By Patrick Daniell. (“plucked” from a recent e-mail discussion with family and friends)
It might seem to all come down to two perspectives, either we’ve all sprung from matter (under scientific rule) or we are all just a figment of consciousness (God). We can’t prove either one to a believer of the other. But we do have the ability to assume (at least temporarily) that the other is correct, just to see where it takes us…
A believer in this group would see matter and science as a very limited subset of the consciousness domain. This belief could eventually lead to some interesting perspectives such as: All matter is simply a creation, which until very recently (for the last several thousand years and of course only by “enlightened” individuals operating at a higher state of consciousness) can actually be witnessed and experienced through our evolved senses by the consciousness itself.
In other words, consciousness creates a “world” where matter evolves to the point where it can be used as a “conduit” (human) by consciousness. It does this in order to experience the world it has created through the matter itself, the human being and all its senses. But to do this effectively, a person’s mental distractions, perception filters, internal dialog, ego, judgments, re-activeness, etc. must be recognized and fully understood (i.e. practicing meditation and mindfulness).
A believer would see the subconscious mind as being very powerful and clearly necessary to explain much of what our current level of knowledge cannot, however, it would have nothing to do with the existence of an “outer” consciousness. An individual who has had an “enlightening” experience has simply experienced a mental state, which under the right circumstances, is available to anyone who possesses a human brain.
The fact that many people have had similar experiences is not significant, since all our brains are very similar and will therefore suffer similar delusions. The fact that near death experiences occur while the brain has flat-lined will also be rationalized in some way or another (any reason or mechanism can be constructed. It doesn’t matter since proof is not possible).
In this perspective the idea of consciousness is a limited subset of the human domain. Limited, because it cannot affect or interfere with the scientific method and therefore carries little weight among what are considered important life matters. However, it is recognized that mental health is important since it has direct consequence on our actions, which are very important to either perspective. Psychology is a science. Over the last few decades controlled experiments have offered measurable results in the benefits of meditation and mindfulness, so this practice is supported by science. The clarity of mind which results has a direct effect on quality of life and suggests a close parallel to the benefits experienced above for the Consciousness First camp, except as it relates to the internal mind, not external consciousness.
A Third Perspective:
Getting back to my original question, I think that by actually going through the exercise of assuming that the other is correct (contemplating it) enables us to come to an important understanding. A third perspective if you will, that includes the comprehension that they are all simply perspectives, equally valid (and invalid). This is important because by recognizing that our beliefs are actually perspectives into which we can choose to immerse ourselves, we are permitted more freedom. We do not have to be enslaved by our beliefs.
Anyway, a final point everyone seems to agree on is that the most important thing is to improve the way in which people feel and act toward each other and toward the world (especially in light of our current global issues). The clear answer is to change the way people think, feel and behave, no matter what camp or beliefs they feel an allegiance toward.
Increased mental clarity is the key. It brings forth an unusual and distinctive ability to “understand” our circumstances and reactions, generally uncommon in our world. Although having everyone practice meditation and mindfulness would be a triumphant global solution, its ability to improve the quality of just one person’s life is what will appeal to the individual. The evidence of its value and effectiveness will be unmistakable. People will see it and want it, which is what will eventually lead to a large scale change for the better.