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Posts Tagged ‘Census of Hallucinations’

By Kirsten A. Thorne, PhD

Bio: My PhD is from Yale University in the area of Spanish and Modern Languages. Although I am not a physicist or a scientist by training, I was trained in critical thinking across the disciplines and have read a wide array of texts on the nature of time, physics for the lay reader, and theories of reality in the field of philosophy. I have attempted, though direct investigations of the so-called paranormal, to access the nature of reality, death, time and the afterlife, although most of my research is academic in nature. I have experienced anomalous events my entire life, and my primary goal here at Soulbank is to find plausible scientific theories to explain common human experiences that science has not yet adequately explained. If you are a professional scientist/physicist who happens to stumble across my blog, I ask that you please consider seriously my analyses and patiently correct any misstatements or misunderstandings that might inadvertently arise due to my lack of technical (mathematical) training. 

My last post attempted to elucidate the “block theory” of time and how–if we were able to view events from a vantage point outside of the spacetime bubble we occupy–we would see time as an endless series of events stretching from what we call the ‘past,’ through something nebulous and impossible to define called the ‘present,’ on into what we consider the ‘future.’ My theory, pieced together from various theorists such as Richard Muller, Sean Carroll, and John Ashmead (a big influence) among many others. These are my basic starting points:

  • Past, present and future are human categories of understanding experience and have no necessary, permanent standing in reality;
  • Although most texts seem to affirm that the “Big Bang” kicked off entropy and our current perception of time as following entropic processes from low to high, this is by no means everyone’s opinion; Richard Muller argues that there are many instances of entropy working in various directions all around us, and that there is no reason to assume that increasing entropy creates time. Therefore, I will leave that discussion alone for the most part, seeing as there appears to be no general consensus on the matter.
  • Humans associate time with their own aging and eventual death, based on the breakdown of material substances we observe daily. We see nature’s cycles of birth, growth, decay and death and create our timeline based upon them. However, and I believe this is an important point to make, not all cultures measure time in the same fashion. The Maya calendar is nothing like our modern, Western version. Many indigenous calendars are based on ever-widening cycles that, when viewed, bear a fascinating resemblance to block time. All events are laid out in cycles that allow for predictions of what is to come. Not all cultures are as aggressively ego-centric as the West concerning measuring time simply as a function of the self’s material decay; we are obsessed with our mortality and our aging, to the point that we’ve created a culture that deifies youth and demonizes death. There is certainly a cultural explanation for why time, for the West, is tied to the shortening of our telomeres. Correlation is not causation: we correlate the passing of seconds, minutes, hours, years, decades, etc. to our observations of physical decline and from those observations, create time. Simply because we’ve chosen to create this association between physical death and time passing, does not imply that there is anything fundamental or necessary (no rules required here) about it. We have not defined time by associating it with aging and death. Death is simply another event in the block universe, inevitable because we occupy a physical cycle of experience, but not ontologically the terminus of anything but a body (now, of course, would normally be the moment when I argue that the biggest illusion of all is to tie our consciousness to a body, but I’ll wait on that).
  • I will not be the person to reconcile quantum theories of ‘spooky action at a distance’ with General Relativity. However, it makes sense to me that our consciousness is quantum based, and Stuart Hameroff, MD has extensively discussed this. I realize that most physicists won’t touch this topic, or anything related to consciousness, but I am at liberty to do so and hope some of you are willing to take it seriously. It seems to me that the only way to reconcile two apparently irreconcilable theories of reality is to accept that consciousness plays a role in the reality we experience and possibly creates what we observe. This is not really a novel statement. Many others have said it before. The implications are, however, stunning. It is our consciousness that has access to the block universe and can overcome the limitations of time and death by recognizing the non-material basis of experience, observation, self awareness and the universality of concepts such as justice, love, peace, selflessness and sacrifice. And if all of that sounds too New Age, please be aware that I base this on reading intensively across several disciplines, and it’s not a belief system based upon nebulous emotions or desires.

The above points represent the basics for what I am about to say next. Any theory on time, reality of events, observation of events and the role of consciousness in the creation of the reality we observe must always circle back to what makes intuitive sense an average, rational, thinking human being. We must respect human experience while enlarging said experience at the same time. While it is true that we observe aging and death in all living things, that is not the ONLY reality that we are aware of; it’s simply the only reality we feel comfortable sharing, discussing, and advocating for fear of criticism, ridicule or censure if we openly discuss alternative experiences that point to a different interpretation of our lives.

Human beings across the centuries have shared certain anomalous experiences (although they were not considered ‘anomalous’ for most cultures) that point both to the reality of the Block Universe AND to the quantum underpinnings of consciousness. It may well be that free will and autonomy–two concepts so central to the West’s ideology of limitless expansion, progress, perfectibility, and endless opportunity for self creation–are not real in and of themselves, but simply appear that way to us. In the end, if it SEEMS that we create the future, do we really need to panic if that isn’t how the universe works? But first, let’s look at some common features of human experience that point to Eternalism or some close cousin to it:

  • Precognition: Knowing what is about to happen and consequently experiencing that event is not about motion towards the future and then backwards motion to the past, but about human consciousness briefly occupying a different ‘slice’ of spacetime that contains the events that result from previous conditions in spacetime slice X1. Both slices–X in the ‘present’ and X1 in the ‘future’ are both forward and retro causal in keeping with observations that the distinction between cause and effect is not fundamental to the field of physics. Of course, cause and effect rules the physical world, but once you are in the realm of precognition and retrocognition, you are in a realm where the ordinary laws of physics may or may not apply.
  • Deja-vu, or the ‘reliving’ of an experience that you don’t consciously recognize as ever happening before. Often, there is an abundance of veridical information that the individual could not have known under normal circumstances. Consciousness can have glitches, where the brain stops ordering experience chronologically and for a moment allows us to enter the Block Universe by skipping us to another page in the flip book. Both deja-vu (‘already seen’) and precognition are not ‘reading’ future events or reliving past events that haven’t occurred yet, but reflecting a breakdown of our perception of time that allows access to other realities in spacetime that are always already there.
  • It’s possible that we experience ‘prior’ and ‘post’ events on a regular basis, but our brains only record experiences that allow for the perception of time as flowing into the future. Our memory function is designed for this perception, thus memories of the future are routinely ‘wiped’ from consciousness in order to preserve the illusion of the self moving into an uncreated future of infinite possibility. If we did not believe that the future is open and uncreated, then we would cease to evolve, to struggle, to create, to suffer, to work, to dream, to hope and to transcend our physical, material reality; for those with faith, we would stop seeking God.
  • GHOSTS (finally): What we call ‘ghosts’ are simply human beings freed of the material universe moving freely through the Block Universe, or not moving at all and simply experiencing everything all at once, always. They are also us in a different spacetime slice. They might be entirely free of time, or they might have reversed to a particular reality where they are frozen and on endless repeat. To use the analogy of a record, they could be experiencing the whole of the album timelessly, or stuck in a glitch with the needle circling endlessly over the same experiences of trauma, desire, grief or guilt. Our ability to perceive them is an act of reciprocal consciousness: we observe them observing us. We call each other into existence similar to quantum experiments where the observer ‘collapses the wave function.’ A ghost is a collapsed wave function that consciousness has called into being. Before that, they were everywhere; or, they were stuck in a spacetime slice. Either way, seeing the ghost, accessing the future and remembering events that never happened, and all manner of other paranormal experience represent quantum effects of consciousness acting in and through the Block Universe of physics. With so-called ‘ghosts’, we need to remember that the old trope of ghosts ‘not knowing that they are dead’ represents a false conception of reality in the Block Universe. We have accessed their CURRENT REALITY. It’s not in the same ‘place’ as ours, so we assume that they are communicating from a place of non-existence (death), when in reality,  there is no such thing as non-existence in the Block Universe, and therefore no such thing as ‘death’ as we commonly understand it as the ‘end’ of one’s existence.   

This paradigm has staggering implications. Your death as a physical being is simply another event in the Block Universe, no more real than any other event; and since you obviously exist now, in the Block Universe you always exist somewhere. You will continue to exist after your physical functions cease, because somewhere in spacetime your physical functions have NOT ceased; so, when your brain is no longer filtering, ordering, organizing and interpreting your experiences, you can range through multiple ‘reality slices’ freed from the constraints of illusory chronology. Since consciousness creates, directs, and filters your experiences through a brain, connecting them to a body that is, in turn, ruled by entropy, once the body succumbs to disorganization, consciousness is free of time but not of experience. Consider this quote from the website scienceandnonduality.com:

“You create the experience of movement by thinking that the ‘you’ reading this article is the same self that ate breakfast this morning or went running yesterday. But in fact, all those selves are distinct, each one existing at a different point in time–which you could see simultaneously if you stepped outside of the universe. It’s only when your mind ties all these separate selves together that time starts to flow, much like flipping through the frames of an animated movie.”

Of course, these ‘selves’ are of necessity connected in some way, or the result would be psychosis or schizophrenia. Consciousness transcends the selves in the flip book, being atemporal and connected to all “time” frames at once. Consciousness chooses the form, format and organizational principles of human existence, so that we do not experience the fragmented selves of the flip book but a continuous flow of experience.

Consciousness can be said to have a dual function: The creation of the temporal flow, and the illusion of moving through time; and the transcendence of the previous illusion. Therefore, consciousness both creates and destroys the illusion of temporality, aging and death; it creates the fear of non-existence and is responsible for transcending that fear, since in the Block Universe, non-existence is a tautology.

If all of this is indeed how reality works, then we would expect that different versions of ourselves are already ‘out there’ and affecting material reality in some way. In fact, I believe that other versions of ourselves are occasionally perceived both by us and others. In Frederic Myer’s Census of Hallucinations (1894), some of the most intriguing reports concerned apparitions of the living. There is an extensive literature on astral projection, doubles, and ‘ghosts’ of those who are still alive appearing in various locales. It is possible for one to ‘haunt’ oneself, when another version of the self imposes itself on the consciousness of the version we most identify with. I have investigated sites with a friend who swears that she is haunting the sites of past trauma, and I myself have been told on more than one occasion that someone saw me clear as day somewhere other than where I was at that time. Instead of dismissing all of these accounts as psychological distortions or misperceptions, we should consider the possibility that our many, many selves in the Block Universe can occasionally wander through our current world and make themselves known to an observer.

There are so many versions of us and our stories out there that the possibilities for experiencing ourselves are infinite; if our stories have countless versions, then perhaps we have some control over which one we consciously experience. This might be as close as we can get to free will: we can make choices in this vague ‘now’ that will collapse the wave function of all those ‘future’ Kirstens out there. I can pick the version that will play out like changing the record. The records library is out there for all eternity, but I can choose which one to listen to. Maybe.

I think of all the mediums in history who were discredited by someone who believed to have ‘tricked’ them by asking for contact with someone who is still alive. There is no reason why a medium could not pick up on another version of an individual who has not experienced physical death. The Block Universe makes this just as feasible as contacting the physically ‘dead’. In fact, the Block Universe negates the power of death altogether.

The big question, however, remains: just what do we experience after physical death frees the brain from its task of making our lives seem coherent and chronological? I think of the fantastic possibilities of one’s consciousness invading someone else’s spacetime slice (possession or oppression), or of returning to your 10th birthday party unaware that you just ‘lived’ 96 years and ‘died’ and now you’re back to re experience another version of yourself from 10 onwards, perhaps only dimly recalling your retirement party (that won’t happen for another 55 years).

I can also see us jumping into another story altogether with a different body, family, country, language, customs, and so on. Ian Stevenson certainly provided compelling evidence for reincarnation, and the Block Universe provides a framework for consciousness to re-experience itself in a different physical reality. Or perhaps we can move into a universe entirely different from our own and experiencing a consciousness that we would not call human. Once you remove the boundaries of time and space, the scenarios are endless and awe inspiring. If nothing else, it should be clear to us that our current categories of understanding are often breached by direct experience. Those of us who believe in ‘progress’ are often shocked to realize that we cycle back to primitive behaviors on a regular basis. Those of us who think we live once and die to nothingness cannot explain consciousness using a materialist paradigm. How many times do we say things like, “I can’t believe I did that,” as if the person who did ‘that’ were someone else? We talk about ourselves all the time as different people in time; hence the reminder note for the future self who will forget the priorities of the past self. We all, in practice, recognize that our ‘selves’ are distinct, yet we also know that we are connected by ‘something,’ which is our awareness of ourselves and the world as an eternal reality.

How many panic attacks and relived traumas come from selves that ‘died’ in a moment of extreme suffering? Could our ongoing anxieties have less to do with ‘memory’ and more to do with our free access to other selves who might, on occasion, occupy our spacetime? And what of others who might take advantage of our ‘moment’ to express themselves in our body? The Block Universe fixes all possible events, or our consciousness fixes all possible realities, but in the end, the controls over experience can slip or falter in a number of ways. These ‘glitches’ are built into the fabric of spacetime so that we might be allowed a glimpse into who we really are and how everything works; yet we will never ultimately solve this grand mystery while encased and ensconced in our physical bodies. I will end with beautiful quote by David Fontana in Is There An Afterlife: 

“William James may have been right when he lamented that it rather looks as if the Almighty has decreed that this area should forever retain its mystery. If this is indeed the case, then I assume it is because the Almighty has decreed that the personal search for meaning and purpose in life and in death are of more value than having meaning and purpose handed down as certainties from others. If the certainties of life and death were so well known that they appeared in every school textbooks [sic], there would no longer be scope for the personal search, and for the inner development that may be possible only as a product of such a search.” (327)

Be that as it may, the truth is indeed ‘out there’, and I ask that we all continue to seek it with renewed vigor, especially in dire times where the lack of Light is particularly obvious and painful. We should never forget the role we all play in creating this multiverse and bringing certain realities to the forefront. The future may be written, but we can always edit it for the betterment of all.

Thank you for reading.

 

 

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