In 1854, Chief Seattle warned the legislators in Washington, D.C., how the destruction of North America’s wilderness had implications that would reach far beyond the current time and threaten the survival of future generations.
With a profound wisdom that’s as true today as it was in the mid-19th century, the chief reportedly stated, “Man did not weave the web of life – he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.”
The parallel between Chief Seattle’s description of our place in the “web of life” and our connection to (and within) the Divine Matrix is unmistakable. As part of all that we see, we’re participants in an ongoing conversation – a quantum dialogue – with ourselves, our world, and beyond. Within this cosmic exchange, our feelings, emotions, prayers, and beliefs at each moment represent our speaking to the universe. And everything from the vitality of our bodies to the peace in our world is the universe answering back.
What Does It Mean to “Participate” in the Universe?
As mentioned in the last chapter, physicist John Wheeler suggests that not only do we play a role in what he calls a “participatory universe,” but we fulfill the primary role. The key to Wheeler’s proposition is the word participatory. In this type of universe, you and I are part of the equation. We’re both catalysts for the events of our lives, as well as the “experiencers” of what we create … these things are happening at the same time! We’re “part of a universe that is a work in progress.” In this unfinished creation, “we are tiny patches of the universe looking at itself – and building itself.”
Wheeler’s suggestion opens the door to a radical possibility: If consciousness creates, then the universe itself may be the result of this awareness. While Wheeler’s views were proposed later in the 20th century, we can’t help but think back to Max Planck’s 1944 statement that everything exists because of an “intelligent Mind,” which he called “the matrix of all matter.” The question that begs to be asked here is simply: What Mind?
We Are The Mind
In a participatory universe, the act of focusing our consciousness – of us looking somewhere and examining the world – is an act of creation in and of itself. We’re the ones observing and studying our world. We’re the mind (or at least part of a greater mind), as Planck described. Everywhere we look, our consciousness makes something for us to look at.
In our search to find the smallest particle of matter and our quest to define the edge of the universe, this relationship suggests that we may never find either. No matter how deeply we peer into the quantum world of the atom or how far we reach into the vastness of outer space, the act of us looking with the expectation that something exists may be precisely the force that creates something for us to see.
A participatory universe … exactly what would that entail? If consciousness really creates, then how much power do we actually have to change our world? The answer may surprise you.
The 20th-century visionary from Barbados known simply by the name of Neville perhaps best described our ability to make our dreams a reality and bring imagination to life. Through his numerous books and lectures, in terms that are simple yet direct, he shared the great secret of how to navigate the many possibilities of the Divine Matrix.
Nothing Happens Outside Our Consciousness
From Neville’s perspective, all that we experience – literally everything that happens to us or is done by us – is the product of our consciousness and absolutely nothing else. He believed that our ability to apply this understanding through the power of imagination is all that stands between us and the miracles of our lives. Just as the Divine Matrix provides the container for the universe, Neville suggested that it’s impossible for anything to happen outside the container of consciousness.
How easy it is to think otherwise! Immediately after the terrorist acts of September 11 in New York and Washington, D.C., the questions that everyone was asking were “Why did they do this to us?” and “What did we do to them?” We live during a time in history when it’s so easy to think of the world in terms of “them” and “us” and wonder how bad things can happen to good people. If there is in fact a single field of energy that connects everything in our world, and if the Divine Matrix works the way the evidence suggests, then there can be no them and us, only we.
From the leaders of nations whom we’ve learned to fear and hate to the people in other countries who touch our hearts and invite our love, we’re all connected in what may be the most intimate way imaginable: through the field of consciousness that’s the incubator for our reality. Together, we create the healing or the suffering, the peace or the war. This could very well be the most difficult implication of what the new science is showing us. And it might also be the source of our greatest healing and survival.
Looking For External Reasons
Neville’s work reminds us that perhaps the biggest error in our worldview is to look to external reasons for life’s ups and downs. While there are certainly causes and effects that may lead to the events of every day, they seem to originate from a time and a place that appears completely disconnected with the moment.
Neville shares the crux of the greatest mystery regarding our relationship to the world around us: “Man’s chief delusion is his conviction that there are causes other than his own state of consciousness.” Just what does this mean? It’s the practical question that naturally arises when we talk about living in a participatory universe. When we inquire how much power we really have to bring about change in our lives and our world, the answer is simple.
This capability is available to us through the way we use the power of our awareness and where we choose to place our focus. In his book The Power of Awareness, Neville offers example after example of case histories that clearly illustrate precisely how this works.
One of his most poignant stories has remained with me for years. It involves a man in his 20s who’d been diagnosed with a rare heart condition that his doctors believed was fatal. Married with two small children, he was loved by all who knew him and had every reason in the world to enjoy a long and healthy life. By the time Neville was asked to speak with him, the man had lost a tremendous amount of weight and “shrunk to almost a skeleton.” He was so weak that even conversation was hard for him, but he agreed to simply listen and nod his understanding as Neville shared with him the power of his beliefs.
One Solution to Any Problem
From the perspective of our participating in a dynamic and evolving universe, there can be only one solution to any problem: a change in attitude and in consciousness. With this in mind, Neville asked the man to experience himself as if his healing had already taken place. As the poet William Blake suggested, there’s a very fine line between imagination and reality: “Man is all Imagination.” Just as physicist David Bohm proposes that this world is a projection of events in a deeper realm of reality, Blake continues, “All that you behold, tho’ it appears Without, it is Within, / In your Imagination, of which this World of Mortality is but a Shadow.” Through the power of consciously focusing on the things that we create in our imagination, we give them the “nudge” that brings them through the barrier from the unreal to the real.
In a single sentence, Neville explains how he provided the words that would help his new friend accomplish his new way of thinking: “I suggested that in imagination, he see the doctor’s face expressing incredulous amazement in finding him recovered, contrary to all reason, from the last stages of an incurable disease, that he see him double-checking in his examination and hear him saying over and over, ‘It’s a miracle—it’s a miracle.’” Well, you can guess the reason why I’m sharing this story: The fellow did get better. Months later, the visionary received a letter telling him that the young man had, in fact, made a truly miraculous recovery. Neville later met with him and found that he was enjoying his family and his life in perfect health.
The secret, the man revealed, was that rather than simply wishing for his health, since the day of their meeting, he had lived from the “assumption of already being well and healed.” And herein we find the secret of propelling our heart’s desires from the state of imagination to the reality of our everyday lives: It’s our ability to feel as if our dreams have already come to life, our wishes are fulfilled, and our prayers already answered. In this way, we actively share in what Wheeler called our “participatory universe.”
It will look like this: Are We Passive Observers or Powerful Creators?