The Bridge from Physiology to Spirituality

Clinical physicians are not scientists. We are applied scientists, the engineers of human health. We use both logic and experience to best treat our patients. However, the mysteries of the human body often make a rational argument elusive. Instead of strictly following logic and the scientific method we often defer to both individual experience as physicians and the collective experience of our profession in terms of the standard of care. Accordingly, we collectively possess an enormous potential for the integration of the sciences in order to find a deeper meaning and truth in the therapeutic experience.

Reductionism is based on linearity of scientific political methodology. It was the crown jewel of the 20th century philosophy of science. However, it has profound limitations, especially relevant in explaining the complexity of biological systems, and its application to medicine. An uncritical application of reductionist thinking underscores a very dangerous game that we are playing due to the contextual nature of biology and the inability to predict outcome.

Intriguing but profound, we have to imagine how linearity brings us full circle. The notion of perspective is an inherent conflict when there are multiple points of view or representations of the truth. A single perspective defines both ultimate reality and maximum efficiency. A single perspective is the linearity of quantum physical phenomena of entanglement and superposition of states into a single state. Superposition of states representing a single state involve linearity in the sense that there are no interactions with outside states because the states of concern superimpose as a single fabric of reality. Examples of entanglement and superposition of states on a macroscopic scale include quantum metabolism in biology, among other examples described in chapter 4 (“From Quantum Biology to Quantum Medicine”) in The Science of Metabolism. An important example also includes the phenomenon of consciousness or conscious cognition that is a non-biological perception but only recognizable from the perspective of biological experience. Specific examples of this type include mind-body phenomena of extraordinary athletic, entertainment, or intellectual accomplishments. Moreover, the therapeutic effects of the placebo are far more powerful than traditionally appreciated. These phenomena require a superposition state of the mind-body system. Even the broader context of the entanglement invokes out-of-body experiences of a warm, welcoming world often including deceased relatives. Thus, it is compelling that the superposition of states that explains the beautiful complexity and exquisite organizational perfection of the state of human health manifested in the phenomenon of quantum metabolism as an example, is only a localized component part of the greater whole in the superposition of consciousness.

In addition to the superposition state of quantum metabolism as a macroscopic biological phenomenon, an even larger more macroscopic hierarchical scale in biology involves the temporally-organized correlated state of circadian synchronized metabolic physiology and behavior-coordinated scale of biological molecular clocks. This major insight into biological molecular clocks was recognized in 2017 by the award of the Nobel Prize of Medicine and Physiology. These molecular clocks may be understood as a level of integration translating a quantum manifestation of energy production into the synchronous scale of metabolic physiology.

Finding the joy in the conscious experience is an opportunity to live life to the fullest in synchrony with the fundamentals of our biological organization.

Stressful and painful experiences build resilience just like building muscle through exercise.

This resilience is based on neuronal connections of the deep cortical layers of the brain responsible for consciousness, or cognitions. Building the strength of these synaptic connections accompanies an increase of the animated nature of the deeper levels of awareness, and awareness of awareness, in the living experience. This is tantamount to escaping narcissism and self-preoccupation with greater appreciation for perspectives that lay outside of self. Furthermore, it promotes the human qualities of the prefrontal cortex, namely empathy, compassion, social awareness and intuition, with greater interpersonal connectedness. Indeed, the interest and capacity for understanding other people’s perceptions, feelings, and perspectives, and helping them to find solutions and to resolve personal anguish or pain, offers the greatest opportunity to elevate and vitalize our own personal sense of self. The inability to do this defines the state of uncontrollable and devitalizing stress rooted in the top down regulation of cognition by emotion. We as physicians have both an opportunity and a responsibility to transcend our own self-centeredness and help others overcome their health-related limitations.