The title of this article is a double entendre. In part, it refers to an ongoing chicken/egg debate about which came first, consciousness or matter. But, it also refers to something long discussed in spiritual circles, which is that varying forms of matter exist just as varying forms of consciousness exist.

We’ll discuss the matter vs. consciousness-first issue as the relationship between consciousness and matter. Let’s posit that consciousness and energy are one in the same. That is, consciousness is an intelligent energy present in all phenomena in varying degrees. Matter, in turn, is a form of energy. This is a scientifically accepted axiom expressed by Einstein’s famous E=mc2 formula. Herein lies our first key to the relationship between consciousness and matter: consciousness = energy = matter.

“Panpsychism is a growing belief in scientific and philosophical circles that everything contains consciousness differing only in vibrational frequency (meaning the degree of information present).”

— Peter Canova

A near-universal tenet of different spiritual traditions, and even certain aspects of psychological theory, believe that humans are composite beings existing at differing levels of consciousness with corresponding subtle bodies composed of ever finer degrees of matter. So, kind of like layers of phyllo dough in a Greek pastry, we’re walking sheaths of varying degrees of consciousness and matter.

If the idea of subtle, invisible matter seems a bit speculative or “New Agey” to you, you might want to consider a few postulates of modern science. Our universe is not only permeated by unseen energies, but by unseen matter called dark matter. In fact, dark matter is six-times more present in the universe than visible matter. It’s what holds the universe together counteracting the force known as dark energy that is causing the universe to expand. 

Scientists know how to manipulate energy and understand some of its properties, but they have no idea what it is or where it comes from. To say consciousness is intelligent energy means that energy (and here we mean the light energy that makes the perception of a physical universe possible) contains directive information. Just as DNA governs the form and multiplicity of physical bodies, the information delivered by photons of light energy and other subatomic particles governs the attributes that comprise visible and unseen dimensions of existence. Everything in existence carries units of information or bits of consciousness. Panpsychism is a growing belief in scientific and philosophical circles that everything contains consciousness differing only in vibrational frequency (meaning the degree of information present).

What does all this tell us? It tells us that consciousness and matter are intimately bound together, so we have every reason to assume that the subtle bodies of which mystical traditions speak are also forms of matter – albeit of higher, undetectable energy vibrations. Matter in its various forms may be the vehicle that spirit needs to express itself at all levels of being. So, without matter, there would be no individual existence beyond the purely spiritual energy of the Source Consciousness.

If we understand the antecedents that lead to matter–consciousness, energy and information – we can learn to work with these forces to affect matter in the form of healing facilitated by dreaming, imagining and meditating. We can become real channels for personal and collective change in our lives. The first step to experiencing such things is having a conceptual framework to work within, which is the purpose of this article. But don’t stop here. Make your own inquiries, work with the concepts and create your own direct experience with higher consciousness.

Peter Canova of Rancho Mirage is a multi-award-winning author and international businessman. His latest book, Quantum Spirituality, is a highly acclaimed work connecting centuries of spiritual wisdom with modern science. For more information and podcast links, visit

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