“A question came up for me after watching your zoom with Robert Saltzman. There was a part where you said that consciousness and material reality is like the chicken and egg question – “There is no way we can answer that.” I totally agree with you. It feels so much better when we just say, I DON’T KNOW!
It reminded me of a Rupert Spira video where a scientist was claiming that the brain creates consciousness and Rupert was saying no consciousness is all there is. My question to you is, why are spiritual teachers and scientists so determined to state their own conclusions about brain and consciousness so definitely? And why does Shiv come in denying both sides of the game?”
Nobody really fucking knows.
That is the whole and most honest version of the truth you will ever read in the written word.
We don’t know how any of this is happening. How there is even an awareness of it happening. We don’t even know what consciousness is. We don’t even understand what matter is.
Some say reality is fundamentally material, but don’t really know what “material” is. Others say reality is fundamentally consciousness, but don’t really know what “consciousness” is.
These are all words we have invented to grasp an absurd and unexplainable phenomenon of existence. Stuff exists. No one knows how. No one knows why. No one even knows what “existence” is.
The commonly held dualistic view is that there is a self that exists independently of the existence of all else. The non-dualistic view is that there is no such separate self. That all that exists is simply one. A whole. But what is that whole? Nobody knows. What is the all-that-is? Nobody knows. What is the self that is not separate? Nobody knows.
You have to understand, every philosophical argument hinges on an assumption. It is a hypothesis, nothing more. But often these assumptions get completely buried under layers of ideas and concepts that begin to appear robust and airtight over time. Yet, the entire structure is balanced on the head of a pin – that single assumption that was simply taken for granted and ignored. Yet, the moment you see that it’s nothing more than an assumption, the entire house of cards falls.
You asked me why scientists and teachers are so determined to convince us of what reality is. The simple answer is : they are afraid. They are afraid of living in a universe of such asphyxiating uncertainty. Of existing in a reality in which NOTHING is absolutely true. Things are only true in relation to other things.
But it isn’t just philosophers and scientists. It’s all of us. We have built civilization in order to avoid this very harsh aspect of life.
Think about what “civilizes” us. Our laws, our ethics, our morals, our freedoms, our rights and privileges. These are all equally made up. For example, we hold the idea of “human rights” very dear. We are all for protecting human rights all over the globe. But what is “human rights”? It is an idea, nothing more. Built on the assumption of such a thing called a “right”.
When you look at nature, there are no such things as rights and privileges. There is no morality nor ethical code. There is no law, no freedoms.
Yet, in our everyday lives these words mean something. We want women’s “rights”, we want “freedom” for those who live under oppression, we want to establish “laws” that regulate gun control and so on. And we assert these points of view with certainty.
Someone living in Saudi Arabia may assert that men and women are not equal and so should not be treated equally. A progressive western person may claim that they are equal and so they should have equal rights.
What’s the difference between this argument and asserting that the brain creates consciousness or consciousness is all there is?
Both arguments hinge on assumptions that are entirely ignored.
The first argument’s assumption is that something called “equality” exists. Equality and inequality are only ideas. A hypothesis. Nothing more. It stems from creationist theories about all human beings being created equal in the eyes of “god”. Even if this idea appeals to us on an intuitive level, it still doesn’t prove anything.
And so by making this simple assumption of “equality”, we have built our modern democracies which seem to work out relatively well for us and most people seem happy with it. So, “equality” feels like a relatively workable hypothesis. But that still does not make it true.
When you see presidential candidates debating abortion laws based on whether a woman’s right supersedes the right of the foetus – have you ever seen a candidate ever ask the question, “but what are “rights” exactly”? They’d be booed off stage!
Everyone is happy to question things at the surface level and debate matters until they are blue in the face. But very few are willing to dig deeper. Because the deeper you get, it all begins to appear very weird and wonky. Things make less and less sense. And when you finally get to the base of it all, you get the shock of your life.
Because the whole fucking thing is just MADE UP.
Even these words I’m using to communicate all this are totally made up sounds. If I go to Uzbekistan, most people won’t understand the sounds coming out of my mouth and I won’t understand the sounds coming out of theirs.
Seeing that this whole thing is just make believe is the biggest mindfuck one can experience in human form. The cognitive dissonance is incredible. There appears no practical way in which to continue living in society from this perspective. What reason is there to obey the law? To cast a political vote? To adhere to an ethical standard in business? To behave in a moral manner within society? Yet, there is no reason not to either. It’s literally all baseless. None of its real. It’s just an idea someone had that someone else ran with and built upon and so on it continued over and over. A complex web built out of nothing but a fundamental assumption.
At the end of the rabbit hole is a wonderland where absolutely nothing makes sense. It’s all utterly bizarre – sometimes comical, sometimes wondrous and sometimes horrifying. What the fuck is everyone up to on this godforsaken planet? Like Alice, one just wants to find a way out of the madness. To just wake up and heave a sigh of relief that it was all just an unfortunate dream.
You asked me, why people assert reality with such certainty? Because the alternative is just too unfathomable to conceive. Why do scientists assert that the brain is fundamental? Why do spiritual teachers assert consciousness is? Because they are all terrified children.
You tell me you’re comfortable saying, “I don’t know”. But how far does your “I don’t know” go? How deep does it go?
What are you willing to stake? Your reputation? Your family? Your career? Your own identity? Because all of that will unravel when you take that “I don’t know” deep enough. It’s all built upon an assumption. Everything you know, think, desire, hold dear, love. Everything unravels. It all begins to come apart the moment you probe deeply enough.
That’s a scary place to go. And I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone in the world.
So, let the spiritual teachers have their reality in which consciousness comes first. Let, the scientists have their reality in which the brain creates it. You also have your reality in which there are many things you think are true that you have yet to unravel and discover that you “don’t really know”.
But if you are determined to follow that thread as far as it goes. If you are driven by some maniacal need to keep exploring that rabbit hole to the very end. You will find out that UNKNOWABILITY is the fundamental nature of life. Existence cannot be known. Only “things” can be known in RELATION to other “things”. Like words have meaning in relation to other words. All of existence is essentially like language. Mostly symbolic. Hardly any of it is what we think or perceive it is.
“I don’t know” is both the beginning and the end of the circular journey of wisdom. It is it’s only natural start and only natural conclusion. And when that journey is complete, there is nothing left to do but to simply live whatever this is.