Thursday, March 17, 2011

"Fragments" from Bohm's "Implicate Order"

“. . . If there is knowledge, it will be done away with. For what we know is incomplete and what we prophesy is incomplete. But when what is complete comes, then what is incomplete will be done away with.. . . Now we see only an indistinct image in a mirror, but then we will be face to face. Now what I know is incomplete, but then I will know fully . . ."

(I Corinthians 13:8-12)

David Bohm (1917 - 1992)
David Bohm, the renowned physical theorist - who was at once the contemporary, colleague and friend of both Einstein and the renowned spiritual teacher, Jiddu Krishnamurti - proposed that there is a for-now imperceivable "Implicate Order" within which our perceivable universe (the "Explicate Order") unfolds. "I would say," he wrote in his treatise, "Wholeness and the Implicate Order," "that in my scientific and philosophical work, my main concern has been with understanding the nature of reality in general and of consciousness in particular as a coherent whole, which is never static or complete but which is an unending process of movement and unfoldment. . . ."

Over and over, Bohm observes that the basic problem we have in understanding ourselves, each other, and the basic nature of our 'reality' - particularly in the West, which is still in the grips  of a more-or-less 'classical' Newtonian worldview - is that we tend to break up or "fragment" the universe, the world, mankind, and even our thoughts, in order to 'understand' them, rather than trying to obtain a holistic vision of what we perceive.

"Being guided by this view," he observes, "man then acts in such a way as to try and break himself and the world up so that all seems to correspond to this way of thinking. He therefore obtains an apparent proof of his fragmentary self-world-view." (This echoes Einstein's comments about the commonly held world-view that he described as a sort of cosmic "optical delusion of [man's] consciousness.") It is a world-view that has grave implications, according to Bohm:
"Fragmentation is . . . an attitude of mind which disposes the mind to regard divisions between things as absolute and final, rather than as ways of thinking that have only a relative and limited range of usefulness and validity. It leads therefore to a general tendency to break up things in an irrelevant and inappropriate way according to how we think. And so it is evidently and inherently destructive. . . .

When man thinks of himself in this fragmentary way, he will inevitably tend to see himself first - his own person, his own group - he can't seriously think of himself as internally related to the whole of mankind and therefore to all other people. Even if he does try to put mankind first, he will perhaps think of nature as something different to be exploited to satisfy whatever desires he may have at the moment. Similarly he will think body and mind are independent actualities. . . . Physically this is not conducive to over-all health which means wholeness, and mentally, not to sanity which also has a similar meaning."

In a five-part 1989 interview (hosted on that was filmed at the Neils Bohr Institute in Copenhagen, Bohm lucidly - given his vast knowledge, wide yet cohesive interests, and keen intellect - holds forth on a wide range of interrelated topics.  These include the relationship of the quantum and relativity theories to a holistic spiritual or metaphysical view of our 'reality,' the interconnectedness of all 'things' (including humankind) in a 'Wholeness,' the conflict between Western and Eastern worldviews, and the underlying 'deep roots' of the world's looming environmental problems - problems which stem from our treating world resources as separate "fragments" instead of the interrelated parts of a larger whole.

The "must-see" Bohm interviews capture one of the great minds, as well as great spiritual seekers, of the past 100 years at the height of his understanding of the "inter-relatedness" of all 'things' in the universe and our tendency to perceptively and conceptually break 'everything,' including (perhaps most importantly) our human interactions into 'fragmentary,' unrelated pieces.

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