French Theoretical physicist Bernard d’Espagnat as far back as the late 1960s began calling for philosophers and quantum scientists alike to begin rethinking the nature of reality, because of the sort of things that we were learning about reality. We couldn’t, he contended, be responsible and continue building models of reality along old assumptions proven to be false.
It was around this same time that a handful of theoretical physicists began working on a theory that could reconcile quantum scale physics with the laws of physics at the largest scales. What they came up with was called String theory.
String theory says that all forms of matter and energy, at their smallest scale, are made up of one-dimensional “strings” that have length but not height or width. In order for Quantum mechanics to play nice with Classical mechanics, String theory necessitates that there be 11 different dimensions, not just the usual height, length, and width with time being the fourth. The way it works is that each “string” vibrates in different dimensions simultaneously and that rate of vibration determines if these strings manifest as matter or energy.
Many theoretical physicists today believe that string theory may lead us to a “theory of everything”. As strange as it might seem, all of this talk about vibrating one dimensional strings isn’t a new idea.
This idea might’ve sounded strange and unfamiliar to us but if you could jump in a time machine and travel to Ancient Egypt around 3,000 BCE they would’ve looked at you like you were on a Geico commercial and said, “everybody knows that”. A man named Hermes Trismegstus, the legendary founder of Hermeticism, had already popularized a theory that everything that exists is always in a state of constant vibration. And that it is the rate of this vibration that determines if something becomes matter, energy, mind, and spirit.
Now whether or not Hermes Trismegistus was a real person or a myth doesn’t say anything to the fact that real people, 5,000 years ago, were discussing and debating how the vibration of imperceptible particles were responsible for determining everything that exists, and that we are talking about the same thing today.
But this wasn’t even the most intriguing part of Hermetic Philosophy in my opinion. The most fascinating part, and most relevant to this essay, is that Hermetic Philosophy also asserts that in addition to matter and energy, this stuff that vibrates and determines what everything is, also makes up the mind and spirit. This idea is remarkably similar to what was said in the readings.
Consider this quote from a reading on January 06, 1991 “The body, the soul and the spirit are all forms of energy.”
Hermetic Philosophy said that this “stuff” that they called “the One Thing”, and what we call “strings” today, is responsive to energies that vibrate at higher rates, namely the mind and spirit.
So finally, we have a theory that the rate of vibration is significant and possibly correlates to the relationship between consciousness and matter.
So let’s recap.
Everything is made of energy as Einstein proved in his theory of relativity. Check.
What ultimately determines whether something is going to end up being energy or hydrogen is the vibrations of fantastically tiny one-dimensional strings. Check.
According to Hermeticism, when we say that everything is made of energy we need to take this quite literally and not try to find exceptions for consciousness. Check.
Finally, the reason that matter is responsive to consciousness has something to do with the vibration of the strings that manifests as consciousness and this spirit stuff. Check.
Once we start entertaining the idea that the brain is not the cause of consciousness, but rather our consciousness is actually the byproduct of an inconceivably tiny vibrating string, the first thing that pops into my mind is the famous quote from Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity, “Energy cannot be created or destroyed, it can only be changed from one form to another.”
I’ll be damned.
If energy cannot be created or destroyed and consciousness is actually a vibrating form of energy, then there is no telling how long you and I have been around. And if the accounts of Near Death Experiences are authentic, a physical body isn’t necessary for us to observe.
Near-Death experiences, Out of Body experiences, even the idea that consciousness doesn’t originate in the brain are understandably difficult for us to relate to. I get it. But if Near-Death Experiences are correct about the nature of consciousness, OBEs are something that all of us eventually experience. So if people have been dying for as long as people have been living why haven’t we been hearing about Near-Death Experiences for hundreds if not thousands of years?
Presumably, accounts of Near-Death Experiences are more common in modern times because advances in medical science have given physicians and first responders better tools to resuscitate people who experience severe trauma.
Even 100 years ago, if a mule kicked you in the head, it was probably time to cue the credits.
Trust me. You still had an out of body experience, but you weren’t coming back to tell anybody about it.
There are literally thousands of documented accounts of Near-Death Experiences at NDERF.org collected from individuals from all over the world and all walks of life. Regardless of age, gender, race, ethnicity or nationality, human beings upon death all experience the same things. And it doesn’t take long reading these that you can begin to recognize certain experiences that are consistent throughout them. One of those experiences is that they report being able to see 360 degrees around their bodies simultaneously. Another common experience is how communications occur during NDEs. It is not done with words coming out of mouths, but rather thoughts being transferred directly from their minds to others often accompanied with images. Many also report to having clarity of thought, a super lucidity if you will. Their recollection immediately improved. They were able to remember details about things that they had long forgotten. Again, medical science will tell you that when you stop oxygen flowing to the brain the last thing you would feel is super lucidity.
“I still had a body, but it was entirely different. I could see in three dimensions as if I had no body at all but just a floating eyeball, for lack of a better explanation. I could see all directions at once, yet there were no directions or dimensions as we think of them.”
And again, just in case skeptics think that they can take you on a PCP binge and reproduce the same results, consider a case from a woman named Maria as reported by NDE researcher Kimberly Clark Sharp.
Maria had died after suffering a heart attack. After she was resuscitated Maria told Sharp about her Near Death Experience and how she had “passed” outside of the hospital and had noticed a “tennis shoe” on the third story ledge of the hospital. She told her it was a man’s shoe, a left shoe, dark blue, with a wear mark over the little toe and a shoelace tucked under the heel where it rested. Sharp then went window to window, looking out on the hospital’s third floor looking on the ledges and found the shoe exactly as it had been described by Maria.
Oh, and about that “passed” part. We’ve already talked about how what makes up matter is mostly made of empty space. We don’t, for example, fall through the chair we are sitting on because it is solid but because of electromagnetism. It’s the electrons from the chair repelling the electrons in our body that prevent us from falling through.
Well, I might not be able to tell you what consciousness is, but I think it’s safe to assume that consciousness doesn’t have electrons.
To be continued.
If you are interested in further reading please consider these sources…
Dennis William Hauck, The Emerald Tablet: Alchemy for Personal Transformation
Jeffrey Long, MD with Paul Perry, Evidence of the Afterlife The Science of Near-Death Experiences
Bernard d’Espagnat , À la recherche du réel, le regard d’un physicien (In Search of Reality, the Outlook of a Physicist)
K. Clark, “Clinical Interventions with Near Death Experiencers” in The Near-Death Experience: Problems, Prospects, Perspectives, ed. B Greyson C. P. Flynn