#2. Consciousness is Modified by the Condition of the Brain

Consciousness is modified by the condition, and the conditionings, of the brain.

The brain is shaped by the effects of our genetic, biological, environmental, and karmic influences. Indeed, it is malleable—a concept known as neuroplasticity.

Genetics will govern our inherited physical characteristics, sex, and even our predisposition for certain behavior. There are specific polymorphisms (genetic mutations) that, in combination, will affect brain chemistry (neurotransmitters and neurohormones). This can have a strong influence on our stress tolerance and ultimately on emotional and physical health. However, not all genetic markers are destined to manifest. Many are dormant and triggered by stress from other sources. Biological and environmental exposure will also have direct effects on brain development. Karmic influences, as cause and effect mechanisms, are set in motion and will also have direct effects on the networks set down in the brain.

A nurturing, calm, healthy, socialized environment will create pathways in the brain conducive to higher resiliency and balanced brain/body chemistry.

The brain-mind is the vehicle of consciousness. Depending on the health of the brain and the psychological impressions and conditionings, consciousness is more or less clouded. Consciousness is pure when unmodified—just simply aware of being aware. It is the light or life we call “I” that is silently witnessing all that we experience.

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#1. The Psycho-physiologic Correlates of Spiritual Transformation

As units of pure consciousness we express through the brain and nervous system.

At the innermost core we are clear, immortal being without conditioning. The body and mind serve as a vehicle for the Soul and, as such, pure consciousness in the unaware state is conditioned by impressions that accumulate and are inherent in the body/mind. As a result we are forgetful of our true identity as the Self or eternal witness.

This primal awareness, the life of our life, is always subtly present in the background. In this sense awareness is always the same; you have the same awareness now that you had as a child, just different thoughts/ideas/beliefs accumulated and scattered about the different levels of mind. Nevertheless, awareness remains the same—ever pure, witnessing. The goal of spiritual practice is to return to, and consciously experience, this pure awareness.

Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
The Soul that rises with us, our life’s Star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting,
And cometh from afar:
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home:
Heaven lies about us in our infancy!

– William Wordsworth

Note: The words Divine Being, Supreme Being, consciousness, truth, God, absolute, Source, ultimate Reality, essence or core of our Being, all refer to the same thing and are used interchangeably throughout these sutras.