(Sent to a friend in India, cc two friends in US.)
Ask the right question, in the right spirit, and there may be some hope for you."
There have been many teachers of enlightenment -- and many in the West, in India and in China.
Only in recent years have "I" come to know a decent share of those from China,
but I made sure to know of those in the West and many from India long ago.
This week I have mused -- there is some similarity of feeling about Krishnamurthi and Emerson.
Perhaps it is a great tragedy that Americans today are far less aware of Emerson than they were..
even so recently as when I was young.
But older and in some ways deeper teachers in India and the US spent a lot of time trying to map out... things like stages
of enlightenment. For example... this house I am typing in, at 5AM on Saturday, was purchased from Sohini Patel,
whose family were aryuveda healers to the Ghandi family. I have an obscure book here about an unusual Irish woman who
acted as a spiritual teacher to Mohatma Ghandi in his earlier years, after learning many things about the middle
yogic tradition in India...
Such people would talk a lot about rising from the mundane level, to the etheric level, to the causal level, to the mental level,
to the cosmic consciousness level, to the soul level, and so on, always trying to raise
one's plane of consciousness and being and life. In a way, it was like the series of chakras. With these levels and these chakras,
it seemed very odd to me. "What is going on?," I wondered. How can one really probe and experience the authentic human energy and experience
which these things represent, and how can one make sense of them in terms of more reliable understanding in the spirit of first person science?
One way to achieve a truer understanding... is to use some careful analogies. In the old Western esoteric traditions, there is
a famous saying "As above, so below." It is important, and easier to connect to scientific thinking than those levels and chakras.
Using analogies... we see some kinds of stages of development, growth and learning in ordering, mundane
exoteric life. Piaget has described some stages and ideas about stages. (His idea of stages survives better in psychology
than the specific things he proposed. What he proposed was only a crude beginning for us today. However, since he took
a kind of scientific approach, however limited, his work had the great value of helping us rise and do better. May it become so for
those yogic traditions as well!) Erickson, in describing the psychology of adolescents, has done some mapping as well.
Such roadmaps of stages can never be completely reliable... but they can be useful. They can be of use in trying to map out
paths to greater spiritual enlightenment.
In my Confucius talk and IJCNN11 paper, I stress a particular level or watershed in the development of the full personality
which may be called "sanity" or "integrity" or "ubermenshhood." It is only one stage, not the highest or the ultimate.
Yet even as limited as it is, it is not so common on this crude early jungle of a planet. People who have not reached it
often get elements of awareness of later stages. One of the most important things people could do to create progress
in this world today, as important as $400/kg access to low earth orbit, would be creation of a situation where many, many people
truly attain this particular level of consciousness and self-awareness. If it is truly attained, with enough grounding
in scientific understanding, there will be no trouble in seeing how it is equivalent to the real core of all three
older concepts I named above. I have some hope that the leading Confucius Institute might play some role in this.
BUT... let me draw an analogy to the state of neural network research. Most of my struggles today
involve trying to educate people to understand and implement certain levels of intelligence --
"vector intelligence" or "spatial intelligence" (the next level up form vector intelligence). But in my own
thinking and understanding, I am much further along, up to multimodular and quantum intelligence.
Likewise, this "integrity"step is just a beginning. For me... the process of attaining it was from age 15 to 17,
roughly. Age 24 was when I reached what Gopal Krishna of kundalini yoga reached... and life goes on.
We all can learn... faster and better if we have a solid basis in sanity and integrity to work from.
And now... in my life... the most important spiritual practice... is perhaps the "cosmic consciousness"
activity circa 3-4 AM.... which I grew into many years ago.
The simple slogan "be true to yourself" (from a Confucian origin, if any specific origin in history)...
is a nice watchword for achieving that first simple level.
The sentence at the top of this email is a nice watchword for rising from the preparatory stage
of cosmic consciousness to the more solid and real stage of it. The sentence can be understood
usefully and constructively at a more mundane level, of course. That is probably how
you read it the first time. But it has a special meaning when you raise your mind beyond the mundane
level... to some kind of calm ocean of greater consciousness... and when your inner life is ready to rise up and stop bobbing like
a mindless cork floating on the surface of that ocean... and become more of an active real part of that living ocean.
I have known this for many years, but it is one of things I have some duty to put on paper before we let
the process of ordinary aging overwhelm us.
At some point, we should discuss some of the Western schools for trying to raise people's level
of spiritual evolution. At least until recently, for many centuries, I would say that the
Rosicrucian school was the most serious lead school. (The last decade or two has become
somewhat fractured in the West... as has happened a number of times in the West,
on again off again, for millennia.)
I remember the time in the late 1970's when I cam across a short and deceptively simple looking
leaflet on what that school is about. I was intrigued by their comment that the emphasis or strategy of that
particular school was to try to develop a solid basis in understanding, first (as well as some ethical
foundations), before going too far into areas like esoteric exercises and experience, which can easily go awry
if they are pursued without that kind of foundation. At times, they spoke about choosing
"the right hand path" over the dangerous and impatient "left hand path."
The more scientifically grounded approach I am hoping for and proposing now is basically just an extension
of that same concept...
But: thank you for your patience, if you have read this far. I have been typing for almost an hour, and it is time
for me to join my family here (my brother John lives in New Jersey) to go on a boat trip in Maryland...
Best of luck,
I am tempted to add just a little about some of the Chinese traditions
I have learned more about lately -- and have still more to learn about.
For example, I am grateful to the Confucius Institute for informing me that
the word in Chinese for integrity is "zhengqi." This simple fact is worthy of an essay in itself.
This simple fact reminds me of Karl Pribram's book on Freud, where he reminds us
that Freud uses the word "ego" to mean several very different but related things.
It is easy to understand how Freud felt about those things, and why he did it... but to understand clearly the more scientific meaning of Freud's work, we do need
to sort out and get past that ambiguity. Here, I would say that
basic integrity and properly balanced qi are closely related, but not exactly the same. I was very happy to learn how the balance of qi is understood and recognized
in the very strongest foundation of cure Confucianism, and that they kept a kind
of eagle statue on the main desk for so many centuries...
In a way, integrity ... is actually a multistage process. Crudely, it starts with a right concept or set of axioms (as in my IJCNN11 paper)... and proceeds, when implemented, to a more rational flow of backpropagation signals at all levels of the personality, both mundane and spiritual. Much later, as awareness grows,
to include all of these signals to some degree (we are never even fully aware of
ALL that hits our retina!)... there is even some self-conscious effort and ability to
try to maintain their accuracy.
Enough. Now I must really "run".