A test for higher consciousness? Is a scientific test possible?
How would a SPIRITUALLY WISE person behave? What would we look for and perhaps notice in them?
IS MEASURING SPIRITUAL WISDOM EVEN POSSIBLE?
Can we really tell whether someone is spiritually aware or even enlightened? Could we ever determine THE LEVELS of higher consciousness that might exist?
IF WE COULD TEST for the quality of higher Awareness, WHAT REAL PURPOSE would that serve? Would this help our own personal and spiritual development, or could it somehow hinder this?
MAN’S SCIENTIFIC QUEST FOR A TEST OF HUMAN CONSCIOUSNESS:
As humans we are naturally curious and want to explore. In the field of science, that exploration involves accurately measuring and documenting the observations.
THE SCIENTIFIC METHOD REQUIRES A TESTING OF THE FINDINGS.
Scientists therefore develop TESTING DEVICES and SCALES OF MEASUREMENT for many things. A thermometer for example allows us to test the temperature and accurately measure this on a scale.
In the field of Psychology, BEHAVIOURAL SCIENTISTS measure various aspects of human behaviour. Researchers can for example measure our intelligence level (IQ test) and personality type. That’s all well established.
WHAT ABOUT MEASURING MORE ABSTRACT CONCEPTS LIKE HAPPINESS & WISDOM?
Here the level of difficulty increases, and the test instruments are usually less specific. Psychologists need to rely more on direct questioning, self-assessment tests & questionnaires.
IN BEHAVIOURAL PSYCHOLOGY the scales of measurement become less exact & reproducible. For example, if we report to an investigator that we are ‘happy’, then for study purposes, we just are! At least for that moment or that time-frame in question. It becomes a self-assessment. We might also be asked to indicate just ‘how happy’ we feel by choosing a point on scale, from low to high. We again personally decide the response.
Perhaps THE LAST FRONTIER for both behavioural scientists and theoretical physicists alike will be the investigation of Consciousness & Awareness itself.
MEASURING LEVELS OF HUMAN CONSCIOUSNESS:
Medical science to date has done surprisingly well in measuring LOWER LEVELS OF SENSORY AWARENESS AND CONSCIOUSNESS. This includes our alertness & cognitive awareness.
There is for example, a commonly used scale (the APGAR score) for measuring the viability & wellbeing of newborn babies, especially after prior anaesthetic exposure.
Similar estimations exist for patients recovering from general anaesthetic or coma. Anaesthetists especially need to know how physically aware and alert a patient is during a surgical operation (Guedel Stages).
Similar assessments of consciousness are used to assess recovery as patients slowly awaken from a deep general anaesthetic or a coma.
Various tests and scales (e.g. Glasgow Coma Scale) have also been developed to standardise the assessment recovery from traumatic brain injury. Doctors can also estimate, by measuring brain-wave patterns & related responses, whether a patient is brain dead or likely to recover from a prolonged coma. More recently the modality of functional brain imaging has been added to this assessment.
So, as we have illustrated, medical science has had SUCCESS IN MEASURING SENSORY & COGNITIVE LEVELS OF CONSCIOUSNESS.
WE CAN MEASURE AT THE LOWER END OF THE CONSCIOUSNESS SCALE.
MEASURING HIGHER OR ‘SPIRITUAL’ LEVELS OF CONSCIOUSNESS & AWARENESS IS MORE DIFFICULT.
What physical aspects are even available to measure?
Some scientists such as Davidson’s group at the University of Wisconsin have tried STUDYING BRAIN FUNCTION as a measure of higher consciousness. They studied electrical brain wave patterns and dynamic brain scans of some Buddhist SPIRITUAL MASTERS. Those devoted practitioners had spent many years in meditation and rigorous mind training. Results have indeed shown some CHARACTERISTIC BRAIN CHANGES. These include heightened brainwave changes (on EEG) and increased blood flow in specific parts of the brain, especially to the left prefrontal lobe.
THESE SCIENTIFIC FINDINGS ARE HOWEVER JUST CRUDE MARKERS OF THE ASSOCIATED BRAIN CHANGES. They do not actually measure higher consciousness itself. They also pre-suppose the brain itself is the predominant agent in the process of higher consciousness. This may not entirely be the case!
The information presented so far is almost THE LIMIT OF CONVENTIONAL SCIENCE in measuring higher consciousness & awareness.
THE SEARCH CONTINUES FOR THE ‘HOLY-GRAIL’ IN CONSCIOUSNESS RESEARCH:
There is some FURTHER SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH right at the very edge of what is currently considered mainstream or ‘respectable’ science. It is however A TOTALLY DIFFERENT APPROACH to measuring higher Consciousness. Could these studies provide the answer to measuring the higher end of the Consciousness scale? We are very hopeful! We will discuss these in future blog posts.
COULD THIS ALL LEAD TO AN ULTIMATE TEST?
The quest for a practical test of our higher Awareness & Consciousness is of course an important theme on the UltimateTest.org website.
What about THE ETHICAL ISSUE OF MAKING THIS ASSESSMENT? Is it morally the right thing to do? Could there be some harm from knowing our level of higher Consciousness? Scientists and researchers, because of their drive to explore, will inevitably strive for such a test. We as individuals however, might need to contemplate the personal implications in using this test in ourselves.
Could a new and radically innovative approach finally provide us with A SCIENCE-BASED SCALE OF HIGHER CONSCIOUSNESS? One that we can use in clinical practice? One that could aid our personal & spiritual development?
COULD MEASURING OUR LEVEL OF HIGHER CONSCIOUSNESS HELP GUIDE US IN OUR DAY TO DAY LIVES?
This important discussion will continue on the UltimateTest.org blog TESTS tag on the ultimatetest.org website and on the Ultimate Test In Life theme page.
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