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The Origin and Nature of Human Consciousness
A Comparative Analysis of Scientific and Mystical Views

by Christopher P. Holmes Ph.D. (Psych)

Zero Point: Institute for Mystical & Spiritual Science
Kars, Ontario K0A 2E0, (613) 558-2966, 489-3187
Table of Contents:
1. The Science and Pseudo-Science of Psychology
2. The Head Doctrine of Modern Psychology and Science
3. The Diagnosis of Modern Psychology
4. The Heart Doctrine of Mystical and Spiritual Psychology and Science
5. Applications and Implications of Mystical and Spiritual Science


1. The Science and Pseudo-Science

of Psychology

Whereas the original Greek meaning of the term psychology suggested a science of the soul, with the advent of modern psychology, this definition effectively disappeared. At the turn of the last century, Darwin’s theory of natural selection offered an explanation for the evolution of humankind in terms of natural laws, rather than by invoking supernatural agencies or forces. As a result, psychologists, who wished to establish their fledgling discipline as a legitimate science, were freed from religious dogma and sought to develop natural scientific explanations of human nature. They did away with the concept of soul and the term psyche was reinterpreted to mean ‘mind’ –assumed to exist within the brain. Human beings came to be regarded as essentially material biological organisms with a mind and a body. Psychology today is most frequently defined in this dualistic way as the science of behaviour and the mind. Psychologists reject consideration of the human soul or spirit, and regarded such concepts as unscientific, superstitious, and simply religious dogmas.

    Psychologists assume a purely materialist approach to the nature of the brain, the mind and the self. There is no “I” or self apart from the sum of the person’s psychological functions (of thinking, feeling, sensation, and so on)–all of which are the end products of processes within the physical body and brain. Isaac Asimov, a materialist scientist and philosopher, explains the implications of this view:
“The molecules of my body, after my conception, added other molecules and arranged the whole into more and more complex form, and in a unique fashion, not quite like the arrangement in any other living thing that ever lived.  In the process, I developed, little by little, into a conscious something I call “I” that exists only as the arrangement. When the arrangement is lost forever, as it will be when I die, the 'I' will be lost forever, too.” - Isaac Asimov, 1981 -
The vast majority of psychologists, philosophers and scientists accept such a viewpoint, at least as a working assumption. There is no ghost in the machine, and no one seems to understand the importance of deeper ideas and teachings. A strict behaviorist influence, which banished even mind and consciousness from psychology for sixty years, has finally waned to some extent, and more modern theoretical approaches have come to emphasize the significance of mental and cognitive processes. However, mainstream psychology has yet to reconsider the possibility of a science of the soul. Accordingly, human beings are essentially nothing but biological organisms–higher primates–pursuing pleasure and avoiding pain, trying to reproduce their genes, searching for meaning and selfhood within complex material and social environments, all between the poles of existence–birth and death. When the arrangement of molecules is lost, the “I” is believed to disappear.

    Of course, psychological theorists and modern thinkers do explore the significance of such distinctly human attributes as the capacities for abstract thought and cognition, the use of language, altruism and subtle emotions, intuitions and inspirations. Nevertheless, the mainstream of modern, so-called exact psychology and science rejects humans’ spiritual nature, psychic possibilities, and existence beyond death. Further, modern psychologists ignore the spiritual psychologies of the yogic and Vedic tradition, Tibetan Buddhism, Sufism, Theosophy, the Fourth Way, esoteric Christianity, Kabbalah, and the teachings of innumerable other mystics, saints and seers through the ages–who have supposedly gained insights into the further reaches of human consciousness, and into the deep grounds of being. All religions have a basis in mystical psychology, although these teachings are not known or are misunderstood by most religious believers. Even more shocking perhaps is the manner in which scientists manage to ignore, or close their eyes to, the innumerable data, scientific and anecdotal, which establish the reality of paranormal phenomena and experiences. Although the study of such psychical phenomena is quite distinct from mystical/spiritual teachings, they do provide concrete evidences which clearly demonstrate that materialist conceptions of the human psyche are grossly inadequate.

2. The Head Doctrine

of Modern Psychology and Science
    What is the origin and nature of human consciousness? Psychologists, neuro-scientists and philosophers use this term in a hundred and one ways–with a thousand and one meanings and interpretations. Within the scientific and popular literature, as well as in common discussion, there is widespread confusion and misunderstanding regarding the issues of consciousness. Further, people do not generally question the nature of consciousness within themselves, or even have a language in which to talk about such things.

    The phrase “the head doctrine” is the label that I use to refer to the most prominent and commonly accepted western scientific and psychological model of consciousness. The central belief of this perspective is that neurological processes within the material brain generate consciousness. “The head doctrine” is illustrated in a Scientific American article on “The quest to find consciousness” (Roth)–published in a special issue on MIND (2004)  This picture is an artist’s depiction of “the mysterious brain activity involved in consciousness.”   The basic concept is that somehow the brain in the head produces consciousness.

However, when one goes into the article, it seems that the phenomena of consciousness is not so easily solved at all. In fact, the most certain comments offered by author G. Roth regarding consciousness are that “a true understanding of the phenomenon remains elusive,” and further, that “For now, no definitive explanations exist ....”  In a small table in Roth’s article appears the title “FAST FACTS: The Rise of Awareness,” wherein Roth makes three points:

1. How does consciousness, with its private and subjective qualities, emerge from the physical information processing conducted by the brain? ...
2. Recently neuroscientists have focused on the neural correlates–the activities in the brain that are most closely associated with consciousness.
3. To date, no “center” for the phenomenon has revealed itself, but advances in imaging have helped in the study of the brain areas that are involved during consciousness. (p. 34)
Of course, there is not a ‘single fact’ in the table, but only questions or assumptions. It is not proven that consciousness emerges “from the physical information processing” in the brain, nor from “the neural correlates.” Nor is the term consciousness even defined. Really Roth’s three points are only questions and assumptions–although they are presented as ‘fast facts.’

Under the title of “The Seat of Consciousness.” Roth offers a picture of the cerebral cortex showing its various lobes, responsible for varied mental functions. Roth maintains that: “Individuals consciously perceive only that information processed in the associative regions of the cerebral cortex. But many regions that operate on a subconscious level participate in the various states of consciousness.” (2004, p. 35) Roth does admit that there is “no consensus” as to how consciousness arises, nor of what it consist, but all the while he assumes it is simply figuring out which of the brain’s interactive processes produce it. Roth ends on a promissory note:
“For now, no definite explanations exist, but that is not likely to remain true forever. Consciousness has a rather unique character, but at least some of the mysteries that surround it should nonetheless–eventually–fall away in the face of persistent scientific inquiry.” (p.39)
This assumptive belief system of the head scientists is accepted in modern psychology and science, and almost never questioned. Unfortunately, the details have yet to be worked out.

When it comes to discussing ‘states of consciousness,’ Roth offers a pretty limited scheme of consideration:“Any effort to understand consciousness must begin by noting that it comprises various states. ... At one end of the spectrum is the so-called alertness (or vigilance) state. States of lower consciousness include drowsiness, dozing, deep sleep and on down to coma.” (p. 34)  A normal state of ‘alertness’ is put at one end of the continuum, as if this is the highest possible state of consciousness a human being can experience. All the other levels are below it–down into coma and the extinction of consciousness. It is assumed that there are no states of consciousness beyond basic vigilance–hence no ‘Self consciousness,’ cosmic consciousness or God consciousness.

David Chalmers, of the philosophy department at the University of Arizona, is another prominent mainstream consciousness theorist. Chalmers suggests that the search for the neural correlates of consciousness (or NCCs) is “the cornerstone in the recent resurgence of the science of consciousness.” (2000, p.1) He defines a neural correlate of consciousness as a neural state that directly correlates with a conscious state, or which directly generates consciousness. In a paper on NCC’s, Chalmers lists a number of proposal which have been forwarded to explain the nature and location of consciousness. These include:
40-hertz oscillations in the cerebral cortex
Intralaminar nuclei in the thalamus
Re-entrant loops in thalamocortical systems
40-hertz rhythmic activity in thalamocortical systems
Extended reticular-thalamic activation system
Neural assemblies bound by NMDA
Certain neurochemical levels of activation
Certain neurons in inferior temporal cortex
Neurons in extrastriate visual cortex projecting to prefrontal areas
Visual processing within the ventral system (2000, p. 1)
All of these suggestions or hypotheses are variants of the head doctrine and localize consciousness within one or more areas of the brain. Each is derived from research investigating the neurological basis of particular mental processes, and none really deal with the issue of the substance of consciousness, or with its subjective nature. Although many researchers recognize the enigmas and mysteries of consciousness, the possibility that consciousness might exist outside of, or apart from, the neurological activity of the head brain is never given consideration. The head doctrine is the basic assumption underlying most modern consciousness research and speculation.

A third contemporary theorist, John Searle (2003) writes about “The Problem of Consciousness” at his website,; and his comments again illustrate the assumptive basis of the head doctrine:
“The most important scientific discovery of the present era will come when someone–or some group–discover the answer to the following question: How exactly do neurobiological processes in the brain cause consciousness? This is the most important question facing us in the biological sciences .... By ‘consciousness’ I simply mean those subjective states of sentience or awareness .... Above all, consciousness is a biological phenomenon. .... the critical functional elements are neurons and synapses. ... we simply know as a matter of fact that brain processes cause conscious states. W don’t know the details about how it works and it may well be a long time before we understand the details involved. ... But, at present, from the fact that we do not know how it occurs, it does not follow that we do not know that it occurs. ... The problem is to figure out exactly how the system works to produce consciousness, and since we know that in fact it does produce consciousness, we have good reason to suppose that there are specific neurological mechanisms by way of which it works.”
Searles’ comments illustrate the assumptive basis of the head doctrine; and how assumptions end up being taken as ‘facts.’ At one point, Searle admits that we have no idea how neurobiological processes produce consciousness, but a moment earlier, he has just stated: “... we simply know as a matter of fact that brain processes cause conscious states.” The facts seem to have disappeared from Searle’s account, and it is instead plagued with assumptions. Searle has “promissory science” to offer us–promising in the future to fill in the gaps in the mysteries of consciousness–and he certainly has no need for any metaphysical considerations.

    A fourth perspective on the nature of “the head doctrine,” is provided by science journalist John Horgan, in The Undiscovered Mind (1999). Horgan gives an honest assessment of what neuro-science really understands about consciousness. He writes: “Mind-scientists and philosophers cannot even agree on what consciousness is, let alone how it should be explained.” (p. 228) Another interesting illustration of “the head doctrine” can be drawn from Horgan’s more recent book, Rational Mysticism: Dispatches from the Border Between Science and Spirituality. The book’s cover depicts the head brain from above as illuminated through modern imaging techniques, which monitor blood flow. John Horgan carries the basic assumption of‘the head doctrine even into his explorations of mysticism and spirituality, assuming that such experiences must occur somewhere within the brain, in the head. This is a ‘rational’ or intellectual mysticism of some sort.
This assumption, that the brain produces consciousness, “the head doctrine,” seems most reasonable and few scientists question it–despite the fact that they are completely unable to establish how or where the brain produces consciousness, or what exactly this consciousness is. Nevertheless, putting aside these uncertainties, most researchers and theorists share the views of Roger Sperry, a prominent neurologist, who remarked: “I don’t see any way for consciousness to emerge or be generated apart from a functioning brain.” The theorists then give us “a promissory note” that they are on the verge of solving these elusive mysteries.
Current scientific thinking also tends to regard consciousness as being non-substantive–that is, as being nothing in itself. According to this conception, there is no way for consciousness to exist separately from or beyond the mind and the body, because consciousness has literally no substance in itself–it is no thing. It is only produced by biological and neurological activity in the brain.

To end on a cryptic note: Horgan quotes Harvard psychologist, Howard Gardner, who suggests that someone may find “deep and fruitful commonalities between Western views of the mind and those incorporated into the philosophy and religion of the Far East.” Gardner suggests that a fundamentally new insight is necessary, although unfortunately, “we can’t anticipate the extraordinary mind because it comes from a funny place that puts things together in a funny kind of way.” (p. 260) These comments are somewhat ironic, as indeed, there is a fundamental difference between western views of the mind and the head doctrine, and the Eastern spiritual traditions with its emphasis upon the heart as the true centre of Self. . Understanding this difference between the head doctrine and the heart doctrine will certainly provide a novel perspective on the issues of consciousness–and put things together in a “funny kind of way.” 

3. The Diagnosis of Modern Psychology
In a Psychology Today interview (1976), Guru Bawa, an eastern wise man, made these rather startling comments about western psychology and the common misunderstanding of Self. According to the guru, psychologists are quite deluded about the origin of the mind (or consciousness):
“I studied psychology once, and I became crazy,” Bawa responded in a playful tone. “I lost all my powers. ... Psychologists don’t know where the mind is. Some think it is in the brain. Others think it is in the genitals. Others think it is in the ass. But the mind is in the heart, and that is what psychologists do not know. Unless the heart opens, you will be driven crazy by the monkeys of the mind.” (April, 1976)
This is a telling diagnosis of modern psychology and science. Certainly scientists are in a sad predicament if they do not know where the mind is, or where consciousness originates! Yet, from a mystical and spiritual perspective, this is precisely the case: There are fundamental errors in modern scientific approaches to understanding of the origin and nature of human consciousness.

Guru Bawa describes some psychologists as thinking that the mind is in the brain–as in the modern head doctrine. Others relate it to the genitals–in reference to Freudian psychology, with its focus on human sexuality; or, in the ass–in reference to kundalini energy, a primordial instinctual energy described by yogis as locked within the root chakra. However, Bawa insists: “The mind is in the heart.” This is the deepest, most essential Self and Mind--beyond what the yogis refer to as the “monkeys of the mind” of the material brain. In this viewpoint, mainstream psychology, philosophy and science alike, are fundamentally mistaken about the nature of consciousness, mind and self. They have grounded their approach to these essential questions on a set of erroneous assumptions and illusory ideas. They are not ‘Knowers of Self,’ as described in the mystical literature.

Sri Chinmoy, another contemporary spiritual teacher, stresses the heart doctrine and also diagnoses human beings’ common ignorance as to the true nature of self:
He does not know himself precisely because he identifies himself with the ego and not with his real ‘I.’ What compels him to identify himself with this pseudo ‘I’? It is Ignorance. And what tells him that the real ‘I’ is not and can never be the ego? It is his self-search. What he sees in the inmost recesses of his heart is his real ‘I,’ his God. (1970, p.16)
Human beings lack true self-knowledge and are asleep to their deep nature as spiritual beings. According to the mystics, we live in ignorance–identifying the Self with the thoughts, feelings, desires and sensations which make up the contents of the mind and the personal daily life dramas. All the while, we do not know Self, or the “real I”–related to the subtle mystical dimensions of the heart.

Ramana Maharshi, an Indian sage and mystic, similarly described the Self as being related to the mysterious Heart Centre–deeper than the personal or ego level of the mind centred in the head:

"... the final goal (of yoga, or life) may be described as the resolution of the mind in its source which is God, the Self; in that of technical yoga, it may be described as the dissolution of the mind in the Heart lotus. ... The mind and the breath spring from the same source. They arise in the heart which is the centre of the self-luminous Self. ... Where the ‘I’ thought has vanished, there the true Self shines as ‘I.’ ‘I’ in the heart. ... The ‘I,’ the Self, alone is real. As there is no other consciousness to know it, it is consciousness." (1977, pp. 90-1)
Ramana Maharshi makes a number of important points concerning consciousness and self. Firstly, real “I” or “Self” is identified most intimately with the spiritual and soul dimensions of the heart, and is connected therein to God. Secondly, the goal of yoga is the dissolution of the mind into its source–within the heart lotus or centre. Thirdly, the Self is “self-luminous” and “shining”–having a inherent light nature.

Fourthly, the self-luminous Self is “consciousness itself.” Consciousness is the light of Self. “‘I’ is within the heart.”
If scientists and psychologists are unable to locate consciousness, the soul and spirit in the material realm, perhaps they are looking for it in the wrong place: firstly, in the head, rather than in the heart, and secondly, in the materiality of the physical world rather than in the subtle matters of the metaphysical dimensions which underlie and sustain the physical dimensions.
In The Heart’s Code, psychologist Paul Pearsall (1998) maintains that, energetically speaking, the heart–rather than the brain–is clearly the centre of the psychological universe. Indeed:
The heart’s EMF (electro-magnetic field) is five thousand times more powerful than the electromagnetic field created by the brain and, in addition to its immense power, has subtle, non-local effects that travel within these forms of energy. ... the heart generates over fifty thousand femtoteslas (a measure of EMF) compared to less than ten femtoteslas recorded from the brain. (p. 55)
The profound significance of these facts leads Gary Schwartz and Linda Russe, in the forward of Pearsall’s book, to comment:
The Heart’s Code points the way to a new revolution in our thinking. Metaphorically, the heart is the sun, the pulsing, energetic center of our biophysical “solar” system, and the brain is the earth, one of the most important planets in our biophysical system. One implication of the energy cardiology/cardio-energetic revolution is the radical (meaning “root”) idea that energetically, the brain revolves around the heart, not the other way around. (1998, p. xii)
The heart is the largest source of biophysical energy in the body and within our psychological life. In Pearsall’s view, the heart involves energy and information that comprises the essence or soul of who we are.

The idea, that the heart is the centre of the psychology of the individual, instead of the brain, would indeed revolutionize our understanding of normal and supernormal psychology. Adopting this view would be analogous to the Copernican revolution, wherein scientists realized that the Earth, rather than being the centre of the universe, travelled around the sun within the solar system. The egocentric attitude of humans was shattered. Likewise, the acceptance of a deeper conceptualization of the heart, consciousness and the nature of Self would constitute a revolutionary development in modern psychology, philosophy and the life sciences.
“If the 20th century has been, so to speak, the Century of the Brain, then the 21st century should be the Century of the Heart.” (Schwartz and Russe, in Pearsall, 1998 p. xiii)
Modern psychology has had no heart or soul! There are no courses offered on the psychology of the heart, because the head scientists think that the heart is only an organ having no inner sentience or consciousness. Modern psychologists instead think that the primary emotional centres are mid-brain structures, and the limbic system. When psychologists go home, do they seriously tell their sweet hearts, I love you with all my limbic system? Although references to the heart abound in literature, culture, music, and life, psychologists do not consider that there could be a ‘psychology to the heart,’ as they imagine instead, that everything occurs somewhere up in the brain, although they haven’t quite yet figured out where.

I have personally used a teaching exercise to demonstrate how we intuitively experience our centre within the heart region, and not within the head. In this exercise, the audience is asked to first point to two or three objects in the environment, then to their left foot, or their right ear, and then finally, to your self. Having conducted this experiment with thousands of subjects, I have found very few who point to their heads, as if their self was in their brain. Instead, the huge majority of people point towards their hearts. In the language of the deaf, the word ‘I’ is similarly indicated by pointing towards the heart centre.

To begin, the term consciousness can be taken generally to refer to the inner awareness of being, which each of us has or is within our lives. Although we might see another persons’ physical being, we cannot examine their inner world of consciousness or their experience of being. Yet, in a very real sense, it is within this inner world that each of us has our existence. Hence, in order to understand consciousness, we must make an effort to understand it within ourselves–through direct inner awareness and experience. This approach is necessary to supplement other scientific approaches as external observers, and it is the method of the mystics, yogis and masters of the esoteric traditions who study consciousness within themselves. Unfortunately, modern psychologists do not consider self-study and efforts to develop consciousness as part of their approach to understanding it. If we think a lot about consciousness, we end up thinking that its in the head.

Mystical teachings elaborate a far different model of consciousness dynamics than considered in western psychology. Although the Self, and the origin of consciousness, are related to the Heart, consciousness is also described as distributed through the whole organism in complex ways, from this centre. This involves distribution through subtle channels and centres, and it is related to ‘blood flow’ and the oxygenation of the body. Consciousness is not simply limited to the brain, and the head scientists have confused consciousness with other cognitive and mental functions, and made many other mistakes in their approaches to the mysteries of consciousness. The Dali Lama describes consciousness as emerging from an ‘indestructible drop’ within the heart. Do the head scientists really know more than the Dali Lama?

4. The Heart Doctrine of Mystical and Spiritual
Psychology and Science

I am the Self, O conqueror of sleep,seated in the hearts of all creatures.
I am the beginning, the middle and the end of all beings. (10, 20)
Bhagavad Gita

This Self, who understands all, who knows all, and whose glory
is manifest in the universe, lives within the lotus of the heart,
the bright throne of Brahman. Self-luminous is that Being, and formless.
He dwells within all and without all. ... By the pure of heart is he known.
The Self exists in man, within the lotus of the heart, and is the master of his lifeand of his body. ... The knot of the heart, which is ignorance,
is loosed, all doubts are dissolved ....   Mundaka Upanishad

    According to the heart doctrine, a divine or spiritual spark, is the essential zero point source of individual light consciousness and of the life force. This is a “quantum Self,” or real “I,” established as the centre within a human being. Rooted into hidden metaphysical dimensions, this ‘God spark’ or hidden Self manifests within the physical plane as the life principle which animates the heart through electromagnetic forces, and as the light principle of consciousness. The Self initiates the heart beat and diffuses the light of consciousness and life energies through the blood and subtle matters to various levels of the body and psyche. The presence of the Self, as a ‘self-illuminating element,’ the Sun of the body, serves to illuminate the psychological and psychic processes, allowing awareness and life within the inner world.

    The influences from a spiritual dimension emerge through the electrodynamics of the material heart, and are distributed through the dynamics of the breath and the circulation of the blood throughout the body. In this view, there is an inner circulation of light, vitality and electromagnetic influences which emerge within-without from a point source established within the higher dimensional Space of the Heart! This is an absolutely profound conceptualization of the origins of human consciousness, suggested by the wisdom teachings of eastern and western mystical doctrines. Mystical and esoteric teachings can enable an individual to overcome the illusions, conditioning and limitations of pseudo-I--the sense of I associated with the personality and mind centred within the head brain, and realize the deeper dimensions of “I” within the heart. The realization of Self within the Heart is the basis for the mystical declaration “I AM.”
These themes are evident in an aboriginal tale about creation and the gods:
One day ... the gods decided to create the universe. They created the stars, the sun and the moon. They created the seas, the mountains, the flowers, and the clouds. Then they created human beings. At the end, they created Truth.
At this point, however, a problem arose: where should they hide Truth so that human beings would not find it right away? They wanted to prolong the adventure of the search.
“Let’s put Truth on top of the highest mountain,” said one of the gods. “Certainly it will be hard to find it there.”
“Let’s put it on the farthest star,” said another.
“Let’s hide it in the darkest and deepest of abysses.”
“Let’s conceal it on the secret side of the moon.”
At the end, the wisest and most ancient god said, “No, we will hide Truth inside the very heart of human beings. In this way they will look for it all over the Universe, without being aware of having it inside of themselves all the time.” (Mills, 1999)
This mysterious Self has inner connections to the universe, to spiritual realities and even to God. Such states are certainly on a broader “spectrum of states of consciousness” than that defined by Roth (2004) as ranging from ‘vigilance’ to coma.

Certainly there are profound possibilities for higher states of awakened consciousness, enlightenment and illumination, which provide an alternative viewpoint to those offered by so-called “exact science” –with its denial of spirit, soul and any transcendental or religious principle. If we speak off the tops of our heads, we can simply assume that consciousness and mind are produced by the head brain; but if we penetrate to the heart of being, to the Heart of ourselves, we may indeed become “knowers of Self.”

The mystic poet Gibran, in The Prophet, responds to the question about the nature of “self knowledge,” stating, “Your hearts know in silence the secrets of the days and nights. But your ears thirst for the sound of your heart’s knowledge.” Similarly, H. P. Blavatsky, a prominent occult scholar, notes,“Learn above all to separate Head-learning from Soul-Wisdom.” (1877) and quotes the ancient Stanzas of Dyzan: “The Sons expand and contract through their own Selves and Hearts ... each a part of the web” (the web as woven between spirit and matter).

From a mystical and spiritual perspective, modern psychology and philosophy are filled with head knowledge but lack the secret wisdom of the Self within the Heart. Further, consciousness and Self are substantive and should not simply be used as generic terms to identify the flow of thoughts, feelings and sensations that occur within subjective experience generated by the brain. There is something far deeper happening within a human being–as concerns the origins of consciousness.

Consciousness has an inherent light nature and is rooted into hyper-space dimensions and the mystical void/plenum. The Self emerges as an element or quantum of consciousness, at a zero point centre. The luminous Self originates from within the subtle and mystical dimensions of the heart, and manifests through the dynamics of the spiritual heart and the material heart, as well as through the blood. The zero point Self is the origin of the life, light and awareness within a human being, as this descends through higher dimensions from within/without.. “I AM” within the mystical Heart Space, and this is what the head scientists do not know.

Ramana Maharshi elaborates upon the mysteries of the heart. He explains how the Self emerges as a point source of light and consciousness, associated with the true Heart centre, and its influences circulate as light throughout the interior dimensions of a human being. The Self seemingly becomes tied up in the knots of the heart, and so, humans forget their true nature:
The effulgent light of active-consciousness starts at a point and gives light to the entire body even as the sun does to the world. When that light spreads out in the body one gets the experiences in the body. The sages call the original point ‘Hridayam’ (the Heart). ... The Individual permeates the entire body, with that light, becomes ego-centric and thinks that he is the body and that the world is different from himself. ... The association of the Self with the body is called the Granthi (knot). ... When Atma (the Self) alone shines, within and without, and everywhere ... one is said to have severed the knot ... . (Bhikshu, 1966, pp. 39-42)
Consciousness and self have metaphysical origins–but have influences within the physical realm. The Self is connected to the physical body of human beings through the life of the heart, the blood and the breath, and through seven life centres, or chakras, in the subtle anatomy. The Self exists in relationship to a hierarchy of interpenetrating world orders, spiritual, divine and metaphysical dimensions of being, which underlie and sustain the realms of gross matter. These dynamics allow for afterlife existence and for complex relationships of the individual to the Sun, to the larger Universe, and most importantly to spiritual and divine realities.

These seemingly preposterous claims about humans’ miraculous possibilities simply can not be weighed properly without a detailed examination of exactly what mystical and spiritual teachings say about these invisible worlds and hidden realities. These teachings present a complex physics and metaphysics of consciousness, the heart and the universe. Unfortunately, modern science lacks the wisdom of the heart and soul, and fails to acknowledge the inner light and divine life. Further, we do not realize the Creator manifesting in all things, and assume blindly that the world is simply what it appears to be to us in our conditioned states of vigilance or awareness–dominated by ten thousand and one worries, anxieties, life interests and habits.

The nature and origin of human consciousness are very deep mysteries, which can only be understood through the awakening of consciousness within one self, and a psycho-spiritual and alchemical transformation of the heart. There are many useful ideas and practices within the mystical and spiritual literature that guide us in this inner approach to consciousness, and to direct experiences of inner realities. Mystical and spiritual teachings provide systematic theoretical models of consciousness, as well as methods and disciplines to develop self-awareness and to experience states of deeper and more expansive awareness. In fact, mystical sources of teachings also provide detailed metaphysical expositions of the subtle dimensions that underlie existence–which are congruent with ideas and evidences emerging within science itself.

5. Applications and Implications
of Mystical and Spiritual Science

It is impossible to convey in a simple manner the complexity of the esoteric mystical and spiritual psychologies, and how these could be considered within every department of the social and natural sciences. I have attempted to portray an alternative view of the origin and nature of human consciousness, contrasting the head doctrine of modern science, within the Heart doctrine of spiritual and mystical teachings. Especially when it comes to issues of consciousness, spirit and soul, psychic and paranormal experiences, we need a new model of reality in order to assimilate the innumerable evidences for such phenomena.

Consciousness has deep roots in higher dimensions, and is not simply a product of the material brain at all. This is what the head scientists do not know, and this is what the sages, swamis, mystics and Sufis claim. Esoteric psychologies elaborate profoundly valuable and alternative perspectives on this fundamental enigma in modern science. (Book I of the Within-Without from Zero Point series, entitled The Heart Doctrine, deals extensively with these questions.)

In Scientific American, Roth (2004) describes ‘vigilance’ as at one end of his consciousness continuum, and death at the other, but there is nothing suggested beyond this state of vigilance, or death. By contrast, mystical and spiritual psychologies suggest that of course there are further states of consciousness possible to experience or attain. Self-realization itself is the dissolution of the false mind into the lotus of the Heart. Beyond this are other possible states of objective or cosmic awareness, states of samadhi and of formless realms, of Divine and God consciousness. Further, there is a continuation of consciousness into afterlife worlds, as the evolution of the individual continues in other forms and lives. Consciousness was never produced by the brain, and it never will be. Instead, it emerges within-without from higher dimensional space, pervades the body as the light and life principle, and it eventually withdraws, without-within back to the heart centre.

Mystical and spiritual psychologies are also immensely practical, in a manner that modern psychology is not, as the latter lacks any effort towards ‘self-study.’ Scientists think that they can study consciousness by thinking about it, or by observing evidence of it in the outer world, as in the monitoring of brain activity. However, the mystic includes him or herself in the equation, and approaches the study of consciousness within themselves, aiming to ‘awaken’ from the semi-sleep state of the masses of humankind, and to actually be more consciousness. There can be more consciousness, or less consciousness, and we might experience more or less of this light of consciousness. The mystic studies consciousness and gains understanding through self study and inner work, and spiritual practices, which approaches are completely lacking in cognitive and behavioural philosophies–what I would call ‘mickey mouse psychology.’

Mystical and spiritual science and ideas have applications in innumerable applied areas, such as in my own approach to “The Awakening of Consciousness and the Heart in Criminal Offenders,” an alternative approach to correctional psychology, Whereas the cognitive-behavioural programs now used conceive of inmates as having a dual mind and body, they fail to consider the psychology of the heart and soul. Healing, change and transformation, all involve dynamics of the heart, and other centres. Psychology as a discipline has lacked a spiritual perspective for almost a century, while ignoring the deep teachings of the esoteric traditions.

Mystical and spiritual perspectives can also be applied within other areas of science, and higher education. The mystical teachings bear profound relationships to emerging ideas and theories in physics and cosmology, and provide an alternative interpretation of many of the facts and theories of science itself. (Book II of the Within-Without from Zero Point series, is entitled: Microcosm-Macrocosm: Scientific and Mystical Views of the Origin of the Universe, the Nature of Matter & Human Consciousness, and it elaborates extensively upon such a comparative study.) They also represent a whole deeper dimension to the studies of religion, philosophy, history and evolutionary theory. It is remarkable that the secret teachings of all ages, have remained so secret, while the sorry head scientists puzzle over the deep mysteries of human consciousness.
Asimov, I. The Subtlest Difference. In Abell,G. & Singer,B. eds. Science and the Paranormal. Scribner's Sons, New York, 1981.
Bawa. G. The Mind is in the Heart. Psychology Today. Interview, April 1977.
Bhikshu, K. Sri Ramana Gita (Dialogues of Maharshi). Tiruvannamalai, India, 1966.
Blavatsky, H. The Voice of the Silence. Theosophical University Press, Pasadena, California, Chalmers, D. The Puzzle of Conscious Experience. Scientific American. Dec.1995.
__________. What is a Neural Correlate of Consciousness? 2000.
Currie, I. You Cannot Die: The incredible findings of a century of research on death. Methuen, Toronto, 1978.
Chinmoy. G. Yoga and the Spiritual Life. Tower Publications, New York, 1970.
Gibran, K. The Prophet. Alfred Knopf, New York, 1968.
Holmes, C. Within-Without from Zero Points: Book I: The Heart Doctrine: Mystical views of the origin and nature of human consciousness. Zero Point Publications, Kars, ON, 2004.
______. Within-Without from Zero Points: Book II: Microcosm-Macrocosm: Scientific and Mystical Views of the Origin of the Universe, the Nature of Matter & Human Consciousness. Zero Point Publications, Kars, ON, 2004.
Horgan, J. The Undiscovered Mind: How the human brain defies replication, medication, and explanation. Touchstone Books, New York, 1999.
________, Rational Mysticism: Dispatches from the border between science and spirituality.Houghton Mifflin Co., New York, 2003.
Mills, W. Tone Magazine. Ottawa, Ontario, April, 1999.
Pearsall, P. The Heart’s Code: Tapping the wisdom and power of our heart energy. Broadway Books, New York, 1998.
Prabhavananda, S. & Manchester, F. (Eds.) The Upanishads: Breath of the eternal. New American Library, New York, 1957.
Prabhupada, A. Bhagavad-gita: As it is. Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, Los Angeles, Ca., 1972.
_________. Consciousness: The Missing Link. Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, Los Angeles, Ca., 1980.
Ramana Maharshi. The Sage of Arunacala. By Mahadevan. Allen & Unwin, London, 1977.
Roth, G. The Quest to find Consciousness. Scientific American, Special Edition, MIND. 2004.
Searle, J. The Problem of Consciousness.


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