Thursday, February 1, 2007

Elements of consciousness

Yesterday I mentioned a thought about location. Today I'll discuss that thought.

I was walking the famous dog Isabel on Wednesday morning at about 6:00 am when it struck me how cold it seemed to be.

In passing I briefly seized the massive iron girders of the bridge that crosses the sparkill- iron straight from the heart of a dead star, I thought to myself- and realized that from a certain perspective, it wasn't cold at all.

It was warm.

The universe is composed of immeasureably vast stretches of space and innumerable planets where it is intensly colder than the range of temperatures we inhabit. On top of that, it is equally stuffed full of places where it is intensely hotter. In fact, I realized, our conscious beings inhabit an incredibly tiny, limited range of temperatures.

Put us anywhere outside that range and we're instantly done for.

Contrast that now, if you will, with the observation that everything is conscious. Consciousness , as I have pointed out before, is an irreducible property of the universe. It manifests in different ways according to level, but it is present everywhere, from the quantum level upwards. Viewed from the objective vantage point of both physics and my own subjective personal epxeriences, consciousness is fundamentally electromagnetic, and: no consciousness, no universe to be perceived, hence no universe.

So what we call (and perceive as) consciousness is a tiny thing that lives within a narrow range of temperatures. We can't know anything about consciousness outside of that range...

yet it is there.

Change the temperature twenty degrees and "I' am cold. But the astral-or planetary- level of consciousness includes a range that runs from the very hot core of the planet to the extremely cold outer reaches of the atmosphere. We're talking changes of tens of thousands of degrees, not to mention pressures that would squash us flatter than a bug. The earth's astral consciousness, however, is entirely comfortable within that deafening range.

Think about it a little further: let's take the sun. In order to have a relationship with that level of consciousness you'd have to be able to take on some real heat. I sometimes hear people speak about "developed" others having a "solar" nature, but when I look up at the sun- intending no disrespect towards the achievements of others, I think the term may be used a wee bit too loosely. Such allegory is a wonderful thing- up until it collides with the material consequences of nuclear physics.

This whole line of reasoning may seem abstract, but it isn't. It raises questions of level and scale, two properties of the universe that Mr. Gurdjieff spent a good deal of time discussing. In spiritual work, we make an effort to see our place and know what we are, under the presumption that we must know at least that much before we can add anything worth having to it.
One might argue that these questions of heat are just material questions of physics, of matter, but let's recall what Mr. Gurdjieff said: everything is material. Consciousness itself is embedded within this material universe: it is the fabric of space-time itself that is conscious.

So what we seek to have a relationship with- different levels of consciousness- is quite alien to us, not just in metaphysical but also in very physical ways.

What does all this mean? I do believe it has implications we should consider, but in the end I can't tell you. It is a more a line of inquiry meant to provoke a sense of wonder, and to serve as encouragement to use the mind to ponder.

Even if we aren't very smart.

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