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Reimagining the Environment: A Radical New Look at Nature

Professor Gary Schwartz presents an “out of the box” view of the universe. We hope that through this perspective, we can expand our horizons, invigorate our creativity, and be inspired to take new approaches to environmental restoration.

All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force... We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent Mind. This Mind is the matrix of all matter. — Max Planck

Is there light after death?   ©Jonathan Sautter/Pixabay
Is there light after death? ©Jonathan Sautter/Pixabay

In Act One of my life as a scientist, I never questioned my materialistic education until I reached my early forties. I assumed that spiritual theories and experiences reflected a combination of ignorance, superstition, faulty reasoning, and bias.

So much for Act One!

Act Two of my academic career transformed my understanding of nature, the cosmos, and mind itself. I learned that science is taking us to the idea that consciousness is primary in the universe and that logic, observation, and evidence, combined with direct personal experience, are leading us to Max Planck’s thesis that “Mind is the matrix of all matter.”

This marks the first time I have ever used the words nonmaterial reality in a presentation or paper, so I thought I would begin with some insights from the physics of light that speak to the existence of nonmaterial reality.

Today’s postmaterialist knowledge heralds an opportunity for humanity to make a quantum jump...that promises to inspire personal, environmental, and global restoration and evolution.

The Mind-Boggling Properties of Light

Optical scientists observe that, in certain contexts, light behaves as if it is a particle localized in space. In other contexts, light behaves as if it is a wave distributed in space. Scientists observe that in certain states, light appears to have no mass, and in other states, such as at the speed of light, it behaves as if it has a very tiny amount of mass. Scientists also observe that light behaves as if it has energy as well as complex patterns of information (frequencies) over space and time.

In physics, energy is defined as the capacity to do work and overcome resistance. Information is described as abstract (mathematical) patterns in space and time. Neither energy nor information is defined as having mass or being material. In a deep sense, then, photons, energy, and information are conceptually non-material in nature.

In addition, contemporary physics posits the existence of dark energy, estimated to be approximately 68% of the known universe, and dark matter, estimated to be about 27%. Based on these assumptions, 95% of the known universe is dark or imperceptible. Indeed, its existence can only be inferred.

The Case of the North Star

Then there is the even deeper question of the holographic-like nature of photonic information that scientists and philosophers often ignore because it is so mind-boggling.

For example, the North Star can be seen in a cloud-free night sky. The star has been calculated to be anywhere from 323 to 447.6 light-years from Earth. Therefore, patterns of photonic information and energy traveling from the North Star take, let us say, about 434 Earth years to reach us. When we see the North Star, what we are really seeing are patterns of light (patterns of photonic information and energy) that represent the North Star as it was 434 years ago. We are not seeing the material North Star in present time. We are seeing its photonic, info-energy history as it has been “preserved” in the near-vacuum of space. Although the North Star is estimated to have a radius of 35.4 million km (the Earth’s is about 6,400 km), the radius of the photonic patterns that pass through the lenses of our eyes are tiny (less than 1 mm).

Now, let’s imagine ourselves on a football field filled with fifty-four thousand people with normal eyesight simultaneously seeing the North Star. What does this event imply about the existence of multiple North Star patterns existing simultaneously in space and time? The logical implication is that there are at least 108,000 tiny North Star photonic patterns (two eyes per person) simultaneously reaching the football field at any moment (a gross underestimate of the total number).

This nonmaterial nature of individual photonic light patterns strains our imagination as we try to comprehend this deep complexity.

Ponder This

I ask my students to imagine that we are all standing outside and that the photonic patterns that represent each of us are being reflected into space. I remind them that the existence of our photonic patterns in space is a fact established by spy satellites that can clearly “see” us—and that, by definition, can detect our individual photonic patterns in space.

I then ask the students to imagine how many trillions of our individual photonic patterns are spreading out simultaneously and continuously in the “vacuum” of space (places in space having no material mass).

Finally, I ask them to imagine what happens to all this holistic, holographic-like information after a physical star or a physical person dies. They realize that, in principle, it is still there. The individualized photonic info-energy patterns survive.

I end the discussion with a description of the discovery of the cosmic background radiation believed to have been created only a few hundred thousand years after the Big Bang. These historical photonic patterns, present everywhere in the universe, are presumed to be at least 13.7 billion years old, and therefore have a kind of immortality. It is as if the universe is a gigantic photonic (info-energy) memory storage system. I raise the question: Could the universe appear to be expanding to make room for all this emerging historical information and energy?

Other questions come to mind: Is it possible that every “thing” that ever was continues its existence in some sustained, evolving, info-energy way? Is it possible that every “thing” that has ever existed has a nonmaterial, info-energy “afterlife” and that this survival potential is built into the fabric of the universe, as expressed in the essence of light itself? Does this mean that contemporary science allows for, and even predicts, the survival of consciousness after physical death, or what has been historically called soul? And can we ponder what kind of Extraordinary Mind would be required to create such an extraordinary, photonic, quantum field–like universe?

As one of the fathers of quantum mechanics, Niels Bohr, said, “If quantum mechanics hasn’t profoundly shocked you, you haven’t understood it yet.”

The take-home message: As strange as the known properties of light and quantum mechanics are, they only hint at the inherent extraordinariness of the greater, nonmaterial reality.

What Survival-of-Consciousness Research Is Teaching Us

Let’s turn now to examples of what I have learned about nonmaterial reality as revealed through contemporary life-after-death research.

Many areas of research today contribute evidence that supports the survival-of-consciousness hypothesis, including near-death research, past lives research, laboratory experiments with documented evidential mediums, and laboratory experiments employing state-of-the-art ultraweak-signal–detecting hardware and software. Reviews of this research can be found in the references.

Here are four extraordinary insights from survival-of-consciousness research:

  1. Certain “deceased” individuals—whom we now refer to as postmaterial persons (PMPs)—not only deeply care about the bridging of nonmaterial and material realities but are active, postmaterial collaborators (PMCs) in this research.

  2. When evidential research mediums request PMCs to appear at spontaneous meetings, PMCs see it as their responsibility to show up, and unless they indicate otherwise, virtually always do.

  3. The evidence indicates that PMCs’ “travel” from their nonmaterial reality to our material reality at the “speed of thought.” There are numerous instances where PMC behavior in nonmaterial reality is less constrained than our behavior in material reality.

  4. PMPs are typically perceived by evidential mediums to be as they historically appeared on the Earth (in terms of size, shape, features, clothing, etc.). Consequently, they can be recognized by loved ones. Moreover, PMPs can produce physical-like effects on physical sensors—at greatly reduced, ultraweak levels—whether the sensors involve scientific precision instruments or sensitive commercial devices.

When controlled experiments involving mediumship and technology are considered as a whole, the findings strongly point to the nonmaterial reality of hypothesized PMPs. However, as required by skeptics in the scientific community, we have been developing a system for conducting multi-experimenter, multi-center, multi-blinded, randomized control trials to further investigate hypothetical spirit presence and communication. Large-scale, dual-center validation experiments have already been completed and submitted for publication in a mainstream journal.

Evidence for a Universal Source Mind Playing a Role in Human Life

If a nonmaterial/greater reality exists, with mind at its core, then it follows that this nonmaterial Universal (Source) Mind should be able to influence the minds within it, including human minds. Consequently, if the Universal Mind so chooses, it can subtly influence our choices and decisions to create complex patterns of human activities, both in series (one after another) and in parallel (at the same time). Examples of complex serial and parallel human events and processes include the composing of symphonies and the programming of complex computer software.

Mathematical and statistical analyses confirm that such complex patterns of serial-parallel events cannot be achieved through random processes, especially when the limits of time are considered. In my 2017 book Super Synchronicity: Where Science and Spirit Meet, I provide arguably definitive evidence for the existence in real life of supercomplex serial coincidences or synchronicities that cannot be explained by randomness, faulty data collection, or conventional physical forces or events. The totality of the evidence supports the humorous statement attributed to Yogi Berra that “Some things are too coincidental to be a coincidence.”

Ancient wisdom, together with survival-of-consciousness and synchronicity science, provides not only new inspiration and hope for humanity but practical advice and collaboration from experienced and wise minds living in the Greater Reality, not to mention that of the One Mind itself.

Today’s postmaterialist knowledge heralds an opportunity for humanity to make a quantum jump from mind and consciousness to metaconsciousness—extending from our experiences of the material world to nonmaterial reality and to the Source itself—a jump that promises to inspire personal, environmental, and global restoration and evolution.



  1. Dossey, Larry. One Mind: How Our Individual Mind Is Part of a Greater Consciousness and Why It Matters. Carlsbad, CA: Hay House, 2014.

  2. Sarraf, Matthew, Michael A. Woodley of Menie, and Patrizio Tressoldi. “Anomalous Information Reception by Mediums: A Meta-Analysis of the Scientific Evidence.” EXPLORE: The Journal of Science and Healing, July 3, 2020. doi:10.1016/j.explore.2020.04.002.

  3. Schwartz, Gary E. “A Computer-Automated, Multi-Center, Randomized Control Trial Evaluating Hypothesized Spirit Presence and Communication.” EXPLORE: The Journal of Science and Healing, 2021 (in press).

  4. ———. “Contemporary Evidence for Communication with the Departed and the Sacred.” In Human Interaction with the Divine, the Sacred, and the Deceased: Psychological, Scientific, and Theological Perspectives, edited by Thomas Plante and Gary E. Schwartz. New York: Routledge, 2021 in press.

  5. ———. “Photonic Measurement of Apparent Presence of Spirit Using a Computer Automated System.” EXPLORE: The Journal of Science and Healing 7 (2011): 100–109.

  6. ———. “Possible Application of Silicon Photomultiplier Technology to Detect the Presence of Spirit and Intention: Three Proof-of-Concept Experiments.” EXPLORE: The Journal of Science and Healing 6 (2010): 166–171.

  7. ———. Super Synchronicity: Where Science and Spirit Meet. Cardiff-by-the-Sea, CA: Waterside Digital Press, 2017.

  8. ———. The Sacred Promise: How Science Is Discovering Spirit's Collaboration with Us in Our Daily Lives. Hillsboro, OR: Atria Books/Beyond Words, 2011.

  9. Schwartz, Rhonda E. Love Eternal: Extraordinary Personal and Scientific Evidence for Life after Death. 2nd ed. Vancouver, BC: Param Media, 2016.

  10. Schwartz, Stephan A., Woollacott, Marjorie H., and Schwartz, Gary E., eds. Is Consciousness Primary? Battle Ground, WA: AAAP Press, 2020.

  11. Tucker, Jim B., and F. Don Nidiffer. “Psychological Evaluation of American Children Who Report Memories of Previous Lives.” Journal of Scientific Exploration 28, no. 4 (2014): 583–594.

  12. Van Lommel, Pirn, Ruud Van Wees, Vincent Meyers, and Ingrid Elfferich. “Near-Death Experience in Survivors of Cardiac Arrest: A Prospective Study in the Netherlands.” The Lancet 358, no. 9298 (2001): 2039–2045.


*Gary E. Schwartz, PhD, is a Professor of Psychology, Medicine, Neurology, Psychiatry, and Surgery at the University of Arizona, and director of its Laboratory for Advances in Consciousness and Health. After receiving his PhD from Harvard University in 1971, he was an assistant professor at Harvard University and then served as a Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry at Yale University and was director of the Yale Psychophysiology Center before moving to the University of Arizona in 1988.


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