Beyond the Material? Why Energy is like Gravity and Magnetism

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Jill posted on Facebook: “How do you describe the beyond-material: Spiritual? Etheric? Metaphysical?”

I pondered for a day. I know what she’s asking, and the easy answer is, “energy and ethereal.” But there’s something deeper here.

Years ago, a physicist friend asked about my work. At the time, I was describing energy and connections as “non-physical stuff.”

“What does non-physical stuff mean? Your whole premise is that this is real and out there, right?” she asked.

Yes, I said, but you can’t reach out and touch it, it doesn’t interact with ordinary atom-based matter except in a few limited ways.

She explained, “Dark matter is the same, it only interacts in limited ways, through gravity but nothing else, but it’s still physical.”

She explained that, to a physicist, “physical” means “real,” out there in reality rather than an idea in the mind. Saying something was real but non-physical simply didn’t make sense. What I was describing was non-ordinary physical matter.

That conversation holds the deeper answer to Jill’s question:

Energy isn’t beyond material any more than gravity or magnetism are. None of those phenomena are solid, atom-based matter, but all three produce observable, measurable results.

“But gravity and magnetism are part of modern physics, and biofield energy isn’t (yet),” you might point out. And I think that’s part of the implicit distinction my friend’s question was making.

But here’s the thing: That’s a statement about human knowledge, not about the phenomenon itself. When Newton discovered gravity in 1665, that changed human knowledge, but it didn’t change gravity itself. When we say that a phenomenon is mysterious, we really mean that it’s mysterious to us, that it’s not understood by us yet. It’s a statement about us, not about the phenomenon.

So, what’s beyond-material? Imagination, social constructs like ownership and capitalism, and other things that exist only in human mind. But not energy. That’s part of material reality, just like magnetism and gravity, and it’s only a matter of time before we understand it.

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