For centuries it has been recorded that under certain circumstances human consciousness can leave the body and travel both within the external world and to other locations of existence. This process has been known by many names but in recent years all variations of these “journeys” have been grouped under the generic, and “catch-all” term of “Out of Body Experiences” or the OBE.
Of course such a concept is totally impossible within the modern paradigm of science. Consciousness is an epiphenomenon of the brain and as such cannot exist in any location outside of the brain. Indeed even if consciousness could travel to locations outside of the confines of the skull a further question has to be asked; without sensory organs such as the eyes and the ears how can a disincarnate consciousness receive information from the external world?
I have proposed a radical new hypothesis that allows modern science to accommodate the OBE within its present model and that the experience is neither subjective nor objective but a mixture of the two. What needs to change is our understanding of the actual nature of what we term “eternal, consensual, reality”.
This new model contains three crucial elements; The Zero Point Field / Zero Point Energy, Bose-Einstein Condensates and the Pineal Gland. What links them is a central Theosophical concept; the “Book of Life” otherwise known as the “Akashic Record”.
The Potential of the Zero-Point Field
The term “akasha” is a Sanskrit expression that means “sky” or “aether”. This mystical substance is everywhere and within it is recorded every action, emotion, thought, feeling and experience of every living being. It is like a huge database that contains a record of everything. Mystics have long suggested that this information can be accessed in certain states of raised consciousness and the data can be downloaded for future use.
According to philosopher-scientist Ervin Laszlo the Akashic Record is a known scientific phenomenon, but is known by quantum physicists by another term. This term is the Zero Point Field or ZPF.
ZPF is a consequence of something long known to particle physicists, called the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle. It states that if we know the position of a sub-atomic particle we cannot know its speed, and if we know its speed we cannot know its momentum. If a particle were at rest we would know both. As such particles can never be at rest, not even at absolute zero, the coldest state known to science. This is minus 273.15 degrees Celsius. This is three degrees above the temperature of the vacuum of space. Why this is of significance is that there should be no energy at absolute zero but there is. Lots of it. All space is filled with this quantum vacuum energy. It fills everything and in doing so changes what we think is a vacuum into a space absolutely full to the brim with energy, technically known as a “Plenum”.
This has interesting parallels with ancient Chinese philosophy that suggested that there is no such thing as empty space. For philosophers such as Chang Tsai the bedrock of reality is the ch’i. Ch’i translates as ‘gas’ or ‘ether’ and is a tenuous and non-perceptible form of matter which is present throughout space and can condense into solid material objects.
The idea that matter somehow condenses out of the ch’i is amazingly prescient because there is a process that echoes perfectly this most ancient of ideas. This fascinating new form of matter is called Bose-Einstein Condensation and just like Chang Tsai suggests this is where the ch’i is seen to form a condensation out of the vacuum.
It should come as no surprise to theosophists that this new form of matter was first predicted by Indian physicist Satyendra Nath Bose, a scientist brought up within the Eastern rather than the Western philosophical tradition. In a paper that he sent to Albert Einstein in 1924 he described how it may be the case that if particles were cooled to a few degrees above absolute zero they may change from being a single particle to a collection of particles that act as if they were one. Such a bizarre idea was proved when the first Bose-Einstein condensate was created in 1995 at the University of Colorado. Many years before, in 1938, a similar phenomenon was observed when a substance called helium 4 was found to have absolutely no viscosity. This meant that it could flow with absolutely no loss of energy.
In principle what is happening is that all the particles within the condensate have become one, a single particle spread out in space and time. These condensates pull their energy directly out of the ZPF in the form of Zero Point Energy. Indeed many of us use a Bose Einstein condensate when we listen to music using a CD player. The information from the disc is read using a laser beam and a laser beam is technically coherent light – a beam in which all the light particles (photons) are all sharing a single “coherent” state. But there is another application of laser technology that has direct reference to the workings of the human brain, the hologram.
Holograms are three dimensional images created by using lasers to “photograph” an object and then reproducing the subsequent image by illuminating it with another set of lasers. This is again an application of coherent light in which a seemingly solid image can be reproduced from stored information. In 1986 two Japanese researchers, Isuki Hirano and Atsushi Hirai, suggested that coherent light is generated in vast quantities by tiny structures found deep within the neurons of the brain. These structures, known as microtubules, are so small that it is possible that the energy they use to generate the coherent light is Zero Point Energy drawn directly from the ZPF. In other words they draw energy from what Blavatsky called the “Akashic Record” and what Chang Tsai knew as the Ch’i.
The Akasha-Pineal Connection
If this is correct then the human brain has direct access to the Akashic Field and the virtually limitless information that it contains. It will be recalled that the Akasha can be described as a huge digital database that stores the records of everything that has happened, and will happen, in the universe. In fact, if modern quantum physics is correct, then there are trillions of universes containing billions of copies of every human being that has ever lived and ever will live. Each one of these consciousnesses will download their life experiences into the Akasha via their microtubules and similarly they can upload limitless data from the Akasha using the same process.
If Hirano and Hirai are correct then the Akashic data can be reassembled using the laser-like coherent light to create seemingly three dimensional holographic images of the stored information. This would create in the mind of the experiencer a three dimensional version of the recording that would be totally life-like in every way. It would be like the illusionary world of the Matrix movies. It would be indistinguishable from the “real” thing. I use the speech marks because such a model suggests that the “reality” we take for granted that is external to our bodies and supplied to us by our senses may not be as “real” as we believe. Indeed modern neurology tells us that what we take to be external reality is a construct of the brain modelled out of the electro-chemical information supplied to it from our senses.
I call this internally generated model of reality the Bohmian IMAX or BIMAX. I call it Bohmian in honour of the late, and great, Professor David Bohm who first suggested the holographic nature of perception. The IMAX reference is to convey the “virtual-reality” feel of the BIMAX.
The question is, is there a portal within the brain whereby the riches of the Akasha can be accessed? I believe there is, and I suggest that this portal may be the most mysterious and enigmatic structure in the brain; the pineal gland.
If my hypothesis is correct then the OOB can be explained as simply consciousness experiencing the external world from internally generated information. The person feels that they are outside of their body when in fact they are experiencing the hidden realities contained within the ZPF. These experiences may be generated spontaneously, during sleep or borderline sleep states, during times of great stress or during a Near-Death Experience. The place that is reconstructed from the ZPF could be a version of the location the person’s body is – by this I mean that it is an exact copy – or it could be another place altogether. This location can be perceived as somewhere else on Earth or a totally alien environment.
This can be used to explain why any attempts to prove that people are actually out of their body during such experiences have seemingly failed. It is simply because they think that they are perceiving this reality whereas they are in a facsimile that is almost, but not quite the same. That is why they accurately report some things but then miss other, much more obvious things or, indeed, report seeing things that are not there. However it must be stressed that although I use the term facsimile I do not mean that it is an hallucination. The facsimile is just as real as the world of the external experimenter/observer – it is just that the experiencer is directly accessing the Akasha.
The Next Steps of Exploration
Is the Akasha the universe we encounter in dreams, in past-life regressions, out-of-the body experiences and Near-Death Experiences? If so, it suggests that bodily death may not be the end of consciousness or the personality because consciousness exists within a field of information that is found within the quantum world itself.
Of course this model is totally hypothetical at the moment. However over the next few months I plan to test out this hypothesis with some of the world’s leading authorities on consciousness, the zero-point field and the out-of-body experience.
We have but taken the first few steps along a very intriguing journey into the centre of what it is to be a sentient being in a seemingly indifferent universe. Where the journey will take us I have no idea …. But I am really looking forward to the adventure.
About the Author
Anthony Peake is the author of four internationally acclaimed books, Is There Life After Death – The Extraordinary Science of What Happens When You Die and The Daemon, A Guide To Your Extraordinary Self, The Out of Body Experience – The History & Science of Astral Travel and The Labyrinth of Time. These books have been translated into various foreign languages including Spanish, French Russian, Polish and Dutch.
In 2013 he will have two more books published, The Gateway to Infinity which will extend the ideas discussed in this article and a new biography of the American writer Philip K. Dick. His website is www.anthonypeake.com