There’s a force driving each of us, that has to be known – and perhaps it’s completely beyond our control, perhaps it’s beholden only to our genetic makeup and environment – and the whims of nature that have brought us about. There may be no such thing as free will and we may be mere spectators of a film – that’s happening to us. It seems fashionable to accept this as fact nowadays and to my mind, compelling enough to believe.
What gets in the way a little, though – intuitively at least – is that sense of importance that comes with awareness. The experience of being alive is so intensely hubristic – it’s such a spectacular dance of surfaces assembling to greet you wherever you go – and you’re there, wired into this beautiful feeling mainframe… and you have this innate desire to live and to thrive and a standard-issue delusion of deservedness for life’s hugest, unfathomably inaccessible, yet most compelling joys. Self belief is what keeps you alive.
So does that in itself prove we have some kind of agency? Is there anything in that sense of entitlement to choice? Is there any grain of veracity in believing that that which compels our self preservation is an insight into the nature of awareness in essence? What’s driving it to be known through material creatures in this way? Is it an oceanic endeavour to strive for better through the refinement of all living things? And who’s at the wheel if it is – is it us?
Well… if consciousness has arisen from matter alone, which many think it has – then our Universe would be entirely deterministic, since all matter operates in complete accordance with fixed scientific laws and absolutely nothing else.
So a simple argument, against determinism is that consciousness would be wholly unnecessary within that kind of materialistic paradigm, and hence evolution wouldn’t have brought it about or favoured it to the extent it has. To make things happen, nature may come up with robotic, decision making creatures, destined to play out their lives, according to their programming – but that would completely negate the requirement for the screen of awareness we’re experiencing now. These creatures could exist as viruses do – active and influential, intelligent in behaviour – but totally void of the agency we feel. Because… if consciousness came about from a purely material world, it wouldn’t have this experiential quality to it – there’d be absolutely no need for it.
That consciousness has arisen at all, indicates a requirement for meaningful choice.
Since an entirely material world would be necessarily deterministic, the appearance of consciousness by definition, therefore, also indicates that it doesn’t reside in matter – it joins us from somewhere else entirely.
Having never taken psychedelics, the main insights I’ve had into other ways of thinking (not necessarily correct ways) have come through diet and sleep deprivation. The first was the fact that it’s really quite apparent that time is a continuum along which we’re travelling, and not a force or direction that travels through us. We don’t see the past and future because they’re closed off to our perception, but they’ll always be present – time isn’t, as it seems to us – an ongoing perpetual NOW.
You can see it when you consider the fact that just as you have to embody space to exist, you also have to embody time, and just as you get a sense of movement, when you travel through space, you get that same sense with time – the thing behaves like another spatial dimension, really… The fact we’d make assumptions about the nature of time based on how it appears to us, with a vanishing past and a non existent future, is the same as us disbelieving in something beyond the horizon, just because we can’t see it.
And so rather than free will being absent, it may actually be all there is… The possibility of choice for the sentient, would arise if something like the many worlds theory was right, so that, branching off from this moment, are many possible next moments in which different action takes place. If it’s your consciousness that chooses which one you move into, and in some sense, what actually comes to be – then free will is your entire Universe. If the many worlds theory is wrong of course, and there’s only one possible future – then consciousness is pointless to throw into the mix.
So what would that Universe physically look like?
Imagine 3 concentric spheres… Curled up in a ball is the sphere of time, surrounding it is a planet sized sphere that’s the dimension of matter (or of length, breadth and height as we know it), and surrounding that, like a vast and enveloping ozone layer, is the dimension of consciousness.
Standing on the planetary ground, the sphere beneath your feet, is the plane that accommodates your physical body and all the other matter in the Universe. Or rather, it houses all the matter that’s contained in the Universe in this current moment – the planet is actually just the physical NOW. To get to the next moment, you need that terrain to transform into the same universal matter, only one moment older – you want the physical NEXT – you basically need a refresh of the planet you’re on.
So how does that happen? Well at the planet’s core, is that tennis ball of time – a tightly curled dimension, that’s joined to the planet’s surface, in the way length is to breadth – it’s another facet of the same phenomenon. It is in fact, the underside of the material plane – matter’s stage, if you will. It’s from this portal that the next piece of temporal terrain bubbles up to the planetary surface, providing the subsequent piece of track which houses all matter in the Universal NEXT. Whilst it gives you the next piece, it takes back the last. And on it goes, a temporal treadmill of space-time. Through this turnover of material terrain, you experience yourself and all matter, apparently ageing – and moving through time.
If we could see objects as they are, they’d look like long snakes of matter, since they accommodate the same bit of space, moment after moment. But since we ourselves are confined to NOW – a continually updating fragment of time – objects don’t appear snakelike, we can only see little now-sized cross sections of them and notice their ageing.
The dimension of Consciousness, I would place, as a greater concentric sphere than time and space because it’s the space in which time and matter rise up into actuality – again – in uber-limited slices of space-time. We can’t see our old selves, we can’t see any time or matter from the past or the future – all we see bubbling up from the portals of time and space to our constantly updating mental terrain – is the NOW – a very limited slice of what is. And just as time is the underside of matter – it, combined with matter is the underside of sentience.
In this present Universe, Consciousness is an umbrella dimension, I imagine – not one that’s curled at the core of time, because if it were, it’d be able to experience more time than those little temporal slices we’re confined to. If it were folded within matter, and not confined to that which is, again, presented to us in slices, it wouldn’t be pinned to that one geographical space, and would rather be, as time is, omniscient. No, Consciousness surrounds time and matter to cast its fish-eye lens over the vast branches of what could be, seeing only what’s under it’s gaze, rendering all else theoretical potentiality.
So in this model, the idea that nothing happens unless it’s perceived, is true – because our minds are that Coronal Screen, onto whose surface, space-time continually bubbles, and that which doesn’t…. well to our instruments – is literally NOWHERE to be found …er… at least not within that conscious Universe. Schrodinger’s Cat would be dead and alive (well, to you, not to it of course). And perhaps that’s what dark matter is – The Edges of THEN touching what we have NOW. The past with all the matter it houses, is gone because it’s receded back into the tennis ball portal of time… and the future’s not present because it’s yet to arise from it.
So what does this mean about mortality? It means your bubble will burst one day – or rather, it may well shut down and recede back into space and time, to be unified, once more with all that is. It means that we live in illusory confinements of consciousness and in reality we’re all essentially one thing.
And how does this relate to free will? Well again, I have a common sense-based theory here that I think proves, theoretically that the many-worlds theory is right. And where the many-worlds theory is right, Dear Reader, you always have a theoretical choice about what your next move in time is going to be – by the very fact that several possibilities are presented.
Now there’s some, albeit sketchy evidence that there are many choices – through experiments like the double-slit test which implies that photons exist in waves of probability. The act of observing a photon, collapses that wave into one single location – hence it could be extrapolated from this that for some things, there is more than one possibility available to us, for each present moment in turn and the act of observation chooses one from the many.
I never realised, the many-worlds theory was “a thing” at all because I’d arrived at something like it, simply by obsessively trying to think my way out of the grim finality of death – so that it feels to me as though, anyone who follows this line of reasoning will come to the same conclusion.
Given eternity, a monkey sitting at a typewriter will type every book that’s ever been written, just through chance alone. (And it will in fact do this an infinite number of times – let’s grant it some bloody ambition, already). This is a good way to illustrate the fact that any phenomenon, such as a book, is simply the coming together of a finite combination of factors, in this case letters – and given eternity, or given an infinite number of trials, all possible combinations of these factors, will arise. And hence – all possible books will arise. Not once, but an infinite number of times.
From there we can conclude that anything that can happen, will happen, not just once, but endlessly. And that includes our own personal consciousness. So if time was linear, then all possible happenings involving you would be expressed upon a linear timeline that sprawls ever onward into the future. Even though you being born, required so much to happen this time round; the appearance of the Planet Earth, the evolution of humans – the fact you’re here, means it’s just a finite combination of factors – so it’s one that will continue to happen, eternally. And though at times, your life will play out exactly as it has this time around – it’ll also happen differently at times, and you’ll experience the full range of what could be for you.
But of course, this analogy would be flawed, if laid out on a temporal track that was LINEAR… because parts of your being you now, are those PHYSICAL slices of time and matter that you inhabit. For stuff to happen to you, the REAL you, they’d have to follow along the same exact pieces of time and matter for at least part of your life journey – even if it was only your gestation. Therefore because part of YOU is in these specific pieces of space and of time – everything that could possibly happen to you, happens to the you that’s here now – it’s all housed in hydra-headed moments of possibility that branch off from this area of track.
So we have something that looks like a tree – moments branching out of moments, and twigs of time, branching off from those moments in turn. It’s from this tree of possibility that consciousness chooses a fragment of space-time for each successive now – it’s from this that pieces are being issued from the portal of time at the core of our being.
Although here’s a difficult bit: this topography means in a sense that eternity, involves time going back on itself and expressing things in different ways – it would mean that eternity is in one respect finite, though with infinite resolution – but yes, it’s restricted by one thing – what could possibly be.
The time and space within you – those portals inside all matter – house your dreams and your nightmares, and at your surface, at your “what is”, you perhaps have agency to manifest what you want.
Or perhaps you don’t.
Like I say, the materialist’s model of life, is deterministic. If you’re brought up a certain way, if you’re exposed to certain happenings, your brain will always go along this track, and will always make each decision you make in the way you’ve made it – and you are in effect, living out a pre-written story. But what makes me wonder if thinking can bring about the reality you want, is again, something hinted at, by the 3-sphere analogy…
So there you are, on your planet of matter and it seems as though the time-track being bubbled up to the surface of what is, is pre-determined – it’s the one issuing you with a constantly updating material terrain, and you just have to live with that as it is. But do you actually though? Because you can choose to move some of that matter around – and what you move dictates the section of time-tree that’s going to have to be issued from the portal. In moving objects about, you’re specifying aspects of the future you want – and time has to honour those by following that bit of track.
Therefore as you move in space, so you choose certain physical pathways for your Universe, temporally… These movements you decide upon, could of course be borne of the physical deterministic brain issued to you by the time-track of course but I doubt it…
Because as it is with matter, steering time, so it may be with the dimension of matter being forced to reflect what the aegis of consciousness decides. As you think, so matter conforms.
If there is no separate dimension of consciousness at all, and all decisions are materially driven, then there wouldn’t be an array of next possible moments – there’d only ever be one, physically possible future for every point on the space-time nexus. But if it were thus, and we were all just part of one elaborate Rude Goldberg machine – experiential consciousness, agency, the capacity to choose – would have never arisen at all. And if it came up by accident, nature wouldn’t favour it.
But it could be the case, that without consciousness, there’d be nothing at all. Just as nothing could exist without time – all the dimensions are mandatory! And it’s that dimension of consciousness that provides the space in which time and space perform their parade. If this plane holds some or all of our agency within it, and the brain and heart merely tints its end view… well, what we think could well be the force that’s reflecting that back at us in the physical world we’re manifesting. And the will’s all there is.
I don’t think I write very elegantly on this stuff, because I don’t have time to do more than one read through really. I’ll go over this and refine it at some point, but now, I’ve got to catch a train, innit?
(More on this at some point later – including, how do conscious creatures on different tracks manage to interact with each other and so on…)