Monday, April 13, 2015

Where do Ideas Come From? What caused the BIG BANG?

"I have an idea," you announce to your co-workers. Yes, it's true, literally, that you "have" an idea (in your mind). But do you ever wonder where ideas come from? Most of us take it for granted that we, being in original possession of the idea must be its owner.

Indeed, the law says it is so, and it is so. But this convenient and pragmatic logic fails to examine the source of the idea. Don't you and I, as intelligent, creative, thinking persons, rely upon what might be called a process, even a "mechanism," of searching for answers out in an unknown space of the ether for answers? We do this so instinctively that we rarely question or probe the process itself.

Take something totally mundane, like "What should I give my friend for her birthday?" Your eyebrows frown or narrow slightly; one or both of your eyes squint as if peering into some unseen dark box; the mind quiets momentarily. It's as if you've sent a search command into your hard drive for a file as you wait, sometimes a nano second, for a reply. You examine it, perhaps discard it, and ask for another. If none comes, you may abandon your conscious search and go onto the next task fully expectant, based on experience, that an answer will suddenly pop up later. (That resembles the speed of my computer at home, unfortunately.)

But the analogy to a computer, while interesting and somewhat relevant, doesn't give the full answer because my computer doesn't create new files, it only searches existing ones. My brain simply CANNOT be the source of a symphony or a poem even if rigidly evidence-based inquiries insist that it must be for lack of any other measurable source. Why doesn't MY brain produce symphonies or poems, but yours does?

To produce something intelligible to the human intellect and that is communicable to other humans, the brain serves as a necessary tool. It gives language, sound, description and feeling to my idea for a present for my friend. Indeed, the very question originates in the material world of friends and birthdays, so the response must take a relevant form. The brain thus acts as a translator back and forth between consciousness and matter via the transmission of measurable brain energy.

Do you think that the brain originates ideas? If you do, you have strong support from the scientific community but they'll NEVER tell you how! They can measure things like brain waves and can tell you that certain parts of the brain are working and they can stimulate memory or even hallucinations by poking at your brain but they cannot tell you how thoughts pass through the magical boundary between their source (which is immaterial) and their outer expression into words, emotions or movements. Where and how do new ideas (the kind never before thought of by you and not mere re-hashes of past thoughts or experiences) get created?

A computer can store images (including words which are symbols of thought) in binary form but it cannot produce anything new except by building on its existing database. Until computers become super-duper, they are clumsy in creating anything more than a mathematical or merely logical construct. (This is the "missing-link" of conscious, self-awareness that I describe in a recent, and extremely popular, blog article, "Chappie: Artificial Intelligence and Consciousness".)

If a brain operates more like a computer (as we tend to believe it does), then how could it compose a poem? Or a symphony? Yes, by practicing poetry or music one can develop one's skills but many people are taught specific skills but never become great artists? Nor can an examination of the genes or DNA ever reveal the hidden seed of an idea.

Notwithstanding the volume of brain and meditation research happening these days, I aver that scientists will never discover "the missing link:" that mysterious, invisible non-substance called consciousness: the stuff of "good ideas." The brain may be a wonderful mechanism to allow for the logical expression of ideas or the dramatic expression of feelings, but it will never be found to be the originator.

I suppose there must be studies on people who have lots of good ideas and others who have few. If so, I've never stumbled upon them. But, ok, fine some people have good ideas. Maybe they eat a lot of fish, according to P.G. Wodehouse, like his butler, Jeeves. That's great but it doesn't answer my question: where do ideas actually come from? Surely not from fish!

Is not my question perhaps the same question as "What produced the BIG BANG" or the question "Why does anything exist at all? (See the book by Jim Holt, "Why Does the World Exist.")

Just as ideas seem to come out of nowhere, though not necessarily randomly, so too the universe seems to have come out of nowhere. With fresh ideas we might need to "sleep on it," go on vacation, go for a run or take a shower. In the creative process, there's a very definite pattern of emptiness alternating with fullness; or silence and then sound; dark and light. In energizing this pattern, there is no singular human activity better than meditation to stimulate a person's consistent creativity.

As to whether there really is, anywhere, "nothing," well, science itself, and meditators themselves, know that the silence is pregnant with pause; filled with latent potentiality. The silence of the deeper states of meditation are innately creative, powerful, rich and very full states of mind. The only difference is that in silence there is no outer expression: thoughts have not yet taken shape or form.

In the Ananda Festival of Light Sunday Service (written by Ananda's founder, Swami Kriyananda), there's song called "Thunder of AUM." It's opening line, echoing Genesis, is "Out of the silence came the song of creation, out of the darkness came the light."

While this sphere of nothing can produce random ideas of no personal relevance to the person receiving them, like my 3-part blog series on "If I were president," humanity's great ideas (in science, religion, art, or politics) are tailored made for the people destined to manifest them. A person who indulges daily in daydreams or fantasies can create his own world but it is entirely subjective because no attempt is made, or possible, to bring that world into manifestation. The ideas are still-born and I would wager that the person is not better off, meaning better balanced and mature, for the indulgence.

Setting aside random or irrelevant ideas and those that preoccupy minds with nothing better to do, important ideas are very personal and very relevant to our needs or our life's destiny.

Since personally meaningful ideas appear in response to our personal needs, then the BIG idea of creating a universe must also be a response to a universal or BIG need. Since ideas cannot exist apart from consciousness, so of course consciousness had the BIG IDEA and perhaps, then, the BIG NEED. (I would propose that the term "need" can include a creative impulse; a desire; an interest.) A further statement is that ideas (thought) cannot exist apart from self-awareness. Self-awareness may be intense or dim, but in the realm of ideas it is always present. This can only be proved to oneself, it cannot be proven by logic or by observation from outside. Consciousness and self-awareness are one and the same and cannot be proved: only its material manifestations, like words, emotions, actions, brain waves, etc. can be observed.

Since neither science nor philosophy can answer the question "Why does anything exist at all," I will offer to them a solution to their dilemma (at no additional cost): the universe exists because it was intended to. "Someone" put out the intention and BANG, IT WAS SO! I challenge them to do me one better. We cannot responsibly say the universe doesn't exist, so we must accept that it does. We might speculate that it came into being through some random force but our experience of life, including the creative process in ourselves, suggests otherwise. Why not take the evidence where it leads and accept it as the best evidence we have at this time? Maybe that's as far as our logic and reason can take us.

In my popular blog article "Chappie: Artificial Intelligence and Consciousness" I posited the self-evident but intellectually unprovable statement that self-awareness is what distinguishes consciousness from artificial intelligence. This "missing link" as I called it in that article, is what I am discussing here in this article. And here I am positing an ages old precept that consciousness preexists and is the intention that gives rise to ideas, self-awareness, energy and matter.

This is where my favorite topic and hidden agenda surfaces: meditation! Yup, SURPRISE! (You didn't see that coming, did you?) I further posit that there is a link between "why creation exists at all," creativity, self-awareness and why meditation enhances creativity.

Imagine now building something really big: yeah, ok, say, a universe. Its gonna take some time. "Rome wasn't built in a day," we've been told. If this universe is going to be built piece by piece, as material things are, you won't see it in all its splendor until it's finished. As it is being built it looks pretty lumpy, the job site is messy, and its ultimate beauty and functionality is postponed until the end. Not only does "someone" need to intend it; and then guide its construction, but, in the end, "someone" needs to see and acknowledge it. Otherwise..........we cannot know if it actually exists!

So it wouldn't be surprising that the Consciousness that lit the fuse of the BIG BANG had to wait awhile until the construction project (i.e., evolution) produced an "independent" witness. On this planet, the only one we know, I understand it's taken over 4 billion years and that human existence is fairly recent. So if it is true that Consciousness produced the universe and our planet, it had to take some time before anyone (i.e. we humans) came into existence, began getting curious, even suspicious, and then began asking these questions! Objective and subjective, though separable in logical, linear time and processing, are inextricably linked. Science has said as much when, much to its shock and horror, it concluded that the observer is part of the observation and the observed.

Given the nature of the enormous length and complexity of the evolutionary process we would be forgiven in imaging that the process produced us randomly. I mean, gee, at first glance, popping out of the egg shell, so to speak, who can blame us from looking around and imaging the egg produced us? We wake up and the first thing we see.........are monkeys, or fishes, or whatever. While logical, it isn't necessary so! Our vision is, as yet, myopic! Limited to mere logic, we mistake the means for the cause. (Take THAT, Richard Dawkins!)

Notwithstanding the limitations of the "religion" of science, there is overwhelming historical evidence that humans, from the beginning of our existence, have intuited that our self-awareness holds the key to a sacred mystery of sorts: that it hints to us in a wordless communication that our real "parent" is not the material world that only appears to have produced us. Rocks and trees don't seem to possess this gift; animals seem to have some self-awareness, but most only fleetingly. There's something about the human experience, a gift of intuitive sight, that has continually insisted to our minds that we possess something decidedly "different" from planets, rocks and trees and that this awareness is special. It is sacred. And, yes, it is a mystery, even to us. We give it many names and no name but we cannot rid ourselves of its haunting shadow which follows us wherever we go. To paraphrase Mark Twain, "Travel is a fool's paradise because wherever I go, there I am.

Creativity is the outward moving expression of self-awareness. Creativity is the natural impulse of self-awareness. It bestows upon humanity great gifts and powers: and the obligation to use them wisely. But ideas are difficult, in fact, impossible, to bully into being subservient to our demands. Some call creativity the "Muses," godlike, in other words. Thus holy men, shamans, healers, and in more modern times artists, geniuses, inventors, great scientists, super heroes in sports and stage, and even tech wizards are all said to possess some of this "magic," this special gift, this mojo.

The impulse of modern consciousness is to demystify that which formerly was held in awe and surrounded by superstition and mystery and otherwise considered occult. Meditation, too, and yoga are being secularized as the left-brain of human consciousness continues to achieve ascendancy to the point of being our modern "religion" and language.  We, like the disciples of Jesus, are impatient with parables, stories, myths and rituals.

It is no coincidence that the spiritual genius of Paramhansa Yogananda, whose life story, "Autobiography of a Yogi," has become a classic in our times, titled his first book, "The Science of Religion." [Being a wayshower from the past to the future, he, yet, retained a deep and abiding devotion and religious expression in his poetry, prayers, and personal expression. As Jesus said of himself, he came not to destroy but to "fulfill" the prophets of the past, so too Yogananda had no intentions of throwing the "baby out with the bath water." Nonetheless, he gave expression, and therefore spiritual authority and credibility to the emerging efforts to use our intellects to understand spirituality and to see the underlying connection between the material world, through the eyes of science, and the subtler and higher world of consciousness out of which all things emerge. Throughout his miracle-saturated life story, are testimonies from science pointing to subtler laws and forces.]

The down side of the new ascendency of the intellect (see past ages such as the classical age of Greece) is its hubris that substitutes a well-honed definition for the reality it merely describes. The intellect believes that what it observes and defines, it can control. The history of 20th century world wars and many lesser wars, and the pernicious rise of violence and innumerable addictions, disproves and mocks the power of the intellect. What Yogananda predicted (or, at least, advised) was a cooperative harmonious blending of East and West, of intellect and heart, science and spirituality: in short, a model of cooperation based on the acceptance of the inextricable interrelationship of all things material and spiritual. We are One: whether averred through the science of ecology, astrophysics, quantum physics, chemistry and biology or through the science of the intuitive, meditative mind.

Meditation is the "science of mind." It hones the tool by which, using our brain, body and nervous system, we can peer into a realm which only consciousness can perceive by direct, intuitive contemplation. While the highly evolved brain and nervous system of humans gives to us this gift, the lower cannot possess or control the higher for consciousness transcends the material realm.

Thus the brain and body fulfill a dual function: both a vehicle to the outer space of Mind but also a container and engine which must be ejected and left behind, at least while we are traveling through the space-mind of consciousness. This is where the science of yoga (meditation) enters human history and the evolution of human consciousness.

[But save this for another blog.The specific psycho-physiological methodology of yoga science is based on controlling, slowing the heart and breath rate. Research into meditation only uses subjects who are but amateurs in the science of breath. A yogi who can enter the breathless state at will for prolonged periods would be needed to take the research into higher realms.]

For individual creative acts, it's not so difficult to trace the appearance of an idea into its manifestation. For example, if I have the idea to build a dog house (for when I get into trouble next), I can go out and buy materials and make it. But on a cosmic level and relating to the BIG BANG, we are faced with the difficult challenge of tracing the appearance of energy (then matter) from its proposed source in intention (consciousness). Can consciousness create matter by force of thought alone? Science can prove to us the interchangeability of matter and energy but has yet to reveal the "missing link" of consciousness.

I aver that consciousness itself cannot be directly observed. It can only be inferred by its effects: brain waves, words, emotions or actions.

But, the human experience of creativity provides a clue, for it is an echo of the cosmic creation. We see that a person who is filled with vitality and confidence regarding his destiny, can change the world; can pass through a hail of bullets, unharmed. The achievements of humans down through the ages testify to a power (a conscious, intelligent, guiding force) that defies and transcends all limitations. Human creativity, including self-sacrifice for a greater good, is, itself, the most enduring witness of a greater Consciousness which some people tap more readily and more powerfully and more visibly than most.

Nonetheless, our left-brain culture seeks, nay, demands, to know HOW thought produces matter through the medium of energy. The ancients counsel us to turn to the human experience of dreaming. I had a powerful dream last night in answer to this question. I went to be bed far later than usual as I composed this article. I struggled mentally to put into words something useful in regard to this elemental and all-important mystery of life. "Who am I to even attempt this," I thought as I fell instantly to sleep.

Immediately I began to dream. My dream took me through the experience that I purchased a small airplane. In it were my children, then very small. As I attempted to land on the patch of ground in front of my boyhood home (250 Lighthouse Avenue, Pacific Grove, CA), a wing broke off. Fortunately we came to a stop more or less instantly and no one was hurt. But I was bummed out for having broken my new plane. Then I awoke and laughed at my disappointment, for it was only a was only a dream.

This is the key, we are told. As in a dream, the events are as real as events during the conscious, waking state, so, too, is the universe but a dream in the mind of the Creator. Just as the dream persons act, talk, make war or peace and do fantastical things, so too in this great dream the players appear to act independently. Those dream persons certainly seem to have free will and the power of independent and unpredictable action. In the dream experience there is no hint otherwise but yet when we awake we realize that it "but" a dream.

What we deem to be real, whether our thoughts and emotions, or the world around us, can only be so to the extent that we deem it so. Is our cup of life half full or half empty? But we, as individuals in this great dream, are not the originators of the great dream. We are players in the theatre of the cosmic mind. If we play our part poorly, we will, being though a dream, suffer. We must strive to play our part well. We have no choice in the matter. There is no option to leave the stage until we have accomplished our part, for the drama of creation, though only a drama, must go on. Our only choice is to play wisely or foolishly. Humans know this instinctively and we express it in our statements about the law of survival and procreation. We recognize that we must strive, struggle, create and move forward. We view suicide as a defeat for the human spirit.

If we play our part well, we can, in time, leave the drama for good. Or, so we are promised by those who demonstrate their power over the dream sequence. Those who can stop the storm of breath at will; who can raise the living from dead; who can heal the sick; etc.; These are the super-heroes the Masters of their own destiny, co-creators of the cosmic dream. The philosophers and theologians engage in mere speculation, not gnosis, as the great ones do.

The rest of us are working on wresting the power of changing our destiny from Destiny. The trick is that we cannot have it for ourselves because the power that we seek is greater than our littleness. It cannot be made to obey us; we, instead, must learn to obey (or cooperate and attune ourselves) to it. It is our friend, lover, mother and father and means us no harm and offers us all good. But it is an exacting task manager. This deep lesson takes time and effort to learn. Those who have conquered fate (i.e., the law of karma) (O Death, where is thy sting?) come again and again to show us the way.

How is a dream created? We don't really know, beyond observing brain activity and knowing from personal experience that we do, in fact, dream! At night our dreams subside into the dreamless state that gives us true rest and true peace. As I write this blog or write a poem, the thoughts pour out of me like oil from a barrel. I have to intend and want to write this for the ideas to begin to flow. I do not need to know where the writing will take me or how it will unfold. I imitate, then, the Creator by participating in the creative process. All creativity brings the added benefit of joy.

It is intention that begins the movement of thoughts and ideas in the mind and in the Cosmic Mind. This stimulates the flow of creativity. To write, don't stare at a blank screen. Have a seed idea and begin composing. Action, movement, energy, you see, brings the dream world into manifestation. As with you and I, so with the creation and Creator. We are reflections one of the Other.

This will never be proved by the haughty intellect in people like Richard Dawkins. Thoughts have no limits in time or space; they cannot be commanded, though they can be teased and invited to flow. I can no more be the next Einstein by sheer will power, than I can command the forces of nature. Not yet, anyway, if and until I can align my destiny with the Creative Mind.

I can't prove to you that I am not a robot or that I even exist. I can't prove that I am not being manipulated by the great Matrix manager somewhere. But I am convinced "I" exist by my own self-evident, self-awareness. When I gaze at a great painting or up into the starry skies and I feel the presence of God (use any name or no name as you feel), you can say I am imagining that and I can't disprove you but neither can you disprove my conviction that I feel alive and connected, aware of a greater reality than my own.

To have more and fresher ideas; to be more creative; to have more connection, more joy in your life, rise above petty preoccupations and "give yourself" without reservation to the conviction that Life itself exists, sustains, endures, is good, and is loving and you will not be disappointed. It is a paradox that this God-ness, this good-ness exists in spite of and in the face of suffering. Grief and this existential joy can, in fact, co-exist, though the former is temporary and cannot endure long in the presence of the latter which is always there beneath the surface of our mind.

Joy in giving; joy in living; joy in being; joy in transcending littleness: joy is the proof of God, of goodness, of love and life. Consciousness, when pure, IS joy; it is its own reward. Between thoughts, pause and BE. With practice, you will be free. Meditation is the fastest way to BE-ing, without condition. Be your own BIG BANG.

Reflections of this innate joy of Life are found in the Golden Rule; in just laws and wise social mores; in the happiness of giving and sharing. We find it in the peace and pleasure of nature and in the silent messages written in the heavens above. For we are a part of all that is.

The creative life is a one BIG BANG! Where does it end? Yogananda, when asked this question, said simply: it ends in ENDLESSNESS, in Infinite Consciousness: ever existing, ever conscious, ever-new JOY: Satchidanandam.

Om Shanti, Amen!

Nayaswami Hriman