Well, THAT was an unmitigated disaster; if you found it engaging, then thank you; if not, then forgive my rambling, but you cannot say I didn’t warn you.
I’d fallen into the very trap I’d pledged to avoid. What I’m attempting to do here is analyze how consciousness operates in the universe, and not describe what any of the elements is, in and of itself, because with the mind, the brain and consciousness, there is no “in and of itself”, it is a unitary system that can by understood, but not “analyzed”, it won’t break up into component pieces without evaporating “in your hands”. That has always been on essential problem with understanding what consciousness really is, and how it operates. I’ve mentioned the “epi-phenomenon” theorists before; that is the idea that consciousness arises out of neural activity, out of the electro-magnetic energies of neural signals (John Boghosian Arden posits that the “mind” is actually “generated” by the energy of the activity in and through the corpus callosum. Which begs the question, which is the cart, and which is the horse? “Scientists”, materialists/rationalists are loathe to put forth the idea that consciousness is a cause, not a result, because that would entail precisely the problems I’m trying to tackle.
I’m not here to argue the existence of consciousness, intuition, “mind”, but to explore how they operate to create the mind with which we create the universe.
Analysis is difficult because “mind” is not one thing, it is a myriad of perspectives and processes working in conjunction to triangulate in the material world. Consciousness is not one thing, either; it is all things – and that’s the hard part for rataional analysis to comprehend. It’s the GEB thing again – there are questions that can be raised within a system of thought that cannot be answered from within that system, and the solution is to widen your own perspective to encompass the underlying framework; it’s like understanding “understanding” by attaining wisdom – they are of different orders of existence.
This has always been my problem with Lord Bertie’s idea of Logical Positivism, as I have come to understand it. His philosophy is the dead end of rationalism: what I understand is that Russell posits the idea that nothing that cannot be rationaLly explained CAN BE SAID TO BE “real”. and I’m sorry, but that’s like parasailing off the end of the known world. I’m sorry, but I’ve learned more about practical philosophy from Shakespeare than Lord Russell, “There are more things, Horatio…” and that was true 300 years before Lord Russell decided there wasn’t. In British common law, there is such a thing as precedence. Obviously, it didn’t apply to British philosophy.
The Janus Mind, Reason and Intuition
Where do hunches come from, where does insight and inspiration come from? We use these terms like “hunches”, and “intuitions”, “coincidence”, “subconscious”, or “to have a feeling” to label what we can’t comprehend with our rational minds. For modern man, speech itself is part of the rational system of the mind; when we think, when we speak, reason is the basis upon which we construct thought and speech – and the dominance of reason in thought is why any thought or speech that isn’t rooted in reason is perceived as such a threat by the rational mind.
The rational mind is oriented outward, toward the material world, because that is where it does its “work”. There is another (and not Princess Leia, although that may be a helpful metaphor to refer to later, the yin and yang of consciousness) part of the mind that looks in the opposite direction. In Eckhart Tolle’s work, he talks about the inner aspect of existence, and it is through that inner aspect of consciousness that we are connected to the wider universe, directly connected by consciousness with the rest of the entirety of consciousness. It’s not rational, but isn’t that what I’ve been saying? It’s true.
The reason we can even comprehend such a thing today is because of computers; there is a parallel in the real world for the “virtual” existence in the computer world. The mind is not a physical object, it is a “field of information” whose locus is the brain (maybe the corpus callosum itself, as “the seat of consciousness” (sometimes it sure “feels” that way); but it’s ‘virtual’ existence is manifest in the real world. “Consciousness” itself is virtually real, and manifest in the world without physical “objecthood”, which is why it’s always been so hard to get a handle on.
Lao Tzu “knew” this, which is where the wisdom and insights of the Tao Te Ching come from – if you look at consciousness as the subject of the Tao, as that “which cannot be spoken” – well, that was one of my first hints that there was something more here than just a philosophical puzzle, which is how this exploration actually began, as a philosophical not metaphysical search.
Metaphysics is to the philosophy of consciousness as alchemy is to chemistry; an early attempt to label (and thus explain?) what the rational man couldn’t account for. So, in essence, this is not even a metaphysical inquiry, the metaphysical questions (why are we here? what is G∞D? what happens after death?) are purposely and specifically outside the scope this inquiry; this is rather an attempt to dispel the fog of mysticism and metaphysics to understand the underlying framework by which this “non-rational stuff” operates.
So, yes, one of MY Core Beliefs is that if consciousness is as I define it, we are all connected in that “field of awareness” we call consciousness. It exists, just not “materially”; that is so hard for so many to comprehend, I admit that. But this connection is separate from the rational mind, and is another of the safeguards of existence. On the one hand, the rational mind couldn’t operate effectively without the deep underlying connection, but it would wreak nothing but havoc, with direct access to all the information of all of the rest of consciousness.
“Direct access” Here’s another conundrum: We deal with ‘the world’ most directly by use of reason, but reason itself is a mediated process; it takes perception and sensation (the direct input of data from the material world) and makes sense of it; so what we think of as primary is actually secondary, but we are so tied to constructing our “objects of consciousness” through the secondary, mediated system, that we make essential mistake of Lord Russell, and imagine the mediated system to be an unmediated process. The rational “mind” has only access to its own information – thoughts and ideas it’s already been exposed to, but we do have access to information and ideas the rational mind has no way of knowing about.
“Too much knowledge is a dangerous thing”
The corpus callosum is the point of exchange of data, information, understanding and wisdom, between the two lobes of the brain. The limited, rational part of the mind has only mediated access to the unlimited knowledge of consciousness itself, but it can only accept knowledge that already fits into its rational structures.
The exchange between rational and intuitive functions of “mind”, while it goes in both directions, think for a moment about the nature of the interchange; the personal, limited rational mnd, the left-brain, has information for larger consciousness- but comparatively, it’s like a drip compared to the flood of information accessible to the rational mind from the intuitive mind – the intuition pours data over to the rational mind with such force and such abundance that the rational mind can only take in as much as it has room and root for. When you meditate, it‘s almost as if your rational mind stands at the doorway to the intuitive mind, and sees the entirety without being able to take it all in.
When we dream, it seems a jumble and irrational and a much “larger” experience than “reality, because it is. When we sleep, we store the day’s information and add it to the larger repository of information that connects us to ‘Consciousness’. But the rational mind cannot encompass the intuitive ‘knowing’; in a more mechanical image than standing at the doorway, while we sleep, at the same time that the intuition is receiving the day’s data from the rational mind, it is flooding the rational mind with more information about the larger, whole picture in which the individual ‘mind’ is engaged than can be contained, and so is presented in images and analogies and insights the rational mind will need during the next waking cycle. This is why dreams can be so seemingly chaotic, the intuitive mind is delivering so much more information than the rational mind can process that what is perceived of the onslaught from intuition to reason that what we dream is actually the amount of information reason can incorporate; or it’s just the incoming information streaming in such a non-rational way that the rational mind can only pick pieces to comprehend as it goes by. Now, hopefully, that is as metaphysical as I’m going to get.
When we dream, what we are aware of, what we are ‘conscious’ of is the ‘mind’ trying to make rational sense of the onslaught of non-rational, intuitive information. What we dream is the “unpacking” of the intuitive information into the rational structures that already exist in the mind. What we can’t comprehend or encompass, doesn’t register; what we can’t “see”, we don’t “understand”.
I used to have dreams of what Seth refers to as “the Dream City”. It’s an urban environment familiar to my intutional mind, made up of pieces and patches of every “city” experience I’ve ever had, read about, or imagined. I would be traveling uptown or downtown on one of the main arteries, going “somewhere”, Suddenly, I would take a turn from the ‘outside’ street to some kind of ‘internal’ corridor, that allowed for continued travel on the bicycle, moped, or motorcycle that I’d been dreaming of in roughly the same direction. The dream would end when I would find myself at the “end of the road”, I would wind up “down” some rabbit hole or other, trying to find my way back “outside”, so I could continue my journey. I would come to the “end of the line”, have no further to “go”, and wake up. This, I am beginning to believe, is where I was traveling to, in the Dream City.