Why Everything Appears Infinite when the Doors of Perception Are Cleansed: Biologically Constituted Realities, Part 4 — “Mind at Large” and The Awakening

 

Why Everything Appears Infinite when the Doors of Perception Are Cleansed: Biologically Constituted Realities, Part 4 — “Mind at Large” and The Awakening

Summary: Our combined efforts in psychology, physics, biology, and anthropology have led us to an impasse. We have been led to conclude that our view of reality is symbolic. We have learned, above all, not what to know, but that we know not . . . i.e., that we are incapable of truly knowing.

So, if we can’t know, why then bother to know anything? We seek to know because it is useful to our biological survival to know. That which we “know,” in our most refined science and in our daily lives, is that which is, or has been, in some way useful to the biological existence of our species.

Each one of us is potentially Mind at Large. each person is at each moment capable of remembering all that has ever happened to him and of perceiving everything that is happening everywhere in the universe. But in so far as we are animals, our business is at all costs to survive. To make biological survival possible, Mind at Large has to be funneled through the reducing valve of the brain and nervous system. What comes out at the other end is a measly trickle of the kind of consciousness which will help us to stay alive on the surface of this particular planet

When this is reversed by various methods, and the brain is itself inhibited from its task of reducing awareness so that “Mind at Large seeps past the no longer watertight valve, all kinds of biologically useless things start to happen.”

“If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is … infinite.” – William Blake

 

Why We Seek to Know

Ordinary Reality is Useful

In view of all this, one might ask, if one cannot have any truly accurate conception or even “sense” of what is really real, why then bother to know anything? Well, we bother to know because it is a helpful part of our species-specific worldview to do so. We have evolved, as nearly as we can determine, through a process of natural selection based on survival. We are, consequently, the endproduct of a biological drive to exist, to live—in all that may biologically, or otherwise, connote. Hence, that which we “know,” in our most refined science and in our daily lives, is that which is, or has been, in some way useful to the biological existence of our species.

Ordinary Science is Useful

This so-called “real-world” information is important because, then, it relates to our very biological aliveness. It has worth and it has value in that. That which comprises our species-world (as opposed to the “World-In-Itself”), indeed, is extremely relevant to everything that we think of as living and existing . . . for our species. The point I make, however, is that our senses and our sciences (which are extensions of our senses) are not ultimately in any one-to-one relationship to That Which Is . . . that our refined as well as cruder perceptions of reality are bioculturally relative—even more biologically relative than they are culturally relative in Marshall Sahlins‘s allegedly extreme theory.

Though We Know Not

Neither Ordinary Reality or Science Is Necessarily Real

Let me put it this way. Our combined efforts in psychology, physics, biology, and anthropology (examples of which I have indicated in this article) have led us to an impasse. We have been led to conclude that our view of reality is symbolic. We have learned, above all, not what to know, but that we know not . . . i.e., that we are incapable of truly knowing.

In anthropology we see this in Sahlins’s (1976) thinking on culture. But D’Andrade makes the important point, as mentioned earlier, that in Sahlins’s theory the total cultural heritage is a symbolic structure. Thus, his theory is “epistemologically sealed.” My point is that since our total biological heritage is also a “symbolic structure”—in the sense at least that it is a species-relative created reality providing analogous representations, survival-oriented metaphors only of That Which Is—we are “epistemologically sealed” as regards That Which Is and specifically in terms of understanding other known or unknown species. Our reality is symbolic and “sealed” prior to the cultural symbolism that creates further obfuscation between people in different cultures.

Paradigm Relativity

We see that there are therefore levels of applicability of “knowledge.” We might think of these as paradigms. But as surely as there are cultural paradigms, there are biological paradigms. I am saying that every biological configuration of spirit represents a separate paradigm for interpreting reality. [Footnote 3]

The Awakening … A New Paradigm Perspective

It might be helpful to mention Huxley’s (1956) way of viewing this matter. In his classic work, The Doors of Perception, he quotes Dr. C. D. Broad on the importance of considering a view of memory and sense perception, originally proposed by Bergson, in which “the function of the brain and nervous system and sense organs is in the main eliminative” (p. 22).

What Is Outside All Paradigms … Really Real

By way of explanation, Huxley (1956), still quoting Broad, writes

Each person is at each moment capable of remembering all that has ever happened to him and of perceiving everything that is happening everywhere in the universe. The function of the brain and nervous system is to protect us from being overwhelmed and confused by this mass of largely useless and irrelevant knowledge, by shutting out most of what we should otherwise perceive or remember at any moment, and leaving only that very small and special selection which is likely to be practically useful. (pp. 22-23)

Mind at Large Is “Really Real”

Huxley (1956) adds

According to such a theory, each one of us is potentially Mind at Large. But in so far as we are animals, our business is at all costs to survive. To make biological survival possible, Mind at Large has to be funneled through the reducing valve of the brain and nervous system. What comes out at the other end is a measly trickle of the kind of consciousness which will help us to stay alive on the surface of this particular planet. (p. 23)

When the Doors of Perception Are Cleansed, The Nonordinary Happens

Furthermore, Huxley (1956) points out, when this is reversed by various methods, and the brain is itself inhibited from its task of reducing awareness so that “Mind at Large seeps past the no longer watertight valve, all kinds of biologically useless things start to happen” (p. 26).

Continue with How We Might Come to Know: In Tossing Away Our Species Blinders, We Relearn That Consciousness Is Infinite, Yes … but Fantastic as Well.

Return to  We Are What We’ve Experienced and The Perinatal Paradigm: Our Conception, Gestation, and Birth Create Our Windows to the World

Footnote

3. This perspective has much in common with Wilber’s (1977) “spectrum of consciousness” view of reality. Though, for reasons which will become clear as we proceed, I must stress that this position does not synchronize with Wilber’s later formulations (e.g., 1980, 1981), where he has conformed his view to the more traditional and presumptuous Western biases; biases that are distinctly at odds with an essential point I have emphasized in this article of making diligent our attempts at wiping away any ethnocentric as well as anthropocentric residue from our lenses if we are to have any chance at all for even minimal success in our venturing into Reality. (Cf. Winkelman 1990; Adzema 1991)

 

Continue with How We Might Come to Know: In Tossing Away Our Species Blinders, We Relearn That Consciousness Is Infinite, Yes … but Fantastic as Well.

Return to  We Are What We’ve Experienced and The Perinatal Paradigm: Our Conception, Gestation, and Birth Create Our Windows to the World

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About sillymickel

Activist, psychotherapist, pre- and perinatal psychologist, author, and environmentalist. I seek to inspire others to our deeper, more natural consciousness, to a primal, more delightful spirituality, and to taking up the cause of saving life on this planet, as motivated by love.
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