Thursday 31 January 2019

To understand consciousness can we rely upon the observations and theories of neuroscience?

Recently a friend wrote to me saying that he was caring for his mother, who was in the final stages of dying because of a brain tumour, and that for a year he had been watching the effect it had on her: ‘I followed every moment of her conscious disappearance and with all her reports about that till three days ago when she fell into a terminal coma, just breathing. [...] Layer by layer I observed her fading away: abstract reasoning, language, sight, taste, calculation, self-perception, memory, emotions, equilibrium, movement, then faces recognition, space time comprehension, till the sleeping mode during the day, sudden change of mood, personality, then fear, sorrow, and now coma, tomorrow death’.

He also wrote about the connection between the changes that had been taking place in his mother’s perception, behaviour, understanding, character, response to stimuli and so on and the parts of her brain that were progressively affected by cancer cells, and what neuroscience says about such things, including the idea that ‘consciousness is only an emergent property of the brain’. He wrote that therefore ‘I have to surrender to the hard fact of the causal relation between brain and consciousness’, and asked what Bhagavan’s teachings have to say about such matters. The first section of this article is adapted from my reply to this, and the second section is adapted from my reply to what he wrote in response to my first reply.

Wednesday 30 January 2019

What is deluded is not our real nature but only ego

In my previous article, How to be self-attentive even while we are engaged in other activities?, I adapted a reply that I had written to a friend. In another email the same friend asked ‘How did the ego come about?’ and wrote:
Am I correct to say the following? At the beginning, there was only true self. Then, somehow or other, it deluded itself and believed it to be the ego — which is the root of everything. Then, the ego got reborn over and over. What we are trying to do now is to turn what seems to be the ego within and in so doing, the ego dissolves, revealing true self that it always has been — and thus, ending all our sufferings.

My question is: If our true self is always only aware of itself, how did it delude itself at the very beginning? The “I thought” arises only if one looks outside, correct? So, if our true self is only aware of itself, how does it delude itself to begin with?

Tuesday 29 January 2019

How to be self-attentive even while we are engaged in other activities?

A friend recently wrote to me asking how one can practise self-attentiveness while doing other things, so this article is adapted from the reply that I wrote to her.

The Tamil and Sanskrit terms that Bhagavan used to describe the practice mean or imply not only self-attentiveness but also self-investigation. In any investigation the primary tool is observation, but in self-investigation it is the only tool, so self-investigation and self-attentiveness mean the same and are therefore interchangeable terms. We investigate ourself by observing or attending to ourself.