Infinite Potential, The Life And Ideas of David Bohm is a gem of a documentary (and you can watch it for free. Directed and produced by Paul Howard, it pays homage to one of the unsung intellectual heroes the 20th century. David Bohm was a physicist, philosopher, and explorer of consciousness—the man Einstein called his "spiritual son.", and the Dalai Lama his "science guru." His search at the crossroads of science and spirituality led to new insights into the profound interconnectedness of the universe and our place within it.
An intellectual dissident
Questioning the orthodoxy of this time, Bohm tried to reconcile the two main distinct paradigms within the world of physics, namely, classical Newtonian physics (explaining "reality" as directly tied to our sensory experience of it, grounded in a three dimensional space, and time being a singular linear progression), and the new paradigm of Quantum Mechanics (describing the bizarre world of subatomic entities which, simultaneously wave-like and particle-like, form the underlying structure of the whole universe, a place where "ordinary reality" and linear time cease to be). Physicists have been wrestling for decades—without success—to reconcile these two seemingly incompatible and contradicting models, respectively accounting for the realms of the macro and the micro. Bohm's maverick intelligence sought a larger framework of interpretation to do the job.
The Holographic Universe
One of Bohm's most dazzling leap of the imagination is his Holographic Theory of the Universe.
A hologram is a two-dimensional photograph of a three-dimensional object. When a laser is used to illuminate the hologram, the stored three-dimensional image appears. Here's a very peculiar feature of a hologram (compared to an ordinary photograph): cutting a regular photo into smaller pieces, one ends up with fragments of the original; when the pieces are put back together, the complete original picture is restored. But cutting a hologram into smaller pieces, each piece will contain a smaller but exact version of the complete original picture. In other words, every portion of the hologram contains the image of the whole. And that's a pretty uncanny feature.
Back to Bohm. According to his Holographic Theory of the Universe, the tangible reality of our everyday life is a kind of illusion, which we can compare to a giant hologram. The everyday world of solid bodies, unambiguously located in space and linear time, corresponds to what Bohm called the explicate (or unfolded) order. But this explicate order is a manifestation of an underlying and deeper order of existence, a vast and more primary level of reality that gives birth to all the objects and appearances of our physical world, which Bohm called the implicate (or enfolded) order.
The manifestation of all forms in the universe can be seen as the result of countless enfoldings and unfoldings between these two orders. This constant flow is what Bohm called the holomovement, holographic in nature, but in constant motion. Even consciousness is part of this continuous process of unfolding and enfolding: our thoughts are the explicate forms thrown up by the underlying movements of the implicate orders of mind.
To continue with the holographic analogy (not meant to be a literal truth), every portion of the universe, according to Bohm, enfolds the whole. As author Michael Talbot wrote in his marvelous The Holographic Universe:
This means that if we knew how to access it we could find the Andromeda galaxy in the thumbnail of our left hand. We could also find Cleopatra meeting Caesar for the first time, for in principle the whole past and implications for the whole future are also enfolded in each small region of space and time. Every cell in our body enfolds the entire cosmos. So does every leaf, every raindrop, and every dust mote.
This is a vast idea, one that gives new meaning to William Blake's mystical verses:
To see a world in a grain of sand,
and heaven in a wild flower,
hold infinity in the palm of
our hand and eternity in an hour.
The holographic model is an all-encompassing framework that has both internal consistency and the capacity to explain widely diverging phenomena of physical experience. It also happens to explain a whole variety of weird and strange phenomena—from psychic experiences to synchronicities, from Out Of Body to Near-Death Experiences. These side effects are the most uncomfortable for materialists and hardcore skeptics to digest.
Everything is connected
For Bohm, the wholeness of life included nature and consciousness in one single wholeness. At a deeper, quantum level, everything is interconnected and internally related to everything else, each part of the cosmos contains the whole universe, and it unfolds in our perception of reality. Beyond one's baseline state of consciousness lies a realization of Oneness, the "unbroken wholeness of the implicate order".
You can see for yourself how deep the rabbit hole goes. Here's the trailer of Infinite Potential.