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Science and the Reenchantment of the Cosmos

Science and the Reenchantment of the Cosmos

(Published by Inner Traditions)

Book Summary by Clayton Montez. M.A.
Atlantic University

     While searching for your niche in the world, try looking under Ervin Laszlo’s TOE (theory of everything). Jam-packed with a visionary blend of new research in the major empirical sciences – physics, biology, cosmology, and consciousness – Laszlo TOE nails evidence that support what mystics have been claiming for centuries: we are instantly and enduringly interconnected with everything else in the universe.

     Findings at the cutting edge of modern science imply that the cosmos is pregnant with meaning for our life. We are not isolated from everything else in the universe, but an integral part of it. The insights of technological science are coming together in the belief that Intelligence is involved in the formation of the universe and that there is mind and purpose that guides us to realize our human potential.

     In two recent books, Laszlo explains how the quantum world of sub-atomic particles connects, organizes and unites our world. In the first book, “Science and the Akashic Record, An Integral Theory of Everything” (Inner Traditions, 2004), he describes the existence of all matter, living and inert, as rooted in vacuous space.

Tiny particles within this vacuum called photons show unique characteristics that conserve and convey information. This information is a cumulative record of all thoughts and deeds that are interconnected with every other thing throughout the universe.

The energized particles create a “cosmic holofield” that connects organisms and minds in the biosphere, and particles, stars, and galaxies throughout the universe. Laszlo dubs this holofield the “A” field” or Akashic record – the all-encompassing medium that underlies all things in the tradition of Hindu cosmology.

     The Akasha is the most fundamental of the five elements of the cosmos; the others being vata (air), agni (fire), ap (water), and pritihivi (earth). Akasha is the womb from which everything emerges and into which everything will ultimately descend. Although it holds the other four elements within itself, it is at the same time outside of them, for it is outside space and time. The contemporary Indian sage Radja Deekshithar advises that we can experience Akasha through spiritual practice.

     Contemporary researchers concur with a parallel notion that the Akashic record encompasses the four major fields in science: the “G” field (gravitational, the “EM” field (electromagnetic), and the strong and the weak short range fields. In the “A” field, space and time do not separate things.

They connect them. Information is conserved and conveyed in nature at all scales of magnitude and in all domains. Laszlo adds, “this [idea] transforms a machine-like universe that is blindly groping its way from one phase of its evolution to the next into a whole-system universe that builds on the information it has itself generated.”

     Laszlo’s TOE taps into the notion that space is the fundamental medium of the cosmos.

It attempts to explain the quintessential question of why we are here and how we got here through the conceptual development of a progressively evolving universe that is derived from a preceding metaverse or mother universe – “a vaster and possibly infinite cosmos that was not created in the Big Bang, nor will it end when our universe vanishes.”

As the vacuum records the evolution of each universe, it enables successive universes to build upon the experiences of their predecessors.

     According to Laszlo, “space itself – more exactly, the vacuum that fills space – is not merely a backdrop or container for the motion of matter, but the very ‘stuff’ or substance from which the matter that populates space and time emerged, and through which it continually interacts.

It is also the originating ground of the consciousness associated with… the systems of particles throughout the universe.” This universal consciousness is thought to underlie the fundamental feature of the spiritual dimension of reality.

     Therefore, Laszlo reasons that our existing physical-biological universe was built upon the former physical universe and that it will someday provide the groundwork for a physical-biological-psychological universe. As universes mature toward life and consciousness, so too will organisms contained therein become super-evolved.

     Laszlo’s next book, “Science and the Reenchantment of the Cosmos: The Rise of the Integral Vision of Reality” (Inner Traditions, 2006), brings his TOE in hand with a look at sacred oneness and a comparative analysis with leading researchers.

Although the basic concept of integral wholeness with the universe is as old as civilization, it is only now that innovative scientists at the frontiers of science are rediscovering it’s meaning and piecing together the domain of unverifiable intuition into the realm of interpersonally verifiable public knowledge.

     Within the roundtable discussion of Cosmos, the following excerpts from leading scientists and researchers share their hold on Laszlo’s TOE:

Stanley Kripner and Brian Conti ~

     “Science is finally knocking on the door of spirituality. Throughout the ages religious traditions searched inward rather than outward for answers to the questions of intention and purpose of human existence.

Science asked the questions of what, when and how something could be measured and replicated in order to explain function and form. Laszlo finds common ground, bringing both under a unified theory of oneness through a ubiquitous underlying informational field by which everything is essentially connected.”

Elizabeth Sahtouris ~

     “The fundamental assumption of an objective non-living universe in which life happens by accident is fading in light of a new view that life is seen as the natural self-creating and recycling metabolism or process of the cosmos itself.

Following the notion that living entities continually create and maintain themselves (autopoiesis), and that the cosmos is likewise capable of living and co-evolving, the new science recognizes the Akashic Record as defined by Laszlo to be a self-consistent, evolving model of life as self-organizing expressions of the cosmic field of consciousness.”

Christian de Quincy ~

     “The great world traditions tell us that in nothingness the world was born. In order to truly comprehend what this means, science extends spiritual thoughts of the plenum void into the realm of zero-point energy (ZPE) – the domain of the quantum vacuum. It is the source of all physical reality.

Everything we know, everything that exists comes from the ZPE field, and sooner or later returns there, to be recycled or set elsewhere.”

     “Laszlo merges the concepts of spiritual void with ZPE under the quasi-eternal, or possibly eternal, Metaverse. It is a manifest universe that includes information and consciousness as well as energy.”

     The following summarizes the seven stages of evolution according to the rise and transformation of the Metaverse:

  • The plenum void of the unmanifest Metaverse.

  • The Metaverse instantaneously comes into physical manifestation in the Big Bang, creating time, space, and light. At this cosmic flaring come the “seeds” or templates of information from prior universes.

  • Using the information-templates, the new universe self organizes amidst the surrounding chaos. From initial massless, chargeless, photons, the new universe begins to create its elementary particles, the building blocks of matter and all of the material forms to come later.

  • Matter eventually develops the ability to reproduce itself and life is born.

  • Some life forms further develop to produce mind and language.

  • Evolution becomes reflexively aware of itself.

  • Being self-aware, evolution chooses its path and goal, albeit constrained within the inevitable cyclical birth-and-death of the universe. When the universe folds back into the womb of the Metaverse, the information and energy patterns generated within the lifespan of the universe are stored in the A-field, ready to in-form a next, new universe.

     Laszlo’s great unifying, integrative insight for his Theory of Everything is information. His TOE hammers two significant insights on the function of information: Interconnectedness and Hierarchy.

     Scientific discoveries involving non-local quantum fields posit that the entire universe began as a minute quantum system. Since any “parts” that once belonged to a quantum system remain connected or correlated no matter how far apart they may be separated in space, then the entire universe must be connected at a very deep level.

     However, hierarchy explains the nature and structure for interconnectivity if it is to be practical. Unlike the typical perception of top-to-bottom relationships, Laszlo’s hierarchy is the universal structure that embraces parts and wholes, and through the dynamics of evolution creates systems out of chaos. The entire universe, including us, is interconnected through hierarchy.

Edgar Mitchell ~

     “Since Rene Descartes seventeenth century outlook on the mind-body duality schema, mind, consciousness, and spirit were the domain of theology and philosophy. Science framed theory and experiment to explain physical phenomenon only. Consequently, science could not answer questions of deepest import to human interest.”

     “Laszlo incorporates certain mental phenomena such as transpersonal mind-to-mind resonance and remote reception – known since the 70’s as non-local phenomena – into the non-locality aspects of quantum theory.

Here particles in a process become entangled, and maintain a coherent correlation and an instantaneous communication even though one may be transported across the universe from the other.

Laszlo’s vision of an enchanted cosmos is based upon the premise that the universe is informationally connected in the mysterious way Einstein called ‘spooky action at a distance’.”

Stanislov Grof ~

     “The ‘new paradigm’ in science heralded a radical departure from the monistic, materialistic world view towards a new way of looking at old problems. Nevertheless, it lacked a unifying vision that would seamlessly integrate the individual contributions into a comprehensive overarching ‘theory of everything’.”

     “For the last 50 years, I’ve studied an important subcategory of non-ordinary states of consciousness, which I call holotropic (oriented toward wholeness) states. This area of study has been subsequently incorporated in Transpersonal academe.

Transpersonal research identifies a transcendence of the usual boundaries of the body/ego and of the limitations of three-dimensional space and linear time that restrict our perception of the world in the ordinary state of consciousness.

On the one hand, transpersonal experiences erupt from within the individual psyche and can be observed through introspection.

On the other hand, they seem to be tapping, without mediation of the senses, into sources of information that are clearly far beyond the conventional reach of the individual.”

     “Laszlo’s TOE supports the latter condition where we can see the world beyond the senses in a holotropic state of consciousness. Each of us appears to be a microcosm continuing in a holotropic way, the information about the entire macrocosm.”

Peter Russell ~

     Taking his cues from the Hindu Upanishads, Russell anchors Laszlo’s TOE to Brahman, the source of the cosmos. Whereas, Laszlo refers to the A Field or Akasha as the source of everything that exists, and in which the memory of the cosmos is encoded, Russell suggests that the nature of this ultimate source is consciousness itself.

     Material mind sees alternate realities as having no basis in reality, according to Russell. We never see the physical world directly. “Everything we know, perceive, and imagine, every color, sound, sensation, every thought and every feeling, is a form appearing in the mind. It is all an ‘in-forming’ of consciousness.”

     Referring to the Sanskrit translation of ‘chitta’ as ‘mindstuff’ – consciousness carrying the meaning of mental substance – Russell contends “that which takes on the mental forms of images, sounds, sensations, thoughts and feelings is mindstuff rather than matter stuff. For example, the smell of a rose does not exist without an experiencing mind, just molecules of a certain shape.

     Therefore, our whole experience is a construction of the mind. It is the domain that creates matter, rather than exist as a product of matter. Russell adds, “What appears to us as fundamental dimensions and attributes of the physical world – space, time, matter, and energy – are but the fundamental dimensions and attributes of the forms appearing in consciousness.

Mind is understood best through direct awareness, by turning the light of consciousness upon itself and observe the nature of mind first-hand. Such is the path of great mystics, yogis, seers, saints, and other enlightened beings.”

     In conclusion, Russell remarks, “If our own essence is divine, and the essence of consciousness is to be found in everything, everywhere, then everything is divine. In this I find a personal reenchantment of the cosmos.”

Johannes Witteveen ~

     “Laszlo’s vision of many universes successively created and destroyed to produce a more informed and amazingly coherent universe parallels the following Sufi vision of creation:

‘Creation is the exaltation of God, and what is called destruction is absorption which is the inhalation of God… The beginning and end of the world is only His one breath… During this one breath myriads of beings have been born, have. Lived and died and experienced this world and the next.’

     “This scientific-spiritual worldview is of great importance to our daily lives, informing the choices we have to make continuously. Our choices can have a positive or negative influence on the functioning of the coherence that is in and around us. Within us, good coherence means good health – the optimal functioning of our bodies.

Around us, it means the optimal functioning of society and the natural environment. According to the Sufi vision, this ideal of harmony, which requires love and creates beauty, makes us happy and gives us the inner experiences of the enchanted universe.”

Swami Kriyananda ~

     “The long-standing opposition between science and religion will soon be dissolved by the discovery, on the one hand, that objective reality is only a projection of consciousness through the medium of energy; and, on the other hand, by the recognition among spiritual seekers that the search for meaning is an ongoing quest, and therefore does not demand a blind acceptance of orthodox dogmas. As the two converge in the search, Laszlo raises hope that objective reality and truth are one!”

     In conclusion, the mechanistic worldview of European origins posits a narrow passage for modern society in search of meaning and purpose.

The perception of God in the modern mindset as the impetus of all creation leaves some of us with a view of the divine as a disconnected patriarchal supervisor laying forth a pre-disposed destiny for a futile existence. Where intuition seemingly fails, perhaps for the lack of spiritual awareness, we more often depend upon observation and experiment to concretize our beliefs.

Laszlo reinvigorates our quest with a new cosmology where the universe is alive with infinite connectivity to everything else and that it is not doomed to insignificant extinction. His TOE swells with hope that we are grounded in a re-enchanted cosmos brought about by the marriage of the empirical science of quantum theory with the intuitive spirituality of our ancestors.

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