Mainstream biology, by assuming consciousness arises from brain activity implicitly considers all organic beings to be machines – I suspect, however, that very few biologists tell their partners they are merely machines.
The assumption consciousness arises from brain function and depends on a functioning brain is a philosophical act of faith, embraced by denying or explaining away any evidence to the contrary. “Consciousness arises from the brain” is a good enough model for many purposes, including fraud political and social control.
Ouspenky saw people in the street as unconscious, effectively zombies. I think he meant they were trapped by culture and habit, by chains unchosen, failing to realise the key to the lock was in their hand. Consciousness therefore is like Zen enlightenment, a state where you choose your chains and hold the key firmly in your hand
Kurt Vonnegut described a world populated by machines that did not realise they were machines. Modern advertising and political spin doctoring treats people as predictable machines with pressable buttons, a fact that became public knowledge between 2016 and 2020. Religious zealots of all religions, including Christian Televangelists know how to work a crowd to keep the money, power and offers of sex rolling in.
When I hear slogans like “Jesus saves”, “Power to the people” and “The rich are immoral” I try to remember that these people are often unconscious and ask myself what trap is being set for me.
The tale of Jesus before Pilate says to me that Jesus was the only one who was free: those round him were trapped in habit and culture and had no real choice what to do next.
We give up this freedom for a number of reasons, one being fear. I recall the joke about two doctors in an asylum wondering why people surrendered freedom so easily. A nearby patient intervened “Elementary my Dear Doctor, Freedom is dangerous”. When the Doctor said that was a profound remark from a patient the reply was “I'm crazy not stupid”.
Are we just machines, or can we be something more? Are we born as soulless machines and later acquire a consciousness that can survive the death of the host body? Or does consciousness arrive at or soon after birth with the brain a medium by which consciousness becomes more aware of the world and itself?
Ways to Escape
Jung used Alchemical language to describe the process of integrating the separate parts of the psyche as awakening from Unconsciousness. Awakening involves self knowledge gained through dream work, guided visualisations and work on integrating the Shadow, parts of the personality discarded or suppressed as the child becomes socialised. Union of mind and body can be accomplished by Active Imagination or meditation. The third stage will happen when it happens.
Ouspenky used methods bordering on brutality to awaken his students, and pain is indeed a road to enlightenment but not one many would wish to take.
Or you could take the shamanic route. Here the danger is becoming lost, seduced by conversations with your power animals. There are other dangers, for not all the shaman' world is inside us and not all its inhabitants are friendly. But life is full of risks.
To become more than a machine you need to question the consensus reality around you but not dive down a rabbit hole. You need to ba adaptable and not bound by the chains of ego and peer pressure. If you achieve this state fee;ling superior to the trapped machines round you is just falling back into the tentacles of the ego.
But whatever your journey to freedom, take your brain with you and use it.
Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on March 11, 2021: