It actually originated from watching a scene from the new Equalizer 3 movie, (only 10 minutes in; can’t say what i think yet ), seeing Denzel shot to hell, passed out and bloodied, recognizing that he “just needed time to heal”, and then suddenly it occurred to me, “just needs to rest and time to heal”, a phrase we hear and say so frequently throughout our lives that we completely take it for granted, not fully recognizing what it’s saying, the truly miraculous if not supernatural implications of the process.
My mind looked for a corollary in the outside world, something to compare it to. A self-powered, autonomous system that renders a process completely on its own without a need to be turned on or off or programmed. It only needs “time”.
I soon realized there was nothing in the outside world to compare it to. No outside corollaries. Only other life forms. Plants. Animals. Microscopic organisms even. But nothing existed outside of other living organisms that were capable of such a feat.
It has often been labeled a machine. But it’s a weak comparison. Machines need to be fabricated, programmed, turned on and off, told what to do; and they need to be powered, from the outside. The human body, even if left alone, just does. It acts on its own accord. It self powers. Where does this energy come from that powers the human body?
It self heals. Immediately starting the process within seconds. Just needs time. Left alone without any intervention it goes to work healing itself, and will complete the process of healing itself, completely, all on its own. As if given a directive. It must have been ons ago, it knows exactly what to do. And it won’t stop until it’s finished.
I stopped for a moment and began scanning “my body”, with feel. And imagination. It wouldn’t be possible without imagination. But it’s imagination closely tied to awareness. A razors edge difference. Eyes open. Feeling the inside of it, from a cellular level, picturing the cells in constant motion in a never ending process of self healing.
Amazement. Look at it go. Feel it. This microscopic pulsating self powered energy of millions of cells moving about, knowing exactly what to do.
8 weeks after an extremely invasive surgery, I was advised that all “I” needed to do — in this case “I” takes on an interesting characteristic, as in day to day speech we in human form split the “I” into two separate identities when talking to each other; “I” is consciousness — the incessant flow of self-awareness energy we call consciousness, the observer and the decision maker, the one being spoken to by another, distinct from the body that contains it — and “I” is also the total package labeled “I” that is both the body and consciousness together. What we all call “me”. And “you.”
I was told that all “I” needed to do is rest and give it time. Recovery. The process of “I” as consciousness deliberately doing nothing to allow the body portion of “I” to self heal. And what we were specifically referring to — what we all are always referring to re “recovery”— is doing nothing at all but relaxing in “the body” as it goes to work healing itself. The consciousness aspect of “I” doing nothing as a deeper level aspect of “I” goes to work to heal itself, as it naturally does without programming or provocation.
Just lie here and wait, i.e. “give it time”. And the body portion of “you” will heal. And the whole “you” will be healed. Until “you” no longer feels split into two; only one whole unit. Miraculously healed.
Yes of course, as I lie here now aware of this phenomenon, in week 8 of “recovery”, I have been trying to deliberately speed up the body’s healing mechanism, sending what feels like “energy” in the form of focused attention to my lower back and legs with the intention of standing up in a few minutes and feeling no pain whatsoever, even though just a few minutes ago even a shift in position caused me to wince and scream.
How much time does the body need for this self healing process..? Can it be altered or amended?
Was the initial programming of this organic material to self heal by intelligent design or a product of a slow meandering evolutionary process like that of the stars and planets? Can it be altered by consciousness? Sped up or slowed down?
Are we, as consciousness, only passengers? Or are we the whole car? Both travelers and the vehicles themselves…
An implication that “we” are going “somewhere”. Though the vehicles in their entirety are strictly limited to earth, by forces greater than themselves, both gravity and the fact that there is no other place to go. Physically speaking.
An implication that there is the potential for other forms of travel besides just the physical, but only a potentiality. We can get to it, an exploration of this potential, by recognizing that 1, “I” is capable of splitting itself up, and 2, that the body has this capability of self healing already programmed.
What else has been programmed in to the body? What else has been programmed in to consciousness?
There is potential in this line of exploration. More later. The body is tired. Consciousness is tired. They “need time”.
This is an article I came upon recently that I found absolutely fascinating. One, because it’s about a subject I write a lot about in the Transcendence Diaries, knowing full well that it may be the most unpopular and non-topical subject in the society we currently live in — [I am working on a piece presently related to just this, called The Death Of the Intellectual In the Modern Age], and two, because the author, Hoffman, attempts to explore consciousness from a scientific approach, resisting the popular trend of relegating the study of consciousness to the fields of philosophy or metaphysics. There’s hardcore science here. It may not be an easy read in some places; but it’s thoroughly refreshing to follow along the thoughts and thinking process of someone so ravenously intellectually curious and well thought out. A rare occurrence in our time. The piece was originally published in Edge on January 27, 2020. I am re-posting it here in the Diaries for informational purposes and as reference material. I believe it’s a must read for anyone interested in Ontology or Consciousness Studies. – Ed Hale
A Conversation with Donald D. Hoffman [1.27.20]
. . . I want to propose that realism is false, and what we’re seeing is more like a user interface or a virtual reality headset. Think about a virtual reality game of tennis. You’re playing VR tennis with a friend, you both have your headset and body suits on, you see your friend’s avatar on a tennis court and you start playing. Your friend hits the tennis ball to you, and you hit the same tennis ball back to your friend, but is your friend seeing exactly the same tennis ball that you’re seeing? Well, of course not. There’s no public tennis ball. You have some photons being sprayed to your eye by your headset, and those photons are causing your visual system to create your own perception of what you would call a green tennis ball. Your friend has a headset on, which is spraying photons to his eye, and his visual system is creating his own green tennis ball perception.
It turns out that both of those perceptions are coordinated by something else, namely a supercomputer that’s sending the photons to both headsets, causing both headsets to work in coordination. . . .
All the things that we would do to say that objects really exist even when they’re not perceived hold here in virtual reality. . . . That doesn’t mean that the tennis ball exists and has any physical properties when it’s not perceived; it just means that there is some objective reality.
DONALD D. HOFFMAN is a full professor of cognitive science at the University of California, Irvine. He is the author, most recently, of The Case Against Reality: Why Evolution Hid the Truth from Our Eyes. Donald D. Hoffman’s Edge Bio Page
REALISM IS FALSE
Some of the questions I’m asking myself are about the relationship between consciousness and the physical world. I’m trying to understand the classic mind-body problem—how consciousness is related to the physical brain or to physical systems more generally, perhaps computing systems. That’s been a conundrum for centuries. Gottfried Leibniz understood it, Thomas Huxley understood it, Francis Crick understood it and said we should really study it. So, I’ve been studying it.
What’s bothering me and many people in our field is that we have so far failed to get a scientific physicalist theory of consciousness that starts with neural activity, or starts with computer programs or some kind of abstract functional architecture and, without any further magic, gives us specific conscious experiences, like the taste of chocolate or the smell of garlic, arising in very specific mathematically precise ways from those physical or functional systems.
Right now, I’m trying to start with a theory of consciousness in which consciousness itself is fundamental. So again, it’s a mathematically precise theory. When we try to come up with a mathematically precise new theory, one of the things we have to do is think about the basic assumptions that we’re going to build into the theory. Every scientific theory starts with certain assumptions, certain axioms if you will, and then tries to build up an explanation of the other things. No theory in science can explain everything. We always have a few things that we assume, and then we try to explain everything else in terms of those few things.
In physical theory, for example, we’ve assumed space, time, matter, or quantum fields are fundamental, and then we can explain chemistry and biology. We’ve tried to use that kind of framework so that with those assumptions, we can try to boot up a theory of consciousness that explains exactly what physical systems or computational systems must be the taste of chocolate and could not be the taste of vanilla. There’s not a single theory that’s been proposed that can explain even one specific conscious experience.
So, what are the basic assumptions that we would need to build into a theory of consciousness? We don’t want to put too many assumptions on the table. We want the minimal number of assumptions that will give the maximum explanation. I’ve been playing with the idea of what I call a conscious agent, which has a set of conscious experiences and can act on those experiences. I have a mathematical formalism for it. Briefly, it’s measurable spaces of conscious experiences and Markovian kernels for decisions and actions based on those experiences.
One thing that comes out of this formalism is that it’s computationally universal. Anything about learning, memory, problem solving, intelligence, self, any of those things that we would think should ultimately be part of a theory of consciousness are not part of my assumptions; those are things that I will try to build out of networks of these conscious agents. The idea is that we’ll have these interacting social networks of conscious agents and, by the dynamics of the networks of conscious agents, we’ll build up theories of learning, memory, problem solving, intelligence, and the notion of a self.
I have a wonderful team of collaborators including Chetan Prakash, Manish Singh, Chris Fields, Robert Prentner, Federico Faggin, and Mauro D’Ariano working with me on the mathematics and the network dynamics and so forth. Ultimately, to solve the mind-body problem—how consciousness is related to the physical world—we’re going to have to start with this theory of consciousness and show how the physical world arises. We’re assuming consciousness is fundamental, not space, time, and matter. We’re going to have to get space, time, matter, and all of modern physics coming out from this network of conscious agents. The question is how to do that. Is that something that is at all compatible with some of the best views in modern physics?
Our team has been looking at some of the recent developments in physics, in particular the work of Nima Arkani-Hamed and his collaborators, in which they’re saying that spacetime has been the foundational idea in physics. In some sense, physics has been about what happens inside space and time for centuries. Spacetime has had a good run; it’s been a foundational assumption in physics. But there are lots of indications, especially from quantum theory and general relativity, that spacetime cannot be fundamental. As some of the physicists are putting it: spacetime is doomed. That’s not my quote, it’s theirs. There’s got to be something deeper that’s fundamental, outside of space and time, that gives rise to space and time. We’re not saying quantum mechanics is wrong or general relativity is wrong. They’re beautiful and powerful theories, but at some point, there are questions they can’t answer and problems that cannot be explained.
For example, spacetime itself. If you try to observe it at finer and finer scales with a bigger and bigger microscope, one problem is eventually the energies that are required to look at finer and finer resolution of spacetime, when you get down to the Planck scale, the energies create a black hole and you destroy the very thing that you’re trying to look at. And if you add more energy, the black hole just gets bigger. Physicists will say that if spacetime is not something we can measure with absolute precision, then it’s not a fundamental concept. We need something more fundamental.
Another idea they have is that in quantum theory you have an observer and a system, and the observer itself needs to be infinite to have infinite resolution in the measurements that it makes of a system. If you have a room in which you’re trying to do a measurement, to get more precise measurements, the observer has to be bigger with more mass. At some point, the observer itself collapses the room into a black hole. As they say, there are no local observables in quantum theory.
The question that I’m dealing with now is, how can I connect this idea of conscious agents and some of the new theories that physicists are coming up with that try to go beyond space and time?
There’s something called scattering amplitudes, the scattering behavior of particles in the Large Hadron Collider. So you smash protons together at near the speed of light. In many cases, you’ll have quarks and gluons hit each other and spray out, so you might have two gluons coming in and four gluons spraying out. You see these things in the detectors, and you can talk about the probabilities or what they call the amplitudes for these various scattering events. They’ve discovered that if you do the computations of the scattering amplitudes in space and time using Feynman diagrams, you get hundreds of pages of math. It’s ugly and you can’t do it in real time because you’re doing a billion of these collisions per second, roughly. They found that they could collapse these expressions to simple expressions, from hundreds of pages down to two or three terms, if they don’t do the computation in space and time.
One of the things they deal with is something called the amplituhedron. It’s a geometric object outside of space and time, and the volumes of various parts of the amplituhedron correspond to the probabilities of these scattering events. This amplituhedron has symmetries that cannot be expressed in space and time. The physicists are discovering that there’s this new realm behind space and time. They don’t know what it’s about. Right now, they’re following the math, which is telling us that there is this structure outside of space and time and it makes the computation simpler, gives us insight into symmetries that you can’t see in space and time.
Maybe this dynamic of conscious agents that we’re thinking about could be the realm behind space and time. My big project over the next couple of years, with the physicists on my team, is to try to understand how the dynamics of conscious agents might give rise to this amplituhedron.
One of the ideas I’m looking at has to do with the dynamics of conscious agents, the so-called Markovian dynamics. That just means that what you’re going to do at this moment depends pretty much on your current state. So, whatever your current state is, it governs all the probabilities of what you’re going to do at the next decision point. You have only a finite memory of what you’ve done in the past, and it’s only a finite memory of what you’ve done in the past that influences your future behavior.
When you look at these kinds of Markovian dynamics, you can look at their long-term behavior. We have a step-by-step behavior of what conscious agents are doing at each step of their interaction. Think of their interactions like a vast social network, like the Twitterverse. There’s a bunch of conscious agents, like a bunch of Twitter users, and they’re all interacting with each other. But what they’re doing is passing experiences back and forth between each other.
We can look at the dynamics of what’s happening at each step of this social network in this interaction, or we can look asymptotically. As the number of interactions goes to infinity, what kinds of patterns do you see there? That’s where I’m thinking we might get the connection to physics and the amplituhedron, not at the step-by-step dynamics of conscious agents. That’s too fine a grain. If we look at the infinite long-term asymptotic behavior of these social networks of conscious agents, that asymptotic behavior erases a lot of the detailed information about the social network and how it works. On the other hand, it’s capturing the long-term patterns. That’s going to be one of those central proposals. What physics has been doing is capturing just the long-term asymptotic behavior of these networks of conscious agents. That’s why it hasn’t looked conscious at all.
For example, if you’re looking at the freeways in Southern California from an airplane, you just see a bunch of little dots moving around. There’s not much evidence of any consciousness or intelligence. You’re looking at it from a high level and you’re erasing a lot of information. You don’t see all the conscious individuals inside the cars. You just see this pattern of flow, of little dots on streets. That’s what physics has been seeing. It’s not seeing the step-by-step dynamics of the conscious agents. It’s only seeing a top-level asymptotic description of the long-term behavior of these social networks of conscious agents. That’s why we haven’t seen things that look like they’re conscious, because we’re only seeing the long-term behavior.
Of course, there’s a lot of specific mathematical steps that we’ll have to take to prove that the asymptotic dynamics of these social networks precisely fits into the structure of the amplituhedron, which they have shown can give rise to the interesting features of quantum theory and relativity theory combined.
That’s one thing I’m trying to work on—flesh out this model of conscious agent networks, look at the asymptotic behavior of these dynamics, and then plug that into the amplituhedron. That whole process will help me with another big problem we’ve got, which is if consciousness is fundamental, there’s this social network of conscious agents out there and they’re interacting—why? The right answer is, I don’t know. I’m trying to first come up with some principled ideas that are at least plausible for what the dynamics of consciousness is fundamentally about.
One idea my team and I are playing with is Gödel’s incompleteness theorem. Gödel showed that if you have any sufficiently complex mathematical system, and that system has a set of axioms, there will be truths that are consistent with those axioms, but they cannot be proved from that set of axioms. There are unprovable truths. And if you add those new truths (that you couldn’t prove before) as axioms to a bigger system, then Gödel’s theorem says there will be yet new truths that can’t be proven within your bigger system of axioms.
Effectively, this means that the exploration of mathematical structure is, in principle, endless. There will be no end to the exploration of what we can do in mathematics. Why is that interesting in the context of a theory of consciousness and conscious agents? Well, it turns out that consciousness and mathematics are intimately linked.
There’s a field called psychophysics that has studied conscious experiences since 1860. One thing that we’ve discovered in our psychophysical studies in the lab and with the mathematical models is that conscious experiences are highly structured. We can write down mathematical models that predict not only judgments of similarity between various like colors, but also predict precisely what three-dimensional structures you will see and when you will see them. It’s mathematics through and through. I’m not saying that consciousness just is mathematics; it’s more like consciousness and mathematics are like a living organism and the bones. The bones are the mathematics and consciousness is the living organism. That’s one reason why we can hope to build a mathematical model of consciousness and conscious agents. The mathematics is a genuine insight into the structural aspects of consciousness, but of course there’s more to consciousness than just the mathematics.
This is where Gödel’s theorem comes in. It says the structures that consciousness can take and that these conscious agents can explore are endless. One idea is that the goal of consciousness and of these conscious agents is endless exploration of all the possible varieties of conscious experiences and their structures. It may or may not be true, but at least it seems deep enough that it’s a plausible candidate to answer the question of what the dynamics of consciousness is all about.
Suppose we hit a dead end there and that idea turns out to be wrong, that Gödel’s theorem, as interesting as it is, turns out not to be an adequate foundation for our dynamics of conscious agents. If we can take our theory of conscious agents, show how it plugs into, say, the amplituhedron, and then eventually into quantum field theory and general relativity, then what we may be able to do is reverse engineer things. Once we know how to map from conscious agent dynamics into modern physics, can we reverse that map? Can we take what we know about modern physics and its dynamics, pull it back into the realm of conscious agents, and say what kinds of dynamics would get pulled back? That may then focus our attention on certain kinds of conscious agent dynamics that may then help us to grope toward the answer to the question of what consciousness is all about.
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I got my BA in quantitative psychology from UCLA. While I was there, I took some classes on artificial intelligence and neuroscience of vision that caught my interest. One class pulled those together, a graduate class that I took in which we looked at the work of David Marr. He was bringing artificial intelligence ideas together with neuroscience ideas to study human vision. His idea was to be mathematically precise, to come up with mathematical theories that you could implement in a computer for things like seeing in 3D, object perception, and object recognition. As an undergraduate, I thought this was wonderful. This was someone who was using mathematics, computers, and artificial intelligence to solve problems in human vision, and eventually to build robotic vision systems.
I was very interested in the relationship of computing to humans. I was interested in questions like, are humans just computers or are we more than computers? And, what’s the relationship between human cognition and computation? David Marr was at MIT in the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory and what’s now the Brain and Cognitive Science Department, so I went there, and he and Whitman Richards became my co-advisors.
I worked with Marr for only about fourteen months because he died young, at age thirty-five of leukemia, unfortunately. It was a great loss personally and to the field. But I did have that chance to work with him and the wonderful team that he’d assembled around him. I got to jump in and see what artificial intelligence can do, how far it can go in understanding human vision.
I completed my PhD there, working on human vision. Then I went to UC Irvine as a professor of cognitive sciences in 1983, and I’ve been there ever since. Now my own research is focused on specific problems in human vision, because it’s good to take on specific problems if you’re trying to understand how human nature is related to computation. It’s good to jump in and try to build computational devices that model human nature and see how far you can go. It turns out you can go quite far. In fact, there’s almost no area of cognitive science—learning, memory, problem solving, sensory perception, language development—that isn’t beautifully treated by these functionalist computer kinds of models. There’s only one area that has been a problem, and that is conscious experience.
~ ~ ~ ~
There’s an attitude toward things that accepts the possibility that everything I believe is false. But if I’m right about anything, I’m right that I have experiences—that I’m having a headache right now, or that I’m experiencing a chair in front of me, or a table. As philosophers say, I’m having an experience “as of” a table, or an experience as of a chair, or as of a spoon. So, if I look ahead of myself and I see a table, I’m having an experience as of a table. If I close my eyes, then my experience changes and I no longer have an experience as of a table. Then when I open my eyes, I have once again an experience as of a table.
My physicalist colleagues will say that the table is what’s real; it’s there all the time. Even when my eyes are closed, there is a table that exists even if no perceiver were to look at it. The table not only exists, but it has roughly the shape, texture, color, and other properties that I see. That’s a pretty strong claim.
The physicalist is making the stronger and more tendentious claim, that physical objects have definite values of physical properties, like position, momentum, spin, even if no creature observes it. That’s a strong claim, and it might even sound like a non-scientific claim. That’s more than I’m claiming if I just take conscious experiences as fundamental. All I’m claiming is that when I open my eyes, I have an experience as of a table, and when I close my eyes, who knows what’s happening in objective reality. Of course, you could turn it around and say I’m claiming that if consciousness is fundamental and the physical world isn’t fundamental, there is no table when I don’t observe, no object with a definite position, momentum, and spin. That also seems to be a non-scientific claim. How can you claim something about a physical object and its properties when nothing is observing it? How can you possibly have an experiment to test that?
This kind of debate about whether physical objects exist and have definite properties when they’re not observed is one that Einstein was pushing back in the 1920s and 1930s. It seemed to Einstein that quantum mechanics was saying the moon doesn’t exist when no one observes it, at least in the interpretation of quantum mechanics that Niels Bohr and Werner Heisenberg, the Copenhagen interpretation, had.
Wolfgang Pauli was quite impatient with Einstein. He said the kinds of questions that Einstein was asking were like asking how many angels dance on the head of a pin. Who cares? This was a metaphysical thing that couldn’t be answered with experiment anyway, so why bother with it? That was Pauli’s attitude. Pauli was a towering genius, one of the greatest physicists of the 20th century. It turns out though that he was wrong—this is a question that we can ask and answer experimentally.
A physicist named John Bell, in 1963, found a series of experiments that could test whether something like an atom has a definite value of position, or momentum, or spin even when it’s not observed. It sounds impossible. How could you have a series of experiments that definitely tell you an answer to the question of whether something exists with definite values of properties even when you don’t look at it? Bell discovered that you could test something called local realism, to which there’s two parts.
Realism is the claim that physical objects have definite values of position, momentum, and spin when they’re not observed—that’s realism. Locality is the additional assumption that those definite values of the physical properties have influences that propagate no faster than the speed of light through space. Bell proposed this set of experiments, something called Bell’s inequalities—a beautiful theorem that he came up with. It took a couple of decades, but we got the technology roughly in the 1980s and then started doing the experiments. The experiment has been done many times.
People were blown away by the answer, which is that local realism is false. That has been established by experiment repeatedly. Local realism is absolutely false, but there’s two aspects to it. It could be that either realism is false—particles or objects don’t have definite values of their properties when they’re not observed—or it could be that locality is false—influences can propagate faster than the speed of light. Or it could be that both locality and realism are false.
Then there was another theorem in 1963 and 1964 that Bell and two physicists named Simon Kochen and Ernst Specker proved. It’s about realism and what they called “non-contextuality.” It’s not about local realism, it’s about non-contextual realism. The question here is, is non-contextual realism true? Non-contextual realism is the claim that physical objects, like an atom, have a definite position, or spin, or momentum when they’re not observed. Second, these definite values, their prior nature does not depend on how you choose to measure. The kind of measurement you make does not in any way alter these preexisting values. That’s non-contextual realism.
It turns out that our best theory, quantum theory, predicts quite clearly that non-contextual realism is false. Local realism is false, non-contextual realism is false, and that leaves it quite open that realism itself is false. If realism is false, that raises a couple of questions. Is that true only for microscopic objects—electrons, protons, neutrons, and photons—and not more macroscopic objects?
It’s turning out that this border between the microscopic and the macroscopic, first, is very suspicious. No one has ever been able to make a principled size or scale distinction. What size is microscopic and what scale is macroscopic? Recent experiments have been showing that we can put bigger and bigger systems of atoms—some getting pretty big now, thousands of atoms—and put them in quantum superpositions so that the quantum effects that the Kochen-Specker-Bell inequalities are true of these systems that involve thousands of atoms. These are huge molecules with thousands of atoms—getting close to the size of a virus. We suspect that as we continue to develop technology, we’ll find that this boundary between the microscopic and the macroscopic is not nearly so firm as you might think.
The bottom line is local realism is false and non-contextual realism is false. So, what does that mean about the notion of public physical objects? What do we mean in science by third-person science and public physical objects? Intuitively, what we talk about is the way science works and the way it’s in some sense objective. I can watch a ball rolling down an inclined plane, I can measure its acceleration, and I can compute the effects of gravity on it. Then you can look at that very same ball and make your own independent measurements of that public physical ball. If your measurements and my measurements agree, then we can start to have objective science.
There’s this notion of public physical objects and third-person science in the sense that independent observers can do scientific experiments on the same object and come to some kind of agreement. Sometimes the agreement isn’t absolute, like if we’re measuring the length of a meter stick. It turns out if you’re moving fast relative to me, you will get a different length for the meter stick than I will. There’s something called the Lorentz contraction that happens. We can take those kinds of things into account and have a dictionary between the distance you measure and the distance I measure. If they’re the same up to the Lorentz contraction, then we would still say that we agree. And even in special relativity, the spacetime interval is something that we would all agree with on the exact number. That’s the general notion that we have of public physical objects and third-person science.
The idea that local realism and non-contextual realism are false leads me to argue that in fact realism is false. I want to propose that realism is false, and what we’re seeing is more like a user interface or a virtual reality headset. Think about a virtual reality game of tennis. You’re playing VR tennis with a friend, you both have your headset and body suits on, you see your friend’s avatar on a tennis court and you start playing. Your friend hits the tennis ball to you, and you hit the same tennis ball back to your friend, but is your friend seeing exactly the same tennis ball that you’re seeing? Well, of course not. There’s no public tennis ball. You have some photons being sprayed to your eye by your headset, and those photons are causing your visual system to create your own perception of what you would call a green tennis ball. Your friend has a headset on, which is spraying photons to his eye, and his visual system is creating his own green tennis ball perception.
It turns out that both of those perceptions are coordinated by something else, namely a supercomputer that’s sending the photons to both headsets, causing both headsets to work in coordination. Notice in this example that it looks like there’s a public object, namely a green tennis ball, but there isn’t. There is your tennis ball that you perceive and that disappears when you close your eyes, and your friend’s tennis ball that he perceives and disappears when he closes his eyes. There’s no public tennis ball in this example.
All the things that we would do to say that objects really exist even when they’re not perceived hold here in virtual reality. We might say, I know that this table exists because I closed my eyes and my friend Joe can see the table even when I don’t look. Or I can close my eyes and touch the table and can feel it even when I’m not seeing it. Or I can take this spoon and close my eyes, drop it, and know exactly where to look when I open my eyes. You can do all those things in virtual reality. I can take my green tennis ball in virtual reality, close my eyes, drop the tennis ball and know where I’m going to see it. That doesn’t mean that the tennis ball exists and has any physical properties when it’s not perceived; it just means that there is some objective reality.
I’m not denying that there is an objective reality. There is some objective reality that exists independent of whether or not I perceive it, but that objective reality is not space and time or anything inside space and time. Those are just human forms of perception. That’s what quantum theory is telling us. It’s telling us local realism is false, non-contextual realism is false, and realism is false, at least what we call realism of objects in space and time. They don’t exist, except when they’re perceived. They don’t have their properties, except when they’re perceived because spacetime is not fundamental. That’s what the physicists are now telling us, like Nima Arkani-Hamed. Spacetime is doomed. There is an objective reality, but it’s not space and time. It’s a deeper reality outside of space and time. Spacetime is emergent and is not fundamental.
Here’s a cognitive neuroscientist talking about consciousness being fundamental reality, not space and time, and that’s surely treading on the turf of physics. So, what do physicists think about this? Do they just dismiss this out of hand? There’s an interesting history of physicists and their ideas about consciousness. Some of the early quantum physicists were very interested in consciousness. Erwin Schrödinger was interested in it, so were Eugene Wigner and John von Neumann. Wigner thought that consciousness was fundamental, and von Neumann said that as well. There are various interpretations as to whether he was serious about it or not, but he did talk about consciousness being fundamental.
There were a number of physicists who have said that, but among modern physicists, I would say that most simply do not take the idea that consciousness could be fundamental seriously. They would be dismissed pretty much out of hand. The idea that spacetime is doomed, that there’s something beyond space and time, doesn’t entail that that something is consciousness.
Some physicists are proposing that consciousness might be a state of matter. Max Tegmark, for example, has the notion of perceptronium, where certain states of matter could give rise to conscious experience. That idea is very different from the kind of idea that I’m proposing. I’m not proposing that consciousness is a special state of matter. I’m saying that consciousness is fundamental outside of space and time. Space and time itself, and what we call physical objects and their matter inside space and time, are interface descriptions of what’s going on in the dynamics of conscious agents.
Other physicists are proposing other models of what’s behind space and time; again, not consciousness, maybe quantum information—quantum bits and quantum gates. I certainly understand why a physicist would not feel inclined to jump all the way in and say consciousness is fundamental. The proof will be in what we can do. If we can get a mathematically precise theory of conscious agents and the network dynamics of those conscious agents, and we can show that it plugs in, say, to the amplituhedron that Nima Arkani-Hamed has been looking at, and it gives us new predictions, then and only then would I expect that physicists take this stuff seriously. I certainly understand them not taking it seriously until I make some new concrete prediction that affects physics.
I heard a talk recently by Nima Arkani-Hamed in which he said something he advised was just speculative on his part. He said that maybe one of the problems that they’re having in trying to get a deeper understanding of physics that resolves some of the paradoxes between quantum theory and gravity is the division between the subject and the object, between the observer and the observed. Somehow that division, which is required by quantum mechanics, is a real source of problems because the observer has to effectively be infinite if you’re going to have any precise measurements in quantum theory. That has to do with the idea that there are all these quantum fluctuations, and if you’re trying to measure something to infinite precision and you have a finite measuring device, then the quantum fluctuations will perturb the measuring device and give you the wrong answers by the time you get to the fiftieth decimal point, or the hundredth decimal point, or ten to the hundredth decimal point. He was saying maybe we’re going to have to figure out a way to either get rid of that division or multiple ways of doing that division. There’s something about the division between the observer and the observed that will have to be changed.
What’s interesting to me is that in this theory of conscious agents, that’s precisely what I do. The observer and the observed distinction goes away. All are the same mathematical structure, and all are conscious agents. In this dynamical theory, when agents interact, they form new agents. You can have simple agents with few conscious experiences, maybe only two. We might call that a one-bit agent; it only has two experiences, but they can interact to create two-bit agents and four-bit agents, all the way up to however big you want. What agents are really observing are other agents. So, the division between subject and object is not this fundamental distinction. The observer-observed are all the same kind of thing. The boundary between them is completely fluid.
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I’m collaborating with several mathematical physicists right now, working to get some predictions that will grab the interest of this community. One of the biggest influences on me, the person who got me into cognitive neuroscience was David Marr. His writing was powerful, his ideas were brilliant, and he grabbed my attention when I was in my early twenties. It was a great privilege to work with David Marr and then with Whitman Richards, who was my co-advisor while Marr was alive. After Marr died, Whitman Richards was my sole advisor. He was just a wonderful adviser. He gave me the freedom to pursue what I wanted to. He gave me feedback, treated me as an equal, and treated my ideas with respect. We were friends for decades afterwards until his death just a couple of years ago. Whitman had a long-term impact.
Another impact on me was a mathematician named Bruce Bennett, who was a professor of algebra and geometry here at UC Irvine. He took me under his wing when I first came here to UCI, and he and I collaborated for fifteen or twenty years. I’m not a mathematician, so he was very patient and taught me a lot of mathematics. Chetan Prakash, who is a mathematical physicist, also has had a big influence on me and has continued to collaborate with me.
More recently, Federico Faggin has been a big influence. Faggin is probably a name that most people haven’t heard but should know. He was the young genius at Intel who invented the microprocessor. He helped perfect the silicon gate technology. He went on to invent the Z80 and the 8080. He was the CEO of Zilog, also the CEO of Synaptics, where they developed the touch pad. Federico is a genius. He’s also very interested in consciousness.
He heard me give a talk six or seven years ago on my mathematical model of consciousness, struck up a conversation with me, and we’ve been friends ever since. We collaborate closely. His ideas are similar to mine. We’re on the same page, but different enough that it’s interesting. We have strong debates on the details, which is very good. Federico has helped to assemble a team that he’s funding. It would be difficult to get the National Science Foundation or the NIH to fund my research because it’s so far out there, but Federico Faggin is funding it from his own foundation, the Faggin Foundation, for which I’m exceedingly grateful. It’s not the funding that’s the primary thing, although it’s very helpful, but Federico’s ideas are extremely influential and helpful to me.
In terms of some other peers in philosophy of mind, I’m quite impressed with the work of Dave Chalmers. I like his thorough analysis, his mathematical sophistication, his philosophical sophistication, and his non-doctrinaire approach. I like how he surveys the various possibilities and looks at the pros and cons of the various possibilities. I never see him getting dragged into ad hominem debates. He always keeps it where it should be, which is not in personal attacks, but just focusing on the strengths and weaknesses of various ideas. I’ve been heavily influenced by Dave Chalmers and his writing.
There are definitely people who would disagree with me, as I believe Dan Dennett does. He is into conscious illusionism. I talk about conscious realism. I think conscious experiences are real and maybe the foundational reality. Dan Dennett says that space, time, and matter are fundamental. What we call consciousness, in particular, phenomenal conscious experiences—the “what is it like” aspect of consciousness—is merely an illusion that comes about when certain processes in our brain are monitoring the activity of other processes in our brain. The way they monitor and the language in which they couch what they’re monitoring is what leads to the illusion of consciousness. Keith Frankish, Dan Dennett, and others are spearheading this illusionism approach.
It’s not my approach and I disagree with it, but I’m glad they’re mapping out that part of the conceptual space. It’s important to have different points of views. Thinking about their ideas forces me to rethink certain aspects of my own approach. Yeah, we disagree, but it’s a profitable and useful kind of disagreement.
One other person that I should mention that was a big influence was Francis Crick. He was the one who gave permission for scientists to jump in and study consciousness. When I was a graduate student at MIT, I was interested in consciousness, but it wasn’t considered a proper subject of science. It was a little bit too woo woo. I studied it, but I didn’t call it that. I published a book with my collaborators, Bruce Bennett and Chetan Prakash called Observer Mechanics (1989). It’s effectively a mathematical model of dynamics of consciousness, but we just called it observer mechanics and left the consciousness out. Within a few years it was perfectly fine to talk about consciousness and that was largely due to the influence of Francis Crick.
Francis also was the intellectual leader of a group in Southern California that I was lucky to participate in called the Helmholtz club. The Helmholtz club brought together thinkers and professors from various universities in Southern California. We all met at the university club at UC Irvine for nearly twenty years on a roughly monthly basis, with some breaks. A group of a dozen or fifteen of us were the core group, and we would bring in guests and outside speakers. We were after understanding this hard problem of consciousness. Francis was looking at it from a hard-nosed neurobiological point of view—the neurocircuits and the activities that cause conscious experiences. He was hoping to demystify consciousness just like he’d demystified life when he and Watson discovered the structure of DNA. He was looking for the double helix of neuroscience that would demystify consciousness. It was a great pleasure to watch him at work, to see him grappling with the neuroscience data, questioning researchers about their latest findings, and then trying to come up with a model of how neuroactivity could create conscious experience.
I’m not going to be here forever. I need to help the next generation understand the ideas and carry on when I’m no longer able to do it. There is a balance that we all have to strike up between how much time we spend communicating the ideas and how much time we spend having fun exploring the ideas. That’s what it’s like climbing a mountain. You climb it because it’s there. We’re exploring these ideas because it’s incredibly fun to explore them, but then it’s time to stop having that fun. I do enjoy the communication process, but it’s different than the exploration of the ideas.
I try in my public communication, in podcasts and so forth, to communicate to a broad, intelligent but non-specialist audience. I would hope that intelligent, lower division undergraduates could understand what I’m saying. That’s my goal, because that’s often my audience. On the other hand, I’m hoping to catch the brilliant minds who know high-level physics or mathematics and could push this thing to heights that I can’t push it. I try to make it interesting to a broad audience, but also have enough beef that it is not dismissed by people who are talented and could find a real project in this.
I’m planning to officially retire from the UC Irvine this July. I’ll still be on the faculty, but I’ll be emeritus. I still plan to bring in grant money and do the research. As anybody who is a professor knows, you spend a lot of time teaching, and doing committee work, writing grants and reviewing grants, so all of the extraneous duties disappear. That’s one reason why I’m retiring. I’ll have more extended time to sink deeply into the ideas, especially when I’m trying to make this connection, which is my goal between the long-term behavior of conscious agent networks and perhaps the amplituhedron, or these interesting structures that physicists are finding that seem to be prior to spacetime and may give rise to spacetime.
My goal is to work with my team to get a mathematically rigorous theory over the next four or five years, and to get this far enough along that even if we don’t have the whole thing worked out, the ideas are promising enough that it’s worth writing a book that focuses on the idea that consciousness is fundamental. Even if I can’t bring that all the way home, I would like to bring it part of the way and then entice a new generation that’s mathematically sophisticated and sophisticated in physics to then bring it all the way home, and do it quickly enough that I can read it. I want to know the answer. That’s my real motivation. I want to know the answer to the hard problem of consciousness. Does the idea that consciousness is fundamental and could give rise to physics pan out? I am exceedingly interested in that. If I don’t get it, I need to get a book out there to have brighter people work on it so I can read their papers. That’s my goal
Most of us can quickly and easily reflect on and recall the various different physical or mental traits (good or bad) or anomalies that we’ve genetically inherited. Primarily because 1, they stick out, i.e. they aren’t “the norm” for our background, race, age, species, and yet there they are… flat feet, asthma, back problems or weak discs, being great at sports or music, poor eyesight, high blood pressure, etc etc.
We recognized for thousand of years there was some kind of mysterious magical system at play beneath the surface that predisposed people to these things if someone in their family was also predisposed to it or possessed it, long before we even knew about genes… So, we knew there’s “something” going on.. long before we discovered the genetic code.
We also made inbreeding within the same family against the law pretty early on in our evolution simply because we noticed the results of it often had a “bad” outcome, physical deformities or mental disabilities, etc. Again recognizing that there was something going on beneath the surface that we just hadn’t yet discovered.
We’ve been breeding dogs to our preference for a hundred years, knowing that if we did X to Y we’d end up with an XY eventually, again knowing there was something powerful and mysterious going on that we could harness beneath the surface… and again we didn’t know what it was, had no physical proof we could point to.
But alas now we do. I remember when we / they first cracked the human genome… how historic it seemed. Not that long ago. And now we’ve got tens of thousand of companies both private and public working 24/7 on very specific tasks and ventures, dreams and goals, in order to invent and create and discreate a literally infinite variety of different genetic potentialities in humans, animals, insects, fruits and vegetables.
It’s become as common as any other scientific field, maybe the most expansive scientific field of them all. Because the proof is right there, both on the screen (under the microscope projected onto the computer imaging monitor) AND in the physical manifestation of whatever actions we take in the microscopic genetic world, i.e. the result of our tinkering.
I personally started becoming interested in and then an obsessed student and knowledge hoarder in genetics because it very quickly overtook several other sciences I was already well versed in like civilization history, anthropology, archeology, etc. Before the discovery of genetics, they all suffered from the lack of proof problem, always theoretical. Post genetics, we can easily proof them out. No more need of the theoretical.
One of the most profound aspects of our discovering genetics is it’s reliability factor. Anyone who’s taken a genetic test and seen the results of it is aware of this. And of just how transformative the whole field has become in how we view the world and our species. Now we refer to ourselves in terms of which “generic tribe(s)” someone is of/from — because we knew everybody, every human on earth, at some point stated off being part of some “tribe”, and we’ve used that term for thousands of years.
But as we migrated around the earth for longer and longer periods of time, inter-breeding with people from other tribes, it became more challenging to determine just who someone was or where they fit in. We started using terms like nationality or race or country of birth or religion to categorize ourselves.
But none of those labels made any sense, because they were too surface and didn’t capture who a person really was. Now of course we can just take a test and see exactly which genetic tribe or genotype someone is originally of/from. And it’s usually a healthy dose of several. Those terms now supersede the old terms we used to use like nationality or even race. Being able to pinpoint exactly where and when on the planet a person’s lineage began…. It’s a mind blowing transformation of how we view and understand ourselves and the world.
Of course what fascinates us is the fact that despite how concrete genetics seem to be, there are often certain anomalies where a person doesn’t manifest or exhibit the exact result we predict based on their genetics, certain traits or diseases or skills or tendencies that “should” show up or be there but aren’t. And it boggles the mind still of our best and brightest. The old question returned “how is this possible?” How can X and X not predictably result in XX if everything we know about the genetic code is concrete and true? and once again we are thrown back into the world of having to use language like “prone to” “potential for” “tendency to” instead of “most definitely will”.
Is there just more to the science that we haven’t yet discovered? Or is there something more transpiring that transcends the science? Something like Consciousness…? The smart money would say it’s a little bit of both. Just how much can consciousness affect genetics and genetic outcomes…? That’s the question. Can consciousness completely supersede and unravel reliable predictable genetic outcomes? Can consciousness completely transcend something so seemingly concrete and solid like genetics?
Let me just pull out the rabbit and show it to you without all the drama and theatrics. We currently label the study of consciousness Ontology. It’s a field of study one can major in and become an “expert” in if they want to, though at present it’s as mysterious and theoretical as philosophy or psychology, filled with “maybes” and “what ifs” and “potential to”…. It’s fuzzy math at best. Without the reliability or predictability of math. It’s almost as damn near theoretical as the field we loosely label “Metaphysics”, which at best could be described as “the study of ideas and theories with no scientific foundation”. Harsh, but at present a realistic summation.
In a very short period of time though, in our lifetime, the study of consciousness will be moved to the field of particle physics. Because that’s where it actually belongs. Once we begin to see and study and explore consciousness through the lens of particle physics, we will break open the mysteries of it and the theoretical nature of it will start to fall away and lead us into more predictable and reliable outcomes that can be tested and proved.
When combined with various tests and studies in other areas of particle physics and in genetics…. Well, that’s going to be the golden ticket. That new field that gets created will be as powerful and profound as the discovery of genetics itself has been
Dearest Avatar friends, This morning, while participating in this “morning prayer group” thing on Zoom that started about 2 years ago with the onset of Covid and just kept growing and growing, I kept having this recurring thought: “what if we as Avatars approached our day to day lives with the same amount of commitment to participating as this morning prayer group does…? Imagine the possibilities…!”
I started to feel excitement inside.
Let me say for the record, since we all know each other from various Avatar Courses and that’s our particular connection point, that I’m not what one would call religious in any way, which admittedly does create a rather peculiar and surreal, if not downright controversial experience for everyone in this prayer group at times whenever we end up in more social conversations.
Everyone else who participates IS religious, grew up religious, believes or at least “has faith” in all the various tenets of some “religion”, and they take it very seriously. It’s serious reality to them. Whereas with me, I sincerely don’t get how anyone could say they think any of the ideas propagated by the thousands of manmade religions throughout human history hold any truth at all with a straight face. It all seems downright farcical to me, as I’m sure it does to anyone who has even the slightest knowledge of history and how these different religions originated.
But that comes with two caveats: one, I do and frankly always have had an intuitive feel and sense of something larger than us that seems to exist in our universe… a larger more all encompassing presence or consciousness that everyone can tap into, feel and connect with. The Tao if you will. A divine presence. Source. The Force. The Divine. Some kind of permanent pervasive energy that exists both outside of us and yet within us all at the same time. So I’m always interested in exploring that. Going deeper into it. To see what transpires….
Two, prayer in and of itself most likely didn’t start off as a religious practice in our slow and steady evolution as a species… even though it’s been co-opted by the major religions now, and commingled with ideologies like “worship” etc., In reality prayer is just another word for and form of focused attention on one particular thing, idea, thought or no-thought, with a variety of different goals… freeing or clearing the mind in order to transcend consciousness and experience pure awareness for a moment or two; or to connect with some kind of higher power within consciousness or pure awareness; or to seek comfort and serenity in times of trauma worry or stress; or to harness enough free attention particles in order to deliberately create something preferred for ourselves or someone else or the world or the environment around us….
As Avatars we understand perhaps better than anyone else the power of deliberately focused attention to create shift and transform reality. So the idea of prayer as a practice fascinates me. Regardless of religion, I dont see or feel any harm in prayer. Opposite. I see it as a noble goal, an intriguing ontological experiment from a scientific perspective… rather than a religious practice. The idea of committing to this experiment on a daily basis, again similar to meditation or even using the Avatar tools, is intriguing. A fascinating way to explore its possibilities and see what might transpire.
So…. This morning prayer group I speak of literally started out as a kind of survival or connection practice due to those sudden Covid lockdowns and the fear and unknowns associated with all of us suddenly faced with a mysterious global pandemic we knew nothing about. The future became very realistically uncertain for all of us in every corner of the world. A 5-10 minute gathering to “pray” with others, whether we even knew them or not, seemed an appropriate and beneficial idea.
The entire experience, done online over some kind of multi-person video service like Zoom or Skype etc. only lasts about ten minutes. That’s it. But every day Monday to Friday like clockwork. And not only has it not stopped after almost two years now, the attendance keeps growing. People from all over the US, many in different time zones. Everyone finds a way to show up for it. No matter where they are in the world or what “time” it is.
Consistency is the key to it I’ve noticed. No matter what happens to be “happening” in everybody’s day to day lives, or in the world at that particular moment, everyone finds a way to log into this thing. They might be out jogging, or at a parent’s house who just passed away, or in the car or on the subway, or just getting out of the shower (seriously), or still locked down in their home, by themselves or with a few family members….
But there they are, logged into Zoom, prepared to pray or meditate or at least listen for ten minutes; and then on with their day.
It’s been very educational for me, from a consciousness and cultural exploration perspective. It’s a fascinating little societal anomaly, this odd comittment people have to attend. But why?
As a longtime Avatar, we’ve tried a variety of different things through the years to try to encourage or grow “community” among all the Avatars all over the world, to increase connection, add consistency and (most excitingly perhaps) explore the possibilities of gathering the consciousness of many Avatars together at the exact same time to focus their attention on any one thing in order to create something(s).
Though at the same time, the tools themselves encourage a life deliberately lived, dependent on no one but one’s self. And that’s one of the most important and powerful aspects of awakening to the knowledge in the Avatar materials — suddenly not needing something or someone outside of one’s self in order to feel better or self improve or become more successful or happier or become enlightened or transcend….
For me there was enormous power in discovering this inherent ability we all possessed as a species but just never knew about because at some point we stopped passing it on to ourselves and generations that came afterwards. It was very freeing, liberating, empowering. Awakening to the reality that it was we who possessed all the answers and power to change shift transform create and discreate our individual and shared realities. Mind blowing really. As each of you already know.
But what about the power of community, connection with others, the potential for bigger reality shifts through working together, through harnessing the power of many working together toward one reality…?
In NYC we had a long-running Avatar Wizards group that met once a month. Going back about 15 years now. It went on for years. Because of its consistency and reliability, it really did foster a sense of community and for a few years got 25-40 people together from a rather large geographical area every month without fail. I can now say, looking back having had the experience, that it was an empowering experience, as well as a heart warming and comforting human connection and community experience as well.
My interest in sharing this with you all is in what could be achieved, in consciousness, and in each person’s day to day lives, and in the broader world that we live in and share with billions of others, if we as Avatars made that same kind of commitment to “regular practice”, just as this strange little morning prayer group i referenced earlier does..? Not a daily thing. But perhaps weekly, or monthly…
Consistency and reliability seem to be key. Those factors, consistency and reliability, come from commitment and dedication. Commitment and dedication come from a shared belief in the overarching mission or goal or perceived value or benefit, by at least one or two or more people.
I definitely feel a deep sense of perceived value and benefit from the regular practice of using the avatar tools; even just from regular reminders of the knowledge base that comes from re-reading and studying the materials.
So next up would be some kind of commitment to do or practice “something”. The kind of commitment that leads to the creation of something consistent and reliable for self and others. For whatever reason, it almost doesn’t seem to matter WHAT “it” is, if it is reliably consistent, people will tune in or participate in it. THAT is a mind blowing realization.
If a small group started that practice, freely permitted other like-minded folks to participate whenever they wanted to and invited others to do the same, the materials being studied more, the knowledge and insights being explored and digested more, the practice and using of the tools happening more, and more consistently…. imagine the possibilities.
Now that’s a noble goal. A potentiality that absolutely intrigues and fascinates me. Just we in this tiny little group live in 6 different countries. That is so random and yet cool. Based on the time zones, we as a group basically encircle the entire globe.
I propose that when each of us get a chance to contemplate it, let’s share what day(s) and time(s) we think might work best for us to do something…. Weekends keep popping up for me, that might “work best”…. But then I keep remembering that those morning prayer group Zooms take place at 8am on weekdays, which seems crazy considering most people have 9-5 jobs on weekdays. It goes to show that when the perceived benefit is strong enough, no normally idealized limitation of the “real world” will hold people back from committing to and doing something.
We already know that attention out, on making the world a better place, is a little known secret path to self improvement and making our own lives a better place. We also know the opposite is true: attention on self, a deliberate unselfish commitment to being the best we can be as individuals is a little known secret path to making the outside world a better place.
What if we did both? Simultaneously. Not limited to one in any moment in the typical binary fashion of going from one extreme to the other the way we as people tend to usually do — in one period working wholeheartedly on self and our own personal lives, then in a sudden “revelation” of guilt over how selfish we’ve been we jump to the other side and sacrifice everything in our personal lives for some bigger world transforming volunteer activity or cause… we all know the drill and how it plays out….
What if instead we do it more elegantly..? Every moment of every day is dedicated to taking care of self, as good stewards taking full responsibility for self and family and friends and community, knowing this is how healthy societies and civilizations thrive, but at the same time we commit to regular shared group gatherings and activities toward bigger goals with the intention to focus our collective attention on making the outside world we live in a better place? And we do it with dedication and commitment, creating a reliable stable reference point that in time is so dependable that it’s downright predictable.
From here the real question, the exciting next question , is what do we want to create? What changes and improvements do we want to see in the world? To start lead captain or lend ourselves to? I can think of many. And I dare say that inherent in the question is an understanding that the answer is not limited to just one.
So last night just before bed, I sat down with the Guild D-15M just to mess around a little with the new open tuning. After a while, I had found something relatively engaging snd began fleshing it out. Knowing full well it’s still in its infancy stage, I thought “you know, people might enjoy seeing a more natural you in your element doing what you do. No lights or cameras or hair or makeup. Just you sitting here at the end of the day fleshing out a new tune….” So I just recorded it with the phone to say hello and good night to folks. The whole time I was playing/writing THIS song, I was thinking about my longtime friend more like a brother Craig Gordon, who’s just been over the top sick for years. These thoughts snd images of him, probably laying in bed, none too happy, were the thematic foundation of the song. Underneath it…. So I started leaning toward titling it “everybody needs a little healing”. Because let’s face it, it’s not just Craig. Somethings changed in our world. Each of us, all of us, have an exorbitant amount of people we know in our personal lives who are “sick” from something now. Friends snd family alike. In this moment. It’s become challenging now, a new challenge, our latest challenge, even if you’re physically challenged by something yourself, or healthy and well, to deal with how many “people who are sick” we know or hear about every day or few days. Hence the title of the song. Craig was the vision floating through my mind as I played and wrote the song. The impetus. He titled it. And yet it was bigger…. Posted the song to the usual places. Was exhausted. Just wanted that bed. And BAM I look at my phone snd there’s this new message. At midnight (which admittedly isn’t strange for ME…) but it’s from Craig, who’s an early bird. “In the ER again now”. I literally dropped the damn phone. Hold on…. I’m writing a song of healing about this poor guy who’s been sick for the last hour, and for the last hour he’s been in the ER?!?! What’s funny is that — and this is another thing that’s changed in our collective reality — this stuff happens to us all the time now. It’s not just daily. It’s several times a day. (I believe, at least in this moment) that as we’ve become more snd more connected socially through technology, it is causing us to become more connected in consciousness. What we used to perhaps call “psychically”. But we don’t need that term anymore. We’re just becoming a lot more connected in consciousness to everyone. Things like ESP or mind reading all seem so 20th century now, because we’ve gone beyond it now. Shooting for something much bigger snd grander. We’re experiencing it NOW. So there’s no need to say “can’t wait to see what it leads to…). It’s happening as we speak, as I type these words…. Craig ole boy, we need you back. NO, we can’t imagine what you’re going through or how tough or challenging it is emotionally or mentally, besides physically. But we can acknowledge it. And we can keep you on our minds 24/7 and send you strength snd support and positivity snd a whole lot of prayers. And we can write soothing songs of love and healing for you. Get well bro. Love you man, E
Have you ever talked about someone or something that you haven’t thought about it in a while and then all of a sudden you see that person or that thing a few minutes or hours or days later? Maybe a friend or a celebrity or an object or product. You have a spontaneous thought about it, and/or talk about it with a friend, and then out of the blue you encounter that same thing in your day to day life without you actually having to do a thing. By various names it could be called instant or immediate or effortless manifestation. You didn’t lift a finger. No effort. It just appeared in your life or line of sight seemingly out of nowhere. Carl Jung referred to this phenomenon as Synchronicity.
Some people who are prone to a more logical pragmatist view of things will rush to dismiss events such as these as “coincidence”. But seeing that we have begun to discover through scientists specializing in physics that there may not be any accidents or coincidences in the universe, especially as it concerns sentient beings or to break it down even further, “consciousness”, we are not going to take the time here to debate the “coincidence versus created” argument. Instead we will continue presupposing that everything that happens to us in our day to day lives happens because WE created it, one way or another, whether consciously or unconsciously.
Besides the fact that science is now discovering and proving this to be true, there is an added bonus to this seemingly miraculous idea: it removes us from feeling like meaningless pinballs in a giant random and chaotic game with no meaning or significance and instead places us in a position of personal responsibility; it takes us out of a tendency toward victimhood and invites us to begin accepting that we may operate at a level with much more control over our reality AND more responsibility for how our day to day lives unfold.
It’s not important how or why we do this — psychic or telekinetic power, a sixth sense, invisible energy waves or particles that we’ve yet to discover. At this point both spiritual masters and scientists are beginning to understand that consciousness i.e. sentient beings, are creating nearly everything that they experience through some sort of power that has heretofore not yet been discovered. This discovery — a burgeoning field in the sciences that is just getting started; a long held belief taken as fact and for granted by spiritualists for tens of thousands of years — doesn’t have any room for coincidences.
What we are interested in here-now is HOW does this instant manifestation aspect of conscious creation take place? Why does it happen with some things and not with others? Why do some things in life seem so easy to create, as if by magic, and other experiences that we wish to create seem to take forever? No matter how much we want them and how long we work on creating them?
Observation: Most outcomes that are desired seem to possess a combination / or a ratio of desire for the outcome and resistance to the opposite of the outcome i.e. “I desire to make a lot of money. I resist not having a lot of money.” The experiences that we seem to create out of thin air with no effort whatsoever usually seem to manifest so easily because at the time that we thought of them or talked about them all we felt in that moment was curiosity and desire, and maybe some excitement and/or enthusiasm. We weren’t feeling any resistance. In fact these things are usually things that we don’t care too much about one way or another. No resistance. But sure enough BAM there it is a few minutes or hours or days later. Somehow we manifested it.
So therein seems to be the key to it. Our passion for it may be strong; or it may be slight. But it doesn’t feel like a matter of life or death to us. We feel the desire and curiosity for it (or why would we be talking about it?) But we possess very little resistance to it. Here we are talking about resistance as “resisting the opposite of what is desired”.
To be clear it is important to note that there is another type of resistance: resistance to what IS desired, (as opposed to “resistance to the opposite of what is desired” as discussed above). i.e. “I desire to make a lot of money. I resist being perceived as a rich arrogant snob.” This is a different kind of resistance. Obviously we have to discreate this resistance, to what is desired, if we ever want to create something desired in the first place. That’s a given; and not even of prime import regarding the subject of this exploration.
But what about the resistance that is simply the inverse of the desire? For example “I resist not having money” — the inverse of the desire to have money. It appears that if there is more free desire coupled with enthusiasm curiosity and excitement, without any attention on or awareness of the resistance portion (“I don’t want to/enjoy/like not having money”) then instant manifestation transpires much easier. As if by magic.
A real world example might look like this: “I don’t feel well. I’m afraid I might be getting sick. I don’t want to get sick.” This is resistance. This is the resistance portion of the desire/resistance ratio. If one is focused on only the resistance aspect of this ratio then they will naturally be attempting to manifest “I don’t want to get sick”. (As opposed to “I want to be healthy”).
Manifesting like this, manifestation from resistance-only is the most challenging and difficult path. The most difficult point of view to create from. We can greatly and immediately increase our potential to manifest by recognizing that we are presently feeling resistance, rather than desire, and attempting to create from that point of view. Then deliberately change our point of view towards the desire side instead i.e. “I want to look and feel healthy and strong.” So we do our best to discreate all of or as much of the resistance portion of our desire as possible; and increase JUST the desire + excitement / enthusiasm / curiosity portion.
If it’s possible it is optimal to only feel the desire side and none of the resistance side. Of course this all depends on what it is that we are trying to create. If it’s something we perceive as being disturbing or frightening or threatening — getting sick and dying, or going broke and having to file bankrupcy– then we may be at first only aware of the resistance we are feeling i.e. “I don’t want to be sick” or “I don’t want to go broke”.
(At this point it is paramount that we remember and acknowledge that WE are the ones creating how we feel and what we feel. We are not victims of what or how we feel. We are the creators of it. As we become more adept at (using whatever tools we have in our toolbox or at our disposal), to deliberately change what and how we feel, it becomes easier and easier to shift our viewpoint from resistance to desire. Especially once 1 – we become used to being able to remember that it is we and only we who are responsible for how and what we feel and 2 – we have the experience a few times of being able to make this shift; once it becomes second nature to us. Soon it becomes effortless, no more difficult than flipping a switch on or off.)
Perhaps there are times in life where we find that certain things (experiences) render it nearly impossible for us to completely discreate the resistance portion of our desire. We find that we just cannot discreate the resistance 100%. That’s okay. The key is to increase the desire portion as much as possible while simultaneously decreasing the resistance, i.e. we deliberately shift our attention from “I don’t want to be sick” to “I really want / would love to feel healthy and strong, vibrant and powerful.” The resistance is still there.
(Again this is not a given. There is no rule that says that we HAVE to feel resistance. No matter what we are talking about. How much resistance we feel towards anything is up to us. A combination of nature and nurture (how and where and by whom we were raised, and genetics), past experience (how much or how little experience we have with what is desired or resisted (and how we perceived and processed it), inner power, strength of will, practice (based on past experience), self discipline (how adept we are at deliberately controlling our attention thoughts or feelings), and most importantly our own personal set of beliefs about whatever it is that we are desiring or resisting. (None of us feel the same level of desire or resistance for the same things (experiences) in life. That’s up to us, up to each individual.
Some people perhaps have no resistance to being sick. When they were sick as children for example their mom let them stay home from school for a few days, tucked them into bed and made them chicken noodle soup and pampered them. So feeling sick may be a drag. But they view it as “a good opportunity to get some rest”.))
For someone in the above example there is no reason (no universal law written in stone) that they need to feel ANY resistance at all if they want to create feeling well. They can if they so choose immediately shift their attention to 100% desire to feeling well, to something like “being sick is no big deal but to be honest today I really just want to feel strong and healthy”. Total desire. No resistance to being sick. Just a strong desire to be healthy.
This is optimal. We’re making note of it here because it’s important to acknowledge that resistance is not mandatory. We’re not obligated to feel it or operate from it. If you don’t feel any, don’t go looking for it. If it’s not there then it’s not there. Getting to the level of being able to easily shift from resistance to something to feeling desire for the opposite of that same thing is the key.
But what about those cases mentioned above where no matter how hard we try we just can’t seem to be able to shift 100% of our attention from the resistance portion. One of those things (experiences) that we find disturbing challenging frightening or threatening. In these cases the key is to just try to flip the scale as much toward the desire side as possible. Increase the desire to resistance ratio.
It’s important to note that getting rid of the resistance portion completely is not essential. If it’s there, it’s there. Acknowledge it. Discreate it or as much of it as you can. (Again, by using whatever tools you’ve learned and find work best for you. It could be Avatar — this is what I personally find works best for me, or meditation or yoga or NLP or the Sedona Method / Release Technique or an immersion/abstinence technique or creative visualization or affirmations or even prayer.)
Then start deliberately increasing the desire portion (feeling desire for the opposite of whatever you are resisting), and then in addition add some curiosity (“hhhmmmm why have I created getting sick? Isn’t that interesting? I wonder how fast I can create getting well again?”), then some excitement and enthusiasm (“Wow I can’t wait to feel strong and healthy! That’s going to be awesome! Gosh think of all the cool things I could do as soon as I feel strong and healthy!”)
Now you’ve flipped the scale towards feeling much more desire for what you want rather than feeling resistance towards what you don’t want (it’s opposite or inverse). From that viewpoint it appears that instant manifestation becomes very easy. To the point where all we have to do is think about something, or talk about it, and BAM we see it manifest.
(Consider the case where someone is feeling a little under the weather and they just casually remark “I’m sure I’ll feel better tomorrow. I always do”. And sure enough they do. Why? Because there was very little attention on resisting anything. Instead they just have a desire to be well.)
Next time you find yourself experiencing one of those “coincidental events” where something or someone that you’ve just thought about or talked about mysteriously appears, acknowledge it and immediately try to remember what and how you were feeling when you were last talking or thinking about it. Make note of it. Chances are it will fit this mold explored and discussed above. By applying these observations to bigger things, experiences or desired outcomes that we deem to be “very important” to us, we can greatly increase our ability to manifest them.
– Posted by The Ambassador using BlogPress on an iPhone
One year, Princess Little Tree had made me a photo album for Valentines Day. it was filled with photos of her since she was a child all the way up to present day. I must say that I have received so many amazing valentines day presents in my life that I could never possibly qualify or compare them. I have been so lucky in this, in love, I have been truly blessed in this life. But this gift. Wow what a gift. I won’t say that it is the most special vd gift I have ever received but in this moment it feels like it is. and that’s the way life is. each current moment seeming the most important, the most special. That is part of present-moment-human-consciousness. [unless one is stuck in remembering… in which case the past always seems the most special or the most important. Or unless someone is a dreamer and just always thinks the future is going to be more important or more special….] But for me, my brain just always feels like NOW is IT. It is how we process things in the human mind. For better or worse. Would love one day to have more of a holistic view of things… and I bet that as the years collect, this is what we acquire. And I bet that this is what we call wisdom…
So I sit and I look at all the wonderful pictures in the album and I get to know the Princess more deeply and intimately. Many make me smile or laugh or cry… and that’s the way love is. and that’s a beautiful thing. But there is a moment in the album when it gets to her when she is pregnant for the first time… and I cannot describe the reaction it creates in me. for weeks I have struggled with these pages. I look at them and smile and enjoy the learning… but I notice my body tense up and react with unbearable anger and resistance.
Went to the dinosaur museum today for a few hours. There is something there we are not getting yet. the earth without man? Or man’s consciousness? The entire world and whole universe without intelligent consciousness? Frankly I don’t believe it. call me anthropomorphic, or whatever that word is that defines when people project humanity onto everything, but I do not believe that there was a time when WE, human consciousness, were never on the earth, or in the universe. Period. I just don’t believe it.
I will never forget the moment when I first discovered it. I was in deep meditation, or tripping on acid, can’t remember, about fifteen years ago. Sitting on the floor of my bedroom as a teenager. Scattered about my room were many books. Mostly on science and religions at the time. in my meditative state I had opened my eyes for a moment and happened upon a picture in one of the books of some dinosaurs. I went back into meditation and had this realization that there was no way that the world was spinning on without our consciousness, as we are told about times during the dinosaur periods. There was only one logical explanation for the quandary: that we were actually dinosaurs, in dinosaur form, before we were in human form. Our consciousness was at least. I just sat in this understanding for a while and tried to imagine what life was like back then for us.
Since we invented the concept of God, then the theory that we weren’t around for hundreds of millions of years and yet other living beings were, like the dinosaurs, is like admitting that God wasn’t around, and therefore didn’t create the universe at all. unless we are to believe that the dinosaurs were intelligent life. which most people don’t. But I would argue with them on that point. I’ve said before and I will say it again and one day it will probably come to pass that a very smart scientist living God knows where will get the credit for “discovering” or “inventing” the theory that we, human consciousness, were actually dinosaurs for hundreds of millions of years before we became extinct and then re-evolved as humans in our current form.
After all, try to imagine a universe without our ‘consciousness’ existing in it, without ‘intelligent life’ in it. impossible yes? exactly. precisely. Indubitably. The truth is that we at one point came to exist on earth, were birthed in the great universe at that point in time, as dinosaurs, because that is the form we needed to take at that time because of the environment of the earth. We could not have existed as humans at that time. So are we to believe that intelligent life did not exist at all in the entire universe? Hardly. We just didn’t exist in our human form that we now exist as. But we certainly did exist. Intelligent life must have certainly existed, since time began I would assert, and since we are the only intelligent life we know of on the earth and throughout the history of the universe, at least we tell ourselves that we are at this point, then why not assume that we took the most practical physical form necessary for our survival at that time? I am surprised that no psychics have ever gone into trance to vibe into the whole dinosaur consciousness to get a better feel for what we thought and felt during those times. and I am even more surprised that no scientists have discovered or postulated this theory as of yet.
After all, where the hell was consciousness, as we know it, the collective consciousness of all that is, during the hundreds of millions of years that the dinosaurs roamed the earth and humans as they are now didn’t roam the earth? could it be that there was no collective consciousness during this time? certainly not. I believe, I feel that it could be quite possible, that we have always been a part of the universe. Since the universe first formed we have been a part of it, existed in it and existed as it, as a part of it. Not only in the universe, but of the universe. And more, I would easily feel at ease with admitting that I believe that we are part of the God force that we still relegate to being separate from us. being gods ourselves, or better, being each of us a part of the God-force, that creates and sustains life in the universe, I would say that it is an impossible theory to even promote for an instant that there was ever a time when the universe ever existed without consciousness in it, our consciousness, godly collective and creative consciousness. Therefore the only thing left to believe is that we first came to the earth as the earliest forms of life that there ever were, perhaps even single celled organisms, then we eventually evolved into aquatic animals, eventually made our way to land and became dinosaurs for as long a time as that form served us, and then became extinct only to re-evolve as upright walking hominids as we are today.
I guess the most important point of this would be to understand that human history does not begin four million years ago when we assume that we first appeared on the planet. We have been here much longer in other forms, as other species entirely. interestingly, perhaps consciousness itself has evolved along the same lines as our physical evolvement. Must be. so when we are searching for signs of modern man’s thinking we have it all wrong. because we weren’t modern man back then. we were modern dinosaurs. Consciousness existed, in as much as it was necessary to exist at that time, just not as human consciousness. But it was still consciousness. Are we then to believe that consciousness as we now define the word today did not exist on planet earth or in the universe until we arrived? As if God/Us created the world fifteen billion years ago, as is presently accepted, but then waited till just the last four million years to create “intelligent life (human beings)?” I would think not. Makes no sense does it? what was God doing? Just chilling by himself? No, again, I would think not. I would say that WE are that God- force and we have existed in whatever form was most suitable to the environment of the world since time began.
Put that way, it seems easy enough to understand, on a purely metaphysical level of course. I am not saying that the human body as it is today, the primate form, evolved directly from the dinosaurs in a strictly evolutionary way. This would be a ridiculous notion. To gather that would be to get it all wrong. I am saying that at some point dinosaurs became extinct, but intelligent consciousness did not. It just reappeared in the human form that we presently attribute to “mankind.” Before this form, our consciousness must have occupied some organic form here on earth and I would guess that it would have been the dinosaurs since that was the dominant species on the planet for so many millions of years. One would have to assume a belief in consciousness as something that exists separate from just our human form. One would have to assume a belief in consciousness as a creative force at work and play in the universe, a God-force I guess. Something that is always present and has always been present since time began.
More later. still postulating. Fascinating stuff though.