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Consciousness as Light

Very interestingly, Peter Russell says in his lecture The Primacy of Consciousness that from the point of view of light, the time that elapses from the beginning of a particular unit of light’s journey (from the point of its emission) to the end of its journey (to its point of absorption) is of zero duration. There is no time-lag at all. This is not all. Russell also says that from the point of view of light the distance between origin and destination, point of emission and point of absorption, is of zero extension. The two points coincide spatially.



So what sort of a journey is this, we might wonder? The whole point of a journey is after all that there is a time-lag between starting and finishing, and that ‘where you start from’ and ‘where you get to’ are two different places! The concept of we have of light travelling from A to B, and taking time to do so, is therefore quite false. There is no journey. Space and time – we might say – is a purely local illusion caused by a lamentable lack of perspective. The space-time continuum, we are led to conclude, is something in the nature of a hoax, a trick, a phantasmagorical apparition…



The core of Peter Russell’s argument is that matter (or the material universe) is not the primary reality we take it to be, any more than is the space-time continuum which it exists within. What is primary, says Russell, is consciousness. Consciousness comes first and everything else, all the rest – all those attention-grabbing elements that appear to be first rank phenomena – come after, as purely secondary manifestations.



Light, Russell suggests, exists outside of and independently to the space-time continuum, although light does filter through it to be rendered – to some extent – in its own terms. When perceived through the filter of space-time light it is subject to the determining influence of that logical framework, but from its own perspective neither space nor time have any meaning whatsoever.



The inference that Russell makes here is that consciousness (the primary reality) is light, and that light is consciousness…



But if we are light, if we are consciousness – as we must be since everything is light or consciousness – then this means that to us (as we are in ourselves, as we are in our ultimate essence) space and time have no meaning!



Thus, if I am light, then although it appears that there is an interval between ‘point of emission’ and ‘point of absorption’, actually there isn’t. Not from the point of view of who I am in my ultimate essence. I was born and I will die and the interval (or distance) between these two seminal events constitutes what I think of as ‘my life’.  This is the passage between the cradle and the grave, into which everything must be squeezed. But in reality there is no such interval, there is no such distance.



From the point of view of the ‘me’ that I usually take myself to be (the self that is stuck in space-time) the period of time that constitutes my life is both a real interval and – indeed – the only reality that I have or could hope to have! From the point of view of the ‘I’ which is who I really am however this supposedly ‘all-important’ interval never actually happened at all. It is something in the nature of a hoax, a trick, a phantasmagorical apparition…



It is often enough said – in a poetic mode of speech – that life is like a briefly flickering candle suspended precariously between two grim eternities of darkness. This is pretty much the only way that we can understand our situation, given the fact that we are looking at it from the point of view of the ‘me’ that is trapped in space and time. This view of things is however extremely daunting, if not to say overwhelmingly appalling – which is probably why we don’t go around thinking about it too much. And even if we don’t keep thinking about this picture of a bravely flickering candle poised between two eternities of darkness the unconscious influence of this grim view is bound to make us anxious and clingy and more-than-just-a-little-bit predisposed to distracting ourselves with comforting or intoxicating nonsense for the vanishingly brief period that we are here. It is bound to predispose us to a degree of despair and depression that all the antidepressants in the world won’t lift! That’s what we get for taking space-time too seriously, for being ‘too sure of ourselves’, for being so dead certain that ‘material’ (whatever that might be!) and not consciousness is the primary reality.



But now we can consider what the picture looks like from the other point of view, from the point of view of who we are in our ultimate essence, which is outside of and independent of the limiting space-time continuum. Instead of seeing my basic situation as ‘a vanishingly brief period of light suspended between two eternities of darkness’ I see what I consider to be ‘the period of my life’ as being a vanishingly brief period of darkness (or ‘unconsciousness’) suspended between two eternities of light – two eternities of light (or consciousness) that are actually the same eternity since the interval of linear time that separates them is wholly illusory, being something in the nature of a hoax, a trick, a phantasmagorical apparition caused by a lamentable lack of perspective …





Author: Nick Williams

Nick Williams works and writes in the field of mental health and is particularly interested in non-equilibrium states of consciousness, which are states of mind that cannot be validated by standardized experiments or by reference to any formal theoretical perspective.

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