A short selection from Essay Seven in Darwin, Dogen, and the Extremophile Choice. [YOU MIGHT WANT TO SKIP THIS ON A FIRST READING OF THE TWO BUDDHAS SEQUENCE]
Personally, I (as a thinking mind) prefer the reflecting pool simile given in Two Buddhas, Part-5 over the other more discrete conceptions of consciousness listed there; for if similes, metaphors, and analogies are also incomplete, they are honestly so. Certainly this one must change with the times, for we now know, whereas the ancients did not, that the reflective surface of a pond overlies a ‘dead’ balance: a static equilibrium rather than a dynamic harmony of molecular motion. So we might want to characterize our own experience during especially ‘conscious’ moments in more active terms: “It was like my mind and body were in perfect balance and I was open to any challenge. Every step on the dance floor (stroke of the brush, swing of the hammer, grip on the rock face …) belonged to its own moment in time where the right (as in the eight-fold path meaning of ‘uncalculated’) response just happened.”
Does the true nature of consciousness reveal itself in such heightened states as these? Then perhaps we can find a comparable for our hard problem after all. On a geological scale that our less patient ‘brain streams’ must happily fail to experience as consciousness, the fossil record tells us the story of a “selective process” at work in another “perfect balance” that is “distributed, re-entrant, and highly differentiated” . Who are we to say there is no wit-ness, no geologically-paced “footprints of consciousness in highly excitable matter” , when environmental challenges cause species to “just happen” in the uncalculating readiness of that selectively balanced stream of variation we call an ecosystem?
3. Edelman, 2000, pp, 143-152: The Dynamic Core Hypothesis.
4. Koch, Christoff. Nov./Dec., 2014. A Brain Structure Looking for a Function, Scientific American Mind, vol. 25, no. 6, pp. 24-27. Quote taken from p. 27.