Tag Archives: Self

What is Consciousness made out of?

Originally posted August 4, 2011

This may seem like an academic question yet it leads directly to the meaning of life. Who among us has not pondered the meaning of life at one time or another?

We know consciousness is real, we know it exists. As René Descartes said, “Je pense, donc je suis” — I think, therefore I exist — meaning that you dear reader know something exists because you are experiencing something right now. Rene might have said “something is being experienced, that is what can be stated with certainty”.

In fact nothing can actually be stated with such great certainty except that consciousness — that which experiences — exists.

So what is this stuff that exists? You and I both experience It.

It is the weirdest stuff around. Everything else is easier for our minds (consciousness itself) to grasp. That too is weird — consciousness finds itself weirder than everything else that it experiences, at least among the scientists who have dodged this question while ironically basing everything else in their cosmology upon the observer — which is the same “Self”/”Consciousness” that science has avoided investigating more deeply.

Matter, energy, time and space seem perfectly normal and reasonable to us. Those are names that we put on aspects of what we experience. Names seem normal and reasonable too. Just not consciousness — it is so ineffable, so hard to grasp, to even think about.

Scientists either avoid the subject entirely or else try to reduce consciousness to events in the brain. The late great physicist Evan Harris Walker in his book The Physics of Consciousness brilliantly posited that consciousness emerges from quantum effects at the synapses of the brain. This however has nothing to do with the experience of consciousness. It is the experience itself that we are interested in, not in how we might explain away these experiences by relating them to physical events. The latter explanations beg the question of which came first — i.e. consciousness could have created the brain rather than vice versa — and although we are culturally biased to consider that sequence absurd, there is no scientific evidence either way. It would be the definition of unscientific to take any position under those circumstances.

Those locked into cultural first assumptions are by definition unable to see past those assumptions or to even see that those assumptions exist.

Try this if you will: focus your mind on the experience of consciousness for a moment. What is it?

To ask what consciousness is made of is itself evidence of our predisposition to assume that substance — matter or energy — is the substrate of the universe, so that everything in the universe must be made out of either matter or energy. This is just a bias.

But let’s play along with that bias for awhile. Is consciousness an energy? Okay, if so, then what is energy? Simply saying that energy is a force or a force field is just replacing one name with another — it does not tell us anything, it adds no new information — we are just playing with words.

Today scientists relate to energy in terms of waves radiating from a source. That itself is an ancient metaphor to waves on the ocean. Scientists assumed for a long time (some still do today) that waves must be waves in something. In Newton’s time the term aether (“ether”) was the stuff the waves were waving. By Einstein’s time and our own the concept of an aether has become passé. Today we are more comfortable thinking that things reduce ultimately to wavicles — things that have both a wave and a particle aspect depending on the choice of instruments and experimental conditions the observer chooses to set up.

Do you begin to see The Great Circular Argument going on here? Really the modeling of “what is” falls back on the way we as humans perceive the world and the ultimate categories we place as contexts around everything else — the way we perceive time and space — the apparent hardness of matter — which we now know is actually the mutual repulsion going on in electromagnetic and nuclear energies at subatomic levels. There is no hardness, it is a subjective readout our brains feed to our consciousness. We are trapped in Plato’s cave, making up possible stories about what is really out there. But what is in here?

The Theory of the Conscious Universe* postulates that everything in the universe reduces to neither matter nor energy, but to INFORMATION. But then what is information?

The clue comes from deconstructing the word into its parts: IN…FORMATION — information is a pattern — a formation. Any pattern is information — even randomness. Since information exists in the form rather than requiring a substance — form and substance being an ancient division of aspects of things going back at least as far as the Vedas — information can exist even in something that is substance-less.

In fact we see this every day in our computers — which contain and send and receive and process information — but that information does not have a concrete substance — it exists when stored as energy/nothingness, as both charge and non-charge, representing zeroes and ones. The nothingness (the zeroes) are as much information as the 1’s (electric charges).

What then is consciousness? It is the Self — the capacity to experience — that which experiences — and the experiences are information received by the consciousness or Self. The information appears to us to be coming from something that has independent existence outside the Self. It appears that hard and/or wet and/or gaseous objects out there are encoded as electromagnetic signals that strike our visual sense organs which then encode them as electrical pulses in our brain — or that strike our apparent body where they are converted to electrical pulses we call touch — or as compactions and expansions of air that cause pressure against our auditory sense organs where again they are converted to electrical pulses in our brain — or as interactions with our taste and smell organs, also winding up as electrical pulses in our brain.

But all of this could actually be taking place in our Self. There might be nothing out there because there might not be an “out there”. Our experience would be the same.

One way or the other, we can definitively state now two things: the Self exists — the Experiencer — and information exists, for this is what gives variation to what we experience. Both the Self and information exist in consciousness — this much can be stated as fact. The rest is supposition.

But why am I capitalizing Self? The answer in our next posting — our response to the question, “What is the meaning of life?”

*The Theory of the Conscious Universe was the working title of my book, “You Are the Universe: Imagine That”, released in 2014.

All the best,

Bill

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Originally posted 2011-08-04 06:42:21. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Maximizing the Emotional Fullness of Life

Originally posted July 28, 2011

The Theory of the Conscious Universe was the working title of my book, “You Are the Universe: Imagine That”, released in 2014.

Why I am writing about this subject — The Theory of The Conscious Universe?

To explain let me go back a few thousand years to the earliest philosophers — folks like Thales and Epictetus, Socrates and the many other earliest thinkers at the dawn of written language.

Philosophy itself means the love of knowing. “Knowing” itself was one of the first subjects of philosophy — philosophers asked “what is knowing?” and “how is it possible that knowing can exist?” This sub-field of philosophy is called epistemology, as you may know.

Significantly, the root of the word “knowing” is “to see” — you may recall that in an earlier post I pointed out that being primates whose dominant sense is sight, we humans put seeing on a higher pedestal than our other four physical senses.

To me the two most important words that explain why philosophy exists are “wonder” and “awe”. These primal feelings/intuitions are the driver of philosophy, and it was philosophy that gave rise to art and culture, science and technology, morality and religion. First we had those feelings, then intuitions arose to guide us in the right direction to realize unspoken questions and to figure out the best ways of trying to seek answers. Without those feelings where would we be today? Perhaps still in trees.

Growing up I was unwittingly recapitulating the race’s ontogeny — feeling those feelings and being led through the same kinds of intuitions the early philosophers had, even before I could read such works and discover that others had been there long before me.

Freud called these feelings “the oceanic experience” (highly recommended reading: Freud’s Civilization and its Discontents). He postulated that religion came from this sense of something larger than ourselves. Remarkably, there may be nothing larger than our Self, if The Theory of The Conscious Universe is the right explanation of the meaning of life. Our Self may be the only thing that actually exists, and the cause of everything that we experience. In fact this idea is the core of The Theory of The Conscious Universe: all that exists is a single Consciousness, capable of “entertaining” Itself by making virtual copies of Itself, each of which shares the experience of being a self, and may be denied full or partial memory of who it really is. The Original Observer sees through the eyes (or other sensory equipment) of the virtual copies and the copies may or may not be(come) aware of the looker above who is also seeing out their eyes.

So back to my reason for these writings, despite the fact that the daily interests of my dear readers may be focused totally elsewhere. The reason is this: The Theory of The Conscious Universe bears the promise of an ability to restore the magic of life, without the need to take things on faith, engage in superstition, or follow rituals which to some may not feel natural. If it is true that Consciousness is the supreme nature of the Universe, and that each of us is a reflection and a particularization of the Absolute Consciousness in a sacred game making each of us a unique and important experiment in a celestial and divine process, and that this in no way steps away from the scientific method and the disciplines of scientific thinking — then how much emotional fullness might be restored into everyone’s daily lives by recognizing this heritage?

Who among us has not had the experience of lying on your back in the grass looking up at the stars and suddenly feeling elevated, understanding deep down the importance and the excitement of the journey we are all on, and the hugeness of it all and our inextricable connection to it all? But after childhood, how much of this living large feeling makes it into our daily lives? Are we not ground down into pettiness? Do we not still yearn to feel the greatness of our existence each second of every day?

Even before proving that The Theory of The Conscious Universe is true, simply the fact that it could be true is enough to place all religion into a new light, as scientific possibility. In fact it would be unscientific to rule out the core truth of all religion, without having disproven it.

The unity and integrity of having all things inside oneself integrated into a wholeness of purpose, a meaningfulness, makes life emotionally full. In a highly rational culture such as ours has been since the Golden Age of Greece, we subconsciously are unable to get in touch with the greatest feelings we can have, unless we can square those feelings with the rational strictures in our minds. The Theory of The Conscious Universe can do that, without appeal to faith, because it is a scientific explanation for “what is”, which lines up with what we know from Quantum Mechanics (QM) and Relativity, and can explain why it is that time and space exist in our subjective experience and yet are not really there according to these cutting edge sciences.

That’s why I share The Theory of The Conscious Universe. It has restored the magic of life to me, and I wish to share that magical feeling with as many people as possible. Especially you people who have touched my life and to whom I am grateful for what you have taught and given me.

All the best,

Bill

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Originally posted 2011-07-28 18:09:03. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

The Theory of the Conscious Universe: Where Is the Self in the Brain?

Originally posted July 16, 2011

The Theory of the Conscious Universe was the working title of my book, “You Are the Universe: Imagine That”, released in 2014.

Picture the neurons in the brain as strings in a violin. Now picture them as superstrings. The brain is both.

In a previous posting we discussed the different “selves” that each individual has within him/herself, which are formed out of associational clusters of neurons constructed in the brain by our experiences after we are born.

These different selves in the software layer are not places amongst the neurons. Not quite. Each self is a particular conversation amongst neurons, and each self is evoked using specific places in the brain where those memories reside.

Each such “self” is a particular dance of the neurons.

Behind all this is the self you were born with.

This raises a semantic issue: the meaning of the word “self”. David Brooks, for example, says in his book THE SOCIAL ANIMAL, “Even up to age three, children don’t seem to get the concept of self-consciously focused attention. They assume that the mind goes blank when there is no outside thing bidding for its attention.”

Elsewhere in the book he says “You are the spiritual entity that emerges out of the material networks in your head.”

In reading this excellent and thought-provoking book, I get the feeling that he means exactly what he says in the prior sentence — that matter comes first, and that the self is part of the mind that arises out of the contacts we have with the rest of the world, and how those experiences dictate the laying down of neurons and connections in our brain.

Now, David is obviously a humanist who talks about moments of transcendence, and emphasizes the importance of emotions and the unconscious mind. At the same time he is probably a materialist, not in the popular social sense but rather as in the philosophy term of art, meaning he believes that matter appears ahead of mind in the timeline of the universe.

After all, read his last sentence above, once more. He is saying that your Self is what emerges out of the neurons that have connected since your birth. Whatever unconscious hard-wired genetic/instinctual predispositions you had at birth did not comprise your true self. To David, “You” remained self-less until your brain was sufficiently formed to where the self-ness function turned on — when you had enough contact with the rest of the world to emerge as a distinct self.

Here we would differ. I take the Self to be an experiential phenomenon. Not an abstract word. Practically every other word that we use refers to an object or something we see outside the Self. The word “Self” however has as its referent the actual ineffable experience you are having right now of being you. Reducing that to a word can be very useful, but can also be counterproductive if it gets us to think of Self as just another “thing” like all the others we perceive. The Self is not like anything else. It is in a class by itself. It is the only thing we know really exists. It is the Knower itself. Everything else is something we perceive indirectly through the physics of perception.

That is what I mean by Self and I suspect with that as a stipulated definition, David would probably agree with what I am saying here.

Once we start to perceive, our Self is lit up — we are the experiencer. If those perceptions start in the womb, or when we take our first breath, we likely have no notion of what is going on. Later, that experiencer undergoes various levels of evolution and becomes self-aware (has what David calls an “inner narrator that he thought of as himself”), and then later capable of looking at his/her own feelings objectively (what David calls “equipoise”). And even capable of Knowing Itself As Universe in moments of what David calls “self-transcendence” — moments when we lose the sense of separateness.

The Self is the experiencer. What the neurons lay down is the software layer. Sometimes, as David acknowledges, there is a fight for control among parts of the brain; we would say that the fight for control also includes one other part besides the ones considered in THE SOCIAL ANIMAL: THE ORIGINAL EXPERIENCER.

The Original Experiencer. The Self that was always there, before these levels of self-awareness that David represents as the step-off point for the Self. The ineffable spark of selfness that you have even before you can see yourself as separate or start to self-narrate or start to decide whether you are lost in bliss or somewhere else. The Self you have when your mind is empty. We would argue this is your true self, not the concoction of neuronal dances that you have going on all the time as a result of your experiences.

This is an important choice to consider in terms of your own thinking, I would submit.

What has all of this, however, got to do with The Theory of the Conscious Universe?

The Theory of the Conscious Universe postulates that the Universe is a single consciousness, is the single Self that exists, and that the Self lives through all Its creations.

As we shall demonstrate in upcoming blog postings, this conception of what we are can explain every detectable phenomenon within an Occam’s Razor scientific model fully synchronous with quantum mechanics (QM).

Because of the importance of consciousness in explaining our “Theory of the Conscious Universe”, we began this posting by talking about when the Self arises — what I call the experiencer. We can’t talk about TTOTCU without first discussing these basic issues.

In describing what consciousness is and how it works we will make frequent analogies to the way computers work. We will explain why we doubt that robots can ever be made to experience, unless they are based on genetic technology, in which case they will not be robots. Yet we will also explain our odd hypothesis that consciousness exists in everything.

As we go along, you may find all the hypotheses in The Theory of the Conscious Universe odd — or perfectly obvious (latter group please send me an email — I’d like to chat).

So, what if anything does this have to do with the primary work of the Human Effectiveness Institute (“THEI”)? Our mission is to enhance human effectiveness. One way of doing this is by freeing the mind of constricting limiting notions that may be based on totally inaccurate pictures of reality.

Best to all,

Bill

Follow my regular media blog contribution, “In Terms of ROI“ at MediaVillage.com under MediaBizBloggers. Read my latest post.

Originally posted 2011-07-16 10:35:16. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Are you getting enough pleasure out of your life?

Originally posted April 14, 2015

If you’re not, you’ve got to fix that. No one else is going to do it for you.

ability to re-create ourselves

All that exists is now, this moment, so you can’t be putting off fun to some hoped-for future. If you’re not getting it right now, this very day, you’re not playing to win at the game of life; you’re trapping yourself in illusion and accepting second best.

What’s stopping you from seizing the day and living your dreams, right this very moment? Very likely it’s the deep dark repressed (or expressed) belief that you don’t have the power to change your life into the ideal vision you had for it. Especially now, when so much time has passed, and you’ve got negative momentum leading away from the goal.

If everybody sees you one way, how could it ever be even imaginable that the consensus reality could ever change that dramatically? It’s a deep and true intuition we feel in our gut that when so many minds are tuned to one way, getting all those minds to change very much is literally unthinkable. Yet it is truly miraculous how much those minds can change once you’ve changed your own.

The Ouroboros, a Greek symbol that Carl Jung said was the first symbol used by humanity, is a snake holding its own tail in its mouth, forming a circle. It has many meanings, some “good”, some “bad”. The positive meaning is that we have the ability to constantly re-create ourselves.

The “bad” interpretation refers to the fact that when we have a mental block, like believing we cannot live our dream, the belief comes true only because of the belief itself. The intellect alone cannot get itself out of such traps by understanding them. The whole self working together has to turn the great ship in the water with ever building strength and momentum. Without unity among all parts of oneself, the negative belief will unfortunately be borne out.

You get to unity inside through the Observer state, which makes you more creative and effective at changing the conditions that cause negative emotions or perceptions.  To get to the Observer state you meditate on your own self, observing your mind’s machinations in minute detail perhaps for the first time with such sustained energy. This causes a breakthrough in which the Observer state becomes second nature and you find yourself slipping in and out of the even higher Flow state — higher in the sense of higher performance, greater effectiveness and more creative thinking.

In these higher states you can unravel the Ouroboros and make sure the energy is flowing in the right direction, consuming minutiae thoughts and low-level feelings as they arise, like a rising phoenix burning the worthless dross to reveal the gold of your inner genius.

Best to all,

Bill

Read the latest post at my media blog, “In Terms of ROI“ at MediaVillage.com

Originally posted 2015-04-14 11:06:24. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

The Second Cornerstone: Mindfulness

Originally posted March 24, 2015

First you must still the mind - Bill Harvey

In last week’s post, we made the point that better decision-making and higher performance is achieved mainly through Positive Thinking and Mindfulness. We included tools to increase Positive Thinking, which we also call Solution Orientation. We promised to investigate the nature of Mindfulness in this post.

Mindfulness is a form of attention control.

The need to be master of one’s own attention has gotten progressively greater over the centuries as a result of information overload and its distractive effects. We have given this condition the name Acceleritis™, the vast increase in the amount of information needing to be processed by our brains each day. ADD, ADHD, and a fairly obvious reduction in the general population’s ability to stay focused on one problem long enough to solve it, have been the result.

Watch a video about the cure for Acceleritis.

The need for Mindfulness has never been greater.

The Vedas, some of the earliest writings on the planet, recommend three yogic mental/ emotional methods to achieve the conscious and willful control of our attention.

  • Concentration is the focus of the mind on a single object.
  • Contemplation is the focus of the mind on a single subject.
  • Meditation is the contemplation of the Self.

What then is Mindfulness?

We define Mindfulness as the optimal allocation of attention for maximum effectiveness. When one is mindful, attention optimally allocates both inwardly and outwardly at the same time. This helps us understand our own motivations in the moment, to consider not only our needs but the needs and probable responses of others, and to greatly improve what fighter pilots call situational awareness. This is in sharp distinction from our typical behavior, which is to allocate virtually all attention outwardly whenever the eyes are open.

It takes attention and effort to be mindful, but practicing persistent mindfulness not only allows us to be more present in each moment, it also allows us to shift into a higher state of consciousness to reach the Observer state more often and launch into the Zone or Flow state, the highest known state of consciousness in which right actions seem to do themselves effortlessly.

Mindfulness and Positive Thinking with a solution orientation — overleaping the focus on the problem once it is defined and going right to the focus on the solution — are the cornerstones of what I practice to achieve superior decisions, highest effectiveness, and creative innovation in all aspects of my life. Try this approach for yourself to see if it works for you.

Best to all,

Bill

Read the latest post at my media blog, “In Terms of ROI“ at MediaVillage.com

Originally posted 2015-03-24 12:35:08. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Rediscovering that Ancient Territory: Your Own Mind — Revisited

Originally posted February 10, 2015

All of us are naturally curious about our own selves. When someone who knew us when, someone older, tells us a story about something we did when we were too young to remember it, we are raptly attentive.

Looking inward at oneself is the first step toward clarity.

If it were not for the culturally ubiquitous time pressure, we would have the same curiosity if offered a searchlight method to see more deeply into our own mind than ever before. Here we offer just such a searchlight.

This posting is a brief exploration into the architecture of inner experience and offers tools to look into your inner Self, through observation and experience. Why bother? Because in order to get into the two higher, most effective states of consciousness — the Observer State, where we can really see what is going on inside ourselves rather than being puppeteered by software in our heads, and the Flow state (Zone), where we are spontaneously doing everything just right — we need to become experts in the empirical study of our own minds and inner life.

What Is the Architecture of Our Inner Life?

Carl Jung defined the four functions of consciousness as perception, feelings, intellect and intuition — the latter referred to in day-to-day life as “hunches”. These are four kinds of events that can go on in consciousness.

Within consciousness, what we experience first is something inside that motivates us and moves us toward or away from something. Those are feelings. Instincts — hardwired genetic carryovers inherited before birth — are partly responsible for some or all of our feelings. The rest arise from motivations we accumulated during our lives, stuff we learned or decided to want or not want as a result of our experiences since birth.

So what are these things you call your thoughts, your feelings, your hunches, your perceptions? Consider, or reconsider, all of the experiences you have had of your own mind, your own inner life.

When I watch what goes on inside of me, it often starts with a feeling that is also somehow an image at the same time. Another part of me then takes that feeling/image and interprets it as a conscious thought — putting names, categorizations, and other specific recognizable details onto the original amorphous feeling/image.

I think that’s what a thought is. An interpreted feeling/image. Diverging from Jung, I posit that thoughts and feelings are the same thing, at different stages of development.

Thoughts add details to feelings/images, turning them into specifications, bringing out additional information that had somehow been packed into the feeling/image.

Possibly feelings are the most substantial and primary actor, coming out of our most intimate connection with our self, and arising to be transmuted into intuitions and/or thoughts and/or emotions and/or images/visions.

Perceptions coming in from the “outside” accompanied by an equal stream of feelings from “inside” suggests that feelings are another sense, like seeing and hearing. In which case, we simply perceive, and the rest of the functions are what evolves from our perceptions. In other words, feelings are inner perceptions, and what we call sense perceptions are outer perceptions. Inner and outer perceptions are the raw stuff of experience, and as we turn them over in our minds, those perceptions turn into thoughts and/or intuitions.

I suggest that perceptions evolve into what Jung classified as thoughts (intellect) and/or hunches (intuition). Outer perceptions — the five physical senses — are what Jung called “perceptions” — and the inner perceptions are what Jung called “feelings”. In my own experience, the raw stuff of my inner life is comprised of feeling/image arisings that I then articulate internally as thoughts, with either words or not, or observe as hunches, without inner words.

Intellect and intuition have always been seen as similar functions. Intellect reaches new conclusions step by effortful step. Intuition gets there in one leap, involuntarily, all by itself. Sometimes when the intuition or hunch is particularly credible and important and came out of nowhere, we call it inspiration, suggesting help from some outside invisible source.

The Searchlight to Our Inner Self

We need maps to study consciousness. We also need meditation to concentrate on seeing what really goes on inside by understanding the basic building blocks of all inner experience — thoughts, feelings, intuitions, and perceptions.

Try this. Find five minutes when you can’t be interrupted and there is nothing dragging you away like a deadline. You might not find time to try this until the weekend, so leave yourself a note somewhere you’ll see it Saturday or Sunday morning.

Sit with your eyes closed and back straight, with your head drawn up toward the ceiling. First, still the mind by experiencing your breath going in and out, without trying to control the breath in any way. After a half-dozen breath cycles or whenever you feel as if your mind is relatively still, begin the exercise.

Now simply watch for what happens at the very beginning of a thought or feeling. A thought or a feeling is going to arise. You are in a state of concentrated sharp attention and the game is to see that arising as quickly as possible, identify what it is, and be able to remember the experience of it as accurately as possible.

This is not as easy as it sounds because we tend to get so instantly caught up in the thought or feeling we forget that we are doing this exercise. That is, until through exercises like this, we find that we have gained true control of our minds in a gradual process that we get better and better at over time. By looking inside, we can begin to cut through dogma and other people’s beliefs, and see for ourselves who we are in our inner worlds.

Best to all,

Bill

Read the latest post at my media blog  “In Terms of ROI“ at MediaVillage.com.

Originally posted 2015-02-10 12:51:34. Republished by Blog Post Promoter