Consciousness, freedom, self-awareness, and the implicate order

(Readings from David Bohm)

"How, then, is it possible for there to be the self-awareness that is required for true freedom? Along the lines of what has been said in this paper, I propose that self-awareness requires that consciousness sink into its implicate (and now mainly unconscious) order. It may then be possible to be directly aware, in the present, of the actual activity of past knowledge, and especially of that knowledge which is not only false but which also reacts in such a way as to resist exposure of its falsity. Then the mind may be free of its bondage to the active confusion that is enfolded in its past. Without freedom of this kind, there is little meaning even in raising the question as to whether human beings are free, in the deeper sense of being capable of a creative act that is not determined mechanically by unknown conditions in the untraceably complex interconnections and unplummable depths of the overall reality in which we are embedded."

"If we are the unknown, which is the present, then time can be seen in its proper meaning only in the context of that which is beyond time (i.e., the holomovement or eternity). Any attempt to treat the whole meaning of existence in terms of time alone will lead to arbitrary and chaotic limitation of this existence, which then takes on the quality of being rather mechanical. If we are to be creative rather than mechanical, our consciousness has to be primarily in the movement beyond time. Implicitly, this is well known to us. No one will be creative who does not have an intense interest in what one is doing. With such an interest one can see that one will be at most only dimly conscious of the passage of time. That is to say, though physical time still goes on, consciousness is not organized mainly in the order of psychological time; rather it acts from the holomovement. On the other hand, if the mind is constantly seeking the goal of finishing its task and reaching its aim (so that it is organized in terms of psychological time), it will lack the interest needed for true creativity."

 

"...the question of freedom has to be looked at in a different way [than we had done in the past]. This new way flows out of giving sustained and serious attention to how unfreedom arises basically from identification with the past, in which the mind commits itself to act as if it were determined mechanically in the ways in which grosser levels of matter are determined. We have to use the past, but to determine what we are from it is the mistake. To do this implies that such grosser mechanical existence in time has supreme value and that the main function of the mind is to sustain this sort of existence by continuing the past with modifications. The clear perception that we are the unknown, which is beyond time, allows the mind to give time its proper value, which is limited and not supreme. This is what makes freedom possible, in the sense of realizing our true potential for participating harmoniously in universal creativity." David Bohm, Time the implicate order, and pre-space, In: Physics and the Ultimate Significance of Time: Bohm, Prigogine, and Process Philosophy, David Ray Griffin (Ed.), State Univ. of NY Press, 1986.