Category Archives: Mind Magic

We Can’t Afford Widespread Neurosis Anymore

Created November 17, 2022

Welcome to this week’s Bill Harvey Blog.

It’s pretty obvious that the human race is somewhat out of control.

It could be that, in the past, it was even more out of control than it is now.

But if we look only at the time period since we learned how to make atom bombs, we are now at an “Out-Of-Controllness” level that is at an all-time high within the defined period.

Maybe we were more out of control during the Crusades, but we couldn’t do as much damage then.

Now as compared to prior to 1945, we have done vast destruction to the environment threatening our own survival, have caused innumerable species to go extinct ahead of us, and are still playing party politics and other warped games as if there are no consequences. That’s how much damage we continue to do every day, and we haven’t even started with the atom bomb toy yet.

Enough self-criticism. Now, what are we going to do about it?

The hub of the problem is the way we don’t use our minds.

We don’t use our minds as they were elegantly designed to be used, the way Socrates used his mind, the way Washington and Jefferson and Franklin and Lincoln used their minds… we have many good role models to choose from, as we come back from a race of neurotics.

What is a neurotic? WebMD tells us that “Neurotic means you’re afflicted by neurosis, a word that has been in use since the 1700s to describe mental, emotional, or physical reactions that are drastic and irrational. At its root, a neurotic behavior is an automatic, unconscious effort to manage deep anxiety.”

Acting irrationally is the core of being a neurotic. But don’t we all? Isn’t it irrational to get emotionally overwhelmed by certain situations? The point of the mind is that it has more than just reason as its powers. It has intuition, feelings, perceptions, conditioned motivations, “realized self” motivations, a subconscious, and more. We act based not only on reason but on all of these functions. And that’s the way it should be. However, we ourselves have very little insight into the way we function so it is all kind of a sloppy process. Until we start practicing what Aristotle called “the contemplative life” which modern science calls meta-cognition: the mind inspecting the mind. This is The Way out of neurosis.

The process needed for the entire human race is a cleansing of the spirit, a self-governed “mind wash” available to each individual. Right now, most people don’t even know that they need it. Most people who know they need it don’t want to admit it (they are the ones closest to leaping over the gap if they could transcend denial).

The estimable Norman Hecht sent me a very insightful New Yorker article which makes the point that Trump may be on his way out but that does not remove the appetites of the core that supported him. And what are those appetites? Fear-driven racism and extreme irrational behavior. And what class of behaviors do those fall in the range of?

Right. Those are neuroses. The class of mental/emotional/physical diseases medical science has been tracking since the 1700s.

Eastern psychology noticed those behaviors going back far earlier than writing, based on memes embedded in time-binding songs that can be tracked back to about 10,000 BC thanks to Herotodus, Plato, et al. We have known about these syndromes for a very long time and have never addressed the removal of the problem.

We talk about schemes to save the environment but not to save ourselves from mental emotional self-destructive behavior. Because that is the reason why neurosis is important to remove, because neurosis works against what the individual is motivated to achieve, which is why it is irrational.

If we continue to ignore the primary cause of all of our lethal threat vectors, and try to use outmoded and failed methods to reach reconciliation with China and the others with whom we are now engaging in reptilian combat rehearsal, we are in for a very bad future, as Fareed Zakaria points out in a recent article.

The international conversation as well as the domestic conversation both have to change if we are to show ourselves truly on the road to recovery from mass neurosis. This fictional conversation between the world leaders is closer to the direction we must go than is our present course.

Step one is to come to a clear understanding that there are other, better, ways to use our minds than the general method in use today. Neuroscience calls it the DEFAULT NETWORK. It is a random walk and results in random noise across the corpus callosum. From there we must go to the Observer state, the state of expert meta-cognition. Ram Dass and Daniel Goleman were generous in their comments on my methodology.

My approach is not the only way to free the mind. Psychotherapy, meditation, yoga, psychedelics under supervision with proper setting and mindset, innumerable approaches exist to move out of the default network, what my manual Mind Magic calls EOP (Emergency Oversimplification Procedure). And into a state of relative free will and autonomy, with full insight into your own conditioning which therefore neutralizes the effect of the conditioning.

Yep, you got it right, this is a rather unusual proposition: upgrade the mental/emotional competency of the entire world population. I totally agree, it’s over the top for me to suggest that such a thing is worth putting time into, when the amount of neurosis and its ingrained nature by this point appears insurmountable no matter how many of us want to change the world.

I just don’t like the alternative.

I say let’s give it a go, shall we?

Love to all,

Bill

 

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Levels of Consciousness

Created October 7, 2022

Welcome to this week’s Bill Harvey Blog.

The idea that there might be a stepladder of different states of being goes back into antiquity, far earlier than the earliest written records. We all know that sometimes we’re on and sometimes we’re not.

Plato implied there were at least two states of being when he wrote, “The first and greatest victory is to conquer yourself; to be conquered by yourself is of all things most shameful and vile.”

Artwork by Bruce Rolff (rolffimages.com)

What he meant by being conquered by oneself was allowing oneself to be taken over by incorrect inner biases, including fear, anger, conceit, vanity, ego. Conquering those things is what he meant by conquering yourself.

India during the time preceding the rise of written language – going back thousands of years before Plato – was aware of the stepladder of self, and sang about it in memorized sung poetry passed on from generation to generation. They knew that there was a spiritually elevated state of consciousness in which one became aware of being part of God. They also realized that before that stage was reached there were intermediary levels of consciousness. One of these was nivritti, the state in which one was no longer attached to the desires for sensory experiences.

Later in the development of this natural philosophy (science), Gautama Buddha developed the idea of nonattachment in language that anticipated modern psychology. The Greek Stoic philosophers including the greatest of them all Epictetus (must-read The Enchiridion) further honed these ideas into operational language that average human beings could understand, and can follow the practices that bring about this state of detachment. The Greeks saw a condensed stepladder which included hubris, the state of entrapment in ego which is the norm today vs. apatheia, the state of detachment (nivritti).

Also in India there evolved techniques for controlling the senses and which were therefore helpful in attaining detachment. Two paths are reported by Daniel Goleman in his classic The Meditative Mind: The Varieties of Meditative Experience. In this valuable work Dan shows a definite stepladder construct called the Visuddhimagga (tracing back to Buddhism), with one path involving concentration and the other path utilizing insights, both ultimately reaching the state of highest spiritual oneness with the Universe and The One Self causing it.

In India there is another map called the Chakra system, which postulates a seven-stage process anticipatory of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, in which the individual conquering himself/herself over the course of a lifetime (or a series of them), passes through the motivational stages of Security, Pleasure, Power, Love, Creativity, Self-Knowledge, and Self-Transcendence.

Levels of consciousness and the stages of evolution in a person’s own life are definitely related. The way they are related is that the stages in life construct is the longterm view and the levels of consciousness concept is the shortterm view. For example, in every stage of my life I experienced second-to-second changes in my level of consciousness, gradually as I moved up the chakra stages spending more and more of my time in the higher states (Observer and Flow states). You might say that the stages of life are a typology and the levels of consciousness are a phenomenology.

In Judaism, those attaining the Observer state (the lowest state in which the mind is enabled to conquer the ego by metacognition and self-metaprogramming) are called menschen (singular=mensch). In the I Ching, the “superior man” has approximately the same meaning. These are foreshortened stepladders into two possible conditions similar to the Greek hubris/apatheia, whereas other conceptions of the journey involve many more states, such as Visuddhimagga and my own map cited below, as well as an interesting stepladder created by a synthesis of the Rig Veda and Piaget’s developmental stages.

These ancient (and modern day) observations about what the mind can do are very relevant to our world today. Our own Western psychology, in a fight to gain the respect of the “harder” (easier to prove) sciences such as physics and chemistry, has straightjacketed and blindered itself into a heavy emphasis on behaviorism, because of its visibility from outside the subject. This to some extent mirrors Plato’s concerns about how our senses can be fooled, implying to modern minds the need for an external observer to observe the observer. However Plato had his own solution which was to employ the mind without the senses, which was more in line with the Eastern traditions cited above.

As a science, today’s Western psychology has skipped over the value of inner observation out of a distrust for the reporter of inner experiences. This is truly throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Our behavioristic psychology has been strongly involved with neurosis and psychosis, which definitely deserve attention, but insufficiently sparse with regard to the positive possibilities of the mind. Future psychology must repair this faster than present forces end the race too soon.

It might also be seen as a circularity of reasoning. Because individual scientists have ego, whatever they write about what happened within them internally will be distorted by their desire for self-aggrandizement, therefore  causing Western psychologists to think: let us measure third-party-observable behavior and place a stiff taboo on introspective reporting being considered acceptable within science. The reason this is circular is that without the knowledge of the techniques by which to reach higher states of consciousness we cannot get the ego out of the way; but because ego is ubiquitous in modern world culture and rules it, we are unable to learn those techniques that would remove the ego from its hypnotic Orwellian power over us, leading us to our doom.

That’s why I write about these ancient subjects, because they are a necessary part of our immediate future, if we are to have a future. The future psychology must make introspective data admissible within guardrails to be established and verified by third-party observations of behavior. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi gave us that validation system: it is the obviousness of the Flow state, a term which he coined. Some of what attracts human attention through the media is the Flow state that athletes demonstrate, as do great musicians, and performers of many types that we can see on our devices. We are appropriately awestruck watching what a human being can accomplish if they follow the requisite techniques to conquer themselves, as Plato put it.

In my book You Are The Universe, Chapter 21 is devoted to Levels of Consciousness, and offers a construct involving five levels of Flow state, starting with the Flow state of the body, and ultimately attaining the Supreme Flow state of the spirit. The levels shown in that chapter represent my own experience as organized around the map created by Oscar Ichazo and adopted by John Lilly, which was informed by the speculative stepladders of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky.

One of the techniques on the stairway to heaven, up Jacob’s Ladder, that is common to all religions is meditation, but it is not alone, it’s joined by contemplation and concentration. All three of these techniques require the conquering of the senses directly, one of the paths up the Visuddhimagga. The other path involving insights is represented in modern thought, for example, by my manual Mind Magic which is a compendium of mental/emotional self-interventions resulting in the conquest of oneself (specifically the ego part).

Levels of consciousness are important because in the race between education and destruction (H.G. Wells), if we as a species do not bring the subject of levels of consciousness to the forefront of the world media conversation, and into our lives as a daily regimen, we are at great risk of not being able to avert racial suicide which is visibly in its early stages even to an optimist like me. It is the failure of our science and education system worldwide (including the religions) that while maintaining the pomp and ceremony and numinous traces of the teachings of Christ and Buddha et al, we have eaten the seed and thrown away the fruit.

Getting billions of people to recognize that there is an internal stepladder to be climbed and helping them as they try to make their way up the stairway is a herculean task. I see no way around it. We definitely need to start with world leaders and would-be world leaders. May divine intervention make it so.

Love to all,

Bill

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The Future Psychology

Created September 30, 2022

Welcome to this week’s Bill Harvey Blog.

Why think about the future of psychology, aren’t the rush of current discoveries enough? We are close to proving ESP. What else do you want?

A common phrase in marketing nowadays is “early wins”. It means when you have a Big Idea, it’s good to have some immediate tangible benefits.

Physics has had a never-ending run of early wins going back as far as you can go. Rubbing two sticks together was an early win of physics, the discovery of how to cause fire. The unbroken string continues through television and atom bombs, space travel, the Internet, virtual reality, cyborgism and perhaps cyborgasm.

What has psychology done for us lately? People continue to benefit from psychotherapies of all kinds. Research continues on all fronts. Nothing quite so spectacular as physics in the pragmatic big picture.

Could there be?

Why should we postulate a possible breakthrough by which psychology can become as relevant to the average person as physics?

Because what could be more important to us than us, ourselves? Any tangible improvement in our abilities to function effectively has more value than our pastimes. (Like love and war, television and VR.)

What if that shift de-necessitated war – naturally, coming from insides of us, out. No longer needing that psychotic entertainment form.

It has to emerge naturally or it is just another feeble hope that everyone will play nice forever, despite having been killer apes since before the beginning. We have to de-evolve away from the bloodlust by natural causes, stuff like psychotherapy and yogic meditation is where the new wave will come from in psychology.

The new wave will center on the notion of helping the human race improve cognitive and all other functional capabilities of consciousness. Therefore its metrics will be guided by experimental performance trials and verified increases in individual effectiveness. Analytics will be set up to deconstruct effectiveness into separate components including such types of effectiveness as creativity, imagination, hunches, system1, system2, etc.

Should new wave psychologists focus more on the structure of the mind, or on its functions? In consciousness, structure is function. However, connecting the physical neurological manifestations which happen concurrently with experiential qualia, is one horizon at which to aim. Many are working in this field which has been ably led by Dr. Richard Davidson since he and Daniel Goleman and their famous friends including Ram Dass started the trail. Richy has identified the brain signatures of meditative states and made the connection to beneficial health effects.

“Interventions” is a term used to signify third party actions with a goal in mind. The new wave psychologists will ultimately wind up testing all sorts of interventions to determine the Efficacy Lift Score (ELS) for each one. The epigrams in my book Mind Magic will be in that long conveyor belt of interventions worth testing.

Although the general drift will be to assuage but not be dominated by one’s own ego, the ego always has a way of sneaking back in. In this case the ego will cause there to be hierarchical thinking related to levels of consciousness, where people will strive to give the appearance of having a higher level of consciousness than the others. That will be unfortunate but it will be managed with appropriate forethought.

The idea that some of us are in a more effective state of consciousness, and the experience that we ourselves have, of going up and down in level of effectiveness, leads to the notion that there are organically-defined states or levels of consciousness in a ladder, and that this will turn out to be a scientific fact.

In an earlier post, I theorized what this ladder might look like, based on the work of Abraham Maslow and of Mihaly Czikszentmihalyi, and my own experiences, shown here and more detail in that post:

Given the human tendency to oversimplify, objective research into levels of consciousness may be tarred as elitist. That too can be clarified. It’s desirable not only for the one person but for all of us, for the one person to be effective. Wanting to make everyone more effective is not an elitist thought.

You have the opportunity to get ahead of the crowd. Test alternative interventions to see if they increase your effectiveness by watching these short videos, here or here.

In next week’s edition: A Brief History of Levels of Consciousness Research.

Love to all,

Bill

 

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Believing What We Want to Believe

Created September 9, 2022

Welcome to this week’s Bill Harvey Blog.

The human race is driving itself insane. What is the root cause of this? I postulate that it is an overpowering desire for hard answers to questions for which we may not have scientifically objective hard answers for hundreds or thousands of years more of the current slogging forward and slipping backward.

So we manufacture black and white answers and defend our somewhat arbitrary/aesthetic positions by aligning with like-minded people, and demonizing all others, who are assumed to all be the polar opposite of what we stand for.

In Mind Magic, Chapter One “Avoid Hasty Closure” provides psychotechnology (mind tricks) to overcome this “mind takeover to relieve aggravated cognitive dissonance”. “If everyone read this one book” (as one reader wrote), it could have significant effect on bringing down the omnipresent Berlin Wall of psychoneurotic divisiveness.

Just telling people to be good does not do it. They need to know the mental and emotional corridors to explore to achieve a steady state of metacognition and self-metaprogramming (which I call the Observer state). Once established in this equilibrium, the mind takes it to the next level on its own (Flow state, the Zone). Flow state itself has levels, and at the higher levels the intuition (hunches) become very accurate (likely to be verified empirically).

Religions were started by people in these latter higher states of Flow. Some of those who became disciples of those religions developed themselves along similar lines. Other followers of specific religions have taken a different path. They are followers in name only, and have lost the essence of what their claimed religion stands for.

These latter people who are religious in name only, are doing that for the purpose of aligning with other like-minded people who have chosen one authority to believe, having the false comfort of mental closure, and also now having a scapegoat group of people on which to blame everything that is not right about the world. Although they may claim to believe everything their one authority said, their actions prove they are being hypocritical, and that they are repressing awareness of their own hypocrisy.

Not that Christianity is the only religion that suffers from false followership, a new article very carefully and authoritatively connects the dots to help Christians get themselves into alignment with Jesus rather than with any political faction. Written by Michael Gerson, Republican speechwriter and journalist, who was steeped in Evangelical Christianity from birth, and was named by TIME Magazine as one of the top 25 most influential Evangelicals in America, this article strikes me as potentially the most important article ever written. If all Christians read it and truly grok it, it will put their feet back on the path. I hope that writers with comparable levels of authority and learning regarding their own religion are able to emulate Michael’s article.

Blaming a religion itself for those who have perverted that religion is not a very intelligent thing to do. This is the same black and white oversimplistic reductionism to which we all flee in Hasty Closure state, because we find that something in us cannot bear not having at least provisional answers upon which to base one’s life and one’s actions. It’s not unreasonable to feel that way but a better response is open mindedness.

All true religions have taught the same moral lessons. Compassion, do unto others, kindness, respect, love. When in the name of religion, a person acts oppositely from these ethical compunctions, and hides that hypocrisy even from themselves, this to me goes beyond neurosis into true psychosis, i.e., a dangerous diseased condition, not just a tolerable level of neuroticism.

The fact that there were and are still religiously driven equivalents of Crusades, the Inquisition, and sexual molestation by clerics, that is not the fault of the religion, it is the fault of the followers in name only.

Religions are losing adherents faster than cable/satellite companies are losing cord-cutters. In the US for example Pew finds that the percent of people who are religiously unaffiliated has doubled to roughly 3 in 10 since 2007.

In another article, Pew explains why this is happening and relates it to a perceived dichotomy (more of the same black/white mindtrap) between religion and science. Science may have ruled out a white-bearded old man version of God, but it certainly has not ruled out the possibility that our own selves are offshoots of One Self (my Theory of the Conscious Universe).

Leading scientists including Einstein, Wheeler, Planck, Schrodinger, Heisenberg, Wigner and many others have put forth scientific possibilities aligned with my notion, which also aligns with all religious writings.

The human race is becoming more open to the idea of animal intelligence and therefore animal rights (as I predicted in a 1972 sci-fi novel Ouroboros). For example, the reading public has recently discovered how intelligent octopi are. Upon closer scientific study it has become now widely known that each octopus tentacle has its own brain. This suggests that each octopus tentacle may have an independent sense of self.

Perhaps the main groupmind of these brains is the controlling sense of self, who can live through the each of the multiple sub-minds. And perhaps the main self can focus in on the one arm that is presently sucking on the most delicious shrimp.

How is that different from my theory that there could be One Self above us all into which we all feed? Is it mere coincidence that the latter lens integrates and depolarizes science and religion?

By opening one’s mind to include this possibility, one can regain a new oneness with everyone, and a new genuine, authentic oneness with one’s own birth religion or chosen religion. And by embodying the scientific method as the way to run one’s life (Foment Empiricism, as Scott McDonald says), one gains a new respect for science by practicing it in each moment oneself.

This lens overrules the impatient Hasty Closure black/white ache in one’s mind. By making sure that one does not jump to conclusions just to have a fake sense of certainty. Having a fake sense of certainty is what allows us to desire civil war to punish all the bad people who disagree with us politically. That fake sense of certainty is the insanity I spoke of in the first sentence of this article.

Coming back to intuition… Kurt Vonnegut in his satirical wisdom said that humans tend to cluster into two types of groups: karass, which is the real group we are destined to be with, and to whom we are brought together by unseen forces (“meant to be”, “bashert”, “kismet”), and granfalloon, a false karass. Suppose he was right. Granfalloons then might in some cases be political parties. In his brilliant article, Michael Gerson contrasts Jesus with Trump, and shows how scripture makes it clear that Jesus warned his disciples to stay away from politics. How can we know when we are following a true intuition and not simply believing what is convenient to believe?

The highest true (empirically verifiable) intuitions tend to give one a sense of peace, a sense that all is oneness, naturally oneness loves it parts, the universe is doing all this benevolently, there will be a happy ending, and from the ending we shall look back and see how the way that reached that end was perfect as it was. How the learning could not have otherwise been achieved. That it all happens for a reason.

Freud called this “the oceanic feeling”. Jung called it the “collective unconscious”. Kashmir Shaivism calls it “The Supreme Self”. The earliest Greek philosophers when they looked inside, and acted so as to foment empiricism, found that mind has hidden powers (intuition), and used them to think about what reality really is. Thales, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Epictetus, and later many poets and natural philosophers including Berkeley, Newton, Leibniz, Spinoza, Descartes, and endless more sages throughout hisandherstory, all came to the same conclusion that consciousness is primary, at least as important as the apparent matter-energy-time-space display which we all apprehend.

How can an empiricist postulate that the only thing he/she as an empiricist can swear exists (consciousness), is merely a derivative of a physical brain which is not directly known to the empiricist who needs a surgeon to inspect his/her brain? Unscientific, yet scientists sometimes assume that their intuition is superior to that of other people who sense a Friendly Larger Presence. Let scientists be the first to have open minds!

Love to all,

Bill

 

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