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The brain is typically thought of as the center of intelligence, of feelings (qualia), of memory, of process control for conscious and subconscious functions of the body, and of the ego. It is so closely associated with what we call our ‘mind’ that for one sector of humanity, mind is just the brain, and for another, the brain is just a manifestation of the mind. But in either case, we all refer to our deepest and most intimate experiences as the activity of our mind.

In the field of consciousness studies, there is a recognition of, and controversy over, the presence of qualia, which are the felt presence of what we experience — what it is like to be human — but which have no clear purpose, from an evolutionary perspective, nor are they reducible to constituent physical mechanisms.

What this means is that, while we can find physical ‘mechanisms’ in the brain that are associated with activities such as perception — because they are present at the same time as the perceptions and seem to track them — we cannot find the ‘felt presence’ of these perceptions anywhere in the brain, nor is there even an inkling of how such could be concocted out of the raw material of brain structures and their constituent parts.

Indeed, there is a seemingly unanimous verdict in both Modern Science and Philosophy that this is a problem. While in Philosophy there is a long tradition of denying that such content will ever be found in the brain — but that consciousness, and thus qualia, are real nonetheless — in modern science this failure is leading many to opt for various proposed forms of epiphenomenal origins for consciousness.

This means that consciousness is a by-product of the actual physical mechanisms, not the direct result of them. This takes the need to actually find consciousness off the table, so one can go back to just describing what consciousness is like.

The problem with this stance is that we lose what is obvious and gain what is problematic. Einstein understood this generic problem in scientific practice when he described the two ways of developing a theory:

We can distinguish various kinds of theories in physics. Most of them are constructive. They attempt to build up a picture of the more complex phenomena out of the materials of a relatively simple formal scheme from which they start out. Thus the kinetic theory of gases seeks to reduce mechanical, thermal, and diffusional processes to movements of molecules — i.e., to build them up out of the hypothesis of molecular motion. When we say that we have succeeded in understanding a group of natural processes, we invariably mean that a constructive theory has been found which covers the processes in question.
Along with this most important class of theories there exists a second, which I will call “principle-theories.” These employ the analytic, not the synthetic, method. The elements which form their basis and starting-point are not hypothetically constructed, but empirically discovered ones, general characteristics of natural processes, principles that give rise to mathematically formulated criteria which the separate processes or the theoretical representations of them have to satisfy.⁠¹

So the problem with what scientists do when approaching the problem of consciousness is that they are focused on an abstraction taken from lived experience, and finding themselves unable to locate consciousness in the physical world, they go to great lengths to explain the problem away, or just create fanciful ways to undermine the issue.

But as I have previously explained, epiphenomena, by definition, have no responsive effect because they are disconnected from that ‘upon’ which they arise. This means that our visceral judgement of experiences can have no effect on what we ‘choose’ to do — a failure that makes all of these proposals stillborn, since our judgements have a very obvious effect on what we do.

It has become so absurd an issue that the failure to find conscious experiences where they must be in the brain is taken as proof by some that they do not exist at all. Denying it raises the obvious question of what exactly the deniers are so vociferously responding to. But of course, the absence of proof does not prove anything anyway.

In Buddhist philosophy, ‘mind’ and the brain are completely different. In fact, as I have presented earlier in this book, the different meanings of ‘mind’ in the two realms creates an irreconcilable schism between buddhists and scientists. For most buddhists, having a direct insight of the nature of mind is enlightenment. Such a statement is meaningless for most scientists, who search for actual evidence and not some ‘nature’ that creates, or manifests, what is actual — unless it is a ‘force’, ‘field’, or ‘dark’.

One could go further and point out that the ‘natural laws’ of modern science are only necessary because taking mind to be similar to, dependent upon, or an epiphenomenon of, the brain, leaves an explanatory gap that must be filled by the artificial construction of a ‘law’ for every type of habitual responsive activity.

This controversy of what mind is, arises because conscious experience, which we all have everyday of our lives, is hard to deny, but impossible to find. For those not so negatively vehement, the reality of mind — as something other than brain — calls into question the materialist worldview, and its reliance on Mechanism as the constituting explanation for everything.

Having spoken about the Buddhist idea of Great Responsiveness in the “Axiom of Great Responsiveness” article, I now want to show how the Hard Problem of consciousness goes away, as does the need for mind and brain as two distinctly different things, when seen from the perspective of Great Responsiveness.

There is an extremely powerful force that, so far, science has not found a formal explanation to. It is a force that includes and governs all others, and is even behind any phenomenon operating in the universe and has not yet been identified by us. (attributed to Albert Einstein — for which there is no extant evidence — but it rings true on its own, even if he didn’t say it.)

The brain is an analog signal processor.

It creates an analogue of external environmental conditions in neuronal networks that are trained and developed over time and which are representational of types and configurations of sensory data. These representations are of the data, not the phenomena. The presence of activity in these networks is not evidence of a lived experience, it is, rather, evidence of signal processing.²

We have been inculcated with the idea that somehow the brain concocts a lived experience of a phenomenon that is external to us, the five senses loyally providing the data for recreating something happening outside our body into an equivalent phenomenal experience inside.

But this is absurd and magical thinking because there is no answer given to the problem of how we experience that inner representation of the external phenomenon — a question that needs to be answered since moving the phenomenon into the brain merely shuffles around the problem in a way that causes us to lose sight of the issue, like shuffling overturned coconut shells around on a street-hawker’s table does. Nor is there even a glimmer of understanding proffered as to how the senses and the brain encode experiential data, or use that data to recreate a visceral experience in the brain. It is just asserted that it happens.

Awareness of external conditions doesn’t exist.

It’s true that our abstract idea of awareness, called consciousness when it is filled with content, leads to a very hard problem indeed — why is there consciousness at all? But as well, there is the ‘minor’ clerical problem of where to find consciousness, because no matter where it is assumed to be, not a trace of it can be found. The only traces are of sense data arriving in the brain, and the brain responding to that data.

Clearly, senses create neuronal impulses that the brain processes in some way — which specifically means the impulses, upon arriving in the brain, activate particular neurons and subnetworks of neurons at the arrival of certain sense data signals, while in the presence of certain contemporaneous signals from other senses as well as contextual conditions in the brain, analogically turning cascades of neurons on and/or off. But these are still not an experience. Where, for example, does the feeling of it all come in? And if it is asserted that there isn’t any, as some scientists have proclaimed, then where does the meaning — the feeling of negative, positive, or neutral that underlies all lived experience — come in? After all, the felt presence of a ‘negative’ sound might indicate the approach of a deadly predator. Surely, that has evolutionary benefits.

These neuronal activations and deactivations of networks of neurons are the necessary conditions for the arising of experiences in response to these conditions.

As explained in the article, “Why Awareness Will Never Be Found,” we recognize the coherent continuity of our body’s biological activity, and so we recognize that which the body is doing as this activity is spontaneously manifested. But we only ‘consciously’ recognize that which we attend to, thus our focus animadverts our recognition of certain activities.

However, whether we are focused or not, bodily activity is continuously and coherently manifested in response to conditions within our body. Thus, some activities are done without our attention, others are done in response to our attention, and of course, we can attend to some activity that is happening contemporaneously, sometimes with, and other times without, a reaction to our attention.

Each temporal form has its own proper functioning. So each aspect of our body — organs and limbs, subparts of these, and their constituent cells, molecules, atoms, and quanta — are contextual conditions of each formal component, whose functioning is the contextual responsiveness that manifests — the continuity of — coherent activity.

Further to this, we can train our attention to focus on some things that normally we wouldn’t — the heartbeat for example — and stop focusing on other things that we normally would be aware of, such as hearing certain kinds of sounds, like that of a passing train, if we happen to live next to a railway line.

The brain’s function is to analogously create conditions that can be responded to, in order for, for example, perceptual experiences to be manifested.

This function is necessary because each form can only recognize the activity that it comprises — and only as it occurs — and this means that complex forms can recognize the activity of the complex of subforms that each comprises as well. But recognition of the activity of forms external to any particular form, which means that it is not comprised within the form, is impossible. So senses, which react to certain environmental stimuli, in conjunction with the brain which processes the signals produced by the senses, creates a contemporaneous activity within the body — as neuronal activity — which can then be recognized as being indicative of particular kinds of stimuli. This literally brings the external conditions within the formal scope of the body so that the relevant experiences can be manifested.

The brain doesn’t ‘know’ anything.

It is merely the organ-form within the body-form that, in conjunction with sense data and the contemporaneous conditions of the activity that we find evidence of in the brain, creates the necessary conditions for the manifestation of the sensual experience. Mind, which is the name that we have historically chosen to give to the totality of our manifested experiences, as well as to the cause of the same, is instead the responsive naturing of the internal brain activity, and then as well, manifesting the lived experience. The naturing of the internal brain activity is recognized, creating new conditions which are responded to, while at the same time being the lived experience of the — in this case — perceptions. This is the recognition of the activity of the brain and its analogue meaning manifesting experience. It is a learned correspondence between analogue meaning and external phenomena.

Removing part of the capacity of the brain, or senses, whether by injury or illness, cuts off the possibility of continuing the normal experiential manifestation for phenomena normally processed by the affected brain regions.

The Collective Unconscious of Carl Jung is the performative wisdom of Great Responsiveness, among its many depictions in human thought over the millennia.

This wisdom is manifested as the universe of formal order — each form being an ontogenetic fruition of that wisdom.

You can think of this wisdom as the memory of things done, although that is misleading because it implies an entity that is a memory, and that entails an entity that has the memory. Instead, the veridical understanding is that each actualized form is this wisdom in actuality — presenting — but is not an entity because there is no intrinsic self-nature in each thing, and thus, no entities. Great Responsiveness is not a nature. It is an activity, totally perfected in each context.

The recognition of this activity, which I referred to in the previous article using the Latin expression Res Gestae Divi Naturans, or “Things Done by Divine Naturing,” becomes a performative template, or wisdom, for the responsive naturing via repetition — each instance of a form being one repetition. And in the same way we develop a performative ability to do some activity well, perhaps even sublimely, Great Responsiveness develops performative wisdom as forms are actualized.

But be careful here because we understand our development of a performative ability as something we learn over time and then are able to enact. For Great Responsiveness, no such structure exists — or rather, Great Responsiveness is the enacting of a skill in a particular context, and this is exactly what I am describing, so we can’t rely on our naive understanding of how we learn a skill to explain how Great Responsiveness develops wisdom. That would be an ungrounded circular definition.

Instead, each formal actualization creates possibilities that can be repeated when circumstances allow — let’s call it habitual responses to particular contextual conditions — and these possibilities form a kind of path that can be actualized as a novel form when similar conditions arise. Thus, as I keep saying, what is, Res Gestae, creates/opens certain possibilities, including the repetition of forms. And because Great Responsiveness is responsive and not intentional, all forms are the outcome of contextual conditions, which includes our affective recognition of the coherent continuity of what is currently actual, plus a dash of spontaneous creativity based on the collective totality of all that is currently manifested.

So what is — the world as it is — is the manifest wisdom of Great Responsiveness.

What becomes is recognized, and we call that knowledge. The possibilities opened up by knowledge become wisdom when actualized, so wisdom is not something held somewhere in abstraction from what is actual. Great Responsiveness is necessarily nondual, so the recognition of what is done is the recognition of wisdom as an activity — the activity being called Great Responsiveness. Wisdom is not some ancient notebooks filled with arcane script in a dusty warehouse somewhere. Wisdom is Here-Now.

Great Responsiveness requires, by the logical necessity that I described in “Why Awareness Will Never Be Found,” that reality is nondual. This is because ‘Awareness’ and ‘Consciousness’ are artifacts of trying to bridge phenomena and their action, which are rent apart by the separation that is fundamental to duality. Thus, Laws of nature are evidence that the duality of Physicalism is a false understanding that creates both the Hard Problem of Consciousness, and the need for the explanatory entities for the myriad types of ‘physical’ activity. To wit: the cause of the activity must be explained by Laws of Nature, because the need for a cause is an invented problem, as is the Hard Problem of Consciousness.

This is Sciomorphogenesis— knowing through the generation of form.

So the answer to the title’s question is that the brain creates internal analogue representations of sense data — a skill that develops through repetition — which forms the necessary conditions for the manifestation of lived experiences, including the felt presence of those experiences and the positive/negative/neutral feeling of each recognized thing, which clearly has evolutionary benefits for survival.

And as I stated in the previous article on the “Axiom of Great Responsiveness,” all this activity is recognized as it is manifested. This does away with the hard problem of consciousness because there is no abstract ‘consciousness’ to be found anywhere.

ཨེ་མ་ཧོ། ཕན་ནོ་ཕན་ནོ་སྭཱཧཱ།
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Footnotes:

¹ Albert Einstein, “What is the Theory of Relativity?” published in The London Times, November 28, 1919

² “The NICC model posits that the claustrum instantiates cortical networks through synchronization of cortical network nodes in a manner commensurate with the cognitive demand of a given task. This function is achieved in three parts: the claustrum receives frontal cortical task demand information, transforms and amplifies this signal, and finally synchronizes targeted cortical areas to instantiate a cognitive network.” See: “A role for the claustrum in cognitive control,” Maxwell B. Madden, et. al., Trends in Cognitive Sciences, December 2022, Vol. 26, №12, Elsevier Ltd., https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tics.2022.09.006

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