Science Of Consciousness Fundamental Question: Who am I?
“Any group of beings (human or nonhuman, plant or animal) who take more from their surroundings than they give back will, obviously, deplete their surroundings, after which they will either have to mend ways or perish.” Bhagavad-gita - Voice Of An Old Intelligence Environmental, political, economic or cultural changes and upheavals are not enough. A truly holistic vision for both people and planet must include clear idea as to one’s real identity.
The voices of many dissenting experts echo the deep sentiments of millions of people all over the world. Most Americans, for example, identify themselves as environmentalists. More and more households recycle paper, glass and soda containers, buy energy-efficient light bulbs, and donate money to help save the whales and the rainforest. On Capitol Hill, in the courts, and in the streets, the environmental movement has enjoyed many victories. Yet, despite all these accomplishments, the environment is in serious trouble, and the problems are getting worse with each passing year. For this increasingly worsening problem, here lies the solution: Science of consciousness.
“As the sun alone illuminates all this universe, so does the living entity, one within the body, illuminate the entire body by consciousness.” (Bhagavad-gita 13.34)
If the world is ever to become free from the threat of environmental annihilation, we shall have to undertake a thorough reexamination of the materialistic assumptions underlying not only our picture of nature but our conception of our very selves.
Some scientists are already beginning to question whether materialistic principles are really adequate to explain basic features of human existence-such as consciousness. For example, John C. Eccles, a Nobel-prize-winning neurobiologist, states, “The ultimate problem relates to the origin of the self, how each of us as a self-conscious being comes to exist as a unique self associated with a brain. This is the mystery of personal existence.” Eccles said that “the uniqueness each of us experiences can be sufficiently explained only by recourse to some supernatural origin.”
Thomas Berry mentions that we must reestablish a spiritual "intimacy" with the earth as compared to our overly scientific-technological relationship with the earth. That is only possible when we understand that we are essentially spirit souls and not bodies.
Consumption vs. Self-realization If the conscious self is factually supernatural in origin, and if this knowledge were firmly integrated into our educational and cultural institutions, society would probably be much more directed toward self-realization than it is today. The overwhelming impetus toward the domination and exploitation of matter that underlies today’s industrial civilization and culminates in resource crunch would certainly be lessened.
In words of Grandon Harris: Our honeymoon with the planet earth is over. We must take our marriage with the earth seriously. We cannot divorce it, but it can divorce us!
This seriousness, as opposed to frivolousness, comes from understanding our real identity as spirit souls and not as Darwinian monkeys. From a monkey, hardly any seriousness can be expected.
Following verses from Bhagavad-gita illustrate these points.
kamopabhoga-parama, etavad iti niscitah They believe that to gratify the senses is the prime necessity of human civilization. (Bg 16.11) This verse of Bhagavad-gita tells us that those who mistake their identities or those who fail to understand who they are, they tread the path of sense aggrandizement. Petroleum crisis is an outcome of this viewpoint.
Another verse (Bg 2.62) sums up the our consumeristic civilization:
While contemplating the objects of the senses, a person develops attachment for them, and from such attachment lust develops, and from lust anger arises.
This verse of Bhagavad-gita tells us that by contemplating the objects of the senses one becomes attached to them and ultimately ends up frustrated and bewildered. Industrialized society in particular has as its cornerstone the need to stimulate consumption, to constantly fuel economic growth. To this end, it constantly encourages us to meditate on the objects of our senses. With individuals’ desires massively outstripping their abilities to meet their aspirations, it is hardly any surprise that we create ongoing frustration and extreme egotism, which result in environmental, social, and cultural devastation.
Text 4.22, ‘yadrccha-labha-santusto’ describes that by practicing bhakti-yoga, one is satisfied with gain which comes of its own accord and one attains a taste for simple living and high thinking. In other words, developing love for God automatically moderates one’s appetite for material things by enriching one’s life spiritually.
Science Of Consciousness Great thinkers, both in the past and present have echoed the teachings of Bhagavad-gita. For example Plato believed in the immortality of the human soul. The soul was, he thought, an entity that was fundamentally distinct from the body although it could be and often was affected by its association with the body, being dragged down by what he called in one passage “the leaden weights of becoming.” The soul was simple, not composite, and thus not liable to dissolution as were material things; further, it had the power of self-movement, again in contrast to material things. Ideally the soul should rule and guide the body, and it could ensure that this situation persisted by seeing that the bodily appetites were indulged to the minimum extent necessary for the continuance of life. The true philosopher, as Plato put it in the Phaedo, made his life a practice for death because he knew that after death the soul would be free of bodily ties and would return to its native element.
Many eminent men of science have stated that life is not reducible to chemistry and physics. These include Alfred Wallace (co-author of Charles Darwin's first publication on evolution); Thomas H. Huxley (a contemporary of Darwin's who championed Darwin's evolutionary theory); and Nobel physicists Niels Bohr and Eugene Wigner. The eminent mathematician John von Neumann has shown how quantum mechanics implies that the consciousness of the observer (he called it the "abstract ego") is distinct from all aspects of the observer's body and brain. This concept of an "abstract ego" corresponds to the irreducible nonmaterial entity posited by the theory of production and called the jivatma by Lord Krishna in Bhagavad-gita.
The Gita (2.20, 2.17) offers extensive information about the nature of the nonmaterial particle that imparts the symptoms of life to the material body: “For the soul there is neither birth nor death at any time. He has not come into being, does not come into being, and will not come into being. He is unborn, eternal, ever-existing, and primeval. He is not slain when the body is slain.... That which pervades the entire body you should know to be indestructible. No one is able to destroy that imperishable soul.”
But today, influenced by materialistic science’s refusal to consider the existence of a nonmaterial conscious self, people tend to identify exclusively with the body and mind. They therefore tend to exploit matter for the purpose of continually increasing their bodily satisfaction. Expressed through today’s urban-industrial civilization, this exploitation is causing environmental decay of unprecedented global proportions.
Glitter of industrialization has covered us, ie., our souls from our vision. Rediscovering our identity will make our God-centered relationship with the environment possible.
Understanding the difference between our temporary material identity and our true spiritual identity is the key to solving the environmental crisis. The foundation for an environmentally healthy planet is a science of consciousness that incorporates knowledge of the soul.
Over the last few years, research into consciousness has at last become accepted within the academic community. As John Searle puts it, raising the subject of consciousness in cognitive science discussions is no longer considered to be ``bad taste'', causing graduate students to ``roll their eyes at the ceiling and assume expressions of mild disgust.''
The Gita offers a simple solution to environmental anomalies, linking our problems directly to our lack of spiritual culture and values. Forgetfulness of our spiritual nature is making us overuse the technology to meet the exaggerated demands of the senses, leading to resource crunch like oil squeeze.
The basic principle of this modern civilization is wrong. Everyone, the so-called advanced scientists, so-called advanced philosopher or politician, everyone is thinking that "I am this body." So on the basic principle they're wrong. Therefore the so-called advancement of civilization is wrong. It's... At one point mathematical calculation, if you have done mistake in one point... Two plus two equal two. Why if you have made up three, the mistake, then the whole calculation will be mistaken. The balance, it will never tally. Similarly, our present civilization... Not present; it is always there. Now it is very strong bodily conception of life, so the basic principle is wrong. Therefore whatever we are advancing, that is wrong. Parabhava, defeat. That is stated in the Srimad-Bhagavatam. Basic principle is wrong, abodha, ignorance. ~ Srila Prabhupada (Lecture, Srimad-Bhagavatam - Los Angeles, December 9, 1973)
These rascal scientists have no common sense. Where is the machine that is working without any operator? Is there such a machine within their experience? How can they suggest that nature is working automatically? Nature is a wonderful machine but the operator is God, Krishna. That is real knowledge. ~ Srila Prabhupada (Conversation- March 1975)