Why would evolution create a higher state of consciousness?

Discussion in 'Eastern Philosophy' started by John J. Bannan, Jul 31, 2007.

  1. spidergoat Liddle' Dick Tater Valued Senior Member

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    Ah, but that's the interesting thing, we can still function quite well without conscious thought. Sure you might have to call up this function now and then, but it's less necessary than one might assume. I suggest we are burdened by it's overuse, which, like overeating, leads to disfunction.

    http://u-g.blogspot.com/2007/02/1.html
     
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  3. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

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    (Insert title here)

    The idea of a "higher state of consciousness" is a human invention. That is, we arbitrarily assign it the status of being a "higher state". In reality, the higher state may well be more raw and primal.

    It's a simple concept to write, but not necessarily the easiest to understand. Okay, at least, it seems that way by the number of people I confuse with it.

    We generally think of the brain as a generative organ. That is, our thoughts occur there, &c. Something lights up with electricity, something else is produced. But this is the wrong perspective, I think. I prefer to regard the brain as a filter of sorts. It must receive, prioritize, and respond to stimuli. Our natural tendencies compel us to view ourselves as creating these responses as if from nothing. Now flip that notion on its head: our responses are, in a certain and vital way, inevitable. We just haven't the means to track that inevitability.

    It's not quite full-blown determinism, but rather the results of inhibition. We perceive a stimulus according to conditioned criteria, we prioritize and consider the stiumulus according to conditioned criteria, we respond according to conditioned criteria. In the end, we are filtering out information, paring down to the essential and utmost of the concept. Our responses, then, are the only ones we can manage under the circumstances.

    Consider the Reticular Activating System in your brain:

    ... we also find the Reticular Activating System (RAS), an area which is enormously important because of its role in arousal and awareness. Our ability to think and perceive, even our power to respond to stimuli with anything beyond a mere reflex, is due to the brain cortex, but the cortex cannot function unless it is in an aroused state - awake. The brain cortex cannot wake itself up; what awakens the cortex from sleep and keeps it awake is the RAS. The RAS is also invoked in order to switch from perception of things outside us, to perception of things within our inner world. The RAS regulates and controls all our muscular activity and all our sensory perceptions; the cortex and RAS operate in a feedback mode, the purpose of which is to maintain an optimum level of arousal (see the following paper 'States of Cortical Arousal').

    Sensations which reach the brain cortex are fed back to the RAS, and when the level of activity becomes too high, the RAS sends inhibitory signals to the cortex to reduce the excitation. Anxiety states occur when the inhibitory function of the RAS fails to keep cortical activity within comfortable limits. On the other hand, in a sensory deprivation situation, where the level of stimulation reaching the RAS via the cortex is too low, the RAS sends stimulating signals to the cortex to maintain alertness, frequently resulting in hallucinations. It is the RAS which switches on the cortex during sleep to produce vivid dreams. It is also responsible, during dreaming sleep, for inhibiting the activity of the whole spinal cord, so that the person does not literally enact the dream and possibly endanger himself. It is the function of biofeedback to facilitate cooperation between the cortex and the RAS, in order to achieve self-regulation.

    The brain can receive, classify and respond to sensory information without such data penetrating into consciousness. However, if a repeated stimulus finally results in conscious awareness, this is because the RAS has been activated. This is the capacity of the brain for selective attention: when reading a book, especially if it is sufficiently interesting, the reader will be oblivious to surrounding distractions. This duality of perception is necessary to man's survival ....
    (Trans4mind.com)​

    Put simply, as it was explained to me in psychology classes, the RAS is what lets you hear someone speak your name in a crowded, noisy room. Quite obviously, it does more, but all of that seems to be filtration; in fact, I learned about it by another name, the Reticular Autonomous Screen. Either way, it provides an example of the brain as a filter.

    We receive information broadly and constantly. Why do you not perceive the motion of the Earth except by watching the stars in the sky? Why do we not hear the echo of the Big Bang without special equipment? Why do we not see infrared? All of these signals have been filtered out, and to the point that natural selection determined we do not need to perceive these things.

    The "higher state of consciousness", in this sense, would actually be a more primal state of mind, one in which specific filters are arranged; while blocking out external signals, we focus on the processing of internal impulses. The trick, it seems, is to achieve this state without meditating, that is, while functioning in the world, that we might be able to see beyond the living conditions of society that have selected such a narrowly-censored view. The higher state of mind is an attempt to perceive what we are missing, what we have blocked out of our perceptions.

    The evolutionary question, then, is whether humanity can endure while filtering more and more of its stimuli as irrelevant. The perceptive demands of farming in the nineteenth are not necessarily any greater or less than the perceptive demands of a twentieth-century assembly line, or technological labor in the twenty-first. Each generation is conditioned for even greater focus; filters are stronger, more numerous, or both. At present, society selects against the higher state. The most successful in the species are ever-more focused, and the dreamers and mythmakers increasingly left out in the cold. The question is whether this progression can continue indefinitely. We have the power to affect the factors of our natural selection; we can easily select ourselves out of the living Universe. In this context, it would be a fascinating debate whether the "higher state" is vestigial, or something to aspire to. Perhaps it simply is, a byproduct of our necessity. But nature is not extraneous: is it selecting out the "higher state", or does that "higher state" have a purpose and a value among the current generations of the species? I, for one, side with the latter. It will be our broader perception that eventually saves us from ourselves.
     
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2007
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  5. John J. Bannan Registered Senior Member

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    Is this broader filtering of stimuli "enlightenment"? What you are describing makes sense, but I'm not sure that is what Spidergoat and Wisdom Seeker are referring to. For example, a blind man is better able to hear, because he doesn't have to deal with the distraction of sight. This is a known phenomenum. Is that enlightenment?
     
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  7. Wisdom_Seeker Speaker of my truth Valued Senior Member

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    It is funny you mention the RAS, cause one of the most ancient techniques to achieve this "no-mind" state of awareness is to focus on a certain object and nothing else. A little flame will do, or a spot in the wall.
    Our mind is always wondering without our control, we always go with the eyes from spot "A" to spot "B" unconsciously. If you focus your attention of a spot "A", your mind will make an effort to distract you. It is said that if you persist on this method, your mind will do an "inner-turn", from the fixed spot "A" towards the spot "B"; but this time it will not be an external spot, it is an inner-spot which we have never seen before.

    This method is also said to awaken the innate potential of out-of-body experiences.
     
  8. John J. Bannan Registered Senior Member

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    Well, if enlightenment only has to do with changing the filters on our perceptions, why are these filters better than others? Isn't it better to see, than to be blind even though you can hear a mouse from a mile away?
     
  9. spidergoat Liddle' Dick Tater Valued Senior Member

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    Again the profit motive, what is better for me based on the values I have been taught...

    Isn't it enough to know that our assumptions about the ordinary state of perception are wrong or incomplete?
     
  10. John J. Bannan Registered Senior Member

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    No. I already knew that. We also process a lot of information on a subconscious level. We also see things that aren't there, but are brains make us see them, such as optical illusions. But, why is a state of not thinking beneficial such that one could call it a higher state of consciousness?
     
  11. spidergoat Liddle' Dick Tater Valued Senior Member

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    I don't know that it is beneficial in relation to the values commonly held in society. In my view, it is it's own reward.
     
  12. John J. Bannan Registered Senior Member

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    I can see it as its own reward. I don't see it as a prefered state, however.
     
  13. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

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    Some would call it that. And perhaps, in accord with certain definitions of enlightenment, it meets the standard. It could, however, be simply an hallucinatory or irrelevant state. Marijuana, for instance, makes me very introspective; THC is good for my meditative needs. Opium resin, however, simply erases me; if there is a thought process taking place, either I don't know it, or I haven't smoked enough opium to obliterate it. Both drugs can create a sense of inner peace. Both drugs help me block out the world. But the function under the influence of marijuana has considerably greater potential for utility than the opiated alternative.

    Additionally, some meditative practices seek a higher state of consciousness that involves self-erasure. For years, I sought a form of that, but it's gained me nothing useful. Even outside this wretchedly delightful corner of the Universe we call Sciforums, the ideas developed in such an state of mind still meet certain hostility. Self-erasure may be a different state of consciousness, but whether or not it's useful is left to debate; it depends, as always, by what one means by self-erasure. To some it may be a loss of concern for the self to the effect that one is willing to die in order to make a point. To others, it may mean living in a cave for years on end only coming out when researchers haul you in to attempt to verify your followers' claims that you haven't eaten a thing in ten years.

    If I could exist with fewer filters or raised consciousness, or however we describe it, according to my idyll, I would. In such a state I'm less prone to the kind of petty bullshit that stains our merely human existence.
     
  14. Wisdom_Seeker Speaker of my truth Valued Senior Member

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    Ya know, Zen Monks say that Buddha never said a word, and yet, he spoke for 45 years. Zen Monks were right.
     
  15. s0meguy Worship me or suffer eternally Valued Senior Member

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    If we only use 10% and the rest is useless, then why do we have it? it doesn't make sense since if it doesn't improve our probability to reproduce, we wouldn't have it, would we?
     
  16. gurglingmonkey More Amazing in RL Registered Senior Member

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    I would like to say that, for me, enlightenment is an awareness. An awareness that there is suffering and joy and the meaning of life is found in experiencing the juxtaposition of the two, and a feeling of connection to every person. It is basically what is defined as a peak experience.
    Of course this have little evolutionary advantage. Feeling this way does not help one survive.
     
  17. Wisdom_Seeker Speaker of my truth Valued Senior Member

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    Because of further research, it came to my attention that was actually use almost our whole brains, but our awareness is of approximately 10% at a given time. We somehow lack the capacity to be aware of the whole brain in a given moment.
     
  18. Intelligence-Bolzen Registered Member

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    Are we actually always using only 10 percent? I think we can change that by growing up as in a.k.a. more self-confidence and people EQ, because then we realize so many more things at once!
     
  19. kmguru Staff Member

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    Folks, for the umpteen time...we use the whole brain just as we use the whole heart or leg etc. Granted some of us use very little hair on the head so they vanish....

    Now, when I take some brain juice, I can speed read a book quarter the time and retain the essence of it...but that is a different matter.
     
  20. Wisdom_Seeker Speaker of my truth Valued Senior Member

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    We use our whole brain, but only approximately 10% at a time.
     
  21. kmguru Staff Member

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    That I beg to differ. It is more like 8.2%, that 1.8% can make a lot of difference....

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    I wonder what the number would be for someone who is designing the next generation enterprise architecture for the U.S. Navy!!!
     
  22. Wisdom_Seeker Speaker of my truth Valued Senior Member

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    Do you think that the guy "designing the next generation enterprise architecture for the U.S. Navy" would be doing that at the same time he was thinking about his wife, his sons, his feelings, his past experiences, history, literature, and thinking about stuff that makes him laugh, makes him feel angry, makes him feel sorrow, all at the same time?
     
  23. kmguru Staff Member

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    What do you think? People who are on Xanax look normal...but take away the pill, the brain goes to over drive....just some food for thought...unless you want to shut down that process to stay witin that 10%....

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