The Knower and the Known are One

“The knower and the known are one. Simple people imagine that they should see God as if he stood there and they here. This is not so. God and I, we are one in knowledge.” ~ Meister Eckhart (b.1260 — d.1328, Germany)

A popular science article has been published titled, “The idea that everything from spoons to stones are conscious is gaining academic credibility.” Penned by Olivia Goldhill for Quartz Daily Brief (January 27, 2018), the article starts out, “Consciousness permeates reality. Rather than being just a unique feature of human subjective experience, it’s the foundation of the universe, present in every particle and all physical matter. This sounds like easily-dismissible bunkum, but as traditional attempts to explain consciousness continue to fail, the ‘panpsychist’ view is increasingly being taken seriously by credible philosophers, neuroscientists, and physicists, including figures such as neuroscientist Christof Koch and physicist Roger Penrose.”

This is marvellous, except that it’s not “panpsychism” being described. It’s the venerable philosophy and practice of animism, and it’s been around literally since the dawn of human consciousness.

Quantum physicists inevitably get here, and mystics have always been here, so you get books like ‘The Dancing Wu Li Masters’ and ‘The Tao of Physics’ from prominent physicists in the 1970s, along with ‘Gaia Theory’ in environmental science, and treatises on what will later be recognized and mathematically formulated as a ‘theory of connectivity,’ a ‘Special Theory of Relativity,’ or a postulation of ‘unified field physics’ from medieval mystics like Meister Eckhart or Rumi.

I like the term resurrected by Ex-Catholic Priest, Matthew Fox: “Pan-Entheism” … I like the term Fox’s colleague and friend, Stahawk, term for it also: “immanence.” ‘Ensouled Universe’ is good too.

To a mundane scientific mindset, like the pragmatic empiricism of Richard Dawkins and Neil deGrasse Tyson, literally nothing equates to being ‘ensouled.’ Unless you’re Einstein (very spiritual and esoteric in his artistic ‘soul’ who made many statements supporting the idea of an ‘ensouled’ and conscious universe, if not exactly ‘sentient’ in all of its component parts and members, which could explain Trump) — or unless you’re physicist Michael Talbot, who wrote about parallels between ancient mysticism and quantum mechanics, espousing a theoretical model of reality that suggests the physical universe is akin to a hologram (wrote Mysticism And The New Physics, Beyond The Quantum, and The Holographic Universe), Frifjof Capra, the physicist who wrote ‘The Tao of Physics: An Exploration of the Parallels Between Modern Physics and Eastern Mysticism’ in 1975, or Gary Zukav, who wrote ‘The Dancing Wu Li Masters,’ a book exploring modern physics and quantum phenomena in 1979 and awarded the U.S. National Book Award in the category of Science the following year. Such scientists found themselves taking a bath in Ultimate Reality through their research, with a dawning understanding of the concepts of what Eco-Feminist and Witch, Starhawk would call ‘immanence’ and Meister Eckhart would call ‘inspiritus.’

Take the Meister’s quote above and substitute the word ‘consciousness’ for ‘knowledge.’ Now take the state-of-the-art notion of post-Einstein Higher Physics, to the effect that everything in the universe (and the universe itself) is Energy, in constant motion and always vibrating at some frequency or other, and that matter occurs at the interces and intersections of energy wave forms, as if it sort of ‘clabbers’ there, like curds from whey, if whey were a 3-dimensional spider web or densely informed field of radiating energy waves — viewed in 2-D as serpentine waving lines, and from on-end in 2-D as spiral forms. Then take the related state-of-the-art notion of post-Einstein Higher Physics, to the effect that Energy is never created or destroyed, it only changes form… Now substitute the word ‘Consciousness’ for ‘Energy.’

Now, substitute the word ‘God’ with ‘Energy.’ With ‘Soul’? ‘Inspiritus’? ‘Awareness’? Use any word for the ineffable, for the saturated and saturating All-Being-ness that is our apparent substance, energetic underwriting, and reality.

Now take the first part of Meister Eckhart’s maxim, “The knower and the known are one,” and consider that advanced physics has now acknowledged the inter-permeability of consciousness to the effect that, not only are the ‘knower’ and the ‘known’ one, but that one observably affects, influences and substantively changes the other. The observer of a controlled experiment affects the outcome in accordance with her or his expectations. Add this to the basic premise of ‘The Holographic Universe Theory,’ which postulates that what we experience phenomenologically as 3-D reality is actually a projection of personal and collective (or consensual) expectations of reality, and is therefore essentially an illusion.

Theoretical physicists at the University of Southampton believe they have uncovered evidence the universe is in fact a giant holographic illusion — and one of the researchers on the project has told Sputnik the findings will alter the way scientists think about the universe forevermore. In essence, the holographic universe theory means that while humans perceive reality as three dimensional, it is in fact a mere projection on a two dimensional surface — effectively an illusion. If that’s a tad mindboggling, Professor Kostas Skenderis, one of the researchers on the project, generously simplified the concept. “A good analogy might be watching a 3D movie at the cinema — onscreen images may have height, width and depth, but they’re just projections on a flat 2D screen. In our 3D universe, however, we can touch and feel objects — the ‘projection’ is ‘real’ from our perspective,” Professor Skenderis told Sputnik. (‘The Holy Grail for Physicists: First Evidence Universe is a Hologram Uncovered,’ Sputnik International, February 2, 2016.)

And, finally, if our minds are not yet totally quantum blown, let us consider the Great Mystery of speculative science popularly known as ‘The Hundredth Monkey Effect.” The hundredth monkey phenomenon refers to a sudden, spontaneous and mysterious leap of consciousness achieved when a “critical mass” point of evolutionary change or change in awareness is reached by members of the same genus. The idea was hypothesized by Dr. Lyall Watson (1938–2008) in his book Lifetide in 1979. He postulated that a new behavior or idea is transmitted and spread rapidly in the constitutional, structural formation and consciousness of one group to all related groups once a critical number of members of one group exhibit the new behavior or acknowledge the new idea, pattern, model and/or form. Crystal beds being grown to controlled specifications for use in space communications, as well as yeasts, primates, and many other genii have exhibited the phenomenon, as recounted in Beyond The Quantum by physicist Michael Talbot in 1979.

Among humans, it might be postulated as the reason why the patents office and copyright agencies in any given week are routinely swamped by applications to register the same inventions, creative works, inspirations or ideas. The one who gets their version into the office inbox first gets the patent or copyright.

Many have observed that ideas seem contagious, seem to actively ‘grow legs’ and seek to transmit themselves; a creative might find themselves actively attempting to keep their innovations ‘in the vault,’ even in terms of the ways they think about their creations, in lieu of actually letting the proverbial cat out of the bag by talking about inventions out loud. This otherwise inexplicable state of affairs offers eloquent support for the idea that everything in the phenomenological universe is consciousness, constantly vibrating at some communicable frequency, and intrinsically connected at some, even if infinitesimal, highly interactive degree.

“Rumination” is a word from medieval monastic scholasticism, derived from the activity of ruminants, like cows, who slowly digest the nutrients obtained by their gradual, constant grazing by chewing and re-chewing the cud. Their several stomachs aid in this process of re-processing nourishment to maximum effect. Clerical scholars, like Meister Eckhart, believed in the virtue of ‘ruminating’ over an issue or idea until it was rendered, parsed, and processed into wisdom or knowledge, whereby the knower and the known become one.



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Yvonne Owens, PhD

Yvonne Owens, PhD

I'm a writer/researcher/arts educator on Vancouver Island and all round global citizen who loves humans even though we're such a phenomenal pain-in-the-ass.