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What is consciousness? [Discussion]


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#1 Moonless

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Posted 27 October 2019 - 10:39 PM

I'm interested on what people think consciousness is. Please post opinion of consciousness, view regarding esoteric subjects or even discussion questions regarding consciousness in the comments below.

 

Consciousness is a very hard concept to understand, but I have some ideas of what I think is not conscious. I think that habits, reflexes, perception, recognition and memory are un-conscious facultys therefore consciousness is not that.

 

I think that through the disruption of habits we can become aware of them. I think that awareness is what allows things to be conscious, so consciousness could be awareness {or awareness could be an organ of the conscious}

 

However the selection of images could be a habit. Thus awareness is an unconscious faculity that selects subjects based on some criteria such as history/usefullness. So in alot of ways awareness could be a mostly unconscious process aswell.

 

One thing I think of as consciousness is suffering {or suffering is a trait of consciousness}. When I do my mindfulness meditation I am greeted with the pain of being in a body, like my back aching, I am also greeted with difficult feeling like having a hard time balancing life emotions with my busy work schedule. Also when I become hyper aware of social situations I find it difficult to navigate, when I am not paying attention I just act unconsciously and it is easy to do that.

 

Disruption and hesitation are breaks in our unconscious faculities, these are often painful or confusing states to be in, though we must take some initiative to be meta-cognitive when we hesitate we can bring habits of understanding into consciousness.

 

CBT Consciousness Behavior Therapy helps people who have neurosis bring their habits of neurosis into consciousness. When the agorophobic person goes outside with the therapist and learns that they are ok, we disrupt the idea that the patient will die if they go outside. Therefore they might go outside after breaking the habit enough times.

 

 

Thats all I have for now


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#2 RainbowCatepillar

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Posted 28 October 2019 - 12:20 AM

I LOVE that you started this thread! I think about this all the time! May I have a shot at sharing my thoughts? Bear with me because I don't know what I'm talking about. It's just fun to wonder at the marvel of it all..


I see consciousness as being something we will never understand.
It's the greatest mystery that will only continue to allude us.
Any attempts at conceptualizing it will only fail because our thoughts
will merely become contents of consciousness and not reveal what it is.

It's beyond cognition, as our cognitive processes are something that we can be conscious of.
Anything you can be conscious of is not consciousness itself.
This means sensation, thoughts, memories, reflexes etc. are all contents of consciousness,
but are not, in fact, consciousness. 

 
Interestingly, all that you can be conscious of points to the fact of consciousness, but doesn't reveal what it is.
I often wonder if consciousness can exist without something to be conscious of. If I was not conscious of having
a body/mind that exists against an outer environment, then how would i distinguish that there exists consciousness at all? 

It seems to be like an empty space that is filled by contents, such as the feeling of being a subject looking out at objects,
the sensation of your back aching (to use your example) or being conscious of having a head (to use an example Sam Harris
uses to show that consciousness is not "in your head"; rather your head is IN consciousness).

Consciousness silently observes all the contents yet they do not say anything about it.
To our limited 3D congition, it is like "space", in the sense that it is invisible to us yet
it somehow observes the experience of "us". 
 
I also think its similar to a black hole in the sense that information collapses into it,
which our nervous systems can interpret, but the point in which it exists cannot be seen.   

I also kinda see it as something that might exist on a higher realm that can look at physical and
mental phenomena, but cannot see where it exists in space-time (presuming it even exists in the realm of space-time).

What if it exists on a dimension beyond 3D? Just like how a 3D awareness can see 2 dimension, but not 4.
Since we are in fact cognizant of 3 dimensions, can this mean it is beyond 3D?

It's the greatest, deepest mystery of all and I have a hunch we will never figure it out.
We can only see the effects of the fact of consciousness, which points its existence and nothing more..

Sorry if this is convoluted. I can't articulate what it is at all..

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#3 Coopdog

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Posted 28 October 2019 - 01:18 AM

THIS.... THIS.... subject is something I have spent a vast amount of time contemplating. What a conundrum it is no matter what direction you come at it from. I had a conversation with a friend who was a Forest Ranger one time. We both had an interest in mushrooms, so I surprised him with a handfull. We went for a walk in the most amazing place you can imagine. Picture postcard breathtaking scenery, raging white water river running through the bottom of the valley and unbelievable majestic snow covered mountains towering overhead. He did not expect the fruits, and we ended up having one of the most mind blowing conversations about this very subject. 

 

We discussed awareness, how is it? What is it? Why is it? I postulated that it is all energy, the thoughts, the river, the mountains, and somehow in this vast field of energy, we as energetic beings, or as simply energy became aware that we WERE aware. That somehow we began to marvel at the mountains, at the river, at one another and the fact that we as energy, were contemplating the different frequencies of the energy around us and aware of the difference and the separation. The boundaries between "us" and "NOT us" (Is there a difference?)

 

Our awareness is dual in nature, or maybe more than dual, plural, multi layered. Consciousness does NOT originate in the brain. We go through life and react to the energy and motion around us and we somehow perceive it as linear. Hence the introduction of time. One thing happens before another thing in our awareness, and we tend to keep those events in a "Time" line that really has no meaning whatsoever. When something happens that we are conscious of, then we have a back and forth in our mind, is it good, bad, indifferent? Does it matter to the entity that we consider "us"? 

 

Then there are remote things that come into our consciousness, mother's intuition, psychic knowledge. How does that work? Non local interaction is a fascinating thing. My wife can somehow "KNOW" if I am hurt or if one of the girls are in a scary or emotional situation. She "KNOWS" these things and can act on that knowledge and make appropriate changes to help or hinder based on conscious energy that she really has no direct connection to... It's a fascinating subject. How do Salmon know exactly what stream to navigate back to when it is time to spawn, how do birds know how to build a nest or migrate south in the winter and North in the summer? We consider them dumb animals, or some do, but I think they are just as conscious as we are. 

 

Death, or loss of consciousness, what is that all about? Spirits that go on and remain conscious, WOW. It's one deep damn subject and for one I am interested and paying attention, and not one bit more knowlegeable than anyone else. We are all just reading the energy, and reacting to the changes in it all. The whole damn universe is made of that energy, and in my opinion, it's one damn interesting energy field! I think the whole damn thing is conscious...


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#4 RainbowCatepillar

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Posted 28 October 2019 - 01:55 AM

Wow Coop, that was phenomenal! I love how you articulated this and I totally agree with you. 

 

Interesting how DNA is thought to be just a "blueprint" and nothing more than inert matter, but how could consciousness arise from something "unconscious"?

We are all made up of matter that's typically considered unconscious, but that doesn't even make sense.
Matter itself is conscious. It has to be because the sense of self is just a complex of contents in consciousness.


 

In the words of the great Coopdog, "The whole damn thing is conscious"


Edited by RainbowCatepillar, 28 October 2019 - 01:56 AM.

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#5 Moonless

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Posted 28 October 2019 - 01:52 PM

As im thinking about it more, more things are part of consciousness than I thought. Thinking about perception and memory which I think are mostly unconscious faculities, can also be brought into consciousness the only difference is that perception based on habitual response is unconscious but perception separated from our habitual life and then voluntarily acted upon is conscious.

So i wonder if things such as supernatural perception (Like Coop's wife's psychic mom brain) are within consciousness but un-conscious process. Is consciousness the psyche? are the un-conscious aspects of the psyche within consciousness?


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#6 Coopdog

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Posted 28 October 2019 - 03:40 PM

Moonless I have a theory on that "how". I believe that time is NOW, and all that has ever happened and all that will happen is all going on simultaneously. I think some people, Like my wife, simply have a wider grasp of that NOW than the rest. I also think that we can all develop that awareness expansion to see what has happened and what is about to happen. Mathematics have proven that time is not linear, but somehow we see it that way.  The time line thing is only of our own invention because of the second by second way we perceive our reality. She doesn't intuit what is about to happen she simply remembers what is ahead because she has already experienced it in her "NOW" if that makes any sense at all. 

 

I am really looking forward to the development of this thread. It should be very interesting to see the impressions of others. I can't wait for Alderlogs response, he has an epic consciousness and an amazingly articulate soul that somehow makes sense of the unknowable. It's all interesting as it gets to me.


Edited by Coopdog, 28 October 2019 - 03:41 PM.

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#7 Guy1298

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Posted 28 October 2019 - 04:59 PM

If I was not conscious of having a body/mind that exists against an outer environment, then how would i distinguish that there exists consciousness at all? 

 

You couldn't, unless you were actually Consciousness! :).

 

 

 

Lately I've used the word Consciousness to refer to that wherein this personal world takes place. But, some intuition, some odd experiences, and the words of wise men have made me realize that Consciousness is that wherein all worlds take place. So, I'm equating Consciousness with the basis of apparent existence, and, outside of appearances, existence itself. And since all that appears eventually ceases to appear, Consciousness is the only truly real thing there is. 

 

Really though, I think most of this comes down to semantics. Just my take, which is very Advaita Vedanta.


Edited by Guy1298, 28 October 2019 - 05:05 PM.

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#8 RainbowCatepillar

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Posted 28 October 2019 - 05:05 PM

There's an old vid many of you may be familiar with titled "imagining the 10th dimension" which illustrates what Coopdog is talking about when he says that his wife is remembering future events. Skip to 40 mins to see the visual that brings this to life..

https://www.youtube....h?v=gg85IH3vghA

Another thing that's interesting is how our consciousness has a function that's described as "flicker fusion" which is pretty much saying that "time" is a flashing of events that our brain's perceive as seamless. To use an analogy attributed to the buddha, time is like the flame of a candle. The candle seems to have a continuous flame, but is in fact a series of combustion events. We just can't perceive the gaps between the "flickering" flame. 

Consciousness gives us the illusion of continuity, but nothing is actually continuous. That is just a projection of our nervous systems..

Not sure if this is actually relevant to what has been said, but this seems to be a piece of the puzzle when it comes to the mystery of consciousness..


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#9 RainbowCatepillar

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Posted 28 October 2019 - 05:09 PM

Consciousness is the only truly real thing there is. 

 

This! This hits the nail on the head. It's the only thing in our experience that we can truly verify is real..
Our brains could very well be receiving feed from some kinda supercomputer which we perceive as real ("Brain in the Vat Theory"/"Simulation Theory") but we would never know if our experiences are illusory or "real"..

The only things we can be certain of, however, is our consciousness.


Edited by RainbowCatepillar, 28 October 2019 - 05:12 PM.

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#10 Coopdog

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Posted 28 October 2019 - 06:10 PM

The Lakota people believe that EVERYTHING is conscious, and should be considered and appreciated as such. Rock people, Tree People, and so on. I have come to adopt this into my own belief systems. If you look into some youtube videos on plant consciousness you will be amazed. The plants and trees are capable of complex reactions, and can learn and adapt. I talk to the trees when I go into a forest. Look up Singing plants...amazing stuff.


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#11 RainbowCatepillar

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Posted 28 October 2019 - 06:25 PM

The Lakota people believe that EVERYTHING is conscious, and should be considered and appreciated as such. Rock people, Tree People, and so on. I have come to adopt this into my own belief systems. If you look into some youtube videos on plant consciousness you will be amazed. The plants and trees are capable of complex reactions, and can learn and adapt. I talk to the trees when I go into a forest. Look up Singing plants...amazing stuff.

Yes! I remember watching a documentary titled "the secret life of plants". It showed how a scientist hooked plants to polygraphs and found they responded to the experimenters' thoughts. Whenever the scientists imagined harming the plants, the polygraph would pick up strong reactions from the plants..

It's a major assumption to think that nothing else is conscious. It can be argued that rocks are conscious because they are constantly responding to changes in the environment on a subatomic level. Maybe their consciousness is more subtle than ours. Hell, maybe it's a more refined sort of consciousness.. 

Coop, your responses have reminded me that there's so much to marvel at all around us.. I enjoy reading your perspectives on life.


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#12 Moonless

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Posted 28 October 2019 - 07:48 PM

Moonless I have a theory on that "how". I believe that time is NOW, and all that has ever happened and all that will happen is all going on simultaneously. I think some people, Like my wife, simply have a wider grasp of that NOW than the rest. I also think that we can all develop that awareness expansion to see what has happened and what is about to happen. Mathematics have proven that time is not linear, but somehow we see it that way.  The time line thing is only of our own invention because of the second by second way we perceive our reality. She doesn't intuit what is about to happen she simply remembers what is ahead because she has already experienced it in her "NOW" if that makes any sense at all. 

 

I am really looking forward to the development of this thread. It should be very interesting to see the impressions of others. I can't wait for Alderlogs response, he has an epic consciousness and an amazingly articulate soul that somehow makes sense of the unknowable. It's all interesting as it gets to me.

French Phenomenologist Henri Bergson us halfway to describing this idea, he postulated that the present is not only the here and now, the knife blade between the past and future, but also composed of our entire past. He used the concept of memory, which he though was recorded perfectly but was impossible to access properly when needed to recall, to show that we are not only living in the present but living as a continuation of our past.

 

For Phenomenologist the idea of character came to mean our accumulation of habits which we act on. In this character was also our memories. With this idea we had no static character or some esoteric character to achieve but we still had free will to change the course of our lives.

 

I love love where this topic is going. Yall are really thought provoking and its really organic how these ideas collectivly and personally are developing :) Excited to see where this one goes!


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#13 Moonless

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Posted 28 October 2019 - 07:59 PM

 

If I was not conscious of having a body/mind that exists against an outer environment, then how would i distinguish that there exists consciousness at all? 

 

You couldn't, unless you were actually Consciousness! :).

 

 

 

Lately I've used the word Consciousness to refer to that wherein this personal world takes place. But, some intuition, some odd experiences, and the words of wise men have made me realize that Consciousness is that wherein all worlds take place. So, I'm equating Consciousness with the basis of apparent existence, and, outside of appearances, existence itself. And since all that appears eventually ceases to appear, Consciousness is the only truly real thing there is. 

 

Really though, I think most of this comes down to semantics. Just my take, which is very Advaita Vedanta.

 

I like where you are coming from Guy! So with this idea consciousness is both us,conscious observer of the world , as well as the world itself?

I like to think this idea because the world I perceive is filled with other bodies which I must allocate consciousness to. So in the sense others are part of my perceptive field (the world I gather data from) I am part of other bodies' perceptive field.

here is photo I draw: I think it shows this concept of seeing and being seen...

[/url]Soul tree.PNG [/url]


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#14 Moonless

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Posted 28 October 2019 - 08:16 PM

 

The Lakota people believe that EVERYTHING is conscious, and should be considered and appreciated as such. Rock people, Tree People, and so on. I have come to adopt this into my own belief systems. If you look into some youtube videos on plant consciousness you will be amazed. The plants and trees are capable of complex reactions, and can learn and adapt. I talk to the trees when I go into a forest. Look up Singing plants...amazing stuff.

Yes! I remember watching a documentary titled "the secret life of plants". It showed how a scientist hooked plants to polygraphs and found they responded to the experimenters' thoughts. Whenever the scientists imagined harming the plants, the polygraph would pick up strong reactions from the plants..

It's a major assumption to think that nothing else is conscious. It can be argued that rocks are conscious because they are constantly responding to changes in the environment on a subatomic level. Maybe their consciousness is more subtle than ours. Hell, maybe it's a more refined sort of consciousness.. 

Coop, your responses have reminded me that there's so much to marvel at all around us.. I enjoy reading your perspectives on life.

 

Going back to this Henri Bergson guy [sorry I'm having to read this French dude and he is pretty cool] He thought spirit was composed of memory and that any thing with the ability to respond to change, and gather memory was of spirit or consciousness. I hope im not misrepresenting this guy too much but I do know for sure that his idea of spirit allowed for more than just humans to have it. In this sense plants have spirit or consciousness as seen in their ability to respond to change, but also stuff like dirt has spirit because its composed of a bunch of organisms that regulate soil conditions and have the ability to respond to change. However even though rocks have consciousness in this model they don't have to be alive to have it.


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#15 Coopdog

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Posted 28 October 2019 - 10:19 PM

Moonless, that drawing is awesome. Well done!


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#16 Alder Logs

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Posted 28 October 2019 - 10:24 PM

Could we provoke a silent void, instead of thoughts? 

 

Do we have consciousness, or does it have us? 

 

Is there his or her consciousness? This or that thing's consciousness?  Some things are illusory, especially anything we think about anything.  The thoughts, words, suspicions, names and titles, even scriptural proclamations, don't come close. 

 

We pretty much see we can't just name It and expect that to express what It might be. The greatest physicists and mathematicians cannot calculate what It might be.  It will not be caught and tied up in any concept.  Maybe It is being itself, which is alive and not time based. It's sure not a noun, but seems more verb-like.  It's always one of those, you-had-to-be-there things when some circumstance blows enough of what we think and believe away to have some glimpse of It standing alone in all Its glory.  

 

Some have said the same singular consciousness looks out from all eyes.


Edited by Alder Logs, 28 October 2019 - 10:32 PM.

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#17 Coopdog

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Posted 29 October 2019 - 01:16 AM

Would a thoughtless web, be a consciousness? I think that in order to be conscious we have to REACT to stimuli, and decide whether or NOT it is good or bad for us. I believe that our reaction to those stimuli decides right and wrong. I am very thankful that so far as I can see, that the majority still knows good from bad, and how that effects the entirety of "US" There is a world of anger and hate out there, and I still hope, and perceive, that the majority will choose for the best, and evolve all of "US" to a better place than which we live in now. I also wonder nowadays if the people that promote the positive are still in control, because the balance seems to be turning towards the bad as I look at the world now. Reality IS changing, make it change for the better of us by appreciating the positive things and acting in the real world in a positive way.  


Edited by Coopdog, 29 October 2019 - 01:17 AM.

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#18 crazy1

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Posted 29 October 2019 - 07:06 AM

This is an amazing conversation and I'm really looking forward to this continuing on.

 

To me, consciousness is in everything that we see, touch, smell or taste. It is more like the "life source" of all things, but are they really here?

 

Are we really here now?

 

Where is here at this moment?

 

What is here and now?

 

HERE is a video of Swami Chaitanya explaining the ways he interacts with his plants and they way they interact with him. I find this quite interesting as it explains the consciousness of plants.

Now if you really think about it, this consciousness is the largest single "mind" on the planet. The plant life of this rock keeps us and our planet alive. And no matter what we do to this consciousness it still provides for us. Or are "WE" providing for ourselves?

 

In my "mind" we are all ONE consciousness in different forms.

 

We are one and must learn to "listen" to each other, then we can help move our vibration to a higher place. Then "we" can really be ONE with the energies that surround us. In doing this, we'd become more "conscious" like Coop's wife, as an example.

 

Just my thoughts.........

 

 

Peace


Edited by crazy1, 29 October 2019 - 07:07 AM.

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#19 Skywatcher

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Posted 29 October 2019 - 09:11 AM

What a great conversation. I have been enjoying the input from everyone.

I consider consciousness to be awareness, and at times simply a state of "presence".

There seem to be levels to me, ranging from extended consciousness as when we are absorbing and reacting to many sources of seemingly individual entity's simultaneously, and a stripped down " core" consciousness, that is presence without any kind of conclusion. The watcher or observer as it was defined to me by a member here some time ago.

 

These are simplified terms, as consciousness is IMO a multifaceted, layered relationship with all the living structure around, and I do consider it all as " living" , from the immense, crystalline matrix structure of Earth herself, to the intertwined " World Consciousness" of the plant kingdom, inter-connected through root and airborne essence, and from the more rapidly moving entities of Animal Kingdom.

All are independent, but dependent upon all the others to exist.

 

There are so many thought provoking comments already stated here, that offer a rich food for thought. I would say its all true.

I personally believe " consciousness" is without limitation, other than the constrains we place upon it ourselves......


Edited by Skywatcher, 29 October 2019 - 02:57 PM.

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#20 Alder Logs

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Posted 29 October 2019 - 12:41 PM

 

I personally believe " consciousness" is without limitation, other than the constrains we place upon it ourselves......

 

 

Assuming that anyone is their individuated body/mind:

 

galaxy-milky-way-you-are-here-300x180.jp  

 

However, here, I have lost track:

 

 

0105-Ahubblelight-Photo-full.jpg

 

 

Doesn't the observer effect in particle physics seem to show us that nothing exists outside of consciousness?  Is the individual observer flipping an outcome in a laboratory experiment proof of a stand-alone consciousness? 

 

I would say, it's not what we see.  It is the seeing itself.  What and where is that in any terms that we could call upon?  

 

I have long loved the Native American term: Great Mystery.   I am very comfortable with not knowing anything.  Without judgment and opinion, nothing that is seemingly happening seems to change, except as I might perceive it.  What is bad from one perspective is a necessary good from another.  I have seen this to be true, for me.  So, yes, I might still find a deep knowing that some thing that arises in my sphere should be countered by a personal action, yet at the same time I see that personal involvement is not who and what I am.  I have come to let it be, so to speak.   The universe sends me my assignments, but I only suffer them to the extent I identify.   I know that I am nothing and without attributes.  But, I play something with attributes in this theater of human life at the moment.  It is all in the seeing which no I person owns. 

 

I am loving this experience of being, whatever the fuck it is.


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