Like the movies

Claiming to have consciousness is like an actor in a film declaring they have a movie screen on which they are projected.

The movies

We don’t have consciousness at all. That statement doesn’t make any sense. Everything, e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g appears in consciousness. The world, your body, your thoughts, your feelings, absolutely everything appears in consciousness. There is nowhere else for anything to appear. We don’t have any knowledge, sense impressions or ideas anywhere else but in consciousness.

How can a thing that exists only in another thing claim to possess that other thing? It’s a stupid claim. Denzel Washington needs a movie screen to appear on, but that movie screen isn’t part of him or his in any sense. That screen is the space where all other actors and everything else in the movie also appear. When the movie is stopped the screen doesn’t disappear, Denzel does.

Our movie has a start and an end, it can be paused and restarted but that doesn’t mean that consciousness (the screen) is affected. It means our story (the projection) is affected. Get hit in the head hard enough and your movie stops, hopefully for a short while. To make a claim that the screen disappears is baseless.

The hard problem

There are currently no theories that explain how consciousness could possibly emerge from matter. How is it that at some point in its development a blob of biological matter sparks consciousness? When, where and how does this happen? We don’t know.

Some people argue that it has to do with information processing. A sufficiently complex system that takes in information and processes it in some way becomes conscious. How? Nobody has an inkling. And if the emergence of consciousness is related to information processing, does that mean a computer could become conscious?

This problem is called ‘the hard problem of consciousness’ and it is indeed hard. In fact it is so hard, we don’t even know where to begin in formulating a solution. But the problem just goes away if you place consciousness outside of us. We appear in consciousness and after a while we disappear from it. Consciousness as the movie screen rather than a property of the actor. No more hard problem.


What is funny is that if we closely observe our own experience it becomes very obvious that consciousness is not some property that we have at all. That is what meditation does. Sit and pay attention to experience. Everything just appears. Sounds, sensations, thoughts, emotions. The whole world, both the bits that you label as you and the other bits that you label as not you, all of it appears in consciousness.

Look at your hand, then something else. There is no difference between the experiences. Both your hand and the other thing appear in exactly the same way, in exactly the same dimensionless space: consciousness. Listen to the sound of your voice and some other sound, no difference.


Douglas Harding and Richard Lang have a pretty cool experiment that shows this quite nicely. Not everyone gets it but when / if you do it can be quite enlightening.

Look at something. Look for a while. Try to calm the mind. Let the chatter die down. Just observe.

Now reverse the arrow of attention and look at what is observing. Relax. Just observe.

If you get a sense of a dimensionless and open space in which everything appears, you have found what I’m pointing at. Consciousness. Imperturbable consciousness.

As an aside you could also notice that it is impossible to separate consciousness and its content. But it is possible to notice that it is ludicrous to claim that the human appearing in that space in some way owns the container it appears in.

Chicken or egg

Consciousness is the screen on which the world is projected. It isn’t something that arises from matter. Actually, all the evidence that we have for matter we have in consciousness.

Consciousness is primary not matter. Not my consciousness or yours, just consciousness.


Consciousness and its content manifest as experiences. There seem to be patterns in those experiences (regularities), the patterns seem to follow rules. Thoughts about the patterns are themselves experiences. The stories have definitions as their base layer. The definitions are stories about the pattern, splitting it up into properties. By lumping the properties together into ranges and groups we create categories. By naming the categories we create things.

In reality any distinction between one thing and another is arbitrary and temporary. There is just consciousness and its content. One uninterrupted pattern of experience, continuous and inseparable.


That whole. Everything. The universe. That’s god right there. The bits that you label as you? Part of god. Inseparable from god. All the other bits? Also god. Where to find it? In consciousness. You’re staring at it all the time. You’re just lost in thought. Dreaming up a separation that doesn’t exist. Claiming responsibility that you don’t have. You are a story.

Do nothing

The universe does its thing. You (the human) are powerless. You don’t have the free will that you imagine that you have. You don’t have consciousness either. You are a story about some experiences being separate from some others. That story appears in consciousness in just the same way that the image of your arm appears in consciousness or the sound of your voice or the image of a tree or the sound of a bird.

All by itself.

Consciousness is a movie screen that is watching itself.

You imagine yourself to be an actor on that screen that is responsible for the movie that it is playing in. But you are god fooling himself that he’s human. For immersion. For shits and giggles. Because movies are fun only when we suspend our disbelief.

Chill and grab some popcorn. And grab me a 🍺 while you’re at it please. 😘

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