Through the Holographic Looking Glass

For best results, first read Holographic Design

“Today a young man on acid realized that all matter is merely energy condensed to a slow vibration, that we are all one consciousness experiencing itself subjectively, there is no such thing as death, life is only a dream, and we’re the imagination of ourselves. Here’s Tom with the weather.”—Bill Hicks, standup philosopher


So if the universe is a hologram with information about the whole of creation contained within each tiny part, particles interact across vast distances instantaneously, meaning that time and space are illusions created by our brains to help us cope, and consciousness is the programming that controls it all, what does that mean for us? According to physicist Nick Herbert, it means that everything is the cause of everything else – forward, backward and sideways in what we perceive of as time. Cause and effect then become meaningless concepts just like space and time. Fine, but what does that really mean for us, especially as it pertains to the paranormal?

NonlocalityFirst, since consciousness controls reality, reality may be far more malleable than we think. Need proof? I give you the placebo effect. We all know how this works. You give someone a sugar pill or an injection of saline solution and tell them that it’s a powerful new wonder drug and they get better. But how? Just like some real drugs can trick your brain into smelling things that aren’t there, placebos trick your brain into thinking that you will get better, and so you do. It was your thoughts – your consciousness – that healed you. Patients in clinical drug trials can even be told that they may be given placebos and they still get better while some people given the actual drug get worse. How is that scientifically possible if we’re just biological machines and nothing more?

I’m not advocating that you all become Christian Scientists. If your appendix ruptures, get to a hospital. What I am saying is that there may well be something to the core concept of their beliefs whether you buy the religious aspect of them or not. I’m also not saying that everyone who doesn’t respond to treatment is a pessimist with no one but themselves to blame for not believing hard enough. (See my final note for more on this.) What is apparent is that some people recover from illnesses seemingly just because they believe they will.

“The placebo effect? Is that all you got?” Not even close.

How about ghosts? There is a theory to explain certain types of ghosts in which they are not really ghosts at all. Some specters are seen to perform the exact same actions repeatedly, such as walking down a hallway and through a closed door, seemingly oblivious to their surroundings. These apparitions are considered by some to be psychic impressions – a kind of holographic(!?!) recording usually associated with some traumatic event or strong emotion believed to have left an imprint on that particular location. Perhaps the guy in our example was on his way down the hall to the room where he committed suicide and so was in a state of extreme despair.

I always thought that the psychic impression theory was a good way of explaining many ghosts except for one thing: sometimes these routine-following apparitions that usually appear oblivious to their surroundings will react to something out of the ordinary. No mere impression of a past event should do that. Sometimes these otherwise impression-like spooks even interact with people and behave as if they still think they’re alive and in their own time. I’ll admit that this used to vex, perplex, flummox and befuddle me. The psychic impression theory seemed a plausible enough explanation in some cases of hauntings, but how could a “recording” occasionally Ghostbe aware of its surroundings? That’s like talking to a movie screen and having the characters answer you back. However, if consciousness permeates everything, it seems possible that even a psychic impression might possess a form of awareness, even if the person that they are but an image of is long gone. Add to that the belief in some cultures that the soul, which is really just the spiritual term for consciousness, has multiple levels.

Another form of weirdness that could possibly be explained by a holographic universe is timeslips. That’s the term that has been given to people – sometimes more than one at a time – suddenly finding themselves to be in the same place but in a different time. The features of the landscape suddenly change. Old buildings may appear new, and if people are present, they are dressed in the style of a previous century. People who have had this experience say that sometimes the residents of these places gawk back at them, indicating that this is not just a vision of the past. The people in this other time can see their visitors from the future as well and consider our clothing and hair styles as bizarre and out of place as we would if we saw them walking through our neighborhood. There is also some evidence that people have “slipped” into the future, though our current perceptions of time make it difficult to determine the accuracy of any these experiences. There have been a few people who claim to have lived long enough to see this “future” reality come true, such as RAF Wing Commander Victor Goddard* who was baffled when he flew over an airbase that he knew was in shambles only to find that it looked suddenly new and with planes that he didn’t recognize sitting on the tarmac. Years later he returned to that base after it had been renovated and found that it looked just the way he had seen it on that day, complete with the yellow training planes that he had been unable to identify in his earlier experience. There have also been reports of people suddenly finding themselves in a place that doesn’t correspond to any known past or any conceivable future, unless the future is going to look very different from what we generally envision, or we have a past that goes back further than conventional science recognizes.

The idea that time is not what we think it is – that it is an illusion created by our brains that allows us to cope with our existence in a way that we are capable of dealing with – is not a new one, nor is it exclusive to Bohm’s theory of implicate order. Physicists who reject Bohm’s theories still pretty much universally agree that time is not what we perceive it to be. The general consensus, as far as I can tell, seems to lean toward the theory that all time is one. The past, present and future are all happening simultaneously, we only experience it as one event following another with what happened yesterday influencing what happens today and what happens today influencing what will happen tomorrow. But remember Nick Herbert’s assertion that everything is the cause of everything else, forward, backward and sideways in what we perceive as time. He is not alone. Astrophysicist Sir Fred Hoyle agreed and wrote a novel entitled October the First is Too Late to express his “pigeonhole” theory of the nature of time.

Many scientists have used various metaphors to try to explain this concept, but the one that I like best is that of the novel. In a novel, the story moves us from beginning to end. The characters develop and might do things that surprise us. The plot thickens. There may be twists and turns that we never saw coming. The whole thing unfolds before our very eyes, right? Wrong. The whole thing was a finished product before we ever took it off the shelf. You can start by reading page 42 and then go back and read it from the beginning. What happened on page 42 will still be what happens on page 42. You can read it ten times and nothing will ever turn out differently. You can jump forwards and backwards through the timeline of a story, but nothing will ever change for the characters living inside of it. From our perspective, their time is an illusion. If our concept of time is equally illusory, and the universe is a hologram permeated by consciousness in which time and space are meaningless, it would seem possible that every once in a while our awareness could become truly nonlocal and we find ourselves suddenly in another era. Exactly how and why that sometimes happens would still be a mystery, however.

One of the few instances in which actual people get to experience the illusion of time firsthand is in the apparent afterlife. The near-death experience (NDE) phenomenon has received so much attention over the last four decades that I’m not going to rehash the whole thing here. The aspect that matters most at this point is that many NDErs say that time doesn’t exist on the other side. They are sometimes reported as being exasperated at trying to explain what that’s like. This is understandable. I imagine that trying to describe what the absence of time is like would be similar to trying to explain beige to a blind person. Also, while space does seem to exist over there to some extent, it is far more malleable and less restrictive. Again, they have a hard time explaining this.

Of course, the NDE is just the ultimate out-of-body experience (OBE). The whole NDE/OBE is a BFD because if confirmed (which they have been, despite what the skeptics claim), then it proves that consciousness is not just a byproduct of brain function and can exist outside of the body. How is this possible? It’s possible if consciousness is nonlocal and everywhere/when in the hologram. Since every part contains the whole, our consciousness can be anywhere/when. It’s just stuck inside of us most of the time because that’s how we’re conditioned/programmed to experience it. There is evidence to suggest that this is much less true in more primitive societies.

So could the implicate level of reality, the massive iceberg whose mere tip we are aware of, be the realm of the spirit? Bohm himself was not opposed to the idea, though I have no indication that he was an avid proponent of it either. Some people who would probably heartily endorse this concept are the Persian Sufis. They claimed that through deep meditation they could visit a realm created by thought (or consciousness) and populated by spiritual teachers. Though it was created by thought, they maintained that this did not make it any less real than the everyday alchemy circleworld we live in. In fact, they believed that our reality was generated by that one, an idea very similar to Bohm’s theory of the explicate order being created out of the implicate. They also pondered the apparent contradiction that one could only access this greater reality by going inside one’s own mind. Apparently, they were not familiar with the mystical aphorism “the greatest is in the smallest,” or the alchemists’ motto “as above, so below.” And they certainly could never have guessed the “whole in each part” nature of the hologram, much less that our reality might be one.

Another group that would probably consider some of Bohm’s ideas to be old news is the Australian aborigines. Like the Sufis, they believe in a place that they call the Dreamtime that they can travel to while in a trance state. This is the place where the spirit goes after death and where time and space cease to exist. Going there for them is kind of like a self-induced NDE. They believe that this reality came from that one and that they were once the same. They also consider it to be the true source of our consciousness.

So how would the holographic theory apply to the elusive, paraphysical nature of the UFO? In his 1959 book Flying Saucers: A Modern Myth of Things Seen in the Skies Carl Jung proposed that UFOs were a mass manifestation of the collective unconscious, very possibly triggered by the fact that never before had humanity possessed the ability to annihilate itself. The modern UFO era did begin shortly after the invention of nuclear weapons. However, in his later autobiography Memories, Dreams, Reflections he admits to having had a dream about UFOs in 1958 that made him wonder if it was possible that we are their projections. Ten years later, Jacques Vallee pointed out in Passport to Magonia that UFOs and their apparent occupants have a lot in common with entities from various cultures’ folklore, which is a kind of cultural collective unconscious, or at least a zeitgeist. He later put forth the notion that the phenomenon seems to act as a sort of belief control system – a kind of reality check to shake up our ideas of what is possible. It’s conceivable that they’re some kind of mish-mash of all of the above and then some. This intelligence could originate in the realm of the unconscious without being a complete figment of our imagination. In a holographic universe, what’s real and what’s all in your mind don’t necessarily have to be mutually exclusive. If reality is all in our heads, then some think that there may not be much difference between regular reality, dreams and altered states of consciousness since all three of these are also all in our heads. And the collective unconscious is in all our heads…sort of.

This all reminds me of what Patrick Harpur calls the daimonic reality in his book entitled, appropriately enough, Daimonic Reality I can’t really say for sure that I know exactly what Harpur is trying to say. He seems to be implying that he thinks that the collective unconscious has a reality more substantial than just being some numinous concept – that it has an existence more tangible than we might suppose. Much like the Australian aboriginal Dreamtime, it is a separate reality but one that is intimately connected to our world. Furthermore, the archetypes that live there are not just mental constructs; they have an existence as real as yours and mine, however real that is. One aspect of Harpur’s theory that does make perfect sense to me, mainly because he comes right out and says it in words that even an idiot like me can understand, is that the denizens of this realm appear to us in whatever guise we are willing to cast them in. Angels, aliens, fairies, gods – it makes no apparent difference to them. The form is of little importance and may well be chosen by us, much like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.

I don’t know if Jung ever considered that the collective unconscious might have an objective reality all its own, but many researchers of NDEs, UFOs and similar bafflingly bizarre subjects certainly have. Like the Sufis and aborigines and shamans of many ancient cultures, they are starting to consider that imagination and reality are not the polar opposites we have been taught to believe they are – not by a longshot. If these various beings that we sometimes encounter are residents in our collective unconscious, maybe we also reside in theirs. On the final page of CommunionWhitley Strieber proposes that perhaps our two realities are co-creating each other in an act of cosmic communion. Such may be the nature of existence in the omnijective, conscious universe of the superhologram.

When we ponder the possibility that our reality might be a computer simulation or some other type of illusion, we all seem to assume that if this is the case, then some outside intelligence has imposed this illusion on us. We never consider that the matrix may have been unconsciously created by us to protect ourselves from the overwhelming nature of the true reality. What we think is real may just be a representation that our limited brains are prepared to handle. The idea that things like near-death and out-of-body experiences, UFOs in general and the abduction scenario in particular, etc., are occurring more frequently now in order to prepare us for the shock of a transformation in the evolution of our species is a sentiment shared, more or less, by Whitley Strieber, Michael Talbot, Kenneth Ring, John Mack, Jacques Vallee, Carl Raschke, and more mystics and shamans from more cultures than you can shake a rubber chicken at. Kenneth Ring has pointed out the similarities between such things as NDEs and UFO abductions to shamanic initiation rituals and has suggested that the increase of these phenomena may be a kind of shamanic initiation of modern, first-world humanity. This in itself is a very Jungian concept (see Modern Man in Search of a Soul).

A sad final note: Ironically, Michael Talbot, who devoted an entire chapter in his most well-received book, The Holographic Universe, to the healing powers of the mind, died of leukemia just over a year after its publication. I can’t help but wonder if in his final days he wondered why he could not overcome his illness like so many of those that he wrote about. Obviously, just knowing about the power of the mind isn’t enough. Perhaps there was a final lesson in his death for him to learn and to help to teach the rest of us: Mind over matter cannot overrule karma or destiny. When your number’s up, your number’s up.


*For those keeping score at home, that’s the Goddard hat trick. SeeThe Path Chooses You andThe Paraphysical Hypothesis for the other two.

and all the devils are here


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