Rick: Welcome to Buddha at the Gas Pump. Buddha at the Gas Pump is an ongoing series of interviews with spiritually awakening people. I’ve done hundreds of them now and hope to do hundreds more. We were just joking around before starting about when to start collecting Social Security and I said, “Well, I plan to live a long time, so I’m going to wait until I’m 70,” which isn’t that far off. Anyway, if you haven’t heard this show before and you’d like to check out previous ones, there are about 465 to check out, go to www.batgap.com and look under the past interviews menu where you’ll find many of them, all of them in fact. This show is made possible by the support of appreciative listeners and viewers. If you appreciate it, if you feel like it’s benefited you in some way and might be benefiting others and you’d like to help support it, there’s a PayPal button on every page of the site. My guest today is Paul Levy. Paul is a pioneer in the field of spiritual emergence. He describes himself as a wounded healer in private practice, assisting others who are also awakening to the dreamlike nature of reality. He is the author of Quantum Revelation, The Quantum Revelation, a Radical Synthesis of Science and Spirituality, which I’ve been reading and enjoying very much. He’s also the author of Awakened by Darkness, When Evil Becomes Your Father, Dispelling Wetico, Breaking the Curse of Evil, and the final book, The Madness of George W. Bush, a Reflection of our Collective Psychosis. George W. Bush seems quite sane now by comparison. He is the founder of the Awakening in the Dream community in Portland, Oregon. Paul is an artist and is deeply steeped in the work of Carl Gustav Jung and has been a Tibetan Buddhist practitioner for over 30 years. He was the coordinator for the Portland Padmasambhava Buddhist Center for over 20 years. So welcome Paul.
Paul: Hi, I am so happy to be here Rick, thank you.
Rick: Yeah, happy to have you. Really enjoyed getting to know you over the past week through your book and various recordings that I listened to. And since most of those who are listening won’t know anything about you, before we dive into your book, which is about quantum mechanics and the topic of wetiko, which you’ll have to explain, let’s hear a little bit about you so people can get a sense of your background.
Paul: Yeah, no, I really appreciate that because my background is not typical in that when I was in my early 20s I had this spiritual awakening that came out of intense suffering that I was going through, and how I dealt with this suffering was to go into it, was to really assume the position of trying to be sort of the observer, and by doing that, which is just to be doing spiritual meditation practice, and I was doing it for maybe about four hours a day for close to a couple years, and it was the only thing that I found that was helping to alleviate my suffering.
Rick: During those four hours were you just sort of feeling the suffering even more acutely, but kind of grinning and bearing it, so to speak, and just kind of powering on through?
Paul: No not, it wasn’t so much like powering on through, it was just assuming the point of view of just, instead of trying to figure my way out of my suffering by being absorbed in my mind and trying to figure it out or thinking about it, it was just to sort of step back and just to watch, and whenever a thought came up, just to notice it as a thought and just to let it go, so it was more and more just assuming the position of that spacious awareness that was witnessing, and that’s really what I was doing, and that was the only thing I had figured out, and I guess just to be a little bit more specific, the suffering was because my father wound up being a really sick man from the emotional point of view, and like any person who hasn’t integrated their abuse, he had acted it out, “I’m the only child,” onto me, that was the suffering, and so many of us can relate to that, and so by doing that meditation, after almost two years I got hit by a bolt of lightning, but it wasn’t from outside in the sky, just instantaneously this lightning just ignited in my brain, and within a day I went into such an extreme altered state, like I had had this personality change just overnight, that I got thrown in a mental hospital.
Rick: Let me stop you here for a second. So when you say “bolt of lightning,” is that metaphorical or was there actually sort of a flash of light? I mean, do you attribute that now to some kind of sudden Kundalini awakening or something?
Paul: Yeah, yeah, yeah, it was not metaphorical, it was definitely a Kundalini, I mean, that became clear to me, and it was just out of the blue, it was as if an actual bolt of lightning came into my brain and just ignited, but that was the subjective experience, was all of a sudden just sitting in meditation and boom, this lightning bolt just ignited in my mind, and it was definitely Kundalini, and then within hours of that happening, what happened for me on the internal plane was I began to see, “Oh, this is some sort of collective dream, we’re all interconnected and interdependent and we’re co-creating this together,” and I was so filled with enthusiasm and excitement about that realization that that’s what got me locked up, because all of a sudden I just was like, I couldn’t contain how excited I was at what I was realizing. And so that was the first hospitalization, and within a minute …
Rick: So you were kind of shouting it from the rooftops, so to speak?
Paul: Yeah, sort of shouting it from the rooftop, but not quite like that, but just it was like all of a sudden going from being this normal, ordinary conditioned person to just feeling like the creativity of the universe just flowing through me at every moment and having this realization of, “Oh my God, this is a collective dream,” it was just overwhelming, and I would say that I couldn’t have possibly have been prepared for what I was realizing, because I was just an ordinary person, I was in my … like I was 24 at that point, but the thing is within the minute of getting … so I was brought by ambulance to this hospital, and within a minute I had this synchronistic, the most synchronistic event, I think, or one of the most that had ever happened in my life, that totally changed the whole trajectory of my life within one minute of being in that hospital. And I don’t know if maybe I should share that.
Rick: Was that about the blind woman?
Paul: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Rick: Yeah, why don’t you tell that? I thought that was kind of interesting.
Paul: Yeah, yeah, you could say that. So I get brought in by ambulance to Highland Hospital in Oakland, California. This is in 1981, and they bring me … it’s at night, it’s probably after dinner, and they bring me into this lounge for the psychiatric patients, and I’m in this complete altered extreme state, and I see this woman, this older woman, and she’s blind. Her eyes are totally opaque, and I just find myself, without even thinking, I just go right up to her, and I look in her eyes, and out of my mouth, as if I’ve been given the script to say, just spontaneously comes the words, “All you have to do to see is open your eyes and look.” And I keep on repeating those words, and keep on getting closer to her, and then the whole thing took about a minute, and in front of my eyes, she regained her sight. And at that moment, as if it was choreographed, they came, and they took me, and they strapped me up on a bed, and that was where I spent the night, just strapped up on a bed, and I knew that I was having a spiritual awakening. I mean, it couldn’t have been more obvious to me. And you know …
Rick: Let me ask you about the woman, before we go on.
Paul: Yeah, sure.
Rick: You say her eyes were all occluded, you know, the lenses were opaque or something, and yet she suddenly gained the ability to see. I mean, if you looked at her eyes, did they become clear?
Paul: Yeah, yeah, yeah. It was like night and day. It was like seeing a person whose eyes are clearly blind, and there’s no vision, and just dead, to all of a sudden, these radiant, these luminous eyes that were filled with the ability to see, and how that got confirmed. So when they unstrapped me that next morning, they put me in a room, and coincidentally, the only other person in the room is this blind person. And she’s sitting there across the table from me, and she’s just smiling from ear to ear, not saying a word, and then all of a sudden, my heart chakra just opened, and I had never had that experience before, and then I understood, “Oh, I get it. Physically her eyes were fine, but inwardly, psychologically, she wasn’t allowing herself to look.” And somehow, I had, in whatever way, saw that, and it was clear to me that, “Oh, she was ready to heal,” and I was sent by central casting to pick up the role of just saying my lines, which I said properly, that helped her to step out of her blindness and to heal her inner blindness. And then she says to me, the only word she ever said to me, she says, “Aren’t you going to answer the phone call from,” and she mentions my father’s name. And then within seconds, the nurse comes into the room and says to me that my father was on the phone, because my parents had just heard I had had a psychotic break and was hospitalized. And so that’s sort of that synchronicity story, and then within three days, I got out of that hospital because the doctor in charge of me, he reflected, “Hey, you have to show us that you’re not completely insane, or we’re going to keep you here for a really long time.” And I took that in, and it was spring, it was beautiful outside, and I thought, “Well, I don’t really want to stay inside here for a really long time,” so I just totally became normal and began talking about my problems and my neuroses and all this stuff. And he literally said to me, “Well, you can go, you can leave.” And we got together for lunch the next week, and I told him about the blind woman. He became very uncomfortable, he didn’t want to talk about it, but he said to me, he says, “The fact that I could do that, that I could be fluid in my identity and just step into being normal,” to him, that proved that I wasn’t crazy.
Rick: Now, but that wasn’t your only hospitalization, was it? Weren’t there subsequent admissions?
Paul: Yeah, yeah, yeah. So what happened, what happened, then within a few days of that, I knew something. When you have an experience like that, it’s really clear that something really profound was happening, and all my friends, they all thought, “Oh, Paul just had this nervous breakdown, this psychotic break,” so I kind of knew I had to find somebody to talk to who understood. So I found out about this Buddhist monk in San Francisco, who I went to tell what happened, and he said to me, “Oh, you’re in luck. The most enlightened Buddhist master of all of Southeast Asia, this 85-year-old great master, had just arrived into town that I should get his blessings.” So I actually went, and we had an incredible connection, and I got his blessings. But over that next, you know, maybe one and a half, like two years, something like that, three or four times, or something like that, I was also hospitalized, because even though I had met him, I wasn’t in a container, I wasn’t in an ashram or a monastery. I was a free agent out in the world having this wild awakening, and I hadn’t integrated it enough to figure out how not to freak people out. So a number of times, three, four times, I got hospitalized, medicated, diagnosed, and the psychiatrists were guaranteeing that I had this chemical imbalance that was just discovered. The DSM-3 had just come out one year before, and they guaranteed that I had this mental illness, that I would have it for the rest of my life, that I would need to be on medication till my dying breath, or I would have a psychotic break immediately. And I should just kind of comment, I haven’t been on any medication for like 35 years with no episodes.
Rick: Did they make you take it for a while?
Paul: Yeah, they made me take it for a number of months, and it was horrible.
Rick: Oh, it must have been really dulling. Oh yeah, I remember there was one point they made me take this anti-psychotic, and I remember feeling this is an anti-creative, because I’m a creative, we’re all creative. And so I quickly, I just figured out how to take myself off and how to appear normal so that I could continue the awakening. But the tragic part of the awakening, it totally destroyed my family. My parents bought into the psychiatric, they saw doctors as authority figures, so they both died thinking that, “Oh, Paul’s just in denial of his illness, and the rest of my family has excommunicated me because, oh, Paul is just this mentally ill person who just can’t deal with that, he’s crazy.” So it had a tragic aspect, but I’ve been really fortunate in that I have this huge soul family, and I’ve continued my awakening and deepened my work.
Rick: Do you have times even now where you feel like you’re not quite integrated and you get a little nutty and you need to integrate somehow?
Paul: Well, totally. I mean, that’s every day, but that’s normal. I would be really suspicious if somebody said, “Oh, they don’t have those moments,” because for me, I’m a work in progress, like all of us. That’s what I mean about I’m this wounded healer, in that, yeah, there’s this incredible wound, and instead of being an avoidance of it or doing drugs or drinking or whatever one does to avoid experiencing that pain, no, I sit with that for hours and hours a day, and that’s the source of my creative work.
Rick: Yeah. As far as I’m concerned, and not everybody likes to hear this kind of thing, if you’re still breathing, you’re a work in progress, and that would include the Dalai Lama and Ramana Maharshi and the Nisargadatta, everybody.
Paul: Absolutely, and they actually say that, His Holiness Dalai Lama says, “Oh, with my altruism, with my compassion, I’m always increasing it.” It’s not like you ever get to the end.
Rick: Right, and the Nisargadatta said, “Forget I Am That,” that was the name of a book. He said, “I’ve learned so much since then, it’s so much deeper.” This was maybe, I don’t know, 10 years after I Am That was published.
Paul: Yeah, yeah, and if I could just say one thing about that, because when you awaken, you begin to discover that you’re interconnected with the field, and think about it, there’s this shadow in the field. There’s this abuse and wounding and trauma, we’re all having PTSD, and as this sort of like a shaman or wounded healer, like we all are, we’re like these organs to metabolize the shadow in the field. So of course, every day, we’re going to feel a little bit like out of sorts, but then the question is, how do you carry that?
Rick: Yeah, I have a friend who said recently that she felt like she had somehow worked through her individual karma. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but that she felt that she was now taking on collective karma and processing that. In fact, I’ve interviewed and spoken with a number of people who’ve said things along those lines. And if we get right down to it, as I’m sure you and I will be discussing, where does the individual end and the collective begin? You can’t find a demarcation point.
Paul: Exactly, totally, no, that’s exactly right. As you were saying that with your friend, I was like, “Yeah, it’s not this chronological process, ‘Oh, now I’ve emptied out my personal karma, now I need to deal with the collective.’ It’s really hard to find that boundary between the two.
Rick: Yeah, okay, so you’ve written a number of books over the years, and I imagine those books in themselves are sort of symptomatic of various stages of development that you’ve undergone as your experience and understanding have matured. And so, you were just relaying some stuff that happened in the early 80s. Before we get into the meat of your book on quantum physics and perhaps into a discussion about wetiko, what would you consider to be some significant points that people should know of what has transpired over the last 30-40 years?
Paul: Yeah, well, that’s a really good question, because in 1981, that was when I began to have the realization that we’re having this collective dream, and that insight, I’ve just been continually integrating that insight, and it’s been just ever this deepening insight. And that led into the work with the wetiko idea, which then led into the quantum physics thing, and all three of those � this being a dream, wetiko and quantum physics � are all interrelated. And I guess one final thing that ties them all together is that if I hadn’t connected with being creative, with finding my creative voice, then I would have been in trouble. Then I don’t even want to think about what my life would have been like with that. So the idea being that I was having whatever subjective experience of the nature of things and of myself, and the fact that I’ve been able to continually creatively articulate what I’ve been realizing, and I’m saying that because it’s not just my process. I’m saying that every single person because I have a healing practice every person who I work with, that’s the key thing for them to really connect with their creative voice.
Rick: Okay. When you say that you’re a pioneer in the field of spiritual emergence, how would you define spiritual emergence?
Paul: Yeah, well I would say it’s like to see through the illusion that we exist as a separate self, as like this reference point in time that’s isolated from the environment and from the universe and from other people, and to have the recognition that we’re all actually interconnected, that we’re actually dream characters in each other’s dreams. Which is to say, when you have a dream and you contemplate, “Oh, there are all these figures in the dream, there are these dream characters,” what that means is that there are just reflections of parts of yourself, and so there’s no separation. And that’s when you begin to really step into that, and out of that comes the compassion, the real compassion. That’s what I mean when I talk about when somebody’s having a spiritual emergence.
Rick: And is the word “emergence” in any way related in this case to “emergency,” because I think sometimes, I mean you had a bit of an emergency, you know you were hospitalized, but it’s not necessarily emergency if one can handle it properly, understands what’s going on.
Paul: Right, right, and the thing is, like for me, totally, it was an emergency in that, I mean, it could have been if I wasn’t … you see, the thing that saved me when I was hospitalized was that it could not have been made more clear to me that I was having an awakening. So my entire universe, my family, my friends, the doctors, everybody was reflecting back that I was mentally ill, that I had a chemical imbalance, and I’m just thinking, “Wow, they’re really stupid. They just have no idea what they’re talking about,” and I was able to have that point of view because I knew I was having an awakening. It couldn’t have been more obvious, and that’s what saved me. And so that was an emergency in the sense that certain … these episodes can be really dangerous because, you know, without having experienced what that’s like, you can’t even imagine the energy that’s unlocked when you step out of that separate self and you have some form of, whether it’s Kundalini or you have recognition of what the nature of your situation and who we are. It’s so overwhelming that it’s very typical that it takes a while, sometimes a number of months, sometimes a number of years, to metabolize that energy and what you’re realizing and to integrate it so that you’re in balance enough to not freak people out. And that’s the … I guess the one final thing, I love the opinion, so many people, it’s very tragic, are hospitalized and diagnosed and medicated and might go their whole lives in that state who were or are potentially having a spiritual emergence, but it isn’t being recognized. Like in indigenous cultures, they might understand when somebody’s acting kind of weird or abnormal, “Oh, they might be being called by the Spirit, they might be having a spiritual form of awakening.” In modern culture, that’s not recognized, and immediately they’re just pathologized and medicated, and it can be really, really tragic.
Rick: Have you seen an improvement in that over the last several decades?
Paul: Is it … Yeah, I would say both yes and no, because even now in the appendix of the DSM, there’s a little two-line thing saying something like, “Oh, there’s this religious, spiritual sort of problem,” that that’s what it refers to it as, where it’s actually making some sort of reference to that there could be a spiritual process that’s happening that’s not pathological. But where the no part is, is more and more psychiatry is just biochemical, so it’s just like, “Oh, if you have any sort of symptom or any sort of weird behavior, just take this pill and it might make the symptom go away, but then it will abort the deeper spiritual process.” So it’s both yes and no.
Rick: Yeah, and I think that the predominant paradigm in that field and in science in general, although there are obviously exceptions to it among some interesting people, is that any spiritual experience, as with any experience, is some kind of biochemical thing, and including like if you have a near-death experience, it’s because your brain is deprived of oxygen. If you have some spiritual experience, there must be some, I don’t know, serotonin or DMT or something getting secreted, but it couldn’t possibly have anything to do with an actual cognition of deeper reality because they just don’t have that in their toolkit.
Paul: Right, right, and that’s the whole materialistic point of view, that what’s fundamentally primary is like the physical world, where when we get to quantum physics, that turns that on its head and says, “Oh, actually consciousness is the primary fundamental source of all of manifestation, and the physical reality is just like this more superficial manifestation of the underlying field of consciousness.” So it really turns that on its head.
Rick: Yeah, I guess it’s in a way we’re making progress because 400 or 500 years ago, people who had had experiences like yours might have been burned at the stake or something and suspected of possession, and these days at least they’re treated more humanely, but we definitely got a ways to go.
Paul: Yeah, no, or 400 or 500 years ago, if they were in the right culture, they might have had other people have been honored and recognized, and then just they support them in their process because they understand if the person comes back from that underworld … Because what happened for me for years, well, not for years, but for a while, I was feeling, “Wow, I screwed up. The hospitalizations were a mistake. It really stopped my awakening.” And then at a certain point, I had the realization, “No, no, no, the hospitalizations and the abuse I suffered, the intense psychiatric abuse, that was part of the awakening. That was the descent into Hades, into the underworld.” And as soon as I was able to reframe that, then well, that’s how it showed up in my experience, and then it became part of the perfection of the awakening.
Rick: Good. We’ve thrown the word “wetiko” around a few times, unless it’s something you want to say to kind of wrap up stuff we’ve just been saying.
Paul: No, no, that’s fine.
Rick: Did you shift into that?
Paul: No, totally. And the wetiko thing is like … so one other way I could describe my awakening process, so I was saying, “Oh, I was recognizing the dreamlike nature and we’re collectively having this mass-shared dream and we’re interconnected,” the other half of that is that I was having this direct encounter with archetypal evil, and whether it was through my father being the instrument or psychiatry, but I was beginning to have the recognition there was almost like a higher-dimensional field that had a real dark side to it. And I was fortunate, and it goes back to, yeah, I’m still this work-in-progress or really assimilating what I’m being shown, but that darker side, that’s like in the tradition, like the indigenous Native American tradition, that’s what they call wetiko. It’s the spirit of evil, it’s the source of evil that’s informing all of the incredible destructiveness that we’re enacting in our own selves, through our relationships, and through the body politic of the world, and it’s informing that we’re actually enacting this collective form of suicide. And so the idea of wetiko, it’s like this cannibalistic spirit that, to the extent that we’re unaware of it, we just literally become taken over by it, and it’s informing our self-destruction. But what I point out is that encoded in wetiko, it’s actually helping us to evolve. It’s helping us to wake up that if it didn’t exist, we would actually have to invent it, because it’s actually a catalyst for our collective awakening, and that’s what my book about wetiko is about.
Rick: I just want to interject and remind viewers that if you’re viewing the live interview and wish to submit a question, you can do that on the Upcoming Interviews page at batgap.com, there’s a form at the bottom. I was listening in the last couple days to an interview by Krista Tippett with Cory Booker, you know, the senator from New Jersey, a fascinating interview, I recommend that people listen to it. He was saying that we kind of live in Shiva times, and Shiva is said to be the destroyer in Hinduism, you know. There’s a lot of that, sort of a lot of destruction apparently taking place, but you know, Shiva is not portrayed as a bad guy in Hinduism, he’s portrayed as one of the necessary three main influences. There’s Vishnu, the creator, Brahma, the maintainer, and Shiva, the destroyer, and the two, the three kind of change their balance as time goes on, and sometimes destruction becomes predominant, but it does so as a precursor to a new unfolding of a higher level of society or whatever is coming forth.
Paul: Right, and I would, I mean, that’s really interesting to me, because of course, as a creative person, and any creative person, they know this, there’s such a fine line between the creative and the destructive, and it’s almost like, you know, we tap into this deeper transpersonal energy, and if we don’t channel it in a constructive way, then it gets enacted, you know, unconsciously in this destructive way, but I just want to contemplate what you just said about Shiva and the destroyer, because what I point out in my book is that, yeah, we’re destroying ourselves, there’s no question about that, and yet, I go, encoded in that process of self-destruction, it’s the way that we’re teaching ourselves how to not destroy ourselves, and I point out that we clearly haven’t gotten how to not destroy ourselves, or we wouldn’t be destroying ourselves, so the actual act of destruction, it’s the medium through which we’re actually helping ourselves to wake up, but if we don’t get the message that’s encoded in or acting out our self-destruction, then we’re really going to destroy the biosphere and ourselves.
Rick: Yeah, and I mean, there are plenty of individuals who destroy themselves, or are on the path of self-destruction, and at a certain point turn it around. I was one, but obviously, as the headlines are constantly telling us, there are many who don’t turn it around, they die of an opioid overdose or whatever, and so collectively, societally, you know, it’s not necessarily a done deal that we’re going to sort of turn it around, and some people are quite pessimistic about it, but there’s definitely a lot of things that probably shouldn’t continue to exist if we’re going to have a more enlightened society and perhaps those are self-destructing. I don’t know, what are your reflections on that?
Paul: Yeah, well, I mean, it feeds into the quantum physics thing, because the quantum physics book and the idea of like wetiko, they’re really interrelated, and I talk about wetiko in the quantum physics book, quantum physics points out, you know, we’ve been entrained to think certain things are possible and then other things are impossible, and quantum physics has enlarged the scope of what is possible to the point where, you know, like because as an example, so many of us, it’s so easy to fall into despair and pessimism about, “Oh my God, you know, we’re destroying ourselves, things are just getting worse, you know, there’s no hope,” and then we assume the point of view of pessimism, and I would point out, well, if you have the pessimistic point of view, then you’re actually going to, you know, you’re going to invoke a universe that’s going to confirm that point of view, which you know, makes you more entrenched in your pessimistic point of view, so then you’re actually complicit in the very destruction that you are reacting to is seemingly outside of yourself, but what quantum physics is pointing at is that, for example, it might be, you know, really unlikely that our species is actually going to have a collective awakening, but it’s possible, and in quantum physics, it’s saying as long as it’s possible, that means that it can actually happen in this reality, so don’t close off that possibility, and when you actually just assume that it’s actually in the realm of possibility, that a sufficient number of humanity is going to awaken, that will catalyze this global awakening, that instead of being complicit with the evil that’s playing out, you then become an agent of the light, you then make it that much more probable that that is what’s going to happen, and that’s the power of our dreaming, of, you know, it’s the incredible, invisible, untapped power that we have in our minds to actually help to invoke the very universe that we’re inhabiting.
Rick: Yeah, well I think it is happening, as evidenced by my show, for instance, and others like it, where every week I interview another person who’s having some kind of spiritual awakening or has had one or something.
Paul: Right, that’s a perfect example.
Rick: Yeah, I don’t think I could have done this in the 1950s, even if we’d had the internet and Skype, those people weren’t there to find so much.
Paul: Exactly, exactly. I just want to say that point is such a great point because it’s so easy to focus on all the negativity, but yet people I know who are really awakening in a genuine way, they’re all optimistic, and one of the main reasons is exactly what you just pointed at, because they’ll say, “Yeah, there are so many people around the planet who are having a spiritual awakening, it’s almost like a compensation for the darkness.” Think about the unconscious. When we go to sleep at night, if we’re having this one-sided point of view, the unconscious will compensate and show us the other point of view to bring us more in balance. It’s not almost as if it is, like that there’s such darkness in the world that the compensation is that so many individual people are actually having spontaneous awakenings. The point for me is, which is what’s happening in this show, for example, what if we actually connect with each other who are awakening, and then we can conspire to co-inspire. We can help each other to deepen the collective awakening as we put our collective genius and activate our collective genius in a way where we can actually help each other to wake up.
Rick: Yeah. Now whether this collective awakening that we’re seeing gets the upper hand or not remains to be seen, because we’re really talking about a tiny fraction of the world’s population. Go ahead.
Paul: I was going to say, that’s true, but one way to think about it that I think is a beautiful image, it’s like if you have a glass of water with, like, if you add, like, oh, here’s a grain of sugar. You add grain after grain of sugar and it’ll just dissolve into the water up until it reaches the saturation point. Then you add one more grain of sugar and a crystal will spontaneously manifest. In the same way, any of us in this moment having the recognition of the dreamlike nature, seeing our shadow, connecting with compassion could be that grain of sugar that precipitates a global awakening in the entire universe because we’re not separate from the field. This is a non-local field that transcends third dimensional space and time. Any one of us having any sort of realization could be, or actually is, that grain of sugar that’s getting deposited into the collective unconscious of our species in a way that could really, like I was saying, could precipitate this worldwide global awakening.
Rick: Yeah, and in physical phenomenon there’s the phrase “phase transition,” and a simple, obvious example is the boiling of water. So you can have water at 99 degrees centigrade and it doesn’t look like much is happening. One more degree and it starts to boil. All of a sudden you didn’t quite see that coming. And there are also examples, I’ve used these on the show many times, such as 1% of the heart cells being pacemaker cells, which synchronize and regulate the beating of the entire heart, or in a laser, the square root of 1% of the photons, if they begin to align with one another, the rest of the photons entrain with them and the whole thing becomes as if one coherent beam, a laser. So we’re not necessarily talking about getting 75% of the population or something involved in this sort of thing. The potency, I think, of people who are awakening is significant, such that even a small percentage of them will have an effect in proportion with their numbers.
Paul: Yeah, it’s like the 100th monkey phenomenon, or the Bible, they talk about 144,000 in the book of Revelations, and it’s the same idea that if you’re making a loaf of bread, you have to have sufficient, whatever, the bread has to leaven, there has to be enough of the yeast, but it doesn’t have to be 100% yeast, just a certain critical amount, and then it leavens and we’re the bread that’s leavening in a way.
Rick: Or yogurt, you put a little yogurt starter in there, the whole thing becomes yogurt, so many examples. Okay, so regarding your book, and I think as we begin to talk about the book, we will also probably loop back and talk more about wetiko and all kinds of other things, but first of all I was pleased to see that my friend Menas Kafatos endorsed it. He’s a physicist who’s been on BatGap a couple of times, and the reason I was pleased with that is that yesterday I was listening to a recording of a conference that took place at Caltech a few years ago with Deepak Chopra, Michael Shermer, Sam Harris, mediated by Dan Harris of ABC News, and they pretty much excoriated Deepak for his use of quantum physics to explain consciousness and his correlation of the two. They were saying things such as, “Quantum mechanics has to do with extremely microscopic levels of creation, and for you to take all these quantum mechanical terms and try to suggest that there’s some societal significance to it is just woo-woo, and you’re not being scientific and you’re not qualified to talk this way.” And Deepak did his best to defend himself, but he was a little bit outnumbered.
Paul: Right, right. Sure, sure. No that’s interesting to me because I should make clear, I’m not a physicist, and so even when I give my talks on the book I just contemplate how amazing and how crazy it is that here I’ve written a book on quantum physics and I’m going around speaking about quantum physics and I’m not a physicist, and that’s really interesting. But what I point out is that all of the founding fathers of quantum physics, like for example with Einstein, Albert Einstein, he has a quote where he says, “Quantum physics,” so he was one of the discoverers of quantum physics, but it so freaked him out what he was pointing out that he couldn’t embrace it. And so he actually said that quantum physics is so uncommonly important that it should be everyone’s concern. And then other physicists are saying it’s an incredible pity that most of humanity isn’t awake to the revelations emerging from quantum physics. The point is that there is something that’s being shown to us through the revelations emerging from quantum physics that are a game changer, that are so profoundly important. The other day I was on a TV interview and I spontaneously said this, and when I watched the video I was like, “Wow, I can’t believe I said that,” but it’s true. What I said is the revelations emerging from physics are the solution to the world crisis, and that’s what my book is about. So what I’m pointing at is what is the meaning, because we’ve developed this incredible technology that’s changed the course of history, it’s changed our world through quantum physics, but the real founding fathers and the cutting edge quantum physicists are saying that’s the low-hanging fruit. That’s only less than 1% of the benefit, the technologies, of what quantum physics is showing us. It’s showing us something about who we are. It’s showing us something about our thinking process, about the place of consciousness in our world, and it’s literally invoking this new epoch in human history. That’s how major it is. If I were there during that Deepak Chopra interview, I would have been totally trying my best to support Deepak Chopra’s point of view.
Rick: Yeah, it’s funny, there was a physicist in the audience whom you quote in your book in other ways, named Leonard Mladinow, and he co-wrote a book with Stephen Hawking, and so he got up on the mic and said, “Deepak, you know, I’d like to give you some lessons in quantum mechanics,” and so apparently Deepak took him up on it because the two of them ended up writing a book called War of the Worldviews – Science vs. Spirituality. And in it, the scientific worldview is represented by Leonard Mladinow and the spiritual worldview by Deepak. And Mladinow suggests that the universe operates according to laws of physics while acknowledging that science does not address why the laws exist or how they arise, whereas Deepak says that the laws of nature as well as mathematics share the same source as human consciousness. So I guess to summarize, Deepak is saying, and many others, that consciousness is fundamental and the universe is an emergent quality or expression of consciousness, whereas the opposite view is taken by mainstream science still, which is that material creation is predominant and consciousness is a byproduct of the brain. But as you’re suggesting, if scientists as a whole really understood quantum mechanics, I think that they would have to adopt Deepak’s point of view, or at least some of it.
Paul: Yeah, no, totally. And the thing is, I think of some of the greatest quantum physicists of the last century, there is one who says the only law in physics is that there is no law, that any law you have is changeable, is mutable. And so, you see, the thing about the typical physicists, they go to physics graduate school, they get their PhD, but they’re not trained to how do they deal with, because it’s such a taboo thing in academic corporate physics to talk about what about consciousness. As soon as you mention where consciousness, so consciousness, one of the ways of understanding quantum physics is that consciousness intruded itself into the physics lab, and this isn’t what the typical physicists signed up for. They don’t know how to deal with it. So if you mention that, the idea of consciousness, the typical response is “shut up and calculate.” That’s the real famous phrase. The whole point is that there is an edge, there is a taboo against inquiring into — wait a second, it’s clearly a factor in the equation of the universe, i.e. consciousness, what to do about it. What I’m interested in, and I talk about this in the book, is that physicists have this incredible unconscious reaction against the implication of their own theory, that in other words consciousness is part of the universe, and I’m interested in — oh, what is the physics of that? That internal psychological reaction, because it’s a way into understanding that psyche and soma and the world and physical matter and spirit are actually not separate. That’s what my book is about, that when you go down that rabbit hole far enough, in a particular way, with open eyes, really trying to integrate all of the data, you invariably get to the point where you discover that there’s no � that the opposites � this is an alchemy, the coincidentia positorum � that the opposites of spirit and matter are indistinguishable, that you actually can’t separate them, and that actually separating something that is inseparable in its nature is the very source of all the world crises that we’re struggling with.
Rick: Yeah, I want to go into that more with you. You’ve probably read Thomas Kuhn’s The History of Scientific Revolution. Yeah, the whole paradigm shift thing. So a paradigm is a worldview and people tend to get calcified in a certain worldview that works for them, that they’ve been trained in, that their livelihood depends on, and so on, and they’re resistant to changing that worldview because it takes a lot of reshuffling to do so. And so the thing that usually changes worldviews is anomalies, to use Kuhn’s term, and things that just don’t fit the paradigm, and the anomalies sort of have to gain a certain critical mass before the paradigm can shift. So how do you see, or what do you see as the stage of that shift right now? To what extent are the anomalies really impinging upon the physics community or scientific community in general? Yeah, you got the question.
Paul: Yeah, well the thing, right, and I would just want to contextualize that. The thing about quantum physics, it didn’t emerge out of a void. It emerged out of like Newtonian physics, just as classical pre-quantum physics. And the way of characterizing classical physics is that they actually thought that this universe objectively existed independently of the observer, and that we were just passive observers who were trying to figure out this objective world. And what quantum physics has absolutely indisputably proven is that there is no such thing as an objective world. To talk about an objective world separate from the observer is nonsense. That they’ve actually proven again and again and again that the act of observing actually influences the world observed, that the observer, the thing observed, and the act of observation are interconnected, inseparable parts of one quantum system, that you can’t separate that out. Now that’s the portal. In my book, I really contemplate that because that’s the portal to really understanding in a way what quantum physics is showing us. Because in essence, what that’s showing us, quantum physics has proven indisputably that this is a dream. And so I’m an outsider, I’m not a physicist. The typical physicist isn’t trained to interpret their data in this particular way. Well maybe that’s where I’m coming in. I’m saying, look, in a dream, as you’re observing the dreamscape, the dreamscape is nothing other than a reflection of the mind that you’re observing with. So if you change your perspective in a dream, the dream has no choice but to spontaneously shape shift and reflect back your change in viewpoint. And then you have all the seeming evidence to confirm the objective truth of your viewpoint, which makes you even more entrenched in your viewpoint. And the more entrenched you are, the more the dream is going to reflect back the objective truth. So basically what I’m describing, we have this genius for co-creating reality with this universe and it’s getting turned against us in a way that’s destroying us because we aren’t awake to it. Quantum physics, that’s what it’s pointing at. That’s what I mean when I say the revelations that are emerging from quantum physics are the solution to the world crisis. That’s what I mean. And what I just described, that’s wetiko. The wetiko virus, it’s a mind virus. It works through the projective tendencies of the mind in such a way that we become entranced by our projections onto the waking inkblot, thinking that these projections objectively exist. We then react to them, become conditioned by them, and we’ve actually then programmed or we’ve hypnotized ourselves and it’s all the source of that is our own mind. That’s wetiko and that totally has to do with the revelations emerging from quantum physics.
Rick: Okay, so let’s take an example. So you’re saying that quantum physics is a solution to world crisis and we know that quantum physics is already responsible for a lot of technologies. I mean, the computers we’re using right now wouldn’t be possible without certain discoveries in quantum physics and a number of other technological things. But to me, to my mind, the most critical problem in the world is climate change and not everyone accepts that, in part because it’s a slow-moving problem, although it seems to be speeding up more and more. But to take a practical example, how would you say that quantum physics can help address that problem? Right, sure. Now, the thing about quantum physics, it’s pointing out that we as observers actually influence the universe we’re observing, so we’re participants in this universe. We’re not separate from the universe, and that is to say that the act of observation is creative. So the people who are saying, “Oh, climate change, it’s a Chinese hoax,” they’re denying it. They’re in a sense denying the fact that we’re actually participating in this very universe that we’re experiencing. And quantum physics is saying, “No, no, we’re active participants. We’re actually invoking the universe and we’re having an effect on the way we interact with the universe.” And climate change is a perfect example of that because by our actions in the world, we’re actually investing it in feeding and supporting our own demise through one example being climate change.
Rick: But you don’t need quantum physics to conclude that. I mean, you just look at carbon emissions and things.
Paul: Yeah, yeah, no, totally. But carbon emissions, and that’s the practical aspect in that. There’s no debating that if you’re interested in truth. The thing that I’m pointing at is that quantum physics is sort of like the underlying, you know, the foundation of how we’re actually creating our experience of ourselves and are creating our experience of the world. And when you actually add consciousness to that, then all of a sudden, instead of just feeling like a victim or a passive observer, you actually discover, “Wait a second. I have this incredible creative power to create my experience of the world and to create my experience of myself.” And that’s the tap in to our God-given power where we can actually make a difference. And that’s evolutionary. When any one of us taps into that, but particularly when we connect with other people and we get in phase with other people who are also tapping into that creative power that we have, that’s the point where we can really, in connecting with each other, we can change the waking dream, and that’s evolution, and that’s what my book is about.
Rick: Okay, so perhaps a way of restating what you just said is, whatever we see as the world, the condition of the world, it’s a manifestation or expression or reflection of the subjective state of the majority of people living in the world. It’s just sort of the dream they’re creating, so to speak.
Paul: Right, and that’s what I meant when I said when I had my awakening in 1981 that I was having the recognition that we’re having a collective dream, that we’re all dreaming up like with Donald Trump, whether you think he’s great or horrible, we’re all dreaming him up as a dream character, as an embodied reflection of a certain part of ourselves. With climate change, with nuclear weapons, with all of it, that that’s what all of the wisdom traditions are saying, that in the macrocosm, in the external, that’s a reflection of the internal, and to see that, that’s to all of a sudden, think about if you’re in a night dream and you don’t know that you’re dreaming, you’re reacting to the forms of the dream as if they’re other and separate and solid and objective, but when you have the recognition of the nature of your situation in that night dream, i.e., oh, I’m dreaming, all of this is my own energy, all of a sudden you have the recognition, oh, what I’m experiencing out here in the dream is actually reflecting what’s going on inside of my mind, then you’re not going to be reacting to it in the same way when you didn’t recognize that. Yeah, so it follows from what you just said, that if we can change the inner state then the outer state will naturally change, and the outer condition, and if we try to change the outer condition without changing the inner state, we’re bound to fail.
Paul: Right, but there’s a shadow part there, because I know a lot of spiritual people who are so freaked out by what’s happening in the body politic of the world that they’re just going, “Oh, let me just do my prayers and my mantras and my meditation and everything will be great,” and that’s true on one level, but it freaks me out, because what about actually stepping into the dream, into the universe, into the world, and actually in whatever form being an activist, even if it means maybe your form of activism is to be a hermit and to do your prayers, but the idea being that they’re not exclusive, the idea of doing your inner work and being active in the body politic of the world, they actually complement each other and they in a way are like these cross-pollinators of each other, so it’s important not to marginalize one or the other.
Rick: Yeah, there was an interesting story about Ramana Maharshi where Papaji was with him, if you know who Papaji was, Poonjaji, and India and Pakistan were dividing and it was a very dangerous situation, a lot of people were killed, and Papaji’s family was in Pakistan and had to get to India, and Ramana said to him, “Well, you should go, help him get out of there,” and Papaji said, “Well, isn’t the world just an illusion, it’s only a dream, why should I bother?” And I forget how Ramana phrased it, but it was basically like, “Get out there in the dream and help the dream characters, not forgetting that you yourself are a dream character, but you can’t just brush the whole thing off as a dream and just sit here and marinate in my presence, you have to take action in this case.”
Paul: Yeah, yeah, and that’s the idea in, like I do Tibetan Buddhist practice, and they’ll talk about these different dimensions of reality. There’s the relative level and the absolute level, and the absolute level, we’re all one, it’s all a dream, everything’s perfect, and from the relative level, things are sub-optimal beyond belief, and on that level there is suffering and problems and separation, and they point out that those two levels, the relative and the absolute, interpenetrate, that you can’t just, you know, because I know spiritual people who hear the absolute teachings and they immediately identify, everything’s perfect, we’re all one, it’s all a dream, and they’re just marginalizing the relative. The idea is you have to honor both.
Rick: Yeah, absolutely, and there’s a lot of talk in Buddhism, of course, of compassion and taking compassion and action. I heard a story of a guy who was in India and he got an infection on his leg and he was declining medical treatment, and he kept saying, “Well, it’s an illusion, no biggie,” and to make a long story short, it got to the point where he almost lost his leg and his life before he finally realized that this was an illusion that needed attending to on its own level in order to, you know …
Paul: Yeah, no, totally. And the thing I just want to go back to with the wetiko idea, because it’s important how it ties into quantum physics and it ties into everything, in the sense that we’re in the middle, like the thing about wetiko, it’s a collective psychosis, and we’re in the middle of a collective psychosis, and that’s one of the crazy things is that very few people are even talking about that our species is in the middle of this psychic epidemic, and you can call it wetiko or whatever, but what wetiko does, how it works is through the unconscious and through the part of us that has a blind spot, and it operates through the projective tendencies of the mind in such a way that we hypnotize ourselves. And so wetiko is a form of being blind, it’s a psychic blindness that actually believes it’s being sighted. And so the point is that wetiko is a quantum phenomena in that encoded in the disease that can destroy our species. And keep in mind, in the ultimate sense, there’s no such thing as wetiko, it doesn’t even exist, it has no objective independent existence, so what I don’t want to do is create any fear for people when they hear me talk about this, and yet it doesn’t exist and it could destroy our species at the same time. And that’s pointing at the incredible unconscious, untapped, invisible power we have in our own selves to actually call forth this universe. And so by being a quantum phenomena, wetiko, what I mean by that is that superposed in wetiko, it’s the greatest source of evil and it’s the greatest blessing and medicine that can help us to wake up and to evolve. And how is it going to manifest? It depends how we can dream it, how do we observe it. Same thing like in quantum physics with light. Well what is the nature of light? Sometimes it manifests as a wave, sometimes as a particle depending on how we observe it. Well that’s the observer effect, that’s what I’m pointing at in quantum physics, that we have this incredible power to actually influence this universe by the way we observe, by the way we interpret, by the way we place meaning on the waking inkblot of our world.
Rick: Yeah, I’m sure you’re familiar with the term “maya.”
Paul: Yeah, I talk about it in the book, yeah.
Rick: And the actual etymology of the word is the two “ma” and “ya” means “which not,” so maya is “that which is not.” And so you reminded me of that when you said that wetiko doesn’t actually exist and yet it’s very powerful. So I mean, there is actually no snake, it’s only a rope, but we react to the rope if we don’t see through the maya of it.
Paul: Right, and the thing about the maya is like, now think about quantum physics. If one person or if enough, if seven and a half billion people think, have the perspective of maya, that this world is objective and independent of us, well then this world, being like a dream, will manifest as if it’s objective. It will give us all the evidence to confirm our viewpoint that it is objective, so then we, like I was saying before, become even more fixed in our viewpoint of seeing the world separate from ourselves as being objective, and then of course we’re actually feeding into the world manifesting as if it’s objective. The point being that we then, by the power of our own mind, created ourselves to be imprisoned. And so what I’m trying to point out is that whether it’s with the idea of wetiko or dreaming or quantum physics, I’m trying to shed light on that process that, wait a second, we have this incredible power through the way we perceive that actually can really change, can really make a difference in the world, not in a woo-woo, new-agey way that’s just fluffy and cotton candy, but this is what the implications of quantum physics are really pointing at. And I point out in my book, this is a game changer. This is the good news of the Bible, it’s like an analog to the Buddha becoming enlightened, but this is through the medium of science, it’s the Holy Grail, it’s the Philosopher’s Stone, on and on and on, but it means nothing at all. If one person has the realization of it, so what? But if as more and more of us are able to share the realizations that are emerging from quantum physics and really embody it, that’s where all of a sudden the blessing aspect of this discovery enlarges and amplifies and becomes incredibly potent to the point that we can literally change the dream we’re having. And that’s what I continually, in a creative way, through my imagination, just point at again and again.
Rick: Yeah, and I think it’s really cool that there was a point in your book which I just read, I wonder if I could find it really quick. But basically the point was that quantum physics, it was talking about how quantum physics is instrumental in bringing about a spiritual revolution or spiritual awakening in the world, and it would have to be something from science that could do that, because science is by far the biggest gorilla in the room, you know, it’s the most influential thing in the world. And so, you know where I’m going with this?
Paul: Yeah, yeah.
Rick: Go ahead and elaborate on that point.
Paul: Well the thing about science, science is the wisdom tradition of the West, and I’m not a scientist, and I’m way more just in my soul an artist and a dreamer, and I do meditation and all that. So from that point of view it’s crazy that I’ve written a book about science.
Rick: You did a good job at it, actually.
Paul: Yeah, thanks. But it makes sense in a certain way, because what science, what the real cutting edge quantum physicists are pointing at is that the real benefit of cutting edge science now isn’t necessarily going to be technological, but it’s going to be in the realm of ideas. It’s going to actually, because, okay, here’s the one way of really getting to where it becomes a spiritual path, in that quantum physics is proving that there’s no such thing as an objective world, okay? When you actually really get that, and I’m not just talking intellectually, but really more and more deep in your integration, your experience of, oh wow, there’s nothing out there that my act of observing is actually invoking the universe that I’m observing in one quantum whole system. Well, to really integrate that and take that in, then what happens to the subject? What happens to you as a subject if there’s no object to be in relationship to? All of a sudden, your idea of yourself as a reference point in time, as this can encapsulate the ego, has to revision itself, because if there’s no object, if there’s no objective universe, what happens to you as a subject of center of operations? All of a sudden, that comes into deep question. That’s where, when you really contemplate the insights that are emerging from quantum physics, it necessarily becomes a spiritual path, because it brings into question, “Who are we?” which is what the quantum physicists are saying that’s ultimately the most fundamental question in science, is “Who are we?”
Rick: Yeah, and incidentally, I should say that every single page of your book has at least several quotes from reputable quantum physicists, such as John Wheeler and Niels Bohr and others. So this is not just Paul Levy saying this stuff, I mean, you just put it all together very nicely and build a strong case based upon the testimony of people who really knew what they were talking about.
Paul: Yeah, no, totally, it’s not just me talking, I just feel like, “No, this has nothing to do with me, I’m just the interpreter,” and here’s John Wheeler, who is colleague of Einstein and of Bohr, and he was the one who really brought in, “Oh my God, the act of observer participancy that we’re actually, by the act of observing, invoking the universe observed.” So what I’m pointing at, I’m just standing on the shoulders of these giants, and I’m just, because of maybe not being a physicist and being an outsider in my experience in my own awakening, I’m able to actually interpret what they’re actually, because the thing about what they discovered in quantum physics 100 years ago is so radical that when you have such, to say it’s radical is an understatement, it’s beyond radical. It’s something they couldn’t even have imagined what they stumbled onto, but when you make a discovery like that, it typically takes a century or two to even begin to unpack what is the meaning of this, and that’s, it’s been 100 years, and we’re first beginning to unpack and to decode what is the meaning, the deeper meaning of what we’ve discovered in this quantum physics, because keep in mind, quantum physics, there’s one thing that’s not in debate that every quantum physicist, that they all say, and that is, this is the greatest discovery ever in all of human history in the realm of science. That’s not up for debate, they all agree with that, it’s also, it’s never been proven even the slightest bit to have any inaccuracy in any way, so here it is, the greatest discovery in all of human history in the realm of science, and it’s so, me, a lot of other people, not just me, we’re trying to understand, because I’ve never come across a field where all of the experts, they all disagree on what is the meaning of their theory, and that’s actually empowering because then it makes me feel, oh, well if they can’t agree, what about if I just sort of contemplate it as just a curious person, because here, the quantum physicists are saying, this universe, it seems like this classical universe, where there’s linear causality and all that, but all the quantum physicists are saying, this is a quantum universe through and through, that the quantum dimension pervades both the microcosm and the macrocosm, that we ourselves are living quantum entities, and that’s such a radical statement, but that’s what quantum physicists are actually, that’s what they’ve discovered, and I’m saying, wow, I’m just a curious person, what is the meaning of that, how does that affect my life, and they’re actually saying, this affects your life hugely, this is like everything to do with our everyday, day-to-day lives, and that’s why in the book, I have this huge chapter on how quantum physics is actually informing our relationships and our everyday lives.
Rick: Yeah, that was part of the thing that Deepak was going through with Sam Harris and Michael Shermer, they were saying, well yeah, the quantum theory has to do with the world of the very small, it has no pertinence to our everyday lives, but I was thinking of a metaphor …
Paul: Oh, that’s so wrong.
Rick: I know, I was thinking of a counter-argument to that, which would perhaps be, let’s say you had a statue that was made of marbles that were glued together and it looked like a big statue and you could see it from a hundred yards away, oh, this really cool statue, you might say, that has nothing to do with marbles, it’s this great big statue, but if you got up close and started looking at it, you’d say, it’s only marbles, there’s nothing but marbles here.
Paul: Right, right, and I could just … that’s such a great point because, say for example, here in quantum theory, they’ve discovered that these elementary particles, atoms or electrons or whatever, that the properties they have are a function of our observation, that before we observe them, they’re in a state of potentiality with no property per se, the act of observation being creative invokes the particular property. Well then, take it the next step, what if you take off each of the properties to try to find what is the substance that actually the properties adhere to, when you take off the last property, there’s nothing there, there’s just emptiness, and that correlates to the emptiness, in Tibetan Buddhism, they say that’s the nature of the universe and of ourselves, and so one other way of understanding that is that, say for example, if you actually … quantum physics is inquiring into what is the micro substructure of this universe, what is the building block of the physical world, and they try to find the smallest little fundamental building block, and what you discover, what they’ve discovered is that inseparably that gets to the mind, that you can’t … that interfacing with what they have found as the fundamental building block of the physical world is consciousness, so they get to the same place when a meditator goes inside of their own mind and contemplates their internal process of the psyche, they also get to that place of consciousness as primary, so quantum physics in inquiring into the micro structure of the physical world, and Buddhists, or any spiritual tradition who contemplate the inner workings of their own mind, get to the same place, which is consciousness, and so quantum physics is basically saying that you have to factor in consciousness into the equation of this universe, that there’s no getting away from that, and of course a lot of corporatized academic quantum physicists who aren’t trained in that way, they’re having an incredible reaction, “No, no, no, what we need, what’s only real is what’s measurable,” and all this stuff. Well, consciousness is the actual underlying substructure in which measurement happens, so in a way the “Eye can’t see itself,” that’s kind of like the dilemma we’re in. Anyways, I could go on.
Rick: That’s good. I mean, there’s a lot of hubris involved in saying that what’s only real is what’s measurable, because it sort of implies that the universe is dependent upon our ability to measure it for what it does.
Paul: Yeah, am I going to say one other image that just came up? One of the things that in Tibetan Buddhism they’ll use this metaphor, and quantum physics they’ll use the same metaphor. They’ll say, “When you look in the sky and there’s this rainbow, that rainbow doesn’t exist objectively. It’s the confluence of three factors, of light, there’s water, and there’s a mind, there’s consciousness. You have those three factors in a certain relationship, and you all of a sudden experience inside of your mind the image of a rainbow, but the rainbow doesn’t objectively exist if you take out any of those three factors. There’s no objective rainbow, right? Quantum physics is saying that’s the nature of this physical world, it’s like a rainbow. Just what that means is that say if the two of us are outside and we’re looking at a rainbow, we’re not seeing the same rainbow. You’re seeing your own private rainbow. I’m seeing my own private rainbow because we’re at different angles. The point is that there’s no objective world that we’re just seeing through our subjective lens. No, there is no objective world. We’re each experiencing our own image of what seems to be the world, and that image exists inside of our mind. The insanity, the wetiko, the collective psychosis is that we’re going to war with each other, and it’s based on whose rainbow is actually true, when there is no true rainbow. We all have our own private universe.
Rick: Yeah, I want to come back to that point and to the whole point about whether the moon exists if nobody’s looking at it, and the question of if the universe requires observers in order to exist, how did it develop to the point where there were observers, because it obviously started out as a rather inhospitable place. But before I do that, I want to interject a couple of questions that have come in that are kind of more of a personal nature in terms of people’s personal experience, so this will be a little bit of an intermission here and then we’ll come back to these points. So here’s one from Scott in Half Moon Bay, California, asks, “Is seeing how I had been living in a world misinterpreted by my mind to the extent that I was divorced from reality, and then as a result of seeing that, finding myself automatically living from an impulse of light from the heart and finding peace, is that the beginning of awakening?”
Paul: Yeah, I would say that’s the beginning and the end. That sounds great, how can anyone argue with that? And then the thing I want to say is that for a lot of us, it’s traumatizing to see, “Oh my God, I’ve been living in illusion. What I’ve been thinking as being real was actually not what’s happening,” that that can be kind of traumatizing. So for a lot of people, there’s like a counter-incentive to look at that and to realize, “Well, I’ve been kind of fooling myself and out of my mind.” So it’s actually so much to Scott’s credit that he has this strength to see how he’s been fooling himself and to not just dissociate from that, but to really integrate that realization into the heart, that’s really to his credit.
Rick: Good, yeah, I kind of like to think that the word “disillusionment” has a positive connotation, because if we really want to live a real life, we want to come out of illusion and therefore it’s good to become disillusioned. You can’t live your whole life thinking that Santa Claus is real, there’s some value to realizing he isn’t.
Paul: Right, and the thing is, you see, that’s one person’s experience, but imagine collectively in the consensus reality, there’s such an agreement to certain things are true or, “Oh, that this world objectively exists,” and that’s not even necessarily a conscious agreement, but it’s so like is this thought form or this filter that pervades the collective unconscious that when so many other people, they’re all holding a particular viewpoint, that creates like an inertia that maybe makes it a little bit hard for somebody to step out of it when like seven and a half billion people all agree in a certain way. It takes incredible courage and strength. You see, one of the ways, so in the Quantum Physics book I talk about that they discovered a disease in physics, and the disease is wetico, and I actually have a chapter on this, and one way that they articulate the actual, this illness in quantum physics is that we just assumed and took for granted that what our ancestors were saying was true, an example being, “Oh, that this world objectively exists.” That’s just an assumption, an unexamined assumption that we’ve just assumed is correct because we have all the evidence that seemingly proves it, and in quantum physics, they said, “Oh, we found a solution to the disease,” and the solution is not take anybody else’s idea for reality as being true, to actually be an empiricist and do the experiment yourself and see what the nature of your experience is. And of course, that’s exactly what the Buddha said. The Buddha, when he was giving his teachings, he didn’t say, “Oh, just have faith in me, just believe me,” he says, “No, no, no, don’t take my word for it at all, do the experiment yourself to look within your own mind and see if what I’m saying is true,” and that’s exactly what quantum physics is saying.
Rick: Yeah, important point. I always say, you know, somebody might recommend a restaurant and say, “It’s a really great restaurant,” and you know, believing them doesn’t nourish you, you’ve got to go and actually eat the food and get some benefit from it.
Paul: Totally. So here’s another question, this is from Marie, someplace in the USA. She asks, “There are some terms, such as ‘the natural state’ and ‘ordinary mind,’ commonly used to describe awakened realization, that would seem to imply that from the point of view of awakening itself, it really is nothing special, it’s the most obvious ordinary thing or no thing, and it doesn’t necessarily have anything to do at all with extraordinary experiences, expanded states of mind, kundalini arising, etc. Can you please comment?”
Paul: Yeah, I fully agree. And when I was having my awakening, like I shared the one experience with a blind woman, but I had many, many experiences that were way more out of the ordinary, and actually some of them were impossible, the blind woman thing at least was in the realm of possibility, it was an auspicious coincidence of factors. And I would share them with my, then I met my teachers, these great Tibetan lamas and other teachers, and I would share with them these amazing experiences, and they would just be very unimpressed, and they would say, “Well, that’s just phenomena, just don’t focus on that, just try to cultivate more compassion.” And that was really interesting to me. And so yeah, what she says, I fully agree with, in that as I more stabilize my awakening, it’s the natural state, it’s like just who we are, but we don’t have the recognition of it, so then when we have a thought form, a thought form’s like a dream, we absorb it, we identify with it, we react against it, and then we’re all caught without recognizing the context in which all the content, in which all the thought forms arise, the context is the spaciousness, and that’s always there, and that’s always pure, and that’s always accessible, and it’s just a question if we recognize it or not, and then when you recognize it, you just more and more develop the habit of just abiding in and as that, and then all of a sudden, as any thoughts arise, you don’t even have to do anything, they just spontaneously self-liberate. It’s the, you see, in like both quantum physics and Buddhism, they’ll talk about it’s the clinging onto our each moment of, I see this in my, I’ve seen this in myself so profoundly over the years, to the extent that I’m not embracing and not recognizing just that natural spacious awareness that is my nature, if I don’t recognize that, then I’m clinging to whatever thought form or whatever feeling or body sensation or whatever, and that clinging can take the form of identifying with it, pushing it away, whatever, but that clinging itself then is the root of samsara, so with each and every moment, we have the opportunity to have the recognition of the nature and just to relax in and as that, or to not recognize that, and that not recognizing that is the clinging that then creates the seeming problem. So one, I guess one final thing, what the Buddha realized, ’cause he was a physician who really cured his disease of like that clinging, which is the source of the suffering, but he realized was that our situation is not problematic, that here we’re creating our circumstance to appear as if it’s problematic, and then we try to create the very problem whose source is our own mind, and that becomes, that is samsara, that is psychic existence. He saw through that whole process and realized, oh, our situation is not problematic, and when you stabilize that, then you just, then you can in a way just be who you are in a happy, joyful way. Yeah, so to Marie’s question, I would say that there are potential states of experience, either specific experiences or abiding states of realization, that if you were to transition into them suddenly, as you kind of did Paul, could be quite unnerving and quite overwhelming and you wouldn’t be able to function normally, but through integration, which takes time, such states can become normal and you can be running a business and raising a family and doing everything else, living from a perspective which the average person would find extraordinary, but to you it’s just normal because it’s been integrated, it’s been stabilized.
Paul: Yeah, and then it’s like you’re just an instrument. Like with the quantum physics book, I’ll look at it now and I’ll go, “Wow, this is really good, I wonder who the author is?”
Rick: Or where’d that come from it.
Paul: Yeah, yeah, because in a way, yeah, I wrote the book, but it was like I was just an instrument for something to come through, and that’s what I was meaning before about how the real healing has to do with connecting with the creative spirit, and it doesn’t make a difference what medium, but to just actually connect with that part of ourselves that interfaces with the trans-personal or the archetypal dimension in such a way that we become a conduit for stuff to express through us, and for us to express our experience, that’s the very healing. That if we don’t do that, if we don’t connect in whatever way to that, that’s the place where stuff can get really stuck in us and we can develop, we can become sick.
Rick: I get that with that gap too, people say, “Oh, it’s so incredible what you’re doing,” and I think, “Am I doing anything? This thing is just kind of happening.”
Paul: Right, right, totally, totally.
Rick: All right, so I want to shift back to where we were. You know, there’s this argument, I believe it was Rabindranath Tagore and Einstein had an argument about whether or not the moon exists if no one’s looking at it, and perhaps others have had that argument. And you’re talking about the collective dream, and obviously there’s some kind of more universal level to the dream than just our individual perspective, or otherwise the world would be complete anarchy and chaos. I mean, let’s say a stop sign, you know, we see a stop sign, we know what it means, we stop at it, other people see the same stop sign. A bird sees a stop sign and maybe sees it as a place to land, and an ant sees a stop sign through its own perceptual lens and climbs up it or something, maybe builds a nest in some little nook or cranny of it. But that same stop sign is there for all those different forms of life, and if we all go to sleep at night and nobody’s looking at the stop sign, we wake up in the morning and it’s still there. So I mean, does the stop … and let’s say a million years ago, before there were sentient beings there weren’t stop signs, but there were a couple million, a hundred million years ago there were just dinosaurs or whatever. Those dinosaurs perceived the world very, very differently than human beings now perceive and understand it, and yet the world worked perfectly well then. The ferns and whatever else were growing had the same cellular structure that ferns now have and performed photosynthesis, and there were all sorts of laws of nature that were operative that nobody understood because there wasn’t anybody around to understand them, and yet the whole thing unfolded and got us to the point where we are now, where there are people who have enough sophisticated understanding and instrumentation and systems of gaining knowledge that we understand a lot of stuff which dinosaurs couldn’t understand. So you know where I’m going with this question? It seems like the universe has evolved over billions of years without there being anyone around to really understand or appreciate it as we now do, and yet it wasn’t dependent upon anyone understanding or appreciating it in order for it to evolve as it did.
Paul: Right, well there’s a couple of things that come up with what I think is your question, and one of the things that quantum physics really puts into question is, what is the nature of this thing we call
Paul: Time. Time. I think of John Wheeler who says, “Time is in trouble today,” and so this whole idea of time � you see, quantum physics is pointing out that enfolded within the present moment is both the past and the future. We typically think that the past is causing the present to manifest a certain way, and that’s true to a certain degree, but quantum physics is also saying, but the potential futures are actually extending themselves backwards in time through the present moment, and they’re influencing the present moment too. So both the past and the future are enfolded within the present moment of time, and not only that, but in this present moment of time, when we think about the past, that the past doesn’t exist, according to quantum theory, in this concretized, objective way, but the way we actually consider the past in this moment in the present actually determines what we can say about the past. So in some way � so here’s the universe, which was given birth to in however that happened, whether it was the Big Bang or whether it’s eternal, and who knows, I certainly don’t, but the idea being, so here we are, these billions of years later as observers who are observing this universe, and we’re observing backwards in time as we even think about the past, where somehow it’s like completing the circle and giving in a way this tangible reality to what happened then, even though we’ve come in linear time after whatever happened happened by us observing it or thinking about it, we’re in a sense helping to create it to have a certain manifest past. So this one final thing, quantum physics is saying, in this moment when we think of the past, unlike classical physics, which had one particular past, which led up to this moment, quantum physics is saying, “No, it’s polyhistoric. There are multiple pasts that could have been formed and created this very moment, and the act of observing in this moment actually conjures up the particular past. It’s a function of our observation in this very moment.” So the idea being that the idea of past and future � because quantum physics is a timeless theory that it doesn’t even have as part of the equation something happening over time, because there’s only the now moment. There’s only the moment of observation. So it really revisions the whole idea of what actually is this thing we call time.
Rick: Okay, but it’s still, to my mind, it seems to me that there’s a deeper template or reality that is not incumbent upon anyone’s perception in order for it to exist, or that there’s a sort of an intersubjective agreement about so-called outer reality. Let’s say there are probably millions of civilizations which are able to perceive the Andromeda Galaxy throughout our galaxy, and perhaps other nearby galaxies, and they all see it there, and they have no way of communicating with each other or anything else, but there’s this sort of intersubjective agreement that there’s the Andromeda Galaxy, it’s exerting certain gravitational pull on the Milky Way and other nearby galaxies and so on. It just seems to me that it kind of, I can’t wrap my head totally around the notion that subjective experience or perception is entirely responsible for bringing the universe into manifestation.
Paul: No, no, but it’s not, if I can jump in, it’s not entirely responsible because there’s sort of like this interfacing or this co-operation. There’s something out there, seemingly outside of us, what I’m pointing at and what quantum physics is saying is that it just isn’t objective. You can’t think of it as an object separate from us as subject, that there’s some sort of interfacing that we’re doing, and it’s not just entirely dependent on us as that’s part of the equation. So in the same way, people who think, “Oh, well if I think this means a certain thing, so that it means that way,” well, it’s not that simple because here’s nature. It’s going to give its own answer and it’s not fully dependent on the questions you ask or how you’re interpreting or the meaning. That’s only part of the equation. There’s like this collaboration between outside seeming nature and inside of our own mind. And I guess another idea that comes up with your question, what quantum physics is showing is that this universe, every moment, is actually refreshing itself, every moment, in and out of the void, in and out of the implicate order. And it looks like it’s a continuous world because it has a seeming continuity, but quantum physics is saying, “No, no, no, each moment it’s simulating itself with like a slightest little change, but we don’t notice that.” But it’s like every moment is a new, refreshed universe instead of … Because even your struggle, which I go through my own version of that same struggle, Rick, the idea of how do you wrap your mind around that there not being objective universe and that our perception is influencing? Well, that’s an expression of how deeply pervasive the classical point of view. It’s like really insinuated itself so deeply into the collective unconscious because it’s the lens that we view everything. And what quantum physics is saying is by the creative power of the mind, when we view things in a certain way, then that’s actually going to influence whatever we’re observing to manifest that way, which proves to us our point of view, like I was describing, in a feedback loop that’s self-perpetuating, whose source is our own mind. And all that I’m saying is that that’s happening 24/7, every moment with everyone, but most of us are doing it unconsciously in a way that is resulting in the incredible destruction that we’re seeing in the world. And all that I’m saying is what about if we just become awake to what actually we’re all doing and what actually our nature is and what actually our creative power that we’re using 24/7 anyway, but what if we actually do it consciously? That’s in a sense what the whole point of my book is.
Rick: Okay, well let me throw a couple more at you. There may have been a time when everybody thought the world was flat. That didn’t make the world flat, it didn’t matter what people thought. Or this one, let’s say that we somehow get everybody in the world to agree not to look at the moon, does the moon cease to exist? Yet there are still tides, you know, the tides are happening, so the moon is doing something even though nobody is perceiving it or looking at it. So how do you respond to those kinds of objections?
Paul: Yeah, no, and I appreciate those objections. And you know, in a way I’m an empiricist just in my own life in that, like I was saying before, I don’t take people’s words for it. And all I know is that if I look at the moon and I look away, and then I look at the moon again, it appears to me as if it’s been there the whole time, even when I wasn’t looking. That’s the data, that it certainly seems as if it’s really there. And I’m not just assuming as an element of faith going, “Oh no, it’s really not there.” I mean, I’m still deepening my inquiry into it. So I guess, I’m not even sure how to answer your question, but I appreciate, I mean, you’re actually giving voice to like a profound inquiry into really taking seriously what quantum physics is saying and trying to say, “Well, what about this and what about that?” And I’m just not at the point of being able to like help you in that way, but I’m right there with you doing my own inquiry in that. But that’s the point to really, with intelligence, to inquire into and to try to understand what is this showing us? And I’m still a work in progress. I’m not saying, “Oh, I have any answers.” As a matter of fact, one of the most interesting things in my study of quantum physics is all these physicists are saying what’s way more important than finding the right answer is asking the right question, and that’s really interesting to me.
Rick: Yeah, I think one thing that might help to resolve it a little bit is that when we get right down to it, there is only just one thing, so to speak. It’s not a thing, but it’s all one substance, as it were, consciousness. And we are that, the moon is that, as the Upanishads say, “That thou art, I am that, thou art that, all this is that,” all that kind of statement. And so it’s sort of erroneous to think of individual perspectives, because ultimately we’re all just kind of like lenses through which the same light is shining, apertures, lights.
Paul: Right, and if I could just say something, because that ties into the wetiko idea, because one of the things about wetiko � so it’s this psychic blindness, it’s a virus of the mind that influences our perceptions and how we place meaning on reality � and one of the things it feeds off of, or the primary thing it feeds off of, is fear and polarization and separation. So as an example, if I see whatever politician, and if I see, “Oh, they’re really evil or bad,” or, “Oh, they have wetiko,” and if I think that they have wetiko and I don’t, then that perspective is an expression that I’ve fallen under the spell of wetiko by otherizing them. So the idea is, to the extent that we see other and separation, that is to be feeding wetiko, and that will just elaborate itself over all the dimensions of our experience into the evil that’s playing out in our world. So the point is, going back to what you were saying, is sort of seeing that singularity, seeing that oneness, because quantum physics is saying, “Yeah, there’s no such thing as discrete, independent, intrinsically existent objects or things. There’s actually no thing, there’s nothing, that’s the emptiness out of which everything is emerging, and the emptiness and the forms, like the Heart Sutra says in Buddhism, the form is emptiness, emptiness is form, they’re inseparable,” and actually to see that is to really have that attitude, that’s the coincidence of the opposites that I was talking about in alchemy before, and that’s actually to dissolve wetiko and to begin to see that oneness, that interconnectedness, but that oneness, it embraces the multiplicity. It’s not just like, “Oh, there’s not room for multiplicity,” no, it’s such an all-embracing oneness that it’s a oneness that embraces the fact that on one level there is seeming separation, but to not get entranced by the separation and thinking that that’s the objective reality or that’s the fall under the spell of your own mind.
Rick: Yeah, one metaphor that came to mind as you were speaking is the heart cell might say, “I hate those liver cells, they’re such jerks, you know, and I wish they would die or something,” but really it’s all one body, and so the heart cell is talking about part of itself and yet sort of kind of separating in its own mind.
Paul: And that’s what’s happening in the body politic with the people, the 1% or whoever the people, you know, the multi-billionaires, they’re wanting to just like that heart cell, just imagine if that heart cell said, “Don’t know, I want all of the body’s nutrients just for myself, it’s more important.”
Rick: Yeah, it’ll die.
Paul: Yeah, the whole organism will die and that’s actually what we’re playing out. Yeah, yeah, yeah, and wetiko is a form of, it’s a psychic form of cancer in that it’ll metastasize, it will actually, it’ll take over the executive function of the psyche in such a way that all of the healthy parts of the psyche become in service to the pathogen, to the wetiko pathogen in such a way that we can appear to be normal, but we’re actually feeding the disease. So, one way of thinking about it, it’s like a tapeworm, a psychic tapeworm, like a parasite that gets into our system and when you have a tapeworm, it will secrete chemicals where you’ll crave food that will feed the tapeworm. The tapeworm grows bigger and bigger until it kills the host, which is you, but it doesn’t want to do that too soon or else it’ll suffer the inconvenience of having to find another host. So, that’s another way of describing wetiko and I’m pointing out that wetiko, that is informing, that’s informed science and that’s where, in a way, you see, okay, I’m glad I remembered this, quantum physics is a spiritual treasure. That’s one of the things I point at and in Tibetan Buddhism, there’s a lineage where they have this idea of a spiritual treasure. It’s called Therma and Therma, it’s actually not just a woo-woo fairy tale thing, it’s actually studied by scholars at the great enlightened energy, it would actually plant in the universe these hidden treasures or these teachings or objects that had blessing power and this enlightened energy would discover the people who were destined to bring forth and discover the Therma, the hidden treasure. Centuries later, the person destined to discover it would find the hidden treasure at exactly the right moment when it was needed, when there was a one-sidedness, when there was an unconsciousness in the community and the person would discover the hidden treasure and that would help people to remember and to get back in balance and to wake up. Well, I’m pointing out, now I have no authorization to say, “Oh, this is a Therma, that’s a hidden treasure.” I’m not authorized at all to do that, but what I am authorized to do is just to point out everything I know about Therma and everything I know about quantum physics, from all indications, quantum physics seems to be a modern-day form of a Therma that our species has literally dreamed up into manifestation through the medium of science to help us get more in balance and to awaken the incredible creative power that we have in us that we’ve been unconscious of.
Rick: Yeah, I’m glad you brought that up. That kind of jumped out at me when I was reading your book, the idea that there are � I guess you could say � ideas or facets of knowledge that are inherent in the fundamental nature of the universe that are just awaiting the emergence of someone who is capable of appreciating and understanding and expressing them. And I think that happens in so many different fields. So many great composers have said that they didn’t feel like they composed anything, they just almost took notation of some beautiful symphony that came through. Or people like, I always felt like people like Steven Spielberg or George Lucas or some of these guys, there was something larger than their individual intelligence in the movies they created and the impact that that had on the collective consciousness. It was like an idea which needed to be propagated in collective consciousness, such as The Force. And so this great creation would come larger than just the capabilities of any one man to dream up, because of the oversized influence or impact it has on the whole world. And Einstein, what he came up with in terms of relativity theory, and now quantum mechanics, we could go on and on all day citing examples of ideas whose time had come, but which already had existed in a latent form, awaiting the opportunity to sprout, you know, just like a seed does in the springtime.
Paul: Yeah, totally. Okay, so I’m back, and I have actually what you just said, I have a response to it, if I may.
Rick: Yeah, before you say that, I mean just to tell you one quick thing, there’s a verse in the Rig Veda, which I won’t bother with the Sanskrit, I don’t even know if I can remember all the Sanskrit, but the gist of it is that the impulses of intelligence which structure creation reside in the transcendental akasha, the richo akshare, and that those who know that field, those impulses of intelligence support them, but those who don’t know that field, they can’t do anything for that individual. So anyway, I’ve loosely translated it, but that’s the same concept we’re talking about here. Right, and for me, so what that brings up in me, going back to when I was hospitalized in the psychiatric hospitals, from the psychiatric point of view, it would have been a successful treatment if I would have subscribed to their viewpoint, and just think about the madness of this, and their viewpoint that they wanted me to agree to was that, “Oh, I’m mentally ill and I’ll have this mental illness for the rest of my life and I’ll have to be on medication for the rest of my life,” which would have completely aborted. I never would have found my voice, my work, I wouldn’t have written my books and all that, but I knew that, “No, wait a second, something deeper, something beyond myself is coming through me,” and of course there’s a danger of being inflated and megalomaniacal and thinking, “Oh, I’m something special,” but no, I wasn’t feeling that. I was actually just having the recognition of what you were just pointing out, that there was some sort of deeper, non-local field of intelligence that we’re all potential instruments for, and when we get out of our own way and let our light shine, that yeah, we all have a contribution to make. It has to do with what is our vocation, what is our mission, who are we, what are we here to do, and interestingly, that has to do with, there’s a word, daimon, and the daimon, the guided spirit or the inner voice, and it has to do with finding the genius and finding your calling and hearing the voice and your angel and all those things, but the point being is that if you don’t get in relationship to that daimon, which is a higher dimensional energy that can literally take you over, and then you can become possessed by it, if you don’t honor it and get into a conscious relationship with it, it becomes a demon. So the idea being that we all, and the daimon has to do with the calling, and the calling has to do with a shaman. A shaman, somebody never in a million years, if they were in their right mind, would decide to become a shaman. “Oh, I’m going to shaman graduate school or taking a weekend workshop and I’m getting certified as a shaman,” it doesn’t work that way. You get called by the spirit, by some higher dimension, higher dimensional energy, and if you don’t assent and agree and cooperate, that’s when you can get sick and die. And so one way of understanding my experience and a lot of our experience is that some sort of daimonic energy, this spirit, called me through my suffering, and I was either going to just split off or become possessed by the pathology of it, because with awakening there’s always a combination of pathological elements and healthy elements because it’s our abuse and trauma and wounding that catalyzes the awakening. But the point is to more and more just identify with the healthy part and then let the pathological part just naturally fall away. And so the idea being is that when that daimon, which is the calling of the shaman, of the healer, of the creative artist, you need to really honor that and in a way offer yourself to be an instrument for that. And that’s what I keep on talking about being creative, to let something higher than your own conscious ego come through. That’s going to be healing for you and it’s going to be of benefit for other people.
Rick: Yeah, and I think you have to make efforts to make yourself a fit instrument. It’s not just going to happen necessarily. Everybody says, “I want to know what my purpose is,” and all this stuff, but Jesus said, “Seek ye first the kingdom of heaven and all else shall be added unto thee.” And Lord Krishna in the Gita says, “First transcend the relative field, then established in being perform action.” So there’s always this principle of pulling the arrow back on the bow before trying to shoot it.
Paul: Yeah, yeah, and the idea of, I mean in Tibetan Buddhist practice you’re continually purifying yourselves to be an appropriate container and vessel for the teachings, for the realization to come through. But the interesting thing, that verse you just quoted, “Seek ye first the kingdom and then you’ll get everything,” he didn’t say, “Oh, when you find the kingdom you’ll get everything,” he said, “Seek ye first the kingdom,” and the idea being it’s the seeking itself, it’s the turning our intention towards prioritizing the spiritual point of view of, “Who are we?” That that itself in a sense becomes not just a means to an end, but that itself becomes the end itself. That’s very interesting.
Rick: Yeah, and there’s something in my original question which I don’t think we’ve quite addressed yet, which is that when I was referencing various scientists and musicians and movie makers and so on, who have been conduits for some deeper knowledge to come into the world, it’s just the point that there’s a kind of a treasure trove of possibilities residing in whatever deep level of creation they reside. And speaking in terms of our current situation, I’m quite sure that there are solutions to every problem which faces humanity, in environment, health, and economics, and every other field you could consider, but how do we access those things and how do we become conduits?
Rick: For those solutions?
Paul: One of the things, and there’s a lot of answers or a lot of perspectives to get into the answer for that, but what came up in me is that, so here quantum physics is pointing out consciousness’ primary, this role it’s playing in the universe, in the manifestation and the creation of the universe. And one other way of saying that is that, so the opposites � here’s matter, here’s the physical world, here’s matter and here’s mind � that you begin to realize, “Oh, wow,” similar like when you have a dream and you have lucidity in a dream, “Oh,” when you have that lucid moment, you realize you’re inside of your psyche, that this world is, in a sense, psyche. And so this world, in a sense, is a reflection of what’s going on inside of us. That’s to connect with the deeper, the synchronistic matrix that’s always informing things and that’s to realize the dreamlike nature. When you realize that, the dreamlike nature, that’s also to see the non-local field, that’s to see the interconnectedness, the interdependence. All of a sudden, that’s where the compassion comes in. But when that’s, in a way, the one answer for all of those crises, because the sense that we’re not separate, that we actually depend on each other for our survival, that we can actually help each other, because to the extent that we’re entranced and thinking we exist separate and I just want to get me and mine and all that stuff, that whole, that narcissistic, that self-centered point of view, which is a self-propagating idea, and that’s like to be under the sway of the wetiko idea. But the whole sense of actually seeing the true nature of the situation, which is that there is no separation. It’s not like we have to create that. We just have to recognize that that is the nature of our situation. I would say that’s the fundamental solution, because out of that, then everything changes. It’s kind of like this. It’s kind of like, say you have a big mess and you’re typing on your computer and everything’s coming out wrong. Well, if your fingers are one finger to the right, yeah, it’s going to look like an unbelievable disaster and, oh my God, the solution is going to be so unbelievably challenging and difficult, but the solution is just to move your fingers one key over and then everything just magically resolves. It’s a similar thing to us, that we actually have been entrained to have this mistaken idea of who we are. That’s in a sense what my work in wetiko, with my work with quantum physics, is actually helping to unlock.
Rick: Yeah, one thing I liked in your book is the references, I guess, from Wheeler and others that fundamentally nature is very simple, and the deeper you go, the simpler it gets. And if that is true, then ultimately the solutions to all the problems are not going to be complex. The ultimate core to all solutions is going to be simple. Latch onto that and the complexities will fall into place, like you said with the keyboard shift thing. That which seemed impossibly complex and insoluble and intractable will all of a sudden seem like, “Oh, this makes sense. We can do this.”
Paul: And you see, the thing is, if there’s any one person who does that, who integrates sufficiently to the point where they connect with their nature of the mind or ordinary mind or whatever word you put on it, and they really embody that and have stabilized that realization, and then hanging out with other people who also have that same experience, it’s contagious. In the same way that wetiko is contagious, when you have these insights, it creates a contagious field that gets really potentiated for more synchronistic phenomena to happen, for more of this realization, for more healing to happen. And like a perfect image to express that, say if you’re in a dream at night, and say if you as the dream ego have the realization that you’re dreaming and you have lucidity, okay, that’s one thing, but imagine then if other of your dream characters in the dream also have that realization of, “Oh, wow, we’re having a mass shared dream.” And you come together and hang out and you contemplate, “Oh, wow, what are we discovering?” Well, I would imagine you would say something like, “Wow, we’re discovering that this dream world we’re in, this universe, is actually, it’s nothing other than we’re dreaming it up moment by moment into materialization to manifest the way it is.” And as we more and more deepen our understanding of that, we can get in phase with each other and change the way this dream is happening. Now I’m describing a night dream, but that’s totally applicable to the waking dream, when more and more of us hang out with each other and connect with our true nature and connect with that genius that we have to actually consciously call forth and create reality in a way that’s more in alignment with who we are and we connect with other people. We can activate the collective genius where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts in a way where we can in a real way change the world. Quantum physics is saying that’s within the realm of the possible. And to entertain even that that’s possible is so inspiring for people because one of the deep dangers in our day and age is to fall into despair and pessimism and depression, and then we’re unwittingly feeding the very darkness that we’re experiencing out there. Yeah, when I think about different changes that have taken place in society, such as the ending of slavery or women’s right to vote or gay marriage or any number of things, it’s sort of like it wasn’t top-down really that these things happened. Sure laws were enacted and the Emancipation Proclamation was signed and so on and so forth, but it seems like there was a shift in collective consciousness which then made it possible for politicians to pass the laws.
Paul: Right, and that shift in collective consciousness, that started with the individual. So when you get really down to it, like historically, and you study this stuff, it’s not just like, “Oh yeah, this law really changed things.” No, like you were saying, it’s a function of a change in consciousness, but that change in consciousness started in each individual person. So that’s really, I think, an important point because that’s really pointing to each and every one of us the profound importance of us doing our own inner work, both psychologically and from the spiritual point of view, and that us doing that is non-locally having an effect on the whole field. Yeah, I mean expecting the government to do something that’s going to change the whole society is kind of like expecting to make a forest green by spray-painting it, by flying airplanes over it with green paint. Really each individual tree has to become healthy and then boom, you have a green forest.
Paul: Yeah, yeah, no, that’s absolutely true, and so that’s where, like for example, with the wetiko idea or the quantum physics idea, it’s really pointing at the profound importance of any one of us, however you say it, owning our shadow or seeing the dreamlike nature. And I want to point out the thing with wetiko, it’s a Native American term, but every spiritual tradition has something like that. I mean that’s what makes them this wisdom tradition, is if they have a symbol system pointing at wetiko, because wetiko, being that it works through the blind spot, through the unconscious, it can only operate via the shadow, in other words, as long as it’s not seen. Just like a vampire, when the light comes up, the vampire has no power. The same thing when you see wetiko, how it operates out in the world, through the non-local field, through our reactions to the evil we’re seeing out there, and through our own mind, when you actually add consciousness to how wetiko works, not only does it take away any power it has over us, but we then empower ourselves. So it’s kind of like I’ve had this recurring dream that I’ll be on the lookout for this vampire with a number of people. And actually there was one dream of these, it was the morning two of my teachers were coming to visit from Tibet, and I guess I was all excited and I got woken up by this incredible dream where we’re searching for this vampire that’s amidst us, and I see him and I recognize him, and I think I start saying, “Oh yeah, no, I think we’re all chanting ‘Bela Lugosi, Bela Lugosi,'” you know, the guy who played Dracula. Robert Pattinson, for that matter. And I see the vampire and I try pointing him out to other people in the dream, but no one else can see him. And in a way I was realizing, and that dream was like 20 years ago, and I was realizing, “Oh, that dream is very alive in my psyche and it’s unfolding more and more,” and as I gain fluency and as I gain articulate, or being able to articulate this stuff, I’m more and more able to turn people on to that vampire that I’m seeing, and that vampire is wetiko, and how it’s operating in each one of us. Like to the extent I’m not writing as like, “Oh, there’s this wetiko disease and I’m like a healer and I’m free of it,” no, I’ve been infected with wetiko in every molecule of my body, but yet somehow I’ve had whatever, the strength or something, to in a sense not only not be killed by it, but to more and more transmute it into something positive, and that’s what enabled me to write my books. And that’s like the deeper archetypal template for any of us, that part of like the archetype of the shaman, what does the shaman do? They get in, they take on the illness of the community, of the client, they literally fall ill themselves, but if they’re an accomplished shaman, they’re able to gradually metabolize and assimilate and integrate and transmute that illness into healing, and then non-locally the person, the client, or the community gets healed through the shaman doing that. The point is we’re all shamans in training, every single one of us, and that helps us to recontextualize our subject of experience and take it out of the realm of pathology and understand, “Oh yeah, there’s a deeper spiritual process that we’re all … ” and the shaman, that is the wounded healer. I just want to make that clear.
Rick: Okay, cool. A rather long question came in and Irene spent some time editing it down and she feels like it’s a good one. I haven’t read it yet, but here I go, I’m going to read it to you. This is from Florence, don’t know her location. She asks, “I’m very experienced with lucid dreams and expanded states of awareness. I experience that the only way to change the personal dream is to transcend desires. Without desires and losses, we live in a perceptual experience of now. There is peace of God, well-being, and infinite possibilities when you aren’t attached to an outcome. However, I’m left with no direction once I get here. The outside world has not changed and ego has to engage in order to make choices, or karma creates no better choices. I’m not enlightened enough to change physical reality. How do you know what to do once you get to a detached state? I understand that there is another force that guides and manifests in all sorts of amazing ways, but what do you do if there is no desire or the desires leave no better direction?” Almost done, let me finish. “What do you do with nothing propelling you, such as synchronicity or spontaneous right action, or any one of those magical things? Just sitting in awareness of awareness goes nowhere for me, and this is observing the dream. It’s not creating the dream you want to live, or a better dream. What do you do?”
Paul: Right, yeah, no, I really appreciate that question, and what it brings up for me is my own experience. When I’ll have these lucid dreams, and there are all these sort of degrees of lucidity, there are some dreams where I’ll have some lucidity and still think there’s evil, negative energies, and then I’ll have to deal with that or transmute that in the lucid dream. But then there are these lucid dreams I’ll have where it’ll be kind of full lucidity, and it was the very first of the lucid dreams I had 30-something years ago, where as soon as I had the realization of lucidity, and it was a full realization of lucidity, I mean as much as I could imagine at that point, spontaneously I began chanting “Om Mani Padme Hum,” the mantra of compassion. Now it’s interesting, it was so long ago, this was I think over 35 years ago, that it was before I had even started doing any sort of these mantra practices in Tibetan Buddhism, so I didn’t even really have experience with that mantra. Now that mantra is the mantra of compassion. Now in Buddhism they say that if it’s real awakening, it’s always the combination of two factors, of emptiness and compassion. Now emptiness, that’s the lucidity, that’s to recognize there’s nothing objective, intrinsically independently existing, separate from our own mind, that’s the lucidity, and compassion, well “Om Mani Padme Hum” is the mantra of compassion. So in Buddhism they’ll talk about, and this is also interesting, and this ties in with the compassion piece, that whenever any student starts doing practice, they always cultivate what’s called Bodhicitta, the heart of awakening. And this is like the good altruistic heart of compassion, and that’s the start of when a beginning person starts to do practice, you have to cultivate the Bodhicitta. Then they say when you become fully, totally, and utterly enlightened, what you get is Bodhicitta. So it’s the same thing at the beginning and the end is the Bodhicitta, and the Bodhicitta is that heart of compassion. So the point being is that yeah, if you have this genuine sort of awakening, this lucidity in the night dream, in the waking dream, and you’re not sure, yeah, what do I do, what do I whatever, well the idea being that the energetic expression of that realization, if it’s genuine lucidity, is compassion, is the Bodhicitta. And then how do you express that? Well how does that inform your behavior? That’s up to you. That’s where you need to get creative. But the whole question I really appreciate, but I was flooded with, “Oh, that has to do with Bodhicitta and compassion,” and then I imagine, at least in my imagination, that will inform what there is to do in each and every moment. Yeah, I just want to add in case Florence finds it useful, that in my experience there’s a transition that takes place from feeling that one is an individual and as such one is in control of what happens, to kind of the other pole where one realizes that one is not an individual or is much more than an individual and something else is predominantly in control. There’s a Vedic phrase, “Brahman is the charioteer,” so going from “I am the charioteer” to “Brahman is the charioteer,” Brahman being cosmic intelligence or universal intelligence. And this transition doesn’t happen overnight, it doesn’t happen with a snap of your fingers, it takes time, and as it progresses there can be vacillation and sort of swinging to the ease of having Brahman be the charioteer to the difficulty of holding the reins yourself, and one kind of swings back and forth and that can be very uncomfortable. But as time goes on it eventually shifts and there’s a sort of a fluidity or an effortlessness to life and there’s still going to be individual little things cropping up here and there, but they become much more in the back seat and the cosmic flow of things becomes much more characteristic or predominant in your life. So it’s a matter of culturing this and through whatever practice you find effective and having patience and just kind of keep on keeping on.
Paul: Can I say something? Yes, please. What you said Rick was so great, I just loved it. It made me one association, is because I have so many people who say, “Oh, I have these lucid dreams and then I can control the dream,” and right away I get, “Oh, they’re not really having lucidity if they’re controlling the dream,” because who’s the you who’s controlling the dream? Like it’s really lucid, that’s what you see through, that the you who you’ve been having an identification with, that’s just a model for who you are, that’s not who you are. So what I would point out to them is, “Yeah, it’s not like that you’re able to control the dream, what you’re able to control is yourself.” Yeah, and I would say that if you, the individual, are controlling the dream, whether a night dream or the daydream that we’re all having, then you’re in trouble because the intelligence of the you is extremely small compared to the intelligence governing the universe. So it would be nice if that intelligence were running the show and you were just along for the ride, not isolated from that.
Paul: Totally, and that was why when I was saying before, like with the quantum physics book, when I would look at it I would be like, “Wow, who was the author of this?” Because it literally felt like some sort of intelligence that was way smarter than me was coming through and I was just offering, in a way I was offering myself as a vessel for this information to come through. And coinciding with that, I also had a strange feeling a lot, and the feeling was I could imagine the people who would get to, in the future, would get to be the readers of the book, and I was feeling, and whether this was total hallucination, I’m willing to own that, I was imagining they were literally dreaming me up in the present moment that I was in, to find the words to write into the book that they would want to read 10 years down the road. So that was just an interesting experience that I was having.
Rick: Yeah, you know I kind of got that feeling as I was reading the book, and I’m not finished reading it but I want to, and that is that I thought, “I could never write a book like this, and I don’t know Paul very well, but I don’t think he’s smart enough to write a book like this either.”
Paul: Yeah, certainly not, yeah, yeah, I know, I fully agree.
Rick: It’s like you kind of got inspired and something came through.
Paul: Right, no, that’s exactly what I’ll say, I’ll say stuff like I’ll say to people, because I don’t like tooting my own horn, but I say, “Yeah, like something came through this book, you should look at it.”
Rick: Hey, just out of curiosity, how did Sting, the musician, find out about the book? Because you have a little quote from him, “The quantum revelation is mind-blowing.”
Paul: Yeah, so Sting, I’ve known him over maybe 12 years or 13 years or something like that, and he contacted me, like one day, I’ll never forget, I woke up and there was an email in my inbox from Sting saying, “Hey, I love your work,” on backstage, he was somewhere overseas giving a concert, and I remember that my girlfriend at the time, she thought, “Oh, she was, how do you know it’s really Sting?” And we began corresponding, and then I’ve met him a few times, and he’s a big supporter of my work. He’s endorsed the last three books I’ve written, and we correspond a lot, and everything that I write, he’ll read and all that. And yeah, I just feel really, really fortunate, because I think so highly of him. He’s a super amazing, beautiful, very intelligent guy. Really about Bodhichitta, I just feel like he’s really, in whatever way he can, is here to serve, and I think when he connects with somebody who’s doing work that he thinks is helpful, he’ll do anything he can to support that. So I just feel really fortunate.
Rick: Yeah, and you also have a forward from Gene Houston, whom I’ll be interviewing in a few weeks, so that’s cool. It’s a beautiful forward too. Anyway, I really sound like I’m a big fan of yours here, and I am. I really appreciate what you’ve written here and have appreciated this conversation. And you know, I’m not here to sell people’s books, but it’s a good read if you’re into this kind of thing, which I am, or at least I try to be, like you, a layman who’s not really a scientist, but who finds this topic fascinating.
Paul: Yeah, and the thing I just want to say too, as a layperson, I’m not a physicist, so if I pick up a physics book and there’s equations and math and all that stuff, that’s not my thing. Yeah, and I have one, there’s one mathematical equation in the book, and it’s three plus one equals four. That’s the one equation, and it’s an alchemical maxim that I talk about, so it’s totally for the layperson. And I have a bunch of friends who are not scientists at all, and they’re getting so psycho-activated, because in a way the book is like a psychedelic. I openly talk about this in the sense that if you’re open to this sort of thing, it can really, by psycho-activating it activates the psyche. It really can, like when you take a medicine, it really can expand your awareness. I think, at least I hope, that’s what comes through the book.
Rick: Yeah, well before Paul and I started this interview I was talking about how we might do it, and I was saying, “Well you have these two sections in the book, two major parts, and at the end of each one there’s a summary of key points in that part,” and I thought, “Maybe I’ll just read each key point and then we’ll talk about it.” But what ended up happening is we talked about all kinds of things, just in a more organic way.
Paul: Totally, I just appreciate that.
Rick: Yeah, and I think we probably covered a lot of the things we would have covered if I’d read those things point by point.
Paul: For sure, totally.
Rick: So I hope we’ve given people a taste, and you know, Buddha at the Gas Pump is kind of a smorgasbord, and each week a new dish is brought out, and you know, maybe not all dishes appeal to all people, but what I usually find is that all of the interviews appeal to some people and I think this one will appeal to quite a few because it covers some pretty universal themes and I think some things that are germane to all of us and are possibly critically important to the survival of our species.
Paul: And I just so really appreciate, Rick, you giving me the invitation to come on and talking with me, so thank you.
Rick: Yeah, it’s great fun. So thanks, Paul. So let me just make some wrap-up points. You’ve been listening to an interview with Paul Levy, and probably everyone listening to this realizes this is an ongoing series of interviews and there have been many and there will be many more. If you’d like to check out previous ones, go to batgap.com and look under the past interviews page. If you’d like to be notified of future ones, subscribe to the YouTube channel, that helps. I think there’s two different levels of subscription, you can do it in a certain way that YouTube will definitely notify you when a new thing is posted, but better yet, just go to batgap.com and sign up to be notified by email whenever I post a new interview. I send out an email about once a week and you can always unsubscribe from that if you’d like. And while you’re there, check out the other menus, there’s an audio podcast of this and a bunch of other things you may find interesting if you check out the different menus. So thanks for listening or watching and thank you Paul. Next week I’ll be speaking with a woman who has written a book called “The Spiritual Life of Animals,” which is kind of a different topic than I have covered in any previous interview. And a lot of people are animal lovers, we are, a lot of people who listen to this. And a good friend of mine who always watches BatGap hands her book out like candy. He actually is a horse whisperer, he trained with the guy about whom that movie was made. And so I’m kind of interested to dive into what she has to say and that’s what we’ll do next week. So thanks again and thanks for listening or watching. See you next time.