Gnosis and the New Physics

Tobias Churton

Throughout the world the news will be trumpeted that you are engaged in labours, the purpose of which is to ensure that human knowledge and the empire of the human mind over matter shall not for ever continue to be a feeble and uncertain thing. COMENIUS, VIA LUCIS (The Way of Light)
It was inevitable that sooner or later physics would return to metaphysics. That is, after all, how it began: with the Gnostic search for the One behind all phenomena. The desire to understand and master matter; the quest for the spirit imprisoned in matter; the chasing of light diffused throughout nature in divine signatures; the central role of humankind, the Great Miracle, as bridge between the visible and invisible—all are Gnostic themes. And they all influenced the quest for science.
From the time of Friar Bacon to Michael Maier’s Atlanta fugiens (1617) and beyond, the scientific effort has been characterized by the appearance of spectacles: instrumental apparatus to aid the carnal eyes in making a theory of nature. This effort was predicated upon Christ’s dictum, “The truth will make you free.” Investigation of nature’s laws was thus regarded at the outset of the sixteenth-century scientific endeavor as a Hermetic pursuit. Know nature, know the creator: know thyself: ergo, become free of nature. It was in a sense a quest for virginity; scientists wear white for the their chemical nuptials.
The quotation from Comenius that begins this chapter also contained a warning to the youthful Royal Society of 1668. Should the spiritual ends of knowledge be subsumed beneath the purely material, then the work might well degenerate into “a Babylon turned upside down, building not towards heaven, but towards earth.”(1)
This transpired to be prophetic. State and privately funded scientific knowledge has come for many to represent not a liberation but a threat. It seems the more power over nature we have attained, the more critically dependent on nature we have become. Resources dwindle, and Mother Nature is unwell. The blame has been placed, somewhat unfairly at the door of the mechanistic philosophies embodied or deduced from some of the works of Newton, Bacon, and Descartes, and rationalist philosophers such as Locke, Hume, and Mill. But human beings find it hard not to see the world in terms of their own ideals and, more especially, thoughts.
It was especially hard for them to resist deifying their rational constructs and even the rational principle itself when faced with the enormous practical success of reason’s application. Machines worked. It was hard not to see the brain as a computer and to eulogize the advantages of artificial intelligence while eschewing the abiding value of the real thing.
The scientific revolution represented a wonderful opportunity not only for craftspeople of unbelievable ingenuity, but also for every moron who would like to rape all mystery out of existence. The objective, the visible, the tangible, the observable: these represented the real universe of science. Away with angels and subtle forces and the whole panoply of magic and the (organically) invisible spirit; matter was real, vital, all-inclusive. Numbers were firm, solid, reliable. Intellection was masculine.


The Hermetists with their organic doctrines of mind in extenso were out of date; theology had nothing to do with practical, realistic science. God the demiurge-mechanician, the bored Hephaestus of the stars, had created the cosmos and had handed over the reins of the cosmic chariot to an evolutionary, mathematical process whose “selfish genes” were destined to give birth to man the tool-maker, separated surveyor of all he saw and an idol unto himself. So we see the symmetrical inversion of the truth. In short, matter was real. Spirit was matter of opinion.
Although this mentality still dominates most Western thinking and commerce and is trundled out thoughtlessly in our places of education, the triumphal ecstasy of materialist science had begun to wane even before World War I, at the very height of what has since come to be called “classical” physics. “Classical” was a suitably pretentious name for an era of gathering humanistic certainties.
Everything in the cool materialist garden looked more or less rosy until around the turn of the century, at which time were born a number of people destined to become physicists. They were Werner Heisenberg, Wolfgang Pauli, Max Born, Pascual Jordan, and Paul Dirac, born to build with and build on the work of Max Planck, Ernest Rutherford, Erwin Schrödinger, Niels Bohr, and Albert Einstein. Their minds opened upon an unexpected world: the world of the atom, the elementary building block of what was then conceived to constitute matter --- that is, as far as mainstream science was concerned, reality.
A year after Aleister Crowley received the highly relativistic Book of the Law (1904), promising revolutionary children and an era of force and fire, Albert Einstein published his general theory of relativity, in which he proved mathematically that space and time were relative, not absolute conditions of the universe --- relative, that is, to the speed at which the observer or observing apparatus was traveling.
Einstein identified mass with energy and showed that nothing could be expected to travel faster than light (an idea highly suggestive to Gnostics). Beyond 186,00 miles per second, the idea of traveling anywhere collapsed. Putting it another way, if two photons (from the Greek, light-beings), or light-energy particles, were traveling in opposite directions at the speed proper to light, then if one were to affect the other, we would need to postulate a forth dimension, even the rupture of linear time. A photon “knows” no time. Such theories were unsettling. The machine rattled.
If mass was energy, what did this energy consist of? Energy, in physical terms, is a measured effect—to be precise, the effect of activity associated with and within atoms. Since atoms released energy at measurable (but not necessarily consistent) intervals, it was reasonable to assume that unlike the atoms of Democritus, they were not irreducible solids—as if the creation was the work of a three-dimensional pointilliste—but hid within a world of their own. This world is called the subatomic world, beyond the senses and, to some extent, the logic of sense, and is the particular province of quantum mechanics.


Quantum physics has to do with quantities of energy (called quanta) emitted from atoms under certain conditions. In particular, energy registers as light, call photons, as well as electrons, particles bearing electrical charges loosed from proximity to the nuclei of atoms, interacting with other subatomic particles (variations of which are still being discovered and given tentative names like quarks, gluons).
In spite of what we were taught in physics at school—the famous atom of Bohr (a mini-nucleocentric cyclic universe wrapped in a spherical shell)—we should not picture the atom in this fashion, except for general visual appropriation of indeterminate phenomena. We can have no solid picture of the atom at all.
What appears to be the atom is a dynamic relationship so small that were we to remove manually each atom from a spoonful of carbon in reverse time, we should still be scooping them at the time when the universe is currently thought to have originated. That’s fifteen billion years ago.
An atom is to be regarded as a set of statistical probabilities, indefinite knowledge of whose behavior has been found to have useful applications, from lasers and microchips to DNA and holograms. In fact, the atom has been described as being more like a cloud than an object, a cloud of electromagnetic activity—a description highly suggestive of Gnostic parlance.
In gnosis, the cloud is a regular symbol for the illusory or gross body, the idea behind which has to do with the veiling of the sun. When, for example, it is written that “a cloud received Him [Christ] out of their sight” (Acts 1:9), we may take it to signify that the Logos (creative Mind) incarnate became imperceptible to carnal sense.
Likewise, the world of subatomic physics is imperceptible to the senses, except through apparatus cleverly designed according to pre-conceived types and ranges of measurable phenomena. The beauty of quantum physics is that observations suggest from within themselves the experimental shortcomings of the process of observation itself. We can now join in qualified assent to William Blake’s assertion that the atom is “a thing that does not exist,” something he observed without recourse to external apparatus, but in keeping with the vision granted him by what he called the Divine Imagination. It may be said that the impact of that imagination is now being observed by scientists.
Carl Jung, when examining the thought-world of Gnostic alchemy, came up with a formula of perception pertinent to this study. Jung recognized that on confronting the unknown, when the conscious mind is at a loss to ratiocinate the mysterious phenomenon before it, the unconscious mind projects images and ideas from an interior well of archetypes onto the external phenomenon, uniting the subject to the object. The mind makes matter meaningful—not surprisingly, if we see matter as a manifestation of mind. Thus, the alchemists saw the chemical process as embodying a spiritual or at least psychic process and perceived themselves to be united with it.


After Newton, we can broadly say that where the study of physics was concerned, rational cause-and-effect, linear mathematics proved adequate to explain a whole range of natural phenomena, from the planets to plastic. Come the advent of quantum physics, reaching its first high-water-mark in the late 1920s, Jung’s formula comes back into play. As scientist and author of The Tao of Physics, Fritjof Capra, said in 1982: “I now believe that the world view of mystical tradition is the best and most appropriate philosophical background for the theories of modern science.” In this setting it would be most surprising if we did not find ideas familiar to the history of Hermetic thought, when theorizers attempt to interpret the sub- or even nonatomic world. What had quantum physics to assert that could lead to such a conclusion.

The Copenhagen Interpretation

At first sight the association does not look too promising. A meeting of physicists held at Lake Como in Italy in September 1927 saw Niels Bohr reveal what has since become known as the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics. (Bohr was in Denmark when he worked it out.) The theory runs as follows: When a choice is made to measure precisely the position of a particle (such as an electron), the process of measurement forces the particle to develop more uncertainty with regard to its momentum. The reverse is also the case. Science will have to be content with the knowledge that precise measurements of momentum and position of particles is impossible—only probabilistic formulas can be applied.
These formulas are, nonetheless, highly useful. Among other things, this apparent block on knowledge means that the future cannot be statistically predicted, which, in classical physics, was always a theoretical possibility in the context of a universe consisting of separate components obeying fixed laws. These features of quantum theory also contributed to Heisenberg’s uncertainty or indeterminacy principle.
This has been expressed by Professor David Bohm as the discovery that “even if one supposes that the physically significant variables actually exist with sharply defined values (as is demanded by classical mechanics) then we could never measure them simultaneously, for the interaction between the observing apparatus and what is observed always involves an exchange of one or more indivisible and uncontrollably fluctuating quanta.”(2) This was quite a blow to the old school.
Furthermore, in quantum physics the observer participates in the system of observation to such an extent that the system cannot be viewed as independent. That meant, at least in the quantum context, au revoir to the Cartesian notion of an external universe, independent of cognition. Most significantly, it had been discovered that the energy we call an electron may become manifest both as a wave and as a particle, depending on the measuring conditions.


In the famous (idealized) two-slit experiment, we are asked to imagine a wall seen from above, with two holes spaced apart. In front of the wall is an electron gun and behind it, a detector. When a single electron is aimed at the wall, the pattern displayed on the detector indicates wave interference. This extraordinary phenomenon suggests that the electron has gone through both holes at once, in the form or function of a wave, and interfered with itself.
The electron “knows” that both holes are open. Yet, if observed, an electron is seen to go through one hole or the other, and is registered on the detector as a particle. It is as though the electron experiences or even creates a parallel world in which it is in two places at once—a process that can never be observed directly, for the moment an attempt is made to do so, the wave function immediately collapses. The particle “knows” it is being watched! It also behaves as if it knows what other particles are doing. In this context, objective knowledge of a supposed material world is simply impossible.
We are currently unable to know how an electron particle can suddenly function as a wave and what, if anything happens in between. In the words of Professor John Gribbin: “It is interesting that there are limits to our knowledge of what an electron is doing when we are looking at it, but it is absolutely mind-blowing to discover that we have no idea at all what it is doing when we are not looking at it.”(3)
No wonder Niels Bohr was moved to declare, “Anyone who is not shocked by quantum theory has not understood it.” Going further down the metaphysical road, Gribbin asserts in his book In Search of Schrödinger’s Cat (1984): “Nothing is real when we look at it, and it ceases to be real as soon as we stop looking.” The Machine has not only fallen to pieces, but the pieces are not pieces anymore.


Einstein for one was most disturbed, and he (and others) spent years trying to fill the gaps left by the collapse of linear, classical logic, with the formulation of what are called hidden variables to account for the illogical and uncertain character of the quanta.
In the quantum world the left hand always knows what the right hand is doing. In physics, this idea is called the theory of complementarity. Complementarity involves compensations in energy made “between” separate photons traveling apart at the speed of light with no known three-dimensional medium joining them.
Yet, in spite of the fact that nothing we know can travel faster than the speed of light, one photon can indeed affect the other. According to Einstein, “No reasonable definition of reality could be expected to permit this.”(4) The theory of complementarity was proven decisively in the summer of 1982 in a series of experiments conducted at the University of Paris-South by a team led by Alain Aspect.
John Gribbin concludes: “The experiments prove that there is no underlying reality to the world”(5) It is difficult to see precisely what the presumably unreal Gribbin means by this astonishing statement. If quantum effects are real (and human perception is a valid approach to the real—a big if), they cannot demonstrate themselves out of existence.
I understand him to mean that a world of three-dimensions cannot sustain itself alone. The idea of a relatively material universe has broken down—but then it could be suggested that such a world is only an idea after all! This will come as little surprise to students of gnosis, in whose domain matter has long been symbolized by water. Water—or clouds—represent energy in flux whose ultimate basis is ultimately unknowable by ratiocination: the Ungrund of Böhme; the Ain Soph of the kabbalists; the Bythos of the Valentinians; the cosmic Nothing of Pico and Crowley; the Hermetic Good, source of Mind.


In the Gnostic conception, All (pan) is projection from source into greater complexity and obscurity. The human being, with a foot in both worlds, is understandably perplexed. However, the Buddhist notion of the world as maya (whose root is shared with the Sanskrit matra, measure), or illusion, can be, and frequently is, taken to the extreme that the world does not exist.
It might be more illustrative to say that the world bears and illusory character if we take our sense of it at any point to be absolute (the essence of materialism). The world constantly breaks down into partly chaotic activity the more we analyze it, that is, take it as real by breaking the whole into parts. As Dean Inge observed, “A journey through the unreal is an unreal journey,”(6) and it is not only the first Gnostics and last existentialists who have held the view that this journey, though vexatious to the soul, may not be totally in vain.
Those who have explored other dimensions of consciousness have seldom returned to say this one is a complete waste of time. The positive aspect of the Hermetic vision invites us to explore the mind of God, in whose projection we may be conscious participants, having experienced gnosis. We can, if we so choose, go along for the ride; we can follow the law of Thelema: Do what thou wilt!
Nearly two thousand years ago, a writer of a Hermetic dialogue pondered the problem of what it was that bodies, or in our case, photons, moved in:
Hermes: All movement then takes place within something that stands fast, and is caused by something that stands fast…
The movement of the cosmos then, and of every living being that is material, is caused, not by things outside the body, but by things within it, which operate outwards from within; that is to say, either by soul or by something else that is incorporeal.
…I have now explained to you what is that by which things are moved, as well as what is that in which things are moved.
Asclepius: But surely, Trismegistus, it must be in void that things are moved.
Hermes: You ought not to say that, Asclepius, Nothing that is, is void; it is only that which is not, that is void.
…Is not air a body? …And does not that body permeate all things that are, and fill them by its permutations? …Hence the things which you call void ought to be called hollow, not void; for they are full of something that exists.
Asclepius: What then is that incorporeal thing?
Hermes: It is Mind, entire and wholly self-encompassing, free from the erratic movement of things corporeal; it is imperturbable, intangible, standing firm-fixed in itself, containing all things, and maintaining in being all things that are; and it is the light whereby soul is illuminated.
Asclepius: Tell me then, what is the Gods?
Hermes: The Good is the archetypal Light; and Mind and Truth are, so to speak, rays emitted by that Light.
Asclepius: What then is God?
Hermes: God is He that is neither Mind nor Truth, but is the cause to which Mind and Truth, and all things, and each several thing that is, owe their existence.(7)
Because gnosis is concerned with the elementary character of consciousness, we should not be surprised to find unprejudiced attention to matter throwing up classically Gnostic features; the wave/particle duality is an obvious example. Duality is the character of creation from a primal unity in all Gnostic systems, and emphasized at the core of the I Ching, Tantra, and, indeed, all rational intellection (thesis/antithesis --- synthesis, or, more properly, thesis/antithesis—annihilation of thought).


The core of the Gnostic Anthropos is alien to this duality, and from a purely Gnostic perspective, it is no surprise that the once-godlike objective observer of nature has, in quantum studies, “fallen” into matter and been united with his observations—like that fatal aesthete, Narcissus. He thinks he is investigating nature but finds instead that he is exploring some of the contents of his own creative mind. No wonder he is entranced! This possible confusion is what seems to have irritated Einstein so much. How could there be science without absolute objectivity? To which one might respond: how could there be objects without absolute rationality?
This process of projecting ideal archetypal unconscious contents onto the findings of quantum physics is most noticeable in the influential works of David Bohm, late professor of theoretical physics at Birkbeck College, London. Bohm’s interpretation of quantum physics suggested to him that the cosmos bears inherent continuity, a universe of co-inherrent extension, the whole (including mind and matter) enfolded at all possible points with wholeness or “holomovement” (the essence of holistic theory) governed by a universal holonomy as its essential nature: “undivided wholeness in flowing movement,” he called it.
“In this flow mind and matter are not separate substances,” Bohm wrote in his striking book Wholeness and Implicate Order, which reads very much like a description of the Stoic world-soul, the anima mundi, the grainy god of paganism and of its corollary, pantheism.
There are also strong suggestions of pre-Socratic concepts deriving from Anaximander and Heraklitos: All is Flux. Bohm’s vision also bears many remarkable similarities to that of the Gnostic Giordano Bruno: the universe as a total energy system of infinite potential, “a synthesis of infinite relativity,”(8) expressing nous rooted in other dimensions.
For Bruno, an infinite universe is the only possible expression of an eternal God.(9) Where Bruno sees infinity in the extension of space, Bohm sees it in an unending enfoldment of reality, the holomovement. Likewise, we are reminded of Nicholas of Cusa’s use of the Hermetic geometrical apotheosis: God is an infinite sphere whose center is everywhere, circumference nowhere.


Bohm could have taken as his text Christ’s saying that if a house be divided against itself, it cannot stand, for he deduces an ethical imperative from the quantum survey. He believes that the physics of his holomovement has immediate practical consequences, providing a noetic basis for the struggle against fragmentation of the mind (psychology and psychiatry), fragmentation of the body (medicine), and the painful fissures throughout human society (politics).
What difference will acceptance of this truth make? As Johann Valentin Andreae found in the seventeenth century, the truth—whether from science or from any other quarter—is mostly despised and her followers shunted into cloisters. We need more than thoughts to sustain us; something like an active principle of complementarity would do the trick. These photons seem to love one another as themselves.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge had a similar vision to Bohm, calling it the One Life, which his famous Mariner transgressed in a moment’s thoughtlessness. This is the unus mundus of the alchemists (that which is above is like that which is below; to work the miracle of the One Thing), Blake’s marriage of heaven and hell, a baby in a backyard stable in Bethlehem—the Hermetic romance.
In answer to those who would see such a vision as an idealistic goal still to be achieved, we have the assertion of John Lennon (a man who had a bellyful of the illusion of the world) that it is not that we want the world to be one. It is One, hence “One World One People” appeared on the run-out groove of his last record. Elias Ashmole’s armorial motto says much the same thing (with a suggestive construction denying simplistic monism): EX UNO OMNIA—certainly more practical than the somewhat premature E Pluribus Unum, on which the United States and other social idealisms have foundered.


This all ties in with the Gnostic vision that duality and the accompanying phenomenon of separateness, isolation, and alienation represented the central problem in the nature of consciousness in three dimensions (the hylic hell). The Gnostic goal was to participate in the restoration of the Pleroma, the fullness of God as a dynamic, equilibrated whole.
Three-dimensional consciousness represented the fall from a protean unity, with its fixation on the illusion of real objects and accompanying desires and pains. This is important since Gnostics are too frequently called dualists. In their consistent (Hermetic) form, Gnostics were and are—when properly understood—antidualists. To communicate to the world-fixated being the Gnostic message that materialistic perception leaves us in a prison without light, it was perhaps necessary to concretize the idea that immersion in matter was a terrible thing and should be resisted and overcome. Materialist consciousness is a very hard nut to crack. It is in all of us and is everywhere about us. The real difficulty is that it is relatively true!
The Hermetic gnosis is weighted very heavily against the idea of creation as evil, while Aleister Crowley was adamant that dualism of matter and spirit was anathema, since matter may be seen as a manifestation of mind. The ideal Gnostic state, which Raja Yoga calls samadhi (union with God), is expressed by the Logos-incarnate in St. John’s Gospel as “I and my Father are one”—a statement anathematized in its turn by those who believe in an external God, separate from an external material world. The classic illusion of low-level human perception thus turns God into a materialist.
Lama Govinda, a modern Buddhist scholar, expresses union with God in these terms: “This experience does not dissolve the mind into an amorphous All, but rather brings the realization that the individuality itself contains the totality focalized at its very core.”(10) This compares interestingly with Aleister Crowley’s dhyana experience in Sri Lank in 1901, which brought him a vision of the divinity of the human archetype, itself akin to Ezekiel’s vision of God in human form in his famous prophecy (1:26), so reminiscent of Blake’s glorious Albion.


Other facets of quantum theory abound in suggestive parallels with familiar Gnostic themes. As stated earlier, a photon moving at the speed of light does not know time. A light particle emitted at the time of the Big Bang (a demiurgical image, as Hans Jonas has observed) and traveling outwardly ever since would, at the end of time, be back where it started: both alpha and omega, beginning and end. Does this not indicate a phenomenon reminiscent of Plato’s description of time in his Timaeus as “the moving image of eternity”?
The experience of timelessness that characterizes the essential Gnostic experience is thus shown not to be the delusion of an overheated brain but rather less illusionary than the average consciousness.
The principle of complementarity suggests that everything in the universe, past, present, and future, is connected to everything else. Each thing somehow holds an image of everything as a whole within it. Spare a thought for the limitations of language! Everything is connected within a web of electromagnetic radiation that functions as if it were omniscient, omnipresent, and even omnipotent (bringing particles forth seemingly ex nihilo and transcending linear time when occasion demands).
These features, normally associated with an external deity, appear to function in the nature of…things(?). Thus the Hermetic axiom so important to a practical mystic like John Dee: mundus imago dei (the world is the image of God) is to believers a valid inference from the results of experimental physics.


There is much in quantum physics to suggest a kind of pantheism. That is to say, if you see the universe as interweaving matrices of energy, then is this energy in toto, GOD? It is a tempting thought.
However, this idea of God as a binding intelligence, or even a blind force working on automatic mathematical pilot, reads very much more like the Gnostic’s crazy Demiurge (identified by Blake with the rational faculty in mournful isolation), whose work is that which can be bound and measured (Law), than the unknowable Father who can, paradoxically, be known in the spirit. It very much depends on whether you conceive of the universe as a spiritual system in sensible manifestation, or as a statistical system of abstracts in which we find ourselves.
The inevitable tendency of physics, when we consider the premises of experimental observation in the Baconian mold, is toward the latter. But in spite of Stephen Hawking’s amusing tease that science will show us “the mind of God” (especially when the reverse might equally be the case), it is doubtful if we know enough about the universe to be anything like conclusive on this question.


The prodigious mathematician Kurt Godel’s incompleteness theorem, formulated in the 1930s, not only seems to be presage some aspects of current chaos theory but also, according to Larry Dorsey, M.D., writing about the primacy of nonlocal mind, shows that nature’s laws, if they are consistent as we believe them to be, must be of some inner formulation quite different from anything we know(11) and which, at present, as Bronowski put it, “we have no idea how to conceive.”(12)
Personally, I find the term pantheism useful: the concept that God is in the All, and the All is in God—but that the All is not God. This view leaves more rooms in the many mansions of the divine house open for inspection. And like those electrons who seem to keep freedom of direction open to the very, very last instant—and may alter the course or even form when observed—this formulation (and that is all it is) seems to guarantee freedom from being dominated by matter. This is what the Hermetically influenced Comenius hoped would characterize the work of systematic science in the Royal Society.
Furthermore, we may doubt that spirit—or, more particularly, mind—is an activity of what is called electromagnetism on the same basis that we doubt the nineteenth-century paraphysical speculation that God was embodied in the supposed medium of ether. We may just end up with another phlogiston: a nonexistent substance dreamed up to fit a preconceived formula.
St. Paul said that “spiritual things are spiritually discerned” –and when we grasp the meaning of this, we may see a renewed theology once more become the reigning queen of the sciences—so long, that is, as theologian do not become the reigning queens. God, Blake tells us, is not a spiritual diagram.


We may also wonder how it could possibly be that such ideas as the primacy of mind (apprehended in the Hermetic nous); the plurity of multidimensional worlds; the human being as microcosm (reflecting and creating the macrocosmos, the whole present in the parts—a deduction of Bohm from quantum theory); the interpretation and (mainly) orderly correspondence of all things in the astromagical doctrine; the effectiveness of willed magical gestures (note the “butterfly effect” in chaos theory); the significance of randomness in guaranteeing freedom and extradimensional guidance (from the Urim and Thummim to the Tarot and I Ching); precognition, the illusion of matter; the creation of the universe as a consequence of a disturbed prior equilibrium (the universe as a result of vacuum fluctuations and asymmetry, a deduction from quantum theory); the idea of a nonlocal mind affecting matter—and indeed the whole idea of God and eternity—could have arisen without humankind possessing faculties superior to sense perception for thousands of years (at least). All these ideas arose long before systematic physics had even found its way out of (Plato’s) cave. If humans lacked such faculties, it is difficult to see how physics itself could ever have emerged.
We can only conclude that contrary to the materialist delusion, humans, in their essential being, are, as the Hermetic philosophy asserts, superior in their senses in ways we have hardly begun to grasp. It seems that our only obstruction is ourselves.


In this context, it would not be going too far to say that physics, along with the other sciences, is advancing “back” toward her glorious status as the practical and applied aspect of spiritual gnosis.
In the words of quantum physicist Erwin Schrödinger: “We may, or so I believe, assert that physical theory in its present stage strongly suggests the indestructibility of Mind by Time.”(13)
British physicist Paul Davies has remarked that physicists “have learned to approach their subject in totally unexpected and novel ways that seemed to turn common sense on its head and find closer accord with mysticism than materialism … Science has actually advanced to the point where what were formerly religious questions can be seriously tackled.”(14)
If all this appears to some minds to be antiscientific, this is far from my intention. It is simply to say that there is a persistent tendency to use science as a proof for religious ideas and, less frequently, vice versa. This must, ultimately, be as vain as supposing that archaeology could prove that Moses was who the Bible says he was, or that the Turin shroud could prove an event as miraculous as the resurrection of Christ is supposed to have been.
“First come the bread, then the morals,” as Brecht put it.(15) The archetypes create us, not we them, as (the Gnostic) Jung has shown. The mind that observes nature is—at its highest point, synthesis, or evolution—Gnostic, seeking knowledge of its freedom. Undoubtedly such a mind, even it if is as maimed by the overdependence on sense or reason as ours are, will discover a Gnostic universe, for it is an article of knowledge in gnosis that the mind that creates the universe is shared among us, should we choose to be participants in it.
We all go back before the Big Bang, and what we uncover in its extension is nothing more nor less than ourselves.
‘Now fix your though upon the Light.’ he said, ‘and learn to know it.’ And when he had thus spoken, he gazed long upon me, eye to eye, so that I trembled at his aspect. And when I raised my head again, I saw in my mind that the Light consisted of innumerable Powers, and had come to be an ordered cosmos, but a cosmos without bounds. This I perceived in thought, seeing it by reason of the logos [spiritual mind] which Poimandres had spoken to me, ‘You have seen in your mind the archetypal form, which is prior to the beginning of things, and is limitless.’
Thus spoke Poimandres to me.(16)

In perception, as in love, we receive but what we give.
From Chapter 13 of Gnostic Philosophy: From Ancient Persia to Modern Times by Tobias Churton. (pages 371- 386) c.2005 Published by Inner Traditions Rochester, Vermont. T

Notes:
1. Comenius, Via Lucis (The Way of Light), 1668.
2. David Bohm, Wholeness and the Implicate Order, 69.
3. John Gribbin, In Search of Schrödinger’s Cat, 161.
4. Albert Einstein, quoted in Abraham Pais, Subtle is the Lord… (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1982). From a paper “Can quantum mechanical description of physical reality be considered complete?” by A. Einstein, B. Podolsky, N. Rosen, reprinted in the volume Physical Reality, ed. S Toulmin (San Francisco: Harper and Rowe, 1970), 456.
5. John Gribbin, In Search of Schrödinger’s Cat, 4.
6. Dean Inge.
7. Corpus Hermeticum, Libellus 2.12a-13.
8. David Bohm, Giordano Bruno: His Life and Thought (New York: Schuman, 1950).
9. See Giordano Bruno, On the Infinite Universe and Worlds, in Singer, Giordano Bruno.
10. Renee Weber, Dialogues with Scientists and Sages (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1986).
11. Larry Dorsey, Recovering the Soul: A Scientific and Spiritual Search (London: Bantam New Age Books, 1989).
12. Bronowski, A Sense of the Future (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1977).
13. Erwin Schrödinger, Mind and Matter (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1958).
14. Paul Davies, quoted in Larry Dorsey, Recovering the Soul: A Scientific and Spiritual Search, Bantam (London: New Age Books, 1989).
15. Bertolt Brecht, Threepenny Opera.
16. Corpus Hermeticum, Libellus 1.7-8: The “Authentic Nous” Speaks to Hermes Trismegistus.



Ashé Journal, Vol 4, Issue 3, 399-416, Fall 2005.
http://ashejournal.com/index.php?id=27