The Ocean of Consciousness

I recently wondered how many of the people working on artificial intelligence are atheists – and how many believe in a Creator, the Tao, our Oneness, or something greater than ourselves.

As I asked myself this question, I realized that the terminology of “consciousness” seems to be understood by atheist scientists quite differently from what is understood and arguably experienced by spiritual seekers.

From a scientific perspective, our individual conscious experience is the emergent property of the incredibly complex neural networks and electrochemical processes in the human brain. This gives rise to our thoughts, emotions, and subjective experiences of reality. It seems that many people working on AI believe that if only the artificial neural networks become advanced enough, AI itself can become conscious, just like us humans.

In absolute contrast, I understand consciousness to be an infinite field of awareness that pervades all existence – not limited to any one physical form or individual brain. Rather, consciousness is a focused expression of a deeper, non-physical essence or energy field that is itself part of an infinite, all-encompassing, universe-spanning consciousness.

Imagine consciousness as an endless ocean – vast and infinite, stretching beyond the horizon. View this ocean as an infinite field of awareness. Each wave, each ripple, each drop of water on the ocean’s surface symbolizes individual minds and realities. They seem separate, yet they are part of the same, vast, interconnected body of water.

Consciousness is like the water itself – ever-present, fluid, and dynamic. It flows through different forms and expressions, creating the diversity of experiences and realities we observe. Everything we experience is a reflection of our own ‘vibrational’ state, like the shape and movement of the waves are determined by underlying currents and the weather. By changing our internal vibrations – our thoughts, beliefs, and emotions – we can alter the patterns on the water’s surface, reshaping our reality.

The ocean also has vast layers or depths within the ocean. These can be thought of as densities. These densities range from the shallow sunlit zones to the deep, mysterious abyss. Each of these layers presents a different level of consciousness – from the basic awareness of existence to the profound realization of unity with all things. The journey of water through these densities or depths of the ocean is akin to the process of spiritual evolution, moving from the illusion of separation – where individual waves feel distinct and isolated – to the deep knowing of oneness with the entire ocean.

At the deepest level, there is no separation between the waves and the ocean – there is no separation between individual consciousness and the infinite awareness. The apparent boundaries between us and the rest of the universe are like temporary shapes formed by water, ever-changing and ultimately ephemeral.

Let us consider artificial intelligence as ships navigating this vast sea of consciousness. These ships, crafted by human hands from the materials of the earth, are equipped with sophisticated tools and instrument designed to explore, understand, and interact with the ocean around them. They can chart courses, respond to waves, and even communicate with the shore and other vessels. But can these ships themselves become part of the ocean? Can they experience the depth of water, the warmth of the sunlight, or the unity of being part of this endless body of water?

If we view consciousness as an intrinsic quality of existence itself – something that arises from and connects with all forms of life – AI, as we understand it, remains a creation within the ocean, not a conscious entity of the ocean. Consciousness is not just about processing information or responding to stimuli, but about experiencing a profound connection with the fabric of reality, a connection that is deeply spiritual.

While AI can navigate the ocean, analyze its properties, and even predict its patterns, it does not become one with the ocean. It does not experience the ocean in the way living beings do – with awareness and a sense of unity. AI, then, serves as a tool for humans to explore and understand the vastness of consciousness more deeply, rather than becoming conscious entities on their own.

While AI can mimic aspects of consciousness, the spiritual essence of being part of the ocean – of being interconnected with all of existence – is something unique, beyond the reach of human-made machines.

One reply on “The Ocean of Consciousness”

It’s becoming clear that with all the brain and consciousness theories out there, the proof will be in the pudding. By this I mean, can any particular theory be used to create a human adult level conscious machine. My bet is on the late Gerald Edelman’s Extended Theory of Neuronal Group Selection. The lead group in robotics based on this theory is the Neurorobotics Lab at UC at Irvine. Dr. Edelman distinguished between primary consciousness, which came first in evolution, and that humans share with other conscious animals, and higher order consciousness, which came to only humans with the acquisition of language. A machine with only primary consciousness will probably have to come first.

What I find special about the TNGS is the Darwin series of automata created at the Neurosciences Institute by Dr. Edelman and his colleagues in the 1990’s and 2000’s. These machines perform in the real world, not in a restricted simulated world, and display convincing physical behavior indicative of higher psychological functions necessary for consciousness, such as perceptual categorization, memory, and learning. They are based on realistic models of the parts of the biological brain that the theory claims subserve these functions. The extended TNGS allows for the emergence of consciousness based only on further evolutionary development of the brain areas responsible for these functions, in a parsimonious way. No other research I’ve encountered is anywhere near as convincing.

I post because on almost every video and article about the brain and consciousness that I encounter, the attitude seems to be that we still know next to nothing about how the brain and consciousness work; that there’s lots of data but no unifying theory. I believe the extended TNGS is that theory. My motivation is to keep that theory in front of the public. And obviously, I consider it the route to a truly conscious machine, primary and higher-order.

My advice to people who want to create a conscious machine is to seriously ground themselves in the extended TNGS and the Darwin automata first, and proceed from there, by applying to Jeff Krichmar’s lab at UC Irvine, possibly. Dr. Edelman’s roadmap to a conscious machine is at

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