We are the Conscious Part of the Universe

Jeff Carreira Philosophy 60 Comments

Now that I have got out some of my thoughts about the nature of truth I thought that I would respond directly to some of Chuck R’s earlier comment. (This is how this diversion got started after all.) Chuck in his comment takes a stab at what he believes many people on this blog – and possibly even me – might believe about the nature of reality. He has admitted to spending over 35 years as a seeking mystic and so he outlines an evolutionary spiritual perspective that is somewhat common – and many aspects of what he says are metaphors that I have used in talking to people myself. Let’s start with this paragraph.

It seems to me that you are postulating some sort of mind-body duality which bears a family resemblance to Descartes’ formulation. In this there is some sort of mental-spiritual-cognitive-whatever continuum, probably infinite in extent, which intersects somehow with the physical “reality”. A crude model of this would be that our brain is some sort of cosmic radio, “tuning in” on the cosmic wavelength. Our “real” nature is somehow embedded in this wavelength. Your deep cosmic “thoughts” are not arising within your brain, they are originating Someplace Else, perhaps in the Central Creative Mind Of God, broadcasting throughout the universe.

I for one am trying to avoid mind-body dualities, without denying spirit – which is difficult I admit. I have at times used the metaphor as the brain as cosmic radio, but not because I think it is a scientifically accurate statement, because I think it helps to loosen up our perception from our normal sense of a source of consciousness that originates in ourselves. I think metaphors like that are helpful, not because they are a more accurate representation of the truth, but because they help us to get an alternative look at the world.

Chuck goes on…

No continuum of mind, no cosmic radio, no direction, no soul, no reincarnation or rebirth, no heavens or hells or in-between *Bardo* states. All that was an illusion based on a misinterpretation of a little-understood phenomena of the brain.

This I would have to object to on the grounds that I don’t believe Chuck can know what doesn’t exist. How do you know that there is no continuum of mind, no cosmic radio, no direction, no soul, no reincarnation etc… What is the little-understood phenomena of the brain that would explain all these things away. My point here is that I believe in indeterminacy – we just don’t know “scientifically” how things are ultimately. Science itself is based on this very fact. We never know for certain – but we choose to believe based on our experience.

I believe that human beings and human consciousness has emerged through the process of evolution right up out of the matter in the universe. There is evidence that supports this, and more importantly it makes sense to me. Matter developed and evolved, became more complex and more separate and also found ways to interact more harmoniously to form compounds, and eventually life, organisms, and consciousness. We are the conscious being that calls itself human. We have a consciousness that is not ours, but grew out of the universe itself and now mistakes itself to be a conscious object that exists in a universe rather than the conscious part of the universe.

I don’t believe that consciousness was produced at some time in the evolutionary process. I believe that consciousness was there from the beginning and, that in some way that would be impossible for me to understand “scientifically,” it has always guided the process of evolution. Why do I believe that? It makes sense to me. I can’t understand how consciousness could have just popped into existence at some point and so I believe that is was there from the beginning. Spiritual experiences that I have had support that belief – at least I my opinion – and since they were my experiences, mine is the opinion that matters most about them. I have experienced a depth of pure consciousness which I realized was not tied to this body, but somehow existed prior to the body and like the wind in sail, animates the body. I have no proof but my own experience, and in the end I would be very surprised if how I see things now is the final word on how they are. What I do know is that the idea that consciousness is something that exists outside of me that I participate in is more satisfactory to me than the idea that somehow my brain is an individual generator of consciousness and that we each have our own unique consciousness generator. This is where I am coming from and recently I have discovered the American Pragmatists were barking up a similar tree. The philosophy of John Dewey is brilliant in the way that he points out that consciousness is in the end an activity – a way of being in the world, not a power of the mind. I am not a big fan of baseless New Age Ideologies, but I do like to bend and stretch the limits of common sense in this dramatically uncommon universe of ours.

About the Author

Jeff Carreira
Jeff Carreira is a mystical philosopher and spiritual guide. He is the author of eleven books on meditation and philosophy. He teaches online programs and leads retreats throughout the world that teach people how to let go of their current perceptual habits so they are free to participate in the creation of a new paradigm. To put it simply, he supports people to live a spiritually inspired life, free from the constraints of fear, worry and self-doubt, and aligned with their own deepest sense of meaning and purpose.
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liesbeth
liesbeth
11 years ago

What an absolutely beautiful blog Jeff. This is so much more convincing than any theory, it is very beautiful. It is interesting you say ‘conscious part’ and not ‘thinking part’. Starting reading Steiner (which I know you want to read yourself) makes clear the difference between ‘thinking’ and ‘consciousness’ which I think connects with Krishnamurti’s ‘the awakening of intelligence’ where he said that we learn to think in fragments, that we only use a fragment of the enormous possibilities of the mind (thinking=a screen between reality and us), and from a fragment one can never understand the whole (consciousness of… Read more »

Catherine
Catherine
11 years ago

I would like to make a historical comment about Isaac Newton. As maybe people know, the great scientist was also an alchemist. More, the main part f his activity was alchemy , not science. As such he believes in forces that were “not detectable”. I learned recently that apparently , Newton’s alchemist facility was the main reason why he advocated the “forces at distance ” in his theory of Gravitation. At the time people thought that to “move an object” you need a contact force. You needed to “touch”to get a shock. The great break of Newton is to have… Read more »

liesbeth
liesbeth
11 years ago

I should not write this Catherine, but after reading your post, I just took my book about Whitehead (because I thought I would find the answer there) and the first thing I read was connected to Newton’s law of ‘forces at distance’… he talks about the subjectivity of basic entities that form reality; every moment of experience has a center of development that acts as a receiving entity of the past, empowering itself to the future. God would be the total of all entities that have been experienced (thought of?) in the world (..the edge of knowledge?).. the endless becoming… Read more »

Catherine
Catherine
11 years ago

Just some comment on the side. I just have checked whether Wilber, in his integral philosophy, talks at all about Steiner. For those who know me a bit, well I was never impressed by Wilber [ just couldn’t , my mind seems to refuse it ]. And guess what… no mention of Steiner at all. Apparently the fact is well documented now by a Scholar from Melbourne, Jennifer Gidley. One finds in the critics parts of Wilber ‘s WIKI page; “She (Jennifer Gidley) also drew attention to some limitations of Wilber’s integral project, notably his undervaluing of Gebser’s actual text,… Read more »

Carl
11 years ago

Catherine, Wouldn’t you say that the reason that the scientific community is “strong” in your terms is because it builds on evidence, on data, on experiments and demonstrations that are open to confirmation, replication, verification, or not. It is a solid base with standard measures and agreed-upon procedures and principles of evidence, etc. While there might be some slop in the system, the preponderance of evidence over time directs conclusions and trends. There is never any “final answer” because it continues to evolve, but at least the prior steps are solid, or subject to being disproven, which they sometimes are.… Read more »

Catherine
Catherine
11 years ago

Dear Carl, I don’t know how to answer this question. That a guy, like Ken Wilber who is a philosopher of spirituality of Evolution doesn’t mention Steiner at all is completely mesmerizing for me. I just don’t get it at all. It is just Wilber’s field, you see. Wilber has spend 35, 40 years to work in a field. In this field there are very few giants : Teilhard de Chardin, Aurobindo, Steiner… [ I talk here about the philosophy of Evolution of Consciousness, not just Evolution]. Steiner is incredibly impressive for anyone liking logics in spirituality [ please just… Read more »

Brian
Brian
11 years ago

There’s a literary term the “willing suspension of disbelief” which I think can be applied to Jeff’s position. [Jeff’s name is used here to represent any spritualist] No matter how much science can explain, Jeff hangs on to the idea that there might be another realm where reason cannot go. Even though he can’t identify it, he doesn’t want to miss out on it. On several occasions I’ve pointed out that science deals with ‘truth’ better than it deals with ‘goodness’ or ‘beauty’, but that doesn’t satisfy. Jeff is seeking a truth that lies beyond (not beside) reason — the… Read more »

liesbeth
liesbeth
11 years ago

‘True enlightenment comes from science, not from philosophy’. That is what I read this morning in the newspaper. It seems that neurosciences and psychology already for 50 years proves that free will does not exist..it seems this counts for individual minds, so important is not to worry if or if not Wilber was aware of the ideas of Steiner (he might not have been), but to put all the attention towards collective intelligence, which has at least some fresh possibilities..

Catherine
Catherine
11 years ago

I would like to answer to Lisbeth and Carl a bit more precisely. For me if one says that philosophy is subjective and thus, any philosopher, like Wilber, can forget in a synthesis one of the most impressive work, then it looks like the world of flatland has come back again [ or new age]. If there is really a trend of Evolution, if there are really ideas that are “newer” than others, then any respectable scholar in the field must at least attempt to discuss them. In the case of Wilber and Steiner, what can have happened ? My… Read more »

Catherine
Catherine
11 years ago

Dear Jeff, it would something enormous for me to see the fusion of Steiner’s work and Andrew Cohen ones, to be transcended afterwards. I listen to the small audio of this antroposophist you interviewed, and indeed liked it. I was also happy to see that he has been as well very influenced by Andrew Cohen’s teachings. I had a dream tonight which I am still shaken off. The dream was featuring Rudolf Steiner and Andrew Cohen discussing in a room. The door was closed. I was outside, having a good time with a few friends and we were wondering what… Read more »

Liesbeth
Liesbeth
11 years ago

Dear Catherine, Thank you for your posts, I asked around and it seems everybody knows Steiner by name, but hardly anyone has read him, including my philosopher colleague who really read all other philosophers; so it might be he was just out of sight for a while. It seems though he talked in line of Spiral Dynamics. He also talkes about the Akashic field, I was just looking at Erwin Laszlo because I also do not remember him ever mentioning Steiner’s name. So maybe it is time now for a revival. I went home today early to be able to… Read more »

Frank Luke
11 years ago

If I can speak of the body and then the soul of us humans, I’ve heard a teacher say that only in our human form are we able to work to make an impact on this plane of existence, an opportunity to do that. As we know an opportunity shouldn’t be wasted though maybe many seem to go through life without making much effort. There may also be negative impact, those who act in self-serving egoistic ways that cause harm to others. For spiritually evolved and awakened people, there’s our commitment to acting for the good of the many. Spiritual… Read more »

Chuck R
Chuck R
11 years ago

I’m going to do two posts: First I’ll comment on a few reader’s comments above. I liked Carl’s reply to Catherine’s comments about the scientific community. I’ll add only that Philosophy *can* show some rigor despite the difficulties of doing so, but if they do they might then get accused of “scientism” as does Logical Positivist A.J. Ayer. Catherine said: “Why is then the field of spirituality so weak compared to the scientific community ? It is a true question. I don’t get it.” Catherine, it seems to me that the spiritual community is actually far too strong (for my… Read more »

Chuck R
Chuck R
11 years ago

Jeff, We may be the “conscious part of the universe” (possibly not the *only* conscious part – life on other planets?) but that doesn’t inexorably lead to a probability that we are thereby manifesting some sort of universal consciousness. My gall bladder may be the bile-storing part of Chuck, but that doesn’t mean it’s manifesting some sort of universal (or “Chuck-iversal”) bile-storing capability. There’s probably some way to work out in logical notation this difference, but my skill with such notation is next-to-non-existent. Some other time. As you say, I was taking a stab at the form(s) of “spirituality” (I… Read more »

Liesbeth
Liesbeth
11 years ago

Dear Chuck, thank you for your responses. About the Akashic fields, I thought it was very interesting the way Laszlo talked about it, the possibility of consciousness from previous universes. I found something similar with Steiner –and that is the reason I mentioned it- which I did not continue to read because I am not interested in something I can check. My quote of free will came from the newspaper –it said we take decisions seconds before we get aware of it. I have been checking it for days now, and I think there is a lot of truth in… Read more »

Dave
Dave
11 years ago

And yet, none of this, is still not it. Trying in vain ~ we humans~ continually try to express the unexpressable. Instead of relaxing in the knowledge that in some sense we are all holding a part of the truth.

Still some good discussion as always!

Catherine
Catherine
11 years ago

Hi all, well, about Steiner, for years I had the same vision that he was a too esoterical. Until a friend told me that this vision was not correct and that he is a giant. So I read two books of him and then decided just to do what Steiner himself recommended: to read the book he himself considered the only important one: his philosophy of freedom. My life will never be the same afterwards. And then you understand what might have going on with Steiner. He wrote this incredible book ,which is probably 200 years in advance of his… Read more »

Chuck R
Chuck R
11 years ago

Dave:
You Wrote: “And yet, none of this, is still not it. Trying in vain ~ we humans~ continually try to express the unexpressable. Instead of relaxing in the knowledge that in some sense we are all holding a part of the truth. Still some good discussion as always!

I think it was D.T. Suzuki (if not him, someone else in the Chan/Zen tradition) who wrote: It is impossible to express in words the Truth (enlightenment, satori, etc.) but as humans we cannot do else but try.

Chuck R
Chuck R
11 years ago

Catherine: On Steiner: I last read any of his work back in the late 1960’s so my memory of it is about 99% vanished. I do remember that I found it very esoteric, needlessly so. After several books, I couldn’t figure out any way that any of what he wrote was going to be of use to me in any way, so I quit reading him at that point and have almost never thought about him since. I tend to do this. Whatever the truth-content might be of a writer’s work, if I can find no pragmatic use for it,… Read more »

Anonymous
Anonymous
11 years ago

Dear Chuck, yes it is basically the definition of rationality. Although I would not say that reason is completely independent of experience. I would say that experience can affect reason, but reason can also work on its own [ although apparently this stage where reason works on its own is very rare, and in Steiner’s book it is called “intuition”. I myself experiences it most profoundly in Scientific Intuition]. So indeed the Spinoza and Descartes’s definitions are good enough for me. Steiner’s first book deals with spiritual evolution of man only with the help of Reason, of rationality. I maintain… Read more »

Catherine
Catherine
11 years ago

Yes, I remember how upset I was… and in the two years that I have known Andrew Cohen and that I have been part of EN, I have been upset more than once [ not to mention when Andrew asked me to stop asking questions… this was the top of the top … until I understood why he did this.] but look how broad we are now…We can even discuss Steiner as an american philosopher ! So well, I agree with you that at the moment, the american culture is the only one with the capacities to lead. I see… Read more »

Frank Luke
11 years ago

With the mention of the Akashic Records above, I wonder if we can regard them as a log of karmic actions, a way of keeping a record of the behavior of us all? I can accept this concept more than I can imagine a God that keeps track of the actions of entire humanity. It also gives pause to those who feel there are no consequences for their behavior and are free to act irresponsibly and immorally. I understand that the Buddhists don’t subscribe to the concept of sin but rather view misbehavior as correctible mistakes. In the judgement of… Read more »

Frank Luke
11 years ago

re: ” What is *possible* may be extremely improbable. Your spiritual *realities* may exist, but what if they are highly improbable?”

There’s that quote I subscribe to:

“There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why… I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?”

There are times, days when I can become dejected but I prefer to live continuing, like Don Quixote tilting against windmills, to nurse that Impossible Dream. That’s what dreams are and some DO come through! Cross fingers!

Frank Luke
11 years ago

Re: the above post:

That’s not to say I don’t work to achieve those dreams and try to make that vision of the world I would want to inhabit materialize.

Chuck R
Chuck R
11 years ago

Catherine: As R.Steiner was an Austrian (I can find no record of his ever coming to the USA) you can probably get translations of his work in French, if you don’t have them already. If his writings have an American flavor, it would be due to the translation. On Rationality: Without experience of the world around us, we would not learn languages. (Why speak if there’s no one to speak to and no one to teach you to speak?) As all reason is language-based, reason is therefore experienced-based, although it can obviously extrapolate and go beyond everyday experience. But it… Read more »

Chuck R
Chuck R
11 years ago

Jeff:
What’s your take on the Akashic field or records?
Possible? Probable? Impossible? Interesting? Useful? Useless?

I just did a brief google-search and I see that people have grabbed this old mystic football and run with it, mixing it into a sort of unified field theory with consciousness as one characteristic of the field. Check this link: http://www.anandavala.info/TASTMOTNOR/The%20Akashic%20Field.html#comments

Is this the direction that you and others on this blog are leaning?

Frank Luke
11 years ago

Chuck, Jeff, re: “We may be the “conscious part of the universe” (possibly not the *only* conscious part – life on other planets?) but that doesn’t inexorably lead to a probability that we are thereby manifesting some sort of universal consciousness.” I’m a believer in the collective conscioiusness of humanity but there needs to be that tipping point reached where most are on the same page. I agree with Chuck that there’s no inexorable probability of reaching universal higher consciousness but I do feel in concord when Ken Wilber asserts in “Sex, Spirituality and Ecology” that the omega point of… Read more »

Frank Luke
11 years ago

Re: credence in the Akashic Records

Yes, it’s hard to conceive of such a record but then there we are with our computer records stored and counting which seems infinite. Can the Akashic Records be akin to that kind of record keepiing?

Liesbeth
Liesbeth
11 years ago

Dear Catherine, I did not yet finish the philosophy of freedom, but I agree with you that Steiner belongs the row of evolutionary writers. He absolutely does write about evolutionary enlightenment (enlightenment as living philosophy) Men has free will. In earlier stages of development men needs example of behavior, rules and imposed morals (given by God). But in higher stages ‘moral behavior comes from within’: ‘moral processes are products from the world, they have their causes in the word, in men’: ‘freedom is not ‘to be able to do whatever one wants’, or follow desires; it is freedom as the… Read more »

Frank Luke
11 years ago

Hi again Chuck, re: “There is quite literally no end to what is *possible.* Are all possibilities to be given equal weight, regardless of their probability? If not, what is the basis for attending to some possibilities while ignoring others?”

Yes, we’re only human with our limitations that may ourstrip our imaginations and aspirations to address even a part of the laundry list of possibilities. But we can certainly pick our battles, should focus on what is more possible or of importance to us personally and do our best to achieve making any headway in tackling those issues. Right?

Chuck R
Chuck R
11 years ago

Frank: You wrote: “Yes, we’re only human with our limitations that may ourstrip our imaginations and aspirations to address even a part of the laundry list of possibilities. But we can certainly pick our battles, should focus on what is more possible or of importance to us personally and do our best to achieve making any headway in tackling those issues. Right?” Correct. My feeble point was that there is an infinity of *possibilities*. Most of them are ridiculously improbable and should be ignored as a waste of time. But if you are given the choice of two premises on… Read more »

Frank Luke
11 years ago

Hi again Chuck, re: “But if you are given the choice of two premises on which to base actions and decisions – we are Spirit (mind, consciousness, etc.) or we are Flesh (animals with a long history of ancestors, evolving slowly through time) – about 95% of the human race finds that a very tough choice. Many of us opt for both in an uneasy balance – and we compartmentalize our opinions and behavior in order to maintain both positions.” Many may hold that concept of body or soul but I believe that by realizing the body houses the soul… Read more »

Chuck R
Chuck R
11 years ago

Frank, and any other “believers”: You wrote: “…the body houses the soul”. Are you implying that the body is a house and “you” – the soul – are an occupant? Can you roam at will around your house? Who picks up the daily paper, you or the house? Seriously, this phrase implies some sort of dualism, despite what you later imply about spiritual awakening and “…sy[n]thesis of body/soul…” “Synthesis” also implies some sort of antecedent thesis and antithesis when then merge to become one, hence again some sort of dualism. Things can’t “become one” unless they were previously “not one”.… Read more »

Frank Luke
11 years ago

Hi again Jeff:

Can you concede there may be attained a synthesis of body/spirit so the two become one and not a duality? Isn’t that what spiritual attainment is?

Jeff Carreira
11 years ago

I can concede that to be possible. I don’t have any expereince of it.

Frank Luke
11 years ago

Hi again, Jeff:

I’m glad with your response that you can be as open to the possibility. It’s possibly like those who have never tasted something and hearing or reading about it and then perhaps someday having the experience themselves. I think some of the others blogging here will concur and that you may someday be able to experience it yourself. It’s the difference of not havng experienced love personally and then bingo! I think you can relate to this, no?

Frank Luke
10 years ago

Hi Chuck, re: “We may be the “conscious part of the universe” (possibly not the *only* conscious part – life on other planets?) but that doesn’t inexorably lead to a probability that we are thereby manifesting some sort of universal consciousness.”

I wonder if you’re taking too narrow a view of humanity’s universal consciousness, personaliziing it rather that seeing the collective force of it? When you do see the big picture, it’s obvious to me that humanity’s collective energy and consciousness can’t help but incarnate evolution’s progress.

Chuck R
Chuck R
10 years ago

Frank:
What, then do YOU mean by “universal consciousness”?

Is each individual human individually thinking (cognizing, demonstrating awareness, etc.) in a universal manner, or are humans (not necessarily all) “tapping into” some sort of “Universal consciousness” that permeates the universe in some unknown manner, or which is an always existing everywhere fundamental characteristic of the universe.[Talk about being abstract!]

Does this universal consciousness exert it’s “collective force” outside of the actions and cognitive processes of humans, whether individually or as a group, communicating and interacting in the usual, cooperative, human manner.

Frank Luke
10 years ago

As Creation is a Web of Being, that web connects all parts of existence to the smallest unit of Being. We are becoming more and more aware of it with our scientists disclosing more and more of the way Nature and Existence operates, totally holistically. This implies that there is communication, whether conveyed in language or whatever signals it takes to communicate between entities including the non-human sentient creatures we share the planet with. In the case of universal consciousness, those signals are collective, accumulated through ages of transmitted info from other humans and Nature. The Internet and TV has… Read more »

Chuck R
Chuck R
10 years ago

Frank: I don’t understand much of what your wrote above, largely because many of your terms carry many meanings and I don’t know which meanings (definitions) you are using for them. Words or phrases such as: creation, web of being, smallest units of Being, Existence, holistically, signals…between entities, universal consciousness, signals are collective, universal consciousness. It seems to me that gravity (as physicists use the word) covers much of your “web of being”-type relations. “Signals are collective”: is this supposed to refer to people speaking the same language, such as English? “Universal Consciousness”: are you saying the Universe itself is… Read more »

Chuck R
Chuck R
10 years ago

Jeff:
You wrote: “What is the book you are readying – it sounds great!”

I would not be shocked to discover that *everyone* on this blog is writing some sort of book or article, so you might want to specify to whom this query was directed.

Frank Luke
10 years ago

Hi Chuck, re: your not understanding the terms

I’m taken aback that you seem not to understand such basic terms being you are a blogger on Enlightenment Next.

May I suggest you bone up online with the terms you don’t understand rather than my trying to give a tutorial here? Get back to me if you have further questions.

Aloha,

Chuck R
Chuck R
10 years ago

Frank: My last comments were more to point out that the terms you use carry *many* meanings. I know what I mean when I use such words, but if I expect someone else to assign them the exact same meanings as I do, I am deluding myself. Thus I was asking you what *you* mean when you use them, partially to point out the highly variable and slippery nature of such highly abstract terms and phrases. I think it is a mistake to toss around such terms blithely. When terminology gets that abstract (distant from concrete, tangible reality) I find… Read more »

Brian
Brian
10 years ago

Really now Chuck, you should put down Hitch-22 and bone up on EnlightenNext lingo. Then you can ponder the meaning of “post post modernity”, “the ground of all being”, and other gems.

Chuck R
Chuck R
10 years ago

Brian: I’m guessing that “Hitch-22” is a reference to Christopher Hitchens (spelling?). Obviously I’ve heard of him but I’ve never read anything by him, although I saw him the other night on “The Daily Show.” He seemed mildly amusing, intelligent, and a bit stiff (formal). Do you recommend reading him? “EnlightenNext lingo.” Wow, you completely lost me on that one. I had absolutely no idea what you were referring to, so I googled it and found “EnlightenNext Magazine”, which I’ve never heard of. When the first google entry began with “Founded in 1988 by spiritual teacher and cultural visionary Andrew… Read more »

Frank Luke
10 years ago

Hey Chuck,

Brian’s said it more succintly what I said. It’s interesting that you aren’t familiar with Enlightenment Next’s mag so that explains your noncomprehension of not only EN’s lingo but standard language of the subject we discuss. I don’t think I put any special meaning to terms other than what is commonly understood.

I think we’ll be able to communicate more productively after you bone up a bit.

Brian
Brian
10 years ago

Uh Chuck, full disclosure is in order. Blogger Jeff is an EnlightenNext employee.