Is Man Manufacturing Consciousness?


 
I came across the following neuroscience news item at The Guardian earlier today. Not only is the article fascinating breaking science news, it also raises quite intriguing philosophical, moral, metaphysical and spiritual questions that touch on the subjects of mind, consciousness, life, intelligence, and similar other areas of open controversy and debate.

        First almost fully-formed human brain grown in lab, researchers claim

        Research team say tiny brain could be used to test drugs
        and study diseases, but scientific peers urge caution
        as data on breakthrough kept under wraps

      Photograph of lab-grown brain.

      The tiny brain, which resembles that of a five-week-old foetus, is not conscious. Photograph: Ohio State University

      An almost fully-formed human brain has been grown in a lab for the first time, claim scientists from Ohio State University. The team behind the feat hope the brain could transform our understanding of neurological disease.

      Though not conscious the miniature brain, which resembles that of a five-week-old foetus, could potentially be useful for scientists who want to study the progression of developmental diseases. It could also be used to test drugs for conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, since the regions they affect are in place during an early stage of brain development.

      The brain, which is about the size of a pencil eraser, is engineered from adult human skin cells and is the most complete human brain model yet developed, claimed Rene Anand of Ohio State University, Columbus, who presented the work today at the Military Health System Research Symposium in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

      Previous attempts at growing whole brains have at best achieved mini-organs that resemble those of nine-week-old foetuses, although these “cerebral organoids” were not complete and only contained certain aspects of the brain. “We have grown the entire brain from the get-go,” said Anand.

      Anand and his colleagues claim to have reproduced 99% of the brain’s diverse cell types and genes. They say their brain also contains a spinal cord, signalling circuitry and even a retina.

      The ethical concerns were non-existent, said Anand. “We don’t have any sensory stimuli entering the brain. This brain is not thinking in any way.”  [Continue readingThe Guardian, Tuesday 18 August 2015 20.00 BST.]

Now, a number of profound questions come to mind despite the scientists’ assertions, declared good intentions, and assurances. For example, how do they know with certainty that the brain they have made is not conscious or does not possess an unconscious state of awareness at the very least?

They say: “The ethical concerns were non-existent . . . We don’t have any sensory stimuli entering the brain. This brain is not thinking in any way.” How sure are they it is not aware or engaging in a thinking and/or feeling process?

Furthermore, it is theorized and said by scientists that mind is made up of the processes that operate within the brain. Assuming that were the case, would not that brain be engaging in processes which could be said to be its mind then? As a functioning mind, would it not have some measure of intelligence, even perhaps human intelligence itself as provided by the human genetic materials used in creating that brain?

And what if that brain is actually sentient — some form of sentient being with a soul?  What then?

The whole conundrum seems to be the stuff of science fiction and fantasy, but this time it is for real, a real living, growing, developing human brain.

In the movie based on the Mary Shelley novel, Doctor Frankenstein can be heard screaming in demented triumph: “It’s alive! It’s alive! My creation is alive!”  Let’s hope the creature is not a monster.

Frankenstein movie clip

Colin Clive as Doctor Frankenstein in the 1931 horror movie classic “Frankenstein” with Boris Karloff

Share your thoughts about the article with us here. We’d like to hear from your “brain.”


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About Marc of Contemplative Pathways

Marc teaches contemplative meditation in the context of contemporary mysticism. His understanding of the mystical life is rooted in over 30 years of study, practice, unfoldment, realization and experience, in the course of which he has received the gifts of spiritual discernment and transmission. His teaching work meaningfully shifts consciousness in a student through the process and alchemy of mystical transformation. Marc facilitates the mystical teachings under the style of Contemplative Pathways, enabling others to embark on the spiritual journey by learning the Truth teaching and living its principles. He has been conducting classes and meditation meetings in the San Francisco Bay Area in a classroom, lecture, workshop or group practice setting, for over fifteen years. His methodology of instruction is divinely inspired and firmly rooted in pure, authentic mysticism. His approach to the mystical life is essentially nondenominational, nonsectarian, culturally interfaith, spiritually transreligious, and definitively unitive and nondualistic. His other contributions to worldwide spiritual awakening and the global contemplative movement include spiritual mentoring and spiritual healing practice. Within the context of the great shift in consciousness now occurring all over the planet, Marc’s work presently focuses on individual and collective spiritual transformation and healing through the practice of contemplation or meditation, as the vehicle for transcendence and ascension to the higher dimensions of mystical consciousness. He remains firmly committed to the vision of a global spiritual awakening and the divine promise of humanity’s mystical illumination.
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4 Responses to Is Man Manufacturing Consciousness?

  1. cattalina filip says:

    We assume to be persons with consciousness. Nisargadatta Maharaj distinguishes between personal and universal Consciousness. Universal Cosciousness makes possible mind, personal consciousness, etc and he says that it’s not that the body has consciousness, but that Consciousness has bodies. God is Being, Consciousness and Bliss and like the sun is always present, and to know God is to be one with God, to be intermingled in Him. We fail to experience Oness with Him because of the obstacles between, like the sun can be shining everywhere except under a stone. The obstacles are our desires, fears, keeping busy, etc Be still and know that I am God…

    • Thank you for your comments, Cattalina.

      You are right in stating that “God is Being, Consciousness and Bliss.” It is also true that the material body does not give rise to consciousness. In fact, it is the other way around, consciousness being the singular source of all manifest forms. Evidently from a mystical perspective, science has it wrong when it hypothesizes that consciousness is the end product of the mental processes that are set in motion by the activity of the brain. Science seems to be back-engineering their understanding of consciousness without being aware of that fact.

      Insofar as the “obstacles” to experiencing oneness with God are concerned, I have learned that there is only one fundamental obstacle: It is the error held in human awareness that we are “separate and apart from God.” There is no actual separation where God is concerned, but humanly we erroneously entertain a sense of separation from God. As a result, we enter into the experience of the human condition where the conditioned human mind establishes and builds on a belief system based on duality or the human belief in the pair of opposites. The “obstacles” you cited — “desires, fears, keeping busy, etc” — are just symptomatic manifestations of the belief in duality, the spiritual ignorance (what the Christian religion calls the “original sin”) that plagues humankind.

      God or pure consciousness is our very Being and Selfhood because of the oneness that God is. Yet paradoxically, the very goal to experience oneness with God belies and undermines the oneness that we individually already are in God. Experience connotes a subject (the one who experiences) and an object (that which is experienced). Thus, the experience we are seeking becomes a self-defeating exercise in subtly affirming and reinforcing duality instead of realizing oneness.

      There is nothing to experience in God for God is a nothingness (no-thing-ness), emptiness or the void. However, we can realize God as the Self that we are truly. Coming out of such a profound inner realization of the God-Self, we bring with us the awareness of having experienced oneness with God. For this reason, we are instructed to “Be still” (to enter the inner stillness and silence of the Soul), so that we can know the God-Self within the depths of beingness.

      Again, thank you for your sharing.

      In peace, love and oneness,
      Marc

  2. Merveil Meok says:

    Thanks Filip, true, and well said.

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