Consciousness

 
Science and the Rise of Contemporary Mysticism
During the last few centuries leading up to the rise of the modern era in the 20th century, scientific inquiry began to look into the nature of consciousness. This development became evident initially in the field of psychology. Then, the metaphysical and “new age” movements of the 19th and later 20th centuries started tapping into the rising public interest in the so-called “new physics” of theoretical physics, quantum mechanics, astrophysics and cosmology. Not long after, a science of consciousness emerged from within the metaphysical and “new age” circles in the west, alongside the influx of influential consciousness, mind-control and meditation teachings from the eastern cultural traditions.


[Acknowledgments to Closer To Truth for publishing the video above on YouTube.]



By the mid-20th century, western psycho-spiritual thinking and eastern mystical influences had jelled into a modern revival of mysticism with a more contemporary flavor. This contemporary mysticism with its science of consciousness took root and continues to thrive and grow well into the postmodern 21st century, where it is finding increasing validation by new scientific disciplines of brain study and mind research such as neuroscience and artificial intelligence, and by recent major advances notably in the speculative areas of quantum science, astrophysics and cosmology.


[Acknowledgments to TED Talks for the video above on neuroscientist Anil Seth’s talk on consciousness.]

Today, we, who are living in the early 21st century, are witnessing how science grapples with profound questions dealing with intelligence, the brain, the mind, and human consciousness, itself, as well as the age-old questions regarding the origins of the universe and life and the purpose of existence, itself. Newer fields of scientific inquiry, such as theoretical physics, cosmology, quantum physics, robotics and artificial intelligence, genetic and biological engineering, neuroscience, among others, are taking us on fantastic voyages of mind-blowing discovery and tremendous knowledge.

The video below is a remarkable lecture given by neuroscientist Anil Seth. Anil Seth is Professor of Cognitive and Computational Neuroscience at the University of Sussex in the U.K., where he is also Co-Director of the Sackler Centre for Consciousness Science. He is Editor-in-Chief of Neuroscience of Consciousness and is on the steering group and advisory board of the Human Mind Project. He has written popular science books, including 30 Second Brain, and contributes to a variety of media including The New Scientist, The Guardian, and the BBC. In his lecture he looks at the neuroscience of consciousness and how our biology gives rise to the unique experience of being us. Professor Seth provides an insight into the state-of-the-art research in the new science of consciousness. Distinguishing between conscious level, conscious content and conscious self, he describes how new experiments are shedding light on the underlying neural mechanisms in normal life as well as in neurological and psychiatric conditions.

[Acknowledgments to The Royal Institution for publishing the video of Anil Seth’s lecture on YouTube.]


Now let’s take the time and opportunity to expand the human mind by considering the vastness, the infinity, of consciousness, aided by our increasing understanding of the cosmos.


[Acknowledgments to Follow The Evidence for publishing the video on YouTube.]


Closer To Truth - Vast Cosmos


It has been said that everything in our physical universe, including our physical bodies, has been formed from the primordial stardust which gave rise to the stars, planets, galaxies, nebulae, and so on. By the same token, souls (individual awareness) were formed from the pure, invisible and unmanifest Spirit-Source which gives rise to all sentient beings—soul dust or consciousness.


[Acknowledgment to Nicholas Humphrey for the YouTube video above on consciousness.]

 
 
 
 
 

 Can We Know Consciousness?

We cannot define consciousness,
but we can most definitely experience it.

 

[Acknowledgment to TEDtalksDirector for the YouTube video above on consciousness.]


The following video documentary titled “Inner Worlds, Outer Worlds” comes in four parts with an introductory trailer. It is an excellent presentation of how we exist in an inner world of consciousness and the projected outer world of our experiences. I highly recommend this documentary.

[Acknowledgment to AwakenTheWorldFilm for the YouTube videos above.]


It is interesting to note that Consciousness as pure subjectivity (the CONTEXT in our model for the Spiritual Journey) presents a serious dilemma where human learning and understanding are concerned because there is no way of submitting Consciousness to scientific scrutiny and observational study under a microscope in a laboratory. Yet, there is something “magical” about it. It is real magic — the only magic in the truest sense of the term.

Daniel Clement Dennett III (whose video talk you saw earlier and whose other brilliant video lectures and talks you will find below) is a cognitive scientist, philosopher and writer with a particular interest in consciousness, free will and the evolution of minds. He was born on March 28, 1942. Dennett conducts research centers on the philosophy of mind, philosophy of science, and philosophy of biology, particularly as those fields relate to evolutionary biology and cognitive science. He is currently the co-director of the Center for Cognitive Studies and the Austin B. Fletcher Professor of Philosophy at Tufts University in Massachusetts, USA.

Dennett is an atheist and secularist (which do not preclude him from being spiritual), a member of the Secular Coalition for America advisory board, and a member of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, as well as an outspoken supporter of the Brights movement. Dennett is referred to as one of the “Four Horsemen of New Atheism”, along with Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and the late Christopher Hitchens. He is perhaps the best advocate and proponent of the elusive thing known as consciousness. Although his ideas do not add to the existing body of mystical knowledge there is, his insights have a curious way of affirming mysticism’s understanding of consciousness.

Philosopher Dennett says that:

The “magic” of consciousness, like stage magic, defies explanation only so long as we take it at face value. Once we appreciate all the non-mysterious ways in which the brain can create benign “user-illusions,” we can begin to imagine how the brain creates consciousness.


[Acknowledgment to Molurus73 for the YouTube video above.]


[Acknowledgment to iqsquared for the YouTube video above.]


[Acknowledgment to Avsz Efst2 for the YouTube video above.]


[Acknowledgment to The Royal Institution for the YouTube video above.]


Consciousness becomes aware of “object” things or forms when it engages in the subject-object relationship of knowing or awareness. Just for the purpose of engaging in intellectual exercise and conceptualization, perhaps there is a need to distinguish academically between the state of pure consciousness — unmanifest subjectivity — from the state of individual consciousness we are familiar as sentient human awareness, whereby consciousness has individuated and is expressing itself as a self-aware manifest form. In Christian theology, this phenomenology is referred to as the metaphysical “Logos of God” presented in the Gospel of St. John or the Greek “Christos [Χριστος] of God” referred to in the Pauline teachings of Christianity — the “first-born” of creation.

Let us now consider an even more fundamental question. Given that modern science and contemporary mysticism are opening the doors to a new spiritual — not religious — appreciation of God, are we now living in an age where God or the belief in God is still valid or relevant at all to our lives?


[Acknowledgment to The Royal Institution for the YouTube video above.]


[Acknowledgment to Question Everything for the YouTube video above.]

But I am actually optimistic… Twenty years ago, if I had stood up and said: “Ha! In a few years the Soviet Union will be — will evaporate, will not exist anymore,” people would have laughed. If I said: “Apartheid will be gone in just a few years,” people would have laughed. Sometimes institutions — phenomenon that seem to be massive and have tremendous inertia — can just pop like a bubble.

So, how do we know until we try? Maybe, within our children’s lifetime, the Vatican will become the European Museum of Roman Catholicism. And maybe Mecca will become Disney’s Magic Kingdom of Allah. If you think that’s funny, just bear in mind that the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul started off as a church, then it was a mosque, and today it is a museum.
– Daniel Dennett –


[Acknowledgment to Question Everything for the YouTube video above.]


We can never define unmanifest Consciousness in the way we can define and we do define manifest things or forms. As Taoism teaches: If you can name it, it is not the eternal Tao. But there is a way of experiencing Consciousness in its pure manifest, undifferentiated state, and it is by that experience that we come to know it.

 
 
 
 
 

 Mystery and Experience
Consciousness is the ultimate mystery, yet built within that mystery is the experience of the mystery, itself. Once the mystery is experienced, Consciousness awakens to the awareness of itself and the knowledge of itself. Consciousness wakes up to Itself in and through the individual, and the Cosmic Person or Overself is born.

[Acknowledgment to Follow The Evidence for the YouTube video above.]

Consciousness is waking up to Itself in and through us individually, giving birth to the Cosmic Person or Overself that we are.


[Acknowledgment to AtheneWins for the YouTube video above.]

 
So, how do we experience consciousness, and thereby know it?



With that question, we segue to a discussion of the feminine principle that is Mind.

 

 



You are not a drop in the ocean. You are the entire ocean in a drop.
– Rumi, Sufi Mystic –

 

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