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I recently became aware of questions regarding the location of consciousness. The argument put forward is that the consciousness is separate to the body. This is not something I considered before.

The first is conjecture by a Doctor Fenwick https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/think-well/201906/does-consciousness-exist-outside-the-brain

"Hence, in Fenwick’s view, the brain does not create or produce consciousness; rather, it filters it. As odd as this idea might seem at first, there are some analogies that bring the concept into sharper focus. For example, the eye filters and interprets only a very small sliver of the electromagnetic spectrum and the ear registers only a narrow range of sonic frequencies. Similarly, according to Fenwick, the brain filters and perceives only a tiny part of the cosmos’ intrinsic “consciousness.” Fenwick is not a physicist, so I dredged the following link, the mind of wigners friend which supports the Fenwicks theory.

The second is based on quantum mechanics https://www.jstor.org/stable/23040667?read-now=1&seq=1 The key points central to the article are

"A. My body with its internal nervous system(explored to any future degree of physiological completeness) functions as a pure mechanism according to the laws of nature. Further more quantum mechanics is the ultimate basis of the mechanism.

B. I am aware that by incontrovertible direct evidence of knowledge (information) entering my consciousness."

The 3rd is offered as evidence of the first 2 links https://youtu.be/Uq8l4XVfgPA

Am I correct in thinking if all the information in the universe exists in a timeless dimension(membrane) of space and our brains only access a part of it, making us who we are. Can we access more information towards enlightenment maybe? or sixth senses? via meditation a bit like the Buddha may have done?

In particular can any one point out if there are any errors in the second link that might make its central argument incorrect?

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – ChrisW Apr 9 at 11:24
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"I am aware that by incontrovertible direct evidence of knowledge (information) entering my consciousness."

This sounds to me like the same kind of nonsense as, "I think therefore I am" -- which I reckon Buddhism might denounce as "inappropriate attention".

Am I correct in thinking if all the information in the universe exists in a timeless dimension(membrane) of space and our brains only access a part of it, making us who we are.

Part of Buddhist doctrine is that there is "sense-consciousness" -- see for example Vijñāna (Wikipedia).

So for example there is:

  • Visual organ (eye)
  • Visual object (a sight)
  • Visual consciousness
  • Contact of the above (i.e. of organ and object with consciousness)

And this is true of each of the senses. And there's considered to be not only five but also a sixth sense:

  • Mental organ -- i.e. "mind"
  • Mental object -- e.g. "thought"
  • Plus consciousnesss and contact

So the mind is a sense organ which perceives mental objects.

So far as I know there's no especial "location" of the mind.

I guess I wouldn't say that the eye "filters" sights, as if there's a universal reservoir of unseen sight -- I reckon something isn't even a sight unless or except when it is seen.

Similarly, "information in the universe existing in a timeless dimension (membrane) of space" sounds to me like another theory that is "not even wrong".

Can we access more information towards enlightenment maybe? or sixth senses? via meditation a bit like the Buddha may have done?

I guess there's any number of possible theories or models of the world, but few of them are accurate and useful.

The Buddha formulated and taught some good theories or models -- called "the Dharma" or the Buddha-Dharma.

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  • I am beginning to think there is some confusion, between different buddhist ideas. "The majority of Buddhist traditions, in contrast, assert that Vijnana (a person's consciousness) though evolving, exists as a continuum and is the mechanistic basis of what undergoes rebirth, rebecoming and redeath.[4][11][12] Some traditions assert that the rebirth occurs immediately, while others such as the Tibetan Buddhism posits an interim state wherein as many of 49 days pass between death and rebirth and this belief drives the local funerary rituals." – Handy Andy Apr 3 at 14:20
  • A persons consciousness is what is reborn according to Tibetan Buddhist belief. Is this an incorrect statement? – Handy Andy Apr 3 at 14:22
  • The "not even wrong" statement can be applied to many religious beliefs as well as many speculative scientific subjects. Are you you applying this to Tibetan Buddhist beliefs? – Handy Andy Apr 3 at 14:25
  • There are a lot of questions about 'rebirth' on this site. It was one of the first questions I asked (here). – ChrisW Apr 3 at 14:28
  • I'm not at all qualified to explain the Tibetan belief/understanding and to confirm whether it's this or that. At best I know something of the Pali suttas. – ChrisW Apr 3 at 14:30
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It is never a good idea to mix the speculations of the modern rationalists with buddhism. In buddhism, the location of consciousness is irrelevant. The thing to know about consciousness is this:

"He discerns consciousness, the origination of consciousness, the cessation of consciousness, the path of practice leading to the cessation of consciousness. He discerns the allure of consciousness, the drawback of consciousness, and the escape from consciousness.

"And what is consciousness? These six classes of consciousness: eye-consciousness, ear-consciousness, nose-consciousness, tongue-consciousness, body-consciousness, intellect-consciousness. This is called consciousness. From the origination of name-&-form comes the origination of consciousness. From the cessation of name-&-form comes the cessation of consciousness. And just this noble eightfold path is the path of practice leading to the cessation of consciousness, i.e., right view, right resolve, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration. The fact that pleasure & happiness arises in dependence on consciousness: that is the allure of consciousness. The fact that consciousness is inconstant, stressful, subject to change: that is the drawback of consciousness. The subduing of desire & passion for consciousness, the abandoning of desire & passion for consciousness: that is the escape from consciousness.

"For any brahmans or contemplatives who by directly knowing consciousness in this way, directly knowing the origination of consciousness in this way, directly knowing the cessation of consciousness in this way, directly knowing the path of practice leading to the cessation of consciousness in this way, directly knowing the allure of consciousness in this way, directly knowing the drawback of consciousness in this way, directly knowing the escape from consciousness in this way, are practicing for disenchantment — dispassion — cessation with regard to consciousness, they are practicing rightly. Those who are practicing rightly are firmly based in this doctrine & discipline. And any brahmans or contemplatives who by directly knowing consciousness in this way, directly knowing the origination of consciousness in this way, directly knowing the cessation of consciousness in this way, directly knowing the path of practice leading to the cessation of consciousness in this way, directly knowing the allure of consciousness in this way, directly knowing the drawback of consciousness in this way, directly knowing the escape from consciousness in this way, are — from disenchantment, dispassion, cessation, lack of clinging/sustenance with regard to consciousness — released, they are well-released. Those who are well-released are fully accomplished. And with those who are fully accomplished, there is no cycle for the sake of describing them.

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn22/sn22.057.than.html

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  • Would it have been better to use the word spirit or self rather than consciousness. What is reborn/reincarnated in Theravada Buddhism. – Handy Andy Apr 2 at 15:00
  • How does cessation of consciousness meet with Tibetan Buddhist rebirth beliefs. A continuation of consciousness from one life to the next? – Handy Andy Apr 3 at 14:30
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The experience of infinite consciousness is listed throughout the suttas. For example:

AN9.41:12.2: ‘Why don’t I, going totally beyond the dimension of infinite space, aware that “consciousness is infinite”, enter and remain in the dimension of infinite consciousness?’

Also note that identity view causes problems and should be relinquished:

MN64:5.2: Their heart is overcome and mired in identity view,

As for consciousness itself, we have several definitions, including:

MN43:4.3: “It’s called consciousness because it cognizes. It cognizes ‘pleasure’ and ‘pain’ and ‘neutral’.

The Buddha in particular emphasizes that it is a pitfall to entangle notions of self with consciousness.

MN148:10.13: If anyone says, ‘eye consciousness is self,’ that is not tenable.

Other disciplines such as physics will provide information about entanglement. Here we discuss Buddhism, which deals with the end of suffering, the cessation of identity view.

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  • Thankyou very much all for the replies. Theravada Buddhism allows for reincarnation. If it is not the consciousness which is reincarnated in another body, what is? The Dalai Lama, the Indian girl in the video above, perhaps, all reincarnated ?????. Reincarnated consciousness or self or ????? – Handy Andy Apr 3 at 10:13
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The Pali suttas say consciousness is caused (hetu) by the mind-body:

The four great elements, bhikkhu, are the cause and condition for the manifestation of the body aggregate.

Cattāro kho, bhikkhu, mahābhūtā hetu, cattāro mahābhūtā paccayo rūpakkhandhassa paññāpanāya.

Mind and body is the cause and condition for the manifestation of the consciousness aggregate.

Nāmarūpaṃ hetu, nāmarūpaṃ paccayo viññāṇakkhandhassa paññāpanāyā ti.

SN 22.82

The Pali suttas say consciousness cannot arise without sense organs and other aggregates as a condition (paccaya):

It's good, monks, that you understand the Dhamma taught by me in this way, for in many ways I have said of dependently co-arisen consciousness, 'Apart from a requisite condition, there is no coming-into-play of consciousness.'

Consciousness, monks, is classified simply by the requisite condition in dependence on which it arises. Consciousness that arises in dependence on the eye & forms is classified simply as eye-consciousness. Consciousness that arises in dependence on the ear & sounds is classified simply as ear-consciousness. Consciousness that arises in dependence on the nose & aromas is classified simply as nose-consciousness. Consciousness that arises in dependence on the tongue & flavors is classified simply as tongue-consciousness. Consciousness that arises in dependence on the body & tactile sensations is classified simply as body-consciousness. Consciousness that arises in dependence on the intellect & ideas is classified simply as intellect-consciousness.

MN 38


Were someone to say, 'I will describe a coming, a going, a passing away, an arising, a growth, an increase, or a proliferation of consciousness apart from form, from feeling, from perception, from fabrications,' that would be impossible.

SN 22.53

It follows Fenwick's scientific attempt to prove the existence of 'god' is wrong according to Buddhism.

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  • Fenwick does not try to prove the existence of god. What he is suggesting is that the consciousness/soul, however you describe it exists independently of the body. If this is the case then it might cast some light on reincarnation, which I understand is a belief in Theravada buddhism – Handy Andy Apr 3 at 10:05
  • Reincarnation is not a belief in original Buddhism – Dhammadhatu Apr 3 at 20:37
  • Am I correct in thinking that Buddhism originates from Hinduism which does believe in reincarnation? Am I also correct in thinking some forms of Buddhism do believe in reincarnation? Do Buddhists still diagree ref The Cosmic self en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… ? – Handy Andy Apr 4 at 9:34
  • Thankyou very much all for the answers? – Handy Andy Apr 4 at 9:34
  • Before Buddhism, the main religion was called Brahmanism. Hinduism probably evolved out of Buddhism. In the Pali suttas, there appear to be basically no discussions between the Buddha & the Brahmins about reincarnation. It seems the Brahmins believed in a "heaven" or "other world". Regards – Dhammadhatu Apr 4 at 9:48
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Some people think that consciousness is like a non-local(is everywhere) radiation and the brain is like an antenna fascilitating the arising of perception locally.

The way to criticize this is asking just on what basis the non-local phenomena can be said to exist if they aren't perceived locally.

This is impossible to do.

The way Einstein explained it is that if observer A is moving in the direction of electromagnetic emission, he is moving towards the incoming radiation and will eventually upon contact perceive the visible which was emitted. He will perceive it before the Observer B who is stationary, not moving towards the emission source of the visible light and the contact for this person will occur later.

EG; When a stationary observer B perceives an occurence of contact, here perceiving two lightning strikes, one to the front and another to the rear of a fast moving train, sumultaneously striking front and rear; the observer A being inside the moving train, moving towards what is in front, away from the rear, will inevitably perceive the occurence of lightning strikes consequtively, first upon contact with the emission from the front and later the contact with the light from the rear, the occurence of perception of the two lightnings isn't simultaneous as is for observer A.

Observer A and observer B would not be able to agree on whether the lightnings struck simultaneously or consequently. Here are essentially two different worlds, one where the lightning struck simultaneously and another where time passed between the first and the second discharge.

Occurence is only a local perspective. Without an observer there is no occurence to speak of.

We can only talk of a world in as far as it is conceived and perceived.

Ie; the eye is of the world, the eye conceives and perceives the world. That which in the world which conceives and perceives the world is called the world, there is no world outside of that in the world which conceives and perceives the world.

Occurence of observation requires a world wherein the observer exists and wherein the observing occurs. The existence of the world requires the occurence of contact in the world which begets perception.

In other words the existence of a world depends on the occurence of it's observation and it's observation depends on the existence of the world.

In other words the existence of matter depends on consciousness whilst consciousness depends on the existence of matter.

Therefore speaking of a non local existence of anything which isn't locally conceived and perceived,is unwarranted.

Buddha says consciousness has formations as a requisite condition and formations have consciousness as a requisite condition. A supports B, B supports A, thus come about a structure; as if two reeds were placed supporting each other, a supports b and b supporting a, thus forming a structure and in the context of a structure the two reeds are spoken of as one another's respective requisites and elements fascilitating the occurence of 'a structure'.

If one takes away one reed, the structure collapses, ceases to exist. There is then no structure to speak of and no requisites for it's occurence to speak of. Similarly was one to remove a dependently arisen element the whole context of dependently arisen phenomena collapses with no elements to speak of.

Here the seen, the heard, the felt, the smelled, the tasted and the cognized is the structure complete with it's inferable supporting conditions and elements.

The whole world in it's entirety is conceived locally by this or that being but because all locations are conceived locally it is effectively non local. This is how there can be instanteneous transmission of information between two points in space (faster than the speed of causality [speed of "light"] would allow), that is because both points are conveived locally in as far as space element itself is a local conception of this or that being.

Is also why you can get seemingly magical superpowers by sufficiently integrating a proper understanding of phenomena, their occurence and interplay.

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  • This article claims a 6 sigma proof that consciousness is external to the body. researchgate.net/publication/… If this paper is correct then some of the beliefs on this forum might be wrong ref re birth. – Handy Andy Apr 7 at 21:23
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You are asking about making a delineation of a delineation: 'where exactly, within experience, is consciousness present, where is it not, where is the line that separates the two?'.

Answering in QM terms, here is a paper that demonstrates that inanimate objects make choices.. In other words, that the delineation of 'life as at least a cell, or life as at least a virus', is limited and flawed.

Life (access to choice - consciousness), it is all that is impermanent (anicca), unsatisfactory (dukkha), and not-self (anatta).. in other words, all conditioned experience - rock or sage.

Nibbana, not impermanent, not unsatisfactory, and not-self, is beyond that.

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    I guess the release from rebirths with the ultimate goal of reaching nervana, might have been what I was asking about. ie what undergoes the rebirth. I had assumed it was consciousness, from what I had read and been told. Clearly many buddhists believe rebirth is wrong, and others accept it as fact. I have been thinking reaching nervana was when you no longer had the desire to be reborn. – Handy Andy Apr 5 at 11:36
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Can we access more information towards enlightenment maybe? or sixth senses? via meditation a bit like the Buddha may have done?

Perhaps i'm rehashing what other users already has pointed out, but: Buddha did not "access information towards enlightenment". Using your choice of words, moving towards enlightenment is conversely a path of relinquishing information access (in short):

"Whenever thinking imbued with sensuality had arisen, I simply abandoned it, dispelled it, wiped it out of existence."

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.019.than.html

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