Stalking the Wild Pendulum: on the mechanics of consciousness
By: Itzhak Bentov
Something about this book grabbed me from the first time I was exposed to it, via various passages and a picture that someone had posted on an online forum. I suspected I would enjoy it at least to some certain degree, but little did I know how connected it would be to my own path. I say this without even having read it yet, other than skimming the first few pages, before deciding to stop and write an accompanying review as I read. This is that.
The cover has a picture of a circular, radial pendulum, in rainbow colors, sharing a general resemblance to my Circle of Knowledge, a picture I created attempting to unify all subject matter into one diagram. On the copyright page, I see the book was written in the year I was born, 1977, immediately contributing to some cosmic connectedness. My interest immediately doubles, as if somehow waiting for me from 43 years in the past, the adjacent page bears a dedication that reads, “Dedicated to those individuals who are trying to pull together diverse aspects of nature into one new, meaningful whole.” “That’s me!” I shouted internally, as I wondered if such synchronicity could continue, thinking all this, and it’s only the dedication page. Let’s read a bit.
The author gives acknowledgements, and then there is a preface by one of the acknowledged. There is nothing too special here, other than learning some of the author’s habits, interests, and the reason he wrote the book, save a sentiment shared about the state of established science. The sentiment was the following. “The present scientific establishment has grown somewhat fossilized by its current ‘world picture’ and is locked into a view of reality that has outlived its usefulness. It has begun to limit mankind’s growth and has so increased its sense of specialization, separateness, materiality, and mechanical computerlike functioning that it is in real danger of self-extermination. Its sense of wholeness and purpose has been severely fragmented as our egos have reveled in the individual power created by ownership of physical scientific knowledge. We desperately need to find a path back to wholeness!” It expands that point a bit more, ending with “However, we have presently become so focused on this one path that we have lost the flexibility of sensing all the other possible paths of knowledge available to us in the wonderland of nature.” I couldn’t agree more.
Next is an introduction by the author, Itzhak Bentov. The intro spans 7 pages, mentions specific reasons for writing the book, and gives a preview of the material that will be discussed. It includes many metaphysical topics, as well as a paragraph on the need to reinstate scientific creativity and thought experiments balanced with the pragmatism of predication and testability, while not being chained to the later to the degree of stagnation. This serves as an echo of the dedication, and is analogous to my limited writings on the matter in a subject I dubbed rogue physics. He ends with a comment about his belief in a creator that he labels “He” when needed, but states that he considers a creator to be “neither he nor she, but both.” His reason for this is that he “couldn’t bring myself to call Him ‘Chairperson of the Universe,’” and that he “didn’t think He would go for that, nor could I face Him in good conscience afterward.”
In the intro, Itzhak says that the first 4 chapters are more technical than the rest, serving as the background and groundwork for his ideas. Chapter 1 is about Sounds, Waves, and Vibrations, and it turns out to be an overview of certain concepts in those fields made palatable to the average reader, whom may have limited familiarity with them. He covers vibration, interference, beats, coherence, holograms, oscillators, resonance, and entrainment.
Chapter 2 begins with the crystalline, oscillatory, and vacuum nature of microscopic particles. From there it connects that to the resonance of the atmosphere, and then on to the resonance of the human body. It finishes by suggesting how that serves a role in meditation, and how people’s energies create an entrainment network around the planet. Of personal note, he also offers an explanation on a certain shallow breathing that occurs during meditation, and how it connects to aortic heart-lung feedback loops. This is something that I am personally very familiar with during my own meditation, but had wondered about the safety or effects of lowered oxygenation for extended periods of time. According to him it matches a lowered need for oxygen in the body and is a natural occurrence.
Chapter 3 increases speed, and builds upon the groundwork of the previous 2. I also saw more connections to my own musings about the nature of space and time, and was delighted to find that I’ve independently reached some of the same conclusions as Itzhak. The section starts with the macro adaptation of bodily organs to their micro oscillatory components, but quickly transitions into the nature of motion in general. The reader is introduced to the “Wild Pendulum” referred to in the title, and by chapter’s end, he is drawing parallels between relativity and quantum mechanics in saying “It may be useful for us to ponder the possibility that ‘tangible reality’ exists for us only as long as there is movement; and when the movement stops, matter and solid reality become diffuse and disappear.”
Even more enjoyable was the fact that just as I was delighted at independently sharing his insights about those parallels, he had the same experience with those same insights tied to a book he had read, titled “The Secret Oral Teachings in Sacred Buddhist Sects.” He quotes from the book: “The tangible world is movement, say the masters, not a collection of moving objects, but movement itself. There are no objects ‘in movements,’ it is the movement which constitutes the objects which appear to us: they are nothing but movement.” I happen to think differently than that portion of the quote at face value, but he continues to quote: “There are two theories and both consider the world as movement. One states that the course of this movement (which creates phenomena) is continuous, as the flow of a quiet river seems to us. The other declares that the movement is intermittent and advances by separate flashes of energy which follow each other at such small intervals that the intervals are almost non-existent.” I am of the school that the object and movement are one in some way, that continuous and quantized movement can coexist simultaneously via reference, and that the movement is the fundamental relationship unifying space and time. While the first part of the quote suggests that the movement is paramount, and the second part suggests that a choice must be made between continuous or quantized, both serve a higher function declaring that movement is the key that cannot be removed from the model. From his own statement on the matter, I believe this was the overall context on which he was using the quotes to remark. It is motion that will impart the physical nature of time missing from so many models. Interestingly, the next chapter is titled: “An Experiment with Time.” Let us see where this goes.
Chapter 4 took a different route than expected. It is the most technical chapter so far, and though he keeps it in common terms, the concepts he uses are slightly advanced. Itzhak gives an overview of light cones and objective relativism, and then uses them to model psychologically subjective time. He describes omnipresence, and layers it with the Wild Pendulum principle and subjective time, to provide a possible model for clairvoyance, psychic abilities, channeled information, or in general, other states of altered consciousness.
In the Quantity and Quality of Consciousness, chapter 5, he provides a useful mechanical, inorganic definition of consciousness and develops it. The chapter does indeed return to a less technical nuance, and most of it is spent describing universal consciousness. It ends up taking on a very Hermetic tone, that all is mind, and ends with the synthetic, paradoxical logic, of the reconciliation of motion and rest, though he doesn’t label it as such.
Now halfway through the book, the Relative Realities section continues in a conversational manner. The first part deals with different levels found in Universal consciousness, and contains many similarities to the structural pillars of 5/8ths of my “Circle of Knowledge” chart. As such, I found it very easy to digest, and enjoyed the small parable about rock consciousness provided along the way. The segment concludes by carrying the levels of awareness into the dream, astral, and mental realms, and briefly touches on and uses them to add support for reincarnation into the model.
Chapter 7 is short, and serves as a consolidation of topics covered, as well as a rebuttal of sorts to skeptics finding themselves adverse to some of the suggestions along the way. It also solidifies a concept of higher self.
Chapter 8 seemed like the book’s crescendo, and went all out on a model of the Universe. Right off the bat, Itzhak reveals his penchant for a cyclic Universe model, yet another factor I found we have in common. He provides a basic background to the current big bang model, and then uses his logics and reasonings to convert it to a closed, cyclic model instead. I have attempted the very same, and without going into details, it was enjoyable to see where our attempts agreed and differed. There were parts in complete agreement, and also those where I thought, “you made it this far how could you have not seen it’s the exact opposite of what you just wrote!” I can say for certain I would have loved to discuss it with him. This segment includes bits on black and white holes, quasars, was also more Hermetic in nature, and was again a bit more technical than the previous 3.
Chapter 9 ties the model of the “Cosmic Egg” back to chapter 1, and works its way toward a close. It mainly discusses concepts of planetary and solar consciousnesses, and how to use all the information provided to aid in intuition.
Finally, in chapter 10, all the material is summarized, as Itzhak tries to reproduce the logic of the “Great Chairperson of the Universe” that would have ended up with such a system. Dispatching with most technicality, he finishes with an air of gnostic whimsy, discussing “sausage event matrices” and “cosmic eggs,” in a grand breakfast of consciousness. If you read and enjoy the book, there is a very short epilogue which is not to be missed, and an appendix adding additional commentary on a few topics. Needless to say I thoroughly enjoyed the book and found many parallels with the author. The book is a short read at a quick 151 pages. I would recommend this book to students and lovers of psychology, philosophy, physics, metaphysics, spirituality, and anyone else with an appreciation for or interest in models of the mechanics of consciousness.