The Bursting Universe: When We Stop Seeking Causes

When the universe is viewed with barriers in mind, with separations in time or in space, or in any other quality or quantity, then we implicitly make of that universe a place of separate things.

Time and space though, however insistent these things are that they are real, they lack the realness of a manifest separation. Time and space does not so much prove that there are separate things, or objects, as they suggest it. What do I mean by “suggest”?

I mean that the separation, in itself, isn’t part of experience. The separation is, like the causes we derive from Hume’s induction, merely the supposition that follows a particular human relationship with the world. The bicycle leaning against the wall, and the bicycle not leaning against the wall, after someone has come and moved it, these are, under scrutiny, a joint phenomenon; a unity.

The separation is artificial, it is an analytic imagination imposed upon the real and the manifest of experience. What is experienced, more precisely, is that the bicycle has both the relationships, for us, of leaning against the wall, and of not leaning. The particular presence and absence of the bicycle are only made into separations once the analytic imagination imposes itself upon the experiences, which are otherwise a manifold unity.

Time is there to bring order to this corruption. For time, as episodic, or sliced, or otherwise treated as existing whatsoever, is the way in which we present the corruption of experience as truth; as constitutive of the universe. It is the stamp of approval that allows the lie to endure as self-deception, and as social delusion.

Just because we can use a tool like time to fix what we’re doing to our experiences, the separation of them, that does not mean that the results of this is true. Time is a tool, and it is the tool of deception. For us human beings, it might seem like an inevitable tool, and I would to a certain extent agree with that rebuke of my own position. For while it might not be inevitable in an ultimate sense, there is still a sense in which our humanity makes it appear inevitable, for all that it is a built-in feature insistent upon itself.

However, we can escape time. It is possible, if a little counter-intuitive in our day and age of timing and time-dominated activity, to see the universe as a manifold unity, and as timeless. As a place in which reality is built of uniform relations that are more critical than existence itself. For in the manifold unity, relations come first. There is no existence without relation. To exist is to relate, and to see the same thing over again (even if that thing is a property), is double relation, not double existence. To see separation in time and in space, is only to have a particular composition of relation, that is not a true separation, but to reside inside the captivity of a human perspective that is also included in the manifold unity. Your local connectedness, is merely the corner, a speck of land, upon a global totality of connections.

Since there is no separation then, there is no cause either, and no effect. Rather, speeding along the relational graph of the universe, where every node is a difference in itself, and where every relation or non-relation between nodes either applies or doesn’t apply – in this journey across the manifold unity, we see a universe that bursts forth in a multitude of splitting paths creating a multitude of relational combinations. And this manifold unity, it does not change. It is eternity, or the endless, without thereby being everything conceivable. It is not the “possible” permutations of human imagined dimensions, some kind of all-possible-worlds joined into one. Neither is it fully connected with every node to every other. No, it is itself only, as it wants to be, and nothing can change it – for it is change, and what lies beneath change. It is endless, without dimensions along which we can know its endlessness. Because there is no start, no manner of progression, not even circularity, or any sort of origin, from which to direct itself. There’s just this: relational composition. That is our universe.

But it is a surprising universe too! Entirely novel, so novel as to be inherently unpredictable, impossible to calculate in the ultimate sense. When it is calculated or successfully guessed, it is only because it has allowed us this moment of feeling the empowerment of making a seemingly right prediction. Gazing upon this wild, unruly, inconquerable universe, we may come across the whims of its bursting motions, and in those whims, find something of a trajectory to extrapolate, or a cycle to interpolate, something to make us feel like we know the universe. And perhaps there is something to be learned of these whims of this universe, of these bursting motions, like a chemical explosion, or from those more peaceful whims, from the unbothered, steady stillness of ancient mountains.

Perhaps we can learn something there. But, whatever we learn, this should be understood: we won’t find therein a natural law or a set of causes and effects. We’ll find an unruly being, and whenever we think we’ve mastered it, we should rather look onto ourselves, and ask how we came to deceive ourselves so much. For when the universe feels like it, it will wake us up, rudely, with a surprise so novel and powerful that no decision to fully reduce this novelty to something seen before will be practically possible. And at that point, we’ll know just how pointless is our suppositions, and our quests for universal domination.