I first became acquainted with the deep thinking of Peter Russell during my first visit to Australia in the mid 1980s.  I still have a copy of an amazing article in which he placed the following question.  If you detached and placed your 5 senses in one room and the rest of your body in another room, where are YOU?  Makes you think huh?

The other day, Peter posted an article in the Huffington Post.  Let me paraphrase it so I can make a couple of observations. 

Does Our Brain Really Create Consciousness?

Posted: 06/ 9/11 09:00 AM ET


[Sky] Consciousness gives western science the shivers.  The accepted measurement tools give little certainty and feelings and intuition are considered invalid.  No-one will deny that we observe, we know, and we know that we know.  Within the present materialistic paradigm, some “thing,” some “function,” must “make” this happen.  The brain is the most obvious “maker.” 

Peter states:  [my parenthesis] “When the anomaly can no longer be ignored, the common reaction is to attempt to explain it within the current paradigm.

(1)      Some believe that a deeper understanding of brain chemistry will provide the answers; perhaps consciousness resides in the action of neuropeptides.

(2)     Others look to quantum physics; the minute microtubules found inside nerve cells could create quantum effects that might somehow contribute to consciousness.

(3)     Some explore computing theory and believe that consciousness emerges from the complexity of the brain’s processing.

(4)     Others find sources of hope in chaos theory.

Yet whatever ideas are put forward, one thorny question remains: How can something as immaterial as consciousness ever arise from something as unconscious as matter?”

Peter continues to suggest that perhaps the brain does not “create” consciousness but that consciousness: “Instead, the capacity for consciousness is an inherent quality of life itself.” 

So, let us think about this.  So consciousness is not a “function.”  Consciousness is a quality and as with other qualities of life, it is interconnected and interrelated.  In other words, qualities are in relationship and can only be understood by observing and realizing that we ourselves are part of that relationship. 

So we need a shift in our basic beliefs about certainty and validity.  To define a thing or get to know a thing by chopping it up and subjecting it to various measurement is an extremely limited venture. 

For example, if extraterrestrial beings used our present methods to figure out how a television set worked, they would dismantle it and analyze its contents.  However, nothing that they could examine would explain what fed the tuner or how and where the TV signals come about.  I suggest the same thing would happen if they diced a computer.  Placing main memory, an I/O unit, the CD player and other parts under the microscope will never reveal “how it works.” 

Peter quite appropriately stops here and skips the “what ifs” and the “isn’t it possible.”  I like his closing paragraph:  “This proposal is so contrary to the current paradigm, that die-hard materialists easily ridicule and dismiss it. But we should not forget the bishops of Galileo’s time who refused to look through his telescope because they knew his discovery was impossible.”

As a non-scientist, I do not feel embarrassed at speculating.  If, as Peter suggests, consciousness is a quality that we are rather than the result of a bodily function, then perhaps it doesn’t exist within the body in one of our organs.  Our scientific instruments certainly have not found the seat of consciousness.  Correct me if I am wrong, but I don’t believe the scientific establishment can even agree on what consciousness even “is” or whether or not it even “exists.”  If we were correct in understanding consciousness as a quality of life itself, then it certainly is not preposterous that we should suspect that consciousness is not a “thing” that we have but a quality that we “are.”  How about the next small step?  Following, maybe what we label consciousness is simply a word for an aspect of being an Earthling and what we think “belongs” to us actually “belongs” to Gaia.  Surely it cannot be surprising that a living being, such as Gaia, has such a quality and that it permeates all life.  Now there is a thing?