The Science of Subtle Energy

Ken Wilber Cognitive, Perspectives, Science & Technology, Spiritual, Spirituality, The Ken Show, Video Leave a Comment

“It is not that these energy fields are radically meta-physical, because if they were, then all of these fields (because they would not in any way be bound to physical objects), could and would be surrounding all physical objects, whereas in fact, these fields only emerge with (and surround) material objects of a corresponding degree of complexity.”Ken Wilber

Part 1: The Problem of Evidence

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Throughout Ken’s career, he has been very careful to include only those dimensions of experience and reality that have a rigorous body of evidence behind them (and of course that evidence can come through any coherent methodology in any of the four quadrants/eight zones, and can be enacted by either the “eye of flesh”, the “eye of mind”, or the “eye of spirit”.)

But when it comes to things like subtle energy, it’s much more difficult to find this sort of repeatable and rigorous evidence. We have tons of interior-based anecdotes from people throughout history about their experiences with subtle energies — however, because the field is also littered with all sorts of magical thinking, charlatans, and snake oil, we need to be that much more careful about how we go about collecting evidence.

What’s more, because we are discussing exterior-quadrant realities here (we’re really talking about various forms of matter-energy) this means that we ultimately require exterior-quadrant methodologies in order to verify and/or falsify the existence of subtle energies. Which means that, until we are able to produce instruments capable of registering and measuring these phenomena in a clinical setting, the question of whether or not subtle energies exist seems to remain largely unverified and unfalsifiable.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t use the evidence we do have in order to come up with some strong hypotheses about how these energies might work, as Ken does in this essay. Who knows, perhaps these hypotheses will help guide the future of subtle energy science — simply by telling us where to look, and what to look for.


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Part 2: From the Great Chain to Postmodernism in Three Easy Steps


This first half of Ken’s essay is called “From the Great Chain to Postmodernism in Three Easy Steps”, which sets the table for Ken’s theory of subtle energies”, which reveals the major challenges we encounter when updating our spiritual maps to modern, postmodern, and integral standards. Watch as Ken discusses these challenges, the major hypotheses that result from these challenges, and how these hypotheses can guide our ongoing reconstruction of the universe (and its possible gross/subtle/causal mechanics) in a way that fully meets these challenges.

Part 3: The Spectrum of Subtle Energies

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Here Ken and Corey explore the full taxonomy of gross, subtle, and causal energies that Ken presents in the essay, as well as their correlation with interior states of consciousness — one of the most elegant and exciting integrations of spiritual and scientific ideas we’ve ever seen.

(And of course, we need to remember that this taxonomy is itself holonic, not linear — that each of these families, genuses, and species of energy are associated with particular levels of complexity, and dependent upon levels of complexity that came before it. So-called “astral energies”, for example, require particular configurations of gross mass-energy (atoms and molecules) at particular levels of complexity in order to find expression in the universe. These energy families aren’t stacked on top of the last like rungs in a ladder, but enfold each other like an onion, with each layer transcending and including the previous within its own anatomy.)

Part 4: Waves, Particles, and Complexity

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In the essay, Ken says:

“Generally speaking, gross energies surround their associated material bodies in various sorts of fields; the energy itself, in its typical form, propagates as a wave/particle event.“

The same, Ken says, is true for the entire spectrum of subtle energies — that they also propagate as a wave/particle event. That is, every holon (any unit in the universe that is simultaneously a whole, as well as part of a greater whole) is exerting some wave-like morphogenetic influence on similar holons at that same stage. A single cell exists as both “particle” and “wave”, a single organ exists as both “particle” and “wave”, a single brain exists as both “particle” and “wave”, etc.

This also changes how we might visualize the four quadrants themselves, as Ken and Corey discuss here.

Part 5: Social Holons and Subtle Energy

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But it’s not just individual holons that possess these mysterious field-like properties. In a footnote Ken says:

“Of course, each holon also has cultural and social dimensions, and the social dimension — or the interobjective dimension, the dimension of collective form — also has its collective energy fields, but again, we are here focusing on individual holons.”

Watch as Ken explains some of the properties of these social subtle fields.

Part 6: Cognizing Involution

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Of all the integral concepts Ken has put forth in his work, “involution” remains for many people one of the most difficult to think about and communicate. While evolution unfolds over time, we often think of involution as a moment-to-moment process, a constant “condensation” of causal energies into the subtle, and then again into the gross. Which is why we sometimes say “stages evolve, and states involve”. And this is a process that began, presumably, alongside the Big Bang itself — it may even be the event that precipitated the Big Bang, as Ken explains here.

Part 7: The Future of Subtle Energy Science

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Will we ever be able to directly and empirically measure these subtle energies? This is some ways similar to the limitations of an electron microscope, which obviously cannot reveal scales smaller than the electrons we are bouncing off of an object, or our early efforts to detect black holes, which themselves could not be seen but their influence upon surrounding matter could be directly measured. Similarly, we are currently limited to gross matter-energy instruments that likely cannot ever register subtle matter-energy phenomena, only the influence they may or may not exert upon gross matter-energy.

What sorts of scientific or technological breakthroughs would be required to observe and measure these subtle energies directly? What impact would this sort of “new physics” have upon disciplines such as medicine, communications, cosmology, etc.?

Part 8: Organs and Organ Transplants

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Many traditions correlate certain kinds of subtle energies with particular organs of the body. A spleen conducts and transmits a certain subtype of energy which gives it its own particular interiority, a heart conducts and transmits another subtype of energy with its own corresponding interiority, same with a liver, a gall bladder, etc.

The idea being that our bodies possess an entire ecosystem of subtle and causal energies, and in fact our total consciousness as a “dominant monad” is actually composed of this full energetic ecosystem, and keeps them all managed and organized.

What sorts of energies might be correlated with these organs, and how might an organ transplant effect our own complex ecology of subtle fields?

Part 9: Subtle Energy, Artificial Intelligence, and WiFi

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Knowing that these energy fields are likely correlated with particular levels of complexity, what does this say for something like Artificial Intelligence? Is it possible to create algorithms that are sufficiently complex to generate and transmit these fields? Or would that algorithm need to consist of its own “great chain” of holonic components, analogous to the evolution of cells, organs, neural networks, limbic systems, etc., in order to conduct/generate/transmit a spectrum of subtle energies?

And what about wifi fields? Could we think of these almost like a rudimentary form of subtle energy? Obviously wifi is using gross electromagnetic mass-energy in order to communicate information — but the information itself is composed of subtle nouspheric signifiers that, while physically encoded within those electromagnetic fields, can only be reconstructed, perceived, and enacted by a human (or developmentally equivalent) mind.

Part 10: Morphic Fields and Holomorphic Info-Entropy

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There was a recent article published by The Resonance Science Foundation that sounds like indirect evidence for some form of subtle energy phenomena, and seems to support Rupert Sheldrake’s theory of subtle energies. One excerpt from the article reads:

“The researchers describe a new concept linking information and entropy together, through the system’s elemental parts, in what they term holomorphic info-entropy—much like the linking of space and time into the unitary manifold of spacetime or electricity and magnetism into electromagnetism. And just like in the latter terms, where the change in state of one results in a change in state of the other—like coupled oscillating electric and magnetic fields—a change in information or entropy results in the same reciprocal influence.”

https://www.resonancescience.org/blog/The-Morphogenic-Field-is-Real-and-These-Scientists-Show-How-to-Use-It-to-Understand-Nature

Are they are describing subtle forms of mass-energy here? Are “morphogenetic fields” — which are “informational fields” by definition — congruent with Ken’s understanding of subtle fields?

We hope you enjoyed this episode of The Ken Show! Let us know what you think in the comments below, and also be sure to let us know if you have any questions for future episodes!

Written and produced by Corey deVos


 

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Ken Wilber

About Ken Wilber

Ken Wilber is a preeminent scholar of the Integral stage of human development. He is an internationally acknowledged leader, founder of Integral Institute, and co-founder of Integral Life. Ken is the originator of arguably the first truly comprehensive or integrative world philosophy, aptly named “Integral Theory”.

Corey deVos

About Corey deVos

Corey W. deVos is Editor-in-Chief of Integral Life, as well as Managing Editor of KenWilber.com. He has worked for Integral Institute/Integal Life since Spring of 2003, and has been a student of integral theory and practice since 1996. Corey is also a professional woodworker, and many of his artworks can be found in his VisionLogix art gallery.

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