Brains and Life

For the purpose of this chapter I will create, here and now, a mental picture: "An Australopithecus afarensis in the Ethiopian landscapes chasing dodos (Raphus cucullatus of the Mauritius Island, a clumsy, stupid and flightless pigeon exterminated in its own habitat within historical times) of the Mauritius Island unaware of an archosaurian reptile in ambush." Then I transfer this image to a dream and afterwards report it to a psychoanalyst, and he will unequivocally explain to me that these are archetypes and that the Australopithecus afarensis represents a monkey-ish person chasing an imbecile unaware that some great obstacle is in the way. Reasonable, it makes sense - but only to the psychoanalyst who, rightfully, gets his due payment! Possibly reasonable also to a Darwinian as he can trace a common line of descent between the dreamer and the Australopithecus afarensis, irrespective of time and geographical coordinates discrepancies. However, from my point of view I notice that there are no limits to human imagery; what the psychoanalyst classified as archetypes are simply subjective visions created from personal acquired knowledge. On the other hand, a Darwinian friend patiently recounted me a short story started only 3.7 billion years ago with some fossilized microorganisms found on an Australian rock and all the way down to my grandson, but at least in this case, he is a former inmate of a mental asylum released for good conduct and just happening to be on my way; however, I learnt, with Darwinian certainty, that my descent is from the Cro-magnon. So I will have to discount both the psychoanalyst's and the darwinian's views unless, a real dodo, I can believe that the contents of the psyche reconciles hereditary knowledge simultaneously acquired in places thousands of miles apart and simultaneously in different geological eras. Hence I take this little story just as a fanciful creation of my own wondrously acquired knowledge. Furthermore, my experience tells me that symbolically the Australopithecus afarensis represents Mr. so-and-so chasing his wife unaware that her lover is waiting beyond the corner with a loaded rifle. Notwithstanding, not yet satisfied, I reported the vision to a Great Master of the occult sciences, a king among esoteric savants, a prince among alchemists proudly wearing the philosopher's stone in his golden ring. He was amazed and related to me that a marvelous deep meaning was to found in this story but he could not reveal it to non initiates in the doctrine. Desperate, as a last resort, I went to see a great hoary Biblical Scholar, a living Methuselah bent by age and wisdom, but, since his world was only about six thousands years old he could only deal with dodos. I don't know what you can make out of this silly story but it has a moral: the sapiens sapiens humans intellectually do not have a common denominator. On the contrary, the dodos had it: they were stupid, clumsy, and - above all - could not fly and so they were wiped off the face of the earth.

There is, yes, a paramount mystery in this story and I realize it only in this very moment. The Great Master of the occult sciences, a king among esoteric savants, a prince among alchemists proudly wearing the philosopher's stone in his golden ring unwittingly may be right and only the initiate of the greatest rank can fathom and understand it. The story is there ready-made in the mind, I am fully unaware of it but at a certain moment my brain acts on the nervous system and commits me hammering the keyboard, and I read my mind's contents. Only after I typed it! WHO wrote it? 'I' didn't! In its own world within my own world, the story was thriving; in its own time, before my own time. What is written down, beforehand, in its own time before our own time? The foregoing paragraph is the only tangible truth in this work: you may read it again.

Here, again, quoting note [3] in the first chapter concerning the Collective Unconscious: “… just as the human body shows a common anatomy over and above all racial differences, so, too, the psyche possesses a common substratum transcending all differences in culture and consciousness. I have called this substratum the collective unconscious. This unconscious psyche, common to all mankind, does not consist merely of contents capable of becoming conscious, but of latent dispositions towards certain identical reactions. Thus the fact of the collective unconscious is simply the psychic expression of the identity of brain-structure irrespective of all racial differences. This explains the analogy, sometimes even identity, between various myths-motifs, and symbols, and the possibility of human beings making themselves mutually understood. The various lines of psychical development start from one common stock whose roots reach back into all the strata of the past.” [1] and: "From the most archaic times we have evidence of symbols of a very definite pattern which act on the human mind, those symbols making up that which Dr. C. J. Jung labeled as the collective unconscious, the outcome of countless generations of man and his forebears, in which life still moves” [2] and which are a common heritage as well as part and parcel of our psychic life. "The world of the archetypes of Jung is like a Platonic world of ideas, in that the archetypes are impersonal and do not participate in the historical Time of the individual life, but in the Time of the species - even of organic Life itself." [3]

In my writings I narrate some personal psychic experiences and dreams and I commented them on the basis of the collective unconscious but can there be no alternative explanation other than '... the psyche possesses a common substratum transcending all differences in culture and consciousness... This unconscious psyche, common to all mankind, does not consist merely of contents capable of becoming conscious, but of latent dispositions towards certain identical reactions.' C. G. Jung speaks of 'a very definite pattern which act on the human mind'' and 'contents' while P. W. Martin explains it as 'the outcome of countless generations of man and his forebears, in which life still moves', and, Mircea Eliade interprets it as 'Time of the species'.

Now, these archetypes are perceived in dreams or, else, diverse altered states of consciousness, and mental pathologies as well. These archetypes apparently belong both to the past history and mythology of the species but not only, potentially even to its future, more aptly to Eliade's "Time of the species"; they manifest in time and this appears the most reasonable explanation, but what time? They, the archetypes, live their time in our own time: what is our time in dreams, or in altered state of consciousness, or in mental pathologies?

I am not at all sure whether or not we have an imprint (genetic?) of the history of the species to which our 'memory' attains while in altered states of consciousness, nor am I sure whether or not our hypothalamus - the core of our brain's hard disk - stores all these memories and, apparently, [4] randomly retrieves them for us in our dream state or dissimilar psychic circumstances. I am more tempted to postulate that our mind has a mysterious mechanism that likes to peep, sub rosa, in a cosmic reservoir which is not just the life, or time, of the species but the record of an history which goes well beyond the earth's or the species's history itself. As the foregoing lines were written, concerning the 'our mind has a mysterious mechanism that likes to peep, sub rosa, in a cosmic reservoir' it came to my mind that this concept in itself is not far removed from the Mahayana and Tibetan Buddhists's doctrine of the älaya vijinäna, or "receptacle of consciousness... Every action, either physical or mental, every movement occurring either on the plane of gross matter or on the plane of the mind, causes an emission of energy, it produces a 'seed' (in Tibetan sabon, in Sanskrit: bïja.)" [5]

I am not at all sure how intelligibly I expressed myself so I will rewrite it as: our psyche is a mechanism which has the faculty to transcend time, not just the 'Time of the species', hence to express itself within the most remote past (as we may or do interpret it) in the cosmic history as a whole - and possibly and tentatively [6] in the future. Altogether I call it 'a time when there was no time'. Free from the bounds of normal sense perception it will peep into its own time - whether or not at random, we do not know it - but most probably with some direct and exact connection to our psychophysiology (more below) and display its designs to our cognizance with a definite and exact purpose, a clear, interpretable message which however we usually are unable to properly understand or decode. Express itself: barely the suitable words to convey the idea, as follows: this psyche - in those moments when we are removed from normal sense perception (sleep, mystic rapture, contemplation, perhaps even coma so long as the brain itself is not severely damaged, etc.) is not a movement in time - hence a transcending instant to the perceiver's consciousness; yet the perceived envision brought to the consciousness is not strictly our perception - a circumscribed self-related happening - but a sensing within a dimension beyond the imposed physical boundaries of our being which we can make ours. And this appropriation of the imposed physical boundaries of our being, the identification with the purely material side, conceptualizing our 'me', becomes the stumbling block, the dust in the eyes, the covering veil preventing our perceptual experience to relate the experience as such to the proper condition or context which is suggested by the subjective experience.

As well, psychophysiology is very important in the context because we do not have just dreams, and also altered states of consciousness, but as well we have schizophrenics, epileptics and a whole plethora of mental deformations whether physiologically or psychologically based, or both. Why, also in insanity, do we have these strange perceptions of certain events or mythological characters? Why those past or alas! unnumbered contemporaneous omniscient savants - in their delusion - knowing everything? And all these in what to them - or even in certain diverse social milieus - is their normal state of consciousness? An insensate tellurian like me might be appalling at your geographical coordinates while at my geographical coordinates I could deserve either immense praise, or pillory, or lapidation, depending on the listener. This too is relativity! But not solely that, it is the 'substantiality' of the human brain.

I should not have mentioned relativity in this context, it now puts me at pains as to how to relate the receptacle of consciousness, the älaya vijinäna, and our mental energy. Does our mental energy obey to E=mc²? I cannot deal with Einstein's astonishing connection between the law of biquadratic reciprocity and certain parts of the elliptic functions, in which Gauss had traveled far but had refrained disclosing what he found; nor my mind will, alas, ever cross the path of Srinivasa Rmanujan Aiyangar, another marvelous mathematical genius comparable to Euler and Jacobi who, as he used to say, the goddess Namakkal inspired him with formulae in dreams - the very same no-place where Einstein retrieved his E=mc², and Kekulé his benzene ring structure. However Einstein's E=mc² for me is much easier to deal with if I avoid diving into the mathematics of the exact formulation of the general principle of relativity. "All Gaussian co-ordinate systems are essentially equivalent for the formulation of the general laws of nature." [7] General laws of nature... and the speed of light... and the speed of the psychic world, where the speed of light is obliterated, where also quanta [8] and quarks [9] are forced into the paradigm and somehow, by some researchers, are connected to psychic phenomena. One thing about which I have little doubts is that psychic phenomena, being not subject to gravitational law and the known physical universal constants, do exceed the speed of light as related to our perception of speed as motion in time and, not to fall in fancies, I will let you draw your conclusions if you like to pursue the subject.

The brain as a psycho-physiological reality, to the greatest extent is shaped by extraneous forging until, due to contingencies or other reasons, it decides to thrust itself in the exploration of diverse kingdoms of knowledge and consequentially adapts itself to other standards. There is little doubt about this, as well as that there is little doubt that upset mechanisms in the Two Lands in the Shrine upset the Lady within: call her psyche or mind, if any clearcut borderline separates them; this too is questionable until we get the notion of Mind (capitalized 'M') and try to look at something still more mysterious and baffling: the substratum of life, not just our individual life, but that of cosmic life and that which sustains it, the pedestal and foundation of life itself where E=mc² is transcended.

Please, do forgive since I do not really know - not at least consciously - who is blotting down these (blurred) lines; I just feel as an instrument of that which I do not know, here and now realizing that nothing is more difficult than to express in simple words my ignorance even if the culprit might be a little acquired knowledge and my diversion from inherited religion and traditions due to innate curiosity about the mysterious. Possibly I am not alone as likewise it may happen to insane, normal and genial people: some get interned in insane asylums, some stroll blindly and inertially along their lifelong path, some are highly reckoned beacons to the former. In-between others, for example, the present writer, do not really know where they stand or they even doubt if they stand anywhere at all. Indeed all this gives sense to life. "The unreal never is: the Real never is not". [8]



[1] C. G. Jung, in the commentary to “The Secret of the Golden Flower” by Richard Wilhelm - p. 87 – Routlege & Kegan Paul – 1969 – London. The commentary is reprinted also in C. G. Jung's "Psychology and the East" - Bollingen Series - Princeton University Press - Princeton - New Jersey - 1978.
[2] P. W. Martin. Experiment in Depth - A Study of the Work of Jung, Eliot and Toynbee. p. 54. London. Routlege and Kegan Paul. 1967.
[3] Mircea Eliade. Myths, Dreams and Mysteries. p. 181. London. Collins, the Fontana Library of Theology and Philosophy. 1974.
[4] The use of the word 'apparently' might be incorrect in this context, since it seems that there might be a direct sequential connection among dreams.
[5] Alexandra David-Neel and Lama Yongden - The Secret Oral Teachings in Tibetan Buddhist Sects - City Light Books - San Francisco, California. - 1969.
[6] Tentatively because whether our psyche's rationalism - expressed as intelligence - tries to explain John's Apocalypse or the Prophecies of Nostradamus or the Persian Book of the Apocalypse (Ayätktär I Žamäspïk) and a myriad of other prophecies we have proof of only short-term clairvoyance while we have uselessly been awaiting the catastrophe of catastrophes for millennia.
[7] Albert Einstein - Relativity - The Special and General Theory - Bonanza Books - New York - 1961].
[8] The smallest discrete quantity of some physical property that a system can possess.
[9] Hypothetical truly fundamental particle in mesons and baryons; there are supposed to be six flavours of quarks (and their antiquarks), which come in pairs; each has an electric charge of +2/3 or -1/3. Michelangelo L. Mangano, the respected particle physicist who helped discover the top quark in 1995 now assures us that his new machine, the Large Hadron Collider, a massive assemblage of iron, steel and superconducting wire 300 feet underground in a 17-mile-long circular tunnel on the Franco-Swiss border won't destroy the world by creating black holes. The most complex piece of scientific equipment ever built, which will begin operating as early as summer 2008, the collider will send particles crashing into each other at just 99.9999991% of the speed of light, generating energies more powerful than the sun.
[10] The Bhagavad Gita, 2:6 - Translated by Juan Mascarò - Penguin Books Ltd., Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England - 1962.

Lady of the Two Lands in the Shrine is Thy Name
The Mooring Pin
Life and brains
Brains and Life
No-Brain and No-Mind
Deus Ex Machina