The talk outlines the ways in which both ordinary experiences and mystical experiences are reflexive, supporting the view that we are manifestations of a self-observing universe. We address fundamental confusions that prevent a clear understanding of how consciousness relates to the world described by physics, the relationship of consciousness to mind, and the relationship of consciousness to self. Finally, we touch on how consciousness relates to matter/energy within the primordial nature of the ground of being, and the various ways in which that can be known. For useful background reading see Velmans (2021) Is the Universe Conscious? Reflexive Monism and the Ground of Being. For an introduction to Max’s own personal journey, see also Only connect: A personal journey into consciousness.
Max Velmans is an Emeritus Professor of Psychology, Goldsmiths, University of London, a fellow of the British Psychological Society and the Academy of the Social Sciences and has been involved in consciousness studies for around 50 years. His main research focus is on integrating work on the philosophy, cognitive psychology, and neuropsychology of consciousness, and, more recently, on East–West integrative approaches. He has over 130 publications on these topics. His book Understanding Consciousness (2000, 2nd ed. 2009) develops Reflexive Monism, an integrated analysis of consciousness. Other recent publications include Consciousness (2018) (a four-volume collection of major works), Towards a Deeper Understanding of Consciousness (2017), and the co-edited Blackwell Companion to Consciousness (2007, 2nd ed. 2017). He was a Fulbright Scholar at UC Berkeley in 1984, a co-founder and 2004–06 chair of the Consciousness and Experiential Psychology Section of the British Psychological Society, and an Indian Council of Philosophical Research National Visiting Professor for 2010–11.