Sunday, March 26, 2017
Endless doppelgangers in the multiverse
What would it mean if we could seize hold of the understanding that we are living, right now, in one of many worlds with endless doppelgangers in all the others - and might be on a convergence or collision path with some of them? A physicist and a fantasy writer introduce the theme. It is active dreamers who will contribute most to understanding how we can confirm and apply this model of reality on experiential, not merely speculative, levels.
Physicist Brian Greene's book The Hidden Reality delivers a scientific model for the idea that we may all have "endless doppelgangers" leading parallel lives in parallel universes. When we develop the skills of Active Dreaming, we are able to explore this experientially - and to learn how to bring gifts and lessons from a parallel world into this one.
Greene makes frequent use of the term "multiverse." It's worth noting that this term was used - and probably coined - a century ago by the great American philosopher, psychologist and psychic researcher William James. James wrote:
The cosmos is not a closed and harmonious system; it is a battleground of cross-currents and conflicting purposes; it shows itself, with pathetic obviousness, as not a uni- but a multi-verse.
Enter the brilliant and prolific fantasy writer Michael Moorcock, who dropped the hyphen and brough the term "multiverse" into popular usage.In his second Eternal Champion novel, The Sundered Worlds, Moorcock used the word “to describe the idea of the near infinity of co-existing space-time continua each fractionally different, in which certain struggles and stories are played out through eternity, on a vast number of planes of existence.” (I am quoting his introduction to the 1996 omnibus edition of the Eternal Champions series).
In the very first novel in the series, Moorcock referred to "Ghost Worlds" rather than to the multiverse. Later in his writing career, Moorcock described the original Eternal Champion novel as “the shout of a young man who finds the world a more complicated place and feels, therefore, betrayed.” He also pronounces it “central” to his work, the jumping-off point for many books that followed.
Despite the flaws in this early work, it has one feature that will appeal to dream travelers. The Eternal Champion opens in the liminal state between waking and sleeping, when “we have most of us had the illusion of hearing voices.”
In a cold winter bed looking through the window at the moon, the protagonist John Daker, starts hearing a repeated word that sounds like gibberish: Erekosë, Erekosë, Erekosë. Each night he increases his effort to concentrate on this mystery word, his “hallucinations” grow stronger, and then “it seemed I broke free of my body altogether.” As he hangs in darkness, many other names stream through his mind, and the original strange word becomes part of a call: “Erekosë the Champion, where are you?”
As the adventure unfolds, we come to understand that the hero has received a call from across time and dimensions, to play his part in a drama in the multiverse. The way that the call comes in the twilight state of hypnagogia will ring true for conscious dreamers.
In the sixth novel in Moorcock's Elric series, Elric: Swords and Roses, the hero risks losing his mind in the complexity of competing timelines:
Now Elric was caught up in a kind of intradimensional hurricane, in which a thousand reverses occurred within his brain at once and he became a thousand other creatures for an instant, and where he lived through more than ten other lives; a fate only minimally different from the one that was familiar to him; and so vast did the multiverse become, so unthinkable, that he began to go mad as he attempted to make sense of just a fraction of what laid siege to his sanity.
But the vision of a seer reassures him, and us, that awakening to the nature of the multiverse can also be the source of great power for the good:
It is our firm belief that we shall one day learn the plan of the entire multiverse and travel at will from Sphere to Sphere, from realm to realm, from world to world, travel through the great clouds of shifting, multicolored stars, the tumbling planets in all their millions, through galaxies that swarm like gnats in a summer garden, and rivers of light--glory beyond glory--pathways of moonbeams between the roaming stars.
Want to know more? Read Brian Greene to satisfy that science-oriented skeptic and speculative thinker inside you. Read Moorcock to enter a fictive multiverse of possibilities. Read my chapter "Soul in the Multiverse" in Dreaming the Soul Back Home for a human model of what it means to live in the many worlds and how dreams can provide first-hand evidence that we are leading continuous lives in other realities. Above all, go dreaming and spend more time - conscious and dreaming - in the twilight zone between sleep and awake, by the techniques you'll find explained in my book Dreamgates.
Image: The Eternal Champion of Michael Moorcock's multiverse, by Gerald Brom.