In the last couple of years, four books crossed my path that significantly shaped my expression of the ideas on this blog. Skeptics will reduce those “crossed paths” to the banal assertion that I copied my ideas from those books. I believe, rather, that each acted as a “disinhibiting stimulus,” to use a PhiliDickian term, that allowed some portion of the lost information from my 1988 cosmic download to surface. No single book, all by itself, comes close to outlining the system here. All of them together don’t outline this system, either. But each resonates in some deep way with these ideas, and in my view that resonance drove this information by fits and starts to the surface. If you read The Simplest Path to Personal and Planetary Awakening: FREE YOUR MIND, you know that book, also rooted in my 1988 cosmic download, was “disinhibited” by reading Richard Dawkins’ The Selfish Gene, followed by a series of books on memetics by the likes of Susan Blackmore and Richard Brodie. Same thing here. I think it would be enormously helpful for anyone interested in the ideas on this blog to also read these books.
In the order I encountered them:
The Ego Tunnel: The Science of the Mind and the Myth of the Self, byThomas Metzinger.
The Ego Tunnel is a philosophical/neuroscientific attack on the existence of the self. If by “self” Metzinger means “personality,” i.e., the attention-generated self, which I think he does, then I have to agree. We are not our attention-generated self. We are not our personality. Metzinger never considers the possibility that self might be something larger or other than personality, that the two terms might not be synonymous, but he does make a solid case against identifying with personality as the “real us.” He drops the ball by concluding that there is no “real us” and humans are meat puppets with delusions of consciousness. But what Metzinger does well in this book is communicate the “feeling” of what it might be like to have experience without an experiencer. His description of the “tunnel” we construct from just those things we pay attention to as we move unconsciously through the world, with an illusory “I” spuriously relating that filtered attention to itself, is spot on. That’s the Human Predicament.
Here’s where Metzinger and I differ:
Metzinger would say experience without an experiencer isn’t really experience; it’s the illusion of experience. “Self” is an illusion, and humans are deluded automatons.
I would say experience IS the experiencer. We are not our attention-generated self, but we are something. We are YouWorldThingness.
Lucid Dreaming: Gateway to the Inner Self, by Robert Waggoner.
Robert Waggoner’s Lucid Dreaming is ten steps ahead of any other book I’ve read on this topic, and I’ve read a bunch. He dispenses quickly with the obligatory “how to” part, then dives deep into his lifetime of lucid dreaming experience and experimentation. The most valuable part of the book for me, and in the context of this blog, is a series of experiments Waggoner conducted to consciously address, and receive response from, the objective mind behind the subjective appearance of dreams. He repeatedly steps lucidly away from the content of a dream to ask “Who or what is the source of this dream? Who is making this world?” That’s a powerful spiritual practice we must apply to not only dreams, but to waking life as well. Remember from Part One: The Basic Structure of Everything that “Awake” and “asleep” are arbitrary distinctions. Waking or dreaming, assume essence is out there, scripting and sculpting reality beyond your hypnotic absorption in the content of life. Waking or dreaming , willfully direct attention toward essence, toward the Manifest and the Imaginal, toward physimaginal experience. Waking or sleeping, reclaim attention. Reclaim YouWorldThingness. Waggoner’s book offers a living example of someone who’s done it, at least on the sleep-side of the equation.
Galileo’s Error: Foundations for a New Science of Consciousness, by Philip Goff.
Galileo’s Error influenced me the most out of all the books in this section, though I now question what I read there. I have a friend on Medium.com who is convinced I completely misinterpreted Goff. Where I read nondual pansychism, he read a gross defense of materialism. I recently reread our long Medium exchange, and I must admit my side of the conversation sounds a lot like a practice run for this blog. And that conversation predates both this blog and the diagrams that inspired it. So I have to question whether the content of my cosmic download surfaced because of Galileo’s Error or in spite of it? My guess is that, whether Goff is advocating nondual pansychism or simply describing it in order to refute it, his book offered me a new language in which to express concepts that were part of my 1988 download. Think memetics and FREE YOUR MIND. Either way, Goff’s book profoundly affected my thinking.
If you’re interested in reading that Medium exchange on Goff, here’s a link.
The Spell of the Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More-Than-Human World, by David Abram.
The Spell of the Sensuous offers one quite convincing (to me) theory on exactly when and how the human species fell into The Human Predicament.
Here’s a review of Abram’s book I posted on my Goodreads page (and elsewhere):
The Spell of the Sensuous … shines a detailed yet poetic laser-focused light on one moment in the development of the human species – that time around the 10th Century BCE when we transitioned from an animistic sense of ourselves as living parts of a living environment to suddenly experiencing ourselves as beings separate from Nature, with an “interior life.” We went rapidly from being experientially embedded in the local landscape to being part of a “human world” that witnesses Nature but stands apart from it. Abrams makes the case here that this transition was triggered by the development of phonetic written language.
The first written languages were pictographic or idiomatic, using symbols that represented aspects of the natural world (wavy lines represent flowing water, for example). But with phonetic writing, the symbols with which we recorded our experience and observations stopped representing what they described, and began to represent instead the sounds of the human voice. The letters of the alphabet do not describe Nature; they tell us how to say the words humans use to describe Nature. The subtle yet historically profound consequence is that we traded our direct I-Thou relationship with reality for a primary relationship with written text, with the sound of our own voice. Our sense of I-Thou was transferred from the ocean, the forest, the mountain, the gazelle, to the written page describing those things.
… According to Abrams we once… understood the voices of wind and water, birds calls and animal behavior, as directly as you and I agree on the meaning of these written words. Now we are trapped in a mental world one step removed from the natural reality we still depend on for physical survival. A world made rigid, frozen in time and space, by the unchangeability of text, the fixedness of recorded history, the “factuality” of material science, the unshakeable literalness of shared canons of knowledge…
In The Simplest Path to Personal and Planetary Awakening: FREE YOUR MIND I posited some ancient natural disaster that made the surrender of our slow, natural minds to the quick control of memes necessary for our short-term survival. When that disaster passed, we never escaped control, or even thought to try. The human species simply adjusted in time to memetic enslavement, to “experiencing ourselves as beings separate from Nature, with an ‘interior life.’”
I think Abrams’ language theory is considerably more elegant than my “disaster model,” and has some credible evidence to back it up, as well. But what we’re attempting to explain here is the same.
Note that most religions posit some version of “the fall” in response to the undeniable observation that human beings are mentally and spirituality separated from, and even stand in irrational antagonism to, the natural world. Religions offer theological explanations, while Abrams and I offer natural theories. But there’s no denying that The Human Predicament is a real thing. If you’re still not seeing it, The Spell of the Sensuous will open your eyes.