What Is Consciousness?
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Konstantin Eriksen, Guest Writer
Physics generally ignores it. Medicine frowns upon it.
If people could actually change their emotions and thoughts using the principle of “mind over matter,” what would happen to the pharmaceutical drug business, psychiatrists, “therapists,” psychologists, and the like? Most of them would be out of business quickly and only the best would survive, which means that only quality people who are effective at producing real, positive changes in people’s lives could carry on making a living doing change work.
I find it disturbing (and also ridiculous) that people can call themselves “experts” in matters relating to consciousness, when they can’t even give a decent, rational explanation of what consciousness is.
Here’s a little story: I once saw a psychiatrist on television doing an interview. Actually, I’ve seen many psychiatrists on television over the years. But this experience stands out in my mind, because this psychiatrist was asked two questions that I had always wanted to ask a psychiatrist: What is consciousness? What is the soul?
The word psychiatry is a Greek compound word which means “healing the soul.” A psychiatrist is one who heals the soul. So how did she respond to the questions? What were these entities that she was trying to heal? She didn’t know! Of course she didn’t. She hadn’t been trained to.
There is a whole field of investigation out there and it is called consciousness research. The researchers who are pursuing this endeavor are primarily interested in two things:
1. What is consciousness? What is it based on? Is it a chemical process, as most of the medical establishment want us to believe? Is it an energy? A combination?
2. How can we use consciousness and intention to affect ourselves and others? How can we improve ourselves, change ourselves for the better and improve our lives?
I’m going to give you a very brief outline of what consciousness research is, where it stands and what it means for us in our daily lives.
The Brain Is Not Consciousness
The general belief in the medical establishment is that the seat of consciousness is the brain and that the brain causes consciousness. The fact of the matter is that there is no evidence supporting this dogma. There is evidence supporting a correlation between brain functioning and consiousness, but that’s obvious. However, there is no evidence that the brain is actually the seat or the cause of consciousness.
The key names to mention here are Karl Pribram and David Bohm. Pribram is a professor emeritus of psychiatry and a board-certified neurosurgeon. Bohm is a physicist. The interesting thing about them is that independently, without knowing each other, their pursuit of truth led both of them to the same, strange conclusion: memories in the brain are not localized to specific parts of the brain; memories are not embedded in chemical processes, as most psychiatrists and members of the “scientific” establishment believe. Memories are actually distributed throughout the brain in wave interference patterns. I’m not going to explain the details of their findings, because they are beyond the scope of this article. They go on to postulate that the brain works like a holograph and that this reflects the nature of the universe itself. The main thing to take away from this is that the brain works in ways that we can’t even imagine and that the “scientific” knowledge we have about our own consciousness is negligible.
Stanislav Grof And Transpersonal Psychology
Grof is a Czech psychiatrist and is one of the founders of a movement in psychology which is known as transpersonal psychology. Taking into account all the findings of modern science, including the discoveries by Pribram and others, they concluded that there must be something more to consciousness than the simplistic, mechanistic model of psychology that most “experts” believe in.
Grof was involved in medical experiments in the former Czechoslovakia, in which LSD (which was then a legal pharmaceutical product) was used to help people overcome problems such as chronic alcoholism and schizophrenia. Their method was to use guided sessions which included music and support from Grof and his team . Their success rate was high.
Why? Perhaps because hallucinogenic substances take people out of their daily cognitive “reality,” which is often laden with past traumas, false beliefs and bad emotions and put them into a state where they can experiment with real change. I can’t pretend to know this, as I haven’t experienced it. If you’re interested in more information, I refer you to Grof’s books.
Nowadays, Grof and his wife attempt to reproduce those positive, healing results using breathing techniques and other natural methods.
Consciousness Cannot Be Pinned Down Or Defined Through Language Or Analysis
Taking a phenomenon that is so vast and so mysterious and reducing it down to a simple dogma such as the ridiculous id/ego/superego theory by Sigmund Freud, is a joke and an insult to humanity.
I believe that consciousness is something that can only be glimpsed at through experience and not from getting a university degree and filling one’s head with theories. Consciousness contains multifaceted thoughts, images, sounds, sensations, emotions and beliefs. It is so complex and yet so simple at the same time!
It is more like a flowchart in suspension. It could go in any direction, depending on the external input and it’s own intention. Consciousness is not a deterministic, Darwinian automatic process that is out of our control. Why? Because consciousness involves self-referral. We are aware of our own consciousness and of its contents. The thoughts, emotions and sensations it contains. Internally, we see the images of our thoughts and we feel our joy and anxiety. We can respond to them.
This is the key lesson that I’ve gotten from studying consciousness research: That we can shape our own destiny. No matter what the official “experts” tell us.
It is possible. We can change ourselves. We can even change the darkest aspects of our lives. Perhaps it is not easy. But consciousness research clearly shows that it is within us all to make real, positive changes in our thoughts, in our emotions, in our health and in our lives and those of others.
About the Author
Konstantin Eriksen is a philosopher and a 32-year-old former stock-trader, long-time natural health researcher, neigong enthusiast and fledgling internet entrepreneur. In my spare time, I enjoy hiking, music, mountaineering, meeting interesting women, studying whatever interests me and Piazzolla. Please visit his excellent blog, Life-Sucks.
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