In the mystical consciousness, Reality is apprehended directly and immediately, meaning without any mediation, any symbolic elaboration, any conceptualization, or any abstractions; subject and object become one in a timeless and spaceless act that is beyond any and all forms of mediation. Mystics universally speak of contacting reality in its “suchness,” its “isness,” its “thatness,” without any intermediaries; beyond words, symbols, names, thoughts, images. —Ken Wilber
This quote is from Wilber’s Quantum Questions: Mystical Writings of the World’s Greatest Physicists. It is a collection of essays from the likes of Heisenberg, Schrodinger, Einstein, Planck, Pauli, and others, with an introduction from Wilber.
I returned to it recently for inspiration and clarity in writing my new book. The one thing that each of these brilliant minds share is a certainty that the absolute best that science can aspire to is a mathematical description of the shadows we can see, NOT an encapsulation of what is really happening. Eddington wrote, “The frank realization that physical science is concerned with a world of shadows is one of the most significant of recent advances.”
In recent posts I have been emphasizing the importance of noticing when we are in ‘experience’ mode. It is the shadowy world they talk about. Paradoxically for most of us, this world of shadows is much more substantial than the “suchness” it reflects. Each of these geniuses of quantum science knew the insubstantial (xu) must interact with the substantial (shi). And that’s the foundation of good gongfu. Eventually, what we consider substantial and insubstantial does a flip, and the previously concrete world of experience is seen for what it is: “the story I tell myself.” And the ‘mystical consciousness’ described above becomes the bedrock of our practice.
Wolfgang Pauli, thought by his peers to have a genius equal or greater than Einsein, wrote:
There will always be two attitudes dwelling in the soul of man [scientific and mystical], and the one will always carry the other already within it, as the seed of its opposite. Hence arises a sort of dialectical process, of which we know not wither it leads us. I believe that as Westerners we must entrust ourselves to this process, and acknowledge the two opposites to be complementary.