In ancient Greece at the time of the birth of Western civilization, there was a center, a place of wisdom. This place was the oracle in Delphi, which was the place where people came to seek insight and guidance. Upon the oracle was written “Know Thyself;” to know yourself was regarded as the most important insight—the height of wisdom.
The old Greeks asked the same question that Rene Descartes asked again more than two thousand years later: Who am I? To know who you are is to know your true self, and as Descartes wanted to point to the essence of our being, so did the Greeks, desiring to guide the way to this same center of our existence.
Consciousness—to be aware—is the first state of being. It is our first experience and that which exists before anything else. It is the core of our existence, and the essence of our being. Knowing this center of our being is thereby the meaning center of existence. This the Greeks understood, and their most holy place was dedicated to answering this question.
This is also what we found in the Bible before, where God said to Moses: “I AM WHO AM.”[i] Thereby, God is “HE WHO IS” or “being itself,”[ii] which is the answer to the question. God is the center of being—the essence of existence. And with the highest wisdom telling us to know ourselves—the question; who am I becomes the key in our search for Truth and the nature of God.
Science tells us that the universe is made of energy, but information is just as important an ingredient. We can see this in the case of DNA, which is the genetic information of life, and without which there could be no life. The big question in science about DNA is where this information comes from—what is the origin of biological information?
Classical science is having great trouble answering this question. It has been said that human DNA contains more organized information than the entire Encyclopedia Britannica. Even Bill Gates has been humble enough to explain just how complicated it is: “DNA is like a software program, only much more complex than anything we’ve ever devised.”[iii]
The problem that classical science faces is that it claims that something came out of nothing, which is logically impossible. This something out of nothing is similar to the Bible where God creates the world in seven days, also out of nothing. N. C. Panda, makes the joking remark about this classical view, and says that, “Science, being materialistic, rejected the Creator, but did not abandon the concept of creation out of nothing.”[iv] As God said, “Let there be light,” so Darwinists said, “Let there be consciousness.”
Darwinism claims that consciousness evolved out of biology—something unconscious developed consciousness—but the problem is that classical science cannot account for what produces consciousness. In The Case for a Creator, Lee Strobel quotes Colin McGinn asking the question in a very humorous way: “How did evolution convert the water of biological tissue into the wine of consciousness?”[v]
On other issues, such as the big bang, scientists do not seem to disagree; the big bang could not have come out of nothing—something must have been before. From my experience of a non-material reality outside the body, it seems very clear that science, and especially classical science needs to catch up on the question of consciousness. It seems that pure consciousness does exist ‘out there’ beyond the body in another dimension, and with almost 96 percent of the universe being unknown to us, there is really something for science to investigate.
Consciousness studies are a fairly new field within science, even though we can go far back to Descartes’ conviction that the body and mind are separate. In Infinite Mind, Dr. Valerie Hunt explains that early in the last century, neurologist Sir Arthur Sherrington did not believe that the body and mind were one. Then later, Karl Pribram received a Nobel Prize for his brain hologram research, where he pointed to that the holographic images that we see in our mind, were in fact existing outside the brain.[vi]
More recently, contemporary neurosurgeon Wilder Penfield discovered that the anaesthetized mind continued to work even thought the brain was inactive: “Brain waves were found to be nearly absent while the mind was just as active as it was in normal states.”[vii] Penfield concluded that, “it is the mind which experiences and it is the brain which records the experience.”[viii] He, as well as many scientists, was unable to find the mind’s energy source within the brain, and therefore, he concluded that the mind is primary to thought. He also believed that the mind is the stream of consciousness.[ix]
Valerie Hunt sums up in her book that mind cannot be explained in a material framework because “the mind is more a field reality, a quantum reality.”[x] This leads us into quantum theory and the new studies on consciousness. Basically, as we saw, the science predicts that space is not empty, but the fundamental level of the universe, or the vacuum, is full of consciousness as a quantum field of energy.
This is not a new idea, since we can also find in ancient Hindu religion that the source of the manifested universe is Brahman—pure consciousness. As this idea is part of religion and the mystical experience, it is also part of the near-death experience where some people, including myself, experience a state of pure consciousness.
Also as we went through earlier, in Buddhism we find that the fundamental reality is called Buddha nature, or clear light nature. The experience of this clear light of the ultimate reality is similar to the core experience of the near-death experience of meeting the light. In this experience there seems to be no distinction between the light and the mind, and it has been directly suggested that the light and mind are one, or the mind is a matrix for the light.[xi]
Here again I find Dr. Stuart Hameroff very interesting as he attempts to explain, from a scientific viewpoint, how the out-of-dimension and near-death experience is possible. He suggests that,
Let’s say consciousness already occurs at the Planck scale [fundamental level], and is connected to our brains by quantum interactions. Let’s say the brain stops working, but the quantum information is still present. Maybe that information could leak out into space-time, outside the brain.[xii]
This would be a theory on how it is possible for the mind to leave the body in the out-of-dimension experience. Consciousness is in and around everything in the universe, and therefore, it can both be experienced inside and outside the brain.
Hameroff sums this up in the following manner:
Consciousness is a self-organizing process at this fundamental level of the universe—we are really the universe. We are a process occurring at this basic level. So we are connected to the universe, and we are also connected to each other, because the universe has this property of non-locality; everything is connected to everything. So it’s a kind of spiritual thing because basically we are the fundamental level of the universe.[xiii]
Consciousness is the ground of being and that makes us, when we are conscious, the fundamental level of the universe. We are that which is—being itself. This scientific theory makes a lot of sense to me, because it directly describes my experience. I experienced my true nature as pure and absolute consciousness, exactly as if the essence of my being was the true nature of reality. I believe that the near-death research is an important piece of evidence that points in the direction of this new science.
One near-death account comes very close to describing exactly this point: “It totally absorbed my consciousness. It seemed to radiate from the very center of the consciousness I was in and to shine out in every direction through the infinite expanses of the universe.”[xiv]
Another scientist, Amit Goswami, concludes the same: “The universe is self-aware, but it is self-aware through us. We are the meaning of the universe. We are not the geographical center of the universe—Copernicus was right about that—but we are the meaning center of the universe.”[xv]
If this is so, then, how do we experience the meaning center of the universe—our true nature? To experience the center of our being, we need to go beyond the brain—beyond the world that is defined by our senses. This means that we need to go beyond the material world, which is why it is so difficult for science.
Dr. Andrew Newberg, author of The Mystical Mind and professor at the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center, explains that,
There is no real way to get outside of the brain, and in some senses, we have to have the brain get out of its own way, in order to see what is really out there. And since we can’t do that, at least from a scientific perspective, we have to turn to a more experiential perspective.[xvi]
[i] The Holy Bible, New Catholic Version, Exodus, 3:14.
[ii] The Holy Bible, New Catholic Version, Exodus, 3:14, footnote.
[iii] Strobel, The Case For A Creator, 219, 225.
[iv] Panda, The Vibrating Universe, 345.
[v] Strobel, The Case For A Creator, 263.
[vi] Hunt, Infinite Mind, 83.
[vii] Hunt, Infinite Mind, 84.
[viii] Ibid, 85.
[ix] Ibid, 85-86.
[x] Ibid, 87.
[xi] Varela, Sleeping, Dreaming, and Dying, 194.
[xii] Neimark, New Life for Near-Death, Spirituality&Health, September/October 2003.
[xiii] Hameroff in Consciousness, Alsbury Film 2003.
[xiv] Ring, Heading Towards Omega, 66.
[xv] Hamilton, Scientific Proof of the Existence of God, What Is Enlightenment? magazine, Vol. 11, Spring/summer 1997.
[xvi] Newman in Consciousness, Alsbury Films, 2003.