What if time and space really are illusions? To imagine such a possibility requires suspending conventional views of heaven and hell, and unconventional views about reincarnation. It necessitates considering the “spacious present” as containing an infinite variety of probable pasts and futures.
In such a scenario, what we perceive as immortality is a given, with no beginnings, no endings, and no ultimate answers or conclusions, just a perpetual state of becoming. In the world of the spacious present, time is not a line, and space is not measured in distances. Immortality is a state of being, with varying focus creating the experience we call life. We do not move through time or space; they move through us. In considering this concept, the question becomes one of how a person might change his/her approach to life if he/she believes there is no final escape and no final reward, just a continuation of challenges and abilities encountered in this existence.
Mystics throughout the ages emphasize varying versions of “Be here now,” which gives the present its due. Quantum physics is verging on the same understanding of time as a matter of perception.
The idea of timelessness subtends the premise of my novel, in which an immortal being from a seven-dimensional universe becomes stuck in space-time. He hopes to save himself by saving the Earth from itself. Unfortunately for Beon, he has contracted the disease of solipsism, which convinces him he’s the center of the universe, and everything outside himself is a figment of his imagination.
This excerpt from the chapter that introduces Beon describes his disease. It seems relevant in light of our current Earthly challenges.
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From “Beon’s Disease” chapter:
Suddenly, the word “solipsism,” caught his attention. He looked past Bud’s throne to the far wall, where the large screen Interdimensional-Intergalactic Internet and High-Vibe TV transmitted news and programming from 7-D, Beon’s home universe, the one he escaped forever ago, in a moment of weakness.
“Solipsism has reached epidemic proportions in 7-D,” the newscaster was saying. “Mutant life forms from the destroyed planets Reshiba, Charam, and Binorem are stalking the universes, desperately seeking vitality, spreading solipsism wherever they go.”
The announcer continued. “We are honored to have as our guest Dr. Robert Strand, medical director for the famous Solipsism Treatment Center. Dr. Strand is here to tell us about this virulent disease and how to protect yourself from it.” He turned to face his guest.
“Hello, Dr. Strand,” he said. “Thank you for joining us. First, would you explain what solipsism is and why it is so dangerous?”
The camera zoomed in on the doctor’s haggard face. Beon raised the volume and exclaimed, “Look, Bud. It’s Doctor Stand. He diagnosed me, remember?” Bud opened his eyes, yawned, and closed them again.
“Certainly,” Dr. Strand replied, “but I need to supply some background. As many of you know, in 7-D, everyone is immortal, so life is measured in units of vitality rather than time. It can flow strong or weak, but it never stops. For us, time is a minor dimension, subservient to vitality levels. We can past and future fish, changing the past and the future with our focused intent. Our vitality levels determine the pasts and futures we reel in. We know that peaceful living enhances vitality. Conflict depletes it.”
The interviewer interrupted, his voice nervous. “If what you’re saying is true, then our universe is severely vitality-depleted. War and conflict have become the norm, and few remember peaceful times.”
“That’s correct,” said Dr. Strand. “It’s the major manifestation of a solipsism epidemic. It’s important to understand that solipsists deny any reality other than their own. For instance, if I stopped taking my medication, I would begin to view you as a figment of my imagination, to be controlled or extinguished as I see fit. I could deny your existence or sap your vitality by provoking you into a rage, or by manipulating you in other ways.”
“You are a solipsist?” the interviewer asked. “I thought admitting you have it is proof that you don’t.”
“And denying you have it is proof that you do,” replied Dr. Strand, with a wry grin. “There’s some truth to that, but primarily the disease is characterized by the pain you cause others. Others are forced to catch it in self-defense.
“Solipsists drain others’ vitality to feed their own. Working with solipsists would have sapped my vitality to the vegetable point if I hadn’t put myself on medication.” The doctor paused. The camera shifted to a group of various life forms in a large room.
Dr. Strand’s voice continued. “This video clip shows a typical meeting of solipsists at the Solipsism Treatment Center. I called the meeting for new patients to meet and set the day’s priorities, then I left the room.”
Suddenly, sounds of pandemonium blasted from Beon’s speakers. Everyone was talking and no one was listening. There was no moderator. Beon felt his vitality levels decreasing, sucked across the dimensions into the vortex of the solipsistic gathering.
Beon winced and muted the sound. He shifted his gaze and spoke to the cat. “Do you remember Dr. Strand, Bud? He said I was a textbook case of solipsism, the worst he’d ever seen. He put me on medication after I caused the Triple-Big Accident that destroyed those three planets. He said my chest pain resulted from toxic buildup of stolen vitality.”
Bud winked, or appeared to wink. Beon couldn’t be sure. His eyes drifted back to the High-Vibe screen, where the meeting continued. “No solipsist considers anyone else wise enough to moderate a meeting or impartial enough to make a decision. The meeting will continue indefinitely, with attendance waxing and waning, and no resolution possible.”
When the camera cut back to the interview, Beon turned the sound back up. “How do you replenish vitality?” the interviewer asked.
“No one knows for sure,” Dr. Strand replied, “because no one knows where vitality comes from. If we knew that, we might find a cure for solipsism, by providing pure sources of vitality for depleted individuals.”
“I know!” Beon almost screamed at the screen. “I know how to harness pure sources.”
He knew attempting to communicate through the Triple-In was futile. He could receive but not transmit, ever since he plunged the Cosmo Cruiser through that black hole forever ago. From a 7-D perspective, Beon had ceased to exist, or so it seemed.
“I was once a hero, but now I’m not even a villain, even though I’m responsible for infecting all of 7-D. I don’t get credit or blame, because solipsists don’t recognize specialness outside themselves. They don’t even notice I’m gone.”
Beon muted the High-Vibe TV and jumped up from his chair. He started orbiting Bud’s throne, a habit he’d developed since his ill-fated suicide attempt, the one that trapped him in this space-time prison. He circled counter-clockwise, as if to recapture the lost past, with all the choice points that had landed him in this fix. As he walked, he talked.
“For me, solipsism is a disease, but for you, it’s an art form, isn’t it, Bud?” he said. “You are the center of the Cosmos, and life serves you. Maybe I’m a figment of your imagination, conjured just to feed you, invent vitality-enhancing thrones for you, and build robots like Alfred to change your litter box.”
As Bud started purring, his throne responded to the change in vibrations, with its energy field brightening and sparkling. The musical tones quickened, and Beon’s pace kept the beat, stepping lively now, in his circuit around the throne. The worry lines between his eyes relaxed.
Have you finished your novel, Katharine?
Over and over and over and over. Unfortunately, I keep finding more need for improvement. How’s your novel coming?
I finished my second novel in September last year, but haven’t yet found a literary agent or publisher.
Well, good luck. I wish I had some good advice or tips for you
This is good, and interesting. I’ll have to re-read a few more times to make all the connections, but for now, I’ll tackle this part, and quote: ” In considering this concept, the question becomes one of how a person might change his/her approach to life if he/she believes there is no final escape and no final reward, just a continuation of challenges and abilities encountered in this existence.”
Here you describe quite accurately how I view life. This approach brings to the fore the need to take responsibility for all aspects of one’s life which is so terribly lacking in most Earthians. Why would anyone sacrifice their life if it is a meaningless, terminal enterprise? Sure, some believe that good deeds gets them to heaven but more and more people choose to believe in one life, then annihilation of body and personality, or mind. Until all realize fully that life is an on-going process and that it is “designed” (by intelligent design or haphazardly by some mindless force) with interaction of mind between all aspects of it, the people of earth and their world will suffer greatly and continue to plunge exponentially towards final entropy, or as you put it, a decrease in vitality levels. Awareness of one’s eternity (not immortality, that’s a different thing altogether) automatically cancels any effect of solipsism because the infinite/eternal being is self-empowered and that only has meaning through cooperation with all other aspects of life. My take on this at the moment.
That’s my take, too. You make a good point that awareness of one’s eternity (and I like that word, too) automatically cancels out any effect of solipsism. That’s why in the novel, solipsism is a disease that allowed Beon to imagine he could commit suicide.
Deep – –