(Robert Anton Wilson’s introduction to: Undoing Yourself With Energized Meditation and Other Devices by Christopher S. Hyatt, Ph.D.)
The one sure way to make yourself unpopular in the United States these days is to mention the fact that Christianity and Democracy have been among the worst disasters to ever befall the human race. Nonetheless, as all students of history know, Christianity has been the bloodiest and most destructive religion in the long career of fanaticism on this planet; although Liberals and Rationalists keep reminding us of that tragic record of the Religion of Love, few of them have cared to observe or remember the data on warfare collected by Harvard sociologist, Prof. Pitrim Sorokin. In Social and Cultural Dynamics, and other works, Sorokin documents beyond all doubt that democratic nations have been involved in more imperialistic wars, and have fought them with greater ferocity, than any other kinds of governments, from the dawn of civilization to the present. Oriental despotisms, absolute monarchies, even modern fascist and communist nations have all had heinous records of tyranny and general human oppression, but collectively they have been much less aggressive and war-like than the democracies, from ancient Athens to modern America.
The blood-thirsty nature of Christianity and Democracy — which is obvious, psychologically, if one listens even for a few minutes to a typical speech by Rev. Jerry Falwell or his good friend Ronald Reagan — is, of course, based on arrogance, megalomania and a deeprooted sense of total moral superiority to all non-Christian and non-Democratic peoples. But beyond that, the violent nature of Christian/Democratic countries is rooted in the singular delusion shared by both the Religion of Love and the Politics of Liberty. This delusion is the belief that human beings are born with some sort of metaphysical “free will” which makes them unique in the animal kingdom and only slightly less exalted than the gods themselves.
The “free will” fantasy is not a minor error, like thinking it is Tuesday when actually it is Wednesday. It is not even to be compared to a major intellectual blunder of the ordinary sort, like Marx’s notion that once a totalitarian “worker’s state” was created, it would then quickly and magically “wither away.” It is even more nefarious and pernicious than the medieval lunacy that imagined witches everywhere and burned over 10,000,000 women at the stake on the basis of hysteria, superstition and the kind of hearsay and rumor that no modern court would permit to be entered as evidence. The “free will” delusion is much more serious than any of that. It is the kind of radical 180-degree reversal of reality that, once it enters a person’s mind, guarantees that they will be incapable of understanding anything happening around them; they might as well be deaf, dumb, blind and wearing signs warning the world, “ULTIMATE DESTINATION: THE MADHOUSE.”
I do not speak flippantly, nor do I mean to be understood as writing satire or polemic. The facts of modern biology and psychology have demonstrated clearly and conclusively that 99 percent of the human race is in a robotic or zombi-like state 99.99999 percent of the time. This does not refer to “other people.” It refers to YOU AND ME. As the Firesign Theatre used to say, We’re all Bozos on this bus. The best that can be said of any of us, usually, is that we have occasional moments of lucidity, but that can be said of any schizophrenic patient.
EAST, WEST AND THE MIDDLE
In the Orient, which has its own idiocies and superstitions, there has always been a singular sanity about the “free will” myth: virtually without exception, all the great Oriental philosophers have recognized that donkeys, grass-hoppers, dolphins, toads, hummingbirds, dogs, chickens, tigers, sharks, gophers, spiders, chimpanzees, cobras, cows, lice, squid, deer, and humans are equally important, equally unimportant, equally empty, equally expressive of the “World Soul” or “Life Force.” Buddhism, Vedanta and Taoism also recognize that each of these clever animals just mentioned, including the humans, have about equally as much “free will” as flowers, shrubs, rocks and viruses, and that the human delusion of being separate from and superior to the rest of the natural order is a kind of narcissistic self-hypnosis. Awakening from that egotistic trance is the major goal of every Oriental system of psychology.
Opposing this Oriental recognition of, and submission to, the order of things as they are, and yet opposing also the Christian and Democratic delusions of “free will” and “individual responsibility,” there is the hidden tradition of Sufism in Islam and Hermeticism in Europe. This “occult” teaching recognizes that, although domesticated primates (humans) are born as mechanical as the wild primates (such as chimpanzees), there are techniques by which we can become less mechanical and approximate in daily and yearly increments toward freedom and responsibility.
These “spiritual” (neurological) techniques of Un-doing and rerobotizing oneself are, of course, of no interest in the Orient, where it is accepted that we are born robots and will die robots; and they are of even less interest in the Christian-Democratic cultures which assume that we are already free and responsible and do not have to work and work HARD to achieve even a small beginning of nonmechanical consciousness and non-robotic behavior.
The Orient forgives easily, because it does not expect robots to do anything else but what was programmed into them by the accidents of heredity and environment. The Christian and Democratic nations are so bloody-minded because they can forgive nothing, blaming every man and woman for whatever imprinted or conditioned behavior is locally Taboo. (This is why Nietzsche called Christianity “the Religion of Revenge” and Joyce described the Christian God as a Hanging Judge.) The Sufic and Hermetic traditions are almost Oriental in forgiving robots for being robots, but are far from sentimental about it. As one Sufi poet said:
The fool neither forgives nor forgets;
The half-enlightened forgive and forget;
The Sufi forgives but does not forget.
That is, Sufism and other Hermetic traditions recognize that robots will behave like robots, and does not “blame” them, but it also does not forget, for a moment or even a nanosecond, that we are living in a robotic world — “an armed madhouse” in the metaphor of poet Allen Ginsberg. Those of this tradition know that when a man spouts Christian and Democratic verbalisms that does not mean he will act with brotherly love at all, at all; he will go on acting like a badly-wired robot in most cases.
Sufism is only the largest of several Near Eastern and European “mystic” movements which recognize the robotry of ordinary humanity but, unlike the Orient, attempt to Un-do and de-robotize those who have a dawning apprehension of their mechanical state and sincerely want to become less mechanical, as far as that is possible. I am not writing a recruiting manual for Sufism (which is doing quite well without my advertisements): I am merely using the Sufi school as one example of the tradition to which this marvelous book, UNDOING YOURSELF, belongs.
Most readers, if they have encountered such ideas at all, probably identify them with Gurdjieff and Ouspensky, two of the most talented expositors of a school of neo-Sufism which they peddled under the brand name of “Esoteric Christianity.” The present book also owes a great deal to Aleister Crowley, who belonged to this tradition but sold his own brand of it under the label of Gnostic Magick. There is also a strong influence here of the bio-psychology of Wilhelm Reich; but all this tracing of “sources” is ultimately trivial. The importance of Christopher Hyatt’s work is what you can get out of it and that depends entirely on what you put into it.
IT WORKS, IF YOU WORK
In my travels, I often encounter people who somehow have gotten the wild idea that I am the Head of the Illuminati (actually, I am at most a toe-nail) and who want me to explain the Secrets of High Magick to them. (Although it is hard to restrain my sense of humor at such times, I usually resist the temptation to tell them they can achieve Total Illumination by singing “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” in pig Latin while standing on their heads.) The questions I am asked most often, by those who can ask something more specific than “What is The Secret?” are almost always about Crowley’s doctrine of the True Will. People tell me, most earnestly, that they have read ten or twenty or more of Crowley’s books, and have read them many times, and still do not understand what “True Will” means.
As Gurdjieff would say, “What does this question signify? It signifies that these people are walking in their sleep and only dreaming they are awake. That is what this question signifies.”
There is only one possible reason why people can read Crowley at length and not understand what True Will means. That reason seems incredible at first sight, but it is the only reason that can explain this astounding scotoma. The reason many readers of Crowley do not understand True Will is that these earnest students have never performed any of the exercizes that Crowley provides for those who sincerely want to de-robotize themselves and experience what is meant by True Will.
Shortly after my manual of de-mechanization exercizes, Prometheus Rising, was published, I was at a Cosmic Con with, among others, E.J. Gold of the Fake Sufi School. He told me that nobody would do any of the exercizes in my book, but I would still get lots of letters from people saying the book had “liberated” them. Since I sometimes think Sufis and even Fake Sufis are perhaps overly skeptical about humanity in its present evolutionary stage, I have made a point of asking people, when they praise that book in my presence, how many of the exercizes they’ve done.
Most people look faintly abashed and admit they have only done a “few” of the exercizes (which probably means they haven’t done any). However, some people claim to have done all or most of the exercizes, and these people generally look so delighted about the matter that I tend to believe them. I therefore conclude that the Sufi and Gurdjieff traditions are wrong in saying that 999 out of 1000 will never work on the techniques of liberation. Actually, it appears to be only around 987 out of 1000 who prefer to talk about the work rather than doing it. At least 13 out of every 1000 will actually do the exercizes.
I have decided that one of the reasons that most readers of selfliberation books never even make the effort to liberate themselves is that reading the books is actually a kind of superstitious “magick ritual,” which they think will have an effect with no other effort on their parts. The same sort of superstition leads others to think that peeking at the answers in the back of the book of logical puzzles is as beneficial as solving the puzzles for themselves; and there is even a text out now with the answers to Zen koans, as if the answers, and not the process of arriving at them, were the meaning of Zen.
Aside from such “symbolic magick” (as distinguished from real magick ritual, which is a type of Brain Change experiment), the main reason people prefer to read neurological exercizes rather than doing the exercizes is the dread and sheer horror which the word “work” invokes in most people. Some great teachers, especially Gurdjieff and Crowley, have literally frightened away thousands of would-be students by insisting on the necessity of HARD WORK (as I also frightened a lot of readers by using those words several times in this essay.)
Of course, there is a quite legitimate reason why the word “work” has such horrible conditioned associations for most people in the modern world. That reason is that most “work” in this age is stupid, monotonous, brain-rotting, irritating, usually pointless and basically consists of the agonizing process of being slowly bored to death over a period of about 40 to 45 years of drudgery; Marx was quite right in calling it “wage slavery.” Most people know this, but are afraid to admit it, because to dislike “work” is regarded as a symptom of Communism or some other dreadful mental illness.
I recently heard a politician admit on BBC that the reason English workers are so notoriously “lazy” is that their jobs are so unspeakably sub-human and dull. “If I had to do that kind of work, I would call in sick as often as possible and goof off at every chance,” he said flatly. Alas, I had tuned in late and never did catch this chap’s name, which is a terrible misfortune for me, since I suspect he is the only Honest Politician in the world.
It is this universal but repressed hatred of “work” that causes almost everybody to despise and persecute the unemployed. Almost everybody envies the folks of the dole (on Welfare, as you say in The States) because almost everybody secretly wishes they could escape their own jobs and live without working.
It has taken me decades to understand this, because I am part of that very fortunate minority who work at jobs we actually enjoy. (It is hard to make me stop working, as my wife will assure you.) The minority who actually loves its work seems to be made up chiefly of the writers, dancers, actors and other artists, most scientists above the technician-troll level, computer freaks, and the righteous dopedealers of California. Everybody else wishes they had the courage to go on the dole, but is ashamed of the stigma attached to being a non-worker, and resolves the tension by being as nasty as possible to the unemployed on every possible occasion.
HEY! CATCH THIS! A SECRET OF
THE ILLUMINATI REVEALED!
Here I want to let you in on a real Secret of the Illuminati, one that has never been published before.
The so-called “work” involved in Brain Change is not like ordinary “work” at all. It is more like the creative ecstasy of the artist and scientist, once you really get involved in doing it. Most people
are afraid of it only because they think “work” must be a curse and can’t imagine that “work” can be fun.
So it is best not to think of Energized Meditation as “work” at all, at least as you have experienced “work” in most of the world today. It might be better and more accurate to consider the EM exercizes as “play” than as “work.” Of course, play has its own rigours, and you do have to put energy into it to become a winner rather than a perpetual loser, but it is still entirely unlike the wage slavery that most people call “work.” In fact, to be blunt about it, it is more like sex-play than any other kind of play because it definitely unleashes energies that have erotic as well as therapeutic side-effects. You are a dunce if you avoid it just because you think anything that needs effort must be “work” in the sense that people in factories and offices are suffering from the curse of “work” in our society.
Think of it more in terms of your favorite sport or recreation—fishing or bird-watching or softball or whatever you do with passion and just for the excitement of it. If that kind of thing should not be called “play,” then I do not know what “play” means.
So when I wrote “Hard Work,” I was just trying to jar you into actually paying attention for once. I really should have said, for accuracy, Hard Play.
The second part of this Secret of the Illuminati is what I have called elsewhere Wilson’s 23rd Law. (Wilson’s First Law, of course, is “Certitude belongs exclusively to those who only own one encyclopedia.” Wilson’s Second Law is the Snafu Principle described in ILLUMINATUS: “Communication is only possible between equals.” All of Wilson’s Laws will be published when the world is ready for the staggering revelations contained therein.)
Wilson’s 23rd Law is:
Do it every day
This is the most profound of all the Secrets of the Illuminati and I have often been warned that Terrible Consequences will ensue if I reveal it prematurely, but—what the hell, these are parlous times, friend, and this primitive planet needs all the Light that can be unleashed on its dark, superstitious mind. Let me repeat, since I am sure you didn’t get it the first time:
Do it every day!
Have you ever wondered why Einstein became such a great physicist? It was because he loved the equations and concepts of mathematical physics so much that he “worked” on them—or played and tinkered with them—every day. That’s why Otto von Klemper became such a great conductor: he loved Beethoven and Mozart and that crowd so much that he practised his music every day. It’s why Babe Ruth became such a great ball-player: he loved the game so
deeply that he was playing or rehearsing every day.
This rule also explains, incidentally, how people destroy themselves.
Do you want to become a suicide (it’s the fashionable thing in some circles, after all)? Practise being depressed, worried and resentful every day, and don’t let anybody distract you with Energized Meditation or any other mind-change system. Do you want to land in jail on an assault and battery charge? Practise getting damned bloody angry every day. If you want to become paranoid, look carefully every day for evidence of treachery and duplicity around
you. If your ambition is to die young, do the depression-worryresentment system every day but center in especially on visualizing and worrying about every imaginable illness that might possibly
inflict itself upon you.
(On the other hand, if you want to live as long as George Burns, “work hard” every day at being as cheerful and optimistic as he is.)
Almost anything is possible if you
DO IT EVERY DAY
Of course, this rule does not guarantee 100 percent results. Playing Chopin on the piano every day for 4 or 5 decades does not mean you will become as good as Van Cliburn; it merely means that you eventually will be a better piano player than anybody in your home state. Worrying every day does not absolutely guarantee a clinical depression or an early death, but after only a few years it does ensure you will be one of the three or four most miserable people in your neighborhood. Writing a sonnet every day for twenty years may not necessarily make you Shakespeare or Mrs. Browning, but it will make you the best poet for an area of about forty to fifty miles, probably. Doing Energized Meditation or similar exercizes does not mean you will be a Perfectly Enlightened Being or a Guru in a few years, just that you will be a great deal happier and a hell of a lot more perceptive, creative and “intuitive” than most people you’ll meet in an average city.
There is a story that Bobbie Fisher, the chess champion, was once in a room with other chess masters when the conversation turned to the latest nuclear accident and the effects of the resultant fall-out. Fisher listened impatiently for a few minutes and then exclaimed irritably, “What the hell does that have to do with chess?” While I am not urging that you imitate that degree of monomania or obsession, there is a significant lesson in this tale. The reason Fisher became a champion is that he cared so much about chess that he did not even have to nag himself or remind himself to do it every bloody day.
THREATS TO THE PRIMATE EGO
Unfortunately—while the Energized Meditation system is fun, and erotic, and makes you “smarter” (in the sense of more aware of detail and complexity), and even jolts you out of total mammalian reflex behavior into something approximating in slow but definite increments toward that mystic “free will” Christians claim you were given at birth, and I recommend it heartily—I must admit that there are pages coming up shortly in this book that will probably make you extremely uncomfortable.
Dr. Hyatt is a rude, insulting and deliberately annoying writer. He does not soothe or pacify the reader with the Christian and Democratic mythology of our society by pretending that we are all
free and rational people here. He insists on reminding us, every few pages, in the most blunt language possible, that most of us most of the time are conditioned chimpanzees in a cage.
Don’t let it worry you too much.
The situation is this: there are mechanical systems operating throughout the domesticated primate (human) organism, each on different levels. For instance, as Bucky Fuller liked to say, you never sit down and ask how many hairs you should sprout on your head and body in the next week: that is one of the thousands of biological programs that operate entirely on mechanical circuitry. Except in various systems of yoga, you do not have much control over your breathing, either: that is also an auto-pilot. The digestive-excretive circuits also operate with a minimum of conscious attention or strategy, except when you need to find a public toilet and the bars are all closed. (Make a list of ten more programs that keep you alive and functioning, over which you have never had any conscious control. Be one of the 13 readers out of a thousand who actually do it before reading on.)
The reason that mystics and certain other psychologists are always “attacking” the ego is that the ego is the one mechanical circuit that suffers chronically from the illusion that it is non-mechanical and “free.”
The ego and its delusions must be undermined—either attacked openly and bluntly, as in the Gurdjieff system and this book, or subverted more subtly and slowly, as in certain other systems—before any real progress can be made toward “liberation,” “enlightenment,” “finding IT,” discovering the “True Will” in Crowley’s sense, or whatever is your favorite term for becoming less robotic and more aware—less the computer and more the programmer of the computer—less the conditioned rat in the Behaviorist’s maze and more the Beyond-Human that the Sufic-Hermetic traditions and Neitzsche have predicted.
The main reason you shouldn’t be afraid of this attack on your precious little ego is that the ego is infinitely resourceful and finds ways to sneak back into its habitual mechanical trance no matter how many times you think you have Awakened once and for all. This is another Secret of the Illuminati and explains the great humility and the keen sense of humor of all the genuine Mages. In other words, if you think it is scary to lose your precious primate ego abruptly and forever, don’t worry about that; it is no more likely than becoming the world’s greatest Rock star tomorrow morning. The only real way to get loose from mechanical ego trips is to learn several ego-transcending games and then for twenty or forty years or longer DO THEM EVERY DAY.
Before you put that much effort and time into it, you need not worry that your wonderful, precious and totally marvelous Ego will go away suddenly, it will merely get transformed a bit,
“enlarged” in perspective and “reduced” in conceit (a little), freed from some of its more idiotic habits, and it will even pretend to go away at times, but it will always come back and usually at the most embarrassing times. It’s easier to assassinate the President of the United States than to kill your own ego.
500 micrograms of pure Sandoz LSD will “destroy” the ego more totally than any of the EM exercizes in this book—atom bomb it out of existence, as it were. The results even in that case, as all old acid-heads will assure you, are, however spectacular, always temporary. As Dr. John Lilly wrote in Programming and Metaprogramming in the Human Biocomputer, after a heavy trip on genuine laboratory Acid,
For a time, the self then feels free, cleaned
out. The strength gained can be immense; the
energy freed is double . . . Humor appears in
abundance, good humor… Beauty is enhanced,
the bodily appearance becomes youthful . . .
These positive effects can last as long as two to
four weeks before reassertion of the old programs
We are the products of mechanical genetic programs, mechanical imprints and mechanical conditioning, just like the other animals. The progress to post-animal, non-mechanical and trans-ego freedom is often rapidly accelerated for a period, or several periods, of sudden
flash-like Awakenings and post-human perspectives, and I personally suspect that is happening increasingly under the stress of our age of terrorism and accelerated evolutionary change, but the ultimate result of a true transcendence of robot consciousness is approached in slow increments over years and decades. (Total “freedom” from mechanism on all circuits seems impossible to me, in my current level of ignorance. I don’t think the organism would survive if most of it did not remain a smooth-running and unconscious machine.)
E.J. Gold of the Fake Sufi School, mentioned earlier, has a saying to the effect that the attempt to achieve total Transcendence of mechanical ego programs is as absurd as “sticking toothpicks between your eyelids to be sure you never go to sleep for a moment.”
There seem to be genuine biological reasons why we need to spend about one third of our lives asleep and a large part of the other two-thirds half-entranced by mechanical conditioned processes. The purpose of all schools of liberation is to wake up fully often enough to have some perspective outside the sleeping and conditioned ego states.
WHAT “IS” ALL THIS?
The great Dublin scientist and philosopher, de Selby, once took an empty jam jar and filled it with all the small cruddy items he could find around the house. The fuzz that accumulates on carpets, the dust on book shelves, bent paperclips, broken staples, the grunge from bathtub rings, grotty kitchen encrustations, nameless shards of forgotten plaster statues long broken, archaeological excavations from the cellar, miscellaneous delvings in the rubbish bin, torn covers of match books scrawled with inscrutable phone numbers, even belly-button lint, all went in. This was a labour of some weeks, and when it was finished even de Selby himself could not remember or classify the total contents of the jar. He then selected a statistical universe of 123 Dubliners and 246 visitors form England or the Continent just off the Dun Laoghaire ferry and asked each to guess what the jar contained.
77.6 percent of the sample answered at once, “Oh, I know, it is ” and then made some wild guess. (The most common guess, given by 54.3 percent, was that it “was” the stuff mixed into the curry sauce in Pakistani restaurants. Others commonly said it “was” uranium ore, wood cement and tree bark.)
Of the 22.4 percent who did not guess what it “was,” 83.5 percent immediately asked the directions to Clontarf Castle and presumably did not want to guess because they were in hurry to catch the evening Musical show.
De Selby concluded that most Europeans, at this stage of evolution, believe that everything and anything can meaningfully be described in a simple proposition in the form, “This is a thingamajig.”
I believe, on the basis of experience, that similar results would be found in an American sample of the same size. We are still haunted by the ghost of Aristotle, the bloke who first tried to describe and explain the whole universe in permutations of sentences having the form, This is a Y, All Z are Y, Some Y are X, therefore some Z are X.
Most people, and especially most politicians and clergymen, remain firmly convinced that anything and everything can be meaningfully discussed in that Aristotelian manner—or as Ernest Fenollosa once said, Western culture thinks that “A ring-tailed baboon is not a Constitutional Assembly” is one of the two types of meaningful statements (the other being “The U.S. Congress and U.K. Parliament are Constitutional Assemblies.”)
From the point of view of current science, c. 1980-87, there appear to be two things wrong with this Aristotelian mind-set. In the first place, scientific models are not expressed in this metaphor of identity (A is a B) but in the functional language of relationships (When A moves an increment of x in any dimension, B will move an increment of y in some other dimension.) The latter type of functional statement allows for scientific predictions, which can be partially verified or totally refuted by experience and experiment; the former, Aristotelian type of is-ness statement leads only to verbal argument.
The second objection to Aristotelian A is a B statements is that they appear totally contradicted by neurology and experiments with instruments. Neurologically, we never know what A “is,” but what it appears to our senses and brain. The senses pick up some (not all) the signals of the space-time event and the brain edits and orchestrates these signals into some familiar Gestalt. (This seems to be how de Selby’s subjects edited and orchestrated a jar full of junk into Pakistani sauce or uranium ore.) Instrumentally, the same editing goes on. An instrument does not tell us what A “is” but what class of signals from A that particular instrument can measure. A voltmeter tells us nothing about the temperature of A, a thermometer tells us nothing about the height of A, a ruler or scale tells us nothing about the molecular structure of A, etc.—each instrument creates its own gloss or reality-tunnel, just as our inner instruments (brain and perceptors) create a gloss or reality-tunnel. To speak accurately, we should never say “This ‘is’ an A,” but, rather, “This seems to fit the category of A in my system of glossing or in this instrument’s reality-tunnel.”
Does this sound like pedantry or unnecessary hair-splitting? Consider for a moment the human suffering and social catastrophes that have been unleashed in various times and places by such statements as “Miss Jones is a witch,” “Mr. Smith is a homosexual,” “Mr. Goldberg is a Jew,” “This book is heretical,” “This painting or photo is pornography.” If you think about this deeply enough, it might almost appear that the Catholic witch-hunts, most idiotic censorship, Hitler’s annihilation camps and quite a few other historical horrors never would have happened if we had no words for “is” in our languages, or if we remembered that “is” always functions as a metaphor.
Most of the guilt and “chronic low-grade emergency” (as Fritz Perls called it) which keeps you from realizing your full potential can usually be traced to some sentence having the form “I am a B” in which B equals roughly “no-good shit.” That sentence got conditioned into you when you were very young and you may not think it consciously any more, or you may well think it and even say it aloud frequently, but if you feel basically unhappy with your life some such sentence exists somewhere in your brain.
Even is-ness sentences that seem factual contain dangers due to the mechanical-conditioned level of most human consciousness on this planet at this time. “He is a homosexual” may appear a safe remark when heard in a Group Encounter session, or at a San Francisco cocktail party, but in the Bible Belt, “homosexual” contains the conditioned association of “sinner” and particularly nefarious “sinner” at that, and it is not unknown for violence or even murder to result from this is-ness sentence, just as “Jew” seems to be a neutral label for one of three major religions of the West but in Nazi Germany signified somebody subject to arrest, slave labor and eventual execution.
I read recently in a science-fiction fan magazine, “The Irish really are disgusting.” Leaving aside my own mechanical prejudices (as a person of partially Irish genetic structure who lives by preference in Ireland) the most fascinating thing about this is-ness statement seems to me that it occurred in a publication where one would never see such semantically isomorphic statements as “The Jews really are sub-human” or “Women really are inferior to men.”
To quote Mr. G. again, “What does this signify? It signifies that most people are walking in their sleep and dreaming they are awake.” That is, certain historically infamous types of racial or sexual stereotypes have become unfashionable and virtually Taboo in “educated” circles, but the mechanical conditioned reactions underlying such stereotypes still exist, the machine is still asleep, in Gurdjieff’s terms, so people who would not stereotype Jews see nothing inconsistent in stereotyping the Irish or the Poles or some other group. In a mechanical or primitive stage of evolution, this cannot be considered surprising.
What does still surprise me (occasionally) is that people who can see this mechanical level of functioning in others can remain blissfully oblivious of the same mechanisms in themselves.
One way to understand Energized Meditation, and simultaneously grasp the significance of what I have just been saying about Aristotelian habits, is to apply mathematical subscripts to significant nouns in the manner urged by the semanticist, Alfred Korzybski. For instance, the Nazi mentality consists of something like
Jew1= Jew2 = Jew3 = Jew4 etc.
Now this is obviously false to sensory-sensual space-time experience. In sensory-sensual space-time experience—or what we ordinarily call “reality” if we haven’t been ruined by philosophy courses—every Jew we meet is a specific event in the space-time continuum. The first may be a poet, the second an actress, the third a grocer, etc. if we place this group in the gloss of category-by-occupation. Put them in the category of good looks, and the first may seem as handsome as Paul Newman, the second as unhandsome as Edward G. Robinson, the third as cute as Barbra Streisand, etc. Put them in any other grid, and differences still emerge, just as there are no two leaves on an oak tree that are exactly the same in all respects.
Don’t go back to sleep yet; hang in there a moment. We are not preaching a sermon on “tolerance” like a 1950s Hollywood movie. We are just using anti-semitism as an example of a mechanical mental set that illuminates many, many other mechanical mental sets that you are going to have to recognize in yourself if Energized Meditation is to do you any good.
For instance, at the beginning, for the shock effect, I said some critical things about Christianity and Democracy. If you drew the conclusion that I dislike all aspects of Christian and Democratic society, you had a mechanical “is” somewhere in your evaluations. In fact, I would much rather live in Christian Democratic nations, for all their faults, than in any of the Moslem Fundamentalist nations or Buddhist nations, and I would rather be gored by a rhinoceros than try to live in a Marxist nation. As for fascist nations, whether I tried to cope or not, I rather suspect they would shoot me in a few months, if not in the first week.
If the Nazi mentality acts “as if Jew(n) = Jew(k) or any Jew is “the same” as any other Jew, people who seem a lot more sophisticated often act “as if any Rock music = any other Rock music (it “is” all equally wonderful or equally “barbarous”)/ or any science fiction novel = any other science fiction novel (the book critics in Time seem to have that mechanical conditioned reflex), or “all television should be abolished” (there was a book on that subject recently, in which the author seriously seemed to have the Nazi-like hallucination that TV shown = TV showk), or any cop = any other cop, or any fast food place is as “bad” as any other fast food place, etc.
Mechanical reactions are the statistical norm; full conscious attention remains very rare. (That’s why one Zen Master always gave the answer “Attention!” when he was asked what Zen “is.”) We started from that unChristian and unDemocratic premise and we have worked our way back to it by a circuitous route, but now perhaps we can see more clearly what this mechanical A=B hypnosis does to us.
We have been using examples of difference between elements of the “same” group, but no element remains unchanged in time. Consider yourself as an element, X, in the group “humanity.” It should be obvious that
X(1987) is not X(1976)
You have changed quite a bit in the last ten years, have you not? If people weren’t in the habit of calling you by the same name, you might not even “believe” that the You of today “really is” in some sense the You of 1976. In fact, if you can forget your name for a few moments, the entity or more precisely the space-time event called You obviously was changing, sometimes faster and sometimes more slowly all through the decade. If you are more than 20 years old, just think of how absurd it would be to claim that the You of 1986 “really is” the You of 1966 …
Think about this seriously. It would be a damned good idea, right now, to make a list of ten important changes that have occurred in “You” since 1966 and ten changes since 1976. Is it too much trouble to get a paper and pen? Well, at least make a list in your head. Can you even visualize what you looked like and dressed like in 1966? Really think hard about some of the other changes in You over 20 years.
Now, to understand what this book can do for you, try to apply this awareness on a smaller time-scale. Is it possible that You(last week) “really is” in every respect You(this week)? Alas, this may almost seem possible, but it is not strictly true unless you have died and they pickled you in formaldehyde.
Think, really, about the changes in “You” in one week. How many more changes could have occurred in that week, if You did not have the illusion that You are a finished product and not a Work in Progress?
Keep at it. Think seriously about whether it is strictly and totally true that You(yesterday) really is You(today).
When you get to the point of understanding that You(one second ago) is not strictly You(right here and now), then you are ready to begin to understand what Christopher Hyatt is offering you in this book and how you can use it.
17 November 1986