Where does the holographic model go from here? Before examining the possible answers, we might want to see where the question has been before.
In this book I have referred to the holographic concept as a new theory, and this is true in the sense that it is the first time it has been presented in a scientific context. But as we have seen, several aspects of this theory have already been foreshadowed in various ancient traditions.
They are not the only such foreshadowing, which is intriguing, for it suggests that others have also found reason to view the universe as holographic, or at least to intuit its holographic qualities.
Properly speaking, even the non-void cannot be described in words because it, too, is a totality in which consciousness and matter and all other things are indissoluble and whole. Herein lies a paradox, for despite its illusory nature the non-void still contains “an infinitely vast complex of universes.” And yet its indivisible aspects are always present.
As the Tibet scholar John Blofeld states,
The Tibetans prefigured some of Pribram’s thinking as well.
According to Milarepa, an eleventh-century Tibetan yogin and the most renowned of the Tibetan Buddhist saints, the reason we are unable to perceive the void directly is because our unconscious mind (or, as Milarepa puts it, our “inner consciousness”) is far too “conditioned” in its perceptions.
This conditioning not only keeps us from seeing what he calls “the border between mind and matter,” or what we would call the frequency domain, but also causes us to form a body for ourselves when we are in the between-life state and no longer have a body.
Zen Buddhists also recognize the ultimate indivisibility of reality, and indeed the main objective of Zen is to learn how to perceive this wholeness.
In their book Games Zen Masters Play, and in words that could have been lifted right from one of Bohm’s papers, Robert Sohl and Audrey Carr state,
The Hindus call the implicate level of reality Brahman.6
Brahman is formless but is the birthplace of all forms in visible reality, which appear out of it and then enfold back into it in endless flux.7 Like Bohm, who says that the implicate order can just as easily be called spirit, the Hindus sometimes personify this level of reality and say-that it is composed of pure consciousness.
Thus, consciousness is not only a subtler form of matter, but it is more fundamental than matter; and in the Hindu cosmogony it is matter that has emerged from consciousness, and not the other way around. Or as the Vedas put it, the physical world is brought into being through both the “veiling” and “projecting” powers of consciousness.”
As the Svetasvatara Upanishad states,
Similarly, the Kena Upanishad says that Brahman is an uncanny something “which changes its form every moment from human shape to a blade of grass.”10
This same concept can be found in Judaic thought. According to Kabbalistic tradition,
However, despite its illusory nature, it is not complete nothingness,
The idea that the creation set into motion by the God of Genesis is an illusion is reflected even in the Hebrew language, for as the Zohar, a thirteenth-century Kabbalistic commentary on the Torah and the most famous of the esoteric Judaic texts, notes, the verb baro, “to create,” implies the idea of “creating an illusion.”13
As one Dogon elder described it,
In fact, the implicate/explicate idea can be found in virtually all shamanic traditions.
States Douglas Sharon in his book Wizard of the Four Winds: A Shaman’s Story:
Certainly one of the most fascinating properties of a piece of holographic film is the nonlocal way an image is distributed in its surface.
The twelfth-century Sufis summed it up by saying simply that “the macrocosm is the microcosm,” a kind of earlier version of Blake’s notion of seeing the world in a grain of sand.18 The Greek philosophers Anaximenes of Miletus, Pythagoras, Heraclitus, and Plato; the ancient Gnostics; the pre-Christian Jewish philosopher Philo Judaeus; and the medieval Jewish philosopher Maimonides - all embraced the macrocosm-microcosm idea.
The medieval alchemists,
for whom Hermes Trismegistus became a kind of patron saint,
distilled the sentiment into the motto “As above, so below.” In
talking about the same macrocosm-equals-microcosm idea the Hindu
Visvasara Tantra uses somewhat cruder terms and states simply,
“What is here is elsewhere.”20
The Oglala Sioux medicine man Black Elk put an even more nonlocal twist on the same concept. While standing on Harney Peak in the Black Hills he witnessed a “great vision” during which he,
One of the most profound understandings he came away with after this encounter with the ineffable was that Harney Peak was the center of the world. However, this distinction was not limited to Harney Peak, for as Black Elk put it,
Over twenty-five centuries earlier the Greek philosopher Empedocles brushed up against the same sacred otherness and wrote that,
Not content with mere words, some ancient thinkers resorted to even more elaborate analogies in their attempt to communicate the holographic properties of reality. To this end the author of the Hindu Avatamsaka Sutra likened the universe to a legendary network of pearls said to hang over the palace of the god Indra and “so arranged that if you look at one [pearl], you see all the others reflect in it”
As the author of the Sutra explained,
Fa-Tsang, the seventh-century founder of the Hua-yen school of Buddhist thought, employed a remarkably similar analogy when trying to communicate the ultimate interconnectedness and interpenetration of all things. Fa-Tsang, who held that the whole cosmos was implicit in each of its parts (and who also believed that every point in the cosmos was its center), likened the universe to a multidimensional network of jewels, each one reflecting all others ad infinitum.24
However, like Bohm, who stresses that the universe is not simply a hologram but a holo-movement, Fa-Tsang stressed that his model was static and did not reflect the dynamism and constant movement of the cosmic interrelatedness among all things in the universe.26
For instance, it appears that the seventeenth-century German mathematician and philosopher Leibniz was familiar with the Hua-yen school of Buddhist thought. Some have argued that this was why he proposed that the universe is constituted out of fundamental entities he called “monads,” each of which contains a reflection of the whole universe.
What is significant is that Leibniz also gave the world integral
calculus, and it was integral calculus that enabled Dennis Gabor to
invent the hologram.
And so an ancient idea, an idea that seems to find at least some expression in virtually all of the world’s philosophical and metaphysical traditions, comes full circle.
But if these ancient understandings can lead to the invention of the hologram, and the invention of the hologram can lead to Bohm and Pribram’s formulation of the holographic model, to what new advances and discoveries might the holographic model lead?
Already there are more possibilities on the horizon.
As exciting as these developments are, they are still just further refinements of the mechanistic approach to understanding the universe, advances that take place only within the material framework of reality.
But as we have seen, the holographic idea’s most extraordinary assertion is that the materiality of the universe may be an illusion, and physical reality may be only a small part of a vast and sentient nonphysical cosmos.
If this is true, what implications does it have for the future?
How do we begin to go about truly penetrating the mysteries of these subtler dimensions?
And yet when it comes to explaining the psychic and spiritual dimensions of human existence, science in the main has repeatedly fallen short of the mark. Clearly, if science is to advance further in these areas, it needs to undergo a basic restructuring, but what specifically might such a restructuring entail?
Willis Harman, the president of the Institute of Noetic Sciences and a former senior social scientist at Stanford Research Institute International, feels this acceptance is crucial not only to science, but to the survival of human civilization.
Moreover, Harman, who has written extensively on the need for a basic restructuring of science, is astonished that this acceptance has not yet taken place.
As has been mentioned, at least part of the reason is the longstanding bias Western science has against such phenomena, but the issue is not quite so simple as this.
Consider for example the past-life memories of people under hypnosis. Whether these are actual memories of previous lives or not has yet to be proved, but the fact remains, the human unconscious has a natural propensity for generating at least apparent memories of previous incarnations.
In general, the orthodox psychiatric community ignores this fact.
Florida psychiatrist Brian L. Weiss, a graduate of the Yale School of Medicine and currently chairman of psychiatry at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami, says that since the publication of his best-selling book Many Lives, Many Masters in 1988 - in which he discusses how he turned from being a skeptic to a believer in reincarnation after one of his patients started talking spontaneously about her past lives while under hypnosis - he has been deluged with letters and telephone calls from psychiatrists who say that they, too, are secret believers.
Similarly, in a recent conversation with Whitton when I asked him if he felt reincarnation would ever become an accepted scientific fact, he replied,
Weiss’s and Whitton’s opinions seem borne out by a recent survey on psychic phenomena.
After being assured that their replies would remain anonymous, 58 percent of the 228 psychiatrists who responded (many of them the heads of departments and the deans of medical schools) said that they believed “an understanding of psychic phenomena” was important to future graduates of psychiatry! Forty-four percent admitted believing that psychic factors were important in the healing process.34
In brief, we need the parapsychological equivalent of a Rosa Parks.
Even worse, when they are studied, it is often the least important aspects of the phenomena that are isolated and catalogued. For instance, one of the few discoveries regarding OBFJs that is considered valid in a scientific sense is that the brain waves change when an OBEer exits the body.
And yet, when one reads accounts like Monroe’s, one realizes that if his experiences are real, they involve discoveries that could arguably have as much impact on human history as Columbus’s discovery of the New World or the invention of the atomic bomb. Indeed, those who have watched a truly talented clairvoyant at work know immediately that they have witnessed something far more profound than is conveyed in the dry statistics of R. H. and Louisa Rhine.
They should not be dismissed merely because they cannot be documented as rigorously as other and often less significant features of the same phenomenon can be documented.
As Stevenson states,
It is worth noting that this rule of thumb is already applied to other more accepted natural phenomena.
The idea that the universe began in a single, primordial explosion, or Big Bang, is accepted without question by most scientists. And this is odd because, although there are compelling reasons to believe that this is true, no one has ever proved that it is true. On the other hand, if a near-death psychologist were to state flatly that the realm of light NDEers travel to during their experiences is an actual other level of reality, the psychologist would be attacked for making a statement that cannot be proved.
And this is odd, for there are equally compelling reasons to believe this is true. In other words, science already accepts what is probable about very important matters if those matters fall into the category of “fashionable things to believe,” but not if they fall into the category of “unfashionable things to believe.”
This double standard must be eliminated before science can begin to make significant inroads into the study of both psychic and spiritual phenomena.
We have also seen evidence of its necessity repeatedly throughout this book. In a universe in which the consciousness of a physicist affects the reality of a subatomic particle, the attitude of a doctor affects whether or not a placebo works, the mind of an experimenter affects the way a machine operates, and the imaginal can spill over into physical reality, we can no longer pretend that we are separate from that which we are studying.
In a holographic and omnijective universe, a universe in which all things are part of a seamless continuum, strict objectivity ceases to be possible.
For example, Valerie Hunt discovered that her experimental results were affected by the presence of individuals who had been drinking alcohol and thus won’t allow any such individuals in her lab while she is taking measurements. In this same vein, Russian parapsychologists Dubrov and Pushkin have found that they have more success duplicating the findings of other parapsychologists if they hypnotize all of the test subjects present.
It appears that hypnosis eliminates the interference caused by the conscious thoughts and beliefs of the test subjects, and helps produce “cleaner” results.36
Although such practices may seem odd in the extreme to us today, they may become standard operating procedures as science unravels further secrets of the holographic universe.
As Harman states,
Again, there is evidence that a few such transformations are already taking place.
For instance, instead of just observing what happened to the Conibo after they consumed the soul-vine ayakuasca, Harner imbibed the hallucinogen himself. It is obvious that not all anthropologists would be willing to take such a risk, but it is also clear that by becoming a participant instead of just an observer, he was able to learn much more than he ever could have by just sitting on the sidelines and taking notes.
For instance, although not a scientist in the strictest definition of the term, Monroe has developed recordings of special rhythmic sounds that he feels facilitate out-of-body experiences. He has also founded a research center called the Monroe Institute of Applied Sciences in the Blue Ridge Mountains and claims to have trained hundreds of individuals to make the same out-of-body journeys he has made.
Are such developments harbingers of the
future, fore-shadowings of a time when not only astronauts but
“psychonauts” become the heroes we watch on the evening news?
Science may not be the only force that offers us passage to the land of non-where. In his book Heading toward Omega Ring points out that there is compelling evidence that NDEs are on the increase.
As we have seen, in tribal cultures individuals who have NDEs are often so transformed that they become shamans.
Modern NDEers become spiritually transformed as well, mutating from their pre-NDE personalities into more loving, compassionate, and even more psychic individuals. From this Ring concludes that perhaps what we are witnessing is “the shamanizing of modern humanity"38
But if this is so, why are NDEs increasing? Ring believes that the answer is as simple as it is profound; what we are witnessing is “an evolutionary thrust toward higher consciousness for all humanity. “
Several investigators, including Ring, have pointed out that UFO encounters actually resemble shamanic initiations and may be further evidence of the shamanizing of modern humanity, Strieber agrees.
If such speculations are true, what is the purpose of this evolutionary transformation?
There appears to be two answers. Numerous ancient traditions speak of a time when the hologram of physical reality was much more plastic than it is now, much more like the amorphous and fluid reality of the afterlife dimension. For example, the Australian aborigines say that there was a time when the entire world was dreamtime.
Edgar Cayce echoed this sentiment and asserted that the earth was,
The aborigines assert that the day will come when the earth returns to the dreamtime.
In the spirit of pure speculation, one might wonder if, as we learn to manipulate the hologram of reality more and more, we will see the fulfillment of this prophecy. As we become more adept at tinkering with what Jahn and Dunne call the interface between consciousness and its environment, is it possible for us to experience a reality that is once again malleable?
If this is true, we will need to learn much more than we presently know to manipulate such a plastic environment safely, and perhaps that is one purpose of the evolutionary processes that seem to be unfolding in our midst.
For instance, there is a Hindu myth that human consciousness began as a ripple that decided to leave the ocean of “consciousness as such, timeless, spaceless, infinite and eternal.”41
Awakening to itself, it forgot that it was a part of this infinite ocean, and felt isolated and separated. Loye has argued that Adam and Eve’s expulsion from the Garden of Eden may also be a version of this myth, an ancient memory of how human consciousness, somewhere in its unfathomable past, left its home in the implicate and forgot that it was a part of the cosmic wholeness of all things.42
In this view the earth is a kind of playground,
If this is true, the evolutionary fires that are beginning to flicker and dance through our collective psyche may be our wake-up call, the trumpet note informing us that our true home is elsewhere and we can return there if we wish.
Strieber, for one, believes this is precisely why UFOs are here:
Writer Terence McKenna, another longtime supporter of the holographic model, agrees:
Of course these are only speculations.
But whether we are on the very brink of a transition, as Strieber and McKenna suggest, or whether that watershed is still some ways off in the future, it is apparent that we are following some track of spiritual evolution. Given the holographic nature of the universe, it is also apparent that at least something like the above two possibilities awaits us somewhere and some-when.
For example, Swedenborg said that beyond the heaven he visited was another heaven, one so brilliant and formless to his perceptions that it appeared only as “a streaming of light.” 46
NDEers have also occasionally described these even more unfathomably tenuous realms.
It may be frightening to some that reality seems to become increasingly frequency-like as one penetrates deeper into the implicate.
And this is understandable. It is obvious that we are still like children who need the security of a coloring book, not yet ready to draw free-form and without lines to guide our clumsy hands.
To be plunged into Swedenborg’s realm of streaming light would be tantamount to plunging us into a completely fluid LSD hallucination. And we are not yet mature enough or in enough control of our emotions, attitudes, and beliefs to deal with the monsters our psyches would create for ourselves there.
As long as the formlessness and breathtaking freedom of the beyond remain frightening to us, we will continue to dream a hologram for ourselves that is comfortably solid and well defined.
For our purpose appears to be as simple as it is endless.