I discovered David Bohm in a little village in Italy in 2012. Prior to that I knew nothing of him. Now having just completed a film on his life, his incredible work in physics, philosophy and the nature of consciousness, the question for me is, how come I never heard about this extraordinary man and his work? Many of the questions that pre-occupied me during my formative years have since been answered by getting to know Bohm and his work, questions concerning the nature of humanity, who we are collectively, where did we come from and why science and spirituality seemed to be so far apart. Fast reverse! When I was very young, I attended the Cinema regularly.As soon as the lights went down and the projector beam hit the screen, I entered another reality. I completely lost any awareness of those around me and was drawn into the reality of the movie. Often I wondered, as I walked home after such screenings, could the reality that I was witnessing in front of me be some kind of projection? This thought used to bother me a lot. My friends would often catch me spinning around at staggering speed to see if I could catch the un-seen projector hiding behind me. But no matter how I fast I turned, I never found it. So I began to think that there may be a dimension of reality that lies beyond our sense perceptions which feeds into the reality of our everyday world. Could this be the unseen projector I was looking for? Some years later, I was travelling in the cockpit of a Boeing 737 with my Father, an airline pilot. I was strapped into what they call the ‘jump’ seat just behind my Dad. The Destination, London Heathrow. The aircraft was
I’m very honored to be among a select group of creative people who had the chance to contribute to the film Infinite Potential. Filmmaking is teamwork and we had a lot of amazing people working very hard to allow this project to manifest itself. As the cinematographer and one of the film’s editors, my primary contribution was to the visual language. My approach was to visualise the idea of “undivided wholeness” and come up with metaphoric montages that could do it justice. David Bohm referred to it as the “Implicate Order” enfolding into the “Explicate Order”––a notion he picked up from quantum mechanics and adapted into his own theory. Bohm hypothesized a new order to quantum physics in which all things are interconnected and they form a unity––a so-called underlying reality, which emerges through the act of conscious observation and becomes explicate. It’s not visible and then, suddenly, it is. I wanted to represent this miraculous transition––this moment between not being and being. An ephemeral state between mind and matter. The attached image is an example of this concept of the Implicate Order––everything constantly unfolding into the Quantum Field and then enfolding into the now. This effect of a raised hand “enfolding” and blending into a field of wheat seemed like the perfect illustration of this concept. I loved the challenge of translating a technical concept into “art”. For me, the way to understand complex realities is to try to simplify them. Inspiration also came from moments where I was truly present, observant of my surroundings––particularly in nature. When you start to look for patterns in the natural world, you start to see them all over, such as the fractals and spirals which appear everywhere. David Bohm defined beauty as “searching for new patterns that are fitting in every
When working on “Infinite Potential,” the main question for me was: “How can we translate the idea of interconnectedness into music?” While meditating on it, my thoughts brought me back to the Schumann Resonance, a electromagnetic, ultra-low frequency, generated by a vibrational interaction between the Earth’s surface and its ionosphere. It’s a sound that surrounds us all… everywhere… any time. Cosmic electromagnetic waves hit the earth all the time, then bounce from the surface of the planet and then back again from the ionosphere to the earth’s surface, creating a frequency which is just below our audible spectrum. So if we can’t hear it, why should we care about it? This frequency is the sound of the planet itself and it has a huge mental and physical impact on our minds and bodies. If we’re out of sync with Earth’s Frequency we begin to exhibit signs of discomfort that can cause anxiety, insomnia and illness. I tend to think of it a global WiFi network which we can connect to at any time. In fact, it seems to be crucial for life on this planet. So before starting work on the soundtrack I tuned all my instruments to this frequency and its overtones and also calculated the tempo that corresponds to the planetary rhythm. The goal was to create a fractal, coherent score that would immerse the viewers and make them not only understand interconnectedness intellectually but also feel it and tune into this resonance. David Bohm said: “Consider what takes place when one is listening to music. At a given moment a certain note is being played but a number of the previous notes are still ‘reverberating’ in consciousness. Close attention will show that it is the simultaneous presence and activity of all these reverberations that is responsible for
In 1987 David Bohm wrote the following paragraph to be read at the memorial service for a lifelong friend and classmate at Penn State University. The piece was later read at Bohm’s own memorial service at Birkbeck College. And in June 2008, David Peat convened the “Legacy of David Bohm” meeting in Pari by reading these same words: “The field of the finite is all that we can see, hear, touch, remember and describe. This field is basically that which is manifest, or tangible. The essential quality of the infinite, by contrast, is its subtlety, its intangibility. This quality is conveyed in the word spirit, whose root meaning is “wind or breath.” This suggests an invisible but pervasive energy to which the manifest world of the finite responds. This energy, or spirit, infuses all living beings, and without it any organism must fall apart into its constituent elements. That which is truly alive in the living being is the energy of spirit, and this is never born and never dies.” (Source: The Inner Path of Knowledge Creation by Joseph Jaworski) Double rainbow 🌈 image credit: Jena Axelrod.
“What is essential here is the presence of the ‘spirit’ of dialogue, which is, in short, the ability to hold many points of view in suspension, along with a primary interest in the creation of a common meaning.” David Bohm and David Peat, ‘Science, Order and Creativity’ When I came across this quote several years ago, I thought, yes, that’s it! Like Bohm and Peat I’d been deeply troubled by the feeling that something essential was missing; and that missing thing that was causing all the problems in the world. What made me aware of this were the brief moments in my life when the ‘feeling that something was missing’ was replaced with the ‘feeling that something was there!’ It was like finally hitting the mark after an incalculable number of tries! And all that I could say about those particular moments and what made them so remarkable, so entirely different from all the rest, was nothing more than an absence of conflict.
Where is meaning to be found? Bohm had a different answer than his peers in the field of theoretical physics. Bohm had excelled at math, yet he saw those around him clinging to mathematics in a way that seemed to avoid the central issue, that being to understand what the mathematical equations meant. Even though throughout his career he needed to use mathematics as a way of resolving technical aspects of his research, he always had a deep distrust that the math alone was trustworthy. Never, he thought, could a mathematical transaction be entirely free of unexamined assumptions, and the more complex the mathematics, the greater the susceptibility to potential error. His own way, much like his childhood days of fantastic flights to other planets, was to “feel out the answer and see it in his mind before setting down the necessary mathematical steps. His problem-solving ability was guided less by logic than by a combination of imagination and intuition.”
We all find that the groups to which we belong function really well sometimes … and then there are those other times, the ones when it’s hard to see through the clashes or to avoid the landmines. Why do those clashes happen? How do we mend the tears in the fabric of our groups or societal world once they have been torn? Bohm thought about that a lot. Why is it that inevitably we seem to get into such societal muddles? He worried – or as David Peat describes it he agonized – over the state of the world in conflict, feeling that as a scientist he had responsibility to help find the way to patch the world back together. The idea of wholeness became his mantra, his life search, whether in physics or in society. In the realm of physics, Bohm had discovered the essential role that wholeness plays in the universe. His mind’s eye pictured what this wholeness was like. In a vast space were many bubbles of light, each connected to the other and each reflecting back the image of the whole. So each was individual but each also contained the whole which had been reflected to him and which was then within him and re-reflected back out to all others.
What would it be like to have a meeting without specified outcomes to be achieved? Why would we meet if there weren’t something specific to be accomplished. How would we operate with no agenda to follow? In contrast to our Western ideas about how to “meet,” David Bohm was quite specific in his intention for the “free space” of Dialogue: “…In dialogue, insofar as we have no purpose and no agenda and we don’t have to do anything, we don’t really need to have an authority or a hierarchy. Rather, we need a place where there is no authority, no hierarchy, where there is no special purpose—sort of an empty place, where we can let anything be talked about.” (1) Rather than serving a function in relation to the goals of an organization, Bohm intended Dialogue to be an examination of the hidden assumptions blocking our awareness of active information transmitted through the holomovement. Those hidden assumptions show up in our day-to-day world as the beliefs and cultural patterns so deeply embedded within our psyches that we don’t realize they are there. Yet, they drive our behavior in ways that cause broken relationships, societal fragmentation and incoherence.
Where is that mythical territory David Bohm called The Implicate? If we were to draw a map would it be upward or downward from our home base location in The Explicate? North or south of us? In his theory of the Undivided Universe, Bohm posited that the whole of reality is a nesting of increasingly subtle layers. Our most immediate and familiar layer is what he called “explicate.” Beyond it were the layers of the “implicate,” the “super-implicate” and perhaps many more layers, each progressively more subtle, more general, and more powerful. The explicate is our perception of the material world, a vast variety of separate and distinct “things” outside of us and outside of each other (1) which is best described through Newtonian physics. In his words, “Clearly the manifest world of common sense experience refined where necessary with the aid of the concepts and laws of classical physics is basically in an explicate order.” (2) Behind the explicate world is the implicate, the layer or order which holds the patterns that give form to our perceptions. He gave examples of the implicate and explicate. Think of a seed. Within it lies the essential pattern (implicate level) of a particular species of plant which will guide its growth into form (explicate level). Another example: The television set acts as a receiver of broadcasted image patterns (implicate level) which are displayed on the TV screen (explicate level).
From Birkbeck College Bohm would take a short walk to Goodge Street tube station and then take the Northern Line to his home in Edgware. His home was cosy and welcoming, and cared for by his wife Saral. In his younger days as a student, and later as a researcher in Berkeley and Princeton, Bohm must have clearly been able to look after himself, but here in Edgware he seemed very impractical. For example Saral would make tea and then put it in a small saucepan with milk and tell David that when she was out he should light the gas, heat the pan and then pour it into a cup! On one occasion Saral had purchased a kettle, but the plug was not attached. Bohm took the plug and kettle into Birkbeck and while he talked about physics Basil Hiley took out a screwdriver and attached the plug. Bohm looked on in amazement and said “how did you do that?” One thing I noticed about Bohm’s living room was the large number of books. Bohm remarked that he had hardly read any of them. People sent him books and articles they had written but Bohm simply did not have time to read them all.