Sprituality & Transpersonal
Being and Brain
When you look at someone and talk to them, when they look at you and converse back, your brain functions are working even more closely together. Even if you are disagreeing with one another. Even if you are making each other angry. You have formed a small network. And through the network brains are affecting each other.
When you touch someone's body, and they touch yours, deeper parts of your brain functions are working more closely together. Our brains and their functioning, are linked through the material world. And they are linked through our bodies, which arise in, and as part of the material world.
The material world also links the part of our world of experience that is not material. The part we experience as our private or subjective mind and feeling and psychical or inner self. Because our brains are linked through our material communications, from one mind and self to another.
Our world is not just objective, material nature. That's not the entirety of our world as we know it. It is also a world of subjective self and mind and thought and imagination and experience. All of that, every subjective part of it, is part of our world.
We should recognise that our world, both its subjective facet and its objective facet, is all our world of being. All of it is a construct of brain function. Our world is not some world that is separable from our experience of being. It is not some world that is other than a construct of brain function. And it is a mistake to regard our world as being only the objective facet of it - the material world. The facet that is not dependent on any particular brain’s functioning.
What we encounter as the objective part of our world, the material part, does not depend in its objective nature on the functioning of our own particular brain. But it does not arise separately from our individual brain function. And so it does not arise separately from our individual self and experience of being, just because it is objective.
There is a rough parallel to this that we can draw from the world of online gaming. Except that our material world, as we encounter it, is part of a complete experience of being, rather than the limited experience of being that you get by looking at a screen and playing an online game.
In being or playing in our material world we have a body and sentience and a mind and the whole of our psyche. Nonetheless, the material part of our world of being doesn't exist separately from us. It is, as it were, a world of experience created through the peer-to-peer principle. There is no "central server", as it were, in which the material world exists. It exists as a construct of brain function. Just as a peer to peer game world exist as a construct of the individual software and computer you are using. But that's as far as the analogy goes.
Through our individual brain function arises an idea of "who I am" that is based on the experience of being our individual body. It is an idea of "who I am" not identified with the rest of the material world.
But that's only an idea of "who I am". A subjective one, arising in the subjective facet of the construct of brain function. It is not the actuality of the self experience we are having and being.
The actuality of our experience of self depends on the material world, and our material brain function. If you shut that down, this experience of self disappears. The principle of the brain has to create the construct we call the objective material world, in order to create the experience of self that we experience in our ordinary waking condition.
The objective, material world, is not separate from our self experience, but is completely part of our self experience as the objective, material world. The two, self and world, are inseparable. They are both a construct of the same overall brain function. They are part and parcel of the principle of the brain. The principle through which the brain creates our human "conscious experience” in the ordinary waking condition.
The entire material world is the very framework of our self experience. This framework is not just our individual body. It is the entire material world. The entire material world is not our idea of "who I am", it is not the "person" we say we are, it is not our human body. But it is part of our experience of the self we are being. And it's not personal. And in that way, it is the stuff of our self. It is also beyond our self, because our true Identity is beyond our self. But contrary to the idea of "who I am", it is never other than who we are, or what we are being.
Scientific understanding devoid of this realisation, is limited in how far it can go. Because whilst scientific method is objective, science is still being understood through a mode of intelligence that is still based on the "who I am" idea.
It is currently being carried out with the tacit belief that the "who I am" idea is irrelevant to science. But it is not. It is not possible to go beyond the "who I am" idea simply by being objective, or through objective, scientific method. It is only possible by becoming transpersonal.
So because the mainstream network of minds through which science is being done, does not realise this, and tacitly believes that the "who I am" idea is irrelevant to science, science at its cutting edge is already taking us down a rabbit hole.
We walk indoors. The experience of this, too, is a construct created through brain function. The feeling of our feet as we walk, happens in the brain, not in the feet. The entire sensory experience of the body, for anyone, happens in the brain function. In this sense, the body is in the brain. But also, of course, the brain is in the body. And so the world we know and experience, is literally in our being of the body. Because that's where our brain organ is.
I sit down in the chair beside the grandfather clock. All of this is a construct, created through the firing of neurons, in the incredibly complex neural network of the brain, which is the most complex thing known to science.
You listen to the clock, too. We share the experience. In that, there is therefore some similarity between what is happening in my brain function, and what is happening in yours. The clock links and synchronises our experience, because it is part of the objective world. But what I experience as the clock, is a construct of my brain function. And what you experience as the clock, is a construct of yours.
We know scientifically that it is a neural construct. But we don't scientifically know how it works, this construct. However, one thing stands. My experience of the clock happens in my brain function, whilst your experience of it, happens in yours. And the ticking of the clock is not dependent on your brain or mine. The clock and its ticking is objective. "Historically" we have always taken this to mean that the clock itself is not a construct of brain function. But there is no way we can truly separate the clock from the means by which we encounter it - which is the brain and its functioning.
Does the ticking clock really make a sound, if there is no one around to hear it? The answer is yes, it makes soundwaves in the air. Those soundwaves, like the clock itself, are objective. As too, is the air. But if by “make a sound" you mean something that is heard by someone, which happens when soundwaves enter the ear, and are subsequently translated into brain function, then the answer is no. Hearing is not objective.
Does that mean that the soundwaves, when not heard by anyone, are therefore not a construct a brain function? Not at all. Even the construct of brain function that amounts to our own experience of being and sentience, and hearing, is not something that is confined to our own individual brain.
So there doesn't have to be anyone experiencing the sound of the tree falling in the forest, in order for that to be part of the construct of brain function. It is part of our material world, and our material world is a construct of brain function.
We can use again, the rough analogy of the peer-to-peer online game network. A tree can fall in the game world, with whatever consequences it does or does not have on the game world, without any of the players knowing it, until they encounter one of its consequences. But there is still no "central server" running separate software, in which the tree has fallen.
The question that is being asked now, is how the brain in its functioning makes “conscious experience”. It is a question that should never be taken in a context that considers a brain in isolation. Because a brain doesn't exist in isolation. No brain ever came into existence, as an isolated organ.
Someone didn't come along and plant brains into a pre-existing universe. The means by which individual brain function is also our experience of self and universe, is a means that involves the entire universe, its entire evolution, and the entire evolution of the brain.
It involves that. Even though you may need to understand what all that evolution means, in a different context, in order to understand how that equates to our experience of being and mind, as a sentient self.
The brain creates our experience of being in the moment, now, without you having to know anything at all about evolution, and the past. But if you knew how it does it, how it is doing it in this moment now, you would also have an understanding of all that evolution, in a different way, a different kind of understanding of what it means.
So we both listen to the clock. Tick, tock, tick, tock. That beautiful, warm toned, wood and brass created sound, that grandfather clocks make.
The face of the clock has hands, as they are called, whose position on the face is a measurement of something we call time. What they are actually indicating is the working of the cyclic mechanism of the clock. That's what they are doing.
This mechanism is designed in such a way as to try to get it to synchronise as exactly as possible with other, important cyclic mechanisms in nature, such as the rotation of the Earth around its axis, or what today we might talk about as the oscillations of radiation from a caesium atom, used to measure the "second" scientifically.
This tick, tock, tick, tock, of the clock, that we hear, just like the very experience of hearing, itself, is part of the "internal model" created by my brain function, and by your brain function. I hear what I hear, and you hear what you hear. Because we have separate brains. But there is just one objective grandfather clock here. Just as there is one principle of the brain, which my brain instantiates, in its own way, and your brain instantiate, in its own way.
As long as the clock is working correctly, I can listen to this tick, tock, and it never seems to speed up, or slow down. If I am busy, with a lot to do and not much time to do it in, it goes on in the background, and whenever I listen to it, it is going on at the same speed. But the time seems to pass quickly. Half an hour can pass very quickly. And yet if I sit and do nothing, and I am waiting impatiently for something to happen, that half an hour can seem a very long time indeed. But still, the tick, tock, of the clock, goes on at the same speed. I never hear it slow down, or speed up.
That's because I have a perception of time that is subjective. That is, my perception of how long it takes for the hands to get from one position to another, is connected into the psychological and emotional functionality of my brain in producing my conditional experience of being. And that's not surprising, because we now know that the brain is one, connected network. Everything in its network is connected to everything else, either directly, or indirectly.
When I listen to the tick, tock, of the clock, I hear the objective facet of time. And even if what I hear as ticking and tocking does change a little, with my psychological or emotional condition, there is an objective facet of time, that is completely unaffected by it. Because I cannot change the way objective time is "running", in this so-called "internal model" that my brain function constructs, that I experience as "the world".
I cannot change this objective facet through my psychological or emotional condition, I cannot change it in any part of the material world. Just as I cannot change the one principle of the brain.
The material world, its nature and dynamics, are governed by natural laws, called the laws of nature, which scientists could demonstrate at any time are independent of the functioning of my individual brain.
And yet this material world we experience, the grandfather clock, the Sun we see rising in the morning and setting in the evening, in those great, natural cycles of time, just as we experience it all, is all, every part of it, the construct of our own brain function. That is the neuroscientific fact of it.
But the principle through which our own brain is able to do this, is not confined to our own, individual brain organ. Everything comes out of that one principle, and the principle involves everything.
Science has been assuming that the way the material world “works" can be fully understood on the presumption that as a whole it has nothing to do with our experience of being. Our experience of self, mind, thought, and world. At the centre of which, is the experience "I am".
To go beyond this requires a very large paradigm shift. But then, it once seemed that the Sun rotates around the Earth. It still does seem to. But science has gone beyond that. With great difficulty, and with threats to the well-being of those like Galileo and Copernicus, who dared to suggest otherwise, science eventually overthrew that idea. We now know that the Earth rotates around the Sun.
The same naivety creates the so-called "hard question of consciousness”. This is the question of how the functioning of a brain that that is just biological matter, manages to be the same thing as our “consciousness" - our experience of being, mind, self, and world. At the centre of which, is the experience "I am”.
The question arises in the way that it does because it still presumes that the material world in which the brain organ arises, is something other than a construct of brain function.
Physicists tell us we are overdue a scientific revolution probably of unprecedented magnitude, in order to bring together the disparate and incompatible parts of our current scientific understanding. And they probably imagine this is a matter of physics.
What we are actually pending, is knowledge of the human brain, and the way in which it creates our experience of being. Not as a self in the material world, where the material world as a whole has nothing to do with our experience of self. But rather, as a self, where the material world is as much a part of this self experience, as the body and the mind.
For a very long time, science has been coming from a position that presumes the material world has nothing to do with our experience of being, nothing to do with us, other than that we happen to be in it. This is the position of naive materialism. To go beyond naive materialism is to realise that our material world, in its entirety, and our experience of it, are inseparable.
Who we are, where we come from
Collectively, and scientifically, in the mainstream we continue to cling to this naivety in which we believe the material world to be other than a construct a brain function. Even though we know in neuroscience that there is nothing we experience or know, that is not a construct a brain function.
In that, we choose to ignore the scientific evidence from brain science, and are selectively choosing from scientific evidence. Rather than seeking to resolve the apparent conflict between our ideas and the emerging evidence.
Usually, we simply haven't sufficiently considered the most basic thing about the principle of the brain. Which is that to be consistent with the scientific fact that the material world does not depend on any brain organ, it is a principle that cannot be confined to an individual brain organ. So it is pointless trying to understand how an individual brain organ in isolation can create "conscious experience".
Post naive realism - the next stage after naive realism - does not suggest that the material world is something constructed on the principle of an individual brain organ's functioning. You are not personally creating it. Despite so much that is said, drawn from works of Indian philosophy. But then, you probably never really thought you were personally creating the material world, anyway. So there is nothing different, there.
We never actually experience a world separate from brain function. We just conceive such a world. Anything we perceive or experience happens as a construct of our own individual brain function. It doesn't even always perfectly match the objective nature of the material world.
The material world’s objective nature is somewhat like an “archetype” of all our subjective experiences of the material world. What we are experiencing as the material world, is the part of our world of being that we experience as material.
We never directly experience the objective "archetype" because it doesn't exist as something we can experience. Rather, it exists in our world of being as something science arrives at knowledge of, by making measurements.
The question of how the brain creates "conscious experience" is a question about experience. What we experience is not separate from our experience of being, and not other than a construct of our brain function. And, to point this out again, what science recognises as the objectivity of material phenomena, is just the aspect of it that does not depend on any particular, individual brain function (or, for that matter, any network of individual brains).
We misconceive the objective aspect as something that is "there", separate from our experience of being, and other than a construct of a brain function. But it doesn't exist in that way. Material phenomena, as much as we can ever know it or experience it, as human beings, still only exists as a construct a brain function.
The point is that it doesn't exist independently of the arising of our experience of being. The only reason we presume that it does, is not because of the science, but because of the "who I am" idea.
The "who I am" idea says "I am the body”, and construes the self we experience being to not include what we experience as the rest of material world. But as a matter of fact, because it is all part of the same construct of brain function, our experience of self includes what we experience as the material world.
The material world is as much our self experience as our mind and body. In other words, nature is not about something other than our experience of being this self.
The personal "who I am” idea is not irrelevant to science. Those who do not comprehend this, usually seek to explain "who we are and where we come from”, without even questioning the "who I am" idea. What they are really talking about is not our identity, and experience of being, but human bodies and brains. Glossing over the whole question of how brain function becomes our experience of being.
As it stands, the whole of evolution theory doesn’t answer how it is that now, in this moment, through the functioning of any given brain, there arises "conscious experience”. If it did, scientists wouldn't be asking the question.
If we are going to understand how the principle of the brain involves evolution, then we are going to have to change our view of evolution. Or to put this another way, when we understand the principle of the brain, which is the principle by which it gives rise to our "conscious experience”, our view of evolution as an “explanation” of who we are and where we come from, must have changed.
Nature is not about something other than our experience of being this self.
Not at all. It means that to discover the truth of who we are and where we come from - which, after all, is the truth of consciousness - we have to discover what the truth is, about this self, and this idea of "who I am".
That's why the "who I am" idea is completely relevant to science. And it is also why eventually, as science progresses, what it discovers is going to be no less palatable than was the discovery that the Sun is at the centre of the solar system, or that our bodies are animal, ape bodies.