General Page for Rick Doble's Essays


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Experimental Digital Photography by Rick Doble
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Career Building Through Digital Photography for high school students
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CONSCIOUSNESS:
THE GLORY AND THE CURSE
Knowledge, awareness and human understanding and perception By Rick Doble

While modern science has traced existence back to a split second after the big bang that started the universe and all of life, understood the basic vocabulary of life with DNA and is able to crunch all these numbers and make complicated calculations with computers, it does not understand the nature of human consciousness.


Modern science has no doubt uncovered the fundamental laws underlying most of the disciplines of science... Despite some notable exceptions (e.g. determining the nature of consciousness...) the "great ideas" of science, for the most part, have probably been found.

Michio Kaku, Ph. D.
Visions, 1997


How odd that the very thing which gives us these powers to understand is itself not understood.

I have thought about these matters for much of my life and written about them for the last fifteen years. Now a number of things seem clear to me.

At the heart of the human condition is the nature of consciousness. It creates tremendous anxiety by separating us from nature and each other, by making each of us an observer who is aware of his or her individuality and that each of us is alone. At the same time it gives each of us tremendous power to imagine, to plan, to calculate, to organize our lives, to live the way that we live.

Unlike the other animals, within each human is a virtual reality of times past, places we have imagined, read about or seen in movies, and an idea of how our future will be. The reality of consciousness is both a shared set of symbols such as language and a shared sense of the society as well as an individual world that dwells within each of us.


UNDER THE HEADING OF CREATION I FOUND THE FOLLOWING ENTRY

Creation - The question of how the world came to be is as old as the consciousness by means of which man raises himself from his surroundings. So long as the child has not discovered itself, it is at one with its surroundings, yet the first time that it says "I," it has raised itself from its surroundings and discovers its surroundings and itself. The world comes to be when man discovers it; there are creation hymns in which consciousness does not proceed from existence, but rather existence from consciousness (according to H. Adler). Consciousness raises itself from fathomless unconsciousness, yet the unconscious existed at the beginning...

The Continuum Encyclopedia of Symbols
Edited by Udo Becker, 1997


It is now clear to me that the story of Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden and the fall from grace are the story of human consciousness or more simply of a developing awareness. Before the fall humans were one with nature just like the animals. With consciousness came knowledge, and also a separation from the oneness with nature. That is why eating the apple of knowledge caused the fall and the expulsion from Paradise. Consciousness and knowledge by their nature set us apart from nature and even from ourselves.

This burden is so great that many try at times to dissolve the anxiety with alcohol or other drugs. We treasure the moments of togetherness when our individuality and our awareness dissolve for a few moments such as in the act of making love. Many of us experience our most intense pleasure and joy when we feel at one with the world around us.

Consciousness is what sets us apart from the rest of the animal kingdom. And with consciousness comes imagination, symbolic thought, the ability to communicate, the ability to pass knowledge from one generation to another, from authors and thinkers who are long dead to those who are alive. In short, without consciousness there would be no civilization.


In some way creatures like us (and there probably are many more) are the consciousness or the intelligence of the universe. Its almost as if the universe invented a way to know itself.

Alan Dressler
Carnegie Observatories
Universe 2001: Beyond the Millennium, Creation
Science Channel (formerly the Discovery Channel)


So it is a glory. We can imagine that we will be masters of the universe and create space ships that fly to the moon; we can imagine that we will succeed with our wildest ambitions and make plans to bring that about. Or we can image that human kind will die out and that all this struggle has been for naught; we can imagine our own death, which we know for certain will happen. That is the curse.

A major role of any mythology is to explain all of this so that we accept our condition. Mythology and religion also put us in touch with mystery and the infinite, things which are beyond conscious understanding. This is very soothing because we can understand and accept that at the furthest reaches of knowledge there are simply things that we can never know. Once we accept the mystery that is at the core of life, we can relax a bit knowing that there are some things that even human consciousness must accept that is beyond explanation and the restlessness of being.

General Page for Rick Doble's Essays