Does Consciousness explain Reality?

My experience of Reality is three-fold: physical, mental, and ephemeral. Relatively few humans are likely to have had exposure to the ephemeral (spiritual) realm. This realm is both exciting and confusing.

Among the multiple facets of the inter-connections between these 3 realms is this issue: Is there an over-arching, all-encompassing, dimension into which all these 3 realms fit? Notwithstanding the apparently challengeable conclusion from the Michelson-Morley experiment (a very long time ago), is there something referred to as the aether which could provide an operational basis for illuminating these 3 realms operating in unison?

Interestingly, there are a number of scientists researching the aether. They are obviously working beyond the prevailing explanatory paradigms of science. I hasten to add that I accept the usefulness and reliability of the scientific method. However, it is necessarily limited to the mechanistic material realm of experience. It may, however, be useful in illuminating the mental realm – or parts thereof. It could not, under any circumstances, assist in perusing the mysteries of the spiritual realm. Beware (as someone wrote) vivisecting the songbird to identify the source of its trill.

My question about an over-arching dimension arose from my reading of Easwaran’s translation of the core Upanishads. Hinduism’s Upanishads offer a view of Reality through spirituality – not available at an equivalent depth from other religions. This is not surprising in view of its distant origins in time. The Vedas, their precursor, seemingly originated about 7,000 BC (dated by tracing a unique planetary configuration).

Hindu cosmology is complex, and allegedly inherited (but that is a separate issue). Human history before the Universal Flood (of about 11,000 BC) is uncertain – possibly covered in mud.

The relevance here of Hindu cosmology is the concept of Consciousness, and its role. Consciousness is posited as ever-existing, all-embracing, all-pervasive – like the aether. It is an un-caused First Cause.

In relation to my posts about the mind and the human soul, were our minds and souls to exist outside our bodies in some ephemeral (cloud) form (like information on the Internet), could they not be associated with (linked to, or part of) an all-pervasive Consciousness?

Furthermore, since everything in the Cosmos appears to be inter-connected, could that be explained by an all-embracing Consciousness (like a gossamer blanket which covers everything)?

Thus, the physical, mental and ephemeral realms of my experience may represent my awareness of a 3-tiered Reality reflecting an ever-existing Consciousness. That is, could Consciousness create and sustain all that is, in spite of not being adequately explicable to humans?

(Disclaimer: In this life I am a Hindu. In my previous life it appears that I have been a Muslim in Central Asia. Way deep in me is a memory of being a Jew in the Middle East. I have also been a Christian. As a free-thinker, I merely seek understanding of the place of humanity in the Universe. I have no axe to grind. My tentative beliefs and speculations are just what they are.)

 

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The mystery of Consciousness

Consciousness in humans is awareness. Seems right, does it not? Can I say anything comparable about animals and plants? Kirlian photography suggests a level of sensitivity in plants to being cut or burnt; some plants have reportedly shown such sensitivity even when a neighbouring plant is adversely treated. This is not good news for us, especially vegetarians. Is sensitivity equal to awareness? (Semantics can be a nuisance, can’t it?)
As for animals, judging by family pets, do they not display both awareness and sensitivity (as human do)?

Examining consciousness further: Are we conscious in deep sleep? Or, is there something we refer to as the subconscious which alerts us to possibly-threatening sounds? What about warning smells? Or, a dream which effectively warns about safety or security?

One night, in deep sleep in a strange room, I had what felt like a dream. My ‘dream’ was that my bed was collapsing while also tilting sideways? I jumped out of the bed, not quite awake, and switched on the light. What I saw was a big-framed picture, which had been hanging on the wall adjacent to the bed, had now slid to the ground with a crash, in the small space between the bed and the wall.

Was this the sequence of events? Sound of sliding, falling picture. I hear this in my sleep. My mind generates a warning in dream form. This led to my flight out of the bed. Was that evidence of consciousness during deep sleep?

Curiously, Eknath Easwaran, in his book ‘The Upanishads’, refers to the ‘states of mind’ of waking, dreaming, and dreamless sleep as representing “layers of awareness, concurrent strata lying at different depths in the conscious and unconscious mind”. Awareness existing in layers? Awareness in the unconscious mind?

He also refers to ‘states of consciousness’: and challengingly asks – ”In the constantly changing flow of thought, is there an observer who remains the same?” The idea of an uninvolved observer within us represents the core of Upanishadic Hinduism. However, I can cite an experience which is suggestive of an internal observer.

As a young man, I once lost my temper (never before, never again). It was a highly-charged emotional reaction. Then followed a physical development: I was about to cause terrible harm to a fellow human. Suddenly, from somewhere in my mind came a thought: “What are doing, stupid?” (It was a very clear thought.) As a consequence, no harm occurred. On reflection – I seem to have been operating at 3 levels of consciousness.

Consciousness at a normal, operational, human level is certainly confusing. The following extract from Easwaran then takes consciousness from the Earthly level to the cosmic level. Relying on one of the Upanishads, he states “… the powers of the mind have no life of their own.  The mind is not consciousness; it is only an instrument of consciousness …”

So, what is Consciousness at the cosmic level? In a recent post, I asked “Does Consciousness explain Reality?” What a wonderful mystery.

Where resides my soul?

As a metaphysical Hindu (that is, one beyond rituals), I accept that the Cosmic Creator (not necessarily a physical entity), as both transcendent and immanent, may have a presence in all that is created. A fragmentary essence of this Creator could thus be within me. I have read that this presence is located in a walnut-sized space within my heart.

Is this presence my soul, the real me, that traveller through time, through repeated re-births? That cannot be. That is because each soul is said to be polished (improved morally or spiritually) through the reincarnation process, and then returned to be boundless Ocean of Consciousness (or Aether) from which it is said to have risen. A fragment or essence of the Creator will surely not need to be polished.

Rather, its role may be to remind me that, in times of travail, I need only look within me for succour and spiritual (and mental) peace. The lessons of Destiny – both personal and communal – do need to be accepted with equanimity.

My soul is clearly a unique insubstantial entity, the essential me, carrying the compound lessons acquired through a series of past lives. Does it remain a passive record keeper, uninvolved in the normal turbulence of life? Or, does it, in its own interest, influence me by allowing me intimations (on occasions) of my immediate past life?

I have become somewhat sensitised to this influence through: some instinctive responses to events; visions of a past life through auto-hypnosis; information offered by a psychic healer whose Spirit Healer can apparently read my past life traumas; and my ‘casual’ clairvoyant who saw me as I apparently appeared in my immediate past life. I await, with hope, further illumination.

Developing my ‘third-eye’ vision may enable me to become more intuitive about such matters. I doubt, however, whether the embodied I will ever know what the essential I (my soul) is doing.

What I would like to know is whether my soul resides in my body, or whether it surrounds me as an ethereal (or cloud) entity (like the Internet). When I die, will my soul gather my mind and its memories on its way, because they too exist in a ‘cloud’ around my brain?

Could I now explain how I recovered the memory which I had lost when I had a heart attack? Perhaps my memory exists at 2 levels; at a operational level, which can be damaged, and at a holistic ethereal level beyond bodily weakness.

Fascinating! Pity that I will be denied an answer. As my soul takes off to the Afterlife, it will not (I guess) be concerned by such Earth-based ruminations. The caravan must (and will) move on!

(Note: While I cannot prove the existence of a Cosmic Creator and the ways this all-pervasive, ever-existing essence may influence human existence, no sceptic can disprove such a belief. As for the reality of souls and the reincarnation process about which I have written, my experiences and reliable research findings over decades being real, cannot be denied.
Doctrinal religion does not offer needed illumination. Regrettably, some scholars cannot step out from their religion-imbued castles.)

Is Consciousness the explanation?

Consciousness is something we are all aware of. That is, I am aware that I am conscious. But, I do not understand it. Yet, we need Consciousness in order to be mobile and motile; and to use the limited number of senses we possess. Awareness, reciprocally, seems to be an essential manifestation of Consciousness.

Is it possible to be aware when one is unconscious; or asleep? Is it Consciousness which enables thought? Or feelings? What of the subconscious? Is there such a facility? If it does exist, then a level of Consciousness exists of which we are not aware. Then, how do we know about what is happening at the subconscious level? Is there a transmission of thought from the subconscious to the conscious?

There has to be such a transmission. When my seer, B, advised me to ‘listen’ to my subconscious in order to receive messages from my Spirit Guide, such messages need to surface in my conscious mind. When I wake up in the middle of the night with a new thought, I could assume that my Guide was responsible. Since I have a speculative, roving mind, poking into all corners of existence, which new thoughts can be attributed to my Guide? And which reflect the thought-miner striking a potentially valuable lode of insight?

Moving to intuition, third-eye perceptions, clairvoyance, clairaudience, reading the future, and remembering a past life, would these facilities not involve riding a wave of Consciousness across time, as well as space? The quaint concept of space-time is an irrelevancy here.

Would not communication with spirits from the impossible-to-deny Afterlife also involve surfing a cloud-land of Consciousness? Would not the visual manifestation of spirits also require such a medium of transportation from the Afterlife? Of course, the Afterlife is most probably ‘here’ in a dimension which crosses our dimension of Earthly existence.
In this context, looking to the desert religions (or perhaps all religions) for guidance would seem to be futile. The focus of religion is elsewhere.

‘Horses for courses’ is a useful adage. For the relatively recent (in historical terms) discovery of the terra nullius of human experiences traversing over-lapping realms of the ephemeral and the material, new means of communication – in the form of concepts and relationships established in the human mind – are needed.

Following the principle reflected in Occam’s Razor, that the simplest explanation is best, the concept of an all-embracing, infusive, ever-existing, pervasive aether may be a useful starting point. The aether is now being researched, in spite of the Michelson-Morley experiment of yore, by a significant number of scientists willing to transcend the prevailing explanatory paradigms.

In human terms (or in terms of transient beings) Consciousness qualifies as that ever-existing, all-embracing, and all-penetrating essence. Whether matter represents a projection from the bound-less ocean of Consciousness, and from which arose the ephemeral, the insubstantial; or whether the ‘real’ of the ephemeral arising from Consciousness is reflected, as appropriate, in the material is an irrelevancy for now. The relationship between the material and ephemeral realms may be an enriching bilateral process.

Were Consciousness to be a functionally neutral cloud-like enabler of links, especially of communication, between whatever exists, in any form (of substance or otherwise), it would intransitively present what seems to be obvious to sensitive humans – that everything in existence is connected to everything else. Both the paranormal and the normal in human existence would then be explicable.

Is it Consciousness which enables the pathways of mutual understanding, through gossamer connections, between sentient beings – including spirits from the Afterlife?

Earth-Spirit communication

It is clear that there is an effective barrier between the realm of spirits and the world of humans. Thus, my Spirit Guide was unable to have me ‘listen’ to him until my casual clairvoyant, B, advised me to listen to my subconscious. Presumably my Spirit Guide was able to communicate with her psychically. Could he reach her because she has clairvoyance skills when I do not?

My initial clairvoyant, C, told me that he is, through a meditative process, able to contact the spirit realm. I presume that, through his clairvoyance skills, he can reach his Spirit Guide; and that the latter facilitates the contacts C needs to help his clients.

How are clairvoyance skills achieved? Inborn? Or, given? B says that messages come to her! I know that she has visions. For example, she told me when my memoir ‘The Dance of Destiny’ would be published. More significantly, she has “seen” me in a past life – as a Muslim warrior with a “curved sword” in my hand and mounted on a black stallion (my horse-rider wife would have been entranced to know that).

When the racial discrimination I had to undergo during the White Australia era and the tribal discrimination at work during the last 5 years of my career became excessive, my right hand itched. Instinctively, I wanted to wield a scimitar again. Strangely, my wife discerned my unspoken interest in scimitars.

My efforts to peer into my past lives through auto-hypnosis did bring me flashes of insight about scenes indicative of Central Asia. As well, when I set out to design a stained-glass scene, the initial designs reflected the beautiful mosques of that region (so I discovered later). Learning throughout life is a slow progress as one’s mind and inner eye become more focussed.

A more intriguing issue is how a spirit can see, hear, remember the past on Earth, know about my life after his death, and despond to a comment he has heard, thus displaying a functioning mind. All this was displayed by my uncle to clairvoyant C and to me while he was pertinently an insubstantial entity, his Earthly body with all its operating organs having been cremated.

Looking at the human mind on Earth, it appears to arise from the brain, with the latter the repository of memories. Yet, my mind also appears to be nomadic and adventurous; that is, not relying on my brain.

As a Seeker of understanding (not just knowledge), I speculate about matters which are new to my brain, seeking patterns, even creating patterns. Refer my daily WordPress posts on my blog ‘An octogenarian’s final thoughts’ (copied to Facebook and to my book pages on amazon.com – see author profile). That is, my mind is a somewhat independent facility. I suspect that it is linked to Consciousness.

Perhaps it is a shared Consciousness which enables Earthling-Spirit communication.

Intimations about the Afterlife

I had a dream recently. I woke up at the conclusion of the dream, wondering whether it followed my recent speculations about the Afterlife. As a metaphysical Hindu, through some in-depth reading and careful analysis, I accept the probability of the existence of my soul, the reincarnation process, and a re-charging domain I conceive as the Afterlife.

The concept of an Afterlife is very challenging. Would insubstantial soul-entities, the spirits of former Earthlings, need a home of substance? But then I cannot conceive of an insubstantial place where a goodly number of soul-entities could sojourn. However, I realise that at age 89 I can expect to have my curiosity satisfied very soon.

Since I had been advised by a casual clairvoyant (or seer) to listen to my subconscious for messages from my Spirit Guide, I wonder if my dream was more than wishful thinking. Living in a flat country whose highest mountain is a mere pimple, whose rivers do not seem to flow like those in New Zealand, and whose dry terrain does not attract much rain (except for sudden troubling downpours occasionally), my subconscious may be seeking to compensate for this deprivation by Nature.

In my dream, I was on a lush mountain top, with a raging river below on one side and a cliff on the other – which allowed me to see the distant sea and a rocky shore. It was raining, but I do not remember getting wet. I heard voices, yet neither saw nor met anyone. It was as if we were all avoiding one another. In the morning, I again remembered this compensatory dream. After all, had I not been born and bred in a lush tropical terrain? Had I not enjoyed the years I had lived there?

Then, much to my great surprise, during my sleep a few nights later, I had a thought flitting through my mind. Intuitively, I felt that spirits created their own personal environments in the Afterlife. Was that message from my Spirit Guide? As a recluse of many years, I am attracted to this possibility.

Indubitably, the conceptual vista of my soul as a time-traveller, traversing countries and cultures through the occupation of a long series of human bodies, and living (with all its pains and pleasures), and learning while necessarily adapting to a new home, and ultimately returning to The Source morally purified is spiritually satisfying. As ever, it is the journey (in spite of great suffering on the way) which matters, not the arrival Home.

Has science explained anything relevant to existence? (2)

My problem with Darwin’s Theory of Evolution

Ever since I read about this theory (when I was 24), I have been a sceptic. I had read a little anatomy and physiology by then. I couldn’t see how the eye could have evolved through random mutation (mutations are usually errors in copying DNA); and how natural selection, which eliminates the failures in adaptation, could have had a role. As the whole process requires a very long time, an inconceivable list of intermediate forms would need to appear along the way.

Cosmic catastrophes may better explain the appearance of whole functioning forms; while yet needing an organising influence. Thus, extra-solar impacts may damage some Earth-bound species; some of the survivors may then evolve into complete, viable forms. These forms may not have been possible through the Darwinian process. Did the modern bird arise from the destruction of dinosaurs?

The concept of punctuated equilibrium, allegedly intended to counter cosmic catastrophes as a cause does not seem to be an explanation – only a description of what occurs. I have read an attempted explanation of this concept, but it was full of suppositions. As well, have intermediate forms (missing links) been found?

What then of flowering plants (100 million years old), with no intermediate species from non-flowering plants (300 million years old)? Most flowers need bees and other pollinators. How did this relationship evolve? By accident? By chance?

Whereas Darwinian evolution is based on competition, co-operation and symbiosis are clearly relevant in life. That competition was seen as the driver was consistent with Karl Marx’s dialectical materialism. Darwin and Marx were original thinkers of the 19th century. Marx’s viewpoint was that matter is the sole subject of change, which is the product of conflict arising from the internal contradictions inherent in all things. That view had a degree of plausibility then.

The biggest challenge was from Michael Behe, a biologist, who listed blood clotting, cilia, the human immune system, the transport of materials within cells, and the synthesis of nucleotides as irreducibly complex, and that no gradual route could have led to their creation.

Simple forms of life could have may have been deposited on Earth through crashing meteorites or comets. Apparently, there is sufficient evidence of this happening. Or, through some catastrophic impacts from space. Could the concept of panspermia also include life being brought to Earth by an advanced civilisation? Indeed, did extraterrestrials also tweak some life forms on Earth onto more complex levels? The Christian Bible refers to the Adam in much the same way that Zachariah Sitchin suggests, from Sumerian records, that the Anunnaki from the planet Nibiru created man (to be a slave).

Theorising that purpose is built into all forms of life on Earth may be of some value. If this is true, how did it happen? My observation of the trees and tall shrubs in my garden competing with one another is suggestive of purpose. Then, there is the issue of how certain lizards and insects were able to acquire the mechanism to change their skin colours at will, or to acquire, on a permanent basis, the colouration of the tree or leaf on which this life-form sites itself.

Darwin’s Theory of Evolution may be the only theory available to explain inter-species change. But it has not been proven. Is it time to admit that we should start again?

(The ‘Big Bang’ Theory of Cosmology also does not make sense. Read Part 2)