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Consciousness, Quantum Physics & Parapsychology

By D. R. Sharma

You see a person for the first time; you have never known and never interacted with him or her before in any way. Just looking at the person you develop a like or dislike that has nothing to do with the physical appearance. If the like is strong, you feel like talking to the person. On the other hand if it is a strong dislike, you consciously avoid the person. And this phenomenon is not limited to just humans; it happens between humans and animals, especially pets, and perhaps also among animals. Another experience that is not so common, involves places. You visit a place where you have never been before, yet it feels familiar. Have you ever wondered what lies behind all these feelings?

One thing we can certainly assume is that there is consciousness involved in some way in all such phenomena. In physics there is a quantity called 'field'. It is nonmaterial but pervades the entire space. The most familiar are the electromagnetic and gravitational fields. These are basically energy fields. Consciousness is also a field in the same sense. The interaction between two entities occurs only through their respective consciousness fields. In the case of humans, parapsychologists call it the human energy field, but every object in the universe has its own energy field. Everything interacts with everything else. In most cases the interaction is very weak and negligible but in some cases it may be perceptible or even strong.

If we take the holistic view of the universe, everything in it is interconnected because the Ultimate Reality underlying all existence is one and the same. Where does the universe come from and where does it go? These are questions for which philosophers have sought answers for ages past and to which modern science also has devoted much attention. An objective analysis leads us to believe that this underlying reality is universal consciousness. Everything in the universe (matter, space, time) emerges from it. Since the source is one, everything shares consciousness and it forms a common bond. Contrary to the common belief, consciousness is not limited to living organisms.

How do we decide what objects have consciousness? We always tend to see consciousness from a human perspective associating it with subjectivity, self-awareness, sentience, and so on. How can we be sure that an inanimate object like stone does not have these attributes? Strictly speaking consciousness cannot even be defined because we can define things only in the realm of the known. But everything that is known is known only through consciousness and thus consciousness is outside the realm of the known.

We know that matter and energy are equivalent. Energy cannot be passive; in matter in any form elementary particles like electrons are in constant motion. When atoms combine to form molecules they exchange electrons. When an electron goes into an atom (or ion) it somehow knows which orbit it can enter, and which not. This is a fundamental principle that governs the structure of matter. It implies that the electron knows enough about the other electrons that are already there. And no known physical force is responsible for enforcing this behavior. It would seem therefore that elementary particles are in some way interconnected through consciousness. If consciousness manifests itself at this elementary level, it is reasonable to assume that it is present (as energy) in all forms of matter.

In quantum physics there is also a phenomenon called 'phase entanglement'. Two particles having a common origin react to each other instantaneously irrespective of the distance and time separating them. If this idea is extended to objects, the interaction through the consciousness fields becomes understandable. The strength of the interaction would depend on that of the common bond at some point of origin in space-time however remote. Currently this type of discussion lies in the realm of parapsychology but phase entanglement may bring it into mainstream science as well.

Dharmbir Rai Sharma is a retired professor with an electrical engineering and physics background.

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