I Exist, Therefore I Am – Conscious!
When I first read Empedocles’ famous “The nature of God is a circle of which the center is everywhere and the circumference is nowhere”, I thought: “philosophers are crazy people” – didn’t know about non-locality then. He must have already understood the reality of panpsychism (the idea that the mind is not only present in humans, but in all things) but then, all ancients did, or believed that anyway. We like to consider them rathe primitive It makes a whole universe of sense to me now, but I had to grow up before, and out of my previous conditioning.
I used to see the world as divided between those people who accept the “God up there” idea, and those in favor of the idea that there is no God at all, and that the world has come into existence just like that, out of nothingness – like many mainstream scientists like to believe today.
I was quite jealous of those having faith, as they could easily accept strange things and call them “miracles”. As my parents were totally irreligious, an absolute requirement of their time and of the communist type of society, my very religious grandparents were trying hard to give me a minimum of religious education. As a little girl, I have spent many long and lonely summers back there at my grandparents’ village, trying to figure out the best way to spot Him while He is spying on us. Lying in the deep grass I was squinting my eyes until they would become sore from trying hard to discern among the passing clouds a silhouette seated on some gauzy mass observing us. “He must be very interested in us, people, as He must know to which department He is to send us after some indefinite time”, I thought. But, you know what? Hard as I tried, I could never, ever see Him.
Growing up, such episodes seemed ridiculous; this, my formal education and the “materialist-dialectic” communist ideology that was being insidiously forced on us, made me grow up considering my grandparents’ religion and God as some myth, an anachronistic story of other times.
I wish that didn’t happen – I mean, growing up without having faith. Maybe my inner and outer life could have been way easier had I not been torn between two incompatible things: my absolute disbelief in anything outside of this tangible, material reality, and the impossible-to-deny experiences that I have been trying for so long to bury deep in some dusty folders of my mind.
But inside there it seems that there was another authority ruling over that department, one that I hadn’t previously been aware of – my Soul, or my higher Self. “Inexplicable” episodes that somehow reminded me of certain previous experiences that I chose to deny or forget, forced me to reconsider everything, because the inner, or “higher” mind, won’t give me any break.
Then long years of inexplicable depression followed – the more inexplicable, the more painful. Now, I believe, it’s the inner forum that doesn’t tolerate to be lied to. The inner pressure caused by different, even opposing beliefs can result in a powerful internal struggle that only shows on the outside under the form of depression – called in psychology cognitive dissonance. To me, it became a matter of self-validation, of identity: my mind could not accept that another part of it knew and operated with things of which it didn’t consciously know.
When the amount of inner pressure becomes intolerable you would start doing anything: even undertake intensive research on mind and on how it functions – among many other things, on consciousness, as I was to find out later. But then, one thing lead to another, and I had to deepen myself into many more domains than I could ever see possible initially.
I said before that I wish all this didn’t happen, but I know I’m wrong: it is because of all this that I have certainly gained a never imagined clear insight, in most unexpected ways, coincidences, or, rather, synchronicities.
It is the pain of depression that actually triggered in me a “do it or die” attitude; it forced me to search long and wide for answers as to who I am and why am I, or are we all, here. I owe it to have made me become the new me, the person who is now eager and open to everything, to life and to others, ever-hungry for sense and meaning, for a more comprehensive understanding of it all. So, I feel like I have to say it: “Thank you, depression!”
What I know today is that God is The Intelligence permeating the whole, even though He/She/It is of a totally different nature than in my grandparents’ version. In all humbleness, I finally came to understand God as the fundamental field of Information (Consciousness) that permeates the universe, independent of space and time. As beings endowed with a reasoning mind, we are all actively involved in its processes and its evolution.
Having had my own, subjective experience, I now tend to see things in a more simplified way, although I need to explain it to my logical mind in ways that would not insult my intelligence anymore: I, the conscious subject, am observing the world, the object of my observation, while also being the object of observation of an All-Comprehensive Consciousness. Since I cannot deny the fact that there are psychological mechanisms out there that are outside of our conscious control, I can imply that there is at least one level of consciousness that is higher, above mine.
If this One, or Oneness, is ever interested in my humble person, it is not in order to “punish” or deprive me of some privilege, like a hypothetical “magical” place where all is love and light, but one that is operating at my own development, as part of a global evolution.
There was nothing wrong with me, after all: my brain, like many other brains – maybe all brains, as a matter of fact – would just grasp some of the information available in the generic field – there was no need for me to fear “arcane knowledge”,and this is, in fact, in line with newest findings from a whole lot of disciplines, from quantum physics to system sciences to neurology.
Christopher Koch, (neurologist at the Allen Institute for Brain Science in Seattle and known from the Brain project), is now suggesting a theory that looks like panpsychism:
“…consciousness extends to all (…) creatures, (…) it’s an immanent property of highly organized pieces of matter, such as brains.”
How such an immaterial thing as consciousness can arise from the material brain has troubled philosophers and thinkers for millenia – today it is called the hard problem of consciousness, coined by philosopher David Chalmers.
There are also others who would rather keep themselves on the safe side by elaborating very cautious definitions and theories, to stay in the middle, as a definition of consciousness is hard to elaborate, if not impossible. In his entry for the 1989 version of the Macmillan Dictionary of Psychology, Stuart Sutherland showed that consciousness was not a word of easy grasp.
Consciousness—The having of perceptions, thoughts, and feelings; awareness. The term is impossible to define except in terms that are unintelligible without a grasp of what consciousness means. Many fall into the trap of equating consciousness with self-consciousness—to be conscious it is only necessary to be aware of the external world. Consciousness is a fascinating but elusive phenomenon: it is impossible to specify what it is, what it does, or why it has evolved. Nothing worth reading has been written on it.
Based on all this I have written a spiritual memoir which I intend to publish and describe the inner and outer journey: a journey of becoming conscious of consciousness, in a way. If it can avoid others the pain that was caused to me by my conflicting worldviews,I really believe it’ll be “worth reading”.