(Was a part of chapter 45 in version 1)
Animal consciousness is the usual state of consciousness of animals, incapable of free will, and even of introspection. Not to mention meditation. Many humans are still stuck at this stage, and we can often recognize them to their stereotyped or repetitive behaviours, their as compelling as absurd opinions, or their inability to question their fundamental choices (as to be delinquent, submissive, etc.). Young children also normally pass through this stage.
Scientists however know to recognize only the inability of making reasoning. Indeed, a typical animal does not have the area of reasoning or concepts developed. A fun example is that a dog can easily learn how to open a door, but it is very difficult to make him close them. He is just as able to close as to open, but he does not have enough anticipation to understand why they should be closed. However we should not underestimate the abilities of the most advanced animals (dolphins, elephants, monkeys...) who can show able to have long term plans, or even to engage in activities that are deemed specifically human: keeping herds, painting, evading a tsunami, etc.
We saw in chapter V-2 that the emergence of a logical self-generation system of consciousness would have for initial cause the manipulation of abstract or complex informations (images, situations) by specialized cells gathered in a brain. However these conditions occurred very early in the evolution of animals (first chordates, or first eyes, Cambrian, 500 million years ago). More «human» capabilities such as primitive emotions (desire, fear) were quick to appear, perhaps as early as fishes with jaws (Silurian, 425 million years) and surely with the land vertebrates (Carboniferous, 340 million years ago). Therefore, about our conduct toward animals, we have a similar problem to that of abortion, to know at which time exactly the consciousness appeared in the evolution of life. Probably very early, as for babies. So we can say without taking too much risk, that some primitive animals such as worms have the ability to feel pain, fish have basic feelings (Commander Cousteau and Jojo the grouper) and any mammal, reptile or bird has self-awareness. Which implies that all vertebrate must have a right to life similar to what a child enjoys, while we must spare pain to any animal with at least eyes or a draft of a brain. We shall see this with more details in chapter V-2 on the brain, and chapter VI-4 on ethics
On the other hand, nothing such appears in plants, even those which are able of movement. In fact these movements occur in a purely mechanical way, as for a mousetrap. That does not mean we can dispose of the plants at our discretion, see chapter VI-7.
(Permalink) Psychological consciousness is the basic state of the adult human without any psychoeducation. This state is especially characterized by the total submission to neurosis: hate or attachment to opinions, people or things, on meaningless basis such as race, sex, country, language, style, etc. Such a state of consciousness is obviously lame and dangerous, leading its wearer to create from nothing many terrible suffering, of which he is often the first victim, such as war. However we saw in chapter V-3 that, unlike the animal consciousness, this state still offers some freedom of analysis and introspection, which allows most humans to more or less escape this sad condition, understand the world and adopt plans and attitudes more in phase with stakes of society life, purpose of life, happiness, etc. Thus we find people in all the stages of evolution, between a state of blind submission to the neurosis, to a more refined state, which is usually called civilized. A minority goes beyond what is usually required by civilisation, toward a deeper spiritual control.
Thus, it is difficult to classify people, because members of so-called «primitive» peoples may show fine philosophers (see the film «The Gods Must Be Crazy», where the main actor, a Bushman, is really like in the film) while idiots unable of reasoning may store quantities of bookish knowledge and show the appearance of a refined civilization. The more general case however is that of people who adhere to the surrounding ideas and submit to common customs (an attenuated form of the «Stockholm syndrome»). These people are often able of giving refined justifications to their attitude, although they do not have the necessary detachment from these justifications for being able to compare them with other motives. Thus their adhesion to the established order is never a real choice.
Psychological consciousness still has capacities for introspection and analysis for studying and understand reality (if people decide to engage in this task, chapter V-3). This is what scientists are doing in physics and material sciences, while philosophers will attempt to find things like the meaning of life, ethics, etc. As long as they proceed by observation and reasoning, these philosophers may also be called scientists. (Strictly, this should also be the case for psychologists and sociologists, but the materialistic theories prevailing in these areas often precludes them from the statute of science).
(Permalink) However, any person who engages in this path quickly has to face two problems:
1) Concepts such as the purpose of life, or the good and the evil, are basically defined by consciousness (chapter V-5)
2) To find these motivations, and to live more in agreement with them, needs to adjust the consciousness that we inherited from our brains (or from society). In a first step, we have to eliminate the neurosis which generate unfounded opinions and emotions (and thus suffering and mistakes). In a second step, we must develop qualities which are proper to consciousness, which enable it to realize its goals.
When a person engages in this path, then he qualifies as spiritual, which literally means «who cultivates his mind» The fact of having a specific purposes defined by consciousness itself, fundamentally distinguishes spirituality from psychology. In more, as psychology is offering us no purposes, it can provide us with excellent ways to be misled.
The words «religion» and «spirituality» are often used as synonyms. However they are not at all. We can have a belief system, or follow rules of ethics, out of pure social conformism, without any spiritual approach; conversely we can want to understand and transform our mind without any belief or religious commitments. This is what I did in the 1970 years, when I was completely atheist, in the time of the communities in France: to be able to live together without laws and without disputes, I understood that we need to get rid of our psychological defects. My first success in this area was to cure the neurosis of racism that was inflicted to me when I was a child (I lived in Algeria from 11 to 13, just after the war). It took me more than twenty years, but it healed without traces or relapse. And still, I was alone, with my only own means. With Tantric techniques, it is an exercise for beginners, which requires no more than three months.
If my personal choice was to engage in Tibetan Buddhism, it is not from personal preference, or for seeking an «identity» or a place to fit in. It is because it is today the most comprehensive method available. And the formal commitment is part of its requirements. Personally, I would rather have all the religions, which would allow me to communicate with everyone, regardless of religion. For this reason, I have studied all, at least a little.
So, a spiritual practice allows to control the psychological consciousness, enough to ensure at least an harmonious social life and a stable happiness. (If many government promoted them, it is really because they allow a harmonious functioning of society). The varied training, introspection and meditation techniques allow to see our neurosis and other psychological defilements, and to fix them. (Higher spiritual practices go directly to the second step: the creation of a spiritual body allows to remove our neurosis in bulk, without the need to identify them first.)
However it is a long process, exposed to many dangers: spiritual materialism, ego inflation, cults, fanaticism, false guides who expose us to despair and suicide. In short a long journey strewn with pitfalls and marshes, that most undertake at guess, without map or compass... It is then not a surprise if we see so many spiritualists scattered along what looks like a Way of Sorrow, where they advance painfully, from cult to quagmire, from falls to disappointment.
Fortunately the spiritual techniques can do much better than a kind of psychotherapy or social harmonisation technique. We saw in chapter V-3 that to cause the freewill is possible for any person who really wants to do it. This freewill then opens the door to the direct control of our psychological consciousness by the immaterial spiritual consciousness (the proper logical self-generation of consciousness). Not only this greatly increases the effectiveness of all the previous techniques, but in addition it provides accurate information from the domain of consciousness: the map and the compass to explore this realm. This is already fabulous, but the spiritual traditions of all kinds offer much more: developing magical abilities (parapsychological powers) and survival after death into paradise worlds, kinds of virtual worlds in which we control the life conditions at our advantage. And it is remarkable that this happens as well in the Catholic monasteries as in the Tibetan gompas, Hindu ashrams or Taoist mountains, despite the incredible differences in methods and in metaphysical conceptions.
There are many spiritual techniques, and the purpose of this chapter is not to describe them. Just briefly recall some of them: the correct practice of meditation allows things as diverse as correcting neurosis, accessing mental calm (or mental control) or accessing to free will. More difficult meditations, such as Emptiness or Tantrism, are even more effective for these purposes, but they offer in more the access to the powers, even if this is not their primary purpose.
However on our way we will still meet again one enemy, much tougher than any other: our ego. Why tougher? Aren't we equipped with means for annihilating all the neurosis, including selfishness or attachment to ourselves? This is actually quite easy, and we even can develop altruistic motives in the wake. However the core ego has a very different nature than a simple neurosis of selfishness, which makes its destruction much more difficult, and especially crucial. But first, what is it?
(Permalink) For the uninitiated, the idea of destroying the ego often appears strange, or even disturbing. This is because this word can describe very different things, according to multiple philosophical systems, some fancy or even deceiving. These definitions are simply not talking about the same thing, and they may therefore involve totally opposite conducts. Hence the need to first clearly define what we are speaking about in this chapter, and that we shall therefore call «ego» in the following, whatever this word means in other thought systems.
For the general public, words such as «ego», «egocentricity», «selfishness», simply refer at too much importance attributed to oneself, at the expense of the others, their interests or their views. It is a simple neurosis, a psychological problem like we all have, which can be healed with easy meditations, including a work on our motivations in life. But it is important to do this, for the success of our family or social relationship (chapter V-12). We will also base Ethics (chapter VI-2) and economy (chapter VI-8) on the elimination of egocentricity. In the case of strong self-centredness, it is then referred to as narcissism, which can be a symptom of psychosis, requiring psychiatric treatment (chapter V-13).
In environments such as psychology, «left-wing» intellectuals, New Age, «therapies» or «personal development», the word «ego» is supposed to refer to the defence of oneself in front of attacks, or social conditioning. It is obviously legitimate to defend oneself against any attempt to manipulate us, exploit us or steal our energy, and for this purpose any technique or explanation is welcome. Most importantly, everyone must be able to discover and develop his capacities, and develop a rich, original and happy personality, with the help of numerous methods, spiritual or «not spiritual».
However this should never be done at the expense of normal social relationship, which must account with others, their legitimate desires and interests. A serious problem, denounced by both health workers and specialists of cults, is that this «personal development» is often at the expense of others: strengthening of egocentricity, transgression of social limits, arrogant assurance, etc. This risk is very real, and I actually met many kind people who become arrogant and harsh, following such «therapies». It is also interesting to see fake New Age gurus dropping their long hair for the suit and tie, and offer more income-generating «services» to companies. With their victims tied by the fear of dismissal...
But this is not just about «cults»: «normal» society as well sees the «left» materialism and the right «liberalism» pusshing together toward individualism and the disintegration of society. Hence the staggering increase of divorces, suicides, single parents, single people... Capitalism maintains individualism as a fundamental «value» or as self-justification of the wacky behaviour of its lords, but it is above all a excellent means for enslaving the populations. And the more individualistic people there are, the more normal people are forced to flee in seclusion, to protect themselves, to the point that it is now increasingly difficult to live in a couple, to manage an association, or even for a child to keep his parents! This is a fantastic failure of all the materialistic and individualistic ideologies of every orientation, a sneaky cancer gnawing our societies and our hearts from inside... because precisely, happiness can come only from what others offer to us! Individualism is the main obstacle to this, because who will desire to offer us something, if we never offer anything ourselves?
So we must protect ourselves as much of the swindlers who offer us «new spirituality» as of the honeyed political and media smiles, and try to transform our mind only in the frame of a serious and independent spiritual approach, which will help us building ourselves, while promoting sensitivity to others, instead of opposing these two aspects. This balance is what allows social relationship to operate normally, that is in both directions, from others to us and from us to others. The basic spiritual practices are very useful for this, with providing compassionate motivations and effective means to control our neurosis, and even to cure them.
Another important conclusion is that we must not use the word «ego» to name our personality, or the defence of this personality. Such a definition is dangerous, as it creates a confusion: in spirituality, people say that we must destroy our ego. With this false definition, this would mean that we must destroy our personality, which is as false as terrifying.
Indeed, in high spirituality, we hear about complete destruction of the ego, of non-self, ataraxia, dissolution of consciousness in the Great Whole... By Jove! That is not much enticing to go there...
In fact these expressions are the result of approximate translations of often misunderstood concepts, popularized in the spiritualist literature of the early 20th century. The reality is very different: with high spirituality, far from dismissing ourselves, we are instead interested into building a fantastic spiritual body, called by different names such as «light body», «rainbow body», «Vajra body», etc. using advanced meditation, Yoga, Tantra, Emptiness. Depending on the spiritual path, the result is called «Buddha State», «illumination», «Holiness», etc. So it is a very desirable state, which is characterized not only by extreme kindness and wisdom, but also by a total control of our minds, and the elimination of all the illusions, both from the world and from the spirit. And of course, there no loss of consciousness, but on the contrary increase, toward much larger concerns than our only personal interest or material desires!
Well, we suspect that lots of people can lie in claiming to possess such a state: how could we judge them, if we do not have it ourselves? But in all the religions, from the catholic monasteries to the snows of Tibet, there is a test, and only one: a person who obtained this state manifests parapsychological powers. Miracles, odour of sanctity, deads who do not decay... No way to cheat with this!
(Permalink) But we saw in the previous chapters that freewill, the choice of the good, wisdom, love, parapsychological powers, all have one thing in common: to be the result of an action of the consciousness on the brain.
Remember that the psychological consciousness is the result of the only activity of the brain. Indeed, the neurons being part of the physical world (of the logical self-generation process of the physical world), they can obey only to their own determinism, that is, the laws of physics (rule 5, chapter III-3). Under these conditions, they cannot receive information from consciousness, and in particular they cannot produce freewill or extrasensory perceptions. And their ability to produce science, good or wisdom are conditioned to a long process of trial and error. But above all, neurons being physical objects, they cannot influence the physical world other than with their natural physical action (the muscles): no telekinesis, no miracles! (Okay, okay, everybody knew this... but it still had to be explained by a logical reasoning, not by a dogma).
However, we saw in chapter V-3 that there are exceptions: the freewill allows consciousness to control the brain, to bend it to the very motives of consciousness (chapter V-5). Other incidental phenomena such as the NDE and the moments of superconsciousness also allow for this.
Precisely, the whole training of high spirituality (Yoga, Tantra, Emptiness) is essentially about strengthening this control: consciousness has more and more power over the brain. And while doing so, the person more and more escapes the determinism of the physical neurons (whether they are genetic, psychological, or the result of social manipulation).
So, after a moment, consciousness ends to take the power over the neurons! The physical activity of the neurons is determined by the consciousness!
The consequences are multiple, and easily observable:
-The person no longer search what is the good, he knows it (this is logically one of the very first messages of the consciousness).
-The person more and more pursue motives of the consciousness, such as love, art, science, etc.
-The emotions have less grip on the person, even if he still feels them (often more strongly). Even physical pain loses its power (however pleasures can increase: the psychic orgasm of a base yogi is already ten times stronger than the ejaculation of a Muggle!)
- And above all, once the logical self-generation process of consciousness took power on the brain, there is no reason to limit its influence on the physical world to only this single brain: someone advanced enough may then manifest parapsychological powers, first premonitions (the easiest) and then direct actions on the physical world (miracles).
Thus, all the extraordinary and desirable features of the highest spiritual awakening can be summarised to only the power taking of the logical self-generation process of consciousness over the logical self-generation process of the brain which bears it. This condition then allows the person, not only to express without interference the motivations of consciousness (the good), but, with sufficient training, it can even modify the physical world around him. In clear, to make miracles.
I find absolutely extraordinary that such a simple theory as the logical self-generation theory, which differs from conventional science by only two sentences (the two metaphysical principles of chapter III-2), allows to logically explain what is happening in the temples of high physics (quantum mechanics, creations of domains, categories of particles...) as well as in the laboratories of high spirituality (Definition of the good, meaning of life, Holiness, miracles) and many other things.
But back to our ego.
In the light of the previous, I give this definition of the neuronal ego: the ego is simply the activity of the brain circuits which produce our motivations, mobile, desires, plans of action. The higher cortex, say the neurologists. To talk like the computer people, it is the inference engine of the brain! Of course, as long as it is alone at the helm, there can be no other commander, and especially there is nobody to tell where the ship should go!
(Note that the word «ego» in all what follows refers precisely to this definition, and to no other! To avoid confusion, I speak of «neuronal ego». For the neurosis, I speak of «egocentricity neurosis». For the personality, I speak of personality, instead of sowing confusion with cheap Newspeak.)
However, this neural ego being only a purely physical phenomenon, it normally has no access to the intrinsic data of consciousness: good, evil, happiness, suffering, or the motivations seen in chapter V-5. This is the reason why the egos of people produce indiscriminately, within each individual, either desirable or unhappy personality traits, at random, and often contradictory. This is also the reason why it can make us act against our interest (such as irritating a spouse, taking drugs, or ignoring climate change) and it may even hurt us incredibly, using our very own hands! Obviously, for a physical phenomenon, it is easy, since it is not it which suffers!
We suspects that it produces egocentricity. But its influence is much broader, and especially much more subtle: Even if the brain decides to become altruistic, it is still this neural ego which organizes this altruism! We then have for example individuals who perform altruistic gestures, but who control the way in which they are received... Unfortunately a common scene among church people and humanitarian people, and which is the cause of much suffering. Thus the neural ego always takes power over our thoughts, regardless of our motivation. So we understand why we really need to destroy this ego, and why only those who totally destroyed it are called saints.
As a result, we can define spiritual awakening as a process of power taking of the consciousness over this neural ego (over the brain), which will be accompanied by a gradual but deep reform of the individual, of the way he apprehends the world, his motivations, to make them more consistent with the motivations of consciousness, at the expense of genetic, psychological or neurotic motivations.
So it is a transformation which is inherently beneficial, which always serves our interest, and also the interest of others, even if the result may be very different from one person to another (We do not necessarily become a Gandhi).
However this power taking goes even further than the change in personality, because this control produces varied parapsychological phenomena useful for our altruistic activities. It also generates the spiritual body that we shall have after our death, ensuring us pleasant conditions at that time, instead of landing in unpleasant or forlorn worlds.
But the ego does not give up the commands so easily. It will even make things difficult, the bloke, as we shall see.
(Permalink) Why is it not easy? Everything simply because the ego is present permanently, governing all our thoughts, while consciousness acts only in a evanescent, intermittent, rare way.
We need to understand how it works. It is the part of the brain which organizes our intentions and our actions, the frontal cortex (while simplifying). In animals, an emotion will produce the desire of reaching a certain goal, and to engage in actions accordingly: to move, to attack, to flee. In humans, we have the same process, but more complex: a life experience, an emotion, an encounter, a reading, makes us adhere to an opinion, or a religion, or a way of seeing the world. This may involve plans over the years, as for example to study for having a job. With our project in mind, we are going to, day after day, organize and run quantities of actions, depending on the project. We can certainly change of project (change of philosophy, of religion, etc.) but this requires major facts in our environment (wedding, meetings...)
The frontal cortex of the brain contains thousands of circuits able of making decisions and organize plans of action accordingly. It is it which produces all our thoughts, from instant to instant, our feelings, our reactions. However our neural ego is not «another person» with different intentions than us. We can therefore control it, with appropriate meditation techniques.
We may try the comparison with the «unconscious» of the psychoanalysts, from the fact that it organizes our emotional reactions and takes all our decisions without we realise it. However the psychoanalysts adorn their «unconscious» of magical virtues of which it is really unable: the neural ego is only a software, it has no intents, no plans, no consciousness. It is not a diabolical manipulator, nor a sex obsessed, nor an inexhaustible reservoir of hidden filth that we cannot see, but that our enemies can see easily!
We then understand that one of the very first exercises in all spiritual paths, is to channel this continuous flow of thoughts, our internal chatter, through meditation, inner silence, the recitation of mantras, prayers, verses, etc.
But we also understand that it is an almost impossible task: when we want to engage in a spiritual training, then our ego takes this new motivation, and it will start to organize our training, recite mantras, expect results, and get angry because they are not here! The ego can even want to organize its own destruction, but this is precisely the only thing that it cannot do, hence the mandatory failure of any egotic attempt to attain enlightenment.
This takeover of our ego on our spiritual life is responsible for phenomena such as the arrogance of the new disciple, who will want to convert everybody else even before being educated himself. It is also it which animates the founders of sects and of conspiracy theories: following a first spiritual experience, they make «their truth», but their swollen ego is then unable to question it when other complementary revelations occur. It is still our ego which make us find the temple and the lessons so attractive that it focuses all our energy on them, until other experiences make us find them annoying, and our daily practice a chore. At this time, many disciples give up: the ego has won. A totally meaningless victory, since the ego is not «someone» who would enjoy his victory, it is only an unconscious process, a software.
Muslims call the devil «the Whisperer», because it has no power, only to suggest us bad actions. For the ego, it is the opposite: we could call it «the Mute», because it never talks to us. On the other hand, it has all the powers over our emotions, our opinions, our intentions, our projects, our desires, and any of our inner images. He knows us better than ourselves, all our weaknesses, our secret desires. We then understand the difficulty of escaping it. We cannot anyway, as long as the non-physical consciousness does not take over it.
However, there are many techniques to control it at this point: all the spiritual paths include practices for creating and maintaining our motivation (love of others, looking for wisdom). And indeed, it is relatively easy to give our ego correct motivations to implement, and to hire him into spiritual roles (being a just, a disciple, a monk, a yogi,...). Here, at least, it works for us, instead of working against us.
And even if we are not «in a religion», we can still place our ego in a role of a good husband, good parent, good citizen, ecological, humanitarian, etc. At least, here, it will not make us ruin our lives!
We then understand why, in the film «Little Buddha», the Buddha calls his ego «architect». The dialogue (obviously allegoric) is worth its weight in tsampa, and I copy it as it:
(After the Buddha has vanquished temptation and converted anger into serenity, his ego appears as an exact reflection of himself. And the ego says:)
The ego: You who will go where nobody else will dare, will you be my god?
Buddha: Finally I meet you!
Buddha: You will not rebuild your house again
(The ego starts to make a down the mouth face)
The ego: But I AM your house
The ego: And you live in me
Buddha: Oh lord of my own ego
Buddha: You are pure illusion
Buddha: You do not exist
Buddha: The Earth is my witness (and he makes his famous gesture of touching the ground)
(The ego is no longer able to maintain any illusion, so it comes back to its intrinsic mug of Mara, the lord of illusions, and vanishes like any other illusion.)
For someone who knows nothing, these words seem highly incomprehensible and fanciful. Yet they exactly comply with the Buddhist canon, and their meaning appears very clear in the light of this chapter:
The ego is called «architect», because it is the builder of the whole neuronal personality of the Buddha, the «house» in which lived his consciousness, and that ordinary people cannot do without. But when we seek enlightenment, the whole psychic personality moves to another house, entirely in the realm of consciousness, where we shall have much better furniture and a palace without limit! The neuronal personality then no longer appears as a mansion, but as a prison. And in more, a prison with leprous walls, full of old grey stuff, worn chairs and bad memories. From where the interest of having this ego to stop «building his House» (a thing that it can do very quickly: a second of inattention is enough to be rigged again with opinions, neurosis, etc.) But the ego wants to continue to exist at all costs, even if for this it has to be a slave! (His first reply in the dialogue)
And the way to get rid of the ego? To recognize that it has no intrinsic existence! That is, to no longer pay attention to all his chatter, ideas, feelings, etc. by which it tries to keep the first place, before the consciousness. We need to recognize that it is NOT US! Our true personality, it is our immaterial consciousness, not the software of the brain.
Pof, dismissed, the ego. And without compensation. To the trash bin, as the plaster cast once an injured person is healed. And I warrant you that when it happens to us, we do not want to keep the cast as a relic! It was part of us for long months, it supported us while making us suffer... But now we are free to frolic in the meadow, then done with the cast.
To think that the ego is «not us» may seems odd, because, precisely, it kitchens about anything that we believe to be «us». This is however really this way we need to think, and I had the chance of realising this very young, when still a child, while a large majority never understand it:
I was at the time for modern things, and therefore for electric trains and against steam trains, the kind of naive ideas that we get when we are children. Reading the book by Pierre Clostermann «The Big Show» (Le Grand Cirque), I was horrified by the gruesome fate of steam locomotives engineers under fire by Allied aircrafts. Suddenly rose in my head this idea «it is well done for them, because they had steam locomotives». The absurdity of such a statement startled me, and since then, I am always wary of «obvious» ideas which appear in our mind, even if I needed a long time to understand where they come from and what it means.
Hmmm, and many politicians should learn this too, when they say that all the problems are the fault of a race or social category...
The destruction of the ego is probably the origin of various bizarre or disturbing expressions used in spiritual literature in the beginning of the 20th century: «dissolution of personality», «surrendering» (literally, as when you lose a fight). Indeed the meditation in this state is to abandon the obedience to the injunctions of the neuronal ego, and to prefer the data from the spiritual consciousness. When this process begins, we can actually feel the impression of a loss, of abandoning our personality, or indulging in something unknown and evanescent. It is at this moment that we need to «surrender» and accept the process, by not considering it as a threat or a loss, but as a release, as an arrival in a much larger world, as the discovery of a new «me», angelic and wonderful. Indeed, it is not «us» who surrender and loses the battle, but the neuronal ego! And the winner, the master, is «us» the spiritual consciousness!
But let us go back at our concern: If it is our ego which builds our personality, our «house» as the Buddha says, is it not dangerous to get rid of it?
(Permalink) The question is then: when do we do it.
In ordinary humans, where consciousness has no power, (or rarely, in the moments of superconsciousness), there is simply no choice: our neural ego (in the sense defined above) is the only thing which defines us. Only our brain will define our feelings, our ideas, our tastes, our intentions, our plans. This is mainly the role of the frontal cortex, but also of other parts of the brain which determine our tastes, our sensitivity, our sexual orientation (chapter VI-5), etc. The contingencies of life such as meetings with other people, or with religions, philosophies, etc. will also determine our opinions, our attractions, and even relationships such as friendship, love, or being a disciple.
This is how all our personality is built... And anyway we cannot do otherwise! To renounce to our neural ego at this time would deprive us of many opportunities. From here the interest of always continuing the development of our personality, as long as we do not reach the stage where our consciousness takes control of this construction. All serious spiritual paths encourage this: learning from the experiences in the world, and consider retreats only temporarily, or in the final stages.
We can wonder what would happen if we destroyed the ego too early. Some religions state that we can reincarnate and continue our evolution until we reach the spiritual awakening. However, even if there are indications as what reincarnation exists, there is however no evidence that everyone reincarnates. NDE seem to prove quite the contrary: despite the short duration of the experience, people quickly build a strong attachment to their new condition in the spiritual world, and regret to get back to the physical world! So it seems that NDE, and death in general, by radically inactivating the neural ego, force people to use only their consciousness, and that this process is probably irreversible within a short time.
We then certainly have a much more direct access to the world of consciousness (the «light» of the NDE, which tells us so much), but nothing proves that we can still build an original personality in this world! And I do not want to become myself one of these baby angels with pink bums, all identical and all submissive!
Worse, this consciousness, which, at this stage, perfectly imitates neuronal consciousness, will then bring all its neurosis and false opinions in the spiritual world! And it will not be able to bring WHAT SHE DID NOT LEARNED. When we see the naivety of the followers of the New Age, the fanaticism still so common in ancient religions, or the filthy ignorance which plagues so many atheists, we are appalled at the idea as what these incomplete, immature personalities, get thrown in the spiritual world with no way of creating an harmonious personality! And the consequences are likely to be much worse than on Earth: these spiritual worlds being projections of our own minds, we have therefore a full probability of ending up in very unpleasant, even hellish worlds! And with no way to evolve and get out of them!
We can still assume that these immature personalities will find up there some nice teachers enabling them to complement their personality and purify it from unfortunate tendencies. But precisely, we assume, in a domain from where no journalist ever returned to describe what he saw. Even if we can evolve in the spiritual worlds, it could be much longer and much more difficult than in the physical world. In the physical world, at least, we have this fantastic brain, which allows us to reflect and take a distance from our opinions and emotions, and recognize an hallucination from reality. Even if the brain does not provide an absolute model, it is still by far the most powerful tool known, which allows to approach the truth through a process of trial and error. It allows to work, and to learn. When the worlds of consciousness could be just kind of dreams, where the same scenes would repeat indefinitely, and we would never be able of the necessary perspective to control this experience.
The consciousness investing its new world has a well known model: investment of a virtual world by a physical person. Many people then hide unfavourable traits: old age, disability. Some change more common personality trait: race, size, specie, etc. and invest themselves in characters of pixies, of fabulous creatures. Some change sex, or experience in the virtual an homosexual side that they do not want to try in the physical world. Of course, investing a virtual world does not change our psychology, but we can suppose that if people could, many would also eliminate their unpleasant personality traits. It is even sure, when we see the number of users of the virtual worlds who specify «no drama» in their profile!
A very meaningful comparison for the role of the ego is the mould of a bronze statue. This mould is made of humble materials (clay and horse dung, for cathedral bells!), fragile in non-durable. But at the manufacturing process goes on, it will yet take a considerable value, of accumulated work, ad from the know-how of the artist too: If the mould is destroyed at this moment, nobody else can do it again. On the other hand, once the bronze is cast, then all this value is immediately transferred to the metal, and the mould, so precious a few hours before, becomes a bothering gangue, which will be ruthlessly destroyed and eliminated. Ideally, the statue must come out of the mould perfect, but we understand that working on some details may still be necessary at this stage.
We shall of course understand that the mould is the neural ego, while the statue is the immaterial consciousness: the first is essential to the construction of a structured, advanced consciousness, and above all an original one. But once this is done, the mould must be destroyed, otherwise it stifles the statue! However, to destroy it too soon would be a disaster: the statue would be incomplete, malformed, with bad proportions. To correct it would then require much more work or time than to finish the mould, with much more powerful tools! We then understand that our interest is to live as long as we can, and get the maximum of experience and evolution from this life. Even those who reached the supreme awakening during their lifetime do not suicide, because there always are things to learn, experiences to gain. Simply, at this stage, the acquisitions go directly to the spiritual consciousness.
To summarise, I think that everybody should have two goals in life:
1) To develop his «ordinary» personality (learn, explore, but also heal neurosis and psychosis)
2) To seek spiritual awakening and develop his spiritual personality (his spiritual body).
In ordinary humans, these two goals are definitively not incompatible. The second passes before the first only in the final stages (with things like retreats, etc.) Spiritual paths anyway request to not neglect 1), and even if we choose the monastic life, this does not forbid to study, read, and to develop harmonious relationships with the companions in the monastery.
If we die before completing 2), we still have 1) won, which already provides us more attractive conditions in the after life.
The most heartbreaking case is that of children who die young, sometimes even before birth, without a chance of developing even he basis of 1). This leads us to an important point of ethics: to of course ensure that children do not die, but mostly that they all benefit as soon possible of an opening to all available knowledge. The non-duality between 1) and 2) also leads to another important point of ethics: the followers of a spiritual path must not disregard the world. This is also one of the reasons why no correct spiritual path requests us to commit suicide.
(Permalink) The opposition between the neural ego and the spiritual consciousness, is only a peculiar case of the opposition between the physical body and the mind, or between the physical world and the spiritual worlds. This opposition between mind and matter is known under the name of Manichaeism (note 86), and it created a lot of havoc in History. And in facts, to be neurotically (chapter V-12) attached to either of the two sides of this opposition exposes us to serious risks. Being attached to the mind side exposes us to cults, fundamentalism, puritanism, depression, loneliness, suicide, etc. Being attached to matter side exposes us to materialism, immorality, pornography, alcoholism, etc.
The right attitude is to accept the non-duality (chapter I-3).
And especially to accept the essential shades:
1) Although this opposition often manifests in life (and it needs to be seriously accounted with in the conduct of our lives, under penalty of serious troubles)
2) we must simply ignore it in our spiritual practice (visualizations, prayers, etc.).
It is the non-attachment to the body (and infantile material interests) which protects the consciousness from the enslavement by the neuronal ego. But the rejection of the body cannot, because rejection is as much an attachment, just of opposed sign. (Hence the danger of mortification practices)
The Tantras go even further: to meditate our physical body as non-dual with our spiritual body, and even the physical world as non-dual with the Mandala (our visualized spiritual Paradise). Just that in the Tantras, it is the spirit who leads the boat, the brain being only its tool, its play dough.
It must be remembered that the brain is not only a fantastic tool which allows us to reason, visualize, work, love, etc. but it is also a fantastic auto-generating algorithm, which created all our personality: our tastes, our capabilities, our friendships, etc. Then the image of the mould and the statue does not apply to the time to get rid of the brain, because it never stops to build us and be of use to us. The ideal time to get rid of the brain is clearly: as late as possible. That is, to wait for the natural death, without trying to make it come sooner in any way.
(Permalink) Attachment to appearances is also a heavy trend of our mind: to immediately focus on any sensory input, to the point that it overwhelms all our other experience of consciousness. This grasping, as it is called, is so violent and so fast that we have barely the time to notice its action: a sound, an image, a pain, instantly appears to us as «the reality», and in more a reality in which we are totally and exclusively immersed, with no way to take some distance. We can even not escape the most repugnant or atrocious experiences that the physical world can offer us! The consciousness prefers by far the most scorching pain, rather than the void!!
Strictly speaking, individuals who escaped an excruciating or absurd situation sometimes report that they experienced a sense of unreality. It is a good start, but it is more comfortable to cultivate this feeling in the warm on a meditation cushion, rather than in a fire or in a battlefield.
A good way to realize the operation of the grasping is looking at it, when we look at a film: not only we identify with the character (even if he is a bandit, we want to see him escape the police!) but in more we intensely wish to know «how it ends», even if the movie is boring or horrible. It is this same grasping which makes us so deeply involved in the world, even if this world requires us to work forty years in the same office, or to endure the horrors of war.
Attachment to appearances is so deeply rooted in the consciousness that it becomes a base property of it. So, it can pursue us beyond death (and even in temporary experiments such as the NDE and the CE3). Our new condition then quickly appears to us as «the reality», as the experiencers of NDE tell. It seems to be an inveterate property of consciousness, of always wanting to «watch the film», and changing of world being a mere change of film. However the danger is to build an attachment to a bad film: we then find ourselves in an unpleasant world, or even in a hell. There is little modern scientific data on this topic, apart from a few negative NDE (which should therefore be studied in this context). But the Tibetan Book of the Deads describes this process in detail, and how attachment can happen so quickly to the first world encountered at random. It especially warns against the terrible attraction of a «warm cave» (an uterus), a trap which will force us to be reborn, even if it is in the womb of a pork! A very «dirty» trick certainly, yet of which our own conscience is the sole responsible for.
The Bardo Thödol also details an intermediate state, called the Bardo of becoming, which precisely serves as a switch. It describes how the slightest vision is «reified» to the point of taking an absolute intensity, exquisite or painful. We find this process in the sleep paralysis (the so-called stories of alien abduction which terrorized millions of people) or in psychiatric hallucinations (just hear a psychiatric patient screaming, to understand how deep he is into his hallucination).
The antidote of the attachment to appearances is to consider material appearances as illusory, to cultivate detachment of them, or even a sense of unreality. Buddhism also offers Buddhist emptiness. For Tantric practice, to build the spiritual body imperatively requires to be able to transfer our physical bodily energies, which is done by changing the target of the attachment. This is the way Tantric visualizations are carried on: instead of fantasizing about our physical body, we do it about the visualisation of our spiritual body. Jainism provides an even more extreme view: the least physical experience produce the attachment to the world, of which only radical practices can save us.
However most of us will pass the death without having significantly decreased the attachment to appearances. The Buddhists then say that the most readily accessible paradise offer a similar appearance than the physical world (in better, still), while the highest paradise offer a pure bliss without appearances. However I wonder if investing in an experience with appearances would be a fundamental property of consciousness, that we should master, but not destroy.
(Permalink) One of the most obstinate is the attachment to a purpose, to get a result. In the physical world, it can make us persevere in hopeless actions. In meditation, his action is less visible, but much worse: it systematically opposes any profound result. Indeed, these results happen when the neuronal consciousness is stopped. However it tends, from its very nature, to seize any result or any sensation. It therefore tends to systematically restart whenever something interesting happens, which obviously destroys the very conditions for any result to manifest further, or to reappear again later. And the meditator who desperately seeks parapsychological powers it totally losing his time. This is the reason why the masters request not to focus on results, not to even seek them! I would add a feeling of relief to be released of any purpose, just as we meditate the detachment of appearances.
Another reason would be that attachment would translate as a frustration in the spiritual world: we do not get what we desire. Conversely, fearing something will bring it to us. The correct way to obtain a thing would be to positively assert its existence, but in a totally detached way.
Added a bit later: I was hesitating to describe this problem, thinking it would manifest only at a fairly advanced level. But only a few days after I realize that it is the «spiritual materialism» of Chogyam Trungpa, that he considered to be a major obstacle for the Western students, when the ego tries to manage the spirituality, while the first purpose of spirituality is to eliminate it. Rinpoche even sees three «Lords of materialism»: attachment to appearances and to comfort, attachment to speech and systems of ideas (doctrines, etc.) and self-awareness. The neuronal ego precisely craves for these things, and seeks to manage all our activities.
This traditional experience by a great meditator perfectly cross-checks the theory of the neural ego versus spiritual consciousness. Only clarification: consciousness does not disappear with the ego (if it were to disappear, it would not be an awakening, but a death), but the neuronal consciousness is replaced with the spiritual consciousness, with its specific goals:
(Permalink) Actually we cannot really get rid of it.
Only death can terminate it, when the material process which creates the ego stops working. But then this end is radical, and often very surprising, as is observed in the NDE. This is also the reason why Buddhism, Jainism and Hinduism place the Parinirvana at the time of death.
If it is impossible to eliminate it, we however can control the ego. In the beginning, it is an attention at every instant, because it need only a fraction of a second to rebuild his neuroses, hates, personal motives and other dubious plans. Only a long practice of certain specific meditations allows us to see only illusion and danger in this permanent burst, and to no longer pay attention to it.
In fact a collaboration can even establish itself: the spiritual consciousness does not really have plans or intents (in the beginning), just being happy to give a general orientation, that the submitting neural ego will transform into intentions and activities. But the later will always try to run things by itself. If it can do this, then the spiritual consciousness has to recede, to protect itself. And the neural ego freaks to death, of no longer having this wonderful toy available.
The most relevant symptom of this stage would be: we obtain parapsychological effects, but ONLY ONCE. The more we try, the more difficult it becomes, to the point of completely messing our meditation or motivation. We feel like a dark compelling force systematically counteracting us, and it can even make us depressed or physically ill. Traditional yogis say that demons attack them, and it is as scary as that. This happens when the neuronal ego fakes the meditation. It can do it very well, up to imitating the highest states. But its very presence forbids any result from these states, or only the first time.
Spiritual materialism can also be hazardous by creating false motives in our life, in addition to ruining our spirituality.
But it is important to understand that at this stage, the spiritual consciousness has means to defend itself, and that it will do everything to block the neuronal ego, which can go up to severe illness or death.
At this point, it is time to practice surrendering: we (still as neural ego at this state) abandon ourself to the descending light we see at this moment (our spiritual consciousness, that some may also call «God»), abandon any craving, and even any will or intent, letting the light fully manage things by itself. We even not expect anything to happen! At this point, things may happen spontaneously, but they stop as soon as the neuronal ego is alerted. So it tells us itself what not to do!
So that, we do not jettison the neural ego by pressing a jettison button, but by stopping grasping frantically at the activation button!
I think that it is this gradual process of taming of the ego that Buddhists call the 13 stages of the path of the Boddhisattvas, symbolized by the 13 rings of the stupa (the exact number depends on the tradition). Traditional texts describe the more and more subtle mistakes of the practitioner, while he is going through the process of thwarting the ruses of the ego wanting to keep his power over the spiritual awareness. When the practitioner totally controls his ego, then he is called an Arhat, and he is ready for the Nirvana. Tradition says that he also gets parapsychological powers, what the theory of logical self-generation also predicts.
In the meantime, many years pass, where the spiritual consciousness can learn to use the neural ego, and all the fantastic resources it contains. With caution, because each of these occasions offers the ego a way to again control the spiritual consciousness.
Controlling the neural ego is a long-term process. Indeed, I had signs in my first meditation sessions, but I was unable to reproduce them voluntarily before 30 years, many efforts and many mistakes.
(Permalink) Added on june 14, 2021: The habit in spiritual or religious circles is to consider angels as real characters, superhuman and endowed with strong magical powers, emanations or agents of God (from the Greek «angelos», a «messenger»), that only highly evolved beings can actually meet: prophets, saints, etc.
What if the explanation of «angel visitation» experiences was much simpler, much more everyday, and above all accessible to everybody?
It is indeed very common to feel a presence besides us, during meditation, it happens even to beginners. I asked what is the meaning of this to several lamas, and they replied, either not to pay attention to these, or to consider them as our Yidam.
What if these common visions were the same as what saw the great mystics of the past? Which they would have interpreted as the visit of some figure from their religion? This would explain a lot, and especially remove the terrible separation between «great mystical mystics beings very special and blessed by the gods» and us ordinary people too insignificant to deserve such favours. This also explains why we never see angels appearing before us in our room, whereas in real they would come nearby everyday in our meditation!
Still, it remains to understand what these visions really are: whether they are mere appearances rising into our spiritual consciousness, with nobody behind them, or whether they are indeed visits from spiritual entities existing independently of us. In facts, I could not figure that, and both interpretations have pros and cons, and they curiously lead to similar recommendations. So I consider them non-dual.
A number of facts can be noted, however:
- These visions only occur during meditative states of mind emptiness, immediate danger, or during sexual pleasure (states of consciousness which neutralize the neural ego, chapter V-10, so as to technically allow for the experience).
- Unlike the ordinary imagination, they cannot be provoked.
- They are available for a few minutes to a few hours, during which they can be recalled. But after that, they disappear and do not recur in the same way.
- They don't care about our sexual taboos, and they send the energy where it best enters.
- They do not give any identity or factual information (except to avoid an immediate danger).
- They cannot be controlled, not even can they be fixed in a specific character. If our ego tries, they disappear. Or an overly naive ego can lure itself by replacing them with its own imagination. Which is useless, because imagination only reproduces our own prejudices.
- The way they appear, as well as the absence of psychotic symptoms, excludes psychiatric disorders.
In the end, there are two possible explanations:
- They would be creations, not of our neural ego, but of our spiritual consciousness. This origin still makes of them true messengers («angelos») of the Transcendence (the «part of God» in us, or our «Buddha nature», chapter V-6).
- They would be «spiritual visitors», disembodied persons visiting the living to help them progress. They would try to communicate with us when we are in a receptive non-ego state. Not necessarily «great mystical beings» then, but still real persons, in any case kind enough to help us!
In either case, they deserve the respect due to people, and the advice to consider them as our Yidam (or Shakti/Shakta) is relevant. They do not provide spiritual teaching per se, but their energy purer than ours can inspire or help us greatly.
(Permalink) Demons are most often seen as evil entities. To avoid ambiguity, it is better to use the word «demon» for this single case. Especially in English the word «daemon» (In ancient greece, a spirit of nature, a benign god) is too close to avoid confusion, so that it is better to use another.
The theory of the logical self-generation does not predict the existence of entities which would be principles of evil. Indeed, good and evil are defined only in relation to consciousness, so principles of good or evil cannot exist apart from consciousness.
This is ultimately extremely reassuring: there is no absolute evil, no necessary evil, no unavoidable evil.
However modern neurology shows that the concept of devil or demons is an excellent allegory for the different neurotic or neurological conditioning which entice us to commit actions with painful consequences for other (crimes...) or for us (drugs...). If these demons do not exist outside of our brain, they are not less dangerous than all the demons of the Bible. And, well shaggy and horned, permanently hidden close to us in the obscure recesses of our brain, they are always ready to attack us: a single unmastered thought, or a simple desire is enough to invoke them, as in a satanic ritual. And immediately they arrive, and they start the fires of desire, fear or anger, pushing us toward suffering-generating actions. Fortunately, a simple Zen look is enough to silence them. But beware whoever does not control his emotions, he will be tossed from crime to crime, or, if he is honest, tortured by desires that he cannot fulfil. We are all here, I think. And access to high spirituality necessarily involves confrontations, moments where we have to battle them out, sometimes in an epic way as in a movie, to eradicate these uncontrolled desires.
Added June 14, 2021: We can also see the role of «entropy» in ideas (chapter V-7) and in social movements (chapter VI-10). Although entropy is not a character and it has no consciousness or intents, it plays as a demon always trying to destroy our endeavours and ensnare us in degenerated ways.
Added November 2021: To be noted that, among all existing creatures, sociopaths (Chapter V-13) are by very far the ones most matching the description of a demon: intrinsically evil, incurable, sly, relentless, manipulative, and excellent at faking kindness, love or wisdom.
Strictly speaking, evil spiritual consciousness (disembodied) can exist, which could meet the definition of a demon. The best documented example is Shugden, a former «Protector» of the Gelugpa School of Tibetan Buddhism, who in facts induced a form of fundamentalism against the other schools, with even a recent case of ritual murder. Serious disputes ensued, and continue today. It went far enough for the Dalai Lama, Director of the Gelugpa school, to ban the worship of this entity (which however remains practised by the «new kadampa tradition» cult). Indeed the only effective attitude against this type of entity is to ignore them. Although there is no agreement among scholars, the most often proposed origin for this entity would be a lama from the 17th century, who died in unclear conditions, at a wrong moment in his evolution.
However, as soon as we read a bit about demons, we quickly realize that in facts many ancient deities have been «demonized» in the Old Testament or by the Catholic Church. On the other hand many cults «angelized» ambiguous or evil entities. The best-known example is satan (who was always regarded as a basically evil entity), that the Church has rigged with the appearance of a faun (neutral or benevolent), in order to discredit the cult of nature. Some attempted to «rehabilitate» him, but in the process they also justified the evil attributed to satan. We must be clear: we cannot simultaneously ask for freedom of worship, and promote evil! Wiccans were not mistaken, who represent their faun with the antlers of a deer, instead of the traditional horns of a goat, in order not to endorse satanism, or not to receive such accusations.
Even the names are important: for instance, «satan» is burned, too associated with evil. But this is a demonisation of a neutral antic god, still adored today by the Yazidis. The word «demon» itself is well too visibly Newspeak (chapitre VI-12) to destroy the respectable Greek «daemon» (a kind of spiritual counsellor). Other names, formerly associated with the light side (lucifer, the bearer of light) are also burned.
More generally, we can consider all kinds of entities. Regardless of whether or not they exist, any worship creates a spiritual link with the so-called entity, or with whatever activity or vibration it represents. What is important is to associate with the good, with wisdom and high vibration (chapter V-17). Otherwise, the risk is to awaken the desire for actions which create suffering. Worse, we could find ourselves after our death in situation really as unpleasant as the Catholic hell, even if the later does not exist as such.
Added in October 2021: We must not confuse the «wrathful deities» of the various forms of Tantrism with demons (even though the term «demon» is sometimes used about them, or they are presented as ancient «demons» who have been in a way «converted» by great spiritual masters). These entities (whether they exist or not) have several roles in the practice:
- People with negative tendencies, such as anger, can more easily use these entities as their yidam. However, it is not a matter of strengthening or perpetuating the said tendencies, but of realizing their emptiness (Shunyata), in order to realize the opposite form of wisdom, which these people lack more, or which they can more easily build.
- Not to fall into forms of prudishness, fundamentalism, dualism rejecting this or that aspect of life. We may indeed think that the fear of demons is a good thing. But it is not, because fear actually binds more than desire. For example, the anti-demon paranoia of the Catholic Church contributed a lot to make of it a dangerous fundamentalism: inquisition, prudishness, complicity with dictators, etc. On the contrary, de-dramatizing disturbing images allows us to really cut the link with our negative tendencies, instead of simply pushing them under the carpet (from where they will inevitably resurface some day).
- These entities are sometimes used as protectors. But this is something we should not tinker with, without knowing what we are doing.
(Permalink) When Buddhism speaks of Emptiness, it is basically a metaphysical conception, explaining how the world works, in a manner quite similar to the theory of the logical self-generation that I propose.
However, this Emptiness also plays an important role in Buddhist meditation, and there are similar methods in almost all spiritual paths, generally known as mental void. Of course, it is not about «dissolving the consciousness» or other sadomasochist interpretations, but to stop any thought of neurological origin, in order to access the pure spiritual consciousness.
This state is quite difficult to obtain, because precisely we expect it, we use techniques, and if ever it occurs, we are enthusiast, we evaluate it, we try to use it. The problem is that all these activities are activities of the upper cortex, which does not want to stop and it would even invest the domain of the spiritual consciousness if it could. And by doing so, precisely the upper cortex (the neuronal ego) stops the experience. Hence the brevity and elusiveness of the experience, when it occurs, from this constant «grasping» of the neuronal ego.
To do this, the often recommended method is: first, watch for «the gap between two thoughts», and then apply non-action (chapter I-3) to our own thoughts, so that the state can persist. (this makes that non-action is not only useful in politics, it is also a powerful spiritual method). We should not seek to take advantage of this state, or try to control it. Such attempts on the contrary make it more difficult to obtain.
The process is long and difficult, it requests an assiduous practice for years. However it pays off, because it gives access to our true spiritual consciousness, without depending on rare events (NDE) or dangerous practices (drugs), and without giving up anything essential in our lives. We can do it even in an intense professional life or family life, provided that we keep a personal space for one or two half hours a day, and we keep discreet on this practice, so that nobody can steal our energy (chapter V-17).
If the method does not look glorious, on the other hands its results are noticed. Indeed, getting access to spiritual consciousness may not only radically clear out all of our neurosis, but its action may also have physical effects, as we shall see at the end of this chapter.
(Permalink) If ordinary spirituality is to eliminate our psychological defects and to build a harmonious personality in relation to the objectives of our consciousness, we can define high spirituality as a means of escape from the neural ego, or even escaping the determinism of the material world. The most common way is to build a «spiritual body» in the world of consciousness.
Such a goal requires more powerful methods (but which can also be used in ordinary spirituality, where they are much more effective). These methods are usually called Yoga or Tantras, and they aim at destroying the attachment to the neural ego, or its lieutenant the attachment to appearances.
Three preferred methods appear to be meditating on Emptiness (in Buddhism, meditation on the illusory nature of things, which can take such aspects as the control of dreams), Kundalini yoga (the Tantras of energy) or to visualise oneself as a deity (Yidam) with a wonderful body and all the desirable spiritual qualities.
The Kundalini yoga transfers the pleasure (often sexual, but others are possible) from the physical body to the spiritual body. A novice practitioner can then feel sexual pleasure in any of his chakras (organs visualized in the spiritual body, chapter V-17), while a confirmed practitioner no more needs the physical orgasm to do this (which may bring some surprises, when we do not yet control the process, and that the thing fires spontaneously!).
Of course, these methods are doomed to failure for anybody who does not control his sexual desire, and dangerous for whoever does not control his attachment to opinions: the risk is then to take one's sexual fantasies as laws of the universe to which everyone should comply. This can easily lead to criminal acts.
The purpose is thus to enliven the spiritual body. While doing so, discovering the superior force of the new sensations, the consciousness will spontaneously engage in the world of the spirit, and abandon its atavistic attachment to the activity of the brain. Tradition says that the Kundalini burns both attachment to the ego and attachment to appearances. It can even burn all of our neurosis and trauma, up to our sexual fantasies. What is remarkable is that this process is fully automatic, once we have enough developed the spiritual body.
This is the view of the Eastern Tantrism, but it should be remembered, Christianity has also produced saints with parapsychological powers, without these methods, which demonstrates that there are a variety of them, even if the underlying mechanism is the same.
We often see quoted Saint Teresa of Avila, and her «sexual» communion with God. Her experience looks very similar to the ones of the yogis, and it is relatively easy to reproduce for an Eastern Yogi (the only technical difference would be that she considered «God» as her Yidam, but this does not change the operation of the method). But most of the Christian saints do not mention sexual pleasure, rather attributing their beatitude to a sense of universal love, to the vision of the beauty of paradise, or to an intense devotion (the feeling of trust with life, called «faith in God» by the Christians, or «Bhakti Yoga» in India), etc. Personally I would add to the list the great beauty or higher vibration of the spiritual worlds, in comparison to the trivialities of the physical world. In any way, it is what I try to offer with my stories of Elves.
So, the more general idea which emerges is that it is pleasure and positive feelings which construct the spiritual consciousness and empower the logical self-generation process of the consciousness over the physical processes of the brain. At a pinch it is about the same process which created the neuronal consciousness. This is no surprise, since pleasure is the most fundamental property of consciousness, which is enough to characterize it alone, against any other phenomenon. On the other hand, the physical sex itself plays no particular role for consciousness, and it is used in yoga only as a easy method to produce pleasure. Especially Christians use other sources of pleasure, while Tantric Buddhist monks use only visualizations.
And the process can be very fast, when the neuronal consciousness is inactivated: it is seemingly what happens during the NDE, where ordinary people, suddenly facing the purity and intensity of the sensations of the spiritual world, involve in it in a few minutes, to the point of regretting to return to the physical world (feeling of muddy clothing, or anger against the resuscitator doctor). It seems that a process of spiritual awakening is initiated, admittedly very incomplete, but still allowing the consciousness to send its essential messages to the brain, on the value of love, respect of life, etc. This process therefore changes the fundamental motives of the person, who keeps these new motives even when he comes back to neuronal consciousness.
One more reason for destroying the ego happens just after death, when we «reincarnate» in a spiritual world. This situation requires a data connection between our stream of consciousness (our consciousness logical self-generation process), and the logical self-generation process of the spiritual universe we want to live in. If this connexion does not happen, then we may have very nice experiences, see wonderful people, etc. but it will remain a dream, not an objective reality shared with real other persons.
In the physical world, we perceive the «objective reality» of the physical objects, because our sensory organs create elements of the consciousness experience, colours, images, sounds, sensations, which are relevant representations of this physical world (photons, shapes, vibrations, textures...). In a spiritual world, made of elements of the consciousness experience (images, colours...) we just need than one of these elements enters our consciousness stream to perceive it as «real» and «the objective reality». And experiencers of NDE or CE4 report that this works very well, feeling their experiences as «more real» than the physical world. I can even confirm personally that the visions of the sleep paralysis are very realistic, very vivid, including touch, sensuality, etc. (But curiously I never had smell).
However this arises a logical difficulty: in a chain of causes to effects (logical self-generation process), an element cannot be the consequence of two different logical causes, one in the world, and one in our consciousness.
There are several solutions to this:
-We perceive the elements of the spiritual universe, but without the ability to modify them (their cause is not in our consciousness). It may start as a very pleasant experience, but I bet it will quickly become boring, and even a torture. For this reason, spiritual teachers sometimes warn of the dangers of a static meditation, quoting examples of people who became entrapped in diamond-solid universes of their own creation (Vajra hells). Curiously I found exactly the same story in a comic (le Scrameustache), with the druid Guldash who became jailed in his own unbreakable protection circle.
-The whole universe obeys to our own consciousness. Very pleasant certainly, but for the other people there, it will quickly boil down to the previous case. So we guess that our sweet pets will quickly flee to more interesting places, while leaving only some spiritual tamagotchi appearances for us to play with.
-The most likely case, is that we have some «quantum mixing» of the two influences (important note 91 on the use of the word «quantum»), so that each object will more or less obey our consciousness, the consciousness of other persons, or the «physics» of this universe, just as in the physical world a particle has a quantum probability to obey one of the field it is submitted to, rather than another. And this influence will happen under the form of more or less random «quantum events», where our consciousness «magically» modifies objects in our surrounding. But we do not always succeed in doing so, due to the random element. This lefts room for the action of others. Such universes are interesting, since we share an experience with real other people, while each keeping our own freewill, our own living space and our own private thought space. Also, in such universes, we have «magical powers», which manifest as a limited «field». This «field» may even appear as flames or rays of light, as in video games.
But if so, a «mixing» is a parameter, which is fixed in an arbitrary way. We already found such arbitrary parameters in the physical world, like the magnitude of the different forces, masses of the quarks, etc. Which are set at the occasion of special events (paradox resolution, chapter III-3 or «symmetry breaking», chapter IV-9). These arbitrary parameters are then forced to continue unchanged (chapter III-3 rule 5) and become unbreakable «laws of physics». Similarly, we can guess that spiritual universes have various parameters set when they are created, or at the occasion of major events which happen just after this creation. And indeed, spiritual traditions say that enlightened beings can create such universes, and receive their disciples into them, so that they are in a paradise. The parameter fixing events probably happen when the enlightened person does his parinirvana, while the «quantum mixing» of influences are set later when each disciple joins. However to know how these events happen exactly is today (2014) way too speculative so that we can say anything useful on it. Very probably the «controls» to do this are accessible and understandable only in the after-life.
At a pinch, it could even happen that this «quantum mixing» is not null in our physical world. People enjoying a non-null value would experience «magical powers», which actually happen in two ways:
-A diffuse influence of biased probabilities, without peculiar event, as we observe in meditation, or as in the PEAR experiment.
-Some stronger «quantum» events, but harder to produce, and anyway not by our neural ego. Of course the probability of such events can be dramatically enhanced when there is a «field» of some crucial consciousness stake: birth, death, impeding accident, healing prayer, large interreligious prayers, etc.
This idea of mixing elements of our own consciousness, of other consciousness, with objects in the spiritual realm, is very likely what led to expressions such as the «dissolution of consciousness» (which is not its destruction, but a more interesting scope, not self-bound). This has important practical consequences on the way we have to meditate for preparing our after life: we meditate that we are not an ego to which objects obey (this leads to a certain failure, since our neural ego is a material phenomenon, totally bound to the laws of physics, and condemned to disappear when we die). Instead, we meditate that there is a flow of consciousness encompassing us, objects and other persons, in which we only play a role... certainly a part of the story, but not all, the others also have their part, and we do not control the overall outcome. This directive is found for instance in the Kalachacra Tantra, where the text says to meditate our room as being the Mandala, even if it is actually a slum or a jail. This is often disregarded by the disciples, who see here only some kind of poetical description, but it is one of the crucial parts of the Tantras. Tantra mechanics is just like car mechanics: it needs all its parts to work, even a secondary part missing, like a windshield wiper, makes it unusable.
And of course, the contribution of each participant must be beautiful, and proposed in a non-conflictual way. Some ideas of «expressing oneself» or «having our own truth», which we often find in the New Age and in mainstream society, would lead any spiritual universe in a chaos in some minutes. Just as they do in any group of people in this physical world! Sorry, but the paradise can be only for the ones who are able of keeping it a paradise. Those who are not have to learn.
(Permalink) Today, modern psychology is ready to recognize the benefits of meditation on psychological balance, stress management, a more harmonious social life, etc. Which, by the way, engages politicians, sociologists, judges and social workers to encourage these practices, and put them in gross professional misconduct if they denigrate them.
However these are effects which can be explained by the mere functioning of neurons. To go further requires to study parapsychological phenomena, miracles, odour of sanctity, corpses which do not decay, the Tukdam (of which I saw an instance with my own eyes, in 2019 in the Vajra Yogini Institute) etc. Today, the existence of at least some parapsychological phenomena is scientifically demonstrated (a «detail» that the majority of today scientists seems to have missed, but this is their problem, and I do not see why this should limit our vision of reality). We can then accept the possibility of the phenomena supposed to result of spiritual awakening.
However there are not many available observation data, and the few stories seem to go back to several centuries!
When I speak of «bodies which do not decay», I am talking about bodies which remain intact and give off a pleasant smell, not about mummies! A mummy is horrible and it smells bad. For instance I saw passing some day the story of a Tibetan yogi who allowed himself to die while meditating in the lotus position, and who thus went mummified. Besides the result seems to come out of an horror film, I do not see any spiritual purpose for such a dreadful practice.
The most striking story I ever heard is the one of Sainte Roseline, who died in 1329. Five years later, her body was unearthed intact, emitting a strong perfume of rose, while her eyes had kept their full brilliance, seemingly still alive. Well, religious or local archives are filled with this kind of stories, totally unverifiable. Except that, three centuries later, in 1660, Antoine Vallot, personal physician of Louis XIV, fascinated by the still alive appearance of the eyes of the Saint, punctured the left: vitreous humour escaped! Of course, after this outrage, any miracle ceased, the body became mummified, and large parts are today destroyed and remodelled in wax. But the right eye is still remarkably preserved, except the iris which has blackened or retracted (image here). The body and the eyes are still visible today in the chapel of the Celle-Roubaud, near Les-Arcs-en-Provence, in the Var departement, France.
In Tibet again, there were about fifty of these bodies, and it is interesting to note that one of the first concerns of the fascist red guards was to systematically search and desacralize them, probably because it was a too blatant evidence of their materialistic ignorance.
A prettily specious argument against miracles is that they seem to happen only in the past, but no more today. Implied, it is because they are legends. However, this argument does not apply to rare events: there is little chance to observe them in our lifetime, and so they always appear to us in the past. A glaring example is the fall of meteorites: 64 million years ago the Chixculub impact (250kms) changed the planet's climate and eliminated the dinosaurs. Then, 14 million years ago, the Ries crater is no more than 25 km in diameter. Fifty thousand years ago, the Meteor Crater barely exceed the km, while in 1992 the New York meteorite was just able to damage a car. There even is here a blatant «statistical correlation» as what the diameter of the craters is decreasing with time, to reach zero just today! Of course this effect is just an illusion, an observation bias, due to the fact that very rare events are very unlikely to happen today, while in facts the probability that they occur is completely independent of the time. It will be understood that extraordinary but rare miracles are also in this case: there is little chance that they arrive today. But this absence does not prove that they do not exist.
Indeed, despite these objections, such things continue to actually happen today. Thus, a Tibetan master I have known, Geshe Djampal Gyamtso, died in 2007 in his centre in Pomaia in Italy. He remained seated in lotus position, without decomposing, during a week after clinical death, and he even chose his date of departure! After a reliable witness that I know, even weather hailed the event (which should translate in a physically verifiable way by an unexplained anomaly in the weather archives). Tibetans call this state Toukdam, and they interpret it as an intermediate state between life and death: Although the body stopped any vital function, it remains fresh without decay (and no mummifying!). It is only when the consciousness leaves it that the natural decomposition starts. (or the body self-mummifies). These events, and others, demonstrate that the person took a total control of his consciousness.
However, many people are today engaged in advanced spiritual paths, which should lead them to produce such results. In India only, their number was estimated in the ten thousands. Even assuming that few are successful, then we should observe cases every year.
It is that we have a problem here, which considerably hampers the scientific verification of the existence of these phenomena: people likely to produce them avoid advertising, and even take vows of not speak of their powers. For example, the Bodhisattva vows of Buddhism explicitly request not to mention such powers, and therefore not to use them in public (some specific exceptions are still provided). I had once a Carmelite friend who told me that a similar concern also exists in Catholic monasteries: a person who boasts about his achievements cannot be regarded as holy.
The reasons for such vows have been seen at the end of chapter II-9. They are the danger of such revelations to people who are not ready to assume them (hazards multiplied by thousands in our time where everything we do is disparaged and ridiculed in the media and in the Internet forums). Another reason (probably the main for most practitioners) is simply the difficulty to obtain this state: this requires a tremendous self-confidence, that the slightest remark can ruin in an instant. The huge expectations of individuals facing a potential magician can also be for him a considerable energy drain. Finally, we can imagine the shame of a yogi, capable of producing phenomena in private, but unable to reproduce them in a public test, under stress and mocking... He may need to restart years of practice, if he still can. Few will agree to take such a risk, and only a few great historical masters could engage into compelling public demonstrations.
I would however advise to open your eyes in the presence of today great masters... If they avoid any ostentation of their powers, they nevertheless use them in a discreet way, yet useful. I saw it several times with known masters. In one case, the food at a meal was enough, despite an unexpected doubling of the number of guests... it is not far from the multiplication of loaves!
We can also see simple practices such as the Powa, where even beginner disciples can produce physically observable effects. I could personally see this in several sessions in France. But one must participate, instead of just looking.
Of course, if we had today masters like Guru Rinpoche roaming around, at least we would laugh: he would spread nuclear reactors in the oil fields, to neutralize the two plagues in one stroke, and move land mines in the cafeterias of the unionized workers who manufactured them, instead of letting them mutilate children not interested in this sport.
However these difficulties are not likely to put off scientific research, as long as it rejects any attempt of materialistic reduction, and that it keeps at the special experimental precaution also described in chapter II-9. It is still infinitely simpler than demonstrating the existence of the Higgs boson or sending robots on Mars. And indeed, such experiments could already take place successfully. For example the studies of Benson & Al. and Cromie on the Tumo (the «inner fire» of the yogis, related to Kundalini) showed the reality of the production of heat. It seems that these researchers have not sought to show that the heat had a parapsychological origin, referring rather to an increase of metabolism. But an increase in the metabolism of such a magnitude is impossible to produce for the ordinary consciousness: the brain simply has no biological control to produce it. And most importantly, the body has limited thermal capabilities: without Tumo, the participants would have quickly been in hypothermia, and would have to stop the experiment in emergency, under penalty of dying of cold. Which, in my opinion, tends to demonstrate the parapsychological source of the heat.
(Protocol in PHP note)
We then have a fantastic research field which opens, with beautiful and well complicated experiments, a condition which will bring enthusiasm to all the real scientists, instead of discouraging them. A field of research which will fully use the General Epistemology that I describe in the second part, and the metaphysical bases described in chapter III-2. A field of research for which the third part of this book provides an usable theoretical framework, where consciousness exists as a logical self generation process independent of the material world, and therefore irreducible to it.
Okay, and if there are not enough yogis able of producing phenomena? Or worse, not enough scientists to translate elusive phenomena in knowledge available to the society as a whole? (Even worse, these experiences are censored, by prohibition, or due to «lack of funding»...). There is still a way to test all the assumptions of this book: engage yourself on the path. So you will get a totally objective and reproducible observation. In addition, the experimental conditions required for this experiment are known and taught today in many books or centres accessible to the general public in all the democratic countries. Hurry, democracy is impermanent too...
(Permalink) The scarcity of the high spiritual achievements has often led to the idea that they happen only to exception beings, or even non-human ones, and that it would therefore be impossible for ordinary human beings to achieve these. This error has several reasons.
Useless to mention the disciple with phoney motivation, who is discouraged by «sacrifices» such as abandoning booze, ha ha ha ha!
Not to mention either the carnival masters claiming to do things that you cannot do, in order to appear as superior beings. So, you do not get visits of Venusians, you always fall when you jump, drug makes you sick, etc. Don't worry, this is normal, and you are already more advanced than any of these liars.
More serious but still as fake, many religions consider their models as superior beings, who are impossible to match. For example Catholicism has made of Jesus a superhuman God, with whom it would be arrogant to compare oneself. However, the Gospels speak only of an ordinary human being, who speaks to the humble people, and says them loud and clear that they can do like him. What they actually do in the Acts of the Apostles, by reproducing the miracles. Arianist Christians (Burgundians, Vandals, and Visigoths) had kept this view of a more human Jesus, which was brutally suppressed during the creation of the Franc Empire (Hence the explanation of this huge blanck in the History of France, to hide this shameful episode of Christians slaughtering other Christians). However this error is not an exclusive Catholic production: many Buddhist masters also have an heavy tendency to consider the Buddha as an exception being. This however goes straight against his own teaching, which very basis is that everybody can become a Buddha.
There is therefore no superior beings, but only more advanced ones, that we can still follow. Some even slow down their steps, so that we can join them...
Unfortunately too, sincere practitioners of valid practices often drop their commitments before obtaining results. This demotivation comes from the fact that there are many confusion about what we must really expect from spiritual practices.
For example, some followers of Eastern practices imagine to become able to levitate, which is, to say the least, very difficult (Although levitation is attested by all the religions, the rare testimonies are difficult to check).
Indeed, few seem to realise that the primary purpose of any spiritual commitment is to become more bearable for others. This inevitably require inner techniques such as the daily examination of conscience, and a work about our motivations and our neurosis. And also, very obviously, practices visible to the said others, such as humility, kindness, generosity and forgiveness.
If one enters a spiritual path to display an opinion, or to get «an identity», or to place oneself above the others, so one can make the gestures of the rituals and pronounce the texts ten times a day for fifty years, one is totally sure that nothing will ever happen. It is as if one had a super car, but one does not drive it: one's spiritual achievements is as unlikely to happen as the car driving alone for us. One can dance around it all day, cover it with candles and recite incantations, it will not even start. And it is not surprising if a peasant on a Solex arrives before us.
This state of fact explains very well that, despite the large number of people claiming to practice different religions, groups, orders, methods, etc. very few actually understand the actual purpose and operation of the spiritual tools offered to them, being happy just to store them reverently on their altar, their cutting edge carefully covered with a felt in order not to hurt their ego.
Thus they become famous members in their community, popular for their ability to repeat the founding words or making exciting rituals, but who do not use the tools to transform and improve their personality. As to obtain results such as Holiness, useless to only think at them, in such conditions. Even if it was enough to press a button to become a saint, they would not do it anyway, for fear of having to change too many things in their lives!
However, it is interesting to note that actual results can happen to anyone, regardless of culture, intelligence, education, social rank, wealth. We easily understand that wealth or social rank play no role in a consciousness affair, but we would expect that intelligence or education are considerable helps. But no! Jesus as much as Buddha took ignorants and reproved as their close disciples, and today I can also tell stories of simple people that I have met, who had surprising upward trajectories, often with beginners practices.
The reason is quite simple: we advance in our spirituality only insofar as we practice sincerely, actually. Understand what this means: to change our behaviour towards others requires at first to examine it objectively, without allowing our judgement to be influenced by our ego, our interests or our ideologies. Then, we have to take the appropriate decisions. Finally we must engage in the necessary practice for long enough to make it succeed, without letting ourselves be stopped by considerations stranger to the practice. But this is not enough. Just to murmur a text is not enough: the mental image must be here in our mind, alive and bright, with all its emotional and sensual intensity, with the colours, sensations and pleasure. If we sing in a Tibetan Puja, thinking only to the text, nothing will happen. But to actually do the visualization of the Mandala can, even for a complete beginner, be an aesthetic revelation and a fantastic source of energy.
Thus, a detailed intellectual understanding of the process does not make it work in our minds! This is why the intellectual or the learned have no advantage. On the other hand, a primary understanding, but put at work in the right place, can be perfectly effective. This is what makes the simple equal with the intellectual.
Personally, I'm still far from Holiness (in any case I do not have an aureole to lighten me when I read comics at night), but I can testify that we can make much stronger things than just culling a small racism neurosis, as for example to control our deep sexual fantasies. These are certainly no longer beginner practices, but they are still things that everyone can do in a matter of years.
(Permalink) If we care about our relationships with others, the reason is obvious: they see our actions, not our intentions.
It seems to be a bit like this with the Transcendence. Having no intellect in the sense we understand it, it is useless to tell It our stories. However our acts could interfere with It.
It is true if we engage into abstract practices of deep transformation of our own mind. The masters always request that we maintain an altar every day, or at least objects (worn on us if possible) or at least that we whisper texts. This is all the more true about some other things (of which we must not speak in public) known to work better when we do them with physical objects, rather than only with meditation or visualization.
The reason probably comes from the vision explained in chapter V-6, «the divine paradox», where we perceive the Transcendence only if we connect to it. By physically acting in agreement with the Transcendence, we acknowledge Its existence, and this ensures the spiritual connection with It. This interference of the physical into the spiritual will look heretical to the eyes of the Manichean (note 86), but it could be that this connection occurs only in relation with physical gestures, as soon as they have a meaning for consciousness (This would happen in this way because the paradox also involves the physical world). So we place ourself into the good solution of the paradox, and our spiritual practices works! As expected, the physical reality bends to Transcendence, at least in a furtive way (free will, moments of superconsciousness, premonitory dreams, etc.). If, on the contrary, we do anything, we connect only randomly, or not at all, and nothing special happens.
It is known for long that the ritual object itself plays no role in the ritual (hence the generalized indulgence of all the religions on false relics, perpetual phials and other blessed trinkets: it is not really cheating). However our sensory system provides stronger and more stable consciousness experiences than our visualization, hence the strongly increased efficiency of using concrete objects, as long as we visualize (or believe) that they are or do what the ritual states. Of course the object itself has no power, and only our consciousness gives it a meaning. Then it is our consciousness which connects, depending on the meaning it gives to the object.
Similarly, seemingly insignificant gestures, such as smiling to a baby, save a drowning bee, light a candle, give a symbolic obol, can connect us effectively, if they are offered from our heart, without plan or ulterior motives. On the other hand, to make luxurious rituals or to offer fortunes will be of no effect if this is done for an egotic or worldly purpose.
This situation could explain a lot of things, like seeing quite ordinary people, seemingly without any spiritual competence (mothers, soldiers in Iraq) connected, and have experiences such as NDE, moments of superconsciousness, premonitions... while many spiritualists who have studied complex doctrines do not have any (not to mention bigots, persecutors, dogmatists, fundamentalists, etc. all barred from any parapsychology). In the limit, the connection may be based on simple laws, where the level of spiritual knowledge plays no role.
The criteria would be in the kind of conscientiously accept the beauty of the body and life. Accept the everyday experiences in full awareness. Or to live as ourself in our own bodies, instead of in a social convention. Or to seek the truth, whatever it is.
We also need to take care that to accomplish the bad gestures may also actively oppose to our connection... which can be dangerous, not only morally but also physically. What most people do, however, is to ignore these things, which avoids them the biggest trouble, but without protecting them either.
Also, in these times of «laïcity» persecutions, and hunt to «ostentatious signs», we shall avoid letting our objects visible to the new inquisitors. If you wear one on yourself, keep it hidden. If you have children, you will also be very careful not to let social workers see them: my children got serious trouble in this way. Therefore put your altar in a separate room, because these visits come without warning, even if we are clean and honest!
These things are well known of whoever is a bit seasoned in the domain of spiritual practices. The others have the right to ask for a scientific way to test these assertions. I propose such a test. However it must be done in triple-blind, as explained in chapter II-9, which requires in the very first not to publish anything before.
(Protocol in PHP note)
This chapter used mostly the Buddhist/Hinduist concepts about describing the spiritual path. However the fundamental flaw of a spiritual consciousness in a material brain also appeared to practitioners of other spiritual streams. In the West, we can trace this idea to the Zoroastrianism, but it was also well developed in Christianity, especially Catholicism.
Catholicism often speak of the «original sin». This idea looks absurd: to start with, why eating an apple would be a sin, and especially, why we would be punished for something made thousand years before our birth. Pity that these stories are still around, because Christian mystics developed much more serious ideas on the fundamentally flawed human nature: we want to behave well, but we do not have the strength to do so, always falling back into wrong actions. (Similar concepts appeared even in very different thought streams, like the «bourgeois conditionning» of Marxism) The only way to be saved is to rely on «God» (or Jesus, saints, etc.), and practice spiritual exercises until they send us their «divine grace». Several Christian authors wrote insightful books on spiritual training, and these ideas pervaded Christian high spirituality and led to many great saints throughout the Middle Age, from Spain to Mount Athos. And I still see them well alive today in my best loved songs, «Perfect time» and «show me» from Moya Brennan, and her wonderful swishing voice of Christian Elve (well, at least we heard her a lot in the Elven Lands in Second Life, making these songs some of my dearest memories of this time).
I think this idea of needing to receive the «divine grace» (something exterior to the material brain, that it is totally unable to provide itself) is more accurate than the Buddhist idea (where we receive the «benediction» of the guru, allowing us to complete the path), and it better matches the vision which arises from the logical self-generation theory: our spiritual consciousness, naturally linked to the Transcendence (chapter V-7) takes power over the physical brain. This power taking does not necessarily need to produce strong effects (miracles, levitation, etc.) to be effective into the essential point: our consciousness stops considering the random amoral impulses of the brain as being «our will» or «our desire». (What Buddhism calls «abandoning the grasping to our self»). At this point, we are saved, and whatever happens (compromises, errors, human failures, death) we have much better chances of reaching a paradise spiritual universe, and even with some luck to reach Buddhahood-Sanctity within this life.
This idea also appeared to many modern movements, like the 19th century socialist ideal: we need to remove our «bourgeois conditioning» in order to «liberate» us. However these movements being materialistic, they were fundamentally unable to bring the real solution: by lack of spiritual influence of the consciousness, we just change of neural conditioning. (And to say frankly, many communists even made a very wrong use of this idea, as a stalking instrument). And «changing conditioning» is not just an image, but a dangerous reality, when we see for instance «sex bigots», shocked by the view of chastity or spirituality, who turned the merry sexual liberation of the 1960 years into the fascist illusory revolution (chapter I-5) we see today.
We find the same fundamental flaw in psychology, and even in some extend into neurology and psychiatry: they may be helpful on occasions, but none of these can provoke the descend of the spiritual consciousness. Due to their skimpy theoretical frame, they can even not envision what it is, or how it happens. Not even to mention the fancy beliefs of psychoanalysis.
Among the Hippies, the ones who choose to rely on drugs were no more lucky: the experiences under drugs look very much like «spiritual experiences»... when we are grossly ignorant of what spiritual experiences really are. Drugs may provide marvellous images and wonderful emotions, but in the meanwhile they harden the neural circuits against the influence of the true spiritual consciousness, making us even more enslaved to the brain... and to the dealers.
Some spiritual movements consider that we obtain the spiritual awakening only with our psychological training (called accumulation of merit). Others, however, consider that we cannot get anything without receiving an external element (called divine grace).
In fact, both views are non-dual, since Transcendence is also non-dual with our own consciousness. So, we can in theory say that anyone can reach any spiritual level without any outside help, since any individual consciousness already contains everything it needs to do so. But we can also say the opposite: one can achieve a high level only with the help of «God». Indeed, whatever «God» is, at a moment our consciousness must realize its own Transcendent nature, instead of following the non-spiritual impulses of the neurons. And the non-duality between the two views makes that, in theory, we can as well practice a training without praying anybody, or on the contrary only desire the divine grace. The best proof is that the two spiritual movements which are the most opposed from this point of view, Buddhism and Catholicism, both produced saints manifesting miracles at the time of their death.
However, in practice, for this to actually work, we must carefully remain in the non-duality, and especially avoid the two extreme views above: practicing psychological training without transcendent purpose (pure psychology), or hoping an arbitrary divine grace without making any effort to improve our neuroses and behaviour. These two attitudes are as much ineffective and dangerous the one than the other.
What happens in actual spiritual practice and evolution is that the «divine grace» happens when our consciousness is accustomed enough to recognize it. So the only way is the non-duality between training and grace.
The advice of teachers or advanced practitioners or companions are also extremely helpful. They can avoid difficult to detect errors, which can waste tens of years or even lead to fanaticism or suicide. Even when they do not guide us, they feed our motivation, compared to the current abnormal world where positive people are constantly discouraged or frustrated.
As for divine interventions themselves, I have no personal experience of these things. In any case, no large theatrical visions as in the Bible. But people who practice regularly report many dreams, or impressions in meditation. Few are inflections of destiny, but their accumulation ends up equalling an effective guidance.
The religions of the Book attribute these visions of angels, who are creatures created by God, who can never do evil. The Eastern religions attribute these visions to Devas (blessed ones, in Catholic terms), ordinary human elders who obtained an angelic level of goodness and wisdom. In practice, it is difficult to know which one is true. In practice, there is no real point at knowing which of these two views is true, so that we shall avoid theoretical disputes about the sex of the angels... as they prefer the practice hi hi hi!
Of course, such kind of things never happen to people without any spiritual practice. So, the Popperians, if you want to test the existence of such visions, here is the experimental protocol: take a sincere spiritual motivations, and work it out enough for this motivation to become a crucial part of your personality. Remember that one of the basic principles of General Epistemology is that you must be in the same time the observer and the test tube! (Chapitre II-4) To scamper off then immediatelly removes your scientific statute.
(Added January 2021) THe Calvinist predetermination goes to the extreme of posing that only the divine grace counts: whatever our efforts and our will for the good, God determined in advance our salvation or damnation. This view is not acceptable: beyond attributing an extreme cruelty to God, it is an interpretation of the religious texts with other concepts than the ones used by their authors (Chapitre I-9), or an error of type of logic: to interpret in an Aristotelian way texts which are not (Chapitre I-7). At last it is a negation of free will (Chapitre V-3) in contradiction with all the other Christian concepts, and also in contradiction with modern humanist and legal concepts.
(Permalink) From the point of view of our theory of consciousness, «Copenhagen» interpretation (see previous sub-chapter), consciousness is defined by its sole content. This is paramount for the scientific understanding and observation of consciousness: we cannot find something which would be «the consciousness», or «the soul», only elements of the consciousness experience. Yet most scientists do this mistake, and draw erroneous conclusions as what consciousness cannot be observed.
But it also is a good explanation of some ill-understood spiritual requirements, in meditations for beginners in Hatha Yoga, Shine, Zen, etc, where we must remove «the observer» (often identified as the ego, the self, the «mental», etc.). Indeed, we are so ingrained with the idea that we are a «being» who is «observing» something, that we start to visualise ourself sitting, observing the object of meditation in front of us, from a vantage point generally situated at the level of the eyes. Worse, since the visualisation is fleeting, we engage in a fight to maintain it, we get frustrated, etc. Where these artefacts are coming from? From the ego (chapter V-10), that is the brain, from hundreds of millions years of evolution which accustomed us to engage in strategies for our body to locate and grab food.
So really, if we meditate, a flower for instance, there is no need of anything else in our consciousness: no observer, no vantage point, no act of observing, no «self» which would be aware of, no frustration, no fight. The mere image of the visualized object is enough. Hence the need to remove these parasitic elements of our meditation. Failing to do so, our visualisation can be very nice, we can reach high levels of visualisation skill, or to perform beautiful rituals, but it leads nowhere. On the contrary, success in removing the observer's actions allows to enter in real meditation: a consciousness activity, not a brain activity.
The proof? Some beginners have it as soon as the first sessions, under the form of very bright flashes of light. I think that this happens when the consciousness successfully takes off from the brain (abandon its compulsive expectation for brain inputs), and therefore creates its own content. Indeed, since consciousness is defined by its content, it must have one at any moment. So when it is totally devoid of any image, this very void appears to us as the Light, be it the fleeting light of meditation, the lights and colours some see in orgasm, the Clear Light of high meditation, the Nour of Islam, or the «light being» in NDE.
However, what happens when this Light appears in a beginner's consciousness, is that the ego immediately grasps at the experience, nailing again the consciousness to its own content, expectation, analysis, etc. This radically stops the Light. And we need many years of meditation to understand this trap, and become able to release ourselves from this compulsive grasping. This is another misunderstood aspect of meditation: the let-go, the non-action.
When we are successful, the lights reappear, not so spectacular, and little by little, but this time reproducible. Still the ego has a last trick: he does the lights itself. Good ego, pat pat pat the ego muzzle. But it is not what was requested, so that we must train more, just thinking that what we see is a consciousness experience happening without any self or ego will. Until the light appears naturally, without any action on our behalf, even not the act of imagining it.
When we are in this state, it is our consciousness which operates, not the ego. We can start doing interesting things.
I think, this is one of the reasons for having a Yidam (or personal angel, Force, God, nature spirit, etc.): we think that he does the visualisation job for us. This way, our ego is not in the loop, so that it cannot grasp at things (at least much less). Technically, this Yidam does not need to be «real» to be efficient. He can be a mere object of meditation. Although of course most religions say he is a real person, existing in the world of the spirit. The discussion here is complex, but, thanks to non-Aristotelian logic (Chapter I-3), it can be summarized in one sentence: our object of meditation (damzig pa or samaya sattva) is non-dual with the real entity we invoke (yeshe pa, or jnana sattva). This way we have the advantages of both.
Another debate is that people who naively believe that their Yidam actually exists, can be very successful in their practice. But if we «scientifically» believe that it does not exist, then the practice fails. What our theory on consciousness predicts here is that the yeshe pa is, at least, an emanation from our own consciousness, like the light of the NDE is. Which already is hugely better than anything our blind hallucinated brain can produce. But further, that our spiritual consciousness influences our brain, already is a parapsychological phenomenon (known as free will). So at that point, we have clearly demonstrated the existence of such phenomena, even if only for us. Therefore we can accept all the others, including God, Saints living in the beyond, etc. And that they all are ready to actually intervene in our meditation in order to help us. Just that they don't really look like dreary priests, you may have some surprises and emotions, lol
History shows that it is quite easy to convert people to a new religion (romanisation, Christianisation, Islamisation, atheisation) however it is impossible to force people to have a spiritual practice: forced confessions, whether of the inquisition or the maoists, never did otherwise than reflecting the fantasies of the persecutors, without ever providing the least information on what the victims were actually thinking.
If even torture and death cannot push people in the path of the spirit, what brings them here, then?
People engage in a path if they think it can bring them something: happiness, meaning of life, better relationship with others, life beyond death. And only to the extent where they believe that such a practice can really bring them any of these things.
We understand why they need to have confidence, to engage in practices which will require to spend time every day, for years, for a result of which they only heard about, without actually seeing it.
But if the results are visible, given the fundamental importance of the consciousness matters, this trust can then become strong, and result in a powerful investment. So we understand the enormous influence on the modern world of people like Gandhi, Mandela, Luther King, the Dalai Lama: by their behaviour or by their action, they brought the tangible proof that we can live otherwise than in the monkey tribe.
However this is not enough: the disciples who want to follow their steps must also trust a multitude of spiritual masters, meditators, yogis, read their books, and assiduously practice their methods. This confidence is called the Samaya.
Breaking this trust can then break the energy of the meditator, and even make him abandon his practice, as when one cuts a bud.
This is what happens with cults, corrupt masters, etc.
But it is especially what are doing materialistic ideologies, pseudo-psychology or pseudo-neurology and their so-called «scientific studies», not to forget stalking in daily life (In France, we have to bear the niqab hunt, the repression of «ostentatious signs», the de facto discriminations at school meals against the Jews, Muslims, non-violents, etc.). And these actions are not only the feat of right-left politicians in black sadomasochist suit, they are also the feat, in a very informative collusion, of «cool» people (note 87), of «up to date» «youngsters», with their cynical novels and comics, their violent video games, rap, drugs, Sadeian sexuality (note 83), etc. Hence the serious danger of these fashions and ideologies, and the repeated denunciation I make of them.
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