Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Everything is Conscious

Have you ever said to yourself "this room feels comfortable", "the weather feels gloomy", "these flowers liven up the room", etc.?  Or have you ever looked at a scenic view and felt joy from the beauty?  We often say or feel these things, but never really consider that this is a form of communication from the environment.  When we think of communication, we think of movements and sounds coming from "conscious" creatures.  We place consciousness in creatures because we can observe them changing as they please, whether it's moving from place to place, creating or destroying, and most importantly interacting and communicating with one another.  But if we consider how we feel when we see non-living things, it can be said that these non-living things are also communicating to us.  Let me explain why that is.

We look at ourselves and most will think "That's me", while other's may feel like "That's not me".  Our identifying with the form gives us a false sense of awareness of our self.  We use our form to recognize our conscious existence.  But without the form, we still would recognize our conscious existence.  You don't have to see it or feel it to know you exist.  The same is true for any form or shape, whether it be living or non-living, though our ideas of perception will obviously differ from anything non-human.  In physical reality, the form also gives others awareness (this does not imply visual) of its existence, be it a plant a rock or an animal, but the form itself recognizes its own consciousness.  I cannot "see" or "feel" your consciousness, but I can see and feel your form, and as I cannot physically see or feel the consciousness of any other physical shape or form, I can see the consciousness' proxy, which is the form.  Our distinction between living and non-living is only based on our preconceived notions about what it means to be living, that something living grows and is animate.  In particular, we limit consciousness to only those shapes and forms that communicate.  We assume that any object that cannot communicate, like rocks and plants, is not conscious.

Was it not us humans that proclaimed that we are alive?  Was it not us humans that said "That is living" and "That is not"?  Did we not label all the things we can see and not see?  If we are the ones who gave these classifications to everything, then does that mean we created the universe?  Yes and no.  Yes because our true self along with all other consciousness (not just humans) decided to have this experience.  No because we as the human ego (a part of our physical form) are also a part of the created universe, but because we are so used to seeing the world around us from our own perspective, we only see what we want to see, and only believe what we want to believe.  It does not cross our mind that "they" (meaning non-humans) recognize "us" just as "we" recognize "them".  Everything that is not "us" we view as inferior because they do not appear to think like us.  It never crosses our mind that our limited perspective is what makes us feel so much more powerful, more intelligent, and more "right" in what we think and what we do.  But we are just a tiny speck in the cosmos, smaller than an atom to the universe.  And yet, we believe we are the center of that universe.  Nothing else can exist, if not for humans.  How ignorant is the closed mind of the supposed intellectual, whose whole existence is viewed from a frail body that is born and dies, living on a single planet in the middle of an infinite universe.  Nothing else except that intellectual human can be viewed as being conscious, because it said so.

We are creatures that live in a system of time.  Time is what we feel when we observe changes occurring.  But time is a relative experience.  We see living things at a rate of change that is very close to our speed of observation.  But if you consider that there can be faster or slower rates of change, then at those time frames of observation, you would also see change no different from living things.  From this perspective, it's easier to grasp that everything is alive through change.  The life of a living cell is only hours, but the life of a human that is made up of cells (which gives the body its life cycle) is in decades.  Similarly, the life of a planet may be millions of years which is made up of rocks, plants, animals and water (which gives the planet its life cycle), but the life of a galaxy is billions of years which is made of up planets and stars (which gives the galaxy its life cycle).

When you look at something, say a tree, you don't need to know it's called a "tree".  It is what it is, and you recognize it for what it is.  It is only our behavior of labeling everything that we call it a "tree".   In the same way, we are what we are, just as the tree is what it is.  We do not need to label ourselves because our very conscious awareness of the self demonstrates our existence.  If you did not recognize yourself, would you exist?  It would not matter if anyone else recognized your existence, since you yourself would be unaware, if you did not recognize yourself as existing.  This is the philosophical reason why everything that we recognize also recognizes itself.  A rock is aware of itself, no less than you are aware of yourself, and thus everything is conscious.  Nothing can exist without its own awareness through consciousness.  You may not accept this notion, but if you were a rock, without anyone telling you what a rock is or having eyes to deceive you with its very specific point of view, would you know you were a rock?  You take for granted that someone taught you to label things and to view the world from a specific point of view (that you are human, and that humans are the only "intelligent" beings), and so you forget that you are no different from anything else existing in this world.

Everything we observe is a gradation of consciousness and its need to experience.  Consciousness is not the same thing as human perception and awareness.  That is merely one form of consciousness and the only one that humans are aware of because it is what humans use to perceive.  But just as there are more than humans in the world, there are more than just one type of consciousness.  The rock has a type of consciousness that does not need physical perceptions or physical activity, but it's desire and intent to experience brings about its existence in form, having perceived change over thousands of years.  The plant has a type of consciousness with more desires or intents, and thus it is like a living "rock", "alive" (having change through growth), changing over a short or long period of perceived time.  The animal has a type of consciousness that "desires" even more experience, thus it is a plant capable of movement and action.  The human animal has an even more curious consciousness capable of not only movement and action, but creative thought and manipulation, and thus it is a thinking animal.  Beyond this form, there is a multitude of other consciousness that have desires and intents, all of them changing over differing amounts of perceived time (time is a consequence of physical reality, so outside of physicality, consciousness does not experience time and thus is not limited by it).  What we see or not see as our reality is a layered gradation of consciousness, one growing "out" of and alongside another.  The basis for all existence stems from desire and intent, and everything is evolving towards fulfilling that goal within an infinite universe of possibilities.

Most people believe that the brain is the source of consciousness.  But if you've ever studied the medical cases of patients with brain injuries, what you'll find is that most of the patients can no longer manipulate their bodies properly.  This could be motor, lingual, cognitive, recall, or a combination.  But to conclude that consciousness is affected would be a serious error since one cannot determine if the patient isn't trying to express themselves, but the body simply is no longer able to.  Cause and effect is misdiagnosed in these cases, which is exemplified with those patients who are comatose, but still conscious.  The inability to express one's consciousness does not mean they are unconscious or that they've lost some aspects of their intelligence.  Dementia, Alzheimers, Parkinsons, and other neurological disorders are also merely physical defects of the brain, not of consciousness.  It is only because people believe that consciousness and the brain are one and the same that they cannot understand how consciousness, and thus the identity, can exist outside of the form.  If you can accept that the form does not create consciousness, then all form can and does express itself through their own kind of consciousness and their own kind of communication.

When people communicate, we use words or expressions to convey a message.  That message has two components: symbolism/thought and emotion.  The symbolism is the conveyance of a concept that we interpret into something either as form or knowledge.  For example, when I talk about a car, I don't have to describe it to convey the concept to another person who knows what a car is.  Therefore, I am conveying knowledge, and from that knowledge we can visualize a form.  But when I talk about a math formula you know nothing about, I have to give that knowledge to you and so it remains a concept without form (form in this case means something that you can understand and "grasp" mentally).  The other aspect of communication is emotion.  When I say the word "car", you may feel excited and joyful about the subject matter, or you may feel indifferent or even scared if you've had a bad experience in a car.  As humans, we use our mouths (or hands) to communicate with one another because in the physical body, that is how we transmit our thoughts and feelings to another.  In certain animals, they use other forms such as chemicals or gestures.  So all communication, when broken down, really is about conveying thought and emotion, regardless of the mechanism used.

The difference we attribute to living things (animals specifically.  We'll consider plants like non-living things in terms of communication, but here's an interesting article about how flowers communicate: Read.  I've written before that all communication is through energy transference, similar to how our nervous system communicates) vs. non-living things is that the form of communication is overt (obvious) with living things.  You can hear sounds come from the mouth of animals including the human animal.  Even without sounds, you can see gestures and recognize what it means to some degree.  This ability to recognize gestures as communication is a very interesting aspect.  When I was studying for my Cognitive Science degree, this aspect really intrigued me.  The fact that we "know" when we see an animal's behavior what it wants, or how an infant recognizes our own feelings simply by our facial expression, made me wonder what communication really is.  It's obvious that sounds from our mouth is only one form of communication.  Given that we can intuit the thoughts and emotions through gesture and expression, why would anyone say there is no communication from non-living things, especially since they too form gestures and expressions in their own manner?

When we view something scenic, we take in that view and associate some emotion (or none at all).  But it could be argued that the environment is forming its expression through the scenery.  It may not change positions, but it can change in condition.  For example, a wooded area may feel ominous because it is dark, or it may feel distraught or sad if it is damaged or destroyed, or it may feel lively and carefree if it is sunny with the leaves blowing and the bird chirping.  This is one way to interpret the environment as thoughts and feelings.  Just as a human body is composed of many parts, the environment is composed of many parts to create a single form (the planet) and that form communicates with us in its own language.

We can even communicate with man-made objects such as a car or a house.  We decorate and customize them to feel a certain way, and by our taking care of these things, the car or house feels differently than if they were not taken care of.  If a person was not taken care of with love, that person would feel different to another.  In the same way, objects that are not taken care of with love will also feel different.  Walk into an abandoned house, and you'll instantly feel its thoughts and emotions as being gloomy and frightening.  But walk into a house that is well kept and enjoyed will feel welcoming and inviting.  This isn't some trick of the mind, nor am I trying to personify inanimate objects with human qualities.  The fact is, this is a form of communication and we pick up on it just as a baby picks up on expressions of people without what we normally consider communication.  All communication is psychic.  It is psychic because that is how thought and emotion is conveyed.  Gestures and verbal communication are the physical manifestations of these psychic thoughts and emotions.  Most people are trained from early childhood to only respond to these physical forms of communication, but those whose psychic abilities are somewhat developed (all have this ability to varying degree or we wouldn't be able to communicate at all) can and do use their inner form for communication.  That's why some people can finish another's sentence, or they just "know" about another's psychological condition, and others can communicate with the spirit world, or plants, or animals, or even crystals.

So what does feeling one way or another around non-living things have to do with consciousness?  How does feelings represent consciousness, especially if it could be argued that my feelings are from me, not something I'm picking up from my surroundings?  The idea of something being conscious needs to be understood before it can be discussed.  Everyone's idea about what constitutes consciousness differs to some degree, but in general, anything that is aware of itself is conscious.  Herein lies the problem.  How do you know I'm conscious or anyone else is conscious besides yourself?  It's because of movement that we define something as conscious or not.  For most of modern human history, anyone without a response was considered unconscious.  A person without mental facilities were also considered unconscious.  The widely accepted notion of consciousness is that a living thing responds to communication.  So a person in a coma would be considered unconscious.  Recently, scientists are now just beginning to question this notion from observations of persons in a coma being able to respond through non-traditional communications.  And then there are the countless anecdotes of people who have had conscious activity from their perspective while visibly unconscious or clinically dead to everyone else.

Our ideas about what constitutes consciousness is a slippery slope because we can only prove our own consciousness as being real.  We infer that others like us are conscious because we accept our own consciousness.  We also accept that other living beings are conscious by their demonstration of behavior.  So if communication is the defining behavior of consciousness, then it only requires a means to communicate to verify consciousness.  It's easy when you're communicating verbally, but there are many other ways to communicate, as I've stated, some which we know of, and others we do not.  Because of this, we cannot know if something we consider non-living is or isn't capable of communicating.  The self-awareness or lack thereof outside of ourselves cannot be proven.  While one might argue that the internal organs in a comatose person are still functioning and thus is considered conscious, I would argue that the atoms in a rock, the same as that which make up the organs and the body, are also functioning as consciousness.  Our whole point of view is to look outward from our body, and from that point of view, we see an infinite universe, filled with planets and stars in an endless space.  On those planets, including Earth, if we peer "into" the Earth, we can see an infinite variety of living and what we think of as "non-living" organisms.  But if we changed our direction of view inwards into the body, we would also see an infinite variety of cells, molecules, atoms, sub-atomic particles, but from this perspective, none of these things can supposedly communicate and yet they are in perfect cooperation with each other.  In another way, if you somehow shrunk to the size of an ant, the Earth would be the universe to you.  And if you grew larger and was able to see the universe from the perspective as a planet, you wouldn't just see galaxies as something larger than you, but you'd likely see multiple universes.  And if you could imagine yourself beyond even a physical consciousness, you would see the infinite realities that exist!  This infinite variety of perception comes about because of the infinite variety of consciousness that exists, not just one specific type called human consciousness that we only consider being real and not just one single point of perception.  We tend to look only on the surface and only from one point of view for obvious signs of consciousness, without considering what the surface is really made of or what is behind the surface.

Consider the fact that many people believe consciousness is a product of the human brain.  But this presupposes that anything with a lesser brain structure is incapable of being self-aware.  It also presupposes that anything without a brain is incapable of being conscious at all.  But if that is the case, what does consciousness really mean?   As I said, you cannot know if anyone or anything is conscious except for yourself.  Any belief in anyone else's consciousness is a product of reasoning.  Since that is the case, isn't it obvious that our reasoning for what is and isn't conscious is the limiting factor?  We don't know, so we assume anything else not like the self is unconscious, or at the least less conscious.  You must realize that such broad assumptions defy the obvious truth of nature.  If you look at anything without a brain, they still have behavior in one way or another.  Even the single-celled amoeba is able to "live" without a brain.  Is it self-aware?  If you consider it's desire to survive, then yes.  But even without such behavior, the fact that it exists means it must be conscious of itself.  This is because it has free-will, which is the impetus for form (the desire to have a physical experience, which is the true source of the "beginning" for the physical universe).  It doesn't act in a set pattern, though it has a limited set of behavior within this reality.  Even the atom with its even more limited "observable" behavior in this reality has free-will since it must "come into existence" within this reality to allow larger forms like the amoeba to be visible.  Why does existing mean it is conscious of itself?  This goes back to the philosophical question of "why am I here?"  Why is anything in this reality here?  Why does there have to be a "big bang" or "creation"?  Some will argue that there doesn't need to be a reason, that "it just is" without any set purpose.  But this argument is simply deflecting the question, by avoiding the question with a straw man response ("why does there need to be a reason?").  I argue that the very fact that anything in this reality exists is purely by will.  If everything that exists is by chance (ignoring the existence of laws), then obviously there is no purpose, but examining the very nature and structure of this reality shows there is purpose for everything (why is there a planet to live on? why do we need to eat? why is there molecules? etc.).  Arguing that the order and structure that exists is through the process of elimination again means there is purpose since elimination of anything is purpose (see No such thing as "random" for more on this subject).  Any time there is purpose, there is a will behind it and consciousness directs the will.  Anyone who argues that there is no purpose is simply ignoring the facts; that everything in this reality works perfectly together from the largest of the celestial bodies to the tiniest of known particles.  To argue that random chance could form this order again ignores the facts: laws exist and the universe follows those laws.  If everything is random (a random system must be random all the time, not just at some point in time), laws could not exist nor would laws be followed.

None of this means I'm telling you to start talking to inanimate objects since verbal communication is a human behavior.  But thoughts and feelings can be conveyed to all forms since they make up the true method of communication.  And those thoughts and feelings do come back to us from those things we view as inanimate because all matter is conscious.  All things are made from the elementary particles of matter, which is energy.  What aspect of form creates consciousness?  What property of the brain separates it from other forms of matter that it would be the container for consciousness?  Not all forms of consciousness behave in the same way, nor do they utilize all of its focus.  A rock does not use its consciousness to look around or try to change it's experience, unlike a human consciousness.  All things in this world are being what it should be, and so they are being what they want to experience.  Time outside of this reality does not exist, so to us who view the world in terms of years, consciousness in, say, a rock sees it as just another experience that is passing by and has passed by, even after billions of years.  When we die, we too will realize that "a billion years" is a meaningless concept.

Now you might be thinking "That's silly.  If everything was conscious, why doesn't a rock do something other than be a rock?"   This line of thinking presupposes that to be alive and conscious means being able to take actions that are visible.  But consider that humans are doing what they do because that is how human consciousness acts.  Likewise, a rock is doing what it is supposed to do - in this case, being a rock - because it is acting upon its consciousness also.  You might say "But I can do whatever I want to that rock and it can't deny me, so it can't be conscious."  Yes, you can pick up a rock and break it, throw it, or whatever you want, but in a way, it's no different than a person who instructs another person to do what they want.  The other person, depending on circumstances, willingly obeys your instruction.  But that doesn't mean the individual isn't their own consciousness with their own free will.  In the same way that an employee does what their employer instructs, a rock, or any other "non-living" consciousness as matter, agrees to "obey" those "other" types of consciousness that are able to manipulate as part of the whole physical experience.  Also, breaking apart a rock does not mean it is no longer a rock.  The wholeness or fragmented nature of something like a rock is only a limitation of perspective.  You might see the rock break into two and think I "killed" the rock, but then again, that rock was just a tiny portion of the ground, which is just a portion of the earth, which is just a portion of the solar system, etc.

Together, all consciousness in this reality are playing their role to learn and develop themselves as individual consciousness.  Just as those things we consider "living" are evolving, so too are the non-living, down to the elementary particles.  In fact, it is the evolution of energy into elements we call quarks, which evolved into protons and neutrons, which evolved into atoms, which evolved into molecules, etc.  Everything is conscious and everything exists to evolve itself into higher and higher forms of consciousness.  We are just one form of consciousness, created through the combination of other consciousnesses.

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