There are many things in life that are wondrous mysteries; things that are beyond our ability to understand; things that fill me with awe:
The vastness of space with its trillions of galaxies;
The beginning of the universe;
The beginning of life on this planet;
The evolution of life to create this wondrous panoply of nature;
The beauty of human creativity – music, dance, art, writing, sport, poetry, sculpture, architecture…….;
The wonders of natural beauty – the rocks, waves, gorges, mountains, sunsets, sunrises, blue skies, clouds and lakes;
The pleasure of love, friendship and sharing.
I can spend my life marvelling up at a night sky, sharing a meal, watching a sunset or touring around the natural beauties of this planet.
I can do all this because of the greatest wonder of all – my consciousness.
In my head I have a rich blancmange of trillions of nerve cells that interconnect in ways more complex than any computer to create a network that provides me with consciousness.
That fills me with awe. How does it work?
This network has evolved from basic nets and ganglia to this enormously huge swelling that we call a brain. It is equipped with senses that provide us with vision, sound, touch, taste and scent so that we are able to perceive the world around us. It provides us with a means of coordinating these senses into a view of the world. It provides us with a sense of self and the ability to think.
That picture we have is far from complete. Our consciousness is imperfect. We only perceive a fraction of the energy, the spectrum, around us. What would the world look like if we could see in X-Ray, gamma, ultra-violet or infra-red? If we had the senses of other creatures – the homing sense of birds, the smell of dogs? Our world is a fraction of what is actually surrounding us.
With modern brain imagery we are able to see much better how this incredible structure we call a brain works. With our understanding of biochemistry we are able to comprehend a lot more of how the neurones operate on a cellular and subcellular level – the chemicals involved, ionic shifts and the way the network creates our consciousness.
Maybe one day soon we will be able to understand the magic of consciousness? We are only at the beginning of the age of science. As mere microbes on the surface of a tiny planet we’ve already done remarkably well. Give it a thousand years or so and I’m sure we’ll fathom out a lot more.
Human consciousness is one of the big marvels.