It may be argued that only one Consciousness actually exists in the universe, and that individual minds are merely "local," or individual manifestations of the One. Let us consider what this implies.
In the following when I refer to a "state of consciousness," I mean that at least one mind is conscious. When I refer to "a state of unconsciousness," I mean that no mind is conscious.
Logically there are only two options: either a state of consciousness exists, or, if not, a state of unconsciousness comes into being. Suppose for some reason we wanted to prevent a state of unconsciousness from coming into being. The only way to achieve this would be to have a state of consciousness to begin with, and then maintain this state of consciousness indefinitely. On the other hand, if we wanted to prevent a state of consciousness from coming into being, we would first of all have to have a state of unconsciousness and then maintain this unconscious state indefinitely. If, in the former case, we were to cease to maintain consciousness, a state of unconsciousness would necessarily come into being. Remember, logically we have only two options: either a state of consciousness exists or else a state of unconsciousness comes into being, and vice versa.
There is a certain problem with the second scenario, in which a state of unconsciousness is maintained. When we speak of maintaining something, we are, in effect, acknowledging the existence of a present which is maintained--a persistent present. As discussed in "The Theory of Persistence," however, there can be no present without consciousness: the present is consciousness-dependent.
A state of unconsciousness can come into being only if there exists a persistent present. But since a persistent present cannot exist without consciousness, we must conclude the following: a state of unconsciousness can never come into being--it can never exist.
Since unconsciousness can never occur, logically consciousness must always exist. The problem here is that the human mind is only finite in duration: the existence of human minds does not satisfy the requirement that consciousness always exist. We must assume that, in addition to all finite minds, there exists an infinite mind--one that must always have existed and will remain to exist (persist) indefinitely. If we do not assume the existence of this infinite consciousness, we do not satisfy the requirement that consciousness always exist. An infinite consciousness (God?), therefore, exists in the universe of logical necessity.
Certainly, since consciousness is time, consciousness must exist at all times (that is, at all times that time exists). Interestingly, it may be argued that the absence of time--the absence of consciousness--is not a state of affairs that can be meaningfully conceptualized. It may be maintained that any meaningful discussion of existence needs to be restricted to times when time exists. The requirement that consciousness "always" exist is therefore satisfied even if consciousness exists for a finite period. And an infinite consciousness need not exist in the universe.
The Theory of
Persistence: Part One
Temporal Passage: Geometric Considerations
Evolution, Time and Mind