Consciousness Archives

 three

Here, I will share my conceptual outlook at the numbers One, Two and Three.

To understand that well you will need the foundation built in the two previous posts, one on Polarity and the other one on the Principle of Rhythm. Please read them first.

Imagine you are the only Being that exists.
There is you and nothing else.
It is a likely boring existence.

Say, you are a cell in the World which is the cell itself.

You are the White on the White canvas, including the canvas as well.

You are both a Thought and a Thinker of that Thought.

Anywhere you reach, through the medium of yourself, of course, there is only you. In fact, you are a Presence permeating yourself.

You are.

You cannot discriminate because there is only one Sameness expressed in what there is. There is no Difference yet.

The concept of One is Totality

You can also perceive One as Unity, or Sameness.

Metaphorically, you can understand One as God. You may also consider One as the Whole universe, or total Power.

Or, you perhaps remember your experience of One when you were a fetus developing in your mother’s womb for whom everything was a complete Whole. Even though you might have explored the boundaries of Self, there was no reference for you to understand what they were, simply because you had no experience of the outside. For you the boundaries was also the Self.

Totality may be both, the Conscious Presence such as Active Intent or the Unconscious Presence such as a Potential or Power to be exercised. In both cases, Totality is the Essence from which everything originates.

If Totality is unconscious it expands by practising the basic awareness until it develops the intent to think.  Thanks to this intent it will develop further on until it will become conscious. At this point, Totality will possibly become bored by being so same, homogeneous and All that is.

Totality will want to make a further progress by discriminating a part of itself. It may distinguish an aspect of Self from the rest, or it may distinguishes an aspect, such as Love, Sound or Matter.  By doing so, everything but this aspect will become distinguishable as well.

Polarity is born.

The concept of Two is Polarity

You can also perceive Two as Duality or Difference.

The act of bringing one aspect forward is the act of setting everything else in the background. It is the same as naming a feature or characteristic. It allows us to recognize it and distinguish from the other things.

Metaphorically, you can understand Two as God who establishes a companion for His higher feelings when he discriminates into the Loving Father and the beloved Son. Or you may consider Two as the Universe which becomes both Matter and Spirit. Or, perhaps you experience Two as being a child born to the World.

As such, Two is experienced when an opening is created or a difference is to be emphasized. It does not provide an interesting diversity as such. Although the task of Two is to notice the differences, their integration is difficult as it requires an extra step.

It is the movement between the polarities that gives the basic structure to our existence. You can think of it as of the swing between the opposites or,  you can perceive it as a threshold experience when you move from one polarity to another. Duality through action gives birth to Three.

The concept of Three is Active Diversity

You can also say Creativity.

It is both the action and the expression of a state between the polarities.

Metaphorically, you may consider Three as God who becomes Trinity. Holy Spirit is now introduced as the Active Person expressing Love between the Father and the Son. You may also consider Three as an Intent and/or Active Consciousness to move between levels from the Material to Spiritual Worlds. Or, you experience Three as a child interacting and playing in the outside world.

Three is an interesting phenomenon. Two expresses duality, polarity or difference. It is often passive. Three comes into existence through the act of interaction between the Two.

Three is something that is being created when the Two opposites become involved and act.

Three describes Stability

Three is a powerful concept. Three reflects not only diversity, but also stability and support.

A triangle is created by three sides and is the most basic geometric figure.
A three-legged chair is going to work well, while a stable two legged chair is impossible.
Three dimensions support the existence of life and complex systems.

The meeting point

Three is an expression of diversity. Three is an expression of novelty and creativity. Three is a direction.

Birth, life and death.
Past, present and future.
Beginning, middle and end.
Positive, neutral and negative.

Three allows us to introduce a meeting point, or a place in between. It can be the moment of Now being experienced between past and future. It can be the flow between beginning and end. Or it can be intuition arising as a creative act between emotions and rational thought.

Three simply allows us to experience the middle or in-between.

Three is completeness

Once you start paying attention, you will find triads or triplets cropping up everywhere – in language, in myths, in fairy tales, in Scripture, in culture and in society.

Three people are seen as suitable to make decisions, because they will have enough diversity to cover different points of views and when necessary to apply the majority vote. Three people are enough to form boards, commissions or crowds. Even statistics likes to see “three” as a container for “many”.

Not surprisingly, many laws, rules or ideas come in triads. Just to mention three laws of thermodynamics, the motto of France: liberty, equality, fraternity or the motto of Poland: God, honor and fatherland, or three virtues: faith, hope and love.

Many things in writing or storytelling are structured in threes. There are sayings or curses that have to be repeated 3 times before they become active. There are three trials to achieve a certain goal. There are three wishes to be granted. There also also three days or nights for an event or transformation to take place.

Examples of triads in stories include Three Wise Monkeys, Three Little Pigs, Three Musketeers, or Three Bears. In fairy tales there are usually three brothers, sons of a peasant or three daughters of a king. Two are often either stupid (boys) or ugly (girls), while one is smart / beautiful. And it is the third one that makes a difference: he will endure many tests to have finally become a new king or she will go through trials to be finally married by a Lovely Prince.

Summary

Three can be perceived in multiple ways. It can be a threshold experience between the Two polarities, a meeting point, or a new creation by the interaction of Two. Such a creation bears characteristics different than its ingredients, similarly as water is something completely novel in comparison to both oxygen and hydrogen.

Three offers a high-level synthesis, not by summing the Two components but by creatively designing something new. Three doesn’t negate polarity. Rather it accepts duality and represents a new element arising from the action between the opposites. And in this way, Three enables us to transcend duality.

Three is an experience of consciousness.

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Photo credit CLeopold73 available under Creative Commons on Flickr.

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Other posts on consciousness:

you_are_becoming

Photo credit Fe Langdon, available on Flickr under Creative Commons.

How we say

One of the major obstacles in your development is to perceive yourself as a static thing. Similarly, one of the most limiting ways for a solution-focus is to look at a situation or problem as an event frozen in time.  So you say:

“I am ill.”
“You are a poor manager.”
“He is stupid.”
“This is the way things are.”

These are facts and nothing can be done about it. It seems. While the statements above may look innocent, they are not. In fact, they act dangerously beneath the observable surface.

Are you one of the people who often heard as a child “You are a bad girl/boy” or “You are stupid”?

Did you believe that? I did.

It only takes a single authority (parent/grandma/older friend/teacher) to repeat such a statement a few times to make you accept it as a truth. Without questioning. Would it make any difference for you to have heard instead “You have behaved stupidly this time. What can we/you do next time so that you can improve?”

It would. For me.

Identity

The language construction “I am X” describes an equivalence between “I” and the very thing “X”. In such a statement an identification is taking place. If you keep repeating to yourself “I am stupid” you begin to identify with what you consider as “stupid behaviors” or “stupid people”. At some point you will start to model such a behavior more often, even unconsciously, simply because you have associated yourself with stupidity.

So, if you say “I am X” or “You are Y”, such statements act as naming on a deep, subconscious level. We make an equivalence and once we have taken it for granted, such an equivalence begin to hold forever. You stick the labels and they stay.

How to set yourself free

The first step is a shift in perception. Instead of looking at yourself as an Event, the key is to look at yourself as a Process.

You are not your thoughts.
You are NOT your emotions.
You are not your behaviors.
You are NOT your skills.
You are not  your actions.
You are NOT your achievements.
You are not your mood.
You are NOT your products.
You are not your failures.
You are NOT your problems.
You are not your parents.
You are NOT your wife/husband/kids.
You are not your car.
You are NOT your house.
You are not your job.
You are NOT your hobby.
….

While all the elements above may be very important to you and whom you have become, none of them is you. They are parts of who you are but you are much greater than their sum. If you choose to identify with any of them you may become vulnerable, fixated and stuck. And you may slow down any progress to a high degree.

For instance I used to identify with my work so I was hurt by people criticizing my research approach. I saw work as an extension of myself. As a result, it used to take me a substantial amount of time for an emotional processing before I could deal with criticism and work towards a further improvement of the ideas and applications. It was a waste of my emotional resources to suffer unnecessarily.

I am sure you know other people who are hurt or emotionally upset when somebody criticizes their approach or behavior, or when something happens with their car, or even when their children do not perform well to the expectations. It all comes from our deep identification with the Events. Be it results, attitude or children’s behavior.

Who you are

Your particular thoughts, emotions, behaviors, skills, actions, initiatives, possessions, responsibilities, failures and achievements are Events.

So, who are you?

You are simply a Process allowing, choosing, supporting and maintaining these Events. You are a Journey. Through Life.

You are not a static, frozen in time Joe. You are a Process of Joe.
You are a continuously learning and developing conscious being.
You have become and you are becoming.

Your goal is to take care of the Process to maintain it daily so that the habits you choose serve you through Time.

Watch your language

The second important point for becoming is to watch your language. The idea is to focus on describing the situation or event instead of making identity statements. Say to your child “You have not behaved kindly this time” instead of “You are a bad boy”. Say, “I’ve been searching for a new job” instead of “I am jobless”. Say, “I have not become wealthy yet, but I am taking my steps towards it” instead of “I am poor”. Say, “You have not organized your workplace in the best way last week” instead of “You are a muddler”. And so on.

Language is very important in describing and naming how you see yourself.  For a change to happen, you need to act differently and speak differently. Watch what you say and how you say it.  When you change how you describe yourself, your life, your problems and your challenges, you will begin to act accordingly. You will redirect your Process towards a better You.

Being a Process

Why does it make a difference to perceive yourself as a Process?

The key concept is that by being a Process you are already in motion. You are changing and evolving by the very nature of a process. Whatever happens, any failure, misjudgement or difficulty, any blessing, winning or achievement, change is just behind the door. You deeply know it and you accept it. You also know that change is the only stability you have. It makes you conscious to live in the moment and appreciate all the blessings that come to your life now. And it makes you aware that any difficulty, even the most horrendous, will eventually pass. Through the Process you can transform it.

By seeing yourself as a Process you begin to detach emotionally from the outcomes and the results while you are taking initiatives in the given moment. Action redirects the Process. And you know that even small steps repeated frequently enough can lead you far. In your Journey.

When you see yourself as a Process you begin to gain power, responsibility and control over your life. While you cannot control the majority of events, you can take care that the Process you are will equip you well to handle whatever comes. You begin to live by Gratitude and Love. To others and God.

You are becoming

You may not have made the best progress in your life yet but you can choose to start doing it now. In every moment you can abandon old patterns and choose the ones which serve you. By being a Process – a developing human being – you can grow into a greatness.

Spin.
Stir it up.
Move.

You are experiencing. You are becoming. Your best conscious Self.

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consciousness

How do you recognize a conscious being?

Imagine a completely unknown creature is approaching you. A strange creature, nothing you have seen in your life so far.

Your mind is puzzled.
Your heart is beating fast.
You do not know what to think.
You are not sure what you feel. 
You are curious.
You are scared.

This alien creature is alive. You know it for sure.
But it is not human. You also know it for sure.
Or, at least, not in a human form that you can recognize.
It communicates with you by direct knowing.
It is an airy form with wings in a glow of light.
Are you dreaming it to the existence?

Who knows….  How would you know if it is a conscious being? You would know, wouldn’t you?

Ask yourself.

How do you know that your human fellow is conscious? Perhaps you are the only one who is conscious.

How do you know you are not dreaming? Perhaps everything around you, including your human fellows, are projections of your mind from a dream state. Remember how real the experience in a dream is. What is different with respect to your experience now?

What is your test for consciousness? Have you passed it yourself? 😉 If so, you can name the building blocks of consciousness, then…

If your human fellow is conscious, how can you experience his consciousness?

However crazy such questions may sound to you, it is interesting to explore possible answers. They are not trivial and may lead you to surprising discoveries.

Thinking about consciousness can be confusing as we may get into internal loops of mind inspecting itself. We somehow intuitively get what consciousness is as it describes our personal experience of Self or mind in relation to the external (as perceived) world. But, only when we explore the complexity of our conscious experience we become aware that there is a lot to be learnt and understood. And thinking about own consciousness is a good experiment in building an understanding about Self.

In one of our Consciousness discussion meetings we discussed that we could not often recognize whether another being was conscious or not. On the other hand, we can recognize consciousness based on our experience. Or, in another words, we can recognize consciousness that resembles our own.

This means that we need a human-like behavior in order to conclude that a being we connect to is a conscious one.  When we do not observe such a behavior, then we cannot say much about human consciousness. The other being can still be conscious, but it may either hide this fact from us or we may lack means to detect it.

For instance, a brick may be conscious, but since we cannot observe its ‘human-like’ behavior, for our purposes, we may conclude it is not. On the other hand, a robot-mouse which starts to scream, flounder and tries to escape when you hit it, shows very human-like reactions. And we may be tempted to conclude that it is observable conscious.

Consequently, we can detect the observable consciousness. On the other hand, the only consciousness you know is yours, right? So, perhaps you are the only consciousness there is and you are imagining me writing these words. Or… how else is this possible?

By saying the above I want to emphasize the subjectivity of our consciousness experience. We can share our observations, we can participate in common events but our conscious experiences can hardly be explained. Nevertheless, we can discuss the basic elements of consciousness.

Awareness

The first basic element of consciousness is awareness. Awareness means that we notice what is around us and what is happening to us. It is our meter of emotions that flow through us or get blocked, emotions that drive us, uplift us or perhaps down-lift us. It is about our sensations of all kinds, such as cold, pleasure and pain, smell of coffee, or the feeling of appreciation. Awareness is paying attention to the now. It is the basic quality of living in the moment as it is.  

The basic ingredients for awareness are:

  • sensation and/or senses
  • incorporation into memory/experience
  • possible action (can be different, depending on memory/previous experiences)

Basic awareness can be extended to describe things outside plants and animal kingdom. For instance, a thermometer has some sensory mechanism and takes action to reflect the change in temperature. What however rules out that a thermometer is aware is the lack of information processing and storing. In this context, however, a thermometer with a built mechanism that stores the temperature, provides yearly and monthly averages or other simple statistics would be considered as aware.

Elements of consciousness

Consciousness relies on awareness but it is much more than that. It builds on other important elements. What are the other key elements of consciousness? These are Intelligence, Creativity, Idea of Self, Involvement, Meta-structure and Relationship. In brief:

Awareness is the experience of now.

Intelligence is the power of thought.

Creativity is the power of expression.

Idea of Self is the reference point of who is having the experience.

Involvement is the activity of consciousness.

Meta-structure is the representation of complexity, self-reference, nested structure and holistic view.

Relationship is the continuous communication to the external world.

Somewhat more precisely, the building blocks of Consciousness are:

  • Awareness:
    • sensations
    • observation
    • noticing
    • paying attention
    • emotions
  • Intelligence:
    • learning
    • generalization
    • prediction
    • reasoning
    • setting targets
  • Creativity:
    • novel approaches
    • surprise
    • hesitation
    • humor
    • stepping out of context
    • courage
  • Idea of Self:
    • ego
    • values
    • beliefs
    • morals
    • purpose / mission
  • Involvement:
    • introspection
    • reflection
    • inner feeling: desire, love etc
    • action   
  • Meta-structure:
    • nested structures
    • Self-reference
    • holistic view of Self
    • complexity
  • Relationship:
    • perceived commonness or difference to others “out there”
    • use of symbols
    • communication: language, music, writing , etc
    • technology

So, in order to observe (human) consciousness in another being or a creature I need to recognize ingredients from these key building blocks.  As a result, an intelligent being is not necessarily conscious yet.  Intelligence is necessary, but not sufficient for consciousness. And in my own words I notice the following relation:

Knowledge is to wisdom as intelligence is to consciousness.  Tweet: Knowledge is to wisdom as intelligence is to consciousness. via @ElaPekalska

In the relation above I find both knowledge and intelligence passive in relation to wisdom and consciousness. The former are necessary ingredients for the latter, but much more is needed to get both wisdom and consciousness.

Are there any key ingredients of consciousness missing out? What do you think?

Addendum

In the description above I focused on the elements of human consciousness. In reality, everything, including us, is made from the same potent particles-and-waves-of-energy, coming from God. As a result, everything is conscious, but not in the same way neither in the same degree.

There are levels of awareness and levels of consciousness. Prayer, meditation or simply a silent appreciation of the nature may give you the experience of consciousness which is being present in every single thing. Explore it.

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Books of interest:

In relation to self-growth:

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Other posts on consciousness:

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If you want to understand complex phenomena you can follow dedicated courses, study professional books or read scientific texts.

There is, however, a more exciting path to understanding which relies on self-learning and self-discovery.

While such a path may be guided by the same books or follow the same courses as mentioned above, a key ingredient is to study own observations and personal experiences. There is no substitution for knowing oneself.

When the observations are shared between people in an atmosphere of curiosity and acceptance, a new understanding often arises. It often comes as if magically created before one’s eyes. Although such an understanding may be built slowly, it is profound. There is usually a moment of deep understanding, where all the loose and seemingly unrelated pieces come together and fit into a beautiful puzzle.

I encourage you to follow this path for yourself.

Simply be curious and experiment.

What is consciousness for you?

How do you experience it daily?

Consciousness has been a hot subject of endless discussions and arguments in philosophy, physics, metaphysics, biology, computer science, and so on. In our Consciousness Group we approached it through the subjective lens of our personal observations and life experiences. This is what I will share below.

In one of our first meeting we discussed how fish becomes conscious of water only if it jumps out of the water. As long as it swims in the water, fish is unaware of it. She becomes conscious of the water-world, when she experiences the air-world.

As a result, consciousness can be seen as a threshold experience when moving from one world into another. Such a movement may be slow, and it may also be very fast, in a split of a second. A moment is enough to become conscious. What we distinguish here is not the overall consciousness mind (including subconsciousness) but the sharp point-like experience of your own consciousness.

In analogy, there are at least two worlds for us, a very Private, inner world and the Common world we share with others.

The Private world is a land of personal feelings, impressions, insights or actions. By actions here we understand mental actions such as decisions, for instance.

The Common world consists of two worlds: the physical world outside us (at least, as we perceive it) and the world of thoughts, ideas and concepts. Although thoughts seem private, we can share them, discuss them and achieve some agreements or conclusions. For this reason they are considered as the residents of the Common world.

So, the experience of consciousness happens when we move from our inner world of feelings and morals to the world of external observations, thoughts or actions. If you think about such a threshold experience there are two key ingredients of consciousness that are necessary for that: Involvement and Self.

You need Self, a reference to yourself (whether it is a separate entity, you or perhaps an illusion) in order to have a reference point of who is experiencing what is happening. Moreover, you need Involvement, an active participation from Self, as consciousness is alive. See also the diagram to the right.

We also need to conclude here that we are not fully conscious when we stay in one world only. For instance, you can perfectly arrive at a destination by a car without consciously realizing your driving, the journey, the turns and the steps. Your overall mind obviously works well as you completed the task but your sharp pointy-like consciousness experience was not present there. Some people call this “unconscious competence”.

Such an experience is more common than you may think, and includes tasks to which you dedicate your full attention for some period of time. Examples include cooking, programming, reading, writing, cleaning, designing, etc.

Have you ever focused on writing such that you lost yourself into the words?

Have you ever focused on cooking so much that you only experience the dance of ingredients and your creative act?

Have you ever focused on programming or designing so much that you were simply taken with it for multiple hours without a break?

It is quite common, isn’t it? And yes, your pointy experience of consciousness, the director of your consciousness is not acting then.

Perhaps he/she directs the tasks and stays behind the scene as an observer, and only sometimes as an actor…

What do you think?

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Other posts on consciousness:

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Quilt by Inge Duin, www.ingeduin.nlWhen I was living in the Netherlands a group of friends discovered a common interest in studying consciousness. Perhaps this was so because we were already fascinated by learning from examples and pattern recognition.

We started in 2000 as a group of seven people: Alexander, Bob, David, Dick, Ela, Marina and Pavel. Andrzej, Carmen, Piotr and Sergey joined later on. Many new members arrived to the group over the period of ten years. People were coming and leaving depending on their interests or the changes in carrier and place of living.

Consciousness ideas

In each meeting we focused on studying a question or a task which we prepared for in advance.  We shared our views in response to the questions such as

  • “What is consciousness?”
  • “What is Self?”
  • “What are the attributes of thoughts?”
  • “What are your personal truths?”
  • “What is free will?”

and so on. We shared personal stories and observations, performed experiments, discussed scientific articles (e.g. the classical paper on consciousness What is it like to be a bat?” by Thomas Nagel or the The Matrix as Metaphysics” by David J. Chalmers) and discussed (excepts of) books, investigated non-traditional subjects such as near-death experience, studied other philosophies etc. We studied some works of influential philosophers or mathematicians, such as Daniel Dennet, John Searle, Sir Riger Penrose or Douglas Hofstadter. We also looked at other philosophical texts, e.g. by Jiddu Krishnamurti. Sometimes we did simple experiments such as observing how others describe objects or read a text. And sometimes we did more demanding experiments such as paying attention to our involvement and consciousness levels on daily basis.

If you are interested in studying texts on consciousness, there is a big online library here.

Note also that there may be a lot of confusion about consciousness. Some people see consciousness as e.g. a field of infinite potential that we all emerge from. For our purposes, however, we will mostly focus on individual consciousness. This is your consciousness. And this is mine consciousness.

Synergy in a group

It was one of the most amazing experiences in my life concerning the stimulating yet respectful atmosphere we created as a consciousness group. I loved it. I really loved it simply because I experienced a synergistic approach first hand. I was inspired and transformed because of the presence and contribution of others.

As a group of individuals we were able to investigate ideas and create new concepts. We were able to create synergy in a group over and over again. We all contributed individually and parts were recognizable as ours yet, as a group, we were creating something novel. I was amazed by this process, when you experience how the sum of parts becomes so much greater than the whole you would imagine.

What supported this process was our openness and courage to be ourselves in the presence of others and respect we had for each other. Our goal was to share our views and experiences so that we could learn from each other and become enriched as a whole. We encouraged conflicting views, but there was no need to judge nor convince one another about taking a particular stand. Nobody was there to hold the ultimate truth, but to explore own ideas and participate in learning.

I must also say that it was challenging at times simply when we individually held extreme views. For instance, one meeting we found ourselves split into two camps. Some of us thought that consciousness could be simulated in a computer, while some of us thought it was impossible. Often in such cases, we would disagree on the meaning or definitions of particular words (e.g. what does simulation mean?) Of course, sometimes we got emotional about our views or disagreed such that discussion was going nowhere. Yet, we were able to stop and solve the issues in an assertive way.

Overall, we maintained the practice of respecting our differences and being open to learning. We took extra care that all of us felt well and appreciated. I loved the experience of cohesion and synergy.

Future blog posts will present a few interesting findings from these times. These are the discoveries of the Consciousness Group.

Be curious!

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The image above shows a wonderful quilt by Inge Duin. See www.ingeduin.nl.

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Other posts on Consciousness:

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