Friday, May 15, 2009

New Ways of Thinking: Consciousness, Pain, and Suffering

A commentary to “Can Spirituality Heal Suffering” by Deepak Chopra

Other life exists in completely different dimensions than human life, even though that life seems to be life governed within the principles of our laws of physics.

Humans can only relate to what is existential in the particular dimension we live governed within our laws of physics. Our responses are a result of how we sensorially interpret phenomenon resulting from chemical reactions that trigger associated biological behavior.

Therefore, humans can only determine their world within the limitations of their five sensory receptors. We do not have the capability to go beyond or change that fact. However, there is a great deal of knowledge still to be gained within these limitations leading to greater acknowledgement and understanding of the existential/knowable and of the transcendent/unknowable principles of our environment.

There are transcendental dimensions beyond those of humans and the other life on earth. Human beings in the great scheme of things are very limited. We are limited to certain color perceptions, since we can only determine color that is available from within our color spectrum through the absorption and reflection of light, and likewise sound only within our auditory spectrum. Sight is limited to only three dimensions. Things like time and space, beginning and ending, life and death, a black hole, our system of mathematics, the laws of physics, the bible, language with words like reality, and virtually everything else have been created by human beings for human beings to meet human needs.

We have learned through those things we have created, and as a consequence we have a greater understanding of life in our spectrum. Thanks to quantum physics we know there is something else out-there, let’s call it another strictly human term like stuff, a consciousness that we are not capable to authentically know.

There are those, including Dr. Chopra, who have expressed their view that there are levels of consciousness belonging to all life, and that consciousness is not specific just to human life. Dogs, cats, horses, birds … respond to a different level of consciousness than humans. They too experience pain and suffering, but not profoundly like humans.

Pain creates certain levels of suffering depending on the extent of a physical injury; but not all suffering is created by pain. Pain is the hurting, such as from a cut or burn, conveyed to the brain by sensory neurons, a physical activation, and all animals suffer from such afflictions. Suffering is also conveyed to the brain by sensory neurons, but does not have a physical activation, its activation is a result of human awareness or consciousness, such as the death of a loved one or the suffering of a soldier experiencing post combat stress. It is transcendent and abstract because we really don’t know its mechanics, its principles. As Peter Russell explains in Mysterious Light, consciousness can be very analogous to light. The stuff, as I previously expressed it certainly includes consciousness, but may be all inclusively consciousness. Consciousness may be the derivation of all things.

All of life’s vicissitudes, its pluralism, dualism, and its yin and yang, which includes unhappiness/suffering as opposed to happiness, are important to our evolution; each would not be known without experiencing the other. We would not know or understand compassion if it were not for the experience of suffering. There would not be any meaning to the words sympathy or empathy.

The answer to the question “Can Spirituality [consciousness or soul] Heal Suffering?” is no. It is not possible to heal suffering, but understanding its nature and principles can help alleviate its affect, and by gaining greater knowledge we can certainly minimize its physical occurrences, such as in famine, violence, accidents, and disease.

Suggested reading: Peter Russell -- The Spirit of Now