What is Consciousness?: In the perspective of Vedanta

Introduction: 

This part is in continuation of my first post on the topic “What is Consciousness: General Perspective.”. Readers are requested to read the first post to have a general idea on Consciousness.

All that is known is knowing. It is “knowing”, that knows knowing. All that is experienced now is Consciousness. How that “something” which is infinite take shapes in finite as experience? How does Consciousness appear to itself?  As multiplicity and diversity of the Self?  In an attempt to discuss this question,  an analogy,  imagine a scene of dream. Dream breaks, then what remains in mind?  What was in dream? Where is the scene seen? Seen by whom?          

In the study of Consciousness , there is a break through by Upanishads: NON DUAL VEDANTA (ADVAITA VEDANTA). Lets look into ancient insights for personal life, all the way back to 5000 years old . The whole purpose is about overcoming the human sufferings. That is the essence of Non Dual Vedanta. It is not not a Religion. It is not about mystical experiences too. It is about daily experiences like awaking , dreaming, deep sleep. Now let us apply some logical thoughts and investigate. Vedanta is an investigation to find out who or what we are? When we will realize that we are not limited to this body of flesh and blood, but we are immortal consciousness. It is a journey from not knowing to knowing. It is not against any faith, neither it is a religion. No rituals, no path. Simply reasoning. There are methodologies to understand, to establish logics. We may refer the text “DIG DRISHYA VIVEKA which has been written some 700 years back. Eminent author, scholar of that period, known as Vidyaranya Swami composed that Text. Please follow the explanations very carefully. Points to be noted are:

  • We see the world through eyes. Eyes are distinct from what it sees. Here eyes are the seer.
  • I am aware of the eyes , that eyes are object. Mind is seer and eyes are now object. Eyes and mind are separate.

Let us think deeply. Mind is the observer of the body , because it observes through all sense organs. it is seer here. Let us  observe Mind now. Mind itself which constitutes our thoughts, feeling ,emotions , ideas are changing, which are never static. I am aware that whether,

  • I am happy or not.
  • I understand or do not understand.
  • I like or do not like.
  • I love or do not love.
  • I hate or do not hate.
  • I am angry or not angry.

All above are expressions of our mind. These are wave of thoughts. So I am aware of all the changes in my mind. Therefore, I am the witness of the mind. Hence mind is seen by Me. Evidently , I am distinct from the MIND. I am not the mind, but witness of the mind. Seer and seen are different. I am that who illumines my MIND.

 

Now the logic is : I must not forget that, I , the witness of the mind, whatever I am, I am distinct from the Mind. I am thus aware and conscious of the Mind, the variations in Mind. Generally we identify ourselves most closely with our Minds. I am this person who thinks, feels has a personality (my personality-that i am proud of ” I AM “

But this person, this Mind is who I think “I AM” and here we are being told, if you are aware of the contents of your mind , then you can not be the mind, “YOU ARE THAT”=> which is aware of the Mind, that which is witness of the Mind. This witness, this awareness is Consciousness.  Mind being observed by Consciousness. Therefore we have first crossed bodily self to a sense of mental self and then finally to a sense of witness. Now I have become the witness of my Body and Mind.

Now that I am distinct from this Body and Mind . So Who Am I? 

Answer is :–  I Am the Consciousness. I Am the Witness of the Body and Mind. This Consciousness Self, this pure Subject, is not an object. It cannot be known. I AM always Awareness, Consciousness, not something else.

” O Rama ! The world is nothing but a mere vibration of Consciousness in space. It seems to Exist even as a Goblin seems to exist in the eyes of the ignorant. All this is But Maya. For here there is no contradiction between the infinite Consciousness and the apparent existence of the Universe. It is like marvelous dream of a person who is awake”…..  from “YOGA VASISTHA” as said to Lord Rama by the Sage Vasistha.”

The idea that Consciousness is not an object is fundamental insight going all the way back to the “Upanishads”. According to teachings of Upanishads, Consciousness is not an object. Whatever we are aware of is not Consciousness. What we see, hear, smell or taste ,or think of, or understand, or objectify in any manner, what so ever, none of  these is Consciousness. These are objects shinning in Consciousness.

What is Consciousness? 

Please listen to this Lyrics ” Nirvana Shatakam” a creation of Shree Adi Shankaracharya. 

Vedanta defines Consciousness very precisely. ” Neti, neti” Whatever we can be aware of , either directly through our senses or through our mind or thoughts, or indirectly through scientific instruments, all of these are objects.

That which is aware of all these objects is Consciousness. It is purely subjective. Consciousness is uniquely distinct from the objective Universe.

“NO MIND”  : What is it?

Now we will try to understand that mind is also object. Let us think this way. Look. Here is the world outside. I am aware of it. Now, I change my attention to the Body, then to the eyes. Yes, now I am aware of the eyes. Now changed my attention to the mind which is aware of the eyes. Then comes thoughts, feelings and emotions on what is seen. Now I am aware of my Mind which has experienced all the feelings so far. Let me push backwards to suppose that I drop the mind. ” NO MIND”  Mind becomes blank. Now there is blankness. Absence of thoughts. But I am aware of that too. That is an experience which is not common. Now think ” what is it that is aware of Blankness, that there is no thoughts in the mind. It is Consciousness which is illuminating up all our experiences, is non-objective. We call it ” Pure Consciousness” This pure does not mean any good or better. It is without any attribute. The main point is that “Pure Consciousness” is not mixed up with any object. This  “Pure Consciousness” is universal. Omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent, indivisible, infinite, unbound so forth so on. 

Now, if I am this “Pure Consciousness”, distinct from body and mind, experiencing changes in body and mind, also experiencing external world through this body and mind, then in a sense, I am free from body and mind. That is my real Identity. That is what “I AM” Therefore, birth, ageing, diseases, death are changes in body and anger, jealousy ,sorrows, joy etc. are all fluctuations of mind are all objective part. I AM beyond these changing experiences. Because I experience it, it must be something different from me. The mind undergoes us and downs. Mind is the cause of our sufferings, pleasure and pain. The frustrations, the anxieties, the fear are all objects of my awareness. I am not these. I am ever free from them. Before they were there, I was there. When they appear, they shine in my light and when they disappear, I am still there, the same ever shining light of Consciousness. 

Upanishad says ” That shining, everything else shines, by its light everything is lit up.” 

Once we understand above, there will be great sense of freedom. Even the worst experience in the body, the worst experiences in the mind, which are objects and not attached to me, the consciousness illuminating the objects as experience.

What is experience?

According to Vedanta, consciousness working through the mind illuminating the body is a bodily experience. consciousness through illuminating the mind is an experience of the mind. Consciousness through the body and mind is an experience of the world outside. Therefore EXPERIENCE = CONSCIOUSNESS + OBJECT.

The world changes, body changes, mind changes, but they are all revealed by this one light of consciousness which I AM which is our real nature. So the non objective, pure subject, this is a very deep insight. Neuroscience or modern science or philosophy of mind can not define consciousness. Non Dual Vedanta means Consciousness is the ultimate reality. There is no second reality.

Now the question is that each of us is pure subject, awareness only, illumining the body and mind, then this awareness, this pure subject , how many of those are there? If there are millions of people out there, then millions of consciousness there?   Millions of people, Billions of other living creatures have millions or billions consciousness? No there is single one Consciousness. Here I will stick to Non Dual theory. Advaita Vedanta: Why do you think that there are many consciousness? It is true that we have different bodies, different minds, they are distinct bodies, distinct minds, but consider this pure consciousness which is not mixed with any object, not a body , not a mind, then how can we distinguish one consciousness from the other. That is why Advaita says there is one Consciousness. 

Example: 1) A Jar made of clay with lots of holes. Light inside. We see the light from all the holes. It appears that many lights coming out of the jar. But actually, there is one lamp flame which is shinning through many holes.

Bhagavad Gita says: Consciousness is one and undivided in all beings , but it appears to be divided, when shinning through many bodies and minds.           [  slokas: BG: Ch-13: 16-18.]

The article will continue….Final part will be published soon.

List of Books : Recommended For Interested Readers:

  1. Thought As a System: By DAVID BOHM 
  2. BIOCENTRISM:– How life and consciousness are the keys to Understanding the True Nature of The Universe: By Robert Lanza, MD with BOB BERMAN
  3. Beyond Biocentrism- Rethinking Time, Space, Consciousness and the illusion of Death. By Robert Lanza, MD with BOB BERMAN
  4. Entangled Minds- Extra Sensory Experiences in A Quantum Reality. By DEAN RADIN.
  5. Expand Your Consciousness through DAVID K MILLER
  6. QUANTUM ENIGMA -Physics Encounter Consciousness: By Bruce Rosen Blum and Fred Kuttner.
  7. Back to the Truth: 5000 years of ADVAITA by Dennis Waite.**
  8. THE TEN PRINCIPAL UPANISHADS: Translated by Shree Purohit** Swami and W.B.Yeats
  9. Brahma Sutra Bhasya of Sankaracharya: Translated by Swami Gambhirananda.**
  10. EIGHT UPANISADS -VOL-1 with commentary of Sankaracharya, Translated by SWAMI GAMBHIRANANDA.
  11. A-U-M Awakening to Reality : By Dennis Waite***
  12. Panchadasi: Swami Vidyaranya: 
  13. Information available on internet.

Useful link: 

[Unified field of consciousness backed up by modern science (tmhome.com)] 

It is my sincere request to the esteemed readers to share their opinion or queries if any. Suggestions to make the site attractive will be highly helpful for me. Readers are requested to read all the posts to have continuation of the topic from the beginning. My mail ID is : arun7663@gmail.com

Please go through the following post for knowledge on Pure Consciousness. ” The Divine Art”

The Divine Art !!!

What is Consciousness?: General Perspective

Preface:

  • The article is based on my studies, my concept, my thoughts on the subject. It is further supplemented  with my experiences and self realization.
  • ☆I found some link between modern science(Quantum mechanics) and teachings of ancient sages as mentioned in Vedanta, regarding Universe, Supreme Consciousness or the Ultimate truth , the Ultimate Reality whatever we say.
  • ♡ Having gone through the Vedanta/ancient texts, commentaries, translated by different writers, translators, publishers on the same topic, I have tried my best to share the subject matter as I understood and convinced too. My intention is to reach to you with the topic that I found very useful for human lives. I am not good in English literature. Please give your valuable suggestions for the improvement and valuable inputs to make the text beneficial for mankind.
  • Your feedback will be highly appreciated. I am sure that the subject matter is highly logical and does not bring any conflict. Hope you will enjoy reading. Regards. NAMASTE. I can be reached at : arun7663@gmail.com

Introduction:

In this article we will focus on the analysis of Pure Consciousness in the perspective of Modern Science and Advaita Vedanta. The article will be covered in three parts. First part is on a “General Perspective.”

There is no full proof scientific definition of Consciousness in general . However we can define on the basis of Eastern philosophy , ancient Indian philosophy and modern science this way:–

According to Advaita Vedanta philosophy, Reality is identified as “Brahman” . Brahman is identified as singular in nature, identical to the Self and known as Pure Being (Sat) , Awareness (Chit) and Bliss (Ananda). The visible world(Matter) is considered to be illusory (Maya~ Mithya). Bhagavad Gita says: Consciousness is one and undivided in all beings , but it appears to be divided, when shinning through many bodies and minds. [ include slokas: Ch-13: 16-18.]

What is Consciousness? : Consciousness is that, in which all experiences appear. It is that with which all experience is known and it is that out of which all experiences are made.

Any objective thoughts, memories, ideas, concepts, feelings, sensations, smells, sights, sounds etc. all of these appear in something that something we call Awareness or Consciousness.

The common name is “I ” or “Self”. According to Vedas (Sacred Texts of ancient India) , Brahman is Infinite being. All these refer to  “THAT” in which experience appears. With which it is known and out of which it is made. Conventional view is that our thoughts and feelings appear in ourselves. The experience of sensations in the body appears in ourselves is also Consciousness. Perceptions also appear in same Consciousness. In the same field thoughts etc. also appears.

Please read the following Paragraph carefully. I am sure that You will get some intuitive knowledge :

If we observe carefully, we will see these thoughts appear in some kind of Field. They appear in that space. Consciousness is not though a space but say a field or space like. Now may we close our eyes and allow our thoughts to move freely wherever it goes according to previous experiences. Think for a moment. It can be observed minutely. Does my attention ever leave the field of consciousness or awareness?  Thoughts inside “I AM” and sound outside “I AM” are not separate. They are linked. Allow our attention to go wherever it goes and have a single question. Does ever my attention leave the awareness?  Try to leave the field out. Imagine out of box now, such as that experience which you have not experienced earlier. or remember that you landed on the Mars. New sets of perceptions appear. Now, are these new perceptions inside Consciousness or outside Consciousness? Is there any feeling, perceptions outside Consciousness? Can we leave our Consciousness where there is no feeling?

Simply and clearly nobody has ever come in contact with any experience outside of Consciousness or Awareness. Strangely our entire world culture is founded on a single belief . According to Science, there is a substance which exists outside Consciousness and that substance is Matter. Matter is the fundamental reality of all existence. Classical physics, reductionists  and science at least believe this that Consciousness is derived from Matter. This is the primary assumption as a whole. Since the invention of matter, scientists are saying that Consciousness is product of Matter.

Now question arises.  Q-1)  What is the nature of Universe? Q-2) How Consciousness can be derived from matter? Both are contradictory. For question no. 1): Science do not ever acknowledge that we have answer. For question no. 2): How is Consciousness derived from Matter (from brain arises consciousness…but brain is matter). We presumed that the stuff called matter is Universe and then we ask how Consciousness derived from matter.

What is the Universe made of?

Is there any answer to the nature of Universe? So far, whatever we know about the Universe is based on perceptions. It is materialism. What is the Universe made of? We are trying to explore the Universe. All we know is perceptions and perceptions appear in Consciousness. Therefore until we know the nature of Consciousness, where perceptions appear, we are unable to know what is true about the perceptions. It is most important to know Consciousness because perceptions appear in it.

Awareness is our experience.

Now therefore, Awareness is our subject to be known, the field of study. We are aware of  what we have experienced. What is the nature of that knowing that is more important. Until we know the nature of knowing with which our experience is known, or until we know the nature of the Consciousness where our experience appears we cannot know anything that is true about the body, mind and beyond.

We must first know what the nature of consciousness is?

Now if we ask ourselves ” Am I aware”?  Then comes the answer “yes”. There is some gap between two thoughts. What happens is that after putting the first question “Am I aware” question makes some pause and ask the system to get the reply and there it collapses and reply the answer “yes”. During this gap of time, awareness tests itself momentarily. In the pause between the question, I am aware that I am aware. Consciousness knows itself. That is the pause and it is Consciousness itself who replies yes I am aware. I AM AWARE THAT I AM AWARE.

Think of that which is not objective and see.

Consciousness recognizes its own Being. Only Consciousness knows that it is Consciousness. The finite mind, thought can tell nothing, but it is the Consciousness. Finite mind knows that it is only objective.  Only blankness is the answer. No mind is the answer. Although thought is made of Consciousness only, yet it cannot know the stuff it is made of. Consciousness is a field which is aware that it is a field adding a space like quality. Actually, it is not a field. It has no dimension. It is indescribable. Since we cannot imagine anything without dimension so to speak about it, we can relate only. So, we can say it as space like quality. Consciousness is space like where thoughts appear. It is empty from the point of view of objective. It is free from objective. It is like a screen of awareness where all the experiences appear. Thoughts, perceptions, sensations appear in it, but Consciousness is like a space. It is not empty, but it is empty of all objective contents. It has no finite quality. Being infinite, empty, not finite, it is indivisible. There is single Consciousness (NON DUAL). Consciousness is fundamental. We can say it is Universal consciousness. It has no border, it has no shape, no form, not distinguishable, the single infinite, indivisible entity(The whole, the ONE).

David Chalmers a famous Australian philosopher and Cognitive scientist has said that there are two problems with Consciousness: 1. Hard problem and 2. Easy Problem.

What is the hard problem of Consciousness?

The hard problem is: Why does consciousness feel the way it does? Why does it feel like anything?

What is the easy problem of consciousness?

The easy problem is :

  1. Finding the neural correlate of Consciousness.
  2. Explaining the ability to apply information to thinking and behaviour.
  3. Explaining the ability to focus attention, recall items from memory, integrate perceptions etc.

The article will continue….Next part will be published soon.

Conclusion: 

The knowing of consciousness with which we experience, cannot be divided into parts. Trace the “I” to its origin after removing all experiences to the essence of nature of our minds, we will land into same Consciousness. Our finite minds overlap, and we call that the outside world and part of minds which do not overlap, we call it that thoughts and feelings. Our minds are the elements of the Universal consciousness. We do share the world of same Consciousness. So, now the big question is ,how the matter appears from Consciousness. How is it possible to appear the world from Consciousness that is the interesting question? Next parts will be based on 1. Quantum Physics and 2. Vedanta(Upanishad)

List of Books : Recommended For Interested Readers:

  1. Thought As a System: By DAVID BOHM 
  2. BIOCENTRISM:– How life and consciousness are the keys to Understanding the True Nature of The Universe: By Robert Lanza, MD with BOB BERMAN
  3. Beyond Biocentrism- Rethinking Time, Space, Consciousness and the illusion of Death. By Robert Lanza, MD with BOB BERMAN
  4. Entangled Minds- Extra Sensory Experiences in A Quantum Reality. By DEAN RADIN.
  5. Expand Your Consciousness through DAVID K MILLER
  6. QUANTUM ENIGMA -Physics Encounter Consciousness: By Bruce Rosen Blum and Fred Kuttner.
  7. Back to the Truth: 5000 years of ADVAITA by Dennis Waite.**
  8. THE TEN PRINCIPAL UPANISHADS: Translated by Shree Purohit** Swami and W.B.Yeats
  9. Brahma Sutra Bhasya of Sankaracharya: Translated by Swami Gambhirananda.**
  10. EIGHT UPANISADS -VOL-1 with commentary of Sankaracharya, Translated by SWAMI GAMBHIRANANDA.
  11. A-U-M Awakening to Reality : By Dennis Waite***
  12. Panchadasi: Swami Vidyaranya: 
  13. Information available on internet.

Useful link: 

[Unified field of consciousness backed up by modern science (tmhome.com)] 

It is my sincere request to the esteemed readers to share their opinion or queries if any. Suggestions to make the site attractive will be highly helpful for me. Readers are requested to read all the posts to have continuation of the topic from the beginning. My mail ID is : arun7663@gmail.com