Neurologic, Immortality & All That
by Robert Anton Wilson
from Green Egg, Vol. VIII, No 72
Lughnasad, August 1, 1975
Ritual is to the internal sciences what experiment is to the external sciences. – Timothy Leary PhD
Self-denial is simply the self-expression of self-denying people… Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law. Or, as Mr. Shaw himself says, the golden rule is that there is no golden rule. – Aleister Crowley, Gospel According to St. Bernard Shaw
What is John Guilt? – Atlanta Hope, Telemaahus Sneezed
Valerie Twilight’s letter in Green Egg VII, 71, raises so many interesting points that the only responsive and responsible answer is a new article, not another letter.
Ms. Twilight has some trouble understanding the published version of Neurologic; this is not surprising, since Dr. Leary wrote this essay in a hurry, with no research sources available, on the floor of a solitary confinement cell, under a 40-watt bulb. A longer (400-page) and much more popularized version of Neurologic was finished shortly before Dr. Leary disappeared last year, but it, alas, disappeared along with him. (If a great scientist had similarly disappeared in Russia, and his greatest book along with him, the liberals would be having the fits, the shits, and the blind staggers about it; but, since it happened in the US, we can be sure that Dr. Leary is cooperating voluntarily with his captors, of course. Of course, of course, of course.)
To Ms. Twilight’s questions:
There are many ways in which the higher circuits can be activated and imprinted. Along with metaprogramming substances such as LSD or peyote, Dr. Leary has discussed (a) certain stressful illnesses, such as schizophrenia and epilepsy, (b) narrow escapes from death, and (c) the empirical techniques developed by shamans and yogis over the past 30,000 years. Judging from anthropological literature, the most widespread device has been the combination of metaprogramming chemicals with (b) narrow escape from death (or some pretense of such narrow escape) to frighten the student into the neural surrender-ecstasy of the death-trip.
The second most common method appears to be deliberate “starving out” or atrophying of the first four circuits. Patanjali’s systemization of yoga, two milleniums ago, had already simplified this to the basic steps of (1) asana the rigid posture which turns off the First Circuit (bio-survival forward-back movement) by ignoring it; (2) pranayama, regulated breathing, which turns off the Second Circuit (emotional domination -submission rituals) by stabilizing the emotional bio-energy; (3) dharana, concentration on one image (or mantra, concentration on one sound) which starves out the Third Circuit (symbolic consciousness, or the “internal monologue”); and (4) yama-niyama, or detachment and celibacy, which starves out the Fourth Circuit (sex-domesticity) by simply dropping out of the reproductive cycle. (An alternative to (4) is Tantra, which mutates the sex-energy directly into higher-circuit energy by what Dr. Leary calls “the delicate Hedonic Engineering” of postponed orgasm.) When the energy of the bioplasm is thus withdrawn from the first four circuits, it has nowhere to go but into the higher circuits.
It is not true, incidentally, that metaprogramming chemicals only turn on the higher circuits temporarily. The actual process seems to follow the equation (written by me, but accepted as a sound expression of his ideas by Dr. Leary):
Bn = Bo + Pn + S
where Bn is new behavior (including new consciousness, or new intelligence), Bo is old behavior, Pn is a new program and S is SHOCK in the Gurdjieffian sense, which in the case of metaprogramming chemicals is the chemical itself (and in other cases is the fright or near-death experience used in initiations of most shamanic schools). The most effective new program (Pn) is a ritual, or dramatic performance, which involves the entire neuro-glandular-muscular etc. systems, i.e. the organism-as-a-whole. (The rejection of ritual in modern psychotherapy is the chief cause of the ineffectiveness of said therapy. This avoidance represents, in semantic terms, confusing the map with the territory. That is, the “map”–the language–in which ritual has been traditionally discussed is “pre-scientific,” and therefore, modern psychotherapists, trying to be very “scientific,” have phobically avoided the territory, the rituals themselves.)
An equally effective Pn is the chakra system of Sufism and kundalini yoga, which can be considered an internal ritual. Since there is not so much semantic phobia involved here, many schools of modern psychotherapy have created rough approximations of this ancient science, e.g. Reichian bio-energetic therapies, Gestaltism, Rolfing, etc… When the SHOCK of the metaprogramming chemical is not accompanied by any consciously-chosen Pn – i.e. when the subject is just “tripping” for the sheer hell of it – the environmental set, whatever it is, provides an unintentional Pn. Lack of understanding of this point has given the metaprogramming chemicals an inaccurate reputation for “unpredictability.” Intelligently used, they are more predictable than any other behavior-modifying technology of the past 30,000 years; which is why so many shamans have used them.
Turning now to the question of immortality, it is of course true that Circuit 4 (sex-reproduction) already provides basic genetic immortality. (The first 3 circuits have to do with survival in space; circuit 4 transmits the genetic code through time. This is why Nobel Prize geneticist Herbert Muller once joked, quite profoundly, that we are giant robots created by DNA to make more DNA.) On Circuit 7, basic neurogenetic consciousness, we tap directly into the DNA-RNA dialogue and experience that 3½-billion year old genetic mind which is the meaning of Pan, Brahma, the World Spirit, etc. This “collective memory” is the origin of the reincarnation metaphor, probably.
The new immortality, or immortality2, becoming rapidly available in the next 10-15 years as genetic engineering advances, will confront each human with the option of new 8-circuit survival as an entity (for the first time in history). Many, like Ms. Twilight, will undoubtedly choose the traditional path. There is nothing wrong with that at all. Evolution proceeds, always, through diversity, not through uniformity. The point is that, when this choice and the other options of genetic engineering become available, humanity will cease to exist as an entity. There will be several human stocks, one of which will almost certainly choose the Maximum Trip, i.e. total reprogramming for higher intelligence, greater emotional equilibrium, continuous high-circuit ecstasy, immortality, eternal youth and beauty, cosmic exploration, and (probably) eventual Circuit 8 fusion into the (hypothesized) Galactic Mind, made up of all races, galaxy-wide, who have chosen the Maximum Trip and are evolving toward Perfection, i.e. Cosmic Godhood.
The three main human stocks, Dr. Leary predicts, will be the Maximum Trippers or time-travelers, as discussed above, and (2) the planetary colonists, who will evolve in various ways on various planets, all of them divergent from the Earth-norm, as local gravitational and other fields determine, and (3) the stay-at-homes, who will probably evolve toward some variety of insectoid socialism (since that is about the only way the oncoming world-round Technocracy can be managed).
More concretely and immediately, the oncoming biological revolution will provide options, for the first time in history, on whether or not to continue such phenomena as idiocy, imbecility, various chronic diseases, the general emotional plague and mental instability of larval humanity, ugliness, crippling, deformity, etc. Once again, Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law. The existence of the option does not mean that anybody must choose beauty and health and immortality etc.; those who really prefer the old ways must have the freedom to retain personal ugliness and sickness and death, etc. Diversity is the path of evolution.
In terms of DT. Leary’s famous Two Commandments for the neurological age:
1. Thou shalt not alter the consciousness of thy neighbor without his or her consent.
2. Thou shalt not prevent thy neighbor from altering his or her own consciousness.
Like Dr. Leary, I personally prefer the Maximum Trip, i.e. serial reincarnation (through neural re-imprinting) within one time-traveling starship until eventual Cosmic Fusion is reached. Again, like Or. Leary, I do not see any need to preach or harangue about the matter. The future evolution of humanity must be self-selecting. Those who are going to the stars, are going; those who are staying behind, are staying behind. The job of the neurologician is to make the options available, as quickly as possible, before the present Circuit 2 programs, as escalated and accelerated by technology, wipe out humanity entirely.
Attachment to the Earth-womb is reinforced on each of the first four circuits, where the bonds are made to mother or mother -substitute (Circuit 1 security), to father or father-substitute (Circuit 2 power), to tribal lore or academic regulations (Circuit 3 knowledge) and to one’s own family and offspring (Circuit 4 responsibility).
On the higher circuits, there are higher bonds. Specifically, the massive opening-activation of Circuit 5 rapture in the 1960s (the first historical occasion of millions of illuminations in one decade) partially misfired because the appropriate bond, to a Tantric partner, was imperfectly understood. (In the Tarot symbology, many remained Hanged Men and did not achieve the bonding of the Temperance-Art card’s alchemical fusion.)
Circuit 6, being increasingly activated in the 1970s, is the shamanic circuit per se, and coded into the Tarot by the cards known as The Devil, The Tower, and The Star. That is, the opening of the circuit (Devil card) is the initial awareness of alien intelligences above and (in a sense) within us, activating every possible paranoia (cf. Colin Wilson’s Mind Parasites); the brain or Gestalt of the circuit (Tower card) totally fissions and wipes out existing terracentric imprints (classic Samadhi); and the ultimate bonding (Star card) is when the alien presences are recognized as our Galactic Parents who have secretly loved and nurtured us all along.
Dr. Jacques Vallee’s new book, The Invisible College, suggests (on the basis of data obtained by feeding UFO contactee stories and traditional religious visions into computers and comparing the two) that Circuit 6 awareness always contains the Devil archetype at first, i.e. the fear of the unknown Superior Mind, the dread of “possession,” etc. It is this aspect of the oncoming Gestalt (not neural re-imprinting, genetic engineering for immortality and ecstasy, or starflight itself) which will cause the most terror, paranoia, flip-outs and “controversy.” The ruling classes, in particular; cannot constitutionally accept Powers and Intelligences higher than themselves without acute schizoid fugue.
Most people, however, are part of one ruling class or another. That is, they act as authoritarians to those “below” them, even while they act as submissive robots to those “above” them. The opening of the 6th Circuit will, therefore, cause even more panic than the opening of the 5th circuit in the 1960s. This is why it is important for those who understand, more or less, what is happening in genetics, neurology, molecular biology, parapsychology, etc. to communicate as much as possible about this transformation from terrestrial mortality to cosmic immortality. To repeat: it is not necessary to preach, since the process remains self-selecting, but it is necessary to explain. The average larval human can only relate to Higher Intelligence with terror, as in the archetypes of the Elders of Zion, Illuminati, Secret Chiefs, invaders-from Mars, etc. The recognition that Higher Intelligence is continually active on this planet will blow many fuses before most humans can see these entities as, in Don Juan’s phrase, “allies.”
In fact, the chief reason that Dr. Leary has been jailed, gagged and held incommunicado is that the local authorities understand his ideas just well enough to feel threatened, not well enough to accept that the Next Step in evolution (as Crowley and the Sufis call it) is as inevitable, and as self-selecting, as all the previous steps.
Finally, to answer a question Ms. Twilight didn’t ask, how fast is this metamorphosis happening? Well, C.P. Snow has said that the biological revolution of this decade will be more profound than the revolution in physics in the decade of Hiroshima (1940s). Rattray Taylor’s Biological Time Bomb predicts that changes more basic than the invention of fire or the wheel will occur by 1980. The foremost molecular biologist known to me is about to unleash a report on his latest research, about the same time this article will appear in print, that vastly exceeds the “wildly optimistic” forecast given by Leary and Benner in Terra II (1973). Nobody reading this sentence must die; you will have the choice. All the work of Timothy Leary personally, and of myself and my associates in the DNA Society collectively, amounts to no more than providing a scientific-mythic scenario to give depth and context to your decision. As the Christians have been saying (prematurely) for 2000 years, the question of where to spend eternity is in your hands.