twist in the tail

the awareness continuum, diagram by S R Schwarz Whatever we look at through 'wave-type' spectacles seems smooth and seamless. Whatever we look at through 'particle-type' spectacles seems lumpy, bumpy and jagged. The wave/particle dualism is an issue and an opportunity for quantum physicists, cosmologists and other horse-thieves.

Wearing wave-type spectacles, look at the awareness continuum diagram above. The diagram shows (I hope) the relative 'awareness' of species vs species, organism vs organism. (Let's put aside for the moment the issue of what 'awareness' actually means.) In the diagram, there are no beginnings and no ends to awareness. This could be true under any one of three mutually exclusive hypotheses:

  1. The awareness continuum (AC) is infinite. It extends beyond zero into the terrain of everything that isn’t. It extends to (but not beyond) infinity and therefore incorporates the All, the whole of Reality, Everything That Is (ETI) .

    Beyond zero lies negative consciousness, whatever that ismight be. Beyond infinity lies nothing. Or, put it another way, nothing lies beyond infinity. Which seems to imply that at least one thing --- nothing itself --- lies beyond infinity. Hypothesis 1 is paradoxical.

  2. The AC extends towards the singularities at each end of itself, but never actually gets there --- an infinite journey, with upper and lower bounds. Hypothesis 2 seems fiendishly complex, but at least conceptually workable.

  3. The AC is a loop, not a line, though I'm at a loss to even imagine how this might work. The implication is that there is a singularity somewhere in the loop, where zero awareness meets infinite awareness. Hypothesis 3 is unimaginable, at least by me.
Moving right along, the diagram suggests that a lump of rock has a 'non-zero' quantum of awareness. "That's just plain crap," I hear you say, "a lump of rock is not in the slightest bit aware." Maybe. But that's just one way of looking at it. Another is to contextualise the statement within a conversation that recognises all language statements are metaphoric. In that conversation it can be truthfully and validly stated that existence itself is analogous to awareness.

Slightly more aware than a politician is a prion --- an evil little protein responsible for mad cow disease, scrapie in sheep, and Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease in humans. Prions are considered to be not-alive, or at least less alive than viruses (considered to be borderline).

Moving along the continuum we see a distinction has been made between so-called 'smaller-brained' and 'larger-brained' animals. Note that if the capacity to love unconditionally is a sign of enlightenment, then many if not most non-human animals are more enlightened than many if not most humans, larger-brained or otherwise.

One of the inadequacies of the above Diagram is that it fails to account for the difference between being self-aware and being aware of other selves. Self-awareness can be an obstacle to 'psycho-spiritual' growth because it provides a home for the brute ego, bless him. And don't think humans are not brutes. Pretty much everything we meet or eat is far less self-aware than we are.

Another inadequacy of the Diagram is that it fails to account for the difference between flesh and spirit, matter and energy. Which brings us to the complex and messy issue of 'dualism'. According to dualists, there is a fundamental difference between flesh and spirit, matter and energy. Dualists hold that "flesh is flesh, and spirit is spirit, and ne're the twain shall meet".

Opposed to dualism are many schools of thought including those that hold that everything is matter, and those that hold that everything is awareness / consciousness / energy / force / spirit / mind.

But IMHO the nature of Reality is not dual, but rather infinite. There are not just two bucket-like categories for things to fall into, but rather a gradation --- a continuum, a spectrum of qualities and combinations of qualities such as matter and energy and whatever else is fundamental. And emphasising the strong possibility that there are more than just the two categories/dimensions --- matter and energy --- that we currently know of.

In the 'bucket-less' view, the continuum view, nothing is either completely matter or completely energy. Rather, everything is a combination of matter and energy and whatever else in varying gradations, proportions and qualities. There is no "either-or" but rather a multitude of "yes, and's" (?! plural problems).

As a partial and temporary substitute for the awareness-continuum diagram, therefore, is that pictured at right. oroborosThe Oroboros is an ancient symbol of broad currency. Where the tail goes into the mouth is the point where pure spirit transcends/enfolds pure matter. From that point moving anti-clockwise (pink), things get less and less material, more and more immaterial (='spiritual' ?). Moving clockwise (yellow), things become less and less immaterial, more and more material. The pink and yellow movements are in opposite directions to each other. [The ideas expressed in this paragraph are not original to me, but for the life of me i can't remember where I read them; apologies for lack of proper attribution.]

Of course it gets a bit more interesting if you twist it up a little. Just one twist turns it from a two-sided into a one-sided object --- topologically, Möbius loop --- on which somewhere the pink and yellow arrows must meet.

Where has the other side gone? To the great string theory in the sky!

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Nessa said...

My awareness is tired. I have to read this again when I am on a different continuum.

masterymistery said...

OK, but please make sure you do continue 'em. ;-)

mgeorge said...

Here is something on consciousness outside our ken:

The page may go behind a paywall after a few days.

masterymistery said...

mgeorge, thanks for the link. Looks interesting -- I have a blind spot re plants that I'm working on fixing. Have a greaT day.