Consciousness can know only itself. It could not be otherwise! This is because being conscious is a form of resonance. Something inside us resonates with something in the world around us. And resonance is possible only between two things that are basically the same. They are on the same wavelength, if you like. In other words, we are able to be conscious of the world around us only because we are very similar to it. We are essentially microcosms of the Macrocosm. To turn this the other way around, the universe is Man on a gigantic scale!
OK, then. If it is true that consciousness can only know itself, this strongly suggests that the world around us – indeed the whole universe – is consciousness itself. This enables us to define consciousness as “experience, and that which is experienced.” Consciousness is both the observer and the observed.
I have always found this idea very helpful. But of course, it flies in the face of the “science story”, which tells us that the universe is just made of dead, unconscious, meaningless, matter and electromagnetic radiation. Science tells us that everything, including ourselves, is wholly physical. This suggests that, if we want to understand the universe as consciousness, we have to find ways to go beyond the physical.
In my forthcoming book (working title is “Matter and Consciousness”), I describe two road maps to get us beyond the physical. They are Changing Lenses, and Redefining Energy.
Changing Lenses means using forms of perception that do not rely on our five physical senses. The best analogy is changing spectacles. If we wear red glasses, the whole world appears to be red. When we wear blue glasses, the whole world appears to be blue. Similarly, when we use our physical senses to view the world – the normal for most people today – then the world appears to be wholly physical. Modern science is based on using only the physical senses. If we used our non-physical “inner senses”, then the world appears to be non-physical. I go into detail about this in my book.
Redefining Energy takes us to the point where we see energy as “ordered movement”. (In fact, quantum physics basically agrees with this idea). The important point is that there is nothing inherently physical about this. Physicality is very subjective. It all depends on us, and on what we use to perceive the world.
One more thing – consciousness is not passive. At its best, consciousness reaches out and grabs the world! (We do this by paying attention) In other words, it reaches out, and grabs itself!