Subtle Energy in Human Senses and Powers

Last Updated: Tuesday 26th February 2008

©Paul Von Ward

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by Paul Von Ward

This article reviews a series of discoveries that reveal inherent principles of the subtle energy aspect of reality. The research moves us beyond the descriptive articles and books that have thus far dealt with this topic. It suggests how the human senses and powers that lie beyond the world of the five senses actually function.

Such research provides support for the hypothesized existence of a three faceted universe (with consciousness, subtle energy, and physical matter/energy posited in my book SOLARIAN LEGACY: Metascience and a New Renaissance) where consciousness is "primo entre pares" or predominant among the three. I have suggested "subtle energy" is the conductive medium through which consciousness acts on the realm of ordinary matter and energy.

The existence of subtle energies has been described in historical records at least as old as Hinduism. The first discussions of chakras dealt with their role as the vortices of interaction between this pervasive life energy and the human body.1 According to a 1990s National Institutes of Health literature review, at least 52 terms are used for "subtle energy": chi, prana, holy spirit, manna, ether, orgone, bio-magnetism, and zero-point, among many others in our current vocabulary. William Collinge, in his fine description of ways in which subtle energy plays a role in our lives, settles on the term biofield.2

(In SOLARIAN LEGACY, I used the terms noumena, energeia, and phenomena for the three aspects. The noumena comprises universal and local consciousness, the realm of pure thought-ideas, concepts, patterns and numbers. Phenomena is the realm of dark and light particles and waves-matter and energy, the two poles of matenergy-and their antimatter counterparts. Energeia stands for subtle energies, the "virtual reality" distinguished from the four forces of physics.)

Regardless of the label, subtle energy appears to contribute to many processes not currently explained by conventional science: telekinesis, remote sensing, gut- or heart-based intuition, healing by prayer or other psychic means, biocommunication between species, etc. Since these processes have tangible effects that can be documented, but not explained by the known principles of the electromagnetic force, they require that we hypothesize another force through which conscious intent acts on the affected objects, senses, and cells.

Some researchers believe a fuzzy part of the electromagnetic (E/M) spectrum, beyond gamma rays, constitutes this force, but that it has not yet been discovered due to the lack of refined instrumentation. People like Hal Puthoff (see below), Beverly Rubik, Ph.D. (Head of the Institute for Frontier Science in Oakland, CA), and William Tiller (author of SCIENCE AND TRANSFORMATION: Subtle Energies, Intentionality and Consciousness) believe development of more advanced technology will enable humans to use directly this fuzzy extension of the E/M field. (As the harnessing of Maxwell's hypothesized radio waves and X rays had to await the development of new technologies.) Others postulate that this subtle energy exists in correspondence, but parallel, to the E/M spectrum, and may not have the constraints of that spectrum, such as the speed of light.

Regardless of whether there are parallel spectra or all three aspects (mental, emotional and physical fields) collapse into one unified force at some level, there is practical value in viewing them as distinct, but interrelated and interdependent facets of our universe. These distinctions permit humans to consciously participate in the process. This article all too briefly reviews the work of several people whose research shed some light on these issues.

Backster and Primary Perception

Cleve Backster's work in the late '60s and early '70s was an important impetus for the best selling book THE SECRET LIFE OF PLANTS by Peter Tompkins and Christopher Bird. In the '80s and 90s, his work was chronicled by Robert Stone in THE SECRET LIFE OF YOUR CELLS and many periodicals. His research journey started with the 1966 almost accidental rediscovery that plants are sentient and respond to the spontaneous emotions and strongly expressed intentions of relevant humans.3 (For example, J. Chandra Bose of India had demonstrated a similar principle in the early part of the 20th century.) Using an instrument to measure galvanic skin responses (GSR), a part of his polygraph or lie detector stock-in-trade, Backster attempted to determine whether it would measure the moment of rehydration of a plant whose roots were freshly watered. It did not, but, to his surprise, the GSR meter registered his threat to burn the plant leaf when he spontaneously thought of the idea.

Subsequent to his accidental discovery, in an amazing series of experiments, he demonstrated that the expression of genuine emotion and intent by humans caused measurable reactions ("Primary Perception") in the cells of leaves, fruits, and vegetables. They also reacted to behaviors or changes in states of animals and insects. Conversely, in what Backster labeled "fainting," plants ceased their normal functioning when horrific treatment (burning, scalding, and chemical destruction) was continued on the parallel materials or the presence of hostile individuals was introduced into the lab. This reaction seems to correspond to Shock Syndrome in humans. More detailed protocols demonstrated that plants possess some discriminatory capability, making them capable of distinguishing individuals who have either destroyed related plants or have very positive intentions. Plants seem to know who has the sentiment to become a "green thumb."

Experiments with leukocytes (white cells) indicated that a bond of communication exists between an individual's thoughts/emotions and his/her cells after they are removed from the donor's body. Backster collects cells from the mouths of a donor through a standard clinical procedure, connects them to the electrodes/meter apparatus, and measures their reactivity to the donor's emotional shifts. Split-screen videos of the donors' behaviors and the metered responses of the cell cultures, when other causal or random influences are ruled out, demonstrate some form of communication.

Using a Faraday cage and lead containers to shield the plant, eggs, or yogurt used to sense the biocommunication, his experiments appear to rule out the E/M spectrum as the medium of transmission. Tests done with a distance of over three hundred miles between a donor of white cells and the lab indicates the communication bond is not affected by distance. The action and reaction appear to be simultaneous, like the split-pair photon experiments by physicists that show one half of the pair reacts instantaneously to actions taken on the other.

Over the last thirty years literally hundreds of experiments have proved the existence of Backster's "Primary Perception." His work demonstrates several characteristics of "subtle energy" communications:

Connections happen only when behaviors, thoughts, or words have been energized by the force I believe to be "subtle energy" directed by conscious intent. To use Rupert Sheldrake's term, the expression of intent coheres a "morphic field" that connects the parties. In other words some level of emotional involvement is necessary.
Some process of prior attunement between the sender and the receiver is necessary for the communication link. It may involve some mutual extension of local consciousness or a resonating frequency between the parties.
The transmissions appear to be instantaneous, constrained neither by electrical nor magnetic charges of the E/M spectrum or by the speed of light.
Institute for Resonance Therapy

Backster's work clearly demonstrates the presence and something of the nature of the subtle energy field that connects all life forms, regardless of species and whether the live entity is a cell or a huge mammal or plant. The work of the Institute for Resonance Therapy in Cappenberg, Germany demonstrates how humans can use that primary connection to assist plants and other animals to return to a more healthy state. Advanced physics research may help us understand how the expression of a conscious intention activates or affects the all pervasive subtle energy field.

For the last ten years, the Institute has taken ecosystems, especially woodland areas, forests and agricultural land, and applied its brand of resonance therapy. Private individuals and government officials have been satisfied that the distant application of various patterns and ideas by Institute therapists to photos (called "resonators") of the affected areas results in improvement in the health of these natural systems. In most instances the therapists use various devices alleged to strengthen the transmissions of their healing thoughts to the sickly areas. They follow a routine of specific schedules, mentally projecting intuitively determined patterns/pictures (called "informators") onto the site photos. The informators are selected to suggest potential fields to the consciousness of the plants, providing patterns to which they can respond. The process is much like an individual's visualization of a healthy organ in a self-healing meditation.

In the Institute's procedure; the ill forest, like the sick organ, is sent an energized set of more complete pattern to bring its own morphic field into resonance with health. In practical terms, atrophied root systems reach farther out for water, latent vegetation sprouts, and soil activity increases. In effect, natural regeneration is stimulated. (In an example of the interspecies nature of the dynamics, wild animals are reported to have sought out the treated areas, even before the external changes were self-evident, in preference to areas not receiving the telepathically sent energies.)

Although the therapists at the Institute use various aids to strengthen the force of their own mental/subtle energy "sendings," and take advantage of symbolic patterns (fractals, crop circles, and others) to provide ready made reference points, the key element seems to be simply the expression of conscious healing intent by the therapists. While it is currently impossible to calculate the amount of impact one individual can have in a given amount of time, the Institute is developing data that will enable us to gain an understanding of the parameters of the power of the human mind in this process of co-creation.

Puthoff and Conscious Intent

Now to the operation of the communicative and creative power of consciousness. Hal Puthoff, a highly trained physicist,5 speculates on the existence of a form of energy subject to the influence of conscious intent and hypothesizes how the latter acts on the former. He supports the contention of physicists like David Bohm and David Peat that there is some sort of all pervasive energy field connecting every aspect and every being of the universe, labeling it quantum zero-point energy(ZPE). (So labeled because it remains active at absolute zero.) He does not believe this energy exists parallel to the electromagnetic spectrum; in his thinking, nature is too economical to have created two such all pervasive forces.

Puthoff's evidence leads him to believe ZPE is a dynamic force throughout the space/vacuum of the universe without which there would be no manifestation of atomic particles. His idea of this force or field of charges puts him on the cutting edge of new physics. It leads him to posit that gravity is not a separate force, but an aspect of this ambient energy field. It is called into play as a function of the process that creates an entity in the first place. In other words, each manifestation of matenergy, whether subatomic particle or total human, defines its own location (characterized by the inertia of its charge field). Thus, each entity requires interaction with another entity to change its position. (Newton's "apple falling from the tree" example of gravity would require the "intention" of the apple as well as of the Earth in Puthoff's model.)

In demonstrating that there is a continuing equilibrium between the vibration of all matter and the ZPE field, Puthoff shows the feasibility of conveying information through the latter. This is possible because the ZPE/subtle energy field is a perpetual link between any one point and everywhere else in the universe. It appears that Puthoff's singular and universal ZPE field acts the same as Backster's and the Institute's subtle energy field that connects all life forms. If so, how does a thought or idea interact with it?

The $64 question is how does consciousness cohere or concentrate this subtle energy into useable structures, like the morphic forms German institute meditators project into the subtle realm to heal disease in plants or influence animal behavior at a distance? Puthoff suggests it may work like fiber optics in the physical realm; the expression of intent at one point selectively changes the electro- or magnetic charge of the ZPE and permits the instantaneous transfer of information through an invisible "tube" to the chosen target. (The process could work in reverse in the case of remote viewing or other forms of clairvoyance.)

If a focused thought literally zaps out its own signature pattern by changing a pathway of charges in the ZPE field, the mystical idea of local consciousness interconnected with universal consciousness is borne out in the laboratory. It would demonstrate that each conscious being has the same potential access to information in the universe as any other. Thus, all humans are "psychics," requiring only focusing of the intent to communicate with the desired target through Puthoff's "fiber optic" channel of positive and negative charge reversals. (Keep in mind how much information computers transmit through a binary code.)


The idea of shifting charges along a ZPE pathway is consistent with Backster's findings that experiencing an emotional (subtle energy) charge is necessary for this cell-to-cell communication to occur. For this reason, Backster has found that pre-set experiments not involving real-time human emotions do not lead to "primary perception." In other words, when machines conduct the experiments, the plant or animal cells do not react.

Apparently, attaching emotion, either positive or negative, to ideas (as in a Kahuna prayer) affects the flow of charges in the ZPE or energeia. Thus, the expression of conscious intent changes a series of subtle energy charges from one polarity to another, like rearranging the four-letter patterns in DNA sequences to send different messages, causing other energy-based forms to react.

The requirement for polarity changes in the subtle energy field before the communication/intention can pass has profound implications for interpersonal relations. When dealing with apparent opposition, an individual is obliged to confront the energy patterns he or she is emitting toward the other. A decision to either act in sync or attempt to transform the other's energetic polarity has to be the first element of conscious intention. At the quantum level, our exercising this choice determines the energetic charge of the chain of events we set into motion.

For centuries, conventional science has denied the existence of subtle energies, labeling evidence of their existence as "anomalous phenomena." Therefore, examples of such evidence (subtle communications, mind-directed phenomena, intuitive knowing, etc.) get ignored in the considerations of public officials, educators and other professionals, and devalued by individuals. Widespread dissemination and discussion of research like these examples is crucial to expanding understanding of human inner senses and powers.

If humanity permits these capacities to atrophy further, in favor of increasingly seductive material technologies, the potential for full-spectrum development may never materialize for the human species. Without appreciation of inner realities, exclusive human focus on technological advancement could conceivably lead to a developmental cul de sac or an environmental dead-end, as some predict.

I personally believe the Principle of Polarity moves us in the direction of a counter trend of exploration and manipulation of inner space that balances our focus on experimentation and control of outer space. But, that's not automatic; the ultimate choice to do so is made only at the individual level.

1. Leadbeater, C.W. The Chakras (Theosophical Publishing House: Adyar, India, 1927)
2. Collinge, William. Subtle Energy (Warner Books: New York, 1998.)
3. Backster is one of the foremost experts in the use and interpretation of the results of the polygraph test. His refinements on previous polygraph techniques have earned him a worldwide reputation; they have been validated by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab. His mastery of the theory and practice has benefitted thousands of specialists who have participated in or learned from the principles taught in his San Diego-based Backster School of Lie Detection. He now serves as an advisor or faculty member for several research and educational institutions.
4. The Institute for Resonance Therapy in Cappenberg, Germany, established by the German natural healer Irene Lutz and Dr. Marion Hoensbroech in 1988 and based on the theory of radionics developed by Dr. Albert Abrams of Stanford University at the turn of the century, is now headed by Lutz's son Franz, an M.D. Abrams first discovered that vibrational (sound) information about the nature of various human diseases can be transmitted via a copper wire attached to the sick person. Later he realized that a drop of blood conveys the same information. Contrasting vibrations transmitted to the ill individual were found to facilitate healing. Later, Dr. Ruth Brown discovered that such healing vibrations could be sent over distances. Since it was believed that radio waves were involved, the technique became known as "radionics." The use of these alternative techniques for healing among humans has been widely developed over the last few decades.
5. Harold E. Puthoff, Ph.D. brings broad-gauged experience to the laboratory testing of this hypothesis. Head of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Austin, Texas, Puthoff has worked with U.S. Government and private industries in the defense sector and headed a decade-plus, government sponsored SRI International research program in psi phenomena, including remote viewing for military intelligence gathering purposes. His work has been widely published in professional journals and scientific conference proceedings. He has spoken to the US Air Force and NASA on possibilities for use of the vacuum plenum for spaceflight.

Copyright 1999
Paul Von Ward
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Paul Von Ward

Paul Von Ward

Interdisciplinary Cosmologist and Independent Scholar

Paul believes any credible attempt to develop a viable worldview for the 21st century must fully integrate all aspects of human knowledge and all epistemologies. Consequently, he works systematically with quantum theory, subtle energies, biological evolution, string theory, genetics, creationism, religion, spirituality, history, archaeology and anthropology, consciousness studies, mind-body interactions, UFO/ET studies, frontier and esoteric science, and other areas of research to synthesize the emerging new human story.

Paul first took on the role of a cosmic puzzle master in researching his book Our Solarian Legacy. The results suggest that ours is a self-learning universe where all life reflects the conscious, purposeful, adapting, and evolving nature of its Source. A valuable overview of this bigger picture can be found at Tom Nielsen's website on "Our Enfolded Universe"

Paul's work focuses on the self-learning nature of the universe and how humans fit into the noumenal field of consciousness both accessed and shaped by all conscious beings.

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