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.

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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.)

Mars – we ain’t coming yet

“I’ve been back on Earth, after a year in space, for precisely 48 hours.”

“I start the journey to my bedroom: about 20 steps from the chair to the bed. On the third step, the floor seems to lurch under me, and I stumble into a planter. Of course, it isn’t the floor – it’s my vestibular system trying to readjust to Earth’s gravity. I’m getting used to walking again.”

“I’ve only been asleep for a couple of hours but I feel delirious. It’s a struggle to come to consciousness enough to move, to tell her how awful I feel. I’m seriously nauseated now, feverish, and my pain has gotten worse. This isn’t like how I felt after my last mission. This is much, much worse.”

“Over the past year, I’ve spent 340 days alongside Russian astronaut Mikhail ‘Misha’ Kornienko on the International Space Station (ISS). Apart from NASA’s planned journey to Mars, we’re members of a program designed to discover what effect such long-term time in space has on human beings. This was my fourth trip to space, and by the end of the mission I’d spent 520 days up there, more than any other NASA astronaut.”

“I struggle to get up. Find the edge of the bed. Feet down. Sit up. Stand up. At every stage, I feel like I‘m fighting through quicksand. When I’m finally vertical, the pain in my legs is awful, and on top of that pain I feel a sensation that’s even more alarming. It feels as though all the blood in my body is rushing to my legs …”

“I can feel the tissue in my legs swelling. … They are swollen and alien stumps, not legs at all.”

“My skin is burning, too.”

“This is why we volunteered for this mission, after all: to discover more about how the human body is affected by long-term space flight.”

“Our space agencies won’t be able to push out farther into space, to a destination like Mars, until we can learn more about how to strengthen the weakest links in the chain that make space flight possible: the human body and mind.”

“In my previous flight to the space station, a mission of 159 days, I lost bone mass, my muscles atrophied, and my blood redistributed itself in my body, which strained and shrank the walls of my heart. More troubling, I experienced problems with my vision, as many other astronauts had. I have been exposed to more than 30 times the radiation of a person on Earth, equivalent to about 10 chest X-rays every day. This exposure would increase my risk of a fatal cancer for the rest of my life.”

(These are extracts from an article by NASA astronaut Scott Kelly in the ‘Good Weekend Magazine’ in the Sydney Morning Herald of 7 Oct. 2017.)

Reality may be non-material

I prefer the material realm of the universe we occupy to be a projection of an ethereal realm. The latter realm is effectively unknown. It is also an inexplicable dimension of existence. Yet, reality also seems to me to be more ethereal than material. Why do I say that?

Because almost everything in the material realm is subject to change. Newton’s Second Law of Thermodynamics, of entropy, goes even further. Nothing of substance seems to be durable. While the material realm also cannot explain the ethereal realm, the latter may contain the templates (see Plato’s ‘real’) for transient materiality.

When Heraclitus (a Greek philosopher of yore) quoted a typically unrecognised Hindu thinker of centuries before him, saying “All is fire,” he was referring to the firmament which surrounds us. All my life, I have been enchanted by the apparently infinite number of balls of fire which we see as stars.

Recently, my mind’s-eye developed this scenario. The invisible ‘smoke’ from these fires could represent an integrated ‘mesh,’ the ephemeral realm of the Universe; and the ‘ashes’ and other disgorgements from each sun which fall upon their respective planets (such as Earth) could represent the material from which life forms eventually oozed or erupted. Does this vision make possible sense?

Then, there is the material realm of which we are part; that is, we are substantially matter. We are part of the 4% of the totality of matter estimated to exist in the Universe to be visible.

What of invisible matter? Two-thirds is said to be dark matter; one third is apparently dark energy. Was the latter transmuted from dark matter, or vice versa? However, since we cannot see either, could they actually exist? Of course they can, since bees and some animals are apparently able to use certain alternative strands of the electromagnetic spectrum to go about their business.

As well, there was my first clairvoyant who could see, and describe accurately, the spirit of my uncle who had manifested himself to him. That is, invisible cosmic matter may become visible under appropriate conditions; and invisible energy may be identifiable through its material impacts.

In the event, what is the point of all the fuss we make about the minuscule amount of visible matter in the Universe, including our human material selves? Are we not a lot more than our material bodies? The essence of each human being is of far more significance than the outer shell. Should we not be investigating non-visible matter and energy in their role in shaping humanity, in order to understand our place in the ephemeral realm?

Ultimate reality seems to be beyond the visible, tangible, cupidity and crudity of much of Earthly human existence.

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?

The spirit realm’s impacts on my life

Soon after I had survived death by dengue (fever) at age 18, a yogi called on my widowed mother and me. He convinced her that I would be going south to study. That direction for study was unknown to our community. I was despatched south. I left Australia 4 years later, as he had foretold. I returned to Australia as an immigrant a year later, thereby confirming the yogi’s somewhat cryptic hint that I would be overseas a great deal.

In my early 1990s, when the spirit of my uncle had materialised in the presence of clairvoyant C, Uncle told C that “the spirit world had experienced difficulty in getting him to Australia.” Many years later, I began to wonder whether a number of young educated Asian youths from British colonial territories in Asia, and thereby fluent in English, had been selectively manoeuvred into racist White Australia.

With unquenchable faith in our most durable cultural heritages, and equipped with the necessary traits of tolerance, fortitude, and resilience, and through un-planned marriage to Anglo-Australian girls, we would progressively change Australia’s assumed white supremacy to a cosmopolitan, tolerant polity. Australia would thus become colour-blind, essentially through tinted children with white mothers and coloured fathers appearing in the schools; with the teachers emphasising the commonality of all mankind, irrespective of country of origin or ethnicity. My wife and I contributed a great deal of time and effort to supporting our children’s schools.

It seems to me now that higher beings in the spirit realm are using appropriate trajectories of personal destiny paths to improve the morality of mankind wherever possible. I do like that, in spite of the reality that, socially, I remain a marginal member of society. That may be because of the role of those of us sent into exile as ‘scene changers.’ I am thus an instrument of societal change, while necessarily being changed by that role.

Most significantly, about a decade ago, I found a small mirror pulled off my kitchen wall and placed upright on a kitchen bench. Soon after, a photo was taken from a wall and inserted between vertical blinds on a window sill. Then I knew who was responsible for both events. They were the actions (I surmised) of someone who had once been very close to me, indicating that she is now dead. When I spoke to the unsighted spirit, her actions ceased.

Then, when the widow of the uncle who had appeared in spirit form to offer me guidance died, and she had been the second-most important woman in my life, she appeared to me in my mind as I was falling sleep on the evening she left Earth. On another occasion, someone who had helped me cope with the racism of White Australia let me knowwithin my mind – that she was departing Earth. I am truly grateful for such messages.
What is obvious is that the spirits of the recently-dead are able to reach some of us psychically. I am envious of clairvoyant C. He is clearly able to reach out to the realm of spirits.

Then a most incredible event occurred. A woman I did not know, and whom I had met only a few minutes earlier, began to tell me repeatedly, with her voice becoming raised “Your Spirit Guide says that you are not listening to him. He has tried to reach you a few times. While she spoke thus, she kept looking over my left shoulder. “Can you see him” I asked with great curiosity. “Yes” was her reply. “Can you describe him?” She did! Later, I asked her how I could listen to him. “Listen to your subconscious” was her reply.

The crucial issue here is that I had no idea that I have a Spirit Guide. In the light of my unending travails … … ! That the spirit realm existed was news to me until the spirit of my uncle made himself known. “Where now, old sow?” as might have been uttered by philosopher Lin Yutang to his porcine pet, is my question to myself.

Evidence of life after Earthly death

My personal evidence is as follows. After reading a large compendium providing an up-to-date summary of findings in the paranormal realm, I went to consult a clairvoyant. He had been recommended to me. I wanted to ask him (hereafter referred as C) how he went about his business.

At the doorway to his consulting room, C greeted me thus: “I have the spirit of your uncle with me. Will you accept him?” I was totally flummoxed. Since I had 3 uncles, and C could see the spirit, I had him describe the spirit. His description covered height, skin colour, clothing, and footwear.

Since he was obviously my no. 1 uncle, the oldest in his family, I naturally accepted him. He had also been the second-most important man in my life (after my father). But, as I could not see him, and as he communicated silently with C, I had to rely upon C to know what Uncle said.

I was told that Uncle had been sent by ‘higher beings’ to advise me, as he was “the one I was most likely to accept.” What Uncle said to C indicated that he knew what happened to my life after his death; he even described the cabin bag that I had brought to Australia from Singapore. He referred to his sister, my mother, in a tone of reminiscence; and advised me about my spiritual progress. Near the end of an hour-long session, he responded to a comment that I had made to C. That meant that he could hear what I had said. Since he could see C, I assumed that he could see me too.

It is undeniable that Uncle had retained his mind and his memories after his death; that he could communicate with C; that he see and hear me; that he could process my message and respond to it as if he had a brain as well; and that he could project himself in and out of the material realm at will.

An insubstantial entity had displayed his ability to relate to the realm of substance from which he had departed, using organs of vision, hearing, thought, and memory – which are Earthly facilities. How? All these organs had been cremated with the rest of his body years before.

What is significant is that C provided a comparable service to many others, including 2 of my friends. They confirmed to me that their experiences with the spirit realm through C‘s skills were comparable to mine.

To the professional intransigent sceptic I say this. It is pure folly to proclaim that something is not, or cannot be, without being able to deny real experiences of fellow-humans in a substantive manner. Think about those who claim that God is not, but without being able to prove that assertion.

C is clearly able to contact the spirit realm. He has told me that he obtains advice from the spirit realm through his own Spirit Guide before certain consultations. I suspect that, although he had no previous contact with me, he had sought advice about me. For that I am grateful.

I now have evidence that life on Earth and in what I refer to as the Afterlife has meaning. My Hindu religio-cultural inheritance in this life, suggestive of a continuity of Earthly life through many incarnations, should sustain me through alternative cultural milieus through time.

Following that consultation, I began to write about what Uncle had suggested – “to seek to contribute to building a bridge from where you came to where you are”; to wit, migrant integration into the nation of choice. My books are available as inexpensive ebooks at amazon.com (USA), and its international affiliates (Canada, UK, Australia, France and Germany).

Since that life-changing experience through meeting Uncle, I have had certain other exposures to spirits. I believe these to be spiritually uplifting.