The Energetic Universe

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By Nabeel Redwood

The idea that the universe is energy isn’t controversial or new. Einstein and a parade of quantum physicists have upended the materialist conclusions of classical physics: it turns out that time is relative and that physical objects are just made up of energetic waves. So the two essential foundations of physical reality that we all take for granted - time and matter - aren’t totally there.

Our approach to reality hasn’t caught up with this new understanding. Relativity and string theory grasp at a truth that mystics have known all along:

1. Everything is energy.

Right now, whatever you’re sitting on may seem like a perfectly solid object, but it’s actually a dense cluster of energy so tightly wrapped and moving so slowly, that it creates the perception of solidity. Along the same lines, your body itself is a slightly less dense cluster of energy that also isn’t as independent as it may seem. After all, your breath and the moisture in your body are constantly interacting with the environment around you, exchanging energy.

The air around you is an even subtler vibration of energy, less densely clustered than your body or the chair you’re seated on. But there are still subtler vibrations of energy like the WiFI signal you’re reading this on, or the radio waves passing your house. 

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Using this language of energy to describe the world, the mystic would describe thoughts as an even subtler vibration of energy. Thoughts are such a fine energy that they have no physical manifestation - they are purely abstract, and yet they directly influence reality.

Yes, that’s right:

2. Your thoughts can influence reality.

This idea isn’t so crazy when you unpack - in fact, we’re all influencing with our reality all the time without realizing it. Here’s a simple example.

Imagine a person who you desire, and imagine them undressing before you. Imagine passionately ravishing this person. As you use your thoughts to visualize this experience, does your body physically react? Most people can become physically aroused simply by imaging sexual thoughts. As your skin gets hot and your breathing slows, you’ll have plenty of evidence illustrating the powerful level of influence your thoughts have on matter. 

Your thoughts’ power isn’t limited to the body, either. Your thoughts can affect change all around you. For example, every time you make a choice, you’ve used your thoughts to affect reality. While intending to go to the bathroom and then doing it may not seem like such a miraculous event, in reality, any simple use of free will is an example of thoughts changing reality.

If you can’t quite grasp how your thoughts could possibly effect reality, then imagine the entire universe as a spider’s web. The center of the web, where the rings of silk are the tightest, represent the densest energies in the universe: hard matter. The outer edges of the web - where the silk strands are spread apart - represent the most abstract energies in the universe: thoughts. The spokes of the web connect the outer rings to the center. Intentions and choices are like plucking the outer rings - the whole network vibrates with the consequence.

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So in this spider web metaphor, what do the spokes represent? If the inner rings are matter and the outer rings are thoughts, then what connects them?

3. Chi

The energetic glue that binds all dense energies (matter) with looser energies (thoughts), has been described by many ancient cultures and been given many names. The Chinese call it chi (or qi), while the Japanese call it ki and the yogis call it prana. In western pop culture, it’s commonly referred to as the Force.

Chi is a metaphysical concept - just a word describing the invisible stuff that binds all energy. It can’t be studied in a lab or observed objectively. Why not? Because chi is a way of describing the stuff between matter, the stuff that existentially binds it all together.

If your head’s spinning, that’s okay. It took me a lot of head scratching to make sense of this concept without throwing it out the window. Let me explain it differently.

Over at CERN, they’re smashing atoms together at nearly light speed to recreate the conditions of the Big Bang. In doing so, they discovered the Higgs Boson, an elementary particle that’s the first scientific evidence of the Higgs Field.

Briefly, the Higgs Field is an ubiquitous energy that endows particles with the property of mass as they pass through it, like an object slowed down by molasses. This mind bending discovery says that matter is a property of reality and not the thing itself. In actuality, energies take on matter as they pass through the subtler energy that is the Higgs Field.

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While I’m obviously equating the two, I’m not suggesting that the Higgs Field is literal proof of chi. Instead, the Higgs Field is just a good metaphor for what the ancients described as chi: a pervasive energy that endows all matter with its being, in other words, a field that turns energy into matter.

While chi cannot be studied objectively, it can be experienced subjectively. Therefore, chi is interactive. People already use this force in daily life when we consume and produce energy. But the energy described here includes our mental, emotional and spiritual energy, not just physical stamina. Chi is a way of describing all four types of energy holistically.

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So why does it matter that the universe is energy? What difference does this make to our daily life? 

To view the universe energetically is to see yourself as continuous with everything and everyone around you. You are not separate from nature, so harming your environment or its other inhabitants is essentially self-destructive. Besides changing how we may behave toward nature and each other, we may also change how we manage our personal energies. Through consciously directing your spiritual, mental, emotional and physical energies, you can transform yourself and the world around you. After all, you’re on the spider’s web too.