The human mind is on the constant lookout for similarities, ways that we can understand our existence through our experience. We love metaphors.
Thoughts arise. Some are the product of my focus or surroundings, but all percolate up from the brew on the other side of the space I have made for them–my consciousness.
I tend to consciously and deliberately make a lot of space for physics–the science of the fundamentals of existence. I have always been overcome with awe at the processes and pieces of both the largest and smallest expanses of reality. I am fascinated that we can even know it in the first place.
If there is one picture that represents the conceptualization of the universe, it has to be the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation (CMBR). This picture represents the oldest expanse of electromagnetic radiation in the universe, our first opportunity to get a picture of the universe.
The CMBR highlights some interesting things about the early universe. It is very smooth, but not perfectly so, it is a landscape of slight fissures where matter and energy are more likely to collect, and other areas where space is more likely to be empty. In its modern day representation, it looks like… an in-focus view of what I see when I sit and meditate on the picture behind my closed eyes.
Try it. At the end of this sentence, close your eyes and see if your mind-sky is completely dark, the absence of all light.
Okay, now that you are back with your eyes focused on the page, think about what you saw. Did you notice that there are places in your visual field with your eyes closed that were light? Almost like there were tiny micro-fissures in your eyelids that trapped light?
In a mostly light room or outside, the light may overwhelm the dark, and in a mostly dark room, the dark will likely overwhelm the light, but it’ll never be one or the other. The light won’t so much shimmer as tunnel, slowly making areas slightly lighter or losing luminescence and becoming darker. At other times, you can see superimposed images and have those change to three dimensional shapes inside the landscape of the fissures of light and darkness.
Indeed, if you asked me today, “what does consciousness look like?” one of my answers would surely be a faded, more-dark-than-light, black and purple picture of the cosmic microwave background radiation.
Having this metaphor gives me a soft-touch on not conceptualizing consciousness, but exploring the experience as it is. The space behind my closed eyes is a vast inner-verse, complete with changing foregrounds and backgrounds that I do not need to label or create, but that offer me opportunities to sit back and simply be.
The difference is–and this is not at all subtle when understood, but subtle to come to terms with–I am not exploring this inner-verse as a mindfulnaut on a voyage, I am exploring as the inner-verse. Where I am supposed to have a head, is instead this deep and dynamic landscape where superimposed images and thoughts all come together and make this rich formless space that only I can experience. This visual landscape is experienced the same as sounds and sensations, not something separate–objects to be studied by a subject–but a whole awareness.
The more we are able to see ourselves as this inner-verse and appreciate that others are their own similarly mysterious and magical kingdoms, we can grow into the dynamic space we were meant to fill.