Introduction - Joseph Chilton Pearce
Joseph Chilton Pearce is original, unique. No one has done what Joe has done; passionately and incisively exploring a view of near limitless human potential and the self-imposed limitations that inhibit and block that unfolding, describing both and how they relate.
Joe had a number of para-normal experiences that are impossible given our accepted notions about reality, fire not burning, spontaneous remissions, precognition, telepathic communion, bending spoons like a corkscrew and many others, all manifestations of what he calls unconflicted behavior. These direct experiences represent cracks in our identity-reality-structure, the Cosmic Egg, which became the title of his first book.
Our reality is influenced by our notions about reality… Mind over matter is a misleading notion, and not the issue here. I have, however, traced the relation of mind and reality, as complementary poles of a continuum.
When the Hindu walks through a pit of white-hot charcoal, or the scientist experiences his Eureka! that opens new levels of reality each uses the same reality-shaping function of mind. This book traces the pattern of development underlying this function.
The crack contains an enormous, indeed romantic, optimism, however, by which I hope to counter our current passion for nihilistic self-doubt… The reality-shaping function operates automatically in spite of us, but this breath of life that structures all things is also the deepest level of our very minds, and available to any of us, even now.
Crack In the Cosmic Egg
Our self-world view, what we generally call ‘reality’ is a relative construct, a slice of the whole, by no means all-encompassing or complete. To a great extent the forces and fields we call culture limit and constrain our perceived and believed reality to a given set of accepted forms, perceptions and experiences, excluding all other potentials. For centuries humanity has maintained portals between this accepted reality and the excluded; oracles, shamanic experiences, the classic eureka which Joe has documented extensively, the savant, psychotropic substances and many other thresholds.
Inspired by the dramatic cracks in Joe’s cosmic egg his life quest has been to explore and understand, as much as possible, how the forces we call culture define, limit and constrain our reality, what potentials have been excluded and how some may be opened and developed as nature intends. It was not the particular experiences that slipped through his cracks that fired his passion; it was the casual-creative principle, the limitless possibilities that these manifestations imply that invited and propels his journey.
If our power and potential is light-years beyond what most imagine, why don’t most imagine more? An artificial lid has been placed on each human being’s development. Collectively Joe calls this artificial lid ‘culture.’ We are imprisoned by a shared dream-reality that is, after all, just a dream. What if we woke up? What would we see and become? To unravel this mystery Joe and we must question deeply how we become what we become, which Joe tackled in Magical Child and all subsequent publications.
The central insight driving Joe’s passion, including his concerns regarding ‘culture,’ is a epigenetic looping dynamic, what he calls the ‘model imperative’ and how culture offers up, dangles and substitutes a collection of abstract and artificial counterfeit models for our development. Briefly, the ‘model imperative’ insists that the model-environment awakens and develops each of our manifest capacities, at the same time excluding all other potentials. Epigenetics is a fancy way of expressing this principal; it is the environment that triggers and then nurtures genetic expression. Speech is a classic example. Normal hearing children will not develop speech if surrounded by mute adults. French speaking mama, French speaking child. Kittens raised in an environment with no vertical lines, or something like that, bump into things. As adults these non-vertical line raised kittens don’t see vertical lines. That is it in a nutshell.
When culture continually dishes out artificial counterfeit models and these counterfeit models become the model imperative devolutionary forces kick in. For example, each concrete image on a TV or computer screen displaces 1,000 descriptive words. Descriptive language is the displaced model imperative that stimulates and develops imagination, imagination being the ability to create internal images not present to the senses, one of nature’s highest accomplishments.
Concrete screen pictures are processed by the primitive, though highly complex and sophisticated, visual centers of the brain. Above that in evolutionary terms and sophistication is the emotional-cognitive brain and above that our symbolic and metaphoric processing centers, light-years more complex and advanced than the sensory motor brain. What appears to be an improvement from a cultural perspective, television and computer images, when viewed developmentally is revealed for what the counterfeit truly is, devolutionary. The influence of the counterfeit empowers the lower brain structures to draw energy and attention from the higher structures trapping them in the service of the lower, instead of the other way around, which is nature’s upward, expansive, design. Got it?
Our miraculous and unique capacity for semantic-symbolic language is the source culture and our culturally constructed reality. Looking deeply the images produced by the newest semantic-symbolic system they are infinitely more powerful that the other primary systems and the source of much of our trouble; our beliefs, superstitions, egos, racism, etc. Like fish in water we don’t see what forms our seeing create. Not understanding the image making process we falsely ‘reify,’ accept, project and misrepresent to ourselves the images as if they were concreate things, independent realities. We don’t, as the Greeks encouraged, know thy self, and therefore fail to grasp the true nature of the image making system that forges our identity-reality, our cosmic egg. We are enchanted over and over again by our own images. Such a system cannot self-correct. In there lies the rub. As Physicist David Bohm noted; we can’t solve a problem the level of the problem.
We are faced with a breakdown of general social order and human values that threatens stability throughout the world. Existing knowledge cannot meet this challenge. Something much deeper is needed, a completely new approach. I am suggesting that the very means by which we try to solve our problems is the problem. The source is within the structure of thought itself.
With the evolution of semantic, symbolic and metaphoric processing we tapped into the energy and capacity of ‘creation’ itself. Unconflicted imagination, focused and clear is creative, reality forming and casual. Jesus pronounced; ‘it is done onto you as you believe,’ literally. This simple phrase describes the casual-creative nature and power of consciousness when that conciseness is clear, steady, not full of self-generated, contradictory spam. Spontaneous remissions are one example of the casual-creative nature of unconflicted consciousness or imagination, which Joe manifested with his first wife Patty. Fire walking is another trance form of unconflicted behavior, which has its root in unconflicted imagination. What causes conflict? It is; thou shalt and shall not, or else, rejection, failure, abandonment by culture and the false identity-reality culture breeds.
With this general framework we, as Joe has done, can begin to inquire; how does this misleading and often confusing ‘structure of thought-perception’ we call reality and our identification with it develop? After laying out the quest in Crack in the Cosmic Egg, Joe followed by exploring how our capacity to imaging, our semantic-symbolic gifts are both a curse and cure depending on how it is understood and used in his second book Exploring Crack in the cosmic Egg.
In my book The Crack in the Cosmic Egg, I described reality as our semantic creation and explored how our minds could enter into that creation and change it. Accept the arbitrary nature of any reality representation, I argued, risk yourself to the transformation of it, and there are no limits to your creative capacity.
Our experience is our reality. We are social creatures by nature, and sharing our experience has established a consensus, or common agreement, about reality. We accept this consensus as our culture, that is, the matrix from which our experience is derived. While our consensus functions culturally, the results are destructive. For our agreement acts as an artificial overlay, a semantic screen, blinding us to a process, a given matrix, this is truly “cultural.”
We are conditioned from birth to accept the overlay as vital to survival, though it fails us in every way, and to react to the flow of our natural matrix as tantamount to death. This contradiction shapes our perceptions of the world, society, and our self. It literally splits our minds and makes of us our own adversary. I know of no way to explore this contradiction other than treating this overlay as our antagonist.
Exploring Crack in the Cosmic Egg
Magical Child is Joe’s exploration of how the forces of culture, via parenting, schooling, medical practices, etc., limit and constrain, literally banish, extinguish vast fields of innate capacities through the infallible epigenetic processes he called the model imperative. For billions of years the model-environment was nature. Culture emerged with the development of symbolic processing and became the dominate force defining, sculpting and excluding which perceptions, capacities and abilities unfold. Our capacity to imaging and create symbols changed the environment which loped back to impact development of the human brain and therefore mind, a reciprocal dynamic Joe later called a strange loop, paraphrasing Douglas Richard Hofstadter.
In Magical Child Joe describes the conflicts that have emerged between the innate intelligence with its millions of years of expectation, what he calls nature’s agenda for development and the limitations and constraints imposed by culture. Chapter by chapter he explores these conflicts, technological birth being the first and most devastating, compulsory schooling, competition, all forms of behavior modification imposed to confirm to culture’s limits and constraints at the expense of our true nature which again is infinite.
The material in this book has led me to a position so at odds with current opinion about the child mind and human intelligence that I have been at some loss to bridge the gap. At issue is a biological plan for the growth of intelligence, a genetic encoding within us that we ignore, damage, and even destroy. The mind-brain is designed for astonishing capacities, but its development is based on the infant and child constructing a knowledge of the world as it actually is. Children are unable to construct this foundation because we unknowingly inflict on them an anxiety-conditioned view of the world (as it was unknowingly inflicted on us). Childhood is a battleground between the biological plan’s intent, which drives the child from within, and our anxious intentions, pressing the child from without.
What is going to wrong in all technological countries today that infantile autism and brain damage are increasing at an epidemic rate, that childhood suicides are increasing yearly, that growing numbers of parents are beating infants and tiny children to death, that schooling is becoming increasingly unproductive, traumatic, even hazardous and improbable to maintain, and so on? I found that none of these problems, isolated to itself, is solvable… The issue is the nature of the child mind, human intelligence, and our biological connections with the earth system on which the development of the mind-brain depends. Until this issue is clarified and corrected, our problems can only multiply.
My task has been to sketch the picture of the child’s mind and nature’s plan for intelligence. This is a large terrain, and discrepancies are probably inevitable. But I stand by my sketch of human intelligence and intend this book to be an aid in the correction of a monstrous misunderstanding.
Why this focus on child development? The forces that shape childhood shape our reality-structure. Once formed it is nearly impossible to change which is why so few are truly ‘born again,’ into a more accurate identity based on what and who we really are instead of the counterfeit identity culture demands.
Next came Bond of Power, a lovely book that compares the realities of Muktananda and physicist David Bohm, mirroring east and west points of reference. Here Joe explores the importance and necessity of powerful mentors, the model imperative again, if we are to open and develop our own innate power. This book is personal and passionate and explores how these two unique characters and in their own way represented the model imperative at very high levels. It reflects Joe’s hunger to reach beyond the limitations and constraint he felt all his life, as early as age three and four. He projects this longing to all of humanity now living like hungry ghosts, knowing something great is or was inside and we will never know what it is. Why? Culture has reduced and eliminated the required models.
The following pages attempt to outline the mechanics of our disappearing personal power, as modeled with in the most complete theory of reality the West has produced, David Bohm’s holomonic movement, and in the most complete person I have known, that exemplar of personal and bonding power, Muktananda.
In some off-guard moment, a thought which illuminates new territory can explode in our heads and change the shape of our thinking and our lives. This “postulate which arrives full-blown in the brain” is a function of mind which holds the key to our nature, development, and fulfillment… The postulate-revelation doesn’t arrive in the brain as thought, but as the materials for thought. Thought is but a tool of the function and seems only peripherally (though vitally) involved. Revelation is as valid a term as postulate, since new information seems revealed to our mind, rather than thought by it. The postulate seems to arise from some deep recess of mind, not brain. I will use the term insight hereafter, since it is a “seeing” from within, even when projected without.
Einstein spoke of his insights arriving like flashes of lightning which, though they lit up the landscape of his mind for only an instant, forever after changed its shape. The only thing which can change the nature of our thought is an energy more powerful than that thought. So there are different modes of mental experience and the difference lies in the levels of energy involved. Ordinary thinking, our everyday “roof-brain chatter,” is a weak-energy emergent of our brain, while insight is surely more powerful. That is why the insight function isn’t reversible, to be repeated by formula. Our ordinary thinking can (must) prepare for insight, respond to it, but can’t manufacture it. A weak thought can’t produce a stronger one, but it can attract it. Nothing that we can do will insure the arrival of insight, yet insight comes to us only when we are passionately involved in the subject matter concerned, and have thoroughly prepared for its coming.
This book is not autobiographical because issue isn’t so much what happened to me as something that may be trying to happen in the world… This bonding power which holders everything together… broke through the rigidity of my brain and my own brand of psychic-distance buffering. It came through a person because real change can only take place through persons (not theories). And I could grasp it as personal power because it came through a person of power.
Bond of Power
Next is Evolution’s End. Joe begins with the Savant being a perfect example of a Crack in the reality egg. He links the savant to a particular ‘field’ of meaning and explores quantum field theory, the brain, mind and beyond. Again and again, the issue is the conflict between our innate potential and the limitation and constraints imposed by our semantic reality. In this work Joe takes on television, computers and pop culture, brilliantly, how the concrete image, a much more primitive brain structure replaces the symbolic word as the primary developmental stimulus. Joe also explores how children open to many so para-normal experiences only to have then not validated by the culture, whereby they learn very early to drop that capacity.
How do we overcome limitation and constraint? With our imagination. For tens of thousands of years storytelling was the what imagination unfolded. The sound-symbol demanding that the brain create a flow of internal imagery not present to the senses. It is the ‘rational’ use of imagination that Tantra and other very powerful forms of innate potential capacity are developed. Television, as a counterfeit, destroys this possibility. This reverts back to what Joe calls ‘unconflicted behavior,’ which is the state he spontaneously experienced when fire did not burn. Here we are treading on practices in Tibet and India, the Kalahari, the Aborigine where para-normal states are or were the norm of those who had cultures that molded these states.
All around us we see the breaking of the bond of heart and mind. From that of mother and infant, child and family, child and earth, young person and society, to the male-female bond upon which life itself rests, we tear at our living earth—our greater mother and life-giver—in an outward projection of our inner anxiety and rage. Should intellect win its battle with heart’s intelligence, the war will be lost for all of us. We will be just an experiment that failed, evolution’s end on a negative note. This book explains how this is so, why it need not be so, and how we might open to those dimensions within us as intended for us all along.
My work inspires such a variety of responses because it explores some very fundamental issues about the human mind and our development as a species:
How our experience of the world and of ourselves forms within the “ocean of neurons” in our heads;
Why the very nature of our brain/mind leads us to “dominion over” the physical world and then beyond that world’s boundaries;
Why we fail to develop and so feel victimized by the world instead; and
What simple steps we can take as individuals to complete our natural development and achieve the potential nature intended.
My viewpoint was forged unbeknownst through decades of intense inner search… This inner journey led me from a conventional southern background through the heady realms of poet William Blake and Christian contemplatives such as Meister Eckhart, to years of eastern meditation and vastly enriching retreats to a spiritual ashram in India, only to spiral back to a rediscovery and embracing of that camp of western contemplatives so loved in my younger years (a move rather catching me by surprise, as the inner journey is apt to do).”
The real thesis of this book, however, is the magnificent open-ended possibility our higher structures of brain/mind hold, the nature of their unfolding, why many of them don’t unfold, and what we can do about it.
All of our perennial philosophies, spiritual paths, religions, dreams and hopes, have spun out of an intuitive knowing that these higher intelligences exist, that life is more than just an economic knee-jerk reflex, that we are not just glorified Skinner-box pigeons or naked apes. On the one hand we have divinized our potential, projecting who we are designed to be onto an abstracted cloud nine rather than fulfilling our evolutionary potential, and falling victim to the politics of that projection. On the other hand, and far more destructively, we have denied our evolutionary nature, grounding ourselves in the more primitive, physically bound modes of our brain/mind, and subjecting ourselves to the magician-priests who can best manipulate that physical realm.
If we develop the higher structure of our brain/mind, it automatically integrates these lower ones into its service and employs the previous drivers to the best advantage of all… If, however, we fail to develop the higher and just use it by default, we invariably employ its intellectual capacity in the service of our more primitive “defense” systems. This means that those ancient inflexible drivers have fragments of the new power infused into their old ways, which proves devolutionary. The new potential is lost and, to compensate, we employ the old system in nefarious ways and make awful creatures, behaving as no decent “lower” animal ever has or will.
The Biology of Transcendence comes next. Here Joe explores how our ability to crack the egg, our cultural dead weight and its implicit identity, is a force woven in our biology.
“The ability to rise and go beyond” is the definition of transcendence and the subject explored in the following pages. While this force constitutes our nature and fires our spirit, an honest exploration of it must contend with this counter question: Why, with a history so rich in noble ideals and lofty philosophies that reach for the transcendent, do we exhibit such abominable behaviors? Our violence toward ourselves and the planet is an issue that overshadows and makes a mockery of all our high aspirations.
That we are shaped by the culture we create makes it difficult to see that our culture is what must be transcended, which means we must rise above our notions and techniques of survival itself, if we are to survive.
A new breed of biologists and neuroscientists have revealed why we behave in so paradoxical a manner that we continually say one thing, feel something else, and act from an impulse different from either of these. A major clue to our conflict is the discovery by these new scientists that we have five different neural structures, or brains, within us. These five systems, four of them housed in our head, represent the whole evolution of life preceding us: reptilian, old mammalian, and human.
As long intuited by poet and saint, the fifth brain in our system lies not in our head, but in our heart, a hard biological fact (to give the devil of science his due) that was unavailable to the pre-scientific world. Neurocardiology, a new field of medical research, has discovered in our heart a major brain center that functions in dynamic with the fourfold brain in our head. Outside our conscious awareness, this heart-head dynamic reflects, determines and affects the very nature of our resulting awareness even as it is, in turn, profoundly affected.
From this background I make two proposals here that are necessarily hypothetical: First, the crux of our ever-present crisis hinges on failure to develop and employ both the fourth and newest brain in our head (one added quite recently in evolutionary history) and its dynamic interactions with our heart brain. Second, the great saints and spiritual giants of history (even though overlaid with myth and fantasy by cultural counterfeits) point toward, represent, or manifest for us our next evolutionary step, a transcendent event that nature has been trying to unfold for millennia.
This need for a model is acutely the case with a new and unknown form of intelligence such as that offered by our fourth brain and heart brain. The striking contrast between our ordinary human behavior and the actions of the great beings of our history (Jesus, Krishna, Lao-tzu, Buddha, Eckhart, George Fox, Peace Pilgrim, and a long line of like geniuses) is what makes these figures stand out in time even as shifting or warping history itself.
In every case, however, rather than developing the capacities these great models of history have demonstrated, humankind has projected both the capacities and the image of the models demonstrating them. That is, we invariably build religions around our spiritual giants or use them to support a religion in order to avoid the radical shift of mind and disruption of culture these rare people bring about, shifts we interpret, ironically, as threats to our survival and thus instinctively reject. Bio-culture effects, once initiated, tend to self-generate. Projected by us, we perceive the behaviors demonstrated by our great models as powers out there to which we are subject, rather than as potentials within ourselves to be lived.
The Death of Religion and Return to Spirit explores just that, how organized religion is a counterfeit, placing images and idols, ceremonies and beliefs in place of true models of development.
Cultures have risen and fallen throughout history, and when they fall, it has always been by their own hand. Whether or not by our own hand, our culture is rapidly waning as a widespread anxiety waxes. Philosopher Susanne Langer claimed that our greatest fear is a “collapse into chaos should our ideation fail,” and culture is a major plank in our ideation. Threaten our fabric of beliefs, practices, and perspectives that make up the system of our cultural ideation and our very sense of self is threatened.
As culture is a major plank in our ideation, religion is a major plank in our culture, and it, too, is on the wane, which has given rise to fundamentalism as a political-cultural force. Arising from the adherents to all religious systems, old and new, fundamentalists fuel the fire of the very cultural collapse we fear.
At the same time, our current scientific technologies, which have become an even more powerful plank in our culture’s ideation, damage us on every hand—physically, mentally, and morally—and because their work is indirect and subtle, it goes unrecognized. As we used to turn to religion as our hope and solace, we now turn to science, a religion with its own brand of protective fundamentalism. Both of these religions, scientific and ecclesiastic, are equally destructive to spirit, mind, and nature and equally give rise to violence and civility’s decline.
While we do have a culture, our actions are hardly civil, and in spite of our many religions, a spiritual void seems epidemic. The mounting ride of violence toward self, earth, and others intensifies, while sporadic movements toward a spiritual renewal fragment in uncertainty. The impending death of religion, however, could bring—or at least allow—the rebirth of spirit.
Both our current religions, scientific and ecclesiastic, may well be offended at my contention here that they are destructive to life and civilization, that they are not nurturing but are, in fact, devolutionary. Yet recognition of this devolutionary effect is necessary if we are to clear the decks and open ourselves again to the evolutionary force of love and altruism that seems to lie behind our life and cosmos. These higher intelligences, giving rise to us, are our true spirituality and would be served by a true science.
The Death of Religion and Return to Spirit
His latest and last book Strange Loops and Gestures of Creation, has a brilliant chapter that updated Darwin and offers coherent model of development based on all we have described. He also describes how the body-brain produces mind, a reality and experience that transcends the body-brain.
Evolution, as a principle part of creation, is a force or impulse to overcome any limitation or constraint that might arise in created beings – such as us. Further, there is no evolution except through creation, and no creation except through evolution, and no life at all without both.
So evolution is the transcendent aspect of creation, rising to go beyond itself, being the response of life to its own ever-unfolding evolution. And every living phenomenon or event reaches, at some point, its eventual limitation and constraint. There could, in fact, be no creation that is final, since even the concept of finality would indicate limitation against which evolution, as is its nature, would, perforce, move to creatively rise and go beyond.
This book defines culture as a negative force that confines, constricts and limits humanity.Nature’s positive and intelligent intent as given through evolution has been overwhelmed and short-circuited by a negative culture’s intentions.
Nature’s intentfor culture is to give the grounds for a creative ability arising from mind’s capacity to imagine, create internal images not present to the sensory system, and actualize such images, giving them presence in our sensory world. A natural flowering of our social instinct, and the bond that nurtures and fosters creativity, could bring a new order of social reality transcending the limitations and constraints of this present one, wherein the heart would find its next level of evolution.
As an analogy to the negative culture we find ourselves in, consider the culturing of an organism in the laboratory, as when a medical researcher comes across a microbe he wishes to study. Determined to separate his specimen from any unwanted influences, he makes a culture for and/or of the specimen. Putting it into a beaker or test-tube, he adds a solution suitable to feed and keep it alive, controls the temperature of this arbitrary and restricted world, and observes and draws conclusions from what he terms the specimen’s actual, i.e. natural, behaviors.
In a true sleep-walking manner, we humans are specimens caught up in an elaborate cultural test-tube or beaker of our own making. As biologist Gregory Bateson pointed out in his book, Mind and Nature: A Necessary Unity, we are Nature and what we are doing is what Nature is doing (if at second hand, once removed).
Thus any and every effort we make toward a “new order” of our condition is but a different mixture of the same old materials. We watch wearily as, one after another, our brilliant inventions, hailed with such excitement and hope for the better world they promise to bring, end as fatal traps wherein we are again and again hoist by our own petard. So culture, with its mad-scientist servant-master, tightens its stranglehold on spirit as well as body, leaving a reign of madness and a dying world in its wake.
Of course the word culture has its equally powerful, meaningful and positive definition, summarized (above) as a shared social coordination that stimulates and fosters development of creative pursuits over and above ordinary, instinctive survival skills. In this positive aspect of culture arise our great arts that can transcend all present levels of knowing: the musical works of Bach, Mozart, Beethoven; the paintings of Michelangelo, Raphael, Leonardo; the altruistic efforts St. Francis, the Knight’s Templars and Cathars, who gave us so great a work as Chartres Cathedral; the great poets as Nemerov, Whitman, Blake, Milton, Shakespeare – any of which are, in this authors’ opinion, far greater achievements of humanity than walking on the moon or building atomic bombs.
It is my honor to present the Joseph Chilton Pearce Library
January 1, 2015