The following is excerpted from Dark Pool of Light: Reality and Consciousness (The Convergence of Physical, Philosophical, Psychological, Psychospiritual, and Psychic Views), Volume Three: The Crisis and Future of Consciousness, recently published by North Atlantic Books.
"The current Eternity System is rich and complex, startling and challenging, mystifying and elegant." --Ellias Lonsdale 
"Imagine that not only does your soul withdraw into itself, but that all souls likewise withdraw, and in withdrawing, dissolve into a single over-soul that now recedes into its own inner deeps, the ancient taproot of creation. All is perishing except His Face.
"Reality holds its breath. All is still and silent. Life lives, but without any sign. The Earth was without form, and void.
"Sunk deep in unity, the One engulfs in its abyss the shimmering wealth of all that ever was and all that ever will be. Obsidian and jade, tropical waterfalls and Olympian peaks, the attar of roses, wild honey, herds of aurochs, hieroglyphs and cantos, cathedrals and soup kitchens, melancholy, mirth, the Aurora Borealis and the Pleiades, the reveries of teeming worlds beyond number-all these are present and yet absent. Absent because there is no witness. Darkness was on the face of the deep." --Pir Zia Inayat Khan 
"The universe is a divine play of phenomena. To humans those phenomena appear to be separate; we seem to have the experience that there's a me' and a not-me.' That's an illusion. Everything is interdependent with everything else. Everything arises in oneness, and every apparently discrete package is merely that: apparently discrete." --John Friedlander 
"He will not merely rule the universe; he will also be the universe." --Philip K. Dick 
i. Cosmic Eternity as Unified Field Theory
Before we sail into this chapter, let's take a deep breath. I know, the book is already more than a few breaths deep. But this is a mystery universe, and our path is via consciousness -- not the objects of consciousness (though them too) but consciousness itself.
We will never have a map for reality in the way we have Google Earth. Reality as consciousness cannot be represented in reality as matter. But that doesn't mean it is not real or "scientific." This is my basic refrain.
In order to assay reality, we need science. That should be obvious.We need everything that science has to tell us about moleculo-atomic structure, electromagnetic and gravitational fields, the organization of biological form, and the flow of information through neurons-these are esoteric as well as secular truths, sacraments above and beyond their liturgically inflated presentation by their own priests. They are the operating system.
For science to function or even emerge from the mists of unsignified existence, all subjective filters must be removed or disengaged; objective mind must encounter objective reality through the transparency of pure measurement and the neutrality of egoless witness. This means no universe except its own tangible physical map. But that's also the minimum baseline for ascertaining where we are and what's going on, for getting out of a perplexing jungle of cries and appearances.
No other way -- you have to separate the explicit from the implicit, the deduced flow of energy and matter (turning handaxes into thermo-dynamics) from the induced flow of meaning (turning scapulimancy into signification) -- but that doesn't mean that the world will tell you anything more than that something is happening (rather than nothing) and it is wrapped around its own mechanism snug as a glove.
The display format is pretty much as science calls it: a set of anomalies generating a temporal fortuity from the atomic properties of molecules, the molecular properties of cells, the cellular properties of tissues, the matrices of tissues underlying vertebrate underlying mammalian under-lying primate socio-symbolic acts. But the universe is also a direct emanation. It is disclosed through ordinary experience interpreted by trained inquiry: formal meditation, shamanic induction, aesthetic mimesis, divine petition. To project an abeyant shape into a "rose" is to ask it to become what it is. Yet to exist at all is to be projected by the universe into such an icon or thoughtform. Existence is revelation: a rose. There were always twin ways for humans to divine the universe and our presence in it. Even Stone Age hunters knew that: men and women of action and men and women of contemplation -- bump at it or reflect it, assay it or hex it, Coyote -- man and Robin-man. 
Objective consciousness maps the apparent universe by its propensity for durable and self-repeating emanations. Subjective consciousness maps everything else.
For all the vaunted chains of neurons, sockets, and monitoring modules, there is no scientific theory of consciousness worth the name (see Volume One on that one). Scientists may build models of mind and write formulas without remainders, and there is plenty of scuttlebutt about how the nervous system and brain work, how we make decisions, initiate actions, and run cognition grids, but no -- even hypothetical -- way to turn matter inside-out and illuminate it from within, no way to get the city inside the acorn, to originate the damn thing's glow inside its own mechanical contraption, to explain even how nerves really work. No matter how resolutely the experts gyrate, it can't be done. The universe (or meaning) is too comprehensive, and the brain is too morphological and literal. Just try sizing reality down to a neuron or even a fat fur-ball of synapses.
Science has no inroad whatsoever to anything that can't be measured or counted, while consciousness has zero quantitative basis. Neural behavioral maps, electroencephalograms, and ablated circuits in lab cats don't constitute real measurements of consciousness in the way that everything else under science can be submitted to metrics. However tight we squeeze nanometers through the mind-matter barrier, there remains an uncrossable bumpless region between bodies and thoughts.
For that matter, how does a mind -- or my mind, or "I" -- know which neurons to affect in order to do what I want to do? There would have to be some sort of subliminal sub-mind that tracked physiological networks scrupulously, got its orders from the "conscious" mind, and then faithfully carried them out. But that sub-mind would need its own sub-mind, and we'd be well on our way down Infinite Regress Highway, which is the Highway to Nowhere, Zip Code 99901.
If you were a scientist and somehow put all the nuts and bolts, levers and pulleys, circuits and switches together tantamount to creating a credible, metabolizing cyborg or even a motivated robotic mouse, how would you click it on and, if it turned itself on automatically, where would the effective bump come from? What would that bump contribute, what would elicit it, and how would it recognize its own possibility and then install itself in the rest? And I don't mean "install" any differently from how electricity installs itself in thunderclouds and power lines. How does a golem mouse (or man) take on an identity and embark on its human or rodent mission?
Okay, let's finally call a spade a spade: consciousness is not located in the brain. I stand on this point unconditionally. I do not deny that neurons and mind are joined at the hip -- evolutionarily, developmentally -- but consciousness as a stream of phenomenological shit in which an objective reality is mirrored is something else altogether. It has a different ontological basis from the nervous system or the brain, and it operates otherwise, probably throughout the universe, without need of them. Science does not know how to cross the bumpless zone, not even close.
Consciousness's "awareness" property is elicited by nervous systems and brains probably because it is already in the mix -- "we" are already there; we exist somehow at large, prior to experiment -- as identity, as agency. In fact, the flow of synaptic data into the brain is more likely the result rather than the cause of consciousness. Ignoring this telepathic super-highway is a joke, a misnomer, and science's catchall sleight of mind.
There cannot be a unified astrophysical field theory without a theory of mind, and likewise there cannot be a theory of mind without inclusion in a unified field theory of space and substance for, without phenomenology, where would you begin to look for meaning's as well as matter's thread? And meaning has to have a thread because, after all, it's here.
Though there cannot be a theory of matter without the inclusion of mind, where (again) would you attach one to the other? We lack even a unified field theory of space-time or matter by their lonesomes.
No comprehensive theory means no place wherein to attach consciousness -- so no theory of matter means no theory of mind.
And it's not as though there is a higher court of appeal for this stuff. There isn't a context, let alone a structure, within physics that neuroscientists and biologists can jointly petition for redress or a yardstick to which they can even hypothetically affix mindedness or materiality, let alone enlist to officiate over a shotgun wedding. Movement toward one absolute wall is as good as toward another, and none of the walls, in this room anyway, are promising (or, finally, walls).
For starters, we don't know what gravity is. "Does," yes; "is," unh-uh! Think about it: a scientist can't do gravity. The stuff holding you to the Earth, the djinn propelling the Earth around the Sun, keeping the Sun compressed together in a blaze, the big oomph itself, is a total ringer. Plus there is no smoking gun tying it to either thermodynamics or entropy; they are like separate governments pretending to rule the same polity under different laws. Then quantum entanglement and superposition rule the identical polity under even less plausible laws and without heat's verifiable basis, while strings and superstrings fail utterly at anchoring their own bottom rung. They are all drifting in one another's contextlessness.
It takes slamming protons into each other head-on at relativistic speeds (i.e., close to the activation of light) to get even a glimpse of the Higgs boson or the original sticky nest of matter -- its purported building blocks plus the twenty-three percent that went missing into superparticles (dark matter, dark intelligence) at the beginning of time -- not to mention the possibility of composite quarks or the infinite mass of empty space and its "vacuum catastrophe." It is a series of tautologies running into other tautologies as well as into its own paradoxes, oxymorons, and quantum uncertainty states.
A universe of matter, which presents itself solely through mindedness, is infinitely dense and utterly transparent at the same time -- so it is as unmeasurable as it is undeniable.
In the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, speculative physicists and science-fiction authors have floated field theories to unify metaphysical and physical realities. Try these: 1. A parallel universe next to ours (hidden mass) has formed in a four-dimensional bubble and continues to impose itself here as gravity and dark matter. 2. When stars collapse, their black holes torsion matter through a wormhole (an Einstein-Rosen bridge) into white holes that shoot it into a different universe where it bubbles up as if from nowhere, so that the Big Bang forming this entire set-up may be mere discharge from the white hole of a collapsing star. 3. Billion-year-old civilizations are sending gamma-wave signals to us from another universe at the edges of our own space-time. 4. After anti-matter and matter annihilated each other a long time ago, we formed in shreds left by the götterdämmerung. 5. Every atomic configuration here, including you and me, repeats somewhere else in infinite space-time.
All these theories consider that 6. our universe is not a conventional all-inclusive universe but one aspect of a Multiverse, so the Big Bang may not be an originary explosion but one of many "Big Bangs," each creating a discrete continuum, each with its own laws.
Even so, science provides no waiver whatsoever for consciousness in its unified field theories because, of course, how could it if it doesn't even know what it is? Insofar as mind is officially the sum of trillionfold quantum -- synaptic calculations, it is never going to make it through a wormhole, black hole, white hole, cosmic bubble, or umbilical cord between parallel universes anyway. Consciousness is circumstantial, finite, eminently disposable. I would consider this one exception: perhaps the primordial ground luminosity of Big Mind is what ignited the Big Bang in the first place, gave it its intrinsic radiance, and bound light in a molten ball. Then it was distributed with matter into the expanding elasticity of three-dimensionality. Behind the material universe is a nonmaterial universe.
I want to take a shot at an alternative unified field theory to those of particle physics and astrophysics, the potpourri informally codesigned by Werner Heisenberg, Niels Bohr, Albert Einstein, Steven Weinberg, Stephen Hawking, Freeman Dyson, Michio Kaku, Nikodem Poplawski and the boys. Of course I am not constrained like them by laws of mathematics and physics, so I have a much easier task; still I can't just make stuff up or throw together any old hand-me-downs and contrivances; you wouldn't find that believable or interesting. What I say has to be rooted in parity at the depth and complexity of an actual system, not only sufficient but necessary, and address (as well) the existential situation in which we find ourselves: the condition of having to be wherever we are, no matter what is happening to us there. It has to be both metaphysical and physical, Swedenborgian and Einsteinian.
During Q&A after reading a few sections from a draft of this book (Boulder, Colorado, April 13, 2012), I was asked by a guy in the audience if I thought matter and spirit were separate things. I paused briefly, smiling at the absurdity of answering, then said simply, "No."
Everyone laughed, so he changed his question: "Do you think that matter came before spirit or spirit before matter or did both occur at the same time?"
To that I said, "Well, if I had to choose, I would say, Both at the same time,' but as soon as I said that, I would be faced with the fact that it was presumptuous and false and the other possibilities were equally true in their way. Matter first, spirit first, both together? -- it's not any of them because the moment you choose one, you realize that something else you have excluded by your answer is demanding equal time. It is matter before spirit, of course, and spirit before matter, of course, and both at the same time too, of course."
A few questions later another man asked, "Do you think we are inside the forward flow of time or is everything really happening at once?"
"Same question as that other one," I offered. "I think that everything is happening at once, but clearly that is not true because, well, here we are, demonstrably in a time-line and moving linearly one swift way. So, what we have to do is explain how everything could be happening at once and yet we could still be inside a flow of time. We have to make it so that everything happening at once can occur in such a way that it also feels like this, that it is embedded uniquely and discretely as well in a chronological belt. And the only way to do that is to move toward exactly what time feels like to you rather than an abstract epiphany of timelessness. The simple and indisputable circumstance of being in time, of being born into tick-tock, is what it feels like right now to you. That is the key, because by feeling it consciously and expansively, you begin to develop a sensation of time's timelessness. The paradox is, that by trying to feel its actual timelessness, you only experience the drumbeat of time, even more readily. It's all a paradox, but the resolution of that paradox is living the precise complication that it is."
Okay, for starters, why call it a Cosmic Eternity System? Why not just an Eternity System? An Eternity System transcends cosmic ghettoization. It is by far the more accurate designation.
I have tried the slicker name several times but always abandoned it and set it back the way it was, (one) because a "Cosmic" frame sets the Eternity System in cosmological space, parallel to the astrophysical field theories cited above; (two) because it draws our attention to the transgalactic sky; and (three) because it grounds us in the physical cosmos of Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo, et al.
So where in Sam Hell are we? That is, where are we located relative to anything or everything else? And where is the semblance (that we cling to so fundamentally, absolutely, and tenaciously) located?
The other night (October 8, 2011) I was invited to a young friend's birthday party in a backyard in Oakland. These are very sentient people, but they are also foodies and involved in the restaurant business so they decided to roast a whole pig on a spit over a fire. From any standpoint it was a graphic presentation. The animal's body had already turned into edible pork, but it was attached to landmarks of independent life and spirit: its teeth, toe-nails, and dead eyes reflecting the flames made the truth inescapable. As sunlight was slowly extinguished, fire more than sky illuminated the backyard-fire and the glistening pig. A few stars were visible beside a bright, near-full moon. The event wasn't only pagan and primitive; it was transubstantiational. The body-shape and residue of the pig were being transubstantiated, but so were we. Offhandedly someone remarked on the similarity of the pig to Christ nailed to the cross, but no one seconded the motion.
I couldn't find a way to get comfortable with the roasting pig except to go right at it. I took its vibration up above my crown chakra as high into the planes of consciousness as I could. I didn't count tiers; I just opened to a shift and jumped.
There I saw it, not so much against life on Earth, against humanity, or even against the stars as against everything that is anything. Only there did the roasting body of the pig fit and adjudicate itself with grace, integrity, or hope. Only there did it have a fallback position that didn't indict the universe for this outcome.
The Cosmic Eternity System is quintessentially about this: what is happening couldn't possibly be what it seems. What it seems either leads nowhere and is nothing, or leads everywhere while contradicting itself at every portal. Either way, it is impossible and uninhabitable-as much for magpies and hornets as for us. Just look around.
Well, nature must be filled with something, so here it is: mist, fires, wind tunnels, gaps, pivots, surf, tornados, dances, elections, wars, World Cups, online dating. Each stands for something, even stuff that makes no sense at all: the exorbitant, the cavalier, the wanton, the vicious, the shabby, the degenerate, the sadistic, the vandalistic, the inconstant.
But then again, if it is not what it seems, it is not happening -- so it is not a problem. It is habitable because its unlikeliness doesn't stop us from being here and getting the job done.
The Cosmic Eternity System in all of its richness, vastness, and surprise is the only thing that gets us out of our trap -- our trap of identity, our trap of neurosis, our trap of impending death, our trap of enlightenment, our trap of ennui, our trap of every lockdown theory of the universe (scientific or religious).
Only the Cosmic Eternity System provides a clue as to what we are going to do with the cosmos's shitload of absolute time and space-to say nothing of pure existential reality, to say nothing....
"Ding dong bell/Pussy's in the well./Who put her in?"
I am as clueless as you, so like Heraclitus's god whose oracle is still at Delphi, I shall neither reveal nor conceal but henceforth speak in riddles.
Little Johnny Green, indeed!
1. Mark Borax and Ellias Lonsdale, Cosmic Weather Report: Notes from the Edge of the Universe (Berkeley, California: North Atlantic Books, 2010), p. 191.
2. Pir Zia Inayat Khan, "A Hidden Treasure," unpublished manuscript, 2011. "All is perishing except His Face" is from the Qur'an 28:88; "The Earth was without form, and void" is from Genesis 1:2.
3. John Friedlander, "Focused Meditation," September 11, 2011.
4. Philip K. Dick, from "The Exegesis," unpublished essay, 1974, www.philipkdick.com/new_ex-thevictory.html. (In 1974, after he had an experience which he described as "an invasion of my mind by a transcendentally rational mind," Philip K. Dick began recording his thoughts about it in a journal called "The Exegesis.")
5. See Paul Radin, Primitive Man as Philosopher (New York: Dover Books, 1955), pp. 238-256.
Photo of a protozoan in a dark pool by gurdonark, courtesy of Creative Commons license.