Touching The Limits Of Knowledge

Topic: What is Consciousness?

by Hannelore Möbius

Meeting Minutes 4/12/98 by Howard Murphy


Procedural Information:

There seems to be some difficulty in getting volunteers to take the notes from the class to prepare them for distribution over the web site.

Substantive Discussion:

The class began with a reading by Hannelore Moebius of her notes. These were distributed as a handout to each member of the class. Dualistic and monistic models of consciousness were identified and briefly described. Several questions concerning consciousness were presented. A Sanskrit symbol of the many states of consciousness was displayed on the blackboard.

The class was invited to participate in a meditation led by Ms. Moebius.

Following the meditation, comments were invited in reaction to the meditation. The discussion focused on the difficulty many class members had in describing what they felt during the meditation. Statements like "Words are unimportant." and "The message came without words." Seemed to be the most common opinions.

Dr. Moebius inquired as to how this experience could be "tested." No one ventured an opinion except to say that there is an inward quality to this experience which makes it difficult for science to test, given the nature of those things which science normally investigates.

One class member said, "I went somewhere in the meditation. I felt myself coming back. Viewed through the eye of the universe. I heard a voice say 'I've always been here with you. I'm with you now. Life is short; make the most of it.' I felt incredible joy. I felt like crying."

Someone inquired into the "yoga of science."

Professor Moebius provided the dualistic nature of light as an analogy to the "yoga of science." He cited the photoelectric effect and interferometry as apparently self-contradictory results of two different methods of inquiry into a single phenomenon.

Professor Brockelman discussed his feelings about the article concerning the attempt to make a machine, which could achieve consciousness.

One class member objected to the notion that the meditative state was somehow a "deeper" state of consciousness and the exclusive means to this state of mind/body. He described a similar feeling when fully engaged in an activity during work or other intensely focused periods.

Ms. Moebius described the "inner connection to self" as simultaneously a connection to the outer self. "Greater concentration is greater awareness," she said.

Professor Brockelman described the divergent points of view of internal and external mystics.

The question was asked as to whether humans could live in a "fully mindful way" twenty-four hours a day. It was not answered.

Ms. Moebius reminded the class that saints withdrew from society for a while to look within and then returned to society later to teach others. She also expressed the opinion that in meditation and life "A positive attitude yields positive results and a negative attitude yields negative results."

Professor Brockelman expressed the opinion that the notion that humans were the only "aware" creatures was "ridiculous." "All creatures are aware." "Consciousness," he said, "starts with experience in the world. From this, other activities are possible, including science."

A class member proposed that one ought to "start with the intersection of two phenomena because there is a limited number of ways to deal with them." He also expressed the opinion that "the intersection of spirit and physical reality is the soul."

Professor Moebius pointed out that this appeared to him to be either interactionalism or neutral monism.

There was a discussion of the sound "OM" or "AUM." This sound, according to Ms. Moebius, is a "powerful healing sound" and "the source of all other sounds." Furthermore, she asserted, certain vowel sounds are "felt in certain parts of the body." Describing the "soundless sound" she called it "experience" and described it as a "vertical buzzing throughout the body."

Professor Brockelman likened the "soundless sound" to the source of a fictional story which "comes out of nowhere." "Consciousness," he said, "comes from nowhere. At times my activity in the world is mindless. At other times, I focus and it comes." (consciousness)

Professor Moebius asked if it were somehow possible to "prove" the appearance of this "heightened consciousness."

Professor Brockelman replied that he believed that it could be displayed, through the arts for example, but not proved.

Ms. Moebius Displayed a book called Quantum Healing and expressed the opinion that "mental forces could heal" by "connecting with a deep inner power to focus on regaining health." Anecdotes by which a number of illnesses were "cured" by these methods were related.

Professor Moebius alluded to studies in which endorphin levels could be raised by concentration.

Another student in the class likened meditation to experiment. "Both experiences," he said. "are setups to encourage learning but are subject to filtration in the process of relation to others.'

When asked to expand upon the physical benefits of yoga, Ms Moebius replied that both the physical and the mental aspects of yoga are indivisible. Both work in synergy. "Through yoga," she said, "experiences grow deeper."

She finished the class by reading two short poems.

Respectfully submitted,

Howard C. Murphy