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The Brain, Emotions, and Consciousness

One of the unexpected results of the PEAR research is that conscious intervention often turns out to impair rather than enhance anomalous effects. Together with other strange findings, such as that effects are apparently independent of space and even time, this points clearly to the conclusion that anomalous perception and man-machine interactions are primarily non-physical effects. I would like to go into this at some length, and tie in some other findings along the way.

In a previous article, I suggested that the role of the brain in conscious activities is very limited. Its purpose is mainly twofold: 1. to co-ordinate actions of the physical body in the physical world, and 2. to serve as a relay station between the physically oriented and other aspects of the personality.

Elsewhere, I have talked about concepts as the union of all their expressions. A horse is the union of all images, materializations and descriptions of horses. Every person's concept of a horse is different. This is relevant here in two ways.

First, our physical body is also a 'concept.' This is made explicit by looking at the body as a quantum-mechanical object, with many possible states allowed by our self-image. The same is true of our personal universes as a whole.

Second, that personal physical universe is the intersection of a collection of concepts and beliefs. My personal universe is the culmination of a series of thoughts, from the fundamental physical laws of nature down to the exact configuration of the specks of dust I see on the floor.

The physical universe I observe (and it must be different for every individual, even though there will often be many similarities), is a projection of my personality through a set of beliefs or assumptions. This projection is then observed as if it was separate from or external to the observer.

From this perspective, established science is an effort to reverse-engineer physical reality. Physical structures and processes are analyzed and turned into concepts, oblivious to the fact that many of those very concepts gave rise to the structures and processes in the first place. One of its major limitations is that it considers the projection to be 'complete': no teleological or goal-seeking tendencies outside of the projection itself are present.

The projection as it is observed by the physical senses is extended and extrapolated using the underlying concepts to form the appearance of one big universe shared by many physical beings. When you consider your direct experience of your universe in this moment, much of it is taken up by a computer screen. Most facts about what you see as your universe is held in the brain or the mind (our internal world view), and is not directly percieved.

There is an assumption of continuity: We assume that successive experiences are to a very high degree consistent. We assume that, when we open our eyes after we blink, we see the same universe as we did a fraction of a second before. It is widely believed that this continuity of experience is derived from the continuity of the external world.

There is some anecdotal evidence to suggest otherwise (were your keys really always just sitting on your desk, even though you looked there 20 times?). Moreover, we don't always find this continuity in dreams. I consider it more plausible, therefore, that it is the choice of the personality to have larger and coherent, meaningful blocks of experience rather than a series of disconnected, 'chaotic' flashes.

Note that this concept of the universe-in-time (the one that's held in the mind) is still the union of its possible expressions. Two ways of representing these expressions will be useful: 1. The uncertainty inherent in the quantum-mechanical description (in which everything that is not observed is up for grabs) and 2. The future possible worlds that the present universe may lead to.

The physically oriented personality is concerned primarily with the projection and the physical mechanisms. The brain is the personality's interface to this projection, and the physical body as a whole its primary tool for direct manipulation.

It is not surprising, then, that the physically oriented consciousness is not very good at manipulating in 'anomalous' ways, as these are not achieved through the one method it really knows how to use: direct manipulation through the brain and from there through the body.

The (non-physical) mind, with its thoughts and emotions, can also manipulate the projection. Rather than manipulate 'within' the projection, it changes the filters (underlying beliefs and assumptions) used to project physical reality. When it comes to anomalous phenomena, this is more important.

Let's go for a short ride on emotions. Three paragraphs ago, I named "future possible worlds" as a useful representation or view of a person's universe concept. This view is of particular importance because it is directly related to emotions: All emotions can be expressed in terms of perceptions of past or future possible worlds. These perceptions are filtered through the person's beliefs and expectations, which determine which possible worlds are seen as accessible from the present, and which are not.

Take happiness: when you're happy, anything is possible. You see the full range of possible futures that is available to you. Despair is worst of all: nothing is possible. When you lose someone close to you, this cuts off an entire branch of possible futures. This causes sadness. Anger is an attempt to blow away something that blocks a branch of possible futures. Guilt is the perception of worlds that were possible from the past, but some action has made them inaccessible from the present. Emotions are therefore a sense, much like the physical senses, of future possibilities.

This view of emotions is also the basis of my view on ethics: the 'best' action is the most creative one, and our emotions provide a natural way to measure this potential, from low (despair) to high (joy). This solves many of the problems with utilitarianism, which proposed to maximize happiness, but could not find a universal method of defining it.

The crucial point is that emotions can also actively help to shape these possible futures. Strong desire (intent) to bring about a certain future world (more accurately, a future world with a certain characteristic) can shift a person's beliefs and expectations in such a way that this world is made more accessible, or that more worlds with the desired characteristic are accessible.

This explains why some emotional connection with the REG device is beneficial. It also explains why bonded couples do better than unbonded couples. Because of their bond, the players' possible future worlds will already have a lot in common. If the environment is already very similar, they can focus more on the specific task of influencing the device. They may also be used to aligning their emotional energy in their largely shared physical universe.