A Thought Experiment

Note: This experiment was originally published as A Spiritual Exercise on Yeshua21.Com.

The Occipital LobeA Thought Experiment:  Imagine, if you will, your brain setting on the table in front of you, complete with the necessary blood supply, temperature control, and appropriate “wiring” running to your eyeballs (and connected in all respects to the various nervous systems of your body).  Now, ask yourself:  Where is the scene I am contemplating taking place? 

  • Is it taking place wherever you happen to be at the moment–in front of your computer, perhaps, somewhere on planet earth!?
  • Or is it being represented in the occipital lobe of your brain (that very brain which you see spread out on the table in front of you)?

Douglas Harding MapIf the answer is “in your brain” — where, really, is your brain?  And what is the ontological status of the external reality being represented before your very eyes?

But if the answer is, “out here–obviously” — who, really, are you? And how are you observing this spatiotemporal world?

To explore this question further, click on the image, to the left, or simply ask yourself, Who Am I ?

Editor’s Note:  This exercise was inspired, in part, by the video, The secret beyond matter: “The External World” Inside Our Brain (first 20 minutes).  To explore this idea further, from a scientific and philosophical perspective, see  The Primacy of Consciousness, by Peter Russell.   For more direct pointing, from a non-religious, non-sectarian point of view, consider The Headless Way (a method of self-enquiry pioneered by Douglas Harding).  And, if it interests you, you probably should take a peek at  C.S. Lewis’ preface to Douglas Harding’s magnum opus, The Hierarchy of Heaven and Earth:  A New Diagram of Man in the Universe (London, 1952)

See also:  –> Two Arguments Against Physicalism

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