Am reading (still) The Power of Now and simultaneously Biocentrism, an explanation of how consciousness is at the centre of the universe by Bob Berman and Robert Lanza, which means swinging between self-help and quantum physics. And they work together. In fact, everything is coming together because their conclusions tie into the beliefs I have been hesitantly formulating.
The resultant “cake” I have baked from these myriad ingredients has given me a stable centre amidst the quicksand of pain. You may toss my conclusions out of the window, but they have been of enormous help, so here goes.
I started from a Protestant upbringing, swinging away from organized religion in reaction to years of having to recite “we are miserable sinners and there is no health in us.” When I got so ill with undiagnosed celiac in the eighties, I was clinging to the possibility of hope, afraid of a judgemental god.
I read and pondered, literally “sick” of evil, hell fire, and confessing every night what was wrong with me. Knowing tragedy from very young, I kept asking, “is God cruel?” I was torn between two primal instincts: I couldn't believe in negativity and fear any longer – and I couldn't turn my back on God. Because, deep inside, I loved God.
My theories started biblically. “In the beginning was the word.” Suppose the universe was an idea in the mind of God? And we are needed to make it manifest. Then in Biocentricism came support: based on a detailed explanation of quantum physics: matter doesn't exist until observed. Until it is witnessed, a photon is neither a wave nor a particle, but a possibility – as soon as we see it, it takes on form. Here was corroboration that we are essential to the existence of the universe. Without consciousness, it simply isn't there.
This is analogous to how sight works. If we see an apple, it is not “out there”, sitting on a table, but pulsing energy that our eyes send to our visual cortex where it us then constructed into our perception of an apple.
So if the universe doesn't exist without our bearing witness, what is it? According to quantum physics, it is a possibility – a probability state. Like Schrödinger's cat, which was either alive or dead until the researchers checked. A pregnant mum holds two possibilities in her head until the scan shows her baby's sex.
If the universe is fizzing away like static on an old TV, waiting for an observer, then what is the energy from which it materializes? It is intelligent, looping into elegant equations in the blink of an eye. If it is John Wheeler's participatory universe, dependent on observers to bring it into existence, then it must have emotions – otherwise how would we love or hate?
To my mind, there has to be a life force, energy, flowing throughout. And it is within us – the God within, or the Great Spirit that Jill Bolte Taylor besought when she was having her stroke, It is the calm centre, the eye of the emotional storm that is our life. It is Erkhart Tolke's now.
So I now have a framework: an intelligent (loving?) energy free-fuzzing, only manifesting in the light of consciousness. So how do I live within that?
First, know that deep inner peace is not just within me, not my property, but the soul of the universe – in you and in me. Also in animals: we share the same old emotional brain. And they show deep harmony and wisdom. As Eckhart Tolle says, “I had six Zen masters – all of them cats.” I have learned so much about life from our cat Thea.
Let's start from this deep peace, that we occasionally glimpse as we tear past in life, the same sureness we act from in times of crisis, the same quiet we feel watching clouds – when we are fully present in the now. If this is my deep, eternal self, then what the heck is all that chatter in my head? Monkey Mind, acting on behalf of my ego.
I once heard the ego defined as our explanation of ourselves to ourselves: the way we make sense of our experiences. We construct our ego from our personal history, hurts and fears. We are animals, after all, and so our amygdala is en guard, reacting to perceived danger. Our ego is afraid, self-agrandising, defensive and often angry. It holds onto its constructed story, because if it lets go, it is done for. Eckhart Tolle tells how one day, in despair, he said, “I can't live with myself!” And then, who is this self I can't live with and, more important, who am the I who can't bear myself?
I don't believe in warfare, nor in killing my ego. All the phrases like “dying to the self”, or “living the crucified life” make me shudder with their cruelty. I think (and it's only my thought) that we need to move beyond the dichotomy of good and evil. We need to be present in the deep self. Yes, Monkey Mind dances feverishly, but from that deep self, I can see its tricks and let them go. Recognizing is sufficient. That explanatory self had many faults, but born of hurt and survival – like a child acting out. I can watch its antics, dislike its acts, but I don't hate the misguided ego. Just let it go. Live in the NOW.
PS. I want to write more about the discovery of the ego as Monkey Mind and how this understanding made a deep change in how I deal with pain, frustration, anger, guilt and more. Looking through my journal I see that it has been very quick, only a few weeks, once I got the idea. So that will follow.
The Power of Now: a Guide to Spiritual Enlightment by Eckhart Tolle. How to rest in your centre and become the observer of your ego, rather than run by it.
The Biocenctric Universe Theory: Life itself Creates Time, Space and the Cosmos itself by Bob Betman and Robert Lanza – Discover Magazine.
My Stroke of Insight: a Brain Scientist's Personal Journey by Jill Bolte Taylor. Her personal account of her stroke and the ineffable peace when her left brain (and the ego) released its grip.
The Participatory Universe – John Wheeler's theory.