Since starting down the road of civilization, mankind has traveled two courses. One road is our physical lives on the earth as we were originally created to live them since humans first appeared. Then our precious history starts with the off ramp to the Great Causeway of Conscious Reality with thousands of societies absorbing and destroying each other in a bubbling froth that boils up to produce our modern culture. These two roads arrive in our modern age as genetics (in the broadest sense) and well, everything else; history, nations, religion, art, and all the Great Purpose of Everything Ideas. All the conceptual parts that make up our particular moment in the bubbling froth. Our genetic heritage still travels as DNA through processes that we mostly don’t experience and are only beginning to understand. Civilization’s continued forward motion depends on successfully installing itself in the mentality of each new generation to keep them living in it. Each child must become possessed of their parent’s mentality. Not just information, or instructions about how to build a metropolis, society’s inheritance must include the manner and method of thought itself.
Our innate thinking ability can be organized in a variety of ways. Society requires a certain minimum amount of uniformity in the way its members organize their mind in order to work together at metropolis building. When this installation process is successful, a society can do amazing things. Any erosion in its ability to pass itself on to its young will limit their ability to realize its ambitions or even threaten its survival. Sometimes it’s all a society can do to pass on just enough of its mentality to keep public systems intact. When it fails, its way of life and thought will vanish. The metropolis becomes the archeological dig. Along the way, it might progress from primitive mud huts to political mud slinging or from fire pits to fire departments. That means that each generation has to pass on even more cultural heritage than all that proceed it. All societies have expected each human child -the same model that roamed the tundra for most of our existence- to acquire the mentality to become a stone mason, a priest, a Spartan, a lawyer or an astronaut.
It may seem like we went digital overnight, but civilization was a long, gradual process that had to cover a lot of ground before we got to things like psychoanalysis and sewage management. What it took to make that possible was a protracted mental struggle that often worked against our original animal nature. We surrounded ourselves with more and more of our creations until we had created a large portion of our lives. It took a lot of work for communities of humans to create a sustainable material presence in the physical world. One that could become a foundation for a mental world we can think we’re living in. That process included more than just technological and political inventions. Those dry conceptual notions were hardly noticed as the process unfolded. Only in retrospect would anyone notice how civilization was developing. On any given day, all there was, was magic. We saw our creativity make our lives better and felt the emotional rush as our lives unfolded. We always felt we had a pretty good idea about how everything in our world worked or were at least confident that those in authority knew what they were doing. Looking back, the first broad explanations of ourselves and our world were inspired lunacy by today’s standards. We have far too much at stake and have far too much information about the world to put some flippant and irresponsible explanation together today, right? We probably always thought so.
There are still many who consider evolution a flippant and irresponsible explanation. For the rest of us who have long since gotten over it, it means we’ve been around just as we are now for a lot longer than our history explains. Never mind the monkey bit. It means that for eons, humans like us were just wandering around aimlessly while all the material for the Spaceshuttle was strewn all about them. That suggests that there might have been more to our development than walking upright and using a fork. We’ve been knocking around the idea for a long time that our minds evolved just as, if not after, our bodies did. It’s still a popular notion that some kind of evolution or ascension awaits us be it the Pearly Gates or the Age of Aquarius. Perhaps we went through some kind of ascension before. The first guy to come along and suggest that this wasn’t just some spiritual process was Julian Jaynes in The Origins of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind. Jaynes was kicking the door open about just how different we may have been. He described a predecessor of consciousness that was much like schizophrenia. He made a compelling case that pre-classical literature spoke of and spoke to a very different kind of self.
At first I couldn’t quite wrap my mind around the idea that the conscious mind as we know it emerged in the seventh century BC. I agreed it was obvious that our minds were very different than prehistoric humans even if our brains were exactly the same, but not with his linear timeline. Consciousness did not emerge in human kind in a single stroke. It happened over and over hundreds or even thousands of times. It came and went with every culture. Farther back in our history, the ordinary conscious mind as we know it was rare and required extraordinary efforts of the many to sustain it in the few. Jaynes is right in that by the seventh century BC, the modern mind as it knows it was solidly established and has remained dominant up to today. It was nearly lost at the end of the Classical Age, but survived to shape the post-modern mind.
Jaynes did not consider the origins of the bicameral mind beyond suggesting that it was the inevitable result of the lateralization of a developing cortex. He could be right, but I’ll go a step farther and suggest that our original mind was neither bicameral nor conscious. Our starter mind, which has remained the same for eons and is the same one that every human child is born with, is now referred to as our unconscious mind. We are raised to do the other two. If you can read this, your conscious mind came from an installation kit however unique or maverick your individual self may be. Each one of us repeats this mental evolution as we experience our lives. We experience growing up in a society that enforces uniformity in that evolution so all its members develop the same mental infrastructure. Even isolated from society, a human is likely to develop the capacity to create new organizations of its mind. Either way, there must be a life experience in order to generate the more complex mentalities. Anyone can get their own conscious mind, if only occasionally, but maintaining a society depends on conformity in the world that everyone is conscious of. For society, that process also requires a life experience, only this one belongs to society. From its increasing complexity emerges the mass-consciousness which is an experience much like our own, only we’re not the ones having it. Don’t worry, I can explain why this isn’t nuts.
Developing a conscious mind doesn’t make the mind you started with go away. It’s still doing most of the work and experiencing most of your physical life. Face it, we’re not conscious of all that much about ourselves or the world around us. I think the reason the unconscious mind and what it does is unreachable is because it’s too fast. If you’re conscious, your mind is taking way too long creating consciousness to be able to be conscious of your real mind. The only access our minds have to the physical world is as something that already happened. I found help with this idea in Tor Norretranders’ The User Illusion- Cutting Consciousness Down to Size. That title, and the eyeball on cover, caught my eye which spotted a chapter in the table of contents called The Half-Second Delay. Tor was also suggesting that consciousness takes longer and showcased Benjamin Libet’s experiments on patients already involved in brain surgery. The tests were simple examples of perception requiring verbal responses that demonstrated time has some kind of measurable something to do with when we perceive, respond or make choices and when we become conscious of them. It has evoked a lot of interesting stuff, but I’ve found no satisfying explanation of Libet’s results from Tor. Nor have I found one from anyone else. I see no alternative but mine.
I will be hijacking very familiar words which will take on very particular meanings, but I won’t be straying that far from what they already mean to most everyone. I want to start with everyone’s own meaning of consciousness and then carve away the bits that are really different things our minds are doing. There will be a lot of words that carry tremendous baggage with many, like ascension, aspiration and apocalypse and that’s just the a’s. I beg your indulgence in seeing things my way just for the duration of this flight of fancy. All the material together will make a long winded explanation of the meaning of the title. I’ll try to sell the notion that identity rises to its highest level of organization is a fundamental description of reality. One of lots, probably, but the first of three I’ll present as principles of orgonomics which is, here at least, the science of the way reality is organized.
I’m sure this already sounds like a lot less than a science book. So I’ll jump at the chance to mention it will be even less of a religious book. I’ll be making no claim to any anointed knowledge from supreme beings, or offering any kind of enlightenment nor was any necessary to write this. Everyone has to get out on their own. I hope to shed some light on getting out of what. I insist on all this being considered as the superficial thought-science that it is. I’m not going to challenge you with anything more than issues of personal experience that either jive with yours, or they don’t. I’ll rely entirely on the work of well-established stalwarts for the hard-tack science stuff which will include nothing more unconventional or presumptuous than some of Jaynes’ model of the emerging ego-self and Benjamin Libet’s time delay experiments.
The rest is some unconventional presumptions of my own. Starting with this one. The particular course of life that led to us involved three distinct changes in the kind of opportunity for experience our physical form provided as it evolved over eons. With each change, a new kind of living organization in God’s creation had become possible, hence available to become part of the experience of living. For us humans, that includes the experience of the total animal with the mind functioning as a part of the body, the mind organized as an experience in and of itself, and the action of an organized mind which creates the experience of consciousness. Each time, the existing organization grows in complexity and adds up to a new organization that couldn’t have existed until that level of complexity had been achieved. This process will be described as three stages of organization that emerged or ascended one upon the other eons apart. Each stage represents the kind of organization we were capable of becoming in any of our ancestors various primitive forms, from squishy to bony to both.
One example of such an ascension is popularly known to anthropologists as The Great Leap Forward. Somewhere around 150,000 BC, something inspired a sudden increase in our tool making ability and got us migrating off across the world to start new communities. Human experience had changed. It was the end result of the emergence of a new organization of our minds. But this was not our first ascension. Long before that, our minds started out as a part of our primitive animal self with a job to do- controlling balance and motion, being a timekeeper, making the tough choices for the good of all of itself and keeping us motivated toward our physical survival needs. This first stage mind is one notch down from the unconscious, and was created many hundreds of millions of years ago. At this level our minds work faster and more directly. All the reflexes and survival drives and our most basic emotions were created in this mind before any of the higher brain functions came along or even a cortex to have them in. Most of us spend some amount of time experiencing this organization of ourselves. We abandon our usual mentality when physicality becomes primary experience. The whole nervous system is directly and immediately experienced, ahead of the mind. For a person in this state, instant by instant, the experience is usually over before a needlessly comprehensive accumulation of sensory information is produced for mental experience.
Fortunately for us and other successful creatures, our physical lives are not so non-stop dramatic. Once we’re just lying around, this mental tardiness became an advantage. Our finely honed perceptual abilities were a fantastic experience when they were coalesced into mental organizations. It only takes a fraction of a second to do and we found it was worth the wait. Spared of needing to know the tedious details of survival, the mind can make dazzling inner presentations with only selected information creating a very desirable mental experience. Such productions are second stage organizations and were first created slightly fewer millions of years ago. That was the previous Great Leap. Back when our distant animal ancestors first ascended into an experience of the mind. This is the mind and body that together make up the organic self.
Fleeting moments of first and second stage activity have the most control over how you react to things that are happening to you. Slower and slightly later than animal experience, our internal mentality or unconscious mind is still fast for analysis or contemplation. Thinking, as we might think of it, would require a mentality that was a whole departure from the mind we started with and a considerable departure in time from the here and now it would contemplate. In this case an organization of mind that was built differently than what we started with. Our minds had learned to generate a mental organization that took a lot more time to create but was capable of perceiving lots of static information at once. It could hold its attention on lots of information and organize it. Like the operating system of a computer, this overlord provides a perspective from which sequences of information about the world can be created. For humans, this is a third stage organization built upon second stage organizations of our original mind. It’s not the mind itself. It’s something the mind is doing.
This development may have been going on as far back as our prehuman ancestors and perhaps to other forms of animal life. Something singular and Great Leap-like happened that probably could of happened at any time since 150,000 years ago. This Great Leap occurred when we started doing something new and different with our complex and time-consuming mental operating system. In a long and painful process, we discovered that our new mentality could become our experience instead of simply experiencing the mind itself. Our self-identity, what our soul experiences, had finally gotten comfortable with the third stage of human self-organization and made it its new home. We had ascended into our conscious minds. We did this by mutually creating a world to be conscious of and shaping our surroundings to insure that we will be conscious of the same world tomorrow. That would insure the same conscious self wakes up in it.
Consciousness has never been something we do constantly. Our minds still reorganize into all kinds of states some conscious, some not. Most of them are provoked. The relationship between our second and third stage mentalities has been rocky, complicated and best described with psychology or comedy. Because of their very different time frames, either mind cannot perceive the other directly. Each can see only the results of each other’s choices after they’re made. All through our history we have grappled with our inner duality and endlessly examined and explained it to ourselves. How well our two minds lived with each other could decide our fate. We live with the same managed duality today. Our modern lives require constant control over their relationship. They need to work well together.
Conscious mentalities are versatile tools of learning. Your body knows how to drive and react to a red light. It knows how to get to you to work. It learned by experience. All the rest of it, like the rules of the road or how the car works, were learned by information and had to be remembered as information. The first time you drove to work, you needed information like street signs, a map or a list. You had to be conscious of where you were and had to think about how to get there. With repetition, the organic mind and body can learn to react, make associations and perform a sequence of pre-chosen actions like checking the mirror or signaling. Eventually, your organic self will remember the route to work as a sequence of connected experiences while your conscious mind wanders or talks on the phone.
Being on the whole a successful adaptation for humans, it made our population grow and meant raising new generations that had to think with, and eventually experience, a conscious mind. But it required intensive and early installation. Eventually, the process dominates childhood as the whole course of civilization is stuffed into their brains before their turn at parenthood comes. For us modern urbanites, maximizing our third stage abilities starts with ferocity early in childhood, as fast as the mind is able. In our modern world, experiencing the conscious mind is absolutely necessary. Our first moments of sustained third stage consciousness may have been while stressing over math problems. Long ago, it was reserved for puberty, or adulthood, and often for the elite only, with the rest of the population forbidden to be self-conscious except when Great Leader induces various trance states to control them for various endeavors. If a society is successful, self-consciousness becomes widespread through all class barriers. Soon after, that society will become powerful enough to do the sorts of things that we think of as civilization.
In a self-conscious society, everyone has a place in it. We all have our own game piece that represents what we are in the world we are conscious of. Everyone gets an ego. That’s when we begin to experiencing something that only exists because we think it does. The ego experiences a world that is only there because we think it’s there. The conscious world can dominate the egos that create it. Looking back at history, this has happened a lot.
We have done this Mighty Civilization thing dozens of times that we know of, and maybe more that we don’t. We can trace civilization as far back as its oldest known remains. Places like Iraq, where if we’re really careful, we can uncover evidence of city life from 6000 years ago. It would mostly appear that before then, we were too busy struggling as small subsistence communities to bother to think about history, the future, or leaving anything behind for either. And we lived like that for 150,000 years. Before that, our pre-human ancestors lived as hunter/gatherers with brains much like ours for half a million years. And before that, in a more primitive form that still boasted a cerebral cortex, we lurked about for 4 million years. We have already seen that the leap from farming to electric light can be done inside of six millennia and spaceships in a century more. But human beings just like ourselves have been around long enough to repeat it twenty five times. The first Homo sapiens could have done it seventy times. The age of creatures with a brain roughly like ours would swallow all of recorded history six hundred times. What were we doing? Are we sure nothing ever happened? Civilizations could have come and gone numerous times in forms we will never know. Technologies may have come and gone in forms that we couldn’t recognize even if we found them. Who knows how many times we or creatures like us have mined the earth, built bridges or flown. The Pyramids are 45 hundred years old and showing their age. What would 45 thousand years do to them… or Manhattan?
I don’t intend to chase down any mega-ancient civilizations here. I bring it up to make two obvious points. On the whole, none of them has been successful. And not being successful brings about the demise of not only the citizens, but the world they believed they lived in. The artifacts they left behind had meanings that helped create the world they saw around them in their minds that is gone and was never actually here except that their minds were here. Some were destroyed by overwhelming tragedy like disasters and famine and war. But those that weren’t overwhelmed and survived all those things still managed eventually to be just as destroyed.
They faced a crisis of self-destruction that can be like a volcanic eruption or a slow rot. The world in our minds becomes a conundrum or just too great a departure from our physical existence. People start to abandon it. Society weakens until vulnerable to sudden destruction. It’s as if some great supernatural ruin came upon them and tore their world apart. I won’t be indorsing anyone’s particular brand of Apocalypse, but I would point out that obviously something beyond them, something they felt they couldn’t control as individuals, took them out of where they thought they were. The cost was the social cohesion that held their world together. In the past, this kind of social trauma was occasional and often fatal to cultures that lived in a less connected world than ours. Generations that live during the way down have the hardest time. They live with a wealth of details that have no value. No one else believes their world is there. Their minds contain a forgotten currency. Their descendents will ignore the mysterious old stuff because it’s irrelevant. Their cultural inheritance becomes as useless as a program with no computer to run on. In the past, cultural traumas like this were more isolated and seen as singular historical events. Most generation didn’t see much change.
This happens in big waves that ripple through big cultures like ours. Change comes so fast now, every generation gets to experience a little bit of the End of the World. Change begins to occur at a rate that most benefits the culture itself. Its needs come first. Its citizens have more of its needs to fill before they can fill their own. We call that growth. We expect each other to keep up. We are convinced that keeping our culture alive and growing is the only way to keep ourselves alive. Even if doing so means hurting each other or threatening our collective survival.
This is the crisis of identity that a thriving, enduring culture will ultimately create for itself. We fear that our selves will vanish into the abyss if we loose what the world is to us. This is a powerful motivation to do whatever it takes to protect a society and put its survival above our own. Eventually, so much effort and resources are consumed in protecting what we think we are, we can barely sustain what we actually are.
From any civilization anywhere in time, those who saw the end coming started looking for a way out. For many that means retreating into local culture with less social complexity and ethical ambiguity. Society then fractures into sub-cultures that answer to different authorities, as if an organism broke apart into its individual cells who then start leading separate lives. It’s not a way out, but insecurity can become the new reason to protect an older, smaller world.
Many of us are taking a serious look beyond our lives as we know them, and into the abyss. Imagine, still with all your physical needs and nothing you know how to do will meet them. That can scare hell out of anyone. Like many before us, we scramble to strengthen the fort. Protecting not just the stuff, but what we think the stuff is. Also like many before us, we find that the harder we work to sustain and protect the systems we create, the faster and further we progress toward serious destruction. It still scares the hell out of everyone. Recent generations have seen this evolve from a vague supernatural dread into a tangible fear for our physical lives.
Fear of the awfulness of an Apocalypse would prevent any one society from choosing to destroy the world. That’s why there has to be two sides. At least. Each side has to make only their share of the choices and the end result will seem like God declared the end. But God has no role in the Apocalypse and never has. We do this all by ourselves, and altogether and with frightening regularity. Throughout our history, it’s only our own world we’re destroying over and over. The earth is still here. We are probably the first bunch to come along who are able correct that oversight. We could end this the hard way. We know our own dedication to choosing to commit the full extant of destruction necessary to insure that our side prevails forever. Since their side is thinking the same thing, we can achieve the same apocalypse-rated result by mutually inflicting destruction on each other. Only a few of us on each side need hold this commitment deeply. Just those who refuse to surrender their commitment to a faith that would willingly take its part in doomsday. Most of us already personally reject those particular versions of our faiths, but live in political systems that carry on as if they still embraced them.
Those of us in the past and the present who feel less committed to the contents of the fort than their own survival strive to change the system into a form that is less flammable. But that just makes them one more fist in a socio-political brawl. Whatever New Way comes along is still faced with dealing with how far it will have to go to insure its survival among all the other New Ways. Anything done as a cultural herd is done in the conscious world, and is not the way out. The only political movement to survive the Big Knife Fight is the one that never lifts a knife. Surrender is the only way to prevail. Others have said this before.
Many attempts now and through history have been made to create a way out of a fallen world that no one wants to live in by becoming a new self. Such were Christianity and Islam in their original forms. Both were born of worlds that were already there and offered a way out of them. These religions, and lots of others, can provide guidance in finding the path that leads out. It is, in fact, what any reasonable morality can do. A disciplined detachment from the ego-self and the world it lives in is required before any ascension to a new self can occur. This is often misconstrued as the destruction of the ego self, which requires only intoxication, or worse, as a mandate for the destruction of the world. But neither the world nor the ego has to go anywhere. Nothing needs to be defended to the last man.
The way out is beyond the conscious world and lots of people know that already. They might disagree about to where. The irony is that practically everybody is experiencing this ascension routinely but in isolation. Being out is indistinguishable from spiritual experience. Out becomes a part of our spiritual life. I call these cognitive mental states. They are like what consciousness was long ago, an entirely new organization, and again, a new opportunity for identity. It comes and goes amid all the other configurations of our mental infrastructure. We experience a cognitive self that exists each in a unique cognitive world. We see ourselves being conscious. We see consciousness as something we are doing, and not something we are. Unlike the conscious self, there is no corresponding cultural continuum to be cognizant in. It’s an individual experience, like being outside of everything or above it all or feeling that you’re just not part of this world. We make some cognitive connections in smaller organizations like friends or families but we’ve only begun to make the connections to get a cognitive world started. We are alienated and alienate each other in frustration over the lack of connections between us except for the proscribed and superficial communication channels of our cultures. The commonality of the conscious world is still what connects us all and makes any cognitive life possible. Nothing is gained by hurting it or trying to get rid of it. Even with all our self-inflicted inequity and injustice, nothing would be improved by harming our infrastructure until the conscious world no longer connects us. But it is time for it to serve us instead of the other way around.
What kind of world am I describing? It’s not a world at all, but a way of looking at the same world we are now and have always been looking at. Instead of being conscious of a world that we believe is actually where we are, we perceive that we are conscious of the world. This may describe many people right now even if only in certain circumstances. It is a relativistic conscious world seen as an observer and not as an occupant. We are its owner and creator. Any apparent absolutes in the conscious world are only absolute relative to the perspective of the observer, which is our experience of consciousness. You may find plenty of absolutes in the real world but again, only relative to when and where you really are and not where you think you are. These are the essentials of relativism… a much abused and abandon word for which I claim salvage rights. Presented here in its newly renovated form fully updated and with the last brick of its original foundation removed, relativism describes a reality where you can live a lot more of the life you may already be leading.
Critics of relativism can not imagine living in a world without absolutes. That’s fine. The idea is to not live in the conscious world at all. Critics would say this cuts us off from right and wrong. That’s fine, too. This view should not undermine morality by removing its absolute authority or certainty of punishment. Morality is highly recommended in any of its many forms as long as it was freely chosen by individuals and democratically chosen by society. Obviously, they’d have to be really good choices that were exercised responsibly. Inspiring that morality in new generations requires us showing them that it works. Permanently sealing up whatever we come up with as the truth means sooner or later, we will have to defend it from ourselves. In the conscious world, the truth can kill us. That’s why we kill each other in the real world. The truth that really matters to our survival is the truth of God’s creation, and that truth is only true the instant that it’s true. In the conscious mind, the truth must be given the same illusion of permanence that we give our ego-selves. Acknowledging the illusion releases both from their stasis. Relativism requires no permanence of truth in either world.
What if all it was about was the way we think about things. That’s all we had to change. Nothing has to be built, no money appropriated or magic words intoned. All we had to give up is certainty. The permanence we bestow is an illusion. Freedom for all means and letting go of the truth. Not to fall from it, but rise above it. The only ascension from here is beyond the conscious mind. The challenge once again is to escape our conscious selves as a society without destroying the conscious world that gave us the comfy lives that give this crisis any meaning or relevance. No one ever has before, but no one’s ever had a better chance. This guidebook requests that you brown bag your own enlightenment. This will only show the way to the border. Everyone has to get out on their own.On to Chapter I