Serialised book: “The Subtle Dance” – 4th instalment

Part I: The subtle side of reality

Subtle energy

We use the word energy all the time. But are we talking about? In ordinary science and technology it’s about quantifiable things like how many miles your car can go on a gallon of petrol, or the amount of gas you need to keep your house warm all day in winter. Conventional nutritionists try to do something similar with their precise calculations of calories in your diet. But we are no machines. Irrespective of the quantities we eat, there are mornings when we get up full of beans and others when we just feel pretty depressed and with no “energy” at all.

What has advanced physics to say about energy? When they try to figure out the bases of our material world, physicists envisage elementary particles inside atoms as clusters of energy, and matter as made up of energy flows perceived by an observer. But that doesn’t tell us what energy is. Besides, is there energy outside atoms, or in the vacuum between elementary particles, or in the vacuum of outer space? Astrophysicists say our planet continually receives cosmic radiations which actually affect our lives. Yet no “mass carrying matter” is involved in this, only very high frequency electro magnetic radiations. But what exactly are electrical and magnetic fields, and how do they combine to form radiations without matter being involved?

Is there such a thing as pure vacuum? Does it mean nothingness? How could anything like energy, and – through energy- tangible matter, arise out of nothingness? It is clear that conventional science goes round in circles when it tries to deal with such essential questions. This is not surprising since science is only a patchwork of theories and models which don’t really explain things. When physicists envisage phenomena at sub-atomic level they can’t observe anything directly. All they do is to create mathematical models based on various abstract concepts and assumptions and compare the results of their calculations with quantities measured in laboratory equipments.

Ancient traditions approached the essentials of existence, life, matter and energy through a radically different mode of thinking. The Chinese Tao is largely centred on the idea of subtle energy called “Qi” or “Chi”, which flows everywhere and forms the basis of life. The “Qi” has to flow harmoniously in the body of a person or animal or plant for the living creature to be in good health. It has to flow harmoniously in a house or garden for the people living there to be well. Indian traditional medicine has the similar concept of “Prana”, and Japanese and Corean traditions have the “Ki”. Western esoteric traditions had relatively similar notions of “vital force” and “ether”. The latter was seen as filling all space. There was no such thing as pure vacuum, nothingness. Contemporary alternative medicines, whether derived from Asian or esoteric Western traditions, are largely “energy based”, where energy means subtle energy rather than energy in the sense of conventional thermodynamics and mechanics.

When it fell in the trap of narrow materialist thinking, Western science rejected the notions of ether and subtle energy because they were too vague and couldn’t be measured through accepted protocols. But today a growing number of scientists accept the existence of subtle energy and are keen to find bridges between mainstream science and the concept of subtle energy. Needless to say, they are not encouraged to do so by the academic establishment.

Despite institutional hurdles experiments have been conducted to try and demonstrate the existence of subtle energy following standard protocols of conventional science. One of the modalities is through the measurement of biological responses to acupuncture. This practice of Chinese medicine is based on meridians and points. Acupuncture meridians are the channels through which the “Chi” flows, influencing functions of the body’s organs and systems. And acupuncture points are specific areas along the meridians where the energy can be stimulated.

Using a mainstream technique called magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) a group of American scientists observed activation of the visual cortex as a result of stimulating an acupuncture point located in the small toe known in oriental medicine to be related to vision. The response in the visual cortex was similar to when light was flashed in the eyes of the subject. Researchers were able to establish that the signal from the acupuncture point was coming to the brain over 200 times faster than the signal from light flashed in the eyes. According to Western physiology there are no nervous or other physical connections between the toe and the visual cortex. Therefore, some other form of connexion must be involved.

A number of different studies were carried out to measure physical manifestations of the practice of “Qi Kong” or to monitor the effects on various physical processes of the “Qi” emitted by a healer. These studies have delivered significant results just like the research on acupuncture referred to above. Evidence from scientific studies about the manifestations of subtle energy is abundant and well documented. And numerous observations by alternative therapists and people practising disciplines such as Qi Kong or Tai Chi (who can routinely feel the subtle energy) are equally convincing. Taking all studies and observations together it is very hard to deny the existence of the subtle energy.

The big question remains of what might be the nature of that subtle energy. Available measurements strongly indicate that it isn’t electro-magnetism, as one would have been tempted to assume. There are undoubtedly close interactions between them but they are not exactly the same thing. According to some it could be linked to the “black energy” and “black matter” whose existence have been hypothesised by astrophysicists in the 1990’s following the discovery of unexplained discrepancies between the theory of relativity and observed intergalactic movements.

But recognising the existence of subtle energy, even though its nature is as yet unexplained in mainstream scientific terms, is already a completely rational assumption given all the facts before us. And it is a very useful assumption, because it offers a good insight into the logic of a number of traditional and alternative practices which are clearly very effective. These practices include various methods of natural healing, such as acupuncture and shiatsu, martial arts and disciplines of general well being like Qi Kong and Tai chi, techniques for cultivation, like bio-dynamic agriculture, techniques for improving the harmony of houses and buildings, like Feng Shui.

While these techniques work directly with the subtle energy, others use it too but in a way that may appear to us less direct. Litho-therapy, for instance, uses the capacity of stones and crystals to focus subtle energy. In the case of homeopathy, substances are diluted in water to prepare remedies. Dilutions can be so extreme that in some instances there is hardly any molecule of the active substance left at all in the remedy given to the patient[1]. But what matters is the “signature” left in the structure of water[2] that has been in contact with the active substance. It could be that this signature is essentially a pure “information” phenomenon, but when the piece of information is brought into the body of the patient it has an effect on the flows and distribution of vital force within that body.

In fact the distinction between energy and information is artificial. It is a product of our narrow reasoning intellect which needs it to be able to analyse phenomena in its usual linear step by step mode. But reality appears to be a continuum without boundaries, and it may be a much better representation to think of information, energy and matter not as separate things but as flows so intimately interacting as to be merged into one another.

If we posit that subtle energy is very close to the fundamental information field of the universe a whole raft of phenomena regarded as unexplainable according to official science begin to make real sense and logical links between them become manifest. But let’s not go too fast and before trying to draw grand conclusions, let us stick for a while to a conventional step by step approach to deploy our analysis further.

At this stage it is worth taking a look at a very controversial theory not (yet?) accepted by mainstream science: biological transmutation. One of the basic laws of conventional chemistry is that atoms can be combined into different molecules but can never be changed into different atoms. An atom of, say, carbon can become part of a molecule of carbon dioxide, or of methane or of many other substances, but it always remains an atom of carbon, and cannot be changed in, say, an atom of calcium. Only in nuclear reactions occurring under very special conditions can an atom of a radioactive element be changed into an atom of another element. This is the accepted assumption of mainstream science, widely believed to be definitive.

But it appears that a number of observations in the natural world are not consistent with the official dogma. For instance, it has been noted that egg shells contain a lot of calcium even when the chickens laying the eggs haven’t received food containing calcium in any significant quantities. Where does the calcium in the eggs come from?

A few daring scientists have suggested that certain biological processes might involve changes to the nucleus of certain atoms, thereby changing the atom of one element into an atom of another element. They called this phenomenon “biological transmutation”. Transmutation is the word used for the old alchemists’ dream of changing lead into gold.

The idea of biological transmutation is that the living world is capable of performing transmutation into elements that are needed for the development of life. This is undoubtedly a daring hypothesis, but it is in no way absurd. Furthermore it is not inconsistent with the whole of mainstream science. As a matter of fact, it could be regarded as an adjustment to, or you might say a refinement of the basic assumptions of chemistry. The latter could be reformulated to state that atoms of one element cannot be changed into atoms of another element, except in special conditions of nuclear physics or (and this would be the new adjustment) in special conditions arising in certain biological processes.

From the point of view of straightforward logic, there is nothing shocking in introducing such an adjustment. As already emphasised earlier, science consists in theories and models which can never be regarded as the truth, but only as useful tools for limited purposes. But official science has the unfortunate tendency to freeze into dogma. And once a dogma is established, it becomes extremely difficult to challenge. We know that this tendency is covertly encouraged by people who have a vested interest in establishing and maintaining dogmas to prevent the conduct of free research and the emergence of alternative theories and models.

In any case, if for the sake of exploratory reasoning we posit that biological transmutation is a useful theory providing coherent explanations of a range of observable phenomena, a possible whole new vision of the development of living organisms opens up. For instance, the idea so common in mainstream medicine and dietetics that the important minerals required by the body have to be provided in the right quantities through food possibly supplemented by pills might have to be fundamentally reconsidered. It could be that a properly functioning body is capable of creating the required elements from a diet containing other elements. That is if the body (and mind) has enough vital energy to accomplish biological transmutation.

Linking subtle energy and biological transmutation provides a potentially very powerful theory for use not only in human and animal dietetics and medicine but also in agriculture. How come, for instance, that fields left uncultivated for a while are able to regenerate? Where do the nutrients and vital elements present again in the soil after a period of rest come from when no products were spread on the field? If you admit that the field receives subtle energy in various forms from the cosmos and from the earth itself and that such energy can be used in a process of transmutation of the few elements that are still present into various others that are needed, you get a sense of why a soil that had become completely impoverished and incapable of sustaining a crop can become alive and productive again. Anyway, so much for biological transmutation.

Now back to subtle energy. Not only does subtle energy account for the working of a number of alternative techniques in medicine, agriculture and geo-biology, it is also illuminating when applied to human behaviour and attitudes. Conflicts can be seen as efforts to steal vital energy from one another, and addictions as attempts to gain vital energy from particular substances, food, activities or thoughts.

The underlying idea is that the subtle energy we need to live and thrive comes naturally from Source (i.e. the universal field of information and energy behind everything), provided we are properly connected. When we are disconnected from Source – which is very common in our society dominated by materialism and limiting dogmas – we lack subtle energy. We are not consciously aware of this lack, and we feel unwell not knowing why. By the way, it is interesting to note that acupuncture – which works directly on subtle energy in the body – is quite effective in bringing relief to depressive subjects. In any case, because of our perceived lack we embark unconsciously on a search for energy to fill our need. As a result, our relationships with other people, and more generally with different aspects of our life, are strongly influenced by a constant preoccupation to gain vital energy.

Our ego is the linchpin of this process. When you try to push yourself forward, or to gain the upper hand over somebody, or conversely when you attempt to attract pity or sympathy, what you are effectively doing is stealing energy from others. If you shout at your dog and treat it as your inferior, your are stealing vital energy from the poor creature in an attempt to make up for the lack that you feel deep inside not knowing exactly why. When you turn to alcohol or pornography, you are in fact trying to get a stimulus of what you vaguely hope to be vital energy, not knowing what you’re up to. You feel drained, weak, profoundly dissatisfied because of a fundamental misalignment of your entire body-mind-soul system.

None of us in present society is ideally connected and aligned with trust and unconditional love. We are all to a certain extent misled by our ego. Our relationship with the world, with our own body is largely impacted by this fundamentally imperfect alignment. And by the silent work of entities sneaking into us and taking a grip on our mind. Traditional societies have long been wary of possession by entities called spirits, demons and many other names. These are not to be dismissed as primitive superstitions. There is something in them which we need to include into our holistic vision. In that vision we assume everything stems from a field of energy and information permeated by perfect unconditional love: the Source. But then, we have to admit that not everything that exists is perfect and loving. Which means that, for whatever reasons beyond our comprehension, there must be bits of information software floating about that are not in alignment with Source. These misaligned bits of software you can call demons, or evil spirits or more kindly suffering lost souls. Or they could just be clusters of thoughts and information rather than “beings” with almost human characters as Western tradition usually pictures creatures of the invisible realm.

According to the vast body of experience accumulated by traditional healers and open minded therapists lost souls attached to living humans are a real issue. And it would seem that fragile people, i.e. people with low energy due to poor connection to Source are prone to “catching” a lost soul which can drag them further down with all sorts of psychological and physical consequences. The impacts of so-called evil spirits or lost souls are not confined to individual suffering. In fact they compound to produce collective disharmony through a process of resonance. We may not have been used to take demons and ghosts seriously, but the fact is that the spirit possession model accounts very neatly indeed for a lot of what is happening in our individual lives and in world events.

To sum up, putting together different observations and elements from traditional knowledge, what have we got before us so far? First and foremost a fundamental field of information and energy permeated by unconditional love: the Source. Entities either perfectly aligned or not perfectly aligned with the Source. Subtle energy supporting the existence of creatures in the material world and in non visible realms. Interference of entities into the lives of creatures. And interactions between all these things in a continuum of infinite subtlety.

Let’s see where this tentative worldview takes us and what practical tips we can derive from it to make our lives more fluid and more satisfying in spite of all the apparent drama in our world.

[1] Human or animal

[2] More on this from a different angle in the following chapter

Copyright © Leo Foresta 2014

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