Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Polls Archive 33 - Could I Meet My Incarnation?

A direct link to the above video is at

Poll 33 - "If, as Einstein said, the distinction between past present and future is only an illusion, then I could meet another incarnation of myself right now." Poll ended February 12, 2009 - 54% agreed while the remainder disagreed.

Last poll, I remarked upon how instructive these polls can be for me - for instance, I would have thought the idea that "time is a direction, not a dimension" would have gotten a lot of people to agree, since it's central to this way of visualizing reality, but that poll came in with very similar results to this current one. On the other hand, I would have thought that the idea that one could meet an incarnation of themselves right now would have seen more disagreement, since this is one of the more unusual ideas from my project. 54% of the visitors to this forum are willing to agree with that notion? I'm pleasantly surprised.

This is one of those ideas that occurred to me many years ago as an extension to my way of visualizing the dimensions of reality stacked one upon another, a concept that I had been showing to anyone who would listen for the last twenty-five years or so. Back in 2002, I wrote about 50 songs that explored the tangents that come from this way of visualizing reality, with the plan that I would pick my favorites and record a CD. I was also thinking that I would write a little booklet to accompany the CD in which I would explain how this "new way of thinking about time and space" tied all of the songs together.

When I actually got around to writing the CD booklet in 2005, it grew to 220 pages, and that "new way of thinking" eventually became my popular 11-minute animation which has been seen by millions of people around the world. Since the book's publication in 2006 my songs have become somewhat secondary to the project, which is fine, but I believe there are still ways that song lyrics can make these ideas more accessible. One of the 26 songs I attached to this project is called "Connections". The last verse of that song went like this:

I think I met myself today
I think I saw my eyes
Another me in another body
Livin another life
Likewise, with my song "Burn the Candle Brightly", I was thinking about the patterns representing us that carry on after death:
So when this journey is over
And that beautiful spark is finally gone
We can see that the vessel is empty
But we know that the light carries on
... and my song "Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep" also talks about this idea from the first person perspective:
Now I lay me down to sleep
To rest my weary head
If I should die in slumber deep
Remember what I said

It’s not the end of the world
It’s not the end of the dream
It’s just the end of a body
Not the end of a soul
One of the books I've referred to a number of times in this blog is Douglas Hofstadter's "I Am a Strange Loop". Let me quote a few paragraphs from this enlightening and inspiring book, much of which is about the structures and forms that create the mysterious "I" of consciousness. In the latter part of the book, though, he expands these ideas into what it means to have a representation of other people - your spouse, your children, your parents, a very close friend - held within those same structures. Specifically, how much of that can be thought of as being an actual part of what it is that makes that person uniquely who they are? And if any part can be thought of in that way to any degree, then what happens when the real person dies? Hofstadter writes:
The bond created between two people who are married for a long time is often so tight and powerful that upon the death of either one of them, the other one very soon dies as well. And if the other survives, it is often with the horrible feeling that half of their soul has been ripped out. In happier days, during the marriage, the two partners of course have individual interests and styles, but at the same time a set of common interests and styles starts to build up, and over time a new entity starts to take shape.
And later on...
The following should be a much easier question (although I think it is not actually easier). What was the nature of the "Holden Caulfield symbol" in J. D. Salinger's brain during the period when he was writing Catcher in the Rye? That structure was all there ever was to Holden Caulfield -- but it was so, so rich. Perhaps that symbol wasn't as rich as a full human soul, but Holden Caulfield seems like so much of a person, with a true core, a true soul, a true personal gemma, even if only a "miniature" one. You couldn't ask for a richer representation, a richer mirroring, of one person inside another person, than whatever constitutued the Holden Caulfield symbol inside Salinger's brain.
In my own book, I suggest that what each of us think of as our unique "soul" is actually a large and interconnected set of memes, some of which rise and fall in prominence over a lifetime, and memes by their very definition are patterns of information that exist across space and time, connecting together in ways that are beyond the physical limitations of the world we see around us. This leads me to some conclusions that are related to what Mr. Hofstadter is talking about, but I go a little further out on the same conceptual limb:
Here’s another way to look at this idea: if each of us has a unique soul, where are all the new souls coming from? Our planet’s population has exploded in numbers, so there must be new “soul material” being created from somewhere (if there really are only a certain number of souls allocated to this planet, then the chances of any one of us being the reincarnate soul of a person who lived here in the last few thousand years are approaching the chances of winning a lottery!).
In the New Age community, theories abound regarding what that source of all those new souls might be. All of those theories may be held within the version of reality that we are advancing here: if our soul is a conglomeration of memes that exist outside of time, then other versions of that soul could exist in other universes, in other locations within our universe, in other parts of the history and future of our universe, and even right now in other parts of our own world. The idea that it’s possible to meet another incarnation of yourself right now may take some getting used to, but it is an important aspect of the version of reality we are exploring.
And later on:
It may appear, then, that if we imagine a particular meme that has existed since the perceived beginning of our universe, collapsing a specific version of reality out of the wave of potential universes through the act of its observation, that we are imagining an aspect of the Creator-God. But there is a second way to view this puzzle. Could the feeling of “self” that each of us holds within us also be “just geometry”? In other words, what if this interlocking web of memes were exactly like the interlocking web of physical realities implied by the Many Worlds theory? This would mean that the potential for all ways of viewing the world, and the potential for all the different systems that we think of as being our own soul, are also held within an indeterminate wave of potential at the tenth dimension that has always existed, and will always exist.
In entries like Everyone Has a Story, Being More Fifth-Dimensional, You are Me and We are All Together, The Big Bang and the Big O, and Going to the Light I've continued my exploration of how ideas from cosmology and philosophy, from science and spirituality, can be blended together into an understanding of our reality which embraces a timeless perspective. Once we've arrived at an appreciation of the timelessness that exists outside of our spacetime, an enfolded symmetry state from which our universe or any other arises, it becomes easier to think about how it really could be possible to meet another person right now who is basically you, living another life, in another body, experiencing the world with their own unique perspective but intimately connected through those underlying information patterns which exist outside of spacetime.

Other recent blogs about enfolded symmetry:
Dreaming of Electric Sheep
Imagining the Omniverse
We Start with a Point
A Point within the Omniverse
"t" Equals Zero
Going to the Light
The Invariant Set
Illusions and Reality

To finish, here's one of the songs we quoted from above: "Burn the Candle Brightly".

A direct link to the above video is at

Enjoy the journey!

Rob Bryanton

Next - Polls Archive 34 - God? Or the Multiverse?

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