Idealism is materialism upside down. It proposes that all that exists is pure consciousness. Everything in the physical world, all matter and energy, are emergent properties of consciousness. In its more radical form, it asserts that the entire physical world is a mind-generated illusion, somewhat like the virtual world in the movie The Matrix. Idealism runs into a miracle if it proposes that out of ephemeral nonphysical consciousness there emerges a hard, physical world. How does that happen? Once emerged, is it still connected to mind or does it go on its merry way? On the other hand, if it proposes that everything is an imaginary projection of consciousness, then the miracle is that everyone other than me is also a part of my imagination. Does that mean I still have to pay taxes? Panpsychism is the fourth main worldview. It acknowledges that mind and matter are quite real, but it also proposes that these elements of reality are inseparable and go all the way down to elementary particles and “below,” and also all the way up to the universe and beyond. The idea of a complementary relationship, where something is “both/and” rather than “either/or,” is a core concept within quantum theory. Light, for example, behaves both as a wave and as a particle, depending on how you look at it. The advantage of panpsychism is that no miracles are required to account for how matter can be sentient, or how mind can have physical consequences. It is both/and. But all is not completely rosy. The trouble with panpsychism is called the binding problem. This means that if all matter is already sentient, then every atom of your body, your cells, and your organs should also be sentient. Why then is your sense of self a unity and not a multitude? What binds it all together so that the “I” within you experiences just one self rather than trillions of tiny selves? Dealing with the New Story One of the more interesting takes on the developing new story of reality has been proposed by Rice University’s Jeffrey Kripal, who, as a scholar of comparative religion, has explored the core themes of his discipline—the sacred, the paranormal, the supernormal, the mystical, and the spiritual—in a direction that few academics have dared to tred.80 He views the intense popular interest in the paranormal as more than a mere fascination with fictional miracles, but rather as a sign of the original meaning of fascination—a bewitching accompanied simultaneously by awe and terror. He defines “psychic phenomena” as “the sacred in transit from a traditional religious register into a modern scientific one,” and the sacred as what the German theologian and historian of religions Rudolf Otto meant, that is, a particular structure of human consciousness that corresponds to a palpable presence, energy, or power encountered in the environment.
Dean Radin (Supernormal: Science, Yoga and the Evidence for Extraordinary Psychic Abilities)