My favorite metaphysical conceit: the unmanifest.
We are all well acquainted with manifest reality: it is the path beneath our feet, the blood in our veins, the hills, the trees, the oceans, the earth, the stars... The manifest universe is everything physical in existence, and it is all polar through and through. But what lies beneath this physical realm? Where does physical reality exist? You must first have a room in order to fill it with furniture, right? And what of the room itself? If polarity is the common denominator, what exists in polar contrast to physical reality?
Welcome to the unmanifest.
Here again duality is at work because something needs the symmetry of nothing -- absolute nothing in order to be something, and infinite vice versa. However, the nothingness of the unmanifest is very special because while it is absolutely non-physical, this void cannot help but brim with possibility simply because it creates the space for possibility to appear. As a field of pure potential, the unmanifest plays a integral role as an underlying springboard for physical existence.
The relationship between the unmanifest and manifest is porous and fluid, energy moves in and out; but you might not think of it that way because this universe of ours appears so solid and consequential. There are physical laws, after all. What goes up must come down, yes? But these physical laws exist a matter of course, because it is an absolute inevitability for matter to organize itself logically in polar contrast to the free form of the unmanifest. In this way potential is able to explore itself through finite consequences, and eventually things become what they were meant to be. With inevitability leading the charge, potential consciousness becomes definitive consciousness -- evidenced in this little thing we call life.
Have you ever marveled at the patterns life takes? What is it with all these fractals, anyway? They seem to be everywhere.
What more beautiful expression of the unmanifest, the fundamental source of all consciousness -- than to witness a physical awareness take shape within itself and emerge from the sleeping stardust of this inert material world? As a divine expression of the unmanifest, life is a polar distillation of focused awareness. From infinite possibilities comes a being with a perspective, whose choices culminate into the forms, direction and focus of their lives. An individual capable of deciding who or what it wants to be, a life laid bare for witnessing.
What is doing the witnessing? And who is the individual? They are always one and the same. You. Me. Consciousness. And that person in the other room? That’s you/me/consciousness too in a different costume of experience. Oh yeah, consciousness is also in those trees outside your window because the “you” that you all are have one fundamental thing in common: you are life capable of having a perspective.
But wait — you are not those trees and you are not that snail and you are not your mother; you are just yourself, right? Yes, of course. Individuality is necessary for a point of view within the whole — a whole that nothing cannot be separated from. This tension that exists between being one and being everything is the very crux of consciousness. The whole of existence is moving, returning to the singularity of being just one, and this cycle of expansion into diversity and contraction into solidarity, defines the not just the system of the cosmos but the perceptual experiences of life itself. The polarity of this perceptual relationship between “all” and “one” drives consciousness. The Jesuit poet Gerard Manley Hopkins was acutely tuned in at this level of awareness.
The one witness: the divine you. If you are worried about a higher power keeping tabs on you, judging your actions, look no further than yourself and the people in your life. God is a mystery only so far as we are a mystery to ourselves and others. You know what you’ve done. You know when you can do better. You know when you don't care. You know when you’ve done something good. You know when you are a light to others. You know when you are confused. You know when you’re an asshole. You know what feels right and what feels wrong, and yet, you make choices that serve your own needs because life is programmed to be selfish in order to survive. At the end of the day, the witness watches all of us from within ourselves, just as we watch and respond to other individuals in our lives. Everyone has the same "you" inside of them. It might be put another way:
So whether it is the God within me that is hungry and eats you for dinner, or it is the God within you that suffers and dies, rest assured that both ends of the experience are sampled and acquired. This is the function of the biology that houses the witnessing experience, a mechanism to generate understanding and build systems. Everything adapts and responds to itself to achieve balance. Take the wolves out of an ecosystem, and the whole ecosystem transforms.
The first organ that ever formed was an eye. It was an evolutionary advantage to distinguish light from dark because it informed the opportunity to chose: run away from the shadows that were coming to eat you or stay and die. By keeping it's eyes open, life has made the choice to live an infinite number of times, and survived. Along the way, learning and adaptation through trial and error, witnessing cause and effect, have aided definition. Which brings us all the way to there present moment here, where your eyes are finding these words and your consciousness is scrutinizing these concepts, entertaining them, challenging them, absorbing them, mutating, taking what works and discarding the rest.
You have your own ideas about things — just like me; but you have also been informed by the narrative and inevitabilities of your own life story. You know what works for you as an individual and it's supposed to be this way. Life exists in variation because that is the best way to ensure that life persists. The witnessing that sustains a life, does so in order to sustain the opportunity for consciousness to be observant within itself. The simultaneous witnessing of many lives within a social system further serves the quest of consciousness by informing how we impact each other collectively, in a state of hyper feedback. Nevertheless, it is still the individual reader in you that observes these words and rips them into abstraction and semantics. You are conscious of your own experience, and yet, the source of your consciousness is the very same unmanifest that underlies the fabric of reality.
How perfect is it that the same umanifest that cradles the manifest universe, is cradled within your physical form?
Where does inspiration come from? Everything starts as an idea, a concept. The human world we have built on this planet is a perfect example of inspiration and inevitability run amok. Shoes, cars, harmonicas, spoons, computers, airplanes, books, houses, the stories we tell ourselves, our social customs, the internet… a rather efficient means of transporting information from one conscious mind to another, don't you think? Everything started as an idea, a possibility, a fantasy. Then someone somewhere somehow plucked it out of their inner unmanifest and harnessed the powers of communication to manifest it into existence.
Life arrises from the unmanifest, and death returns us to it. Every night when we go to sleep we experience the phenomena of the dream. If you are lucky enough to remember your dreams, then you return to your waking life with memories of your dream state that can be as vivid as memories of your waking life. So whether experiencing life via reality or in a dream state, it seems your consciousness is always active -- it is persistently awake even when your body is not, always experiencing its own polarity of existence. While you are in the dream state, generally you are not aware that you are having a dream -- that's what makes dreams so powerful. The experiences within your dreaming mind feel concrete but they are unmanifest. Given the holographic nature of reality and consciousness, it begs the question:
The relationship between the manifest and unmanifest has yet another polar construct, one that we are able to actively partake in:
You have all your ideas rattling and jumping around the unmanifest world inside your head, and from that, your thoughts can become actions that shape reality. Whether they get out and manifest into something impactful, or they fade and subside; you are the arbitrator of this phenomena: every action you take reflects a conscious or subconscious choice. This intimate inner filtration process mirrors the polar mechanism that underscores the physical existence of the universe. It is the same phenomena, replicated within you holographically. You are a fraction of the whole. You contemplate yourself within yourself, and this contemplation is the universe contemplating itself within itself, because you are part of everything, and everything cannot help but be everything. Consciousness cannot help but create itself, over and over and over again, endlessly. This is the pattern, the system. Maybe you would like to call it God? Words are just arrows, pointing at ideas.