Tuesday, April 1, 2014

THE TIMELESS IN YOU---AND THE DEATH OF MATERIALISM

Yet the timeless in you is aware of life's timelessness,
And knows that yesterday is but today’s memory and
tomorrow is today's dream.
And that that which sings and contemplates in you is still
dwelling within the bounds of that first moment which
scattered the stars into space.
  ---Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet.


Kahlil Gibran [pictured right] speaks of the ‘timeless,’ but what is that? Well, there is a state of mind or consciousness that is timeless in the sense of being beyond time. This timeless state is more than a state of mind for in a very real sense it is a state of ‘no-mind’ or ‘no-mindedness.’ The mind dwells on nothing, stops on nothing. It just is. The mind has even gone beyond awareness---that is, awareness of ‘things’ as such---although there is an awareness of awareness itself. Gibran refers to this awareness as ‘that which sings and contemplates in you.’ It is the self-knowing mind out of which all things came, that which fashioned and brought matter into existence. It still does. The mind that is aware that it is aware is the self-knowing, creative mind. It observes, explores, but never stays or stops. Some call this ‘Presence’ the Eternal Now, and that is not a bad turn of phrase at all.

Time is a scale we have created to ‘divide’ the occurrence of happenings into so-called past, present, and future. At best it is not a thing in itself (like a flower or a bus is a thing) but rather a medium in which all things exist and have their being. Space and time---they're really one---are largely 'tools' of the mind, with time in particular being a most ‘relative’ construct. The truth is we live both in time and eternity.

Eternity is a big word. Christian preachers talk about eternity as if it were something we ‘enter’ when we die, but the truth is we are ‘in’ (that is, immersed) in eternity right now. In a sense, we live out our existence in both time and eternity. For the most part, the difference lies in the quality of life being experienced by us. For example, when we are anxiously waiting for the expected occurrence of some future event we are existing---note, I didn’t say living---in time. When we are bound up in attachments and addictions we are also existing in time. But when we are truly and fully present in the Now, then we are living---yes, living---in eternity. Wow! What a difference there is!

Life is ceaseless movement and constant flux even though in and of itself life is timeless and spaceless and unchanging. Unchanging, yet forever changing. Nothing moves yet nothing stands still. What a paradox! Everything---and I mean every thing---is contained within ‘the Now.’ All time is total and complete---that is, has its fulfilment---in the Now. There is an eternal quality about the Now, for the Now is forever new. What we somewhat ambiguously call ‘the present’ is simply that content---occurrences, both internal and external, in space-time---which presents itself before us in consciousness in and as the Now. That is why Gibran speaks about the present embracing the past, the so-called present, and the future. The Eternal Now is that ‘present’---yes, it's a problematic word---which is forever renewing and re-presenting itself in and as each new moment. This Eternity supersedes time itself. In other words, there is a ‘present’ beyond the ‘present,’ but if you try to 'chase' the next present you will fail. Everything is---here now! Life is eternal, and we are in eternity now. Few people know that. Few people are truly alive. Most lead ‘lives of quiet desperation’ (to use Thoreau’s turn of phrase).

If quantum mechanics has shown us anything---and it has shown us plenty---it has shown that consciousness or mind is fundamental, eternal and all-creative, and that what we call mass, together with what we refer to as matter, is derivative, being constructed wholly from the interactions between massless---yes, that’s right, massless---elementary particles. Those massless elementary particles constitute the ‘innerness’ of all physical things, even so-called inert matter. I am not referring to some omnipotent creator God prior to and 'above' (whatever that means) time. Quantum mechanics appears to provide no support for any such hypothesis or religious belief, but it does provide enormous support for the proposition that mind or consciousness is both fundamental and all-pervasive, that is, that mind or consciousness constitutes the fundamental undifferentiated nature of reality.

So-called matter is a derived aspect of a process of reality that is, in essence, insubstantial. That seems to be where the discoveries of quantum mechanics are leading us, and it is all very exciting. The philosophy of materialism (or 'physicalism'), in its traditional and uncompromising strictness, with its central notion of the existence of solid material stuff independent of mind, is now a very damaged philosophical and metaphysical position. One might even say ‘discredited’ or ‘demolished,’ but I am trying to be kind. You see, I am still an Andersonian realist when it comes to teaching the law and logic, especially when explaining to my students what are 'facts' (namely, occurrences in space-time) and how facts are related to other facts (that is, facts always exist in spatio-temporal situations). The findings of quantum mechanics do not disturb any of that. You see, I have slowly come to the view---everything comes slowly to me----that idealism and realism are not in conflict at all, indeed they need each other.

Be that as it may, classical materialism---together with classical ‘static’ physics in terms of three-dimensional substances---belongs to a pre-quantum world. Materialism asserts that all of reality is reducible to matter and its interactions. Really? Thanks to quantum mechanics we now know---yes, know---that the universe is a single gigantic field of energy and that so-called matter is a 'slowed down' form of energy. Some quantum physicists refer to this energy as 'light’ (cf the Biblical metaphor of God as light [1 Jn 1:5]), with the purest ‘form’ of this energy or light being wave forms of probability existing within an infinite field of probabilitiesWe are immersed in a world of largely indeterminate flux (‘mind stuff,’ or ‘dream stuff’ in the words of the Polish-American physicist Wojciech Zurek [pictured left]) consisting of seemingly endless possible actions and a quantum field of potentialities. 

That's not all. What emerges from that quantum field depends to a very large degree upon---consciousness! Yes, mind or consciousness is primary and fundamental, ‘the creator and governor of matter’ (in the words of that great English physicist of yesteryear Sir James Jeans). Consciousness is an essential quality or characteristic—if not the defining one---of the quantum field … at least in potentiality. That is, consciousness may well be the ‘thing’ (that is, process) that produces so-called material reality from the quantum ‘dream stuff’ of potentiality. No wonder the great New Thought teacher and writer of yesteryear Dr Emmet Fox wrote, ‘Life is a state of consciousness.’ He said:

I believe the whole of existence is a state of consciousness in the Mind of God, being re-created perhaps a billion times a second. We might compare it to the electric sign with moving lights. It seems as if the light were travelling around the sign but we know that is an illusion caused by the each bulb lighting up in turn for a fraction of a second---what we might call metaphysically ‘flashes of consciousness.’ The same thing is true with motion pictures. The actors seem to move, but actually the movies are a series of still pictures.

Needless to say, the 'MInd of God' to which Dr Fox refers is very different from the traditional concept of God. (Thank God for that!) 

There is an eternal motion---the Now---of which each of us is a part, that never stops … not even for a nanosecond. Each of us, at the quantum level, is a frequency of consciousness, and there is something very timeless yet veridical about that. And, as Gibran writes, the timeless in one person is the timeless in every other person and thing. It was ‘there’ even before the beginning of time, it was ‘there’ when it scattered the stars into space, and it will be ‘there’ long after you and I have ceased to exist as conscious centres of life’s self-awareness.

Live that truth as the awe-inspiring truth that it verily is.


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