Möbius strips, the bindu, and moving amongst the planes

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mobius-stripe

Summary: There is some specific feature of consciousness that allows it to move among the different planes.  The most obvious is the idea of “rate of vibration”.  But this doesn’t account for the main dichotomy of consciousness where a subjective self seems embedded in an objective external world.  The main idea I explore here is that consciousness is like a Möbius strip: it seems to have two sides, but really only has one side.  This Möbius property is what allows consciousness to transfer from one plane to the next.  Yoga has long known this property to exist and calls it “bindu”; a hole in consciousness that, as I speculate here, may be the “fold” that allows consciousness to literally shift from pointing in one direction to pointing into another direction, e.g. into another plane.

Intro

I’m currently working on a book called “ATOM: A synthesis of Science and Yoga”.  One of my intentions with this blog is to use it as a scratch pad to explore idea snippets I wish to express in ATOM.  The snippet today has to do with an idea I wrote in Beyond the Physical back around 1990.  In chapter 10.2 I said:

 “The actual point of intersection of our non-physical psyche with the physical world, this actual point … is a funnel, passageway, tunnel, or channel by which our primarily nonphysical psyche expresses itself in the physical world.  …[It] is somewhat analogous to what the heart is to the anatomy of the physical body; a valve, a place central to flow, a mechanism that drives circulation….

 …dynamic description of something more akin to spherical whirlpools spinning and swirling at any conceivable rate…… it is not a rotating motion that spins through 360 degrees and returns to its origin…it could be accurately called a “Möbius spinning”.  It is a spinning motion that seems to rotate through itself much the way a Möbius strip folds back onto itself.

 …the ego…has a very definite geometry…of the Möbius surface.  As the point of connection between the physical and nonphysical components of our overall anatomy, the ego is “pointing in both directions”, so to speak.  The ego points in the direction of our objective, outer physical experience, but it simultaneously points in the direction of our inner, subjective and nonphysical experience.  We can think in dualistic terms that there are two distinct “sides” to our experience, these being the objective and the subjective.  But such a view is obviously wrong in some sense because we dwell in both objective and subjective spheres simultaneously.…it does not have two distinct sides, but only appears to do so.…Thus we exist simultaneously in objective and subjective spheres of experience.

So, I got this much straight in my mind 20 years ago.  These insights were not mere speculation, but were rationalizations of both my sleep- and drug-related altered states experiences.  I was trying to describe in words things I have experienced.

Over the past 20 years I keep coming back to this idea of a Möbius point as something very fundamental, and my subsequent research and reading has borne this out.  The snippet here links this idea of the Möbius center of our consciousness to well-established ideas in Ashtanga Yoga, which is the yoga of Patanjali as described in the Yoga Sutras. It also links to the idea of the Anu as described in Kashmiri Shaivism, which is related to the Hindu idea of bindu, or center of consciousness.

Background

In the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali teaches a technique called samprajnata samadhi (samadhi with a “seed”), in which consciousness becomes an unchanging dynamic equilibrium focused on the same thought (the thought focused on is called a “pratyaya” in Yoga Sutras).  The next step is to let the pratyaya fade away, but keep consciousness in the highly focused state (asamprajnata samadhi; samadhi without a “seed”). I.K. Taimni, in his Science of Yoga, describes this thus:

TFig01

“Now, in Samprajnata Samadhi there is a Pratyaya (which is called a ‘seed’) in the field of consciousness and the consciousness is fully directed to it. So the direction of consciousness is from the centre outwards. In Asamprajnata Samadhi there is no Pratyaya and therefore there is nothing to draw the consciousness outwards and hold it there. So as soon as the Pratyaya (P) is dropped or suppressed the consciousness begins to recede automatically to its centre O and after passing momentarily through this Laya centre, tends to emerge into the next subtler vehicle. When this process has been completed the Pratyaya (P’) of the next higher plane appears and the direction of consciousness again becomes from the centre outwards.”

Taimni’s “Laya centre” is just another word for “bindu” or “center of consciousness”.  But what he is describing is quite amazing. It is not just “quite amazing”, it is unbelievable, incredible! He describes here in the clearest terms I have ever seen, the exact mechanism of how consciousness moves from one plane to the next! The man should get a posthumous Nobel Prize for writing the above lines!

The Point of This Post

But there is one obviously weird aspect to Taimni’s description.  First, for argument’s sake, let’s grant his picture as true.  Ok, so a thought in the mind is like a magnetic force that pulls consciousness out from this laya center.  Ok, so by getting rid of all thought (Ha! No easy task!) this magnetic influence is eliminated.  Then, consciousness spontaneously recedes back to the center.  But then it hits the laya center and, here’s the rub: where does it go?

The laya center obviously goes somewhere else.  It is, by definition, a hole of some sorts. But as a hole, where does it go?  It is easy enough to follow his logic and say it goes to the next plane inward in our subjectivity.  But to me, this seems to be leaving out a really big step.  Actually not just one step but a two really important steps.

The first big step that I only mention in passing is the cosmology implied here.  This relates to “rate of vibration” and is the cosmology of the planes according to occult teachings such as Theosophy.  Each plane represents a discreet range of frequencies representing the energies that define that plane.  To those who are familiar with such ideas, this is standard thinking and is uncontroversial.

But the step being left out I wish to consider is what is the actual mechanism of passage through the laya center, designated “o” in Taimni’s diagram above?   This is where I think the Möbius idea may be useful.  If consciousness is such that its nature is to always be pointed in two directions simultaneously, just like a Möbius strip, then perhaps the movement through the laya center is not like passing through a hole at all.  Maybe the movement is more akin to tracing a line along a Möbius strip.  As one so traces, one eventually comes to the fold that is the main feature that allows a rectangle to become a Möbius strip.  In the abstract, this fold is a single point on the surface (or more precisely, a line).  Maybe what is happening then is that, finding the laya center by yogic means is the same as finding the fold point on the Möbius strip.  At this point, one transitions imperceptibly from one seeming direction to the other seeming direction.  I use the term “seeming” because the surface of a Möbius strip only points in one direction, but creates the illusion of seeming to have two surfaces, each pointing in opposite directions.

Wrap-up

So, that’s the beef with this snippet.  The center of consciousness, the bindu, the laya center, may not be a hole, at least in the normal sense, but may be more like the point on a Möbius strip where the orientation seems to shift from pointing in the outward direction to pointing in the inward direction.

No matter how you slice it, it is an issue of the most fundamental importance.  Perhaps the most important one can imagine.  Consider if this whole line of thought is true, or at least pointing in the right general direction.  This would explain not only how we get from the waking state of consciousness to the dream state of consciousness, it also explains the other altered states, mainly described in yoga. It also vindicates something occultists have been saying for a long time: when we die, our consciousness doesn’t cease to exist, it just permanently moves to the next plane over, traditionally called the Astral Plane in occult literature.

This point, this center of consciousness, this is a central topic in ATOM and is the main reason the book will have that name.  This center is irreducible, indivisible.  It is an atom.

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15 thoughts on “Möbius strips, the bindu, and moving amongst the planes

  1. In a sense, this exercise in clarification around the laya centre is a form of samprajnata samadhi. Another thought about the laya centre was that in other traditions this has been called a “gateway” or simply a “gate”. Which could be understood as I am hearing from this writing a reorientation point. (or possibly foci….. point of alpha/omega etc.) In going through the experience of this laya centre I am wondering if it would have the same characteristics through the ‘stupendous gamut’ of possible octaves… vibrations…planes… available. Does Taimni address this anywhere? Also one last thought… sometimes when going through a “laya centre” a guru or teacher is guiding, supporting or actually helping to sustain that gateway/centre in order that it is passed through successfully. Thanks for the post! I am looking forward to more plane talk sometimes soon!!

    • Perhaps in the sense of being a very faint echo of the process. I am firmly committed to the idea that samadhi cannot occur in the waking state.

      Yes, it is certainly a gateway. An issue here is metaphors vs. literal understanding. I think Taimni is attempting a literal understanding, on which I am trying to build.

      Taimni claims that this point is the common center of all the nonphysical bodies. However, one must learn to use it as a gateway for each level separately. For example, there does not seem to be the possibility that a beginner can use it to move from the physical to, say the buddhic plane.

      Yes, your last point refers to an “initiation”.

      Thanks for the great questions!

      P.S. Do I know you??

  2. Post-production note. The question arises: how can one conceive of the planes as discreet ranges of energies, yet have something akin to a Möbius strip-like connection between two adjacent planes? One simple possibility is that passage through the laya center is not a Möbius strip-like phenomena, but instead is more akin to a transition between adjacent harmonics.

    It seems both the frequency/harmonic idea and the Möbius strip ideas have some role to play, but as ingredients to a model, I still haven’t figured out how to bake the cake yet. The frequency/harmonic idea seems accurate for describing the relationship between the planes, yet the Möbius strip idea seems critical to account for the duality of conscious experience as simultaneously both objective and subjective. When one moves to the next adjacent plane, what had been subjective in the previous plane becomes the new objective aspect of consciousness, and some deeper level of subjective emerges as the new subjective. So, the Möbius and harmonic ideas each have some role to play in modeling how consciousness can move from plane to plane.

    • Hi Pete

      Thanks for commenting. Never heard of Schenker before so thanks for pointing this out. I don’t see an immediate connection to the above.

      It’s not really a metaphor, more like a model of how we move amongst states of consciousness. But since the phenomenon in question is not a physical thing, I guess the idea has to stand as a metaphor! The short of it is: why do we “point” in both subjective and objective “directions” simultaneously? The Möbius strip idea is one way to address this issue.

      Take care, Sir!

      Don

  3. PeterJ

    My interest in Schenker is in the way he analyses the ascending levels of structure in the music, beginning with the simplest component, the movement away from the dominant key and back again, a movement that may span a whole symphony, and then working up through the levels to the bells and whistles and surface froth. He is often interpreted in a quite mystical way, as saying something about the structure of experience,

  4. I skimmed the Wiki page about him and one thing I got was that he seems to be able to capture the fractal structure of music compositions, which is to say, describing variations of the theme being nested inside of larger variants of the theme. This is the idea of self-similar in fractals. Perhaps at the time he invented his system some in the arts might consider it mystical, but today anyone familiar with fractals, I think, would completely agree with this overall method, even if there are now actual mathematical methods that can serve the same purpose.

    A key link between math and music are that both are contained with form and structure. Math, I think most would agree, is the most general way to characterize forms and structures and patterns, and so, the methods can be used to describe all the different patterns of nature, including those found in music.

    So, the link with different facets of experience is again nothing at all mystical, but just the observation of these same general forms found in a large variety of different contexts (e.g. branching of a tree, a blood vessel, a train of thought, a theme in a musical piece, a river, the logic of a computer program, etc. etc. etc.)

  5. PeterJ

    I think the mystical connections can be pushed further than this. I’ll try to mystify them further.

    Schenker sees the classical symphony as a hierarchy of emergent structures, a coherent whole that emerges from the most simple to the most complex, coherent in time both vertically and horizontally, That is, the sound-world created by the orchestra is finely structured at the level of the momentary and local detail, but also at the level of the ‘Ursatz’, the most simple and general level, the level that encompasses the entire four movements and what I would call the metaphysical level.

    At this level there is just a simple dualistic/binary movement from the tonic to the dominant and back again, the expression of an opposition of polarities. That’s it. Yin and Yang in mutually dependent existence. The symphony would reduce to this. It would be this movement that I equate with Brown’s ‘crossing’, perhaps your ‘crossing of the join’ in the Mobius strip’, the completion of a full circle of a strange loop, which is where we see the duality on which a loop depends. This duality of opposites would be the level from which the final reduction would have to be made in order to reduce the symphony to nothing at all, and thus see where it came from.

    Schenkerian analysis is inherently dualistic and reductionist if we leave things there. It would be a metaphor for western philosophy. Weyl does not leave it there. He reduces this duality to a continuum. Brown shows mathematically how to take two things (or one distinction) that we have arrived at by reduction in this way, be they tonic and dominant or Something and Nothing, and further reduce them, without falling foul of Russell’s paradox or other problems of self-reference or incompleteness.

    “Time is what there would be if there could be an oscillation,” says Brown. Without an oscillation from tonic to dominant there could be no classical symphony. Before any harmonic distinction, however, there must be an oscillation from silence to sound and back again. Western philosophy stops with musicology and the Something/Nothing or tonic/dominant dilemma and other such antinomies. Brown explains how to reduce the space-time world of the classical symphony to the undifferentiated continuum of the listener’s awareness, what Weyl calls the ‘true’ or ’empirical’ continuum,

  6. I have to read more on Weyl’s mathematics. Your comments and the blog post you did about him are very intriguing.

    Perhaps something going on under the surface of our conversation is that I see all these things as ways to characterize or represent relative things: music, math, dualisms in general. I contrast this to the Absolute, which is beyond any characterization whatsoever. We can speak of it, but our symbols and thoughts are just tokens for something that will always be beyond understanding.

    Of course this doesn’t mean we should stop pushing back the frontier of our ignorance. But I think this frontier is like the numbers: it just goes on forever and has no end. So in the end, we understand relative stuff progressively better. But as for the absolute, we can never even get close to it just as numbers can never touch infinity.

    • PeterJ

      I’m glad you’re intrigued by Weyl. I’m a big fan. The academic world seems full of great thinkers who are almost completely ignored. I’d agree with what you say here except for one thing, which is the idea that we cannot understand the Absolute. I’m not so sure you’re right about this. I think we can understand it a little. And it is said to be ‘closer to us than out jugular’. So I would be more optimistic. But yes, in the words of the Upanishads, ‘who is there to understand the understander?’. In the end understanding itself is a relative phenomenon.

      Sorry for probably too many comments. Your essay got me fired up.

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