Both modern quantum physics (our best physical science) and mysticism (our best spiritual science) suggest that we are not merely separate and distinct members of reality, but participants in reality, aspects in reality, expressions of reality itself.
This should be self-evident, since we are here. The cosmos has produced us, aspects of itself knowing itself (as Carl Sagan observed), but for many people it is not so simple. We still think there is some deep divide. We live in an age in which dualistic separation rules in much of our philosophy, politics, economics, business, relationships, science, and even spirituality (conventional religion). We must transcend this dualism, and begin to embrace the reality that we are telling ourselves, the reality that is us. We have many good things to tell ourselves about who we are, if we will listen to ourselves.
As much as some might want to claim, we are not merely passive independent observers looking out onto a separate objective world, “out there.” What we observe, we are a part of. What we see, we are. The observation is a part of the thing, it makes it up, constructs it in consciousness, both the subject and object, both the mind and matter, both spirit and body. I will attempt to explain.
Observation necessitates an interaction, even if only photons are traveling from an object to our retinas. We think it takes time and space for those photons to traverse the separation in order to reach our retinas, and thus we deduce that the object is apart from us, “over there.” We are here, it is there, two distinct and separate locations in spacetime. But perhaps this is a kind of illusion of mind only, inherent in the functioning of mind itself.
Perhaps we see the extension of time and space (spacetime) because our minds operate on a foundation of separation itself, in cutting up perception into bite-sized chunks, dividing them up to evaluate them piecemeal, one at a time. We consider one thing, and then the next, and then the next, in a sequence, and because one thought follows the next thought, they become ordered and flow in moments, and stringing moments together we get the perception of linear time. Thus time enters consciousness.
And because time enters consciousness, so does space, because these two we now know quite confidently are really one (thanks Einstein). Wherever we perceive time, we will also perceive space, because these are linked qualities. If thoughts flow in an ordered sequence, in time, then we may likewise perceive those thoughts at a distance from us. We are a subject perceiving the thought, and that thing is an object in the thought. There is a separation between subject and object, a twoness, a duality, a separation, a distance. We usually don’t perceive the subject and object arising together in consciousness in the very same self-same perceiving, but rather as two separate and distinct objects in consciousness, the observer and the observed. And we do often tend to reduce them both to objects, even objectifying ourselves. So space and distance enter consciousness.
And so the object that the subject sees in consciousness, it projects “out there,” separate from itself, at a distance, in the thoughtful flow of ordered linear time.
(If you enjoy this writing and content, please consider giving a Gift as a token of your appreciation. If every reader gave just $1, it would give life to me and my family. I am deeply grateful to you for your kindness and generosity. —Bryce)
But if we reverse the ontological process of consciousness and its perceptions (something that the Greek philosopher-seer Plotinus was into, which he called Henosis), we may find that the apparent separation both in time and space is only a quality of the perceptions themselves, of the thought in consciousness, which enables us to have the thoughts and perceptions at all. But devoid of such thoughts or perceptions, there may be no such spacetime at all. Spacetime may be an emergent quality of thought, thought which divides and separates out the thought into space and time, subject and object, mind and body.
Think about it (wink). Without the presence of a thought or perception in consciousness, can we perceive time or space? It doesn’t seem so. If we do, it is because there is a thought or perception there in consciousness. If there is the perception of time, it is because there is something in consciousness that is giving the impression of a sequence of moments. If there is the perception of space, it is because there is something there to give the impression of some thing apart from us. But remove all the thoughts and perceptions completely from your consciousness, cleanse your mind completely of them to a state of tabula rasa, and there is no such thing as spacetime there.
Pure consciousness is devoid of spacetime. It is empty of any such thing. There is no time, and there is no space. All time and space are annihilated in pure empty consciousness, in the pure awareness of being. There is no time there. It is timeless and/or eternal. There is no space or distance there either. All “things” are One Great Whole, because there is only consciousness. Consciousness is that One continuous undivided being, wholeness (holiness), oneness, without any objects whatsoever that would be separate from one another in space.
Only when thoughts enter consciousness again does spacetime reemerge. The percept that arises in consciousness is immediately bifurcated into a subject and an object, the one seeing, and the thing seen, even though it is only one self-same percept in consciousness. The object appears to the subject as being “over there,” at a distance, separate from it in space. And a string of such perceptions in a sequence of changing perceptions generates our perception of time, one moment being separate from the next moment. Spacetime separation/extension is perhaps created in the very emergence of thought itself.
Why might this be so? Why would spacetime emerge in thought itself? Perhaps because in order for there to be thought, light-energy must act, must do something. There is an action, an actuality, a doing. Light-energy must act, and when it acts, when it does something more than simply being itself, then it changes. It manifests itself. We perhaps perceive these changes in our perceptions as the movements of energy in spacetime, in the world/cosmos, and also in our bodies and brains.
Our bodily senses pick up the action of energy, and continue that action as a complex electrochemical chain reaction all the way to our brains, where there is a firestorm of electrochemical energetic activity that spreads throughout our brain like lightning. Complex light-energy is moving, is acting, is dancing, is going, is doing, is actualizing, is flaming, is manifesting its potential, and when it does so, spacetime emerges as thought. The movement of light/causality is also linked closely to spacetime, as Einstein showed us. Where there is any actualization of light-energy, a movement from here to there, there is spacetime, or at least that is the relative perception in our mind-thought.
Some might say that is putting the cart before the horse. There can be no movement from here to there until there is spacetime in which it can move. This is perhaps when we start to run into paradoxes which seem irreconcilable to our logical rational minds. We perceive movement in spacetime only because that is how it is seen in our limited finite perceptions. The actualization of light-energy may not be a “movement” at all, but merely an expression, an unfolding, an act, a play, a doing, a manifestation of itself. We observe this as “movement,” and where there is movement, there is spacetime. The observation itself constructs both the spacetime, and the perception of light-energy within it, and its movement within it. These all emerge in the act of Ultimate Reality.
And so even though pure consciousness transcends all spacetime categories of existence, such that there is nothing of the sort there, spacetime emerges as our thoughts emerge or emanate, and they are perhaps codependent, and co-arising.
Now, I’m not in favor of idealism either, which is what this may all sound like: all things, including stuff, physicality, substance, energy-matter coming from consciousness that is mind. This is not what I am suggesting. Notice that it is in the process of the arising of a thought that an object also arises. Both mind and matter arise simultaneously from the deeper Oneness, what we might call consciousness. We may also call it Ultimate Reality. Some may prefer the term “God.”
This consciousness is NOT the same thing as mind, in my view. Mind is consciousness with thoughts present, in its contents. Consciousness, in itself, is empty, devoid of contents, nothingness, not even nothing, because no-thing assumes things that it may have none of. No, consciousness comes before all of that, or beyond all of that, and is the One. The Singularity or Godhead comes before the emergence of all categories, attributes, labels, qualities, beings whatsoever, including all subjective thoughts (mind) and objects (matter). These two both emerge as two sides of the same One coin, that deeper pure and void One Singularity, the Holy Holy (Wholly) One.
How might the subjective and objective be two sides of the same one coin? A subjective thought is a thought of something, and so it assumes a dialectic polar opposite of an object, whether in mind or from the sense. There must be an object for there to be a subject. Thoughts are never empty. And the same goes vice versa. If there is an object, whether a thought or through the senses, then there must be a subject to perceive it as such, to give it all the qualities, attributes, labels, and being that the object is said to have. There is no such object outside of the mind’s perception of it as such, and so it assumes the dialectic polar opposite of a subject. We have never found a subject or an object isolated from the other, ever.
The two, mind and matter, are the dialectic sides of a single percept in consciousness, or in the One. As the mystics say, the seer, seeing, and seen are One; the knower, the knowing, and the known are One. The “Father” is in us, and we are in the “Father.”
What about rocks?? We always want to know if the rocks are alive. We think that if mind and matter are two sides of a single coin, then that must mean the rocks have a mind, that they are not only material. Panpsychism, right? No, I don’t think so. I suggest that rocks are a perception in consciousness too, in the One. We see them as rocks because a percept arises in consciousness, and our subject sees those objects “over there” as rocks. The mind is not arising in the rocks themselves, but rather in us, who are mindful of them.
But we are not separate from the rocks, right? If spacetime is a kind of illusion of thought, including distance, then we are one with the rocks. Right?! Now maybe we are getting somewhere! (Or not, wink).
Thoughts arise in this being we think of as “Bryce.” They do not seem to arise in that thing we think of as “rocks.” What differentiates these two thoughts? One of these things is not like the other. One has energy streaming through it, a veritable firestorm of light-energy, a lightning storm of electrochemical activity, a fire, heat, order, trillions upon trillions of workers doing their act, performing a function, doing a deed. The “rock” has none of this, at least nowhere near the magnitude as the “Bryce.” It is chaos. The One is acting in me, within itself. This part here of the One is doing, it is being, it is becoming. The light-energy here is screaming in a trillion trillion trillion different directions all at once, lighting a bonfire of sparking flames of energy. The One is here, in me, far more than the One is there, in the rocks. The One has emerged here more than there. And in this part of the One therefore has thoughts arise in it, whereas that part of the One does not.
But doesn’t saying “this” and “that,” “here” and “there,” introduce separation and distance between the parts? Yes, because we are dealing with thoughts even here in this writing itself, in the language, in the connecting the dots, in the subject of this sentence, and its objects. And since we must use such symbols in language, it will always seem to include separation and distance. Always. We cannot escape spacetime in thoughts of any kind. We are immersed in the illusion when we think, even right now. When you read these words on your screen, you are thinking them, they are being processed by your mind as thoughts, there is light-energy coursing through your brain. But sit a while and eliminate these thoughts from your mind, let them go, one by one, and you will begin to perceive something quite different. Radically so. In the pure consciousness itself, in the One there is only One.
The “parts” are undivided there. It is simply all the One doing what the One does, manifesting as it will, the Spirit blowing where it will, within the One. In some places in the One the wind blows hard, and stirs up all kinds of eddies, firestorms, tornadoes, lightning strikes, electrochemical deluges, firenadoes, hurricanes of concentrated energy, heat, and light. In other places in the One the wind does not blow as hard, and there is merely a gentle breeze. We don’t know why it blows in some places and not in other places. But it does. Do you know why the wind outside your door blows in some places rather than others? “Temperature gradients in different locations!” Ok, but why are there temperature gradients in different places? Can you find the ultimate cause? Can you trace it back to the prime mover, the first butterfly that flapped its wings, the First Cause? Maybe. The One is That. Now, why does the One do that? Why did it act? Why did it do anything?
This “why” is a thought. Drop the “why” and you will know yourself as That, as the One, and then you may know it, and only there may you know it as it is. This knowing is beyond all “knowing.” You simply are That. It is you. We are. I AM. And I AM as I AM, and all your reasoning as to why I AM as I AM is simply that same I trying to know itself in a way that is not It, its Self, as the I. It is an object for a subject, and you’ve already divided yourself into that foundational separative dualistic quality of thought, introducing spacetime in which things are separate, including all rational intellectual thinking, reasoning, logic, concepts, ideas, etc. Once you’ve eaten of that tree of knowledge, there is no “knowing” your self as the Self, because you’ve already divided yourself from It, fallen from It, been alienated from your Self.
Or so we think. In Truth, we are always One. 😉