Explaining the comparison of consciousness to a screen


what is consciousness - Thumbnail for youtube

In the video “what is consciousness” I have compared consciousness into a screen on which films are projected.

This metaphor is based on 3 discoveries:

  1. Consciousness and mental activity are not the same. There is a difference between the observer (What I call consciousness) and the subject of his observation (Thoughts, emotions and sensations).
  2. Mental activity comes and goes, but the observer remains unchanged. In itself, it is not an experience (not a thought, emotion or sensation) and therefore, from the point of view of experiences, it is empty.
  3. The brain is the generator of the mental activity (Thoughts, emotions and sensations), and thus, can be compared to a projector.

These discoveries are the result of years of observation and inquiry of the mind using a certain meditative technique of silencing the mind.
These discoveries are described in the video “who am I? the answer to the riddle of the self”, starting from 3:17 (click here to start watching from that moment).
It includes a simple exercise (at 5:32) That enables everyone who tries it seriously to understand the existence of an observer, which is different from the mind.

Regarding the brain as the generator of mental activity, there is a subtle distinction that must be made. The brain is, in fact, a generator of brain activity (electro-chemical patterns), it is not necessarily the generator of mental activity.
There is a strong correlation between brain activity (such as electric activity in a certain part of the brain) to mental activity (Such as experiencing thoughts about something), but not a similarity. We do not know yet how conscious-less matter or energy, can create a conscious experience, if at all. This is called “the hard problem of consciousness“.

Furthermore, There is much brain activity that we are not conscious of. So we can say that the brain can think or feel without us experiencing a thought or a sensation. Read here about experiments proving this

At the same time, there isn’t necessarily a separation between the mind and consciousness. This perception may arise due to the limitation of the metaphor of the screen, which is separated from the light beam of the films. Yet we can also compare the relation between consciousness and the mind to the relation between the sea and its waves. They are one. They are inseparable. Yet they are not the same.
The sea (consciousness) can be waveless, yet waves (mental activity) cannot exist without a sea. In this metaphor we can see the brain as the generator of the wind (brain activity). The wind correlates perfectly to the waves, but they are not of the same nature.

Tsur Taub