(Was Chapter 48 in Version 1)
(Permalink) As seen in the previous chapter, for consciousness to have any kind of control on the functioning of the brain requires that information goes from the logical self-generation process of the consciousness, toward the self-generation process of the physical world. After the general scientistist dogma of matter being «more existent» than consciousness, this is impossible. After the logical self-generation theory, this is possible, but it requires a special event, able of creating a new self-generation law involving the two realms together. So it is not astonishing at all if freewill needed about 530 millions years to appear, from the first nervous chords (primitive fishes) to the Human brain... and it is still very far of being a stable acquisition of all Humans, as the very controlled results of political elections tell.
We already described a possible way for free will to happen, in chapter IV-9, as a single event involving the creation of a temporary «domain», where laws of physics are slightly modified, in a way to allow for the consciousness to act on the physical world. We shall not repeat this, but we need to see in more details several processes which may allow for varied degrees of free will to happen, and in which extend each of these degrees constitutes a mean for the immaterial consciousness to control the material brain (for information to pass from the consciousness self-generation process to the material self-generation process). But if we can show that it actually happens, then we can consider it as a proof of the whole theory of the consciousness being a self-generation process, independent of the physical world, but able of interacting with it.
(Completes chapter IV-9).
(Permalink) In the very first, free will was a religious concept, about the ability of conscious beings to accept the guidance of God toward virtue, or heed the devil's voice toward evil. However, this religious wording should not induce us into mistake: in the mind of the Zoroastrian priests who started the monotheistic religions, it was already clearly a choice toward the good (Ahura Mazda, the «god of light», light being clearly an allegory of truth, good, happiness, etc.). So it is a really fundamental choice in our lives, not just any ordinary choice, like selecting a number or pressing a button in some neurology studies.
It is interesting to know how religions explain free will, and how it happens. Basically, there is the voice of God, either external (reading a text, hearing a sermon) or internal (heart, inner voice, inspiration, divine grace) opposed to the voice of evil (in Islam, Satan is «the whisperer», without power of its own, but speaking to us into our very consciousness, in order to delude us into doing bad deeds). We shall see in this chapter how these religious descriptions are relevant, and well observed 2500 years ago in Babylon. Asian religions, mainly Buddhism, do not differ much of Christianity on the matter of free will. Modern Buddhism replaces Satan with our «ego», source of our bad actions, opposed to our «Buddha nature», the seed of perfection which is within every conscious being (The «heart», in New Age conceptions). But we still find the individual having to do a basic choice between the two. This convergence tells us that ancient Buddhist masters also observed the same thing, just expressing it with their own concepts. We shall see in chapter V-10 what is the ego, why we need to destroy it, and what happens when we do this.
At last, religions infer our human value, merit or guilt, from the very choice we made. THIS choice, and nearby nothing else. Whatever our religion, doing the wrong choice entails terrible punishment, like long stays in hell. Doing the good choice owes us a wonderful paradise, even if we completely failed to bring this choice into actions within our lifetime. More, a life or murder can be forgiven by a last instant repentance, while a virtuous life counts for nothing if we were not sincere. The only nuances are about persons who were unable to make their decision, like children, who get leniency. So it is really this very decision which counts, the fateful instant where we make it, in total independence of our success or failure to implement this choice in our life. It is this very instant that religion and philosophy call «free will», and no other instant in all our life. Well, we need a sustained effort all our life long to try to translate this decision into behaviour, otherwise it would be just too easy.
Modern philosophy, mainly Humanism and its many derivatives, is still reflecting these views, even if they no longer base their statements on religious concepts like «God» or «devil». However totalitarian ideologies derived of Positivism (Marxism, technocracy, scientistism, fundamentalist atheism), generally deny free will. Oddly for a doctrine claiming to liberate mankind, Marxism believes instead in the genetic transmission of sin: I was several times called a fascist because my father was a military. I found this much more amusing than insulting. Before understanding that millions of people were persecuted for the situation of their parents... and thus does not make me laugh.
Modern law systems still reflect the original Zoroastrian view, despite they no longer recognize religions or religious concepts. So, law considers us to be responsible of our acts, this meaning to have chosen in consciousness between the good and the evil. Even the exceptions are based on free will, when it is impeded: children, psychiatry cases, and persons under threat or suffering. We even noticed a recent shift toward recognizing the responsibility of drunk or drugged persons, despite they have no actual free will when under drug: they still had this free will when taking the drug, and thus are responsible of the far consequences.
Politicians who may attempt to remove the idea of free will from law would certainly encounter strong opposition.
It would be very strange that free will would be recognized by law and by general society, and not by science.
(Permalink) After scientistism, and even after today neurology (2012), there is no true free will, but «random drawings» made by nervous influences on neurons (ultimately random chance). This is possible because the behaviour of a neuron is determined by a small number of molecules only. So quantum random can introduce a significant jitter, called noise, into the reactions. This, after neural sciences, explains free will. But it is a very different free will than the free will of the religions: to select a random number, or a random emotion, etc. We do this at every minute, and it has no spiritual or moral significance whatsoever. Even a sex robot can do this, and it does not make of it a real person...
This view can be criticized in several ways. First, it is very likely that life evolved into a way to protect itself from the influence of this quantum noise. If we look at the synapse (place where two neurones exchange signals, by diffusion of molecules of neuromediators) we see that it would work as well if if was much smaller, for instance involving just one molecule. However, the real synapse involves a lot of molecules (and even several vesicles). Why to use several when only one would work? Because this, precisely, averages the quantum noise, and makes it insignificant in front of the useful signal. So, clearly, the evolution of life pushed in a way to protect itself from this quantum noise. The size of the synapses, especially, seems optimized to be as small as possible, while still taking a clear safety distance from the quantum noise.
A similar problem will soon (2012) appear into transistors, where the technology is quickly approaching the limit where quantum noise will make the functioning of a transistor unreliable.
We can guess that the reason why Evolution created the brain safe of quantum fluctuations is to obtain regular and predictable reactions, for essential behaviours like feeding, defence, reproduction. And the size of the synapse is right at the limit where statistical fluctuations get some influence, but not enough for creating an erratic behaviour, or drowning the basic survival emotions into dream-like irrelevant feelings. Evidence of this is that it does not need a lot of drug or mental illness to make us have hallucinations. These hallucinations may actually come from erratic quantum fluctuations in some key synapses, which can enter the circuit when the brain is into abnormal states. For instance a false signal entering the vision area will produce images, that is hallucinations.
Some may say insects can cope with much smaller brains. However, precisely, the intelligence of insects stagnates since 400 millions years, while the intelligence of mammals increases steadily, especially since 64 millions years. This discrepancy may come from a very different organization of the two brains: Insects have a much smaller set of neurones, each with a specific function. For instance, in a fly, tracking the female is the work of only a dozen neurones in the area of vision. This leads to extremely stereotyped behaviour, like sophisticated automatons, with no possibilities of adaptation. On the other hand, the brain of the mammals has a huge number of spare neurons, where brand new circuits can be formed from learning. So, the individual has the possibility to add new learning during his life. And, in the instance, the Human male, not only has thousands ways of «tracking the female», but above all he has much more varied perspectives and meanings to give to this activity (if not, he gets the same slap than the fly). This plasticity, both at a genetic level and at a functional level, allows mammals with a much better potential for varied forms of intelligence, and their evolution is far from blocked today. Insects probably protect themselves from quantum noise with having only simplified and extreme messages (like a digital computer protects itself from electric noise by having only 0 or 1 voltage). But mammals have much more sophisticated nervous messages, able of nuances. And for this they need a transmission system with a better protection against noise. They can, but at the cost of having larger synapses, and globally larger brains. (like an analog computer which requires more efficient shielding against noise, larger transistors running in class A with higher current, etc.).
We can even theorise that extraterrestrial intelligent beings will most probably have a similar synapse size than ours, and large brains able of a huge variety of feelings and behaviours, just like us. And insects have little chance of becoming the smartest specie on Earth. This does not precludes extraterrestrials to have insect shapes, thought.
We can actually see, with the naked eye, with which incredible efficiency our brain drastically eliminates the influence of quantum noise, for instance with the experiment in chapter IV-2. The middle animated picture shows the effect of quantum noise in the brain areas of vision. The left animation shows the quantum noise coming from the retina. Least we can say, very few people ever noticed these things, however perfectly noticeable. This tells us with which efficiency the brain just filters them out. Not only the quantum noise is eliminated from the useful signal just where it is produced, but it is filtered even further in the information chain! To perceive it, we need very specific conditions, and to focus our mind on it.
We shall see in chapter V-8 how the raw «pixel» images of the retina are transformed into «vector images» by the neurons in the vision area, when they interpret the raw scene into elementary objects (characters, trees, houses, car, etc. Incidentally, rather that of vectorization, we should speak of putting the image in primitives, in elementary forms). Such a process explains very well how yet perfectly visible objects may go unnoticed to the consciousness. We for example know well the phenomenon of the blind spot in a car, which removes the pillar from the image, and shows an empty street, where however a pedestrian is coming in the way. This process explains very well how quantum noise or neural noise are removed from the image, exactly as in a graphic software, where vectorization removes the unnecessary details. How could I find them, then? With a simple elemental meditation: removing attachment to any interpretation of the image. Consciousness then automatically turns to the raw image, in pixels. For you it will be even simpler, since I created images and concepts that will allow you to directly perceive these phenomena.
This efficient noise filtering goes against the idea of free will being caused by random quantum fluctuations into our neurones.
However, we can still admit that, when two signals have an equal strength, for instance two contradictory emotions about one choice we have to do, then a quantum fluctuation can be the determining element which will tilt the balance on one side. And yes in this case we do not master it.
But, precisely, if we do not master it, it is not free will, just an appearance of it. This is why I called it «neurological pseudo-free will».
(Permalink) Let us suppose a prehistory tribe P, where two tax payers P1 and P2 owe each two sheep to the tax collector C. How many sheeps the tax collector gets? Don't laugh, mankind necessarily had to learn to solve this problem... with an average cultural level similar to the one of our today TV speakers... hmm.
What the neurological mechanisms produce is feelings (attachment, aversion) for each of the possible results: 3, 4, 5... depending on our personality, our interests, etc. So, anybody conditioned by the physics of the neurones will choose one of the possible opinions: the one he likes. And reflection, reasoning, calculus, etc. all have nothing to do in here.
Thus, the tax collector is eager to get five sheep, while the tax payers loath to give more than three. This case probably happened, and we can imagine that it produced thousands of years of wars between «class interests», with «proletarians» saying that 2+2=3, and «capitalists» saying 2+2=5, and think tanks paid by the seal oil industry saying that 2+2=4 is a conspiracy against the Neanderthal civilization, and sociopaths calling Hippies all the Homo Sapiens saying that 2+2=4.
However, mathematicians, and in a general way any logical person, knows well the demonstration of logical facts (chapter II-3). And they accept the result of these demonstration, even against their desire or comfort. And everybody ended to understand that 2+2=4, and founded laws and accountancy on this, that nobody questions today.
Thus, we are constrained to admit that the result of a logical reasoning is something independent of our neural determinisms. The logical reasoning wants 2+2=4, while the neurones want 2+2=5 ice creams, or 2+2=3 taxes.
So, each time we do a logical reasoning, we escape a neural determinism, psychological programming, genetic determinism, and even media manipulation. This is how science, mathematics, and generally the rational thinking, allowed mankind, well before building powerful machines, to build an organized society and complex philosophical systems, which all have a dramatic impact on the evolution of Earth and the evolution of life, according to criteria and motivations which have nothing biological or genetic.
But technically, what happens in the brain when somebody poses an act of logical reasoning? It happens that the neural networks have the capacity of finding the exact solution of a logical problem, either with Aristotelian reasoning or with non-Aristotelian reasoning (using the specific capacities of neural networks, chapter I-3). So this can work without influence of the consciousness on the neurones, that is, without violation of the laws of physics (without the process of creation of a domain seen in chapter IV-9). This does not enable rational thinking to bring informations from the consciousness to the brain! But this still allows the rational thinking to understand objectively the physical world, including the actions of other persons. (Please note here that the word «rational» is used in the TRUE meaning that I explain in chapter II-6, of logical reasoning, and NOT of being a member of some scary pro-nuclear or vivisectionist cult)
But the worse flaw of rational thinking is that there is no way to know if we ask the good questions! Basically, logical reasoning starts from axioms, that it cannot demonstrate (Chapter I-9). So rational thinking may bring the freedom to build machines and complex societies, but it does not give the freedom to give a good direction to these! It is specially unable to give any reply to questions like the meaning of life, or simply the good and the bad, which have no visible replies into the physical world, and no meaning at all into physics, logics or mathematics. So all our fantastic rational buildings have no foundation! As a matter of facts, even if many philosophers, from the Century of Enlightenment to Auguste Comte, fostered rational thinking as the only mean to know the world and lead our lives, this clearly failed to bring an happy society, and instead threw the world in the dangerous excess of rationalism, technocracy, genetic manipulations and the like, which are today the main hazards we have to face (climate change, nuclear cults, destruction of nature, life into concrete...).
So, people will use rational thinking only if they have a psychological attachment to its result, otherwise they will reject even its most obvious conclusions! We see this just too much often, even in our today rationalistic societies, especially in politics. In more elaborated cases, they will build complex but flawed doctrines justifying their psychological conditionings.
This is also how conspiracy theories or climate deniers theories maintain themselves against all the demonstration of their falseness: their adepts just reject logical the reasoning itself!
So, clearly, we do not have the freedom to engage into rational thinking! When people do it, it is only by attachment to the world of technology, see by simple chance!
Fact is that, initially, the modernist movement toward capitalism, ateism and egocentric freedom, has roots into the ideas of Sade (note 83), where freedom has no ethical limits.
The real freedom is when consciousness is able of sending its own information, on its own purposes and determinism, toward the brain. Logical reasoning cannot do this. This is why I state that it is only a partial form of free will, despite its obvious advantages when we use it against our conditioned neural thinking.
From here another definition of rationalism: it is when the conditioned neural thinking feeds the rational thinking with false axioms (dogmas).
But we still need to recognize that the step of rational thinking is indispensable, into the organisation of society, and even in the spiritual domain, where it plays an important role at several stages (chapter V-10). For instance, Buddhist monks follow lessons of basic logical reasoning, while the basic motivation building techniques of all spiritual paths use logical reasoning.
On the contrary, the New Age movement, which refuses «the intellect» and promotes «each one his truth», brings a lot of confusion and blather into the spiritual domain, in more of the mass production of dangerous cults.
The most extreme case is when the rational thought, conscious of its own fatuity, radically eliminates all the axioms. The only solution is then the one I describe in chapter V-5, which considers solely the nature of consciousness itself to find a meaning to life. This is the one I used personally, but most people only selectively eliminate axioms, which prevents this reasoning to lead anywhere. In addition, nothing guarantees that a mere opinion, as just as it can be, allows us to build a real spiritual consciousness. So this path, despite its effectiveness, does absolutely not remove the need for meditation for obtaining a genuine free will.
(Permalink) People use to oppose «the heart» and «the reason». However all the reasoning made above about rational thinking can prettily well be transposed to the emotional thinking. Indeed, emotional thinking is also very useful, while also very tricky, and anyway no more a true free will.
It should be noted that some spiritualists, Christians or New Age members, use the word «heart» to refer to the divine part within us. I carefully avoid this, because it is a trap: if we can assume that the divine is perfect, on the other hand, our «heart», that is our emotional sensitivity, is not perfect. It may be biased in many ways, and we can easily confuse a very egotistic hatred with a divine message calling us to fight an enemy... This mistake was made often enough so that everyone can be considered warned.
In a general way, everybody with social, human or spiritual concerns hold empathy (generally called «sensitivity» or «love») in a great esteem, as it allows to understand the suffering of others, and thus to adjust our own behaviour and motivations in order to avoid this suffering.
This is very noble and very true, in such an extend that even the highest spiritual achievements did not found better.
But how does this work? The normal neural capacities of sensitivity of the human brain allow us to sense the emotions of others. We have special neural circuits dedicated to this, using a lot of clues such as tone, mimics, etc. More, our imagination allows us to create mental images and to think as if we were the other person, submitted to his situation. So, we can then feel directly the related emotion, with all its strength. These brain functions are so basic and so pervasive that we can safely say that lack of empathy is a mental deficiency, and a symptom which can tell serious mental conditions such as psychopathy.
However, they are neural functions, and as such, imperfect. Especially, the try and mistake evolution process which created them was not guided by ethics or concern for others, but by a blind Darwinian selection process, on criteria such as raw survival conditions. Late us take for instance the feeling of clan. Among apes tribes, it is more favourable to survival than egocentricity. This makes us feel empathy and forgiveness toward a member of our clan who was bad toward us, while we feel hate toward somebody nice, but who is not in the clan. Among Humans, this is the cause of many dangerous neurosis such as racism, nepotism, nationalism, religious intolerance... These emotions however have no objective basis, as people are the same whatever their race, birth, religion, culture, country, or any arbitrary label or category we can stick on them. This is how the neurosis which ensured the survival of ape tribes against individualism, turned into one of the major causes of death into the modern human world. So it is clear that the Darwinian evolution is wrong on this point.
Other common cases are nice people, wanting to to the good, but neurotically attached to random religious dogma, for instance the Christian dogma as what everybody must be «converted». Despite starting from a nice and generous feeling, this dogma was one of the worse causes of war, colonialism and cultural destruction into History. «Normal» people can also be attached to useless sadomasochistic dogma, like mortification or hate of sex, which make them unhappy and unpleasant to others. Even in an extreme case like nazism, we still found many average «good willed» people, fostering naturism, creating the first European ministry of environment, and even promoting a Hippie-like «free love»! So nice, «just» making themselves blind about some «factories» with bad smelling smoke...
To sincerely want to do the good, or to pursue «nice vibrations» is even not a protection against these mistakes. My personal experience of New Age movement and contactees (chapter VII-2) allowed me to also observe this phenomenon: so many nice people here, when we meet we speak of spiritual love, good vibrations, enlightened masters, Earth about to change dimension, etc. But as soon as some days later, «issues» start to «appear», and, as if it was automatic, the smiling good vibrating spiritual mates then turn into very ordinary dictators, stalking us while saying they are so sorry of our suffering... I saw this several times, and I must admit that this contradiction is highly disconcerting and hard to understand. In the case of the cult I was a victim, there were two suicides.
(I take the occasion here of denouncing the idea as what being «sincere» would automatically make us not guilty of our faults, committed while sincerely doing the good. The inquisitors were sincere, the nazis were sincere, the red guards were sincere, all thinking to do the good for themselves and for mankind. But their judges too are sincere, so that...)
This makes that, neurologically, the highly esteemed compassion cannot be distinguished from any petty psychological attachment, and even not from hate: both are imputations made by specialised neurones in charge of labelling things «good» or «bad». And, into the complex human societies, these neurones resemble mad civil servants deprived of directives: they jump restlessly on their chair and frantically hit everybody with their stamp, at random!
These issues are the reason why Buddhist masters always request us to cultivate «equanimity» (considering nobody nor as a «friend» neither as an «enemy»), and especially to have «no attachment»... even to the good, even to the Buddha, even to their own doctrine! In clear to have no neurosis of any kind. This may be wiser... at least they never slaughtered people or ruined countries.
But there is another issue: accepting the injunctions of empathy requires a preliminary choice to do so. But there is nowhere in the brain a single neurone programmed for this purpose! So that, if we do not meet any specific event inducing us into the right choice, we may forever circle between regrettable mistakes and sincere dictatorship... We may even find the truth by accident, and, not identifying it as such, just pass over it, and fall back again into evil!!
So, emotional thinking ultimately has similar advantages and shortcomings than rational thinking (as they work, somewhat, about in the same way). Even if love is clearly noble and relevant (we can make without technology, but we cannot make without love), it is still unable to completely liberate us of all psychology. Using it for this purpose is a long, tedious and tricky process, with many pitfalls, each able to block us for all our life long. It is alas what happens to most of us.
So, these capacities make of emotional thinking a required step on our freedom, and a partial free will. But it cannot be a way for the consciousness to control the neurones, it is not a true free will.
(Permalink) Despite the limitations seen in the two previous sub-chapters, it is remarkable how this imperfect material instrument, the brain, designed by millions years of costly tries and cruel mistakes, with bugs far older than all the Microsoft bugs together, and totally devoid of any ethical view or happiness purpose, is still able of providing us with an usable amount of understanding of life and freedom of decision. Even if the consciousness cannot directly control it, it has developed a large control from its own, and its logical functions and emphatic capacities are able to approach truth by themselves, whatever it is in science, purpose or life, ethics, etc. At least enough for allowing anybody to understand the good and the evil, and to be considered responsible by the courts if we refuse to do so.
But how does it happen in practice? Alternating sessions of logical reasoning and of meditation, alternating actual observation of people around us or visualisation, we examine the consequences of our choices and actions. Then we modify these choices in order to bring only happy consequences, for us and for the others. When we find some general law, we can build some philosophy system and deduce ethic rules.
Meditation is exactly the same thing as logical reasoning, save that it uses totally different brain capacities: non-attachment to emotions, empathy, visualisation, etc. Anybody not psychotic can do this, even if we need to learn to do so. We learn to do logical reasoning at school, we should similarly learn empathy and meditation at school. Maybe if I have spiritual capacities today, it is perhaps because I was given some relaxation sessions when I was a child.
The problem however is that it is a time consuming process, with many traps and pitfalls, that few can really complete alone in a single lifetime.
So that a collective approach is much better, as it was actually done in science, ethics or high spirituality. Over the centuries, a great deal of scientific knowledge, ethical values (such as Human Rights) and spiritual knowledge has been accumulated, which is taught in schools to each new generation. This saves much time and risk to any new born individual, and allows everybody for much greater chances of completing the whole path.
But few individual realize the luck that they have to be born in such a world, and far too many continue to behave as in an ape tribe. For the vast majority, their advance relies only on rare encounters with good people, in a world dominated by media and «buddies» noisily fostering egocentricity, hate, laziness, or maniacally mocking at kindness, beauty, etc. So that many people engage in the path of truth, but they fall back in their routines some years after (all the more if they were gouged by a cult). It is quite clear that our world needs a much better leadership, able of inspiriting enthusiasm to the youth, so that they engage into the learning of wisdom, instead of despair or inaction as they do today.
Still worse, all these centuries of science progress and millennia of spiritual progress could be lost in the looming climate catastrophe, or even in a war or fascist setback.
So that we clearly need a way to go faster. At least at an individual level. The continuation give you ways to at least save yourself, if not of saving the world. Saving the world anyway requires that enough people save themselves first.
(Permalink) As explained especially in chapter III-8, psychophysical is about a direct interaction between the physical world and consciousness, what we usually call parapsychological. Traditional parapsychological phenomena by themselves will be studied in the seventh part.
All the experiences described above can provide us with some freedom, but they are all still totally dependent on neurones: logical free will, or spiritual free will, may happen... or not. Even if these capacities are within reach of any normally constituted brain, they seldom manifest in a lifetime. They rarely bring a full understanding of life, not to speak of genuine spiritual realisations like destroying attachment or destroying the ego. They cannot be provoked or planned, and depend a lot on chance, rare events or special people, in a statistically improbable series of chances to accomplish all the steps of our spiritual unfolding: we would need to live 1000 years to obtain this!
So we are forced to admit that the only true free will, the only one which can really force neurones to obey our consciousness and bring us real insights into a reproducible enough way, is the one which we described in the chapter IV-9: special physical conditions in the neurones create a logical indetermination, which allow for information to pass from the consciousness toward the physical realm. This is what I call «weak parapsychological free will», and it is the only instance where consciousness can really master the neurones and the psychology, instead of being determined by them.
And still it is not easy, as these conditions seldom happen spontaneously, for instance in a very emotional dilemma.
We however have some means to reproduce them: to stop the attachment to opinions. This can be done in meditation, with some beginner's methods taught in any town of democratic countries. The mental calm resets all the neural signals to zero, and this creates the indeterminacy. To stop it completely is a long task, but at least we can be rapidly able of producing short episodes of this.
(This, incidentally, explains why both totalitarian regimes and «democratic» media take together so much efforts to denigrate meditation: if everybody meditated, no power would stand, neither by fear nor by manipulation.)
This is why meditation allows us, like described in the chapter IV-9, to really explore life and control our brain in a reliable way. And still, we need to engage in a long path of knowledge, not just change one opinion and be stuck again with the new one as we were with the previous. And this does not dispenses us of mastering rational thinking as well as love of others, right on the contrary our path needs both of them.
A very common mistake is when people just replace their ancient opinions with spiritualist opinions, without really questioning the fundamental orientations of their lives. It is then said that the ego took over spirituality. In doing so, it precisely blocks the true spiritual attitude of liberation of the opinions.
However this process can be engaged and completed within one lifetime, and maybe hundred of thousands of persons achieved this. It is still better of course if we receive the correct instructions and engage seriously into the appropriate practices.
(Permalink) There are other peculiar events, thought, which can bring a much stronger effect. However we cannot provoke them.
Some religious conceptions of free will entail magical events, like visits of angels, descent of divine grâce, etc. I do not deny this, but clearly I did not saw anything like this in my life. So, at least, it is not common, and it is better not to wait for this before starting to explore life!
(It is to be noted that, when we start to meditate, feelings of presence, inner voices or dream-like visions are common experiences. They must however not lure us into thinking that we already reached sanctity, or that we received a message from the heavens: these visions are much more likely dream-like experiences than real encounters. At least, they seem to «reveal» us only what we want to be revealed... if you are not sure, just ask them some practical information you need! A dream encounter is totally unable of replying to such a request, while a real one can. These visions however must not be discarded: Tantra masters still request us to consider them as our Yidam, or as an ideal version of ourselves. But in the process, it is us who control the vision, not the vision which lures us.)
Unless that the religions are just referring to what follows:
It is scientifically proven today that drastic spiritual changes often occur with persons who had a NDE. During a NDE, when the brain is totally stopped (totally flat electroencephalogram), the person's consciousness escapes from the body, and encounters what looks like an afterlife world, while often receiving strong spiritual enticing toward wisdom and love. The person also realises that he is not just a body, but a consciousness, which is immortal. So, most people having a NDE shift their focus from egocentric interest toward love or spirituality. This happens naturally even without intentional decision. NDE are beyond doubt a strong psychophysical (parapsychological) phenomena, this meaning an occasion where consciousness provokes a massive and decisive action on the physical world.
There are other similar phenomenon, like the instants of super-consciousness: a person in a situation of deadly threat experiences visions similar to the NDE, without however any bodily damage. Most often, it is not really a vision, but a sudden and acute awareness of the value of life and love. In many instances, the person gets accurate informations for saving his life. In the classical Moody's book «Life after life», he quotes a person who was guided out of a deadly trap in a factory. And in this case, the person had no material means to know this information. This happened to me, when I was warned of the presence of a viper hidden under a stone I was about to pick by hand (after picking dozens of similar stones nearby). This clearly proves that information from some consciousness realm can reach the physical brain, and modify it (have physical effects on the neurones).
(Permalink) Therefore free will, apart from some rare cases of direct spiritual inspiration, requires some intelligence and culture, as well as some ability to think rationally (in the correct meaning, see chapter I-8 and especially chapter II-6) and to consider our emotions (introspection). In particular, emotional free will (compassion) and the logical free will (rational thought) that we saw above, if they are not the free will itself, are however indispensable steps for it to exist.
It is now recognized that the exercise of our freedom requires objective information and a basic education to logical reasoning, what science offers us. But we just as much need a psychological education, aiming at introspection and awareness of our emotions, the only things which allow us to control our actions. This, only spirituality can bring it to us. Hence the serious danger of both anti-intellectual cults and denigration of spirituality in these materialistic societies. This last point is today by far the largest threat on our freedom.
Once these tools in hand, the only point is to want.
If we now have a general hypothesis on how free will can happen, we still need to study with more details how a domain can appear, evolve and disappear. This is studied in the next chapter.
(Permalink) Two of the foundations of the law are that everyone is responsible for his actions, and that anyone who has committed harmful acts must be punished accordingly. Rightly, the exceptions are for the persons without actual free will: demented persons, children, victims of suffering or blackmail.
(The impunity of persons committing state crimes is a privilege which still escapes the law).
However I note that these principles are used on neurotic persons (chapter V-12), likely to be manipulated by their neurosis, for example a racist who is guilty of discrimination, or a technocrat who «does not see» a security flaw. They are even used on sociopaths (chapter V-13), who yet lack the human sensitivity needed to assess their actions.
From the point of view of the defence of the society, I do not see any better solution, and these two principles are our only protection against a generalization of egocentricity and return to feudalism. After all, people are actually able to understand the good and the evil, and if they are unable to get some discipline, they just have to treat their neurosis. There is no shortage of methods for doing so, neither of ideals for giving the desire of doing it. Having done it myself alone, without any guide or method, there are not many excuses.
However no consciousness really wants to suffer or to make suffer. But neurotic neurons will make us desire or love actions which produce suffering. Neurosis is a terrible trap that the brain and the genes oppose to consciousness... a very vicious trap, since we feel the desire, sometimes uncontrollable, for something which will actually harm us (for instance to drink) or designate us as unpleasant to the eyes of the others (for instance to steal). Worse, we feel this as «our desire», or even «our will»! To clearly understand this terrible condition, we can consider that parasites can sometimes produce the same effect:
-The pinworm produces a very misplaced itching, which forces its host to spread its eggs. The Guinea worm (Dracunculus medinensis) is still worse: it tortures its victim as with the red iron, for several months, to force him to go in the water, where the worm lays its eggs.
-The fungus cordiceps literally takes control of the brains of ants, making of them zombies (note 80) who will themselves go in the right place, and plant themselves permanently with their claws, so that the fungus can quietly dissolve their flesh from the inside.
-A mouse with a mature hydatid cyst no longer feels fear, and will confidently dance in the grass and allow itself to be eaten by the first fox coming along!
-Same with a rat infected with toxoplasmosis, which loses the fear of cats, or even no longer smells their urine!
At a pinch, scientists suspect that toxoplasmosis can also affect the behavior of humans, or that they are a major causes of schizophrenia or depression. Anyway, At least, as of many other parasites, viruses or bacteria, it produces various neurological disorders, in such an extend that, according to some, they may have a major influence on political life of countries. Okay, maybe toxoplasmosis explains the frequent submission to cats, or even the insensitivity to the cat pee stench...
These repugnant examples, which look like coming out of some horror film, really show how our desire, and even our neurological «will», can be manipulated by simple chemical substances. And our own brain, with its hundreds of neurotransmitters, does exactly the same thing! So we have pinworm neurons torturing us with a compelling desire to drink or take drugs, hydatid neurons which make us go to war without scampering off with terror, or cordiceps neurons which make us stay stuck for hours in front of the TV, gazing with admiration the gesticulations of ridiculous fake artists, and after vote unconsciously for sadomasochist politicians who will quietly ruin our economies from the inside, and ravage our planet!
When we realizes the full horror of this condition of the neurological consciousness, and in which extend it can make fun of us, torture us and make us ruin our lives with our own hands while believing that it is our will, then the purely spiritual attitude toward all the faults of anybody, becomes pity, and the desire to punish loses any sense. The purely spiritual attitude toward the faults of others, is universal love and unconditional forgiveness, inseparable from the desire to liberate everybody from this terrible neurological slavery. And if I had magical powers, I would not use them to launch some Armageddon or punitive extermination, but really to heal neurosis and ignorance. (But I don't have such powers, then it is better not to wait for me.)
Please note in passing that the universal forgiveness described here has no relation with the manipulating «accept me as I am» of the New Age or the «left» intellectuals. What these people ask is that we accept their neurotic personality with all its flaws, and especially no moral to mend it. While the unconditional forgiveness described here caters to spiritual consciousness, which needs to be liberated from the neurosis, and therefore profoundly modified.
We will see in chapter V-12 how to master our neurosis, and in chapter V-10 how to totally get rid of this terrible condition of the neurological consciousness. However these are not methods which can be applied to others, as a doctor who treats a patient. It is no more social reforms which could be impose on others, as some politicians attempted to do. These are methods that we first apply to ourselves, from our own decision. And any external help is effective only if the person accepts or request this assistance. There is no other way, sorry.
This is perhaps the reason why mankind can rely only on itself: any external assistance (assuming that this could happen) would be seen as an interference, or even as an invasion, thereby ruining the only effective way to get out of the current disaster: motivating people to treat their neurosis. If outside powers are helping us, they therefore must be discrete (see chapter VI-17)
But, waiting that people make the right choice, society must protect itself against whoever indulges into following their egotistical desires. And so we cannot yet do without cops, judges and prisons... all mandatory consequences of the neurosis and neurological consciousness.
This contradiction between the social palliative and the spiritual solution is one of the arguments for the separation of powers, in this case between the judicial power and the spiritual power. However, as they are basically pursuing the same goal, they must recognize each other, and even in some cases act in coordination. It would be a bit wonky to do otherwise.
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