“Every human being, and every human mind, has roots that extend indefinitely far back through time…the consciousness of the individual is inextricably tied to the consciousness of the whole…Everything in nature is actually connected or implicated with everything else…” – David Darling, philosopher, from his book, “Equations of Eternity
“David Darling has pressed the matter of consciousness into the moment vividly for me, not simply due to his compelling prose, but also because of the immediacy of consciousness and its relationship to the world we inhabit, which often offers us conflicting priorities based on our personal sensitivity to the events which transpire in the temporal portion of our reality. From the simple beauty of the beams of sunlight filtering through the trees in the front yard, all the way through to the urgency of world events, our consciousness encompasses every nuance of our existence in ways that generally escape notice much of the time, but occasionally in ways that feel like a punch in the stomach.”
With this beginning paragraph, which I wrote as part of a series of blog posts about consciousness in the world, I began to address directly how, in my view, our individual subjective experience of consciousness is part of a much larger awareness that includes “the consciousness of the whole.” Due in part to the ineffable nature of our connection to “everything in nature,” as well as to other living souls in our world, it can appear that such connections are an illusion produced by the astonishingly complex human brain, and the closer we come to understanding the processes involved in conscious awareness, the greater the tendency to suppose that it can be reduced to mere physiology.
The so-called, “illusion of consciousness,” seems no more like an illusion in the world of experience to me than the “illusion of the solidity of an object,” in light of our understanding of particle physics. We know now that all matter consists mostly of particles spread very far apart with vast areas of empty space in between. When two objects meet, like a fist thrust rapidly into your stomach, the two never actually make contact on the atomic level, but are rather repelled so completely in that realm that contact is not even possible. However, this underlying scientific explanation does nothing to diminish the “reality” of being struck by a solid object.
With all that we do know, we still have a limited view of the complete vastness of the universe, and it seems likely to me that there must exist other worlds where the natural rhythms are surely “worlds apart,” from any that we know of here on earth. Within each of us, also, from the deepest recesses of the many possible levels of attainable consciousness, there must exist variations in the depth and wealth of experiential awareness which may be possible, and the question remains equally compelling for me as the idea of space exploration or the possibility of time travel. There can be very little doubt that our central nervous system, and sensory processing in the brain, provide us with the most immediate experience of our temporal existence, but just as we perceive and express our understanding of the external world through our individual objective sensory capacities, so too can we express our individual subjective perceptions of the influences produced by what we may wish to describe as a transcendent source from which our understanding springs in the first place. Admittedly, the profound and utterly real notion of the existence of a transcendent aspect in my personal experiences has given me no particular advantage in expressing it outwardly, and in some ways, has complicated my attempts to do so.
Because we are intellectually aware of the spaces between fluctuating particles of energy at the atomic level also does not take away from the very real consequences of our interactions with other human beings who are also made up of these same particles. As a human being, I am afflicted with a very human frailty, and thus, prone to characteristically human drives, weaknesses, and a host of other tendencies. As a reasonably cognitive spirit in the world, I have worked very hard to achieve an understanding of the experiences of my personal humanity, particularly when it comes to my experiences with my fellow human beings. While I have stumbled many times, and at other times, flat out failed to reach a mutual understanding with each soul I encounter, the starting place has always been at the very heart of me, where I have, for most of my adult life, nurtured the development of a loving and gentle spirit, in order to interact as well as I can with other souls I encounter.
Personal weaknesses, while not something anyone really likes to acknowledge, have caused me some stressful periods throughout my life, and more than a few sleepless nights lately. At times, it has seemed that I simply can’t do anything right. I have become much more aware of these personal aspects in recent years, and strive constantly to improve myself, but in spite of my best efforts, I still occasionally stumble, and it makes me wonder if there might be some higher purpose to it all. A recent encounter with an extraordinary spirit has given me cause to believe in such a purpose. It is rare to encounter such spirits in my experience, but in his three part series, “Conversations with God,” Neale Donald Walsch reports a response from the Creator of all things, which expresses an encouraging view of such experiences in a segment from one such conversation in this way:
“I tell you this: every person who has ever come to you has come to receive a gift from you. In so doing, (they) give a gift to you–the gift of your experiencing and fulfilling who you are…When you see this simple truth, when you understand it, you see the greatest truth of all:
“I have sent you nothing but angels.”
There have been times when I have acted in my own best interests, and in retrospect, I recognized that at least part of what occurred was the result of my own selfish motives, but I believe that for the most part, I have been able to do much good in my life, and strive always to do what feels right to me. I am not completely selfless even now, but I am learning to forgive myself for not being so at every moment. The continuing story of my spiritual path which began in earnest in Massachusetts, now comes into sharper focus as I prepared to return to that place, and at that time, as it is also true today, I simply had to trust in the wisdom that brought me to the time and place where these events unfolded, and which constituted an essential step on my spiritual journey. Then, as now, the pursuit of my understanding of consciousness and its fundamental nature take on an even greater urgency.
4 thoughts on “Consciousness and the World We Create: Part Two”
I love the thought in the quote above; that as we encounter and interact with one another we are helping one another both to experience who we are, and also to fulfill our unique purpose(s) in life. I have often heard it said that there are no such things as coincidences; everything happens for a purpose. Makes one wonder Who is the Mastermind of it all? If all that happens around us is not just a random jumble of events then there must be a Designer, a Strategist, a Choreographer in this wonderful dance called life!
Of course, we already knew that LOL but it’s such a lovely thought to ponder just the same because as we do, our understanding grows, our perception enlarges, our perspective alters, constantly, continually, infinitely, till we cannot fail to be in awe of Our God, our Creator; He is SOOOOOO BIG!!!!!!!!!
John, so much of what you have written above had me doing mental somersaults; reading and having to reread it again and again in order to get the full meaning of what you were trying to express. And the more you examined and searched and contemplated, the larger everything became till it seemed that it is all so enormous that we could never fully comprehend it all. That may be the case, but I love reading your thoughts, feeling your feelings, and experiencing the wonder of it all through your eyes. My world becomes so much bigger when I do.
I cannot thank you enough for your thoughtful and thought-provoking comment. I hope others who read what you have written will be inspired to consider your words and to contemplate as you have, the fuller meaning of what I am trying to express.
We often hear certain things being said if we listen carefully enough to the world we live in. The fact that we often hear something, while not being a particularly good gauge of what might be the actual truth of the matter, can at least be considered reason enough to give the matter some attention. We need to look more carefully at some of the things that are said often, especially if our own experiences fly in the face of whatever is being said so often. It was often said that the world was flat centuries ago, and that turned out to be wrong.
It seems likely to me that there are actually a fair number of coincidences which occur in a lifetime–that there ARE such things–but it is also possible, that coincidences may, in some cases, be signposts–indicators pointing us in a direction which we need to consider. Not all coincidences have a purpose–I don’t think EVERYTHING happens for a purpose–but if there was an actual mastermind behind the creation of the Universe–they may have incorporated some design and strategy into the choreography of how life would unfold. Calling life a “random jumble of events,” doesn’t sound right either. Perhaps, some combination of the two is closer to what may actually account for the way life unfolds.
It is, in some ways, unfortunate that the subject I have devoted all my energies to illuminating requires so much of the seeker and of the reader. Many people have not been exposed to the whole range of subjects surrounding the subjective experience of human consciousness, and I often find myself recommending to those who request further explanation to review one or more of the almost two hundred postings on this site. Reading all the way through this blog is a daunting challenge for many readers, but I believe it IS possible to comprehend what I am writing about, and I am encouraged by the considered responses to many of my postings, that I am making some progress in this regard. I appreciate your efforts to do the somersaults necessary to get to the heart of my subject, and hope you and any other reader who has questions will ask them.
As always, your thoughts are very welcome here, and I am very grateful that you thought to share your feelings with me…..John H.
Your thought about your weaknesses above reminded of a quote from my favorite poet:
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
– Khalil Gibran
It is through the acknowledgement and understanding of our weaknesses that we discover our strengths. How can one know light if one doesn’t know dark? I believe the sometimes painful process is our resistance, the disconnecting of old energy pathways in order to connect to a higher order of energy. As within, so without? Do the same neural pathways in the brain relate to the metaphysical pathways outside the body? I digress, but feel compelled to share an epiphany I had one day. I was reading a book on chakras, learning about the ancient beliefs and traditions older than most known modern religions. I encountered a diagram of the energy zones and external energy fields. The next day I encountered a modern day diagram of the nervous system and areas in the body where nerve endings concentrated. Astounded, I compared the two charts only to see uncanny resemblance, within and without…an ancient belief and practice essentially supported by human science! I haven’t proven this theory yet (or read about its proof), but I wouldn’t be surprised to find that all of our emotional experiences are in fact tied to phenomenon both inside and outside the body!
Khalil Gibran has always been a favorite of mine as well, and many of his writings are spiritual in nature and represent a profound understanding of the human spirit, in which I have often found solace and inspiration. Here is one quote that usually cheers me up even when I have had to face my own weaknesses:
“My soul preached to me and said, ‘Do not be delighted because of praise, and do not be distressed because of blame.’
Ere my soul counseled me, I doubted the worth of my work.
Now I realize that the trees blossom in Spring and bear fruit in the Summer without seeking praise; and they drop their leaves in Autumn and become naked in Winter without fearing blame.”
It is clear that in order to make progress in life, we must move forward into the future and leave the past behind; we must learn from our mistakes and embrace the opportunities to make new ones; we must let go of what has not worked and try something else that may work. All of our experiences in life have the potential to result in a furthering of our knowledge, which in turn may lead to a greater understanding of ourselves, and eventually, all our efforts will hopefully “disconnect (us from) old energy pathways,” and help us to “connect to a higher order of energy,” and to gain in strength that we need for the challenges to come.
I believe there is much to be gained from encouraging and investigating such convergences of ancient wisdom and modern human science, and there are some hopeful signs that serious thinkers are beginning to make these connections in surprising ways. British physicist and philosopher, David Darling, in his book, “Equations of Eternity,” wrote about quantum theory, and how it can be proven “…both by the systematic, symbolic language of higher mathematics, and by experiment…it has passed every experiment invented to test it.” He also reminded us that “Despite quantum theory’s technical and complex content, it appeals to the mystical, spiritual side of humanity…and we are far more than mere cogs in the machine. In fact, the universe may be uniquely adapted to produce human life.”
Alva Noe, professor of philosophy at the University of California, posits that “…the world itself, all around…fixes the nature of conscious experience.” He also suggests that “The conscious mind is not inside us; it is, it would be better to say, a kind of active attunement to the world, an achieved integration.”
There certainly is much to consider in the possibilities you suggest, and I am grateful for your considered response to my personal weaknesses.
Kind regards….John H.