About 90% of the universe is Dark Matter. Starting from the Big Bang, 10% of matter, recognized as the Physical Universe, came into being.  These estimates are the result of recent measurements and calculations using the latest advancements of space technology and its methods of detection. Basically, from the point of view of the prevailing physical science establishment up to the present era, the physical universe was everything. Space was just 'empty' space, a vacuum-nothingness with no content or form. Until recently there was not sufficient technology or base of knowledge as to the nature of subatomic quanta (wave/particles) or how to detect them in a free state in nature.

During the 19th century our understanding of electromagnetic phenomena was pioneered, and the knowledge that electricity and magnetism were related phenomena and that light was a form of electromagnetic energy was established. In the 20th Century, a new picture of matter and the atom emerged in quantum mechanics.  The chemical properties of matter became attributable to electrical charge-the same electrical charge found to be responsible for light in the previous century. From the point of view of the electric field, the atom appears solid, but from the point of view of mass, the atom appears very empty. Quantum mechanics showed that not only do we see objects because of electrical charge (and not because of the properties of mass) but also we can hold and feel objects because of the properties of electrical charge (and not because of the properties of mass).

The detection of "dark matter" has to be made indirectly, through the observation of its gravitational effect. Because it has mass, "dark matter" can exert a gravitational pull on visible matter. So, looking into outer space with our most sophisticated instruments we can observe gravitational influences on distant stars, gas clouds, nebulae, galaxies and other celestial phenomena, but we cannot see the matter which produces the influences. The existence of uncharged particles is not new, but the discovery of "dark matter" seems different from what is known to date in that it makes up at least 90% of the universe, and is apparently stable. What we normally think of as the 'galaxy' -- the pinwheel of stars -- is in fact only a part of the entire structure. It is surrounded by, and immersed in, a globe of unseen dark matter that makes up at least 90 percent of its mass.

The real story of the Universe, it seems, is in its "dark matter." There are two broad categories for the explanation of "dark matter." It can be burnt out stars -- white dwarfs or black holes, or, it can be matter which is not composed of electrically charged particles. This simple property makes this matter invisible to our normal vision, and also would give "dark matter" the ability to interpenetrate with visible matter, i.e., it could pass right through visible matter. The property of "interpenetrability" of this type of "dark matter" with visible matter strikes a chord with the subtle matter of the mystical traditions.


Mysticism is a discipline involved with knowledge and techniques which are of value in assisting the individual toward spiritual growth. It is a very pragmatic discipline, concerned with direct experience, or awareness of spiritual truth, of ultimate reality, etc. Spiritual methodology is not based on external experimentation, but internal observation. As an age old tradition which continues to develop, mysticism is expansive, covering numerous concepts and doctrines.

Spiritual Traditions from India and Tibet

Humans are composed of several interpenetrating sheaths or subtle bodies, which are made up of matter from different planes, each of different relative density. The densest of these sheaths is what we normally regard as our physical body, the body that is visible to our normal vision. The other sheaths are not visible to our everyday vision.

The second sheath is a subtle, fine-material sheath known as the prana [chi (qi)] or etheric body. This gives the visible body life and consciousness through the prana/chi. In western mysticism, the astral body is noted in addition to the etheric body, and is apparently combined with the pranic/chi subtle body. The next even finer sheath is our 'thought body' or 'personality,' our mental body. This body is necessary for rational and intellectual thinking. The fourth sheath is the body of our potential consciousness, which extends far beyond our active thoughts. It comprises the totality of our spiritual capacities and is apparently equivalent to the soul in western mysticism. The last and finest sheath [fifth], the spirit body-which penetrates all the previous ones-is the body of the highest, universal consciousness. It is only experienced in a state of enlightenment, or in the highest states of meditation.

These sheaths are not separate layers forming around a center, but are mutually penetrating forms of matter, from the finest matter down to the densest form of matter, which appears before us as our visible body. The corresponding finer or subtler sheaths penetrate, and thus contain the grosser ones. Just as the material body is built up through nourishment, while being penetrated and kept alive by the vital forces of the prana/chi, the body of active thought-consciousness penetrates the functions of prana in the same way and determines the form of bodily appearance.

Soul body, mind body, prana/chi body, and visible body, however, are viewed as being penetrated and motivated by a still deeper and finer matter, spirit [shen in in Taoist terminology]. This 'finer spirit matter' penetrates these grosser bodies and stores up the material that our thought and imagination draws its substance from. It is therefore only the spiritual body that penetrates all the five layers and thus integrates all organs and faculties of the individual into one complete whole. In mysticism, the finest matters appear to be associated with the deepest truths, or spiritual understandings.

Prana-or Chi (Qi) in Taoist Terminology

Along with these sheaths or mystical bodies are the energy centers or chakras [cauldrons in Taoist lore], which are also not visible to our normal vision. The chakras/cauldrons collect, transform and distribute the forces flowing through them. These chakras/cauldrons are at points in which 'psychic forces' and bodily functions merge into each other or penetrate each other. Connecting the sheaths (kosas) and chakras/cauldrons are subtle vessels called nadis/meridians, which serve as conductors of the energies that flow through the subtle bodies. To a certain extent, they parallel the nerve-system in the body, and they are very numerous. However, there are three major nadis/meridians-the central channel or susumna, which runs like a hollow channel through the center of the spinal column (relative to the visible body) and the ida and pingala, which are two channels wrapped around the susumna-nadi/meridian in a spiral fashion, starting from the left and the right nostrils respectively, and meeting susumna in the perineum at the base of the spine. They establish a direct connection among the seven chakras/cauldrons. In Tibetan [and Taoist] descriptions, pingala and ida are often simply called the 'right and left nadi,' and there is no mention of a spiral movement of these nadis around the susumna.

With our ordinary vision we cannot see the mystical subtle bodies, or the chakras, or the nadis, but all these bodies and chakras interact with each other to form the whole human being. To function as a human being, we are constantly using these subtle bodies even though we are not conscious of them. To the true practitioner of mysticism, these truths are as real to them as scientific truths are to the scientist. By turning inward, mysticism has concentrated its exploration of the universe on those concepts which are of value to spiritual growth. 

East Meets West

The "dark matter" can be defined as matter which is void of charged particles and therefore cannot be seen with our normal vision and can interpenetrate with visible matter. For example, if the universe contained 'atoms' which were held together by a 'force' other than the electromagnetic force, these 'atoms' would not be visible to our normal vision and could interpenetrate with visible atoms.

Recalling what we know of the mystical properties of subtle bodies and subtle matter, the subtle bodies capable of interpenetrating our visible body must be composed of various forms of uncharged "dark matter," if they physically exist (have mass). Interpenetration with visible matter is a property of "dark matter" which is void of charged particles. What the mystics were describing was a type of "dark matter" long before scientists discovered "dark matter." How could they have known that such a matter could exist? In our everyday life we are unaware of the existence of these subtle bodies, but the true mystics have developed techniques that make it possible for them to experience the universe from the perspective of their subtle bodies. In so doing they can look out upon the universe and observe the "dark matter" with their "dark matter" subtle body vision.

Long before "dark matter" was discovered, C.W. Leadbeater said "All these varieties of finer matter exist not only in the world without, but they exist in man also. He has not only the physical body which we see, but he has within him what we may describe as bodies appropriate to these various planes of nature, and consisting in each case of their matter."12 Through our visible body we are able to experience the visible world, and through the different unique types of subtle matter of which we consist, man can experience the corresponding outer world when he becomes conscious of that respective subtle body. Again, Leadbeater says "The soul of man has not one body but many bodies, for when he is sufficiently evolved he is able to express himself on all these different levels of nature, and he is therefore provided with a suitable vehicle of matter belonging to each, and it is through these various vehicles that he is able to receive impressions from the world to which they correspond."13 To the mystic who has acquired awareness of his subtle bodies, "dark matter" is not dark.

Furthermore, looking at the accounts of individuals who have experienced these other planes of matter (such as during near-death experiences or in mystical states), it would appear that the sense of time and space associated with these various forms of subtle matter are different from that associated with visible matter. Each subtle body seems to have a unique sense of time and space, and this suggests that time-space relationships are dependent upon the type of matter one is conscious of or experiencing. Clearly this would make it very difficult to communicate these experiences to those familiar with only our usual sense of time and space.


Our scientific understanding of the Big Bang as a single energy event which presumably created simultaneously all matter and time and space, is, interestingly enough, not the likely source of the "dark matter" we are discussing. The traditional view of mysticism is that the more dense forms of matter were born out of the finer forms of matter, a Creation "which is divided into seven major planes of consciousness or matter"14. Our present scientific understanding of the origins of the Universe indicates that matter was created out of the Big Bang about 15 billion years ago. Our understanding of this event is sufficient that these unique types of subtle "dark matter" were not very likely formed in that event. Subtle "dark matter," however, could have existed before the Big Bang, because our comprehension of the Big Bang is based on the behavior of visible (luminous) matter. The microwave background radiation of the universe (the "echo" of the Big Bang), and primordial nucleosynthesis (Big Bang atomic nuclear production) are the two quantitative tests supporting the hot Big Bang Theory. Of course both of these phenomena are based on radiation producing (luminous matter) observation, as is also the red shift which originally indicated an expanding universe.

We can no longer assume that all matter was created at the Big Bang, even though luminous matter clearly was. Some form of "dark matter" ['Primordial Chi' or 'Original Force' in Taoist terminology] may have existed before the Big Bang. To have some sort of primordial "dark matter" present before the Big Bang would indicate that the Big Bang was created out of a certain percentage of this primordial "dark matter," but not all of it was "converted" to luminous matter. Thus we still have much of this primordial "dark matter" around.

This summary is from "'Dark Matter'--The Physical Basis for Mysticism"; 18 pages; ©Deno Kazanis, Ph.D., 1997. Any part of that article may be copied providing credit is given. This summary has been extracted, compiled and edited (with Taoist terms added) by Dennis Huntington.