“There is only what we create through our engagement with others and with events… We inhabit a world that is always subjective and shaped by our interactions with it.” ~ Margaret Wheatley, President of The Berkana Institute, a global charitable leadership foundation
A growing body of scientific evidence in the fields of physics, systems theory, chaos theory, biology, and psychology explains how and why vision directly influences both the physical world and our perception of it.
Science has not definitively identified how vision works, nor has it found the formula for summoning human desire into existence. However, much scientific evidence supports the fact that vision influences both the physical world and our perception of it – even if it doesn’t explain exactly how and why vision works.
There are several scientific theories that support and describe the mechanics of vision. These theories provide evidence that we are direct participants in creating reality at a most fundamental level.
1. Quantum physics supports the notion that reality is not fixed or determined, but operates based upon potentials and relationships that we can influence.
2. Sensitivity to initial conditions, a concept within the Chaos theory, supports the idea that a small change to a system, like your vision, can make remarkable and significant changes over time.
3. Systems theory points out the interconnection that exists between you and everything that surrounds you. Your vision is a tool to make you aware of the connections that are most important to bring you what you desire.
This section is not a scholarly compilation of scientific ideas, but every attempt has been made to present the views accurately. The ideas presented here may challenge your worldview of “how things work.” Some of these ideas may be difficult to understand or seem far out, but I hope you will take away from these articles an increased understanding of how and why vision works. This will give you greater confidence to use vision in your life.
Cybernetics is a branch of science that studies communication and control in machines and humans. The study of cybernetics in humans focuses on the functional relationship between the conscious and the subconscious mind to accomplish goals. A theory within the field of cybernetics is that the subconscious mind is primarily responsible for guiding us toward our goals.
Cybernetics suggests that for the subconscious to work in our favor, we must first consciously program the subconscious with our desire – our positive vision of a preferred future.
The subconscious mind will then function as a goal-striving mechanism, automatically taking care of the details that are necessary to bring us what we desire.
Our subconscious has an important impact on our vision. Once we consciously intend something, the subconscious mind operates to bring us what we desire.
The subconscious works the same whether we program it with a positive or negative vision. If we think that we are a failure, we will become aware of obstacles that will help us fail. If we tell ourselves that we are successful, we will notice opportunities to make us successful. The principle is that simple, but it takes faith to try it.
I “lose the faith” myself from time to time. I envision things that I do not really want. It is strange that after all that I have studied and experienced about the positive results of vision, I still forget to focus on what I want instead of what I don’t want. I find myself focusing on the negative because routines are hard to break. It is sometimes easier to expect that I will not get what I want than to believe that if I commit to what I want, I will get it.
Our Influence on Reality
There are different opinions about whether material reality is a subjective or objective experience. Material reality is what we experience as solid around us. A chair, a tree, an apple, a shoe, and a person are all elements of our material reality.
One view of material reality states that it is objective and independent of our minds. This view suggests that material reality exists independently of us, and we are passive players in a game. Another view is that material reality is an extension of our own minds. This suggests that we are active participants who influence how material reality is presented around us.
A physics experiment done by Thomas Young, an English scientist in the nineteenth century, helped reveal the relationship that exists between material reality and us. The experiment was designed to examine how subatomic particles of matter, like photons, can be both particles and waves at the same time. The difference between a particle and a wave is significant. A particle is a small ball of matter like a marble that makes a concentrated dot when it hits something. A wave consists of a crest and a trough like a wave of water that spreads out when it hits something.
The following twentieth-century version of Young’s famous double-slit experiment demonstrated that the experimenter’s observation in the experiment influenced the result in material reality.
The materials in the experiment consisted of a light source that produced one photon at a time, a barrier with two slits, and a photon-sensitive plate. The experiment had three phases. In the first phase, photons were fired one at a time toward the barrier, which had one slit open and the other shut. With only one slit open, what appeared on the photon-sensitive plate was a single band of light. This phase of the experiment demonstrated that a photon is a particle.
In the next phase of the experiment, both slits were open. After many photons were fired, a series of light and dark bands developed on the photon-sensitive plate. This pattern indicated that the photon was functioning as a wave. In this experiment, there appears to be a paradox: the photon demonstrates properties of both a particle and a wave. This may not make sense to you, but it has been replicated many times in a laboratory under strict scientific protocols. What is most important about this experiment is what happened next.
The third phase of the experiment provided evidence about how we influence material reality. It was carried out exactly as in phase two with one difference. The photon device fires one photon at a time with both slits open. However, in this phase of the experiment, a detector was placed at the entrance to each of the two slits, observing each photon to determine which slit the photon went through.
What showed up on the screen behind the two slits were two distinct bands of light. This is characteristic of a particle pattern. This was contrary to what should happen. In the preceding experiment, when the experimenter didn’t observe the photon as it was fired at the two-slit barrier, a wave pattern was detected on the photon screen behind the slits. The experimenter seemingly changed reality by the act of observing a photon during the experiment versus looking at the result of the photons hitting the screen. This phase of the experiment demonstrated that when the experimenter intended the experiment to be about observing photons as individual particles, the photons acted as particles.
This is an example of the concept that, in any given moment, multiple possibilities exist. If our intention is to see a photon as a particle rather than as a wave, the wave-particle function collapses in favor of our intention. Once we decide what we want, we collapse all of the other potentials into a single reality; other potential realities become unlikely, and when we take action, they vanish. By having intention and making choices, we become active participants in influencing our reality.
Physicists who have studied the double-slit experiment don’t know how human intervention changes the action of subatomic particles. They can see the results of the scientists’ influence, but they do not know why quantum particles react differently under the influence of intention. The fact is that observers become participants in the reality they are observing. There is interdependence between the observer and material reality.
We have more or less influence on reality, depending on what we are observing. The larger the mass of the object, the less influence we have on being able to physically change the object. For example, we can’t intend for a horse to become a rabbit or a car to become a boat. However, quantum physics does suggest that to some extent we influence reality with our thoughts. We accomplish this by deciding between the many options that are possible in any moment.
When you focus your intention on a particular outcome, you influence material reality. Your vision has the potential to influence reality. Your vision can create real change that may not seem possible or logical. Being focused and committed to your vision organizes reality according to your desired outcome. Trust that your vision will create your desired future, even though you may not have a rational explanation for why it works.
Vision – Desired Future Results
“Non-locality” is a principle in quantum physics that describes how particles of matter influence each other without being in physical proximity; that is, without physical connection. At the subatomic level, matter does not always act according to our conventional experience. Vision has the same attribute, making “non-local” interconnections that break our paradigm of how reality works. Being an Everyday Visionary is a way to tap into the non-local phenomenon.
We live in a non-local universe characterized by superluminal [faster-than-light] connections between apparently ‘separate parts’. This is a reference to John Bell’s 1964 theorem, a mathematical proof that describes the strange connection between seemingly unrelated quantum phenomena. Bell’s theorem suggests that, at a fundamental level, seemingly separate objects or events are closely and immediately connected. This connection between things is happening so quickly that we cannot always know or understand the connection. We don’t have to think of or know all of the things that need to happen to make something go from point A to point B. While these non-local connections are often subtle and difficult to identify, they exist without us knowing how.
In the 1930s, Albert Einstein and other prominent physicists of the twentieth century believed strongly in the principle of locality. They thought that a quantum entity, such as an electron, in one location could not influence another quantum particle in a separate location without an exchange of force or energy. However, experiments by physicists of the time began to reveal exceptions, in which spatially separated parts in a quantum system influenced each other instantaneously. Einstein referred to this idea as “spooky at a distance,” and it became known as non-locality.
The following is one of those experiments that demonstrates non-locality. A property of an electron is that if two electrons are paired, and one is observed to spin clockwise, the other will spin in the opposite direction – counterclockwise. Also, the spin of each particle is not determined until an experimenter measures it. In the experiment, the particles are separated. When one of the particles is observed as spinning one way the other particle will spin instantly in the opposite direction. The particle pairs appear to communicate their spin intention, even when they are separated by great distance (one particle in New York and the other in Los Angeles). A connection exists between these particles by non-observable causes over distance. This experiment demonstrates that spatially separated parts in a quantum system can influence each other instantaneously.
The quantum physics phenomenon of non-locality provides evidence for the interconnected nature of reality. When you create a vision, you become aligned with this instantaneous, non-local connection between where you are and where you want to go.
Life and Fate
For thousands of years, science, philosophy, and religion have considered the question, “Do the events in our lives happen because of fate?” Up until the beginning of the twentieth century, most thinkers believed that reality was predictable and deterministic.
This deterministic view was based upon the mathematical theory of Sir Isaac Newton, the philosophy of Rene Descartes, and the scientific method advocated by Francis Bacon. Their contributions, along with the general conception of reality during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, created the framework for classical physics.
Isaac Newton postulated that every particle in the universe reacts and interacts according to the same basic laws. Despite the complexity of how reality appears, he asserted that matter was reducible to fundamental building blocks and that reality operated as a clockwork universe. This view still influences how people today think about their ability to affect the future.
Newton’s classical physics offered a way to break the physical world down into parts. Classical physics provided the basis for organizing the physical world into meaningful patterns that provide practical applications for science. It was simple, and it seemed to work.
The quantum physics revolution in the 1920s introduced a different way of understanding reality. Quantum physics asserts that certain things about reality are not determined. Aspects of reality are dynamic and operate organically.
Some facets of reality – including most of the visible world – are best described as having probable outcomes. Quantum physics opened the door to subjectivity, or human influence, on fundamental parts of reality. Quantum physicists have many well-documented scientific experiments demonstrating that we can influence reality at the level of subatomic particles.
A classical physicist might explain reality this way: If you do this ‘thing’, then that ‘thing’ will happen. It’s absolute. A classical physicist would try to take anything complex and reduce it to its parts. At the macro (large) level of reality, this is helpful. For example, we can use classical physics to build bridges, cars, or buildings, and go to the moon. Classical physics suggests that at the macro level you can create anything if you can break down the parts that go into it.
On the other hand, a quantum physicist might explain reality this way: “If this ‘thing’ happens, then it is highly probable that that ‘thing’ will happen.” At the micro (very small; subatomic) level, reality is more organic and relative. Quantum physics states that not everything is predetermined by its preceding action as Newton suggested. Quantum mechanics views reality as an organic system that is constantly reorganizing itself based upon new input into the system. According to this view, reality is not pre-determined, and you can influence it. Your vision has the power to influence and organize reality into the future that you most desire.
Intentions and the Physical World
“The stream of knowledge is heading towards a non-mechanical reality; the universe begins to look more like a great thought than like a machine. Mind no longer appears to be an accidental intruder into the realm of matter … we ought to rather hail it as the creator and governor of the realm of matter.” ~ Sir James Hopwood Jeans
Since the 1960s, researchers have conducted many experiments to determine whether a person’s unspoken intentions can influence the physical world. These experiments provide scientific data that supports the idea that a person’s intention can influence simple random events in a laboratory setting.
Let’s examine how our intentions interact directly with the physical world.
An experiment that tests for the influence of intention on the physical world uses a Random Event Generator (REG). This computer, in essence, generates an electronic flip of the coin, producing zeros and ones at random. The REG is a way to do a large number of trials efficiently and objectively. If this binary event generator is used over many control trials, it will produce 50 percent zeros and 50 percent ones.
One standard REG experiment is to ask subjects to press a button on the REG that will produce a significant number of information bits – zeros or ones in this case. Before they press the button, the subjects are asked to intend for the machine to produce either more zeros or more ones.
The accumulated results of these experiments done over time suggest that the machine is influenced by the subject’s intention: for example, if a subject intends for the machine to generate more ones, that is what the machine will do. If the person intends the machine to produce more zeros, the machine will turn out more zeros. The increased number of ones or zeros that a subject can intend the REG to produce is small, but significant and not due to chance.
The REG experiments offer compelling scientific evidence that you can influence the physical world with your thoughts. Being visionary is a way to focus your thoughts to influence reality toward what you desire.
Back to Vision
Chaos theory is an area of science that explains the underlying order in seemingly disordered and random systems. “Sensitivity to initial conditions” is a concept within chaos theory that provides support for how and why our vision influences what may seem like a randomly operating reality.
Until the twentieth century, Newton’s philosophy of determinism influenced Western thought: If you knew the cause, you would know the effect, and vice versa. At the beginning of the twentieth century, scientists began to challenge this deterministic view.
A physicist named Henri Poincare was interested in mathematical equations that described the motion of the planets around the Sun. He found that even the smallest change in the initial formula caused significant changes in the results. The extreme “sensitivity to initial conditions” that Poincare discovered in the systems he was studying became known as “dynamic instability,” which led to the term “chaos.”
Chaos theory evolved further in the 1960s when a meteorologist named Edward Lorenz found a discrepancy in the results of a software program he wrote for a weather forecasting model. He found that microscopic changes in the initial software formula caused significantly different results in his weather forecasts. This principle became known as the “butterfly effect.”
The butterfly effect is another way to represent the concept of sensitivity to initial conditions. This principle suggests that the flap of a butterfly’s wings in one part of the world can influence whether or not a storm arises at a later time in another part of the world. The flap of a butterfly’s wings causes a small change in the initial conditions of a system that leads to a chain of events, significantly divergent from what the system would have done had that small change not happened.
There are many different systems: the weather, the body of government, the human body, and the whole reality that surrounds us. Chaos theory asserts that small changes introduced into a system can cause dramatic effects in the system.
Imagine getting into your car after a shopping trip. You realize that you have lost your key. Not having the key for the ignition is a small change with a large impact. The car system will not work. You wait for an hour in the rain for a bus, but it never arrives. Later, you find out that the bus ran over a nail and got a flat tire. That small nail made a big difference in the bus schedule. When you finally arrive home, dripping wet and three hours late, you flip on a light switch – and the light does not work. A bolt of lightning hit a pole by your house and knocked out the power. A bolt of lightning is a random event that, in the right place, can wreak havoc with the electrical system. All of these small changes had a dramatic effect on what would normally be certain and predictable results.
These concepts are powerful because they suggest you can influence a seemingly complex system by introducing a small change to the system. One small change can make remarkable and significant changes over time.
You might feel that your life is on a certain and predictable path. This leads you to believe that you can’t change this path and create a different life. However, by creating a vision and consciously making it a part of your reality, you make a change to the systems of which you are a part. Your vision is the small change that begins a cascade of effects. You can use your vision to influence the system you are in – your current reality – in your preferred direction.
Back to How do we Influence our Reality?
“Everything in the universe is interconnected. It is like a spider web. If you touch one part of the web, the entire web shimmers. We live in one integrated ecosystem.” ~ Matthew Flickstein
You are a part of many systems, such as work, family, and your community. Several ideas will be presented here that will help you to be happier and more successful within the systems in which you live.
The term “holistic” has emerged in the vocabulary of many areas of science. In the scientific view, systems consist of elements that are in mutual interaction. Systems theory provides a framework to understand the concept of “wholeness” and the interrelated quality of reality.
Everything is in relationship to everything else – events in the social and physical realms that seem unrelated are in fact connected. As human beings, we are not separate but subtly connected to each other and everything in the world. Vision taps into this web of reality to create the life we want. A vision acts similar to the connection between magnetic north and the magnetized needle in a compass. Vision (like magnetic north) possesses extraordinary attraction to draw energy and resources (the magnetized needle) toward it.
Your vision organizes the complex connections necessary to bring about your desire. A vision increases awareness of the connection between individual parts that you can link together into your desired future. Moreover, a vision does this without your managing or even understanding the complexity that brings about what you desire.
From the systems point of view, we influence and are influenced by reality through a concept referred to as “feedback loops.” Creating a vision and referring to it regularly is a feedback loop. When you create a vision that inspires you to take action, your actions have results that give you feedback. You can use this feedback to engage new actions.
We typically refer to feedback as either “negative” or “positive,” but positive and negative are labels rather than facts about the feedback itself. If you are not making the progress you want toward your desired vision, evaluate your current situation instead of focusing on feedback as either positive or negative. Become an observer rather than a participant of past and present events. This requires you to step back from the situation and look objectively and freshly at the information that surrounds you. Later, you can input this feedback into your actions by making choices.
It can also be helpful to become an observer when things are working well. This positive feedback gives you information about what actions work. Positive feedback provides encouragement and motivation to continue toward the vision.
The smallest change builds upon itself, moving you closer to the results you want. This is described as: “Whatever movement occurs is amplified, producing more movement in the same direction. A small action snowballs, with more and more and still more of the same, resembling compounding interest.” In a reinforcing feedback loop, it is important that you keep in mind your desired future reality so that your efforts continue to compound in the direction of your vision.
While there is movement within a feedback system, there are also delays. A delay is an interruption between actions and results. This is why continually referring to your vision is so important. Your vision is a guiding statement that can keep you on track during the delay between the current and future reality. The vision helps temper you, focusing your thoughts on the long-term, so that you don’t over-react or under-react to daily events.
By referring regularly to your vision as a guiding statement, you focus and refocus your efforts toward your priorities. When you remind yourself of your vision, it energizes your efforts. You reaffirm why you started the journey in the first place.
Step back from time to time, and observe your journey. As the observer, you can notice feedback that you can input into your journey toward your vision. Referring to the vision, becoming the observer, and using feedback are ways to maintain your momentum toward your desired outcome.
A feedback loop is a cycle of cause and effect relationships. Cause leads to effect, and effect leads to another cause, and so on. Your vision is the starting point of a feedback loop.
There are many examples of feedback loops in our lives. Take the example of a teacher’s expectation for students’ academic achievement. At the beginning of a term, a teacher may have the expectation (vision) that some students are high achievers and will advance to a greater academic degree than other students. This is the beginning of a feedback loop for those students’ academic performance.
Throughout the term, the teacher will consciously or unconsciously refer back to the expectation, “this is a high achiever,” when interacting with students. The teacher will initiate actions that may cause students to think and act in ways that reinforce the teacher’s original expectation. This will result in more actions by the teacher, causing a feedback loop in the direction of the original expectation. By the end of the term, it is likely that the students who were expected to be high achievers will in fact be more advanced academically than the students whom the teacher did not envision as high achievers.
This example illustrates how an expectation can positively influence the flow of cause and effect events in a feedback loop. Vision sets the flow of actions-results-actions in motion.
Let me narrate a scenario that illustrates the practical uses of feedback loops in overcoming obstacles. Let’s say, we (five friends) are on a backcountry ski trip in the Rocky Mountain National Park. The five of us set out on our adventure, intending to climb a mountain and ski down through fresh, untracked Colorado powder. We also have other, short-term visions for the day: not getting injured or buried in an avalanche, having fun, exercising, and enjoying each other’s company in the outdoors.
Our destination is a 10K+ foot mountain that would fulfill our desire for great skiing. We start our journey on a designated trail that meanders through the woods. After about a mile, we consult our map and head off the trail toward the mountain that would provide our downhill turns. After forty minutes of slogging up through the trees, we are not where we wanted to be. We gather to discuss our situation.
When orienteering in the mountains, feedback comes in many forms. We use a map, a compass, an altimeter and our most recent addition, a handheld GPS receiver. These tools give us feedback about our position in the environment. We also share our own feedback from the environment, such as the weather conditions and topography that we experience along the way, as well as our own physical conditions. Combining all this is important to the process of moving toward our desired destination (vision) when traveling in the backcountry.
In this case, our orienteering feedback tools indicate that we are off-course. We are encountering interruptions and delays as we move toward our vision. We express our disappointment and are concerned about putting in extra energy and fear we might even be lost.
We then exchange feedback with each other. We decide to change our route but continue toward our original destination. We recommit to our vision of reaching the top of the mountain and skiing down it. We continue to get feedback from our new route and remain on course. This feedback reinforces our confidence in our orienteering skills and use of equipment, and motivates us to keep moving toward our vision.
By revisiting the original vision and taking in feedback from the environment and ourselves, we neither under-react nor over-react to such obstacles as getting off course. We are able to adjust our route, refocus our energies, and take action toward our desired outcome.
We reach the summit of the mountain sooner than we have anticipated. We feel exuberant to have overcome obstacles along the way and to have reached our goal. Had we not revisited our vision and used the feedback from the environment and ourselves along the way, we might have really gotten lost and put ourselves in danger – and we might not have reached our exhilarating goal.
As an Everyday Visionary, you will always encounter obstacles and delays as you move toward your short or long-term vision. Observing feedback, inputting new information into your actions and connecting to your vision will help you flow with setbacks, instead of feeling stuck or frustrated, as you move toward your desired outcome. These are important tools that will help bring your dreams to life.
Ways to overcome obstacles on your journey:
· Quantum physics supports the notion that reality is not fixed or determined, but operates based upon potentials and relationships that we can influence.
· Sensitivity to initial conditions, a concept within the Chaos theory, supports the idea that a small change to a system, like your vision, can make remarkable and significant changes over time.
· Systems theory points out the interconnection that exists between you and everything that surrounds you. Your vision is a tool to make you aware of the connections that are most important to bring you what you desire.
This is the last article of series but, I cannot say for sure that I am not going to add more articles as there is always a possibility that something could turn up in my research in future.
It’s been an incredible journey these past few months while putting these articles together. The reader’s response is overwhelming which provided the much needed impetus to successfully completing the project. I had originally intended to write about 14 or 15 articles with the research material that I had gathered but, the interactions with colleagues and audiences resulted in expanding the scope of the topic and eventually ended up with 22 articles so far.
I would like to extend my gratitude to numerous friends and interesting suggestions from a number of readers that has helped me not only in maintaining my desire to complete the project but also producing a scholarly work that business leaders may want to practice the concepts presented in here.
As part of concluding this series, I would like to share an ancient Chinese story about a rainmaker who was hired to bring rain to a parched part of China. The rainmaker came in a covered cart, a small, wizened, old man who sniffed the air with obvious disgust as he got out of his cart, and asked to be left alone in a cottage outside the village; even his meals were to be left outside the door.
Nothing was heard from him for three days, then it not only rained, but there was also a big downfall of snow, unknown at that time of the year. Very much impressed, the villagers sought him out and asked him how he could make it rain, and even snow. The rainmaker replied, “I have not made the rain or the snow; I am not responsible for it.” The villagers insisted that they had been in the midst of a terrible drought until he came, and then after three days, they even had quantities of snow.
“Oh, I can explain that. You see, the rain and snow were always here. But as soon as I got here, I saw that your minds were out of order and that you had forgotten how to see. So I remained here until you could once again see what was always there right before your eyes.”
It is my hope that the ideas and strategies presented in these articles will show you how to look for different ways to think about your problems. When you do that, you will rethink the way you see things and, you, like the Chinese villagers, will see what is right before your eyes.
Enjoy your connections!
Dr Surya M Ganduri, PhD. PMP. is the Founder & President of eMBC, Inc., an international firm specializing in strategic and executive leadership development processes that Help People Succeed in an Evolving World. Dr Surya has over 28 years of business experience in management consulting, leadership development, executive coaching, process improvements, organizational development and youth leadership. For more information visit www.eMBCinc.com or contact eMBC, Inc., directly at (630) 445-1321.