How did it all get here? And who are we? How did we get here too? What is going on? Why a universe at all? Why stuff? Why stations of consciousness? Why a pebble, an igloo, a croquet ball? Why anything? Why space? Why shape? Why gravity? Why ground? Why heat? Why worlds? Why time? Why matter? Why? Why? Why?How did all this trash and treasure get dropped on everyone's doorstep? How does anything emanate from anything else? How and why did it become this?
And, while I'm at it — why not something else? Something else entirely? Anything else entirely? Why not nothing? Why not nothing forever? Why creatures? Why private views? Why ego identities? Why now? Why should anything wake into radiance? Anteaters, shrews, snakes, wasps, and all the rest — to what purpose?
Everything in this world has a context, in fact many contexts. We deal only in contexts. There are big contexts: hunger, pleasure, survival, sex, shelter, profit, America, Christ died for my sins, romantic love. These drive not only behavior but meaning. Then there are small contexts: putting together a chair from parts, following a soap on TV, playing a chess match, supporting a candidate, an uncle's birthday bash, yoga class, stylish clothing, downtown, the sales and marketing team, the gun collection, plans for a holiday, being a hottie, tickets to a play, losing weight, the World Series, O. J. Simpson, Donald Trump, Kim Kardashian. Money is context, war is context, bribery is context, police are context, the Bloods and Crips are context, jihad is context, mathematics is context, public transportation is context, trying to find a soulmate is context. There are mega-contexts too: mortality, the dead, the universe.
But there is no context for the whole, for the entirety, the state of existence (at least in contemporary American culture). There is no context for us. The closest to a context is God, or matter and energy, or DNA, but that is all outsider buzz. "Being" comes down to what "being" feels like.
Since the human species manifested in the Stone Age, each of its members has been confronted with the same astonishing blaze. Reality in its naked presentation, shining and bristling from within and across proximal space while penetrating absolute space, is flat-out shocking and profound. Realer than a motherfucker! It is more profound than all the profundities conjured by science and philosophy. Along its most deepening seam it is subtler than anything in it. Cars traveling down the street on some planet, probably but not necessarily this one, not even cars, are not profound when viewed by everyday mind; however, in the vast unacknowledged scheme the fact that they exist at all and are piloted in orderly fashion is profound and weird beyond conception.
Scientists now explain the existence of nature (and mind) by equations of heat, entropy, surface tension, binary coding, and differential survival. They scan substance to where its gauze is most distended (the sky), most discrete (the subatomic nucleus), and most quantifiable (the algorithm), as they try to excavate condition and origin. Fat chance!
Philosophers buy this prognosis hook, line, and then some; they extract "being," meaning, and values from it.
Psychologists overlay ego, psyche, personality, and behavior-thermo- dynamic and chemical vectors traveling inside membranes. They replace the philosophical mind with the biological mind and neurotransmission.
Shamans, priests, and clerics set nature under sacred sovereignty. Psychics tune to energies and planes not measurable or acknowledged by science. None of these gets to the bottom of the weirddom.
Among depictions and rationalizations of reality, twenty-first-century upper-tier denizens are most familiar with the West's sanctioned brand: the survival-of-the-fittest, you-only-go-around-once market economy. Their lives occur on its mean streets amid its hemorrhaging urbanization, in progressively more acute cycles of crisis and cataclysm, clinical anxiety and depression, plus urgency in the context of ever dwindling time and possibility, incessant craving for more, endlessly more: more life, more goods, more thrills, more validation, more anything.
In towers and operating rooms of the corporations and academies, professional scientists continue to address reality as a riddle in forensics, a cold trail left in the galactic sky and in the cyclotron of matter, evidence quasi to a crime. Dismissing its phenomenal aspects, they stalk it to the Big Bang and subsequent fusion, fission, and differentiation in stellar cauldrons ignited by the blowout. Comparing indices and refining their assays, they dowse and test the "splatter" in hopes of exposing the weapon used, the nature of an unwarranted slash on the void.
But there is no such smoking gun. The stuff that broke through from beyond time and space is out of play, forever. This is a spill zone not a construction site — everything in it has been used before and as something else. Or not: same difference.
The universe is simply too deep, too old, too frayed, too insouciant to be explained. That is why grand unified theories of All That Is are, to a one, pretexts and vanities. Inquiry is limited to what came after the Big Bang, which is all that we can get at. Just about every item, every primo seed is missing from dossier and file.
Science supposes that creation was merely statutory — no design behind it, no rationale or impulse, no hint of an absentee landlord, only the absence of sufficient obstacles to prevent or impede its splay.
Imagine a malefaction without a motive, that begins with its commission — absolutely — no assets or adjuncts of any kind.
Materiality is the present idol of our manifestation; it guards Entry and Egress; it decrees: "Thou Shalt Have No Other Gods Before Me." And we don't.
Creek and Ainu philosophers, Australian Aboriginal elders, Tibetan shamans, and the Aegean cosmologists understood (and still understand) the engine better than do most citizens of modernity — and that includes sophisticated particle physicists. They understood it in the moment and bowed to its omneity: a light arising from darkness, a wind from stillness.
Once upon a time, the universe was sacred and unfathomable by simple emanation. Humans accepted the operations of nature as the mirror and counterpart to their own existence, surrendering to its primacy and innate dignity. They ceded a vast and absolute design and conducted a ceremony whose goal was adoration not interrogation. Before quarks and Big Bangs, they called it Spider Woman and Corn Mother and zoned its tiers by Chameleons, Swimming Turtles, Bouncing-Stick-Player-Toads, and Hyenas' Eggs. These are neither contrivances nor mere fables; they are not raw primitivisms either. They are hard-won intuitions of something before form:
"Verily at the first Chaos came to be, but next wide-bosomed Earth, a disk surrounded by the river Oceanus and floating upon a waste of waters, the ever-sure foundation of all the deathless ones who hold the peaks of snowy Olympus and dim Tartarus in the depth of the wide-pathed Earth, and Eros, fairest among the deathless gods, who unnerves the limbs and overcomes the mind…."
Eros before matter, always. Listen carefully and you will hear the rustle and trickle of an actual universe, an inviolable presence, not a working factory.
"The Ground Squirrel said, I think day and night ought to be divided like the rings on the Coon's tail.'"
Contrast and discrimination-on fur as among the rings of Saturn.
"A very long time ago there was nothing but water. In the east Hurúing Wuhti, the deity of all hard substances, lived in the ocean. Her house was a kiva…. To the ladder leading into the kiva were usually tied a skin of a gray fox and one of a yellow fox. Another Hurúing Wuhti lived in the ocean in the west in a similar kiva, but to her ladder was attached a turtle- shell rattle."
How was this possible before there were either foxes or turtles? It is because these stories encapsulate construction of a universe of events inside a prior universe of meanings.
"The Sun also existed at that time. Shortly before rising in the east the Sun would dress up in the skin of the gray fox, whereupon it would begin to dawn…."
This is it! It might slip by as a pretty-boy metonymy if you overlooked its ontological cred: Everything arose from nothing. Concretely and explicitly. This is what it looks like if you peer inside this very minute: gray foxes and self-emanating light.
Viewing electrons, atoms, and chromosomes in the scientific manner as they shape-shift and deliver payloads doesn't alter or encroach upon their identity. For being exposed like a burlesque dancer, a mitochondrion is no less or more immaculate a riddle than it was inside Stone Age hunters. Western reality has no prerogative or supremacy over other brands. It may be the present operating system for modernity on Earth, but its roots are no more rooted, its arising no more fundamental or absolute. No one species's or planet's deposition has primogeniture or is endorsed by the universe. The same claims are made implicitly by the spider and the mouse.
Through the entitlement of its birth, each entity places its lien on existence. Albert Einstein and a 1930s sea squirt each expressed a sincere and desperate truth, equally confronted the fact of their being and rendered a coherent paradigm of it. They fed the universe's eyes, ears, and brain.
There is Bushman reality, Navaho reality, Aranda reality, Cherokee reality, Xhosa reality. Within each of these sprout countless personal realities. And these barely scratch the surface. Cat reality, snake reality, whale reality, wolf reality, worm reality, bacterial reality all are "real" too.
The osprey with its wingspan and talons, the owl with its judicious eyes and motion-detecting granules, geese with their star- and sun-maps, were knighted long ago by vanished gods. Currents of air, below and above feathers, fins resisting waves through rippling flow-these are sciences too. "Even the trodden worm…," declared philosopher William James, "contrasts his own suffering self with the whole remaining universe, though he have no clear conception either of himself or of what the universe may be."
Amen, and God have mercy on us all.
Science as we know it is not science anyway, not by standards of worlds or biting Rigel, Antares, and the Dog Star or, if not there, then somewhere. The Big Science of the Milky Way provides an impartial jury for claims of truth by experimenting parties on separate worlds. The Meta-Science of the Universe alone knows everything (or anything) about any thing. Earth Science, endowed by private and corporate interests, offers only space-time audits from the perspective of deputies on one planet in one small capillary.
Alligator crocodile reality, dragonfly damselfly reality, realities on the billions of inhabited planets in the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds — there are more stars and skies, more heavens and earths than are dreamt of in our philosophies and operas.
Each entity gets born, lives, and dies on the universe's terms, and the universe is one serious mutha. We don't get to choose our own operating system or paradigm indefinitely. The universe owns all paradigms and systems — and it is running a far bigger game than science.
So get off your high horse! Physics is not king of the universe. Earth is not the only game in town. Three dimensions are not the sole platform. Stranger realities arise continually on worlds in other solar systems, close to here and unimaginably far. We know their presences intuitively and unconsciously because, like hydrogen, consciousness is singular — we know them as something else. We know them at all.
Reality is the state in which we participate with everything else in the universe, a living fire that keeps emerging. And again at this next moment, and so on … in every creature in every crack and cranny, every tidepool and volcanic vent.
Yet scientific laws operate with impunity, as if official, as if someone other than us made them up and enforces them, as if they were cast in something more than the breccia of metaphor.
In its act of establishing a jural reality, science has detoured from honest inquiry into institutionalized ideology, using a bogus authority to enforce its sponsors' products. Our bodily existence and minds are now arbitraged in a futures market. Queued into motor pools, creatures are encouraged to trade in existence for algorithms, to refute their own beingness.
What used to be pure scientia — neutral knowledge — is a combo dictator, morality squad, and hanging judge. When doctors confer cures, they must do so under a regime of terror, unacknowledged and reduced to muzak, falsified documents, and profit-and-loss statements. The Fates still decide how, when, and why each creature is born and dies. Clotho spins the thread onto her spindle. Lachesis measures it by her rod. Atropos cuts it with her shears, Charon receives it with a coin in its mouth. By usurping this province, by making DNA the oracle, a Taliban-like authority commands and deludes us (and itself) into thinking it is rolling the dice and cutting the cloth. Meanwhile it recruits us for its jihad: consumers all.
Body-mind is not even the sole frequency of intelligence. Beyond the charm of a matter-on-matter universe, other entities coalesce in untold dimensions of hyperspace. However divergent from our embodiment and shibboleths here, they are sordidly and viscerally real wherever they are because they are rooted in primordial awareness of their own existences and the common substratum from which they are arising. From their perspective today's local blue sky is the ultimate surreal backdrop.
For that matter the Earth is a planet that even we should never have seen, one that we were-yes-forbidden to see.
So I come back to my original question: Why us? Why here? Why now?
Why this gaudy manifestation, each granule, bump, and surly or succulent intent of it? How could you ever take it — your own existence, the warrant of "life"-for granted?
Just look around you at what has formed and stuffed itself into every gap. Witness pure existence arising, creating space and direction, lighting its own canopy, pouring through its own portal, filling the void with objects, shading its own light!
Empty yourself of preconceptions. I don't know what I am. I don't know what this is.' Like the gentleman songsters of the Whiffenpoof, "We are poor little lambs who have lost their way./Baaa, baaa, baaa!"
Let this confession fill your mind, roll across your skin, dilate into your chest and sockets, sink down below your shoulder blades, open your diaphragm, reverberate in your belly and lungs, drop into your genitalia. Answer the unanswerable question by an affirmation at your core.
Sense how deep and thick and omnipresent and sensational the universe is. Feel its silent stream of semblance. Hear its gurgle at a frequency so immediate, scrupulous, explicit, and snug that it is nonexistent. Watch its liquidity flowing from and to everywhere-the ground of yourself filling with a fulgent gleam. How is this possible? How is such an impeccable state of being and knowing allowed?
The moment you let go of your habit addiction, you explode in all directions. An intimidating audit, but not half-bad. At least it is happening at all.
Staring at surf, I am struck by the interplay of gravity, mass, and cohesion under lunar pressure, as rocks carve waves into glyphs.
We are sustained by foam as wide and precisioned as gravity, written by styluses as fine and hieroglyphic as air. What is spelled in our own minds is what was once written dumbly in the sea, in the calls of seabirds, welling up through ganglionic stations into sequestrations of self.
Mind is in constant dialogue with the intelligence of its own formation.
An imperative had to begin somewhere. Each motif indicates a source; otherwise there would be nothing at all.
What Sigmund Freud posited vis à vis dreams — that every entry and instance has an energetic prerequisite necessitating and providing it-is true as well of the waking dream, the simmering fog. Each item exists because it must. And there is no bottom or break to the ring of proxies engendering and sustaining it.
Where else would or could it come from?
Beavers gnaw down trees many times their size, pile up mud, dam rivers, store vegetation in cold houses under snow, patch holes in their dams. The semi-aquatic rodents permit muskrats to co-occupy their underwater huts and eat from their larder-why? From where does the symbol come to render and allow the gift?
Muskrats pay a "rent" of grasses and vines as they swim into and out of the communal refrigerator. Under what compact do the beavers monitor this transit?
What future and eternal meaning is synopsized in the screech, the caw, the yowl? Barking seals, baying hyenas, chittering moles, shrieking gulls — these metabolic packets don't merely provide meanings prior to language. They are meaning. Wild turkeys crossing a field at sunrise are screeching raw existence, intentionality, wonderment, and individuality back to the universe.
North American squirrels, though color-blind, discern a dissimilarity between acorns from red and white oaks, consuming the white ones which, by sprouting before spring, quickly lose their food value, while burying the slower-sprouting red ones for sustenance during late winter.
How does such information, at its every level of designation, get through the cables into molecular space?
In years when there is a shortage of red acorns, those same squirrels munch just enough sludge out of the white acorns to disable their sprouting capacity, and then they bury them.
Australian lyrebirds imitate car alarms, doors opening and closing, men with chainsaws cutting trees. Urban crows drop nuts into traffic in order get them cracked; they select streets with red lights because movement periodically stops there, allowing them to fly down and retrieve the meats unscathed.
Various species of birds pick up twigs in their beaks, then poke with them at grubs in tree trunks, agitating them to move in their dream of succor, to come out and be consumed.
Standing in shallow water, other birds make their wings into shade to trick fish to come to the surface.
The symbol is always and ever being born.
From Dark Pool of Light published by North Atlantic Books, copyright © 2012 by Richard Grossinger. Reprinted by permission of publisher.
Teaser image by jurvetson, courtesy of Creative Commons license.