There is not only the one universe, but two very different types of universe. One which we live in as a matter of course, as a matter of routine, and the other which we occasionally catch a tantalizing glimpse of, only to promptly forget again. The first type is untrue, illusory, and yet we cannot help helplessly believing in it. The second type IS true, but all the same we just can’t dare to believe that it is…
The first type of universe is the universe which matches our thoughts and expectations – it is the Landscape of the Rational Mind which is infallibly projected outwards onto the environment around us. As soon as we form a theory, or an expectation of any kind, then the Landscape of the Rational Mind crystallizes itself around us, as quick as thought. This universe is the Universe of Confirmation, which we will call the Type-1 Universe.
Yet reports do keep persistently trickling through, for those that have ears to hear them. The reports vary, but the gist is the same in each case: There is a secret or hidden world that lies behind the obvious, everyday world, a world that surpasses our capacity to guess at it…
Even if we cannot guess the Truth, is there anything that we can say about the relationship of the Two Worlds, the Two Universes? What rough comparison can we draw?
Firstly, we have the Type – 1 Universe…….
This is essentially a dead, mechanical world.
Consciousness, happiness, beauty and meaning – all these are phantoms, constructs, mere appearances only. They are, in the ultimate analysis, illusions created out of a pragmatic biological necessity; which is the only currency of a blind evolution in order that we as organisms have the motivation to carry on and reproduce our kind, so that they in turn might live to obey the same biological imperatives…
All final destinations are known.
The road may be long and have many bends but we know where it ends. For us as individuals it is our personal extinction, death. The fact that we know, as we face death, that the world will carry on without us – is a source of little solace to us. It is, in practical terms, meaningless, because we will no longer have any connection with that world.
For the universe as a whole, the Great Machine, it is a protracted winding-down process towards The Ultimate Equilibrium State, The Heat Death of the Universe. The Final Predetermined State.
Consciousness here is a kind of an accidental intruder, inasmuch as it can be said to exist at all, being as it is an “epiphenomenon” of certain electro-chemical systems – which is to say it is a composite, reducible thing having no reality of its own.
The great machine of the universe is an inhospitable place for consciousness; for sensitive, feeling creatures such as we, who seem to require by our temperament that our lives should have some meaning. We are infinitely fragile, vulnerable….. And the universe doesn’t care. How could it? It is, after all, as we have just said, quite ‘dead’.
It may be grim, this Landscape of the Rational Mind, but that is all the reality we have, says the voice of reason. Get used to it.
“Take a walk down Reality Street, boy!”
Face up to it. Live with it. Anything else is just denial, wish-fulfilment. Irrational belief-systems for people who can’t handle reality. You just have to be man enough (or woman enough) to face the facts. Cold, hard objective reality, that’s where it’s at…
Well, that’s the Type 1 universe – what about the Type 2?
It’s harder to talk about the Magical Universe, because all our descriptions are linked to our habitual framework of reference which we apply to everything, and anything that makes sense within that framework is that framework, and nothing else. The framework is our rational mind, which excludes all that is non-rational. The best way to approach the Type-2 Universe is by saying what it isn’t. It has been noted that we generally like to have our surroundings Substantial, Solid, Separate, and Stable. And that is just what a type 2 Universe isn’t.
“Cold, hard objective reality” is just another illusion here, just another conceptual screening device. It doesn’t exist.
Consciousness here is the whole universe.
Life is everywhere. Everywhere is alive.
You are consciousness – you are the universe…. growing slowly, painfully at times – becoming aware of yourself, going beyond yourself, discovering your own essential limitlessness.
How can the idea of a “personal” death have any real meaning when you are the universe, when you are not a separate onlooker? Death is just another shift of consciousness, it is going beyond who you thought you were. What dies is the limitation, and the self which constructed itself in terms of that old limitation. Death means rebirth, to be born anew, as the teachings always say. How can there be an end, without there being at the same time a beginning? Ending means beginning, it is the same thing.
The end of the known means the beginning of the unknown, and the Type-2 Universe is the Unknown. To make an end of the known, to go beyond the known, is the single prerequisite for entering the Magical Universe. Death is what is needed. That is your passport, the death of your idea of yourself. Only the mind really dies, only rationality; only our ‘holding on’ perishes – only our control over what we are and where we are going, only our anxious and preoccupied maintaining of the world we know, in the face of the Unknown that we dare not admit.
There is no such thing as final destinations here, the only destination is ‘beyond’. Entirely beyond, wholly beyond. The only way to define where I am going is in terms of its unexpectedness, its indefinability.
Ultimate reality is unknowable, yet its meaning shines forth everywhere. Like in a fairy-tale or a myth, like in a child’s perception of the world. Before the banal objectivity of adulthood sets in…
The secret that has been spoken many times is that in order to live, we must die. That the refusal to die (to let go of the known) results in a living death. The Type-1 Universe is, at root, the refusal to die, the escape from Reality into an unreal world which is a false sort of life, a simulation of the genuine article. In the Type-1 Universe radical (or ‘groundless’) change is denied, which means that the Magical Universe is denied. And yet, the Magic is never driven completely away. It waits for its chance, patiently. It is infinitely patient because it is outside of Time, which is an invention of the Rational Universe. It was there all along – hidden perhaps, but not diminished.
The Rational Universe, for its part, is endlessly persistent, extending its illusory Time onward and onward with its own infinite stubbornness. Within its own realm of illusion, it can wait forever. Its immutable stubbornness, its immense stupidity, its colossal ignorance, is its strength. Its weakness is that, through denying death, through denying the unknown, it has a horror of death, a horror of the unknown that never leaves it. Because all its doings are at root based upon unacknowledged terror, that terror casts its shadow over everything it does. It threatens us from the shadows, it menaces us from behind, it pops up nastily where we least expect it. It always ends up spoiling our dreams, and turning them into nightmares….
Because the Rational Universe is our defence against death, when living in it we are forever haunted with the horror of death. Death is both our ultimate fear, and the one thing that we can never escape! This contradiction allows us to see the secret that rationality is actually madness in disguise.
The Magical Universe, because it is outside of Time, does not need to wait. It is already there. That is its strength. Death does not cast the shadow of fear over the Magical Universe, because death is its ultimate triumph, its trump card. Death is the doorway to its innermost secret. The horror is not death, but the stubborn avoidance of death.
The Magical Universe, therefore, is the paradoxical realm where through letting everything go, we gain what we could not have imagined. By losing ourselves, we find our Self. The Rational Universe, on the other hand, is the contradictory realm in which by holding on to ourselves (driven ceaselessly by fear and greed) we unfailingly destroy what we cherish.
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.