~Extract from Voices of the First Day: Awakening in the Aboriginal Dreamtime by Robert Lawlor :
'Space, in our conventional awareness, is basically felt as distance, the empty interval separating objects. Our notion of space depends on our notion of time, which is necessary to measure distance. Hence most of the words we use to describe space, such as long and short, are also used to describe time.
Aborigines do not perceive space as distance. Space for them is consciousness and like consciousness, space is divided into two modes. The perceptible, tangible entities in space are like the conscious mind, and the invisible space between things corresponds to the unconscious mind. The term unconscious is misleading: the unconscious is always conscious; it is a continuum of dreaming. In Western culture, the presence and activity of the unconscious is obvious only during sleep and dreams. For the Aborigines, the unconscious mind is continous and ever-present, permeating all levels of existence, just as space invisibly fills everything from galaxies to the interior of the the atom. The conscious mind is like the things of this world: appearing and disappearing, alternating between wakefulness and sleep, between life and death.
The visible actuality of a form exists simultaneously with its invisible potential, just as the conscious perception exists simultaneously with the flow of the unconscious. Similarly, the potential of the seed and the actuality of the plant appear to follow one another in sequence, as day follows night. From the perspective of the Dreaming, though, day and night exist simultaneously as the opposite sides of a spinning sphere. The Aborigines refer to the inseparable relationship between the actual and the potential, the conscious and the unconscious, as the light and dark faces of the moon - both are always present. In a similar manner, the genetic code might appear to be evolving in sequence from simple to complex, but the simple, primary cells and patterns are present on earth at the same time as the complex forms, varieties, and combinations. The apparent all-pervasiveness of the sequential pattern results from our elevation of and total reliance on the functions of the conscious mind.
Everything that has a spatial existence results from a relationship between the Dreaming and the perceivable world, between the conscious and unconscious aspects of mind. To the Aborigines, the rainbow symbolises the edge of the unconscious; it is the Dreaming, where the invisible potentials begin to become visible. Birds, who wing their way through empty space, are the messengers of the unconscious, and flashes of lightening are violent discharges of energy from the depths of the unconscious.
To define consciousness as a field of activity with the potential to create unlimited forms, comparisons, analogies, and meanings is to approach the space perception of the Dreamtime. All spatial relationships in the Dreamtime are primarily symbolic. Meaning and information are not transported across distances and time, they are an integral part of consciousness expressing itself as spatial order and arrangement. For this reason, if an Aboriginal child inadvertently kicks a stone or twig, he or she is instructed by the tribal elder to replace it exactly how it was. To the Aborigines, the spatial landscape is a perfect symbolic description of the psychic content of humans and of the ancestral forces that created the world. To disturb the earth in any way is to obscure the meaning and history of humanity & reality. Knowledge is shared through resonance in space and time. Meaning, not space and time, connects all things.
The logic of space is the logic of a dream. An Aboriginal woman recently interviewed on television said, "With your vision you see me sitting on a rock, but I am sitting on the body of my ancestor. The earth, his body and my body are identical." The logic of dreams does not prevent our being from flowing into the being of other creatures, so that we live in their form and in their awareness. In dreams, other creatures enter and inhabit us. Every character in a dream is fabricated from the stuff of consciousness. In dreams, subject and object interpenetrate.
There is no external space separate from the internal. There are no objects or events - be they stars, spaceships, or molecules - separate from the feelings, desires, projections, activities, and images of consciousness. All are children born from the relationship between the conscious and the unconscious. Once we have been deluded by imbalanced modes of perception or misconstructed language into believing that space is separate from consciousness and time is other than the rhythmic swing between the subjective and the objective, then we have lost sight of the reality of creation.
The phenomenal world is considered the dream of the ancestral beings. Neither the dream nor the phenomenal world is considered an illusion; rather, together they constitute reality. Toward the end of his life, the visionary biologist Gregory Bateson intuited the existence of the Dreamtime :
"The individual mind is imminent but not only in the body. It is imminent also in pathways and messages outside the body, and there is a larger mind of which the individual mind is only a sub-system. This larger mind is comparable to god and is perhaps what some people mean by god, but it is still imminent in the total interconnected social systems and planetary ecology."
At this juncture in human history, it is imperative that we recover a sense of the deep logic that underlies the Aboriginal language, rituals, and way of life.'