Science and Psychic Phenomena
The task of the modern Theosophical Movement was to awaken the Western man spiritually by combating the materialism of the time by disseminating an esoteric doctrine called “synthesis of philosophy, religion and science” which gave emphasis to the fact that Nature is not a “random concurrence of particles”.
One of the three propositions of the Theosophical Movement, namely the second one, suggests comparative study of world religions, philosophies and sciences.
It says that:
“…Secret Teachings must be contrasted with the speculations of modern science. Archaic axioms must be placed side by side with modern hypotheses and comparison left to the sagacious reader…To make of Science an integral whole necessitates, indeed, the study of spiritual and psychic, as well as physical Nature… Without metaphysics real science is inadmissible…” (1)
In the Cosmogenesis chapter we read:
“…and one by one facts and processes in Nature’s workshops are permitted to find their way into the exact Sciences, while mysterious help is given to rare individuals in unravelling its arcana. It is at the close of great Cycles, in connection with racial development, that such events generally take place. We are at the very close of the cycle of 5,000 years of the present Aryan Kaliyuga; and between this time and 1897 there will be a large rent made in the Veil of Nature, and materialistic science will receive a death-blow”. (2)
Indeed, the 20th century science, which is “the science of the limits of our knowledge” in Kant’s words, is trying to approach in its way transcendent laws through newer scientific theories concerning matter, energy, the formation of the physical universe and the Black Holes, compactness of the universe and the particles wave movement.
On the threshold of the 21st century cosmology begins to understand the teachings of Ancient Wisdom. Many are the scientists who are trying to connect science with Ancient knowledge. Looking into the birth of the Universe and trying to understand the laws of Nature it seems science and occultism are not far apart.
The idea that things exist although invisible, is a fundamental concept of the Oriental psychology. The answer as to where hydrogen and oxygen are to be traced when they are no more water, proves in itself that the visible state is just one side of phenomena while there exists an invisible side which may be by far more true. It is the same old phenomenon repeated in the case of man’s birth and death, with the presence and absence of the universe in space and time.
H. P. Blavatsky says that “Science walks in the road of discoveries” which will explain many life-mysteries and that “chemistry and physiology are the two big [magoi] that are to open the eyes of humanity in the big natural truths.” (3)
She also mentions that:
“It is on the doctrine of the illusive nature of matter, and the infinite divisibility of the atom, that the whole science of Occultism is built.” (4)
In the 16th and 17th centuries science’s approach was realistic, a brain-centered one. However there exists an idealistic approach fervently supporting that consciousness surpasses brain functions and highlighting metaphysical phenomena. This tendency was represented by all initiates and initiated, Giordano Bruno, who revived the perspective on Universe, being among the latter. In the first place he believes that the Universe is not what we perceive it to be, that things do not exist in themselves. The world around us is not real but it is such only in our consciousness according to how we conceive it.
In his book “On Cause, Principle and the One” there are 4 tenets perfectly fitting the principles of modern quantum mechanics.
A) matter is partly bodily and partly non-bodily
B) Everything is one in Essence,
C) In the absolute, everything co-exists, that is in the absolute both potentiality and reality are one.
D) Plurality of Beings is only phenomenal.
H.P.Blavatsky says: “…Everything is one and the same, that is ILLUSION…” (5)
In occultism, Illusion is what is limited, i.e. the universe and everything it embraces. Our shadow on a wall is real so long as it is there for us and for other people to see. It vanishes when we move or cease to exist.
To Kant and Schopenhauer existence, time and causation is nothing but Illusion in other words the limited conceptions and forms conceived by our intellect. In his book “Wholeness and the Implicate Order” Bohm says that the universe in spite of its phenomenal compactness is a fancy.
In 1895 Roentgen found out the X rays and in 1896 Becquerel found out radioactivity. The illusion concerning “solid matter” was overthrown in 1897 with the discovery of the electron of the first sub-atomic particle by Thompson. Then in 1911 proton was discovered and in 1932 neutron, the two particles that make up the atomic nucleus. From then on tenths of sub-atomic particles have been discovered, amounting today to 200.
According to science, the Big Bang theory admits that the Universe is expanding and during its expansion radiation is produced reaching down to background radiation (low frequency). This agrees with the occult differentiation of Forces and Elements.
In 1878, physicist Johann von Jolly at the Munich University advised one of his students not to indulge any further in physics as all that was to be discovered, had already been discovered. That student was Max Planck, later to become the father of quantum physics.
The early 20th century discovery of quantum mechanics was revolutionary for physics and is now fundamental in most of the branches of today’s research. It successfully describes behavior of matter in tiny scales. It is based on the observation that all forms of energy are freed into distinct units called quanta. Quantum mechanics provides a physics theory on matter based on the concept of wave-particle duality and a mathematical interpretation of the structure and interaction of matter on the basis of this property; it is also called Wave mechanics.
In the recent decades a great part of the scientific community has been focusing on research of psychic phenomena related to Consciousness. Scientific forerunners such as David Bohm (quantum physicist), Karl Pribram (professor at Georgetown University and honorary professor of Psychiatry at the Stanford and Radford Universities), Stanislav Grof (Psychology professor at the California Institute of Integral Studies) as well as thousands of other researchers publish their personal views and discoveries which little by little come to verify the knowledge taught by Theosophy.
In Nature we can recognize two orders of substance: form and energy. What gives the energy form, according to quantum physics, is what is called “information”. “Information” builds energy, forms it, in other words it moulds it in all the dimensions of being, starting from the mineral, proceeding to the vegetal, animal and ending in the human. Quantum physicists apply the concept of “Consciousness” as an element comprising the concepts of Energy + Information. Yet energy and information is exactly all there “is”, all that “exists”. So, interpreting Bruno we may say that there exists only Consciousness; Information-wise there exist differing entities of consciousness, consisting of the same essence, from minerals, vegetation, animals, human beings up to higher forms of life.
A remarkable event took place in 1982 at the Paris University. A group of researchers headed by physicist Alain Aspect found out that under certain circumstances the sub-atomic particles, like electron, may instantly contact one another regardless of the distance separating them. It makes no difference whether they are at a distance of 10 meters or 10 billions of kilometers.
In a way, every particle looks like knowing what some other particle does. The problem with this remarkable observation is that it violates Einstein’s old axiom according to which no communication can be made with a velocity faster that the velocity of light.
Physicist David Bohm of the London University, for instance, holds that Aspect’s discovery indicates there is no objective reality. That in spite of its phenomenal compactness the universe is basically a fancy, a gigantic and incredibly detailed hologram.
David Bohm was one of the greatest 20th century philosophers, thinkers and theoreticians of physics on a worldwide scale. Bohm’s challenge against the conventional assessment of the quantum theory has led scientists to re- examine previous knowledge and dispute the nature of their theories and their scientific methodology. He was the father of the probabilistic interpretation of the wave function and contributed a radically new aspect to physics, a deep spiritual understanding of a great humanism. He believed that the world is interconnected through an immediate instantaneous communication.
In his radical work “Wholeness and the Implicate Order”, Bohm proposes a new model of reality; a revolutionary challenge in physics. In that model, hologram-like, any element includes the whole of its universe. Bohm’s idea of the whole comprises both matter and mind. He maintains that you can have a real individuality only if it is deeply rooted in the Whole.
He writes that behind phenomenal Chaos and lack of continuity of the atomic particles of matter as described by Quantum mechanics, there lies a hidden order. The hidden dimension became Bohm’s implicate order, source of all visible (phenomenal) matter of universe in time and space. The implicate order is unfathomable. He says that its inner depths have a source of their own but that matter and consciousness are one. A better understanding is feasible only when descending to a deeper level, to the implicate order, that forms the background of our experiences, physical, psychological or spiritual.
To be able to understand why Bohm makes this brilliant statement one will have to understand what a hologram is. It is actually a laser created photograph; an interference pattern is recorded on a photographic plate, with two interfering beams formed by a coherent beam from a laser and light scattered by an object. After formation, if lit and viewed correctly, the previously incoherent, vortex-like, bright and dark lines show a 3-D image of the object. But the interesting feature of the hologram is that every part of it includes all information contained on the whole. No matter how many times we cut the hologram of a rose into pieces, we shall see that every film piece always contains a tinier but complete version of the initial picture. This puts an end to the western science perception that the best way to understand a physical phenomenon, be it a toad or a human being, is by examining and studying the parts that make up its whole.
Going even further Bohm believed that “…everything interpenetrates everything and if human nature tries to understand this order solely in terms of a regular arrangement, to classify and subdivide phenomena in universe, ultimately all of nature is an undivided Whole. ..Deep inside reality is a sort of a Hyper-hologram where past, present and future co-exist simultaneously…”
Bohm believes that the reason why sub-atomic particles are coherent regardless of their in-between distance is not that they exchange mysterious messages of any sort, but that their supposed separate state is an illusion. The interconnection of subatomic particles, phenomenally faster than light, tells us there is a deeper reality level beyond our perception. He maintains that on that deeper reality level such particles are not separate entities but extensions of that same fundamental something. And he adds that we see the particles being separate because we see only one part of their reality.
In order to assist other people better understand what he means, Bohm suggests this: imagine an aquarium and a fish inside it. Also imagine that you cannot see the aquarium directly and that your knowledge of it and of its content comes to you through two TV cameras, one of them facing the front part of the aquarium and the other the side part.
As you are watching the two screens, at first, you will rather think that the fish on each screen is a separate entity. But then as you keep on watching both fish, at some point you will understand that there is a certain relation between them. When one fish turns, the other takes a slightly different but corresponding turn. When one looks forward, the other always looks at the sides. If you do not perceive the entire picture of the situation, you may come to the conclusion that both of them instantly communicate but obviously this is not true.
The carbon atom electrons in the human brain are connected with the sub-atomic particles composing every swimming salmon, every beating heart and every star flickering in the sky. Everything interpenetrates everything, even though human nature tries to classify things, to subdivide the various phenomena in universe, all of these divisions being necessarily technical; nature’s aggregate is ultimately an undivided whole.
And so we come to the fundamental proposition of Theosophy that there is “…One Omnipresent, Eternal, Unlimited and Immutable PRINCIPLE…root of all that was, is and will be..” (6)
“The radical unity of the ultimate essence of each constituent part of compounds in Nature – from Star to mineral Atom, from the highest Dhyan Chohan to the smallest infusoria, in the fullest acceptation of the term, and whether applied to the spiritual, intellectual or physical worlds – this is the one fundamental law in Occult Science. ‘The Deity is boundless and infinite expansion’ says an Occult axiom…” (7)
On its deeper level, reality is a sort of a hyper-hologram where past, present and future co-exist simultaneously. This shows that with the appropriate tools maybe one day we shall be able to penetrate the hyper-holographic level of reality to retrace scenes from the forgotten past (akasic archives).
What else may exist in the hologram is an open question. If, for the sake of discussion, we accept that the hologram is the womb that gave birth to everything in our universe, the least it may include is every sub-atomic particle that existed or will exist – every possible formation of matter and energy, from the snowflakes all the way to quasars, from the blue whales to g rays. We must view it as a cosmic storehouse of everything.
Bohm is not the only researcher who concluded that the universe is a hologram. Doing independent research on the brain, neuroscientist Karl Pribram of Stanford University is also convinced of the Holographic nature of reality.
David Bohm seeing nature as an undivided whole hidden in an ever resourceful background, unfolding in the visible world of matter and time of our daily life maintained that everything is fully conscious, from a stone to a star as there is no “non-life”. Theosophy likewise teaches there is no dead or blind matter; that every life species has its own perception on its own plane of consciousness. Bohm also said that “thought can conceive what is not hidden, but only something beyond thought such as foresight, clairvoyance, intelligence can experience what is hidden…”
Psychology and psychiatry professor Pribram also resorted to the holographic model led by the mystery of how and where remembrances are stored in the brain. He thinks that the brain itself is a hologram. His theory explains how the human brain can save almost 10 billion bits of information during an average span of human life – almost the same quantity as the one contained in 5 whole series of Britannica Encyclopedia.
Yet the amazing part of Pribram’s holographic brain model comes when we compare it with Bohm’s theory.If compactness is a secondary reality and what “exists” is in fact only a holographic blur of frequencies and if the brain is a hologram in itself simply choosing frequencies and mathematically turning them into sentient perceptions, what then with objective reality?
To put it plainly, it ceases existing. According to Ancient Wisdom, the material world is Maya, an illusion, and our thinking that as physical beings we are moving about in a physical world, that is an illusion, too. Now it is far easier for us to understand that information can travel from the mind of Mr A to the mind of Mr B in a much wider distance and also helps us understand a number of unsolved psychological mysteries.
Stanislav Grof believes that we are now able to understand many of the strange phenomena known to people who are under altered states of consciousness. He helped found the branch of psychology called “super-personal psychology” dealing with such phenomena. There was a woman who believed she had acquired the personality of a female prehistoric reptile, giving a detailed description of how it is to live within such a form also saying that the sex anatomy of the male reptile was a colored patch at the side of their head. The woman had no idea of such matters and Grof , having discussed this with a geologist, reconfirmed the woman’s description.
During his research, Grof recorded individuals with poor or no education giving full descriptions of zoroastric rituals and scenes from the Hindu mythology. Others were giving descriptions of extra-corporeal experiences, prognoses but also glimpses from former incarnations. Grof himself says: “The mind is indeed part of a labyrinth connected not only with every other mind that existed or exists but also with every atom, organism and region in the vastness of time and space. The fact that it can occasionally invade the labyrinth and get super-personal experience no longer sounds strange”.
Botanologist, biologist and anthropologist Lyall Watson in his book “Gifts of Unknown Things” describes his meeting an Indonesian shaman –woman who, having performed a ceremonial dance, could cause a whole little forest to disappear and re-appear several times. Synchronicities, telepathy, telekinesis, levitation and other psychic phenomena have begun to be meaningful and open to interpretation.
H.P.Blavatsky says in the S. D., I. 604-605: (8)
… postulating that conditioned or limited space (location) has no real being except in this world of illusion, … teaches that every one of the higher, as of the lower worlds, is interblended with our own objective world… The inhabitants of these passing through and around us as if through empty space, their very habitations and countries being interblended with ours, though not disturbing our vision… Yet by their spiritual sight the Adepts, and even some seers and sensitives, are always able to discern, the presence and close proximity to us of Beings pertaining to other spheres of life. Those of the (spiritually) higher worlds, communicate only with those terrestrial mortals who ascend to them, through individual efforts, on to the higher plane they are occupying. . . .
This work is from the two-day conference on Psychic Phenomena, held in Athens, in May 2009
1. SD, I, 480, 588
2. SD, I, 612
3. SD, I, 519
4. SD, I, 520
5. SD, I, 296
6. SD, I, 14
7. SD, I, 120
8. SD, I, 604-5
The scientific researches are from “The Holographic Universe” by Michael Talbot, 1991