Greetings loci of the group consciousness!
I have come to cast a datum of my own into the blinding information geyser of the extended mind.
It’s called SuperNormalBlog, and this is it’s inaugural post.
In a few weeks I will be travelling to India where I will spend some time affecting the lifestyle of a spiritual vagabond; studying yoga and meditation, playing guitar and wandering about. While there I will be publishing a diary of sorts, using the trip as a thematic excuse to link together a collection of stories, philosophical musings and, I’m sure, a few squawking diatribes.
I arrive in Delhi on Sept. 20th and I will begin regular updates shortly thereafter.
But first, I shall entertain you with a pedantic presentation of my current spiritual outlook.
The group consciousness has been a bit temperamental of late, our paradigm is shifting rapidly and my aim is to look past the easy anachronisms of materialist despair towards something bigger. Something we all belong to. The state of our precarious world is undoubtedly troubling, and my own, often debilitating, anxieties have always been a persistent nuisance, but I have found some reliable solace in the faith that our most imminent assumptions about the world are tenuous and that we are far more connected to one another and the world in which we live then it is popular to espouse.
It seems the basic question is whether you are an ontologically distinct entity with a consciousness that is unique to you or an entity among many with a consciousness that is not unique, but emergent entirely from a sufficiently complex chemical process. If you are ontologically distinct and the sole pinioning of consciousness it means that you are the only reference point for the existence of the world and all phenomena literally flows from you or at least depends on you to complete the subject-object dichotomy required for a process to actually undergo the formality of occurring. Alternatively, if your consciousness is emergent from a sufficiently complex chemical process it means that any chemical process that can exhibit qualities of appetition, reaction and manipulation can be said to be conscious, and that the boundaries that define and separate consciousnesses not only from things that are not conscious, but also from each other, are blurry enough to put their meaning into question. This question finds expression in the yogic opposition between Being and Karma, between Yin and Yang and in the dualistic tension that underpins metaphysics and phenomenology. The exploration of this relationship forms the basis of much of the world’s mystical religion.
Put simply, either you alone are conscious, or everything has as much a claim to consciousness as everything else. I think that on some level both of these statements are true.
Somewhere amid the deepest reflections of science, there seems to be an emerging tendency that points to a place hidden among the hierarchies of being where dualism dissolves into monism, where the conclusions of both materialism and solipsism are revealed to both be useful in describing an aspect of the world, but fundamentally incomplete.
Evolutionary biology tells us that even within the limits of our fleshy bodies we are not a being but beings and the very structure of our cells, including our brain cells, may be characterized by a gradual fusing of lifeforms, mitochondria being a controversial example. However, the principle also applies to the bacteria which process our energy and the various parasitic entities which at first seem malevolent but without which, experiments have shown we quickly die. Because we are not just animals, we are ecosystems. You are literally an ecosystem that is conscious. When considered this way it is not hard to imagine this pattern playing out at other levels of organization, and I would submit that if it plays out at other levels of organization, it is plausible that it plays out at every level of organization, including the most general. The Gaian worldview can’t simply be dismissed as a new-age fantasy. A planetary consciousness is no more or less objectively plausible then your own consciousness.
Additionally, the world of particle physics appears to show that the universe is not built on a system of separately encapsulated particles interacting with each other like we once thought, but that the bedrock of matter is more like a single unified ocean of energy the chaotic permutations of which create the bifurcations necessary to give rise to the appearance of physical matter, it’s apparent diversity of properties and the apparent separateness of its form. So when spiritual people proclaim that we are all one, it is literally true on the most fundamental level. Every discrete object is not only made of the same material as every other but is a dynamic part of the same thing. It seems clear on an absolutely basic scientific level that differentiation emerges from unity and what we perceive as order emerges from what we perceive as chaos.
The quantum world is in fact so utterly chaotic, displaying a nature so capricious, so spatio-temporally non-linear that to describe it as obeying laws demands, at the very least, some semantic reflection. In any case, the idea of the universe as mechanistic, analogous to a type of physical object called a machine, a formal construct which emerged from the human brain, is revealed to be backwards. Nature does not display the properties of a machine. Machines do not even display the properties of nature. The orderly properties of machines emerge from the chaotic properties of nature. Nature is prior to anything properly called mechanical, as is consciousness, since machines are products of human consciousness.
That ones individual consciousness should be the only thing exempt from the patterns of cyclical emergence and interdependence that the whole rest of the universe seems to display strikes me as unlikely. So what we’re left with, then, is a world of soluble boundaries, hidden connections, symbiosis and recapitulation predicated upon a conscious energetic unity which some have chosen to label as god but which is distantly prior to the phylogenetic outskirts upon which rests the human historical narrative which has created the social baggage associated with that word.
So the dichotomy I posed earlier can be rephrased something like this: You alone are conscious and everything has as much a claim to being you as everything else.
Whatever meaning you ascribe to any of this is basically up to you. Existentialists have a point when they proclaim that meaning is essentially a choice. But it feels like a lot of people have looked at the world they are presented with and reached the conclusion that the most authentic life is one of self-aggrandizement, spiritual isolation, apathy, competition and worry.
I disagree. In my mind, the state of affairs presented above seems to point to the perennial logic of love. An authentic life is marked by compassion for other people and for the environment in which we live, characterized not by despair, but by courage, creativity and playfulness. On some level, hidden from our ordinary perceptions, we are indestructible, incorruptible and whole. Yet, despite some slow progress, my anxiety remains. There are 2 possible reasons for this. Either I don’t really, totally believe what I just said. Or, there is something about the constitution of my body that is getting in the way. I expect that both are true to some extent.
Yoga and the various mystical traditions have provided many methods for both truth-apprehension and obstacle-dissolution. I aim to explore them. While doing so I will also explore India. A country that vacillates wildly through extremities of beauty and horror. A place where all of the comedy and tragedy of life, all of its profundity and absurdity is made plain. This blog will serve as my account of this journey and I invite you to follow my perambulations.
More after I arrive….