Quantum physics is widely considered to be the greatest scientific discovery of all time. Albert Einstein, one of its founding fathers, wrote that quantum physics is “so uncommonly important … that it should be everyone’s concern.” Though seemingly esoteric, inscrutable and intimidating, we interface with the quantum dimension of experience all the time (though mostly unconsciously) in our ordinary lives, which is to say that the revelations emerging from quantum physics contain the deepest relevance for all of us.
To say the revelations emerging from quantum physics are radical is a huge understatement of epic proportions – quantum physics has empirically proven, for example, that the universe that physicists were exploring before the advent of quantum physics didn’t even exist, at least in the way that we thought it did. Rather than being passive observers of an objective universe existing separate from ourselves, quantum physics is showing us that, through our act of observing, interpreting and placing meaning and value on our experience, we are actively and relentlessly (whether we know it or not) participating in creating our experience of ourselves and our experience of the universe.
In disclosing to us that, just like a dream, our act of observing the universe influences the very universe we are observing, quantum physics is revealing to us that the act of observation is itself creative. This has always been the case, but it greatly behooves us to recognize and activate our quantum creativity so that we can consciously participate and have a say in our own evolution, both individually and collectively as a species. When we fully take in the radically liberating and empowering insights that quantum physics, like mana from heaven, is freely offering us, it can’t help but to unlock the creative spirit within us.
The revelations emerging from quantum physics are showing us that we have immense creative power within us beyond measure at our disposal at each and every moment (which is really the singular, ever-present, timeless now-moment), but to the extent we are wielding our creative inheritance unconsciously, it can boomerang against us destructively, as is currently evidenced—writ large—in the greater collective body politic of our world gone mad. As if under a self-created spell, we have hypnotized ourselves via our intrinsic creative genius for evoking our experience of reality.
The quantum nature of our day-to-day experience is so close to us that we don’t notice it, as its inseparable intimacy with our very source renders our creative quantum nature invisible to us. Our quantum creativity functions instantaneously, in no time at all, faster than the speed of thought, thereby tending to go unnoticed and hence, lends itself to not being acknowledged as belonging to us. We then fall prey to and become victimized by our greatest gift.
Quantum physics is helping us to develop previously unimaginable technologies, which have already changed the course of history. The founding fathers of quantum physics point out, however, that this is simply the low-hanging fruit—less than 1% of its benefits—hinting that the greater benefit of quantum physics will be found within the mind, which is to say that quantum physics is freely offering us something that will expand our consciousness to previously undreamed of degrees.
Though discovered a bit over a century ago, we are still in the beginning stages of unpacking the meaning of quantum physics; such an epochal and world-transforming discovery typically takes centuries to integrate into—and transform—our existing view of the world and our place in it. Perhaps a clue to its deeper meaning lies in its revelatory aspect.
In the past, revelations in and of consciousness were the purview of contemplative spiritual traditions; now an analogous revelation has insinuated itself into the physics lab. Many spiritual traditions throughout history rely on divine revelations concealed within the world of phenomena that are awaiting discovery which either initiate or continue to propagate the lineage’s liberating gnosis. For example, the Nyingma lineage of Tibetan Buddhism (a tradition I am personally familiar with) has refined the revelatory experience of keeping their teachings fresh to an extraordinary degree in a phenomenon called “terma.”
Terma are conceived of as hidden treasures that are encoded within the fabric of the universe that are discovered during times of great need within the community; the specific form that the hidden treasure takes on speaks precisely to this particular need. Though not a traditional form of Buddhist terma1 quantum physics can be conceived of as being a particularly unique modern-day analogue of terma.
Terma can be envisioned as potent time-release multi-vitamins that the universe naturally secretes so as to re-mind us, to stir our memory, helping us remember something that we once knew—what is known as anamnesis, an “unforgetting”—which is the antidote to the amnesia (the unconscious ignorance) from which our species is currently suffering. Interestingly, terma themselves are a quantum phenomena, not taking on definitive and materialized form until their moment of revelation, a quantum-like process in which we ourselves are participating.
Originating from the timeless dimension, terma can be thought of as alarm clocks planted within the universe that are set to go off at exactly the right moment in time so as to help us awaken. In Buddhism, the basic source and essential nature of terma is considered to be the primordial awakened mind itself. Due to its deeper purpose of awakening humanity, hidden treasures are inexhaustible, continually arising in our world like spores from mushrooms. Ultimately speaking, a treasure revelation is never really over until our species fully wakes up (in Buddhist terms, until samsara—the endless, suffering filled cycle of death and rebirth—becomes empty). The very existence of terma is an expression that the universe we live in is literally an abundant treasure trove bursting—and birthing—at the seams.
The revelation of these hidden treasures precipitates out of and into the field of the shared (un)consciousness of the community. Similar to how a symbol (which is the language of dreams) in a dream compensates and restores to balance a one-sidedness and false attitude in the dreamer, quantum physics, being a symbolic procedure, can be seen as a collective dreaming process that we have all “dreamed up” both into our world—and into our minds—to address our need for healing from the overly one-sided spell of reductive, materialistic science that we have fallen under. The medicine for our collective madness, the revelations emerging from quantum physics are truly a product of our time. Its revelations are custom-tailored for the medium of science, the prevailing wisdom tradition of our modern day and age.
Something within us resonates when we connect with a symbol in our dreams; similarly, when quantum physics is contemplated in its symbolic, revelatory terma-like aspect, something deep within us can potentially open and become more alive. A unique, novel and psycho-activating life-form, terma enhance and revitalize whatever universe—or mind—they arise within. Like a key unlocking a door or like a charm that breaks a spell, terma have the power to unlock the mind to its true timeless, changeless and unconditioned nature.
These hidden treasures are meant—literally designed and formulated—to be expressed and shared so as to fully unlock their nonlocal benefit and blessing. A novel form of language, these living revelations are a cipher of information that are thirsting to be deciphered and translated into a communicable and disseminable form. After all is said and done, the ineluctable destiny of a terma is to be made public, in one form or another.
Whereas in the traditional Buddhist terma tradition there is one person who is destined to discover, interpret and translate the treasure to the community at large, might it be that in our present times we ourselves—those among us who recognize what is being revealed through our universe when it is seen as a living oracle and revelation—are being cast in this role?
Quantum physics reflects back to us that, just like a dream, our universe (of which we are an interconnected part) is not deterministic but is mutable beyond belief. The revelations emerging from quantum physics expands the realm of the possible to previously unimaginable degrees. Once sufficiently ignited and set aflame in the psyche of humanity, the quantum gnosis can and will spread like wildfire, virally and nonlocally propagating itself through the collective unconscious of our species.
In typical quantum style, however, the world-transforming effects of the quantum revelation exist “in potential,” which is to say that its profound benefits depend entirely upon our cognizing and re-cognizing what it is revealing to us, both regarding the quantum nature of the world we live in (which, as quantum physics points out, is quantum on all scales) as well as about our own intrinsically quantum—and creative—nature. Once its revelations are realized by a sufficient number of people all bets are off.
Quantum physics is the physics of the dream. It is simultaneously revealing the dreamlike nature of our universe while, being a dreaming phenomenon, is itself an expression of the very dreamlike nature at which it is pointing. When we recognize, as quantum physics is showing us, that, just like a dream, there’s no objective world out there separate from the subjective consciousness that’s observing it, this brings into question who is the subject, for a subject can only exist relative to an object. If there is no object with which to be in relationship, the subject naturally revisions itself according to its level of realization. In seeing through the fiction of an objectively existing independent universe, quantum physics unwittingly promotes itself to be a modern-day spiritual path, as it can’t help but shed light on the nature of the subject, i.e., who we are.
When seen as a modern-day analogue of terma, quantum physics is reflecting back to us our creative partnership and co-operation with the genius of the universe. The revelation that is quantum physics is big news indeed—critically needed “good news” in the dark times we are living in—a true game-changer, worthy of our highest attention. We should spread the word.
1. We should be extremely cautious at calling something an actual terma, which is a highly codified mystical treasure unique to the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism. The terma tradition was created by the great spiritual adept PadmaSambhava for the benefit of future generations such as ourselves. PadmaSambhava was the founder of Tibetan Buddhism and is considered the Second Buddha, as well as the Buddha of our age. In designing the terma tradition, PadmaSambhava was—and is—able to nonlocally engage with this world of ours in such a way so as to transcend time and be able to creatively conspire with us, in the present moment, in our own awakening. PadmaSambhava mystically concealed terma throughout the many dimensions of the universe, enlisting powerful elemental beings to become spiritual “protectors” so as to ensure that the terma will not be revealed until its appropriately prophesied time of discovery. PadmaSambhava then appointed and empowered particular close disciples (called tertons) to discover and reveal the terma in a future life (conceived of as being emanations of PadmaSambhava himself) when this specific treasure was most needed. Sometimes the terma is an actual blessed object, teaching or prayer that is found in the environment. Other times there is a mnemonic cue in the environment that jogs the terton’s memory so as to access the terma which exists in the essential nature of their mind. Sometimes no external support is needed and the terton discovers the terma encoded within the recesses of their mind when they are able to re-access the pristine state of radiant light that they were in when they received their initial commission from PadmaSambhava. Because of the cultural context and very specific conditions that certify something to be a terma, we should be very careful not to appropriate the term and label something a terma in the traditional Tibetan Buddhist sense of the word. Of course, we could take an expansive view and consider that PadmaSambhava, as the personification of the awakened state, is himself the source of and inspiration for quantum physics, as well as all other revelations that emerge into our world. We tread a slippery slope, however, in conflating all revelatory phenomena as being terma, as the term then loses its distinctive meaning. This becomes particularly tricky when we realize the equivalence between our quantum nature and the Buddha-nature (the awakened mind) that every terma is simultaneously pointing at and of which it is an expression. In honoring the very rigorous and specific circumstances that need to auspiciously coincide to bring about the revelation of a terma, however, I would prefer to say instead that quantum physics, in its revelatory aspect, is terma-like. In other words, with the terma tradition as my model, reference point and inspiration, I am pointing out that quantum physics, when seen as a living revelation, can be likened to be a modern-day analogue to a Tibetan Buddhist terma.