I tend to come up with lyrical quotes every once in a while and I write them down in post-its all over my wall, these include motivational phrases like “Change was yesterday” or inspiring mottos as “Own a question to own a purpose”. Not very long ago I passed the note “To the universe the only conscious being is itself” to a friend of mine that often practices meditation. I couldn’t really sustain a thesis, I only came with it because of my pretentiousness along with an inspiration from Asimov’s short story in which the universe becomes a living entity, and extreme cynicism that makes me believe the universe doesn’t care about anybody (which you don’t have to be a pessimistic person to actually believe).
My friend never agreed with me but it sure had him thinking because after he left for a 10 day meditation retreat he told me he thought it was the opposite, “we avoid universal consciousness”. This does make sense, as almost everybody think of themselves separately from the cosmos. Ever since we were born, we tend to split ourselves from the rest. There’s a ‘me’ and then there’s a ‘you’ along with everybody else.
Ego is what doesn’t allow me to achieve that kind of zen. Some people say they have reached enlightenment but to me ego is something being build by the minute, everything detail we know has come through our senses. I’m trying to make a case for our humane selfishness, but I don’t really need to. We remember the places we have been, the fields we have studied, the trouble we went through and how we felt when we did those things. We know ourselves and strongly relate to ourselves.
Thinking of what universal consciousness means may be something very complicated to imagine for an uninitiated mind, but something in between is easier to explain. There is people who are capable to achieve a collective consciousness. Something like a perfect president who is capable not only of embodying the executive power of his nation but to put the priorities of his country in front of his own. This goes from big things like backpackers who’ve been through every continent achieving the rank of global citizen to small like a father thinking about his family. You can see now how hard it can be to achieve universal consciousness.
I could be absolutely wrong, but today I define consciousness as the product of a collection of information. Whatever I hold in my head at the moment is either information that has been processed by my brain after receiving a signal from my sense organs or information I have retrieved from my memory. Maybe the function of consciousness is mashing this different information and coming up with new ones we call ideas. This definition can probably be contested by those who believe in something beyond the material world, but I stand by it since it’s the only way I can explain consciousness to myself with my own resources.
What I took from the exchange with my friend is the realisation we all share some common ground and that our egos are actually only a tip of the snowflake we are. So there has always been an ‘us’. “No man is an island” said John Doe centuries ago.
To achieve universal consciousness first we have to achieve the consciousness of ‘us’. That seems challenging, technology nowadays may be facilitating communication and bringing us closer to that mind to mind transparency, but would we ever shrink our egos? Yes. Letting go of oneself seems impossible but theoretically it sounds comforting.
I have always been fascinated by the universe, I try to study it in every aspect and that’s why I consider myself a man of science. Learning about microorganisms, ant colonies, neurological systems and metropolitan cities have all something in common, having been made of smaller and indispensable components, they are at their own level a collective conscience. We are made of cells and together we make a civilisation that I hope someday will be part of something else. I truly believe we are transitioning into something greater, it’s the call of nature.
But it seems that to get there, we need to let go of ourselves. Or should we?