David Chalmers, Susan Blackmore, Stuart Hameroff, Bernard Baars, Marilyn Schlitz, Dick Bierman, Tom Ray, Frank Echenhofer & other innovators answer this
and other fascinating questions...
The Greatest Mystery of All
Nick Day, head of Conscious Pictures and co-producer of The Consciousness Chronicles, is an extremely cool person and a great friend. I wanted to share his mind with you while offering you the opportunity to expand your own. Cheers! ~ Natalie
Why is consciousness your passion?
"Something attracts me to the big, chewy subjects! A few years ago my co-producer Maurizio Benazzo and I made a film about the the Maha Kumbh Mela festival in India, which is the biggest gathering in the history of humanity, with 70 million people attending. Afterwards we started asking ourselves, how on earth do we follow that? Many of the Indian yogis had talked about true reality being a single boundless consciousness, and it's a whole different way of seeing reality from the Western materialist approach where I'm "in here" and everything else is "out there" somewhere. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that consciousness really is the biggest one of all, because no matter which way you approach it, you bump into a major mystery: the notorious mind-body question.
If we take the materialist view, that brain function gives rise to consciousness, then science cannot explain how or why that happens. Conversely, if we accept that consciousness is all there is, an equivalent question arises: how and why would pure consciousness give us an experience of this apparently solid world of physical laws, evolution and mathematics?"
What's the scope and goal of this DVD documentary series?
"The idea of The Consciousness Chronicles is to bring together some of the world's leading consciousness researchers and give them the opportunity to talk about their ideas in depth, and also find out what turns them on about the subject. We have participants from across the spectrum: neuroscientists, philosophers, psychotherapists, quantum physicists, and practitioners working in the field of consciousness transformation using meditation, hypnosis, and psychedelics, including the shamanic medicine ayahuasca. They're a pretty diverse bunch!"
What's in it for your viewers?
"Well, I think most of us are curious about what we really are from time to time, but all too often this curiosity gets overwhelmed by the routines of everyday life. Also, something in our Western culture makes us reluctant to get too self reflective, which is often seen as self indulgence. Which in some ways is tragic, because by taking time to tune into knowing ourselves better, we can attain a far deeper appreciation of the sheer miracle of our existence! So the Chronicles opens a door on where we are as humans and what we are learning about ourselves and the universe we live in. But it's not just about knowledge.
The basic formula is that knowledge, experience and introspection combined together give rise to wisdom, especially when we become conscious of consciousness itself. As I say, it's the big one!"
How has this understanding and experience of consciousness improved your life?
"It operates on many levels. The deeper I go into all this, the more intensely I "feel" my own existence. I get a huge "wow" from something I read about in quantum physics or neuroscience, and that informs my inner experience of life, which in turn fuels curiosity for even deeper knowledge. I should add I also consider myself very lucky because as a filmmaker I get to talk to everyone across the spectrum, from hardcore neuroscientist to mystic. It's a real privilege."
What else do you have on the burner? You mentioned "Mindville" -- can you tell us about it?
"Mindville is a major feature film currently in development (and no, it's not really like farmville - not that I know much about farmville). This is a movie I co-wrote with Stuart Hameroff, who has become quite well known for his controversial theory of quantum consciousness. What we have is the story of two people on a quest for deeper understanding about consciousness, and the fun thing is that they both start out in live action, played by real actors, and then are transformed into animated versions of themselves -- virtual representations if you will --- for the rest of the movie. They go to this amazing mythical place way out in the desert called Mindville, which is a fairground of the imagination dedicated to consciousness.
In Mindville there are many fun attractions for them to visit, such as Plato's Cave, William James' Stream of Consciousness, Schroedinger's Cat, and the Cartesian Theater. Our heroes even take a Ferris wheel ride to the Planck scale - the basement level of the universe - and get to meet Einstein rolling planets around the grid of spacetime. We have a lot of fun with the limitless possibilities of animation and playing with historic figures, but at its heart, it's the hero's journey, it's an existential quest, it's a love story. There's been nothing quite like it so far! Right now we're looking for angel investors, so if your readers know of anyone who might be inspired to help make this dream come true, let us know!"
Nick, Maurizio, Zaya and their luminous team record and produce these exclusive video interviews at their Science & Nonduality Conference & at the Center for Consciousness Studies' Towards a Science of Consciousness Conferences. I'm honored to share life and friendship with them.Be sure to register for their upcoming conferences! Experience a rich sharing of knowledge and insights that will help change your understanding of yourself and the universe. Yours, Natalie Geld
The phenomenon of consciousness is fundamental to our existence, yet it remains the most profound mystery we can imagine. Down through the ages, generations of scientists, philosophers, mystics and poets have gone in search for a deeper understanding of consciousness and the true nature of reality, whether through scientific research, reasoning or introspection. Western biologists and neuroscientists have studied brains down the atomic level, but so far an enduring theory of consciousness that combines the physical with the phenomenological remains tantalizingly elusive.
The ancient Eastern contemplative traditions use the mind as an instrument of exploration, perfecting methods such as meditation that can reveal what has been called our true inner nature. Some theorists speculate that consciousness is a fundamental property of the universe, that consciouness may be all there is, and the mind/matter divide is an illusion - albeit a compelling one - something that Einstein alluded to. It may be that we will never fully comprehend what consciousness is beyond our subjective experience of it. But the quest to know itself remains irresistible to the inquiring human mind!