Essay 1. How Much Does Neuroscience Rely Upon Inference? (see next blog)
- Consciousness and its Content
- Shortcomings of Looking into the Brain
- Pleasure and Pain
- Mind the Gap
- No Getting Away from Consciousness
- The Consequences of Exclusion
- The Buddha and Science. Never the Twain Shall Meet
- Intelligence and the Brain
- A Perverse Duality
- Meditation on the Infinite.
Neuroscientists often treat consciousness as a ‘great mystery.’ They engage in numerous attempts to measure consciousness, fix a location for it in the brain and assess its influence. So far, scientists cannot find any kind of satisfactory relationship of consciousness to the brain. It is hardly surprising. You can only measure objects, employ mathematics, pinpoint locations and draw conclusions. Consciousness does not fit into a category of such measurement.
We need science to include consciousness rather than exclude it. Contemporary science fits into a limited paradigm around matter. Scientists have the potential to wake up to a bigger sense of reality that would transform their whole vision of life. That requires the inclusion of consciousness.
Our scientists engage in remarkable work. They also find themselves hampered owing to the dark shadow of reductionism that has blighted the so-called Enlightenment era.
We, the laypeople, who take an interest in life and nature, find it naïve for scientists to give such little attention to consciousness.
Any exploration of the relationship of consciousness to the brain reveals endless questions. I have outlined some of these questions in this article. Many of these questions serve to cast doubts on claims of scientists about any conclusions that the brain causes consciousness.
Consciousness and its Content
Where is the neural evidence to show I am here and what I am conscious of is there?
The world appears as a duality of consciousness and content, subject and object. An integrated and comprehensive approach to science includes subject and object. Scientists report that the observer influences the observed. The subject refers to consciousness – being conscious of an object. Consciousness is perceived as the witness, observation and attention towards the influences that enter consciousness.
The object includes heart/mind/analysis/mathematics/sense objects and observation of anything under the microscope or on the screen. Questions arise about the duality
- Can the object be separated from the subject?
- Can the subject be separated from an object?
- Are the subject and the object different?
- Are the subject and the object the same?
- Are the subject and the object both different and the same?
- Are the subject and the object neither different nor the same?
The promoters of neuroscience make major claims on the details of neural activity as their object of research. The research includes causes for a variety of states of mind and body. Conclusions consistently sound relative due to underlying standpoints around the brain, mind and consciousness. Neuroscience cannot provide a resolution to eight major questions:
- Is the mind different from the brain?
- Is the mind the same as the brain?
- Is consciousness the same as the brain?
- Is consciousness different from the brain?
- Is consciousness the same as the mind?
- Is consciousness different from the mind?
- What would it mean if consciousness is different from the mind?
- What would it mean if consciousness was the same as the brain and body?
Here are some responses to the above questions that show the problems of jumping to any conclusions.
- If the mind is different from the brain, then the mind or states of mind do not depend upon neural activity. Changes in the brain could take place without affecting the state of mind. The brain would be an organ of the body, largely free from interaction with different states of mind.
- If the mind is the same as the brain, then the mind would depend totally upon a change in neural activity for it to change. The mind could not undergo any change except via changing neural activity. If the mind is the same as the brain, then neuroscientists could pinpoint which neural activity releases empathy, love, happiness and compassion. Then provide medication to make that release happen. Doctors could also issue medication for a wide range of problematic states of mind
- If consciousness coupled with energy, interest and focus reveals that mindfulness/awareness/attention/observation is the same as the brain, how could consciousness engage in observation of sensations in the brain? Ho could consciousness engage in processes to change mental states and have a variety of depths of experiences? Can the brain alone distinguish all its parts and functions, the body and environments which support the brain? The mind/brain informs the subject, namely the person/consciousness.
- If consciousness is different from the brain, it would remain aloof from any neural activity. Nobody would have to endure anything that went in the brain because consciousness transcends all brain functions.
- If consciousness is the same as the mind, how could consciousness describe states of mind. How could consciousness experience the state of mind and contribute to developing it? Can a tree separate itself from the wood?
- If consciousness is beyond all states of mind, then it would not experience deep or shallow experiences and abide beyond all limitations of mental processes.
- If consciousness is different from the mind, then it would experience the influence or impact of the variety of states of mind, healthy and unhealthy, welcome or unwelcome.
- If consciousness was the same as the brain and body, there would be no space from the brain and body. This would prevent any seeing and knowing of the brain and body. The subject would be absolutely one with the object.
Neuroscience has neither the knowledge, the skills nor the resources to answer the above questions. It is not hard to fathom out the reason. Neuroscientists have tied themselves down to the presence of a single object, namely the brain. Certain influential neuroscientists believe that the brain emits states of mind at the expense of consciousness. Mental states merely confirm neural activity but scientists cannot explain how states of mind recognise differences to form views and judgements. What experiences, knows, and describes emotions? That is a function of consciousness.
Apportioning excessive reality to specific features of the brain, the brain becomes a black box, preventing us to explore wider causes and conditions that bring about healthy changes in the brain. False impressions arise through a tightly held view of an object of scientific interest.
Scientists cannot fit consciousness into a strictly biological/materialistic/neurological world view. Consciousness displays no characteristics of cells, atoms or subtle physical constructs. Scientists cannot distinguish consciousness in an ocean of particles, waves and frequencies. Consciousness reveals. If there is no consciousness, then brain activity would never reveal itself. This shows an unresolvable dilemma for the neuroscience.
A integrated science nexplore outside the limited matter paradigm and question the fixed views of reductionism to know reality. Neuroscientists can reflect on the limits of the approach in order to transform their whole vision of reality. First, they must get tired of living in a contracted view of reality.
It is not necessary to answer these questions. The questions serve the purpose to make clear that a single answer to one of the questions will not resolve the issue of consciousness and the brain.
Consciousness has a variety of meanings in science, philosophy, religion and spirituality. In this essay, consciousness has a straightforward meaning – to be conscious of (something). Consciousness enables us to witness a single or diverse number of presentations within and outside of ourselves.
In its quiet phase, such as deep sleep, consciousness has no content except perhaps the dream world. The presence of such consciousness confirms life in the body. The same principle applies to a person in certain depths of meditation, a sublime stillness, a coma or unconsciousness.
Owing to consciousness, we experience a sense of being a person. Consciousness deserves a place equal to matter in the scheme of things. We have the capacity to apply practices with consciousness to train our heart/mind/brain/body rather than conclude the brain governs us. We can inquire:
- Is the brain the cause for the mind?
- Is the brain the cause for the arising of the self, of ‘I’ and ‘me?’
Wisdom tells us not to grasp onto simple cause and effect as some self-evident truth but to explore primary conditions for what arises and see what we can develop, change or let go of.
We can dive into the diversity, complexity and wonder of life due to our capacity to apply consciousness to whatever field of objects generates our attention.
Shortcomings of Looking into the Brain
The brain, a field for logical analysis, exposes its limits to answering questions about consciousness, the self, ‘I’ and ‘my.’ The brain has its shortcomings as a means for insights, realisations and wisdom.
Part of the brain cannot turn around and look back at other parts to draw conclusions. The brain receives and transmits information through electrical messages, which requires energy in the form of oxygen and glucose.
Our body replaces old cells with new cells. Neuroscientists tell us that neurons in the brain stay with us throughout life. Yet we actually experience an immense range of experience. There are around 22 billion neurons in the cerebral cortex for men and 19 billion neurons for women. Groups of neurons form neural pathways. One scientific view states we stay the same. Another scientific view says we constantly change.
The pathways and plasticity of the brain do not reveal the divisions of past, present and future. That requires consciousness. The brain needs consciousness and consciousness needs the brain.
Impressions land upon us through the senses; consciousness makes it possible to recognise and evaluate them. Objects and impressions of them appear as sentient or insentient, gross or subtle known in time and space. We need consciousness to know what goes on at any level.
The brain’s biological activity collates the countless details in the millions of signals arising for a single state of mind. Consciousness serves as a kind of receptacle with the support of perceptions, intentions and calmness of being. Clarity recognises a wise response to events and sees a foolish reaction to the same events. We experience an intention to act, or we remain still.
The Human Genome Project estimated that humans have between 20,000 and 25,000 genes. The pharmaceutical industry invests huge sums of money to find out the relationship of specific genes to specific neurological issues, such as brain cancer, Alzheimer’s Disease, dementia, motor-neuron disease, strokes, psychiatric disorders and other problematic brain issues. Causes and conditions outside the sphere of the brain impact on the brain. We can apply our consciousness to the brain and the impact of events outside the brain.
We also have the opportunity to find out about ourselves through an integrated neuro-consciousness approach that looks at patterns, history, identity, pleasure, pain, emotions and notion of self.
- Why do I feel myself to be the same person as when I was decades younger?
- Why do I feel myself to be a different person from decades?
- Why do I feel both same and different from decades ago?
- Why do I feel substantial at times?
- Why do I feel myself as false at other times?
- Why can’t neuroscience give me the answers to these questions to end my concerns?
If the ‘I’ forms only an illusory appearance, why do we struggle about situations in our lives? If the ‘I’ has substance to it, then it must have a material base.
How can I shift backwards and forwards between a material base for myself and no base?
Can our genes bring about consciousness, namely something completely other than itself (genes)?
If ‘I,’ that means the ‘self’ has a material base in the brain, then it can be located within our genes. Gene targeting works to investigate the developmental or functional significance of a gene. It is a process of altering a specific sequence or gene at its location in a genome. Neuroscience cannot find a selfish self in a gene.
The self lands in consciousness, such as I am reading this page. It lands in the mind, such as I think. It lands in feelings, such as I feel. It lands in the body such as I sit here.
Is this I material or immaterial?
Pleasure and Pain
The brain receives messages from the body including pleasure and pain. We have receptors in our skin, which send an impulse through the nerves into the spinal cord to the brain within a fraction of a second. There are no pain receptors in the brain itself.
The signal from the body goes straight to the thalamus where the brain interprets the message and then reaches the limbic system, the emotional region for the brain. The sensations from the body may then increase due to the kind of emotional response or reaction from the initial message in the body.
If we overreact to a painful signal, then it generates a painful emotion from the limbic system. This doubles the pain – one pain in the body and a second pain in the emotions. The same principle occurs with pleasure.
Pleasurable body sensations, such as eating, dancing or meditating can intensify through an additional buzz in the emotions. While enjoyable, the sensations of pleasure can leave an impression that the pleasure arose due to the activity, not realising that the response intensified it.
A skilful engagement with life involves wise and caring actions. Mindfulness, meditation and reflection provide a space for a deeper response rather than knee-jerk reactions based on an initial signal.
The limbic system in the brain has a key role in our behaviour, memory, emotions and motivation. The top of the brain reveals the cerebral cortex used for thinking, planning and organising details about the future. Countless influences within and outside the brain cause subtle and not subtle changes to take place day after day – just as with everything else. Scientists engage in much measurement of events in the brain especially with regard to neurological health and sickness issues.
Known as plasticity, the brain reacts to various changes, making new neural connections which affect the circuits of the brain. Medication can disrupt the limbic system to pacify agitations, which rob a person of peace of mind.
Clarity and natural intelligence confirm consciousness as much as mind/matter confirm consciousness.
Consciousness recognises feelings, emotions, habits, patterns, perceptions, clusters of thoughts, depths of insights and much more. Consciousness does not share any such characteristics mentioned in the previous sentence.
Without consciousness, we could not know what the mind/brain/body experienced. Clarity in consciousness/mindfulness/awareness enables us to distinguish facts from fiction, true from the false, creativity from fantasy and insights from delusion.
The pleasures and pains in the body land due to events inside or outside the body/mind, including the brain. When the body ‘remembers’ these sensations this can recreate a similar experience. This increase in the sensation impact prevents us from seeing clearly ‘what is’ for itself. It gets covered up with the fuel of the past impressions/sensations.
Pleasure and pain experienced in various parts of the body manifest in a location without any parallel correlation in the brain. We might think we should experience pleasure/pain in the body as well as in the brain since the brain sends out and receives the signals from the body. But that is not the case. Yet pain can arise in the brain due to issues within and on the brain.
Consciousness does not confine itself to experiences of pleasure/pain tied up with a handful of pathways of neural events. We can embrace experiences of unity in the here and now, oneness of past, present and future and a choiceless, undivided awareness not restricted to nerve endings in the skin.
Some scientists claim consciousness is the ‘hard view’ to deal with – meaning difficult to address and comprehend. It is not. Scientists have to remember to include consciousness in the exploration of an integrated reality. Consciousness does not fit into the scientific model of reductionism because it is not a ‘thing’, an object, a material to be broken down into sub-atomic particles and further.
You cannot put consciousness under a microscope. The subject of observation cannot project itself to be the object of interest in the microscope
Mind the Gap
The gap between knowing of conscious directly through personal experience and knowing objects through scientific research needs to be bridged. If scientists find themselves unable to realise the bridge, they will consider conscious a great mystery or a hard issue.
Certain neuroscientists refuse to accept the potential for a deep connection between personal experience of consciousness and primary objects in the field of biology, chemistry, physics and mathematics. They draw the conclusion that consciousness works as a brain process in the neural mechanisms and activities. They determine consciousness as patterns in which neural groups fire.
There appears to be a gap between consciousness of an object and the personal experience of it. Neuroscience has the desire to explain mental processes as physical processes.
After decades of extensive research, neuroscience agrees that consciousness has no location in any part or region of the brain. Numerous investigations into the co-ordination of signals of neural activity still cannot reveal the specifics of consciousness.
Neuroscientists appear unwilling to accept they are looking in the wrong direction. An integrated science embraces both subject and object. It is like looking for your glasses to read a paper when you are already wearing them. Scientists can measure the inter-connected of networks and networks within networks. A healthy person in mind and body enables consciousness to reveal a major diversity of co-ordinated activities throughout every region of the brain without excluding consciousness.
Consciousness makes all this possible. The brain has no power to create consciousness, and consciousness has no power to create the brain. Both confirm each other. The experience of consciousness only emerges through the multiple causes and conditions in the brain, body and world around. That can only happen because consciousness is not the brain, body or the world around.
Consciousness has no self-existence. It has no soul, no independence. It is not something absolutely other to measurable objects; consciousness is nor permanent, nor eternal, nor unchanging. It is not transcendent and not known outside of the dynamics of existence.
Scientists cannot create the right conditions to simulate consciousness. If they could, they could simulate a person with subjective experiences who becomes conscious of the world.
It only takes a shift of understanding to end centuries of thought, speculation and attempts to measure consciousness. It would be appropriate to make a change from neuroscience to neuro-consciousness to show the mystery has come to an end. Neuro-consciousness combines a body of knowledge with first-hand experience to give support to clarity, insights and a liberating wisdom for the welfare of people, animals and the environment.
The efforts to integrate all activities from all parts of the brain to assert the presence of consciousness seems a perpetuation of going around the same circles. Consciousness never limits itself to the brain.
Scientists need to absorb four primary thoughts.
- You cannot create consciousness
- You cannot measure consciousness
- You cannot locate consciousness in any location in the brain
- You cannot reproduce consciousness through a combination of neural factors.
The regular description of consciousness as a ‘mere artefact of the brain’ or a ‘bizarre by-product of evolution’ insults the insights, creativity and intelligence found in sentient beings.
There is no evidence to show that a biological/physical/chemical process gives rise to consciousness and the personal subjective experience. There is only a single evidence for that – to create consciousness and a human being out of matter. It is a deluded belief to think that is possible. Such beliefs belong to Hollywood horror movies.
If the seat of consciousness exists in the brain, then brain photo images, powerful microscopes and mathematical data ought to show us the location of consciousness.
- What makes up consciousness?
- Can components of matter come together to produce consciousness?
- Why can’t science produce consciousness with its feelings, sensations, happiness, stress, thoughts and insights?
Neuroscience falls short in its analysis on important aspects of the human experience – consciousness, wisdom, love, compassion, memory, oneness and an expansive vision. Neuroscientists cannot tell us whether:
- The pathways and the plasticity of the brain carries consciousness along
- If consciousness suddenly appears as the result of these pathways
- Or both the above
- Or neither.
If nerve endings in the body caused the entire field of sensations, then we would only know a zombie like way of life – a life spent as a product of outbursts from the brain. That seems to be a warped and depressing view of life. If nerve endings do not cause all experiences, then what conditions also support a range of experiences?
- Does consciousness have a location in the brain?
- Does consciousness belong to the brain like wood belongs to trees?
- How can consciousness get outside the brain to analyse the brain in terms of biology, physics, chemistry and mathematics?
- How does consciousness interpret this lump of sentient matter located in the skull?
We have the capacity to develop ethics, empathy, depths of meditation, an expansive consciousness and wake up from living in the defined spell of the physical sciences.
Views based exclusively on biology and neuroscience at the expense of consciousness obscure liberating realisations. We need an integrated science and the integration of the brain with the mind,consciousness, the body and social/environmental influences.
This essay emphasises the dependent arising nature of consciousness and offers a criticism of any views in neuroscience, which tries to ignore or negate the significance of consciousness.
No Getting Away from Consciousness
Has your brain only evolved to optimise your odds of survival?
Evolutionary biologists have adopted the Darwinian view of nature and evolution. Your brain maximises the replicative potential of the genetic material for us to survive and reproduce. If so, we are beasts with words. Like any other creature, such as apes and centipedes, we merely endure life due to biological drives. Does that feel true?
- Have our brains evolved?
- Are we animals with a large vocabulary?
Neuroscience engages in exciting and new research but also supports ideological standpoints.
- Do scientists sincerely believe their world view reveals true reality?
- Does science abide in an enclosed system, which act as a spell over consciousness, the subject?
- Has science turned its back on consciousness? Watch your back!
Science needs teachings and practices for waking up, knowing an integrated reality and liberating realisations from living in the matrix. Habit, the repetition of the old, generates a consistency of using the same methodology and practices that make only minor alterations to viewpoints.
Scientists find themselves forgetful of the fact that consciousness participates in every single act of research, which generates an influence in the beginning, middle and end of research. Consciousness impacts on every conclusion, every paper and everything that flows on from the laboratory.
Under the influence of habit, science finds itself exaggerating the place of one aspect of phenomena over other aspects. This habit then effectively disassociates it from the range of causes and conditions that brought matter and the brain into focus in the first place. This includes everything past and present.
Insightful neuroscientists shed doubts about the endless concentration on the brain and the frequency of conclusions. Excessive attention to the brain imposes upon the perceiver the view that the brain has a substance that matters more than its dependent arising circumstances, near and far.
Features of the brain, such as serotonin, adrenaline and dopamine, can reinforce the impression that all our mental states spring from the condition of the brain at a time. The pharmaceutical industry has a vested interest in the public taking up this view. The manufacturers of medicine welcome the increase public reliance on medication to numb certain activities of the brain.
No ‘thing’ has any self-existence, including consciousness which reveals the mental/material world and thereby confirms itself. If consciousness is different from the mind, then it would experience the influence or impact of the variety of states of mind, healthy and unhealthy, welcome or unwelcome without need for a body.
If the consciousness is different from the body, then it would not depend on the body for its presence. Consciousness would not know death. We would be conscious forever without need for a brain or body. This would mean that consciousness does not dependently arise but is an eternal element. There is no evidence for personal immortality of consciousness.
Far too many neuroscientists have tied themselves down to the presence of a primary object, namely the brain. They have invested beliefs that the brain, mind and consciousness consist of neural activity. Owing to consciousness, we recognise diversity, makes comparison and forms judgement. We experience emotions, comes to deep insights and can realise an awakened life. We can ask the science of genes, an associate science of neuroscience, scientific based evidence to prove that consciousness is a subtle material.
- What DNA number shows that?
If we apportion excessive reality to an organ in the skull, then the brain appears as independent of the causes and conditions which produce it. The traditions of the East refer to such an error of judgement as living in maya – a belief in false impressions. Such impressions generate a delusion with the further delusion that the false will reveal reality.
Scientists would uncover much more about the reality of consciousness/mind/brain/body/environment if they meditated on the mutual inter-connectedness of all this. This seems unlikely.Medical industry and military establishment have paid out huge sums of money in research and salaries. Neuroscientists have spent years of research into the brain and psychology. They have built a career in the laboratory, experimented on poor animals with a wish to make a name for themselves.
Researchers worldwide continue to infect animals in laboratories with every virus available, as well as viruses created in the laboratory. It only takes a little carelessness on a single occasion for a virus to infect a researcher and then transfer to the public.
The Consequences of Exclusion
Exclusion of feelings, emotions, temperature, smells, tastes and touch from knowing, sets limits on reality. A defined reality finds itself tied down to mathematics, analysis and theories. Colours and sounds impact on human consciousness, without much mentioning in contemporary science.
Subatomic activity, waves and quarks take priority in a reality devoid of the spectrum of taste, odours, haptic and somatic experience, colours and sounds that fill our everyday lives. A definition of reality does not confirm true reality, but only confirms a view from a certain standpoint.
That view may be entirely accurate and based on sound evidence. Yet, it is still a view, a way of looking. Scientific reality only offers another view of reality made possible through exclusion of sections of the full experience of life.
We cannot explain non-matter (consciousness) through matter. Matter alone cannot explain the creative, imaginative and productive application of our engagement with the world. The extra-ordinary range and depths of human experience, gross and subtle, manifests through the inter-action of consciousness with matter. One side of the duality does not take precedence over the other side.
The forces of energy, matter and particles have no inherent capacity to reveal the expanse beyond measurement. Such expanse embraces the particles, waves, frequencies, matter, energy and the wealth of human experience.
Again, the ‘I’ and ‘my’ present another problem for the biologist. If the ‘I’ has a material base, then the scientist need to identify the location in the base for the self.
The Buddha and Science. Never the Twain Shall Meet.
The teachings of the Buddha and the teachings of science bear no relationship with each other, except to dismiss commonly held religious viewpoints of an eternal God, the Creator, who loves us.
We engage in this world with all aspects of our being enabling us to feel, think, speak and act. An intelligent person surely finds it galling to be reduced to movements in the brain, a single organ in the whole body. Yes, analysis of our neurology has a worthwhile place.
The Buddha teaches anatta – with its twofold meaning of non-self and no-self. The Dharma (teachings/practices laid out by the Buddha) makes clear that we can give attention (consciousness) to the body/mind process. An object of attention confirms that the object is not me, not myself, not who I am – to quote the Buddha. Practitioners meditate on this, reflect on this to reveal the non-self nature of all objects.
The subject, namely consciousness, reveals as not me, not myself, not who I am. The ‘I’ lands in consciousness or in the object. If the subject had a real self in it, then the self would never leave the subject, namely consciousness, not even fade into deep sleep.
No-self refers to the absence of self-existence of any so-called thing. I use a pen to write on a piece of paper. The pen consists of plastic, metal, ink, the assembly of parts, the influence of the factory, designer, workers and more. The pen has a no-self existence. The pen is completely contingent on widespread causes and conditions.
The same principle applies to the paper. Wood, trees, a paper-mill, workers, designers, nature and more enable the paper to be on the desk. The writer has no-self existence – memory, training, knowledge of a language, interest, motivation and more make it possible to write. There is no independent self-existence to the writer either. Pen and paper cannot cause a writer to appear.
Science can define reality in terms of energy, matter, chemistry, physics, biology in a non-self language. Science draws up a construct of reality, neglecting consciousness.
Dharma teachings include the full expanse of exploration. These explorations acknowledge that consciousness supports mind/matter and mind/matter supports consciousness.
To know and see reality, we participate in the exploration of an integrated, enfoldment of life. We recognise the way to apply practices to suffering and its resolution.
To their credit, thoughtful neuroscientists make clear their concerns about the severe limits of neuroscience leaving numerous unanswered questions in its wake. Neuroscience draws inferences based on research. Some scientists settle on faulty genes as a primary reason for suffering. This view neither goes deep enough nor wide enough to know and change the causes/conditions for suffering.
Intelligence and the Brain
Scientists cannot reach a consensus on intelligence. What do we need to realise wisdom in the face of circumstances?
In alphabetical order:
- Does intelligence belong to the mind?
- Environmental support?
- What impact does culture and society make on the brain?
- What impact does the state of the brain make on culture and society?
Consciousness reveals the nature of perceptions, views and analysis of experience as states of mind, the brain and biology. For neuroscientists, this makes consciousness the most inconvenient truth. We cannot dispense with consciousness simply because we do not approve of it or cannot prove it is found matter.
My own research online and in neuroscientist literature and scientific papers, reveals that the subject of consciousness barely gets a mention. It is like writing a vast array of literature on ‘wood’ without mentioning the word ‘trees.’
An analysis of the brain and of mind states needs to include reference to consciousness. Nobody can bypass the contribution of consciousness to reality.
The effort to press everything into matter reveals a narrow, dogmatic and ill-founded approach. If neurological processes govern our life, then we qualify as automatons. We find ourselves reduced to biochemistry.
Such views invite the application of chemicals to experience its impact. Scientists in California carried out experiments into the neurological benefits of a ‘compassion drug.’ Undertaken by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of California, San Francisco, the study found that prolonging the effects of dopamine causes people to be more sensitive to those worse off than themselves. A chemical, dopamine transmits signals between the nerve cells (neurons) of the brain.
Subjects in the study were given a drug that changed the neurochemical balance in the prefrontal cortex of their brain. Scientists concluded that these experiments resulted in a greater willingness to engage in ‘pro-social behaviours.’
For how long? The constant intake of chemicals into organic life might produce certain positive benefits or stave off unresolved mind/body issue for weeks, months or years. The day of reckoning will come. A compassion drug could lead to addiction, various mental health issues, depression, sickness or/and cancer.
The consciousness/mind/body/brain will succumb to the impact of chemicals or a cocktail of chemicals. A daily intake of a pill packed with chemicals will have in due course a numbing impact on consciousness. The stimulation of a neural substrate reveals an act of violence.
A Perverse Duality
Biological determinism versus free will are two viewpoints which form a perverse duality that haunts the daily life of science and philosophy whether acknowledged or not. Determinism and freewill reveal the ideology of extremism, which has no place in teachings and practices of waking up to reality.
Science struggles with the duality of hereditary/genetic influences shaping our life and social/environmental factors.
What percentage of our hereditary and genetic past shapes our cellular makeup?
What percentage of social/environmental influences shapes our cellular makeup?
What percentage does our behaviour depend on our cellular makeup?
What percentage rests in our upbringing/family/social/environmental influences?
There are numerous scientific views on what dominates human behaviour. Some us the language of nature versus nurture. A mind grabs one position, or the other, or both to draw conclusions. It is hard to find any scientific based evidence that answers these important questions. People cannot uphold a view of biological determinism for very long when it comes to decisions and actions. The same people cannot uphold freewill for very long when it comes to suffering in their lives.
Consciousness/mind/body uphold each other like three sheaths in mutual dependency in a field.
The brain changes when it experiences a traumatic impact such as alcohol addiction, regular use of drugs, excessive use of mobile phones/tablets/ computers/electronic gadgets. Tumours, traumas, cysts, diseased, poor diet, strokes, disease and weakening of mental faculties impact on significant sections of the brain. The mental impacts on the physical and the physical impacts on the mental.
We can offer views whether the matter occurs before the mind or the mind occurs before the matter, or both, or neither. The application of wise intention and action to resolve suffering takes priority.
Meditation on the Infinite
Does consciousness finds itself restricted to a tiny sense of reality, which the brain determines?
Scientists need to meditate on consciousness, not as an object for discovery in the brain, but through first-hand experience. The depths of such meditation reveal the inter-connectedness of consciousness with the brain, body and environment. This process will radically transform the priorities around science.
The insights will bridge the gap between science and consciousness to produce fundamental and irrevocable changes in science to reveal an integrated science.
Neuro-consciousness will address the fullness of life free from the anti-consciousness bias that continues to blight research. That does not mean that scientists must immerse themselves in the spiritual, religious, mystical or transcendental. Instead they can discover fresh insights and liberating realisations in the real world of the interaction of consciousness with matter and matter with consciousness. The personal and the impersonal can engage in a depth far more important than reductionism.
Scientists can give an equal amount of time to consciousness, through mindfulness, meditation, reflection, silence, solitude, teachings and practices for deep insights, deep realisations and a deep waking up.
This prepares the way for the scientist to see reality in fresh ways.
We let ourselves down if we reduce ourselves to a composite of neural activity. We are much more than that.
A meditator has access to a choiceless and expansive awareness of reality not confined to movements of the brain.
Authentic reality reveals the Infinite free from the conclusions of the finite mind, even if reasonably accurate. There is an opportunity to go deep within. The Infinite puts our life into a proper perspective. Meditation on the Infinite and reflection on the Immeasurable take priority.
We abide closer to reality, awakening and liberation than we think.
May all Beings Explore Consciousness
May all Beings Explore Causality
May all Beings know a Liberating Knowledge.
This is a chapter from a book
due to be published later in the year
titled The Power of Delusion