The French novelist Victor Hugo once remarked that « Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come ». As an ancient esoteric concept, Holism has re-emerged in the West, after a long absence. Applied extensively in Eastern philosophy, the influence of the Oneness principle is now being felt in Western thought, through more integrative forms of medicine and more holistic social, economic and environmental policies. However, in this new millennium, the findings of cutting edge science are taking our global village well beyond the boundaries of the World Wide Web, into a brave new world. From neurobiology to psychiatry, from parapsychology to quantum physics, more and more researchers, including Nobel prize laureates, are concluding that humankind’s three dimensional reality could in fact be an elaborate « projection », mediated by the brain and materialised by the vibration and energy of our thoughts and feelings.
The idea that we create our own reality through our thoughts, emotions and beliefs is an ancient concept. Mentioned in the Bible two thousand years ago: “It is done unto you as you believe” and “as you think, so shall you be” the power of the mind in shaping reality is also mentioned by the Buddha who says: “As a man thinketh, so is he”. In more recent times, this philosophy has been known as the Law of Attraction, which can be defined as: “like onto itself is drawn”.
What is the truth about the Law of Attraction? Is there a secret locked inside of us, waiting to be released, like the genie in Aladdin’s lamp? Who are we really? This article seeks to address some of these fundamental questions, by enlisting the help of a fascinating scientific theory, birthed by quantum mechanics’ earliest findings. First established by theoretical physicist David Bohm and neuroscientist Karl Pribram, and more recently reintroduced by theoretical physicist Juan Maldacena, The Holographic Universe theory has been hailed by a growing number of scientists, desperate for a change in our world view, as the most elegant explanation of our reality yet. By offering a non-dualistic or holistic model of reality, more capable than any other in unravelling some of our most intractable secrets, the hologram theory quite simply stands traditional materialism on its head.
I will first attempt to explain the Holographic Universe theory, before offering specific examples of its profound consequences on our everyday lives. Indeed, what we know as the paranormal, the supernatural and the extraordinary may well be more normal, natural and ordinary than we think. What follows then is a scientific explanation for these so called mysteries including: the placebo effect, distance healing and synchronicities which will be explored, in the second half of this study.
The repercussions of the 1927 Copenhagen Congress, which mark the birth of quantum physics, are so profound, that they have only just begun to ripple into our entrenched Newtonian perceptions of reality. One of quantum physics’ earliest and most shocking findings, was that an electron can manifest as either a particle or a wave. The single category known as wave-particles were baptised quanta. Even more incredible, it was found that these quanta only coalesce into particles when they are being observed (The observer effect). The findings that subatomic particles only exist when observed, when combined with another quantum discovery, namely that some subatomic processes (through positronium decay) result in the creation of a pair of particles (photons) with identical or closely related properties, implied that subatomic particles were interconnected.
David Bohm, a former protégé of Einstein’s and one of the twentieth century’s most respected quantum physicists, intrigued by this bizarre state of interconnectedness, over time developed a theory based on holograms, now known as three-dimensional images projected into space with the aid of a laser. Later joined by Stanford neurophysiologist Karl Pribram, one of the architects of our modern understanding of the brain – Bohm concluded that the universe itself might well be a giant hologram of interference wave patterns, a three dimensional image or construct, created at least, in part, by the human mind.(i) According to Bohm’s interpretation of the sub-quantum level, location ceased to exist. All points in space thereby become equal to all other points in space. Physicists call this property “non-locality”.
In like manner to Bohm’s conclusions, neuroscientist Karl Pribram made a similar discovery, while working on memory and the brain. Known as the Holonomic brain theory, he discovered that processing in the brain occurs in a non-local manner, for when a part of it was removed, global memory was still retained. While David Bohm has suggested that without the lenses that outfit our telescopes, the universe would appear to us as a hologram, Karl Pribram has extended the idea by noting that without the lens like processes of our senses, we would be immersed in a hologram. Indeed, it is interesting to note that the stories of patients having had a Near Death Experience often resemble that of a hologram. In the absence of physical eyes and ears with which to see and hear –interpreters of sound and light vibration, respectively – it would appear that the clinically dead, at least for a short while, awoke from the dream of life. Voltaire might well have been right when he mused that “life is a dream and death an awakening”.
The early contributions of these two pioneers in the holographic universe theory have spawned more recent research work including that of theoretical physicist Juan Maldacena. In this new take on string theory, Maldacena views the nine dimensions of space plus one of time, as a hologram.(ii) Furthermore, the scientific journal Nature, recently published an article in December of 2013 and entitled Simulations back up theory that the Universe is a hologram. The article mentions the findings of a Japanese researcher who has provided compelling evidence substantiating Maldecena’s holographic universe claim.(iii)
Physicist William Tiller, head of the Department of Material Science at Stanford University supports Bohm’s holographic idea and compares the universe to the “holodeck” on Star Trek: The Next Generation. In fact, several world renown scientists are calling for a paradigm change in science that would completely alter our view of reality. David Bohm’s model is finding the support of such eminent people as Roger Penrose of Oxford, the creator of the modern theory of the Black Hole, Bernard d’Espagnat of the University of Paris, one of the world’s leading authorities on the conceptual foundations of quantum theory, and Cambridge’s Brian Josephson, winner of the 1973 Nobel Prize in Physics. Josephson believes that Bohm’s theory may someday even lead to the inclusion of God or Mind within the framework of science. If we have not yet reached what Thomas Kuhn calls a Scientific Revolution, it would appear that current cutting edge science is inexorably pointing us in that direction.
If our universe and everything in it, including ourselves, is a holographic projection, or as Neal Donald Walsh calls us “an individuation of the singularly” what does this mean, in concrete terms for humanity? How can this knowledge of universal interconnectedness be applied in our daily lives? One area of great promise is that of health and medicine. Science is now discovering the degree to which our thoughts and emotions change the conditions of our bodies. This is the basis of the well-researched placebo effect, used regularly in medical trials around the world. This effect has been shown to cure anywhere from 10 to 100% of people, depending on the type of illness and the nature of the trial. One of the earliest placebo experiments was performed in 1950. Published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, a group of 33 pregnant women, suffering from morning sickness were told that they would be given a drug that would stop their nausea and vomiting. After taking the drug all 33 women reported that their nausea and vomiting had stopped. So the drug had been very effective. The only problem was that the women weren’t given a drug to reduce nausea and vomiting but one that should have made them even sicker, syrup of ipecac. So a strong desire to feel better coupled with a belief in the suggestion that the drug would work was able to override the powerful effects of the nausea inducing syrup.
Hundreds if not thousands of scientific studies have been published in the last half century on mind-body communication, including the 1995 Institute of Heartmath study, published in the American Journal of Cardiology where it was found that thoughts of appreciation and anger produce opposite effects on the heart or the 2006 University of Utah study, demonstrating that a hostile attitude among married couples can cause heart disease. Heartmath scientists even found that 5 minutes of “care and compassion” caused a boosting of the immune system for 5 hours while “anger and frustration” caused the immune system to be depressed for 5 hours.
So powerful are emotions on the body that science has now discovered an entire psychosomatic network of molecules connecting the body and mind. Discovered in 1972 and called neuropeptides, these “molecules of emotion” are responsible for numerous bodily functions. The hundreds of neuropeptides located throughout our bodies cause a whole cascade of changes in our physical bodies, based purely on the expression of thoughts and emotions. Science is even demonstrating how thoughts and feelings can switch genes on and off, as well as change our DNA. The research of the effect of our thoughts and feelings on our genes has even led to the creation of a new field in science known as psychosocial genomics.
While science has clearly demonstrated that our thoughts and feelings express themselves throughout our own biology, research is now incredibly also beginning to understand how our thoughts and feelings affect others and our outer reality. Scientific research has proven that a good mood is infectious. Published in the Journal of Nonverbal Behaviour in 1981, it was found that when a person in a good mood sat opposite someone in a bad mood for 2 minutes, their good mood was transmitted, subconsciously improving the person with the bad mood. This is profound in its implications for, if you have the power to change someone’s mood by your own mood, then your mood also has the power to change their biology; basically, joyful thoughts and words can quite literally heal. The reverse is also true.
Since everything is energy and vibration, connected throughout the holographic universe by our thoughts and emotions, healing outside of ourselves becomes possible. For instance, a study conducted in 1999 by Toni Bunnell at the University of Hull, in England studied the effect of healing touch on an enzyme called pepsin. Over a series of 20 trials, she found that the healer speeded up the rate that the pepsin carried out its converting. Similarly, a 1984 study looked at the effects of healing on the mutation of live bacteria. The researchers discovered that there were many more lac-positive E-coli bacteria in the tubes where the volunteers were asked to speed up the mutation and many fewer lac-positive E-coli in the tubes where they were asked to slow the mutation down.
However, since everything is connected, within the holographic universe, the power of the mind can also heal, at a distance. A 2004 study jointly performed by the California Pacific Medical Center, The Institute of Noetic Sciences and MD Anderson Cancer Center at the University of Texas found that practitioners using qigong were able to influence human-cultured brain cells, at a distance. Each practitioner directed healing intentions towards the cells for 20 minutes and was able to speed up the rate of growth of the cells.
One of the greatest discoveries in this field of physics, as mentioned earlier, is that quanta can express themselves as either potential waves (the hologram) or as manifested particles (the virtual world in which we operate). The combustion point for this conversion from wave to physical particle is observation. This quantum field of energy, also known as chi, is influenced by intention, which can either be individual or collective. Group prayer or intending seems to have the greatest influence on vibrational wave patterns, affecting more than just our physiology. It can also affect our behaviour, as evidenced by recent studies on crime. In one such study published in the Journal of Crime and Justice in 1981, several hundred expert meditators gathered together in a city and meditated. FBI statistics gathered over the following year recorded substantially lower crime rates. Other studies have been conducted in several cities around the world, with similar results. The excellent book, The Intention Experiments by Lyn McTaggert relates a whole host of such experiments, performed in recent years.
But intention can also manifest in more unusual ways. Coined by the famous Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Jung, a synchronicity is a meaningful coincidence between two or more events. It is perhaps here, in the baffling rendezvous’ with people, events and circumstances, where the Holographic Universe is most shockingly at work. If ever material evidence was needed to prove the creative power of our mind, within the framework of this divine matrix, synchronicity is without a doubt the smoking gun! Yet our knowledge of meaningful coincidence is so devoid of any intellectual study, of so little understanding of its underlying mechanism that it leads one to conclude that it is not the effort that dissuades people from delving into its study so much as the fear of what such studies might do to our pre-established view of reality. I have been fascinated by synchronicities for many years now, having experienced many myself. One of the most recent and relevant to this article occurred while I was in Lilydale, New York, attending a workshop on quantum manifestation. At one point the speaker began talking about our reality as a hologram. Interestingly enough, I had brought a book with me to read during the weekend, called the Holographic Universe by Michael Talbot. During lunch, I went to visit the library with my friends. I was instantly drawn to one of the bookshelves. The very first book that I took off the shelf was none other than the Holographic Universe, the same book lying on my night stand! My thoughts and emotions had been consistently on this topic for some time. This synchronicity was but a further example for me to ponder of how our thoughts are quantum waves patterns that eventually manifest into solid particle form.
Could it be that our reality is but a reflection of the balance of our thoughts? These are the age old conclusions reached by mystics, philosophers and spiritual teachers the world over. The interconnectedness of the holographic universe can be seen in the harmonious flight patterns of birds in the sky or the perfect swimming formations of fish. It can also be seen when a group of monkeys on the mainland all begin to wash their food in exactly the same way as a group of monkeys on an isolated island. This by the way, is known as the “hundredth monkey” experiment, conducted in 1952 on an island off the coast of Japan. It’s almost as if information was downloaded into what Carl Jung calls the collective unconscious and then it reaches a tipping point, before it is downloaded to all the individuals of the same species, through their DNA. How else can it be explained that two inventors on opposite sides of the planet can come up with the same idea, at the same time? If we are all one or as Neal Donald Walsh puts it: “the individuations of a singularity”, then the paranormal becomes normal, the supernatural becomes natural and the extraordinary becomes ordinary.
The esoteric science known as alchemy has known this for millennia, using the Greek formula En To pan or All is One as its central mantra. Pantheism is also a derivative of this holistic belief in the unity of all things, whereby God exists in all matter, as living consciousness. Some scientists surmise that the pinnacle in human evolution is the awakening of our consciousness to our own divinity, as creators of our own reality. I hope that this article will have been helpful in explaining the Holographic Universe theory, and in underscoring some of its practical applications in our everyday lives, as the author, main character and narrator of a much grander, cosmic play.
(i)For more information on the science of Bohm’s theory please refer to Michael Talbot’s excellent book The Holographic Universe, New York: Harper Collins, 1991.
(ii)Maldacena, J. M. Adv. Theor. Math. Phys. 2, 231–252 (1998).
(iii)Hyakutake, Y. Preprint available HERE (2013).