What things mean.

We attribute meanings to the things in our life based on what motivates us. And we’re motivated by what we think we are. I’ll clarify those concepts later on, but first I want to make it clear that our ability to think about what we are doesn’t require us to have free will in the truest sense. Just as well, because none of us actually has it. Our ‘free’ will is a manufactured product of our circumstances. You don’t choose to be what and who you are, or even what you do. Those things are all decided for you.

From the day you’re born, you’re trapped inside a body designed by genes over many millions of years for one purpose only: to ensure those genes get copied and reproduced.  All the major decisions about what you are physically have already been made by that process.

What about who you are? The non-physical stuff? Your thoughts, memories, ideas, opinions, fears, hopes, dreams, aspirations and so on?  Obviously those all arise from your conviction that you’re a physical body in a physical world. They’re also a result of what your body and brain, were designed for, the way they were designed, and the materials used.  All of those factors have a near total influence on the subconscious parts of your mind, and thus the way you think and feel – about everything.

In other words, all of your thoughts, memories, ideas, opinions, fears, hopes, dreams, aspirations and so on, are the result of genes and their blind, mindless efforts to get themselves copied and reproduced.  Mindless, that is, until you came along believing you were the body, brain and mind that genes built, for themselves. (And it took you a couple of million years to even figure out what genes are and how they work.)

Because your thoughts, memories, ideas, fears, hopes, dreams, aspirations and the rest are all concocted in a brain built by many millions of years of genetic replication and reproduction, you’re now stuck in a designer reality, built by genes for genes. But you think of it as your human reality. Human society, like all other organism societies, is a product of the conviction that being in a physical body is the way things are meant to be, and so far as insentient bits of protein called genes are concerned, it is.

Just don’t run off with the idea that how you want things to be, is somehow separate from the way genes want it to be.

And then there’s God.  Ideas about God are side-effects of the instinct to survive as genes, for genes, in a material world. Believing that your beliefs are inviolate is itself a defense mechanism to protect your survival as genes.  Naturally you won’t think so, but remember what designed and built the brain and mind that your thoughts and beliefs are coming from, and why. You’re made from physical components, shaped by laws of physics into a gene-survival suit…and you’re kidding yourself there’s an all-knowing, all-powerful ‘something’ behind it all? Even more delusional, you imagine you know what this ‘something’ is?

Not only are ideas about God indivisible from the survival instinct – for real reasons just outlined – they’re fashioned from materially real imagery. Human minds in physical bodies are incapable of comprehending a reality not built on physically real phenomena, or conscious interaction with it. In other words, your ideas about God are fashioned from your painfully limited understanding of yourself and your place in a physical reality.

What about the environment?  We know of just two fundamental phenomena in our cosmic environment: physical things, and consciousness. The only consciousness we know of is our own. Physical stuff is just that, whereas consciousness is immaterial. It has no physicality. Yes, consciousness is assumed to be made by atoms in a brain, but it’s not made from brain atoms. There is no atomic structure of consciousness. There are no molecules in an idea.

And yet ideas are all and everything that we are – along with thoughts, memories, assumptions, fears, hopes, dreams, aspirations, delusions, pretensions, etc, etc. Put all those together and we appear. Take ‘em all away, and we cease to be, leaving only the shell that genes built.

Now forget genes and bodies and brains. They’re not what we are, they’re only what we imagine we are. Our bodies are merely part of the physical environment we were born into. We mistake ourselves for them only because they enable us to exist as consciousness in their physical environment. Immaterial though we are as consciousness, our thoughts, memories, ideas, fears, hopes, dreams, aspirations, etc. are able to translate physicality into so much more than atoms and molecules…by giving physical things meaning.

As consciousness, we’re a separate environment made from our own and each others ideas, thoughts, memories, fears, hopes, dreams and aspirations. Our real environment became exclusively one of immaterial mind stuff when we became conscious of being conscious.

The physical sensations we ‘feel’, along with ‘our’ emotions, are generated by chemical interaction in a non-conscious genetic body, nervous system and brain. As consciousness, we only identify with those chemical interactions in terms of the ideas – the meanings – they help us conjure up about ourselves.

‘Sensations’, ‘feelings’ and ‘emotions’ are illusions we perceive as real only because our immaterial conscious self is so closely interfaced with a material body, nervous system and brain. The nature of this interface translates physical sensations into consciousness for us, otherwise we’d be unaware of them.

As the environment of ideas within a material environment, our reality is fast becoming less about what the physical environment makes us, and more about what our ideas make it.  We pervade these biological vehicles as an immaterial phenomenon; we really are the ghost in a biological machine. Though as aspects of the environment of consciousness, rather than think of ourselves as indeterminate parts of an amorphous cloud of vapor, say, we each have a distinct existence as a core self made from a unique set of ideas.

Our personal core self is constantly reshaped by outside influences that affect us consciously and subconsciously. We evolve as a result of the ideas – and meanings – we’re constantly interacting with. And while our conscious selves evolve, the genetic bodies we’re in evolve too.

But it’s meaningless to say that we’re how genes – or even the physical universe – became conscious; no two phenomena are so different from each other as physical matter and consciousness. We were never physical.

What does all of this mean?  Regardless of what we believe about our origins, as conscious minds caught up in genetic hardware, it’s for us alone to decide what it means to be conscious, in a physical human body, in society, in a material world. Finding meaning for ourselves isn’t something our genetic bodies are capable of; meaning is unique to us as consciousness; that should be obvious.

Ideas about God or an afterlife are consistent with this search for meaning. Perhaps they’re inevitable. But whatever we choose to believe, the hard fact is that while we’re here, as consciousness in a material world, this is the only world we, as human beings, can perceive or have ideas about.

We’re simply not designed to have ideas about any other kind of world than a material one; in a material body and brain, our mindset is anchored in our subconscious identification with our perceived material self. It’s also a delusion that we can imagine a world, a reality, in which our own conscious motivations are free from the instinct that motivates us to survive as physical beings.

As said, part of that same delusion is to imagine we can separate ideas about God from the instinct to survive in a material world. We demonstrate that by using the God concept as a tool or a weapon that works to our own advantage, allowing us to see the meaning in things that we choose to see. This is survival-oriented ‘meaning’, reflected in all our thoughts and actions; in what things are worth to us and why we value them.

We can’t be relied upon to decide impartially about meanings or values. Our entire understanding of value judgement evolved to favor things that mean the most to us, and – for all the reasons touched on above – nothing means more to us than our survival as genes.

Yet we need meaning in our life – in fact an endless series of small ongoing meanings that make an overall meaning. Meanings give our existence a purpose. The problem is that we’re immaterial consciousness existing in a physical world, the most immediate aspect of which is a physical body we claim as our own, and in doing that, lose our real selves.

In a physical body, we think – instinctively – of ourselves and our survival in physical terms and look for what physical things mean for our survival as physical beings. But in our true environment of consciousness, the things we value most in the physical world are not physical; they exist only as ideas, hopes, dreams, aspirations, awareness, understanding, etc.

Tread carefully here, because though our hopes, dreams, fears, aspirations and ideas are about what physical things mean to us, they’re not about what physical things mean to our physical selves; nothing has ‘meaning’ for the atoms and molecules of our physical selves. Our hopes, dreams, fears, aspirations and ideas are exclusively immaterial, and so can only ever be about what physical things mean to us as immaterial consciousness.

Be more of what you really are.  The value we place on physical things is part of the illusion we unwittingly create for ourselves. The real purpose of our conscious presence in this physical environment is to transform physical things into a dynamic collection of immaterial ideas that transcend the physical world. That goes for our ideas about our physical bodies too. Thus transformed, physical things cease to have value only as divisive life support for genes, and instead, in our immaterial minds, become only about the conscious meanings we choose to give them – meanings that can only have ‘meaning’ for consciousness.

Physical things then become a reflection of us and our purpose – to make the most of what we really are: something far more than mindless and uncaring physical matter that has no meaning for itself. The meanings we choose to give physical things are the meanings we choose to give ourselves and each other, rather than the lack of meaning placed on us by physical matter.

When we think of ourselves as physical beings first, we naturally downgrade what we really are – our real, conscious selves – and instead chase the objects and experiences that feed our illusions about ourselves as physical beings. We allow mindless, uncaring stuff to call the shots.  We all do it, imagining this will benefit our conscious selves too, but it has the opposite effect.

As conscious beings, only we can decide the value of things. But because the physical things of our environment affect the quality of our life and our fate as physical bodies, we allow them to decide the value we put on ourselves and each other, period.

While we base our values on physical things, we judge the value – the meaning – of ourselves and each other as conscious beings in terms of the relative value we place on physical stuff.

Do we really want the meaning of our existence to depend primarily, or only, on the value we put on physical things? How we use them, share them, distribute them, withhold them, covet them, beg, borrow or steal them?

 

 

Ideas R us.

‘That’s a great idea!’ ‘I have a better idea…’ ‘A company built on ideas.’

Everything we’re aware of is made from ideas. Everything we can possibly know about will be in the form of ideas. Our thoughts and our emotions too are just collections of ideas.

KleeWhere do ideas come from? What exactly are they?

From everything outside of us. And yet, paradoxically, ideas aren’t simply ‘out there’, ready made, waiting to be plucked. They depend on what we are: conscious awareness, aka a non-physical mind.

NOTE: (If we let the premise that our mind is in some way manufactured by physical processes intrude into this, we risk thinking – however irrationally – that our consciousness and physical things – our brain for instance – somehow smear into each other. That idea is what clouds all progress in so-called ‘mind science’.)

Ok. So, as a non-physical mind, ideas are what we make from non-conscious physical things that have no awareness of their own. But the ideas aren’t already there as ‘ideas’ in physical things outside us. We have to look at physical things, and then create the ideas from our perceptions about physical things.

NOTE: (I’m using the concept of physically real things to keep this simple; in fact we create our ideas from anything outside our own conscious awareness, and much of the stuff outside our own conscious awareness isn’t physically real. But our human understanding of ideas about things can only reference material phenomena.)

See what happens when you try to clarify stuff? You make it more complicated.

But anyhow, the ideas that we create from, and about, physical things, are then exclusively in our conscious awareness. What’s more, by creating ideas from things outside ourselves, we become those ideas.

So…we don’t simply ‘have’ ideas – we are ideas. Ideas are all that we are. We’re nothing else. As conscious awareness, we are ‘idea gathering and processing plants’. What we do with the ideas becomes the shape and content of our mind. We then turn those ideas into the shape and content of our world and our reality.

Emotions as ideas.

When we create ideas from perceiving physically real things, it’s not a cold, mechanical or strictly intellectual process. As conscious awareness, we’re a living environment in which all our ideas – including those about physical sensations, feelings and emotions – merge together in a fluid, seamless whole. (This is where the smearing effect from earlier might be misconstrued as a merging of conscious and physical, when it’s merely where the effects of physical processes, and the sensations they cause, interface with, and are perceived by, our consciousness.)

NOTE: To see that, you have to go really small; far smaller than atoms, their smaller component parts, or even the quantum particles they’re made from.

The problem is that it’s pointless thinking about single, isolated particles in a situation where you need to imagine countless megazillions of these particles all working together. There’d be no physical phenomena with just one particle of physical stuff, just as there’d be no conscious phenomena with just one particle of conscious stuff. And this goes infinitely smaller than what we think of as particles.

Fluid’s a good word for the environment of ideas we call consciousness. Our mind is a deep ocean of ideas. The ideas are like the particles of the water itself, while our everyday consciousness might be the relatively shallow surface layer. (This could turn into a complicated analogy, but I want you to see ideas the way I’m trying to – not as something abstract but as the stuff of real life, and as the effects that physically real things have on us. Particularly as things that delude us, seduce us, mislead us, pollute our mind, turn us against each other, and generally screw things up for us.) It’s not the physically real things in life that do all that, it’s us and the ideas we have about them.

Another analogy for us and our ideas is a nebula. (A cloud of dust and gas in space.) Each of us is an incredibly complicated nebula of conscious awareness made from ideas about everything you can possibly think of, and then some.

As I said, ideas aren’t just neat, discrete thoughts about things – they’re colored by feelings, emotions, memories, hopes, longings, aspirations, desires, passions and all the rest of it. Together, all these comprize this nebula of stuff that makes each one of us uniquely, humanly what we are. And as I also said, without our own personal ocean/nebula of conscious awareness made from ideas, there’d be no ‘us’.

Of course none of us is a nebula where everything just swirls around in a haphazard mess. There’s an organizing force (evolution or God – you choose) that gives us a physical body in a physical world to reflect us back at ourselves and lets us create ideas. Our physical bodies are a collection of processes that evolve to do specific things, but with one purpose: the replication and reproduction of our genes. We know these things because we’ve perceived them as ideas, and processed those ideas to create yet more ideas in our environment of conscious awareness.

It’s because we are this environment of conscious awareness that we don’t think of ourselves as that collection of physical processes; that would make us less than human. We do, however, overlook the fact that on their own, the processes that comprize physical bodies are less than human; it takes our conscious awareness to make us human.

We also overlook the fact that our feelings, emotions, memories, longings, desires, passions and the rest are all just a result of mindless genes copying and reproducing themselves – with our conscious help.  All of those distinctly ‘human’ feelings, emotions, memories, longings, desires, passions and the rest – are not human in the consciously aware way that we think of ourselves. They’re just countless numbers of mindless atoms and mindless forces colliding: the unknowing, uncaring physical consequences of evolution. We – the conscious awareness – only imagine those mindless, non-conscious, unknowing and uncaring physical processes are part of our conscious selves.

Naturally you might well have other ideas about all of this…

Get real.

I think, therefore I think I’m something special.

We imagine we’re somehow above everything, better than the rest of creation, ‘chosen’ in some inexplicable way, if not by God then by the universe that went to the trouble of building us from stardust.

Being special, we demand this, we want that, we deserve respect, love, success, and the rest.

Had we been around when Darwin’s ideas first appeared, we’d have been outraged by the notion that we could have evolved from apes.

Even now the fact that we’re fundamentally no different than other animals is artfully buried under our pretensions of civilized sophistication.

More than that, we think that by dressing up the same instincts, urges and bodily functions we share with other species, we become not just superior to them, but perceive ourselves as part of a different kind of reality where only we and our needs matter.

At best, the arrogance of this delusional elitist attitude becomes an instinctive urge to protect the things we depend on for our well-being – but only so we can plunder them more thoughtfully.

At worst our approach manifests as a godlike disregard for anything that isn’t useful to us. Even each other.

It took millions of years of evolution for us to become separate from our surroundings; to recognize that our senses were not the same as the physical environment that caused them.

Our senses now define us as individuals and give us our personal identity. But senses – along with the bodies and brains that go with them – were evolved by genes to ensure their own survival.

With our vain glimmering of awareness, we still imagine we are genes. With that comes the human delusion, built on the genetic survival instinct, that as the human manifestation of my genes, ‘I’ matter most.

It’s a conviction that naturally leads to the idea that we’re all separate units and simply co-exist in our own personal world of ‘me-ness’.

The closest we ever come to true unity is an illusion created by our own personal desires for ourselves as individuals.

Anything more profound that could transcend the ‘me-ness’ is practically metaphysical and incomprehensible to us, because our physical bodies and their demands trick us into believing physical sensations are the real raison d’etre for this whole charade.

As an entirely physical process, our genetic heritage actually contrives to keep us apart at the level that matters: the conscious one. That’s the one we need to work on.

What makes sense?

I try to write about real things. To say how things really are, rather than how I’d like them to be, or how I want you to think they are. I try to be honest.  But what gets in the way is me, and you, and all the junk we carry around with us.

Each of us is the product of our own unique set of experiences, so those are all we have to draw on for our understanding of things; for the way we see ourselves, each other and the world.

But we’re not just the sum of our ongoing experiences, we’re also the conclusions and opinions we have about those experiences. We’re how we feel about things, consciously and subconsciously. We’re our likes and dislikes, our biases, aversions, illusions and delusions, hopes, dreams, fears and the rest.

All of those ingredients make us what we are. Yet in terms of genuine realness, most of those ingredients are just junk. Most of the stuff we lug around is trivial, irrelevant and stupid.

Forget about human minds as perfect edifices of unassailable moral principles, unchallengeable ethical precepts, or mathematically precise concepts. Those are just meaningless words compared with how we really are: a disorganized, confused shambles. Our perceptions are a joke. They’re flawed, idiosyncratic, wildly inaccurate and subject to constant change.

This state of turmoil is who we really are.

Why don’t we appear this way to others, or even to ourselves? Because we’re all great actors, skilled at self-delusion, trickery and deception. Below the surface we’re all contriving like crazy to present an outwardly acceptable self to the world.

Even we don’t realize how much work we’re putting into just being the self we think we should be. That’s how expert we’ve become at creating and maintaining the façade. But then, we’ve been practicing from day one to maintain the act.

And anyhow, the people around us are all so busy working on maintaining their own act, they don’t think about how hard we’re trying simply to figure out who we really are, or who we want to be, or ought to be, or could be, or whatever.

You wouldn’t believe how hard that is when everything is changing all of the time. On every level of physicality, from the subatomic to the cosmic, from one nano-second to the next, nothing stays the same.

We needn’t worry too much about the cosmic, but on the subatomic, and even below that, is right where each of us lives. Our brain runs on this level, and yet brain complexity is simple nuts and bolts compared with the major symphony of subtleties involved in being conscious.

Think of your consciousness as an orchestra with a trillion musicians all trying to follow a continuous, unfinished score that’s constantly being rewritten and added to by the world around you in a megazillion subtle ways.

Now wake up, because this isn’t about music, it’s about how we decide what’s real. And if we don’t get it right, we’ll be playing to a score written around make-believe, fantasy and delusion, and that would make no sense.

What does make sense though?

‘Sense’ comes from what our senses tell our brain about the material world, but senses are designed only to help genetic organisms survive long enough to replicate and reproduce their genes.

That kind of ‘sense’ is what holds us back. It tells us what’s best for us as mindless physical organisms, but nothing about what’s best for us as conscious human beings.

Trying to live according to what makes sense to our genetic selves is why we all have so much trouble figuring out who and what we actually are. Genetic sense makes no sense for us as consciousness. It’s what turns us into self-interested play actors living on a superficial level where all that matters is what satisfies our hungers, panders to our illusions, strokes our ego or placates our instincts.

Genetic sense tells is we should all look out for ourselves, first and foremost. It puts ME and MINE top of our priorities list, makes us mean and self-centered, aggressively possessive, vindictive and vain, and all of our other infamous traits that seem to be ‘reality’ for most of us: a genetic reality that makes sense only to replicating molecules.

Seeing ourselves as ideas.

guernica

This blog was inspired by the ideas in a book: Diary of my life after death. I wrote the book, and while it would be easy to think of the ideas in it as mine, all I really did was to give a shape and context to ideas that already existed. Other people’s ideas.

In effect we’re all plagiarists, or perhaps ‘agents’ is a better word, for ideas that originate elsewhere; ideas that have evolved from earlier ideas and will go on evolving.

Ideas are an essential factor in our own evolution, because the one thing that makes them not only possible but fiendishly complex, is our consciousness. Our ideas make us what we are.  Our future hinges on how we use them; on which ideas we encourage and which we discard.

One idea we should certainly reconsider is that each of us is separate, unique and individual, because thanks to consciousness and ideas, that’s an illusion.

Like the ideas it borrows, processes and develops, consciousness is neither original nor unique to each of us. It’s not conjured up from scratch by molecules shaped into the brains of a few billion separate individuals.

Consciousness itself is what’s unique – as the medium of ideas; as an amorphous, immaterial phenomenon that we share and are joined by, even without knowing we’re sharing or joined. Consciousness is an ocean of ideas and their more fundamental component parts that we build into larger, more complex concepts.

The very nature of consciousness as a shared phenomenon is what allows us to mix and match ideas so fluidly, there might as well be no physical heads and brains separating us.

Because of this conscious facility for open sharing, we might say that ‘our’ own conscious selves aren’t separate, discrete entities, but are actually just areas of self-awareness in that ocean of ideas. And all that really separates us are the ideas we favor.

Maybe you’d care to share a few ideas about this?

Practical spirituality.

‘Spirituality’ gets a bad press amongst materialists who associate it with religion and belief in God.

For me, spirituality is nothing to do with religion. I don’t even like the word spirituality.

I prefer consciousness. We’re all conscious, so we know we’re dealing with something real. But simply to say that consciousness is no less real for us than our physical body, is to sell ourselves short.

Consciousness is most definitely more real than physical things.

How can the immaterial phenomenon of consciousness be more real than physical things made from atoms?

In a nutshell: No consciousness, no us. And no us means no anything else. (More on that in a moment.)

Be clear what I mean by consciousness. (And remember it’s the real you I’m talking about, not some weird abstract notion.)

To say ‘you are conscious’ can sound like ‘you are fat’, or ‘you are ill’, by suggesting that being conscious is hardly more than a condition that a physical body happens to be in.

That in turn gives the false impression that your physical body and brain creates everything that your consciousness is and does, understands, knows, hopes for, dreams of, aspires to and so on.

I’m not having that. As consciousness, we’re not just some misty thing conjured up by an otherwise stupidly mindless collection of atoms. I say f*** that, and you should too.

We are consciousness. If we didn’t exist, nor would anything else because as consciousness, being aware of ourselves and the things around us is all that brings them into existence for us.

No. I’m not having that either. It’s not what really happens. Nowhere even close. Consciousness doesn’t just bring things into existence for us (the way a camera brings a picture of things into existence); consciousness brings everything alive for us! It brings us alive for ourselves and each other.

No us would mean no life, along with all of the countless incredible experiences that populate it!

Consciousness is all that creates life. It is life, period.

(Yeah, I know I keep on overstretching this, but I’m only doing what an attorney does before being reprimanded for going too far before the jury is instructed to disregard that as evidence – after it’s too late.)

True, we can’t know what it would be like not to be consciousness; to have no mental existence; no sentient awareness. We can only try to imagine oblivion – absolute nothingness. Except that like infinity, the idea of pure nothingness is beyond our comprehension.

I don’t think we can ever know oblivion. I think we’re permanent. When our physical body shuts down for good, we wake up to what we really are. There’s something else you can disregard because I can’t prove. (It’s all in Diary of my life after death.)

All I can do is try to spell out why consciousness is more real that physical things in a laborious but hopefully clear way.

We think of ourselves as a physical body. But in order to ‘think’ of ourselves at all requires some part of us to have self awareness. A part of us has to know that we’re thinking.

(This process of being aware that we’re aware is probably not unique to human consciousness, though it may well be rare amongst other species.)

But I don’t see how atoms alone could do it. To be self aware, atoms would need the ability to recognize themselves as atoms. To do that they’d need to stand apart from themselves – the way we stand apart from the things we’re aware of – and look back at themselves in the knowing, aware way that we look at things that are not us.

That would amount to atoms being conscious.

See that? I’m saying you can’t be ‘the same as’ something, and simultaneously not be the same as something. (Double definitely not when one of those things is everything that consciousness is.)

I did warn you this would be laborious. Did I warn your body or your brain? What would be the point of that?

They’re just atoms, reducing to nucleons (protons and neutrons) surrounded by an electron cloud. Nucleons in turn reduce to their component quarks and gluons, which, in even smaller terms, are quantum particles. (If you want to postulate smaller still, try superstrings.)

Nothing made from atoms has ever given any indication that it can think, experience emotions, have memories, dreams, aspirations or moral opinions.

Everything we know from our personal experience of consciousness tell us that it lives in dimensions beyond those of physical things made from atoms and their component parts.

So, members of the jury, our consciously aware self is self evidently something other – something a great deal more – than our physical self made of atoms.

The only logical and realistic conclusion we can draw is that, as human beings, we’re two separate and utterly different phenomena rolled into one.

That’s not good enough. Even though you might agree that consciousness is obviously more real than physically real things, you still believe we’re just as physical as we are conscious.

You want that to be true, because it’s what your whole life is about.

We’re all stuck with the fact that we’re not coming from an enlightened, top down position. (Not as our human selves anyhow.) So far as we’re concerned, we evolve from the bottom up, and that has us convinced that physical things came first and are ‘more real’ than consciousness.

You still believe that, regardless of whether or not you believe in God, or whether of not your intellect wants to think that consciousness is more real than physical things.

You can’t help but believe that. The conviction is an inescapable function of your survival instinct. Through the laws of physics it drives the interaction of your body’s atoms, and starting from the lowest levels of your psyche, those same laws of physics work their way up through the structure of your emotions to become the certainty that physical things are more real.

Any anyhow, physically real things are considered more real than consciousness because physically real things are discernible by our senses, while consciousness isn’t.

Big deal. Our senses themselves are physical. They’re part of the scam. It’s all atoms together.

But again, the only way we know the atoms of our physical senses are detecting other physical things made from atoms, is because we’re conscious of that happening…because we’re something so much more than atoms.

My case rests, but not for long.

Only minds are real.

Questions like why are you here, and do you have a purpose are too big to be thought of as real questions. But the mundane necessity of our survival as genetic organisms compels us to think otherwise. 

Science wrongly assumes how we got here can explain why, while millions of believers delude themselves that their religion can give a reason for our existence.

The real reason for our being here is the one phenomenon that makes both science and religion possible. A phenomenon we don’t understand: Consciousness. We haven’t the faintest notion of what consciousness is made from or how it works. But we know that it alone creates our reality.

How do we know that, and what is reality? 

Besides being here on your screen, these questions about why you’re here, what God is, and what reality is, are entirely in your mind and nowhere else (unless you decide to reproduce them in a physical medium).

Questions don’t exist in non-conscious physical things. Atoms don’t ask questions. An entire universe of atoms doesn’t ask questions. Only minds ask questions.

But what is your mind? Where is it?

Like questions, it has no existence in the physically real world of atoms, yet it’s the only place you exist, and consequently the only place ideas about God exist. Without minds, neither you nor God would exist. The meaning of numbers wouldn’t exist. Science wouldn’t exist. Reality wouldn’t exist in any form. Nothing would exist.

So as consciousness, only we can decide why we’re here and what our purpose is.

Don’t just accept things.

 

Rene-Magritte-Wallpaper-The-Human-Condition

Too often we don’t wonder ‘why?’ about things.

Especially the biggest, most important things.

We just accept them.

DON’T JUST ACCEPT THINGS.

That’s how ALL of our problems arise.Why?

Because nothing is what it seems.

Everything your senses tell you is real, is part of an illusion.

You’ve lived with this illusion all your life.

You believe it’s real, but it’s not.

It’s only a partial glimpse of how things really are.

Even that glimpse is so distorted as to be mostly meaningless.

This is not mystical bullshit.  

It’s how things really are.

I won’t kid you this is easy to understand.

But it is worth your while to try.

All that ‘we are – our personality, our awareness, knowledge, ideas, memories and anything else that you can possibly ‘think of’ – literally – exists ONLY in the form of our consciousness.

As consciousness, ‘we’ can only ever know about, or come into contact with, anything outside of our own consciousness (the things we call ‘physically real’, or other consciousnesses) as purely non-physical conscious experiences.

See that? It’s just the beginning.

Your perceptions of yourself and the world around you – everything from the most vivid physical sensation to the subtlest mental notion – exist in your consciousness only as non-physical ideas.

Being able to experience pain, anguish, joy, frustration and other emotions exclusively as non-physical ideas – yet think they’re physical feelings – is just one of the remarkable – and inexplicable – things about consciousness.

Consciousness alone brings the vibrant colors and nuances of our physical experience of the world and everything in it – our physical selves included – into existence for us. We make the physical world real for ourselves.

We create our own reality.

But why, if the things we think of a physical experiences are just non-physical ideas for us, do they feel so physically real?

It’s because, as consciousness, we’re so tightly interfaced with a body and brain, that our consciousness functions as if we are those physical components.

That’s another unique quality of consciousness.

There’s nothing else like it.

Our body is merely part of the physical world of atoms. That’s why it can interact with that world. By interfacing our physical body, we can have a conscious experience of that physical interaction.

(Think of a body as a ‘middle man’ between our consciousness and the rest of the physical world.)

Reality is unique for each of us.

Each one of us perceives reality in a different way because we’re all unique individuals, fashioned from a unique set of personal experiences of the physical world – not to mention our unique personal experiences of other consciousnesses.

I gather some of us see reality very differently from others. (That’s a post for another time.)

So what is physical reality really?

What exactly is it that our consciousness interfaces to convince us that physical things are real?

That depends on how you look at things.

On the smallest scales you can change things just by looking at them. But we’re coming to that.

Your experience of physically real things starts where the edges of your conscious self meet your physical body.

That body (complete with nervous system and brain) evolved over many millions of years to interpret the physically real world for your consciousness.

It’s impossible to grasp the subtleties of the interface between the conscious you and your physical self.

For instance, even on the relatively clunky scale of atoms, nerve signals travel instantaneously, making you think that every movement of your body is part of the conscious ‘you’.

If we go in a lot closer than atoms, the solid ‘things’ we ‘think’ of as physical realness, disappear entirely.

Still more surprising, at these highly magnified scales, there are no pre-formed structures ‘outside’ of us; no sounds; no colors; no textures.

‘Reality’ is just shapes that form in energy.

Both the physical realness outside of us, and our conscious perception of it, are made from countless vibrations of minuscule quantities of energy.

What we think of as ‘real’ things are simply patterns that form in the energy.

We ‘see’ and ‘hear’ and ‘feel’ them the way we do because evolution caused energy vibrations to become shaped into ‘real’ things.

Our body, nerves and brain are some of those ‘real’ things, made of energy vibrations, that our consciousness perceives.

Consciousness is energy too.

When the energy patterns that make our consciousness, interface the energy patterns that make our body, nervous system and brain, ‘we’ experience the physical world not as energy patterns, but as physically real things.

To create our visual picture of reality, energy shaped into light waves ‘bounce off’ physical objects and enter our eyes. That causes nerve impulses (made from more energy) to jump to our brain (which is also just energy).

When that happens, our conscious mind (still more energy, but of a much more refined conscious kind) becomes aware of ‘seeing’. (It’s a similar story for hearing, touch, smell, taste and the rest of our consciously perceived experiences of physical ‘reality’.)

By adjusting a sufficiently sophisticated microscope you’d be able to see the energy vibrations as molecules, then smaller atoms, then nucleons and electrons, and then quarks and gluons, and even smaller particles.

It’s when you get down to truly small quantum scales that you can change things just by looking at them.

This is where the illusion of realness is itself unreal.

Quantum particles don’t behave the way our consciousness has evolved to think ‘real’ things should behave.

Down at the quantum level of ‘reality’, our understanding of realness goes right out the window.

A single quantum particle (of the kind that atoms are made from) can be in many different places at the same time.

This is called being in a superposition of states; it gives the impression that quantum particles exist as part of a wave of particles.

But if you look at a single particle, you cause the wave to ‘collapse’, so you see only one particle in one place.

That suggests nothing is actually ‘real’ until someone conscious decides to look at it.

So consciousness decides what’s real.

Quantum particles – and quantum ‘unreality’ – are the underlying machinery of the entire physical universe.

What you’re conscious of right now is nothing but quantum ‘unrealness’, aka quantum uncertainty.

Yet somehow, your consciousness turns this quantum ‘unreality’ into what you think of as real things.

Remember, none of this is mystical bullshit.

Where does it leave our ‘reality’?

Although it implies that we create the reality we want for ourselves, things aren’t quite that straight forward.

The ‘reality’ you’re seeing now is in fact only one of many possible ‘realities’.

You see quantum vibrations as your particular ‘reality’ because of the level your consciousness has evolved to.

And the level of your conscious evolution depends on how your consciousness interacts with your physical brain.

In effect, you can only be as conscious as your physical brain allows you to be. And you can only see the reality that your brain allows you to see.

There’s another problem.

The reality we think we want, isn’t really what ‘we’ want.

Our consciousness can’t be free to see reality for what it really is – whatever that might be – while we’re influenced by physically real things.

The only reality we see is the one that physical things – our body in particular – want us to see.

Physical things have their own powerful agenda. We experience that agenda most profoundly through our interface with our own body.

Our body makes demands on us, without even knowing it does, and we assume that’s what we want.

Your body’s agenda is driven by the self-interest of physical evolution.

That is, by what the physical universe is made from, and the way it’s screwed together.

Likewise your brain is just a biomechanical engine, designed by millions of years of evolution only to keep its body out of trouble.

It doesn’t ‘know’ it’s doing that. It has no more conscious awareness than your electric toothbrush does. So it doesn’t even know the conscious ‘you’ exists.

And yet by interpreting quantum ‘unreality’ as physically real things, your mind brings that physical body into existence.

Why?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Are you a robot?

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Robots 1a

Which one is you?

What if I told you that mindless physical objects are running your life? That they make you do things without you knowing it’s happening? That nothing you do is really your own idea? That it’s been this way for everybody since life on earth began? And you’re only thinking this can’t be true because mindless physical things are telling you to think that.

But if it is true, imagine the potential benefits of running your own life. Of making your own conscious choices. Of having ideas you know are yours. Of doing what your conscious self wants, rather than letting the mindless things around you run your life and tell you who you are. But I guess you can’t even imagine that, you’ve been living an illusion for so long. It’s why getting you to believe this is gonna be all uphill.

Let’s start with the difference between the real you, and stuff that’s not you. All ‘you’ are is contained in your consciousness. Your hopes, dreams and aspirations, your awareness of yourself and everything around you, and so on.

(What about all of the hidden stuff in your subconscious? Things you know but aren’t always aware of? And memories? All of that? They’re you too. There’s a lot more in your subconscious than you think, but never mind that for now.)

The thing is, none of the stuff in your conscious/subconscious is physically real, right? It exists only and entirely in the uniquely immaterial environment of your mind. That means ‘you’ exist only and entirely in your mind too. So when your consciousness leaves your physical body – as in death – everything that ‘you’ are leaves too. I guarantee it.

Where you go wrong is in thinking that ‘you’ are your physical body, even though the conscious ‘you’ and that physical body couldn’t be more different.

Fact is, all of your so called ‘physical feelings’ only exist as ideas in your mind, the same way your hopes, dreams and aspirations do. Sure they have a ‘physically real’ cause, but when you experience them, they have no more physical substance than your memories do: zip.

So where does your consciousness stop, and the non-conscious physical world begin? Where and how do they interface? Questions like these are the source of all our problems as human beings. So let’s go back to the notion of you as a robot that lets physical things tell you how you should think and behave. Physical persuader numero uno is your own body (complete with nervous system and brain).

Don’t be fooled by its warm familiarity. That collection of atoms is as mindless and uncaring as a suit of armor. (As is everything else made from atoms in this physical world.)  Mindless though it is, it has a will of its own, designed over millions of years of genetic evolution to enable it to survive and reproduce itself. But clever as it is, it’s still just a bio-robot, programmed by organic components. And like every other physical thing in this entire universe of atoms and molecules, it doesn’t give a damn about you or any of the unphysically real stuff in your fancy conscious awareness. It doesn’t even know that ‘you’ exist. (How could something that’s not conscious, know that consciousness exists?)

Side note: To overcome those problems is why some people try to isolate their conscious awareness from their physical body (and from the other physical things around them) through meditation and more extreme practices.

So why, if all of life’s problems are the result of allowing our decisions to be governed by mindless physical things, do we go along with all of this? It’s because we don’t know any better. We think helping genes replicate and reproduce themselves all that really matters. We think this is how things are supposed to be. And we got so used to doing it, we can’t see how back-to-front it is. It’s as if we’re all brainwashed with the crazy notion that our conscious selves are less important than our physical parts. That we only exist to look out for mindless atoms, accidentally shaped into a monkey suit by the equally mindless random activity of amino acids. We might even suspect that ‘we’ don’t really exist. Maybe we’re only imagining all of this and we’re nothing more than a deluded ghost stumbling around inside a mess of electrochemical circuitry.

Even if we see how things really are, we still gonna want to along with what physical things dictate – our own physical selves first and foremost -because while we’re human, it’s practically impossible not to think of yourself as physical. (Try it now.)

The conviction that we’re physical starts deep in the subconscious parts of our mind. That’s why we’re convinced that trying to ‘be physical’ is perfectly normal and natural for consciousness, and we actively wallow in the sensory aspects of the delusion.

It’s because we all behave like we’re physical robots practically all of the time, for all of our lives, that my home page starts with the question: What are human beings for? In science, if you don’t know what something is for, you try to figure out what it’s made from, how the stuff it’s made from works in other things, and what those other things are for, etc. Then you draw conclusions.

On the question of what we’re for they’re the wrong conclusions because we don’t know what we’re dealing with. We assume the obvious and imagine we’re just what our physical senses and physical brains tell us we are – human beings.

So what are human beings made from? Well, our physical parts are made from the same stuff as everything else in the universe: molecules, atoms, nucleons, quarks and even smaller stuff. On really small (quantum) scales, all of those things are made from particles that travel in waves.

On the smallest scale it’s all just energy, but that’s hard to imagine. Instead, think of everything in the universe as part of an endless ocean of incredibly fine particles. Different kinds of particles do different things, and over billions of years those differences wind up as stars and galaxies and planets. And people who, amongst other things, wonder where all of this came from.

And yet religions and philosophies aren’t based on curiosity about where physical stuff came from. We feel compelled to know where ‘we’ came from. And you know I don’t mean our physical selves; they’re just so much dust. I mean our consciousness. But we’re going the wrong way to find an answer if we go on confusing our real self – consciousness – with a bio-robot made of atoms.

You need to think big about this. The bio-robot is merely part of the mindless biological level of physical reality; the result of genes looking out for their own interests, as part of the universal machinery of evolution.

On the other hand, people who claim to know about these things say the robot exists only to help us figure out what our real conscious self is here for.

You could say we shouldn’t need to impute a ‘spiritual’ purpose to our conscious existence. We know only too well the difference between everything consciousness is capable of compared with mindless physical things. That should leave us in no doubt that ‘we’ should be calling the shots. Surely thinking takes priority over mindlessness? Are we running this railroad, or is it running us?

Thing is, the only way to be in charge of our lives, ourselves and our destiny, is by making a deliberate conscious effort to separate ourselves from the robot; to take hands-on control of what goes on in our mind, instead of just going along with whatever thoughts appear there. After all, it’s our consciousness that creates our reality, not physical things. (They only provide the contents. The food for thought.)

Taking control of your thoughts is easier said than done. It’s almost as if you have to step back from your own physical self. Is that possible? For most of us, maybe the only way is to imagine your conscious self as something separate. Well hey, imagination is a vital factor in all of the best ideas. You have to be able to see a thing, in your mind, before you can progress towards making it real. You know that.

But don’t be fooled – things worth having never come easy. That only happens in the realm of magic and make believe, whereas we’re talking about the most real thing there is: our own consciousness. I might even say the only real thing there is. Being in charge of your own consciousness means being in control of the most real thing there is.

Just keep remembering that a body is mindless atoms. It’s just something you put on to help you find your real self. But you don’t put consciousness on. You ARE it. Remember also that in the guise of human beings, this interface we make with the stuff we think of as physical reality is strictly temporary.

Let me repeat a few things: Our perception of ourselves, the world, and what ‘real’ means, depends entirely on our consciousness. Without it, the physical world simply wouldn’t exist for us.

Our consciousness makes physical things real for us only because, as consciousness, ‘we’ are a different kind of ‘real’ than physical things. Not an imaginary, second rate kind of real but a ‘more-than-physically-real’ kind. The only kind capable of bringing the atoms of these monkey suits to life. Monkey suits that we know for a fact would be dead without us.

Monkey suits are genetic organisms in their own right, just as other animals, plants and all so-called ‘living’ things are. They’re made from the same stuff that rocks and cars and buildings are. Stuff that we wouldn’t normally think of as living. In this sense ‘dead’ and ‘alive’ are totally subjective concepts. The only difference between ‘dead’ rock atoms and ‘living’ organism atoms is that some organism atoms are shaped into molecules that can make copies of themselves, and build bodies that reproduce them.

This is the great conjuring trick that succeeded in fooling everybody – that ‘dead’ atoms somehow come ‘alive’ because they’re in animated bodies. From that assumption we decided that anything with genes is ‘life’.

We may not know what we, as consciousness, are for, but we know pretty much where genes came from and how they work. We know that in their 3 billion year efforts to replicate, the organisms that genes evolved to reproduce themselves were shaped by their physical environment, aka the world.

Thinking we’re genetic organisms, we see all of that in terms of our need to survive in a hostile, competitive world. But survival isn’t a conscious decision we make. (Our immature, evolving consciousness wouldn’t last long that way.) Survival has to be instinctive, governed by what atoms are and how they interact. (If you could magnify those interactions you’d see they’re as mindlessly mechanical as clockwork.)

Being so closely interfaced with a genetic organism, this mindless physical survival activity motivates our consciousness to augment that self-preservation instinct. So, thinking we are the monkey suit, we look out for it as if our existence depends on it. (The fact that we appear to die when it dies is a great incentive.)

Thinking we’re physical skews our entire understanding of ‘real’. It’s how material things came to dominate our conscious existence, and it turns us against our real, conscious selves. It makes us want to be more like physical robots. It tricks us into believing our robot selves are worth more than our real selves.

True, quitting being a robot means growing up to the fact that, as consciousness, you’re not here to grab all you can, compete for recognition, personal fame or material wealth, or act as if you own the place. That stuff only stops you getting real.

Just imagine…

Once upon a time the world seemed a pretty clunky and obvious place. Then the discovery of atoms showed it was a lot more complex and interesting. Not long after, quantum mechanics revealed it to be not only infinitely more complex, but downright weird.

Discoveries like these about the world around us evolve from earlier discoveries. By making such discoveries, we evolve too because these (and other) discoveries are not just about the world around us, they’re also about our perception of that world. Our consciousness evolves by interacting with the physical world. At the same time our physical selves evolve because, as we change the physical world, we adapt physically to accommodate those changes.

But how real is the physical world? We often forget that real things are only real for us because we’re able to perceive them consciously. Interestingly, everything we perceive is exclusively in our consciousness. In that sense nothing for us is physically real and never was.It’s hard to get your head around that because you’re not used to thinking of things as they really are. You’re not used to seeing things as they really are either. In fact all of your senses have been fooling you all along.

Sure this sounds nutty. As I said, before we realized that physical things were made of invisible bits of stuff (that we later called atoms), we assumed all the ‘real’ things were solid. Now we know that atoms themselves are made of far smaller and stranger stuff called quanta. These unimaginably tiny pieces of physical reality behave in ways that suggest nothing is what we think it is. They suggest that nothing is truly solid, or definite, or fixed, or certain. You could say they suggest that nothing is real, which in turn suggests that it’s down to us to decide what’s real.

That idea isn’t the standard scientific conclusion. it’s mine, but to think we have anywhere near a complete understanding – of physical reality or ourselves – is just delusional. Go look up the word hubris.

Now I’ll remind you that science thinks it knows pretty much all about physical reality, but nobody understands what consciousness is, so nobody knows how physical components – in the shape of brain cells – can create consciousness. Science just assumes that’s what happens, based on what we know about how the physical world works.

If you believe we’re entirely physical and our consciousness is an emergent by-product of physical processes, then maybe you also believe that physical stuff and mental stuff are, at bottom, just different forms of the same material. Like ice and water and steam are. Everything else is made from atoms, so maybe you figure that atoms and their smaller quantum particles might possess consciousness generating properties that we haven’t discovered yet. Maybe there’s some mysterious factor enabling atoms to conjure up everything that we experience in what we think of as ‘our’ consciousness.

Maybe there is no mystery; maybe all it takes to make consciousness is a steady progression of ever more complex physiological processes all working together to transcend the boundary between insentience and sentience.

But remember: We’ve gotten used to thinking of everything from the ‘bottom up’. (Or we think we have.) If you begin millions of years ago with a little consciousness that grows into ours as our brain and nervous system grows, naturally you’re going to assume consciousness is made by that brain and nervous system. This natural assumption is where neuroscience is still at. (The opposite notion – that the phenomenon we call our consciousness is not manufactured by atoms – is pure ‘top down’ thinking.)

Be clear about what physically real things are and what they’re not. An atom is a tiny central nucleus with a positive electric charge surrounded by negatively electrically charged electrons. There’s nothing about atoms that suggests they’re conscious, or that a lot of them together could create consciousness. The same goes for the quantum particles that atoms are made from. The fact that they behave in ways that seem strange to us doesn’t mean they have magical or mystical properties, any more than everyday solid objects do, all of which are made from quantum particles.

Despite being the most complex object we know of, the human brain is still just a collection of these basic components of physical reality.

Words like ‘magical’ and ‘mystical’ have no place in science, but they are real concepts, and as concepts (which are entirely un-physical notions) magic and mysticism are things that only consciousness can appreciate; only conscious minds can pretend, imagine or handle un-physical – aka unreal – stuff. These ‘unreal’ concepts play a very real part in our mental vocabulary and our understanding of reality. (Take my word for that; it’s too complicated to explain here. Maybe you can appreciate it anyhow.)

You could say that consciousness itself, as an un-physical notion (like magic and mysticism) is something that only consciousness can appreciate. Consciousness is also the only place where imagination and pretense can exist.

Question: Can the stuff we imagine, or pretend can exist, be said to exist? If not, why not? The stuff of imagination and pretense seems to be just as real as our consciousness. And we know our consciousness is real because without it, nothing else would be real for us.

If the pretend stuff of our imagination does exist in a reality that’s no less real than our consciousness, then maybe our definition of imaginary is wrong. Maybe imaginary things are, in their own way, just as real as – if not more real than – the things we always thought as of real. (More real would depend on whether we think our conscious reality is more real than the physical reality we’re conscious of. On that score, realize that our consciousness is all that makes the physical world real for us, and how much less rich the physical world would be without our consciousness.)

A ‘potential’ for being real is another concept that only consciousness can get a handle on. But the potential that our imagined ideas have for becoming real is what’s unique about consciousness. It makes consciousness a medium of creation, transformation and possibility. It’s also reminiscent of the strange behavior of the quantum world, where the particles and forces that govern atoms appear to behave with uncertainty. Investigation of our conscious perception of uncertainty can surely help us understand more about the relationship between consciousness and materiality.

If something has the potential for existence, then it’s in a special kind of proto-reality where it might possibly become real (at some time in the future). So it’s not actually the same as what we understand as absolutely imaginary (in that it couldn’t possibly ever become real).

To make this still more complicated in the broader sense of what can be real, we have to include stuff that we don’t know about yet. Not yet knowing about things that might turn out to either exist for real, or be brought into existence for real, is an uncomfortable notion. If we don’t know about a thing yet, then by science’s rules, strictly speaking, it’s not real. On the other hand there are things that have a greater probability of becoming real than others. Some of those have little chance of ever becoming real, while others are pretty much a certainty.

So there have to be shades of possibility that science can live with. Stuff that’s not real yet, but at the same time acceptable because it would build on what we already know. (This point can get stretched to fantastic lengths because science is often speculative, aka purely theoretical.) That said, the study of consciousness – by which I mean human consciousness trying to understand the reality created by itself – is hobbled by what we already know about physical reality. This knowledge pushes us down preferential avenues of further investigation, all based entirely on the notion that brains make consciousness, and excludes the possibility of any other explanation. The problem with that is, you can’t build on what you don’t want to know, or what you refuse to consider – even though you don’t yet know what that might be.

While we’re asking questions about what consciousness might be and how it might work, it seems only reasonable that we should seriously consider that maybe consciousness isn’t actually produced by a physical brain. But no. That idea is so open ended and important that mainstream science refuses to go anywhere near it except when ridiculing it. Certainly we need the strict scientific method to counteract all of the fantastical nonsense that’s a by-product of being human. At the same time, though, we need to be sufficiently open minded not to throw consciousness out with the bathwater.

Why is this subject such a big deal? Why so scary? Why is it sacrilegious to look right at consciousness as an autonomous phenomenon that’s not made by a physical brain?

The problem is that many people seem not just unwilling but unable to think seriously about that notion. They write books explaining in thinly disguised outraged detail how and why consciousness doesn’t have an autonomous existence. Judging by the time and effort they expend on refuting the possibility, you might imagine their life depended on it, or maybe their life’s work, and the way of thinking that underpins it.

Our consciousness works as if, by activating atoms in our brain so they interact in certain patterns, those patterns then correspond with something more than anything atoms alone are capable of…as if we’re accessing another phenomenon altogether. (Which of course we are.)

Citing some other phenomenon is anathema to neuroscientists, yet everything about our conscious awareness tells us it’s our access to an altogether richer, deeper, more refined, more potent reality than that occupied by atoms. In fact we can say unequivocally that another level or quality of realness is involved in our waking conscious state, otherwise we’d be unable to transcend the boundary between what things made from atoms are and do, and what consciousness is and does.