Part 2


A Comprehensive Theory of Consciousness:
A Theory of Enformed Systems


Donald E. Watson
Director, James Clerk Maxwell Project,
Human Energy Systems Laboratory,
University of Arizona

Gary E. R. Schwartz
Professor of Psychology, Neurology and Psychiatry,
Director, Human Energy Systems Laboratory,
University of Arizona

Linda G. S. Russek
Co-Director, Human Energy Systems Laboratory,
University of Arizona

The Theory of Enformed Systems (TES) is the conceptual framework of Systemics—the branch of science that studies holistic systems at all levels of complexity. This presentation summarizes the Theory of Meta-Systems that extends TES to comprehend not only consciousness, but the behavior and properties of enformed systems at all ontological levels.

What is an enformed system?

An enformed system is organized as a whole by enformy—the fundamental, conserved capacity to organize.(1,2) (See our other paper: A Comprehensive Theory of Consciousness I: Enformy and Enformed Systems.)

What are Meta-Systems?

Meta-systems are enformed systems existing at three ontological levels: Material, Energy, and Enformy.
  • Material Systems are both physical and material. (Physical denotes belonging to Physics—i.e., energy/mass and matter, and material means "of matter.")
  • Energy Systems are physical but nonmaterial.

  • Enformy Systems are prephysical.

What is an Energy System ("Energy Meta-system")?
The concept of an Energy System3 inheres two concepts:

(1) energy: the capacity to perform work and overcome resistance; and

(2) system: the interaction of elemental entities (subsystems) with prephysical, four-dimensional maps of the relationships of these entities in spacetime to create unique wholes (enformed systems).

How are Energy Systems created?

Because energy can interact with energy (e.g. in the "vacuum"), energy combines with energy to create dynamic Energy Systems.

How are Energy Systems organized?

Enformy creates and sustains the organization of Energy Systems.

How do Energy Systems relate to Material Systems?

(1) If matter is created by energy (a widely accepted concept in physics), it follows that Energy Systems can create Material Systems.

(2) Because they are organized, Energy Systems sustain the organized work observed in Material Systems.

What kinds of Meta-systems are living organisms?

  • Living organisms comprise all three levels of Meta-systems.

  • Material Systems, which are the products of the two more fundamental systems.
  • Energy Systems are fundamental to Material systems.

  • Enformy Systems are fundamental to Energy Systems.

What kind of Meta-system relates to consciousness?
The phenomena and noumena commonly identified as, or attributed to, "consciousness" express the existence, properties, and behaviors of Enformy Systems.
  • The entity often identified as "consciousness" is an Enformy System, or SELF ("Singular Enformed Living Field").
  • Human SELFs can report products of their "experience" in the first person.

  • SELFs experience self-awareness and state-awareness.

  • Through state-awareness, SELFs exhibit perception, cognition, and telepathy.

What Meta-systems account for perception?
Sensory perception is the product of symmetric, concomitant correspondences among Enformy, Energy, and Material Systems. When a brain state as a whole changes with sensing the environment, the SELF changes as a whole—not element by element. Hence, there is no "binding problem."4

What Meta-systems account for motor activity?

As with perception, all three ontological levels are expressed. Because interactions among Enformy, Energy, and Material Systems are concomitant and symmetric, the brain changes to correspond to the states of SELFs ("thoughts" or "intentions" in human terms). Hence, there is no "cause-effect" relationship between the Enformy System and the Material system—and there is no "mind-body problem."

Further, there is no "symmetry problem," as inherent in Eccles' psychon hypothesis5: The SELF "controls" its own brain, and the brain concomitantly "controls" its associated SELF.

Is the conscious experience of humans fundamental?

Conscious human experience is fundamental to epistemology, but it is not ontologically fundamental. It is a very high level of SELF activity that is created from many, more fundamental levels of activity.

Do non-living systems "experience" their own states?

At an Enformy System level, we can say that photons "know" their own polarization states, and the source of this "knowledge" can be termed "experience." However, anthropocentric terms that devive from introspection are superfluous and misleading. Under TES, all Enformy Systems (e.g., humans and photons) self-conform and state-conform. These are rudimentary to conscience experience.

What Meta-systems account for the behavior of Material systems?

The behavior of Material Systems entails organized work. Hence, behaviors derive from "organized energy," which is an expression of Energy Systems. The organization inhered in Energy Systems, in turn, is sustained by enformy acting through organizing fields—Enformy Systems (SELFs).

What Meta-systems account for morphogenesis?

Enformy Systems (SELFs) are the four-dimensional organizing fields—or "maps"—that guide the formation of organisms. Because SELFs are sustained by enformy, this organizing principle is fundamental to, and absolutely necessary for, morphogenesis.

Are Enformy Systems the same as Sheldrake's "morphic fields?"

No. Sheldrake conceptualizes "morphic fields" as three-dimensional—not four-dimensional as Enformy Systems are. Moreover, he conceptualizes morphic fields themselves as having the capacity to organize the "characteristic structure and pattern of activity" of Material systems.

How does TES differ from Sheldrake's hypothesis?

Under TES, enformy, the capacity to organize, is essential to morphogenesis: It (1) sustains the organization of Enformy Systems (organizing fields); and (2) imposes the enformation (nonrandomness) inherent in these fields on Material systems.

What distinguishes living from non-living physical systems?

At the fundamental level of Enformy Systems, there is no distinction between living and non-living systems. These types of systems diverge only as the ontological levels (complexity) of living systems increase.
The Theory of Meta-systems provides an ontological theory for two nonlocal, atemporal phenomena: (1) quantum correlation, as evidenced in the Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen (EPR) phenomenon6,7; and (2) the "nonlocal mind,"8 as evidenced in telepathy (ESP),9 psychokinesis,10 psychic healing,11 remote viewing,12 and the homing behaviors of pigeons and other animals.13

What Meta-systems are involved in ESP?

Enformy Systems are primarily involved. ESP occurs when subsets of two SELFs cohere in spacetime, and the states of the "receiving" SELF change to correspond to the enformation (nonrandomness) shared by both SELFs. The Energy System and the Material system (brain states) are involved secondarily, as functions of concomitant changes in the SELF.

What Meta-systems are involved in psychokinesis (PK)?

PK and ESP differ only in the degree of work performed by the receiving system. Activity of the Energy System is prominent in macro-PK (e.g., mechanical cascades and poltergeists), and less so in ESP and micro-PK (RNGs).

What Meta-systems are involved in "energy healing?"

Energy healing begins with Enformy Systems, which transfer organizing enformation to Energy Systems. The Energy Systems perform the work required to organize—or reorganize—the Material system, thereby restoring health (wholeness) to the Material system.

What Meta-systems are involved in remote viewing?

Remote viewing (clairvoyance) occurs when subsets of a SELF cohere in spacetime with subsets of remote SELFs to provide enformation to the receiving SELF. Remote SELFs can include SELFs of inanimate systems.


The Theory of Enformed Systems (TES) and its derivative Theory of Meta-Systems (TEM) describe the properties and behaviors of three ontological levels of organization: material (living and inanimate systems), physical (energy/mass), and prephysical ("spiritual").

TES and TEM represent major advances in the theory of systems. The parsimony and transdisciplinary nature of these theories makes them prime candidates for a new scientific paradigm.


  1. Watson, D. E. (1997b). Enformy and enformed gestalts: A model of life, mind, health. Advances: The Journal of Mind-Body Health 13 (4), 32-36. (
  1. Watson, D. E., G. E. Schwartz & L. G. Russek (1998). A Comprehensive Theory of Consciousness: Enformy and Enformed Systems (submitted to J. Scientific Exploration.)

  2. Schwartz, G.E. and L.G. Russek (1997). Dynamical energy systems and modern physics: Fostering the science and spirit of complementary and alternative medicine. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine 3(3) 46-56.

  3. Damasio, A. R. (1989) Neural Computat. 1, 123-132.

  4. Eccles, J. C. (1994). How the Self Controls its Brain. Berlin: Springer-Verlag.

  5. Einstein, A., B. Podalsky, and N. Rosen (1935). Can quantum-mechanical description of physical reality be considered complete? Physical Review, 47, 777-780.

  6. Aspect, A., P. Grangier, and G. Roger (1982). Experimental realization of Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen-Bohm Gedankenexperiment: A new violation of Bell's inequalities. Physical Review Letters 49, 91-94.

  7. Dossey L. (1997). Lessons from twins: on nature, nurture, and consciousness. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine 3 (3):8-15.

  8. Bem, D. J. and C. Honorton (1994). Does psi exist? Replicable evidence for an anomalous process of information transfer. Psychological Bulletin 115 (1), 4-18.

  9. Jahn, R. G., B. J. Dunne and R. D. Nelson (1987). Engineering anomalies research. Journal of Scientific Exploration 1 (1), 21-50.

  10. Dossey, L. (1993). Healing Words: The Power of Prayer and the Practice of Medicine. San Francisco: HarperCollins.

  11. Targ, R. J. (1996). Remote viewing at Stanford Research Institute in the 1970s: A memoir. Journal of Scientific Exploration 10 (2), 77-88.

  12. Sheldrake, R. (1995b) Seven Experiments That Could Change the World. New York: Riverhead Books.

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