|Photo: Jaie Hart|
Many a philosopher or those with a pioneering spirit from many other disciplines might argue about the concept of what precisely consciousness is. From each of their individual perspectives and disciplines they may all be right, they might be partially right or they may be all wrong. To define a bit:
The dictionary meaning of the word consciousness extends through several centuries and associated cognate meanings which have ranged from formal definitions to somewhat more skeptical definitions. One formal definition indicating the range of these cognate meanings is given in Webster’s Third New International Dictionary stating that consciousness is: “(1) a. awareness or perception of an inward psychological or spiritual fact: intuitively perceived knowledge of something in one’s inner self. B. inward awareness of an external object, state, or fact. C: concerned awareness: INTEREST, CONCERN – often used with an attributive noun. (2): the state or activity that is characterized by sensation, emotion, volition, or thought: mind in the broadest possible sense: something in nature that is distinguished from the physical. (3): the totality in psychology of sensations, perceptions, ideas, attitudes and feelings of which an individual or a group is aware at any given time or within a particular time span – compare STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS.”
Spend any time researching the topic of consciousness and pretty soon you’ll find yourself half mad with theories, hypotheses and words like qualia and awareness and many philosophical ideas of what consciousness truly means from so many different angles. Hundreds of papers have been written on consciousness and still we are no closer to pure understanding but maybe pure is part of something we might need to branch off into and along with "pure" add consciousness and create a new term to explore.
What is pure consciousness? Well, I believe that it is that state where you experience not one single thing else but consciousness. There are no thoughts, no sensations, no input no matter what the mind throws up, you let it slip away as rain down the side of a mountain. Pure consciousness is like a mountain and something far beyond it as it has no limits or boundaries or definition at all. From a state of pure consciousness, none of this matters, has bearing on or impacts pure consciousness in the slightest.
Unless you have experienced this state it is a little hard to explain other than as I have. The only way I know of to get to a state of pure consciousness is through the practice of meditation and it takes much discipline and practice to get to that state of pure consciousness. To be honest, I first experienced it during an NDE (Near Death Experience - story for another time). Knowing what it feels like, I took up meditation again out of curiosity and a desire to explore an experience and it took so many years to see it again, I don’t even want to tell you. But you can learn to get to it. The question I ask is, even if you get there and even if you find it and become "enlightened" at the finding of it...“And, so?”
Why would we expend so much effort to project ourselves into a physical existence if all we want to do when we get here is spend all of our time in meditation to make this world disappear? Didn’t we want to be here in the physical for a reason? So why not then see it through and learn why it has the parameters it does. Aren’t you at least a little curious why or how you come to be here? There must be a reason and I think that it must be your reason alone. I don’t wish to know the meaning of life right now. I’m focused instead on the concept simply stated as "I am." I can’t tell you what it’s for but it relates to a focus on consciousness. I can point you to a teacher if you are curious (just let me know). What I teach is part of consciousness but focused more on the day to day stuff but this topic is never ending and all consuming if you let it be that.
I believe that we are consciousness. We are part of the great unknown…The All of Everything...The Great Mind...the Source…God….Goddess – choose your term but focus as you do on the feeling when you contemplate consciousness and say I Am. I Am is complete all by itself. It needs nothing else but I resist it. I resist it and yet I experience it every night in meditation…a vast nothingness of pure void, black, dark, beautiful, peaceful and wonderful. It’s funny having experienced a concept and then rejecting it on another hand but only in a way and maybe it is just semantics and there is no resistance at all but instead an alternative angle of understanding present that will morph into some other understanding that might entertain my psyche for a bit. It doesn’t matter, none of this matters. Being everywhere and nowhere and understanding what that means in terms of consciousness – now that is priceless.
This may make no sense from the outside looking in. But if you cut off the outside entirely, breathe slowly and deeply, let your thoughts slide away like rain down the side of a mountain, you might understand what I mean. In the stillness and quiet we taste a bit of who and what we are. What does that matter? I don’t know that it does other than to help you understand that you are more than flesh, bones, brain and a bundle of nerves. You are that too but so much more. Add emotion and you have the perfect storm of wonder that humanity is. It’s truly beautiful. You are truly beautiful. Our consciousness from whatever angle for whatever purpose we design is amazing regardless of who is right, wrong or somewhere in between.
Dr. J.L. Harter, Editor see bio section for more information.