The Nature of Consciousess

I recently received a newsletter from an old friend in which he recounts some of the book he is reading in which the author, Ian McGilchrist, quoting Bohm tells us ‘through the human being, the universe has created a mirror to observe itself.’ All of which places the human at the centre or pinnacle of creation once more. Again it is stated in ‘The Matter of Things’ p 1092-3 as delivered by my friend, ‘In Thomas Nagel’s words ‘each of our lives is a part of the gradual process of the universe gradually waking up and becoming aware of itself.’

All very evolutionary and a very egocentric, not to say Bibliocentric, view of creation. It saddens me that these presentations do no more than dress up the same old story in new words. It may be recalled by some that it is this very story of dominance that has brought us to the brink of extinction. With governments supporting the building on nuclear power plants we see the danger of the situation when a madman takes the helm and begins to shell such power stations in his determination to subjugate an independent nation.

But while the world looks on horrified at the devastation done in the name of the Russian people, it was this question of Consciousness that I wished to approach. Science, modern science with a materialistic bent, seems determined to declare that ‘consciousness is a product of the universe’. I choose to take the opposite stance and declare the Universe is the product of Consciosness. Not in the sense that ‘the world is what you make of it’, but in the very real sense that Consciousness, by its nature of reflection, precipitates the Universe which comprises nothing more than Consciousness itself in various states of condensation. That means, not only that you and I are condensed – not to say dense – Consciousness, but also that the entire Universe is Consciousness and thus Conscious.

It is the question of ‘self’ that is the real issue. As individuated Consciousness progresses it loses more and more of its opinions and attachments, while gaining a more and more universal awareness. The birds in the bushes sing out hallo to me in the mornings and I have had many a meaningful conversation with animals and trees. Each has an individual awareness which it happily shares with me regarding its perspective on whatever the issue is we happen to be discussing.

The Yogis claim that ‘mind becomes what it dwells upon’. That is not to suggest that mind builds a house to live in from a thought, but rather that when we look at another our mind begins to adopt the qualities of that thing. This is the principal of reflection. We see this among children who use the phrases of their new best friend, or adopt their mannerisms of speech and action. All part of the socialisation process.

So the Sufis tell us we are like a tree that is upside down in this world, with our roots anchored in Heaven, or the Celestial kingdom, and our branches reaching into the world. Not for nothing did St Peter ask to be crucified upside down. It was the last lesson he could give us.

So please recognise, along with Sir George Trevelyan, that ‘the universe is shot through with living thought’ and that you are but one of these. Not the reason for the universe developing this self-infatuated ape. Each aspect of Creation is aware, humans possibly least of all of these. As I have said elsewhere the age of the monolithic culture is ended, or again that the Bible, not God, is dead. It has served its purpose and now we have outgrown its usefulness. The Fall is ended.

Author: Keith Armstrong

Dance teacher, writer, film-maker, educationalist, enthusiast.