Awareness as the new 1st Principle of Science


From any experiential or ‘empirical’ point of view, the most fundamental scientific ‘fact’ is not what science takes it to be - the objective existence of a universe of ‘things’ in space-time. On the contrary, the most self-evidential, empirical and therefore scientific fact is our subjective awareness of ourselves, and of a universe of things. That very awareness of things however, is not itself a thing – nor can it be explained by or reduced to any thing or things we are aware of. To even attempt to do so would be like attempting to explain or reduce our dreaming awareness to some particular thing we dream of.


The ‘First Principle’ of ‘The Awareness Principle’ is that Awareness itself – and not any thing or universe of things we are aware of - is the First Principle of the universe.

Every aspect and application of The Awareness Principle comes from the recognition that awareness comes first – not matter, energy or any ‘thing’ or world of ‘things’. The underlying but unquestioned, untestable, unprovable and fundamentally counter-intuitive principle of current science is that awareness can somehow emerge from a basically insentient or unaware universe of space and time, matter and energy. How awareness could arise from this unaware universe is not just something temporarily inexplicable, and therefore a subject of scientific hypothesis. It is inexplicable in principle. For just as the starting point of all inquiries into the nature of the universe is awareness of that universe, so is the starting point of all scientific inquiries into awareness nothing but awareness itself. Every ‘scientific’ attempt to explain the origins or basis of ‘consciousness’ or ‘awareness’ through something outside or beyond awareness is scientifically impossible in principle - the very attempt and all the experiments that go along with it being something that occur within the awareness of the scientist.

The primary purpose of The Awareness Principle, as a new foundation for life and science, is to rescue life itself from domination by the unquestioned, non-scientific presuppositions of what is, in reality a purely Western concept of ‘science’. That does not mean returning to the dead ends of paganism or religious fundamentalism, Eastern or Western, Oriental or Occidental, Southern or Nordic. Neither does it mean retreating into the realm of personal lived experience, secular or spiritual (for in today’s world even this realm is insidiously shaped by popularised Western-scientific concepts, concepts which shape the world in which each individual lives through their ruthless application in fields as diverse as government and economics, medicine and psychiatry, and even counselling and psychotherapy). Instead, the aim of The Awareness Principle – to rescue both personal and social life from domination by the abstract presuppositions of science – is one that can only be achieved by rescuing the whole Western concept of science from these unquestioned presuppositions. Principal among these root presuppositions is the identification of truth with ‘objects’ and ‘objectivity’. The Awareness Principle challenges this whole ‘Objectivity Principle’ of Western Science - instead reasserting the primary truth and absolute reality of ‘subjectivity’. Precursors of The Awareness Principle can be found in Indian philosophy, in European ‘phenomenology’, in Gestalt psychology and psychoanalysis. None of these precursors of The Awareness Principle however - besides those found in Indian Advaitic and Tantric philosophy - explicitly articulated its First Principle. Nor did they properly conceptualise its ‘Second Principle’.

The Second Principle of The Awareness Principle is that Awareness as such is inseparable but also quite distinct from each and every thing we are aware of.

Out of this principle comes what I call The Fundamental Choice – a choice that each of us can make at any moment of our lives. The choice is whether to identify with things we are aware of or ‘experience’ – whether in the form of desires and impulses, sensations or perceptions, emotions or events – or, on the other hand, to identify with the very awareness of them; recognising that awareness as something essentially distinct from each and every thing we ‘experience’ or are aware of within it, including ourselves.

The Third Principle of Awareness is that it embraces, pervades and transcends all that we can experience or be aware of.

The relation between awareness as such and all that we are aware of can be compared to the relation between space and the things we perceive in it. Space embraces each object within it, yet whilst it is inseparable from each of the objects within it, it is not itself an object – and transcends all the objects within it. Objects have location – we can say where they are ‘in’ space. Space itself on the other hand has an essentially non-local or ‘field’ character – we cannot say ‘where’ space is. Similarly, whereas we can localise each and every object or thing we are aware of – for example localising an object in space, a sensation in our bodies or a thought in our heads – we cannot localise the awareness of it – we cannot say where our awareness of anything is. The most important of Indian treatises on awareness placed great importance on the yogic practice of identifying with the space around and within things. That is because they understood and experienced the reality that space, like time, is not essentially an objective dimension of the universe at all but a basic dimension of subjectivity - of awareness.

The Fourth Principle of the Awareness Principle is that everything we are aware of is itself an awareness, and a doorway to an entire awareness world.

A sound we hear is not just something we are aware of, but it is an awareness of something else – a passing car, a conversation, a bird singing. Yet the bird too is not just something we are aware of but is itself an awareness of a unique sort. Its song is an expression of that awareness. The bird’s awareness is very different from ours, and it is that which is echoed in the sound of its song – in the same way that any singer’s awareness is. Similarly, when we hear a car horn honking in a busy street, this is not just a sound we are aware of. Indeed we only hear the sound as ‘a car honking’ because the sound we are aware of is an awareness - of a car honking. That awareness of a car horn honking is in turn an awareness too of the stress or anger of the driver honking the horn, of the driver’s awareness of the traffic, and/or their awareness of feeling stressed or impatient.

Simply reading a text or hearing a person speak we are not just aware of words. Indeed we are only aware of words as words because we are aware of them as expressions of another awareness - the awareness of the speaker or writer. In general, any thought, mood, emotion, perception, action or bodily sensation is not just something we are aware of but is an awareness of some aspect of ourselves or others, of our world, our relationships or life situation.  What we label as ‘stress’, ‘tension’, ‘anxiety’ and ‘depression’ are not things in themselves that we happen to feel. They are a felt awareness of important aspects of our lives, life relationships and life world. And there is nothing we can ever be aware of in the world that is not itself an awareness. Just as fright is an awareness of something in the surrounding world, even a stone is aware of its environment, indeed is an awareness of its own environmental world. Every ‘thing’ we are aware of in the world is aware of a world of things as a whole, experiencing its own unique awareness world - whether that of a stone, bird or another human being. The higher level awareness that everything we are aware of is an awareness of something else within our awareness world, and that this ‘something else’ is also an awareness – indeed an entire awareness world in itself – this awareness is what expands our awareness to embrace new awareness worlds. The Awareness Principle recognises that we are part of an ever-expanding multi-dimensional universe of awareness embracing countless things - each an awareness in itself and each part of its own unique awareness world. The expanding nature of the physical universe is an expression of the innately expansive character of awareness itself, which constantly opens up new worlds of awareness from within itself.

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