TABLE of CONTENTS
[click on any
Foreward and Overview
A growing number of people are discussing collective consciousness
and wisdom. When I first published an article about these topics in
my literature search turned up only one line of related scientific
research, begun in 1979, regarding the social effects of “unified field”
consciousness, accessed through group practice of transcendental
A year later, the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research (PEAR) lab
began studying how focused group intention and attention – or “field
consciousness” -- brought order to random computer output. In 1995,
Roger Nelson and Dean Radin began researching similar effects that
occurred when mass attention was captured by events like the O.J.
Simpson trial. In 1998, the Fetzer Institute and the Institute of Noetic
Sciences (IONS) co-sponsored two national dialogues exploring group
consciousness and synergy, which my wife, Julie Glover, organized.
Fetzer published a report, Centered on the Edge: Mapping a Field of
Collective Intelligence and Spiritual Wisdom, three years later,
and supported creation of this website in 2002. The following year
Rupert Sheldrake published a book about “extended mind”, and IONS and
the Association for Global New Thought co-sponsored the first conference
on collective wisdom, which was attended by 2,500 participants. When I
did an Internet search regarding collective consciousness in October
2003, I got more than 64,000 hits. In its May-July, 2004 issue, What
Is Enlightenment? magazine ran a feature article on collective
consciousness. Clearly, the topic has been increasingly infiltrating our
Is There Scientific Evidence? If
more and more people are talking about collective consciousness, is
there any scientific evidence to back it up? Yes – and that’s important.
Rigorous science helps us avoid the fuzzy thinking and unquestioned
assumptions that too often characterize spiritual and New Age
discussions. Moreover, science may ultimately introduce mainstream
society to collective consciousness and demonstrate how it can benefit
Over the past 12 years, I’ve studied a good deal of intriguing
research about collective consciousness. It suggests that we influence
each other in many subtle, yet powerful ways, and that our collective
wisdom and creativity can be harnessed for the common good much more
than we do presently.
Moving Around This Document. This
Foreword and Overview will give you some brief examples of the research.
If you want to delve into the research in greater detail, you can
explore the longer paper that follows. If you click on a link in the
Overview, it will take you to the corresponding section
of the in-depth paper. It is the most up-to-date and comprehensive –
perhaps the only -- survey of the research on collective consciousness
available today. It represents my perspective on collective
consciousness, based upon my thinking and experience working with
collective wisdom in teams and organizations over more than 30 years.
Finally, the paper’s endnotes will allow you in many cases to link to
the original research.
We have also provided additional ways for you to find the sections of
the paper that are most interesting to you. You can click on the links
in the Table
of Contents, above.
We will cover a lot of ground in this paper, addressing a number of
crucial issues involved in the scientific study of collective
- Defining collective consciousness clearly and
operationally, in a manner that allows us to conduct effective
- Beginning to outline a model of individual and
social development, and to develop a theory and testable hypotheses
regarding collective consciousness, so we can conduct research that is
rigorous, disciplined, interdisciplinary, cross-cultural, and grounded
in human experience and development;
- Drawing upon theory and research regarding
consciousness, fields, subtle energies and tele-prehension, that
suggest possible explanatory mechanisms for collective consciousness;
- Examining some of the possible implications of
building collective consciousness, based upon the research, in terms
of physical, emotional and mental healing, strengthening and
sustaining our organizations and communities, and facilitating
learning and creative collaboration.
Before moving into the body of the paper, let me briefly summarize
the main areas of research and potential benefits that I will later
address in detail:
Is Collective Consciousness? Collective
consciousness is a mode of awareness that emerges at the first
transpersonal stage of consciousness, when our identities expand beyond
our egos. A crucial capacity that accompanies this awareness is the
ability to intuitively sense and work with the interactions between our
and others’ energy fields, physically, emotionally, mentally and
spiritually. For example, just as Gene Rodenberry imagined a future
where Star Trek’s Spock could “mind meld” with others, more of
us are now becoming aware of our capacity not only to intuit each
other’s thoughts and emotions, but also to consciously think and create
together without communicating through our five senses.
Role of Energy Fields. Most of the
researchers below postulate that energy fields explain the effects of
consciousness. Fields are regions of influence.
Examples include gravitational, electric and magnetic fields.
Although invisible, we have learned how to measure these fields. Some of
the research I will now describe, however, indicates that another type
of field may be associated with collective consciousness.
or Tele-prehension. Psi is extra-sensory perception or
influence, perhaps made possible by the apparent ability of
consciousness to operate beyond the constraints of space and time.
Examples include telepathy and remote viewing. The existence of psi (or
tele-prehension, as Ken Wilber calls it) has been convincingly
demonstrated in a large number of scientific studies, carried out by
Marilyn Schlitz, Dean Radin and others. For example, in a number of
remote-viewing experiments people have described a distant location to
which another individual has been sent, with a statistically significant
degree of accuracy, well beyond chance levels. As in other psi
experiments, pairs who had an emotional bond have obtained the strongest
results. These findings suggest that building a sense of connection and
trust in groups may allow members to access and understand each other's
perspectives more readily, to “see through each other’s eyes.”
Biologist Rupert Sheldrake and others have conducted a number of
ingenious experiments that show that psi abilities are widespread, even
in animals. For example, using synchronized video cameras in dog owners’
homes and workplaces, he has proven that dogs go to the front doors of
their homes to wait, as soon as their owners decide to return home from
work, even though those times are varied daily. Sheldrake, Radin and
others have conducted many other telepathy experiments, showing that
people can sense the thoughts and intentions of others across space and
time. Through tele-prehension, the members of a group may be able to
read each other’s minds and engage in a non-sensory, creative, mental
Learning and Creativity.
Sheldrake has also demonstrated that we can assist each other’s
learning across distances. In one of a number of studies, a group
completed a newly created crossword puzzle. It was then broadcast to
millions via TV, for them to complete. Subsequently, a new group, that
had not seen the puzzle, finished it significantly faster than the
original group. If we extrapolate from individual to group effects,
these results imply that a team may be able to help other teams to
develop cognitively and creatively, without any external interaction.
Systems theorist Ervin Laszlo has suggested that such findings may also
explain cultural synchronicity in times past, where a discovery or
creative renaissance in one culture appeared within relatively short
timeframes in other cultures around the world, despite an absence of
Creation of Order or Coherence. Radin, the Princeton
Engineering Anomalies Research (PEAR) Lab, and Roger Nelson’s Global
Consciousness Project have conducted many other intriguing experiments
with random-number-generating (RNG) computers. RNGs are programmed to
issue zeroes or ones randomly, so that each
appears 50% of the time. Ordinary people, however, have used intention
to create order out of this randomness, causing RNGs that were sometimes
thousands of miles away, to issue significantly more of one number over
many trials. Bonded pairs – couples in a relationship – produced effects
that were six times stronger than individuals. Like the remote viewing
experiments, these results indicate that people with an emotional
connection, when acting in concert, are more influential than
individuals acting alone.
Groups also produce stronger results than individuals. For example,
even when only the attention of groups has been captured by
high-interest events, the RNG effects have been three times greater than
individual-intention results -- despite the fact that the
groups were unaware of the RNGs and therefore did not intend to
influence their output. When groups of people meditated together – a
practice that creates even greater focus by synchronizing members’ brain
waves – the effect of their coherent attention was six times
greater than the individual-intention results. Finally, during
certain events that have captured mass attention, such as Princess
Diana’s death and the 9/11 tragedies, the combined output of 60 RNGs
around the world has significantly deviated from chance. These results
suggest that focused collective attention or intention can create
significant order in otherwise random and chaotic reality. It is
precisely this effect – the transformation of randomness into coherence
-- that underlies insight, learning, healing and creative
and Collective Entrainment. Just as we can create order in
physical systems through focused attention or intention, a number of
experiments have suggested that two or more people can create
synchronization or coherence between their nervous systems. For example,
Marilyn Schlitz, William Braud and others have shown that calm
individuals can intentionally reduce the anxiety of others in distant
places, and that focused people can help others in remote locations to
concentrate their attention. These effects may be explained by other
studies, including those conducted by a non-profit organization,
HeartMath, and by researchers at Bastyr University/University of
Washington Consciousness Research Lab. Even when participants were in
separate rooms, their heart and brain waves became synchronized or
entrained, when they had close living or working relationships, or when
they felt appreciation, care, empathy, or love toward each other. When
people meditated together, their alpha brain waves entrained. And when
people were able to internally entrain their own personal heart and
brain waves, they caused the heart and brain waves of other individuals
to entrain with theirs. Entrainment appears to increase attention, to
produce feelings of calm and deep connection, and to facilitate
tele-prehension of each other’s sensations, emotions, images, thoughts
and intuitions. Like Sheldrake’s facilitated learning experiments, these
findings have significant implications, since chronic stress is a key
cause of physical and emotional illness, and since enhanced attention
greatly improves learning and creativity.
Healing. In another arena – distance healing -- 67% of 150
controlled studies have shown that individuals and groups can use
intention, relaxation, enhanced concentration, visualization, and a
request to a healing force greater than themselves, to heal others to a
statistically significant degree.
Quality of Life, Peace and Social Health. On community,
societal and even worldwide levels, more than 20 experiments, published
in respected scientific journals, have demonstrated that Transcendental
Meditation groups, representing 1% of a target population, have caused
significant improvements in social indicators of quality of life, health
and mental health, and have reduced crime, accidents, conflict and war,
apparently by reducing stress in the corresponding population.
Promoting the Common
Good. These and other studies provide strong
evidence that, given certain conditions, we can develop and work with
our collective consciousness to produce a number of important
interpersonal, organizational and social benefits: increased empathy,
compassion, understanding, respect, appreciation and rapport; greater
cooperation, creative collaboration, teamwork and collective wisdom; and
enhanced well-being, peace, and physical, emotional, mental and
spiritual health. In our increasingly diverse workplaces, communities
and global institutions, where we are challenged by extremely complex
problems, developing these capacities will not only promote the common
good, but could also ensure our survival.
The Focus of This Paper
How I and you enter into a “we”, and how you – as an
alien object or “it” – become a “thou”, in a circle of understanding
and care, is an extraordinary mystery. A “we” seems to hold the heart
of the Kosmos3
hidden in its
I have written this paper in order to give scientists and laypeople
alike an overview of the possibilities offered by science and the wisdom
traditions, in terms of investigating and understanding the phenomenon
of collective consciousness. It is alternately referred to as group,
shared, correlated, field, ecological, global, cosmic, or Kosmic
consciousness, although these terms are not always used in the same way.
In many instances, the various terms reflect ever-widening circles of
identity and care, which are correlated with deeper and deeper levels of
I have not focused upon collective wisdom for the most part,
since I believe it is necessary to begin with consciousness, which
precedes wisdom, in attempting to conduct a research program. Apart from
some of my own action research, I have not found any research studies on
collective wisdom per se. Nonetheless, much of the
theory and research described in this paper will indirectly apply to
collective wisdom. I do not mean to imply that collective wisdom cannot
be the focus of research. For a discussion of collective wisdom, please
consult my papers listed in endnote
5, especially those after 2001, including the paper on this website,
Out Our Potential: Developing Collective Wisdom and Team
I have organized this summary according to various lines of research
and practice. In each section, I propose one or more intriguing and
important questions, which might help us to study and understand
collective consciousness. I also provide links for readers who wish to
pursue some of the information in greater detail. I have placed these
links in the endnotes, so that I would not clutter or complicate the
Due to space limitations, I will not be able to describe the work of
some of the individuals or organizations that have conducted research in
the research areas described below. Rather, I have referenced those
whose work I believe to be central and critical to the research area.
Although I periodically mention critiques and problems, space
limitations prevented me from discussing these critiques in detail.
Finally, I cannot cover all the arenas of potentially relevant research.
For example, the extensive research regarding intergroup relations and
regarding teamwork would be very productive areas to explore. My overall
intention, rather, is to provide references that will allow readers to
consider the debates and controversies in greater detail and to engage
in dialogue through this website. If you would like to obtain addition
information regarding relevant researchers, whether cited here or not,
please consult the articles, chapters, audiocassettes, and book that I
have published regarding collective consciousness.5
A number of researchers are now investigating collective
consciousness per se,6
or phenomena that may be related. I will refer to the key theorists and
researchers below. I recently interviewed or corresponded with most of
them (about 20 individuals), to discuss their latest thinking and
questions regarding collective consciousness. I also updated my
knowledge of the field by reading a number of the latest articles and
books. As a result, this paper should give you a fairly comprehensive
overview of research that may be relevant to understanding collective
I realize that the research questions I have presented will have to
be explored in a certain order and over at least the next 20 to 30
years. If one examines the history of the propagation of novel ideas and
phenomena, pioneers can wait decades before their ideas enter the
mainstream and become eligible for research funding. My hope is that
this paper will stimulate interest in research regarding collective
consciousness and wisdom. In my conversations with the researchers doing
pioneering work in these arenas, one theme emerged consistently: they
believe, as I do, that learning to develop collective wisdom may prove
extremely helpful in dealing with the complex social and cultural issues
that we face as a globe.
The Strengths and Limits of
I am delighted that this website is opening a dialogue with the
scientific and academic communities regarding collective consciousness.
Scientific inquiry can bring disciplined thinking to the exploration of
any phenomenon, can unearth unexamined assumptions and beliefs, and can
clarify confusing, redundant, and unnecessarily complex terminology and
concepts. When novel ideas begin to spread through societies, they often
progress from the original innovators and pioneers to the academic and
scientific communities. By bringing rigor and discipline to the study of
collective consciousness, these communities can help build bridges to
organizational and community leaders who might otherwise dismiss the
phenomenon out of hand. If scientific investigation validates the
reality of collective consciousness and its effects in society, the
phenomenon will begin to receive serious, more widespread and mainstream
consideration and application over the next 10 to 50 years. If the
potential benefits of collective consciousness are demonstrated, in
areas such as creativity,7
health and mental health,9
these aspects of our lives may well be transformed and the common
may be advanced significantly.
On the other hand, traditional science may be limited in its ability
to examine all aspects of collective wisdom. As Ken Wilber has
science excels in examining sensory experience (via empiric-analytic
science) and phenomena that can be understood through reason, logic and
concepts (via phenomenological philosophy and psychology). Understanding
some aspects of collective consciousness, however, may require the
practice of contemplation and meditation, and access to knowledge via
gnosis, i.e., direct knowing or realization, which is transrational,
translogical and transmental. Such experiences have been elucidated by
the world’s wisdom traditions.
In the last case, scientific rigor may still be brought to bear (and
speculative, often culturally conditioned metaphysics14
avoided), since claims can still be tested through the essential
components of all forms of knowledge validation, including review and
consensual proof by a community of trained peers who have practiced the
specific approach being used (in this case, introspective
phenomenology). Nonetheless, to the degree that the study of collective
consciousness requires examination of the higher developmental stages of
human consciousness, and the direct experience of Spirit, or infinite,
nondual Emptiness, that experience can only be expressed by poetry and
metaphor, not by finite and dualistic categorizations and
Einstein warned us that science without religion is blind and that
religion without science is lame. Since the split has always appeared
nonsensical and strange to me, I have chosen to use Wilber’s integrative
model as a framework for discussing the research and wisdom traditions
The Challenge of Clear Definition
If we want to approach collective consciousness scientifically, we
must first develop a clear definition of what we believe it uniquely is,
based upon our experience and observation. For me even to write this
paper, I have had to do so. Otherwise, I cannot suggest the areas of
research that may be relevant and fruitful.
It is not unusual to find conceptual unclarity and confusion when the
dimensions of a phenomenon are first being explored. But if we wish to
observe and measure relevant variables, conduct methodologically sound
research, and develop findings and conclusions that are valid and
reliable, then we must define collective consciousness in a way that is
clear, that is as simple and parsimonious as possible, and that can be
operationalized (i.e., contains variables that are measurable).
I will present my working definition of collective consciousness, and
will situate it within a model of human development, in the next
A Model of Human Development
In an online draft of his latest book,15
Wilber continues to lay out an integral model of human development,
which is thoughtful, clear, rigorous, interdisciplinary, and grounded in
a cross-cultural survey of scientific research and texts from humanity’s
age-old wisdom traditions. Because his model is so comprehensive, it
provides an excellent overall framework for defining collective
consciousness and synthesizing the relevant research. It helps us avoid
conceptual confusion and the narrow lacuna and unwarranted absolutism,
in which single-discipline theory and research often get trapped. By
stripping metaphysical concepts that are culturally conditioned from the
transpersonal stages of development, his model allows us to study
collective consciousness scientifically.
Wilber portrays his integral model via a comprehensive
psychosociograph of individual and collective development. He draws upon
theory and research from the wisdom and scientific praxes and proposes
correlations between levels of consciousness and types of
The vertical axis of his graphic model represents the overall level of
consciousness for an individual or a collective (10 levels are
suggested). The horizontal axis displays 12 types of development, which
include cognitive (Piaget, Aurobindo), self-sense/identity (Loevinger,
Cook-Greuter), moral (Kohlberg), needs (Maslow), values (Graves, Spiral
Dynamics) and interpersonal (Gardner) development.
To lay some groundwork for my later discussion of collective
consciousness, let me give a brief example of individual development,
taken from an essay I wrote.17
At a certain point in their lives, individuals may begin a series of
transpersonal stages of development, wherein their “sense of identity or
self extends beyond the individual…to encompass wider aspects of
Wilber labels the first of these levels “higher mind (vision-logic)”, on
the cognitive developmental line. Here individuals -- having
transcended, yet incorporated, their previous identities (e.g., ego-,
family-, membership-group-, ethnic-, and nation-centric) -- now
consciously choose a world-centric identity, “not just with all humans,
but with nature.”19
They go beyond mutual recognition, the “free exchange of…actualized
to mutual identity,21
whereby individuals now recognize themselves in each other, “beyond the
illusions of separation and duality.”22
Individuals begin to make organizational decisions, for example, from
the perspective of a common good, that transcends, yet embraces, the
boundaries of ego, family, tribe, city and nation.
Moreover, whereas individuals on the previous level add up the
diverse perspectives in a collective, in order to arrive at integration,
individuals working at the vision-logic level “directly see the integral
The development of this intuitive ability may play a crucial role in the
development of collective consciousness. Research indicates that members
of a group may be able to directly apprehend the unexpressed thoughts
and feelings of each other, and perhaps the intelligence of Spirit. If
this is so, teams can engage in a relatively fast, nonverbal interplay
between their hearts and minds. In my experience, teams and
organizations can access a level of wisdom that surpasses, yet
incorporates, the individual perspectives of their members.
In terms of collective consciousness, the developmental and spiritual
literature describes an evolutionary progression, leading to ever
widening circles of identification and care: from a particular group
(marriage, family, organization, etc.), to a community (geographic,
interest group, etc.), to a society or culture (national, ethnic,
tribal, etc.), to all sentient beings, to Nature (ecological
consciousness), to the globe (global consciousness), to the cosmos
and to the Kosmos (Kosmic consciousness).25
The wisdom traditions assert that, ultimately, an individual “realizes a
Self-identity with Spirit.”26
A Working Definition of Collective
The circular ripples that radiate out from a pebble thrown into a
pond can metaphorically represent our sense of ever widening identity.
In Wilber’s 10-level model of consciousness, transpersonal development
spans levels six through nine. I believe collective consciousness begins
to emerge at level six. I define it as:
A mode of awareness, in which we directly experience, through
an intuitive felt-sense, our union with the interconnected wholeness
of life, and recognize ourselves in others. Our identity extends
beyond our individual boundary and embraces the collective, through a
free and conscious act of identification, rather than through
definition by convention or external authority.
Once this awareness develops, individuals – because they now perceive
themselves as mutually interdependent parts of a larger whole -- develop
an authentic, abiding and primary concern and care for common good and
for the well being, health and productive functioning of the communities
to which they belong (including organizations and, eventually, the
Note that I am speaking about a mode of awareness that may exist in
an individual, not a collective. The phrase, “group mind”, that is
sometimes used to refer to collective consciousness, gives the
impression that a new mind and, therefore, consciousness emerges as a
collective entity, a position that is speculative at present.27
I am therefore simply holding for now that the reported experience of
connection, of communion, and of direct apprehension of the thoughts and
feelings of others is due to some form of invisible interaction between
the members of a group. The research cited below will outline some
possible explanations for the nature of that interaction.
Note also that I am not using the term coined by Carl Jung, the
“collective unconscious”, which he used to describe the phenomena of
universal, archetypal and mythological images and symbols which appear
Although collective consciousness involves ever widening circles of
identity, and therefore an awareness of the many essential and universal
ways in which we are profoundly connected to other humans and to all
manifestations of life, building collective consciousness and wisdom is
primarily a conscious act – one that explicitly nurtures diversity as
the key to reaching true wisdom.29
Developing A Theory, A Model and Testable
To my knowledge, no one has yet developed a theory, a model or
testable hypotheses regarding collective consciousness. One productive
way to do so would be to use a qualitative research method, such as
to interview individuals who believe they have experienced collective
consciousness. Such a research method allows a theory and hypotheses to
emerge from the perspectives and experience of those who possess
knowledge of the proposed phenomenon. In other words, the data of
people’s experience shapes the theory, rather than it being imposed upon
It is common for scientists to first experience or observe a
phenomenon, to notice and study correlations between apparently relevant
variables, to speculate about and to investigate possible
cause-and-effect relationships, and to search for and postulate
explanatory mechanisms. The first two activities may take place before
scientists formulate a theory or model. To my knowledge, this is the
situation today regarding collective consciousness. On this
in my own writing,32
and in the work of others,33
the qualities or dimensions of collective wisdom, the correlations among
variables, and potential cause-and-effect relationships have been
postulated. Essentially they include:
• Qualities of the felt
experience of collective consciousness, including resonance;
communion; sense of community; interconnectedness; mutual
understanding, respect and support; concern for the welfare of each
other, others and the common good; precognition of each other’s
thoughts, words and/or actions; love; intuition; openness and
receptivity; synergy; coordination; being heard and seen fully;
shared, correlated, or unified consciousness; and sense of a group
• Effects that may be correlated
with, and possibly caused by, collective consciousness, and/or focused
group attention or intention, including increased personal, group and
social creativity, collaboration, conflict resolution, wisdom, health,
mental health, and effectiveness; and improved decision-making.
• Conditions that may support
the emergence of collective consciousness and its presumed benefits,
including creating a sense of sacred space and time, good listening
and communication, openness, receptivity, trust, emotional bonds
(warmth, love, care, etc.) between participants, intuition, tolerance,
respect, inclusiveness, clarifying purpose and intent, meditative and
contemplative practice, and development of higher levels of
Collective consciousness is a very complex phenomenon. There are many
aspects and dimensions, which might be examined. For example, one might
focus upon the qualities of the felt, inner experience of collective
consciousness. Or one might focus upon the observable, exterior
manifestations and effects of collective consciousness, the behaviors of
group members that express concern for the productive functioning of the
collective. (I and Julie Glover have considered some of these dimensions
seed paper on this website,34
such as the distinction between the felt inner sense of communion with
others and the exterior processes and interactions which contribute to
building and sustaining community.)
Our model should reflect the complexity and wholeness of individual
and collective development. The number of interactive variables will
therefore make research challenging. On the other hand, well designed,
cross-cultural, longitudinal, hermeneutic and structural research35
would honor, rather than reduce, the complexity of human development,
would enable us to study the relationship between individual and
collective development, and would provide a profound understanding of
the nature of collective consciousness.
In the following sections, I will describe theory and research that
may be relevant, in order to build an adequate model of collective
consciousness and to examine collective consciousness
The Felt-Sense of Collective Consciousness:
The extended mind is a scientific hypothesis that
leads to testable predictions. It is already supported by a large body
of evidence, both from people’s spontaneous experiences and from
When asked in interviews to describe the features of collective
consciousness, a common response concerns the felt-sense of extrasensory
perception or communication, of being able to anticipate another’s words
or behavior, of reading another’s mind,37
of seeing through another’s eyes, of feeling another’s feelings, and of
a harmonic resonance of heart and mind.38
Consequently, people speak about a sense of deep connection. This may be
due to telepathy, the exchange of information between two or more minds
without using ordinary senses.
Wilber finds the evidence for psi to be “very compelling”, as do a
number of researchers.39
Sheldrake has noted that much psi research has been “scientific,
open-minded, and experimental,”40
with research protocols that have typically been more rigorous than
those used in mainstream research, even in the hard sciences and with
results that often exceed chance by huge margins.
Wilber calls this ability to feel another’s feelings or know
another’s thoughts in an immediate and direct way
He identifies three ways in which tele-prehension may occur:42
1. Psychic or psi phenomena. A
key example is telepathy, or prehension (feeling, perception or
awareness) at a distance.
2. A transcendent Self (Spirit).
Wilber believes “the same nondual and nonlocal Subject inhabits all
subjects, such that an instantaneous intersubjectivity from within
prior to any [communicative] exchange.”44
3. Harmonic empathy or resonance.
In exterior resonance or vibration, a note struck on one string
instrument, e.g., causes the same string on another nearby string
instrument to vibrate. Harmonic empathy is the “interior equivalent
between two sentient beings: a type of felt resonance or mutual
prehension – an immediate, nonreflexive, intersubjective presence or
resonance with another holon at a similar level of depth.”46
The second proposed source of tele-prehension brings us back to the
limits of traditional science, as discussed above, and to the importance
of meditative practice and direct awareness, in terms of developing a
true and full understanding of collective consciousness.47
Of course, traditional science can be used to study the first and third
phenomena, since they may be exterior manifestations of the second.
Ralph Waldo Emerson seems to have described the experience of
collective consciousness, even though he did not use that term. He
attributed his experience to the presence of the divine, similar to
Wilber’s second explanation of tele-prehension. Emerson described his
discovery of “an identical [common] nature appearing through all”,
is God. And so, in groups where debate is earnest, and
especially on high questions, the company becomes aware that the
thought rises to an equal level in all bosoms, that all have a
spiritual property in what was said, as well as the sayer. They all
become wiser than they were. It arches over them like a temple, this
unity of thought…. All are conscious of attaining to a higher
self-possession. It shines for all.48
Emerson referred to God as the Over-soul, “that common heart of which
all sincere conversation is the worship.”49
Similarly, Friedrich Holderlin said, “…We calmly smiled, sensed our own
God amidst intimate conversation, in one song of our souls.”50
The potential trap is that groups may become caught up in
extrasensory phenomena per se, or to become primarily focused
upon re-creating, over and over, a wonderful feeling of connection –
rather than developing and using the expanded capacities of collective
consciousness for the sake of serving the common good. If collective
consciousness indeed involves the direct and intuitive sensing of
tele-prehension, the implications for mutual understanding, empathy,
compassion, mutual support, effective decision-making, creativity,
conflict resolution and collaboration are profound. For these reasons,
the research on tele-prehension is important to consider. We may be able
to identify the key factors or variables that would enable groups to
derive the above benefits for the sake of their communities,
organizations and societies.
Sheldrake has suggested a number of simple experiments that ordinary
folks can conduct, to help scientifically explore and document
tele-prehension, which he calls “the seventh sense” (a term designed to
distinguish it from the “sixth sense”, a term biologists have already
applied to the electrical and magnetic senses of animals).51
He believes that these phenomena are explicable. Rather than suggest
research questions for this segment of the seed paper, I refer you to
I will outline some questions in the sections below, regarding subtle
energies, fields and psi phenomena.
The Role of Subtle Energies
Based upon contemporary research regarding brain functioning and
neurophysiology, Wilber considers matter (mass) and energy – or
matter-energy – to be two of the exterior, physical forms53
of consciousness (prehension). As life evolves, the states or forms of
matter-energy reflect each level of consciousness and become more
complex. Wilber views matter-energy as intra-physical: not beyond matter
(meta-physical), but interior to it, not above nature (super-natural),
but within it. According to this model, matter-energy exists at all
levels of evolution.54
What a number of researchers refer to as subtle energy (“prana”),
therefore, can be found at all levels. Wilber distinguishes three types
of energy: gross, subtle55
and causal, each corresponding to certain states and stages of
Wilber proposes four hypotheses, which he believes will clear up much
of the conceptual confusion and culturally conditioned thinking
regarding subtle energies, in both the wisdom traditions and
1. Increasing evolution brings increasing complexity of gross
2. Increasing complexity of form is correlated with increasing
3. Increasing complexity of gross form is correlated with
increasing subtlety of exterior energies (energy patterns or
4. Complexity of gross form is necessary for the expression or
manifestation [not the existence] of higher consciousness and subtler
Wilber believes that the “real test case of any theory of subtle
energies is whether it can adequately explicate the chakras.”58
I will discuss this issue in the “Practice, Development and Character”
Researchers have been attempting to understand the nature of the
subtle energies (such as electromagnetic fields or photon
harnessed by non-conventional healers. The explanatory mechanism for
this type of healing is still unclear.
Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and
There is a field.
I’ll meet you there.
When the soul
lies down in that grass,
The world is too full to talk
Ideas, language, even the phrase each other
- Jelaluddin Rumi
A number of researchers have argued that individuals and groups can
influence each other outside of modalities of communication that use the
five senses, through some form of field effect.60
This is not a wild or unfounded suggestion: magnetic, electrical and
gravitational fields are all “invisible, yet capable of bringing about
effects at a distance.”61
In biology, the concept of morphogenetic fields, underlying the form of
a growing organism, is widely accepted, yet scientists don’t “yet know
what these fields are or how they work.”62
Successful sports-team members refer to a “sixth sense”, empathy, and an
ability to “anticipate the moves of the other”63
; or to a “click of communality,” an almost audible shift whereby sports
participants “react as a…unit, rather than as an aggregate of
In my consulting experience, I have found that, if the members of a
group or team have established a sense of trust, a warm emotional
connection, and an inspiring, shared purpose, they can perform tasks
fluidly, efficiently and in a highly coordinated state, with minimal
verbal communication or visual contact.65
Under his hypothesis of formative causation, Rupert Sheldrake has
postulated that morphogenetic fields are part of a larger family of
fields called morphic fields.66
Morphogenetic fields are a new kind of field, unrecognized so far by
physics, and are “not just a way of talking about standard mechanistic
They evolve, have a history, contain an inherent memory, are created by
morphic resonance (a nonlocal influence of like upon like, a transfer of
information or an activity pattern, across space and time.) They are
regions of influence, located in and around the self-organizing systems
that they organize into “spatiotemporal patterns of vibratory or
They work probabilistically, imparting characteristic properties,
wholeness and order upon the “inherent indeterminism of their systems”
and make them “more than the sum of its parts.”69
Sheldrake suggests that attention creates perceptual fields,
which connect us to what we look at; that mental fields may help explain
tele-prehension and the experience we have of “extended mind”; and that
a social field “organizes and coordinates the behavior of individuals
within a social group, for example, the way individual birds fly within
Sheldrake has suggested that morphic resonance (“resonant
connections”) might enable us to perceive each other’s images, thoughts,
impressions, or feelings, even if thousands of miles apart. Such a
phenomenon “may be similar to, if not identical with…telepathy.”71
Sheldrake and his colleagues have conducted a number of experiments,
which so far seem to indicate that his hypothesis is valid.72
Sheldrake believes that attention and intention are the means by
which our minds reach out and connect with other members of social
In fact, the research that I describe in this paper generally examines
the role of attention and intention in creating or utilizing mental
fields to tele-prehend.
Sheldrake’s work is congruent with Wilber’s model and his hypothesis
3 (above), according to which the subtlety of fields increases as
material bodies (or morphic forms) become more complex and the degree of
consciousness grows. Wilber suggests the following schema:74
1. “Gross energies surround their associated material bodies in
Corresponding level of consciousness: sensorimotor or material.
2. The etheric energy field, according to the wisdom traditions,
surrounds the physical fields as a more expansive sphere. Vital
consciousness. “Dreaming” state of consciousness may begin.
3. The astral (powerful emotional) energy field, in addition to
enveloping the two prior fields, passes through the acupuncture
meridians of living organisms. Emotional-sexual (emotional-pranic)
consciousness. Subtle body-energy begins.
4. Psychic (thought) field 1 is caused by sustained mental
activity, according to the wisdom traditions. Mental level of
5. Psychic or thought field 2. Higher mental consciousness.
6. The causal field emerged after development of the complex
neocortex. Overmental (nearly formless) consciousness. Causal (very
subtle) body-energy. Formless state of consciousness.
7. Nondual. Supermental consciousness.
The more complex the form, the greater number of energy fields around
it. Wilber believes that these seven, major levels of matter-energy
approximately correlate with the qualities that the wisdom traditions
have associated with the seven chakras. His synthesis is extremely
valuable, in terms of simplifying what is often a bewildering array of
seemingly different terms used by researchers and the wisdom traditions.
To give a sense of how part of Wilber’s schema can be related to
existing scientific knowledge, the family of gross-energy, for example,
contains genus gravitational, electromagnetic, strong nuclear and weak
nuclear energy fields. The genus electromagnetic contains species cosmic
rays, gamma rays, x-rays, visible light, infrared, microwaves, etc. The
taxonomy of his schema is extremely helpful, in terms of framing
research on subtle energies and the fields of collective
The local aspects of these energy fields, according to Wilber, are
the areas of highest density or of greatest probability of being
detected. Many can be detected physically with certain instruments76
and can be perceived by highly respected psychics and non-conventional
Even the most basic types of fields, such as electromagnetic fields,
seem to be able to influence objects at a distance, with no observable
material traveling between them.
Is There A Field Created by “Group Mind”?
I mentioned earlier that theorists and researchers have sometimes
speculated that collective consciousness reflects the existence of
“group mind”. Just as we colloquially say, “We are of one mind,” is
there a unified mind associated with any coherent collective? As an
individual has a mind, does a group have one, too? At this point in
time, we don’t know.
From a theoretical perspective, Wilber does not believe that the
members of a collective are “like” or “are” an individual or an organism
– viewpoints that are called the “organic” model, in the former
instance, or the “organismic” model, in the latter case.78
An individual has a center of prehension, which controls and coordinates
But in a collective, members are not parts, or subholons, completely
subservient to the control and direction of the group or a “Super-I.”
Rather, they are co-creative partners, who choose to come together as an
association or network because they feel that their interiors
(individual values, intentionality, etc.) resonate mutually and
empathetically. They then together fashion and agree upon a set of
goals, norms, etc., through which they can act in
Wilber believes that many proponents of system theory, eco-philosophy,
the Web of Life,81
and Gaia as a superorganism, adopt either an organic or organismic
model, which reduces the interior of the collective to an exterior
system or form and eliminates the freedom and rights of the members. In
this sense, Wilber argues that a group mind does not exist.
However, Wilber does believe that the internal and defining aspects
of a collective holon or network – the sum total of its interior
intersections (shared, cultural-pattern feeling-meanings) and exterior
intersections (shared social-behavioral rules) -- are carried in the sum
total of its members, including in a morphic field, in (not as) the
group’s collective prehensions, and in the members’ genetic inheritance.
He calls this “solidarity”:82
the cultural backgrounds, the interior culture, and the intersubjective
dimensions of the Kosmic habits of the collective holon; and the
interior feel correlated with the collective, exterior morphic energy
fields, ecosystems and social systems.83
If we therefore do not see group mind as a conscious entity that
controls or dictates the thinking and behavior of the members of a
self-aware collective (in contrast to the control and extreme influence
exerted by the leader of a cult or a mob), perhaps we can postulate the
creation of a group field that represents the conscious and reflective
interaction, consensus and shared intentions of the members of a
collective – the influence and power of which may wax or wane, based
upon a number of dynamic factors. This perspective fits my experience of
collective wisdom. Although at times group members seem to
simultaneously access the consciousness of Spirit within them (Wilber’s
second mechanism of tele-prehension, above), at other times they seem to
access – through their explicit and implicit interactions – the wisdom
that arises from considering and embracing the diversity and wholeness
of their individual perspectives. The interplay of their hearts and
minds perhaps creates a group field. Some of the rare research on group
effects that I will cite below suggests that groups may create fields
that are more powerful and influential than individual fields.
Nonlocal Field Effects
According to the Vedanta-Vajrayana model presented briefly above,
which Wilber has incorporated with refinements into his model, subtle
matter-energy (bodymind) can exist without gross matter-energy
(bodymind), and the causal bodymind can exist without either.84
When you dream during sleep, or during some nonordinary waking states –
such as out-of-the-body experiences (or ‘astral travel’) -- you “reside
primarily as a subtle bodymind”, according to Wilber. When you are in
“dreamless-formless sleep”, or in formless meditative states, or have a
near-death experience, you reside as a causal bodymind.85
If true, this may explain how certain nonlocal field effects can
occur, since certain energy fields would no longer be tied to a
particular form. For example, in the psi research that I report in this
paper, distance did not diminish the accuracy of results.86
Although more research is needed, it appears so far that electromagnetic
field effects, including those associated with the heart, may operate
within relatively circumscribed regions. Fields associated with
consciousness, especially mental activity, do not appear to be bounded
by space or time.
Wilber believes that the above assertions are “open to a fair amount
of empirical and phenomenological testing” of their validity. The subtle
energies, in Wilber’s model, are “postulated as real, concrete,
detectable, often measurable.”87
Research Regarding Nonlocal
I will now review the research regarding field effects.
Insect and Animal Coordination and
Nonsensory Communication. Sheldrake considers
animal societies to be social morphic units, which “provides a way of
understanding the coordination of the behavior of individual organisms
within the social unit: the colony, school, flock, herd, pack, group, or
For example, he and other researchers have concluded that the behavior
of the members of termite colonies are coordinated by social fields,
which contain the blueprints for the construction of the colony, and
pass through physical barriers.90
Experiments have indicated that neither sense-mediated communication,
nor an electrical field, can likely explain how termites, after the nest
they are building is cut in half and separated by a steel plate, can
still go on to create structures and tunnels that are perfectly
Consequently, Sheldrake has concluded that in termite colonies:
the individual insects are coordinated by social fields, which
contain the blueprints for the construction of the colony…. To make
models without taking such fields into account is rather like trying
to explain the behavior of iron filings around a magnet [while]
ignoring the field, as if the pattern somehow "emerged" from programs
within the individual iron particles.92
The highly respected biologist, Edwin Wilson, has similarly argued
that "The total simulation of construction of complex nests from a
knowledge of the summed behaviors of the individual [social] insects has
not been accomplished and stands as a challenge to both biologists and
In the case of termite nests, the workers first make columns, then
bend them toward each other at some point and join them at a midpoint
between the two columns. Termites are blind, so they cannot make this
happen through visual alignment. Researchers have concluded that the
coordination does not happen through movement back and forth between the
columns, to get an alignment through measurement, nor does it seem that
sound plays a part.94
And, as Sheldrake points out,
Smell can hardly account for the overall plan of the nest or the
relationship of the individual insects to it. They seem to "know" what
kind of structure is required; they seem to be responding to a kind of
invisible plan. As Wilson phrased the question, "Who has the blueprint
of the nest?" I suggest that this plan is embodied in the organizing
field of the colony. This field is not inside the individual insects;
rather, they are inside the collective field. Just as a magnetic field
can pass through material structures, so [must] the colony field. This
ability...would enable the field to organize separated groups of
termites even in the absence of normal sensory communication between
Gunther Becker suggested that a "biofield," an alternating low-energy
electric field produced by the termites themselves, could account for
the coordination. The effect fell off as the distance between the groups
But Sheldrake, in accordance with Wilber’s model, concluded that "such
fields are unlikely to be able to provide the blueprint for the termite
nest. How could a specific pattern be established in the electromagnetic
field to begin with?"97
Sheldrake suggests that a set of experiments conducted by Eugene Marais
may indicate that "another, more mysterious kind of field seems likely
to be involved as well."98
Marais separated termite mounds into two halves and inserted a steel
plate, which was a few feet wider and higher than the termitary, into
the breach of each mound, thereby preventing all sensory and electrical
means of communication. Despite this, the termites still built a similar
arch on either side of the plate, which were aligned.99
The repair activity seemed to be coordinated by some overall
organizing structure, which Marais attributed to the group soul, and I
prefer to think of as a morphic field…. Unlike the field investigated
by Becker, it was not blocked by a metal plate, and was therefore
unlikely to be electrical in nature.100
However, it "would be difficult to prove that no sounds could have
gone...around the barrier."101
So Sheldrake has proposed a research protocol that would control for
this and other variables. Unfortunately, no one has attempted to
replicate Marais' experiment.
Sheldrake and others have demonstrated that psi capacities are widely
distributed in the animal kingdom.102
In a series of experiments, he showed how certain pets sensed when their
owners decided to return home from work or an excursion, even when they
varied the time from day to day.103
Sheldrake argues that humans have partly lost or neglected the psi
capacities that animals demonstrate, and that, as Wilber claims, they
are not paranormal or supernatural abilities.104
Biophoton Emissions. Fritz-Albert Popp has detected “biophoton
emissions” from living organisms. Photons are electromagnetic light
waves with very high intensity.105
Popp discovered in his experiments that bacteria, sunflowers, fleas and
fish “sucked up” the light emitted by other living organisms in their
environment. He concluded that this exchange of photons, or wave
resonance, was a form of communication, even a means for living
organisms to influence the health of each other. This may especially be
the case when healers use their hands in touch or near-the-body
From his study of illnesses, Popp hypothesized that illness results from
incoherence, in the form of either too little or too much light.
“Perfect coherence is an optimum state just between chaos and order.”
Popp also believed that biophoton exchange might explain “how schools of
fish or flocks of birds create perfect and instantaneous
Stuart Hameroff also found that living tissue emits photons.108
In addition, he discovered that microtubules inside cells109
conduct photons. In collaboration with other researchers,110
he realized that microtubules help create coherence of waves
(“superradiance”) in the body. This allows photons to “communicate with
other photons throughout the body, causing collective cooperation of
subatomic particles in microtubules throughout the brain.”111
Superradiance may account for the tendency of the brain toward EEG
synchronization, and may provide another basis for field effects between
Heart To Brain. Emerson once
gave metaphoric expression to something researchers are now beginning to
The heart in thee is the heart of all; not a valve, not a wall,
not an intersection is there anywhere in nature, but one blood rolls
uninterruptedly an endless circulation through all [humanity], as the
water of the globe is all one sea, and, truly seen, its tide is one.
It is one light, which beams out of a thousand stars. It is one soul,
which animates all people.113
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
A relatively new arena of research is called energy cardiology114
or cardioelectromagnetic communication.115
The heart’s electrical field is measured with an electrocardiogram
(ECG). The magnetic component of the heart’s field is “not impeded by
tissues and can be measured several feet away from the body.”116
Under certain conditions, the heart’s electromagnetic waves synchronize
with the brain waves (measured by the electroencephalogram or EEG) of
oneself or other human and non-human animals.117
For example, heart-focused attention is correlated with greater
synchronization of heart and brain.118
Sustained positive emotions, such as appreciation, love, or compassion,
are associated with highly ordered or coherent patterns in the heart
rhythms…and a shift in autonomic balance toward increased
This “physiological coherence” is the state of “more ordered and
harmonious interactions among the body’s systems.”120
Cross-coherence occurs when “two or more of the body’s oscillatory
systems, such as respiration and heart rhythms, become entrained and
oscillate at the same frequency.”121
When individuals were taught how to use a positive-emotion refocusing
technique to generate appreciation, cross-coherence significantly
increased. It was expressed as a higher ratio of alpha rhythms in the
brain (measured by the EEG) that was synchronized with the heartbeat
(measured by the ECG).122
Increased physiological coherence is correlated with a number of health
and mental health benefits.123
In the converse, experimental evidence suggests that certain prolonged
negative psychological states can facilitate the progression of cancer
and increase risk for physical illness and early death.124
As I report elsewhere in this paper, a number of studies have found
that subtle energies used by healers are correlated with increased wound
increased hemoglobin levels,127
conformational changes of DNA and water structure,128
and changes in psychological states.129
Rollin McCraty has argued that the effect of electromagnetic or
“energetic” communication may ultimately be found to be a mechanism in
healing of this type. Even though these benefits have to do with
individual effects, the research I present below suggests that perhaps
people can influence each other’s physiological coherence and thereby
help others improve their physical and mental health.
When waves are synchronized and overlapping, their combined amplitude
is greater than the individual amplitudes. The information that they
carry gets stronger and complete information about the other wave is
exchanged. Waves have an almost unlimited capacity for storing
This reality may help explain not only the experience of deep knowing in
tele-prehension, but also the healing effects generated by healers who
enter rapport with their clients when conducting non-conventional
Several researchers have studied entrainment, or physiological
synchronization, between people during moments of empathy. In one
experiment at HeartMath, two participants faced each other at a distance
of five feet and practiced an emotion-restructuring exercise that has
been shown to produce sustained states of internal physiological
The alpha brain waves of one subject (measured via an EEG)
became precisely synchronized with the R-waves (peak of the waves
reflected in an ECG) carried by the magnetic field from the heart of the
other subject. “These data show that it is possible for the magnetic
signals radiated by the heart of one individual to influence the brain
rhythms of another at conversational distances…. The degree of coherence
in the receiver’s heart rhythms appears to determine whether his/her
brain waves synchronize to the other person’s heart.”132
Similar results have been obtained by other researchers133
and in other experiments conducted by HeartMath.134
For example, Linda Russek and Gary Schwartz found that people who more
regularly experience positive emotions such as love and care are better
receivers of others’ magnetic-field signals.135
Based on the results of these and other experiments, the researchers
at HeartMath concluded:
The nervous system acts as an antenna, which is tuned to and
responds to the magnetic fields produced by the hearts of other
individuals. This cardioelectromagnetic communication is an innate
ability that heightens awareness and mediates important aspects of
true empathy and sensitivity to others. It can be enhanced, resulting
in a much deeper level of non-verbal communication, understanding, and
connection between people…. [It] has the potential to promote the
healing process. From an electrophysiological perspective, it appears
that sensitivity to information contained in the fields generated by
others is related to the ability to be emotionally and physiologically
coherent. During coherence, internal systems are more stable, function
more efficiently, and radiate electromagnetic fields containing a more
Besides this heart-to-brain communication, the hearts of different
individuals have been found to influence each other (heart-to-heart
Heart To Heart. Although the number of subjects
is still too small to reliably generalize, researchers at HeartMath have
found that the heart rates of people who have a close living or working
relationship, and who generate feelings of appreciation for each other
while sitting four feet apart (and being blind to the data), can become
entrained. This entrainment apparently also occurs during sleep, between
couples that have been in long-term, stable and loving relationships.
Their heart rhythms can converge and can simultaneously change in the
Another study found that the heart rates of married couples, who were
skilled at empathizing, became synchronized and tracked each other
during empathetic interactions.138
Despite some methodological problems, several studies have suggested
that entrainment may also occur during empathetic interactions between
therapists and clients.139
These results regarding cardioelectromagnetic communication indicate
the importance of relationship-centered approaches to not only clinical
and professional care, but also to team and organizational development.
Based upon training thousands of people to maintain coherence during
conversation, HeartMath researchers have concluded:
It is a common experience that they become more attuned to other
people and are able to detect and understand the deeper meaning behind
spoken words…, even when the other person may not be clear…. Intuitive
listening helps people to feel fully heard and promotes greater
rapport and empathy between people.140
The proposed interpersonal communication mechanisms may in part
explain the effects of service and care that emphasize the relational
aspects of human interaction in professional settings. For example, see
Parker Palmer’s work regarding “teacher formation” and research related
to relationship-centered care (RCC), including the Fetzer’s Institute’s
Correlated or Shared Consciousness: Brain-To-Brain Communication. Despite the typical methodological issues that need to
be worked out in any new area of research, a number of experiments142
has indicated that tele-prehension of thoughts, images, emotions,
intuitions and physical sensations between persons is facilitated when
people are bound by close emotional ties and empathy (e.g., “bonded
couples” or monozygotic twins), are in an altered state of
consciousness, or meditate together,143
although this effect occurs in other situations, too.144
The respective EEG brain wave patterns of pairs become highly
synchronized or coherent. EEG alpha rhythms or visually evoked
potentials (measured by a functional MRI machine) created in one person
can produce the same effects in another, even when members of a pair are
separated in sound-attenuated or electromagnetically shielded
In addition, in several experiments, individual interhemispheric
synchronization occurred (a phenomena that happens during meditation)
when paired participants tried to sense each other’s presence while in
separate rooms. Moreover, the individual with the greatest
synchronization tended to influence the other member of the pair.146
Ervin Laszlo has attributed this phenomenon to field effects.147
Karl Pribram has theorized that our brain perceives objects not
primarily through language or images, but by resonating or getting in
synch with them. “To know the world is literally to be on its
A common statement from those who experience collective
consciousness is that they feel as if they can see through each other’s
eyes. Research has indicated that this may, in fact, be true, as one
mode of tele-prehension. Mystics, intuitives and psychic healers have
all spoken of another kind of sight.
There is a community of the spirit.
Join it, and feel
Close both eyes
To see with the other eye.
- Jelaluddin Rumi
A number of experiments have tested remote viewing and found
statistically significant results, well beyond chance levels.149
In a well-designed, double-blind experiment, an independent researcher
prepares target sites. A target is then selected randomly. One person,
the recipient, proceeds to the designated site. Through focused
attention, a second participant, the viewer, describes the details of
the site that the beacon is viewing. Independent judges determine
whether the target was correctly described and/or identified.
For example, Jahn and Dunne conducted 336 rigorous trials, with 48
ordinary recipients and remote viewing distances ranging from five to
6,000 miles. Almost 2/3rds of the results exceeded chance levels, with
odds against chance of one billion to one. As in other tele-prehension
experiments, those recipient-viewer pairs who had an emotional or
physiological bond obtained the best results.150
A government panel, including two Nobel laureates and other
distinguished researchers chosen for their skeptic views, reviewed 23
years of experimental data. All agreed the research was impeccable.151
A second review by a team that included Dr. Ray Hyman, a noted skeptic,
concluded that the results far exceeded chance.152
Hal Putoff and Russell Targ concluded that the most important success
factor appeared to be a “relaxed, even playful, atmosphere, which
avoided causing anxiety.”153
If viewers interpreted or analyzed the scene, they would invariably
guess wrong. Expectation or imagining seemed to have a similar
The unconscious aspect of the mind and the right hemisphere of the brain
seemed to be in use155
– indicating receptivity, rather than conscious control. Meta-analyses
indicate that results are more significant when the viewers are in
altered states of consciousness.156
These variables match many of the identified success factors in other
forms of tele-prehension, and are similar to factors reported by
meditators and those in creative states.
Through experiments involving screened rooms, Putoff, Dunne and Jahn
concluded that electromagnetic waves could not explain the remote
This supports the idea that another type of field, perhaps created by
focused mental attention, may be at work.
Another form of mental focus, intention, may create an even more
powerful field. I will describe experiments regarding the effects of
intention upon other living systems in the following sections.
Nonlocal, Intentional Influence. A large number of studies have examined the
ability of people to influence other living beings in remote settings.
In a series of experiments, for example, influencers changed the
direction of knife fish, got gerbils to run faster on activity wheels,
and slowed the rate of hemolysis (bursting of cell walls) in red blood
In 16 remote staring trials, starees showed significantly greater
electrodermal activity (EDA) while being stared at (59%, versus 50%
chance), indicating that they had unconsciously felt the attention of
These results have been replicated a number of times.160
A meta-analysis reported a significant effect size in experiments where
the receiver’s skin conductance was targeted.161
Remote intention has been shown to have a significant calming effect on
a group of highly nervous people,162
and to help participants focus their attention, especially those whose
attention tended to wander.163
In some cases during these studies, telepathy occurred.164
A number of these findings have been replicated, including intention’s
effect upon healing.165
A meta-analysis has shown that intention can affect a wide range of
living organisms, including their healing. Moreover, studies have
demonstrated that a group can significantly influence the eye or gross
motor movements, breathing and brain rhythms of a different group.
Although the effects were small in scale, ordinary people, who were
trying remote influence for the first time, consistently produced them.
The EDA studies succeeded 47% of the time166
and the studies in general had the intended effect 37% of the time, in
contrast to an expected 5% chance success rate.167
Distance seemed irrelevant, with effects extending even into outer
space, during a space mission.168
The greatest influence occurred when the subjects greatly needed the
intended effect, which indicates that healing interactions may be
particularly effective. Finally, as with other forms of tele-prehension,
strength of effect correlated with how much the influencer related to
the subject, increasing as the subjects changed from animals, to human
cells, to other people. This finding is consistent with Wilber’s
assertion that humans share a greater number of fields (and subtler
fields) with each other, than they share with animals, for example,
thereby increasing the means and strength of influence.
(whole field) experiments eliminate sensory input by placing
participants in soundproof rooms, covering their eyes, etc. These
experiments, including studies of telepathy, have produced the strongest
results, with 82% significantly better than chance.169
A meta-analysis of all ganzfeld experiments showed odds against chance
of ten billion to one.170
After reviewing a number of studies involving telepathy and
psychokinesis (influencing objects at a distance), Braud identified the
factors, which make remote influence more likely:
1. Relaxation and alert receptivity via meditation, biofeedback,
etc. Gentle wishing, rather than intense willing or striving was most
2. Reduced activity or sensory input.
3. Dreaming or internal states or feelings that create
4. Right-brain functioning.
5. Belief in success.
6. Viewing life as interconnected and believing that extrasensory
communication is possible.172
Meditation involves many of these factors. During the highest state
of meditation, siddhis (psychic events) may occur: seeing everywhere at
once, unity with the object of focus, and psychokinesis.173
The correlation with meditative states may help explain the effects of
meditation reported in a later section of this paper.
Distant Healing Intention. More than 80% of Americans believe that their
“thoughts can cause healing for another person at a distance,”174
as do 75% of family practitioners.175
Two-thirds of more than 150 controlled studies of distant healing
intention (DHI) over the past 40 years have indicated that distance
healing can result in statistically significant healing effects.176
Of the more than 50 of these experiments, that were rated to be of
excellent methodological quality, 74% yielded statistically significant
Meta-analyses of these studies “provide strong evidence that DHI is
related to predictable changes in a distant person’s physiological
The DHI healer uses intention as the essential healing modality,
rather than conventional chemical, mechanical or energetic
interventions, which are avoided by means of spatial, temporal, and/or
sensory shielding. Specific forms of treatment typically include
intercessory prayer, non-directed prayer, energy healing, shamanic
healing, non-contact therapeutic touch and spiritual healing. Most
healers use a process of relaxation, enhanced concentration and
Comprehensive, excellent surveys of the literature, including possible
field effects, evaluations of the efficacy of distance healing, and
limitations have been conducted by Larry Dossey, Daniel Benor, Marilyn
Schlitz, William Braud, Elizabeth Targ, Dean Radin and others.180
Despite impressive results with some fairly well designed studies,
which used clearly defined, randomized, double-blind protocols,181
Elizabeth Targ found that many of the studies, published through 1994,
had failed to control for one or more variables other than subtle-energy
and/or distance healing, or the treatment and control groups had not
been appropriately matched. So she and Fred Sicher designed a
double-blind experiment, using healers who utilized all types of healing
techniques, who believed that their healing efforts were going to work,
and who had had years of successful experience in distance healing. Over
10 weeks, for six days per week and an hour per day, each healer held an
intention for the well being of a patient with end-stage AIDS. Each
healer treated a new client each week, so that every healer treated
every client, in turn. This ensured that overall healing, rather than a
particular technique, was studied. During the six-month trial, 40% of
the control group died. But the 10 patients who received distance
healing survived and became healthier. A team of scientists concluded
that the treatment had worked.
But the control group was 10 years older, on average, compared to the
treatment group, which might have accounted for the deaths. So Targ and
Sicher repeated the study with 40 patients, controlling for all factors,
including age and positive thinking (in each group, 50% guessed after
three months that they were being prayed for; belief did not correlate
with results). The treatment group, over six months, was healthier in
every way: fewer hospitalizations (three vs. 12), hospital days, and new
AIDS-defining illnesses (two vs. 12); significantly lower disease
severity and doctor visits; significantly improved mood; and, overall,
significantly better medical outcomes on six of 11 measures. Fifty
statistical tests determined that no other variables accounted for the
These results were confirmed by a 12-month study of traditional forms
of intercessory prayer (mostly Christian or non-denominational) for
cardiac patients. Teams of intercessors, who were not gifted healers,
but simply believed that God responds to prayer, prayed for one patient
over 28 days, thinking the first name of the patient. Intercessors did
not receive feedback regarding results. Neither the medical staff, nor
the patients, was aware of the study. Symptoms for the prayer group
decreased by 10% more than the control group; and they had fewer adverse
medical events, shorter hospital stays, and a number of other superior
indicators. As in the Targ/Sicher study, not the prayer method, but,
rather, holding a healing intention, was what mattered.183
In all the well designed studies Targ had reviewed, it was this last
factor that seemed common: effective distance healers used intention,
combined with a request and surrender to a healing force greater than
themselves (“the spirit world, a religious figure, the collective
consciousness, light, or love”184).
Ultimately, healing influence may be drawing upon the life force and
consciousness of Spirit itself, with us acting as the receptive and open
vehicles for the physical manifestation of wholeness.185
Radin conducted a study of two groups that used DHI. The effect size
for changes in electrodermal activity of the target was almost twice as
large as previous meta-analytic estimates involving individual
attention. “This suggests that groups may enhance DHI effects.”186
Other studies of distance healing, using group meditative practice
and focusing upon social effects, are reported below.
Social and Cultural Healing. Only two of the 150 studies covered by the
surveys mentioned above involved distance healing by groups.187
It is not possible to conclude from such a small number of studies
whether individual of group healing efforts are more successful.188
But the research I describe below may indicate that Jung may have sensed
the power of collective healing, a power which indigenous and Eastern
traditions have not forgotten:
Our personal psychology is just a thin skin, a
ripple on the ocean of collective psychology. The powerful factor, the
factor which changes our whole life, which changes the surface of our
known world, which makes history, is collective psychology, which
moves according to laws entirely different from those of our
- Carl Jung189
Groups of Transcendental Meditation (TM) practitioners
have had significant impact upon the well being and physical and mental
health of surrounding geographic communities. Mainstream scientists have
tended to dismiss the TM research out of hand, primarily because of
questions about the TM organization’s alleged “promotion of the personal
of its founder, the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, or because of skepticism that
believers or practitioners could conduct unbiased research, or because
TM researchers occasionally claim that TM is more effective than other
Yet, 50 very rigorous, socially focused, scientific studies, which have
“controlled for alternative explanations,”192
have been conducted over more than 30 years. Many of the experiments
have been published in well respected, peer-reviewed scientific
journals. The results have been impressive, in terms of improved quality
of life and health and decreased crime rate, accidents, war, etc. I cite
some of these studies below.
The Maharishi originally hypothesized that if 1% of the
in a geographic area practiced TM, the coherent calm and stress
reduction created by the group’s meditation would, via what he called
the “Unified Field”, lower conflict and other forms of social disruption
in that area. (If a group practiced the more advanced TM-Sidhi program,
he hypothesized that only the square root of 1% of the population would
be needed.) According to his hypothesis, individual stress increases
collective stress on all levels of collective consciousness (family,
community, city, state, national and world), and vice versa.194
But a meditating group’s coherence – defined as “working together for
mutual support, achievement and fulfillment”195
– is more powerful than the incoherence of the larger system within
which it is located. It can therefore bring order to the whole. The
incoherent members of the larger system tend to move “randomly”, working
against each other and therefore canceling each other’s actions and
efforts. This effect has been compared to the laser, where a “relatively
few in-phase, coherent photons stimulate the whole system to become
or to the heart, where the pacemaker cells – about 1% of the total cells
– cause all the heart’s cells to beat rhythmically.
A 1993 study found that, when 4,000 people meditated together,
violent crime in Washington, D.C., declined 23% over the course of the
experiment, in contrast to its rising in the months before and after.
The results were shown not to be due to other variables, such as
weather, the police, or anti-crime campaigns. The predicted effect had
been posited with and independent review board, which had participated
in the study design and monitored its conduct.197
A similar effect was shown in a study of 24 U.S. cities, in which 1% of
the urban population regularly practiced TM. A follow-up study
demonstrated that the 24 cities saw drops of 22% in crime and 89% in the
crime trend, compared to increases of 2% and 53%, respectively, in the
During a two-month period in 1983 in Israel, on days when a TM-Sidhi
group equaling the square root of 1% of the surrounding population
meditated, independently published data showed that war-related deaths
in Lebanon dropped 76%, and conflict, traffic fatalities, fires and
crime decreased. In Israel, the national mood increased, as measured by
a blinded content analysis of the emotional tone of the lead, front-page
picture story in the Jerusalem Post, and the stock market increased.
Other potential causal variables were controlled for.199
Predictions regarding war-reduction in Lebanon
and increased quality of life in Israel had been posited with two
independent project review board of scientists before the experiments
began. The study was subsequently repeated seven times, with
statistically significant effects.200
Research in five conflict-ridden locations around the globe,201
in the U.S.,202
and worldwide (via TM-Sidhi assemblies of 7,000 practitioners, equal to
the square root of 1% of the world’s population in the mid-1980s)
produced similar effects.203
According to David Orme-Johnson, one of the regular researchers of
TM, the experience of “transcendental consciousness” has been shown to
result in increased individual coherence, “as indicated by improved
health, creativity, intelligence and social behavior,”204
in more than 600 studies conducted by 200 universities in 30 countries.
Several studies regarding TM showed that interhemispheric coordination
and the number of areas in the cortex perceiving information
These results are similar to those reported in the section on
cardioelectromagnetic communication (above) and in the general
literature on the physical and mental health benefits of meditation and
The sociological studies cited in this section measure social health
in a broad sense; and the research on individual health benefits may be
extrapolated to the social arena. Other studies have examined the effect
of group TM practice on aggregate, more typical measures of individual
physical and mental health. For example, eight studies have shown that
group TM meditation is significantly associated with improved physical
and mental health among others outside the TM group.207
After controlling for a number of factors, meta-analyses of TM studies
have found it to be “more effective than the clinically derived
approaches that are modeled after it” in reducing anxiety,208
improving psychological health,209
and reducing tobacco, alcohol and drug use.210
More than 500 studies have reported stress-reducing effects of TM
practice, thereby presumably benefiting physical and mental health.211
Several studies support the hypothesis that TM practice can reverse
long-lasting effects of stress on neuroendocrine regulation.212
A recent study may provide “empirical support for a postulated
psycho-neuroendocrine mechanism that could mediate the observed
reductions in behavioral indicators of social stress”213
reported in the studies cited above.
Many of the TM studies purport to show that group practice “has a
more beneficial effect than individual practice.”214
Moreover, larger groups may have more significant effects than smaller
groups. For example, one experiment examined the degree of serotonin
turnover – a neuroendocrine benefit linked to reduced stress – and
correlated it different-sized TM practice groups. The results strongly
suggested that increasing group size “increases serotonin turnover, not
only in group members, but also in individuals completely outside the
The Effect of Psychosocial Support and
Community Upon Physical and Mental Health. A
good deal of research indicates that relationships and involvement in
strong community or social networks, including psychosocial support
are important predictors of physical and mental health, of recovery from
disease, and of length of life.217
For example, in one study a small town of immigrants had a strong sense
of community, which spanned class and economic lines. In spite of many
high-risk health factors, the townspeople had a heart-attack rate less
than 50% of nearby towns.218
But a generation later, when the sense of community had dissolved, the
heart-attack rate matched the rate of the neighboring towns. Studies of
cardiac patients have demonstrated that “isolation – from oneself, one’s
community, and one’s spirituality – rather than physical conditions, is
one of the greatest contributors to disease.219
Research has suggested that social connections and support may slow the
progression of cancer and reduce mortality risk from it.220
People who live the longest are often not only those who believe in a
higher spiritual being, but also those who have the strongest sense of
belonging to a community.221
Although one might argue that the benefits of community and support
networks arise through the observable interactions between members, the
research presented in this paper suggests that we influence each other
in additional and perhaps more powerful ways. Developing collective
consciousness is a way to work more consciously and skillfully with the
healing and creative powers of community.
Indigenous traditions, communally oriented cultures, and a number of
Eastern traditions still recognize the primary role of community in
individual health, and see a rupture in one’s connection with the
community as a key factor in physical, emotional and mental
In mainstream U.S. culture, we have unfortunately shredded a good deal
of our sense of community, including that which once existed in the
workplace. Given the research presented in this paper, it is imperative
that this destruction be reversed.223
If organizations and communities hope to nourish the health, well being
and productive contributions of their members, they need to build a
sense of care, mutual support and community.
Collective Intention and Attention,
Coherence and Global Consciousness. Just
as remote attention and intention influence the harmonic order and
coherence of living systems, similar effects have been found upon
randomness generated by machines. Indeed, our influence upon inanimate
reality may be as profound as our influence upon living systems, as one
All things in the world have been made in consideration of
everything else. Everything in the heavens, on the earth, and under
the earth, is penetrated with connectedness, with
Hildegard of Bingen, Scivias224
A random number generator (RNG) or random event generator (REG)
electronically issues the numbers “one” or “zero” in random sequences.
We can test empirically whether individuals can influence the output of
these computers, causing more “ones” than “zeroes” to occur, to a degree
that represents a statistically significantly deviation from chance (a
50% probability of one of the two events occurring) or randomness. You
might ask, “What does that have to do with collective consciousness?”
First, it can show the ability of humans to create order or coherence in
reality, a phenomenon that underlies health, learning, creativity,
meaning and culture. Second, it may demonstrate that focused collective
attention and intention bring these benefits to large segments of our
Over many years, Helmut Schmidt tested gifted psychics, while Robert
Jahn and Brenda Dunne, of the Princeton University Engineering Anomalies
Research (PEAR) lab, tested ordinary people. Both sets of participants
achieved RNG output that represented statistically significant deviation
from chance. Over a 12-year period, in 2.5 million trials, 52% of the
trials and almost 67% of the PEAR’s 91 participants influenced the REGs
in the intended direction,225
compared to 54% of Schmidt’s trials.226
More than 25% of the PEAR experiments involved distance influence, up to
thousands of miles.227
Because of the nonlocal nature of these effects, Roger Nelson began
calling the experiments “field consciousness” studies.
Roger Nelson and Dean Radin conducted a meta-analysis in 1987 of more
than 800 REG experiments conducted by 68 researchers. The intended
had been achieved 51% of the time. Similar results were found in a
subsequent meta-analysis covering experiments over 41 years, between
1959 and 2000.229
The odds of this outcome over such a large number of trials (where
results would be expected to return to chance levels) are a trillion to
The PEAR lab also conducted studies with pairs of people, who knew
each other previously. Together they tried to influence a REG. In 42
experimental series with 15 pairs and 256,500 trails, many produced
results that exceeded the effect of either person alone.231
“Bonded pairs” – couples who were in a relationship – created a
coherence effect almost six times as strong as individuals.232
Jahn and Dunne suggested that emotional closeness might create resonance
between individuals, and result in stronger influence, just as two waves
that are in phase or synch amplify a signal.233
When REGs were taken to a variety of group events,234
the REG data seemed to become ordered when activities were more intense
or captivating; when they evoked concentration, or were emotionally
meaningful to participants -- in other words, when many or all of the
group’s members became simultaneously more attentive and engaged in an
event, when their collective consciousness became more coherent or
focused, or when they were engaged by similar, intense feelings or
Although participants were unaware of moments when the REG’s output had
become ordered, in one study they described a corresponding,
high-interest event segment as a “special, shared moment.” One
participant said that the “change in the group’s energy had been almost
The effects of group attention were three times greater than the
earlier individual-intention PEAR studies.237
Just like pairs and couples, groups seemed to produce larger results.
Nelson discovered that, when a group was meditating together, the
effects were six times as great.238
In the mid-90s, Dean Radin began studying high-interest points during
mass-viewer events, and found similar, significant influences upon REG
output. For example, during the March 1995 Academy Awards, with an
estimated viewership of one billion, he operated two REGs, with one in a
nearby room and one 12 miles away. He and an assistant noted what they
considered high interest and low interest segments during the
ceremonies. A subsequent comparison of these events to the REG data
showed that the highest interest periods correlated significantly with
ordered REG output, and that the odds against this happening were 1000
to 1. In the four hours after the event, both REGs very soon returned to
and maintained randomness.239
Radin replicated these results with other events, such as the 1995 O.J.
Simpson trial verdict, the 1996 Summer Olympics Opening Ceremonies, and
in smaller groups, such as a personal growth workshop.240
By 1997 these results had also been replicated by researchers in 12
studies. Highly significant results were obtained, with odds against
chance of 10,000 to one.241
Although Dick Bierman has correctly noted that, “It is unclear if the
driving factor behind these apparent anomalous correlations is a shared
emotion, a shared attention, or a specific state
of consciousness that may transcend ordinary time and space
the effect is unmistakable. It will take more experimentation, together
with measurement and control of other variables, in order to know how to
interpret the underlying causal factors.
In 1998, Nelson began calling the machines EGGs, or ElectroGaiaGrams,
and decided to enlist 40 other scientists in setting up a global network
of devices. His goal was to test for something like the “noosphere”,
Teilhard de Chardin’s term for a field of intelligence that he believed
surrounded the earth.243
Through Nelson’s Global
Consciousness Project (http://noosphere.princeton.edu), researchers
have been studying the correlated effect that world events have upon the
random numbers generated by the EGGs. According to the Project’s
hypothesis, a positive deviation from randomness is predicted.244
Researchers so far have found that some events have been correlated
with significant results (for example, Princess Diana’s death, New
Year’s celebrations, and 9/11, one of the most striking results245).
Nelson believes these events captivated public attention. During all the
public ceremonies for Diana, the degree of coherence was 100 to one
Based upon various independent data analyses of results observed on 9/11
from the EGGs network, performed by Nelson,247
and Richard Shoup,250
together with a critical analysis by Edwin May and James
Nelson offered the following interpretation of the strong deviations
from randomness that with correlated with the major events of September
We do not have a theoretical understanding of the sort that must
underlie robust interpretations…but I would like to describe a
speculation…that the instruments have captured the reaction of a
global consciousness…. Based on evidence that individuals and groups
manifest something we can tentatively call a consciousness field, we
hypothesized that there could be a global consciousness capable of the
same thing…. It would seem that the new, integrated mind is just
beginning to be active, paying attention only to events that inspire
strong coherence of attention and feeling. Perhaps the best image is
an infant slowly developing awareness, but already capable of strong
emotions…. The EGG network reacted in a powerful and evocative way.
While there are certainly sensible alternative explanations, this is
not a mistake or a misreading. It can be interpreted as a clear, if
indirect, confirmation of the hypothesis that the EGGs’ behavior is
affected by global events and our reactions to them…. The results from
this scientific study are an apparent manifestation of the ancient
idea that we are all interconnected, and that what we think and feel
has an effect on others.252
If Nelson’s speculations are borne out by further research, then
humanity has inherited a new responsibility: to be conscious of the
impact of our pooled thought and feeling. The following studies
highlight an important consideration: namely, that collective intention
for advancing the common good, organized through prayer or meditation
(especially its advanced forms), may create a field effect that is
opposite the one created by largely unconscious, mass attention. In
other words, collective intention that is grounded in love, empathy,
compassion, altruism, etc., may create a healing field effect, in
contrast to mass attention that is focused primarily by fear, threat,
danger, mistrust, horror, anger, etc.
Shortly after 9/11, TM practitioners gathered in Iowa for five days
“to meditate together to create an influence of stability and
in the United States. Orme-Johnson predicted post facto that strong
coherence in the EGGs output would have been produced on September 26,
2001, the day on which the highest number of meditators (1800
individuals) practiced. When Nelson analyzed the data, he found that its
departure from expectation on that day was “steady and unusually strong,
leading to a final result that has a chance likelihood of about one in
1000, had it been an a priori prediction, instead of a non-formal
(In science, formal experiments are based upon predictions made before
data collection begins.) This result may support the hypothesis of TM’s
founder that the experience of a unified field of consciousness creates
coherence in the environment.
Orme-Johnson also predicted post facto that the strongest coherence
would be reflected during periods of TM-Sidhi “yogic flying”, an
advanced meditative technique, which involves a “subjective experience
of waves of bliss.” The concatenated result for the five days of group
practice, during the time period of most powerful results (7:00 – 7:30
p.m.), showed a fairly steady trend, but as a negative deviation from
randomness, the opposite direction predicted by Nelson’s hypothesis.
Commenting on the results, Nelson noted how this opposite-direction
result occurred during another focusing of collective intention for the
Although this [the TM-Sidhi analysis] is a non-formal exploration
and is too little data to allow robust interpretation, such an effect
corresponds to a reduction of the size of deviations from expectation
in the nominally random data. It is worth noting that the Silent
Prayer on September 14, 2001 [conducted simultaneously via many
organized events in Europe and the eastern U.S.] showed the same
pattern…, steadily opposite to the usual direction; but somehow it
looks right – symbolic of the moment’s contrast to the preceding
days…. Perhaps we should predict such an effect from deeply focused
A recent study, with EGGs located in TM meditation halls, found a
ten-times more powerful effect for yogic flying, compared to regular
As predicted ahead of time, the effect was again opposite the
trend direction produced during and immediately after 9/11.
Although further study, replication and careful interpretation of
these results are necessary, the data trend’s opposite direction raises
an intriguing possibility regarding the positive effects that
collectives can have upon communities, societies and our world, when
collective intention is marshaled – and practiced -- on behalf of the
common good. As these and the earlier TM-related data suggest, perhaps
we can mobilize and harness large-scale, constructive intention, in
order to bring healing to dis-eased situations locally, regionally and
The above results, together with the relatively larger effect sizes
obtained in studies of bonded couples and of groups, suggest that DHI by
groups may be more efficacious, relative to DHI by individuals, after
controlling for other variables. Group-based DHI certainly deserves more
Facilitated Learning and Creative
Synchronicity. Sheldrake has conducted a
number of experiments, which seem to indicate that morphic resonance and
field effects may facilitate faster and easier learning by individuals
and groups who attempt to learn a skill or behavior after an individual
or group in the same species initially does so. Researchers have
investigated this phenomenon in terms of language skills, solving
crossword puzzles, birds pulling caps off milk bottles, conditioned
aversion among chicks,258
and other forms of learning.259
These experiments have replicated earlier research by others.260
In one experiment, the average time required by participants to
initially solve visual puzzles was recorded. The same puzzles were then
shown to several million television viewers, for them to solve.
Subsequently, a group of individuals, who had not watched the program or
seen the puzzles, solved the puzzles much faster than the original
Laszlo has used similar ideas to explain creative synchronicity
across cultures or individuals in different locations, who could not
have been aware of each other’s work. He has studied instances where
they appear to enter into field-mediated communication, regardless of
the distance separating them. For example, “the great breakthroughs of
classical Hebrew, Greek, Chinese and Indian culture occurred almost at
the same time [750 to 399 BC]…among people who were not likely to have
been in actual communication.”262
Laszlo has suggested that some creative acts may be
due to the elaboration of an idea or pattern in two or more minds
in [direct, but unconscious] interaction, a process in which the
results transcend the individual abilities…. Perhaps [when
individuals] with high levels of motivation and great powers of
concentration focus on similar tasks, the similarity of the states of
brain and mind allows some level of access to each other’s cerebral
A number of other researchers have noted this phenomenon.264
Harold Gardner has suggested that it might be salutary “to view the
field as the ‘prime mover’” in such cases.265
If learning and creativity can be facilitated and distributed by
field effects, perhaps healing can also be – among the members of teams,
organizations, local communities, and even our global community. The
research described in this paper, especially the TM research, suggests
that this is a possibility.
Cautions and Considerations
When Designing and Interpreting the Research
When reviewing the research and considering the possibilities
regarding collective consciousness, it is important to address several
Reductionism and Absolutism. The most common problems that I have seen
arise during discussions of collective consciousness are reductionism
and its converse, absolutism. Reductionism occurs when,
for example, any one discipline or professional specialty reduces or
collapses all the diverse aspects of a whole phenomenon to its own
partial, discipline-specific perspective. We have stories and sayings in
ordinary life that expresses the partialness of reductionism. Examples
include the blind men who think that the part of the elephant they’re
touching – its truck, leg, or tail -- is the whole elephant, unconnected
to the other parts. Similarly, we have a saying, “If you’re a hammer,
everything is a nail.”
The converse of reductionism is absolutism. In this
case, a discipline inflates its perspective, claiming that its
perspective can absolutely explain every aspect of a phenomena. In the
preceding examples, the elephant’s tail is seen as the whole elephant.
The hammer is seen as the tool that contains the solution to every
In terms of collective consciousness, systems
theorists seem to fall quite often into both traps (although
other disciplines at times do the same). The external processes and
systems of any collective become the sole focus. “If we take a group
through these processes, or structure an organization
this way, or teach these techniques, then collective
consciousness will be ensured,” the thinking typically goes. What gets
sacrificed are the inner aspects of individual or collective life,
issues like psychological or moral development, meditative practice,
culture, and so on.
A second major area of reductionism during discussions of collective
consciousness centers around quantum physics, especially the quantum vacuum and the Zero
Point Field. Wilber correctly notes that the
issue of where to locate the quantum vacuum in the overall
consciousness-mass-energy model “has probably caused more theoretical
trouble than any other single item…. The result has been
Because this is such a common and widespread error, I’d like to spend a
little time on it.
Because the quantum wave potential is “a vast source of creative
energy that gives rise to denser material particles,” many scientists
have equated it with Spirit, God, the Tao, Brahman, etc., or limitless
consciousness itself. However, since subatomic particles emerge from the
quantum potential and therefore are the material beginning of
the evolutionary chain, equating the quantum potential with
Spirit means that “the higher the level of evolution, the farther away
from God you get…. The quantum potential is not actually a radically
formless or nondual domain…, but rather is simply one aspect of a
manifest realm that itself has qualities and quantities, and hence is
not radically Unqualifiable.”267
In other words, unqualifiable nondual Spirit is reduced to a material
aspect of dualistic reality.
An example of this reductionism underpins Lynn McTaggart’s book,
The title refers to the Zero Point Field (ZPF), a field associated with
zero-point energy, the “ever-present energy in the emptiest state of
space at the lowest possible energy, at temperatures of absolute zero,
out of which no more energy could be removed…. All elementary particles
interact with each other…, causing random fluctuations of energy.” These
interactions, “when added across the universe, give rise to enormous
The ZPF implies that all matter in the universe is “interconnected by
waves…, tying one part of the universe to every other part.”270
This description is fine. But McTaggart’s explanation of every single
phenomena in life by means of the ZPF is where problems begin to arise.
Before I give a few examples, let me speak about involution or creative
The wisdom traditions are virtually unanimous that an
involutionary movement (or creative manifestation)271
preceded life’s evolutionary movement, proceeding from pure
Spirit through soul, mind, life (prana) and insentient matter (the
quarks and atoms of quantum physics). According to this cross-cultural
view, the quantum potential is therefore not Spirit, but
Spirit-as-prana. “When the Schroedinger wave function [in quantum
physics] collapses [a movement from multiple potential states to a
particular particle form], prana gives rise to matter. What the quantum
mechanical formalisms are catching is a brief glimpse of – in a merely
third-person, abstract, mathematical form – the staggering power of
Some quantum physicists turn an event at the bottom of the involutionary
cycle into its beginning. Put another way, they conflate the beginning
points of the involutionary and evolutionary cycles.
McTaggart falls into this conundrum. First, she calls the ZPF “a
repository of all fields…a field of fields.”273
For the reasons mentioned above, this turns evolution on its head.
Moreover, rather than seeing quantum fields as one of many types of
fields, all reflecting various levels of consciousness and complexity,
she reduces all of them to one.
Second, McTaggart makes a number of huge, interpretive claims, which
she does not adequately support, in my opinion. She refers to the ZPF
a life force flowing through the universe – what has variously been
called collective consciousness or, as theologians have termed it, the
Holy Spirit. [The scientists studying the ZPF] provided a plausible
explanation of all those areas over the centuries [that] mankind has
had faith in, but no solid evidence of…, from the effectiveness of
alternative medicine and even prayer to life after death. They offered
us, in a sense, a science of religion.274
I have serious problems with these claims. Although one might be able
to argue that some simple form of collective consciousness – or, more
accurately, prehension -- exists at the subatomic level, I would argue
that collective consciousness fully and meaningfully emerges only at
later stages of evolution, when transpersonal consciousness begins to
develop. Second, as explained above, subatomic particles or their
interactions are unlikely to be able to contain the subtle energies that
may, in fact, help explain some of the phenomena described in this
paper. Third, McTaggart has taken a Christian concept – Holy Spirit – an
aspect of the divine, and has applied it to the nondual, which
constitutes another reduction, from a theological perspective. Finally,
she assumes that science can explain all aspects of religion, ignoring
the limits of science in terms of studying realities that can only be
accessed via gnosis, as I explain elsewhere in this paper.
David Bohm’s dualistic formulation of the implicate and
explicate orders also reflects this
He portrayed the implicate order as quantum and
spiritual, and the explicate order as Newtonian and material. But, as
Wilber points out,276
the wisdom traditions hold that, in the energy aspects of the
involutionary movement of the Great Chain of Being, each holon
is implicate to (the creative source of) its subholon, whereas each
subholon is explicate to (the manifestation or expression of) its holon.
Life’s creative process begins at the causal level, eventually working
its way to the quantum level, in successive implicate-explicate
movements. But if you absolutize physics – an all too common
situation – the Great Chain is itself collapsed into one movement, and
the nondual is equated with one pole of a dualistic formulation.
Bohm eventually realized this dilemma. In an attempt to solve it, he
proposed a “super-implicate order”. But the problem of qualifying the
unqualifiable remained. He then added a “beyond the super-implicate”
realm, creating a four-level, rough approximation of the chain of being.
But because his model was based on physics, he reduced the
middle section of the chain, which includes the domains of biology (the
“life” level) and psychology (the “mind” level), to the domain of
physics (the “matter” level).
The Two Truths Doctrine.
Another problem, according to Wilber,277
with equating quantum (or string or symmetry) realities with nondual
Spirit is highlighted by the “Two Truths Doctrine.” Conventional or
relative truths can be known by science, but absolute or nondual truth
can only be known by gnosis (satori, etc.), a direct apprehension
through transformation of consciousness. Relative truth addresses finite
events, about which you can make true or false, assertoric statements,
and the conditions under which your assertions are true. But when you
attempt to categorize (organize into discrete, defined parts) nondual
Spirit, you enter the realm of contradiction and ad absurdum
and ad infinitum regressions. For the philosopher-sage,
Nagarjuna, for example, the Ultimate is empty (shunya) of qualities and
categorizations. To communicate one’s experience of the nondual via
language, one must resort to poetic metaphor, such as the “One”. By
contrast, in quantum physics, the vacuum potential is a model, and one
can therefore communicate via dualistic, assertoric language.
The trick is not to reduce all of reality, including the nondual, to
the quantum level, but rather to see the quantum level of reality as
isomorphic to other levels. In other words, each level of reality will
be implicate or explicate to other levels. Each level will have certain
unique fields that express its energy, but do not necessarily express
the energy of other levels or other phenomena. If we approach collective
consciousness from a comprehensive, integral framework, we will avoid
the traps of reductionism, absolutism and, at times, inappropriate
Harmful Field Effects. Occasionally someone asks me whether field
effects can be harmful. The simple answer is yes. In fact, we all
already live in the midst of a number of harmful, unhealthy fields. We
may be in a destructive relationship, or work in a toxic organization
with a narcissistic leader, or be part of a religious organization that
has cult-like characteristics, or live in a community characterized by
high levels of conflict or crime.
But what about individuals or groups who consciously and maliciously
harm others? This is a very important question. Larry Dossey has
documented examples of the ability of malicious thoughts to harm and
You can take steps to inoculate yourself, so to speak. HeartMath, for
example, has found that people, who are able to maintain their own
physiological coherence, are “more internally stable and, thus, less
vulnerable to being negatively affected.”279
This is one reason that I stress development and practice so much: the
more you can discover who you truly are, the more you can develop your
own internal compass, and the more you choose to live in a state of
honesty, acceptance and love, the less you will be affected by negative,
Some people, such as the TM practitioners, believe that the powers of
influence one achieves are commensurate with one’s level of
consciousness, and are otherwise unavailable. In addition, as one’s
moral development and identification with others evolves, one chooses to
live more responsibly and for the sake of the common good. In such
cases, causing harm to others becomes less and less likely. This is
another reason I stress development and practice. A growing body of
research seems to indicate that our thoughts and feelings, individually
and collectively, affect others – perhaps to a degree we have not
imagined or understood. I believe, therefore, that we have a personal
responsibility to develop our capacities, strengthen our concern and
care for the common good, and create healing field effects in our
organizations and communities. I do believe that the TM practitioners
are correct when they say that coherent, unified, field consciousness is
much more powerful than typically incoherent, malicious intentions.280
The cautions and considerations that I have just outlined, lead me to
speak a bit about the crucial importance of practice, development and
character for the building and sustaining of collective consciousness
and wisdom on behalf of the common good.
Collaborative Creativity. Sheldrake’s hypothesis, as explained
above, is that members of a social holon – once present or past members
of that holon have learned a behavior – can draw upon morphic resonance,
their collective memory, to learn the habits and skills established by
their predecessors. If true, then members of a collective, through their
own learning and development, can assist the learning of other members
of the collective and of other similar collectives.
However, as Sheldrake admits, a major limitation of his hypothesis is
that it cannot explain how novel or creative behavior occurs. The first
field – such as the field of a new idea – “comes into being through a
creative jump. The source of this evolutionary creativity is unknown.
Maybe it is a matter of chance. Maybe it is an expression of some
inherent creativity in mind and nature.”281
As we all know from our experience, the cumulative habits of teams,
organizations, societies and cultures can stifle change and innovation
very effectively. Moreover, memory involves recall of something that has
already occurred. Although it may provide a helpful stepping-stone in
the creative process, it refers to the past, rather than the new. So,
how can collaborative creativity take place?
I have addressed this question in depth elsewhere,282
so I will only make a few comments here. I believe that the answers lie
in the arena of human development. From the wisdom traditions, from the
social sciences, and from our personal and professional practice and
experience of change and transformation, we know that attitudes and
beliefs can make a big difference. For example, how open and curious we
are, how willing we are to take risks, etc., together with the
behavioral choices we make, can determine how creative we are and how
fast we learn. Obviously, mystery is still involved here, as any
spiritual teacher, educator, consultant or therapist will tell you.
Nonetheless, many spiritual practices, for example, are specifically
designed to help practitioners become more and more open, flexible and
adaptive, and to embrace and recognize change as the true nature of
Various developmental traditions describe an evolution of consciousness,
which increasingly takes practitioners away from constantly repeating
patterns, routines and habits,284
while taking them toward increasing openness, change, experimentation,
and intuitive insight. This way of living can cut throw off the crushing
weight of unconscious habit.
Intuition may in fact hold the key to creativity. Research has
indicated that tele-prehension and creativity may each call upon similar
capacities and skills. In one experiment, for example, Charles Honorton
and Marilyn Schlitz found that artistically gifted people were more
successful at ESP than ordinary individuals.285
My experience with teams is that collaborative creativity arises after
the group has engaged in an intuitive process. It appears that the
diversity of a group requires that the members find an overarching or
underlying, broad and inclusive perspective, one that incorporates the
different viewpoints. In the intuitive sensing of this large and
encompassing perspective, a novel insight about a problem or issue seems
In groups and collectives, individual members can inspire each other
to be more creative and transformative by the way they live – a marker
of true leadership. The more members of any collective who make choices
for openness, freedom and creativity, the more the culture of the
collective will take on those characteristics. They begin to act like
what chaos theory refers to as “chaotic attractors”, as more and more
members of the group choose to enter harmonic resonance with them
(Wilber’s third form of tele-prehension, as described earlier). I once
worked for an organization where such a strong transformative field had
been built, that visitors would literally sense it and remark upon it
when they walked in the door. Unfortunately, this is more often the
exception than the rule.
I also believe that Spirit responds to an invitation, especially a
collective invitation, to learning and creativity. Here the
involutionary and evolutionary movements of life meet and interact.
This, I believe, is what Wilber is talking about under the second form
of tele-prehension presented above.
The Importance of Practice, Development and
There is a way
Between voice and
Where information flows.
In disciplined silence it
With wandering talk it closes.
- Jelaluddin Rumi
Wilber’s integral model of development is very important, in terms of
hypothesizing and studying the relationships between development, human
capacities, subtle energies and field effects. According to the Vedanta
and Vajrayana traditions, only when individuals have consciously
developed a particular level of consciousness can they permanently
realize, access and master the correlated states of consciousness and
behaviors, “converting ‘temporary states’ to ‘permanent traits’”.286
Research has supported this view by finding, for example, that the
dreams of infants and children do not contain or express capacities
associated with the higher levels of consciousness, such as formal
operational thought, postconventional images and morality, etc. Such
contents only appear during early adulthood. Furthermore, although an
infant exhibits energy fields associated with the families of gross,
subtle and causal (described earlier in this paper), because it enters
waking, dreaming and sleeping states;287
it does not possess the species and subspecies energy fields because it
has not developed the correlated stages of consciousness.288
To illuminate the difference between temporary states and permanent
traits, we can examine what happens when a crisis (such as a flood or
earthquake) occurs in a community. In such situations, community members
often respond in remarkable ways: they demonstrate full commitment to
the common good, work tirelessly on its behalf, collaborate in
extraordinary ways, and exhibit great levels of compassion, care,
altruism and effort. They often describe the experience of communion,
community and collaboration as a rare and singular peak experience.
Although this experience may result in an ongoing transformation for
some, most community members and the community itself typically return
to ordinary behavior within a relatively short period of time after the
crisis subsides, as old patterns and habits subsume the temporary state
of collective consciousness.
But those who transform, whether through a conversion experience or
ongoing practice, and then reside in the transpersonal levels of
consciousness, seem to be able to express collective consciousness
regularly and relatively consistently. At some point, they experience
what I call “the communion of the heart.” They begin to evidence ongoing
care for the common good and to exhibit consistently collaborative
intention and skills, no matter what situation they are in, no matter
what group, organization of community they are involved with at any
We now stand at a critical juncture, where we can begin to interface
the modes of inquiry and the findings of the wisdom and scientific
traditions. By stripping most metaphysical constructs from the
wisdom-tradition consciousness model in his recent work,289
Wilber has opened more of the model’s stages to scientific
investigation. Scientists studying human development have already
described at least 12 major levels of consciousness, which can be
studied in at least 24 developmental lines. Furthermore, in the online
draft of his latest book, Wilber has begun to integrate these scientific
findings and the various wisdom-tradition versions of the human chakra
system into his integral model of development, thereby correlating them
with the states and stages of consciousness and their associated energy
Wilber’s synthesis provides a comprehensive framework to study
scientifically the relationship between human development, character,
collective consciousness, and related, sustainable capacities and
skills. To realize the individual and social benefits of developing
collective consciousness and wisdom, which have been suggested by the
research described in this paper and by applied disciplines such as
organizational and community development, we need to learn how to
develop these sustainable collaborative capacities and skills.
I would argue, based upon my experience working with groups and teams
over the past 33 years and upon my study of the research,291
that we will only be able to develop and utilize our collective wisdom
through consistent practice, self-honesty and courage. Research
regarding the means for developing collective consciousness is therefore
crucial. I will now describe some promising and necessary areas for
studying collective consciousness.
Future Lines of Research
As we have seen in this paper, the scientific investigation of
collective consciousness is just beginning. Areas of fruitful research
What is unique about collective consciousness? How does it differ,
if at all, from what occurs in high performance teams, for example?
How does it differ from mob or crowd psychology? How does it differ
from group identities that are built upon separation from others
(e.g., a skinhead group, certain ethnic groups)?
How might we best define collective consciousness, in a manner that
is parsimonious, yet essential, and that allows us to operationalize
our definition and conduct good research?
What theory best explains collective consciousness? What model best
represents it? What testable hypotheses can we formulate about it?
What can research on love, altruism, empathy, compassion,
forgiveness, etc., tell us about the relationship, if any, between
those phenomena and collective consciousness?292
How is collective consciousness manifested or expressed on one or
more of the 24-plus lines of development?293
What is the relationship or correlation between individual and
What can other cultures, past or present, teach us about collective
consciousness and wisdom? Are there cross-cultural aspects that tell
us about the essential and universal aspects of these phenomena?
What do various disciplines have to teach us about collective
consciousness (e.g., intergroup relations, diversity and multicultural
studies, team building, organizational development and fields,
transpersonal psychology, collaborative creativity, group psychology,
What do the wisdom traditions, including shamanic practice and
experience, tell us about collective consciousness?295
What have we learned or can learn about group dreaming, including
setting an intention before sleep and using tele-prehension? What can
other cultures tell us about communal dreaming?296
How can the research the social benefits of group TM meditative
practice be studied within other meditative and contemplative
traditions? If the social benefits of such practice are replicated,
how can we teach reflective practice in order to advance the common
good and collective health? 297
Do groups of subtle-energy healers, working together, produce
physical and mental health benefits that are faster and/or greater
than those produced by single healers?
In all cases, an interdisciplinary focus would help address the
complex nature of collective consciousness and would help ensure that
our research is integral; a cross-cultural focus would help us determine
what is universal; and a longitudinal focus would help us see to what
degree collective consciousness changes in tandem with developmental
Summary and Conclusion
The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands,
but in seeing with new eyes.
– Marcel Proust
Humanity is embarking on an exciting journey, exploring ways to
consciously use our collective wisdom and power to benefit the common
good. In some ways, these communal methods have been known in the wisdom
traditions for a long time. But, in other ways, we are approaching them
fresh. First, we are exploring them scientifically, moving from an arena
of metaphysics and belief, to an arena of experimentation, practice and
methodologies that can be used to train many people. Second, we are
harnessing the true nature of healing and creativity, which involves
relationship-centered and collaborative approaches, and coming into
individual, organizational and societal wholeness, both of which are
inherently spiritual and sacred by nature. These approaches promise to
restore community in mainstream U.S. culture, especially in our
organizations. Third, we are beginning to consciously learn how to work
with field effects, and to assume individual responsibility for our
crucial contributions to the health and creativity of our relationships,
our organizations, our communities and our culture.
Kenny, MBA (PhD), is a Fetzer Institute Fellow, founder of Leaderful
Teams Organizational Consulting, and co-founder of Bluff House Retreats.
For 21 years he was a human resources executive at the Federal Reserve
Bank, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, Citicorp, and a comprehensive,
non-profit educational and health center in New York City. He has
published a number of articles on collective wisdom, and is writing a
book, Change Your Life, Change Your Work: The Transformative Power of
Reflective Practice and Inspired Action. You can reach him via email
1Kenny, Robert M.
(1992). Reflections on group consciousness and synergy. ICIS FORUM, 22
body of research has been conducted regarding the impact of collective
consciousness, via the practice of transcendental meditation by groups,
upon indicators of social cohesion and health (e.g., homicides,
suicides, traffic fatalities, unemployment, conflict, and quality of
life). Beyond what I describe in this paper, all the research is
summarized at www.mum.edu/tm_research/summary_tm_res.html.
the term “Kosmos” in its original sense: “the patterned nature or
process of all domains of existence…, not merely the physical universe….
[It] contains the cosmos (physiosphere), the bios (biosphere), nous
(noosphere), and theos (theosphere, or divine domain).” Wilber, Ken
(1995, p. 38). Sex, ecology and spirituality. Boston, MA:
(In press). Kosmic Karma (Vol. 2) [Online]. Boston, MA:
Shambhala. Available draft: http://wilber.shambhala.com/html/books/kosmos/excerptC/intro-1.cfm.
5Kenny, R. M.
(1987). Elliott Jaques’ Stratified Systems Theory: A review and
critique. Unpublished master’s thesis, New York University, Stern
Graduate School of Business, New York, NY.
Kenny, R. M. (1992). Op cit.
Kenny, R.M. (Facilitator). (1993, August). Team
effectiveness, group consciousness, and individual psychological
development. Invited workshop presentation at the Celebration of
Community Conference, co-sponsored by the Institute of Noetic Sciences
(IONS), Olympia, WA. Available audiotape.
Kenny, R.M. (Facilitator). (1993, August).
Decision-making tools: How to build consensus in teams. Invited
workshop presentation at the Celebration of Community Conference,
co-sponsored by the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS), Olympia, WA.
Kenny, R. M. (1994). Community-building by M. Scott
Peck, M.D.: A critique. ICIS FORUM, 24 (1), 37-58.
Kenny, R. M. (Facilitator). (1994, August).
Psychological development and team building. Invited workshop
presentation at the Annual Conference of the Association for
Transpersonal Psychology (ATP), Asilomar, CA. Available audiotape.
Kenny, R. M. (Speaker). (1995, August). Maturation,
psychospiritual development, and Peck’s community-building model: A
critique. Sidney M. Jourard Division 32 (Humanistic Psychology)
Award paper, presented at the annual convention of the American
Psychological Association (APA), Chicago, IL.
Kenny, R. M. (Speaker). (1995, September).
Community-building and human development. Invited presentation
at the New York Conference on Social Research, New York, NY.
Kenny, R.M. (1996). Creative collaboration and human
development: A case study. Unpublished paper, Saybrook Graduate School
and Research Center, San Francisco, CA.
Kenny, R.M. (Facilitator). (1996, November). Team
creativity and individual development. Invited workshop
presentation at the Common Boundary’s 16th Annual Conference,
Washington, D.C. Available audiotape.
Kenny, R.M. (1997, August). Creative collaboration
and human development: A case study. Invited paper presentation at
the Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association (APA),
Kenny, R. M. (1998). Creative collaboration: The
untapped resource of synergy. Unpublished doctoral candidacy essay,
Saybrook Graduate School and Research Institute, San Francisco, CA.
Kenny, R.M. (Speaker). (1998, October). Building
healthy and sustainable communities. Invited presentation at the
New York Open Center’s Conference on Sustainable Societies, New York,
NY. Available audiotape.
Kenny, R.M. (Speaker). (1999, June). Collective
relationships: The challenging, yet golden, road to spiritual
development. Invited paper presentation at the semi-annual
colloquium of Saybrook Graduate School and Research Center, San
Kenny, R. M. (1999, Fall). Spread leadership! Yes!
A Journal of Positive Futures, 39.
Kenny, R.M. (2000, January). Developing leaderful
groups. The Co-Intelligence Institute. Available: http://www.co-intelligence.org/
or via email .
Kenny, R. M. (2000, Summer). Creating community.
Communities Magazine, 23-25.
Kenny, R. M., in collaboration with Glover, J. R.
(2001). Calling out our potential: Developing collective wisdom and
team synergy: With reflections on our collective future. Kalamazoo,
MI: The Fetzer Institute. http://www.collectivewisdominitiative.org/papers/glover_callingout.htm.
Kenny, R.M. (2001, June [excerpts], and 2000, May [full
interview]). The chalice of community: An interview of Robert Kenny.
Online Noetic Network. Available transcript: http://www.wisdomtalk.org/ or via email .
Kenny, R. M. (2002, Summer). Developing collaborative,
creative and ethical leadership through the use of reflective practice.
Newsletter of the Pacific Northwest Organizational Development
Kenny, R. M. (Facilitator). (2003, September). The
transformative power of collective practice, wisdom and inspired action
in organizations and communities (Conference Recording Services,
Inc., Cassette Recording No. 051, http://www.conferencerecording.com/newevents/awa23.htm,
510-527-3600). Invited workshop presentation at the Annual Conference of
the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS), presented in collaboration with
the Association for Global New Thought (AGNT), Palm Springs, CA.
Kenny, R. M. (2003, October). Inspiring creativity
and sustainability through reflective practice. Workshop presented
at the annual conference of the Organizational Development Network
(ODN), Portland, OR. Proceedings available at http://www.odnetwork.org/conf2003/proceedings/index.html
or via email .
Kenny, R. M. (Facilitator). (2004, March). Building
Individual and Organizational Creativity, Collaboration, Vision and
Leadership Through Reflective Practice. Invited workshop
presentation at the monthly meeting of the Pacific Northwest
Organizational Development Network (PNODN). Seattle, WA.
Kenny, R. M. (May-July, 2004, pp. 79-80). The science
of collective consciousness: A summary. What Is Enlightenment?,
Kenny, R. M. (In press). Change your work, change
your life: The transformative power of reflective practice and inspired
action. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler.
Kenny, R. M. (In press). Creative collaboration and
human development: When the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.
In A. Montuori & R. Purser (Eds.) (In press), Social creativity
(Vol. 3). Creskill, NJ: Hampton Press.
Kenny, R. M. (In press). Creating healing teams,
organizations and societies. In M. Schlitz & T. Amarok (Eds.),
Consciousness and healing: Integral approaches to mind-body
medicine. New York: Churchill Livingston/Elsevier Science
Benor, D. J. (September 2003, pp. 1-12). Collective consciousness: The
journey IS the destination. The International Journal of Healing and
Caring, (2), 3.
7Kenny, R. M.
(In press). Creative collaboration and human development. Op
8Kenny, R. M.
(1999, Fall). Op cit.
9Kenny, R. M.
(In press) Building personal, organizational and community health
through collective consciousness and action. Op cit.
M. (In press). Change your work, change your life. Op
cit. Kenny, R. M. (2003, September). Op cit.
M. (2003, October). Op cit.
M. (1994). Op cit.
K. (1996). Eye to eye: The quest for the new paradigm. Boston,
K. (In press). Op cit. http://wilber.shambhala.com/html/books/kosmos/excerptG/part1.cfm.
K. (In press). Ibid.
16Wilber, K. (In press). Ibid. http://wilber.shambhala.com/html/books/kosmos/excerptD/part1.cfm.
17Kenny, R. M. (1998). Op cit.
18Walsh, R., & Vaughan, F. (Eds.) (1993,
p. 3). Paths beyond ego: The transpersonal vision. New York,
G.P. Putnam’s Sons.
19Wilber, K. (1995, p. 290). Op
20Wilber, K. (1995, p. 313).
21Wilber very rightly notes: “The manifest
world continues to expand correlative with the amount of love sentient
beings can bring to it…. The greater the degree of the evolution of
consciousness, the more transparent the boundaries themselves become to
Emptiness” or Spirit. See Wilber, Ken (In press). Op cit. http://wilber.shambhala.com/html/books/kosmos/excerptD/part1.cfm.
Love may actually constitute the energy that accounts for many of the
phenomenal aspects of collective consciousness.
22Wilber, K. (1995, p. 292). Op
23Wilber, K. (1995, p. 610).
24For example, see Bucke, R. M. (1974 ).
Cosmic consciousness: A study in the evolution of the human mind.
New York: Causeway Books.
awakening of the ultimate Self or nondual I-I of all holons, which
brings with it the full recognition of the Kosmic solidarity or ultimate
We of all holons, a recognition of that infinite depth or nondual Spirit
that grounds all intersubjectivity and solidarity, as disclosed and
illumined by causal and nondual paradigms [practices].” Wilber, Ken. (In
press) Op cit.
These terms will be explained throughout this paper.
26Wilber, Ken. (In press). Op cit. http://wilber.shambhala.com/html/books/kosmos/excerptC/intro-1.cfm.
27For example: “Only an individual holon has a
dominant monad or ‘I’ with a singular agency or intentionality, and
thus…has consciousness per se (although a collective interior holon can
have a type of diffused consciousness, e.g., ‘group ego’). Wilber, Ken.
(In press, n. 6). Op cit.
28Jung, C. G. (1964). Man and his
symbols. Garden City, NY: Windfall/Doubleday.
29Kenny, R. M., in
collaboration with Glover, J. R. (2001). Op cit.
30Glaser, B. G., & Strauss, A. L.
(1967). The discovery of grounded theory: Strategies for qualitative
research. New York: Aldine de Gruyer.
Glaser, B. G. (1992). Basics of grounded theory
analysis. Mill Valley, CA: Sociology Press.
31Briskin, A., Erickson, S., Lederman, J.,
Ott, J., Potter, D., & Strutt, C. (2001). Centered on the edge:
Mapping a field of collective intelligence and spiritual wisdom.
Kalamazoo, MI: The John E. Fetzer Institute. Available: http://www.collectivewisdominitiative.org/CenteredOnTheEdge/thebook.htm
32See endnotes 1-8.
33This body of work will be referenced in the
remainder of this paper.
Out Our Potential. Op cit.
35Hermeneutics studies inner realities as
people experience them (e.g., how people feel about their experience).
Structuralism studies how inner realities manifest as behavior. These
two research methods, when used together, are well suited to studying
stages of human development. Cross-cultural research would help us see
what is more universal, while longitudinal research would allow us to
determine which patterns of being-in-the-world constitute stages, rather
than states. See Wilber, K. (In press). Op cit. http://wilber.shambhala.com/html/books/kosmos/excerptD/part1.cfm.
36Sheldrake, R. (2003, p. 16). The sense
of being stared at: And other aspects of the extended mind. New
37Charles Tart found in his research that,
when two subjects hypnotized each other, they claimed to know each
other’s thoughts and feelings. Tart, C. Psychedelic experiences
associated with a novel hypnotic procedure: mutual hypnosis. In C. Tart
(Ed.) (1969), Altered states of consciousness (pp. 291-308).
New York: John Wiley. As I discuss in this paper, there are certain
non-drug processes which group members can consciously and willingly
undertake to create altered states of consciousness, such as meditation,
which may enhance their ability to think and create together, or to
influence the advancement of the common good.
38Kenny, Robert (1996). Op cit.
39E.g.: Elgin, D. (1997). Collective
consciousness and cultural healing: A report to the Fetzer
Institute. San Anselmo, CA: Millennium Project. Available: http://www.awakeningearth.org/.
Laszlo, E. (1995, pp. 88, 106). The interconnected
universe: Conceptual foundations of transdisciplinary unified theory.
River Edge, NJ: World Scientific.
Radin, D. (1997). The conscious universe: The
scientific truth of psychic phenomena. New York: Harper Collins.
Sheldrake, R. (1995). Seven experiments that could
change the world. New York: Riverhead Books. Available: http://www.sheldrake.org/.
Wolman, B. B. (Ed.) (1977). Handbook of
parapsychology. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold.
Utts, J. (1991). Replication and meta-analysis in
parapsychology. Statistical Science, 6, 363-403.
40Sheldrake, R. (1995, pp. 23-24).
41Wilber, K. (In press). Op cit. http://wilber.shambhala.com/html/books/kosmos/excerptC/intro-1.cfm.
Wilber says that the first way, psi, is not his main focus; accordingly,
he will focus upon the other two; and, because the third is the most
acceptable way for mainstream science, he will refer to it most often.
He also notes (ibid, n. 49): “The only way there is a direct sharing of
subjectivity is through tele-prehension…But a hermeneutic circle also
consists of inter-subjective exchanges, such as signs and symbols
[shared, e.g., through language].” In the main text (Excerpt C) Wilber
calls tele-prehension “direct depth-to-depth resonance”.
43A whole, which has a coherent and unique
identity and agency, and which is simultaneously a part (subholon) in
another whole. The transcendent yet inclusive new whole joins the parts
into a deeper commonality, wherein the whole is greater than the sum of
its parts. For example, a molecule is a subholon of a cell, and a cell
is a subholon of an organism. Wilber, K. (1995, p. 18). Op
in a metaphoric fashion, is the nondual Self of all inter-selves…, which
allows any understanding to occur at all – not because you and I are
part of a super-I, but because there is only one Super-I that
is identical in and as all individual I’s, the single nonlocal absolute
subjectivity that inhabits all subjects, and thus brings them together.”
Wilber, K. (In press, n. 48). Op cit. http://wilber.shambhala.com/html/books/kosmos/excerptC/intro-1.cfm.
45See another paper of mine on this website,
which has definitions of resonance and the related, important concepts
of attunement and entrainment in coordinated and synergistic groups.
Kenny, R. M., in collaboration with Glover, J. R. (2001, pp. 3-4).
Op cit. www.collectivewisdominitiative.org/papers/glover_callingout.htm.
46For Wilber, “depth” means consciousness. In
holons with the least consciousness (e.g., subatomic particles like
quarks), Wilber, like Whitehead, calls consciousness “prehension”. If I
understand Wilber, he is saying that one cannot experience harmonic
empathy with another sentient being who has evolved to a higher level of
consciousness (or greater depth), because one has not yet experienced
that level of consciousness in oneself. Perhaps you have experienced
this on a verbal level with a great spiritual teacher: you don’t really
understand some of the things that he or she is talking about, because
you have not yet experienced or prehended those things. See the
description of “solidarity”, under the “Fields” subheading of this
who have engaged the causal-nondual paradigms [practices] have found
that the realizations brought forth by those paradigms decisively
contribute to otherwise insoluble issues, such as the mind-body problem
and intersubjectivity…. Although the ‘conclusions’ of these other
paradigms cannot be seen by the mental paradigms, they can be seen by
integral individuals, who can then directly contemplate their relevance
for these issues [emphasis added].” Wilber, K. (In press, n 15). Op
48Emerson, R. W. (1969). In R. Cook (Ed.),
Ralph Waldo Emerson: Selected prose and poetry. San Francisco,
CA: Rinehart. (Original work published 1909-1914).
49Emerson, Ralph Waldo (1969, p. 107).
50Quoted in Wilber, K. (1995, p. 606, n. 1).
Op cit. “Notice that one song of our souls is not the same as
being cells of the same body…. The former is the harmonious intersection
of souls in a nexus-song; the latter is parts of an organism – partners
versus parts.” Wilber, K. (In press, n. 48). Op cit.
51Sheldrake, R. (2003, pp. 4-5). Op
52See Appendix A in Sheldrake, R. (2003).
53Morphic form, discussed later, is another.
Wilber, K. (In press). Op cit.
54Wilber believes, however, that “some aspects
of the higher dimensions might be truly meta-physical.” Wilber, K. (In
press). Op cit. http://wilber.shambhala.com/html/books/kosmos/excerptG/part1.cfm.
55Unless I have misread the draft of his book,
Wilber’s terminology appears contradictory. He is using the term “subtle
energies” as an overall classification, even though he labels one of the
levels of energy as “subtle energy.”
56“Complexification of gross form is the vehicle of
manifestation for both subtler energies and greater consciousness.”
Wilber, Ken (In press). Op cit. http://wilber.shambhala.com/html/books/kosmos/excerptG/part1.cfm.
57The basis for putting forth this hypothesis
will be explained below, including the section on “Nonlocal
58Wilber, K. (In press). Op cit. http://wilber.shambhala.com/html/books/kosmos/excerptG/part1.cfm.
59Dossey, L. (1997, pp. 175-177). Be
careful what you pray for…you might just get it. San Francisco, CA:
Green, E.E. (1991, June 21-25). Copper wall research
psychology and psychophysics: Subtle energy and energy medicine:
Emerging theory and practice. Proceedings of the first annual
conference, International Society for the Study of Subtle Energies and
Energy Medicine (ISSSEEM). Boulder, CO.
60E.g.: Alexander, C.N., Davies, J.L., &
Orme-Johnson, D.W. (1990). The effects of the Maharishi Technology of
the Unified Field: Reply to a methodological critique. Journal of
Conflict Resolution, 34, 756-768.
Krippner, S. (1992). The Synergy Project: A worthy
enterprise in need of clarification. ICIS FORUM, 22 (2), 9-10.
Peoch, R. (1988). Chicken imprinting and the
tychoscope: An anspi experiment. Journal of the Society for
Psychical Research, 55, 1-9.
61Sheldrake, R. (2003, pp. 10-11). Op
62Sheldrake, R. (1999, p. 302-306). Dogs
that know when their owners are coming home: And other unexplained
powers of animals. New York: Three Rivers Press.
63Murphy, M., & White, R.A. (1978).
The psychic side of sports. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.
64Novak, M. (1976, pp. 135-136). The joy
of sports. New York: Basic Books. Nikolai Bernstein has conducted
some fascinating research. He filmed and analyzed the rhythmic movements
of dancers, by attaching sensors to parts of their bodies. The sensors
revealed that the dancers were moving in waves. Because the movements
could be represented by Fourier transforms (mathematical formulas that
can represent complex patterns including those involved in optical
images, and the relationships between quantum waves via their
interference patterns), Bernstein was able to predict the subsequent
movements of dancers “within a few millimeters.” (Cited in Pribram, K.
H. [1991, p. 137]. Brain and perception: Holonomy and structure in
figural processing. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.)
Reviewing this and other research, Pribram concluded
that our brain communicates with our body via waves and patterns, and
that our senses operate by analyzing frequencies. (Cited in McTaggart,
L. [2002, p. 87]. The field: The quest for the secret force of the
universe. New York: Harper Collins.) This may help explain how
sports participants can anticipate each other’s movements ahead of time,
since the waves may be able to be communicated nonlocally between team
members who have achieved a certain level of resonance. These findings
may also indicate that sense-based communication may be occurring on
non-apparent levels, making extrasensory communication somewhat
ordinary, rather than extraordinary.
65Kenny, R. M. (In press). Creative
collaboration and human development. Op cit.
Kenny, R. M. (1998). Op cit.
66Sheldrake, R. (1999, p. 302). Op
67Sheldrake, R. (1999, p. 302).
68Sheldrake, R. (1999, p. 306).
69Sheldrake, R. (1999, p. 303-304).
70Sheldrake, R. (1999, p. 304).
Sheldrake, R. (1985). A new science of life: The
hypothesis of formative causation (new ed.). London: Blond.
Sheldrake, R. (1988). The presence of the past:
Morphic resonance and the habits of nature. New York: Times Books.
Sheldrake, R. (1992). Note on “Reflections on group
consciousness and synergy.” ICIS FORUM, 22, (2), 11.
Sheldrake, R. (2003). Op cit.
71Sheldrake, R. (1988, p. 221).
72E.g.: Mahlberg, A. (1987). Evidence of
collective memory: A test of Sheldrake’s theory. Journal of Analytic
Psychology, 32, 23-34.
Sheldrake, R. (1999). Op cit.
Abraham, R., McKenna, T., & Sheldrake, R. (2001).
Chaos, creativity and cosmic consciousness. Rochester, VT: Park
Street Press. See also the other works cited here.
73Sheldrake, R. (2003, p. 279). Op
74As with the other aspects of his integrative
classification system, Wilber notes that the number of levels is “rather
arbitrary” – just as you can measure temperature in either a 180-degree
Fahrenheit scale or a 100-degree Celsius scale. Wilber, K. (In press).
Op cit. http://wilber.shambhala.com/html/books/kosmos/excerptG/part1.cfm.
75Wilber, K. (In press). Op cit. http://wilber.shambhala.com/html/books/kosmos/excerptG/part1.cfm.
76Harold Saxon Burr was a Yale physiologist
was one of the first scientists to experimentally detect energy fields.
Others include Motoyama and Tiller.
77E.g., Michael Levin. Their perceptions
essentially match the drawings made by Burr, based upon his instrument
measurements, which depict “typical and important aspects of these
energies.” Wilber, K. (In press). Op cit. http://wilber.shambhala.com/html/books/kosmos/excerptG/part1.cfm.
Benor, D. J. (January, 2004). Fields and energies
related to healing: A review of Soviet and Western studies. The
International Journal of Healing and Caring, On-line, (4), 1, 1-11.
78Wilber, K. (In press). Op cit. http://wilber.shambhala.com/html/books/kosmos/excerptC/intro-1.cfm.
is not a single prehension of a single I, but the shared prehension of
member I’s linked by similar signification and/or tele-prehensions; this
is why neither a we nor an its [the exterior or social forms of a
collective holon] can perceive.” Wilber, K. (In press, n. 34). Op
80Wilber calls this intentional action
“agency”. Wilber, K. (In press). Op cit. http://wilber.shambhala.com/html/books/kosmos/excerptC/intro-1.cfm.
81Wilber believes that “some sort of ‘web’ or
interobjective totality” exists, but considers it a “conception that
enters the prehensive worldspace of only…humans at the ‘yellow’ level in
the values line of development. [Wilber, K. (In press, n. 17). Op
Values and behavior at this level might include: express self to reach
goals and better self and some others, be successful, gain materially,
compete/strive/drive and win/achieve, delegated authority makes
decisions, and self-actualization may take precedence over service.
[Forman, J. (2003). Introduction to integral theory and methodology.
According to Wilber, a worldspace is a shared
“cognitive map of the external world,” which determines the “band of
circumscribed stimuli that can be responded to,” that register, or that
have impact or meaning. The band of stimuli that register becomes deeper
and wider as group members transform and develop. A worldspace is
created, enacted, codetermined, or “disclosed by a particular degree of
shared [common] depth,” by members establishing “an opening in which
similar-depthed holons can manifest to each other, for each other.”
[Wilber, K. (1995, pp. 540-541). Op cit.] If Wilber’s view is
correct, individuals may be able to consistently register each other’s
thought and experience their connection within the web of life when they
develop a certain level on the values and cognitive lines.
82Solidarity comes in two forms.
Vertical solidarity means that two or more holons share a
similar level of consciousness and therefore resonance of depth, which
can form part of the horizontal or cultural solidarity (shared horizons,
in terms of meanings, norms, traditions, etc.) that is required for
mutual understanding. When both forms of solidarity exist, individuals
experience “adequate resonance”, or genuinely overlapping
intersubjectivity. Wilber, K. (In press). Op cit.
“Spirit is the empty center of the agency or subjectivity of all holons,
the nondual Subject that is the ultimate, nonlocal instantaneous ground
of all intersubjectivity. Kosmic solidarity means that we are ultimately
of one culture with all sentient beings, top to bottom
[developmentally], and hence we can, in our varying degrees, resonate
with other sentient beings authentically” (Ibid, n. 55).
83Wilber, K. (In press). Op cit. http://wilber.shambhala.com/html/books/kosmos/excerptC/intro-1.cfm.
“In the present moment, solidarity is also established by
tele-prehension, such as immediate harmonic resonance” (Ibid, n.
84Wilber, K. (In press). Op cit. http://wilber.shambhala.com/html/books/kosmos/excerptG/part1.cfm.
85Wilber, K. (In press). Op cit. http://wilber.shambhala.com/html/books/kosmos/excerptG/part1.cfm.
86McTaggart, L. (2002, p. 164). Op
87Wilber, K. (In press). Op cit. http://wilber.shambhala.com/html/books/kosmos/excerptG/part1.cfm.
88I am going to address only issues of
nonlocality or space in this paper. Solid research also exists regarding
field effects that appear to influence past or future events, and
therefore transcend time. This is a complicated issue and space does not
permit me to consider it. If you wish to read about the relevant
research, please see my paper on the scientific evidence for collective
wisdom at http://www.collectivewisdominitiative.org/.
89Sheldrake, R. (1995, p. 238). Op
90Sheldrake, R. (1995, pp. 80-81).
91Wilson, E. O. (1971, p. 229). The social
insects. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Cited in R.
Sheldrake (1995, pp. 86-88, 231). Op cit.
Marais, E. (1973, pp. 119-120). The soul of the
white ant. Harmondsworth, England: Penguin. It is possible,
however, that sound could travel around the steel plate. The experiments
did not control for this.
92Sheldrake, R. (1995, pp. 80-81). Op
93Wilson, E. O. (1971). Op cit. Cited
in R. Sheldrake (1995, p. 231). Op cit.
94Wilson, E. O. (1971, p. 229).
95Sheldrake, R. (1995, p. 83-84). Op
96Becker, G. (1977). Communications between
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97Sheldrake, R. (1995, p. 86-87). Op
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99Marais, E. (1973, pp. 119-120). Op
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104Sheldrake, R. (2003, pp. ix and 2). Op
105Popp believes that biophoton emissions
explain morphogenesis, the phenomena that Sheldrake and others have
studied. (See McTaggart, L. (2002, p. 47). Op cit. But this may
be true only on a certain levels of matter (e.g., the cellular level),
as discussed elsewhere in this paper, in terms of absolutism in
106Benor, D. J. (January 2004). Op
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108Hameroff, S. R. (1987). Ultimate
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109Microtubules are tiny hollow cylinders made
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110Karl Pribram, Kunio Yasue and Scott
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physics and biology, their results are nonetheless interesting and
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presenting this research. I do not practice TM, nor do I have any
connection to TM groups or the university founded by the Maharishi.
Rather than privilege one meditative technique over another, I tend to
look for the commonalities among them. Although I believe that spiritual
practice is important, the teachers I respect most emphasize other
factors, too, such as honesty and courage in facing whatever we fear.
Nonetheless, the TM research is persuasive and seems to have important
things to tell us about the effects of meditative practice and focused
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194Ibid. (p. 3).
195Ibid. (p. 3).
196Ibid. (p. 4).
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234E.g.: Nelson, R. D., & Mayer, E. L.
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235Nelson, R. D., Bradish, G. J., Dobyns, Y.
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The variables reported in my text are a compilation of observations
reported in L. McTaggart (2002, p. 205). Op cit. New York:
Harper Collins. The verbatim text from the Nelson et al. article is:
“unusually cohesive cognitive interaction, creative enthusiasm, or other
forms of emotional intensity” and “high degrees of attention,
intellectual cohesiveness, shared emotion, or other coherent qualities
of groups.” This would be a good focus for research: when significant
order emerges in the FieldREG data, what do participants report as the
nature of their experience during those moments? In addition,
participants might be given a variation on the devices used in
auditoriums, to measure like-dislike reactions to statements made by
speakers, perhaps asking participants to indicate times they feel a
significant level of cohesion or closeness in the group.
236Nelson, R. D., et al. (1996).
Ibid. Cited in L. McTaggart (2002, p. 203). Op cit.
237See also: Schwartz, G. E. K., Russek, L. G.
S., She, Z., Song, L. Z., & Xin, Y. (1997). Anomalous organization
of random events during an international qigong meeting: Evidence for
group consciousness or accumulated qi fields. Subtle Energies, 8
238Nelson, R. (1997, July). FieldREG
measurements in Egypt: resonant consciousness at sacred sites. PEAR
Technical Note 97002. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University, School
McTaggart, L. (2001, February 2). Interview of Roger
Nelson. Cited in L. McTaggart (2002, p. 206). Op cit.
Nelson, R. D. et al. FieldREGII: consciousness field
effects: replications and explorations. Journal of Scientific
Exploration, 12 (3), 425-454.
239McTaggart, L. (2002, p. 208). Op
Radin, D. (1997, pp. 157-74). Op cit.
Radin, D., Rebman, J. M., & Cross, M. P. (1996).
Anomalous organization of random events by group consciousness: Two
exploratory experiments. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 10,
240Radin, D. (1997, p. 168). Op
241Bierman, D. J. (1996). Exploring
correlations between local emotional and global emotional events and the
behavior of a random number generator. Journal of Scientific
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Blasband, R. (1995, June 15-17). The ordering of
random events by emotional expression. Paper presented to the 14th
Annual Meeting of the Society for Scientific Exploration, Huntington
Nelson, R. D., Bradish, G. J., Dobyns, Y. H., Dunne, B.
J., & Jahn, J. G. (1996). Op cit.
242Bierman, D. J. (1996, p. 373).
243For Teilhard’s exposition regarding the
noosphere, see P. T. de Chardin (1964, pp. 132 & 137-138). The
future of man. New York: Harper & Row.
244Nelson, R. D. (2002). September 11 2001:
Exploratory and contextual analyses. Available: Global
Consciousness Project, http://noosphere.princeton.edu/terror.html.
Data from the EGGs are combined into a Stouffer Z-score for each second
of time. The scores are squared and then added together, to generate a
Chisquare for the whole period studied, which includes time periods
preceding and following the event. The departure of the Chisquare from
chance expectation (randomness, or a horizontal line on the data graph,
representing no clear trend) reflects a correlated response across the
245Nelson, R. D. (2002). Terrorist
disaster: September 11, 2001. Available: Global Consciousness
246Nelson, R., et al. (1998). Global resonance
of consciousness: Princess Diana and Mother Theresa. Electronic
Journal of Parapsychology. Available: http://www.psy.uva.nl/ejap or http://www.princeton.edu/~rdnelson/diana.html.
247Nelson, R. D. (2002, pp. 1-15). Op
248Radin, D. (September 21, 2001, pp. 1-9).
Global consciousness project analysis for September 11, 2001.
Available: Global Consciousness Project, http://noosphere.princeton.edu/dean.wtc0921.html.
Radin, D. (March-May, 2003, pp. 8-13 & 44-45). For
whom the bell tolls: A question of global consciousness. IONS Noetic
249Nelson, R. D. (2002, pp. 10-12). Op
250Shoup, R. (November 6, 2001, pp. 1-8).
EGG anomalies: Comments on the GCP EGG data for September 11, 2001.
Available: Boundary Institute: www.boundaryinstitute.org/articles/EGG_salad.pdf.
251May, E. C., & Spottiswoode, S. J. P.
(2002, pp. 1-18). Global Consciousness Project: An independent
analysis of the 11 September 2001 events. Available: Boundary
252Nelson, R. D. (2002, pp. 14-15). Op
253Nelson, R. D. (2002, p. 1). MUM peace
meditation. Available: Global Consciousness Project, http://noosphere.princeton.edu/mumspeak.html.
254Ibid. (p. 2).
255Ibid. (p. 2).
Nelson, R. D. (2002, p. 8). September 11 2001. Op
256Orme-Johnson, D. (September 1993, p. 6).
Op cit. Personal communication with the study’s author, Lynne
Mason, November 7, 2003. Journal article is in press.
257Radin, D. I., Machado, F. R., &
Zangari, W. (2000). Op cit.
258Rose, S. (1992). So-called formative
causation: A hypothesis disconfirmed. Biology Forum, 85,
Sheldrake, R. (1992a). An experimental test of the
hypothesis of formative causation. Biology Forum, 85, 431-443.
Sheldrake, R. (1992b). Rose refuted. Biology Forum,
259Sheldrake, R. (1988, pp. 189-196). Op
Sheldrake, R. (1999, p. 311). Op cit.
260Crew, F. A. E. (1936, pp. 61-101). A
repetition of McDougall’s Lamarckian experiment. The Journal of
Agar, W. E., et al. (1942, pp. 158-167). Second report
on a test of McDougall’s Lamarckian experiment on the training of rats.
Journal of Experimental Biology, 19.
Agar, W. E., et al. (1954, pp. 307-321). Fourth (final)
report on a test of McDougall’s Lamarckian experiment on the training of
rats. Journal of Experimental Biology, 31.
261Sheldrake, R. (1988). Op cit.
262Laszlo, E. (1995, pp. 133-135). Op
263Ibid (pp. 130-132).
264E.g.: Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1988). Society,
culture and person: A systems view of creativity. In R. Sternberg (Ed.),
The nature of creativity: Contemporary psychological perspectives
(pp. 325-339). New York: Cambridge University Press.
McTaggart, L. (2002, p. 103). Op cit.
Murphy, G. (1958). Human potentialities. New
York: Basic Books.
Tardif, T. Z., & Sternberg, R.J. (1988). What do we
know about creativity? In R. Sternberg (Ed.), The nature of
creativity: Contemporary psychological perspectives (pp. 429-440).
New York: Cambridge University Press.
265Gardner, H. (1988, p. 315). Creative lives
and creative works: A synthetic scientific approach. In R. Sternberg
(Ed.), The nature of creativity: Contemporary psychological
perspectives (pp. 298-321). New York: Cambridge University Press.
266Wilber, K. (In press). Op cit. http://wilber.shambhala.com/html/books/kosmos/excerptG/part1.cfm.
267Wilber, K. (In press). Op cit. http://wilber.shambhala.com/html/books/kosmos/excerptG/part1.cfm.
268McTaggart, L. (2002). Op cit.
269McTaggart, L. (2002, pp. 19-20). Op
cit. Based upon a definition by Barrow, J.D. (2000, p. 216).
The book of nothing. London: Jonathan Cape.
270McTaggart, L. (2002, p. 24). Op
271This movement is reflected in human
creativity, which begins in the realms of inspiration, imagination and
mind and is ultimately manifested in form.
272Wilber, Ken (In press). Op cit. http://wilber.shambhala.com/html/books/kosmos/excerptG/part1.cfm.
273McTaggart, L. (2002, p. 23). Op
274McTaggart, L. (2002, p. xviii). Op
275Through my comments here, I do not intend
to detract from the seminal and significant contribution that Bohm made
in terms of the use of dialogue. His description of how dialogue in
groups can help unearth unexamined, unconscious cultural and familial
conditioning and assumptions, and can lead to the creation of truly
shared meaning (culture) in collectives, is still one of the best
analyses of the power of dialogue to create collective consciousness.
See, for example, D. Bohm & M. Edwards (1991, pp. 177 - 199),
Changing Consciousness. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco.
However, since I am dealing with research in this paper, rather than
group processes, I have not discussed dialogue in the text. Instead,
please see Kenny, R. M., in collaboration with Glover, J. R. (2001).
Op cit. That paper discusses various processes, including
dialogue, for developing collective consciousness. www.collectivewisdominitiative.org/papers/glover_callingout.htm.
276Wilber, Ken (In press). Op cit. http://wilber.shambhala.com/html/books/kosmos/excerptG/part1.cfm.
277Wilber, Ken (In press). Op cit. http://wilber.shambhala.com/html/books/kosmos/excerptG/part1.cfm.
278Dossey, L. (1997). Op cit.
Regarding the suppression of plant growth by a
depressed man, see Grad, B. (1965). Some biological effects of
‘laying-on of hands’: A review of experiments with animals and plants.
Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 59,
279McCraty, R. (2003, p. 12). Op
280I have several responses to the problem of
malicious intent in groups:
1. Anyone who teaches or assists with human
development has an ethical responsibility to screen participants and
to refuse to teach groups who appear irresponsible, selfish, or
malicious in their intent.
2. If a group decides to try to learn how to
influence negatively the well being of others, no one in a free
society can prevent them from doing so. It is therefore incumbent upon
the well-intentioned to use their positive influence as often as
possible, which may offset the effect of those with separative or
3. In fact, a number of groups historically and
currently are likely unconsciously harming others to some degree,
since so many of us engage in limited or negative thinking about
others, through jealousy, envy, competition, exclusion, hatred,
gossip, slander, disrespect, etc. From that perspective, it is
incumbent upon us to help group members become aware of the effects of
their thoughts and wishes and to change their behavior to be
supportive of the well-being of others.
4. Groups intending to increase the well being of
others should request the permission of those who would benefit,
wherever possible. In any event, and especially in those situations
where permission cannot be obtained (such as on a societal level), the
group’s intention should be focused upon the highest or common
5. If you believe that an individual or group is
wishing you harm, you can use certain “shielding strategies” to
protect yourself. (For example, see Larry Dossey’s book, mentioned in
the previous endnote. The effectiveness of these techniques has been
scientifically demonstrated. See:
Braud, W.G. . Blocking/shielding psychic
functioning through psychological and psychic techniques: A report
of three preliminary studies. In R. White & I. Solfvin [Eds.],
Research in Parapsychology. Metuchen, NY: Scarecrow Press,
Braud, W.G., [1990-1991]. Implications and
application of laboratory psi findings. European Journal of
Parapsychology, 8, 57-65.
Braud, W.G., et al. . Further studies of the
bio-PK effect: Feedback, blocking, generality/specificity. Op cit,
Groups should use these resources to not only protect
their members, but to augment their well-being and growth.
All things considered, the potential benefits from
teaching groups and teams how to collaborate on behalf of the common
good are too great and are so critically needed, in m y opinion, that
failure to teach these skills – given the above considerations – would
be unethical and result in a significant overall loss for, and therefore
harm to, society.
281Sheldrake, R. (1999, p. 305). Op
282Kenny, R. (1996). Op cit.
283Koenig, H. G., & Cohen, H. J. (2002).
Murphy, M., Donovan, S., & Taylor, E.
(1997). Op cit.
Health Publica Icon Health Publications (2003). Op
Engel, K. (1998). Op cit.
Schlitz, M., & Lewis, N. (Summer 1997, pp. 34-38).
Walsh, R. (2001). The practices of essential
spirituality. IONS Review, 58.
284For example, see the discussion of
“prajna”, the Buddhist notion of “the open ear, open eye, open mind that
is found in every living being”, in Chodron, Pema (2002). The places
that scare you: A guide to fearlessness in difficult times. Boston,
285Schlitz, M. J., & Honorton, C. (1992).
Ganzfeld psi performance within an artistically gifted population.
The Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 86
286Wilber, Ken (In press). Op cit. http://wilber.shambhala.com/html/books/kosmos/excerptG/part1.cfm.
287Moreover, because gross, subtle and causal
family-energies emerged with the Big Bang, living cells, and triune
brains, respectively, all three come with a baby’s body. Wilber, K. (In
press). Op cit. http://wilber.shambhala.com/html/books/kosmos/excerptG/part1.cfm.
288Wilber, Ken (In press). Op cit. http://wilber.shambhala.com/html/books/kosmos/excerptG/part1.cfm.
289Wilber, K. (2000). Integral psychology:
consciousness, spirit, psychology, therapy. Boston, MA:
290Wilber, K. (In press). Op cit. http://wilber.shambhala.com/html/books/kosmos/excerptG/part1.cfm.
Wilber, K. (2000). Op cit.
291Kenny, R. M. (1996). Op cit.
292Scharmer, C. O. (1999, October 29). The
heart is the key to all of this: Conversation with Joseph Jaworski.
Available: Dialogue on Leadership website http://dialogonleadership.org/interviewJaworski.html.
293Wilber and the Vice President of his
Integral Institute, Bob Richards, are currently developing a set of
research agendas regarding his integral model of human development.
294Brown, J., & Isaacs, D. (1997). The
transpersonal domain in large-scale change. Unpublished working
paper. Mill Valley, CA.
Gozdz, K., Jaworski, J., & Senge, P. M. (1997).
Setting the field: Creating the conditions for profound
institutional change. Unpublished manuscript, Center for
Organizational Learning at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, Cambridge,
Kenny, R.M. (1996). Op cit.
Flowers, B. S., Jaworski, J., Scharmer, C. O., &
Senge, P. (In Press). Presence: Human purpose and the field of the
295For example, see Krippner, S., & Welch,
P. (1992). Op cit.
296E.g., the Achuar and Huaorani tribes of the
Amazon view dreaming as a process that is owned by the group and is a
way to connect with the ancestors and the universe. When members of the
tribe gather to share their dreams each morning, the individual is seen
as the vehicle for life to dialogue with the collective. What can we
learn from their orientation and experience? Or from similar processes
in Western culture, such as the Social Dreaming process that has been
conducted by some members of the A.K. Rice and Tavistock Institutes?
What can we learn from the dream research that has been conducted by
Stanley Krippner and Montague Ullman, e.g., where thoughts were sent and
incorporated in dreams with 84% accuracy, and odds of 250,000 to one
that this had happened by chance.
Broughton, R. S. (1991, p. 98). Op cit.
297In addition to TM practitioners, groups
might include practitioners of the Yan Xin Nine Step Qigong Method. See
Wozniak, J. A., Wu, S., & Wang, H. (1991). Op