Quantum physics points out that the way we observe the universe in this present moment literally evokes the universe that is observed. Our perception of the universe is a part of the universe that is happening through us that has an effect on the universe that we are observing. Quantum physics points out that it makes no sense whatsoever to talk of an objective universe separate or independent from the observer. To quote noted physicist John Wheeler “Useful as it is under everyday circumstances to say that the world exists ‘out there,’ independent of us, that view can no longer be upheld. There is a strange sense in which this is a participatory universe.”
In a variation of the classic “two-slit experiment,” which is the cornerstone of quantum physics, Wheeler has demonstrated in the “delayed choice experiment” that not only does our act of observation in this present moment effect the way the universe manifests in this present moment, but that the act of observation in this present moment actually has an effect on the past. This bit of quantum weirdness seems particularly relevant for our current times after the controversial presidential election of 2004.
Consensus reality, as embodied in the views of classical physics, describes the present as having a particular past. Quantum physics, on the other hand, because of its probabilistic nature enlarges the arena of history such that the past is an amalgam of all possible pasts that are compatible with the version of the present moment that we are currently experiencing. The quantum universe is one in which the past involves a wide range of possible pasts all co-existing in a state of unmanifest potential. Speaking in physics terms, by imagining the past to be a certain way, we literally collapse the infinite potentiality of the past’s wave function, and concretize the past as being something very particular. This is analogous to the quantum physicist’s question: is light a wave or a particle? And the answer, of course, is that it depends on how we are observing.
The quantum universe is one which pulsates in and out of the void multiple times every nano-second, endlessly recreating itself anew. Each moment brings with it a potentially new past, which we are the ‘builders’ of in the present moment. In this present moment right now there are endless possibilities, it is an infinitely textured moment in time seething with unmanifested potential. In the future, when we consider this multi-dimensional moment we are in now, we will probably focus our attention and only remember a certain slice or aspect of this very moment, solidifying it in time, and this will be our ‘memory’ of that seemingly past event. And yet, by the way we remember this present moment in the future will have an actual effect on the way that moment in the future manifests. So on the one hand, the way we contemplate the past has a creative affect on how the present moment manifests.
What Wheeler is pointing out through the delayed choice experiment, though, is that the past doesn’t actually exist in a solid and objective way that causes or determines our present moment experience like is imagined by classical physics. Rather, he is saying our situation is just the opposite. He is saying that by the way we observe in this present moment we actually reach back into time and create the past. It is not just the future that’s undetermined, but the past as well; just as there are ‘probable’ futures there are ‘probable’ pasts. Our present observations select one out of many possible quantum histories for the universe.
We have entranced ourselves and fallen under a self-created spell if we imagine that the past exists in a solid, objective way. To quote Wheeler “It is wrong to think of that past as ‘already existing’…..the past has no existence except as it is recorded in the present.” When we become convinced that the past exists in a solid way, we solidify it in our imagination as being that particular way, which will thereby create compelling evidence that proves the rightness of our point of view (that the past really is that way). When we imagine that the past is a particular way, for example, this conviction effects our present moment experience AS IF the past really was that way, which just confirms to us our conviction that the past REALLY IS that way, which just makes the past seem even more AS IF it really was that way, ad infinitum.
This is to fall into a self-created and infinitely self-confirming feedback loop that is synchronistic and atemporal in its operation and thereby has the nature of a self-fulfilling prophecy. We have unwittingly literally hypnotized ourselves by our own power of affecting reality by the way we observe it. Because of the limited and limiting way we view the past it seems convincingly solid and objectively existing in a way that it simply is not. The past is much more malleable than we have been imagining. For what really did happen in the past? For that matter, what is actually happening right now?
In a circular, non-linear and acausal feedback loop, the past affects us in this present moment, while at the same time, in this present moment we affect the past. The way we observe the past in this present moment actually affects the past which simultaneously affects us in this present moment in what I call a ‘synchronistic, cybernetic feedback loop.’ The doorway is the present moment, which is the point where our power to shape reality is to be found. In quantum physics the universe wasn’t created billions of years ago in the big bang but rather is being created right now by what Wheeler refers to as “genesis by observership.” The mystery of this universe doesn’t lie at some point way back in the past, but rather, right now, in this very living present moment.
This quantum perspective on the past arising or being conjured up out of and into the present moment collapses the sense of sequential time and linear causality. This points to the non-local nature of space and time, in that the past, present, and future completely interpenetrate and are inseparable from each other. In a bit of quantum weirdness, if we ask whether the universe really existed before we started looking at it, the answer we get from the universe is that it looks as if it existed before we started looking at it.
Quantum physics is describing what I call the physics of the dreamlike nature of reality. Like a mass shared dream, we are all literally moment by moment calling forth and collaboratively ‘dreaming up’ this very universe into materialization. And dreams, by their very nature don’t exist in a ‘flat-land’ where they are fixed in meaning, but are extremely multi-dimensional. When we contemplate the past in this very moment, it has the same ontological status of and no more reality than a dream we had last night. Just like this present moment, when we contemplate it tomorrow, will in that present moment have no more reality than a figment of our imagination.
What actually did happen on November 2? Did George Bush win the election? Or did he steal it? And if he stole it, is this criminal act something we can do nothing about? If this universe is like quantum physics describes, then we are only not able to do anything about it because of our own self-imposed limitations and a failure of our imagination in this very moment. If even some of the overwhelming evidence that Bush stole the election is true, can we step into a universe in this very moment in which we have the power to do something about it? Or is the past written in stone? Quantum physics points out that this is a participatory universe in which the power to change reality is literally in our hands at every moment and that the choice is truly ours. Let us not get fooled into giving away our power by the source of our real power, namely, the reality-creating function of our own sacred imagination.