THE EVOLUTION OF CONSCIOUSNESS, PART 1
By Roland Watson
In the last article, I began to consider the idea that the universe might have its own form of consciousness, and communication. I examined a number of different unexplained phenomena, and reviewed what they might have to say about hidden forms of communication. Now, in this article, on universal consciousness, I will approach the subject head-on. But first, I want to look at a final unexplained phenomenon, the possibility of space travel and visitors to the earth from other solar systems.
Have aliens visited the earth?
We can now see that relativity sets many barriers to this type of travel. The first of these is that the speed of light would define the maximum velocity of the transport, and also that the effective velocity that could be achieved would be much less than this. Propulsion at any rate approaching the speed of light would be extremely difficult to attain, since the higher the velocity, the more energy that is required to go just a little bit faster. Inter-stellar transit would therefore require a very extended period of time, and hence an artificial life support system.
To these difficulties we can add the issue of relativistic aging. The astronauts would arrive at their destination significantly younger, possibly on the order of thousands of years, than the beings they left behind. This raises the question of purpose: why any species would conduct such an exploration, knowing that if it ever reached its destination and reported back, the individuals left behind would be long dead. And lastly, there would of course be the problem of survival after arriving on an unknown world, not to mention the inability to refuel, and relaunch, to return home.
Because of this, we can safely conclude that there have been no such visits to the earth. Any reports of them are either individual delusions, or media fantasy. It also raises the question of our own motivation if we ever seek to leave our home. For example, if space travelers from another world ever did reach the earth, they likely would consider it a treasure. They would not understand why we would want to leave, and they would be amazed, if not outraged, at what we have done to it.
This raises an interesting question. What would space travelers think of humans? They would actually have the outside view of us. They would see us as a whole: definite; circumscribed; encapsulated. They would probably view us as relatively but not overly complex, compared to them, which would be fair considering that they had mastered inter-stellar travel. And, they would also clearly see our negative impact on other species, and a global ecology out of equilibrium because of the actions of one part.
They would also reject our chauvinism completely. One hopes they wouldn't see us, as stated in the film Men in Black, as "nothing but undeveloped, unevolved, barely conscious pond scum. Totally convinced of their own superiority as they scurry about in short, pointless lives."
But, in any case, it is highly unlikely that we will receive such a visit. This isn't to say that there is not other life in the universe. Undoubtably, it is full of it. The universe could be packed with life: billions, even trillions or more, of inhabited planets. It would not be surprising if as our ability to locate planets in other solar systems increases, we begin to receive transmissions from alien life. Who knows, we may even someday - speaking fancifully - log on to alien Internets. Light moves fast enough that we, physically, do not have to go. We can establish and cultivate contact merely through normal electromagnetic communication. Indeed, if we do ever make such contact, think of the problems of communication, and also of dealing with alien form!
Absolute unity of being
We can now return to the idea of universal consciousness, and any human phenomena that seem to give evidence of it. Specifically, we should consider the state of human consciousness that I referred to earlier, the absolute unity of being. The idea, to repeat, is that having an absolute unity of being enables you to unify with the universe. The standard approach by which this is accomplished, as in Eastern disciplines, is through the practice of meditation and related exercises, to bring about the elimination of self-consciousness. This is similar to what I described as the quelling of the riot in your mind. Such a state is referred to as "enlightenment."
However, and considering the East, there is a fundamental difference between the Hindu and Buddhist views of enlightenment. Under Hinduism, the universe has a soul, or Brahman - this would be equivalent to its consciousness, and through a transformation of your own consciousness, it is possible to unify with it. This is in fact the goal of Hinduism, to achieve such a unity and through this to gain absolute knowledge.
Buddhism, on the other hand, describes enlightenment as an awakening. You escape from the imperfections of your own perception and see reality as it really is, including its impermanence, and the consequence of this that you can never completely fulfill your own desires. Buddhism does not posit a universal soul, at least one that you can know, in all its infinite wonder, personally.
It is also important to note that there are actually two types of absolute unity of being states: two different ways in which discrete boundaries, and parts, can be eliminated. But, the first of these is not the elimination of self; rather, it is its intensification. In such a state, you experience pure concentration. In this case, the universe is gone. Only you remain. This state of mind can be attained in a number of ways, including through participating in risky activities, where the threat to your life enables you to achieve such a focus, and through the "orgasms" that one experiences in love-making - at least the great ones!
Such an absolute unity of being can also be achieved through self-discipline. You can will yourself to this level of concentration, including in the pursuit of any physical or mental endeavor. For instance, when athletes are in the Zone, they are experiencing this state of consciousness. So too are artists, at the moment of creative expression.
So, what is this state? What, specifically, is happening? The basic effect is that your normal perspective of the mind and body as being separate is eliminated. They are unified, and as such your performance is enhanced. You do not think about what you want to do, and then do it. Instead, you just do it. What this implies is that your unconscious has taken charge. The delay required for conscious reflection does not take place, but neither is the unconscious direction irrational. Your unconscious rationally guides you, even though we normally think of reason as being the sole province of the conscious mind.
In such a situation, you can achieve instantaneous growth, as through doing something that you have never before been able to accomplish. This is because this state enhances the formation of new thoughts. We can now see that thought, and the will that precedes it, like energy, also propagates discontinuously and instantaneously. New thoughts are "created." Through the exercise of will, you force the neurons and synapses to link up, and they - the new thoughts - come to you, out of the unconscious.
Also, as you are able to develop your ability to achieve this state of consciousness, this level of focus, you will increase, rapidly, your rate of formation of new thoughts - new ideas - and hence your personal development. Furthermore, you will increase the frequency of what I described previously as the moments in life that are most worth living for; the moments when you are most alive.
But universal consciousness is still denied
The second type of absolute unity of being, the elimination of self-consciousness, is the one to which the phrase normally refers. For example, under Buddhism, if you successfully renounce your desire it is said that you "annihilate" your ego, and thereby become one with the universe.
I can add, the underlying idea here is that it is possible to remove all intermediate personal filters and screens. But, this is not the only way this can be accomplished. Similar practices also yield this result, and certain drugs cause it as well, if only briefly, such as the peyote used by certain Native American groups in their religious rites.
Of course, at this point one must be careful about what is being proposed. There are many "altered" states of consciousness, as caused by all manner of psychoactive agents, and also various forms of mental illness. One should not conclude that these drugs will lead you to a real absolute unity of being state, or that a person who is clinically insane might have this perspective.
Also, drug experimentation, while it might lead to a state that approximates a real absolute unity of being, the type normally achievable only through the lifelong mastery of a discipline such as meditation, could instead cause real insanity.
But, in any case, what is the nature of this state, and does it have any larger relevance? It does have an obvious benefit, which is that it gives you a great sense of peace, and a deep acceptance of life. As such, it does appear to link you to universal consciousness. Also, through yielding a sense of timelessness it even appears to grant you conscious access to the language of instantaneous interconnectivity. But, I would caution that while it may link you to universal consciousness, it does not in fact give you universal consciousness: the view of the whole. This is still unavailable, because you are still on the inside. I am sorry to say it, but it is not a religious revelation, contrary to what Hindus, and mystics, believe.
Enlightenment is the final escape from form - the final escape that is available to us, while we are still alive. It is the elimination of the form/formless distinction. However, even in such a state or during such an experience, we are still finite. We can "touch" the infinite, expose ourselves to its nature, but we can't actually be infinite.
For instance, in this type of state you cannot remember all of your life, from its moment of conception, simultaneously. The only possibility that this might occur is at the moment of death, and then only if there is a recombination with universal life. Even more, we will never know, while we are alive, if this takes place or not.
Furthermore, this may reflect the possibility that all of the energy in the universe was in some way correlated at its beginning, at the Big Bang - this is distinct from the correlation between mother and child - and that it remains so today. Such an absolute unity of being therefore might allow you to comprehend this correlation.
However, it is also worth considering that if the first state is the intensification of thought, this is its elimination, including of reason. I am not sure we want to give this up that quickly. Indeed, I find it ironic that we have worked so long and so hard to develop our self-conscious mind, and now we are in a rush to get rid of it.
Is our consciousness evolving?
Another way to consider this is to look at the evolution of consciousness. The first type of absolute unity of being seems to yield the experience of non-self-conscious life, which is in a sense always mind/body unified. But, while the two can be compared, we should not equate them. Self-intensification absolute unity of being states do serve a higher purpose, which is the acceleration of the creation of thought. This is fundamentally unavailable to such other life.
And, for the second type, it too has obvious and profound benefits. Human consciousness appears to be developing new capabilities, at both ends of the spectrum: new ways to look at itself, and the world. This is supported by the knowledge that these states increase the activity in the brain's frontal lobe.
Something evolutionarily significant clearly is happening here, but since it is happening to us, it is difficult to put it in a larger context. But, both types obviously give us tremendous and singular experiences, and therefore are to be pursued. I would ask you, then, have you ever achieved an absolute unity of being state of existence, of both types, and what steps are you taking to have more of them?
So, to return full circle: The universe simply "is." Life simply "is." And, particularly during an absolute unity of being, you simply "are."
In the next article, I will move on to consider the purpose of the universe.
© Roland Watson 2015