Q. Does awareness or consciousness arise in the brain, or is consciousness itself the primary ground of existence?

consciousness brain.jpg

Question: Does ‘awareness’ or ‘consciousness’ have a source, eg. is the actual brain organ the source of all manifestations and sensations? Or is consciousness primary and the ground of existence?

Tom: I don’t know the answer to that question. I only know about ending suffering. When suffering ends, one could say that all there is is consciousness, as this is the undivided experience, but this is only an experiential truth, not a scientific one, and so your actual question remains unanswered.

I wrote an article on this topic while back, feel free to take a look: Is everything really consciousness?


2 thoughts on “Q. Does awareness or consciousness arise in the brain, or is consciousness itself the primary ground of existence?

  1. I think that’s a deeply unsatisfactory answer which echoes the minimalistic early Buddhist view of enlightenment as nothing more than the “end of suffering”. If that’s all there is to it then one should at least be bold enough to declare Advaita/Zen style teachings – or basically anything that speaks of God,”the Self”, consciousness , emptiness etc – as just convenient fiction or even pure nonsense.

    Now there are spiritual writers who come close to saying that. Of the top off my mind I can think of Robert Saltzman as being a good example of someone who speaks of some kind of psychological transformation while dismissing all metaphysical/religious/spiritual implications of “awakening”. Unlike you, however, he does not approvingly quote Ramana Maharishi, Krishnamurti, Shankara, Nisargadatta et al.

    The central question is this : Can you, based on direct experience alone, vouch for the metaphysical claims of these spiritual luminaries? The sense that I get from your writings is that you can’t (and you are welcome to correct me if I am wrong). That being so, how do you explain the certitude with which Ramana and others put forth claims, which while not refutable by science aren’t confirmed by it either? I can think of two possible (and mutually exclusive) explanations. Either this is because these folks lacked the scientific education to think about these issues clearly and mistook their own hallucinations for profound insight, or they spoke from a perspective that you (or Saltzman for that matter) haven’t discovered. In other words,could you be “less enlightened” than you think?




    1. Dear Amit

      Yes, I openly admit all such verbal teachings are provisional. The Advaita texts and Ramana all state that objective knowledge, ie. knowledge in the mind, which includes all metaphysical truths/theories/realisations and teachings, are simply more ignorance. Ramana explains this in his 40 verses on reality. Ashtavakra speaks of this in his Gita. This is also the meaning of ‘use a thorn to remove a thorn then throw them both away’ and when Ramana stated all that is learnt will have to be forgotten. Also the Upanishads state – the highest truth is there is no liberation, no seeker, no creation, etc, etc. If there is no creation, can there be real metaphysical knowledge?

      See here for an example: https://tomdas.com/2017/01/24/ranjit-maharaj-use-a-thorn-to-remove-a-thorn-then-throw-them-both-away/

      It is a fundamental mistake/projection of egotism/ignorance to think that a person such as Ramana, etc, becomes liberated and obtains some kind of special knowledge of reality, see here: https://tomdas.com/2019/05/25/nobody-here-the-jnani-is-not-a-person-ramana-maharshi-quotes/

      There is also a big clue in this post here: https://tomdas.com/2015/06/16/self-realisation-is-non-verbal/

      There are numerous more quotes I could provide to you but I hope the above suffices

      Best wishes



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