Personality is a cloak
One of the most consistent sensations that practitioners of meditation experience is the sense that all the things that the individual would usually hold dear and personal as "me" are illusory. They are just superficial layers that can be stripped away. One is not the body. One is not one's thoughts. Furthermore, one is not one's personality.
Surely this is all based on subjective observations? Well, yes, however there is lots of evidence that proves that personality is no more fixed than whether one decides to grow their hair or not.
People who have suffered brain trauma often exhibit completely different personality traits afterwards, and split brained patients who have had their corpus callosum severed to prevent severe epileptic fits sometimes appear to have two personalities under the same scull - one for each hemisphere of the brain.
Our personalities can be changed because of intense psychological events as well. One's personality can almost be described as the latest paradigm for understanding how to relate with one's world. Based on previous experiences and knowledge of the world, it is generated to create the best possible outcomes for the whole person.
For many, once they have matured into adults there may be no reason for that paradigm to change. Others may be forced to reflect and re-evaluate because of the experiences that life throws at them. Then there are those that don't know how to change. They break down, rebuild, break down, rebuild.
Psychoactive chemicals can change the personality, at least temporarily and often in the long term. Mood disorders come about because of changes in neuro-chemistry.
There's a point here. Whatever the unit of consciousness is, it is not the personality. There is never going to be a "spirit version" of me strolling through the corridors of Yorkshire trying to talk to a medium. If there ever was one, which me would it be? My current self, my ego, has evolved through many versions.
During meditation, identification with the superficial self dissolves. The deeper the meditative experience, the richer and more global one's consciousness becomes and less fixed to the body that hosts it.
Where does consciousness live?
If one's arm is chopped off, consciousness is still there. Consciousness is there regardless of the thoughts or lack of thoughts going on in the mind. So consciousness does not live in the mind or in the body.
When did consciousness arise?
This is where things get really interesting. Consciousness, pure awareness, has always been there. It doesn't suddenly appear at a given age although many exponents of AI would argue just that - that consciousness emerges when intelligence reaches a critical level. If that is the case, then the rest of this article is pointless. Many meditators would argue that there is a quality to the meditative experience that gives the practitioner a very direct knowledge that "this" is not something that can be reproduced. It IS life itself and it is universal.
If consciousness was present in the 40 year old, it was present in the 20 year old and it was present in the 10 year old even though placed side by side nobody can deny that the 40 year old version and the 10 year old version of the same person are so different as to not be the same person. So let's trace back further, to a 1 year old, 1 month old, foetus and beyond to the cell. Was the same consciousness in the cell? Why stop there? Is consciousness the "God particle" itself?
Gas cooker theory
Until recently, I used to think of mankind as being 8 billion gas rings on top of a giant gas cooker. Consciousness is the gas. When you consider the mechanics of a gas cooker, it is absurd to think that all these different rings feel so special and individual and want to fight against each other, compete to be the best, when they are all burning on the same gas source.
This analogy falls however because from birth to death, consciousness does not rot or burn or change. It is a constant.
Syringes on the ocean
So maybe a better way of looking at it would be to consider each individual life form (let's stick with humans for simplicity) to be a hollow vessel, a syringe, floating in the ocean. Now we have 8 billion syringes all full to the brim with the same substance - water from the ocean. From birth to death each syringe draws in more of the ocean and then once peaked the ocean water is gradually leaked from the syringe back into the ocean.
This means we are all connected right now but it goes much deeper than that.
What is time?
We all know that subjective time is completely different than objective time. How many times the world spins or revolves around the sun has no relevance is one is sitting in a dark room with no frames of reference. Subjective time depends on the perception of change and the rate of change. Five minutes can seem like a lifetime and time flies when we are having fun.
Defining time is very tricky therefore. It doesn't really exist as all we have is now. Returning to the ocean analogy, it doesn't matter if the syringe sucks water from the ocean now, next week or in 40000 years, it is still the same body of water. Therefore that body of water connects all the syringes not just now but forever.
Consciousness is timeless
Like the ocean, consciousness therefore can be seen as timeless. Your body is hosting it just as mine is and just as our great, great, great grandmothers hosted it. Same consciousness, different vehicles and THAT makes a whole load of other wonderful ideas possible.
If one's consciousness is at the core of all life and all matter, if it has driven one forward from the very first cell division, and if it is the thing that gels one with every other living entity that ever existed, does exist and will exist then those that claim to read minds may be telling the truth.
Telepathy may be either a fluke malfunction or something that can be nurtured and learned, a way of breaking out of one's own body and tuning into shared consciousness. Isn't this how hacking works when computers share a network?
Seeing ghosts may be the same mechanism. If time and space are illusion because consciousness is everywhere and always at once, then arguably one could be seeing through the eyes of another from the past....or the future.
If, as touched on by quantum physics, the way matter reacts depends on how it is observed, then perhaps telekinesis occurs when one hacks into the "consciousness" of objects on a sub-atomic level and changes their behaviour or even their placement in time and space.
It's mind-blowing but the truth is within you
The bottom line and the thrust of this article is that everything we know came from mind and everything we will know in the future will come from mind. It appears that the whole universe is within waiting to be unlocked. Scientists and artists alike celebrate great minds like Einstein but let us not forget that he was a deep, deep thinker - a visionary. Everything we have achieved in the material world from our knowledge of physics, biology, chemistry and the natural world has come from ideas first.
If we are really seeking the truth, we should be looking inwards.