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spirituality 07.pdf

spirituality 07.pdf

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Published by: Francisco Ascencio on Feb 06, 2013
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spirituality - lesson 7: states of conscience

‘some people talk in their sleep. lecturers talk while other people sleep.’ albert camus the concept of consciousness is familiar to us all, but it may be the most mysterious feature of our existence. what exactly is consciousness? what gives us this self-awareness? these questions have occupied philosophers and artists ranging from the writings of kant and hegel to movies like paul verhoeven's ‘total recall’ (based on the novel 'we can remember it for you wholesale' by philip k. dick). recently we assisted a scientific lecturer who said in his introduction ‘right now you might be conscious of my arnold schwarzenegger accent, but you're not conscious of other things in the room. most of the activity in your brain you have no conscious access to. you have no idea how you talk. I don't know how I put the words together. I don't have access to the way I see color, I hear, I analyze language.’ he showed how specific neurons in the brain respond to recognized images and the memories of images. for example, certain neurons in one monkey familiar with o.j. simpson's image ‘fired’ when the monkey saw a picture of simpson but not of elvis, or others. one neuron in a person's brain fired specifically when he saw an animal. another fired when a person saw an image or cartoon of a famous person. another fired at the image of a baseball. only some of the neurons fired when the people were asked to remember certain images. by looking at these patterns of neuron activity and their overlap, the lecturer hopes to gain insight into visual consciousness and recognition.

states of consciousness we may think of sleeping, waking, dreaming as phases of a normal state. if we mean something else by consciousness, perhaps, as different states in themselves, along with a wide range of other conditions of consciousness, we can include intense mental concentration, directed acute visual or aural

observation, sudden recognition, various modes of puzzlement, generalized doubts, or even awe in the mode of the aesthetic sublime. and perhaps also the kinds of moment of voluntary memory. and likewise, the condition of wonder in which socrates had it that philosophizing begins. there are three distinct and recognized states of consciousness • awareness of waking • the world of dreams, in which pictures appear only in the mind unaccompanied by mental pleasures and body pains • deep sleep, or unconsciousness during which one remembers nothing and emerges fresh. while dream experience is short, the waking one is comparatively long. but there is no difference in the constitution, the make-up, or the construction of these two tates. though there is difference between waking and dreaming, there is little difference between the consciousness of waking and the consciousness of dreaming. while the waking state is due to actual perception through senses, dream is brought about by the memory of waking state on account of the impressions of the latter imbedded in the mind, which manifest themselves on suitable occasions. even if to us it seems that there is no consciousness or knowing in deep sleep, there is a persistent memory of one's having slept and experienced relaxation therein. there is a total absence of experience from the point of view of consciousness, but the effect in the form of memory of having slept is enough evidence that there was some sort of experience even in deep sleep.

scientific investigation levels of consciousness change with levels of activation in the brain. different regions of the brain have also been linked to different states of consciousness by

comparing positron emission tomography brain images of sleeping and waking people. different sets of chemicals are associated with the sleeping and waking states as well. the kind of consciousness we feel, is actively controlled by the brain stem, the lower stalk of the brain that connects it to the spinal cord. in different sleep states, the sensory inputs are blocked; at other times the abstract thinking inputs are blocked. different waking states such as daydreaming, being vigilant, relaxed, or drowsy, are also governed by the brain stem in this way. we're beginning to get a rather more complete picture of how consciousness changes with changes in the brain state. consciousness is the forebrain's representation of the world, our bodies and ourselves, and of course this is the great mystery... we still haven't said how this happens. what we can say is - it is always a construction whose level, focus and form depend on the brain stem. stages or phases? the nineteenth- and mid-twentieth-century locution ‘states of matter’ -solid, liquid, gaseousnow are more generally called ‘phases’, as opposed, in later-twentieth-century scientific language, to one of two conditions in a binary system, still called ‘states’.

artists create objects and events that alter and enrich human consciousness. teachers should help art students discover their own, most profound sources of creativity and life. artists use creativity and passion to help the world discovering and expressing the sacred within ourselves. ‘the creative process is a cocktail of instinct, skill, culture and a highly creative feverishness. it is not like a drug; it is a particularstate when everything happens very quickly, a mixture of consciousness and unconsciousness, of fear and pleasure; it’s a little like making love, the physical act of love.’ francis bacon ‘art is not the application of a canon of beauty but what the instinct and the brain can conceive beyond any canon. when we love a woman we don’t start measuring her limbs.’ pablo picasso ‘the scholar seeks truth, the artist finds’ andre gide ‘I dream my painting, and then I paint my dream.’ vincent van gogh


nobody knows for certain why we dream. there are many theories and psychologists are divided about why we dream. so what do you think? why do we dream? is it just a load of nonsense rattling around the brain? are dreams perhaps just the mind's way of cooling the emotions.

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