It is with some humility, surprise, and measured delight that I acknowledge the accumulation of over 50,000 blog views here on John’s Consciousness. While I generally find it surprising that any greater-than-normal number of visitors stop by to read here in a day or within a particular week or month as the statistics report, this exceptional volume exceeds anything I myself would have predicted, and even though it has taken about three and a half years of serious effort and attention to my writing in order to gather this many views, I must report a degree of astonishment that it happened at all.
There are many other blogs here at WordPress.com with far more followers and views than mine, and I appreciate well, by that measure, how small this number must seem to those writers and readers who float far above this level, but for me, it feels almost surreal to see this number now when I view the statistics page. It is probably much more of a statement about the interest in the subject of my blog as opposed to any other consideration, but it still feels like I might just be finally making sufficient progress in my work to warrant a degree of interest in the world at large. Most of the views, naturally, have come from the United States, but notable volumes of views have also arrived from India, Canada, France, Australia, Germany, the Phillipines, and the UK. Recently, hundreds of visits have begun to appear from Brazil, the Netherlands, Russia, Indonesia. Thailand, and Spain. The interest in the subject is clearly one that is shared by many cultures across the globe. I occasionally receive comments and emails which have to be translated, but have been surprised to see that many international visitors are able to ask their questions and make comments in English.
To say that this endeavor has been rewarding and fulfilling is to understate it in the extreme. I have enjoyed every aspect of the writing and research over the years, and the challenge continues to be creating and contributing content that is beneficial to my goals as a writer, as well as of interest to the readers from all over the world. It is also humbling when I consider the number of responses and the character of the dialog that continues to intrigue me and compel me to continue. It is my hope to further contribute to the discussion world-wide on the subject of human consciousness in the weeks and months to come, and to expand on this humble beginning to encourage a greater understanding and appreciation for the significance of our indisputable connection to each other, and to the universe in which we exist, through a dedicated pursuit of coming to terms with the nature of humanity, of consciousness itself, and the human spirit.
I would like very much to express my gratitude and great respect for all those who contributed to this milestone, and to express my hope that those who visit here will, at the very least, be to some degree enriched and encouraged to pursue their own ideas, and to share them with me in the weeks and months to come. It is not lost on me that a fair number of the visits here have clearly come from a degree of regular attention by a smaller numerical number of visitors, and while it still represents a fair amount of attention from my perspective, I understand that all my writing and research represents only a beginning for myself and others in making forward progress toward gaining a deeper understanding of the nature of consciousness, and I continue to feel fortunate to have the opportunity to not only share my thoughts and ideas on the subject, but to share that opportunity with so many other amazing and interesting people who visit.
In the coming months, I will be outlining the results of my research and writing in the articulation of a theory of mine, based on almost thirty years of dedicated attention to the subject of consciousness, and I hope you will all ride along with me, and encourage others to join in the discussion as time progresses.
With great appreciation and hope in the future……John H.
“Until the sixteenth century, men in general thought of space and time as though they were limited compartments in which objects were juxtaposed and interchangeable. The human mind believed itself to be perfectly at home in this universe, within which it tranquilly wove its pattern of metaphysics. And then one day this attitude began to change. Spatially our awareness of the world was extended to embrace the Infinitesimal and the Immense-the general and also the irreversible modification of perceptions, ideas, problems: These are (two) indications that the spirit has acquired an added dimension…showing our accession beyond all ideologies and systems, to a different and higher sphere–a new spiritual dimension.” — Pierre Teilhard de Chardin from “The Growth of Consciousness.”
Most of the reading I have done in the realm of human consciousness has left me most often unsatisfied with a strictly empirical approach in particular, but it seems clear that there are measurable and quantifiable components to the mechanisms through which our subjective experience of the world becomes manifest, which contribute in important ways to our understanding generally, and are therefore important to consider in achieving a more comprehensive understanding. I recently encountered a book by Arthur I. Miller called, “Deciphering the Cosmic Number,” about the relationship between Wolfgang Pauli and Carl Jung, that points to the benefits of collaboration and synthesis of the diverse approaches to achieving progress in creating a new perspective that eliminates the limitations of following more than just one narrow path. Jung has, thus far, been the most interesting and even-handed author, scholar, and empiricist, blending to the largest degree, both the scientific and the spiritual in his deliberations without diminishing the importance of either. His insistence on the scientific method in his research did not preclude the inclusion of the spiritual possibilities that are inherent in any discussion of living beings.
In some sense, what we may wish to describe as non-physical or spiritual phenomena, when they become manifest in the temporal, appear through discernible mechanisms. Even though the source of such manifestations may not be accessible to conventional scientific methodology, nor any way exist currently of confirming a spiritual component to human nature, at least none that might be considered plausible by any scientific standard, Jung was able to bridge the chasm between the two worldviews sufficiently to at least acknowledge the potential for expanding the conversation generally, while suggesting specifically what he described as “the archetypes of the collective unconscious.
Painting by Ma Yuan, Song Dynasty, “On a Mountain Path in Spring.” from http://beyondtheouterrim.wordpress.com
According to a popular website on Buddhism, “The Middle Way (or Middle Path) is a Buddhist term with rich connotations. Most simply, it implies a balanced approach to life and the regulation of one’s impulses and behavior, close to Aristotle’s idea of the “golden mean” whereby “every virtue is a mean between two extremes, each of which is a vice.” — (http://www.sgi.org/buddhism)
Rather than limit ourselves to any extreme or narrowly focused approach to consciousness or to human nature, a synthesis or blending of both the scientific and the metaphysical disciplines, in the spirit of Pauli and Jung, seems like a more balanced way to make progress. However our complex human nature developed, at some point, all of our diverse capacities, psychological, social, biological, mental, and spiritual, combined to produce a keen self-awareness which enriched our everyday level of awareness, eventually enabling us to access higher levels of consciousness. While primitive humans immediately supposed that the world was supported by forces beyond what could be ascertained by the senses, the attainment of these higher levels gradually led to astonishing social and technological progress into modern times, opening the way for modern humans to contemplate the existence of realms beyond the physical world from a more informed scientific and metaphysical point of view.
The evolution of life on earth, leading as it has to the presence of Homo sapiens, doesn’t necessarily imply a deliberate plan to produce them, nor does it guarantee our survival as a species on this planet. The Universe, our galaxy, our solar system, our planet and all of our ancestral creatures existed well before our conscious awareness of them, pointing to a potential for continued evolution, which could bring us closer to a comprehension of our place in the vast cosmic ocean, and lead us to discover a connection to the source of those forces demonstrated by their existence. Scientists don’t like to even infer the possibility of the existence of a transcendent source unreachable in a repeatable experiment, which may be responsible for a universe with seemingly indisputable and clearly defined physical laws. It may seem counter-intuitive to suppose that a transcendent source would not simply reveal itself unambiguously within the evidence we gather in exploring the universe, but even physicists in the 21st century have begun to investigate possible explanations for our existence which would have astonished some of the greatest scientific minds of human history.
This past week in Tuscon, Arizona, some of the most prominent philosophers, scientists, and thinkers from around the world, gathered at the Center for Consciousness Studies at the University of Arizona for the “Toward a Science of Consciousness,” conference. I have been following the events along with many others on the internet at this url:
There are lots of interviews, debates, news, and different points of view on display, and while much of it is entertaining and informative for those interested in the subject, the disparate points of view on display show vividly the need for a greater effort at bringing each of the extreme views into a more considered synthesis of ideas and principles in order to make any progress.
The middle path is not just an esoteric belief in a balanced way of life. It is also an ideal for our age.
“To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven. A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant and a time to pluck up that which is planted.” – Ecclesiastes 3:1-2
Time is my enemy now. Not only does it often seem to be in short supply when the work of writing begins for me, but over the years, it has been so heavy-laden with intrusions which divert me from the task, that many times, I have found myself near despair. Recently, I have only been able to manage short bursts of productive effort, and with all the chaos of late, I have been so frequently interrupted by a host of other considerations, it seems amazing to me that I’ve accomplished anything at all.
Modern technology has made great strides since the time I began this work, and I have been fortunate to have access to materials and resources that have helped me to make even the meager progress I have managed so far. With only a very limited budget over the years, and many competing priorities for the funds that were available, it has only recently become possible to acquire the tools needed to truly begin to construct a comprehensive summary of what has occupied me for more than thirty years now. At first, much of the work was recorded on hand-written loose-leaf papers, and whatever else I could get my hands on. Unfortunately, many of my original papers have been lost after moving and all the various changes which occurred in those years. However, I was able to preserve the core elements of the writings in the subsequent revisions and copies which I recorded in a series of paper-bound journals that I kept relentlessly during that time.
In recent years, as I was able to acquire a computer and access to the digital world, I was able to preserve and store the accumulating documents on compact discs, along with the many photos which were taken during the early days of my struggle to come to terms with the extraordinary events which led to my ongoing investigations. This blog represents my best efforts to gather the materials from my research and writing, and to make some kind of sense of it all.
“If a man sits down to think, he is immediately asked if he has a headache.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson from a journal entry in 1833
In the autumn of 1973, I experienced what C.G. Jung described as “an eruption of unconscious contents,” which led me to create a document entitled, “The Beginning, The Foundation, The Entrance.” Although I did not recognize it as such at the time, I have gradually come to view the experience as a pivotal event in my life, and I have spent much of the time since it occurred attempting to decipher the meaning contained in the document. The bulk of the document’s contents remained poorly understood by me for many years afterwards, and only in recent years have I finally begun to comprehend it more fully, and to begin to place it in a broader perspective. Magritte’s image above seemed an appropriate illustration of what felt like an agonizing struggle to reveal the inner workings of the process, which I subsequently engaged in attempting to discover what it was that erupted from within me.
Reviewing the cryptic writing in this document has always been problematical for me, as doing so not only reminded me of how it came into existence, but also of how much I struggled to make some kind of sense out of what initially seemed like a “stream of unconsciousness.” Over the years, even though the opportunities to spend time on the writing have been far fewer than my own inclinations would have provided, I have devoted every available temporal and mental resource in the service of enhancing my understanding of both the experience itself, and of the content in the original document. My temporal life during this time, all too often, “pushed” active pursuit of my goals to “another day.” Forced to find ways of getting to the research, I resorted to recording my incremental progress and my relevant observations in those journals, which at least provided a consistent location where I could continue to work as time permitted.
According to the famous Swiss psychiatrist and scholar, C.G. Jung:
In addition to our immediate consciousness, which is of a thoroughly personal nature, there exists a second psychic system of a collective, universal, and impersonal nature which is identical in all individuals. This collective unconscious does not develop individually, but is inherited. It consists of pre-existent forms, the archetypes, which can only become conscious secondarily and which give definite form to certain psychic contents. It is man’s task to become conscious of the contents that press upward from the unconscious.”
After several exposures to what Jung described as “unconscious contents,” in my early twenties, it became apparent to me that a greater comprehension of my own cognitive processes was necessary if I was ever going to come to terms with the inexplicable nature of these extraordinary personal experiences. The learning process has engaged my own consciousness in ways that have been both rewarding and challenging. In the coming months, it is my goal to organize and communicate this process, as a means of formalizing a theory which will summarize and bring together all of the many pathways which I have been traveling these many years.
To all of the many wonderful readers and visitors here, I extend my best wishes for much success to you all in the coming year……
“Once we reach a certain age, we often worry that those precious hours and days–the ones which we remember so fondly and so well–will never come again. We think that all of our best experiences are contained within them, and that all we really have now are our memories of them. While none of us knows well what the future holds beyond our basic understanding of the limitations of our bodies to sustain us indefinitely, all that we have experienced in our lives–every nuance of the totality of our contributions to life and those of life to us–every single twist and turn that led us to this moment in time, lives within us at every moment, and the reverberations of all those moments and memories echo in each of our thoughts and actions as we breathe in this very moment now.”
– excerpt from a recent correspondence with a friend
Sitting at my desk this afternoon, trying to resolve some of the inevitable clutter that accumulates during the all-too-brief time I get to spend at it writing, I finally felt comfortable enough with the clear view of the desktop to settle in to my writing, when I suddenly noticed a thumping sound outside my window. At first it was on the periphery which I dismissed as a branch from the tree outside banging against the window in the wind. Each time I heard the noise I would look over at the window, and after a moment, it seemed to be quiet, so I continued with my reading. After several minutes, the thumping sound would return and it started to make me wonder, so I stopped what I was doing and simply stared at the window, waiting for the sound to return.
To my astonishment, the thumping sound was being perpetrated by a robin, who apparently found some sort of fascination with my window. At first I was mostly curious as to what might be attracting the bird, which appeared to be attempting to land on the middle ledge where the two windows met. Some confusion may have been possible, I thought, and so I adjusted the window to change the appearance, hoping that would dissuade the bird. It did not. I decided to attend to some other chores for a time, figuring that the bird would get tired of failing to land or get through the window or whatever it was trying to do, but after several delays away from the desk, each time I returned to it, the bird returned as well.
Now I was starting to get a bit anxious. Why wouldn’t this bird get tired and just give up? I opened up the inner window to expose the screen, and when the bird came near I made loud noises and tried to wave it away with my hand. It still came back. I went so far as to walk outside, waiting for it to appear outside the window, and started throwing sticks in the air to discourage it from landing on the branches outside the window. It flew away, and when I went back to my desk, it would start thumping against the window again. This went on for several hours. I decided to call my sister to talk with someone calm and steady to question about this. We checked for a solution on the internet: “Block the window with something so that the bird can see that it’s not an open window.” This seemed to work for a while, but then the bird returned again. I started up Skype to show my sister what the bird was doing. It was so…persistent.
We talked wistfully about how uncanny the whole thing seemed, and talked about our dear late brother, Mike, who not only was a bird fanatic, but whose last weeks of life were filled twice daily with flocks of birds–once in the morning and once in the evening, as they flocked in the tree outside his window as he lay dying. We marveled at the many such instances where birds seemed to appear since then in our daily routines, and how it always seemed like there might be some connection in the strangeness which always surrounded such appearances. I almost got through writing this post, some seven hours after the thumping began, when the bird appeared again. I opened the window all the way, and left it open while I typed. The air felt cool and the gentle breeze was soothing to my spirit. The daylight was fading as it past 7:30 PM here on the East Coast of the United States. I put on some classical music, and continued to write.
The photo at the top of this posting was one of my brother’s favorites, and it was on his desktop background for many months after he took it at a nearby bird sanctuary. We all felt that there was some importance to the image of the bird, and today, as we skyped, we felt as though we must have needed to talk, and the persistent bird thumping at my window was the catalyst for our conversation. That seemed to satisfy us all, and whether or not the prompting was in spirit or just a practical matter, we enjoyed the conversation, and as night fell, I looked out the window, contemplating the words I had written to my friend. All of our wonderful memories of our lives which included our dear brother, as fine as they are, contributed to our lives in THIS moment now, and perhaps, that is the best conclusion of all.
If you’ve been working with a personal computer for any length of time in your home or office, (and I think it’s safe to say most everyone has at least some experience in this regard) or even if you’ve just heard other people talking about them, you may have heard them use the term “meltdown” at some point. It’s kind of a catch-all phrase for when the darn thing stops working right in the middle of some important work you are trying to complete, or when it simply won’t start at all. If you’ve ever lost important data or media files you’ve been storing on a desktop computer, this can be enormously frustrating, and most often, it motivates us to begin a regimen of making backup file storage of one sort or another. There are all sorts of ways to accomplish this, with a variety of “cloud storage” options, as well as data storage on discs and thumb-drives, or even just a portable hard drive that you keep in a separate location. In one particular case recently, I received a request from friends of mine to help with a computer meltdown of a very different sort.
Imagine being awakened in the middle of the night by a fireman standing in your bedroom telling you that your house is on fire. Just the thought of it gives me the shakes, but it happened to my friends a few weeks ago. Everyone is fine and there were no injuries, and the story seems to be unfolding toward recovery well enough. There was insurance on the house and its contents and they are safely moved in to a rental house nearby, and are receiving assistance from family and friends. They were very lucky in important ways.
When I offered my help, it began with clothing and groceries and the comforting of friends, but a few days ago, they asked if I thought I might be able to recover the data off their desktop computer. It had been sitting on a desk in the living room, and was exposed to what the firemen described as “about 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit” temperatures at the height of the fire. I was skeptical from their description of the condition of the computer, but agreed to give it a try anyway.
When I finally got a look at the inside of the scorched electric panels and melted plastic pieces and roasted transistors, I was even less optimistic that anything might still be retrievable from the meltdown, but I pulled the hard drive out and installed it in an old desktop in my family room and to my surprise, it booted up and revealed that all of the contents were still quite intact!
The “brains” of the computer were fried beyond recovery, and my hands were filthy after poking around inside the blackened innards of the fried computer, but the smile on the faces of my friends….that was priceless!
Recently in email I received a link to a video that presented a poem by Kate Nowak called, “May You Be Blessed.” It’s a very nice sentiment expressed in the poem, and her efforts have been re-posted quite often. I couldn’t help admiring her idea, but I really felt like it needed a response. Here is the poem and the link to the video on YouTube:
May You Be Blessed by Kate Nowak
May you be blessed
with all things good
May your joys
like the stars at night
be too numerous to count
May your victories
be more abundant
than all the grains of sand
on all the beaches
on all the oceans
in all the world
May lack and struggle
be always only serve
to make you stronger
and may beauty order
be your constant companions
May every pathway you choose
lead to that which is pure
and good and lovely
May every doubt and fear
be replaced by a deep abiding trust
as you behold evidence
of a Higher Power
all around you
And when there is
and the storms of life are closing in
May the light
at the core of your being
illuminate the world
May you always be aware
you are loved beyond measure
and may you be willing to
love unconditionally in return
May you always feel protected
in the arms of God
like the cherished child you are
And when you are tempted
to judge may you be
reminded that we are ALL ONE
and that every thought you think
reverberates across the universe
touching everyone and everything
And when you
are tempted to hold back
may you remember that love flows best
when it flows freely
and it is in
giving that we receive
the greatest gift
May you always have music and laughter
and may a rainbow
follow every storm
May gladness wash away
may joy dissolve every sorrow
and may love ease every pain
May every wound bring wisdom
and every trial bring triumph
and with each passing day
may you live more abundantly
than the day before
May you be blessed
And may others
be blessed by you
This is my heartfelt wish for you
May you be blessed
There is much to admire in what Kate wrote here, but it seemed to me that her thoughts didn’t go quite far enough, and needed some additional thinking. After a fair amount of thought on what she wrote, I penned this response:
THE ABUNDANCE OF LIFE AND LOVE: A Response to Kate Nowak
May you share in the abundance of all that is good, and feel compelled to share your portion, whatever it is, with others.
May you know joy often and well, and when sorrow finds you, understand that it finds us all in one way or another; it’s simply a matter of degree.
Don’t attempt to compare the portions of joy or sorrow in your life to anyone else’s. We earn it sometimes, and at other times it just arrives unannounced. Be glad for what joy may come, and don’t allow what sorrow may come to prevent the return to joy in due time.
Know that every path we choose is simply the path we choose—nothing more or less. What happens along that path depends on who we are as we navigate through it. It is not the path which forms us; it is the form we inhabit as we walk the path that leads us as we go.
When diverted from our path by circumstances beyond our control, it is best to direct our attention to the task of finding our way back as soon as possible. Once we return to the path of our own choosing, we should look forward to the road ahead, and focus on every step we take in the moment it is taken.
Doubt and fear are the result of uncertainty within us and facing the unknown outside of us. As the only known species with the capacity for the higher cognitive tasks of imagination, intuition, and abstract thinking, we have the singular privilege of entertaining doubt. Don’t waste it!
Doubt is a necessary prerequisite to wisdom, and drives us to search with vigor to uncover the truth. It cannot be eliminated in a single lifetime, but it can be diminished when we seek in earnest to move forward with a firm belief in the value of our individual life, recognizing that each of us has a contribution to make to the unfolding of life everywhere.
If we can observe the beauty, order, and abundance all around us in nature, with all its intricate nuances and sweeping natural vistas, and not conclude that it is a consequence of something much greater than ourselves, we cannot hope to discover the source of that beauty, order, and abundance.
It is through giving love unconditionally that we open ourselves enough to receive love in return, and it is through the creation of the universe that everything and everyone we know and love came into existence in the first place. However you wish to describe the source of all creation, the opening of the universe in the act of creation, and our very existence as human beings, is the result of the most unconditionally loving gesture ever made. Sharing our love, in all its various forms, with every living entity in creation, is simply giving back what was unconditionally opened for us.
Life is an expression and manifestation of creation, and while the whole range of existence includes all the pairs of opposites and everything in between, we can either embrace both the darkness and the light, or choose to limit ourselves to a narrow band of the spectrum of life. Every life, whether it lasts a few moments, a few years, or a hundred years, is not measured well by how it is spent, but most clearly by how it is earned.
May you be blessed to know the broad range of what life can be, and share as much as you can of what you experience in life with as many others as may be possible during your time on Earth.
May you be blessed, and may others be blessed by you.
John J. Hyland January 2013
It’s Monday afternoon here now and the storm has begun to show its effects. The satellite image above looks ominous in revealing the magnitude of this storm, and we are continuing to track the storm for as long as the power holds out. We have several mobile devices in the house, although we expect even they might not be fully functional at the height of the storm, which is projected to be later tonight and into Tuesday morning. If the mobile networks hold out, I will try to post as possible. We are hunkered down here and hope that all our preparations will carry us through. It has been raining fairly steady most of the morning, but the wind seems to be picking up now and overnight last night the leaves seem to have mostly fallen out of the trees in the front and back yards.
Water has already begun to accumulate in front of our garage. I’m guessing later on today the photos will look much different:
Unfortunately, we may have to endure the bulk of the strongest part of the storm in the dark, as it is projected to peak sometime after 8PM. As I am able, I will report on our progress, and keep you updated.
It appears that I will have plenty of time for reading by lantern light and I’m hoping that the experience will produce something of interest to my readers.