Beheld, by Roland Allnach
Beheld, by Roland Allnach
In the Beginning, the Deity pondered.
It was not like the random thought of a man, but in some ways it was indeed like that of a man, in such a way that a man could understand the Deity. For It was the Deity, and It was boundless, and in the beginning, It was a curious thing, for It knew not of Itself. It was more like a man who first falls asleep and begins to dream, for though he dreams and the dream exists within itself, it is nevertheless master of the vessel in which it unknowingly resides—and yet it knows not how that vessel functions, and what laws it must obey. So it was with the Deity, for though It was aware of Itself, It was not yet conscious unto Itself, and the universe, which was Its vessel, was an unknown thing.
So it was, and the Deity considered this, and though Its thoughts were as yet without shape, there was one thought that gained shape of its own as a question. It resonated at the Deity’s core, and so became seamless with the Deity, and remained open, as endless as the Deity Itself.
This fundamental question was simplicity incarnate, and though there was yet no notion of language, it nevertheless awoke within the Deity, and the question was this:
The universe, for all its complexity, is akin to a song.
Such was the way the Deity became aware of Itself, and illuminated a momentous deduction, that all which was in existence had not existed before. Being the Deity, It knew all, and so knew with certainty of Itself, but not of that beyond Itself. And in that pondering It began to associate those parts of Itself that were It but not recognized as such. Like a sighted man who has lived his life in total darkness, not understanding what sight is until he first sees light and perceives a timeless but unrealized reality around him, so it was with the Deity as Its pondering took new forms, and reached new extents, and became fully conscious of the universe that was its body.
In this way the Deity became aware of all the mysterious laws and mechanisms of the universe, like a man waking to the function of every cell and synapse within him. And it was perhaps a strange moment in the universe, for the Deity not only became aware of all the laws of how Its vessel functioned, not only gained innate and instantaneous understanding of the firmament of Its vessel, but heard the living echo that was the remnant of Its creation.
That sound was the low, undulating whoosh of cosmic radiation, a haunting melody that for eternity would knit the universe together to form the Deity’s vessel. And It thought of this melody as a song, and so became aware of rhythm, and with rhythm the Deity in Its vastness considered the alternating nature of rhythm. It was the property of change, of things that were, then were not, and then were again, so that the Deity perceived singular images of Itself and the changes between them. It then brought temporal order to those images, and so brought order as well to the universe.
By such work the Deity implemented Time.
Yet Time was a plaything, and even though it was of the Deity’s creation and so part of the Deity, in the vastness of the Deity it was meaningless.
But in the evasive slipstream of the Deity’s complex consciousness, It became aware of something It had not considered before in the creation of Time. It went back to Its thought of time, of things that were and then were not and then were again, and translated them to three interconnected states: that which was known, that which is known, and something mysterious—that which is yet to be.
The Deity decided to look upon these three unruly siblings as Past, Present and Future. The Past was predictable, and ordered, and the Deity thought little of it, for the Past was obedient and dutiful in its predictability, and once something went to it, the Past changed to accept it and put it to rest. The Present was curious, and embodied many things that the Deity prized within Itself, for the Present was at once all knowing and yet all learning, and the energy of its endless curiosity was a gift that the Deity bestowed upon it, so that it, like the Deity, might embrace the vessel of the universe, and not become mute like the Past.
And then there was the Future, the capricious offspring of the Deity that embodied a part of Itself always new and uncreated in any possession of the Present. In the energy of Its pondering the Deity came to understand that It only existed as there was yet some other manifestation of the universe for It to absorb. The moment Its pondering ceased the vessel would go dark, for It would then preclude the necessity of Its own existence and vanish with the universe as if neither had existed.
It remembered the fundamental question of why, and knew then as well the first reason for the question’s existence.
But in the greater unknown of those ruminations the Deity knew not what was to come of Its own thoughts, which lay beyond the mechanistic doldrums of Its vassal vessel universe. Within was something the Deity came to call Uncertainty, and Uncertainty was the wild spirit that kept the Future darting about the universe to set the Deity upon new paths to explore. For the Deity knew not where Its thoughts might wander, even as It was driven with inexorable momentum to evolve new thoughts to necessitate Its existence. So the Deity came to understand that with the creation of Time It saved Itself, for without Time, the Deity’s considerations might lock in repetitive loops and erode the fundamental question.
Time continued, and the Future came in its endless forms and, with the servitude of Past and the endless curiosity of Present, the ages of the universe took shape.
The Deity, though, was restless.
It thought often of the song of the universe, and sought to weave other things into the song, for the song was the metronome of Time, and as such kept check on the unruly siblings of Past, Present, and Future. It only seemed natural, and right, to set all things the Deity created within the universe to follow the song. This greater melody It then knew as the Song and, after much thought, the Deity renamed it Nature.
Then came a great blossoming, for as the Deity explored the wondrous couplings of the physical universe on all levels of scale the myriad forms of Its contemplations illustrated every reality within the universe. Countless incarnations of the Song came about in Nature, spawning life in the diurnal variations and separate circadian cycles of countless orbiting bodies. It was an exquisite dance of particles, atoms, molecules; of planets, stars, solar systems; of galaxies and super clusters. All were set in motion and balanced within Nature, kept in harmony with the Song made possible by Time. They could move and alternate and be things in one moment that they were not in the previous moment, and yet be something else in the wondrous unknown of the Future.
Oceans took their tides, trees grew through their seasons, and leaves gained their color as they wavered in the rustling winds of change.
And yet, the Deity remained restless.
It questioned Itself for many ages, puzzled that despite all It had wrought through the creation of Time and the birth of Nature that the universe was as yet sterile with predictability. The prospect left Future dejected, and with its gloom the Deity at once understood what Nature lacked: an unbridled element of change, an element that could, like the Deity, summon thought.
And the first thought would be none other than the fundamental question.
Long was the matter contemplated by the Deity. It looked deep within to fashion an image akin to Its nature, but different as well.
There were many incarnations that passed through the Deity’s considerations and, since what It willed was what would be, there were many new things within Nature. Each of them was distinct, imperfect in the same way that their individual considerations were imperfect as small domains within the continuum of the Deity’s thought. And when restless Future stirred at these new awakenings, so too it sensed the perfect imperfection and imperfect perfection of what the Deity wrought.
The Future understood the Deity could not recreate Itself, for the Future knew as well that in the creation of Time there was always some part of the Deity that yet lay undiscovered. Any image the Deity might create of Itself was imperfect by default, for the creation of the image would in turn introduce a new and unknown existence. So it was, and so the fundamental question was once again affirmed as salvation.
But the Deity spent little energy on such riddles, for It sealed away such thoughts in the abyss of incongruence. Instead It flowed with the Song, watched Its creations, and though it may have lasted a moment—or perhaps a millennia—in the end, life breathed anew in all the creations in their strange and sundry surroundings. Each was fashioned from its environment, patterned for its environment, part of its environment for the sake of harmony within Nature to avoid discord with the Song.
For the Deity creation was imbued with patience. It was not an instantaneous thing, nor a miraculous thing; rather it was the culmination of plans long in the making, careful in the making, to abide by the fundamental mechanisms embedded in the firmament of the vassal vessel universe. Just as a man grows a beard and, though he may wonder what his body has created, it was nevertheless created by the laws of his body’s function; so too was the making of the Deity’s creations.
With many different eyes those creations looked up, and a new thing was revealed within the universe. For among Its many creations the Deity let play a new song born of the fundamental question, and it was called free will.
Ages passed, and the Deity watched.
In the endless perception of Its omniscience the Deity did not fail to sense the chorus of thoughts that rose up in the many developing minds of its creations, a blaring cacophony over the peaceful undulations of the Song. So the Deity considered new things, and this time the Present stirred, for the Deity sensed curious intellects among some of Its creations reminiscent of Its own curiosity, and was most pleased. The Deity reached out to them in their many places, across disparate times, for each of Its creations progressed in their own fashion, not yet understanding their perfect imperfection. The Deity was then known to them in many shapes and words, and Its nature was probed with a curiosity much like Its own, so that the universe was alive with thought.
But beneath such curiosity there lurked a darker aspect of free will. It was the raucous discord of anarchy, and the destructive rebellions and revolts of those who embraced its hollow lure. Because of their choice they knew not from what they turned, and knew not the torment and turmoil that unknowingly spurred their actions and inclinations. Yet after much time the Deity decided the matter was as It decided it should be in the beginning of Its creation, for the intricacy of the Deity’s thoughts was impossible to plumb, and none could fathom such subtleties without the Song in the conscious mind.
So it was, and so it continued, and Time wore on, and the Deity thought of other things, things beyond the understanding of Its creations, and they felt lost, victims of an ambivalent universe, adrift in a careless void. They were unaware of what surrounded them, and saw not as the Deity, for part of their imperfect perfection was yet to emerge from the veils of discovery.
Time was not meant to be their trap, but their mentor. In their restlessness they looked to the stars above their worlds and, upon perceiving the vassal vessel universe, their minds grew, so that they began to ponder greater things.
For many generations the Deity observed with passing interest what Its creations fashioned from the elements of the universe, for to create was innate to the Deity, and to It the elements were as the cells of a man’s body. The Deity manipulated them with both perfect understanding and perfect ignorance, for it was without effort that the Deity built things from the vassal vessel universe.
What the Deity noticed was the development of Its many creations, and how their minds changed with what they learned from their handiwork, and how it made them look deeper into the workings of the universe to fashion ever more fantastic devices. For the Deity these were taken as compliments, for It was satisfied with Its creations, and took pleasure to see them move about the universe with ever increasing freedom, ever nearing some vague semblance of the Deity’s own awareness.
Across the void the creations met one another, and though there were often generations of terror and titanic struggles, in the end the Song was not to be denied and the harmony of the universe won out. In this fashion the many disparate creations came to be one, and in the vast understanding of their own natures they embarked upon a new course, for they perceived a mystery at the center of their existence: they were many imperfect parts of a greater whole, yet perfectly imperfect, for they could merge in seamless, and long unexpected, ways.
And so the great merging began. For generations it persisted, until the many creations of the Deity became as one kind, and they were humbled, for though in this form their power to probe and affect the universe was without precedent, they perceived that they were as yet dwarfed in their existence. Although the universe brimmed with life and intelligence from the perspective of the Deity, to Its now unified creations the universe remained a dark, cold place of impenetrable distances.
But the Deity’s subjects did not despair, and did not lose their way. Rather they took heart, for in their humble wisdom and their hard-learned harmony with Nature, they at last began to perceive that which bound them from their beginnings and brought them to their Oneness. They detected the Song, and mastered free will. Discordance left them, and the Oneness were at peace.
In that time a miraculous thing happened, or so it would be termed, for the Oneness understood a miracle was only the remote emergence of infinitesimal probability. They took heed, and perceived a great portent, an unresolved uncertainty fulfilled. It came as one of their own, a creature of such intelligence and understanding of their own intricate and vast knowledge that to it all was second nature. The Deity stirred, and was pleased as It had not been before, and looking upon this creature termed it the Likeness, for the Deity saw within it much of what It treasured within Itself.
Then the Oneness gathered their collective guile, and with their perception of the Song almost in full, it was the Likeness who emerged as the final piece of an impenetrable puzzle. For though they dared not deceive themselves in their wise humility to think they could wield the power of the universe as their own, they nevertheless sought the connection they believed would come with such power. It was not to wield their might, but to unveil the mystery behind it, and perceive the Deity on Its own terms.
They hesitated in fear of this audacious thought, and instead referred to Its omniscience as the Wellspring, and pondered It without relent, for they sought an answer to the primordial questions of awareness. Foremost among them was to discern the reason for their existence, and so answer the fundamental question in full.
Then the Oneness, in their span of years almost free of the mortality so long restraining their ancestors, and under the guidance of the Likeness, finished their work. It was as something such as they would make, and so not something the Deity would create, for they were not yet even a facet of the Deity. They called their creation nothing more than the Machine, for they wished to pay homage to the elaborate and perfect working of the universe, and although they could manipulate the universe, and thought of it as the vassal vessel, they knew they were still bound by its laws of Nature as defined by the Wellspring, and so treated it with reverence.
The moment came, and with great celebration, and many thanks, the Machine was brought to bear. It harnessed the power of stars, lit the darkness, and glowed with a life seemingly all its own. Its energy was something yet to be witnessed in the universe, and so became something new within the pondering of the Deity. Then the Machine had a wondrous effect, for it caused the Deity to take note. Time was subdued, and the siblings of Past, Present, and Future felt joined in a way they had not felt since the time of their creation and division. To the Machine the Likeness departed, and within it the Likeness retired, and there it remained for what would have been many cycles of the ancients.
With great patience the Oneness waited, for they knew the working of the mind of the Likeness was more evolved than any of their minds alone or in combination. They hoped the revelation of the Likeness would be something new within the universe, something to answer their greatest questions and, perhaps, the fundamental question, guarded since free will first awakened their conscious thoughts. So they waited, and they were confident that their patience would not be in vain, for they believed in the rightness of their humility, the purity of their respect, and the truth of the path they had chosen.
So time passed, and without warning the light of the Machine faded, and the Oneness knew the meditation of the Likeness was at last done, and they gathered in great anticipation.
Then it was that the Likeness emerged from the Machine, and spoke words that erupted in the Deity’s consciousness at the same moment: “I have looked unto the Wellspring, and beheld nothing but the endless mystery of that with which I came, for I am.”
Then the Deity thought in a way It had not thought before, for It at last plumbed the depths of Its own nature, and in that moment became something yet again new, for the Deity then knew Itself as It had not known Itself before. It and the Likeness had become One, and so both the Deity and the Oneness became the One, and the One then knew the purpose to Existence as if It had posed the query to Itself within Its own thoughts, for the fundamental question was at last answered. Just as a man’s perception of himself is forever altered the first time he sees his reflection, and his countenance is revealed in absolute form rather than feel, so too with the Deity. Yet Its awareness spanned time and space, and so the shift in the work of the Machine and the meditation of the Likeness and the glimmer of the One was momentous.
But the transformation was not without its demand. Time evaporated. The siblings Past, Present and Future went senile. The vassal vessel universe was created anew, and all things were not quite as they had been before.
When it was done the Deity awoke to Itself once again, and thought returned. Nevertheless it was a singular moment, and so the Deity was alone, and being alone, the Deity did what was within Its nature.
In this new Beginning, the Deity pondered.