Surely the issue of what has consciousness or does not is sourced in a mindset which sees or seeks ‘separation’ and denies or dismisses connectedness? In other words, what we define as consciousness is another form of separation sourced in ignorance and in mindset, i.e. what we believe is possible and what we expect it is possible to find.
A great deal of thought, time and effort can go into defining what consciousness is or could be and where it might be found or where it might be reasonable to assume it could exist, but since we do not know in essence what consciousness is or what its source or foundation might be, then is it not something of an impossible quest to seek to dictate what it could be and where it might exist? Having said that, I realise such explorations are invaluable as a part of any journey of understanding but it is also very easy to become distracted in that way of ‘looking at the finger pointing at the moon’ instead of ‘looking at the moon.’
We believe consciousness exists, or rather we believe that which we call consciousness exists, in human beings and we deign to allow its presence in ‘lesser’ organisms to a small degree, dismissing much if not most of our material world as being without consciousness or being incapable of consciousness. This is cavalier at best and foolhardy at worst given that we simply do not know what consciousness is and therefore where and how it might manifest.
There was a time, not so long ago, when male-dominated society believed that women were not capable of ‘full’ or complete consciousness, i.e. intelligence, in the way that men were. That erroneous belief was eventually put to rest to a large degree in the Western world, but not completely, and is retained in much of the rest of the world, to lesser and greater degrees depending upon cultural influences.
There was also a time in the very near past when it was believed that babies were not capable of feeling in the womb, reacting to stimuli outside the womb,
feeling pain when circumcised and were in essence a ‘blank slate’ with little or no capacity for conscious processing in the first year at least. Few mothers would have believed that in the way that men were inclined to do so, particularly in the realms of science/medicine, and increasingly as research continues and develops, the error of this belief, assumption, dictat, or mindset is being challenged.
It is impossible to assess just how much knowledge was lost during the years of patriarchal witch-hunts when most of those who ended up on the pyre were the healers and physicians of their time but we can gain a glimpse into lost knowledge by looking at ‘stories’ and ‘tales’ and ‘mythical’ beliefs which science in its arrogance has largely consigned to the ‘old wives tales’ heap. And many of those make it very clear that in times past, often dismissed as primitive, people did believe that what happened in the outside world could affect the foetus. And these beliefs are common throughout many cultures. Then again, it was also common in many cultures for the healers, particularly women, to be demonised and destroyed and with them, their knowledge.
The point I am trying to make is that within our myths, legends, fairy-tales, spiritual teachings, poetry can be found insight into the human condition which makes it clear that all is connected and that this connection is a part of, not sourced in, but a part of something greater, eternal, constant and powerful.
And these stories also talk of ‘consciousness’ in all things – mountains, rivers, stones, flowers – everything. Astrology, one of the most ancient forms of divination and explanation and the mother of astronomy, is also sourced in a belief that the universe and everything in it, has consciousness. In times past these various forms of consciousness were called Gods – but what’s in a name? Carl Jung would understand them as archetypes as Richard Tarnas, a contemporary author on the subject of astrology also attests.
But what is a ‘god’ but a form of consciousness?
If all is connected then just as one cannot be half-pregnant, so one cannot be half-connected and that suggests consciousness is in and of us all: you, me, the cat, the carrot, the tree, the earth, the sand, the star ….. absolutely everything. And just as we did not have the mindset, experience, knowledge or capacity to understand just what a foetus might think or feel, how on earth can we say whether or not a cloud, star, tree, ant has consciousness.
Perhaps when we accept that everything is an expression or manifestation of consciousness and therefore it ‘has’ or ‘is’ consciousness in its own way, we can rediscover wisdom which the ancients intuited long ago and in the doing find not only that ‘god is in all things’ but that ‘all things are in god.’
NB: The use of the word God, god, ‘God,’ or ‘god’ has nothing to do with religion in any direct sense but is merely a term which ‘describes’ a force in this world, at work in this world, an intelligence which I believe is consciousness.