries. Thank you.
DQ: You’re welcome. Thank you.
TS: SoundsTrue.com: many voices, one journey. Thanks for listening.