Thursday, December 23, 2010


(Yoga Bhumikas and Jnana Bhumikas)

[Adopted from the Book "Yogataaraavali of Adi Sankarachrya"  with Commentary by Shri Kuppa Venkata Krishna Murthy, English Translation: Dr. Vemuri Ramesam, I-SERVE, Hyderabad, India, 2007, pp: 96.] 

A spiritual aspirant advances on the Yoga or Knowledge path in a progressive series of steps called “Stages.”  Ancient seers acknowledged that the true path to liberation lies through only Knowledge-based approach.  A detailed description of the stages in the Knowledge-based practices is available in varAha Upanishad, annapUrna Upanishad, yogavAsishTha and many other scriptures. 

However, Revered Shankara endorsed a synthesis of both Yoga-based and Knowledge-based approaches in yogatArAvaLi.  He did not talk of seven stages of Knowledge-based path as was given in yogavAsishTha and other works.  Though he began with an enumeration of Knowledge-based practices under the title Royal Path (Raja Yoga), he included only four stages of Knowledge-based approach viz. Uplifting the Mind (manonmaNi), Unaffectedness (unmaNi), Null Mind (amanaska) and Deep Sleep with Awareness (yoga nidra) in his discussion.  It is, therefore, instructive to compare and contrast the classification of the stages of the Knowledge-based Path with that of yogatArAvaLi and other works.

Sage Vasishta described seven stages in the Knowledge-based Path in the third Chapter: Creation in yogavAsishTha.  The seven stages are:

I.      Desire for Enlightenment (subhechcha).
II.     Inquiry into Truth (vichAraNa).
III.    Tenuous Mind (tanumAnasa).
IV.    Realization (satvApatti).
V.     Non-attachment (asamsakti).
VI.    Non-perception of Objects (padArdha abhAvana).
VII.   Ineffability (turyaga).

I.     The first stage of Desire for Enlightenment (subhechcha) involves intense desire for  detachment, longing for the company of noble persons etc.

II.    The second stage of Inquiry into Truth (vichAraNa) stands for an investigation of the meaning of scriptural statements after achieving detachment and other related qualities.

III.   The third stage of Tenuous Mind (tanumAnasa) is a reduction in desire to getting involved in   worldly affairs as an upshot of the first two stages.

Stages I to III are usually grouped together in Vedantic lingo as Listening and Reflection (shravaNa - manana).

brihadAranyaka Upanishad was the first to introduce the concepts of Listening, Reflecting and Uninterrupted Contemplation (nididhyAsana).

           i.   Listening does not imply mere auditioning of lectures given by a Guru.  It refers to a mental endeavor of eliminating the apparent (AbhAsa) contradictions in the Upanishadic declarations and to determine with convincing reasoning that all the statements together (uniformly) affirm non-dual Brahman. 

          ii.   Reflection is to dwell constantly on an unbroken stream of thought-waves that “I am the non-dual Brahman.” 

The twin acts of listening and reflection improve clarity in thinking and consequently result in a better appreciation of the meaning of the Upanishadic statements.  That in turn helps in comprehending unambiguously the essence of Brahman which is after all the final objective.  However, one’s intellect does not get unwaveringly established in truth by this process.  That is to say that the essence of truth does not manifest (in one’s mind) like an uninterrupted continuous stream.  Negative thoughts keep emerging and become impediments in having a persistent thought on Brahman because of the erstwhile habits of the mind.  nididhyAsana (uninterrupted contemplative meditation) helps to block the impediments. 

Thus nididhyAsana is an umbrella term for the remaining four stages of the Seven-stage Knowledge-based path. 

IV.    satvApatti is the fourth stage of Knowledge-based path.  satvApatti means to realize the essence of Brahman.  We have already said that such thoughts come from a constant practice of shravaNa and manana.

The practitioner who reaches this stage is called “Knower of Brahman (brahmavit).”   In spite of reaching this level and achieving an understanding that “I am Brahman”, the seeker needs to be on a constant vigil to retain that thought without break.   Otherwise there is a danger that the feeling of identification with Brahman will be destroyed by the overwhelming effects of the impressions from past births.  The 20th verse in yogatArAvaLi makes a reference to this state.

V.     It is advised in the above verse that intentions should be totally hacked.  It means that identification with body, senses and ego that existed so far should be completely eliminated.  The ego will then dissolve and a state of null-mind will be obtained.  Desire for worldly objects will vanish in that state. A longing for the Potent-Looker (Drik) gets strengthened.  The 15th verse in yogatArAvaLi explains what is meant by Potent-Looker. 

With the mind focused on Potent-Looker, the feeling, “I am Brahman,” steadily increases.  Hence this stage is named as “Non-attachment (asamsakti).”  This is the fifth stage of the Knowledge-based Path.  The seeker who reaches this stage is christened as ‘Better Knower of Brahman’ (brahmavidvara).  The state of such a yogi is described in yogatArAvaLi in the following manner.

A seeker may achieve the meditative state of feeling “I am Brahman” through constant contemplation on Brahman.   But sometimes impressions of objective world (i.e. impressions from past births related to worldly objects) gain strength and overtake that feeling.  As a result the seeker loses that meditative state.  He will not, however, be tempted by the worldly objects because of the fact that he is already established in detachment.  Hence he regains his former state of meditation through contemplation helped by the strength of his disinterest in worldly things.

VI.   There could be many ways through which an emaciation of longing for worldly objects takes place.  For example, a reduced attraction for worldly objects may apparently result from a hopeful expectation of obtaining an immense treasure called "liberation" as a reward.  Such a decrease in desire linked to rewards does not serve any purpose.  What is important is to develop the knowledge that all visible objects are unreal.  In the light of such a knowledge and with the strength of constant contemplation on Brahman, desire for visible objects would gradually diminish.  Eventually worldly objects will not even be visible to the seeker as the process progresses.  It does not mean that he would grow sightless.  What it means is that even if objects are around and his senses cognize them, his mind will not care for them. 

With decreasing attraction for visible objects, mind gets increasingly focused on Potent-Looker.  Slowly a state will come where only the Potent-Looker manifests.  In other words, a non-dual experiential feeling that “I am Brahman” will unswervingly get established.   It results in a very intense meditative state.  It is called the stage of Non-perception of Objects (padArdha abhAvana).  This is the sixth stage of Knowledge-based Path.  The seeker in this state is termed “Master Knower of Brahman (brahmavid varIyan).”  

The fifth and the sixth stages differ only in the degree of stability though the type of meditative state is same in both the stages.  The meditative state gets easily jolted by the impressions of his own past births in the fifth stage.  The meditative state in the sixth stage, in contrast, is not affected by one’s own past impressions.  Still it is susceptible to be affected by unexpected disasters in the environment (e.g. earth-quakes, floods, tsunami, storms) or by some persons who are determined to disturb the seeker.  No sooner, however, the sixth stage seeker will be able to come back to his meditative state of identity with Brahman without difficulty.

A good example to illustrate the condition of the seeker in the sixth stage is the state of a child in sound sleep.  If the child is woken up by the mother, he may partially open his eyes and respond in some broken dialog and immediately go back to sleep.  The seeker in the sixth stage acts similarly.  Interruption in meditation of a seeker in the sixth stage is, therefore, usually compared to a flash of lightning.  The disturbance comes and goes like a flash.  A Master Knower of Brahman will fall back into his meditation the very next moment if his meditation is disturbed by others.  This stage is described in yogatArAvaLi as Uninert sleep or Deep Sleep with Awareness (ajAdya nidra).  

VII.   When the sixth stage is firmly established, it gets transformed automatically to the next and final stage, i.e. the seventh stage of the Knowledge-based Path.  Contemplation, Knowledge, Detachment, Association with noble persons, etc. lead finally to this “Ineffable (turyaga) stage.”  The seeker who attains this stage is called Excellent Knower of Brahman (brahmvid variShTha).  

It follows from the analysis presented above that there is no difference between the stages narrated in yogatArAvaLi and other scriptures like yogavAsishTha.  If any difference exists, it is merely in semantics but not in substance.  

The classification into various stages described above helps an aspirant to grade himself/herself on the path of liberation.  An outsider cannot judge the stage a seeker is in.  A seeker has to make an assessment by one's own self.   Table :1 can facilitate such a self-assessment.  Table 2 gives the name by which a seeker is known at each stage.  An ardent seeker should recognize the stage (s)he is in by making an unprejudiced and balanced appraisal of the state of his mind.  He should then strive to make every effort to get firmly established in that stage.  The next stage will then come about by itself automatically.   With the grace of the Supreme (s)he will then experience the infinite beatitude of brahman unceasingly!

Table 1:  Comparison of the stages in Yoga and Knowledge 
                based Approaches:

Stage in the Knowledge-based Path
Stage as per Ashtaanga Yoga (of Patanjali)
Stage as per Yogataaraavali
Promi-nent Characterist-ics
 in  Brief

Desire for Enlightenment
(haTha yoga)

The beginning stage of practice
Inquiry into Truth
Taking shelter under a Guru

Tenuous Mind
Savikalpa Samadhi
Beginning of Control over Mind


Get acquainted with the experiential essence of Self


Expansion of the mind to the Supreme Brahman

Non-perception of Objects
(padArdha abhAvana)
Sasmita Samadhi
Null Mind

Stability in Meditation
Deep Sleep with Awareness
(yoga nidra)

To stay as Brahman
Table 2:  Name of the Seeker at each stage:

Stage I     --    Seeker  (sAdhak)
Stage II    --    Seeker (sAdhak)
Stage III   --    Seeker (sAdhak)
Stage IV   --    Knower of Brahman (brahmavit)
Stage V    --    Better Knower of Brahman  (brahmavid Vara)
Stage VI   --    Master Knower of Brahman  (brahmavid varIyan)
Stage VII  --   Excellent Knower of Brahman  (brahmvid variShTha)


Thursday, October 21, 2010


By DR. VEMURI RAMESAM, published in Acharya J.C. Bose and Ancient Indian Scientific Thought, I-SERVE, Hyderabad, Dec 2008, pp: 76-89.

ABSTRACT: Artificial life-forms were created with less than 400 genes in the laboratory demonstrating that a small number of genes were adequate to support the basic functions of life. Man has about 30,000 genes which is the general order of genes in higher life-forms. These extra genes carry the information required for the survival of the species under ever changing evolutionary pressures. Unlike in the lower organisms, man has a very low ratio of the number of genes expressed in the brain to the number of neuronal connections, leaving a large scope for epigenetic influences to play a significant role in deciding the behavioral response of humans. Ever since man invented group living and cultural practices, the rate of change in the inheritable traits quickened. As genes are relatively slow as replicators, ‘memes’ proved to be faster for replicating the cultural information. However, it appears as though the replication and transmission of information by memes is not under the control of man and memes seem to have developed their own survival tactics of spreading like virus. The pristine and pure mind of man got contaminated over time with enormous memetic information flows, creating a fictitious center of ‘self’ around which the world gets woven as a memeplex.  Ancient Indian scriptures long ago recognized the dangers of the illusory influences on the pristine human mind and described them as ‘maya’. The veiling power and projecting power of ‘maya’ is comparable to the viral-like spread of ‘memes’. The story of Sage Gadhi in Yogavaasishta illustrates the havoc that memes could play on human beings and the importance of transcending the memetic influences. As exhorted by our scriptures, we have to disinfect our brains from memes so that the beatitude of ‘what is’ would reveal itself to us.


We easily become febrile and debilitated with infection when we are exposed to contaminated food or environment. We are more cautious with respect to any infections that may possibly affect heart or brain as they could turn out to be more dangerous to life. But most of us seldom pay heed to the dangers of infections to the mind. Mind being intangible and diaphanous, any talk regarding infection to it rightly demands an explanation.

The English word mind lumps up a number of processes that go on in the brain. Though there is as yet no well accepted definition of mind in Neuroscience, mind is generally taken to be what the brain does – the sum total of the various electrochemical actions that go on in the brain resulting in the subjective sense of experience, termed ‘qualia.’

All our experiences, activities, learned behaviors etc. constantly leave their impressions in the mind. Vedanta very much emphasizes the fact that mind is the storehouse of all our impressions. The impressions so formed could be within our conscious awareness or unknown to us. However, Vedanta does not distinguish the consciously accumulating impressions from those that get unconsciously stored. The stored impressions ultimately go to govern our future attitudes and responses to various situations faced by us in our life.  These concepts are very much in line with modern Neuroscientific findings. Brain is considered to be highly plastic both in terms of regeneration of neurons and synaptic connections that get modified with every new experience. “Nerve cells constantly create new contact points to their neighbouring cells. This is how the basic structure of our brain develops. In adults, new contact makes learning and memory possible. However, not all contact between cells is useful - most of it is dismantled again very quickly.” Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Neurobiology, Germany, have now described the technique with which nerve cells evaluate the quality of a contact using calcium ion signal (Lohmann and Bonhoeffer, 2008).

Many decisions may originate in the same brain regions that receive stimuli relevant to the decision and control the body’s response to it in a relevant manner” without any of our conscious effort. Thus our brain absorbs and responds to several environmental factors by itself without us being consciously aware! Therefore, either from Vedanta viewpoint or from Neuroscientific viewpoint, it is imperative that we should observe scrupulous care to what sort of information our brain is being exposed to and which information is being stored in our brain because this information as impressions would influence our future behavior and response to environmental stimuli.

Some of the classic shortcuts in mind’s repertoire that we find inconvenient in the present day world are: Endowment Effect; Contaminated Belief systems; Familiarity Effect; Focusing Illusion; Confirmation bias; Motivated reasoning in addition to its nature of filling gaps in information to facilitate quick decision making. Present day neuroscientists and psychologists are studying these attributes of our mind and are trying to evolve systems that could compensate for these short-comings so that we could arrive at unbiased truth in scientific research work.

Vedanta particularly laid considerable attention to another of our mind’s trait which may be called ‘Objectification.’ Mind cannot grasp any observation made by the senses unless it positions itself aloof as a distinct observer separate entity from what is observed. This basic lacuna of the mind gives an impression that mind has a separate and individual existence of its own. Vedanta tenaciously made an effort to point out this limitation and strived to transcend it. Religion, however, welcomed and took advantage of another weakness of the mind which is complementary to the quality of individuation. While the tendency to ‘objectify’ can be called as “Reification”, the latter can be termed as “Deification.”

Reification and Deification can be viewed as the fallouts of the universal survival mechanism of ‘fight or flight’ that all living creatures have acquired from the very beginning of evolution of life on earth.
In the face of a threat or danger, mind has to assess whether the creature can fight it out or should run away from the situation. This assessment does require the perceived thing to be viewed as an object in order to measure the organism’s own ability in controlling the threat.

It is equally true whether the stimulus is external or internal to the body (like feelings, emotions etc.). If the creature is unable to withstand to a threat, the obvious thing to do is to take flight and save its skin. If the creature is so weak-kneed or has developed cold-feet even to run, the best thing for its own safety is to play possum. A more modern and clever way of doing it is to ‘surrender’. Man being so fragile and weak in facing the natural hazards or wild creatures, he began to deify them. So to ‘reify or deify’ is the mantra that our mind has learnt as the modified form of the natural mechanism of ‘fight or flight’ syndrome in the game of survival.

Genes, along with shaping our bodies and coloring our hair, constantly alter our brains by responding to experience (Dobbs, 2007). Man outdoes the animals perhaps in the relative freedom he enjoys in the control of his neuronal connections. Our advantage lies in the very low ratio of genes to the number of neuronal connections. About 70 percent of the human genes are expressed in the brain. As a rough estimate, Linden (2007) says that against 9,000 genes expressed in 302 neurons of the round worm, humans have about 16,000 genes expressed in 100 billion neurons. Even if the human genes are more efficient (i.e. produce more controlling proteins), it is far too small a number to oversee all the neurons and every one of the 5,000 connections each neuron has on an average. This inadequacy of genetic control leaves a large scope for epigenetic (environmental) influences to govern the neural connections. Scanning the human genome, researchers found more than 700 genetic variants that evolution may have favored during the past 10,000 years. As per the findings of Blekhman and others ( 2006), “A lot of the recent changes [could be due to] the advent of agriculture, shifts in diet, new habitats, climatic conditions etc.”

Our mind often forgets things that we need to remember. Strangely it may also show to us experiences which were never gone through previously by us. This is because somebody else’s experience infects our mind and we begin to believe that it was our own experience.  The word ‘meme’ is only about 30 years old in biology. But our sages recognized the havoc memes could play thousands of years ago. Maharshi Vasishta tells in Yogavaasishta the delightful story of how Sage Gadhi was confused and befuddled when his mind was infected by other’s experiences .

Lord Vishnu explained to Gadhi: “You happened to notice a hut put up by a hunter in a hamlet. It made a lasting impression on you. The impression was so strong that that hut of long lost time appeared right before you now. Staring at the hut, you claimed ownership to it. Thoughts and experiences of Katanja invaded your mind. They became your own experiences. You became Katanja. “You thought that your experience in the pond was a fantasy and personal to you. You believed your later experiences to be real. In fact your hallucination, the visit of a sage, your investigations in Keeradesa and the whole gamut of your experiences were one continuous illusion, also witnessed by many others. That’s why the villagers you interrogated could substantiate your experience.  You distinguish reality from dream experience based on two criteria. You think that spacetime configuration in a dream do not correspond to actual space-time in reality. You also feel that what you experience in your dream is unique to yourself and others that appear in your dream cannot have the same experience. Both criteria are not infallible.

“Great Sage! Know the entire world to be no more than a panorama of illusory magic. Purify your mind first to understand this.”

Large groups of memes that are copied and passed on together are called co-adapted meme complexes or Memeplex. “Memeplexes are more evolutionarily successful. These memeplexes may also play a part in the acceptance of new memes which, if they fit with a memeplex, can “piggyback” on that success.” Dr. Blackmore asserts that “all ‘our’ ideas are recombinations and adaptations of other people’s; that all creativity comes from the evolutionary algorithm and not from the magic of human consciousness; and that our inner conscious selves may be memeplexes created by and for the memes.” She argued that, by a process of “memetic drive”, memes changed the environment in which human genes were selected and so drove genes to produce ever larger brains that were better at imitating the currently successful memes. In this way our brains became selective imitation devices, adapted to copying some kinds of memes more easily than others and consequently human beings are no more than Meme Machines!

With ever labile neuronal connections that we have, it is, therefore, very important that we guard ourselves from such environmental factors that can have a deleterious effect on our mind.

We are very careful and conscious about the infections to our body and its organs. However, we are not generally aware of the infections that can afflict our mind. Gaudapada tells us that a pristine and pure mind is the inexpressible, ineffable and infinite ‘All’ that ‘is’ in this creation but we falsely witness it as the world owing to infections (blemishes) we carry in our mind. Brain with its highly labile neuronal connections gives raise to ‘mind’ and it is these changing connections that decide what we perceive and what meaning we give to what is perceived.

Genes are the replicators that carry information pertaining to the structure of our body. Though genes do influence the initial characteristic s of the brain, human beings have a great advantage to alter through epigenetic changes the way the synapses and neuronal connectivity takes place in the brain. This results in altered behavioral patterns. These are imitated and passed on by others. Thus does new information about fortuitous learned technique or skill gets propagated in the society. The replicator for these learned skills, concepts, culture etc.  is called a ‘meme’. ‘Memes’ spread like virus. The human mind unknowingly becomes a virtual carrier for the memes – a meme machine. Consequently, a non-existing memeplex gets mapped into our brains affecting our world vision. We begin to own experiences of others as our own and develop a distorted worldview. The distorted worldview we build is ‘maya’ (illusion) as described by ancient Indian scriptures. The story of Sage Gadhi, narrated in ‘The Calm Down’, the fourth chapter of Yogavaasishta, beautifully illustrates the predicament of getting infected by memes and also shows the way to rid oneself of the infection to be able to enjoy the creation in all its beatitude.

Thursday, September 16, 2010


Recent  Research Papers on Non-Dualism, "self" and Consciousness

Here are either the summaries (as provided by the Authors) or extracts taken from six interesting  published research papers on the topics of Non-Dualism, I-consciousness and Consciousness:

[Comments of Dr. C. Legendy, Dept. of Psychology, Columbia University and author of "Circuits in the Brain", 2009,  ( and Peter F. Dziuban on this Blog Post are given at the end.]

1.  “The Spiritual Brain: Selective Cortical Lesions Modulate Human Self-Transcendence”, by Cosimo Urgesi, Salvatore M. Aglioti, Miran Skrap, and Franco Fabbro, Neuron 65, 309–319, February 11, 2010.

Authors’ SUMMARY:
“The predisposition of human beings toward spiritual feeling, thinking, and behaviors is measured by a supposedly stable personality trait called self-transcendence. Although a few neuroimaging studies suggest that neural activation of a large fronto-parieto-temporal network may underpin a variety of spiritual experiences, information on the causative link between such a network and spirituality is lacking. Combining pre- and post-neurosurgery personality assessment with advanced brain-lesion mapping techniques, we found that selective damage to left and right inferior posterior parietal regions induced a specific increase of self-transcendence. Therefore, modifications of neural activity in temporoparietal areas may induce unusually fast modulations of a stable personality trait related to transcendental self-referential awareness. These results hint at the active, crucial role of left and right parietal systems in determining self-transcendence and cast new light on the neurobiological bases of altered spiritual and religious attitudes and behaviors in neurological and mental disorders.”

2.  “Understanding Consciousness -- A Collaborative Attempt to Elucidate Contemporary Theories”, by A. Pereira Jr., J. C.W. Edwards, D. Lehmann, C.  Nunn, A. Trehub and M.Velmans, Jour of Consciousness Studies, 17, No. 5–6, 2010, pp. 213–19.

Nature Network Groups hosted an invited workshop on ‘Theories of Consciousness’ during the second semester of 2009. There were presentations by each of 15 authors active in the field, followed by debate with other presenters and invitees.

It should be said straight away that there was little general agreement in the workshop about what constituted the main problems, or how to address them.  Explaining consciousness is particularly difficult, it soon became evident, because it involves so many different conceptual and scientific domains. For example, consciousness has both ‘subjective’ (first-person) and ‘objective’ (third-person) aspects. Relating the two aspects poses problems for scientific methodology.

At the quantum level of description, a well known hypothesis states that consciousness is based on coherent states generated in microtubules (Hameroff, 1998). Recently, a new proposal about brain mechanisms supporting conscious processes — the neuro-astroglial calcium wave — has appeared (Pereira and Furlan, 2009; Nunn, 2010).

An intensely debated issue was the identity of the conscious subject. Who is the entity that experiences conscious, cognitive and emotional contents? Is it correct to relate this entity with the psychological ‘Self’? Attempts to answer these intriguing questions include single-cell consciousness, the idea that each neuron is a conscious entity (Edwards, 2005). A possibility implicitly assumed by many neuroscientists is that the Self is a brain network function. For Trehub (2007; 2009) the ‘Core Self’, corresponding to the origin of retinoid space, is an unchanging neuronal entity that anchors an ever-changing ‘Self Model’ (Metzinger, 2003). In cognitive sciences, the default position is that the conscious subject is the living individual (Pereira/Ricke, 2009). Finally, a recent proposal is that the conscious entity is like a traveling ‘pilot’ embodied in the activity of dendritic networks (Hameroff, 2010).

3.  “Me, Myself and I”, By U. Herwig, Scientific American Mind, Jul-Aug 2010, p: 59-63.

Although people change throughout their lives, most hold a steady view of who they are. How does the brain maintain a sense of self?

Mrs. K. is depressed, and Mr. M. is manic—but they both hold highly distorted views of themselves. It is more than just sage advice to “know thyself,” as Heraclitus advocated in the fifth century B.C. A realistic self-image is a hallmark of a healthy mind.

Relationships, careers and happiness suffer when reality doesn’t match who we think we are.
Neuroscientists have long searched for the origins of self in the brain. “I” remains hard to pin down. For one thing, it is the product of a distributed array of brain structures. More confounding, the “I” is a moving target: many factors—from a person’s upbringing to major life events— continually shape the self. This shifting sense of self does not only derive from the narratives we construct to make sense of our lives. It is also biological: experiences generate new brain cells and neural pathways.  Subjectively, we perceive the “I” as an unchanging framework—a steady reference point for ordering our thoughts, emotions and experiences.

4.  “Can science explain the soul?” By Dr. Hameroff and Dr. D. Chopra, SF Gate, 09 Aug 2010 

Now some scientists are willing to venture into the once forbidden territory of the soul, attempting to extract a theory that will allow for its existence. Redefined by the new field of quantum biology, the soul could be the link that connects individuals to the universe, a dynamic connection that could explain how consciousness came about, and why the cosmos itself seems to mirror our own intelligence and creativity.
In 1989, Sir Roger Penrose,  the famed British physicist, mathematician and cosmologist proposed that consciousness involved a specific form of quantum computation in the brain.  The Penrose notion of superpositions as Planck scale separations is very much like the multiple worlds hypothesis. Except rather than branching off new universes, Penrose concluded such separations are unstable, and will undergo quantum state reduction due to an objective threshold inherent in Planck scale geometry (hence objective reduction, 'OR'). Moreover he proposed that the choices of such OR self-collapses are not random, but influenced by what he termed Platonic information embedded in Planck scale geometry. Such information includes mathematical truth, as well as aesthetic and ethical values. Further, each such event, he concluded, is a moment of conscious awareness. Thus Penrose connected consciousness to the most basic level of the universe.

 In the early 1990s Stuart Hameroff, medical doctor, anesthesiologist and microtubule researcher, suggested to Penrose that tubulin components might be his qubits, and microtubules his quantum computer. The two teamed up, with Hameroff showing how synaptic inputs could 'orchestrate' Penrose objective reductions in neuronal microtubules, hence 'orchestrated objective reduction' (Orch OR). They calculated the number of superpositioned tubulins required to reach OR threshold coinciding with physiological brain events such as gamma synchrony EEG, concluding that microtubules in hundreds of thousands of neurons would be required for 40 or more conscious moments, or frames per second. Gamma synchrony (30 to 90 cycles per second, hertz, or Hz) is the best measure of conscious awareness. Interestingly, ancient Buddhist texts also reported 40 or more conscious moments, or frames per second.

Penrose and Hameroff asserted that 'qualia', the components of conscious experience, are fundamental and irreducible components of reality, like electron spin, charge and mass — all derived from the omnipresent matrix of fundamental spacetime geometry at the Planck scale.

Recently two clinical studies used processed EEG brain monitors at the time of death in terminally ill or severely brain-damaged patients from whom support was withdrawn, allowing the patients to die peacefully. In both sets of patients, measurable EEG brain activity dwindled as blood pressure dropped and, eventually the heart stopped beating. But then, in each patient, there was an abrupt burst of brain activity lasting about a minute or more which correlated with gamma synchrony EEG, the most reliable marker of conscious awareness. Then, just as abruptly, the activity ceased.

5.  TSC TUCSON TABLOID, APRIL 13–17, 2010, TUCSON, ARIZONA, JCS Reporter: B. Faw,  Journal of Consciousness Studies, 17, No. 5–6, 2010, pp. 189–212.

Zoran Josipovic gave a fascinating concurrent talk on the ‘Influence of Non-dual Awareness on Anti-Correlated Networks in the Brain’. The extrinisic-oriented Thalamo-Cortical Switch and the intrinsic-oriented Default Mode Network (DMN) are called anti-correlation networks because they tend to be negatively correlated with each other, with switching back and forth between them. Josipovic is trying to discover whether such anti-correlation relationship is an inherent property of brain organization or whether it is subject to cognitive control and learning. If the latter, then the brains of long-term practitioners of focused attention ‘mindfulness’meditation should have strong anti-correlated external/internal brain networks, while practitioners of ‘non-dual awareness’ (open presence) mediation — with cessation of habitual fragmenting of the field of experience into inside vs. outside, self-directed vs. other-related processes — should show less anti-correlation.  Josipovic has found such decreased anti-correlation in non-dual meditators and increased anti-correlation among the focused attention meditators. The non-duality brain is not merely suppressing self-related processing; both self-related and other-related processing are active. This shows a trait effect for open-presence meditation and neural mechanisms for holistic experience.

Jeffery Martin followed with a rather ironic talk on ‘empirically testing purported claims of enlightenment using standard psychological methods and instruments’. For the past few years he has traveled around and given standard tests and surveys to people claiming some types of non-symbolic states. After the batch of tests he interviews folks for 3–5 hours, matching their language to their purported transformation. He has a 300+ database of non-duality awakenings’, with two fifths of them in the US — with 40% of those in California (‘very surprising!’). The ‘purported claim’ refers to people who claim states with ‘no self’ but use ‘I did’ statements as much as anyone; no one at work notices the difference; and they show the same bodily  conditions, anxiety, and racial and gender bias. They claim reduction in thought, but it is not true. They claim lack of agency with no doer, that things pass through with no ‘I’ to catch them, and that their eyes lock onto an attractive person but there is no follow through.

6.    A Holoinformational Model of Consciousness, Francisco Di Biase, Albert Schweitzer University, Switzerland; World Information Distributed University, Belgium; Quantum Biosystems 2009, 3, 207-220 207.

(Dr. F. Di Biase is a Neurosurgeon)

Author’s ABSTRACT:

The author proposes a quantum-informational holographic model of brain-consciousness-universe interactions based in the holonomic neural networks of Karl Pribram, in the holographic quantum theory developed by David Bohm, and in the non-locality property of the quantum field described by Hiroomi Umezawa. I consider this model an extension of the interactive dualism of Sir John Eccles, of an interconnection between brain and spirit by means of quantum microsites named dendrons and psychons. I propose a dynamic concept of consciousness seen as a holoinformational flux interconnecting the holonomic informational quantum brain dynamics, with the quantum informational holographic nature of the universe. This self-organizing flux is generated by the holographic mode of treatment of neuronal information and can be optimized through practices of deep meditation, prayer, and others states of higher consciousness that underlie the coherence of cerebral waves. In brain mapping studies performed during the occurrence of these harmonic states we can see the spectral array of brain waves highly synchronized and perfectly ordered like a unique harmonic wave, as if all frequencies of all neurons from all cerebral centers played the same symphony. This highly coherent brain state generates the non-local holographic informational cortical field of consciousness that interconnect the human brain and the holographic cosmos. The comprehension of this holonomic quantum informational nature of brain-consciousness-universe interconnectedness allows us to solve the old mind-matter cartesian hard problem, unifying science, philosophy, and spiritual traditions in a more transdisciplinary, holistic, integrated paradigm. In this new arrangement cosmovision, consciousness and transpersonal phenomena becomes part of Science and of the very holoinformational nature of the Holographic Conscious Multiverse.


1.  Dr. C. Legendy, Columbia University ( :

"One old argument for the existence of a soul, whose roots in Western thought go back least to Descartes, can be re-phrased in modern terms by making an observation regarding the nature of connectivity between neurons.  The neurons in our brain are not connected in a tree structure, as would be expected if a single neuron played a commanding role; instead, large pools of neurons appear to be at the same decision-making level.  Since the whole network acts together in a purposeful way, there seems to be a need for an independent outside agent to play the role of central commander.   
I recently wrote a book (Circuits in the Brain, Springer, 2009) where I touch on the subject.  Although my book does not comment on the existence or non-existence of a soul, it does outline a way to solve the problem of centralized command without postulating an outside agent.  The discussion is contained in the section I entitled "Firing games: goal-directed behavior without a leader."  
As it happens, it is enough to assume that the network of neurons is capable of a limited number of "operating modes" and that in the different modes separate sets of rules are followed by the neurons.  The modes and the rules, once implemented, can accomplish a feat which may at first glance appear impossible: coordinated goal-directed action in which many neurons participate and in which no neuron plays the role of a leader.  
What makes it possible is that all the interacting cells and localities share the same preprogrammed mode definitions. The shared rules are what lend the overall activity the appearance of coordination. 
The challenge is to invent a method whereby all localities involved in a task, in their own private ways, recognize the global situation as requiring the same mode and make certain that the processing is not disrupted by momentary differences among individual cells during the intervals of transition between modes.  The over-all network design must be robust enough to be free of "race conditions," situations well known in the theory of switching circuits where the overall outcome of a transition is sensitive to the order in which different places reach their transition thresholds.  
I refer to the leaderless multi-mode actions designed along such lines under the heading of  "firing games," to suggest the similarity to some team sports where a team can smoothly fight its way to winning a game without anybody issuing any orders.  (A large portion of my book is devoted to detailed description of certain specific "firing games" involved in the processing of visual images.) 
With greetings, 
Charles,  Sep 19, 2010"

2.  Peter F. Dziuban:

"I was interviewed by Jeffery Martin earlier this year...We did the "in person" interview first, then I took a lot of multiple choice psychological tests online a couple of weeks later.  I mentioned to Jeffery that the questions needed to be re-worked... all the choices for answers implied that I considered myself a separate self, a body.  There were no options to answer from the standpoint of Awareness.
Peter, 22 Sep 2010"

3.  Ramesam:

A poorly written and edited article by Carina Storrs on the research work of Zoran Josipovic was posted on 13 Aug 2009 at:

I commented at the above web site on 14 Aug 2009 that the definition given to Oneness in Advaita as unification of internal and external brain circuits was incorrect. Later in private e-mails to Zoran, it seemed to me that he relied more on meditation oriented non-dual (valid in Buddhist/Visishtadvaita) works rather than pure Advaita.
September 23, 2010 11:02 AM

4.  Also please see the latest research of Prof. O. Blanke: (Comment added on 18 Feb 2011).

"That feeling of being in, and owning, your own body is a fundamental human experience. But where does it originate and how does it come to be? By combining techniques from cognitive science with those of Virtual Reality (VR) and brain imaging, Dr. O. Blanke and his team are narrowing in on the first experimental, data-driven approach to understanding self-consciousness.. Blanke says. 'Our research approaches the self first of all as the way the body is represented in the brain and how this affects the conscious mind. And this concept of the bodily self most likely came before more developed notions of 'I' in the evolutionary development of man'."

5.  Ramesam: (Comment added on 19 May 2011).

Vegetative and minimally conscious states:  "A person in a vegetative state will open their eyes spontaneously and make reflexive movements, but has no cognitive function and likely does not feel pain. Recovery is possible, but the chances of improvement are greatly diminished after a year. Someone in a minimally conscious state, by contrast, has intentional, non-reflexive but inconsistent responses to stimuli. They might
speak a few words or track their image in a mirror, and they feel pain. In minimally conscious and healthy people the frontal cortex would then send a message back to the temporal cortex. The reason for this is uncertain; it may be to let the temporal cortex know what to expect in the future. But for people in a vegetative state, the communication was one-way: signals passed from the temporal to frontal area, but not back."\ 10517

6.  Ramesam:  Signal for Consciousness: Comment Added on 06 Dec 2011:

"Recent research supports the idea that consciousness is a conversation rather than a revelation, with no single brain structure leading the dialogue..Different regions (of the brain) must exchange information before consciousness can arise."

7. Video: Kitra Cahana: 
My father, locked in his body but soaring free: Added on 19 Oct 2014
Sourced from:  Click

Also please see: Consciousness in Coma in this Blog

Thursday, August 19, 2010



[How many of us really seriously care for our dreams? Remember too that almost all of us go through at least 4-5 dreams every night when we go to bed. We look at our wakeful world as the reality and consider a dream to be just that – ephemeral, irrelevant to and unconcerned with our daily life. What happens if you can clearly see that your wakeful world is nothing but an extension of the dream? Will you be any more interested in the awake world or what goes on in it?

Annette Nibley ( is an example for one who lost all interest in the waking-dream of life. She gives no weight to the idle chatter and machinations of the mind – what we call our life. Nevertheless, she is ready to help with True advice if one approaches her. She does not talk to what you think what ‘you’ are, but to that unknown or unknowable ‘inner you.’ She can be brusque and ask you to ‘shut up’ if the dialog goes vain, but next minute she can speak to your ‘heart’ holding your hand and guiding you to ask the real question.

Annette started out as a Christian like most Americans, but became a run-of-the mill New Age seeker in about 1980. It was Nisargadatta Maharaj’s "I AM THAT" that really stopped her quest of nearly 25 years. Seeing John Wheeler validated her understanding and Stephen answered a lot of her subsequent questions over the years. She started a website of her own in 2005 to help fellow seekers. Her writings and advice are always simple, clear, to the point, eruditely expressed and compassionate.

When I requested Annette for a write up for the Blog, she politely stated that she had nothing to write about. When I suggested that she could give a message on Advaita, she said that there could not be a teaching without a ‘question.’ When I asked her to share some details of her own life story, she was extremely reluctant saying that “she was not the point here.” She added: “The person is only the carrier, and its life is just another life.” Here are a few examples of her short crisp write ups gleaned from different sources -- ramesam]

1. The End (2008):

I am no longer burdened with the concerns of the world that you are. I have no connection to that world. I see sights and hear sounds, and all kinds of stuff goes on, but I'm not emotionally attached to any of it. I walk around in your world, but it doesn't touch me.

I still see a framework within which things operate - objects, bodies, actions, relationships - but what happens within that framework is unimportant to me. I have no interest in what happens.

I just live. I get up, do a day's worth of stuff, and then it's time to go to bed. And the next day I do that again.

And what I notice is: there is freedom itself, just being free. There is joy itself, just being joyous. There is life itself, just living. That's all. Not "me" being those things - those things being themselves. Nothing, being nothing.  So how did this happen to me? How did I lose interest in the world? How did I step out of this picture? How do I see only joy, only freedom?

Well, I stopped believing in the unreal. When I got a good look at the intricate fabrication called "me" that I had been taught to build and reinforce for many decades, and found it to be a fabrication, all of the emotional attachment to events and objects and people was rendered irrelevant.

Now, if you think this emotional attachment is what makes us "human," and you like that whole human experience of action and reaction, desire and satisfaction of desire, read no further. The rest of this essay will not interest you.

If, on the other hand, you find "humanness" to be the equivalent of insanity, and seek the eternal peace and love that is promised by every holy man and woman that ever walked the Earth, then maybe you will be interested in what follows.

If what you want is out of this game completely - out of the insanity, off the wheel of human suffering - then direct your attention to one thing only, and that is: Is this - the separate me that seems to be real - real? Am I real?

I don't know what led me to this inquiry inward, to the question of the veracity of the sense of "me." Many things. Reading "I AM THAT" and meeting John Wheeler really began turning my thinking around, but it was just a bunch of coincidences that led me to those things. So who knows? But I do know that the focus was turned inward, to the question of "I" - not a psychological inquiry into what made me tick, or what my obstacles to "awakening" were, but to the question of whether there actually exists an "I" at all.

Up to that point, my search had been a normal one. The first twenty- five years of it were focused outwards, on what could be gotten, by me, for me, to end my pain. I was looking in the wrong place. Looking outward only brings more of the same insanity. Something finally led me to discover the final question: Am I real?

If it is found that "I" am not real, then all of the concerns I have been wanting to be free of apply to no one! This is a radical, drastic ending; it is not a palliative for the old mindset. This is done in private, not in public. This is done alone, not in a group, not even with a guru. This is really a solo flight.

I never did desire enlightenment. I never wanted some kind of blissful state. I had enough "bliss" from all the bad habits I had cultivated to get me through the day. I didn't need another diversion. What I did need was to end the pain of feeling alienated from my own source. It was this pain of feeling cut off that led me on this journey. Millions - billions! - of people never face, feel, or even notice that pain, and are never called to make this drastic move. But when you feel it, it's got to be dealt with. There's no option. Eventually, the pain will be eradicated at the root.  So what is the most noticeable thing about this, in my experience? No thought. There is registering of sensory information, and there is registering of some passing mental activity, but all of it is immediately let go of. Nothing lingers from one moment to the next. Nothing niggles at me, nothing needs to be planned or remembered. My mind is at peace.

This is what I always wanted. I just wanted my mind to be at peace. I wanted to quit wanting. I wanted to quit feeling like more was needed. I wanted to stop. I wanted my mind to stop.

Is this what enlightenment is? I don't know. I know that I'm not looking for anything anymore. I know that my day is filled with ease and flow, and I see softness in the hearts of all people, no matter what they project. I have no concerns and no worries. So whether this is enlightenment or not is of no interest to me.

And in the three years that I've been writing about this experience, the sense of a solid, individual person has been lessening. Now, after three years, there is no more sense of a separate person at all. Learning I was a separate "me" took time; the unlearning of it also took time.

I still function completely normally. You wouldn't know the difference. My closest friends probably notice that I'm not fearful anymore, and I don't try to control things. They probably notice that I rarely go anywhere, that I find pleasure in the simple things, and that my life has become very peaceful. Some of my habits have changed. But my life appears pretty much the same, from the outside.

What now? Can I tell you how to find out that you are not real? At this moment, nothing like that is arising, but perhaps it will. I don't think it's possible to tell another person how to begin or conduct this inquiry. Yours is unique, it is intimate. It is your business. What you need will come to you when you need it.

If I offer a pointer, it assumes that you are "ready" to hear it like I was when I met John Wheeler. Otherwise, you'll just continue the way you are going, and you'll distort my words into something that fits your existing mental view. But just in case you really are done with looking to your mind for solutions, this would be a solid pointer:

Ask, Am I real? Look for no other information. Ask no other questions. Find out if you are real - that's all. If you are not real, then the boundary between you and the source of all life is not really there, is it? If the boundary between you and the source of all life is not really there, then you would notice yourself as the source of all life, wouldn't you?

2. You Don't Need a Suitcase (2009):

I had many misconceptions at one time about what "this" looked like - this freedom, or whatever - and it always looked like something I could imagine or create from the experiences I already had, extrapolating from what I already knew. But this can't be imagined. This is a total surprise.
I always expected more life goodies, like peace, happiness, ease, a fulfilling relationship, perfect health, respect from my peers, and also, I expected that everywhere I laid my eyes there should be some feeling of total bliss - shock and awe every moment for the joyous bounty that is in front of me, if only I could see it without my own limiting selfish mind standing in the way of me and the truth. I would see every cell of life animated before my eyes, because I would not be distracted by petty stuff. How frustrating that I could not see this psychedelic world I surely lived in!

But this was all selfish imaginings. I wanted more for me, spectacle for me, drama for me, peace for me, adoration for me, love in every moment, for me. And this turns out not to have anything to do with me. And the surprising thing is, it's joyous! It's love, it's life, it's freedom, all unfolding naturally in my path - but none of these things is for me. They are there, they have always been there, when I'm not conjuring up a problem; life, love, and joy are there, but they don't need me. And interestingly, the "me" was made entirely of those problems I'd been thinking of. Without calling up a problem, there is no "me," and all that remains is impersonal life, impersonal love, whatever you want to call it. Nothing that "I" want, because if I can imagine it, it's just part of the prison.

So any idea you have of what this is - it is not. It can't be. This can't be something conjured out of your existing memories, which is all you have as a self. So if you go to any idea of what you must have in order to feel like you "have" it, that can't be it. It can't be thought of, it can't be imagined out of what you know. So you can stop trying to second-guess this. This arises only in what is not known. All that is known or imagined, or can possibly be known or imagined, is part of the prison.

All that remains is living, with no problems. Is it really as simple as that? Yes, it is. But is that my living, with no problems? No, it's not mine. When no problems are conjured up to think about, no "me-ness" arises; which tends to reinforce the idea that this livingness is impersonal; and that tends to reinforce the idea that there is nothing to lose, because nothing in the general "livingness" can ever be lost. So the validation starts building on itself, and the problems are conjured up less and less, until they are seen to never have existed at all. So, where was the "me"? Where was it, ever? Did it ever exist?

The point I've been trying to make is: don't be under the misconception that you can set a goal of "having this" and work towards it, by reading, watching videos, going to seminars, or meditating about it. That is just stuff your mind already knows and wants. Prison.

Subtract, and don't add. Don't add another goal, don't add another seminar. Drop one of your suitcases today, and drop another tomorrow, and don't pick anymore up, and see what happens. Drop the suitcase of opinions. Drop the suitcase of "I know I'm right." Drop the suitcase of "It has to be this way or I'll die." Drop the suitcase of "I have to do something to be free." Don't pick up another one.

If you accidentally stumble across a place where you don't know anything at all - your mind is blank and can't find a single thing that means anything - stick around for a while. Feel around, get to know the place. It doesn't mean you've failed, it means you're beginning to let go of your death grip on your suitcases.

Let them all drop. You don't need a suitcase where you're going.

3. Hereness (2009):

This clear space of “hereness”, is it present? You don’t need to ask this, because you know it to be true. It is the one thing you have no doubt about.

Of course, you have plenty of doubts: you doubt whether this non-duality stuff is true, you doubt that you understand what is being pointed to. You have doubts about the possibility of ever ending your seeking. Those things can really agitate the mind sometimes. But not this. This is not even a question. It is simply so obvious and so present that it never occurred to you to doubt it, to not doubt it, or to question it.

This clear space of “hereness” is so obvious that it never even occurred to you to acknowledge it.

4. The New Compassionate Shift (2010):

Yes, there has been a shift in my writing. I was taking a very hard non-dual line in my writing, even calling out Great Freedom for being dualistic, but I found it finally not to resonate completely with me – particularly, with my experience as a human being, which cannot be swept under the carpet, as strict non-duality tries to do.

It’s not that anything I said in my prior response was wrong; it’s that it’s not helpful. And the point here is to be helpful. I realize it was helpful to a degree, to really pinpoint that misidentification with the “small I” and be aware of the misidentification as the cause of all suffering. But when the experience of the life is still unsatisfying, as it unfolds over time, then something else needs to be done. There need not be any dissatisfaction. In fact, we are entitled to deep, abiding love and peace as our moment-to-moment experience, and this is indeed something we learn to deepen more and more over apparent time. So I now agree with you that it is a gradual process, though I may have argued with you about that before.

Non-duality applies to there being no time, no space – nothing but THIS, which is unchanging, undivided, presently eternal. So you can see, then, that THIS does not touch this apparent world of moving parts. Though THIS is what you really are, it does not intersect with the world of apparent objects. So it does not intersect with the experience of a human being, which arises due to false concepts.

So you have this “false” experience of being human, and yet here it is. And you have non-duality, which does not acknowledge the existence of anything false, and does not acknowledge time. So basically, if one insists on a strict non-dual stance, he removes the tool by which he can affect the suffering that is falsely there. That hamstrings us, basically. Even though your human experience is falsely there, it’s still there! And it needs to be addressed.

So what you have been practicing with Great Freedom is good, since it helps you to stay in the “pray without ceasing” injunction of St. Paul, because this “without ceasing” is really the key. The key to what? The key to having your human experience align more and more, over time, with THIS, with God – with the qualities that are unknowable, and yet are what the reality of the human being is, when the conceptual shell of its falsehood is worn away. What are we, anyway? We are nothing but THIS, God, One Power, One Law. So nothing in reality changes; you are always just this ONE. But your experience changes. As you say, it’s a gradual process.

So I am recommending now, when people are dissatisfied, that they seek out other writings and teachings. I don’t think that throwing more non-duality at the problem fixes it, because the fact that one has “an experience” means that the concepts of non-duality are unable to touch you as you are right here in the false, apparent world, and uproot that experience. Non-duality does not uproot or improve anything.

There is no growth or process possible in non-duality. Non-duality is a true assessment of the way things are, but it does not make a bridge from the Absolute to the experience of selfhood, time, and learning. That bridge is to be found elsewhere, in whatever way works for you. The important thing is to be faithful about it and devote yourself to it, and in this way, the abiding peace of God is found within, and it grows as you become more and more attracted to this inner goodness, and less attracted to the phantoms of the outer world.

I am finding a lot of solid, reliable teachings which make this bridge without throwing away the truth of non-duality – which address the need for a process, in the experience, of replacing the consciousness of the individual with the one Christ consciousness – the consciousness which is aligned perfectly with God. Many of the Christian mystics and healers have this message right, and I found that when I went looking for it, there was much support for such a bridge.

Finding this bridge is a personal matter. Whatever you’re led to do – let God lead you. Great Freedom is good, but for me it kind of lacks the juice. The juice is important, but it’s different for everybody. I went back into some traditional Christian stuff, for inspiration, and for that experience the music and rituals evoke of being in the holy presence of God. I’m reading some Catholic and Orthodox saints, the Bible, and Paramahansa Yogananda’s commentaries on Jesus and the Bhagavad Gita. I’ve also found that Joel Goldsmith (The Infinite Way) speaks to me; I had a health issue I wanted to deal with, and Goldsmith addresses healing. I use Stephen Wingate’s site as a guide often – he spends a lot of time checking things out, and always has interesting leads that are reliable. Mostly what I rely on, however, is quiet, solitary contemplation. Lots of it.

Remembering that you are not a separate, individual person – but that you are in actuality THIS – pray without ceasing, with no thought in mind of personal gain, but just for the sake of THIS itself. What else is there?