THE COMPLEXITIES OF NATURE--PART I

Evolving means learning to pay more and more Attention.
This works in all directions and with all things.

Time—Linear, Non-Linear, and None at All
So, Time was created as part of a Grand Experience to help an immortal being learn about non-immortality. Okay. What is Time and how does it work?

As humans, we don't really know the answer to this question. Time is tricky. We all live in it, but we experience it in very different ways.

In Western culture, we have come to think of time as Linear. That is, it moves in a straight line, and in one direction—forward—from the Past to the Present to the Future. The Present is always instantly becoming the Past, the Future becoming the Present, and it never stops. Time is like a pen drawing on an endless ribbon, or a ball rolling forever down an endless hill. We measure it with our clocks and our calendars, our scientists use it to design experiments and theories, and our language reinforces it every time we use a verb, carefully conjugated into past, present or future. Western culture makes us think of linear Time as "obvious," as "common sense," as what's "really" happening.

But there are many cultures—mostly indigenous tribes—that don't think of Time this way. They think of it as non-linear: circular, spiral, even amorphous. These cultures view events as constantly unfolding. Their languages often have no words for past, present or future, but instead distinguish only between that which is manifested, and that which is in the process of manifesting (note that both of these are in present time only). The "future" and "what is currently being imagined" are often spoken of with the same words, so that thought and "reality" are far more closely linked than we in the West have been taught. What is "obvious" or "common sense" or "real" in these cultures is very different from what we are used to.

And which of these is "really" what is happening? What is the "correct" view of Time? Well, both. (We warned you about Paradox.) It depends.

Circular or spiral time is certainly evidenced by the Earth itself; it runs on cycles, seasons. Time moves around, events occur and then re-occur. Each recurrence is like the last (circular), only a little bit different because all the previous occurrences ride beneath (like a spiral). Circular time is evidenced everywhere throughout the universe. Stars are born, shine, die in explosions, and new stars are born again from the debris. All things cycle. But there is certainly also evidence for linear time: the dust from an exploding star may give birth to new stars later, but the star that exploded is gone. On Earth, life is born, cycles, and dies. Ancient creatures and ancient cultures had their heydays, and now they're gone. The cycle may continue, but the individual players within the cycle do not. Even if we believe our souls are immortal, our individual lifetimes come to an end.

So it seems that both linear and nonlinear views of Time are valid. It just depends on how you choose to look at the system. As with dimensionality, there is no one "right" or "best" perspective; what is truly "best" is to be able to shift your perspective, depending on what is needed.

In fact, it is possible to shift your perspective to transcend Time all together. Perhaps you have experienced this: when we're really focused on a task, or really enjoying ourselves, we may have a so-called "peak" experience in which we "lose track of time", or "time seems to stand still". This is popularly called "Being in the Now," or being in "No-Time." Such experiences are difficult to hold onto, and when we realize we've been out of time, we quickly re-orient back in. In Western culture, we feel the timeless experience was just an illusion of our attention, since we look at a clock and see that Time did, in fact, continue on, even while we seemed to be outside of it. But there are cultures in which such a leap would be less certain; there are cultures in which being in Time is the illusion, and being outside of it is reality.

This leads to the question: Does Time really exist? Or is it just a matter of our perspective? Even modern physics is asking this question: Einstein's Theory of Relativity shows us that if we move fast enough, Time (for us) stops. In the discussion in our 1st topic, we talked about vibrating faster to reach higher dimensions. There is a relationship here: at the higher dimensions, Time does not seem so "real." If you vibrate fast enough, you may begin to see Time as just a matter of your perspective, at which point you can choose to experience it—or not. This is not easy to do, but it does appear to be on our path of evolution.

And just as vibrating fast enough can enable you to perceive Time as an illusion, it can also enable you to see the various levels themselves as illusory, simply a matter of your perspective. This is why mystical teachings often say that our entire reality here is just an illusion—and it goes back to that infinite creative being, of which we all are part, that created Time just to have the experience of it. We are all agreeing to perceive in a certain way, we are agreeing on the perspective we will hold. This agreement is called "Consensus Reality." We can renegotiate this agreement if we choose. Renegotiation is also part of evolution.

As you can probably see, there is also a relationship between Time (and Dimensions) and Duality. Perceiving Time at all—whether linearly or nonlinearly—is a dualistic thing to do because it separates experience into past/present/future or into repeating cycles, when Eternity simply IS. If there is "really" nothing but Now, then there is no Time. Time separates the Now into pieces. Similarly, perceiving individual Dimensions also breaks the wholeness of All That Is into separate levels. These are therefore dualistic, as dualistic as perceiving Other. Transcending all of it puts you back at that infinite creative being who is simply One.

Again, that's not easy to do, but it is the ultimate goal of the Grand Experience. The more you play with nonlinear Time, nondual reality, and higher (than 3D) dimensional perception, the more you experience Unity consciousness. And vice versa.

TIME--LINEAR, NON-LINEAR, AND NONE AT ALL


So, Time was created as part of a Grand Experience to help an immortal being learn about non-immortality. Okay. What is Time and how does it work?

As humans, we don't really know the answer to this question. Time is tricky. We all live in it, but we experience it in very different ways.

In Western culture, we have come to think of time as Linear. That is, it moves in a straight line, and in one direction—forward—from the Past to the Present to the Future. The Present is always instantly becoming the Past, the Future becoming the Present, and it never stops. Time is like a pen drawing on an endless ribbon, or a ball rolling forever down an endless hill. We measure it with our clocks and our calendars, our scientists use it to design experiments and theories, and our language reinforces it every time we use a verb, carefully conjugated into past, present or future. Western culture makes us think of linear Time as "obvious," as "common sense," as what's "really" happening.

But there are many cultures—mostly indigenous tribes—that don't think of Time this way. They think of it as non-linear: circular, spiral, even amorphous. These cultures view events as constantly unfolding. Their languages often have no words for past, present or future, but instead distinguish only between that which is manifested, and that which is in the process of manifesting (note that both of these are in present time only). The "future" and "what is currently being imagined" are often spoken of with the same words, so that thought and "reality" are far more closely linked than we in the West have been taught. What is "obvious" or "common sense" or "real" in these cultures is very different from what we are used to.

And which of these is "really" what is happening? What is the "correct" view of Time? Well, both. (We warned you about Paradox.) It depends.

Circular or spiral time is certainly evidenced by the Earth itself; it runs on cycles, seasons. Time moves around, events occur and then re-occur. Each recurrence is like the last (circular), only a little bit different because all the previous occurrences ride beneath (like a spiral). Circular time is evidenced everywhere throughout the universe. Stars are born, shine, die in explosions, and new stars are born again from the debris. All things cycle. But there is certainly also evidence for linear time: the dust from an exploding star may give birth to new stars later, but the star that exploded is gone. On Earth, life is born, cycles, and dies. Ancient creatures and ancient cultures had their heydays, and now they're gone. The cycle may continue, but the individual players within the cycle do not. Even if we believe our souls are immortal, our individual lifetimes come to an end.

So it seems that both linear and nonlinear views of Time are valid. It just depends on how you choose to look at the system. As with dimensionality, there is no one "right" or "best" perspective; what is truly "best" is to be able to shift your perspective, depending on what is needed.

In fact, it is possible to shift your perspective to transcend Time all together. Perhaps you have experienced this: when we're really focused on a task, or really enjoying ourselves, we may have a so-called "peak" experience in which we "lose track of time", or "time seems to stand still". This is popularly called "Being in the Now," or being in "No-Time." Such experiences are difficult to hold onto, and when we realize we've been out of time, we quickly re-orient back in. In Western culture, we feel the timeless experience was just an illusion of our attention, since we look at a clock and see that Time did, in fact, continue on, even while we seemed to be outside of it. But there are cultures in which such a leap would be less certain; there are cultures in which being in Time is the illusion, and being outside of it is reality.

This leads to the question: Does Time really exist? Or is it just a matter of our perspective? Even modern physics is asking this question: Einstein's Theory of Relativity shows us that if we move fast enough, Time (for us) stops. In the discussion in our 1st topic, we talked about vibrating faster to reach higher dimensions. There is a relationship here: at the higher dimensions, Time does not seem so "real." If you vibrate fast enough, you may begin to see Time as just a matter of your perspective, at which point you can choose to experience it—or not. This is not easy to do, but it does appear to be on our path of evolution.

And just as vibrating fast enough can enable you to perceive Time as an illusion, it can also enable you to see the various levels themselves as illusory, simply a matter of your perspective. This is why mystical teachings often say that our entire reality here is just an illusion—and it goes back to that infinite creative being, of which we all are part, that created Time just to have the experience of it. We are all agreeing to perceive in a certain way, we are agreeing on the perspective we will hold. This agreement is called "Consensus Reality." We can renegotiate this agreement if we choose. Renegotiation is also part of evolution.

As you can probably see, there is also a relationship between Time (and Dimensions) and Duality. Perceiving Time at all—whether linearly or nonlinearly—is a dualistic thing to do because it separates experience into past/present/future or into repeating cycles, when Eternity simply IS. If there is "really" nothing but Now, then there is no Time. Time separates the Now into pieces. Similarly, perceiving individual Dimensions also breaks the wholeness of All That Is into separate levels. These are therefore dualistic, as dualistic as perceiving Other. Transcending all of it puts you back at that infinite creative being who is simply One.

Again, that's not easy to do, but it is the ultimate goal of the Grand Experience. The more you play with nonlinear Time, nondual reality, and higher (than 3D) dimensional perception, the more you experience Unity consciousness. And vice versa.

SCIENCE VS. SPIRIT


One of the most obvious dualities today is the one between Science and Spirit. Science is simply the study of the natural world, and for many centuries (it is clear from what records we have), science included both the physical and the mystical aspects of reality. For example, Alchemy and Astrology were considered mainstream science for thousands of years. Then, around the time of the Industrial Revolution (or possibly earlier, depending on how you interpret history) spirit started taking a back seat, until it eventually got shoved out of the car altogether. Only those parts of reality that were physically measurable, or for which a mathematical equation could be constructed, were considered worthy of study; anything else was deemed "unscientific"—and to be "unscientific" was Bad, very Bad. At least, this is what happened in the West (and Western science has now been exported all over the world).

By looking only at physical reality, Western science discovered a great deal about the universe, but by dismissing spirit as non-existent, it lost an important balance. Today we are being confronted with serious social and ecological issues clearly related to the extravagant use of technology and natural resources that can be traced almost directly to the denial of spirit in nature. However, since the universe is multidimensional, balance has begun reasserting itself—not least in that very science which rejected it: In the early 20th century, physics suddenly exploded with a series of discoveries that look suspiciously like ancient mysticism. Hardcore materialists in physics hotly deny this, but many physicists today are openly discussing the relationships between modern physics ideas and theories of consciousness, life, and spirit.

In order to understand the topics to follow, we need to talk a little about some of these new ideas. Then we need to see what results esoteric investigations into that same natural world have achieved. Results from both sources are really quite fascinating. If you are a fan of science fiction, you can already relate to similarities between what one perceives as science-fiction and our "real world.”

"OLD" SCIENCE


For a few hundred years prior to the 20th century, Western science slowly built up the following ("classical") view of reality and how to study it:

  • Matter and Energy are two different things
  • Space and Time are two different things
  • Time flows at a constant rate, and Space has 3 (physical) dimensions: length, height and width
  • Matter and Energy and Space and Time "really" exist—that is, there's an "objective" "real" universe "out there"—outside of ourselves
  • Our thoughts and feelings only exist inside of us; they're subjective, and therefore they aren't as "real" as the "objective" material universe "out there"
  • To learn about the "real" "objective" material universe, we have to be objective too
  • But we can't be objective because we have thoughts and feelings
  • Therefore we need to create tools and instruments that can measure the "real" universe for us objectively, since tools and instruments have no thoughts or feelings themselves
  • As these tools and instruments get more sophisticated, we can measure more of the universe, and do it more and more accurately
  • As we measure more and do it more accurately, we will understand more of how the universe is put together and how it works
  • Eventually, our technology will be so good that we will be able to measure everything 100% accurately, and then we will know everything there is to know about reality
  • We can't use our own bodies as measurement tools, because our bodies are too subjective
  • Since thoughts and feelings can't be measured with the objective tools we created to study reality, we can't include thoughts and feelings in that study
  • But that's okay because thoughts and feelings aren't part of the really "real" universe anyway
  • Thoughts and feelings do not change reality
  • Just looking at something doesn't change it
  • Just thinking about something doesn't change it


These ideas came to be viewed as "obvious" and as "common sense." You can probably see how such a model squeezes spirit out of the picture: Spirit can't be measured, so it doesn't count. It especially can't be measured if you're not even trying to measure it because it isn't material and therefore isn't "real" anyway! This is circular reasoning, of course, but when you think you know where you are, you don't usually ask for directions. There is an even bigger circularity in this whole system. It assumes things like this:

  • Using our subjective thoughts, we can build objective tools and instruments
  • Using our subjective thoughts, we can objectively interpret what those instruments tell us
  • Subjective human beings can develop an objective view of reality

Hmm. The "common sense" argument begins to break down....

Now, remember, this is all still part of the Grand Experience. It requires an extremely fine focus to narrow down what you're willing to consider as "real" to such a limited part of the whole. There is also paradox here (as promised), since often the people helping to create this model of science were themselves students of such "unscientific" disciplines as alchemy, astrology, numerology, tarot, and the like. Why not! We're all infinitely creative beings at some level.

"NEW" SCIENCE


By the end of the 19th century, science was predicting that in a few more years, it would know all there is to know about the laws of the universe. Then the 20th century hit, and that prediction went out the window. Two radical ideas totally changed what we thought we knew about reality, and with it, our sense that understanding everything was imminent. These two ideas were Relativity Theory and Quantum Mechanics. Together, they resulted in the following ("modern") view of reality, which, you will see, contradicts nearly everything listed above:

  • Matter and Energy are not separate; they are interchangeable (the famous E=mc2)
  • Space and Time are not separate either; they always coexist as a single thing we now call space-time
  • Time is not constant, but can flow slower or faster, depending on how fast we are moving
  • Space has more than the 3 dimensions we can see with our physical eyes
  • Although we can try to be "objective", we cannot even look at a system without changing it
  • Even thinking about a system can change it
  • Absolute measurements are impossible; all measurements are relative to the observer and the system from which they are observing
  • No matter how accurate our instruments might get, there are some things we will never be able to measure precisely
  • Reality itself is not absolute in the "classical" physics sense, but instead exists as probabilities which collapse to actualities when observed
  • Furthermore, reality seems to be "digital" in nature; that is, everything—matter, energy, forces, perhaps even time—exists as little packets called "quanta" or "quantum units"; these little packets behave in strange, discontinuous ways; in fact, they seem, ultimately, to be made of nothing but vibrating geometry—that is, empty space!

These are all extremely weird ideas relative to classical science (and indeed, to "common sense"). But they have a strange consonance with mystical ideas, like those already discussed in this course, like: Nothing is truly separate (everything is connected); We're all multidimensional, so at a certain level, matter, time, space, etc., are all illusions; We can choose our point of view and in so doing control what we can see and experience; Therefore reality isn't absolute and our thoughts and focus of attention have great power; and so on.

LINEARITY AND NON-LINEARITY


The last idea—that of a "digital" reality—is especially important in this discourse of consideration. Its importance relates to the ideas of linearity and non-linearity that we mentioned briefly in the Introduction. Something linear is continuous, usually predictable, and changes in a way that is smooth and orderly. Imagine two people walking on a road in the Midwest of the United States. All around them it is flat, flat, flat, and they can see each other for miles and miles, slowly approaching each other, passing (nodding hello, of course), and then moving on, every change in distance clear, orderly, predictable. Words like "familiar," "habit," "routine," "customary," "tradition," "standard," "common" and "ordinary" all follow from a linear reality. "Old" science thought of reality as essentially linear. A linear reality only changes in predictable—and usually very slow—ways, and the tiny efforts of single individuals or events have little or no impact on the overall whole. It just keeps going on its own way. No surprises.

But if reality is actually made up of little packets—as 20th century physics says that it is—then reality is not linear. Quantum particles don't move in predictable, linear ways. They can suddenly jump from one state to another—without spending any time in between. It's as if, first they're over in one corner of the room, then they're suddenly in another corner, and at no point were they ever in the middle of the room. They seem to "wink" in and out of existence. Quantum behavior is not predictable, except as probabilities, approximations. Furthermore, with quantum particles, tiny changes in one part of the system can drastically affect the whole (the so-called "butterfly effect"). In a Quantum system, an observer can have a major influence, and subtle energies can make a huge difference. Physicists exploring links between quantum physics and what are currently called "paranormal" phenomena have discovered that an observer's thoughts can influence quantum events. Non-linearity is like walking on a flat, flat road and suddenly falling into a sinkhole that wasn't there a moment before! You vanish from view. Where did you go? Then you reappear a moment later in a totally different place wearing totally different clothes and sporting wings! How did that happen? Non-linear change breaks habits and routines, defies tradition, and is often shocking or even cataclysmic to the status quo. If true reality is nonlinear—and modern physics says it is—then radical change can be made in the wink of an eye. If we all wink the same way, what will happen?

In the next topic of discussion, The Complexities of Nature-Part II, we will talk more about the Quantum view of reality, and compare its model for the structure of matter and energy with that perceived by mystics.


NOTES, REFERENCES AND ADDITIONAL READING LIST


There are so many books on "new" science and on mysticism that this list is not even close to comprehensive. These are books that happened to stick in the mind of the course author. Many other books are referenced in the bibliographies of these books. The technical information contained in this lesson was culled from the books which have a "]" next to them, as well as general information acquired over years from books on physics.

Time—Linear, Non-Linear, and None at All

  • "Time Journeys - A Search for Cosmic Destiny and Meaning" by Paul Halpern (1990). This is a thorough exploration of various "kinds" of time, and the human domains associated with exploring them, including biological, psychological and other aspects of different views of time.
  • "Language, Thought and Reality" by Benjamin Lee Whorf (1956). This is a fascinating collection of papers by a self-taught linguist exploring how language doesn't just enable us to communicate our ideas, but can actually shape those ideas, and consequently limit our perception and communication.
  • "The Oversoul Seven Trilogy" by Jane Roberts (1995)—Includes "The Education of Oversoul Seven" (1973), "The Further Education of Oversoul Seven" (1979), and "Oversoul Seven and the Museum of Time" (1984). This series of novels by the author of the famous "Seth" books offers one possible look at both multidimensional being and nonlinear time. It also gives insight into co-evolution and how what you learn in one dimension can assist your learning in other dimensions, both "forward" and "backward" in time.

Science versus Spirit?

  • "Distilling Knowledge—Alchemy, Chemistry, and the Scientific Revolution" by Bruce T. Moran (2005). This book provides an intriguing look at the history of science, and how the current view of that history has been subtly compiled to imply a steady growth of "rationalism" that did not, in fact, exist. Offers interesting insights into the "reason" for the modern schism between Science and Spirit.
  • "Modern Physics and Ancient Faith" by Stephen M. Barr (2003). A great "crossover" book offering a mystic's view of scientific ideas, and a good comparison of materialism versus spirituality.
  • "Beyond the Quantum" and "Mysticism and the New Physics" by Michael Talbot (1986) and (1981). These are classic books about science versus mysticism.
  • "The Spiritual Universe: How Quantum Physics Proves the Existence of the Soul" and "The Dreaming Universe" by Fred Alan Wolf (1996) and (1994). The first offers an intriguing look at mystical ideas by a physicist with a somewhat unique way of defining "soul", and the second explores dreams, holograms, "new" physics, and what we're "really" doing here.

"Old Science" and "New Science"
Here are more classic books on "New Physics" and how it differs from the old:

  • "Thirty Years That Shook Physics" by George Gamow (1966)—Before Isaac Asimov, there was George Gamow. Gamow was outstanding at writing books that probed science in language a lay-person could readily understand. This is one of them. Due to its age, this book does not cover the more recent findings of modern science.
  • "The Dancing Wu-Li Masters" by Gary Zukav (1979)—One of the first and still one of the best books about all aspects of "new age physics," this book contains excellent information about Relativity Theory, Quantum Mechanics, space, time, vacuum, subatomic particles, and more. Due to its age, this book does not cover the more recent findings of modern science.
  • "The Tao of Physics: An Exploration of the Parallels Between Modern Physics and Ancient Mysticism" by Fritjof Capra (1975).
  • “Quantum Theory,” (1951); “Wholeness and the Implicate Order,” (1980); “Science, Order and Creativity,” (1980); “Thought as a System,” (1992); “On Dialogue,” (1996) by David Bohm.

Linearity and Non-Linearity

  • "Entangled Minds: Extrasensory Experiences in a Quantum Reality" by Dean Radin (2006). This book provides a broad and fascinating look at strictly-constructed scientific experiments into paranormal events. It includes details of experiments in which thoughts affect reality at the subatomic level. (Food for thought: "para"-normal is a profound misnomer, given that such experiences have been recorded for thousands of years by major segments of the human population, and are therefore actually quite "normal".)

Advanced meditators report having experiences of actually seeing reality flicker in and out, and sometimes of the whole "screen going blank." This is very powerful, and perhaps frightening, since most of us have forgotten the true nature of reality.

Next: THE COMPLEXITIES OF NATURE--PART II
< Previous: CO-EVOLVING IN A GRAND EXPERIENCE


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