Fred Alan Wolf is a physicist, writer, and lecturer who earned his Ph.D. in theoretical physics at UCLA in 1963. He continues to write, lecture throughout the world, and conduct research on the relationship of quantum physics to consciousness. He is the National Book Award Winning author of Taking the Quantum Leap. He is a member of the Martin Luther King Jnr Collegium of Scholars.
Dr Wolf has taught at the University of London, the University of Paris, the Hahn-Meitner Institute for Nuclear Physics in Berlin, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and San Diego State University in the United States. His work in quantum physics and consciousness is well known through his popular and scientific writing. He is the author of eleven books including Taking the Quantum Leap, Parallel Universes, The Dreaming Universe, The Eagle's Quest, The Spiritual Universe, Mind into Matter, Matter into Feeling, The Yoga of Time Travel: How the Mind Can Defeat Time, and his latest book Dr Quantum Presents, A Little Book of Big Ideas...
Dr Wolf's fascination with the world of physics began one afternoon as a child at a local matinee, when the newsreel revealed the awesome power and might of the world's first atomic explosion. This fascination continued, leading Wolf to study mathematics and physics.
In 1963, he received his Ph.D. in theoretical physics from UCLA and began researching the field of high atmospheric particle behavior following a nuclear explosion. Wolf's inquiring mind has delved into the relationship between human consciousness, psychology, physiology, the mystical, and the spiritual. His investigations have taken him from intimate discussions with physicist David Bohm to the magical and mysterious jungles of Peru, from master classes with Nobel Laureate Richard Feynman to the high deserts of Mexico, from a significant meeting with Werner Heisenberg to the hot coals of a firewalk.
In academia, Dr Wolf has challenged minds at San Diego State University, the University of Paris, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the University of London, Birkbeck College, and many other institutions of higher learning. Wolf is best known for his contributions through technical papers and popular books, but he is frequently in demand as a lecturer, keynote speaker, and consultant to industry and the media.
Wolf is well known for his simplification of the new physics and is perhaps best known as the author of Taking the Quantum Leap which, in 1982, was the recipient of the prestigious National Book Award for Science.
Former professor of physics at San Diego State University for twelve years, Dr Wolf lectures, researches, and teaches worldwide. Dr Wolf has also appeared as the resident physicist on The Discovery Channel's The Know Zone and on many radio talk shows and television shows across the United States and abroad.
Interview with Dr Fred Alan Wolf
What do you see as being the message of the film What the Bleep?
The main message of the film is simple: You affect reality by using your mind whilst observing it. The film tackles some of life's biggest questions, without really answering them: Where have we been?
Why are we here? Where are we going? It's a quirky film that draws parallels between the mysteries of quantum physics-a mind-expanding field whose findings suggest many so-called laws of science are a lot less materialistic than we once thought-and some of humankind's most vexing spiritual queries.
How do you explain the film's success and its popularity?
What seems to happen, I think, is that people have gotten disillusioned because of the media, for one thing. Because of the kind of films and things that they've been seeing -- and the news has been so disillusioning. I think after awhile people just reach a point and say, "What's the point of living?" And then a film like this comes along and says, "You know, there are choices you can make that are different than what you've chosen." And everybody thinks, "Wow, this is something new." I think it's a breath of fresh air. It's a spiritual movie, and I think that's what got people moving.
In brief, it's OK to feel good and spiritual at the same time! A spiritual hunger has been in existence in our country for as long as we have had a country. Modern religions in their attempt to stay afloat and be in the mainstream have neglected the spiritual component of religion. There isn't much in the way of traditional spirituality for the folks that adore this film. Now there may be people that go to churches, and I assume there may be quite a few of them who have never seen the movie and yet get some sort of spiritual uplift from Billie Graham or their local pastor and feel that's enough for them. But for a sizable minority of what I would call intellectually stimulated people that type of spirituality is not quite enough. They have questions, they want to know how does this work, and why does God do things this way and not that way, and I think that is the kind of audience the movie is made for and that is who it attracted.
Do you regard the disciplines of quantum physics and mysticism as being convergent or divergent in interpreting reality?
The can be seen to be both divergent and convergent at the same time! Let me give you the long explanation.
Quantum Physics was invented at the turn of the twentieth century when Max Planck, a German physicist came up with a solution to a problem that was connected with how energy gets radiated away from atoms. For example, the radiation that we see coming from the sun or coming from an incandescent bulb-how did that radiation travel? Did it travel as a wavy wave, like if you were dropping a stone in a pond? Or did it travel in little bundles like when somebody fires a gun and bullets fly out, or someone uses a spitball machine? They suspected that it was wavy, because all of the experimentation dealing with color and energy at that time was pretty much on the basis of waves.
The industrial age was just getting going and people were beginning to think about using steel and melted iron and wanted to be able to predict how hot the temperature of steel was. They wanted to be able to look at the color and determine what was going on. So physicists were looking at the spectrum, the different colors that come off, and the then current theory just simply said that the spectrum should look a certain way. What they actually observed was something radically different from what they predicted. And Max Planck said 'suppose the energy comes off in little bundles of energy rather than this continuous wave.' By artificially putting that assumption into the equations he was able to successfully predict just what was observed.
When people heard about it, they weren't terribly excited. They'd seen "fudge factors" before and they thought this was just another one.
Well, by 1905 Albert Einstein was able to use this "fudge factor" to successfully predict what would happen when light energy was shined on cold surfaces of metals. He predicted that the metals would give off electrons in exactly the way they were observed. This is known as the photoelectric effect. . So suddenly people were beginning to pay attention, and the term quantum, meaning a whole amount of, became part of the language. It developed slowly. It wasn't like everybody just jumped in and said this was Quantum Physics.
In doing quantum physics we had to begin to look at not only a possible way that objects were behaving but of all the possible ways that an object could behave. Specifically, for example, if an object goes from A to B. In the normal way of thinking of things we think of it following a path - a trajectory, like a straight line or a curve. If you hit a baseball it follows a curved line, if you throw a ball it follows a kind of parabolic arch, when you play football for example. We can understand those kinds of things.
The quantum way of describing it is that when you throw the ball it follows every possible path you can even conceive of to get from A to B, and you had to take all those paths into account. and it turned out that you needed all these paths including imaginary ones that you certainly didn't see because they helped you explain what you finally did see when you did look. So there was a question of the difference between what things are doing when you're not looking or observing or measuring and what things are doing when you are looking or measuring.
Observation or measurement implies an observer or somebody with intelligence or a mind capable of discerning and thereby getting an impression or a perception of things. And that is what actually makes something go from anything possible to something actual that you do observe.
In other words observation must be the creator of reality. This popularized the idea that "you create your own reality," and that quantum physics and consciousness are related. This gets spiritual when you consider who or what the ultimate observer can be.
What is your opinion of the teachings of Ramtha as expressed in the movie?
I thought that Ramtha/J. Z. Knight was funny and mind blowing. He/she gave the audience a lot to think about. Many people may feel uncomfortable with the idea that Ramtha is a spirit that takes over the mind of J. Z. Knight and, as a result, may feel that whatever this entity says is not to be trusted. Yet those same people will trust whatever the federal government says it true in the "out there" world or believe what they read in the newspaper. I like what Ramtha has to say because the ideas are inspiring people to think and act for themselves and not just believe what they read or hear. Paradoxically Ramtha through the means chosen by being represented as a spiritual teacher from thousands of years in the past, which is certainly hard to believe, has awakened people to understanding reality. I find this very funny.
Could you explain the idea explored in the film that each of us has the potential to affect the world directly, at its most fundamental level, through the power of our own consciousness.
Well, it can. It doesn't have to, and it's not necessary that it would, but it can have that effect. It depends on, where the person is, whose looking at this. If you're the kind of person who has taken the view that there is no spirit, there's no God, there's no soul, you are born, its purely random, meat, making sparks, making consciousness, and then when the sparks stop, the meat goes back to the way its always been, which is dead. That's it. You're only here for a brief second and then you're gone.
That's it. Its consciousness arises out of dead meat making sparks. It's purely not lasting, not important, and insignificant. If you have that belief structure, which is based upon the knowledge that you've learned at school, this is typically a kind of apathy that develops amongst the intelligentsia, that is, people that are smart enough to have learned enough science, enough of the theory of evolution, enough of what science has said to them to feel this kind of numbness inside when it comes to their spiritual core. When I come in with Quantum Physics, and these other people in the Bleep movie come in and talk about the observer effect and how consciousness works and how Quantum Physics is indicating a new understanding of this, perhaps these people in the audience lose that apathy. They begin to think, "wait a minute, these are scientists. They are saying things that I never thought were true, but now I see there is another way of looking at this." So, can you see what is going on there?
You have said in an interview that "I don't see the soul and consciousness as an epiphenomenon, or product, of matter.
"It's just the other way around. I see matter as an epiphenomenon of soul and consciousness. The material world has evolved from the absolute vacuum of space--the home of the soul," (The Soul and Quantum Physics interview).
What is the absolute vacuum of space and what created it? How does consciousness create a material reality? How does "God" fit into this understanding of creation?
It began to dawn on me when I realized what quantum mechanics -- quantum physics -- is all about. Some people don't see this, by the way. My realization is not necessarily a realization that every guy who knows a lot about quantum physics would agree with. But to me, it seemed to say that the choices that a person makes in the way that they go about observing the fundamental nature affects that fundamental nature -- in ways that are mystical, non-local (by that I mean happening in two or more places at the same time), that are mysterious, that are non-material. That, to me, implies that we're looking at the technology of God. If such a thing can be imagined. Like the movie "The Matrix," but without the underlying theme of people trying to destroy us. ... The idea that there is a technology of God.
There is a basic spiritual reality which underlies physical reality. Seems to be kind of evident. And so a lot of my writing -- my last four or five books, in fact -- has been moving more into my speculative thoughts about that.
If in Quantum Physics everything is a quantum wave function, a vibrating field of possibilities, how can one learn to heal oneself from illness. Moreover, why does one get ill in the first place?
The first thing we should point out is that we really don't know why people get sick or why they heal, or why some people get sick and some don't. There's a mystery here.
I am reminded of an invention that took place in the 1950s. Nobel Prize winning biologist Joshua Lederberg invented streptomycin. He found this antibiotic that killed cellular life, namely microbes or bacteria. He found something that killed these little animals, and found that when he put this streptomycin into a petri-dish, 99 percent of them got wiped out and 1 per cent didn't. This was very interesting to him. He succeeded, but didn't completely succeed. How is it that only 1 percent doesn't die? How do we explain that? Is that they heal themselves from the illness created by the streptomycin which killed the others or did they have some kind of predisposition for it. That is a mystery. Aside from that mystery, what does it mean to be healed or whole, and what does it really mean to be sick?
Is there really any such thing as illness or healing? I don't know anybody, I don't know a single being that isn't sick all the time, nor do I know I single human being that isn't healthy all the time. All I see is people on that dodgy line vacillating all the time depending on whether they identify with their sickness or their health.
I am a very healthy individual, I just went jogging a while back and pulled a leg muscle. I got "sick", but I just kept running and finally put some ice on it, and now I feel fine. Am I sick? Am I healed? What is the real dance that is going on there? And it seems to me that this is part of the way life works. There is no such thing as really being sick or really being ill, or being well. We're just where we are and how we identify with that and whether we are wise enough to rest when we feel a certain way and to move onward when we feel another way. It is more a question of mind.
There's always stuff going on, there's always a battle going on.
All life wants to affirm itself. My so-called illness dragging me to hell may be a bacterial heaven. So you see it's a question of how we look at things. Your body is constantly going through interactions and transactions with what we call health and what we call illness. There have been many insights that have been gained about this. Arnold Mindell is one of the smartest psychologists around who has done work with peoples' illnesses and found out that when they are ill the way they heal themselves was to make themselves even sicker, and that by making what was painful to them even more painful, they begin to experience a path to wellness. Another way of putting it is that if you want to get to heaven you had better learn how to live in hell for a while, otherwise you are not going to recognize it when you get there.
You propose three steps to follow to awaken one's soul, Believe Dialogue and Choose. Can you explain your thinking behind this framework and how you have arrived at this insight?
Experiments designed to expose quantum physics principles have shown that observing nature depends on choices made by the observer.
These experiments have lead to new concepts describing the relation between an observer and the thing observed. These concepts also can be applied to subjective observation and hence to observing and awakening the soul. The popular aphorism, what you see is what you get, appears to apply to the world we experience as "out there." However an equally appropriate maxim appears to be, what you see is what you expect. When applied to observation of the soul, the two maxims show that you also have two complementary ways to observe your subjective reality: spiritually and materially.
In brief: You can't awaken what you believe doesn't exist. So you need to believe that your soul exists. For me it is helpful to have a model of my soul. In my book, "The Spiritual Universe" I realized that consciousness required reflection and resistance--so I speculated that reflection is a key idea. The reflection/resistance process continues whenever we wish information. Spirit will always reflect from the space that binds it. Confining spirit creates space, time, energy, and matter.
Matter is the confinement of spirit in space, and soul consciousness is the confinement of spirit in time. We live in a "what you see is what you expect" and "what you see is what you get" world. By becoming aware of the complementary choices in observing the universe, each observer is either disturbing the unbroken wholeness of the universe or becoming one with it.
When you become aware that you always have a choice, to be or to do, you are awakening your soul as a partner in your cosmic dance. By observing materially, each observer is separating himself or herself from the rest of creation. By observing material being, the observer is gaining knowledge, but also paying a price of becoming more and more alone and isolated.
In your book, Matter into Feeling you challenge the reader to realize the remaining phases beyond the current phase of life one is stuck in and that the movement of matter into feeling is the second phase. How do you arrive at this view and why should one understand how to transform matter into feeling?
In my book Mind into Matter" my goal was to show that within your own mind and body laid a majestic story filled with drama, pathos, humor, intelligence, fantasy, and fact. While it is certainly your own story, it is, nevertheless, the story of the entire universe, particularly its own creation, transformation, and ultimate purpose. I showed how this story called "you" unfolds into a panorama of life, literally a "you-niverse." I explored how the basic operations of what I call the "new alchemy: thinking, sensing, feeling, and intuiting" form and shape the primary material of our conscious and unconscious life. Reshaping this primary material gives rise to forces that transform the world and us, namely: creation, animation, resistance, vitality, replication, chance, unification, structure, and transformation. The ultimate goal of all this was and is the transmutation of information into matter.
However, this is not the end of the story. While I laid out the groundwork of the "great work" much remains to be done. How do I use these tools to change myself, might be the question remaining to be answered.
Other questions include: How do I realize these transformational forces?
How do I live a more creative and fruitful spiritual life?
Realization of the "new alchemy" brings novel forms of the creative transforming forces into play. While the mind to matter transformation deals with primary or archetypal images and how these images become material, the next phase of the great work is the transformation of the newly formed matter into feeling. This step is certainly where life in your body begins to be felt as real living tissue. It doesn't matter if the life we are dealing with is animal or vegetable, or for that matter even mineral, for even mineral life may be possible today and in the days to come.
All living beings feel. Feeling goes beyond the senses and can be imagined as the fundamental awareness out of which all of the other senses develop. Feeling results from the incessant "hum" of life itself.
Spiritual Master Da Free John called this "hum" the "bright" referring to the sense of light presence-a shining aura surrounding all things-he had as a child.
In terms of new developments in quantum physics what explanation is there for the notion of things from the future influencing things of the present?
Time is not a fixed thing. Most people believe that we can do nothing about time, that it marches on relentlessly. Our understanding of time has been changed by recent discoveries in physics.
With quantum physics and relativity, we now can prove that time travel--the ability to break free of linear time--is not only possible, it is inevitable. Many people believe that time travel is physical impossible, and our new view of the universe shows clearly that this is not true. I'm not just talking theory here, I refer to experimental fact as well.
Time is intimately related to mind and thought and to waves of possibility and probability that arise in an imaginal realm. A key idea has been to realize that we all have access to this timeless spaceless realm where time itself is created. Substantiation of these ideas can be found in practices of ancient Yoga and in a study of what quantum physics has to say about time travel as a reality. The sacred notion that time is circular and modern physics notion that gravity bends time into a circle or closed time line, may be saying the same thing.
When consciousness acts, these waves change form and the waves traveling backward through time modulate waves traveling normally forward through time. This modulation results in the "squaring" process (a multiplication of one wave by the other) which yields, instead of a possibility-wave, a probability-curve that makes sense in our physical world. The probability-curve provides us with abilities to control our lives and destinies enabling us to develop habits of behavior and expectation for future success in any endeavors we wish to pursue. Hence without this squaring action, the world would remain in a timeless spaceless state of ever changing possibilities with nothing ever manifesting at all.
And as strange as it may seem there would be no consciousness of any object appearing.
This squaring procedure results in a pattern involving crossing movements of possibility-waves across periods of time that thereby produces the past and future as well as the present. This pattern stretching over time through its multiple reflections gives rise to self-consciousness and creates structures within sub-spacetime for individual evolutionary behavior, survival, and spiritual awareness.
Hence the ego structure or self-concept exists as a pattern in spacetime. Modern Yoga through body poses enables individuals to change these patterns. Mind Yoga for time travel involves a similar change through altering your self-concept. A new sense of spiritual wellness can arise from this alteration providing a new feeling of well being, health, greater vitality, more enjoyment of life, and other benefits.