• Xav
    36
    Imagine for a moment that all that existed in the entire universe was a single human brain. There was no vacuum or void surrounding it, it just was. By some miraculous means, it thought, functioned, and experienced all on it’s own.

    Now imagine it experienced its life time; formed memories, started small and childish, grew old and tired, then died and faded away to nothing. This mind and the universe are one and the same. Let’s say it was you who was this mind, your experience could equally be regarded as the universe’s experience as you are all that is the universe. That single point or entity we all feel we are (not the network of ticking neurons); the experience of being ‘one thing,’ was being experienced by you, who is the universe.

    Now imagine, once there was nothing left of the mind, a new and different mind grew in a similar fashion. This new mind has no memories of the previous mind, yet is still all that is in the universe. Though the mind would have no memory of it, it is still the very same universe which was originally entirely the previous mind.

    The two minds might think of themselves as two different selves however I would say that the universe experienced both outside the limitations of concepts like ego and memory. In this strange and hypothetical universe, is a space where a reincarnation like concept can be easily imagined. The universe being both minds whilst each mind feeling separate.

    The universe would have no facilities for being aware of itself. Nor would either mind know what it was apart of as the powerful sense of being an important and individual existence (the ego) is a deep and core value of the brain that hosts our experience. This universe would be like a pool of water, that is experience, with dividers in it separating it like segments in an ice cube tray. Each divided section being a mind, unaware that it is filled with the same water that fills all the other trays.

    In this hypothetical universe, the ice cube tray only has one row; only one pool at any one time. Linear. But who’s to say there couldn’t be simultaneous pools? Einstein’s work tells us time’s relation to space is nothing like how we perceive it. Chronology means nothing to the overall workings of the universe so why would reincarnation like phenomena not be possible in a nonlinear environment. Who’s to say everyone of us isn’t the very same experience divided only by memory and evolved illusions of self?

    What’s more, who’s to say experience is even limited to the complex neurological systems of organisms and brains. Frankly it is a vast assumption to make any definition for what experience is. From experiencing, I infer that it is possible for a large system of complex energy transfers and reactions (the brain), to form a unified entity, a section of the metaphorical ice cube tray of experience. Who’s to eliminate the possibility that any network of reactions and energy movement couldn’t result in some sort of experience, no matter how foreign or simple? To rocks striking each other in space could create a sudden moment of experience that the universe could feel. A sudden pulse of experience so simplistic and foreign to us it’s impossible to imagine and so we conclude it’s impossible in general.

    What if the dividers in the pool are what is unique to human experience? Could everything else in the universe be experiencing as one? Our strange ego’s extending like tendrils or limbs; still apart of the enormous experience of the universe yet in our own peculiar way isolated by traits grown by evolution. (Evolution in itself being a complex system that very well may have its own experience).

    I do not think the fact that I can entertain this idea via a pseudo rational thought experiment, relying on assumptions and missing many of the greater complexities of human experience proves it is correct. However as a westerner, ideas like reincarnation are often laughed at as we head to church to transmit thoughts to a giant man in the sky who puts us on naughty-nice lists like Santa, yet thoughts like these make me think that reincarnation like ideas run closer to the laws of logic and rationale than god like beings seem to.

    This article may very well be just be wrong. Perhaps there truly is no such thing as experience from that single unified being made of a brain. That may simply be how deep the illusion of ego runs. I am very much a follower and believer of science. But the point of this article is to show that a oneness among life and the universe doesn’t stray as far from logic or science as I’ve heard many say. Science has been aided and phenomena have been discover from just as absurd sounding thought experiments.

    In a TED talk David Chalmers says to attack a scientific explanation for consciousness we will need highly radical ideas to kick off and in summary here is mine:

    What if the universe is a unified experience that has developed complex structures within itself (human minds) that have developed a technique (ego/sense of self) of separating themselves from the wider experience of the universe?
  • leo
    347
    What’s more, who’s to say experience is even limited to the complex neurological systems of organisms and brains. Frankly it is a vast assumption to make any definition for what experience is. From experiencing, I infer that ...Xav

    Indeed, all of our concepts stem from what we experience, the concept of a brain and of neurons stems from what we experience, so how could we ever know that experience itself stems from brains alone? How could we ever say that what we experience suffices to infer where experience itself comes from? I just feel there is much more out there than what we are able to experience, and I like your take on things.
  • Xav
    36
    exactly, that's why the notion we could all be the very same experience thrills me, maybe one day (excuse the implication we haven't already been) I or we could experience all kinds of impossibly alien perspectives. Why rule it out?
  • Josh Alfred
    110


    I really liked your water and ice metaphor for self-existence and separation of the self. Very well constructed.

    Our brains are electromagnetic field oscillators. Whose to say that almost all other living things (be they alien or not) aren't experiencing their own existence as a small part (mind) of the total/universal electromagnetic field?

    I have for many years, wondered if their is some kind of connection between one life and another, besides material connection. I have yet to understand very well. I think your idea here is materialistic rather than spiritual, and that you might consider leaving your mind open to the idea that there are physics on some other level that might be linked to death and rebirth, as I have for years. This of course comes from my light fanaticism with Buddhism. Are their spiritual laws, or only physical, governing the universe and death and rebirth? Is Karma and Dhamma explanation enough?
  • Pelle
    30
    I think you're unknowingly stumbling into Aristotilean teleologism, which is an unfalsifiable idea (and thus holds no merit).

    There's no way for me to know if the rock I'm throwing is doing so because "it wants to" along with omnipotent mind of the universe. These spiritual entities are not possible to discern from experiment, they have to be established a priori, which is a signifier of pseudoscience. Everything points to that rocks can't think, but even if they could, they would have no means of communicating it to us.

    The idea that of a teleological and "conscious" universe is just a heuristical layer we apply to the world to avoid confusion. We do that because of our tendency to attribute meaning to things to orient ourselves in the world.
  • Xav
    36
    I carefully replaced every use of the word conscious with experience in my article before posting it to avoid this exact debate. Free-will is a concept I very much struggle with and, if it does exist it is likely in a vastly different form to how we simplistically imagine it. I am not saying the rock chooses or does not chose to move, simply that some peculiar form of experience may form with the transfer of kinetic energy from one to another. This experience may be more like a movie than a video-game. Like many things this cannot be proven or disproved yet my heart tells me not to rule it out as a possibility that isn't as far-fetched as it might seem on a surface level.
  • Xav
    36
    I think it is incredibly arrogant to say everything is purely physical as 'I think therefore I am.'
    My problem with a lot of spiritual ideas is that they tend to view humanity as separate from other life and tend to view life as separate from the rest of the cosmos.
    There is lots of evidence to support that abstract and spiritual thought aid the survival of the human race in a similar way to many other evolutionary traits formed from the chaos of natural selection. The thought that these spiritual laws existed before we manifested from physical material seems like a reverse engineer of a more likely possibility.
    Spirituality could very well be more important than I believe but if it is an instinct of humans to generate these concepts then surely it is that possibility that we must open our minds to. It feels easy to shut off possibilities that shatter the importance of our egos yet I think, the further we read between the lines, the more beautiful a truth we may discover.
    We are no more than atoms in the physical realm and yet, like characters in a book, the formations of our atoms represent meaning, experience to some sort of cosmic reader. Perhaps this reader is the universe itself?

    I hope we are all connected to something (the universe) like branches from a tree or an ice cube tray filled with the same water. Joined by some kind of greater conscious we simply can't detect and we feel separate from it. I hope when we die we may become one with the trunk of the tree and experience all the other branches (and the trunk) simultaneously and yet also, one by one.

    PS I haven't looked into Bhuddism in itself a great deal, but I love Alan Watts and Zen ideas.
  • NKBJ
    1.1k
    You could take an atheistic/scientific approach to the idea of reincarnation that makes it more logical: the matter of which we all are made is endlessly recycled.

    "We", that is our personalities, thoughts, and deeds continue on in the ripple effects they caused also for infinity.
  • Bitter Crank
    7.8k
    If this "once around world" is depressing, then reincarnation is a horror.
  • Pelle
    30
    why would you follow your heart in this instance? Wouldn't using reason be more helpful for solving metaphysical problems? I understand that this idea might have an entertaining/aesthetic quality which could justify its pursuance (I share that sentiment with you), but ultimately in everyone's best interest we should all try to align our beliefs with the facts as much as possible (which in turn stem from reason).
  • Xav
    36
    A scary thought we might simply be the construction of others perceptions and knowledge of us or our actions, but what of secrets and deep unshared thoughts? I think who we are extends into our deeds, society and environment but is not limited to that.
  • Xav
    36
    I see no reason to believe only the human mind should be capable of generating experience, it is no different or more complex to many systems in the universe. This is not me following my heart, this is me being careful not to make any assumptions upon the importance of my species.
  • TheMadFool
    3.3k
    Reminded me of superorganism.

    The diversity hides a unity. Let's just take humans for my discussion. We all have an individual identity; at least that's what we believe. However, all share a similar body plan and, I daresay, a similar psychic template. Isn't that why anything ''works'' at all? If we were really distinct from everybody else then psychotherapy, medicine, technology should fail as what will apply for one will not apply for the other.

    I don't see any evidence for reincarnation, which requires a soul in my book, except that your theory would mean we're all different expressions of the universe itself.

    Is this what you mean by ''reincarnation"?

    If yes, your definition doesn't agree with the conventional meaning of the word.
  • NKBJ
    1.1k


    Your post here is about reincarnation. That means after you die. After you die, social and causal ripples are all that is left. Before you die you have a body and brain to boot. Other than that? Nothing.

    If you have secrets that you've never told anyone and never acted upon, they die with you.
  • Pelle
    30


    I see no reason to believe only the human mind should be capable of generating experience, it is no different or more complex to many systems in the universe.Xav

    It is though. According to all credible science, the human brain is the most advanced cognitive structure on Earth (if you accept CTM at least partly). Speculating about a hypothetical alien mind I find meaningless, so what is your point exactly? Isn't the burden of proof on the holistic organicists to prove the existence of their universal mind entity?
  • Xav
    36
    Yes, I don't mean a conventional reincarnation more that we will, have and currently may be experiencing other perspectives. Concepts like memory and ego may simply be a veil over other parts of a wider perspective. I'm inspired by the word reincarnation as I think it is more likely than we think we could one day (without realizing it) find ourselves looking out the eyes and living the life of someone else.
  • Xav
    36
    It may be the most complex structure on earth but is it as complex as the galaxy we live in? Is it as complex as the workings of a sub atomic particle resonating through time and space? The human brain certainly isn't as complicated as the whole ecosystem as a collective. Why can't these peculiar arrangements of matter also form an experience? Not one that falls into our silly parameters of "self awareness" or "problem solving ability." But still an experience nonetheless.
  • Xav
    36
    To clarify yes, I think different expressions of the universe's perspective is a nice way of putting it.
  • TheMadFool
    3.3k
    I get it. Very interesting perspective on the universe. I'm inclined to think along similar lines.
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