Spirit and Matter

The aim of alchemy is to bring spirit and matter into a living relationship. It aims to unify religious knowledge, scientific research and the art of refining matter.

Spirit and Matter

Alchemy can be compared to juggling three balls, with one of them always up in the air. With the beginning of the Enlightenment, this delicate balance broke, and the development of material science took a different course. Thinking of mind and matter in a unified context, thus became impossible for a time. This changed with the insights of quantum physicists.

Thus, from the beginning of the Middle Ages, alchemy became a secret science. Many princes in the European ruling houses, maintained their own laboratories, in which they employed alchemists. Many important inventions, such as porcelain or spagyric remedies, originated in these laboratories. What was special about alchemy was its close link between spiritual knowledge and material research. With the beginning of the modern age, when the natural sciences began their triumphant advance, alchemy receded, and the close connection between spirit and matter slowly disappeared in European culture.

At the beginning of the modern era, science replaced the supremacy of religion, and became the driver of a new world view. Whereas religion had previously ruled over science, science now became the catalyst of a new world view. The image of the sober, enlightened human being was before its eyes. The world was to become ‘explainable’. The discoveries in the field of mechanics changed people’s daily lives. The facilitation of mechanization led to a material prosperity that increasingly pushed questions of the meaning of life out of man’s consciousness. The firm belief that motivated many scientists towards a higher achievement, was the dream of one day being able to uncover all the secrets of nature using scientific methods, and thus finally opening the unknown world to human understanding. With the beginning of the 20th century, this particular approach of alchemy returned to science through the development of quantum physics.

The separation of spirit and matter

With this radical break between science and religion, alchemy also lost its potency at the courts of princes. Man lost the ability to illuminate the interplay of spirit and matter, and thus serve as a fertile breeding ground for a comprehensive world view. What was special about alchemy was its balance between its spiritual quest, and its material research. Charlatans began to use alchemical methods, and caused damage to its reputation from which it never recovered. However, in the form of quantum physics, approaches to alchemy returned in an effort to reconnect spirit and matter. Quantum physics can be seen as alchemy’s modern sister, as it posed the question of the interplay between mind and matter in a new way.
After more than 200 years in which modern science had constantly sought to understand the inner structure of matter, quantum physics had to experience how it lost this understanding in its consistent focus on the subatomic world.
Werner Heisenberg, one of the great pioneers of quantum physics, at a young age sought to know what it is that holds the world together at its core. Perhaps he didn’t realize at the time that his quest was about to put the foundations of science on a completely new foundation. Until then, scientists were primarily interested in the structure of matter, which they investigated down to the microscopic level. The question was: what did the smallest invisible particles that make up visible matter, look like?

Werner Heisenberg’s question was not looking for form, but for the effect of force. With this change in direction, he and other physicists encountered the paradox of “wave-particle dualism”. What was special about the scientists of quantum physics, was that, from the outset, they did not reject the presence of the divine. In their philosophical treatises on quantum physics, they often sought answers that shed more light on the connection between spirit and matter. In order to be able to ask the question about the “inner connection” at all, the deep rift between science and religious philosophy had to be overcome first.
Max Planck, the founder of quantum physics, assumed that behind everything he could measure and experience as a physicist, there must be a fundamental force that generates all life. In order to obtain unambiguously reproducible results in its research, it was necessary to include the concept of ‘life’ again, which science had consistently eliminated from its questions up until now. Life is an experienced effect of spirit, from which we generate our dual reality, which until then had been the subject of science. Behind life stands the spirit as a potential active force. On this level there is a reality that has the potential to become Reality.
Matter is coagulated spirit

The question of reality, is highly abstract, and open to individual experience. We notice very quickly when we exchange with other people, that ‘reality’ is not communicable. An exchange of experiences is possible; an agreement can be reached if the interlocutor has similar experiences and confirms: this or that is true. Even then, he does not understand what is being experienced by his interlocutor at that moment, but there is a resonance with his own experience that makes the interlocutor’s words comprehensible.

So, if we want to communicate something about ‘reality’ to a person, we must first become that reality. If we are what we say, then a resonance is created in which the information is transferred to the listener. More precisely, the two interlocutors then resonate in the same reality. If this exchange of information is to become fruitful, the pure spirit effect must become a living reality for them in an initial coagulation process. C.G. Jung spoke of archetypes in this context. Archetypes are a first coagulation process that contains a hardly imaginable spiritual vitality for a person strongly attached to matter.

The quantum physicist Hans-Peter Dürr says: “Matter is coagulated spirit.” This coagulation process is always associated with a loss of spirit and ‘aliveness’. It can progress in stages and finally end in a purely material state. Then we arrive at dead matter. The alchemists spoke of the caput mortuum. It is that part of matter which is absolutely no longer transformable. But perhaps it only appears dead to us because its rate of change has become so inconceivably small that we no longer perceive it at all. Changes must always occur in matter as well, because matter is also an aspect of the spirit and the spirit is always in creative motion. Hans Peter Dürr describes in his lectures that this “process of coagulation” is irreversible, i.e. not reversible, and that matter no longer participates in evolution at this level.

This view of the materialization of spirit probably needs to be looked at more closely, since an irreversible process would mean that there are processes of creation that have an end.

The emergence of the laws of nature

Quantum physics, “holistic physics”, is a completely new way of understanding the world. Hans-Peter Dürr calls quantum physics holistic because he assumes that behind everything visible and measurable there is an all-connecting field, whose active force he calls ‘potentiality’. This field is pure vitality and in constant change. Seen in this way, spirit is life and creativity and thus has a certain polarity to matter. When spirit generates movement, there is no more in it than an inkling, a ‘diffusion of something’, but not yet a thought. This field of potentiality contains inklings and is capable of forming habits. Very comprehensive, fundamental habits, form the laws of nature. The habits are thereby the formation of certain forms along which spirit moves.

There is a little story about the discovery of quantum mechanics. Max Planck tried to imagine how energy moves within matter. He came up with the idea that this is not a straight and steady flow, but that packets of force or light, called quanta, move together or seek a common path. It can be compared to a window pane against which raindrops strike. When enough of them have joined together, a trickle of water forms on the pane. This trickle first follows in a specific path. Once it has formed, the water always flows along the same path. At the beginning, no one knows why it takes this particular path and no other. Something like a ‘flow habit’ develops. One can now say that the water will take this path each time. This typical form with which the energy then develops habitual structures, is what classical physics call natural laws.

In a next step, the spirit coagulates into matter on these paths. This coagulation process leads it to the end of its ability to change. With this, the materialized spirit exits evolution. It is the heat death of the cosmos, which occurs because matter finally arrives at its lowest energy level, where further energy is lacking for any change. Here a state is described, which, however, cannot meaningfully represent an end point, but in mythologies, philosophies or religions only describes one half of a cycle. Under the terms “rebirth from water and spirit” in the Christian tradition, the “transfiguration” of the Rosicrucians, or the return of the Buddhists to Nirvana, a path is described which, through a structural regeneration of the atomic substance, reverses its coagulation process and restores the original coherence. And perhaps the quantum physicists also knew about this possibility, which made Werner Heisenberg, for example, spend his life searching for a world formula.


You tube Video: Hans-Peter Dürr: Das Geistige ist die treibende Kraft.

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Date: September 13, 2023
Author: Heiko Haase (Germany)
Photo: disc by Manuel on Pixabay

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