¿Qué es un fantasma?
– Un evento terrible condenado a repetirse una y otra vez, un instante de dolor, quizá; algo muerto que parece por momentos vivo aún, un sentimiento, suspendido en el tiempo, como una fotografía borrosa, como un insecto atrapado en ámbar.
Un fantasma, eso soy yo. (“El espinazo del diablo”, 2001)
What is a ghost?
–A terrible event, condemned to repeat itself again and again; an instant of pain, perhaps; something dead that seems at times alive again, a feeling, suspended in time, like a blurry photograph, like an insect trapped in amber. A ghost–that is what I am. (“The Devil’s Backbone”, 2001)
A ghost: a hologram extending outward in time and space from the Implicate Order; a consciousness emerging from the Spiritual into the material. There is much more to say, so please be patient; I will continue to define the ghost, but there is some background information you will need to understand what a discarnate entity truly is. For the moment, allow me to introduce Michael Talbot (unless you read the previous post, in which case you already know who he is):
Michael Talbot’s The Holographic Universe (1992) has become a classic in popular science. Although Talbot was a “science writer” and not an actual, practicing scientist, he understands his subject on a deep level. He bases his theories on the work of physicist David Bohm and neurophysiologist Karl Pribram, who both—independently of each other, in different fields—came to espouse holographic models of the universe and our perception of reality. As Talbot states, “. . . there is evidence to suggest that our world and everything in it. . . are also only ghostly images, projections from a level of reality so beyond our own it is literally beyond both space and time.”
Of course, I jump on the “level of reality beyond our own” and want to know, exactly, what that is; and, because of the way I think, I have to ask that question first. Talbot doesn’t really venture an answer to that question until the end of the book. Clearly, however, we have seen this line of thought before: Plato’s cave, dualism in philosophy, structuralism in language and almost every religion on the planet. The idea that the reality that we perceive is either a copy, an imitation, or a hologram of a deeper, “authentic” reality is an ancient idea receiving new attention from writers on science (mostly quantum physics), medicine, psychology and a smattering of other social sciences. I admire the cross-disciplinary approach to something as fundamental as the nature of reality; however, I remain unsure about the conclusions.
What I don’t think that I understand very well is how the latest revelations into consciousness affecting the material world translate into a “deeper order” of reality. The placebo effect, the psi effect, mind-body healing, evidence for reincarnation, the relationship between the observer and the observed that skews the results of experiments in quantum physics: all of these documented and well-studied realities of human consciousness lead one to believe that we are creating—or at least, participating actively—in the creation of the “real”, of ourselves, our identities, our futures and the fate of everything around us. The fact that consciousness itself seems to be everywhere and does not appear to vanish upon the death of the material body leads me to unsettling conclusions: if my body is simply an expression of my consciousness, how will I—or anyone—be able to understand myself after death as a separate, yet intimately connected, spirit in/of the universe? It all seems so vague, so transcendental, so . . . religious. Am I a living hologram embedded in a deeper reality? Am I a spirit in a body? Am I pure consciousness expressing itself in one particular incarnation, preparing itself for the next? Am I a soul? Is my body simply a receiver of the frequencies that express it? Is material reality an illusion? Is form so mutable and transient that there is no point identifying with it at all? To all the above, apparently, the answer is “yes”.
Now, of course, the left brain sneers and spits on the ground at this point (if half a brain could spit), exclaiming that all of the above is the wishful thinking or the cultural repression of the spiritual elite, seeking to distract us from a miserable material reality whose pre-eminence can be defined and explained by a word like “cancer” (and here, I am thinking of Talbot himself) or “heart failure.” Try explaining all of this to someone who is dying, and see what happens. The material is everything to someone who has lost control of the disease process; it’s nice that some people can heal themselves through guided imagery, but what about all of those in the world that fail in that effort and die anyway? Are those people spiritual failures? How did Talbot come to understand his disease? Was he at peace with the fate of his material body? Could his own imminent demise have inspired, in part, this last book that he wrote?
Michael Talbot died in 1992 at the age of 38 from leukemia, in the midst of the AIDS epidemic which took away many of his friends; he therefore was well acquainted with death and the reality of loss. Talbot’s book—and others I have read in a similar vein—does not deny death or the fact of dissolution of the material body and all forms of matter surrounding us, far from it; cancer, AIDS, Parkinson’s, accidents, etc. may have death as the outcome. In any case, none of us materially survive this physical existence. For Talbot and others, it’s not about when or how you shed your material shell, it’s about the nature of consciousness itself and how it not only survives your body, it is not a function of that body. It does not originate in the “material” at all, but is only expressed by it. We have presented (on prior soulbank posts) the evidence for such an assertion, (near-death experiences, children’s past lives, past-life regression, mediumship, psychokinesis, clairvoyance, shamanism, and more) but what IS new here is the idea that EVERYTHING is a holographic projection: your body, your cancer, your cat, your right hand, your rose bush, your brain, the pile of leaves in your yard, your yard, the dirt, the worms; all material reality.
This goes back to particles traveling beyond the speed of light, to the reality that on the most fundamental level of creation particles are interconnected so that what happens to one immediately affects the other. If we had no evidence that this process happens on a larger scale, perhaps we would have to scale down our expectations; however, we have an abundance of data indicating that this actually does occur. Here is Talbot summarizing one of Karl Pribram’s main findings regarding the holographic nature of the brain:
“The question that began to bother him was, If the picture of reality in our brains is not a picture at all but a hologram, what is it a hologram of? The dilemma posed by this question is analogous to taking a Polaroid picture of a group of people sitting around a table and, after the picture develops, finding that, instead of people, there are only blurry clouds of interference patterns positioned around the table. In both cases one could rightfully ask, Which is the true reality, the seemingly objective world experienced by the observer/photographer or the blur of interference patterns recorded by the camera/brain?” (31)
This issue led Pribram to David Bohm, who posited that the entire universe was holographic in nature. There is an “implicate” order of things, a kind of matrix where everything is “enfolded,” and an “explicate” order of reality where material forms emerge (“unfold”) into the world as we perceive it. An electron, for example, is not a separate, discreet “thing” that we are observing, but part of the implicate order that emerges when we call it into being and submerges again into the implicate when we cease to create it through observation. Thus, “when an instrument detects the presence of a single electron it is simply because one aspect of the electron’s ensemble has unfolded, similar to the way an ink drop unfolds out of the glycerin, at that particular location. When an electron appears to be moving it is due to a continuous series of such unfoldments and enfoldments.” (47) So: how we interact with the electron determines where, when and how it “unfolds” from the implicate order. If the universe is ordered holographically (all parts contain the whole), concepts such as ‘location’ and ‘time’ are useless. Talbot employs the metaphor of a fountain’s geysers as not separate from the water out of which they flow. He also states that electrons—all sub-atomic particles—are not “particles” at all, but “just a name given to a certain aspect of the holomovement”. (48)
If you’re head isn’t swimming by now, then you don’t grasp the bizarre reality flip that has occurred here. There are no “parts”, no fragments, no separate individuals, no discreet material objects; therefore, whenever we categorize, make distinctions, engage in binary thinking (‘sick’, ‘well’, ‘alive’, ‘dead’, ‘good’, ‘bad’, etc.) we are lost in the false images that the material world makes us believe through the trickery of our perceptions. Cancer, then, is an unfolding of a process that is not differentiated from ‘non’ cancer, or more accurately, ‘cancer’ does not exist as a category in the implicate order. The material world is constantly in flux and not based in any kind of ‘ultimate’ reality.Can we control the material, physical world? It may be a “holographic” reality, but for most of us, it’s the only reality we know. What I can’t fathom is how we might move past the material world to Ultimate Reality. Is it a matter of belief? Of faith? Can we change the hologram? Can we shift our consciousness to a parallel universe, occupy an alternate space? The suggestion offered is that through prayer, mediation, and the practice of separating the consciousness from the body, we can indeed alter the material reality which we only appear to occupy. Again, we are back to the spiritual tenents of many religions, most of which advocate the above practices as a way to understand and contemplate the Divine.
Now, finally, we have the explanation for what a “ghost” is. Like the sub-atomic particles that manifest when observed, a ghost appears when our consciousness interacts with it. A ghost is an intact consciousness that “unfolds” from the implicate order, when we call upon it to do so, whether consciously or unconsciously. Something “binds” a ghost to the material world, and that is will: either the will of the immaterial spirit or our will to see it or experience it, but more probably a combination of both. A ‘ghost’ might wish to manifest in the material world because it has yet to see his connection with the implicate order, and is therefore willing and able to separate from it. Once a ghost ‘unfolds’ in our world, it has become separate, disconnected from its source. That may explain the sadness and confusion of the ghost: it has irrevocably ‘forgotten’ the Spritual Order from whence all matter derives. Talbot refers to ‘habits’ that create rules and laws, even the laws of physics, and the following could certainly be applied to ‘ghosts’:
“. . . the ability of consciousness to shift from one entire reality to another suggests that the usually inviolate rule that fire burns human flesh may only be one program in the cosmic computer, but a program that has been repeated so often it has become one of nature’s habits. As has been mentioned, according to the holographic idea, matter is also a kind of habit and is constantly born anew out of the implicate, just as the shape of a fountain is created anew out of the constant flow of water that gives it form. Peat humorously refers to the repetitious nature of this process as one of the universe’s neurosis. ‘When you have a neurosis you tend to repeat the same pattern in your life, or do the same action, as if there’s a memory build up and the thing is stuck with that,’ he says. ‘I tend to think things like chairs and tables are like that also. They’re a sort of material neurosis, a repetition. But there is something subtler going on, a constant enfolding and unfolding. In this sense chairs and tables are just habits in this flux, but the flux is the reality, even if we tend only to see the habit.’ ” (137)
A consciousness stuck in repeat is indeed victim of a habit; the habit of occupying material space. We are used to the idea of a spirit repeating itself in the material world as defining the problem of the ghost (at least, paranormal researchers are), but the idea that all material reality is stuck in a repetition is a bit harder to grasp or accept. If the reality we perceive is stuck in the same ‘habit’ of appearing as solid when it is truly part of the larger ‘flux’, then we are no different from the ghost: living humans and spirit humans are simply variations in the frequency patterns that constitute perception. The distinction “living” and “not living” doesn’t apply here, either. The only difference between ghosts and “us” is simply this: we have different frequency patterns. We are just variations in an energy theme. The material and spiritual all come from the same implicate order, and ultimately there is no difference between us. Once a ghost takes material form, he is no longer any different from us; our desire and will to interact with him or her creates the communication and defines the experience.
Time, chronology, is a complete illusion in the holographic universe. There exist several holograms in the implicate order (or, if you prefer, “spiritual” order, for I do not see the difference) that contain various outcomes for one’s destiny in the material. This can also be understood as parallel universes or other dimensions. The past, present and future are all contained in and expressed by the spiritual, or implicate, order. Or, if you prefer, there are infinite worlds with infinite outcomes for all of us. Some come into being, others do not, some morph into each other, some create a rift where we can see the future or experience the past as present; a great deal of what we call “psychic phenomena” can be understood this way. Clairvoyance may simply be the ability to see into another hologram, where everything that is going to happen has already happened. The ghost, of course, is out of time; it could well be that what we consider the ghost is really the living consciousness of a material human from a side dimension to ours, or an inhabitant of a different hologram who escaped it through a rift or shift in the fabric of time/space, or a spiritual being from a higher order that we only see in the brief moments when we are confronted by the Uncanny. Words, indeed, fail me. Words, of course, fragment reality into artificial and unreal representations of lived reality. Writing cannot convey the spiritual order in any meaningful way, but perhaps can—at the very least—give one the conceptual framework from which to formulate one’s own theories, or arrive at one’s own epiphany.
But you don’t need to rely on epiphanies. Read the book. Then read more books. You will see that in all the ways we study reality, there is one common theme: reality, as you understand it, is infinitely bigger, more complex and contains more possibilities for consciousness than you can imagine; but try, try anyway. The next time you see a ghost, you can say, with all certainty:
A ghost. That is what I am.
–Kirsten A. Thorne, Ph.D.