I’d like to apologise for the technical depth this series is burrowing into. As I write each post, I discover the need to explain underlying concepts which may be unfamiliar for the reader.
I could just tell you a conclusion, but that’s like hearing a joke’s punchline without a backstory—you wouldn’t “get it.” Solitary conclusions without a logical, supportive context often become tenuous beliefs. My sincerest wish is to impart an argument so plausible that you feel secure in the inevitability of the conclusion.
Since this is my first attempt writing my beliefs about a profound existential question, I had to work backward to determine how my belief’s structure developed over time. Working out how seemingly unrelated information coalesced into a sound theory is no easy thing. Once the fundamental pieces of the memory puzzle are discovered, I then have to organise it in a sequential, coherent manner for the reader’s benefit and comprehension.
Please bear with me 🙂
However, you also have to make the effort to deliberate the premises as logically sound possibilities. Even if that means having to learn more about a specific subject.
The worst thing you can do is assume you know something because you’ve heard the words or concepts before. Our minds tend to take shortcuts. We learn something from someone that’s supposed to know better and we store or reject it without question. Later, we regurgitate our unexamined opinion as fact. We have a lot of regurgitating going on, but not a lot of chewing.
Recognition of a word or idea isn’t the same as truly understanding its implications.
Most discoveries in theoretical and quantum physics are so fathomless, it goes through most people’s understanding at the same level as watching television. If you find yourself thinking: “Oh, that’s interesting,” or “Meh,” then you haven’t gotten it. These discoveries should be so destructive to your perception of reality, that if you got it, you’d feel like you received an uppercut from Mike Tyson. It would knock the common sense out of you.
In the last instalment, you learned that your physical body is essentially a feeding biological machine with the drive to reproduce. Organic bodies are built and driven by innate desire to move, feed, reproduce, protect, repeat, and the consequent suffering that comes when desires go unfulfilled.
Buddha was right. So are biologists so far.
You also learned the desire for food and reproduction, has supposedly led a single-celled organism to evolve to the current version of man over 3.5 billion years. Evolution occurs when gradual changes over generations, modify an organism in order to survive its environment. Around 7 million years ago, man started evolving from apes. Our current version–Homo sapiens–have been around for 200 000 years.
However, considering Nature’s minimal survival imperative, there’s the problem of man’s unneeded, extraordinary intellectual capacity; specifically, abstraction. Abstraction allowed him to dominate and master Nature’s elements, and perplexingly, question his own existence, Life and Death. None of this should be necessary, nor possible in a supposedly blind, mechanical universe.
You see, evolutionary biologists base their theories on two underlying beliefs:
1) Life is just atoms and matter going through automated processes (yes, you too; it also means you have no free-will), and
2) we’re alone in the entire universe (physically or otherwise).
However, if Life is just automated, organic, material processes, then how can we explain Consciousness?
Yes, there is actually a dilemma philosophers throw at Science’s materialistic view called, The problem of consciousness. Science tries to ignore it. Philosophers, Mystics, Theologians and some Neuroscientists don’t.
At this juncture, it’ll be useful to define and contrast Consciousness from Intelligence and Matter.
Consciousness is essentially an awareness of external and/or internal environment. It can also refer to the personal subjective awareness of its environment or itself.
Intelligence is the ability to use perceived information from memory or knowledge of the environment. Intelligence is a property arising from Consciousness.
Matter is any organic or inorganic substance comprising of atomic particles. Eg: chairs, plants, animals, any object.
Science can’t explain what Consciousness is, or how and why it arises from matter. It can’t be measured, dissected or created (except via other conscious life). As far as science is concerned, Consciousness is just a phenomenon of brains; and because brains are made of matter, once it dies so does its consciousness. However, I know you’re catching the following problems:
- If the brain is conscious, and the brain is made of matter, then doesn’t it follow that matter itself is conscious? or,
- If physical matter isn’t conscious, but material brains have consciousness, then could consciousness exist beyond/despite matter? Could the brain be a sort of interpreter? (Read this one again thoughtfully while picturing it), or
- If consciousness is a by-product of the brain, then what about organisms without brains?
We can’t say only animals with brains are conscious. After all, Jellyfish, fungi and single-celled organisms don’t have brains, but they’re alive, conscious and show rudimentary intelligence.
It seems then, as many Mystics have discovered, that Consciousness exists independent of matter. In fact, we can deduce that matter is subservient to Consciousness and its byproduct.“Matter” is a result of Consciousness, not the other way around. We know this intuitively when we see Life and all its micro-components organise in increasing levels of complexity. The Intelligence that organises every biological function has to be a property of a grander Consciousness permeating existence.
After my ALS diagnosis, existential savagery crept through my soul as my body’s motor nerves relentlessly deteriorated. Consequently, I spent considerable time in deep meditation. The meditation’s purpose was an enquiring type. My questions were simple:
- Why me?
- What will it be like after death?
The first question was answered within a split-second with: Why not?
That slapped the Princess out of me.
The second question’s answer took quite a bit longer, but eventually, I received a perplexing answer via another question. I have no idea why the answer I received was another question, but it led me down a path of analysis that led to this series’ conclusion.
I asked an existential question, and received another question that focused my attention on a grander design. The question I received was this:
If you didn’t have senses, how would you know you were alive?
Sense’s Matter 🙂
When you look in the mirror you see a body.
You see your face’s skin that feels pressure and temperature from matter, your eyes that see light reflecting off matter, your ears that hear sound waves travelling through matter, your nose that smells molecules of matter and a tongue that tastes matter.
Your senses register contact with material phenomena through molecules or photons hitting your sense’s receptors. Sensory perception is interpreted by your brain, which in turn creates an impression.
Your senses don’t perceive anything, your brain does. For example, “sight” means light particles (photons) enter your eye through the pupil, hit receptors in the retina, which in turn triggers a nerve impulse along your optic nerve into the visual cortex at the back of the brain.
Your eyes don’t see, your brain does. Your brain makes a picture from nerve impulses created by receptors that only detect light particles within an extremely limited electromagnetic frequency range (0.0035%).
You only see 0.0035% of the electromagnetic spectrum flowing through everything 24/7.
That’s 99.9965% we’re not seeing!
So you don’t see things as they are. What you “see” in front of you is the picture your visual cortex constructs from a minuscule portion of the electromagnetic spectrum.
Your perception that what you see, is out there, is the grandest optical illusion of all!
To be clear, what you sense, is, out there, but not in the way you see it.
While optical illusions are fun to watch, they should also scare you.
In essence, you’re witnessing ultimate proof that you don’t see reality. Your sensory apparatus and brain are severely limited in what they can perceive. Not only do your senses receive an indescribably small amount of information (stimuli), but your brain also converts the degrading nerve impulse into a partial picture.
The rest, your brain makes it up!
If your brain can create distortions from regular visual light stimuli, what could happen if the eye receptors or the visual cortex in the brain are malfunctioning?
Let’s take this further.
If you take a hallucinogenic substance, your brain will see a completely different reality. Even with your eyes open receiving light stimuli, a hallucinogen will make you see simple things from colours to a completely different environment, as real as the one you’re experiencing right now.
This shouldn’t be hard to believe since you experience it every day and night when you dream.
Your natural curiosity should then ask: if sensory reality is all that exists, and your brain is just matter, and also an accurate interpreter of what’s around you, then hallucinogens shouldn’t distort reality.
Sensory illusions shouldn’t happen!
Brain pathology shouldn’t affect the perception of reality.
But it does!
Because what we see as reality is a brain construct. What you see as 3D reality out there, is literally in your head. That’s why if your visual cortex is damaged, you’ll be literally blind–even if your eyes are perfectly fine.
What you see is a mental image constructed from 0.0035% of the electromagnetic spectrum. Your perception of reality is manifested by the same brain that manifests your dreams.
Please, let that sink in!
This concept is extremely important to understand because once it clicks, you’ll never see Life the same way again.
Note: when I say illusion or in your head, I don’t mean the world doesn’t exist! I mean its appearance is a construct in our heads built from a tiny spectrum of information hitting your senses. You’re still bound by the laws of physics because your reality is 3-dimensional.
Want to play a game?
Let me use another analogy.
Suppose you’re playing a video game.
For a specific game to appear in a coherent, structured manner, some components have to be in place. You’ll need the hardware (circuit boards, wiring, display screen, etc.), the code that programs the game’s parameters and appearance, and energy to power the machine. As you watch and play the game, you’re oblivious to the underlying code and hardware of the game. All you see are the graphics.
In this analogy, the hardware is your brain, the screen is your visual cortex, and the code is your specific neural network and brain chemistry. Since most people have the same brain configuration and chemistry, we perceive the physical world (game) the same way.
However, organisms with very different hardware and code, see a very different game. Bees see ultraviolet light and electromagnetic fields. Bats see the world through sonar (sound waves). Jellyfish don’t have brains, so who knows how they perceive the world. “Reality” is very different to every organism.
Now, imagine there’s a glitch in the code or hardware of your video game. You’ll see the game’s graphics distort until you can’t interact with the game properly.
That’s similar to visual damage. Your perception of reality is limited.
However, suppose you learn a cheat code that reveals extra levels, environments or characters in the game. The game is the same, but the “cheat code” reveals extra stuff that you couldn’t access before.
The cheat code hasn’t created anything new, it just accessed other code already in the program.
However, both the cheat code and the hidden code it accesses had to exist for you to be able to access it. That is (and this is extremely important), the cheat code wouldn’t unlock any hidden levels if those levels weren’t programmed in, to begin with.
If the hidden code didn’t exist, the cheat code wouldn’t work!
The “cheat code” is comparable to (for example) a hallucinogenic substance (Psilocybin, DMT) docking with specific nerve receptors, and accessing a higher dimension of reality (5D, 6D, 7D).
However, for the substance (cheat code) to work, you have to have the nerve receptors and the brain chemistry to begin with (underlying code).
If your brain’s cells didn’t have chemical receptors or produce the chemical itself (DMT), the hallucinogen wouldn’t work on you. But because it does, it must serve a purpose.
You really need to grasp this concept: if your everyday “normal” reality was solid and finite, then nothing would or could change its perception.
There should be no other dimensions to discover through mathematics, substances or techniques.
No amount of brain damage or drugs should make you hallucinate. Since we’ve established that it’s your brain that pictures (visual perception, dreams, imagination, thoughts, memories, etc.), not your eyes, then your brain is more like hardware where the code is used to display everyday pictures in a specific format.
Scientists like to use computer analogies to describe the brain. Specifically, that your brain is a piece of hard-drive storing information from your senses. All the information you’ve collected over a lifetime (your memories), pattern into a continuum that forms your sense of identity (more on this in future posts). Therefore, when the brain dies, so do you and your perception of reality.
However, if your brain only interprets an infinitesimal fraction of 3D reality, but the brain is itself within the whole 10 dimensional, unseen reality, then where are you?
Illusion in this post’s context refers to the incomplete perception of your external reality. Some basic science, research or reflection will prove it to you quickly. And please remember, I’m building a case for what may happen at physical death. The research and argument I’m providing are not to suggest any potential supernatural powers while you’re alive. I’m bringing awareness to a grander design beyond what our five senses can ordinarily perceive.
All this information doesn’t change the laws of physics and your behaviour within the “game” you perceive. Just because reality is not what it appears to be, you still can’t walk through walls any more than you can change your skin pigmentation at will. Your body is in the perceived game and bound by its laws.
However, there’s a difference between playing the game (being alive), being bound by the game’s rules (physical laws), unlocking different levels (using techniques to bypass the senses), and comprehending that for a game to exist there has to be something grander designing the game.
I see many people regurgitate new age, “spiritual” and metaphysical sounding words they have no fundamental understanding of. These words become a cheap magician’s wand rather than the doorway to liberation they should be. People are entitled to believe what they want. However, misery will cling to them like a shadow when those meaningless, magical-sounding terms don’t soothe them from the isolating terror of their deathbed.
I know this from personal experience because I used to be one of those bewitched souls.
The problem with words is they can be misunderstood by the overly eager and the overly cynical.
The overly eager hear that “Life is an illusion” and they believe with enough practice they, or someone else, can have superpowers—defy physical laws, spontaneously heal themselves or others via mind control, or a myriad of other fantasies. Be careful you don’t fall into this trap and use your head.
Likewise, the overly cynical hear the same phrase and mindlessly dismiss it as pseudoscientific garbage with no practical application. The cynics situation is worse because their wellbeing is fully dependent on the material processes in front of their eyes, and some outdated belief. They may miss the true splendour of their own existence while facing demons in a bleak inner world. Be careful you don’t fall into this trap and use your heart.
In the next instalment, we move from sensory perception to the brain’s construction of identity. After all, your fear of death is essentially a fear of the loss of Self.
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