F. David Peat by F. David Peat
Recently Merry and I interviewed one of our great philosophical heroes, F. David Peat. His thinking and the career that he has built around it are even more far reaching and inclusive than we expected. The trajectory of his career, from prominent theoretical physicist to philosopher-educator-community builder blazes the path from mono-focused science to encompassing awe for the diversity and integrity of Nature that we believe western civilization must follow to survive and thrive. In my interpretation of Peat's work, the diverse mirrors the whole. This is because Peat often writes about the holographic interpretation of physics, most famously communicated by physicist David Bohm and neurologist Karl Pribram. Holography means the part mirrors the whole. Thus, as expressed by Michael Talbot (1991), when one takes a holographic picture, a laser beam is shot through an object which is then encoded on a photographic plate. If that plate is smashed, then the fullness of the image is encoded in every shattered section. Thus, in each part is the whole. Extrapolating this into a natural law, the world becomes one great big mirror in which each shattered piece contains a picture of the whole.
I believe our politics (e.g., republicans and democrats, liberal and conservative), economies, and religions, are also holographic mirrors of one another. The divisiveness of some religious sects furthermore mirror the divisiveness of politics, and socio-economic classes which, in turn, mirror the divisiveness of various philosophical orientations. We even have what has been called the "Battle of the Sexes," which again mirrors the mindset of divisiveness. Thus we are in a constant state of war.
Does it have to be this way? Can we indeed love "thy neighbor as thyself?" Can we truly embrace that "No man is an island" and our neigbor is ourself as truly as our thumb contains the identical DNA as our heart and brain?
In addition to his work with David Bohm and communicating about the findings of physics to lay readers, David Peat's greatest gift to the world is in helping us move beyond the traditional specialized academic world and into the interdisciplinary perspective that extends beyond science and academia. This movement occurred when he moved from being a professor of physics, in which he taught established facts, to an educator who encouraged human dialogue in which Wisdom emerges spontaneously. Currently, he does this work in a relaxed atmosphere at The Pari Center for New Learning in a tiny, rural town in Italy. Peat's teaching style is said to be Socratic. Socrates believed Truth was inherent inside a person and through questioning the Truth could be elicited. Thus a teacher served in being a catalyst for the evolution of a potential within a student, just as F. David Peat's book Synchronicity served as a catalyst for many of the articles I have written on OpEd.
Peat helps us to move beyond our divided and rationalized perspectives into a more holistic one. He also helps us to move beyond the sterile lab in much the same fashion as does Gregory Baetson, who discusses the "insanity" of studying the behavior of animals in the lab. Thus, Baetson states " Do you think we are all in a lab of our own making, in which we drive each other crazy? " (LaChapell, p.7) Is this the sickness of Western Civilization? Are we more like Skinnerian rats in an operant conditioning experiment with shocks and rewards given by people that believe the function of psychology is to "control behavior?" What if a new psychology would occur in which the goal would be to help people evolve their potential instead of trying to control and standardize their behavior to the benefit of the manipulating scientists?
of the most important works I have read regarding physics and the
holographic universe is F. David Peat's Synchronicity: The
Unity of Mind and Matter. This
work also took a look at the work of psychiatrist Carl Jung and his
notion of the Collective Unconscious. While challenging for a lay
person like myself, the book was highly approachable. I have read it
four times, and learn more each time I read it. Peat worked with the
late physicist David Bohm (whom I often quote), with whom he wrote
the book Science, Order and Creativity. Peat
wrote Bohm's biography, Infinite Potential: The Life and
Times of David Bohm.
Infinite Potential: The Life and Times of David Bohm by F. David Peat
Peat emphasizes in Infinite Potential how Bohm had worked intensely on finding a mathematical expression for his vision of an interconnected, enfolded implicate order, from which an explicate order, the world of classical physics, unfolds. I refer to the implicate order as the Unmanifest. The Unmanifest is a place of infinite potential which ultimately can be tapped into and made explicit. The question I ask is can we go beyond our conditioned minds in order to tap into what is unconditioned and thus evolve into a more loving and connected species? Or, do we remain stuck in a particular way of seeing Reality that results in multiple problems including constant warfare, environmental destruction, increased crime, drug addiction, abuse on multiple levels and overall discontent and disconnect? This appears to me and to many as the crucial question of our time. Peat no longer looks for simply a mathematical expression, but also for a philosophical, spiritual, musical, natural, and lived expression of this unifying concept. The "formula" for our living Universe must contain all these dimensions constantly interacting and unfolding.
Perhaps we don't have to remain stuck in a civilization in which we have a top-down rulership by corporations and politicians. Perhaps we have the power to evolve ourselves from the inside out and empower ourselves. After all, in all particles of matter is the whole of the Unmanifest. Perhaps the unlimited potentials are within us and not in any externalized political, religious, or philosophical revolution? Perhaps the depths of our Soul are unlimited? Perhaps we meet Christ, Buddha, Mohammed, and Shiva in each person with whom we communicate. (Perhaps I-We can gain the confidence to say "It so happens," "let it be," "Ho," or "Amen" instead of "perhaps" in all these sentences!)
In my writings (e.g., my unpublished manuscript Sophia's Web ) , I oftentimes link Bohm's Unmanifest to creation myths as diverse as Native American, Asian, and African myth as well as Judea-Christian-Muslim stories. Thus, when the Bible reads and "the Earth was without form and void and darkness was upon the face of the Deep," my own interpretation of both that verse and Bohm's writings is that his point of infinite Creativity is here and now within all of us and within all of matter. Genesis is in this moment and serves as the foundation for the Manifest.
In Lex Hixon's interpretation of the mystic Hindu Ramakrishna's work, this Unmanfest indeed works here and now. As he states: "The Unmanifest shines forth as Shakti (Creative Energy and Wisdom) and Shakti is simply the luminous darkness of the Unmanifest. Shakti is the one divine Reality that becomes all the precious Beings abiding on Earthly and Heavenly spheres. Mother Energy and Mother Essence simply are not two."
The Unmanifest is not separate from the Manifest in the same fashion that waves on the surface of the Ocean are not separate from the Ocean depths. Shakti relates to the Spirit (female, Ruach in Hebrew) that moved over the face of the Waters (female, Tehom, also Marie means Ocean, thus John 1:14's statement "the Word is made flesh" is a mirror of the process of Creation in Genesis). Indeed, in deep meditation, one finds this event happening in the Eternal Now. This moment of your reading and my writing happens Now!
After that second verse, the Word arises with the "Let there be" lines and the universe takes form in the same mathematical procession as a fetus unfolds in his mother's uterus. The division of those Waters ultimately takes on the "Flower of Life" form that is prevalent throughout the world spiritual systems....and in our manifest world, including the unfolding of the human egg into a baby.
The Native American Kogis reinforce this same message regarding the Uncreated Creative Source through their Goddess Aluna. They say: "The Mother is not plants, not people. She is not anything at all. She is when She is, darkly."