I use the terms “Universal Consciousness” and “Mind-At-Large” synonymously in this article.
Meaning And Meaning
The word “meaning” has a double meaning. On one hand it has to do with purpose, with goals, with the objectives of life. On the other hand the word meaning has to do with signification, with how one thing represents or points to another thing. On the surface these seem to be two unrelated meanings of the word meaning. But if we look more deeply into the matter (pun intended) we find that there is actually a definite connection between these two different definitions of the same word.
We Live In A World Of Symbols
We tend to think that when our eyes are open that we are looking out of something akin to a set of transparent windows through which we see the world as it is in reality. This belief is actually far from true.(1) We do not experience the outside world as it actually is. Rather, we experience our perceptions of what is outside. This is essential to understand: The appearance of the spatial-temporal world that we take to be “out there” is actually a product of our perception. Space and time appear via perception and thought. It is the act of perception that structures the world as we see, hear, smell, touch and taste it. In this sense the laws of physics are actually the laws of perception, they are laws of mind.(2) The world we see on the screen of our perception is not reality as it is in itself outside of the filter of perception. The world we interact with is the world as it appears to us through the filtering prism of perception.
The Dashboard Of Perception
What we perceive, to use Dr. Bernardo Kastrup’s metaphor, is “a kind of dashboard” that we use to navigate what would otherwise be a massively overwhelming barrage of incoming information. Think of a pilot flying an airplane in a stormy night sky. The pilot is looking at the dashboard in front of him as he navigates his plane. The dashboard is not the night sky. The dashboard is a set of symbols, a set of signifiers, which displays the particular information that the pilot needs to fly and land his plane safely. Science is beginning to clearly show us now that our dashboard of perception bares figurative similarities to that of a pilot’s dashboard in that both display a set of symbols which filter and represent reality to us in a form that enables our survival.(3) The dials on our dashboard, our perceptions, are the symbols that we use to navigate reality. The symbols are not the reality itself.
What Is A Body?
What is a body? This might seem like a silly question to ask. From the point of view discussed in the preceding paragraph though, the question is a pertinent one. If you think about it, what do you know of your body now other than what you register through sensation and perception? Nothing. Sensation and perception are faculties of mind, of consciousness. Your body, including your brain, is an appearance in mind, an appearance in consciousness. We are used to thinking of consciousness as something that exists inside a brain that is inside a body but this is actually a misconception. In fact, the belief that matter gave rise to consciousness and that what we essentially are shares the limits and the destiny of the body is a theory of reality that completely falls apart when it is put under the microscope of reason.(4)
I realize that some of what I am saying here might feel counter-intuitive to consider at first. Hang in there though, before you reject or accept it.
First and Second-Person Perspectives Of Reality
You have, at one time or another, felt a deep sadness that provoked you to cry. Imagine now that you walk over to a mirror and you see your slightly contorted face with a tear streaming down your cheek. Are your slightly contorted face and the tear streaming down your cheek the experience of sadness itself? Of course not. The image in the mirror is a reflection of a representation of your felt experience. That representation, your contorted face and the streaming teardrop, is an (exterior) image of your first-person (interior) experience of the feeling of deep sadness.
Your Friend’s Body
When you see your friend’s body in front of you what you are perceiving is a second-person perspective of what it is like to be your friend. Your friend’s subjective experience of what it is like to be herself is private. What you interact with, her body, is an extrinsic representation of her intrinsic first-person experience that appears on your screen of perception.
Two Perspectives Within One Universal Mind At Large
Your friend’s subjective first-person experience and your second-person representation of her subjective experience (your perception of her body) are not ultimately separate. They are two different perspectives of the same experience within one Universal Consciousness.(5)
The same goes for your body when your friend is perceiving it. Only you have a subjective first-person experience of the sights you see, the feelings you feel, the sounds you hear, etc. All that someone else can know of your first-person experience is a second-person perspective of it on their dashboard of perception. Again though, both perspectives ultimately appear within one Mind-At-Large.
Dissociation At Large
You might be asking yourself now, “If all of this goes on in one Universal Consciousness, in one Mind-At-Large, in one all-inclusive capital ’S’ Self (or whatever you prefer to call it), then why can’t I read other people’s thoughts? Why can’t I move objects just by thinking, etc.?” There is a phenomenon that appears repeatedly in nature in different forms that accounts for why our subjective experiences are private and appear to be separate. This phenomenon, which has been scientifically studied and documented for nearly a century, is called “dissociation”. If we were to playfully put what is being said here in religious terms we could say that God has a massive dissociative identity complex. But this complex is definitely not a disorder! On the contrary, it is the very mechanism by which our experiences of self and other are generated. The appearance of metabolizing life is the indicator, it is the symbol of dissociation within Mind-At-Large. Life is the product of dissociation within Universal Consciousness.(6)
Two Examples (Among Many) Of Dissociation In Nature
In 2015, there was a study done in Germany during which a woman with dissociative identity disorder (DID) underwent EEG testing. The patient claimed to have several “alters” (personalities), a few of which claimed to be blind. When these blind alters were in control of the woman’s body (with eyes wide open) the EEG indicated that all activity in the visual cortex of her brain had ceased. When one of the other sighted alters took over control, activity in the patient’s visual cortex came back to normal levels. The dissociation was so powerful that it literally blinded the subject.(7)
When you dream at night your mind undergoes a form of dissociation. Your avatar in your dream interacts with characters and an entire landscape that you believe to be separate from yourself. When you wake up though you realize that the dreamed landscape you were walking around in and all the characters in the dream were generated by your individual mind.(8)
The Symbolic Meanings of The Physical Universe And Metabolizing Life
The physical universe as it appears on our dashboard of perception is a second-person perspective of experiential processes within Mind-At-Large. In other words the world at large (as we perceive it), nature, the galaxies, etc., are the extrinsic, second-person image of what it is like to be Mind-At-Large (or God, if you prefer) as a “thing” in itself.
Metabolizing life, as it appears on our dashboard of perception, is the extrinsic, second-person image of what it is like to be a dissociated alter within Mind-At-Large. We are, each of us, dissociated alters, individual perspectives within one Universal Consciousness, within one Mind-At-Large. Although our individual (dissociated) experiences are private and appear to be entirely separate, we all ultimately share one underlying subjectivity, one underlying “pure” consciousness.
The Experience Of Physicality Is Not Being Denied Here
Notice that the experience of what is referred to as materiality and/or physicality is NOT being denied here. On the contrary, the experience of physicality is being fully affirmed. What is being said is that the nature of the experience of physicality is mental. By “mental” we do not mean that it all takes place inside a brain. What is being pointed to is the fact that all experience is real as an aspect of mentation within Mind-At-Large. Ironically, it is the materialist point of view which claims all experience is “a hallucination” that is generated inside each individual skull.(9)
*If you’d like to see a thoroughly detailed description of why this theory of reality is empirically (far) superior to other existing theories check out Bernardo Kastrup’s 7 part course on YouTube entitled “Analytic Idealism: A Superior Hypothesis” at this link: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCHKZdDf09_8vVHm102fu0sg
There Is No “Unconscious” (Phenomenal Consciousness And Meta-Consciousness)
To be meta-conscious of something is to be aware that you are aware of it. Phenomenal consciousness is the awareness of something that you are not aware that you are aware of. A simple example of this is breathing. You are always phenomenally conscious of the fact that you are breathing but you are not always meta-conscious of your breathing. For instance, right now you are meta-conscious of your breathing because you are reading this essay and it has directed your attention to your breathing. You are aware that you are aware of it. Before you read these words your attention was not on your breathing. You were not unconscious of your breathing before reading these words, you were phenomenally conscious of your breathing. Now you are meta-conscious of your breathing. Now you are conscious that you are conscious of your breathing.
The Human Domain
What is being alluded to here is that meta-consciousness, the awareness of being aware, seems, by all indications, to be an aspect of evolution that was made possible by dissociation within Mind At Large. Meta-consciousness, the awareness that one is aware of some thing, requires a subject and an object. As was said before, dissociation within Mind-At-Large is the mechanism by which the apparent separation of subject and object is generated. It could be said then that meta-consciousness (the awareness of being aware) represents the evolution of a particular capacity within the realm of universal dissociation, within the realm of metabolizing life. This new domain of meta-consciousness is the human domain. It is, as far as we know, a domain that is occupied (arguably) exclusively by our human species. There are examples of possible meta-conscious activity in a few other mammals but only at the most rudimentary levels of the phenomenon.
COMING UP IN PART 3: There Is No Meaning In Life If Everything Ends With Death
Next week, in the third and final chapter of this three part series, we will tie up any remaining loose ends and explore the paradigm shifting implications of all that has been discussed so far. Stay tuned!
(1) Dr. Donald Hoffman, “The Case Against Reality”, ZdoggMD, Nov. 9, 2019, youtube.com/watch?v=dd6CQCbk2ro
(2) Rupert Spira, “Time And Objects”, Rupert Spira, July 31, 2015, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fr8WW_MPNBY&t=4s
(3) Dr. Donald Hoffman, “Do We See Reality As It Is”, TED, June 11, 2015, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oYp5XuGYqqY&t=91s
(4) Bernardo Kastrup, “The Incoherence Of Our Ordinary Intuitions”, Essentially Foundation, May 26, 2021, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hDbCTxm6_Ps
(5) Mark Lesseraux, Pressenza, “Free Your Mind And Your Ass, Which Is Not Separate From Your Mind, Will Follow (A Case For Universal Consciousness)”, June 13, 2020
(6) Dr. Bernardo Kastrup, “Analytical Idealism, Materialism, The Self, and the Connectedness of You and I”, TOE, Feb 20, 2021, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lAB21FAXCDE
(7) Dr. Bernardo Kastrup, Scientific American, “Could Multiple Personality Disorder Explain Life, The Universe And Everything?”, June 18, 2018
(8) Rupert Spira, “The Metaphor Of John Smith And King Lear”, Rupert Spira, June 4, 2021, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y-ynMtsbKH0&t=81s
(9) Anil Seth, “Your Brain Hallucinates Your Conscious Reality”, TED, July 18, 2017, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lyu7v7nWzfo&t=66s
Link to “Leaving The Matrix Part 1 – Dualism Is Dead”: https://www.pressenza.com/2021/06/leaving-the-matrix-part-1-dualism-is-dead/