the Way or Path or Road to Heaven
Here is where the last ingredient enters the tale and civilization begins. What social organizations we already had were based on dominance or sometimes, just charisma. I’m going to define charisma in this context as a talent for inducing trance states, especially conscious trance states, in others. That’s why we call someone charming or entrancing.
If charm wasn’t available, there was always intimidation. Those who are good at inducing fear would make others afraid not to be conscious of their world. This sort of anti-charisma would make others bow to avoid eye contact or a contact buzz. Charm could even be an artificial additive. Consciously contrived expression can benefit from animal attraction or repulsion or overcome a total lack of either. Charisma of this kind is physically expressed, but in consciously controlled movements that are meant to enhance the expression of thoughts, especially verbal thoughts. Either way, this makes everyone else dependent on the conscious and charismatic for their sense of self, and any details about the world they are living in.
With a head full of complex divine speak and any measure of potable charisma, anyone could be looking at a career in tribal politics. There were a charismatic and conscious few who were stable and strong enough to stand before others without mentally sublimating to the group trance. Powerful full-time egos that could stand up to anyone’s gaze. They were crafty, devious, always a step ahead and always charming. Anyone could recognize it in their countenance. They had an air about them. And, they always had the same countenance and air. So solid was the possession of their faculties that they could induce this possession into others and create for others their own stable third stage conscious experience. They could say amazing things in their unmistakable divine state because they could organize them in advance of saying them. For these aspiring politicians, that meant getting ahead of the game by convincing everyone he is what he says he is. Charm was the edge for the conscious spell caster who could induce conscious states in others. In some cases, many others. For some of those others, it may be their first experience of third stage mentality. All he has to do to control everyone’s access to their own third stage minds is convince them that consciousness in his presence is more intense and more real than any other experience.
This was probably a struggle for first of them to maintaining any continuity in their own conscious mentality. Trying not to be seen without their divine state required a life of isolation and contemplation that must have been hard to sustain. Their survival was still entirely immersed in nature which relentlessly summoned first and second stage organizations. Unless they could find a support system. Others who would share the load of their lives, and leave them free to dream. That might work if there were something in it for them. Something like, a chance to share a stable conscious mind by catching it as a spell or a sort of contact buzz. This was more than a personality cult. This was a chance to build a new world. Those who became the nucleus of other people’s conscious life, became a new kind of leader. No longer physically dominating(necessarily) but dominating a mind that was a broader experience than before. In accepting or sublimating to the divinely possessed one’s trance, his followers’ conscious experience was confined to the roles they were given as if those roles were all they were. For the divine ones, that meant inducing third stage experience in everyone around them but without the voice from upstairs being recognized as their own self, because then everyone would think they are what they think they are.
For those who were best at it, who could make a whole community or tribe unify in a common mental state, a special status was created; the Anointed Ones, the mediums of public consciousness. Third stage mentalities were fragile for those living close to nature and required effort from everyone to sustain it in the few. It was in everyone’s interest that these few were freed from the drudgery of survival, so there was plenty of time for them to hang out upstairs to work on their divine speak. That led to the creation of a new social distinction: the Leisure Class. They needed to be protected by and isolated from everyone else to insure the inner peace necessary to experience sustained third stage mentality without distraction and safe from the charisma of the non-conscious.
Their job was to organize rituals to facilitate access for everyone to the same common mental state on a regular basis. Conscious experience for the many was reserved for community rituals. In a mesmerizing presentation, a very unnatural looking anointed one would induce in everyone a sort of state sanctioned consciousness with a standardized sense of self and other. In this trance state, you and your fellow citizens become a common highest level of organization. By constantly renewing a common conscious state, they could create a common mind with its own sense of continuity and an expectation of being there tomorrow. Long term maintenance of a conscious community was achieved by the emergence and promotion of Great Leader -special anointed ones whose consciousness could induce the most intense and complete conscious experience anyone’s ever going to come across. If he can sustain a common conscious state shared by all the participants, a community could organize itself with great complexity.
This is Mass-Mind Type A, where the elite directly induce and regulate conscious experience for a mostly second stage populous leading lives much closer to nature than their pampered butts. The new mass-mind is preserved in the temple and shared with all in organized rituals. For its membership, their minds, or to them, their culture, would exist any place from which the pole, obelisk, temple, spire or flag could be seen. Or anywhere the smell of the stuff burned at the big show can be detected. While spreading the experience of consciousness, they are also making sure of standardizing it. The New Order began to suppress idols and anything else they considered competition. They organized a few of the most popular icons into a complex hierarchy and sanction their regulated use while destroying all the rest. They might even fill their followers minds with seductive, sensory and stylized ideas about what the world is. Society was now built around a charismatic nucleus that, thanks to our formidable perception and memory, didn’t even have to be a living person.
Great Leader and his minions exploited the visitation nature of early third stage activity by putting his own face or voice on your consciousness or, and this was probably easier, use the memories of a revered or feared former but now dead Great Leader. There must be somebody who, with a few tugs on the truth, can become the Grand Inspirational Person. In none was handy, then invent one. Exalting the dead had the advantage over the living, whose humanity could at any time compromise their anointing. Besides, it’s a lot harder to question the way things are when the one who says so isn’t there to ask. Even proclaiming that Great Leader’s Grand Strategic Plan was divinely ordered by scary animals or forces of nature could be used to inspire their subjects, already looking to join a community, to submit to a greater organization of themselves. One that they would root for, work for and die for. This or that nation, with Great Leader volunteering to be your liaison and supplicant to creation. Your inside link to the powers that be.
The temple, and later the Holy City, was an enclosed environment designed for living an unnatural life. Surrounded by geometry and living by strict schedules and procedures, the leisure class would nurture their conscious minds by building and occupying an artificial world. Made of the physical world of course, but entirely composed of artifacts. Food became a prepared meal. We call this the ordered life. All the leisure class would lead sheltered lives in order to concentrate on stroking Great Leader into ego maximus. If possible, they were fed and pampered in order to quell any physical discomfort or tummy-grumble or boner.
Everyone in the temple was busy inducing, retaining or regaining their special magic minds. Priest repeated rituals and prayers made of bits of divine speak from Great Leader in an effort to maintain any continuity in their conscious trances. Even Great Leader could lose his favor with the divine, and desperately try to regain it. They could allow no interference. Common folk were shut out to avoid the inducements of their unconscious faces. Servants bowed their heads as the conscious priest went by to avoid any disturbing eye contact. Support staff would have to perform their tasks in ritualized precise procedures to keep everything in the backdrop of temple life unnatural. Strict rules of politeness and etiquette kept everyone conscious of their actions and expressions. Body functions were strong cues to the organic mind, so they were sequestered and ritualized in attempt to get through them without inducing an un-conscious mentality. By demonstrating the ability to overpower our basic impulses and drives, and to delay gratification, one displayed conscious control over themselves. Fasting is an obvious example.
Their secluded, pampered third stage life was spent dreaming up ways to organize society to do big and ambitious things that required its members to lead very organized lives of organized action. A type A is dependent on the elite for its survival, who are dependent on their organic public footing the bill. But the public wanted to make the investment, and might gamble that Great Leader’s guidance in agriculture would produce the bounty that could pay for it all. This could depend on how well he has sorted out the calendar, or assessed the strategic situation. Every Mom and Dad’s responsibility was to raise strong, verbal and loyal children well trained in established culture whose only access to third stage experience will be controlled by Great Leader to be used as automatons in acts that override their own survival. If they got lucky, everyone ate until the population shot up to a point where competent conscious management was vital to its survival. If that bounty were threatened, the swelled public would want that management to protect it by any means necessary, even killing their own.
Weird or not, this was our most successful life strategy and it was rewarded with longevity, prosperity and time-off. But only for the few at first. Am I suggesting that prosperity is a necessary ingredient of religious enlightenment? That Jim and Tammy were right all along? Yes, to this extent; by whatever means, primitive or modern, a sufficient state of comfort must be achieved to free up one’s mental capacities to become the more complex organizations.
Keeping this up means going on with the show. Dazzling pageantry, mass rituals and special effects were used to generate an intense trance state. One in which the public will believe anything Great Leader tells them. This spell would include a custom made conscious self that was confined into the space defined by the world Great Leader thinks both of you are living in, and what he thinks you are. One that is easy to keep re-triggering through repeated cycles of complicated rituals. Discipline was distributed through the chain of command of the new power structure (Great Leader’s family and friends).
Getting to the rituals was an important part of preparing the public to be of one mind. Getting there was organized into the processional. Temples or Holy Cities were built with a long entry way that started at the end of a long avenue that might go for a mile. At predetermined times, all worthy citizens would proceed up the decorated avenue in a parade filled with drums, dance and chanting surrounded by their culture’s signature markings and symbols. In as straight a line as possible, it would pass through an unnatural world of artifacts made with an unnatural geometry that increased in grandeur and complexity until reaching a crescendo at the gates of the temple where a long stairway leads to the keepers of our greater selves and creators of the world those selves live in. The power of the temple was proportional to the impressiveness of its presentation. Great Leader must look too unnaturally beautiful to behold, and act too unnaturally graceful to be any less than divine. Developing everyone else’s personal self from a stable perspective was vital to creating a community that everyone would expect to find again tomorrow. Continuity depended on citizens renewing their acceptance of their role in society. Just the right balance of empowerment and intimidation would inspire them to both wanted to be afraid not to. Intoxicants, light shows and magic tricks were used to heighten the experience. Such events were used to promote loyalty and foment warfare or celebrate and glamorize the rites of passage of the leisure class.
Violence was already commonplace for humanity and warfare of some sort exists throughout the animal world, but Great Leader took it a lot farther than that. In the quest for an ever bigger and louder show, pageantry eventually led to ritualized violence. Death and suffering could be watched vicariously by a conscious audience who could imagine such things happening to them. Once Great Leader choose to fall back on fear and intimidation, which was always eventually if not right away, torture and sacrifices were used to heighten the experience of the public show. For the victims, the procession would climax at the stairway to their doom. The chosen ones would have to be chosen from their own unless there were prisoners or other outsiders. There was nothing that could elevate the grandeur of Great Leader and those who think he’s Great more than the total humiliation and intimidation of a vanquished people of a rival mass-mind. The rival is destroyed by marching its subjects through a horrific ritual procession or increasing brutality and savagery until their minds are blown. By driving out their god, scaring it away, the conquerors are left with quivering unconscious automatons, and handy who-cares offerings for sacrifice. This is how one mass-mind exterminates another. Otherwise, a modest program of self-extermination would have to satisfy the truly bloodthirsty. Many a military class sprang up just to keep God fed by anyone other than their own children.
People would make decisions to do strange and awful things- not for their own survival, but for their social order- that it may rule forever, no matter what. Apparently having no idea that they are the sole architects of something wholly in their minds for which they would suffer hardship and death (or inflict it). A world that they control and could change completely anytime they choose to. Only they don’t, because its survival is more important than their own. This can be a nation, or a king, or a religion- usually it is a mix- that gives form to an imaginary world that is complete and convincing enough to lure your identity into it.
Society begins to rival the individual identity for the dominant position of being that which must survive. For an individual, this is when society’s priorities become greater than your own, and your own survival can be overruled by the needs of the mass-mind. Each mass-mind compels its membership with the notion that the world will somehow be complete or finished when everyone everywhere was part of the same un-challenged organization. Or dead.
Great Leader knew he couldn’t get in your head if you’re in there already. Egos were the exclusive interface with early conscious society. Anyone showing signs in their behavior of having an independent inner self would be seen as under an outside influence, possessed by demons or witches or worse. Having an unsteady gaze or wandering attention was seen as a trance controlled by some outside force and could get you killed. It was easy to spot a self wasn’t controlled by the rituals or spells of Great Leader or his lieutenants. The first maverick egos to emerge among the little people were probably hacked off. This situation has improved somewhat.
As long as the spell casters has some good ideas about what everybody should do, aside from maintaining their own comfort, this was a success for human survival. This was a Great Leap in what humans could accomplish in groups. Great Leader had arrived bringing the creative power of third stage mentality to our social organizations. Now we would design our own world to live in.
This was the first step man took in departing from the life that nature had prepared us for at birth. From here on, a society built by conscious minds was utterly dependent on repeating this new thinking in every succeeding generation. Once conscious continuity was achieved, stopping it was unthinkable.
This is when we, as social groups, started doing things that had nothing to do with our natural physical lives. This is when we began to live in the world we were conscious of, or rather, the world that our Great Leader was conscious of. Once any sizable bunch of humans got this going, three things would begin. First, the show itself; pageantry on an ever increasing scale always vying to be your maximal conscious experience and out shout any renegade sense of self that may be developing. Second, history begins with us putting our minds together and leaving civilizations behind. And lastly, the result of this mass creation of selves; the greater organization that they all thought they were living in- the mass consciousness. Society became an artifact, built of the raw material of ourselves.
Why am I suggesting that this kind of mass-mind is different from any animal community like a flock of birds or a school of fish or even a tribe of our own ancient ancestors? Because their survival priorities couldn’t be more different. Violence could break-out among tribes of apes competing over territory, resources or bloodline. Nothing unnatural sounding there, but imagine if one tribe attacks another, but only to subdue them and then leave one of its members behind to live with the vanquished and tell them what to do and how to live in the world that the victors think is there. The rest of the tribe moves on to conquer the next bunch. This high maintenance struggle is not about dominance of DNA or resources. It’s about the dominance of one collective artificial consciousness, spreading civilization or attacking an enemy for thinking they lived in a different world. This enemy wasn’t physically trespassing and wasn’t eating your food. This enemy was in our heads. A mental cartoon of others who somehow organized using a different spell that didn’t come from your anointed ones and must come from a rival deity or worse. Its mere existence makes a mockery of our chosen pre-eminence. It is a false mass-mind, and we can blame it for everything. Those who live in other mass-minds are not of the same creation as us. They are not like us. With this rational in place, societies could engage in large-scale organized horror.
The old organic mass-mind is still there, but conscious experience is a departure from it. This new mass-mind was very different than the old one but emerges from the same principle. Individually, we create the world we are conscious of and our place in it, with both parts recreated by us in our minds. Faced with living in a community that depends on complex communication and coordinated action, each individual must be creating the same outside world, or close enough, in order to do things together in it. Just like before, everyone learns a system of roles –including theirs- that establishes an organized sense of self and other, a place where everyone fits in. Where I stop and you begin, and where we stop and the rest of the world begins. Survival as a conscious community requires that the shape of that self/other border be more common than not for everyone, and everyone must be recreating largely the same world and placing it squarely on the “other” side. It is here on that other side where we have created an artificial world.
Living in a third stage mass-consciousness is a departure from our emotion and instinct into a world of concepts. Which leads us toward lives of complexity and toiling at concerns that had nothing to do with our immediate physical survival. Conscious thinking becomes a basic survival skill in a conceptual world full of choices that emotion and instinct aren’t capable of making. The first and second stage mind can’t perceive the thought processes of the third stage; the long chains of reason that, for example, justify acts of war. Only when the actual moment of violence arrives -pulling the trigger- does the second stage mind have an immediate experience to react to and try to influence. But try to set aside your feelings and concentrate on your duty… Why would we do that?
Two reasons, maybe... experience of the mass-mind is like stepping into another world full of perceptions of time and space and concepts that the physical self has no actual perception of. It's really very compelling, and, this is also stepping into the conceptual world of one's community or social group where language and technology exist. In a human community with any amount of civilization, a large measure of meeting one's physical needs are met by efforts in this conceptual realm and all interchange and communication within this realm presumes that disembodied conscious intellect is you. It's the you with the rights. You might even start to believe it and use it as the vantage point from which you meet all your needs, and on the whole experience your life. You construct an ego, and a world for it to live in. The metaphorical self that your mind creates becomes your highest level of organization. It becomes that which must survive and thus becomes the seat of your identity for as long as you are being your ego which isn't all the time. But when it is, even for a fraction of a second, it becomes what you are and defines your place in the Great Plan. This internal self can be utterly convincing. Equally utterly, is that world we create for our egos to live in. Convincing enough for us to develop expectations of our conscious mind. Two of these expectations are that the world (other) we (selves) are conscious of is where we are and that it will still be where we are next. Put any group of conscious people together doing both of these, and you have a mass-mind. More precisely, an artificial mass-mind created within a self-invented organization of brain activity. We believe our conscious minds are real. Most people make this leap of faith. But if Barbie is real, isn’t Barbie’s Playhouse real? The mass-consciousness is no greater a leap. It is the same leap.
Culture is the ultimate artifact by which we created a greater organization of ourselves. We call this belonging to something greater than yourself. This “mass-identity” is a new organization that is just as real as your conscious self. It may seem weird at first to consider the mass-consciousness as something, but it has every claim to substance that your conscious mind has. They are of the same stuff. Evidence of the existence of both is everywhere, even on the moon. No single person or single generation could do that. Only a culture could go to the moon.
It is often suggested that the ego self and the culture it lives in are some sort of snafu of evolution and that civilization is an inevitable train wreck. Civilization is a messy business, but consciousness is no screw-up. I maintain that both the ego and the train wreck are normal developments in the course of humanity and that we have the opportunity right now to overcome the same challenges faced by all the cultures that came before us and are no longer here. The big challenge is keeping a healthy mass-mind while it matures into more complex forms.
A successful type A was proficient in organized farming and warfare. This kind of mass-mind keeps its people fed and then absorbs or destroys other mass-minds. It lived the same secluded life as the elite within the temple walls. The temple was like a shell, no, a chicken coop full of priestly hens nurturing a mass-mind. This was a slow process as a more stable and structurally sound artificial world was built inside. A good harvest and a strong fortress would protect their world, but soon the leisure class would lose their monopoly on creative control of it.
Cultural inheritance was the exclusive responsibility of the temple-folk, but they needed help with the really big ideas. A prosperous, self-absorbed aristocracy would be so busy being prosperous and self-absorbed that they need to delegate some the creative organizing. Managing a construction project required independent thought. A chosen few more were granted the privilege of a stable conscious self so they could supervise more grandiose elitist ideas like agriculture by calendar, military strategy and justice. Running these clever new social organizations required training a new sub-elite in third stage thinking. Trance procedures would be designed for the initiate’s second stage mind to achieve a sustained period of third stage experience. Unlike earlier rituals where Great Leader or his god-like sidekick would recreate themselves in their subject’s new and unfamiliar conscious mind, new rituals were conceived to induce and maintain the long frame rates of third stage mentality. Elaborate procedures were combined with deprivation and ordeals in order to realize its self-generating nature and ascend one’s identity into it..
Even if distributed sparingly, this spread third stage mentality into the larger community far beyond the temple gates and made for a two-tiered society of those with stable self-generating egos and those who still experienced third stage mentality from a second stage identity. This was a bold move for the elite who now had to depend on trust even more than just in each other. Now there were people outside the temple who could hate you while obeying orders to love you. His continued authority over the growing working class depending on maintaining a controlling role in the shape of the public mind. And that still meant creating the most appealing world to think we’re living in, even if that meant selling delusions that they didn’t believe in themselves. This was usually a slippery slope, but the ruling elite had become accustomed to subsidized comfort and didn’t hesitate to put any conceptual world together as long as it rationalized why their continued comfort is essential. There were those who made that worth it to their people and those who didn’t. There were probably many Great Leaders whose meta-psycho travels brought ruin, vulnerability or ritual suicide to all who walked in their gaze, and destroyed or squandered centuries of culture. There was plenty of time for lots of these little worlds to come and go and vanish without a trace.
But a few were so well placed, so fortunate in climate, resources or leadership that the show went on in some form for a millennia or more. Self-awareness was spreading into the people whose minds created a conscious world which became a broader mass-mind for the common folk. One that was still there long after Great Leader’s Big Show. These societies went through a difficult transition as an increasingly self-conscious population began to wonder whatever happened to that voice that used to come from upstairs. Prosperity and schooling would raise generations that were less dependent on the public rituals to maintain their conscious experience. Soon nearly everyone possesses a full-time ego that they wake up with every morning and many wonder what that old religious fuss was all about. Public rituals seemed like mere formality.
This required a new strategy for leadership in maintaining a uniform outside world in everyone’s now occupied third stage mind. Fortunately for the upper crust, the situation was only half changed. Even though its membership had taken possession of the self half of their conscious minds, the other half remained as unoccupied as before. To an ambitious, politically savvy Great Leader, that meant “this space available”.