Monday, October 10, 2016

Regarding Magical Models - Part Six

This is Part Six in a series. Part One can be found here, Part Two can be found here, Part Three can be found here, Part Four can be found here, and Part Five can be found here.

In last week's article, I mentioned that I had not yet explored how the idea of spirits can be handled within a quantum information model of magick. Over the last week, there has been some discussion on the blogosphere regarding the natures of gods and spirits, so it seems to me that this is as good a time as any to explore the concept more fully.

I'm going to start off with an argument put forth by early quantum physicist Ludwig Boltzmann dubbed a "Boltzmann Brain" by modern physicists. Boltzmann argued that since the quantum physics rendered the second law of thermodynamics as a statistical rather than absolute principle, and since quantum fluctuation was happening all the time across an effectively infinite universe, it was a real possibility that self-aware entities could emerge from that fluctuation despite its randomness.

Boltzmann's math does work, but most modern quantum physicists consider the idea a paradox. From Wikipedia:

The paradox states that if one considers the probability of our current situation as self-aware entities embedded in an organized environment versus the probability of stand-alone self-aware entities existing in a featureless thermodynamic "soup", then the latter should be vastly more probable than the former.

That is, the math suggests that from a statistical standpoint, there should be many more disembodied self-aware entities in our universe than there are human beings. Modern quantum physicists point out that our day-to-day experience in no way suggests that our universe is in fact populated by disembodied intelligences...

...and I'm going to stop right there, since I'm writing for an audience of magicians who know better. Dealings with disembodied entities have been an enormous part of every human culture from long before the dawn of what we consider modern civilization. Not only that, our day-to-day experiences as magical practitioners suggest that our world most definitely is populated with such entities. We call them spirits. We work with them all the time.

So for a magician, the only paradox within Boltzmann's argument is that non-magicians have difficulty perceiving spirits and do not realize what is going on when spirits interact with them. They are difficult to detect in general, since for the most part they can exert only weak direct effects on the physical world. At the same time, the more powerful ones can influence probabilities in a dramatic fashion.

Now the caveat here is that Boltzmann's argument depends upon the existence of highly, practically arbitrarily complex structures within the general quantum information field, as does my entire model. We know that so far, we've been able to entangle 216 particles in the laboratory, and that's a far cry from a self-aware intelligence. Just because of Boltzmann, quantum physics does not "prove" the existence of spirits.

At any rate, according to my quantum information model, spirits emerge directly from quantum fluctuations, and the space they inhabit is within the quantum information field that holds the universe together. They are weakly tethered to the physical world, but primarily exist as self-reinforcing, highly complex information structures. According to the model, human consciousness is made of the exact same stuff - it just is more tightly coupled to our physical bodies.

Human consciousness can manipulate probabilities too, as the PEAR research shows. Spirits, though, are for the most part limited to probability manipulation as their sole means of interaction - that is, they are most quantum information, and influence everything on the "information side" of the equation. By doing this, they can shift how matter moves without directly influencing it by means of physical force.

At this point, if you aren't familiar with it, you probably should review this article. I'm not going to re-hash the whole thing, but rather elaborate on it, and my current thoughts are pretty much the same as they were back when I first posted it.

According to my model, consciousness holds itself together based on a principle that Ervin Laszlo defined as "coherence" in The Connectivity Hypothesis. Coherence has two properties, consistency and self-referentiality. A field is highly coherent if (A) no two regions of the field are in conflict, and (B) the field is "turned back" on itself in such a way that it is fully capable of apprehending its own processing on a moment by moment basis.

Consistency prevents the field from breaking down, and self-referentiality means that, in effect, some portion of the field's cognition is always fixed upon its own fundamental nature. Since fixed thought can shift probabilities, the combination of these two processes creates a self-aware field that can be self-sustaining, potentially indefinitely.

In short, this is an immortal soul, which is the same thing as a spirit once the physical body with which it is associated undergoes physical death. Virtually all of the world's spiritual practices can be boiled down to cultivating coherence within the consciousness of practitioners. Internal consistency has a lot to do with the congruence of thoughts, words, and actions - in effect, personal integrity. Most of the religious rules set down throughout history can be thought of in that way as well.

Dishonesty not only consumes internal processing, but it divides the mind. In order to be a successful liars, most confidence artists have to keep all manner of stories straight in their minds. Maintaining those lies over time, then, puts a great deal of stress upon one's field of consciousness. And none of that is necessary if dishonesty is done away with, so your field of consciousness can be more consistent.

Self-referentiality can be cultivated by practices such as meditation, which engage the faculty by which your field of consciousness observes itself. This cultivates what Buddhists call the enlightened mind, and what Christians call metanoia. They are essentially the same phenomenon, just rendered into sectarian terminology. Basically what I'm talking about is meta-cognition, which is a pretty good literal translation of "metanoia." This is your capacity to observe the dynamics of your own mind and how it operates.

Likewise, devotional practices can help accomplish this goal as well. If a Christian, for example, meditates upon devotion to Jesus Christ, the result is a mind that is focussed on the form of the archetypal union of God and human being. Some of the more New-Agey Christians out there have referred to this as "Christ consciousness," which is actually pretty accurate. As another example, in Vajrayana Buddhism the practice is similar, except that the objects of meditation are various Buddhas to whom particular attributes are ascribed.

So the upshot of this is that you have to do your own spiritual work. Nobody can do it for you, regardless of what any faith tradition teaches. That means if you are a Christian, you're not going to be "saved" just by attending church and going through the motions. You need to cultivate real personal integrity, real self-awareness, and real devotion.

Now the big argument on the blogosphere this week is whether or not "demons" and "pagan gods" are the same thing. It should be reasonably clear from the above that to some extent, the answer is yes because a spirit is a spirit. But at the same time, some of the conclusions that are being drawn from that "yes" strike me as somewhat in error, or at least incomplete.

The Christian authors of the grimoires clearly did shoehorn some pagan deities into their schemas of "demons," based on simplistic univalent Christian theology that defines everything Christian as of God and everything else as of the Devil. Still, in my experience what you get is something of a mixed bag. Some of the "demons" appear to be far more powerful than others, and only a subset of them seem to rise to the level of "god" in terms of their abilities.

The idea that gods are neither chthonic nor celestial, but instead include aspects of both, has been well-documented in many mystical traditions. But my experience also tells me that there are spirits out there that are basically entirely celestial and others that are entirely chthonic. To insist that all spirits are gods, and therefore all spirits have both celestial and chthonic aspects, strikes me as incorrect.

A classic example can be found in Agrippa's planetary system. You have an "intelligence" and a "spirit," and one way to model that dichotomy is to treat the intelligence as celestial and the spirit as cthonic. They are not, in my experience, one entity with different aspects, but rather independent beings. This lines up with the experience of most other planetary magicians I know as well.

Human beings can work with both aspects, and perhaps that could be considers as the difference between a god and a run-of-the-mill spirit. Under such a possible schema, spirits would be limited to one polarity or the other, while gods would be more complete beings that include at least one aspect related to each. This also explains their greater power - if the celestial and cthonic polarities work like an anode and a cathode, you need both to build the magical equivalent of a circuit.

Then, if a spirit can in some fashion evolve into a god over time, that might explain why they work with us at all. Just like a human meditating upon a form can cultivate that form within his or her sphere of consciousness, a spirit whose nature is of one polarity might be able to develop a comprehension of the other by connecting with a human, who embodies both.

This is akin to an old argument put forth by some of the medieval grimoire magicians - that by working with humans, it was possible for demons to experience and the possibility of salvation. While that renders the idea back into the limited terms of Christian theology, the idea is essentially the same as that of the previous paragraph.

I've long considered the split between monotheism and polytheism to be largely a matter of perspective. If you work with "God" is the entire field of quantum information (that is, consciousness) that pervades the universe, taken as a whole, you are a monotheist. If you work with particular manifestations of that universal consciousness, such as powerful spiritual beings, you are a polytheist. And, I think, the best magick may very well involve both.

Univalence is the essential problem in modern religion, which I try to call fundamentalist Christians out on all the time here on Augoeides. The minute you fall into the idea that the monotheistic approach is real and the polytheistic approach is fake or evil, you basically lose the plot. Either is valid, they both have their advantages, and it probably is true that a non-magician doesn't necessarily need to delve into both, but rather can pick the one that inspires their spiritual practices the most.

The point is to do the work, not to follow one particular system. At its base, a religion should be a system that facilitates spiritual experience. To do that, it needs to teach practices that cultivate coherence, since as the coherence of your field of consciousness increases, the greater the probability of such experiences occurring. This is where "salvation" comes from - the transcending of material limitations by cultivating the mind's ability to sustain itself.

The big takeaway here from a magical model perspective is that the existence of spirits as manifestations of consciousness contradicts both the macrocosmic and microcosmic psychological models, the spirit-only model, and the energy-only model. It is still consistent with spirit-plus and and actually says little about energy itself, only that magick can be performed by other means than the cultivation and projection of personal spiritual energy.

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