Thursday, January 5, 2012


As I've said before, I am not a scientist, although as I continue to write this blog I am getting more knowledgeable in different scientific areas. I just want to write. I do not have the time to research all the references in this blog post. So this post may not pass muster for a scientific publication. But if you, dear reader, are interested in publishing this material and you need footnotes and references, then I would be happy to provide them for you. For now, if I am not sure who said what, or who did what, I will just let you know that.

A while ago, one reader, misunderstanding what I had written, challenged me to show him one example where physical laws were violated. He proclaimed that physical laws are inviolable. I didn't disagree with him at that time. I just let him know that I was talking about overcoming not violating physical laws.

The laws of physics are inviolable; that is, until they aren't. Newton's laws were considered inviolable until we started getting information from distant stars and objects moving at great speeds, that did not jive with Newtonian projections. Einstein came up with new laws. These laws, among other things consolidated many Newtonian ideas about the nature of physical reality. Electricity and magnetism came to be understood ( by Einstein or perhaps someone else) as two aspects of the same thing; hence: electro-magnetism. Space and time were also realized to be two aspects of the same thing: hence: the space-time continuum. Acceleration and inertia were found to be a part of gravity which in turn was a feature of the bending of the space-time continuum. So now we had Einstein's laws, rather than Newton's, which were really inviolable. Shortly thereafter, quantum theorists, investigating the behavior of tiny particles, discovered violations of some of Einstein's ideas. Twin particles seem to adjust to each other instantaneously at enormous distances, faster than the speed of light. The idea that the speed of light was fixed and that nothing, not even information, could move faster than that speed is at the core of Einstein's theories. Also, quantum theorists have discovered that the observer changes the very nature of the thing that he or she is observing just by observing it. Beyond Einstein, the very nature of matter and the universe itself are called into question by quantum observations. Quantum tunneling, whereby particles move through seemingly impenetrable barriers, not only occurs, but is at the core of the process that provides us with heat from the sun. While the particle, as a particle, cannot penetrate the barrier, that same particle, or wave, or whatever it actually is, if it is 'actually' anything, when it is in its wave form, it moves easily through that barrier, and when it goes back to its particle form, may find that it has 'tunneled through' and is now on the other side of the barrier.

These discoveries have led contemporary theoretical physicists into a fantastic frenzy of speculation. This is not speculation around the margins, but speculation about the very essence of matter, of gravity, of the physical world itself. Is there really a solid physical world, or is this solidity a function of the way that our brain/body processes information? Is it possible that we are not the random accidental result of a highly unusual collision of particles, but, rather, is everything almost the exact opposite of the way that we have been thinking. Is it possible that the particles, including the particles that make up our brains and bodies, are not really solid particles at all, but only part of a design whose purpose is to provide us with a certain type of experience? So, I think it is fair to say that the average theoretical physicist today is in some sort of state of fervency, and it is a wondrous fervency.

This is not at all the case with theoretical biologists. In fact, there are very few of that species remaining. Is that because Darwin, unlike Newton, actually found the inviolable set of laws that determine the origin and development of life? Or is it because the discrepancies between Darwin's theories and historical and observational reality have been swept under the rug by orthodox evolutionary apologists who offer up impossibly convoluted and tortured explanations for these discrepancies (much like the way that the Earth-centered vision of the solar system of Aristotle and Ptolemy endured for two thousand years because astronomers indoctrinated in the Earth-centered system continued to offer up elaborate and implausible explanations for the fluctuating brightness and retrograde motion of the planets). The level of complexity and precision that we are discovering at the cellular and even the molecular level of living beings is obviously far, far too precise and synchronized to be the product of random, unintelligent molecular accidents accumulating over hundreds and millions of years. In fact the very basic processes of life, the processes that needed to be there at the very inception of life, are so numbingly complex that Nobel Prizes are handed out to our brightest and most diligent researchers who have spent their entire lives even marginally deepening our understanding of any aspect of it. Clinging to Darwinian orthodoxy, absurd and ridiculously convoluted explanations are offered up to justify how this complexity could have come to be, and to justify how all geological evidence points, not to gradual evolutionary changes, but to sudden ones and ones that occurred just at the point when climactic and geological conditions on this planet either made them necessary (as in the case of major adaptations of existing species) or made them possible, as in the arrival of more highly developed species whose arrival depended on and needed to await a cooler climate, a more oxygenated environment and the availability of certain elements (phosphorous for skeletal development, for instance).

But I digress. Most contemporary physicists talk about four basic forces of nature: gravity and electro-magnetism, which we are most familiar with, and the strong and weak forces which are forces that bind atomic particles together and sustain atomic structures. Many physicists talk about the ultimate consolidation of forces; that one day we could deepen our understanding so that we could see all forces in nature as coming from or derivative of one, as yet to be discovered force. If you look at the history of science you see that at any given time there were a set of forces or physical laws that were deemed to be inviolable. Then, when violations of these laws were discovered, devout apologists of these systems scrambled to create elaborate justifications for these violations until someone, some truly courageous thinker, was willing to throw out the entire system and replace it with a new and more efficient one which explained, or seemed to explain, how things worked including the violations of the old system. Then, as violations of the new system were discovered, the new system became the old system, to be ultimately replaced by a still newer system which was even more inclusive and efficient in its explanation of the phenomena observed to that point.

But if we say that there are four basic forces, or perhaps three as some physicists are now saying, or perhaps two, as Taoist and Hindu thinkers have been saying for thousands of years; there is still another force that must be considered. That is the force behind all the attempts to overcome the other forces. The force behind all the attempts to overcome the other 'natural' forces (this force is every bit as natural as the 'natural forces'} is called 'desire.' And I want to discuss how desire initiates all the attempts to overcome natural forces. These attempts I will classify into three categories: 1. all machines. 2. all behavior of living beings. and 3. all biological processes within living beings.


Desire cannot be observed directly in a machine. Yet, what 'natural' force can be observed directly? Gravity and electro-magnetism are not directly observed, but deduced by the way they effect matter. Newton was not the first person to observe an apple falling. People had been observing apples falling for many centuries, but that was just part of 'the way things were.' It was Newton who wondered why and deduced (not observed) a force between massive objects that pulled them towards one another. Einstein reworked that theory, but, again, not based on his observation of gravity directly, but based on observations of gravity's effect on enormous masses of matter and on matter moving at enormously high speeds. We also know that there is a balance between protons and electrons in atoms (although we are no longer sure just what protons and electrons actually are); and atoms with too few electrons in relation to their protons are attracted to atoms with a surplus of electrons. Again, we do not observe the force directly , but only observe this movement, this pull between these objects, and call that force electro-magnetism.

A machine is a way of gathering some kind of energy, focussing it through certain objects whose shape and composition allow that energy to be used to overcome some of the 'natural forces' so that some purpose can be accomplished. It is obvious to deduce that the inventor must have desired to create something that accomplished that purpose when he or she invented that machine; that the builder, who tested the machine to make sure that it worked properly and made adjustments to it's construction if it didn't, desired to build this machine so that it achieved the purpose that the inventor intended for it; and that any user of that machine desires to have the experience of achieving that purpose that the inventor intended whenever the machine is used.

When scientist Steve Pinker declares in Time Magazine that, "Scientists have exorcised the ghost from the machine," he is implying that there is no more mystery in the machine; that everything is now known and observable about it. Yet the 'desire' out of which the machine was created and the 'desire' that precedes the use of the machine and the 'experience' of the satisfaction of that desire by the use of the machine, all of which can neither be observed or measured, are not even considered by scientists such as Steve Pinker; but without which any machine would never be used nor even created in the first place.

One more thing about machines. The inventor of a machine gets an idea, but it is not the only idea represented in the machine. The inventor is the recipient, the inheritor, of a whole host of ideas that are already a part of the culture or society of which he or she is a member. The inventor's idea is, at least for that moment, the capstone of a whole host of ideas that he has built upon to enable him to come up with this one new idea. The smelting of bronze brought about the Bronze Age with a whole raft of new tools and weapons that were stronger and more precisely formed than anything preceding them. Yet the inventor of bronze smelting built upon the knowledge of building a fire, of pots that could hold the copper and tin ore and withstand the intense heat of the smelting process, of a system of hooks and support poles to hold those smelting pots in place, of kilns to increase the temperature inside the oven beyond what could be achieved in an open fire, of the use of charcoal in an airless furnace to reduce the ore and pull the oxygen from copper and tin oxides, of the tools necessary to mine the copper and tin ore, etc. In the same way any contemporary inventor has, as part of his thinking about the design and components of his invention, a whole raft of available materials and known inventions like screws and conducting wires and transistors, etc., all of which are part of the context in which he thinks about solutions to the problem that is troubling him and out of which comes the idea, the invention, which is the solution to that problem. In this way, technology 'evolves.' This evolution is somewhat random in that inventions are solutions to problems presented by the unfulfilled demands of people in relation to their environment, but the course of those demands and the ways in which the environment may change are always unpredictable. But in technology, in the world of machines, it is easy to see that there is an evolution, but it is an evolution of ideas motivated by desires that changed as the environment (not only the physical environment, but the social and political environment, the environment of human needs) changed as well.


Every time a living being does anything, not the automatic biological processes that go on without this being's awareness, but every behavior in which this organism expends energy to reach a certain goal; the force that summons and focusses the energy to accomplish that goal is desire. And that applies to any goal, from building the Taj Mahal to picking one's nose. Here I am talking about desire, not necessarily enthusiasm. With human behavior we are often coerced in different ways to do things; our boss may ask us to do many things that we don't 'want' to do in the sense of enthusiastically undertaking it; but we would rather do it than face the consequences of not doing it. So, since our choices are limited, we choose to do it rather than not do it and in that choosing we summon the energy to accomplish that task and to do it in a manner that is acceptable to our boss and that will not result in any negative consequences for us. This is not to say that there aren't biological and chemical underpinnings to many of our desires; but we are really unaware of those. Those underpinnings are the kinds of things that may be discovered by a biologist, or a chemist. So we may go to the coffee shop and get a dessert when our blood sugar level is low, but we are not necessarily aware of that. What we are aware of is that we experience something called 'hunger' which is the experience of wanting food; and the hungrier that we are, the more we want that dessert and the more willing we are to expend energy to get it. And that is the same with thirst which is the desire for water; or tiredness, which is the desire for sleep. Whether or not there is a biological condition underlying our desire, in terms of our actual experience, we eat, drink and lie down because we are hungry, thirsty and tired; in other words, because we want to. What other force could there be? Certainly it is not gravity; we don't fall into our food, and if our food source is higher up the hill than we are, we don't just helplessly starve to death. And certainly it's not electro-magnetism. Food doesn't just fly into our mouths as if our teeth are magnets and our food are edible iron filings. We, or any organism, expend effort to get to our food; and we expend that effort because we are hungry, in other words, because we want to.

This applies to what is known as instinctual behavior as well. Whatever the instinctual behavior is, however 'primitive' it is; if it is something as simple as flight or fight, the organism is provided with some kind of sensory equipment that allows it to discern whether that thing in the environment is something to eat, to ignore or to avoid. What that organism desires to eat may be biologically dictated; what that organism wants to avoid may be biologically dictated; but when it summons energy to move toward that food source it does so because it is hungry and desires to eat; and when it avoids that predator it does so because it experiences fear, which is the desire to flee, and when it attacks that predator it does so because it experiences anger which is the desire to fight.

All through this blog I have made the distinction between us, you and me, and our bodies and brains, which are our survival equipment. We use our survival equipment and experience the world through our survival equipment, but we are not our survival equipment. In this sense, when biologists refer to living beings as survival machines, they are referring not to living beings, but to the equipment that living beings are provided with. Yes, this equipment, and all the literally countless biological processes that support it, is organized and synchronized to survive, which means to stay in a working condition for the longest possible time so that the being that inhabits that equipment and is experiencing the world in a particular way through that equipment, can continue to have this particular experience for as long as possible. But this equipment has another purpose beyond the continued survival of the being that dwells within it; and that purpose is to serve that being as the automatic servant of that being's desires. And we, ourselves, who are not our equipment, we are desire beings, not survival beings.

It is only very recently that biologists have been discovering the details of the many things that our bodies need to survive, but we, and all other living beings, that are no doubt less biologically educated than we are, have been surviving since the inception of life. This is not because we do things to survive; it is because we each have inherited as part of our equipment, but an unseen part of our equipment, a system of desires, so that we 'want' to do and to eat and to drink the things necessary for us to be able to survive; but we do it, not because of survival which we know nothing about, but because, simply, we 'want' to. Often we are not even aware that we want to do the things that we want to do. We want something and that desire is so instantaneously gratified that we have no experience of really wanting it. For instance, we scratch our noses. We do that because of an itch. An itch is the desire to scratch, but it is only when we are not able to instantly satisfy that desire that we have a real experience of it: when the itch is in the middle of our backs, or underneath a body cast, or if our doctor has told us not to scratch a healing rash, etc. In fact the great, great majority of our desires are instantly satisfied but we have neither the experience nor the gratitude for having the equipment that is capable of satisfying that desire. Often, in this competitive world, we are so focussed on the few desires that we, for one reason or another, are not able to satisfy at the present time, that we completely forget, and have no gratitude, for the literally thousands of desires that we automatically satisfy every day. When we want to get up, we get up. When we want to look at something, we look. When we want a glass of water we get it. But the fact that we have all inherited this utterly amazing equipment that allows us to instantaneously satisfy such a multitude of desires every day, goes unnoticed. And the fact that we have a set of natural desires; not all the desires that we have 'learned' from our culture and especially from advertising, whose whole point is to create desires not to enhance the survival of the one being advertised at, but to enhance the profit margin of the advertiser; but natural desires whose satisfaction will maximize the chances of survival of ourselves and our species; all of this goes unnoticed unless we stop, and turn our focus away, if even for a moment, from the those few things that we covet and onto the multitude of things and abilities that we already have.

Sometimes these desires are in conflict and we hesitate. Sometimes neither of these desires are especially appealing but we make the choice and desire to do option A over option B even though we are not enthusiastic about either. Often we have forgotten that we want to do the things we do because we do them automatically. At one time we desperately desired to walk. We still want to walk whenever we walk, but we don't experience that desire. Sometimes we get injured and then we are reminded how much we want to do the things we do every day, but take for granted, because those deep desires are automatically fulfilled. These desires are sometimes conflicting. We have selfish desires and altruistic desires. We have aggression and fear. So sometimes we hesitate, but once we decide what it is that we want to do, we just automatically and instantaneously start doing it.

Am I saying that all living creatures, even microbes and plants have consciousness? Yes, I am, but I have to explain what I mean by consciousness. Consciousness has nothing to do with the ability to 'think' or 'fantasize' or recognize oneself in a mirror. What I mean by consciousness is the background of one's experience. Thoughts are one type of content of experience. Emotions are another content. Perceptions are another content. But you can have no awareness of the content without having a background, a milieu, out of which that content emerges. In a painting you cannot identify an object unless there is a background against which that object appears as the foreground. Consciousness is the background of the content of all your experience. And you are consciousness. In other words, you are the background, the milieu out of which all the thoughts, feelings, desires and other experiences emerge. In the simplest of creatures, whose entire experience may consist of thirst, hunger, and the attraction toward or repulsion from external objects, there still must be a background, a consciousness, however limited, out of which these experiences emerge.

Living beings need things from their environment: food and water, at least. That is how the system is designed. Living things must interact with their environment. Part of the beautiful and fascinating design of life is that every living being arrives here with a set of desires that are based on its biological needs, so that what we want is the very thing that we need. This is an aspect of life that is so inherent that we take it for granted. But if we are talking about the beginning, the inception of life, we must talk not just about chemical processes, but about this system of desires which may correlate with these chemical processes, but which are very different from them; one being an observable physical process and one being an unobservable, non-physical experience. Certainly we cannot imagine any species gradually 'learning' thirst or hunger; or learning what foods would best satisfy their biological needs. How many generations of microbes do you think would survive before they accidentally mutated 'thirst', or accidentally mutated that the experience of thirst must be satisfied by water? How do genetic mutations result in learning anyway? A living being must arrive here with an entire system of desires in tact; desires which will automatically dictate when and toward what that organism expends its energy. So as evolutionary biologists labor to come up with a plausible scenario whereby organic molecules accidentally accumulated into a replicating molecule and accidentally accumulated into a genetic code (a code, by the way, in which, according to their theory, there is no agent or being to ascribe meaning to that code) and accidentally accumulated into all the precise and synchronized equipment to read that code (because a code is of absolutely no use unless there is some way of reading it); once these evolutionary biologists have somehow been able to imagine all that; they must also imagine a way that this unobservable, unmeasurable, system of desires which provides the energy for any life form to get what it needs from its environment; how that non-physical system managed to accumulate from the random collision of molecules as well, and in the exact same place and at the exact same time that a genetically coded replicating molecule was accumulating as well.

I don't mean to imply that all desires have a biological underpinning. We, humans, at least, have other motivations, and we arrive here to accomplish certain goals. We come from the world beyond matter, the world of spirit which is essentially indivisible, and we begin to experience that Oneness when we get in touch with our real, spiritual center within. But in this world we have a separate body and brain, a separate set of memories and knowledge and relationships. We each experience this world from a slightly different point of view, because we experience it through our brain, body, sensory organs, all of which are part of the physical world and each slightly different. In addition to our biological motivations, we want to distinguish ourselves, to draw attention to ourselves, to gain recognition for ourselves in a way that separates us from everyone else. This is perhaps what Freud refers to as the ego. At the same time we want to return to the Oneness from which we originated. We want to dedicate ourselves, to lose our sense of separate self, to experience oneness on some level, with our partners, our family, our friends, and, most transcendentally, with the great spirit that connects us all, with God. So we find ourselves somewhere along this continuum, with sociopaths at one end and saints at the other.

Yet the force that drives all living beings to do things, to expend energy to achieve goals, is desire.


If biological processes, the organization of them, the creation of them and the functioning of them are also motivated by desire, and, with the exception of a few research biologists, we know nothing or next to nothing of these processes, then whose desire is it that has engendered all this amazing activity, and what exactly is that desire? What is the motivation behind creating living beings?

Let's talk first about the material world. The material world, whether, ultimately, it exists or is just a function of our perceptions, is a world that is divisible. We distinguish the material world into different, separate parts. That is your body and this is my body. That is your house and this is my house. Here is ten dollars for you and ten dollars for me. We divide it, separate it, analyze it and take possession of some part of it. We live in a world that seems to be made of solid, unchangeable parts and our particular world and all the things and 'particles' in it, are familiar and known to us. This is the material world that we are comfortable in. And this is why we are not just saddened, but shocked, when something dramatic and unexpected takes place. Someone dies; someone is seriously and permanently injured; our house burns down; our car is stolen; our village is flooded. We live in an impermanent, constantly changing material world, but we live as if this world is permanent and unchanging. A quantum way of saying that would be, in a world of waves, we see only particles.

Now the spiritual world, the world of consciousness, is just the opposite of that. Consciousness is not really separable. There is no 'thingness' to separate one part from the other. There are, really, no parts. Consciousness pervades time and space, but it is not of time and space. If you think of the speed of light not as a speed limit, but as a threshold, the ultimate speed that a thing can move and still be a thing, then at a speed greater than that, the thing is no longer a thing, but a no-thing; and as a 'no-thing' it can then move at infinite speed, since there is no 'thingness' to inhibit its velocity. So no-thing, or consciousness, traveling at infinite speed is everywhere at the same time, since it takes no time for no-thing to pass through the entire universe and return to the same spot. So no-thing, or consciousness, is infinitely fast and completely still at the same time. Also there is really no separation between no-thing and every other no-thing; in fact there are no separate no-things, because there is nothing to separate one no-thing from another. And, of course, no-thing permeates all of time-space because there is no barrier that can block the passage of no-thing from one place to another; there is nothing to block. So no-thing is everywhere and, since it takes up no space, is nowhere at the same time.

Living beings are God's way of giving the illusion of separation to consciousness. Every living being sustains the illusion of a separate consciousness, whether that consciousness consists of a few basic desires, or whether that consciousness consists of the most byzantine and complicated self-analysis, accompanied by voluminous, narcissistic autobiographies. Yet when we take our focus away from the material world and the things we desire to achieve in it, and look within, then we start to feel the spaciousness, the boundlessness, the connection to everyone and everything which is pure consciousness and our true selves. Ultimately, your true self is my true self. That which sees your sights, hears your sounds and thinks your thoughts, is the same 'that which' which sees my sights, hears my sounds and thinks my thoughts. Since we have all made a commitment to this life of looking at the world through this particular tunnel called our body-brain, and since every one's body-brain is somewhat different, we seem to be different consciousnesses. Yet, although the content of our consciousness is different, the context of our consciousness, that which experiences the content of our consciousness is, ultimately, the same context.

The separation between cosmic consciousness, or God, and each individual is complicated. We are all aspects of God. We have all come from God. We will all return to God. And we have all made this commitment to experience the world through this particular body-brain perspective that we call 'life.' In this life time some will deny and even refuse to consider the existence of God, yet most of the time what they are refusing to consider is a concept outside of themselves. God is not a concept. God cannot be understood by our limited intelligence. God cannot be conceived of or 'figured out.' But God can be and is experienced to some degree. Even the most die-hard, materialist, atheist, has intimations that he is more than he is aware of; that the world holds secrets far greater than he has been taught and that he is, somehow, part of this great secret.

God is within us as well as without us. It is out of God's desire that life was formed. It is God's desire that fills us with the desires that sustain our body-brains and it is God's desire that provided us with the body-brains to have and to fulfill those desires in the first place. And what we desire is always an experience. We desire a certain kind of experience for ourselves or for others. And it is also God's desire that we are given this amazing equipment that allows us to experience the fulfillment of those desires. Every time we want to do something, which is every waking moment, a hundred thousand or a hundred million of the one hundred billion neurons of our brains are fired. These neurons are the exact combination of neurons that will set off a series of processes that will allow us to satisfy our desires. Where is the equipment that instantaneously translates those desires into the most complicated and precise pattern of firing neurons? There is no physical equipment. Where is the equipment which, at the other end, translates the final pattern of firing neurons into an experience of fulfillment? Again, there is no physical equipment. Biologists study our equipment but what they never study, what they cannot study, is how this equipment is continually at the service of our desires;and how this equipment allows us to have, at every moment, a certain experience, which cannot be measured or observed, but which is our actual life.

As I mentioned earlier, physicists seek for that one force that will unite and explain all the others. That one force is desire. God's desire for life is the desire to separate consciousness into individual aspects. God put all the utterly precise laws in place that allowed there to be a material world in the first place. And just like the living world has a genetic code which is God's way of communicating ideas about constructing living beings and their traits; the inorganic world also has a code, a code of neutrons, protons and electrons; so that by adding or removing any of these from the structure of an atom, an entire new configuration is created which we experience in a completely different way. It is a way of providing us with a physical world that we experience as beautiful and that, eventually, has provided us with enough heat, enough light, enough nutrients, enough magnetism, enough stability, to allow these very delicate and amazingly complex creatures, called human beings, to be able to have a life of desires and a consciousness to experience the drama of the fulfillment and the frustration of those desires.

As usual, your comments are always welcome.

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