The Origin of ConsciousnessConsciousness

Can you remember when you first “woke up” into a conscious state? Do you think that there was a precise moment during your childhood development when your mind took shape enough to allow you to be “fully conscious”?  Was the world more of a blur before then? Was there anything before then?

Today I’m going to be talking about Consciousness. What is it? Where is it? Who is it? When is it? And why? I would also like to describe an experience I had three years ago that changed my perspective on everything.

For me, consciousness has always been important when theorising what reality actually represents. Throughout my life I have experienced many things that have shown me that reality, on its surface, is not the full picture of what is. The more I learn about science and spiritual practice, the more I realise that what we interact with on the surface of things is more of an illusion, and that the bigger story of what this is lies under the surface of things. Yesterday I learned that when we see an object with a colour in white light (a banana for example), the colour we see is actually the colour that is reflected off of the object when white light hits it. All other hues are absorbed by the object. It is as if the banana is rejecting the yellow colour then (somewhat ironically) we associate the banana with the colour that it rejects when it hits our retina. See the video here.

Would you eat a blue banana? You probably already have!

In addition to this, beyond the colour or frequency of light waves that our eyes absorb, our brain has to translate these light waves into cognisable information, in order for us to actually perceive anything visually. The eyes don’t really see anything at all – we see with our brain. Look around you for a moment. Look at the entire screen; does the screen seem to be in-focus to you? The reality is, it’s not. The point/area of focus for the human eye is actually very small. Perhaps three or four letters are in focus at one time depending on your font size and your distance from the screen. So the only part of the screen that is actually in focus is a small section in the very centre of where you are “focussing”. The rest of the screen is a blur. Still, you perceive the entire screen to be in-focus because your eye darts around the screen, scanning bits of information, your brain puts it together, then it creates the illusion that the whole area is in focus or focussed. It’s made up! Needless to mention that the image received by your brain is “upside-down“. Your brain has flipped that around too!

The universe just gets more interesting as you go further beyond the assumption of “what you see is what you get”. As with the yellow banana, what you see is sometimes the opposite of what science tells us is actually going on.

You may be asking yourself, what does all this have to do with consciousness? Well it seems to me that reality is the result of consciousness or an expression of it. We all know that we see with our brain, not with our eyes. We also process sound, taste, smell, and touch with our brain. From a scientific point of view, all of the information that we take from reality is processed through our brain before another part of our brain makes a judgement on what to make of it. This is the same brain that tells us that the banana is yellow, and that everyone else sees the exact same coloured banana as we do. There is simply no way to verify that we all see, hear, taste, smell or feel the same things. Who would you ask? What experiment would you do? This Vsauce video talks about our perceptions of colour and also raises more interesting questions about the mind.

So now that I’ve hopefully got you thinking that reality might not necessarily be what you think it is… What is actually going on around us? There is no way to know for sure. Because no matter what scientific experiment you do, your brain will decide for itself how to perceive the results – based on information that it could have just made up. So instead of saying that my brain is perceiving a reality that already existed before I got here, I suggest that my brain is projecting images, sounds etc. outward, creating the world that I now feel as though I am inside of.

So if consciousness is the creator of the reality we perceive, what is behind consciousness? What or who is seeing and experiencing the phenomena of consciousness and so projecting information outwardly to form tangible “things”, concepts, space, time, etc.? Or on the other hand (if you prefer to stick with the assumption that reality got here before you) what or who is perceiving what was already there? Either way, I like to describe this observer as the “oneness”, “the source”, “the universe” or “the substance”. Occasionally I will refer to it as “God”. When I talk about this source, I am talking about the same thing that has stayed with you throughout your entire life. Since you were a baby – your body has changed, your environment has changed, the feelings you have, have changed. Everything is transient – except for one thing. The observer never leaves you. Without an observer, there is no experience. See “A tree falling in the woods“. This well-known phrase sparks many philosophical questions about whether or not reality can exist independent of an observer being present. The popular phrase I think, therefore I am suggested by René Descartes (1596-1650) poses the assertion that; the simple fact of him being able to be aware of his own existence, is proof that he must exist. You can argue any one truth against another but you cannot argue for your non-existence. Perhaps your existence is the only absolute.

Throughout my life I have observed myself, others, and my environment closely to try to understand what this fascinating expression we call “Life” really is. The experience I describe below showed me a new perspective.

To travel to the origin of consciousness

One late evening in mid-2012, I woke to find myself listening to a friend brushing his teeth from across the hall. After some time, I decided to go back to sleep. But before I did, I put my hands on my chest and lay there for a moment – I was very relaxed, but awake. Suddenly, my heart rate began to increase and I started to experience a sudden build up of anxiety – an Anxiety Attack? I had experienced this anxiety several times before but in previous cases, I had shaken from the build up and managed to “come back on top” and regain control of my state of mind. In this particular instance, I decided to let the anxiety build up to see what would happen. Within a few moments the anxiety increased to the point where I felt like my entire body was vibrating. With increasing intensity, my body, the bed, the room, everything around me seemed to be vibrating violently. I became aware of a long, extended, low frequency sound – “OM” – resonating from a distance: this was not your everyday meditation mantra, the frequency was so low that I can’t replicate it with my voice box. I had meditated before but never with such results.

As the sound increased in volume, the anxiety faded and I felt myself lifting up out of my body. I had a sense of my body still lying in bed while simultaneously having a sense of my self floating upward. This is when I entered the void…

My arms were fully outstretched, my skin transparent, my body made of electricity and light. My tendons, capillaries, veins, and nervous system were all visible as different coloured light flowing along distinct lines. This painting by Alex Grey shows something very similar to how I perceived my body in the void. A darkness so dense surrounded me, not black but beyond-black: a featureless place stretching infinitely around me. At the centre of the void is where I was suspended. Energy and light flowed through my fingertips into my chest region while the “OM” sound got louder and more powerful. The vibrations shook through me. With the increasing sound, somehow I felt an ultimate warmth and feeling of safety, benevolence and peace. At that moment, I started to rapidly receive vast amounts of information – through my fingertips and down the channels of light and into my chest. I could feel the experiences of all life flowing through me. Past present and future were happening simultaneously – and not just my past – but every person that ever lived or is to one day live – I was aware of their experiences. I could feel all of their emotions and I was experiencing a kind of feedback loop. The intensity was extreme to say the least.

This may sound a little weird but in that moment, God, The Universe, everything that is, was, and will be – and myself, were one. I was at the seat of consciousness – but not only a witness – I was consciousness. We were one thing vibrating waves of our self outward into the void – creating and experiencing all possibility from one singular point. We were the void, We were all life, We were all experience and all time.

The intensity of this experience is practically indescribable but to provide some perspective, it might be useful for you to know that I completed a tandem skydive from 14,000 feet in 2005 which included a one minute free-fall. It was completely amazing! I refer to this skydiving experience as “The second most intense experience I have ever had”. When asked, “what is the MOST intense experience you have ever had?”, I will describe the experience above.

Metaphysical experiences are often difficult to translate into plain English. But a few months after the experience, I was participating in Movember at my workplace with a group of friends to raise money. We were asked to provide an example of something “really cool” that we had done in our lives. To compliment a Mug-shot of my hopefully progressing Mo, I wrote the short poem below:

I have been to the place where consciousness was born,

Showered in the essence of life, in a place without time.

I have been to the place where all things are,

Bathed in omniscient rivers, in a place without I.

A note about the piece at the end. Although it may present an interesting paradox for some, this line describes a place completely free of Ego: “a place without I”.

To date, this poem remains the most accurate description of the most profound experience of my life.

So what does this say for the origin of consciousness? “Consciousness” – what is it and where did it come from? It seems to me that we are stuck in a box that tells us that everything must have a place, a description and a definite starting point. The place I described above was at no one time – but all times. The location of the place itself was kind of nowhere, but at the same time – everywhere. We naturally want to put things into a chronological order and pinpoint an exact location but this isn’t always relevant. We also want to know who or what is responsible for it. Dr. Michael Newton’s book “Journey of Souls” shows case studies of his patients who talk about where they go after death – under hypnosis. They describe the “spirit world” as moving by a different timescale. A “World of Altered Time”. This is a fascinating read and highly recommended.

An extract straight from Google definitions (below) gives a strangely uninspired view on consciousness.




noun: consciousness; plural noun: consciousnesses

  1. 1.

the state of being aware of and responsive to one’s surroundings.

“she failed to regain consciousness and died two days later”

synonyms: awareness, wakefulness, alertness, responsiveness, sentience

“she failed to regain consciousness”

antonyms: unconsciousness
  1. 2.

a person’s awareness or perception of something.

“her acute consciousness of Luke’s presence”

synonyms: awareness of, knowledge of the existence of, alertness to, sensitivity to, realization of, cognizance of, mindfulness of, perception of,apprehension of, recognition of

“her acute consciousness of Luke’s presence”

    • the fact of awareness by the mind of itself and the world.

“consciousness emerges from the operations of the brain”


I tend to think that consciousness is something much more than a bi-product of brain function. For me The Big Bang theory describes the origin of consciousness just as accurately as Genesis 1.2 (The Holy Bible), or Katha Upanishads 1-2-22 (Hindu scripture). To me, these are all just different ways to describe the same thing. In my opinion – consciousness is the mindfulness of an egoless intelligence that gains personality and subjective experience through you and I. In this case, it would appear that perhaps you are not really yourself – you are “The Self”. A lyric from a song I heard a few years back describes the nature of our relevance to the omnipresent substance quite well. “God put a million, million doors in the world for his love to walk through. One of those doors is you!” (Jason Gray – “With Every Act of Love”). I don’t particularly like the song or the artist, but the words were very interesting. A year after hearing this song I was asked during a self-improvement course to answer the following question: “Who are you?” I had some time to prepare my answer. I wrote this down:

I am a window through which the universe expresses itself 

In my About Page, I briefly describe how (I believe) the nature of God has been misinterpreted to imply that we are somehow separated from the source and that God has his own ego independent of us.

So what or who, where, and when is the origin of consciousness? This is something that is very difficult to pin down in one post, but I believe consciousness comes directly from the experience of the original source itself, and what WE experience subjectively is an elegant illusion put in place, in order for the source to forget its omnipresence for a moment and challenge itself. I think the more pertinent question we should be asking about consciousness is “Why?” Why are we conscious? What is the point of all this? I bring you back to my point about “the source forgetting its omnipresence for a moment and challenging itself“. Is it a foreign concept to you that God would be interested in his/her/its own growth or evolution? “God made man in his own image” (Genesis 1:27). The eternal source perhaps has less or different physical challenges to us, but the emotional development of God  – I believe – is no less necessary than yours is. I like to think of God as a child, growing up with us, learning and evolving alongside humanity. Perhaps he is already aware of what he will learn during the process and how long it will take etc. but perhaps he doesn’t know how he will FEEL during the process, and therefore, perhaps he doesn’t know what he will learn about himself as a result of going through the process. Philosophers, religious texts and ancient knowledge often speak about the importance of self-knowledge “Know thyself” – See The Temple of ApolloPlatoUpanishads. I believe that the source is on the same quest for self-knowledge as we are.

Perhaps you are the creator of everything around you. Perhaps you ARE the universe. Perhaps you ARE consciousness. The next time you look into a stranger’s eyes – try to imagine you are looking at yourself for a moment. Imagine you are only seeing an expression of the oneness. Which, at the end of the day, is you.

Well these are my thoughts on the matter. I hope you have enjoyed this post and forgiven any grammatical errors! Perhaps you have even been inspired to think about your own experience more objectively. Check back soon! I would love to hear your comments. Please also like, tweet and share.

As always, enjoy!

And thank you,



  • Anonymous says:

    It is fascinating to think about how our brain perceives the world around us. I agree that the more we learn about consciousness, the more interesting (and weird!) it becomes. Perhaps there will be no ultimate truth, and it may very well be like what Richard Feynman talked about as “layers of an onion” where you reach an understanding at one level, but there’s another, more fundamental layer of understanding beneath. It may have a point source i.e. an ultimate truth. Then again, the layers may just keep on going. Who is to say! Which one is more exciting?!

    • admin says:

      Hi Anonymous, thanks for your comment.
      I find the onion analogy very interesting. If we apply this idea to the process of human kind trying to understand consciousness. It’s kind of like an onion becoming self aware and pealing itself to find the inner layers of itself. (Sounds a bit gross actually) Logic tells us that the onion would eventually remove all of its layers and disappear – could it think itself out of existence by sheer curiosity of thought? Though the fascinating theories of quantum physics tell us that the laws of nature “down there” (where things get really small) break down and a new set of rules are born.

      If anyone is wondering who Richard Feyman is, he made quite a mark on the world of physics and the scientific world in general before he died in 1988.

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