The Inner Path (Was: SOCIO: Friends)

Crosby_M (
Mon, 10 Mar 1997 14:52:28 -0500

Greg Burch is much too kind in response to Gregory Houston's rant -
and it was a rant: accusing "so many people" of "completely ignoring"
their minds, out of "laziness, laziness, laziness, laziness".

Gregory thinks that subjective reality can be studied objectively and
that this has not been tried before. Most of his examples are yogic
feats of self-control or idiot-savant abberations.

There's a nice little place Gregory might like where his approach has
been practiced for thousands of years. He could join the
inward-looking Brahmins in contemplating the various degrees of
ecstasy and the endless patterns of homologous forms, memorizing the
Vedas, and so on. Leaving us Kshatriyas (politicians), Vaisyas
(scientists) and Sudras (menial mundane masses) to our "lazy" pursuits
of physical and cultural development. Or, Gregory could be a little
bit more high-tech and join the Solipsist Nation described in Greg
Egan's _Permutation City_.

A while back, Gregory provided a useful URL to some essays by Claude
Rifat. I found some interesting information on psychedlics and
neurochemistry, and some appalling philosophy. (From
<Just see how people are running into exceedingly primitive
computer-generated virtual realities. Imagine what would happen if all
people could go, at will, into the ultimate virtual reality of their
own mind!!! The mercantilistic society which now prevails would just
become extinct as, in our endoreality, we can achieve everything we
want at no cost at all. The only cost is learning. In such a future,
life would be more tranquil as people would obviously cease to compete
and desperately run after "exoreal" objects in order to run, instead,
after their own informational objects.>

Where does he think the models for our internal "informational
objects" come from if not from experience in the exoreality?! Claude
then goes on to relate his wonderful visions of buttocks turning into
bananas and mushrooms turning into tables, along with the ecstasies
that can be made to accompany these revelations. Yet, for some
perverse reason, most people (who, BTW, also dream these things every
night, and are also, for the most part, only too aware of their own
emotions) persist in such "lazy" exoreality activities as eating,
drinking, breathing, working, playing, raising families, contributing
to their community...

Apparently having primarily the reference of "a select group of people
who I have cultivated similar experiences with", Gregory seems
ignorant of the extent to which other educated people, both scientists
and political types, have already explored (and documented) their
subjective realities while still maintaining productive contact with
objective reality.

I make an effort to examine and catalog every dream I can recall. Not
having had access to LSD for many, many years, I sometimes thrive on
the effervescent patternist trances provided by piracetam (among other
things). I enjoy discovering the fundamental forms, feelings and
forces that pervade both my fantasies, friends, family and exoreality
functions. But, after over 20 years of this exploration, I find that
while these flights of fantasy are fortifying and occasionally
enlightening, they are, after all, cartoons, caricatures, and have
value (aside from entertainment) only so far as they can be applied to

I have no problem with the solipsist who is truly so and minds his own
business; but, when he starts bothering me with his begging bowl...
Well, talk about biting the hand that feeds you!

Consider the Australian aborigines, certainly connoisseurs of the
Dreamtime, but they hardly use their visions to just contemplate
endless abstractions (or turn themselves into calculating
thermostats), they use them to gain insights into the creatures,
plants and harsh environments they must understand so well in order to
survive and thrive. The real pleasure, and the only true creativity,
comes when we are able to merge the endo and exo realms.

In his 1994 novels, Poul Anderson offered some insights on the future
extremes of endo vs. exo approaches to life:
<09/10/94. Finished Poul Anderson's "The Stars Are Also Fire": The
inorganic intelligence of the Cybercosm and the Teramind seek the
"transfinite": "Within the finite time to singularity, an infinite
number of events can take place, an infinity of thoughts ... Whether
the transfiguration be freezing or fiery, awareness will endure and
evolve forever. Long, long before then ... it will know all things
that exist ... and lovingly set them aside. Its own works - arts,
mathematics, undertakings, unimaginable for ages to come - are what
shall occupy its eternity ... By its nature, the cybercosm must seek
for absolute knowledge; but this required absolute control, no wild
contingencies, nothing unforeseeable except the flowerings of its
intellect. The cybercosm was totalitarian." On the other hand:
"Demeter Mother [her awareness replicated & distributed among the
birds and bees, the flowers and trees, perhaps in some nanotech, viral
manner] is the ancient life, organic, biological ... She will always
be of the material universe and its wildness, its chaos, its
mortality. Never will her intellect be pure and wholly free." As She
says [in "Harvest of Stars"]: "I am content, but I can never be
fullfilled. No living creature ever can be; and that is the real
miracle of life.">

As for Gregory's claims that
<We are matter, localized energy, whats to say that with sufficient
intermiediary steps that we could not move on from bio-feedback to
controlling our energy in new and profound ways. [Snip] Could we not
travel great distances by merely changing the structure of our own
energy, modifying ourselves so that we could propel ourselves at and
sustain high speeds.>

I have studied Carlos Casteneda's investigations of these
possibilities for decades and, given some *useable* holonomic model of
reality, there may be something to these type of claims for a
'non-technical' distributed existence. Certainly Moravecian platonic
materialism seems to be moving in this direction. But (in Casteneda's
case), talking vaguely about human beings as 'energy fields' is not
science. Also, even the advanced shamanic disciplines described by
Casteneda recognize the need for the complementary practice of *both*
'Dreaming' (remote-sensing / passive witnessing) and 'Stalking'
(telepresence / interaction) with the physical world under 'altered'
states of consciousness. Dreaming is concerned with remapping the
'sensory homunculus', while Stalking is concerned with remapping the
'motor homunculus', and 'Seeing' is the ability to comprehend
every-day reality, in some non-local way, with these remapped mental

The point of the above discussion, of some fascinating techniques that
I'm nevertheless very skeptical of, is that even these advanced
shamanic disciplines do not try to create some false dichotomy between
the 'inner world' and the 'outer world'. You can lose yourself in
solipsism like Poul Anderson's Teramind, or you can engage the
objective reality in a biotechnical way.

Mark Crosby

"You never enjoy the world aright, till the sea itself flows in your
veins, till you are clothed with the Heavens, and crowned with the
Stars; and perceive yourself to be the sole heir of the whole world,
and more so, because others are in it who are everyone sole heirs as
well as you." - Thomas Traherne, _Centuries of Meditation_