An End to Upside Down Thinking: Dispelling the Myth That the Brain Produces Consciousness, and the Implications for Everyday Life. Written by Mark Gober.
Does consciousness come before matter, or from matter??
Materialism is the concept that the brain produces consciousness (consciousness comes from matter). Materialism views the world as having been made first from matter (atoms, electrons, etc.) that formed into chemical reactions, that then formed DNA and biological organisms, which developed brains, that then developed consciousness. This has always seemed backwards to me – the intelligence in it seemed misplaced. How could such complex biological organisms have come about by the accident of evolution?
The idea that the brain produces consciousness means to me that once we die, there is nothing left. How does that work with past lives? Or Near Death Experiences? The idea of materialism has never made sense to me – not at the intellectual level, nor at the gut level. It never passed the smell test. Taught Newtonian physics (which I hated) in school, and trying to reconcile materialism with my own gut belief that something was not right with it, it was a relief to hear about quantum mechanics (aka quantum physics.)
Yet it seemed that what I had learned in school (Newtonian physics) had a stranglehold on my mind. I could think about quantum mechanics and what it meant for the universe, but not believe it. What I had been taught was too strong. Think of someone who is convinced that the world is flat and the sun circles around it – it seems obvious, right, that the sun circles the earth? That person might be very hard to convince – and in fact, it took years for the theory to be accepted as correct – just as I could read about quantum mechanics but not be convinced by them. (Fortunately, I was NOT taught flat earth theory in school.) The book, An End to Upside Down Thinking: Dispelling the Myth That the Brain Produces Consciousness, and the Implications for Everyday Life, has really helped me let go of Newtonian physics and materialism as my ruling (although conflicted) theory of the world.
What if consciousness underlies matter? This is what our spiritual masters have been telling us – that we are not bodies, limited to matter; but unlimited spirit (consciousness). Quantum physics (aka quantum mechanics) has been around since the start of the 20th centre. In 1931, Max Planck, widely regarded as one of the fathers of quantum physics, stated, “I regard consciousness as fundamental. I regard matter as derivative from consciousness. We cannot get behind consciousness. Everything we talk about, everything that we regard as existing, postulates consciousness.” Science seems to be agreeing with spirituality.
One very interesting idea in the book is that our brains act as filters for consciousness, narrowing down our full awareness of consciousness. Certainly we learn to rely on our senses, which give us only a narrow sliver of the electromagnetic and audio spectrums that science knows exists. We humans cannot see or hear outside our tiny range although many animals can see and hear much more of the spectrum than we can. It is safe to argue that our brain and sensory system limit our awareness of the full electromagnetic and audio spectrum. Could it be that our brains also limit our awareness of full consciousness?
Looking at the conscious awareness of our great spiritual teachers (Jesus, Buddha, for example) it seems clear that they knew more and saw more than we did. Jesus raised people from the dead and healed, instantly, showing that bodies are just plasticene to someone in full awareness of consciousness. In full consciousness, we become One with All – a very different state of consciousness than normally experienced by anyone. A Course In Miracles asks us to see beyond the bodies and form. Numerous spiritual leaders ask us to be only in the moment of now, a very different consciousness than usual in a world where the past and future occupy most of our minds.
Another idea from the book is that reduced brain functioning increases full consciousness – that shutting down the brain, or part of it, increases our awareness of full consciousness. That reminded me of Jill Bolte Taylor, the neuroscientist who had a massive stroke but remained aware of what was happening. Her consciousness appeared to expand as the brain shut down.
We also know that in near death experiences, people come back with lucid memories of what happened while they were dead – with no brain activity at all – as well as memories of an experience of greatly expanded consciousness.
Could it be that consciousness underlies all matter?
While the book brings in examples of telepathy, remote viewing, psychic abilities of animals and humans on random number generators, and more, these are brought in as support for the main theory: consciousness underlies everything. These abilities make sense in a world where consciousness starts everything.
These ideas were discussed on the radio show, Consciousness, Ego & Enlightenment. To hear the show, click here: http://traffic.libsyn.com/undotheego/CEE_An_End_to_Upside_Down_Thinking_Jan_8_2019.mp3