This thread probably won't live very long, but I didn't want to burden the Ego and Self thread with these considerations.
I'll post later some of the links for the data, but at base the topics I have in mind involve the research showing that volition arises mainly as subconscious activity, and that parapsychological research, such as done at PEAR program at Princeton, shows that the ability of human awareness to interact at distances, and even with machines, suggests a subconscious dynamic.
I'm also interested in applying Christian metaphysics to these findings re: consciousness, as the assumptions re: human capacities popular among New Age authors seem rather ludicrous, even while the PSI research does indirectly support a non-reductionistic model.
Here are a few of those links:
Well I hope it stays alive...that's a fascinating line of thought. I'm not sure if this falls under the category, so I'll ask. Say a person has a dream in which certain events take place. Another person is involved in an actual event. Then, in conversation, the person who was involved in an actual event relates it to the one who had the dream. The one who had the dream tells of it and the experience being viewed in the dream is pretty much the actual experience the other had...except that in the dream symbols were used in certain parts.
I had this experience once. I was in the actual experience, while another, almost at the exact same time was having a dream that reflected the experience with some use of symbols, yet not totally symbolic.
Er...hope that made a lick o' sense.
The link to Noetic Sciences Institute may have some studies going on attempting to document such communication; it is similar to mothers feeling their children are in danger even though separated by miles. The Rupert Sheldrake link has studies showing animals at home going to the door and waiting for their masters when the master is paged by a third party to go home (this is also the basis of one of his books). And then there are the Remote Starring studies, which Sheldrake covers in his most recent book, where Subject B is hooked up to EEG and EKG and a galvanic system that reads changes in skin temperature, sitting in a room reading magazines with a T.V. on but no picture (and told nothing about the experiment), while subject A is many feet or miles away and focuses intense emotion on a closed-curcuit T.V. screen showing subject B at random intervals. The findings are fairly impressive, as subject B's physiological measures are distinct during the periods he/she is being starred at, but return to base-line when the starring ceases.
Dreams seem to allow us access to this more complex subconscious intelligence, so no surprise to me such things would happen.
Some of the most intriguing, and somewhat inspiring, research to date comes from the Heart Math Institute. If you go to their website, click on research, and register, you'll have access to their published papers. Do a word search under "intuition heart" (no quotation marks), and you'll pull up references to Rolan McCraty's research showing the heart as the primary processor of intuitive information about future events.
In that research, which was conducted by Dean Radin earlier-on, but not measured in terms of the heart, EEG, EKG and skin conductance measures all show that in many subjects there is an alteration in heart variability signature, and I think other cardiac measures, a few seconds prior to the subject being shown emotionally sitmulating (often disturbing) pictures; this didn't occur when the pictures were more neutral. And it turns out that women have more facility in this than men, which reminds of the mother's capacity to sense the well-being of her children regardless of distances. Fathers can respond in this way as well, but I suspect the womb experience for the mother makes her especially, and generally, more disposed to these heart attunements.
McCraty's follow-up study shows that the intuitively captured information in subjects is processed in the heart first, then sent to the brain, and so studies such as Benjamin Libet's showing activity of the unconscious will preceeding most conscious intentional activity may be measuring in the wrong place, or simply not showing the full involvement of the human organism, since motor movement and verbal reporting dependent upon the brain will always lag behind these subtler, more energy-field dependent transactions.
McCraty also suggests different kinds of stimulating pictures may be needed for men's greater intuitive responsiveness, which I suppose is his way of politely alluding to porn.
Here is a link to part of Rupert Sheldrake's debate with skeptics over a special issue in the Journal of Consciousness Studies where remote staring studies were examined:
So this research, which seems to have a fairly strong, positive scientific appraisal (even where skeptics marshall such weak criticisms, as can be seen on the link above where Sheldrake responds to their scrutinies), suggests that Libet's notion of unconscious volition governing the experience of conscious intention needs to account for aspects of organismic intelligence that function independently of/interdependently with, the central nervous system, especially given the non-local field effect.
HeartMath research shows, additionally, that the heart's electromagnetic field is much stronger than that produced by the brain; this field immanates several feet from the body in their measurements. Moreover, when healers using non-touch treatment of clients focus their heart energy/compassion, the healer's EKG appears as a signature within the EEG of the client; this appears more strongly when touch is involved.
What unfortunately is implied in all of this, or how it is often taken up among New Agers, is that quantum dynamics are unlimited, and the source of creation, rather than an expression of the indeterminancy involved in any observation not arising from the Eternal (where seeing is to create). The closest these folks can come to such claims is appeal to "human potential," and the siddhis of the ancient rishis that have no modern counterpart. Needless to say, the rishis did more levitating than claiming to create out of nothing or defy death. Such extraordinary powers behave according to laws which quantum dynamics are limited to as well, especially since the latter is constrained via the presence of the observer. As such, appealing to quantum theories for an explanation of the universe is still a reference to created, contingent beings who cannot create, or replicate the original conditions that gave rise to matter and energy out of nothing.
And so its seems that quantum dynamics more likely describe our participation in the universe than a model for how the universe arose in the first place.
Quantam indeterminancy, where potentiality and actuality can't be embraced in human awareness simultaneously, may express our fallenness and the contingency of our being as creatures. To live completely in the present moment with all faculties permanently unified would be an act of the Eternal we are simply not capable of. And so we are receivers, not creators. We cannot resolve indeterminancy, which is our freedom to consent, as it reflects the non-divine nature of human being. So if human beings were divine, the quantum nature of consciousness would have already demonstrated omnipotence via our participation as observers.
Only one could say: "I have the power to lay down my life, and the power to take it up again."
Just another summary, or re-iteration, of how Libet's finding of unconscious volition manifests from a broader perspective than that provided by reductionistic science:
Per the HeartMath research cited above, the intuitive ability to pre-cognize future emotional events registered in the heart's nervous system prior to brain recognition would probably correspond to Libet's unconscious volitional response. Given the heart's involvement in embodying intuition in this way, and its role in predicting, and protecting from disaster, one could also say this is an expression of the non-reflective Self as Phil describes on another thread. I would posit this as the functioning of the Self given its involvement in such intimate, non-local/psychic affairs, yet capable of serving a survival purpose, rather than merely a pre-wired biological function.
And so it seems that Libet's central nervous system pre-conscious volitional response (what he calls readiness potential) already involves a pre-conscious non-local intuitive response, perhaps involving the body's energy field leading to first a registration in the heart and then the brain. From this pov, western science is too far down stream to notice. As such, the conscious Ego response lags behind not merely an instinctual organismic response, but an intuitive-energetic awareness that is pre-conscious to the Ego but manifesting the non-reflective function of the Self realized in the heart.
Other research also already mentioned, such as Radin's and Sheldrake's and Braud's and Schlitz', show this subconscious intuitive capacity involved when people know they are being starred at, which has been controlled carefully under laboratory conditions mentioned above in order to weed-out any other explanations.
The unconscious pre-cognition demonstrated in the HeartMath studies indicates something rather mundane: we are functioning routinely according to this capacity, as awareness of strong emotional events comprises much of daily experience. The research by Sheldrake and others showing subconscious recognition of being starred at also suggests a primary and common orientation to the world, as awareness of the intent and presence of others has not only survival value but gives us a sense of boundary and existential connection re: being seen and being seeable and seeing others. Another HeartMath study, again already cited, where the recipient's EEG exhibits the giver's ECG may further account for how starring is intrusive, whereas inviting being seen generates a different internal state.
Based on the above, Libet's findings per a reductionistic mind-body model of a primary subconscious will can extend our understanding of Self, and its interactions with the more consciously experienced Ego, as a relational dynamic that embodies both quantum and electro-magnetic field effects both for mind-body functioning and relatedness to others. And, the fact that none of these non-local features constitute omnipotence, omnipresence or omniscience further differentiates the contingency of the human soul from Divinity.
And so much of the True Self's function seems to lie below conscious awareness for most of us, but not so far that we can't know and feel its greater relational disposition compared to how we're mostly contracted and withdrawn from a living gestalt always impinging on us in some way. We can trust, and wonder about, this organismic intelligence waiting to do in conscious awareness what it already does for us in such profound ways subconsciously, and again, not merely in terms of survival, but as that feeling awareness which embodies the life of life at the level of natural grace.
And so in this context, the Self isn't merely observing that we are aware, but is opening subconsciously to the giving and receiving innate to its function and the world's co-extensive presence. Natural grace endows us with the ability to open to this richness, which is the background of creaturely beingness upheld by God.
I've found that allowing myself to not know how to access this allows it to come, of its own, from the background to the foreground of awareness, to become conscious in moments that I can't deliberately extend via Ego awareness. There is some general sense, or trust, that the world, and my own embodied soul, are already functioning in this way, and I am simply, barely, unaware of it.
You probably have already read McTaggart's "The Field" - more for a lay person, but interesting as well in regard to the general topic. Maybe another thousand years or so are needed to realistically bridge the divide between the spiritual and material but we do live in interesting times. Quantum physics seems to be in a holding pattern in the attempt at a Grand Unified Theory, which I've always assumed would be of help to those coming at the topic from the realm of the spiritual, I'm beginning to wonder if someone like William Day, a chemist, might not end up breaking the logjam - with his assertions that motion and structure are inseparable.
Re: "Quantam indeterminancy, where potentiality and actuality can't be embraced in human awareness simultaneously, may express our fallenness and the contingency of our being as creatures. To live completely in the present moment with all faculties permanently unified would be an act of the Eternal we are simply not capable of. And so we are receivers, not creators. We cannot resolve indeterminancy, which is our freedom to consent, as it reflects the non-divine nature of human being. So if human beings were divine, the quantum nature of consciousness would have already demonstrated omnipotence via our participation as observers."
I would agree that humans are probably not capable of "eternally" sustaining a state of unity, but it could be argued that even Jesus the Christ, described such a tenuousness of the process in words ascribed to him. But, making the leap that if we were capable of it, we would have already demonstrated it? - doesn't leave much room for growth, in the spiritual or scientific realm.
For those who have experienced shifts in external reality structures after even accidental unity moments, the subject is much too interesting to dismiss. There have been several religious "groups" making a stab at it in the past - each with their own unique approaches, primarily focused on physical healing, but I believe the New Testament. Jesus both demonstrated it and described it. That it was teachable - yes, perhaps only by him - but not to just a dozen deciples. I recall the number as 40 or was it 70 that was mentioned?
Approaching It as a discipline may not be so inaccessible as we believe.
My concern would be with the kind of "crazy wisdom" found in Tibetan Buddhism that seems to so easily justify immoral behavior in the name of "siddhis," or special powers. So it's my impression that probably most human beings degenerate under the weight of these psychic faculties when developed with demonstration of divinity in mind, as the false self is capable of ennervating itself into most anything.
The issues I'm pointing to on this thread suggest that these psychic faculties are best left to the subconscious, as that domain of awareness is capable of managing complexity which the conscious mind is so easily overwhelmed with, and addicted to. Knowing at a distance when one's child is hurting, or when one is being starred at, may not actually be evidence for our potential for some new world order, but more so an indication of our contingency as mortal beings.
As for Jesus, what comes to mind is the scene in one of the synoptic gospels where an invalid is brought to Him. The Pharisees who were most adversarial (some were apparently friendly, inspired by and inquiring of Jesus) raised a stink when, after His spending semi-private time with invalid, Jesus tells the man His sins are forgiven. Now, you may already know this, but for a Jew, especially in that era, to pronounce forgiveness of sins was the most grave blasphemy on the books; it was simply considered impossible, and the height of either deludeness or evil. Yet, He was reading Scripture in their Temple, and considered a significant Rabbi.
What could Jesus have been thinking about himself? Well, He seems to not have given it much thought until reading their minds, or over-hearing their bitter gossip. IOW, He didn't seem to think He was exercising authority beyond His reach, yet was entirely Jewish. So this was no guy with a vitally different belief system, but actually acting as though He were God. NO LESS.
But He really weighs in on this whole issue of psychic phenomenon which is so enthralling for us dying mortals. He asks the Pharisees: "Which do you think is more difficult: to forgive sins or to heal the body? But so you know the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins . . . " He then heals the man physically.
Forgiving sins isn't simply some manner of comfort over woundedness, or some energetic healing of the heart chakra, but a specific kind of presence that we human beings barely impart to each other; it's not about being made to feel better about one's emotions, but a radical access to the very heart/conscience of the soul which one inviolable human being doesn't have with another.
We can forgive a friend for hurting us, but we can't forgive him for hurting others or himself. This is the key difference between Jesus and human spiritual adepts, and such a contrast wasn't lost on anybody who saw that healing of the heart and body take place. The early church put the story into its canon, among so many others, not to witness to Jesus as a miracle worker, but to show the unique character of His healing capacity as God incarnate.
Given the importance of the heart in relation to the soul and its mostly subconscious expression as the true self, it shouldn't be a surprise to find human love rooted beyond itself in a Creator whose potentiality and actuality are the same. IOW, human love is no more its own cause than matter its own origin; otherwise it would generate immortality from sheer gratitude.
Moreover, gratitude implying the "I-Thou" relationship, we see at the most refined level of the heart our sense of contingency.
Here's an article by a psychiatrist that apparently Merton corresponded with at one time:
The reason I post it here is for at least three reasons:
1) an experience of the "witness" I had this morning;
2) the way intuitive awareness, even pre-cognition, is processed through the heart, and how we might consider this in relation to that witnessing function which appears to have no affective component;
3) the Holy Spirit seeming distinct from either the witness or the intuitive faculty or the ordinary emotional responses, however they may manifest;
This will take a few posts to even begin to form a provisional framework for such ideas, and much of it will probably remain vague, as this witnessing self remains, it seems, beyond being made a content of consciousness, and the Holy Spirit being inherently mysterious to creatures, even intuitively.
The HeartMath research cited earlier on this thread is compelling when you consider it alongside the massive amount of data confirming the existence of extrasensory awareness, much of which is summarized in Dean Radin's new book, "Entangled Minds: Extrasensory Experiences In a Quantum Reality."
Here are some excerpts from the HeartMath research on intuition, the heart, and pre-cognition:
"Of greatest significance here is our major finding: namely, the eletrophysiological evidence that the heart is directly involved in the processing of information about a future emotional stimulus seconds before the body actually experiences the stimulus (part 1)."
" . . . our major finding: namely, that both the heart and the brain to receive and respond to information about a future emotional stimulus prior to actually experiencing the stimulus (the heart response preceeds the brain response in this study - my emphasis added here) . . . . Assuming these psychophysiological effects continue to be demonstrated in future research, they are strong evidence for the idea that intuitive processes involve the body accesssing a field of information that is not limited by the constraints of space and time. More specifically, the provide a compelling basis for the proposition that the body accesses a field of potential energy - that exists as a domain apart from space-time reality - into which information about "future" events is spectrally enfolded (part 2)."
Now, what is more that just fascinating to me is how the "witness," which seems to have no alliance or preference re: emotional content, would be embodied via the intuitive faculties through the heart where more refined or subtle feeling awareness is experienced, such as praise, gratitude, and love. In fact, in the HeartMath studies, "appreciation" is the state of being that most activates the heart's capacity to access the pre-cognitive domain of non-local awareness.
And so there seems to be a connection between the "witness," intuition, and the heart as the seat of loving awareness both before and during conscious recognition.
What got me started on this, again, was something that happened this morning:
I nearly died.
That'll get you started early !!!!
No, I probably wasn't close to death, but I was beginning to exit my body in the midst of a spell of sleep apnea, for which I'll be undergoing a sleep study soon. In any case, this annoying condition did impart a rather profound experience of the "witness," unlike previous lesser encounters, and showed that what seems to stand in the way of conscious awareness of the "witness" is identification with mental-emotional contents, although trying to rid oneself of such impediments is simply futile. So those of you without an affective ego, such as Phil, will probably find all of this rather pedestrian fare.
Well, I was just laying there minding my own business . . . . at some point while asleep I become aware that I'm struggling to breathe, except there are several of "me" involved here: there's the me that desperately wants to breathe, along with the body making a disgusting-sounding attempt to do so. Now, the real trouble with this was that the "witness" didn't have a preference one way or the other. Here "I" am, starting to lose all consciousness, which might have led to death or serious, employment-ending brain injury, and the part of me I'll call "attention" is getting more and more drawn to this state of "witnessing" and away from the bodily arresting chore of unclogging my larynx.
I've watched a lot of people die, and it really does seem that this witness capacity is involved, along with the luminosity of the dying process as the soul's presence disentangles itself from the body i.e, the soft glow in the room, and as other presences, or dis-incarnate souls, appear to the dying patient i.e. peaceful presence accompanying the glow.
So I'm starting to lose consciousness, along with interest in fighting the cause, but seem to get some air into my lungs which reminded me more deeply how fond "I" am of breathing, and then begin to go the other way, with the "witness" becoming increasingly remote, yet remaining just where it always is.
The sucker's always there looking, and you can't look at "him" looking at you because you can't make him an object of consciounsess. Even when it came to life and death urgency, the witness wasn't drawn in or frightened in the least. There wasn't a wanting to die, but just attention being drawn to this fearless stillness that saw it all happening, and still present in the midst of all activity even now, although I believe, now, that this secrecy allows it to smirk.
Now this next part probably belongs to the thread Healing the False Self, but I'll put it here because it reminds of what I think I see going on in babies:
Babies, when securely attached, seem to relax back into this witness consciousness, and then are drawn into relational awareness gradually, and in moments when the parent engages them. So much of what the HeartMath studies show about the heart manifesting intuitive awareness must be involved between infants and parents as well.
Fosha's work emphasizes this heart resonance between therapist and client, where one is seen and heard and the therapist holds you in his/her mind and heart, and the various faculties that seem involved in becoming a fully alive human being are drawn into concert with each other.
But as sound and essential as this seems to be for living a compassionate, meaningful life, the "witness" still seems to have no preference.
I don't know what the witness is doing, or how it is responding, during infusions of grace via the Holy Spirit. There may be some receptivity at this level, as in a response of "awe," but I'm not sure.
I'm just sure I need the sleep study, that "I" prefer breathing to not breathing, and that the witness is somehow comforting to have encountered in such a stark and convincing way.
But, hey Buddy, don't just stand there in the middle of the road with all this traffic!!
So I'm guessing that folks like Bernadette Roberts have stumbled, more or less permanently, into this witnessing consciousness. And as I recall their accounts, there final episodes of affective-ego identity seem to include a kind of death to that awareness and the seeing of the world through the witnessing mirror.
OK, that's pretty much along the lines of what I was talking about as Self and Ego, w.c., and how Self incarnates as Ego. You seem to be describing the first, subtle movements in that direction.
I know what you mean. I recall a similar experience in my life around 1985 and it left a permanent change in my consciousness. You might also check into Ramana Maharishi's "death experience" and how it led to his experience of enlightenment.
That's an excellent description of what I was trying to say about Self in the "Ego and Self" thread. Self as Subject-of-attention, non-reflective consciousness, witness, spiritual consciousness of the soul, etc.
And as transcendent of pain and fear as that witnessing state was, where I felt like that would be the post death perspective, it was most certainly not the Holy Spirit. In fact, the experience just further contrasts natural and supernatural grace.
I just read this thread for the first time tonight, having follwed Stever DE here: it was where he was last seen. I'm a fan of Sheldrake because he opens up the range of what counts as, scientifically speaking, possible.
I'm having a feeling of connection with others at a distance all the time lately. For example, today at work I was proclaiming my admiration for Van Gough's "starry night;" going on about how I had seen it at MOMA and how it was my favorite painting. Twenty minutes later, a new guy shows up for work wearing a reproduction of starry night t-shirt.
But I am persuaded by your wisdom in the following:
Well put. Thanks for this thread.
Thanks for dropping in on this one, Ryan. My fascination with the topic comes from personal experience as well, but is also based upon what seem errant Eastern notions, i.e, where consciousness/faculties are equated with the Divine.
Would you go so far as to say that Jesus' ability to read hearts and heal at a distance were part of his human nature rather than his divinity?
Interesting question, but His humanity and Divinity being inseperable might make it moot. Raising the dead, creating out of nothing, and actually forgiving others their own sins (distinct from us asking each other for forgiveness) suggests a completely different order or capacity involved.
Interesting list. How about taking it a step further? The kind of death that he died is what suggests he was of a different order -- outwardly a horrible curse yet spiritually a glorious gift, a death that all humanity can participate in by faith.
Yes: a far cry from even exceptional states of human consciousness.
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