Towards a Science of Consciousness
 Introduction & Historical PreAmble, Planet Earth, 520bc
As will be discussed in the following sections of this publication, in these closing years of the second millennum there is the manifest evidence of the emergence of global and inter-disciplinary conferences concerning the application of the scientific method and the common scientific body of knowledge to the problem of understanding human consciousness.
While the series of conferences held in association with the University of Arizona are but one of many which have been recently hosted throughout many locations of our terrestrial planet, they are quite representative of the others. For this reason I have concentrated on the preceedings of this conference series "Towards a Science of Consciousness" in the preparation of this publication.
The emergence of any progression towards a science of consciousness has been made possible only by inter-disciplinary, consultative and integrative approaches. There is no doubt in my mind, that what are known today as the cultural disciplines - namely religion, art, dance, poetry, literature, music (and others) - must also find their way into this integrated future structure which will attempt to provide specification for the consciousness of humanity. This view has been confirmed in the approach adopted by the Tucson conferences.
In summary, and as a prelude to the following three accounts, it is my contention that there exist a handful of issues which will need to be both recognised and addressed in the development towards a science of consciousness:
GLOBAL NATIVITY: Consciousness is manifest throughout all the scattered tribes of man - always has been, is presently, and always will be. It is a condition of all humanity, and any specification of it will involve the holistic approach. Consciousness has evolved within the terrestrial realms of this planetary Earth/Moon system despite the scattered nature of the tribes of man upon the earth's surface. Any preferred specification of this consciousness must be cognisant of this observation.
INNER WORLD ENVIRONMENT SPECS: The specifications concerning any developments towards a science of consciousness must be cognisant of, and afford working definition of terms for, that environment which is commonly known as the Inner World of Man. Until this task is faced and undertaken, there will be much unproductive and circular debate - especially in view of the inter-cultural and inter-disciplinary integrations. Such questions as "What is the mind", and "What are the Elements of Consciousness", and even the question "What is the soul" will need to be addressed in terms of environmental and ecological specifications of this Inner World of Consciousness.
INTER-DISCIPLINARY CONSIDERATIONS: Inherent in the vast complexities associated with the ever specialising disciplines of modern scientific research and development, there has been evident the gradual displacement of the traditional and insular scientific disciplines such as Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Geology. Emergent between the cracks of the floors of these structures, where before ideas could not take root, we are finding the growth of interdisciplinary bodies such as microbiology, environmental and ecological science. Whereas these earlier monolithic disciplines served the advancement of human knowledge to the present day, we are finding it increasingly common that these newer and more specialised research areas are providing more holistic pictures of the entire scientific arena.
INTER-CULTURAL CONSIDERATIONS: In order to consider this phenomena of consciousness which is manifest on a global basis, contemporary scientific methodolgy needs to address the establishment of its foundations in relation to the foundations of other methodologies which have been used to address the phenomena of consciousness in all lands and in all ages in the history of man. It may well eventuate that the developments will arise when notes are actually compared.
NATURE: The specifications of the very nature of the world itself - the "outer world" as defined by the traditional physical sciences - have been themselves part of an evolving project. Since the "dawn of history" man's concept of the world - and thus of the nature of the world - has changed, and towards the end of the second millennium, the complex details of this specification evolve at an ever-increasing rate. Despite these advances, each individual - in accordance to their environment - must deal with nature in a holistic sense. Consequently, perhaps the entire ontology of the sciences needs to be addressed in terms of an ecology of aspects of study of one thing from different physical perspectives.
In antithesis to information presented in the next few sections of this publication, I have decided that the introduction to the publication should provide a subtle reminder that this quest Towards a Science of Consciousness has not in fact been restricted to the final few years of the second millennium. The following three accounts attempt to present events at three disparate locations of the terrestrial planetary surface of Earth some two thousand five hundred years ago, and it is hoped that these are received as contributory - rather than diversionary - to the research material.
James Loeb, September 1, 1912 [Preface to "The Life of Apollonius of Tyana, Philostratus - 220 AD"]
It is therefore hoped you find the following three accounts interesting. They are entitled respectively:
I wish all researches in this most important field of the Life Sciences every success in their endeavours.
The Mediterranean Middle-Earth
Down from out of the sparsely inhabited foot-hills of the ancient Grecian landscape strode a lone traveller on the little worn and rocky path. The sun was already sending the golden rays of morning into the canopy of the heavens above the distant peaks yet the journeyer had already a few hours of dust upon his feet. The path lead down again, and now - beside the river, where the traveller stopped - and looked to the strongly and deeply flowing waters as they surged from mountain to sea in the pristine air of 520 BC.
One would not know this traveller to be one of a royal family - he had the look of eagles, the appearance of a seasoned journeyer. His reflection looked back up at him from the shallow pool at the river's edge. The golden pre-dawn skies backdropped the ridge-lines of the foot-hills as they ascended towards the headquarters of the silent river - silent but for its deep and resonant harmony of flow.
Heraclitus looked at his reflection and recalled his conversation, three moons ago in the small village to the north of Ephesus with that journeying sage by the name of Pythagoras. What had that man spoken of?
Heraclitus would never forget ... the nature of the world, the nature of the soul and of life. Heraclitus had sheltered in the same journeyers' way-house when the heavens had opened and the afternoon rain had descended - itself like a river from the black and savagely boiling skies. And the middle-aged man had walked out of the rain from the southern pathways and the coast. For a moment Heraclitus had thought he would walk right through the village, but at the last the man had taken his eyes from the path to the north and had seen the shelter, and had come in from the rain.
The river flowed on across the space of his heartbeats as Heraclitus recalled the afternoon's conversation with this man Pythagoras. The man had spoken of many things, had answered many of younger man's questions, had expounded upon a thing called mathematics and geometry, and had demonstrated - by means of the small musical instrument which he carried - a mastery of music. When it was concluded, discussed with Heraclitus the nature of musical harmony the ordered relationship of the harmonic scales.
Three moons ago it had been - and whatever questions that man had answered Heraclitus now knew he had three-fold more again to ask, but he knew he would not see this man again with his own masterful and question eyes, for they both had known that they travelled on separate pathways, and approached their respective logos with different experiences of heart and mind and soul. Heraclitus knew himself to be young and strong - and he knew the answers would gradually be forthcoming concerning this Great Mystery of Life.
He lifted his head to see the first sunbeams shine now directly down over the highest of the Eastern peaks. Already the day was dawning, and his journey must be resumed. Yet he lingered for a few more moments beside the deep and resonant waters of the river, and recalled the words of the man Pythagoras, as he had narrated his experiences concerning 30 years of attendance and competition at the Games of Olympus. It was not discussion of the wrestling, or of other disciplines or competitors that he remembered from that afternoon's conversation beneath the steady rain on the roof of the village way-house, it was what the man/sage Pythagoras had said about life, and about philosophy:
Heraclitus looked out again over the river as a fish broke the surface after a fly, the ripples moved quickly downstream and were quickly lost in the passage of a few moments flow. He recalled the three profound essentials of his vision of the logos which he had discussed with this man, and the concise summary of these three things which they had - quite surprisingly - agreed upon:
FIRSTLY, that Harmony is always a product of opposites - yes, thought Heraclitus, this he knew to be close to the truth of nature, for he had seen and experienced himself the court-life of the royal family, and his education concerning the early Milesians - Thales and his claims that the world was made of water. Yet Heraclitus had turned his back on his royal heritage and - at the age of sixteen - had set forth on many journeys about the lands and the realms beyond. Everything is made of opposites and therefore subject to internal tension. This he knew to be so - even in his few years of travel. He watched the splash of another hungry fish striving for a fly on the surface of the deep river - and watched as the ripples of lifes' conflict flowed again away.
He recalled how Pythagoras had recounted these opposites, and had arranged them in two separate columns in the clean dry dirt of the way-house floor under the constant rain. He had listed his ten principles - limit/unlimited, odd/even, one/plurality, right/left, male/female, at rest/moving, straight/crooked, light/darkness, good/bad, square/oblong. He recalled looking askance at the man when he then spoke of mathematics and number and how these were that from which all things were derived. These opposites were identical, as in a polarity in which qualities are conceived with their contraries. Heraclitus, in his education had known of Thales' prediction of the eclipse of the sun - for this was well known - but this claim that the elements of number were the elements of everything. For the ancient Thales, water was the arche and the motive element of the cosmos. For his successor Anaximandes is was apeiron - the boundless - and for his younger contemprary Anaximenes, air was the arche - the primal element in the natural cosmos. Heraclitus had seen the changed ways of thought in his royal education, but what Pythagoras was saying was another step altogether.
SECONDLY, everything is in continuous motion and change. Certainly there was an agreement here between the two men. Yet Heraclitus saw in the eyes of the older man a reserved strength, and he was momentarily saddened by the thought that they would not meet again - for despite his strange fixations with geometry and mathematics - Pythagoras was undoubtedly one of the greatest of men that he had yet met. And still Heraclitus tarried by the river in silent memory ...
'But', he thought to himself, 'you cannot step in the same river twice ... for fresh waters are flowing on." He recalled the final agreement:
THIRDY, the world is a living and everlasting fire. Now Heraclitus had developed this - even in his youth - as his logos and recalled having discussed this with Pythagoras, at that time in the rain ....
"The world order (kosmos), the same for all, none of the gods nor of men has made, but it was always and is and shall be: an everlasting fire, which was kindled in measure and extinguished in measure." He had expected some other reaction from the older sage in this final exposition, but Pythagoras had instantly agreed and instead immediately asked Heraclitus where he thought this eternal fire was, and whether he thought it to be guarded, seeing it was so precious.
"Why, it is all about us on the earth as the divine sparks of life in each living thing" had replied Heraclitus, but Pythagoras, although he acknowledged this principle, continued to turn the conversation back to his mathemetics and geometry:
"The earth is made from the cube, the fire from the pyramid, air from the octahedron, water from the eicosahedron, and the sphere of the whole - the Aither - is made from the dodecahedron." He had said that Thales and those who followed him stated that there was one earth, but that he knew there to be two - our own and the counter-earth - which most folk knew to be the moon, but that the location of the element fire was at the very center and that it was about this central cosmic fire - the hearth of the cosmos - that both earth's turned. Heraclitus found this difficult to comprehend.
From this point, Pythagoras had spoken of his journeys to the northern and western Chaldean civilisations, and Heraclitus fell silent, recalling that the rumours surrounding this man had placed him variously with the Magi, Chaldeans and with the person of Zaroaster. And so he sat and listened as Pythagoras spoke of the nature of the eternal soul - its cycle of births and deaths, of it being a kind of harmony itself - for harmony is a blend of contraries, and the body is compounded out of contraries, and that that the soul is yoked to the body as a punishment, and buried in it as in a tomb.
The sun had gathered strength as the young man tarried by the river bank early at dawn on that fine summer's morning, and again Heraclitus was reminded of his journey. He smiled one final time as he recalled Pythagoras telling him about the central fire. Yet is was a smile of self-knowledge and he looked again up at the sky and the sun as it fully cleared the eastern ridges. With his two feet set firmly on the river bank he knew that the earth was at the center - the rush of his blood and his youth told him so in song - and this song was a deep song which blended in to the deep harmoniy of the flowing river ... How could this primal fire be at the center of the cosmos if it was born and if it died the death of night?
How could the earth be moving? How could the fire of the sun be at the center?
And so, without a backward glace at the fresh flowing waters, with the sun on his shoulders and the cooling morning breeze at his face, Heraclitus set forth on his journey out of the foothills of the ancient lands of the Grecian MiddleEarth.
Under the Himalayan Roof of the World
At that very time, over seven thousand kilometers to the east and closer to the equator, Prasenadjit Rajah sat in the great meeting hall at Srvasti, India. It was just after midday and although the meeting hall had been thronged all morning with a great host of people, none were showing signs of moving or inattention, and all minds listened attentively as another journeyer of royal lineage sat in their midst and gave a discourse concerning the nature of the mind.
Prasenadjit Rajah had never seen so many people congregated in his local community meeting hall in all the years of his advanced life. He recognised the local priests and holy men who had instructed his village in the readings and interpretations of the ancient vedic literature which had been passed down from community to community for the last three thousand years.
Some of these people he had never seen before - only heard rumours of their dwelling in some remote mountain forest - isolated from the world for the last thirty or forty years. They had gathered to hear the words of Gotama - the Tathagata, the Buddha, the Enlightened One. From many reclusive sanctuaries of mountain and forest - in ones and in groups - travellers and locals had journeyed the congregation. He recognised the colourful garb of the mountain folk who must have journeyed down from out of the mountains - the Himals - the snow mountains - which formed the great Roof of the World.
. Gotama Buddha, seated in the midst of the congregation, had been holding discourse with Ananda concerning the nature and the location of the mind. To the satifaction of the conference it had been clearly shown that the essence of the mind was not located outside the body as a lamp, nor inside the body as a torch, nor yet buried within the senses ... and Buddha had just shown that the nature of the mind is very much related to the power of sight being fixed and unchangeable.
Prasendadjit Rajah smiled inwardly to himself in consideration of his old and changed body, and felt impelled to ask a question of this enlightened sage, and so slowly rose to his feet, and then addressed Buddha:
"Tell me, how I may attain the knowledge of the imperishable principle which you call the mind?"
Buddha replied: "Maharajah! with respect to your present body, I would ask you, Is this body of yours like the diamond, unchangeable in its appearance and ... imperishable, or is it, on the other hand, changeable and perishable"
"This body of mine without doubt, in the end, after various changes, will perish"
"You have not yet experienced this destruction of the body. How then do you know anything about it?"
The old Rajah replied "With respect to this transient changeable and perishable body, although I have not yet experienced the destruction of which I speak, I observe the case of things around me and ever reflect that all these things are changing - old things die and new things succeed, there is nothing that changes not, thus the wood that now burns will soon be converted into ashes; all things gradually exhaust themselves and die away; there is no cessation of this dying out and perishing. I may certainly know that this body of mine will finally perish ..."
Buddha looked at the Rajah for a brief moment and then replied:
"You confess that from witnessing these ceasless changes you arrive at the conviction that your body must perish. Let me ask when this time for your body to perish arrives, are you aware of anything connected to yourself that will not perish?"
The Rajah considered this question for a moment and then said: "I know of no such imperishable thing"
To which the younger and commanding mystic replied:
"I will now explain to you the character of that 'nature' which admits of neither birth or death. Maharajah: When you were a little child, how old were you when you fist saw the river Ganges?"
"When I was three years old" replied the old man without hesitation, recalling his first journey with his father and elder brother to the banks of the holy river which ran from out of the mountains of the roof of the world, and journeyed across the rich and pleasant lands of the Indian nations until it flowed into the sea.
"Let us take up your own illustration respecting your gradual alteration of appearance through every decade of your life. You say that three years of age that you saw this river. Tell me then when you were thirteen years old what sort of appearance had this river then?"
"Just the same as it had been when I was three years old;" said the old man without hesitation, "And now I am sixty two there is no alteration in its appearance"
The Tathagata looked at the proud old clansman, and then slowly about the room at the attentive congregation before he asked a further question ...
"You are now become decrepit, white-haired and wrinkled in face, and so your face has grown during succesive years, tell me then, has the sight which enable you to see the Ganges in former years become also wrinkled and increasingly so with your years?"
"No" ... came the immediate and honest response.
And Buddha continued: "Although your face has become wrinkled, yet your power of sight has in its nature altered not. But that which becomes old and decrepit is in its nature changeable, and that which does not become so, is unchangeable. That which changes is capable of destruction, but that which changes not, must be from its origin incapable of birth or death"
Prasenadjit Rajah thanked the Buddha for his explanation, and sat down again in his place. His thoughts went back to the Great River. And while the discourse continued, in his mind's eye he followed the course of the Ganges River and perceived - for the first time - this great cycle of the water from the rain on the mountains to the flow across the lands to the ocean. And there, as well as over all the lands, the nature of the sunshine would raise the waters back into the clouds of the sky Over and over the drops of rain persisted in this vast terrestrial pilgrimage, and it seemed as if the Great Mystery for a moment lay exposed free from the mists of tribulation, and the old Rajah smiled a welcoming smile.
In the Secluded Clouded Valleys of China
Many more thousands of miles to the east, Long Wing sat motionless and alone on the outcrop of rock in the front of the cave in which he had dwelt for many many moons. In the many enfolded meanders of the deep mountain valleys carved by the patient flowing of the ancient river, his cave faced the west and he watched with an inner joy the golden messages of the sunset that day - for he knew - somehow with an inner certaintly - that soon he would be visited by a searching relative, or friend of a searching relative. He did not know his age. He no longer counted the days or the moons or the seasons.
Long Wing felt the gathering darkness resist the final statement of the setting sun, felt the gathering mists begin to descend to their resting places for the night below, the languid trailing vaporous breath of wind collecting the heavier and water filled airs below him. As the stars began to shine from out of the canopy of the sky, Long Wing partook of a bowl of fresh rainwater.
And much later, as the moon rose and moved though the night sky, finally becoming visible over the top edge of the cave's rock strewn roof, Long Wing continued his vigil ...
The next morning, long after the sun had arisen in the east, and the first of the mountain clouds had climbed up out of their overnight rest in the steep valley, Long Wing saw the climbing traveller on the path far below. He had not seen another human soul for what seemed like an eternity, yet he joyfully reigned in his mounting expectations, stood and retrieved from the back of the cave the parchment upon which he had written those few scattered words so long ago. He returned to his outlook on the outcrop, and the distant figure waved - he had been seen - purposefully - he sat and read the words of his composition:
The secret waits for the insight
Of eyes unclouded by longing;
Those who are bound by desire
See only the outward container.
These two come paired but distinct
By there names.
Of all things profound,
Say that their pairing is deepest,
The gate to the root of the world.
Long Wing motioned for the traveller to approach and held out the scroll, indicating that she was to take it from him. Without hesitation the transaction was conducted and Long Wing turned away and faced the eastern sky. His work was completed.
It was some time later that Long Wing realised that the woman was still there, standing on the path beside the rock platform with the scroll still in her hands, watching him intently. He turned slowly and, gathering a few dry twigs from within the cave, set about the making of a small fire upon which he placed a shiny metalic pot of rainwater. By the time the water had boiled and the homegrown mountain tea had drawn, the woman had come forward and taken a place beside the fire. She looked into the face of the mystic and then to the tea, and motioned to the recluse with a quick movement of the head. He acknowledged her request, and she went about the ceremony of pouring the tea into the two porcelain cups which he had left beside the fire.
It was over this cup of tea that she asked him the questions:
"How did you know that I came in search of this scroll?" she had asked him.
"Some things are to be known", he had replied, "some things are not to be known."
"He who has sent you my child, did he give you any special instruction?" he had asked after a long and protracted silence.
"The librarian Lao Tsu instructed me to journey westward along these parts of the Great Yellow Rover and to seek the man known as Long Wing on the eastern rocks of the deeper valleys. He advised me that Long Wing may or may not have a scroll to be couriered. He instructed me to seek out this Long Wing, and courier this scroll, if it was to be given to my hands. He instructed me to bring the scroll to him as soon as the winter had left the region."
The woman fell silent, and then added: "The librarian advised me to say that the scroll will enjoin with other rivers and streams and become part of the way of our entire people."
Long Wing looked away to the northern ridges where the woman's homebound path would be set. He looked carefully at the face of the agile mountain woman. She bowed her head and sipped her tea carefully, as if to consider the moment well.
He spoke to her softly: "You must also give the librarian another message from me."
He paused and she looked at his eyes which now relected the morning sun. You will tell him this:
Constantly, and so forever,
use her without labour."
The old man stood gracefully after placing his empty cup beside the little flame of sticks.
"You will tell the librarian that the time has arrived for Long Wing to depart. You will convey to him the exact location of this dwelling place - for he will have need of it in his time to come. Farewell my child. Travel with the wind ... "
Later that day, as the sun began to set again down the valley, the woman looked back on the small rocky outcrop bathed in the western light. She had travelled fast and hard through the middle of the day. The immense valley was about to be lost from sight as the path turned. This would be her last vantage point on the dwelling place of Long Wing.
It occurred to her that she would not likely see the kind old mystic again. She stopped on the top of the way in the high place on the turning trail and looked back down the river valley. Carefully she looked - again searching the distant rocky outcrops half way up the steep sided river valley. The clouds were beginning to descend. In another half hour the dragons of water would travel the valleys. Almost, she imagined, she could see the figure of the mystic standing on one of those remote ledges bathed in the golden sun.
And just at that moment a beam - a flash of light - passed in front of her eyes and sourced from the distant ledge she observed. Was that the tiny figure of a man holding aloft a mirror?
The woman waited patiently, but in the space of a few moments a group of clouds had descended to obscure the intervening distance, and the woman recalled the purpose of her present journey. It would be another twenty days - possibly longer dependant upon the condition of the rough trails - until she reached the destination described to her by the librarian.
She deliberately set her first footstep down the trail, and followed it immediately with a second.
Web Publication by Mountain Man Graphics, Australia in the Southern Autumn of 1996