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Re: More Consciousness

Aug 20, 1996 10:35 AM
by RIhle

Paul M.M.K. writes>
>What do we mean by the Ego? or by Manas? Sure, I can read the texts and get
>the definition there. But do we know what we are talking about when we use
>these words? Most neurophysiologists have trouble with even the notion that
>a "mind" somewhere controls the body ("the ghost in the machine") and here
>Theosophists are proposing "atma-buddhi, the Ego, Manas, etc..It's all too
>much to explain the phenomenom of the human being. Plus - it all has to be
>taken on faith! In that sense - it isn't a science (divine or otherwise).
>How about starting with "Occam's razer" and not proposing more entities than
>are absolutely necessary? I would then begin with the question of whether we
>need to postulate anything other than the physical brain to explain
>consciousness - and go from there.

Richard Ihle writes>
Many valid concerns, Paul.

I agree that the Principal Theosophical Philosophy (PTP) may be doomed unless
we can do a little "shaving."

On the other hand, Jerry S. is a very great champion of one simple concept
regarding theosophical terminology:  all of it is meaningless unless one
undertakes some meditation or other "spiritual" practice which allows one to
start seeing that the terms have some definite "experiental correlatives"
that one can actually get familiar with for oneself.  He was right on the
money in one of his posts to Alan when he said something approximately like,
"It is only after returning to the contrasting states of consciousness
following meditation that one begins to realize that he or she had been in a
less differentiated condition of consciousness."

To a person who has never experienced this, the verbiage might seem empty of
meaning; to a fellow meditator, however, the reaction might be, "Yes, I have
experienced this myself."

Does this mean Jerry and the fellow meditator are necessarily talking about
exactly the same experience?  No.  For example, Jerry and I seem to disagree
on the exact nature of ~manas~ consciousness--his experience is that it can
include the pictorial (inner imagery) while I have a more simple
"word-thought" orientation.  Nonetheless, we talk using the term ~manas~ and
I can see a little of what he means, and perhaps he can sometimes see what I
mean as well.

We continue to talk, I believe, because of a mutual conviction that the other
person has actually experienced ~something~ in his inner life which ~manas~
seems like it should attach to.  If I thought Jerry were just throwing around
the term because he had learned it like a scholar in John Algeo's
Theosophical Academy, I wouldn't bother talking with him about it any more.

At the end of the day, and as more theosophists talk about ~manas~ in light
of their own meditative experiences, the term will probably be more
meaningful.  It might even be able be rendered in English as ~mental~
(desire-mental, mental, Spirit-mental).  For now, however, ~manas~ is
probably OK simply because its meaning is ~not~ quite consensual enough to
give it what would be a more finished English equivalent.

Regarding your statement, "I would then begin with the question of whether we
need to postulate anything other than the physical brain to explain
consciousness--and go from there," I think I am on safe ground when I say
that is ~exactly where~ most theosophists usually do start.  My difference
with you may be in the idea that they need to "postulate" anything at all in
order to "go from there."  My contention is simply that they begin to watch
their inner conditions a little more carefully--perhaps assisted by
meditative practice or other means--and that certain characteristics of
consciousness start revealing themselves on their own.

And one of these characteristics, it seems to me, is that depending upon its
particular "embranglement of the moment" with animating, physical,
desire-feeling, desire-mental, mental, or Spirit-mental nature, consciousness
can be experienced along a "continuum"--from gross to subtle.

Why is it important to know anything about exact details like this at all?

Well, different people may have their own reasons for wanting to know.  Jerry
S. and I probably have at least one similar reason:  better knowledge is
crucial for getting more ~practical control~ over oneself and what one is
able to do.

Never deviating from the idea that the physical brain is the sine qua non of
consciousness is probably wonderful science.  Attaining certain subtle states
of consciousness in meditation and then "analogizing" that an
"Undifferentiated Consciousness" must therefore be one of the pre-existing
Primal Components of creation is undoubtedly rotten science.

However, there are perhaps those on this list who are convinced that the
former model may just produce more scientists looking at the subject as
objective observers . . . while the latter--even if it is "objectively
unsupported" and merely "heuristic"--has the definite potential to produce
Adepts. . . .

But I agree that we could work on our words and thank you for continuing to
remind us of this.


Richard Ihle

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