This image you see here of the Mandelbrot set may be the most important spiritual icon of the Twenty-First Century. Unlike other such icons, it represents something that is universal and beyond any ideology or belief system.
When you zoom in on it (see the video below), what you see is a pattern that repeats itself at smaller and smaller scales. The Mandelbrot set, like other fractals, has the property of self-similarity. I prefer to think of it as self-embedded, because the basic motif that appears at every level is not just similar: it’s identical.
So, what does this all have to do with spirituality? The Book of Genesis begins with this bold statement: “In the beginning, God created heaven and earth.” What makes this statement so bold is that it raises so many questions. Firstly, how could there be anything prior to the existence of a universe? The Creator is essentially a formless consciousness. Before there is anything to be, the Creator says, “I am.” Nothing can stagger the imagination like the idea of a pure consciousness—a pure essence or being, if you will—in the absence of any thoughts or things.
Here is a second and perhaps even more mind-boggling question: How does this formless consciousness give rise to a universe? When I began my Bible studies at age seven, I remember thinking about this question. I tried to envision a giant toolbox (including hammer, nails, saw, etc) with which a Creator could build a universe. But I knew this made no sense. How could it? The Creator has to create something out of nothing. That is quite a tough trick!
I was stymied by this until December 10, 2014. On that eventful day, I came across the slow zoom of the Mandelbrot set shown below. While watching it, I had an epiphany. Suddenly, I understood how the pure formless consciousness of the Creator gives rise to a universe of form: By embedding itself in every single thought!
All of the thoughts that have ever existed comprise a universal mind. My realization at that moment is that the universal mind is a fractal. Benoit Mandelbrot, the man for whom the set is named, wrote extensively about the idea of a fractal universe. In my moment of illumination, I realized that the universe of things “out there” and the universe of thoughts “in here” are one and the same. Quantum physicists like Erwin Schrodinger recognized this fact over a century ago. Schrodinger wrote: “Subject and object are only one. The barrier between them cannot be said to have broken down as a result of recent experience in the physical sciences, for this barrier does not exist.”
So, here is the significance of all this: Consciousness embeds itself at every level of the universal mind. Clearly, we have consciousness in our bodies. If we zoom in on our bodies, we will find the same consciousness abiding within the organs, tissue, cells, organelles, molecules, atoms, and subatomic particles that make up those bodies. And if we zoom out to the far reaches of the universe, we will discover the same thing. The universal mind is self-embedded. That is why the soundtrack of the video below repeats the statement: “The source is entangled in the universe, layer upon embedded layer.”
The video also features another strange statement: “There are no boondocks.” What is that all about? To find out, you will need to read Deep Creativity: Inside the Creative Mystery!