This is an interesting little bit of mind candy I saw in a metaphysical bookstore while on a trip. It made the wait in the airport and the flight home go very quickly, and it really is rather entertaining and thought provoking.
This is an ambitious undertaking, trying in one fell swoop to present, as the author says, "An Integral Theory of Everything". What Laszlo does here is present a number of anomalies from the fields of physics (cosmology and quantum physics), biology and "consciousness research", and then he tries to explain all these anomalies with the theory of an "Akashic Field" in which this and perhaps infinite other universes are embedded. This Akashic Field contains and is the source for not only all matter and energy, but for consciousness as well. Heady stuff, but it is not a rigorously "hard science" presentation, rather one that is approachable even by people with little exposure to scientific thought. And yet he then makes it even more approachable: he nicely divides the book into chapters of varying scientific difficulty, so that the true novice can still read the book and follow the essence of his argument merely by skipping the slightly more rigorous sections and chapters. It is a thoughtful touch that he pulls off quite nicely.
I've had more than a passing interest in this field for several decades now. I trained as a biologist and microbiologist who ultimately went into psychiatry after med school, with an initial interest and emphasis on Transpersonal Psychology and "consciousness research", even training for three years with Stan Grof, whose work is mentioned in the book. I'm also an amateur astronomer with some education in physics, and probably would have gone into physics if my math skills were better when I went back to school after a six year hiatus. I've also practiced Eastern religions for twenty years, and am familiar with the teachings about things "Akashic". So, many of the things discussed in the book are quite familiar to me.
This background has not only made the book a bit more interesting to me than it might be to others, but it has also put me in a position to be a bit more critical of some of its claims. Here are my criticisms of this otherwise highly entertaining book.
First, I'm afraid the reviewer here that has been flamed so badly as "not helpful" for criticizing some of the science behind Laszlo's claims is largely correct; it is often not very rigorous science at all.
Lazlo also seems to have fallen prey to the annoying push by those in this field to become "The Great Prophet of the New Paradigm". Ever since this "new paradigm" and "paradigm shift" stuff came out of Kuhn's writings in 1962, every narcissistic scientific rebel wants to be the special new savior who overthrows the existing order and leads us to some utopian scientific promised land. It is certainly possible that someone eventually will, but somehow I doubt it's going to be these folks who have written in this field for decades.
Reading this book I also found myself annoyed by another tendency I have noticed in those who are attracted to this field; the desire to avoid the acknowledgement of God, and the active avoidance of the use of that term even when appropriate. It is sad to watch the New Age mental gymnastics that the author goes through when finally, through his own search and reasoning, he finds himself up against the Ultimate Mystery, merely one more theoretical level removed from the mystery people have referred to as "God" for millennia. His explanation for what almost anyone else would call "God" is, of course, the "Akashic Field", sort of a cosmic "Gaia Hypothesis" on steroids. A belief in both science AND God is not only possible, but pretty common: and yet not for these folks. It's as if people in this field will simply do anything to avoid saying the word "God", and it seems to keep things on a far less profound level in the process. Hence my response that this is merely very nice "mind candy". When you are staring IT in the face, why not just humble yourself and speak of God?
I'm reminded of a great quote from Robert Jastrow's "God and the Astronomers":
"For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries".
Or, as Neem Karoli Baba said, "It is better to see God in everything than to try to figure it out".