The Possibility Level of Reality

The 2nd in a 9-post series on Perceived Levels of Reality

I will start by describing the experience of one of these three levels.  You experience possibility, all around you, all of the time.  You see possibility in what you will do when you wake up in the morning, what you want for breakfast, how you will get to work, and how you will engage with your family.  You see possibilities in all of the creative moments of your life, surprising yourself with infinite gifts of unexpected inspiration.  People even call it light when this happens.  You were glowing today.  You were shining in that performance.  You are the sunshine in my life.  You brighten up my day.  I can see the light in your eyes.  You are radiating.  The light is the realm of infinite possibility from which you pull everything.  You know this.  The difference between “it is just a possibility” and “it will probably happen” is real.  It describes your experience of when a possibility in the light form shifts into a probability that is in the process of manifesting in the verb form.

I have explored this level of perceived reality with many people over the last couple of years.  To be a little playful, like in conversations in the past chapter, I delve into the possibility-light level, to see if people actually ever perceive reality this way.  I often start with experiences many have had.  Have you ever welcomed a new person into your life?  This could be a new friend, or someone marrying into your family.  Have you had the experience of knowing that you connected with this person, and that you were going to be great friends?  That they would fit well into your family?  Most people tell me, “Yes.”  I then ask, “How do you know they will fit?”  The typical response is, “You just do.”  I push a little more, “How?”  They look at me unclear why I am asking the obvious, “You can just feel it.”  I clarify, “So, you can just feel whether someone you do not know will be a good friend or a welcomed member of the family?”  “Yep!”  I dig a little more, “How?”  “You can see it in their eyes.”  Okay.

I then try another experience, asking if they have ever hired someone to work for them.  Many say yes.  What I want to understand is how they knew the person could do the job.  From a purely rational perspective, it seems that the only way to know that someone can do any given job is that she is already doing the job.  Right?  So, the only people you hire to do a job are already doing the job.  Now people look at me weird – that does not make sense.  They tell me, “I would not hire someone to do a job, if they are already doing the job.  I hire someone who is not yet doing the job.”  Playing incredulous, I ask, “Really?  Then how do you know they can do the job?”  A woman in a lecture in Mexico City cleared this up, by saying, “There are basically two different cases here.  In one case, I hire someone who is already doing a similar job, elsewhere.  In the other case, I hire a person who has never done anything like this before.”  To see if I am clear, “In one case, they have demonstrated similar capacities elsewhere, and you think they might be able to bring the same proven capacities to your work environment.  In the other case, they have not yet proven they have the capacities.”  Everyone nods their head, typically, telling me that this is their experience.  I start with the first case, “You then believe that a person with proven capacities, who can do the work elsewhere, say the bookkeeping process, in another group, can probably do it in your group?”  People usually clarify here, “Over time.  It will take them a while to acclimate to our culture and processes.  But, yes, I can see that they can do this.”  I reply, “Fine.  You have convinced me that you can do this.”  Now to the second case.  I dive in, “How do you know someone will be able to do the job, if they have never proven they can?”  The response I have heard, over and over again, in English, Spanish, German, and Dutch (the last two through translators), is that, “You can just see it in them.  When you meet someone, you can see the potential in them.  There is a light in their eyes.  When I see this, I know they will fit well.”  Here I push back, to check whether this is an experience common to everyone in the group.  So far, most everyone agrees.  “Yes, I can see this, and often I am right.”  Okay.  So, people actually seem to know something about people before the physical evidence of it ever shows up.  They call this potential their light.

You might also experience this possibility in relationship to your own self.  Have you ever been inspired by the thought of a new experience, an experience that you had never tried before?  Maybe it was cooking a new meal, like a Spanish paella or a pasta dish.  Maybe you saw yourself learning to play the fiddle, harmonica, or flute.  Maybe you saw yourself sitting on a beach or rafting down a river.  Even though you might never have had that experience before, somehow you knew you could.  You could see it in you.  I think I can.  And, it feels quite natural.  This is the potential you see in your own self.  The you that just has not shown up yet.  Just because you have not done it yet, does not mean that you cannot do it.  It is your next experience.  I suggest that you do this all of the time.

When sharing these experiences, people often suggest another, related experience.  A woman in Germany told me, “I also experience this with a new group of people.  Last year, as I began to form a sports team, I could see clearly how we might perform together.  It was very exciting.”  Have you had the experience of seeing a group of people achieving certain outcomes, performing together, before they ever came together?  How did you know that it would work?  Again, people have convinced me, “You can just see the potential.”

Thus, it seems that people see the potential in themselves, in others, in groups, and in many new situations.  They seem to do this all of the time, seeing into the potential, the possibility, and they experience this seeing as very real.  So real that they make significant decisions based on this potential they see.  They describe this knowing, this level of reality, in terms of light.

Is the possibility level just a perceived reality, with light being just a metaphor for the experience?  The science of physics suggests that the potential or possibility in a system also exists on the physical plane, and that it can be measured.  Since what we see in possibility seems to be related to the light we see in it, I will start with what physics says about light-energy.

Physics defines light as electromagnetic radiation, which is energy in the form of transverse magnetic and electric waves.[1]  Said another way, light is energy, and it travels very fast, at the speed of light.  Furthermore, Einstein showed that everything in the universe travels at the speed of light.[2]  Everything.[3]  Now this gets a bit complex, so I will try to simplify.  Basically, everything moves through space-time, through an interweaving of space and time, at the speed of light.  Some of it moves mostly through space and barely through time, while some of it travels mostly through time and barely through space.  This is a mind twister.  The relevance is that to move at the speed of light, in space-time, everything has a relationship to this light.  While people usually think of light as what they see, the light shining from the sun or from a lamp, physics uses the term much more broadly.  Now I will add a second piece to what physics shows us.  Science also makes another mental leap.  It suggests that at the quantum level – a very, very small level – everything exists in fields of potential.[4]  The photon is both there and not there, everywhere.  Now, for one last leap, Einstein showed conceptually and rigorous research supported experimentally that energy and matter are two different forms of the same thing: matter is stored energy, and energy is liberated matter.  E=mc2.  Related by the speed of light multiplied by itself, a very large number, this equation shows that there is an immense amount of energy in all material things.  Sometimes people see it, usually very little is seen.  This is interesting, because it becomes a question of how – how to see more of the extraordinary energy resident in the thing.  To sum up and pull together these three insights from physics, everything is related to light and exists as potential everywhere in space-time.  This is what people said, from their own experience of seeing their own self – I can see the potential in the light in your eyes.  You shine.

Connecting the scientific perspective of physics back to the creative human expression, in their book, initially published by the Harvard Business School Press, the Zanders see that, “All around us is vibrancy and energy.  The universe is sparking with generative power.  But how do we tap into the source – where can we find an electric socket for vitality?  Do we have to pump up the energy on our own to carry out the day, or can we catch the current of another wellspring beyond ourselves?  Suppose for a moment that vital, expressive energy flows everywhere, that it is the medium for that existence of life, and that any block to participating in that vitality lies within ourselves.”[5]

I want to bring in one more distinction here about the experience of the possibility level of reality.  A friend of mine refers to this experience as living in vertical time.  In vertical time, you experience “no time.”  Have you ever realized that you have no idea how much time has passed?  It felt like seconds and it could have been hours.  Often associated with deep reflection or meditation, this is when you experience vertical time. This is what happens when you access the light levels of possibility.  In vertical time, as light, everything travels at the speed of light, thus there is no time in the space-time continuum, and therefore infinite possibility is always there, as there is no time that experiences the change.


[1] As described in (“Shorter Oxford English Dictionary,” 2007).  Some physics dictionaries refer to light only in the realm visible to the human eye, electromagnetic radiation having a wavelength of 400-750nm, while this dictionary includes the invisible realm outside of the realm visible to the human.

[2] Physicist Brian Greene describes the logic and math of Einstein’s observation that everything travels through the four dimensions of space-time at the speed of light (Greene, 2003, pp. 50, 392n).

[3] In physics, there is an understanding that everything in the universe is moving at the speed of light, which includes us.   What gets tricky is how to understand what it means to travel at the speed of light through space-time.  The amount of energy that this represents is mind-bogglingly huge.  At the equivalent of 670 million miles per hour, when I walk at 5 milers per hour through space, all of the rest of my energy goes into moving through time.  Moving through time takes a very large amount of energy, energy humans barely notice.  Walking down the path to my house, Einstein suggested that I am crushing through the time dimension of space-time, with most of my light-speed, and barely moving through the space dimensions of space-time.   The relevance of this here is two-fold.  First, an enormous amount of energy goes into the ability to move through time.  You experience two forms of this energy used in moving through time, which we can characterize as horizontal time and vertical time.  In horizontal time, you experience “the passing of time.”  In vertical time, you experience “no time.”  Have you ever realized that you have no idea how much time has passed?  It felt like seconds and it could have been hours.  Often associated with deep reflection or meditation, this is when you experience vertical time. This is what happens when you access the light levels of possibility.  In vertical time, as light, everything travels at the speed of light, thus there is no time in the space-time continuum, and therefore infinite possibility is always there, as there is no time that experiences the change.  If you have this experience, I suggest you know the experience of moving at light-speed through both space and through time.  You do this because you are a light-being, Homo lumens.

The second part of light-speed that is relevant is that a huge amount of energy is required to transfer something from the light realm of the possible, where time seems to disappear, since all energy is given to moving through space and not time, to the verb realm of this world.  The amount of energy required can only come from something equally large – light itself.  Thus, if you move at the speed of light through space-time, and you work in both the light realm of the possible and the verb-noun realms of the probable, then you must be a form of light.  The funny thing is that this shocking statement does not actually surprise most people, upon reflection.   Listen to how people talk about their own self.  He sure is bright.  What a shining light.  You lighten up my life.  I am delighted.  She is enlightened.  You are glowing.

[4] Two recent texts bring together many of the seminal papers on quantum theory (Hawking, 2011) and an interesting story of the field (Baggott, 2011).

[5] This description of the experience of possibility provides yet another example of how people describe their experience of life in terms of vibrancy, energy, and light (Zander & Zander, 2002, p. 113).

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24 thoughts on “The Possibility Level of Reality

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