There is more to the universe than bits of matter moving about following the classical laws of mechanistic cause and effect in otherwise empty and passive space. Cutting-edge scientists now understand the ‘non-locality’ of quanta, the coherence of the cosmos, the connection between organisms and environments, and the transpersonal connections between the consciousnesses of different human beings, revealing that there is not only matter and energy configuring and evolving in space and time, but also a more subtle yet real element: active and effective ‘information’. Information connects all things through space and time. Interactions in the domains of Nature as well as of mind are mediated by a fundamental information-field in the universe. This is the new reality.

At the beginning of the 20th century, Nikola Tesla, the father of modern communication technologies, spoke of an “original medium” that fills space and compared it to akasha, the light-carrying ether. He wrote that since this medium fills all of space, everything that takes place in space can be referred to it. Curved space, he said, which was put forward at the time by Einstein, is not the answer. However, physicists adopted Einstein’s mathematically elaborated four-dimensional curved space-time and, with the exception of a few maverick theoreticians, refused to consider any concept of a space-filling ether, medium, or force field. Tesla’s insight fell into oblivion. Today it is revived and a small but growing group of scientists is rediscovering the role of information in Nature, and locating Nature’s information-field in the quantum vacuum – the much discussed if as yet imperfectly understood energy-sea that fills cosmic space.

According to Apollo astronaut Edgar Mitchell, the quantum vacuum is the holographic information mechanism that records the historical experience of matter. How could the cosmic quantum vacuum convey the “historical experience of matter”? We can illustrate the seemingly complex answer to this question with a simple metaphor.

Let us consider the interconnections created by the sea. A moment’s reflection tells us that the waves produce a real, even if temporary, connection between the vessels, fish and other objects that generated them. When a ship travels on the sea’s surface, waves spread in its wake. These waves affect the motion of other ships, and vessels that are entirely immersed in the sea affect things not only on the surface, but also above and below. A submarine, for example, creates subsurface waves that propagate in every direction. Another submarine – and every fish, whale, or object in the sea – is exposed to these waves and is in a sense shaped, ‘in-formed’ by them.

When many things move simultaneously in the sea, and in any ‘plastic’ medium, that medium becomes modulated: full of waves that intersect and interfere. This is what happens when several ships ply the sea’s surface. If we view the sea from a height on a calm day we can see the traces of ships that passed hours before on that stretch of water. We can also see how the traces intersect and create complex patterns. The modulation of the sea’s surface by the ships that disturb it carries information on the ships that created the disturbance. This has practical applications: one can deduce the location, speed, and even the tonnage of the vessels by analysing the resulting wave-interference patterns.

As fresh waves superimpose on those already present, the sea becomes more modulated – it carries more and more information. On calm days its surface remains modulated for hours, and sometimes for days. The wave-patterns that persist are the memory of the ships that moved about on that stretch of water. If wind, gravity and shorelines did not cancel these patterns, this memory would persist indefinitely. But wind, gravity and shorelines do come into play, and sooner or later the sea’s memory dissipates.

The sea is a good analogy of the cosmic field that underlies all of space-time: the unified field. The unified field is the integral concept of the quantum vacuum, the concept that emerges in the latest grand-unified and super-grand-unified theories. It is the field that includes not only the mysterious zero-point energies, but all of Nature’s fields and forces. The waves emitted by objects propagate in the unified field, and create complex patterns of interference. These patterns carry information. As the waves merge, the information they carry is not overwritten, for the waves superpose one on the other. As in a hologram, the information carried by the superposing waves is everywhere throughout the recording medium, which in the case of the unified field extends throughout cosmic space. Hence the unified field conveys information and thus interconnects all things with all other things.

The finding that the unified field is not only a superdense field of incessantly fluctuating energies but also a cosmic information-field recalls the ancient concept of akasha. Originally signifying ‘radiation’ or ‘brilliance’, in Indian philosophy akasha was considered the first and most fundamental of the five elements – the others being vata (air), agni (fire), ap (water), and prithivi (earth). Akasha embraces the properties of all five elements: it is the womb from which everything we perceive with our senses has emerged and into which everything will ultimately re-descend. The Akashic Record is the enduring memory of all that happens, and has ever happened, in the whole of the universe.

Many people have had and are having ‘akasha experiences’. My latest book includes first-hand reports by twenty well-known and highly reputed scientists, scholars and artists on their mind- and life-transforming akasha experiences. I began having akasha experiences in my twenties, while I was a professional concert pianist. My mind was free to explore everything that emerged in my consciousness while I was playing. Sometimes I had a spontaneous insight, often while performing in public. In the so-called white-dream state that precedes waking up fully, a review of the problems that occupied my mind during the day can also trigger this intuitive insight. Fresh ideas appear, suggesting creative solutions to puzzling problems.

Gradually, over a period of years, the ideas that appeared to be right and true cohered into a new concept of the world. This was the concept of an organic and dynamic world, where all things are linked with all other things, and all evolve together to higher forms of complexity, harmony and wholeness. I am and have been for some time intuitively certain that everything that has ever happened in the universe remains present in some way; nothing is entirely evanescent. I believe that the experience of the unified information- and memory-field is the ground that underlies genuine insight and creativity in all domains of human endeavour, the scientific as well as the artistic, the technological as well as the spiritual. We all need to have akasha experiences in these critical times, to help us recover our sense of wholeness as individuals, and our sense of belonging to each other, and to the whole web of life on this planet. •

The Akashic Experience: Science and the Cosmic Memory Field by Ervin László is published by Inner Traditions.

Ervin László is a Hungarian philosopher of science, a systems theorist, an integral theorist, and a classical pianist. He has published over seventy-five books and is editor of World Futures: The Journal of General Evolution.