Consciousness - the final frontier. It is the essence of who we are, what we experience, and what we choose. From fundamental to emergent theories, the answers have become increasingly reductive. In some respects, the pursuit of consciousness is the ultimate metacognition: a mind examining itself. No matter your stance (fundamental, emergent, or combined), there is no escaping the fact that consciousness exists and that it is a part of the natural universe. Whether or not it is extinguished upon death is irrelevant in that respect.
I regularly examine the workings of my own mind. The laboratory between my ears is the best space in which I can work. Sometimes this involves shutting the mind down or suppressing the ego. I don't mean this in a self-important way, just the sense of self sometimes needs to disappear to see clearly. It is a most difficult task but very fruitful. I have learned a few methods to achieve this, all of which require a good deal of work, at least in my case. I have achieved some proficiency at it but this fades quickly without regular practice.
My paternal grandfather was a psychiatrist. I watched him arise at 5:00 am every morning, retire to his study, and write for two to three hours. The resulting book was Excuse for Living, a treatise on consciousness, from whence it springs, and what it may mean. It must be genetic because I this topic has intrigued me since my teens. I hope to better understand this thing called "me" and thereby gain a new appreciation of this world.
I have always been interested in consciousness but more recently, my interest has intensified. I lost both my children in separate incidences. The emotional holes left drove me to understand what I - and they - had lost. I don't know if understanding will help but it fills my time and gives me a passion that keeps me from the pain a bit.
I have given myself to discovering the truth, no matter how inconvenient it may be. While it would be wonderful to accept the prospects of heaven, I will follow the evidence where it takes me. If some empirical evidence contradicts a dear belief, I best let go of it rather than having it pulled from my bleeding hands. I take this to every level of my life - personal, philosophical, professional, and spiritual.
I seriously doubt I will ever arrive at anything empirical that provides overarching meaning - such as the number "42". There is too much to know, too much to discover. For me, it's more about the journey than the destination. Struggling up a tall summit brings greater joy to the vista.