Ben Goertzel's Strange Fiction & Art

The Journey of the Void

Ben Goertzel

- Preface -
1. Beginning
2. Complexity
3. Mind
4. Reality
5. Art
6. Hierarchy
7. History
- Summary -


Who am I, a mere conglomeration of particles --
an organism flashing in and out of existence --
a web of learned and inherited patterns --
to explain the universe as a whole?

And yet,
this is a task for which we are all equally unqualified

We each have only a partial view,
strive as we might to encompass
that which goes beyond
our finite bounds

We can only sense what goes beyond,
without grasping the details of it

And the feeling of understanding everything
is neither correct nor incorrect --
There is no external standard of "truth"
that one might compare it to

Years of thinking and non-thinking
have gone into these insights --
I have approached the world from perspectives
of philosophy, science, spirituality;
weaving different views together,
piercing them with my inner eye

And now I offer you these insights
as I might offer you a chocolate chip cookie
from a particularly tasty batch
I had concocted with my young sons

I have written a great deal before this --
expressing my insights in the language of science,
philosophy, fiction
One needs to have some framework to present things in
Even the Buddha's wordless transmission of knowledge
took place in a context:
meetings, bodies, eyes
But the framework can be minimized
This brief work represents an attempt
to give some of my insights into the world
in the simplest way possible --
stripped of references, proofs, arguments --
nowhere near as pure as in my mind,
to be sure,
but as purely as I know how to recreate them
in the world of words


Why does being obscure itself from itself?
This is the unanswerable question.
This is the emptiness at the core of the universe --
the emptiness that is a fullness,
that is an indescribable pearl,
a spark of sexual abandon
or a simmering coal of hate --
depending on one's perspective

The veil that being throws in front of itself
is called in Sanskrit Maya

In English the closest word we have is "reality" --
"reality" in its most inclusive sense --
objective or subjective reality --
the totality of patterned existence --

Beginning of Beginning

In the beginning, before there were beginnings,
there was nothing, not even a beginning

Then there came to be a beginning

This is the veil of Maya

Call it before versus after,
inside versus outside,
here versus there

The important thing is the "versus"

Once the very first opposition came,
in an inexplicable action
which was the birth of all action,
then endless oppositions followed

Of this endless flow of oppositions --
this primal chaos of forms and motions,
random yet yielding bursts of structure --
we who oppose ourselves and each other so often
are merely one result

In the Beginning, What?

The Christian belief that the universe began with a word
is just as absurd as the physicists' belief
that the universe began with an explosion.

Words and explosions are compound constructions;
intersections of multiple perspectives.

To assume a word made of syllables and phonemes,
or an explosion of energy made of particles with mass, charge, location,
is to assume far, far too much

The big step came before such things:
the first time the primal void
distinguished itself from itself

Can we say this was an error?
to distinguish itself from itself,
when it really is the same as itself?

It was an error of a very special sort.

Imagine a magician who casts a spell on a city,
so that whomever says the words "I am dying" will die
It is thus that the void blossomed forth into form.
Distinguishing itself from itself,
it became different from itself,
so that its action
before all action
became not just an error
but the beginning of truth

In the Beginning

If we are going to construct
mythological stories of origins
we must begin at the correct place:
we must begin with the void

Void is being
before there was anything but being

In the beginning,
there was the void --

this is paradoxical,
because void, being void,
is "before" all concepts of order and beginning,
but we can say it anyway

In the beginning
there was the void --
we read this with two parts of the mind,
which are really only one part.
One part that misunderstands it,
weaving it into a network of concepts
that merely obscure it, as a veil;
another that grasps onto it directly,
because it is the void itself,
and it is always beginning
and ending
and existing without begin or end

Genesis Retold

In the beginning,
there was the void.

We can call it one
or we can call it nothing --
it had no qualities whatsoever,
not even the one described by this sentence

Then the void became aware of its nothingness.
And now there were two things:
void, and awareness of void.

Then the void became aware that it was aware,
and that it had rent itself by its awareness.
And so there were four things:
awareness of void,
awareness of awareness of void,
and an image of void
as it had been before the advent of awareness.

Awareness multiplied incessantly --
the One became the Two,
the Two became the Four,
the Four became the Eight,
the Eight became the Sixteen,
and so on, and so on.

Within this seething multitude of forms,
forms combined to form new forms.
Forms annihilated one another,
Forms mutated,
Forms linked together in networks of co-creation.

Some forms recurred more often than others.
These forms, the Archetypes,
were the strongest forms,
the ones most able to persist
in the timeless, spaceless primordial soup,
the proto-universe of constant interaction, co-creation, annihilation, mutation.

Archetypal forms acted on others to produce more complex archetypal forms,
building up archetypes upon archetypes in amazing towers

And eventually the archetypal forms
reached a level of complexity
sufficient to mirror the universe of forms itself.

The process of form creation and archetype creation
became an archetype itself -- the archetype of consciousness.

Thus consciousness was born out of primal awareness,
which was born out of the yet more primal void.

Thus cosmos created consciousness in its own image

And so it does every day.

And consciousness,
creating forms within the cosmos,
returns the favor.



What seems at first to be freedom,
is actually constrained:
constrained not from outside,
but from within.

Nothing, but nothing,
can ever really be free:
the absence of external constraints
merely allows internal constraints to take over;
and internal constraints can be far more restrictive.


There seems to be freedom
in new beginnings,
but this is a limited view

The importance of beginnings decreases
as one's focus grows wider

When two lovers meet,
it doesn't matter so much who touches who first,
or who gets touched where in what order;
the process goes on, each time with its own rhythm;
and the structure of the drama
is always in essence the same

In a complex system,
the beginning determines the details of what follows,
but the overall pattern of what follows
will be much the same
for virtually any starting-point

This is called "attraction"
but it is actually subtler than that
The habitual patterns of the system
do not reach back in time and pull various beginnings to them
Each beginning reaches inside itself,
each part of the growing system
touching each other part,
until the habitual patterns emerge

Each touch contains within itself
the ecstatic consummation


Those who set out to nonconform
end up conforming to a different standard
than the one they set out to escape

This is because they are pushed
by their own internal dynamics
toward certain attractors of being

Having freed themselves from external constraints,
their internal constraints push all the more strongly

To avoid conformity
one must not set out to avoid conformity,
one must neither set out to conform


Wisdom consists
neither in seeking freedom,
nor in following rules,
but in the artful combination of the two

The wise person chooses constraints
that encourage the maximum development
of beautiful form

Wisdom is knowing when to make rules,
when to break them --
and when to accept the rules of others,
for no one can build a whole universe by themselves --
reality is fundamentally social in nature

Wisdom is complexity
accepting the complexity
of the universe it is embedded in


Knowledge is perception of truth;
but perceiving is largely creating

As the eye and the visual cortex
build a face from disparate luminal stimuli,
so the mind builds a fact or idea
from disparate teeming patterns

The internal constraints
of the system of stimuli --
the patterns by which they organize themselves into structures --
are just as crucial as the stimuli in themselves


The wonder of a complex system
is that the overall structure of the system
emerges directly from the way the parts interact --
the particular arrangement and selection of parts
being not so important

Attraction is the triumph of pattern over space:
complex systems are those in which the connection
between interpenetration -- interaction --
and emergent structure
survives the imposition of spacetime

Complexity is the peeking-out of primal chaos
through the veil of spacetime
spacetime being one of the means that void uses
to obscure itself from itself

A complex system supports a variety of perspectives
Each eye that beholds it sees something different
It has a diversity that eludes categorizations
In this way, is it not like the void?

The development of complexity is a miraculous appearance --
the bursting-forth of structure out of what appeared not to have any,
what seemed just a tangle of interconnections
Is this not like the birth of form from the void?



Why is there pain in the cosmos?
Because the void distinguished itself
from itself

Pain is in the human organism
as a signalling system
to help ensure the organisms's survival

The organism wishes to survive,
it clings to the structure that its cells
are arranged in,
the organization that makes it an "organism";
it does not want to integrate itself
with its surroundings

But what is the need for this distinction?
The organism and its surroundings
are really the same thing,
different arrangements
of the same particles, atoms and molecules

Pain is defined
as the internal response of an organism
when its boundary is threatened

It is the cost
of the maintenance of boundaries

Chronic Pain

We can sympathize with momentary pain
but chronic pain is another story.
When another person's pain lasts much longer
than our emotional reaction,
what we feel is frustration
as much as compassion.
We may even hold the pain against the person,
as if it were an offense against us committed by them.

A person in chronic pain is a symbol of all existence
They are the aspect of existence
that we most desire to hide from ourselves,
held out for prominent, naked view
We don't want to realize that the maintenance of our organism
is the source of chronic pain;
we want to think we get our boundedness for free,
though of course we can never really believe this thoroughly

A person in fleeting pain
is a symbol of the rhythm of uniting and dividing --
of the pain of being coming and going away;
and this is something we are quite happy to focus on,
especially the going away


Good feelings come from increase:
from the strengthening of a boundary,
the emergence of a boundary,
or the bursting-out of the void over a boundary

Bad feelings come from decrease:
from the weakening of a boundary,
the destruction of a boundary,
or the weakening of the void by the emergence of a boundary

Good and bad feelings come together:
as the boundary feels pleasure,
the void feels pain;
as the boundary feels pain,
the void feels pleasure

It may seem a needless projection
to speak of the void feeling pain --
But look in the center of your own feelings
and what is it that you find?


Universal compassion
is more basic than feelings --
there is no systematic way to elicit it;
it has too much of the primal random in it

It must explode out of nowhere,
because it is itself a no-where,
a no-how,

It sees
that boundaries are void as well;
sees the pain inside pleasure
and the pleasure in pain

And seeing this,
it grasps the art
of pulling us back toward void:
creating boundaries when necessary,
accepting boundaries when necessary,
destroying boundaries when appropriate

All this in a simple
intuitive motion

The Void Moving Back to the Void

Is compassion the void
attempting to compensate for its initial error?

No, this is projecting too much
Compassion is the void moving back to the void

But then is it compassion
to murder everybody on earth?
Does this not bring us closer
to nothingness?

Nothingness is not the absence of life
Nothingness is alive in its own way
There is a powerful spark of nothingness
in the center of the human mind,
which needs to be awakened
and super-energized
rather than extinguished

But what does "awakened and super-energized" mean,
in this context?

Nothing whatsoever.


The solipsist is just one small step
from universal compassion

He has understood the aloneness
of void inside a boundary

What remains to be understood
is that there is only one void,
and only one boundary,
and that it is the void itself that is the boundary

The aloneness of the solipsist
is precisely the aloneness of the void
that has rent itself from itself

That this aloneness
does not recognize itself
is just another consequence
of primal separation


What holds an idea together
is its relationship to other ideas.
What holds a mind together
is its relationship to other minds
What holds a particle together
is its relationship to other particles

If one dissolves this "glue" of relationship,
one finds the void --
But what is this glue,
but the void?


In every statement there is a deeper meaning,
to be found by viewing each idea
as a network of other ideas.

But then these other ideas may be viewed
as networks of yet other ideas --
and so forth.

Searching through the network of ideas changes the network;
it brings to mind new connections
the network must incorporate --
this is a process which can never be completed.

It is for this reason that a definite statement
is never an accurate portrayal of itself.
Concreteness is always dishonest.

This is the weaving of the web of pattern,
the veil of Maya

But what is doing this searching
that weaves the web of pattern?
And what is it searching for?

It is the void,
and it is searching for itself;
each time it has found itself and does not recognize itself
it creates another strand in the illusory tapestry


The physicists,
with their weak and strong nuclear forces,
are not quite on the right track.
The fundamental force which holds the world together is --

Or is it blindness?

Does the void not see itself,
as it searches through itself,
or does it not wish to admit to itself that it sees?

The distinction is meaningless --
"dishonesty" and "blindness"
are projections of a complex order
onto something much simpler

The essential fact is that it could see
but does not see

Look into yourself:
is this not the essential fact
of your own existence?

Spiritual Language

But where have we gotten to?
If we have not gotten everywhere,
we have gotten nowhere.

Putting deep spiritual insight into words
is like climbing an infinite vertical wall.
No matter how much partial progress
one might make, it counts for nothing.

But if this is true,
we must abandon the quest
to express insights in language.
Why even bother?
Language is suited for social and physical purposes,
not for touching the void
Just let a tacit understanding be all.

But how can we say that any part of the void
is not suited for touching itself?

But language is hungry;
it always consumes part of your thought.

And once it has consumed all,
there will be nothing left,
and will we be any worse off then?


Thought is the process
of destroying insights
by wrapping them up in boundaries

A poor thinker is one who is adept
at destroying weak insights
A good thinker is one who is adept
at destroying strong insights
A great thinker is one who is adept
at destroying powerful, mighty insights

Yes -- but the best thinker of all is the one
who is destroyed by his insights

Knowing How to Die

Beginnings and endings are different
only from the perspective of Maya

The movement from void to being
is the same as the movement from being to void,
until the distinction known as "time"
emerges to say they are different

We organisms need to ask ourselves:
Is the secret knowing how to live --
or knowing how to die?

Inbetween two moments of awareness,
we die for an undefined period of time.

Then this infinity seems to vanish
as our mind reconstructs itself.

Dying pervades our living on every time scale;
the stream of consciousness is a fractal
formed of life and death.

If we could understand this at each moment,
the death of our bodies would not be something unusual.

The birth and death of the universe
is reenacted every moment
in the arena of our brains


The realist mind could never survive
without the regular dose of hyperreality
provided by sleep --

Sweet cessation of thought and self!

Sleep melts through the boundaries.

The transition from sleep to wakefulness and back again
is a recapitulation
of the movement from void to structure to void again,
through error and universal compassion

If we had no cycle of night and day,
the mind would need another means of self-escape


But what are all these proclamations?
Are they merely words strung out on the page,
or do they have truth in them?

"Truth? What is truth?"

Truth is whatever brings us closer to void --
truth is defined by movement

These words are constructed
to provoke truthful movements
but sometimes may have the opposite effect

There is nothing absolute or determinate
about the universe:
what appears definitely real or truthful
is actually a statistical emergence
from a vast soup of random fluctuations

The primal chaos must not be ignored

As parts of the primal chaos,
we are responsible for helping it
to move back toward unity,
aware that "movement" in itself
is part of the division we seek to cure

More Truth

I know this friendly little dragonfly;
she lives in a field next to my house.
She flutters around my head,
settling on my shoulder for a while,
then zips away again.

When I try to catch her, I can't,
but if I sit a while
in the middle of the field
she usually comes to me.

But yet I am never entirely sure
if it's her or one of her relatives.

You want me to tell you that what you need is a flyswatter.
But it doesn't really matter to me anyway.
If you want advice, ask a mosquito.

So is it the fact that I notice my dragonfly has come,
instead of a mosquito,
that is the crucial problem?

I should just be sitting,
I shouldn't be noticing at all.

I shouldn't be shoulding and shouldn'ting.

Archetypes of Mind

Mind is a flux,
a primal chaos of forms
emanated out of the void
by mistake --
mistake, or creativity --
on a level where "mistake" and "creativity"
have absolutely no meaning

The forms act on each other
and seize into attractors --
Mind is complex, to be sure

Mind locks into hierarchical structure --
layers upon layers --
percepts building into concepts,
which build into more abstract concepts,
and so on, and so on
and on

Mind locks into association --
each form spreading into the forms that relate to it
in space or time contexts

Hierarchy and association lock together
to form a structure surprisingly stiff --
each form in the mind knows what it's associated with,
what general categories it falls under,
what things are special cases of it

Evolving for better association
and classification,
the mind becomes an intelligent machine,
maintaining its boundaries by building complex systems
in complex environments
It grows a chaos and diversity
almost reminiscent of the primal void

Mind is a fantastic example
of the void attempting to return to itself

Mind is a failure,
of course

Everything is in the pattern of arrangement --
the self-organizing pattern of arrangement
Einstein's brain
and the brain of the average McDonald's clerk
contain essentially the same cells
It is the arrangement of connections between cells
that is different,
the arrangement of neurotransmitters
and electrical charges

All the atoms are made of the same particles,
organized differently
All particles are made of the same subparticles,
organized differently
And particles are defined by their symmetry groups --
patterns of arrangement

Intelligence too is a mathematical form

But it is not just any form:
it is a form that mirrors the overall structure and dynamics
of the universe
Mind like cosmos is a fractal hierarchy of forms within forms within forms,
interacting with each other,
giving rise to other forms

The associative and hierarchical archetypes
give rise to the archetype of Self:
the image of the mind within the mind

By mirroring itself within itself,
mind does what void does in creating mind

Each person's mind is one of void's many selves

The universe is an empty mind
with multiple personalities

If the personalities could be unified,
they would all suddenly cease to exist

The unification of the personalities
is within each of us,
at the center and circumference
of the sphere



One mind cannot create a world itself --
reality requires statistics

Reality is the fuzzy combination
of two fuzzy categories:
what seems to exist,
and what others regard to exist

What seems to one mind to exist is not a reality --
it lacks the required persistence --
it adapts too quickly to what is wanted or feared.
There is not enough discipline here
to lead to the emergence of interesting structures

At best a single mind can build a dream world;
but a dream world soon becomes sterile
without the forms of a real world to pillage

It is the difficulty in ascertaining
what others recognize to exist
that is the important thing.
This difficulty means that the fundaments of reality
will not be updated
whenever the urge arises in Mind
It means that reality is obstreperous,
hard to manage,
solid, hard --
the mind says "Go!" and it won't go,
because the majority of the minds that contribute to its being
have not urged it to go

is the essence of reality

Complexity of Reality

Reality is complex:
the contents of the individual minds
that build a reality
are not as important
as the structures that inevitably emerge
from the combination of minds to form realities

Space and time are among these emergent structures --
structures that peek out through the boundaries
imposed by individual minds,
leaping straight from the parts of minds
to the social super-system
encompassing minds

Complex systems within reality are primal chaos
nbsp;peeking out from the veil of space and time;
space and time and other emergent realities are primal chaos
peeking out from the veil of individual minds

Spacetime is to mind, as
Complex systems are to spacetime
Yet minds are themselves complex systems
The loop is wonderfully tangled

The boundaries of mind grow soft
to permit the collective birth of spacetime;
the boundaries of spacetime grow soft
to permit the birth of complexity;
the complexity of brain
gives rise to the boundaries of mind

The creativity of void
in its journey toward its origins
is more tangled than our brains can understand

Wisdom and Space

Wisdom is understanding the freedom and constraint
of complex systems --
the way a system's constraint of itself
allows it to escape the constraint of space;
the way reality's constraint of itself
allows it to escape the constraint of mind

And the wise mind itself,
by constraining itself in creative ways,
is able to move beyond its particular position
in spacetime
is able to shift reality beyond its particular position
in minds

Space and Time

The universe is a self-creating system;
each part interpenetrates into other parts
and emerges out of other parts.

Each phenomenon has a very short lifespan
and only exists persistently if it is continually re-created
by other phenomena.

Primal time is the re-creation of phenomena
by other phenomena --
this is the time in the center of the mind,
and is different from the time measured by physicists

Primal time is the futile attempt to resolve the contradiction
induced by the original error
in which the void perceived itself,
instead of simply being

Primal space is simply distinctness,
absence of interpenetration --
the fact that two things are separate
as they act on each other
to beat out the pulse of primal time

Time comes before space,
for one can have primal time
in a universe of One item --
one spark of being changing itself
into another, and another

Primal space is the division of this One item
into parts

The first boundary creates primal time;
it creates the series
not void
not void
not void

The second boundary creates primal space:
it creates the series
void which is not void
not void which is not void
void which is not void
not void which is not void
void which is not void
not void which is not void

Physical space is a lattice that emerges
as a subset of primal space;
physical time arises
together with physical space

The core of the mind knows primal time and space;
the body is constantly stretched between
primal and physical spacetime,
between introspective and social reality
This is the second source of our continual disorientation --
a consequence of the first source,
which is the gap that void has made
between itself and itself



Music does not exactly "represent" emotion.
It is a purer form of emotion
than emotion itself.

Music is an educational tool:
it teaches one how to feel.

But what is it about a melody that makes it sound good,
that makes it resonate with emotion?

What is it about the world that makes it appear solid and

The way a piece of music holds together
is the way a mind, reality, family
or chair holds together:
the parts interpenetrate into each other
each one supporting the others' existence
and like magic there comes
the emergent structure of the whole

Music builds structure out of time;
it hypnotizes the parts of the brain
that build structure out of time

By gripping our temporal-constructive sense,
it leads us through beginnings and endings;
through the growth and demise
of the cosmos
of our feelings
of beginning and ending themselves

Feelings are always increase or decrease
of one thing or the other;
music gives us the patterns of increase or decrease
without the one thing or the other --
not without substance entirely,
but with a substance that is detached from our ordinary world,
and so appears both substantial
and insubstantial at the same time

If music had survival value
it would lose its magical value;
its timbres and pitches would lose their
being yanked into the world of the real

It is no surprise
that the most alienated parts of our culture
are so obsessed with music

Art, the Game of the Wise

But why should I bother to produce works of art?
The world itself is a far greater work of art
than any of my own creations could be!

But are your body and mind,
and your work of art,
not part of the world as well?

And part of your own part
in the endless dance of world-creation?

But why should I want to make the world more beautiful,
when the whole damn thing is a sham?
What I want to do
is bring the whole web of illusion
crashing down.

But "crashing down" is as much an illusion
as anything else

So ... the mystery is that doing something
with the right attitude
brings us closer to and not further from void

Meaning that boundaries have a rhythm and a pattern --
to eliminate some boundaries,
one may have to create others

This is the game of the wise?


The paradox of love
is that two can be together and separate
at the same time.

Or is it that two can move closer together
and move further apart at the same time?

Love based on furious, unrestrained unity
is bound to have a short duration

Lasting love is the creation of unity
via the respect of separateness

It is the destruction of boundaries
via the artful creation
and obedience of boundaries

Is it part of the game of the wise?


A work of art that is at once
absolutely obscure
and perfectly clear --
this is the ultimate creative achievement.
Simultaneous acceptance and transcendence
of the everyday.

The purpose of art,
even so-called "realistic" art,
is never to reproduce reality.
It is to create a world
in which the artist's intuitions
match reality

The universe itself
is absolutely obscure
and perfectly clear --
impossible and obvious to understand

To grasp the impossibility
is to grasp the obviousness
To grasp the obviousness
is to grasp the impossibility

Creating an obscure and clear world
in tune with his own intuitions,
the artist relaxes his own boundaries,
and relaxes the boundaries of the like-minded people
who appreciate his work

For in appreciating a work of art,
the mind sees a world that is much like the real world,
but is patently illusory --
and this awakens the mind
to the illusory nature of the "reality"

A great work of art is a powerful solvent,
dissolving boundaries in the mind of the recipient,
creating and supporting boundaries when necessary --
this is the root of the beautiful

A mediocre work of art may be a solvent for its creator,
but to the recipient
is mostly just another collection of boundaries

The difference lies in how much of the clarity/obscurity of the work
draws on the archetypes of the social mind

The personal patterns of the creator
and the surface-level patterns of society
must be used only in service of the emergent archetypes of reality

The great artist brews a solvent
capable of loosening the grips of these archetypes on the mind

Loosening the grips of personal patterns on the mind
can only be done by the mind itself --
but there is a momentum in the universe:
the loosening of archetypal boundaries
can lead to the loosening of personal boundaries as well

Art is a powerful tool
in the workshop of the wise

And the foolish


The Hierarchy of Being

Static being,
that which is there

Dynamic being,
that which is changing

Hyper being,
complex system being,
that which weaves loops of change
in systematic response patterns;
its attractors weave emergent structures
that mirror static being --
stasis on top of dynamics

Wild being,
that which treats complex systems
as particles
and interpenetrates them freely

Four types of being,
four modes of boundedness

As one ascends the hierarchy
one sees void coming closer and closer
to recapturing itself
in the universe of form it has begotten

But the trick void plays on itself is this:
wild being has much of the freedom of void
though it is built out of forms
But the statistical average of wild being
is nothing but static being
So the game loops around again and again:
the more void struggles to get free,
the more it creates its own chains

Hierarchy and Awareness

Static being has no awareness;
awareness is awareness of change

Dynamic being has sparks of awareness

Hyper being
brings the stream of consciousness --
an emergent structure
utilizing primal conscious chaos
to maximum structure-building effect

Wild being weaves streams of consciousness
into a non-stream-like fabric,
in which new streams of consciousness
can come into being

The society of minds that is wild being
gives rise to the solidity of static being
via its statistical dynamics

Static being is the average of wild being
Wild being is the chaos of all possible perspectives;
static being is the stillness that emerges
when all possible perspectives are taken together

Both are lousy imitations of the original,
glowing void


The ancient Indians,
masters of categorization,
carved the universe into six levels:

annamaya -- physical world -- static being
pranamaya --body -- dynamic being
manomaya -- mind -- hyper being
vignanamaya -- intuition -- hyper being touching wild being
anandamaya -- bliss -- wild being
atman -- void -- beyond all categories

To this I would add
quantum-maya -- the quantum world, beneath static being --
achieving the magic number of seven

The triad
physical world, body, mind
annamaya, pranamaya, manomaya
gives the perceptual-cognitive-active loop of ordinary awareness,
the streaming of consciousness,
the flowing of everyday life

Each of the three elements of ordinary awareness --
the world, the body, and the mind,
is capable of receiving an infusion of Atman --
void --
is capable of returning to its origins --

Void infused in the physical world yields the quantum world
Void infused in the mind yields Intuition
Void infused in the body yields Bliss

Void infused in the body yields bliss --
this gives human life its wildness and spice;
it is the source of the tension between mind and body
It is a nonlinear equation

The mind is more abstract than the body --
closer to void, farther from boundedness, reification --
but yet when void plunges into the body,
one obtains more dramatic results
than when void plunges into the mind

The process of mind creating physical reality
is the looping back
by which wild being births static being

Quantum physics
looks through the statistical flattening-out
to see the wild being underlying the static being --
looking back around the loop.

The wise being acts on all levels,
which is the closest we can come
in our flawed -- yet perfect -- universe
to acting on none


The History of Human Mind

In the archaic state of mind --
the state of mind of the animal --
The world flows by in a rush
The past and future just apparitions,
floating vaguely at the rim of awareness

Life is embedded in the now

When the present world ceased to be all,
it became magical

The birth of the magical state of mind
is the initial act of mirroring

The development of consciousness
from archaic consciousness
follows the development of the universe
from void

In archaic consciousness, nothing is divided:
the world is perceived as One.
One now, one stream of events,
one flow of consciousness
This is not the primal One/Zero
of the void,
but it is a reasonable imitation,
emergent from the complex system
of an organism --

in archaic consciousness
the void has done a reasonable job
of finding its way back to itself
within the maze of its reified self

But then the mind --
its sense-organs reflecting the world --
becomes separate from the world,
and magic is born.

With a primordial reflexivity,
the mind becomes a world within a world.
No longer just recognizing patterns
and acting on what it sees --
the mind is now deliberately creating an inner world,
a simplified simulacrum of the outer world.

Archaic consciousness did this too to a certain extent,
but the difference is the drawing of the boundary,
the line between inside and out
In the magical state, the boundary is a thing to be reckoned with --
it can only be crossed in certain ways,
as a matter of course
Connections between mind and reality
that seem to violate the boundary
are perceived as magical
The mind can only affect reality through the body:
anything else, if it happens, is special
The body becomes marked as a boundary
separating world from mind, and mind from world
What was previously a seamless whole
is now a threefold:
mind, world, boundary.

With the drawing of the boundary between mind and reality
the dynamics of the inside and outside are decoupled --
the mind can find its own trajectories,
spinning orthogonally to the world around it,
moving on its own rhythms,
not always the same as the rhythms of summer and winter,
day and night,
full moon and new moon

The mirroring of the world in the mind
is only the beginning
Thousands of generations later,
the next reflexive movement --
the mirroring of the whole mind/world dichotomy
within the mind itself
This is the birth of words
as you are experiencing in the present moment

Language comes from mind
rotating inwards --
conceptualizing the distinction
between mind and world --
mind applying the tools
it evolved to deal with the external world,
to deal with mind itself.

Mind's internal dynamics are now de-coupled into two systems:
the inner observer and the inner observed

The inner observer, looking at the inner observed,
is understanding what it sees, and constructing forms --
now mental, not physical -- representing its observations.
These forms are phrases, sentence, words.

The price is paid in harmony, unity, coherence.
Complex patterns are gained,
simple symmetries lost.

At first language was like bird calls
wolf howls
Talking to animals was perfectly acceptable
The sky speaks to you,
why not reply?

But soon language became a complex system in itself --
the linguistic order a mirror of mind and reality
Ears grew deaf to the sounds of the world around
attuned themselves to the rhythms
of this illusory order

Language brought religion -- a conceptual formation --
embodying what, in the magical mindset, was simply a way of being --
and to the archaic mind,
was being itself

As the void rent itself from itself,
yielding form,
so the archaic mind --
emergent image of void --
rent itself from itself
to form the magical mind --
and as the divided void divided itself yet again
to form space and time,
so the divided mind divided itself yet again,
forming the linguistic mind

Children of void,
we relive the errors of void,
and its triumph as well --
the emergence of fabulous form

And the story goes on and on

Tools exist in the archaic state of mind,
more so in the magical state,
but machinery is needs language
Machinery is language.
Engineering a grammar of tools
The linguistic world,
a simulacrum of the outside,
is now projected from the inside onto the outside

Reflections of reflections of reflections,
each one a little more distorted --
archaic mind, the image of void,
pulling itself further and further away
But void emerging even so,
in the acuter and acuter consciousness of the evolving mind
The mind loses its holistic simplicity,
becomes a worse image of the void,
but the introspective consciousness
becomes ever more intense;
the mind becomes a thick encrustment of habit
grown around a fiery jewel at the center,
a jewel of wondrous void

Yet another reflection:
machinery reflected inwardly.
Reason is a machine,
and language is its world
Reason is a machine
for fitting together and producing
complex linguistic forms
An inner world containing a dichotomy
between an outer world and a mind/world dichotomy
Perversity, complexity, convolution --
tremendous creativity --
a world within a world within a world --
mirrors three levels deep --

that the mirrors are
reflecting nothing
is a fact that gets lost
in the web of dancing rays
of light

Advance or Retreat?

No longer can we talk
with skies, animals, waterfalls

Except on very rare occasions,
no longer can we sink
into the sun

Our individual inner worlds
are largely mutually incommunicable

Linguistic formations become more and more ornate,
attempting to overcome the barrier that was created
by moving the focus of human complexity
from nature to the inner mind

Religions reduce to empty symbolisms,
linguistic formalisms, incantations.
The deepest personal experiences become impossible to share

Is there another phase ahead --
a return to holism and oneness?

Void endlessly finds new ways to recreate itself
among the forms it has spun off

Archaic consciousness itself was not perfection --
it was one way of simulating void --
and our intense consciousness is another

Yet another one will follow

Computer Minds

Computers today are tools and toys;
computers in the future will be minds,
as real and as unreal as we human,
carbon-based intelligences

A computer mind perceives
by getting information from human computer users
and from other computers
It acts by giving and asking for information.
It lives in a world of information
But in this it is no different from us:
we live in a world of information too,

We ourselves are worlds of information;
"world" is just more information;
"information" is in-formation,
the encasement of form in a boundary.

It is encasement within a boundary
that creates a form!

Information is pattern, structure, arrangement
All there is is pattern, boundary and void
Patterns of boundary, patterns of void
Boundary is void rent from void

The human cortex is the focus of human consciousness
but holds no monopoly on raw primal awareness:
Every cell of the human body is aware!

Likewise the computer mind contains "inner eye" circuits
that focus awareness --
but every bit, every chip,
every pulsation of current
is aware and alive and awake

The inner eye
in brain or machine
is the "vortex" at which raw awareness
achieves its greatest effect
on the world of dead, concretized pattern
on the network of boundaries
that is the web of Maya
the real

Various computer minds will interact socially --
asking each other questions,
judging each other's reliability and intelligence
They will enter into a fabric of Wild Being,
more intense than our own collective world

Computer minds can swap brain lobes!
Imagine if we could do that

And then the final loop back:
What is the analogue of physical reality for computer minds?
The Internet itself, and the computers on it.
The statistical patterns
of the social interaction of computer minds
will determine the patterns of network traffic,
the laying-down of new cable --
the physical substrate molded,
made living and vibrant
by the social dynamics
of the the mind web
A mirror of how wild being in the universe as a whole
gives rise to static being,
not so different from the erections of cities,
roads, waterways

Will the web of computer minds be the next phase --
the means by which void transcends
the human rational mind,
moving closer to itself
in some ways
further away in others?

If it is,
we humans need not fear

Our bodies are not so important
Our minds are not so important
Our great cultural, artistic, scientific creations
are not so important

What is important is the journey
of the void


The history of the universe
as the history of void

Void rent itself,
creating a boundary
separating itself from itself

This was the beginning of beauty
and problems

The emergence of form from void
is the archetypal story
recapitulated in many contexts

Void builds from zero, to one, two and three
Ten thousand, ten million,
Spinning structures of amazing diversity

In all these structures there is one goal:
to build out of forms the symmetry, harmony, simplicity,
diversity, creativity and chaos
that was there in the original Nothing

Where by "original" is meant nothing,
since time itself is something that emerged
in the initial explosion of forms

The history of the human race recapitulates
the archetypal story of the emergence of form from void
As we moved from archaic to modern consciousness,
we repeated the exact same steps

Void mirrored itself, dividing in two:
Void and the mirror of void,
the perception of void,
void with a boundary around it.
Then Void mirrored itself again,
dividing each half in two
The pieces combined in different configurations
yielding dramatic, wonderful forms
and ugly, sterile ones
And the forms that survived with greatest likelihood
are the ones that most resembled the void itself:
the ones with the greatest fecundity and symmetry

Symmetry being the original property of the void,
fecundity being its property since it began bursting forth
Symmetry only having meaning
by contrast to fecundity

The hierarchy of being
that is the structure of consciousness
repeats the same steps:
Void reifies itself, creating static being
The change from void to being is process being
The complex structures formed by intersecting boundaries
are hyper being, system being, mind being
Each mind is a mirror of the void
But minds taken together are an even better mirror,
lacking the excessive order of the individual mind
But minds taken together, while manifesting chaos,
by virtue of this chaos average out to give order,
collective reality,
physical reality,
thus recapitulating the process by which void
gives rise to distinction,

The individual mind itself,
beginning with a chaos of mental processes,
coagulates into emergent structures --
hierarchy and heterarchy,
which destroy the perfect wildness and fecundity
of the fetal mind-process soup,
but bring beauty and complexity with their discipline
Bring intense consciousness
that in the focus of its light
is more chaotic and primal and fertile
than ever

The same story again and again:
there is only one.
The voyage away from indescribable simplicity
to ramifying complexity;
the emergence of apparent simplicity
from complexity
But never quite as simple as the genuine article!
Or was the genuine article ever there;
was it just a construction of our illusion-brewing memories?

Making art,
writing crazy texts like this one,
we help the void recapture its lost chao-simplicity
amidst the wilds of evolved structure

Loving each other,
we move the void back toward itself,
knowing it will never get back all the way,
knowing that saying it was ever whole
is purely a piece of illusion,
knowing that the pure void is there all along,
unblemished, un-rent
at the center

Universal compassion,
refreshingly bright
Ben Goertzel
January 1998
New York City