Peace Through Science of Consciousness

Posted: 01.04.2005
Updated on: 02.07.2015

Scientific Study in Consciousness

Without self-realization self-knowledge,
Without self knowledge self management
Without self-management freedom and
Without freedom peace are not possible.

Lord Mahavira
(Uttarajjayanani - 28/30)


Peace is an outcome of understanding of self and consciousness. Self-understanding leads to better understanding towards others and compassion to all beings. A number of studies have documented a tremendous interest in understanding the phenomena of consciousness and its role - if any - in life by both, philosophers and scientists. However, there is a paucity of studies to determine the properties of consciousness even in the fields of neuroscience, psychology, psychobiology, cognitive science and parapsychology.

According to Jain philosophy (Lord Mahavira; 599-527 B.C.),

“The soul is that which cognizes; that which cognizes is the soul. Because it cognises, it is soul (19).”

It is further explained that the soul is invisible entity and its differentiating characteristic is consciousness (21). The above statements provide the clue that the fundamental source of cognition is the soul and consciousness. However, there is a need to ponder upon what are the properties of consciousness and which of these are involved in cognition?

Properties of consciousness are:

  1. Awareness by which it cognizes.
  2. Motion of awareness instantaneously towards the object of cognition indifference to space and time.
  3. Contraction or expansion of awareness instantaneously as per micro or macro level of the object during cognition.

On the basis of above it can be inferred that -

  1. If the awareness is the fundamental source of cognition then consciousness should cognize/perceive/obtain information without sense organs also.
  2. If the awareness can reach beyond geography and time instantaneously then it should cognize the object directly indifferent to distance or physical barrier and also obtain the information of past, present or future.
  3. If awareness can be contracted or expanded to micro or macro level then it should also cognize directly the microscopic or macroscopic object(s).

Consciousness has faculty to cognise in space and time by means of normal sensory perceptions and or extra sensory perception (ESP). Both are likely to operate in varying proportions depending upon the ability of an individual to apply any one or both. ESP may operate without sense organs and if so it should operate not only in present but in past and future and in fact everywhere. During normal sensory perception all the three properties of consciousness are being utilized. It is further assumed that by applying the same properties of consciousness extrasensory perception also can be acquired.

A glance through the literature concerning the ESP researches since 1930, reveals that there are some serious unresolved issues (12-18), which need attention. Some of them are how does ESP function, what are the situations facilitating or hindering its operation, is it possible to form an experimental design which could be repeated universally so that ESP can be demonstrated or utilized at will?

The authors of this paper feel that a better understanding of consciousness and its properties can help resolving such issues. As assumed above. application of consciousness can play pivotal role in the functioning of extrasensory perception. Then a question arises why it is not seen commonly. The apparent absence of it in general public is primarily due to unsteady state of awareness. Secondly most individuals lack a knowledge of this phenomenon and practice of its application. Hence one is practically unable to perceive it directly beyond sense organs. This faculty of ESP should be operative in varying degree in each individual according to his ability of focussing and maintaining steady state of awareness. If that be so, and further if steady state of awareness increases, then the faculty of ESP will be evident.

Testing of the ESP by ESP cards is one of the known ways of evaluating this faculty. Therefore, this technique was adopted to test ESP while applying the properties of consciousness at will. If the application of properties of consciousness operates and recorded by the ESP test, significant higher ESP scores should be obtained as compared to non-application thereof. Application is feasible/possible by focussing and maintaining steady state of awareness towards the ESP cards deliberately. This skill of operating ESP can be developed by training and regular practice of meditation. Therefore it is worthwhile to assess this by organizing simple tests.

Scope of Investigation
Ideal subject for the such testing is a person who has some practice of focussing and maintaining his steady state of awareness. Such practice is the part of a meditation. Thus, a meditator should be the ideal subject. Age of 18 years and above will be the ideal age group for this purpose because at this age one can understand the abstract term consciousness, cognition, awareness, etc. Basis of cognition is focusing of awareness towards the target. Therefore, target (card) be placed in front of the subject at least initially as has been done in the present case. So that awareness could be directed towards it easily.

Aims & Objectives
The aims and objectives of this study was to determine whether application of the properties of consciousness can play any role in the operation of the ESP phenomena.

Material And Methods

Target Cards
In this investigation decks of ESP cards (Zener cards) were used as targets. A standard deck of ESP cards contained 5 cards of each symbol, the well known circle, cross, wavy lines, square and star (25 in all). The symbols were prepared by computer and printed at a printing press, on hard paper cards of size 103 x 75 = 1 mm.

Experimenters
Experimenters (who handled tests) were selected from amongst teachers and research scholars of known integrity. They were apprised with the research study and were also trained to handle the experiments uniformly and carefully. Before starting each session, each experimenter conducted pilot tests of 2-3 random subjects in the presence of the authors for their satisfaction that both the experimenters and the subjects understood the design of the experiment and its implementation.

Procedure
ESP tests were administered to the subjects in two stages with uniform procedures. In the first stage their basic ability of ESP if any, were tested as baseline or pre-testing and in the second stage they were given instructions for applying consciousness while detecting the symbol on the cards as intervention or post-testing.

Stage 1
Before testing, the subjects were shown all the five symbols to memorize and told about the place where the card is going to be kept before him as he would sit for the test with closed eyes. Each one was also provided an instruction sheet about how the experiment will be run. Clarifications were also provided to those who were not clear.

When the tests started, each subject was instructed to sit calmly by keeping the eyes gently closed throughout the session. A calm, quiet and undisturbed environment was facilitated. Before each run the experimenter shuffled the deck well for the randomization of symbols of the cards. Then without looking at the symbols, he placed the cards downwardly faced, to maintain secrecy, one by one on the table at a distance of about 5 feet from the subject. The subject was called for detecting the symbol on the card, and after listening his verbal response, the symbol was confidentially checked and recorded as correct (r) or incorrect (x) on the record sheet by the experimenter. The same process was repeated with each trial throughout the run. Different deck of cards was used for each run as explained above and the result of each session was prepared on the basis of the total runs.

Stage 2
In the second stage the subject was given a knowledge about the properties of consciousness as explained earlier. It was further discussed how it was planned to test it by applying consciousness spontaneously for detecting a symbol on ESP cards. He was cautioned that he must try to use only his awareness capability and avoid guess work. He was also apprised and given instruction sheet for applying consciousness which consisted mainly to focus and maintain steady state of his awareness at the symbol of the card.

After the first session in order to create greater awareness and orient them better, an enquiry was made from each one whether he was able to focus or direct his awareness only to the symbol on the card or applied guess work and whether he is satisfied about his efforts to apply consciousness and felt physically and mentally healthy during the process of this test. This was just a psychological effort to minimise interference of guess work.

Experiments
In this pioneering and preliminary study to evaluate the predictions made on the ESP test, a series of four experiments (A, B, C and D) were conducted in six months. Three exploratory experiments were conducted with individual meditators and the final one with a group of non-meditators (30 young students).

In order to understand various features of the properties of consciousness first two experiments were conducted on the first author himself. He is a Jain monk and practising Preksha Meditation regularly for 18 years.

[Preksha Meditation is a science and an art of purifying and steadying consciousness]

He took training of a special technique of Preksha Meditation, Animesh Preksha,

[Focusing awareness and maintaining steadiness on an object without blinking eyes]

for 3 month and 25 days in 160 sessions each consisting of 10 to 20 minutes to ensure the steadiness of awareness. During this training period, ‘Experiment A’ and ‘Experiment B’ were conducted. ESP tests were carried out without applying the properties of consciousness (baseline/pre-test) in contrast to applying the properties of consciousness (intervention/post-test).

Experiment A
This experiment was designed to find out the feasibility and to standardise the procedure for applying the properties of consciousness. The above subject was subjected to the ESP test with the baseline and the intervention comprising a single session without any lapse of time. It was repeated for 20 times with 20 runs in each session as under:

Baseline-Intervention - Baseline-Intervention, ………(20 times)

It was revealed that testing in this manner did not provide consistent data. It appeared that the effect of application of properties of consciousness were not only discernible during intervention test but this effect continues in the baseline test also. Similarly the period in which baseline was tested (without applying the properties of consciousness) its effect overlapped in intervention test as that followed without lapse of time. Therefore, this procedure of conducting the experiment was not found correct, hence it was modified in ‘Experiment B’.

Experiment B
It was similar to ‘Experiment A’, except in place of alternating baseline with intervention, baseline testing was first repeated ten times (each with 20 runs) as pre-test and was followed after ten days by a similar repetition of intervention as a post-test, as under:

Baseline - Baseline - (10 times), interval of 10 days, Intervention – Intervention - (10 times).

The results of this test both at baseline and intervention level were consistent hence only these have been recorded here and discussed.

Experiment C
Having standardised the procedure with consistent results, it was thought worthwhile to evaluate three more factors and see, whether this study can be carried out with similar effectiveness if:

  1. runs for session are reduced to ten or even five
  2. only knowledge of the properties of consciousness is provided to a regular meditator, but no special training of meditation i.e., Animesh Preksha
  3. a householder meditator or even non-meditator(s) are selected as subject(s)

 

Hence ‘Experiment C’ and ‘D’ were designed accordingly:

'Experiment B' was repeated on a householder meditator, co-investigator [B.P.G.), practising Transcendental Meditation and Preksha Meditation for the last 22 years. Runs for session were reduced from 20 to 10 only, and special training of meditation was also excluded for the subject.

Experiment D
Having evaluated the procedure on individual meditators with consistent results it was considered worthwhile to evaluate it on non-meditator(s). It was thought that for a non-meditator individual it may not be easy to apply the properties of consciousness by focussing and steadying the awareness on the cards satisfactorily without a long practice of meditation. So it was assumed that in case of non-meditators assessment of operation of ESP faculty would be more liable if the number of replicates are tested and average is taken. Further, it will be more evident if subjects are given the training of focussing and steadying awareness towards the cards itself. An ideal duration of such training for non-meditators would be 20 minutes at a time. Therefore, a session of five runs was planned for training as weIl as for testing.

Thus, another experiment was designed to evaluate the ESP prediction on the subjects of the non-meditator group. A multi-group, multi-level, pre- and post-design was adopted. After a brief introduction on the purpose of the study and properties of consciousness, a sample of voluntarily interested 30 graduate and post-graduate students of Social Work and Jain studies of Jain Vishva Bharati Institute (Deemed University), Ladnun, Rajasthan, India, were selected as subjects belonging to the age group of 18-2S in the academic year 1997-98. They were divided in two groups i.e. experimental (16 subjects) and control (14). Each subject was tested up to five runs individually (using a separate ESP pack for each run) at pre-, post-I and post-II experimental stages. Both, the experimental and control groups were asked to detect the ESP symbol of each card individually at the pre-experimental stage without applying the properties of consciousness.

Subsequently, while the control group was not provided any training for application of properties of consciousness and were simply asked to detect the ESP symbols, the experimental group was given a training after pre-experimental stage testing, as per procedure described earlier in stage 2). Training was imparted for 8 days before the first testing (Post I) and again for 6 days before the second testing (Post II). The result of the scoring of each subject was communicated to him only after the last testing.

Results

Results of ‘Experiment A’ are not presented here as these were rejected after evaluation as discussed in the methods. The results of the remaining are presented here experiment-wise.

  1. In ‘Experiment B’ the scores of ESP test (m=8.21) increased significantly (p<.001) after intervention as compared to baseline (m=4.63) of the monk meditator. (See Table 1.1 and Fig. 1.)Table 1.1 ESP scores of individual meditators

Mean and Sandlers 'A' values in individual Meditators with and without application.

  • In experiment C, the scores of ESP test (m = 8.03) increased significantly after intervention (P<.001) as compared to the baseline (m = 4.70) (See Table 1.1 and Fig. 1.)


It is noteworthy that the increase in ESP scores remained almost similar irrespective of the fact that study was conducted on a monk or a householder, the runs for test were 20 or 10, and the subject had special training, as in case of the monk, or regular meditational practice only.

    In ‘Experiment D’, on groups of non-meditators. while at the pre-experimental stage there were no significant differences between experimental and control group in respect to their ESP scores, the difference became statistically significant (P<.025) at ‘Post I’ of the experimental stage and further increased (P<.O 1) at ‘Post II’ of it. The data in Table 1.2 indicate that scores in the experimental group raised from m = 5.39 to m = 7.03 only (P<.005), but in the control group it could rise from m = 5.17 to 5.97 only (P is not significant). Thus when the study was conducted on a group of 30 young students then also the effect of applying the properties of consciousness was significantly clear as found in ‘Experiment B’ and ‘C’. (See Table 1.2 and Fig. 2.)


    Conclusion and Discussion
    In this preliminary study, which is the first effort of the authors, effect of factors (properties of consciousness) as seen in the results of ESP tests, is significantly clear irrespective of whether it was applied on a monk or a householder or a group of 30 young students. This is noteworthy as the first two categories had some understanding or faith in properties of consciousness, the last category i.e. of the students had no knowledge of these concepts before they were subjected to these tests.

    It is also interesting to note that the ESP scores also increased in the control group from pre-experimental stage to ‘Post-I’ and then again to ‘Post-Il’ successively. This may be because the inherent faculty of consciousness may start functioning naturally without knowing the procedure or training in activating the properties of consciousness, but its level remains very low. On the other hand, when the experimental group of students applied ESP with a training or we can say with a deliberate application of properties of consciousness the rate at which the ESP increased in two stages was significantly high. Thus, the faculty of ESP is there and when efforts are made to activate it, it improves as reflected in the ESP scores.

    While the ESP scores at baseline of a monk and a householder (m = 4.63 and 4.07) as well as the control and experimental groups of students were at par, the later group (both student groups) had a higher score as compared to that of the monk and householder. This may be because in student groups, the number of the subjects was high and some subjects had ESP scores as high as 7.8 (mean) and that may have led to high ESP scores.

    Further the increase in ESP scores of both individual meditators are higher as compared to the students group. This may be because the monk and householder have better ability for applying the properties of consciousness because of their regular practice of meditation.

    Feedback of correct or incorrect response of each trial of a subject was not provided during any test or even in training period because it may work as a motivation factor. Contrary to it, the authors feel that, if ESP exist and properties of consciousness play any role in it, then trial by trial feedback may be helpful in understanding the correct application of consciousness and further in the development of the faculty, ESP. It is a matter of consideration for future study.

    In this preliminary study only 30 students were selected as subjects that too from one organization but if the number is increased and different groups of students are taken then much more comprehensive results are likely to be achieved and better appreciated. In this study, increase in the ESP scores is statistically significant, but to harness the higher states of consciousness and its faculties like ESP there is a lot to be done. Thus, there is a need and scope in the future to conduct such studies to verify the facts and draw conclusions thereof. Secondly this study was conducted by the use of ESP cards only, there should be several other ways for such testing. Of course, these are the future aims of the authors in the search of truth.

    Acknowledgement:
    The first author is highly grateful to Late His Holiness Acharya Shree Tulsi and present Acharya Shree Mahaprajna for their spiritual initiation and guidance. Both of the authors are highly thankful to Prof. B.C. Lodha, former Vice-Chancellor of JVBI for his advice, encouragement and checking of the manuscript of this paper. We are also thankful to the teachers and students who helped us in conducting the experiments as experimenters and the subjects, and all those scholars who offered clarifications and helpful criticisms.



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    Tulsi Prajna, semi-annual Journal of JVBI, Ladnun, April-September 2000