Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Highlights From A Book by Norman Friedman


For centuries humankind has been faced with many seeming contradictions between scientific and spiritual "truth." Amid the confusion, scientists, philosophers and theologians have pondered, debated and argued—yet the separation remains. Can anyone provide a whole-brain understanding of our physical and spiritual worlds? Are there any clear, straightforward answers?

Bridging Science and Spirit presents powerful insights into this dilemma. By carefully correlating concepts from three disparate sources, the author reveals underlying unity that is both provocative and inspiring. The first of these sources is the world of quantum physics as interpreted by David Bohm, internationally recognized theoretical physicist, professor and author. Second are mystical concepts from various ages and cultures as described in Ken Wilber's treatment of the Perennial Philosophy, first made famous by Aldous Huxley. Finally, observations expressed by the spirit entity Seth (channeled by Jane Roberts) provide a unique overview from an other-worldly perspective.

Part 1 presents each of these areas in detail, discusses the elements they have in common, and shows how a single reality emerges from seemingly separate perspectives. Part 2 addresses space/time creation, the mind/body connection, commonalities between Eastern and Western thought, and other topics related to the new paradigm. Throughout the book, vivid metaphors carry the reader forward into a bold new understanding of reality.

The author, Norman Friedman, hold a B.A. in physics and a M.A. in electrical engineering. In 1983, he sold his successful electronics manufacturing firm to pursue his lifelong interest in the philosophical implications of relativity and quantum theories. His intense curiosity about connections between science and spirit has led him into the unexpected but fascinating new territory described in this book.

Full Preface

Before we begin this journey together, two confessions are in order.

First, I am a passionate fan of contemporary physics. For many years I have followed the philosophical convulsions resulting from quantum theory and relativity theory. But I am not a practicing physicist, I am a spectator. My view of the game — the ongoing quest to explain reality — is from the bleachers rather than from the dugout and the field. In some sense I have played in the minor leagues (with a bachelor’s degree in physics and a master’s degree in engineering), and that allows me to follow most of the plays closely. Although my mathematical background lacks the depth and breadth to allow me to hit a metaphorical 90-mile-an-hour physics fastball, I understand the principles involved in such a feat.

The view from the bleacher has some advantages. I am unencumbered by the demands of daily practice and regular competition. My perspective is broader than it would be if I were engaged in the action the game. I am free from restrictions that go along with being a member of the team. As a fan, I can applaud certain plays and players and boo others with impunity. If my analysis of a game differs from that of the manager or players, it is a matter of no great consequence.

But while asserting that there is something special about my view from the bleachers, I do so with a certain amount of humility. I am always aware of my dependence on the players, and I respect their talents as professionals. Accordingly, in the following pages I make abundant use of the knowledge, comments, and ideas of scientists and philosophers.

The second confession is that my interest in this game has intensified into a burning curiosity, which has led me far from the familiar playing fields of scientific investigation. In short, this book includes ideas not only from physics (primarily the work of David Bohm) but of mystics, represented by Ken Wilber’s treatment of the Perennial Philosophy, as well as — hold on to your seats — the channeled spirit entity known as Seth. Although the methods, concepts, and language of these three sources vary markedly, parallels in their descriptions of reality are striking indeed.

No doubt you are wondering what a nice physics fan is doing in the same company of mystics and mediums. In explaining, let me begin by saying that at least I am not alone in this. In recent decades, many books have compared the experiences recounted by mystics to the philosophical implications of modern physics. Best known of these, perhaps, is Fritjof Capra’s The Tao Of Physics. Capra is uniquely qualified to comment on these connections because of his research in high-energy physics and his mastery of meditation techniques. His insights are necessarily general because of the differences in approach between the mystic and the physicist, and be cause the mystical experience is by nature ineffable, since its aim is alignment with the whole.

Physicists, on the other hand, analyze reality as separate, describable parts. While they may be aware of the interconnections of the entire universe, their methodology involves examination of particulars. Still, the interpretation of physical particulars can convey a more encompassing reality. Physicist David Bohm presents us with such a view. Bohm’s ideas and those of Ken Wilber have been compared in several publications, including interviews in The Holographic Paradigm and Other Paradoxes. Because this material is available, and because my main interest lies in the particulars of physics, the Perennial Philosophy is considered only briefly here.

My introduction to the more esoteric figure of Seth was through an article by quantum physicist Nick Herbert, which included the following statement:

Jane Roberts, in her Seth books, describes, as an aspect of human personality, a world of “probable realities” in which opposites coexist in a manner similar to Heisenberg’s potentia. It is too early to say whether notions like these are mere causal analogies or indications that we are on the threshold of a new sensual physics.

At the time, I had read very little about the paranormal and had never heard of Jane Roberts, but I immediately bought a Seth book, The Individual And The Nature of Mass Events. In it I found discussion of a “framework” that sounded similar to Heisenberg’s world of potentia and the ghost field of quantum physics. I read other books by Roberts/Seth and began culling those portions related to physics. The more I read, the more I saw that the descriptions of reality by physicists and by mystics were bridged by those of Seth. Such connections are mind-boggling, but as physicist Freeman Dyson has said, “For any speculation which does not at first glance look crazy, there is no hope.”

The source of the Seth material will not concern us here. If Seth is a deception by Roberts, it is a remarkable one, for it would require a grasp of science and philosophy that would be extremely unusual considering her background as a poet and novelist. On the other hand, if the Seth material originated at some unknown level of Robert’s unconscious mind, then that level must be a repository of knowledge far beyond our normal awareness. Regardless of the “true” identity of Seth, the ideas expressed in this manner are invaluable in clarifying certain relationships between science and mysticism.

Although this book is intended for the general reader, some parts will be difficult without a background in science. (Many of the chapter notes contain information provided for readers whose understanding of scientific material is fairly advanced.) For those readers who find certain sections too demanding, my suggestion is to persist, skimming or even skipping the hard parts until you reach a more comprehensible section. It is my experience that allowing yourself to provisionally accept some of these ideas, even if you don’t entirely follow the reasoning behind them, may open the way to a general and often deeper understanding later on.

Now that our confessions are made and our paths roughly mapped out, let us begin our journey.

© 1994 Norman Friedman

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