Friday, August 15, 2014

Gaining Consciousness -- Hooray now what?

Imagine you are a point on a line in a plane in a space. But you don't know that since you're just a point. You don't even know you're a point.

So you're pushed and pulled but all the other points around you and you respond, according to the physical laws and your environment (made up of other points, just like you).

Somehow you gain consciousness. The exact process is hazy, since you were not conscious for at the beginning, and your conscious mind has no access to the mind that was before it.

First you realize that you are part of a line. This makes you feel happy. You belong in an infinitely large and united community. On your own you are each points, but together you are greater; you are a line.**

Next you realize that you are part of another line. While the first line you noticed still exists, it does feel slightly less special. Then another line, and suddenly you understand that you are not just the intersection of 3 or 4 lines, you are the intersection of an infinite number of lines. The slight loss you experienced in realizing that the line you were a part of was not unique is completely overshadowed by your newfound awe for your new community, which is made up of an infinite number of points. And this infinity is not like the previous infinity of the number of points in a line; it is a greater infinitiy: that of a plane.

Now you feel content. Until a familiar feeling creeps in. You realize you are the intersection of an infinite number of planes just as you are the intersection of an infinite number of lines. Another, greater, feeling of loss overwhelms you. Until another, greater feeling of oneness and community replaces it.

Now, finally, you must be content. You go on living this way for a while. Maybe you even realize that there are infinitely many volumes just as there were infinitely many lines and planes. Together, those make up something greater than the sum of its volumes. And of course there are infinitely many of those, and so on.

You are a point, but you are also an integral part of the larger wholes. And while you don't have access to it, it is completely consistent to assume that inside of you are an infinite number of things with an infinite number of things in them, etc.

Now what is your agency, considering you have just leveled up from the idea of levels itself? It is clear that the fractal goes on forever, in all directions. What does that make "you?"

Just as with every realization you have had, there have been two ways to look at it. The first is the negative one: your uniqueness (as a point, as a line, as a plane, etc.) is gone. There are infinitely many, just like you! And the second is the positive one: 'you' are not just a point, rather 'you' can be redefined as the larger whole. Since you are part of a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts (but is made up of only its parts), you must be important! Somehow this doesn't comfort you, however, and you look for another positive spin.

You try to consider each level on its own, but the interconnectedness you already understand undermines that attempt to self-censor.

You decide that if only all the points had this consciousness, you could all decide to do something together. But what would you do? If you are part of larger and larger wholes, you are equally insignificant to them. If you take this community organizing to the extreme, you run into the problem of context. Even if you somehow got ALL the other points and larger wholes conscious, what would you decide to do?

Good and bad only make sense in context, like direction only makes sense in a space. So you zoom out in search of context and orientation and realize you haven't gotten ALL the larger wholes.

Okay so then finally you do that and you really get all the larger wholes. You are the entire universe, constantly expanding at every point. What shall you decide to do? Expand faster? Contract? Try to remain in some dynamic equilibrium? Actions at that level are a bit meaningless too.

You decide to explore in another direction. The best you can do as a larger whole yourself is to do right by your parts. You do your very best to act in a way that is aligned with the way in which you are interconnected with everything, follow your inner compass, and in doing so, do your part.

Well isn't that what you were doing before you gained consciousness? Subject to the forces of the points around you, you simply responded, without over-thinking, to the larger and smaller forces.

It seems like you are back where you started, but a little more miserable. Maybe ignorance is really bliss, you wonder. No, it looks like the same place, but it is very different; you haven't gone in a circle, you've gone in a spiral.

Just as when learning to drive a car you first have to be conscious of every aspect, and when the skill is mastered conscious awareness is no longer necessary, so too here, consciousness has done its part and can relax.

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