Writing is always a collaborative effort and many people have
contributed to the production of this book in various ways. It is
not possible to name them all, but a few who deserve special mention
David Bohm, Ph.D., and Karl Pribram,
Ph.D., who were generous with both their time and their ideas,
and without whose work this book would not have been written.
Barbara Brennan, M.S., Larry Dossey, M.D., Brenda Dunne, Ph.D.,
Elizabeth W. Fenske, Ph.D., Gordon Globus, Jim Gordon, Stanislav
Grof, M.D., Francine Howland, M.D., Valerie Hunt, Ph.D., Robert
Jahn, Ph.D., Ronald Wong Jue, Ph.D., Mary Orser, F. David Peat,
Ph.D., Elizabeth Rauscher, Ph.D., Beatrice Rich, Peter M.
Rojcewicz, Ph.D., Abner Shimony, Ph.D., Bernie S. Siegel, M.D.,
T.M. Srinivasan, M.D., Whitley Strieber, Russell Targ, William
A. Tiller, Ph.D., Montague Ullman, M.D., Lyall Watson, Ph.D.,
Joel L. Whitton, M.D., Ph.D., Fred Alan Wolf, Ph.D., and Richard
Zarro, who were also all generous with their time and ideas.
Carol Ann Dryer, for her friendship, insight, and support, and
for unending generosity when it comes to sharing her profound
Kenneth Ring, Ph.D., for hours of fascinating conversation and
for introducing me to the writings of Henry Corbin.
Stanley Krippner, Ph.D., for taking the time to call me or drop
me a note whenever he came across any new leads on the
Terry Oleson, Ph.D., for his time and for kindly allowing me to
use his diagram of the “iittie man in the ear.”
Michael Grosso, Ph.D., for thought-provoking conversation and
for helping me track down several obscure reference works on
Brendan O’Regan of the Institute of Noetic Sciences, for his
important contributions to the subject of miracles and for
helping me track down information on the same.
My longtime friend Peter Brunjes, Ph.D., for using his
university connections to help me obtain several
difficult-to-find reference works.
Judith Hooper, for loaning me numerous books and articles from
her own extensive collection of materials on the holographic
Susan Cowles, M.S., of the Museum of Holography in New York for
helping me search out illustrations for the book.
Kerry Brace, for sharing his thoughts on the holographic idea as
it applies to Hindu thinking, and from whose writings I have
borrowed the idea of using the hologram of Princess Leia from
the movie Star ‘ Wars to open the book.
Marilyn Ferguson, the founder of the Brain/Mind Bulletin, who
was one of the first writers to recognize and write about the
importance of the holographic theory, and who also was generous
with her time and thought. The observant reader will notice that
my summary of the view of the universe that arises when one
considers Bohm and Pribram’s conclusions in tandem, at the end
of Chapter Two, is actually just a slight rephrasing of the
words Ferguson uses to summarize the same sentiment in her
bestselling book The Aquarian Conspiracy. My inability to come
up with a different and better way to summarize the holographic
idea should be viewed as a testament to Ferguson’s clarity and
succinctness as a writer.
The staff at the American Society for Psychical Research for
assistance in tracking down references, resources, and the names
of pertinent individuals.
Martha Visser and Sharon Schuyler for their help in researching
Ross Wetzsteon of the Village Voice, who asked me to write the
article that started it all.
Claire Zion of Simon & Schuster, who first suggested that I
write a book on the holographic idea.
Lucy Kroll and Barbara Hogenson for being the best agents
Lawrence P. Ashmead of HarperCollins for believing in the book,
and John Michel for his gentle and insightful editing.
If there is anyone that I have
inadvertently left out, please forgive me. To all, both named and
unnamed, who have helped me give birth to this book, my heartfelt
Back to Contents
In the movie Star Wars, Luke Skywalker’s adventure begins
when a beam of light shoots out of the robot Artoo Detoo and
projects a miniature three-dimensional image of Princess Leia. Luke
watches spellbound as the ghostly sculpture of light begs for
someone named Obi-wan Kenobi to come to her assistance.
The image is a hologram, a
three-dimensional picture made with the aid of a laser, and the
technological magic required to make such images is remarkable. But
what is even more astounding is that some scientists are beginning
to believe the universe itself is a kind of giant hologram, a
splendidly detailed illusion no more or less real than the image of
Princess Leia that starts Luke on his quest.
Put another way, there is evidence to suggest that our world and
everything in it—from snowflakes to maple trees to falling stars and spuming electrons—are also only ghostly images, projections from a
level of reality so beyond our own it is literally beyond both space
The main architects of this astonishing idea are two of the world’s
most eminent thinkers: University of London physicist
a protégé of Einstein’s and one of the world’s most respected
quantum physicists; and Karl Pribram, a neurophysiologist at
Stanford University and author of the classic neuropsychological
textbook Languages of the Brain.
Intriguingly, Bohm and
Pribram arrived at their conclusions independently and while working
from two very different directions. Bohm became convinced of the
universe’s holographic nature only after years of dissatisfaction
with standard theories' inability to explain all of the phenomena
encountered in quantum physics. Pribram became convinced because of
the failure of standard theories of the brain to explain various
However, after arriving at their views, Bohm and Pribram quickly
realized the holographic model explained a number of other mysteries
as well, including the apparent inability of any theory, no matter
how comprehensive, ever to account for all the phenomena encountered
in nature; the ability of individuals with hearing in only one ear
to determine the direction from which a sound originates; and our
ability to recognize the face of someone we have not seen for many
years even if that person has changed considerably in the interim.
But the most staggering thing about the holographic model was that
it suddenly made sense of a wide range of phenomena so elusive they
generally have been categorized outside the province of scientific
understanding. These include
telepathy, precognition, mystical
feelings of oneness with the universe, and even psychokinesis, or
the ability of the mind to move physical objects without anyone
Indeed, it quickly became apparent to the ever growing number of
scientists who came to embrace the holographic model that it helped
explain virtually all paranormal and mystical experiences, and in
the last half-dozen years or so it has continued to galvanize
researchers and shed light on an increasing number of previously
In 1980 University of
Connecticut psychologist Dr. Kenneth fling proposed that
near-death experiences could be explained by the holographic
model. Ring, who is president of the International
Association for Near-Death Studies, believes such
experiences, as well as death itself, are really nothing
more than the shifting of a person’s consciousness from one
level of the hologram of reality to another.
In 1985 Dr. Stanistav Grof,
chief of psychiatric research at the Maryland Psychiatric
Research Center and an assistant professor of psychiatry at
the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, published a
book in which he concluded that existing neurophysiological
models of the brain are inadequate and only a holographic
model can explain such things as archetypal experiences,
encounters with the collective unconscious, and other
unusual phenomena experienced during altered states of
At the 1987 annual meeting of
the Association for the Study of Dreams held in Washington,
D.C., physicist Fred Alan Wolf delivered a talk in which he
asserted that the holographic model explains lucid dreams
(unusually vivid dreams in which the dreamer realizes he or
she is awake). Wolf believes such dreams are actually visits
to parallel realities, and the holographic model will
ultimately allow us to develop a “physics of consciousness”
which will enable us to begin to explore more fully these
other-dimensional levels of existence.
In his 1987 book entitled
Synckronicity: The Bridge Between Matter and Mind, Dr.
F. David Peat, a physicist at Queen’s University in Canada,
synchronicities (coincidences that are so
unusual and so psychologically meaningful they don’t seem to
be the result of chance alone) can be explained by the
holographic model. Peat believes such coincidences are
actually “flaws in the fabric of reality.” They reveal that
our thought processes are much more intimately connected to
the physical world than has been hitherto suspected.
These are only a few of the
thought-provoking ideas that will be explored in this book. Many of
these ideas are extremely controversial. Indeed, the holographic
model itself is highly controversial and is by no means accepted by
a majority of scientists. Nonetheless, and as we shall see, many
important and impressive thinkers do support it and believe it may
be the most accurate picture of reality we have to date.
The holographic model has also received some dramatic experimental
support. In the field of neurophysiology numerous studies have
corroborated Pribram’s various predictions about the holographic
nature of memory and perception. Similarly, in 1982 a landmark
experiment performed by a research team led by physicist Alain
Aspect at the Institute of Theoretical and Applied Optics, in Paris,
demonstrated that the web of subatomic particles that compose our
physical universe—the very fabric of reality itself—possesses what
appears to be an undeniable “holographic” property.
These findings will also be discussed in
In addition to the experimental evidence, several other things add
weight to the holographic hypothesis. Perhaps the most important
considerations are the character and achievements of the two men who
originated the idea. Early in their careers, and before the
holographic model was even a glimmer in their thoughts, each amassed
accomplishments that would inspire most researchers to spend the
rest of their academic lives resting on their laurels. In the 1940s
Pribram did pioneering work on the limbic system, a region of the
brain involved in emotions and behavior. Bohm’s work in plasma
physics in the 1950s is also considered landmark.
But even more significantly, each has distinguished himself in
another way. It is a way even the most accomplished men and women
can seldom call their own, for it is measured not by mere
intelligence or even talent It is measured by courage, the
tremendous resolve it takes to stand up for one’s convictions even
in the face of overwhelming opposition. While he was a graduate
student, Bohm did doctoral work with Robert Oppenheimer.
Later, in 1951, when Oppenheimer came under the perilous scrutiny of
Senator Joseph McCarthy’s Committee on Un-American Activities,
Bohm was called to testify against him and refused. As a result he
lost his job at Princeton and never again taught in the United
States, moving first to Brazil and then to London.
Early in his career Pribram faced a similar test of mettle. In 1935
a Portuguese neurologist named Egas Moniz devised what he
believed was the perfect treatment for mental illness. He discovered
that by boring into an individual’s skull with a surgical pick and
severing the prefrontal cortex from the rest of the brain he could
make the most troublesome patients docile.
He called the procedure a
lobotomy, and by the 1940s it had become such a popular medical
technique that Moniz was awarded the Nobel Prize. In the 1950s the
procedure’s popularity continued and it became a tool, like the
McCarthy hearings, to stamp out cultural undesirables. So accepted
was its use for this purpose that the surgeon Walter Freeman,
the most outspoken advocate for the procedure in the United States,
wrote unashamedly that lobotomies “made good American citizens” out
of society’s misfits, “schizophrenics, homosexuals, and radicals.”
During this time Pribram came on the medical scene. However, unlike
many of his peers, Pribram felt it was wrong to tamper so recklessly
with the brain of another. So deep were his convictions that while
working as a young neurosurgeon in Jacksonville, Florida, he opposed
the accepted medical wisdom of the day and refused to allow any
lobotomies to be performed in the ward he was overseeing. Later at
Yale he maintained his controversial stance, and his then radical
views very nearly lost him his job.
Bohm and Pribram’s commitment to stand up for what they believe in,
regardless of the consequences, is also evident in the holographic
model. As we shall see, placing their not inconsiderable reputations
behind such a controversial idea is not the easiest path either
could have taken. Both their courage and the vision they have
demonstrated in the past again add weight to the holographic idea.
One final piece of evidence in favor of the holographic model is the
paranormal itself. This is no small point, for in the last several
decades a remarkable body of evidence has accrued suggesting that
our current understanding of reality, the solid and comforting
sticks-and-stones picture of the world we all learned about in
high-school science class, is wrong. Because these findings cannot
be explained by any of our standard scientific models, science has
in the main ignored them. However, the volume of evidence has
reached the point where this is no longer a tenable situation.
To give just one example, in 1987, physicist Robert G. Jahn
and clinical psychologist Brenda J. Dunne, both at Princeton
University, announced that after a decade of rigorous
experimentation by their Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research
Laboratory, they had accumulated unequivocal evidence that the mind
can psychically interact with physical reality. More specifically,
Jahn and Dunne found that through mental concentration alone, human
beings are able to affect the way certain kinds of machines operate.
This is an astounding finding and one
that cannot be accounted for in terms of our standard picture of
It can be explained by the holographic view, however. Conversely,
because paranormal events cannot be accounted for by our current
scientific understandings, they cry out for a new way of looking at
the universe, a new scientific paradigm. In addition to showing how
the holographic model can account for the paranormal, the book will
also examine how mounting evidence in favor of the paranormal in
turn actually seems to necessitate the existence of such a model.
The fact that the paranormal cannot be
explained by our current scientific worldview is only one of the
reasons it remains so controversial. Another is that psychic
functioning is often very difficult to pin down in the lab, and this
has caused many scientists to conclude it therefore does not exist.
This apparent elusiveness will also be discussed in the book.
An even more important reason is that contrary to what many of us
have come to believe, science is not prejudice-free. I first learned
this a number of years ago when I asked a well-known physicist what
he thought about a particular parapsychological experiment. The
physicist (who had a reputation for being skeptical of the
paranormal) looked at me and with great authority said the results
revealed “no evidence of any psychic functioning whatsoever.”
I had not yet seen the results, but
because I respected the physicist’s intelligence and reputation, I
accepted his judgment without question. Later when I examined the
results for myself, I was stunned to discover the experiment had
produced very striking evidence of psychic ability. I realized then
that even well-known scientists can possess biases and blind spots.
Unfortunately this is a situation that occurs often in the
investigation of the paranormal. In a recent article in American
Psychologist, Yale psychologist Irvin L. Child examined how a
well-known series of ESP dream experiments conducted at the
Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, New York, had been treated by
the scientific establishment. Despite the dramatic evidence
supportive of ESP uncovered by the experimenters, Child found their
work had been almost completely ignored by the scientific community.
Even more distressing, in the handful of scientific publications
that had bothered to comment on the experiments, he found the
research had been so “severely distorted” its importance was
How is this possible?
One reason is science is not always as
objective as we would like to believe. We view scientists with a bit
of awe, and when they tell us something we are convinced it must be
true. We forget they are only human and subject to the same
religious, philosophical, and cultural prejudices as the rest of us.
This is unfortunate, for as this book will show, there is a great
deal of evidence that the universe encompasses considerably more
than our current worldview allows.
But why is science so resistant to the paranormal in particular?
This is a more difficult question. In commenting on the resistance
he experienced to his own unorthodox views on health, Yale surgeon
Dr. Bernie S. Siegel, author of the best-selling book Love,
Medicine, and Miracles, asserts that it is because people are
addicted to their beliefs. Siegel says this is why when you try to
change someone’s belief they act like an addict.
There seems to be a good deal of truth to Siegel’s observation,
which perhaps is why so many of civilization’s greatest insights and
advances have at first been greeted with such passionate denial. We
are addicted to our beliefs and we do act like addicts when someone
tries to wrest from us the powerful opium of our dogmas.
And since Western science has devoted
several centuries to not believing in the paranormal, it is not
going to surrender its addiction lightly.
I am lucky. I have always known there was more to the world than is
generally accepted. I grew up in a psychic family, and from an early
age I experienced firsthand many of the phenomena that will be
talked about in this book. Occasionally, and when it is relevant to
the topic being discussed, I will relate a few of my own
experiences. Although they can only be viewed as anecdotal evidence,
for me they have provided the most compelling proof of all that we
live in a universe we are only just beginning to fathom, and I
include them because of the insight they offer.
Lastly, because the holographic concept is still very much an idea
in the making and is a mosaic of many different points of view and
pieces of evidence, some have argued that it should not be called a
model or theory until these disparate points of view are integrated
into a more unified whole. As a result, some researchers refer to
the ideas as the holographic paradigm. Others prefer holographic
analogy, holographic metaphor, and so on. In this book and for the
sake of diversity I have employed all of these expressions,
including holographic model and holographic theory, but do not mean
to imply that the holographic idea has achieved the status of a
model or theory in the strictest sense of these terms.
In this same vein it is important to note that although Bohm and
Pribram are the originators of the holographic idea, they do not
embrace all of the views and conclusions put forward in this book.
Rather, this is a book that looks not only at Bohm and Pribram’s
theories, but at the ideas and conclusions of numerous researchers
who have been influenced by the holographic model and who have
interpreted it in their own sometimes controversial ways.
Throughout this book I also discuss various ideas from
physics, the branch of physics that studies subatomic particles
(electrons, protons, and so on). Because I have written on this
subject before, I am aware that some people are intimidated by the
term quantum physics and are afraid they will not be able to
understand its concepts.
My experience has taught me that even
those who do not know any mathematics are able to understand the
kinds of ideas from physics that are touched upon in this book. You
do not even need a background in science. All you need is an open
mind if you happen to glance at a page and see a scientific term you
do not know.
I have kept such terms down to a
minimum, and on those occasions when it was necessary to use one, I
always explain it before continuing on with the text.
So don’t be afraid. Once you have overcome your “fear of the water,”
I think you’ll find swimming among quantum physics’ strange and
fascinating ideas much easier than you thought. I think you’ll also
find that pondering a few of these ideas might even change the way
you look at the world. In fact, it is my hope that the ideas
contained in the following chapters will change the way you look at
It is with this humble desire that I
offer this book.
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