"Adau Bhagavan Shabda rasahi: in the beginning, the Lord created the universe through a stream of sound." ~Vedas

Before the invention of thoughts
we sang ourselves
to sleep.
The day melted back
into humming,
the humming into silence,
silence into a breath
of the Beloved.
Of course the stars
were not yet born,
and the moon was still inside you.
Lay your head
on my shoulder now.
Listen with all
your heart,
and I will teach you

Om is too stuffy, just Hum like a bee. Humming is not only the prayer that creates worlds from silence, it will strengthen your immune system. A gentle hum stimulates your vagus nerve, that tree of life in the center of the garden of your body, the burning bush of neurological fire that Moses saw in the Cloud of Unknowing on Mount Horeb, from whose flames the voice of the formless resonated 10 Sefiroth, world-shaping angels, usually mistaken as "commandments" by humless intellects trapped in a fruitless tangle of opposites, which is that other tree, the knowledge of good and evil, black and white, male and female. Forget the opposite, just Hum. Let your Hum sink down into your heart where it becomes the holy Name, the river of sound that sang galaxies into matter out of the black hole of womb silence. Your Hum is the song of Brahmari the bee Goddess,  vibrating through your skull hive, soothing your hypothalamus, opening the almond fragrance of your amygdala, lighting the chandelier of your pituitary in the ballroom at the center of your brain, polishing the blue pineal pearl whose arrow of Shakti opens your forehead eye. Let all your cells make golden honey of the Hum, dripping down the back of your throat into the subterranean temple of your chest, flowing into the grail that sits on the alter of your sternum. Hum stars through your bellybutton. Hum sap through your root. Humyoni humballs hum moonlight into seeds. Hum through amphibious caverns of your body where unborn suns sleep. Hum.


The little poem at the beginning is from my book, 'Nectar Of This Breath.'
The painting is 'Honeymoon Bhramari' by Mani Price.

Savor This Breath


"Savor every inch of breath in your body." ~Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

One inhalation is incalculable abundance. This breath, an influx of wonder, brings more revelation that the Bible, the Qur'an, or the Vedas, because it is their source. Every inspired text or prophecy springs from the silence where this breath is born, and to which it returns.

To delight in this breath is the end of war. To delight in this breath is the end of consumerism and craving. When we savor each breath, our needs are few. When our needs are few, we exploit no one. We can walk softly over the earth, tasting every step in the present moment, the green in the grass, the murmur of a tree frog. Walking this walk, we are free to live simply, sustainably, without preaching or politicking about it.

Wherever we stand is holy ground (Exodus 3:5). Let's remove our shoes, and notice that we do not 'take' a breath, it is given. This is the origin of worship. For the span of a single inhalation, which encircles the heart of eternity, repose in true wealth, then offer it back to the Giver. So'ham.

When we make conscious the unconscious miracle of an ordinary breath, we awaken Adam from the dust again, and sip the wine of the Spirit from the grail in each cell of our body.

Photo: New blossoms right outside my window.


I am the day star
floating in the blues
two inches
in front of your
solar plexus.
When it gets
soft enough, your
exhalation fathoms
my vast sky.
No effort, no image,
nothing to believe,
just dissolve
the concept of distances.
The sun that rises
in the East and sets
in the West is only
the mist of breathing
on mirror-like awareness.
The radiance
is less than one
trillionth of the width
of a hair beneath
this thought.
If you want to
heal the earth
or gently massage
the ointment of peace
into the wound of God,
then bask
in who you Are.

Photo from Surfer Today Magazine!

Bridal Chamber

“Adorn yourself as a bride awaiting her bridegroom so that you may be what I am and I may be what you are. Place the seed of Light in your bridal chamber. Receive the bridegroom from me and contain him and be contained by him. Behold, grace has come upon you.” ~Valentinus

The bridal chamber is the Holy of Holies.... In Christ’s breath, we experience a new embrace. We are no longer in duality, but in unity.... All will be clothed in light who enter the mystery of this sacred embrace.... What is the Bridal Chamber if not the place of consciousness and trust in the embrace?” ~Gnostic Gospel of Philip

There's a feast between your nipples.
I think it's a wedding.
Powerful vows are spoken here.
The sun is betrothed to the moon.
Amazement gives thanks
as a father gives the bride.
Those who say “I do” get crushed,
danced on like grapes, and changed
into what they were thirsting for.
It doesn't matter if you’ve lost your invitation.
Just show up.
The doorkeeper will let you in.
Tell him, "I'm homeless and parched.
I only came for the last best jug of wine.”
Now this doorkeeper is God,
who is very very lazy.
All he does all day is let people in
like a mirror.
Just give him a steady gaze
until you see the ancient smile
of your own belly,
playful as the turquoise curve of eternity.
In your next inhalation, feel
the rose-gold garment of grace upon you
and enter the Bridal Chamber,
this vine-tangled chuppa under your lungs,
where you seek the kiss that Jesus sought,
the press of the Magdalene’s wild hair
upon his chest.
There’s a chalice on the alter of your breastbone,
the cup of annihilation
containing the wine of kisses.
O friend, the grail is this moment
between out-breath and in,
where clustered galaxies are crushed
and you can taste the ferment of all lips.
You say “emptiness,” She says “creation.”
You cry "chaos," She whispers "green."
You call it falling, She catches you
in a bouquet of hummingbirds.
Beneath this absence of noises
there's another kind of silence:
The throb of her fingers on the lute of your spine,
the murmur of roses in the breath of dawn,
the rattle of their thorns.
Here's the secret Gnosis all find but forget.
The Bride and her Lover are inside you.
Take off the veil of doubting, see in the dark.
Leave a solitude where they can touch,
and you will meet them everywhere:
Jesus speaking your name so softly,
the way he said “Mary” in the garden,
Mary answering in the language of herbs,
cedar sigh and dragonfly wings,
moan of the holy earthworm.
Come as you are, like any tiny creature
with giant crystal eyes,
your own entanglement of gravity and grace.
Then you’ll remember, sure enough,
it's your wedding!

LISTEN to this poem. I read it at the end of the international conference on 'Mary Magdalene and the Tree of Life,' sponsored by Mythica Foundation. The stained glass window is from Kilmore Church, Isle of Mull, Scotland.

How She Works

This is how She works.
Beneath the polished veneer

of patriarchy-orthodoxy-hierarchy, 
She weaves her tribe of dark roots braided
into the roots of others.

You know you are a member of her species

when you pass through a portal of aloneness
to the All, entangled in All.

You will never gather her complete collected works,
only shreds of lost broken scrolls,

half-glimpsed intuitions, after-images
of flame extinguished in the dark,
secret longings of a tongue for the Spirit
and the Spirit for a tongue,

the pang and purity of every desire.
This is how She works.
She yearns to exercise the hidden region
of your soul, which is your body.

The labyrinth of your neurons
is a golden scripture of illegible fire,
her Newest Testament.
You are not like any other book.

You fall directly from the mouth of God,
like spittle in the clay.

The phases of her moon do not repeat themselves.
She invites you to drown in the apocalypse

of the ancient now.
She keeps no ledger,
profits on one page, debts on another.

She beckons you into the desert
and makes your spine a pillar of silence.
This is how She works.
Her revelation is a network of mushrooms

spreading ointment while others sleep.

A wolf pack hungry for raw metaphors.

A congregation of owls
who celebrate their hunt in soundlessness.

The belly-rending howl of mother coyote
centering the night.
Her nakedness is feral, lethal, lovely, reveling
in slivers, shards stained with the blood
of her light, the wine of her solitude.
This is how we weave her again,

through the work of remembering,

recalling ourselves
through the fragments we are.

LISTEN to a reading of this poem.

Art by Tatiana Nikolova-Houston, a Bulgarian devotee of Mary Magdalene whose paintings we celebrated at the recent conference
on 'Mary Magdalene and the Tree of Life' by Mythica Foundation.

To The Garden

Whose breath rolled the stone away?
Who entered the tomb to discover
brightness in the vacuum?
It was you.
You who opened the sepulcher of silence,
troubling the sun that sleeps in bone dust.
Before first light in the garden of your body,
hear the sound of the Magdalene's breath.
Mistake it for a thrush, for that too is wisdom,
just as She mistakes her Beloved for a gardener.
And when you're bewildered enough,
She'll whet the blade of your inhalation,
cleaving your ripe heart in two,
one chamber for her, the other for you.
Resonance demands a wounding.

Now the dead poet, Jesus,
wanders through this vineyard of bruises
plucking remnants of the harvest
from the trellis in your ribs.
He is famished, unhoused.
He wants his bone hammer back,
to be a carpenter again.
Isn't it time to let him know
what he has become:
the nameless warmth in your marrow,
generous as morning?
You are the bud, he is the season.
The invisible nectar of his lips
has empowered you.
His faintest exhalation makes the Eye
of Andromeda condense
like mist on the windowpane
of your abyss.
You are his whisper now,
your quietest prayer a whirler
of constellations.
You are the sound that the Magdalene hears
in the garden at dawn
when she is too amazed to answer.
You call her with the music
of the clustered hive,
the honey-makers murmuring,
“Ameen, Ameen.”
Your task is only to surrender,
pervade, un-imagine distances.
You are the way to the garden now.
You are the opening of the gate
that was never closed.

This poem was read today at the international conference on Mary Magdalene and the Tree of Life, sponsored by Mythica Foundation, 2/19/23. Painting of Magdalene by Caravaggio.

Perfect Morning

Isn't this is a perfect morning
to bow before your body?
A perfect morning to
touch your foot and say,
"Forgive me, I'm sorry"?
Isn't this a perfect morning
to caress your heart with
a feathered breath,
and love who you already are
instead of who you must become?
Isn't this a perfect morning
to fix yourself a cup of tea
and serve it to your lips?
To wander into your back yard,
pick yourself a sprig
of blossoming plum and
place it in a vase, a jar will do,
and say, "Why thank you, friend"?
When you gaze into
that spindle of pollen,
doesn't it become the whorl
of a trillion suns
just for you?
Isn't this a perfect morning
to honor yourself
so deeply in the stillness
between heartbeats
that you become the sky?
And all your enemies disappear
so quietly, so softly,
because they were never there.

Painting: Bird with Plum Blossom, Zang Ruoai

Mystery of the Magdalene

You cannot enter the mystery of the Magdalene without entering the mystery of healing. You cannot enter the mystery of the Magdalene without entering the numb places in your bones, the places that most discomfit you. And the mystery is, you cannot heal your own marrow without healing the earth. Are there not grottos in your body where you meet the Magdalene alone, gazing into her candle of prayer? You may not find her at the yoga retreat in Bali, in the ashram at Big Sur, or surrounded by roses, sitting on a dais in white robes before 10,000 chanting devotees. She falls dustward in teardrops, spilling from the broken half-moon onto rubble of ruined apartments in Turkey, after the earthquake. She flows through dead lead water pipes of underground Detroit. She wades across the Rio Grande, clutching someone's baby, hoping not to be sent back. Don’t imagine that she seeks justice, for justice is not enough. Justice divides the righteous from the damned, separates white from black, woman from man. Justice is in love with blame. But Mary holds everyone accountable for everything, bearing in her flesh the wounds of all sentient creatures. Mary is the salt of compassion in the weeping of those who lose hope. Mary feels the green in darkness. And in her gentlest breath, Mary offers the Beloved all the pain we cannot carry.

The elder Magdalene with Jesus' women disciples, by Sue Ellen Parkinson.
I read this meditation today at the international conference on Mary Magdalene
and the Tree of Life, sponsored by Mythica Foundation, 2/18/23.

Shamanic Yoga & Self-Awakening

      Ancient Celtic figure of Cernunos, showing him as Shaman, Yogi, and Prajapati,  
       the original tribal Shiva, 'Lord of the Creatures.'

Two words much bandied about these days are "Shamanism" and "Yoga." When we demystify their vocabulary, what they mean is very simple: Self-empowerment. These are really one wisdom with different cultural roots. Shamanic Yoga provides us with techniques to derive life-force from our own embodiment, so that we no longer seek life from an external hierarchy, institution, or religious authority.

In finding this inner empowerment, the Shaman or Guru is the guide who ignites us, but we ourselves are the source, the fuel for the journey, and the goal. This is completely antithetical to all systems of religion that demand our dependency on the mediation of priests and ministers. The goal of Shamanic Yoga is not to find a savior or mediator, but to awaken im-mediate contact with the Divine.

The techniques of Shamanism and Yoga are essential to the birth of a new humanistic spirituality, freed forever from priestly authority. The techniques given by Yogis and Shamans empower us from within, reconnect us with our sacred bodies, and make us each an authority over our own spirit.

The great Yogis of India and Tantric Masters of Tibet were Shamans. The Shamans of ancient Ireland were Yogis, as are the Shamans of Siberia and Native America today. Shamanism is simply the science of Yoga in its indigenous earth-centered form.

The essence of Shamanic Yoga is the divine Mother-Energy or Shakti. Fully awakened, this energy is rooted in the earth, rises through the sacred tree of our spine, and blossoms among the stars. Our human body is created to be the conductor of this sacred electricity, a lightning rod connecting earth and sky.

But just as misguided teachers of religion divide East from West with an imaginary line, they also divide heaven from earth with an artificial boundary. So-called scholars teach us to see an opposition between the patriarchal Sky God and the earthen Mother Goddess below. Some feminist scholars have constructed a view of history in which the patriarchal Sky God, representing transcendental consciousness, invaded and repressed the original culture of the Earth Mother, representing human embodiment. In this dualistic telling of religious history, we must choose between oppressive patriarchal religion and liberating earth-centered religion. Yet this dualistic approach only drives a deeper wedge between our spirit and our body.

Through the practices of Shamanic Yoga, the polar forces of male and female are united within each individual, as spirit is integrated with matter. Whether we speak of Yin and Yang, Shiva and Shakti, Yahweh and Shekinah, Isis and Osirus, or Christ and the Magdalene, we are really seeking harmonious realignment with our own hearts.

According to the Gnostic Gospels of the Nag Hammadi library, Jesus taught Shamanic Yoga. His partner may have been Mary Magdalene. These early Christians practiced the realignment of the male and female energies in the sacrament of the Bridal Chamber, an interior union in the chamber of the heart.
"Then the bridegroom came down to the bride.... But that marriage is not like the carnal marriage... They unite and become one life, for they were originally joined to one another when they were in the Father... This marriage has brought them back together again, and the soul has been joined to her true love." ~Exegisis of the Soul
"Jesus said to them, When you make the two into one, making the inner like the outer and the outer like the inner and the upper like the lower, and you make male and female into a single one... then you shall enter the kingdom." ~Gnostic Gospel of Thomas
"In the Breath of Christ, we experience a new embrace: we are no longer in duality, but in unity." ~Gnostic Gospel of Philip 
The same union of male and female energies is the real purpose of Hatha Yoga. "Ha" refers to the solar force, the symbolic male; "Tha" refers to the lunar force, the symbolic female, as they intertwine around the spine in two channels, "Ida" and "Pingala." When these forces are united, they flow as one divine nectar up the central channel of the spine, the "Sushumna."

Shamanic Yoga is holistic spirituality, embracing the human body as the nexus of God-Consciousness. Yogic and Shamanic techniques return our wandering spirit to our flesh, sanctify our senses, and make our bodies temples again. In Shamanic Yoga we do not have to choose between spirit and matter: we simply dye the garment of the flesh with the radiance of God...
Every act an offering, every breath a prayer,
Every home a temple, every heart a priest:
So in each shall be increased
The Mystery that is everywhere...
Shamanic Yoga gives us time-tested techniques for breaking the shell of illusion and awakening the Radiant Self. We honor ancient traditions that hand these techniques down to us, but we don't need to "believe" in them. We can taste and see for ourselves whether they work. We honor our teachers, shamans and gurus, but we don't need to forfeit our spiritual power to any savior or religious authority. In the final words of the Buddha, "Be a light unto yourself."

Shamanic Yoga is a way of liberation for the coming age. And the whole point of it is simply this: authority comes from within.


Prior to awakening, the energy of the Goddess Shakti lies in embryonic sleep at the base of our spine. She is the coiled serpent of wisdom signified in ancient myths - the dragon in China, the Kundalini in India, the Snake Goddess Hecate in Asia Minor, the twined snakes on the Cadeucus of Hermes, which became the sign of Western medicine. We also see this potent serpentine force in the Staff of Moses, and Jesus referred to her when he told his disciples, "Be wise as serpents and gentle as doves." In the Wisdom literature of the late Old Testament, and in Jewish mystical tradition, she is Hochma, which is a feminine power, associated with both the Holy Spirit and the Shekinah, the feminine aspect of God.

Originally associated with the earth Goddess, the serpent wisdom was often depicted as coiled about the Tree of Life, a symbol of the human spine. Or the serpent was held in the hands of the Goddess, as in the figure of Hecate above. In the Genesis myth, the author distorts this ancient symbolism, turning the "pagan" serpent of wisdom into a dangerous seductive power. This portrayal of the serpent not only contradicts the wisdom literature of the world, but other images of the serpent in the Bible. The association of the serpent with evil in the Garden of Eden is only a brief digression in the history of religious symbolism.

Why are such ambivalent feelings associated with this serpent force? Why does she invoke a sense  of danger as well as wisdom? Note even in the Biblical story of Eden, how Eve's "temptation" is not a temptation to sensuality, but to Knowledge! I would suggest that this is not a conspiracy to suppress the feminine, but a legitimate wariness about awakening a force that we may not be able to handle.

In our embryonic consciousness, neither our mind nor our nervous system are ready to be conductors of such divine electricity. For, as the Bible says, “the divine is a consuming fire,” and “it is terrifying to fall into the hands of the living God.” Or Goddess!

Awakening the Kundaline Shakti prematurely, we could be overcome with confusion or even mental illness . The divine Shakti is a form of Kali. When she uncoils her wild dance and rises up the tree of our spine, we had better be ready for the shattering. 

Thus she lies coiled and latent in the root chakra at the base of the spine. And the whole field of Maya, or illusion, is actually created by our own mind as a protective shield, or shell, so that we are not overwhelmed by her.

Yes, we create the shell of Mayic illusion as a sheath of protection. We create this Maya out of our storehouse of mental images, our memory. We project these thoughts through our senses into what we perceive as our "world." 

But the shell of Maya is not the living world of divine energy, the radiant green earth which is our true Garden of Eden. Maya is only the world that our mind super-imposes on the radiance of creation. This act of mental projection has dominated our culture for thousands of years, making us slaves of our own minds, suppressing our intuition, and keeping us in exile from the dazzling revelations of the living earth.

We use our mental images like sunglasses to protect ourselves from the overwhelming beauty and fire of nature. And where our native Shamanic awareness would see the living gods in herbs and trees, the “civilized” mind sees dead lumber, paper, commodity and profit to be made in the market.

Here we must understand that the problems of "worldliness" and "materialism" do not arise from the material nature. Matter is holy energy. It is "Mater," the Mother. All that religions call “worldliness” arises in the mind, as insatiable and restless desire. We super-impose our internal world of desire onto the earth, often with devastating consequences.

But because the world that we see is only the projection of our past karma, worldy problems can never be solved in the world. Their cause can never be located. These apparent problems - whether social, political or economic - form a circular web of cause and effect without beginning or end. The web of karma never changes its patterns, because objects perceived are all made of thought, and thought is the repetition of past perception. And so it goes, ad infinitum.


At some point in this karmic morass of cause and effect, which circles on through many lifetimes, we start to feel a bit hopeless. But what is hopelessness? It is disillusionment. And what is disillusionment? Awakening from illusion. We begin to experience a healthy dissatisfaction with Maya. A crucial insight dawns in us: the future will never be anything but a repetition of the past. 

Thus we give up hope. And there is no greater step toward wisdom than to give up hope in the future, since this empowers us to dwell in the present.

Dwelling in Presence gives us courage, courage to behold the truth that sets us free: this outer shell of our perceived world is just a thin crust of sensory and social attraction, whose glamor we have created out of our own past desires. The world is an old movie on a screen, and we are so absorbed in the moving pictures we cannot even see the screen.

Now, like the author of the Biblical book of Ecclesiastes, we sigh to ourselves: "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity." The Hebrew word for "vanity" is "hebel," which literally means "empty." Ecclesiastes is saying, "All forms of the world are emptiness." Is this not precisely the teaching of Buddha, whose central Heart Sutra tells us, "form is emptiness, and emptiness is form"?

At this stage, we are not only disillusioned with external forms; we also develop a healthy distrust of every political or religious system of authority. We find the honesty to admit that such institutions never really change, no matter how many “reformations” they go through, and they never actually solve the problems they claim to. Now we may turn from politics to spiritual transformation, for if the world will be changed, it must be changed from within the field of consciousness itself. 

The "unified field" at the source of all energy (to borrow a term from modern physics) is pure awareness. Our own ground-state of awareness is the seamless continuum where there is no gap between subject and object. Pure awareness is the silence of the creative void, where all forms arise and dance as a mirage in stillness. We are the field. The change we seek is us.

Note here that the outer shell of Maya is neither "good" nor "evil," but simply unsatisfying. We need not make value judgments about the world which our minds have created - about its parties, its religions, its institutions. They are all just forms, ever-changing circles of cause and effect, creating each other in patterns of polarity, pairs of opposites. One form is not "better" than another. And none hold the solution. 

The solution to all our problems is simply to shatter the shell of Maya.This seems like a stunning stroke - at once too easy and too radical. Yet it happens quite naturally, quite gently, when the time is ripe for the shell to crack and the serpent to awaken, dance, and connect us to the heavenly green radiance of the earth. 

When the shell breaks, Shakti within emerges to dance with Shakti outside. The inner and the outer are no longer two, but one continuum of divine energy. Heaven and earth, male and female, spirit and matter, no longer two but one dance. Our egoic mind has exaggerated these polarized opposites in order to develop its analytic function. But we went too far: we became stuck, fixated in arguing for differences. And our entire educational system was based on this divisive activity.

The mind-bound ego felt more alive when it argued for separation and division. But now is the time in human evolution when we can reintegrate as whole persons, merging intellect into the harmony of intuition. Time to see the all and not the parts. Intellect will continue to serve as a useful tool, but will no longer dominate as ego

When we transcend intellect through shamanic yoga, we can witness reality through the sparkling transparency of pure awareness, our vision no longer bound in a point. That means, we are no longer stuck in a "point of view," a judgment. Our vision expands like the blue sky, all-inclusive. Then real listening is possible, real love is possible.

In the sky of loving-kindness, we witness the pairs of opposites as vibrating strings in unbounded stillness. Each "pair" is really a unity, a continuum where no opposition can be found, just poles dancing with each other, arising and dissolving each moment. Now we may stop exaggerating differences between the sexes, between the political left and right, between religions, between East and West, between I and Thou, between a venison steak and a bowl of vegetables.

Clear seeing beyond opposites is the true revolution. In this revolution, no violence is ever required, only the clearing of the blue sky. 

In clear seeing, we need not be against anything. We can be for. Neither need we judge or compete: for in an energy field whose circumference is boundless, any point can be the center. The sky of love encircles all points. In the words of St. Hildegard of Bingen, "You are hugged by the mystery of God."

Friend, awaken your sacred presence. Not in a kingdom above, but here in your body. Every atom is divine. You are the light of the world, born to overflow. You have no edges. You no longer need to re-act, but to act. Don't be the effect of your world: be the cause.

There is only Yes.

Sharing My Poetry on HeartSpeak

Deep thanks to Naomi Horii for inviting me to share poetry and the healing breath on HeartSpeak, internet TV.

Pressed Down, Running Over

Give, and it will be given to you: good measure pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you. ~Luke 6:38

Leave your heart alone,
pressed down, shaken, running over.
Don't be in a hurry to heal.
This wound exudes illumination
that can only ferment in a human cask.
Something glows, pressed from each cell,
each atom of your flesh,

from every proton's molten core.
Something that overflows the bindhu
between this breath and the next one.
This is the sap, the priceless Amrit you are.
This is the nectar of Brahman,
the radiance of your Beloved.
This is the Self-born light of Christ
that dances in the beauty of Mary.
All realized souls are droplets of this

mellifluous silence beyond thought.
And all are distilled into one
ocean of love-wine.

Yet the ocean becomes the drop.
You too must perish
in these depths,
the depths become You.

By this bitter sweetness you will know
who you are,
and why you are here.
Waves of grace in a human body,
the infinity breaking on finite shores -
this is who you are.
Goddess Shakti flowing through
your scars,
touching, healing
her creatures,
using your hands,
your eyes,
your words, your breath -
this is why you are here.
Now open your chest.
In a season of grieving the blossom unfolds.
Loosen your crown, leave it tender.
Let the soles of your feet be bruised,
walking the earth so softly,
not as a landlord,
but a pilgrim.

Photo by Marney Ward, who is not only a teacher of watercolor, but a teacher of consciousness.