There’s a guy named Robert Lanza, who is Chief Scientific Officer at Ocata Therapeutics (formerly Advanced Cell Technology), and Adjunct Professor at Wake Forest University School of Medicine, who is supposed to be one of the most respected scientists in the world.
Lanza has a theory called biocentrism. It is not about ethics but rather deals with the idea of a ‘biocentric’ universe. He calls it a “Theory of Everything.” (I thought it was Stephen Hawking who had The Theory of Everything?)
On Lanza’s website, he says,
“According to biocentrism, space and time are simply the tools our mind uses to weave information together into a coherent experience — they are the language of consciousness…”
In other words, the universe could be merely a thought construction. Perhaps consciousness even has a role in the creation of matter. Certainly, Lanza maintains, an understanding of consciousness is crucial to understanding the universe. He’s not the only scientist who is beginning to see things in that way. However, this interesting theory is a bit off topic for this post.
What I find intriguing today is that Lanza (and others) view consciousness as a “linear stream” that does not end at physical death. Death is merely a break in this stream and consciousness goes on.
According to what I’ve read, in Lanza’s theory if the body is the generator of consciousness, then consciousness passes away when the body dies. But if consciousness is received in the same way that a cable box receives satellite signals, that’s a different story – then consciousness would not end with physical death. Apparently, you can understand this easily if you understand about the quantum double slit experiment, which is, frankly, way over my head.
In any case, all this is interesting because it coincides with the Buddhist idea of a continuum of consciousness, and if consciousness moving on after death could be verified in some way, it would be possible to attach some credence to notions such as karma and rebirth
Now, here is what the Dalai Lama had to say on the subject of consciousness at UCLA in 1997 during his teachings on Nagarjuna’s Precious Garland:
“[If] you are able to isolate your mind [from] object oriented activity and insure that there is no thinking about the past or anticipation of the future, by trying to remain in the present, then gradually you are able to sense an absence, an emptiness, and that through persistent practice of meditation, slowly, I feel that you can begin to realize, experientially, what is this consciousness, which is the mere nature of experience and knowing, a form of luminous phenomena.
If you approach in this manner, I feel that there is a tremendous scope for discovery. I feel that at a certain point you will get, through your own experience, a sense of what conscious really is.
According to the Buddhist explanation, consciousness or mind is said to be non-obstructive – there’s no physical properties, there’s no shape, it’s colorless, and it is in the nature of mere experience. And it is the form of knowing and awareness. Also we find in Buddhism that there is an appreciation of the existence of different levels of reality. First of all, in Buddhism, whether or not that object or phenomena exists or not is considered from the point of view of whether the perception of an object or phenomena is a valid experience.
Considering this, it is possible that you can get a glimpse of emptiness, given that consciousness is a phenomena that is dynamic, that is in the form of a process. Consciousness is transient, it goes through various stages of changes and that, in itself, is an indication that it is a product of causes and conditions. In the case of human consciousness, or mind, if we trace the path of causation we find that within the category of causes there are certain types of causes which can be described as material causes or substantial causes which can be described as material causes or substantial causes. It is these factors that actually turn into the phenomena. There are other types of causes which are more corporative or contributing conditions. In terms of consciousness or mind, since it must posses a substantial cause, one could argue that the continuum, in terms of it’s origin, the continuum of the substantial cause must remain. Therefore, the substantial cause of any sense of consciousness must necessarily be consciousness, either in a manifest form or in potential.”