Before we begin, I’ll need to clear up the word Consciousness. It’s an unfortunate word because it can be confused with our common understanding of mental consciousness. The word (conscious) usually means awake and lucid, as compared to being unconscious (fainting, sleeping, etc.). However, Consciousness (with a Capital C) in this series refers to a Universal Consciousness. Like a divine intelligence. A cosmic Field.
The full implications of Consciousness are difficult to describe because it’s beyond our comprehension—like, infinity.
Any word used to describe qualitative phenomena always misses the mark. Try describing Sweet to someone who hasn’t tasted it before, or the colour Purple to the blind. Concepts like Infinity and Consciousness are so immense that any linguistic gymnastics will always fall short.
Also, don’t confuse Consciousness with other popular terms like Spirit, Prana, Chi, Energy, Dark matter, etc. These terms symbolise other phenomena, yet, all require Consciousness to work from. That is, Consciousness is required to guide their movement. Otherwise, how would they know where to go or what to do?
As a simple analogy, consider electricity—energy. Electricity is an action potential constantly available. However, it requires our mental consciousness to harness and direct its controlled flow in a usable manner. Every electrical appliance you own, exists because of this principle.
Likewise, your body’s nerves also fire electricity. Your brain, your heart and peripheral nerves all work via electrochemical reactions. This is why brain scans, ECG’s, EEG’s and pacemakers work. They work with the body’s innate energy and its frequency. For more information on brain states and frequencies click this link.
However, and this is extremely important, while energy changes modulate our individual consciousness, Consciousness modulates molecular structure to make energy possible.
I am sorry if my writing falls short of bridging your understanding in such a heavy topic. Be assured, however, that I’m trying my utmost to reach you 🙂
In the last instalment, we started to explore where our sense of Self might reside.
Understandably, we believe our bodies and minds are all we are, because we can feel our bodies and sense our thoughts. We can smell odours, see objects, hear sounds, feel contact and emotions, taste sweet and bitter substances. Because all these impressions are physical, it’s natural to believe we are the body.
However, your body isn’t You, any more than a car is its driver.
We proved this by going through a few thought-experiments. I asked you to imagine that your body was fully paralysed and dying with ALS. However, technology was available to transfer your brain or mind to different containers: a clone of you, a clone of somebody else, an android and a supercomputer.
You were then asked if you’d still be You after the transfer. In other words, would you still be aware of You in a different body?
The answer is always yes!
Therefore, we can only conclude that You are not your body. If you can have an awareness of You without your body, then your body cannot be the fundamental You!
At this point, you’d be inclined to assume that if you’d still be You without a body, then You must be your mind. However, we did a few experiments there too.
I asked you to imagine the slow replacement of your memories with others. We then went further and imagined the removal of all memories and thoughts also.
I then asked you, would you still have an awareness of existing with different memories or none altogether?
The answer again has to be yes!
We know this is true because when you were a baby, you didn’t have any memories or thoughts, and yet, there You were!
But what was it that was You?
In this instalment, we’re going to explore the final piece in the trinity of Self: Consciousness.
What is Consciousness, and how does it compose our reality?
In instalment five, I gave you the definition of Consciousness. That is, Consciousness is simply awareness of an environment. The key term here is awareness; not perception, nor interpretation.
Perception has to do with the body’s senses. Your body perceives matter via contact with light photons and other molecules hitting your senses.
But that’s not awareness.
Awareness perceives, perception doesn’t ‘aware’.
Perception is a property of awareness—which is an attribute of Consciousness.
Without Consciousness, you couldn’t perceive. This is why someone who’s physically unconscious can’t respond to stimuli. The senses are still there and working correctly, consciousness is still operating inside the body, but not perceiving the external environment.
Mirror, Mirror on the Wall…
Imagine if you can, being a mirror; spotless and brilliant.
Being the mirror that you are, you naturally observe whatever is in front of you. But because you are a mirror, it’s in your nature to reflect back anything you see.
However, as time goes by, dust accumulates on the glass. A fingerprint here, a smudge there, and the glass becomes dirtier and more obscure. After decades, You can hardly see through the glass; you’re no longer able to reflect light pristinely. Instead, all you see is the darkness from the accumulated dirt on the outside of the glass.
When you were a fetus, you were pure consciousness, as the spotless mirror. As your senses developed, and you interacted with the physical world, your mind (the glass on the mirror) stores sensory perception. As time went on, sensory perceptions increased, and you started accumulating subjective memories on every piece of information you’ve ever learned (the dust and grime on the glass).
Subjective memories are retained categorisations of sensory data, laden with emotion. For example, if you had some negative emotional experiences when perceiving the dark, then your mind categorises darkness with danger and fear. Even though you know darkness is just absence of light, your mind’s interpretation of darkness keeps you being afraid of the dark.
Subjectivity happens with every memory you have.
Knowing how your mind’s contents came to exist, helps you realise the mind is no more than a collection of impressions about the past. Your thoughts are not pure, reflective impressions, they’re emotionally-laden memories of objects, words and ideas.
I often imagine the mind as a haunted house, with thoughts as vain, hungry ghosts. They’re apparitions of the past constantly floating through my mind for attention and immediacy.
However, your mind is not consciousness. The mind is a property of consciousness.
Consciousness, is Mind-ing.
Awareness thinks, thoughts don’t ‘aware’.
Going back to the mirror analogy, Consciousness is the reflective material, and the Mind is the glass. Dust and grime stick to the glass, but it never touches the reflective element.
Likewise, impressions, memories, values, judgements stick to the mind but never Consciousness. Consciousness is just awareness; it is not the mind itself.
You know this is true because you have to be Conscious to have a mind, but you don’t have to possess a mind to be Conscious. The mind is a manifestation of your brain, but consciousness isn’t. Consciousness is evident in organisms without brains or nerves, like Jellyfish, bacteria, plants. They’re aware of their environment and respond to it, yet, have no minds to think.
Consciousness is the underlying phenomenon in all living things, and therefore, all matter!
In the fourth instalment, you were introduced to the problem of Consciousness arising out of matter. That is, science can’t explain why or how consciousness arises out of supposedly “dead” particles and molecules.
Since everything is made of matter (carbon, Hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, etc.), why does the H2O (water) in your drink not possess consciousness, but the H2O in You does?
A Jellyfish is over 80% water, and yet, the Jellyfish is conscious in a supposedly unconscious ocean of water.
Furthermore, when we look past the consciousness of organisms, we then have to come to terms with the Consciousness responsible for the arrangement of matter.
Consider growth. Growth of a tree, of an animal, of a network.
- What is the intelligence that turns an acorn into a massive oak tree?
- What is the intelligence that guides a single cell to become a fully functional organism?
- What is the intelligence that guides the formation of fungal networks through forests and communication between every plant?
What is the intelligence that arranges quantum particles into atoms, those atoms into molecules, molecules into amino acids, amino acids into DNA, DNA into cells, cells into tissues, tissues into organs, organs into systems, systems into organisms, organisms into communities, and on and on?
You have the danger of shutting off right about now.
You have the danger of putting all this in the “too difficult” category.
You have the danger of assuming Science knows how it’s done.
But you’d be wrong.
Science can describe the steps of a process, but not the underlying, intrinsic intelligence guiding the process.
However, there is an intelligence driving every process in your body. You don’t consciously do anything for your body to function, yet, your body has been continuously growing, regulating and managing itself since the first cellular division in your mother’s womb.
There you sit reading this line, while simultaneously oblivious to the trillions of cells, and octillions of atoms popping in and out of existence and continuously maintaining your form.
You are literally an observer within an ever-changing atomic dance of Cosmic proportions.
All matter is conscious because Consciousness is the Field where matter exists.
Bear with me.
Atoms become molecules by attraction. For example, water means two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom attracted each other and bonded. That means for water to be water, it has to repulse other atoms; atoms that would stop it being water. Although we name this phenomenon as electromagnetism, we could also say it’s a sort of environmental molecular awareness.
There’s a vast body of unexplained evidence in quantum physics displaying consciousness and awareness within sub-atomic particles. For more information look up quantum entanglement and the double-slit experiment. Albert Einstein called quantum mechanics Spooky Physics because quantum physics reveals matter displaying consciousness.
The fundamental principle that you need to realise, either through study or introspection, is that Consciousness exists above and below all material phenomena; including You. Although you function as a living organism, you’re built of the same fundamental particles as everything around you. In fact, here’s a list of what you’re made of:
You’re made of matter which gives You your physical form. Your physical configuration organises itself via some intrinsic intelligence. Intelligence is a property–an attribute–of something grander; in this case, Consciousness.
The force that permeates all matter is Consciousness, because matter organises into conscious, self-aware phenomena. For us to be conscious, Consciousness has to be present beforehand in empty space.
Consciousness has to pre-exist.
Look around you.
Really look. Feel, listen.
Everything around and within you is moving, changing, dancing.
Even a rock has vibrating molecules. Those molecules and atoms eventually break away, only to become part of you. To go even Grander, recall Carl Sagan reminding us we’re stardust.
We are the atomic elements flung across the vastness of space from an exploding sun. Those same elements are the ones writing this piece and the same ones reading it.
Feel that to your core and then try to argue you’re not an expression of Consciousness itself.
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