August 7, 2023
SF Gate

Who’s Winning the Battle for Reality?.


When your mind and heart are truly open abundance will flow to you effortlessly and easily.

By Deepak Chopra, MD, FACP, FRCP

If someone is asked, “Who’s winning the battle for reality?” they are most likely to reply, “What battle?” Everyday reality presents itself and gets taken for granted. Nobody takes the time to look at trees, clouds, stars, and other people doubting that they exist. If there is a battle for reality—which there certainly is—it takes place in the arcane circles of physics, which is charged with deciding where time, space, matter, and energy come from.

The possible answers have the capacity of rocking your world. This won’t seem like an outrageous claim once the possible answers supplied by different theories in physics are laid out very simply. The leading answer to where space, time, matter, and energy come from are as follows:

  • They come from the Big Bang.
  • They come from nothing and nowhere, a pre-created state beyond our imagination.
  • They come from another universe that we are attached to like a soap bubble attached to a previous soap bubble.
  • They come from the multiverse.
  • No one will ever know.

None of these answers is outlandish. There are brilliant thinkers, going back to Einstein and the pioneers of quantum mechanics, who devised each answer. Just because physics deals in advanced mathematics doesn’t mean that these answers don’t apply to everyday life, including everyone alive.

To glimpse the implications, take away time, space, matter, and energy. Instead, plug in the word “I.” Now the possible answers become personal.

  • I come from the Big Bang.
  • I come from nothing and nowhere, a pre-created state beyond our imagination.
  • I come from another universe that we are attached to like a soap bubble attached to a previous soap bubble.
  • I come from the multiverse.
  • No one will ever know.

As before, none of these answers is outlandish, because you are participating in the universe, which means that you are caught up in where time, space, matter, and energy come from, not just 13.8 billion years ago, but right now, this very minute. The atoms and molecules that constitute your body are built from subatomic particles that wink in and out of existence from the so-called virtual state where everything exists as a possibility.

There is a huge gap between a possibility and the real world. This is the place where the battle for reality is taking place. Intriguingly, one answer, the multiverse, has such a strong appeal to the imagination that it has been adopted by Marvel Comics in their hugely successful movies, so that the millions of viewers who see Dr. Strange or the Avengers takes a trip to the multiverse along the way.

It appears that popular culture has gotten involved in the battle for reality, even though the issue isn’t stated out in the open. For a very long time everyone could go along with reality the way it looks when you gaze out the window (technically known as naïve realism). But quantum physics and Einstein’s theory of relativity blew up this viewpoint more than a century ago.

In the intervening decades the battle lines have shifted this way and that, so how do things stand now? First, everything is up for grabs as never before. Too many contradicting theories have been proposed  for a single one to be correct (this depressing conclusion was the one that the late Stephen Hawking reached in his last book, The Grand Design).  Second, there is no longer any reassurance that anything exists on its own.  It takes the insertion of a mind—belonging either to a scientist measuring a particle, you and I observing the everyday world, or God dreaming up creation—to make possibilities cross the gap to become reality.

The speed of acceleration in this regard has been speeding up in recent decades. The vast majority of physicists still accept naïve realism in their daily life, despite the fact that every experiment every done indicates that at the level where time, space, matter, and energy originate, naïve realism is 100% wrong. Now, however, there are so many holes in so many theories, and such a mass of contradictions, that more physicists are beginning to concede that new answers must be found.

Otherwise, reality remains like a ghost, hovering between existence and non-existence. It’s a very peculiar state of affairs. What is the way out? Without taking sides, a picture of reality that has any chance of widespread acceptance needs to do the following:

  • It must allow everyday reality to exist in some form acceptable to people in general.
  • At the same time, it must include the peculiar behavior of the quantum world, from which everyday reality springs.
  • It must accept the theory of relativity, which has been verified many times over. Unfortunately, quantum mechanics has also been proved many times over, and the two theories contradict one another.
  • Reality must include mind, not just matter. There has to be a way to explain them together instead of insisting that only matter is really real.
  • The incredible unfolding of evolution that produced life on Earth must be explained.
  • The fact that the laws of nature mesh with unbelievable precision must be explained. A shift of less than one part in a billion could have doomed the cosmos to vanish within milliseconds after the Big Bang.

This list is far from complete, but there are enough big issues in it to convey how so many brilliant minds could be so muddled despite their best theories.

What is so hard to face is that the basic problem, the cause for so much fundamental disagreement, is actually very simple. We have been fighting the battle for reality one issue at a time. Each item on the list has created theories, speculations, articles, and books ad infinitum while in the end getting nowhere.

An “Aha!” moment dawns when you see that reality isn’t composed of parts. It is one thing, a wholeness. No explanation of reality can succeed by proceeding one piece at a time. Either you grasp the whole thing or else it shatters like a stained-glass window struck by a hammer. Once the picture depicted in the window is smashed to pieces, the picture ceases to exist. Likewise, subdividing reality into shattered fragments loses the wholeness—the big picture—that is reality.

Can science reach this “Aha!” moment? The odds are strongly against it, because science by its very nature subdivides a problem into manageable parts, a method known as reductionism. Reductionism has succeeded in giving us the modern world and our total dependence on technology. As a world view, science seems invincible, and its chief tool is reductionism—you can’t have one without the other.

With that path closed off, the battle for reality moves to the streets. Ordinary people must grapple with how their personal reality was created. To me, that’s a mystery that can only be solved by dealing with the one ingredient common to all experience—consciousness. Millions of people are delving into consciousness as never before, which is a hopeful sign. In the end, without resorting to a crystal ball, I’d venture that reality itself will only be explained through consciousness as the ultimate creator. If this is going to be the ultimate answer that restores wholeness to reality, it is very worthwhile to have a vision of the outcome in advance.

DEEPAK CHOPRA MD, FACP, FRCP, founder of The Chopra Foundation, a non-profit entity for research on well-being and humanitarianism, and Chopra Global, a whole health company at the intersection of science and spirituality, is a world-renowned pioneer in integrative medicine and personal transformation.  Chopra is a Clinical Professor of Family Medicine and Public Health at the University of California, San Diego and serves as a senior scientist with Gallup Organization. He is the author of over 90 books translated into over forty-three languages, including numerous New York Times bestsellers. His 91st book, Total Meditation: Practices in Living the Awakened Life  explores and reinterprets the physical, mental, emotional, relational, and spiritual benefits that the practice of meditation can bring.  For the last thirty years, Chopra has been at the forefront of the meditation revolution. His latest book,  Living in the Light co-authored with Sarah Platt-Finger. TIME magazine has described Dr. Chopra as “one of the top 100 heroes and icons of the century.”

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