tingdzin wrote:Queequeg, in one of your earlier posts, you say, "If you bother to actually look into this subject, they offer some really interesting theories on how consciousness actually works." Did you mean just the Scientific American article, or di you have other stuff in mind as well. If the latter, I'd be interested in some of the stuff you found the most useful (I'm interested in the subject myself).
I did mean other things. Here is a piece from Radiolab that is not relating to the claustrum in particular, but relates some theories about what is happening in the brain under general anesthesia.
In case you can't access it (though I think its worth the time if you can), here's a summary -
They talk about anesthesia as a "black box" meaning they're not really sure how it works. The present a short history of general anesthesia, and then talk to some researchers. A theory they have goes like this:
Different regions of the brain handle different tasks. This much is generally known. What they've found is that there is a central part of the brain - they're not quite sure where - that coordinates "communication" between the central hub and the various parts of the brain. What happens in ordinary conscious state is that there seems to be a wave of electrical impulse that works around the different regions of the brain that, in an orderly way, let a particular part of the brain send and receive messages. Under anesthesia, the wave stops. Its not that the parts of the brain stop functioning, but their communication becomes uncoordinated - the experience of this is that we lose consciousness.
If there is an "awareness" apart from this consciousness, its not in the brain, and as Jesse suggests, it has to be distinct from the physical working of the body.
Assuming this "awareness" is fact, this would suggest that any notion of experiencing this awareness would have nothing to do with the six consciousnesses which seem to be functions of the physical body.
Without a basis in the six senses, I'm not at all sure how this awareness can be explored. If it can be explored through the six senses, its not entirely clear to me that the "awareness" is not some conjuration within the six senses.
I have not quite fleshed the implications of this for my practice yet, but it does tend to lead me to view most practices that are billed as gates to the experience of this deeper awareness are vain. Admittedly, I have been able to refine subjectivity in meditative practice but have not been able to release what I experience as the subtlest sinew of subjectivity.
To sum up, these sorts of studies help me to understand where not to bother looking for insight, but indeed, they don't actually help meditative practice in a positive way.