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<nettime-ann> re-sent February 2010: Dr Harish Chandra's article in Spir
SpiritMag on Fri, 26 Feb 2010 17:27:48 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime-ann> re-sent February 2010: Dr Harish Chandra's article in SpiritMag Aug 2007


SpiritMag August '07

Vol. I No. 12

III.   Our Consciousness


Our consciousness is a fascinating thing, and is most intriguing too. It is the heart and soul of life. Indeed, without it we have no life. But, where does consciousness emanate from? Could it be the property of the body? Could it be that the body cells functioning in a particular manner give rise to our consciousness. For example, when all the parts of an automobile are spread on the floor then they do not become an automobile. But if they are brought together in a particular manner then they give rise to an automobile. Likewise, could it be that the billions of body cells we consist of, could give rise to consciousness when they are put together to function in a particular manner. In that event, we do not have to imagine another entity beyond the body that must give rise to consciousness. However, this possibility is not tenable for the following reason. We see that our body undergoes great changes since we were born as an infant. From infancy to old age, the body goes through enormous changes yet we have a strong feeling of 'constancy' – that I am the same person that went to that elementary school some decades ago. Besides the major body changes, it is said that the billions of body cells change in a matter of few days but we do not feel that we are a changed person in this duration. In other words, the feeling of constancy that I am the same person that was a child some decades ago must be coming from another entity different from the body but within it. Therefore, we must investigate what could be within our body frame that has the property of consciousness. This idea gets further strengthened because of the following observation.


At this moment while I am writing, my hand and fingers function very consciously. The same hand and fingers will not be as conscious when I will be deep in sleep in the middle of the night that somebody may even lift my hand and shift it to another place without my being aware of it. In other words, the hand and fingers exhibit consciousness during the day but not in deep sleep though their gross chemistry continue to take place, such as, the blood circulation, etc. This leads us to think that the consciousness that the hand and fingers exhibit during the day is not their own property. It was borrowed by them from another entity. That is to say, there is another entity that has the inherent property of consciousness. Let us call it X for the time being. X is the source of consciousness and it lends its consciousness to the hand and fingers during the day time. This concept of another entity X different from the body though living in the body is further strengthened by the fact that a person lives consciously even after a significant number of body organs are missing. For example, a person will remain alive and conscious without any change whatsoever to his consciousness even if his hands and feet are chopped off. From the body perspective, this is a significant change but the person remains the same – the person as a conscious being hasn't changed by an iota though the body has undergone major changes. The same applies to the people who were severely burnt and are still alive; their body has undergone a massive change but the person remains the same. This proves that we are something beyond the body and that something has the property of consciousness.


The above indicates that the body inhabits another entity that has consciousness as its intrinsic and inherent property, what we have temporarily called as X. Before we give it a more acceptable name, we must explore its nature to some extent. The first thing that comes in mind is that it must be different from the body in certain respects. Indeed, the moment a person dies then the body is more or less the same in the very next moment but consciousness has disappeared forever. So, X must be a non-material thing, markedly different from the body frame, and also it must be so because consciousness is absent in the myriads of material things that we see around us. Therefore, we can say that besides material things in the world, there must be a non-material thing that has consciousness. Thus, X is a non-material thing. We can call it our true spirit, our soul. As long as it resides in the body, I have life. Its union with the body was my birth and its separation from the body will be death.


The body-soul combine can be viewed as a room with a lamp. When the electricity passes through the lamp then it emits light in the whole room and all its corners brighten up. Similarly, when the soul lends its consciousness then the whole body behaves as a conscious body exhibiting all kinds of voluntary functions. When the soul does not want to use the body then it withdraws its consciousness within it and then the body exhibits no voluntary functions. This is similar to switching off the lamp when the entire room comes under the cover of darkness though the lamp is present in the room – this is so because its electricity has been switched off. And if the lamp is physically removed then there is darkness forever in the room. Likewise, when the soul has left the body then the body is pronounced as a dead body – never to regain its consciousness. The present analogy helps us understand the pair of the body and soul through the pair of a room and a lamp. The consciousness of soul is the light emitted by the lamp. However, the body-soul combine is more complex because there are certain functions that are always taking place in the body domain, such as, breathing, blood circulation, digestion of food, etc. They are involuntary functions in which we do not have much direct role to play. The involuntary functions can be viewed as the natural light that is always in the room whether the lamp is switched on or off. We will have another occasion to discuss the source and nature of involuntary functions. It would be sufficient now for us to view them as the outside natural light that enters into the room even when the lamp is switched off.


The room is wide enough but the lamp is a tiny thing. However, once the lamp is energized appropriately then it brightens up the large room. Similar is the role of the soul. The soul is a non-material thing – infinitesimally small. We are familiar with such 'small' things in mathematics. For example, we are told that a point has no length and breadth though we draw it with a pointed pencil that may have a tiny length and breadth. However, conceptually, the point has merely a location but no size of its own. The soul can be viewed as a similar singularity. But its potency and strength is unmatched that it can make the difference between life and death, as that tiny lamp could do to the entire room – the room could be brightly lit or be in darkness. Those more familiar with mathematics, may consider the soul as a delta function. It has an infinitely large value at a point but is zero elsewhere. Its integral value is one. So is the soul. It resides at a point as the source of consciousness. Its overall/integral effect is equivalent to 'the life' in a conscious being.


Next month we will discuss how the body and soul function as a coordinated unit. They need a connectivity for the body is made of matter while the soul is non-material; the body is large and gross and the soul is a point-like singularity; the body goes through manifestations but the soul is always the same, an un-manifest.


-          Dr. Harish Chandra

B. Tech. (IIT Kanpur, India)

Ph. D. (Princeton, USA)


1. Google Group: We are pleased to send the August 2007 article of SpiritMag as we transfer our mailing list to this new Google group.
2. Old Articles: Dr Harish Chandra's previous SpiritMag articles may be seen at http://groups.google.com/group/spiritmag?lnk=srg

3. Dr Harish Chandra’s Feb 2010 Events in the UK: 

a) Vedic Meditation - Drop-in Sessions, Tuesday evenings, March 2 onwards, 7:30 to 9:00 pm at 1 Norman Road, Smethwick, Birmingham contact 0121 429 9783

b) Vedic Meditation - Drop-in Sessions, Thursday evenings, March 4 onwards, 6:00 to 7:45 pm at Hindu Cultural Organisation, 253 Edge Lane, Liverpool, L7 2PH

c) Vedic Meditation, Sandhya (Drop-in Sessions) - Saturday mornings, Mar 6 onwards, 9:00 to 9:45 am, at Arya Samaj West Midlands, Birmingham B7 4SA, see www.arya-samaj.org for directions

d) Science of Yoga - Patanjali Meditation (Drop in Sessions) - Saturday afternoons, Mar 6 onwards, 3:00 to 5:00 pm, Brunswick Room, Greenbank Sports Academy, Greenbank Lane, Liverpool, L17 1AG, Tel: 0151 280 7757

e) Vedic Meditation, Sandhya (Drop-in Sessions) - Monday evenings, Mar 8 onwards, 7:30 to 8:15 pm, at Arya Samaj West Midlands, Birmingham B7 4SA, see www.arya-samaj.org for directions

f) Sunday morning talks on Vedic Psychology March 14 onwards, 12:30 to 1:00 pm at Arya Samaj West Midlands, Birmingham B7 4SA (see www.arya-samaj.org for directions)

4. Our website www.centerforinnersciences.org is currently being redesigned.
Thanking you,

SpiritMag Team




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