Monday, August 11, 2014

Imaging Consciousness

Interest in the brain and how it works is ultimately an inquiry into consciousness. One longstanding assumption about where consciousness is may be interfering with visualizing and understanding more about it. In all of my study of the brain I've seen no claim as to where consciousness is located, or even  a theory of how it arises from the substance of the brain. Thinking about consciousness has been limited by the image of it located somewhere in our head, an idea with no scientific support. A cascade of restricting associations grow from this. One artificially confining result comes from imagining consciousness as an aspect of the identification with the external physical self. This leads us to see the body as a container for a limited personal  consciousness. Though the physical body is the image others see, its not really the whole self we experience. As an image it is incompatible with consciousness as we know it, where thoughts soar beyond the physical and witnessing the external drama can be a source of amazement and wonder. The Hindu idea of "moksha" which religious scholar Alan Watts defined as"liberation from the hallucination that you are just 'poor little me'" is freedom from the confining image. The physical being can be thought of as the vehical through which the experience of life is seen. A more approprite analogy for understanding physical participation in consciousness might be the eye. The eye is to the mind as the person is to consciousness, a sensing mechanism for the field of consciousness that is channeled through it, filtered by the frequency created by our personal being. Just like there are wavelengths that the eye doesn't see and thus is not included in our reality, who know what realms are beyond our  mental spectrum. The eye is not the whole of seeing but is an instrument for it, guided by the mind's awareness. The individual is a distinct input with particular sensitivities, a unique character and role to play that provides insight to the encompassing spectrum of flowing awareness that Lao Tzu called the Tao. Enlarging our image of consciousness expands the sense of responsibility that comes with the feeling of connection. The brain encourages operating on this wavelength with endorphins for acts of connection meant to stimulate our evolution co-creating the future. Striving to learn and grow and exceed previous limits is the gift we offer the whole, and is rewarded with the best brain chemistry.
   Understanding more about the brain enables us to draw more sophisticated analogies to help us reinvision consciousness.This can free us from the isolation that comes from thinking of ourselves as separate. Perhaps living with wireless communication in a world of invisible frequencies and bandwidths creates new imagery for envisioning the encompassing connected consciousness within which we inform and  participate.

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