I often talk about unity reality. While this is fundamental in the spiritual and metaphysical traditions, I first came to this through physics. High school introduced me to rudimentary atomic theory: atoms were considered as solid spheres, the smallest indivisible portion of a particular element, and molecules were atoms connected in combinations.
A little over a century ago, it was discovered that atoms are mostly empty, because beams of electrons passed through them as if nothing was there. Deeper investigation described atoms having electrons surrounding a very small, relatively massive, nucleus consisting of protons and neutrons.
Hydrogen is the simplest atom, consisting of one electron and one proton, with an effective diameter of 2.5×10-8 inches, meaning 250 million lined up would measure an inch. That is very small, but the proton in the middle is about 100,000 times smaller, and the electron is 1,000 times smaller than the proton. To give a sense of scale, if the proton was the size of a golf ball, the electron would be the thickness of a piece of newspaper, circling the golf ball at a radius of about 1.4 miles! That 2.8 mile diameter sphere contains only a golf ball and a speck of paper, yet that is what we experience as solid matter.
Quantum mechanics describes electrons in energy shells around the nucleus, neutrons consisting of a proton and an electron, and all the larger particles consisting of combinations of even smaller particles. More significantly, all matter is dense energy, with wave-like properties as well as particulate effects. Needless to say, the deeper one looks, the less solid “things” seem, and the clearer it becomes that all descriptions are approximations.
But physical reality is even stranger than that. About 70 years ago, physicist David Bohm suggested that apparently empty space is actually an almost unimaginably vast ocean of energy: zero-point energy. I first encountered this in Bohm’s 1980 book, “Wholeness and the Implicate Order.” While the mathematics are beyond my scope, I have had the opportunity to check the implications with several physicists who study this field.
What appears as manifested matter is just a very slight increase in energy, much like a wave on the ocean is a slightly greater amount of water in that particular location, not a separate thing. The perception of different “things” is a consequence of our limited perspective, not a quality of reality. On the ocean, we perceive only the relative differences in water height, without any awareness of the depths below. Similarly, we experience material form, totally unaware of the underlying energy ocean. As all water waves arise out of the common ocean, all matter arises out of the common energy ocean. Seriously criticized when first proposed, this theory has stood the test of time, continuing to gain credibility as it explains experimental data better than competing theories.
Our sensory systems are designed to detect relative differences, not absolute reality. For example, consider hearing, which depends on an atmospheric density, but only notices the changes in that density, not the absolute value. In addition, we only detect a range of differences, and are unaware of very slow or vary rapid changes, which are noticeable to other species. It is not surprising that we should be unaware of a unity energy field, while noticing only a range of differences.
We are immersed in a complex surface of subtle energy shapes. Just look around at all the colors you see. Every color is a different energy level, ranging from the lowest energy at the red end of the spectrum to the higher energy of blue and ultra violet. The beauty of the world is the variety and subtlety of this energy field. This visible spectrum is a very small part of the measurable energy, and humans “see” less than other species.
Look around again, considering the idea that all that you see is similar to the wave structure on the surface of the ocean. Every “thing” has a uniqueness in space and time, yet is a shape of the energy ocean that includes us all. Can you imagine experiencing the connection? Can you feel a taste of the unity reality?
This is our task at this point in human history. The illusion of separation is killing us. We are too numerous and too powerful to be so ignorant much longer.
Crispin B. Hollinshead lives in Ukiah. This and previous articles can be found at cbhollinshead.blogspot.com.