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Stapledon, Olaf - Starmaker - Consciousness

Identifier

000238

Type of Spiritual Experience

Background

Olaf Stapledon envisaged everything as not only having practical form based functions of its own, but by virtue of the fact it inherited some of the basic functions of the creation, also had more abstract functionality – something akin to but not equal to a personality.  In effect, everything from the moment creation began had some form of consciousness, even if we may not recognise the consciousness which was created.

I'm certain that at this stage many of you will have laughed at the very idea of anything other than us and maybe a few animals having consciousness or at least functions we might define as abstract  functions, functions with no form.

But there is no proof that they don't.  And given the objectives of creation,  there is every reason why they should.  I, for one, when I started to read all the mystic observations I had collected, started to believe that everything has some form of consciousness.  If an object can be named it has the potential to be conscious.

I find these views particularly interesting and appealing, which is why they are included.  They also have an odd resonance with many Greek ideas of the 'personification' of the gods.  They would certainly keep any astrologer happy, as if this is the case forms of consciousness may apply to a number of planets and constellations.  If it can be named, it has the potential.

This is rather a long observation because the related quotes need to be kept together

A description of the experience

He imagined how the nebulae might have been formed and the type of consciousness thus created

Olaf Stapledon – Star Maker
I watched them condense into close knit balls with sharper contours, then into lentoid discs, featured with brighter streams and darker chasms.  As they condensed, each gained more unity, became more organic in structure … each nebula was now a single great pool of faint radiation.   And now mentally these greatest of all megatheria these ameoboid titans began to waken into a vague unity of experience … each of the great nebulae was aware of its own lentoid body as a single volume compact of tingling currents.  Each craved fulfilment of its organic potency craved easement from the pressure of physical energy welling softly within it, craved at the same time free expression of all its powers of movement, craved also something more …. they desired union with one another and they had a blind passionate urge to be gathered up once more into the source whence they had come…................
I was aware only of crude hungers .. the lust to assimilate physical energy for the maintenance of life, the lust of movement and of contact, the lust for light and warmth.   In their earliest phase when they were the most tenuous clouds, their mentality was no more than a formless craving for action and a sleepy perception of the infinitely slight congestion of their own vacuous substance.…..........................
presently I was able to follow their history from the time when they first awakened, when they first existed as discrete clouds of gas flying apart after the explosive acts of creation … to the time when, with the birth of the stellar hosts out of their substance, they sank into senility and death...
for now there appeared a new trouble, some of the eldest of the nebulae complained of a strange sickness … the outer fringes of their tenuous flesh began to concentrate into little knots.  These became in time grains of intense, congested fire … the seniors one by one fell into a state of sluggishness and confusion which ended invariably in the sleep men call death … one by one the celestial megatheria were annihilated giving place to stars.

In effect, Stapledon ‘imagines’ [perceives] that there is an evolutionary cycle which involves birth and death for galaxies, nebulae, stars, planets, and the earth, not just species.  The wheel of life applies to everything from small to large.  When its job is done, it physically dies, even though its functionality may live on and be absorbed into the totality of the Ultimate Intelligence [Star Maker].  He also tried to imagine the type of consciousness a star might possess and then described it

 Olaf Stapledon – Star Maker
Stars are best regarded as living organisms, but organisms which are physiologically of a very peculiar kind.  The outer and middle layers of a mature star apparently consist of 'tissues' woven of currents of incandescent gases.  These gaseous tissues live and maintain the stellar consciousness by intercepting part of the immense flood of energy that wells from the congested and furiously active interior of the star
The star's motor life is to be thought of almost as a life of dance.  The star itself by means of its purchase of the electromagnetic field of the cosmos apparently wills and executes this ideal course [of least action] with all the attention and delicacy of response which a motorist exercises in threading through traffic on a winding road... the star's whole physical behaviour is normally experienced as a blissful, an ecstatic, an ever successful pursuit of formal beauty.... but the actual perception of the aesthetic or religious rightness of the mysterious canon remained beyond us, clearly it was in some way symbolic of some spiritual intuition that remained occult to minded worlds

Stapledon also had some wonderful inspirations about how stars evolved over time, going through a stage of youthfulness when they had 'aesthetic fervour' and 'pursued wisdom', to a dwarf state when they understood more spiritually, to the white dwarf state when they had 'a crisis of despair', became 'aloof' ,  'cynical and icy' and finally their death when they became unconscious.   He also described how stars 'feel' when they come in close proximity to one another

Olaf Stapledon – Star Maker
each star... is moved not only by the pure aesthetic or religious motive, but also by a will to afford its partner every legitimate opportunity for self expression … the life of each star is experienced not only as the perfect execution of formal beauty but also as the perfect expression of love …. all stars young and old are mentally angelic, in that they all freely and joyfully will the good will, the pattern of right action so far as it is revealed to them .. there is no such thing as sin … no choice of the course known to be wrong..........…............in due season they come into contact with one another in an agonising blaze of joy and pain …..... [there is] the projection of a filament from one towards another.  In the moment of the 'moth kiss' each star experiences an intense but humanly intelligible physical ecstasy

And he perceived the galaxy, for example,  to be a 'creature' with consciousness

Olaf Stapledon – Star Maker
But then the whole galaxy was itself so vital, so like an organism, with its delicate tracery of star streams, like the streams within a living cell, and its extended wreaths, almost like feelers and its nucleus of light.  Surely this great and lovely creature must be alive, must have intelligent experience of itself and of things other than it

The source of the experience

Stapledon, Olaf

Concepts, symbols and science items

Symbols

Stars

Science Items

Activities and commonsteps

Activities

Commonsteps

References