Information, Energy, and Meaning | Sep 1988

FMBR Editorial: Sep, 1988

Information, Energy, and Meaning

Robert L. Shacklett

The Foundation has chosen a theme for the 1988-89 season which exemplifies its continuing interest in the unifying ideas pertaining to consciousness studies: Information, Energy, and Meaning. Integration or unification often requires taking familiar concepts and stretching them into unfamiliar and uncharted territory. Such is the case here. The three words embodying our theme are all very familiar, but we would like to see to what extent they illuminate the dim corners of consciousness when their contexts lie in the esoteric, the transcendent, or the spiritual.

The central element in this trinity of ideas is energy, which has both scientific and non-scientific contexts. "Physical energy" has been very valuable in understanding the phenomena of space, time, and matter, because it is a quantity which remains constant in every kind of reaction or interaction. But what about the "subtle energies" that lie on the border between the physical and the mental? Can instruments be developed which are sensitive to these energies, or is the human brain the only interface with the other dimensions of reality?

Energy can also be regarded as the carrier for information, the next element in this trinity. Sound waves in air and electromagnetic waves in space (including light) are familiar examples. But what about information received through processes like remote viewing and channeling that seem to bypass the usual space-time-energy mechanisms? Information theory shows that the entropy of a system decreases as the information increases. Does not this suggest some kind of non-physical or "subtle energy" carrier?

Indeed, the existence of the reverse phenomenon, psychokinesis, in which directed energy flow or "intention" affects matter, would, by symmetry arguments, support such an idea. And, as long as we're speculating, why not make a direct correlation between intention and energy: the greater the degree of intention, the greater the psychic energy involved. This would make the law of conservation of energy an approximation: "(Physical) energy is conserved in a system as long as nobody is paying any attention to it (or, at least the net attention is zero)."

Which brings us to the last element in the trinity: meaning. We should first make a careful distinction between information and meaning. InFORMation is the symbolic "form" of the meaning as it is conveyed by the carrier (energy). It is the "FM" or the "AM" of the radio wave. It is the written word or the spoken sound in some natural language, or the content of a dictionary used by a society sharing that language. So meaning is not to be found "in-form." It is inherent in the intention of the source and conveyed by the energy thereof. In fact, the Old English root word for meaning has to do with "intention." An interesting question can be posed at this point: Can meaning be conveyed without using information?

At the beginning of this article I suggested that familiar words can sometimes be stretched into unfamiliar territory, thereby serving as bridges for further exploration. Information, energy, and meaning; as you can see, there is much room here to expand our understanding. We invite you to join with us again this coming year as we continue the exploration.

Robert L. Shacklett, September 1988