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(Important note regarding the mind set from which this series
is written and from how it is intended to be read)

 

Part 2

CONSCIOUSNESS

In Part 1 of this series, I stated that everything begins and ends with consciousness, that it is the ground of being, that the purpose of the Universe is expansion of consciousness, and that our ultimate purpose as humans, the most sentient beings on the planet, is to consciously participate in the expansion of consciousness (though we have subsidiary purposes related to that ultimate purpose, more of which later). In this part, I want to focus in a bit more closely on what is meant by the word “consciousness”. That is important to a full understanding of the rest of this series.

One meaning of the word that appears in some form or another in dictionaries is “the part of the human mind that is aware of the feelings, thoughts, and surroundings of the individual”. It also includes the idea of being able to reflect upon one’s own thoughts. Much beyond that, consciousness is still mostly a mystery.

Trying to clear up the mystery, extensive research into consciousness has been on going for a good number of years now; but as yet, science still has not been able to provide us a truly satisfactory accounting of consciousness. For the scientist, this is an area fraught with numerous puzzling questions and a fair amount of controversy. Questions such as: Where is consciousness located within the brain? Can it even be said to be in the brain? Is it even of a material nature like brain matter? How doe it work?

There are different schools of thought within the consciousness debate, but primarily, there is a divide between those who think the answers to all questions can be found in the examination of matter (the materialist school), and those who believe that there is something more fundamental than matter, in deed, from which matter itself manifests.

The materialist view rests upon the belief that everything is made up of matter and that you can understand things by breaking them down into smaller and smaller parts of matter. So in the pursuit of unraveling the mysteries of consciousness, the materialist seeks to find the answers in the examination of neurons and synapses and brain chemistry. At first glance, it would seem only logical to assume that consciousness would be located within the brain. After all, the brain is associated with the activities of thinking and perceptual awareness. Yet, despite the great advances in mapping the brain – discovering what areas light up with virtually every form of stimulation and cognitive activity – consciousness still remains a huge mystery. No center or area within the brain has been isolated that can conclusively be said to be the center of consciousness. Brain research in fact seems to be raising more questions about consciousness than it answers.

Meanwhile, the proponents of the other school, by virtue of their belief that consciousness is the function of a deeper reality beyond substance, and that, combined with the fact that the scientific method is limited to examination of the tangible, this school, by definition, looks beyond mere science. Theirs is a different paradigm, where transcendence is also included in the possibilities. Transcendence -- meaning apart from and beyond the material world -- is not a realm that science is designed to explore. So it is that the materialist might dismiss this school of thought as wandering off into the mystical. Yet, when we look, as we will, at the remarkable correlation between the insights of the mystics and observations and insights from the realm of quantum physics, we come to the realization that the materialist’s dismissals may be just a bit too flippant.

The dictionary definition that we began with seems to apply to individuals. What we mean for the purposes of this series however is far more than that. If consciousness is the ground of being – the position we are advancing here -- consciousness certainly cannot be limited to physical brains. Consciousness, if immaterial, must extend beyond individuals. So when we speak of consciousness here, it includes the self-awareness of the Universe as a whole entity. Everything, including humans, is a part of this whole and consciousness pervades all of it, and all is immersed in a sea, or field of consciousness. What I am depicting here represents a metaphysical meaning of consciousness as opposed to the scientific one that the materialist seeks.

In the study of physics, the word “field” is used to describe an area of influence, where a force has a cascading effect throughout the field. This concept is perfectly applicable to consciousness. In this case the field is infinite and includes all that is. As we will see, because the whole of consciousness is contained within the parts, just as the parts make up the whole, every force or bit of activity within consciousness has an effect upon the whole of consciousness.



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