Friday, October 12, 2012
There are two universes. Or, rather, there are potentially 7 billion or infinitely more distinctive universes, but you and every other sentient individual is influenced by two of them. One of them is external, and one of them is internal. I am aware that there are scientific theories that propose multiple other universes, but for the sake of this post, we will stick to those 2.
It can be observed that in the external universe, things exist. There is space, and some of the space has properties. For instance, it may be solid, or colorful, or it may emit noise. However, the universe is not aware of it's properties, and neither are the things inside of it ("Things" referring to space that has distinctive properties, aside from propertilessness, which is also a propertey). A typewriter, for example, is not aware that it is a typewriter. It isn't aware of it's color, it's sound, or of it's function. It just exists and is influenced by the purposeless laws of the universe (such as physics). In the external universe, it has no purpose. Nothing in this universe has an essence or a name, it simply exists, and does nothing more. You don't live in the external universe, but your body does, and it impacts your internal universe.
The internal universe exists outside (and somehow inside) the external universe. And even though every sentient being (to my knowledge) shares one external universe, every sentient being experiences a different internal one. In this universe, objects have purposes. In fact, in only this universe do "objects" really exist as anything more than meaningless space. In the internal universe, things have names and sensory properties. In the external world, the universe is unaware of the color of sound of a typewriter, because it has no senses. It is extrasensory. However, in the internal universe, every single minuscule piece of knowledge is strictly and exclusively sensory. We expand our internal universe by observing the sensory properties that are reflected through objects in the external, extrasensory universe. And no two internal universes are similar.
The vessel you control in the external universe may be young or old, but time doesn't have the same effect on the internal universe. It exists as long as you do. It was created when you had your very first thought, and it will be destroyed when you have your very last one.
Try to recall your first thought. I don't remember mine, and you don't remember yours. This is beautiful, because not remembering the beginning of my internal universe removes it from existence. Therefore, my life is without beginning, and since I can't comprehend it's end, it is also without end. We observe other people being born and dying, and we apply numerical values to the number of times we revolve around the sun, which gives us the illusion that our lives are small and finite. We are told stories that imply the external universe existed before we did, but that should not have a profound effect on us, as we do not live in the external universe. It is not applicable to us. If you disillusion yourself from the external universe, your life will seem infinite. The greatest proof of this is that we couldn't comprehend anything before we were born, and we cannot comprehend or predict exactly what it will be like after we die.
In the same sense that our minds are as old as the internal universe, our bodies are as old as the external universe. The elements that our bodies are made of were formed in stars, and the atoms that formed those elements have existed since this universe began, and will exist until this universe ends.
This is what comes to mind when people describe things as "carnal" or "of the world".
I can't believe how strange it is to be anything at all.
- Neutral Milk Hotel, Aeroplane Over the Sea
One of the most sobering feelings I have comes to me when I look myself in the mirror. I stare directly into my eyes in the same way I would if I was to engage another person in contact, and then the epiphany strikes: There's not another person there, that person I see is an image of myself. When I apply the concept of myself to the image in the mirror, I remember that I am a real thing. More than a real thing, in fact. I am a thing that is sentient. And I have some control. When I move my arm, the image's arm moves. And my subconscious self is almost in denial about it, because being sentient is such a rarity. Out of all of the many things that fill the universe, only a minuscule, finite number of them are sentient. And one of them is me. How unlikely.
Seeing myself from the outside reminds me that I have a self on the inside. The image in the mirror bears semblance to myself in the way other people see me. I am not a floating consciousness, I have a body and a brain, the same way everyone else has a body and a brain. I subconsciously realize that through my body, I have an impact on other things. And of those things, some of them witness and experience my body and my brain, because they are also sentient. This isn't a groundbreaking realization, in fact it seems obvious. But even though it seems obvious, in waking life I tend to forget about it. It seems more likely to me that I am somebody outside my body, merely observing the actions of the person in the mirror from behind his eyes.