Memory, Consciousness, and Coma – Sadhguru at Harvard Medical School

Two years ago we were in a conversation with Sadhguru and I asked him we all know that anaesthesia works but we really don’t know how it works and can you shed some light on it? and he talked to me briefly and then he said a statement which is.. “anesthesia…” correct me if I’m wrong Sadhguru because sometimes I may be wrong if I’m quoting you specifically “Anesthesia cannot touch consciousness it can only take away memory” I was blown away by that answer because that’s not the way we think consciousness of and maybe I thought several days I’ve had sleepless nights thinking about maybe it’s time for us to redefine the term consciousness itself and having gone through several programs with him I think some glimpses here and there to know that there’s much more than what we know of that’s how this started and So Emory you are the one who has been doing a lot of work in this area so you can probably start off telling me what we know now of how anesthesia actually causes loss of consciousness Okay, so I’ll start and so again, it’s a it’s a pleasure to share this stage with Sadhguru and with Niko So, you know, how does anesthesia work? Actually, how many people here had anesthesia? Great topic, right? Yeah, great.

Right. [Sadhguru – lot of clients out there] exactly right. All right. All right. Fantastic So what happened to you? You know, some people say we turn the brain off or we you know, we make you unconscious we put you in a coma but I think though so we’ve tried to really understand what’s happened and We’ve done this by doing a number of studies in humans as well as in animals And so I’ll just give you the the quick back of the envelope way to think about it when you take the anesthesia drugs or when they’re given to you by the Anesthesiologist the brain isn’t turned off. You know, it’s not like all of a sudden the switch flips If you look at what happens to the brain, it’s actually in a highly highly Dynamic state it’s really the actual circuits in the brain isolating they’re creating waves and to give you some sense of this if you look at my hands like this and they’re Oscillating now.

This is the way your brain is in a normal state of Forgiveme consciousness, right? All right As I understand in my little limited way all right, all right but then what happens is the drugs take over the circuits and Now the circuits oscillate like this and as long as you keep the drugs there they’re doing that Now, what does that mean? It means that if this brain area was communicating with that brain area so that you could be conscious it can no longer do that When you turn the drugs off the brain returns as long as you keep the drugs on it it does this it creates these oscillations it’s very much like this YouTube video, which I’m sure some of you have seen where You have a bridge in Tacoma Washington. I know if you’ve seen this the bridge and Tacoma Washington and all of a sudden You know that it starts to Oscillate in a perfect sine wave just like this and no traffic can go across the bridge it’s the same thing that happens under anesthesia and What happens is that these oscillations because they’re so strong They take over the brain they’re not natural and Remember one of the things that Baba mentioned was that after anesthesia our brains often don’t work the way they they did beforehand so now you can see if you’ve been in a state like this for four hours six hours eight hours and You know, look I got my AARP card about 12 years ago myself.

So I’m in that category too, right? You know, you can understand why your brain may not work, right? So And and basically that’s it And what’s good about that? What’s good about what I’m telling you is that we as anesthesiologists can see this state we can see it on the EEG of patients in the operating room and we can use it to Change the way we deliver our drugs. That’s the practical the practical implication of this and Then the other practical implication of it Is that as we take anesthesia? seriously In other words, don’t say oh we just give you drugs and you go away and you come back As we take it seriously and study it Then we can start interacting with our neurology colleagues and make links between problems that they’re working on.

We can actually begin to have Conversations with you know, distinguished individuals like like Sadhguru who can help us understand. What is it? We’re actually doing on a deeper level But if we haven’t taken what we do seriously in terms of how what’s happening in the brain we’re not in that position and that’s what I’d like to think that we’re trying to move the you know, the research now to In other words use anesthesia the study of anesthesia to help us Connect with some of these deeper ideas about the brain the mind and also consciousness Family do you have any thoughts on that? What we work on as neurologists or what I work on is very related and very very connected in that. We’re trying to understand how Patients who lose consciousness because they’ve had a structural brain injury or a cardiac arrest or some other kind of problem can reestablish the process of a Conscious state in a brain that’s been injured and what are the rules of the recovery? And what are the ways in which it can happen or where the limitations? and how do people get stuck along the way and could we help them and it turns out that there’s a lot of variation Said guru Dr.

Brown and dr. Skill Highly accomplished doctors in their areas of proficiency That I have completely unschooled So Because for me The only way I know anything I know is from my own experience. So My language and my expression could be a bit abrasive Or if it seems abrasive Please part of me because I’m nearly illiterate So This first of all The nature of the language that we are speaking I’m talking about English language This language is very good for describing and defining external things That is very limited when it comes to internal dimensions of many aspects of who we are So If we have to use Yogic terminology for this What you’re referring to as consciousness? is Considered as geography that means wakefulness We do not consider wakefulness as consciousness Wakefulness is the state of the body Wakefulness is the state of the mind wakefulness is the state of the bio energies within us But that’s not consciousness What you’re seeing as physical body Well, one thing I would like to clarify is We do not look as brain as a very significant aspect because we see intelligence is right across this is Generally in most people’s understanding I believe a Combination of memory and intelligence is considered as mind If you take this as a definition It is a fact that Every cell in our body carries millions of for much more memory than the entire brain can carry because These cells in the body Remember even what happened a million years ago.

It remembers the skin tone of your forefathers from a million years Nothing has changed It never gets confused So what you can have in the brain has conscious memory compared to what every cell or every day name is carrying is phenomenally more and The chemical dimension of what is being conducted in every cell is far more complex than you could ever figure with your entire brain so both in terms of intelligence and memory The spread is much more.

I think this entire focus on brain has come mainly because somewhere probably Pre-renaissance time we Broke into this because that region largely we’re talking about Europe Where it was hugely dominated by very dogmatic belief systems When people broke through that nobody was supposed to think for themselves. Everything is were already said and done When people grope through that and started thinking for themselves Thinking little really look like absolute liberation for those people and I think that hangover still lost In our education systems in our medical sciences in the very wave approaching even fundamental sciences That hangover that thought is everything is very profound Influencing our social structure and our way of exploration In in the yogic sciences We don’t attach any significance to your thought whatever you are thinking it’s of no consequence to me This is why I whatever somebody is saying we don’t listen to them We we just fill them We just fill them what is their chemistry? What is their how they are right now? I don’t care what they are saying this is how Maybe it’s an evolutionary problem with me because I have been in jungles by myself And I’ve seen most preachers judge.

You just like this. I Know I think they showed a picture of me having a king cobra. I have been very closely involved with all kinds of creatures particularly Cobras and things their sense of our chemistry is so clean You can just go in the wild and just pick up a cobra as you saw I’m not holding him by his hand He’s not a pet Cobra. He’s a king cobra If you bite you he won’t give you more than twenty to forty minutes before you’re done But I’m just picking him up like this He will do nothing because he is feeling my chemistry if I show little agitation he’ll go for me If if I’m just okay, he’s fun with me so We don’t attach any significance to thought because thought is recycling of the data that we’ve already gathered No thought can come which is absolutely fresh permutations and combinations of the data that we already have Right. Now a lot of people coming up to me very fearfully and saying Sadhguru this artificial intelligence is coming if they come they will take over the I Said if they take over and run the damn thing you’re in a holiday, isn’t it? But it is a fact that everything that we can gather as Information analyzed and expressed and use it in many ways All these things machines will be doing it better than us in the next 10 to 15 years time Everything that is data based processing machines will do way better than us So there is this fear.

I think it’s a very good time. This is the time we need to explore an intelligence beyond intellect Because we have become so intellectual We have become so grain oriented in our approach to everything as you rightly said Nothing is really turned off. We’ve just broken the communication after all the purpose is to go through Something which is generally extremely painful Without pain that is how the entire anaesthetic Scientists come up. So you just breaking the communication and that’s not happening itself that purpose so being wakeful and being conscious are two different things if we This is described madness for wakefulness, we have a world or a chocolate Jagrata means you’re awake If 10 people, let’s have it example of 10 people they all fell asleep don’t do it. Ok They all fell asleep and they came awake When they come away, all of them will not be equally awake One person may be instantly awake another person might to to take two minutes as you will notice with anaesthesia or sure Another person will take an hour to wake up. Another person needs a strong coffee. Otherwise, she won’t wake up right Like this different levels of big fulness is also there professionals must have noticed In fact, in fact the first few minutes of the day can be like that different levels and wake wakefulness in a classroom So this is geography So we are calling wakefulness as consciousness.

Now, the next dimension of consciousness is called Swapna this means a dream state a Dream state is far more vivid than wakeful state for most human beings It’s like on your cinema if you go to a cinema The key factor of the impact of the cinema on you is turning off the lights This is something most people don’t understand If you don’t turn off the lights Cinema will be no good. It doesn’t matter how well it’s made turn on the lights and watch the cinema You will see a great cinema becomes nothing So turning off the lights is important So turning off the lights in our experiences the eyelids you down the shutters the world is off Now you start your own world. So Dream state is like a cinema. It’s far more Impactful people love their cinema stars more than the people that they lived with for 25 years But they have not even seen them All they saw is play of light and sound but that is far more impactful simply because lights are off So Island is that if you rolling down that should be off well should be closed But right now the problem is this Mental faculty has not been taken charge off.

So it’s running wild all the time with eyes closed So this dream state is considered a more powerful state than geography Geography or wakefulness is important for performing action in the world But for human consciousness in terms of profoundness of experience Dream is always more profound than walking on the street It’s most of your experiences. The next state is called as a soup thick Soup tea means it is a dreamless State But there are dimensions of consciousness that you are aware of It’s a totally dreamless sleep state, but you are aware There is no picturization. There is no video running in your mind. There’s no pictures. There’s no people there are no words, but You’re conscious in your sleep. This is a very powerful state if you really want to manifest something in your life This is something to be explored.

And the next one is called as Toria. This is consciousness Where there is no memory involved of any kind? Essentially in the yogic sciences. We are looking at consciousness as an intelligence beyond memory if there is memory Memory is considered a boundary in a sense This is one person This is another person Simply because this embodies one kind of memory and that embodies another kind of memory. This has become one kind of person This is people becomes another kind of person essentially. It is in the memory Memory does not mean just what I remember and you remember genetic memories their evolutionary memories their elemental memories their atomic memories their karmic memories their Inarticulate and articulate memories are there.

But generally we are thinking memory means consciously what we can remember but today If we dog phone will not become dogs Something within us remembers no matter what you eat This has to be only transformed into human being it doesn’t matter what you eat if you and account every day eat a mango No merger will happen perfect memory is established evolutionary memory is absolutely So these different dimensions of memory are playing on a daily basis. People are thinking their thoughts are free it’s a joke because your memory is determining everything so Largely in one single word we call this karma Karma means the residual impact of all the memory that you have how it is impacting every thought every emotion Every action the very way you shouldn’t stand See if you if you see somebody walking far away.

Let’s say half a mile away. You see someone walking If he’s your friend just the way they’re moving their body over that’s him There are seven billion plus people But this particular man walks in a unique way for rent Just do like walking everybody walks, but still it is so unique So this is what we are referring to as Karma the residual impact of memory Varieties of memory we recognize memory has eight basic forms of memory Which are determining how you are right.

Now the very way you sit stand breathe understand perceive life is determined by this memory But there is an intelligence beyond memory which we call a storia cipta This is consciousness Now every one of us is conscious the question is only of degree Even a rock is conscious a dog is conscious a pig is conscious The question is only of degree how conscious even among us how conscious is different from person to person So this degree of consciousness determines everything? Now if we have to give an analogy What is memory is like I’m sure every one of us at some stage in our life I don’t know if you’re still doing it. We blue soap bubbles did hello. Come on everybody raise their hand for anesthesia So when you blow soap bubble The soap part of it, which is very little just a tiny drop The large part of it is air that it captures So how big a bubble? And your children who can blow the biggest bubble was a big deal and it has an amount of Technique.

Yes, how you do it somebody blew this big bubble. Somebody got only this much So how big a bubble this bubble is like this the kind of soap and how it gathers is your memory it forms a it gives it a form but when the memory bursts There is no such thing as your air and my hair there is no such thing as your consciousness and my consciousness There is something called as your body and my body there is something called as your memory and my memory there is something called as your Intellect and my intellect but there is nothing called as your consciousness and my consciousness How much of it did you capture? How big is your bubble will determine the scale of your life? The scale and possibilities of your life are determined by how big a bubble did you blow? Okay You.

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