Continuing Praise for David Brooks at ARF, and Holosentience

I’ve long been bemused by the fact that some people really love my book FREEING CREATIVE EFFECTIVENESS, while others seem to stare at it uncomprehendingly, not knowing what category to put it in.

I myself have struggled to put the book in a category since there were no other books in that category. Or, at least, not since the Vedanta Sutra around 200 BC, and not until David Brooks’ THE SOCIAL ANIMAL, which I am now reading. I was drawn in by the uncanny similarities I discerned between our books during the most valuable Keynote I’ve ever heard at a conference — David’s Keynote at the recent Advertising Research Foundation (ARF) Audience Measurement Symposium (AMS) 6.0, the world’s largest annual audience measurement conference.

Now there are two modern books in the category. The category is about looking inside to learn the right adjustments to become a truer you — the you that was born, sans a lifetime of fear-driven conditioning.

David draws his sources from the latest psychology research especially the brain frontier and its integration with classical psychological pattern observations. When I did my first brain experiments within the advertising field and U.S. military in the early 80s, I saw that the mapping of inner/outer experiences to parts of the brain in specific states was going to explode soon. And it has.

Back in the day I had the honor of working with Daniel Goleman and Richard Davidson, former Harvard Psychobiology professors who had been at Harvard with Leary and Alpert. Richie has gone on to lead a large portion of the cutting edge brain research and is highly respected by every brain scientist I’ve met. Dan is best known for his best-selling EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE series.

Why don’t I put Dan’s books in the category of looking inside to learn the right adjustments to become a truer you? It’s because I have a larger division in my mind between books that show theory (“descriptive”) versus books that are specifically meant to be used as a manual of techniques (“prescriptive”). I made my manual fun by a sort of neopoetic style and parsing that I find also singles out ideas. David made his book fun by making it a love story. But I feel David’s motivations are similar to mine — a chance to improve everyone’s lives. All they need is equipoise — the ability to objectively look inside and make little acts of will in daring to follow one’s dreams with love and humility.

The two books agree in that. David’s is more descriptive, mine more prescriptive — and still somewhat unique in its emphasis on practical application of very specific techniques that have been proven to work by my own experience, and by a few thousand readers who wrote in to attest to positive results from reading my book.

David cites the actual experiments that are the basis for the way he makes his characters act. Although there is some experimental and fact-based grounding to my book, it exists within a seamless synthesis of brain research with psychoanalysis, 6000 years of inner observation findings and prescriptions summarized in pithy “sutras”, and all the other books I read in the 70s — but mostly from observing my own inner experience for my entire life.

As early as I can remember, I was fascinated more with what went on in my mind and soul than what went on outside. Long before I knew the words, I was often in a state of contemplation, concentration, or meditating. Ideas sprang into my mind that I found myself writing. I was keeping track of my own observations because from what I heard adults saying, it was apparent they would not know what I was talking about.

In my teens I found psychology, esoteric psychology/philosophy, and in my 20s, yoga. I started by trying to put together for myself a science by which I could intelligently predict my own behavior and understand its dynamics, causes and effects.

Soon after college, my career in media research — because it involved computers (in the 60s) — gave me the ability to see the mind through the lens of what computers do. Media research further allowed me to ground my ideas in the stable patterns and slow changes in population behaviors, brain function, attitude shift, cognitive science, and behavioral econometrics, and introduced me to the idea of optimization, which I instantly decided to apply internally.

Out of all of these fuzzy sources comes the theory of Holosentience. It’s amusing that after I thought I had coined this term, I Googled it and found a reference to the light-based doctor in the Star Trek megaseries. He called himself a holosentience, I recall that now. Well, I’m not going to change the name of the theory.

Here is the essence of my theory of Holosentience:

  1. We have a true self that is stitched into the fabric of the Universe. Whatever the Universe is, that’s the same as what the true self is. Our true self is who we are when we were born. It is the root and substrate of our existence, our being, who we are, our true identity, our essence — it is the most real thing about us in the sense of quantum physics reality. We experience it as an observer — it is an observer. It is consciousness, which we define as “that which experiences”.
  2. From pre-birth we begin to program our brain. Every conscious experience creates proteins in the brain — nerve tissue encoded with meanings derived from those experiences. Association areas take form, clusters of related experiences. Programs are written — true software — that inhabit the brain and begin to share control of motor functions with the true self. You do things you seem to not be able to stop yourself from doing. The classical name for this phenomenon is Ego. It is trying to protect you, trying to be helpful like Bill Gates’ Paperclip-being, is still doing things you now have long since forgotten you told it to do, and is in all ways doing what a robot does, acting on its programming. I call this part the software layer or Robot.
  3. Some of this programming needs to be removed, and you have to use what David calls equipoise — objective introspection and small acts of will — to gradually remove it. It does not leave easily. A lot of my book is about how to track down those behaviors and expose them to yourself for what they are. Because there are different centers in this software stemming back to different traumas and extraordinary experiences, in my book I use the term “Senators” to point out that we actually have different selves — although these are not our true self but rather copies of other people who made impressions on our software. David again echoes the idea of not one but many different selves, though he does not point out that they are all within a Robot layer apart from the true self.

There are three broad states of the foregoing Theory of Holosentience, which are not covered in THE SOCIAL ANIMAL:

  1. Emergency Oversimplification Procedure (EOP) — where we are now due to Acceleritis. Acceleritis is not new to today’s obvious-frenetic culture, it actually started 6000 years ago with seeable language. The individual is not processing out the counterproductive programs — that whole part of life is put on hold. There is little if any equipoise. People are not open to objectively considering their own flaws, they are too scared to admit they have any flaws. There is low effectiveness to decision making, action is mistimed, there is little grace and even less inspiration. The world as we see it aggregately — wars, Havenotism, selfish ignoble behavior all around. Creativity is being channeled negatively. In the presence of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) and a deteriorating environment and what appear to be permanent systemic challenges emerging in the economic system, it is quite possibly critical to the human race to get out of EOP asap. I feel that David and I are hoping to make a difference there.
  2. Observer State. There is a detachment of the true self from the software or Robot layer such that there is an arc gap, where the true self is able to objectively see what the software layer is doing. David calls this equipoise. The last great psychologist to urge us to introspect was William James. He was on the right track. Much of the inner work done in the East and in esoteric Western enclaves relates to simple (hah!) deconditioning of the counterproductive programs in the software layer. Decision making in the Observer State is much more effective because of objectivity and truthfulness. Self-protective defensiveness yields to greater clarity. Pragmatism becomes natural and automatic.
  3. Flow State. Instead of detachment of the true self from the software layer, they are a perfectly integrated team. Typically during well-practiced, deeply-known activities, from one’s highest work to sex, from spiritual experience to athletics, the Flow State comes to us as a gift. David calls this Moments of Transcendence and Self Forgetfulness. I understand the Self Forgetfulness part in that there is no subject-object division in Flow State, it is all just doing itself and is of one piece. David uses the word “lost” — “an athlete lost in sport, a believer lost in God’s love, lost in love for one another… the conscious mind disappears.” I would say instead that the chattering mind — part of the software layer — subsides, but that all minds are present (“Holosentience”) during Flow State, they are simply not dwelling on their selfdom in the usual EOP subliminally anxious way. Perhaps David is hewing to his theme of rational versus unconscious — where he is advocating a shift to include the unconscious in a more balanced way, including emotions and values. There are obviously ten places where David and I agree for every one where we might differ. In fact I doubt that we would differ once we mapped our maps together.

For a fun and mind-opening read get THE SOCIAL ANIMAL.

If you like it, try FREEING CREATIVE EFFECTIVENESS next. (After all, it comes with a money-back guarantee. 😀 ) It is also mind-opening and spends more time on the “how to” of it — though as John Ziegler said, “[the book] seems to do it TO you. IT works. YOU don’t.”

Best to all,