Tag Archives: Vedas

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

The Theory of the Conscious Universe: The Roots

Featuring: A Movie in Your Mind

Originally posted July 11,2011

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

An area in which the Human Effectiveness Institute focuses is the interface between psychology and physics. The ultimate nature of reality is what all of us assume physics is studying, while the nature of mind is what psychology studies.

However, picture a future in which psychology reaches what we might call the complete circumnavigation of the mind. Everything about human psychology is understood, and animal psyk too. Psychoanalysts working with the new perfect model have the same success rate as today’s hip replacements, and in about the same turnaround time. People are pretty much always happy, except for short lapses so as not to forget what the other emotions feel like, or lose their functionality through disuse. Got that envisioned?

Okay, we are together living in that future world and we have all read the popularizations of the ultimate psychology. We get it, it makes our lives work better, we are proud that the human race has achieved such an accomplishment.

Then, in this sci-fi movie we are playing in our minds, a problem arises: physics arrives at the same place as psychology. Physics, too, explains everything in its field. We know how the Big Bang happened and why. We know why there is a universe at all. Our picture leaves nothing out, everything is solved. We finally solve the 400 BC conundrum of which came first, matter or mind.

The problem is this: the physics picture totally overturns the psychology picture.

Then what do we do?

Obviously, at that point the hero/ine gets to work and we see time cuts of the hard work it takes (movies are great at condensing that part) and – voila! The old theory is ingeniously twisted 90 degrees and it clicks perfectly with the new model, and now the population is not always just happy, the entire population rises to the level of genius, is always in flow state, art flourishes and enriches culture, each individual becomes fully realized in all good potentials inherent at birth, the awe and magic of life is restored and never again forgotten even for a moment, psychic and/or telepathic abilities bloom gradually in everyone, and – most important of all – each individual is in total fusion with God.

Yes I said the dread word that causes materialism-philosopher-scientists (MPS) to stop reading. You see scientists have always been philosophers too. We have always had a segment of MPS and another segment of idealism-philosopher-scientists (IPS). Daniel Goleman or David Brooks might well write a book about the relative contributions to science of MPS versus IPS scientists – it would make fascinating reading. Newton of course was IPS. Quite capable of debating fine points of IPS with Leibniz, another idealist philosopher of the time who was a mathematician rather than scientist (Newton was all of these things). Mathematicians and scientists have always produced greater science by working together, and probably greater mathematics too.

The word “God” has meaning to IPS but causes shutdown to MPS. My guess is that those MPS still reading to this point are only reading so as to refute whatever my point might be in all this.

Before I get to the point, let’s stop for a moment to make a fix that has been long in coming. Roughly 2500 years overdue. The term of art “Idealism” when used in juxtaposition with “Materialism” is a confusing misnomer since the word “Idealism” has other meanings used far more frequently. Time to change the term, so let’s first understand where it came from. It was Plato.

Plato of course had heard similar thoughts and was putting them together more concisely and less mystically so everyone could understand them. Qabala contains similar thoughts, for example, and everything thinkable exists somewhere in the tradition of India, captured in written language since the Vedas.

The Idea is that there are multiple levels of reality. In the Absolute Plane of Reality, Ideas exist. They are the perfect embodiment of themselves. The Ideal Chair is the most often used example in philosophy courses –that’s sure getting old. “Ideal” in the sense of “Idea” and also in the sense of “Perfect Embodiment” and “Archetype”.

At any rate, there are these Ideas floating around in the realest plane of reality, and down here on these lower planes (Qabala has four levels, some Indian texts also, but other interpretations have infinite levels – Qabala calls this Jacob’s Ladder) we have shadow imitations of those Ideal Ideas, imperfect replicas intermixing all the Ideas in sort of a stew.

Here on Earth we exist in the lowest of the planes in hard material reality, sometimes called the Visible World. To Plato we are as if in a cave watching shadows on a wall cast by something outside the cave we cannot see.

Without attaching to the history of the term, I’ve laid it out here to show the trail. This is how the great debate got to be called “Materialism versus Idealism”.

What instead should it be called? The debate is trying to solve the question of which came first, mind or matter — which of these is the actual basis of reality, the ultimate quantum plane from which the universe arises.

About 400 years ago, by the way, Hume and Berkeley, Leibniz and Spinoza and Kant and many others drove a period of philosophy where mind came first, before matter.

Today the view that is baked into the average person including scientists is that matter is the supreme substance of the universe. Ironically, the most far-out physicists are now heading back in the other direction toward mind or an intermixture, and gradually the culture is slowly following them. This is not discussed philosophically by the average person, who may nevertheless detect a drift back into what s/he would call a spiritual direction.

We would prefer that the debate be called “Materialism vs. Mindism” or “Materialism vs. Consciousness as Prime”. That’s what it always has been about. The “Mind Came First” position in this debate does not necessarily have to be locked into Plato’s multiple-levels theory, as there are many theories that could be built around the “Mind Came First” position.

“But how could that possibly be?” one thinks, still in the current culture that assumes materialism without even knowing that one is doing so.

After all, Carl Sagan told hundreds of millions of viewers that after the Big Bang occurred due to forces we do not yet comprehend, bits of matter started to assemble due to electromagnetic forces we do understand. At a certain point they formed the Replicator molecule – akin to viruses – robotical pseudo-life. And then just impelled by these random collisions of electromagnetic forces, this process continued to evolve and build itself up until consciousness emerged.

We all mostly bought it, didn’t we? I must confess I didn’t – it seemed like random waves on a beach could build beautiful sand castles if I just sat around for a googletillion years. I still can’t convince my gut of this.

So what is this Theory of the Conscious Universe I was supposed to talk about? Please excuse the tease, but I promised I would lay out the roots here. Now that I’ve established the roots, in the next postings I will get on to the theory.

Best to all,

Bill

I would like to invite you to a free ARF webinar I am presenting next week on April 18. A featured section will propose standards for ethical use of psychological data.

Originally posted 2011-07-11 06:17:46. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Step Away from Business as Usual

Originally posted December 8, 2015
Volume 5, Issue 41

This summer vacation season is anything but Business as Usual, and with it comes the opportunity to step away from the ordinary. Life in general is more complex than ever — we rush through our days trying to keep up and we tend to miss so much of what and who is around us. This is not conducive to being in the moment, open to the opportunities to be more present and engaged in our everyday lives, at our jobs, and with our families and friends.

Being master of our own attention has become progressively more challenging over the centuries, since the advent of written language some 3000 years ago and the resulting information overload. We often do not take time to ponder and instead we charge on, driven by rationalizing assumptions below the level of our own awareness. With hordes of distracting clutter in our daily lives creating a state we call Acceleritis™, most of us believe we “do not have time” to be in the moment, fully enjoying every second.

The need for Mindfulness has never been greater. Mindfulness has been used going back to the Vedas as a tool to remind us to pay attention — but to what? Mindfulness is about paying attention to both the events outside us as well as what’s going on inside — at the same time.

The miracle of another perfect day. Had to pull over to capture this moment. – Phil Howort, photographer

We need to step back from our demanding environments from time to time in order to really figure out our priorities — to fully contemplate and reflect on our lives, our relationships, our passion work, and where we’re heading.

Every moment we face choices. We make these choices in the context of how we view our options, but in our distracted rushed state we usually don’t consider all of our options. We often make random choices on how and with whom to spend our time and where to exert our energy, without realizing we are squandering an opportunity to stop and focus on our real priorities. Being mindful in the moment may allow for something unimaginable and superb to emerge.

We all need to bring mindfulness into more corners of our lives. We might have perfect mindfulness on the basketball court, stage or operating room, but lack it in our living room, bedroom or boardroom. Life offers a plethora of opportunities to learn how to be mindful across the spectrum of life.

During this summer vacation season, let’s take a break from our usual ways of doing things. Let’s not miss yet another opportunity to live in the moment.

The moment is always new, everything starts again now, unencumbered by whatever has gone before. Each moment is an opportunity for a fresh start, an opportunity to connect to the miracle of Life in the present.

My Best to All,

Bill

Follow my regular media blog, In Terms of ROI at Media Village. Here is the link to my latest post.

Originally posted 2015-12-08 12:00:43. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Positive Thinking + Mindfulness = Mind Magic

Volume 3, Issue 23

People are always saying to me, “Bill, you’re one of the most positive people around.” While I take it as a high compliment, I am always thinking “How do I convey that positive thinking is not enough?”

Positive thinking is one of the cornerstones of success, Zone level performance, ability to withstand and meet challenges, ability to be happy… it is necessary but positive thinking alone is not sufficient to achieve all these things: there is more to psychotechnology.

The other cornerstone is mindfulness. The two main threads running through my book Mind Magic and through me might be summed up as combining those two mind techniques. That would be reductionism but it would not be way off base.

The thing about positive thinking is that it’s an idea all of us know by now, and it is not easy for most people to practice it. Many of the books on the subject exhort people to think positively and prove why it is important but they don’t tell the reader how to stay positive in the face of perceived threats, disappointments or other mood negators.

Actually achieving and maintaining a state of positive thinking as the natural equilibrium of the individual requires a number of component accomplishments including the toning down of excessive attachment to specific outcomes.

I didn’t set out to be a positive thinker. A philosopher by nature, like all children I wondered about everything, I just wondered more systematically, and in a bulldog fashion. I really wanted to figure things out. The positive thinking came along with a lot of other discoveries.

As a philosopher I am attracted to pragmatism. This moves the mind toward positive thinking as a side effect. From a pragmatic point of view, one does not start with positive thinking, but with questions as to what is our goal or purpose, and then what means will get us there. In the context of pragmatism, anything but positive thinking is an obvious waste of time and energy; negative handwringing for example is staying in the problem definition phase when it’s time to move on to the solution phase.

Having been led to positive thinking via pragmatism, I was then able to see the value of projecting positively, pre-visualizing positively, and communicating positively as simply more effective at achieving goals. I didn’t do those things out of a belief in thinking positively, but because I saw that they worked.

It might be more accurate (and less reductionist) to say that I took the best things I saw in all philosophies to bake my own philosophy. Pragmatism, operationalism, the stoicism of Epictetus, Hemingway’s fatalism, the Vedas, Kabbalah, Taoism, Buddhism, John Stuart Mill’s “greatest good for the greatest number”, and Zen (with apologies to all the others not mentioned for space/time reasons).

Still, pragmatism runs deep. What am I trying to accomplish? It sometimes can be simply to have fun — fun being conducive to the Flow state. Encourage the development of long-term goals to help people supervene short-term goals. What can I control and what must I accept? Non-attachment to outcome is key. Take the right action and let the chips fall as they may. Pre-visualize success.

Positive thinking is a corollary of pragmatism.

Mindfulness is something else again and another necessary component though insufficient without positive thinking. More on mindfulness in the next post.

Best to all,

Bill

Follow my regular blog contribution at Jack Myers Media Network: In Terms of ROI. It is in the free section of the website at  Bill Harvey at MediaBizBloggers.com. 
 

Doing Is Just One Way of Being

Volume 3, Issue 17

Effectiveness peaks in Flow state when the mind/body duality collapses and everything is One — the Zone. One of the obstacles to this condition is the predisposition that one must always be doing something.

This “Doing” hidden assumption has deep roots: the Work Ethic and industriousness virtue we were taught, the sense that while others are suffering one’s duty is to never stop searching for solutions, the inforush that has been accelerating since the cave paintings (which I call Acceleritis), the caffeine culture, the systemically out of whack mounting economic pressure, the TO-DO List that is never done, the admiration we feel for people bouncing with energy. Although the situation has been pandemic for millennia, it is so pronounced in Manhattan that New Yorkers traveling anywhere else sense everybody else as too laid back.

The first serious recorded psychology on the planet (the Vedas), which was set down some 3500 years ago, not long after the beginnings of Acceleritis, noticed this tendency as one of the three qualities of being, Rajas, the addiction to action (vs. Tamas, the addiction to rest, and Sattva, the addiction to knowing). The Vedas called these the three qualities of existence rather than using the negative term “addictions”, which is the author’s own perspective. This perspective sees anything deviating from pure observation, as a motivational drive, which only in the extreme literally becomes an addiction.

The good thing behind the Doing state of mind, beside often good intentions, is that there is a wellspring of creativity bursting to be channeled outward into something. One might be extremely grateful finding this creative drive inside. The point of this post is that the channeling of this drive is a science and an art to study and, yes, at certain times, control.

Being able to hold back the impulse to Doing confers the Observer state. The Observer state is the access portico into the Flow state, and it is easier to willfully switch into Observer state than it is to flip oneself by act of will into Flow state directly. Catching oneself assuming that one ought to be doing something, and arresting that assumption, is one of the easiest ways to get into the Observer state. Here is an exercise. More on this in our next post. 

Best to all,

Bill 

PS — New York tri-state area theater lovers, if you can, go see “The Outgoing Tide” at Ellenville NY’s Shadowland Theater. One of the most moving experiences on or off Broadway. Ends run in just a few days, June 16.

Follow my regular blog contribution at Jack Myers Media Network: In Terms of ROI. It is in the free section of the website at  Bill Harvey at MediaBizBloggers.com.

Entering and Sustaining Flow by How Much of the Mind Is Cooperating at One Time

Volume 3, Issue 4

Continuing our theme of recent posts, we are contemplating and “unpacking” Buddha’s root notion that mindfulness plus comprehension is the one route to true human happiness.

And we are relating that notion to our theory of Holosentience, wherein the brain and mind operate most perfectly and effectively when the sentience, or self-awareness, gathers itself into a wholeness exclusionary of nothing — when the selfness is so complete it disappears into absorption with the wholeness of experience in the now.

In earlier posts we posited that the physical brain is in Flow state (the Zone) when all parts of the brain are contributing and processing harmoniously. Below Flow in perfection is Observer state, where the self has a degree of objective detachment from its own emotional and cognitive arisings. In this state the prefrontal cortex is postulated to be in control though the whole brain is not yet in synchronistic action. These hypotheses are not yet supported by conclusive evidence.

Below the Observer state is what in the last 6000 years of recorded history has been called the normal state of waking consciousness, which I judge to be a state of brain process division far from Flow, and which I attribute to the information overload produced since written language was invented. I call this phenomenon Acceleritis. This lowest mental state I call Emergency Oversimplification Procedure (EOP) meaning that the mind is cutting corners to get things done despite being overloaded, overwhelmed, torn into warring bits, and confused.

Mindfulness is a word that has the connotation of striving for itself. The word has been used going back to the Vedas (the term is again on an upswing) as a tool to remind the seeker that he and she must remember to be mindful, to pay attention — but to what? To both the events around and outside oneself, and the ones inside. At the same time. “Inside” and “outside” both being constructs of the mind. In effect, “mindfulness” is the trigger word for the Observer state — a mnemonic device to remind oneself how to get out of EOP.

For my entire lifetime I have had the intuition of a common natural evolution of mindfulness and comprehension that is accessible internally to each of us. We don’t need outside inputs to discover it. So I have spent most of my life unpacking that intuition into communicable language. And articulating the intuitive cookie-crumb trail that is leading me myself back from EOP into Flow. In doing so I intuit myself to be reiterating the communication of the psychotechnology that resides within each of us, which others throughout history have also communicated, using language more common to their times, and often using metaphors when explicit language was challenged by a lack of models. Living today I have the advantage of the existence of models of information processing that are for the first time in history ideal for articulating what goes on experientially in our consciousness, since in our theory consciousness is an information processing system.

To be continued next week, with more techniques for attaining Observer state and making the transition to Flow.

Best to all,

Bill