Connecting to the World Within

Giving deliberate and purposeful attention to developing some form of contemplative practice is essential for promoting a greater degree of self-awareness, and for encouraging us to conduct the deep inner searching necessary to reach and explore the world within us. In order to begin this process, we must be able to still the mind and quiet the relentless inner voice of conscious thoughts. Allowing the mind to settle down and become quiet, releases us from thoughts about daily activities and concerns, and prepares our mind to turn its attention to a more directed period of contemplation.

My own daily practice usually includes early morning meditation, typically lasting twenty to thirty minutes after breakfast and before consuming my morning coffee. I generally spend my coffee time catching up on correspondence, reading the paper if I have time, and then looking at whatever tasks I hope to achieve in the day ahead, with the purpose of deciding on whatever amount of time I can set aside throughout the day for deliberate thoughtful reflection, which often includes some deliberate choice of gentle musical accompaniment that assists me in achieving a relaxed state of mind. There is no set formula, and there are times when it isn’t possible at all to do so. The important part of any program isn’t a precise adherence to a rigid routine, but rather, a deliberate choice to incorporate time for contemplation on whatever schedule the day allows.

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With regular attention and consistent effort, it is possible to find a number of opportunities for even short periods of time each day to disengage from daily routines, long enough to give consideration to contemplative endeavors. I also find it useful at the end of the day to review whatever conclusions may have occurred during my time in contemplation, if any, and record those thoughts in either my writing journal or in my recent alternative “audio journaling” recording sessions. Seeing progress in a written journal, and reviewing audio recordings I’ve made over time, helps me to reinforce the ideas that have resulted from those efforts, recorded when they were freshly arrived in a deliberately chosen and purposeful state of consciousness.

Many illuminating moments can be encountered during directed contemplation, particularly when it is preceded by a clearly delineated mental and spiritual preparation to withdraw from the temporal world, as well as a reasonable degree of either silence or a calming environment, with at least no more than a background murmur to contend with that doesn’t distract me.

Whenever the opportunity presents itself, I spend as much time as I can in some variety of a natural setting in the wilderness or a recreational area in the temperate times of the year, which always seems to have an effortless transformational effect on me. Even during the winter, a walk in the early morning snow or a late night stroll around the block can elicit a profound inner connection to the world within. For me, though, communing with the natural world and escaping the daily routines in any significant way is my link to the phenomenon of consciousness, that richly-textured subjective experience of existence, which, for me, points so clearly to the non-material aspects of that existence.

Currently, we can only verify consciousness subjectively, but this does not mean that the door is closed exactly on searching for other ways to do so. I may not be able to verify YOUR consciousness with the same subjective certainty that I can verify my own, but we limit ourselves when we look at the physical plane and temporal existence as the “real world,” and everything else as unreal. Non-material aspects, while not having any demonstrable material existence, can still exist just as certainly as those which can be seen with a telescope or under a microscope, only in a manner inaccessible to our science.

Modern physicists have recently proposed string theory as a way of resolving the conflict between general relativity and quantum mechanics, and it posits the idea that our universe has many more dimensions than are discernible to us as physical beings, suggesting that the material world itself may also be composed of some variety of non-material aspects.

If we examine the currently available evidence of human evolution over millions of years, allowing for informed inferences based on as much of both science and metaphysics as can be tolerated; there is a path that leads toward a greater understanding of the evolution of consciousness, its role in the temporal, and its foundation in the non-material.

I sometimes like to frame the argument for differentiating consciousness from cognition by comparing them in terms of a radio broadcast. The radio transmitter, the radio antenna, the propagation of radio waves through the atmosphere, and the radio receiver are the mechanisms of radio transmission and reception. The radio equipment doesn’t CREATE the content of the radio broadcast. All the radio equipment in the world is useless without the person who INITIATES the transmission and composes a comprehensible message. A conscious entity of sufficient intelligence can design, build, and operate the equipment, but without the capacity for creating some message or transmission to communicate, the mere existence of the equipment is insufficient to make productive use of its abilities. That requires something more—a creator of the message!

In the same way, I do not believe that human consciousness is generated solely by our EQUIPMENT. Our neurons, synapses, coordinated brain regions and sufficiently developed frontal lobes—all of it evolved finally in hominids to the point where we became aware of a wider existence beyond simply experiencing life. As I experience it, the life within me is my real life. Neurons and synapses provide the means to access consciousness. That is a distinction which is, in my view, unavoidable.

It will become even clearer when the technology eventually catches up to the brain with a manufactured device that somehow utilizes trillions of switches, emulating our interconnected networks of neurons that mirror in some fashion the architecture of the brain. It is my view, that when they are finally able to construct even the most sophisticated version of a precisely constructed BRAIN INSTRUMENT, which is comparable to the architecture of a human brain, it may produce a very sophisticated device that mimics brain activity, but is unlikely to possess anything truly comparable to human consciousness. Simply recreating the structure of the brain will be insufficient to bring to life a fully developed living being, with all the capacities and richness of our experiential subjective aliveness, since it hasn’t been established at all that brain activity alone can account for our own subjective experience.

There is so much more to human subjective experience than brain activity alone, and even our own ancient human ancestors had a structurally similar physical brain for thousands of years before demonstrating significant self-awareness and the ability to begin to comprehend the world. The stark difference between what took nature millions of years of biological evolution to produce, and what a future technology might produce with whatever synthetic materials are developed along the way, will very likely show this contrast definitively.

Whatever capabilities such technologies will enable in a manufactured device, it will not be ALIVE, nor will it be able to comprehensively assume the identity or house the consciousness of a preexistent biological human. Science fiction stories of such developments gloss over the finer points of our humanity, and often neglect to acknowledge that our bodies and brains are receptacles—mechanisms which are animated by energies and aspects which have no corresponding physical existence in the same way that our bodies do.

Our current medical technologies can ensure that virtually every single human bodily function operates at a nominal level. With the exception of brain cells, we can reconstruct or repair virtually any damage to human tissue, and, in some cases, even stimulate artificially the process of regenerating cells, but no matter how sophisticated we get, we won’t be able to precisely produce a human egg or sperm synthetically. We cannot even produce a human zygote by synthetic means, without starting off with genuine human biological tissues.

We may end up manipulating the biological components produced by our human biological inheritance, and even though we risk a great deal by doing so, it may alter future generations in ways we could not now anticipate, but any process or procedure that utilizes materials that are not wholly biological cannot hope to produce some variation of a truly biological human.

The reason for this is because what underlies, supports, and is ESSENTIAL to those living components and materials—the very kernel of their nature—is NON-MATERIAL. When you begin to consider the nature of human existence by supposing that a non-material dimension or aspect to existence is a given, then it seems conceivable to me that we may one day achieve a comprehensive understanding of the nature of human consciousness, which will not be forthcoming unless we integrate these essential aspects.

In order for us to continue to evolve as a species and to survive in the eons which lay before us, we must seek a greater understanding of our true nature. It is not religion, but it is not purely science either, and it is DEFINITELY NOT dogma from either area of study that will ultimately illuminate our comprehension of human consciousness.

About jjhiii24
Way back in 1973, as a young man embarking on the journey of a lifetime, I experienced what Carl Jung described as “the eruption of unconscious contents,” which compelled me to seek the path I continue to pursue to this day. The path of discovery has led me through an astonishingly diverse range of explorations in philosophy, science, and religion, as well as the many compelling ideas in the literature and scriptures of the cultures of the world. There is, in my view, a compelling thread made up of components of each, that runs through the fabric of life. The nature and study of human consciousness has been a compelling subject for me for more than twenty years. I have spent a great deal of my time and energies trying to come to terms with my own very particular “inner experience” of life, and to somehow understand how the events and flow of my temporal life have directly been influenced by the workings within. Sharing what I have come to understand about my own “Inner Evolution,” has tasked my intellect and communications skills in a big way. I am only just beginning to feel confident enough in the results of my study and contemplation to express the many various aspects of what I have uncovered within myself. I am hopeful that my own subjective and personal experience of my own “human spirit” will resonate with others, and encourage them to explore their own.

9 Responses to Connecting to the World Within

  1. Reblogged this on WriteTide and commented:
    “any program isn’t a precise adherence to a rigid routine, but rather, a deliberate choice to incorporate time for contemplation on whatever schedule the day allows.
    /I sometimes like to frame the argument for differentiating consciousness from cognition by comparing them in terms of a radio broadcast. …The radio equipment doesn’t CREATE the content of the radio broadcast. All the radio equipment in the world is useless without the person who INITIATES the transmission and composes a comprehensible message. A conscious entity of sufficient intelligence can design, build, and operate the equipment, but without the capacity for creating some message or transmission to communicate, the mere existence of the equipment is insufficient to make productive use of its abilities. That requires something more—a creator of the message!
    /In the same way, I do not believe that human consciousness is generated solely by our EQUIPMENT. Our neurons, synapses, coordinated brain regions and sufficiently developed frontal lobes—all of it evolved finally in hominids to the point where we became aware of a wider existence beyond simply experiencing life. As I experience it, the life within me is my real life. Neurons and synapses provide the means to access consciousness. That is a distinction which is, in my view, unavoidable. /Whatever capabilities such technologies will enable in a manufactured device, it will not be ALIVE, nor will it be able to comprehensively assume the identity or house the consciousness of a preexistent biological human. …our bodies and brains are receptacles—mechanisms which are animated by energies and aspects which have no corresponding physical existence in the same way that our bodies do.”

    • jjhiii24 says:

      Thanks so much for reblogging this post and highlighting these points in response. It’s always encouraging when one of my readers feels strongly enough about what I express to share it with others, and the parts you selected in your response are definitely key to my personal philosophy about what we can and shouldn’t expect from the advancements in artificial intelligence. The possession of intelligence alone clearly isn’t sufficient for explaining human consciousness, since many other species demonstrate varying degrees of intelligence, and if that future intelligence is produced artificially, while it may be able to perform at a level far above what is currently possible for machines, it will still be an artificial construct. We still should be concerned about how it might be used or abused, just like any other future innovative technology, but we shouldn’t expect it to have the same exact character as that which our own humanity provides us.

      Thanks for taking the time to share….John H.

      • Thank you for enlightenment.

      • So, what sets us apart from other more or less intelligent species is the feature that you call “consciousness’ and religious people call “spirit”. What if we humans can share it with our creatures (say, AI) like our Creator shares it with us? P.S. Loved your “warm and analogue” radio metaphor.

      • jjhiii24 says:

        This is a fabulous question and in order to render a complete answer, which it truly deserves, I would have to give a much longer response than might reasonably be expected from a comment response, but if you will forgive me for only ruminating briefly here, I will agree to post a subsequent and more robust response in an upcoming blog post.

        In an important publication in the early 2000’s by Gerald Edelman, Nobel prize winner and Director of The Neurosciences Institute in San Diego, and Giulio Tononi, Senior Fellow in Theoretical and Experimental Neurobiology for that organization entitled, “A Universe of Consciousness,” the key difficulty in suggesting that “we humans” might be able to “share it with our creatures (say AI) like our Creator shares it with us,” is presented clearly:

        “Consider this example: Why is it that when each of us performs certain discriminations, such as between light and dark, each of us is conscious, but similar discrimination performed by a simple physical device is apparently NOT associated with conscious experience? This paradox suggests that attempts to understand consciousness that rely on the intrinsic properties of certain neurons or certain areas of the brain are doomed to failure.”

        What I call “consciousness,” is NOT the same as what “religious” people call “spirit.” In my blog post from February 1, 2015 called “In The Beginning,” I describe consciousness as “the conduit of the spirit in our individual lives.” Whereas “Spirit,” is the foundation of all things, and “Life,” (with a capital L) is a manifestation of the spirit, consciousness is the means through which the spirit is made manifest in the temporal world. What many of us describe as “the human spirit,” for me at least, addresses the unique perspective of human beings in recognizing the existence of a “non-physical” aspect to our humanity, of which we are uniquely aware as sentient and highly intelligent creatures, possessing not only a cognitive apparatus with higher cognitive functionality than other species, but also a keen subjective awareness of existing in a way that no other artificial intelligence could hope to possess.

        I appreciate very much your interest in inquiring further on this subject, and have nearly three hundred postings available here for you to peruse which expand upon my understanding and viewpoints on many relevant areas of this topic. Perhaps you might consider reviewing some of these offerings as a means of expanding your exposure to my thinking and appreciate better the fullness of my philosophical and technical approach to consciousness.

        Kind regards…John H.

      • Thank you, it would be interesting to read more from you on the issue.

  2. simplywendi says:

    I really enjoyed this blog post as meditation has now become a part of every day. This practice has helped me in ways I never thought possible and hope to bring it to a higher level.

    • jjhiii24 says:

      Wendi,

      I’m glad you enjoyed this entry and that you are receiving benefit from your own practice. Enhancing the connection to our deeper being requires us to pursue that connection deliberately and with purpose, and doing so with at least some regularity. Sometimes people get caught up in trying to maintain a regimen and lose sight of the more important aspect of contemplation which is illumination, and that doesn’t usually come on a schedule. Lots of people also don’t think they have enough time to find for deliberate attention to their inner lives, and while modern life can get pretty darn busy, it mostly just requires making it a priority generally, and looking for ways to incorporate it in their daily lives. Even just setting aside some brief periods of time in between activities can help.

      I’ve been checking your blog periodically and I am enjoying the insights you share, which are sometimes brief, but potent, like “snowflakes,” and “the quiet,” and others like “true love,” which stir the reader with a serious and hopeful message. My favorite though is still your post on “isolation,” from back in July.

      I know it’s challenging for you to write at length, but I know your readers would benefit and appreciate your thoughts in that way as well.

      Thanks for your thoughtful comment. Warm regards….John H.

      • simplywendi says:

        Thank you so very much John for leaving such a lengthy and concise response, I deeply appreciate your insight and suggestions.
        Yes, it is difficult for me to write at length as it pushes my brain beyond it’s limits at times and with several kiddos at home I get enough of that throughout my days. 🙂
        I hope to write more at length in the future and I appreciate your encouragement. Bless You!

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