Tag Archives: Consciousness

Diffusing the K-Bomb (part 6)

Posted by: David

Practically-speaking, I’m not sure if the K-bomb can be diffused. Turret lathe operator machining parts for transport planes at the Consolidated Aircraft Corporation plant, Fort Worth, Texas, USA.But when it explodes, you don’t need to be destroyed by it. We’ve all already been hurt by it. It’s been sputtering like a pot of rice left on high for quite sometime. Let’s define the K-bomb a bit better before we look into how to deal with it.

In Part 3, we saw that knowledge is a force and make no mistake it is a powerful one at that, more powerful than anything human hands have made. Knowledge parades itself around as truth, but it is not. Knowledge is our human projection of what is truth. We tangle our own perceptions of truth, our own choices of what we think truth is into our knowledge. And because of this, our knowledge becomes tainted. It is no longer truth. And since knowledge is paraded around as truth when it is not, it becomes a lie.

Lies are always self-detonating. My lies have come back and exploded in my face. That’s the way lies work. Remember the fire triangle: heat, oxygen and fuel. Lies work the same: heat, untruth and truth. Just add a spark.

In Part 5, I said that thoughts can be packed tightly in rationalizations or even social systems. I should be a bit clearer on a topic as important as this, because thoughts are what K-bomb is composed of.

The warrior must justify his actions. Every human is a natural warrior. We are warriors in defense of our egos. We must keep our ‘self’ alive and strong. It’s all about me, right? Some of us fight with actual physical means: fists, guns, swords, and bombs. But most of us fight with words, ideas and thoughts. In our local circles, we may cut emotional supplies that feed our friends and family to combat a hit taken from others. Toward outside circles, we develop cliquish techniques, social standard, religions and massive governmental and economic structures that are meant to protect our local and collective egos. And we have been doing this since day one when our consciousness first sprouted.

Clear as Mississippi mud, right? The point is that we justify the thoughts that disturb our consciousness by in various ways. I really don’t want to get into examples of how this happens. When you have a thought that disturbs you, see how you justify it or what you do with it. But when we justify these thoughts, we shove it places: maybe into an ideology, a political platform, a concept of what is socially normal, or the simple philosophy that says, “Well, I can’t do anything about it, so let it be.” Every philosophy, human social system and human government is a structure meant to contain and support the K-Bomb.

How do you diffuse the K-bomb if we can’t use psychoanalytical techniques, drugs, friends, society, philosophy, or even religion for that matter? It may seem like your hands are tied. This is the ultimate dilemma of mankind. It’s the Catch-22 of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. And the dominoes have been unstoppable since the first flick.

As a Christian, I believe that the K-bomb is why Jesus came to the earth. He was the ultimate intervention for this problem. He came to transform us with God’s love, truth and mercy. Jesus lays some diffusion techniques out as clear as a bell in the Sermon on the Mount.

But since you may not be a Christian, it is essential that I explain the concept behind it. Basically, our internal lives are essentially no different than our external lives. The only difference is that our will is inside us, not external to us. Out of the will come our choices and our choices are manefested in our reality. What begins inside us manifests itself outside of us. The force we talked about in Part 2 is initiated by the will and the dominoes begin with the flick of our will and fall outward. Because our will is burdened with weight of consciousness (the knowledge of “good and evil”) we become slaves to that consciousness. How exactly we become slaves is not something I completely understand. I can only see the results in my life to know that it’s happening. It may be that since we understand that evil exists and we inherently fear being destroyed by it, we develop means to protect the self or the ego. Ironically, in doing so, we bind ourselves to that process indefinitely. We become slaves to production of the K-bomb.

So, how do we get free from banging on the ironworks of the K-bomb? The species of man had to be set free from this. We were all bound. No one had the key. It had to be an outside intervention. Of course, as a Christian, I point to Jesus.

Be Thou my vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art.
Thou my best thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

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Manifestations of the Mind (part 5)

Posted by: David

What’s important for all of us to understand is this: our thoughts are a force that not only affect our sphere of influence, but they also affect reality itself. Before you press the ‘X’ on your browser window, please give me a chance to explain.

We all have a sphere of influence and this may be limited to what our hands can do. We can use our hands to paint a pretty picture for someone to enjoy or use our hands and arms to give someone a hug to make them feel cozy. Our bodies do these things through the instructions of our mind.

The Mind’s Eye

What is the mind? The mind is the ‘seeing’ and ‘visualizing’ that is akin to our actual bodily senses. The mind’s thoughts are a tapestry of  senses, feelings, memories, knowledge and logic.

Before I decide to give someone a hug, my mind consciously or unconsciously envisions giving someone a hug. Something in me decides whether to go through with that action. If I act upon the mind’s vision, the person gets the hug. This is a simple example of how reality itself is changed by a simple vision or a thought.

But does reality change if we simply think about something? Okay, we might not be able lift an X-wing fighter out of the swamp like Luke did. But what we think about affects our perceptions of our world. It affects our awareness. Our thoughts are reordered and a new landscape is burnt into our mind. This affects who we are, physically as well as mentally, and it changes the way we evaluate and make decisions. It affects our perceptions of the world. Our mind is active much of our days and some of the night. Our thoughts are continually shifted and reordered and a new community of neurons is established in our head. Our relationships with others change. Our work habits can change. And this can be a vicious cycle, depending on where we are grounded. If we are grounded, our mind’s landscape tends to stay relatively stable. These thoughts, whether grounded or not, drive us through our own personal and collective histories. And don’t think it tumble us haphazardly through time. It drives us toward the visions of our minds, individually as well as collectively. It drives us towards the reality that we focus on. If I were to choose one word that defines what most of us focus on it would be: “me.”

In some cases, we have choice on which of varied subjects we dwell. In other cases, we seem to have no choice on the matter whatsoever. But even in those cases, in the most extreme examples, where someone might be ‘tortured’ with obsessive thoughts, we still have choices. We will always have choices in our lives.

I’ll take the extreme example of being ‘tortured’ with obsessive thoughts. It’s extreme, but it’s probably common in degrees to most of us at times in our lives. It is at these times that we cycle thoughts through our head. Over and over these thoughts resurface. We may try to push them back into the recesses. Even though we may not have a choice whether these thoughts pop-up into our minds, we do have a choice how we interact with them. We can hate them, push them away or get angry at them. We may also try to neuter them through reason. But none of these approaches really do any good. On the other hand, we can look them straight in the eyes and see them for what they really are. We can look at them with honesty, repentance, compassion, mercy and love. If we learn to look in these ways to our innermost thoughts, we will simultaneously learn to look at tangible people and circumstances in this way.  I know, easier said than done. I’ve been there. But the important point is that these thoughts are a force and they affect us and our reality. And we can look back at them with the force of truth and love.

Thoughts can be both scary and alluring (push and pull) and they must not be allowed to control our will. They will be in our head all of our lives, but we must make the choice how we deal with them. We must be active participants in our inward and outward lives.

A Choppy Inner Sea

In looking back at my life, I notice that most of my conscious moments have been filled with varied thoughts fading in and out of view much the surface of a choppy sea. The only times that I have not had that sea of thoughts was when I was engaged in some extremely difficult mental enterprise, such as computer programming or some other intense focus From talking to others over the years, I find that they are no different than I.

And please don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that we should try to control or stop this plague of thoughts. That’s what people consciously and subconsciously try to do with food, alcohol, drugs, sex, work, escapism, exercise, distractions and other methods. They use these techniques to block the choppy sea of visions and thoughts that is so difficult for many to deal with. They are trying to cope as best as possible. Of course, as we see time and time again, these approaches mostly just exacerbate the problems. Too often, the plaguing images and thoughts within the mind only get worse with the rational and irrational fixes that we apply. Or they may subside and emerge again at a later date, or transform into something different but equally difficult to deal with. This is a common human predicament and I believe common to the entire human race. Pure and simple, it is an effect of our consciousness.

The Dilemma of Repricocity

Let’s look at Newton’s third law of motion: “To every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.” What was placed in motion at the very onset of our becoming conscious beings has plagued every last one of us, because it has been a chain of events, just like Newton’s third law describes. So, when you have a disturbing thought or someone causes you pain in your life, if you fight back, your reciprocation will just cause the dominoes to continue to fall. Likewise, if you just build a castle wall around your emotions, psyche or body, you will just cause others to build bigger walls around there’s and so on. The other option would be to rationalize the pain. And that’s probably the worst thing you can do. That traps the pain into ideas, thoughts, words and writings. This is the true K-bomb of Part 4. The pain is packed densely into a mental or social algorithm. It’s packed so tight that one day it will explode, and maybe not in your lifetime. In Part 6 we will look at how to diffuse the K-bomb.

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The K-Bomb (part 4)

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.

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The Tree of Consciousness Sprouts (part 3)

Posted by: David

Nurse Piggy: It’s too late, Dr. Bob. We’ve lost him.
Doctor Bob: Well, he couldn’t have gone so far. He was under the sheet just a second ago.

We all know that Miss Piggy and Doctor Bob (a.k.a. Rowlf the Dog) didn’t really have awareness or consciousness, but their puppeteers certainly made you laugh. What is laughter anyway and are there any other species capable of it? Laughter is most likely special to us because of our consciousness. In most cases, laughter is a spontaneous reaction when our morality or our sense understanding of the world is tested. I think the reason the Muppets’ joke above is so funny to me is because Doctor Bob and Nurse Piggy or so dismally aware of the concept of death and dying. They take death so lightly that they can make a bad joke about the death of a patient. Why does it make me laugh? You’re more than welcome to analyze my psyche if you’d like. I expect that it simply jars my subconscious understanding of right and wrong.

In bringing up the loaded word consciousness, I’ll begin by explaining my usage. I am not using it in a sense such as, “He lost consciousness.” I am using it in the sense that implies having some level of understanding of right and wrong such as, “It was his consciousness that made him a crusader for justice.” Consciousness in this usage implies that there is a complex awareness of the morality of an event or an action.

Previously in Re: Salvation, I implied that there is a curious co-dependence between freewill and justice. Without justice there is no need for freewill and without freewill there would be no need for justice. The same thing applies to consciousness. The existence of morality depends on the existence of  ‘someone’ who can make a choice in the matter. Without morality there would be no need for choices and vice versa. When we make choices, we are basing those choices on some sort of system of value judgments of what we think is right and wrong. Consciousness is simply an awareness of what is right and what is wrong. (Interestingly, In Genesis the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil is sometimes translated as the Tree of Consciousness.) Without knowledge of what is right and wrong, humans would still be aware of our surroundings and relationships, but would we have consciousness? Interestingly, Eden was a place where man had choices, yet didn’t have the knowledge of what is right and wrong. It wasn’t that right and wrong didn’t exist, mankind just didn’t know about it.

Most of us would agree, except the deeply antisocial personality or philosophical word-smither, that there exists some sort of right and wrong in our world and that we make choices based both on a deeply-ingrained sense of morality or common sense as well as a socially-constructed criteria of social ethics. And not always do we make the right choices. Sometimes we clearly, stubbornly or brutally make the wrong choice. Anyone who can look at one’s actions even partially objectively will see that sometimes we do what we sense is wrong, usually for our own selfish desires. But let’s not go here yet, the point is that consciousness depends on knowledge of right and wrong.

I doubt that a dog has the form of consciousness outlined above. He knows that if he wags his tail and is cute, he’ll get a dog biscuit or that he’ll have a warm house to curl up in. He’ll probably even have specific affections toward certain people for complex reasons, but I doubt that he understands the ‘Golden Rule’ like we do.

It seems to me like a shot in the dark to guess whether planets or other grander scale systems have consciousness. Most would say that shot is easy and is an unequivocal, “No, don’t be absurd.” I will say that they do not seem to have much choice in their motions, and thus even if they have an awareness, applying consciousness to them is a bit far-fetched. They follow extremely precise patterns and have been so for a long, long time. Even larger-scale systems, such as galaxies, have such beautifully-defined and mathematical structures and they seem to follow very closely to a pattern. Following defined patterns, would seem to indicate a lack of consciousness since the pattern’s lack variation. A lack of variation in pattern may demonstrate the inability to choose. However, one could argue that they do have choice, but they always choose to follow the pattern defined for them. But again, let’s not get sidetracked.

For some reason, we are special organisms in the universe so far as I can see. We seem to have a grasp of right and wrong and have a choice in the matter. Most of us feel a sense of right and wrong. Some would argue that this sense of justice is just complex reactionary forces that are no different than that of a dog. I beg to differ. No pun intended. I believe that we do have consciousness and there was a particular point in our history in which we became enlightened for better or worse. And this particular point was actually the beginning of History.

This moment was also very important because it marked the point when we began building our own tree of knowledge. One intriguing part of consciousness is how it relates to knowledge. If we didn’t have knowledge in the first place, we wouldn’t be able to store up understanding of right and wrong. In Part 4, we’ll build on the first three parts in this series as we look at how knowledge relates to consciousness, memory and forces.

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Memory – Beyond the Individual (part 1)

Posted by: David

A biologist friend of mine once explained how he thought birds were able to migrate so far and so very precisely each year. He not only thought that landscape features actually triggered their memories, but he also thought that the landscape itself held the part of the memories of the birds. How is that possible?

First, we must understand that no individual in any species is an independent agent. Each individual is a part of a community, a collection of individuals. They are also intricately related to their food sources, their predators and environmental characteristics. Even the minerals, rocks and atmosphere are in many ways part of that individual. Or it might be better to say that each individual is a part of a greater living community. This biologist was saying the same thing for memory in birds. Memory is not only stored in neurons, but also in chemical, auditory and visual triggers outside the brain. Those triggers might be other organisms, or even landscape objects, such as the coastline or Mount Shasta. Even though a hummingbird has a brain the size of a pea, it can migrate precisely to the correct location each year, simply because a hummingbird’s brain is not the size of a pea, it is the size of all of its memory triggers, which may indeed include the landscape itself.

An example of this would be your right hand. By itself, it would have no idea how to get back to your mouth with a second bite of food, but in conjunction with your arm, mouth, body, eyes and brain it can make that motion quite easily. You might argue that hummingbirds aren’t like your hand, because a hand doesn’t have a brain the size of a pea, and that a hummingbird is more like red blood cells going out and returning to the heart. Like a red blood cell, a bird travels a defined pattern and there’s no real memory occurring there. Okay, that comparison may be correct. However, rather than not being memory at all, the memory that a hummingbird employs may just a more primitive form of our own.

Primitive Memories vs. Complex Memories

Humans may also have memories much like hummingbirds. Primitive memory types allow us to do our daily tasks. You don’t have to think too much to remember how to walk or ride a bike. Understanding how these simple memories work may help us understand how less complex organisms remember how to do things.

In humans, highly complex memories may have their triggers stored in the intangible, such as words and sounds, or in the tangible, such as places, people or smells. These triggers can alert in our minds complex scenes, visions and thoughts that in no way relate to our present location. They can be as powerful and vivid as a post-traumatic stress syndrome event or an hallucination in which the person cannot differentiate his physical surrounding from the memory.

But this still doesn’t explain what memory is. Above, I spoke of triggers. You smell a certain type of cooking and you are flooded with a memory in a great aunt’s kitchen years before. Or a hummingbird sees the coastline and adjusts its wings to the left. How are these triggers activating memories? Could it be that inside the brain, there are just great arrays of triggers upon triggers conjuring up a memory? Sort of. Here’s an example.

A Mountain of Triggers

Let’s say you’re looking at a view from a mountaintop. The colors come into your eyes and excite a particular set of neurons. Simultaneously, the wind and temperature of the air excite a particular set of neurons. You see and feel the beautiful landscape. You might even have a particular emotion going on because of someone you’re thinking about. Now you use your camera and take a picture of that scene and go home. The next day, you look at the picture and the various cues in the picture trigger a chain reaction of neurons in your brain. The same or similar set of neuron is activated giving you the vision of the mountaintop scene. Now that this particular community or relationship of cells is activated again, the relationships of cells are reformed, the memory is ‘burned in’. The next time you look at the picture, the community of cells will be activated through a cascade of triggers, and there you have it, you see and feel the scene from the previous day.

If this is all true, then we may be gaining a dim understand of what memories are. Memories may simply be complex communities of triggers. And, what’s interesting to me is that the relationships between those triggers may extend beyond the local individual that is experiencing memory. Our memories might literally be in a photograph.

Now You See It, Now You Don’t

One important question begs to be answered. This is the whole consciousness/awareness issue. How does our mind’s eye work? We may be able to have memories, but how did we see them in the first place and in the second place? It’s probably just magic, right? I expect not, I don’t particularly believe in magic. Magic is just an illusion. We live in an orderly universe. We may not comprehend that order, but it has a particular order. Magic is what tricksters do.

I suppose I’ll get into the whole awareness/consciousness thing in Part 2.

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