Utility

Consciousness Alone Exists – Part 5: Implications for Neuroscience

What are the implications for neuroscience given the context for discussion I have developed in this blog series? Neuroscience, as I have proposed, is to be practiced with a metaphysical paradigm with an essential axiom excluding the operation of thought providing a reason for the hard problem of consciousness. Though clearly the limitations of a materialistic paradigm for the hard problem have been recognized by a significant number of scientists, I have not as yet found any of these scientists abandoning the basic assumption that consciousness does not exist unless certain conditions are present. I am hardly an expert on neuroscience but I am a lifelong student in the study of consciousness. Insights from this study, both in clarification from meditation and Meditation, as has been described, enables my seeing the basic flaw in thinking any conditions could exist such that consciousness did not exist.

Seeing that some scientists have had the insight that the Conscious Subject is metaphysical it was of course this school of thought I have been investigating. Understanding that the Conscious Subject is absolute, it was immediately clear to me that those scientists operating in relation to a monistic paradigm have a clearer insight. The most influential strain of investigation of this type is rooted in what is called “Reflexive Monism”. The theoretical system that has been developing from RM is IIT, Integrated Information Theory. The reader can easily use these two clues to find out more and also identify the scientists involved. To me the irony is that IIT has mainly instigated many fascinating investigations of brain activity that are delineating more and more specifically what constitutes degrees of consciousness. The baseline for the evidence of consciousness is being established more and more into animal and plant life,and as well into an extended range of physical conditions in the human brain signifying ascending states of consciousness. In this system the science is stipulating that waking up in the morning, entering the waking state, is ascending into consciousness from the dream state. Dreamless sleep is actually assumed to be a state of not being conscious! Diseases and accidents are studied to determine exactly how loss of certain functionality cause descending states of consciousness. All kinds of ways are explored to trick the brain in various ways to demonstrate how the brain is generating our experience of the external world. And so on.

I think it is obvious that the system of investigation is going to show us more and more, but in a since it is more of the same. We can map every structure in the brain and understand all there is to know about relations of groups of neurons and what happens where for a full range of stimuli. Still nothing will be known of the Conscious Subject. Still, it may be said that objective knowledge about the material effects of the Conscious Subject provides us with a more clarified insight of the operation of consciousness as reflected in the thought sphere. A further decision could be made to analyze the operation of meditation and Meditation. Ultimately, we are looking to personal direct experience that can enhance our quality of life. Finally I assume we exhaust what we can do as subject-thinker, then resign the personality we conjure in the sphere of thought to the inscrutable way of the Conscious Subject. This is revolution.

Since it is a paradigm shift in neuroscience from materialistic hypotheses to metaphysical hypotheses that we have been exploring, it is worth speculating more about quality of life potentials attending attention to the implications of the hard problem of Consciousness. I think this is where neuroscience could have profound importance. I want to speculate on quality of life potentials in the context of the metaphysical paradigm of Vedanta that has been developed in this blog series. The key difference with the paradigm of Vedanta is that space is superimposed in consciousness. I don't think any neuroscience of the phenomenology of what it is like to experience space as reflected by measurable dynamics of matter, obviously brain matter, has been undertaken. I think the most advanced theory in neuroscience at this time is IIT, but as I understand it the theory presupposes an emergent consciousness. Vedanta is a radical departure from this notion as it does not mathematically add functions to determine a degree of consciousness, rather it posits consciousness as absolute and defines the differences of apparent degrees of consciousness in matter as simply how clearly the material configuration reflects the absolute. Consciousness does not come into existence, then become more conscious by degrees. This would be consciousness as understood by criteria put together by thought.

The quality of life potentials of “meditation”, generally speaking, emerge in bringing order to the disorder generated by identification with a self-image in conflict relationships with the world. As has been stipulated, problems with quality of life are occurring in the thought sphere. “Meditation” was defined as a specific effort to pay attention to how disorder is created in the divisions in relationship leading to conflict. We can see the disorder created by our inattention to how image-making results in violence when someone violates the image we have of ourselves or we violate the image others have of themselves. Inattention is the root of all this disorder, while attention is resistance to the disassociated image, even in the domain of the thought sphere. A lot of energy is directly and indirectly expended in the operation of thought, and it a lot of energy is wasted in disorder. The study of the quality of life benefits of “meditation”, what happens in the mitigation of disorder, is proposed for neuroscience.

Neuroscience, even if pursued in directions undertaken with a metaphysical hypothesis, is still an investigation of physical states, the properties and dynamics of energy being utilized by the brain and nervous system. This series of blog entries has examined the implications of the Vedantic metaphysical hypothesis beyond the body-mind complex; that is, in the operation of Consciousness in excess of thought activity to the full domain of the Conscious Subject. However, “meditating” and being “Meditated” also has profound implications for the energetic functioning of the physical body. Our hypothesis is that metaphysical actuality has an action in our lives that has been ignored or discounted as illusory by the materialistic paradigm. We understand that materialism needs to be absorbed and superseded. Changes in our energetic functioning that do occur “meditating” and “being Meditated” should be the novel focus of scientific investigation. This in effect changes the way we look!

When we are attentive to the operation of thought, cognizant if the metaphysical paradigm of how Maya engenders disorder, we begin to see the waste of thought energy involved in the identification of the “subject-thinker” as Conscious Subject. The “subject-thinker” is frequently in relationship conflicts arising in violated images. The psychosomatic implications of conflict in neurosis and psychosis are somewhat understood and obvious as disorder in the body-mind. Less obvious are the problems of stress and depression arising from life-style and cultural influences maintaining images. Now also consider the role of nationalism and its unfortunate patriotism, religion and other communal divisions. These are all contributing to the image-making in the life of “subject-thinkers”. At root in ever-present conflict is the need for security, self-preservation, and what we conceive as greater happiness for our personal life. All this is generated by thinking the Absolute Subject is the “subject-thinker” in the thought sphere. Neuroscience as we have been proposing it needs to look at the quality of life changes that occur in the practice of “meditation”.

Now what about the ending of Mayic disassociation in Conscious Subject Meditation? What implications for the energetic functioning of the physical body are there, not just for the Grace of the impulse to “meditate”, but for the complete ending of disassociation in psychological time, the ultimate Grace of Meditation. Anyone who has studied the lives of people who reportedly have or had experience of sahaja samadhi, and especially those who are regarded as Avatars, know their stories include tremendous physiological events. I am very familiar with the life of the Indian mystic Sri Ramakrishna who had many profound physical changes attending various devotional and other states of Grace. I have also studied the teachings of the metaphysical philosopher J. Krishnamurti who described his own physical transformation, including what he called the “mutation of the brain”. Even the amazing spiritual iconoclast U.G. Krishnamurti went through what he called “the calamity”, only to debunk the whole notion or what he called “the mystique of enlightenment”. Neuroscience as we have been proposing it needs to look to the lives of living mystics to study what happened to their bodies in the process and completion of clarification.

There are many people and a growing number of people who are realizing the benefits of meditation and association with genuine “spiritual teacher” and Avatar “transmission” of Satchitananda Guru. This action of Satchitananda was briefly discussed earlier. It is an energetic action of clarification in the thought sphere that can be and is designated as “spiritual transmission”. Some people have been part of a wave of intense interest and practice that appeared and has been intensifying for the last 50 to 100 years. One can speculate that this is an evolutionary manifestation in organic life in this historical moment. Anyway, I know many people in my own circles of association that are active in relationships with transmission of the Absolute Conscious Subject. They discuss psycho-physical experiences occurring in their meditation and especially in experiencing transmission evident in relationships with Satchitananda Guru operating in the lives of certain people. This has to do with the energetic aspect of the Conscious Subject Meditating humanity. It is probably a good strategy for neuroscientists to look into these populations, especially those for whom Satchitananda Guru appears to have manifested.

In Vedanta, the energy aspect of the Conscious Subject is designated as “Shakti”. Shakti is all pervasive, the Shakti is not only active in “spiritual transmission” by also as Maya! Absolute Consciousness can be seen as static in that what is Absolute could not change into anything else and be Absolute. Nonetheless, energetic action is known to be occurring in the thought sphere and the observable dynamic of matter and in the human organism. It may be simply put as the E of E=MC2, but in the case of Shakti we are discussing it in the context of a metaphysical paradigm. The action of thought is a powerful manifestation of Shakti. What has been said about the disorder generated by the operation of Maya is also the action of Shakti. This brings us to Shakti as the energetic power in the individual, in the individual Conscious content. “Interesting” is that the static aspect of Absolute Conscious Subject is equated with the masculine, while the dynamic aspect is the Feminine Power of Satchitananda manifesting clarification. Shakti in the personal organism, the body, is referred to as Kundalini Shakti. Of course it operates as the energetic functions of the body and as such is closely associated with breathing. It is the energy of the nervous system and the brain activity. A lot of energy is manifested in feeling and in thought. Much can be discussed about Kundalini, especially with regard to feelings of pleasure and pain and in sexuality.

Just to focus on its action in the operation of thought, however, consider that Shakti, also as the energetic action of Maya, seemingly is wasted in disorder and the feeling of pain, the emptiness of disassociation, and conflict in many levels of relationship. If “meditation” does anything, it mitigates a lot of wasteful thought and logically the energy needed for that is available for more beneficial application. It is very probable that disorder in the mind also has a corresponding effect of disorder in the body, a further unfortunate expenditure of energy in problems of physical health. This could easily all be tied to a cycle of disorder in the mind as neurosis and psychosis. The more beneficial application of energy made available from “meditation” generates the psycho-physical experiences evident to people who have an relationship to transmission of the Absolute Conscious Subject. These experiences are evident upon the mitigation of disassociation, beginning episodically, rendering awareness of the false identification taking place in the “subject-thinker” fragment of the thought sphere. The nature of the psycho-physical experiences are quite varied in their sensory content, emotional content and even special thought processes. The key feature, however, is consistently reported as the feeling of “Bliss”. At the time of such reporting, however, it is only a memory.

What is meant by “Bliss” is better translated as “Ananda” in Satchitananda. Just as “Sat” is translated as “Existence” and “Chit” as “Consciousness”, the understanding needs to be that there is a triple superimposition in “Bliss” as “Ananda”. Shakti, the energetic aspect of the Conscious Subject spontaneously manifests in the body as a powerful feeling that we try to describe, when we get to words in the thought sphere, as “Bliss”. This is because it is remembered as very pleasurable, but when it has been desecrated as it were, as a memory, that is all it is, merely pleasure! The action of Satchitananda in the clarifying Shakti transmission of Conscious Subject is not something we can know or the memory we might relate of psycho-physical experiences.

When we think about the Shakti and the Bliss occurring with the mitigation of Maya in the thought sphere we might realize the re-purposing of wasted energy is only part of Absolute Shakti, only that available from the practice of “meditation”. The Kundalini Shakti as perceived in yoga techniques to access this “Energy” indicate the Kundalini is a kind of node in a physical domain at the base of the spine. Shakti by definition is infinite so the yogi must be perceiving the originating point of movement of Shakti through the body, I don't really know. The Shakti is described as moving through the spinal canals manifesting through actions of physical nodes that apparently correspond to the ductless glands called “chakras”. Actually very little is known by science about the operation of these glands but more focus on this may be instigated by a metaphysical paradigm.

Considering the unimaginably vast movement of Shakti in the superimposition in Consciousness it is easy to speculate about and look for material dynamics occurring with the transmission of Satchitananda Guru. Being Meditated by the Conscious Subject according to the refined perceptions of the yogis effects a rising flow of Shakti from the Kundalini, perhaps an increase of vibratory frequencies. However we may attempt to define the explosive capacity of the Shakti, it is a gift, not the result of our subject-thinker meditation. Anyone with some capacity for detecting transmission can feel, in their own body-mind complex, manifestations of more or higher vibratory levels of Shakti in the company of an Avatar certainly, and to some extent in any genuine spiritual teacher.

What a neuroscientist would find in external observation of persons experiencing Ananda is like the hard problem of Consciousness, however. It cannot be objectively known what it is like to be someone else feeling Bliss. There is also degrees of Bliss. Many experience strong emotional energy flow, tears of joy, and other physiological responses like flushing and goosebumps, and other normally encountered bodily experiences. Ramakrishna, on the other hand, was examined in samadhi with suspension of breath, imperceptible heartbeat and reduced reflex even to touching the eyeball! But then again, for the neuroscientist as for the rest of us, Bliss can be quite as commonplace as seeing the face of a beautiful child, a mountain against a blue sky, falling into the eyes of the lover or the stars. Better still, the neuroscientist can experience the easy Grace coming into relationship with the Divine Mother through the Satchitananda Guru manifested in another human being:

Sail with me! Sail with me!*

O mind that wanders
through this momentary world,
the transcendental vessel of Goddess Tara
has cast anchor in the harbor.
Come swiftly if you wish to board the wondrous ship
that bears souls to the truth.
Untie the complex mental knots
that moor you to the mundane realm.
Unfurl the bright sail Tara, Tara, Tara.
Ply with vigor the oars of contemplation
if you wish to set sail
and cross the stormy ocean of delusion.

Stop purchasing cheap experiences
from the bazaar of habit and convention.
Cease this aimless browsing.
Your brief day of earthly life is almost over.
Leaving you only the fleeting hours
of twilight and evening.
What more can you learn from bartering and bickering
in the marketplace of desire?

This avid voyager of the Mother sings:
“Courage! Courage! Be courageous!
Sail with me! Sail with me!
Break free forever from imaginary bondage,
from selfish grasping, from separate individuality!”

* Mother of the Universe
Visions of the Goddess and Tantric Hymns of Enlightenment

Poems of the mystic poet Ramprasad
English interpretation by Lex Hixon