David Bohm:  Wholeness and the Nature of Reality 

The question of whether the world we live in is a simulation of some other has recently been raised in the media. For those of our readers who, too, are pondering the nature of reality — and we think that includes most of you — we recommend the study of David Bohm’s work.

Dialogues with Scientists and Sages

imgres-3We first learned about David Bohm in the book by Renee Weber, Dialogues with Scientists and Sages: The Search for Unity, Routledge, 1986. Philosopher Weber interviewed a number of exemplary people of our time: Lama Govinda, Rupert Sheldrake, David Bohm, The Fourteenth Dalai Lama, Father Bede Griffiths, Ilya Prigogine, Stephen Hawking, and Krishnamurti. This book can be truly transformative and although out of print, should be on our bookshelves to be read and reread. Bohm himself was greatly affected by the Eastern views of Krishnamurti.

David Bohm

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David Bohm, 1917-1992, was a prominent quantum theoretical physicist who had studied and worked with Einstein and Oppenheimer. He made a number of important contributions to quantum mechanics, relativity, plasma theory, and ontology theory. Ontology is the branch of metaphysics and philosophy that is concerned with the nature of reality. His work challenged conventional physical thought and offered an innovative approach, so innovative as to be little understood nor accepted by the mainstream. His work, unfortunately unappreciated until now, will surely become more widely known in this century.

Wholeness and the Implicate Order

imgresDavid Bohm was an extraordinary physicist whose great work, Wholeness and the Implicate Order, was published by Routledge in 1980. In the Introduction of this book, he wrote:

  • “I would say 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 an unending process of movement and unfoldment.”
  • “How are we to think coherently of a simple, unbroken, flowing actuality of existence as a whole, containing both thought (consciousness) and external reality as we experience it?
  • “Clearly, this brings us to consider our overall world view, which includes our general notions concerning the nature of reality along with those concerning the total order of the universe, i.e., cosmology.”
  • “My suggestion is that a proper world view, appropriate for its time, is generally one of the basic factors that is essential for harmony in the individua and in society as a whole.”

Topics in his book include the following:

  • Ch. 1 Wholeness as a world view compared with fragmentation world view.
  • Ch. 2 Language can be noun-based or verb-based, divisive or unitive.
  • Ch. 3 Reality as an underlying universal movement/process; world view in which consciousness and reality are not fragmented from each other.
  • Ch. 4, 5, 6 Technical subjects
  • Ch. 7 Consciousness and the enfolding-unfolding universe

There is an important Appendix at the end of Chapter 1 on the Western and Eastern forms of insight into wholeness. Here, he notes that in the East, the immeasurable was seen as the primary reality, for measure is a thought of man. “When measure is identified with the very essence of reality, this is illusion.” It is the immeasurable that Bohm calls the implicate order.

What the West can do, Bohm states, is to

  • “develop new insight into fragmentation and wholeness [that] requires a creative work even more difficult than that needed to make fundamental new discoveries in science, or great and original works of art.”
  • “assimilate [the great wisdom from the whole of the past, both in the East and in the West] and to go on to new and original perception relevant to our present condition of life.”

In the rest of the book, Bohm lays out the results of his own creative work. We, now, can take up the reins and move ahead into greater wholeness and harmony in our world view and in our lives. This is one of the great books of the twentieth century.

David Bohm and F. David Peat:  Science, Order, and Creativityimgres-2

This book was published in 1987. It is a more descriptive book and may be easier to understand. It takes up topics such as creativity in science, what is order?, the implicate order, consciousness, and creativity in the whole of life. Certainly well worth reading.

D. Bohm and B.J. Hiley, The Undivided Universe: An ontological interpretation of quantum theory

imgres-1The Undivided Universe by Bohm and his long-time collaborator was published in 1993, a year after Bohm’s passing. This epitome of Bohm’s work elucidates the implicate order and its role in quantum theory, as well as in consciousness.

  • “As we develop this idea, we shall see that the notion of enfoldment is not merely a metaphor, but that it has to be taken fairly literally. To emphasise this point, we shall therefore say that the order in the hologram is implicate. The order in the object, as well as in the image, will then be unfolded and we shall call it explicate. The process, in this case wave movement, in which this order is conveyed from the object to the hologram will be called enfoldment or implication. The process in which the order in the hologram becomes manifest to the viewer in an image will be called unfoldment or explication.”
  • “What all this suggests is that our most primary experience in consciousness actually is of an implicate order. And our perception of the explicate order is constituted mostly by a series of abstractions from this.”
  • “The implicate order is not only the ground of perception, but also of the actual process of thought.”
  • “All of this is clearly compatible with the notion that the basic order of the mind is implicate and that the explicate arises as a particular case of this implicate order in much the way that we have suggested.”

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