As we enter the world we are infinite. We have no boundary. We are also zero. At three months, or so, we begin to distinguish that there is an “other” – the breast as part object. By 6 months old the boundary between us and the other (usually mother) is clear; and often frightening. Warmth, food, security and affection can be withdrawn as well as present. Our world is strait, though we do not know it. As we age and explore we push the boundary back; and back. If we are fortunate, and conquer our fear, we realise once more that there is no boundary. We are existence and all of existence is us. Death is an illusion. When we leave the world we can then fade to white and lose the loneliness and fear that haunts life, to experience all that is directly once more.
Metamorphosis. Water becomes ice, caterpillars pupate, emerging into butterflies. We journey together in a co-evolving emergence from one state to quite another. Ancient creatures become rock, or oil or shale gas. All it takes is time – a healer, but also a wheeler-dealer. Yet; mostly we think of the material world as static and secure. How strange. We manage that by focussing on shorter and smaller time segments. Thus we can ignore the riverine flow of rocks, the evolution from raw plasma to chemicals to biology to ideas. Why? Fear, I suspect, is to blame. The terror, the existential angst that is located in our ego – which of course is definitely going down with these particular bodies that we temporarily inhabit. Why do we let our ego rule over us, when – just here, just now, in the reflection of the pool of the universe is our real deathless self. Rupert Brookes “.. and think this heart, all evil shed away – a pulse in the eternal mind, no less” There is a collection of molecules called “I”. They change completely every three years or so, but the “I” continues. Isn’t there a clue here? There will come a moment when a particular set of atoms finally disperses amongst billions of creatures. When they are bound by covalent bonds to the molecules that are in you as you become a billion others. Physically we are a constantly exchanging bubbling molecular soup. We’re not separate at all – either from each other or the rest of the physical world. That’s not how we see it though. We are ego-centric. Each of us the pivot around which existence arcs. Like Narcissus, transfixed by inner absorption. But our self-image is just a trick of the light. Look past the surface of the pool with its (reversed) image that we see reflected. There, within the water, is the flow of life which is our home. Humanity has been at the leading edge of the evolution of consciousness. And so we think we are “it”, “all that is”. But consciousness is a wave, a process. Yes we are (now) at the crest of the wave that is consciousness, but we are not, some fixed centre of existence. Not the wave – something much bigger – we are the ocean. Together, we carry all the tides and tsunamis. Constantly flowing and emerging into new realities. Profuse connection and abundant writhing change. The two things we truly know. Where to? Where from? Why? God only knows.
Reality is bound up with the present. This, according to Zen and as re-expressed by Eckhart Tolle – the Power of Now..
The present, now, is the door to reality and focus on the past and future distracts from the intensity of experience.
How does that square with Alfred North Whitehead’s theory of relativity – where reality is a process and certainly not an instant?
It seems to me that the integration of these two concepts through the interpretation of the present – Now – as momentary rather than instantaneous. By this I mean to include the immediate past and the immediate future into a lengthened and extended instant. I think (though I’m never certain when trying to understand Process and Reality) that this is what Whitehead refers to as prehension.
It seems then that consciousness requires some element of time, that which immediately surrounds the instant in which we exist. It is observation that crystallises out the particular reality which we choose. (Bohr, Born, Schrodinger – the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics). The experience of reality requires the flow of time – to allow the immediate past and future to give context to the instant that is now.
Consciousness can then be described as observation surfing on time, and the fragment of time that surrounds the instant creates the moment in which we exist. Hence – reality as momentum, moment.
Donald Winnicott (paediatrician and psychoanalyst) studied the development of the Self within the child. He found that an infant is reliant on a “good-enough” mother (he was writing in the ’40’s, ’50s and ’60’s) to reveal to the infant that their feelings are real. Initially an infant believes he/she is omnipotent. He/she does not know there is a Not-Me. The reality of the loving mother as an “external object” is established by her survival of the child’s attempt to destroy her – and doing this whilst continuing to love. It is a parent’s fundamental role in allowing their child to develop a sense of the their reality in relation to all-else that they provide a “holding” environment within which the child can develop.
God, of course, is the archetype of parent. So, perhaps it is necessary for-human kind that we try to destroy God, and it is in the ever-loving survival of our destruction – that we finally perceive His (or Her) loving reality?
In Winnicott’s words..
“The self is first made real through recognition, the object is first made real through aggressive destruction; and this of course, makes experience of the object feel real to the self. The object is placed outside omnipotent control by being destroyed while, in fact surviving the destruction”. In an illustrative dialogue about the process “The subject says to the object: ‘I have destroyed you’, and the object is there to receive the communication. From now on the subject says: ‘Hullo, object!’ ‘ I destroyed you.’ ‘ I love you. You have value for me because of your survival of my destruction of you. While I am loving you I am all the time destroying you in (unconscious) fantasy’ ” (The Use of an Object and Relating through Identifications 1969).
“Shall I say that, for a child to be brought up so that he can discover the deepest part of his nature, someone has to be defied, and even at times hated, without there being a danger of a complete break in the relationship” (Home Again 1945).
I quote below from a comment from Tim Staniland. Really interesting. The embedded article on Woff’s theory (all is standing wave..) worth reading in abstract anyway. So – according to this NOTHING is material?
In any case – nothing is as it seems, or is it that we are knowledge engines crystallising out this particular reality (see earlier posts). In which case rather – all is as we seem it?
“Tim Staniland on September 3, 2014 at 9:42 pm said:
All manner of thing shall be well
When the tongues of flame are in-folded
Into the crowned knot of fire
And the fire and the rose are one
Any static theory of consciousness feels incomplete. Reality is much closer to a process than a material. Whitehead’s “Process and Reality”, is impenetrable, but so much is clear. Consciousness, our awareness of self and the universe, is transitory, fleeting for most of us. This is to be expected if reality is the intersection of process and the material. It takes intense meditation and study to be able to hold oneself within the stream of the process that is reality as it pours through us. (I am told).
To quote Max Tegmark (New Scientist “Solid, Liquid, Consciousness”) “consciousness is a process that can occur in certain physical systems”. Whilst he invents new language (consciousness is for instance renamed as perceptronium) – it’s an old truth restated. As old, or older than zen. The mathematics are apparently called “Integrated Information Theory” or IIT for short. The system conditions necessary are interesting involving a fluctuation dynamic balance between various factors – system integration and internal separation for instance.
Reality may in fact be the same thing as consciousness (since observation crystallises out particular reality from the infinity of potential). In any case both are a process within a material setting. Matter doesn’t exist without the process of observation and the process can’t flow unless it is materialised. Just as gravitons need material to interact with to create weight. Matter matters – like the zip travelling through time, along the zipper. In this metaphor, what is reality? The changing space that the opening zipper reveals?
And what of the observer phenomenon? After 100 years of quantum investigation there is still no explanation of who or what the “observer” is. In the quantum world at least the observer certainly affects the observed – crystallising out one particular reality from the infinity possibilities that exist. Tegmark states “recent papers have argued that the observer is the key to understanding other fundamental physics mysteries, such as why our universe appears so orderly, why time seems to have a preferred forward direction, and even why time appears to flow at all”.
But is this not what we, each of us are? Fundamentally we observe. For me at least, the words observer and soul are interchangeable – as are the words observation and witness. As Teilhard de Chardin puts it – together we are the phenomenon of man and through us “the universe becomes aware of itself for the first time”. And Teilhard de Chardin also makes the powerful case that consciousness must have been a property of matter from the outset (his inner and outer), and that evolution has led along the path to emergent self-awareness and will eventually lead to (re)unification with God’s love at the Omega Point – when individual units of consciousness, our separate selves – unify and merge.
It seems to me that the separate strands of enquiry – scientific, spiritual and philosophical – are converging or possibly a better description is co-emerging; and toward a knowledge of the presence of God’s love. A rose is a rose by whatever name – love, connection, truth, God.
Faith moves mountains. Positive thinking really works. The thought is father of the deed. I believe this. It has been my experience. Positive intent, creates the desired result. (Though willing is different from wishing). It almost appears as if the universe conspires with sudden co-incidences that arrange for the willed event to materialise.
Will is potent.
Indeed we should take great care with our thinking – because what is willed out of hatred or fear also comes to pass. Be careful what you wish for, not just what appears on the surface – but the undercurrents that motivate.
We should live pretentiously. That is, to pretend already to have achieved one’s aspiration – and simply let reality catch up. Someone once told me that the Lord’s Prayer is a supreme act of pretension. Our Father….
And of course, the mechanics of this are mapped out by quantum physicists as well as by those in touch with the reality behind this dream that is life – Buddha, Christ…
Observation creates reality, and that materialised reality bounds us; the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics implies that we, as observers, crystallise out one particular reality from infinite – unbounded – potential. (Quantum physics also points up an explanation, I believe of the mechanics of free will, evil and evolution.)
So of course it is our observation, our witness, our intention – our will – that materialises the world – physically. This is in addition to the attractive effect of intention, where others are pulled toward the story that your will weaves.
Will is potent.
You don’t have to be Christian to want that will to be a good one. A will that fosters love, community, connection. For me though, since Christ lights my path (though Christ is Christ by whatever name) I would call that God’s Will. Let it be done.