Click Here To Purchase Consciousness Rising

Author: Octavio A. Melo

Publisher: Fallen Leaf Publishing
ISBN: 9780578086835

Did you hear the one about the Buddhist who walks up to a hot dog vendor and says: “Make me one with everything”?

For some people, that’s about as deeply as they delve into the mystery of consciousness – making jokes about Buddhism. Most of us seem to have our hands full simply trying to remain conscious, let alone pondering its depths and dimensions. I don’t know if Octavio Melo knows many jokes, but he sure knows a lot about consciousness.

Melo’s book, Consciousness Rising: Observations on the Human Experience and the Question of What Has Greatest Value, takes as its subject that elusive human quality called “consciousness.” His book is divided into two parts, one of which I found genuinely compelling. It’s always a challenge to write about such a heady topic in accessible prose and for the most part, Melo succeeds admirably.

Part One is mostly concerned with arguing for the existence of a consciousness that is separate and apart from the physical collection of matter that comprises the human body. (Curiously, there’s been a spate of books recently on the quest to isolate consciousness, sometimes called the “God particle.” Who would’ve guessed that almost 500 years after the Enlightenment, we’d reverse course from physics back to metaphysics?) The attractive idea here is that something beyond the observably physical makes us “human.” Call it spirit, soul, divine spark, essence, or what you will, we are not simply biological machines, Melo argues. Just because science can’t measure it doesn’t mean it isn’t real.

Through a clear and systematic approach to the subject, Melo discusses how consciousness manifests itself in our individual and collective lives, engendering the subconscious desire to move up the “consciousness hierarchy” toward a purer good, a life marked by love, charity, and a genuine commitment to justice. For Melo, the historical ubiquity of God (as Yahweh, or Allah, or Nirvana, or fill-in-the-blank) is the result of an innate embrace of this hierarchy of consciousness.

I’m not sure I believe it, but that just might be the cynic in me. I tend to think that given enough time, science – true science – will be able to explain many, if not all, of those aspects of humanity that currently have been claimed by the spirituality crowd: love, laughter, self-awareness. But it’s an intriguing premise to think that there’s an entire dimension of humanity that transcends the physical realm – and perhaps death itself.

Which is why Part Two of the book somewhat disappointed me. Though not radically different than Part One, it is far more activist (dare I even say “preachy”?) regarding how people should live their lives. Having taken it as a given that we are all programmed to be better people, to seek communion with the highest consciousness possible (synonymous with God himself, the author asserts), Melo then spends a lot of his time sermonizing about the need to spend our time working for truth, justice, and the betterment of the world. Though not exactly scolding, Melo’s tone throughout becomes somewhat sanctimonious: “And when you realize that there are elements out there that confound, distort, and lead astray, how long will you wait before you recognize that it falls on you, as much as the next person, to do something about it?” There are times when his formerly-measured, scientific prose even lapses into a New Age-y patter: “If you think of yourself as a light bulb, then your duty is to shine at full wattage.”

Maybe he’s right. But I’m not sure any amount of hectoring a reader, however well meaning, will do much good. After all, when the Buddhist paid for the hot dog, he began walking away until the vendor shouted, “Hey, let me give you your change.” To which the Buddhist sagely replied: “True change can only come from within.”

Click Here To Purchase Consciousness Rising