The End Is the Beginning

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Reflections / Science

In response to Lee’s comment on my previous post I listened to the dialogue between Roger Penrose and Jordan Peterson that was recently posted to YouTube. I’d never listened to Penrose before and really enjoyed him. He has a brilliant, creative mind and a delightful way of expressing himself. I had many impressions and possible responses to the video but one thing in particular jumped out at me: Penrose’s cosmological theory of an endless, recreating universe is profoundly similar to Walter Russell’s depiction of the eternally recurring wave cycle of the elements.

For those who don’t know, Penrose is a British physicist and mathematician who shared in the 2020 Nobel Prize for Physics for his work on black holes and relativity theory. Walter Russell was an American polymath nicknamed “the modern Leonardo” who described the elements as “octaves of light” following an extended spiritual vision he received. Suffice to say, a single sentence is a woefully inadequate CV for either one of them.

Let’s start with Penrose’s description of an endless, recreating universe, which is composed of aeons—the period of time that spans the beginning and the end, (which is also the beginning). The technical term for this is conformal cyclical cosmology. In this model, the starting point of each aeon is an event comparable to what we call the Big Bang, which expands outwards in all directions and never stops. The end, at first blush, after a very long time, is thought to be quite a boring wasteland: the so-called heat death of the universe. Such a universe is consistent with what we know about our own: it began with the Big Bang and has been found to be in a state of continuous and possibly accelerating expansion.

So how does one obtain a cycle out of this? Well, this is where the word “conformal” enters the picture. A geometrical pattern is conformal if all the relationships it contains are identical regardless of scale. From within the pattern one has no ability to determine the absolute size of it. To speak of such an absolute is basically meaningless. Imagine you print a repeating pattern on a grain of rice, and then blow it up in scale so that it fits on the side of the Chrysler Building. Because all of the relationships between elements in the pattern are identical, the “experience” of each pattern from within the pattern would be the same. There would be no way to differentiate the rice grain pattern from the building façade.

What Penrose suggests is that the contents of the universe at the time of the Big Bang (the beginning) are, in this way, indistinguishable from what the contents will be at the end of our aeon (the end). At the time of the Big Bang, all of the “contents” of the universe existed as light—as pure radiation essentially. As the universe expanded and cooled, matter formed. But near the end of our aeon, if one imagines that black holes steadily gobble up all the matter in the universe in the meanwhile and then proceed to “evaporate” as we expect them to, then there will be nothing left but light again, or pure radiation. The beginning and the end (for what I gather are various technical reasons) are conformal—they would be indistinguishable from one another. And so the idea is it just starts again… The end is the beginning.

Turning now to the ideas of Walter Russell, one of his principal ideas was the organization of the chemical elements into what he described as “octaves of light.” He viewed this as the progression of pure light into material form, and then back out of form to pure light again. The picture below shows one way that he depicted this graphically.

Russell's Octave Wave Model of Light

Russell’s Octave Wave Model of Light

The picture below shows another depiction, which contains a lot of information that I won’t go into detail about here. The interesting thing is that he notes directly that the final element, which he termed Omeganon, is identical to the first element, Alphanon. He also notes that Alphanon has absolutely zero mass. (Look at the very center of the image or the close-up below.) This cycle is very much like Penrose’s: they each begin and end in an identical state that contains no mass. The absence of mass is a very specific and important claim to Penrose’s model because without mass, in general relativity theory, there is no time, and so the beginning and the end for Penrose are in essence timeless. For Russell, too!

Russell's Spiral Table of the Elements

Russell’s Spiral Table of the Elements

 

The End is the Beginning

 

Russell’s Model: The Ending Is an Explosion of Light…

Russell produced additional sketches of his spiral map of the elements, and in one he describes the end of the cycle as “the great nine octave radioactive explosion into static space for re-emergence as dynamic matter.” He then describes the beginning of the cycle as “the embryo of new life in the womb of space preparing for rebirth into the first of its nine octaves of light.” (There is a discrepancy between his ten octave sketches, which I’ve used here, and his later renditions in which I believe he modified this into nine octaves after further work on his ideas. But the qualitative ideas are unchanged.)

Lastly, Penrose and Russell both say the following about their universal cycles: they have no beginning or end. They repeat indefinitely. It’s worth noting that Penrose is describing the universe as a whole, and Russell the cycle of pure light into form and back to pure light. Russell’s is the story of atoms. But this is the icing on the cake because it suggests the old adage: as above, so below…

Choice and Consequence Part 6: Knowing What You Know

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Course Ideas / Reflections

Part 5 of the series is here.

I’ve suggested in this series that experience follows from the fundamental orientation of our perceptual apparatus. We each occupy a thought system through which meaning and identity emerge, and while we are each unique, there are but two possibilities for the cornerstone of such a system: what I’ve described as unity (reality) and what I’ve described as separation (image). I’ve also suggested this distinction is one that profoundly matters. Framed as a choice, it is the most consequential one any of us can make, as all else that we experience follows from it.

An important question, though, is this: how does one determine, and thus live by, what is true?

I took a few shots at answering this but they both turned into rambling cartwheels of prose. And I think this is pretty simple. Simple doesn’t mean easy to grasp, I suppose, or to accept, but complexity can obfuscate as easily as it can reveal. And this needn’t be complicated. So here goes…

Truth is what you know in the absence of facts.

It cannot be derived from evidence because no evidence can bear its weight.

It’s what you know in the fullness of your heart, from inside the event horizon that no words, languages or concepts can cross.

It cannot be justified and needs no defense, no apologists or expositors, no bureaucratic or institutional structures to uphold it, no dogmas, beliefs or tenets.

It is the aegis of being.

Truth is the basis we share, regardless of our circumstances.

Every point of a line contains its “truth,” but two are required to reveal it. The truth is similar. It is like a line drawn through each one of us. We discover it together.

If you’ve experienced the sharing of what cannot be contained, given what cannot be conserved, or received what cannot be rationed, then I think you have known, and lived by, the truth.

You have witnessed unity, the dimensionless content of who you are.

Choice and Consequence Part 5: Free Will, Learning and Determinism

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Course Ideas / Reflections

Part 4 of the series is here.

I listened to a YouTube video this week in which physicist Sean Carroll gave a talk entitled “God Is Not a Good Theory.” In his presentation, Dr. Carroll used Bayesian probabilities to compare the likelihood of God’s existence to the likelihood that we live in a multiverse—(multiverses being one naturalistic way of explaining the appearance of a statistically unlikely universe such as our own). The Bayesian procedure involves using evidence to update an a priori assessment of the likelihood a given outcome is true. So, for instance, prior to gathering evidence of any kind, we could ask ourselves, “If God were real, what type of universe would we expect to find?” We could then look to see if this is so.

I was expecting him to comment on a few elements of reality that trouble all of us—the existence of suffering, or of evil, for instance, (which I should note he did get around to eventually)—but instead he reported that the greatest strike against the argument for God’s existence is the incredibly low entropy of the early universe. The reason is that if God’s goal was to create life, as is commonly asserted, the entropy of the early universe didn’t need to be nearly as low as it was. He noted another way to think about this is to ponder the night sky, in which there are just way, way, way more galaxies than are strictly necessary for life to exist. While many parameters of our universe appear to be tuned “just right” for life, the entropy of the early universe is so far from what one would expect, it just cannot be consistent with the hypothesis of a creative God.

I find this argument a bit of a head-scratcher, but it’s an interesting opening because what I want to talk about is how the universe of form is in many ways a perfect response to what I’ve described in this series as “the choice for separation.” I mentioned last time that the shift in our identification that is part and parcel to this choice is the root cause of suffering, and noted as well a few reasons why a benevolent universe would not simply dissolve the consequences of a freely made choice or overrule the choice altogether. But what I didn’t address is what benevolence did do in this story I am (re-)telling, and that is equally important.

Unity is a state of perfect communion. Communication—felt, let’s say, as the sensation of mutual identification—continuously joins each to each, each to the All, and the All to each without interruption. Knowledge of unity is immediate, pervasive, and unopposed. As I noted previously, the primordial state of being, which exists perpetually and only in the light of this knowledge, enjoys a creative power that we cannot imagine. But in the choice for separation this power was lost, along with the ubiquitous communication, or mutuality of presence, we once enjoyed with the entirety of being.

The first thing to understand is that the desire to restore what was lost is very strong. Incredibly strong. But the way back can only be a choice on our part. As I also noted before, this is a very difficult choice to make because it appears to involve the abdication of our individual sovereignty, freedom, and creative ability—in short, it appears to involve the loss of all that we are and have made ourselves to be. The image of ourselves must be released and the reality of ourselves accepted, but to make this leap we must allow a complete reframing of all that we’ve known in our separated condition. But in the meanwhile, the profound desire to restore what was lost operates through the image of ourselves, every day, in attempts to (re)construct the reality we’ve seemingly lost right in the here and now. This compulsion moves all of us.

Perversely, the deep drive to recover what was lost by recreating it in the world of form engenders profound attachments to what we produce with our lives. This makes releasing these images and desires all the more difficult. If all that we work here to build, painstakingly, one day at a time for years and years—(by which I mean our inventory of experiences, our status, our accumulation of knowledge, our memories of heroic exploits, our list of failures, our losses, our “stories,” etc.)—if all that comes apart, we experience the profound loss of “our kingdom” all over again. We are each Sisyphus in this way, trying to reconstruct in this manifest world that which can never be constructed here (but only realized through a return to the unity that was lost). (It’s important, I think, to note that a return to formlessness or an abdication of this experiential world altogether is not where this is headed, but that will have to be a future post…)

How can this strange loop be exited? If a benevolent universe could neither remove the consequences of the choice for separation, or overrule the mind(s) that made such a choice without a much greater loss, what could it do? The answer is that it could foster those conditions most appropriate for learning and safeguard forever the aspects of itself “lost” to this strange experience. And here, like physicist Sean Carroll, we could ask: what would such a universe look like?

At the risk of being tedious, I think to begin answering this question we need a picture of the primordial state of being in front of us once again. This state—the reality of unity—is eternal, unopposed, and the fulcrum of all creative power. Most importantly, this state is timeless. There is no “process” by which expressions of love and unity in this singularity are mediated. We could think of this as being akin to the magic we write about in our fairy tales, only the magic we imagine is often “used” to change things in the world of form and that is not what I’m getting at. I’m suggesting the primordial state of being is like the full power of Aladdin’s lamp, only not to make a bunch of stuff, but to communicate and share the content of who we are in endless and beautiful ways. The critical element of this “state” is that it is always instantaneous and maximal. We might imagine there is cause (will, or desire) and effect (awareness of love given and love received), but these are so indelibly joined they are more like a “mutual arising” than a sequence. They are both-at-once, together. And they are timeless.

Such an instantaneous out-picturing, or projection, of separated minds would not be ideal for learning, however. It would be quite dangerous in fact. If everything a seemingly separate mind desired or willed instantaneously came to be it would very obviously be chaotic insanity. There’s the problem of wanting different outcomes, first of all, which is the hallmark of separation: several billion all-powerful wizards painting our physical reality to pieces. But there’s also the problem of providing a means of learning, which is the most important outcome, because it is only through learning that the consequences of the choice for separation might be understood, and the means of making the choice for unity finally realized. And then there’s the problem of protecting the very selves that we are: the connection to the primordial state of being.

What we’ve been given in response to the choice for separation is not a chaotic mess wherein every seemingly independent mind has the full creative power of unity, but a world that precedes very clearly by cause and effect—a world in which the two are teased apart and placed in a sequence, or relationship, that produces time. Such a world reflects the various fractures or splits that all occurred with the choice for separation, prior to which cause and effect were unified and simultaneous. The split of cause from effect echoes the loss of unity, and produces time, which is a perfect vehicle for learning. The non-simultaneity of cause and effect enables the opportunity to deeply understand choice and consequence.

So I think this is a reason our physical reality is deterministic. It must proceed “separately” from “us” and our independent, fragmented wills to allow for stability of experience as well as the opportunity for learning. Determinism protects us from the worst psychological outcomes of the choice for separation. In a sense the choice for separation “froze” the creative power of unity and sealed the experience of separation into time. Our power in this container is largely reduced to transitory physical machinations, but it is far, far, far from the power of cause and effect. Nothing we do in time can change the true nature of our being in unity with the primordial state of being, and this allows for the experience of separation without any lasting consequences. Time is a safe container for this strange dream.

But the question remains: are we making our own choices in time, in every instant like we think? Or are our bodies and all that we know the product of material laws alone? My answer to this is that physical reality is deterministic unless acted upon by the power of unity, and that at the moment of the choice for separation all of time—the entire epoch of learning, healing, and return to unity—arose. It is like the block universe physicists discuss—all past and future co-existing in a perfectly ordered causal sequence. In this sense, there is no free will in the land of image. Everything proceeds on the basis of a fully determined cause and effect.

But this is ostensibly a universe of zombies! Consciousness is unnecessary for physical events to proceed by physical laws, so it’s a bit of an anomaly in this context. The word sealed in time can unfold quite nicely without our presence. The truly amazing thing is that we do have the ability to witness events, and it is necessary only for this: to witness and experience what is occurring. And in this, I believe, there is one choice we do have. We can choose to witness through the thought system of image, or the thought system of unity.

When we are perceiving the world with image at the root of our comprehension, we identify almost exclusively with the body, we imagine we are at cause, and it feels like we’re making a string of choices, but in essence we’re witnessing the deterministic unfolding of material processes (including our bodies). We perceive and feel events a certain way and we respond on the basis of the image at the root of our identity, but it doesn’t change the world’s sequence. We’re along for the ride in a sense. We glory at our triumphs and despair at our failures. We clamor about freedom, take credit for this and that, blame our losses on factors beyond ourselves, but really… we’re watching the movie from the inside. This is just how we learn. This is how we come into immediate experiential contact with the consequences of our most fundamental choices: we live them. And for this and this alone is consciousness required.

But as we move into the choice for unity—as we heal the various rifts that are co-extensive with the choice to experience separation—then something new can happen. The frozen, deterministic sequence of cause and effect is interrupted by moments of contact with unity—by the touch of time to the timeless. And then true cause enters the scene for a moment, everything recalculates, and a new track is possible. Through these moments of unity, which we all access all the time, tracks are perpetually shifting, reorganizing. The contents of time are reordered. It is through such moments of genuine freedom and access to unity that we “shorten” time and genuinely create transformation of what is. But this freedom is not that of a lone individual wielding the power of the proverbial lamp, it is immersion into the realization that what we each desire is what we all desire. It is, ironically, not making a choice at all! For choice is not freedom!

Choice, in the condition of separation, or the sequence of time, is a facsimile of freedom, a distorted rendition of what is real. It is an attempt to recreate the experience of freedom we so deeply desire, but like all the ways we try and recreate what we remember, it cannot work in the way we’re going about it! We cannot retain our root identification with the separated state and create the conditions of unity.

To summarize, the experience we are having in time and space can be understood as perfectly consistent with the response of a benevolent universe to a choice to experience the unreality of an isolated or separate state. The structure of causality, time, and determinism provides the perfect sandbox for learning while eliminating the worst outcomes of our choice. The wisdom of what has arisen remains well beyond my ability to comprehend, and this is just one man’s strange and skewed depiction of a small piece of it, but even a feeble glimpse of such a response is enough to amaze me.

Sean Carroll might ask me if I had a blank sheet of paper on which to draw any universe I could possibly imagine, and I started with only the question of what a benevolent universe would look like, is the world around us what I would draw? Because if not—if a mind that didn’t know anything about our world would draw something completely different—then maybe this whole essay is simply an effort to bend the data we have to fit some strange notions that are dear to me. But this type of question is naïve I think, because it assumes the creative heart of existence is fixed and autocratic—that it would choose to deny the very possibility of freedom and choice that make it “real” so that only pleasant utopias might come into being, populated by automatons. If we ask instead how a benevolent universe that allows freedom and choice to meaningfully exist might respond to a choice by “part” of itself to explore a question about experiencing what it is not, you may be surprised by what you imagine…

Choice and Consequence Part 4: Benevolence

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Course Ideas / Reflections

Part 3 of the series is here.

Last time I wrote about the distinction between unity and separation—the two possible cornerstones of our individual thought systems. Each of these serves as the organizing factor for all that follows in our perceptual navigation of experience. In describing the transition from the state of perfect communication within the primordial state of being—which is unity—to the condition of separation, I noted that “the experience of being separate was granted, but this did not change the nature of reality.”

There are far-reaching implications of this statement that I want to further unpack here, all of which hinge upon the understanding that while unity is the fundamental nature of reality, and thus of ourselves, we are free to have experiences to the contrary. Further, and most importantly, no experience can change what is truly so. This fact establishes benevolence as integral to the structure of reality, and I want to explore why this is the case.

As I noted last time, “something [indeed] went wrong” as a result of the choice for separation. It’s not all fun and games in this world. In order for the consequences of the choice for separation to be experienced without undermining or destroying the fabric of unity, something akin to dreaming had to occur. I don’t wish to imply this is as simple as a fairy tale, but I do wish to suggest that a means of generating experiences arose in response to the choice for separation that allowed for the fulfillment of the request without the possibility of any impacts whatsoever to the primordial state of being. As we are integral to and in unity with the primordial state of being, this means that we were granted the opportunity to experience “unreality” without the possibility of any lasting impacts on our true and given natures.

We call such an adventure illusion, and the theater of such dreams is space and time—the transitory dance of form. As I alluded to in the previous post, the condition of separation involves is a loss of communication with the primordial state of being. It further involves the formation of an identity based on “something else.” The something else that coincides with the separation is an identity within the transient world of form, and specifically, on an individual level, a near complete identification as individualized beings with particular forms. Our bodies. Without such a vehicle, the choice for separation simply couldn’t be experienced. I think this particular point is pretty obvious. Without a localized, finite and seemingly independent vehicle for experience, we couldn’t experience separation at all. (Note it is also possible to identify with unity and to express this knowing in physical form, while maintaining a name and address and occupation and all the unique predilections and loves we hold, but this is to have unity as foundation of one’s thought system, and this is not what I’m attempting to suggest is the root of suffering.)

The existence of suffering in our world is often considered the strongest refutation there is of the notion that the universe is fundamentally benevolent. But I want to present one way of viewing things in which this is an incorrect interpretation, and to show that, in fact, an intervention of the sort many people imagine a benevolent universe would offer is nothing but a projected affirmation of the choice for separation. Were such forms of intervention to be “granted” or “given,” in other words, they would in fact be far more damaging than the alternative forms of difficulty that exist today.

The logic is straightforward but it’s a lot to accept and wrap one’s mind around. First, the experience of separation requires the formation and acceptance of an identity other than the primordial state of being, as noted above. Though this can never be our actual identity, it can be the identity we experience. Second, suffering is the nature of this illusory condition. Suffering is simply a word, and we generally use it to describe the worst-seeming consequences of this choice we’ve made. We’d very much like to argue that while there is indeed suffering, and it’s terrible and unfortunate and quite often incomprehensibly random, there’s also a lot of really great things about the modality of experience we’ve adopted. In other words, we’d like to avoid saying the whole shebang of separateness is related to suffering. But it is. We want pleasure without pain, but this is like wanting warm without cool, youth with age, electricity without magnetism. Pleasure and pain are just points we define along a common spectrum of experience—the particular form of experience derived through body identification, or what I’ve termed “image.”

What happens is we imagine, while still inhabiting the thought system of separation, that if the universe were benevolent, portions of this experience would be filtered out or removed while others remained. The problem is this is tantamount to asking that the illusory identity we’ve adopted be granted the same stability and freedom as unity—that each of us be a kingdom unto oneself. To perhaps oversimplify this, imagine someone decided to stop breathing and then insisted that all the hard parts of that experience be removed so it was really quite pleasurable. One problem is that a body in this condition would die, and the pain that results of this choice is actually intended to be helpful: the consequences of not breathing lead quickly back to breathing. To ask that benevolence simply remove the pain of not breathing is to double-down on the choice not to breathe—to request that we be allowed to enjoy our naïve decision to harm ourselves. Clearly, there would be no benevolence in the granting of such a wish.

But what actually is the problem with a world where no one gets cancer and no one goes hungry and no one is less talented and no one goes without? The answer is nothing. We’re just going about creating it the wrong way—like the hypothetical person in the paragraph above who asks why he or she cannot be allowed to live without breathing. We’re going about the achievement of our desires in a way that is not in accord with the conditions of reality. There are consequences of this, just as there are consequences of releasing an egg from the top of a building. That is all. The perplexing thing is that if we knew how to answer the question of why what we’re doing cannot work, we’d probably stop doing it. But we don’t know the answer, and this makes it difficult to explain.

An aspect of this is that the primordial state of being is sovereign creative freedom. To create is to extend this sovereign creative freedom in novel ways, and so we, too, are sovereign creative freedom. This is our identity in unity. It is who and what we are. Now, in our choice for separation—our question about what it would be like not to breathe—certain consequences arose. They have arisen in the framework of an experience that, while all too real in a sense, is not able to impact the actual state of being we share. We are still sovereign creative freedom, we just don’t know it in a sense. We think and believe we are something else, and our experiences support this conclusion. In this state, the consequences can be difficult, harrowing, horrible, depressing, evil, etc. So why not simply undo what has been done? Or assuming it was possible, simply filter out the parts of this experience we do not like?

These are difficult things for us to understand from the viewpoint of separation, but I think there are two really important answers. The first is that to simply change what we have chosen would be to take away the very sovereign creative freedom that is our genuine nature. This would deprive us of the opportunity to learn and in essence result in our being less “real.” Sure, we could imagine being made into automatons or something that were only allowed to make certain choices, but this would extinguish the very essence of the life that we are. This would destroy our sovereignty and our creative freedom. Such “beings” would no longer be participants in the type of communion and communication that is the hallmark of unity.

Second, and related, we could imagine each of us being allowed to truly be separate from one another and perfectly free to imagine and enjoy whatever we desired. In such a scenario, there’s no one else with a free will in the entire world of our experience: we get whatever we want. It’s just “me.” The problem is we would truly be separated then. We would be lost from one another forever. This wouldn’t simply be a temporary loss, an experiential-illusory-dreaming one, but an eternal one. From the perspective of unity this would be a permanent loss of an element of ourselves—of who we truly are. I just don’t think this is permitted, or even “possible”, aside from the fact I don’t believe it’s truly desirable.

So to suppose that benevolence, if it were in fact a quality of reality, would grant us these strange wishes is insane on the one hand. But I concede it’s not too crazy from the vantage of separation, because from the perspective of our illusory identities we don’t understand there is in fact another resolution to our difficulties. That solution is to stop holding our breath. To breathe again. To place unity at the foundation of our thought systems. The solution is not to be allowed to hold our breath while experiencing only the macabre joy of our expiration, but in a sense this is what we are asking for whenever we try to resolve the issues before us without examining the fundamental choice for separation.

Choice and Consequence Part 3: Reality vs Image

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Course Ideas / Reflections

Part 2 of the series is here.

When I was a child my parents had a painting that fascinated me. It depicted a dinner table with countless guests on either side that tapered to a point and disappeared into infinity. My parents were Roman Catholic at the time and I believe it was a metaphorical image of heaven. I remember asking, “How far does it go?” and being told, “Forever.” Which is all well and good until you actually do the math, and divide by zero, and try with the whole of your being to understand the idea of “forever.” If you do it right, this sort of thing can produce the visceral sensation of wonder—a certain flutter in the body.

This is a glimpse of truly abstract awareness, an awareness unbounded by particularity. We glimpse it after the fact, just as the effort to comprehend infinity cashes out into the palpable feeling of curiosity, mystery, and awe. What was that?

Years later I was driving home from college one afternoon and for whatever reason contemplating what it might be like to awaken from a field of absolutely nothing. First I tried to imagine nothing at all, which is a supreme challenge itself. No time. No space. And then a speck of awareness emerges from this nothing and realizes, I am. It’s another case where words cannot really convey the profundity. But if you spend time in contemplation on this, I think it is possible to experience that little heart-flutter of wonder that comes with the realization, I am real.

Imagine now this mote of awareness realizes it is all that is or will ever be. It is not isolated, or alone, or in one place and not another, because that would be to suggest there is something outside of it. And there’s not. This awareness is it, the beginning and the end, the content of everything. It is the whole. It has no needs, no lacks, no deficiencies. There is nothing, in fact, it could do to change the nature of what it is, a truth both astonishing and good. It is unassailable, unchanging, unaffected. It is nothing and everything. Just being—albeit with ever-deepening layers of self-discovery, for there’s quite a bit packed into everything and nothing.

These thought experiments are not intended to be decisive in any way. The primordial state of being is not one any of us can wholly grasp, parse intellectually, or come remotely close to experiencing in its fullness. But we are “of this” Source. We are extensions of the only existence there is. The pure potential of being, a reality that can never change or be changed or threatened, is the identity we ultimately partake of and share.

Next, imagine this pure field of existence one day becoming more of itself by giving and receiving itself. There are so many things that cannot be explained in mechanistic terms that I won’t try. But suppose the pure field of being discovered it could “recreate the experience” of discovering itself by becoming more of itself. This is not to be taken literally as these ideas can only be spoken of in a sort of mythical form, but we might imagine the primordial state of being could, for instance, have a child. This child would be a new sort of fullness within the whole. The primordial state of being is the child, of course. But also, the child is new, a new mind in perfect union with the whole and yet capable of its own thoughts, experiences, etc. There is paradox here that cannot be explained. There is relationship without division. This child is not the whole, but it is not separate from it either.

Each and every such “child” exists in perfect union with the whole of being. If you ask it who it is, it will reply that it is the primordial state of being, of course, for what else is there to be? There is nothing, for instance, this child keeps secret from the whole, nothing it knows or partakes of the whole does not, nothing held apart, and though there is a uniqueness to this child’s being, a “here” to another child’s “there,” these exist in a way of absolutely undiminished mutual knowing. And the whole experiences all of it simultaneously.

Something like this is the nature of reality, I believe. There is nothing yet for us to call “physical” and nothing with a particular “form.” Just a given and received mutuality of being that regenerates and expands the basic and utterly joyful moment of self-discovery: the moment when we discover the wild truth that existence exists, and we’re it.

So when I say consciousness is fundamental, I mean that some infinitely realized form of being holds every aspect of existence in and as itself. This purely abstract beingness extends perpetually into every aspect of existence and receives unto itself every aspect of existence in return. It is not susceptible to change, to threat, to cessation, to fatigue, or to any limit. And when I say that the starting point of our thought system is either reality or image, it is reality if the living presence of the one primordial state of being is felt and known to us as the beginning and end of who we are.

Turning now to the possibility of image, we have to look at the container of experience in which we find ourselves—this world and these bodies—and consider how it may have come to be. The basic change that took place somehow, somewhere along the way, was the movement of being into form. The Buddha, in his brilliance, elected not to speak of these things, largely because of how easily we become bogged down in digressions and mechanisms and hypothetical vehicles of experience when, really, none of this will ease our suffering. But I wish to continue with the story for one simple reason: the story may inspire an appreciation for what is possible. Things can be different than they are, in truly good and beneficent ways.

A few things are obvious about this movement into form. The first is that something went wrong. It helps to be honest about this. A lot of things going on are not so great and haven’t been for quite some time. It’s helpful to know that what causes us suffering is reversible, though, and also, that the reason suffering persists in the meanwhile is, paradoxically, a form of our protection, and one that will disappear the instant it is no longer required to protect us. (It’s hard to fathom that in a benign universe certain conditions conducive to our suffering might be allowed to subsist, as a form of protection, but this is so and will be the next post in the series I think.)

There’s a lot to unpack there and I probably got ahead of myself, but I want to explain “what happened” in two ways I believe are equally valid. The first is that moving from a formless, timeless, free-flowing primordial state of being into a concretized, constructed format of experience with rules and limitations was overwhelming. Imagine a virtual reality scenario where this effortless, never-before-threatened awareness achieves full immersion into a reality in which suddenly it seems there is the possibility of loss. If this awareness forgets to breathe it dies. If it scrapes its leg and gets an infection, it dies. Others die. It’s all-consuming to just stay warm, gather food, learn to communicate, wash, rest, etc., etc. This is an over-simplification, but the point is that somewhere along the way the virtual reality became so predominate the original reality was forgotten. It was dimmed. A shift occurred from identification with the primordial state of being to identification, by each “one” of us, with a particular biological form. And this changed everything.

We can consider this transformation through another lens: our choice to experience what it would be like to be “on our own.” Imagine you have Aladdin’s lamp, and you have the power to have any wish imaginable granted, and you said, “This primordial state of being is all I’ve known; I wonder what it would be like to be separate from it!?” And poof! The wish is granted. (The experience is given but not the reality of it). From our current vantage, we have near-zero concept of the power of our creative decision-making at the time of this choice, or of the intensity of the consequences. To go from a perfect and unassailable fluidity of being to a realm in which the unlimited communication with all existence that we’ve always and only ever known is just GONE, is a blow. It hurts. It’s very difficult to comprehend this sort of loss–just as hard as it is to see the perfection of this response to the request.

Let me circle back to something profoundly important: the experience of being separate was granted, but this did not change the nature of reality. It couldn’t because the heart of reality, the primordial state of being, is simply unchangeable. There is nothing that can arise outside of it, and nothing that can stand apart from it. So there is only one way to experience what is not real: it must be imagined.

Whether we consider it an innocent sensory overload that led to this, or a profoundly powerful (and innocent) choice that was instantly granted—both of which I think are right in a sense—we lost communication with the primordial state of being and found ourselves in an unprecedented situation: the virtual reality was all that appeared to exist. We were able to experience life apart, even if we could never truly be apart. But also . . . we inadvertently wandered into a room without an exit.

To be separate is to have no power but one’s own. You take Humpy-Dumpty and shatter him, and which piece is the one that gets to say, “Nah, let’s go back”? There isn’t one. The power of the original choice came from unity, and is not present in a mind that believes in the experience of separation. The choice to experience separateness comes with the consequence that the very power that made such a choice possible must be unavailable. If it was available, we wouldn’t be experiencing separateness! So it’s the original catch-22. To have an image at the root of one’s thought system is to believe in the experience one is having of what it’s like to be separate from the primordial state of reality.

The way out is to choose anew, of course, but this requires releasing our beliefs in the world we have made: this virtual reality we are experiencing. You see, this world is the product of our choice, and we’ve always believed in what we’ve made. We never had reason to do otherwise because prior to this experiment with form all that we felt or offered or gave was the timeless content of the primordial state of being. It was all there was. There were no perpetually changing forms, no dance of maya. The profound difficulty we face is that we must concede the world we’ve made isn’t the one we truly want, and that a return to awareness of our union with the primordial state of being offers all that has been lost.

But it’s a harrowing choice because from the near side it looks like the choice to be nothing. It looks like giving up the only life we know. That’s not what it is, however, and when I talk next time about the protections that have been extended to us, I’ll touch also on the transformation of form. Because what’s before us is not the choice to go back or not, but the choice to experience form in a new way—no longer as the vehicle of our choice for separation, but as the means of creating new avenues for the expression of the one reality we have always been and forever will be.

Choice and Consequence Part 2: Prelude to a Story

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Course Ideas / Reflections

Part 1 of this series is here.

I think I was a twinge unclear last time, so let me begin with a slight reset. We are each absolutely and without doubt unique. The network of capabilities, talents, inclinations, perspectives, beliefs, desires and experiences that make each of us who we are exist in no one else but us. This is so. What I’d hoped to convey is not that the possibilities for individual expression are constrained, but that the very root of any thought system—though the flowering of it may indeed be unique—can only and ever be one of two things. Ever.

(Period.)

(Full stop.)

The root of self-expression and perceptual processing is either reality or image.

Now, before attempting to unpack this in detail, let me assert one corollary: Ultimately—no if’s, and’s or but’s about it—there is only reality at the root of who we are, and there is nothing we can do about that. No choice, no thought, no action of ours can ever change our given nature, and this is the source of both our freedom and our eternal protection. We are free to imagine (and experience the consequences of) alternatives, but every alternative to the truth and reality of who we are is but an image. From this perspective there’s just one alternative—image—which can assume quite a varied array of forms.

So yes, choice is at the root of all that we experience, but this is not the sort of “conscious” choice we make every day, like the choice of what toppings to have on our pizza, or what clothes to wear, or what field of study to explore, or who to work for, or who to vote for, or any of the myriad other choices we generally think we’re making. The choice at the root of our experience is a very deep choice, an old choice, and I would like to suggest—at some level, even—an inherited choice. It is a choice most of us may never actually make unless we work with deliberate, truly conscious attention and heartfelt desire—both together—to make anew.

It’s almost time, now, for a story. Before I begin, though, let me clarify one point. I suggested last time that it’s simply not possible to have a neutral view on consciousness—a view without consequences—and by extension, I should add that it’s not possible to come to a view on consciousness “after the fact.” We can’t bring consciousness to bear on the set of facts we’ve assembled (through the vehicle of consciousness) to then make an objective determination of what consciousness is. It’s just not possible to make a study of consciousness that excludes the choice about what consciousness is at the outset, and I’m okay with this. It is simply our lot. We have to pick one: consciousness is the root of reality, or it isn’t.

There will not be much, if anything, that is truly new in this series of posts, except for the fact that what is said will be offered through the unique proposition that is me. As a result, it will be said in a unique way, and by extension, it may be heard in a unique way. This is my hope. I want us to be honest when we discuss these topics, because like I said last time, “the content of our consciousness is the single most decisive factor in the trajectory of human events, the conditions of the non-human world (at least presently), [and] the quality of life generally on this planet.” This stuff absolutely matters. And so before I tell a story that’s already been told (in my own way), I’d like to be frank about one more point: I have a goal in writing this series of posts. I do. I have a bias, a desire, a longing, a hope, and yes, a need.

I know that not everyone views themselves and the world the way that I do. At the level of “conscious” choices we make about food, capitalism, airlines, immigration, sexual orientation, entertainment, relationships, etc., I believe respect for all creeds and pathways is paramount. Along these lines, when it comes to the topic of consciousness, I would like us to admit one thing to one another: at the present time, with current knowledge, there is no objectively correct answer to the question of what consciousness is or how it originated. On the level of intellectual reasoning and phenomenological evidence alone there is no definitively provable “fact of the matter” about what consciousness is or how it began.

This isn’t to say there isn’t a reality of the matter. It’s just to say there isn’t an externally conveyable fact of the matter. To the point at the outset of this post: we have the freedom to experience what is not so, not the freedom to determine what is so. From here, in the next post, I am going to (re)tell a story—based on the notion that consciousness is the root of reality—about how we got into the predicament we’re in, and how we can move past it. This story will illumine the distinction between reality and illusion that I introduced above, and relate it to this notion of consciousness, and will introduce notions about free will and physical determinism that I think will clarify how both can be “true” together.

Choice and Consequence Part 1: An Introduction

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Course Ideas / Reflections

Each of us occupies a construct of memory, belief, identity and meaning that not only generates the sense of self we require to meaningfully function as individuals, but generates our picture of the external world as well. I often call this construct a worldview. It is an active perceptual process within each of us that works continuously to sustain, protect and strengthen the idea at its root. And while it may seem there are a great many such ideas possible—billions if we consider that each human being on planet Earth must have one—the reality is there are only two. Exploring this in detail will be one of the purposes of this series of posts.

“Worldview” is a term I often use that is central to how I think about things but that I’ve not taken the time to explore in detail. I also speak of “thought systems,” “the perceptual stance of separation,” and “unity,” as well as other similar terms with limited explanation. As I hope to show, a great deal hinges on them—everything, in fact. I don’t believe it’s hyperbole, for instance, to suggest that the content of our consciousness is the single most decisive factor in the trajectory of human events, the conditions of the non-human world (at least presently), or the quality of life generally on this planet. It thus behooves us to consider carefully what this extraordinary gestalt of awareness is and how it functions.

The future we create together not only depends upon the content of our consciousness, but the specific ranges of possibility that lie before us are tied to our interpretation of this natural aspect of our being. Meaning two things: there is ultimately no neutral perspective on the subject—no view of consciousness can be said to be free of causative implications to one’s life and the lives of those around them; and the experiential outcomes available to us depend upon our view of this subject. Views of consciousness, in other words, live at the very root of our individual and collective worldviews, and inform all the perceptual processes that follow.

This series will touch on perspectives I know others prefer to what I will ultimately suggest here, so let me say at the outset that while I think the subject matter here is of profound importance, the intent is to explore the possibility that largely hidden choices at the root of our self-constructions have consequences. It is not to deny the fact that other views may also be logically consistent, attractive and possessive of strong explanatory or predictive capabilities. In fact, part of what I wish to do is suggest that it is possible for us to collectively open up new, more constructive, nurturing and life-centered ways of being without discarding anything we may have encountered along the way that is truly valuable.

This series will in many ways tell a story, a narrative explanation for the way things are and the way they might be. Such expositions have the connotation of being false, fictitious, made-up. We’ve been trained to find out what really happened. But as we’ll see, even this insistence is an artifact of a particular worldview—a choice made about the nature of the world, what it is and how it unfolds, and who we are. There’s just no escaping the fact we cannot begin until we have chosen. Choice, in fact, is the beginning…

Taking It Lightly

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Course Ideas / Reflections / Science

Over time I’ve come to respect the fact that linking my wonder at scientific discoveries to the knowledge of my heart is risky business. It’s tantalizing, for instance, to imagine that some marvel of the natural world is related to, or evidence for, a proposition about the ultimate nature of being—but taken seriously it never quite works.

To “take it seriously” is to imagine that some stunning natural phenomena is the (ultimate) reality described in various wisdom traditions, and the problem is that this is a false equivalence. It misleads us: Not only is the ultimate reality of our wisdom traditions desiccated by its reduction to transient form, but the fact that a beguiling natural phenomenon reminds us of a principal claim about the nature of ultimate reality doesn’t mean the whole kit and kaboodle of a particular cultural or religious tradition goes with it. Experiments with entangled particles can be framed as evidence for the existence of a profound, underlying web of connections at the heart of reality, but does this vouch for the existence of the Hindu god Ganesh?

No, it doesn’t. And this is one problem with attempts at a working syncretism of scientific modalities with religious or spiritual traditions. Another is that interpretations of scientific findings in terms of what they suggest about the fundamental nature of reality can be confusing and paradoxical. Depending on the eye of the beholder, scientific facts can be used to support many arguments. I remember when nearly thirty years ago I read The Dancing Wu Li Masters, and was amazed at parallels drawn between experiments in quantum mechanics and ideas about reality in various Eastern traditions. I could be mistaken, because it’s been a while, but I remember a central theme being the idea that the quantum mechanics experiments pointed directly to a much deeper, underlying order or connection at the heart of nature. Entangled systems, for instance, were indissoluble wholes that transcended space and time.

But paradoxically, quantum mechanics also suggests that nature is random at her heart. We cannot predict the outcome of any particular quantum event because if the prevalent interpretations of quantum mechanics are correct, the outcomes of individual events are not specifically determined by their histories. We can know the outcome must be one of four states (let’s say), and even know the likelihood of a particular result as compared to another, but the actual outcome (if there is one) is the product of chance alone (again, depending on your interpretation, with this one being prevalent).

To add to this confusion, quantum mechanics is a theory of parts. We can study an entangled system and marvel at its apparent transcendence of time and space, but to do that we must split the universe into the system we are studying . . . and everything else. And because quantum mechanics always requires this split to be applied, we could argue it’s not in fact a theory of wholeness! It’s a theory of perception, perhaps. Further, it’s based ultimately on the notion the universe is made of myriad discrete units. The universe is not a smooth continuum—not one thing at all—but a composite of tiny pieces whose quasi-random movements construct the illusion of our classical world: the good old reliable realm we inhabit of courtside seats, tomahawk jams, and personal fouls.

So what does quantum mechanics really say about things? That they are deeply interconnected as the mystics and sages throughout history would tell us? Or that they are in essence random, discontinuous, and discrete?

The thing is, we don’t have to “take seriously” the idea that scientific discovery and ultimate reality are peers. We shouldn’t, in fact. There’s a much better way to do this, and that is to consider that phenomenal reality is a work of art that cannot help but contain patterns, artifacts, traces, and whispers of what truly is. When we open the page of the universe before us, we discover aspects of what is so—often aspects that paradoxically seem contradictory to one another—but we never encounter the fullness of reality itself. With this mindset, we can marvel at what our ability to interact with the natural world reveals. It’s a bit like sneaking into the house of someone famous when they’re not there, and encountering the myriad revelations encoded into the physical records of their existence.

This can free us from the need to determine if phenomenal reality is truly one thing or another. It may very well be both, without contradiction even, because it’s probably (in the ultimate sense) something more—something capable of subsuming and embodying all of it. The interpretations of quantum mechanics embrace a pretty interesting ensemble of conclusions about reality: that it is inherently random, that it is perfectly pre-determined, that every possible outcome happens somewhere, that only one thing ever truly happens but we can’t know it in advance, even that what one person observes in a given instance need not be what another does. Right now, all of these stand on firm scientific footing. They form, ironically, an intellectual superposition of possible truths that is delightfully similar to the physics itself.

But I think they’re all correct when we understand them as perceptual patterns—unique section cuts of the whole. They are views through different-colored glasses. Creation, quite simply, contains all of this. Can there be the appearance of truly profound interconnectedness in a universe incapable of portraying the truly random? I think not. Is the precious experiential cargo of the present undermined by the notion of infinite possibility? Negative. I think these opposing poles work hand-in-hand to anchor the spectrums of possibility in which we roam.

To “take it lightly” is to recognize that our questions determine our answers, and that within the fields of reality in which we roam, there are paths we’ve yet to try. There’s even one where we remember the possibility of new life—the life of genuine unity. This is the one (and the many) in which we become conduits of the ultimate reality that is reflected all around us. It is the life of reason and wonder interwoven, the life of possibility made real.

It is the life we’ve been so seriously working to attain.

The Power of Choice

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Course Ideas / Reflections

Sometimes I really enjoy discussing quantum physics, cosmology, or the nature of human consciousness, but these are largely pursuits of pleasure for my intellect, the way a great novel can be a pursuit of pleasure for the soul. There are fascinating adventures to be had. And while it’s good clean fun to wonder how what is observed fits into what I think deep down about how things work, at the end of the day . . .

I don’t know how things work . . . I just know they do.

But what does that mean, right? What does it mean to say that life “works”?

It means I’m already in over my head in this post, for one thing. But let me give it a go.

First, foremost, and perhaps completely, it means that the context or framework in which our experiential awareness arises is functional. The word functional provides no greater insight than to say that reality “works,” I know, but it offers a different vantage. We can talk about what this function is. And to that end, the first clarification I can offer is that I think this “realm” we live in (for lack of a better word) provides infallible experiential feedback on the consequences of our fundamental perceptual choices.

Of which there are two.

Choice A is the one we’ve been in for a very, very, very long time and are potentially graduating from. It is the choice to identify principally with a finite physical form. I am this body (and only this). I often call this the “mindset of separation” using language from A Course in Miracles, A Course of Love, etc., etc. Fundamental to this choice is the notion that the universe is basically an empty container, and even in religious views, that we are here, and heaven or God or what have you are “out there” somewhere.

Choice B is unity. This doesn’t mean we’re not specific individuals, but it does mean we’re intrinsically bound to one another and to the field of life itself in ways that transcend the limitations of our individuated physical expression. It also means we are fundamentally unified with all that exists eternally—meaning outside of time—which we can call the unknown. For those of religious orientation, it could mean there is no God “out there,” only the God we come to know “here” as the relationship within. Also, that “heaven” or the timeless are accessible and/or expressed through movements within time.

So, when I say that “I know things work,” I mean I trust that the conditions of life that we experience and are forced to navigate on a daily basis are perfect returns on the investment of our choice relative to the above. And I can’t say this with enough emphasis: this matters.

I think every last one of us has concerns about the nature of lived life: about the condition of the planet, of its people, and of all other forms of life. We would like, I think, to be part of transforming the nature of experience for the better, but we all face the same difficulties. The barriers are universal. If only, we say . . . If only I could get ahead, and could afford it, I’d put solar panels up. I’d buy different products. I’d stop driving to work and polluting the atmosphere. I’d stop eating food that is grown in a way that depletes the land. I’d stop depleting the oceans and the skies. I’d stop pumping rivers of water out of the ground that cannot be replaced. I’d stop using plastics. I’d stop using animals. I’d stop using wood. I’d stop using air conditioning. I’d stop using cobalt and lithium. I’d stop using computers. I’d stop taking strange medicines. I’d stop getting sick. We’d stop spending money on machineries of war. We’d fix inequality for good.

Sometimes this gets projected. If only “they” would stop [whatever, whatever, whatevering].

If only . . . if only . . . if only . . . .

The reason our fundamental choice (as described above) matters, is that all of the difficulties we face in their seemingly intractable forms are the naturally arising consequences of the choice for separation. And until this choice is made anew, every difficulty we solve will only lead to another. I submit that this is very much the way things work, and the most fundamental natural law there is.

I’m speaking globally here. Collectively. And I want to leave the individual experience aside for the moment, because while it’s true that each of us has a unique experience and path—some of which are easier or harder than others, some of which involve more physical pain and suffering than others, some of which involve differing hardships, journeys to overcome them, life lessons, talents or opportunities, moments of beauty and grace, etc., etc.—it’s also true (I believe) that having a “perfect” life while others suffer is not really what we’re after, even if we could. . . . Sometimes we make this an aim because it seems like the best choice among the only (bad) ones available, but if we had a blank sheet of paper, and perfect freedom, this isn’t what we’d draw.

Commitment to Choice A, to the experience of separation into which we were born—(as it is and has been the defining condition of the human experience since and prior to the dawn of recorded history)—is a commitment to the constraints that shackle us. It is a commitment to the zero sum game, to the scarcity of possibility, to one person’s loss being another’s gain, and to all the machinations of power, control, and tribalism that are the inherent outcomes of this fundamental choice.

I want this to sink in: make Choice A a million times on a million different planets with a million different forms of intelligent life, and a world akin to the one we have made will arise—a world riddled with problems to be solved, a world in which one person’s solution is another’s problem, a world gradually depleted of life, a world grinding slowly to dust. There is zero error band on this prediction, because as I noted above, this is the most fundamental natural law there is. If you bite into an apple, you will taste an apple. No matter what you do next, you cannot change the fact that you’re eating an apple. There is no malicious intent or judgment involved in this process: it is simply cause and effect.

The world—the vehicle of experiential awareness in which we reside—is functioning perfectly, and in some sense this could even be reassuring: it suggests that Choice B, a choice for unity, will lead with equal inevitability to different results. Make Choice B a million times on a million different planets with a million different forms of intelligent life, and the results will be the same: frameworks of experience will arise in which one person’s gain is indeed another’s, in which instruments of power and control are unnecessary, in which needs are met through processes that enrich and expand the very tapestry of life in its myriad expressions.

We don’t know exactly what this looks like—and it can probably look a million different ways—but as I touched upon in the previous post, we remember the feeling of it. What remains is to accept the possibility is quite real. It is as easy (and as difficult) as remembering who we are, in our heart of hearts.

A Course in Miracles says that a mind in unity “wills only to know.” I love this simple line. We need only will to know that in our every interaction, unity is being birthed. Will we make different choices? Sure. Will new actions born of a new choice be beneficial in ways that we can tabulate and quantify? Perhaps. But that’s not the real power in Choice B. The power is that the universe will move with us, as it always has, only instead of delivering the experience of separation we have sought, it will deliver us the experience of unity. Unity offers the mobilization of all that resides in the unknown, through our will to know it as the very substance and nature of our existence—to know it as the unity and relationship of all life.

The Power of Feeling

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Course Ideas / Reflections

When I began this blog I wrote about A Course in Miracles, and then, A Course of Love. And then there was a very interesting, and very fun poetry phase. After this I started working on fiction writing. Writing and rewriting (and rewriting) stories for submission to literary outlets took up much of the time previously available for blogging, and then I wrote a novel (which is still figuring out how to make its way into the world), and now I’m full of feelings. . . . But few words. (Not counting today, I guess!)

Feelings, though, are important. As Jesus said in A Course of Love, “When feelings are shown, or made visible, the new is created. This has always been the way of creation. Each blade of grass, each flower, each stone, is a creation of feelings. All you need do is look about you to know that feelings of love still abound. Beauty still reigns.” (ACOL D:Day18.11)

I believe this is so.

What is it then that our feelings are creating? And did our feelings create the stones, the trees, the rivers? Whose feelings are we talking about?

In addition to being a writer and a person of mystical persuasion, I am an engineer. I started college as a physics major, but when I was invited to sit in on a staff meeting at the tokamak fusion research laboratory I was doing some work-study hours in, and saw the professors laboring under the pressure of securing grant funding for their department, the sensation of being a highly educated subsistence farmer set in and I decided to do something that utilized physics and mathematics, but didn’t require a decade of training to begin competing for fickle government funding. I could always read about quantum mechanics and black holes on my own.

What’s interesting is that the part of me that relies on the profound integrity and reliability of natural phenomena does not feel threatened by the part of me that believes the universe and all it contains are the product of feeling(s). I suppose it’s interesting because to many, if not all of us, feelings are the very antithesis of repeatable, reliable phenomena. It seems profoundly unlikely a universe such as we occupy could be the product of feelings. And even if it is, there’s the far from trivial matter of observing in our own lives that how we feel—no matter how much we simply desire an outcome, or despise an individual, or wish some condition would change—the world doesn’t seem to respond in accordance to our whim.

So how does this all work?

While this could easily present as a bit of a conundrum, I don’t think the resolution is all that complicated. An essential component of my thought on this is that what we call the natural order—the stones and grass and trees and the star fields they rode in on—are the product of unity. And when I say “unity” I mean the timeless, dimensionless, solitary and undifferentiated manifold of Being in which all that manifests has its root. So this was not the creative outcome of how “I” felt or feel in a passing sense, or how “you” felt or feel, but of how the pervasive, progenitive, primordial unity felt (and feels). The Native Americans have this right, I think: They call this the Great Mystery. We’re all part of that Great Mystery, but how we feel when a traffic light turns yellow at the last second and someone dives in front of us with a right-on-red maneuver, and the very eager utility van riding our rear bumper is signaling with a series of threatening hitches that nothing but breaching the intersection will do—this is not the feeling I’m talking about. (These feelings do have creative effects, I think, but not of the magnitude I’m speaking about here.)

The second thing is that while I believe we are each integral to the unity whose initial creative feelings gave rise to the profoundly reproducible phenomena we enjoy today, I also think that in the process of occupying creation as individuals–i.e. coming into form–we lost touch with the fundamental unity that remains, to this day, our true nature. I think we fail to acknowledge how profoundly difficult the project of embodiment really was, or is, particularly when it had never been tried before. Let’s say you are taking scuba lessons and it’s not going well. It is a very different set of challenges to be in love with the fundamental nature of existence when you are experiencing unrelenting hypoxia in a body with which you have identified, than when you were enfolded in an undifferentiated sea of Love that contains no threats whatsoever, no time or place, and no particular needs.

As a brief aside, I also think that in the midst of our proverbial drowning in form, as we labored against the constraints of materiality, it only seems reasonable that certain protections were put in place. Love is very good at this. You don’t want beings in the throes of their own nightmares to be wielding unlimited creative power. (Reference the movie Sphere with Dustin Hoffman and Sharon Stone for a powerful modern proverb on just this very point.) (This—Love’s benevolence and response to the unexpected—is an interesting point to which I may return in the future.) 

That said, if A Course of Love is correct, we are reaching a time in which we are fairly proficient with our scuba gear, and the sensation of threat can largely be set aside. We can, in fact, become conscious embodiments of the very same sensations that produced mountains, kraken, and nebula, only not so that we can create mountains, kraken, and nebula—that’s already been done—but to create a new form of experience within this plane in which we reside. We can embody Love itself: the truth of who we are.

Jesus says in Day 22 of the Dialogues of ACOL that we are “the expression of the unknown, and the only means of the unknown becoming known.” As we discover the reality of unity within ourselves, he suggests it is as if we’ve discovered a great secret we long to share. But how do we do this?

He offers a suggestion:

“The simple answer is that you must express the unknown that you have touched, experienced, sensed, or felt with such intimacy that it is known to you because the knowing becomes real in the making known. It is the only way it remains real. You know union in order to sustain and create union by channeling the unknown reality of union into the known reality of separation. You realize that you know the unknown and you desire to make the unknown knowable. You realize that you have known a place where nothing but love exists, where there is no suffering, no death, no pain nor sorrow, no separation or alienation. You sense that if you could fully express this place of union, if you could abide there, if you could share this place in an aware and conscious state, that you would bring this state into existence in the reality in which you exist.” (ACOL D:Day22.7)

This, I believe, is the project in which we are all immersed. We live within the ongoing creative experiment whose aim is to manifest, in form, the reality we have all once known in which only love exists. That this world has not achieved this on a large scale before is plain to see, but our history is not a referendum on the possible.

The truth is that our feelings have created. The suffering and sorrow born of the feelings of separation—that moment of very bad scuba that created a not insubstantial wobbling of the continuous communication with the heart of our being on which the awareness of love relies—have created an experience of might makes right, or scarcity and division, of suffering, pain, and death. New feelings (revealed), born of our acceptance of unity with the unknown, have the power to reshape the form of what is.