According to a commonly held idea, ancient cultures saw a unified creation, while we moderns look on a fragmented and divided world. The decline of faith has been blamed for this, as has the absence of myth, traditions, and social bonding. But I believe the opposite is true: The ancient way of understanding could barely explain a sliver of all the phenomena in nature, while physics today is on the verge of a “theory of everything.”
The eminent physicist John Wheeler makes a crucial point when he says that before Einstein, human beings thought that they were looking at nature “out there,” as if through a plateglass window, trying to figure out what external reality was doing.
Thanks to Einstein, we realize that we are embedded in nature; the observer changes reality by the very act of observation. Therefore, despite a widespread feeling of psychological alienation (the result of technology’s outstripping our ability to keep meaning alive), the duality of man and nature is shrinking with each successive generation.
Nature loves efficiency, which is very odd for something supposedly working at random. When you drop a ball, it falls straight down without taking unexpected detours. This expenditure of least energy, also called the the law of least effort, covers human beings, too. Cause and effect aren’t just linked; they are linked in the most efficient way possible.
This argument also applies to personal growth–the idea that everyone is doing the best he or she can from his or her own level of consciousness.
Adapted from The Book of Secrets, by Deepak Chopra (Harmony Books, 2004).