If you throw a pebble into a pond, ripples move out from where it sank – patterns. There are patterns in a pond and there are patterns in a human life too. It is very hard to see the patterns in a life for most of them come from unconscious sources. The patterns within our lives reflect the structured patterns of our minds. What is ‘outside’, that is the shape of our lives, reflect what is ‘inside’. For this reason, patterns can be important but we get more out of them if we are not too hasty to pin them down with explanations. Constancy is about watching all your thoughts and feelings: the act of watching (constantly) is more important than interpreting what you see. The act of watching all the time allows the deeper feelings to surface. So also with watching patterns, allow their meaning to emerge over time rather than be too quick to fix their meaning.
You have a clear pond in front of you. You drop a pebble at on end of the pond and quickly drop a pebble in at the other end. At first, the ripples spread out uninterrupted. Then the two converging sets of ripples meet, interference occurs and a new set of ripples forms. When two patterns meet, they create a third pattern. Cause can be seen but it is complex. Too often we see “third pattern” and assume the second pebble caused it. Really, it is interaction and interference that caused the third pattern. We look for interaction but mostly we find interference. Another reason that caution is best exercised when looking at patterns.
Patterns also have phases, indeed, time may be a pattern. There is movement. We move from one state to another; we move from one place to another. We look back and identify a “past”, that is where we have moved from. We look forward to where we expect to “go”, to travel to. Even if I sit still and do nothing, it is not a “nothing”, my body is decaying, my brain is moving from one state to the next. States like “being still”, “balance” and “nothing” are thus illusions and linguistic conventions only. We invent time, by creating a measurement system, seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, years. And then we have to modify it by creating nanoseconds and even smaller units. But really, this measuring is just an act of perception, codified and mechanised to be sure, but it is still us looking.
Time is probably a perceptual invention, albeit a very clever and evolutionary required one. Whichever direction our perception goes, whether out in to the astonishing distances of cosmology, or in, towards the even more astonishing distances of the sub-atomic, it is just a form of travelling, we move from one perception to another, from near to far and back. In the same way that “nothing” and “balance” are illusions, temporary linguistic and perceptual conventions, so to is the concept that “things end”. The most we could say is that a phase might end. However, phases are connected to other phases, both consecutively and concurrently, this is demonstrable in almost any place you look. Phases are parts of patterns. So, death is the end of a phase. “You” die but the body decays into something else or is burned and converted to gas and ashes. If consciousness is just a by-product of neural complexity, then it ends when the neural network decays. Then again, phases are connected consecutively and concurrently; if this is true (and we can see it certainly seems to be true), why would consciousness be the only thing not connected to other phases? Seen this way, consciousness cannot be an isolate thing, even if we cannot see the connections, because there are no isolate things, save for convention and temporary linguistic convenience.
There was thread of postings on Facebook that discussed many things about possible future states of being and society. The combined comments prompted me to add this :
“Such food for thought, how wonderful, thank you all. I am wondering if there is some other pattern at work as well. It is certainly in our nature to try and alleviate or dispense with suffering. And it seems to be in our nature to model ideal future states to aim for, thus informing our current actions. Yet I am also a fan of dialectics. It always seems that tomorrow’s problems are being nurtured in today’s solutions. I am not advocating scepticism, ( I plan like mad everyday) but I cannot help but feel we may benefit from being a tadge more cautious in our expectations. Neurobiological control, gradients of bliss, AI singularity, harvesting resources from asteroids – bring it on. Will it be better? Yes. In the same way that we can point to things being better now than in medieval times. Will it be a lot better and have more meaning? Maybe not. Restless minds may broker the future but peace of mind may be what we are actually looking for . . . .”
Posted on Facebook in March 2014.
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