Re: virus: Rationality in the Cave

Mon, 15 Mar 1999 23:59:56 -0800

David McFadzean wrote:
> At 09:23 PM 3/14/99 -0800, KMO wrote:
> >A million accounts compiled by whom? Collected from where and for what
> >reason? A million examples from mainstream media? From CSICOP? From the
> >Psychic-Friends network?
> A hypothetical random cross-section taken from all historical accounts
> of supernatural experiences.

I don't know.

> >What do you have in mind as being indicative of a "supernatural
> >experience" when you're compiling these one million accounts? My
> >estimation of the percentage of "genuine" supernatural experiences in
> >that million accounts will vary greatly depending on the answers to
> >these questions.
> Anything that would be classified as "outside of the cave",
> something that can't be explained rationally with science
> or logic.

I don't think that getting "outside of the cave" requires a change in the operation of the universe, i.e. I don't necessarily believe that the experience of transcendence requires or constitutes a supernatural event.

As I mention in my previous post on Breathatarianism, I'm not thinking all that clearly tonight, so I won't say anithing more, but as I seem to be able to type okay, I'll do a little transcription. Big shock, eh?

This is from "The Holotropic Mind: The Three Levels of Human Consciousness and How They Shape Our Lives" by Stanislav Grof:

I'm skipping an introductory paragraph in which Grof introduces the notion that Western scientific thinking is mechanistic, i.e. it treats the universe like a machine.


"Within this image of the universe developed by Newtonian science, life, consciousness, human beings, and creative intelligence were seen as accidental by-products that evolved from a dazzling array of matter. As complex and fascinationg as we might be, we humans were nevertheless seen as being essentially material objects--little more than highly developed animals or biological thinking machines. Our boundaries were defined by the surface of our skin, and consciousness was seen as nothing more than the product of that thinking organ known as the brain. Everything we thought and felt and knew was based on information that we collected with the aid of our sensory organs. Following the logic of this materialistic model, human consciousness, intelligence, ethics, art, religion, and science itself were seen as by-products of material processes that occur within the brain.

"The belief that consciousness and all that it has produced had its origins in the brain was not, of course, entirely arbitrary. Countless clinical and experimental observations indicate close connections between consciousness and certain neurological and pathological conditions such as infections, traumas, intoxications, tumors, or strokes. Clearly, these are typically associated with dramatic changes in consciousness. In the case of localized tumors of the brain, the impairment of function--loss of speech, loss of motor control, and so on--can be used to help us diagnose exactly where the brain damage has occurred.

"These observations prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that our mental functions are linked to biological processes in our brains. However, this does not necessarily mean that consciousness originates in or is produced by our brains. This conclusion made by Western science is a metaphysical assummption rather than a scientific fact, and it is certainly possible to come up with other interpretations of the same data. To draw an analogy: A good television repair person can look at the particular distortion of the picture or sound of a television set and tell us exactly what is wrong with it and which parts must be replaced to make the set work properly again. No one would see this as proof that the set itself was responsible for the programs we see when we turn it on. Yet this is precisely the kind of argument mechanistic science offers for "proof" that consciousness is produced by the brain."


If human brains are more like the televisions that recieve and process consciousness than like computers running a consciousness program, then even everyday experience and not just the experience of getting outside of the cave would seem supernatural to those who accept the standard metaphysical assumptions of the Western scientific model of the universe, and the experience of transcendence; of getting outside of the cave, would be no more "supernatural" than the experience of walking down the street.

If you've read this far, let me ask your indulgence and have you take a look at something I posted to the list a couple of weeks ago. It's an excerpt from an interview with Ken Wilber. Compare it to Grof excerpt above.


Pathways: But what about the notion that these experiences of “One Taste” or “Kosmic Consciousness” are just a by-product of meditation, and therefore aren’t “really real”?

Ken Wilber: Well, that can be said of any type of knowledge that depends on an instrument. “Kosmic consciousness” often depends on the instrument of meditation. So what? Seeing the nucleus of a cell depends on a microscope. Do we then say that the cell nucleus isn’t real because it’s only a by-product of a microscope? Do we say the moons of Jupiter aren’t real because they depend on a telescope? The people who raise this objection are almost always people who don’t want to look through the instrument of meditation, just as the Churchmen refused to look through Galileo’s telescope and thus acknowledge the moons of Jupiter. Let them live with their refusal. But let us -- to the best of our ability, and hopefully driven by the best of charity or compassion -- try to convince them to look, just once, and see for themselves. Not coerce them, just invite them. I suspect a different world might open for them, a world that has been abundantly verified by all who look through the telescope, and microscope, of meditation.