Time, space, matter and old wisdom

The reduction of the state wave

The most commonly used interpretation of quantum physics is that the state wave describing the behavior of particles is a non-material wave, a wave that, when calculating its (complex) value at a given place x,y,z and time t, renders the probability to find the particle at that place x,y,z and time t. Before measuring, we can only speak of a wave of probabilities, but the measurement destroys the wave abruptly and we find the particle. This is what is commonly known as quantum collaps. Some physicists, such as Sabine Hossenfelder, prefer the term ‘reduction of the state wave’. Personally I think that reduction is a more apt name, and I will explain why.

First of all, I would like to point out that the observation that the particle was found is not a direct observation. It is a statistically grounded conclusion: The probability that the particle was at the measured location at the time t is at best 100%, from which the conclusion is drawn that the particle was actually there. But you can say as well that the probability wave at the time t was reduced to that very precise location. In the latter interpretation, it was still an probablity, so no concrete material object appeared.

Information reduces the state wave

When the state wave passes through a double slit, two sources of synchronous waves originate from the two slits to interfere with each other and exhibit places of maximum – the dotted lines – and minimum intensity. Maximum intensity means maximum probability to find the particle there. Hence the pattern of dark and light bands on the screen.

The latter interpretation corresponds very well to the effect that, proportionally to the amount of information concerning the behavior of the particle that the experiment can deliver, the probability of the state wave is reduced . Also read my blog on quantum decoherence and information, where I discuss, among other things, the Korean experiment that demonstrated this relation. Reduction by information explains very well what happens to the double slit when we have arranged the experiment so that we can get information about the chosen slit. The state wave is then always reduced to a wave passing through only one slit, which destroys the interference – something which requires at least two synchronous waves of the same wavelength running through each other.

As soon as the slits are observed, the state wave is reduced to one slit. The probability to find the particle is now maximal in the middle behind the slit and gradually diminishes to the left and to the right.

The manifestation of the particle on the screen or in the detector can therefore better be understood as a reduction in probability of up to 100% to find it on the screen or in the detector because of available information. We have the information that detector and screen are impermeable objects that in our everyday experience do not allow the particle to pass through, so that it ‘has to end there’. This also explains that transparent objects such as lenses and semi-permeable mirrors do not reduce the quantum wave. Our information – from everyday experience again – is that they are transparent. This explanation – reduction by information – is preferable because of its logical simplicity, and has been confirmed experimentally. What actually reduces the state wave is unknown, but there is clearly a cause-effect relationship.

Matter and time spawn space

As I have already indicated in another blog – Schrödingers stopwatch – it is not only matter that is manifested by observation, but time also, from which automatically follows that this applies equally to space. This follows from the special theory of relativity that merged the fabric of space and time into one whole, space-time. What is space for one observer in rest is experienced as time by another moving observer . Time slows down and space shrinks, both according to the same laws. This flexibility of space-time has also been demonstrated experimentally and indicates that time and space are created by observation.

In the so-called delayed choice experiments, the information about the chosen slit is – controlled by an unpredictable quantum process – either or not irrevocably destroyed, just before the state wave would reach the detector or the screen. Despite the delay, the state wave seems to have gone through one or through both slits depending on the availability of that information. This is best understood as that the way the state wave reached the screen is not a fixed observation until the observer views the result of the experiment. The role of the observer can therefore no longer be ignored. The universe responds in its manifestations to the observer.

That time, space and matter are created by perception is not a recent discovery of western science. Surprisingly it can even be found in writings dating from before the beginning of the century count. A selection ordered from old to recent – courtesy of Lars Sunnanå (not the journalist) who contributed a lot of material to this survey – can be found below:

Bagavad Gita (ca. 500-200 BC)

Sculpture presenting the conversation between Krishna and Arjuna. It is located in Tirumala.

Thus Krishna spoke to Arjuna:

BG 02:16: "That which is not will never be, that which is will never stop being. For the sages these truths are self-evident."
BG 10:30: "From the Daitya’s I am Prahlâda, from what reigns I am the time, from the animals the lion and from the birds I am Garuda"
BG 10:33: "Of the letters I am the first, of the composite words I am the dual word and for sure I am the eternal of time and the Creator [Brahmâ] who sees in all directions."
BG 11:32: "Time I am, the great destroyer of the worlds here engaged in the destruction of all men,  all soldiers who are on both sides, except you alone, will find their end."

Origen of Alexandria (185—254 C.E.)


Origen of Alexandria was one of the most important teachers in the early phase of Christianity. According to him

"is man a microcosm with the Sun, the Moon and all stars within consciousness. So there is an intimate relationship between the whole world and every individual person."
"Understand that within you are herds of cattle and herds of sheep and goats. Understand that even the birds of the air are in you. Don't be surprised when we say that all of this is in you, understand that you yourself are a world of yourself, in miniature, and that you contain both the Sun and the Moon and all the stars in you."

Plato (427-347 B.C.) and Plotinus (204-270 C.E.)

Plotinus (204-270)
Plato (427-347 v.Chr.)

Plotinus puts Plato’s thoughts in writing. The basis of all is the eternal Now. What is Now, is eternal. Eternity is a property of the divine being and utterly fulfilled in itself. The future and the past are not aspects of eternity. The Eternal ‘Now’ is not the same as the everyday ‘now’ which is connected to the present and to the future. It contains all possible worlds as a reality in itself. Plato seems to be making a first hint here of our current hypothesis of multiversa.

In the 2nd century AD, Plotinus wrote that time was created simultaneously with the World Soul, and is an integral part of it. And because every human soul is part of the World Soul, time is in each of us. Time is not something that exists objectively and outside of ourselves, it is subjective and a characteristic of human consciousness. Because time is contained by the human being, space or the physical world will be also, because space is the stage where events in time unfold.

Quote from Plotinus, 3rd Enneade, 7th paper, 13th chapter:

"Is the time within us? Yes, time is in every soul according to the pattern of the World Soul, it is present in every one of us in the same way. For all souls are part of the World Soul."

Hinduism and Buddhism

We find about the same insight in the physical world Eastern traditions as Hinduism and Buddhism. In the Indian Samkhya philosophy they say that the world consists of two basic elements, Purusha and Prakriti. Purusha stands for consciousness, and Prakriti is physical nature. According to the Samkhya philosophy, the world arises from the meeting of Purusha and Prakriti. In these traditions it is common to count six senses: Eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body(sensation), and the objective (or external, ordinary) consciousness. The objective consciousness of man is therefore an instrument that we use to receive sensory impressions of the physical world. This seems – like Descartes’ ideas – duality, matter and consciousness as two fundamental phenomena. However:

In order for creation to unfold there must be (an apparent) duality – like Tao splits into yin and yang.  So also in Indian philosophy: all is unity, but the experience of the world arises from (the apparent) duality of Purusha and Prakriti. Indian philosophy says that on a higher level, all is One. So they don’t consider matter and consciousness as to absolute and fundamental phenomena. David Buckland (Davidya) presents an interesting view on this in one of his posts.

Sri Aurobindo (1872-1950)

The guru Sri Aurobindo wrote in a letter to a friend (quote from Sri Aurobindo’s ‘Letters on yoga’):

"One day you will see that matter of itself is not material. It is not a substance, but a form of consciousness, Guna, a quality of being as perceived by our sensory consciousness"

The Poimandres of Hermes Trismegistus (2nd and 3rd century)

Hermes Trismegistus

The Poimandres – tractate 1 – describes a revelation of the highest God done to a clairvoyant or shaman, who speaks of himself in the first person, but nowhere mentions his name. The Poimandres was probably written in the first century AD.

In the text we find:

"That in you that sees and hears is the Lord's Logos. But Nous in your inner, your highest sense, is God the Father. They are not separated from each other, and the union of the two is life."

In other words: Nous is God the Father, which is a symbolic expression of the source of all creation. There is a spark of the original Nous also in the interior of man, and it is called the “monad“, the “spark of divinity” or “The eye of the Mind”. Logos, in turn, is the entire physical world, including the human body with sensory organs and the associated, objective consciousness that receives and interprets sensory impressions. Nous and Logos meet in man’s interior, and in that way man’s experience of the world is created. It is man’s consciousness that produces the world we experience.

Aurelius Augustinus (354-430)

Oldest image of Augustinus
(6th century), fresco in Saint John Lateran, Rome

Augustine was perhaps the greatest Christian philosopher of Antiquity and certainly the one who exerted the deepest and most lasting influence. He took the reflections of Plotinus concerning time as a starting point and reached the same conclusion. In Augustines ‘Confessions, Book 11, Chapter 20, he writes:

"Consequently, it is not correct to say there are three times: past, present and future. But perhaps it is correct to say that it is three times, a present time of things that have happened, a present time of things happening now, and a present time of things that will happen in the future. For these three are found in the soul, and I find them in no other places: the present of things that have happened are memories, the present of things that are happening are direct experiences, and the present of future things are expectations."

Meister Eckhart (approx. 1260 – 1328)

Cologne City Hall Tower – Meister Eckhart – Johann I (Brabant)

The Christian mystic, theologian and philosopher Meister Eckhart writes in ‘Sermons’:

"The eye with which I see God is the same with which God sees me. My eye and God's eye are one eye, one sight, one knowledge and one love."

All created beings unfold their version of reality, based on the properties belonging to their level of consciousness and their sense organs. Whether you are an anemone, ant, bird, dog, human, deceased, angel or archangel, you have an experience of the world that matches your own sensory apparatus.

Nicholas of Cusa (Nicolaus Cusanus) (1401-1464)

Nicholas of Cusa (Nikolaus Krebs von Kues) was a German theologian, philosopher, mathematician, astronomer, humanist and lawyer.

Nicholas of Cusa or Cusanus

Cusanus writes in “the Coniecturis II”, Chapter 14:

"Man is a Microcosm, or a human world. Therefore, Man encompasses the human area, through its human power, both God and the whole world."

And a little further in the same chapter:

"Man has the characteristic that he unfolds all things from himself, within the perimeter of his own area. This is how man produces all things, through the power of his own center."

In other words, each human being is a Microcosm that thinks the macroscopic world into existence.

Each human spirit or monad is an individualized fragment of God’s all-encompassing consciousness. Through our consciousness, God (or All, Tao, Brahman) experiences what it is like to be us, when we choose to be who we are. Through our eyes the Universe sees itself. Through our ears the Universe can hear its song. Our task is to make the Universe aware of itself.

Below is a list of some other claims made by Cusanus in the 15th century. It was a hundred years before Copernicus launched the heliocentric model of the solar system:

  • The earth is round and rotates around its own axis.
  • The Earth and the other planets revolve around the Sun.
  • The planets do not move in perfect circles, as was thought then. (Kepler did read Cusanus and got there the idea of elliptical orbits).
  • Space is infinite, and the Sun is one star among countless others.
  • Life probably also exists elsewhere in space.

In 2001, Pope John Paul II wrote a text entitled ‘Letter on the occasion of the 600th anniversary of the birth of Nicholas of Cusa (Cusanus)’. The Pope shows here that he had studied Cusanus’ writings in depth. John Paul II writes:

"The cardinal's brilliant ideas opened up new directions in thinking and study. He provides insights which, although long forgotten, are still valid today and deserve to be taken up again: In astronomy as well as in mathematics, in science and medicine, in geography and jurisprudence history, but especially in philosophy and theology".

Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646-1716)

Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz was a contemporary of Newton and at the same time with him, but not together, the creator of differential calculus. He had a completely different view compared to Newton regarding time and space. According to Leibniz, space and time are abstractions of the relationships that physical bodies maintain with each other. The most fundamental substance of the universe is the monad (see Hermes Trismegistus and Cusanus above). Monads are units that represent the outer world within themselves. These representations are equal to the conscious contents of living beings. Physical objects, also including their bodies, are phenomena that appear in the imagination of the monad.

Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz

According to Leibniz, all statements about space and time are based on things and events and their relationships. The place of one thing is not linked to a unique and eternal point in absolute space, but is defined as relationships or situations with other things. Movement is not the cycling through mathematical points in an absolute space, but is the changing of the situation, of the relationships to other things: They come closer or move further away or go in another direction. Place is a certain relationship to co-existing things. Space is the collection of all possible places.

In other words, Leibniz rejects Newton’s absolute time and space. Things do not exist in God’s sensorium as Newton thinks that space is but in the imagination of the monad.

"Reality can only be found in a single source, because of the interconnectedness of all things with each other."

Karl von Eckartshausen (1752 – 1803)

Karl von Eckartshausen

Von Eckartshausen was an influential German author who became known by his publications on philosophy of nature and Christian theosofie. He describes his outer physical experiences in ‘Aufschlusse zur Magie‘ as follows:

"Mass, space, time, distance, past and future are attributes of the physical world.  As it has already been said: For the spirit there is no space, no time, no condition. It has no obstacles. Its power is the will - unlimited the spirit can work through the will. The soul thus has the ability to move to the most distant places. The body cannot leave, because it is limited by time and space."

Immanuel Kant (1724-1804)

Immanuel Kant was a German philosopher who lived in the 18th century, and is considered one of the most important thinkers in modern philosophy. Kant went particularly in-depth on cognitive-theoretical questions. He builds on Plato’s Allegory of the Cave and explains that our impression of the world is created by our own consciousness. We can never know what the world “out there” really consists of, all we can know is what our physical senses and our own consciousness tell us.

Portrait of Immanual Kant at middle age (approx. 1790)

Kant distinguishes between “Das Ding an Sich”, or “the thing in itself”, and “Das Ding für mich”, or “the thing as it appears to me”. According to Kant, Das Ding an Sich exists in the so-called “noumenal world”, of which we cannot have direct experience. Man’s physical senses and consciousness structure and shape the impressions from the noumenal world.

In this way, we humans create a “consciousness image”, and this is the world we perceive. Kant’s “noumenal world” corresponds to the landscape outside Plato’s cave, and Kant took the name itself from the Parable of the Cave: In Greek, Plato calls the landscape outside the cave “noeton topon”, or “the noumenal area”. (The Greek word “noeton” is derived from nous, meaning spirit or consciousness.)

Kant says that time and space do not exist as independent and objective states outside of human consciousness. About space he says ( from Kants ‘Inaugural Dissertation of 1770’ with the original title ‘de Mundi sensibilis atque Intelligbilis Forma et Principiis’. Section 2, Section 15 D):

"Space is not something objective and real, it is neither a substance, an event nor a relationship. In contrast, space is subjective and ideal, and has its origin in a fixed law in the nature of consciousness. The function of space is to create a unified coordination of all external sensory impressions."

From the same dissertation, paragraph 14.5, he says about time:

"Time is not something objective and real, it is neither a substance, an event nor a relationship. Time is the subjective condition that the nature of human consciousness needs to coordinate all physical events among themselves, according to a certain law."

Alfred North Whitehead (1861-1947)

Alfred North Whitehead, OM FRS FBA, English mathematician and philosopher.

Alfred North Whitehead was probably the first philosopher to see and recognize the importance and implications of quantum physics, when it emerged in the early 20th century. He saw that the objects in the quantum world again contain time, unlike the inert dead objects of Newton physics. Each quantum object can be represented as an organized vibration. A vibration does not exist as a single point in time and space but has a necessary dimension in time and space. Whitehead presented the world as a composite of events, not objects.

There is no such thing as timeless matter. Spirit and body do not have a spatial relationship but they have a relationship in time. They are phases in a process, one moment informs the next. Subject of experience in the now becomes historical object in that process. Matter is always ‘past’.

“The misconception which has haunted philosophic literature throughout the centuries is the notion of 'independent existence.' There is no such mode of existence; every entity is to be understood in terms of the way it is interwoven with the rest of the universe.”

Wolfgang Pauli (1900-1958)

Wolfgang Pauli writes in a letter to Carl Jung that he has the same experiences:

Wolfgang Pauli (1945)
Carl Gustav Jung circa 1935
"After a long time having critically assessed many arguments and my 
own personal experiences, I have now accepted that there are deeper, psychological levels that cannot be described from our usual perception of time” 

From the Pauli/Jung Letters, 1932-1958.

Erwin Schrödinger (1887-1961) and the Corpus Hermeticum

Erwin Schrödinger (1933)
"I am in the east and in the west, I am up and down, me is the whole wide world.”

This quote comes from Erwin Schrödingers autobiography and philosophical testament ‘Mein Leben, Meine Weltansicht’. Schrödinger also explains that the quote repeats the teachings of the brahmins, and that they coincide with his own view of life.

Compare Schrödingers text with this text from the 13th tractatus of the Corpus Hermeticum, written in the first century AD. :

"I am in the sky, in the earth, in the water, in the air! I'm into animals and into plants! I am in the womb, I am before birth and after birth; I am everywhere!”

It also strongly reminds of Jesus’ statement from the gospel of Thomas, verse 77:

"I am the Light that is above all things. I am everything. From me all things proceed, and to me all things return. Split a log, I'm there. Lift up a rock and you will find me there."

David Bohm (1917-1992) en the holografic universe

David Bohm (right) talking to Krishnamurti

The physicist David Bohm developed, thinking about the non-local effects in quantum physics such as entanglement, the idea of a holographic implicit order – the inner dimensions of creation – from which matter, time and place in the experienced world – the explicit order – unfolds. Bohm derived the terms ‘implicit’ and ‘explicit’ from the texts of theologian, cardinal, philosopher and mystic Nicolaus Cusanus. Bohm mentions his inspiration by Cusanus in an interview with Maurice Wilkins on March 6, 1987. This interview can be found on the American Institute of Physics website, www.aip.org, under “Portrait of Bohm – David Bohm Session X“. Read also for a better understanding of Bohms ideas ‘The Cosmic Hologram’ by Jude Currivan.

From The Undivided Universe: An Ontological Interpretation of Quantum Theory:

“The notion of a separate organism is clearly an abstraction, as is also its boundary. Underlying all this is unbroken wholeness even though our civilization has developed in such a way as to strongly emphasize the separation into parts.”

Finally: The Whole Elephant Revealed

De hele Olifant
The nine blind monks and the elephant

Finally, a highly contemporary work in which all these and many more historical sources have been fully and thoroughly reseached, and that, together with recent scientific discoveries, creates an overarching image of all these fragmented old insights. As she says in her introduction:

“Many readers will realize, while reading this book, that these insights are not new at all, but that they actually already knew these laws deep inside, but might not be able to put them into words properly.”

If all of the above mentioned appeals to you, read ’The whole Elephant Revealed‘ by Marja de Vries.