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An Ode to Consciousness

Alex has a bachelor of science from Towson University and an associate of arts in teaching from Harford Community College.

"Children of the Night" by Alexander James Guckenberger

"Children of the Night" by Alexander James Guckenberger

An Ode to Consciousness

Can we know consciousness, using the tool that is that very consciousness? Consider knowing your physical body. You’d need microscopes, superior smell and hearing, x-ray technology, and lots of time and attention. A lifetime of such observation of the body would only reveal a fraction of the body to the mind. If the body is so difficult to know, how much more consciousness. It is understood intuitively that consciousness is far more complicated than the physiological structures of the human soma. The question is, then, can consciousness be conscious of consciousness? No? Obviously, it would seem. If millions of lifetimes could not gain a glimmer of the soul’s true identity, then how can we confine it to a brain? Some today may say that awareness comes from the brain, the nervous system, or an amalgamation of the entirety of the human body. Cultures in the past may have pointed to the heart, or the feet, or some other area. Yet, it would seem that all of these possibilities are incomplete. The idea that they all may be somewhat right eludes most “educated” people. But, what if there are variables that contribute to that wondrous phenomenon of consciousness that are beyond our ability to sense? Radiation isn’t something we can sense. There could be countless items beyond our ability to grasp with our bodies. Look to the dog’s smell, or the bird’s sight, or the bat’s hearing and you realize how shallow our perceptions really are. What senses could the human being develop over time? Moreover, what if outside factors contribute to consciousness, moment to moment? Dreams are evidence that consciousness seldom, if ever, cares to take breaks. The brain, the heart, the liver… what if consciousness comes from outside of the body? Would it really be that hard to believe? The miracle of consciousness would be so strange if it were confined to a small place between the eyebrows. Yet, it is a strange phenomenon to us, so who knows. That’s the point! We don’t know! Let that gratefully sink in!

Some say that everything is connected with everything else, and that makes everything one. Thus, everything would affect consciousness. Though this is true, I find this image of unity with the whole hallow. I believe there is oneness in the cosmos, but it is so much deeper than just simple connections through reactions. There is a deep intimacy to the oneness of all things, a oneness that science and philosophy must work together to even begin to comprehend.

And, what of separateness? The individual is a fiction made up by the ego. That’s the idea, anyway. We are made up of millions of organisms, countless atoms, different body parts… even separate parts of the brain don’t always communicate. From where is this perceived oneness of the individual? I see division! The myth of the self comes from the pride of a shallow ape. Her attempt at understanding the world is limited. Or, so some believe.

The fact that there is a reality of oneness, and a truth of division, seems paradoxical. Perhaps this is due to the West’s simplified mathematical and grid-like perception of the world around us. The world is not simple, like a triangle. The world is complex and wondrous, like a fiery storm. Consider the following: my up is the down of the person on the opposite side of the globe. Perspective is maybe not everything, but it is more than we give it credit for.

Consciousness is not a simple specimen of our understanding. There are adventurous regions within spectacular caverns of my inner self that extend beyond mere emotions, thoughts, and feelings. It has what cannot be expressed in words alone. That’s what poetry is for – to express with words what cannot be expressed with words. Contradiction! Paradox! No, simple minded mathematician. Truth. The real world. Reality. It’s so much more. The jokester and the philosopher have one thing in common, for sure; that they do not wish to be taken literally. What an insult, to always be taken at face value. How shallow the literalist must be, how sad her life, how empty. I’d write “how empty she must feel”, but whether or not she feels is a subject of debate. Don’t be too serious with everything in life. That is why the jester and the thinker share belly laughs. Some, it would seem, have believed that the Savior laughed at apparent ignorance. The philosopher who frowns, instead of smiles, is arguably more deficient than the rocks at his feet. At least they react when they are struck with a hard object.

I could tell you I have the answers. What I have are questions. You may wish to take those as the gems that they are, or cast these pears by the wayside. Beware of people who are overly certain of everything. The spark and sign of intelligence is not knowing everything, but the curiosity that drives so many mammalian fauna. Keep questioning with the right queries.

© 2022 Alexander James Guckenberger

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