Hinduism and Quantum Physics: Short Note

The basic oneness of the universe is not only the central characteristic of the mystical experience, but is also one of the most important revelations of modern physics.

“The most important discovery in the history of science”
-Prof.Henry Stapp, Quantum physicist.


Human consciousness and the physcal world

‘Om Isha vasyam idam sarvam, yat kincha jagatyam jagat’

“All this- whatever exists in this
changing universe, is pervaded by God”
-Isa Upanishad

“Om purnamadah purnamidam purnaat purnamudachyate,
purnasya purnamadaya purnamevaavashishyate”

“That (pure consciousness) is full(perfect); this(the manifest universe of matter; of names and forms being maya) is full. This fullness has been projected from that fullness. When this fullness merges in that fullness, all that remains is fullness.”
-Peace invocation- Isa Upanishad

The Supreme Brahman(God) is the only Reality. The idea of the phenomenal universe is falsely superimposed upon it.”
-Swami Nikhilananda of Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Centre, New York.

In recent years physicists have had to address the interplay of consciousness and the physical world. In Quantum Physics much has been made over Bell’s Theorem. The implications of this theorem and the experimental findings that flow from it are staggering. They force us to consider that the entire notion of a purely objective world is in conflict not only with the theory of quantum mechanics, but with the facts drawn from actual experiments. These findings point insistently to a profound interaction between conscious mental activity and the physical world itself.

The Rishi’s vision

The Rishi’s vision of a world in which man participates in a seamless existence, indivisibly united with the universe around him, resonates through a discovery called “BELL’S THEOREM”. This discovery, first proposed in 1964 by the physicist John S. Bell was first confirmed by experiment in 1972 by Professor John Clauser at Berkley. It is an almost unbelievable result – unbelievable because the logical mind has great difficulty in comprehending how it can be true. Its impact on the physics community has been enormous. Professor Henry Stapp, a physicist at Berkley and an authority on the implications of Bell’s Theorem, has called it

The most important discovery in the history of science.

A description of the proof of Bell’s theory, as given by Stapp reads:

“If the statistical predictions of quantum theory are true, an objective universe is incompatible with the law of local causes.”

Although formidable at first glance, Bell’s Theorem seems simpler once key terms are understood.

First, an “objective universe” is simply one that exists apart from our consciousness.

In 1935, Albert Einstein, together with Nathan Rosen and Boris Podolsky proposed through flawless mathematical reasoning that if the quantum theory were correct, then ‘A change in the spin of one particle in a two particle system would affect its twin simultaneously, even if the two had been widely separated in the meantime’. And ‘simultaneous’ is a dirty word in the theory of special relativity, which forbids the transmission of any signal faster than the speed of light. Obviously, a signal telling the particle ‘what to do’ would have to travel faster than the speed of light if instantaneous changes were to occur between the two particles.

The dilemma into which Einstein, Rosen and Podolsky dragged the quantum theory was a profound one, coming to be known as The ERP Effect.

In 1964 Bell’s Theorem emerged as a proof that Einstein’s impossible proposition did in fact hold true: instantaneous changes in widely separated systems did occur.

In 1972, Clauser confirmed the statistical predictions of quantum mechanics, working with an elaborate system involving photons, calcite crystals, and photo multiplier tubes The experiment has since been run several times with the same consistent results; Bell’s Theorem stands solid.

The implications of Bell’s theorem are practically unthinkable

Even for the physicists involved, the implications of Bell’s Theorem are practically unthinkable. Mathematics and experimentation have taken us where our logical mind cannot go. Imagine, two particles once in contact, separated even to the ends of the universe, change instantaneously when a change in one of them occurs!

Slowly, new ideas are emerging to explain these unthinkable occurrences. One view is that, in some unexplainable way, the separated particles are still in contact although separated in space. This is the suggestion of the French physicist Bernard D’Espagnat. In 1979, writing about quantum reality, he said that “the entire notion of an external, fixed, objective world now lies in conflict not only with quantum theory, but in facts drawn from actual experiments…. in some sense all these objects constitute an indivisible whole.”

Physicist Jack Sarfatti of the Physics/Consciousness Research Group proposes that no actual energy-requiring signal is transmitted between the distant objects, but ‘information’ is transmitted instead. Thus no violation of Einstein’s special theory of relativity occurs. Exactly what this information is is unclear, and it is a strange thing which might travel instantly and require no energy to do so.

Nic Herbert, a physicist who heads the C-Life Institute, suggests that we have merely discovered an elemental oneness of the world. This oneness cannot be diminished by spatial separation. An invisible wholeness unites the objects that are given birth in the universe, and it is this wholeness that we have stumbled into through modern experimental methods. Herbert alludes to the words of the poet Charles Williams: “Separation without separateness, reality without rift.”

It would be a mistake to suppose that these effects operate only with relevance to the invisible world of the atom. Professor Henry Stapp states that the real importance of these findings is that they translate directly to our microcosmic existence, implying that the oneness that is implicit in Bell’s Theorem envelopes human beings and atoms alike.

The interrelation of human consciousness and the observed world is obvious in Bell’s Theorem. Human consciousness and the physical world cannot be regarded as distinct, separate entities. What we call physical reality, the external world, is shaped – to some extent – by human thought. The lesson is clear; we cannot separate our own existence from that of the world outside. We are intimately associated not only with the earth we inhabit, but with the farthest reaches of the cosmos.

Certain quantum physicists now say that each part of the universe contains all the information present in the entire cosmos itself (similar to a giant oak tree producing an acorn that contains all the information to replicate itself).

This assertion is so audacious that it would be dismissed out of hand were it not for the scientific stature of its chief proponent David Bohm, a former associate of Einstein, professor of theoretical physics at Birbeck College of University of London. He is regarded as one of the pre-eminent theoretical physicists of our day.


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