posted on Oct, 27 2014 @ 01:28 AM
In reading over a lot of the discussions here about 'other worldly' matters, I often notice a lack of talk about the self and the brain.
This is odd and weirdly out-of-touch with contemporary science and theory. Cognitive science, for example, has consistently shown that the mind has
biases; unconsciously, our personal brain is being 'activated' - as a process, lets not forget this fundamental fact by getting lost in the
abstraction of 'representation' - by an external stimulus. Its hard to quite say "what" the brain is 'picking up'. When I look this way or that
way, for example, my attention and my focus, in something as subtle as a particular angle of focus - best for light; my brain accounts for this.
If I were to get a sledgehammer, walk behind you and whack you behind your head, right where the occipital lobe lies, I could make you blind. If, of
course, the blunt force of the hit didn't lead to inexorable hemorrhaging.
That's sort of the story. Our back of the brain gives us vision (which is why someone born blind will never be able to see: the part of the brain
'fitted' for vision has been taken over by other sense modalities, such as touch and hearing) the sides give us hearing; the top spatial awareness;
the front, executive and regulatory functions - this is where our sense of "i" resides.
Thats pretty freaking crazy ^^^, eh? It never ceases to amaze me how our minds - my subjective experience - is being mediated, moment by moment, by a
flesh brain, with some sort of electricity passing through it. And there's tiny little chemical pockets which mean something - happiness and
exuberance are dopamine; anxiety is cortisol; depression is dynorphin; focus is a bit of adrenaline, a bit of cortisol, dopamine, serotonin and.....a
# load other chemicals in subtle and mysterious combinations. Even what we do know - simple correlations - is but a drop of the actual neurolochemical
When we dream, where are we? It's incredibly bizarre if you really think about it. Were alive, walking in bodies during the day. We have thoughts and
feelings; social connections that are important to us. There's a sky above and land below. I know i am on the planet earth, orbiting the sun. Which
orbits a galactic center. Which moves aimlessly through the wide vastness of an infinite space.
But when I dream, I am IN something; my self - my very personal reality. The things which happen "out there" - my little thoughts and feelings,
become analogized, symbolized, when I close my eyes and pass into unconsciousness. This is mostly indisputable. If I have to piss while I sleep and
dream, it'll manifest as some water image; or some action that implies the need to "release".
Yet in this image could be other symbolic images; the dream could be symbolic at one point, materializing in situations and contexts redolent of your
awake life; situations that are unresolved or need resolving. There is an "emotional" packet; some event which cognition in the upper part of the
cortex keep "feeding into" in the subcotical areas of our brain. Some basic primary "feeling" - what we call emotion - speaking upwards to the top
of our brain. This could actually be a way to characterize "dreaming" - if youre a radical behaviorist.
Still, it is amazing that specific locations in our brain correspond to specific elements of consciousness. We know that we can kill a person by
destroying neurons in the periaquductal gray - a deep region at the upper part of the brain stem. If you were to surgically destroy (not possible in
humans without killing the person by other means) neurons here, you'd lose the part of the brain that creates the chemicals which initiate
"consciousness or awakeness". Children born with anencephaly have no cortex - under an MRI you see a hallow skull with only a brain stem. These
children are awake, but essentially blind to what their seeing. They only feel. What? We know they respond to basic cues; laughter when nice sounds or
tactile sensation occurs (showing that the brain stem plays a part in basic sensory experiences); fear when there are loud noises or aggressive
movement. These kids have an intact PAG.
Yet in addition to the brain - to the personally "coded" experiences somehow physically present as protein clusters, that being the popular working
assumption - there's also the belief that the mind, whatever it is, isn't actually limited to the brain. But can extend beyond it.
In Buddhism, there's an interesting distinction between whats called "consciousness" and "fundamental consciousness". The former is everything
that comes with having a human brain and body. The latter is whats left when you take that brain and body away. What could that be, this remainder? I
imagine it is a base reality, 'consciousness", which precedes and ultimately subsumes everything that is made material by a physical body. It is
nothingness. But yet still, paradoxically, a "something", a "deep sleep" quality of awareness. Of course, no activity occurs in this state; you
veritably do no exist. Yet, there is still movement. This is what is implied by Eastern theories of reincarnation. Bodies and the universe is
activity: a 'world of motion'. This is a pretty deep ontological vantage point on things; the human mind measures the source of existence - we
contain all levels of it in our experience and even in our daily rhythms - wake, dream, deep sleep.
Yet there are arguments made against this view. Although memory has never been found - and may never be found - in the human brain, there are attempts
nevertheless to explain it as such; a particular experience for example can be 'physically' monitored; the neuronal movements can be mapped, which
will imply a technology that can see INTO neurons and all the protein movements occurring therein. Since this will involve millions of processes
within a single neuron, we'll need an impressive supercomputer to do all this. But lets say we do all, and discover that "this" cluster of neurons
corresponds to this memory; and show it that everytime this memory is activated, these proteins are assembled just like that. It seems almost absurd
in the complexity; and even logically, we know that correlation isn't causation, and that is the real kicker about science and mind. You can't ever
prove or unprove it. It just is: it stays as it is and we live as we live, and in the end, we die, and we dissolve into the earth. And us, who we were
and are, as living breathing beings, with minds mapping our environments, mapping our own "internal" environments if were particularly attuned to
ourselves, and were faced with this horrific, yet etheral fact: our bodies will die. Our brains will not get the oxygen it needs to function. The
cells which literally make us up will still keep going, but ME, I, an emergent property - apparently - of this cellular universe, will disappear, back
into the cosmic stream of vapors; of subtle, spiritual motions that live, perhaps, at a higher dimensionality?
Its so odd, yet endlessly interesting and beautiful. We can't ever know how life is or came to be. We can't know our ending; we can only wonder at
the fact of time, of motion, of life. The fact of "it is", and "I am", at every moment, at any time you want bring it to mind; you can change your
thought, re-engineer the qualities and aspects of your mind. Be many because you know at root the idea of being one is also a fiction.