What is outside space and time is information. Information is the transcendent reality. We could go on to ask all sorts of nonsensical questions about this information – such as how we know that it is there, or where it came from, or how it got there, or what it is ‘about’ – but the thing about all these questions (and any other questions we might ask) is that they only make sense from within the framework of space and time. This of course means that there is no sense in asking them. Asking them is profoundly ‘beside the point’.
For example, if we ask where the information came from this question misses the point because it assumes the existence of a spatial framework and there isn’t one – there is no ‘where’ outside of space. If we ask if the information was there before the space-time continuum came into existence this question similarly misses the point because there is no ‘before’ and no ‘after’ when there is no space-time. And if we ask what the information that is outside of space and time is about (which is a question we particularly love to ask about information) this doesn’t make any sense either because ‘about’ implies separation (such that A is about B, or B is about C, or C is about D, and so on, where A and B and C and D are separate or distinct categories) and yet without the grid of space there can be no separation.
‘Space’ does not just mean ‘physical space’ (as in the space between one physical object and another) – it can mean any sort of a space, any sort of separation. It could mean abstract or ‘logical’ space, which is to say, the space between one answer and another, the space between one logically-defined possibility and another, one category and another. ‘Logical space’ is the archetypal space; it is the space behind physical space since – being an abstraction – it does not need physical space to exist.
Logical space – i.e. the continuum of logic – is the space used by the rational mind to think (or ‘make positive assertions’) about reality and so whenever we ask any questions at all about the information that lies outside of space and time we are also asking a question about the information that lies outside of the continuum of logic, which is the abstract ‘precursor’ of space and time. This means that no matter how subtle or sophisticated the questions we ask with our logic-using minds might be they are all going to be equally ‘beside the point’. It doesn’t matter what sort of a framework we are talking about – the framework of ‘space and time’ or the logical framework assumed by the logical mind. It doesn’t matter because all frameworks are essentially the same – all frameworks are closed perspectives that only permit change when that ‘change’ agrees with the assumptions that have been made regarding what does (and does not) constitute meaningful change. All frameworks are essentially the same in other words because all frameworks define the reality of what goes on within them. They ‘contain’ the world such that what they don’t contain doesn’t get to exist.
The particular framework which we know as the rational mind works by ‘separating things out’ – this is how we perceive the world, make sense of the world, make analyses of or projections about the world, and so on. This is how we understand things; it is how we obtain ‘definite descriptions’ or ‘positive knowledge’ about the world. So it stands to reason that when we concern ourselves with the proposition that ‘what lies outside of our categories (and outside of all possible frameworks, including space and time) is information’, we will try to understand this assertion by relating it to our mental categories, by subjecting it to our tried-and-trusted logical procedures. We will, in other words, think about it.
The apparently reasonable question “What is the information that lies outside our categories about?” is a classic example of this kind of logical analysis. The term ‘information’ on its own doesn’t tell us anything and so we need to connect it with something else, something that we already know about. If we can’t connect it with something that we already know about then the whole thing is just ‘pie-in-the-sky’, it’s all up in the air and as a result it isn’t the slightest bit of use to us. So when we think about the proposition that there is this so-called ‘independently-existing’ information out there what we are doing is relating it to our mental categories to see what sense we can make of it – without noticing the screaming paradox in this. The paradox is of course very simple – the proposition is that what lies outside of our categories is information, and so we try to understand what this ‘information’ might be by bringing it inside our categories.
This is really therefore just a kind of a joke or trick that is being played upon the poor old rational (or categorical) mind – we take the bait, we take the proposition that we have been presented with seriously, which means that we set to work processing it in the same way that we process everything, only to discover that when we do so the whole thing backfires on us and explodes in our face like a trick cigar. The only way to avoid this happening is to not take the proposition seriously – to realize straightaway that it is only a joke or a trick and simply laugh at it in appreciation of the humour of the situation. This however the poor old rational mind can’t do because it doesn’t really have a sense of humour…
The rational mind is compelled by its very nature to take itself seriously – which is to say, it is not allowed to doubt the validity of its own mechanism, its own logical procedures. If it did entertain any uncertainty at all in this regard then it simply would not be able to proceed, it would not be able to function. To say that the rational mind is not able to entertain uncertainty is just another way of saying that it runs on rules because rules – as everyone knows – have nothing to do with uncertainty. Rules are by their very nature closed, which is to say, they are about what they explicitly say they are about and nothing else. Humour, on the other hand, has to do with seeing that what we thought was sure and certain (so much so that we take it totally for granted) isn’t the way things are at all; humour has to do with ‘letting go’ of the rules therefore, which is the one thing the rational mind can never do.
Not only is the rule-based mind incapable of humour, it is also flatly incapable of ‘seeing the paradox’, even when the paradox in question is sitting right on top of it, even when the paradox in question is busy eating it up for breakfast. As a result of this blindness when it does carry out a paradoxical action (such as for example trying to imagine what the world would be outside of its own framework, or trying to model the situation where it is not sitting there modelling the situation, or trying to geuss what things would be like if it stopped making guesses, and so on) it completely fails to see the irony in what it is doing and so condemns itself to going around in perfectly futile circles.
To see the paradox would be the same as ‘getting the joke’ and this mind does not have any way of getting the joke. Because the thinking mind can’t see the paradox is it compelled – instead – to literally enact the paradox, in a ‘dumb’ or uncomprehending way. It is, in other words, forced to enact an infinite regress, which means endlessly repeating the same old loop of logic over and over again in the hope of getting somewhere new. The liar paradox is a classic example of such a regress – presented with the information that ‘everything I say is a lie’ I compute that I must therefore be lying and that if I am lying then the statement is false, which means that I am telling the truth, which means that when I say that everything I say is a lie this must be true, which means in turn that I must indeed be a liar, which means that what I have just said must be a lie, which leads me around in circles forever, because I cannot see the paradox. YES leads on to NO which leads on to YES which leads on to NO, and so on, in the manner of a constant vibration or oscillation. And yet if I could see in a single flash of insight that YES equals NO then the vibration would end instantly; if I could see the identity of the opposites then the dumb mechanical reiteration of the regress would cease and I would be free from being pointlessly caught up in it.
To see the paradox is thus to be freed by the seeing – it is to let go of the attempt to solve the meaningless problem and be released into infinity, which is where there are no constraints, no limiting factors. To not see the paradox is to be condemned to become involved in another type of infinity, the ‘wrong kind’ of infinity, which is infinity inverted – the obsessively laboured and painstaking type of ‘journey to nowhere’ known to mathematicians and logicians as the infinite regress. The repeating mechanical pattern is thus a joke that we cannot see as such – we take it seriously when we shouldn’t and so we get trapped in it, as if it were a real thing in itself and not a joke. We think that it is a viable proposition, a meaningful form of action or change that will actually get us somewhere and so we invest all our energy in it. Because we don’t have any insight or perspective on what we’re doing we ‘stick at it’ with passion and go round in viciously tight circles – we go around in the loop, the infinite regression which is our ‘dumb’ or ‘unconscious’ way of doing homage to infinity.
The long and the short of this is that the type of independent information we are talking about here is not fodder for the thinking mind, it is not a datum that we can process; it is rather the supreme antithesis (or nemesis) of rationality – it is the dinner that bites back, the dinner that gobbles up the diner, leaving not a trace behind. What lies outside of our framework of reference is non-referential information and this non-referential information is the falsifier of everything we believe in. Normally, we think that information is something that ‘tells us’ something – we think of information as being something that essentially agrees with us, therefore. We think of it as being basically ‘tame’ or ‘well-behaved’, which is to say, subservient to our assumptions. We have this ordering framework and we expect information to fit obediently into it.
Before anyone can ‘tell’ us anything they have to agree with us. If they don’t agree – right from the very beginning – then there is no ball-game. In order for you to ‘tell’ me something what you have to agree with is of course the proposition that my way of looking at the world is the right way; you have to agree that the things I think are important are important and, contrariwise, that the things which I disregard, which I don’t take seriously, aren’t worth taking seriously. Once you agree to play this game then communication can take place. You can now ‘tell me something’, which is to say, I offer you a bunch of approved categories of meaning and out of this range of mental boxes you decide which ones to tick.
So when we start to think about the independently-existing, non-referential information that is said to be out there beyond all our mental categories, and wonder ‘what it is going to tell us,’ what we are really wondering about (although we don’t admit it to ourselves) is the burning question of which of our boxes is it going to tick? What we are wondering about is something along the lines of “in which way is reality going to agree with us?” and by no stretch of the imagination can we call this attitude ‘curiosity’. Really, we are not interested in the information – as it is in itself – at all. Inasmuch as we are trapped in our rational-conceptual minds we simply do not have that type of curiosity (or interest) about the world. All we have is the ‘lower analogue’ of curiosity, which is best described as a kind of narrow and obsessive fascination with the profoundly uninteresting question as to how things are going to shake out in terms of the closed (or finite) game we are playing – which is the game of the rational mind.
If the information relating to unconditioned reality (which is the reality that exists outside of our conditioned mind) were to play ball with us, if it actually were to make sense to us on our own terms, then it would be confirming the validity of out framework. ‘Confirming the validity of our taken-for-granted framework’ is the essential prerequisite for us to take an interest in anything, but the thing about this – as we have already said – is that the information that exists independently of our categories, independently of our thinking, does not in any way confirm the validity of our way of thinking about (or ‘understanding’) the world. On the contrary, it unfailingly falsifies everything we think we know – leaving behind not even the slightest conceptual straw for the drowning rational mind to grab hold of.
If the everyday mind is a finite mechanism, a closed game that gets played over and over again, then what lies outside of this mechanism is like infinite white light – which is a phenomenon of no earthly use or interest to that mind. The finite mind only cares about an extraordinarily narrow part or portion of that white light – the part that suits it, the portion that supports its game. The white light itself has only one message for us, which is that our way of trying to understand the world is wrong. And not only this, the message of the white light is telling us that any (finite) way we have of understanding the world is wrong. This is the incomprehensibly glorious message of white light – a message which is, as we have said, not one that we are particularly keen to hear…
White light is too rich for our blood, too generous for us to feel comfortable about, too ‘full on’ for us to be happy with. We want something that will reflect the poverty and meanness of our own stingy assumptions back at us. When the world reflects our own limited categories back at us then we call this ‘information’, and we proceed to make much of it, make a big song and dance about it, but the real genuine article turns out to be a very different kettle of fish indeed. The genuine article turns out to be not really what we wanted to come across at all. What I wanted was for my game to be taken seriously but this just isn’t going to happen; no one else wants my viewpoint to be ‘the right one’ – the only one who is going to take my game (or framework) seriously is myself.
No matter what we say about the ‘white light’ it isn’t right – even to say that it exists ‘outside of the framework’ isn’t right since ‘outside the framework’ is as much the framework as ‘inside the framework’ is. Inside is the same as outside. All such differentiations are the framework – inside/outside, up/down, right/wrong, true/false, exists/not-exists – all of these are the ways the framework has of separating things that aren’t really separate at all.
Original light is not inside us, and neither is it outside of us; it is neither big nor small, near nor far, good nor bad, right nor wrong, true or false. Everything we could possibly say about it would only be for the covert purpose of placing it somewhere in relation to us – to make it in some way relevant to our petty viewpoint, which it isn’t. Everything we say is only ever for the covert purpose of tiresomely validating our framework, like a man who has an axe to grind and who on this account keeps on grinding it no matter what. Because original light has no relevance to our criteria, our categories of interpretation (and thus to ourselves) it unfailingly causes us to dwindle into insignificance so very fast that it makes us dizzy. This is the dizziness of freedom (Kierkegaard’s dizzying freedom), which is the vertigo of reality.
White light isn’t really giving us the message that our limited way of looking at the world is wrong – that’s just what we take from it. As long as we have the closed and self-interested attitude that we do have, that’s all we can take from it. But the infinite light is not really about falsifying closed viewpoints – that is just the way it appears to the closed viewpoint that is being falsified.
If we wanted to know what the infinite light was on its own terms, outside of the framework, then we’d have to let go of our personalized way of looking at things, and see what it looks like from outside of this limiting viewpoint. It is as simple as that.
The question is however, are we interested in a reality that isn’t going to confirm our prejudices, our lazy assumptions? Are we actually curious about the transcendent reality of the infinite light, or just afraid of it? The question is – do we really give a damn?
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.