Consciousness is one of the most puzzling and marvelous things. It is puzzling when we attempt to put it into words. What exactly is consciousness?
I don’t believe science will ever be able to “prove” or show that consciousness is a product of the brain. The most it will be able to do is develop a catalog that lists the mental phenomena that occur when certain physical phenomena occur. But you will never be able to know what mental phenomena will happen just by looking at the neurological phenomena. You will have to have both.
For example pain. Neuro-scientists have found that when you stimulate a certain area of the brain – I think it’s the C fibers but that may be inaccurate (it’s irrelevant to the point I am making) – that a person experiences pain. So they can write in their catalog “Area x of brain produces mental phenomena pain”. But if there were just a brain without a mouth or means of expression then it would be impossible to discover what “it” felt when you prodded it.
But what about psycho-somatic pain? When feelings like depression cause people to experience pain? This is quite puzzling because you could say that just as in the first case physical manipulation of the c-fibers caused pain in this case there is a different kind of manipulation. It seems to be hinting at the idea that the brain is a gateway between the mental (spiritual/non-physical) and the physical. A device whereby the one effects the other.
The statement that “we are conscious” isn’t quite accurate. Rather there is a consciousness of us or I. Everything that makes you you, that is an active being with preferences and patterns of behavior are things you are aware of. Consciousness needs to be there before there can be a you.
There is a passage in the Upanishads that describes the relationship between you and consciousness:
“There are two birds, two sweet friends, who dwell on the self-same tree. The one eats the fruits thereof, and the other looks on in silence.”
The puzzle of consciousness isn’t so much in defining it – it’s awareness – it’s in the question “what is it that is consciousness?”. It seems that any conceivable answer is going to be something that we are conscious of and therefore it couldn’t be the answer. It’s a lot like consciousness is the light-beam of a light-house and no matter where it turns it cannot find itself.