The aliens among us

My April 2017 column for The Echo

Thinking about the aliens among us

By Frank DeMarco

Did you ever stop to think about the fact that we live among alien lifeforms?

I don’t mean extra-terrestrials. (Not even some of the people who post on Facebook.) I mean non-human lifeforms, as native to this planet as we are, and as different from us as could be.

Your mind might go first to the animals around us, but they are more like relatives. As different as we appear to be, I gather that the differences in our genetics are actually very few. A few percent of the genome, if I understand correctly. Of course, some people find it too much of a stretch to think of animals as relatives. Supposedly there is a great dividing line between ourselves and what used to be called dumb animals. The problem is, the more closely people look for that dividing line, the harder it is to find one.

Language? Who hasn’t heard of the apes who have learned American Sign Language – and taught it to their children! Tool-using? A YouTube video shows a crow using not one stick but two different sticks in succession as it figures out a complicated problem investigators had set. And so forth. If there is a line that separates humans and other animals, it’s difficult to see what it is. Anyone with pets has seen behavior that seems inexplicable if it is not self-awareness.

But beyond our fellow animals, let’s look at plants. When I was a boy it was assumed that plants “obviously” had no consciousness, only a set of reaction-patterns, responding to the presence or absence of light or heat or moisture. But many decades ago, Cleve Backster demonstrated that plants seemed to have emotional responses to threats; that they could divine hostile intentions; that they apparently could learn the difference between a real threat and a sham. In fact, apparently they could detect and react to human thought. Today it is known that plants also exchange information via their root structures, even that they engage in a form of chemical warfare.

Plants, let’s face it, live lives as mysterious as any extraterrestrial. Having no eyes, no ears, they live without vision or hearing. They can feel the sun and move toward it, clearly. But they can’t see it; they can’t see anything. They undoubtedly feel vibrations, but I don’t see how they could hear sounds in the way we do. These two differences alone make their world radically different from the world we know.

Now stretch it a little more – well, a lot more. What if everything we know is conscious? Rocks, clouds, water, air, synthetic fibers, radioactive waste? What kind of consciousness could matter have that had not only no brain, but no nervous system, no organs of perception, no defined boundaries? At first glance, impossible.

There is a way of seeing things, though, that not makes consciousness among seemingly inert matter not only conceivable, but probable; not only probable but inevitable. And that way of seeing things is the assumption that the world is made up not of matter and energy but of consciousness.

Quantum physicists have become convinced that the world is made of thought rather than things. This is not the place to go into the reasons why, even if I were competent to do so. But as long ago as 1930, English theoretical physicist Sir James Jeans said that increasingly, the universe seemed to him not a great machine but a great thought. He wasn’t speaking in metaphor. It was as close as words could come to expressing the mathematical relationships he lived among.

Now assume for the moment that all the world is made of consciousness. In such case, the fact that consciousness exists is no longer a mystery. Instead, it would be a mystery if any of the building blocks of that thought / world lacked consciousness. But different forms of life would have different forms of consciousness shaped to their circumstances. Your cat, sleeping on the rug, has no ability to speak but it makes its needs known, and it recognizes many words and even ideas. The tree swaying in the breeze has no eyes to see the sun that shines on it, no ears to hear the rustling of its own leaves. They live in different worlds. Nonetheless, they live.

English poet William Blake once wrote:

“How do you know but ev’ry Bird that cuts the airy way,
Is an immense world of delight, clos’d by your senses five?”

How do we know but that the iron in the earth, and the earth itself, and the fire that smelts it and the water that quenches the fire all have specific modes of consciousness.

Animal, vegetable, mineral: Alien life-forms made of thought, sharing with us a world made, like them, like us, of thought.


3 thoughts on “The aliens among us

  1. Nice reminder, Frank. Thanks!

    I have a garden. It is a way for me to be outdoors for a while each day. I get my hands dirty, chirp at the birds that “I am here, too!”, and care for each plant. It feels necessary for me, and I am reminded of Abraham (Hicks) suggesting to be outside in appreciation for 15 minutes each day.

    Your blog post also reminded me of the Miranon tapes over at TMI. Specifically, Explorer Tape #6 in which Miranon discusses the levels of physical existence (plants, animals and humans) with Robert Monroe.

    Plants, animals and humans … we are all extended here into the physical … together.

  2. Yeah Frank, I think about this (and try to feel my way into it) all the time. That is, relate to the trees, and the river, and the birds, and the wind, and the sun as if they are beings. I suppose it’s a kind of animism, more or less.
    Though, my “animism” could never really be like the animism of pre-modern societies. The conditions which have shaped me and us (you reference this indirectly at the beginning of this piece) are quite particular in that way.

    I recall asking Rita a few questions that pushed in this direction. And of course she replied, but never with the details or depth I was hoping for. But now I get a little mind-prodding that seems to say, “No! She was addressing exactly this in nearly all of her communications. Just not as directly and baldly as you would have liked!”

    Oh, something you and other folks around here might find interesting re: plant consciousness. A fellow named Ken Korczak wrote out a series of accounts of some lucid dreaming/obe(?) experiences he had. I believe he has commented here a few times over the years. The experiences are so fantastical that one can hardly credit their veracity. On the other hand they are so fantastical one can hardly believe someone could make it up. In any case, obe and dream states are hardly models of human-defined logic and rationality as everyone knows…

    Long story short: while dealing with certain other matters Ken encounters what he call the Pepper Being. Who is the Pepper Being? The disincarnate being/awareness of a pepper plant he has cared for over many years and who was, at the time of the dream encounter, still very much alive in the physical as a little pepper plant.

    The bit about the pepper being is mostly a side-note in a larger and equally strange narrative. Great stuff. I think people can find the story at unexplained mysteries dot com and lots other great ones related by Ken if they search the site using his name

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