Talk at MIT Advanced Propulsion Conference 1-16-19

by Richard Grossinger on January 17, 2019

MIT Advanced Propulsion


“Who Are We, Where Do We Want to Go, and Why?”
I want to present a different view of the universe. I’m not saying I’m right or any other view is wrong. It’s just another way of looking at things.

The goal of these discussions is to put humans, or human surrogates, in remote parts of the universe inaccessible by current technology and, more to the point, inaccessible by laws of physics and biology, which place speed and time caps on all activities, and very limited ones on metabolizing organisms. Our current methods take too long by factors in the billions, and require far more fuel than can be carried on any ship. It will take a radical reconceptualization of multiple components to improve the prognosis for long-distance stellar travel.

The so-called Theory of Everything, a hypothetical all-encompassing framework of equations for nature, doesn’t account for consciousness or does so only if consciousness is an epiphenomenon assumed to arise from other sub-equations. The only role that consciousness can play in advanced propulsion is as a witness or stage manager. It cannot introduce nonlocal jumps.

The general premise is that all this rigmarole—the universe of gravity, stars, cities—arose in the middle of nowhere for no apparent reason, and there could as likely have been nothing at all or a very different sort of universe—and may well have been both of these for countless epochs. This may be the only universe to come along in which we could even have such a discussion.


For better or worse, we won’t have the lovely spectacle of an Atlas 5 blast-off into cloud-spackled heavens, carrying New Horizons on a ten-year voyage to Pluto on into the Kuiper belt. We won’t revisit Viking, Explorer, Thor, or Titan launches, none of which could get a human (or a fly) to any other habitable body in the universe, though each followed a clear, logical progression from Galileo and Newton to the space program as we know it.

In the foreseeable future no currently operating spacecraft of NASA, Russia, China, Richard Branson, Elon Musk, or Jeff Bezos, is going to deliver humans or a humanoid object even near Alpha Centauri in the next solar system. I consider solar-wind-blown sails impractical thought experiments and/or conflations of current variables with hypothetical systems—gaming solutions rather than likely missions. Even the relatively feasible colonization of Mars is outside our current political-economic and ecological range. The lack of breathable air, food, or shelter from solar radiation and the immediate environment is not just an incidental set of problems to be solved by on-site tinkering or a science-fiction trilogy. It is a module-by-module, droplet-by-droplet undertaking. It would make more sense to get the plastic out of the Pacific Ocean than pump oxygen from the Martian north pole into a dome—a somewhat comparable venture. Don’t get me wrong. It may happen, but Mars still doesn’t get us very far.

And since Mars is the most human-friendly local landscape outside Earth, farther is potentially cheerier.

Alas, we also don’t have a flying saucer or ET-made parts from Roswell or Area 51 to back-engineer (unless there’s a surprise planned). Yet if we tentatively accept the general literature of UFO sightings and/or contact, from the ancient Dogon and Ariel School incident in Africa to Betty and Barney Hill and Whitley Strieber, then we have to assume that these spaceships (if that is, in fact, what they were) got into Earth’s atmosphere in a different manner from how we sent New Horizons to Pluto and Charon or plan to deliver folks to Mars. Something fundamental has to be transmogrified, not just time and space but information and the scaling between quantum and Newtonian fields.

Yet I think something big is afoot, and we are missing it or being left out. Part of a piece I wrote in 1966 when I had early-anthropology dreams of Hopi fieldwork seems relevant today:

“The Hopi,” wrote linguist Benjamin Lee Whorf, ‘actually have a language better equipped to deal with vibratile phenomena (like waves, vibrations, and chemical processes) than our latest scientific technology.” The Hopi verb forms oblige “the Hopi to notice and observe vibratory phenomena, and furthermore … to find names for and classify such phenomena…. [T]ime disappears and space is altered to that it is no longer the homogenous and instantaneous timeless space of our supposed intuition or of classical Newtonian mechanics…..

“The [Hopi] Manifesting comprises all that we call future, BUT NOT MERELY THIS; it includes equally and indistinguishably all that we call mental—everything that appears or exists in the mind, or, as the Hopi would prefer to say, in the HEART, not only the heart of man, but the heart of animals, plants, and things, and behind and within all the forms and appearances of nature in the heart of nature and … in the very heart of the Cosmos, itself.”

What if the whole of classical physics [I wrote then] had been developed by speakers of the Hopi language? Would they not have seen everything in manifestation differently from the beginning, and thus come to the dilemmas of subatomic particles, quantum relationships, and quasars on an entirely unique basis, or not at all? Give a billion years each, the Hopis, hypothetically, might reach Andromeda before the American Space Program (though the Americans would beat them to the planets and even to a few close stars)….  Hopi space-time verbs could eventually create a vehicular gestalt that would make times equal and simultaneous in the universe, hence allowing an individual to choose his position. In other words, there are certain distances that humans cannot travel unless unencumbered by phenomena and mass as we know them. [end of quote]


Scientists today are overliteralizing actual cosmic realities, dumbing down the universe.

Two things stand against reductionist materialism:

First, the universe doesn’t bottom out as matter but turns into something else. Electron microscopes and cyclotrons discover no statutory source. Instead of bottoming out, quarks and preons dissipate into energy, curvature, strings, quantum fields, whatever scientists choose to call it.

Guess what? Post-Newtonian physics with its self-immolating quarks is the physics of a mirage. Materialists know this, but they don’t believe it.

Second, consciousness that witnesses itself as consciousness does not fit any unified field theory of physics. I’m not saying that physicists don’t get out the shoehorn and make it fit. I am saying they do.


The quantum realm seems essential to breaking this deadlock because its repertoire of uncertainty states, superposition, entanglement, collapsed waves, etc., are the best wild cards available. They potentially include wormholes, negative space, time travel, quantum fields, galactic inertial fields, zero-point energies, dark matter, merry-go-rounds exerting repulsive forces, and a range of other models and instigations of very small objects and forces translating effects from nano-spaces into either human-size vehicles or miniature equivalents that can transfer body-minds or their vital information almost limitlessly and then presumably return them to human scale at either end. We perhaps need conceptual models linking quantum physics to phenomena currently considered paranormal, such as telekinesis and retrocausation, presuming there is a link.

Because all of our options arise from thought-based systems, my bias is to look at consciousness more closely. In a real Theory of Everything, mind should occupy a comparable position to other major cosmic forces or, more likely, lie outside the range for which algebraic equations can be written. Mind is the source of all equations too, not just one of their minions, which is not a secondary matter

Quantum entanglement only translates across zones of very tiny things into other quantum states. You can’t quantum-entangle horses; meteors never get spookily implicated. Yet paradoxically you don’t have to quantum-entangle horses for them to be quantum-entangled. Though quantum effects aren’t convertible to operating Newtonian machines, every object and life form is made of quantum fields and fluctuations, which are receptive, in some manner, to the mind-matter interface. If horses weren’t quantum-entangled, they wouldn’t be conscious (they wouldn’t even have mass); but I would argue, contrary to Roger Penrose, they are not conscious because they are entangled, they are entangled because they are conscious. The physical realm expresses quantum entanglement not because of its subatomic particles but because of an underlying entangled state that gives rise to both.

Mind or consciousness may precede matter, precede all aspects of a physical universe—not as an epiphenomenon of moleculocellular systems but in a sense of innate intelligence. To take a shot at this, I have rearranged sections from a few pieces of recent writing. Take this as imagination, speculation, or homage to the incomprehensible.


Deposits of minerals and life forms arrived on this planet as part of the same overall geochemical process but at quite different epochs. Remarkably the somewhat random distribution of molecules and compounds turned out to be modifiable into everything we seemed to need, from weapons, clothing, and vehicles to microscopes and computer networks. That speaks to either a remarkable ingenuity to turn lemons into lemonade or an intrinsic relationship between mind and matter.

Now I am not suggesting that modern technology was created by telekinesis, but I am suggesting a subtler long-term commutation between mind and matter or an intrinsic kinship between them. This gives hope, albeit for a reason unappealing to most scientists, that we may be able to adapt these same molecular deposits into objects we require or want for advanced propulsion systems.

Shamanic invocation had little impact on molecular formations—tens of thousands of years got called the Stone Age for a reason. Empirical applications modified matter immediately and durably in small venues, a hand axe, awl, a pot. At the same time, though, concentrated mind vibrated on subtle levels, transforming energy into physical form according to ideas and beliefs.

If you look at the planet today, you see the fruition of a collective Pleistocene thoughtform, the realization of Stone Age shamans’ unconscious projections and prayers. They instilled the current landscape from their desire for food, shelter, safety, power, and mobility. Translating imaginal objects into physical counterparts, they manifested wheels, engines, electricity, and cities, though they did not understand the nature of their objectifications. They had no templates and did not directly charm matter.

If the universe is fundamentally psychophysical, even scientific modes retain psychic aspects. When sixteenth-century magicians John Dee and Edward Kelley used angelic mantras and sigils/yantras to open gateways in nature, they were drawing on subconscious aspects of thought that were already flirting with form or predisposed to form. You can make just about anything if you imagine it long enough. Some things take hundreds of thousands of years and, in the case of Homo sapiens, you first have to develop physics and chemistry, as conscious energy’s subliminal intercession with the three-dimensional field may be what turns objectified mental states into artifacts. You often don’t know what you are making until it manifests, and that may be generations later.

Cars zooming down modernity’s roads are shamanic sigils. They are also the outcome of empirical thought applied to stone. But these converge over long periods of time.

In other words, humans could not have made machines out of matter unless matter had an aspect of mind in it.


All of us are matching the same picture. We are not just matching; we are creating it, as is every other creature. Birds surfing between rooftops share not only our DNA but our thoughtform. It determines that they are birds rather than humans (or bees or whales), that their picture is a bird one.

Like fireflies in temporary unison, our pictures are creating—well, reality. The reason it doesn’t look like a thoughtform is that so many entities, living and dead are projecting it through the physics of the world’s own manifestation. It’s impossible to see behind such a camouflage or dissipate its mirage.

The conundrum is how consciousness in the form of individual personal identities, each of which is known subjectively only to itself, gets inserted into a collective thoughtform and a shared material reality. This is where the quantum wave function underwrites a condition that is always potential and never exists in a purely physical form. It is as if our creative intelligence continually reformulates reality while generating the greater thoughtform that it co-creates with other identities.

Humanity’s noblest endeavor—not its crossbows and siege towers—up to the scientific revolution was to decipher thoughtforms and nature in tandem and make provisional keys. The universe is quite capable of running Darwinian selection and nonlocal consciousness simultaneously.

Once technocracy took over, thoughtforms were not so much banished as put under their own lockdown thoughtform, which kept them stripped them of rights, power, and their true nature. The result has been an outburst of violence, cruelty, and madness because you can’t hide a whole universe in a porcelain pitcher or a safety-deposit box.

The reason why all this didn’t spring from nothing in the the middle of nowhere for no reason is that it is rooted in a thoughtform, and not just a thoughtform but a progression of thoughtforms radiating from the Creation machinery of All That Is. New thoughtforms, unlimited in expression and design, continually arise, changing the nature of reality. These are, in effect, quantum vacuum fluctuations or alchemical seeds that predominated space-time before thought and matter were separated, and they retain equal range into either.

The thoughtform visible through the Hubble telescope as countless galaxies is being created and transmuted this very moment by intelligent life forms, ourselves included; it is a residue of the creation and destruction of trillions of tulpas emanating from All That Is at the frequency and collective intelligence of spirits everywhere.

If the universe were real, it would be exactly the same as it is, so it is real and looks exactly like this, but in a totally other way. I’ll let the collective intelligence Seth, said to be composed of thousands of individuals who have completed multiple life cycles, articulate what I am trying to say because he can bracket this matter from where he is, and I can’t:

“[T]his dimension [e.g., source realm] nurses your own world, reaching down into your system. These realities are still only those at the edge of the one in which you have your present existence. Far beyond are others, so alien to you that I could not explain them. Yet they are connected with your own life, and they find expression even within the smallest cells of your flesh….

“We do not understand the nature of the reality you are creating, even though the seeds were given to you by us. We respect it and revere it. Do not let the weak sounds of this voice confuse you. The strength behind it would form the world as you know it and sustain it for centuries.”


Perhaps the reason that metamaterial models of the universe are not more obvious or discoverable by experiments is that our minds are interfering with our research at a more fundamental level than we recognize. Jeff Kripal, who will be speaking to some of you later this month, has proposed a trickster factor that comes into play whenever we are in dialogue with a transpersonal intelligence. The intelligence pushes back in the manner of sublimation or reaction formation. It plays with synchronicities and space-time, teasing us in ways we might tease ourselves or in which Native American clowns like Coyote and Raven fooled humans and other animals from the dawn time. For those who accept crop circles as ET artifacts, a similar game may be in play.

Remote viewing is another metamaterial rubric. Ingo Swann remote-identified Soviet sites for SRI and the CIA and taught some of his colleagues how to do it, so, depending on who you ask about how it all unfolded, the process potentially has efficacy. If you can remote-view, you may be able to remote-send. That would certainly solve a lot of advanced-propulsion problems.

I have mentioned shamanic travel. Trained spiritual teachers from indigenous cultures throughout the planet visit other planets, universes, and dimensions. One could exclude all of these as hallucinations and/or primitivisms, but a vast literature shows remarkable consistencies among places visited and ways of getting there, which suggest a Rosetta stone from shamanic to interstellar travel.

In addition, there are longstanding Hindu and theosophical planes of being. These represent separate frequencies of reality with their own laws, landscapes, and sentient entities. Our own physical plane is the densest and, as you know, it isn’t even particularly dense. Nothing solid underlies it or holds it up. When scientists turn their instruments on a dab of matter (of which everything is made) and peer inside it for the goods, they find gateways to realms that are simultaneously incomprehensibly vast and impenetrably tiny. Space, time, and matter vanish into energy, curvature, and uncertainty states.

Matter only looks like matter. Physicists once thought to find bottom, but there is no bottom. Neither is there bottomlessness, just dissolution of form or transition to another mode of form. What they proved was that the universe was not created in the way they would make a universe.

We ourselves experience it as physical because we are vibrating at its frequency, collapsing it collectively into form, however you choose to understand that.

Other planes and subplanes in this system include the Etheric, Astral, Mental, Causal, Buddhic, Atmic, and Monadic, though names vary by culture. Within the human operating range, there are seven such planes, but only the lower ranges of the lowest three are experienced in everyday life by most creatures.

Travelling across cosmogenic planes requires meditation, frequency-change, and receptivity to a different logic, etc.

From the standpoint of this gathering, the usefulness of these planes may be that they have continuity with physical-material space but are inhabited by different beings operating under different laws, like the leprechauns and faeries whom a surprising number of rural dwellers in Ireland and Iceland recognize passing through a different frequency of their geography. In this system, Mercury, Venus, Jupiter, Neptune, even the Sun and Moon, etc., are said to be inhabited in many other planes. Let me read from Seth on this.

“Your idea of space travel is to journey over the ‘skin of your universe….’ Your own coordinates close you off from recognizing that there are indeed other intelligences alive even within your own solar system…. You may physically visit the ‘very same planet’ on which they reside, but to you the planet will appear barren, or not able to support life.

“In the same way, others can visit your planet with the same results…. Some intelligent beings have visited your planet, finding not the world you know but a probable one….

“Effective space travel, creative space travel on your part, will not occur until you learn that your space-time system is one focus. Otherwise you will seem to visit one dead world after another, blind to civilizations that may exist on any of them. Some of these difficulties could be overcome if you learned to understand the … multidimensionality of even your own physical structure ….

“[U]ntil you understand that, you will not … be able to thoroughly explore any planet—or any reality, including your own.”


Many of you know of the high-echelon Tibetan-lama training system of phowa, to relocate a practitioner’s mind in other bodies or objects and ultimately to chose a next destination for rebirth. That kind of travel doesn’t involve advance propulsion or even fuel.

In addition, there are plenty of accounts of ordinary people, including children in the  recent U.S. like James Leininger and Ryan Hammons recalling precise details from recent identifiable past lives. James Leininger reenacted the death of James Huston, a World War II pilot, naming his shipmates and mission. Ryan Hammons elicited 55 significant details from the life of Marty Marks, a 1930s actor and agent in Hollywood. Ian Stevenson and Jim Tucker and their colleagues at the University of Virginia researched thousands of such cases worldwide over many decades.

My point is merely to say that to talk about moving entities among worlds very far apart, much more needs to be understood about the nature of the entities travelling, the worlds themselves, and the universe’s overall modes of transport and transfer. Perhaps one gets to the Pleiaidian system most cost-effectively by being reborn there. Long-distance travel is handled by the latency of Creation itself. The whispers of the dead may be what get us from the crooked arrow to the clue in the hydrogen atom to the inverted complexity of the Big Bang.

Jeff Kripal’s trickster notion could be applied to space travel. It is possible that our capacity for interstellar and intergalactic flight, like our capacity for remote viewing, telekinesis, and retrocausation, is directly related to our current psychic and spiritual or even moral development and that we are running into systems that are not value-neutral or objective in the way that scientific experiments and technologies are.

I emailed Dan Drasin, a journalist and media producer, who has straddled the space-science/metaphysical line since the 1970s, about these issues, and he wrote back:

Any venturing into psychic phenomena and other supraphysical arenas surely puts us into territory where, as the first order of business, we need to understand our own natures and motives far more deeply than we do now. Pushing boundaries within the constraints of 3-D reality (however naive, mischievous or misguided) would seem to be relatively harmless in the grand scheme of things. When one ventures out into higher dimensions without first becoming intimate with them on an inner level (which presupposes becoming familiar with oneself on an inner level, and how one projects the reality one perceives) one may be playing with fire on thin ice.

I have no idea to what extent the lore surrounding the putatively catastrophic Philadelphia and Montauk Experiments is true, but even viewed as fiction in the vein of The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, these stories do provide sobering food for thought, and should be taken to heart by anyone considering exploring in these directions.

I think most of our collective assumptions about space travel have been formed more by the shallow glamor and veiled machismo of twentieth-century sci-fi than by much genuine understanding or deep perception.


The Philadelphia and Montauk Experiments might indeed function as cautionary myths rather than actual experiments gone wrong. We are taking a lot for granted in proposing to go very far away in machines. The settlement of the indigenous Americas and Australia, allegorized in the movie Avatar and the more recent Shape of Water, which is not even interplanetary, likewise serve as cautionary tales. Scientific curiosity and the terrestrial benefits of space technology are legitimate values, but going somewhere else in ways that challenge the basic nature of matter and mind as we understand them may have psychospiritual and moral implications. Even to get from quantum fields to intergalactic space flight probably encompasses an ontological transformation at the level of our identity. So what are our priorities as a species, a planet, a scientific community, and a nation?

Going to the Moon and Mars robotically is quotidian, with human habitation probably achievable to some extent within decades. Going to to a planet in the Crab Nebula 6,500 light years away, or even Keper-452b in Cygnus, 1400 lights years from here, confronts not only the topology of space-time and the range of quantum fields but the stability of personal identity, the nature of mortality, the distinction between inner and outer space, the relationship of shamanic worlds and other frequencies of reality to Earth’s physical geography, and the relationship of any alien world to our political and ecological situation here (as well as theirs there)?

How we solve the physics may be inseparable from where we want to go and what we want to do when we get there. This is already true of shamanic and dimensional traveling. We may have to meld the physics with our psychic and moral development just to get started. At that level, propulsion has telekinetic and clairsentient aspects. Question is, what would that look like cyborged into an interstellar vehicle?

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