Tuesday, July 27, 2010

"What Creates Consciousness?" - a blurb to a scientific skeptic

I often get pulled into discussions with folks on spiritual bulletin boards who are interested in exploring scientific proof about consciousness and energetic phenomena. Many of these folks come from scientific and analytic backgrounds. They are what I call "healthy skeptics", meaning they are skeptical, yet their minds are still open to exchanging information with others. It is often a lively exchange. I sense that, in spite of some of their questions and skeptical comments, some do have a genuine curiosity about consciousness. There seems to be a yearning to understand this stuff, but of course, I notice it also is often accompanied with premise that all understanding must come from the world of the mind and logical, deductive reasoning in order to be valid. Such is the world of scientific inquiry, and it's quite understandable.

I think it’s great, how more and more people are becoming curious about this thing called “consciousness”. What is consciousness, exactly? How is it created? How can it be measured? What is it made up of, in terms of physics and atomic behavior? Where's the data? If people claim this stuff called "vibration" exists, well, why hasn’t anyone been able to prove exactly what it is in a lab? Etc etc.

I often enjoy these kinds of thoughtful discussions. They often go a common pattern of the healthy skeptic wanting more proof based on scientific method, reductive reasoning, and “shut up and calculate” kinds of research, and me trying to explain why such research is so difficult to do in the field. The lack of tons of data certainly does not mean that consciousness does not exist. (Of course, folks convinced that the validity of the scientific method reigns over everything else might say, “Well, of course it means it’s all nothing. Since nothing was found, it means there is nothing there to study!”) To me, it only means that it is extremely difficult to find ways to measure this intersection of the unknown frontier of science/energy with consciousness, thought and human emotion.

I’m not against research at all. I’m actually quite fascinated with it. But at the same time, I understand why reliable data has been so difficult to find. There are several reasons for this. Things are changing, though, as better designed studies are yielding more research every year. But overall, I can see why large controlled studies often fall short. It’s not always just about research execution, but also sometimes about the basic premise of what scientists think they are measuring. The answer to this is simply not always as obvious as it may seem. This is often where scientists can miss things because it is in their blind spot, you could say.

I usually tell folks, straight up, that I do not have the scientific background to offer rich discourse on things, once they get past a certain level of scientific complexity. I can only share my experiences and point of view as a healer, and offer that into the conversation. I admit I sometimes get some dubious feedback from hardcore scientific types, but that is OK. I’m not trying to change their mind. At the same time, I let them know that I’m ok with them having a different perspective than me.

At first glance, a healer’s perspective on this stuff might seem radically different from that of the scientist’s. It might seem we have absolutely nothing in common and nothing to talk about. But I do think that we are approaching a realization that the two worlds will come together at some point. We may not see how yet, but I do feel it is a matter of time before science can explain what some people have always known throughout the ages.

The following post is a response I wrote on a bulletin board to “Steve”. Steve was a very analytical and skeptical poster. He wanted to discuss with me the question of, “What creates consciousness?” Steve was very interested in finding proof of whether consciousness even exists. He noted that little has been successfully proven in the scientific literature about this concept of “consciousness” or “energy fields”. Steve reminded me that none of what people claim actually proves the existence of consciousness really shows much of anything. The whole idea of consciousness, the energy of the soul or even energy within the body, he said, has never really been satisfactorily shown in labs or in any meaningful controlled studies. Folks have looked, but no one has found a satisfactory answer amidst the subatomic particles or the expensive and sophisticated equipment. And this was even when people really wanted to prove, well, something.

We posted back and forth on this topic. I found Steve wonderfully informative and patient with me. He explained to me, in laymen’s terms, the details of advanced quantum physics, how light is basically a wave and a particle at the same time. We discussed the double-slit experiment, which is the known phenomena that the observer of an experiment can affect the outcome simply by observing what is happening. It was all interesting to Steve, yet, to him, such things were not sufficient to prove that consciousness even exists. They were just interesting factoids that might show something is there that is worth studying.

Steve wanted to know how and why studying what creates consciousness is so difficult. Steve wanted to know how a scientist should screen out “interference” in results. That is, how can events be eliminated from scientific consideration for not being truly valid?

This is from the middle of a very lengthy thread. Note that my writing style here was more shorthand and free stream than I might normally write on this blog, but I think you will understand it anyway.


Thread Topic: “What Creates Consciousness?”

[start of my post to Steve]

Steve, maybe the easiest way to illustrate is to give you a real life example. How would you go about studying this? I'm thinking of a recent situation where I was asked to work on a man in the ICU, who was in a coma, and terminally ill with metastasized cancer. One day his wife called me to show up so I did. He was hooked up to all kinds of machines.

The minute I started doing my stuff, all the hospital monitors started behaving very strangely. Odd, persistent beeping noises that just wouldn’t stop.

The nurses said, "Oh let me adjust that. It must be on the fritz, it's never done that before." They would come over, adjust the machines, and then once I started doing my work again, the machine would make strange noises again, and they'd come over again to re-adjust it. This happened several times.

Not once did anyone say, "Hmm, I wonder if that has anything to do with what you're doing?" Consciousness again, screening out "interference". What I was doing looked too strange, so it got screened out as weird. It certain couldn't be causal or influential, in terms of what was being observed on a physical and mechanical level. But hey, that's ok, it's not my priority while I'm in the ICU...

So I did my work, and while I did so, the BP monitor on this patient started to change noticeably. I totally ignored the BP monitor but other people in the room were watching. Whatever. I don't believe this could due to placebo since this man was in a deep coma and on a respirator. People who were watching me didn't know what to think, and sort of shrugged it off. But the patient's brother was watching me and the BP monitor, and he said, "Wow, it's dropped 6 points in the last couple minutes since you started. Whatever you're doing, keep doing it," he said.

Oh, ok. I didn't pay him much mind-- my focus was on the patient.

Then at one point, I felt an intense flash go thru me like a wave. It's hard to explain. It felt like a bolt of light come through me. Simultaneously, within half a second or so, this patient in a coma suddenly stirred and woke up. He sat up and waved at me!

Well, I didn't know what else to do but wave back. He was conscious and lucid for about 30 seconds before going back into a coma.

His wife was absolutely delighted, etc. How did this all happen, etc? I don't know and it doesn't matter. I'm there to do my stuff, and this was what I was directed to do.

But to say "nothing happened" because no one could measure anything? I don't know. I couldn't say the same result would happen on the next coma patient, right? I can only say on this patient, at this time, at his level of consciousnes and mine, this did indeed happen.

But it doesn't mean it could ever happen again. Consciousness, again. It'd be impossible to find someone else exactly like him. Or the time and place, etc. No two patients are alike, and neither am I the same, over and over. From my subjective reality, there is a reason why this particular patient and I intersected at that point. Could I prove it? No. But it is a feeling. A consciousness. How on earth would a gadget measure that feeling? BP? Brain waves? I don't know. But this feeling is PART of what is going on here, in the room...

A shut up and calculate person would say, "Well that proves nothing. He could have woken up from his deep coma for a number of reasons, and you just happened to be standing there."

Yes, Steve, this is true. But what do we get out of continuing with that assumption? Nothing new is explored. We're right back where we started.

Meanwhile, unless a researcher thought ask in the design, they might miss the fact that I was burning up from this experience, practically sweating. But the room temp did not change. That is "energy", but how and why and where? If a researcher is only interested in atoms in the room, and there was no discernible energy temp change in the room, it must mean there was no change at the atomic level, and so maybe it was just something weird that I had eaten for breakfast, right? It must have been me who was the "interference".

Yes, this is true. But again, Steve, if you hold to this perspective to screen out "interference" when something happens that does not make sense, nothing is learned. It's all a bunch of "nothing." What if, just what if, me burning up was directly related to the exchange of energy going on with the patient? Isn't that possible? Wouldn't you want to somehow study that?

Ok, going on. This patient was in the terminal phases of cancer. One kidney had been removed. The other was at 5% function, resulting in the need for dialysis. So I worked on that kidney. Meanwhile, I see a whole bunch of colors floating around this man, as well as distortions in the body that go out 3 -4 ft. If you know anything about the chakras, I was lost when looking in the lower body. It felt very odd.

2 days after I did my thing, the wife called all excited, that the remaining kidney had gone from 5% function to 100% function. The doctors were shocked and couldn't explain it. The wife thought it was a miracle. The doctors were satisfied enough with his condition that they allowed him to be released to go home.

A shut up and calculate person would assume this could have been for a number of things. Maybe it was that months of dialysis somehow magically worked in the same 48 hrs. It certainly couldn't be due to someone coming in and being with this man for 35 min. Especially if "nothing happened."

Meanwhile, I can't prove I had anything to do with it either, right? I might assume my work had some hand in this, but how and how much? Who knows. But that is not my main focus. I do my stuff and we go from there.

Back to the story: My consciousness knew this was not a miracle in the sense that the wife hoped, but more of a final reprieve. I can't tell you how I knew, I just knew. (How would a gadget measure that? I wonder.) His wife's consciousnes thought it was a miracle of full recovery. The doctors' consciousness was it was just spontaneous improvement of the kidney, due to whatever factor. "Just luck -- sometimes it just happens".

So, 3 different consciousnesses, 3 different interpretations, right?

Anyway, so this man was sent home. And in the week following, I had several recurring dreams where I knew this man was not going to live much longer. I "knew" in a very conscious way, with information that came from "somewhere else", that this man had asked me to show up and help him because he wanted to die at home, around his family. ICU is a most un-fun place.

Where did these dreams come from, Steve? I have no idea. It is subjective. It is consciousness, this thing you state you'd like to study. Or would you regard my dreams just a crazy firing of neurons in the brain, a product of my own biological processes that don't mean anything? Would you get a gadget that could measure whether the air in the room changed as I dreamt? I don't know. Did the atoms in the room act differently while I slept? How on earth do you measure the quantum energy of dreams? By measuring brain activity? That doesn't give you anything new on this. It's just, well, brain activity.

Shut up and calculate would say it was just a coincidental dream. Happens all the time. Firing of neurons and stuff -- that's all it is, right?

And I would have no way to express to anyone that these dreams were different in thier quality than regular dreams. How does a gadget measure that? Who'd believe me anyway?

Sure enough, 5 weeks later, this man died at home, peacefully and surrounded by family.

A friend who is a medium called me up the following day and said, "He wants to tell you how thankful he is for what you did. He is delighted now. Beaming. Happy and out of pain. He wants you to know this."

Oh. Ok. Well, how do you calculate this, Steve? You'd have to have had someone run over and measure what my medium friend had experienced, in the form of vision and clairaudience. You'd have to have expected this to happen, to be ready for it. But no, I don't usually get calls from my friend with stuff like this. This was unusual. It was specific to this event only. Not repeatable.

Meanwhile, the couple days after he died, I kept noticing several same model/color Porsches on the road next to me that he drove. Unusual. I don't usually see them ever, and over the next two days I saw 3 of them. My consciousness just sensed something was unusual.

Shut up and calculate would assume this had nothing to do with it. Just my heightened sensitivity, right? LOA enthusiasts might say somehow I was "manifesting" these cars or something. That must be it, right? That would be a LOA's consciousness interpretation. Mine is different, and equally valid. I see it more as a message. How would you get a QM gadget to account for something like this? Do we assume atoms responded differently because I was somehow looking for porsches, for no reason? And then quantum theory made them suddenly materialize? How is that different from when a message from the other side shows up, that I wasn't even looking for? That's consciousness too, right?

And at the end of the day, after all of this, shut up and calculate would say, "Well, it was still a negative result. The man died. All your work was for naught. So in the end, energy work amounted to absolutely nothing."

But someone with a different consciousness might notice all the unusual things that occurred with this and say, "Hmmm, what could have happened here?"

My point is, this series of events probably have no meaning to anyone except me. I can't imagine they are of much interest to a researcher, especially if they aren't looking for these factors. These are meaningful to me only due to subjective consciousness. To someone using an objective lens, feggetaboutit. It's all just getting carried away with meaningless coincidences and such, right?

I tell this story to illustrate all the various spectrums of consciousness that get involved in any one seemingly "simple" situation. Blue, green, yellow. Different observers in the room had different conclusions on what was happening. No one can be proven "right", but what is interesting is the questions that are not asked and the assumptions that were made. Consciousness, again. Manifestation -- what made a patient in a coma decide to wake up and wave at me? A weird wave sensation in my body a split second before the patient woke up. (Was that predictive consciousness? Transmitting of split atom particles or something? I have no idea, maybe you can tell me.) What about energy that cannot be measured? Heat that happens in the body during the work, apparently for no logical physics reason. I feel it, but no one else in the room seemed to. Does that mean it didn't happen? Machine behavior that changes. Me saying I see colors and distortions in the air around this man. A failed organ that comes back to life suddenly and unexpectedly. A friend who knew nothing about any of this calling me to tell me stuff, as if somehow he had been pinged by something or someone in the ether to do so. All of these things are parts of the whole.

None of these things on their own is probably that interesting. "So what??" some reductionists would say. But put all of these things together, it is up to the observer if they wish to see anything at all. Is there any pattern whatsoever worth looking at? That, of course, would depend on the interpreter's consciousness. Which, from my pov, is the biggest irony in this of all, given that consciousness is what the interpreter is trying to analyze. The scientist may totally miss the fact that his own consciousness does impact how he interprets his analysis of how he thinks consciousness works. Does the whole of all of it seem bigger than the sum of its parts? One researcher might say, "Hmm, maybe there is something here worth looking at," while another researcher might say, "No, it is all in your mind and a bunch of coincidences."

This is the kind of stuff I deal with all the time. I know in my consciousness things are happening. I know that reality is bending. And if things like this keep happening with the work, though in diferent ways, then what? What would that mean? But then again, someone else may dispute this all together, and have the opposite opinion. It's fine by me.

So, Steve, what would you suggest? Do you really feel an instrumentalist approach would adequately capture all the nuances of this scenario? Would it really give you anything new, in terms of how to understand consciousness or even energy movement? Or would it only measure one part, find nothing, and conclude nothing was there?

You could, of course, simply dismiss everything here that happened, including all that was experienced by the patient, myself, the wife and the observers. Maybe there is some explanation for everything and we can all go home now and stop looking...problem solved.

But I would hope that wouldn't be the only answer people can reach for. I do not have the answers. I just happen to think there is more going on than meets the eye. More stuff worth considering and studying, if scientists want to. But only if people are willing to change their perception about they think they are studying.

[End of my post to Steve]

Upon hearing my story, Steve was very cordial and open to discussing it more, from different angles. I could sense from his reaction that I had at least stirred a bit of curiosity in him. At least he didn't dismiss me outright as being crazy for thinking what I did. And although he understandably could not arrive at any conclusion from my story to say “Oh yes, something definitely was happening!” Steve did admit that it was an interesting series of events. He was open to the possibility, but more importantly, he started to appreciate my pov on how I look at things differently than in a typical scientific reductionist model.

To me, that was a success, to just open a scientist’s mind that there might be so much we still do not know. It's nice to have people curious and wanting to study this field more, with a richer and wider perspective. Because of this, I consider my story telling effort with Steve a job well done! :)

What do you think? I welcome your comments!

Adele Wang
Certified energy healer and mentor, helping smart, intuitive, perfectionist women create happiness and success in an imperfect world

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  1. Thanks Adele, for showing me something interesting. I'm glad to have crossed paths with you, and I hope that you know that this "scientific skeptic" (although, pragmatist probably suits me better) is still on the path to creating consciousness. ;)

    --- "Steve"

  2. Hi "Steve"! So nice to get your post. I enjoyed our discussion on this topic! Thanks so much for your feedback, I'm glad you are going to discover how to create consciousness!! When you do, write a book and tell me all about it!

    Have a great day!



  3. Wonderfully written. Thank you for sharing!