Human consciousness (or even animal, plant or mineral consciousness) is hard to understand – even for the experts, authors and academics who come to the ALSO field, so hard that explaining it is known as ‘the hard problem’ which is exactly why we waited until year nine to grapple with it. Boom, boom.
And ALSO because we knew that Anil Seth’s book was coming at us and we had been talking to him about bringing his work 'Being You: The New Science of Consciousness' to ALSO in 2022. And we are so grateful that next year he is doing exactly that…
Perhaps you already think being is hard enough? Or perhaps you’ve thought sometimes that the hard problem of being you has made you you? Perhaps you're seeking a scientific explanation of what makes you uniquely you or perhaps you want new paths to explore your own higher consciousness? We will celebrate this theme in many ways all beautifully woven through the programming.
Let’s start with a definition, Wikipedia (the modern-day Oracle) defines it as part of the human mind that can transcend animal instincts. If you're here for the big ideas, don't miss Anil’s main stage talk - he’s a world-renowned neuroscientist - with 20 years of experience working and researching at the neuron-face of the brain, and he is at ALSO to put forward a radical new theory of consciousness and self. All you have to do to understand it is to sit back and relax as you stresslessly find out what we know, what we don’t know and what we will know about being you…after all how many chances do you get in life to consider your own consciousness from the comfort of a Capability Brown sculpted site, with the summer grass under your feet, a mug of tea in your hand, your eyes becalmed by a beautiful lake view.
Want to deeper with this theme? Take the double talk. These seminar-type sessions are for the keen ideas types in the field or maybe the expert, academic author is someone who’s work you hold close to your heart. Go along – get the chance to go deeper.
And when you’ve got your brain cells round consciousness, in a talk way, you might feel the urge to understand deeper, stronger, differently better. Who are we to say how you want to understand this subject and it’s because consciousness is not a scientific subject that we can master that makes it such a good theme for us all to grapple with in the field. As Max Planx said ‘science cannot solve the ultimate mystery of nature because we ourselves are part of nature and therefore part of the mystery we are trying to solve”, or channel John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John from Grease and 'feel your way' through ALSO's many opportunities to travel to our higher consciousness.
We’ll programme opportunities to try to tap into your higher consciousness. This is not by its nature something easy to define. This part of the festival is not about definitions but ways to try to travel to it. Connections with your highest consciousness are by their very nature fleeting, ethereal moments so chase that high. Think of ALSO as a provider of new pathways to your higher mind – the one of love, kindness and universal sympathy.
What am I talking about…..ideas under construction at the moment include – having a go at sleep engineering….seek out the opportunities to explore the opportunities to travel to your inner self. Try the walks and the forest – give gratitude to our goddess Medusa, try to grasp a moment or two of your higher consciousness using the force of the natural setting. Go gonging, take part in a morning gong-o-clock, see if sound works for you. We may have monks beaming in for a guided meditation. Did you know the definitive essay on consciousness is called ‘What it is Actually Like to be a Bat’ by Thomas Nagel – so we will, in homage to this essay, be putting on a number of bat walks with our very own bat man. You might want to consider our alternative selves, Salena Godden could help us glimpse our divine with her poetry performance. It might be possible to ascend to your higher consciousness by using your breath – we’d like to offer astral projection for beginners. You can disappear into the sublime of our woods – commune with nature, take a self-guided nature walk, take a highly guided tree walk, bathe in our forest bath, submerge yourself in lake water, dance in the forest or take part in our specially commissioned ALSO Pilgrimage designed by pilgrimage expert Guy Stagg who will use that age-old practise dedicated to the divine to see if we can benefit in the secular world by going on one.
Good luck and if not there’s always the Rum Shack, dancing in the shade of the trees on the roots of the land, on the banks of a lake is a sure-fire way to make it – even without a Dark and Stormy.