this is it
On coming to know the cosmic Consciousness, William James recounts an experience:
All at once, without warning of any kind, I found myself wrapped in a flame-colored cloud. For an instant I thought of fire, an immense conflagration somewhere close by in that great city; the next, I knew that the fire was within myself. Directly afterward there came upon me a sense of exultation, of immense joyousness accompanied or immediately followed by an intellectual illumination impossible to describe. Among other things, I did not merely come to believe, but I saw that the universe is not composed of dead matter, but is, on the contrary, a living Presence; I became conscious in myself of eternal life. It was not a conviction that I would have eternal life, but a consciousness that I possessed eternal life then; I saw that all men are immortal; that the cosmic order is such that without any peradventure all things work together for the good of each and all; that the foundation principle of the world, of all the worlds, is what we call love, and that the happiness of each and all is in the long run absolutely certain. The vision lasted a few seconds and was gone; but the memory of it and the sense of the reality of what it taught has remained during the quarter of a century which has since elapsed.
On happiness, from Dostoyevsky's The Possessed, Kirillov says:
Man is unhappy because he doesn't know he's happy. It's only that. That's all, that's all! If anyone finds out he'll become happy at once, that minute.… It's all good. I discovered it all of a sudden.
Here we are. This is it. We are some of the ways consciousness enjoys itself. There are innumerable other ways. We encounter them in every moment. And our interactions with them are still more ways consciousness enjoys itself.
Time is a way of looking at reality. We can take the eternal moment, forever now, and imagine the ring as a string. Measure it into lengths like the Fate Lachesis, and snip it into bits like her sister Atropos. Zip snip. Tick tock.
Consciousness is never bored. It keeps loving itself, and dreaming, and playing, and blissing out. War is bliss, pain is bliss, suffering is bliss, for these give meaning to peace, pleasure, and comfort.
Delusion is bliss. One of the beauties of free will is the freedom to lie, to deceive even ourselves. What grand tales we can tell, what yarns we can spin if we forget who we really are and dream up our egos. And you thought alter egos were fun. The original ones are just as fabricated and far more well developed. I am a writer, flâneur, a technologist, an entrepreneur, a son, a lover, a friend, a dancer. How much more interesting are these than the truth: that I am cosmic consciousness embodied in a single point of awareness imbued with attention to focus and intent to set, driven by ignorance and fueled by love to seek bliss with every breath!?
Yawn. Bor-ing. So boring in fact that many of the most powerful minds spend all of their brainpower looking for some other way It could be. The answer to how we got here must be out in the stars, they think. They scan the cosmic background radiation for evidence of how universes begin, how they grow, and where they end. They are getting further from the truth and they look farther from themselves.
And the particle smashers seek the building blocks of matter and energy only to find a domain of possibilities swimming with wave functions that only collapse and resolve out of uncertainty when a conscious observer pays attention. Even the vacuum, they find, is teeming with zero point energy that far exceeds the energy within the nucleus of an atom. The last time we blindly looked outside ourselves for meaning with all our collective might, we manifested the most powerful and destructive force yet experienced: nuclear fission. Pray we figure out who we are before we try to disassemble the Void, before we make a zero point weapon. It won't really matter one way or the other. Consciousness will continue being knowing enjoying itself even if we ignorant little drops insist on pulling back the curtain before we realize that this is Oz and we are the wizard.
Neuroscientists grow no closer to answering Chalmers' Hard Problem while they ignore their nature. Surely these inscrutable, frenetic lightning storms within our brains can explain our origin, if only we can decipher them. We build neural networks and artificial intelligence in silicon to prove to ourselves that we get It, that we grok our carbon computers. And yet we cannot even find our memories in our brains. Remove the hippocampus, we still can learn and remember. Sever the corpus collosum, divide the hemispheres, take one away, we still form memories. Similarly we cannot locate consciousness in the grey, white, or pink matter. Scoop out my pineal gland and I will still be me, here and now, as long as I am breathing. We know that we lose consciousness when we don't breathe. Sometimes we return from loss of consciousness, sometimes we don't. I have a few times, once after more than four minutes dead to the world. All I am certain of is I am the one who survives. And while you are conscious in this manifestation, this embodiment, you are too.
So what's the point? There's no progress to make, no brighter tomorrow to strive toward. There is no creator. We weren't made, we grew. All we have left to do is keep breathing and enjoy ourselves, or not, or anything else. From my perspective it really doesn't matter what you choose to do. You can pursue happiness, build a career, raise a family, or you can rain joy and terror upon whomever you imagine your friends and foes to be. I will be right here enjoying this eternal now, wondering at its ever-new, everlasting splendor. If I do anything else, I will spread love and breed bliss.