The conscious experience
This article is a follow-up to Brain, Science and Consciousness, in which I explore the theme of consciousness from a medical perspective. In particular, I address the different fields of consciousness, their vibratory frequency, as well as the specific activity of the body and the brain that corresponds to them.
The question I now raise is : what brain wave frequencies could have been measured when my consciousness disengaged from my mental (read My story to understand what I mean)? The answer is not evident. All I can say is that if, at the time of the events, I had only had at my disposal the table of fields of consciousness (see below), it would have been quite difficult for me to determine where I was. I would have felt like I was at both ends of the scale at the same time. That is to say : immersed both in a consciousness out of space-time – without being in a coma or experiencing the imminence of my death – but also in mindfulness.
In search of consciousness
Letting go and mindfulness
The characteristics attributed to mindfulness precisely correspond to the sensations that were mine at that time. Indeed, even though I did not feel particularly stressed, my body was, paradoxically, in a state of alert. Besides, I had the strange feeling that I had lived five days in one. As if my brain activity had been much more intense than usual. My memory too : I still remember many details of that improbable day.
However, I cannot say – at least in these terms – whether I have experienced an increase in the production of gamma waves  in my brain. Still, it all seems to have happened as it did. For just as the mental « lets go » when a certain level of meditation is reached, my consciousness has finally become out of sync with my mental. The conditions for the meditative state seemed to be present. Then this suggests that I was bathing in the field of mindfulness.
But I can also position myself at the other end of the scale because I felt a suspension of time. It has given way to the present moment, and thus to an experience of consciousness outside of space and time.
Presence passes through the body
At both ends of the spectrum – waves close to absolute 0 (coma) or gamma waves – we can see that consciousness is expanding. However, in the case of a coma or Near Death Experience, contact with the body is lost. And it can even break if the person dies. Whereas in the second case, the person is totally present in his body.
If I had been unconscious, I might have been able to attest to a state of consciousness, despite the fact that my brain waves would have been close to 0. But I would probably not have touched the presence as I did, since I remained conscious and in contact with my body.
In any case, perhaps the greatest teaching of this table is that it reflects a mental reading of consciousness. Although it has its usefulness, it says nothing about the nature of consciousness. It is simply categorized and implicitly presented as inseparable from mental. Thus, one could think that consciousness progresses or regresses, taking us for example from a state of unconsciousness – coma, or deep sleep – to a state of mindfulness, or vice versa.
When finite meets infinite
In fact, this way of looking at things seems coherent as long as consciousness is synchronized with mental. In fact, since the latter has a linear functioning, it automatically leads consciousness in this way. However, my experience tells a different story : my consciousness has gone out of any linear progression, to fall into an immensely larger space. Somehow, it’s like it’s finding a more natural environment for itself.
To give an analogy, I would say that everything happened as if consciousness were an ocean, and that the point of consciousness that I incarnate in this ocean had crossed the wave barrier, represented by my brain waves. Then, just as the surfer has to cross the wave barrier to reach a quieter water and wait for the wave, my consciousness would have crossed a barrier of increasingly short and fast waves of high frequency. Till I switch to a state of absolute serenity, into presence. Then, I would have been able to let any wave that came along pass without affecting me.
Consciousness and experience of consciousness
Differentials of consciousness, differentials of experience
However, one cannot consider that there is a difference between consciousness and the experience that each one makes of it. Because a difference induces duality. And no duality can have its place within consciousness since consciousness underlies the very experience of consciousness. Consciousness encompasses everything. Thus, rather than duality, we can speak of complementarity of approach. Then the experience induces a differential of consciousness that becomes the condition of possibility of all this questioning.
From this point of view, consciousness only makes sense in experience. On the other hand, from the point of view of presence, the differential induced by experience no longer exists. Then, presence is like consciousness that would not know itself through experience. The philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurti spoke of nothingness, in these terms : « Nothingness cannot act, for everything is included in it » . Only experience allows us to act, through a movement created by differentials of consciousness… and, therefore, of experiences.
To switch into presence is to no longer be in experience as movement. It is to access inner stillness, immobility of thoughts, emotions and feelings. But even this definition is not adequate. And none of them are. Because you can’t say anything about presence that doesn’t instantly get you out of it. However, the only way we can talk about it is through experience. Because the one who speaks is the « I », and the « I » knows only experience.
Consciousness, are you there ?
More pragmatically, we can say that presence is beyond identity. Whereas experience is subjective and made tangible in particular through different « fields ». But to reason as if one is moving from one field of consciousness to another is to ignore the fact that consciousness underlies the reality – or the illusion – of those fields. In fact, the latter only exist in our linear and fragmentary mental. That is why, in my opinion, it would be more accurate to consider that we are accessing different perceptions and experiences of consciousness. Because consciousness is constantly present in the background of our experiences and independent of brain activity. Although the experience we have of it is more or less taken up by mental activity.
Therefore, the question is no longer whether consciousness is there or not, the question is how far brain activity can sustain the illusion that it produces consciousness when it simply allows access to experience and interpretation.
Awareness and consciousness
A subtle fertility
Krishnamurti, like Eckhart Tolle, names the notion of stillness, of presence, using the term « awareness ». Almost inseparable from the term « consciousness », it introduces for English speakers a subtlety not found in the French language when speaking of consciousness. It is all the more relevant to dwell on this subtlety as it offers a good summary of my point.
*** Note : my native language is French, so I don’t know if the following information is relevant or not for the English speaking public ! ***
Pure awareness is stillness, presence. It’s not about experience. However awareness supports the experience of the universe. In other words, it supports movement present everywhere. This is created by a differential of consciousness, a polarization from the conscious to the unconscious. The resulting movement of this polarization, represent the preconditions for the manifestation of consciousness.
Awareness comes with knowledge, the feedback that allows information to reveal itself in the conscious, to move from the unconscious to the conscious . Thus, knowledge creates the potential for access to higher levels of consciousness.
To observe or not to observe ?
That is the question. Consciousness implies an observer , and is relative to each observer. It allows us to interpret the external reality, and to receive the interpretation of all other observers. This is how it progresses from the unconscious to the conscious. When the observer becomes aware, consciousness momentarily extracts it from the experience. But never completely. Because the process of becoming aware is itself an integral part of the experience of the universe. The experience stops only in pure awareness, when consciousness realizes that only awareness exists and the world of thoughts carries no truth in it.
Although the essence of the observer is stillness, presence, or pure awareness, the observer can never be fully conscious of it. The observer cannot be conscious that he is awareness, only awareness is conscious of being awareness. The observer is in a process of becoming aware that only awareness exists. He can only be an observer. And it is only as an observer that he can gradually connect consciously with this intelligence, with awareness.
Dissolve observer identity
But the moment he becomes aware that he is awareness, then he is no longer awareness. « Being awareness » implies that the observer and the observed merge, become one. As soon as there is awareness, the observer detaches from awareness. It is then that consciousness and the observer appear dependently .
The observer cannot fully realize awareness, he can only « become that state ». This implies its complete dissolution, i.e. the complete and total abandonment of itself. When the identity of the observer dissolves into unity, consciousness returns to awareness. It is dissolved and transcended into awareness. Only awareness exists, including the potential of consciousness, which then no longer exists as such.
Notes and references
 Gamma waves are found in every person’s brain, and are the only waves present in all areas of the brain. However, they are only activated when the brain undertakes a lasting and sustained action, such as during an effort of attention or memorization. The more they are activated, the more they make the populations of neurons present in the different cerebral areas interact, finally leading them to have a synchronous activity.
 KRISHNAMURTI Jiddu, Les limites de la pensée, Paris : Le livre de poche, 2006, p.84, free translation
 See the article How do we learn ? on this subject
 Read also the article about the questioning of the observer and the observed in quantum physics.
 For a better understanding of the fact that phenomena appear dependently, you can also consult the article Indeterminism and entanglement.