Saturday, December 26, 2009

Cosmic Bubble Consciousness

The bubble plays a pivotal role in the cosmology charted by Meher Baba’s God Speaks: The Theme of Creation and Its Purpose (1955).[1] The book, dedicated “To the Universe—the Illusion that sustains Reality,” describes the total process of the cosmos, comprising the evolution and involution of consciousness through the gross, subtle, and mental worlds. This process begins in an inexplicable urge identified as “the whim” (10), an impulse of Reality or God to know itself that operates as an infinitely answerable question, “Who am I?” (78).[2] The purpose of this process, the answer to the question for the sake of which anything is happening at all, is described in the book’s conclusion as follows:

To understand the infinite, eternal Reality is not the GOAL of individualized beings in the Illusion of Creation, because the Reality can never be understood; it is to be realized by conscious experience. Therefore, the GOAL is to realize the Reality and attain the “I am God” state in human form.[3]

The bubble makes this incredible goal achievable. From the very bubbling forth of individualized consciousness into its early gas and mineral forms, and throughout its inexorable evolution via plant, animal, and human bodies, to its eventual involution within the subtle and mental worlds, existence is essentially bubbular. “You are all souls, not bodies. Picture yourself as drops, and your body as bubbles inside the ocean. Now, each of you drops sees neither your own drop-state nor the drop-state of others. You see your own bubbles and bubbles of others, and this large bubble of the world.”[4] So Meher Baba explained at a gathering in May 1943, during discussion of the “Divine Theme” chart, later printed in the Supplement to God Speaks.


The chart (Fig. 1) shows the evolution and involution of consciousness as a progressive development through increasingly intelligent and self-aware bubbles. As the means of this development, the bubble is the universal form whereby Reality is sustained by Illusion. The fluid nexus of the mysterious relation between cosmos and individual, ocean and drop, the bubble is endowed with a kind of slippery absolute instrumentality. So Meher Baba explains with regard to the “Ten States of God” chart (Fig. 2), also included in the Supplement:

Imagine the infinitely unconscious God state A, before the Creation came into being, as motionless infinite ocean. A puff of wind then stirred the tranquil uniformity of this ocean, and immense waves, countless drops of water, and innumerable bubbles appeared from out of the uniformity of the limitless, infinite ocean. The puff of wind that set the ocean into commotion may be compared to the impulse of the infinite, original urge-to-know originating with the infinite, orginal whim of God, surging in God to know Himself through His infinite God State II. The stir on the surface of the ocean, caused by the infinite urge, surcharged every drop of that infinite ocean with the infinite urge-to-know itself. Thus Paramatma [Over-Soul] in His infinitely unconscious state A, being urged to know Himself, simultaneously bestirs the tranquil poise of every atma [soul] in Paramatma with an urge to know itself. This could only be understood when Paramatma is compared to an infinite ocean and the atmas to the drops of that infinite ocean. But it must also be well noted that every drop of the ocean, when in the ocean, is ocean itself, until the drops inherit individuality through bubble formations over the surface of the ocean. Every bubble thus formed would then bestow a separate and a particular individuality upon every drop. And this created separateness would exist with the uniform indivisibility of the drops of the infinite ocean as long as these bubbles creating separateness exist. As soon as the bubbles burst, the drops, which are and were already in the ocean itself, come to realize that they are and were one with the infinite ocean; and they gain this consciousness of the eternal infinity in the infinite ocean only after they first experience separateness and then dispel the bubbles of ignorance that were instrumental in bestowing upon them the experience of their apparent separateness from their inherent indivisibility.[5]


Nietzsche understood that “all our so-called consciousness is a more or less fantastic commentary on an unknown, perhaps unknowable, but felt text.”[6] Gershom Scholem saw that “not system but commentary is the legitimate form through which truth is approached.”[7] Meher Baba’s bubble radically fulfills the intersection of these principles on a cosmic scale, defining the experience of each being, and the universe itself, as an ever-expanding and absolutely unique commentary producing the infinite truth of the self it encircles. So, rather than further explanation of what exceeds understanding, I offer a short catena, a medieval form of commentary that, like Walter Benjamin’s Passagenwerk, leaves its reader wonderfully and perfectly at sea.[8]

A somewhat surprising application of fermentation to cosmology . . .
—Walter Pagel, describing Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz’s Hypothesis physica nova (1671), wherein “divine ether is made to penetrate the major part of matter, which becomes the earth, and to be enclosed in bullae [bubbles]”[9]

Unicorns do not exist, but a soap bubble would burst were it punctured by a unicorn horn.
—John Heil, From An Ontological Point of View[10]

And even to me, one who likes life, it seems butterflies and soap bubbles and whatever is of their kind among human beings know most about happiness.
—Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra[11]

There will be no social solution to the present situation. First, because the vague aggregate of social milieus, institutions, and individualized bubbles that is called, with a touch of
antiphrasis, “society,” has no consistency.
—The Invisible Committee, The Coming Insurrection[12]

The innocent cruelty; the opaque monstrosity of eyes scarcely distinguishable from the little bubbles that form on the surface of mud; the horror as integral to life as light is to a tree.
—Georges Bataille, Encyclopedia Acephalica, s.v. “Metamorphosis”[13]

. . . these and many other instances which could be given prove that indeed the personal consciousness is but a bubble floating on the tide of Being, and liable, at any moment of strong emotion, to be swept into nothingness.
—Oliver H. P. Smith, “Evolution and Consciousness,” The Monist 9 (1899): 231

The devout soul is a fountain which glides and flows, and which ever springs up anew, because it is renewed in God. It never ceases to bubble forth, and break out in love for Him, to swell for its own needs, and to expand itself in affection for its neighbor.
—Richard of Saint Victor[14]

The bubble was formed from water, in water it disappears.
—‘Abd al-Quddus[15]

But elsewhere, deeper in the granite, are there certain chambers that have no entrances? Chambers never unsealed since the arrival of the gods. Local report declares that these exceed in number those that can be visited, as the dead exceed the living—four hundred of them, four thousand or million. Nothing is inside them, they were sealed up before the creation of pestilence or treasure; if mankind grew curious and excavated, nothing, nothing would be added to the sum of good or evil. One of them is rumoured within the boulder that swings on the summit of the highest of the hills; a bubble-shaped cave that has neither ceiling nor floor, and mirrors its own darkness in every direction infinitely.
—E. M. Forster, A Passage to India[16]

. . . that last amorphous blight of nethermost confusion which blasphemes and bubbles at the center of all infinity
—H. P. Lovecraft, The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath[17]

Animals and plants come into being in earth and in liquid because there is water in earth, and air in water, and in all air is vital heat so that in a sense all things are full of soul. Therefore living things form quickly whenever this air and vital heat are enclosed in anything. When they are so enclosed, the corporeal liquids being heated, there arises as it were a frothy bubble.
—Aristotle, On the Generation of Animals[18]

As in the multiple worlds view, the spacetime sheet separates into two opposing curvatures, resulting in a ‘bubble’ or ‘blister’ in underlying reality.
—Stewart R. Hameroff and Jonathan Powell, “The Conscious Connection: A Psycho-Physical Bridge Between Brain and Pan-Experiential Quantum Geometry,” in Mind That Abides: Panpsychism in the New Millenium (2009)[19]

Wave, sea and bubble, all three are one
—Shah Nimatullah Wali[20]


NOTES

[1] Meher Baba, God Speaks: The Theme of Creation and Its Purpose, 2nd ed. (New York: Dodd, Mead & Co., 1973).
[2] Ibid., 10, 78. On the original whim, see also Meher Baba, “The Whim from Beyond,” in Beams (San Francisco: Sufism Reoriented, 1958), 7-11.
[3] Ibid., 202, original emphasis.
[4] Bhau Kalchuri, Meher Prabhu: The Biography of Avatar Meher Baba, 14 vols. (Myrtle Beach, SC: Manifestation, 1980), 8.2885.
[5] Meher Baba, God Speaks, 182-3. See also God Speaks, 156-8; The Everything and the Nothing (Beacon Hill, Australia: Meher House Publications, 1963), 70; Infinite Intelligence (North Myrtle Beach, SC: Sheriar Foundation, 2005), 83-4, 218-20, 428-30.
[6] Friedrich Nietzsche, Daybreak: Thoughts on the Prejudices of Morality, ed. Maudemarie Clark and Brian Leiter (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), 76.
[7] Gershom Scholem, “Tradition and Commentary as Religious Categories in Judaism,”Judaism 15 (1966): 23-39.
[8] Walter Benjamin’s “ideal was a book that would eliminate all commentary and consist in nothing but quotations” (Fran├žoise Meltzer, “Acedia and Melancholia,” in Walter Benjamin and the Demands of History, ed. Michael P. Steinberg [Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1996], 162). Why? Because “in citation old and new are brought into simultaneity” (Eva Geulen, “Counterplay: Benjamin,” chapter 4 of The End of Art: Readings in a Rumour After Hegel, trans. James McFarland [Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2006], 87): “To the traditionalizing effects of commentary, Benjamin . . . opposes the citation as shock, which shatters the continuum and which does not resolve itself in any solution of continuity; and, on the other hand, the citation as montage . . . in which the fragments come into connection in order to form a constellation intelligible to the present” (Phillipe Simay, “Tradition as Injunction: Benjamin and the Critique of Historicisms,” in Walter Benjamin and History, ed. Andrew Benjamin [London: Continuum, 2005], 147).
[9] Walter Pagel, Joan Baptista Van Helmont: Reformer of Science and Medicine (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985), 85.
[10] John Heil, From An Ontological Point of View (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003), 221.
[11] Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, trans. Adrian Del Caro (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), 28.
[12]
[13] Georges Bataille, Encyclopedia Acephalica: Comprising the Critical Dictionary and Related Texts, trans. Iain White (London: Atlas, 1996).
[14] Richard Frederick Littledale, A Commentary on the Song of Songs, from Ancient and Medieval Sources (London: Joseph Masters, 1869), 192.
[15] Cited from Scott Alan Kugle, Sufis & Saints’s Bodies: Mysticism, Corporeality, & Sacred Power in Islam (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2007), 246.
[16] E. M. Forster, A Passage to India (Orlando: Harcourt, 1984), 136
[17] The Dreams in the Witchhouse and Other Weird Stories (New York: Penguin, 2004), 156.
[18] Trans. Arthur Platt <>.
[19] Ed. David Skrbina (Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2009), 117.
[20] Cited from Leonard Lewisohn, The Heritage of Sufism, Volume II: The Legacy of Mediaeval Persian Sufism (1150-1500) (Oxford: Oneworld Publications, 1999), xviii.

1 comment:

amarilla said...

Your post brought this to mind.
Sort of has the feeling of the Unisphere, I think.