Why some people think consciousness comes from the brain — and why it doesn’t

A child may think that milk comes from a bottle in the fridge or from a rack in the supermarket. We may laugh at such naivete, but some brains today are succumbing to a similar naivete about, curiously, the brain. Because consciousness manifests through the brain, they presume that consciousness originates in the brain.

Undoubtedly, the brain is millions of times more complex than a fridge or a supermarket, or even the most complex computer. The brain’s sheer complexity gives it a certain mystique which can make us believe that it gives rise to consciousness. However, even when functioning in full throttle, the brain does nothing except process electrochemical signals through its various neural networks. Due to its complexity,  it can process those signals super-fast, but they are far different from the various aspects of consciousness — thinking, feeling and willing, for example. To believe that the brain’s complexity produces consciousness is like believing that if someone learns to run faster and faster, they will one day recite Sanskrit poetry fluently. Extraordinary expertise in one area doesn’t automatically equate with ability in other areas. 

To give another example, a CD might play a score from a magnificent orchestra, but that doesn’t mean the CD’s physical structure or digital tracks contain an orchestral band. Similarly, the brain performs phenomenal neurochemical activity, but conscious experience is something different which merely manifests through the brain, as music manifests through the CD. 

Pertinently, the Bhagavad-gita (15.10) states that we need the eyes of knowledge to see how consciousness is separate from the body but is currently entrapped in the body and is acting in various ways through the body, including the brain. Gita wisdom stands ready to provide us those metaphorical eyes of knowledge. 

One-sentence summary:

To equate where consciousness manifests with where it originates is naivete. 

Think it over:

  • Why is it naive to think that consciousness originates from the brain?
  • Why does the brain’s complexity not imply that it produces consciousness?
  • How does the brain manifest, but not generate, consciousness?

 ***

15.10: The foolish cannot understand how a living entity can quit his body, nor can they understand what sort of body he enjoys under the spell of the modes of nature. But one whose eyes are trained in knowledge can see all this.


To know more about this verse, please click on the image

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4 Comments

  1. Brilliant.
    Thank You Prabhuji!

    The brain is the route of consciousness.
    The Soul is the root of consciousness.
    quoting you 🙂

    Haribol

    Post a Reply
    • Apt point; I usually say: the mind is the route of consciousness. Significantly, the point applies to the brain too.

      Post a Reply
      • Agreed yes Prabhuji.

        Haribol.

        Post a Reply

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