Physics (science in general) understands matter and energy very well. The great stumbling block is knowing of the so-called difficult problem of consciousness. Despite years and years of works, science has not made much progress in knowing it. There is not even agreement on the definition of consciousness. At present, there are at least 40 different definitions of consciousness!
Here perhaps our ancient knowledge seems to be correct. There is a saying in Vedas that consciousness is singular, Hindu scriptures suggest Brahman as a universal cosmic super consciousness – Pragnanam Brahman — Consciousness is Brahman.
The other well-known Vedic sayings show similar concepts about individuals and Brahman.
- Ayam Atma Brahman — This Self (Atman) is Brahman .
- Tat Tvam Asi — That Thou art.
- Aham Brahmasmi– I am Brahman.
- Sarvam Khaluidam Brahman Tajjalān Iti Shānta Upāsita — All this (collectively) is Brahman, indeed: what evolves from That, what dissolves in That, what breathes or functions in That, should be closely and calmly studied.
In a number of shlokas/verses in the Bhagavad Gita, it is mentioned that God (Brahman) is present in every animate and inanimate object. So the source of consciousness believes to be external, yet is experienced as the internal reality. There is a universal cosmic consciousness and we are reflections of it as different faces of a single crystal would reflect multiple images of a single object. This may tell us why consciousness per se is wholly uniform in its nature in spite of the fact that all of our bodies look different, and the contents (Vrittis) in consciousness vary from being to being. Our everyday sense of reality is drawn from our everyday experience which is undoubtedly approximated by classical physics. But fundamental reality has to be quantum.
There are some base models (especially by Hameroff and Penrose which consider processes in neurons in the brain to be quantum mechanical. An amazing point mentioned by these authors is that consciousness may come in a discrete number of flashes. According to them, the best known temporal correlate for consciousness is gamma synchrony EEG, 30 to 90 Hz (cycles/sec). They also mention that Buddhist monks in meditation know about such flashes coming as 40 to 80 times a second! In addition, there is some experimental support for resonant frequencies in neurons.
A number of other authors have tried to get a quantum mechanical model of consciousness without looking at the parts of the brain (e.g. Subhash Kak and collaborators who consider veiled reality and non-locality. Hagelin has introduced a concept of a unified field of consciousness. Such a field of consciousness is also discussed in the paper of Radhe Shyam Kaushal. However, it is not clear if Tononi’s theory is experimentally testable, or even calculable for real-life cases. Thus, almost 100 years of neuroscience research, while producing tremendous knowledge of brain structure and function, has taken us little beyond the correlations discovered between the brain and consciousness in the 1920s. The entire subject is full of controversies and it will be some time before various questions are resolved. It is likely that many questions pursued to link brain and consciousness will eventually resolve by being seen to be wrong questions as new knowledge accumulates giving us insights we cannot now imagine.
Shloka from Brihadaranyaka Upanishad
Om Purnamadah Purnamidam Purnat Purnamudachyate।
Purnasya Purnamadaya Purnamevavashisyate॥
ओम्! वह अनंत है, और यह (ब्रह्मांड) अनंत है। अनंत से अनंत की प्राप्ति होती है। (तब) अनंत (ब्रह्मांड) की अनंतता लेते हुए, वह अनंत के रूप में अकेला रहता है।
Om! That is the whole. This is the whole. From wholeness emerges wholeness. Wholeness coming from wholeness, wholeness still remains.
The central message of Hindu scriptures such as Vedas is that there is a universal cosmic consciousness that was always present or at least it was part of the creation of the universe. Sankhya branch of Hindu philosophy (Dwaita) shows that matter (Prakriti) was also present at the time of origin of the universe and is less fundamental than consciousness (Purusha). “On the other hand, Hindu Advaita philosophy believes that matter and consciousness are same or at least complementary”. As we mentioned above, although some scientists are making serious efforts to understand consciousness from the physics and chemistry of neurons, a successful, complete model has not been given so far. At present, it is hard to conceive how matter can appear from consciousness, although in quantum theory subjectivity and probably consciousness, play a leading role in the description of matter. If there is some way of associating even a small degree of consciousness to fundamental particles, it will be a big step in understanding the role of consciousness and matter in the universe. Right now it appears quite likely that matter and consciousness appeared together in our universe like two sides of a coin from some primordial stuff; you may call it Brahman or God. Similar ideas are expressed by R.L.P. Vimal. He has worked out a detailed model of matter and consciousness as being two complementary states and has suggested fMRI experiments to check the model.