Ideas About the Principles of Life

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Reflections / Science

One of the things I think is that the world we see is an afterimage, or representation, of an invisible one. I don’t really know the details such that I could draw them out, but I do think this. And even though there may be no objective merit to my thinking like this, it is the conception of the universe that resonates most truly with me.

There are several of ways to conceive of what I’ve just said and I think all of them are to some extent valid. For instance, one thing I think is that physical matter of the type our senses can detect is like the skin shed by the invisible and ever-moving snake of energetic exchange that forms the fabric of the observable world. Not that anything is static, per se. But what appears static is the product of the invisible and continuous motion of existence. This is not really controversial.

Another way to conceive of it, which is more controversial in some corners, is to suggest that the types of organization and patterns found in the physical universe are replications, or expressions, of underlying truths or realities about the way things are and must be and cannot otherwise be. In other words, the physical world is a representation of what exists in silence, outside of all motion and polarity, outside of time. This is the idea that what arises in form is the coming into being of what is formless.

While this idea is not accepted by the scientific mainstream, it is generally accepted in religious circles, where (unfortunately) it is generally expressed in just one particular form: the idea of a supernatural God. This is in my opinion a very limited form of the idea. In particular, this God often possesses traits undesirable in one another– judgmentalism, elitism, selfishness, capriciousness, etc. What I think of as formless has nothing to do with such a God, and everything to do with suggesting the formless is as natural as the formed–that they in fact are inseparable and intimately linked– and therefore neither one is “supernatural.” When one says a thing is supernatural they are in essence saying it is magical. Its effects are the whimsical movements of a power that transcends the natural laws of this world.

I don’t believe in such a whimsical power, but I do believe the limits of the natural laws of this world are only incompletely understood, so this places me in something of a no man’s land. I don’t believe what I think can rightly be categorized as either religious or scientific per se.

One of the most interesting things we’ve discovered in this universe is ourselves. To say it another way, the most interesting phenomenon I think we have found so far is life. I like to read about what we call life because I sense that, like my vague and weakly antithetical thought system, life doesn’t quite fit the molds given it. The extremes are reductionism and physicalism on the one hand, and bearded, lightning-throwing gods on the other. It appears to me that life defies them both.

To me, the general idea of physicalism is that nature is a closed system of mutually interchangeable matter and energy that unfolds in accordance with natural laws. Said another way, it is a system of objective and measurable quantities whose unfolding takes place without the influence of any external (or supernatural) causes. Reductionism is the idea that complicated things can be explained in terms of their far simpler parts, and that very simple physical propensities–when allowed to behave as they must, in conformance to the natural physical laws of this universe–can explain everything. They can explain life, for instance.

I would say that very generally speaking then the view of the world that is considered scientific is one that says everything we see can be explained by the operation of fundamental principles, or natural laws, upon fundamental quantities, e.g. upon the smallest bits of energy, the smallest bits of matter, the smallest ingots of space, and the smallest slices of time.

Key to all of this is the idea held in the scientific sphere that there should be no resort to any external organizing factor or intelligence. Though the fundamental parameters of physical existence appear to be quite precisely tuned to produce novelty and life, it can be said that we simply haven’t learned how the system of nature works yet, and so one day we will be able to explain those beguiling initial conditions without resort to any external condition as well. The most important thing in the scientific explanation of the universe is to provide a plausible explanation of its current state, expressed in terms of the very simplest, most concise mathematical laws and measurable quantities possible.

In such a conception of life, all biology should be reducible to physics, as physics is inherently more fundamental than chemistry and biology. There are in fact countless examples of this. The growth of the human cell, for instance, has been shown to occur in very regular periods of growth and rest, and in researching this a protein containing copper was found that modulates the naturally-occurring sinusoidal cycle of redox potential in water such that the modified cycle has a period of 24 minutes. Exactly 60 such cycles equals a twenty-four hour day. Living matter in other words, has built a clock from the physics of things more or less “laying around”: amino acids, copper, and water. This clock functions because of the action of the fundamental laws of nature on the fundamental quantities of nature, meaning that it necessarily functions as it does because it cannot do otherwise, given the physical properties of the atoms in the system.

Similarly, it has been shown that E. Coli bacteria resist the stress of heat–which causes otherwise precisely folded proteins to come apart–by forming a particular, additional heat-resistant protein that acts as a brace to keep other proteins from wilting in the heat. The feedback loop in regulating the production of the heat-resistant protein is quite amazing, and is also at least conceptually understood in terms of the underlying physics. For instance, the shape and composition of the heat-resistant protein is surely one which, unlike that of other proteins, is less affected by an increase in temperature. It takes a lot of resources to make these proteins, though, so they’re not made all the time. What happens is that the gene that calls for the heat-resistant protein has the opposite problem: it produces RNA that does wilt at safe temperatures. So even though the cell is always producing the RNA molecule that contains the genetic sequence for the heat-resistant protein, generally speaking it wilts and is subsumed before it can be used to actually transcribe the protein. When it gets warmer, the RNA doesn’t wilt, and great quantities of the heat-resisting protein are manufactured very swiftly. All of the properties of the molecules that make this system work can (and should) be explainable in terms of the underlying physics of the molecules in question. In other words, those molecules are what they are necessarily–they cannot be something else–because of their unique arrangement of atoms and their fundamental quantities.

I find this type of thing absolutely fascinating. The complexity and uncanny perfection at work here boggles the mind. That aside, an important question is whether or not the operation of the fundamental principles of nature (natural laws) upon the fundamental quantities of nature (things like the strength of gravity, the charge of the electron, the mass of the proton, etc.) could explain all that we observe today. The answer in many ways is yes, but there is one very interesting facet of this process that is not reducible solely to those fundamentals, and that is the genetic code. Something very interesting is happening continuously in living organisms, and that is this: linear information contained in the genetic material (e.g. DNA) results in the assembly, by molecular machines, of three dimensional proteins. There are only four bases in the genetic code, and yet this is sufficient to produce 20+ amino acids in varying combinations and lengths, yielding a vast array of possible proteins.

It is a code in the sense that within the context of the living organism, particular sequences of DNA “code” for particular proteins. There are molecular machines in between the world of DNA and the world of proteins that have a specific relationship between the two worlds, a relationship that is not necessary because of the operation of the fundamental laws of nature upon the fundamental quantities of the universe. In other words, the bridge between the world of DNA and the world of proteins is one of meaning. It doesn’t have to be that way physically–it could be some other way entirely. A house key certainly depends upon the natural bond between atoms to function, but the shape of the house key is an arbitrary one that must correspond to the lock, and there is nothing necessary about the shapes that are chosen. A code is in essence a two-sided key–an interface between symbols on the one hand, and meanings on the other.

If I was deposited in an alien civilization and I said, “Oh, shit,” there would be nothing in the physics of the sounds I produced to suggest the meaning I ascribe to them. That’s because language is a code. Many languages use very different sounds to convey a particular meaning. This is what the genetic code is like, along with many other codes that have been discovered to be actively at work within living matter. The meaning (protein) that results from a particular symbol (a gene) does not necessarily arise from the physical properties of the atoms and molecules involved. It has more or less been determined that the biological system of information (e.g. DNA) and its corresponding meanings (e.g. synthesized proteins) represent a quantity or property at work in the physical world that is neither reducible, nor measurable, and thus is fundamental in some way.

What we call life therefore cannot be understood in terms of physicalism or reductionism, though it is remarkably adept at leveraging the basic and inalterable properties of nature’s fundamental elements to its use. There is a really interesting question here about whether or not life itself could be producing content in the universe that is not only new, but fundamental. This idea is remarkable to me. It suggests that life could be producing content in the universe that is not only new, but irreducible and necessary to explain the phenomenal world as we objectively comprehend it. Creation in other words, is ongoing, through the manifest dynamics of unity and relationship.

While it is not my aim in this piece to leap to the assertion that the presence of codes and irreducible information in biological systems implies the existence of a God or gods–for I have added nothing to one side or the other of that discussion–I do wish to point out one analogue between what we observe at work in biological life, and the idea expressed in A Course of Love that we, as beings, share a common root—a unity of being—that is made known through the continuous and open-ended exploration of relationship. Life is in essence “revealed” through relationship. For myself there is a beautiful reconciliation here of the idea that the visible and the invisible are echoes of one another, and that all life represents the unfolding of simple principles that are not only natural, but eternal. What we see around us, in other words, are the reflections in material form of those specific and timeless principles which are inherent to the reality of being, and thus to the reality of life.

* Some of the ideas here were taken from two papers by Marcello Barbieri, one entitled “Biosemiotics: a New Understanding of Life” and a second entitled “Origin and Evolution of the Brain.”

** The E. Coli description was taken from the book Microcosm by Carl Zimmer, which is a fascinating read.

30 Comments

  1. Hi Michael. I like your mystical posts that hint at these topics, maybe because I like the element of mystery, dare I say magic. Not that I want to rely strictly on magic, but part of the wonder, beauty and awe is connected to the unknown and mystery of life for me. As much as at times, I want everything to be reduced to a simple formula that I can plug and play to make a better, happier life, my experience tells me this isn’t likely. I do like the idea of our physical world being an echo of the energetic or subtle world, and agree that relationships help reveal the textures, beauty and depth of life.

    Thanks for tackling these intriguing questions and connections in life. And I hope you aren’t giving up your mystical posts and conversations with Hafiz! 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    • Hi Brad,

      I think most of us enjoy the element of mystery, which is good, because I don’t really see it going away. Our lives seem quite happy to compel us into the unknown whether the mechanisms are tangible or not, and we encounter the richness of life itself in exploring these areas that defy conception and history. I really think life is this exploration of what hasn’t been before, both physically and however else we wish to describe it!

      Hafiz will be back! Don’t worry, my friend!
      Peace
      Michael

      Liked by 4 people

  2. A boldly illuminating essay, Michael, yet much of which substance I am unable to respond to due to my lack of any relevant specialism, and would perhaps best leave those portions to Mike, Don and others to reflect upon. I simply don’t have the wherewithal to connect the dots in the manner you attempt, and am rather more resting in Monod’s proposition of life being a matter of Chance & Necessity. Or, to use Ernst Mayr’s words “adapted-ness . . . is an a posteriori result rather than an a priori goal-seeking”. But of course, I simply have no means of justifying that inclination of mine.

    We’ve touched on it over the past 2 or 3 years, and what you appear to be saying is that life itself is teleological in nature, that there is some grand narrative and end-game envisaged by this “organizing factor or intelligence” you refer to, and which posits life’s ultimate state of perfection – or at least perhaps a sort of Hegelian end-point of non-conflict, or parallel with The Watchmaker Argument? I warm to your suggestion that should such a factor exist, then it can, and will, at some point be known, rather than remaining forever beyond our sphere of verifiable knowledge – such as the gods are. And I have long concurred with your statement that “When one says a thing is supernatural they are in essence saying it is magical.” Well said!

    I’ll leave you with my thanks, admiration and appreciation for your most excellent piece, and also a quote from the mischievous J.B.S. Haldane which seems a point of neutrality between our respective inclinations:

    “Teleology is like a mistress to a biologist: he cannot live without her but he’s unwilling to be seen with her in public.”

    Liked by 6 people

    • Hello Hariod,

      Thank you very much for taking the bit here. I really wasn’t trying to be teleological in this post and in fact was attempting to make a conscious effort to do otherwise. There are a couple of things I’m drawn to explore by way of response here. First, I was hoping to convey there is no perfect state or end game, meaning I’ve tried to envision the world (as I personally think of it, with its physical and non-physical structure) in a unified and very much undetermined way. Life has emerged but we could imagine it having done so under quite different terms: producing very different species. So it’s not really the particulars that matter here, but the idea that life itself, with all of its attending uncanny facets and beauty is wholly natural. It’s also the idea that everything is part of it.

      Another way to say this may be to say that it simply is not possible that there not be life. Life is what exists.

      So if there is magic, it is life– and not merely advanced biological life, but the novel transcendence of nothingness.,I think we are to a certain extent fooling ourselves if we think we understand this phenomenon called life. So, this is sort of my second idea: that whatever that ineffable something or other is that we see in life– it is quite simply natural. It exists. It is a natural force. It is the heart of everything we describe as natural. This is a bit like the idea of chance and necessity somehow meeting, only said a little differently. Rather than suggesting the beauty and novelty of life was “designed”, why can it not simply be that the principles of life exist, very much like natural laws or qualities. Life exists, and the principles of life permeate being and non-being such that they produce the arising of phenomena that represent, or correspond, with the nature of existence. Just because I see the physical representations as only a portion of this puzzle does not mean that the non-physical portion operates like a conscious human will, or a will of any sort whatsoever. It is not necessary to assume that type of will being at work.

      I’m saying that life is a timeless whatever it is, and that it exists, and that it cannot help but arise in various and not predetermined modes because it simply does exist.

      My examples were simply to show that there are scientists who don’t think physicalism and reductionism lead to complete and adequate explanations of nature. In biology we find meaningful structures not really explicable in terms of physical laws alone. And in physics I am probably decades behind the current conversation, but in Lee Smolin’s recent book he even goes so far as to hypothesize the laws of nature may well be based upon the reinforcement of precedent. Meaning that when nature is faced with a novel situation, the manner in which it is handled becomes the law, and it doesn’t go back and do it differently. I’m over-simplifying his idea, but it is quite easy to see the parallels to the genetic code, where an arbitrary choice to utilize four base molecules to form the code has been unchanged since the very beginning so far as we know– all the evolution and innovation has been in the invention of new “words” with the fixed alphabet to give an analogy. The code itself has never been modified.

      Lastly, I tried to show that life produces new and previously non-existent relationships and meanings. I have suggested this is the nature of what life is, in both the seen and the unseen. This is also parallel to the idea of Smolin, and the way I have presented the genetic code and semiotic biology. There is nothing preordained there: but the free movement of the principles of life simply does produce novelty and meaning. That is the nature of existence, of being, of life, of space, of nothing and everything, of whatever “is.”

      So is it teleological to suggest there is no end or fixed goal, and that what exists simply expresses according to its nature?

      Michael

      Liked by 4 people

      • Thanks Michael, and it seems there’s not such a distance in our positions after all, save perhaps for this business of an “organizing factor or intelligence”, which did rather suggest to me some objective – i.e. to get stuff organized by using intelligent means – though you’re to some extent clarifying that this is inherent to life as a Natural Law.

        The words of Ernst Mayr which I quoted – “adapted-ness . . . is an a posteriori result rather than an a priori goal-seeking” – seem, at first glance, sympathetic to what you describe of Lee Smolin’s thesis of the reinforcement of precedent. Then the question seems to arise as to if this is the case, then what is the place for the posited intelligence? Perhaps you are suggesting that Mayr’s adapted-ness exhibits a perceived quality of intelligence, in that it’s life-sustaining, but that there is no externally applied (as it were) intelligence to the process of adaption, and which itself gives rise to the occurrence of novelty within life? This would seem to be the point on which the answer to your final question hinges, if I understand your position correctly.

        Just to nutshell that last thing: If the intelligence you speak of is applied rather than being an innate quality – and that aspect of innateness must be a subjective judgement, it seems to me – then it would indeed seem teleological, even if the intelligence cannot envisage its own end-game.

        To be clear, I suspect you would agree that we must avoid regarding a teleological perspective as being better or worse than its opposite, but it does seem centrally relevant to a discussion about the ‘principles of life’.

        Many thanks for your time and engagement on this fascinating subject, my friend.

        Hariod

        Liked by 2 people

        • Dear Hariod,

          I was scratching my head a bit at your note here, and went back to read the essay I wrote as I had thought I had made great pains not to baldly suggest the presence of an organizing intelligence of any sort. And I see that I did not, and that where you reference my words “organizing factor or intelligence” they were in fact used in a statement that was simply stating those quantities are not in keeping with a scientific view. And I don’t think I contradicted that– certainly not so clearly as I have on other occasions. So I think you may be discussing a point I didn’t make, at least in this piece. Part of the motivation of this piece was to take you up on a challenge you once offered, which was to describe the universe without resulting to the notion of God. I’ve done as well as I could in that instant I think.

          One thing to think about are these natural laws. Take gravity for instance. It is all well and good to say that the force of gravity between any two bodies is proportional to the product of the masses of the bodies in question divided by the square of the distance between them (their centers of gravity). And multiplied by a constant. This is a recognition of a mathematical order to what we see, but it says absolutely nothing about how the universe keeps this straight, or how it came into being. We don’t really believe the universe has got some supercomputer running in the background to make all the calculations that must be made to ensure it always conforms to this relationship. It just does it. And it does it across fantastic distances of time and space, and for trillions upon trillions of gravity-participating entities, waves, aggregations, fluxions, beach balls, etc. So I don’t believe gravity is really the product of an algorithmic process, even though it can be squared with one. Where do these calculations occur? How fast must they occur to return the behaviors that we see?

          So I’ve tried to suggest that perhaps that same sort of leeway might be applied to what we call life. What intelligence is required to produce novelty and relationship, if it is the nature of what is to foster these things? Like gravity then, “what is” needn’t think about what it is trying to be or do, or about how its going at all. It is simply discovering what it is by being what it is, which it cannot help, for that is its nature. It simply does produce novelty and relationship because that is what it is. Does this really need to be viewed as more far-fetched than gravity? Or the strong force?

          The only difference I see between such a conception and the way we view natural laws, at least in the near term, is the difficulty in expressing this propensity algorithmically. So really, what is so crazy about the idea that whatever exists, has qualities that do not lend themselves to algorithmic expression? Everything we see can a postieri perhaps be explained algorithmically, but the production of novelty cannot be predicted algorithmically (I don’t think). But is suggesting that it is natural to yield novelty, relationship, and beauty– natural to produce life– any different that suggesting it is natural that objects should spontaneously call to one another across great distances of space? Sure it would be good to say that a little better at some point, to have some simple principle that we could point to, but it could be as simple as saying that it is wholly natural for previously non-existent things to exist.

          I’m not sure that it is necessarily more complicated, though the way we talk about it could get better than what I’ve offered here. And so without resorting to a God or some willful intelligence, we simply say it is the nature of Life to live, of creation to create, of the universe to unfold. We don’t need a calculated or willful engine behind it. What we call intelligence is perhaps an entirely new thing, and yet a twinkle as compared to what a living universe might one day foster, just as our arm-wrestling over philosophy is infantile as compared to the forces of gravity.

          Peace
          Michael

          Liked by 2 people

          • Thanks Michael, and obviously I must expand on this point of “an organizing factor or intelligence”, and which I’ve latched onto, seemingly at odds with your intended overall meaning within an entirely naturalistic perspective.

            You begin the piece by saying that you think “the world we see is an afterimage, or representation, of an invisible one”, and that this is the conception of the universe “that resonates most truly” with you. You go on to say that this silent, motionless, formlessness is synonymous with “underlying truths or realities”.

            You say, perfectly reasonably in my view, that Physicalism and Reductionism are insufficient methodologies for explaining why the world is as it is. You say in respect to such methodologies: “Key to all of this is the idea held in the scientific sphere that there should be no resort to any external organizing factor or intelligence.” It seems a revised scientific and naturalistic epistemology is required, which again seems a perfectly reasonable demand. I’ve long held the notion that a multi-disciplinary epistemology will best lead the individual to whatever final understandings may be possible for members of our species.

            The suggestion, which it appears I took wrongly, is that the domain of science and scientific epistemology itself cannot account for the invisible precursor or causal genesis of the world – the “underlying truths or realities” you posit, and that the reason for this (so it seemed from my reading) is that they are unable to detect “any external organizing factor or intelligence.”

            If the invisible precursor to the world – a world which you say is “an afterimage or representation of an invisible one” is not, in effect, “any external organizing factor or intelligence”, then why is it necessary to posit such? If it does not, to all intents, organize, and with an intelligence which produces life and the capacity for the universe to know itself in some measure, then in what sense is it any precursor to the world? How does it create “an afterimage or representation” of itself?

            Do you see how I’ve derived (however incorrectly) the meaning I have? I think the challenge of attempting to address big issues in short blog pieces is extraordinarily difficult, not to say impossible from my own experience! I recently wrote an 800 word piece on Free Will (half of which was anecdotal) and naturally enough had readers come back at me with “there’s more to it than that.” – well I never. But I am guilty of this very same thing myself here of course, and on your writing of a piece on The Principles of Life in 1,000 words or so. There are almost bound to be ambiguities or holes appearing, if only in the readers’ rendering of such concise a piece. You probably need c.4k words even just to scratch the surface of your thoughts on this, but you’ve done an admirable job nonetheless, my friend. Do please forgive my pedantic nitpicking, and accept (as I think you graciously do) that this is one of my own means of learning.

            Much love,

            Hariod.

            Liked by 2 people

            • Hello Hariod,

              Of course I can see where you are coming from! Particularly given my history on these matters. I’m essentially “playing with ideas” in order to discover things. And finding it enjoyable, really. To your very interesting questions, I was playing with the idea that a) there is no external factor, and that what is natural is as invisible as visible, (like the way in which gravity functions reliably without our having a clue as to how it got that way or how it keeps track of its obligations), b) that the principles that give rise to the appearance of an organizing factor are in fact inherent to what we call nature, and are only revealed in the unfolding of what nature is, and c) that nature is not and may never be done unfolding per se (though I didn’t say that, did I?). Ha!

              The reason I posit an invisible reality interwoven with the visible one is that the visible one alone is insufficient as a means of explaining what is known. But I think the point I’m trying to make–I’m probably not making any real points, and that’s okay, too– is that there needn’t be a temporal sequence to their relationship that says the invisible must have come first. I’m suggesting whatever these principles or factors are, they just are. There are a number of properties of nature that science already says simply are. So I’m suggesting the factors or properties giving rise to order and meaning weren’t sitting around invisibly somewhere cooking this up like one might think, for when we ascribe this term “intelligence” to an invisible watchmaker, this is essentially what I think we humans envision: an intelligent entity planning things out. What I’m suggesting is that what is invisible is necessary because what is visible is incomplete on its own merits, and that what is invisible needn’t have come first and been a watchmaker, but that it could simply be the reservoir for those properties or propensities of being that give rise to the production of novelty and meaning.

              I find it enjoyable to play around with different views and see how they feel. Ultimately I don’t have a taxonomy of phenomena I could draw up, as I said at the outset. And I think it is probably folly to think we can put our finger on exactly what it all is. But I also think it is folly to insist on a system that insists we are not deeply known by one another and the fabric of being, that meaning is a secondary derivation to algorithm and chance, or that life can arise from that which is not life. I was trying to cover these bases while not framing it in terms of a specific or particular predecessor intelligence, and suggesting that meaning could be as easily an inherent part of the structure of nature as the force of gravity, whose workings we can model, but whose actual nature we do not comprehend.

              Michael

              Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Michael, thank you for this very interesting and deep piece! I have always been fascinated by biology, and as I grew older, biochemistry as well. I love understanding how things work. In addition, I have always been fascinated by what is invisible – spirit, connection, faith, awareness, enlightenment. I love understanding how things work. What I don’t enjoy is being shoved into a box and told that I must be a scientist, or I must be spiritual or religious. I am none of those things. They don’t have a category for us yet, but we are the new type of thinkers who don’t need the umbrella-crutch of a belief system to think from. I call it the middle way 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Well said, Sara. It is absolutely no fun being told which box is yours, as if we are one thing and one thing only. There are certainly patterns to our human thinking but it is the way we live at the edge of one or two or many boxes that we discover how to build the new out of what has been… I like calling it the middle way. It’s the way that leaps off the page!

      Peace
      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

    • Well said, Julie! I did read the Holographic Universe a good while ago. I can’t say as I remember it very well now, or even understood it fully at the time, but it definitely was a book I enjoyed, that caused me to think, and that put a number of threads out in front of myself to explore further. I do think the human body is a remarkable example of this holographic idea, and that the idea of the holograph says something important that is missed in an algorithmic conception of things. I’m aware of several systems of medicine that could all diagnose a person by looking at something local, and plumbing those relationships. Iridology for instance suggests the eye contains information of the whole. There are theories I think that one’s teeth relate to major body systems/organs that has been shown to be fairly reliable. Some systems look at the tongue. Some the back and spine. Etc. I sort of suspect that if we knew how to look, there is no part of our body we could look at that wouldn’t tell us something about the whole…

      Peace
      Michael

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Walking My Path: Mindful Wanderings in Nature says

    Hey Michael,
    As I read this, I kept looking for something to converse about, to sort of argue a little, but l only found things with which I agree. A few sentences stood out for me especially.
    “Creation in other words, is ongoing, through the manifest dynamics of unity and relationship.”
    “The visible and the invisible are echoes of one another.”
    And your final sentence, “What we see around us, in other words, are the reflections in material form of those specific and timeless principles which are inherent to the reality of being, and thus to the reality of life.”
    Great thought provoking piece, Michael. I think we (life) are constantly creating within collective consciousness all the time. Relationship, meaning, unity, atoms, molecules all converge in mysterious ways. I love the mystery of it.
    Peace
    Mary

    Liked by 6 people

    • Hi Mary,

      I loved this note! I can relate to wanting to find some bone to pick– that natural tendency to give a response. We learn a lot by pushing and tugging and teasing one another about such things. I agree we are constantly creating, and that it all converges in beautiful ways we don’t understand and may never fully understand. In ACOL there is a section that says basically, you can perpetually be coming to know, even though you never don’t know. The idea was sort of like, you can know that love is real, but never run out of new ways to encounter what love is… So we can always know ourselves and always be coming to know ourselves at the same time, and ACOL suggests this is true of God, too… Truth is fixed, but its expressions are infinite and ever-changing, and the experiences we have in their midst forever revealing our true natures…

      Peace!
      Michael

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Your writings fill me with awe and are so much appreciated . Yes , Life is such a glorious phenomenon and naturally “intimate ” . My mind is a buzz now with a heart silent to hear it’s whisper . I always am inspired by the fascination of dialogue you evoke with the others and now wish to read the book ” The Halographic Universe ” that beautiful Julie mentions . All of our collective experiences , expressed so uniquely , so “strangely ” differently , may I say , are deeply transforming in expressions of poetry , music , narrative ,writing , dance , and the pure art of truth …..I love it here with you dear friend .
    love , megxxx
    ( you and the others have been missing from me ) I’m sorry it’s been so long ….

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Meg,

      So nice to see you! You returned on a somewhat technical note I’m afraid. Ha! But you’ve added a beautiful facet to it as only you can. I’ve missed you too. And yes, life is a glorious phenomenon and I think the intimacy is not often enough included in the discussion of what makes life what it is. For me the words meaning and intimacy travel in very close circles, because meaning really only exists when something is shared, and when something is shared with the same meaning, there is intimacy. It is a lovely thought, that the universe is growing intimacy as well as beauty, and art, and dance, and all the forms of human knowing that each bring their own perspective to the whole thing…

      Peace
      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

  6. So much to ponder, much of it above my head. I wonder what you think of string theory and how it fits into your schema. Physicists are the true poets of science. Thanks for sharing get your thoughts and theories.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello Ellen,

      I don’t know what to make of string theory, and probably don’t know nearly enough to evaluate it. What I know is that it contains a beautiful mathematics to those who can “see” them, and likely countless echoes of what is true and good about the relationships that form our universe, but as science goes I think it is challenged by the fact that it hasn’t made any new and testable predictions as of yet. It has only explained what other theories have already explained. That is my understanding, which is probably ten or twenty years out of date from the real science! Ha!

      Hope you are well, my friend.
      Peace
      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, David! It’s easy to get carried away about such things. It’s all fun to ponder once in a while and I like when I learn about how things work and it blows my mind. That’s always fun. Glad to share these moments with you, David.

      Peace
      Michael

      Like

  7. Nope….it’s all magic I say and I’m sticking to it…magic in the things we don’t see but feel, thoughts, words, feelings, Hafiz….all of it 🙂 P.S///he made me say it 🙂 ❤

    Liked by 3 people

    • Well in a way, Kim, that is what I was saying. If the division between what is visible and invisible is a false one, as I feel in my heart of hearts, then its either all magic or none of its magic! Because it can’t be part one thing and part another. And I’m with you on the universe being half full! Our ability to explain a thing like gravity doesn’t mean we know anything about what it really is… That’s a mistake we make a lot. Gravity is just very, very consistent magic! Ha!

      Thanks for this…

      Much Love
      Michael

      Liked by 3 people

      • Love that answer Michael, felt a bit out of my element on this post…hence delay in response….but I like to banter and acknowledge as you are so deserving….always praise of course…but magic does rock…but you know that…I find in the simplicity the core of all that is…and for me…that’s what fuels the jets, the kites and all the butterflies….thank you for you my friend, you always make my day take flight💜Peace, love and waiting for book two…hint..hint….💜😀💕

        Liked by 3 people

  8. Michael, I really liked your analysis, parallels and the big picture you see in all. I especially enjoyed reading comments and responses and how it is aparent that ultimately after all is said and examined, we see with our hearts.
    I really admire this magic of the tension or call it dance or life or magic: the tension of wanting to understand and accepting that we cannot understand, the tension of connection versus separatedness, the way those bacteria or any unit works to preserve its unity while being influenced and influencing all around it. The dance of sun and rain to grow endless life. The tension of feminine and masculine energy, the heat and the cold, somewhere in that perfect chance of balance life explodes.
    Thank you for your questioning and examination and sharing of life.
    Kristina

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello Kristina,

      Your own analysis here is sparkling. I think it is natural and human to witness these dynamics both in the fabric of the world at large, and in the movement of our own being. We experience directly these tensions–or forms of relatedness–between these seeming opposites. Those bacteria really are amazing! One thing I thought was also really interesting reading about the bacteria was that they maintain a sort of conceptual distance from the environment– meaning that all the information about the environment that reaches the membrane is translated into other molecules that only then are allowed to interact with the processes that express the genetic material. There is always, it seems, this interpretive at the center of life, suggesting this wholeness, if you will, even at the cellular level. I guess, in a way, it just reminds me that life is always arising as a response to what is. It is truly fascinating!

      Peace
      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Whenever you write about the Course of Love, I really feel like I resonate with the material. The biosemiotics stuff is fascinating as well. It’d be nice to follow up with some of that material later on in life. I find I am always trying to balance what I read, if what I am reading is really heavy-lifting, or requires a lot of my thought and focus; and meanwhile, say I am also processing other gobs of material in my daily life. I find I need to make life more playful in the “invisible” realm…perhaps, like right now, I’d build myself a cot to rest on and take a nap in the invisible world. I like how you join your thoughts here. Have a blessed day and weekend and autumnal equinox. *sigh* the breath is everything. It’s neat to watch you elucidate your thoughts.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Ka!

      Hope you have a nice power nap in the invisible realms. I know what you mean about needing to mix and match the various facets of our being in our reading and our playing and our living. It’s tough when it’s all one thing and not another. But we each have these cycles we move through, too, I think– times when we can’t learn enough, and times when we don’t want to read another thing!

      You have a lovely day, too!
      Blessings
      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hi Michael,

        You are welcome 🙂

        I am in the “can’t learn enough” phase. It might last me till I hit the grave, though I do grow tired (and frustrated) and need to rest or play outside or online from time to time. The power nap must have set me up for good sleep, because I was able to cruise a little bit in the ‘no dream zone,’ enough to get a good number of winks in, and power me (hopefully) through this weekend, and through this rigorous week ahead!
        Cheers, Ka

        Liked by 1 person

  10. “There is a really interesting question here about whether or not life itself could be producing content in the universe that is not only new, but fundamental”

    I have to admit, Michael, that I am a little under the weather and some of the scientific stuff went…whoof…right over my head. But the beauty of you and how you write is that I don’t have to understand each and every concept you present because I ALWAYS FEEL IN MY SOUL what you are saying! The quote above gave me goosebumps every time I read it!! Thank you for making me think…making me feel…and making me question!
    Much love to you ♡

    Liked by 2 people

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