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Nano Self Assembly and 21st Century Spirituality

“When you move from the micro dimension to the nano dimension,” one scientists told me, “matter starts to behave differently. It starts to behave as if it is alive.”

In years of reporting on the development of discoveries in the nano dimension, this theme repeats. Scientists use terms like “spooky” and “miraculous”. They are forced into a change of strategic approach, from dictating form to allowing form. “We cannot create anything,” explains one scientist, who is pioneering the nano-field of future solar cells, “All we can do is study and put down the conditions and environment in which the nano particles self assemble in a way that we would like.”

Self assembly is a key word in the nano-dimension. From chaos, according to environmental parameters, matter literally assembles itself in geometric form. Engineering this self assembly is at the core of the future nanotechnology applications that could revolutionize our civilization across the spectrum from medicine, to communications, through to renewable energy.

An early breakthrough in the nano field was the revelation that by using the self assembling power of DNA, it is possible to store all the information of the world’s libraries on a particle the breadth of a human hair. We are not there yet, but nano is certainly not a small deal, also in it’s implications for how we understand and allow the miracle of life.

 


 

Self Assembly and 21st Century Spirituality

Electron diffraction with five-fold rotational symmetry from the icosahedral phase.

Electron diffraction with five-fold rotational symmetry from the icosahedral phase.

1. Newtonian religious laws belong to a previous era.

The mechanistic approach to the art of living based on structures of morals placed upon the chaos of life would seem to be a thing of the past. Although our habitual, collective mind has yet to catch up and reframe itself, the spiritual quest is revealed more than ever as intimately connected with the allowance of the miracle of matter, and trust in the intelligence within the formation of each individual particle.

2. Liberation is not out of matter but through matter

When our beliefs are caught in the mechanistic micro field, it could seem that our human freedom can be found only in denying the physical, transcending its laws, and moving forever beyond body, mind, and feelings.

Discoveries of pure self-assembling beauty on the nanoscale would seem to suggest that the deeper freedom lies in the very ability to incarnate, to allow the mystery and miracle of matter, and to let it manifest through us in whatever way is needed according to the environmental whole.

Matter is not a limitation on the source of all we are. In fact, it could be closer to the source of all we are, if we only allow it.

A network of micro and nano-fluidic channels in polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS). Photographed through an epifluroescence microscope.

A network of micro and nano-fluidic channels in polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS).
Photographed through an epifluroescence microscope.

3. Time and Space are no limitation

From the creation of acoustic black holes, to demonstrations of atomic teleporting, the seeming fixed limitations of time and space start releasing in the nano dimension – at the core of matter. Again, this could call for a shift in attitude, where the ‘way out’ is not back up into the world of spirit, but through the very core of our physical manifestation.

4. Let it go, let it be, be for real as rules of form

For many spiritual seekers, the self-annihilation movement, leading to a liberation from the attachment to the forms of body, mind and feelings is the easy part of self development. It would be easy to stay there, in these existential states of peace, love, ecstasy and bliss, as if it were an end point. Yet in the shadows, we meet casualty after casualty in this. How can love continue to expand if its agenda is to be free of suffering? Suffering is part of who we are. How does the individual leave the satori and take up his job, family, community, financial hard-ship, while safe-guarding this precious ‘enlightenment’?

Light patterns that form spontaneously when a light beam passes through a nonlinear medium. Photographed through an optical microscope.

Light patterns that form spontaneously when a light beam passes through a nonlinear medium.
Photographed through an optical microscope.

Every principle of inner growth asks that we stay present, and wait for the needed forms to emerge in and of themselves. Integration with form is sometime not an easy process. The suffering that motivated the drive for liberation, is met again on the way back into regular life. The question of how to take form can boil down to fundamental issues with human existence itself.

From the magnificent self assembling principles of the nano dimension we can learn the highest art of unconditional trust. This means that we can truly release agenda of having to “do” something, “serve” somebody, “get” somewhere. It involves the trust that each and every form that arises – through ourselves (on all layers) or through others – is of service to the whole. There is no resistance in this – only the allowance of self assembly of the transient person in space. More often than not, if we allow it, what emerges is a far deeper human manifestation of life and beauty.

 


Just how small is “nano?” In the International System of Units, the prefix “nano” means one-billionth, or 10-9; therefore one nanometer is one-billionth of a meter. It’s difficult to imagine just how small that is, so here are some examples:

  • A sheet of paper is about 100,000 nanometers thick
  • A strand of human DNA  is 2.5 nanometers in diameter
  • There are 25,400,000 nanometers in one inch
  • A human hair is approximately 80,000- 100,000 nanometers wide
  • A single gold atom is about a third of a nanometer in diameter
  • On a comparative scale, if the diameter of a marble was one nanometer, then diameter of the Earth would be about one meter
  • One nanometer is about as long as your fingernail grows in one second