Saturday Ramble: At the Earth’s core
Consciousness is the world’s greatest mystery. As the basis of everything, from electrons to the universe, it touches on all objects and all non-objects.
I had a stab at defining it last week* which brought in a lot of comment, especially when I pointed out that science in general, and neuroscience in particular, get it hopelessly wrong. That lapse has had consequences so profound that our entire civilisation looks at the world through the wrong end of a telescope.
Science has become a reductio ad absurdum with its plodding “scientific method” that serves best as a testing tool for constructing machines. The boffins have virtually given up on consciousness, concluding that it only exists as a by-product of something else: the brain. In reality, consciousness is the cause of everything, even the “something else”.
Mysticism, which is not the witches and spells and hocus pocus of popular imagination, can be properly defined as the study of consciousness. It is not taken seriously by science — with the exception of a few brilliant minds, such as C.G. Jung.
In an upcoming book, Mystology: a different way of looking at the world, I try to get to the bottom of this, the greatest riddle in the universe and beyond. There will also be a website, Mystology.com at some stage.
For now, only existential philosophers and romantic poets have come anywhere near grasping the core of consciousness:
Sweet is the lore which nature brings;
Our meddling intellect
Mishapes the beauteous form of things:
We murder to dissect.
“And here are trees and I know their gnarled surface, water, and I feel its taste. These scents of grass and stars at night, certain evenings when the heart relaxes — how shall I negate this world whose power and strength I feel? Yet all the knowledge on earth will give nothing to assure me that this world is mine.”
That’s real philosophy, not the dissecting, mathematical muddle we’ve been served up from the beginning of the 20th century. Camus concludes: “The faint lines of these hills and the hand of evening on this troubled heart teach me much more.”
Instead of examining the surface of the world and giving it name, form and measurement, the philosopher cloaks himself with it and tries to understand it from the inside, as does Wordsworth. In that, he is more mystic than scientist and comes closest to the core of things.
* “Consciousness is both personal and impersonal. The latter is what we call God, the personal is “soul”. Consciousness (with upper-case “C”) is soaked into the Universe and, indeed, is indistinguishable from it. Some Zen masters make this distinction as Big Mind/Little Mind, although I prefer to use “mind” for something else: Mind is the contents of consciousness, our everyday thoughts and impressions. It is what dies with our body, leaving consciousness (soul) to carry on to the next stage.”
John Evans is the author of The Eternal Quest for Immortality: Is it staring you in the face? Available from Amazon and all good booksellers.
Coming soon: Mystology: A different way of looking at the world. Also a website, Mystology.com.