What is Consciousness
God is The
which is above
Pseudo-Dionysius 345 - 407
The first knock on Heavens Door
And what is behind that door of perception?
As far as I am able to see there are endless doors of Pandora.
Forty-three years ago, as a young student I closed my eyes with a self-invented mantra
after reading briefly in an Indian book about Meditation I had borrowed from the
library. I disappeared into a black void with no time and no space. When I
again opened my eyes, everything was radiating the most beautiful white light. I
went out of my room. White light was coming out of the floor and out of the
ceiling. I went outside. It was raining from dark clouds, but to my utter
amazement, light was emanating from them as well. For one year, I became a university
drop out. Instead of books, I was studying unknown worlds inside myself.
Sometimes, when I walked in nature, each step I took sent waves of love, happiness
and wellbeing through my body.
One of the many insights I still carry with me today is that
Consciousness is the most mysterious 'phenomenon' that 'exist'. In fact, the
following will try to show that consciousness does not exist in the normal sense
of the word.
Noone has since the Greek times of antiquity been able to give a satisfying
answer to what redness is. What inside of us is conscious of redness is
even more mysterious.
In spite of these facts we use the word 'consciousness' in our daily language as the most natural thing in the world, as we all know exactly what it is.
Furthermore, we use words as race consciousness, class consciousness, gender
consciousness, and so on.
To get a glimpse of the inner worlds is to discover that we almost know nothing.
I love words. At the same time, I agree with what mystics have said repeatedly through time: words
can only cover a fragment of a fragment of the mysteries that unfolds
within a singular introverted mind.
SCIENCE AND CONSCIOUSNESS
For many years I have almost not been able to read what main
stream science had to say about Consciousness. It was too naive. The following
scientific description from Wikipedia
illustrates this by science itself not recognized folly. Here Consciousness
is reduced to primitive
neurophysiological processes in the brain:
Neural Correlates OF Consciousness. First of all I would
like to rephrase the above sentence to Neural Correlates IN Consciousness.
To describe Consciousness as a product of neural correlates
is like describing a mirror through the content reflected in
When science thinks it can explain everything within the
of old school positivism, it in fact, has replaced the storytelling of religions
with new fairy tales. The scientist has in fact, become a priest.
A primordial fact is that no human, and therefore no scientist can remove
himself as a digesting, burping and emotionally fragile human observer from the
scientific equation. He will like anybody else be genetically engineered to
interpret facts, so they are in sync with his own or his clans survival.
To know not knowing
Hence for me, it is more important to know what I don't know than to know what I
know. In this movement, I make myself consciously aware of the boundaries of my
knowledge in any given subject I choose to concentrate on. This clarity is a
byproduct of an expanded consciousness when we view consciousness as a function
of the ability to 'aware' data. When consciousness 'grows' as a consequence of
its ability to experience larger and larger amounts of data, we/it become(s) aware of
the darkness and the grey zones between darkness and light.
One can be a Nobel scientist and yet have low developed brain faculties for
harbouring consciousness. At the other end of the spectrum, we can imagine a
highly conscious person not being able to score above average in an IQ
test. As far as consciousness has something to do with the brain activity, it
most probably is wired differently and seated in different areas of the brain
than the case is with the phenomenon of traditional Western conditioned
intelligence. In fact some of the most succesful persons I have encountered in
my life had a high IQ, even a high EQ, but not much CQ. CQ is my
improvised scale for 'quantified' Consciousness, as far as this phenomenon is
related to brain activity.
Seen from an evolutionary perspective consciousness is a mystery. World history
is full of examples of Saints living as beggars on the fringe of society. People
who cultivated Consciousnss were not valuable seen with Darwins eyes. The Hindu
God of meditation, Shiva has no children. Sages are not known for being
successful in passing their genes. In this context I would even go so far than
to say that it gives an evolutionary advantage to overestimate what we know,
which is what we tend to do when we are less awake. Winston Churchshill said:
Never underestimate a man who over estimates himself.
Knowing your limitations is called
wisdom. Wisdom is, in this sense, opposite to knowledge. A wise and
knowing person will try to objectify his subjectivity in
a kind of expanded astronaut overview where he can see his own and others subjectivity as a part of
the whole picture. This objectification is, of course, in its nature also subjective
but still an essential movement in the eternal search, not for absolute truth, but
for, with inspiration from Wittgenstein's search for what is
true enough. We will never
Ding an sich in
our hands, but we can always come closer to something that is more true
than the truth of yesterday.
NEW SCIENTIFIC PARADIGMES AND ENTHEOGENS
In recent years, science has, as far as I can see become surprisingly better in
showing humbleness in the search for consciousness. With great pleasure, I have
Annaka Harris book,
Conscious. It seems that almost suddenly, there
is a general tendency of modern science being more consciously aware of its own
limitations and Annaka Harris presentation of these thoughts is both wise and
I will here present a controversial explanation of this for me highly positive
development. I guess that this new oasis of insights has emerged as a result of
the use of entheogens. There is nothing in this existence you can do that can make you
more abruptly aware of your limitations than when you after taking a
brainmodulation pychedelic substance suddenly find yourself
surfing tsunamis of big data in elevated states of ever morphing expanded
In the 60'ties, thanks to Timothy Leary, it became a mass movement within
academia to experiment with psychedelics. This was, in many ways a hazardous
pilgrimage into unknowingness. However, quite a few of these first surviving
pioneers today hold key posisitions within a variety of scientific institutions.
Due to the still demonized status of psychedelics, I will not mention names
here. This, together with the emerging ayahuasca scene in South America has
led to a psychedelic renaissance both in culture and science.
Sam Harris is a good example of this journey into humbleness. What his
meditation and visit to gurus in the far East could not do has, to some extent, been done through his
experience with 'heroic' doses of magic mushrooms. I am talking about his
typically New Yorker Jewish academic arrogance. In his book Waking Up: A
Guide to Spirituality Without Religion, I find that my own Scandinavian ego is
less projective provocated to overwrite my brain circuits with amygdala derived
Consciousness and rational argument and thinking
Let me here make an important time out and go to a meta perspective. What
have I just done? I have been 'personal' and critiziced Sam Harris for being
arrogant. In the same movement I have pointed out my own arrogance and an
important part of the whole picture.
For me, being spiritual does not imply that I am beyond critizicing other
people. I dont believe in a spiritual über-ich all the time on a
cognitive level evaluating if what I say or do is spiritual or not. I don't give
a fuck about that. This spiritual über-ich is the reason for the rampant
hypocrazy in so called spiritual people. When consciousness as far as it is
confined to a phenomenon in the brain, intensifies, expands and becomes clearer
as a a bulb where you turn up the light the fist thing you aware in a dialogue
with another person is that you cannot stay confined to the ancient Greek
setting. In a Greek dialogue, the mutual horisontal exchange of valid arguments
are setting the stage. The focus is on the rational argument, where I in
princip should be able to sum up my oponents argument and get his aproval for
having understod it correct before I procede with my own argument. In this sense
the Greek argumentation style is beautiful. However, in an expanded awareness it
become painstakingly clear that there is no objectivity that can be isolated
from the two subjects in the discussion. Hence every dialogue should be parallel
processed with the question: Why do you and I say what we
A dialogue has to be consciously subjective. Otherwise the subjectivity will be
there as a demonic presence. Let me give an example. Here in Denmark we have a
professor, that a bit like Jordan Peterson has got a cult status. Both of them
are psychologist. Both say no to certain kinds of new trends. Jordan Peterson
opposes what he calls the new radical left and my danish professor
opposes the trend of ever ongoing personal self devellopment, which he sees as
an oppressing tool optimizing pacing the work force beyond its limits.
Both have, as far as I can see valid arguments for their say
no-cases. However, when I look at their faces, for me it becomes obvious
what is the engine beyond all the rational arguments. It is fear.