Mind

Interview with Paul Howard

by Trina Wyatt

Interview with Paul Howard

Interview with Paul Howard

Trina: 

Recently I had the privilege of watching the film, “Infinite Potential: The Life and Ideas of David Bohm” and spoke with its creator, Paul Howard. Paul is a Producer, Director, and Executive Producer of international repute with an enviable track record in documentary, television series and most recently in feature production.  Paul, what inspired you to become a visual storyteller? A filmmaker?

Paul:

I was always interested in photography which I inherited from my father. In his spare time, he would take me on field trips and he encouraged my interest. I had a deep desire to express myself. I was keenly interested in the movies and had my favorite directors and was especially inspired by Stanley Kubrick. And while I would have liked to make feature films, I decided eventually to specialize in documentary. I loved getting my teeth into something and spending time in pre-production, production and editing in order to shape a project and give it real production value

Trina:

After working in the film industry for years, I realized that for each film I produced, I would need to have continued passion and commitment in supporting it for years.  I think that’s something filmmakers forget. When you’re a filmmaker, you’re going to need to be passionate and unrelentless about your project for more time than you think. You may need to put five years of your life behind a project, because that’s often what it takes.

Paul:

Absolutely. It cuts to the heart of our very being. When you’re actually involved in a project, it’s one you can be involved with for a lifetime because there are so many derivatives that come out of it in terms of consciousness and spirituality and underlying reality and dimensions of reality.

Trina:

I read that you discovered David Bohm on a trip to Italy in 2012.  Were you interested in consciousness and science and spirituality before you went to Italy?

Paul:

Yes, I was. From a very early age I was intuitively connected. I used to see spirituality in the landscapes, seascapes and cloudscapes. I grew up in Ireland in a household that embraced big ideas. We had great discussions at tea and around the dinner table about science and spirituality. Einstein was a kind of a household name, as was Stephen Hawking. Interestingly enough, I never heard the name David Bohm.

Since we were a Catholic family, we often talked about Christ and his teachings. Christ talked about the kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of heaven is at hand, the kingdom of heaven is within you.

I used to have conversations with my father about that. He was very good. He always gave me a great context. He said, Christ needed to speak in a particular way to the multitudes. But, when you actually get down to it, what is he really talking about? I am convinced that Christ was talking about another dimension of reality.

Now that I know Bohm so well it’s interesting to me that his name never came up.  He represents for me the perfect crossroads between science and spirituality.

When I met David Peat, Bohm’s colleague, in Italy, and learned a little bit more of Bohm, I was very attracted to his more philosophical outlook, in his ideas of an unfolding reality of emergence, of process as the infinite quality in nature.  When David found out that I was a filmmaker, he said that we should really do something on Bohm.

Trina:

How did you get comfortable with physics? I was a bit intimidated when I first started watching the film.

Paul:

I met one of Bohm’s collaborators, Professor Basil Hiley.  He’s one of these people that can switch from soccer to quantum physics in one sentence.  Basil said that he would support the project but he didn’t want Bohm to be undermined if I was gravitating more towards philosophical consciousness.  So Hiley worked with me to get that balance right in the film; to present Bohm as the physicist and as a spiritual man.

Then there was Chris Dewdney, who was the young PhD student who found Bohm’s paper, the one that was thrown out and rejected by the scientific elite. When he found that paper, it was like a phoenix rising from the ashes. He took the paper to his peers at the time, Basil Hiley and Roger Penrose and people like that.   They had another look at it and they were completely blown away by what Bohm was postulating. Chris was a genius with emerging computer technology at the time. He fed all of Bohm’s calculations, representing the theory of quantum potential, into the computers and they were able to map this whole idea of non-locality.

Trina:

To me, that was such a redeeming point in the film, for Bohm to be able to see the computerized representation and proof of his theorems. It was beautiful.

Paul:

Basil said that when Bohm saw it, his eyes lit up. Bohm was a really confident person. He was a very humble person, but he had this kind of maverick intelligence and he wasn’t afraid to take on the physics orthodoxy.  The Conservative Orthodoxy was a kind of religious group.

Trina:

Yes, that’s what I thought every time the term orthodox came up in the film. I was like, yes, they are religious.

Paul:

Bohm was brave. He was not afraid to challenge people. He often engaged in debate about these incredible ideas. He came up with his hidden variables theory. That theory now is one of the most looked up theories among emerging science. Oppenheimer put out a statement saying that if we can’t disprove Bohm, we must choose to ignore him. That was such a crushing blow.

Trina:

That was unbelievable. And yet a couple of things in this film really transcend the physics and the scientific community,  such as Oppenheimer relying heavily on Bohm’s work and using it to his advantage. And then he turned on him when he has this brilliance, to discredit it. So evil. Yet at the same time, I’ve had the same thing happen in my career. I’m sure we could talk about many people in different industries; this is how the people in power, stay in power. They exploit the people who have less power. And this is one of the things that I love about your film.  The idea that if an individual is answering their own call, and they’re true to that, they can survive the discredit, and in time still be recognized. For him to go through what he did and continue to produce and stay on his path with all the opposition and discredit, makes him an incredible role model. Bohm is not only a role model in the scientific and spiritual communities, but to anyone who is pursuing their truth against opposition.

Paul:

Exactly. Sometimes you’ve got to make some very tough decisions to stay on that path when it might be easier to be seduced into going in another direction. Your reading of Bohm in that context, is accurate. Part of our problem is that when we try and explain ideas we become, and I quote Bohm here, “suspended in language.” Bohm went to the extent of actually developing his own language, which he called the real mode. This flowing language parallels the flowing particles in the universe. Even our bodies, and all that you see around you are made up of particles.

Trina:

I’m reminded of the film, “Mindwalk” from a couple of decades ago. It’s a conversation about this very concept.  The film shows how individuals are nothing more than particles, similar to all forms of matter, nature, etc.

Paul:

Yeah. It’s such a beautiful idea. We tend to be concerned with the external world, but when you think that all of this is going on in the background, this is really what Bohm was interested in. He was interested in the underlying reality out of which so called illusionary reality emerges. To me, this is the most comprehensive view of reality and life and philosophy that I will ever need.

Trina:

When I watched your film it reminded me of seeing the play, “Copenhagen” in London decades ago. I thought it was one of the most brilliant pieces of theater that I had seen. Now of course, I want to go back and see it again.  It’s so interesting to have art and physics come together.  I really appreciated that you included the artist Antony Gormley in the film.

Paul:

Yes, his sculpture came out of Bohm’s ideas. As you know he describes the unseen reality as the implicate order, and out of this implicate order, we get the explicate order that unfolds our manifest reality.

Staying on Gormley, I want to tell a little story that’s in the film.  When Bohm was a kid, he was not very good at football or sports and stuff like that. One day he was up in the mountains with friends and they had to jump across these rocks to cross a stream.  His friends could easily hop from stone to stone, but Bohm hesitated. He was trying to map it all out to see how we could get from one stone to the other.

Then he suddenly had this “aha!” moment where he realized he had to move from one stone to the next, without thinking.   It shaped his idea that consciousness is moment to moment of awareness, that it’s not clearly mapped out and that we must let go. We need to let go of our control and go with the flow. That was a huge moment in his life, realizing that consciousness is in a continual state of movement. It’s a moving.  Some of Bohm’s groundbreaking ideas are how each unit of the universe contains all the universe, and how all of time is contained in each and every passing moment. I mean, these are wonderful ideas that I was so attracted to, Anthony Gormley the artist, took Bohm’s idea of unfoldment and emergence, to create his sculpture called “Quantum Cloud” which is on the Thames.

Trina:

I loved when Anthony says in the film, “We are places of transformation”. We are places, something that I hadn’t heard before.  Poetic, really poetic.

Paul:

The other lovely expression he has is that, “We are co-producers of the possible future”.  When I hear people speak like that, I know they really understand what Bohm is all about.

Trina:

Right. Amen. That’s exactly right. I just had an “aha!” moment I have to share with you.  Although I have been a meditator and yogi for decades, in the last eight years I became a teacher of Kundalini yoga. The reason I love it is because I found that it’s the most integrative of mind, body and spirit.  There is something about the movement of the body and the breath while meditating that’s incredibly effective. I just realized that this is an example of Bohm talking about the movement. It’s happening in movement, through movement. We are in movement. And if we focus too much on the mind, and just think meditating is about controlling our thoughts or optimizing our performance, we’re really missing the wholeness, the interconnectedness. 

Paul:

Yes. I find when I go deeply into the inner body, I feel very connected to everything. Our physical bodies will dissolve, but the potential information that is keeping us alive doesn’t.  We’ll move on and go back to the source from which we came. I realize that we don’t actually die. There is no dying when you embrace these concepts. I have a philosophy of life that came out of this film. Hopefully, if people get it, they will be inspired and it will lift their awareness.

Trina:

It will raise their personal consciousness. And when we, as individuals raise our consciousness, we raise the collective. Absolutely. What advice would you give an emerging filmmaker about making a film around the topic of consciousness? Did you struggle to find the financing?

Paul:

Throughout the film, I was more centered on the ideas than I was on Bohm, even though Bohm was the figure that engaged with all of these ideas.  To finance the film, I went to traditional mainstream broadcasters that I had dealt with before. A lot of them didn’t see a mainstream audience for this kind of material. I had to ultimately align myself with organizations or make the project attractive to organizations that had an ethos that was compatible with the project. I did have some other private individuals who like angels, they just appeared and they invested money without any sense of wanting any money back or anything. They put their trust in me to make this film. And that is proof of what you said earlier. You have to stay fixed on your own road in life, and then the universe will conspire with you to make things happen.

Trina:

Agreed.  And the conscious media audience is evolving; it’s emerging right now.  As you were saying, how can you not get behind the underlying interconnectedness of nature?

Paul:

I really do believe that there is a great thirst in people, to lead a more holistic kind of existence, to be more in touch with themselves. That sense of wholeness is being lost. And that’s why I think there is a big thirst in humanity for these kinds of projects, because people want to regain that sense of wholeness. My next project is almost like growing out of this project, which is about Advaita Vedanta. I would love to do a big series about the great spiritual masters of the east, who have contributed so much. Bohm found a way of integrating some of these ideas into his physics. As our film’s logline states, “Mystics have known about it for millennia. Western science is catching up”.  We can thank David Bohm in large part for that.

Trina:

Indeed. Paul, thank you again for your time and for making this amazing film.

Paul: Here is a nice quote to end with from Bohm…

 

“The essential quality of the infinite is its subtlety, its intangibility.

This quality is conveyed in the word spirit, whose root meaning is ‘wind or breath’.

That which is truly alive is the energy of spirit,

and this is never born and never dies.”

David Bohm

 

 

Join us on July 30th at 5pm PST/8 pm EST for this ‘Infinite Potential” special event.

Meet with us ‘virtually’ in the field that connects us all, as Bohm so deeply believed.

 

Trina is Founder and CEO of Conscious Good, dedicated to media for a healthier, happier life. She was the Founding Director of Tribeca Film Festival, COO of Tribeca Entertainment for five years prior, Head of Content for GAIAMTV’s (Gaia). Trina is also an avid meditator and completed her 200 hour kundalini yoga teacher training (as taught by Yogi Bhajan).