Tuvix and what it means to be an individual

 

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Science fiction is great for nudging us into questioning our assumptions and ask ourselves questions we didn’t realize we had.

One of these questions is what is a person? And the next question: who, or what, am I?

The Tuvix episode of Star Trek Voyager brings these questions up when Neelix and Tuvok, through a transporter accident, becomes one person, Tuvix. When the doctor finds a way to bring Neelix and Tuvok back, it brings up questions of the rights of this new person, and also of the two he is made up of. Is it OK to “kill” Tuvix so Neelix and Tuvok can come back? Is he a person in his own right? What about the rights of Neelix and Tuvok to live? Where did Tuvok and Neelix go? Where did Tuvix go after Tuvok and Neelix came back?

Other Star Trek episodes also explores this question, for instance when a duplicate of Riker is found, and when the whole crew of Voyager is duplicated by a sentient ocean.

It all brings us back to the underlying questions: What does it mean to be an individual. Who, or what, are we really?

From the view of the unmanifest and manifest, of awakeness and its content, the basics of this is not so difficult. The awakeness or awareness is always the same, just pure awareness. But the content change. First it is Neelix and Tuvok, separately. Then a new person called Tuvix, and then back to Neelix and Tuvok separately. And whatever memories and traits are transmitted through these transitions are transmitted through the world of form, through whatever memory patterns and traits continued through the transitions.

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If Neelix took himself to be Neelix, a portion of the content of awareness, then he would experience himself as dying in the transition, or at least being mixed up with another person. And if Tuvix took himself to be Tuvix, he would experience the transition back to Neelix and Tuvok as a death, or possibly as continuing only as a memory within Neelix and Tuvok.

But, if awareness was awake to itself in both Neelix and Tuvok, it would look a little differently. Awareness is awake to itself as awareness, independent of its content, and realizing its own content as itself. First, there is Neelix, then Tuvix, and then Neelix again, a little changed. Or Tuvok, then Tuvix, and then Tuvok again, also a little changed. But all of this happens within and as awakeness itself. It all has the same basic identity as awakeness.

There is no “I” inherent in either of them, only the play of awakeness itself, manifesting in always new and different ways as it always does.

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