You can gain a glimpse of enlightenment with a simple exercise. Close your eyes and imagine a beautiful sunset over the ocean. See the colors as vividly as possible; catch the shining glint of the sun off the water. Now open your eyes. Did you see the sunset?
That picture was not in your brain. If we looked inside your brain, we would find electrochemical reactions coursing through synaptic networks. There are no images inside the brain that match what our eyes see. There isnít the slightest glimmer of light inside the visual cortex. But when you close your eyes and imagine a sunset, you donít experience electrochemical reactions.
Where, then, is the picture of the sunset you saw? It exists not in your brain but in consciousness. The same holds true if you try to imagine anything with your five senses Ė the smell of a rose, the sound of a newborn baby crying, the soft texture of velvet, or a full-blown kiss on the lips. There are no sights or sounds or tastes or smells in your brain, only a dark silence flickering with faint electrical impulses and chemical exchanges. Every sensation exists in consciousness alone.
Now extend this awareness to your body. You experience your body as a series of sensations Ė the weight of your limbs, the in and out of your breathing, the thumping rhythm of your heart when you run. But, once again, none of these sensations can be found in your brain. Therefore, your body also exists in your consciousness. There is nowhere else to experience it.
Now ask the ultimate question: Where do you exist? If the world cannot be found inside your brain, the same is even more true for you. Yet you know you have a self. To find it, you must think outside the brain, in fact outside time and space. You are pure consciousness, which has no location in time and space.
Adapted from The Ultimate Happiness Prescription, by Deepak Chopra (Harmony Books, 2009).