Consciousness does not arrive, out of breath and full of apologies.  Nor does it leave, looking despondent and dusting off old explanations.  Consciousness was here long before anyone realised it. Before galaxies, committees, event horizons, export tariffs and microbes.  Just as the spirit worlds are heavily populated by spirits of all cultures and races long before you, in your grieving, turn to acknowledge and explore their existence and purpose.

Often labelled God by those who would bow in deference, sometimes the Great Spirit, others the presence of All That Is, and yet others the Universal Creativity that endlessly manifests all the products and services in which we become entangled, and sometimes the current paradigm surfaces to be encountered, consciousness, and as Richard Smoley subtitles his book “The Dice Game Of Shiva”, how consciousness creates the universe, we have a prime example of the new metaphor describing the old idea.  Old wine in new bottles as the saying goes.

There are many ways to make the fluctuations and paradoxes of consciousness more palatable to our refined and cultured attitudes.  Denial and ignorance are often employed.  Explaining it all away remains a popular choice.  Leaving it to experts and authorities can be an easy out.  Blaming the unrestrained and ruthless greed that capitalism breeds is undoubtedly fashionable and will win you many friends.  Yet consciousness recognises no boundaries, moralities, beliefs or faiths.  Even more than that sun who shines on everyone regardlss of moral probity, consciousnes feeds every creative activity, every push to expand or ruin. Using mother nature as its utensil it creates and destroys with equal ease.  Compassion and mercy are absent from its playbook.  The energies of fire and water, for example, are free to do as they please.  We learn to respect their unleashed powers, because in truth we have no option.

Like our centuries spent fearing a vengeful God and his earthly enforcers, when we thought we had no option, we now structure that behaviour around the whims of nature, laughing only when our shelters prove an adequate protection.  Although we are ourselves active elements of consciousness we have learned to dance around the other elements which threaten our safety and stability.  The growth of our problem solving intellects has enabled our escape from the protective shield of religion but left us worshipping the amoral cleverness of science, which has the remarkable ability to solve one problem while creating three more.  God has been deposed from King Supreme, Designer-in-Chief to something along the lines of fitness trainer and yoga instructor, while the protocols and products of science are mindlessly praised by its own practitioners, as the materialism from which it springs remains mostly unchallenged.

After decades of poking and prodding the brain, neurologists have yet to uncover the method by which consciousness arises from that maze of chemical and electrical interactions, but because their assumptions are materially based, – that matter is all that exists, – they continue to hope that organs like the brain will finally give up their secrets, just as soon as the right experiment is tested.  Not unlike religionists who continually refer to their ancient sacred texts, hoping that fresh interpretation will unleash the divine mystery from its hiding place.  Philosophers call it the “mind-body problem” and continue to circle about it cleverly and hopelessly.  How on earth does the brain produce consciousness?  Wrong question.

Richard Smoley quotes philosopher Colin McGinn, who argues that “the problem of consciousness is fundamentally insoluble” and has been accused by his colleagues of “Mysterianism”.  And despite the many esoteric teachings from various traditions, like the Kabbalah, Hermeticism, Hindu mythology and ‘Hidden’ Christianity, that I might quote from, there is no intellectually satisfying argument to be persuaded by.  There are legends, assertions and metaphors, carefully couched in mystical texts but there are no proofs and there likely never will be.  Our science addled brains cannot compute that which cannot be diced and analysed, regardless of how refined the arguments become.

The mystery can only be encountered and experienced by enquiring spirits surrendering to the unknown.  Psychedelics, meditation and out of body experience are three paths I would recommend.  With psychedelics you can understand how the brain shapes perceptions, but that which is perceived, however relentlessly changing shape and texture, has an independent existence and has been created elsewhere. Later, in the same experience, you can experience the calm, radiant ocean of light that many others have reported, calling it the Godhead or the Ground of all Being from which all things emerge.  When you are there you will have no doubt about it’s reality, because you have emerged from arguing polarities and intellectual doubt and have entered the oneness that is beyond speculation.

With meditation you can move in much the same direction but without all the fireworks. The contents of your brain, the thoughts, regrets, anxieties and fantasies, will parade themselves before you, trying to tempt you into attachment, acting out their pathos and drama like children at bedtime.  Waves of emotions will wash over you, trying much the same thing.  First hint: the observer to all this is not the brain or the personality.  You are more the sky in which these clouds pass.   And as we know, that brilliant blue is but a pretty illusion leading to the enormity of star- studded blackness beyond.  Later, minutes or months later, you will come to rest beyond all this activity and experience the “peace which passeth all understanding”, and while being unable to explain it to your friends, will know that this subdued bliss is where you belong.

With out of body experience, you can find yourself inspecting your bedroom, your garden, your neighbourhood, earthbound ghosts, other projectors, the various astral planes, hellish and heavenly, your dead loved ones, and eventually the formless energy planes, that Godhead again, beyond all activity.  But such is the entrancement of all this freedom and beguiling beauty, it might be quite some “time” before you get there.  The joys of flight, family reunion, and those faces so familiar from past adventures can easily enthrall the exploring psyche, showing you how to hide your holy grail from your desiring self.

Will such attainment become more common as we evolve?  I suspect so.  Those of us who have freed themselves from the constraints of religion and autocratic society certainly have a head start, and hopefully our brave explorations will inspire others in less salubrious surroundings.  Each of those paths I have outlined can lead to an immersion in the ocean of nothingness that is the Godhead spoken of in mystical texts and only personal experience, not any persuasive tactics, will convince.  That those explorations may one day be aided by technological innovations I have no doubt.  A computer program that mimics  the magically morphing patters of psychedelics?  An energy beam that projects you beyond all heavens to the Ground Of All Being, perhaps similar to the portals that now transfer staff from Earth to the Moon and Mars?  All of this is possible and I would say likely.  But how many of us would be ready to abandon the heavens and paradises for a taste of formless bliss in which pleasures and joys are notably absent?  And who of us, thus enabled, would be able to convince others that we know the source from which consciousness arises?  And do so gently, without the passions that power coercion and conversion?