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Jay Alfred

The virtual universe

March 3, 2012 | Comment icon 0 comments

Image Credit: NASA/ESA/ESO
[!gad]All elements, including spacetime, appear to be discrete and bounded by the Planck scale. As we get closer to reality's 'screen' the image becomes pixelated - each pixel no larger than the Planck scale of 10^33 cm. It's as if reality is being projected from a cosmic LCD projector. We see galaxies, stars, planets, plants, animals and ourselves on the universal screen. Is the Planck scale the 'resolution' of this cosmic projector? Are multiple universes projected on multiple screens in a kind of multi-level Cineplex to generate the multiverse?

To participate in virtual reality movies, one has to don specially-made costumes with the relevant sensors and motor response mechanisms attached. Are we wearing a series of 'suits' now? (What are normally referred to as higher energy 'subtle bodies' in metaphysical literature.) Do we return to the void by removing these suits? Relative to the void are not all these universes 'virtual' reality? What is the purpose of these virtual reality movies - for experience, information and entertainment? Who is watching all these movies? Who are you?

Surface Realities

If we imagine a ripple on the surface of a still pond we see a small circular ridge of water surrounded by ever-widening ridges until it merges with the surface of the pond. From the metaphysical point of view, the smallest circular ridge would describe the area of our 3d physical universe; the second circular ridge (with lower amplitude) would describe the larger area of a higher energy universe; and the third ridge (with even lower amplitude) represents an even larger higher energy universe.

Both physicist and metaphysicist agree that our universe exists only as a disturbance on the surface of a vast ocean - which appears to us, in its depths, as a void. K C Cole, a scientist, asks us to imagine our 3d universe as 'the scum that forms on the surface of a pond.' All the forces that make up our everyday universe - electricity, magnetism, and nuclear forces - would be trapped inside this surface. According to string theory, they would be waves vibrating in this surface. However, another, deeper dimension would lie beneath the surface, like the water underneath the scum. Only gravity could make waves in this deeper dimension. Our universe is stuck at the edge of this deeper dimension. According to Reginald Cahill and Christopher Klinger of Flinders University in Adelaide, space and time and all the objects around us are no more than the froth on a deep sea of randomness.

It takes only a negligible amount of energy or disturbance to stir the oceanic energetic void to generate universes. Physicist David Peat says that the universe we live in is a very fine correction. He asks us to think of a television set plugged into the wall with several amps of electricity at 110 volts entering the set. Superimposed on this energy is a virtually negligible energy - tiny fluctuations in current which are picked up by the antenna from the broadcast station. This negligible energy carries information which shapes the much greater energy generating pictures on the television screen.

The much greater energy of the television itself, which has a simple and symmetrical order, is modified by the negligible energy of the signal, which has a complicated form or (asymmetrical) order. This observation supports metaphysical concepts of a discriminating mind 'generating waves and in the process asymmetric universes' in the perfectly symmetric void, with a negligible amount of energy. This negligible amount of energy in an individual's brain generates pictures on the mental screen unconsciously.

Metaphysical Literature

In 1888 metaphysicist H P Blavatsky said 'Space is the real world... in its bottomless depths as on its illusive surface; a surface studded with countless phenomenal universes, systems and mirage-like worlds.'

Paramahansa Yogananda, based on direct perception recalled an experience he had in 1946. He says, 'The breath and the restless mind, I saw, are like storms that lash the ocean of light into waves of material forms - Earth, sky, human beings, animals, birds, trees. As often I quieted the breath and the restless mind, I beheld the multitudinous waves of creation melt into one lucent sea ...'

According to the Surangama Sutra, the 'disturbing manifestation of an external world' arises because of 'defilements' in the mind. 'When they are stilled, there remains only empty space, abiding in perfect unity.'

Of course, the Bible states 'Be still and know I am God.'

The Sutra points out:

'You have abandoned all the great, pure, calm oceans of water, and clung to only one bubble which you regard as the whole body of water in all the hundreds of thousands of seas.'

Nobel Laureate Physicist Leon Lederman and David Schramm say, 'The concept that the universe is a single bubble has tremendous implications: There may be many other bubbles out there, all of which could be other universes, completely disconnected from ours. There may be more universes than we ever contemplated, but we will have no way of reaching them.'

Physicist, Tom Siegfried, also echoes the Sutra when he says that our universe could turn out to be 'just a bubble of foam in an endless ocean, a tiny island in a vast cosmic sea. The true totality of creation would extend beyond human sensation and imagination.'

Reality on Screens

Based on the latest theories in modern physics, it appears that the information content in any part of our 3d universe does not depend on its 3d volume but on its 2d area. This betrays a characteristic of a hologram. For example, a 3d hologram is projected from a small area in your 2d credit card. Since the 3d hologram is projected from a 2d area, it cannot have more information then what is embedded in the 2d area.

Gerard t' Hooft says, 'One must conclude that a two-dimensional surface can contain all information concerning an entire three-space. In fact, this should hold for any two-surface that ranges to infinity. The situation can be compared with a hologram of a three dimensional image on a two-dimensional surface.' This leads us to the 'screen theory' in modern physics. The 'screen theory' might describe a screen as something like a quantum computer, with one bit of memory for each pixel - each pixel being two Planck lengths on each side. Physicist Lee Smolin says that if we assume that there are no things but only processes, only screens exist.

Lee Smolin summarizes: 'All that exists in the world are screens, on which the world is represented.'

J R Minkel (a Science Reporter) adds: 'You're holding a magazine. It feels solid; it seems to have some kind of independent existence in space. Ditto the objects around you-perhaps a cup of coffee, a computer. They all seem real and out there somewhere. But it's all an illusion. Those supposedly solid objects are mere projections emanating from a shifting kaleidoscopic pattern living on the boundary of our Universe. The world is a hologram.'

Metaphysical Literature

In 1946 Paramahansa Yogananda explained: 'Just as cinematic images appear to be real but are only combinations of light and shade, so is the universal variety a delusion. The planets, with their countless forms of life, are nothing but figures in a cosmic motion picture. This is the cosmic motion picture mechanism, producing the picture of your body. Your form is nothing but light! The cosmic stem of light, blossoming as my body, seemed a divine reproduction of the light beams that stream out of the projection booth in a cinema to create the pictures on the screen.

A cinematic audience may look up and see that all screen images are appearing through the instrumentality of one imageless beam of light. The colorful universal drama is similarly issuing from the single white light of a Cosmic Source.'

One question that scientists should ask themselves is how did Yogananda come to this conclusion half a century before Science? This experience, like many other experiences of mystics, shows that a human being can experience reality directly and come to truths without the aid of advanced mathematics and scientific instruments. The deactivation of certain parts of the brain, whether deliberately through meditation or narcotic drugs; or because of some disease or lesion, may be the 'trick.' (As discussed in more detail in the author's book Brains and Realities, 2006).

Yogananda notes (1946): One's values are profoundly changed when he is finally convinced that creation is only a vast motion picture; and that not in it, but beyond it, lies his own reality.

Illusion of Spacetime

There is mounting evidence from modern physics that spacetime is an illusion. In the Alain Aspect experiment it was confirmed that two particles which are entangled affect each other even if they are light years apart. In John Wheeler's experiment it was found that the history of a particle depended on what happened in the present. Einstein remarked in one of his letters that 'time is an illusion.' Space too is an illusion. The term 'illusion' is used here in the sense that spacetime is relative to the observer's frame of reference. It is very real to the observer from his local frame of reference but it is not definable globally.

Henry Stapp notes that the central mystery of quantum theory is how information gets around so quickly. He asks, 'How does the information about what is happening everywhere else get collected to determine what is likely to happen here?'

According to physicist Gary Zukau, the philosophical implication of quantum mechanics is that all of the things in our universe (including us) that appear to exist independently are actually parts of one all-encompassing organic pattern, and that no parts of that pattern are ever really separate from it or each other. In other words, none of the observed 'parts' are actually separate in space or time - it is a perfect unity.

Stanislav Grof adds: 'Eastern mystics and western poets have been telling us for a long time that whether we speak of something and nothing, Yin and the Yang, the proton and electron, we are describing two parts of an undivided whole.'

According to Lee Smolin physicists now regard time as nothing but a measure of change. Neither space nor time has any existence outside the system of evolving relationships that comprises the universe. Former astronaut, Edgar Mitchell, says that we inhabit a quantum world where nonlocal effects should be expected at all levels of functioning, not just as a curious artifact of the subatomic level of reality.

The Surangama Sutra emphatically states 'the perception of the eyes and the objects it sees and space itself, is devoid of location.'

'We conclude that the activity of cells in V5 must indeed depend partly on colour input and the activity of cells in V4 partly on motion. Visual consciousness must then be considered non-local,' says Andrew Duggins, Geraint Rees and Chris Frith; Neuroscientists at the Department of Cognitive Neurology, University College London.

Different regions in the brain are responsible for different aspects of visual perception, yet consciousness comes up with a single image with all these different aspects coming together. How is this possible? This is often referred to as the 'binding problem' in consciousness. Perhaps the solution is in quantum physics.

There are well-confirmed quantum-mechanical effects that have a non-local character - widely separated parts of a quantum system behave as though they are, connected in a mysterious way (as discussed in the Alain Aspect experiment, above). These are known as Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen or 'EPR' effects. Neuroscientist Andrew Duggins has suggested that the binding problem in conscious perception may actually depend on non-local EPR effects. Duggins has tested to see whether there are significant violations of 'Bell's inequalities' (a mathematical procedure to test the hypothesis) in the formation of a mental image; indicating the presence of non-local EPR-type connections that would suggest that large-scale quantum effects are part of conscious perception. He concludes from his experiment that visual consciousness must be non-local.

There is also evidence that indicates that subatomic particles constantly appear to be making decisions! More intriguing, these decisions seem to be based on decisions made elsewhere. These particles seem to know instantaneously what decisions are made elsewhere - even if it's in another galaxy! Gary Zukau asks, 'How can a subatomic particle over here know what decision another particle over there has made at the same time the particle over there makes it? A particle, as classically defined, is confined to a region in space. It is either here or there, but it cannot be both here and there at the same time. For a particle here to know what is going on over there while it is happening, it must be over there. But if it is over there, it cannot be here. If it is in both places at once, then spacetime must be an illusion because it does not seem to exist for these particles.'

Physicist Bernard Haisch invites us to ask ourselves how the universe of space and time would appear from the perspective of a beam of light. He explains that the laws of relativity are clear on this point. If you could ride a beam of light as an observer, all of space would shrink to a point, and all of time would collapse to an instant. In the reference frame of light, there is no space and time. If we look up at the Andromeda galaxy in the night sky, we see light that from our point of view took 2 million years to traverse that vast distance of space. But to a beam of light radiating from some star in the Andromeda galaxy, the transmission from its point of origin to our eye was instantaneous. He concludes, 'There must be a deeper meaning in these physical facts, a deeper truth about the simultaneous interconnection of all things.'

Another source of evidence of the illusion of spacetime is the 'uncertainty principle' in quantum physics. As we approach an elementary particle to measure its precise momentum, its location becomes smeared all over spacetime. The particle does not allow you to pinpoint its precise location. Its evasiveness betrays the slippery and illusory nature of matter and space. Physicist David Bohm believes that an electron is an ensemble enfolded throughout the whole of space. When an instrument detects the presence of a single electron it is simply because one aspect of the ensemble has unfolded. When an electron moves, it is due to a continuous series of such unfoldments and enfoldments - in other words it pops in and out of the implicate void. When a particle appears to be destroyed it has merely enfolded back into the deeper order from which it sprang. The way an observer interacts with the ensemble determines which aspect unfolds and which remains hidden.

According to the renowned neurosurgeon, Karl Pribram, there is no space and time, no causality, no matter and no mind in the holographic, enfolded order.

Holographic Projections

The distinguished physicist, Roger Penrose, notes that Science seems to be driven to deduce that if mass-energy is to be located at all, it must be in flat empty space - a region completely free of matter or fields of any kind! In these curious circumstances, he says, matter is either there or nowhere at all. This is a paradox. Yet, it is a definite implication of what our best theories are telling us about the 'real' material of our world, he says. Michael Talbot says that creating the illusion that things are located where they are not is the quintessential feature of a hologram. This is because the hologram is a virtual image. In a holographic universe, location is itself an illusion. Just as an image of an apple has no specific location on a piece of holographic film; in a universe that is organised holographically things and objects have no definite location. Holographic images are generated from the constructive interference of two waves of coherent light. All the information about a 3-dimensional holographic object is captured in a 2d flat holographic template embedded with the interference pattern. The image of the object or any semblance of the image cannot be located on the flat holographic template.

If the flat holographic template is broken into many pieces - each piece will still be able to generate a 3-dimensional hologram - although the image would not be as clear as when all the pieces are used. This is the whole-in-the-part or 'WIP' feature in holography. Since every piece contains every other piece (since it contains the whole), every piece is interconnected with every other piece. Hence, the examination of each piece will reveal the other pieces - ad infinitum. Each piece is therefore 'a composite of composites.' John Taylor says if in our search for the ultimate constituents of nature, we always found that they have their own constituents, and they theirs, ad infinitum; then our whole Universe could then be considered constructed out of self-creating entities. It would then be truly relative: nothing would be fundamental; everything would create and in its turn be created out of everything else. Some decades ago, physicist Geoffrey Chew provided the 'bootstrap model' of elementary particles, where no particle is considered 'fundamental.'

Henry Stapp wrote for the Atomic Energy Commission,' elementary particle is not an independently existing entity. It is, in essence, a set of relationships that reach outward to other things.' The isolation that we create is an idealization, and one point of view is that quantum mechanics allows us to idealize a photon from the fundamental unbroken unity so that we can study it. In fact, a photon seems to become isolated because we are studying it. According to Stapp, the physical world, according to quantum physics, is not a structure built out of independently existing entities, but rather a web of relationships between elements whose meanings arise wholly from their relationships to the whole - much like a hologram. Niels Bohr says that an independent status, in the ordinary physical sense, can be ascribed neither to the phenomena nor to observers. In other words, the world of seemingly independent objects, located within spacetime, cannot be as it appears. What we perceive to be physical reality is actually our cognitive deconstruction or suppression of complementary attributes of the symmetric void. Interconnectedness and the resulting lack of independence of any part of the whole (since it is always connected to the whole) is an inherent feature of a holographically generated multiverse.

Real-Time Holograms

Digital holographic systems can generate holograms based on information fed into a computer, which need not be representations of existing objects but free creations of the mind. An analogy would be computer music or art. A musician may develop a musical manuscript using his laptop which is then recorded onto a CD (compact disc). The 'holes' in the CD do not at all resemble the music. Nevertheless, when a laser beam is bounced-off these holes and processed, music is heard. Similarly, when coherent light is bounced-off the holographically encoded 'full-void,' the holographic film of the multiverse, universes appear. Is it any coincidence that information in the brain itself is now thought to be holographically encoded?

Where are We?

If spacetime is an illusion, then where are we? According to physicists Lederman and Schram, the universe is not rotating, there is no axis of rotation and the relatively uniform Hubble expansion tells us that 'the universe has no centre - no preferred point. All points are equivalent.'

God is a circle whose centre is everywhere, and circumference nowhere, notes Empedocles, the ancient Greek philosopher.

The understanding that all phenomena observed is relative to the frame of reference and that there is no 'centre' (i.e. no privileged frame of reference) to the universe betrays the fact that the multiverse is 'embedded' or as Bohm would have put it 'enfolded' in an implicate order - in this case the 'full-void' or the 'event horizon' of the multiverse.

The Void

The multiverse is often imagined by a discriminating mind as a ball sitting in a black void. However, Mellen-Thomas Benedict, a near death experiencer advises, 'The void is inside and outside everything. You, right now even while you live, are always inside and outside the void simultaneously. You don't have to go anywhere or die to get there. The void is the vacuum or nothingness between all physical manifestations. The void itself is devoid of experience. It is pre-life before the first vibration.'

According to Buddhists, the widest ground of experience appears to be a pure, immediate presence before it becomes differentiated into any form of subject-object duality. Split second flashes of this open ground, which Buddhists have also called 'primordial awareness,' 'original mind,' 'no-mind,' are happening all the time, although one does not usually notice them. Siddhartha Gautama spoke about literally developing awareness in terms of fractions of a second, to awaken people to the fleeting glimpses of an open, precognitive spaciousness that keeps occurring before things get interpreted in a particular perspective.

Hence, our perception actually oscillates between the void and the manifested universe in split seconds as we deconstruct the void into pairs of opposites, suppress the dissonant attributes, then put it back together again using the brain's holistic operator to present an understandable world to ourselves. This deconstruction-construction process goes on all the time but is imperceptible to our ordinary consciousness. (In other words, we are unconscious of the process - just as you are unconscious of the many complicated biochemical activities that are occurring in your internal organs as you read this book.) The everyday universe is therefore literally disappearing and manifesting every split second. This process is similar to what happens as you look at an image on your computer screen - which is actually regenerated by the system every split second.

In computer parlance, the rate of regeneration is called the 'screen refresh rate.' The refresh rate is important because it directly impacts the viewability of the screen image. Refresh rates that are too low cause annoying flicker that can be distracting to the viewer and can cause fatigue and eye strain. The refresh rate necessary to avoid this varies with the individual, because it is based on the eye's ability to notice the repainting of the image many times per second. While the flicker of the universal screen is imperceptible to most of us, advanced meditators have alluded to it.

Universes and particles are everywhere and nowhere in the void - just as projected holograms are everywhere and nowhere on a holographic film. The full-void is holographically encoded - it is analogous to the holographic template or film. If the universe is everywhere in the void, it also means that the void can be accessed from any place in the universe. If you were deep in the centre of the Earth it would take a much longer time to access the atmosphere. If you were on the crusty surface of the Earth, however, you would have immediate access to it. But the universe is not this kind of sphere. It is a holographic projection emanating from the full-void. Hence, the origins of objects within the multiverse are in fact everywhere in the full-void.

In our universe, objects appear to be related and can be located in a local spacetime grid. In a deeper context, however, they are everywhere and nowhere. The relationships that we see in our everyday world of objects are only appearances. It is an optical illusion. This illusion is not only baffling to laymen and scientists but has even baffled mystics and advanced meditators who have confronted it throughout the ages - to the extent that some have said that ordinary consciousness generates illusions. 'If we got rid of the lenses,' neurosurgeon Pribram proposes, 'we'd experience the interference patterns themselves. We would be in the pure frequency domain. What would that domain look like? Ask the mystics. Though they have trouble describing it, too..., he says.

Note: The above was an extract from Jay Alfred's book Brains & Realities, which can be downloaded free from


Chapter 8: Virtual Reality
1 Cole, K C, The Hole in the Universe, How Scientists Peered Over the Edge of Emptiness and Found Everything, Harvest Books, 2001.
2 F. D avid Peat, Superstrings and the Search for the Theory of Everything, 1988.
3 Blavatsky, H. P., The Secret Doctrine, 1888.
4 Y ogananda, Paramahansa, Autobiography of a Yogi, Self-Realization Fellowship, Los Angeles, 1946.
5 Goddard, Dwight (Editor), The Buddhist Bible, Surangama Sutra, Beacon Press, 1970.
6 The Bible, 'Be Still and know I am God.'
7 Goddard, Dwight (Editor), The Buddhist Bible, Surangama Sutra, Beacon Press, 1970.
8 Lederman, Leon M. and Schramm, David N., From Quarks to the Cosmos: Tools of Discovery (Scientific American Library Series, Vol. 28) (Paperback)
9 Siegfried, Tom, Strange Matters, Berkeley Publishing Group (a division of Penguin Group,) 2002.
10 Bigatti, D. and Susskind, L. , TASI Lectures on the Holographic Principle, 1999
11 Gerard t' Hooft, Dimensional Reduction.
12 Smolin, Lee, Three Roads to Quantum Gravity, Phoenix Paperback, an imprint of Orion Books Ltd, 2001.
13 Minkel, J. R. , Hollow Universe, New Scientist, 2002
14 Yogananda, Paramahansa, Autobiography of a Yogi, Self-Realization Fellowship, Los Angeles, 1946.
15 Ibid.
16 Ibid.
17 Smolin, Lee, Three Roads to Quantum Gravity, Phoenix Paperback, an imprint of Orion Books Ltd, 2001.
18 Edgar Mitchell, Nature's Mind: The Quantum Hologram.
19 Goddard, Dwight (Editor), The Buddhist Bible, Surangama Sutra, Beacon Press, 1970.
20 Haisch, Bernard, Brilliant Disguise: Light, Matter and the Zero-Point Field.
21 Talbot, Michael, The Holographic Universe, HarperCollins, Great Britain, 1991.
22 Karl Pribram, quoted in The 3-Pound Universe, Judith Hooper and Dick Teresi.
23 Roger Penrose, The Emperor's New Mind.
24 Talbot, Michael, The Holographic Universe, HarperCollins, Great Britain, 1991.
25 Taylor, John G., Black Holes: the end of the Universe? Avon Books, 1973.
26 Lederman, Leon M. and Schramm, David N., From Quarks to the Cosmos: Tools of Discovery (Scientific American Library Series, Vol. 28) (Paperback)
27 Mellen-Thomas Benedict, Through the Light and Beyond.
28 Sensei, Meditation from 3 Perspectives - Neuroscience, Phenomenology and Zen.
29 Karl Pribram, quoted in The 3-Pound Universe, Judith Hooper and Dick Teresi.

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