An Emerging New Model for Consciousness: The Consciousness Field Model

Chapter
Part of the Studies in Neuroscience, Consciousness and Spirituality book series (SNCS, volume 1)

Abstract

A surprising level of agreement about the nature of consciousness emerged at a recent multi-disciplinary “meeting of experts” gathering on Neuroscience, Spirituality and Consciousness in Freiburg Germany, 2008. Contra the reigning hypothesis for consciousness, the epiphenomenal model, this hypothesis suggests: (i) Consciousness is a fundamental element of reality. (ii) Consciousness is mediated by the brain. That is, consciousness takes place with the help of the brain but is not within it. Brains are transducers of consciousness. (iii) Consciousness is independent of the brain. As the field of consciousness is experienced through consciousness-transducing brains, consciousness appears to exist independently, though it remains so far unobservable unless transduced by brains. (iv) The ability to be conscious of a connection with something larger may be the fundamental nature that distinguishes the human being. The ability to sense ‘something larger’ (which cannot itself be observed), a mystical ability, may be the skill distinguishing human beings from other hominids.

References

  1. Aftanas, L. I., & Golocheikine, S. A. (2001). Human anterior and frontal midline theta and lower alpha reflect emotionally positive state and internalized attention: High-resolution EEG investigation of meditation. Neuroscience Letters, 310(1), 57–60.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Almeder, R. (1992). Death and personal survival: The evidence for life after death. Lanham: Littlefield.Google Scholar
  3. Austin, J. (1999). Zen and the brain: Toward an understanding of meditation and consciousness. Cambridge: The MIT Press.Google Scholar
  4. Austin, J. (2006). Zen brain reflections. Cambridge: The MIT Press.Google Scholar
  5. Barendregt, H. (2011). Mindfulness meditation: Deconditioning and changing view. In H. Walach, S. Schmidt, & W.B. Jonas (Eds.), Neuroscience, consciousness and spirituality. New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  6. Beauregard, M. (2011). Neuroscience and spirituality: Findings and consequences. In H. Walach, S. Schmidt, & W.B. Jonas (Eds.), Neuroscience, consciousness and spirituality. New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  7. Begley, S. (2007). Train your mind, change your brain: How a new science reveals our extraordinary potential to transform ourselves. New York: Ballentine Books.Google Scholar
  8. Deikman, A. (1972). Deautomatization and the mystical experience. In C. T. Tart (Ed.), Altered states of consciousness. New York: Anchor/Doubleday. Available at http://www.deikman.com/deautomat.html
  9. Forman, R. (1991). Meister Eckhart: Mystic as theologian. Rockport: Element Books.Google Scholar
  10. Forman, R. (1998). What does mysticism have to tell us about consciousness? Journal of Consciousness Studies, 5(2), 185–201.Google Scholar
  11. Forman, R. (2011). Enlightenment ain’t what it’s cracked up to be: A journey of discovery, snow and jazz in the soul, Washington, DC: O-Books.Google Scholar
  12. Greyson, B. (2003). Incidence and correlates of near death experiences in a cardiac care unit. General Hospital Psychiatry, 24, 269–276.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Hankey, A. (2006). Studies of advanced stages of meditation in the tibetan buddhist and vedic traditions. I: A comparison of general changes. Evidence Based Complimentary and Alternative Medicine, 3(4), 513–521.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Hebert, R., Lehman, D., Tan, G., Travis, F., & Arenandar, A. (2005). Enhanced EEG alpha time-domain phase synchrony during Transcendental Meditation: Implications for cortical implication theory. Signal Processing, 85(11), 2213–2232.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Hinterberger, T., Kohls, N., Kamei, T., & Walach, H. (2011). Neurophysiological correlates to psychological trait variables in experienced meditative practitioners. In H. Walach, S. Schmidt, & W.B. Jonas (Eds.), Neuroscience, consciousness and spirituality. New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  16. James, W. (1902). Varieties of religious experience. New York: Longmans, Green, 1916.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Lancaster, B. L. (2011). The hard problem revisited: From cognitive neuroscience to Kabbalah and back again. In H. Walach, S. Schmidt, & W.B. Jonas (Eds.), Neuroscience, consciousness and spirituality. New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  18. Lutz, A. (2008, July). The relation between mental training/inner transformation in the contemplative traditions and neuroplasticity. Paper presented at the expert meeting Neuroscience, Concisousness and Spirituality, Freiburg, Germany.Google Scholar
  19. Lutz, A., Greischar, L., Rawlings, N., Ricard, M., & Davidson, R. (2004). Long-term meditators self-induce high-amplitude gamma synchrony during mental practice. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 101(46), 16369–16373.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. McMoneagle, J. (1997). Mind Trek: Exploring consciousness, time and space through remote viewing. Charlottesville: Hampton Roads Publishing Co.Google Scholar
  21. Metzinger, T. (2008, July). Science and spirituality: No self, no Soul, no Faith. Paper presented at the expert meeting Neuroscience, Concisousness and Spirituality, Freiburg, Germany.Google Scholar
  22. Orme-Johnson, D. W., & Haynes, C. (1981). EEG phase coherence, pure consciousness, creativity, and Tm—Sidhi experiences. International Journal of Neuroscience, 13(4), 211–217.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Parnia, S., Waller, D. G., Fenwick, P., et al. (2001). A qualitative and quantitative study of the incidence, features and aetiology of near death experience in cardiac arrest survivors. Resuscitation, 48, 149–156.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Radin, D. (1997). The conscious universe: The scientific truth of psychic phenomena. San Francisco: HarperOne.Google Scholar
  25. Rhine, J. B., & Pratt, G. A. (1954). Review of the Pearce-Pratt distance series of Esp tests. Journal of Parapsychology, 18, 165–177.Google Scholar
  26. Römer, H., & Walach, H. (2011). Complementarity of phenomenal and physiological observables: A primer on generalised quantum theory and its scope for neuroscience and consciousness studies. In H. Walach, S. Schmidt, & W.B. Jonas (Eds.), Neuroscience, consciousness and spirituality. New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  27. Rossano, M. (2011). Setting our own terms: How we used ritual to become human. In H. Walach, S. Schmidt, & W.B. Jonas (Eds.), Neuroscience, consciousness and spirituality. New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  28. Russell, R. (2007). The journey of Robert Monroe: From out-of-body explorer to consciousness Pioneer. Charlottesville: Hampton Roads Publishing Co.Google Scholar
  29. Sabom, M. (1998). Light and death: One doctor’s fascinating account of near death experiences. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing.Google Scholar
  30. Sartori, P. (2006). The incidence and phenomenology of near death experiences. Network Review, 90, 23–25.Google Scholar
  31. Schooler, J. A. (2008, July). Cognitive neuroscience view of consciousness and spirituality. Paper presented at the expert meeting Neuroscience, Concisousness and Spirituality, Freiburg, Germany.Google Scholar
  32. Schwartz, S. (2000). The location and reconstruction of a Byzantine structure in Marea, Egypt, including a comparison of electronic remote sensing and remote viewing. http://www.stephanaschwartz.com/PDF/Marea.pdf. Last accessed August 12, 2009
  33. Schwartz, G.E. (2003). The afterlife experiments: Breakthrough scientific evidence of life after life. New York: Atria Books.Google Scholar
  34. Sharif, A., Schooler, J., & Vohs, K. (2008). The hazards of claiming to have solved the problem of free will. In J. Baer, J. Kaufman, & R. Baumeister (Eds.), Are we free? Psychology and free will (pp. 181–204). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  35. Smithies, O. (2005). Many little things: One geneticist’s view of complex diseases. Nature Reviews Genetics, 6, 419–425.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Stace, W. (1987). Mysticism and philosophy. New York: Tarcher.Google Scholar
  37. Tart, C. (2009). The end of materialism: How evidence of the paranormal is bringing science and spirit together. Oakland: Harbinger Books.Google Scholar
  38. Travis, F. T., & Arenander, A. (2006). Cross-sectional and longitudinal study of effects of transcendental meditation practice on frontal power asymmetry and frontal coherence. International Journal of Neuroscience, 116(11), 1519–1538.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. van Lommel, P. (2011). Endless consciousness: A concept based on scientific studies on near death experiences. In H. Walach, S. Schmidt, & W.B. Jonas (Eds.), Neuroscience, consciousness and spirituality. New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  40. Wallace, B. A. (2007). Hidden dimensions: The unification of physics and consciousness (Columbia series in science and religion). New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  41. William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience, New York: Longmans, Green, 1916. Originally published in 1902.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Netherlands 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Jerusalem Institute of Advanced StudiesJerusalemIsrael

Personalised recommendations