Monday, September 8, 2014

To Exercise Will - A Position Paper


Every morning whenever possible I go to the local gym to exercise the physical body that carries me around.  The gym has plenty of treadmills, weights, and body-building machines to address all the muscle groups.  Personal trainers are on hand for those who wish for guidance with a physical fitness program.  Anyone can walk in off the street, sign-up and slowly begin to transform their physical body into something more efficient.  Anyone.  It's not all that difficult to build muscles.

A sizeable culture of health, wellness and physical fitness has sprung up as predicted by rascal philosopher Timothy Leary in his 8 circuit model of the development of the human nervous system  published in The Game of Life and elsewhere.

We see the results of extreme body development in competitive sports.  The art, science, and sometimes grace of going for the max with the body.  I'm not suggesting to go and do this only making the point that the physical vehicle - circuit 1 (C1) in Leary's model, can develop far beyond ordinary capacity through consistent practice and exercise.  I'm stating the obvious.

The same gets said regarding the intellectual mind, the intellect. It can learn and develop far beyond ordinary capacity through consistent challenging use. Vast institutions of learning, Halls of Science, think-tanks, research laboratories and schools of all kinds exist to develop and expand our intellectual capabilities.  There are all kinds of ways to get smarter.

It seems so easy to develop the body and/or intellect if one is so inclined and has sufficient economic means.  When walking on the treadmill I always read a book.  Realizing I could catch up on reading is what got me addicted to exercise in the first place.  I don't read anything extremely difficult, but get a lot from what I do read and it passes the time enjoyably.

To continue with Doc Leary's model we shall take one step back and view it as Gurdjieff did.  He said that ordinary (wo)man has the potential  to have three "brains" or centers operating: the physical, emotional, and intellectual centers.  However ordinarily only 2 and 1/2 work, because the emotional centrum almost always remains little developed compared to what it could be.  Hopefully things have changed since Gurdjieff''s time, but they haven't changed enough.  According to a Professor Amaral at a convention about Gurdjieff and Steve Jobs:

Mr. Gurdjieff identified the second, emotional brain as 'atrophied,' characterizing this as the chief cause of war. 

The future of human life depends on Man's ability to bridge this gap and to reconcile the rapidly accelerating technological innovation since Maxwell, beginning 1875. Apple, Inc.'s products can generally be understood as focusing, amplifying and facilitating tools for the growth and expansion of emotional-brain capacity. Apple's tremendous success in the marketplace can be seen as an existence-proof of the effectiveness of this strategy. This success may now be in jeopardy."

Damn right about the jeopardy! With the Third World War possibly brewing in the Baltics, and horrendous inhumanities done in the name of ISIS, the Islamic State, in their reality tunnel throwback to the savagery and brutality of the Middle Ages as just two examples.  Obama looks greyer every day. I know Amaral wasn't talking about the World Situation, but the collapse of (so-called) economic order or a World War would likely hurt Apple sales too!

Computers may very well potentially focus, amplify and facilitate the growth and expansion of emotional brain capacity and though it may have effectively helped sell and brand Apple products, so far no evidence can be seen of any significant change in the collective emotional brain on a global scale.  If anything, the possibility of a planet-wide war increases.

So how can the fitness minded citizen amplify the emotional brain?  I seriously doubt it will be through social media, which brings up another point to get to in a second.  Knowledge of the mechanics and operation of the emotional centrum is so obscure and buried to the mainstream that most people aren't even aware that it can be made to function more consciously and efficiently.  The point of bringing up the gym is to show by comparison that the emotional center of humans can be exercised and strengthened far beyond its common half-life state.  However, that doesn't answer the question.

Let's restate the question or problem working off of Prof. Amaral's formulation:  How can the fitness minded citizen amplify and focus the growth, expansion and radiation of the emotional brain?  In Thelemic terminology this is called "love under will" when done in alignment with all the brain circuits.

To answer the question or solve the problem we must define better what we mean by emotions.  What we wish to get to has been called higher emotions or real emotions but both terms seem misleading in some way, they don't really catch it ... only approximately, probably due to the difficulty of using words.  Leary's 8 circuit model provides a clearer picture.  He connects each of the basic 4 ordinary human animal circuits with a more refined non-human circuit.  Circuit 1, the physical, is the base for Circuit 5, somatic intelligence.  Circuit 2, the emotions, is the ground and foundation for the 6th Circuit which Leary called "The Neuro-Electric" in The Game of Life.  There are other names for it, but what you call it doesn't matter a great deal.  Leary was a qabalist, his whole model is qabalistically based, and if you learn about, taste and experience the emotions associated with the 6th key, the domain of Tiphareth - the usual ones associated with Christ, Buddha, Krishna etc ( see Crowley's 777, or Skinner's Complete Magician's Tables for a full list of correspondences with Tiphareth.) compassion for all, etc. you'll get a notion of C6 emotions.

The range of emotions experienced in the usual 2nd circuit are more like sentiments than emotions.  Shallow, superficial  emotions of the Hallmark card variety without much resonance or conscious attention.   Sentimentality has no radiance beyond a few inches and seems a damaging waste of time to the alchemist.

After writing the last paragraph I broke for the night.  Recording E.J. Gold the following morning doing his morning didgeridoo session on internet TV, he made some interesting comments related to C2: 

Everybody's working on getting hold of the negativity, getting the negativity out and the positive stuff in and getting things working and so on.  And there's all this neurosis kind of obsession - especially Americans, Western Europeans have also - this obsession with the inside of yourself - am I doing right? Am I put together properly or am I a mess? And ... chaos inside.  The chaotic interior is NORMAL for people because you're built chaotically, you're not built structurally in any kind of sensible way.  What happens is that your experience, as life unfolds for you, your experiences are sort of chaotic coming in and so your learning process is chaotic.  Psychologists today do not understand  that the learning process is a chaotic process.  It's an overlay of chaos, chaotic information which sorts itself out by emotional tags.

And it's weird because you can have this thing happen that triggers off these emotional triggers, that triggers off this reaction where you remember - you may not even know you're remembering it, but you relive, your body relives all the body reactions from some event and so forth..."

This emphasis on the 2nd brain shouldn't be mistaken for concentrating effort on that area alone.  It's just that this seems the most neglected, overlooked, and least understood part of the human psyche.  To reach and consistently maintain position in the 6th circuit, the non-human side of C2, requires the equilibrium, balance and focus of all the centers working in both unison and harmony.  Also, it seems wise to remember this remains only a model in an attempt to describe or point to something way beyond words.  It's not as compartmentalized as it sounds when you start differentiating between the various aspects of the human machine.  The boundaries are fuzzy.  They actually get fuzzier as the centers fuse.

Working with the aim of fully opening the heart chakra, as C6 also gets called, requires a great deal of Will, conscious, focused intention and .... lessee, oh I forgot ..... oh yeah,  memory!  "Remember yourself" are the 4th Way watch words.  Thelemites call the full realization of C6, the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel.  They say it's the seat of True Will; generally speaking, the knowledge of one's path and purpose in life.  That's consistent with Castenada's shamanic cosmology (wherever he got it from) when he wrote, paraphrasing from memory - "when at the crossroads deciding where to go, always follow the path with heart."  Sufis and various Eastern mystics call it the awakening of essence or being.

The fulcrum, the backbone, the guts of Will is attention.  Similar to the physical, emotional and mental circuits, attention acts like a muscle group that responds to exercise by becoming strong.  Anyone of reasonable health can make their attention bigger and more fit as easy as walking in a gym and using the exercise machines.  You can work out and buff up your attention just as much as any muscle group on your physical body.

Now here's some incentive though it likely won't be believed until experienced.  Strengthening attention acts as a form of life extension.  Attention slows down time, or, if you like, slows down the perception of time ... same thing as far as the body's aging mechanisms are concerned.  You hear about people in car accidents saying that everything went into slow motion during the accident.  This is because the crisis reflexively triggers attention far beyond normal.  Time seems to slow down as the velocity of brain activity speeds up.  This can be more subtly noticed in learning a new activity or the protocols of a new situation such as the first day on the job.  Everything happens very fast as you struggle to learn and keep up.  As you learn the ropes, the pace of activity slows to a manageable rate.  The so-called learning curve is a gathering, concentration and crystalization of attention related to the new subject or activity.  Experienced music producers can hear more in one playback of a song than the average listener because they've increased and trained their listening attention to an advanced degree such that the music doesn't go by as fast as it does to the untrained ear.

How to open the lotus flower of the sixth circuit remains mostly an occult activity.  Occult means hidden.  It doesn't mean dark or scary it means hidden.  It's my wish to make this knowledge less occult.  In Crowley's system the student is initially instructed to devote all their practices and magick to the attainment of the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel.  Though a somewhat archaic term for activating C6, it does reveal an aspect of that circuit not so obvious until experienced which is that the intuition becomes quite pronounced and expanded to a point where it can seem like a dialogue with an external Greater Intelligence.  Maybe that gives some idea about how foreign to common experience C6 will seem.

Esoteric schools such as Crowley's and the like serve as one kind of gymnasium for exercising Will and Attention; for activating and establishing a foothold in the non-human circuits slowly bringing to realization the hidden potentials of WoMan.  Participation in these schools doesn't necessarily require joining any organization.  You can do it from your home.  It can be as easy as walking in and out of a gym where you do as much or as little exercise as you like.

The eclectic approach to enlightenment gained currency in modern times through the efforts of Madame Blavatsky and the Theosophists to find a consistent inner truth threading through all religions and mythologies, the so-called perennial philosophy.  Crowley used this eclectic approach to marry Eastern Mysticism with Western Hermeticism and Alchemy to create his system of magick.  It also includes elements borrowed from various philosophers and poets, Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, modern psychology and physics among other things as well as a great deal of his dry humor.  Gurdjieff's school was similarly syncretic weaving a variety of sources together into a system of personal development. 

Still, how do we do this?  Unfortunately, we don't have a stock answer.  Every individual requires an individual approach.  We are only here to say that it can be done.  By anyone.  Yet everyone has to find their own way.  A wide variety of methodologies and exercises are out there.  Find what suits and works for you.  In the '60's one of Timothy Leary's advertisements for enlightenment urged everyone to "Create Your Own Religion."  In other words, take full advantage of the eclectic approach.  I read where Iggy Pop used to practice yoga while listening to heavy metal music.  That's what worked for him.  Tailoring and utilizing the eclectic approach to suit one's temperment and life goals is one meaning of Crowley's instruction: "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law."

The fine arts, creative arts in general is another major avenue for exercising the feeling centrum.  Some music, dance, theater, poetry, literature, paintings etc. can make us really feel.  Acquiring expertise in any of those fields either as creator, consumer or both, refines and increases aesthetic appreciation all around.  A high aesthetic, meaning a developed sense of beauty reflexively illuminates the heart.

Read great books that stir the soul, fall in love with everything and write poetry meant to move your beloved to unknown heights and depths.  Take a cue from Sonny Rollins and play the saxophone from the Williamsburg Bridge in the dead of night or something similar.  Any creative endeavor can tap and stimulate the intelligence of the heart as can taking in symphonies or concerts, plays and films.  Certainly not all of them, maybe only a minimum percentage, but C2 like all the circuits does behave like a "brain" with it's own intuition and instinct.

In the film Beetlejuice we see a metaphor for a newly born non-human intelligence ( the Maitlands, the dead couple) having to develop skills and functions in the strange new territory ( the Bardo) they find themselves in.  Their guide Juno suggests: 

 "Start simply, do what you know, use your talents, practice."

Strange new territory succinctly describes the vistas and valleys, highways and byways encountered on the way to full C6 blossoming.  Like a stranger in a strange land.  Heinlein in that book (Stranger...) gives a formula of attainment in the protagonist's name: Valentine (heart)  Michael (fire) Smith (anyone/everyone).

Real changes will start to occur as the feeling centrum catches up with the body and mind in functionality.   Empathy may start to get experienced more often as sensitivity increases.  Another  side effect is the awakening of conscience toward the bigger picture.  A Gurdjieff website writes:

The need for the awakening of conscience is a primary theme of Beelzebub’s Tales, especially given the horrors of the situation, with humankind engaging in the processes of reciprocal destruction, war and animal slaughter, and producing an increasingly inferior quality of Askokin vibrations.

Askokin vibrations are what the Beach Boys were singing about in Good Vibrations; very much a C6 product.

Gurdjieff assigns a central role to the awakening of conscience in the alchemy of transformation.  Conscience is a state in which a human “feels all at once everything that he in general feels and can feel.”  (Ouspensky, 1949)  This form of feeling together serves to unify an individual’s presence, overcoming the inner inconsistencies and contradictions maintained by “buffers” or defences.

It will be observed that Conscience, as defined here to be capability of feeling, expands with practice although this might not be noticed day to day.  Sometimes it can feel like nothing there.  Progress isn't linear yet all efforts are cumulative.  It can feel dry for weeks at a time.  However, one's progress can get verified and tested.  For example, the next time you get stopped by a cop, remember yourself enough to make silent being contact with them by however you do it and see what happens.  Children and pets can also be good for this kind of feedback.

Crowley's contribution was to join Will and Love.  His system is called Thelema, an ancient Greek word for Will that adds up to 93 by Greek numerology.  Agape, a Greek word for Divine Love also adds to 93 hence the identity.  Also, the Thelemic complementary pair: "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law" and "Love is the law, love under will" unite Love and Will in a potential dyadic cyclone of activity.

Unfortunately these days it's hard to write anything about "love" as the word has been sentimentalized to death while being co-opted by a new age love and light crowd that use the idea of it as a form of self-calming.  It may again be helpful to refer back to the Greeks with their three types of love: Philos (brotherly/sisterly love), Eros (romantic love), and Agape (sacred love). 

Love under will indicates that it can get intentionally directed.  Focused attention emanating from the heart drives the intention.  Love can be considered a substance that can be placed anywhere.  It's a form of communication.  Handle with care.






5 comments:

  1. Focused attention is one of the main skills cultivated under Theravada Buddhism.

    I can't give you a citation, but one book I read recommended listening to music as a form of "meditation." It is difficult for most people to concentrate on music -- your attention wanders and you think about what you will have for dinner, what somebody said to you yesterday, etc. The author recommended trying to bring your attention back to the music and to focus on it, trying to avoid letting your mind wander.

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  2. Thank-you Sky Dancer!

    Tom, the classic test of attention I've heard about - can't remember where I got this originally - is to concentrate on nothing else but the second hand of a clock for one minute and notice how much the mind wanders.

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