I am interested in parsing out a distinction between consciousness and mind. Early on in “Stepping Into The Light,” Damasio describes loss of consciousness as “dissolv[ing] into unsolicited unknowingness.” I thought about this in relation to meditation, which describes the meditative trance in similar language: primordial awareness, vast, nothingness that is not a void, etc. Part of meditation is observing the mind (almost never called consciousness) and breaking attachment to what the mind creates. This is different from losing consciousness; meditation is supposed to be a bright and clear and alert state (I am sorry I do not have better, more precise language). I found Damasio’s later discussion of consciousness as an understanding of images to be useful in this regard because it is clear that mind and consciousness are different.
However, he later writes that the presence of an individual “never quits… The presence must be there or there is no you.” In mediation, we are trying to move away from an I-centered approach or view. Meditation is (sometimes) about dissolving into expansive awareness without a center, without an I, without attachment and subjectivity. I think. I am interested in learning more about mediation and identity or sense of self.
Unrelatedly — Damasio’s comment on asides and digressions is a perfect example of the singular and linear aspects of consciousness that are simply unavoidable. Our brain — our higher-level thinking — cannot hold two trains of thought or discussion simultaneously. He links this to physics but I think it can be equally linked to consciousness. His later exercise of looking forward, then back at the book, then 180 degrees behind indicates that our brain/consciousness can only process one image/experience at a time. So his witty little aside about Elizabethan asides actually is a great example of how consciousness works.