the banished djinn


Having come to the conclusion that there is neither past nor future, it seems right to me to share this finding, and an explanation of it, with others, who I am guessing, are not likely to be offended by it.


For me, our option to understand change in the world in terms of an all-pervading relational-spatial transformation [holodynamic] rather than in the standard terms of our standard European mind conditioned by noun-and-verb European language-and-grammar where everything in the universe is forced to undergo passage from ‘the past’ into ‘the future’ changes one’s entire outlook on social dynamics and social institutions (governance, commerce, justice) and gives one a very different perspective on issues like ‘reconciliation’ associated with the residential schools that indigenous aboriginal children were forced [by the government of the people] to attend.

It is often brought up that we can only experience things in the present so this suggests that ‘the past’ and the ‘future’ and ‘time’, are some kind of abstractions or idealizations, and that there is only the ‘continuing now’.

In fact, indigenous aboriginals of North America [traditionalists] understand the world this way and so do ‘relational’ interpreters of quantum physics [see Julian Barbour’s ‘The End of Time’].   Joining them is Nietzsche, who similarly claimed that the world is a continuously transforming relational space, not to mention Heraclitus Πάντα ῥεῖ (panta rhei) ‘everything is in flux’ and others.

There is no ‘trick’ here.  I really do not believe in ‘time’ in the sense of a past or future era [that can be occupied].  It also follows, as I will explain, that I don’t believe in ‘growing up’ and ‘aging’ [as a thing-in-myself] nor do i believe in the ‘reality’ of any binary opposites such as ‘good’ and ‘evil’, ‘creation’ and ‘destruction’, ‘space’ and ‘matter’, ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ nor, as mentioned ‘past’ and ‘future’.  If one thinks of oneself and forms in general as relational features in a transforming relational spatial plenum, then the notion of a ‘past’ that ‘exists’ as a particular, occupy-able era-in-itself is not something that can have any meaning to us since we are the relational space we are included in, and “we cannot step into the same river twice for it is not the same river and we are not the same person”.  in other words, ‘time travel’ does not make any sense, nor do remarks made by elders to children such as ‘if you had lived back then, you would know what I am talking about.’

When one suspends believing in ‘space’ and ‘time’ as two separate measuring references, all of the ‘dualisms’, including the ‘mind’ and ‘matter’ split are subsumed by non-dualist yin/yang relations where the two opposites are understood as conjugate aspects of the one dynamic of ‘transformation’.


[N.B. The Taoist, Zen, Vedanta concept of yin/yang is key to an understanding of the source of incoherence in the European mind conditioned by noun-and-verb European/Scientific language and grammar.]


 For example, if you construct a house, you are at the same time destroying forest and meadow; i.e. ‘construction’ and ‘destruction’ are conjugate aspects of the one dynamic of the transformation of relational space.  The understanding that space is a ‘fullness’ rather than an emptiness is the finding of modern physics;


“Space is not empty. It is full, a plenum as opposed to a vacuum, and is the ground for the existence of everything, including ourselves.” — David Bohm


This is probably still sounding weird, although you might agree that our experience tells us that ‘there is always something in space, like the forest and meadow, and that if we are constructing a house, we are, at the same time, destroying some of what is already there.

One can think about it this way.   There is this thing called ‘the world clock’ that gives a running (statistical) account of births and deaths [ ].   As I have already mentioned, ‘creation’ and ‘destruction’ are conjugate aspects of the one dynamic of transformation of relational space.  So, if you think about it, the space of the earth’s biosphere in which things are continually gathering and regathering stays the same size while things come and go with in it.  There are more humans coming than going and more trees going than coming and more wolves going than coming but since everything in the biosphere is interdependent, it is more reasonable to think in terms of ‘transformation of the relational space of the biosphere’.   As Nietzsche puts it, the biosphere does not get bigger or smaller, it ‘transforms’;


And do you know what “the world” is to me? Shall I show it to you in my mirror? This world: a monster of energy, without beginning, without end; a firm, iron magnitude of force that does not grow bigger or smaller, that does not expend itself but only transforms itself; as a whole, of unalterable size, a household without expenses or losses, but likewise without increase or income …” –Nietzsche, ‘The Will to Power’, 1067


This is the same view as those physicists who support the ‘relational space’ interpretation of quantum physics and relativity.  

Don’t worry, if this is sounding complicated and obscure, it is only because of the mistakes we have been culturally conditioned to make since being born and raised in the culture of European mind conditioned by noun-and-verb European language and grammar.   If you were born and raised in an indigenous aboriginal (traditionalist) culture, you would NOT, in the first place be believing in ‘past’ and ‘future’ nor in the various binary opposites such as ‘construction’ and ‘destruction’ or ‘good’ and ‘evil’, so there would be no need to talk you through this (as I have had to talk myself through it).

The support for the view that ‘relations’ are in a natural precedence over ‘the things that are woven into the relations’ is growing in physics, and I have footnoted [1] a short article from August’s Scientific American (‘What is Real’, by Meinard Kuhlmann)

So, the outlook is that the biosphere, and space in general, is an energy-charged fullness that is continuously transforming [NOT an emptiness populated by things-in-themselves as we tend to think of organisms, humans included].  One has to, instead, think of humans and organisms as relational features in the continuously transforming relational space.   This is the same relations as with storm-cells in the flow of the atmosphere. 

Here’s where the ‘disconnect comes’ for us folks with the European mind conditioned by noun-and-verb European language and grammar, because our language encourages us to RE-present things as if they are ‘independently-existing things-in-themselves’ that inhabit ‘absolute space’ and ‘absolute time’.   The picture here is of an ‘emptiness’ that is of infinite extent that is populated by independently-existing ‘things-in-themselves’, including ‘organisms’ which we understand as having their own internal process driven and directed development and behaviours.   

You can see the ‘trade-off’ or ‘alternative picture’ here.  Our noun-and-verb European language and grammar RE-presents our physical experiencing of the world in terms of ‘what things do’, NOT as ‘transformation of relational space’.    But the point is that modern physics, plus cultures such as the indigenous aboriginal culture, understand the same dynamics NOT in terms of ‘what things do’ but in terms of ‘transformation of relational space where organisms are like storm-cells in the transforming flow-space.

Our ‘mental picturing’ of dynamics is in the idealized terms of ‘what independently-existing things-in-themselves do’ because of our noun-and-verb European language and grammar.  This is not born out by physical investigations [one can’t investigate absolute space], but the relational transformation view jibes with our experience, but we should need a different sort of language to easily think in terms of relational transformation; i.e. a language like the indigenous aboriginal languages that captures things in terms of ‘flow’;


“The fact of the matter is that the ‘real world’ is to a large extent unconsciously  built up on the language habits of the group . . . We see and hear and otherwise experience very largely as we do because the language habits of our community predispose certain choices of interpretation.”  – Edward Sapir

“Bohm did note, however, that our (Indo-European) languages tend to be highly noun-oriented and well suited to discussions of concepts and categories. By contrast, quantum theory demands a more process-oriented approach, a verb-based language perhaps that emphasizes flow, movement and constant transformation. (Bohm’s Holomovement – the movement of the whole.)
To this end Bohm developed the notion of a particular language form, the Rheomode, adapted to the discussion of quantum theory and, indeed, to consciousness. It is not clear if Bohm ever considered the Rheomode to have any practical consequences – ie that people would end up speaking it. However, he does appear to have encouraged staff and students at Brockwood Park School, England to experiment with the language. Towards the end of his life Bohm met with Blackfoot and Ojibwaj speakers and discovered that their own family of languages, as well as their process-world view, have much in common with the Rheomode.”

So, the reason we understand things in terms of ‘past’ and ‘future’ is because of our noun-and-verb Indo-European language and grammar, and ditto for our ‘dualist’ view of ‘construction’ and ‘destruction’ and the other binary polar opposites.  

For example, because space is full, it is entirely subjective as to whether we speak of ‘construction’ or ‘destruction’ since in order to construct something in a ‘full space’, one has to, in the process, destroy something.  Another way of saying this is that what is really, physically going on is ‘relational spatial transformation’.

This, in turn, bears on ‘history’.  The colonizers claim that ‘they have constructed a wonderful new world (amazing cities etc.) in North America while the indigenous peoples claim that the colonizers ‘are destroying a wonderful established world on Turtle Island’.   In a logical sense, both claims are true at the same time, even though they are inherently contradictory.  This paradox is resolved by understanding what is going on as ‘transformation’ of relational space. 

While ‘history’ is a developmental progression over ‘time’ that proceeds from the past to the present towards the future, ‘transformation of the relational spatial plenum’ continues on in the continuing present.   That is, there is just one world, the transforming relational spatial Unum/Plenum and this transformation transpires in the continuing now.

The idea of ‘the past’ depends on the ‘existence of a thing-in-itself’ that persists ‘over time’.  For example, we might say that ‘my home town was very different five summers ago’ (i.e. ‘in the past’) and our language has the ‘tenses’ to support the concept of ‘the past’.   But as Heraclitus says;


  No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.”


He is saying that the whole space is transforming in a relational sense and this transpires in the continuing now, so that ‘five summers ago’ is the subjective measure of the observer, marking when he last looked at things.  However, a transforming relational space CANNOT AGE as there is nothing in that space that we can say is now ‘five years older’ because there are no ‘things-in-themselves’ in a transforming relational space.   You can’t step into the same river twice,…. the valley or community you observed five summers ago is not the same valley or community and you are not the same observer.  Everything is in flux, and it is in flux in the continuing present.   Split-apart ‘space’ and ‘time’ are artefacts of noun-and-verb European language and grammar; i.e. if one starts off presuming the existence of ‘things-in-themselves with their own internal process driven and directed behaviour’  [the ego archetype] then one is forced to invent an absolute space reference frame for these ‘things-in-themselves’ to act and interact in, and one is likewise forced to invent a reference time to measure change in the form of, and in the location of the ‘things-in-themselves’.

The sense of ‘past’ and ‘future’ come directly from the notion that space is absolute and populated by things-in-themselves that we can monitor by repeatedly observing them in successive intervals of time.   We can do this, for example, with hurricanes that we name (Katrina, Francis, Ivan) even though we know that the real physical dynamic is the continuing-in-the-now transformation of the relational space of the atmosphere/ocean.   It is our noun-and-verb European language and grammar that has us say that ‘Katrina is growing larger and stronger’, … ‘Katrina is heading towards the Gulf Coast’, … ‘Katrina is ravaging New Orleans’, … ‘Katrina is dissipating’ when the real physical dynamic is the transforming-in-the-now of the relational spatial atmosphere-plenum.


 * * *


Social Implications of ‘Belief in a Past and a Future’


To be clear, what I am saying is that ‘physical reality’ as validated by our real-life experience [putting our experience in precedence over our powers of abstract reasoning, or,  ‘putting empiricism into precedence over rationality’] supports the understanding of the world we live in as a continuously transforming-in-the-now relational spatial plenum wherein there is no ‘past’ and no ‘future’.

What I am further saying, and going to explain as best I can in this short note, is that the European mind conditioned by noun-and-verb European language and grammar, to believe in ‘the past’ and ‘the future’ and to institutionalize such belief in governance, commerce and justice, is the source of incoherence and social dysfunction on a global scale.

For example, the colonizers believed that they were ‘improving the land’ [as it says on today’s property tax assessments], ‘civilizing it’, and ‘making it more productive’.   Looking back ‘into the past’, the land was ‘deserted’ [terra nullius] and by working together we [the European colonizers and their descendents] have planned for and achieved the construction of a ‘desired future’.  We have ‘tamed the wilderness’ and created ‘civilized’ ‘sovereign states’ that are ‘independent’; each exercising their God-given right to pursuit of happiness, as is also the case with their independent citizenry, committing their labours to bringing about a ‘desired future’ of their choosing.

This idea of ‘independent states’, each with its own past and future, does not ‘reconcile’ with the understanding of the world as a continuously transforming-in-the-now relational spatial plenum.  It is like dividing the sphere of the earth up into segments as make up a soccer ball, superimposing these segments on the unbounded [bio-]sphere of the earth, and claiming that each superimposed segment is an independently-existing thing-in-itself [sovereign state] with its own internal process driven and directed behaviour, … its own ‘domestic product’, … and its own individual ‘history’ that describes its maturing from past to present and its potentials for continuing development ‘into the future’.  Nothing in physical nature, not the winds, the waters, the airborne and waterborne soil, not the thermal energy flow of climatic variation pay any heed to these ‘declarations of independence’ of the sovereign states, whose soccer-ball segment boundaries are defined by the coordinates of imaginary lines which subjectively differentiate between the ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ of a state [‘subjective’ since the outside of state A is seen by the neighbouring state B as the inside; i.e. there are no such things in physical reality as binary polar opposites such as ‘inside’ and ‘outside’].

In short, the European mind conditioned by noun-and-verb European language and grammar has the habit of constructing a fictional world based on notional ‘independently-existing things-in-themselves’, notionally with ‘their own internal process driven and directed development and behaviour’ [organisms, humans, sovereign states] that act/interact within a notional absolute space and absolute time reference-frame-come-notional-operating-theatre.  The European mind is in the habit of giving these ‘things-in-themselves’ [that it synthetically splits out of the relational-spatial activity continuum] ‘identity’, with the help of language labels and definitions, creating pure abstract ‘objects’;

“Every definition implies an axiom, that in which we affirm the independent existence of the object defined” — John Stuart Mill

 Instead of the activity continuum of our experience; e.g. the continuously transforming-in-the-now relational-spatial atmosphere-plenum, we have storm-cells that we use language to name-label and define and personify [we personify their ‘independent self’-based development and behaviour] and so RE-cast the dynamics of the relational space in terms of the ‘storm-cell things-in-themselves’ and ‘what these things do’.

It should be clear that these soccer-ball-segment sovereign states that we present, using noun-and-verb European language and grammar, and use to construct a pseudo-reality in which we impute ‘independent existence’ and ‘independent development and behaviour’ to these ‘things-in-themselves’  ARE NOT REAL but are abstractions or idealizations and the notional world we construct in  terms of ‘their actions’ and their ‘interactions’ within a notional absolute space and absolute time reference-frame/operating-theatre IS NOT REAL in any physical sense that can be ‘picked up’ by our natural sensory experience.  The bird that flies from northern North America to the tip of South America and back is not going to acknowledge the ‘existence’ of the sovereign states it is supposedly passing through since these states are language based concepts and are not the stuff of sensory experience.  They do not exist in a physical sense, but they do ‘exist’ as noun-and-verb European language and grammar based abstractions in the minds of ‘believers’, and these beliefs help to shape the physical behaviours of the believers.   The indigenous aboriginal, like the bird, will not acknowledge their physical existence [they have none] and is unlikely to be co-opted into believing in them as abstract notions.


“All significant concepts of the modern theory of the state are secularized theological concepts, not only because of their historical development … but also because of their systematic structure.” —Jens Bartelson, A Genealogy of Sovereignty


“State sovereignty “is a ‘religion’ and a faith.” — Mark Owen Lombardi, Third-World Problem-Solving and the ‘Religion’ of Sovereignty: Trends and Prospects.


“The skillfully drawn borders that cartographers have provided for us are … spiritual and philosophical abstractions representative of a form of quasi-belief. They are … not detached maps of reality as proponents would have us believe. These geographies reflect an ardent desire to make (or impose) sovereignty a physical reality as natural as the mountains, rivers and lakes….” [Ibid.]


The continually transforming-in-the-now relational spatial plenum is what is available to our sensory experience, and it has no ‘past’ and no ‘future’.   It is only the abstractions of our noun-and-verb European language and grammar that have ‘a past’ and ‘a future’.   The European mind conditioned by noun-and-verb European language and grammar created the secularized theological abstraction of ‘the United States’ as an ‘independent thing-in-itself sovereign state’ on July 4, 1776.   The birds detected no changes [via their sensory experience] associated with the U.S. declaration of independent existence and neither did indigenous aboriginals like those in akwesasne.  But the latter have been disturbed by all the fuss that the ‘believers’ make in their insistence that everyone must observe their rituals of paying their respects to the invisible line.


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Akwesasne’s Invisible Line


It is only abstract ‘things’ that have a ‘past’ and a ‘future’.  ‘The sovereign state’ or ‘the world’ as an abstract thing has a ‘past’ and a ‘future’ but not so the real physical world we share inclusion in; i.e. the continually transforming-in-the-now relational spatial Plenum.    We use absolute space as a reference-frame/container to notionally isolate the ‘thing’ and split it out of the relational space activity continuum [e.g. as we do with a relational form in the relational space such as the storm-cell in the relational space of the atmosphere] and then we use the ‘linear dimension of time’ to arrange our successive observations of such abstract things-in-themselves to give them the sense of ‘changing over time’, giving the impression of a ‘time-line’ that goes from ‘past’ through ‘present’ to ‘future’ along which we can arrange our successive observations of the ‘thing’.

How did Katrina look ‘in the past’, like, three days ago?  She was weaker and smaller while today she is stronger and larger and very likely, she is going to get stronger still and larger in the future.

‘Nature’, the ‘nature’ of our real-life physical sensory experience IS ONE THING, one ‘activity continuum’, a continually transforming-in-the-now relational spatial Plenum.   The atmosphere is a plenum that absorbs thermal energy from solar irradiance which instigates currents and convection cells within it that seek to restore balance to thermal energy distribution.  The relational feature in this continually transforming-in-the-now relational space is something that different cultures capture differently depending on their language.   For the European with his European mind conditioned by noun-and-verb European language and grammar, … he RE-presents the relational form as a notional ‘thing-in-itself’, notionally with its own internal process driven and directed behaviour, which abstractly ‘splits the relational form out’ of the continually-transforming-in-the-now-relational-spatial activity continuum, and ARTIFICIALLY ENDOWS THIS THING-IN-ITSELF WITH A PAST, A PRESENT AND A FUTURE; I.E. WITH “ITS OWN HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT”.

We have to remind ourselves that the past and the future are the artificial constructs of our noun-and-verb European language and grammar.  They do not exist in the physical reality of the natural world of our sensory experience.


 * * *


The Complications of Letting These Artificial Notions of ‘Past’ and ‘Future’ Shape Our Individual and Collective Behaviour.


The ‘past’ and the ‘future’, as well as ‘history’ are concepts we apply to noun-and-verb European language-and-grammar CONSTRUCTS which we THINK OF as INDEPENDENTLY-EXISTING THINGS-IN-THEMSELVES.   Such language-based constructs include the sovereign nation state’ and the ‘biological organism’.    While the former is a purely abstract construction, the latter derives from the ‘splitting out of the relational spatial activity continuum’, the ‘relational form’.


One of the most globally pervasive ‘wake-up calls’ to the complications of our mistaken BELIEF in ‘past’ and ‘future’ and thus allowing these concepts to shape our individual and collective behaviour is ‘our ignoring that we, as inhabitants, are included in the habitat’ and that “The dynamics of the inhabitants are conditioning the dynamics of the habitat at the same time as the dynamics of the habitat are conditioning the dynamics of the inhabitants” [Mach’s principle].


This takes us back to the mistake of considering ‘construction’ and ‘destruction’ as two separate processes.  The are NOT.  They are conjugate aspects of the one dynamic of relational spatial transformation.  It is impossible to ‘construct a house’ without ‘destroying forest and meadow’ [i.e. constructing destroys whatever is filling the space currently].


Nevertheless, because our noun-and-verb European language-and-grammar gives us the sense that ‘construction’ is an ‘activity-in-itself’, we formulate plans and execute implementations associated with notion that we are ‘constructing’ something.   Note that ‘construction’ implies the ‘bringing about of a desired FUTURE’.  In the past, we haven’t had a factory in this town, but in the future, we are going to construct a factory here.


The physical reality is that we live in a continually transforming relational spatial Plenum so that we are limited to rearranging the unfolding relational space


“Many people would be disposed to say that it was not the machine, but what one did with the machine, that was its meaning or message. In terms of the ways in which the machine altered our relations to one another and ourselves, it mattered not in the least whether it turned out cornflakes or Cadillacs.” — Marshall McLuhan, ‘Understanding Media’  [the transforming relational ‘medium is the message’]


If we make a documentary on the construction and operationalizing of a Cadillac factory in a rural environment, by focusing on the construction and operationalizing of the factory, we ‘lose sight of’ the more comprehensive view of what is going; i.e. how the ongoing transformation of the relational spatial plenum is being warped by this activity; e.g. how workers are leaving the farms to come and work in the factory, how factory feeder roads are transforming the traffic flow and leaving the mom&pop cafés and businesses on ‘the old highway’ in the lurch.


In other words, Πάντα ῥεῖ (panta rhei) ‘everything is in flux’;


No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.”


The physical reality is the continuously transforming relational space within which we are ‘agents of transformation’ who are able to influence the unfolding in such a manner that the evolving community will evolve like a developing organism which develops a new organ in its unfolding development [not to forget that every system/organism is included in a relational suprasystem, ultimately the continuously transforming-in-the-now relational spatial Plenum].


The New York State planning council may decide to construct a new factory as part of their pursuit-of-happiness or ‘construction of a desired future’ as an ‘independent sovereign state’, and the Province of Ontario planning council may decide to construct a new factory as part of their pursuit-of-happiness or ‘construction of a desired future’ as an ‘independent sovereign state’, however, the non-state of Akwesasne is going to be affected by whatever happens [the airflow, riverflow, trafficflow, noise pollution, light pollution, chemical pollution] since the notions of ‘construction’ and ‘declared independence of the state’ and its ‘inside’ and outside’ have no legitimacy in the physical reality of our sensory experience.


“The concept of “sovereignty” provided state power with an “inside” and an “outside.” States claimed supreme power inside what they called their “domestic” realms and defined other states’ realms as “outside.” — Jens Bartelson, A Genealogy of Sovereignty.


The central authorities of the sovereign state have control over ‘construction within the state’, however, ‘within the state’ is a physically meaningless abstraction, as the birds and beasts of meadows and forests understand, not to mention the residents of Akwesasne.  What prevails in physical reality is Mach’s principle;


“The dynamics of the inhabitants are conditioning the dynamics of the habitat at the same time as the dynamics of the habitat are conditioning the dynamics of the inhabitants” — Ernst Mach


Mach’s principle is a physical principle that is not ‘trumped’ by abstract noun-and-verb European language and grammar constructs that suddenly declare the independent existence of an imaginary-line bounded sovereign state.   The relational space of nature is one thing [Unum/Plenum] that is continually unfolding and what we refer to as ‘construction’ is just the assertive side of relational spatial transformation.   Construction and destruction or better, ‘assertion and accommodation’ are conjugate aspects of the one dynamic of relational spatial transformation.


The mistaken-for-reality ‘constructing a desired future’ for the ‘independently-existing sovereign state’; i.e. a domestic construction project, is not a LOCAL project-in-itself but an intervention into the unfolding relational spatial activity continuum.  How many ‘independent states’ are conducting ‘domestic projects’ in their pursuit of a desired future?  All 193 sovereign states, and each of this ‘domestic projects’ has a shaping influence on the ENTIRE relational spatial activity continuum because, in physical reality, there only is the one continuously transforming relational spatial continuum, and we and everything are included in it.


“Space is not empty. It is full, a plenum as opposed to a vacuum, and is the ground for the existence of everything, including ourselves.” — David Bohm


Dividing out ‘sovereign states’ and ‘human organisms’ and giving them all a ‘past’ and a ‘future’ and their own ‘historical development and experience’ is ABSTRACTION born of our noun-and-verb European language-and-grammar.


 * * *


How We Use Noun-and-Verb European Language-and-Grammar to Reduce Yin/Yang Physical Reality to our Standard All-Yang-No-Yin Abstract “What Things-in-Themselves-Do’ Reality


Our experience in navigating passage in a crowd or in the flow of a busy freeway, is that the relational-spatial opening and closing of passageways orchestrates and shapes our individual and collective behaviours.   But the outside scientific observer, who has installed a GPS on our person and is using noun-and-verb Scientific language and grammar, will show us ‘our trajectory’, a curvy line in x,y,z,t reference space and time, and insist that we are the full and sole author of our own behaviour as RE-presented by ‘our trajectory’.    They will provide this for each participant in the crowd dynamic and/or the freeway traffic dynamic.  


What is wrong with ‘this picture’?


The fact is, the scientists have removed the ‘yin’ from the yin/yang dynamics of our real physical experience [the outside-inward orchestrating influence deriving from our situational inclusion in a continually transforming relational spatial dynamic].   They are RE-presenting our behaviour as if our actions were internal process driven and directed actions, consistent with their SCIENTIFIC models of the organism as an ‘independently-existing thing-in-itself with its own internal process driven and directed behaviours that acts/interacts with other such entities in an absolute space and time reference frame-come-‘operating theatre’.  That is, they were able to draw our trajectory; i.e. our one-sided all-yang-no-yin behaviour,  by imputing the existence of an absolute space and absolute time reference frame that does not exist in physical reality, and RE-presenting our visible dynamics referenced to the absolute space and time framing, whereas, in the physical reality of our experience, our movements were orchestrated outside-inwardly by the patterned opening of passageways that formed in the spatial relations in which we were situationally included. 


This is what noun-and-verb European language and grammar constructs DELIVER IN GENERAL, depictions of ‘things-in-themselves’ and ‘what things do’, an ‘all-yang-no-yin’ [all inside-outward asserting] depiction of ‘dynamics’ that are, in our physical experience, yin/yang dynamic wherein outside-inward orchestrating influence and inside-outward asserting actions are in conjugate relation.


When we write our résumés, it is the same thing; i.e. we present a ‘history’ of ourselves from ‘past’ to ‘present’ depicting ourselves as ‘independently-existing things-in-ourselves’ with a work ‘history’ given by ‘what we as things-in-ourselves have done’.   The physical reality is yin/yang; i.e. our individual and collective actions were FIRSTLY orchestrated and shaped by the unfolding relational spatial dynamics we were situational included in.   That this ‘goes missing’ in our noun-and-verb European language-and-grammar constructions of ‘history’ is common to all ‘histories’ of things from ‘past’ to ‘present’.   Every system is included in a relational suprasystem and how the relational suprasystem is unfolding orchestrates and shapes the assertive actions of the system that is situationally included in it, whether we are talking ‘sovereign state’ or ‘organism’.   The outside-inward orchestrating influence of the relational suprasystem and the inside-outside asserting actions of the system are in conjugate relation.  Together, they constitute a yin/yang dynamic.   Mainstream science prefers to impose absolute space and time reference frames so as to reduce the yin/yang dynamics of our physical experience to one-sided all-yang-no-yin dynamics.   This applies to the past-to-present histories of everything from sovereign states through human organisms to storm-cells.


The ‘contrived reality’ of our noun-and-verb European language-and-grammar RE-presents the dynamics of our physical experience in the contrived one-sided all-yang-no-yin terms of ‘what things in themselves do’, imputing to all of these things their own ‘past’ to ‘present’ ‘histories’. 


It is the missing ‘yin’ which would have made sense [brought into coherent connective confluence] of all these ‘reduced-to-the-yang-pole’ dynamics.  By ‘yin’ is meant the transforming relational spatial configuration that orchestrates and shapes the assertive movements of the participants within the relational spatial dynamic.  In the flow of the crowd, where a passageway opens up, it orchestrates and shapes individual and collective movements.  


MEANWHILE, the ‘yin’ aspect of the yin/yang dynamic is; …. non-local, non-visible, non-material; i.e. it is purely ‘relational’.  It is the manifest aspect, the assertive actions orchestrated by the opening of passageways, that is local, visible, and material, … and we are in the habit of RE-presenting dynamics in the reduced-to-the-yang-pole terms of ‘what things-in-themselves do’ which is the ‘trajectory’ or ‘past’ to ‘present’ ‘activity history’ of notional ‘things-in-themselves.


 * * *


Where does the ‘Yin’ come from in ‘Yin/Yang’ Dynamics?


If you picture a ‘yang man’ in black silhouetted against a white wall and shadow-fencing, it looks like his actions are all yang and no yin, and we deal with this by speaking of the ‘life’ in his ‘body’.


There has always been debate over the origins of ‘life’ and this question raises its head once again as we investigate the argued non-reality of ‘past’ and ‘future’.


As discussed above, ‘past’ and ‘future’ are idealizations that associate with noun-and-verb European language-and-grammar derived ‘independently-existing things-in-themselves’ and their ‘activity résumés’, their ‘trajectory’; where they are coming from and where they are headed for over the course of their ‘life’ – ‘time’.  ‘Life’, in the case of a notional ‘thing-in-itself’ could be coming into the thing from;


(a) Breathed in by God


(b) Imputed by noun-and-verb European language and grammar


(c) Breathed in by the suprasystem the system is situationally included in.



Cultural belief traditions will clearly have a role to play.   For example, when we see a tornado, it looks like the drawing of a genie coming out of a bottle. we are tempted to think of ‘it’ as having its own power to stir things, its own inputs and outputs, however, the physical reality is that the inputs and outputs of the tornado belong to the energy-charged space it forms within.

‘Genie’ relates to ‘djinn’ which ties back into some other old aphorism and myths which split into two world views; yin/yang and all-yang-no-yin;

“In ancient writings there is a general pattern alluding to the replacing of ‘yin’ with passivity; Adam’s first wife, Lilith, from ‘lil’ [Sumerian for ‘breath’ or ‘spirit’ ca. 3000 BCE], becoming ‘lilitu’ [wind-spirit] in Babylonian, and appearing in Arabic as ‘Alilat’ [a form of Lilith, in this case as the daughter of Allah and Goddess of the night], was the equal of Adam, who was banished for demanding equality in sexual relations. According to the legends, Adam insisted on superiority in sexual relations and Lilith was banished and God made Adam a second, passive/submissive wife, Eve. Lilith was demonized as a spirit of darkness that had sex with the devil and spawned djinns or genies.”

The notion here is that Lilith, the female aspect in the conjugate yin/yang relation, is the ‘breath of life’ that is pervasive in the world, and that this breath-of-life has been removed from space and it is instead infused by an anthropomorphic yang God into material forms to ‘give them life’.

“In the Bible (Gen. 2:7) God breathes the breath of life into the human being formed of dust, and this being “became a living soul”. Words in many languages which double as wind and spirit indicate the creation process, the turning of inanimate matter into animate (anemos is Greek for wind).”

So, nothing has changed the fact that we have two choices as to how we should understand ‘dynamic forms’ [notional ‘things-in-themselves’ and/or ‘relational features of a relational space’] like the tornado and like the biological organism;

1. All-yang-no-yin;

… as local independently-existing system-things-in-themselves with their own internal process driven and directed behaviours. [today’s mainstream science view]

2. Yin/yang;

…. as relational forms in relational space [today’s relational space interpretation of relativity and quantum field dynamics]

In our European mind conditioned by noun-and-verb European language-and-grammar, we have a cultural tradition of thinking in terms of ‘man’ being the ‘highest level’ system and therefore NOT being included in a suprasystem larger and more comprehensive than himself;

“God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” – Genesis 1:28

In the mind of the indigenous aboriginal, conditioned by ‘rheomode’ language that implies ‘timeless’ relational space, a continually transforming relational spatial Plenum in which man is a relational feature within a relational spatial suprasystem;

“You must teach the children that the ground beneath their feet is the ashes of your grandfathers. So that they will respect the land, tell your children that the earth is rich with the lives of our kin. Teach your children what we have taught our children, that the earth is our mother. Whatever befalls the earth, befalls the sons of the earth. If men spit upon the ground, they spit upon themselves. … This we know, the earth does not belong to man, man belongs to the earth. This we know. All things are connected like the blood which unites one family. All things are connected. Whatever befalls the earth, befalls the sons of the earth. Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.” —Native Belief Tradition

The point here is that the noun-and-verb European language-and-grammar constructs deliver a reduced-to-the-yang-pole view of dynamics [reduced to all-yang-no-yin dynamics] and the likelihood is that this may have been influenced by religious belief traditions of European man or ‘Mediterranean man’.

In any case, the European view of dynamics which are ‘reduced to the yang pole’ [all-yang-no-yin] effectively deny that the local ‘system’ [sovereign state, organism, corporation] is included in a relational suprasystem which is outside-inwardly orchestrating and shaping the individual and collective actions of the participants/components in the ‘system’.  In this, the European view of dynamics [i.e. the mainstream science view of dynamics] is contradictory to the relational interpretation of modern physics [1] which is, in turn, consistent with the indigenous aboriginal view of dynamics.

One could bring ‘the past’, ‘the future’ and the ‘activity history’ of a ‘thing-in-itself’ into the context of these above remarks using the example of systems scientist Russell Ackoff of ‘the university’ as ‘the system’ and ‘the community’ as the suprasystem.   As Ackoff points out, this view of the system as a local, visible, material thing-in-itself is incomplete unless the in-and-back-out-again analytical inquiry into the dynamic of the ‘system’ is grounded in an out-and-back-in-again synthetical inquiry into the dynamics of the community [since the system is orchestrated into action by the relational suprasystem it is included in].  Before we used the subjective idealizing power of language to put a word-name-label on ‘university’, it is a relational feature [a pattern of how people were coming together in a shared activity] within the relational suprasystem of community.  Another way of saying this is that every system is included in a relational suprasystem; e.g. the dynamic behaviour of a system is relative to the dynamics of the relational space suprasystem it is situationally included in.

Once we impute ‘thing-in-itself-being’ to the university-system and thus portray it as a having a ‘life of its own’, we begin to think in terms of it having had a ‘past’ and having a ‘future’ and an ‘activity history’ that captures ‘its development over time’.   Yet its development is orchestrated outside-inwardly from the relational suprasystem dynamic it is included in.  This ‘yin’ orchestrating influence, meanwhile, being purely relational, is non-local, non-visible and non-material [as with the relational influence of a gravity field which is ‘everywhere at the same time’], while the university dynamic, the yang manifestation of the yin influence, is local, visible and material and can be described by an analytical inquiry into the university system which explains its dynamics in the fully inside-outward asserting [all-yang-no-yin] terms of its internal components and processes directing and driving its behaviour.

Explaining ‘the university’ in terms of ‘it’ having had a ‘past’ and having a ‘future’ as well as an ‘activity history’ gives us a sense of the university as a ‘thing-in-itself with its own internal process driven and directed behaviour’.  That is, it SYNTHETICALLY splits it out of the relational activity continuum in which it is included and which engendered it as a relational feature within the relational activity continuum.   The European mind conditioned by noun-and-verb European language-and-grammar thus MANUFACTURES A PSEUDO-REALITY which is mandated as ‘the operative reality’ much to the chagrin of people like the residents of Akwesasne who continue to orient to the relational physical reality of nature which they understand themselves to be included in.

Their neighbours, the European-minded ‘citizens’ of the sovereign states of Canada and the United States, on the other hand, see man as the jumpstart source of his own behaviour, and thus see the sovereign state as the jumpstart source of its own behaviour and they speak with pride of the history of their state, and they speak with pride of the history of their own personal achievements as ‘things-in-themselves with their own internal process driven and directed behaviours’.  They claim that ‘their farmers produce wheat’ as if it is their farmers that are responsible for the production of wheat, is the nonsense notions that come into the European mind conditioned by non-and-verb European language and grammar.  Of course, when nature abandons the wheat farmer, as it did in the dustbowl conditions of Oklahoma in the 1930’s, the wheat farmers’ ‘emperor’s new clothes’ are exposed and it comes to everyone’s attention that it was not the case that the farmers were producing the wheat, but instead, the land was producing both the farmers and the plants; i.e. the farmers and their farms were ‘systems’ that were included within a relational suprasystem greater than themselves which orchestrated and shaped their assertive/productive behaviours.  

The independently-existing ‘system-thing-in-itself’ view of the human organism and/or the farming corporation and/or the sovereign state is an artifice of the European mind conditioned by noun-and-verb European language and grammar.  It is an artifice that includes the concepts of the ‘past’ and ‘future’ and ‘activity history’ of the notional ‘thing-in-itself’, all of which is non-reconcilable with the physical reality of a continually transforming relational spatial Plenum.

 * * *

Darwin’s Theory as Another All-Yang-No-Yin Artifice of Noun-and-Verb European Language-and-Grammar

Evolution in a continually transforming-in-the-now relational spatial Plenum is all ‘part of the one package’.

The Christian Creation Myth presents the ‘species’ as an inventory of ‘things-in-themselves’ rather than as ‘relational forms in a relational space’ so that inquiry into the origin of new forms or variations in the forms would seem to take the ‘subjectification’ of the relational forms in the relational space by way of noun-and-verb European language-and-grammar ‘literally’, as if their ‘thing-in-itselfness’ was ‘real’.  Starting from the ‘thing-in-itselfness’ assumption, the explanation of the origin of new forms was in terms of ‘reproduction with random chance variation’.

Referring back to the above discussion on ‘what breathes life’ into forms (a) God, (b) language, (c) the relational suprasystem, … Darwin’s theory brings us back to (b), noun-and-verb European language-and-grammar and their all-yang-no-yin constructs [featuring ‘past’, ‘future’ and ‘timeline of historical activity’].   As with explaining the development of the university as if from the university itself [all-yang-no-yin] and in denial of the outside-inward orchestrating and shaping influence of the relational suprasystem it was included in, … here we have the same linguistic artifice in Darwinian evolution.

By contrast, Lamarck’s view of evolution was that it was ‘yin/yang’ [outside-inward orchestrating influence of fields in conjugate relation with inside-outward assertive actions] and it is currently ‘resurrecting’ as the more comprehensive view of evolution as a general process.

Lamarck presented his ideas on the animating source of a ‘living body’ in his ‘Recherches Sur L’Organisation Des Corps Vivans (1802) [Investigations into the Organization of Living Bodies].    Lamarck’s work was summarily dismissed by the dominant anglophone science, and even mocked on the basis of strawman misinterpretations of his work so this major work of his was never translated in to English. 

Meanwhile, Lamarck’s views are right on target for understanding things in terms of relational space, and they also explain epigenesis and the conjugate receptor-effector relational process [the new relational-spatial view of the biological cell], and it explains evolution using physical yin/yang process, which is slowly and reluctantly being acknowledged by isolated areas of research in biological science.

Lamarck’s yin/yang view of biological life sees the cell as the conjugate relation of outside-inward orchestrating thermal, electromagnetic and gravity fields and inside-outward asserting actions of mineral saturated fluids. Lamarck’s yin/yang view also appears in the works of Nietzsche, Rolph, Roux and Rüdimeyer expressed as the conjugate relation of endosmosis and exosmosis.

Here is an except;

« Dans une pareille masse de matières, les fluides subtils et expansifs répandus et toujours en mouvement dans les milieux qui l’environnent, pénétrant sans cesse et s’en dissipant de même, régularisent en traversant cette masse, la disposition intérieure de ses parties, et la rendent propre alors à absorber et à exhaler continuellement les autres fluides environnans qui peuvent pénétrer dans son intérieur et qui sont susceptibles
d’être contenus.
Ces autres fluides, qui sont l’eau chargée de gaz dissous ou d’autres matières ténues, l’air atmosphérique que contient l’eau, etc.. je les appellerai fluides contenables, pour les distinguer des fluides subtils, tels que le calorique, la matière électrique, etc.. qu’aucun corps connu ne sauroit contenir.
Les fluides contenables, absorbés par la petite masse gélatineuse dont il vient d’être question, ne restent point sans mouvement dans ses parties, parce que les fluides subtils non contenables qui y pénètrent toujours ne le permettent pas.
Ainsi les fluides incontenables tracent d’abord les premiers traits de la plus simple organisation, et ensuite les fluides contenables, par leurs mouvemens et leurs autres influences la développent, et avec le temps et toutes les circonstances favorables la compliquent et la perfectionnent. »

Translation into English;

In such a mass of materials [gelatinous fluid mixture], the fields [les fluides subtils] are always reaching out and permeating the materials around them, constantly penetrating and dissipating at the same time, conditioning in its permeating, the disposition of the interior parts, rendering them capable of absorbing and exhaling other fluids in the surrounding environs which are capable of being retained.
These other fluids, which are water charged with dissolved gases or other substantive materials, the atmospheric air which contains water etc., I call them ‘containable fluids’ [fluides contenables] to distinguish them from the subtle fluids [Lamarck’s calls ‘fields’ les fluides subtils], such as heat flow, electrified materials etc. that no material bodies know how to contain [i.e. the fluids that contain but which cannot themselves, be contained].
The containable fluids which are absorbed by the small gelatinous mass that has just been discussed, do not stop their movement into the parts, because the field flow [les fluides subtils non contenables] which are all the while penetrating, won’t allow it.
Thus the ‘fields’ trace out the first designs of the most simple organization, and then the containable fluids, by their movements and their other influences develop it, and with time and where all the circumstances are favourable, complexify it and perfect it.”

This is clearly a yin/yang ‘relational’ view of “the most simple organization characterizing living bodies”.   It is the same view of evolution as picked up later by Nietzsche [Nietzsche was very blunt in his ‘anti-Darwinism’ remarks];

“In developing this aspect of the will to power, Nietzsche drew heavily on the ideas of an obscure Anglo-German zoologist, William Rolph (‘Biologische Probleme’). … Rolph denies the existence of an instinct for self-preservation – or at the very least rejects the notion that such a drive represents the principle motivation of animal behaviour. Rather, life seeks primarily to expand itself. This elementary proposition is expressed as a law of assimilation, a law operative in both the organic and inorganic world. Growth, Rolph argues, is determined by a process of diffusion, in which endosmosis predominates over exosmosis. All organic functions, from nutrition and reproduction right up to evolution, can be explained by, and reduced to, this fundamental activity; they are not, as most contemporary biologists assumed, a manifestation of the instinct of self-preservation.” – Gregory Moore, ‘Nietzsche, Biology and Metaphor’.

This type of evolution which is outside-inward orchestrating influence in conjugate relation with inside-outward asserting action is ‘spatial-relational’ and is not dependent on a progressive construction over time based on independently-existing things-in-themselves. 

In other words, there is no dependency on ‘past’ and ‘future’ nor on historical time-lineages. 

That is, ‘complexification’ of ‘things-in-themselves’ by way of ‘construction’ ‘take time’.  There is the sense of the Aristotelian acorn to oak-tree development where the blueprint for the development resides in the interior of the ‘seed’ and the development unfolds by way of construction over time.  In this case, there is a ‘past’ and a ‘future’ and a ‘history’ [developmental history], all because of the notion of the ‘blueprint’ containing the ‘identity’ of the final product’ that is to be achieved by construction in time.  This is the all-yang-no-yin view of evolution.

But in the Lamarckian view, there is no blueprint [or rather, the ‘blueprint’ is the result rather than the cause of the development, the record rather than the instruction].  If one examines ten Oasis-communities, they may all appear similar, as if they were all constructed from a common blueprint or generic type-case.  The opening of possibilities immanent in the emergence of the Oasis [as a fracture in the earth opened up flow from a subsurface aquifer] orchestrated the settlement of nomads, and the relational dynamics complexified in the unfolding Oasis community, the emerging niche-needs [openings like passageways in the crowd dynamic and/or freeway flow dynamic] orchestrated and shaped the assertive actions of new participants which further complexified the relational spatial dynamics, opening up further niche needs which orchestrated the influx and shaped the assertive actions of new participants. 

This corresponds to the new view of the biological cell [informed by stem-cell research and the new science of epigenesis (yin/yang genesis)] in terms of a receptor-effector couplet (where outside-inward orchestrating signals from the environment and inside-outward asserting effector actions are in conjugate relation).  DNA is not the ‘blueprint’ for the cell but the record of the structure of the development. 

The replication of Oasis-communities is not because they are coming from a common blueprint, but because outside-inward orchestrating deficiencies/openings have a shape to them that invites inside-outward asserting into those openings in a common way [‘le microbe n’est rien, le terrain est tout’ etc.].  The honey bee does not have a blueprint for the hexagonal cell and neither does the heated fluid which forms hexagonal bénard cells.  The form of these cells derives from inside-outward asserting in conjugate relation with outside-inward accommodating.   As heated liquid expands along a heated lower interface, it expands and spreads outward laterally and then heads upwards as it head-butts with adjacent laterally opposing flow.  As the fluid rises it cools and flows back into the interior of the cell and descends, in one continuous convecting cycle.  There are no cell blueprints and none are needed because the cell is not an all-yang-no-yin cell but rather a yin/yang cell.

To conclude this Darwinian evolution segment, biologists [and mainstream science in general] have been operating in an all-yang-no-yin ‘construction-over-time’ mental modeling paradigm.  This paradigm understand the world as having a ‘past’; i.e. it understands the world as a ‘thing-in-itself’ that is ‘changing over time’ which implies that ‘we have been added to it as a piece of new construction’ rather than as a relational feature in a transforming-in-the-now relational space.   Attempts to understand biological complexity within a blueprint-based ‘construction-over-time’ paradigm has led to paradoxes such as ‘intelligent design’ and ‘irreducible complexity’ wherein the mutual interdependencies of the parts are what gives the organism its essential viability, but there seems to be no way in Darwinian evolution for such interdependencies to have evolved ‘all at once’ as would be necessary to provide the essential viability.  This problem arises purely because all-yang-no-yin dynamics [what things-in-themselves do in time] are what mainstream science assumes is always the case.    However, yin/yang dynamics as in a continually transforming relational spatial Plenum can explain such things but ‘yin/yang’ dynamics are not allowed in mainstream science; in fact, ‘demonized’ continues to be a fitting descriptor.

I would like to re-emphasize that there is nothing in physics or in our sensory experience that requires us to postulate ‘a past’ or a ‘future’ or a time-line history of anything.  I am saying that these concepts come to us from our European mind conditioned by noun-and-verb European language and grammar, and from our religious belief traditions which are couched in terms of men and other species as ‘independently-existing things-in-themselves’ with all-yang-no-yin behaviours, rather than as relational forms in a continually transforming-in-the-now relational space [yin/yang relational forms like storm-cells in the atmosphere].

“all these things are no more antecedent to mechanics than the French language is logically antecedent to the verities one expresses in French.” – Henri Poincare


 * * *

Yin/Yang and the Fundamental Dilemma of Causality

Causality is another concept that supports the mental modeling of dynamics by way of ‘constructions’ along the axis of time from the past into the future.   Nietzsche has pointed to the errors built into the notion of ‘causality’.

 “Our judgement has us conclude that every change must have an author”;–but this conclusion is already mythology: it separates that which effects from the effecting. If I say “lightning flashes,” I have posited the flash once as an activity and a second time as a subject, and thus added to the event a being that is not one with the event but is rather fixed, “is” and does not “become.”–To regard an event as an “effecting,” and this as being, that is the double error, or interpretation, of which we are guilty.” – Nietzsche, ‘Will to Power’, 531

“[Descartes’ ‘I think therefore I am’ reflects] … our grammatical custom that adds a doer to every deed. In short, this is not merely the substantiation of a fact but a logical-metaphysical postulate” … “That which gives the extraordinary firmness to our belief in causality is not the great habit of seeing one occurrence following another but our inability to interpret events otherwise than as events caused by intentions. It is belief in the living and thinking as the only effective force–in will, in intention–it is belief that every event is a deed, that every deed presupposes a doer, it is belief in the “subject.” Is this belief in the concept of subject and attribute not a great stupidity?” – Nietzsche, ‘Will to Power’ 484

The above comments by Nietzsche argue against the legitimacy of reducing a nonlocal relational activity continuum to a locally jumpstarting causal action.  He is pointing to language and grammar as the source of this reduction to cause-and-effect, a concept that depends upon language and grammar. 

Our European mind seems to constantly reduce yin/yang dynamics to one-sided terms of all-yang-no-yin dynamics.

You may be familiar with the story that Louis Pasteur, the famed author of ‘germ theory’, on his deathbed, acknowledged that Antoine Béchamp had been correct in claiming that ‘le microbe n’est rien, le terrain est tout’ (the microbe is nothing, the terrain is everything).

Here again, we see ‘disease’ as being presented in allopathic terms which ignore the condition of the ‘terrain’ and the potential role of the terrain in amplifying the assertive proliferation of so-called ‘pathogens’.  Yet if one is deficient in certain vitamins such as vitamin C, this can orchestrate the proliferation of certain bacteria.  Or, if one is deficient in certain friendly bacteria in the digestive tract due to having taken a general course of anti-biotics, perhaps as a precautionary measure for minor surgery, the normally innocuous bacterium ‘clostridium difficile’ can proliferate to the point of killing the person by way of acute colonitis.   The near 100% cure for clostridium difficile is to administer ‘fecal transplant’ to restore natural balance to the bacterial floral assemblage in the gut.  That is, the problem was not the yang attack of c. difficile, it was imbalance in the yin/yang terrain dynamic.

The ‘attack of pathogens’ is an ‘all-yang-no-yin’ dynamic but the attack of pathogens in conjugate relation with deficiencies in ‘le terrain’ is ‘yin/yang’ dynamic [in which case the pejorative sense of ‘attack’ and ‘pathogen’ is subsumed by ‘nature’s overall quest for balance’; e.g. when the dam breaks the water behind it naturally wants to ‘share the wealth’ with the relatively empty space of the peopled valley below, no offense intended as nature’s behaviour does not ‘range’ from ‘good’ to ‘evil’; these being anthropogenic subjectivities.]

The role of ‘time’ in this can be better seen in the familiar notion that ‘the Colorado river carved out the Grand Canyon’.   As it stands, this is an all-yang-no-yin dynamic.  But is it not true that the land first tilted so as orchestrate the flow of water over itself.  And is it not common that the tilted land subsides so as to form a concave basin that concentrates the runoff so that the streams branch together and become powerful rivers in the familiar dendritic collection basin patterns.  So was it not really the outside-inward orchestrating influence of the habitat in conjugate relation with the inside-outward asserting actions of the water runoff, a yin/yang dynamic, that produced the Grand Canyon?

In the former case of all-yang-no-yin dynamics, we would use the ‘cause and effect’ or ‘doer-deed’ construct and say that the river caused erosion of the land and that it removed X tons of soil each year and by measuring the volume of the Grand Canyon, we could calculate the total tonnage of soil removed and estimate the total number of years that it took the Colorado river to dig out the Grand Canyon.    But it is more realistic to relate the pace of change to the combined effects of curvature developing in the basin which outside-inwardly focuses the inside-outward asserting actions of the river.  Now, we no longer have the simple relation of yang, doer-deed causal action over time.  In fact, the standard orthogonal split of space and time no longer works and space and time are interdependent; i.e. there is just ‘spacetime transformation’ or relational spatial transformation.

As it turns out, all-yang-no-yin doer-deed cause-and-effect goes hand-in-hand with split-apart space and time.   The notions of ‘the past’ and ‘the future’ come about when we can neatly split apart space and time so as to see dynamics in the one-sided all-yang-no-yin terms of ‘what things-in-themselves do’ in absolute space along the axis of absolute time.

But in the case of the Colorado river caving out the Grand Canyon, we get the sense that that binary polar opposites of ‘carving’ and ‘accommodating’ as in ‘the river carves’ and ‘the land accommodates’ are NOT REALLY BINARY POLAR OPPOSITES but are instead conjugate aspects of the one dynamic, relational spatial transformation-in-the-continuing-now.

In this worldview there is no ‘time’ and there is no ‘past’ and we are included in a continually transforming-in-the-now relational spatial Plenum;

“Space is not empty. It is full, a plenum as opposed to a vacuum, and is the ground for the existence of everything, including ourselves.” — David Bohm

Do we really need ‘time’?  Do we really need ‘the past’ and ‘the future’?   Why should we try to ‘construct a desired future’?  It is starting to look ‘delusionary’ which is what Nietzsche is suggesting.

 * * *

Probability and Random Chance as a God-Substitute

The decline in belief in God got a big boost from Darwinism which replaced God with ‘random chance’ [‘reproduction with random chance variations’; ‘random chance’ variations such as wings suddenly appearing ‘fully formed’ without a hint in the fossil record up to that point, and surprising well adapted to the particulars of the habitat; i.e. providing habitat-inhabitant synergies, almost as if the evolution, and in this case the emergence of wings, had been outside-inwardly orchestrated by the habitat-dynamics in conjugate relation to the inside-outward asserting inhabitant dynamics.  ‘Random chance’ seems to be ‘pushing it’.

As religious explanations for things subsided and secular talk took its place, attribution for the Oklahoma wheat farmer’s ‘production of wheat’ shifted fully to man, the farmer, and God receded from explanations of the production process.  ‘Random chance’ replaced God, keeping everything in all-yang-no-yin mode with mathematics where previously ‘God’s will’ had kept ‘yin’ at bay.

When the dustbowl conditions arose in Oklahoma, this exposed the ‘emperor’s new clothes’ of the farmers’ claims to have been the producers of wheat in a causal sense. Bad luck was one way to ‘cover’ for this loss of face. The man who had been fully and solely responsible for the superior farm production he consistently achieved, so we say, … ‘has come upon a stretch of ‘bad luck’’. Of course, it is also true that he ploughed up all the land and removed the drought-resistant grasses which formerly held the soil in place when the wind blew, and the reason that he has all his belongings packed onto his vehicle and is heading for California seems to be because “the dynamics of the inhabitants are conditioning the dynamics of the habitat at the same time as the dynamics of the habitat are conditioning the dynamics of the inhabitants” [Mach’s principle]. But this doesn’t work in the all-yang-no-yin worldview of the European mind conditioned by noun-and-verb European language and grammar, so it’s back to the ‘man causes the production’ but his ‘results’ are interfered with by ‘random chance’.

Man’s pride insists on his claiming ‘I did it’, ‘I produced the wheat’, … it is my ingenuity and my mechanical technologies that ‘produced the wheat’.

That’s one way of looking at it, but it seems to be a very incomplete view of ‘causality’ in view of the apparent variations in the accommodating quality of the land [the yin aspect].

To get some leverage on this inquiry, consider a ‘storm-tide’ which is the sum of the astronomical tide and the ‘storm-surge’ [windblown rise in local sea level]. If a storm surge of 15 feet hits the coast together with a high tide of 16 feet, the result Y [31 foot storm tide] will differ from the case where the storm surge of 15 feet hits the coast together with a low tide of 1 foot giving the result Y [16 foot storm surge].   Nature just happens and it doesn’t break things apart into separate causal influences the way analytical science does, therefore it doesn’t have to think in the fragmented-into-causal-agent terms of ‘the storm caused the result Y’ and furthermore, it doesn’t have to struggle with the question of ‘how much should the storm be held responsible for [be thought of as the causal agency of] the huge damage from the 31 foot storm tide, since if the storm had arrived at low tide, the storm-tide would be 16 feet which is equivalent to the normal high tide, thus the ‘same’ storm would have done no flood damage. The people whose homes were flooded are nevertheless going to speak of the ‘great storm of 1894 or whatever as having ‘caused’ the disastrous result Y’. They are using the reduction of yin/yang dynamics to all-yang-no-yin RE-PRESENTATION of the phenomenon.   That is, the coast line, because it was at high tide, was highly accommodating to the influx of the storm-surge waters, far moreso than at low tide.

The farmer who claims that ‘I produced this wheat’ in the good years, is like saying that the storm surge produced the flooding.  But as Mark Anthony says in Julius Caesar, there are tides in the affairs of man that lead on to fortune.  If the farmer was the 15 foot storm surge, he would claim that the power to flood and ravage was his, … even if his surge was lifted over the banks by a 16 foot high tide, rather than being rebuffed in arriving at the shoreline during a 1 foot low tide.

The Pilgrims gave thanks to God for the sunny summer and rains that grew the crops and brought them back from the brink of starvation, but without God in the picture, it is man, the producer of wheat and secular ‘luck’ [random variations] that are the yang determinants of the harvest. Man, therefore, never has to give up his yang pride in the belief that ‘I did it’.   He doesn’t have to mention ‘luck’ in the good years, he can speak of skill and hard work and good technology, … but even these are not enough when the dustbowl comes, so he can use ‘bad luck’ as a cover.  The point is that we can find many ways to avoid acknowledging the ‘yin’ aspect of dynamics which are inevitably, in physical reality, yin/yang in nature.

Causality can be express in the logical proposition terms that ‘X causes Y’. 

There is a problem here that has been formulated as ‘the fundamental dilemma of causality’ by Donald Rubin [Harvard Medical School]

If it happens that agency X is applied to an experimental unit and the result is Y, … how do we know that the result would not have been Y even if we had not applied agent X or had applied another agent P or Q?

To make up for the fact that we cannot, with the same experimental unit under the exact same conditions both apply X and non apply X, we go to a statistical approach in which agent X is applied to a goodly number of experimental units to see if on average, we can say that X causes Y.

As Rubin points out, this approach amounts to the assumption that ‘all experimental units are more or less the same’.

If an experiment were conducted to determine which of two men, X1 and X2 were more competent in making out with women so that dates were arranged for each of them with 50 different women and their ‘scores’ were compared.  If X1 scored 5 and X2 scored 25, could we not conclude that X2  X2 had a more powerful effect on the experimental units than X1?

Such a conclusion would only be valid under the assumption that ‘all women are more or less the same’. 

In other words, ‘causality’ is a concept that only makes sense in purely yang dynamic and there is no such thing in nature.

But nevertheless, after these experiments with X1 and X2, we would say that X1 had a 10 percent chance of ‘scoring’ with any given date and X2 had a 50 percent chance of ‘scoring’ with any given date.  In other words, probability is a concept that only makes sense in a purely yang dynamic.

This carries back to the interpretation of quantum physics wherein the ‘particle view’ has been salvaged thanks to a probability interpretation.  The probability view was not accepted by Schroedinger;

“Let me say at the outset, that in this discourse, I am opposing not a few special statements of quantum physics held today (1950s), I am opposing as it were the whole of it, I am opposing its basic views that have been shaped 25 years ago, when Max Born put forward his probability interpretation, which was accepted by almost everybody.” (Schrödinger E, ‘The Interpretation of Quantum Physics’). … “I don’t like it, and I’m sorry I ever had anything to do with it.” (Erwin Schroedinger speaking about the probability-based interpretation of Quantum Physics which was legitimized by majority vote).
“What we observe as material bodies and forces are nothing but shapes and variations in the structure of space. Particles are just schaumkommen (appearances).”
“The world is given to me only once, not one existing and one perceived. 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. …”— Schroedinger

In this note, I am trying to show that the all-yang-no-yin view of the European mind conditioned by noun-and-verb European language-and-grammar associates with ‘time’ as in ‘the past’ and ‘the future’ and the ‘historical dynamics’ of things-in-themselves.

If we run experiments with X1 and X2 where their agency is applied to a great number of experimental units, in this case work situations, can we establish their relative causal agency?   What if X1 is a white man and X2 is a black man?  Causal agency is based on the assumption that all experimental units are more or less the same; i.e. that dynamics are all-yin-no-yang which equates to space and time being split apart from one another.   Causality is meaningless where dynamics are yin/yang [the general case in nature], and so is ‘time’, ‘the past’, ‘the future’, and ‘history’.  What is meaningFULL is the continually transforming-in-the-now relational spatial Plenum.

I suspect that you can see the point that ‘God’s will’ used to be used to explain why ‘things went wrong’ and that as society ‘secularized’ and ‘got more scientific’, we have shifted from ‘God’s will’ as the explanation to ‘the probabilities’ or ‘random chance’, even to the point of explaining the sudden emergence of fully formed wings as random chance variations in the reproductive process.  Some will say that ‘God does not play at dice’, implying that there must be some deeper source of meaning to change than ‘random chance variation’.

My point is that dynamics are never REALLY all-yang-no-yin even though all we get to see visually is the yang aspect of dynamics which is ‘local’, ‘visible’ and ‘material’ while the ‘yin’ aspect is purely relational and thus ‘non-local’, ‘non-visible’ and ‘non-material’, as with the outside-inward orchestrating influence of the relational spatial flow of the atmosphere on the inside-outward asserting actions of the relational feature [storm-cell].  This is the inevitable conclusion that follows an understanding that space is relational, as is the increasingly popular interpretation of quantum field dynamics [see footnote [1]]. 

Where we have to ‘bite the bullet’ is with the view of dynamics in terms of ‘what things-in-themselves do’.   In a relational spatial Plenum, there are no ‘independently-existing things-in-themselves’ yet our European mind conditioned by noun-and-verb European language-and-grammar insists on having us see the world dynamic in the all-yang-no-yin terms of ‘what things-in-themselves do’.

“As soon as one sees that separate things are fictitious, it becomes obvious that nonexistent things cannot “perform” actions. The difficulty is that most languages are arranged so that actions (verbs) have to be set in motion by things (nouns), and we forget that rules of grammar are not necessarily rules, or patterns, of nature. This, which is nothing more than a convention of grammar, is also responsible for (or, better, “goes with”) absurd puzzles as to how spirit governs matter, or mind moves body. How can a noun, which is by definition not action, lead to action?” —Alan Watts, ‘Book on the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are’

“The fact of the matter is that the ‘real world’ is to a large extent unconsciously  built up on the language habits of the group . . . We see and hear and otherwise experience very largely as we do because the language habits of our community predispose certain choices of interpretation.”  – Edward Sapir

 “Finally, our Euclidean geometry is itself only a sort of convention of language; mechanical facts might be enunciated with reference to a non-Euclidean space which would be a guide less convenient than, but just as legitimate as, our ordinary space ; the enunciation would thus become much more complicated, but it would remain possible. Thus absolute space, absolute time, geometry itself, are not conditions which impose themselves on mechanics ; all these things are no more antecedent to mechanics than the French language is logically antecedent to the verities one expresses in French.” – Henri Poincare, Science and Hypothesis

There is no such thing as ‘absolute space’ and ‘absolute time’, therefore there is no such thing as ‘the thing-in-itself’, ‘the past’, ‘the future’, ‘the history of ‘the thing-in-itself’’.  We don’t need language to experience life but we have it and we use it and it does shape our ‘reality’.  

Summary:  There is Neither Past Nor Future: The Tao is Now

This essay would not be ‘out of place’ in an indigenous aboriginal community sharing of ideas.   But it IS ‘out of place’ in our general European mind dominated global community.

We are very heavily invested into fear of the future and remorse for the past.  Both of these concepts, the past, and the future, are nonsense.  There is only the continually transforming-in-the-now relational spatial Plenum.

I have tried to show what is going on here and how we get to this sense of ‘past’ and ‘future’ from a number of different angles, including early myth that influenced the European mind and its addiction to noun-and-verb European language-and-grammar. 

The basic problem is that while nature’s dynamics are yin/yang as in the examples of the storm-cell in the relational space of the atmosphere and as in the transformative dynamics of the Colorado river and the Grand Canyon, and other examples, our European mind conditioned by noun-and-verb European language-and-grammar REDUCES DYNAMICS TO THE YANG POLE.

What this does is to RE-cast all dynamics in all-yang-no-yin terms.  The tornado that looks like the djinn or genie [djinni] is a spirit that was demonized by the pre European mind.   The Qur’an mentions the mysterious, powerful djinn being ‘born of smokeless fire’ and being capable of either good or evil.  The ‘yin’ in yin/yang is the force that breathes life into the tornado.  In modern physics, relations are more important than the things bound into the relations (see footnote [1] below), however, our European mind conditioned by noun-and-verb European language-and-grammar habitually RE-CASTS dynamics in the all-yang-no-yin terms of ‘independently-existing things with their own internal process driven and directed behaviour’.  This agrees with Christian religious convention and the pre-Christian demonization of ‘yin’ or ‘djinn’.

The ‘yin’ is the outside-inward orchestrating influence that shapes our inside-outward asserting actions.  I have discussed it in a number of contexts including navigating passage in the transforming relational spatial flow of a crowd or freeway traffic flow.   It is the passageways that open up for us and invite us to assert into them.  If we examine a crowd dynamic, we could describe it in the all-yang-no-yin terms of assertive actions of each person.  But that would be too simple and the more comprehensive view of the same dynamics is in terms of the continually transforming web of spatial relations which gives rise to opening and closing passageways that orchestrate and shape our individual and collective movements.  How do we get two different views here, (a) the included experient view, and (b) the excluded observer view.   The answer is that the excluded observer imposes an implicit reference frame on the individual to establish his individual trajectory.    We do it when we look at an individual and we do it when we plant a GPS on his person and show ‘his trajectory’ on a map or screen.  We can plot his trajectory relative to a reference frame but what was actually shaping his movements was the transforming web of spatial relations he was situationally included in.

Therefore, while we can understand the same dynamics in two ways; i.e. (a) in the yin/yang sense where we acknowledge that the transforming web of spatial-relations we are included in outside-inwardly orchestrates and shapes our inside-outward asserting movements, and (b) in the all-yang-no-yin sense where each person is the author of a yang assertive trajectory which we can present relative to a common fixed spatial reference frame and reference time-clock [i.e. an absolute space and absolute time reference frame which allows us to specify the trajectory in x,y,z,t coordinates].

A key point is to be found right here.  It is some times referred to as ‘man’s fall from grace’.   What if we made a ‘Declaration of Independence’ just like the United States did?   … and claimed the right to independently pursuing our own happiness, as in the U.N. Charter of Human Rights?  This is like a ‘reduction to the yang pole’ on the part of the sovereign state and on the part of the individual, and the sovereign state grants the same right to the corporation.

If we no longer see ourselves as woven in to a transforming web of spatial relations that outside-inwardly orchestrate and shape our inside-outward asserting behaviours; i.e. if we take the yin out of yin/yang, what is the directive source of our now all-yang-no-yin behaviour.

Answer: ‘Knowledge and Intellection’.   This fits the mainstream science model of the human organism as an all-yang-no-yin ‘machine made of meat’ with internal process driven and [knowledge, intellection and purpose] directed behaviour.

This is ‘man’s fall from grace’:

In Genesis 2:9 we are told of two trees in Paradise, the tree of life, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil. These fit well into the themes of Thomas; good and evil are two opposites, and life is a single thing, a unity. By eating of the tree of two things, Good and Evil, Adam and Eve are eventually cast out of Paradise.”

As we navigate in the relational spatial crowd dynamic, we get a hummer to reduce our vulnerability so that we can increasingly assert in pure yang fashion as an ‘independent thing-in-itself’ directed from out of its own knowledge, intellect and purpose.

This shift to the yang pole not only applies to the dynamics of individuals but also to sovereign states and organizations of all types.  They can ‘Declare Independence’ and insist on their ‘Individual Rights’ and assert themselves from out of their own knowledge, intellection and purpose. 

In this mode, they no longer have the ‘humility’ of the indigenous aboriginal who sees himself as a strand-in-the-relational-spatial-web-of-life, who believes it is important to attune to the yin orchestrating influences coming from the relational space he is included in and to let them shape his asserting movements.

“The Old Ones say that humility is the foundation of everything.  Nothing can exist without it.  Humility is the ability to see yourself as an essential part of something larger.  It is the act of living without grandiosity.  Humility, in the Ojibway world, means ‘like the earth.’   The planet is the epitome of a humble being, with everything allowed the same opportunity to grow, to become.  Without the spirit of humility there can be no unity, only discord.  Humility lets us work together to achieve equality.  Humility teaches that there are no greater or lesser beings or things.  There is only the whole.  There is only the great, grand clamour of our voices, our spirits, raised together in song.” —Richard Wagamese, ‘One Story, One Song’

Poetic descriptions of European man often show up a difference in outlook;

     If man alone engross not Heav’n’s high care,  Alone made perfect here, immortal there:  Snatch from his hand the balance and the rod,  Rejudge his justice, be the God of God.     In pride, in reas’ning pride, our error lies;  All quit their sphere, and rush into the skies.  Pride still is aiming at the blest abodes,  Men would be angels, angels would be gods.  Aspiring to be gods, if angels fell,  Aspiring to be angels, men rebel:  And who but wishes to invert the laws  Of order, sins against th’ Eternal Cause.       Ask for what end the heav’nly bodies shine, Earth for whose use? Pride answers, ” ‘Tis for mine: For me kind Nature wakes her genial pow’r, Suckles each herb, and spreads out ev’ry flow’r; Annual for me, the grape, the rose renew,  The juice nectareous, and the balmy dew; For me, the mine a thousand treasures brings; For me, health gushes from a thousand springs; Seas roll to waft me, suns to light me rise; My foot-stool earth, my canopy the skies.”  — Alexander Pope, Essay on Man: Epistle I

The ‘fall from grace’ equates to the demonizing of yin/djinn and the corresponding ‘reduction to the yang pole’.  This is otherwise known as ‘dualism’ where we split apart yin/yang conjugates into ‘binary polar opposites’; …  space and time, good and evil, construction and destruction, inside and outside, birth and death, growth and decline.


Where does the animating power of a tornado/gyre come from?  It comes from the yin/yang coniunctio of many-to-one, outside-inward flowing sink and one-to-many inside-outward flowing source.   These are conjugate aspects of the dynamic of transformation of a relational spatial plenum.

How do we reduce this to the yang pole?  We do it with our European mind conditioned by noun-and-verb European language-and-grammar.

What happens when we split apart ‘space’ and ‘time’?  What happens when we split apart the Grand Canyon and the Colorado River, … we get a passive habitat that is being worked over by a yang agent.  Year after year, the ‘independent yang agent’ must WORK on his own.  It takes a long time to carve out a canyon.  But it is his full and sole purpose, and when he looks back and remembers the past and his early achievements and how small his canyon was, and when he thinks of the glorious future and contemplates how the huge canyon-to-be will be fully and solely HIS future achievement, his chests swells with pride.  He is like the Oklahoma wheat farmer who will expand his farm over time to reach its huge expanse in time for the arrival of the dustbowl.  The ‘other’ dimension that contributes to the unfolding reality, the ‘outside-inward influence’ bound into the outside-inward orchestrating — inside-outward asserting coniunctio is out of sight when we are coming yang-style from our inside-outward asserting knowledge, intellection and purpose; i.e. from our reas’ning pride where a hummer works far better than a motorcycle.

We have institutionalized ‘the past’ and ‘the future’ and our ‘proud history’ of yang-advancement/development.  It can’t be true that there is something larger than ourselves; “My foot-stool earth, my canopy the skies”..  We have declared our independence.  The buck starts and stops here.  We have, so goes our ‘reas’ning’, a God-given right to pursue our happiness in the manner of all independent people who live in an absolute space and absolute time operating theatre; 

“… western political thinking itself is grounded in theological concepts of “Christian nationalism.” The notion of “absolute, unlimited power held permanently in a single person or source, inalienable, indivisible, and original” is a definition of the Judeo-Christian-Islamic God. This “God died around the time of Machiavelli…. Sovereignty was … His earthly replacement.” R. B. J. Walker and Saul H. Mendlovitz, “Interrogating State Sovereignty.”

But, what if Mach’s principle does apply, like the residents of Akwesasne are suggesting; “The dynamics of the inhabitants are conditioning the dynamics of the habitat at the same time as the dynamics of the habitat are conditioning the dynamics of the inhabitants?”

By understanding the world in yang terms where the buck starts and stops with our independently-existing selves, we must then find answers in terms of our reas’ning selves, as we understand ourselves through science, as independently-existing things-in-ourselves with our own internal process driven and [knowledge, intellection and purpose] directed behaviour, who act and interact with others like us in an absolute space and absolute time reference frame/operating theatre.

Of course, if Mach’s yin/yang principle is correct, then views such as those of Frédéric Neyrat may be on target;

“In extending his living space in a manner that destroys the space of others, he destroys his own space. Not initially his inside space, his ‘self’, but his outside space, this real outside-of-self which nourishes his ‘inside-of-self’. The protection of this outside space now becomes the condition without which he is unable to pursue the growth of his own powers of being.” — Frédéric Neyrat, ‘Biopolitics of Catastrophe’

But the European mind conditioned by noun-and-verb European language-and-grammar and bolstered by ‘reas’ning pride’ seems doggedly determined to keep knowledge-intellection and purpose [the right of the independent state and/or individual to pursue happiness according to his/its own free and independent will] in precedence over any relational spatial yin influence as associates with the unbounded view of the soccer ball earth when we suspend imagining that the independence of the soccer ball segments-aka-sovereign states having precedence over the relational spatial planetary dynamics.  Of course the independence of the ‘soccer ball segments’ is based on the independence of owned tracts of property seen as “My foot-stool earth, my canopy the skies”.

Lastly, I really do believe that our physical, sensory experience is correctly informing us that the world we live in is a continually transforming-in-the-now relational spatial Plenum and that there is ‘no past’ and ‘no future’ and no heroic histories of advancement/achievement of states or individuals.  In which case ‘humility’ of the Ojibway type is called for, as is balance sustaining attunement to the outside-inward orchestrating yin influence.   I believe Emerson ‘got it right’; i.e. we are [yin/yang] ‘agents of transformation’ rather than simple [all-yang-no-yin] causal agents;

“Whilst a necessity so great caused the man to exist, his health and erectness consist in the fidelity with which he transmits influences from the vast and universal to the point on which his genius can act. The ends are momentary: they are vents for the current of inward life which increases as it is spent. A man’s wisdom is to know that all ends are momentary, that the best end must be superseded by a better. But there is a mischievous tendency in him to transfer his thought from the life to the ends, to quit his agency and rest in his acts: the tools run away with the workman, the human with the divine.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson, ‘The Method of Nature’

 * * * * * * * * * * *


 [1] Excerpt from ‘What is Real’ by Meinard Kuhlmann, Scientific American, August 2013


What is Real? …. “Structures to the Rescue
A growing number of people think that what really matters are not things but the relations in which those things stand. Such a view breaks with traditional atomist or pointillist conceptions of the material world in a more radical way than even the severest modifications of particle and field ontologies do.
Initially this position, known as structural realism, came in a fairly moderate version known as epistemic structural realism, came in a fairly moderate version known as epistemic structural realism. It runs as follows: We may never know the real nature of things but only how they are related to one another. Take the example of mass. Do you ever see mass itself?  No. You see only what it means for other entities or concretely, how on massive body is related to another massive body through the local gravitational field. The structure of the world, reflecting how things are inter-related, is the most enduring part of physics theories. New theories may overturn our conception of the basic building blocks of the world, but they tend to preserve the structures. That is how scientists can make progress.
Now the following question arises. What is the reason that we can know only the relations among things and not the things themselves? The straightforward answer is that relations are all there is. This lead makes structural realism a more radical proposition, called ontic structural realism.
The myriad symmetries of modern physics lend support to ontic structural realism. In quantum mechanics as well as in Einstein’s theory of gravitation, certain changes in the configuration of the world — known as symmetry transformations — have no empirical consequences. These transformations exchange the individual things that make up the world but leave their relations the same. By analogy, consider a mirror-symmetric face. A mirror swaps the left eye for the right eye, the left nostril for the right, and so on. Those relations are what truly define a face, whereas labels such as ‘left’ and ‘right’ depend on your vantage point. The things we have been calling ‘particles’ and ‘fields’ possess more abstract symmetries but the idea is the same.
By the principle of Occam’s razor, physicists and philosophers prefer ideas that can explain the same phenomena with the fewest assumptions. In this case you can construct a perfectly valid theory by positing the existence of certain relations without additionally assuming individual things. So proponents of ontic structural realism say we might as well dispense with things and assume that the world is made of [relational-spatial] structures, or nets of relations.
In everyday life we encounter many situations where only relations count and where it would be distracting to describe the things that are related.” — Meinard Kuhlmann, ‘What is Real’, Scientific American, August 2013