A Consciousness Definition

by Scott Morrice on 12/05/2011

Due to some of the research that I was doing on hypnosis, and self-hypnosis, I kind of got side-tracked into looking for a consciousness definition, and the question of where does it reside. This discussion first came up for me in the context of exploring the outer limits of where hypnosis can take us.

So,what is consciousness? It has been the predominant view of the scientific community since the 17th century, beginning with theories developed by the French philosopher Rene Descartes, that consciousness is entirely generated by the brain. It has always been considered to be merely a function of certain chemical reactions in our skull.

But “recently” certain well respected scientists, philosophers, and others have been suggesting that perhaps the mind, or consciousness, is nonlocal, that it even might be scattered throughout the entire universe, that in fact we might all be imbedded in and share a sea of consciousness.

At the root of these radical new ideas concerning consciousness is the field of quantum physics. Quantum physics has been with us since the early 20 the century. It is not new. Important, well known names like Niels Bohr, Werner Heisenberg, David Bohm, even Einstein, and of course many, many more, have all have played important roles in developing the theories that reside within this very specialized field. Like most scientific theories, there is not total agreement within the field, it is certainly not completely understood, in other words it is still very much a developing field, and some of the extrapolations made from even relatively widely accepted “base-lines” are at best controversial, and at worst, sensationalist and very misleading.

I’m certainly no scientist, and I have virtually no training in physics or chemistry or biology, and I am finding it very difficult to separate the “good” from the “bad” in all the information that is out there. But I find it extremely fascinating!

According to those that know, quantum physics teaches us several very interesting things:
1. Matter and energy are interchangeable. All matter is energy. In fact, at its most fundamental, the tiniest bits of matter are not really matter at all. They are just vibrating packets of energy. They are not solid, but are only a potential, or a prospect, of any one of their future selves.
2. In accordance with the principle of bi-location, any subatomic particle can be in two places at one time.
3. A subatomic particle, like an electron, can go from here to there without crossing the intervening space.
4. Quanta sometimes behave as particles, set things confined to a small space, and at other times they behave as a wave, a big, diffuse region of time and space, any corner of which the quanta may occupy.
5. In accordance with the principle of non-locality, any quanta that has had a prior relationship with another quanta, such as 2 electrons orbiting the same nucleus, will always be instantly affected by the behavior of the other, no matter where it is located, despite there being no exchange of force or energy between the two. It is suggested that these quanta are forever locked into a relationship with each other, and can no longer be considered in isolation, they can no longer be considered separate.
6. The notion of indeterminacy is applicable to quanta. This means you can never know all there is to know about a subatomic particle all at the same time. If you find out where it is, at the same time you can’t also figure out where it is going, or at what speed.
7. Known as the observer effect, the only time quanta manifests itself as particles is when they are disturbed by being observed or measured. When disturbed the subatomic particle that existed only as pure potential to that point collapses into one particular state, into something “real”.

So, what we are seemingly left with is the concept that once you looked closely, very closely, at matter, it isn’t even matter, it’s not a single solid thing you could touch, it’s just waves of energy, a sea of all the potential states of matter, all of it inseparate.

I recently read a fascinating book called The Field by Lynne McTaggart. She examines all of the foregoing, and much more, and engages in a fascinating discussion regarding this sea of energy, and all the possibilities that flow from it. Much of what I have written about here is based upon her writings and my understanding of them. I don’t know if she coined the term, but she popularized the term the “Field” to describe this sea of energy.

McTaggart says that what logically flows from this discussion is the realization that “….the universe is not a storehouse of static, separate objects, but a single organism of interconnected energy fields”.

With a slightly different point of view, Dr. Lee Pulos, in his CD series “The Biology of Empowerment: How to Program Yourself to Succeed at a Cellular Level”, talks about David Bohm, and “Bohm’s Implicit Order”. Bohm was an Einstein protégé, and worked in the field of quantum physics. He theorized that there are two basic realms of the universe. The explicit, or unfolded, order (what we see and live in), and the hidden implicit order (an energy sea of energized awareness, a sea of pure consciousness, that contains everything that has been, is or will be, all possibilities of reality possible or imaginable that are infolded or imbedded throughout the whole). According to Bohm, our consciousness, our intentionality, dips into this state of pure potential and explicates or unfolds it into our everyday reality. According to Bohm there is constant state of flux and flowing exchange between the two realities.

As Dr. Pulos suggests, people have a part of themselves imbedded in the quantum domain. Every cell of our body is subject to the rules of quantum physics. It seems to follow that we are therefore all imbedded in and share a sea of consciousness, and the argument can perhaps then be made that our minds are, indeed, nonlocal.

It’s all fascinating stuff! And the implications, which I will come back to and explore in future posts, are enormous.

I’ll keep you posted!

  • Anonymous

    Like you, Scott, I make no pretenses in the direction of scientific expertise. Still, the humanist within me wonders how “packets of energy… in two places at one time… can go without crossing the interviening space ” differ from what philosphers/theologians refer to as “form” or “spirit.”
    I would ask also as to the source or origin of McTaggart’s ” sea of energy.”
    And can individual persons have dignity or value in a world wherein each of them is reduced to just a part of a “flowing…sea of consciousness?”
    The mathematition/philosopher that you cite early in this blog, Rene Descartes, wrote his most famous observation (“I think; therefore I am.”) to acknowledge verification of his own existence. In my mind, that observation provides him the dignity of a personal identity that is worthy of awe and wonder, one that no ill defined, seething sea of consciousness could ever provide. I would therefore deem it an ill-conceived exercise to deflect our own train of logical thought or to dim our personal consciousness, whether through the agency of drums, drugs, or another person. Doing so, it seems to me, would constitute a voluntary abdication of individual responsiblity for our selves.

    • Anonymous

      Thank you for the thought you have obviously put into this. I totally agree with your posit that we can’t, or shouldn’t, voluntarily abdicate our individual responsibility. The subject matter of this post is very difficult to get your arms around. For my part, I find it very interesting, but it is going to take a lot more work before I can even begin to understand all that is being said, let alone debate it. Having said that, and although I don’t agree with everything that McTaggart appears to be saying, I don’t think she is taking us in the direction you seem to suggest.

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