Posts Tagged ‘science’

March 16, 2010

Here’s a little song (if you can call it that) that sums up how so many scientists can feel awe, delight, and a sense of mystery when contemplating the universe – without any hint of gods, religions, or any other superstitions. I enjoyed it so much that I’ve watched it three times already.

This reaction to the mystery of the universe fits so well with that found in Zen. You don’t go looking for worlds beyond, for strange powers or for any creator behind it all – you just open your eyes and your mind to everything that is here now. Underlying this is the Buddhist conception of dependent arising which basically means that everything that happens is related to everything else, and everything happens because of the causes and conditions that precede it.
As Dawkins says “Matter flows from place to place, and momentarily comes together to be you. Some people find that thought disturbing. I find the reality thrilling.”
So do I.
Please forgive my long silence but I have been over-worked and unwell – very un-Zen. So I am trying to throw off some of the excess work and let myself recover. I hope to get back to this blog in due course.

Chapter 1 – Am I conscious now?

December 18, 2008

Am I conscious now?

This is the first question in the book, and in a way forms the basis for all the others. At first it seems the most obvious thing in the world. Of course I am conscious now. How could I not be?

But on deeper exploration this question yields strange effects.

I first discovered this when teaching “The Psychology of Consciousness” at UWE Bristol (there’s more about this in my book Consciousness: An Introduction).

You might like to try the students’ weekly task, that is, ask yourself the question, as many times a day as you can (preferably hundreds of times) and see what happens.

“Am I conscious now?”

It’s not easy to remember to do it, so you might like to invent tricks to remind yourself. I suggest that you try this for a few days (or at least a few hours if you’re impatient!) before reading the chapter and seeing what I found.

Am I conscious now?


I’m longing to hear what other people find. Do similar things happen to all of us? Does it depend on the sort of person, or how much we’ve meditated or done other things before this? What other questions does it inspire? Do join in with some answers  – or more questions.