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August 5, 2010

Book III:

Scientific and Mystical Views 
on the Nature of Human Existence

4.  Consciousness is Light, but western science does not consider ‘consciousness’to be ‘substantive, 

or anything in itself, which could exist separately from the material body.  In the American Psychologist (1978), Natsoulas argued that when investigations of consciousness re-emerged in psychology after its neglect for the early part of the last century,  this issue needed to be reassessed:

“What consciousness is (if it is not some thing), that deceptively simple question, which James addressed, needs to be addressed once again, but carefully and in a way that does not close off, by fiat, a good portion of the potential subject matter. ... We should not quickly decide, for example, that consciousness is no more or less than James’s function of knowing and proceed to study merely that.  At this point in the history of scientific understanding, an effort at comprehensiveness surely seems called for. ... (However, I) ... predict that psychology will not define consciousness as a substance or as an entity again.  Note that this prediction refers to the scientific discipline and not to individual scientists. ... Scientific knowledge has not yet rendered consciousness as a distinct entity unthinkable.  (p.907)

The nature of what William James called the “most mysterious thing in the world,” human consciousness, remains a profound enigma within modern psychology and science.

Science has not disproved the possibility that consciousness is substantive, yet there is little effort made to think along these lines about how the ‘substance’ of consciousness might be considered. Generally, it is assumed that consciousness is some kind of epi-phenomenon produced by the brain’s material/energetic processes, but the investigations into the ‘I’ and the ‘hard problem’ of consciousness become obscured, and researchers focused instead only the ‘me side’ of consciousness-the ‘easy problem.’ Current scientific thinking tends to regards consciousness as being non-substantive–that is, as being nothing in itself.  According to this conception, there is no way for consciousness to exist separately from or beyond the mind and the body, because consciousness has literally no substance in itself–it is no thing, and it is dependent upon the material/energies of the brain.

The issue of the ‘substantive’ nature of consciousness is very subtle and complex, and must be considered from mystical and scientific perspectives.  Mystical teachings do provide varied approaches towards understanding the ‘substantive nature’ of consciousness, as a ‘something’ separate from the activities of the mind, emotions and physical sensations. Indeed, the most persistent description of consciousness within the mystical literature is that consciousness is light, and that human beings can have more or less of this light.  They can live in darkness, or within the light, or usually somewhere in between.  The light of consciousness illuminates the psyche and the activities of the mind/body complex, allowing awareness of psychological processes within inner experience.


     The Self–the Divine or spiritual spark–is inherently self-luminous—an element of pure light consciousness within the heart of being.  In this vein, Ramana Maharishi refers to the “self-luminous Self,” and notes, “I in the heart, it is consciousness.”  Similarly, Swami Prabhupada explains, this “soul is consciousness and conscious.”  The divine spark is a source of supernal light consciousness at the heart of being, an element of God-consciousness, the Inner Self.   These themes are found throughout the mystical literature.  Sri Chinmoy explains:
God is an infinite Consciousness. He is also the self-illumining Light.  There is no human being who does not have within him this infinite Consciousness and this self-illumining Light. ... in the inmost recesses of his heart is his real ‘I,’ his God. ... It is our consciousness that is self-revealing in everything.  (1970, pp. 15, 16 & 19) 

Just as we can be aware of things in the outer world, when light illuminates the objects of perception, so also there is an inner light source which allows consciousness of the objects of inner experience.  The activities of thinking, feeling and sensation provide the contents for conscious experience, but do not constitute consciousness itself.  Consciousness is a substantive light principle which inwardly illuminates the psychological processes.  A verse of the ancient Brihadaranyaka Upanishad states:

The self-luminous being who dwells within the lotus of the heart, surrounded by the senses and sense organs, and who is the light of the intellect, is that Self.  (Ibid, p.104)

The self-luminous being, the Self, is the light of the intellect, and allows for awareness of the contents of the mind and the senses.   Mystics relate the Self to the sun and the mind to the moon.  The moon has no light of its own but simply reflects the light of the Sun.  Similarly, the mind has no consciousness or light of its own but reflects the light originating from the self-luminous element within the lotus of the heart.

Mystical teachings associate consciousness with a very substantive light–both supernal (metaphysical) light and natural light. Unfortunately, as semi-conscious, sleepwalking human beings, we do not typically appreciate the nature of light, especially the light within.  Instead, humans live in darkness and in ignorance of their true nature.  The consciousness of the Self is pure light, but this is obscured by our typical attachments, desires, fantasies, suffering and conditioning.  To realize the divine and spiritual Light within ourselves, we must enlighten ourselves by knowing Self and achieving union with the true Light.  The Light of Self is beyond thought, beyond the mind/body complex, beyond the patterns of conditioning and attachment to material nature.  Mystical self-knowledge, like spiritual teachings, brings Light into humans’ hearts and minds.  Both ancient and contemporary mystical teachings reflect these themes.

The equation of consciousness with light must be understood through self-study and awakening.  Recall Nicoll’s comments, explaining the fourth way psychology:

... what we seek above all things is Light–and Light means consciousness.  We seek to live more consciously and to become more conscious.   We live in darkness owing to lack of light–the light of consciousness–and we seek in this work light on ourselves.  ... And it is very strange this light. ...  In the deep sleep we live in, in the light of the Kingdom of Heaven, we are all utterly insane and do not know what we are doing. (1975, pp.35-6)

The individual can learn to live more consciously in the light, less conditioned by the modes of nature, less attached to mundane thoughts and feelings, sensations and desires.  Humankind lives in outer darkness, hypnotized by shadows and illusions, and yet paradoxically, the dramas of our lives are always sustained from within/without by an underlying realm of Ineffable Light.  These profound claims, about the process of awakening and the nature of consciousness as light, are found throughout the mystical and esoteric literature.

Unfortunately, scientists consider such ideas to be only metaphors for poets of the heart and soul, and do not regard them as posing serious scientific hypotheses.  Instead of believing in a self-luminous divine or spiritual spark within the heart, scientists imagine that the cerebral cortex manufactures consciousness out of material processes. In the Upanishads, the ancient esoteric Hindu scriptures, there are numerous references to the light of the Self and the self-luminous nature of Brahman.  Brahman is the “light of lights,” the supreme principle embodied within the “bright throne” of the heart.   The Self, the individualized spirit soul, is described as being self-luminous, and qualitatively of the same stuff as Brahman, God or the Absolute:

The light that shines above the heavens and above this world, the light that shines in the highest world, beyond which there are no others–that is the light that shines in the heart of men.    Chandogya Upanishad (ibid, p. 64)

Brahman/God and the Atman/Self are repeatedly associated with light, and described as self-illuminating.  The mystic goal is to “unite the light within the Self with the light of Brahman.”   In the Bhagavad Gita, a verse depicts the self luminous nature of the individual Self: “... as the sun alone illuminates all this universe, so does the living entity, one within the body, illuminate the entire body by consciousness.” (13, 34) Swami Prabhupada’s explains these basic Vedic principles: “... a small particle of spirit soul, although situated in the heart of this body, is illuminating the whole body by consciousness. ... consciousness is ... the symptom of the living entity.” (1972b, p. 659)  The individual soul, the jivatma is qualitatively one with the supreme self, or the Atman.  Thus, the Supersoul and the individual soul, both inhabit the body and are associated with the heart–as the “sun” of the body.  The spirit soul is self-illuminating and its light is an expression of the infinite light of That Self, the Supersoul.  Consciousness within the body/mind originates, then, from this self-illuminating entity.

The quantum Self at the heart of being is the origin of life and consciousness within the material body, with light emanating and radiating from this central Sun.  The Self is the self-illuminating Sun of the body, while the mind, like the moon, reflects this light.  Accordingly, mystics claim that the head brain does not have a light of its own, but simply reflects the light of the Self within the Heart. Consciousness, or the I AM principle, is sometimes described as ultimately emerging from a point source, from a spiritual or divine spark. There is a point source of Light within the heart-which is of the Supreme Self and the Infinite Light.  The contemporary heart master, Adi Da writes:
... the Divine Soul is Original White Light.  All phenomena are thus a Play of the Original Light, or Unqualified Bliss, of God.  And all souls, or all living beings (human or otherwise), are points or atoms of the Original Light or Radiant Bright Consciousness of God.     (1978, p. 492)

Mystical teachings repeatedly describe a point source of coherent light consciousness established within the Heart.  This point source of light emerges from a realm of infinite light–that is supernal, divine, ineffable Light.  The Self illuminates the inner world through the interior dimensions of a human being, emerging through and within the life of the heart.

This point source of pure light is enthroned within the Bliss Sheath of the Heart–the Anandamaya Kosha of yogic teachings, or the “causal body” of theosophy.   Saraswati (1987, p. 112) describes this as “an oval mass of unemergent light,” approximately the size of a baby’s thumb or a small grape.

The nature of consciousness, light and space are all profound mysteries, which modern psychology and science are still exploring, and which we will approach from physical and metaphysical perspectives through this series.  While scientists usually consider the equation of consciousness with light as simply being a metaphor, mystical teachings consistently associate the substance of consciousness with light—not just figuratively but actually.  Thus, the idea of “seeing the light,” “knowing the light within ourselves,” or, “being enlightened” are meant in a literal, physical and scientific manner, not simply as metaphor.  In the same manner, modern thinkers are likely to consider that the idea of the Self as being related to the heart is only a metaphor.  Can we really love with the heart, or know God through the heart?  The scientists think that the self-experience is produced somewhere in the cortex of the brain, and there is no consideration of the heart or soul.  The manner in which these themes–of consciousness, light and the heart–are so persistently articulated by mystical teachers and poets of the heart and soul, should certainly cause us to beware of prematurely dismissing these testimonials to the inner light cosmos of consciousness.  Perhaps these expressions and concepts, so ingrained in our language and in religious maxims, have a very concrete reality.  Could the poets of the heart and soul truly know awesome possibilities, beyond anything imagined by the scientists, philosophers  and pundits?

Such light is physical, and has a physics and metaphysics to it, in how it manages to illuminate the worlds of the heart and mind, even within different planes of a multidimensional universe through different subtle bodies.   Somehow, the substance of consciousness is light, which ‘illuminates’ the three spheres of mind, emotions and the body, allowing awareness of the thinking, feelings and sensations.

Another authority on Yogic and Vedic metaphysical philosophy, Rammurti Mishra, M. D., explains the distinction between the nature of “Purusa” (the Self, consciousness) and “Prakriti” (material nature):

In Samkhya (philosophy), the technical name of Self is Purusa.  Purusa is identical with the Atman of the Upanishads;  it is independent of matter and the material universe. ... Purusa is one side which is purely subjective, and prakriti is the other side which is purely objective. ... The very name Purusa means the Principle which uses matter as its bed (puru, matter + sha, sleeper). ... This material body with its perceptual mechanism is for the sake of Self. ...  Consciousness is not a creation of material elements because it is characteristically different from them. ... Consolidation of experience as subjective consciousness is due to the presence of Purusha.  ... Purusha is Pure Consciousness, changeless, ever-present behind all these states.  It is the Light by which matter and material objects are perceived.  It is Self-luminous and It illuminates prakriti and its manifestations (the seen and known).(1973, pp.33-7)

The light of the Self and the greater Self are present within ourselves as the light of consciousness. The purusa is the source of ‘I,’ whereas prakriti is the source of the ‘me’– the spiritual as opposed to the material.  The objects of awareness form on the material side, while the subject, originates as divine light from within the metaphysical dimensions of being.  The spirit soul is embodied and falls asleep in matter, with consciousness conditioned by material nature.  In a state of yoga, or union with the Self, the yogi no longer identifies with the thought waves (vritti) of the mind, and instead experiences the Atman or Self shining forth in its true nature as pure consciousness and supernal light.

In part, the light of Self is light as we ordinarily consider light.  However, light must also be understood in its higher nature and  “supernal” forms.  The term “supernal” is defined as: “... pertaining to things above, celestial, heavenly, exalted” (Webster).  The light of the Self is of an exalted celestial nature but is reflected in the material world as the light of individual consciousness, which illuminates the heart, mind and body.  The aim, in mystical union, is to unite the light and consciousness of self with the light and consciousness of the greater Self.

The Vedas and Blavatsky distinguish between Purusha-as Spirit or Consciousness, and Prakriti-or material nature.  The conjunction of light with material/energetic/intelligent modes of nature produces our overall ‘stream of consciousness.’  Somehow, consciousness as light is separate from the psychological functions, and the activities of a human’s varied subtle bodies.  Similarly, the Dalai Lama describes minute ‘Space Particles’ as the basis for the material side, and the Mind of Clear Light as the source of human consciousness as light.  Our usual experience of consciousness is due to the mysterious conjunctions of these elements.  A. Crowley describes the conjunction of Hadit, the point star, within Nuit, cosmic space of the Mother.

So from a mystical perspective, we can consider the substance of consciousness in terms of light, and as existing in relationship to Space.  Further, this light might be of various orders—ranging from Divine Light, to spiritual light, to psychical and material reflections of light.  This light source enables the construction of the holograms of our lives within a multidimensional universe.  In holography, some of this light remains as the ‘referent beam,’ while the other is reflected of external objects, and is called the ‘object beam.’  It is through the interaction of the object beam and referent beams, which produce the holographic recording and images.  Similarly, a human being has a point source self-illuminating element established within the higher dimensions of the Heart, the jiva-atma, or I principle.

In mystical teachings, the light of consciousness allows awareness of the three vehicles of intelligence, emotions and the body, but is considered as ‘separate’ from the material side of nature.  Consciousness illuminates the three modes of nature, so that a human being can be conscious of the mind, of feelings and emotions, and of sensations and movements.  Consider consciousness as ‘light’  --an important way of approaching the hard question of consciousness, the subject side. One can directly experience the light of consciousness, and humanity is claimed to have had enlightened teachers, who taught the ancient wisdoms of the Heart.  Consciousness has to be distinguished from the activities of the mind, and related to the deeper level of the self luminous I Am within the interior dimensions of the Heart.

To understand the nature of human consciousness, one has to approach the Human being as a quantum system as a whole, and the Heart itself is the central quantum computer, while the mind secondary.  The I AM principle, the Monadic essence, is established within higher dimensional Space, but its influences and actions, well up through the quantum dynamics of the Heart, and the infusion of consciousness and life into the body from the inner living entity, the I.

The inner light source, and the influences of the jiva-atma, or individualized spirit soul, spreads out from the Heart through three channels and seven centres, such that consciousness can pervade the body, in fact seven possible bodies, with seven centres in each.  Just as white light divided by a prism yields a spectrum of seven colours, so also there in an inner circulation of consciousness and light within the inner human being.  In the yogic system of chakras, the energy centres in the subtle bodies, the heart is the central chakra, with three above, and three below.  These centres and dynamics provide the basis for the holographic nature of human consciousness, and the circulation of light within the inner worlds.

In this provocative series, the author explores deeply into the ancient mystery teachings and modern science.  The Within-Without from Zero Point series provides an alternate perspective on the origin and nature of human consciousness, the dynamics of the heart, the zero point hypothesis, and the dimensionality of higher Space.
Partial Table of Contents:

1. “I think, therefore I am,” Descartes’ declaration epitomizes the dualistic errors of contemporary thought    …
2.  A Mystical Psychology of Human Consciousness, the Heart and Soul & the Divine Spark  … 8
3. ‘Consciousness' has to be distinguished  … 
4.  Western science does not consider ‘consciousness’ to be ‘substantive’  … 
5.  The Dalai Lama on the Indestructible Drop within the Heart, Space Particles,
        and Consciousness as a reflection of the Mind of Clear Light  …
6.  Scientific American asks "Are you a Hologram?"
7.  Modern psychology has no conception of the deep origins of human consciousness
           from within the grounds of being. … 

View Table of contents
 Book I --- The Heart Doctrine  & 
Book II  ---  Microcosm-Macrocosm
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Esoteric Writings

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The Author

Zero Point Dynamics

Zero Point Radio Show
 Crises of Humanity
Critiques of 'New Think'
New World DisOrder
Truth Media & Resources