Consciousness Makes us Great-Two Opinions

This is a monthly column on becoming a great human being and has two opinions on the subject from western and eastern part of the world namely Michael Thallium from Spain and Dr Amit Nagpal from India.

Michael Thallium, Spain

Consciousness... not bad just for a simple word. But what is consciousness? As Daniel Dennet said back in 2003, when he quoted Lee Siegel’s book Net Of Magic, Wonders And Deceptions in India (Lee Siegel is an expert on the street magic in India)

“I’m writing a book on magic,” I explain and I’m asked, “Real magic?” By real magic people mean miracles, thaumaturgical acts and supernatural powers. “No” I answer. “Conjuring tricks, not real magic.” Real magic, in other words, refers to the magic that is not real, while the magic that is real, that can actually be done, is not real magic.

Change the word “magic” for “consciousness” and there you have it. With this metaphor, Daniel Dennet meant that consciousness can be explained, it’s not something magical.


If we look for a definition on dictionaries, we may find something like “state in which one has an immediate perception of his own self and his own environment”. In “Music Makes Us Great” (http://www.michaelthallium.com/en/2011/12/21/la-musica-nos-engrandece/), I mentioned a fantastic book by Antonio Damasio “Self Comes To Mind”. If you really want to know a little bit more about consciousness from the neuroscience point of view, this is an excellent read. Damasio wrote a poem on consciousness which also inspired a piece of music written by Bruce Adolphe and performed by Yo-Yo Ma http://www.michaelthallium.com/en/2011/12/11/cuando-el-yo-importo/. Consciousness is a mental state in which one has a knowledge of his own existence and his own surroundings, in other words, if there is no mind there is no consciousness. And here memory plays a very important role. Can we be conscious without a memory? Well, there is a quite famous case of amnesia. Clive Wearing was an orchestra conductor whose brain was attacked by a virus destroying most of his memory (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vwigmktix2Y). He lives trapped in the present and he is not aware of his surroundings. He is living without a consciousness...

Although we as human beings have a consciousness, we spend most of our time unaware of ourselves and our surroundings. It seems that we live on “autopilot”. Of course, this “autopilot” has many advantages: I cannot think of a life being 100% aware of my breathing, my internal chemical reactions, my heart beating, being aware of the tones of daily information coming through my senses... But this “autopilot” has some disadvantages as well: when we are not conscious about ourselves and our surroundings, we lose an opportunity to develop our greatness.

Over the last two months I have been listening to different binaural recordings for meditation to enhance my consciousness based on the works by Robert Monroe http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LPLwvidLqlA. I cannot say that my life has “fundamentally” changed by doing that and I cannot recommend others to do the same when I did not have any “clear” results. However, as my friend Amit Nagpal wrote once “Meditation is a practice to find perfect peace for those who have already found peace. We tend to have unreasonable expectations from meditation and fail to do the attitudinal shift which is a pre-requisite for meditation.” Meditation will do you no harm!

There is another aspect I would like to mention. So far, I was talking about a personal consciousness but what about a transpersonal consciousness? The Chilean neuroscientist Francisco Valera explained it quite clearly “If everybody would agree that their current reality is a reality, and that what we essentially share is our capacity for constructing a reality, then perhaps we could all agree on a meta-agreement for computing a reality that would mean survival and dignity for everyone on the planet, rather than each group being sold on a particular way of doing things.http://www.michaelthallium.com/en/2011/03/18/francisco-varela-saber-que-saber-hacer/

So, isn’t it great that we have a consciousness to share our greatness globally?
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Brief Profile
Michael Thallium is a Global and Greatness Coach based in Spain. Michael has spent many years of his life traveling around many countries and continents, sailing the seas and flying the skies all over the world. Since 2008 he is dedicated to his passions namely coaching, language & communication and music.
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Dr Amit Nagpal, India

The first question which is likely to come to the reader’s mind is, “Does it mean since we are conscious till we die, so we are great by having a soul or the consciousness of being alive?” No, it is not simple as that.

Deepening (or raising, if you prefer it that way) our consciousness levels makes us great. To start this journey, let us understand the different levels/types of consciousness. Different schools of thought may have differing views on this but the crux is almost similar. Let us take two schools/philosophies which are easy to understand viz. David R. Hawkins (levels of consciousness) and Nichiren Daishonin Buddhism (types of consciousness).

David R. Hawkins in his book Power vs. Force talks of a hierarchy of levels of human consciousness. You can also find out your level of consciousness, based on your current life situation. From low to high, the levels of consciousness are: shame, guilt, apathy, grief, fear, desire, anger, pride, courage, neutrality, willingness, acceptance, reason, love, joy, peace, enlightenment. While we keep shifting from one state to other, usually there’s a predominant state, in which we stay most of the time.

‘Courage’ is the first positive level and if you are reading this post, you must be at least at this level since you are aspiring for personal growth. You become disciplined and start looking for productivity increase when you reach the level of ‘Willingness’. You accept the responsibility of your role in the world when you reach the level of ‘Acceptance’ and awaken to your purpose of life when you reach the level of ‘Love’.

Eckhart Tolle describes the state of ‘Joy’ consciousness in The Power of Now. Just being around people at this level makes you feel ecstatic. The person at this level is guided by synchronicity and intuition. There’s no need for goals/targets and plans — since one is operating at a much higher level. Then there are levels of ‘Peace’ and ‘Enlightenment’ which are reached only by the people like Jesus, Buddha, Krishna, Guru Nanak and Mohammed. For a more detailed description, I suggest you to visit Steve Pavlina’s Blog. Lower consciousness is the root cause of all social problems and higher consciousness is the solution.

Nichiren Daishonin Buddhism (based in Japan and organized under SGI) talks of nine types of consciousness. The first five types of consciousness correspond to the five senses viz sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch. The sixth consciousness integrates the information received from the five senses to make sense of the world. The seventh consciousness enables us to make moral and value judgments and though Shakespeare may have said nothing is good or bad, we still like to decide what is good and bad for us, our families and our society.
The eighth consciousness lies below the level of conscious thought. All the experiences of past and current lifetimes are stored there and this consciousness only provides the framework of our individual existence. It is similar to what we call the sub-conscious mind. Our habits, likes, dislikes, talents, strengths and weaknesses-all arise from the eighth consciousness.

It is the ninth consciousness which lies still deeper and is the essence of life itself. This consciousness is pure life force and hence it helps us to purify all the other consciousness types. This is similar to soul consciousness. By meditation and chanting (or other spiritual practices), we can tap this life-force. Once we are able to tap it, we become more aware as our senses become more perceptive. We develop clearer thinking which improves our decision making.

Then begins the sweet journey of creativity, joy, wisdom, intuition, awareness and in fact a point of ecstasy and oneness, where none of these matter.
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Brief Profile
Dr Amit Nagpal is a Personal Branding Consultant & Global Success Coach. He is based in New Delhi, India and specializes in personal branding with a holistic touch. His philosophy is, "Enlarge as a Human Being, Excel asa Social Media Being and Evolve into a Personal Brand(ed) Being.

(I express my deep gratitude to my mentor Sensei Ikeda & Bharat Soka Gakkai, for the mentorship and inspiration.)

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