There is no specific observation point within the brain in which consciousness resides. Instead, our sense of ourselves is a shifting field of awareness generated in many locations at once. This construction referred to as “oneself” is a combination of somatic and sensory signals, emotional responses, memories, and instantaneous experience processed in various parts of the brain. These ever-changing apprehensions, while being discontinuous, sporadic, and episodic in themselves, are nevertheless enmeshed in an overall sensation of unified identity which is experienced as a continuously integrated sense of self.
Even though it serves as the foundational structure for our conscious existence, this notion of individual identity is a little understood phenomenon. Coming to terms with the mystery of exactly whom and what we are brings us to the threshold of the collective philosophies of mankind and the very edge of scientific theory and research.
We are beginning to discern the miraculous ways in which our notions of external reality and internal awareness are intertwined. Instead of the rigidly separated concepts of space, time, matter, energy, and consciousness – inheritances of philosophical traditions that have separated us from a sense of connectedness to the cosmos – we are discovering a theoretical basis for new experimental evidence based in clinical psychology, neuroscience, and quantum physics that demonstrates our oneness with all life, the earth, and the universe at large.
Both Karl H. Pribram, Distinguished Research Professor at Georgetown University and David Bohm, the world-famous Manhattan Project scientist, have proposed theories, which synthesize neuroscience and quantum physics.
By envisioning consciousness as a hologram, in which the brain maintains and operates a model of the external world – which is itself a hologram – the infinite and the infinitesimal are bridged in a manner which recalls the ancient Hermetic formulation, “As above, so below.”
This emerging conception of our interconnectedness offers a vision of unity in a world that often offers apparently fragmented experiences. Understanding that, in a very literal sense, we are the eyes, mind, heart, and soul of the universe unites us with each other, the ecosystem of the earth, and the cosmos at large. We hold the very crown of creation on our shoulders.
Image: digital mashup of human skull and brain, spiral galaxy, and star map, Tullio DeSantis, 2010.