Science and Consciousness


Anando suggests neuroscientists to experiment with techniques of meditation in order to understand mind and consciousness.

Van Wedeen - Massachusetts General Hospital - Harvard University Medical School

As science develops more and more sophisticated ways to study the brain, in particular how and why we respond the way we do, it has opened the way for a whole new science – neuroscience. The current ‘hot’ topic of neuroscience, and indeed of philosophy, is to discover the code of consciousness – how the material brain produces our immaterial sense of awareness. Many feel this is something we will never be able to understand, but others are ploughing ahead with research in this field.

Along the way, the new ‘discoveries’ being made are giving a scientific basis to what Osho and other mystics have been saying down the centuries. (see quotes on this subject)

It may hasten their work if the scientists and the philosophers actually experiment with techniques of meditation, to make what Osho describes as the experience that you are not the body and not the mind, but just a witnessing awareness or consciousness. At the least meditation will give them a far better possibility to access and experience the conscious mind, than poking around in someone else’s head.

As Osho says, “All that can be experienced is not necessarily explainable, and all that can be explained is not necessarily experienceable. Mathematics can be explained easily, but there is no corresponding experience. Science can be explained easily, but even the greatest scientist is not transformed by his knowledge.”

Here are three examples which show how science is coming closer and closer to what Osho and other mystics have described from their own experience.

Does Consciousness Continue after Death?

Scientists in the US have started a huge 3-year project to explore the biology behind ‘out-of-body’ experiences. They want to find out exactly what happens in the brain and the consciousness after the body dies (so-called ‘clinical death’). The Human Consciousness Project will examine around 1,500 people all over the world who survived after their hearts stopped functioning.

When the heart stops beating no blood gets to your brain, and after about 10 seconds brain activity ceases. That is normally the official death point. Yet around 10% or 20% of people who are brought back to life from that point, which may be a few minutes or over an hour, report having consciousness. They all report being able to see what is happening after that point, as if they were floating on the ceiling. The scientists want to confirm whether these are real experiences or hallucinations, by cross-checking what the patients’ report that they saw happening from above, with the doctors and nurses who were present. So far, hundreds of cases have been confirmed as accurate, to the amazement of the medical staff.

If the rest of the study continues in the same direction, it will confirm that consciousness continues even when the brain is not functioning. In other words, consciousness is something separate from the physical brain and body.

Dr Sam Parnia, a fellow at New York City’s Weill Cornell Medical Center and one of the world’s leading experts on the scientific study of death, says, “We’re pushing through the boundaries of science here, working against assumptions and perceptions that have been fixed. A lot of people hold this idea that when you die, you die; that’s it. Death is a moment – you know you’re either dead or alive. All these things are not scientifically valid, but they’re social perceptions.

“If you look back at the end of the 19th century, physicists at that time had been working with Newtonian laws of motion, and they really felt they had all the answers to everything that was out there in the universe. When we look at the world around us, Newtonian physics is perfectly sufficient. It explains most things that we deal with. But then it was discovered that actually when you look at motion at really small levels – beyond the level of the atoms – Newton’s laws no longer apply. A new physics was needed, hence, we eventually ended up with quantum physics. It caused a lot of controversy – even Einstein himself didn’t believe in it.

“Now, if you look at the mind, consciousness, and the brain, the assumption that the mind and brain are the same thing is fine for most circumstances, because in 99% of circumstances we can’t separate the mind and brain; they work at the exactly the same time. But then there are certain extreme examples, like when the brain shuts down, that we see that this assumption may no longer seem to hold true. So a new science is needed in the same way that we had to have a new quantum physics.”

This article was first published in the Italian Osho Times.

Anando is as regular contributor

More articles by the same author on Osho News

Quotes by Osho to accompany this article: Experiencing Being out of the Body

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