An Astral Envelope

Once again I’m working with my friend Will.

Our telepathic dialogues have extended to a deeper and more fascinating level than ever before.  He tells me that he is finding it so much easier to communicate now he is freed from having to use words (his ‘second language’), while I am finally trusting and accepting the messages from him without tying myself to dowsing them letter by letter over my computer keypad.  I do write down all I can in a notebook, though, doing the best I can at transcribing the ineffable into my first language so that I have a record of it.

One of the communication methods we’ve developed is to use ‘astral envelopes’.  They work roughly like this:  when he has huge concepts he wants to share with me, I’m told to yawn a few times, relax my body, close my eyes and wait.  After a few seconds I start to experience colours, shapes, images and feelings.  Sometimes I’m pulled gently in different directions.  Sometimes the whole thing plays out as a mind movie.  I just wait for whatever comes and then report back what I experience.  Will then helps me to put together the experiences from the ‘envelope’ to allow me to understand his message.  The one I’m sharing with you today took two long sessions to work through but was well worth the effort.

Here is what I initially wrote about my experience:

First I saw red – deep blood red – on a flat base low down.  Someone was picking at its surface or maybe digging into it.  Then the focus moved higher.  If the first part was at ground level this would have been on top of a hill.  Someone had a pole or similar and was placing it in first one direction, then another, trying to find the right or best place for it.  Next the scene moved up again, into the sky, maybe.  There was a cloud – very full – and it poured something on to the ground.  Not rain.  It was more like light or vibrations.  The whole thing was a sort of cycle.

Sometimes Will goes on to explain the images I have formed in my mind but on this occasion he wanted me to try to interpret it.  I had very little idea.  I suspected that the red base represented the human body, but couldn’t work out what the digging/picking was.  Here’s an extract from our telepathic conversation:

W: You’re right that it was a disturbance – preventing it from being flat.

J:   You mean it needs to be shaken up a bit?

W: In a way, but not exactly that.  The marks made on it are significant.

J:   Who makes the marks?

W: It can be anybody, but they have to be made or the life is wasted.

J:   As I reread it, the Buddhist term ‘samskara’ came into my head but I’m not sure what it means.  Something to do with scars?

W: If you got that term, it is your higher consciousness alerting you to the true meaning of the message.  Earthly experience makes these scars – mental and physical and emotional – that we need.  They become etched on to our Selves.

(I later looked up samskara and it is a very close match to Will’s explanation.)

I asked him about the next part of the scene.

W: Yes, that was at a higher level.  It is making the placement of the scars go the way they will be of maximum benefit.

J:   Like a puppet master controlling us?

W: Not controlling.  More overseeing the overall effect.  The overseeing guides allow us to make sense of the etchings.  Without that, they would be random scratches.  The poles/lines you saw them using turn the scratches into works of art.  They can work on this through people’s intuition, via channels or in dreams.  They orchestrate the life.

Finally I asked about the cloud at the highest level.  I saw it as divine light raining down and nourishing us.

W: Yes, you were at the level of Source there.  This is where the pains/scars are washed away once we have seen and understood the images they formed.  We do not need to take the scars with us into the rest of life/other lives if we have integrated the messages they give us.  We only hold them while they have something to tell us that we haven’t grasped.

After thanking him for the insights he had shared and somehow managed to transmit to me with such beauty and clarity, I had one more question.

J:   Will, how do you KNOW this stuff?

W: I don’t know how NOT to know it.  I just feel in touch with all the layers.  You are too, really.  You just don’t know that you are.

Many years ago I was a specialist teacher helping Will, as a little child, master verbal communication.  Now he is repaying me by teaching me his primary form of communication – the one he feels most comfortable with.  What a gift!

Cracked Vessels – Letting in the Light?

Today I’d like to share what I can only haltingly call a vision, and the synchronicities and trains of thought associated with it.

Let me give you some context:  I had been in deep discussion with a couple of friends about my experiences as a teacher.  I’ll diverge into a brief ‘then and now’ to give you a flavour of those times…

Around half a century ago, when I was training to become a teacher, a debate was raging in educational circles.  Should children arriving in full-time education be seen as ‘vessels to be filled’ or ‘candles to be lit’?  A report by Lady Plowden and her committee – the go-to document of the time – concluded the latter, and I embarked enthusiastically on my chosen career as a lighter of small candles.

Today, of course, any such discussion is rotting beneath some long forgotten carpet, where it was swept several decades ago.  I quietly left the educational establishment and set up shop in an alternative teaching and mentoring setting when it became clear that the balance had settled firmly on the side of the empty vessels, to be crammed with as much junk knowledge as was deemed necessary to prevent troublesome teachers and students from having time to encourage or indulge in creativity, imagination and critical thinking.

Somewhere in the middle of all that, when the swing towards the ’empty vessels’ model was firmly in motion but before the quality of independent writing was judged by the number of similes, metaphors and examples of personification a child could cram into each paragraph, or obscure aspects of grammar guaranteed never to enhance or crop up in any aspect of life were stuffed into the minds of ten year olds, I found myself quite unexpectedly teaching in a specialist provision for children with speech and language difficulties.  It was this time of my life I had been considering as I went to bed on Friday night.

I was in that hypnogogic state, poised between waking and dreaming, when the ‘vision’ (what else can I call it?) appeared.  I saw containers – vases, perhaps or maybe orbs or bottles.  Each was cracked in its own individual way. some had a maze of hairline cracks, others a single fault line.  What fascinated me, though, was that through every fissure, a dazzling light was shining.  The light was not visible through the solid parts of the containers, just through the places where the cracks allowed it to appear.

“Remember this!” someone or something was telling me.  “It’s important!  Don’t let the image drift away.”

I lay for some time, trying to commit what I had seen to memory, toying with the idea of turning on the bedside lamp and attempting to write or draw it, but the helpful something in my ear assured me that I’d get more clarity through dreaming about it, so that’s what I did.

By Saturday morning I had an idea of what the vision had been about.  It was, as you may well have guessed, an image stemming from my sad thoughts about the ’empty vessels’ – the hapless children in our education system who day after day are ‘filled’ with largely pointless facts and knowledge, despite the sterling efforts of teachers to sugar the pill.  The cracked vessels represented the youngsters with what are variously called ‘special needs’, ‘additional needs’ or those with otherwise non-standard perception and cognition.

 

My teaching career increasingly nudged me towards a fascination and delight in working with those judged to be on the autistic spectrum or with some form of communication difficulty in the written, spoken or receptive aspects of language.

The instructions passed down to teachers from our leaders were to patch up the cracks in those ‘faulty’ vessels, to enable them to resemble their ‘undamaged’ peers and then to allow the ‘filling’ to continue.  That is what I was paid to do in the Speech and Language Unit – get them as close to normal communication skills as possible and return them to a cheaper, one-size-fits-all mainstream classroom.  Fortunately, as the leaders and inspectors had no specialist knowledge or understanding of such children, I had far more leeway than my mainstream colleagues in the way those children were taught.  

Those leaders didn’t see what I saw.  They didn’t know that small children with no intelligible speech could communicate perfectly well with others via telepathy.  They didn’t discover the deep, amazing and stunning twists and turns of the young autistic mind.  They couldn’t glimpse the creativity of the dyslexic when freed from pen or laptop and allowed free rein in the realms of shape and space.  I’d somehow slipped into a world where heightened senses and awareness way beyond common experience held sway.  Those children discussed out of body experiences, viewing ‘funny lights around people and animals that change with their mood’, remote viewing and the like as if they were everyday events.  For them, they were.

Perhaps those in charge of education didn’t want to be dazzled by the light shining through the cracks in the extraordinary ‘different’ children.

Egg, Cracks, Food, Nature, Blur, Dark

My vision and the dreams and ponderings that followed it left me with a conviction that the light shining in was vital to our world and badly needed to alleviate the darkness.  I was reminded of one of my favourite books: The Crack in the Cosmic Egg by Joseph Chilton Pearce.  Was this light appearing within those cracked vessels heralding a breaking of the eggs that hold in a deeper Gnosis or understanding of Cosmic Laws?  Perhaps each of us is, at some level, a ‘vessel’ – but not an empty one.  Perhaps we all hold within ourselves a brilliant light, but one we have hidden inside a container while we go about our humdrum daily tasks.  Perhaps the youngsters I had met on my journey through education were, in a very real sense, the light-showers or shining ones…

…Or perhaps I was a semi-deranged old woman falling down yet another of my many rabbit holes…

On Saturday night I settled to enjoy my current bedtime book: Gayle Kimball’s The Mysteries of Reality: Dialogues with Visionary Scientists.  I was reading an interview with Bernardo Kastrup PhD about contemporary idealism.  He pointed out that if, as the materialist scientific paradigm suggests, all thought experiences occur within the human brain, any impairment of that brain should result in more limited experiences and thoughts.  However, he explained, the reverse is true.  The body of evidence showing enhanced mental experiences (such as those described above in relation to my students) in those with certain types of brain damage or impairment, due to such events as bullet wounds, hypoxia or chemical impairments, strongly suggests that in such cases the brain’s filter system becomes more porous, disrupting the boundary between the brain and greater levels of consciousness. 

A synchronicity, perhaps?

 

On ‘being in uncertainties, Mysteries, doubts…’

It isn’t, to the Western mind – schooled as it is in science and reason – a comfortable place to be.  It feels risky, subversive almost. There are times when even the most hardened venturers into this zone yearn for more solid ground.  Many have teetered on the edge and scurried back to the reassurance of what, in their world, is believed to be real and provable.

The poet Keats coined the term Negative Capability to describe this other state.  He defined it thus:

Capable of being in uncertainties, Mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason.

I found that quote in the second of Phillip Pullman’s His Dark Materials books – The Subtle Knife.  His character Mary sees it as the frame of mind one needs to access in order to open to communication from a level of consciousness normally concealed behind the current world view.  Lyra, his young heroine, immediately recognises it as the state she enters to read the alethiometer – her divination machine.

Fractal, Abstract, Yellow, Design, LightIf you are reading this, you have almost certainly experienced that state.  It has overtaken you as you painted, wrote, sang, created or became so absorbed in any task that you moved beyond time and rationality, lost yourself in something wider, stronger and vaster and briefly allowed it to override your thoughts and rationally derived aims.  What you created during that period of Negative Capability will have been sublime.  If it is a work of art or craft, you may have wondered where the inspiration came from and why it surpasses what you produce while striving to impose order and perfection in the accepted way.  You will be aware – and perhaps alarmed – that time has passed of which you have little or no memory.

A musician friend tells of how she would enter the space during an operatic performance and ‘come to’ afterwards in a panic, wondering whether her singing had kept pace with the accompanists.  Poets and writers are, of course, able to review the words which arrived from their sojourn in this otherworld, but are still left wondering where the inspiration came from.  I’ve often been aware that certain passages in my books ‘wrote themselves’.  They are easily the best passages – far superior to those where I’ve wrestled with syntax and thesaurus to capture the right mood.

As should be obvious, though, the ‘irritable reaching’ towards the rational and familiar is difficult to resist.  It’s like trying to remain in a dream once you have realised that you are dreaming.  There is no proof, and proof for us has become the touchstone of all that is rational and acceptable.  Whenever we stray there, despite the inspirations and gifts we receive, we must tolerate as our companions Uncertainty and Doubt.

What a choice!

Girl, Space, Mystic, Brain, MysticalFor poets and artists it’s one thing; for those who venture into the world of the seer, the channel, the diviner or the clairvoyant, the experience is harder yet.  This extract, for example, written by my friend and erstwhile collaborator William, hints at the complex balancing act involved in remote viewing:

It is necessary to be able to correctly focus at the correct time while ensuring the knowledge held is sufficiently minimalistic to avoid involuntary logical assumptions clouding the receipt of information through remote viewing, but sufficient to ensure the information received can be interpreted correctly.

So the person who strays into the realms of Negative Capability must be willing to retain only a modicum of what we commonly know as logic and fact while being prepared to accept a quite different and infinitely more nebulous source of psychological information.

The rewards can be astounding but the path takes courage and a willingness to embrace, or at least make close contact with, what Keats calls, “sensations rather than thoughts”.

Metacogknitting

…Almost the active verb derived from ‘metacognition’, but with a few extra ideas thrown in…

Metacognition, as just about anyone reading this post will already know, is a wider knowing – those inklings, impressions, fleeting ideas and gut feelings that supplement and complement ordinary common-or-garden cognition.

Needle, Knit, Hand Labor, Hobby, WoolAs for knitting, though…  I’ve always loved any kind of textile work and there is something almost alchemical in transforming a single strand of yarn into a complex and beautiful garment, using just two simple sticks and one’s own hands.

For me it can be almost a meditative practice – busying the body while freeing the mind, and creating a unique physical item as I do so.  I like to weave in different textures and colours as I go.  I like to think about how every stitch is a vital part of the whole, while appearing so tiny and insignificant; rather like ourselves, really.  Drop a stitch and the whole thing can unravel.

And how (and why?) am I combining the two into a newly coined word?  you may ask.

Well, for me, the last six months has been a grounding experience.  I’ve been heavily caught up in physical, practical day-to-day matters.  They have taken up almost all the time I might otherwise have spent pondering, writing, dreaming and wondering.  There’s barely been time or opportunity for reading, blogging, chanelling or long, rambling, metaphysical discussions with cherished friends.  There’s barely been time to miss such activities, even.  Instead I’ve been stuck firmly in this mundane human skin-suit, supporting, surviving, problem-solving and grafting away.  (The only reason I’m not digging bramble and stinging nettle roots out of my daughter’s massively overgrown garden right now is the heavy rainfall outside as the English summer fragments into autumn.)

What I have come to realise, though, is that throughout the whole process of rescuing my little family from disaster, helping them back onto their own feet, rebuilding their confidence, dealing with the practicalities of re-homing them and helping to make that home habitable, the metacognition skills I’ve been noticing and developing over many decades have become knitted into the very fabric of everyday life.

Metacogknitting is living human life and grounding ourselves entirely in the physical dramas, effort and heartache that entails, while always allowing those extra strands of ‘Knowing’ to permeate every planned action and thought.

It’s only now, as I reach the final weeks of my stay far from home and see things here settling down and being almost sorted out, that I can recognise how the pattern or blueprint of what I wished for them has come to pass.  It felt absurdly optimistic that I would be able to help to turn a desperate situation around in just six months.  The idea that these frightened, traumatised and hurt people would have a new home, close to relatives, and settle into their new environment seemed next to impossible, but I’ve learned enough, over the years, to know that holding firm to that idea and believing in it was crucial.  With deeply valued help from the wonderful Cheryl and Higgins, I learned to put that Big Dream out there, to trust that it would arrive in time and to focus on the tiny steps we needed to take, to make it a reality.

One stitch at a time, the garment grows.  Every stitch is vital.

Without all those years of practice, I could easily, in all the mayhem and stress, have forgotten to take note of the faint and fleeting metacognitions.  There was so much else to focus on.  At such testing times, though, they become more vital than ever.  I would wake at 3am, Knowing what new fears were surfacing in my little grandson’s mind, and how best to help him with them.  Later in the day, he’d pull me aside and share those fears and I’d have my response all ready and waiting.  A ‘chance’ unexpected meeting with someone would set me on alert, wondering Why now? Why this person?  What purpose do they have in this drama of ours?  There always was one.

Helping the family to integrate in their new community, I went with them on Monday to a village fete.  I managed to resist the urge to brush aside the young man asking me to buy raffle tickets for his stall.  He’d singled me out.  The metacogknitting reminded me that there’s a potential purpose behind every apparently random situation.  Sure enough, he called me that evening.  I’d won the prize.  When I went to collect it, we ended up chatting over a coffee at his kitchen table about his business and my daughter’s.  So many similarities and synchronicities.  They could help each other.  I’ve put them in touch.  Whether they act on it or not is their pattern, their blueprint, of course.  My step or stitch there was just to form a link between the two.

And that, of course, is what metacogknitting is all about.

 

 

Vitruvian Lines – Part 7: The Consciousness Question

Unknown, Think, Contemplate, ThoughtEach of us knows what consciousness is, but to explain it or – even more challenging – to explain its source or the processes involved in it, remains notoriously difficult.  Regardless of those problems, consciousness is clearly at the very heart of the issues we are examining here.  By good fortune and synchronicity I have been drawn to some research that provides answers that fit neatly with the information which has gone before.

For most, in the last few centuries, Cartesian rationality and materialism have taken over from religion.  Science is the dieu de jour and the human being is entire unto itself – a wysiwyg evolved structure in which all can be explained by neurons firing and passing messages around the brain and nervous system.

Despite concerted efforts over many decades, though, scientists remain unable to explain the phenomena of self-awareness and self-reflection in terms of the way brains are known to function.  This is key to our understanding of the nature of autistic perception and the way it differs from that of other members of the population.

It has long been argued that autists and those who carry the ‘dys-‘ labels (dyslexic, dyspraxic, dysfluent etc.) have brains that are differently structured to those of the rest of us.  If that were the case, though, it wouldn’t explain how the whole of humanity starts physical life with autistic perception, while the majority loose or suppress this way of being to take on the maturation/socialisation norms of their culture with a minority retaining their open, no-limits, creative thought.

In other words, if all human experience could be explained in terms of neural information processing, Joseph Chilton Pearce’s theory of A-Thinking would be wrong.  Since important aspects of consciousness cannot be explained by what the brain does, though, we can look elsewhere for an explanation.  We could obviously look to religion, myth, tradition and spirituality for alternative answers, but for now, let’s stay with science.

 

Very basically, because of the prevailing materialist world view, in which the body is seen as a highly complex machine, mainstream science would dearly love to discover a biological origin for consciousness – some process going on within the brain.  The alternative would be an external source, and that, of course, would not suit the model as it currently stands.

Science has been largely unable to provide answers to these problems.  However, a September 2017 article in the peer-reviewed journal NeuroQuantology sheds some light.

As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, Dr Dirk Meijer, a professor at the University of Groningen has combined neuroscience with quantum theory to propose the source of consciousness as a field surrounding the brain, but in a ‘fourth spatial dimension’.  This Consciousness (highly reminiscent of Ervin Laszlo’s   Akashic Field)  could pick up information from anywhere, he suggests, and transmit it instantaneously into brain tissue – the whole brain, not just certain areas – by a process called Quantum Wave Resonance, a wave pattern that encompasses all neurons.  He proposes that this mental field “is instrumental in high-speed conscious and subconscious information processing” (source: Consciousness in the Universe is Scale Invariant and Implies an Event Horizon of the Human Brain Dirk K.F. Meijer and Hans J.H. Geesink).

Fractal, Render, 3D, HoneycombThe paper goes on to suggest that this holographic structured consciousness is part of a universal system of nesting energy fields.  In other words, everyone and everything that possesses consciousness has one of these, and each of them has contact with all the others.

The following quote shows the enormous repercussions of Dr Meijer’s theory:

“The presence of a field-receptive resonant workspace, associated with, but not reducible to, our brain, may provide an interpretation framework for widely reported, but poorly understood transpersonal conscious states and algorithmic origin of life.” (ibid.)

In other words, each individual ‘mental field’, aka Consciousness, would be able to access all other fields.  This could allow for and explain the existence, so long marginalised by mainstream science, of remote viewing, telepathy, precognition, dowsing, channelling and the like (which means that he has a hypothetical scientific explanation for the non-logical abilities and skills of some ‘square fillers’).

This field, he says, must have certain characteristics in order to be able to perform this function. It must:

a) be instantaneous – a gradual “diffusion” of information through the system … would work too slowly;

b) be capable of receiving every type of information from the environment (electromagnetic, acoustic, thermal, chemical, mechanical, gravitational);

c) select information at fractal levels for different biological orders of magnitude;

d) incorporate information of various parts of the organism and the whole configuration at the same time;

e) be protected against an excess of information and apply some kind of information quality control;

f) ensure minimal loss and distortion of information.

Point (e) above is particularly interesting in light of what we have already discovered.  The ‘excess of information’ that would come from this limitless source, with one person’s consciousness being able to draw on everyone else’s as well as all other information emanating from anywhere in the cosmos is clearly more than any one individual would need or be able to process.

Temple, Columnar, Painting, MuralWe need a system to restrict the flow.  Could it be that the neurotypical maturation/socialisation process does exactly that?  As they grow up, children learn to block out information deemed unnecessary in their culture.  There are many stories of kids being told firmly that the invisible friends they are chatting to don’t exist.  By the age of three or four, they are learning to divide their worlds into ‘real’ and ‘pretend’.  Do those divisions have more to do with society’s norms than any factual basis?

It follows then that those who choose NOT to take on that socialisation process in its entirety have far more leeway than the rest of the population with regard to what they can perceive.  I wanted to make that point here, to tie it in to Dr Meijer’s research, but the ideas behind it will become much clearer when we look at the final piece of this framework.

 

 

Vitruvian Lines – Part 6: Aspergers Thinking

Note: This post follows closely from the last, which can be read here  and will ideally be read as part of this whole lengthy series of posts, although I realise that’s rather a tall order.

I’d like to look now at the rather special case of the so-called high-functioning ‘square fillers’.  These people have a particularly interesting way of thinking.

It will be clear from what has been written  previously that these people, in order to be viewed as ‘high-functioning’ by our society, have taken on more or less all of the developmental milestones prescribed for normal infant progress.  Their cognitive development – usually referred to as ‘intelligence’ – is well above average.  In fact, a particular feature is their ability to employ high levels of logic to many situations, coupled with an intense, laser-like focus on whichever field of interest is important to them at a particular point in time.  Thus the preponderance of ‘square-fillers’ working in key roles within the IT sector.

Graffiti, Spock, Leonard NimoyThis is the archetype employed in the Star Trek series as Spock, Data or Seven of Nine – altruistic, caring individuals with exceptionally high levels of cognitive ability and rational thought who nonetheless were unable to fit in socially with their colleagues.   Surely this is far removed from the ‘whimsical’, creative, non-logical thought of the autistic thinker described by Joseph Chilton Pearce.

I believe that what the square-filler possesses is a unique – and highly valuable – blend of two distinct thought systems.  He or she has taken on the rules of rational thought, and developed them to an exceptionally high degree (since the ‘no-limits’ aspect of A-thinking is involved).  However this person does NOT water them down, so to speak, with the guilt-based kindness, empathy and social considerations used by ‘circle-fillers’.  That is partly because such variations are utterly specific to each individual circumstance and consequently too diverse to have any easily perceived rules, and partly because the square-filler already has an existing and excellent alternative thought system – the non-logical Knowing that is A-thought.

Poverty, Homeless, FrankfurtThere are certainly times when the logical and non-logical are in conflict.  For the neurotypical person, this is when they know the rules (‘I should notify the authorities that this person is shoplifting.’) but apply the secondary social kindness system (‘But she is clearly living rough, and she only took a loaf of bread and some peanut butter.’) and make a value judgement based on this knowledge to come to a decision which leaves them as guilt-free as they can be in this instance.  (Freedom from guilt is a prime motivator for circle-fillers when they show kindness and consideration of others.)

By contrast, the high-functioning square-filler will react to this situation in a quite different way.  He or she may telepathically read the motives and situation of the shoplifter.  Next, working logically – and at exceptionally high speed – he or she might consider the implications and probable results of reporting the incident or remaining silent, for one or more of those who could be involved.  Finally, the square-filler will project the information thus gleaned into one or more probable futures, to view the results of either action.  This will result in an appraisal of the most advantageous course of action to pursue.

In both cases the thought processes described here, although all made using the conscious mind, are so fast and virtually instinctive that individuals may not be fully aware of the entire process they have gone through; the neurotypical may not realise their intention was personal guilt-reduction, while the other might not recognise the telepathic and precognitive abilities he or she has utilised.

All this means that everyone – square and circle filler alike – is continuously using different thought systems to make judgements and decisions.

Certainly there are times when one system must be used to the exclusion of the other: a judge must apply the law, since that is his or her role in society; an autistic savant must put aside the logic of ‘I shouldn’t be able to play an entire piece of music from memory having heard it only once, since no one else I know can do this’ and simply allow their ‘Knowing’ to take control.  Certainly these dichotomies can leave the individual feeling confused and conflicted.  However without having two modes of thought to draw on, none of us would be self-reflective, and thus fully human.

 

Create, Creation, Creativity, LaptopReturning briefly to autistic thinking as described by Joseph Chilton Pearce, the high-functioning or Asperger’s individual has, despite the conflicts created by working with two very different modes of thought, a huge advantage over the rest of the population when it comes to creativity.  Pearce points out that creative thinking involves autistic thought combined with “the tools of logical structuring given by maturity”.

Neither, of themselves, is particularly productive in human terms.  The autist who has remained as a helpless, totally dependent individual will not be contributing in any recognisable sense to humanity’s needs.  The neurotypical adult who remains entirely trapped within the discipline of his or her chosen profession will simply do as others have done before, following rules blindly and incapable of insights and innovations necessary for progress.

The high-functioning autist, however, can potentially bring to bear the ‘no limits’ knowing of A-thinking on the logical strategies learned from society to bring about fundamental changes, Eureka! moments and quantum leaps in understanding.  These are the innovators, the inventors, the creators.  Just as our nomadic ancestors needed the outliers, so our modern society – whether or not it has realised it – benefits hugely from the input of such talented, free-thinking individuals.

 

In the two following sections, I hope to provide explanations – from two very different sources – for the existence of autistic thinking.

Vitruvian Lines – Part 5: Autistic Thinking

Psychology, Psyche, Mask, Wire RackIn the last section I described one of my ‘lightbulb moments’ – the realisation that the natural method of communicating and socialising amongst the autistic population/ ‘square fillers’ involved a system that by-passed words and used a form of telepathy.  I’d just like to stress that every child in the group I observed was using and responding to it, and they ranged from very high-functioning individuals to at least one who was said to be at the lowest end of cognitive ability.  In other words, it wasn’t a skill some very gifted children had learned; it was a natural skill that – in these individuals – hadn’t yet been suppressed by society.

 

Despite the earnest efforts of their parents and caregivers, these kids had not been pressured into using and thinking with words.

In this section and the next, I will examine the reasons for this, according to the American thinker and educator Joseph Chilton Pearce.

In his book The Crack in the Cosmic Egg, Pearce speaks of a “primary process of mind”.  That means it is there, initially, in everyone.  This primary process, he goes on, is repressed and largely eliminated by what our society calls maturation.  The quote  from his book that follows is one of the key points of this whole series of articles, because once it is understood, it becomes clear how autistic perception differs from neurotypical perception, how the square fillers think and process information and why that way of perceiving is so valuable to society as a whole.

“Autistic thinking (or A-thinking) is an unstructured, non-logical (but not necessarily illogical) whimsical thinking that is the key to creativity.  It involves ‘unconscious processes’ but it is not necessarily unconscious.  Autistic thinking is indulged in, or in some cases happens to one in ordinary conscious states.  The autistic is a kind of dream-world mode of thinking.  This left-handed thinking is nevertheless a functional part of reality formation.  It is the connecting link between our ‘clearing’ and ‘forest’.  It is the pearl of great price.  It is the way by which potential unfolds.”

It’s possible that a high-functioning autist reading the above might be offended or put off by some of the language there – ‘non-logical’, ‘whimsical’, ‘dream-world’.  There are certain values placed by society on those words, and the earlier mention of ‘maturation’ could imply that those with autistic perception are locked in some eternal wondering infantile state, while the rest of the population has ‘grown up’ and left them behind.  I hope that, by labouring the point (throughout the last four sections) that our society’s norms offer only ONE possible way of developing and maturing, I will have mitigated that interpretation to some extent.

To be extremely clear, then:  All humans begin their terrestrial, three-dimensional existence as autistic thinkers.  They are infinitely creative, imaginative and open to new experiences.  It is only by being that way that they are able to achieve the momentous strides in development which are managed in the first few years of life.

Birth, Child, Baby, Newborn, Hand, KeepA baby is told, implicitly, “Within two or three years you will master several types of mobility, the ability to feed yourself, the ability to speak and understand the meaning, pronunciation and syntax of least one verbal language, the ability to perform complex tasks of manual dexterity and you will have formulated your own preferences in terms of what tastes you enjoy, what sounds and objects you like and dislike, and you will express those preferences clearly.  You will recognise and discriminate between a variety of objects and individuals and be able to name several of them and you will indulge in a rudimentary level of logical thinking and decision making.”

By and large, the baby not only accepts these absurdly high expectations, but goes on to achieve them.  This is not in spite of autistic thought but because of it.  Within the autistic mind there are no limits, so anything is possible.

 

Thus, to square fillers, all possibilities are achievable.  The ‘non-logical’ thinking is the Knowing/ gnosis, that allows the savant to draw the cityscape from memory, to recite π to hundreds of digits, to be the first to recognise that E=MC2 or to remotely view features of a location hundreds of miles away or identify a set of medical symptoms in a person he or she has never met.  This thinking doesn’t rely on cause and effect or logical consideration.  In fact, those – as Will and I have discovered and reported on this blog, during our experiments in some of these areas – are limiting factors which can undermine the ‘Knowing’ process.  That Knowing IS autistic thought.  It is only ‘whimsical’ or dream-like in that the members of society who have traded in such thinking for the so-called rational, logic-bound mental consideration they have been trained to follow cannot conceive of any way such things are possible, except in their dreams and fantasies.

So obviously, yes, there has been a trade-off.   At key points in their lives, each individual has, at some level, made a decision.   The personality has had to choose between retaining the innate level of autistic thinking, and complying with pressure to conform to society’s norms, abandoning the natural state of Knowing in favour of rational, logical thought.

This is not a simple either/or choice, of course.  That is why autistic perception is described as a spectrum.  There are those who elect to remain almost in the new-born baby state of total sensation and imagination and to pursue a lifetime of discovery in that condition.  To society, these people will be considered unfortunate, handicapped and limited, since there will often be no perceived method of communication between them and the care-givers and they will be completely dependent on others to see to their bodily needs.  Others individuals who elect to retain their A-thinking, however, agree to take on varying degrees of ‘maturation’; they will learn some of the key skills expected of the infant, although they may take their time over this.

Control, Quality, Rejected, StampAll the developmental expectations described in the imaginary conversation with the baby above were imposed on the child by parents or caregivers.  Experts such as paediatricians and health visitors would have been bombarding the carers with checklists showing ‘normal’ levels of development and this in turn pressurised them into encouraging the child to achieve all the milestones they had been given.  The parents did their very best to encourage the child to develop ‘normally’, rewarding success and attempting to discourage ‘babyish’ characteristics.  The children who failed to keep up with the checklists would be described by society as ‘delayed’ in certain areas.  Those who opted out of certain developmental targets completely or partially were labelled ‘disordered’.  Such is the pressure to conform exacted by our culture.

It seems obvious to me that the decision made NOT to conform and abandon autistic thinking must have a huge inherent value to the person who makes that choice.  In our society, living as a square filler is far from easy.  It is indeed what Pearce, rather romantically, refers to as ‘the pearl of great price’.  Each of these people has chosen, at some level of being, to reject, or partially reject, society’s norms in favour of this creative, unlimited form of being.

Next time, I’ll examine the particular wonders and pitfalls that beset the ‘high functioning’ square filler, who treads the line between the two populations.

 

Vitruvian Lines – Part 4: Socialisation and Communication

Image result for vitruvian man

Time to look, I think, rather more closely at the Leonardo drawing I’ve been using as my analogy for the two ‘populations’ of humanity: The Vitruvian Man.

Fitting comfortably within the circle, legs and hands spread, stands the neurotypical – the type of person who might commonly be referred to as ‘well rounded’ or even ‘normal’, in that he represents the larger portion of humankind.   He also fits within the square, incidentally.  He looks exuberant, relaxed and in control of all he surveys.

Now turn your attention to the ‘square filler’.  He has a more formal stance – feet together, arms stretching out at right angles to his body and not quite able to reach to the edge of the circle.  In some way he is restricted, held back from fully accessing all parts of the circle.  He represents, in this analogy, the autist, the highly sensitive person, the one labelled by the experts as disordered or dys-something-or-the-other.  Before we dismiss this individual as a more limited version of the circle filler, though, take a look at his left foot.  This person has a toe-hold in a realm quite inaccessible to his companion. If we think of the circle as our familiar world view, notice that there is space not bounded by it that lies to left and right below its surface.  Our square filler can reach into that space and access areas invisible and inaccessible to the neurotypical population.  It is one of those areas I’d like to examine today.

Read any formal definition of autistic perception and phrases like ‘difficulties with socialisation and communication’ will predominate.  Can I challenge that?  Can I venture where my Vitruvian’s big toe is pointing and replace the word ‘difficulties’ with ‘differences’?

Children, Blue, Play, Background, GreenI first began to understand that there were different methods of communicating and socialising when I worked in special education.  I was at the classroom window watching several children aged between 5 and 7, all with some degree of autistic perception and virtually no intelligible spoken language.  Despite that, they were each taking roles within an imaginative game.  It had a definite storyline.  Each of them knew what to do – when it was time for one person to bring the tricycle taxi to the playhouse door, who was going to ride in it, where they were going and so forth.  I tried to figure out what was happening.  Was it that they had learned to understand each other’s spoken language?  No – there was virtually no speech – just laughter, shrieks and sound effects.  There was also a great deal of looking.  As they watched one another, I realised, they were communicating.  I was watching a bunch of little kids communicating telepathically with each other.  That realisation changed my life.

Having keenly watched the development of my grandchildren, I firmly believe that all infants begin life with considerable and wide-ranging telepathic skills.  This telepathy works both ways.  They can pick up the thoughts of others (not necessarily verbal thoughts alone, but states of mind, concepts and emotions) and can transmit their own to people with whom they have established a telepathic link.  Thus not everyone knows why a baby is crying, but the mother or sibling often will.  I believe the process of this ‘linking’ is in some way related to quantum entanglement, so that time and space are not relevant.

This is by no means the only example of alternative methods of communication and socialisation.  Last year I read an article about an isolated tribe who communicated via dreaming.  If a decision needed to be made, the tribal elder or shaman would ask the community to explore the issue in their dream state.  The next morning a consensus would have been reached as a shared dream had allowed them to come to a conclusion.  The anthropologist studying this group reported that shared dreaming was considered by the tribe to be a normal, important aspect of social life.

Buddha Statue, Stone Statues, SpeakNeither of these forms of communicating would be considered likely or legitimate by our mainstream culture.  We live in a society where spoken and written language has been the primary means of communication for many centuries.  The language we use in the West depends heavily upon taxonomy – classification.  Thus a child learns that a Great Dane, a dingo and a Jack Russell are all dogs, but a fox isn’t.  It’s far from straightforward.

It is said that if spelling were as fluid now as it was in Shakespeare’s time, dyslexia would be almost non-existent.  We only have dyslexic people because we have a rigidly structured written language.  We only have dysfluent people because we have a precisely articulated spoken language.  Square fillers generally have challenges coping with social communication via word-based language.

Circle fillers think in words.  Others, though, think in patterns, gestalts, pictures and concepts that have no direct linguistic equivalent.  For these thinkers, word-based language is a problem because of its limitations.

Just about every member of our population has at some point complained about the inadequacy of words to express subtle or complex ideas or concepts: ‘I can’t find the words to express…’  ‘Mere words cannot convey…’.  To make up for this, the circle fillers have added in a range of subtle verbal, facial and bodily expressions to augment the words they use.

By contrast, the square fillers find aspects of this system challenging.  They have a quite different way of communicating naturally, which would seem to involve thinking and telepathically sending or receiving gestalts, concepts, images, patterns or even colours.  They may have adopted word-thought and word-speech as a second language, but it is not one they find easy to use.

As we move into the next section, I’ll go deeper into autistic thinking and communication.

 

Didn’t know I had a petard, and here I am hoist with it

Grenade, Bomb, War, Weapon, DangerI had to look petard up: a small bomb apparently.  As for being hoist on/by/with it, we have Shakespeare to thank for that one.  All I knew was that it meant, roughly, to fall into one’s own trap, and that I’ve certainly done this week.

Embarrassed, but trying hard to be authentic, so…

Allow me to explain.

A few weeks ago I was asked to take on a pair of new students – young brothers who shared a genetic condition with their mother.  “Multi-systemic” I was told, so the effects of this syndrome involve skin, joints, brain and just about any part of the body you can think of.  The words ‘complex learning difficulties’ were also mentioned.

To be honest, I was almost at full stretch before these lads appeared on the scene.  Planning two lots of lessons in maths and English tailored to their particular mix of strengths (very high intelligence) and challenges, as well as homework each week would, I knew, take at least an entire day.  Then there was the teaching itself, which I could only just slot in amongst my other young pupils.  Everything logical in my mind was screaming, “No, don’t do it!  What about that work/life balance you wanted?  You are past retirement age, you know.  And this lady wants you to work on right through the summer holidays.  When will you get to see the family?”

But the kids were lovely.  Finding ways of working around their difficulties would be fascinating – previously uncharted territory, the type of challenge I thrive on.  They weren’t fitting into schools.  Their constant pain and exhaustion, as a result of the syndrome, was too much for them when combined with a normal school day.  The mother, though, was being threatened by the authorities for not providing sufficient education.

I said, ‘Yes’.

Of course I did.

Writing, Boy, Child, Student, KidFor a couple of weeks it went fine.  Yes, I did end up doing lesson prep all through the weekends but they seemed to be progressing well and I was enjoying working with them.  Then this week they appeared full of smiles but without homework.  A casual ‘lost it somewhere in my room’ from one and ‘I didn’t realise you wanted me to do that’ from the other.

Inwardly I was irritated.  The homework sheets had taken me ages to prepare.  The work I’d planned for this week followed on from what they were meant to have done.  Their mother had particularly requested homework.  It was meant to protect her from being taken to court… and blah, blah, blah.

Outwardly, I smiled, suggested mildly that maybe they could try to get it done for the following week and carried on.  The lessons went fine and I went to bed that night feeling very happy.

Oh I know at least one of my readers knows exactly what’s coming!

I woke up the next morning to a text from the children’s mother.  Both of them had told her I was ‘grumpy’ during their lessons.  She wondered what was wrong.

I was mortified.  The lessons had (I thought) been lovely – lots of laughter and progress.  Was I just a delusional old bat?  Had I ended up like those elderly lady teachers I remembered from my own school days – miserable and past it?  Was it time to stop and give up – to sit in a rocking chair knitting all day?

I flashed a quick message back, saying I had been disappointed that they’d not bothered with the homework, but wasn’t aware of being grumpy about it; that I’d tried hard to keep the work lively and enjoyable and so forth.

Then I sat and thought.

Why was I choosing to be so upset by this?  Why had this incident shown up in my life?  What did it have to teach me?

The reply came almost at once, in a further message from the children’s mum.  She hadn’t wanted to upset me.  She just felt she had to be authentic and tell me their reaction.  It wasn’t my words or actions they had reacted to, it was my feelings.  They were, she added, extremely sensitive and picked up on the energy people projected.

Heart, Love, Idea, Light BulbAh.

Got it.

That heart-based telepathy thing.

So I thanked her – and the universe – for providing me with that reminder.  I told her about my last blog post, on exactly this subject, and promised to attempt to be more open and authentic in future.

See what I mean about being hoist with my own petard?  This communicating-from-the-heart business is not easy.  I’m glad to have these two young teachers.  Like all good teachers, they’ve appeared just as the student is ready 🙂

 

The Symptoms of Normalism

Distribution, Normal, StatisticsNot easy, but I’m trying, for a moment, to look at my tribe – the people who regard themselves as ‘normal’ or ‘neuro-typical’ – from the outside.  I’m trying to see us from the perspective of those Version 2.0 people who are wired differently.  (I’ve reverted to my ‘Version 2.0’ label because not all of them are on the autistic spectrum as it is normally described.  Many are – but there are others, variously called ‘sensitives’, or ’empaths’ or those with various diagnoses or descriptions of differentness, and I wish to include them all.)

Disclaimer:  I use the term ‘Normal’ throughout this article in a somewhat ironic sense.  I personally consider terms like ‘normal’ and ‘disordered’ to be chauvinistic and symptomatic of what is wrong with common assumptions in our society.  Also, I am a person with ‘Normalism’ and I love words.  I can’t imagine life without their richness and beauty.  This post is just a thought experiment, okay?

 

Probably the most difficult aspect of Normals to comprehend is the disparity between what they say and what they actually feel or think.

“No, it looks great on you, honestly.”

(‘It would actually suit someone twenty years younger much better, but I understand you’re going through a bit of a mid-life crisis and if it makes you feel good to wear it, that’s fine by me.’)

“Oh it’s nothing.  Really not worth reading – just something I scribbled off last night.”

(‘I poured my heart and soul into these words, but I’m terrified you won’t understand and will dismiss them as trivial or stupid, so I’m pretending it’s not important to me in order to shield myself in advance from any critical comments you may make.  Anything hurtful you say will still upset me deeply, though.’)

“Well who’s the teacher’s pet, then?”

(‘I feel envious of the praise you received for that assignment and my inability to produce anything that good.  I am therefore attempting to make you feel uncomfortable.  It is my hope that my negative reaction to your success will encourage you to try less hard in the future, thus letting me gain more approval from the teacher.’)

Professor, Mathematician, Scientists“It’s important for you to get an expert opinion.”

(‘You are inferior.  You are incapable of reaching a satisfactory answer, due to the prejudices and fixed ideas lodged in your brain.  There are far better individuals than you whose prejudices and fixed ideas come for other individuals with letters after their names.  These people know what is best for you, despite not knowing a great deal about you.  I know this because I learned it from experts.’)

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

I’m aware as I write this that I live in southern England, an area particularly renowned for this kind of double-speak.  Northern Brits, Americans and Australians, for example, would readily assert that they are far more inclined towards plain speaking, calling-a-spade-a-spade and otherwise using spoken language to express what they feel.  Really?  Try, for just one conversation, to avoid any sarcasm, any ironic aside, any well-meant but artificial compliment, any indication that you sort-of agree, despite the fact that you don’t, or any self-depreciating statements that are not in total resonance with what you feel.

Silver Leaf, Lunaria, SilberlingYou’ll argue, perhaps – you Normals – that without such social niceties, speech would be brutal, hard and cold.  People would be offended.  They might take against you.  They might (this is the greatest fear) not flatter and praise you in return.  Normals require an almost constant drip-feed of approval.  Without this, paranoia sets in.  That’s why Normals struggle in their contact with the other tribes.  The Asperger guy is not going to tell you that you look good, that it’s great to see you, that he’s glad you came.  You’re there; he’s there.  No more to be said.  Normals are needy, though.  They want that stuff.  They’ll cheerfully relinquish honesty to get it.

In a previous post I mentioned the 7 year-old Version 2.0 child who came to me distraught after a quarrel with his friend.  “She told me she was sorry,” he said, “but I can see into her heart and that isn’t the feeling that’s there.”
It wasn’t the quarrel that had upset him, but the fact that his friend didn’t respect him enough to share her heartfelt feelings. She insulted him by feigning an apology.

If the Version 2.0 people can ‘see into someone’s heart’ (all this is explained far better in the previous post, written by The Snacking Sage and in Suzy Miller’s important book ‘Awesomism’), nothing but honesty will do.

The small child who asks, “Why are you sad, Mummy?” and is told, “I’m not sad, dear.  I’m fine,” by a mother who attempts to conceal the truth because she doesn’t want to worry him will – obviously – worry all the more if he knows he’s being lied to.

Looking Up, Hope, Black White, PortraitThere are more of these Others – these Non-Normals – than might be imagined.   They are way-showers.  They can teach Normals – if we’ll truly stop chattering and listen to their silence – to discard the fake conversation and to return to the openness that is a natural by-product of telepathic communication.

Yes, I can see that there would be difficulties and challenges, but ultimately, aren’t we all yearning for greater transparency?  Aren’t we, after all, sick to death of being lied to and cheated by those in authority, by multi-nationals who mislead us for their own profits, by those who claim to be acting in our ‘best interests’?  It’s worth considering that there are many individuals who are similarly sick of the lack of honesty in ‘Normal’ social interaction.

This is only a personal viewpoint, but I suspect the ‘shift’ that occurred around 2012 involved a fundamental change of mindset amongst humanity – a desire to move beyond ‘them and us’ towards a fairness and openness based on personal responsibility, not the imposition of rules by a corrupt leadership.  That could work, if only we could communicate heart to heart.