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Scientific and Mystical Views
or anything in itself, which could exist separately from
body. In the American Psychologist (1978), Natsoulas
that when investigations of consciousness re-emerged in psychology
its neglect for the early part of the last century, this issue
to be reassessed:
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.
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
self-study and awakening. Recall Nicoll’s comments, explaining
fourth way psychology:
Unfortunately, scientists consider such ideas to be only
poets of the heart and soul, and do not regard them as posing serious
hypotheses. Instead of believing in a self-luminous divine or
spark within the heart, scientists imagine that the cerebral cortex
consciousness out of material processes. In the Upanishads, the ancient
esoteric Hindu scriptures, there are numerous references to the light
the Self and the self-luminous nature of Brahman. Brahman is the
“light of lights,” the supreme principle embodied within the “bright
of the heart. The Self, the individualized spirit soul, is
described as being self-luminous, and qualitatively of the same stuff
Brahman, God or the Absolute:
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:
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
Mishra, M. D., explains the distinction between the nature of “Purusa”
(the Self, consciousness) and “Prakriti” (material nature):
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.
this light might be of various orders—ranging from Divine Light, to
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
as the ‘referent beam,’ while the other is reflected of external
and is called the ‘object beam.’ It is through the interaction of
the object beam and referent beams, which produce the holographic
and images. Similarly, a human being has a point source
element established within the higher dimensions of the Heart, the
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.
1. “I think, therefore I am,”
declaration epitomizes the dualistic errors of contemporary
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