The “Beingness” of Consciousness?

Sue DeGregorio-Rosen, Photographer

by Sue DeGregorio-Rosen, RN, CLNC, Contributing Editor, and Nique Pichette, DNP, MSN, RN

Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.
—Philip K. Dick (American Science Fiction writer & novelist)

The word conscious is rooted in the word to know and to be aware. Consciousness is at its core an awareness. An awareness of being……a perception of self and the world around us. And perception is complicated specially in the 21st century and the role of artificial intelligence in daily life.

Our understanding of what is consciousness continues to evolve. Each year science is revealing more as to its nature. Consciousness involves an awareness of that sense of being of which our imaginations is rooted and perception plays a role.

Recent studies as we have shown in these pages of NPJ indicate that our individual human cells have attributes of consciousness. The knowledge of one’s Beingness that arises from physical matter.

Consciousness as awareness stimulates curiosity and our perceptions of what is real.

Albert Einstein once said, “Education is not the learning of facts, but the training of the mind to think.” Thought is an essential ingredient in consciousness. Einstein advocated that education should not be confined to one curriculum, he put forth the proposition that imagination is more important than knowledge and that knowledge is restrictive. 

Yes, we question, we invoke a curiosity in our peers to seek more knowledge. Knowledge is a never-ending spiral of ideas, or an evolution of the mind

In Buddhism, Buddha referred to medicine as an analogy to his Four Noble Truths. An interpretation offered – know the sickness, abandon the cause of the sickness, aspire for a cure, rely on medical treatment, and towards the original – know the suffering, abandon the cause, obtain cessation, and follow the path.

So how does one define science?  Science is based on curiosity, science is questioning the status quo, science is research. Recent dialogue between both Buddhists and scientists have focused mainly on understanding the physical brain.

And herein lies the difference.  Science has barely touched upon understanding what consciousness is. Yet in the year 2024 discussions, citations, articles and even AI appear to be curious, venturing into the renaissance of expanding consciousness.  

There are questions where consciousness comes from? Science writer John Horgan argues, “you can’t explain consciousness by saying it consists of information, because information exists only relative to consciousness.”

Is consciousness perception? Perception is a way that we humans make sense of something, how we perceive something becomes our reality. It is simply how we understand something.  Buddha describes perception as a visual design.  When the sky is blue, so is the ocean……..yet the ocean reflects the color of the sky. It elicits a feeling, and that feeling is followed by perception. Can the use of psychedelics change one’s perception?

The recent interest and use of psychedelics in research bring us back to the interest in describing consciousness.  The hope is that this interest in psychedelics may somehow explain consciousness.  (e.g., the sub-title of Michael Pollan’s bestselling book on psychedelics begins, “What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness…” (Pollan, 2019). 

But how do we explain or research a process of the mind that is based on perception?

Would the common denominator be based on blind faith?  Faith and fear both demand that you believe in something you cannot see……… choose (Bob Proctor).    Perception ……….