The latest advances in the empirical sciences give us a new view of reality. The new view has fundamental implications for the way we interact with physical, biological, ecological, human, and socio-cultural systems in the world around us. Since the emerging view is an essentially systemic view, it provides a better grasp of the interrleations between entities and fields than the classical view. It is of direct relevant to the quest for safeguarding the iterrelated and interacting network that is the essential feature of our world.
The basic concepts
The physics can now affirm with a high degree of confidence that ours is not a universe where matter moves about in neutral space, governed by simple rules of cause and effect. The classical concept of mass-points governed by rigorous universal forces of cause and effect in passive and uniform three-dimensional space and in likewise passive and uniformly flowing time is superseded. In the new concept the universe is an interconnected system.
The emerging insight is that ours is an evolving, instantly and enduringly interconnected fundamentally integral reality. What we call “matter” is a wave form energy-pattern in this medium.
Quanta—the particles we used to think of as the building blocks of material reality—turned out to be more like waves than like corpuscles. The fundamentally wave nature of quanta was shown recently by an ingenious experiment by the Iranian-American physicist Shahriar Afshar. The experiment, a modified version of the familiar “dual-slit experiment” pioneered by Thomas Young at the beginning of the nineteenth century, demonstrated that of the dual aspects of particles—wave-like and corpuscular—the wave aspect is fundamental. Even when the experiment is so set up that the corpuscular aspect of a particle is observed, the wave aspect is still there, as shown by the interference pattern formed by the waves that builds up on the screen; it does not disappear when the photons—seemingly discrete entities—pass one or the other of the two slits, presumably one by one. Nils Bohr’s celebrated “complementary principle”—which claims that a particle can behave as a corpuscle or a wave but never both at the same time—suggests that the alternative properties of the particle are complementary: although not appearing singly, together they fully describe the particle’s state. But in Afshar’s experiment the wave aspect is present even when the corpuscular aspect is observed, whereas the corpuscular aspect is not present when the wave aspect is queried.
The implications of such findings are revolutionary. Although what we perceive with our senses is solid matter moving about in empty space, in reality the material universe, including particles, stars, planets, rocks, and living organisms, is not material: matter-like things are standing, propagating, and interacting waves in a subtending medium.
The concept of a physical field that subtends the three-dimensional world of space and time surfaced in the course of the twentieth century. Until the beginning of that century space was believed to be filled with a luminiferous ether that produces friction when bodies move through it. When in the Michelson-Morley experiments such friction failed to materialize, the ether was removed from the physicists’ world picture. The absolute vacuum took its place. However, the vacuum turned out to be far from empty space. In the “grand unified theories” (GUTs) developed in the second half of the twentieth century the concept of the vacuum transformed from empty space into the medium that carries the zero-point field, or ZPF (so-called because in this field energies prove to be present even when all classical forms of energy vanish: at the absolute zero of temperature). Ever more interactions have come to light between this fundamental field and observed things and processes. In the 1960s Paul Dirac showed that fluctuations in fermion fields produce a polarization of the ZPF of the vacuum, whereby the vacuum in turn affects the particles’ mass, charge, spin, or angular momentum. At around the same time Andrei Sakharov proposed that relativistic phenomena (the slowing down of clocks and the shrinking of yardsticks near the speed of light) are the result of effects induced in the vacuum due to the shielding of the zero-point field by charged particles. In current super-grand unified theories (super-GUTs) all the forces and fields of the universe are traced to origins in the “unified vacuum.”
However, in the technical framework of quantum field theory the vacuum is not a part of physical reality. It is a theoretical artifact, a requirement of the mathematics of the field theory. The insight that the vacuum is a real, and indeed fundamental, medium does not derive from the mathematics of quantum field theory but from significant, if necessarily indirect, evidence accumulated independently in a vast variety of observations.
The evidence for the realistic concept is of two kinds. One comes from the new physics and cosmology: more and more scientists are coming to the conclusion that the level of quanta, and of spacetime itself, is not the ultimate level in the universe. There is also a level below quanta and spacetime, a level from which spacetime and the quanta that populate it have emerged. The other kind of evidence concerns the observation that quanta and the things composed of quanta (living organisms included) are intrinsically and, as it appears, “nonlocally” connected. This raises the possibility that the fundamental level of the universe is not merely at the origin of the things that populate space and time, but is also the medium that interconnects them.
These strands of evidence suggest that the mathematical vacuum concept of quantum field theory is not a full description of what is still generally (and now misleadingly) called “vacuum.” There are two different kinds of vacuum concepts in contemporary physics: the by now “classical” concept of the vacuum as a theoretical construct, and the emerging, revolutionary concept of the vacuum as a fundamental medium in the universe. In order to avoid mixing up these different concepts, it is advisable to surrender the label “vacuum” in regard to the new concept; it does not fit it in any case.
Former MIT physicist Milo Wolf summed up the radical implications of the vacuum viewed as a fundamental medium. According to Wolf, this medium is the single source of matter and natural law in the universe. His conclusion: “Since the waves of each particle are intermingled with the waves of other matter and all contribute to the density of the medium, it follows that every charged particle is part of the universe and the universe is part of each charged particle.”
The realistic conccept of the vacuum completes and complements Einstein’s theory of relativity (although it places in doubt one of its pillars, the constancy of the speed of light). Relativity theory views spacetime as relative and dynamic, interacting with matter and energy. It is the “background” against which the events of the manifest world unfold. But the origins of this background are not accounted for in relativity theory: spacetime is simply “given,” together with matter and energy. This is much the same in the currently elaborated TOE’s (so-called theories of everything). TOEs would be truly theories of everything only if they were “background independent”; that is, if they did not merely assume the presence of spacetime, but showed how it arose in the universe. The TOEs developed to date, based for the most part on string and super-string theories, cannot do this. Even the highly accomplished M-Brane version of superstring theory advanced by Edward Witten in 1995 fails to provide an answer (this theory has other problems as well: it also does not account for the existence of dark matter, and calls for eleven dimensions in the universe rather than the experienced three and relativity theory’s four).
The current impasse points toward the need to recognize a deeper floor of the universe. “If we are ever going to find an element in nature that explains space and time,” Princeton physicist John Wheeler asserted, “we surely have to find something that is deeper than space or time—something that itself has no location in space or time.”
There is also independent evidence speaking to the reality of a cosmic plenum. Since Einstein published his general theory of relativity in 1915, important evidence has come to light regarding the existence of a medium that would underlie the observable manifestations of the universe. Initially this cosmic medium was identified with space itself. In the nineteenth century, mathematician William Clifford suggested that small portions of space are analogous to little hills on a surface that is, on average, flat; the ordinary forces of geometry do not hold for them. The property of space to be curved or distorted, he said, is continually being passed on from one portion of space to another after the manner of a wave. This variation in the curvature of space is what really happens when matter moves. Thus in the physical world nothing else takes place but this wavelike variation.
In his 1930 paper “The Concept of Space” Einstein himself noted, “We have now come to the conclusion that space is the primary thing and matter only secondary; we may say that space, in revenge for its former inferior position, is now eating up matter.” A few years following the publication of Einstein’s thought, Erwin Schrödinger restated the basic insight. “What we observe as material bodies and forces” he noted, “are nothing but shapes and variations in the structure of space.”
A further strand of evidence concerns the propagation of light in empty space. There is significant evidence that relativity theory’s claim that the speed of light is constant in a vacuum is not universally true. Already in 1913 G. Sagnac provided experimental proof that the speed of light varies with the clockwise and anticlockwise rotation of the light source, but this finding was almost entirely disregarded by the physics community. As of mid-century other investigators, notably Herbert Ives and Ernest Silvertooth, provided experimental evidence for variations in the speed of light in what can no longer be considered empty space. Then, in independent experiments carried out in the late 1990s, Lene Hau and M. Fleischauer showed that light slows down, and ultimately freezes, at temperatures approaching absolute zero. The observed constant speed of 299,792,458 meters per second may be valid only as the general case in this universe.
More and more theories ascribe physical properties to space, more exactly, to the field or medium that subtends space. The Italian physicists Davide Fiscaletti and Amrit Sorli suggested that the stage on which natural phenomena take place is an a-temporal four-dimensional physical space (ATPS). “Empty” space, as well as the manifest quanta that make up observable reality, are constituted of “quanta of space” (QS) within the ATPS; the QS are the fundamental building blocks of physical reality. They are of Planck-length; they vibrate at a “basic frequency,” while the quanta of the manifest world vibrate at lower frequencies. Each manifest quantum is the result of the interaction of energy in the “entropy-state” with one or more QS—the latter are in a non-entropy-state. Quanta devoid of internal structure (such as quarks, leptons, and intermediate bosons) are the result of interaction with one quantum of space; particles endowed with internal structure (baryons constituted of three quarks and mesons made up of a quark-antiquark pair) are the product of interaction with several QS.
Fiscaletti and Sorli maintain that, as both quanta and fields are special states of a-temporal physical space, the latter is ontologically primary. The universe, they conclude, is an a-temporal phenomenon, and the Planck-length quanta of space are its elementary constituents.
Whilst experimentation and theory-building continues, it is already safe to say that truly empty space is relegated to history. The reality recognized at the frontiers of physics is a cosmic plenum filled with universal forces and virtual particles. The observable and measurable world of particles and particle interactions is a subset of this plenum. At the birth of this universe particles and the entire interacting world of particles emerged out of the cosmic plenum and it is into this plenum that they die back at the final evaporation of galaxy-size black holes.
The floor of the universe is deeper than it was believed until recently. Underlying the manifest three-dimensional world of particles, forces, and interactions there is a world that does not contain energy and matter in the known form, nor does it include space and time in the accepted sense.
The deeper floor of the universe is not the only surprising discovery at the cutting edge of the sciences. It also turns out that coherence in the universe is far greater and far more universal than was hitherto thought. It is quasi-instantaneous throughout space and enduring in time.
The phenomenon of coherence is well known: it concerns light waves that have a constant difference in phase. In a condition of coherence phase relations remain constant and processes and rhythms are harmonized. Ordinary light sources are coherent over a few yards; lasers, microwaves, and other technological light sources remain coherent for considerably greater distances. But the kind of coherence that is coming to light in various branches of the empirical sciences is more complex and significant. It indicates a quasi-instant connection among the parts or elements of a thing, whether that thing is a quantum, an atom, an organism, or a galaxy. This kind of coherence surfaces in fields as diverse as quantum physics, biology, cosmology, and brain and consciousness research.
Coherence in the Quantum Domain
The first experiment to demonstrate the coherence of quanta was conducted by Thomas Young in 1801. In Young’s “double-slit experiment” (noted in the foregoing chapter) light is allowed to pass through a filtering screen with two slits. The beam of light is extremely weak, so that each light particle—photon—is emitted separately (in current versions of the experiment, lasers are used for this purpose). The individually emitted photons pass through the first screen but another screen is then placed behind the first, to register the photons that traverse the first. Then, just as when water is allowed to flow through a small hole, the light beam made up of the photons fans out and forms a diffraction pattern. The pattern shows the wave-aspect of light and is not paradoxical in itself. The paradox comes in when a second slit is opened in the top screen. This results in a superposition of two diffraction patterns, although each photon was emitted individually and has presumably traveled through only one of the two slits. Yet the waves behind the slits form a characteristic interference pattern, canceling each other when their phase difference is one hundred and eighty degrees, and reinforcing each other when they are in phase. Although they pass through different slits, they interact instantly with each other. As waves, they could pass through both slits. But as particles that were emitted individually they have the properties of corpuscles and could pass through only one of the slits.
John Wheeler’s “split-beam” experiment discloses the same effect. In this experiment, too, photons are emitted one at a time, and they travel from the emitting gun to a detector. A half-silvered mirror is inserted along the photon’s path, splitting the beam. On the average, one in every two photons is expected to pass through the mirror and one in every two to be deflected by it. This expectation is borne out: photon counters inserted behind the half-silvered mirror and at right angles to it register an approximately equal number of photons. But when a second half-silvered mirror is inserted in the path of the photons undeflected by the first mirror, all photons arrive at one destination and none at the other. This suggests that the kind of interference that was noted in the double-slit experiment also occurs in the split-beam experiment. Above one of the mirrors the interference is destructive (the phase difference between the photons is 180 degrees), so that the photons, as waves, cancel each other. Below the other mirror the interference is constructive (since the wave phase of the photons is the same) and the photon waves reinforce each other.
The interference patterns of photons emitted moments apart in the laboratory is also observed when the photons are emitted at considerable distances from the observer and at considerable intervals of time. In the “cosmological” version of the split-beam experiment the observed photons are those that were emitted by a distant star; in one case, by the double quasar known as 0957+516A,B. This distant “quasi-stellar object” appears to be two objects, but is in fact one, its double image being due to the deflection of some of its light by an intervening galaxy. The photons of the light beam deflected by the intervening galaxy have been on the way fifty thousand years longer than the photons in the undeflected beam. Yet the photons, originating billions of years ago and arriving with an interval of fifty thousand years between them, interfere with each other similarly to those emitted seconds apart in the same laboratory.
The coherence of quanta is further shown by experiments with so-called which-path detectors (detectors that “label” the individually emitted photons in order to identify which path they have taken, which of the slits they have passed through). When the which-path detectors are active, the quanta begin to behave as classical objects: their interference is damped (physicists note that the “interference fringes” that build up on the screen diminish). In the experiment conducted by Eyal Buks, Mordehai Heiblum, and collaborators at Israel’s Weizmann Institute, a device less than one micrometer created a stream of electrons across a barrier on one of the two paths. The paths focused the electron streams and made possible the measuring of the level of interference of the electrons in the streams. The investigators found that the higher the detector is tuned for sensitivity, the less pronounced is the interference. With the detector turned on for both paths, the interference fringes disappear entirely.
Other experiments show that the interference fringes disappear as soon as the detector is installed, even if it is not turned on. In Leonard Mandel’s optical-interference experiment of 1991 two beams of laser light were generated and allowed to interfere. When a detector was present that enabled the path of the light to be determined, the interference fringes disappeared. But the fringes disappeared regardless of whether or not the determination was carried out. This showed that the very possibility of “which-path-detection” destroys the interference pattern.
The above finding was confirmed in 1998 by Dürr, Nunn, and Rempe in an experiment where interference fringes were produced by the diffraction of a beam of cold atoms by standing waves of light. When no attempt was made to detect which path the atoms were taking, the interferometer displayed fringes of high contrast. However, when information was encoded within the atoms as to the path they took, the fringes vanished. The labeling of the paths did not need to be read out to produce the disappearance of the interference pattern; it was enough that the atoms were labeled so that this information could be read out.
It appears that not only do individually emitted, and hence presumably corpuscular, particles or atoms interfere with each other as waves, but a which-path detecting apparatus is also coherently coupled with the stream of particles or atoms to which the apparatus is tuned. These findings bear out the concept of “entanglement” suggested by Schrödinger in 1935. Quanta occupy collective quantum states. The quantum states of all particles within a system of coordinates are “superposed” so that it is not the property of a single particle that carries information, but the state of the system of coordinates in which the particle is embedded. In that system the individual particles are intrinsically “entangled” with each other. The superposed wave function of the whole system describes the state of each particle in it.
Coherence at the level of the Cosmos
(1) The coherence of cosmic ratios. A number of noteworthy coincidences have come to light regarding the physical parameters of the universe. In the 1930s Sir Arthur Eddington and Paul Dirac noted that the ratio of the electric force to the gravitational force is approximately 1040, and the ratio of the observable size of the universe to the size of elementary particles is likewise around 1040. This is all the more surprising, given that the former ratio should be unchanging (the two forces are assumed to be constant), whereas the latter is changing (since the universe is expanding). In his “large number hypothesis,” Dirac speculated that the agreement of these ratios, the one variable, the other not, is not merely a temporary coincidence. But if the coincidence is more than temporary, either the universe is not expanding, or the force of gravitation varies in accordance with its expansion.
Additional coincidences involve the ratio of elementary particles to the Planck-length (which is 1020) and the number of nucleons in the universe (“Eddington’s number,” approximately 2 x 1079). These are very large numbers, yet harmonic numbers can be constructed from them. (Eddington’s number, for example, is roughly equal to the square of 1040.)
Recently physicist Lee Smolins discovered additional numerical coincidences. Observations indicate that the cosmic microwave background radiation is dominated by a large peak followed by smaller harmonic peaks. The series ends at the longest wavelength Smolins terms R. When R is divided by the speed of light, we obtain a measure of time that agrees with the age of the universe. When in turn the speed of light is divided by R, we get a frequency that equates to once cycle over the age of the universe. And the speed of light squared and divided by R (c2/R) gives a measure of acceleration in the universe that corresponds to the acceleration observed and attributed to dark energy!
Menas Kafatos and Robert Nadeau showed that many of the coincidences can on the one hand be interpreted in terms of the relationship between the masses of elementary particles and the total number of nucleons in the universe, and on the other in terms of the relationship between the gravitational constant, the charge of the electron, Planck’s constant, and the speed of light. Scale-invariant relationships appear. The physical parameters of the universe turn out to be generally proportional to its overall dimensions.
(2) The coherence of the universal constants. Coherence among the numerical parameters of the universe is complemented by coherence among the values of the universal laws that govern interaction in space and time: the “universal constants.” The coherence of the constants involves upward of thirty factors and considerable accuracy. For example, if the expansion rate of the early universe had been one-billionth less than it was, the universe would have re-collapsed almost immediately; if it had been one-billionth more, it would have flown apart so fast that it could produce only dilute, cold gases. A similarly small difference in the strength of the electromagnetic field relative to the gravitational field would have prevented the existence of hot and stable stars like the Sun, and hence the evolution of life on planets that are physically capable of supporting life. Moreover, if the difference between the mass of the neutron and the proton were not precisely twice the mass of the electron, no substantial chemical reactions could take place, and if the electric charge of electrons and protons did not balance precisely, all configurations of matter would be unstable and the universe would consist merely of radiation and a relatively uniform mixture of gases.
That the large-scale coherence of the universe would be merely a vast series of “coincidences” is extremely improbable. It appears that already at the universe’s birth, the Big Bang that created the particle/antiparticle pairs—whose excess particles furnish the substance of the universe—was precisely tuned to produce constants that permitted the subsequent evolution of systems of growing complexity.
Coherence in the living world
(1) Quantum-type coherence in the organism. Quanta appear to be intrinsically coherent, but larger scale-systems were assumed to exist in so-called classical states—states of “de-coherence.” However, this is not the case. Complex molecules, cells, and living organisms turned out to exhibit quantum-type processes on the macroscopic scale. This was demonstrated in 1995 by Eric A. Cornell, Wolfgang Ketterle, and Carl E. Wieman, in experiments for which they received the 2001 Nobel Prize in physics. The experiments show that under certain conditions, seemingly separate particles and atoms interpenetrate as waves. For example, rubidium and sodium atoms behave not as classical particles but as nonlocal quantum waves, penetrating throughout the given system, and forming interference patterns.
In 1999 atoms of an extremely heavy isotope of carbon, known as “buckminsterfullerene” were shown to be capable of entanglement: they proved to have wave properties as well as corpuscular properties. By 2005 even complex organic molecules could be entangled, and some have been “teleported” over considerable distances in the manner of subatomic particles. And in 2007 biophysicists Gregory Engel and collaborators reported experiments that show that quantum-type coherence is present already in green sulphur bacteria: it acts as an energy “wire” that connects the light-harvesting chromosome to the bacterial reaction center. Without the wavelike energy transfer created through quantum coherence the efficient kind of photosynthesis that had allowed life to get started on this planet could not have taken place; there would not be life on Earth.
Complex organisms could not have evolved, and could not function, in the absence of the nonlocal forms of coherence. The human body, for example, consists of 1014 (100,000,000,000,000) cells, and each cell produces 10,000 bio-electro-chemical reactions every second. These all need to be quasi-instantly and dependably correlated. Moreover every night 1012 (1,000,000,000,000) cells die and are replaced by roughly the same number. The coordination of thisvast number of cells in the organism and their complex electromagnetic and chemical signaling cannot be explained by physical and chemical interactions alone. Although some signaling—for example, by control genes—is remarkably efficient, the speed with which activating processes spread in the body, as well as the complexity of these processes, makes explanation in reference to biophysics and chemistry alone insufficient. The conduction of signals through the nervous system, for example, cannot proceed faster than about sixty-six feet per second, and it cannot carry a large number of diverse signals at the same time. Yet there are quasi-instant, nonlinear, heterogeneous, and multicorrelations among all cells in the organism, conveyed through organs and entire organ systems.
Correlations of this kind suggest the form of coherence observed in the domain of the quantum. If distant cells, molecules, and molecular assemblies are to resonate at the same or compatible frequencies, they must resonate in phase: the same wave function must apply to them. This also holds true in regard to the coupling of frequencies among the assemblies: if faster and slower reactions are to accommodate themselves within a coherent overall process, the respective wave functions must coincide.
The latest findings show that the living organism is a coherent system, more exactly, a macroscopic quantum system. In the language of physics, it is governed by an integral “macroscopic wave function.”
(2) The coherent evolution of organisms. The fact that biological organisms could evolve on this planet is a strong if indirect indication of an embracing level of coherence in the living world. This coherence embraces the genome and the phenome within organisms, and organisms and their environments in the biosphere.
There is statistical as well as experimental evidence that the genetic information encoded in the organism, and the phenome that results from this information are interconnected. Contrarily to the classical Darwinian doctrine, the genome does not mutate purely randomly, unaffected by the changing states of the phenome. This is significant, for in the absence of such connection the evolution of complex organisms would be astronomically improbable: the “search space” of genetic rearrangements is so enormous that random processes would take incomparably longer to produce viable new species than the time that was available for evolution on this planet. It is not enough for genetic rearrangements to produce one or a few positive changes in a species; they must produce the full set. The evolution of feathers, for example, does not produce a reptile that can fly: radical changes in musculature and bone structure are also required, along with a faster metabolism to power sustained flight. The development of the eye requires thousands of mutations, finely coordinated with one another. Yet the probability of a single mutation producing positive results is negligible: statistically only one mutation in 20 million is likely to be viable. By itself, each mutation is likely to make the phenome less rather than more fit, and if so, it will be eliminated in time by natural selection.
An additional factor speaking against the thesis of random mutations producing viable organisms is the possibility that complex organisms are “irreducibly complex.” The parts of an irreducibly complex organism are interrelated in such a way that removing any one part destroys the function of the whole. Thus to mutate an irreducibly complex system into a viable system, every part has to be kept in a functional relationship with every other part throughout the process. According to Michael Behe, this level of precision is unlikely to be achieved by random piecemeal modifications in the genetic pool of complex biological organisms.
Coherence in the Domain of Brain and Mind
At the cutting edge of brain and consciousness research a significant body of evidence has surfaced showing that the brain functions of different individuals can achieve coherence even when the individuals are not in an ordinary form of contact with each other.
Telepathic, remote-viewing, and telesomatic phenomena are subjected to increasingly rigorous experiments. The evidence regarding the phenomenon of “twin-pain” (where one of a pair of identical twins intuits or feels the pain or trauma of the other) has been exhaustively investigated; it appears to occur in about twenty-five percent of identical twins. Spontaneous coherence in brain functions occurs also among genetically unrelated individuals. Laboratory tests show that personal contact, or an emotional bond, are often sufficient to produce the transfer of stimuli among pairs of subjects.
At the National University of Mexico Jacobo Grinberg-Zylberbaum performed more than fifty controlled stimuli-transfer experiments. He paired his subjects inside soundproof Faraday cages and asked them to meditate together for twenty minutes. Then he placed them in separate Faraday cages where one subject was stimulated and the other not. In double-blind experiments the stimulated subject received stimuli (such as flashes of light, sounds, and short, intense, but not painful electric shocks to the index and ring fingers of the right hand) at random intervals. The electroencephalograph (EEG) brain wave records of both subjects were then synchronized and examined for “normal” potentials evoked in the stimulated subject and “transferred” potentials in the non-stimulated subject. Transferred potentials appeared consistently in about twenty-five percent of the cases. In a limited way, Grinberg-Zylberbaum could also replicate these results: when one individual exhibited the transferred potentials in one experiment, he or she usually exhibited them in subsequent experiments as well.
A related ability of individuals is to achieve a high level of spontaneous synchronization of their cerebral functions. A series of experiments carried out by physician and brain researcher Nitamo Montecucco shows that in deep meditation, the left and right hemispheres of the brain manifest identical wave patterns. More remarkably, the left and right hemispheres of different subjects become synchronized. In one test, eleven out of twelve meditators achieved ninety-eight percent synchronization of the full spectrum of their EEG waves in the complete absence of sensory input. The experiment was repeated in the framework of the Global Peace Meditation/Prayer Day on the 20th of May 2007, when over a million people joined together in sixty-five countries to meditate or pray for peace. The events were carefully synchronized and focused on three time zones.
The brain-synchronization experiment was conducted at the time zone where it coincided with meditations in Europe. It involved eight meditators in the town of Bagni di Lucca in Tuscany, and eight in the city of Milan. The EEG waves of the subjects were monitored by electrodes on their heads; a computer calculated the level of synchronization among the waves. It turned out that within each of the groups the level of synchronization was not as high as in previous experiments (this was very likely because of interruptions due to problems with the equipment), but the correlation between the two groups, hundreds of miles apart and not in any ordinary form of contact with each other, was significant: it reached the value of 0.53 on the scale of probability, beyond the pale of mere serendipity.
Additional evidence of the transmission of physical effect between individuals in the absence of sensory contact is furnished by spiritual healing. Psychiatrist Daniel Benor analyzed hundreds of cases of controlled experiments in spiritual and nonlocal healing and found significant evidence of positive therapeutic effect.
The transfer of effect from healer to patient can be monitored and measured: it shows up in their EEG waves. C. Maxwell Cade of the Institute of Electrical Engineers in England tested the EEG patterns of over 3,000 people in various states of consciousness. He found five characteristic states, where each state manifests a specific combination of wave frequencies (the known frequencies are beta, with a range between 8 and 13 Hz; alpha, ranging from 8 to 13 Hz; theta, between 4 and 7 Hz; and delta, in the range of 0.5 to 4 Hz). The normal waking state is almost entirely in the range of beta. Alpha occurs in meditation and restful states, theta in half-awake or dreaming sleep states, and delta in profound dreamless sleep. Healers function typically in what Cade called the “fifth” state, consisting of a moderate amount of beta and theta, wide alpha, and no delta (though the latter finding has exceptions, as we shall see). Cade found that in the process of healing the healer induces his or her characteristic fifth state pattern in the patient.
The transfer of brain-wave pattern can also occur when healer and patient are in separate locations and neither hear nor see each other. This was shown in an experiment witnessed by this writer in southern Germany in the spring of 2001. At a seminar attended by about a hundred people, Dr. Günter Haffelder, head of the Institute for Communication and Brain Research of Stuttgart, measured the EEG patterns of Dr. Mária Sági (the scientific secretary of the Club of Budapest who is also a gifted natural healer), together with those of a young man who volunteered from among the participants. The latter remained in the seminar hall while Dr. Sági was taken to a separate room. Both healer and healee were wired with electrodes, and their EEG patterns were displayed on a monitor in the hall. During the time Dr. Sági was diagnosing and treating the young man, her EEG waves were in the theta range, and dipped even into the deeper delta region with a few eruptions of wave amplitude. The EEG of the young man, who sat in the hall in a light meditative state, exhibited the same pattern with a delay of about two seconds. Yet they had no sensory contact with each other.
The two discoveries—that of a deeper floor of the universe, and of quasi-universal coherence throughout the manifest levels of the universe—are not unrelated. This writer has shown that it is logical, and indeed minimally speculative to assume that the deep floor constitutes a field that connects the manifest phenomena, and through connection creates coherence among them. Whereas the precise physics of universal interconnection is still to be established, the observations are indubitable: the universe is coherent on the micro- as well as macro-levels, and this coherence suggests connection among its diverse elements.
These findings support the hypothesis put forward initially by Jan Smuts and subsequently affirmed by a growing number of scientists as as well as intuitive individuals: the universe is not a simple aggregate of its individually separable parts. It is a coherent whole, built as a nested hierarchy of subsidiary wholes.
The practical implications of this insight are fundamental and, in regard to medicine, often decisive. The implications support complementary or alternative approach to health-care and healing, where all parts of the organisms are considered as intrinsically interconnected and the organism as a whole is seen as intrinsically connected with its environment.
The implications lend fresh validity to the form of causality initially suggested by Roger Sperry, termed “downward causation.” In this form of causation wholes affect their parts, and not merely the parts affect the wholes (which is the standard upward form). This means that it is correct, and to the extent that it is practically feasible imperative, to consider the system that is the object of analysis as an irreducible whole, since the whole is likely to define the properties of interest exhibited by the system. Life, for example, is a property of the entire organism, and consciousness a property (or at least the manifestation) of the entire brain. Hence if a system is in need of healing or some other corrective intervention, efforts to deal with the entire network of connection that maks up the system are more likely to produce results than interactions focused uniquely on its parts.
The implications of the emergism holism of the sciences support an ecological view of events in the biosphere: a view where all elements of a system—whether it is a social, sociocultural, or ecological system—are viewed as constituting an irreducible whole. The contrary assumption, that the parts of the system can be analyzed in isolation, has greatly reduced validity. It is useful for practical purposes to consider a cell, an organ, an individual, a society, or an ecology in itself, but if the environmental context of these systems is not taken into account, the results are likely to be strongly misleading.
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