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Is Consciousness an illusion or is it a real phenomenon?

Posted April 13, 2011 by Angela Murphy in Open

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commented on yesterday
by dustproduction

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In tonight's teleseminar with Susan Blackmore and Marilyn Schitz, they discuss whether consciousness is an illusion or a real phenomenon. What do you think? Is it both or neither?

  • 78 Comments  
  • Anonymous Icon

    dustproduction Nov 26, 2014

    Since I know that Jim will always be "lurking" here, I'll post this for him to consider. It's part of a response to Sam Harris by Jerry Coyne.

    "I had similar experiences on various psychoactive substances when I was in college, and some of them were even transformative. The problem is not with us realizing that people can feel at one with the universe or, especially, at one with God; the problem comes with us taking this as evidence for some supernatural reality. What does it mean to say that an experience is legitimate? If someone thinks that he saw Jesus, I am prepared to believe that he thought that he saw Jesus, but I am not prepared to say that he really did see Jesus, nor that that constitutes any evidence for the existence of Jesus."

  • Anonymous Icon

    dustproduction Nov 26, 2014

    We've heard this before!

  • Anonymous Icon

    Jim Centi Nov 26, 2014

    Dustproduction,

    What a predicament, liberation and inner peace through surrender and yet, this is what I have come to.

    I hereby free myself from both you and Discussions.

  • Anonymous Icon

    dustproduction Nov 26, 2014

    What "awkward position?"

  • Anonymous Icon

    dustproduction Nov 26, 2014

    What "ackward position?"

  • Anonymous Icon

    Jim Centi Nov 26, 2014

    Dustproduction,

    One of the most important tasks you have in this forum is to post several misleading and distractive comments after I have placed you in an awkward position.

  • Anonymous Icon

    dustproduction Nov 25, 2014

    Re: "I am active in the Death with Dignity movement."

    Does this relate to the discussion in some way?

  • Anonymous Icon

    dustproduction Nov 25, 2014

    There is some recent science research that puts an interesting twist of this question of what is it that we experience.

    A very recent study out of the University of Wisconsin-Madison informs us that "imagination, and reality flow in opposite directions in the brain."
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/11/141120141442.htm
    "In contrast, visual information taken in by the eyes tends to flow from the occipital lobe -- which makes up much of the brain's visual cortex -- "up" to the parietal lobe."

    However, another recent study shows that "imagination can change what we hear and see."
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130627125156.htm

    "This is the first set of experiments to definitively establish that the sensory signals generated by one's imagination are strong enough to change one's real-world perception of a different sensory modality" says Professor Henrik Ehrsson, the principle investigator behind the study.

  • Anonymous Icon

    dustproduction Nov 25, 2014

    Jim, What is so difficult about this question for you. You either dodge questions or feel attacked. If I have misrepresented the discussion just set the record straight.

  • Anonymous Icon

    Jim Centi Nov 25, 2014

    @Dustprodiuction

    For perspective, I neglected to add in my previous comment that I am active in the Death with Dignity movement.

  • Anonymous Icon

    Jim Centi Nov 25, 2014

    @Noetpoet

    Your comment is valid and I accept it graciously.

  • Anonymous Icon

    Jim Centi Nov 25, 2014

    Dustproduction,

    Out of compassion, I informed you of the most rapidly growing popular form of suicide and you completely ignore my comment and quote PARTIAL comments I made long ago, OUT OF CONTEXT.

    Then you quote yourself and leave out vital sentences.

    Why are you attempting to attack me?

  • NoetPoet Nov 25, 2014

    @Jim
    "When one accepts that there is no purpose for us being here or in other terms, there is no purpose or meaning for life, some degree of depression occurs. It follows that there is a subtle or not so subtle consideration of suicide. "

    That's a very glass-half-empty way to look at the situation. Why not instead see the universe as a great big sandbox which (literally) gives you the space and freedom to come up with your own meaning and purpose?

  • Anonymous Icon

    dustproduction Nov 25, 2014

    I grow tired of playing verbal mind games but I will make an attempt to restate my point.

    We might look back to some of the older comments for a vontext for the more recent thread of comments. Jim wrote: "Then, as if by magic an experience permeated my being. It provided a sense of ecstasy and awe, the experience of eternity or infinity and the amazing realization "Oh, that's what I am"." Adding, "Although I did not leave my body, there was indisputable knowing that my experience of being confined within a human body had been a deeply held, tedious illusion. Even though this experience occurred forty years ago and lasted only a few hours; it provides the foundation for everything that I now know or believe."

    Jim also writes, "I am considering amending my belief relative to the nature of reality as follows:
    The higher form of intelligence which created the universe has inserted into our reality a very seductive feature. We can engage in this feature with others and experience such things as passion, intimacy or aggression. We can engage in this feature with ourselves and experience a wide range of phenomena such as self aggrandizement and habitual performance. With the advent of modern technology, we can expose our prowess in this feature in front of an audience."

    More recent comments by Jim state, "I have a life aside.... and will be transcending to that other life."

    Now my question, which none of the previous comments addresses, remains, "What is the purpose of experiencing this material form of reality?" How is this understood as "some sort of model. (We cannot examine separate pieces of the puzzle and not have them form a big picture model, or identify certain conflicts in the model.) If the self falls away, if we "transcend" there is a simple question to ask, why are we here?

    This is the question that remains outside of the model Jim is describing.

  • Anonymous Icon

    Jim Centi Nov 25, 2014

    I really didn't think it would be necessary to explain my comment to you, but here goes.

    On Nov 21 you wrote: “If reality or the illusion of a reality falls away there is a simple question to ask, why are we here? What is the purpose of experiencing this material form of reality?”

    From the state of awareness from which your two questions arise, I see only two possibilities. First, you could create a belief that justifies why we are here. Second, you would reach the conclusion that there is no purpose for us being here.

    Since you are not one to accept beliefs that are not based on scientific fact, it is likely that you would reach the conclusion that there is no purpose for us being here.

    When one accepts that there is no purpose for us being here or in other terms, there is no purpose or meaning for life, some degree of depression occurs. It follows that there is a subtle or not so subtle consideration of suicide.

    Considering the possibility that you have or will consider suicide, I thought that I would provide you with what is becoming the most popular method of suicide.

    That should explain the meaning of my comment.

  • Anonymous Icon

    dustproduction Nov 24, 2014

    Jim, What the f^&k you are even talking about?

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    Jim Centi Nov 24, 2014

    Dusty, I was very curious as to how you would respond to my last comment.

    You said “If reality, or the illusion of a reality falls away there is a simple question to ask, why are we here? What is the purpose of experiencing this material form of reality?”

    That sounded like someone who is on the verge of or in the throes of a depressive state.

    My response was to provide you with an option to your depression and give you something to think about; in addition to the traditional science corner stone that consciousness is imprisoned in the brain.

    The other part of my comment was simply fluff to provide a context for offering you with an option to your depression.

    Actually, there are many reasons why I do not go the helium route; holding out for the hundredth monkey syndrome is not even on the list.

  • Anonymous Icon

    dustproduction Nov 24, 2014

    Jim, According to your understanding of conscious experiencing what is "madness" or mental illness? Is it the conscious spirit in distress or is it an issue with the brain-spirit interface?

  • Anonymous Icon

    Jim Centi Nov 21, 2014

    I purchased a book entitled “Five Last Acts Second Edition” about a year ago. It describes the five most popular methods of committing suicide.

    The most popular method is to run a hose from a helium tank up through a plastic bag over the head which is tied securely around the neck. In less than two minutes you are asleep and within four to five minutes you are dead; no pain and no mess.

    What prevents me from doing the deed is that many years ago, for several hours; I experienced a transcendent reality in which there is indescribable beauty and absolute perfection.

    I have the hope that somehow the hundredth monkey syndrome will kick in and all humanity will experience this indescribable beauty of the transcendent reality in which there is “direct knowing” and no necessity for conceptual thought.

  • Anonymous Icon

    dustproduction Nov 21, 2014

    What I am not understanding, and perhaps I asked this before, is how you have this understood into some sort of model. We cannot examine separate pieces of the puzzle and not have them form a big picture model, or identify certain conflicts in the model.

    If reality, or the illusion of a reality falls away there is a simple question to ask, why are we here? What is the purpose of experiencing this material form of reality?

  • Anonymous Icon

    Jim Centi Nov 20, 2014

    @noet,

    If the Zen masters said that, I’ll go along with it.

    I am reluctant to be repetitive, but it is easy for me to become entangled in the amusement of conceptual thought.

    I am beginning to realize that I may not be qualified to speak of these things.

    I will fall back on the words of another master who said “leave all things to take their natural course and do not interfere.”

    He added something to the effect “Who is it that can make the muddy waters clear, but if left unattended they will eventually clear on their own.”

  • NoetPoet Nov 20, 2014

    @Jim
    "It is not the self that transcends; it is consciousness, reality or whatever label is accommodating to you, which transcends the illusion of a permanent self."

    I thought you considered consciousness to be an illusion Jim? And why would "reality or whatever" need to transcend the illusion of a permanent self? Reality is reality, and the illusory self is just one phenomenon among countless others within reality. It would therefore seem that the Zen masters were right when they said that there is no transcendence or enlightenment to attain.

  • Anonymous Icon

    Jim Centi Nov 20, 2014

    My previous comment was posted in error. What follows is what should have been posted.

    To answer your question involves perceiving from a direction other than the self.

    It is not the self that transcends; it is consciousness, reality or whatever label is accommodating to you, which transcends the illusion of a permanent self.

  • Anonymous Icon

    Jim Centi Nov 19, 2014

    I am extremely reluctant to engage in discussion with you because your MO is to trap and criticize.

    Overcoming my reluctance, I will answer this one question.

    To answer the question involves perceiving from a direction other than the self.

    It is not the self that transcends; it is reality that transcends the self or it is reality that transcends the illusion of a permanent self.

  • Anonymous Icon

    dustproduction Nov 19, 2014

    Pointing out the conflicts you, and others, present is mirroring. Its a shame you continue to duck the issue.

  • Anonymous Icon

    Jim Centi Nov 19, 2014

    In another topic you said to me:

    “I’m just acting as the mirror, the "other" to your "self."

    If you are the “other” to my “self”, it is contradictory to ask questions of me.

    Unlike you, I have a life aside from Discussions and will be transcending to that other life.

  • Anonymous Icon

    dustproduction Nov 18, 2014

    Jim, what I am is utterly confused by these conflicting ideas. First you suggest that there the self is an illusion, but you also seem to be on the side of the spiritualists that think their consciousness transcends to someplace. Clue us in. What do you believe transcends if its not the self?

  • NoetPoet Nov 18, 2014

    @Jim
    "Reading what you write often makes me think that you are an alien."

    LOL WTF?!

    Then again I guess you would know, considering how off the planet you are!

  • Anonymous Icon

    Jim Centi Nov 18, 2014

    Reading what you write often makes me think that you are an alien.

  • Anonymous Icon

    dustproduction Nov 17, 2014

    Re: "when scientists, in an attempt to make reality more understandable, began labeling aspects of reality and categorized us as Homo sapiens, they were categorizing the reality they perceived."

    Who's worse, the scientists, the spiritual zealots, or the dumb-ass parents that spend the first five developmentally important ages of a child life instilling them with nonsense?
    Jim is still fighting off the demon's he complains about so casting off the mind set of our early influences seem near impossible.

  • Anonymous Icon

    dustproduction Nov 17, 2014

    Can we be made aware of something without being conscious of it? Yes
    Can there be consciousness in a moment with limited awareness? Yes.

    What's is the point here?

  • Anonymous Icon

    Jim Centi Nov 17, 2014

    Silverghost,

    I don’t know if I can state this in a comprehensible manner, but here goes:

    Referring back to the Donald Duck topic; when scientists, in an attempt to make reality more understandable, began labeling aspects of reality and categorized us as Homo sapiens, they were categorizing the reality they perceived.

    Assume for a moment that what we are is not something that is perceptible to human sensory experience or restricted to the human reality.

    Not cognizant of our limitations stated in the previous paragraph, we continued the pattern of naming or labeling what we subjectively experience; such as consciousness and awareness (C&A).

    Assuming we are not something confined exclusively to the human reality, terms such as C&A could be simply word symbols appropriate for the reality that could be referred to as our previous cocoon stage.

    We could discuss this a bit, but I expect that Dusty and Noet will jump in and destroy such a discussion before it attains any degree of comprehensibility to readers.

  • Anonymous Icon

    dustproduction Nov 15, 2014

    What books have you read on the subject?

  • Silverghost Nov 15, 2014

    To be aware you need consciousness to do so, if consciousness is an illusion so is awareness, what is anything without a conscious awareness? It's nothingness, an ignorance to all that is including this nothingness.

    To be aware of this nothingness you have to be conscious of this nothingness otherwise this nothing doesn't exist either, it is also an illusion.

  • Anonymous Icon

    Jim Centi Nov 10, 2014

    Dusty, I'm posting a topic today that touches on consciousness, we can discuss it here or over there.

    Any discussion relative to consciousness should be open to everyone and I'm extending that invitation by way of this sentence..

  • Anonymous Icon

    dustproduction Nov 09, 2014

    Jiim, Let's take up the discussion of whether consciousness is an illusion here.

  • YARAru May 14, 2011

    Jim Centi,
    I talked about the reaction of the organism rather than dependency.
    Probably the meaning of my phrase is imprecise because of my bad English,
    I in no way wanted to insult you.

    Sorry, YARA.

  • DyckDyck May 14, 2011

    Relative to understanding the basics of consciousness or illusion or reality, drugs do not seem relevant to me. Maybe its like trying to explain the experienced pain of a broken toe to someone with ALS or bone cancer (sure, we all know what pain is don't we?).

    ... is there perhaps have another tack?

  • Anonymous Icon

    Jim Centi May 14, 2011

    YARA
    I have the choice of completely ignoring you or becoming very angry. I’ll try to respond to you as politely as possible. As best as I can tell from your post you have accused me of being addicted to drugs. I am not now and never have been addicted to drugs. You have completely misunderstood my post. Please do not expect me to respond to your future comments.

  • YARAru May 14, 2011

    Jim Centi,
    Perhaps an experiment was aimed at identifying the organism to a drug addiction.
    That is a weaker reaction to a drug upon repeated administration for not long intervals of time.
    And probably have been using are full of a preporat, but not both.
    About the dosage can not I have nothing to say, it all depends on the strength of the impact on the method of drug administration.

    (Sorry for my bad English)

    YARA

  • Anonymous Icon

    Jim Centi May 14, 2011

    We have drifted away from the Susan Blackmore seminar and I would like to get back to it because we went through a similar phase.

    Susan stated that about thirty or thirty five years ago she was involved with the hippy movement and her experience of one with the universe began with smoking a joint. [ there was a variety of drugs being used back then.]

    About thirty or thirty five years ago I was also involved with the hippy movement. I volunteered to participate in an experiment [several years after my initial experience which did not involve drugs] to determine if I would reenter my previous experience through the ingestion of certain psychotropics.

    After all these years, my memory of the experience is somewhat clear, but I am very fuzzy on the details relative to the protocol of the experiment.

    It began with a six hour fast and then several cycles of somewhere around forty minutes after which a small amount of either MDMA and/or psilocybin was ingested. A sitter was utilized to keep track of the time intervals and the amount of each psychotropic to be ingested. The experiment, not including the fast, I believe lasted somewhere around six hours.

    The experience was similar to the experience I previously described and I believe that the difference was probably the setting or environment in which the experiment was conducted.

    If anyone can clear up my fuzzy memory of the protocol -- time duration between cycles, specific amounts of MDMA and psilocybin used and the number of cycles, I believe there could be some value in this.

    Perhaps the guys discussing drugs could help or someone familiar with artificially induced mystical experiences.

  • YARAru May 14, 2011

    DuckDuck,
    When I was in a state of altered consciousness all the questions become not important. Feeling the simple truth that can not be explained to the words. All change its meaning.
    But when I came back, this feeling disappears. Very strange ....
    What do you think got into the habit?

    (Sorry for my bad English)

    YARA

  • DyckDyck May 13, 2011

    Jim Centi and YARAru,
    It's really great to get such openness and candor. It is encouraging to me. Thank you! You remind me I have a longing to engage deeply with others, that is so often simply not to be.

    My longing is to engage the unknown, even the unknowable, and others are necessary to add real life, diversity & wisdom. To play around with it, like a child trying to figure out what to do with sand or water. And that's fun to me. You know, like a child- right now, I don't know what trees are for. Or, what my thinking is for. Or, why I'm afraid to give myself completely over to love.

    I'm aware enough to be conscious of my simply making statements, like a simpleton, from where I'm at and what I 'think' I know. I'm aware that this doesn't move me along in my journey to realize what I am, and to live fully.

    I must find how to go into the unknown... to propose a question, a meaningful question that I have interest in. I must allow it to change & develop... to allow the question to take me somewhere over time. It can become alive, being with me every day. As soon as I answer the question it is dead so I don't want to answer the question.

    I want to allow the right question to pull me up into it, teaching me about its dimensions. If I pull the question down to my simpleton world, I make my such-limited answers fit the question, and there is nothing new.

  • YARAru May 12, 2011

    JimCenti, I agree with you is that no one can know what consciousness is and does it all.
    People are simply expressing their opinion on the matter.
    I think that consciousness exists and I have some theories on my personal experience and my knowledge. But I'm not sure (probably like everyone) is that my thinking is correct. Maybe I'll give them up in favor of other theories.
    Probably always will be, we will discard the old theological, coming up with new and returning again to the old and the former does not know the truth ...

    (Sorry for my bad English)

    YARA

  • Anonymous Icon

    Jim Centi May 12, 2011

    DyckDyck, You say "all these words.....words of proclaiming and declaring and asserting....implying everyone knows what is consciousness.....etc.

    From my perspective the discussions don't really resolve anything; their purpose is to provide the opportunity to look inside and grow or perhaps grow a bit from what someone else has said. I find them much more worthwhile than common chit chat.

    There is no answer to the question as to whether consciousness is real or illusion. No one in here, in the seminars or academia knows what consciousness is. In one of the older seminars someone commented "We don't even know if consciousness is human or not". Now that's something worth contemplating and discussing.

    You said "maybe I need to give up." I think that would be a mistake. In my opinion, you have contributed much.

    It was your insight that caused me to post this comment. It was your insightful question that provoked me to sum up the context for my life, a while back. In a sense, bleeding all over the stage as I did was a failure, because it did not generate any responses. I have discovered that occasionally when I speak from the heart, people simply don't give a shit.

  • frequencytuner May 11, 2011

    There is only one who has the answer. That person is the very one who is asking the question itself.

  • DyckDyck May 11, 2011

    All these words... words of proclaiming and declaring and asserting... implying everyone knows what is consciousness... to provide their answer to what's real and illusion.

    Yet I see only evidence of selling... having an image to promote. I realize this is a little caustic (my frustration). Sorry, maybe I need to give up.

    What is consciousness, and what is its content?

    The probability seems extremely high that there is not one among us who has the answers. So, how would you begin if you agreed?

  • YARAru May 10, 2011

    I can not imagine what could be more real than consciousness.
    Consciousness creates the world around us, creates a perception of the world, and when the state of consciousness is changing, and changing the world we experience.
    Reality loses its quality, the real becomes not real or less real than ever before, and vice versa ....

    (sorry for my bad english)

  • Anonymous Icon

    Jim Centi May 09, 2011

    Morrisha, In considering the possibility that I may have been a bit close-minded in my response to your comment, I have explored a few of your comments in other topics.

    In one of those comments, you posted the following link:

    http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/jill_bolte_taylor_s_powerful_stroke_of_insight.html

    I viewed Jill Bolte's video and was so impressed that I downloaded the audio version of her book "A Stroke of Insight" from amazon. Under a sweet deal they have, the audio version can be downloaded free. It's important to not purchase the disc; that is not free and it takes a couple of months for delivery.

    She is a brain scientist and the audio version of her book is the story of her experience of having a stroke and recovering from it over an eight year period.

    Experiencing her story has been a wild ride for me, in that It opened up the possibility that, just possibly, the mystical experience of euphoria, oneness with the universe and transcendence of the illusion of time is a function of the right hemisphere of the brain.

    Although it will be difficult for me to make the transition from my previous position, I am now willing to accept that possibility.

    In the effort to not appear as a slave to your dominance, I must say that she is much easier to understand than your posts.....Jim

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    Jim Centi May 08, 2011

    Morrisha, It is not my intention to compete with you in the Amusement Park of Conceptual Thought; I bow to you artistry with concept manipulation.

    I may have failed to grasp your arguments completely, but it seems they are based on the premise that everything experienced is dependent on the brain and its mechanisms.

    The conflict between those who hold that all experience is dependent on the brain and those who have tasted the mystical has gone on from before you and i existed in our current form and it may continue after we have departed this realm.

    What I experienced is more real to me than the words that either of us could ever write. What we are is not physical, it is eternal; infinite, it was not born and it will not die. I cannot convince you with words that this is so. You cannot convince me with words that what we really are is dependent on a brain that exists in space and time.

    Our perceptions relative to the nature of reality are simply too divergent to be reconciled in this forum, so please accept that I am unlikely to participate in the futile endeavor of responding to your possible retort; however, others here may enjoy it.

    As a side note, "I think therefore I am" is being revised in the field of neuroscience. What is coming into vogue is something similar to the following: " I thought that I think, but I don't, you may think that you think, but I won't."

  • ewaweel May 08, 2011

    Consciousness is a pure form of knowing, beyond concept, beyond thought. Consciousness is walking on a fogged road on a waking day and watching the sun dissipate the mist, giving away morning dew.

    Consciousness is an illusion as well as a very real thing. It all depends from the point of view. How could one talk about light and colors to a blind person, how can a sailor convey his knowledge of the ocean and the sky to a farmer.

    There is a huge difference between understand the complexity of life, our current scientific approach, and comprehend Life when in “alpha state”. Only in such a state of mind and conscience, can one starts to estimate the immensity of his ignorance. There is a world of difference between reading, studying and lecturing about shamanism and practicing shamanism, for example.

    There is no “we”, “you” or “me” when in an “alpha” state. Nothing exists but Consciousness. Only then, can Free Will and a sense of self emerge like the dew in the morning day. The purpose of separateness of personal consciousness from the universal Consciousness is to experience the joy of being simply alive. This gift of life is the biggest mystery of personal consciousness.

    To think that Consciousness is an illusion is like walking along a fogged road on a waking day. To keep walking along this road, to live and breathe then, is far from being “pointless”, once the sun lights up morning dew along the road. You need to walk on the road before talking and writing about it.

    E.W. Aweel

  • Anonymous Icon

    Jim Centi May 07, 2011

    Hi guys,
    Since posting my comment to DyckDyck's question, I realize that my last paragraph was --- at one extreme lacking and on the other extreme simply stupid.

    I should have said "Looking back at my life over the last forty years, the experience could be viewed from a variety of perspectives; from one perspective it has been a hindrance to my social life."

    I am in the later years of life and occasionally imagine the end of it. Living a life of extreme solitude occasionally causes concern. For example, who's going to take care of my cat?

    Looking back over the last forty years from the broadest perspective, I would really not wish to change anything....Jim

  • Anonymous Icon

    morrisha May 07, 2011

    Its so easy to get sucked into long winded metaphysical discussions about whether consciousness is real. It presupposes a discussion about what is real. If reality is your sense data then how is it differentiated from a dream? The answer is not important as the question is probably wrong and cannot be answered. A bit like asking, what color is the sun, the answer is - it depends. Consciousness depends upon what you are anchoring it, and if that is the brain and its mechanisms, then that is where you start when asking the question is consciousness real. So far so good. If the brain is real then the consciousness that supervenes on it should be considered real. Thus - "I think, therefore I am". If I am real, then I am conscious, therefore, consciousness is real. Ok - what is consciousness?

    Personally, I think it is a framework/matrix/system/fabric/universe, a structured domain. The domain is accessed individually/personally...ie cognition acquired from sense apparatus with knowledge of the domain created, deductively, adductively, and inductively. This allows basic human operation at a survival level. The structures of the brain [gods design perhaps] are designed to interact seamlessly with the domain in terms of individual need. In addition the domain is accessed universally by many individuals that share knowledge within the domain and with each other. Ie Shared domain/collective consciousness.

    Spiritualism takes us beyond the individual and shared dimensions of the domain, and is accessed via intuition,unconscious processes, dreams, prayer, meditation etc. I think the brain is hot wired for these experiences within the domain however understanding the mechanics is predicated on understanding domain processes for Love, Truth, Morality and Acceptance. In other words, the question should be -"How are domain processes hard-wired in the brain, such that the brain can act as a receiver for domain processes?" Or....."How is consciousness instantiated on the physical brain, and how are the domain processes enabled within the architecture?"

  • Anonymous Icon

    Jim Centi May 06, 2011

    DyckDyck, You asked "Isn't anyone willing to lay down what they 'know' and move beyond our small world, and or cage?"

    In responding to you, I find that I can sum up my life in only a few paragraphs. What follows occurred about forty years ago.

    One evening, I decided to relax by using a technique involving breathing. After a while, I recall thinking "I have never been this relaxed." Then a remarkable realization occurred and I seemed to be straddling two realities. "Thought is appearing in awareness without my volition. I see now that believing that there is an "I" that thinks is an illusion deeply ingrained within human experience."

    Then, as if by magic an experience permeated my being. It provided a sense of ecstasy and awe, the experience of eternity or infinity and the amazing realization "Oh, that's what I am".

    Some small aspect of my previous self remained; but the human sense of self and my life that existed only a few moments earlier were were perceived as a previous incarnation. There was a pure form of knowing that was beyond concept formation, beyond thought; a direct knowing that something profoundly beautiful and mysterious was being revealed.

    Although I did not leave my body, there was indisputable knowing that my experience of being confined within a human body had been a deeply held, tedious illusion.

    Even though this experience occurred forty years ago and lasted only a few hours; it provides the foundation for everything that I now know or believe.

    Some may believe that such an experience is a blessing; from another perspective it has been a curse.

  • DyckDyck May 04, 2011

    What is the point in trading what each thinks we know... no different if under guise of a question?

    Isn't anyone willing to lay down what they 'know' and move beyond our small world, and our cage?

    Doesn't intelligent inquiry begin with a serious question? Where's the question here?

    How can we connect attributes of illusion and real to consciousness, without even considering "What is consciousness?"

    Is it so frightening to our image to begin slowly, tentatively, simply, to ingest a question of such complexity?

  • Anonymous Icon

    Jim Centi Apr 30, 2011

    Fallensoul, an old friend from my hippy days, Terrance McKenna, once said that the cancer of the human mind is the unexamined premise.

    A premise deeply ingrained in human thought and rarely examined is that the most precious gift given to us is the ability to understand; it is our responsibility and destiny to understand.

    Based on this premise we have named, categorized and defined the characteristics of just about everything experienced by our senses or imagination. In an effort to stand on the plateau of understanding we are currently struggling to understand this thing we have named “consciousness” and its second cousin “freewill”.

    Is the “understanding premise” really valid?

    “In the highest stage of divine comfort is that peace which is said to surpass all understanding.” [Tauler]

    It seems as though we both enjoy the seduction of the amusement park of conceptual thought; with a bit of luck, only occasionally. Terrance McKenna died of brain cancer.

  • Fallensoul Apr 29, 2011

    Jim: Heres a good explanation of the Vedic viewpoint. http://www.krishna.com/fate-free-will-and-you

  • Anonymous Icon

    Jim Centi Apr 29, 2011

    It seems that I have always believed that the reality in which we find ourselves was created by a higher form of intelligence. I am giving consideration to revising this belief somewhat.

    If you Google “No Self” or “Freewill” and follow either term with one of the following: Buddhism, Hinduism, Advaita, Nonduality or Neuroscience, you can find some very interesting discussions and differences of opinion.

    After spending several days exploring the many available sites covering these subjects and a few related sites, I am considering amending my belief relative to the nature of reality as follows:

    The higher form of intelligence which created the universe has inserted into our reality a very seductive feature. We can engage in this feature with others and experience such things as passion, intimacy or aggression. We can engage in this feature with ourselves and experience a wide range of phenomena such as self aggrandizement and habitual performance. With the advent of modern technology, we can expose our prowess in this feature in front of an audience.

    An appropriate name for this feature is “The Amusement Park of Conceptual Thought”.

    A very Zen perspective…….

  • DyckDyck Apr 28, 2011

    Mr. Frequencytuner, you appear to put a lot of stock in observation. Won't you acknowledge that past experience and conditioning colors or distorts what one sees?

    As an example, if I see aggression in you and I act defensively toward you, a contentious relationship is in set up. If you are not actually aggressive my perception was wrong. And although it was real to me, it was still illusion... caused by my own conditioning (or thought). I may or may not ever get to a point that I am aware of my conditioning. Personally, I have energy for the possiblility to weaken conditioning (and to see more clearly) even in a single lifetime.

  • frequencytuner Apr 27, 2011

    We are dealing with 3 things, call them whatever you like: the observable, the unobservable and the observer. Just like beauty is in the eye of the beholder, reality is in observation. We call 'real' what can be measured. It is this way because our lower human senses are limited to what they can observe. This does not mean what is unobservable does not exist, but that it simply is our of reach.

    Toward the question, consciousness could be called the creator and observer of the illusion that we call reality. The phenomenon is behind the veil of lower human observation, like black light ink that needs special light to be observed. We simply need to tune into the higher senses to become aware of the phenomenal.

  • DyckDyck Apr 27, 2011

    If consciousness is illusion, and if illusion is not real, than my question is, can not-real know itself to be non existent?

    But what is the content of consciousness? Could it be simply all thought-- past and present, in the process of accumulation? Perhaps it is thought that is not real.

    Is it possible that consciousness itself is latent, like the potential of a seed to grow with its 'intelligence' into a majestic tower of energy.

  • charliet Apr 27, 2011

    Consciousness would be the act of being conscious or in simple terms, aware. We are obviously aware as are most living things, I say "most" in that you can tell if a dog is aware but its pretty difficult to say if a flower is aware. Therefore consciousness is real as I feel I and other beings are "aware".

    Do we need our brain to be conscious? I don't believe we do, research is finding thought (consciousness) is everywhere, I myself find it in my EVP recordings. I believe the brain is simply a place for consciousness to reside while we are on this plain, the brain receives the information from our senses, our consciousness retrieves what it desires from the brain. Most of us already agree that the soul / spirit does not need the body to exist, it simply makes experiencing this world easier.

    Our world is a touchy feely place.

  • Anonymous Icon

    Soulweaver Apr 27, 2011

    Is Consciousness an illusion or is it a real phenomenon? First let me state that I believe my 'consciousness' to be separate from the workings of my brain. My brain is a physical tool that allows me to explore the depth of my consciousness. If I make a conscious intention to view the portal that my spirit uses to leave my body during my dreamtime prior to going to sleep, and then upon returning to my body prior to awakening fully I view the portal from the inside of my head outwards, has my brain contrived the image or has my conscious willful intention allowed me to actually observe the portal? We are a long way as a species from being able to define either consciousness or reality, IMHO. Until we have the full use andn understanding of our brain and the full activation of all of our DNA sequences, we can only speculate.

  • Fallensoul Apr 27, 2011

    Thank you Jim for your honest reply from the heart. Just recently, I heard one of my teachers say, "Of all forms of evidence for establishing the truth, experience from one's own life is the strongest." It certainly seems to hold true in this case, and for many of us here. He went on to say that experience can be gained by seeing -- physical experiences -- and also by hearing, and of the two hearing from authorities is superior. Afterall, "there's more to reality that meets the eye." Reality is so vast and we are so small, what can we hope to understand? But by hearing from those who are self realized -- who imbibe the timeless teachings (e.g. Bhagavad Gita) -- we can transcend our limitations and taste a drop from the nectar ocean of truth and beauty. The truth and beauty of the Source. And after having once tasted THAT nectar which we are hankering so much for, what experience offered in this world can possibly compare?

    I have found that associating with such personalities either through their words or physical association has really helped me expand my consciousness in tangible and meaningful ways. The real mystery is the sunshine of compassion shown by these personalities unto a fallen soul like myself struggling to find light in this dark universe!

    Good luck in your spiritual quest Jim. I look forward to hearing of your experiences and conclusions...

  • Anonymous Icon

    Jim Centi Apr 26, 2011

    Fallensoul,

    Your comments have forced me to take a step back and look at things from another perspective.

    About forty years ago, I entered into an experience that lasted a few hours and never returned with the same intensity. Following this experience, I drew certain conclusions relative to the nature of reality and my life has been held within the context of those conclusions for about forty years.

    In responding to your comments about Susan, I was verbalizing one of these conclusions and see now this was a foolish mistake.

    Much of the past forty years has been spent in solitude and contemplation. By modern society's standards, my life has not bee a desirable experience, but if given the opportunity to do so, I would not change anything.

    If reality unfolds in an accommodating manner, I may post the circumstances which led up to my experience and perhaps a few conclusions, but you can bet the ranch that I will not jump in recklessly as I did with you.

    Thank you for the opportunity to take a more expanded view of things. Best wishes, Jim

  • Anonymous Icon

    lifenergy Apr 25, 2011

    There is some very interesting "fringe" research being done by a few people who have discovered an energy field around living people that has a number of remarkable attributes, some with a possible connection to consciousness. It is apparent this field only surrounds a living person, there is no field around a lifeless person. Also it seems the field can exist in cohesive form free of and independent of the body. What if this field contains at least part of our consciousness? Would it not account for a number of unexplained phenomena like Near Death Experiences or Out of Body Experiences? I am quite surprised that organizations like IONS have not taken on this type of research as the equipment now available is able to repeat experiments with the same results. Is there anyone out there willing to take up the challenge? Please let me know.

  • Fallensoul Apr 25, 2011

    Jim / nonlocalmuster: Okay I hear your point -- although it came across that behind the language, she was actually saying, "Look getting all that hate mail, really wore me (as a person) down." -- Now my analysis of that is that one has to have some certain degree of a sense of self to make that kind of statement and the listeners, like me, definitely felt what she was feeling and empathized with her and understood her decision. Fundamental natural response. It seemed more to me that although she puts up this philosophy of no self, she hasn't yet been able to fully realize it in her personal life. She's still trying to practice that, and thats what makes it so difficult -- because its nearly impossible to deny the self. For whatever her reasons are for accepting that there is no self -- On a subtle level, she can't help but have a sense of self. It came out quite clearly in this example.

    And if the language is so upside down that you can barely communicate the right idea, why would the universe be so silly as to allow it.

    >If she said "The universe made the decision to etc. etc.", when addressing every change in her life, the audience would think she was an idiot.
    But this is actually what she believes! Interesting that you feel the audience would think this statement is stupid.

    >From the perspective of no personal self and no free will, there is no "we", "you" or "me".
    Then why bother to do anything? If nothing makes a difference and I have no free will or a sense of self, why bother acting at all? Its pointless, right?

    >It seems impossible to engage in conversation without coming face to face with this paradox.
    >Currently, I see no deficiency in Susan's thinking, It is a deficiency built into our language. Our language is structured within the paradigm that >there are separate selves that exist separate or independent of each other and the universe.
    Seems like thats fundamental and seems like a very impractical philosophy to go against that, especially if you cant use language to communicate normally.

    >If this thread continues, I believe this may come up often.
    Well unless you try hard to speak in the "The universe made me...." but even that has the universe and you. Really difficult!

    >The interesting thing about this is that there is no danger in offending anyone. After all, there is no one that can offend and no one to be offended.
    This is even more concerning! If theres no concept of responsibility then according to this philosophy everyone can get away with murder. Who would accept such a philosophy, especially a morally abiding citizen as yourself...i mean...the universe.

    Perhaps Jim there is a philosophy that accepts the scientific data that our we do have not complete free will and things are predetermined and that one can be illusioned in this world and that there is oneness with the universe AND that we are also individual beings.

  • Anonymous Icon

    Jim Centi Apr 23, 2011

    Fallensoul,
    A common mistake we make is to take a sentence someone says, view it through our own world view and judge it as a contradiction in their thinking.

    Your comment follows:
    "Of course Susan had a tough time trying to defend her position because it is an awfully "difficult" one to defend. Like for example, if she choose to leave parapsychology because of hate mail and not going anywhere--which are very valid personal reasons-- but then wasn't that a personal choice she just made, rather than the universe making it for her-"

    I have listened to the seminar only once and may be mistaken, but I believe that Susan's position is that there is no personal or separate self and therefore no freewill. If she said "I chose to leave because etc".......that wording was used because that is the way humans [illusions of a separate self] communicate with one another.

    If she said "The universe made the decision to etc. etc.", when addressing every change in her life, the audience would think she was an idiot.

    For example, consider my opening comment "A common mistake we make etc". This represents the way we illusions of a separate self talk to one another. From the perspective of no personal self and no free will, there is no "we", "you" or "me".

    It seems impossible to engage in conversation without coming face to face with this paradox. Currently, I see no deficiency in Susan's thinking, It is a deficiency built into our language. Our language is structured within the paradigm that there are separate selves that exist separate or independent of each other and the universe.

    If this thread continues, I believe this may come up often. The interesting thing about this is that there is no danger in offending anyone. After all, there is no one that can offend and no one to be offended. (: ,

  • Fallensoul Apr 23, 2011

    Some interesting points indeed. Susan Blackmore was quite humble and honest about her experiences and subsequent view of reality and I give credit to her for engaging with IONS knowing that she would have to defend her ideas, which certainly isnt easy -- Respect to her.

    She made an interesting point about the hate mail coming from very strong believers, i guess religious fanatics. Very unfortunate. Hopefully she doesnt class all spiritual seekers in the same box. The opposite is also equally true -- the hardcore materialist scientists scream foul play the second you present some idea against their current limited theories, as Marilyn mentioned, its so interesting to see how someone shuts out opposing ideas -- theres even scientific evidence suggestive of that!

    Ofcourse Susan had a tough time trying to defend her position because its an awfully "difficult" one to defend. Like for example, if she chose to leave parapsychology because of hate mail and not going anywhere -- which are very valid personal reasons -- but then wasn't that a personal choice she just made, rather than the universe making it for her -- rather if we stick to her idea of reality why didnt she practice to accept it? There were many contradictions and one got the sense of someone trying to fit into a shoe that isnt the right size and trying to convince yourself that its the right size. In one word, "Difficult" The irony of it is that being endowed with free will, one has the choice to be illusioned!

    Marilyn also picked up nicely by essentially saying that you speak as an authority on the subject -- as if you know whats going on -- but then you also say its a great mystery. Its an incredibly important point. Modern science does the same thing! Due to the unfortunate situation that science rules the educational system as an authority, they speak over and above their due limits -- they ideas and theories particularly when it comes to consciousness, are highly speculative and open to much interpretation of data, yet they claim with full conviction that theres nothing more to consciousness than the brain, yet on a "personal level" they admit, well we dont know much about consciousness. This is essentially cheating. Hypocritical behavior.

    Better to be more honest and say I dont know than propagate ideas and books --in a not so humble way-- that mislead so many people, especially in the name of "good science" -- essentially shutting out any idea outside a material viewpoint.

    Regarding free will and destiny. I discuss a vedic alternative idea to what was discussed that actually brings both viewpoints together.

    p.s its ad-vey-ta philosophy. one word. Susan said something else (which kind of exposed the fact, that she didnt know much about it!).

  • Anonymous Icon

    Jim Centi Apr 22, 2011

    Angela, Thank you so much for calling our attention to this seminar.

    In my post ALTERED STATES, I touched on this subject from a less academic, perhaps superficial manner. In that post, I was reluctant to discuss my experience of one with the universe and also my opinion that free will is an illusion. Perhaps this was an attempt to avoid controversy.

    I look forward to this thread evolving and participating in it.

  • Angela Murphy Apr 22, 2011

    Very interesting points have been brought up in this discussion. If you haven't heard the teleseminar, you can listen to it here: http://www.noetic.org/library/audio-teleseminars/the-curious-illusion-of-consciousness-with-susan-b/

    Marilyn Schlitz welcomes differing opinions in the exploration of consciousness and does a wonderful job with this interview (in my opinion).

  • Fallensoul Apr 15, 2011

    Susan Blackmore is an illusion, Marilyn Schitz is a real phenomenon.

  • PonsAnimus Apr 15, 2011

    Sorry for the second post, but I'd like to illustrate a bit more what i ment with "both at the same time". Please answer the following question:
    What is pain ? - and pls be careful with a 'quick shot answer'. ;)

  • PonsAnimus Apr 14, 2011

    It is both and at the same time.

  • marcusantonio91 Apr 14, 2011

    To paraphrase last week's teleseminar, surely only a concious entity can suffer an illusion

  • slowlygetnthar Apr 13, 2011


    I don't think consciousness is an illusion. If our brains are electromagnetic receivers, then, I think consciousness is the processor or filter through which all observations pass, and the place in which information is held as a lens through which we see our experience of the physical and spiritual realms.

    The place where I have been stuck lately is in trying to understand the purpose of separateness of consciousness from the Universal Consciousness/God Energy/All that Is/Yahweh. That Kabbalah story about the divine light being put in a vessel that could not contain it, and then, the vessel bursting, and humans as containing shards of that Divine spark has really got me pondering. If we contain the God spark, it seems natural for that spark to have resonance and connectivity and necessity of recombining fully with the Divine Light from which it originated. If this merge is achieved (Nirvana) then, do we lose separate consciousness?

    Is separateness the illusion? Maybe we are not distant from Universal Consciousness, but just facets of the same glittering light. We need to remember that resonance and connectivity. Then, everything seems possible.

  • Theoldman Apr 13, 2011

    Is Consciousness an illusion or is it a real phenomenon? Three things - consciousness, illusion, and phenomenon - is an illusion a phenomenon, and the fact you see it mean you have consciousness. This begs the question - what is a "real" phenomenon? Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, not a phallic symbol, or a product of Cuba! The issue comes down to the term -"the witness" a person who co-witnessed and hence confirms the reality of "the phenomenon or illusion." Consciousness as it is presently understood is the expression of awareness, be it a dream, a vision, a pragmatic fact or observation of your surroundings, even illusion and phenomenon fit into this context. Where then does this question really originate and what are you really asking? I would like to share this view of how I see the cosmos around me and within me, that helps sort this out the puzzle. When you are raising a question in a dualistic nature, it calls "the answer" as they are part of the same thing. What separates understanding and knowing is not only observing reality but living it. Belief and experience - Belief is a symptom of not knowing and faith is the medicine we take to rationalize it. Experience is the shedding of preconceived belief systems, realized in your experience or glimpse of the cosmos within. Consciousness is our awareness of the cosmos above and within, illusion if seen alone is a glimpse of the unknown, and phenomena is an event just slightly out of reach of our understanding. Hence life is a journey of increased awareness of the wondrous cosmos where one day you realize - your consciousness is the phenomenon of life where illusion is when you ignore it! Just what do YOU think is the step after the leap of - faith: I know it is not an illusion, or where I once thought it to be a phenomenon, has now become a further expansion of my consciousness - which is awareness of existence. Blessings - what happens when you look in the mirror and it disappears - do you disappear!

  • Mark2 Apr 13, 2011

    She has an interesting perspective ... I think she has at least part of it right ... she's observing closely and I think her observation is accurate enough. The issue is the relationship between higher consciousness and "normal" waking consciousness. Her observation that normal consciousness doesn't exist the way we think it does is right on in my opinion.

    It's an example of how "thinking" takes you to a certain point but you have to give up "thinking" to go beyond that point. I'd have to listen to it a few more times to reasonably engage it.

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