Blog Archives

Non-Conceptual Experience — A Primal Perspective on Spirituality, Part Eight: The Making of a Calmer Crazy Person … Why Meditation by Itself Is Often Not Enough

meditation-the-making-of-a-calmer-crazy-person

Cerebral Distortion and the Importance of Connection: It May Be That, Without Therapy, the Real Benefits of Spiritual Practice Are Not Attainable by Most Westerners

0020-533225_1976819996975_1737376259_944265_47690847_n

Non-Conceptual Experience

It would seem that some spiritual disciplines and religions are able to give some people a taste of more “alive” experiences than would ordinarily be possible by temporarily reducing the amount of pain-energized cortical activity or “noise.” In Huxley’s classic work, The Doors of Perception (1954), he makes a point that there are many “temporary by-passes” to “brain-as-reducing-valve,” some of which he directly relates to a slowdown of cortical activity through physiological means (pp. 23-24).

xnyh05_thumb2

Meditation Tries to “Cut Through” the Pain

Meditation, specifically, appears to be a method of attempting to still the pain-driven cortical ramblings to gain access to nonverbal experience. In primal terms it may be said to be an attempt to bypass second-line pain and go directly to nonconceptual first-line material. This is not to say that some second-line is not dealt with. In addition to the evidence presented by Kornfield (1979) and Kapleau (1980), we might also remember that Muktananda’s journey inward was characterized by smiles and tears. Apparently, some second-line connections were made. Yet the meditative technique seems structured, basically, to get “below” these “personal” levels as soon as possible.

 0011-scream6g1

In meditation one attempts to maintain a “calm, detached attitude while observing his mental processes,” and the goal is to attend to thoughts that will deepen meditation and allow other distracting or disturbing thoughts to arise and burst without becoming involved in them (Rama et al., 1976, pp. 149-150). In this way the body learns to associate the relaxed state with what had formerly been disturbing thoughts, ever productive of cerebral “noise.”

chaotic-meditation

Primal and Meditation Both Access Nonconceptual Experience

icarus-suspended-_2-2009-dario-puggioni_thumbThis meditation technique is vastly different from a primal one wherein all disturbing thoughts are allowed full sway in consciousness. Nevertheless, both do seem to provide access to underlying nonverbal levels. In fact, I have been told by one person who has experienced first-line pain in both meditation and primal that the phenomena encountered are identical: They are primarily body phenomena that the conceptual parts of the brain can interpret in a number of ways.

brazil21_thumb

Meditation and Primal Both Access Body Memories of Birth and the Perinatal

In this respect, we might recall the descriptions of death-rebirth that are so commonly found in the spiritual literature and in the ethnographies of nonliterate peoples. Though primalers will invariably relate their particular experiences of this sort to their own biological births, in the psychedelic literature we find many examples of people reliving their births and using spiritual concepts, such as death-rebirth, to explain their experiences … although it should be noted that often in subsequent relivings the biological elements become too obvious to ignore.

images-21

The Importance of Connection

Apparently, it is only in the ways that these experiences are interpreted that shows up as a difference between them. Whereas Muktananda felt the “hopping” his body did was like that of a frog, someone in primal might realize that the jerks and kicks were actually the eruption of unresolved tensions from her or his birth.

10-emergence-440_thumb

Janov would say, however, that this difference in interpretation is an important one. For if one is interpreting these nonverbal body feelings in spiritual or other terms, one is not linking them up with one’s personal reality or one’s own experiences. One is not “connecting”; one is not seeing how that particular pattern of pain has influenced one’s second-line pain, nor how it has influenced one’s life history and present patterns of behavior. Thus, Janov would say that no change in those patterns of behavior can occur.

pink_floyd_the_wall_still_thumb

Cerebral Distortion

It would seem that first-line access without connection to second-and third-line—that is to say, without connection to how those birth and prenatal events influenced one’s childhood experiences and current life feelings and circumstances—would keep the cortical programs intact. Neural energies would continue proceeding along familiar distorted pathways, and these pain-necessitated elements of the antiquated defense system would remain to influence and distort the perceptions of one’s deeper experiences.

31018_224910937639290_493738849_n

A Calmer State with a Disturbed Understanding May Result from Meditation on Its Own

On the other hand, one could make a case that very real, repressed energy is released during these first-line encounters no matter how they are interpreted. This energy, then, is no longer driving the excess cortical activity common to neurotics and characteristic of the beta state. The effect is that of less “noise,” calmer brain wave activity, and an increased capability to gain access to subtler energies.

access-to-subler-energies

Therefore, the fact that connections are not made and the original cerebral pathways are not altered seems to mark the difference between the primal and spiritual first-line encounters. I will discuss the effects of this further on.

464684684581661_thumb

Differences in Pain

It should be pointed out that for some this difference may not represent a real problem. Some people may simply not have much second-line pain, or even first-line pain blocking the perception of clear Reality.

People Differ in the Amount of Life Trauma Separating Them from Bliss

chiron_by_summitstudios_thumbApparently, there are vast differences in the amount of pain that people carry around, as Grof has demonstrated in reference to his LSD subjects. He found that there were some people who, after dealing with and reliving psychodynamic and perinatal material for a few sessions, would proceed to transpersonal experiences for the remainder of their sessions. This was especially true of professionals who were undergoing the treatment as part of their training. imluipopoiuoygages1This was in contrast to others with manifest neurotic and psychotic symptoms, many of whom had been hospitalized and often required scores of sessions dealing with their personal material before proceeding to transpersonal material (Grof, 1970, p. 2).

“Humanity … Is Neurotic”.”

0023-vaultsecretdublinAlso there might be cultural differences. Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh (Osho) wrote that “humanity, itself, is neurotic” because society requires that each person be “conditioned” and “molded into a particular pattern” and not be “allowed to be just whatever he is” (1976, p. 26). Further, he said that this may have had something to do with the fact that the great spiritual masters, who themselves realized, could not help the greater portion of humanity to reach enlightenment (p. 27).

Westerners Might Be “Crazier” and Thus Find It More Difficult

Keep this in mind along with the evidence that Americans have traditionally ranked among the lowest in the world in the general indulgence we afford our infants (Whiting & Child, 1953). Additionally, we are, in cross-cultural perspective, “quite severe in the general socialization of [our] children,” especially in regards to such important events as weaning and toilet training where we have been judged to be “exceptionally early and exceptionally severe” and “in a hurry to start the training process” (p. 320). These things be truing, we may say that we are, in some ways, more “neurotic” than many other cultures.

images_thumb1

It May Be That the Real Benefits of Spiritual Practice Cannot Be Gained by Most Westerners

Considering all this we might question why we think we can just adopt, wholesale, the techniques that have been developed down through the centuries and, especially, for use in other cultures. For if, as Rajneesh says, the spiritual techniques don’t work because they do not address humanity as it is—that is to say, neurotic—then meditation and similar practices may be said to be even less applicable to a modern “severely conditioned” … and more traumatized … Westerner.

0019-robocop06crppd

Continued with Bad Karma Enters Us Through Our Birth and Womb Experiences … Meditation as a Defense: A Primal Perspective on Spirituality, Part Nine — Karmic Genetics

Return to The Joy Beneath the Pain and Positive Possibilities of Experiential Process: A Primal Perspective on Spirituality, Part Seven — The Roots of Bliss

Invite you to join me on Twitter:
http://twitter.com/sillymickel

friend me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sillymickel

The Doors of Perception: Each of Us Is Potentially Mind At Large… When Perception Is Cleansed, All Kinds of Nonordinary Things Happen

 

Why Everything Appears Infinite when the Doors of Perception Are Cleansed: Biologically Constituted Realities, Part 4 — “Mind at Large” and The Awakening

Summary: Our combined efforts in psychology, physics, biology, and anthropology have led us to an impasse. We have been led to conclude that our view of reality is symbolic. We have learned, above all, not what to know, but that we know not . . . i.e., that we are incapable of truly knowing.

So, if we can’t know, why then bother to know anything? We seek to know because it is useful to our biological survival to know. That which we “know,” in our most refined science and in our daily lives, is that which is, or has been, in some way useful to the biological existence of our species.

Each one of us is potentially Mind at Large. each person is at each moment capable of remembering all that has ever happened to him and of perceiving everything that is happening everywhere in the universe. But in so far as we are animals, our business is at all costs to survive. To make biological survival possible, Mind at Large has to be funneled through the reducing valve of the brain and nervous system. What comes out at the other end is a measly trickle of the kind of consciousness which will help us to stay alive on the surface of this particular planet

When this is reversed by various methods, and the brain is itself inhibited from its task of reducing awareness so that “Mind at Large seeps past the no longer watertight valve, all kinds of biologically useless things start to happen.”

“If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is … infinite.” – William Blake

 

Why We Seek to Know

Ordinary Reality is Useful

In view of all this, one might ask, if one cannot have any truly accurate conception or even “sense” of what is really real, why then bother to know anything? Well, we bother to know because it is a helpful part of our species-specific worldview to do so. We have evolved, as nearly as we can determine, through a process of natural selection based on survival. We are, consequently, the endproduct of a biological drive to exist, to live—in all that may biologically, or otherwise, connote. Hence, that which we “know,” in our most refined science and in our daily lives, is that which is, or has been, in some way useful to the biological existence of our species.

Ordinary Science is Useful

This so-called “real-world” information is important because, then, it relates to our very biological aliveness. It has worth and it has value in that. That which comprises our species-world (as opposed to the “World-In-Itself”), indeed, is extremely relevant to everything that we think of as living and existing . . . for our species. The point I make, however, is that our senses and our sciences (which are extensions of our senses) are not ultimately in any one-to-one relationship to That Which Is . . . that our refined as well as cruder perceptions of reality are bioculturally relative—even more biologically relative than they are culturally relative in Marshall Sahlins‘s allegedly extreme theory.

Though We Know Not

Neither Ordinary Reality or Science Is Necessarily Real

Let me put it this way. Our combined efforts in psychology, physics, biology, and anthropology (examples of which I have indicated in this article) have led us to an impasse. We have been led to conclude that our view of reality is symbolic. We have learned, above all, not what to know, but that we know not . . . i.e., that we are incapable of truly knowing.

In anthropology we see this in Sahlins’s (1976) thinking on culture. But D’Andrade makes the important point, as mentioned earlier, that in Sahlins’s theory the total cultural heritage is a symbolic structure. Thus, his theory is “epistemologically sealed.” My point is that since our total biological heritage is also a “symbolic structure”—in the sense at least that it is a species-relative created reality providing analogous representations, survival-oriented metaphors only of That Which Is—we are “epistemologically sealed” as regards That Which Is and specifically in terms of understanding other known or unknown species. Our reality is symbolic and “sealed” prior to the cultural symbolism that creates further obfuscation between people in different cultures.

Paradigm Relativity

We see that there are therefore levels of applicability of “knowledge.” We might think of these as paradigms. But as surely as there are cultural paradigms, there are biological paradigms. I am saying that every biological configuration of spirit represents a separate paradigm for interpreting reality. [Footnote 3]

The Awakening … A New Paradigm Perspective

It might be helpful to mention Huxley’s (1956) way of viewing this matter. In his classic work, The Doors of Perception, he quotes Dr. C. D. Broad on the importance of considering a view of memory and sense perception, originally proposed by Bergson, in which “the function of the brain and nervous system and sense organs is in the main eliminative” (p. 22).

What Is Outside All Paradigms … Really Real

By way of explanation, Huxley (1956), still quoting Broad, writes

Each person is at each moment capable of remembering all that has ever happened to him and of perceiving everything that is happening everywhere in the universe. The function of the brain and nervous system is to protect us from being overwhelmed and confused by this mass of largely useless and irrelevant knowledge, by shutting out most of what we should otherwise perceive or remember at any moment, and leaving only that very small and special selection which is likely to be practically useful. (pp. 22-23)

Mind at Large Is “Really Real”

Huxley (1956) adds

According to such a theory, each one of us is potentially Mind at Large. But in so far as we are animals, our business is at all costs to survive. To make biological survival possible, Mind at Large has to be funneled through the reducing valve of the brain and nervous system. What comes out at the other end is a measly trickle of the kind of consciousness which will help us to stay alive on the surface of this particular planet. (p. 23)

When the Doors of Perception Are Cleansed, The Nonordinary Happens

Furthermore, Huxley (1956) points out, when this is reversed by various methods, and the brain is itself inhibited from its task of reducing awareness so that “Mind at Large seeps past the no longer watertight valve, all kinds of biologically useless things start to happen” (p. 26).

Continue with How We Might Come to Know: In Tossing Away Our Species Blinders, We Relearn That Consciousness Is Infinite, Yes … but Fantastic as Well.

Return to  We Are What We’ve Experienced and The Perinatal Paradigm: Our Conception, Gestation, and Birth Create Our Windows to the World

Footnote

3. This perspective has much in common with Wilber’s (1977) “spectrum of consciousness” view of reality. Though, for reasons which will become clear as we proceed, I must stress that this position does not synchronize with Wilber’s later formulations (e.g., 1980, 1981), where he has conformed his view to the more traditional and presumptuous Western biases; biases that are distinctly at odds with an essential point I have emphasized in this article of making diligent our attempts at wiping away any ethnocentric as well as anthropocentric residue from our lenses if we are to have any chance at all for even minimal success in our venturing into Reality. (Cf. Winkelman 1990; Adzema 1991)

 

Continue with How We Might Come to Know: In Tossing Away Our Species Blinders, We Relearn That Consciousness Is Infinite, Yes … but Fantastic as Well.

Return to  We Are What We’ve Experienced and The Perinatal Paradigm: Our Conception, Gestation, and Birth Create Our Windows to the World

Invite you to join me on Twitter:
http://twitter.com/sillymickel

friend me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sillymickel

%d bloggers like this: