Quantum Biology

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The Emergence of Life

From what we can see from our vantage point here and now, the known universe emerged mysteriously some 13 odd billion years ago in a great flaring forth of energy, with matter, in the form of elementary particles, appearing and disappearing like bubbles and foam. Over time this emerging energy blob expanded, cooled and various shapes and forms of matter stabilized. At first large clouds of electrons and protons appeared, and then the protons and electrons combined to form hydrogen atoms, and the proto-galaxies arrived. These gave birth to mini (relative to the galactic clouds!) clouds which soon condensed into the first stars and the galaxies ignited into being.

9 billion years later, we find ourselves in a remote corner of one of the 100 billion galaxies, on a planet circling a rather ordinary mid-size yellow star. Here life has emerged. Life, infinitely mysterious, self-organizing and self replicating, adapting and changing, complexifying, evolving. Our life, our fundamental aliveness, emerged on the continuum that began 13 billion years ago, as a cell, a single celled organism that found itself with powers and possibilities unknown to the stars and planets, the gasses and rocks, the atoms and molecules that slowly emerged and complexified over vast moments in time. This was something new.

It is more than likely that we are not alone in the vast cosmos, the the earth is not the only planet to give birth to life. How did these amazingly complex cellular beings arise. What are some of the pre-cursors to this emergence ? How did the evolutionary story continue to complexify after the arrival of the cells?

Quantum Biology

This section will focus on the work of the pioneering biologists and scientists who are moving out of the Newtonian, mechanistic models that have dominated biology in the last 50 years and are integrating cell biology with quantum physics, science with spirituality. These include Mae-Wan Ho, (“The Rainbow and the Worm“), Bruce Lipton, (“The Biology of Belief“), James Oschman (“Energy Medicine: The Scientific Basis” and “Energy Medicine in Therapeutics and Human Performance“)  Gerald Pollack (“Cells, Gels, and the Engines of Life“, and Joseph Chilton Pearce (“The Biology of Transcendence“. We will begin with Mae-Wan’s brilliant articulation of the principles of quantum biology.

The Organic Revolution in Science
and Implications for Science and Spirituality

“Future Visions” State of the World Forum
September 4-10 2000, New York
Mae-Wan Ho 

Institute of Science in Society and Dept. of Biological Sciences
Open University, Walton Hall, Milton Keynes MK7 6AA, UK

1. The machine metaphor has dominated the west for at least two thousand years before it was officially toppled by relativity theory and quantum physics at the turn of the 20th century. Einstein’s relativity theory shattered the Newtonian universe of absolute space and time into a profusion of space-time frames in which space and time are no longer neatly separable. Furthermore, each space-time is tied to a particular observer, who therefore, not only has a different clock, but also a different map. Stranger still — for western science, that is, as it comes as little surprise to other knowledge systems, or to the artists in all cultures — quantum theory demanded that we stop seeing things as separate solid objects with definite (simple) locations in space and time. Instead, they are de-localised, indefinite, mutually entangled entities that change and evolve like organisms.

2. Leading thinkers of the age such as Henri Bergson, Alfred North Whitehead, J.S. Haldane and Joseph Needham were inspired to develop a science of the organism appropriate to the new understanding of nature, that would transform the entire knowledge system of the west. Whitehead, in particular, declared that we cannot understand nature except as an organism that participates fully in knowing. For me, that was perhaps the most significant turning point. It was to re-affirm what we all knew in our heart of hearts: that we are inextricably within nature; and that we participate in shaping and creating nature, for better or for worse.

3. To participate fully is to do so with all of oneself: intellect and feeling, body and spirit. That is the real meaning of the mutual entanglement of `observer’ and the `observed’ in quantum theory. It matters how we know or `observe’, not only because it changes the entire character of our knowledge, but because the act of knowing transforms both the knower and the known. That is why we must never know with violence, but always with sensitivity and compassion.

4. The project to develop a science of the organism was interrupted and eclipsed, however, by the rise of molecular biology since the 1950s. Biology was taken back down the road of mechanical reductionism, to culminate, today, in a genetic engineering technology that has the potential to destroy all life on earth and to undermine every spiritual and social value that makes us human. We need to reject reductionist biology not just because of its inherent dangers, but because there are positive, rational, life-enhancing, fulfilling and aesthetic reasons for embracing the organic alternative.

5. Fortunately for us, the `organic revolution’ has survived. It has been gathering momentum across the disciplines within the past 20 years, from the study of nonlocal phenomena in quantum physics and nonlinear dynamics in mathematics to complexity in ecosystems, the fluid genome in the new genetics and consciousness in brain science. The message everywhere is the same: nature is nonlinear, dynamic, interconnected and interdependent. The linear, static paradigm of mechanistic science based on interactions between separate, independent parts is a travesty of organic reality.

6. All the elements for a science of the organism are there between the disciplines, precisely as envisaged by the pioneer thinkers. I have put some of the key elements together in my book, The Rainbow and The Worm, The Physics of Organisms, first published in 1993 and in 2nd edition in 1998, which is patterned after Erwin Schrödinger’s What is Life? It attempts to explain organic wholeness and complexity based on contemporary quantum physics and non-equilibrium thermodynamics. It gives new insights into physiological regulation, bioenergetics and cell biology, many of which were predicted by the pioneers. Also consistent with their vision, the new science of the organism promises to restore all the qualities that have been exorcised from life and nature, to reaffirm and extend our intuitive, poetic, and even romantic notions of nature’s unity.

7. From the organic perspective, there is no separation between science and spirituality. This stems from the participatory knowing that it entails, in which the knower places her undivided being within the known, which is ultimately all of nature. And, like all participatory knowledge common to indigenous traditions worldwide, it is an unfragmented whole, at once intensely practical, aesthetic and spiritual. It is a coherent and comprehensive knowledge system whereby one lives and whereby one participates in co-creating reality along with all other beings.

8. There is a two-way connection between science and society. Science is shaped by the politics of society and in turn reinforces it, unless we consciously choose otherwise. The mechanistic paradigm projects a Hobbesian-Darwinian view of nature as isolated atoms jostling and competing in the struggle for survival of the fittest. And through the self-fulfilling prophecy, it has created a dysfunctional social milieu and a laissez-faire globalized economy which is destroying our planet and failing to serve the physical and spiritual needs of the vast majority of humanity. That was why fifty thousand took to the streets at the World Trade Organization conference in Seattle in November, 1999.

9. Science shapes society not just through the technologies it creates, but through values and assumptions that motivate human beings, define social norms and inform the policies of nations. That is where I believe the science of the organism may hold the key to a more sustainable and spiritual world.

10. I take science, in the most general terms, to be any active knowledge system shared by a society of human beings that gives both meaning to their way of life and the means whereby to live sustainably with nature. Science, therefore, has an overriding obligation to be socially responsive and responsible. It is inseparable from the entire culture of society and its highest moral values, which define the public good. Sustainability is a moral imperative to achieve and safeguard the manifold conditions of a healthy and fulfilling life for present and future generations.

11. What does it mean to be an organism? To be an organism is to be possessed of the irrepressible tendency towards being whole; towards being part of a larger whole. One of the key concepts in understanding organic wholeness is coherence, the ideal of which is quantum coherence. Quantum coherence aptly describes the perfect coordination of living activities in our body, and there is growing empirical evidence that it may indeed underlie living organization, as described in my book.

12. To get a feeling for the organism, imagine an immense super-orchestra, with instruments spanning the widest spectrum of dimensions from molecular piccolos of 1billionth of a meter up to a bassoon or a bass viol of a meter or more, performing over a musical range of seventy-two octaves. Incredible as it may seem, this super-orchestra never ceases to play out our individual lifelines, with a certain recurring rhythm and beat, but in endless variations that never repeat exactly. Always, there is something new, something made up as it goes along. It can change key, change tempo, change tune perfectly, as it feels like, or as the situation demands, spontaneously and without hesitation. What this super-orchestra plays is the most exquisite jazz, jazz being to classical music what quantum is to classical physics. One might call it quantum jazz. There is a certain structure, but the real art is in the endless improvisations, where each and every player, however small, enjoys maximum freedom of expression, while maintaining perfectly in step and in tune with the whole. There is no leader or conductor, and the music is written as it is played.

13. What I have given is an accurate description of the totality of molecular, cellular and physiological reality of the ideal, healthy organism, which serves to illustrate the radical, paradoxical nature of the organic whole. It is thick with activity over all scales, and both local freedom and global cohesion are maximized, which is generally thought to be impossible within the mechanistic paradigm. In the coherent organism, global and local, part and whole, are mutually implicated and mutually entangled from moment to moment. Each is as much in control as it is sensitive and responsive.

14. When we extend this notion of mutual entanglement of part and whole, as Whitehead did, to societies, ecosystems and ultimately to all of nature, we begin to recover the profoundly holistic ecological traditions of indigenous cultures worldwide. The coherence of organisms is quintessentially pluralistic and diverse, and at every level. It is so, from the tens of thousands of proteins and other macromolecules that make up a cell to the many kinds of cells that constitute tissues and organs; from the variations that characterize natural populations to the profusion of species that make a thriving ecological community. And most of all, the kaleidoscopic, multicultural earth that makes life enchanting and exciting for us all.

15. Part and whole, individual and global are mutually entangled and mutually sustaining. That is the basis of the universal moral imperative that we do unto others what we would have others do unto us. It marks the beginning of a genuinely new world order that celebrates and nurtures individual diversity and freedom with universal love.

The Institute of Science in Society
PO Box 32097, London NW1 OXR
Tel: 44 -020-7380 0908

please visit www.i-sis.org.uk

for more of Mae-Wan Ho’s writings and work

 

   

 

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Recent Posts

Micro-Cosmic Orbit: Pt 2

Exploring and Embodying Three Dimensions

In the previous post we explored the micro-cosmic orbit as a means to refine our focal attention (samadhi) through bringing our attention to specific points along the orbit and linking these points into lines, arcs and circles. As we work more deeply this way, we may discover that we can find these points at three levels. The first is out beyond the confines of the skin, in an ‘orbit’ in the energy field around the body. The second is directly on the skin, where an acupuncturist or shiatsu practitioner would apply needles or pressure. The third is in the interior of the body along the planes of fascia interwoven through the organs, blood vessels and nerves. When we can feel all three of these levels simultaneously, we are inhabiting our spherical energy field and can begin to fully realize the possibilities of having three dimensional/spatial sensitivity, perception and consciousness.

images-5The girdle vessel (Dai Mai,) the fourth vessel we use, is a latitude line and is essential in finding our three dimensional perceptual field. This yang vessel pairs with the yin ‘thrusting vessel, the vertical center axis, creating horizontal stability, and allowing us to rotate/twist. Rotation inherently builds the third dimension of depth ( A circle has length and width. To create a sphere you add depth. ) and is the gateway to cosmic awareness as well as a more vibrant embodied presence.

Rotation drives the whole manifest universe. In our solar system, the planets spiral around milky_waythe sun. In our Milky Way galaxy, the stars, including our sun, spiral around a center (probably a giant black hole! If you can find Sagittarius in the night sky, and you will probably have to wait until next summer, look through and imagine 26,000 light years off in the distance.) The earth rotates on its own axis creating weather patterns as well as a sense of day and night.

The spinning top (one of the oldest toys known to humans, found in archeological sites all over the world) demonstrates the cosmic principle in physics we are embodying. The faster it rotates, the more stable the vertical line. When the top slows down it starts to wobble and when it stops spinning, it falls over. To keep the rotation, you need to keep feeding it with energy. The bicycle uses this same principle, flipped 90 degrees. Another aspect we explore is the radius of the horizontal circle. Rotation pushes from the center outward (yang) in what is called centrifugal force. As this is counterbalanced by theGM2434B-1 yin centripetal (center seeking) force, we can change the volume of the energy field by playing with this ‘expanding – condensing’, yang – yin relationship.

In this top, the widest circle with the most outward thrust, the purple one, is below the center of the vertical axis. Lowering the center of gravity adds even more stability, which is why we emphasize the lower dantien in our breathing, movement and meditation practice. When we discover how to work with this principle in the energy field, our twisting poses can actually help expand the body. If we work muscularly, you will feel constricting in twisting poses.

SBK_1711254-24Traditionally the ‘dai mai’ girdle vessel surrounds the body at the level of the pelvis in the lower dantien. but we can move our attention to awaken other ‘latitudes’ of the body. To begin in the feet, stand with the right foot forward, the left foot back, as if you are about to move into a standing twist (without the forward bend), but haven’t yet begun. Before you move any further, imagine a spiraling coil of energy beginning below the floor (the Antarctic Circle) and traveling up the center. Notice how this mimics the girdle vessel. Now imagine the coils widening as they rise up from the base ( moving toward the equator), as the yang energy expands outward. The girdle vessel is very yang so this is quite natural. Feel the energetic volume expanding and condensing with the breath, but slowly expanding in overall volume

To awaken the front body-yin energy field, we can take the hoop forward to fully engage the arms and shoulders. Now imagine the hoops extends through the back body, receiving the rising spiral and expanding as the action of twisting. SBK_1711254-2SBK_1711254-9Most students eventually leave half of the body behind and end up contracting rather than expanding, especially along the spine column. Imagine the center of the spinal canal opening outward in an expanding circle/spiral, melting the tissue, feeling spaciousness, transcending the limitations of structure.SBK_1711254-4 (My front foot turns out much more than average to release the inner groin. Don’t feel you have to imitate this, but find out for yourself where openness and balance meet.) The hoop is moved to the front to expand the yin/organ/front body qi field and expand the ‘wings’ of the body, but also feel the back body softening and opening. This feeling can be evoked in sitting, lying and inverted twists as well. If you do not have a hula hoop handy, you can also use a thera-ball to find the volume.SBK_1711254-8

 

Another key component awakened here is the Pericardium 8 point, PC-8 (or P-8) in the center of the palms. Analagous to the K-1 points on the feet, P-8 is a gateway between the inner and outer qi fields. The SBK_1711254-11Pericardium, the fascial connective tissue membrane surrounding the heart, arises embryologically from the same cells and tissues that create the diaphragm and liver. The ‘heart protector’ literally does this, on many levels. As someone with a well-armored heart, I am finding that opening and nurturing the heart protector so that is does its job with over doing it is awakening a level of sweet vulnerability that is both precious and scary.

SBK_1711254-12In acupuncture, the pericardium meridian is part of the JueYin channel and connects all the way through the femoral canal to the legs. For those of you who have been practicing ‘climbing the wall’ for the last few years, you can actually trace the whole fascial continuity of the Jue Yin. (Use imagination to fill in the blanks.) Rise up from K-1 (not the heels, even though they do rise on their own) (DFL for those of you who know Tom Myers’ ‘Anatomy Trains’ system) to P-8, passing through liver, diaphragm and pericardium.

You can also track the qi from P-8 back into the body horizontally, again using the wall.SBK_1711254-14 Using the tip of the  middle finger of your other hand (PC-9) to feel the connections, trace the qi from the the wall and P-8 into the area around the pec minor muscle and then go inside the body to the pericardiam itself, along with the liver and diaphragm. Use the breath and your imagination. Then go back and try the twistings shown above with these new perceptions.

SBK_1711254-20To continue our building of a three dimensional perceptual qi field, we can return to the thera-ball to provide sensation and visualization. I like the feel of my third chakra having organ support, so I find placing the ball there and using a wall creates a powerful presence on the inside. Embryologically speaking, this is the extemely yin yolk sac which becomes the entire gut body. The conception vessel points on the micro-cosmic orbit are stimulated by the ball, bringing sensation and perception here. The liver comes from the yolk sac, so I can use this position to also find the Jue Yin channel we explored above. Lying SBK_1711254-19over the ball in a forward bend creates a similar feeling, with even more yielding and softening to the yang back body erector muscles. By moving the ball to the sternum, I can activate a new set of points on the conception vessel and engage the inner tissues surrounding the 4th chakra

If I want to build up my back field perception, I use the ball from behind and awaken sensation on the yang Governing Vessel.SBK_1711254-16 Here I have dropped it a bit lower to find the sacral-lumbar junction and here I can feel the possibility of both lumbar flexion and extension, from S curve to C curve and back.  The very important GV-4 Qi gong Image‘gate of vitality’ is here The inner abdominal space also opens and the front back and center plane begin to become conscious. This becomes trickier as you move upwards towards the liver. You can place the ball anywhere and feel different points coming alive. Feel their inner as well as outer presence. Back support can also help open the front. I haveSBK_1711254-17been trying to open my throat more for my sax sound and using the ball (or any elastic support) helps soften and melt tight tissue.

SBK_1711254-21Fish body support, opening some Gall Bladder Meridian points is another way to use the ball. I am using the wall, but this can be done on the floor as well, with slightly different effects. All of these ways of playing with the three dimensional field are ways of awakening and establishing a dynamic energetic field, centered in your heart, and radiating out throughout the whole of the cosmos. When you are out in Nature, feel this. When you are out and about in the human sphere, feel how you respond. It is fascinating to see what happens.

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