The Quantum Self
In the last couple of posts I neglected also to mention that Dana Zohar’s The Quantum Self, and her follow up book The Quantum Society, also point to the Daemon as emergent consciousness structure. I regret that I have only skimmed these books so I can’t really comment on them as yet, but only to point out the new efforts to revision mind and society in terms of the cosmos described by quantum physics. There isn’t as yet a “quantum psychology” (or a “quantum biology“) except what is being described as a “proto-science”.
In this post, though, I want to take a stab at it in connection with the meaning of “the Daemon” and time. I see that the December edition of Scientific American has a “special collector’s edition” devoted to time called “A Matter of Time: It begins, it ends, it’s real, it’s an illusion. It’s the ultimate paradox.” The title alone summarises our present confusion about time, particularly as being “the ultimate paradox”.
It’s right here, in our grappling with time, that we are at the centre of the issue of the “mutation” in consciousness. To account for the anomalies in our experience of time, “many-minds” and “probable selves” theories have been proposed as quantum psychological counterparts to the “many-worlds” and “probable universes” interpretations of quantum reality, so this must be considered part of that “irruption” of the integral consciousness anticipated by Gebser, amongst others.
I’ve taken to calling that new consciousness structure “the Daemon” after William Irwin Thompson’s usage. As he put it in “From Nation to Emanation“, the Daemon is “the integral being of all one’s incarnations”, corresponding therefore to the core “identity” that Seth likewise calls “the You of you”, or what has been referenced in the various Wisdom Traditions as “the true self” as that transcendent something “beyond” or “behind” or “beneath” the ego-consciousness. In effect, “many-minds” and “probable selves” interpretations of consciousness are references to this implicit Daemon that is now making itself explicit.
But, if time is illusory (which seems so contrary to our actual experience) how does one explain the Daemon as the sum of one’s “incarnations”? If Thompson is speaking of re-incarnation, the doctrine of re-incarnation or “transmigration of the soul” becomes somewhat problematic if time is an illusion. And if not only time but also matter is empty, what could “incarnate” possibly mean? What does it mean to be “incarnate” as “embodied awareness”?
Here we are touching upon the root paradox of time in the form of Jean Gebser’s “ever-present origin”. It is intelligible and interpretable if one is prepared to accept that outside the framework of the physical system, time has no meaning. Moreover, a very large part of our full awareness is not focussed in the physical system at all or exclusively in human form, for being infinite (formless) it cannot fully enter into or participate in the finite (form). This is the gist of Blake’s vision of “Eternity in the hour” and “Eternity in love with the productions of time” and the coincidence of the infinite within the finite — the “universe in a grain of sand”.
If that’s the case, how do we resolve this paradox of the Daemon as being the “integral being of all one’s incarnations” if there is no real precession and succession of times? It is also one of those strange facts that Einstein, who disclosed time as the fourth dimension, also believed that time was merely a “stubborn illusion”. So, our confusion about time is rather thorough — something we would prefer to explain away rather than explain.
I think it’s pretty clear that to resolve the paradox of “incarnations” and timelessness one has to hold these “incarnations” as probable selves following the threads of their own lives in numberless probable time worlds, all of which exist at once. The Daemon is this tapestry. The “you” that is reading these lines here and now is one such probable self living out its life as a thread in a greater tapestry of threads each within their own time-frameworks but which, nonetheless, all co-exist at once. The various “selves” of your dreams are such threads living in multiple realities simultaneously and acting within those time horizons as semi-autonomous entities. The Daemon would be the composite awareness of all of them, the sum of their collective experience. “This being human is a guest house”, says Rumi. “A human being is a mountain range”.
That sounds pretty fantastical, actually. What possible evidence is there for any of that?
I don’t think it’s impenetrable. You actually experience that multidimensionality or multiformity of your consciousness in your dreams. You are a plurality. You are never one self, and yet there is a continuity of identity through all your dreaming selves as you “drop in”, as it were, into different threads and dream scenarios.
After his famous “leap into the abyss”, Castaneda expressed his maximum surprise in discovering that he wasn’t one “self” at all, but a veritable “city of selves”, each following the logic of its own development. Seth refers to this as the “multidimensionality of consciousness”, and I see no reason to consider this different from what Thompson calls the sum of one’s “incarnations” or what a quantum psychologist would call “probable selves” or the “many-minds” approach.
The “Daemon” would be that which lives and acts in multiple identities or time threads at once and which knows itself as the whole. So, it is not an issue of “successions”. Time represents no hindrance, nor obstacle, nor resistance, nor barrier to its expression. To our way of thinking, it can move backwards and forwards through time as if time wasn’t there at all. And that’s one of the notable things about investigations into “the unconscious”. The so-called “unconscious” is completely indifferent to time. It treats the limitations of time as being completely irrelevant.
That’s the basis for Gebser’s own anticipation of the integral consciousness structure as “time-freedom”. It’s the master of times because it is not bound by time in the first place, as the ego-consciousness is bound to time and is a creature of time. Logically, that which does not participate in time is never born and therefore never dies. And yet, we are born and we die.
Einstein believed that time was merely a “stubborn illusion” and was suspicious of the quantum explanation. The quantum paradox is that all times exist at once, continuing in their own thread. But that basically amounts to the same thing in the end. Just different sides of the same coin.