The Yogic View of Consciousness 13: Minds within Minds within Minds

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YVC 13a coverWe now wish to see if there is a plausible path from where we ended in Part 12 to something even remotely rational. The answer is yes. We’ll use wave superposition and fractals on the intellectual side, and Leibniz on the intuitive side. However, don’t forget we are still inside the Looking Glass. Things are still very weird and abstract, but we’ll superimpose some sense over what otherwise appears as nonsense.

 

Contents for The Yogic View of Consciousness:

Intro Ch 1 Ch 2 Ch 3 Ch 4 Ch 5 Ch 6 Ch7 Ch 8
Ch 9 Ch 10 Ch 11 Ch 12 Ch 13 Ch 14 Ch 15 Ch 16 Ch 17
Ch 18 Ch 19 Ch 20 Ch 21 Ch 22 Ch 23 Ch 24 Ch 25 Ch 26
Ch 27 Ch 28 Ch 29 Ch 30 Ch 31 Ch 32 Ch 33

 

To quick review, Taimni not only echoed Berkley’s original conception of idealism, but amplified it massively. Instead of just “God” projecting thoughts into our minds, our awareness is made of many simultaneous streams of consciousness. To repeat:

  1. Our own personal stream of consciousness
  2. The Earth’s stream of consciousness
  3. The Solar System’s stream of consciousness
  4. The Milky Way Galaxy’s stream of consciousness
  5. [Others we don’t know about]’s stream of consciousness
  6. Our Universe’s stream of consciousness

This is a nested, hierarchical, fractal-like structure of waves, as explained below. This structure is the inverse of what is experienced in Kaivalya. Remember when van der Leeuw flipped inside out during dharma mega samadhi (end of Part 1)? What we now describe is that “thing” as it appears on this side of the Mahabindu.

Let’s think about our own thinking to get some orientation.

We All Know Everything
Taimni’s quote from Part 11 still has some mileage. I’ll shorten it to get to the point.

“…the world of the mind…in which we live and which alone we are aware of directly, is the result of the combination of two sets of phenomena which are interwoven…One set of phenomena is produced by the impact of the world around us on our mind, and the other set by the activity of our individual mind itself. The rising and setting of the sun and other natural phenomena…produce a series of mental images which are independent of the activity of our own mind. But these images are mixed up with the images produced by our own mind, independently of the external world.”

Taimni is pointing our something similar to what Berkeley described:

“We may even assert, that the Existence of God is far more evidently perceived than the Existence of Men; because the Effects of Nature are infinitely more numerous and considerable, than those ascribed to humane Agents.”

Let’s think of this in terms of the yogic view of consciousness. Pretend you observing the following scene. Via the yogic model, this means the scene is projected onto the cave wall (screen) of your consciousness:

hds2

Figure 1: A random scene you might perceive.

Where did this projection come from? Did you make this scene up whole cloth? Of course not. Most of it was “brought into” your mind by your senses. How much of this scene is the product of your mind? We can break it up into two scenes:

Slide1

Figure 2: How most of what you perceive is not you.

As this illustrates, very little of what you encounter in your mind was put there by you. None of the “perception part” of the scene was put there by you, other than that you directed your attention to perceive it in the first place. What you put in the scene was a bunch of meanings, interpretations. Further, the meanings you put there were by no means all-encompassing. The main meaning “Mmmm, I’m hungry” is what led you to the scene in the first place. In this example, what is noticed is relative to the goal of satisfying one’s appetite. This is meant to illustrate the general fact that we see in a perception what we want to see in it, not the perception as it is in itself. And I’m not even trying to take Kant into account here. I am just talking about normal perception. You see what you want to see.

What this looks like from the yoga projection model is this:

Figure 3: Who’s projecting the projector?

Figure 3: Who’s projecting the projector?

Something else projected the overall scene. You projected on top of the projection. The big projection even projected you. The light illuminating the scene came from the Sun. All the objects there, ultimately, came from the Earth. Some of the objects are still “earthy” like the grass and foliage—and you. Some of it is “earth” transformed by other humans, like the hotdog stand and the hotdogs.

So, in this scene, we see three of the streams running simultaneously: your mind, the Earth’s mind, and the Sun’s mind. These are the “dominant frequencies” of the scene, if you will. In the image above, the Earth and the Sun’s minds are lumped together into the bigger projector.

However, the other minds are there too, but they are deeply “buried” in the scene and not so obvious. The Milky Way galaxy’s mind is there too, holding our solar system in place, so the Sun can illuminate the scene, and the Earth can provide the setting for scene in the first place. The whole universe is implicit in the scene because it holds the galaxy in place to hold the Sun in place, and so on.

All of this perhaps sounds silly. The only reason it does so is because all you care about is eating the hot dog, and not paying attention to the other details of the environment. However, if you let go of your immediate self-absorbed needs, and become purely intellectual, it is apparent that any scene you encounter in your perception, just like the one above, implies the entirety of existence. We perceive everything, all the time.

Leibniz Knew This
Every single thing you perceive implies, and therefore contains, everything that exists. This is a consequence of the fact that everything comes out of the Mahabindu…but I get ahead of myself. Leibniz offered another way to look at what I described above. Let’s consider his idea of “confused feelings”. The following quote is from Discourse on Metaphysics, section 33, Jonathan Bennett’s translation:

“We can also see that the perceptions of our senses, even when they are vivid, must necessarily contain some confused feeling. For since all the bodies in the universe are in sympathy, our body receives the impressions of all the others, and although our senses are related to everything, our soul cannot possibly attend to each particular thing. Thus our confused feelings result from a downright infinite jumble of perceptions.”

“In somewhat the same way the confused murmur that people hear when nearing the sea shore comes from the putting together of the reverberations of countless waves. For if several perceptions don’t fit together so as to make one, and no one of them stands out above the rest, and the impressions they make are all just about equally strong and equally capable of catching the soul’s attention, it can perceive them only confusedly.”

This is a key insight that seems to go unnoticed in Western thinking. Reductionism has blinded people to this reality: one thing implies all things. Leibniz’ use of waves at the beach is a perfect example. If you go right to the shore, you can hear the sound of individual waves. If you back away, you hear only the composite sound of all the waves. Your senses are hearing every single wave, but your mind is not interpreting it as such.

Leibniz idea of “perceiving confusedly” is a very, very important idea. On the introspective side, it is the glue holding my argument together. In fact, Leibniz understood the implication of his wave analogy and he took it to its logical extreme: each of our minds knows everything, all the time. In his words, from Paragraph 56 of his Monadology:

“56. Now, this interconnection, or this adapting of all created things to each one, and of each one to all the others, brings it about that each simple substance has relational properties that express all the others, so that each monad is a perpetual living mirror of the universe.”

We will have much more to say about Leibniz and his monads as we progress, but for the moment, we’ve just brought him on stage to make the above points which I summarize as follows:

In every perception we have, the entire universe is present in, as he puts it, a state of “confused feeling”. There are different degrees of clarity. What is right in front of us, and to which we direct our attention, we experience relatively clearly. However, that small piece of reality on which we are focused, the focus of attention, is always supported by the rest of the universe.

Where does one perception end and another begin? They don’t end. They all bleed one into the next. Each implies the whole of manifestation. What is not the focus of attention is the “confused feeling” Leibniz spoke of, where all of everything else just kind of lumps together to form the nebulous background of the momentary focus of attention. This background becomes the subconscious and unconscious mind, the hidden substrate supporting the momentary focus on the screen of consciousness. In this manner, the perceptions of each being mirror the perceptions of all other beings.

Can we do more with this than what Leibniz did? Of course we can. With 400 years plus of mathematics under our belts, we can express the relationships Leibniz was trying to convey more concisely. The relationships he was speaking about are today best conveyed in terms of how we understanding waves.

Elementary Wave Theory
Waves are well-known and elementary in math and physics (so to those of you who know this stuff, please just bear with me). First let’s consider how a wave is described.

Waves in general are easy to understand. They have three main properties: amplitude, frequency, and phase.

wave illustration

Figure 4: Basic wave terminology

 

Amplitude is how tall the wave is. For sound waves, the amplitude is how loud the sound is. The taller the sound wave, the louder it is. In the figure, the red wave has higher amplitude than the black wave. Frequency is pitch and is how many waves pass by in a given amount of time (say 1 second): The more waves, the higher the pitch.  If you invert the frequency, this gives the wavelength, so that higher frequency waves have shorter distances between  the peaks. Phase implies two or more waves, and measures how the peaks of the different waves line up. The distance between the peak of the black and red waves is the phase between them. Phase is important because it plays a role in how waves add and subtract with each other.

Adding waves together is called superposition. The formulas are easy, but unnecessary here. The pictures I calculated in Figure 5 allow you to intuitively understand how wave superposition works.

Panel A in Fig 5 shows four different sine waves (the parameters are given in the figure legend, but aren’t important for the conversation). Wave 1 (red) has a high amplitude and low frequency. Waves 2 (green), 3 (blue), and 4 (magenta) have progressively decreasing amplitudes (heights) and increasing frequencies.   So, wave 1 is like a loud, low-pitch tone, and wave 4 is like a quiet, high-pitch tone, and waves 2 and 3 are in-between.

graph part 12

Figure 5: Waves calculated by A*sin(w*t) with 0 < x < 2p. (A) Wave 1: A= 1, w = 1; wave 2: A = 0.5, w = 10; wave 3: A = 0.25, w = 50; wave 4: A = 0.1, w = 100. (B) – (F) Superposition of waves in panel A as indicated in each panel.

The remaining panels show what happens when you add the waves together or, when the waves are superpositioned. Each panel lists the waves that were added together.

Panels B-D illustrates adding two waves. Panel B shows adding waves 1 and 2. You can see the green wave from panel A is now superimposed over the red wave from panel A. Panel C shows adding waves 1 and 3, and panel D shows adding waves 1 and 4.

The point of showing these is to illustrate how the lower frequency wave (wave 1 in this case) serves to carry the higher frequency wave. The higher frequency wave “rides” inside of the lower frequency wave. So, the low frequency wave can be thought of as a carrier wave, also sometimes called an “envelope”.

You can add together more than just one wave. Panel E adds waves 1, 2 and 3, and panel F adds all four waves together. The result is something that is kind of like a fractal: waves within waves within waves. Wave 4 is in wave 3 which is in wave 2 which is in wave 1. But it’s not a fractal technically speaking; it’s just superposition, adding waves together.

Fractals
If someone today doesn’t know what a fractal is, they were just born, or they live under a rock. Let’s quick review, just to put us all on the same page. Here is a figure of a simple fractal:

fractal

Figure 6: A fractal made up of triangles that get shrunk by a factor of 1/3rd and then placed into the middle 1/3rd of the bigger triangle. This fractal was discovered by Helge von Koch and is called a Koch curve.

Fractals are shapes that have the property of having the same shape embedded in the same shape embedded in the same shape, in theory, ad infinitum. Mathematically what makes fractals special is that they have dimensions that are not integers. Recall that a point has 0 dimensions, a line 1 dimension, a plane 2 dimensions, a cube 3 dimensions, and so on. The Koch curve above is a very wiggly line and has a dimension greater than 1, but less than 2 (the actual dimension = 1.26186).

Fractals and Superposition
It doesn’t take a genius to see that the superimposed waves in Panel F look like the fractal. Mathematically, they are not identical. However, conceptually, they have a similar thing going on: as you get smaller, you find new detail. For the wave you find the higher frequency, low amplitude signals. For the fractal shown, you keep finding ever smaller triangles.

So, waves and fractals have places where their descriptions can overlap. But they are also different and do different things. For one, waves move, as we all know watching water waves at the beach. Geometric fractals, like that shown, do not move. You can have fractal patterns vary over time (typical citation here), but this is not the same as a wave.   Waves, as applied practically, are integer dimensional, unlike fractals. All the waves above are 1 dimensional.

To remind everyone that waves move, I calculated the following animation that shows movement of 2-dimensional waves, like on the surface of a lake. The animation shows low amplitude, high frequency waves “riding” within large amplitude, low frequency waves.

This animation is also presented to help build some intuition for how the four levels of the gunas are really related amongst themselves, which we get to ahead.

Fig 7: Animation of superposed waves

Math Wrap-up
The above is a cursory and very simple introduction to waves and fractals.   It is good enough for our purposes here. We want to think of waves exactly as they are meant to be understood: as vibrations. The main thing we are interested in is that waves can superposition over other waves, generating complex wave forms. For fractals, we will think of them something like Russian nested dolls of having the property of “things within things within things”, a property called “nested”, just like the dolls.

wave summary

Figure 8: (Left) waves = vibrations. (Middle) fractal = things within things within things. (Right) superposed waves within waves within waves resemble fractals.

Using the logic of Part 8, waves and fractals provide us math patterns—patterns of relative relationships—that we can use to provide a “map” of how the inner realities of the mind are organized.

With these notions, we can summarize the picture we’ve seen Inside The Looking Glass.

Minds Within Minds Within Minds
Recall the very definition of yoga from aphorism 2 of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras:

“Yoga chitta vritti nirodhah”

Yoga is the cessation of the mind waves. Yoga is the cessation of the whirlpools of the mind. It has always been accepted in yoga that the mind is a wave-like phenomena.

Taimni modernizes these ancient notions when he said (MGU pages 426-427):

“The Divine Mind must act on the individual mind through a mental mechanism and it is the nature of this mental mechanism that we shall now consider in a general way.”

“Let us begin our study with the brief consideration of a natural principle which operates in the realm of so-called physical phenomena and which may be referred to as the object-image principle. According to this principle it is possible to convert one kind of physical phenomena into another kind of phenomena and back again into the original kind of phenomena through the instrumentality of an intermediate mechanism which works automatically.”

“Let us take a number of concrete examples to illustrate this principle. The sound waves produced in talking can be converted by the mechanism attached to a telephone into electrical impulses. These electrical impulses are carried along a wire and when they reach the receiving end are again converted into sound waves which are exactly similar to the original sound waves. Take another example. Music is broadcast from a transmitting station. An apparatus converts the sound waves into electro-magnetic waves which fill all space. Any radio which is tuned to those waves, catches them, converts them back into sound waves and we hear the music exactly as it was broadcast from the transmitting station.”

“This principle is utilized in many ways in scientific inventions of various kinds and can provide a clue to the mechanism of interaction between the Divine Mind and the individual minds. It shows how the ideas which are present in the Divine Mind may be reproduced in the individual minds but through the instrumentality of an intermediate mechanism. Divine Ideation may be considered to be like the broadcasting of music or pictures from a powerful transmitting station. The appearance of the mental images in the individual minds is like the reproduction of the music or pictures in the radio or TV sets.”

“There is, however, one point of difference which should be noted. The world image in the individual mind is not an exact reproduction of the Divine Thought, only a partial and frequently distorted reproduction on the spiritual planes and not even that on the lowest planes. This is obviously due to the limitations and imperfections of the individual mind. Even in the case of a radio we see that the quality of the instrument makes a great deal of difference. Each radio is sensitive only to certain bands of wave-lengths and can catch the electro-magnetic waves within those limits.”

“God” is a giant radio transmitter buried in the depths of our subconscious mind, buried in the bindu, and our minds are like little receivers for these broadcasts.  We can recast Taimni’s conception in terms of the wave ideas discussed above:

Slide3

Figure 9: Our minds are composite “waves” of the vrittis of the minds of the higher order structures in which we are embedded: Earth, Sun, and Galaxy are depicted here.

What Figure 9 is meant to depict is how the Galaxy projects a “very fine” mental image. Our Sun is but one small element in the Galaxy’s mental projection. In turn, the Earth is one element within the Sun’s mental projection. And in turn, you and I are but small elements within the Earth’s mental projection.

The image above makes no attempt to accurately depict the relative scales of the wave frequencies. The difference between the scale of the galaxy and that of the Sun alone would render the Sun invisibly small.  We are invisibly small compared to the Sun.

Again, our perceptions of these entities is analogous to how a fly perceives us. We perceive the images projected by these “Great Beings” into our mind only as the space and environment in which we seem to be. We have no idea, in general, these images are put in our mind by the thoughts occurring in the minds of the Great Beings we are inside of, and to whom we are but infinitesimal components. Much like how the bacteria in your mouth relates to how it is inside of you.

Some Readers might be confused by the Galaxy projecting the small fast waves, and us humans projecting the big slow waves. This speaks to what wave frequency means in physics: the higher the frequency, the higher is the energy. Figure 9 is meant to depict the relative frequencies, or energies, of the respective minds.  The Galaxy projects into our mind at such a high frequency/energy, that it is invisible to us, for all practical purposes.

The Sun is a microscopic element in the Galaxy. Our Sun is as significant to the Galaxy as that bacterium is in your mouth.  The Sun’s mind also projects a very high frequency wave into our minds, but it is a low frequency relative to the Galaxy; and similarly with the Earth. But we perceive the Earth’s frequencies readily; they make up our perceptions of this whole planet on which we live, move, and have our being.

Our mind exists inside of the Earth’s mind, which exists inside of the Sun’s mind, and so on, all the way up to the Universe as a whole. And then, since this is Hinduism, and we are still in the Looking Glass, we can go past our single universe with its lone four-headed Brahman, and into other universes, until the minds disappears into a mist of unknowing our very small human imaginations simply can no longer contain.

Yes, this is Yogic Cosmology.  What were you expecting? The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy?

Next time, we’ll continue our tour inside the Looking Glass, where we will frame this hierarchy of minds within minds within minds (and so on) in terms of Cantor’s kooky transfinite numbers.

See you in Part 14.

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7 thoughts on “The Yogic View of Consciousness 13: Minds within Minds within Minds

  1. PeterJ

    Fascinating Don. I liked this…

    “For if several perceptions don’t fit together so as to make one, and no one of them stands out above the rest, and the impressions they make are all just about equally strong and equally capable of catching the soul’s attention, it can perceive them only confusedly.”

    These words could come from a manual on mixing music if you replace ‘soul’ with ‘ear’.

    Another thought. If we add up all the waves in the universe and calculate the length of their combination wave, would that be the total lifetime of this universe?

    • Hi Peter! Great to hear from you, Sir. Hope you have been well. Yes, Leibniz had so many amazing insights. It is interesting you would bring in music. It complicates Leibniz’ metaphor since the sounds of waves crashing at the beach are relatively simple in comparison. In either case, it would tend to a limit, I think, of white noise, where all frequencies are present in the signal at equal intensity.

      As to your second question, I am hesitant to be too literal when I invoke math and science concepts in the present context. The point of Part 8 was to argue I would use math as a type of “map” to discern relative relationships but not pretend to doing “real” science. The latter has more exacting requirements, including properly parametrizing one’s model and being able to link it to empirical events.

      That said, the metaphor can be carried further, and I am currently writing it up for Part 14. By way of preview and to address your question, carrying the metaphor of mind waves within mind waves to its logical extreme suggests a limit that simultaneously tends towards both zero and infinity. It is one of those weird dualisms that string theorists have found. At some point, the whole thing folds in on itself and the infinitely large becomes the infinitesimally small. When standing at any one point of the thing and looking in both “directions” (of increasing and decreasing scale), it seems to go on forever. But if you go some way larger or smaller in scale, the view is the same. So, it’s more like a circle.

      Not sure if this makes sense. Don’t worry if it doesn’t. That is why I am using the story device of going Through the Looking Glass…to take the edge off the abstractions.

      Great to hear from you, Pete!

      Best, Don

  2. Andrew

    Spiritual teachers spend entire books trying to explain how we bring our own interpretation to things and events we encounter. That hot dog cart equation is the clearest explanation I’ve ever seen. Had I seen that a few years back it would have saved me a lot of trouble. Ha.

    • Hi Andrew! Thanks so much! You have no idea what positive reinforcement you’ve provided for me to keep trudging through explaining Taimni’s very far-out ideas! Best wishes, Don

  3. kashyap vasavada

    Nice article Don! Just some little corrections on physics of waves which are probably inadvertent typos. In Fig. 4 what you have written as frequency is actually wavelength (distance between consecutive peaks)
    In the paragraph below that
    ” Frequency is pitch (this is OK)” “and represented by how many waves fit in a given distance” (not correct). That is wavelength.If you take snapshot of a wave at a certain time, you can see wavelength as distance between the peaks. But to understand frequency you have to observe a moving wave, Frequency would be no of waves (say crests) passing a given point per second.Then frequency x wavelength =speed of the wave.To be precise, phase is an angle, but in a qualitative discussion it is ok to call it a distance.
    As for fractals you have already emphasized that it is static and wave is a dynamic,moving phenomenon.
    BTW you may have seen the big debate on Sean Carroll’s blog about divinity , more than 456 comments now! People are mainly arguing about Christianity and Resurrection. I am also participating mainly from a Hindu perspective!
    Cheers!
    kashyap

    • Hi Kashyap! That is very kind of you to “peer review” my mistakes! Thank you so much! I hope my corrections rectify the errors. Although I am using the concepts less formally than normal, I still want to be correct. I am certainly in intellectual territory that is not my expertise. In addition, the ideas of Taimni that I am trying to explain are highly unusual. He is the only author I have found who had tried to express the ancient Indian ideas in these terms. His knowledge of physics was classical, at best. I am only slightly more advanced in my understanding. My goal is to explain his ideas the best I can in the hopes that someone better informed than me may be able to take his ideas even further. Again, Kashyap, thank you for the helpful feedback!

      Unfortunately, I’ve been ill the past week and so am apparently missing all the fun over at Carroll’s blog. I must get over there asap and see what people are saying.

      Very best wishes,

      Don

  4. kashyap vasavada

    Hi Don: I forgot to mention that in Fig.4 arrow on amplitude should be from baseline 0 to the peak and not from top to bottom.The way it is now would make your amplitude twice as big as the usual one.
    OK keep up the good work!
    kashyap

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