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The Playground of Consciousness

The word cosmology is derived from two Greek words: kosmos, meaning 'world' (the root means 'beauty'), and logos, meaning 'rational thought'. Cosmology, then, is essentially thinking about the world. Over the past 300 years, as the focus of science has been more and more on the purely physical aspects of Man's world, cosmology has likewise been limited to the study of the physical universe. In this series, we will use cosmology in its original meaning of the study of everything in Man's world, from the physical universe to his dreams, emotions, gods and civilizations.

About this series

The purpose of this series of articles is to introduce the reader to some new ways of thinking about the nature of reality, the physical universe, and Man's place in it.

The common concepts of our established theories, such as mass, particles, fields, and energy are all creations of consciousness. They are what consciousness has been using to conveniently describe itself and its environment. Even such deeply rooted concepts as space and time aren't absolutes, as we shall see.

The ideas presented here may seem rather speculative. Nonetheless, they are in perfect agreement with firmly established theories of physics such as quantum theory. They also provide a framework where psychic phenomena are a very natural aspect of life. Perhaps most importantly, they recognize the reality of our own subjective experience.

By having the courage to look beyond our physical universe, and to accept the validity and the reality of our thoughts and inner experience, we will be rewarded with a much richer world. We will ourselves move further beyond our physical selves, and expand our own experience. It is through our experience, individually and collectively, that we expand the experience of God.

Part 1: Experiments and Experience

First, we will discuss various experiments from quantum physics and psychic research. We will discover many clues about what lies beyond. We will touch on the nature of time, probabilities and many-worlds.

Science

For the last 300 years, experiments in the physical world have been the main method for learning about the nature of reality. This method has led to great successes: we now have theories that describe nature very accurately indeed. In this class, we will take a look at some physics experiments that give us important clues about the structure of reality.

Science and Consciousness

To understand the entire Kosmos, including our thoughts, emotions, and everything that is thinkable or 'conceivably conceivable', we need to take a look at the consciousness side as well. We will look at investigations into the nature of interactions between consciousness and machines, and also at the nature of perception.

Consciousness

In the third and final part of this section, we will look at the experience of consciousness from 'within.' We will have a brief look at what mystics and thinkers throughout the ages have shared about their personal experience with consciousness.

Science

“It does not do harm to the mystery to know a little about it. Far more marvelous is the truth than any artists of the past imagined!”
– Richard P. Feynman
  • The mystery of quantum physics
  • Changing the past from the present
  • Summary: the cosmology of physics
  • The area of the playground of consciousness that we are most familiar with is what we call "the physical universe." It is only natural, then, that we take this as the first step in our discussion.

    Note: This paper isn't meant to be a complete introduction to quantum physics or psychic phenomena. Please see the links below for a more in-depth discussion of some of the principles.

    Don't worry if what you read here is confusing or incomprehensible. Quantum behavior is unlike anything you know about. Because this behavior is so unusual and unlike anything we know, it's very difficult to get used to, and it appears confusing and mysterious to everyone, even to experienced physicists. Many physicists and Nobel Laureates, including Richard Feynman who I quoted above, admit they do not thoroughly understand what is going on.

    If you don't want to work through all the details, you can go straight to the summary.

    The Mystery of Quantum physics

    In the early part of this century, scientists accumulated more and more evidence of strange behavior of the building blocks of matter they were investigating.

    Waves as particles

    Light had always thought of as waves. But a phenomenon called the photoelectric effect was puzzling them. When a beam of light is shone on a metal plate, electrons are released, which in turn.produces an electric current.

    In the classical picture, one would expect that the electrons accumulate energy from the incoming light, and are released when they reach a threshold. This is somewhat like the energy a rocket needs to leave the Earth. The chemical energy of the fuel is transformed into kinetic energy of the rocket. When the rocket is flying fast enough, it can leave the gravitational pull of the earth.

    But this is not what happened. No electrons were emitted when the frequency of the light was below a certain minimum frequency. The explanation Einstein came up with is that the electrons can only take up energy in packets or 'quanta' of energy. If the energy in the packet (related to the frequency) is not sufficient, the electron sends the packet on its way again. If the energy is sufficient, the electron is ejected.

    Apparently, light, which had always been thought of as waves, sometimes behaved as particles.

    Particles as waves

    Perhaps even stranger is that the reverse is also true. Objects that we think of as particles, sometimes behave as waves.

    When you throw a stone in a pond, it will generate a circular wave that moves outward from where the stone hit the water. When the wave reaches a small opening in a wall, it will once again behave as a 'point source', and start a circular wave from that point onwards. This effect is called diffraction.

    You can see this for yourself when you look through the narrow opening between two fingers. As you move them closer together, the edges become blurry because the light is diffracted more and more strongly around the edges. This is also an illustration of the wave behavior of light.

    The remarkable finding is that the same thing happens for particles like electrons, and even for billiard balls! The more energetic or the heavier the particle, the weaker the effect. This means that for an object we can actually see, the effect is too small to be observed.

    Probability waves

    We are left with a confusing position: what we think of as particles sometimes act like waves, and what we think of as waves sometimes act like particles. Erwin Schroedinger found the equation that determines the evolution of these quantum waves, but it was unclear what it actually meant. Then, Max Born proposed in 1926 that the waves are, in fact, probability waves. The strength of the quantum wave at any point indicates how likely it is that the quantum particle is located there. We can observe a quantum of light or an electron when it makes a mark on a screen.

    The single mystery

    When you throw two stones in a pond at the same time, right next to each other, the two waves they produce will interfere. In some places, the waves will reinforce each other; in others they will cancel out.

    The same thing happens when you send laser light through two narrow slits onto a screen. Where the waves reinforce each other, the image on the screen will be bright, where the waves cancel out, the screen will be dark, with varying degrees of brightness in between. This pattern is called an interference pattern.

    The story doesn't end there, however. Quantum physics wouldn't be considered so strange if some weird effects did not occur. When you close off one of the slits, the interference pattern disappears: there is - after all - only one wave.

    Light behaves as a particle when it hits the screen and leaves a bright mark there. Now, since light can also behave as particles, we should be able to measure through which of the two slits the light particle or photon travels on its way to the screen. When you put a device at one of the slits that gives a signal when a photon passes through it, we encounter the first mystery of quantum physics: the interference pattern disappears! Apparently, light can't act as a particle and as a wave at the same time.

    Or can it? Say we want to see how one single light quantum or photon behaves. We send the photons through the slits one at a time, leaving both slits open, and not measuring through which one the photon travels. Amazingly, after a while, we still see the same interference pattern appearing! If we look which slit the photons pass through, the interference pattern disappears once again. It looks like the one particle is traveling through both slits at the same time!

    Parallel universes

    In his book, The Fabric of Reality, dr. David Deutsch puts forward a convincing argument that the deflection of the light is caused by particles we cannot see. We can't see those particles because they live in parallel universes. The single photon moving through the slits is pushed around by its neighbors in nearby universes, and it helps push around its own neighbors. When it seems the photon is moving through both slits at the same time, what is happening is that the photon is moving through one of the two in our universe, and some counterparts are moving through the other in their universe.

    This isn't just true for light. All particles behave like waves. In other words, for every possible situation, there is a universe or world where that possibility is 'actualized'. This point of view has come to be known as the 'many-worlds' interpretation of quantum mechanics.

    Schroedinger's Cat

    To illustrate this further, Schroedinger came up with a thought experiment involving his cat. He set up an experiment in which a geiger counter (measuring radioactive decay) has exactly a 50% chance of firing. If it fires, then poison is released, which his cat will then drink with rather unfortunate consequences.

    The important thing is that all this happens in a box. We can't see what is going on inside the box. As long as we haven't looked in the box, it is equally likely that the cat is dead or alive. With our knowledge, we can't distinguish between the two universes: one where the cat is dead, the other where it is alive. It is only when we look that one or the other is chosen.

    Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle

    We also see that the mere act of observing has an effect. We saw earlier that when we look through which of the two slits the particle passes, we get a different result from when we don't look.

    The reason is found in the famous Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle. It is easily derived from the mathematical equations. In its most common form, it says that there is a limit to how precise we can measure the position and the momentum (mass times velocity) of a particle at the same time. There is an inherent uncertainty in Nature about "what will happen next," and in the 3/4 century since the discovery of this principle by Heisenberg, all efforts to get around this uncertainty have failed.

    So it isn't simply that our measurement changes the particle in some way. It is our knowledge of the world that determines what can happen. Apparently, Nature only allows us to know so much about itself. By deciding what we want to know, we as observers have a central role in determining the world's future.

    Changing the past from the present

    In the previous section, we saw how the choice of what one wants to measure in an experiment plays a central role in determining what happens. With a variation of the two-slit experiment, we can go even further, and show that a decision in the present can change or determine what happened in the past. The setup of this "delayed choice" experiment is depicted in figure 2 below:

    Setup of the delayed choice experiment
    Figure 2: Setup of the delayed choice experiment

    The laser fires photons at a semi-penetrating mirror. Half the light goes through, half is reflected. The light beam is split in much the same way as it would be when it had to go through the two slits at the same time in the previous experiment. Again, because of the slightly different distances traveled, we get an interference pattern at the detector. The pattern remains when we send one photon at a time. The mirrors play the role of the slits. Removing a mirror is equivalent to closing a slit: the interference pattern disappears. When we put a detector at position X to see which of the two paths a particle takes, the interference pattern also disappears.

    We come to the essence of this experiment when we put a device at position X that only decides at the last moment whether it will measure the passing of a particle. This choice has to be made so fast that the light must have already passed the half-penetrating mirror, and so part of the light wave is already underway in the other direction as well.

    So what happens? As expected, the interference pattern disappears. This means, however, that the light wave that was already underway in the other direction must have been stopped in its tracks. In other words: the past has been changed by a decision in the present .

    Summary: The cosmology of physics

    What do these experiments tell us about the nature of physical reality? We see a universe with an inherent uncertainty about what will happen next. Every one of these possibilities is real and is explored. Moreover, this exploration starts from the Now point of the observer. All places and times exist at once. We experience reality as the flashlight of our consciousness points in different directions. As one of the founders of quantum mechanics, Erwin Schrödinger, put it:

    "For eternally and always there is only now, one and the same now; the present is the only thing that has no end."

    It follows that our experience in the physical world is not primarily the result of our interaction with some 'world machine'. Rather, it is directed by our own choices. As another pioneer, Niels Bohr, said:

    "Causality may be considered as a mode of perception by which we reduce our sense impressions to order."

    The observer plays the central role in determining what happens. In the remainder of this paper, we will turn our attention to consciousness to learn more about how it interacts with the physical world.

    Science and Consciousness

  • Consciousness and space-time
  • Conscious perception
  • Experimenter bias
  • To understand the entire Kosmos, including our thoughts, emotions, and everything that is thinkable or 'conceivably conceivable', we need to take a look at the consciousness side as well. We will look at investigations into the nature of interactions between consciousness and machines, and also at the nature of perception.

    Consciousness and space-time

    The Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research project was established in 1979. It evolved from a project proposed by an undergraduate student in electronics to build a device to test low-level psychokinetic effects. Over the next two decades, many thousands of experiments were conducted, and the program was expanded to include other types of psychic phenomena.

    The experiments run roughly as follows. An electronic device called a 'Random Event Generator' generates either a + or a -. The device is tuned so that there is a chance of 50% either way. An electronic counter keeps track of the number of +'s en -'s in a given span of time. The test subject is then asked to try to influence the device in either direction. The correlations between the stated intent of the subject and the output of the device are then studied using thorough statistical methods.

    The exact details of the analysis would lead us too far. We will simply list some of the major conclusions of the research.

    • There is a small but statistically very significant effect of the subject's intention on the output.

    • The effect is independent of physical distance, suggesting that the connection is not physical in the traditional sense. All known forms of radiation become weaker at large distances.

    • The effect is independent of time. When subjects were asked to influence the device at a time in the future or in the past, similar results were obtained.

    • The effect is dependent on the subject. Some people score better than others across the board.

    • The combined efforts of several people produce more significant effects, especially when there is an emotional bond between them.

    • The environment has a definite influence. The effects increase at intimate meetings, during rituals and theatre performances, in sacred places...

    These findings confirm many of the results of our physics experiments. Consciousness does have an influence on physical matter. Intentions in the present can influence events in both the future and the past. Finally, spatial separation is not a prohibiting factor in the activities of consciousness.

    Conscious perception

    In another class of studies at Princeton, the ability of subjects to acquire information about spatially and temporally remote geographical targets, otherwise inaccessible by any known sensory means, has been thoroughly demonstrated over several hundred carefully conducted experiments.

    One participant, the "agent", to be stationed at a randomly selected location at a given time, and there to observe and record impressions of the details and ambience of the scene. A second participant, the "percipient", located far from the scene and with no prior information about it, tries to sense its composition and character and to report these in a similar format to the agent's description.

    As before, we will simply list the most important results.

    • There is a significant degree of correlation between the accounts bu percipient and agent of the scene, both in generalities and in details.

    • The results are independent of physical distance. Whether the scene was 10 or 10,000 miles away doesn't make a difference.

    • The results are independent of time.

    • As before, some people get better results than others.

    • The method is not always precise. Sometimes, events that occurred just before or after the designated time period are observed.

    A variation of this experiment is to let the agent pick an object as a target and put it in a special place. The percipient is then to identify the object. Dozens of informal experiments show that:

    • A completely accurate description is relatively rare. Most often, certain essential properties of the object are correctly perceived, although they may not be sufficient to identify the target..

    • The impressions are often symbolic or associative rather than literal. For example, an impression of a 'copper disk' had nothing to do with the target: a carved crystal. However, the crystal was a gift from a close friend, who went by the name 'CopperPenny'.

    • The previous example also shows that emotional connections are important.

    Experimenter Bias

    The so-called "experimenter effect" describes the observation that different experimenters, using similar methodologies with no detectable differences, may arrive at different experimental outcomes.

    In 1997, Richard Wiseman, a skeptic, and Marilyn Schiltz, a 'believer' in psychic phenomena, worked together on a remarkable experiment.

    Schlitz had designed a rigorous randomized trial evaluating whether subjects could detect another person staring at them from a distance (over a closed-circuit television system). The study yielded statistically significant positive results. When the skeptical Richard Wiseman failed to replicate the results, he invited her to England to repeat the experiment along with him in two separate but equal trials using the same subjects and the same equipment, and once again she got positive results and he got negative ones.

    This is only one study, but it nevertheless points to an intriguing possibility, namely that the beliefs, intentions, and expectations of an experimenter may play an active role in shaping experimental outcomes. This is in stark contrast to the dominant scientific model of which explicitly has the absence of the influence of experimenter bias as one of the corner stones of its experimental methods.

    Consciousness from within

    It is impossible to give an overview of the immense variety of traditions and experiences. We will ourselves to two types of illustrations. First, we will discuss some phenomena that come back time and again in various forms in many different traditions. We will return to many of these phenomena in the fifth class, when we will point out where they fit in the Playground of Consciousness. We will also briefly look at the experiences of some individuals that are very much in line with our conclusions from the previous two sections.

    Conscious Experiences

    Mythology

    Every culture has its own mythology, a world beyond this one of beings, physical or non-physical, that still have an influence on daily life. The Greek gods lived on the Olympos mountain. Christianity has a world of Angels. Modern mythologies talk about the Cosmic Hierarchy, the Ashtar Command, Ascended Masters, the Keepers of the Akashic Records...

    Often the consistency of these mythologies across different sources is quite remarkable. We also often find the same theme recurring in completely different cultures. Some figures appear in many cultures under different guises. One example is the Egyptian Toth, who is identified with the Greek Hermes, Roman Mercurius, and Quetzalcoatl in Mayan mythology as the messenger of the gods, the bringer of civilization.

    What is the source of these stories? Both the similarities and the differences are significant. Because of the similarities, it cannot be denied that these mythologies are to some degree valid. Their differences and mutual contradictions show that none of them can be absolutely valid.

    Channeling

    The Bible has many accounts of God speaking through prophets. In modern times, this would be called channeling. A person The phenomenon has received more widespread attention in recent decades. Last century, when spiritualism took root in Western Europe and the United States, channelers were called mediums. The oracles at Delphi were almost undoubtedly channelers, as were many others in the service of a wide variety of deities throughout time and history.

    Basically, channeling is the process of communicating with entities through non-physical means. The channel herself will usually be in an altered state of consciousness, and may be aware of what is being said to varying degrees. Sometimes, the voice and disposition of the channel can change dramatically when the other entity is speaking.

    Channeling has come to mean communicating with entities who have either inhabited a body but now don't or who claim to have never inhabited a body. It is possible to channel someone who is currently alive, though that isn't generally what people mean when they speak of channeling.

    This subject is intimately connected with the previous one. Most often, the entities that 'come through' are players in the mythology of the channel. To what degree are these channeled entities truly who they claim to be? To what extent are they products of the channel's culture or personal imagination?

    Cosmic consciousness

    In his classic book with the same title, originally published in 1902, Richard Bucke writes that "there is a state of consciousness ('cosmic consciousness') which is far removed from everyday experience, where the person perceives a new kind of reality where the boundary between subject and object does not exist and is meaningless." He goes on:

    “Like a flash there is presented to [a person’s] consciousness a clear conception (a vision) in outline of the meaning and drift of the universe . . . He sees and knows that the cosmos . . . is in fact . . . in very truth a living presence. He sees that instead of men being, as it were, patches of life scattered through an infinite sea of non-living substance, they are in reality specks of relative death in an infinite ocean of life. He sees that the life which is in man is as immortal as God is; that the universe is so built and ordered that without any peradventure all things work together for the good of each and all; that the foundation principle of the world is what we call love, and that the happiness of every individual is in the long run absolutely certain.&rdquo

    He found this core vision in the experiences of many mystics throughout the ages. Modern accounts also speak of the "interconnectedness of all life," of "knowing every thought, every idea that ever was and ever will be."

    These experiences hint at the potential of consciousness to hold infinite amounts of information within its awareness. These experiences are open to anyone, which means that this ability to expand one's awareness may be a universal property of consciousness.

    Synchronicity

    Also known as meaningful coincidences, synchronicities abound once you begin to notice them. Probably the most famous example was given by Carl Jung. While he was working with a patient, a 'scarab' came up as a metaphor for the transformation this person was undergoing. At that same moment, a large beetle came flying in through the window. This greatly reinforced the power of the idea of transformation.

    The pervasiveness of synchronicities suggests connections within or underlying our experience of which we are not consciously aware.

    Dreams, lucid dreams, and Out Of Body experiences

    We spend about 1/3 to 1/4 of our lives asleep. Research has shown that, in addition to the obvious physical rest and regeneration, dreams are just as essential. Experiments with sleep deprivation have shown that people will begin dreaming almost instantly after several days without sleep.

    In her book, "Dreaming myself, dreaming a town," Susan Watkins recounts the startling, interwoven fabric of nighttime dreams and daytime events, precognitions, and coincidences in her home town in upstate New York. T his informal investigation into the dream life of a small town shows that dreaming and waking reality are intimately connected. It would even seem that much of the waking drama has its source in the shared dream activity of the inhabitants.

    On the other hand, people who keep dream journals often find that there dream experiences have an independent reality of their own. The same familiar people and places come back again and again over many years, even though this 'dream world' exists nowhere in the dreamer's waking reality.

    When an ordinary dream becomes lucid, the dream world feels as tangible and real as the waking reality. The dreamer knows he is dreaming. The dreamer identifies himself as his waking self, with its thoughts and memories. There is one major difference from ordinary reality, however, in that the laws of physics may be violated almost at will. For example, in a lucid dream, you can fly, make objects appear or disappear with ease.

    The sense of a non-physical reality, is even more striking in lucid dreams and out-of-body experiences. Here, a peron often finds himself in a world which feels very real, vivid and stable, yet is clearly not our daytime physical world. Unlike in lucid dreams, the dreamer may not have full control over his experience. There is more of an order that appears to be imposed from the 'outside,' just as the laws of physics appear to impose an order.

    It must be said that these two properties of dreams: their intimate connection to our waking life and the independent reality of the worlds in which they take place, are by no means contradictory.

    Modern Mystics

    Michael J. Roads

    Michael J. Roads is the Australian author of "Into a Timeless Realm." In this book, tells us about his journeys into other realms. He looks into different alternative futures for planet Earth. One where 'scientism' and Mankind's self-centered persuit of technology are taken to the extreme, resulting in an 'empty' world, devoid of joy and feelings of (comm)unity. The other where Man uses technology for the benefit of all life, a happy, vibrant world where all life is sacred and respected. Their technology is far beyond anything we know today.

    He also looks back into the past, at different races of humanoids. Again, his vision includes several alternative pasts. The scenes he witnesses are not merely dreams. These are real places, real people. He also ventures into entirely different worlds. Some appear to have the same physical laws as our own universe.

    Here we find a direct experience of the parallel worlds we brought up in our discussion of quantum physics. Some of the worlds showed a much higher degree of telepathy and interconnectedness between all species than we see today, once again hinting at the inherent potential of human consciousness to master much greater complexity.

    Seth / Jane Roberts

    Jane Roberts deserves the title of pioneer of modern channeling. From 1963 until her death in 1984, she and her husband Robert Butts recorded many hundreds of channelings from an "energy personality essence" they called Seth. Together, they wrote more than a dozen books filled with metaphysical material. It would be impossible to summarize all this material in a few paragraphs. I will simply say that the theories presented in these books come closest to what is being presented in this course.

    "Seth Speaks: the Eternal Validity of the Soul" was the first real 'Seth' book and gives a broad overview of what was to come later. "The Nature of Personal Reality" was in many ways a much more practical book, aimed at those who wanted to apply his ideas in their daily lives.

    Part 2: Expanding the Playground

    We will talk about patterns as the fundamental components of the information cosmos, how they interact and are transformed through resonance, and how consciousness is the active agent in this process.

    We will then bring this abstract theoretical framework into the world of matter. We will discuss a very general model of how consciousness uses different types of patterns to create matter. We will show how resonance helps organize the infinite choice of possible worlds.

    Beyond the Whole

    Science works by building models of reality using 'ideal' forms. Every real-world object is stripped down to its "bare essence" to make it conform to an ideal form in the model. In this introductory article for this week, I will argue that much can be gained by looking at concepts in an expansive rather than a reductive fashion. The true essence of an object lies in the infinite variety of its expressions, the very aspect western science strips away.

    Patterns and Consciousness

    The 'stuff' of the Kosmos, that which always has been, is, and will be, is information. We describe how you can look at everything as an information pattern or simply a pattern. We show why the expansive use of concepts proposed in the first section makes sense.

    Consciousness then enters the picture as the action of the Kosmos. Consciousness has one function: to transform and organize information into new patterns.

    Consciousness on the Physical Plane

    Where the previous section was very theoretical, this last section is very practical. We will look at our own consciousness and how it uses different patterns to form physical reality. This has far-reaching implications.

    Beyond the Whole

  • The ways of science
  • No one thinks like Plato
  • Beyond the whole
  • The Ways of Science

    Scientists have different opinions on what the purpose of science is. A category known as instrumentalists believe science is simply a useful tool to make predictions. No one can claim to truly understand the nature of anything. The best we can do is to build models and make predictions. If the predictions turn out right, they are happy.

    Most engineers use science in this practical way: they are satisfied if the bridge they have designed doesn't collapse. Most scientists want more: they want to understand the world.

    Reductionism is a way of understanding reality in terms of ever-smaller basic building blocks. An example of this method is the theory of the structure of molecules. The fact that a water molecule is made up of one oxygen atom and two hydrogen atoms can be explained in terms of the properties of the 'orbits' of the electrons of the atoms.

    Holistic or 'systems' approaches look at how parts work together to form wholes and pay particular attention to the 'emergent' properties that only appear on the level of the whole. An example of an emergent property is the speed of a car. It doesn't make much sense to speak of the speed of the windscreen or the screws or the steering wheel. This property depends on the whole car.

    Unfortunately, most holistic approaches are little more than an acknowledgement of the fact that most wholes are more than the sum of their parts. They are little more than adornments of reductionism: you can still separate the whole nicely into its parts, even though you will lose some functionality when you do so. Few people have come close to taking into account the 'unbroken wholeness' that is suggested by both quantum physics and experiences of cosmic consciousness.

    More recently we have seen the arrival of a 'holographic' paradigm. Here, every part contains a holographic image of the whole with which it is inextricably linked. This is indeed a nice metaphor to illustrate the unbroken wholeness, but it is a long way from explaining how this would actually work. David Bohm probably made the best effort. He was a man far ahead of his time. His concepts of order have not been widely appreciated to their full depth. He could have achieved a lot more had he not become entangled in his own particular interpretation of quantum mechanics.

    Even in the most whole theories, however, we find a type of reductionism that is consistently overlooked and accepted without question.

    No one thinks like Plato

    Greek philosophy is widely regarded as the original basis from which much of today's science has evolved. One of the most influential concepts has been Plato's world of ideas or forms. Plato divided the Kosmos up into two worlds. One, the visible world, is the world of our experience, what we see and hear. It is a world of change and uncertainty. The other, the intelligible world, contains the eternal (ideal) 'forms' or 'ideas' of things.

    This world of ideas is the primary world. The products of our reasoning can be found in it. The visible world is merely the imperfect and ever-changing manifestation of the world of ideas.

    This relationship between the world of ideas and the world of experience has been the blueprint for the basic scientific method. Science builds models of reality in terms of objects from the world of ideas. These objects are idealizations of what we find in the world of experience.

    This also means that objects in the real world are reduced to relatively flat concepts in the theory. The role or function of an object in the theory is laid out in a very specific definition within the model, and subject only to the dynamics and interactions allowed by the model.

    Definitions are necessarily generalizations. They reduce any object to its 'essence.' Particles don't have identity in quantum physics. You can substitute one electron for another and nothing will change. The 'humans' used in models of disease don't have names. They don't have thoughts of feelings. They have only those properties which are needed to make the model work.

    In our normal, everyday lives, we don't think in terms of idealized forms. When I ask you to think about the concept of 'a horse,' most likely you will first have an image of some horse in your mind, or a sound, or some memory. You may see or think of some kind of dictionary definition ("a large solid-hoofed herbivorous mammal (Equus caballus, family Equidae, the horse family) domesticated since a prehistoric period and used as a beast of burden, a draft animal, or for riding" - from Merriam-Webster's Online) but it is very unlikely.

    Beyond the whole

    This in some ways unnatural way of thinking, usually called "rational thought" lies at the root of why science and spirituality appear to be two entirely different qualities of being. The idealizations used in science cut away all the specifics and the details of an object. But in doing so, they cut away what may be the real essence of any concept: the enormous, infinite variety and diversity of its expressions.

    The dominant paradigm in Western science has always been materialism - the notion that everything, including our thoughts and our consciousness, has its basis in the material world. Its counterpart idealism (or idea-ism), which states that everything, including the material world, has its basis in mental phenomena or consciousness, has had much less attention. At best, the mental was put on an equal footing with the material in some form of dualism.

    The main reason idealism has had such a hard time is that our idea of an idea has been very limited. Ideas are thought of as simple things: a book, a horse, a thought, a human being... In the rational mode of thinking, all these ideas are like the faded image of an old painting - the richness of its colors, its depth, its vitality have faded away long ago. Labels have taken the place of the original, and were then mistaken for the original.

    What I propose is a restoration of ideas and concepts in our thinking to their original richness. When you think of a horse, you think of all its possible variations. You may well see the image change continuously before your inner eyes, morphing from one form to another, from one color to another. You may see a horse running free in nature, resting in a stable, or jumping fences. You may see the rider wearing different outfits. You may see the horse in battle, or working the land. All these images are a part of your concept of a horse.

    I propose an end to the dualism between the world of eternal forms and the real world. The world of experience is not made up of imperfect manifestations of 'perfect' ideas. The ideas are all their manifestations, in all possible worlds, in all possible situations, in all possible relationships, in all possible variations.

    'Nailness' is as much about being "a slender usually pointed and headed fastener designed to be pounded in" as with being a nail in your coffin, or the feeling of being pounded by a hammer, the cursing of the carpenter hitting his finger instead of the nail, the bed it helps hold together on which two people make love, and even all those situations where someone said something so much to the point that "they hit the nail on the head."

    This expanded idea of an idea expresses the "unbroken wholeness" that the holographic metaphor tries to capture. You favorite cup is forever connected with the cup Socrates drank his poison from, or that cup you broke as a child which made your mother angry. It is for ever connected to someone in the wilderness 'cupping' their hands to drink water from the river - any time, anywhere. They are all directly connected as expressions of the 'idea' of a cup.

    They are all connected to... the Holy Grail!

    Patterns and Consciousness

  • Introduction
  • Patterns
  • Thoughts and ideas as patterns
  • Physical reality as a pattern
  • The Role of Consciousness
  • Transforming patterns
  • Resonance
  • Specialization
  • Systems of reality
  • Introduction

    With the physical and experiental foundations laid out in the first class, we can now turn to the basic mechanisms of the information Kosmos. The first part of this week's material introduced an expanded notion of a 'concept.' Here we will look at patterns as the basic building blocks of everything. This will lead us naturally to the expanded view of concepts introduced earlier.

    It will become clear that consciousness has a very clear role: that of organzing patterns and transforming and combining them to form new ones. We will look briefly at several different kinds of transformation, including resonance, specialization, and expression.In part three, we will turn once again to our own personal experience, and see how these two fundamental concepts translate into our daily lives.

    Patterns

    Cosmology is the study of every-thing - from physical objects to thought and emotions, stock quotes and interest rates, numbers, universes, parts and wholes... When we want to talk about every-thing in a meaningful way, we need a term that is not only general enough, but also rich enough to give some indication of the interconnectedness of all 'things'.

    The term we need is 'pattern'. Merriam-Webster's online dictionary gives no less than 12 distinct meanings for 'pattern', and they all apply.

    Let's take a look at some very simply type of patterns. Figure 1a below shows a series of dots on a line. That's a pattern. Figure 1b shows another pattern. In this case, we have marked the places where a dot is not present by an X. A pattern is defined by the points where there is or isn't a dot. If we want to compare patterns or combine them, we will need some common, underlying structure. In this example, it is a series of six points on a line. This underlying structure is really a part of the pattern.


    Figure 1: Some simple patterns

    We can build more complicated patterns by allowing more options for every point. For example, we can allow different colors (Figure 1c). Or we can make the underlying structure richer by using a two-dimensional grid (Figure 1d). The image on your computer screen is such a two-dimensional pattern of dots of different colors. It is easy to see how we can extend this kind of pattern to three-dimensional images. The physical universe is, in fact, such a pattern, one of tremendous complexity. Dream images and other imaginary scenes are similar patterns.

    In figure 1e, we have made things more complicated again by limiting the underlying pattern or structure to a subset of the previous grid. You can compare this to taking a photo of a horse, and cutting away everything in the picture except the horse itself. It is irrelevant what else was in the picture. You don't even care that the image came from a picture at all. All you are interested in, is the horse.

    In these examples, we have made reference several times to 'the underlying structure of the pattern'. It is important to note that these structures, and any structures in general, are indeed patterns also.

    We can combine patterns in various ways. Figure 1d is a simple combination of 1a and 1b. Figure 1e is a different type of combination of figure 1d and the underlying structure (grid), which is a pattern of its own.

    An important mechanism for combining patterns is shown in figure 2. Starting from two similar patterns, (a) and (b) and all patterns in between, we can create a new pattern (c) by combining them all. When we use this mechanism, we always end up with a pattern of a higher order or dimension than the ones we started out with. In this case, we went from one-dimensional lines to a two-dimensional shape. We can retrieve the one-dimensional patterns by taking a cross-section of the two-dimensional pattern.


    Figure 2: Combining patterns

    For a further example of this mechanism, we go back to the horse we cut out of the photo. When we combine all images of horses from photos, drawings, dreams and real life, we get an almost infinite-dimensional 'pattern' of what a horse looks like. If we leave out everything except the physical shape, what we have here, is the concept, the idea of what a horse looks like.

    We can also go in the other direction, and derive patterns (a) and (b) in figure 2 from pattern (c). (a) and (b) are sub-patterns of (c). (c) also has many other possible sub-patterns. In fact, there are infinitely many. We will refer to sub-patterns as specializations or expressions of the larger pattern.

    An important attribute of patterns we haven't discussed yet is intensity. Intensity plays an important role in combined patterns. In figure 2(c) all sub-patterns that make up the combined pattern have the same intensity. But it is easy to imagine the lines fading as they move further apart. This would represent the idea that the pattern is more intense the closer the two points are together.

    Starting from the most rudimentary patterns, we arrive very quickly at infinitely complex and varied patterns. Now that we have looked at the basic properties of patterns, including some ways to combine them into new ones, we can turn to our own experience again, and see how our own thoughts, ideas, and realities are also different kinds of patterns.

    In fact, literally everything that exists is a pattern. Not only that, but every possible, concievable and concievably concievable pattern exists. All these patterns combined form the complete Playground of Consciousness.

    Concepts, thoughts and ideas as patterns

    In the first paper for this class, we argued for the redefinition of definitions, an expansive view of concepts. The essence of a concept lies in the infinite variety of its expressions, we said.

    In the remainder of this text, we will be dealing primarily with this kind of rather complicated looking, infinite-dimensional pattern like the idea of "what a horse looks like" from the previous paragraph. These patterns are indeed very complex. But keep in mind that we all work with these patterns every day effortlessly! We think in terms of these concepts as wholes, not as the millions of individual patterns that make up the concept.

    If I ask you to picture what a horse looks like, you will most likely 'see' an image of some horse. The horse may change shape or color. I can ask you to make it taller or smaller, to make it grey or brown or black, to make its tail a bit longer. This is all effortless. It is like your mind travels through the concept and in every moment shows you an 'expression' (sub-pattern) of your full pattern of what a horse looks like.

    Different people have different ideas about what a horse looks like. No two people will have the exact same concept of a horse. Even if the individual 'images' are the same, their intensity within the combined pattern will vary. When two pet owners are talking, the pattern of their own pet will be very intense in their concept of a pet.

    A bit earlier on, we mentioned how structures are also patterns. Take 'a tree' as an example. A physical tree starts out with a trunk with side branches, which have side branches, and so on, possibly ending in leaves. A tree as a structure is more general, the essence being the hierarchical relationship between one branch and its sub-branches. The organization chart of a company has a tree structure: every person in the chart acts as the supervisor of another person. There are also family trees, and more abstract trees used in computing. The 'pattern' of a tree structure, then, would consist of all possible patterns of trees we have just described. The pattern of any structure would be the combination of all possible patterns that have that structure. The simplest structures are relationships: they involve just two patterns, for example: parent and child.

    The importance of this becomes obvious when we begin to combine patterns. We'll start with the horse again. 'Whiteness' would be another such concept. The pattern for 'whiteness' would be the collection of all possible white 'things', including snow, milk, white walls, white furniture, white clothes, and... white horses. When we combine these two concepts, whiteness and a horse, we get a 'white horse'. The pattern for a white horse would be the combination of all patterns that are part of both the pattern for white and the pattern for a horse.

    When we build more complex combinations, the way in which we combine them, the structure and the relationships between the parts, become increasingly more important. A family is a collection of persons that have 'partner' and 'parent-child' relationships between them.

    Events are, from our point of view, patterns that are based on a structure called 'time'.

    We have physical structures, biological structures, social economic, political structures... all the things that are within the mushroom cloud are patterns. As we get nearer the surface, the patterns become more and more specific.

    Until we reach physical reality.

    Physical reality as a pattern

    Physical reality is the pattern of what we know about physical reality. Quantum physics is the science that describes what we know and what happens to it within a time structure. The wave function of quantum physics is a representation of the pattern of physical reality.

    Physical reality is a 'combined' pattern like a horse or a tree structure. We can think of any one singular world, with fixed positions and speeds for every particle as a basic pattern. We combine many of these patterns to create our own physical reality, our own combined pattern. The Heisenberg uncertainty principle mentioned in the previous paper forces us to do this. The 'many-worlds' concept we used there becomes the 'many-singular worlds' concept.

    When we talk about what we know about the world, we can only do this from our personal point of view. In particular, much of what we know comes from the information we receive through our 5 physical senses. Our senses define attributes of our reality that are relatively 'fixed'. The door as you see it, is exactly 6'8" high. The walls you see are precisely that color, etc.

    A great deal of our personal physical reality is not specified. You may not know how many people there are in the room next to yours. You don't know who is stuck in the traffic jams on the highway. You don't know what is happening in most places on this planet.

    What we know about the world, in the quantum physical sense, is almost completely limited to the observations of our 5 senses.

    The Role of Consciousness

    Consciousness hasn't escaped the reductionist drive of Western science to explain everything in terms of simpler parts. At first, the powerful position of the church prohibited the denial of spirit. However, during the past three centuries, science has gradually eliminated any role and eventually any consideration of consciousness in its picture of the Kosmos.

    The developments in theoretical physics of the early 20th century have turned out to be a turning point. Many of the pioneers of quantum theory recognized that this new theory would have profound implications for the way we look at human consciousness.

    The pattern that is emerging is that consciousness is a fundamental and basic aspect of the Kosmos. Its main action is one of organizing information into the most diverse forms and transforming patterns into new ones. The example most familiar to us is the human mind. There are few limitations, if any, to what the human mind can create: from computer programs that contain millions of lines of code to abstract mathematical concepts to grand scenes and landscapes. Some of these patterns are easily brought into physical form. Others are more difficult to produce - as any artist or programmer will testify. The fundamental process is the same in all cases, however.

    We said earlier that every possible pattern exists. Different classes of patterns take different forms of consciousness to organize and play with them. Consciousness itself is a pattern of organization. Just like you can have a floor made of blue tiles, grey, yellow, red or green ones, you can have different consciousnesses using the same shape of tile with different colors, or tiles of the same color in different shapes.

    The human personality is a particular type of consciousness. We will look at its structure in the third part. For now, let us look at some basic types of pattern transformations.

    Resonance

    When a child plays on a swing, often the aim is to go as high as possible. This is achieved by applying the right amount of force at the right time, again and again, so the swinging movement is amplified every time. This effect is called resonance.

    Another example is a radio receiver. By adjusting the position of some electronic parts, the electrical circuits pick up one narrow range of frequencies out of a whole series, and amplify the signal into audible sounds.

    Resonance is a phenomenon where one thing vibrates in sympathy with another, because of a similarity or mutual harmonic characteristic. When we translate this into our terminology of patterns, we find that resonance is the reinforcement of shared sub-patterns. We conjure up a large pattern by exciting a part.

    Resonance is the process that is the basis of practically all interactions between patterns.

    When I describe quite a large animal with four legs, domesticated, people ride on its back... you will quickly recognize this as 'a horse'. The reason is that the combination of the concepts of the attributes I listed, all work together and resonate with each other to produce your concept of a horse in your mind. You could go on to list other attributes of horses - it is furry - or list specific examples - Bukephalos, Alexander the Great's horse. These extensions aren't part of the original list of clues I gave, but they are excited by them, through resonance.

    Another aspect of resonance is that the two patterns will become more similar. The Earth and Moon are a good example. It is well known that the Moon always has the same side facing the Earth. This, too, is a resonance effect. In fact, the Earth's rotation about its axis is slowing down and will eventually also be in synch with the Moon's monthly rotation. In other words, resonating patterns influence each other, and have a tendency to become more alike.

    When we communicate, the mechanism at work is resonance. When person A mentally sends a thought of a horse, and person B picks it up, it will be the resonance between the two patterns that excites the image of a horse in B's mind. The sent pattern will resonate with the pattern of his total awareness, and will bring to the forefront a version of his complete pattern of a horse. Through the resonance inherent in communicationn, both of the participants' patterns of a horse will change.

    The intensity of a pattern or a sub-pattern within a larger pattern is important when talking about resonance. The more intense pattern, carrying more energy, will be affected less by the interaction than the weaker pattern, which may be changed beyond recognition.

    Specialization

    Specialization is a process by which a large pattern is reduced to fit some organizational framework. The framework itself is, of course, a pattern by itself. It is very much analogous to the common usage of the word. With the vast amount of knowledge today, it is no longer possible for a single person to know everything there is to know. Through specialization, a person is able to explore a particular area of knowledge more deeply.

    Perhaps the most direct example of how consciousness uses specialization is found in art. Art is expression of ideas. The particular craft or technique chosen by the artist is a kind of specialization. A painter may further decide to explore landscapes with only a limited range of colors, like blue and purple. Another artist may choose different colors. In different worlds, the same artist may explore different combinations of colors or techniques, or subjects.

    The goal of the artist is to explore her own creativity within the self-imposed limits of the specialization she has chosen in any particular moment.

    Systems of reality

    A system of reality or plane is an area of the playground of consciousness with patterns of organization that allow a great deal of freedom. The organizational patterns of the physical system we live in are expressed in the laws of nature or natural law.

    There is actually another type of natural law. There are properties of information patterns and consciousness that are universal. These laws take on a particular form when they are combined with the chosen natural laws of the plane. These universal 'laws' and their translation in the physical system will be the topic of the sixth and final essay.

    In the third and final part of this week's material, we will look at the system of physical reality, its organizational patterns, and the structure of the human personality.

    Consciousness on the Physical Plane

  • The Patterns of the Physical Plane
  • The Patterns of the Human Personality
  • Human Consciousness in Action
  • It is now time to see how the theoretical framework we built in the previous section can be applied to our own corner of the Playground: the physical plane. In the traditional model, fundamental laws describe the behavior of elementary particles, which evolve into atoms, molecules, cells, organisms, human beings, and even into culture. In our model, this order is more or less reversed. The organization of this section reflects this new order.

    The Patterns of the Physical Plane

    [To be completed.]

    The Patterns of the Human Personality

    When you want to walk to another room, you first imagine doing in so, o you imagine yourself in the other room, and then perform the action to actualize this situation. Whatever we consciously choose to do, we do in this way. What is happening here in terms of patterns?

    Your present physical reality is a pattern. We discussed it earlier. Your intended future reality is also a pattern. You want to be in that particular room, but you don't much care if it takes you 15 or 16 steps, and neither does it interest you what exactly is going on in the rest of the world. The pattern of your intention is fairly narrow but quite intense.

    From the moment you have formed your intention, it will begin to resonate with your physical reality pattern. Because it is quite intense, your physical reality will change to a situation which conforms to your intention. This will apply principally to the limited extent of your intention, although some effect on the rest of your reality is inevitable. It is as if your intention acts as an attractive force on your reality to make it fit.

    Now, there are many ways of moving from one room to the next. One is to just float through the walls. Another is to walk through the door. Most likely, you will choose to walk through the door. The reason is that your reality also resonates with another pattern: the belief that to get from one room to the other, you need to use the door. Your physical reality needs to be in resonance with your belief, and so you will only allow realities that are allowed by your belief.

    Emotions are very basic patterns that permeate our reality patterns. We generally associate certain colors with certain emotions. When you look at different paintings, the artist has often used a different basic set of colors for each, and the paintings may evoke a different feeling or 'atmosphere' - another word that points to the omni-presence of feelings.

    Because emotions are so basic and simple, they can excite all kinds of patterns. In particular, they can intensify intentions, realities, and other patterns through their interaction with them. When an intention is coupled with strong emotions, its actualization is accelerated.

    Human Consciousness in Action

    [To be completed.]

    Part 3: The Dynamics of Creation

    We will discuss the creative tension between the desire to experience within certain boundaries, and the desire to transcend those boundaries. A discussion of the origin of the physical universe will lead us naturally to a brief look at the birth of individual entities, and our dreams as seeds for new experience.

    Notes From The Edge

    Why is there something rather than nothing? What is the primal spark that brought this and other universes into existence? Where does our desire for expression and creativity come from? Here are some ideas!

    Dreams and Individuality

    Creation happens on the edge between the desire to expand and the desire to explore fully what has been imagined. Here we make the bridge between this general notion and several elements in our daily lives: our dreams and our sense of individuality.

    Notes from The Edge

    To be supplied.

    Dreams and Individuality

  • Meaningful perspectives
  • Expansion and the Dream State
  • Individuality
  • Meaningful perspectives

    In order to achieve the most complete expansion, All That Is created units of individuality of all shapes and sizes. Logical consistency demands that every pattern is explored from every possible perspective. However, some perspectives will be more significant than others.

    Let us start with purely physical structures. What is it that differentiates a collection of billions of atoms scattered throughout the planet from the body of a human being, which is - after all - just another collection of billions of atoms? We find the answer when we look at this situation from the many-worlds perspective. For a random collection, it doesn't matter much which atom is where. Its properties will not change much. With a human being, however, changing some genetic sequences may radically change the behavior of the whole organism. In order to maintain its unique properties, there has to be some structural consistency across the many worlds.

    It follows that, even though every possible option is explored, the most significant contributions will come from patterns with some meaningful structure. Physical reality is such a structured entity which is from our point of view of enormous size. Within that, there are further individualized structures, from species to civilizations to single persons and animals to cells to molecules to elementary particles. The total pattern of physical reality is explored from each of these perspectives.

    One important thing to note here is the obvious fact that the same pattern is explored from different perspectives simultaneously.

    Expansion and the dream state

    We will now take a closer look at the process of expansion. We start with a pattern with a boundary. We can expand beyond this boundary by letting this pattern resonate with some other patterns. By doing this, we excite new elements in our own pattern, and expand its boundaries.

    When we translate this into the patterns of our physical reality, the expansion corresponds to imagining new possibilities. But now we find ourselves in a position similar to All That Is - we cannot expand except by setting boundaries within those fields of possibilities. And so we chose one possibility for further exploration. A new boundary has been set.

    From a larger perspective, things are slightly more complicated. There is no reason to choose one option over another, and so all possible options are explored. What we get is a kind of gestalt consciousness that simultaneously experiences the various options it had imagined.

    As mentioned in the previous section, the same pattern is explored from many individualized points of view. There is therefore a different kind of gestalt of all the actors in the scenario that is being played out. We will have more to say later about the interactions between actors within and across scenarios and realities.

    Now, imagine what is like for such a gestalt consciousness to imagine possibilities. The enormity of options that are available, and the immense creativity that is at work here.

    I propose that dreams are the translation of this infinitely rich and continuous activity into terms that are meaningful for the individualized consciousness. The fundamental reality of dreams, then, is not some individual action within the brain of a sleeping person. Dreaming is not some individual activity that is isolated from everyone else.

    Dreaming is a collective activity, to which each individual contributes quite actively and automatically. Every individualized consciousness, human beings, societies, animals, plants, electrons, they all experience this dream world from their own unique point of view.

    Individuality

    All That Is is the Universal Pattern, the pattern of all patterns. It is infinite and whole, and as such undifferentiated. In its unlimited-ness, it found something it can do something new and creative by looking at itself in different ways - experiencing itself not as this one enormous pattern, but as each of infinitely many smaller patterns.

    There are elements in our own experience (as sub-patterns of the Universal Patterns) that we can't assign to All That Is as a whole. This has even been proven mathematically! In a remarkable piece of work by Cantor in the last century, he proved that the Universal Set, the set of all possible sets - in our terms the pattern of all patterns - was not actually a set.

    Experience then is a journey through the infinite patterns of All That Is. Our individuality is defined by the unique boundaries of the patterns within our awareness. We will use the word entity for any such individualized consciousness. Expansion of awareness is easily achieved by setting up an appropriate resonance with a larger pattern. Contraction is achieved by temporarily limiting the range of experience to a certain subset of the pattern.

    A journey implies some kind of sequence, and this is one element that can't be assigned to All That Is as a whole. The dynamics of the cloud is to be found in the various patterns - including the sequences - of experience as produced by resonant interactions between patterns.

    The same is true for expansion. Even though it is meaningful to speak of expansion of every part of All That Is, it is meaningless when we try to apply it to the whole.

    This expansion is driven by this creative tension between the desire to stay within certain boundaries, and the desire to transcend them.