on 17 June 2005
"In the beginning was the void teeming with infinite possibilities of which you are one." -the movie
If I could give only one movie to every person in the world, it would be a ground-breaking quantum fable titled What the Bleep Do We Know!?.
Part documentary, part narrative drama, and part visual hallucinogen, this is a film that blows the door off the metaphysical closet. Everyday folks are realizing that they are not alone in contemplating the nature of reality, exploring the convergence of science and spirituality, and yearning for something more to the human experience. In fact, What the Bleep filmmaker William Arntz felt that there were "millions of closet metaphysicians in America, just hungering for a movie like this." Movie industry insiders told him there wasn't a market for this kind of innovation, saying that he was committing "financial suicide". Fortunately for us, Arntz ignored their discouraging pronouncements-and this gem of a movie ended up becoming a box office phenomenon, largely by overwhelmingly positive word-of-mouth.
What the Bleep Do We Know!? blends interviews with scientists, neurobiologists, quantum physicists, and a 35,000 year old being with live action and wondrous special effects. Oscar winner Marlee Matlin plays a jaded photographer named Amanda who falls down a metaphysical rabbit hole. Through a series of mind-bending events, Amanda is forced to confront what she thought was reality-as well as the source of her boredom, anxiety, and self-contempt.
In light of quantum physics (which, in a nutshell, is the physics of probabilities), the filmmakers explore the concept of multiple realities existing at once. While parallel, alternate universes are the stuff of Star Trek, this concept isn't so far fetched considering scientists have produced a particle of light that exists in two places at the same time. Not only that, electrons and the nuclei of atoms completely disappear and reappear all the time. Where do they go? If this happens on an atomic level, what does this mean for the macro level?
Rather than reality happening to us, as the old model assumed, we are happening to reality. The act of observation...or "locking into" something...actually changes the nature of what is observed. The act of choice eliminates all other probabilities. If this is true at the quantum level, how do our choices affect-and indeed, change-reality?
Everything "out there" is a projection of our mind's elaborate theater, which is often the result of complex neurobiology that happens "in here". With vibrant computer animation and lucid scientific explanations, we are shown what happens when cells are consistently bathed in neurochemicals produced by habitual emotions: emotional addiction. "If we can be addicted to heroin, we can be addicted to any neuropeptide (emotion)", says one scientist. Another scientist asserts: "Who is in the driver's seat when we control our emotions or respond to emotions? We know physiologically that nerve cells that fire together rewire together. If you practice something over and over, those nerve cells have a long-term relationship." In other words, if you get angry on a daily basis...or feel like a victim...you are literally re-wiring your neural net to the point of creating an "identity". The good news is that "every time we interrupt the thought process that produces a chemical response in the body, they start breaking the long-term relationship."
So what does this have to do with the nature of reality? It comes back to choice. We create scenarios that meet our emotional needs. This is why many fall into the same type of relationships and dramas: there is a chemical addiction to rejection, conflict, seduction, and so on. One scientist remarked: "An awful lot of problems that get labeled as psychological really amount to people making rotten choices..." What is thought of as "reality just happening to us" is really a result of consistent choices producing specific chemicals which result in specific emotions that have become a habit. Instead of "people always sabotage my happiness", it becomes a matter of chemical addiction to sabotaging scenarios. We draw in from the "quantum field" according to our intention, expectation, and (in this case) emotional addiction.
If this is true of the individual, what of the assumptions of a culture? Every generation has many hidden assumptions that history ahs proven to be untrue (such as the idea that the Earth is flat). Many of these assumptions are so ingrained, we take them for granted as "the truth".
Asking questions like "Why am I here? Where am I going? Who am I? What happens when I die?"-the questioning of reality and how things "have always been done"-help us to interrupt the neural nets. Becoming the "observer" (as opposed to an unconscious reactionary) can result in paradigm shifts, "aha!" moments, and personal change.
Contemplating a new way of thinking or seeing is tricky, however. A fascinating story that's demonstrated in What the Bleep is that of Christopher Columbus visiting the indigenous people of South America. Because clipper ships were totally out of the realm of their reality, these people could not see the ships on the horizon. One day, the tribal shaman realized there were ripples coming towards shore. He knew that something must be causing those ripples...but what? Day after day he strained to see, until one day, he finally saw the ships approaching. His people couldn't see them, until he described to them what he saw. Because they trusted him, they could now see the ships with their own eyes.
This story illustrates the principle that we can only see in our brain what we're able to see. In fact, we only see what we believe is possible. Perhaps this explains why mystics can see angels and other realities: for them, believing is seeing. Biologically, the brain processes 400 billion bits of information per second, but is only aware of 2,000 bits at any one time-usually information about our environment, body, and time. Just what is the brain perceiving that we are not "seeing" or integrating?
In addition to the science of perception and reality, a theologian, Ramtha (an ancient being channeled by J.Z. Knight), and other scientists discuss the nature of God, spirituality, and the interconnection of all things. One of the problems of religion, according to one theologian, is that God has been made into a distinct, separate entity to which we must offer worship, humor, and please-all in the hopes to get a reward at the end of life (not to mention avoiding the frying pan). According to this man, "this is not what God is. That is blasphemy."
Ramtha echoes this sentiment with my favorite quote from the movie:
"God must be greater than the greatest of human weaknesses and, indeed, the greatest of human skill. God must even transcend our most remarkable-to emulate nature in its absolute splendor. How can any man or woman sin against such greatness of mind? How can one little carbon unit on Earth-in the backwaters of the Milky Way, the boondocks-betray God almighty? That is impossible. The height of arrogance is the height of control of those who create God in their own image."
Whether you agree with the ideas presented in the movie is not the point. If individuals at least contemplate an alternative perspective-then this movie will have succeeded. What the Bleep Do We Know!? doesn't tell you what to think, but simply offers ideas and theories for your consideration. At the very least, it opens up a dialogue between people. And, perhaps, if people start talking to one another-especially about concepts like reality, God, spirituality, choice, and human potential-there will be enough cracks in individual and collective assumptions to make way for ideas never before considered as possible.