David Bohm


"I would say that in my scientific and philosophical work, my main concern has been with understanding the nature of reality in general and of consciousness in particular as a coherent whole, which is never static or complete but which is an unending process of movement and unfoldment...."

David Bohm

Wholeness and the Implicate Order



Bohm, David Joseph


David Bohm (1917-94) was one of the foremost theoretical physicists of his generation and one of the most influential theorists of the emerging paradigm through which the world is increasingly viewed.


Bohm’s challenge to the conventional understanding of quantum theory has led scientists to re-examine what it is they are doing and to question the nature of their theories and their scientific methodology.


He brought together a radical view of physics, a deeply spiritual understanding and a profound humanity. In the years before his death in 1992, Bohm lectured worldwide on the meaning of physics and consciousness.

In an interview in 1989 at the Nils Bohr Institute in Copenhagen, where Bohm presented his views, Bohm spoke on his theory of wholeness and the implicate order. The conversation centered around a new worldview that is developing in part of the Western world, one that places more focus on wholeness and process than analysis of separate parts.


Bohm explained the basics of the theory of relativity and its more revolutionary offspring, quantum theory. Either theory, if carried out to its extreme, violates every concept on which we base our understanding of reality. Both challenge our notions of our world and ourselves.

He cited evidence from both theories that support a new paradigm of a more interrelated, fluid, and less absolute basis of existence, one in which mind is an active participant.

"Information contributes fundamentally to the qualities of substance."


Traditional western science is ready to stop here because of the belief that the brain is the same as the mind. Most scientists have not comprehended that information = matter = energy inside a black hole. The logical conclusion of this is information structures of a non-physical mind may have an impact on classical matter and energy systems, the same as quantum physics does.



He discussed forms, fields, superconductivity, wave function and electron behavior.

"Wave function, which operates through form, is closer to life and mind...The electron has a mindlike quality."

In his groundbreaking theory of "wholeness and the implicate order", Bohm proposed a new model of reality that was a revolutionary challenge to physics. In this model, as in a hologram, any element contains enfolded within itself the totality of its universe. Bohm’s concept of totality included both matter and mind.

Bohm also mentioned the dangers we face as a society and the changes we will have to make in our thinking in order to have a future. He said we need a more holistic approach to the ecological problem and must find something else in life besides economic growth; if it continues unchecked, it will destroy the planet. The emerging change in consciousness is the challenge and the key:

"Our future depends on whether we feel like part of this one whole or whether we feel we’re separate."



David Bohm was one of the world’s greatest quantum mechanical physicists and philosophers and was deeply influenced by both J. Krishnamurti and Einstein.

Born in Wiles-Barre, Pennsylvania on December 20, 1917, he studied under Einstein and Oppenheimer, received his B.Sc. degree from Pennsylvania State College in 1939 and his Ph.D. in physics at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1943. He was the last graduate student to study with Oppenheimer at U.C. in the 1940s, where he remained as a research physicist after Oppenheimer left for Los Alamos to work on the atomic bomb.


He worked at Berkeley on the Theory of Plasma and on the Theory of Synchroton and Syndrocyclotrons until 1947. From 1947-1951 he taught at Princeton University as an Assistant Professor and worked on Plasmas, Theory of Metals, Quantum Mechanics and Elementary Particles.

He was blacklisted by Senator Joe McCarthy’s witch-hunt trials while teaching at Princeton. Rather than testifying against his colleagues, he left the U.S. Bohm subsequently became Professor at the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil, the Technion of Haifa, Israel, and at Birkbeck College, University of London; Research Fellow at Bristol University; and was elected Fellow of the Royal Society in 1990. Bohm lived in London and died in 1992.

Bohm was a member of the Royal Academy, the originator of the causal interpretation of quantum theory, and the author of a famous text on quantum mechanics and of numerous articles and other books. The best-known recent work was Wholeness and the Implicate Order. He wrote his classic book, Quantum Theory, in an attempt to understand quantum theory from Nils Bohr’s point of view.


After completing the book and communicating with Einstein on it, Bohm remained unsatisfied with the theory. Bohm’s challenge to the conventional understanding of quantum theory has led scientists to re-examine what it is they are doing and to question the nature of their theories and their scientific methodology.





A profoundly contemplative man, Bohm arrived intuitively at universal truths and presented them in imaginative models, in the languages of both physics and philosophy.


His physics and cosmology were all-encompassing and so far ahead of his time that few people were able to appreciate them. Mainstream physicists considered them too mystical, and few mystics could follow his subtle scientific reasoning. (Krishnamurti was a notable exception.)


5. ...the interface between science and mysticism has been paradoxical, to say the least. Scientists claim to be upholders of materialism, cold rationality, objectivity, and strict empiricism. Yet, in the most rigorous realm of science - high energy particle physics - mysticism abounds and flourishes in a fertile climate... What does this tell us about the true cultural framework in which science is ‘done’?

A number of books have already attempted to make the link between physics and mysticism. Fritjof Capra’s The Tao of Physics and Gary Zukav’s The Dancing Wu Li Masters have both reached many, many people. In your book, though, you mention that there was something that you felt had not yet been covered which you feel is your unique contribution to all this. Could you say something about what you are doing that is different from what has been done before in this area?

6. ...mysticality is the power of all true science. [Einstein]

From very early on in his scientific career, Bohm trusted this interior, intuitive display as a more reliable way of arriving at solutions. Later, when he met Einstein, he learned that he too experienced subtle, internal muscular sensations that appeared to lie much deeper than ordinary rational and discursive thought.


Bohm redefined physics. To him it was not about mere prediction and control, nor even mathematical equations.


Though central to the enterprise, they are not its essence. Physics is about nature and our understanding of nature. For Bohm, its meaning and its message were creativity, the signature of an infinite universe. He saw it an undivided wholeness enfolded into an infinite background source that unfolds into the visible, material, and temporal world of our everyday lives.


He said that thought can grasp the unfolded, but only something beyond thought - intuition, unmediated insight, intelligence - can EXPERIENCE the enfolded. At some point deep within the implicate order, thought and language fail us and only sacred silence can reveal truth. That silence is the language of the whole, the universe expressing itself through us in a life of integrity rather than fragmentation.

Bohm envisioned a transformation for those who grasped quantum mechanics in depth: a world of interconnection and interdependence, of direct and instantaneous communication, in which we have learned to harness the energies of compassion.


Giving voice to the marvelous possibilities of a new future, he was himself an example of his ideas. Many who knew him thought of him as a sort of "secular saint." He had a visionary quality that drew others to him and inspired them. He was transported by the clarity of his vision and energized by it to such a point that he swept his listeners with him into the orbit of the possible.


He believed in a world that was meaningful, clear, intelligent and spiritual, where the implicate order is expressed as a living force in our explicate lives.




  • "Quantum Theory," New York, 1951

  • "Causality and Change in Modern Physics," London, 1957

  • "The Special Theory of Relativity," New York 1966

  • "Wholeness and the Implicate Order," London, 1980

  • "Unfolding Meaning," (record of a dialogue with David Bohm), London, 1985

  • "Science, Order and Creativity," New York, 1987

  • "Thought as a System," London, 1994

See also "The Energies of Love: In Honor of David Bohm," an article by Renee Weber in The Quest, Autumn, 1993.