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How Self-Relational Consciousness Produces and Interacts with Reality

In essence, Steven E. Kaufman’s work shows how self-relational Consciousness produces and interacts with reality. But to appreciate the important work done by Kaufman, one needs to read the whole 325 pages of this Focus Issue of JCER covering his work. Our goals with this Focus Issue are: (1) bring broader awareness of Kaufman’s work by scholars and all genuine truth seekers; and (2) promote scholarly discussions of the same through commentaries and responses to commentaries in the future issues of JCER. In so doing, we hope that all of us may benefit in our endeavor to reach higher Consciousness within ourselves and build a genuine Science of Consciousness.

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A Longitudinal History of Self-Transformation: Psychedelics, Spirituality, Activism and Transformation (by Phil Wolfson): Abstract: A longitudinal historical approach for portraying and examining personal transformation is presented along with a proposed instrument—the Transformational Codex—for cataloging that history and the elements that compose it. One element, psychedelic transformation, is then discussed in depth along with a schema for viewing transformations that may occur related to psychedelic use and practice.

Transcending the Self Through Art: Altered States of Consciousness and Anomalous Events During the Creative Process (by Tobi Zausner): Abstract: The capacity for transcending the self through art arises from the creative process, an altered state of consciousness facilitating the occurrence of anomalous events such as precognition and interior visions that appear to be outside the spacetime of waking life. Frustration can trigger the far-from-equilibrium conditions necessary for creativity, while inspiration may seem as if its source is exterior to the artist, and the experience of flow, like a trance state, can produce an altered sense of time. Archetypes in the creative process link a single mind to the collective unconscious and works of art become self-opening worlds that create an expanded reality.

Breaking Out of One’s Head (& Awakening to the World) (by Gregory M. Nixon): Abstract: Herein, I review the moment in my life when I awoke from the dream of self to find being as part of the living world. It was a sudden, momentous event that is difficult to explain since transcending the self ultimately requires transcending the language structures of which the self consists. Since awakening to the world took place beyond the enclosure of self-speech, it also took place outside our symbolic construction of time. It is strange to place this event and its aftermath as happening long ago in my lifetime, for it is forever present; it surrounds me all the time just as the world seems to do. This fact puts into question the reality of my daily journey from dawn to dusk with all the mundane tasks I must complete (like writing of that which cannot be captured in writing). My linear march to aging and death inexorably continues, yet it seems somehow unreal, the biggest joke of all. Still, I here review the events leading up to my time out of mind and then review the serious repercussions when I was drawn back into the ego-self only to find I did not have the conceptual tools or the maturity to understand what had happened.

Background Motivations for My Views on Consciousness (by Chris Nunn): Abstract: I wish to show here that my theories, and my life in general, have been greatly constrained (though I would say enlarged) by a few, brief and unusual experiences. Equally clearly, the content of the experiences reflected to some extent my cultural and personal history. Can they be regarded as no more than a culturally determined curiosity, perhaps a bit like the dancing manias of the Middle Ages or the recent epidemic of ‘alien abduction’ experiences? My personal answer to that question is: ‘No. The experiences truly reflected aspects of Reality that we don’t often perceive and the culturally determined part of their content was just the icing on the cake – how Reality was able to express itself within my particular, very limited mind.’ That’s why I feel it has not been a waste of my time to try to build ideas that promise to integrate experiences of this sort with more mainstream Western understandings, for theories foster observations and, thus, sooner or later, fuller appreciation of truths about ourselves and our world.

How Often or How Rarely Does A Self-Transcending Experience Occur? (by Syamala Hari): Abstract: Almost always, the self is involved in our perception of the world, thinking, and actions, but it does momentarily step aside now and then. I describe below a few of my experiences of self-transcendence that seem quite ordinary with nothing mysterious about them and they are all of short duration. To explain how the self is present or not in an experience, I describe some properties characteristic of the self such as its sense of personal identity and ownership of action. Manifestation of these properties in an experience indicates the presence of the self and absence of these properties indicates its absence. In an act of observation, full attention paid to what is being observed seems to push every thought, including the self, out of the conscious mind and keep it fully occupied with the act of observation. A characteristic property of the self-transcendent state seems to be that one can only recognize such a state as being free from self, but one cannot prove that it is so because the outward effect of the state may be the same as that of an alternative state where the self is present.

Self-Transcendence as a Developmental Process in Consciousness (by Roland Cichowski): Abstract: After an introduction describing certain difficulties in relating the nature of self-transcending experiences, I give a narrative description of three successive episodes in which a certain relationship and development over time can be discerned. This is followed by a discussion of the impact they have had over the course of my lifetime together with observations on how they have affected my outlook. These experiences have led me to the view that it is more likely that it is consciousness generating the illusion of a material reality than a material reality generating consciousness. I consider self-transcendence to be understood as a stage in the development of the consciousness of each human being, and ultimately in the development of humanity as a whole.

Editor’s Introduction: Transcending Self-Consciousness (by Gregory M. Nixon): Abstract: What is this thing we each call “I” and consider the eye of consciousness, that which beholds objects in the world and objects in our minds? This inner perceiver seems to be the same I who calls forth memories or images at will, the I who feels and determines whether to act on those feelings or suppress them, as well as the I who worries and makes plans and attempts to avoid those worries and act on those plans. Am I the subject, thus the source, of my awareness, just as you are the subject and source of your awareness? If this is the case, it is likely impossible to be conscious without the self (yours or mine), the eye of consciousness, and it must certainly not be desirable, for such a consciousness would have no focal point, no self-that-is-conscious to guide it, so it would be cast adrift on wide and wild sea like a boat that has broken from its anchor. Without self-enclosure, “We shall go mad no doubt and die that way,” as Robert Graves (1927/1966) expressed it.

Transformations of Self and World I: Modeling a World (by Christopher Holvenstot): Abstract: Severe seasonal depression entails the yearly collapse and reconstruction of a functional, useable, meaningful world. This radical annual transformation provides a unique perspective onto fundamental conscious processes by illuminating the cognitive elements and dynamics behind the construction and deconstruction of self-models and world-models.

Transformations of Self and World II: Making Meaning (by Christopher Holvenstot): Abstract: A theater workshop, ostensibly about acting, turns out instead to be about not acting, yet answers a lot of questions about how to act in the real world – ironically, by exploring the world of dreams. This transformational experience provides a view into the realm of the psyche, and this view is used to highlight the inappropriateness of empirical precepts in the formation of a field of consciousness studies.

The Shock of the Old: A Narrative of Transpersonal Experience (by Milenko Budimir): Abstract: Here I present a description of some transpersonal experiences that occurred as a result of meditation practices as well as reflections on those experiences. I connect these experiences with some historical precedents, particularly to sources in the Eastern Orthodox Christian spiritual tradition, but also to contemporary sources as well as some 20th century philosophical ideas. Lastly, I describe how these experiences ended up shaping a new worldview, the most significant and lasting being a deep sense of interconnectedness with the world. This sense of interconnectedness further lends support to an inclusive rather than an exclusive understanding of religious belief, and correspondingly a mystical sense of the world and humans’ place in it.

How Self-Relational Consciousness Produces and Interacts with Reality (by Huping Hu, Maoxin Wu): Abstract: In essence, Steven E. Kaufman’s work shows how self-relational Consciousness produces and interacts with reality. But to appreciate the important work done by Kaufman, one needs to read the whole 325 pages of this Focus Issue of JCER covering his work. Our goals with this Focus Issue are: (1) bring broader awareness of Kaufman’s work by scholars and all genuine truth seekers; and (2) promote scholarly discussions of the same through commentaries and responses to commentaries in the future issues of JCER. In so doing, we hope that all of us may benefit in our endeavor to reach higher Consciousness within ourselves and build a genuine Science of Consciousness.

The Integration of Experience, Awareness, and Consciousness into the Relational-Matrix Model I: Experiential Mechanics (by Steven E. Kaufman): Abstract: In Article 2 & 3 of this work, we showed how existence, by forming relationships with itself repetitively and progressively, evolves into a relational structure that functions as the framework of reality. However, what we have described so far as the relational structure of reality, including the differentiation of that relational structure, explains only the fundamental behavior of, and some of the intrinsic relationships within, what we experience and are aware of as physical reality. What we have described so far doesn’t explain why there exists physical experience itself or why there exists an awareness of physical experience. To present a more complete, unified model of reality, it’s necessary to explain not only why physical reality behaves as it does but also, within the context of that same model, explain why we experience physical reality as we do, as well as why we’re aware or conscious of our experience, since experience, awareness, and consciousness are themselves integral parts of our reality. In that same vein, mental and emotional experiences are also integral parts of our reality and so must also be integrated into any model of reality that seeks to account for reality as a whole. The purpose of this article and the next article of this work, then, is to explain within the context of the same unified model of realty that was developed in Articles 2 & 3 of this work, how experience, awareness, and consciousness are all related, and in the process demonstrate that the physical, mental, and emotional experiential realities in which we find ourselves immersed can be understood in terms of a singular or unitary existence existing in relation to itself. Toward that end, we will now begin to explore how evolving existence, by existing in relation to itself at yet another level, becomes aware of physical, mental, and emotional experiences.

The Integration of Experience, Awareness, & Consciousness into the Relational-Matrix Model II: Consciousness and the Awareness of Experience (Steven E. Kaufman): Abstract: We have demonstrated how seemingly separate experiential realities can come to exist within the context of an ultimately indivisible, singular existence, but not why there exists an awareness of experience itself. That is, although we have demonstrated how existence can impactively interact with itself to create the form of any experience, we have yet to explain why there exists an awareness of that experiential form—in other words, why the differentiated area of reality that exists as the experiencer is aware of the form of its impactive-interactive relationship with the surrounding reality. In the following sections, we will explain why an awareness of the experiential boundary exists. In understanding why awareness exists, the nature of consciousness will become apparent.

Consciousness is unlimited, borderless, and undefined, whereas awareness is limited, bordered, and defined. When awareness becomes caught up in experiential reality, mistaking experiential reality for an independently existent reality, it literally becomes un-consciousness, or the opposite of consciousness. Since, for awareness, reality is whatever it experiences it to be, although awareness always remains what it is (i.e., consciousness), what awareness can experience itself to be is another matter entirely. For this reason, awareness can become unaware, can become unconscious of what it is, can become experientially cut off or separated from the consciousness that lies both within and beyond the screen of experience.

Introduction to The Relational-Matrix Model of Reality (by Steven E. Kaufman): Abstract: In this series of articles, we will show that reality as a whole can be consistently accounted for only if we understand that the nature of the singular existence from which reality extends through the process of repetitive and progressive self-relation isn’t other than consciousness itself. Thus, we will demonstrate that consciousness doesn’t come into existence at some later stage in the evolution of reality, but rather that the evolution of existence isn’t other than the evolution of consciousness and that experiential reality itself is what comes into existence at a certain stage in the evolution of consciousness-existence. In other words, we will show that consciousness isn’t a product of the machinations of physical reality but, on the contrary, that physical reality, as we experience it to exist, is itself a product of consciousness, albeit consciousness existing in relation to itself.

The Relational-Matrix Model of Reality I: The Development of the Model (by Steven E. Kaufman): Abstract: In this article, we will describe the behavior of spatial content within the context of a defined spatial construct. This description will leave us with a model of space-time as a dynamic structure. For reasons that will later become clear, we will call this model the relational-matrix model. Once the relational-matrix model has been developed, we will then demonstrate in the next article how the functioning of this dynamic spatial structure can account for certain basic aspects of the nature and behavior of physical reality. Specifically, within the context of the relational-matrix model, we will account for the following aspects of physical reality: (1) the relationship between space and time, including the basis of temporal relativity, as well as the precise nature of time as a function of the dynamic aspect of the spatial structure; (2) the basis of the speed-of-light constant, including why the frequency and wavelength of electromagnetic radiation are inversely related as a function of that constant; (3) the basis of Planck’s constant, including why the energy associated with electromagnetic radiation exists in discrete amounts, or quanta; (4) the nature of gravitation, including why matter and gravitation are always associated and why gravitation is universally attractive; (5) the equivalence of the gravitational and inertial forces; (6) the relationship between electromagnetic radiation and gravitation; (7) the nature of energy; (8) wave/particle duality; and (9) the uncertainty principle.

The Relational-Matrix Model of Reality II: Relating the Model to Space-Time and Physical Reality (by Steven E. Kaufman): Abstract: In this article, we will demonstrate that space-time functions as a dynamic relational structure. The relational-matrix model, as a visualizable representation of the structure of space, will be used to explain, among other things, why the physical relationships that Einstein mathematically described exist. Using the relational-matrix model to explain the behavior of physical reality, we will establish a conceptual basis for understanding how physical reality extends from the structure of space. By the end of this article, we will also have established a conceptual basis for understanding why nothing can truly be separated from anything else—i.e., why nothing can be said to exist independent of all other things.