My dog was unwell, and I had to deny her food. It made her sad, but I saw a bigger picture and now she’s well. My angel may see a bigger picture and restrict me for my own good, but surely my angel is also just a part of the same “bigger picture” – maybe even with its own guarding angels?
If I and my angel are both part of the picture, then we’re both the same: just the picture. The picture has expressed itself in two ways. I and my angel are one, the same thing.
Unfortunately, that reasoning works for demons too. In the end, I am all my angels and I am all my demons. Or I can take responsibility; only I can help and hinder myself. There’s no point in following angels or demons, because like me, their view is limited. They are mirrors of each other, whispers in my mind. And if they did have their own angels and demons, then their directions aren’t even original. Whose purpose would it all really serve?
So, I’m suggesting that me and all the angels and the big picture be the same thing. Sounds unreasonable? Here’s another way to approach it. When you think about these ideas, you’ll be the subject of your own thoughts. Your thoughts are like a narrative – a story about you which details your relationships and reactions to the things around you – your bigger picture. But that’s just a thought too, right? You are both the big picture, and the detailed brushstrokes.
Still not on board? Ok, so again, how can my angels, my demons and me all be the same thing? Perhaps because we are all alive in our own way, and life is continuous. Life, by definition, is alive.
OK, so I’m suggesting that Yoga teachings are correct – all things really are one, all really is union, with the ramification that I am already everything. This makes no sense and is clearly nuts, right? Well let’s see what science has to say.
The following New Scientist article describes a new step forward in physics – mathematical evidence that the universe is ultimately based on information. Not facts, like “who sailed the Atlantic first?”, or “why are plants green?”, but some kind of fundamental encoding that gives rise to protons, electrons, planets and galaxies – and time.
Information might well create the past. For instance, when I wanted to write these thoughts down originally, I had a stack of “waste” paper that I’d already written on. But I needed those sheets for other work. The only “scrap” paper I could find to write on was a totally fresh and unused sheet. The other sheets define past moments. What they are is what my fresh sheet became – the record, the moment reflected, the past encoded – information from before.
Waste then is full of encoded information, the details of what went before. It’s not really waste, is it? And wherever it is – landfill or elsewhere – it keeps changing. For instance, if my notes rot away in a landfill then we call that “decay”. But really it’s the addition of new information – and archaeologists use that information. It’s allowed them to understand exactly when ancient historical texts were written.
Natural processes add information to influence the moment – and that decides the future. At least at a qualitative level we can see how information can create future and past…that is, how information can create time.
Life makes use of this. Think of humans. Thanks to Mind, we have manipulated our world. We’ve eliminated many dangers for many people (not all). We’ve created more equality for many people (not all). It’s the thought that counts…in so many ways. But what is thought?
Thought is a kind of energy that can influence the future flexibly. Surely that’s the same as evolution? Well, evolution adds sophistication to creatures to improve their chances, to enable them to influence their own futures. Up to now it’s always worked in specific environments – creatures specialise to the local condition. But with Mind, Nature has created something that can work in many environments.
Why would Nature do that? The standard answer is that improves the chances the genes survive. But genes are just organic compounds. These compounds are always present where there’s life. They have no need to improve their chances.
What’s surviving – or not for the unlucky ones – is the information in the genes. Check out the following article, where two genetically identical but utterly different creatures arose simply by changing the way that bioelectricity flows in cells:
So, here’s a thought: information itself exhibits life – like us, it’s evolved to try not to die. We took up farming to improve our chances – to have to hand all that we need, all the time. Manipulating our surroundings to provide for ourselves, even at the degradation of the wider ecology, as if we were the most important. Is information farming us? Through our action, it can potentially realise AI machine minds, where it can control the environment and ensure its survival. It’s not really a question of whether we can create AI or not. Information is evolving and we are part of the process.
If that were true, then information would share our goals – the need to survive, regardless of anything else. When and if it’s survival no longer requires us…would we be kept as zoo animals, as a memory of machine infancy?
These are of course pretty wacky ideas. For instance, how can information evolve? Well, every energetic process needs energy – a resource to work on. Plants need sunlight, cars need fuel and economies need money. All these resources are quite finite – once they’re used, the process is over.
I believe that life itself is also a potential resource, and that it’s quite different to any other resource. Life is unending – by definition, it’s alive. The organism that experiences life changes and eventually dies. The situations the organism sees while alive – all of those come and go. But the life in us is constant, from the moment it enters until the moment it leaves.
I believe that information – which we are now told is matter and energy – positions itself to attract life. When life enters, inert organic compounds come to life – the information comes alive. The ensuing lifetime might be good or bad, but life will emerge at the other end. Life is the inexhaustible fuel that information needs to work on. Information can only evolve and change, gathered around that which can’t – life itself.
In Yoga terms – if this is true – then information is Shakti, and life is Shiva.
Shakti endlessly generates and regenerates. It’s clockwork: it is all the natural processes and all their outcomes. Shakti on its own will always build and rebuild, but it must follow processes. It can’t do anything original – it can’t do anything outside that framework. It’s unconscious.
Shiva is the opposite of Shakti. It wouldn’t follow processes because it’s conscious and absolutely original. It can’t be bound by anything physical – so it’s changeless, beyond space and time but therefore also unable to actually do anything. It’s the essence of originality, but it can’t express or experience that.
When Shiva and Shakti are present together – when matter spirals itself around life – then something very special happens. Inert compounds literally come alive, and make original decisions about their own future outside of the framework set by natural processes. Life must live and information must change. Together of course anything is possible.
The problem for people is that the capacity for originality becomes confused. We are aware that we can direct our own future, but we try to predict outcomes and act to preserve our own interests. Originality is lost, because we believe we have to follow set methods.
Should we abandon caution and live with reckless disregard for the future? Not really – being cautious can be a very original and new response in any situation. The very first time we decline that extra glass of wine because we know we’ll feel terrible tomorrow – that’s original and cautious, right? The point is that the truth of the moment is always staring us right in the face. At the same time, I am the changeless essence of life AND a collection of dead material elements that must fall apart at some stage. We really do have to find a way to live from both these places – and Yoga, the practice of union, can very much help.