(This is an excerpt from Presence of Mind: Journey to a New Operating System discussing Consciousness as a verb – a concept brought up by Deepak Chopra in last night’s live broadcast with Eckhart Tolle)
For my cat, an object or toy that is of absolutely no interest when stationary, becomes an item of intense examination and attraction when in motion. A hat dropped to the carpet, or a fake mouse tossed across the room elicits a spring into action and energetic attention.
David Bohm, a famed physicist and thinker, whose work attracted the admiration of both Einstein and Krishnamurti, suggested that our study of reality became flawed with its initial focus on things, or atomism.
Echoing some of Eckhart Tolle’s insights into the importance of both the structure as well as the content of thought, Bohm says that “the subject-verb structure of language, along with its world view, tends to impose itself very strongly in our speech, even in some cases where some attention would reveal its inappropriateness. For example, consider the sentence ‘it is raining.’
Where is the ‘It’ that would, according to the sentence, be doing the raining—in the same way we might suggest we are running?
Bohm suggests that it would be more accurate to say, rain is going on. And the same is true of running—the “I” is similarly an assumption.
Expanding on this concept, and bearing in mind the significance of the observer in quantum physics, Bohm goes on to say that our structural view of a separate observer and an observed object is similarly prejudiced by the language we use to consider its meaning.
In reality, according to Bohm, there is only a process of observing going on with whatever the object is – or may be doing.
Moreover he suggests a new experiment with language and thought he calls a “Rheomode” that puts the emphasis on the state of being – or the verb – rather than our structurally predisposed tendency to give primacy to the subject – a noun or a false sense of “I”.
Just rain is happening, running is happening, you are happening and I am happening, all as part of a greater complete Whole that Bohm calls the “Implicate Order,” and of which all of our thoughts and experiences are necessary fragmentations.
Above all, I would submit, Life is happening, and in many instances we operate under the illusion that we are in control. Occasionally, what happens may indeed correspond to our thoughts or expectations and we feel more powerful—the “I” which we assume to exist according to our mental conditioning takes the credit.
But what did the “I” actually “do” if the ego is a purely habitual mental construct? And what does this say about our negative emotions that pummel our inner “I” with rejection, humiliation and shame?
So, now that we also know that our own software mimics the activity of life on the level of genetic code—DNA is based on a set of coded instructions like software that tells genes how to express—let’s examine more closely what that actually means.
If we go back to the simple example of macro code cited earlier, which turns a rectangle red in Microsoft Word:
‘ red Macro
ActiveDocument.Shapes.AddShape(msoShapeRectangle, 93#, 43.5, 117.75, _
Selection.ShapeRange.Fill.ForeColor.RGB = RGB(192, 0, 0)
Selection.ShapeRange.Fill.Visible = msoTrue
What is “happening” here is that based on a user input (click of the mouse), a subroutine (sub) “named red” will “run,” executing this code in the same way the geneticist (Juan Enriquez) said that an apple executes its (DNA) code and falls from the tree.
Two active verbs form the basis of this simple subroutine—Selection, which puts the attention of the Program on the shape whose color will be changed, and Fill, the activity which will ensue based on the coded instructions.
But there is no Subject doing anything.
Fill is happening to the Selection.
It is the result of data processing (happening) just as Life is simply being.
Remember, this is how Life and DNA also “work.”
The difference here is that rather than “data process” with chemicals in our body, for example, like proteins and amino acids, in our macro this simple set of coded instructions works with a property of silicon that puts those concepts into action programmatically, in this case to create text and graphics on a page.
If we examine our own lives and the conditioning that shapes us, it turns out that our automatic functions (habits) work exactly like the macro described above.
If you can “be the scientist,” as suggested by my friend Michael Jeffreys, and observe yourself carefully, as my therapist had me do early on, you will see that changing a habit comes down to three essential steps, as outlined in The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, by Charles Duhigg.
Each habit has three components – a trigger, a routine and a reward.
Performing an experiment with life –like changing a habit –you find that these steps conform perfectly to a simple computer program like a macro:
First, in a macro, the trigger an “event”–is “On Mouseclick” — the routine has the same name in programming — subroutine — and the reward is getting the desired result—like filling the rectangle with a new color.
Like a habit, the programming macro lets you run the same program again and again with just one keystroke (trigger)).
The first step toward changing a habit or conditioned response is observation and noticing – and then altering the reward with something that provides the same feeling (fulfillment) but is not self-destructive.
But consider the meaning of this – changing the conditioned responses of your brain (and its structure—neuroplasticity) involves rewriting (or rewiring) internally coded instructions— inner alchemy is reprograming your software.
This ability to mimic life through the coded instructions of symbols or language is why I consider the development of software an evolutionary event in our history.
Incidentally I take this opinion again directly from geneticist Juan Enriquez, who has suggested that we (our species) is now in a position to effect (if not control) its own evolution through our knowledge of DNA sequencing.
But I suggest that this aspect of software—its ability to actively mimic our intelligence symbolically as an active force in the world, and thereby demonstrate how life actually operates, makes it the most significant human achievement since the construction of the Great Pyramid.
Why is Mind a necessary primary attribute of these processes?
If we go back to our macro, a mind needed to “decide” on some level that the rectangle “should be” red.
Or rather, within the activity of a human mind, Redness will happen to the rectangle.
So “whose” mind contemplated the various purposes behind DNA?
The problem here is the again the structure of any sentence, if we go back to Bohm, the very assumption of a subject-object structure for it to be “understood” by our thoughts or language—solely the left brain.
Based on my personal experience (Life) it has become apparent that through meditation, it is possible to occasionally step into a “space” where “I” am not thinking, but thinking is happening within being, and an observing faculty or notices this.
As soon as “I” identify with the observer, the Subject returns to thought, the space and my state changes. Thought happens, the space disappears, and “I” return.
But within that space I can sense that Life happens through me and without “Me.”
As soon as “I” identify with the observer, the space and my state changes.
But within that space I can sense that Life happens through me and without “Me.”
“I am” – but what I am is Life, energy, movement—genetic code running –all beyond and besides my sense of who “I am” as a thing, group of words, set of stories, beliefs or attributes.
Any “thing” that I think “I am” is wrong.
As Buckminster Fuller titled one of his works, “I seem to be a verb.”
Where does that leave me?
Unfortunately, at one point I became isolated and separated from the majority of my fellow humans who live according to an entirely different set of beliefs.