Q: Which came first, the chicken or the egg?
A: “It’s really Escher that is drawing them both.”
The tangled loop (or the tangled hierarchy or the strange loop) is a hierarchy of related levels in which there is no well defined highest or lowest level. When one moves through the levels, she eventually will end up back at her starting point, the point of origin. (For more in-depth definition see: http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Strange_loop&oldid=342971532)
An excerpt from Nine Moons of the Vision Serpent in which Mackie, Jillian and Moon Rabbit are visiting a certain Dr. Amit, who explains to them what a tangled loop is:
“The ability to create comes from what the Hindus call Samadhi, a non-dualistic state of consciousness. You can only reach Samadhi through hard work on yourself and your conditioning. There are no free lunches. When that work is started, you will be able to experience the world with more love and awareness than ever before. You will be happier, because you are no longer bound by your own individual consciousness, but you are a part of something so much bigger.”
“But doesn’t the fact that we can choose, individually, mean that we have individual consciousness?” asked Mackie.
“That is a good and complicated question.” Dr. Amit sat rubbing his chin for a moment. Then he stood up and took out a piece of paper, tape and some scissors. “Have you ever heard of a Mobius strip?” Neither Mackie nor Jillian had. Dr. Amit cut a strip from the long side of the paper and held it up in front of him. With a little difficulty he twisted the paper one time and then brought the two ends together. He tore off a small piece of tape and taped the ends together.
“This is a Mobius strip. This is very clever now, so I want you to watch closely. May I?” He took Mackie’s pencil and placed it next to the spot with tape on it and began to draw a line down the middle of the strip of paper. He started on the outside, but because the paper was twisted, his line also twisted down and then curved up into the inside of the form. The line continued on through the inside and then curved back out and ended up exactly where it had started. Dr. Amit then tore the Mobius strip back apart and held it up. The line he had drawn was on both sides of the paper.
He looked up at the girls. “Amazing, isn’t it? Despite the fact that it appeared that the line was moving away from its source of origin the entire time I was drawing it, it ended up right back where it started! And further, I was able to draw on both sides, without ever picking my pencil up off the paper. This is what is called ‘a strange loop.’ You can often see them in drawing by the brilliant artist, M.C. Escher.” He gave Mackie her pencil back.
“This is how your consciousness works in reality,” he said holding up the Mobious strip. “ For you it feels like you are your own consciousness. It feels like, because you are the subject in your thinking, that you have a thought or do an action and that it moves away from you out into the world. But in reality, everything, front and back come back to the same point.”
“Point A and point B,” he said, holding up first one end and then the other of the strip of paper, “make the appearance of a dualism. But in reality,” he said retwisting the paper and holding the ends together, “point a and point b are tangled up and come together.”
“Hm,” said Mackie. “Is this a metaphorical way of telling us that we’re supposed to try to dissolve our differences and become one with each other?” asked Mackie.
“Not exactly. You are made separate by God or consciousness so that you can have individual experiences. This is a part of the design of the world. You are working toward identifying first with the unified self, first and foremost. You are a citizen of the Universe. Once you understand the illusion of duality, then you can identify second with the ego or your own personality and life more successfully. To try and eliminate your personal self is repression and can only lead to more unhappiness.”
It only appears to our brain that we are making continuous, discrete choices. Meditate on this, says Amit Goswami, and you will begin to be able to stop identifying with your brain. You are not your brain. Your brain is a tool that you use in the physical world, but it isn’t you. It is an object in your consciousness. Your consciousness is the subject.
The observer is the observed. –Krishnamurti