MYSTICISM: THE LAG TIME CONDENSER
Copyright © 1995, J. M. CoxFor some period of time, for the sake of discussion and with continual warnings, I have used the ad hoc description, "the mind and the body," as a verbal model of man. I am going to refine that. My refinement, which is getting much more blunt, would be to simply divide man into the mental and the instinctive. Tonight I'm going to talk about the phenomenon of "lag time."
I couldn't resist copying a piece to get us started. Here it is, right up to date. It is a book review in a prestigious scientific journal, and the reviewer is generally covering the possibility of genetic influences over man's psychological conditions and development. I glanced through what the reviewer selected from the book, which was an overwhelming number of examples pro. That is, examples showing the genetic influences. The reviewer concluded by noting, "Even though the author's overall message is less than totally convincing, there is nothing particularly upsetting in it. He is ultimately careful to include both genetic and environmental theories to account for human nature, and distances himself from the view that just because something is, quote, natural, it is not to be taken as significant and revealing solely within itself."
If you are laughing, I'm glad you are listening, but I'm not making fun of this. Remember, the reason that I brought it up is that this is from a serious, recognized journal, and I assume that the reviewer is well-known. "All in all," he continues, "there is a core of reasoning that is hard to reject, although it would have been nice to learn how something so mechanical as natural selection and genetics is supposed to influence such unique and complex qualities as man's mind and personality."
Shall I read more? This review could be an up-to-date example of the tug of war between Peter and Paul. I'll give you another, which might seem a little more physical and hands-on, but is the same thing. All of you are surely aware that over the past several decades, there have been periodic revelations about various psychoactive drugs -- published results of some long-term inquiry and experimentation, normally by a psychiatrist (who is, remember, a psychologist with medical training). At any rate, he comes up with a specific drug about which he says, "As hard as it is to believe at first blush, this drug by itself seems to damn near cure diagnosable, clinical mental illnesses with no additional treatment. This drug does that which all forms of counseling and analysis do not do: we can give this pill to one guy, one day, three times, and the next day -- after lifelong depression to the point of being incapacitated -- the guy wakes up and it's all over." This has been going on for a good thirty or forty years in the western world, but it ends up being like the example of Peter and Paul. They give with one hand and take with the other. There have been a multitude of such drugs, but I am assuming you know that such drugs alone are not considered acceptable psychiatric treatment. They simply are not.
I'll put it to you this way: other than what I normally refer to as actual genetic damage to the brain -- physical traumas, birth defects -- anything that man calls mental illness can be treated with drugs, because brain chemistry is causing the so-called mental illness. So, as they keep suspecting, all of it can be treated chemically, yet that is not generally acceptable to the medical profession or the populace. Here and there you will find someone waving the flag and saying that perhaps we should give more credence such ideas, we should do more studies, we should allocate more monies for research. But there are just as many respected voices in the field saying, "Absolutely not."
We are now faced with this kind of lag time that I mentioned. There is a continuing lag time between what men can mentally accept collectively -- that is, what they say they can accept, and, when it gets down to it, what they can mentally accept -- and that which they pragmatically practice. This is a reflection of the apparent division between man's mental self and his instinctive self. You will just have to take my word for this: there is much more pharmaceutical treatment for mental illness going on right now (much, much, much more) than is publicly admitted.
When I read that review I just could not resist using it, because it was better than anything I could have written as an example. In the older versions of why man is flawed, in the creation stories of all religions; there is always the theme that man has been harmed in some way, along with an explanation of what has caused this harm. Religion said that it came about through some willful act or some willful omission. But after that, once they get past the idea of the existence of extra-systemic forces either punishing or rewarding man, it transformed into this continuing battle, this mental tug-of-war over the question: "How is man most influenced, or totally influenced, one or the other, by either his genetics or his environment?"
Sometime after Adam and Eve (considering them metaphorically as the first conscious humans), one of their children or grandchildren was the first mystic, and he understood the answer to that question. Probably within the lifetime of the first generation, somebody knew the answer. So even if you accept whatever that friar figured out in England years ago -- that humanity is 8,765 years old according to the Bible -- the point is, someone has always known the answer for all but maybe 38 or 40 of those years. And yet today, in all respected circles, the question is no longer just a philosophical debate or an intellectual game. It is now considered a serious scientific debate. Over and over, the question is brought up in the scientific arena as though it is a brand new problem: "This is an area that we can seriously research." It does not need research, if you understand life. Adam's grandson understood the answer.
I want you to understand this gap I'm describing. You know that I'm not making fun of religions or science. But from psychologists, neurologists, zoologists, anthropologists...who am I leaving out?..there is no clear-cut answer as to which influences man the most, and, or all. There is still no acceptable answer to this question. But the answer has been known since somewhere between 20 or 30 years after man first became conscious. There was someone who knew it, and there have always been some ones who knew it.
The reality of the answer is not unknown to man. I remind you again of a story I told about how on this one world there were machines programmed to believe otherwise. Getting men to see what life is about is not as hard as getting them to realize the significance of it, once they see.. This is part of the blinding, distracting process -- the kaleidoscope -- that Life presents in man's nervous system, which makes ordinary people continually believe that the truth is not known, that reality is too nebulous, that reality may just be our perception of it. That is patently incorrect. The answers to all those questions have been mortally known, and that knowledge is, in one sense, inherent in everyone. If they will give their attention for one moment, they can see almost the so-called Secret. They can see what Life is, right in front of them -- but there is this lag time. There is this division between man's mental self and his instinctive self, which is so functionally real that the problem is not getting people to see something. You may have to slip up and trick them a little bit, and say "Have you ever considered life this way?". You throw out an example, and people listen and listen and listen, and you take them up to whatever it is you are talking about, and they follow along and then realize, "I have never looked at life in that way." And the way you present it is not your way; it is not something on your agenda to make them come up with an opinion.
You can get people to see something, so that's not so much the challenge. But then the lag time sets in. They look blank, and they never realize the purpose. They don't see the significance to what they just saw, other than the fact that, "Huh -- I never thought about that." The lag time is them saying next, "Well, wait a minute." That "wait a minute" is always next. Even though the lag time can be eight thousand years behind, they say, "I never thought about this before, so don't rush me." The point is, there is nothing to think about. The mind, man's mental self, is the protector of the lag time.
I'm reminded of a news item from the last time we met: "On one world consciousness was ignited by thought, and then limited thereby." That, along with the one about machines programmed to believe otherwise, is dancing on both sides of the Secret. The secret is a spot in this universe. Those two together are playing ring-around-the-secret, doing everything but pressing up against it, dancing so closely that if you could see the space between them you would see the outline of the secret.
"Programmed to believe otherwise" -- that is dancing right at the secret of why men, having a mental self and an instinctive self, cannot bring the two together. You cannot be conscious until you can think, but after that, one of the primary jobs of thinking is to limit consciousness. "Programmed to believe otherwise." Do you realize that if mentally you were a binary juggler, a juggler with an even number of balls, you could play with that for the rest of your life? There is no way out of it, and I didn't make it up as some sort of clever conundrum.
Let's assume that those machines on that other world were programmed to be as reasonably intelligent as we are, therefore they would have an intellectual curiosity. You drop in on them and say, "You machines have gotten this planet going, and you've done a hell of a job with it. You've come up with lots of new information and theories." They say, "Thank you, thank you." And you go on, "But I'm from another world, and there is a secret about you guys. You guys are machines and you have been programmed to think different." Try to take their part. Just imagine. It is simply the way life is: an elephant can't do water ballet. Elephants will never be part of the Bolshoi. That information will get you nowhere. You can come to no conclusion, not even a conclusion that will naysay it. You can try, but it won't be conclusive. About the best you can do is say, "I don't believe it." The machines can come to no conclusion. There is nothing satisfactory for them in that information.
Can you place this together with the fact that pharmaceutical treatment is not anywhere close to being collectively accepted as general treatment for mental illness? The majority of psychiatrists are still engaged in classical Freudian or post-Freudian talking analysis. That is simply the way things are. But pharmaceuticals are more widely used than they know. I don't mean that it is a willful, knowing psychiatric conspiracy. It is the lag time -- the difference between what men can mentally accept, and what they pragmatically practice, as forced to by Life.
We are the body. There is no separation from that. But there is a difference, by all ordinary observation, between man's mental self and his instinctive self. Instinctive self consists of all the inborn, indigenous, natural desires. They are all automatic. Instinct by its very definition means something inborn, something mechanical, something natural. You might as well say it's genetic. Most people would say, "You are right. The size of your nose, your height, your skin color, are all genetic. But you cannot call a man's mind instinctive." Then they will go into the rebuttal: "We are not born knowing how to think, how to talk, how to count, how to reason. Therefore it is learned from the environment. It is not instinctive." With ordinary people there is no worthwhile area in which to engage in verbal or intellectual fencing. You are doomed to start with. The rebuttal seems to them to be self-evident. (But don't forget: on some other planet were machines...etc, etc.)
There was this other news item from last time that said, "All ships have a captain topside, and an engineer below." The engineer is down there stoking it, keeping the engines going -- actually keeping the ship running. Up on top, the captain is at the wheel. He has the charts, he steers the ship. The captain believes he is in charge, and there is none to say otherwise. Never. There is none to say otherwise, but that does not mean that the captain's assumptions are correct. You get the point, I assume. Man's mental self cannot ever conceive of itself, and therefore cannot conceive of itself in relationship to the totality of the individual man's being. The mind cannot see where it is. It cannot see what the purpose is, and therefore can come to no conclusion. There is no "cleaning up" of the mental self. There is no real education of it, in the sense of being able to bring it to some conclusion. There is no proper "thinking exercise" -- but there is the hobbling of it. (Or, to re-quote myself, "the suspension of it.") There is no way that you can make the mind see that there is a lag time between what life is making men operate as, and what life is allowing men to think they are operating as.
You can look upon activities such as This -- so-called mysticism -- as being a lag time condenser.
Which is more important, man's environment or his heredity? Years ago I answered this question for you in one way. I said, consider this: your environment is somebody else's heredity. What else do you want? If you go along with the way the mind works, there is no answer. Someone can present a wheelbarrow full of evidence, examples, speculations, anecdotes and statistics showing that it's obviously heredity. The evidence seems incontrovertible. But suddenly a man stands up, and he has an opposing wheelbarrow. He presents an equal amount of opposing statistics. And then those who are passive in the debate say, "All the evidence is not yet in. The last inning has not been played." (When you don't know what you are doing, it always helps to admit, "I am so intelligent that I have yet to come to a firm conclusion in this matter." Which is another way of saying, "I understand this, but the things I don't understand, I don't understand. Thank you, good-night.")
I present this to you again quite simply. What you call your environment is somebody else's heredity. Once you see that, that is the end of the question. I said that you can get ordinary people to see the obviousness of Life. But once they glimpse it, god do they want out of there. Not because they are stupid, but because such glimpses unbalance the mind. They are not part of the left/right march of collective progress. They interfere with the lag time. Such a glimpse is blunt; it is too obvious. It is not part of the collective comprehension. What can they do with it?
"Your environment is somebody else's heredity." I've repeated this now several times in the last few minutes. Let's assume there will be people hearing or reading this -- ordinary, sane people -- who will momentarily see something absolutely extraordinary, if they have followed it this far. And what happens next? They will look at this, but in a sense they cannot recognize the significance of it. It's as if their mind is trying to juggle, and the number of balls has gotten uneven. The balls won't come down. Their minds are stuck, and thought is damn near suspended in them for a moment. But the moment is not significant, because significance must change someone. When this happens, nothing changes in people, because they are still subject to this lag time between the mentally accepted and the pragmatically practiced.
Mysticism -- this kind of effort -- is a condenser of lag time for an individual. Not for humanity, but for an individual. To be a mystic is to see the obvious, and then to see what it means. The sight doesn't freeze you up, because you have to have already been practicing the attempt to suspend thought. So seeing the truth (as men call it) -- seeing what's going on -- does not unwillfully, or surprisingly, stop your thought. You have been trying to do that already, in order to see something. So the extraordinary glimpse does not numb you, or frighten you. You can then see the significance of it, because the significance of the obvious is in its obviousness. When you see it, you can go "Aha!" instead of "Huh?"