Posts Tagged ‘zen’

Since my last post ….

December 22, 2014

Sorry to readers who have been following my Ten Zen Book Blog, as you can see I have not written on here for a very long time.

I now blog on Psychology Today and recently wrote about a retreat I attended on the topic of the jhanas – a series of eight increasingly absorbed states that are reached through concentration.

You can read about it here:

Chapter 2 What was I conscious of a moment ago ?

January 28, 2009

My first question “Am I conscious now?” was hard enough. The answer seemed easy at first – “yes, yes, of course I’m conscious now.” But gradually that certainty began to shimmer and dissolve as I realised that whenever I asked the question I seemed to be waking up – but from what? Was I unconscious a moment before I asked? Surely not. I must have been conscious of something mustn’t I?

Thus was the question born “What was I conscious of a moment ago?”

Try it for yourself. First ask “Am I conscious now?”, then just glance back and see if you know what you were conscious of a moment ago.

Once you’ve had a few tries – or lots of tries – you can listen to me talking briefly about the question, or read excerpts from Chapter 2 of the book Ten Zen Questions.


Please tell us how you got on.

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.