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Nice thoughts, Michael. The rendering of data to consciousness (M space as you put it) is also an idea of Thomas Campbell -he says it is done by The Big Computer (TBC).

I too like the idea of there being no space -the idea of the universe as a simple point of consciousness, separated off by resonance or frequency (time) differences, which are actually areas of "consiousness space", as Thomas Campbell puts it.

Notice that visitors to astral realms sometimes talk of there being no time, but never say there is no space. It seems this may be the reverse of the truth. As usual, I suspect we're being led down the garden path by the trickster demiurge.

Even though it sounds strange to think that we don't really perceive "reality" in any direct way, it is obvious to anybody in a long term relationship (marriage). I've given up on correcting my wife on remembered details, and am convinced that not only do people not perceive the same things as each other, but our own perceptions of the same things changes over time. This is very disruptive to the concept of objective reality that everyone shares. Maybe there's an objective reality, but nobody ever completely shares in it.

I had a vivid dream about a small slender black King Snake last night. It had a few thin white rings on it. When I dream about black snakes someone tends to die. One day I suppose it will be me?

I was just re-reading Jane Roberts the other night, and one of the things I highlighted was when Seth says "You get what you concentrate on." He seemed to stress this, and it may be true. We may not get what we want, but I do see people pull to themselves things that they focus on, good and bad, often in the form they don't want or didn't expect. So in this sense, we are creating our own realities.

Very interesting speculation. This concept would need to clearly account for the existence of endless numbers of natural processes in N-space that change in time regardless of whether they are being "rendered" in any mind's M-space, but that also respond to our minds when they are in our M-space. We ourselves are the product of processes that long preceded our existence as minds (unless N-space and our minds with all their apparent history were actually created recently say 2 minutes ago). To maintain the illusion of a continuous changing objective reality the concept would need to include a vast non-sentient program created by a perhaps infinite Consciousness, manipulating the N-space information matrix Planck time by Planck time and Planck length by Planck length according to the programmed rules of our universe. While also interacting with our minds when allowed by those laws.

However, since infinite Intelligence is, after all, infinite, It could be directly maintaining this system, no program required.

Since there is a high degree of correlation between physical brain states and mind states, the cosmic information processor would have to be continuously updating the N-space models of our physical brains to correspond to our mind states.

As you note, since mind is separate and of a higher nature than N-space, it would have the ability to render and observe any part of N-space at will, allowing esp to exist. Precognition would require that there exist N-spaces accessible to minds being maintained ahead and behind of point-of-consciousness time. Pk would require that mind be able to manipulate N-space directly, interfacing with the cosmic program. These processes would not require energy since N-space is pure information.

What about communication with discarnates, and the afterlife? These presumably would be totally outside of the system of M-space and N-space. Alternatively, the afterlife could be another separate M-space working with another different N-space (or a separate region of one all-encompassing N-space) designed for the further development of minds. Physical death would be transitioning from one N-space/cosmic program to another.

Michael.

Excellent! I think this is basically correct. To throw some wrinkles in, however, how about the following conjectures?

1. M-spaces can influence each other in varying degrees.

2. Mind itself is not above and beyond M-space or N-space. In fact, I would say that mind itself is a recursive construct that is continually influencing and being influenced. Here is where the Buddhist concept of anatta, or not-self, is useful. We can never *fully* be ourselves in that, when we are observing or operating on ourselves, we cannot fully encompass ourselves as objects, since we encounter infinite recursion (i.e., we would be observing ourself observing ourself observing ourself ad infinitum).

This position is interesting, but is very similar to the holographic paradigm, as the N-space is the implicate order, while the M-sapce is the explicate order according to the terms of David Bohm.

Moreover, these ideas are very similar to the ideas of Peter Lloyd:

http://www.peterblloyd.org/essays-philo.htm

Hmmm "N" space. Science has known for quite some time that particles at quantum levels through-out the universe act as waves till they are "observed", then they become "particles". So observing, i.e. interacting with matter by thought, changes it. And "N" space, quantum waves, also interfere with each other.

So like Matt, we affect it, and it, by its interactions affect us. What I don't understand is that they have placed little emphasis on that revelation i.e. we as humans create our world.

Not what you mean?

I personally don't have a problem with some of what science has discovered. Having had psychic experiences though, I am aware they have far to go.

Having just read Eben Alexanders book "Proof of Heaven", like his experiences, I personally think of the universe as a form of the consciousness that is "God".

Interestingly he refers to how "all of time exists together". And recently psychically talking to my deceased dad, I asked him if he was allowed to come down to earth to visit very often. As well as telling him that he had missed out alot on not seeing much of the world when he was alive. He replied as Eben explained, that it was all there, and that he did not have to come down to see me, as he was right here. Cool. Lyn x.

Kathleen: ”I do see people pull to themselves things that they focus on, good and bad, often in the form they don't want or didn't expect. So in this sense, we are creating our own realities.”. I do agree. Another word for this is Magic. It seems to work, but as you so importantly state: ”they don't want or didn't expect”. So dear readers, from my personal experience I advice you not to play with magic, unless it concerns trivial stuff. Whenever we concentrate on something or somebody, it's like tying a rubber band between us. The more we focus the greater the strength. You can pull in the band at your end, but whatever there is at the other end will also pull...

Michael, these are interesting thoughts that you share with us. I think that we are many, looking for an understandable model of Universe that combines present cosmology with psi as well as with our own subjective knowledge and beliefs. Naturally, the different models being proposed are coloured by our present environment, e.g. the digital type view in your. I agree that information can be regarded an important ingredient in the dough. Or I should say: what we can call information. On the other hand, at present I don't embrace the dualism consciousness/spacetime (or mind/matter(N-space)). As this dualism is heavily grounded in most peoples belief systems, I think these less materialistic dualistic proposals will be more readily accepted by most of us. Still, I think that a good model should proceed from present cosmology. Otherwise, we are creating (or modifying) belief systems. That's not science and we are free to believe in anything. Science is, with all its limitations, the tool I prefer. Michael, sorry for sounding critical. I like your thoughts and have a great respect for your intellectual flexibility. So, I hope that you appreciate alternative views.

Perhaps no consciousness can exist without matter? Perhaps consciousness is nothing more than a by-product? Perhaps located in very tiny parts of Cosmos? I don't rule out the existence of a universal consciousness, though. But I think it's more likely that consciousness is a local phenomenon that originally developed (and develops) from material processes in body systems (and why not, in computers). Perhaps our universe is filled with planets of consciousness, never to be reached by human spirits. Something that gives this local mind idea a little support is the cultural dependencies of NDE's. Just as we can have our 'reality' tunnels in everyday life, mind seem to have in afterlife. What we(?) perceive there will not only be based on our own physical bounds and experiences but also from others in our environment. It seems as if most cultures create their own afterlife structures, waiting for the spirits of the deceased's. A good cosmological model should deal with this issue, I think, also concerning the afterlife.

If matter can form mind, why can't mind as well form matter. At the very basic level both can look much the same, having about the same properties and constituents (e.g. strings). Matter can perhaps be regarded as a very brief manifestation of Universe in time, where both the past and the future exist in one way or another and both determine how this manifestation (our reality) will look, right now. If we could look down at time from above, like staring down at the surface of an expanding puddle, we wouldn't see the matter in our Universe at all (this is my view), it would manifest in such a short time period that it would be invisible. We would see the 'topography' of the past and of the future, but not the present. What we would see I don't know, but I think the properties of past and future would be much alike. If the past is rigid in all its details, the future should also be. A past with a flat topography would mean a less predetermined future. With a powerful microscope we could see many small lights at some locations. They are spiritual clusters, surfing on the wave of the Universe, perhaps in the past, probably in the future, travelling in time like us, but not not as dependent as we. I think that's where we should start looking for spirits: in the future and in the past, before looking into hidden dimensions.

Several years ago I almost desperately wanted to understand how things did hang together and begged for a vision. I received one that relieved me. Since I haven't been able to make it fit to present cosmology, I let it rest. I'll end this post with my vision, as I recall it:

A sphere with a black surface beneath which, in the dark interior, a tree is visible. Just above, or on the surface: one or a few horizontal flashes. I wanted another image and saw sea anemones whose tentacles were swaying in the water.

My interpretation: The tree I associated with the past, binding everything together. Every event is like a branch on the tree, eventually ending in the surface (the present expanding Universe). We are all quantum bounded together by these passed events, bounds still existing in spacetime. These connections are possibly playing an important role in psi, where the flashes could be quantum events occurring in the future, perhaps forming a closed psi circuit between two minds bonded together by the past (kind of short circuiting it) or spiritual activities. The tentacles of the sea anemones showed different future probabilities (the positions of the tentacles effect each other – in the future). My conclusion: not total predetermination, something that satisfied me. As you may have noticed: what I've written above doesn't quite match my vision.

Such fun - but you are I'm afraid 63 years too late. This was all worked out in 1950 and there are millions of people now who completely understand what you are trying to grasp for. But good on you for figuring it out to this degree. Also you left out the creative factor - the observer - who is no part of any of these spaces (analogous to the programmer I suppose). This is not god or God or even doG. I don't want to raise a firestorm on your blog so that's enough.

Very interesting, Rossoli -thank you for sharing.

"This concept would need to clearly account for the existence of endless numbers of natural processes in N-space that change in time regardless of whether they are being 'rendered' in any mind's M-space, but that also respond to our minds when they are in our M-space."

True. One of many weak points in the idea is that it's not clear why most of the information-processing is done by the "cosmic CPU" (as Tom Campbell puts it) but the rendering - which is also a form of information processing - is done by the individual mind.

It might be more correct to say that the rendering is done by the cosmic CPU on a mind-by-mind basis: i.e., that the individual mind's needs at any given moment determine what rendering will be done for its particular M-space. Of course I'm just spitballing here. To improve the analogy, I need to learn more about real-time 3D rendering.

"What about communication with discarnates, and the afterlife? These presumably would be totally outside of the system of M-space and N-space. Alternatively, the afterlife could be another separate M-space working with another different N-space (or a separate region of one all-encompassing N-space) designed for the further development of minds. Physical death would be transitioning from one N-space/cosmic program to another."

I would see it as all the same N-space, in much the same way that a computer game offers different levels of playing, and you progress from one level to the next. The environment does change from level to level, and the rules may even change, and so may your avatar and your powers, but it's all the same game, the same program, and the same user.

Pushing the computer game analogy further, it is possible to play online with other users, in which case you all interact. But note that each player's environment is modeled/rendered on his particular screen, and, in a point-of-view game, each player sees his world from his particular standpoint. The interaction actually occurs at the program/code level; all your "physical" interaction with others in your VR world is purely an expression of information processing at a deeper, unseen level.

"1. M-spaces can influence each other in varying degrees."

Interesting, but I'm not sure how to make it fit the computer game model, except maybe with the online gaming idea above.

"2. Mind itself is not above and beyond M-space or N-space. In fact, I would say that mind itself is a recursive construct that is continually influencing and being influenced."

I'm not too clear on what this means. Mind is (probably) more than just information, or even information processing. Or maybe not. Maybe mind is an emergent property of very sophisticated information processing ...?

Again, I don't know how to integrate this into the computer game model, where the user is clearly distinct from the game. (Which is not to say that the model is right, of course.)

"This was all worked out in 1950 and there are millions of people now who completely understand what you are trying to grasp for."

Not sure what you're referring to. The "virtual-reality universe" theory is a lot more recent than 1950. Are you talking about the Copenhagen Interpretation of QM? But that's different from what I'm saying. Or Bohm's "holomovement"? That's similar, but not quite the same.

"you left out the creative factor - the observer - who is no part of any of these spaces"

No, he's there. I call him "the mind." In this scenario, mind is not M-space; M-space is a projection rendered by the mind.

This brings up an interesting question, though. According to the Copenhagen Interpretation (CI), Schrodinger's cat is both alive and not-alive until the box is opened and an observer collapses the probability wave into a single point. (The thought experiment assumes that the poor cat does not qualify as an observer in its own right.) How would this work in the N-space/M-space model?

The cat (again, viewed as a non-observer) would not appear in any M-space while sealed in the box. Therefore it would not be "rendered" in M-space. However, it would still exist in N-space; and in N-space, assuming the algorithms continue to run even when no rendering is in progress, the cat's fate is already determined. In other words, the cat actually is either alive or dead in N-space, but having not yet been rendered in M-space, the cat's fate is indeterminate in M-space.

Am I crazy, or does this make a certain kind of sense?

BTW, I'm not claiming these ideas are original. They are similar to ideas advanced by Tom Campbell (though I found his book unreadable), David Bohm, and the "virtual-reality universe" crowd, among others.

To add to the above: In this scenario, the wave function actually does collapse in N-space whether the particle is observed/measured or not. However, it does not collapse in M-space until it is rendered there (and the rendering = an observation/measurement). So it's not true that the world dissolves into a cloud of probabilities when we're not looking at it. It only *appears* to be a cloud of unrealized possibilities (potentia) because it has not been rendered in our M-space. The underlying calculations, however, have already been performed in N-space, and exact values have been determined; they just have not been expressed (rendered) because they are presently unobserved.

Or something like that ...

This is a fascinating discussion. I'm new to your blog Michael, and it is nice to see so many thinkers engaging in these types of debates in a curious and respectful manner.

Having grown up as a Christian Scientist, I might add my two cents to the conversation. I'll try to refrain from using overly religious lingo, as I don't want to be off-putting to anyone.

As a bit of background, Mary Baker Eddy was the discoverer and founder of the movement, and in her writings she describes the universe as consisting of nothing but Mind -- Divine Mind, as she coins it -- which she refers to as one of seven synonyms for God. The other synonyms are Love, Life, Truth, Principle, Spirit and Soul.

In Eddy's view, the universal Mind that she terms "God" creates everything in His/Her perfect, spiritual likeness (man as the image of God, vs. the standard view in Christianity of God as the image of man).

Some might see a similarity to the Platonic worldview, in that Plato envisioned every physical object as having a perfect idea backing it up. For example, a physical chair is in reality an idea that exists somewhere as the perfect and infinite chair (I think I have this about right).

Eddy also believed, as you have suggested Michael, that there is actually no physical reality. Matter is an error of belief, contrived by a "mortal mind" or ego. Perhaps it's seeming existence is for the purposes of learning and the evolution of our consciousness back to the divine. One can only speculate.

Most importantly -- and this is where she broke from many other traditions -- she also believed that we can experience that perfect, transcendent reality here and now. She saw Jesus as being the most scientific man to walk the planet, because he understood the true nature of reality -- that mankind reflects divine consciousness here and now, meaning that his so-called "miracles" were actually just people reverting back to their true nature: reflecting divinity.

To explain this a little more clearly: Eddy believed every one of us was thought up by this divine consciousness, and we are spiritual, eternal beings that reflect the harmony and perfection of that divine Mind at all times.

However, we can use our free will to pretend all sorts of wild scenarios about ourselves, none of which are real in the sense of being absolute, true or eternal.

Christian Science is perhaps best known for its healing practice -- not "miracles," because they are part of the natural order. There have been more than 100,000 of them published in the church's periodicals since the late 1800s. There have been many healings of credibly diagnosed diseases and ailments that were chronic or incurable. A great book if you can get your hands on it is "A Century of Christian Science Healing," which discusses evidence for a large selection of healings from 1865 to 1965.

Probably the most interesting experience I've personally had was the healing of my writing hand, which was "permanently" damaged in a ski accident during a Grade 11 ski trip. I fell hard on the knuckle bone of my writing thumb, and the bone calcified and healed awkwardly, so that I could only bend it slightly. Through the use of Christian Science the acute pain went away quickly, but I had to learn a very different technique for writing, which stayed with me for almost six years.

Fast forward to my third year of university and I was taking part in a non-denominational prayer group. Lots of discussion and learning, not unlike what I've seen on this forum, but obviously with greater religious overtones. A few months later, after having felt a gradual evolution in my consciousness, I had one of those experiences while sitting at my desk studying. I can best describe the experience as a feeling of at-one-ment with the universe.

In any case, I felt this incredible sense of peace and love wash over me, and when I looked down at my hand, the knuckle of my thumb was exactly like it had been before the ski accident. It was as though it had never happened!

I think the fact that I was not specifically trying to heal my hand -- accompanied by the fact that I had this overwhelming sense of love and peace (similar to what many people describe during NDEs) -- makes me think that there's something to this notion that, in the grand scheme of things, this N-space that you describe Michael might be governed by a divine consciousness that knows every idea (person, object) in its perfect essence. We can access that perfect essence, but we have to consciously work to align our thoughts with it.

In any case, I hope I have not come across sounding like "This is the Truth!" Not my intent at all. I just wanted to share some ideas from another viewpoint that you may not have considered before.

I know slightly off-topic but didn’t know where else to put it:

The quest to build a brain in the lab:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-22867070

While this is very interesting, exciting research, I find the arrogance of the scientists quite extraordinary, extrapolating from their own rudimentary experiments to make grandiose statements about consciousness:

"Self-awareness is not a magical spark that human neurons have in them; it arises thanks to specific circuits that are monitoring what is going on in the human brain. Our cultures do not have that perception at the moment, but we could put it in.

"Our computer programme could monitor activity patterns and send the information back as a particular stimulation through the electrodes. That could be like their self-consciousness circuits. It would be a very rudimentary self-consciousness, but that is all it would take."


Yeah, right, if it were that easy, we would have had self-conscious robots years ago.

And then this grandiose statement from the article's author:

'It may seem a remote possibility. But already these cultures force us to accept the truth that no matter how mysterious and instinctive thinking feels, it all comes down to electrical and chemical signals flashing across the three pounds of matter between our ears.'


Amazing!

While I don't doubt that neurons do indeed operate as a network and probably can be utilised in some kind of hybrid fashion to control machines and 'learn', all this suggests is that the brain's neural network learns to use and regulate a whole host of rudimentary functions to maintain the body's system (which we already know), and perhaps to learn various ‘reflex’ actions (riding a bike for example).

It is a MASSIVE leap to extrapolate from that to make claims about human consciousness like these people are doing.


The cat (again, viewed as a non-observer) would not appear in any M-space while sealed in the box. Therefore it would not be "rendered" in M-space. However, it would still exist in N-space; and in N-space, assuming the algorithms continue to run even when no rendering is in progress, the cat's fate is already determined. In other words, the cat actually is either alive or dead in N-space, but having not yet been rendered in M-space, the cat's fate is indeterminate in M-space.

This brings up another apparent problem with the concept. If cats and other animals are denied stutus as minds or observers they are denied real existence as living conscious beings. In this scheme they are merely information in N-space being updated by the cosmic computer. Most people have a strong intuition that animals are conscious beings akin (though of a lower order) to ourselves. I certainly feel this way about my pets. Maybe at least some of the higher animals could have minds that also inhabit M-spaces of their own and have N-space rendered to them by the cosmic computer. But then we would have to wonder where the line is drawn in animal evolvement between the existence of animal minds in M-space, and merely N-space information patterns. At the rat? At the lizard, or the fish, or the amoeba? Sort of a demarkation problem. It seems kind of arbitrary.

I actually do think the cat should qualify as an observer, but in Schrodinger's thought experiment, it apparently doesn't.

I have sometimes felt the experiment would make more sense if it involved Schrodinger's *hat* - a big white cowboy hat sealed in a box under a vial of red dye. Radioactive decay will cause the vial to break at an unpredictable moment, completely covering the hat with dye and turning it red. Then the question would be: At any given moment, is the hat all white or all red? This eliminates the issue of the thing in the box being a potential observer.

As to where to draw the line, I have no idea. It is interesting that mediums sometimes say most animals participate in a group soul, so that (say) a wolf that dies has its essence returned to the group. But, they say, domesticated animals that have formed emotional attachments with humans may develop more of an individuated soul. Which seems a little dicey, but who knows?

Perhaps it has something do with the ability of an organism to project an M-space. A purely reactive organism like an amoeba may not have an M-space, while a horse or a chimp does. Again, it's all speculation.

The whole Universe is conscious. Like the holodeck characters on the Starship Enterprise, they are all projections of the ship's computer. While on the holodeck the see themselves as being separate but when they aren't they exist in the ships computer as part of the program.

Excerpt from Michelle M's NDE description:
"I remember understanding the others here.. as if the others here were a part of me too. As if all of it was just a vast expression of me. But it wasn't just me, it was .. gosh this is so hard to explain.. it was as if we were all the same. As if consciousness were like a huge being. The easiest way to explain it would be like all things are all different parts of the same body."
http://www.nderf.org/NDERF/NDE_Experiences/michelle_m%27s_nde.htm

"However, it would still exist in N-space; and in N-space, assuming the algorithms continue to run even when no rendering is in progress, the cat's fate is already determined. In other words, the cat actually is either alive or dead in N-space,.."

I don't think that the cat's fate is predetermined in N space. The N space program, according to Campbell anyway, still needs to be queried by the M space mind, then the probability is determined.Much like von Nuemann's process1 and process 2.

"Perhaps it has something do with the ability of an organism to project an M-space. A purely reactive organism like an amoeba may not have an M-space, while a horse or a chimp does"

Sounds right on, except that even an amoeba can render a very simple version of M space. Campbell calls it "decision" space.

I've always had trouble with "ghosts" and haunted places in this theory. Perhaps as a previous poster pointed out, there is possible communication (or attempted communication) between different level "M" spaces.

GregL

"Probably the most interesting experience I've personally had . . . "

"Interesting" is a bit of an understatement for what happened to you, Jackson. It's amazing. Yet you come off sounding pretty credible.

Thanks for sharing!

Loved your post Jackson.

"might be governed by a divine consciousness that knows every idea (person, object) in its perfect essence. We can access that perfect essence, but we have to consciously work to align our thoughts with it."

My thoughts very much the same- and feel "god' or his consciousness is "all of it"( you me and everything). So he knows you keenly and your intimate thoughts. And also feel we can access that perfection by meditation and in healing etc. Lyn x.

Michael,

||It is interesting that mediums sometimes say most animals participate in a group soul, so that (say) a wolf that dies has its essence returned to the group. But, they say, domesticated animals that have formed emotional attachments with humans may develop more of an individuated soul.||

I think this is fairly explainable if we consider the soul to be the information content of the animal across space-time.

If that is the case, then we do not really have to differentiate between different "types" of souls. The differences would derive from the differences in information content.

In the case of a wolf living in the wild, we have an animal living instinctively just as millions of others of its kind have done. Although it is unique, it is not very different from others. When it dies, its information remains, as does its degree of differentiation (not much). Thus, its Afterlife is also undifferentiated, and the whole set of wolves thus may appear to a medium as a "group soul" (group set of information).

Now let's look at a pet dog. The dog has a relationship with a human, an animal with differentiation. Through the interaction, the dog also gains differentiation; i.e., it now also exists in *relation* to and *part* of the information set of the human. In the Afterlife, the human will still have a relationship with the dog of some sort (even if it is just memory).

A medium could see the dog as having "more" of a soul now because it participates in an information set that is more differentiated with respect to human-style perception and meaning. I do not think, however, that the two dogs are ontologically different.

I think this is what it comes down to.

Or rather, the two canids.

Is it just me that feels this way about Schrodinger's cat. You could look at it in a number of ways, setting up the experiment itself is a purposed measure which could influence the event. And quantum effects seem to be confined to small particles, not large matter like cats and humans. So the quantum effects of indeterminate function are in relation to the atoms in the radioactive substance only, not the cat. The cats state therefore is determined by the atoms outcome, i.e. decayed or not. So it will live or die, only if and when that occurs. Thoughts??
Lyn x.

Hmm, guess the decay is still indeterminate, which alters the cats fate. But the way I see it is that a wave is still only a possibility, not a probability. What I mean is, if this happened in the real world all the time, i.e. indeterminate reactions. It would be chaos everywhere. Just undetermined outcomes. Something like that. Lyn x.

Michael, I am glad you released that poor cat from the box. It's been trapped there far too long and I just now can see it happily chase the butterflies on the meadow. But you should have left the box open, I think.

Schrödinger's cat he probably created at the moment, just to enlighten an apparent paradox in a mail to Einstein, if scaling up quantum entanglement to a macroscopic scale. I really don't understand why the cat has survived for so long (I am probably too stupid). Whatever interacts with the environment is no longer in an undetermined state. Though the external observer doesn't know what has happened in the box until it is opened, the box system itself well knows it. Everything in the box, and the box itself, can be considered observers, observing each other. All the atoms in the hat itself are 'observing' each other, just as the atoms in the coulouring apparatus are observing each other. To keep the hat and the the other stuff quantum independent of, and not observing, each other, inside the box there must be maintained absolute vacuum and no interaction by gravitation and photons (including heat radiation). The hat must be very small and very cold. Since the wave functions span over time, the past and the future conditions make the system even less undetermined (more entangled). Not only the wave function, but the whole box analogy will collapse.

"My thoughts very much the same- and feel "god' or his consciousness is "all of it"( you me and everything). So he knows you keenly and your intimate thoughts. And also feel we can access that perfection by meditation and in healing etc. Lyn x."

The problem I have with this is the idea of perfection. What is perfection, Lyn?

One person's idea of perfection is not another's. That's for sure!

How can you know God's idea of perfection?

And if the universe is evolving, perfection must not have been achieved. Thomas Campbell is very down on the idea of perfection. He says AUM is evolving by exploration of multiple potentialities, and that includes exploration of Evil (selfishness). Most people, to survive, are selfish - they put their own needs before the needs of other life-forms. Is individuality not selfishness, with some reciprocal altruism where co-operation is useful?

Saints were supposed to be unselfish. But they were often really weird people. These days, we see saints like Nelson Mandela - but you could say that, like Gandhi, he simply chose the most practical path to successful resolution of his point of view. How do we know it was practical? Because it worked.


That's an interesting point Matt. If I read you correctly, it is the degree of differentiation which counts?

It also occurs to me that if 'like attracts like', and wild animals are pretty similar within their group, then perhaps they would naturally stick together.

I wonder whether humans can be undifferentiated too though. An unborn child, a person with severe mental impairment etc? There seem to be some sources that indicate that neonates and those with other problems affecting their mental development do continue to develop post mortem. So if they can, why not other animals?

Apologies for the ramble.

Interesting comment, Rossoli. I believe you're referring to quantum decoherence, in which a conscious observer is not necessary to collapse the wave function. But as I understand it, this idea is not accepted by all physicists. Some maintain that a conscious observer is still necessary, and they point to the fact that decoherence cannot (of course) be confirmed in any particular case unless it is observed.

In terms of M-space and N-space, I suppose we might say that decoherence occurs in N-space but is not rendered in M-space unless observed (because nothing is rendered in M-space unless it is observed).

I'm under the impression that the M-space/N-space notion has much in common with the von Neumann/Wigler interpretation of QM, and possibly with Henry Stapp's viewpoint, which is an outgrowth of Von Neumann. But need to read more on this, since I am, admittedly, a physics dilettante.

Matt, the only problem I have with your approach is that it seems to treat consciousness as equivalent to information. As I see it, information is not conscious. An encyclopedia consists of a lot of information, but it's not aware of anything. There seems to be a qualitative difference between information and awareness (qualitative as in "qualia," I guess). Of course, an emergent property can be qualitatively different from its constituents, so maybe consciousness is an emergent property of information, once the information becomes sufficiently complex ...

"maybe consciousness is an emergent property of information, once the information becomes sufficiently complex ..."

If you believe this, then you presumably believe that a complex robot would be conscious - and that Ray Kurzweil is right?

If so, do we need to consider spirituality as equivalent to data complexity? And do we dispense with God? Are we data-materialists (where data neutral simply replaces physical stuff as the backbone of reality)?

Paul,


||That's an interesting point Matt. If I read you correctly, it is the degree of differentiation which counts?||

I think so, yes.

||It also occurs to me that if 'like attracts like', and wild animals are pretty similar within their group, then perhaps they would naturally stick together.||

That makes sense too.

||I wonder whether humans can be undifferentiated too though. An unborn child, a person with severe mental impairment etc? There seem to be some sources that indicate that neonates and those with other problems affecting their mental development do continue to develop post mortem. So if they can, why not other animals?||

I don't know, do kids for example "grow up" in the Afterlife, or do they learn there as kids and then reincarnate?

I'm not sure how a wolf would "develop" in the Afterlife. Hasn't it already reached its full potential?

||Matt, the only problem I have with your approach is that it seems to treat consciousness as equivalent to information. As I see it, information is not conscious. An encyclopedia consists of a lot of information, but it's not aware of anything.||

I agree. I think the philosopher Averroes (Ibn Rushd) was correct in his view: "He believed in the eternity of the universe. He also held that the soul is divided into two parts, one individual and one divine; while the individual soul is not eternal, all humans at the basic level share one and the same divine soul." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Averroes#Psychology)

The individual soul is the information content; the divine soul is the I-Thought, or Brahman. I think we (and all sentient and conscious beings in the Universe) all share the same I-Thought, and that the I-Thought *is* an emergent property of the Universe as a whole.

||There seems to be a qualitative difference between information and awareness (qualitative as in "qualia," I guess). Of course, an emergent property can be qualitatively different from its constituents, so maybe consciousness is an emergent property of information, once the information becomes sufficiently complex ...||

I think this is true too. Basically, once animals reach a certain level of complexity, they will begin to have a "relationship" with the I-Thought, if only to survive in their environment.

@Michael Prescott

" so maybe consciousness is an emergent property of information, once the information becomes sufficiently complex ... "

To be able to understand how something is emergent from something else we must be able to complete the logical steps in between. Thermodynamics is an emergent property of large numbers of molecules in motion colliding with each other but at least we understand in principle how to reduce a thermodynamic system to a dynamical system of interacting particles. The same cannot be said for getting consciousness from information. I think this is one of the main criticisms of traditional computational models of consciousness (besides completely ignoring parapsychology). The logical steps between information and qualia are missing.

@Barbara

I always found the Western conception of a Creation and then an evolving Universe (in both Christianity and Atheism) to be somehow philosophically unsatisfying. You have to explain why God decided to create the Universe at that particular time (or why the Big Bang occurred at that time from an atheistic perspective). And a system evolving towards perfection will eventually reach that goal. And then what? Stasis. And stasis is equivalent to death. Of course, in a physical model, whatever caused the Big Bang, since it fired once, will eventually fire again given an infinite amount of time. This would create a new Universe, making a cyclic Cosmos.

"maybe consciousness is an emergent property of information"

Michael, as you know, I've never cared for this theory. Here's an objection to it that I'd like to get your response to.

Do you think information is dependent on matter? Because whether or not you do, I see a problem with your theory.

If you think information requires matter, than your theory falls within the bounds of materialism, because consciousness would require information, which would require matter. So there's no consciousness without matter.

If you think information doesn't require matter, than your definition of information falls outside the bounds of any accepted definition of the word "information" I can find. So you would be using "information" to indicate an invisible *something* that conveniently serves a purpose for your theory, but without any consensus definition you can point to.

The third possibility is that you're referring to information that is held or transmitted within consciousness itself. Spiritual information, in other words. But that wouldn't make sense, because then you'd be saying that consciousness arises from consciousness.

Leaving out the third possibility, here are the basic definitions of information. Each implies material entities of some kind:

1.
knowledge communicated or received concerning a particular fact or circumstance; news:information concerning a crime.
2.
knowledge gained through study, communication, research, instruction, etc.; factual data: His wealthof general information is amazing.
3.
the act or fact of informing.

In #1 or #3, someone or something has to do the informing, and someone or something has to be on the other end, right?

In #2, someone has to be in existence to do the gaining, or study, or research, etc.

Even genetic information is dependent on matter, because there's no information without the existence of the genes themselves.

So it boils down to this, as I see it: what kind of information doesn't require matter OR consciousness?

Or, as I suggested at the outset, is your theory a materialist one?

Am I making sense here?

"a system evolving towards perfection will eventually reach that goal. And then what? Stasis. And stasis is equivalent to death."
-Stephen

I do so agree, Stephen. Perfection soon becomes ennui and accidie. But constant change is also very wearing. That's why I think God secretly seeks death.

"do we need to consider spirituality as equivalent to data complexity?" - The Gipper

Yes, Gipper. If noumenal = number, as Michael says, or ones and noughts, as Thomas Campbell says, then in my book, it lacks true meaning.

Barbara, I love the way you zero in on things, ha ha. Certainly, and I don't mean it specifically in those precise terms you may be referring to. Although like many here with psychic experiences, I have felt that tremendous sense of peace that comes with some experiences, much like those who feel that during meditation. Interestingly though, somewhat a kin to perfection, I have had experiences where by there is the sense of that it was the truth and the whole truth. We here on earth determine our own truth by how we saw it. Over there it seems,there's only one truth - simply how it happened. A kind of perfection or perfect view. But my personal experience.

Love the debate over Schrodinger's cat. Cheers Lyn.

"Do you think information is dependent on matter?"

No. In this scenario, no physical space exists. M-space is a projection of consciousness, analogous to the virtual reality environment of a computer game. It is purely subjective. Matter and energy are properties of a virtual reality that we mistake for true reality.

"The third possibility is that you're referring to information that is held or transmitted within consciousness itself. Spiritual information, in other words. But that wouldn't make sense, because then you'd be saying that consciousness arises from consciousness."

First, I wasn't actually insisting that consciousness is an emergent property of information. I listed this as a speculative possibility in reply to something Matt said. But it's not the position I took in the main post, where I said there are three different things: N-space, M-space, and mind. I also suggested that N-space may have been created by a cosmic Mind, and that our own minds may be offshoots of the cosmic Mind.

"here are the basic definitions of information. Each implies material entities of some kind"

Short answer: Do Plato's Forms imply material entities?

Longer answer: The definitions you cite aren't relevant to information theory, which uses the term "information" in a specific, technical sense.

Here's an excerpt from a website:

"Information can be broadly defined as any pattern that can be recognized by some system (e.g., a living organism, an electronic system or a mechanical device) and/or that can influence the formation or transformation of other patterns."

http://www.linfo.org/information.html

So we're talking patterns here. You might think of the wave interference patterns on a holographic plate. They are information. Or the patterns of ones and zeroes in a computer program.

The site goes on to say:

"Information is dependent upon, but generally unrelated to, the medium or media used to store or express it. For example, a mathematical formula or the epic of Gilgamesh can be encoded in a baked clay tablet, printed in a book, stored in a semiconductor memory chip, or retained in a human mind."

Here's where N-space parts company with standard definitions. In N-space, the medium is the message, so to speak. There is no storage medium (unless we assume that N-space itself exists within the mind of God, in which case God's mind is the storage medium).

If you think that, say, 2+2=4 requires a material substrate in order to exist or make sense, then you'll be in good company, since I'd guess that most people (including most information theorists) would agree. But I'm suggesting that 2+2=4 is true in and of itself, and exists, like Plato's Forms or Ideas, in a nonmaterial, nonspatial, nontemporal, eternal way.

Of course we cannot really imagine this, since we are material, spatial, temporal, mortal beings. Hence the need for metaphors about holographic plates, computer programs, etc.

I'm certainly open to the idea that it all boils down to God's Mind, and that the information resides there. On the other hand, it's possible that we're dealing with some kind of self-generating system, and that God is not required - or that God is an emergent property of the system. Maybe the system is evolving toward God. This makes at least as much sense to me as the idea that God decided to split Itself up into small pieces (our minds) in order to enjoy the drama of conflict and variety.

In short, it's true that I can't conceive of information existing without either a material medium or a mind. However, I also can't conceive of a photon being both a particle and a wave. Yet all experimental data (= experience) tells us that the photon does behave this way. And if we try to imagine the photon as a bit of data in an equation, rather than as an entity, then the paradox is resolved. (See http://www.bottomlayer.com .) So maybe the photon really is a bit of data, even if this is counterintuitive, unsettling, and strange. And if photons, electrons, and the other constituents of what we call reality are ultimately just data, then information is at the root of everything we experience and perceive.

Or maybe not. I'm not saying I know. :-)

"Maybe the system is evolving toward God. This makes at least as much sense to me as the idea that God decided to split Itself up into small pieces (our minds) in order to enjoy the drama of conflict and variety."

Thanks, Michael, for your detailed response. I guess the impasse we're at arises from each of us putting our trust in a different way of knowing.

You tend to give more weight to science, reason, and language than I do. If those were my priorities, I suppose I could agree with your quote up top.

But I lean towards the mystical path, as you know. I feel more secure when I put my trust in insights gained through direct experience.

If I were having ecstatic experiences (or knew others who were having such experiences) showing the primacy of data, or pointing towards a system evolving towards God (rather than one emerging from God and then returning to God), I would feel differently, and might be more open to your perspective.

I know that a phrase like "ecstatic experience" would be laughed off a site like informationphilosophy.com, and that's my point. I see a value system there that's completely foreign to my own, one that emphasizes thinking over feeling, and language over experience.

A quote from http://www.bottomlayer.com :

"One obvious explanation for what [physicist Eugene] Wigner calls 'the unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics in the natural sciences,'" suggests Svozil, "seems to be the Pythagorean assumption that numbers are the elements out of which the universe was constructed; and what appears to us as the laws of Nature are just mathematical theorems or computations."

Pythagoras was something of a mystic, so possibly the ecstatic experiences of some seekers have led in this direction.

Hi Bruce

The problem with 'mystical knowing' that I see isn't that it's not valid, but that it's not transferable to those who do not know you or have a similar direct experience. There is no way to be certain that your 'knowing' represents a 'fact' that I would also consider to be a 'fact' if I had the same experience.

Of course that doesn't mean that what you learned through your preferred method isn't spot-on :)

"Pythagoras was something of a mystic, so possibly the ecstatic experiences of some seekers have led in this direction."

You have a point there. Some people think Pythagoras may have participated in the Eleusinian Mysteries, and . . . . well you know what those guys may well have been drinking.

"'the unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics in the natural sciences,'"

One possible reason for this might have to do with what science chooses to focus on--which subjects it categorizes as science, and which it chooses to omit. Maybe it only embraces fields that are amenable to mathematics.

For example, why shouldn't metaphysics--the study of the soul --be considered a science? What's more important for human beings to understand, and to study in a systematic way?

Metaphysics is not generally considered a science because mathematics is not as effective in exploring it, as it is in other areas. To science, the soul doesn't even exist.

If science can't use its favorite tool, then it will look elsewhere to play. And it will continue to brag about how amazing and all-encompassing its tools are.

I agree with you Bruce, and see your point Paul about people saying "well I had this experience, therefore".

I must say though, I think it is time the psychological sciences saw near death phenomena and psychic experiences as valid research material. After all, field studies are deemed relevant and used to study culture, language etc. In essence it looks at peoples personal experiences, so experience is a relevant research tool and could be used to study psychic phenomena across cultures, or as a subject for a meta analysis.

Its more a case of what is deemed appropriate for study which is where people have a problem with the status quo.

Lyn.x.

Michael,

||I'm certainly open to the idea that it all boils down to God's Mind, and that the information resides there. On the other hand, it's possible that we're dealing with some kind of self-generating system, and that God is not required - or that God is an emergent property of the system. Maybe the system is evolving toward God. This makes at least as much sense to me as the idea that God decided to split Itself up into small pieces (our minds) in order to enjoy the drama of conflict and variety.||

Your whole last comment was brilliant, but this is key for me. "Medium-free" is core concept here.

Bruce,

||If I were having ecstatic experiences (or knew others who were having such experiences) showing the primacy of data, or pointing towards a system evolving towards God (rather than one emerging from God and then returning to God), I would feel differently, and might be more open to your perspective.||

We just had a whole big debate on this topic, and you honestly think that mystics and their experiences through the ages support *only* the position you endorse!

C'mon, Bruce! :)

Bruce,

Also, in the case of metaphysics, it is a branch of philosophy, in which reason and logic are used. I don't think logic is fundamentally different from mathematics; I think they are in essence the same thing, or parts of the same thing.

Scientists shy away from metaphysics because, for one thing, it isn't laboratory science (i.e., investigating physical systems) but also because it doesn't fit their belief/social system right now.

I have to say that I am a big believer in things happening because you "put them out in the universe." Sadly, I mentioned to a colleague that we had lost (to cancer, accidents, etc...) a lot of student's parents in the last 10 years, but we have been very lucky not to lose any students." And then I said, "I probably shouldn't have said that out loud." and wouldn't you know it, within a day, an alumnus was killed in a high speed accident in Richmond. He was only 22.

Not that I honestly feel responsible, and, certainly, this isn't about me, but I find that things like this happen a lot. This was the worst way it could have happened.

Off-topic: Did find this fresh book on the library:
http://www.amazon.com/The-Devil-Within-Possession-Christian/dp/0300114729 , by Brian Levack, published this spring. If you are interested to read an historical and culturally focused overview of possessions but don't care too much about case descriptions, or if you have a fear of being posessed, this book may be worth your money and time.

My very short conclusive summary after a quick read is that both individual and group possessions seem to be very cultural dependent phenomena, increasing in popularity in a few religions since the 60's, after a long decline. Not much in it telling that there really are evil spirits taking over the bodies of the poor victims. In a few cases the possessed persons receive paranormal and supernormal powers. That can look frightening if expressed by a violent person claiming to be an evil entity, not least when 'the victim' is a supposedly weak young girl. But if it was e.g. Uri Geller doing the same stuff in a scene show, without violence, it wouldn't fit for a horror movie.

"My thoughts very much the same - and feel "god' or his consciousness is "all of it"( you me and everything).

I like the way you put it here, Lynn. I certainly do see God as being everything and being everywhere. "In Him we live and move and have our Being," is one of my favorite quotes from Mary Baker Eddy.

Barbara: "The problem I have with this is the idea of perfection. What is perfection, Lyn? One person's idea of perfection is not another's. That's for sure! How can you know God's idea of perfection?"

In trying to ascertain what you mean, are you referring to details such as, for example, that one person loves broccoli while another hates it. Obviously, in a reality where broccoli factored prominently into diets, the person who hates broccoli would not see this as a "perfect reality." :)

Or another example: somebody who loved dance, but hated camping in the outdoors, vs. somebody who loved camping but not dance.

I feel like you might be thinking of situations like this when you suggest that "one person's idea of perfection is not like another's."

Or am I misunderstanding you?

Perfection is of course just a word that we use to try to understand or explain something transcendent. I see broccoli or dance or camping as being ideas that are all encompassed by a perfect reality, as Eddy believes that each individual idea expresses God's qualities in unique and individual ways.
However, anything that leads us closer to love, peace, health, happiness, forgiveness, etc, are things (ideas, concepts) that are more true on the relative scale of things. But underpinning all of this, I suspect, is an absolute Truth that our current limited viewpoint and language grapple with to understand.

It's kind of like the word "God," in that if you were to ask 100 different people what God meant to them, they would answer in 100 different ways. Many of the definitions would likely be similar, but there would no doubt be important differences as well.

What Mary Baker Eddy means by "perfection," as far as I can understand, is that sin, sickness and death are not real in absolute terms. Evil is not real in absolute terms. All of these things appear to be real -- and can seemingly be proven to exist through mortal observation and scientific inquiry. But ultimately, these viewpoints and methods rely on the assumption of a certain paradigm. Eddy saw "paranormal phenomena" as merely a higher version of relative truth -- the beginning of breaking free from mortal beliefs of sensation in matter, existence in time and space, etc.

Ultimately, Eddy saw the universe governed by Divine Mind, whose sister synonym was Divine Love. So God is really both Mind and Love (capitalized) from her point of view. And every idea held within that Mind (or Love) has a perfect being who is at all times free from the false claims of evil. But we have to align our own thoughts with that Truth to see it reflected in our experience.

How can that claim be ascertained? Well, from my experience we can see a cause and effect relationship between aligning our thoughts with divine consciousness and the healing effects it brings (ie. the healing of my knuckle bone on my hand). I've had numerous other healings as well, but this particular one took me the furthest to actually experiencing this divine reality of "perfection" for a few tantalizing moments.

As mentioned, there's a good book titled "A Century of Christian Science Healing," for those who are interested in the topic of spiritual healing. Healing is of course not limited to Christian Scientists -- it's just that we don't really see them as "miracles" or "matters of faith in God," as many other traditions do. We would see the healings as being natural outcomes of aligning one's thought with the divine.

Interestingly, as I've done some digging into reports of NDEs and mediumship, many of the reports seem to line up quite well with Eddy's view of a "perfect" reality. Many NDE accounts report encountering an overwhelming sense of peace and love -- and some kind of divine being or entity -- that can't readily be described using human language.

Digging into some of the reports studied by spiritualists: one common denominator are these different levels (or spheres) of consciousness, and that the lower (or dark) realms are not really "real" in an absolute sense, but certainly "feel real" to those who through their "evil" thoughts and actions find themselves living there.

One of the common reports from beyond the veil is that anybody who dwells in these lower realms of hate and fear can put themselves on a healing pathway at any time when they turn to love, peace and forgiveness. To me this is another strong indication that evil beliefs are realities that some choose to believe in (and can feel very real), but are fleeting when we choose to turn to the light and start evolving in our thoughts and deeds.

One quote from Mary Baker Eddy: "The fading forms of matter, the mortal body and material earth, are fleeting concepts of the human mind. They have their day before the permanent facts and their perfection in Spirit appear. The crude creations of mortal thought must finally give place to the glorious forms which we sometimes behold in the camera of divine Mind, when the mental picture is spiritual and eternal. Mortals must look beyond fading, finite forms, if they would gain the true sense of things."

In any case, I again share my thoughts, as they are a slightly different way of looking at the concepts being discussed in this thread. In no way am I saying that I have all the answers. After Barabara's comment, I also wanted to better understand her point of view and to better explain what I believe Eddy meant when she referred to demonstrating perfection here and now.

"The problem with 'mystical knowing' that I see isn't that it's not valid, but that it's not transferable to those who do not know you or have a similar direct experience. There is no way to be certain that your 'knowing' represents a 'fact' that I would also consider to be a 'fact' if I had the same experience."

You're right, Paul! And that's why, as I see it, the proper role of spiritual gurus is to help people go deeply within and find their own truths and proofs.

"you honestly think that mystics and their experiences through the ages support *only* the position you endorse!"

Matt, I would never say that. It would be a meaningless statement, in any case, since no two people (or mystics) share exactly the same perspective.

On the other hand, I am pleased to find plenty of support.

"I must say though, I think it is time the psychological sciences saw near death phenomena and psychic experiences as valid research material. After all, field studies are deemed relevant and used to study culture, language etc. In essence it looks at peoples personal experiences, so experience is a relevant research tool and could be used to study psychic phenomena across cultures, or as a subject for a meta analysis."

Fortunately, there are at least some researchers with strong backgrounds in psychology, who agree with you, Lyn. At the moment, I'm thinking of Kenneth Ring and Stan Grof.

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