Subtle Connections:
Psi, Grof, Jung, and the Quantum Vacuum

by Ervin Laszlo


Abridged version


Ervin Laszlo
The International Society for the Systems Sciences
and The Club of Budapest
Copyright Ervin Laszlo 1996

Are human beings entirely discrete individuals, their organism enclosed by the skin and their minds enclosed by the cranium housing the brain? Or are there effective, if subtle, interconnections between humans — and between humans and the world at large? This study argues that the latter assumption is likely to be true. Though the evidence for "subtle connections" is not in the form of incontrovertible "hard data" it is nevertheless cogent and significant. The directly pertinent findings are generated by research on psi- phenomena and the practice of psychotherapists. Possible explanations for the findings can be traced to the ideas of Carl Jung, and are now pursued at the leading edge of the physical sciences.

The Findings: (i) Psi experiments
Controlled experiments concerning subtle connections between subjects removed in space, and occasionally also in time, date back to back to the 1930s, to J.B. Rhine's pioneering card-and dice-guessing work at Duke University. Since then experimental designs have become sophisticated and experimental controls rigorous; physicists have often joined psychologists in carrying out the tests. Explanations in terms of hidden sensory cues, machine bias, cheating by subjects, and experimenter error or incompetence have all been considered, but they were found unable to account for a number of statistically significant results.

Relevant work began in the 1970s, when Russell Targ and Harold Puthoff carried out some of the best-known experiments on subtle connections among distant subjects in regard to the transference of thoughts and images. They examined the possibility of telepathic transmission between individuals, one of whom would act as "sender" and the other as "receiver." The receiver was placed in a sealed, opaque and electrically shielded chamber, while the sender was in another room where he or she was subjected to bright flashes of light at regular intervals. Electroencephalograph (EEG) machines registered the brain- wave patterns of both. As expected, the sender exhibited the rhythmic brain waves that normally accompany exposure to bright flashes of light. But, after a brief interval the receiver also began to produce the same patterns, although he or she was not exposed to the flashes and was not receiving sense-perceivable signals from the sender.

Targ and Puthoff also conducted experiments on remote viewing. In these tests sender and receiver were separated by distances that precluded any form of sensory communication between them. At a site chosen at random, the sender acted as a "beacon"; the receiver then tried to pick up what the beacon saw. To document his or her impressions, the receiver gave verbal descriptions, at times accompanied by sketches. Independent judges found that the descriptions of the sketches matched on the average 66 percent of the time the characteristics of the site that was actually seen by the beacon.[1]

Remote viewing experiments reported from other laboratories involved distances from half a mile to several thousand miles. Regardless of where they were carried out, and by whom, the success rate was generally around fifty percent — considerably above random probability. The most successful viewers appeared to be those who were relaxed, attentive, and meditative. They reported that they received a preliminary impression as a gentle and fleeting form which gradually evolved into an integrated image. They experienced the image as a surprise, both because it was clear and because it was clearly elsewhere. Images could also be transmitted while the receiver is asleep. Over several decades, Stanley Krippner and his associates carried out "dream ESP experiments" at the Dream Laboratory of Maimondes Hospital in New York City.[2].

A particularly striking example of transpersonal contact and communication has been the work of Jacobo Grinberg-Zylverbaum at the National University of Mexico.[3] In more than fifty experiments performed over five years, Grinberg-Zylberbaum paired his subjects inside sound-and electro-magnetic radiation-proof "Faraday cages." He asked them to meditate together for twenty minutes. Then he placed the subjects in separate Faraday cages where one of them was stimulated and the other not. The stimulated subject received stimuli at random intervals in such a way that neither he or she, nor the experimenter, knew when they were applied. The non-stimulated subject remained relaxed, with eyes closed, instructed to feel the presence of the partner without knowing anything about his or her stimulation.

In general, a series of one hundred stimuli were applied — flashes of light, sounds, or short, intense but not painful electric shocks to the index and ring fingers of the right hand. The EEG of both subjects was then synchronized and examined for "normal" potentials evoked in the stimulated subject and "transferred" potentials in the non-stimulated subject. In experimental situations with stimulated subjects and with interaction, the transferred potentials appeared consistently in some 25 percent of the cases. A particularly poignant example was furnished by a young couple, deeply in love. Their EEG patterns remained closely synchronized throughout the experiment, testifying to their report of feeling a deep oneness.

A related experiment investigated the degree of harmonization of the left and right hemispheres of the subject's neocortex. In ordinary waking consciousness the two hemispheres — the language-oriented, linearly thinking rational "left brain" and the gestalt-perceiving intuitive "right brain" — exhibit uncoordinated, randomly diverging wave patterns in the electroencelograph. When the subject enters a meditative state of conscious-ness, these patterns become synchronized, and in deep meditation the two hemispheres fall into a nearly identical pattern. In deep meditation not only the left and right brains of one and the same subject, also the left and right brains of different subjects manifest identical patterns. Experiments with up to twelve subjects simultaneously showed an astonishing synchronization of the brain-waves of the entire group.[4]

In the past few years experiments such as these have been matched by hundreds of others. They provide significant evidence that identifiable and consistent electrical signals occur in the brain of one person when a second person, especially if he or she is closely related or emotionally linked, is either meditating, or provided with sensory stimulation, or attempts to communicate with the subject intentionally.[5]

Interpersonal connection beyond the sensory range can also occur outside the laboratory; it is particularly frequent among identical twins. In many cases one twin feels the pain suffered by the other, and is aware of traumas and crises even if he or she is halfway around the world. Besides "twin pain," the sensitivity of mothers and lovers is equally noteworthy: countless stories are recounted of mothers having known when their son or daughter was in grave danger, or was actually involved in an accident.

Interpersonal connection is not limited to twins, mothers and lovers: the kind of closeness that a therapeutic relationship creates between therapist and patient seems also to suffice. A number of psychotherapists have noted that, during a session, they experience memories, feelings, attitudes, and associations that are outside the normal scope of their experience and personality. At the time these strange items are experienced they are indistinguishable from the memories, feelings and related sentiments of the therapists themselves; it is only later, on reflection, that they come to realize that the anomalous items stem not from their own life and experience, but from their patient.

It appears that in the course of the therapeutic relationship some aspect of the patient's psyche is projected into the mind of the therapist. In that location, at least for a limited time, it integrates with the therapist's own psyche and produces an awareness of some of the patient's memories, feeling, and associations. Known as "projective identification," the transference can be useful in the context of therapy: it can permit the patient to view what was previously a painful element in his or her personal consciousness more objectively, as if it belonged to somebody else.

Actual bodily effects seem also capable of being transmitted from one individual to another. Transmissions of this kind came to be known as "telesomatic": they consist of physiological changes that are triggered in the targeted person by the mental processes of another. [6] The distance between the individuals involved seems to make little or no difference. William Braud and Marilyn Schlitz carried out hundreds of trials regarding the impact of the mental imagery of senders on the physiology of receivers — the latter were distant, and unaware that such imagery was being directed to them.

They claim that the mental images of the sender can "reach out" over space and cause changes in the physiology of the distant receiver — effects comparable to those one's own mental processes produce in one's own body. People who attempt to influence their own bodily functions are only slightly more effective than those who attempt to influence the physiology of others from a distance. Over several cases involving a large number of individuals, the difference between remote influence and self-influence was almost insignificant: "telesomatic" influence by a distant person proved to be nearly as effective as "psychosomatic" influence by the same person.

The Findings: (ii) Grof's experience with altered states of consciousness
Complementing psi-experiments in regard to the ability of the human mind to penetrate beyond the limits of personal sensory experience are the findings of modern psychotherapists. The pertinent evidence comes clearly to the fore in the work of Stanislav Grof. In reviewing findings gathered in the course of over three decades, Grof suggests that the standard cartography of the human mind needs to be completed with additional elements. To the standard "biographic-recollective" domain of the psyche we should add a "perinatal" and a "transpersonal" domain. The transpersonal domain, it appears, can mediate connection between our mind and practically any part or aspect of the phenomenal world.[7]

People in "primitive" and classical cultures knew how to apply the requisite stimulus — some tribes, such as the Kung Bushmen of the Kalahari desert, could enter altered states all at the same time. In many parts of the world ancient peoples combined chanting, breathing, drumming, rhythmic dancing, fasting, social and sensory isolation, even specific forms of physical pain to induce altered states. The native cultures of Africa and pre-Colombian America used them in shamanic procedures, healing ceremonies and rites of passage; the high-cultures of Asia used them in various systems of yoga, Vipassana or Zen Buddhism, Tibetan Vajrayana, Taoism, and Sufism. The semitic cultures used them in Cabalah, the ancient Egyptians in the temple initiations of Isis and Osiris; the classical Greeks in Bacchanalia and the rites of Attis and Adonis as well as in the Eleusinian mysteries. Until the advent of Western industrial civilization, almost all cultures held such states in high esteem for the remarkable experiences they convey and the powers of personal healing and interpersonal contact and communication they render accessible.[9]

Today, at the leading edge of the contemporary sciences, research on altered states of consciousness is becoming accepted as a legitimate part of the new discipline known as "consciousness research." The insight that surfaces is, as Charles Tart noted, that altered states tend to make our connections to each other and to our environment more evident. Grof's records of the verbal reports of his patients makes this very clear. [10]

In the "experience of dual unity" a patient in an ASC (altered state of consciousness) experiences a loosening and melting of the boundaries of the body ego and a sense of merging with another person in a state of unity and oneness. In this experience, despite the feeling of being fused with another, the patient retains an awareness of his or her own identity. Then, in the experience of "identification with other persons," the patient, while merging experientially with another person, has a sense of complete identification to the point of losing the awareness of his or her own identity.

In "group identification and group consciousness" there is a further extension of consciousness and melting of ego boundaries. Rather than identifying with individual persons, the patient has a sense of becoming an entire group of people who share some racial, cultural, national, ideological, political, or professional characteristics. The depth, scope, and intensity of this experience can reach extraordinary proportions: people may experience the totality of suffering of all the soldiers who have ever died on the battlefield since the beginning of history, the desire of revolutionaries of all ages to overthrow a tyrant, or the love, tenderness and dedication of all mothers in regard to their babies. Identification can focus on a social or political group, the people of an entire country or continent, all members of a race, or all believers of a religion.

"Identification with animals" goes beyond the human transpersonal dimension: it involves a complete and realistic identification with members of various animal species. The experience can be authentic and convincing, including body image, specific physiological sensations, instinctual drives, unique perceptions of the environment, and the corresponding emotional reactions. The nature and scope of these experiences distinguish them from ordinary human experiences; they often transcend the scope of fantasy and imagination.

Experience in ASCs can also penetrate beyond the sphere of life: it can include the macroscopic and microscopic phenomena of the inorganic world. In the "experience of inanimate matter and inorganic processes" patients report experiential identification with the waters of rivers and oceans, with various forms of fire, with the earth and with mountains, and with the forces unleashed in natural catastrophes such as electric storms, earthquakes, tornadoes, and volcanic eruptions. They can identify with specific materials, such as diamonds and other precious stones, quartz crystals, amber, granite, iron, steel, quicksilver, silver, and gold. The experiences extend into the microworld and may involve the dynamic structure of molecules and atoms. Grof concludes that every process in the universe that in an ordinary state of consciousness can be objectively observed, can also be subjectively experienced in an altered state.

The cosmic dimensions of altered-state experiences can encompass all of the planet Earth. In "planetary consciousness" the subject's consciousness expands to the Earth's geological substance with its mineral kingdom, and its biosphere with all its life forms. The Earth as a whole appears to be one complex organism, oriented toward its own evolution, integration, and self-actualization. In "extraterrestrial experiences" — a further expanded form of consciousness — other celestial bodies and astronomical processes are included. The subject can experience travelling to the moon, sun, other planets, stars, and galaxies; he or she can experience explosions of supernovas, contraction of stars, quasars and pulsars, even passage through black holes. The experience can occur in the form of simply witnessing such events, or of actually becoming them, experiencing them intimately, as if being a part of the experienced thing or event. At the widest (and comparatively rare) form of this experience — "identification with the entire physical universe" — the subject has the feeling that his or her consciousness encompasses the entire cosmos.

In addition to the spatially expanded forms of consciousness, there are experiences that recall OBEs (out-of-body experiences), clairvoyance, clairaudience, and telepathy. More relevant for our purposes are experiences involving a displacement in time. Time-displacement experiences range from "embryonal and fetal experiences," where the subject recalls his or her intrauterine experiences as a fetus, through "ancestral experiences" involving identification with one's biological ancestors, "racial and collective experiences" where those involved are not one's direct ancestors but members of the same race, or sometimes the entire human species (suggestive of Jung's "collective unconscious" of which more will be said later), all the way to "past incarnation experiences."

According to Grof the memories that surface in past incarnation experiences share with other transpersonal experiences the capacity to provide instant and direct extrasensory access to information about some aspect of the world.

If so, all divisions and boundaries in the universe are illusory and arbitrary; in the last analysis it is only a cosmic consciousness that actually exists.[11]

Toward an Explanation: (a) Jung's unus mundus
What explanation can we give for the varied yet remarkably consistent phenomena unearthed in controlled psi- experiments and in the work of Grof and other psychotherapists with patients in altered states of consciousness? Just what is the nature of the "cosmic consciousness" — or similar factor — that would connect our psyche with the world at large?
Carl Jung, fascinated with this seemingly esoteric aspect of the human psyche, attempted an explanation in terms of a higher or deeper reality that would connect human minds with each other as well as with physical reality. He was led to his explanatory concept by a comparison of unconscious processes in individuals with the myths, legends and folktales of a variety of cultures at various periods of history. Jung found that the individual records and the collective material contain common themes. This prompted him to postulate the existence of a collective aspect of the pysche: the "collective unconscious."

The single factor that underlies physics and psychology may be the same. The common factor that would underlie and connect these worlds Jung named "unus mundus." The foundation for the unus mundus is "...that the multiplicity of the empirical world rests on an underlying unity, and that not two or more fundamentally different worlds exist side- by- side or are mingled with one another."[16]

As Charles Card summarized, "The realms of mind and of matter—psyche and physis— are complementary aspects of the same transcendental reality, the unus mundus. Archetypes act as the fundamental dynamical patterns whose various representations characterize all processes, whether mental or physical. In the realm of the psyche, archetypes organize images and ideas. In the realm of physis, they organize the structure and transformations of matter and energy, and they account for a causal orderedness as well. Archetypes acting simultaneously in both the realms of psyche and physis account for instances of synchronistic phenomena."[17]

Jung's relates the subtle connections that appear in synchronistic events involving the psyche of different individuals, as well as the psyche of one person and the physical world around that person, to an underlying reality that emerges in the form of archetypes. The fundamental reality — the unus mundus — is itself neither psychic nor physical: it stands above, or lies beyond, both psyche and physis.

Toward an Explanation: (b) The Quantum Vacuum
Jung's concept points the way toward a fruitful avenue of research: a deeper reality that connects mind and mind, and mind and matter. This approach should enter the current stream of consciousness research. For the present, most researchers seek an explanation of mental events mainly in terms of physical processes in the brain. But henceforth the mental events to explain should include not only the workings of the individual brain but, in light of the findings of psi- experimenters and psychotherapists, the subtle connections that link human brains with each other and with the world at large.

It seems likely that world and brain — cosmos and consciousness — are interconnected by a continuous information- conserving and transmitting field.18.

A field that constitutes the simplest, the most economical and rational explanation of the current findings may exist: David Bohm, the same as this writer, suggested that it is the as yet imperfectly understood "zero- point field" (ZPF) that seems present throughout the quantum vacuum. In the following we shall explore what is known about this field of the vacuum, what is currently hypothesized about it, and how it could account for the subtle interconnections noted above.

Received knowledge about the vacuum - - In quantum physics the quantum vacuum is defined as the lowest energy state of a system of which the equations obey wave mechanics and special relativity. It is considerably more than just the state of a system, however. It is the locus of a vast energy field that is neither classically electromagnetic nor gravitational, nor yet nuclear in nature. Instead, it is the originating source of the known electromagnetic, gravitational, and nuclear forces and fields. It is the originating source of matter itself.

The technical definitions of the quantum vacuum point to a continuous energy sea in which particles of matter are specific substructures. According to Paul Dirac's calculation, all particles in positive energy states have negative- energy counterparts (by now such "antiparticles" have been found experi- mentally for all presently known particles). The zero- point field of the quantum vacuum is a "Dirac- sea": a sea of particles in the negative energy state. These particles are not observable — physicists call them "virtual." But they are not fictional for all that. By stimulating the negative energy states of the ZPF with sufficient energy (of the order of 10- 27 erg), a particular region of it can be "kicked" into the real (that is, observable) state of positive energy. This is the process known as pair- creation: out of the vacuum emerges a positive energy (real) particle, with a negative energy (virtual) particle remaining in it. Thus the Dirac- sea is everywhere; the observable universe floats, as it were, on its surface.

The quantum vacuum contains a staggering density of energy. John Wheeler estimated its matter- equivalent at 1094 gram per cm3 — and that is more than all the matter in the universe put together. Compared with this energy density, the energy of the nucleus of the atom — the most energetic chunk of matter in the known universe — seems almost minuscule: it is "merely" 1014 gram/cm3.
The vacuum itself is not material: its zero- point energies — which, according to David Bohm, exceed all the energies bound in matter 1040 times — are in the negative state. This is fortunate, for if they were not, the universe would instantly collapse to a size smaller than the radius of an atom. (This follows from E = mc2, Einstein's celebrated mass- energy equivalence relation: energy corresponds to mass, and mass in turn entails gravitation.)
Because the "real" world of matter — that is, of energy bound in mass — is so much less energetic than the vacuum, the observable universe is not a solid condensate floating on top of the vacuum, but like a set of bubbles suspended in it. In terms of energy, the material world is not a solidification of the quantum vacuum, but a thinning of it.

Speculations on the vacuum - - A thin line divides what is already known and accepted about the quantum vacuum and what is still speculative and controversial. Here we review the relevant explorations: those that concern interactions between the observable world of matter- energy and the vacuum's zero- point energies.

The world of matter and the quantum vacuum are known to interact. For example, under certain conditions vacuum's zero- point energies act on electrons orbiting atomic nuclei. The effects occur when electrons "jump" from one energy state to another: the photons they emit exhibit the so- called Lamb- shift (a frequency slightly shifted from its normal value). Vacuum energies also create a radiation pressure on two closely spaced metal plates. Between the plates some wavelengths of the vacuum field are excluded, thereby reducing its energy density with respect to the field outside. This creates a pressure — known as the Casimir effect — that pushes the plates inward and together.

Currently another Hungarian, maverick theoretician László Gazdag, developed Jánossy's concept into a full- fledged "post- relativity theory.
In his theory the vacuum's energy field has the properties of a superfluid. It is known that in super cooled helium all resistance and friction ceases; it moves through narrow cracks and capillaries without loss of momentum. Conversely, objects move through the fluid without encountering resistance. (Since also electrons move through it without resistance, superfluids are also superconductors.) Thus, in a sense, a superconducting superfluid is not "there" for the objects or electrons that move through it — they get no information about its presence. This could explain why we, and even our most sensitive instruments, fail to register its presence.

In Gazdag's reinterpretation of Einstein's relativity theory the celebrated formulas describe the flow of bosons in the superfluid ZPF. This flow is what determines the geometrical structure of spacetime, and hence the trajectory of real world photons and electrons. When particles of light and matter move uniformly, spacetime is Euclidean; when they are accelerated the ZPF interacts with their motion. Then spacetime appears curved. If an object is strongly accelerated, vortices are created in the medium and these vortices produce resistance: the classical interaction effects surface.)
Front- line research in physics confirms the basic notion that underlies these assumptions.

In 1994 Bernhard Haisch, Alfonso Rueda and Harold Puthoff gave a mathematical demonstration that inertia can be considered a vacuum- based Lorentz- force.[20] The force originates at the subparticle level and produces opposition to the acceleration of material objects. The accelerated motion of objects through the vacuum produces a magnetic field, and the particles that constitute the objects are deflected by this field. The larger the object the more particles it contains, hence the stronger the deflection — and greater the inertia. Inertia is thus a form of electromagnetic resistance arising in accelerated frames from the distortion of the zero- point (and otherwise superfluid) field of the vacuum.

More than inertia, also mass appears to be a product of vacuum inter- action. If Haisch and collaborators are right, the concept of mass is neither fundamental nor even necessary in physics. When the massless electric charges of the vacuum (the bosons that make up the superfluid zero- point field) interact with the electromagnetic field, beyond the already noted threshold of energy, mass is effectively "created." Thus mass may be a structure condensed from vacuum energy, rather than a fundamental given in the universe.

If mass is a product of vacuum energy, so is gravitation. Gravity, as we know, is always associated with mass, obeying the inverse square law (it drops off proportionately to the square of the distance between the gravitating masses). Hence if mass is produced in interaction with the ZPF, then also the force that is associated with mass must be so produced. This, however, means that all the fundamental characteristics we normally associate with matter are vacuum field- interaction products: inertia, mass, as well as gravity.

In regard to the full scale of interactions between vacuum energies and the micro- as well as macro- world of matter- energy, the work of a group of Russian physicists is of particular significance. Anatoly Akimov, G.I. Shipov, V.N. Binghi and co- workers developed a sophisticated theory of what they call the "physical vacuum." In their theory the vacuum is a real physical field extending throughout the universe: it registers and transmits the traces of both micro- particles and macro- objects.[21]

The theory, which at the time of writing has not been published outside Russia, is important and fascinating enough to merit some further details.

They take their cue from earlier work by Einstein. In a seminal treatment, G.I. Shiphov showed that in accordance with the Clifford- Einstein program of the geometrization of spacetime, the vacuum can be described not only in terms of Riemannian (four- dimensional) curvature, but also in terms of Cartan torsion. In the 1920s studies carried out by Albert Einstein and E. Cartan laid the foundation of the theory that became subsequent known as the ECT (Einstein- Cartan Theory). The idea stemmed originally from Cartan, who at the beginning of the century speculated about fields generated by angular momentum density. This idea was later elaborated independently by a number of Russian physicists, including N. Myshkin and V. Belyaev. They claim to have discovered the natural manifestations of enduring torsion fields.

Presently Akimov and his team consider the quantum vacuum as a universal torsion wave carrying medium. The torsion field is said to fill all of space isotropically, including its matter component. It has a quantal structure that is unobservable in non- disturbed states. However, violations of vacuum symmetry and invariance create different, and in principle observable, states.

The torsion field theory takes a modified form of the original electron- positron model of the "Dirac- sea": the vacuum's energy field is viewed as a system of rotating wave packets of electrons and positrons (rather than a sea of electron- positron pairs). Where the wave- packets are mutually embedded, the field is electrically neutral. If the spins of the embedded packets have the opposite sign, the system is compensated not only in charge, but also in classical spin and magnetic moment. Such a system is said to be a "phyton." Dense ensembles of phytons are said to approximate a simplified model of the physical vacuum field.

As a result Akimov et al. view the vacuum as a physical medium that can assume various polarization states. Given charge polarization, the vacuum is manifested as the electromagnetic field. Given matter- polarization, it is manifested as the gravitational field. And given spin- polarization, the vacuum manifests as a spin- field. All fundamental fields known to physics correspond to specific vacuum polarization- states.

Thus the above "torsion- field theory of the physical vacuum" can claim that all objects, from quanta to galaxies, create vortices in the vacuum. The vortices created by particles and other material objects are information carriers, linking physical events quasi- instantaneously. The group- speed of these "torsion- waves" is of the order of 10e9 C — one billion times the speed of light. Since not just physical objects, also the neurons in our brain create and receive torsion- waves, not only particles are "informed" of each other's presence (as in the famous EPR experiments), also humans can be so informed: our brain, too, is a vacuum- based "torsion- field transceiver." This suggests a physical explanation not only of quantum non- locality, but also of telepathy, remote viewing, and the other telesomatic effects discussed above.[22]

Meta- stable "torsion- phantoms" generated by spin- torsion interaction can persist even in the absence of the objects that generated them. The existence of these phantoms has been confirmed in the experiments of Vladimir Poponin and his team at the Institute of Biochemical Physics of the Russian Academy of Sciences.[23]

Poponin, who has since repeated the experiment at the Heartmath Institute in the US, placed a sample of a DNA molecule into a temperature controlled chamber and subjected it to a laser beam. He found that the electromagnetic field around the chamber exhibits a specific structure, more or less as expected. But he also found that this structure persists long after the DNA itself has been removed from the laser- irradiated chamber: the DNA's imprint in the field continues to be present when the DNA is no longer there. Poponin and his collaborators conclude that the experiment shows that a new field structure has been triggered from the physical vacuum. This field is extremely sensitive; it can be excited by a range of energies close to zero. The phantom effect is a manifestation, they claim, of a hitherto overlooked vacuum substructure.

Theories such as those we have cited here foreshadow a major leap in the scientific world picture: the physical foundations of the universe acquire an active role in all its functions and processes. Life, and even mind, is a manifestation of the constant if subtle interaction of the wave- packets classically known as "matter" with the underlying physically real zero- point vacuum field.

If the emerging world picture is to be completed, we must evolve an explicit hypothesis to describe the basic dynamics of the overall range of matter- vacuum interaction. In this writer's "quantum- vacuum interaction (QVI) hypothesis," the non- classical energy field of the vacuum (consisting of scalar as well as electromagnetic wave propagations) registers the spacetime behaviour and evolution of matter- energy systems in the form of interfering wavefronts. The conserved interference patterns form a holographic information field accessible to systems with a stereo-dynamic pattern isomorphic to the systems that produced the patterns. The applicable process can be described as forward and reverse Fourier (more exactly, Gabor) transforms.

Hence matter- energy systems ranging from quanta to complex atomic, molecular, cellular and multi-cellular structures, including human brains, decode ("read out") the information they and analogous systems have encoded ("read into") the field. Given that wavefronts superpose in multiple dimensions, the ZPF of the vacuum acts as an information- conserving and transmitting universal holofield, intercon- necting systems with each other, as well as with their subsidiary systems (internal parts) and suprasystems (external environments).[24]

The astonishing psi- phenomena that come to light in controlled experiments, and the equally astonishing findings of expert psychotherapists cannot be dismissed as mere chimera, figments of a fertile but undisciplined imagination. The findings are part and parcel of the manifestation of human consciousness: an entity whose subconscious domains extend far beyond the confines of the subject's brain and organism.

The findings may be real, yet their acceptance hinges critically on discovering ways to connect them with the received frameworks of knowledge. As long as there is no conceivable tie between an anomaly and the basic paradigm that frames knowledge in the pertinent field, the anomaly will remain just that: a paradoxical, uncomprehended item, relegated to the back shelf of the science establishment. Recognition of a conceivable tie could, however, make for a significant difference — it could open up feasible avenues of conceptual analysis, theory- formulation, and experimental testing. For that reason likely hypotheses of brain- brain and brain- universe (or, in an alternative terminology, consciousness- consciousness, and consciousness- world) interaction need to be seriously scrutinized, for intrinsic meaningfulness, consistency with observations, as well as mesh with the currently known frameworks of explanation.

In the here discussed case the scientific validation of the findings would have an additional bonus. Not only would it introduce greater coherence into our world picture — binding together the hitherto anomalous findings of consciousness research with our knowledge of the physical world — it would also introduce greater coherence into human affairs. As thoughtful observers have frequently remarked, many of our current ills are due to the sense of separateness and lack of empathy we experience vis- à- vis our fellow humans and the nonhuman realms of nature (in modern societies, as Woody Allen quipped, "nature and I are two").

The scientist's recognition that we do have deeper ties to each other and to the natural environment could make a significant impact on the media, and therewith on the dominant attitudes of the public.
T.S. Eliot asked, "What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow out of this stony rubbish? Son of man you cannot say, or guess, for you know only a heap of broken images..." Perhaps, the exploration of our subtle ties with each other and with nature could enable us to know more than a heap of broken images. It could help us to recognize Bateson's "pattern that connects": the subtle connecting pattern present in the cosmos and in the biosphere — and likewise in our brain and consciousness.

Ervin Laslo

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