Infinite Potential Filmmaker Paul Howard talks about Lessons from Physics & Philosophy
“We aren’t just things in space. We are places of transformation.”
Artist Sir Antony Gormley offers this reflection about an hour into the powerful documentary Infinite Potential. Filmmaker Paul Howard takes on a seemingly daunting task in this film. Infinite Potential examines the very nature of our reality, through the life and teachings of physicist and philosopher David Bohm.
While most schoolchildren have heard of Einstein, few of us may already be aware of the lifework of this extraordinary thinker, whose influences, personal relationships, teachers, colleagues, and students included not only Einstein, but notably J. Krishnamurti and H.H. the Dalai Lama.
This extraordinary film currently available through digital release is one of the many gifts of meaningful media of our present era.
Personally, I’ve watched Infinite Potential multiple times. According to my conversation with Paul Howard, I’m not the only one. And I plan to watch it again. With each viewing, I see something new. With each viewing, I have a greater appreciation for the nature of reality, in the realms both seen and unseen. A greater appreciation for the lessons of physics beyond the basics that I may have learned in school. And I have a much greater appreciation of the interconnectedness of our universal consciousness. Thanks to David Bohm as shared by Paul Howard.
I recently spoke to Howard, a filmmaking professional who has dedicated years of his life to a project that gives all of us a new appreciation of the true depth of our interconnectedness….personally and planetary.
LAYOGA: Tell me more about what it is like now that the film is released.
Paul Howard: It’s amazing all the new connections that have sort of come out of this film and the people who’ve come back for second and third viewings.
I can relate to that. I found that I definitely connected to the ideas in the film that describe our interconnectedness.
Paul Howard: To me the quantum potential is consciousness itself. It’s the informing action of consciousness that allows our physical universe to be. The first book of the Old Testament is Genesis and it’s all about the creation of the world. Well, the quantum potential is Genesis. It is actually informing everything that your sensory perception and your inner being is connected to.
The profound discoveries of David Bohm give rise to this idea of interconnectedness because in the quantum domain particles are able to communicate with one another, no matter how far apart they are. I think it’s very important to realize that when you get into the quantum world, our normal sensory perceptions of relative space and linear time break down.
You have no time in the quantum domain and you have no space. In other words, the distance between objects becomes entirely irrelevant.
In our everyday world of three dimensional space and time, we have to interpret our world through our sensory perceptions. But in the quantum domain, you have these particles that can mysteriously communicate with one another, no matter how far apart they are.
So a particle at one end of the universe can communicate with another particle. When you really think about these things, you realize, that we are all profoundly interconnected. Since we’re all made up of particles, we’re all interconnected.
I mean, it would seem logical than that we should be taking better care of one another and we should be more interested in nature and the environment and this household that we occupy called Planet Earth.
If your actions are incoherent or confused, you’re creating more confusion. You’re doing more damage to our interconnectivity.
Whereas, as we become more attuned to our inner sense of being, true presence, and entering that timeless domain—we become more conscious and more coherent.
Our alignment is producing more coherence and alignment in the world. As we begin to transform, we have the potential to transform others.
The world is a very fragmented place these days. And there’s a lot of confusion and incoherence out there. And the more people that come to realize that we are interconnected, I think that it can help them create a sense of positivity and coherence around them that impacts others and allows for transformation.
I often refer to it as this kind of network of mutuality. Whatever affects me directly affects us all indirectly. Interconnectivity is at the basis of all of that.
These are the big ideas that come out of Bohm’s quantum potential. Consciousness and interconnectivity. So there are two very big ideas.
I just want to commend you, because you have done such a beautiful job in the film. I’m impressed by your facility to explain this in a way that’s very understandable. That was something I noticed in the film— a film about a physicist who many of us have never heard of before. And you explain to these ideas people who aren’t not physicists themselves. How was that journey for you to translate those ideas?
Paul Howard: It’s a very interesting question. In hindsight, it’s lovely to hear people say that to me but it took a long time to get people interested in these ideas.
And then because of the global pandemic, we aren’t currently in theaters, festivals, seminars, or conferences or whatever. So we had to rethink how to distribute. Using the digital fields which connect us is something that I think Bohm would have been interested in doing since he was interested in interconnectedness.
But to answer your question, it was a terrifying moment when somebody said yes to investing in this film, because I had to find a way of expressing these ideas in a way that they could relate to the ordinary person.
I’m a filmmaker, but I’m not a physicist. By the way, I never heard about Bohm growing up. It was only fairly recently when I began to embrace his ideas. I was initially attracted to the philosophical side of these ideas of emergence.
And I always had an intuitive sense that there was another dimension of reality, out of which our everyday world emerged from.
But when I learned a little bit more about the physics. I could see that Bohm’s philosophical ideas were emerging from the physics.
There is a lot of literature out there about distilling our true potential inside of ourselves and getting a sense of meaning and purpose in life.
But what is beautiful about Bohm is that he gives you a beautiful philosophy of life and living but it’s rooted in physics. It emerges from this underlying reality which is the quantum world. So the philosophy is completely consistent with the physics. Bohm gives us a very elegant explanation of creation and our place within it. And, a beautiful philosophy of living.
As I learned more, I naturally wanted to interview people who were close to Bohm because I think that gives the film an organic quality. The work that Bohm did in physics has huge I refer to Bohm has spiritual implications. And in hindsight,
I’m thankful that I wasn’t a physicist myself because I was able to bring a kind of childlike questioning to the physicists. There were some of them that I had to go back and interview twice and three times because when I brought their interviews into the edit suite. I said, “Look, I’m not getting this and if I don’t get it, the ordinary person isn’t going to get it.” I had to do a slow decoding of all of this information to make it accessible to people. That was one of the big challenges.
Another big challenge was visualizing the concepts. I looked to nature to get this sense of unfolding. So there’s lots of clouds and waves breaking and beautiful images of nature that are carefully placed over what people are saying. It gives us a sense of the infinite quality in nature.
Then there were the other ideas of relative space and time breaking down at the quantum level. There’s a lot of abstraction here; the imagery create that sense like the outer space image, looking back to Earth, and the mystery of space. I decided to open the film with beautiful shots of the night sky and the so-called vast emptiness of space.
In the experience watching the film, I felt that you fulfilled on the cinematic quality of visually expressing these ideas. It is a bit of a transmission of the ideas themselves.
Paul Howard: I think that when you lock into something that really moves you as an artist, a filmmaker, or a writer and if you bring sincerity to that, it’s like the universe works with you.
We were so blessed and so lucky with the people we worked with on this film. We’re doing the project a great service and this echoes you see because one of Bohm’s great ideas is that the entire universe is contained in each and every part of the universe.
It’s not so much the parts that make the whole, it’s the whole that is contained in each and every part. The whole universe is contained in each and every part of it. And all of time is contained in each and every passing moment. These are such great, wonderful ideas.
That great sense of the mystery of looking at things in a different kind of way is what I wanted to express in the film.
How do you feel that this fits into your body of work as a filmmaker?
Paul Howard: I think that this this project was kind of waiting for me, even though I didn’t know about it.
When I was very young, and I’d go to the cinema, I always got completely lost in that reality up on the screen. I found it a strange feeling when the lights came on to shuffle out onto the street and go out into your real world.
I had this notion, of wondering if the reality that I’m now experiencing as I’ve come out of the cinema, could this be a kind of a movie? My friends would be amused because I would spin around at lightning speed to see if there was some projector behind me that was projecting this world. I
was also intrigued by the Biblical references like Jesus talking about how the Kingdom of Heaven is within you or the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. It spoke to me of another dimension of reality.
When I started to read about David Bohm, I saw how Bohm was just so full of all of these ideas. He brought together the science with this beautiful idea of consciousness itself. And consciousness that is always in motion. It’s never static or compete. It’s just a continuous process of unfolding and unfolding.
Another point about Bohm is that he doesn’t believe in the theory of everything. That science is suddenly going to wake up with all the answers.
Bohm’s idea is that when you get one answer, it’s going to raise another thousand questions. When you answer those thousand questions, you’ve got a million questions.
So he believed that there is an infinite quality in nature and continuous ongoing process. To me, he gives an absolutely elegant explanation of everything.
What is your hope for people watching the film?
Paul Howard: I hope that somehow, at the at the basic level, that people can just realize that we are one. That we recognize that we are part of an essential interconnectivity. This gives rise to the notion of our interdependence. If we respect our essential interconnectedness, then it’s just logical that we should be taking better care of one another and the planet and nature.
Watch Infinite Potential Online July 30
Meet one of the 20th century’s most brilliant physicists who Einstein called his “spiritual son” and the Dalai Lama, his “science guru.” Infinite Potential explores the revolutionary theories of David Bohm, a maverick physicist and explorer of consciousness who turned to Eastern wisdom to advance a theory about the interconnectedness of the universe and our place within it.
The Fetzer Memorial Trust is proud to present this mystical and scientific journey into the nature of life and reality featuring a special live stream event, The Heart & Science of Interconnectedness, a panel of science and spirituality experts discuss the film Infinite Potential: The Life and Ideas of David Bohm, 5 pm PST/8 pm EST on July 30th. Paul Panelists include Director and Producer, Paul Howard, Deb Rozman, President and CEO of HeartMath Inc. Mikey Siegel, Founder of Consciousness Hacking, Jud Brewer, Addiction Psychiatrist, Neuroscientist and Author and moderated by Trina Wyatt, Founder, and CEO of Conscious Good.
You can watch the film for FREE and RSVP for the event here!
Felicia Tomasko has spent more of her life practicing Yoga and Ayurveda than not. She first became introduced to the teachings through the writings of the Transcendentalists, through meditation, and using asana to cross-train for her practice of cross-country running. Between beginning her commitment to Yoga and Ayurveda and today, she earned degrees in environmental biology and anthropology and nursing, and certifications in the practice and teaching of yoga, yoga therapy, and Ayurveda while working in fields including cognitive neuroscience and plant biochemistry. Her commitment to writing is at least as long as her commitment to yoga. Working on everything related to the written word from newspapers to magazines to websites to books, Felicia has been writing and editing professionally since college. In order to feel like a teenager again, Felicia has pulled out her running shoes for regular interval sessions throughout Southern California. Since the very first issue of LA YOGA, Felicia has been part of the team and the growth and development of the Bliss Network.