The seat of consciousness inside our brain
and its relation to Shrii P.R. Sarkar's microvita cosmology, philosophy and meditation
- Can the "Doer-I" and "Knower-I" faculties be located in the brain?
- "Are we our brain", according Dr. Swaab's hypothesis, or are we more than that?
- What could be the physiological basis of Guru Cakra?
By Pankaj / Frank van den Bovenkamp, July 20, 2014
If that which we call "reality" exists outside ourselves, then the biological body and brain must likewise exist outside ourselves. That means, that the seat of consciousness or "I-feeling" by definition cannot originally or intrinsically be situated inside that same body or brain.
Philosophy has provided essentially dualistic solutions to various creation axioms, which are obviously not very helpful in a practical sense.
A non-dual, and therefore practical approach is that, what we call reality, is a self-sufficient, synchronized, congruent state in and by itself. Feelings of "inside" and "outside" as well as "subjectivity" and "objectivity" are merely emerging effects as a result of egotic identification with the physical body and senses, rather than an intrinsic or necessary aspect of reality itself. Breaking this bondage, specifically through spiritual sadhana, means mental liberation, opening up pathways of seeing reality as it is.
Therefore, in terms of finding the seat of consciousness inside the body and brain, by definition it must fulfill the same requirements of the seat of consciousness in all of creation. There is no fundamental difference. Hence the term "Jiiva", meaning microcosm, is absolutely meaningful. The essence of karmic rebirth is not the biological creation of this or that microcosmic unit per sé, but the very act of association of consciousness with that unit, facilitated by the sum total astrological, societal, family and genetic sphere of influence.
Now, from Yogic traditions we know that consciousness exists in many different planes, related to individual Kosa's. The question of a "seat of consciousness inside the body or brain" is in fact a modern, in some sense technical one. Practically it is a question about the location of waking consciousness, that is, related to the senses and thinking, inside the brain. In other words, it is a limited inquiry, compared to anchient wisdom.
Either way, a non-dual approach to this particular question is, which part or substructure of the brain could be the seat of a self-sufficient, synchronized, congruent state we call reality? What kind of function makes everything come together, acting as if it perfectly contains and reflects the perceived universe as a whole? And, must it necessarily be of unimaginable complexity in order to do so?
Now, Israeli scientists have recently discovered, just by chance, a region in the brain which can function as a literal on-off switch of consciousness. This is the so called "Claustrum". By stimulating, that is practially, knocking out this region with magnetic pulses, they could almost instantaneously switch off the consciousness of a patient. When the external signal was removed, the patient regained consciousness again. Suppressing other regions of the brain results in loss of particular functions, but not in loss of consciousness.
Of course, a "switch" for consciousness is not necessarily a "seat" of consciousness. Awaiting further experimental proof, and especially a worked-out theory, let's just take this specific brain region, the Claustrum, as a metaphor for the seat of consciousness inside the brain. Then the obvious question is, what are the requirements of the Claustrum?
The art of "bringing everything together" can by definition not be based on prior knowlegde, because that would still make it a non-fundamental, and hence not-self-sufficient state. A computer can do that, and the highly refined "biological computer" can probably do it better. In other words, this has nothing to do with consciousness. Hence, the search is for a truly fundamental principle, equal to that of the entire Macrocosmic order.
Such a principle, or universal Faculty, was identified by Shrii P.R. Sarkar. It exists of two parts referred to as "Knower-I" and "Doer-I". The "Knower-I" and "Doer-I" faculties stand on their own, in other words do not depend on external factors to function as the vehicle of consciousness. Combined, they represent the synchronized state of reality beyond all differentiation and specialization. It is nothing but a specific approach to consciousness which, unlike in philosophy, is open to scientific investigation and application.
Hence, following Sarkar, the question to ask is, how the (proverbial) Claustrum could fulfil the functions of "Knower-I" and "Doer-I" in the brain, and could it, at least in theory, be scientifically verifyable?
For this we initially need to apply the underlying concept of "Bhavastha" (Abstract) which was introduced by Sarkar in the context of microvita cosmology. Bhavastha could be seen as the subspace or substratum in which at first the primordial Faculties of "Knower-I" and "Doer-I" emerge. Applied to the brain, it would mean the sum total of all neuronal pulses, yet without considering any coherent thought, etc.. The emerging of self-sufficient, synchronized states within the sheer infinite sea of neuronal noise would account for the primordial "Knower-I" and "Doer-I" faculties of consciousness in the brain. Thus, metaphorically or actually, this could take place in the Claustrum.
The critical point of self-sufficient synchrony means that the seat of consciousness is a not region where everything is literaly wired up with everything (called "convergence" in neuroscience), rather it means the harmonic fusion of the sum total of neuronal activity (most likely meta-information) into a singular state of non-expression. That is rather, two types of singular, non-radiating, non-activated states, one corresponding to the "Knower-I" and another to the "Doer-I". There is no question of any additional "intelligence". Theoretically, this state would be unmeasurable because that, afterall, is the whole point. Practically, due to physiological restraints, signal types could possibly be measured akin to for example synchronized or coherent cardiac signals.
This way, the "Claustrum" could act as a subjective hub of all neuronal activity. Pivoted on the synchronized, non-manifest state of the Claustrum, the symfony of brain waves emerges, accounting for all conscious thought, feeling and sensory awareness.
If indeed a physiological seat of consciousness can be found, this immediately raises the question, whether or not consciousness can control our thinking and acting. According to Dutch neuroscientist Dr. Swaab, the brain decides everything for us, before we are even aware of it. Dr. Swaab was able to prove this with simple, technical laboratory tests. However, real life is not as simple as that. Surely, the way how consciousness could control our life is not a mere technicality. Rather, following the spiritual tradition, it is through Dharma, how consciousness guides or life. That is specifically, Bhagavat Dharma. To be able to locate a physiological site in the brain which is the center of consciousness, and understand its function as a purely subjective one, could be a firm scientific underpinning for a much broader perspective than offered by Dr. Swaab in his technical lab.
In terms of spiritual sadhana, the Claustrum could possibly be associated with Guru Cakra, situated between the Pituitary gland (controlling centre of the mind) and the Pineal gland, the seat of transcendental Consciousness. It would make perfect sense that the "Knower-I" and "Doer-I" faculties function as the interface between transcendental reality and the world of time, place and person.
Location of the Claustrum - coronal and transverse sections. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Claustrum.
Back to microvita.com