Consciousness IS

By Hugh H. Harrison

I first met Amit Goswami in the early 1980s when he and his wife came to Bandon, Oregon, to see the Continuum Exhibit that my wife and I had recently put on public display. This exhibit explored the possibility of consciousness continuing past death. We met again about two years ago, when I enrolled in his physics course ("primarily for non-science majors") at the University of Oregon. I have listened to and read about his ideas a great deal since. (His recent book, The Self-Aware Universe: How Consciousness Creates the Material Universe, was reviewed by Elsa-Brita Titchenell in the December 1993/January 1994 issue of Sunrise) Raised in a Brahman home in Calcutta, India, steeped in Vedanta, Goswami was formally educated in nuclear/quantum physics, and is now teaching, speaking, and writing on the role of consciousness in and on life. His bottom-line assertion is that "consciousness is the ground of all being."

I was attracted to this idea as the moth to the flame. About five months ago I began a limited survey of literature that dealt with the subject of consciousness, especially theosophical literature. Today I am surrounded by well over one hundred books and articles on the subject of consciousness, with more on the way.

I have not, and probably will not, read all of this material. Nor do I pursue it systematically. Instead, I sniff my way among this seeming immensity, much like a cat in a garden looking for goodies as it makes its erratic way. However, I have now developed a working sense for it, and wish to share some of the goodies I have so far found. I call this sharing

"Essence Statements"

I "Consciousness is the ground of all being," the root cause of all manifestation. Manifestation (coming into being) provides consciousness with ways to experience itself.

II All beings are informed (embodied) consciousness.

III All beings, though individual, are integral and inseparable parts of the one great and only Whole, much like the threads of a great carpet.

IV All beings -- whether electrons, molecules, rocks, plants, animals, people, planets, stars, or galaxies, because of the indwelling consciousness, contain within themselves the potential for everything -- in varying degrees of latency and actuality.

V Evolution is the process by which latency is unfolded into actuality. Involution is the process by which actuality is infolded into latency.

VI The processes of evolution and involution of beings are ongoing and continuous. They ever were, are now, and ever shall be.

VII Individual beings or monads live (experience their being) within an endless succession of forms which vary in ethereality or grossness (denseness), as well as in degrees of complexity of organization -- from a cell to a universe. Each of these forms or bodies is itself composed of other consciousness-centers in differing stages in their evolution.

VIII In all of nature (the domain of all beings) form follows function. As the evolving and involving experiential needs of the indwelling consciousness-center or monad change, so does the occupied form adapt to ever new requirements. Such body changes involve composition as well as configuration. In the case of earth-dwelling humans, early body forms were so ethereal as would be undetectable; later body forms were so different as to be unrecognizable as human by today's humans.

IX Human beings experience consciousness in varying ways while they are alive and occupying a body -- awake, asleep, hypnotized, drugged, alert, drowsy, meditating, angry, joyous, thoughtful, willful -- as well as while they are alive and not occupying a body (in various death states of consciousness).

X Consciousness comes into being in many ways -- in myriad forms, composing a comprehensive chain of interconnected and interrelated consciousness-centered beings. Those forms that can be detected tend to be called matter by today's scientists. Two of the most potent and ethereal of these forms -- not detectable by science and hence considered nonexistent in their own right -- are mind and spirit. Mind includes thought, intention, design, and plan. Spirit includes creativity, freedom, and love.

XI Man is dependent upon his senses and their mechanical extensions (microscope, telescope, X-ray, radio, etc.) to detect the existence and presence of items of matter (bodies of consciousness-centers). Because man is sense limited, he is not aware of much of manifested being.

XII Periodicity is a major characteristic of the workings of nature. The ceaseless tides of the seas, waking and sleeping, day and night, seasons of the year, breathing in and breathing out, the beating of the heart, the life and death cycles of atoms and galaxies -- these alternations between action and rest -- all are pulsing in rhythmic patterns, varying in frequency from incredibly fast to inconceivably slow.

XIII Nature's change processes are ceaseless and endless. The periods of time involved are staggering: infinitesimally short at one end and near infinitely long at the other end of the conceivable duration scale.

XIV The primary agents of evolution and involution are karma and reimbodiment. They impulse, guide, condition, and contain the experience possibilities of beings in their evolutionary travels within the range appropriate to their individual stage of development from atom to stone to bird to human to star.

XV All of this pertains to the grand cycle of the emergence of the individual consciousness-center from the inconceivable, inexpressible, unconditioned be-ness (H. P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine 1:7, 14, &c) consciousness source; through its experience of the full range of possible being-experiences, and its consequent ultimate development into a being capable of returning home to unconditioned be-ness consciousness.

After-Thought: Consciousness, as a molecule of water, experiences its being across a relatively wide range of form possibilities: in ethereal form as an invisible component of a clear summer sky (its presence acknowledged by the weatherman as measured humidity), as a component of a vapor trail formed by disturbance from a passing airplane, as part of various clouds, as coastal fog, as valley mist, as a plume of steam from an industrial plant; in liquid form as part of a drop in an ocean, lake, stream, spring, or dew; in solid form as part of a snowflake, hailstone, frost particle, or solid sheet of ice covering a lake. Much as the human monad, it is transformed from ethereal, invisible existence to solid, rather fixed existence and back again to its original state of being, a useful example of the endless evolution and involution of any consciousness-center being.

(From Sunrise magazine, April/May 1995; copyright © 1995 Theosophical University Press)

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The huge concentric waves of universal life are shoreless. The starry sky that we study is but a partial appearance. We grasp but a few meshes of the vast network of existence. -- Victor Hugo