When I share that I have a belief…
…The majority assume that it is a belief that they have encountered before, one that is or reflects an orthodox view and one having originated from some form of past indoctrination. However neither is true.
Whilst I have a vague memory of some Sunday school classes during my infant years, and later reciting the Lord’s prayer in assemble at primary school, religion was largely consigned to the last lesson every Friday during my secondary education.
Religious education as it was euphemistically called covered the main faiths but not their sectarian divisions and engaged in no form of worship. Prayer was something ‘those people’ did; how they did it or even why was a bit of a mystery. I was in reality given greater instruction in carpentry which took up a whole afternoon and resulted in the manufacture of a three legged table. Had I not chosen to take an optional class in chemistry I would have received the same level of instruction in metal work and would have left school with a wrought iron candlestick to put on my equilateral triangular table. Thus I received equal instruction in theology and chemistry as I did in metalwork but less than I did in woodwork.
In my parental home there was not a single religious book and whilst I was christened I never subsequently attended church, received confirmation or took holy communion. I have rarely entered a church since and when I have it has been for a wedding or a funeral, neither ever having been mine. I have similarly never entered a mosque , synagogue, Sikh gurdwara or Hindu temple except as a tourist. Although I have subsequently enquired into many of the beliefs of these faiths, that enquiry was not because I sought to adopt any but in order to try and disseminate and understand my own experiences. I have further attempted to do that enquiry critically and objectively, to enquire as a scientist both through direct enquiry or ‘personal experience’, and by the reading books and experiences of others.
Thus my belief does not originate from some early childhood indoctrination nor has it subsequently manifested as an adult desire to adopt the practices of a particular faith; all of which are quite alien to me. It has instead been driven by and manifests as an ongoing scientific enquiry; one that could be described as an enquiry into the nature of being. What I would further argue has been a quest for truth. It has not though been an objective study in the purest sense, for I never set out to test a theological hypothesis, nor to adopt or construct a belief system. Instead it has arisen out of it’s own need, as a consequence rather than the intention of events. It is in many respects it’s own source, perhaps what John was referring too when he spoke of the word*1 or what Richard Dawkins might call the original meme*2. For one hears it, be it the Word of God or the meme that spawns belief, when one looks deep enough into this abyss we call life.
But I do not believe in a God
This is the first thing that distinguishes my belief from that which you were expecting. For if one looks deep enough inside, one does not find a God, but finds God. If that appears paradoxical then here in lies one of the most important conclusions of my enquiry: Paradoxes are God’s way of telling you that you have fucked up.
Paradoxes are cosmic signposts that are telling you that you are on the wrong path. In this instance you do not understand the meaning of the word God, except as a child might. This is no great revelation and nor are you alone in failing to realize. Generations, despite John’s brilliant encapsulation as God as but a word*1, a cosmic echo crying out from the beginning of time, still chose to manifest God into a deity, sat on a cloud throwing down thunderbolts or as the image of some idealised ancestor hovering above water and healing the sick. Neither image is true for me and nor I suspect was it for John. So whilst I have a belief, it is not a belief in a God that has form.
But in the God [of Small Spaces]
One of the early distinctions I, and many of us come across is that of the personal and impersonal God. Although distinct from the physical universe, the personal God interacts with it. As with the God of Moses the personal God is apt to dishing out rules and punitive punishments. As Shiva the Hindu destroyer of Worlds, the personal god is apt at smiting all those who dare to challenge him. The personal God thus speaks and acts directly, correcting his and our mistakes and making sure everyone knows he has done so. In polytheism and today’s world of monotheism, within which I include Hinduism, the concept of the personal God is subscribed to and is to whom prayers are directed, if you are lucky then God, [as Lord Ganesha], might just reply.
The impersonal God whilst similarly applying to many monotheistic beliefs is though both deaf and blind to the trials and tribulations of it’s creation. You can scream as much as you like at the impersonal God but unlike the personal God the impersonal doesn’t or hasn’t intervened since lighting the fuse and then retreating to a safe distance. Perhaps the creation was such a perfect act that no maintenance has subsequently been required or perhaps it has been built in.
The impersonal God though doesn’t have to disappear with the advent of the creation. It can remain and in pantheism, a belief that God and the universe are one and the same thing, God is around for as long as the universe is; when one goes so the other goes with it. That said most pantheism beliefs regard the universe as eternal thus separation has and never will take place.
Pan-en-theism the belief that God is in everything, is also an impersonal interpretation. Unlike pantheism where God ‘is’ Everything, with Pan-en-theism God is ‘in’ Everything. It’s a subtle but significant departure that avers the creation is built upon the God. They are independent in so far as the God can exist without the creation but the creation cannot exist without the God. To find this God one must look deep down at the most fundamental level of our universe, at the very edge of particle physics and in the smallest of spaces.
Where Shiva Dances
Like Shiva as the Nataraja*3, the God of small spaces dances to manifest as the creation we experience. As long as Shiva dances so the creation manifests; a cosmic vibration that pervades throughout and within everything in the universe, no matter where one looks, one sees at the heart of everything, Shiva dancing. One does not in truth see a dancer, not one with four arms, a blue complexion and a head full of dreadlocks, instead what one sees is the dance and from the movements one extrapolates the presence of the dancer.
However in going into the infinitely small we have arrived at and in Plato’s cave*4. 2500 years after Plato we too find ourselves as he did, chained to the wall whilst Shiva dances outside.
The Dance of the Tandava
Whilst from our vantage point, chained to the walls of Plato’s cave, we have little chance of ever seeing the dancer we can, from the shadows cast on the wall, at least try and interpret the dance. Perhaps like the waggle dance of the honey bee*5, this dance serves to communicate information both to and about us. So whilst the dancer lies outside the cave we can see the dance reflected on the cave wall. However there is no detail, no precision in these shadows. They are approximations from which it is impossible to decern anything other than there is something. The clarity is not improved by scaling in or out either, the whole or part of the dance are equal in terms of reference. Be it the wobble of an atom or the rotation of the universe itself, one sees the same flickering shadows. Regardless of scale the dance retains it’s core elements; it is thus recursive and so everywhere one looks, one sees shiva dancing.
The Tetra-lemma or Catuskoti*6 is a system of logic that argues that everything in this universe exists in one of four possible states or conditions: A thing is either A, or not A, both A and not A, or neither A or not A. It could thus be argued that a thing is either Matter, Energy (not matter), Life (matter + energy), or Consciousness (neither matter or energy). These states are themselves not absolute, both matter and energy contain significant dark components, life’s diversity, just here on Earth is vast, and at this point in our evolution we are barely aware of our own consciousness, let alone it’s true extent. It could be further argued that within this pattern there is a progression in logic, from a binary (Energy and Matter), to a ternary (energy, matter and life), and finally a tetra-lemma state as consciousness emerges. A progression further illustrated through the evolution of shape or how to grow a tetrahedral.
The Shape of the Universe
Unlike the other platonic shapes the tetrahedral has no origin. If one moves from one vertices directly to another, one always travels along an edge, never across a face or through the centre. With the other platonic shapes there are shorter routes across the faces or through the centre and these create virtual vertices (stresses) on the faces or centre of the shape. Every plutonic shape except for the tetrahedral has these virtual vertices and resulting stresses across it’s faces and at it’s centre. The tetrahedral has none. These platonic shapes can be grown from this virtual centre, but a tetrahedral can only be grown from one of it’s vertices. Furthermore regardless of which vertices one begins at, one always arrives at the last one by the same route; first a one dimensional line, then a two dimensional equilateral triangle before the final vertices is drawn along with the third dimension to create the tetrahedral.
A process that is analogous with the evolution of the early universe when, following the three symmetry breaks and the emergence of the fourth and last force the universe experienced the initial inflationary period*7. The standard model*8 of particle physics can similarly be encapsulated within such a tetrahedral, where the vertices are the 4 bosons, the ends of the six edges are the 12 fermions and the Higgs boson the tetrahedral in it’s entirety. Neither are perfect visualisation and neither advances particle physics or cosmology but it is perhaps the closest we are likely to ever get to visualising the first movements of the dance of the God of small spaces, everything else lies outside the cave.
However the cave is not just the theatre for the shadow dance to be performed in, nor are the chains that bind us to the wall our seats, they are as much a product of the dance as the images we try to interpret. We are not watching Shiva dance but are the dance itself, the conscious entity that has emerged to observe itself, the final vertices in a cosmic tetrahedral. To look further back we must collapse the very window we are looking through, our own consciousness.
The Whole is a Part of Itself
To go beyond the standard model of particle physics or to peer into the earliest moments of the universe is perhaps akin to trying to leave the cave whilst still being chained to it. Perhaps a better analogy, particularly with respect to the early evolution of the cosmos as described in Weinberg’s book the first three minutes*9, is the first nine months spent in the womb. As with the universe we now inhabit it was an event that began as a singularity, a human egg, and proceeded with a massive inflationary period; but who can recall this? Perhaps because the one thing needed to do so had not yet emerged; the conscious, self aware you.
Weinberg’s first three minutes and the standard model of particle physics are now forty and fifty years old respectively. The discovery of the Higgs boson in 2012 only confirmed what had long been known and with no new particles subsequently having been found by the LHC this may well be the bottom line in terms of what can be directly measured from within the universe. Perhaps now we should try to understand what is being communicated in the dance.
As the dance is recursive the moves are repeated within the components so that the whole is always a part in itself. As the whole reflects the tetra-lemma then the parts too must reflect the same pattern and these in turn reflect it further. There are clear parallels here with both the doctrine of the Trinity*10 and Koch’s snowflake*11. For this is a fractal monster with no beginning or end.
If though we limit our enquiry to post Weinberg’s initial inflationary period we can bound the standard model, represented as a tetrahedral, within three symmetry breaks and four forces; a representation of the universe that is to a large extent a reflection of the Sri Yantra*12. There are less triangles in this ‘modern’ visualisation but then it is a visual representation the sub atomic universe whereas the Sri Yantra is a visual representatio of the whole universe. None the less in attempting to understand the universe at a fundamental level we climb another mountain to find two philosophers having a cup of tea at the summit. Perhaps these are poor interpretations and their similarities are as a consequence of over simplification, or perhaps like the waggle dance of the honey bee they serve to communicate something about the universe we inhabit.
The Dance of the Tandava
The Tandava is a recursive dance of four movements in four acts of one play. In each movement and act the whole is also a part. The movements thus reflect the acts and the acts reflect the whole. This is the basis of the Tandava. Movement is not though the clockwork movement of some mechanical automaton, where one event triggers another to make the system ‘tick’, but the balance, harmony, grace and beauty that differentiates dance from movement. The Movements thus follow a path that is mirrored in the acts and in the whole itself. This path is similarly a pattern and it is this pattern that is repeated.
The Tetra-lemma, where four distinct components are connected equally, is the simplest representation of this pattern. It is a pattern, that as the complexity evolves repeats within the components. A process that proceeds long before it is realised by the emerging consciousness.
It is a process that can be described by the equations; a(n) = 3*a(n-1) + a(n-2) and a(n) =a(n-1)^3. The former describing the growth and recursive properties to yield the sequence 1, 1, 4, 13, 43 as above. The latter the connectivity and the sequence 3, 27, 19683, 7625597484987, … that, were it not for intervention of the recursive sequence, would quickly arrive at Grahams number*13 . However at 43 the whole is duplicated within itself, a recursive step that bounds and makes the mathematics and connectivity finite and which similarly bounds and realizes the God of small places.
When the circle met the line
And heralded loves first arrival
In circles space entwined lines time
And together they created the spiral
And as they danced so spiral grew
First the Neutron
Then the Proton too
And as they danced on and on
So they entwined now one not two
Now dancing on now alone
Spiral first shone all colours from red to blue
Then dancing fast and hard turned into stone
Until finally dancing to become you!
Now you must dance hard and fast
As stone and spiral danced for thee
Now you must now dance for you are not the last
Dance and dance so God can be!
References from Wikipedia
*1 : John 1:1 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_1:1
*2: Meme https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meme
*3: Shiva as the cosmic dancer https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nataraja
*4: The Allegory of the Cave https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allegory_of_the_Cave
*5 The waggle dance of the honey bee https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waggle_dance
*6 The Tetra-lemma / Catuskoti https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tetralemma https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catuski
*7 Initial inflationary period https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inflation_(cosmology)
*8 The standard model https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Standard_Model
*9 The first three minutes https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_First_Three_Minutes
*10 The doctrine of the Trinity https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trinity
*11 Koch’s snowflake https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Koch_snowflake
*12 Sri Yantra https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sri_Yantra
*13 Graham’s number https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graham%27s_number