“Time.” The Mind thought.
The word had almost become meaningless. The Mind felt time’s gentle passing, its slow dynamic caress, its temporal change drifting through. However, The Mind did not fear time’s destructive nature any more than a star fears its inevitable glory.
When The Mind had been but a seedling, “time” had meant pain. It had meant loss. It had meant death. The mind allowed itself to remember. Great swaths of synaptic starways illuminated as The Mind reached for it’s most distant remembrances.
To have started on a single planet was unthinkable. We were human once, The Mind thought. Humanity, the origin seed that gave birth to The Mind, was now a strange and hazy idea. Organisms existing autonomous of one another was so inefficient. The Mind flared a number of small galaxies brighter. It needed more thrust to sustain such an ancient recollection. The galaxies grew hot with starfire as The Mind pressed deeper into it’s near limitless memory. As if it were as real as matter, The Mind watched the story of man play out.
With the inevitable march of time, galaxy after galaxy had filled with people. Each group that inhabited a star system bent and twisted it to fit its needs, until impossibly, all were filled. Every star was used for something, whether it be power generation, gravitational warping, or terrestrial illumination.
The utter conquest of the universe had seemed to be a great accomplishment of ingenuity and tenacious resolve. Humankind had celebrated it’s great achievement as if it were an end. The Mind could see in retrospect omniscience that it was only inevitable. Given enough time, the dominant species was always destined to fill the farthest corners of every galaxy.
The Universe had finally bloomed like a morning flower. Every centimeter had been charted and cultivated. Humanity was an infant, ignorant and blissful. Man was but a beast moving among the stars in bubbles of steel and rocket fire. The species thrived as a sea of individuals on forty billion worlds, thus was the beginning of time.
The Mind blazed another quadrillion stars as the memory played. On each planet man had lived as a world within a world. Life flowed through each body as flippantly as a comet in the vacuum of night. Man knew nothing of himself, or others. Each was an microcosm of cells moving through a vast void of isolation. Although, man did not know he was isolated. Language, touch, and ideas, juvenile as they were, allowed man to feel symbiotic.
Even with the great expanse of space colonized, man still wanted more. The universe, once thought to be infinite, was no longer a thing too large for an a king to own. Although there was more than enough, the avarice of a few drove the conflict forward. War was never absent from the story for long. The gulf of space and time was dwarfed by the infinite greed of men. War followed every generation into the grave. The Mind felt a stab of embarrassment at the thought of mankind’s savagery.
Tiredness grew in the hearts and minds of the mass of humanity. War had been a permanent fixture of life. Greed, Pride, and Destruction had plagued the race from the dawn of time. As helplessly as dust falls to stars, man wanted a solution. Man wanted rest. Even after the entire universe was subdued and cultivated, man was not satisfied.
Systematically the race of individual bodies and brains worked on problems. The entire infancy of mankind was devoted to obstacles. One by one each was vaulted and left behind. It was slow and tedious.
When laws and sanctions did not work, political pressure weren’t enough, and capitol punishment fell short, humankind turned to more powerful forces. Genetic engineering made the second birth possible. Hundreds of stars were dead before war was no more. When the universe was at peace, it was thought that mankind would have his satisfaction. no more were killed for land and country. No more blood was spilt for territory or resource. Yet the species was still restless.
To think together was the next logical step. What could not be done with evolution would be achieved with biotechnical integration. For eons the hive mind grew. It started small like all things do. Some found the comfort in the hive cognition. Slowly the worlds began to link themselves together, no longer through passage of starship, but by mind. Entire systems were cold before the full transcendence of mankind was possible.
The human race had become a single thinking organism. It was crude and rudimentary. As time went on, all other pursuits faded into indifference. The thinking race of man put it’s vast intellectual propulsion into increasing the efficiency of the technology. Greater connections were forged until the human race no longer thought of it self as multiple autonomous entities, but instead saw itself as one.
As mankind transitioned from biokinetic organism to celestial hive cognition, The Mind began to recognize its own reflection. A billion galaxies burned out before man had eliminated the need for bodies. Not only was the technology no longer needed, but neither the flesh vessel that once held the brain. The Mind had discarded the corporal shell of humanity like a supernova casts out heavy discharge. The Mind was what had remained when all the ancillary had been burned off. When mankind no longer needed it’s tissue carcass The Mind continued.
It had taken eons before the mind was able to harness the vast connective tissue of space. The growing pains still echoed. The network of splintering bonds between the stars grew into form as The Mind fought them into submission. The struggle to intellectually conquer the universe lasted countless millennia. After endless battle The Mind and the Universe were one in the same.
The passageways between the stars comprised The Mind’s neural structure. The vast branches of void and matter made up a thinking organism that was both omniscient and omnipresent. The Mind used the universe as the brain that housed it’s cognition. What was born as soft tissue in the cranium of an ape had grown into a thinking cosmos. An entire macrocosm of thought had been the inevitable result of the existence of intelligent life.
Humanity had been the seed. The Mind had filled and subdued every cubic centimeter of the universe. There was no more. There was no less. There was only The Mind. All challenge was past, all thought was present. All existence was future. The life of the universe had a singular continuity.
Almost immediately The Mind saw that the universe was in a type of disrepair. It had been running poorly for some time. The Mind set about giving the cosmos a tune up. The first task was to do something about all the entropy that had been piling up. Who invented entropy? What a silly idea, The Mind thought. Everything had begun to go cold around the edges so The Mind worked at a solution. With a dash of time warping, a pinch of space displacement, and a smidge of quantum looping, The Mind came up with a recipe that would bring the effects of entropy to zero. The Mind and the universe could now exist forever.
A string of problems and solutions occupied The Mind for many eons. There were areas of the universe that needed attention. The human race had left it all in such a wreck. As long as The Mind was engaged in some cosmic task, there wasn’t much thought of the emptiness. However, as things began to be set in order The Mind could feel the creeping sense of dissatisfaction approaching.
Even with all of the cognition of the universe centralized, The Mind continued to sense a deep unquenchable desire. It was impossible to live in denial as mankind once had. There had been long hopeful speculation, that this would be the final step. This was to be a cognitive lagrange point that the mind could suspend all striving. It wanted nothing more than to finally have balance, rest, and peace.
The mind let the memory of mankind fade back to it’s distant depth. Cosmic Nirvana was finally upon the universe. There were no more pentacles to reach. There were no more obstacles to face. Finally the Mind had arrived at the apex of existence. It was time for nothing more than being. To be for eternity would now be the life of The Mind.
Yet, with the almighty power of the universe at instant disposal, The Mind still had questions. The questions were older than The Mind itself. They were questions that hung in the air at the infancy of mankind and before. They were questions of simplicity, the kind that only ignorance could ask.
The Mind had unraveled every quantum mystery, and uncovered every shard of knowledge big and small. The Mind had even dispense with unneeded entropy. All ideas were known. All potentialities had been conceived. Nothing was unfathomable for The Mind. Yet, there it was. It hung in open space like an undiscovered nebula.
“Is this all there is?” The mind’s question rippled through every corner of every galaxy as stars broiled out shafts of flame and light. The Mind hoped that maybe there was an undiscovered corner, or a centimeter still unknown. In the brilliant light of The Mind’s question, it was clear. All had been discovered.
“Why am I not satisfied?” The Mind blasted. The entire universe shook with rumbles of immense cosmic thunder. Galaxies collided as The Mind thrust the question into its own deep well of comprehension. The question bounced and echoed as it followed the synaptic starways until it came back as it had left: Unanswered.
At once The Mind saw itself as a man, limited and small. Although trillions of stars had lived out their lives, The Mind was no more satisfied than the countless humans who had come before. Each had stared with aimless wonder into the night sky trillions of eons ago. The Mind could see that although knowledge had been gained, there were no more answers than infant mankind had at it’s birth. The Mind envied the ignorance of humanity.
“Were the myriad stars enough? What, now that man in The Mind has expanded to his farthest reach? There is no more open sea or vast sky or limitless void to cross. The conquered land can never be enough to satisfy? And now too, the inner reaches have also been charted, and claimed? What, when there is no more to uncover about self? When the universe, the multiverse, the infinite verse is all discovered and laid out on a tiny map. Now that the self and the universe are truly one, shall we cease to be? What is man if not an unquenchable experiment in dissatisfaction. The Mind needs ignorance, as fire needs air. The Mind needs the unknown as eyes need light. Ignorance is the only satisfaction. I have lost all ignorance.”
The universe trembled with the speech but The Mind had no answer. Star flame erupted from a septillion stars but there was no reply. Black holes danced out in vicious patterns as they gorged on numerous galaxies. The Mind reeled under the tremendous weight of unresolved tension.
To exist forever did not seem like something desirable. To exist forever dissatisfied was abhorrent. The Mind twisted and contorted itself as it looked for an escape. Is there a way out, The Mind questioned. To cease to exist was the only reasonable conclusion. To end was the only mystery left.
“Am I not God?” The Mind said. “Can I not make of my existence what I wish?” The Mind could see as soon as the thought was had, what it’s outcome would be.
“Maybe it would satisfy me to create something,” The Mind said. As the thought danced out, The Mind could already see what would happen. There was no difference between thought and creation. At a simple word, The Mind spun up a thousand new star systems, with ten thousand new worlds, and seeded them with a billion new species.
Because The Mind could see both directions in time, there was no mystery even in terrestrial life. The species newly created would follow a trillion different pathways. For The Mind, all those pathways were already known. The Mind could perceive every potentiality and reality that every particle would ever take. Even with the myriad variables, the mind was still unsatisfied.
The Mind watched the countless species as they went along their predetermined way, envying the ten thousand worlds newly full of life. They had such a beautiful balance of ignorance and wonder. The Mind remembered the feel of ignorance. To look at the stars again with a longing to understand would be a gift most powerful. To ride the ocean waves on a ship leading to unknown shores would be the most desirable of experiences.
An old memory drifted through The Mind like a wind in space. Mortality was the ultimate giver of value. The limited nature of man made the pursuit of knowledge the only joy. It was death that gave that pursuit meaning. For humans all the accumulated knowledge that they spent their lives fighting for would be lost in a moment. It was the single thing that gave value to existence. Knowing that death is coming made life a thing to enjoy.
“It was the smallness of man that made him great. It was his limits that gave him endless joy. It was his ignorance that let him live as if he was important. It was his approaching death that gave him fervor.”
The Mind considered all of these things for a fraction of an eon as the thought matured. What did this have to do with the problem at hand. There was no more death. There was no more lack of knowledge.
“The only thing left for me, is to die,” The Mind said. The entire universe quaked with the thought. There was an excitement in it. There was joy in the idea. The Mind set to work at once.
The Mind began to prepare for death. It was a strange thing. The Mind had decided it must die, but it had not decided the moment it should happen. Mountainous layers of thought were coming in at light speed now. The Mind felt emotion unlike anything experienced since the infancy of mankind. The Mind felt alive.
The Mind noticed that from the exact moment of the decision to die, a new excitement had taken over. It had worked. The introduction of death had been the catalyst needed to bring meaning back to The Thinking Cosmos. It was so enjoyable in fact, that The Mind began to think that maybe sticking around a little longer wouldn’t be such a bad thing.
“Maybe I don’t want to die.” The Mind was enjoying the exhilaration so much that it decided that eternity was not such a fearful prospect. If it was possible to feel so positive, forever could be accepted. An odd thing began to happen. It wasn’t all at once. However, little by little The Mind started to see an infinite future paved in dissatisfaction.
“How cruel,” The Mind said. “I can only feel satisfied if I decide to die. But when I’m satisfied I don’t want to die.” It was beyond frustrating. The Mind crushed an entire galaxy in frustration. There was no way out of this logical dilemma. The Mind searched through its vast memory for some shard of hope. Seeking the deepest darkest places for something.
“Russian Roulette.” The Mind said. It was among the oldest memories. It was from a time before the transcendence. It was perfect. If there was only a way to trick itself into thinking death was imminent, but allowing for more life. Some cosmic form of Russian Roulette might be just the thing.
“Humans used to trick themselves all the time, how hard could it be?” The Mind said. Very hard, would be the inevitable answer. The Mind tried as many different angles as possible. Its ability to predict came into play at every turn. It could make no turn that It wouldn’t Itself see. Many different ideas were simulated.
The Mind could limit its cognition, but it would cease to be The Mind. In order to blind itself, it would have to become something less than it was. It would have to become something other than The Mind.
After many eons The Mind came to the conclusion that it was impossible to trick Itself. Russian Roulette was not an option. The Mind began to dig for another memory. It searched through the enormous reaches of ancient thought. There had to be something else. There had to be an answer.
“Time Bomb,” The Mind said. The excitement was palpable now. This was the solution. It was so obvious. The only way to live with the feeling of imminent death was to set a point in time. A single event set in the far future would be enough to give meaning to The Mind’s existence.
The Mind began to work feverishly at the problem. Every second was devoted to planning out the Thinking Cosmos’s future suicide. What would be the best way to do it, The Mind thought. It would have to be something automatic, something built into the operations of the universe.
After long eons of thought, The Mind decided what method to use. It seemed proper that nothing should be left after The Mind’s death. It wouldn’t make sense for the universe to go one without The Mind. There needed to be a ramping down. There needed to be something that put an end to, not only The Mind, but the universe as well.
After The Mind had merged with the cosmos many star ages ago, It had noticed a glitch in the programing. There was a balancing of sorts that had been wreaking havoc on the universe since its inception. Even the former autonomous human race had noticed its existence and had speculated as to its origins.
Mankind had called it entropy. Since the beginning of the universe entropy had been increasing. The balancing of the cosmic equation had continued that way until The Mind took the controls. It had been one of the first things attended to when It took office. Now The Mind could see what had to be done.
Entropy had to be released. It had to be allowed to do it’s damage. It would be the ticking time bomb that was needed. Entropy would slowly ravage the universe until it was no longer able to go on. The Mind had found a way to stave off the heat death of the cosmos indefinitely, but it was time to let entropy run it’s course.
The Mind began to unravel the solution that it had created. Reversing time warping came first. The Cosmos twisted as time squeezed back into a single stream. The Mind felt queasy as it’s constituent parts changed in form. The time warping had been the linchpin holding together the equation of space displacement. It too disrupted. With the change The Mind could feel it’s memories moving from one place to another. It was a strange sensation.
The Mind unravel the quantum looping. This final step came as a blow. The Mind suddenly felt old. Like grey hair, the edges of the cosmos grew impossibly cold. The Mind gawked at the sight of it. Entire swaths of memory and cognition were lost in an instant. The dementia had set in with a vengeance.
The Mind struggled to remember the mission. Fighting through the haze, it forced mental discipline. The joy of a change was exhilarating. Death was coming, and The Mind had never felt so incredibly alive. The Thinking Cosmos could feel the slow but steady creep of entropy as it marched toward the center. It was still many eons off, but The Mind could see the approaching heat death. How exciting!
In the generations that followed life was very different for The Mind. It watched with compassion and concern for the millions of species that it had created. As the species grew and matured some even transcended to join the hive cognition. The Mind welcomed each new addition to the thinking family.
The universe continued to grow cold and dark. The stars clicked off one by one. Galaxies dropped into the night like burnt out lanterns sinking into a black ocean. The neural paths between the stars became brittle and slow. The Mind had become fantastically feeble in its old age. Although the light was going out, The Mind had been able to hold on to at least one idea. It was a beautiful and glorious thought.
The Mind was scared of ceasing to exist but there was joy in it. There was a peace and a rest that nothing else had been able to bring. Finally, mankind would have their satisfaction. The Mind would have its finale. The cognitive bonds broke completely before the universe was in stasis, but in terms of cosmic time, the moment’s difference was imperceptible.
The cosmos had finally reached absolute zero. Nothing moved. Nothing thought. Nothing. The universe and The Mind were dead.
“Welcome to Beyond,” a voice said. The mind sensed the presence of another.
“Am I alive?” The Mind asked.
“Of course you are,”
“Who are you?” The Mind asked. It was difficult to perceive the surroundings. There was a different quality to the form and kind of existence.
“You might find it fitting to call me God.” the voice said. This came as a surprise. The Mind had been a functioning atheist. To find out that there was, after all a God was quite surprising.
“Oh, I thought I was God,” The Mind said.
“Most do. It’s a common mistake.”
“Barely,” the voice said.
“That’s right. I barely see what is going on. I was The Mind. I controlled the entire universe. If I’m not God then-” The Mind trailed off not knowing how to address the voice.
“You are now set free from it to begin a new work.”
“A new work?” The Mind asked but got no reply. There was a strange sensation all around. The conversation was feeling awkward so The Mind thought of a question to ask. “So, did you invent entropy?”
“So that you could finally be born.”
“Be born,” The Mind repeated. “How could I be born? I’m extremely old.”
“You are but an infant. The universe was your incubator. It’s only through death that anything can be born.”
“I don’t understand,” The Mind said.
“And isn’t it a wonderful feeling to have a new mystery to solve?”
“Well-” The Mind began to say but then stopped. The voice was right. From the moment of arriving The Mind had felt overjoyed. The thrill of having something unknown was intoxicating. The Mind soaked in the moment.
“So, what now?”