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?

 

Another Look at Reality

In my last post I floated the idea that even if we were able to somehow travel back in time and communicate freely with people from a bygone age, there would only – at best – be certain aspects of shared experience.  This, I argued, is because ‘truth’ or what we term ‘reality’ is a subjective interplay between a person’s mind, brain and the objects and events that form to produce each person’s perceived world.

‘Aha,’ you may say, “If that were the case, how would you and I share a common view of a scene before us?  Even a short discussion would prove that our vision of what lay around us was identical.  We could even take photographs to demonstrate it!’

Well certainly we citizens of the 21st century share a common perception of the objects and events around us.  Perceptive reality has strong links to social cohesion and the ‘training’ we were given in infancy. 

Fantasy, Fairy Tale Forest, Girl, ForestOur culture has a slightly strange take on sharing our World View with new arrivals.  A rich mythic tradition is passed on to our children – Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the tooth fairy, giants, goblins, elves and trolls appear in huge numbers of their storybooks and the bedtime tales we share with them.  Talking animals and fabulous beasts abound.  Then, as the children mature, these wonders are, one by one, consigned to a scrapheap of untruths.  Those stories, they are told, were ‘just pretend’.  Now they are expected to cast away such childish delights and focus on a world that can be seen, prodded and proved to be ‘real’. 

“So are dinosaurs real?” asks the confused child. “What about dragons?  What about Father Christmas…?  Why did you lie to me?”

Parents and carers struggle to justify their actions.  They are doing as their parents did.  They are rearing their young in the way our society dictates.  Once they reach the age of 7 or 8, even the child who knows she once saw fairies in the garden or glimpsed a fiery dragon from her window has put such things aside and conformed to the accepted and shared idea of how reality looks and feels.  Mostly.

Stonehenge, England, Uk, MonumentOf course there are still different perceptions within our common perceptual framework.  If we imagine a hypothetical twenty people standing and regarding Stonehenge in the 2020s, all would probably be in agreement as to the size and bulk of the stones, the green of the grass, the colour of the sky, strength of the wind and sound of the passing traffic on the A303.

One observer, though, might be hugely excited at the sight of a military aircraft flying over the scene – an aspect of the experience missed totally by others.

Another of the people might be high on a hallucinogenic drug or have what is currently called a ‘mental illness’.  That person might be seeing quite different colours strobing and wheeling around the stones and hearing sounds or voices the rest of the observers would not be aware of.

A third might be a synesthete.  He or she might be tasting or smelling the colours and textures in a manner quite alien to the rest.

Perhaps two or three members of the group might have psychic sensitivities which allowed them to see spots of bright light or hazy halos surrounding certain stones or perhaps glowing crystals buried deep beneath the ground.  They might even perceive shadowy figures from other times.

Winter, Snow, Landscape, Trees, SnowfallAs is the custom in our age, more or less all these visitors would take out their phones and photograph the scene before them.  If they then compared the results, all the images would show the grass, the stones, the path and so forth, yet some would include mysterious orbs or thin coloured arcs of light.  Depending on their personal World Views, these would be variously interpreted as aliens, angelic beings, reflections of light from mundane sources or pieces of dust on the camera lens.  Each, of course, would be entirely correct, according to their World View.

I would further suggest that if the group of 20 people were standing around Stonehenge in c2500BC, their perception of what lay before them would be markedly different to that of the 21st century visitors.  Their common take on ‘reality’ would link to their shared prior experience and social conditioning and their society almost certainly perceived the world around them in markedly different ways, with senses responding to stimuli in a manner that we could not grasp.

Clearly, I have no way of demonstrating this.  Those ancient people standing on a wind-blasted plain in southern England left us no written record or clues as to what was going through their minds and how their world looked to them.  They simply, for their own reasons, created a massive structure that survived into our age.

Fortunately for the curious among us, not all World Views are as poorly recorded.  Next time I’d like to take you to a culture that has been meticulously documented by its people, in a language we can read and understand.  In certain ways it is markedly similar to our own, but in others quite, quite incomprehensible.

Perceptive Reality – A Time-Traveller’s Guide

The restrictions of the past year have made it an ideal time for the armchair traveller – or time-traveller, often, in my own case – to indulge in flights of imagination and contemplation.

Stonehenge, Stone Circle, EnglandI will happily spend many hours watching documentaries or reading about archaeological discoveries and documents from other times and places and wishing I could see the temples and sacred places as they appeared in their zenith.  That alone, though, would be no more than mere sightseeing, which to my mind is a fairly empty and pointless activity.  How often I’ve stood and gazed on some great and ancient construction – Stonehenge, the temples of Malta, the Orcadian landscape around the Ness of Brodgar – and yearned for an understanding of the circumstances, the significance, the reason for their construction.

Yes, I can read the guide books, digest the various expert theories, wonder at the brilliance of the technologies that created them, but I lack the World View of those who built and used these structures.  So, of course, do the experts.  They can make educated guesses but might I be so bold as to suggest that in a time when religion is fragmented, science, business and technology are the closest many have to gods and upheaval is everywhere we look, 21st century people are not best placed to frame any possible mindset that could explain the concepts and ideologies behind the enduring wonders of the past as we gaze upon them?

The Roman Empire is an exception.  We have no problem understanding that.  It is so close in morality and intent to our own recent past that we can comprehend their purposes, intentions and ideals with very little difficulty.  Their buildings, military and societal organisations make perfect sense to us.  I will often flick through film and TV drama choices and note that the majority of people in our culture apparently find pleasure and entertainment in watching the murder, death and the anguish of others as much as Romans did in their amphitheatres.

Just as, according to the infinite monkey theorem, a monkey spending long enough at a typewriter keyboard could theoretically type the text of Hamlet, so an infinite number of World Views are bound to throw up some close matches.  That’s not to say we have any sort of continuum that leads logically and developmentally from Rome to here.  This has nothing to do with evolution.  World Views come and go, for reasons I hope to consider in subsequent posts.

(Let me just suggest in passing that any society which believes itself to be at the pinnacle of human development has enough pride to be heading inexorably towards a fall.)

I believe a World View is something more than Zeitgeist, too, although there are more parallels with this idea than with the evolutionary one.  I’m not denying the spirit of a particular generation as being easy to recognise in retrospect.  The 20th century alone threw up several of these.  For me a World View is something deeper, more pervasive and far longer-lasting than a decade or so’s trend.  Perhaps it is the spirit of a Great Age…

Peru, Sacsayhuaman, Sacred, Scenic, SiteThe societies who constructed the Great Pyramid, the Stonehenge and Avebury landscape, the polygonal-walled buildings of Peru or the structures of Göbeklitepe, for example, would have technologies, ideas and concepts of the world so radically different to our own that endless scrabbling in the dust to unearth pottery fragments or the contents of spoil heaps will give us little or no idea of their beliefs and intentions.

Each generation of antiquarians and archaeologists has a view on the purpose of the structures, that view arguably having more to do with contemporary interests and fixations than that which provoked the original constructions.  Thus an ancient site may have been variously viewed by later visitors as a geoglyph,  a landing site for spacecraft, a centre for human or animal sacrifice, a temple for religious worship, an astronomical calendar, a tomb (big favourite, regardless of whether or not there are human remains), a place of pilgrimage or for rites of passage.

So could I, as a time-traveller with many months or years at my disposal and a Babel Fish stuffed firmly in my ear, ever learn to understand the World View of the culture who created one of these enduring monuments?

Probably not.

I suspect that the only point at which our understanding would meet would be in the physical as I perceive it and that, of course, is not where their World View resides.  I might learn vast amounts about their technologies, their methods of construction and the way in which their societies are organised, but the all-consuming beliefs and reasons for constructing such structures would not, I fear, be apparent to me.  Our views of reality would differ so fundamentally that there would be little common ground.  It is very possible that the structures themselves would not reveal to my senses the experiences those who created them would have.  There could be sounds, sights, emotional and spiritual experiences freely available to them which to me would remain hidden.  I recall being quite convinced of this when standing in the chambers of the Hypogeum of Ħal Saflieni.  I could see the walls, the carvings and the colours but there was so much almost palpable unavailable experience there just beyond my ken.

Seth, through channel Jane Roberts, explains the reason for this, with his customary clarity and eloquence:

Your many civilisations, historically speaking, each with its own fields of activity, its own sciences, religions, politics and art – these all represent various ways that man has used imagination and reason to form a framework through which a more or less cohesive reality is experienced. 

And that is the nub of it.  Reality is perceptive, not as our scientists fondly believe, objective.  My own Guides put it rather more bluntly:

Reality is barely existent.  There is only thought.  

In future posts I hope to explore aspects of different World Views and their varying perception of ‘reality’, as it is a subject I find fascinating.

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”.

Taxonomical with the Truth

Taxonomy is something I’ve been thinking about recently, because it very much underlies our current world view.  Everything is classified and sub-classified so that it can be put into a tidy little box, marked neatly with a (preferably Latin) name and declared separate from everything else.  We do it with flora and fauna, obviously, but that mania for neat, clear, unambiguous boundaries and definitions has become a mainstay of life in general.  It’s how we understand and make sense of things – their features, their purposes, their very existence.Oxford Museum Of Natural History, Oxford

At times, the classifications have to be tweaked.  Poor old Pluto is downgraded from Planet to Big Rock; some garden plant suddenly gets a new name and all the garden centres have to readjust their labelling.  And don’t even get me started on the labels they use and change around in medical and psychological diagnoses…  Basically, though, humanity clings to the concept that everything that is, can be labelled, and that this is a Good Thing.

Was it always so?  We know our Greek and Roman forebears were keen on this organised labelling idea, but if we go way back to the people who made those strange and wonderful structures that seem to evade neat classification and confound the theorists, I suspect a very different world view was in place.

Teotihuacan, Mexico City, PyramidWe are told by the experts that these creations were burial chambers or astronomical observatories or temples or meeting places or whatever the latest fragments of archaeology suggest.  They dig in the dark and assume that a few pieces of charred sheep bone or potsherds will allow them to make a classification.  The truth is, though, we don’t get it.  We, as 21st century humans, simply can’t see why so many people would work together and go to such enormous lengths to create massive, perfectly aligned and painstakingly constructed edifices such as the Giza pyramid complex, Gobekli Tepe, the Stonehenge landscape or Teotihuacan for ANY of those purposes.  The nearest (relatively) modern equivalents we can find are the great Gothic cathedrals of mediaeval Europe or intricate mausoleums, so, for want of better data, we decide that’s what they must have been ‘for’.

Deep inside, though, we know there has to be more to it than that.

What if our distant ancestors lived in a world where classification was considered counterproductive or, at the very least, irrelevant?

Think of all those folk tales and ancient religious texts where a name was considered to be a dangerous thing – so powerful that it was only to be used by initiates, and then only in the direst of circumstances.  That suggests that categorisation per se was not the way their minds worked.  Did these people see the world, and indeed the cosmos, as something so integrated, that to divide it into its constituent parts would be to destroy, weaken or pollute it?  Was it, indeed, a form of heresy?

What if, instead of saying, “Hey, guys, let’s build a gigantic temple to the gods here,”  or “Oh, this would be a great place to build an observatory,” those wise and distant people would perhaps work together to build something that was not this or that or the other, but something that was this AND that AND the other AND all that they could possibly create as a microcosm of the universe itself?

The current mainstream science-based world view is that everything is a fortuitous accident – evolution and climate, gravity and the tilt of an axis here or there somehow randomly resulted in all this.  As such, it’s very fragile, very likely to dissolve back into chaos and we need to impose order on it, if we are going to make any sense of it at all.

Earth, Globe, Space, Universe, WorldIf we can imagine a society where such a view does not hold sway – a society where the skies above us, the planet we inhabit, the plants, creatures and all of us exist as a conscious, intelligent, unified whole, with each aspect relying on the rest for its existence, there would be no need to separate and divide it.  On the contrary, all that could be done to celebrate its perfect symmetries and unity would be a job worth doing well.  I suspect that such a society would have a language based in something that expands naturally, like mathematics or perhaps musical notation, rather than words that label, define and confine.  Perhaps such a language, were it ever rediscovered, would help us towards an understanding of our mysterious ancestors, and our cosmos.

 

If The Elf Hat Fits

There’s a lot she doesn’t know. Of course there is. But plenty she does.

She knows that, just as her daddy was reading her bedtime stories, the evening after her third birthday, there was a ring at the door. She knows her daddy carried her downstairs and opened the door. She knows three men were there and one of them hit her daddy in the face.

Later, her six year old brother told her the bad men were angry because Daddy had stolen things and hidden them in the house. She didn’t say much about that, because it wasn’t something she could understand.

When the men had come back, even more angry, her mummy said it wasn’t safe at home and they had to go. They left Daddy and left their house. Her brother said Daddy had been naughty.

She was sad and angry and scared and very good at expressing her feelings. She talked a great deal about the bad men but not much about her daddy, and none of us could figure out how to explain in words that would be meaningful to her.

Sometimes, when she saw her daddy she would say, “You stealed things,” and he would agree, sadly, that he had. But that was all that was said.

She spent a lot of time thinking over the spring and summer and autumn.

By the winter, she had a new home and new friends and was going to preschool. The staff there had a funny joke for Christmas time. They said there was a naughty elf who stole things and hid them. She watched as the ladies searched for the items the elf was supposed to have stolen and listened when they told the children how cross they were with him.

She carried on thinking.

As Christmas grew nearer, her mummy asked her what she wanted to buy Daddy for Christmas. “A elf hat,” she announced, solemnly.

So that is what her daddy will get for Christmas. No doubt he’ll think it’s a cute and funny gift. No doubt he will wear it, to please her.

And she has, in her pragmatic and very literal way, found a cap to fit him… for now, at least.

A Man Who Looks on Glass

All those decades ago, when I was in primary school and singing along to rather dreary hymns in assembly, the words of one verse hit me as fascinating.  I think it went more or less like this:

A man who looks on glass
On it may stay his eye,
Or if he pleaseth through it pass,
The Heavens to espy.

Quite why ‘the Heavens’ should be lurking behind each pane of glass this man looked on, I wasn’t sure, but that property of glass – the way we are able to focus on its surface or to peer right through it to what lies beyond – stayed lodged in my mind as one of those Interesting Things about the world.

One of my favourite stories as a child was Through the Looking Glass, and What Alice Found There.  I could easily imagine her drawing-room mirror misting over, becoming treacle-like in consistency and Alice clambering excitedly into the looking-glass house beyond.  The fascination stayed with me, and when I settled recently to write a story, I decided to make one of the principal and most complex characters a glass maker.

Glass Float Handmade Blowing Craft MoltenObviously a bit of research was in order.  I’d been to visit a glass works and watched in awe as glowing globs of molten glass were removed from the furnace on long pipes and blown into huge, wobbling bubbles, ready to be shaped into all manner of marvels.  I knew it was made from sand and soda and various other substances, but I wanted some detail on the alchemy involved.

This is what I discovered.  Maybe you already knew it.  Maybe you had the kind of science teacher who moved beyond the dogma of solids, liquids and gases and explained such wonders to you.  To me, though, it was a revelation…

Sand is heated up and becomes liquid.  It transforms into glass.  This is an irreversible chemical change.  When the molten glass is removed from the heat source, it begins to solidify, but it never quite does so.

Glass, Structure, Abstract, Modern, ArtThat was the part that amazed me.  Glass is not a true solid!  It’s what is known as an amorphous solid, which means it is in the process of solidifying, but still has the properties of a very viscous liquid.  Scientists conjecture, it seems, about whether the cooled (and apparently solid-feeling) glass will ever complete that transformation – whether its molecules will every crystallise into a true solid.  The best guess seems to be that the process would take a very long time – longer than centuries.  Meanwhile, small groups of molecules within the glass are acting like parts of a solid, while others are still behaving as parts of a liquid.  They seem to slither and slide in and out of the two states without (if I can, for a moment, embue them with higher levels of sentience than we normally do) really making up their minds.

Now all that, I think, is rather astonishing.

For me, though, the most amazing part of my discovery is the way these characteristics mirror, if you’ll excuse the pun, the personality of my not-entirely-fictional glass maker.  The man I wanted to portray is a complex individual.  In many ways, he comes across as a normal, functional, middle-aged father.  There are facets of his behaviour, though, that entirely lack the solidity and dependability of such a person.  He is, in some respects, locked in the kind of volatility, fluctuating moods and emotional instability we would more normally associate with the most troubling aspects of adolescence.  If you can imagine the contents of a chrysalis, after the caterpillar’s molecules have liquified but before they have fully re-formed into the adult butterfly (a process I often used as an analogy for my poor, confused young pupils as they reached puberty and tried to fathom what was happening to themselves) that is the state of this character’s psyche.

Flower Honey Nutrition Eat Liquid Yellow EWithout knowing that such a state existed, I was writing about a man of amorphous solidity.  My character slithers, in a more or less involuntary manner, between thoughtful, rational behaviour and a devastating capriciousness and lack of clarity or consideration.  He brings down havoc and disaster upon himself and those around him and – even when all is lost – he is unable, for more than a few moments at a time, to take responsibility for all that has transpired.  Like those glass molecules, his thoughts waver and vaccilate constantly between states and refuse to settle.

How intriguing that my ever-present muse should lead me on this alchemical journey, in order to assist me in comprehending the complexities of the Glass Maker’s personality.

 

 

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 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.