When Mandelbrot first presented Fractal Geometry to the mathematical community, it was ridiculed by the traditional mathematicians who were fixated on Euclidean Geometry. To them, geometry was made of lines, curves and surfaces. It is the geometry that we’ve used to construct man made things, and, as such, has served us quite well. It is the geometry that we’re taught in elementary and high school, even to the degree of calculus. It is inspired by it’s function, being the engineering applications of building and designing.
Mandelbrot was inspired, not by the man made world, but rather by nature. At first the applications are not obvious and this contributed to the ridicule. Fractal Geometry is not an extension of traditional geometry, but rather an entirely new paradigm. It is qualitatively different, and is impossible to even comprehend without the help of computer computations. It was a new beginning, a new way of looking at reality, and, as such, it took time to develop and understand the applications. When the applications began to surface, they multiplied as quickly as innovative scientists were able to apply the new paradigm and drop their preconceptions. Just in the area of antennas and in the diagnosis of medical imaging the applications have already been dramatic. Fractal antennas in smart phones make it possible to receive a wide range of wavelengths.
The same can be said for Quantum Physics. Our life and most engineering is dominated by Newtonian Physics. As we live our lives, we depend on the basic principles of Newton’s Laws and other traditional physics. For hundreds of years Newtonian Physics guided all of the other mechanical and engineering disciplines. So it is not surprising that at the end of the 19th Century it was considered unwise to go into the field of experimental physics, as it was believed that everything that could be discovered had been discovered.
Only a few decades later a few rogue scientists began their experimentations with Quantum Physics, the exploration of particles on an atomic and sub atomic level. Predictably, the early work was dismissed as useless. However it has quickly become a tool for an entirely different way of looking at reality, with application in all areas, most notably the development of nuclear power and weapons. Modern work in this area continues to push the boundaries of human cognition. New speculation about string theory, multible universes and co-dependent events make this a field that threatens to shatter our normal perception of reality.
And yet most people are completely unaware of it, except perhaps for a few TV science programs. Regular Newtonian Physics and its traditional view of reality, seems to be quite sufficient for living mundane lives. That view of reality is not wrong, just limited. In what way is it limited? Like the paradigm shift of fractal geometry, once we expand our understanding of reality to encompass new paradigms, new doors open to scientific development. With Quantum Physics, it is not only new opportunities in scientific development, but possibly in the development of consciousness and other facets of psychology. As we come to new realizations in our perception of reality, with it comes new possibilities.
Currently I am reading a book called Incognito by David Eagleman. It is about the power of the unconscious and how it is actually responsible for the vast majority of our decisions and actions in day to day life. We may think that our conscious minds call the shots, but research shows that the brain operates by creating a hallucination of expectation and then mediates it with perceptual input from the conscious mind. What we perceive is a fabrication of the mind which only anchors back into conscious reality when a discrepancy or a strong act of wilful consciousness makes a course correction necessary. Furthermore, this also seems to be true of our thinking and our beliefs to the same degree as it is of our perception.
I’ve always respected the subconscious mind. From my earliest reading of Ouspensky to the work of Dan Millman, and, more recently in the meditation techniques that I use and teach, the prominence of the subconscious has always taken a huge role. Ouspensky says that will power is an illusion and that most of our lives are governed by automatic responses from the machine that is our minds. Millman talks about a Lower Self which mediates not only basic autonomic function but also emotional reactions and many other things. Through meditation one can create a stronger association with the subconscious in order to recognize and benefit from its influence.
Like the fields of Fractal Geometry and Quantum Physics, this becomes a paradigm shift that will likely result in resistance. What could be more counter intuitive than the idea that our consciousness does not truly make decisions and think through ideas. And yet that`s exactly what the scientific evidence is suggestion right now. In time this will engender new applications and new ways of looking at reality.