Posted by: David
To understand how we gained consciousness, I like to look to Genesis. One thing to notice is that after we gained ‘consciousness’ by eating the forbidden fruit, we were told that “in pain [women] shall bring forth children.” What’s curious here is that one of the reasons that birthing children is painful is due to infant head size and even most ardent of evolutionary biologists would agree that not always did Homo sp. have big heads. The development of our puffed-up heads most likely correlated closely with our gaining of knowledge.
Now at the same time, it’s important to look at what we know about natural and human history to understand how we gained consciousness. What jumps out at me is fire. In ecology, fire is the beginning of the successional cycle on so many landscapes. In a forest ecosystem, fire clears the way in an old-growth forest habitat and allows for the forest to grow again. Without fire, early successional species wouldn’t exist.
In regards to mankind, there was a point at which we took fire and went with it. How that happened is anyone’s guess, but it was certainly a pivotal point in our history. At that point we learned that we could harness power, which was probably a huge ego-boost. Could it be that harnessing fire was the beginning of our ego itself? Whether fire was the forbidden fruit is not something I know for sure, but the power that we gained from it helped to drive us to where we are today. And most assuredly we now possess the ultimate fire-stick of all—the nuclear bomb. In all of the life history of this planet, if there has been a fiery maelstrom as fierce as mankind, I’d be surprised. But please, don’t let that frighten you. That is my last intention. There’s really nothing to be afraid of in a little bit of nuclear energy. Listen to Bob Marley’s words:
Have no fear for atomic energy
’cause none of them can stop the time
Here Bob was right. The progression of history cannot be stopped and Man the Firestorm will run out of fuel. Thank goodness. Just like with forest succession, this once-upon-a-time firestorm will be a refining fire. Yet again, I’m getting off topic.
So, ‘poof’, we gained consciousness and after consciousness emerged in our species, it sure couldn’t be put back in the box. Our language increased, our knowledge increased. Having babies started being more painful. But what is this knowledge stuff anyway? The information scientist might say, “Oh, it’s just stored information, everything from data to stories and to language itself.” So it is, but how does that connect to what we may have learned about awareness as a force?
Knowledge is simply stored force, or one could say it’s stockpiled awareness. If awareness is a force, then knowledge might just be the K-bomb. Since we store our awareness, visions, perceptions and feelings in a multitude of different forms, this knowledge is just force on the shelf. Try to recall in your memory a time when you ate a picnic lunch on the grass. Take note, your extracting this bit of knowledge off your memory shelf and turning it into a vision and recalling a past period of awareness. It’s now in the near front of your conscious mind. How far to the front the mind depends partly on how powerful that event was to you. If it was a good memory, then you might get motivated and pack up your family and your lunch and go to the nearest park. If it was a bad memory, you’ll make sure you don’t do that again. If it was a good memory, note that the vision ‘pulled’ you to do it again. If it was a bad memory, it ‘pushed’ you away from doing it again.
The Push-Pull of Knowledge
It is important to note that memories may also be irreparably distorted or extremely dim depending on how the mind has shuffled or ignored the information. And not only do we store knowledge in our memories, but as we saw in Part 1, memories can be stored in writings, art, architecture and even the landscape itself. All of these forms of knowledge pull us, compel us and motivate us. They may also push us, drive us away, make us pace back in forth, idle us, or cause us to be couch potatoes (not that relaxing isn’t a good thing).
If knowledge is really a force to be reckoned with, what kind of force is it? Let’s get simple and look at a magnet. If you put a north pole to a south pole they will pull together. If you put like poles together, they’ll push apart. Knowledge is no different than magnetism or any other force for that matter. It’s just more difficult for us to grasp because it’s so intangible. It’s clear that I’m not the first person to say this. Sir Francis Bacon understood this idea centuries ago. Knowledge pushes us and pulls us to various ends, for better or maybe for worse.
In Part 5, we’ll look at how knowledge affects our thoughts and how our thoughts alter reality itself.