What is Consciousness
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 160,000 times in 2013. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 7 days for that many people to see it. My blog post titled “What is Life – Life is Knowledge in Action” has attracted the most number of views.
- Spiritualism – the Biological Basis of Spirituality (bhavanajagat.com)
- Spiritualism – Spiritual Being and Self-realization (bhavanajagat.com)
- Spiritualism – the Cell Theory of Spirituality (bhavanajagat.com)
- Spiritualism – Self-realization and God-realization (bhavanajagat.com)
- Spiritualism – the Molecular Basis of Spirituality (bhavanajagat.com)
- Spiritualism – the Positive Science of Spirituality (bhavanajagat.com)
- Spiritualism and Identity – the Conflict at Kurnool Medical College (bhavanajagat.com)
IRATE MOTHER SQUIRREL ATTACKED A VISITING TEACHER ON UNIVERSITY CAMPUS :
The Ann Arbor News has reported this story about a mother squirrel’s angry attack. A 52-year-old Detroit Public School teacher was with a group of students touring the University of Michigan campus in Ann Arbor on Thursday, April 23. She had spotted some baby squirrels that were outside of their nest. The teacher had tried to alert the mother squirrel that was at a distance about a baby squirrel that was left behind. The mother squirrel could instantly recognize that the teacher was giving unwanted attention to her baby. The mother squirrel was instinctively aroused, turned on the teacher. The teacher tried to run away from the angry mother squirrel. She slipped and fell on the ground and injured her ankle. Seizing the opportunity, the mother squirrel bit the teacher on her leg. The teacher managed to escape and went to the Hospital Emergency for treatment.
PARENTAL CARE IS AN INSTINCTIVE BEHAVIOR :
Parental care is an aspect of social behavior exhibited by all animals. This is a complex unlearned or innate behavior that is influenced by heredity(genetic basis) as well as by experience. The study of behavior provides valuable information about relationships among animals. No animal is ever completely isolated from some kind of environment. Animals exhibit social behaviors and form parental societies to care for their offspring. This parental care/maternal instinctive behavior is highly organized amongst mammals. The young are part of the mother while growing inside the mother and are nourished before birth by the ‘placenta’ of the mother. After birth, the young still seek nourishment from the mother and suck or lap milk produced by the mammary glands of the mother. This ensures that there is a strong family association between mother and the offspring.
BEHAVIOR AND CONSCIOUSNESS :
The mother squirrel while displaying its maternal instinctive behavior has demonstrated that it is a ‘CONSCIOUS’ entity. Consciousness is defined as the state of being ‘conscious’ which has two components. 1. Being ‘conscious’ means being aware or recognizing the fact of one’s own existence. 2. Being ‘conscious’ also means being aware of our natural environment and it represents the state of knowing what goes on around one. Being conscious gives us the ability to interact with our environment and display an appropriate behavior. In higher animals this consciousness or awareness is also characterized by the presence of mental activity which includes an awareness of our own thoughts and emotions. A living entity is always conscious of its own existence. A living entity always exists in a state of consciousness. We identify a person as ‘UNCONSCIOUS‘ if the person is not spontaneously interacting with his environment. There are several medical conditions that alter and affect our state of consciousness. Several drugs and intoxicants such as alcohol and poisonous agents like carbon monoxide, and carbon dioxide cause drowsiness, stupor, and various levels of semiconscious to deep unconsciousness. Consciousness is very important in evaluating people with head injuries and neurovascular accidents such as ‘stroke’. While a person is unconscious of his environment, he is still aware of his existence. This fact could be easily demonstrated by conducting tests. A living organism or a living cell responds when exposed to a stimulus. For example, an unconscious individual is evaluated by testing to see the response of the pupil of the eye which reacts by constriction of its size on exposure to a light beam.
CONSCIOUSNESS AND SURVIVAL :
An organism uses its awareness to survive in the environment. I could illustrate this by narrating my personal experience. While I was camping in the Himalayas, We were using the quarters left by the British while they ruled India. On a cold winter night, I was sleeping in a small room that was not heated, and the room had no fire-place or a chimney. However, I had used a coal burner to heat the room. The coal burns very slowly giving heat and it lasts for several hours and needs no attention. On that particular night, I did not recognize, the coal was of poor quality and it was not burning as expected and was giving away smoke. The door and the windows were shut, and the smoke started filling up the room. The smoke is lighter than the room air, and it slowly went up filling the room from top. While I was fully asleep in a dark room, unaware as to what was going on around me, I was suddenly alerted when I experienced ‘palpitation’, a consciousness of my heart’s rapid beating. I awoke, but still could not see the smoke in the dark room. I had evaluated my condition to understand my rapid heart rate. I was in good health and there was no reason to experience an increased heart rate. I had decided to investigate my problem and walked up to the door to turn the light switch on. The moment I had turned the light on, I could immediately see the smoke-filled room and the fresh, clear layer of room air was below my bed level. I immediately left the room to get fresh air from outside and saved my life. Many people are not that fortunate, and we read about entire families losing their lives while sleeping in rooms that are heated by improper burners. I was not conscious of what was going on around me while I was sleeping. However, my body was aware and conscious all the time. The chemical sensors in my body worked alright, they sent signals to my brain centers, which in turn sent signals to increase my heart rate to improve the oxygen delivery. It fortunately worked like an alarm for me. Very often, people become more drowsy, become fully unconscious, and lose life while asleep in smoke-filled rooms.
THE SQUIRREL IN THE STORY OF RAMAYANA :
Just like the mother squirrel in Ann Arbor which demonstrated its consciousness, in the epic poem of ‘RAMAYANA’, the awareness and the behavioral response of a squirrel is described. The story narrates the construction of what is popularly known as “SETHU” or a bridge across the sea from the southern shores of Indian peninsula to the island of LANKA. The squirrel was apparently conscious of its environment. It had observed the activities of thousands of monkeys throwing stones to build the ‘ADAM’S BRIDGE’, and recognized the presence of LORD Rama who had initiated the effort to build the bridge. The squirrel had volunteered to help and in its behavior it showed attributes of devoted service. The abilities of the squirrel are very small and yet it won the favor of the LORD and is blessed. The LORD is pleased with the squirrel’s conscious efforts to offer devoted service.
CONSCIOUSNESS AND ENERGY :
The living human entity or man is known as “NARA” in the Sanskrit language, and the superior energy is personified and is known by the name “NARAYANA”. The poem of ‘BHAGAVAD GITA'( The Divine Song) narrates the dialogue between ‘Nara’ known as prince ARJUNA and ‘Narayana’ known as LORD KRISHNA. The LORD describes the relationship between the human soul( ATMA) and the divine soul( PARAMATMA). In Chapter 7 which is called ‘PARAMAHAMSA VIJNANA YOGA'( The Knowledge of the Ultimate Truth), verse 5 describes the ‘energy’ relationships. The material nature which is composed of sky, earth, air , water, and fire are constituted of ‘inferior energy’ of the LORD. The superior energy of the LORD is manifested as the embodied soul of all living entities. This superior energy of the LORD which is in the living entities gives the ability to the living entities to exist in the world by exploiting the inferior material energy from nature.
THE ENERGY PROVIDER AND THE ENERGY SEEKER :
Humans like other living entities supports his existence by deriving energy from the environment. Living cells obtain nutrients such as sugars and use oxygen in their metabolism to generate energy to carry out their vital biological functions. The primary source of energy of all living entities on planet Earth is derived from Sun. The Sun provides energy by burning its hydrogen fuel. It is reasonable to assume that Sun has derived its energy from a higher source of energy or “Higher Power”. This is evidenced by the observation of stars in various stages of their natural cycles of birth , and death. We can observe the birth of stars, the stars that are existing for a long time, the dying stars, the spectacular supernovas, and the dead stars like the white dwarfs, and the brown dwarfs. Human consciousness brings us the awareness and sustains the connection between the energy provider and the energy seeker. We manifest our existence with this unique ability to gain energy from the environment. Just like the squirrel in the story of Ramayana, if we use our awareness, we will become ‘CONSCIOUS’ of LORD’s presence whose superior energy we manifest.
Please also view related blog post titled ‘I am consciousness, therefore I am’.
Dr. R. Rudra Narasimham, B.Sc., M.B.B.S.,
Kurnool Medical College, Kurnool, Andhra Pradesh, India,
M.B.B.S., Class of April, 1970.
SARTRE, JEAN-PAUL(b. JUNE 21, 1905, PARIS – d. APRIL 15, 1980, PARIS) FRENCH NOVELIST, PLAYWRIGHT, AND EXPONENT OF EXISTENTIALISM
MAN IS BORN FREE :
The Christian idea of freedom is based in the concept of man as the image of God. The Holy Bible, The Old Testament, The First Book of Moses called Genesis in chapter 1, verse 26 says : Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness;”
Man is a person because God is a person. The real sign of God as personal being is freedom. When God created man according to His image, He also gave over to him this mark of nobility i.e ., freedom.
FREEDOM IS BASED ON KNOWLEDGE :
German philosopher, Friedrich Hegel(1770-1831) viewed the whole of human history as a vast dialectical movement toward the realization of freedom. All of history is the progress of mind or spirit along a logically necessary path that leads to freedom. Human beings are manifestations of this universal mind, although at first they do not realize this. Freedom can not be achieved until human beings do realize it, and so feel at home in the universe. Hence, Hagel claimed that freedom is based on knowledge.
THE RADICAL FREEDOM OF ” BEING AND NOTHINGNESS” :
Existentialism is the popular name of a philosophical focus on human freedom, personal responsibility, and the importance of the individual’s need to make choices. Sartre’s book “Being and Nothingness”(1943) is considered to be one of the best philosophical work of the 20th century. Sartre’s central thesis is that humans are essentially free, free to choose( though Not free Not to choose) and free to negate the given features of the world. Sartre’s driving belief was in human freedom, the ability to choose not only a course of action but also what one would become. If man is truly free, the world, whether material or social, can place no constraints on him, not even to the extent of determining what would or would not be good reasons for following a given course of action.
Sartre focused on the opposition between objective things and human consciousness. Human consciousness is a non-thing as its reality consists in standing back from things and taking a point of view on them. Because consciousness is a non-thing(Sartre’s “neant” literally means “nothingness”), it does not have any of the causal involvements that things have with other things. This means that consciousness and thus humans themselves are essentially free. Ironically, the freedom of human consciousness is experienced by humans as a burden. “Man is condemned to be free”.
The existentialist emphasis on the ultimacy of human freedom continues to represent an essential ingredient of philosophical thinking.
INDIAN TRADITION AND HUMAN FREEDOM :
Who or what is the subject who lives because of the functions of trillions of cells that comprise the human organism? How to describe the identity of this individual who is truly a multicellular organism? While describing man’s identity, Indian Tradition points out the problem of Subjective-Objective dualism. The man who is born is the Subject and the man who is unborn is the Object. Indian thinkers had proposed that man is an embodied soul; the physical body experiences birth, growth, old age, sickness, and death while the soul is eternal, it is unborn and it never dies. Man as a subjective individual exists as a physical being, mental being, social being, moral being, and a spiritual being. The subjective reality of man’s physical or material existence is conditioned by his physical, mental, social, moral, and spiritual well-being. Man can seek to exist with a total sense of freedom in his thoughts but the thoughts exist while they are supported by a material being with a physical body and mind. The fact that the man is born binds him into a state of conditioned existence and the experience of freedom is a subjective experience.
In the epic poem of RAMAYANA, which describes the life journey of Prince Ramachandra of Ayodhya Kingdom, the Book of Ayodhya Kanda, chapters X IV to X VIII describe the anguish of King Dasaratha, the ruler of Ayodhya Kingdom. King Dasaratha was the father of Prince Ramachandra. He was in extreme agony as he had failed to act to express his natural affection to his son. The Emperor was tied down by the traditions of SATYA(Truth) and DHARMA(Right Conduct), was totally helpless and could not display any sense of freedom. King Dasaratha was a moral being and this identity of a moral being would not allow him the freedom to act as a social being and express love and affection to his son. King Dasaratha had ordered his son to live in a forest and then urged his son to disobey his order to fulfil his duty to show his sense of filial affection. Prince Ramachandra claimed that He was not free to act in disobedience of His father’s command and stated that He can not make any choice other than that of choosing a life in exile. Man who is experiencing the subjective reality of conditioned existence has no real freedom.
This inexplicable and unexpected act that resulted in the banishment of Prince Ramachandra is described as a work of ‘FATE’. In Sanskrit literature, “DAIVAM” means fate. It conveys the sense of belief in God as the ‘PRIME CAUSE’. Since God is in control, man is not free to act as he pleases. Since man is tied down, he is born in shackles without freedom. The goal of man is to seek “RELEASE” which is described as “MUKTI” and the purpose of human life is described as “LIBERATION” which is named as “MOKSHA”.
ESSENCE AND EXISTENCE :
Man describes as to who he is, his nature, and his essence, with the help of his thoughts, his intellect, his knowledge, his feelings, his sense of self-pride or self-ego, and his social status and social position. However, this essence is not the basis for man’s existence in nature. Man can not sustain his biological existence because of his essence. Man is not an independent entity. Man leads a dependent existence. The reality of man’s existence is a conditioned experience. Without this reality of conditioned state of existence, man can not describe his essence. Existence precedes essence. Existence is the prerequisite for essence to manifest. The essence is manifested by the being, the material body with mind, thoughts, intellect, knowledge, feelings, and self-pride or self-ego. This material being need to exist, and the state or condition of this physical existence is biologically manifested as alertness, wakefulness, awareness, and consciousness. Consciousness or Nothingness is the prerequisite for essence, and for the physical existence of the material Being. When consciousness departs, the essence also gets dissolved. If man enjoys a sense of freedom and expresses it as his essence, this freedom is subject to the reality of conditioned subjective existence. Man, and his essence is displayed if it is accompanied by Nothingness, the biological function called the capacity for consciousness. The contents of consciousness describe the nature of man’s essence. The contents of consciousness are known only when man has the capacity for consciousness. The anatomical structure that performs the function to provide the ability or the capacity for consciousness is in the Reticular Formation of the Brain Stem. Man is aware of his essence when the functions of his Brain Stem exist. Brain Stem functions in an autonomous manner and man is not truly free to govern the functions of his Brain Stem which is the prerequisite for his physical and mental being to maintain its living functions, the state and the condition called Living.
THE OBJECTIVE REALITY OF MAN’S EXISTENCE :
Indian Tradition suggests that the mind and body which represent the material human person is in reality an illusion named as ‘MAYA’. The real identity of man is described by an eternal and unchanging reality that is unborn and hence is not subject to birth or death.
Please also view the page titled ‘I am Consciousness, therefore I am”
Dr. R. Rudra Narasimham,
Kurnool Medical College, Kurnool, Andhra Pradesh, India,
M.B.B.S., Class of April, 1970.