As author of The Field and The Intention Experiment, Lynne McTaggart has become a respected voice in “frontier science”—the cutting edge of research where physics and spirituality come together. A journalist by trade, she sees her role as a translator in the effort to bring this life-changing science into our everyday lives. Here, she talks about her own journey of discovery into the “science of the miraculous.”
Sounds True: What set you on the path to writing The Field?
Lynne McTaggart: It started with the studies that I kept coming across in my research into alternative medicine. I publish a monthly newsletter called “What Doctors Don't Tell You,” which examines what works and what doesn't in conventional medicine, and looks for proof of better alternatives. In my investigations of medical literature, I kept coming across these studies—legitimate, thorough scientific studies—showing that homeopathy, spiritual healing, and acupuncture worked.
Over time, I came to understand that if spiritual healing works, it suggests we must have some connection we have to one another that goes beyond the physical. That certainly goes against the current view we have of biology and physics, which is that things don't act on each other unless you freeze them, burn them, or give them a good swift kick. It seems that we are not just discrete, finalized biochemical assemblages that classic Western science proposes.
So I wondered what was providing this energetic connection. I had no idea what I was looking for, or indeed whether there was such a thing. But I was able to convince my publishers in America and in the U.K. to fund a journey.
Sounds True: And that journey became The Field.
Lynne McTaggart: Yes. I sought out scientists who were researching things like homeopathy and distance healing. Each of them, I discovered, was like an explorer. Each of them had discovered a little bucket of earth, but nobody was bold enough to declare it a continent. They all had their own individual discoveries and experiments that had unearthed one aspect of this puzzle. With The Field, I tried to put the puzzle together.
Sounds True: You talk a lot in the book about Zero Point Energy. Can you explain what that is and why it has that name?
Lynne McTaggart: According to quantum physics, no subatomic particles ever come to rest. They all engage in a little energy dance. In this dance, every subatomic particle trades energy with other subatomic particles. As they do that, it's almost like I am passing a penny back and forth to you endlessly. I lose a penny, you gain a penny, you send it back to me, you lose one, I gain one. And this goes on between all the subatomic particles in the universe.
When you look at each individual energy exchange, it's nothing to write home about. It's about half a watt's worth of energy. But if you were to add up all of the subatomic particles doing this dance all across the universe, you would have this unfathomable amount of energy. So if you were sitting a yard away from me, there would be enough energy between us to boil all the oceans of the world. It's that kind of immensely dense energy.
The reason they call it “Zero Point” is because molecules and atoms and subatomic particles slow down the colder it gets. But even if you reduce the temperature to nothing, this little energy dance continues to go on. We used to believe that absolute zero, or zero degrees Kelvin, was a state of no energy at all. What we have learned is that even at absolute zero, you still have this amazing amount of energy arising at the quantum level. So that's why it's Zero Point energy. All the exchanges of energy add up to what they call the Zero Point Field.
Sounds True: In The Field, you talk about the importance of the observer effect described in quantum physics. That seems to be necessary for reality as we think of it to sort of solidify and take a particular form. Yet human beings are a pretty recent addition to the universe, and we certainly don't observe everything that's happening out there. Does that hint that there is a kind of super-consciousness, an omniscient intelligence, or something that people could label “God?”
Lynne McTaggart: Well, there are several levels to that question. To start with, you have to first define “consciousness.” When we say that we are co-creators, when we talk about the co-creation of the world, it's really consciousness doing the creation. So, where is consciousness? It's really not inside our skulls, because people are still conscious even when they have near-death experience. Even when what's in our skull, that “computer” of the brain, is basically unplugged, consciousness still continues.
There's much evidence in my book and elsewhere to demonstrate that consciousness is an ethereal presence that's both inside and outside our bodies, and that it trespasses outside of us to other things. Many frontier scientists have come to conclude that consciousness itself is “out there”—that is to say, consciousness, memory, and all higher functions are not in our brains but are out there in The Field. Our brains do not generate consciousness, they simply receive it from The Field, like antennae.
So if you were to ask me where consciousness is, I think it's out there in the Zero Point Field. That, if you will, is a super-consciousness.
The other aspect of consciousness is that if everything is connected by The Field at some level, then we are all one. So there isn't any “me” and “not me” anymore. There would only be this super-consciousness.
Sounds True: Some people seem to be able to consciously harness the Zero Point Field almost naturally, while for others it's so much harder. Why?
Lynne McTaggart: If you think of your brain in terms of being an antenna or receiver, some people are just born with a bigger radio. There have been studies of people like Ingo Swann, who's one of the greatest remote viewers in the world and a gifted psychic. If you look at the brain of an experienced remote viewer, who can perceive objects across distances of space and time, you often discover a very large parietal lobe, which is the part of the brain involved in sight. The viewer has “far-sight.” This helps the remote viewer to tune into information beyond the senses much more easily than other people.
However, these are not just skills of the special few, but skills that everybody can learn with time and practice. And I think that some of the ways of doing that are developing the ability to shut off that “self” that gets in the way so much of the time. Our Western emphasis on the rational, cognitive abilities of our forebrain can actually be an obstacle in this process.
Sounds True: Are you saying that some sort of universal wisdom shapes us as much as we shape The Field with our intention?
Lynne McTaggart: That's right. In my book that's just being released, The Intention Experiment, I wanted to find out what are the best times and conditions for using intention. To do that, I studied a lot of spiritual masters—people like gifted psychics, Buddhist monks, and qigong masters. And I found one thing in common, no matter what their background or their discipline: a sense of surrender. They start by creating a very strong and directed intention, and then they surrender to the process. They don't try to force their will on anything.
This means getting the ego out of the way, moving aside, and letting something greater in. In other words, to use these kinds of abilities, we also must learn to surrender to the super-consciousness of this greater force, of The Field. When we do, as I talk about in detail in my book, the effects are absolutely real and extraordinary.
Sounds True: Is there something innate in human consciousness that gives us greater access to The Field?
Lynne McTaggart: In many ways, I think the opposite is true. I've spent a lot of time studying the cognitive abilities of animals while developing the Living The Field course. I think it's a difference of degree, not of kind. There's evidence of animal philanthropy, emotion, abstract thought, creativity, love, grief—and most significantly, of psychic ability in animals that's often far beyond our own. I believe this is because animals perceive things in pieces with a sort of super-awareness on very specific points of focus. We hook things together to get a “big picture,” and we miss the parts of it. When it comes to psychic ability, that big picture outlook can be a hindrance.
I think that animals are picking up a huge reception of The Field. If you look at migrating animals, for instance, consider their navigational abilities. The common explanation is that it's a magnetic ability and they're navigating by geomagnetic information. But there are a lot of studies now that dispute that explanation. To me, the evidence suggests that animals are picking up all sorts of information psychically from The Field and acting on it.
I think when we assume animals lack cognitive ability, it's often a problem of our inability to communicate with other living beings. Obviously we have a bigger forebrain, and that does provide a difference in perception—sometimes to our advantage, and sometimes to our detriment. But there's such a range of animal abilities that it would suggest that one thing they have over us is a much, much better ability to tap into the collective consciousness.
Sounds True: How does Zero Point Field research parallel some of the ideas that have been taught in the world's major spiritual traditions?
Lynne McTaggart: What's interesting, I think, about the theory of The Field is that it doesn't counter any religion. It simply provides a scientific framework for it. You can call The Field prana, or qi, or even grace. I've found that virtually all indigenous cultures, as well as many ancient cultures like the ancient Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians, believe in a central “life force.” It's something that's common in just about every culture. They see that health and life itself is generated from this force. The Zero Point Field theory is simply a scientific rendering of that.
In my research, I've found that new discoveries at the very frontiers of quantum physics are supporting this more and more. We are starting to see quantum effects in things like larger molecules, where it was once thought that they would only occur in the smallest of subatomic particles. These big molecules are not set substances, but are in a state of becoming, and seem to require something else to put them in the final state of being. There are more and more studies demonstrating a greater connection between things in the universe, which is called “non-locality” in physics.
Some of the most exciting studies have shown that time and space are arbitrary constructs, and there seems to be new evidence demonstrating that the future constantly influences the present. An increasing number of scientific experiments bear this out. Again, these are ideas you find embedded in so many of the wisdom traditions from around the world.
This is why much of frontier science seems to support not only the views of The Field, but many of the views of these native cultures that have been saying this for centuries. What we are now observing is the ability, finally, of science to prove the miraculous, and to show that it is consciousness that shapes the physical world.
Sounds True: Does the science of The Field offer explanations for some of the miracles or supernatural events described in mythology and legend? Does it help us make sense of those in a different way?
Lynne McTaggart: I think so. For instance, it's possible that Jesus had an extraordinary ability with energetic healing—a highly refined version of what many practitioners do today. Whether you believe that Jesus was a divine being or just a gifted man, he certainly had an exceptional ability to tap into The Field.
Today, we are gaining insights by studying yogis and Buddhist monks. Research shows that Buddhist monks who have undergone these disciplines for many years have developed the ability to do extraordinary feats. They can raise or lower their metabolism 60% or change their body temperature at will. They can steam dry sheets with their skin. They can sit on a bed of nails. All of those sorts of things are just tapping into innate abilities that we all possess.
Similarly, people who spend time developing remote viewing, psychic abilities, precognition, or even dream recall and lucid dreaming, realize that they have powers. They have the ability to access the greater mind, if they just practice it.
Sounds True: Are there any particular studies that have been truly jaw dropping for you?
Lynne McTaggart: Perhaps the most impressive studies were done by Robert John, the Dean Emeritus of engineering at Princeton University. He set up the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research (PEAR) program, which was a scholarly program looking at mind over matter. He created the studies with the Random Event Generator (REG) machines that were random quantum devices—a highly sophisticated version of the heads-or-tails coin toss, finely tuned to achieve truly random results on a consistent basis.
His method was to sit volunteers in front of these devices and ask them to influence them in one direction rather than the other. It's like telling someone to try to make a coin turn up heads more than tails just with their mind. What he found over hundreds of thousands of these trials, was that an overwhelming number people with no known psychic abilities were able to influence these machines out of their random course with nothing more than their will.
But the most amazing studies for me remain the studies about time, that demonstrate these effects work just as well—sometimes even better—when they're done “out of time.” Robert John tried variations of his experiments where he had his subjects send their intention to machines that had already run several days before, or that were set to run several days later. He was astonished to find that the effects of his experiments were often even greater this way—when they were done out of time.
Remote viewing, which is amazing by itself, has also proven to be effective in perceiving things in the future or the past. It's normally thought of as the ability to see things over distances, but it also seems to work just as well—or even better, sometimes—perceiving things across time as well as space. For instance, one experiment involves having the remote viewer in the lab, and she has a traveling partner. The partner is given one of a number of envelopes that direct him to a destination, anywhere from five miles to hundreds of miles away. The partner goes to the destination, and the remote viewer has to draw and describe where her partner went using only her psychic gifts.
We know remote viewing works because time and again these experiments show that the viewer can indeed draw where her partner has gone. What's even more amazing is that these experiments have also been conducted out of time, so the remote viewer would have to draw and describe where her partner was going even before he was given an envelope. Again, there is consistently breathtaking accuracy with these experiments.
There's one particular case that I always talk about where remote viewing worked backwards in time in a remarkable way. One of the most talented remote viewers in the Stanford Institute research program was a guy called Pat Price, a former police chief who had caught criminals many times by using remote viewing. When he did one of his studies, it followed the usual protocol of a traveling partner going out to a destination and Pat having to draw it. On this occasion, he drew a swimming pool with two tanks. When the scientist saw the picture and they compared it with where the traveling partner had gone, they found that yes, there was a pool there—it was the Palo Alto local swimming pool. They said, “Well, he got the swimming pool right, but there were no tanks at the site.” So they figured that Pat had got it wrong this time.
But a number of years later, one of the scientists received something from the Chamber of Commerce at Palo Alto, which was an image of the town 50 years before. There was a photograph of the swimming pool, and at that time it was a water reservoir. And there were two tanks right where Pat had drawn them. So the remarkable thing that occurred was that when Pat saw the scene, he saw it 50 years before.
Those kinds of studies indicate to me that this information is available to us at any moment, and we can get information from the future or the past at any point.
Sounds True: How can a listener take some of the ideas suggested by research on The Field and begin to put them into practice to change how they live day to day?
Lynne McTaggart: There are two fundamental things to take on board with this material. One is that if we are all part of this central energy Field, then we are not separate. If you absorb this, you become inspired to rethink virtually everything in your life. Almost everything in our life is built upon this notion of being separate and individual. If we're not separate, then we don't compete. We don't have to be first, we don't have to beat out the other guy. We don't have to isolate ourselves and feel that we are islands, and that we are out there in that lonely universe on our own.
We have to rethink the way we bring up our children. We structure our schools on a competitive model. We have to rethink the way we do businesses. We have to look at everything in our lives from the basis of connection rather than separateness.
The second thing you want to absorb and internalize when you learn about The Field is that extended human potential is your birthright. You are co-creating your world. You are part of this universal energy information field—because that's what it is. It's an energy sea full of quantum waves that store an infinite amount of information. You have the ability to access this information. You already do, every time you recall a memory or have an idea. And you can learn to get even more out of it. You can learn ways to become more psychic, to understand about our precognitive information, remote viewing, and psychokinesis. These abilities are within the reach of the ordinary person.
Sounds True: How has your own life changed as a result of what you've learned in pursuit of these ideas?
Lynne McTaggart: I always like to say that I am a student, and I'm learning like everyone else. First, I should reiterate that I didn't expect to find this. I didn't expect to be propelled in this direction. I was just following the thread of my research. Like any good reporter, you just follow your lead. My lead brought me into a very, very unexpected direction. It certainly changed all of my views about what we are made of, what the universe is made of.
From that had to come a new philosophy of how to live my life. That's something that I'm still developing and that I'm only just beginning to incorporate into my own life. Because I'm understanding that my life has to change from top to bottom. Like everyone else I have been brought up in a paradigm of separation and separateness. So it's really been a case of tearing down the old and building up the new.
I am not a self-help guru. I am learning along with the people that I teach.