Recently a research project asked me for my definition of consciousness.
Answering this enquiry philosophers, psychologists and neuroscientists usually disappear down a rabbit hole of complexity. But I like a simple answer. I encountered it first in Vedic philosophy and the books of Alice Bailey.
I summarise it:
Consciousness is the innate capacity to respond to stimulation.
It is the capacity in everything to respond to stimulation.
Every time we see something responding to stimulation we are witnessing consciousness in action.
This applies to everything. I really mean everything — electron, atom, rock, plant, animal, human, planet, solar system, galaxy, cosmos, space . . .
Here are examples:
A rock responds to pressure and temperature. That response is an indication of the rock’s consciousness.
A plant may respond to temperature, gravity, sunlight, moisture and nutrients.
Animals may respond to many stimulations.
Humans respond to even more stimulations. Humans can respond to their own thoughts.
So the difference between a rock and a human is this. Human consciousness is more complex, more responsive to multiple stimulations.
Based in this interpretation we can suggest that consciousness is woven into the essential fabric of life and cosmos.
Expanding their awareness beyond the human realm mystics suggest that planets, our sun, stars, galaxies and the cosmos also have consciousness.
Space is consciousness.
This possibility can be a focus of enquiry in metaphysical meditation as human consciousness expands and experiences altered states. Sitting quietly it is the empty mind, like a receptive radar dish, that can garner insights. These insights are found in what one of the fathers of yoga, Patanjali, called ‘the raincloud of knowable things.’
Some meditators may reject the idea of any activity when sitting in silence. Others are very happy to explore inner realities, possibilities and dimensions.
I have been building on this understanding of consciousness. In meditation I have been contemplating these seed thoughts and exploring their mysteries:
— Space is an infinite ocean of consciousness with an innate capacity to respond to stimulation
— Empty space is filled with matter, energy, electricity, vibrations, beings, ideas, plasma . . . some miniscule, some galactic
Like all mystics and meditators my consciousness expands further when I am in a soft mindful state of love and bliss
Ultimately our galaxy and all the dense matter we know will disappear. It will be sucked into the mystery of a black hole.
This event is billions of years away, but it is inevitable.
So here is an interesting possibility:
When all the matter of our galaxy disappears into that black hole, will human consciousness also disappear?
Perhaps only dense matter is sucked into the black hole. And the more subtle matter of our consciousness continues.
This kind of enquiry posed in meditation is profoundly relevant to how we manage the current global crisis.
We can only conduct these contemplative enquiries if we are deeply calm, centred in our hearts and awake.
In that state we can truly see the bigger picture.
Waves and cycles of human history come and go.
There have been many plagues and demagogues. They pass.
Calm compassionate equanimity radiates.
It can balance, stabilise and heal the suffering, distress and anxiety of our times.
Humanity’s destiny is to be loving, conscious and connected.