The Dynamics of Space Revisited
by Nicholas R. Mann
In my previous article for MAG, entitled "The Dynamics of Space: New Approaches in Geomancy," I asked for geomancy to include in its analysis a focus upon the actual experience of the human body in relation to place. I asked that the present moment, kinetic, four dimensional experience of the body with all of its sensory capacities and perceptual abilities in relation to a site - especially ancient ones such as Stonehenge or Avebury - be a basis for understanding the site's meaning and usage. To give an example: if the site presents a closed appearance as you walk up to it then it generates a very different set of meanings than if it were open. The cool thing is that most everyone can understand these meanings. Compare an experience of a church to a stone circle.
This contextual, real-time, experiential, whole-brained and somatic(of or relating to the physical body) approach is, in my opinion, preferable to abstract, ideal and two-dimensional (e.g. site plan) analysis. It is by focusing on the common human experience of our bodies in space that is it possible to arrive at a common set of shared meanings. Now that our editor has asked whether geomantic approaches can extend beyond the experience of the body on earth and specifically whether earth energies can extend into space, it is time to assess the nature of our experience, if any, beyond the geospecific.
The presence of the body with all of its perceptual abilities presupposes an awareness of self and the presence of consciousness. I may argue for somatic experience as the standard for shared understanding and meaning, but of course, it is the self or consciousness that is the "experiencer" I am not separating body and consciousness - that is our modus operandi - but point out that the nature of consciousness suggests it has the possibility of spatial experience beyond the earth and the body. We may be reminded here of some classic geomantic ideas, for example: ley lines being "astral corridors" for out-of-body, shamanic experiences, megalithic dolmens being "dream incubators," and there is a suggestion that the song lines being some of the aboriginal dream time ancestors extend into extra-terrestrial dimensions.
Before I go into space, let me mention that sending our bodies by mechanical means out from the earth can result in a very bad experience indeed: remember Apollo 13? The Apollo program was essentially an attempt to provide an environment in which humans could exist beyond the earth. I question whether the astronauts ever had an experience of space or the moon at all. They had an earth body-consciousness experience transferred into space. The dramatic moments of the movie,""Apollo 13" such as docking or maintaining life, focused precisely on the difficulties of transferring the co-ordinates of the earth body-consciousness into space. This displaced environmental experience was fragile to say the least.
Our bodies, consciousness and sensory abilities are geospecific. They arise from a long-standing engagement with life on earth where we as objects have conditioned the subject and vice-versa. Natural selection means we do not have the ability to live among energies outside of the spectrum made perceptible by our physical senses. Life in other contexts or dimensions is simply incompatible with and imperceptible to our body-consciousness. Furthermore, the machines we build to look beyond our sensory spectrum produce singular, ideal, and two-dimensional views. Radio-telescopes, quantum accelerators and so on, put us back into non-experiential, part-brained perception with an accompanying huge problem of interpretation and meaning.
Carl Sagan made this point in the text used by the movie "Contact." The heroine's - Jodie Foster's - view into space was two dimensional and questionable, until she actually had an experience of contact. Then there was no doubt of its veracity; although, naturally, she could not convince her analytical colleagues it actually happened. The mechanical device which made contact possible, Sagan made clear, was not even necessary. It was merely a stratagem to convince humans the contact was valid and authentic. The movie furthermore made the point that although the contact experience was conscious it was also conditioned by consciousness - in this case, by Jodie's. We are discovering wherever we go in the universe there is no separation of observer and observed. Yet, imagine the experiential possibilities (and some of you may already think this) if Jodie's body was composed of light...
It may be that it is through the inner transformational possibilities of consciousness, however conditioned, that we are capable of experiencing energies beyond the range perceived by the physical senses. Putting to one side whatever perceptions dowsing may open us up to, and staying with the topic of light, the phospheme experiment for example suggests experiences of pure colour beyond those seen by the eye-brain combination. 1 This is supported by those who have had OBE's (out-of-body experiences), are experienced meditators, or those who use psychotropic substances, such as those used by the Huichol Indians. As the alchemical adage, "as above, so below" suggests, it is extremely likely that all the energies we currently experience exist in analogous structures or forms beyond the earth, and consciousness is the vehicle by which we can perceive them.
I propose that the best means at our disposal for exploring in space what we experience on earth as geomantic qualities or energies is the transformation of our consciousness.
Buddhists speak of the outward appearance or the "signs" of things being conditioned for us on earth by the "manas." When we are able to see beyond the outward appearance of something for example, we may realize it is formed by the constant interaction of the "six elements." These are earth, air, fire, water, space and perception. Science may prefer to describe these in terms of a far larger table of elements that in different combinations produce different forms, but in coming to understand relativity and the role of the observer in the quantum realm, it amounts to much the same thing. We may gain the insight that the phenomenal world is impermanent and interacting. "Nothing can be by itself alone." 2 The different schools of geomancy also recognize the interplay of certain basic elements in forming observable patterns in life on earth, and have developed tools to discern their essence. I remember threading a fire labyrinth last Lughnasadh, and having an experience in which I profoundly realized the interpenetrating and interactive nature of all things.
In my previous article, I suggested the "signs" of things could be described by a small number of relative factors. These present themselves as polarities. Apart from the obvious: large and small, before and after, up and down, right and left, light and dark etc., there are the more subtle: interior and exterior, entrance and exit, center and periphery, surface and mass, light and matter, silence and sound. These also gave rise to more subjective factors such as inclusion and exclusion, formal and informal, active and passive. Buddhists would also include birth and death, form and formlessness. Science may like to add attraction and repulsion, strong force and weak force? gravity and ...? (anti-gravity has not yet been found). We may imagine these factors apply equally well to the experience of any kind of body: animal, human, cellular, molecular, quantum, planetary or stellar, even a body of light.
Yet in contemplation or meditation we learn that it is possible for consciousness to go beyond these contrasts and realize the state of "signlessness." Here consciousness is not conditioned by the elements, the manas, or the polarities of existence. We come to understand how these qualities appear in different ways throughout every dimension of the universe. In deep meditation it is possible for us to enter into "perceptionless perception" and bring the self into the realization of its unified existence with all things. At this point, following Buddhist terminology, the experience ("illusion") of the separate self dissolves and there is simply the presence of pure consciousness.
Geomancy — The study of the dynamics of form which shape and are shaped by the experience of consciousness.
My experience of these states have persuaded me that what we call geomantic qualities or energies running through life on earth, extend into every dimension of existence. These dimensions include the smallest quantum realm and the vastnesses of space - even the mysteries of the first stages of the creation of the universe. I am convinced that what we call geomancy is, in fact, the study of the dynamics of form which shape and are shaped by the experience of consciousness. These spatial dynamics operate throughout every realm in the universe. A fractal pattern infinitely expanding or contracting in the space of our computer screens dramatically illustrates - albeit in two dimensions - this dynamic.
Although we can observe these patterns from without, through our physical senses or those of our probing scientific instruments, I believe it is of far more value to experience them from within. The multi-dimensional vehicle for experiencing this dynamic in its entirety is consciousness. Ultimately, as we go into space through the transition of death, I am of the opinion that the same spatial dynamics that have determined our experience in life will shape the experience of the dimensions we then pass through.
Do we know the way? Do our earthly temples - spiritual and scientific - currently contain maps for the journey into space? Is the passageway through the outer courts of the temple - neither deviating to either side - and through the gateway into the Holy of Holies, analogous to the transition of consciousness through the bardos into the realm of formlessness? Is the attempt by science to see far enough through space-time to the very moment of creation itself analogous to the experience of consciousness approaching realization? Will we build physical or virtual temples in the new millennium that will assist in the realization of the true nature of our being? Will the journey be taught to us - as in Kubrick's incipient and probably highly prescient "2001" - on our electronic media? Or will this millennium be marked by our turning again to the earth, to nature, and to the keepers of traditional wisdom as our guides?
 The phospheme experiment: Closely watch the reflection of the sun (NOT the sun) in still water for as long as is comfortable, ideally a minute or more. Then close the eyes and observe the after image of light upon the retina. It may help to cover the eyes with your hands to exclude external light. By maintaining concentration on the after image of light you will watch it go through various colour transformations. These transformations are affected by consciousness, especially by the quality of your concentration.
 Thich Nhat Hanh, "The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching" 1998, p.107.
© N.R. Mann, November 1999