In this book I am exploring models of the universe that include mind. Although my framing is the physical universe--the Big-Bang-actuated space-time continuum--my context is All That Is, meaning anything-anywhere, most of which will not look like the night sky or a meadow in Nebraska.
How did a state of consciousness that we all subjectively experience become part of a universe conceived of as entirely material? It’s either there in its own right or it’s an epiphenomenon without ontological implication; it’s a by-product of brain chemistry or a primary constituent of reality.
I am asking (in effect), which is more fundamental: the existence of an objective physical universe or our subjective experience of it? What’s at stake are (1) the nature of life itself, (2) the nature of life arising from RNA or DNA molecules, (the only form--to date--Earth scientists officially both recognize and know), (3) the nature of human life (the only DNA-based life that interrogates its own existence), (4) the nature, origin, and basis of an ambient universe that provides life forms (and everything else) their inception, (5) the meaning of personal experience in that universe.
Second, I am exploring nonlocal modes of consciousness, not systematically but as a clue to the riddle of personal identity.
Third, I am limning Sethian cosmology, using Seth’s own words from the 1970s and Jane Roberts’ and John Friedlander’s interpretations of them. Some of the more far-out propositions in this book--far-out by scientific or conventional spiritual viewpoints--are “Seth” more than me. I don’t identify his system in every instance, but it is one of my subtexts.
Seth still serves as our singular interdimensional philosopher, but who or what is he, and what is the status of Jane Roberts’ channelings of him? As Robert Butts, Jane’s husband and transcriber, put it, “[I]f Seth-Jane are at all right, then consciousness is more than encompassing enough to embrace all that we are, and everything that each of us can even remotely conceive of doing or being. . . .”
Fourth, if it isn’t clear from the above, I am challenging modernity’s paradigm--that the material world is the single pavilion and protocol for reality.
Some of you may believe that matter is the only real thing, but do you even know what matter is--or what a unified field would look like if consciousness were given its place proportionate to mass, gravity, and heat?
Two things stand against reductionist materialism:
First, the universe doesn’t bottom out as matter but turns into something else. Electron microscopes and cyclotrons discover no statutory source. Instead of bottoming out, quarks and preons dissipate into energy, curvature, strings, quantum fields, whatever scientists choose to call it.
Guess what? Post-Newtonian physics with its self-immolating quarks is the physics of a mirage. Materialists know this, but they don’t believe it.
Second, consciousness that witnesses itself as consciousness does not fit any unified field theory of physics. I’m not saying that physicists don’t get out the shoehorn and make it fit. I am saying they do.
My title Bottoming Out the Universe is awkward in that it is both a hyperbole and a double entendre. It is a hyperbole because the universe cannot be bottomed out. We can’t even bottom out the Earth or an atomic particle, so how can we bottom out the entire thing? Bottoming out makes sense only in terms of a unified field of gravity, mass, and space-time relativity and because the paradigmatic universe began in a single event, an implosion that has been bottoming itself out since (thirteen-billion-plus years, though our native clock is a latecomer).
So, the vastness is also a singularity.
As for the double entendre, my meaning is the transitive one: to “bottom out,” as in to send a bucket on a cable into a well to snatch some of the gunk at its bottom, except that the well is matter itself and the bucket is a cyclotron, a quantum-tunneling microscope, or a nano ladle or blade. The cable is mathematics and empirical science.
The gunk at the bottom is the primordial source--the original Frog’s Egg or Water-Lily Bud (as if there could even be such a thing in a universe of both formlessness and form). But the bucket is also consciousness, the cable is philosophy and psychic visioning, and the stuff at the bottom isn’t gunk or even matter but a spagyric mud that is as supraliminal as it is molecular.
Neither version of the well can be bottomed out, either by itself or in the context of the other. The universe does not bottom out as consciousness alone, and it does not bottom out in matter. In this book I won’t try for definitive bottoms, but I will give you new frames by which to view the riddle. This is where the second meaning comes in.
To “bottom out” is also to hit personal bottom, as in “skid row,” Ricky Nelson’s “Lonesome Town.” We have not only bottomed out the scientific model, we have bottomed out the technology arising from it as well as the social, political, and ecological outcomes of that technology. We have bottomed out as a species, as is evident from our failings in human equity, compassion for sentient beings, and stewardship of the common shore. We have lost the thread of civilizational meaning but persist in a mad dash through materiality and metric prosperity, spreading poverty, emptiness, and a great silence in our wake.
It is time to recognize the core paradox: we are bottomed out ourselves, yet falling through a bottomless, unbottomable void.