I watch a seagull dive into the calm surface of the Columbia River. Are we connected, this bird and I? Are we entangled in the folds of eternal consciousness?
What are these ideas of consciousness that the world of physics and spirituality talk about so much and that I understand so little?
I come to this discussion acutely aware of my own materialist understanding of the world. I am Western-educated in the old-school sense of the words, and I question all things that whiff of spirituality unless I’m presented with tangible validation of their factual existence—material evidence. This matter-based view of mine is deeply engrained, imprinted even, and I struggle to catch glimpses of the world as it exists in its deeper realms.
Sometimes I think I see it, or feel it, or tangibly sense consciousness. And my world is akimbo with this evidence, off-kilter as I analyze what I saw, felt or sensed. I stand, off-balance and teetering, because, you see, just recently I began to know on an intellectual level, that it’s there, or here—that an intangible consciousness is at work under, around and above all material aspects of the world; this is a new knowing and it pinches my mind.
I seek out explanations of what this consciousness is.
I like the simple ones, those easy to grasp. “Consciousness is awareness: the two are synonymous….Consciousness is the potential for all creation.” says Deepak Chopra in The Book of Secrets.
So, I ponder his clear, simple statement: Consciousness equals awareness. Yes. We get that. But then comes his zinger: it “is the potential for all creation.” And later: It is “pure potential”. My challenge is not just to understand this intellectually but to really “get” it. I struggle.
Consciousness is a “field of pure potentiality,” and we, as part of consciousness, tap into that field, either intentionally or not. Clearly, to be intentional about it is preferable.
In reading Peter Russell’s From Science to God and listening to his talks, I come to see his view that consciousness is in all things; all creatures and all systems down to the atomic simply have varying experiences of it. We humans like to believe ours to be the most evolved, but is it? I’m not sure if Russell thinks that it is, and I’m no longer so sure that I can believe it either, or that it matters who’s king of this particular hill.
This change has happened rapidly for me. It was not so long ago that I looked for consciousness in my body; maybe my mind created it or, somehow, my heart, I thought, and I meditated on that. I could not find it.
I should have just picked up a book by Deepak Chopra or Eckhart Tolle or Peter Russell or Francis Lucille or so many others. They would have told me in a heartbeat that the spirit of all, consciousness, is not in a body, that it is instead nonlocal, everywhere, that it is not a thing residing in time and space. They might have used terms new to me, like non-duality, as they explained the complexities of this realm. And my head would have been akimbo.
My sister told me the same thing, by the way, and she does not consider herself a philosophical scholar. She just knows. She told me that Sunday School misled us all those years ago. There’s no soul sitting cross-legged somewhere inside our chests, she said. Consciousness is nonlocal.
As I read and study, trying to grasp this mind-altering change from matter to consciousness, from a mechanistic view of the world to one in which the intangible realm of consciousness creates all, I am often stopped in my tracks by the beauty of it. Of course, then I start up again.
The vision slips.
The seagull swoops away, white against a pure blue sky.
And I yearn to see it again.