Over the years, Laurie has been attracted to many men. She almost always characterizes these men as ‘nice’. Indeed when queried as to why she chose me to be her boyfriend over 50 years ago, Laurie replied, “Because you were so nice.”
What is the meaning of the term ‘nice’ for Laurie? When I pursued what she meant, she replied, “I was very impressed when you opened your VW van’s door for me on our first date.” Hmmm? This comment seemed to indicate that for Laurie that the term ‘nice’ is associated with ‘being courteous’. From this example, I assumed that ‘nice’ meant courteous, kind and respectful of her.
Still a bit mystified by the importance she attributed to ‘nice’, I asked, “Are most men mean and disrespectful?”
L: “No, most men are nice.”
Me: “If many men fit the category of ‘nice’, what makes the ‘nice’ of the men you are attracted to so special?”
L: “Most men are blah.”
M: “As in not excited about Life?”
L: “No, as in not excited about me.”
Me: “So the men that attract you are excited about you.”
L: “Exactly. Duh!”
Me: “They are so excited that they treat you well, as in courteous, respectful and kind.”
L: “Plus they are interested in me and what I do.”
Me: “Wow! That’s a much richer ‘nice’ than I had ever imagined.”
Let’s apply our ID model to Laurie’s ‘nice’.
A less ambiguous synonym for ‘nice’ might be the word ‘attentive’.
Men that are attractive to Laurie are those that are ‘attentive’ (nice) to her.
Put conversely, looks, status, wealth and athletic ability are secondary to being ‘attentive’ to her. To take this stance, Laurie’s self-esteem must be elevated, firm and substantial – a strong sense of self-worth.
Let’s unpack some of these terms in the context of the ID model.
‘Attentive’ is relatively easy as it is a derivative of Attention, the prime focus of my opus. ‘Attentive’ means that the individual in question (could be female as well as male) attends to and interacts with the data streams associated with Laurie. Put another way, Laurie and the human she is attracted to are investing their mental energy in the same image streams.
The term ‘Laurie’ is more difficult, and as such could be more fruitful. Self, in this context, could be a general synonym for ‘Laurie’.
The ‘Self’ of the Cell – cellular intelligence – is linked, according to our ID model, with the Collective Attention that emerges from the firing of the hundreds of thousands of IMP’s in the cell’s membrane.
Attention does not have a specific location, like an atom or molecule, but is rather more like a force field. Rather than the cell’s center, Attention, as cellular intelligence, is more connected to the cellular membrane. Makes intuitive sense. As the cell’s collective sensory-motor network, Attention must be ‘interacting’ with the environment from the perimeter, rather locked away in the middle.
Further, Attention, as mentioned earlier, doesn’t exist in the same fashion as an electron, atom or object. Rather Attention has more in common with an electromagnetic wave/field. How? The movement of electrons evokes EM waves. No movement à no force fields to change material reality. Similarly, the movement of information evokes Attention. No info movement à No Attention.
According to the ID model, the ‘moving’ information that generates Attention consists of the data streams generated from interaction of the IMPs with their immediate environment. In this sense, it could be said that Attention is an emergent feature of Matter.
The two types of ‘wave/fields’, EM and Life, have significant differences. Electromagnetic waves are impersonal, automatic, purposeless and entropic. The waves of the ID system are personal, intentional, purposeful and organizational.
Further the two types of ‘waves’ inhabit different planes of existence. EM waves operate in time’s horizontal dimension, while ID ‘waves’ operate in time’s vertical dimension. Time’s two dimensions are orthogonal in that they intersect along a set boundary. Life exists at the intersection of the two planes.
Due to these significant differences, it seems appropriate to find a new term for Attention’s emanation. Let us employ the term ‘aura’ to indicate this collective informational field. Although the term has a variety of meanings in popular parlance, we want to emphasize the term ‘aura’ in the ID context has a more precise technical meaning. ‘Aura’ is only associated with the ‘life force’ that emerges from the firing of hundreds of thousands IMPs. The collective firing of all the IMPs on the cellular membrane provides the physical substrate for an ‘Aura’. As mentioned in many contexts, the physical substrate is not the ‘Aura’.
The cell’s Aura emanates from the membrane, both inwards towards the center (the internal environment) and outwards into the external environment. We imagine that the ‘Aura’s’ organizing influence falls off as a function of the distance from the membrane. The Aura organizes both the cell’s internal and external behavior. The Aura’s purpose is to optimize the chances that the cell will both survive and thrive.
Just as the cell’s Aura emerges from the collective info activity of the hundreds of thousands of IMPs, the aura of a multi-cellular organism emerges from the collective info activity of countless cells, with their individual auras. Another way of putting the same phenomenon: the individual Auras join together to generate a collective Aura.
In both instances (single cell and multicellular), we imagine that there must be a critical number of IMPs and cell Auras to generate both the cellular intelligence and the collective intelligence of the multi-cellular organism.
This analysis in not magical thinking, as there is a parallel in the Material Realms. Just as it takes a critical number of IMPs to generate cellular intelligence required for survival, it takes a critical number of water molecules before liquid water will turn into ice crystals when frozen. Physicists are not sure how the water molecules suddenly make this collective decision to organize themselves into ice.
“OK guys – 10 more molecules joined our group – time to organize ourselves into some ice crystals.”
“Why, you ask? Because of our innate nature. It is what we do. Your wife rides a bike; you write books; we turn into ice. But only if there is enough of us, not before. It’s just the way we are.”
Water’s phase transition and many others continue to mystify the scientific community. Could it be connectivity? Must there be connections between enough water molecules to generate ice? Is it possible that sufficient connectivity turns IMPs into cellular intelligence and individual cells into a multi-cellular organism? No one knows.
We do know that it took Nature/Evolution more than a billion years to entice the individual cells to cooperate (sacrifice their individual independence) and join their individual Auras into the security of the collective Aura of the larger cellular community/group. Connectivity could be one factor. Could pleasure and power also contribute? We will discuss these other factors in ensuing sections.
We have been discussing embodied organisms and their auras. For instance, we suggested that it takes a critical number of IMPs to enable the collective holistic intelligence (the aura) of a cell and a critical number of cells to enable the collective holistic intelligence (the aura) of a multi-cellular organism. The same type of analysis could be applied to disembodied organisms to better conceptualize their collective consciousness and behavior.
Disembodied organisms are all around us. Groups, tribes, packs, hives, countries and even corporations are all examples of disembodied organisms. Unlike embodied organisms (cells), disembodied organisms do not have skin to separate inside from outside.
Both cells and multicellular organisms have holistic Auras that interact with the environment to enable the entity to survive and thrive. Similarly disembodied organisms, such as countries and hives, also have a holistic Aura that organizes and motivates the parts to serve the greater whole.
Just as the number of IMPs/cells is directly proportional to the organism’s intelligence, similarly we suspect that the number of members in a disembodied organism (group) is directly proportional to the group intelligence1. Cathedrals and world wars are great examples of the power of the group Aura.
Rather than sheer numbers, perhaps the collective intelligence of humans is more related to a shared and growing technology. Scientists studying cultural evolution present evidence that humans aren’t that smart individually and that our ecological dominance derives from our collective intelligence. Another example of the powerful intelligence of disembodied organisms.
Atoms and molecules, cells and organisms are all objectifications/materializations of energy, one material, the other living. The group, whether flock or bacteria colony, are just a looser, more fluid, less solid concentration of the life force. If you’ve ever watched flocking birds or schooling fish from a distance, they appear to be as one, not many. Even though there is no skin to bind them as a physical unit, the group Aura is strong, especially as compared with an individual bird or fish.
Laurie is attracted to men that are ‘nice’ (attentive) to her self. Who is the ‘self’ in the context of our ID model? Could this ‘self’ be related to Laurie’s personal Aura? Could employing the notion of an Aura as a stand-in for Self assist us to better understand the meaning of Laurie’s statement?
Let us be careful not to confuse this Aura/Self equivalence with the Self or Aura in the context of Buddhism, contemporary psychology, physiology or New Age philosophy. Aura and Self are defined solely in the context of our model.
To reinforce our memory, let review the meaning of the term ‘Aura’ in our ID model.
Our collective, holistic Attention is an emergent property of the collective firings of the 100K IMPs on the cellular membrane (the cell’s surface). Attention is one component of Life’s ID system that includes Feelings, Mind, and Intention. Life employs the ID System as a sensory/motor/computational interface with the environment. The entire holistic complex is responsible and required for the generation of Experiences (Memory) and Habits that are basic elements of our Self.
Rather than a precise location, the Attention complex seems to arise from the cell’s membrane. This Attention complex seems to emanate in all directions to unify and organize countless inanimate atoms behind a common goal. Due the multiplicity and interdependency of the parts, Attention is too broad, hence misleading, as a name for the complex. For ease of reference and familiarity, we have instead chosen to employ the term ‘Aura’ to refer to this emanation from the cellular membrane.
What energy source powers the Aura? Not physical energy, it operates in a different dimension. However, physical energy along Matter, however, does provide an essential substrate/structure/form/boundary for the Aura.
Following tradition, we have chosen the terms Life Force or Vital Energy for the power source that drives the Aura. This energy operates in a dimension associated with Attention, not Matter. Life operates as the intersection of the two dimensions.
Drilling the point in order to minimize confusion. The Aura has a distinct physical substrate – the firing of 100K IMPs. However the substrate is not the Aura. Similarly, the banks are not the stream – nor are the water molecules. Rather the stream is our perception of countless water molecules that are flowing between banks. The stream is neither water molecules nor banks, but rather something else – an emergent feature of our collective, holistic Attention.
Similarly the Aura is neither IMPs, nor the membrane. Further, while it is associated with the informational component of living systems (the ID system), the Aura is much more than just data analysis. Feelings, not Mind, drive the entire ID complex including the Aura. These Feelings are the basis of Laurie’s current Passions. As such, her Aura is filled with Passion.
Laurie’s Aura is the field-like emanation from the collective firing of the IMPS from her billions of cells that unifies and organizes her inanimate molecules behind a common purpose. In addition to her Feelings-generated Passions, Laurie’s Aura is also associated with her Habit Patterns, which are connected to Mind.
Rather than initiate novel action, Mind’s role is to coordinate the otherwise random behavior of the individual inanimate IMPs. Mind shapes the collective response by having these IMPs fire in an orderly fashion, rather than randomly. The IMPs might be organized to fire sequentially, as in a centipede’s legs, or simultaneously, as in the case of a martial strike. And then sometimes Mind might allow the IMPs to fire randomly, if this strategy is appropriate. For instance, some prey (small bugs) are able to avoid a predator’s detection system by pretending to be purposeless, hence uninteresting, Matter rather than purposeful Life.
A habit is formed every time that Mind successfully coordinates the IMP firings in response to environmental stimuli. The collection of habits that are formed over a lifetime of repetitions are part of the Aura/Self. Laurie’s habit patterns are also a feature of her personal Aura.
The interaction of habits and passions determines Laurie’s Aura/Self.
Aura = Habits x Passions
With this conceptualization, let us rephrase what Laurie means by the term ‘nice’.
Laurie is attracted to men that are are attentive (nice) to her Aura.
Why is this important to her? To understand the plausible mechanisms behind this process, let’s proceed backwards – from the experiential feelings to the hypotheses.
Starting with the extremes: The greatest honor is when another Being pays Attention to our Aura – more specifically, expends mental energy on the data/image streams that are most exciting to us. (Feelings, not Mind, determine the value that drives this excitement.)
Conversely, the deepest insult is when someone ignores or shuns these same data streams. Put another way, the Person refuses to spend the mental energy of his Attention upon our Aura.
In the first case of affirmation, mental energy is united (Auras are joined). Evidence from multicellular organisms to human culture indicates that this unified energy is magnified – multiplied rather added. In the second case of negation, mental energy is withheld (Auras are held apart). At best, the strength of the individual Aura remains unchanged.
What are the implications of this quasi-factoid? Joining Auras is empowering both for the group and the individual. For instance, Paying Attention to your child increases the collective power of the Family Aura. Conversely, withholding mental energy is disempowering. Denying Attention isolates Auras and the potential for greater power.
Because of the connection to increased power, the Feeling of Pleasure is associated with joining Auras (merging mental energies).
Rather than evolve, we suggest that pleasure from the union of Auras was hardwired into the original bacterium. If so, this pleasure could have easily encouraged the formation of first colonies of bacteria, second multi-cellular organisms like us, and finally disembodied organisms like countries. In other words, included in the original package associated with the simultaneous Creation of Life was the pleasure of union of mental energy with others – joining Auras.
Evolution operated upon this pleasure to generate ever more complex living structures, maybe the most complex being human culture. But the pleasure was there in the very beginning with the first bacterium. Ultimately the pleasure of joining auras for mutual empowerment could have even morphed into love for romantic partners, family, and even country.
As an aside, humans, even babies, seem to feel Pain when their Aura is shunned – Attention denied. This Pain of exclusion is probably a later evolutionary development that further encouraged our homo species to join our Auras together as a group for mutual advantage. Anticipating the pleasure/power of Aura union and then to be ignored is hardly neutral. Rather our ‘as-if’ emotions had revved up to be ready for the joint ride – expending precious mental energy in the process. To encourage conservation, Evolution associated Pain with this waste of valuable energy.
Auras are determined at least in part by the complexity of Feelings-driven emotions that Nature/Evolution has endowed us with to drive our behavior. As such, our Auras are layered like the skins of an onion. Due to this complexity, ‘being nice’ (attentive) to someone’s Aura likewise has many layers associated with it.
The extremes are straightforward (unambiguous). When George ignores Laurie altogether, it is obvious that he is not being ‘nice’ to her (attentive to her Aura). Let’s quantify this level of ‘niceness’ with a ‘0’. At least, he is not being mean to her, which would rate a negative number.
Conversely, when George expresses love for Laurie, it is equally obvious that he is paying Attention to her Aura. Would love be given a ‘1’ on the ‘niceness’ scale? Not necessarily.
As mentioned, Laurie’s Aura has many layers. Let us call the Aura’s outer layers its Skin or Surface because these are associated with surface manifestations – looks, gender, general characteristics. Let us call the Aura’s inner layer its Heart or Core because it is associated with personal Passion.
George could be in love with Laurie’s beautiful body. This type of Attention objectifies Laurie and misses the higher levels of niceness. George could be in love with himself and try to impress Laurie with his personal attributes, e.g. looks, money, fame. This type of love also misses the mark – the Heart of Laurie’s Aura. Perhaps a score of 0.2?
Laurie might have other attributes besides looks that are attractive to George – money, status or connections. In this case, George might treat Laurie well – buy her chocolates and flowers, take her out to dinner, and/or just be kind and considerate to her. This type of paying Attention, while intoxicating, still falls short. Even though George is being nice to Laurie in all the traditional ways, he has yet to engage with her Heart Aura, her passions. He is still courting only the surface, the Skin of her Aura. Niceness score 0.4.
Only when George spends his mental energy in the attempt to find out what really motivates and excites Laurie is he really being ‘nice’ to her core – the passion-filled Heart of her Aura. Only then would his expression of love come close to the ideal ‘1’ rating.
And then he could only maintain this rating if he continued his attentiveness. ‘Niceness’ is not a location, a state or a characteristic, but rather a process that must be continually renewed.
We’ve spoken about love, but this analysis of ‘nice’ also applies to interpersonal relationships. Mistaking the two types of ‘nice’, i.e. one courteous to the Aura’s Surface the other attentive to the Aura’s Heart, can lead to some very confusing emotions.
For instance, the feeling of ‘being lonely in a crowd’ is associated with this confusion. Everyone in the crowd is respectful and courteous. No one is mean or exclusionary. Yet a feeling of loneliness and isolation might arise from the depths despite being surrounded by other humans.
Why? The feeling of inclusion that is the antidote to loneliness is based upon another creature’s investment of Attention’s mental energy in our Core Aura. Without this Attention, our Core Aura wilts, like a plant without water. We feel Pain. Better to be alone, than feel excluded in a crowd.
Before proceeding forth to some personal examples, let us place this purposeful Core Aura in the context of the constructs of our ID model. According to our model, Feelings provide all living creatures with motivation. There are two types of Feelings that go by a variety of names: surviving and thriving, protection and growth, homeostasis and innate nature.
The first type is a form of maintenance and is only loosely connected to our Core Aura. The second type is creative and is directly linked with our Core Aura. It could be associated with anything from our offspring (reproduction) to furthering human culture with our creations. Those Beings that truly love us are attentive (nice) to the data streams that are most exciting to us – those that are directly linked to our personal passions, e.g. creative projects, children, relationships, a book or food.
Just as Laurie is attracted to men who are ‘nice’ to the Heart of her Aura, we become friends with those who are attentive, not to the Skin of our Aura, but to its Heart.
To illustrate and ground our discussion, let us provide a personal example.
For the first three decades of our relationship, my wife Laurie and I were attentive to each other’s needs – first creating a household, establishing careers and then raising two daughters. We were ‘nice’ to each other on the highest level – attending to our Core Auras, both collectively and individually.
After sending our two daughters off to college and Leo, her Jack Russell terrier, died, Laurie took up bicycling. She quickly became a fanatic long distance specialist. This new-found talent entailed spending increasing amounts of time away from home on the back of her titanium lover – appropriately named Hermes after the winged god.
I became increasingly jealous of her metallic companion. They were having lots of fun together without me. It was obvious that she loved him more than me.
Run down from the grind of waiting tables at a busy Italian restaurant (Dario’s) in my early 60s, I wasn’t having so much fun. Sleep deprived from adrenalized late nights of work, vitality drained, cognitive skills diminished, I wasn’t thinking so clearly. Plus no energy to join Auras (all those firing IMPs) with Laurie in some bicycling fun.
With her extreme exercise, Laurie had dropped off 30 pounds of weight and was gorgeous (the classic hard body). She was vibrant and excited about fulfilling the potentials of her Innate Nature – presumably her epic biking trips (140 miles in a single day). She wanted to share her excitement with me.
However due to my jealousy and lack of vitality, I was unable to attend to her Core Aura. I could neither appreciate her spectacular beauty, nor tolerate her endless stories about unknown places with spectacular views, especially because her bicycle lover was taking her away from me.
On and on Laurie babbled after every bike ride. “Hermes is so marvelous in this and that way. I get so many compliments on how good he looks. Everyone loves him. We have such a great time together. It is too bad that you can’t come along. But work comes first.”
It was if she was bragging about her sexual exploits with her lover – not me. Rather than happy for her excitement, it was painful to hear her endless tales of adventure. Even if I had the mental energy, which I didn’t, I couldn’t attend her Core Aura – because I resented it. I could no longer invest my mental energy in the Heart of her Aura.
Even though I had been ‘nice’ to her for over 30 years, I wasn’t being ‘nice’ to her anymore. Once loveable, but no longer.
Younger Don = Nice to Laurie
Laurie = loves Younger Don
60ish Don ≠ Nice to Laurie
Laurie ≠ loves Older Don
Accompanying this loss of niceness was a loss of attractiveness. Laurie naturally wanted someone to appreciate the new her – her fresh Aura. And that wasn’t me. Tied together by family, friends and a home, Laurie opted for an open marriage – where she could pursue others guilt-free – those who loved her Heart, her Core – those who were ‘nice’ to the ‘real’ her.
This common process illustrates several key points:
1) Our Aura (patterned IMP firings) changes over time.
2) Our Aura has many layers – Skin (surface) to Heart (core).
3) We are attracted to those who are ‘nice’ (attentive) to the Heart of our Aura, not the Skin. Vice versa, we are not attracted to those who aren’t ‘nice’ to our Heart Aura.
4) The ‘niceness’ entails investing Attention’s mental energy into the data/image streams/topics that are most significant – the Heart Aura.
5) Feelings have charged the Heart Aura’s image streams with the most positive emotion because they are associated with an expression of our Innate Nature, not merely Homeostasis.
6) The joining of Auras feels good (evokes pleasure) because the mental energy magnifies and energizes. Vice versa, the exclusion/shunning/ignoring of an Aura feels bad (evokes pain) because the potential for this magnification is denied.
As these insights derived from Human Experience, they can only be applied to Humans – even though they might also apply to other species – in certain cases – perhaps even the single cell.
1 In this biological context, ‘intelligence’ is only related to the capacity of an organism to survive and thrive. It has nothing to do with intelligence tests – critical thinking skills, verbal reasoning and such. The more members: the more likely the group will survive and thrive.