LIFE FORCE, The Scientific Basis



The Unification of Science and Spirit

The “Life Force” is central to many forms of energy healing, such as Reiki and Qigong . It is the energy which flows in the acupuncture  system of the body, and is basic to alternative medicine. In Traditional Chinese medicine it is called chi (or “Qi,” both pronounced “chee”). In Hindu Ayurvedic medicine it is called “prana.” In other cultures it has been called od, orgone, bioplasma, bioenergy, biogravity, and many other names. In the West today it is often called “subtle energy.”  It is believed to respond to and interact with consciousness. In fact, it may be the essence of consciousness itself.

 Recent scientific discoveries are proving that this ancient, almost mythological, energy is actually very real. Its effects have been measured in the laboratory. It constitutes a fifth force which has been overlooked by Western physics. It explains many of the puzzling phenomena which have baffled science, including long range healing, paranormal phenomena, and even anomalies in cosmology such as “dark energy XE "dark energy" ” and “dark matter XE "dark matter" .”


It is the “building energy,” which reverses entropy, brings order out of chaos, and makes life possible. It has led to explicit equations, experiments, patents and inventions, and has advanced from speculation to concrete reality as a genuine scientific revolution. It creates a bridge between the old paradigm of space-time and a new higher dimensional reality, which leads to a new model of consciousness and a potential unification of science and spirituality.

 In this far-reaching and comprehensive book, the scientific evidence for the Life Force and its characteristics are described as they relate to healing, life processes, materials science, sacred geometry , sacred sites, quantum physics, and emerging new technologies. This book takes the next step in expanding physics to include subtle energy and the science of consciousness.

 Personal History

As a young boy growing up in Virginia, I used to look up at the stars with wonder. They seemed so bright and close. If you lie on your back in the grass it feels as though you can almost touch them. Growing up close to nature raised many questions for me. How does the universe work? Where do we come from? What is this connection we feel to the stars? I wanted to understand. In High School when I started a personal journal I named it “Why?”

I remember a simple experiment I did in those days. Standing under the stars at night, I would spin around. My arms were pulled up from my sides as the stars appeared to spin above me. This is the familiar effect we call centrifugal force. But I noticed that it only happens when the stars above appear to be spinning. I wondered even then, “Is there a connection between the distant stars and the forces we feel here on earth?” To me as a child, there was a sense that things are connected. I wanted to understand how it all worked.

Pursuing my curiosity, I went to MIT and earned a degree in physics. There I learned that this same idea of connection had been proposed by the German philosopher Ernst Mach. Einstein had been impressed with this concept, and tried to include it in his theory of gravity. However, when the theory was finished, his model predicted that a universe with no stars would still have centrifugal force. So the deep connection between distant matter and forces here on earth was still missing.

I continued my education at Princeton University, where I earned a Ph. D. in physics. I worked in the Gravity Group there, which uses new technology to explore the deep structure of the cosmos. Although I studied with some brilliant minds and learned the physics that was available at the time, many unanswered questions still troubled me.

For example, even today physics has one theory for phenomena at the very small scales, called  quantum physics, and a different theory for large scale things like galaxies and the Universe itself. It is called General Relativity. These are very different theories. Despite almost a hundred years of intense work, they have never really been combined into the long sought “unified field theory.” Such a theory would connect the small scale with the large scale. It made me wonder if perhaps there is some missing concept which is needed before this unification can occur, before the “final theory” is discovered.

This incomplete aspect of physics also shows up in the many things that physics cannot explain. There are really fundamental quantities, such as the charge on the electron, that it seems physics should be able to calculate. Yet it cannot (but see: Wyler, 1972). No one can predict what it should be based on accepted theory. They have to use the measured value. This seemed to me to be another sign that physics is still missing some unifying concepts.

There was also the troubling aspect of the vacuum. In physics, the vacuum of space is a very important subject. According to quantum physics, it is far from empty. It is filled with energy. This is called the Zero Point Energy. If you try to calculate how much energy is there, you get enormous values. In fact, the problem was that you would often get infinity for your answer! I was told, “Don’t worry about it. Just subtract it out!” I learned to do this, but I wondered, what else are we throwing out when we subtract out such a huge amount of energy?

In many ways it seemed to me that the vacuum was precisely where the connection between the distant stars and the small particles of quantum physics came together. All those particles out there are constantly radiating energy. Could this not be the origin of the Zero Point Energy of the vacuum? If we put this in correctly, might we not connect the small with the large? Might this not be one of the missing ideas of the long sought unified theory?

The strangest thing in physics was the way it treated consciousness. It was proposed a century ago by Niels Bohr that, in quantum physics, human consciousness has the power to disturb experiments. Just a peek causes something called “quantum wave function collapse,” which means you just destroyed those nice wave patterns your particles were in. So consciousness is really powerful. Once you have looked, the particle behaves differently. And yet, despite this enormously important role consciousness plays, physicists have avoided studying it ever since! It is hard to publish anything on consciousness in the mainstream physics journals. This made no sense to me at all. If consciousness is that powerful and that important, it should be studied more than all those particles. But it is not.

Many of the new breakthroughs described in this book stem from these two oversights in the “old physics” of the Twentieth Century: the enormous amount of energy in the vacuum, and the power of consciousness. These two elements are related. Experiments suggest that consciousness can alter the structure of the vacuum. This is the origin of many of the powers of the mind discussed here.

After graduate school, I continued my research. I began to hear about strange phenomena that violate the rules of science. One of these was Remote Viewing. It involves the supposed ability of someone in a light trance to send his consciousness out into the universe, bringing back detailed information about places and things. Supposedly one could even use this to explore distant events in space and time. Accuracy was said to be independent of distance. If true, such an ability would violate all the rules of physics I had just learned!

In later years I took several courses in Remote Viewing. I experienced first hand how it feels. Following the procedure, you can focus in on a target and experience an event as though you are there, even if it is ten thousand miles away or happened a thousand years ago. This ability completely defies Western physics. There is no force we know of that can explain it. Yet, hundreds of thousands of experiments have been conducted which prove it is real. The government ran an intelligence program for twenty years using these techniques. Experiments show that we all have the ability. These results are described in The Synchronized Universe (Swanson, 2003), which we shall refer to hereafter as “Volume I.”

Such a power is only possible if the universe is connected. Space and time must not be the barriers we have been taught. As I explored further, I found other phenomena which also violate the current rules of physics. They are all related to consciousness, that important subject physics had neglected. At the present time, the Princeton PEAR Lab has accumulated more than thirty years of research (Jahn, 1981, 1987a; Dunne, 1992, 1995) on these effects. The cumulative odds that they could be explained by chance alone are now less than one part in several trillion. In other words, these consciousness phenomena are real. They have been proven by the rigorous standards of science. They show us that the universe is connected, that events which are far distant in space and time can be accessed by consciousness.

Yet mainstream physicists don’t know about these results. In some cases they have been taught to ridicule these subjects, without ever investigating them (Gell-Mann, 1995; Parks, 2001). There is an artificial barrier in science today. Editors of many mainstream journals will not publish such subjects, calling them too “controversial.” As a result, thousands of academic scientists labor to create better theories of the universe while blissfully unaware of mountains of important data they need to include, which describe these forces they are unaware of.

One day in my early exploration I was introduced to an “energy healer,” Mietek Wirkus, who had recently immigrated from Poland. Although he spoke no English, his wife translated for him as I interviewed him. I had been told by a medical doctor friend that Mietek could recognize broken bones which had been healed many years earlier, and had demonstrated some abilities against other ailments. He was undergoing lab testing by scientists to try to understand how he was able to do what he did.

This was a new and foreign subject to me at the time. Mietek explained his procedure. He showed me a diagram of the auras and chakras, which are said to be part of the energy field surrounding our bodies. Since I could not see such things, and had not read much about it, I listened but reserved judgment.

Then Mietek gave me a demonstration. For fifteen minutes I could hear him breathing as he moved his hands slowly around me, starting at the back. He was always at least a foot away, and sometimes more than ten feet from me. He said nothing. After a few minutes I began to notice a feeling of well being and calm. By the end of the session I was overflowing with abundant positive energy, feeling exuberant. I have rarely felt so good in my entire life. I still cannot explain what he did, but I had experienced powerful healing energy first hand.

That was almost twenty years ago. Since then I have delved deeply into the research literature on energy healing. In the chapters that follow, I will describe what we know scientifically about it. In recent years, some of the Chinese healers have begun working with scientists. They have been demonstrating some of the same puzzling effects that we found in Remote Viewing. One type of Chinese healing is called Qigong (chee-gong). Some of these masters can project this energy from their bodies, resulting in healing of patients thousands of miles away. The lab data and references for this are included in Chapters 1 and 2. As with remote viewing, it does not weaken with distance and penetrates virtually all barriers. In experiments by physicists it causes other measurable effects: alters radioactivity, bends laser beams, changes water bonding, and even causes mechanical forces.

As my research has proceeded, I began to realize that many of the anomalies I was encountering relate to this special energy of consciousness. As described in Volume I, Hindu yogis undergo special breathing techniques called pranayama to build up this energy in their bodies before performing their remarkable feats. Energy healers also build it up before healing. This is what Mietek Wirkus was doing before working on me.

This special energy is called chi or Qi (“chee”) by the Chinese. When it is present, the laws of physics are changed. Strange things occur which are not accounted for in Western physics. Physics has overlooked this important energy. I called it the “Life Force” in the title of this book, because it is essential for life. And as I delved further into it, I began to realize that this energy has been around a long time. While unknown in the West, it has been the central technology of many ancient societies.

Rediscovering an Ancient Force

“For the Ancients, the world was composed of four elements, water, earth, air and fire, which are none other than the three states of matter (liquid, solid and gaseous), fire or heat being what was “added” to pass from one state to another. The Druids added a fifth element, Nwyvre, contained in all the others and in which they saw an image of the universal structure of matter and a symbol of God.” (Mereaux, 1981), quoted in (Devereux, 1999)

 There was a tradition in ancient Europe of a special energy which flowed through the landscape. It was said to flow along special paths called ley lines, which converged at megalithic sites such as Stonehenge and Avebury. It played a crucial role in the fertility of crops and the success of the harvest. A similar tradition existed in China, going back more than 4,000 years. The Chinese called this energy “chi” or “Qi,” and considered it to be the Life Force, essential for the health of people and crops. As in Europe, it was believed to flow along special paths in the ground called “dragon paths,” which converged at temples and sacred sites. According to Chinese law it was illegal to bury a commoner on such a line. The science of controlling this energy was called feng shui.

This same energy was believed to flow in all living things. In Chinese medicine it had two polarities, yin and yang. When the quantities and flow of these were in balance, health resulted. When out of balance, illness and misfortune occurred. Traditional Chinese doctors were paid to keep the energies in balance in their patients, just as the feng shui  masters were paid to maintain energy balance in the land.

A Chinese scholar of the 14th century commented on the universal role of the life force energy, both in the land and in the body:

“In the subterranean regions there are alternate layers of earth and rock and flowing spring waters. These strata rest upon thousands of vapours (Qi) which are distributed in tens of thousands of branches, veins and threadlike openings…The body of the earth is like that of a human being…Ordinary people, not being able to see the veins and vessels which are disposed in order within the body of man, think that it is no more than a lump of solid flesh. Likewise, not being able to see the veins and vessels which are disposed in order under the ground, they think that the earth is just an homogeneous mass.”

--Chen Ssu-Hsiao (d. 1332 AD), quoted in (Creightmore, 2001) 

The tradition of this energy extended around the world in ancient times. In India it was called prana or vril, and was central to Vedic science and medicine. In Australia the Aborigines believed it came from the sun and flowed along special paths in the ground they called “Songlines.” In annual ceremonies they walked for hundreds of miles along these lines, in rituals to energize them so they would carry the “life force” to their crops and villages (Devereux, 1999, 2003). There were similar traditions around the ley lines of the Druids in England and for the “dragon lines” of the Chinese.

The energy which flowed was called mana by the Polynesians, orendo by the Iroquois, waken or wakonda by the Sioux (Lakota), baraka in North Africa, and pneuma by the ancient Greeks (Devereux, 1999; Michell, 1969). Where belief in this energy existed, large megalithic sites and straight ley line features can often still be found today. These structures appear to have been built to control and channel it. In a similar way, traditional healers in those cultures, the Chinese doctors, Hindu yogis, shamen and medicine men from many countries practiced controlling and balancing this energy in their patients. And in the hidden traditions of adepts and mystics, the practice of breathing and conscious manipulation of this energy was developed to a high art.

With the recent interchange of knowledge between East and West, new information about this force is becoming available. During President Nixon’s trip to China in 1972, a member of the party, New York Times correspondent James Reston, developed acute appendicitis and underwent an emergency appendectomy by Chinese doctors. They used acupuncture XE "acupuncture"  to relieve some of his post-operative pain, and Secretary of State Kissinger talked about it at a subsequent press conference (Reston, 1971). Later Reston traveled around China doing research on it and wrote articles about his experience. Chinese medicine suddenly became front page news in America. And with it, there has been a rebirth of interest in this energy.

Prior to that, other Western scientists attempted to study this mysterious force, but none met with acceptance. Beginning in the 1840’s, the great German chemist and industrialist Baron von Reichenbach conducted systematic, painstaking, studies over many decades. He used “sensitives,” people who could see this energy after spending several hours adapting to the dark. In this way he amassed a huge database describing how it behaves, what creates it and how it interacts with electricity, heat and chemistry. He lived in the era of Faraday and Maxwell, when the laws of electricity were just being discovered. His force was different, and somewhat weak and elusive. In the end, science lost interest in it. It did not fit the developing paradigm of electromagnetism. Later other Western scientists rediscovered this force. In Germany Viktor Schauberger  accidentally discovered it in his experiments with water in the 1920’s, and later Dr. Wilhelm Reich happened upon it as he sought to understand the energies of life.

Despite all of this, today it is still considered to be a fantasy by many Western scientists. Yet new discoveries are proving, once and for all, that this energy is real. Korean scientists have identified and photographed the tiny channels called acupuncture  meridians that are basic to Oriental medicine and carry this energy throughout the body. Russian and Eastern European physicists have demonstrated in the laboratory that this energy obeys certain laws unlike any other force. They have developed mathematical equations describing its behavior, and even applied it to new patents and inventions. Its behavior is revolutionary in that it alters every other force. Most interesting of all, it responds to human consciousness.

One of the unusual qualities of this energy, which we call the “life force” and the Russians call “torsion,” is that it affects the flow of time. It may also be the key to understanding “dark energy” and “dark matter,” which have been found in deep space by astronomers, and do not fit into our current understanding of particles or forces. Russian scientists have identified two different forms of this energy, one which twists to the right and one which twists to the left. They have opposite effects on the flow of time and entropy XE "entropy" , and resemble in many ways the Chinese concepts of yin and yang, the two polarities of chi. Many experiments have now validated the existence of this energy, although awareness of it in Western science has been slow.

One form of this energy can decrease “entropy,” which is a measure of randomness. This force may hold the answer to why the universe did not “wind down” into a chaotic mass of gas long ago, and instead is vibrant with structures, even today giving birth to new stars and galaxies. The living body, which burns oxygen and carbon, also creates order out of chaos, and has long been considered as a potential violator of the Second Law of Thermodynamics, a place where entropy may be decreasing and order increasing. And gravity itself is a third process in which order may increase over time, posing one more challenge to mainstream science (Prigogine, 1980, 1989). According to Russian research, which we describe in Chapters 7 and 8, the life force or subtle energy, which they call “torsion,” is central to all these processes.

An emerging model based on this force appears capable of explaining many of the puzzling phenomena of alternative medicine, such as long distance healing and the power of Qigong, described in Chapters 1 and 2. It may explain how energy healers and Qigong masters project their influence over thousands of miles, achieving successful diagnosis and remarkable cures. This new force lays a foundation for understanding homeopathy, radionics, and other components of alternative medicine which cannot be explained by the Western materialistic paradigm.

One goal of this book is to collect the “best evidence” from many sources, to understand how this energy of consciousness behaves. It does not matter whether it is called the “life force,” subtle energy, torsion, prana or chi. It has been given many names through the years, but it is time to develop a single theory which can explain it, and include it in an expanded paradigm. We are at the beginning of a far-reaching scientific revolution. As the laws of Western physics adapt to these new discoveries, it will enable us to integrate consciousness within science at long last. The mind has previously unsuspected powers, spoken of in many wisdom traditions. Integrating these with science will change the laws of physics and will greatly expand our understanding of ourselves.


The Crisis in Health Care

The new science of subtle energy has a direct impact on our lives. It introduces new technologies and new ways of looking at the world at just the time when our present system is in crisis. Not only are we facing an environmental crisis, as our conventional technology based on fossil fuels and mass production is affecting climate and loss of species, but conventional medicine is also failing to meet the challenges of exploding costs and new diseases which do not respond to conventional treatment. Subtle energy, as it is used in alternative medicine, may offer a solution to this crisis.

“The fact is that the U. S. population does not have anywhere near the best health in the world. Of 13 countries in a recent comparison, the United States ranks an average of 12th (second from the bottom) for 16 available health indicators.”

–Dr. Rustum Roy, Professor of Materials Science, Pennsylvania State University, Founder of Friends of Health (Roy, 2004b)

 According to a recent study, U. S. medical care is falling behind European countries despite the belief by many in the United States that their health care is superior. “Countries in order of their average ranking on the health care indicators, with the first being the best, are Japan, Sweden, Canada, France, Australia, Spain, Finland, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Denmark, Belgium, the United States, and Germany (Starfield, 2000).

Rankings of the United States medical care, based on these indicators, is (Starfield, 2000; Roy, 2004b):

The World Health Organization XE "World Health Organization"  (WHO), using very different indicators, ranks the U.S. even worse, 15th among 25 industrialized countries. At the same time, the U.S. National Research Council estimates that approximately 76,000 Americans die annually from medical errors, in addition to 108,000 who die each year from drug interactions. (Roy, 2004b).

Despite the low rankings based on quality XE "quality" , the cost of U.S. health care rose at an annual rate of 9.6 %  from 1970 to 2007, far in excess of any other commodity or service. It is by far the most expensive health care in the world, per capita.

A recent initiative announced by several leaders in Integrative Medicine XE "Integrative Medicine" , led by Drs. Deepak Chopra XE "Chopra, Deepak" , Dean Ornish, Andrew Weil and Rustum Roy XE "Roy, Rustum"  (Chopra, 2009), pointed out that in 2007, $2.1 trillion was spent in the U.S. on medical care, or 16.5% of the gross national product. Of this, 95 per cent was spent on disease after it had already occurred. In cardiology in 2006, 

“…according to data provided by the American Heart Association, 1.3 million coronary angioplasty XE "angioplasty"  procedures were performed at an average cost of $48,399 each, or more than $60 billion; and 448,000 coronary bypass operations were performed at a cost of $99,743 each, or more than $44 billion. In other words, Americans spent more than $100 billion in 2006 for these two procedures alone.

“Despite these costs, a randomized controlled trial published in April, 2007 in the New England Journal of Medicine found that angioplasties and stents do not prolong life or even prevent heart attacks in stable patients (i.e. 95% of those who receive them). Coronary bypass surgery prolongs life in less than 3% of patients who receive it. So, Medicare and other insurers and individuals pay billions for surgical procedures like angioplasty XE "angioplasty"  and bypass surgery that are usually dangerous, invasive, expensive, and largely ineffective.” (Chopra, 2009)

 At the same time, there has been an explosion in diseases which do not readily respond to the Western allopathic model. That is, they do not respond to drugs or surgery. Such diseases include many forms of cancer, autoimmune diseases such as arthritis and lupus, Type II diabetes XE "diabetes" , degenerative nerve and muscle diseases, and lifestyle diseases which arise from stress or poor diet.

More Americans are sensing this failure of the health system, because of its escalating cost and its resistance to innovations. As a result, more people are turning to alternative health care which use the entire range of available remedies, including naturopathic and energetic approaches. From 1990 to 1997 the number of patients using an alternative therapy grew by approximately 24%, and their visits to alternative therapy providers grew accordingly. The table below summarizes these results for that time period:






Percentage of patients using any one of 16 alternative therapies



Percentage of patients visiting an alternative therapy provider



Percentage disclosed to the physician



Percentage paying out of pocket



Total visits to alternative therapy provider (millions)



Expenditures for Alternative therapy services ($ billions)




Integrative Medicine can be something as simple as a return to a healthy lifestyle, more exercise, reducing meat intake, avoiding smoking, and reducing stress. These changes have enormous benefit for avoiding illness and maintaining health. In cases where illness is more advanced, Integrative Medicine often assists the body in returning to health, by helping bring its natural energies into balance or increasing its available energy when needed. Central to many of  these healing methods is the manipulation of the body’s own vital energy, its “life force energy,” the “chi” (Qi ) of Chinese medicine.

Techniques such as acupuncture and Qigong, which have been practiced in China for thousands of years, are methods of balancing and controlling this energy. These techniques are now making slow inroads into American medicine. In 2005 a scholarly article confirming the physiological effectiveness of acupuncture (Cho, 1998) was published by the National Academy of Sciences (Meridians, 2002). We will discuss their results at greater length in Chapter 4.

Acupuncture, as well as many other techniques in Oriental and Alternative medicine, have been found effective over many years of use (Jenerick, 1973; Wiseman, 1991; Helms, 1995) and often with fewer negative side effects than drugs or surgery. However, their acceptance in the West has been slowed by the absence of a scientific model which can account for their effects. One of the goals of this book is to collect the scientific evidence which describes the physics of the life force energy, and to help build a scientific model which explains its crucial role in healing.


A Scientific Revolution is Underway

Subtle energy is but one indication that a scientific revolution is underway. Many things are being discovered in the laboratory that challenge current scientific theory. Every year there are more anomalies, pieces of the puzzle that just don’t fit the present paradigm. This is the classic pattern at the beginning of a scientific revolution.

One area that’s not being ignored because it’s too big to ignore is “dark matter.” Physicists years ago confidently believed that their theories were nearly complete, that they almost had the “theory of everything.” Now they have to admit that up to 95% of the matter in the universe is of some type that we don’t understand at all. To quote Professor David Spergel of the Department of Astrophysical Sciences, Princeton University and the Department of Astronomy, University of Maryland (Spergel, 2000)...[excerpt from the book]


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