Mirror To The Universe
By Rob Mohr
Mirror to the Universe is a new column wherein I share the implications of artistic, philosophical, and scientific understandings which impact our lives, relationships, and dreams. My intent is to convey ideas, concepts, and imaginings in ways that stimulate and engage members of the Lakeside Community in topic- related conversation.
Dimensions of Consciousness
Like most of you, I often assume my life is under control, yet too often my dependence on high evidence decays into surprise, and my organized life no longer exists in a meaningful way. Many physicists agree with this encroachment and conclude that, given time, everything in the universe gravitates towards chaos.
However, a unique level of consciousness gives humans the capacity for self-awareness and self-judgement. Our conscious and unconscious states are an ever-unfolding process that reveals the unexpected. In his poignant analysis of how this happens, Daniel Dennett, an American philosopher and cognitive scientist, wrote, “...it is possible to have design in the absence of a designer, competence in the absence of comprehension, and reason (free floating rationales) in the absence of reasoners.” All of which throws a wrench into our preconceptions, our thoughts about life and death, and the determining doctrines set by organized religions. We find ourselves in a world where the expansion of human understanding has no limits, and surprise is the norm, one where creation and creativity, in a state of flux, becomes humanity’s constant.
Current scientific and philosophical understandings of universal consciousness reveal our consciousness is part of a universal reality in two important ways. First, all living organisms are conscious in degrees, and, second, the universe as a whole is a conscious entity. Scientific studies indicate that plants, trees and flowers, and even individual cells and their components, communicate with each other and with humans on a sensory level. Flowers in neighboring pots defy the pull of the sun and reach out to touch one another. Our own consciousness, which we like to believe functions at the highest level, is the result of cellular awareness, input from the whole organism, from our genetic memory, and from the flow of universal consciousness. Add to this our unconscious reality, and the result is our ‘universal mind’. In this complex milieu our brain, which we once thought played the leading role, actually plays the small but essential role of processor.
Unconsciousness, which has a spiritual component, is a vast, and little understood field of study that also plays a significant role in understanding who and what we are. The spiritual mind which connects with the whole of the universe and its universal mind, is manifest in dreams, visions, out-of-body experiences, and in our essential role as an active part of a living, and aware creation. This universal connection is a goal of all meditative states. Mysticism, which takes many forms, reflects understanding of this direct experience with the universal.
In the practice of living a life balanced between the organic and the spiritual, our personal and societal rituals play an important transformative part. Both Victor Turner and Bobbie Alexander understood the liminal role of ritual and what it means when we become liminal-persons engaged in the discovery of broad new understandings of what living a creative, universal life can be like. We are released from humanity’s common structures and move through a liminal process towards new understandings and roles which constitute ‘communitas’ within a new enlightened community. This transformation is critically evident in all of the arts where the transformed writer or artist sees (understands) creation in complex, multidimensional ways.
Within the dimensions of our conscious state, one’s capacity to infer causes and effects also has a direct correlation with our awareness and understanding of life. With each new experience, our organism and consciousness engage in inference that fits what is happening into a discernable pattern. Being able to infer results of actions and make suitable adjustments is a key for our successful navigation of life. Liminal transformations and our inference capacity, together, open multiple doors into a more intellectual, creatively satisfying, and complex life. As you reflect on these emerging understandings, consider, how conscious are you? What limits your conscious engagement with creation? And what might you undertake that would change your engagement with life in creative and intellectually stimulating ways?