"Subtle energy" refers to the medium through which consciousness acts on the realm of matter and energy. According to a National Institutes of Health study, at least 52 terms are used for "subtle energy": chi, prana, holy spirit, manna, ether, orgone, biomagnetism and zeropoint, among many others in our current vocabulary. Regardless of the label, it appears to contribute to many phenomena not currently explained by conventional science: telekinesis, remote sensing, telepathy, gut or heartbased intuition, healing by prayer or other psychic means, biocommunication between species, etc.
Since these phenomena have tangible effects that can be documented but not explained by the known principles of the electromagnetic (E/M) field of matter/energy, they require that we hypothesize another force through which conscious intent acts on the affected objects, senses and cells.
Some researchers believe a fuzzy part of the electromagnetic spectrum, beyond gamma rays, constitutes this force but that it has not yet been discovered due to the lack of refined instrumentation. Just as the harnessing of radio waves and Xrays had to await the development of new technologies, say these researchers, the development of more advanced machines will enable humans to make use of this fuzzy E/M field.
Others, including myself, work on the hypothesis that this force/field exists in correspondence but parallel to the E/M spectrum and may not have the constraints of that spectrum, such as the speed of light. More elaboration on the implications of this hypothesis for theory - David Bohm and other physicists' concepts of nonlocal fields of energy or information - and research - spacebased experiments that challenge the speedoflight limitations on the transfer of information - comes in subsequent articles. Here we focus on the work of one subtle energy researcher: Cleve Backster.
Backster's work in the late '60s and early '70s was an important impetus for the best selling The Secret Life of Plants by Peter Tompkins and Christopher Bird. In the '80s, his work was chronicled by Robert Stone in The Secret Life of Your Cells. His research journey started with the 1966 almost accidental rediscovery that plants are sentient and respond to the spontaneous emotions and strongly expressed intentions of relevant humans. (J. Chandra Bose of India had demonstrated a similar principle in the early part of the 20th century.) Using an instrument to measure galvanic skin responses (GSR), a part of his polygraph or lie detector stockintrade, Backster attempted to determine whether it would measure the moment of rehydration of a plant whose roots were freshly watered. It did not but to his surprise, the GSR meter registered his threat to burn the plant leaf when he spontaneously thought of the idea.
(Prior to that experience, Backster was noted as one of the foremost experts in the use and interpretation of the results of the polygraph test. Over the last 30 years he has maintained that reputation, and enhanced it. (In fact, his refinements on previous polygraph techniques have earned him a worldwide reputation; they have been validated by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab.) His mastery of the theory and practice has benefited thousands of specialists who have participated in or learned from the principles taught in his San Diegobased Backster School of Lie Detection. He now serves as an advisor or faculty member for several research and educational institutions. These extraordinary professional credentials are important because the same scientific acumen and experimental rigor are applied to his research (observed by me during several days of lab work with Cleve in February 1998) on what he calls "Primary Perception" and others call "The Backster Effect.")
Subsequent to his accidental discovery, an amazing series of experiments demonstrated that the expression of genuine emotion and intent by humans caused measurable reactions (primary perception) in the cells of leaves, fruits, and vegetables. They also reacted to behaviors or changes in states of animals and insects. Conversely, in what Backster labeled "fainting," plants ceased their normal functioning when horrific treatment (burning, scalding, and chemical destruction) was continued on the parallel materials or when the presence of hostile individuals was introduced into the lab. This reaction seems to correspond to Shock Syndrome in humans. More detailed protocols demonstrated that plants possess some discriminatory capability, making them capable of distinguishing individuals who have either destroyed related plants or have very positive intentions; they seem to know who has the sentiments to become a "green thumb."
Experiments with leukocytes (white cells) indicated that a bond of communication exists between an individual's thoughts/emotions and his cells after they are removed from the donor's body. Backster collects cells from the mouth of a donor through a standard clinical procedure, connects them to the electrodes/meter apparatus, and measures their reactivity to the donor's emotional shifts. These shifts can be caused by the donor's voluntary initiatives or their involuntary reactions to events or images such as observed in photographs or movies. Splitscreen videography of the donor's behaviors and the metered responses of the cell cultures, when other causal or random influences are ruled out, demonstrates some form of communication.
Using a Faraday cage and lead containers to shield the plant, eggs or yogurt used to sense the biocommunication, his experiments appear to rule out the E/M spectrum as the medium of transmission. Tests done with a distance of over three hundred miles between a donor of white cells and the lab indicates the communication bond is not affected by distance. The action and reaction appear to be simultaneous, like the splitpair photon experiments by physicists that show one half of the pair reacts instantaneously to actions taken on the other.
Over the last thirty years literally hundreds of experiments have proved the existence of this biocommunication known as the "Backster Effect." My own personal participation in one of these experiments left me without a doubt that a culture of yogurt in a shielded cage showed extraordinary reactions to feeling that were stirred up in me and two female colleagues as we discussed controversial gender and power issues. Interestingly, the yogurt did not react to periods of intellectual discussion about the same issues; it only became agitated when our comments were charged with emotion.
On the basis of this brief review, two characteristics of "subtle energy" communication are clear:
It happens only when behaviors, thoughts or talk are based in emotions or serious intent. Words or ideas per se do not elicit a reaction unless they have been energized by some force, such as "subtle energy."
Some process of prior attunement between the sender and the receiver is necessary for the communication link; some higher level of awareness or, at least, frequency resonation is apparently involved.
While we do yet understand the full nature of the communication involved, nor the qualities of the medium, some implications emerge from Backster's research.
The demonstration of "subtle energy" communication supports the morphogenic field concept postulated by Rupert Sheldrake and others, where an intent-laden force field is transmitted from some beings to others through an as yet unknown medium.
The reactions occur at the instant of expression of intent, not when a preset test is administered, thereby requiring a rethinking of scientific protocols related to the replication of experiments in the area of psi research.
The existence of interspecies communication at this level demonstrates the singular and, apparently, universal nature of consciousness.
The medium involves the apparent existence of a force that can transfer intentions into changes in the physical realm.
These implications alone lead to new hypotheses and experiments for better understanding of the power of innersense communication, healing prayer, self healing, and the dynamics of interpersonal hostility and attraction. They suggest practices for interbeing openness and protection. Such directions will be explored in more detail in subsequent articles.