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Mana from Tibet


The treasure map is spread out on Moira's dinette. I have almost all of the details worked out now.

"Helloooo Moira," I look up at the sound of Bill's voice calling from shore.

"There he is, I'll get him." Freddy climbs up the companionway to go get Bill. I follow her and watch as she expertly slides the dingy over to the bulkhead of the Ark Park and picks up Bill Travis. Bill is one of the few Hominids Freddy really likes. He gives her a peck on the cheek as he climbs down into the Avon and Freddy pulls the dingy back to Moira along the web of shore lines.

"Well, well, well, hello, hello, Richard. How is the work progressing?" Bill swings easily aboard with his tattered briefcase. "I have some neat stuff for you. Really good stuff. How did you like Stringer's book? Freddy, that smells delicious, whatever it is. Here, perhaps you could put this wine in the fridge, it's best a bit chilled. What's this? What's this?" Bill stops short and examines the treasure map.


The map of This Magic Sea.

"It's a treasure map of This Magic Sea. For the educational short-course I'm putting together for the department of education. Here's how it works."

First, I introduce this small grid which shows that our measurement systems - our consensus way of thinking about objects and space - break down into a matrix of three - sorry, into four components. We start with the three coordinates of 3 dimensional space, the x,y,z coordinate system. Below that is time and below that fitness. These are the basic measurement systems required to describe what we call space-time reality."

Man's Measurement System

X, Y, Z Co-ordinates in Space




"Fitness is?"

"You know, like the measure of how accurately data points match a hypothetical curve, or the statistical fit of data to a testable hypothesis."

Right. Got you." Bill taps the grid.

"OK, now lets add a second column to the matrix, because the measurement systems are actually describing reality, they are human inventions, not the reality they measure.

What is Measured

Man's Measurement System


X, Y, Z Co-ordinates in Space

Interval of Awareness







"The measurement systems are measuring objects in space and their relationships with other objects. Time is a measure of the interval of awareness, based on human awareness. Fitness measures Meaning - how things relate to each other. OK so far?"

"Right, right, OK." Bill is totally absorbed.

Essence of what is Measured

What is Measured

Man's Measurement System

To Be


X, Y, Z Co-ordinates in Space

To Change

Interval of Awareness


To Have Direction





Now we add, on the left,  the essence of the phenomena we are measuring. The first is to be. I use a verb here for a reason which will become obvious in a moment. To be is the object, the point in space, measured by the three coordinate systems. To change is the change of position of the object in relationship to other objects. To have direction is the change in change - the unilateral change in relationships that cannot be undone. It is spin, motion along an axis, momentum, and so on. These three primal behavior patterns, plus one other, are all required, and all that is required, to understand reality."

"Where is the fourth - uh - behavior pattern?" Bill asks.

"Ahh, that's the elusive, invisible part we don't measure at all. I call it the Thread of Awareness in Chaos. The fourth event is the observer created by the interaction between each of the three basic properties of reality. You see, they are all one phenomenon, but our language, our methods of perceiving, our system of objective, rational thought, can't think of each of these four categories as one single process. To Be-To Change-To Have Direction and the resulting creation of the observer is impossible for us to think of as one word, one thought. Yet they are the result of a single network of intercommunications. The phenomenon of intercommunication produces the three separate manifestations and the communications between them all at the same time. It's like, over here on the right side of the grid, we think of the three dimensions of space and time and fitness as different dimensions of reality. But reality has no dimensions. It is all one integrated, changing system. Our thought dimensions are artificial constructs, tools for dissecting a whole entity."

"Yes, I see, but we do have individual objects - atoms, planets, you and me." Bill says.

"We perceive objects because of the way our mental processes function. The way we model reality. But objects exist as isolated objects only from a limited space/time viewpoint. The individual objects are created by - and I mean manifested by - the interaction of To Be, To Change, To Have Direction. They exist only as a constant flow of information. The treasure map shows the pattern of how the intercommunication is unfolded into reality. It works in nested layers. At each stage, the change created by new forms of behavior makes the entire system jump into new levels of potential. Actually, there is a word which came close to describing the phenomenon of   Intercommunication between to be to change to have direction. Mana."

"Mana! Yes, Well, Richard, my boy, heh heh heh, that's what I've found for you. Synchronicity again. I remembered you were interested in mana. Wait till you get a look at this," Bill opens his briefcase and digs around in it, hauling out an oversized paperback book with a yellow cover and a drawing of a buddha figure with symbols coming out of his head. "Foundations of Tibetan Mysticism. Look here, look here, uhhhhh. Yes, OK, Yes, right here, take a look at that!"

He thrusts the book at me, thumping his finger on a diagram on page 74. It shows two circles overlapping. One circle is called Empirical Consciousness, the other Universal Consciousness and the overlapped area is called....manas. I read a few sentences quickly. "When it is said that manas has no body of its own and is one with the universal as well as with the individual empirical consciousness, manas can only be conceived as the overlapping of the universal and the individual empirical consciousness." That sounds interesting. The title of the chapter is "The double role of the mind (Manas)."

"Just as you said, mana means thought, mind," Bill grins and taps the book again. "Tibetans have the oldest library of written language in the world. And Manas is one of the oldest words."

"Can I borrow this for awhile?"

"Of course, but I'd like it back when you're done."

"In any case, you can't use the word mana," Freddy sits down next to Bill. "Tell Bill about your talk with John Kneubuhl."

"Kneubuhl the Samoan playwright, language authority, historian?" Bill shifts his eyebrows up a notch.

A petroglyph of a turtle adorns a hillside overlooking a beautiful bay in Tutuila."Right. We were talking about old Samoan legends and art. He told me where to find some rock carvings, petroglyphs. Culture and Mana are tightly linked in the awareness of the living island.

"John didn't like my definition of Mana. I told him I believed Mana to be the interaction between a being and its environment. Mana is the exchange of communications between a being and that which is sensed. It has no characteristic of its own. 

A rainbow is a perfect example of mana. It exists not by itself, but as an interaction of the observer, the rain and the sun. The rainbow has always been an important mystic symbol because it is such a clear and colorful example of the phenomenon of mana. John and I had quite an argument about it.

Mana, according to John, is Thunder, a weird shaped tree in a forest, an electric-like spiritual force, the last breath of a dying man. I tried to argue that these were the dregs of the original meaning - or even examples, like the rainbow. I pointed out all the other uses of mana in Samoan, where mana is combined with another word - like manamana, to give thought to or Mana tu, to think out a plan. I argued that even the examples he gave actually related to the interaction of mind and the surrounding world. Thunder - something which awakens and quickens the mind."

Bill has been flipping madly through the pages of his book. He stops, pushes the book at me and I read, "The precious jewel (Mani) became the diamond scepter - the Vajra of the God Indra (God of thunder and lightning) - later Vajra translated as thunderbolt. Thunder thus became the symbol of highest spiritual power - irresistible and invincible. Like a diamond, capable of cutting anything but which can not be cut. Changeless, pure, clear, precious. Though a diamond can produce all colors, it is itself clear - without color." Govinda likens coal to ordinary consciousness and diamond to higher consciousness.

"This is amazing," I look at Bill. "Mani became vajra became thunder, the symbol of spiritual power. And in Tongan the word mana has come to literally mean thunder. It can hardly be coincidence."

"You could just as well use mamba, for all the difference it will make," Freddy quips. "John was upset that a biologist would have the audacity to meddle with the meaning of words. And, he was right. The old names are shot. Mental rubble. People don't know the old meaning. When you use it in its correct form, everyone gets the wrong message, thinking you mean the word the way they understand it. Use the map and forget mana."

"Well, OK. OK. That's so, Freddy. Lets have a look at this treasure map. How does it work?" Bill would agree with anything Freddy said. Partly out of old-time gentlemanly curtesy, partly because he is a dirty old man.

We spend half an hour going over the map, me talking, Bill hmmming and haaaing as I point out the similarities in the creation of the universe of stars and galaxies and the pattern of creation of living beings on our planet.

"About 6500 years ago, the signals produced by hominids became interlocked with the physical elements of the planet. Writing was born. Now there was a set of elements which reflected and pulsed the awareness of living beings. This process controlled the behavior of these beings.

"The alphabet is at the top of the hour-glass, these concentrate into written words - nucleated concepts. Written words peaked in importance when they reached the level of mass produced books and magazines. Printed media formed galaxies of concepts - science, religion, art, politics, economics, history, and so on. These combine to form an ever expanding civilization of knowledge.

"This new level of reality filled the biosphere with instructions on how hominids should behave. These instructions dictate - as laws or consensus agreements - the movement and relative positions of almost everything on the planet; ranging from the hominids themselves to the plants and animals of civilization, and the distribution of elements on the surface of the planet."

"You mean roads and buildings and harbors and such, Stringers Oikumenos." Bill nods. "And the new and different change is?"

"What we commonly call consciousness - the phenomenon of knowing together on the massive level of written language. There is, of course, a new element, too, arising from this massive hominid consciousness." I stop and grin at Bill mischievously.

"Ah, X-marks the spot! Here is the treasure trove."

"Come look at this Oikumenos studio." Freddy says from the companionway. We head into the cockpit to check out the glowing sunset of Pago Pago Harbor.

If you can't smell it or hear it, Pago Pago Harbor is actually quite scenic.


"Out of all the conscious communication between the hominids came a totally unpredictable by-product; pulsed electromagnetic energy signals and a new level of global awareness formed by many hominid minds focusing on the electronic signals. These signals - radio, television, and now satellite communication networks and global computer networks - form GEIA, a Global Electronic Interlocked Awareness. This moves us into still another level of the hour-glass shape where, among other things, awareness has reached the capability to communicate with the speed of light anywhere. Anywhere at all. Including communication with other living stellar systems, if they exist. The electronic network is rapidly gaining the capability - hell, it already DOES have the ability to control the behavior, the movements, the placement in space and time of all the hominids on the planet."

"Are you implying the GEIA is capable of self-thought? It's alive and conscious? Oh, hold on. Oh that's very neat. You've done away with that question, haven't you? I mean, the GEIA level still has all the other levels....it is simply a matter of, of, of...well, uh... wait a minute... reorganizing?"

"Well, maybe learning is a better word. The individual creatures and concepts and what they are all doing at this particular instant, are all manifestations of a network of communications, one that learns and then reorganizes itself. The question of "is this stage or that stage alive" is inappropriate to the system as I understand it. The whole network is life, from the bacteria right through to the boob-tubes. Consciousness is an integrated function of life which grows more complex in quantum leaps, as life-forms learn new behavior patterns within the global network."

"Boob-tubes increase consciousness?" Freddy's expression is one of complete disbelief.

"If you stick to the meaning of consciousness as knowing together, yeah. When the Land of Mink and Money listens to Johnny Carson millions and millions of minds all are perfectly synchronized."

"Oh my, that is a gruesome thought." Bill winces.

"Really, it depends on your definitions and understanding of life, consciousness and intelligence. Ask most people if the planet is alive, conscious, intelligent, and they'll have an opinion, yes or no. But ask them to define those same words and they can't. Go ahead, Bill, what does the word intelligence mean?"

"Oh, uh, OK, OK...lets see, lets see. What about the ability to learn from experience, respond correctly to a new experience, and of course, there is the alternative meaning of collecting secret information as in the intelligence community."

"A misnomer if ever I heard one," comments Freddy, going below to check on dinner.

"Not bad, actually, better than many people would do. Look here, I unlimber my battered old Webster dictionary. Intelligence....see intellect for the original meaning...ahh, yes, intellect comes from inter - between, among + ligere, to gather, pick or choose. To be able to pick or choose between different aspects of the environment. To isolate and gather information and then select one path of behavior over another. A man has a great intellect if he can quickly see the heart of a problem and act to solve it correctly. If we adopt the original meaning of the word, or even if we take the modern definition of intelligence as the ability to learn from experience, to acquire and retain knowledge, we find this, like consciousness, is one of the basic functions of all living beings. Hell, even a virus can recognize differences in its environment and make a decision as to what it should do. Even a virus is intelligent by the original definition."

"If that's the definition of intelligence," says Freddy says from below, "the White House is in a lot of trouble."

"Ha, ha, ha, hee, hee, oh dear, yes indeed. Quite right there, only the problem isn't limited to your government. But I see what you mean, Richard, Asking the question 'is there intelligent life in the White House,' is really inappropriate if, in fact, the ability to identify and respond to differences in the environment is a characteristic of all life."

"Cockroaches are really quick studies," Freddy attacks one which is scampering over the galley counter. Pago Pago is the cockroach center of the Pacific. "Maybe there is intelligence in the White House after all."

"OK, anyway, you get the idea. The whole system is a network of being, one which keeps learning, changing, developing. No part of it is isolated or independent or unaffected by changes within the fabric of the planetary life system. The President is one element in the vast flow of information in the system. He is locked into his position by an infinite number of forces, ranging from his own biological condition and dependance on sleep, food, water, breathing on one end of the scale, to the global political and economic climate on the other end of the scale. What he does or does not do is often beyond his personal intellectual control. He selects, but he does not often have the chance to influence what alternatives are available." It is now pretty dark so we head below.

"This reminds me of another passage in here." Bill picks up the Foundations of Tibetan Mysticism, "The ancient Tibetans understood all this. They had different words for it, but essentially....Here, here we are, just look at this." He hands me the book and I read, "Thus the consciousness of a higher dimension consists in the coordinated and simultaneous perception of several systems of relationship or directions of movement, in a wider, more comprehensive unity, without destroying the individual characteristics of the integrated lower dimensions. The reality of a lower dimension is therefore not annihilated by a higher one, but only 'relativized' or put into another perspective of values"....

"Yes, that says it pretty well, I think." My eye catches a phrase on the next page, "...we become conscious of a supra-individual karmic interrelatedness, comprising nations, races, civilizations, humanity, planets, solar systems and finally the whole universe. In short, we arrive at the perception of a cosmic world order, an infinite mutual relationship of all things, beings and events, until we finally realize the universality of consciousness..."

"You see? I thought you'd be interested in that book. Most of the ideas in it are thousands of years old. Oh, my word, that's absolutely wonderful!" Bill exclaims as Freddy sets a huge bowl of Lasagna on the dinette.

As we eat I steal glances at the Tibetan Mysticism book. Of course, I realize many Buddhist concepts parallel This Magic Sea. In fact, my readings in these areas helped me understand the process. Chinese writings - especially Lao Tzu's "Tao Te Ching"and the "I Ching", are filled with thoughts about this Magic Sea.:

There are ways but the Way is uncharted;

There are names but not nature in words:

Nameless indeed is the source of creation

But things have a mother and she has a name.

The Tibetan book is focused right on the essence of This Magic Sea. Unfortunately, it is loaded with obscure mystic remarks and references to various gods. As I page through it I see elaborate mandalas. The explanations of these metaphysical symbols are hopelessly complex. Here is a huge maze-like diagram. The Tibetans have divided up the body of man into five layers, the Physical body, Pranic body, thought-body, consciousness body, and inspirational body. There are elaborate exercises for attaining consciousness of the various levels of mind. Every page of the book is sprinkled with incomprehensible words done in italic, some Sanskrit, some Tibetan. How about, "sa-la gnas-pahi rig-hdzin as the White Knowledge Holder having the earth-element as his abode, embraced by the white Dakini."

"You can read it later," Freddy murmurs gently as she kicks me under the table.

"What? Oh, right." I slide the book aside and smile sheepishly. "I was just thinking how the book suffers from the same problem as all the modern attempts to talk about these subjects. The secrets of the gods truly are secrets of language. It seems any literary work to deal with these subjects gets clouded with incomprehensible nonsense."

"Science is not immune to the same problem," Bill points out.

"Not in exactly the same way. All the attempts to deal with this topic seem to suffer from the same literary problem. WeTellurians are so enthusiastic, so delighted, so fanatic, about knowing about the interaction of the larger and smaller selves, we talk about it in a very awkward style."

"Everyone tends to be a bit suspicious of excessive enthusiasm," Freddy looks at me meaningfully.

"Occultism, mysticism, reincarnation - secrets, mysteries, and gods. All wrapped up in an awkward style with common language mixed with incomprehensible jargonese and few, if any references. Yet the phenomenon is the very thread of existence, the most ordinary and simple thing there is."

"Secrets, Mysteries and Gods?," Freddy nods thoughtfully. "This Magic Sea and the Moirae?"

"Yeah, that's exactly what I mean," I try to make it sound neutral but Freddy's quip bit me hard and I'm pissed. "Lyall Watson and extrasensory supernature concepts, Burr's Electrodynamic theory of life, Derry's living planet in the Boundaries of Knowledge Series, Harding's Hierarchy of Heaven and Earth, Stringer's Secret of the Gods, Murchie's Seven Mysteries of Life, Lovelock's Gaia Hypothesis. The only author who has handled it at all well is Lewis Thomas with his Lives of A Cell. And Loren Eisley's Invisible Pyramid.

"So why not write it like Thomas and Eisley?" Freddy argues.

"Because they say it but don't say it. They are so nice and so easy to read the message gets lost. Like Ralph Gerard with his essay, Becoming, the Residue of Change. It was the most intelligent paper on Evolution in the big three volume, centennial work on Evolution after Darwin. His paper was and has been completely ignored. It's as if there is some overriding reason why these ideas CAN'T be widely known." Now I'm really wound up, sounding paranoid.

"Let us all take a moment and adjust our aluminum skull caps," Freddy gives me a wild-eyed look. I feel my face flush.

"I do like your treasure map idea," Bill is trying hard to keep from guffawing but he is not succeeding very well. "Really, it's like any treasure map, you know. It won't mean anything to someone who just looks at the map itself. Needs some explanations, doesn't it?"

"Worse than that, the explanation is a poem which also makes little sense unless you already have some feeling for the treasure and have some knowledge about nature and life." There follows several minutes of devoted silence as the three of us shovel Freddy's Mystic Lasagna into our deeper inner selves.

"Oh, that was excellent, Freddy, really lovely," Bill sits back and smiles at Freddy.

"Mmmfff," I mumble with my mouth still full of the irresistible meal.

"How about some coffee and desert?" Freddy snatches the bowl of lasagna from my greedy fingers before I can make a fool out of myself by gobbling a third helping.

"Why yes, thank you. I really am interested in treasure, you know. Gold, in particular. One of my hobbies. I've traced down several treasures here in the South Pacific. I actually had a go at one in Saipan a few years ago. We had an excellent map. It seems the Japanese stashed a rather large quantity of Gold on Saipan just before the American invasion. They put it into a cave and exploded some charges to seal it off. Quite a lot of gold, actually. Well, we got hold of this map and went to have a look." Bill pauses to accept the coffee and cake from Freddy, "Oh, this is too, too much, thank you."

"So? did you find it?" Freddy asks.

"Oh yes. Yes indeed. Found the site without too much bother. The only problem was that we'd need some serious earth moving gear to get at it. Over the years - they have brutal typhoons there you know - the whole hill has washed down. Worst luck, it isn't far from the main town and treasure excavation is not the sort of thing one can do on federal land in plain view. But it was a fun adventure, anyway. Perhaps one day I'll find a way to get at it. Meanwhile, the gold will keep and there are other treasures around. Can we have a look at the poem?"

"Huh? Oh, right. The poem. What I've done is make the poem and the treasure map into a kind of educational game. I made the poem into a video-poem, see, with images from the real sea. This Magic Sea would be shown to students and then they have to find keys to understanding the treasure map in the video. With the help of the teacher. Anyway, here's the poem and it's visual script." I hand Bill the well worn copy of the script and he puts on a pair of reading glasses and begins to read.

Bill looks up and asks, "We refers to all of life, to the whole integrated network of communications, is that right?"

"Right. Two young Samoan girls and I read the script for the sound track. We alternate voices to give the script texture and to give life to the "We" in the lines."

"Oh, I like this, I like this, yes. "We are the thread of awareness in chaos. We are a crystal memory in a magic sea. We are the image at the focus of awareness as sunlight flows through the lens of mind. We are life, and life is thought made visible." That's really lovely. I'd love to see the whole thing when it's finished. There's so much I'd have to sit down and think about each line."


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