Continued from Resonance Code (1) – General Features
Wave and Particle
In 1996, Jill Bolte Taylor, a 37-year-old Harvard-trained brain scientist, had a massive stroke when a blood vessel exploded in her left brain. In the ensuing hours, she gradually lost abilities to perceive her body, objects and shapes. She could hardly read telephone numbers or talk. All of these were functions for which the logical and sequential aspects of her brain were responsible.
Yet she was conscious enough to experience this extraordinary event. She reported, in her Ted talk and book Stroke of Insight, that the sensory experience of a self being bounded within her skin dissolved. Instead, she experienced herself in continuous flow with the objects, matter and waves of energies around her. While she was losing her abilities such as walking, talking and reading, she experienced an immeasurable sense of euphoria, well-being and compassion for humanity. This extreme state of consciousness where Jill “travelled” to is far into the polar zones of Wave consciousness.
The poles of Earth are covered with ice millions of years old, swept bare by ruthless gusts, blanketed either in constant darkness or light. The polar zones are not friendly places. Similarly, the polar zone of Wave consciousness is also unfriendly to human life. Jill had lost all her capacities that relied on the logical left brain, unable to participate in life. It took her eight years to relearn all these essential life skills. Since then, as a brain scientist who has experienced an amazing transformation inside her own brain, she has been sharing her insights on brain and mental disease with the world.
When our consciousness is shifting way deep into the Wave pole, our sensory system is immersed in the experience of inter-connectedness down to the cellular or even atomic level, as Jill has reported. We experience ourselves as liquid goo in the ocean of energies, no longer able to keep our boundary or identity. Nor is there the desire to. It is both exhilarating and terrifying to imagine that!
Particle consciousness is more familiar to us living in modern civilization. A middle-class household in the United States is filled with particle-objects made with raw materials excavated from their original sources, transported to factories all over the world, mixed up with other materials, molded and shaped into “particles” as goods, packaged and distributed far from their origins. Humans’ sense of self has been particle-ized down to the smallest unit possible, one individual, since the United States explicitly declared individual rights and sovereignty in the Declaration of Independence. Since then, this particle-ized sense of self has spread all over the world, riding on the waves of colonization, capitalism, consumerism and western pop culture.
Language helps to particle-ize the liquid, multi-channel, ever-changing, ever-flowing sensory and kinesthetic experience of the world into tangible, solid packages of words and concepts. Our experience of the wide-open sky can be infinitely rich with layers upon layers of sensory nuances. Yet when we reduce it down to the term of “blue sky”, we can stop being mesmerized by it and get on with doing other things, ranging from running away from predators to getting up to go to work.
Particle consciousness reduces the complex, chaotic sea of neuronal firings of our nervous systems into bits of information in far more manageable, and organizable chunks. That is what most of us went through when we were being brought up as children. That was what Jill Bolte Taylor had to relearn in her long road of rehabilitation. Reducing the infinite spectrum of experience into these convenient chunks made it possible for humans to accumulate and transfer knowledge, enabling larger and larger scales of human collaboration and social systems.
If Wave consciousness was the spark and fuel that ignited the fire of life, then Particle consciousness was the faithful cauldron that captured and contained its energy to warm and nurture life. If Wave consciousness was a liquid, moving form of life force, then Particle consciousness was the dedicated vessel that held this force and melded it into concrete forms and shapes.
The advent of written language was another great leap in Particle consciousness. Before that, the packets of meaning formed by spoken language could only last for as long as memory allowed, which was not very long. And the accuracy of information retrieved from spoken words degenerates very fast. Having a large group of people agreeing on what was said was not at all easy.
Written language immortalized this information, making a permanent copy of the particle-ized bit. Through that, a new form of power leveraging the particle-ized information emerged. Historically, it was those few humans who had access to written language and information had the power to control the majority who did not.
In 1949, when China became an independent country, 80% of the population was illiterate, among which the majority were women. In the following half century, the illiteracy rate in China dropped below 3%, and more women can read and write than men now. Imagine the impact of hundreds of millions of people suddenly gaining access to the power of Particle consciousness over such short period of time!
Inter-Weaving of the Wave and Particle
In 1801, physicist Thomas Young performed the famous “double slit” experiment to show that light can exhibit characteristics of both wave and particle. This experiment was logic-defying and opened up a new era of physics. I use the term Wave and Particle as a metaphor to describe the dual nature of our consciousness. The inter-weaving dance of the two permeates every conscious process. Every conscious perception, feeling, emotion, thought and action reflects the dynamic interplay between these two aspects of consciousness. As long as we are in an embodied life form, it is impossible to have one without the other.
When Jill Bolte Taylor was describing her bizarre, reality-warping perception as her normal cognitive functions dissolved, she was still describing particle-ized objects, such as arms, body, numbers and bathtub. However, the web of relationships that used to “glue” these objects together was completely scrambled. She was in an alternative universe where her arms and bathtub were fused, and print texts and paper were blended.
In their inter-weaving dance, at any given moment, our attention may be gravitated towards either the Particle or Wave mode. During our waking hours, our conscious sense of self is gravitated towards Particle mode. Well-defined and bounded. During sleep and dream, our sense of self is gravitated towards Wave mode, expansive, non-local and timeless. That is why our dream can be prophetic or provide us information about ourselves our waking awareness cannot access.
But this dance is not confined to the biological, circadian rhythm. Our attention can be drawn or placed at either end of the cycle for as short as a second, a minute, or as long as years and decades. Depending on our personality, lifestyle and profession, we each develop a unique profile in which our attention and awareness alternates priorities between Wave and Particle.
A hallmark of modern culture is the pressure to perform, to excel, to succeed, demanding our wakeful attentions to be fixed on giving priority to Particle consciousness day in and day out. Growing up, those of us who are naturally gravitated towards Wave mode, tend to be labeled as ADD, disorganized, spacey, sentimental, lazy, irrational, delusional or diagnosed as crazy. However, this configuration cannot last forever. The pent-up pressure in the Wave consciousness often explodes into break-downs. Mid-life crises, chronic disease, stress and depression are all symptoms of that.
This is mainly because our cultural practices and social systems are primarily shaped by a particle-ized, rationalistic mind in its puberty. In puberty, the primary drive is to assert one’s own identity and differentiate away from the source. For the particle-ized, rationalistic mind, this differentiation from the feeling-sensing-intuiting mind has happened only very recently, developing rapidly for the last three hundred years in the west. In the rise of this rational mind, it got arrogant as a teenage boy does, thinking it would solve every problem in the world. But even more recently, it has opened up to vast domains of mystery, coming to the realization that it may not be the omnipotent one who will know it all. Now, as the particle-ized, rationalistic mind is maturing, it has a lot to learn about how to interface with Wave consciousness with respect and care.
When Jill was experiencing the stroke, the gripping hand of Particle consciousness loosened. What struck me about her experience was the graceful, sequential, almost methodical letting go of her Particle consciousness. A sudden and abrupt decoupling would have been much more traumatizing and probably even lethal. Jill was able to rely on the last dwindling Particle awareness to call for help. Had her Particle awareness lost control completely, she could have died. Now she has a second chance to live, with a beautiful message to share.
Her experience set up a beautiful reminder of how our civilization can grow out of its chaotic adolescence, if our particle-ized mind learns how to gently let go, and invite its Wave partner to take the lead in the next dance, inviting her to delight, and expand him, taking him to realms he could not have imagined within himself.
At Resonance Path Institute, the methodologies we developed such as Feelingwork and Fieldtuning all aim at shifting the priority from Particle to Wave in our waking consciousness, and allow the Particle consciousness to be a follower to learn from Wave. Our method is gentle and intimately related with the concerns and inquiries of daily life. Traditional meditation or spiritual practices also facilitate this shift. However, rooted in monastic traditions and imprinted by patriarchal lineages, they tend to distance themselves from relevance to everyday modern life. Our methodology goes deep into life, embracing the fire of passion and the vortex of dissonance.
The Third Player: The Intermediary
In the ancient I-Ching text, the metaphor for these two poles of consciousness is the Sky and Earth, energy and matter, formless and form. These are cosmic principles as subtle as pure mathematical symbols and geometry, and the dense matter that embody these principles into planets, nature and the world as we know. Human realms, including our social and cultural systems, are held by the voltage differential between these two poles, charged with currents flowing back and forth. The third component of the trinity in Chinese ancient cosmology is thus Human.
For the sages of ancient China, personal cultivation is a bi-directional process. One process is from Wave to Particle, embodying the cosmic Wave energy into a vibrant and procreative physical vessel. The other is from Particle to Wave, cultivating one’s particle-ized self to serve the vibrational frequencies of life. Through both pathways, a person may serve as a responsible agent, mediating the interaction between the Sky and Earth.
In traditional Chinese wedding ceremonies, the newly wed first pay homage to Sky, then to Earth, and lastly to their family ancestors. This ritual is to acknowledge that the sacred union of marriage is a commitment to embody the life-giving interplay of this trinity in domestic life and community participation.
In Resonance Code, this intermediary is referred to as Resonance awareness. It is simply a way to direct one’s attention to consciously alternate priorities between Wave and Particle at finer and finer resolutions of every action and choice. This attention is neither fixated on an unexamined, blind worship, nor bound by the fear and skepticism towards Wave. It is neither stuck with the gravitational pull of Particle nor being repelled by it. It is a live, fresh awareness that vibrates freely and consciously between the poles of Wave and Particle, depending on the timing and context of the situation. It does so through integrating one’s primal instincts with the vulnerability of an open heart, imaginative feelings with a discerning yet non-judgmental mind. It affirms life, making distinctions and facilitating choices that promote the well-being, liveliness and sustainability of the web of life. The host of practices we teach at RPI is intended to empower this awareness.
The following table lists how the trinity is being represented by bigrams, pairs of lines in a hexagram. Each hexagram then is a blueprint of how the three bigrams interact, creating tensions and resolving them as the inquiry unfolds through us living it. In a following essay, I will describe the meaning of the lines in the bigrams.
|Wave||Line 4 and 6|
|Particle||Line 1 and 3|
|Resonance||Line 2 and 5|