|Awakening to Consciousness|
The intuitive mind was my original state of consciousness. But the rational emphasis in education eclipsed my birthright. To recapture The Intuitive Self, I was aided by a changing scientific perspective moving away from an exclusive rational, materialist view to include an intuitive, transcendent reality. As my perspective broadened, the breadth and depth of the intuitive experience emerged.
Three World Views
My own thinking was helped by Willis Harman's three world views or metaphysics that shape people's beliefs about reality: M-1, M-2 and M-3. The materialistic monism or M-1 view assumes matter gives rise to mind. In sharp contrast transcendental monism or M-3 assumes mind gives rise to matter. M-2 or dualism represents a middle ground assuming two fundamentally different kinds of stuff in the universe. My early education and an abortive attempt at Georgia Tech to become an engineer, placed me firmly in the M-1 camp: "It is obvious that matter is the only reality!" Perhaps not - as I slowly discovered in a search for meaning to encompass my non-rational experiences.
Julian Jaynes' philosophical musings about the bicameral mind were based on the M-1 perspective. He argued that prior to the second millennium B.C. humans were not conscious. Living out of their bicameral minds, they acted in direct unconscious response to "voices" in the mind. In Jaynes' M-1 analysis these were neurological commands from the right hemisphere. From my M-3 perspective, preconscious people lived through a direct connection with the intuitive source much as my granddaughter did during the early years of her life.
Grappling with Jaynes' ideas, I discovered the possibility that the very awareness allowing me to reflect on The Intuitive Self was the thing standing in the way of experiencing that way of being. He made the point that language was a necessary precursor to consciousness. This added insult to injury. In addition to awareness as an obstacle, the words that framed my dialogue about intuition were a more fundamental barrier. I found confirmation for this paradox in the writings of Korzybski, Krishnamurti and Bohm.
Words are not Things
While a PhD student, I discovered the non-Aristotelian writings of Alfred Korzybski. Revisiting his Science and Sanity to uncover their secret fascination, key ideas come to the fore. Korzybski emphasized the difference between arithmetic and geometrical growth, the first proceeding my addition, the latter by multiplication. V. A. Graicunas first proposed this as a management issue with his "span of control" notion: as the number of subordinates increases arithmetically, the number of relationships grows geometrically.
As a computer professional, this idea haunted me when working on large systems. Cognizant of the geometrical growth in possibilities, I used decision tables as a programmer to test each path in complex logic flows. Since the practice took longer to code, I stood alone using this tool. But my programs consistently had fewer initial bugs and later production crashes. Understanding this principal helped me recognize issues in extending personal relationships. As the number of friends grew, the less intimate those friendships became.
Korzybski highlighted the discrepancy between arithmetical knowledge growth in social sciences and geometrical growth in natural sciences. He believed the differing growth rates created a human crisis. In Manhood of Humanity, he argued this came about due to misunderstanding how man differs from animals. (Note 30) In his scheme, plants are energy binding, animals space binding and humans time binding. He felt social sciences assumed the animal nature of man by not recognizing our creative potential. Animals experience intuition in the small through their instinct while humans express intuition in the large reaching beyond heritage and learning to bring something new into existence.
Korzybski's most fascinating idea was his clear articulation that "a map is not the territory" as a metaphor for how words are not the things they represent. Periodically this notion haunted me like a mantra sounding in my mind. Without conscious awareness, this idea planted the seed for realizing how language limits communication. Over and over verbal communication in my primary relationships failed to bridge the chasm between two struggling souls. But an unspoken recognition occasionally connected our heart songs.
My companion and I were watching The Unbearable Lightness of Being. At the end of the film, she crossed the room, picked a single rose blossom and returned to place it in my hand as she looked deep into my eyes. Without a word, without a touch, the universe paused and shimmered in my being. What transpired in that brief moment soul to soul? What exquisite utterness! I tremble with memory of being "held in aesthetic arrest" as Joseph Campbell eloquently said. Learning language can cripple, even destroy communication, Korzybski inadvertently helped me appreciate the ineffable.
Limitations of Thought
Jiddu Krishnamurti and David Bohm presented a more dramatic argument than Korzybski's critique in The Future of Humanity. In his Preface to the transcript, Bohm summarized how their dialogue challenged the adequacy of knowledge and thought pinpointing them as culprits in mankinds' generally confused mentality. Language acquisition replaces simple presence in the world with an ongoing chatter in awareness. This movement of thought brings time into being with a past, present and future that does not exist at birth. They argued this change introduced psychological time with its notion of "becoming" into the human drama.
When my nephew and granddaughter were young, I was stunned by how often I asked "what did you do yesterday?" and "what are you going to do tomorrow" in our chats. Only with great mental effort could I bring conversation into the present focused on the moment. Addicted to living outside now, I abetted my nephew and granddaughter's separation from reality. They too as I once did were erecting their life on a stream of words spoken by self to self. As internal conversation replaces experience, the Self recedes into the shadows perhaps never to be seen again. As Self disappears, intuition in the small becomes less likely and intuition in the large, impossible!
Life seduced me into its illusion that the names of things are the things themselves and that the ego was my real being. So seductive was this experience, that the fondest memories of my childrens' early years were when they recognized their mother and I as "mama" and "daddy." The ego that became my center sought recognition from these embryo selves. Lord Jesus Buddha, forgive what I did to cut my nephew and granddaughter off from immediate experience!
As much as naming "ten thousand things" and associated language skills form the foundation of culture, Krishnamurti and Bohm showed me why this blessing became a curse. Language acquisition engenders a self separate from reality as each "thing" acquires a name separate from the child's being. Western religion's individual salvation and pop culture's personality worship reinforce separation from reality and replacement of the Self with the self. Survival requires a "strong ego!" This was a pact with the devil, I traded my soul (Self) for a role (self) in the human melodrama.
That Art Thou
As the chattering movement of thought fills awareness and addiction to time enslaves me to doing, the reflection needed to remain in Indra's web disappears. The words, language and thought conditioning my brain separate me from the universal consciousness out of which the "ten thousand things" arise. Tao is lost in ego's barrage of words busily rehashing the past and fantasizing about the future vanquishing the simple presence of Self in the moment. On a visit to the University of Chicago, I spent the better part of a day at the library reflecting on the chattering mind. While there, I wrote a poem about the limits of words.
A separate doing self achieves marvelous results in the physical world. My powerful desktop computer could not have been imagined a few years ago. But the same self creates havoc in the psychological world. Seeing my differences from others, I protect against what "they" might do to me. I need things and want to ensure I can get them. From separation, divisiveness and conflict surely to follow as our planet boils with the consequences of "them" versus "us." The physical world evolves in time, the psychological world rests in eternity.
Indra's web has not been nor is it going anywhere. It awaits my return to Self to realize I never left. Attending to the moment, I recover an awareness articulated by contemporary physics as "the observer and observed are one." Perception is direct in this natural state. Limits imposed by knowledge and memory fall away to reveal an intelligence born of compassion operating through love. The Intuitive Self recovers its rightful place in personal consciousness by making connection with universal consciousness possible once again.
Assuming I am different from what I am dissipates energy as I attempt to change. But recognizing I am my qualities, since the observer is the observed, releases the energy. Then universal intelligence transcends knowledge and memory! The Upanishads teach "The real that is at the heart of the universe is reflected in the infinite depths of the self. . . tat tvam asi - That art thou. Truth is within us. The Supreme in its inner being as the one self-subsistent reality cannot be defined by logical categories or linguistic symbols." (Note 33) Korzybski, Krishnamurti and Bohm had articulated a truth first divined 2500 years ago.
Beliefs about Belief
Among other achievements in an unusual career, John Lilly conducted LSD experiments on himself in an isolation tank and explored communication with dolphins. Summarizing his findings from the isolation tank, Lilly made the following statement in Programming and Metaprogramming in the Human Biocomputer that stuck solidly since first reading:
"In the province of the mind, what one believes to be true is true or becomes true within certain limits to be found experientially and experimentally. These limits are further beliefs to be transcended. In the mind there are no limits." (Note 34)
What a stark challenge for my rational mind! In contrast to a strongly held view that reality is what I see, touch, taste, hear and smell, Lilly said reality depends on what I believe. How could this be true? Lilly's assertion did not square with my everyday sense of what was real. But as epiphanies such as The Unbearable Lightness of Being experience occurred more frequently and deeply, his view rang true.
Flotation centers made Lilly's isolation tank design available to the public. For an hour at a time, I rented a tank (without the LSD) to explore the province of the mind as he had done. These explorations enabled me to reflect on the mysteries of language and experience I encountered. At the time, I did not have breakthrough insights. But those "trips" laid the groundwork for unfolding a deeper level of understanding. Sand grain notions like those of Korzybski and Lilly irritated my consciousness to evoke pearls of knowing reaching beyond personal knowledge through intuition in the large.
Yaqui Way of Knowledge
While the Carlos Castaneda's series captured my imagination, the incidents were more mystery than revelation. (Note 35) Part of me knew a deep truth pulsed within the stories beyond my conscious apprehension. At a subconscious level, the stories worked their magic. Reading about experiences so foreign to my own stimulated my curiosity and opened my mind to possibilities rational minds considered insane. His tales primed my mental pump paving the way for Korzybski, Krishnamurti and Bohm whose ideas were packaged in more acceptable rational wrappings.
Castaneda's experiences with the Yaqui Indian sorcerer don Juan, introduced me to the strange world of the shaman. Ideas alien to my Western upbringing appeared normal in a shaman's reality. Though their metaphors differed, I learned sorcerer and scientist articulated the same basic truths. Throughout history and across all cultures, those who probed the inner mysteries arrived at the same understandings on different paths. At the esoteric core, the essential unity of all religions became the essential unity period.
Victor Sanchez's The Teachings of Don Carlos and Donald Williams' Border Crossings interpreted Castaneda's work. (Note 36) Given the controversy surrounding Castaneda, Williams observed that whether don Juan is fact or fiction is immaterial: "The Carlos of Castaneda's work seems to be the embodiment of old personal habits and collective tendencies, such as intellectualization, dependence upon reason, and fear of the unconscious." Sanchez said "The question of whether don Juan existed or not seems to me insignificant in comparison with the ideas set forth in these books. . . . The fact is they exist and - most important - they work."
Sanchez offers an excellent summary of don Juan's vision of reality. Reading Sanchez years after Castaneda's books in light of Harman's M-3 world view, Korzybski's the map is not the territory, Lilly's there are no mental limits, and Krishnamurti and Bohm's limits of thought, helped me fathom the shaman's mysterious meanings. The motifs of don Juan's vision permeating the stories are entirely compatible with the ideas of these scientists and philosophers.
Several of don Juan's themes captured my attention: stopping the world, not-doing, the other self, and the tonal and the naugal. Stopping the world - what could this puzzling statement mean? Perhaps it meant slowing down the chattering mind. Non-doing appeared with a similar meaning half a world away in Taosim. With deepening work in intuition, the other self appeared hidden behind the outer self. This other self was the shaman's version of The Intuitive Self. Tonal represented ordinary reality while naugal recognized other realities barely separated from the ordinary. The Intuitive Self provides a bridge between the outer ego self and inner realities.
My fascination with Castaneda's work followed from my shadow identification with his foibles encountering the shaman. His obsessive, meticulous note taking mirrored my rational self who observed rather than participated in experience. Williams' psychological interpretation of don Juan's path of knowledge revealed the symbolic message these writings held. The stories represented the way of the hunter, warrior and seer in the search for self understanding. These images laid down an unconscious pattern my own search for meaning.
Williams described the characteristic behavior of each toward the unconscious: the hunter pays attention to the unconscious, the warrior directly meets unconscious challenges and the seer directs his life by what he learns from his unconscious. These attitudes contrast with the average person who runs away from or stands against unconscious contents. I see how each attitude successively played in my process. The more intimate I became with the personal and archetypal unconscious, the clearer the meanings inherent in life experiences were. Each personal reaction carried a profound discovery if I paid attention, met the challenge and followed through with the Tao's intention.
Tao of Physics
Two books evoked a turning point in my struggle to resolve the split between what I had learned and what I experienced. In The Medium, the Mystic, and the Physicist, Lawrence LeShan described similarities in world view between physicists and mystics. (Note 39) His thoughts were the first to show there need be no split between the rational and intuitive parts of my being. My either/or attitude developed because colleagues in each field either had nothing to do with each other or were downright disdainful. To avoid embarrassment, I did not talk about my psychic phenomena classes with academic colleagues.
Fritjof Capra developed the similarity between mystic and physicist further in The Tao of Physics. He reinforced my enthusiasm for the Eastern traditions especially Taoism. Capra showed how an organic rather than a mechanistic view was common to discoveries at the subatomic level in physics and to insights from deep reflective meditative states. Placing the mystic and physicist side by side showed these are not mutually exclusive domains. Since science is needed for contemporary society and mysticism for understanding the nature of experience, Capra argued for a "dynamic interplay between mystical intuition and scientific analysis."
These ideas primed me to blend the rational and intuitive ways. Since an accommodation between physicist and mystic was possible so was a reconciliation of my two sides. A conscious effort to harmonize the two selves rippled through my life in other threads of meaning. This was a start, but the marriage was an accommodation. They were living together but not joined in holy matrimony. That came later when exploration of my subconscious reached deeper levels.
Exploring the paradoxical ideas of quantum physics, Amit Goswami argued in The Self-Aware Universe that consciousness, not matter, was the primary "substance" of the universe. (Note 41) By assuming the primacy of consciousness (as in the spiritual traditions) rather than matter (as in traditional science), he asserted the quantum paradoxes dissolve : 1) a quantum object can be at more than one place at the same time, 2) such objects cannot be said to manifest in ordinary space-time until we observe them, 3) when a quantum object ceases to exist here and simultaneously appears elsewhere, we cannot say that it went through the intervening space, 4) the manifestation of one quantum object, caused by our observation, instantaneously influences its twin object no matter how far apart they are.
Assuming matter is the basic reality, quantum phenomena are impossible, even though they are experimentally demonstrable. Assuming the primacy of consciousness, what seemed impossible becomes ordinary: 1) awareness can be in more than one place at a time, 2) experience exists because my observation brings it into being, 3) awareness can be somewhere else instantaneously without having gone from here to there, and 4) communication between consciousnesses occurs instantaneously no matter how far apart in time and space.
These qualities of the psychic experience underlie intuition in the large. Accepting consciousness as the primary reality, the M-1 world view is given up in favor of M-3. Then intuitive knowing assumes primacy over rational analysis. But my intuitive compass felt uncomfortable with this view. Intuition knows it is part of a larger whole including parts it has but dreamed of. Rather than exclude one in favor of the other or treat the rational and intuitive as complementary, I sensed a reality subsuming both as poles on a spectrum of knowing.
The Implicate Order
A breakthrough came reading Bohm's scientific work. My first contact came seeing him in dialogue with Krishnamurti on The Future of Humanity. Beyond their teaching how thought limits, I discovered a physicist with a mystical presence. The more I watched them in conversation, the more I sensed Bohm's mystical qualities. Here was a person who had transcended the dual modes of knowing in his being. This encouraged me to learn more about him as a physicist.
My intimation of Bohm's mysticism was affirmed reading an article which began "Many thousands of years ago, our culture was not broken into fragments as it is now. At that time, science and spirituality were not separated. Since then, they have grown far apart. In my view, it is important to bring them together." (Note 42) This synthesis of the rational and intuitive selves beyond the dynamic interplay suggested by Capra resonated deeply.
Bohm proposed a level of reality called the "implicate order" in which everything is enfolded into everything. This contrasts with "explicate order" in which things are unfolded such that each lies in its own region of space and time. The objects of physical reality are the unfolded projections of the deeper, higher dimensional implicate order which is the fundamental omnipresent, omniscience reality. (Note 43)
The implicate order is basic such that what is primary, independently existent, and universal has to be expressed in terms of the implicate order. Bohm asserted the implicate order is autonomously active while the explicate order flows out of the implicate order. So the explicate order is secondary, derivative, and appropriate only in limited contexts. Intuition in the small connects with the explicate order while intuition in the large flows from the implicate order.
Bohm believed the totality of enfoldment and unfoldment might go immensely beyond what has been revealed so far. He called this totality the holomovement. "What is" is the holomovement. Everything is described in terms of forms derived from the holomovement. Starting with the implicate order, we assume the undivided wholeness of the universe. Taoist philosophy refers to this moving wholeness as the Tao.
Bohm proposed a theory of mind and matter in which he summarized his ideas about the implicate and explicate order. Taking "ideas may undergo an unending process of yet further change" as his motto, he proposed an implicate order of infinite levels of subtlety like a series of more and more finely woven nets. Active information that is simultaneously mental and physical links the finer and coarser levels. He considered the mental and physical poles at successive levels two sides of reality as a whole.
Information that is thought on the mental side is at the same time chemical activity on the physical side. Each mental side in turn becomes the physical side moving in the direction of more subtlety in an infinitely recursive process. This showed me the M-1 and M-3 world views are not mutually exclusive, but two views of reality within a larger reality encompassing both. Least we commit the thoughts are things fallacy, Bohm cautioned the description only helps think about the subject since the deeper reality lies beyond analytical terms.
These explorations in consciousness demonstrated my awareness is too limited by language and culture to immediately apprehend the higher consciousness which encompasses all. Rather than mutually exclusive (M-1 or M-3) or complementary (M-2) rational and intuitive selves, two ways exist for simultaneously experiencing reality. They appeared distinct and perhaps antagonistic because their names had become things in and of themselves. Consequently my world view was too coarse too fathom their subtle unity.