The Daheshist Journey
Daheshism is a way of life that came about as an expression of hope and faith in a universe that the Creating Force designed and that is just. That expression came about as a result of many physical occurrences that manifested themselves when Dr. Dahesh, the founder of the Daheshist mission, was present. These occurrences, which many consider miracles, went against every established law of physics and launched a great debate that is still growing today. This essay is a preamble to others that will visit the world of Daheshism in hopes of generating a fresh dialogue that seeks harmony among science, art, mythology, philosophy, and moral and social codes, to name a few. Please note that I said "harmony," not "unity." That is because Daheshism believes in individuality tempered by a common goal. Thus, a balance is achieved. As to the goal, let me say that throughout this series, you will see references to Gestalt and Holism.
For those who are unfamiliar with these crucial, yet subtle terms, I would like to paint a picture: Consider the painting I call "Final Harvest." Now let us dissect it into the elements that make it what it is, a combination of form and meaning. If one analyses only some parts, one might assume that this painting is about tensile structures. Other parts might indicate that it is a painting depicting space. Other parts show juggling Martians in cool organic chrome suits. Only when we see the image as a whole can we form an idea about what the painting is saying to us. Ironically, sometimes not even putting the parts together forms the whole or the Gestalt! Sometimes an inner experience is needed to bridge this gap-a missing link that could be as small as an intuition, yet vast as the universe. And that is the secret behind understanding the "big picture."
Humans are beings who, although they have a holistic knowledge of their universe, need constant reaffirmation and contact with their origins. This is not easy, since their senses are limited. So they attempt to build a picture of their universe from bits and pieces of information, but alas, all they end up with is a Tower of Babel. Here, the assumption is that learning for the sake of learning is good. Learning for the sake of proving the existence of a universe that may or may not run according to one's belief is also good...to a certain point.
Science, One Point of View
The more science looks into the universe, the more questions appear. That is all right, since science is concerned only with description, not interpretation. However (and you have to be a Westerner to appreciate this), most of us perceive the world in discrete chunks. On the one hand, physics describes; on the other hand, philosophy interprets; and on the third hand, fanatics may say, "We were told how things are and that is good enough for us." The bottom line is that we cannot understand the universe from its mere parts. We need a holistic view. Now, this is actually impossible to achieve-in terms of using a spoken language, that is. Traditionally, as in this essay, we need to put ideas down in a progression, a linear pattern. But the linear progression always leaves out something that could only be imagined in a flash of intuition. Yet intuition by itself is often wrong. That is why I think Dr. Dahesh encouraged the love of knowledge, if only to realize the true meaning of the miracles, or as I like to call them, Daheshist Events.
Completing the Picture
These Daheshist Events challenge us to come to terms with some concepts we might take for granted: belief and knowledge. Ironically, the more the observer of these events is conversant with the latest laws of physics, the more questions arise. Therefore, a journey of self-discovery is begun during which the traveler agonizes over the apparent paradoxes until he or she reaches a make-or-break point and experiences a revelation and surrenders while maintaining freedom-walking away without feeling beaten or less of a person for having done so. The only way out of a stalemate is to walk away with the belief that you have won.
This point is important to review, because each of us wants to be free to make our own choices in life. Yet, Daheshist Events present a door into a world one might resist at first: History and mythology are full of unwilling heroes. In fact, that is why many of them appeal to us, because we identify with them. The character of Han Solo in the Star Wars trilogy is a good example. Here is a man who has a love/hate relationship with his sense of duty! Fortunately for his friends, and the audience, he gave in to the good side of the Force. Now, you might ask me: "Is this journey from hell you are describing really an eventuality?" The answer to that is, who knows? But be prepared, because history saw at least one time when one man-an icon-decided not to believe in an interpretation of reality even though the evidence was undeniable. I am talking about Albert Einstein.
Before Einstein, Western civilization believed in the deterministic world view. That view was the result of Sir Isaac Newton's discovery in the seventeenth century of the laws of motion and gravity. His laws described a universe independent of human will. The world was viewed as a huge and precise clock. Everything in it happened according to causal relationships on the grand scale, and only God could see the totality of these events. Therefore, eternity would have been already planned, and no matter what mere humans did, they could not alter the plan, because they were the results of that plan. Therefore (and here the Church smiled), don't ask why! Oh, and by the way, the universe was absolute. Even the theories of the nineteenth century, thermodynamics and the theory of light as an electromagnetic wave, were designed to fit this strict deterministic view.
Before we go on any further, I would like to address those who are not sure about the difference between "wave" and "particle": Next time you are taking a bath, and you have a toy duck in the tub....The duck in this case is a particle. Now create a wave by lifting some water and letting it fall back into the tub. Note the formation of waves, and note that the duck is going up and down, not moving with the wave. In other words, the water and the duck, both of which are made of particles, are affected by a wave that causes them to move up and down. Of course, you could have cheated and created a current in the tub by moving your hand like a fish tail! But that doesn't count....
Understanding this fundamental notion is crucial when reading about the exciting events in physics that I will touch on very briefly.
Seeing the Light
At one point, science turned its focus on observing the nature and propagation of light. At that time, there was no concept of atoms or photons. There were particles and there were waves. Light was thought of as a wave-actually a combination of electric and magnetic fields that move through space like water (Maxwell's theory). It had a finite speed, yet no one knew how this wave was carried. Therefore, the concept of the "ether" was invented to resolve that issue. Einstein reasoned that there must be something wrong with the assumption that light is a wave, simply because if you were able to catch up to it, it would appear still-a standing wave of electric and magnetic fields, which was not permitted in Maxwell's theory.
Even before Einstein, scientists attempting to study the ether by conducting experiments that would study the apparent movement of light, which supposedly was carried by the ether, observed something strange: Although light had a measurable speed, its speed was absolute! In other words, regardless of our speed and direction of movement relative to a beam of light, its speed will always appear the same to us. That revelation threatened the world of Newton because it had no quantifiable explanation. How can anything appear to have the same speed regardless of how fast the observer moves?
Einstein made the radical assumption that time is not absolute. What we sense as "time" depends on many factors. For example: Imagine two women in a mall, each wearing the same brand of watch. They synchronized their watches and decide to separate for one minute only, and then rendezvous. Now, imagine one of them jumps in a mall cart that catapults her close to the speed of light-this way, she can really shop! The other decides to stroll. One minute elapses, and they meet at the designated place. All is fine except that when they decide to compare their watches, they realize that they show a great discrepancy! Yet both would swear that only a minute went by-from their respective point of view, that is.
Time is a vague notion. It is not palpable like a "chair" or a "book," although some will say to me, "Neither is the chair or the book, because they are both made of energy, which in itself is a vague notion!"
The other daily evidence of the relativity of time is when we are waiting for a bus or an elevator, or when we are speaking on the phone. No wonder telephone ads say, "Call the ones you love." They know that we will talk with no sensation of time whatsoever. Ever heard the expression "A watched pot never boils?"
As for Einstein, he not only saved the Newtonian world from extinction-he also helped its destruction! Now there is a paradox!
Einstein paved the way for quantum physics, which deals with observing and quantifying the events that happen at the smallest possible level: the quantum level. However, when observed, those events showed that the particles that ultimately make up the world behaved randomly. The key observation that paved the way to such a conclusion had to do with a simple electron gun and a wall with two holes. It was noticed that under certain conditions, the electron "bullets" behaved like particles: Each entered one hole or the other. Under other conditions, the electrons behaved like waves: Each entered both holes at the same time!
What was interesting about this observation was the fact that the observer, while trying to take measurements of these electron bullets, participated in the outcome of the experiment. For example, by shining light, which is made of photons, on the flow of electrons, the observer was able to shift them from one state to another. That was a scary thought: Can you imagine being able to change reality simply by observing it? Which gives meaning to the question, "If a branch falls in the forest and there is nobody to hear it fall, will it make a sound?"
As to the experiment, it was decided that this duality between wave and particle meant the following: What was observed was a sort of probability between one state or the other. The fact that we can actually interfere in the outcome and force the electron to behave either as a particle or as a wave is the equivalent of attempting to film a family going about its business. Imagine the director saying, "Now act as if the camera, crew, the lawyers, the insurance company, the publicist, and the buyer of the movie are not here...ACTION!" In other words, we can never "really" know how these tiny things that make up the world behave. In fact, there is no such thing as "strictly" a particle or a wave; the universe is made up of...Wavicles!
The Daheshist Equation
Then, to really complicate matters (and you have to have a sense of humor to appreciate the irony), enter Dr. Dahesh, a notable man of thought and author of countless books who built a museum and who had the peculiar ability, although he seldom admitted it openly, to bend time and space. The irony here is that his phenomena, in my opinion, prove that all the points of view, whether determinist or statistical, are valid-only if viewed separately. Which brings me back to the issue of Gestalt.
But first, the specifics:
Some Daheshist Events point to a world run by fate. No matter what we do, certain events will happen, thus supporting the objective view of deterministic physics.
Other Daheshist Events point to a world run by choice. Hence, the observer of the world can participate in its outcome, thus supporting the quantum theory.
Analysis, Mister Chakkour!
Now, I know what you are thinking: "Where are the formulae that describe the Daheshist Events?" Well, there are none. Think of Daheshism as an alternative science. It complements rather than voids. In fact, Daheshism, contrary to popular belief, is not concerned with proving the validity of one reality over the other. Rather, it presents us with at least one more version of reality. For example, Daheshist Events show palpable evidence of other dimensions and worlds that exist either independently or as a result of ours. Also, Daheshist Events show that light speed is not the speed limit of the universe. In fact, there are higher speeds.
Daheshist Events show evidence that energy travels between dimensions at speeds only imaginable in the mind. And for you Sci-fi lovers, Daheshist Events show that the universe is a temporary illusion! Each one of us is actually experiencing what would be the equivalent of a dream. Furthermore, we are neither "here" nor "there"; we exist everywhere. Only the fact that a discrete amount of our energy has located itself in this plane of existence causes us to feel that we are here. In fact, we on Earth, or what we think of as Earth, are one of an infinite number of versions of the same being. It is because of these versions that we feel conflict. But I digress!
Does that mean I believe in telepathy and action at a distance? No, and that is by choice, because I think that those who believe in telepathy based on quantum physics are misinterpreting the experiments. I believe there are mechanisms that would make such things as telepathy possible. Dreams are a good example. Many, including myself, have had prophetic dreams. Yet, because I am deterministic as well as a believer in the statistical nature of the universe, and because my intuition tells me, I cannot believe that we can communicate telepathically at will. The point I am making is that being able to find a balance between the two states of reality is what I call the Daheshist Rite of Passage.
The Daheshist Rite of Passage
Years ago, I asked a woman whom I considered conversant with the Daheshist principles why she did not use seat belts. Her explanation was simple and to the point, and I paraphrase: "Whether I wear my seat belt or not has no bearing on the outcome should I get into an accident. When my time has come, it would be futile on my part to try to escape the inevitable!"
That made a lot of sense to me. On the other hand, that same person attempted to take as good care of her ailing health as money could buy. And when I asked her why she even bothered taking medication her reply was simple and to the point as well, and here again I paraphrase: "God gave me a body, my duty is to take care of it to the best of my abilities; as such I do my best, and if all fails in spite of that then it was meant to be."
And that too, made sense to me, and I had no idea why. Partly it was due to my youth and lack of experience with nuance and also my limited knowledge of the makeup of the universe as interpreted by recent findings in the field of physics, among other disciplines. Before I go on, please let me clear the air about one point: I am not advocating the use or nonuse of seat belts! I am merely pointing out that Daheshism is as much about the details as it is about the whole. A sort of Zen: every word, thought, and gesture matters, including the rituals. Yet the rituals, words, and thoughts have no positive meaning by themselves unless applied holistically, and that takes skill-just as it takes skill that cannot be taught to be a graceful and fluid ballerina, or a sushi chef.
Nor I am judging that person's personal choice. In fact, I later understood, when it was my time to do so, that this woman was going through an inner conflict that was the result of a Journey many of us have taken or will undertake in order to evolve and to become closer to understanding the universe, and Daheshism is a part of this universe. In the process, we are torn apart before becoming whole again. That seems to be the universal law: Change and conflict are inseparable. Until, hopefully, bliss is found and the individual, now a "hero," comes back and declares that the universe is simple, and thus opens the way to others to make the same journey. As to those "heroes" who have made the journey, other ladders await them.
My Daheshist journey started long after I experienced the Daheshist Events first-hand. This was a journey toward understanding as well as a journey of surrender/victory. And I would like to distinguish that from my belief in Daheshism, which I feel began at the age of five, which makes an argument for some theories in genetics dealing with predetermination: No matter what my environment was, my genes were programmed to make me a Daheshist, as they were programmed to make me an artist-but that is another article altogether, where I would like to focus on the relationship between reason and faith.
It's a Wrap
As I mentioned above, in the beginning, I rely on my intuition tempered with knowledge. They are complementary, and one without the other would be devoid of value. When faced with too much information, intuition is often our savior, the link to the whole. The opposite also applies. In fact, they form a closed loop: Knowledge yields questions, questions yield intuitive notions, intuitive notions require knowledge to give them validity, and so on.
Take Einstein's Theory of Relativity, for example. He intuitively knew that time was not absolute. It took him a ten-year journey to come to this simple, yet radical statement. And although he could not prove it at the time, he knew it had to be true. He was proven right when tools were invented that could confirm a few of his predictions. However, his predictions helped open the window into the quantum world, which, as observed, negated anything Einstein believed!
It is important to learn about Daheshism or any discipline that positively reinforces the unity of the universe-not based on hysteria or dogma or even proof, but based on the vital need for such a world view. And here I share the opinion of Joseph Campbell an the importance of myths on our society. Daheshism brings all the myths of the past into a new light, even if sometimes it confronts us with paradoxes, such as the duality between having choice and not having choice.
And to those who thought Daheshism-and life-was about black and white, and who are saying, "Paradoxes? We've never noticed any paradoxes," I say, "Welcome, we've been expecting you! Oh, and fasten your seat belts!"
Mario Henri Chakkour, AIA
"Final Harvest" by Mario Henri Chakkour