Consciousness or Spirit?
(This essay can be read on its own but will make more sense if read following the background work on a life-force conception of consciousness in my essays section here..www.leonsouthgate.com).
Common definitions of consciousness include aspects of perception, awareness, cognition, thoughts, self-awareness and so on. As with the view of the perceiving self as the ‘ghost’ in the ‘machine’ of the body, consciousness is seen as something that can have a separate existence to the body or more widely speaking, to the environment. However, in the last essay in this series I explored how the physical universe can be seen in three levels – Level 3 – the digital, material existence of matter which is transcended by Level 2 – the analogue, energetic existence of life-energy which in turn is transcended by Level 1 – the physical but timeless, energy-less, conscious existence of a spirit-force. We argued that as all three levels intercommunicate they must fundamentally be of the same essence. Further, as Level 3 depends on Level 2 and Level 2 on Level 1 the ultimate nature, or reality of things is described by Level 1 phenomena – a spirit-force. (However, I still view Level 1 and 2 as real but in a different, more casual sense).
I define ‘spirit’ somewhat differently than some might – seeing an infinite force-field that is physical but not made of matter. In fact I also define consciousness as physical (but again not necessarily material) because consciousness cannot exist without a ‘body’. Let’s say a person has shuffled off his mortal coil and has no material body. This person, it would not be unreasonable to surmise might still have awareness of their own perceiving self (near-death and reincarnation studies would support this view, see 'The Field' for good synopsis). Let us just say that this person is completely free of any environment of which to perceive, if this person still exists it would have some awareness of itself, however dim. So this materially disembodied point-of-perception senses to some degree its own perceiving self. These perceptions have a degree of lawfulness and continuity because of the continuity of the perceiving self. Therefore even an entity alone, without a material body would create a ‘body’ of some sort due merely to its own existence. Therefore pure 'consciousness' cannot exist separate from a body. It follows that the two existences, body and consciousness are in fact the same thing. A conscious body is another way of saying a physical ‘spirit’ or as I prefer to call it a ‘spirit-force’ or ‘life-force’ (the latter term I define a little more exactly as a physical, conscious spirit which can give rise to life-energy which in turn gives rise to matter and living matter). The upshot of this is it is meaningless to talk about consciousness as if it exists separate to ‘body’ (I define body in the wider sense as an environment). So the further implication is that ‘pure’ consciousness is, as has been argued by many, impossible to define or talk usefully about. This is because it is an incomplete definition (as are perhaps all definitions but that is another argument). Anyway, a spirit-force is I believe a useful description. It is testable, allowing of scientific investigation and conforms to what we experience in the real world, especially now that materialism is widely discredited.
There are many examples that indicate we need a new paradigm. We have evidence that consciousness directly affects the material world (Random Event Generation, Quantum phenomena, Psi-Studies and so on) but we also know that the dualistic ‘Ghost’ (mind) driving the ‘Machine’ (body) is unworkable as what can possibly connect the two? (We are either all ‘Ghost’ or all ‘Machine’). But this model explains what we actually experience and feel to be true. Sometimes when the ‘mind’ (Level 1 phenomena) is overt enough we can see it directly affects matter (Level 3 phenomena). Or in other words, ‘mind’ (Level 1) is so strong it has bypassed the Level 2 phenomena of energetic interactions to directly move matter or Level 3 phenomena. So this would explain the miraculous cures, the shamans who appear to move matter with their minds and the placebo effect. It would also explain why we can’t all do it consistently at the present (it’s hard for Level 1 phenomena to break through directly into Level 3 phenomena). This model would also explain why when more people gather together (higher levels of Level 2 phenomena – energy/life-energy) there is in turn ‘higher’ levels of ‘consciousness’ (Level 1 phenomena). Level 2 phenomena (energy/life-energy) enables closer interaction with the spirit/consciousness that lies directly below it. Examples of this can be found when a group meditates or prays together, in energetically aligned buildings, when strong emotions ripple through a football crowd, or when world events take a REG machine out of random computation.
So to conclude, it appears that there is no such thing as a pure disembodied consciousness but that there is ultimately only a physical spirit-force and its temporary variants, energy and matter. The reason I believe this is important is scientific. The possible existence of a conscious spirit-force can be directly investigated.
(The above picture by Henri Rousseau, my favourite artist, captures some of the identity of spirit and body. Incidentally, not sure if it is just me but not many people have noticed that there are the 'ghosts' of faces in the water jug on the right hand side of the picture-its not easy to see them).