Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Connected Consciousness and the Connected Reality

Carl Jung coined the term ‘collective unconscious’ to describe the concept that all minds are connected and share a common ground at a level below conscious awareness. The concept itself was not actually his own, but comes from ancient Eastern belief systems, of which Jung was quite familiar. However, when he introduced the concept into Western thought, it made a lot of sense and the concept has caught on.

The idea of a deeply rooted connectedness between all minds is not merely a presumptuous desire that we might hold, but is in fact supported by an ever-increasing amount of evidence that cannot otherwise be explained in conventional terms. For instance, this concept of a connection between conscious minds is supported by certain psychic phenomena that have been continually evidenced all through our historic past. The scientific establishment, however, has always discredited such evidence of psychism (for possible reasons that we will get into later), and this has left the concept of a collective unconscious as appearing to be nothing more than a conceptual tool for psychiatrists and psychologists to use in dealing with their patients.

Recently, however, the concept of a collective connectivity, and psychism with it, has gained further evidence to support its reality through research into quantum mechanics. As we saw in the first chapter, it has been revealed in experiments that subatomic particles such as electrons and photons can instantaneously share information over great distances without any sort of physical connection existing between them. These findings break the known laws of classical physics, but replication of the experiments verify that the findings are nonetheless correct. This discovery caused Einstein a great deal of frustration, and he was never able to fully come to terms with it, struggling for the remainder of his life to understand how it could be possible within the parameters of physical laws as he understood them.

The problem for Einstein was caused by his belief that it was impossible for objects to interact at a distance without some sort of connecting link between them, and certainly not at speeds faster than light. Even radio and television transmissions link the broadcasting station to a receiving unit through electromagnetic waves, which are limited to traveling at the speed of light. According to the scientific establishment, there is nothing in the known universe that can interact with a distant object instantaneously and without some sort of an intermediary link (they conveniently ignore the fact that gravity causes action at a distance, and that an ether is needed to explain gravity using Einstein’s rubber sheet analogy). This distant connectivity, or entanglement, is considered an anomaly, and physicists are still scratching their heads as they try to find an explanation for it in purely mechanical terms. To think that our minds might also be connected in this way is just too much for them to accept.

But why should they be so alarmed? Gravity apparently has an aspect of nonlocality about it, and it defies the speed of light in that its effects are instantaneous. Although Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity was accepted as an explanation of gravitation that supposedly eliminated any problems of nonlocality, we have seen that this is false.

So, for the time being at least, let us accept that the current scientific framework is too limiting to describe reality beyond a certain point, being based on principles that are designed to only consider the objective, quantifiable aspects of that reality. Any understanding beyond that must involve a broader consideration that also encompasses the immeasurable, which leads us to the subjective, nonphysical abstractions that exist purely in the mental realm of consciousness.

Earlier we described reality in terms of the subconscious reflecting our collective thoughts back to us, and these affecting our perceptions. These perceptions are structured and understood through our collectively accepted sense of order. We think of this order as being absolute and having always existed, being the fundamental principles that hold the physical world together and allow it to exist. In the mechanistic understanding, these principles, which we know as the various laws of physics, are considered the most fundamental absolutes of physical reality. Through them, all physical expressions of matter occur.

Yet, none of these principles are themselves physical. They are purely subjective concepts, being structured out of qualities rather than quantities. From them, quantities can be derived, but they are not themselves comprised of any quantity. What caused these qualities to arise, and what assures their uniformity throughout the physical universe? The scientific framework cannot provide answers to these questions, and so they ignore them altogether. But they are significant questions, because they lead us to realize that something deeper than physical substance, even in its finest forms, must underlie reality.

The subjective nature of reality precedes its objective form. Subjectivity gives meaning, and meaning is order. Thus, the collective agreement to establish a common sense of order was meaningful in that it allowed processes to be reflected within it that, once uniformly accepted as absolutes, became actualized as Nature. This order provided a conceptual template in which ideas could begin to be expressed. Not only could they be expressed, however, but they could also be replicated and multiplied, giving rise to quantitative aspects of reality.

It might be helpful at this point to remember that all life forms – including ourselves – evolved from the same single point of origin, the same first conscious life force, and through replication and the slow process of evolution, we each carry within us the same underlying sense of order that we use to understand our reality. We are deeply habituated to thinking in terms of separateness, both between each other as well as between ourselves and the external world, and so we do not realize that this sense of order is actually within us rather than external to us. We see this order reflected in objective form, but it is nevertheless essentially subjective, and is therefore a qualitative aspect of mind.

In order to understand this better, we should consider the relationship between quality and quantity a little further.

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