Our Reality Tunnel is Oddly Straight
The more I ponder on it, the more I get convinced that we are hardwired to perceive, and create, this reality in a very odd fashion indeed. Why we are hardwired to perceive reality the way we do is a question that opens up pandora’s box wide open – a path I will not pursue here. What I am interested in, and have always been interested in, however, is how we can shift, alter and transcend the perceptual and conceptual limits of our view on reality; or to steal a metaphor often used by Tim O’ Leary and Robert Anton Wilson – our ‘reality tunnel’.
It’s simply common knowledge that we perceive our world according to the internal filters of our sub-conscious and unconscious mind. Our take on reality is heavily determined by our aspirations, fears, beliefs, motivations and emotions. Yet I still get surprised at how very few people realise the extent of the influence our internal world bears on the outer one. We grow up to believe that the world we live in is solid real and exists separately from our conscious attention and perception of it. I won’t go into the intriguing philosophical debates of realism and solipsism – endless discussions on what is objectively real or not. What I want to point at here is how we are naturally inclined to believe that the world is at it is and that just because we see it that way, many would naively assume that it must be that way.
Linearity, for instance is one of the basic assumptions we make about our reality. Linearity of space-time, or of cause and effect are once again hard-wired in our conscious and unconscious processing of external information. We see and observe this happening over and over again, infallibly. Objects and events causing effects in a linear way. A causes B over time and time moves in an arrow from past to present to future. It’s sort of fundamental concrete cemented in our reality tunnel. Theoretical Physics, high level mathematics, philosophical debates and consciousness altering experiences have all brought people to question this fundamental assumption and explore the possibility of there being non-linearity despite our senses dictating otherwise. To me it seems that linearity is one of the main ‘biological programs’ hard-wired in our consciousness that filters off a lot of what is actually going on ‘out there’.
The Straight, the Crooked and the Non-Linear Universe
What we experience reinforces our assumptions, beliefs and internal maps of our outside world, or concepts. In turn, these concepts and assumptions create a strong gateway through which we select and filter our reality. In short it is a feedback loop that creates and re-creates our reality tunnel. The concept of linearity is one of the fundamental aspects of that loop. We assume it, then observe it through our experience which in turn reinforces that notion and so on. So therefore the question is: “Is reality linear or is it just based on our biased experiencing of the five senses?”
No doubt that the question raises many other philosophical questions about consciousness and reality one of them being “how much of what we perceive is ‘real’ or not?” which is another way of asking “is there an objective reality beyond our conscious awareness and internal beliefs”. But I would like to stick to one concept for the time being – linearity. So rephrasing the question – “Is the concept of linear time and cause and effect objectively real or not?”
I think that linearity is dependent on part of our experience but not the totality of our experience. To say it in another way, it is a model of reality we can easily accommodate in our shared worldview but does not fit any longer when we open our awareness to experience life beyond our limited reality tunnels. The content of our experience changes according to what we put our conscious awareness and focus on, which in turn is heavily affected by our unconscious beliefs which act as our reality filters. If those filters on our reality are temporarily suspended, we would enter into a state of consciousness whose content is beyond the five senses and linear time.
This is something reported over and over again by people who have experienced consciousness altering moments through deep meditation & mystical experiences, psychedelics, near death experiences and neurological injuries that disrupt this normal filtering process of our perception. In short, if we go beyond the limits of conditioned and consensual reality, we start to experience non-linearity which is quite understandably a difficult concept to convey since we do not have any solid reference points to it in our normal experience.
The Interconnected Holo-Fractal Multiverse
So what does it mean to experience non-linear reality? Like mentioned above, there is no solid ground to compare this with but a few anecdotes might help. First, in a non-linear experience, you feel less bound by the dictates of your historical life experiences such as your normal expectations about ’this should cause this’, etc. You transcend beyond your individual repository of experiences and expectations and move into a more trans-personal view on reality. You start moving beyond the limits of the individual mind and things start feeling less mundane and more sort of ‘magical’ or ‘mythical’ if that rings any sort of bell for you. This is because of a shift in conscious awareness and perspective.
Secondly, everything feels more connected in a way that goes beyond the immediacy of experience or cause and effect. In this deep state of consciousness, one starts appreciating that everything affects everything because everything is in everything as this points at concept both found in esoteric literature and modern theoretical physics – the holo-fractal nature of the Universe. What this means in non-technical terms is that space-time separation is a grand illusion and that the Multiverse is more of a holographic fractal than a vast ocean of space-time. In simple words, a fractal is a pattern repeating itself over and over again where the parts contain the information of the whole so no matter how small you slice the parts, there will always be the information of the whole within. “As above, so below” goes the Hermetic Principle of correspondence which means that in the smallest particle on your finger nail, you carry all the information of whatever has, is or has yet to happen in this Universe and probably others beyond this. And hence all this brings us to the point that reality might seem linear to our reality tunnel experiences through the five senses but when we start moving past it, the content of our experience changes entirely.
Thirdly and closely connected to the previous two points, there is the idea that causation is also non-linear in the sense that it doesn’t move along the observed arrow of time from past to present to future but also the other way round in that future can affect the present and the past. Another way of seeing it is that everything is happening in the present, the eternal now, and that whatever we do in the here and now is affecting both our future and past at the same time. Very strange concept to put a finger on, yet this is only because our view on reality is heavily filtered through the looking glass of linear time.
The Cosmic Feedback Loop
We are also multidimensional beings whose consciousness, albeit not our awareness, resides in other dimensions beyond time. It is only when our awareness expands or shifts through different means, we experience non-linear time, or even what others refer to as vertical time, as opposed to horizontal time like we experience in our mundane, problem-solving frame of consciousness. This is also what some depth psychologists and esotericists alike refer to as the archetypal and mythical plane of reality – a trans-personal plane of consciousness in which we don’t experience linear time.
The idea of non-linearity of time and evolution has also been alluded to in ancient myths and wisdom keepers, most prominently the Mayan calendars among many others, who saw time as cyclical and non-linear. Somehow they built a chronology of events, based on cosmic alignments and mathematical models, that spun way beyond their time (as for example in the long count calendar). Other myths in several cultures have also sustained that there is a cosmic time that is cyclical and beyond our perception of day-to-day events but that we can get an intimation of by observing celestial movements, nature’s cycles and delving deeper into our own inner microcosm.
The idea of cycles and non-linearity goes well beyond the concept of time and causality. If I give myself the freedom to speculate, I believe that we live in a fractal and holographic Universe where everything is in an infinite loop in and within itself. Everything is in a feedback cycle or,more specifically, everything is consciousness in a feedback cycle. This hits on two huge giant metaphysical ideas in one bang. First is the notion that everything is consciousness including matter. The second is the idea that everything is in a constant feedback cycle – from subatomic particles to the Multiverse at large. And while I’m at it doing this metaphysical binge – let’s also assume that existence itself is a grand feedback cycle of nothingness and everything looping in on each other endlessly, hence the ultimate cosmic non-linearity.