Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Consciousness explained

Consciousness is an elusive thing, because we all have it, but somehow we fail to nail it, as to what it is exactly. Some people correctly identify consciousness to be something we have all along except, when we are in deep sleep. Even while dreaming we can be aware of consciousness. Some think that our brain produces consciousness. This theory does not hold water, as in deep sleep also, the brain is active. So where does our sense of consciousness go during that time ? The greatest damage has been done by Descartes saying ‘I think, therefore Iam !’ Thinking is not to be equated with consciousness. Our thoughts emanate in the brain. And consciousness is not in the brain. It’s non-local. So here are some aspects of consciousness to ponder upon :

1. It is fundamental

Like mass, space, time etc, consciousness seems to be a fundamental concept imbibed in our universe. This calls upon a scientific theory for the same. However the reason why we have not been able to make much progress in this front is because consciousness is subjective. Although we all seem to have consciousness, our experiences are varied. No two are the same. Neuroscience suggests that there are trillions of possibilities embedded within our brains. These possibilities are images and stories. We always connect our experiences with these built in possibilities, and either strengthen or weaken them. Where do these images and stories come from ? Well, they are collected as we grow from childhood to being adults. Some even say past karma. However these memories don’t suggest that they are the only ones out there. Some spiritualists also claim that we have access to Akashic records outside the brain. This brings us to the concept of mind, the brain being the physical expression of that. The mind is thus much more than the brain.

2. It is universal

This is the panpsychic theory of consciousness which suggests that consciousness is embedded into everything from a human to a sub-atomic particle. However their complexity varies. While we are much complex creatures, a subatomic particle has a very low degree of consciousness. This theory seems to be a natural offshoot of the above point that we made a while ago. Thus we have group consciousness, societal consciousness, internet consciousness, global consciousness and a universe that is sentient. The idea in religious literature is of a super soul that is God and we being a miniscule part of it. However, small it may be, it has the same properties and potential of the super soul. Like the poet Rumi said it ‘We are not a drop in the ocean, but the ocean in the drop’. Even worms, insects and cats have soul’s. Forget that, even walls do. Everything is immersed in the soul energy. However, the degree of awareness is different. For eg: your cat may have an awareness that does not exceed yours but does when compared to an earthworm.

3. It is non computational

Not all theories can be explained by mathematics. There are many places where mathematics simply cannot answer the conundrums. For eg: parts of

  • Classical Physics
  • Field theory
  • Quantum Mechanics
  • Things outside quantum mechanics

The soul does not seem to work on computations. The experience that we go through, is not a set of ADD, SUB, MUL, DIV instructions. It’s a feeling, that is produced by various factors like the emotions, senses, processing, memory etc. Spiritualists give the term ‘Qualia’ for experiences that are fundamental for example the shape circle or the color red. These somehow add up to give us a summative experience. We are not sure as to how it works, but it does. The difference between a computer and consciousness is that a computer cannot be selective about it’s input, whereas consciousness seems to know what to filter. This property can also be seen in the brain.

4. It is information intensive

The more the information a system holds, the higher the degree of consciousness in it. This is naturally so. We are complex beings and we have a high degree of consciousness. A computer which holds lesser information is not as conscious as we are. However, the difference is in the processing. Unlike a computer which executes a set of instructions, consciousness can be experienced through things like epiphanies, deja-vu’s and law of attraction, to name a few. Our experiences seems to have visualized the state before itself. A computer cannot beforehand predict the outcome, without going though the instructions. Yes, looking at the data, some amount of predictions is possible. But in the case of consciousness, even data does not seem to be required. It’s a far more form of an advanced technology.

If in some words, we were to explain the term beauty, only consciousness can do that by giving us the experience of it. Can you ever define it? The beauty of a sunset can only be felt and never be explained by words.

To your awakening,


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