David Bohm: June 1992

Prague: The Holographic Paradigm

In June of 1992, Karl Pribram and I were on a 16-hour train trip from Karl Jung’s remote center, Eranos, on Lago Maggiore in Switzerland, where I’d been doing research for my book The Magic Circle (in which Jungian archetypes play a great role.)

We were headed to Prague, where Karl was to speak at a huge Transpersonal Psychology conference. The conference had been organized by one of the founders of transpersonal psychology, a former California neighbor and colleague of Karl’s, psychiatrist Stanislav Grof, and his wife Christine. More than 1600 people were coming to Prague for this sold-out conference, filled with New Age luminaries, the first event of its kind since the Velvet Revolution of 1989, where the collapsing Soviet Union had at last relinquished its grip.

But when Karl and I stepped off the train in Prague, we learned for the first time (to everyone’s general consternation) that a vote had just passed in the government, to dissolve the country of Czechoslovakia! This was both shocking and fascinating, since our host was Ivan Havel, director of the Center for Theoretical Studies (and brother of Vaclav Havel the president of the country.) We knew we would soon have a worm’s-eye view, from inside the apple, of change on a major scale.

Our appointments for the day had been cancelled while political things were erupting. Also, the rooms where we were to stay were not yet ready, because we’d been asked to swap places with Karl’s other Czech colleague, the physicist David Bohm, who was too ill to climb the steep marble stairway in the ancient palace. Ivan Havel asked what we would like to do right now.

“I need to find the nearest post office at once!” I said.  Ivan asked, ”Do you need to mail a letter?” “No!” I said. “I need to buy some postage stamps right away!” (The last stamps that would ever be issued by the Czechoslovakian government!)

Lunch with Bohm in Bohemia

Saral and David Bohm Prague June 1992
David and Saral Bohm at lunch in Prague, 1992

Karl said, “Let’s have a real Czech lunch with David and Saral Bohm.” Roast pork, cabbage, dumplings, etc. This snapshot was destined to be one of the last cheery photos of David Bohm, who died that following October.

“Bohm” means a person from Bohemia, a Bohemian: a title applied to the gypsy-like lifestyle of Puccini’s artist colony in Paris. The word means “Home of the Boii.” (The Boii were the oldest Celtic tribes to live and settle along the Danube.)

Karl and David Bohm had done really interesting research on overlapping as well as collaborative science that was celebrated by many scientists, perhaps even more in the fields of popular science than in academia. David Bohm’s holistic theory of the universe and Karl’s holistic theory of how our brains store memory are described in the late Michael Talbot’s popular book The Holistic Universe.

For a detailed description of the “Holonomic Theory” created by these exciting interactions, check out   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holonomic_brain_theory