What makes a man? What does it take to live like a king?
The Buddha said that to enjoy good health, to bring true happiness to one's family, to bring peace to all, one must first discipline and control one's own mind. If a man can control his mind he can find the way to Enlightenment, and all wisdom and virtue will naturally come to him.
A couple thousand years ago, a man named Paul wrote a letter from Rome during his imprisonment there. He wrote to his friends that his joy would be fulfilled if they were likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind, looking not on their own things, but minding the things of others. He taught them to have a mindset as it was in Christ and equal with God. [Philippians 2:2-6]
Paul refers to the mind. When we refer to the mind, we're talking about consciousness, your thinking mind, your mindset, that which goes on inside your head. Consciousness is awareness, being aware, aware of something outside yourself or of a reality within oneself. Consciousness is the subjective experience of internal and external phenomenal words. It has been defined as: sentience, awareness, subjectivity, the ability to experience or to feel, wakefulness, having a sense of selfhood, and the mind's control system.
Consciousness is central to understanding, meaning and freedom of choice. We see reality, the universe, ourselves, and God based upon our consciousness.
The definition of consciousness is not clear and not agreed upon universally. But there exists a broadly shared understanding about what consciousness is. Consciousness is being aware, psychologically or spiritually, and having a intuitive knowledge of yourself. And for a king to be truthful in everything in life, he must know himself. As Shakespeare wrote, "to thine own self be true." [Hamlet Act 1, Scene 3] In order to be truthful, in order to be true to others and yourself, you have to know yourself, and know what you're thinking. Consciousness is central to understanding, meaning, choice, and free will. How we view reality depends upon consciousness. Consciousness defines us.
Two Types of Consciousness
There are two types of consciousness: (1) senses and (2) spiritual. The senses consciousness is related to raw experience, including movement, seeing, hearing, tasting, touching, smelling, emotions, and feelings. This type of consciousness has much to do with our physical presence. Spiritual consciousness is related to our thinking, reasoning, and perception. This type of consciousness has much to do with our thoughts, intention, communication, and beliefs.
Our minds are not our bodies. The non-physical (mind, consciousness) is not physical. The mind is in control of the body. Mind over matter. The mind and body, including the brain, are two different things.
Rene Descartes in early 1600's believed there was a clear difference between mind and body. We refer to this as Cartesian dualism. He said that the mind (immaterial) was different from the body (material), but could influence it. For Descartes, consciousness resides in res cogitans (the realm of thought), and physical things resides in res extensa (the realm of extension). And the the two essentially meet in the brain. Dualism is a philosophical belief compatible with most theologies that claim that immortal spirit distinctly exists independently from a physical body. And your consciousness is that which is in between your presence in the physical world and the spiritual world.
Next, let's talk about where this midpoint, consciousness, is located.
Consciousness is In the Brain
Consciousness resides in the brain. But how does that happen? We know a lot about the brain and how it functions. But how the brain produces consciousness is still a bit of a mystery. Scientists propose that consciousness emerges from very complex computations among the brain's 100,000,000,000 neurons, which receive and send electrical impulses. The brain can work like a computer that accounts for the non-conscious functions that include a lot of our mental processing and behavior. For example, we don't normally have awareness of our heart beats. That "easy problem" of pumping blood through our veins is solved by a non-conscious part of our brain system. The hard problem to solve is understanding how the brain handles extraordinary conscious experiences and subjective feelings, referred to by scientists as "qualia."
In the brain stem, there is a particular clump of nuclei, inner parts of cells that contain DNA genetic material, called the raphe nuclei. The raphe nuclei are located along the midline of the brainstem, and centered around the reticular formation, one of the phylogenetically (evolution) oldest portions of the brain, and is the intermeshed neural network throughout the entire the brainstem.
The axons, long projections of nerve fibres transmitting electrical information from cells bodies to neurons, from the raphe nuclei neurons make up a neurotransmitter system that reaches almost every part of the central nervous system. Neuroscience shows that nuclei in the thalamus, midbrain, and pons, located at the brainstem, are fully functioning and aroused when a person is mentally focused and actively thinking. Some axons of neurons that stem from the raphe nuclie reach the cerebellum and spinal cord, while other axons spread throughout the entire brain, including the cerebral cortex. So, when you're thinking, focused, meditating, praying, your entire brain is lit up and connected.
The Cerebral Cortex
The cerebral cortex is the outermost layered structure of the brain, referred to as the gray matter, and is involved with sensory, motor, and association (or abstract perceptual experience) functions. The cerebral cortex may be where consciousness resides, where the physical meets the spiritual, material meets immaterial. Just underneath the cerebral cortex is a mass of gray matter called the basal ganglia. The basal ganglia nuclei receive input from the substantia nigra of the midbrain. The substantia nigra is the largest nucleus of the midbrain with a compact cluster structure of neurons. The cerebral cortex, the substantia nigra and the raphe nuclei send signals back and forth to each other, vastly impacting the entire central nervous system. The nuclei in the cerebral cortex enable consciousness, where mental activity is linked to axons (sending electrical information) and dendrites (receiving electrical information) throughout the brain and central nervous system of the entire body.
Brain matter, including dentrites, axons, and nuclei, can be studied and understood, because we can see it. But what about the stuff that's happening in the brain that we can't see? Let's talk about that next.
Classical physics can not entirely explain consciousness, but quantum physics may. Quantum physics is strange and wonderful, and is the science of the very small. Classical physics deals with things we see and interact with in our every day lives (our bodies, apples falling from trees, water boiling, etc.) the very large things we see in the universe (celestial bodies, black holes, planetary movement, etc.), which can be described by Newton's laws of motion, classical mechanics, Einstein's general relativity, electromagnetism, thermodynamics, and other theories that do not incorporate quantum physics.
So, what does quantum physics show us, and how does that help us in understanding consciousness in the brain?
Quantum Physics and Quantum Field
Quantum physics shows that physical, material objects in our universe are formed out of the quantum field. This omnipresent energy is referred to by physicists as a measurable quantum field, from which you, me, and everything else in our physical world are created. The quantum field is an invisible field of energy that represents all possibilities. It is everything and nothing simultaneously. It holds the potential to become anything and everything. Everything in the physical world, everything, at their core essence, are created from a field of unlimited possibility, what physicists call the quantum field. And actually it is our observation and expectation of what we observe that brings about the creation of our material world. Quantum physics shows that reality is an interplay, a dance, between observer and the material world.
Observing Makes Something Out of Nothing and the Double-Slit Experiment
Quantum physics is crazy, huh? Perplexing, for sure. Quantum physicists have proven that you can create something out of nothing, create things seen from things unseen. The details of quantum physics is not simple to understand. However, the only thing you need to know about quantum physics is what happens when you perform a particular physics experiment called the double slit experiment.
The double-slit experiment shows that our observations make subatomic particles change from "potential" to "material." Subatomic particles drop out of the field of unlimited potential and become something real, and it's because our expectations make that happen. Subatomic particles are the tiny building blocks from which all material objects are created, and they exist in a field of pure potential energy until they are observed. Each physical object in the universe is not actually physical present and material until it is first observed. Until they are observed, subatomic particles have only the potential to become material.
Time Space Events
When something potential in the quantum field of energy, the quantum possibility wave, is created into physical, material form, that's what physicists call a "time space event." You create a time place event by observing it, thinking of it, and believing it. A time space event occurs when a group of subatomic particles have abandoned their potential state and become an actual, physical thing in the material world - moving from immaterial to material simply by a conscious act. Physicists call this time space event as a collapse. When something is created, the quantum possibility wave collapses. It collapses from a state of possibility (immaterial) and forms a real, physical object (material).
Every material object that we see in the universe was once part of the quantum possibility wave, quantum field, prior to your observation and awareness of it. Even your own physical body was once a part of the quantum field. The world does not preexist prior to the observation of it. That's a scientific fact of how the universe is built.
The universe's basic building block, the atom, isn't physical. It actually has no physical properties at all. Atoms are particles that form a world of potentialities and possibilities of the quantum field. This means that the brain must also have a role in the quantum field, just as the atoms that make it up have.
Some theorists have proposed quantum theories of consciousness such as Karl Pribram (Georgetown University) and David Bohm (Fellow of the Royal Society), Stuart Hameroff (University of Arizona) and Roger Penrose (Cambridge). Quantum physics could play an important part in the brain's function, and could form the basis of an explanation of consciousness.
Roger Penrose in January 2014 determined that wave function collapse can be a physical event caused by consciousness that can not be mathematically computed (non-computed). In 2013, Stuart Hameroff and Roger Penrose announced that the National Institute for Materials Science in Japan discovered quantum vibrations in microtubules, which show quantum entanglement and form macroscopic quantum features across an extended area of the brain. This confirms their hypothesis that consciousness experience could collapse a wave function.
But where in the brain would a wave function collapse?
Quantum Field Collapses and Microtubules
There are protein polymers called microtubules in your brain, and quantum field collapses occur in microtubules all across the entire brain. Neurons are made of dendrites and cell bodies that receive and send signals along a single axon. Microtubual quantum computation occurs in dendrites and cell bodies of brain neurons. Consciousness moves around areas of the brain that have entangled microtubules carrying out quantum computations.
The function and structure of microtubules suggest that they function as a type of biomolecular quantum computer. Microtubules are hollow cylinders of tubulin chains (protofilaments) that are only 25 nanometers in diameter. They establish a cell's shape, direct growth, and organize the function of cells, including brain neurons. The illustration is of a microtubule with dimer proteins (black and white) in a lattice configuration. In large arrays, microtubules are comparable to computational systems that process information.
Each tubulin in a microtubule lattice can switch between black and white states (1 or 0). Each cell interacting with its neighbor cells in a lattice grid can, thereby, perform complex computations. Each state of tubulin acts as bits, switching between states (1 or 0) at 107 per second, and interact with neighboring tubulin bit states. The total brain capacity at the microtubule level with 1011 neurons, 103 synapses per neuron, and 102 transmissions per synapse per second, you have 1026 operations per second. Some Buddhists, like the Sarvaastivaadins, have described 6,480,000 moments in a 24-hour period can be experienced by the brain. At any one moment of consciousness, ten to 100 thousand neurons in a coherent set are involved (Hebb 1949, Eccles 1992, Crick and Koch 1990, Scott 1995) and are distributed in a wide pattern throughout the brain.
Microtubules are the structures that form biological quantum computation that lead to actual conscious experiences. For a moment of consciousness to occur, billions of tubulines, a sufficient amount of material, are required until some threshold for a self-collapse occurrence. Consciousness moves around the brain in zones of synchronized entangled microtubules that carry out quantum computations. This high capacity of the brain with mircrotubule-based computing inside neurons could account for our learning, memory, and foundation of consciousness.
But high computational capacity does not account for consciousness. You need believing.
Quantum Field of Possibility and Believing
Physicists call the field of pure potential energy as the quantum field or the quantum possibility wave. The quantum field is an invisible energy field that is everywhere, all around us and through us, like waves and photons of quantum electrodynamic energy. The quantum field of possibility is omnipresent. It's everywhere, in everything. It actually represents the true nature and essence of our universe. The quantum field is an invisible energy field that inherently possesses the potential to become anything at all. This invisible energy is a state of pure potentiality. It waits for you to command it to become material by your believing, by your observation, by your expectation as the double-slit experiment proves.
Eugene Wigner said, "When the province of physical theory was extended to encompass microscopic phenomena through the creation of quantum mechanics, the concept of consciousness came to the fore again. It was not possible to formulate the laws of quantum mechanics in a fully consistent way without reference to the consciousness."
Consciousness Connects Our Minds and the Universe
Consciousness and the material world are connected to each other, complementary aspects of one reality of both micro and macro worlds. Consciousness is a field phenomenon, similar to but preceding the quantum field. It has complementarity, non-locality, and undivided wholeness. The reason that our minds mesh so well with nature, mathematics and physics is because they all come from the same stuff of the universe, and all (everything in the universe, including our selves) operate under the same unifying principles of quantum mechanics. The ontology of science is undivided wholeness at every level, from micro to macro.
Science has shown that you create from the quantum field everything that is, everything you see, and everything you experience in the universe with your mind, thoughts, intention, observation - your consciousness. Sounds like science fiction, but it's not.
All physical matter in the universe waits, in a state of infinite possibility, for you to manifest the material world from it. The material world does not pre-exist, awaiting your observation; you create the material world from your observations and believing.
Consciousness is the connection between the mind, the universe and God. Man has a relationship (fellowship) with God because of consciousness. For example, Krishna consciousness is an intimate linkage between the mind of a worshipper and the god Krishna. Consciousness is the foundation for having an awareness of life and the order of the universe. Consciousness makes one capable of transcending animal instincts and reaching a point of contact with God. It's what Paul refers to as walking in the spirit (Galatians 5:25).
Being conscious is not itself a way to becoming enlightened. Consciousness is simply being aware. It's in your believing action that you connect with God. Believing. One must believe. And it's a decision one makes in order to connect with, have a relationship, a fellowship, with God.
Believing in the spirit, or having holy spirit and taking believing action, is referred to by many as: super consciousness, objective consciousness, Buddhic consciousness, cosmic consciousness, God-consciousness, and Christ consciousness. They all are expressions used in various spiritual and intellectual traditions to denote the consciousness of a human being who has reached some type of higher level of awareness and understanding.
Believing & Power
The Buddha said, "The mind is everything. What you think you become." Consciousness and the universe are connected to each other. What you believe is what you become. Jesus said that if you can believe, then all things are possible to him that believeth [Mark 9:23]. There is power in believing, and we have easy access to that power. That power can enable us to do all things, overcome our shortcomings, and bring victory to our lives. This power is from God. The key is knowing and receiving this power.
You may be interested in reading "Believing Equals Receiving."