Apr 13

The right question is: which came first, consciousness or the thought/concept of consciousness?

As explained in Part 1, consciousness is a derived subordinate concept to the self-thinking Idea or Absolute.

Consciousness is a concept and concepts are formed by thinking. We could not refer to the word “consciousness” and what it means or represents unless we had first formulated the idea by thinking it. But what must be a surprising fact for the modern thinker, is that the idea of consciousness does not come from within us – solipsistically as it were. The idea of consciousness comes to us from experience of others who exhibit whom we theorize to have consciousness.

This is explained in a very simple but extraordinary way by three prominent child psychologists, Alison Gopnik, Andrew Meltzoff and Patricia Kuhl who argue that children are not simply passive vessels to be filled with knowledge, but act in a way that is similar to scientific investigators who make and test theories.

[Alison Gopnik, Andrew N. Meltzoff, and Patricia K. Kuhl, The Scientist in the Crib: Minds, Brains and How Children Learn (New York: William Morrow and Company, 1999).]
They explain that for a child –

“All that really reaches us from the outside world is a play of colours and shapes, light and sound. . . what we really see are bags of skin stuffed into pieces of cloth and draped over chairs. There are small restless black spots that move at the top of the bags of skin, and a hole underneath that irregularly makes noises. The bags move in unpredictable ways, and sometimes one of them will touch us. The holes change shape, and occasionally salty liquid pours from the two spots.

This is, of course, a madman’s view of other people, a nightmare. The problem of Other Minds is how we somehow get from this mad view to our ordinary experience of people.”
Perception only gives us bags of skin, and other minds are something more than bags of skin. To encounter other minds we need something more than perception. Gopnik argues that the something more is a theory. The infant is a theoretician who comprehends her world, and other minds appear in that world as the explanation of phenomena.

In other words, to understand other persons as having consciousness we need something more than perception. Gopnik explains that ‘something more’ as a theory. The infant must be a theoretician in order to make sense of its phenomenal experiences.

In this way we come to understand ourselves as having consciousness by recognizing that others consist of a consciousness that is aware of myself as having consciousness. This is how we come to understand that I must have a consciousness. In other words it is a socially constructed and shared concept. This explains why the word consciousness is derived from the Latin root con-scio, or knowing with others.

Reason is beyond consciousness

Please download to continue reading

Apr 05

excerpt –

From: Deepak Chopra
Sent: Tuesday, April 4, 2017 5:00 PM

Perceptions and minds are innumerable
Awareness is the common ground of all of them
Hence awareness is one
You cannot multiply or divide awareness
It differentiates into all knowers, all modes of knowing and all objects known-all sentient beings –in the same way a zygote differentiates into all the different cells and organs of a body

REPLY by BMP

Awareness or consciousness is not merely what is common to all perceptions and minds, it is what is universal essence for them. The difference between commonality and universal essence is a vitally important distinction.

The color white may be common to picket fences, clouds, and snowflakes, but it is not essential to those things. In other words fences can be any color, clouds can be gray as well as white, and snowflakes don’t really depend on their being white as far as their essence as water is concerned.

On the other hand, universal essence such as the fact that each and every cow cannot be what it is if we take away its ‘cowness’ which is shared by every cow. This kind of universality is essential to the innumerable different specimens under its species.

The fact that the universal is one does not mean that the many individuals under it are eliminated. That does not follow as a rational conclusion from the fact that many individual specimens exists quite happily within a single species.

To claim that awareness is one is also not justified by the evidence that the offspring of conscious living entities each have their own awareness quite different from one another. Experience tells us that when the mother feels hungry, for example, her offspring do not necessarily feel the same thing. So awareness is not the same for all.

Another example can be given. The flame of a candle can be used to light many other candles without losing its own luminescence. Thus many independent flames can be produced from one. IF this is true for fire, then how can an absolute of ultimate consciousness be restricted from producing many independent conscious entities from itself? How can the Absolute be restricted in this way?

-excerpt

The full article can be downloaded here:

Apr 01

Reply to Dr Menas
Sripad Bhakti Madhava Puri, Ph.D.
April 1, 2017

Dear Dr Menas,

Namaste. It is good to hear this interpretation of your position which is more aligned with philosophy’s rational idea of consciousness. There is indeed an entire spectrum of interpretations of Vedanta stretching from abstract monism to radical dualism. If these differences are not viewed from a religious perspective [as we typically find in India] but from a purely philosophical/logical framework the whole gamut of ideas that have historically occupied philosophers over the centuries both East and West can be found.

Abstract monism or kevaladvaitavad, represents reductionism in any of its historical forms from the Greek Parmenides (all is Being) and the Eleatics (One only) to the modern day materialistic reductionsits, or eliminativists. Your counterpart [Dr Chopra], if i understand him correctly, makes the case for an absolute consciousness existing abstractly without any object to oppose it. All apparent [“metaphorical”] objects, perceptions, thoughts, ideas, universes or whatever are contents of consciousness, which is like a pot that ultimately absorbs all content into itself, so that in the end all you are left with is the pot – consciousness.

The full article can be downloaded here:

Mar 22

Dandavat pranams,

Attached is the Princeton Bhakti Vedanta Institute Report – March 4, 2017.

“Gopal Lifts A Mountain”

– excerpt –
“As just a little boy, Krishna saw his father (Nanda Maharaja) and
the other residents of Vrindavan making elaborate preparations for
the worship of King Indra because He provides them rain for their
fields and crops. There were all kinds of food offerings being cooked
with all types of grains, milk products, fruits and vegetables. Krishna
already knew everything but still He asked Nanda Maharaja ‘what are
all the decorations and bhog preparations for?’ Nanda Maharaja
explained that ‘This is an annual tradition that is made in honor of
Lord Indra, the king of heaven, for many generations.’ After his
explanation, Krishna told the Vrajavasis (residents of Vrindavan),
‘You don’t have to worship Indra. Sri Govardhan Hill is more
important than Indra. The Hill is providing all the food and water you
need for your cows and nourishment.” Sripad Puri Maharaja
continued, “On getting this news, Indra became very angry and
ordered the rain and thunder to punish the Vrajavasis so that no one
would make such an offense again. Lord Indra could not believe that
Krishna, who He considered to be a mere mortal child, could dare to
oppose His worship and instead choose to worship a pile of rocks such
as Sri Govardhan. He felt the Vrajavasis had rejected all the
demigods over whom he was king.”

——————————————–
Please enjoy and share with others.

Srila Acharya Maharaj ki jai
Sripad Puri Maharaj ki jai

Your humble servant
Kushum devi dasi
(New York)

Mar 05

Dandavat pranams,

Attached is the Princeton Bhakti Vedanta Institute Report – Feruary 11, 2017.

“The Science of Krishna Consciousness”

– excerpt –
As our sadhu sanga program began, Sripad Puri Maharaja spoke
about a particular picture taken in the late ‘70’s where Srila
Prabhupada[1] was sitting in the center surrounded by his disciples.
He specifically had his scientists sitting in front of everyone at his
lotus feet. “Whenever Sripad Swarup Damodara Maharaja (Sripad
Maharaja)[2] would be there among the devotees, Srila Prabhupada
would want to talk with him only and discuss Darwin,” Sripad Puri
Maharaja said as the group laughed. “The significance of that
picture is that Srila Prabhupada always wanted to emphasize the
importance of presenting Krishna consciousness in such a scientific
way that it could be appreciated even by the scientists.”

——————————————–
Please enjoy and share with others.

Srila Acharya Maharaj ki jai
Sripad Puri Maharaj ki jai

Your humble servant
Kushum devi dasi
(New York)


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