Some Circuits of Evolution
By Robert Anton Wilson
from Critique: A Journal of Conspiracies and Metaphysics
#23/#24, Fall 1986/Winter 1987
The fifth, Neurosomatic Circuit has only appeared sporadically thus far in history and remains latent or only appears in occasion flashes in most humans. It seems to be located primarily in the right brain hemisphere, with a feedback loop to the genitalia. (This loop is the origin of the metaphor of kundalini or “serpent power” in system like Tantra, Ophite, Gnosticism and Voodoo). Training methods to induce the Neurosomatic Circuit to leap into action are known in many yogic and occult schools and include: mediation, pranayama (heavy, rhythmic breathing), cannabis drugs, fasting, prayer and , in many “initiatory” orders a kind of ritualized Shock that may well be a re-imprinting experience. (All of these Shocks, whether found in tribal shamanism or in systems as sophisticated as Tibetan Tantra, are basically similar in structure to the Shocks of Masonic initiation: the candidate is led through a heavily symbolic ritual to a moment of stunning emotional crises.)
Whereas the reality-tunnels of the first four circuits are linear and mechanical, and build up a strong sense of separateness (hyper-egotism), perception on the fifth circuit is global, non-linear, holistic and tends to blur the previously acute sense of division between Self and World. At the same time, the conditioned sense of separateness between “mind” and “body” is also blurred or loosened. The general feeling is one of being “at home in the universe,” “high:” or “floating:” and part of a web that extends far beyond the material organism; the sense of lonely Darwinian:”struggle for survival” is temporarily or permanently abolished. Feud called this “the oceanic experience,” Gurdjieff calls it “the magnetic center,” and in traditional Christian terminology the enlarged self on this circuit is “the new Adam: as distinguished from “the old Adam”, the isolated self formed by the rigid reality-tunnel of the first four circuits.
It seems that art is a neurosomatic circuit function, even though expressed or communicated through third circuit symbols (words in poetry, musical forms, paintings, etc.) There is hardly any artist who has not recorded mild-to-ecstatic neurosomatic Circuit experiences, usually deepening with age, and most artists frankly attribute the artistic drive to the desire to communicate these “high” moments or “peak experiences.” The quarrel in our Occidental culture in recent centuries between Art and Science – i.e. between some artists and some scientists – is largely a dispute over the comparative values of third circuit linear analysis and Neurosomatic Circuit holistic apprehension. The present theory suggests that the full development of the human being involves maximum development of both of these circuits in combination with maximum development of subtlety and flexibility on the other six circuits also.
The Neurogenetic Circuit is even more alien than the Neurosomatic to most conventional scientists. The names give to this circuit in other systems indeed indicate how strange it seems to those constricted by four-circuit tunnel-realities: Jung calls it ”the collective unconscious” (although it may become conscious); Theosophy calls it “the akashic records;” Stanislaus Grof has named it “the phylogenetic unconscious;” Buddhism calls it “the treasury mind;” Dr. Rupert Sheldrake has recently named it “the morphogenetic field”. All of these are regarded by conservative scientists as “mystical” and unscientific concepts, because what they all describe cannot be explained in mechanistic biology. It seems in 1984 that Sheldrake’s “morphogenetic field” is the best name for what is involved here since Sheldrake frankly admits his “field” cannot be reduced to mechanical laws but operates as a resonance through time. On this circuit, to be blunt, one seems to have access to the experience of all of one’s ancestors, including those who have been dead for thousands or hundreds of thousand of years. (Experience of this circuit explains the belief in “reincarnation.”)
Whether or not the Neurogenetic Circuit exists latently in the unconscious of all, as Jung and Grof posit, it only becomes conscious after many years of slowly-increasing Neurosomatic sensitivity, usually accompanied by work in some logic or shamanic discipline. At this point, consciousness, having become less linear and more global (synergetic), gradually begins to experience depth in time. The Hindu concept of the Atman or world-soul is then not an idea but a lived experience. In Dr. Leary’s more modern metaphor, one experiences oneself as a giant robot programmed by the DNA to do specific work in a specific evolutionary niche, and one has increasingly clear “memory” or intuitive understanding of the vectors of the evolutionary drama. Vast tolerance and a certain Nitezschean amorality blended with Buddhist compassion also appear here: one sees all other organisms as similar aspects of the “world-soul” or as similar robots programmed by the same evolutionary vector Life Force. No organism seems “totally wrong” in the sense of conventional Socio-Sexual Circuit “morality,” some organisms merely appear to be mechanical or unconscious of their evolutionary role and potential.
The seventh Metaprogramming Circuit is even more recent, and statistically more rare, than Neurosomatic or Neurogenetic awareness: one can hardly write about it without being accused of being either a satirist or a mental case. It consists of the conscious, controlled ability to draw energy out of any previous reality-tunnel and to put that energy into the construction of a new reality-tunnel; that is, to consciously choose which circuits one is operating on and how the information tapped by that circuit will be organized into Gestalts. This makes possible what theologians fallaciously claim all human beings already possess: the ability to exercise meaningful choice (”free will) and autonomy in the true sense. This can easily degenerate into megalomania, and in many cases it has, and thus this circuit is not very “safe” unless monitored by great sophistication and subtlety on the other circuits, especially the Semantic (mapping-and-manipulating) circuit. Talking too frankly about this circuit can also be hazardous to health to most traditional societies, as illustrated by the Sufi dervish, Manur el-Hallaj, who bluntly declared, “I am the truth and there is nothing within my turban but God” and was stoned to death for his “Blasphemy.:” In general, statements like “I am God” and “I created all this” are inescapable on this circuit, but make severe problems if not balanced by the other circuits and a considerable sense of humor. This circuit is called Shivadarshana in Hinduism – the dance of Shiva, god of intoxication and death – is also called “crossing the Abyss” in Cabala; that should be sufficient warning of the perils involved.
Concerning the final circuit known in 1984, the Non-Local Quantum Circuit, one must be even more gnomic. When this circuit is activated, the conventional conditioned-imprinted reality-tunnels called “me” and “my world” are even more expanded than on the 5th, 6th, and 7th circuits; one appears to blend into Something for which most languages have no word. The Chinese wisely call that Something wu-hsin which means “no mind” and is, perhaps, the class of all minds – which is not itself a mind for the same reason that e.g. the class of all chimneys is not a chimney. In modern science, the closest approximation to wu-hsinis the Implicate order suggested by quantum physicist Dr. David Bohm; from this Implicate Order are projected non-local forms which create the space-time-mind continuum we normally experience. It must be stressed that non-local in this context means also non-causal and non-energetic. If one can imagine a kind of software that co-exists with and is prior to the hardware of the universe, then that is wu-hsin or the Implicate Order.
Accidental entry to this circuit occurs in serious trauma of the sort called “near death” or “clinical death” experience and is then limited to “astral body” or “out-of-body” experiences. At full intensity, this non-local circuit accesses all the information of the cosmos and experience of it is called Illumination; invocation of the word “God” generally seems at that point a rather small, provincial and human-chauvinist metaphor for what is happening but “union with God” is the only term in the normal vocabulary for such information-rich and non-localized awareness.
We cannot say in 1984 what new circuits are forming or are still potential in the human brain.
It appears that the simple Aristotelian idea that we are either conscious or unconscious (asleep or awake) is inadequate. We have seen a whole spectrum of consciousness; it seems clear that each level of consciousness opens many possibilities for new reality-tunnels, and that consciousness has evolved, and it is still evolving; we absolutely cannot predict what we might become and what we might know after the next evolutionary leap. In particular, the seemingly intractable problems of life on this planet – such injustice, exploitation, crime and , above all, war – seem to be maintained by stupidity in the most generally rigid reality-tunnels which prevent further learning or which “hypnotize” us so that we do not see who, where, or what we are doing. But such mechanical stupidity or Maya, or “sleep-walking” is, in this perspective, an early evolutionary state out of which we are, as individuals and as a species, slowly growing toward higher and higher levels of awareness.
That is, every rigid or dogmatic reality-tunnel is a remnant of our mammalian ancestry. The earlier circuits are more mechanical; the later circuits are more “voluntary” or self-regulating. If human life often looks like a spectacle in improperly-wired robots bumping into each other and knocking each other apart, this is because we are not finished as a species; we have the potential of evolving to more subtle and more sensitive functioning. In contrast to a vast over-simplification by H.G. Wells – who said “Modern history is a race between education and catastrophe” – we can say at this point that modern history is a race between higher consciousness and catastrophe.
We have all lived through the fallout from a vast Neurological Revolution that began with the accidental discovery of LSD in 1943, peaked with the bizarre “drug culture” of the 1960’s and then mutated into dozens of new evolutionary vectors in the 1970;s and early 1980’s. It’s become known to literally millions of social scientists, physical scientists, artists, writers, and ordinary people that consciousness can be radically altered, that many old reality-tunnels can be outgrown, that many new reality-tunnels can be imprinted and learned, and that the control of our consciousness is increasing in our own hands. “Whatever can be accomplished by chemical means,” as William S. Burroughs says, “can be accomplished by other means.” In retrospect, psychedelic drugs were only the initial Shock which our culture needed to being mutating into a new stage of evolution, a state for which we have no word and for which I have suggest the symbol, I2.
I2 means I-observing-I or the mind studying the mind; it also means intelligence studying Intelligence. On a third level of reference, I2 also means Information2 or the vast information explosion being ushered in by micro-processors and the world-wide electronic network which is creating what Fuller and McLuhan called “a global village.”
Through direct brain stimulation, through Lilly’s isolation tanks, through continuous breakthroughs in organic chemistry and neurology, through scientific investigation of the mechanisms of yoga and Zen, through research into so-called ESP and “out of body experience” (7th and 8th circuit functions) through each advance in computer technology, through research on intelligence-raising drugs and vitaminic compounds, etc. we are learning more and more about how rigid reality-tunnels are imprinted and how expanded and “cosmic” realty-tunnels can be induced. We are like sleeping beings who are just learning how to wake ourselves up. In a sense are just discovering that the “missing link” between the ape and True Humanity is ourselves; but we are also learning how to accelerate evolution within our own brains, and how to become what in vanity we once thought we already were: free and responsible beings not limited by mammalian mechanical reflexes.
In a fascinating book on research into longevity, The Conquest of Death, Dr. Alvin Silverstein quotes some impressive figures from the French economist Georges Anderla, showing how the third circuit semantic function has increased our information about the universe since the birth of Christ. Taking all known scientific facts of 1 A.D. as his unit, Anderla calculated how long it took that amount of information to double. The answer is that it took 1500 years – a millennium and a half. But the next doubling was much faster, took only 250 years, and was complete by 1750. The next doubling took only 150 years and was complete by 1900. The next doubling took only 50 years and was complete by 1950, and the next doubling took only ten years and was complete by 1960. The next doubling took seven years and was complete by 1967. Etc. This acceleration is still continuing and some Futurists suggest that knowledge will soon be doubling every year, since microprocessors are accelerating the acceleration.
While we as a species are passing through this “information explosion” which is doubling knowledge each decade at a rate that only occurred in millenniums during the stone Ages, we are also participating in the aforementioned Neurological revolution, whereby we are learning more and more about the functions of the other non-symbolizing circuits of our brain. To grasp the whole picture of what is now happening, one must think simultaneously of both the Information Explosion and of the Neurological Revolution – of both the new facts being processed and the new potentials of consciousness being explored.
It seems to me now, in 1984, that only rigid and dogmatic (or unconsciously unquestioning) adherence to a narrow atheism or futilitarianism – to what Nietzsche caricatured as Idolization of “least possible effort and greatest possible blunder” – can dismiss as “mere coincidence: this conjunction of rapid information increase and rapid consciousness expansion which I call I2. It would be the blackest of black jokes if all this sudden coherence, this emerging of new potentials within us, were just the prologue to the final tragedy of nuclear holocaust. Rather, I suspect it is precisely the evolutionary quantum leap that is demanded of us at this time to bypass and transcend such Doomsday scenarios, to continue the evolutionary ascent to higher and higher levels of awareness, even to levels which we cannot begin to guess or imagine at present.
This article is an edited excerpt reprinted with Permission from a larger article called “How to Tell Your Friends From the Apes” in the aforementioned Magical Blend, a quarterly Magazine (Issue 12)