Echoes of Perception
Author: Martin Morrison
An unquenchable thirst for knowledge
“Who am I?” and “Why am I here?” are possibly the two oldest questions that human beings have ever asked. We have been grappling with life, the universe and everything almost since the beginning of our time.
Our hunger to understand the movements of the planets, the changes of the seasons and whether or not the body and soul are one or two separate entities are just some of the questions that have kept scientists, philosophers and mystics busy researching, experimenting, discussing and debating.
What is knowledge?
“I think. Therefore, I am.” Right? If it’s good enough for Descartes, it’s good enough for me. Sometimes we are adamant we know something, but we can’t prove it to anybody else. We have dreams that seem so real while we are in them, but no trace of them remains once we have woken up. Does that mean dreams are not true? Surely, they represent some kind of truth. What is true is that we experience them.
The scientific method has brought us a long way. Not only have we gained greater understanding of the way the world is, we have learnt to harness its forces and to create all kinds of things. But in the end, the answers we gain from our scientific endeavours only lead to more questions. And that’s where we go full circle. We end up back where we started: who am I, and why am I here?
At the centre of the big questions is consciousness. We cannot see consciousness, and yet we are conscious. We cannot see other people’s consciousness, but they can share their experiences. Therefore, whereas any serious discussion around the nature of gravity or heat or energy will revolve around the things we can observe – the apple falling from the tree, water coming to the boil, or steam driving a turbine – any proper conversation about consciousness needs to be concerned with experience.
One collective consciousness, many individual souls or none of the above?
This is a key question. When we hear the language of spiritualists and many of the world’s religions, there is an assumption that each of us is a self-contained unit of consciousness, a soul, which is accountable for its actions. However, when we try to pin down the self, we come across obstacles.
Our bodies are in a constant state of change and eventually all bodies die, so clearly, none of us can say we are the body. Likewise, our minds can be changed significantly because of life events that have a major impact on our psyche or because of brain injury. Head injuries often bring about profound changes in personality. So, it is fair to say we are not the mind.
If we are not the mind and we are not the body, what are we?
Practitioners of meditation often report feelings of being part of something much bigger than themselves while they are meditating and of feeling more connected and in harmony with other living beings after a meditation session. Buddhists speak of a state of no-mind, a purer state of awareness which transcends our thoughts, memories, habits and emotions. And they speak of a concept of no-self – again pointing to a state of being aware without being attached to any particular sense of identity.
Biologists tell us that consciousness is a phenomenon which arises from brain activity, that when the brain dies, so does consciousness – there is no separate soul that inhabits the body or moves on after the body’s death. Advocates of artificial intelligence believe that programming will advance to the level that machines will develop consciousness.
Human experience: spirits, mediums and psychics
Human experience is the stuff of consciousness. If we are to explore the nature of consciousness, then we need to look at experience. Those who support the idea of individual souls will point to well-documented psychic phenomena as evidence.
While the majority of stories about ghosts, poltergeists, mediums and psychics are usually easy to pull apart, there are isolated yet profound exceptions that leave even the most cynical scientists scratching their heads and wondering what’s gone on. Therefore, for the sake of discussion, let’s suppose that some of these incidents are genuine.
How would we explain some of the more mystical psychic experiences within the wider context of consciousness, and do these phenomena lead us to conclude that the psychical world comprises countless individual souls or are we all reflections of one collective consciousness?
Can a cloth cap have a ghost?
Many reports of spirits include beings from another time or place being fully clothed or having other objects with them such as walking sticks or cloth caps, and some even report seeing other aspects of the ghost’s environment coming through – horse and cart, steam trains or other indications of bygone days. How can we explain this?
Sometimes we say life is hard, and it would be much better if we were born as a cat, dog or some other animal that does not have problems and worries in its simple life. Still, if we really had that opportunity, very few of us would actually accept it. We admire our minds and appreciate our self-awareness greatly.
But what is self-awareness in the first place?
It is the capacity of an individual to recognize oneself as a separate entity, distinct from the environment and other individuals. While consciousness means to be aware of the environment, self-awareness purports the individual’s ability to fully comprehend their permanent self and the environment.
It is worth noting that some sources make a distinction between the terms self-awareness and self-consciousness, where the latter is defined as the capacity of the individual to see oneself not only as a separate being, as seen from a first-person view, but to understand that other beings are also aware of them. However, self-awareness and self-consciousness are used as synonyms in this article.
While consciousness means to be aware of the environment, self-awareness purports the individual’s ability to fully comprehend their permanent self and the environment.
Number of Living Beings
Think about this: What is the chance of existing as a self-conscious being, among countless other living entities? Can you get an even slightest idea of how many other beings exist in the universe (or maybe multiverse), and how enormous that number is, even compared to 7.2 billion humans currently living on earth?
Animals, plants, bacteria, viruses… they are all conscious to some degree, meaning, aware of their surroundings. And considering the vastness of space of the cosmos, the number of living creatures with some level of consciousness is truly incomprehensible.
Let us see what would be that number for this planet only. According to some estimates, the total number of prokaryotes (e.g., bacteria) on earth is 5 x 1030 (five billion billion trillion), which is 5 followed by 30 zeros. This is just a rough estimate. As the biomass of all other species is by several orders of magnitude smaller, we could assume that this number covers the vast majority of biomass on earth, including oceans.
The number of living creatures with some level of consciousness is truly incomprehensible.
What is Consciousness?
To discuss the great mystery of gaps in consciousness and their meaning, we should define what is consciousness in the first place. Most of the scientific authorities agree it is a state of awareness of one’s environment and an ability to respond to various external stimuli. In a broader sense, we can even include awareness of self, which implies the state of being self-conscious.
From a spiritual point of view, consciousness is impersonal and inherently independent of mind, body, matter, energy, space and time. Related to that, consciousness can be unlimited, which is its true nature, or seemingly limited.
Unlimited consciousness is actually the Primordial Oneness, infinite, omnipresent, eternal, without any boundaries of mind, space and time.
On the other hand, limited consciousness is apparently constricted to the dynamic points of view. The word “dynamic” here indicates moving by the limitations of space and time. We, as conscious beings, or any other conscious entities, are examples of limited consciousness.
Indeed, during our wakeful time, our consciousness is severely confined by space-time. So, by the gaps in consciousness, we mean discontinuities in the stream of limited consciousness, with no memories of these periods whatsoever.
By the gaps in consciousness, we mean discontinuities in the stream of limited consciousness, with no memories of these periods whatsoever.
Continuity and Discontinuity of Consciousness
The discontinuous nature of our everyday consciousness is evident. Indeed, there are many gaps in our awareness. For example, we sleep regularly, and the state of deep sleep naturally interrupts our conscious presence. There are also other states of mind in which we are not aware at all – coma, vegetative state, anesthesia, etc.
Note that in our awake time there are many smaller and unnoticeable discontinuities of our awareness during so-called visual saccades (quick movements of eyes between phases of fixation in the same direction) when our conscious responsiveness is turned off. Nevertheless, these small but frequent blackouts are very hard to notice, and there is always a pretty firm notion of the continuity in awareness.
What happens with consciousness during all these discontinuities? Does it simply disappear, or something happens but we don’t retain any memory of that?
Windows to Oneness
Consciousness cannot be absent. It cannot disappear. It cannot be annihilated as it is present everywhere, in everything. It is impossible for us to become nothingness in the nihilistic sense if something conscious is already there. That’s why those continuity gaps are, in fact, windows to the higher levels of our existence or even to the Primordial Oneness. And those discontinuities are persistently repetitive.
From the point of view of our limited minds, during the continuity gaps such as deep sleep, there is no consciousness, no time, so we merely jump on to the next period of being conscious.
From a broader perspective, the gaps are only occurring from the vantage point of our limited consciousness, not within the unlimited consciousness. As said before, consciousness cannot ever be absent, anywhere. So, in these periods, our limited point of view shifts to its background consciousness, or “ancestral consciousness.” Our limited, individual consciousness becomes one with the much broader consciousness of our Soul, which is aware of many other lives or existences which we can consider as “ours,” and the continued conscious existence between these lives.
To be more precise, during our continuity gaps, we experience all other lives or continual points of view of our higher-level ancestral being, or our Soul. But there is no memory of that when we awaken to the normal state of consciousness.
During our continuity gaps, we experience all other lives or continual points of view of our higher-level ancestral being, or our Soul. But there is no memory of that when we awaken to the normal state of consciousness.
Beings at All Levels of Existence Also Experience Discontinuities
Our Higher Self, or Soul, despite its much broader vantage point, is also a limited entity. Therefore, it must have analogous gaps in their consciousness’ continuity.
Similar to our everyday life, from the point of view of our Higher Self, there are no discontinuities in consciousness at all. Our Soul merely skips the time of the gap.
But, from an even broader perspective, there are such periods of our Soul’s life. In those interruptions, the Infinite Consciousness experiences the conscious time of an even higher-level ancestral being (higher Soul). Still, there is no memory of these experiences.
How many higher levels of our existence are there? It’s a mystery. However, the Primordial Oneness is the highest level of consciousness, and it experiences all at once, outside of space-time continuum and has the knowledge of everything and everyone.
In those discontinuities of the stream of consciousness, our individual point of view, regardless its level, sometimes completely dissolves and our consciousness even merges with the Unlimited Consciousness, the Primordial Oneness. That consciousness experiences everything and anything instantly, in no time and no space. Therefore, it knows everything; it takes all possible points of view in all universes ever. This is the most natural state of Being. Hence, during the continuity gaps we are not staring the face of God – in fact, we are becoming God, or the Primordial Oneness.
During some of those gaps, the Unlimited Consciousness, or Primordial Oneness, experiences all the lives of all conscious entities, including their past and future span, within the entirety of Existence. In all of those lives, similar continuity gaps are also happening myriads of times, which also allow experiences of all other existences, including this one. Yet, there is no memory of that when we awaken.
During these discontinuities we are not staring the face of God – in fact, we are becoming God, or the Primordial Oneness.
The Memory as the Key to Individual Life
Our consciousness is constricted to this specific point of view of this concrete person. It depends on time and memory. Since there is no time during these gaps, there could be no memory of any experience within the gaps. The individual life continues as there are no memories of other points of view which were experienced. The only memory present in the normal state of consciousness is that of this particular individual existence. So, there is an absolute impression of our personal continuity.
We, as God, or the Primordial Oneness, are experiencing all other points of view in all universes during the continuity gaps. Every one of us, as a particular being, seemingly experiences a continuous lifetime because of the lack of memory of neither of those lifetimes.
That’s why the gaps in the apparent stream of our everyday consciousness are critical. From “time” to “time,” we return to our creator, become one with Him or Her, and deeply refresh and re-vitalize our illusionary existence. These discontinuities are not only inevitable; they are essential for our life and spiritual growth.
Life is a mystery and most of us are from time to time fascinated by that mystery. Unfortunately, many people come across the fundamental questions of life after periods of hardships and suffering. They inevitably pose questions like ‘Why is life so tough?’ or ‘Why should we live such a painful existence here on Earth?’
On the other hand, we are all curious beings. Some people get to similar questions through sheer curiosity. “Who am I?” “Why do I exist at all?” “Why there is something rather than nothing?” “Is there a creator of this world?” These and similar questions can shake the core of our beings.
Here are some answers to most of those fundamental questions. I hope you will find that this quest for finding the ultimate answers is not pretentious, presumptuous or a kind of ego-play.
Additionally, I am sure that these answers are limited by the mind’s natural inability to experience the Truth (including, of course, my own mind). Also, any intention to express a deep idea or concept could be severely damaged by the natural inadequateness of language.
Therefore, some of the concepts and ideas expressed in this article I tried to convey through analogies. In fact, all these ideas are analogies. They can only point to the Truth, as they are certainly not the Truth itself.
Who or What is God?
Over the centuries, the word “God” has been charged with many negative or conflicting meanings, so I will try to use other terms, such as “Primordial Oneness,” “Being,” or “the Source.” Consequently, I will use the pronoun “it,” with no intention to derogate God’s existence and innate attributes.
The Source is beyond any mind concept. Thus, everything we think or write on it is inaccurate and insufficient.
As the Primordial Oneness is beyond any comprehension, we can talk about it only through analogies and symbols, so we might get merely a vague sense of its main attributes.
Primordial Oneness is the source of everything. It is infinitely greater than everything and yet infinitely lesser than nothing.
It is the only True Reality, True Existence.
Once again, its nature is Oneness. As this universe is founded on apparent separation, anything or anyone in it cannot truly experience the presence of the Source, except when all the physical, emotional and mental senses and activities are completely transcended.
Yet, the Source is present everywhere and is the only foundation of this apparent existence. It subtly and invisibly carries and transforms all beings, things or activities. We can get a glimpse of that process and be an active part of it only if we are in the state of Pure awareness, or Presence.
Primordial Oneness is the source of everything. It is the only True Reality, True Existence.
Primordial Oneness is omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotent.
It is omniscient because it’s beyond space and time, beyond any subject-object relation. Acquiring any information or knowledge is characteristic of the spacetime continuum. As the Source is beyond it, it knows everything instantly. This kind of knowledge is the only natural kind of knowledge. On the other hand, our type of knowledge is restricted to the process of acquiring information within many limitations imposed by the nature of space-time.
It is omnipresent simply because it’s beyond space, time, matter and energy. It doesn’t have any limitations of physical laws or any other rules.
It is omnipotent as it is the only true reality. It is the source of every single matter/energy entity and also of every single action, deed or activity. However, it expresses its omnipotence subtly and invisibly to our limited senses of perception. Big and visible miracles are extremely rare, but in fact, subtle and invisible miracles are present everywhere and are happening all the time.
The Primordial Oneness is in us. As it is the source of Love, Joy, and Peace, our true Essence is actually the Primordial Oneness and we can only find it within ourselves. Love, Joy, and Peace are its signposts.
The “I” has to leave. Then, what has left is the Source.
In the meantime, this was an answer to another big question: does God exist? Although the answer depends on the definition of God in the first place, the final answer undoubtedly is “Yes.” God does exist, maybe not in a religious sense of a “personal” God, but there is God, as the Source of everything that exists, inside and beyond everything.
Why There Is Something Rather Than Nothing?
In the beginning, there was only Oneness (God, Emptiness, Nothingness, Source, True Reality…).
From the point of view of our limited minds, the primordial Oneness could only exist in some sort of eternal space and time continuum, as we cannot otherwise comprehend any existence. That being said, the mathematics of infinite numbers says that if anything exists within infinite space and infinite time span, there is a 100% chance for any change, disturbance or imperfection to occur, as there are no laws or limitations which could prevent such an occurrence.
That disturbance was the primordial polarity which was the beginning of this whole world. In accordance with that logic, there is a 100% chance to have an infinite number of varieties of imperfections or disturbances in that Oneness, and, subsequently, we might say that there are infinite worlds with infinite varieties of laws out there.
Again, “within” the Primordial Oneness there were no physical laws or any other limitations at all. Since there were no limitations, anything could “happen,” so the Creation of this and many other universes has happened and is still happening (if we can use this term whatsoever).
Yet, from the point of view of our limited mind, the eternal emergence of the primordial polarities is a whim of God.
Why Do I Exist?
In order to experience itself, Primordial Oneness has apparently separated itself into myriads of dynamic, yet limited viewpoints, each of them having the experience of “I” and “not-I.”
So, the primordial polarity has emerged out of Primordial Oneness: “I” and “not-I.”
 The section “Why Do I Exist?” is actually part of my article “A New View on Fine-Tuning of the Universe”
These two primordial entities were only conscious of the opposite entity. “I” was conscious of the existence of “not-I,” while “not-I” (that was experiencing itself as “I”) was conscious of the other polarity.
As Oneness is inherently indivisible and cannot really split itself into something, these apparent entities were, in fact, the Oneness itself. Consequently, each had complete information on its opposite, as it was inherently whole and one with it and with Oneness.
The primordial “I” was a simple entity, without any measures or qualities. It could be compared only to the “not-I.” Correspondingly, the “not-I” was also simple and without any inherent qualities. It also had a simple consciousness of the existence of the first entity (“the I”), which was, in fact, the “not-I” to that (“second”) entity.
Then, these two polarities divided themselves again. Each of these new entities was a new “I,” and the three others were the “not-I” to that entity. The composition of that “not-I” was, in fact, a primordial structure of the external world to “I,” with its simple “laws” of the world. These “laws” were their simple interactions that became habitual.
 As this is obviously the universe of polarities, which is visible on all levels of existence, the first apparent existence was the primordial polarity. It seems that Oneness in this universe tends to “divide” into pairs (rather than triads, for example), so it is the nature of all subsequent entities.
All entities tend to either divide themselves into pairs or merge into one entity.
Once again, as it is impossible to divide the Oneness, all its apparent “entities” or offspring are still the Oneness itself, the Oneness that is, say, “shrunk down” to a seemingly limited size. As each of them is the Primordial Oneness itself, we can say that it’s the holographic principle in action. That’s why every “I” has a complete information on the corresponding “not-I” or the rest of its world, and the other way around.
These entities are continuing to divide themselves an enormous number of times. The evolution continues.
A New View on Fine-Tuning of the Universe (With Some Practical Implications for Our Lives)
There’s no law of physics that hasn’t been transcended. In the end, the only law is that there is no law. - John Wheeler, theoretical physicist
Modern science has reached the point where it is inquiring the very foundations of the universe. Was it created by a conscious creator? Or did it simply pop out from nothingness, by a mere chance?
There are countless debates now whether the physical laws of the universe are finely tuned to support biological life or not. There is a good reason for that: they indeed seem to be tweaked for life.
As you probably know, many laws of physics are deeply dependent on various constant numbers that are parts of equations describing these laws. Those numbers are called the universal constants – the speed of light (c), gravitational constant (G), electric constant (ε0), Planck's constant (ħ), the mass of an electron (me), two parameters of the Higgs field potential, etc. Moreover, there are also even more fundamental constants that are dimensionless (i.e. not dependent on the unit system used to express the quantity). Those are, for example, the fine-structure constant (α), which defines the strength of the electromagnetic interaction between elementary charged particles, or proton-to-electron mass ratio, or the cosmological constant, which is the density of dark energy in the universe, and so on.
There is a strong notion among scientists, backed by many extrapolations, that if any of these universal constants were only slightly different, the Universe wouldn’t be supportive of any kind of biological life. For example, if the gravitational constant were smaller, the stars couldn’t be formed. If it were too large, the stars couldn’t survive or their life span would be much shorter, so in either case, life wouldn’t be possible. Similar conclusions can be deduced for all other universal constants.
If any of these universal constants were only slightly different, the Universe wouldn’t be supportive of any kind of biological life.
One of the solutions could be that we live in a multiverse, consisting of a huge or even infinite number of universes, each having different internal laws of physics.
Hence, the possibility of the emergence of a universe out of nothing, which is suitable for biological life and/or development of conscious beings, is practically equal to zero. There must be a conscious creator of this world.
Or is it so?
One of the solutions could be that we live in a multiverse, consisting of a huge or even infinite number of universes, each having different internal laws of physics.
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