Archive for December, 2018

How Humans Create Time

Quantum consciousness?

 The issue that has kept me up for the greatest number of nights is, of course, time and its relationship to entropy. Entropy APPEARS to create the arrow of time; I use the aging and death example as the most obvious result of entropy and our clearest link to something we call ‘time’ passing. However, if Lorenzo Maccone’s theory is true, the processes of increasing and decreasing entropy happen all of the time; in other words, events ‘undo’ themselves on a regular basis. The way we store memory, however, excludes the possibility of recalling any event or circumstance where entropy decreased. Therefore, due to our selective memory processes, we only see ourselves as ‘falling apart’ due to the laws of thermodynamics, leading to the rusting of our physical bodies and our eventual decline. However, the opposite processes could be happening–there are scenarios where we are growing younger–if you define younger as a state of lower entropy in the cells of our body–yet, our brain could not record those instances as memories due to the fact that memory only records events correlated to higher entropy, events which appear to have ‘results’ or represent change. 

The idea that there are entire realities where our scenarios are radically different from the one that we are currently experiencing seems hard to accept, but it resolves the entropy problem without attempting to define something that for all intents and purposes, has no independent existence (time). Entropy is the only process that appears to create an ‘arrow’ of time, since the physical processes involved move predictably towards dissolution (from highly ordered to disordered, or towards uniformity in a closed space, resulting in the breakdown of the physical organism in the case of old age). If, however, we don’t remember the instances when entropy decreased, we would only be able to perceive events and processes in the same way, i.e., as ‘moving’ forward and causality based. Event ‘A’ appears to cause event ‘B’, but only because we have correlated higher entropy states with causal change. In reality, we are selectively perceiving events and creating meaning that is not inherent in those events at all. 

The following is a quote by Robert Lanza is his most recent article debunking the notion that quantum gravity is responsible for the “arrow of time” perception:

As the direction of the arrow of time is associated with the increase of von Neumann entropy, the observer A is simply unable to recall behavior of the subsystem A associated with the decrease of its von Newmann entropy in time. In other words, if the physical processes representing “probing the future” are possible to physically happen, and our observer is capable to detect them, she will not be able to store the memory about such processes. Once the quantum trajectory returns to the starting point (“present”), any memory about observer’s excursion to the future is erased. It thus becomes clear that the discussion of the emergence of time (and physics of decoherence in general) demands somewhat stronger involvement of an observer than usually accepted in literature.” 

Memory depends on certain ideas and assumptions: first and foremost, that the ‘past’, ‘present’, and ‘future’ somehow exist as separate categories of spacetime, and that memory can only store (somehow) past events and circumstances, not future ones. To remember a future event would imply that the human brain is capable of ‘storing’ it somehow, and we are not wired to recall or be aware of events that are not tied to quantum decoherence (quantum decoherence brings quantum systems into a classical state). Does a decrease in entropy make quantum decoherence impossible? If quantum decoherence creates or makes possible memory storage, then yes; no memories can form if no wave functions collapse to create the necessary traces of ‘past’ events. In other words, events that appear to move backwards would reduce entropy, and therefore leave no trace of ever having happened–therefore, no memory could form of an event undoing itself. If the new memory theories are valid, and the brain is a quantum-based organism, then decoherence would create memories and would therefore be dependent upon entropy increasing. Decoherence could not occur (and thus no memories created) if entropy were to decrease. The quantum state would remain in flux; the wave functions would never collapse. 

You and I, as observers, collapse wave functions and bring reality into focus. This assumes, of course, that consciousness plays a fundamental role in creating our sense of reality, time, and causality. If indeed our observations–or our interaction–with a quantum-based reality creates what we experience and remember, then it’s equally clear that we don’t remember most of what happens to us. Any event or process that involves a decrease in entropy would never make it into our memory banks–how much of our lives have we forgotten?

What follows is pure speculation on my part, and it’s quite possible that my status as layperson will lead me astray in terms of the science; so if a reader knows that my ideas are not supported by physics or any other field of the sciences, please let me know. We only perceive our lives to be moving forward due to the association we have created between entropy and events we associate with it. For example, if I have a new wrinkle on my face, I assume that the wrinkle is directly related to time passing, since I don’t remember seeing it before. I also associate the wrinkle with decay, since I know that collagen breaks down ‘over time’, a direct result of entropy: things fall apart, they don’t come back together. My wrinkle, then, is evidence for time, because I am comparing two events: my face without the wrinkle, and my face with the wrinkle. I project into the future the reality of more wrinkles and more collagen collapse, because that’s the pattern I am observing. I compare, sequence, and make assumptions about the future, because aging is tied to the appearance of the wrinkle (more wrinkles appear when entropy increases). I remember my face without wrinkles: the image of myself with a smooth face is burned into my brain as a reality that ‘happened’. 

If we make no assumptions about the process that I have described, it looks different. If I had no memory of my face without wrinkles, then I would have no reaction to the image in the mirror. It would signify nothing. Meaning is created via memory. If there is no memory, there is no change and no time, as there is nothing to compare our current experience of reality with. What is memory? A trace that an experience leaves behind in the brain (and this is not a given; nobody really knows where memories are ‘stored’) that can be accessed in the present moment every time we activate the memory. Actually, we’re really only remembering the last time we remembered, creating an infinite regress whereby the original ‘event’ is totally lost (or existing somewhere else in the present moment). The only memories that can be successfully ‘stored’ and recalled are those which involve the ‘falling apart’ or ‘cooling off’ or ‘disorganizing’ processes of entropy. When we throw the ball at our friend, hit his head, witness him howl in pain, and suffer punishment, we are witnessing entropy in action: it creates the illusion of cause and effect, energy output and heat loss, action and reaction, first this happened and then that was the result. This is how we create stories and narratives and assign meaning to events (never throw a ball at someone’s face or you’ll get into trouble). Because there was a consequence to the action, it appears that time is involved. Action A led to Result B, and that can only happen where time moves forward. 

And yet. All we have here is a series of events. Is it possible that multiple scenarios played out that day? Perhaps I was punished before I threw the ball. Perhaps the injury to my friend happened at the same time I threw the ball. Perhaps I never threw the ball and nothing happened; or my friend caught the ball, and no injury resulted. Maybe the whole scene played out in reverse. I would only remember the scenario that resulted from the Second Law of Thermodynamics. All other scenarios would vanish into the ether, or perhaps play out in the infamous multiverse. 

Infinite scenarios played out that day, but the fact that I only remember one of them is required to live a human life. We are, in part, biological creatures who must obey the natural laws of the universe. If we could remember all the scenarios that were created that day, we would be paralyzed by infinity. We could not organize our lives, could not function in material reality, and would never learn that there are natural consequences of our actions. The moral imperative would vanish if there were no cause and effect. If I can commit murder and that murder is only a crime in one of the multiple scenarios that split off into infinite dimensions, there would be no “I”, no sense of self, to experience the horror of taking someone’s life. Any action of mine would instantly become trivial, since it would result in multiple outcomes, none of which I would take any responsibility for. 

 The main point, then, is that the sense of self depends on the illusion of time and causality. At the level of ultimate reality, there is no time, no space (check out Julian Barbour’s THE END OF TIME), no causality, no actions resulting in consequences. Events shift around and reconfigure in infinite patterns. It is consciousness that organizes and arranges events into time and space. We create the past, move through the present, and anticipate an illusory future. We can all agree that the future doesn’t exist; yet, we don’t see how we’ve experienced an equally illusory past. The only evidence of the past shows up in the present moment as traces of various kinds. Those traces can only point to themselves; we have to grant the traces (memories, documents, photos, records) existential meaning and authority in the now, via a consensus community. You cannot point to something called the past. You can only point to the traces of it in the present moment. You call your own mental processes the ‘past’ because you ‘remember’ the events in one, specific way. Our sense of reality is based on comparison to others’ sense of ‘what happened,’ on a created continuity between events and experiences. 

Many would argue that it is the broad, ontological agreement among us that proves the reality of time. I would argue that consensus creates reality itself based on a shared understanding that time exists and our lives follow a sequence and a chronology. Our human brains filter, reduce, manage, and organize information in very similar ways; it’s what they’re designed to do. But we shouldn’t confuse our physiology with reality itself. We only understand the world in a certain way during normal, ‘ordinary’ waking consciousness; however, there are multiple states of consciousness where our brains stop creating the world in the particular way they do when operating in consensus mode. For 6-8 hours a day, we are in an entirely different state of consciousness where all the rules regarding time, causality, space, and reality are suspended completely. We don’t consider that to be abnormal or extraordinary. We simply don’t know how to navigate and comprehend altered states of consciousness. We don’t get the ‘rules’, and we don’t know how to share that state with others, so we decide that anything that happens, anything that we experience in these ‘other’ states of consciousness is somehow false, unreal, and tells us nothing about the how the universe might actually work unbound from our sense organs. 

We confuse our sense organs with reality itself. It’s a basic mistake. The universe is far more complex and creative than our brains allow it to be. I believe that there are ways to expand our knowledge and understand of reality that extend beyond the information that we can glean during our normal, waking hours. Just what that might look like or how it might happen will be the subject of future posts . . . 

So stay tuned, dear readers, if there are any left at this point!!

–Kirsten A. Thorne, PhD

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I had this brilliant idea to write about Lanza’s Biocentrism theories, tackle his ideas regarding time, discuss the withering criticisms he has received, and make some grand statement regarding my beliefs . . . and after a quick search, I realized that I had written about ALL of that before; in May of 2012, to be exact. That sent shivers up my spine, thinking that maybe I have officially run out of new things to say or novel avenues to explore. After all, I’ve stated more than once that after my big ‘direct experience’ illuminations, there’s not much left to say. However, I have at least another 43 years on the planet, so the spiritual search can’t truly be over. I have to give this another shot. 

I still disagree that the moon isn’t there if no conscious observer is viewing it. Lanza seems to believe that all of material reality is created by us. Did he ever address the fact that quantum experiments have demonstrated that no conscious observer is necessary to collapse a wave function? On the other hand, his critics fiercely attack the very idea of consciousness not arising from brain functions, and make equally radical statements regarding promissory materialism (one day, we’ll explain everything, including the hard problem of consciousness). If you want to sound smugly superior to Lanza, Chopra, or anyone with whom you disagree about the nature of consciousness, just employ the term ‘woo’ to describe your rival’s theories, and you will magically appear logical, scientific, super smart, and way too sophisticated to be taken in by crazy, New Age crap like disappearing moons. But I digress. 

As a language teacher, I often wonder about critics who turn nasty. I think the venom and insults come from a place of fear and misunderstanding. When one’s world view is challenged or threatened, we generally result to a defensive posture. Lanza and Chopra place consciousness in a primary position and equate humans to God, in some respects; that detonates insecurity and outrage, resulting in linguistic smack downs on the part of the existentially aggrieved. However, the real problem is that we don’t know what we’re talking about when we use terms like ‘consciousness’ and ‘awareness’. Words are referents, of course, but sometimes the concept we are referring to is so nebulous as to defy consensual definitions. We rely on a community of peers to validate reality, which is another way of saying that we rely on said community to agree on what words mean, what they ‘refer’ to; we all struggle with what ‘consciousness’ points to, how it’s experienced, and what could possibly ‘produce’ it. In addition, we assume that only one form of this nebulous concept is valid, i.e., ‘normal, waking, consensus consciousness’. We assume that one state of consciousness can give us all accurate and substantially similar versions of what we experience ‘out there’ in the world, and that we can accurately communicate that reality to each other and assume that we all agree, mostly, on what’s observed. 

We define reality itself based on a linguistic agreement that our words refer to the same phenomena out there in the observable world. Where we find consensus, we discover what is real and quantifyable; but, all we have done is discover that we agree on the proper language with which to discuss and analyze what we experience. It can never be anything but an approximation, an inexact description of what we perceive. We confuse our translation of experience into language for reality itself. In other words, you and I agree on descriptors for a rose bush, and our five senses appear to be giving us the same feedback (again, based on communications between us), so we assume that the rosebush is ‘out there’ and real, because we can compare notes, talk about it, bleed from the prick of the thorns, inhale a lovely fragrance, and so on. Our common culture understands the experience of the rosebush a certain way; we name things according to our language and our shared use of that language, and therefore that rosebush is materially real, because we have enough consensus to declare it thus. 

But let’s say that I dreamt of a rosebush, and in that dream, the roses have emotional and symbolic content that is later explained by a Jungian therapist and disciple of Freud. Suddenly, the rosebush becomes the expression of blooming sexuality fraught with the dangers of unbridled desires (thorns). Does my dream rosebush exist? It does for me and the representatives of psychoanalysis; there is a community of professionals out there who can interpret the rosebush that I experienced in an altered state of consciousness. But, you might argue, that rosebush is a product of my mind; I am the only one who experienced it in that particular way. But what of all the people who have rosebush dreams? There are more than just a few of us. Is our dream flower unreal? Materialism requires a consensus and real, physical effects; but what if several of us who have dreamt of roses were all deeply affected by the experience and were healed of deep, emotional scars resulting from sexual repression? 

Could it be that all rosebushes, no matter where or how we run into them, are products of the mind? We privilege waking consciousness as the only state of mind that can provide information on the ‘real’ world. Imagine for a moment that you and five of your friends ate a few grams of ‘magic’ mushrooms and were told to observe a rosebush. In an hour or so, you would all be gathering data on that rosebush that would be unavailable to those operating in ordinary consciousness. Does that mean that there is far more to a rosebush than our ‘normal’ awareness is capable of perceiving? If those flowers become infinitely more complex and expanded, then which version of the rosebush is the ‘true’ one? Are we seeing the ‘real’ rosebush when our consciousness allows enlarged perception, or when we’re dreaming? Or, as the materialists would argue, is the rosebush only as real as our consciousness is ‘normal’ and our community is in agreement? What if all of the psychedelic observers notice similar phenomena affecting the presentation of the rosebush? Does that mean the rosebush is something other than what we perceive it to be after the psychedelic effect has faded? Does a fly see the same rosebush? A dog? A squirrel? A praying mantis? Of course not. Yet whatever they see is not included in ‘reality,’ because reality can only be defined by sober, sane, culturally homogenous human adults who speak a common language and share common assumptions. 

The more one considers ‘reality,’ the more it seems clear that the outside world clearly exists outside of us, but is a product of interpretation and consensus. The fact that material reality APPEARS stable and consistent (I know that the same drinking glass I used last night will still be sitting on the counter in the morning) and is subject to entropy in predictable ways (I know what kind of mold is going to grow on the cheese I left in the fridge, and I know approximately when it’s going to start creeping across the edges), makes reality testing fairly simple for the sane, sober, adult, human participating in the Western scientific paradigm. We are so good at reality interpretation that we almost never have to wonder if the sun is going to come up or if the cat will barf on the rug. These things are bound to happen; reality is predictable. 

Ah, but not always. Reality can crack and bend and warp in many, many, ways. I have written extensively on how what we assume is real melts away or transforms into something that does not follow the rules. In the end, the world is a collaboration. There is something out there, clearly; we can call it a rosebush or a moon, but there is a reality that swarms around us in constant interplay with our brains and spirits. It’s a creative vortex of information that we organize and label for our convenience. There may never be a single rosebush out there, but rather a multilayered one shimmering in and out of multiple dimensions and imagined and reimagined by all the creatures who ‘see’ it. And while the thorns prick our fingers and make us bleed, to the aphid it’s just another mountain to climb on the way to the paradise of nectar that awaits in a few hours’ travel–not that time means anything to an aphid. 

I do realize that I strayed far from Deepak Chopra and Robert Lanza, but only in appearance. I like to think that this would make perfect sense to them, and that I have summarized at least a small portion of what they’ve been saying all along. As to what I ‘believe’, well, everything is a collaboration and a creation. I appreciate the fact that the world appears predictable and solid and that I know what’s on T.V. tonight. I also know that it takes very little for that illusion to break down and fall apart, only to reconstitute itself in the next moment. I am happy that it appears time exists, so that I can make plans, dream of the future, review the past, and watch us all move into new ages and adventures. I need the appearance of space and time and objects and events and things and cats and people, and I would not give all that up for anything in the world. Except that I will give it up, just like every, single, living creature on this planet. Death will strip away all the illusions for us and hurl us back into a place where we will have to awaken completely from the material realities that consume us. Will we miss the rosebush? 

Or will we, like the aphid, have an entirely new reality to explore, forever cradled in the softness of the petals and the intoxicating scent of what might be eternity?

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I had an anxiety attack today that made my hands shake so hard that I couldn’t hold a chip. It went on for quite a long time. Sitting there in Mission Burrito, I texted a friend, tried to breathe slowly, and finally started naming things I saw around me. “Table, television, fork, person eating a burrito, floor, booths.” Then, I focused on the other senses: the tang of salsa, the sounds of a busy restaurant, the smell of chip grease and hot beans; lastly, how it felt to touch the table, the feel of vinyl under my fingertips, and the cool metal of the fork. Bit by bit, reality returned from wherever I had banished it, and I was able to drive home and continue my day in relative peace. 

I haven’t meditated in a long time. If you have anxiety, then you know that you have to have a spiritual practice of some sort, whether it’s walking, praying, meditating, gardening, writing, composing music, or any activity that takes you out of your crazy thoughts and places you firmly in the present moment. Anxiety sucks your soul and spirit into a liminal, non-existent space: the future. At some point, you notice that you’ve lost part of your consciousness, that you’re not fully in the moment or occupying your current reality; fear takes you to the Land of the Lost, to invented lands ruled by fantasy scenarios. Anxiety creates dystopias and horror-scapes that DO NOT EXIST. Once you are in that place that isn’t a place, the panic starts. 

So I meditated. At first, it was quite difficult. My mind raced, my thoughts were scattered, and I couldn’t find my spirit companions. There were no visions, no cool, morphing colors, no pretty experiences; just a quiet exchange with the Voice, who might be God, my spirit guide, my subconscious mind, my Higher Self, or some combination of all of that. As the reader, you will erase what you don’t believe in and choose what you do, so I leave that up to you. For me, this is the voice of God–or at least, it was today. So what does God have to say to the overly-anxious? 

It was an odd message that I had not considered before. Anxiety is the result of not committing fully to your life. Your life is, after all, what’s happening in the present moment. Your life is also a set up circumstances that you’ve set up in part, with a good deal of randomness thrown in and the luck of the draw. There may be some karma involved as you work out the various Universal Issues that you’re dragging around from all the other lives you’ve experienced. In any case, your life can only be experienced and understood from the present moment perspective. Anything you think or analyze about your life is happening now. What happens when anxiety swoops in and hijacks your brain? You stop living in the present moment and start conjecturing, worrying, and spinning out fearful scenarios that by definition haven’t happened. A scenario is always about the future. As soon as you are no longer living right now, something is lost. That something is your connection to the Divine, to spirit, to God: for God is not found in hypothetical spaces, but in the strength of your connection to the present moment. 

It’s a hoary old chestnut, but it happens to be true: depression is rumination on past events, and anxiety is fearful projection into the future. When you are living in those imaginary spaces, you are in what I conceive to be purgatory. Purgatory is paralysis and inaction, a space where you hide from present moment communion with God and your true self. It’s the waiting room where you attempt to evade divine connection in favor of a wrong-headed notion of personal safety. The present moment connection to God can be overwhelming to the scared soul, so the waiting room feels safe; you don’t have to open up, connect, accept change and death; you can just hang out there, pretending that you’re invisible and not subject to the terrifying forces of transformation that push you relentlessly forward into the present. Change and death cannot be avoided, but the anxious and depressed mind seeks to manipulate reality so that it appears to be elsewhere. Nothing to see here, folks, move on. Anxiety is an attempt to run away from your reality and the Ultimate Reality that infuses it. To flee the present moment is to attempt to hide from the truth, and the truth is always cosmic and universal. Anxiety seeks to reduce the cosmic to manageable proportions, to make everything small and distant. It never works. 

 Once you realize that you can’t mentally project yourself into imaginary spaces, you have to come back into present moment awareness. Once you’re back in your body and in the moment, you have to face your emotions and everything you’re running from. Pain exists in the present moment, of that there’s no doubt. Projection into the past or the future might seem like a good strategy to avoid the painful emotions of your current reality, but again, it never works. All you do is add the additional torture of fear and despondency to the circumstances you wish to evade. So what do I wish to run from?

Ah, there is so much. I can’t save the world, or my students, or my family, from what ails them. I can barely help myself. I don’t want to live in the dark world of December, and Christmas makes me terribly sad. It’s like a constant reminder of loss, of the world of childhood that we have forever left behind. Christmas is for innocents. Christmas is for children who haven’t fully left the spirit world and are ignorant of the horrors of this one. This may be another reason that I struggle to commit to this life and live in a sort of limbo this time of year: this world is so painful. And yet, as I sit here and write, the house is quiet, my kid is laughing downstairs, the tree is lit, the bird is making small noises as she eats, and nothing is wrong or out of place. As I write this, there is no war, death, suffering, disease, or cruelty. There is only my little house, my animals, the tree, and these words. 

Somehow, I think, the answer lies in that. The answer is very simple. It seems almost too simple to believe. There is pleasure in the present moment, and only in this moment; when you surrender to the here and now, suddenly there is this kind of nascent joy and bliss that seeks to express itself. Pleasure is the opposite of anxiety; it annihilates it. Another message from meditation is that pleasure is the creative principle of reality; without it, there would be nothing, no impetus to create and play. Pleasure is the Holy Spirit in all that exists. Pleasure cannot be experienced in hypothetical time frames; it can only be experienced right now. As such, it is the glue that bonds us to all that is holy. 

There is more to say, but I have to let it go here. I’m no longer writing to prove anything to anyone, or to solve big problems. I don’t much care if science proves any of this to be true, or if all my readers are convinced of what I say. All I care about now is connection: to God, to the creative and pleasurable spirit of Life, and to all the forms that life takes. That, of course, includes all of you who might be out there reading these words someday. 

Un fuerte abrazo,

Kirsten A. Thorne


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Spirit is everywhere. You don’t need to seek it; you need to discover it. What most investigators forget is that they are spirit themselves; we are looking for our own essence ‘out there’ when, in reality, to connect to spirit we must first connect to our authentic selves. 

This requires silence, meditation, ‘tuning in’, contemplation, and for some, an alteration of normal consciousness (trance states). The ‘ghosts’ out there can be perceived not through gadgets and devices (if it were possible to prove anything that way, it would have happened already), but through adjusting our brain waves to match the frequencies of expanded consciousness. What do I mean by that? Simply that you must be in the right state of mind to make contact with a non-material human consciousness. If you maintain your ‘normal’, waking state of business and distraction, you don’t–you can’t–contact subtle energies. 

This time of year–December into January–is the best for contact with spirit. The separation between our waking consciousness and the worlds where spirits roam is very thin. Anyone who wishes to make contact with spirit will find it far easier now than any other time of year. Of course, that’s not a rule–our best investigation happened in July of 2013–but the long, dark hours and the contemplative feeling of the season allow for a deeper communion between our deep, spiritual selves and the dimensions where all kinds of beings find their expression: both human and other. 

The trick this season is to find your deepest self and allow its expression and communion with the souls that wander in the soft darkness of December. Once you’ve allowed for that to happen, you won’t need to search for anyone; the ghosts will find you.

–Kirsten A. Thorne

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