Do people feel other people's energy

What's the whole thing?

Cover story by Marco Bischof, published in issue # 11/2011

Even as a child, I had experiences that gave me the certainty that there had to be more to reality than the adults would have me believe. For example, I was attracted to certain places in the vicinity of our house that had "something special" for me, and I wanted to think up a ritual for these places with other children. Unfortunately, they had little understanding of what should be special there. It also seemed to me that at night I could feel the souls of people through the walls of the houses, and sometimes I felt certain people at a great distance as present as if they were there. Later, in my training as a yoga teacher and respiratory therapist, I learned that even at a certain distance from a person's body one can perceive something very fine and living that belongs to this person and tells you something about him if you relate to it in a certain way agrees. In this way you can connect with other people and "touch" them without physical contact. I am convinced that all people perceive their environment and other people on this level, but mostly unconsciously. It is therefore usually difficult to talk about such perceptions.
In our modern western culture, this type of experience, along with feelings, eroticism, intimacy, everything "atmospheric" and everything that could be called "spiritual" experience, is banned from general social consciousness and repressed into the private sphere. It is only discussed in certain minority groups; the "mainstream" of society largely ignores them. Still, they are significant human experiences. They play a recognized role in cultures other than European and in certain subcultures of our own society. Spirituality is a human area of ​​experience that begins on the most fundamental level with phenomena such as the ones I have addressed so far. If one proceeds from the simple and fundamental experiences that are actually familiar to everyone, one can see that spirituality is not something exotic and only accessible to a few, but something generally human. For this reason I approach the topic from these simple things and show how one can argue from this point of view from a scientific point of view.

A contemporary worldview
So I first ask the question of how we can arrive at a contemporary worldview today. In my opinion, it must represent all areas of human experience. This primarily means that aspects of human life that cannot be measured or objectified and therefore have hardly been included in the scientific worldview up to now must also be included. From a scientific point of view in particular, a worldview must be complete and therefore holistic so that it is true and appropriate to reality. An incomplete, inadequate view of the world carries the risk that a science based on it will cause damage. Science should therefore admit to itself that certain areas of human experience exist which it cannot (yet) grasp with its methods, but which, as part of human experience, are of great importance for our lives. What science contributes to human knowledge is an important aspect, but not the sole yardstick. This is one of the reasons why the subjective is enjoying a certain appreciation in science today and phenomenology, which regards subjective experience as the basis of all knowledge, is once again playing an important role.
A transcultural approach is part of a holistic view of people and the world. That means taking into account the human experiences of other cultures and other times. The consideration of earlier epochs of our own culture as well as those perspectives in the subcultures of our society that deviate from the currently prevailing view of the world are part of such an expanded view, through which the full richness of human existence can be grasped. For example, there are cultures that do not know any categorical separation between humans, animals and plants, that experience the earth as living or that assume the existence of incorporeal beings (spirits, gods, etc.), and such an understanding of the world must also be taken into account. Thanks to cultural globalization, for the first time in history, it is now possible to incorporate knowledge of foreign cultures on the basis of a reasonably appropriate understanding of non-Western cultures and thus a real engagement with fundamentally different forms of thought.

The humanities, myth, poetry, music, performing arts and other expressions of human creativity are dismissed as "irrational" and therefore irrelevant in the positivist ideology of modern science. Just like spirituality, they represent a form of thought within our own culture that is characterized by a type of rationality that deviates from the prevailing scientific-philosophical forms of thought and action. Occidental science is presented here as a prototype of rationality and natural science is declared the only way to truth. The current way of doing science is declared the only possible one, and all other expressions and beliefs are considered inferior. Linked to this is the prejudice that no rational and scientific traditions are possible or exist in other cultures.
This conception of rationality is increasingly being questioned among philosophers and enlightened scientists today. For example, the Kiel science philosopher Kurt Huebner writes that the positivist view of rationality is not only "cranky", but quite simply wrong. He sees natural science as one form of knowledge among others, a special case within the broader and more general area of ​​human knowledge. Mythical thinking, artistic, spiritual, religious and moral experience have no less claim to rationality than natural science. They have their own kind of rationality, which is consistent and works within the framework of their own concept of experience and reason. Hübner points out that our modern culture lives in the dichotomy, on the one hand to look at the world in the light of scientific knowledge, which - as the sociologist Max Weber said - has "demystified" the world, but on the other hand we continue to see important areas of life such as Experience love, birth and death, the encounter with nature and with other people in a non-scientific way.
The most recent debate about the »rationality of feeling« or emotions, as it is carried out in the works of the philosophers Hartmut Böhme, Gernot Böhme, Ronald de Sousa and Carola Meier-Seethaler, is also very revealing. The ruling rationalism distrusts feelings and emotions; they are seen as a disruptive factor in the factual process of thinking. But alongside the rationalistic mainstream of Western philosophy, there has always been another tradition of thought. It represented the "other of reason", that is, a different conception of rationality and a broader basis for it in bodily existence and in feelings compared to a one-sided rationalistic conception of knowledge. This tradition of thought begins in the Enlightenment and continues through German Romanticism to existential philosophy and phenomenology.
The French Blaise Pascal, for example, who, as a mathematician and a friend of Descartes, valued rational thinking highly, saw its limits at the same time when it came to grasping the bigger picture and answering existential and ethical questions. For this reason he wanted to see the "logic of the mind" supplemented by a "logic of the heart". Existential philosophy and phenomenology turned against the objectivity cult of science and declared the subjective perception and personal experience of man to be the basis of knowledge. Feelings are also seen here as an important source of real knowledge; Above all, they have a central function in the evaluation of what is perceived and in the resulting motivation to act. The evaluation of perceptions through feeling forms the basis for the activity of the mind in general. Our emotional habits are an indispensable prerequisite for a rational lifestyle, as they enable the use of rational abilities through the selection and evaluative structuring of the experience. Only then can the activity of reason begin, which consciously chooses between the alternatives that were previously emotionally preselected. As De Sousa writes, the popular opinion that feelings are always irrational is just as wrong as the appeal to the authority of immediate feeling, since feelings already have their own kind of rationality and already have a kind at the "pre-rational" level of emotions of reflection takes place.
As the philosopher Ernst Cassirer and the religious scholar Mircea Eliade emphasize, there are other equivalent but different forms of human knowledge and rationality in addition to natural science and rational thinking. Accordingly, it is now assumed that in addition to the known intellectual and rational intelligence, which is measured in the "intelligence quotient", there are at least six other types of intelligence, such as emotional, physical-kinesthetic, musical, linguistic, spatial and practical intelligence. Best known is the emotional intelligence that the psychologist and science writer Daniel Goleman popularized in his book of the same name in the mid-1990s. Danah Zohar and Ian Marshall finally made the proposal in 2000 that the full spectrum of human intelligence would only be represented by the inclusion of a "spiritual intelligence". They understand it to mean »those skills with which we approach and solve problems of meaning and value, the intelligence that enables us to place our actions and our lives in a wider, richer, meaningful context and to judge which way of acting or which way of life is just more coherent, more meaningful and more meaningful than someone else «. They see spiritual intelligence as a necessary basis for both emotional and rational intelligence.

The findings of quantum theory
Arguments of quantum theory should also flow into these fundamental considerations for a contemporary worldview. Quantum theory is now 111 years old. Until about ten years ago, however, its philosophical implications were not taken seriously; it was only used as a method of computing molecules. According to the opinion of physicists, philosophers should be concerned about their effects on our view of the world. For about ten years now, however, the quantum revolution has also reached the other sciences and society as a whole. Physics as the "leading science" is only being adopted by other sciences and society with a long delay, which is why classical Newtonian (mechanistic) physics has played the main role to this day. It has become so prevalent in general consciousness that "common sense" is now completely physicalized in a mechanistic sense. This also includes the widespread fetish of "scientific evidence": Today, measurement and "scientific evidence" should decide everything. There is no such thing as "scientific proof" as the layman imagines it: science can by no means prove that something is the case or true. Rather, it tries to classify a phenomenon in an existing theory. Nevertheless, in the struggle for scientific (and thus social) recognition, the alleged scientific verifiability of some knowledge is repeatedly brought into the field, sometimes also with spiritual experiences, which, however, when viewed in light, elude the measurable.
If spirituality did not appear acceptable in the world view of classical physics, this is no longer the case with quantum physics. Rather, it results from it inevitably that wholeness, non-locality and connectedness are fundamental properties of reality. It goes without saying that science has not proven that the realm of the spiritual exists, but that the dimensions that exist in our reality, which spirituality has known for a long time, are now also echoed in a scientific theory. According to quantum theory, the world can only be viewed and treated as a collection of separate objects under certain exceptional conditions. Rather, it is to be understood as a seamless whole that has no parts, in which everything is connected with everything and nothing appears to be precisely localized and separable, but everything has the character of waves or fields and therefore cannot be precisely located. Another consequence of quantum theory is that the "observer" in physics can no longer be separated from the world he perceives, but is part of it; thus consciousness must be viewed as a fundamental part of the physical world, which in this way itself no longer appears to be purely material. The universe of quantum theory is alive, animated and gifted with consciousness. Logically, in generalized quantum theory, the quantum mechanical laws are then extended to areas outside of physics, so that their findings can also contribute to the understanding of previously unknown phenomena in medicine, psychology, biology and consciousness research. No wonder that these far-reaching consequences of quantum theory many of the founders of this new science, such as B. Werner Heisenberg and Erwin Schrödinger, to deal in detail with Eastern philosophies and religions as well as with mysticism.

The ecology of the invisible
Not only the conclusions from quantum theory lead in the direction of spirituality, but also a consistent further thinking of ecology. We owe ecology to the fact that in the last few decades the recognition of the mutual dependency and interlinking of the biological, indeed the entire material environment, has prevailed. But our experience shows that there are not only the material dimensions of reality. Who hasn't already sensed that someone else was thinking of them, even though they were far away? The experiments on brainwave synchronization of attuned people document that two people can actually feel each other despite their physical distance. But science can only offer cautious theories to explain how this transmission takes place. Such experiences are part of our everyday life, and if we accept them as real or become aware of them, the ecological worldview leads directly to an ecology of the non-material and invisible. Perhaps connectedness on this level is also part of spirituality in the broadest sense. Whoever feels connected will always perceive a "larger whole" and act out of the whole rather than out of the limited self.
Even in the area of ​​matter, our perception records many invisible physical-chemical factors such as electromagnetic fields, sound, gravity, the air and its components, including odors and air ions, air pressure, moisture, as well as the properties of materials, which are also determined by their fields affect us. In addition, our experience points to factors that are not (yet) measurable, but nevertheless effective, which could be described as a kind of intermediate area between the objective and the subjective areas of our environment. There are field-like dimensions for which the term »subtle matter« is appropriate. This could include information fields such as potentials and the so-called scalar waves or tachyons in popular literature, which are supposed to propagate faster than the speed of light. In part, physics already knows these fields, but hardly takes them into account or accepts their existence from the theory, but cannot yet prove them. The perceived "energy" of a special place, such as in a medieval cathedral or on a mountain peak, could also be counted among these fields. Such examples already reach into a further level, namely to those factors of the environment that influence us subjectively-mentally or mentally-spiritually, such as an archetypal symbol or simply the experience of the vitality and beauty of nature. We perceive our environment not only in the sense of an objective determination of what "actually exists" in the scientific-rational sense, but also feel it with our whole being, that is, "subjective", as something that has a certain state of mind, mood and in us Triggers an emotional reaction, which means something to us.
This is especially true for the perception of other people, that is, the interpersonal dimensions of this "invisible ecology". Besides what we can see and touch, it also has other, invisible dimensions. As biophysics has shown in biophoton research in the last 20 years, for example, humans not only have a solid body but also an electromagnetic field body that extends far beyond the body's boundaries. From a biophysical point of view, we have to regard humans as a highly sensitive "cosmic resonator" that is in constant resonance with a vibrating universe. The universe is a kind of reverberation room, with whose waves constantly moving back and forth we are in resonance. Everyone is at least unconsciously aware of these vibrations and reacts to them. However, this resonance goes beyond the biophysical dimensions: In the sense of generalized quantum theory, as proposed by Harald Walach for understanding transpersonal phenomena, we can understand it as not just material, but holistic resonance with the universe.
On an elementary, mostly unconscious level, we are not separate individuals from one another, but rather closely intertwined with other people on the level of feeling, no matter how far they are from us. In our experience, the space around us is filled with felt "impressions" and premonitions, the origin and precise meaning of which for our minds are difficult to determine. Body awareness and intuition, as more suitable instruments for finding one's way in this "dodgy" area, must first be practiced and trained for most of us.

We are embedded in a transphysical reality
These references to a possible approach to the spectrum of spiritual experiences from a scientific point of view primarily result in the transpersonality of human existence: As my experiences described at the beginning show, I am not on my superficial, easily accessible (and scientifically measurable) Limited existence as a body-bound, localized being. What I am goes far beyond the individual and reaches in dimensions that I cannot measure, but subjectively perceive under certain circumstances.
We are all embedded in an invisible reality encompassing physical and transphysical dimensions, of which the traditions of all cultures and times report. The prevailing state of consciousness in our modern, western culture complicates the experience of these dimensions, especially through the idea that the perceiving subject is separate from the perceived world. More and more people today are beginning to perceive it, at least in part, and this leads, among other things, to the emergence of a new, non-institutional spirituality. We are challenged to rediscover and formulate this area of ​​experience of the other reality with its own rationality and legality for our culture. Human development does not only know the pure biological functioning, as it is known in conventional biology and medicine. Only in the development of the psychological and spiritual dimensions of human existence can the potential of being human be fully and fully exploited. The way from the first germinal perceptions of other dimensions to a fully developed spirituality lived in concrete everyday life is still a long way in our culture, and how much our society will be able to open up to these levels in the near future and to support this path currently still uncertain.

Marco Bischof (64), Dr. phil., respiratory therapist, cultural scientist. He lives in Berlin and works as a freelance science writer and consultant for the border areas between the natural sciences and the humanities.

There is a lot of literature on this article:
A version with references in the text and a complete list of literature for use in a scientific context can be found at
Selected references
Marco Bischof: Biophotons - the light in our cells. Two thousand and one, 1995; Tachyons orgone energy scalar waves - subtle fields between myth and science. AT Verlag, 2002 • Hartmut Böhme and Gernot Böhme: The other of reason. On the development of rationality structures using the example of Kant. Suhrkamp, ​​1983 • Anton Bucher: Psychology of Spirituality. Beltz, 2007 • Arndt Büssing and Niko Kohls: Spirituality transdisciplinary: Scientific foundations in connection with health and illness. Springer, 2011 • Kurt Hübner: Critique of Scientific Reason. Verlag Karl Alber, 1978; The truth of the myth. C. H. Beck, 1985 • Carola Meier-Seethaler: Feeling and Judgment. C. H. Beck, 1997 • Ronald de Sousa: The Rationality of Feeling. Suhrkamp, ​​1997 • Harald Walach: Spirituality - Why we have to continue the Enlightenment. Drachen Verlag, 2011 • Max Weber: Science as a Profession (1919). Philipp Reclam jun., 1995 • Danah Zohar and Ian Marshall: SQ - Spiritual Intelligence. Scherz Verlag, Bern-Munich 2001.

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