It would be ridiculous to think that just because we cannot see something that it does not exist. It would be like saying that nothing exists on the other side of a wall, that the limit of our vision is the limit of reality. It would be like looking at the surface of the ocean and thinking that nothing existed below it, that there was no such thing as depth. If something emerged from it, such as a dolphin or a school of flying fish, these would simply be “unexplained phenomena,” beyond our current capacity to understand. We might, in the absence of a concept of “depth,” think that such occurrences were phenomena of the surface itself, as though the atoms and molecules of the water rearranged themselves for some unknown reason, perhaps as a result of sunlight or wind. In other words, dolphins and flying fish would be the result of some external cause, not entities in their own right emerging from beneath the waves, from the “unseen” reality.
There are two separate concepts I would like you to consider:
1) The world does not exist unless it is perceived.
2) Consciousness is everywhere.
The first concept asks the question, “If a tree falls in the forest, and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?” This question could be rephrased to ask, “If there is something on the other side of the wall, and I can’t see it, does it exist?” The first question has to do with hearing and the second with sight—both faculties of perception.
The second concept asserts that consciousness is the fundamental aspect of reality. There is nowhere that consciousness is not present. Flowers and leaves turn to follow the sun in what’s called “heliotropism,” exhibiting a particular level of consciousness. Electrons “know” which shell of an atom they belong in, and they know it without analysis or consideration. They know it automatically, which can be said of all of nature, including our own physical bodies with all of their autonomic functions.
Consciousness has a spectrum, just as light has a spectrum. Spectrums are continuous, but they allow for distinct differences. Red at one end, ultraviolet at the other—red and blue are different colors, but they both live in the same spectrum. The same can be said of consciousness. The consciousness of electrons is of a different order than the consciousness of leaves; the consciousness of leaves is of a different order than our consciousness of what might exist on the other side of walls. But, just as light is light, regardless of its frequency, so is consciousness consciousness, regardless of where it shows up in the spectrum of reality.
Here’s another concept to consider:
3) Sight and hearing (along with touching, tasting, and smelling) are also differences along a continuous spectrum of perception. They all register states of vibration, each at their own particular level.
These senses are not restricted to organic life-forms, just as vibration is not restricted to organic life-forms. Rocks and stones have their own means of “seeing” and “hearing.” So, the question, “If a tree falls in the forest, and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?”, is rendered moot—”someone” is always there.
There are two issues that arise from this line of reasoning:
1) The universe is a web of consciousness.
2) Reality has a certain stasis that is in a constant process of degradation and renewal.
The first explains how actions can mirror each other at great distances simultaneously without traversing the space between them. It also explains how we can know things without perceiving them directly with our physical senses. Along with this, it helps us to understand what Buddhists are talking about when they say that there is no such thing as an independent self. If there is only one consciousness, complete and continuous within itself, how can we separate ourselves from it? We cannot.
The second explains what Hinduism calls maya. It is the trap in which we sometimes feel caught, the sense that the universe has a mind of its own, and that there is nothing we can do to change it. From this we derive the notion of fate, the inexorable outworkings of the law of cause and effect—the wheel of karma. But this, as we shall see later on, is an illusion.
If consciousness is the fundamental aspect of reality, then knowing is the glue that holds the universe together. Knowing and memory go hand in hand here. This is what Hinduism calls akasha. If every point in the universe is conscious of every other point, then that’s the Mother of All Networks. It is the matrix, a word that comes from the Latin word for “mother.” It is the fabric (or gown) of reality, the outer cloak of an inner or unseen process.
If this Grand Stasis were left on its own, it would eventually grind to a halt. There must be some element in all of this that feels compelled to shake things up, some agitating principle that can’t resist the urge to insert something new into the system—to create. This agitating, creative principle is what Hinduism calls OM and Christianity calls the Logos or “Word.”
I’m sure you can see the metaphysical principle of Gender in all of this—the active, initiating male principle and the passive, conserving/maintaining/protective female principle. One is always “got to be startin’ somethin'”, and the other just wants a little respect. This is the dynamic that, just as it does in biology, makes all life possible.
I am presenting these ideas in a somewhat irreverent way on purpose. Sometimes, I think our notion of reverence gets in the way—hugely—of our ability to see spiritual things realistically. We tend to project all of our beliefs about goodness onto our sense of God, and at the same time, we project our beliefs about evil onto a “devil.” These projections, which are always amplified in direct proportion to our existential insecurities, can only prevent us from seeing reality as it really is. There is an element of unpredictability (mischief, if you will) in creation, just as there are elements of wonder and awe. If we fail to recognize this, then we will distrust and even demonize those same attributes when we find them in ourselves.
And perhaps the greatest act of mischief ever perpetrated is this game of hide-and-seek that we call life—where the real world lies hidden just beneath the surface of the “waves.”