In this blog post, I will try to reflect on the inherent properties of consciousness, by using three analogies.
- Consciousness as light — a physics perspective.
- Consciousness as a story — a narrative perspective.
- Consciousness as a soul — a spiritual perspective.
Philosophy, Hieroglyphics, and Technology | Data Driven Investor
Before the discovery of the Rosetta Stone, hieroglyphics were already regarded as information, even if their semantics…
In the light of consciousness
The perceived chaos in the universe is often depicted in language as darkness. In that unstable world, an insignificant match is lighted that represents humanities consciousness.
With the light comes perspective, scope, warmth, into existence.
The evolution from fire to electronic light increased the range of motion of consciousness.
Present-day light can be focussed, on the bigger picture like the lightening of an opera, or condensed for example in laser used in public plumbing.
Likewise, consciousness can be expended to understand the process that goes beyond the individual like climate change and national debt.
Contrastingly, consciousness can also zoom in for example on the foot during a balancing pose in yoga class or aimed at hitting the bull’s eye during a game of darts.
The specs of a light source can always be upgraded and multiplied.
Hence consciousness is in a constant state of development throughout the individual life.
In addition, there is a wide range of effects in a light:
- light bending in a physics laser experiment
- light blending in for example YAFI
- light curving in a house of mirrors
- light separation in a prism to see the full range of colors
- light filtering in which colored paper can block a certain color
- light mirroring in which different reflections for the perspective of a kaleidoscope.
Similarly, conscious attention can be bent away or lured to certain areas by provocative or shocking imagery.
Consciousness can also be blended, for example when we learn a new framework that integrates a multitude of different theories.
Furthermore, distortions in perceiving reality can be seen as unique forms of consciousness, that enable certain psychological complexes like the imposter syndrome, codependency, anorexia, negative thinking addiction, etc.
Mirrored conscious behavior is universal, every culture has traditions for marriage, funerals, dating, etc.
Light is for me like spirit, you can’t touch or perceive it directly. Instead, we usually only experience the side effects the color and warmth of light.
Moreover, in the realm of quantum physics, light is an abstract concept, as it functions simultaneously like a wave and a particle.
Light can be divided into multiple beams like in a prism or when we filter light by using colored paper.
Same can be said about consciousness, we perceive conscious people as thoughtful, wise or intelligent but there is until this day no metric to verify the degree of consciousness.
If we look at Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, Elon Musk and Thomas Edison, we could all agree that they were and are geniuses of their time. Does this mean that they let a more conscious life? If consciousness relates to kindness for all beings and things, I would surely beg the difference.
Also, consciousness represents simultaneously a state and aspect of the mind.
For example, Bill Gates is conscious of his actions towards humanity, by founding the philanthropic Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation with his wife, he works towards a better world, by investing in health, education, policies on a global scale.
When someone allows Bill to help 1000 people, who are dying from malaria by giving his organization governmental protected access to a warzone. It sounds too good to be true. In the negotiations, Bill has to endorse an ex-war-criminal who wants to run for elections in a foreign country.
Bill has to make a tradeoff between values and utility. He could answer that he would not go in business which such an offer because his conscience would not allow it.
Conscience or consciousness acts in the above situation as an external entity that should be listened to or kept pure.
Furthermore, consciousness can be divided between multiple awareness levels. Like during morning coffee time, you are simultaneously write in the bullet journal, while thinking about the future or the past.
The trill of life is seldom better captured in the art of filmmaking.
No wonder, it easy to make the analogy between telling a story and consciousness at play.
Every story has multiple faces, as truth is flexible in the eyes of the beholder. Correspondingly consciousness is perceived as a multitude of perspectives.
Besides, the context of a story, like the setting, genre or style is crucial for the interpretation of the emotions, thoughts, and feelings from the characters.
Hence the experience of drama or romanticism is the byproduct of the level of consciousness of the protagonist and the spectator.
Thus consciousness is partially dictated by the conceptual and contextual background.
The tradition of experimentation throughout filmmaking, photography, and literature, is fundamental in the research of consciousness.
Before the invention of a timelapse, the only way to show the flow of time was a montage or a flash-forward or backward. Does this raise the question, if consciousness is an ever-present flow or state of mindfulness we tap into or is it just a fabricated story in the present created by the mind?
In movies, the fourth wall can be broken, in which the character directly speaks to the viewer, showing awareness of the fact that there are spectators outside the perspective of the life displayed in the movie.
If you choose to believe the stories of conversations with divinity or spiritual beings, the explanation could be an increased consciousness which enables communication between entities which are unseen by the senses.
“What a lark! What a plunge! For so it always seemed to me when, with a little squeak of the hinges, which I can hear now, I burst open the French windows and plunged at Bourton into the open air. How fresh, how calm, stiller than this of course, the air was in the early morning; like the flap of a wave; the kiss of a wave; chill and sharp and yet (for a girl of eighteen as I then was) solemn, feeling as I did, standing there at the open window, that something awful was about to happen …” — Mrs. Dalloway-by Virginia Woolf
Furthermore, what makes certain art forms canonical, like opera, literature, film classics, sophisticated poetry, virtuoso music, is that critics and scholars perceive layers or references to other works and artists.
Does this mean that the development of consciousness builds upon the previous exploration of the mind? Is there a pattern between the teaching or findings of Jesus, Buddha, Lao Zhi, Freud, Jung, Nietzsche, Arendt, Butler, etc?
If the potential of experimentation is endless, does this mean that consciousness is only limited by the reach of human creativity?
The spiritual lock
If we were to believe spirituality or religion, the world is created by the cosmic union of energy and spirit.
For some people, this feels like divine liberation for others it is seen as a divine limitation.
When we talk about the spirit or the soul, we transcend the physical observable universe and walk into the realm of metaphysics.
If consciousness belongs to the philosophy behind metaphysics it would explain a lot about the less understood scientific phenomena like lucid dreaming, hallucination, out of body experiences, and near-death experiences.
Traditionally, the soul is immortal because it either reincarnates, passes on to the world of the dead, or get stuck in a twilight zone.
I have experienced past lives through the shamanic practice of soul retrieval, without using chemicals, instead only using fully conscious meditation travels, taught by dr. Alberto Villoldo. Although, I am still skeptic about the ‘realm of spirits‘ because I have experience with ayahuasca, salvia, LSD, and truffles, and have never had anything close to the hallucinations that are described to me of by people.
Wouldn’t be lovely that after our death our conscious experience would continue in an afterlife?
Or would you feel scared that you feel you will go the hell?
Both afterlives are traps of the mind. In a world where everything is perfect, you would become bored. The same way that vacation eventually becomes annoying, despite the relaxation and call for adventure.
Hell is not that bad, even though you would be challenged or initially suffer. The pain would eventually be accepted and you would forget about it. Often, when people accept the pain, as it is, the emotional toll falls away. It will still be there but you focus the attention on more useful things.
Worst-case scenario, you would be stuck on earth. If something like ghosts exists, I can only begin to imagine how much they suffer. Maybe it is like our shadow, they are there but unable to ever communicate. Or they are and are the joking element in our lives. For example, when you search for your phone can find it while it right under your nose.
Spirit is not rooted in the physical universe.
Throughout human history, there have been many accounts of out-of-body-experience, astral projection, and near-death experiences.
In which all humans explained the possibility of attaining consciousness without a body to support it.
Likewise in the dream world, the dreamer can become conscious through the lucid dreaming techniques such as the WILD technique.
One is then able to bypass the limits of reality, like flying, talking to a copy of oneself, creating worlds, entities, etc.
Thus consciousness is not rooted in the empirical universe, as it can travel through fantasy, dreaming and hallucination.
Another spiritual principle is that of sin and karma.
Sin is the idea that some behavior is self-sabotage and leads to suffering, although it is disguised as temporary pleasure.
Karma is not the principle of what comes around gets around, like for example the boomerang does.
Karmic debt means that your soul tries to recreate the same situation over and over until you learned what you had to learn.
If consciousness has karmic or sinful tendencies it means that it abides by spiritual law.
Therefore it is fixed from birth and follow a certain pattern.
It directly opposed the idea neuroplasticity where we can completely rewire the brain.
The question you should ask yourself are you able to change yourself from a fundamental level?
Reminder: This text contains many opinions of the writer. It is written for mindful reflection of the individual reader and not with the academic intent to inform an audience.