Richard’s Selected Correspondence
On Our Animal Instinctual Passions in the Primitive Brain
RESPONDENT: Richard, lately I’ve noticed during my moments of contemplation I trigger some form of ASC. In this ASC, there is an overwhelming silence in my mind; this contrasts heavily to the normal state of functioning I experience wherein songs constantly play through my head. The disturbing part of the experience is this extreme sense of revulsion and absolute disgust in my stomach, literally a sense of wanting to vomit. Furthermore, there is a sense of meaninglessness.
Now, as far as the silence goes, you’ve mentioned somewhere in the correspondence sections about looking into the mirror after the second experience with your brain stem and asking ‘who’ you were without receiving an answer – the answer not even being the ‘silence that speaks louder than words’ but rather being a response to the question ‘what am I?’ (the answer being the body). I would want to equate this silence I experience with the ‘silence that speaks louder than words,’ for the sense of ‘Self’ is still fully apparent in this moments. But did you ever come across the feeling of disgust?
RICHARD: Oh, yes ... the feeling of disgust/ revulsion/ repugnance/ repulsion is part and parcel of the attraction/ aversion package of desire – genetically-endowed by virtue of its fitness towards ensuring survival – and is quite primal (a smell, for example, goes directly to the brain-stem) to the point it may very well have been, as is evidenced in single-celled/simple-celled creatures, the initial nerve reaction upon which the entire nervous system (which includes the brain proper) develops.
RESPONDENT: The only other experience mentioned on the site anywhere is about experiencing a sense of ‘meaningless and purposelessness’ while using the method, and to recall a PCE at that time. Indeed, the three characteristics are nausea, silence, and meaninglessness.
RICHARD: The apprehension of meaninglessness/ purposelessness can, in itself, induce emotional/mental nausea upon a resultant grim foreboding – a desolatory (forsaken, dismal, wretched) or bleak presage – ensuing.
RESPONDENT: I’ve yet to have a ‘significant’ PCE so far, though small ones come here and there. I’m actively breaking down the social identity in an attempt to trigger the ‘significant’ PCE. In the meantime, I’m enjoying the deprogramming from society, which is something I’ve done for some time now even before I encountered the AF website. Now with the organized method of AF, I’m able to seriously get down to business – and what a grand business it is.
RICHARD: Aye ... when one gets a handle on it all it can be such fun (as well as immensely rewarding) finding out what makes one tick.
RESPONDENT: If nothing else, at least the fact that I’ve triggered any form of ASC means that my social identity has enough of a dent in it for such a thing to happen – a by-product, a landmark, a road sign, if you will. Yet the ASC I mentioned is most certainly worthless in terms of seeking it permanently.
RICHARD: Okay, but do watch out for aversion flipping to its opposite, though, especially via any grim foreboding/bleak presage, inherent to meaninglessness/ purposelessness, slipping into being a dire foreboding – a minatory (ominous, baleful, menacing) or sinister presage – and thence to an awful foreboding ... a reconciliatory (awing, humbling, reverential) or redemptive presage.
I am, of course, only speaking in such a cautionary manner (and from personal experience) simply because you wrote of not finding much about what you were looking for on The Actual Freedom Trust web site.
RESPONDENT: Something else extremely intriguing I discovered while going into the instinctual passions was how the further ‘down’ into ‘my’ core I went, the more my senses were flooded with an altered perception of the environment, much like a buzz one gets from drinking, smoking, or getting high.
RICHARD: Yes, the less filtered all experiencing is the more brilliant it all becomes (is).
RESPONDENT: That led me to an interesting idea, that the sense of self in the body is nothing more than a biologically programmed chemical high of the body that simply happens to run full time, usually trapped under innumerable layers of social morals and values.
RICHARD: There is no doubt that identity at root – as a rudimentary feeling ‘being’ (an amorphous affective presence, an inchoate feeler/incipient intuiter) – can trigger off all manner of chemicals ... yet to conflate cause (a biological programme) and effect (a chemical high) could lead to a treating of the symptoms and not the disease itself.
RESPONDENT: Having understood this, the appeal of having a self severely diminishes.
RESPONDENT: I would like to ask you something about the universe and our world and our instinctual passions. Humans have survived and are beginning to flourish. In our world. But what about other planets, if there are other civilizations. If people would leave in a utopia without instinctual passions, in peace, and an alien powerful instinct-driven race would attack our planet, we won’t have any military to defend ourselves as a first defence.
So how would we survive then? Maybe that is the reason humanity won’t give up its instincts because such an attack is a possibility, and there’s no way to survive it without being constantly not in peace as a race, for the fire to be on, for the heat to be up, as we simply won’t have any weapons.
I understand that what I’m saying is the survival projection of survival of the species and the fear to examine passions. But isn’t there any validity to this question, as the big scheme picture might not be just the humanity, animals and this planets, but other planets and other raging species?
Thanks for your time.
RICHARD: The nearest star (Proxima Centauri) is over forty trillion kilometres away and the US space shuttle, which travels at about eight kilometres per second, would take a hundred and sixty thousand years to reach it. The fastest spacecraft to date (Helios II), which set a speed record of seventy kilometres per second, would take eighteen thousand years to travel that distance ... far, far beyond the lifespan of both the crew and the craft.
Also, if there were to be a planet hospitable to life-forms orbiting that star, and if an alien species were to be inhabiting that hypothetical planet, and if that hypothetical species inhabiting that hypothetical planet were to be of the opinion that planet earth was worth attacking, then the ‘alien condition’ (to coin a phrase) would render any such interstellar voyage of aggression and domination untenable as they would be at each other’s hypothetical throats long before they arrived.
Indeed, one of the biggest stumbling blocks to long-distance human space travel is the human condition itself (as is evidenced by wintering over in the Antarctica for instance).
As for the intergalactic voyages so ubiquitous in the sci-fi genre: the nearest major galaxy (the Andromeda galaxy) is located at a distance of two million light-years away and, as a light-year is about nine and a half trillion kilometres in length, one does not even have to do the maths in order to gain sufficient comprehension of the sheer impracticability of any voyage of that magnitude.
Incidentally, if there were to be an alien species sufficiently advanced technologically to have developed a super-fast means of transport then their weaponry would be so far in advance of the current human arsenal anyway that it is pointless to even contemplate any such scenario as needing to continue being a [quote] ‘raging species’ [endquote] in order to defend planet earth from any such hypothetical attack.
RESPONDENT: Richard, would humanity sans instinctual passions still have the inclination and ability to maintain a technologically advanced civilisation?
RICHARD: As anything short of going naked in the world at large, without so much as even a box of matches, a knife, or a packet of salt, and gathering berries/fruit by hand and digging for roots/ yams with same, is a technological advancement on pure animality there is no reason whatsoever why human beings collectively would not continue to maintain the myriad benefits of civilisation just because they opted for peace-on-earth.
Indeed, whilst it is quite amazing what has already been achieved, despite the human condition, just what possible advancements there are to be accomplished in a world without war and murder and rape and torture and domestic violence and child abuse and sadness and loneliness and grief and depression and suicide, and so on, and so forth, lie beyond present-day comprehension.
RESPONDENT: The bottom line is that you can’t understand the nature of mind by merely studying the words of others.
RICHARD: As I have repeatedly referred to a living understanding of, not only eleven years of spiritual enlightenment, but a decade now of an actual freedom from the human condition, I do look askance at what you say here ... plus there is more to understanding human nature than pointing the finger at thought. Vis.: [Respondent]: ‘The self is nothing other than conditioning, the thinker/feeler/doer is thought. [endquote]. As feelings demonstrably come before thought in the perceptive process this is but a shallow understanding.
RESPONDENT: Why divide the process up?
RICHARD: I am not dividing the process up ... that is how it operates naturally (as is borne out by laboratory testing): sensate perception is primary; affective perception is secondary; cognitive perception is tertiary.
The sensate signal, a loud sound for example, takes 12-14 milliseconds to reach the affective faculty and 24-25 milliseconds to reach the cognitive faculty: thus by the time reasoned cognition can take place the instinctual passions are pumping freeze-fight-flee chemicals throughout the body thus agitating cognitive appraisal ... and whilst there is a narrowband circuit from the cognitive centre to the affective centre (through which reason can dampen-down and stop the reactive response) the circuitry from the affective faculty to the cognitive faculty is broadband (which is why it takes some time to calm down after an emotional reaction).
Not that I knew anything of these laboratory tests all those years ago ... but it is always pleasing when science proves what one has already sussed out for oneself.
RESPONDENT: Whatever presents itself in terms of divisive thought and feeling can dissolve in awareness.
RESPONDENT: By dividing the process up, I mean, why bring in the aspect of time or chronology?
RICHARD: Again, I am not bringing in sequence (the chronology of time) as that is what happens of its own accord ... and it is so easy to find out for oneself this is so that science is not required at all: there is a loud noise; there is an alarming feeling-freeze-fight-flee; there is thought seeking to evaluate.
Ergo: sensate perception is primary; affective perception is secondary; cognitive perception is tertiary.
As animals other than the human animal display this ‘fright-freeze-fight-flee’ instinctually passionate reaction it is patently obvious that the feeling self is primal and the thinking self derivative ... and that the thinking self is, fundamentally, affective in substance. Moreover, there is some evidence that awareness of being this primordial ‘self’ – as in ‘self’-consciousness – has arisen in other animals: the chimpanzee, for example, can recognise its image in a mirror as being itself and not another of its species (such as the canary does for instance) and there are preliminary reports that the same may be happening for the dolphin.
Further to the point, as the essential affective feelings are in situ before thought first arises in infancy – a baby is born already feeling – it becomes even more obvious that the feeler, as an embryonic feeling being, is innate in sentient beings ... that the already existing basic set of survival passions form themselves into being the intuitive presence which, at root, is what any ‘me’ ultimately is long before the thinker comes into being.
Any and all conditioning, be it familial, societal, peer-group, or environmental imprinting, needs substance to latch onto, sink into, and be ... it all washes off a clean slate like water off a duck’s back.
RICHARD: ... there is more to understanding human nature than pointing the finger at thought. Vis.: [Respondent No. 12]: ‘The self is nothing other than conditioning, the thinker/ feeler/ doer is thought’. [endquote]. As feelings demonstrably come before thought in the perceptive process this is but a shallow understanding.
RESPONDENT No. 12: Why divide the process up?
RICHARD: I am not dividing the process up ... that is how it operates naturally (as is borne out by laboratory testing): sensate perception is primary; affective perception is secondary; cognitive perception is tertiary. The sensate signal, a loud sound for example, takes 12-14 milliseconds to reach the affective faculty and 24-25 milliseconds to reach the cognitive faculty: thus by the time reasoned cognition can take place the instinctual passions are pumping freeze-fight-flee chemicals throughout the body thus agitating cognitive appraisal ... and whilst there is a narrowband circuit from the cognitive centre to the affective centre (through which reason can dampen-down and stop the reactive response) the circuitry from the affective faculty to the cognitive faculty is broadband (which is why it takes some time to calm down after an emotional reaction).
RESPONDENT: I have heard you make a distinction between the instincts and the instinctual passions ...
RICHARD: As the words ‘instincts’ and ‘instinctual survival mechanism’ my co-respondent was using covers a wide range of innate behaviours – heritable traits such as the display movements of birds (as in peacocks for instance), or the web-spinning actions of spiders, the burrowing habits of marine worms, the prey-catching techniques of weasels or wolves, the food-hoarding activity of squirrels, the browsing methods of antelope, birds flying north (or south) for winter, river eels travelling thousands of kilometres out into the ocean to spawn and the feelings finding their own way back to the self-same river, and so on – it seemed necessary to point out, for clarity in communication, that I was referring to the instinctual survival passions in particular, the genetically-encoded affective feelings, and not the instincts in general.
RESPONDENT: ... and here above you are saying that the instinctual passions are pumping freeze-fight-flee chemicals through the body. Do the instinctual passions arise from the instincts?
RICHARD: No, they are biologically inherited just as all the other instincts are ... and although there is no absolute consensus among biologists and their ilk, as to what feelings are primary and what feelings are cultivated derivations, wherever I have listened to, read about, or watched professionals in this field discussing the issue, at least four basic passions cropped up again and again: the feelings of fear and aggression and nurture and desire.
RESPONDENT: Are they connected?
RICHARD: Not necessarily ... although a great many instinctual actions are infused with, if not motivated by, the instinctual passions.
RESPONDENT: How does this work?
RICHARD: A readily observable instinctive reaction in oneself, that is not necessarily affective, is the automatic response known as the reflex action (inadvertently touch a hotplate, for instance, and there is an involuntary jerking away of the affected limb) or the startle response.
A classic example of this occurred whilst strolling along a country lane one fine morning with the sunlight dancing its magic on the glistening dew-drops suspended from the greenery everywhere; these eyes are delighting in the profusion of colour and texture and form as the panorama unfolds; these ears are revelling in the cadence of tones as their resonance and timbre fills the air; these nostrils are rejoicing in the abundance of aromas and scents drifting fragrantly all about; this skin is savouring the touch, the caress, of the early springtime ambience; this mind, other than the sheer enjoyment and appreciation of being alive as this flesh and blood body, is ambling along in neutral – there is no thought at all and conscious alertness is null and void – when all-of-a-sudden the easy gait has ceased happening.
These eyes instantly shift from admiring the dun-coloured cows in a field nearby and are looking downward to the front and see the green and black snake, coiling up on the road in readiness to act, which had not only occasioned the abrupt halt but, it is discovered, had initiated a rapid step backwards ... an instinctive response which, had the instinctual passions that are the identity been in situ, could very well have triggered off freeze-fight-flee chemicals.
There is no perturbation whatsoever (no wide-eyed staring, no increase in heart-beat, no rapid breathing, no adrenaline-tensed muscle tone, no sweaty palms, no blood draining from the face, and so on) as with the complete absence of the rudimentary animal ‘self’ in the primordial brain the limbic system in general, and the amygdala in particular, have been free to do their job – the oh-so-vital startle response – both efficaciously and cleanly.
RICHARD: The physical (sensate) pain/ pleasure is essential in negotiating the physical world ... the process of it is a straightforward cause/ effect feedback system. The process of the emotional (affective) pain/ pleasure has to do with the instinctual survival passions ... which have become superannuated (they reached their ‘use-by date’ long ago) and are now a dead-weight around the neck of humankind.
RESPONDENT: I think what your saying here is that the instinctive survival passions are a process of the psyche in that they are emotional (affective).
RICHARD: Yes ... commonly called the ‘inner world’.
RESPONDENT: Once these instinctual survival passions are eliminated what then is the response to danger such as overwhelming physical attack?
RICHARD: An intelligent response.
RESPONDENT: Without the fight or flight response how does one deal with this type of situation?
RICHARD: Fearlessly. The instinctual passion of fear triggers any one of three reactions: freeze, flight or fight ... none of which are necessarily appropriate when dealing with the most common aggressor (human beings) in today’s world. In this day and age negotiation is by far the most efficacious response to a threatening situation. And fear – adrenaline coursing through the veins; the heart pumping furiously; the palms sweaty; the face blanched white; knuckles gripped; body tensed and so on and so on – cripples effective negotiation and is hardly conducive to a healthy outcome. Of course one still has the option to freeze or flee or fight if that is what the situation calls for ... with the added advantage of such action not being fear-driven (or courage-driven).
RESPONDENT: I am still doubtful as to how one has the supernormal strength to deal with a sudden surprising overpowering attack without the boost from adrenaline. Are you saying that one still has this added strength if needed even without the adrenaline?
RICHARD: Yes ... adrenaline equals effort (usually followed by debilitation).
RICHARD: Foolish courage – an impulse sourced in fear – can cause one to take needless risks. There was a fanciful movie released circa 1995-6 called ‘Fearless’ by Mr. Peter Weir which gives the wrong impression of what being without fear is like ... ‘Foolhardy’ would be a better title.
RESPONDENT: I saw that movie starring Jeff Bridges and Rosie Perez. I liked the movie and I remember fantasizing what it would be like to be without fear. I understand what you are saying about the movie’s version of being fearless as ‘foolhardy’ in that it promoted taking ‘needless risks’.
RICHARD: I find that I take more care these days than when the instinctual passions were operating ... when walking with another, for a simple example, they will zip across a busy street whereas I wait for an adequate break in the traffic.
RESPONDENT: Does the organism still respond to this type of situation?
RICHARD: The split-second bodily ‘startle’ or ‘reflex’ action still operates – the process of which is a straightforward cause/effect feedback system – as it is the instinctual passions which are non-existent (along with all their conditioned and cultivated extensions).
RESPONDENT: I understand what you are saying about the ‘straightforward cause/ effect feedback system’ but as I stated above I am still doubtful about the supernormal strength that comes from adrenaline being available when and if needed.
RICHARD: Having one’s activities occasioned in and by/as the infinitude of eternal time, infinite space and perpetual matter/ energy in action – as appropriate to and only available as per the circumstances – is far, far better than an adrenaline boost any day.
RICHARD: There is no fear here in this actual world where I live – there is no fear in a flower, a tree, an ashtray, an armchair, a rock – not even disquietude, uneasiness, nervousness or apprehension, let alone anxiety, angst, fear, terror, horror or dread.
RESPONDENT No. 49: If someone breaks into your house at night, if someone kidnaps your wife, if a sudden economical change takes your pension from you ... I hope none of these actually ever happens to you, but if they did how would you feel? How would you re-act?
RICHARD: The burglary question I can answer from direct experience ... someone broke into my house at 3.00 AM about six months ago. How did I feel? I did not feel anything. How did I re-act? There was no need of reaction ... I did the obvious in this day and age: I first rang the police and then rang the 24 hour credit-card hotline. The police arrived at the door just as a neighbour was calling to report a similar break-in ... all-in-all there were nine houses broken into that night. The felon has been apprehended <snip>.
RESPONDENT: If there is an actual physical threat yet no immediate evaluative (emotional) response to that physical threat gets registered, a valuable feedback loop is absent.
RICHARD: Yes ... the instinctual survival passions are what has enabled all sentient beings alive today to be here on the planet: all animals – including the human animal – are the end-result of the ‘success story’ of what you rightly describe as the ‘immediate evaluative (emotional) response to that physical threat’ .
RESPONDENT: We have the capacity to immediately intuit through feelings what is what without the time and delay required for thinking that there is a threat, calculating the nature of the threat and assessing in a linear manner what is the optimal response to that threat.
RICHARD: Yes, those who study these things with precision instruments have repeatedly determined that the non-cognitive or emotional brain receives the perceptive signal 12-14 milliseconds before the cognitive brain. The non-cognitive brain releases chemicals which flood the brain – including the cognitive brain – and the remainder of the body with what is non-cognitively (emotionally) assessed as appropriate ... this is described as ‘the quick and dirty’ response.
The perceptive signal takes 24 milliseconds to reach the cognitive brain: by the time thinking commences thought is flooding with chemicals ... and is receiving signals from the emotional brain through a direct neuro-pathway. There is also a neuro-pathway from the cognitive brain back to the non-cognitive emotional brain which transmits signals for the emotional brain to continue, alter or cease the chemical release. This neuro-pathway back to the non-cognitive brain, in contrast to the ‘broadband’ neuro-pathway from the emotional brain to the cognitive brain, is a ‘narrowband’ neuro-pathway ... which is why thought takes time to calm the non-cognitive brain if its emotional reaction is cognitively adjudged inappropriate.
If cognitively adjudged appropriate it can signal an increase in the chemical release which, via the broadband/narrowband feed-back loop, can escalate all the way through to what can be called ‘blind rage’ ... as in ‘I saw red’ or ‘I don’t know what came over me’. This is because the considered cognitive response – being flooded with chemicals – cannot necessarily consider with clarity until the chemical release ceases ... which can result in chagrin or mortification (another chemical release) or some other feeling (some other chemical release) after the event if the emotionally reactive behaviour was inappropriate.
Shall I follow this through but one of the many, many possible scenarios? The feeling of chagrin or mortification can result in a feeling of shame or guilt (another chemical release); shame or guilt can result in a feeling of regret or remorse (another chemical release); regret or remorse can result in a feeling of penitence or repentance (another chemical release); penitence or repentance can result in a feeling of absolution or forgiveness (another chemical release); absolution or forgiveness can result in a feeling of thankfulness or gratitude (another chemical release); thankfulness or gratitude can result in a feeling of affection or love (another chemical release); affection or love can result in a feeling of belonging or oneness (another chemical release).
These chemical floods are so addictive, of course, that they can lead to what could be called continuous substance abuse ... both legally and morally recommended and sanctioned by society at large.
RESPONDENT: The absence of fear in a tree or ashtray or armchair implies that intelligence (clear perception of a threat) is not operating on the level of the particular.
RICHARD: The neuro-scientists would be hard-pressed to describe the ‘quick and dirty’ response – the non-cognitive emotional reaction – as ‘intelligence’ or ‘clear perception of a threat’ ... if by ‘clear’ and ‘intelligence’ you mean a non-emotional, thoughtful response.
RICHARD: It is not thought that imputes a thinker. It is the passion engendered by the instinctual self in the reptilian brain that remains the real culprit.
RESPONDENT: Well I guess that simplifies things. What does this instinctual self look like?
RICHARD: You have asked me a similar question before and I let it pass by. [Respondent]: ‘What does the soul look like?’ I might as well respond to both questions now ... as well as what the ego looks like, just to complete the description.
MARK: I have not had any real idea on how to approach them [instincts]. My reason for this being that if we are born with instincts intact right from our first moment and, given that we are a clean slate so to speak, then, said instincts must be encoded in the DNA ... or what?
RICHARD: As deoxyribonucleic acid, a self-replicating material which is especially found in the chromosomes of nearly all living organisms, is the carrier of genetic information it would seem to be so that instincts are encoded therein. I say this with the proviso that I am seeking an explanation ‘after the act’ for what happened at the base of the skull where it meets the top of the brain-stem, and I would rather look to the latest scientific probes so as to establish an empirically-grounded account rather than any other hypothesis, as practical science must be factually based. Most scientists’ facts are rather far and few between, however, and many of their ‘facts’ later turn out to be flawed methodology arising out of their expectations based upon their belief systems and/or mind-set. After all, they are fallible, ego-ridden and soul-bound human beings trapped in the human condition like everybody else, and are seeking to find a way through all this mess, that we humans are born into, via the scientific method. Theoretical science – such as this century’s quantum physics with its mystical cosmogony – makes a mockery of the meaning of the phrase ‘scientific method’. Mr. Albert Einstein left a legacy that has the intelligence of the partisans’ of the relativists faction firmly gripped in pursuing fantastical scenarios rather than addressing utilitarian matters ... like human suffering.
MARK: And how does one delete a part of one’s DNA (personally speaking my gene splicing skills leave a lot to be desired). I still don’t understand how one is to undo the deepest layers of instinct.
RICHARD: Speaking personally from experience, eventually – and ultimately – all the instincts are undone instantly via psychological and psychic ‘self’-sacrifice. This is, purely and simply, altruism at its very best ... and altruism’s energy is an instinctual passion (this is indeed hoisting oneself by one’s bootstraps ... writ large). However, until the initiation of the process that leads to ‘self’-immolation is consciously triggered – whereupon the ending of ‘me’ happens of its own accord – one can become acutely aware of the operation of the instinctual passions as they are experienced moment-to-moment. It is but the same ‘How am I experiencing this moment of being alive?’ investigation of beliefs and feelings ... only extended deeper into one’s psyche.
Strangely enough, it does mean an exploration into the psychic realm ... which is why it is essential that one first establishes a firm base – called virtual freedom – to fall back upon when the going gets tough. A journey into one’s psyche – which is the human psyche – is not for the faint of heart or the weak of knee ... one must have nerves of steel to go all the way. The rewards for doing so are immense, however, and the ramifications far-reaching.
MARK: As to the question of the instinct’s (and indeed the self’s) only toehold on the body (that seemingly undeletable interface between the body and instincts that I spoke of earlier, that possible DNA connection), is it not possible that the ‘physical turning over of something in the base of the brain’ that Richard speaks of in his last moments as a being, is the final unlocking of some physically encoded something in the ... somewhere!
RICHARD: The physically encoded ‘something’ is indeed located ‘somewhere’ ... at and around the top of the brain-stem. Perhaps it may clarify the issue if I post a rather long selection of quotes from a molecular biologist who taught microbiology and biochemistry in Australia and New Zealand universities, the late Mr. Darryl Reanney ... so as to provide a geneticist’s slant on the issue?
These value judgements colour the underlying instinct so deeply that the sensation of love, which we normally associate with sex, is seen as the ‘highest’ of all human emotions. These instincts conform to a common pattern. In cases studied in animals, the instinct is often triggered by a specific signal which behavioural scientists call an innate releasing mechanism or IRM. The role of hormones in instinctive behaviour is often misunderstood. Hormones are responsible for the ‘state of arousal’, the ‘turn-on’ that accompanies the instinct but they do not trigger it. This is the role of the IRM. What hormones do is determine the threshold of response. There has been an enormous controversy over the question of whether IRM’s exist in humans and, if so, whether these are learned or inherited. The controversy need not concern us. There is no doubt that we share the instincts of the four F’s with our vertebrate relatives (for example, the chemical changes in the blood of a terrified man are identical to those in the blood of a terrified cat), and it seems hard to dispute that these instincts are activated by powerful stimuli or signals.
Once an IRM has set the scene in an appropriately primed individual, the final step is the carrying out of a specific action pattern which leads the animal to physically engage in the particular behaviour which the specific hormone has prepared and the specific IRM triggered. Behaviourial scientists call these selective action patterns ‘consummatory’ acts because they remove the source of their own motivation. The pattern common to all instincts is thus encoded in the following paradigm. Hormones raise the level of arousal and thereby diminish the barriers that inhibit the action pattern; the IRM triggers the action and the consummatory act completes the sequence. Instinctive behaviour is fundamentally goal-driven and goal-oriented. This is why it conveys such a strong impression of purpose (...) we are sexually reproducing creatures so our genes are a 50:50 blend of those from each parent. This mixing of genes makes each of us a physically unique individual. Experience builds on these genetic differences, differentiating us increasingly from our fellows as we grow up.
By the time we are 13 years old, we normally have strongly developed ego-selves – we are recognizable individuals, labelled by society with identity tags called names. Manifestly then, evolution still works on and through individual differences between people (...) human society experiences a mode of natural selection based on competition between ego-conscious individuals. What this process selects for is, in the main, what one might expect of such a system: greed, survival at all costs, a ‘killer instinct’ in business, a massive emphasis on goods which reflect enlarged ego structures, wealth, power, indifference to others – in short, selfishness. Selfish egos replace selfish genes. The basic nature of the ego-self shows up in the way it is constructed within each individual brain. The ego-self is an expression of the learned layers of memory stored in the cortex but – and here is the crucial point – the ego-self remains inextricably locked into the survival software permanently written into its genes. The genes of every human being create in the physical brain a robot, the limbic/reptilian complex which houses the survival instincts. This robot is the same in all of us. Blindly, it pegs each emerging layer of the ego-self to the ancient feedback loop of self-preservation. The process is one-way. Once an experience has been added to memory, it becomes part of the ego-self, to be conserved along with every thing that went before. Thus the robot – something we all share as part of our evolutionary heritage – becomes the unwitting agent by which our emerging personalities – the source of our differences – become hostage to foreverness.
The chemical loop of self-preservation takes into itself the psychological ego-self. According to its program, what the robot must do is maintain the status quo. This has a far-reaching consequence. Once a strong sense of ego-self has developed during the later years of childhood and the teens, the new (and mostly unimportant) day-to-day experiences of life usually serve to reinforce (or at worst only slightly modify) the current status quo structure of the ego-self. We cling fanatically to our sense of identity, of me-ness, because it has become our lens of life, our window to the world, our personal guardian of the universal survival imperative of the selfish gene. Because selfish egos spring from selfish genes, the ‘desires’ built into the ego-cage are open-ended. It is the nature of the ego to reinforce its own ‘self-image’ by always wanting more of those things which strengthen its ‘definition’ – more money, more power, more time (whence springs its open-ended urge to last forever). To put this another way and so make my next point, what we dread above almost all else is change. By this, I do not mean the simple addition of ordinary day-to-day experiences which are easily accommodated within the existing ego-self structure: I mean changes that profoundly alter the ego-self, reshaping and remaking it. The reason for this is fundamental. If we change the ‘I’ self-image too deeply, we create a new creature; the ‘me’ that emerges from a profound personality change is, in a real and factual sense, no longer me – it is a stranger, it is other. For this reason, and I believe this is a defining feature of human growth, the transformative experiences of life, those which involve suffering and pain, and ‘shake us to the core’ are innately resisted by the self-preserving robot whose task it is (remember) to blindly maintain the status quo.
Human psychology is inherently self-protective and conservative (...) the discovery of evolution, more than anything else, heightened an age-old tension that has ‘always’ existed between the conservatism of our subconscious (the seat of instinct) and the flexibility of our cerebral cortex (the seat of intelligence). I once described man as a ‘machine that dreams’. The machine is the robot in the limbic brain, fixed in form and programmed by genes to maintain what is as it is. The dreamer is the cerebral cortex, a free-wheeling adventurer whose software programs are written not by genes but by experience. A dreamer dreams of things that are not yet. He dreams of change. And change is what the ego-self fears. We are in literal truth at war with ourselves, the robot in the limbic brain struggling to keep the status quo while the adventurer in the cortex toys with novelty.
This war within our psychology, like the day/night cycle, has become externalized in our myths. Almost every human culture has developed a folklore which shows the universe polarized between warring opposites: God versus the Devil, Good versus Evil, Light versus Darkness, Osiris versus Set. The pleasure/pain centres of the limbic cortex act as ordering foci for these opposites of experience. Now we see that the ‘struggle’ between the pleasurable (good/bright/day) centre and the painful (bad/dark/night) centre is also interleaved with an unresolved conflict between the bottom story of the mind, where instinct dwells, and the upper story where thought lives (...) bedded deeply in the mind then are dual programs which are exactly reciprocal in the sense that one arouses while the other diminishes the desire to consummate the ‘drive’ in question, be it eating, fighting or mating. These linked opposites are reflected in a wide range of contrasting human attributes: pleasure and pain (the primary feelings) and reward and punishment (the derived values). Carried to an extreme, the primary feelings of pleasure and pain become intensive emotive hyper-states: ecstasy and agony. I believe these linked opposites find direct, unambiguous expression in two of our most fundamental myths, the opposing hereafters of heaven (bliss equals reward) and hell (agony equals punishment); they are also strongly linked to the contrasting opposites of good and evil. The ancient Aryan Indians talked of the Gods Indra and Soma hurling ‘sinners’ down to ‘hell’ and Vedic scripture contains dark references to a black underground for ‘wrong-doers’. The heaven/hell duality was also mirrored in and reinforced by the other great contrasting principles of human experience – day and night (again), male and female, hot and cold, etc. Most religions contain some symbolism based on the duality of linked opposites – yin/yang (widespread in Oriental religions), light/dark (Zoroastrianism), heaven/hell (Christianity) (...) the fact that our personalities are ‘divided against themselves’ points to a profound evolutionary paradox.
Whenever a better adapted form of life appears during evolution, the old form of life from which it arose is doomed. In a sense, a superior variant is a traitor to its own kind for, given time, it will eliminate its own antecedents. Instinctive behaviour is fundamentally goal-driven and goal-oriented. This is why it conveys such a strong impression of purpose (...) to bring out the inner nature of instinct, we can recap it thus: eating and drinking equals self-maintenance; fighting or fleeing equals self-preservation and reproduction equals self-continuation. We possess all these instincts; they are our ‘original sin’ – the genetic memory of our animal ancestry. However, the selective action pattern of each instinct does not, in the human case, take place in a mindless mechanical automaton like a thermostat. The chemical states associated with each instinct register in our conscious awareness as feelings’. (‘The Death of Forever; A New Future for Human Consciousness’; By Darryl Reanney; Teacher of microbiology and biochemistry, University of Canterbury. N. Z., LaTrobe University, Australia. Publisher: Longman 1991 ISBN 0 582 87054-2)
MARK: Did I mention conjecture anywhere? Richard, would you comment on this? In particular the instincts in a newborn human ... when, where, how?
RICHARD: ‘When’? At conception. ‘Where’? At the top of the brain-stem where it joins the base of the skull. ‘How’? The evolutionary result of maybe 50,000 years (Home Sapiens) or 100,000 years (Homo Erectus) of operation of the survival mechanism. (Given that these tens of thousands of years that biologists, anthropologists, palaeontologists and their ilk toss around with aplomb are highly speculative figures).
Those people, who have dedicated themselves to the particular type of research that painstakingly looks into these matters, have located at least four basic emotions in what is variously called the ‘primitive brain’ or the ‘lizard brain’ or the ‘reptilian brain’, which is located at the top of the brain-stem of all sentient creatures. This is regardless of whether the creature has a developed ‘bigger brain’ – like the human cerebral cortex – over the top of it or not. These basic instinctual passions are fear and aggression and nurture and desire ... there are more but scientists tend to disagree about matters scientific according to what school or discipline they are working in. For example: fear.
I have recently been browsing the work of Mr. Joseph LeDoux, who writes:
Despite dealing with people’s feelings every day, few therapists can give more than a basic explanation of what exactly instinctual passion is (what neurobiologists call ‘emotion’), and how it influences human functioning. Evolutionary biology plays a strong role in what Mr. Joseph LeDoux calls ‘the emotional brain’, those emotional drives which are inherited from humans’ prehistoric ancestors, such that conscious (explicit) emotional experience can be easily seen as higher-order forms of the sub-conscious survival instinctual (implicit) passions ... if one examines oneself moment-to moment.
One critic of his book ‘The Emotional Brain’ wrote:
Another critic wrote:
Mr. Stephen S. Hall wrote in the New York Times, February 28, 1999 :
Mr. Joseph LeDoux’s laboratory continues to investigate the workings of the brain ... and they maintain a web page that may be worth a visit (although it takes some wading through). Vis.: www.cns.nyu.edu/home/ledoux/
Mr. Daniel Goleman has written:
This is a clear statement of fact: ‘Intelligence can come to nothing when the emotions hold sway’. There is a wealth of information both in print and on the Internet ... which all reinforces what I wrote in ‘Richard’s Journal’ some years ago: ‘Humankind is poised on the cusp of the dawning of a fresh era; an era wherein an evolution in the brain-stem is beginning to happen. The seat of the instincts, tentatively located in the popularly named ‘reptilian brain’, is capable of undergoing a mutation. No longer will blind nature have to operate; the perpetuation of the species will become a matter of lucid thought and personal choice. No longer will vicious wars of group survival be necessary. Already, with the advent of mutually assured destruction because of nuclear capability, people are questioning the advisability of war as a means of settling disputes. The apprehension of a cataclysmic end to human life has shaken the habitual and apathetic ‘human’ complacency to such an extent that the mind is now ready to be receptive to something entirely new in human history’.
RICHARD: There is that truism that states: ‘We are all unique’. I say ‘truism’ deliberately, for I am immediately reminded of that scene in ‘The Life Of Brian’ where Brian addresses the crowd saying: ‘You are all individuals’. The crowd roars back in unison: ‘We are all individuals’. Down the back a lone voice cries out: ‘I’m not!’ Of course, the Monty Python crew were making a social comment, when they wrote that scene, about the conditioned identity of the average citizen when it comes to following a spiritual leader, but one can consider whether it holds well for humankind at large. Human beings are all born with the same basic instincts and, no matter which culture one was socialised into being a member of, all peoples throughout the world have the same emotions and passions. Anger and forbearance, for instance, is anger and forbearance wherever it lives. There is no difference at root between English anger and forbearance and American anger and forbearance and African anger and forbearance and so on. Or love and hatred, enmity and alliance, jealousy and acceptance ... whatever the emotion or passion may be, they all have a global incidence.
RESPONDENT: Basic emotions seem to be universal indeed.
RICHARD: The ‘basic emotions’ not only ‘seem to be universal’, they are unambiguously universal ... and have been demonstrated to be so in many studies around the world. These ‘basic emotions’ (like fear and aggression and nurture and desire) are the hallmark of virtually any sentient being ... they are blind nature’s instinctual software package genetically encoded into the germ-cells of the spermatozoa and the ova. And these survival instincts are what has enabled us to be born at all; they are what has enabled us to be here today after multiple generations of the development of the evolutionary ‘weeding out’ process of the ‘survival of the most fitted to the environment’ natural selection hypothesis first publicly proposed by Mr. Charles Darwin and Mr. A. R. Wallace in 1858. Their simultaneous publishing of their account of evolution was, says the Oxford Dictionary somewhat dryly, ‘to the consternation of theologians’ ... the same-same response that Mr. Galileo Galilei faced in 1610.
Yet peoples today – 141 years later – are still in massive denial of this oh-so-obvious common animal ancestry. Many is the person who has protested to me that ‘I am not an animal’ ... thus shutting the door on their investigation into what it is to be a human being living in the world as it is with people as they are. What a shame, what a pity ... no, what a sin it is to persist so tenaciously in holding on to ‘being’ – which is but the end-product of all animosity and anguish through the aeons – when this actual world, which is so perfectly pure, is right under one’s nose.
ALAN: So, if ‘I’ believe ‘I’ actually exist, ‘I’ must believe that ‘I’ came from somewhere ‘out there’.
RICHARD: If anything ‘I’ came from ‘back there’ in the biological hereditary and very earthy past (hence all the atavistic fears when one starts to break free from all the cultural mores). Why is the belief in ‘out there’ so strong (in the face of all the empirical evidence) would you say? I am genuinely interested ... I cannot find this out for myself as the instinctual connection has vanished.
ALAN: O.K. let’s have a go. What I was pursuing was an intellectual exploration and logical examination of the facts surrounding the belief that ‘I’ actually exist, which led me to the conclusion that, if ‘I’ do actually exist, ‘I’ must have come from ‘somewhere’. I (wrongly) jumped to the commonly accepted belief that ‘I’ must have come from ‘out there’. I now understand what you are saying and agree wholeheartedly – I came from ‘‘back there’ in the biological hereditary and very earthy past’. ‘I’ have always existed (or for a very long time, anyway) and will always exist (unless humanity comes to its senses – literally), though not of course as this body called Alan. Blindingly obvious, in fact!
RICHARD: Is it not amazing how obvious – and how simple – all this is? Peoples have been unnecessarily complicating what is a rather straight-forward biological issue, when all is said and done.
ALAN: But, to accept this as a fact, it is necessary to accept that ‘I’ do not actually exist – the person (as opposed to the body) called ‘Alan’ is not a separate individual – and ‘my’ world falls apart – all ‘I’ am is these biologically inherited instincts.
RICHARD: Nothing more and nothing less ... except imagination and illusion leading to fantasy and delusion.
ALAN: Which puts me in mind of a line from a Moody Blues song – ‘I’m more than that, I know I am – at least, I think I must be’. Only one mistake in that line – it should be ‘believe’, not ‘think’.
RICHARD: It is amazing how humble one can be about ‘knowing’ that one is god-on-earth!
ALAN: Similarly it should be ‘I believe, therefore I am’.
RICHARD: Yea verily ... Mr. René Descartes’ bequest lives on to this present day. I had an edifying correspondence with someone (supposedly with a University degree in Philosophy) on another Mailing List some time ago.
ALAN: If ‘I’ do not believe ‘I’ actually exist, then ‘I’ will not exist. ‘I’ have to believe in ‘my’ existence, otherwise what am I left with. And what is there to be afraid of? If ‘I’ do not actually exist – and it is only ‘me’ who feels fear – then fear does not actually exist. None of it actually exists – Wow. So, I have not got far on answering your question – except to say ‘I’ have to believe in ‘out there’. If ‘I’ do not, I have to accept that ‘I’ do not actually exist.
RICHARD: Hmm ... I guess I was rather expectant that you may be able to experience the atavistic reality of coming from ‘back there’, once the belief in ‘out there’ disappeared, and personally verify what Mr. Joseph LeDoux’s empirical data is demonstrating.
RICHARD: I discovered that it was a physically inherited cause (a genetically inherited instinctual animal ‘self’) that created the problem of the human condition and thus promote a physical solution (extinction of instinctual ‘being’ itself) derived from my personal experience.
RESPONDENT: Please, can you extend your meaning about ‘and thus promote a physical solution (extinction of instinctual ‘being’ itself)’. Please, what is your approximation, what do you mean by ‘a physical solution (extinction of instinctual ‘being’ itself) derived from my personal experience’. Feel free to express as you like, this is to much serious for me, ‘agree or disagree’ will be only my business but I will thanks a lot any personal approach on this point.
RICHARD: In my investigations I first started by examining thought, thoughts and thinking ... then very soon moved on to examining feelings (first the emotions and then the deeper feelings). When I dug down into these passions (into the core of ‘my’ being then into ‘being’ itself) I stumbled across the instincts ... and found the origin of not only the affective faculty but the psyche itself. I found ‘me’ at the core of ‘being’ ... which is the instinctual rudimentary animal self common to all sentient beings (otherwise mistakenly known as the ‘original face’ and is what gives rise to the feeling of ‘oneness’ with all other sentient beings). This is a very ancient genetic memory.
Being a ‘self’ is because the only way into this world of people, things and events is via the human spermatozoa fertilising the human ova ... thus every human being is endowed, by blind nature, with the basic instinctual passions of fear and aggression and nurture and desire. These passions are the very energy source of the rudimentary animal self ... the base consciousness of ‘self’ and ‘other’ that all sentient beings have. The human animal – with its unique ability to be aware of its own death – transforms this ‘reptilian brain’ rudimentary animal ‘self’ into being a feeling ‘me’ (as soul in the heart) and from this core of ‘being’ the ‘feeler’ then infiltrates into thought to become the ‘thinker’ ... a thinking ‘I’ (as ego in the head). No other animal can do this. That this process is aided and abetted by the human beings who were already on this planet when one was born – which is conditioning and programming and is part and parcel of the socialising process – is but the tip of the ice-burg and not the main issue at all. There is much, much more to an investigation into the human condition than ‘the thinker is the thought’, because (to put it in the same lingo) the ‘feeler’ is the feelings ... and the feelings are, as the root of the psyche, ‘being’ itself.
The physical solution (extinction of instinctual ‘being’ itself) will not eventuate unless the physically inherited cause (a genetically inherited instinctual animal ‘self’) that created the problem of the human condition is intimately experienced. To proceed from a sound basis, one starts with facts: to be alive (not dead) and awake (not asleep) and conscious (not unconscious) and aware and perceiving (and maybe thinking, remembering, reflecting and proposing considered action) is the human mind that every human being is born with and, as such, is similar around the globe and through all generations. Intimate access to the activity of each mind is personal (as opposed to public) but the basic activities of the mind are not individual (‘individual’ as distinguished from others by qualities of its own). This neuronal activity – consciousness itself – is what the human mind is and thus, contrary to popular belief, consciousness is not its content (content as in conditioning) but the very neuronal activity itself.
Because, apart from awareness and perception and thought being what consciousness is, there is the affective feelings (emotions and passions and calentures) such as the instinctual fear and aggression and nurture and desire to consider. Are they not basic traits that every human being is born with and consequently also similar? Or are they the result of conditioning and therefore the ‘contents of consciousness’? What about malice and sorrow and any of derivatives of malice and sorrow – as a broad generalisation, ‘malice’ is what one does to others (resentment, anger, hatred, rage, sadism and so on) and ‘sorrow’ (sadness, loneliness, melancholy, grief, masochism and so on) is what one does to oneself – and the compensatory love and compassion and any of the derivatives of love and compassion that arise out of the basic instincts? Are they not latent traits that every human comes into ‘being’ with and thus are also similar because, whatever the emotion or passion or calenture may be, they all have a global incidence. Or are they the result of conditioning and therefore the ‘contents of consciousness’? What about such affectively-based activity as imagination, intuition, visualisation, conceptualisation, believing, trusting, hoping, having faith and so forth – giving rise to epiphenomenon like prescience, clairvoyance, telepathy, divination and other psychic effects – are they not embryonic traits that every human being comes into ‘being’ with and thus are similar as well? Or are they the result of conditioning and therefore the ‘contents of consciousness’?
Can it at least be clear that the obvious ‘contents of consciousness’ which are the result of conditioning, such as the gender, racial and era beliefs, truths, morals, ethics, principles, values, ideals, theories, customs, traditions, superstitions and all the other schemes and dreams, are what imposes a ‘collective mind’ imprint? Yet this imprinted ‘collective mind’ (all the gender, racial and era beliefs, truths, morals, ethics, principles, values, ideals, theories, customs, traditions, superstitions and all the other schemes and dreams) would not be able to have the tenacious hold that it has if the human brain was indeed the ‘Tabular Rasa’ brain that so many peoples believe they are born with. All the gender, racial and era beliefs, truths, morals, ethics, principles, values, ideals, theories, customs, traditions, superstitions and all the other schemes and dreams have such a persistent grip only because of the powerful energy of the genetically inherited instinctual passions of fear and aggression and nurture and desire that stretch back to the dawn of the human species ... which passions have given rise to a rudimentary animal ‘self’ out of ‘being’ itself who is both savage (‘fear and aggression’) and tender (‘nurture and desire’).
Is it not obvious that all the animosity and anguish that has beset humankind throughout millennia comes from that which a lot deeper than ‘the thinker is the thought’ ... all the misery and mayhem stems from an animal energy which is much, much more powerful than thought, thoughts and thinking.
RICHARD: It is not thought that imputes a thinker. It is the passion engendered by the instinctual self in the reptilian brain that remains the real culprit.
RESPONDENT No. 22: It seems that passions or feelings are just changing phenomenon that seemingly arise and pass away in awareness just as thoughts. To label that ever-changing phenomenon as an instinctual self seems to be the addition of thought.
RESPONDENT: Richard, I agree with the above. To me you are very clear until you get to this instinct part – to me it’s fuzzy. Can you clarify?
RICHARD: I most certainly can ... it is rather simple, actually. But what is required is that one first acknowledges that this physical body and this physical world and this physical universe are actual. Actual as in tangible, corporeal, material, substantial, palpable. It requires that one comes to one’s senses – both figuratively and literally – and cease trying to understand life, the universe and what it is to be a human being through religious or spiritual eyes. This is not a metaphysical matter ... it is very, very earthy.
Those people, who have dedicated large parts of their waking hours devoted to the particular type of physical research that painstakingly looks into these matters, have located at least four basic emotions in what is variously called the ‘primitive brain’ or the ‘lizard brain’ or the ‘reptilian brain’, which is located at the top of the brain-stem of all sentient creatures. This is regardless of whether the creature has a developed ‘bigger brain’ – like the human cerebral cortex – over the top of it or not. These basic passions are fear and aggression and nurture and desire ... there are more but scientists tend to disagree about matters scientific according to what school or discipline they are working in. After all, they are fallible, ego-ridden and soul-bound human beings trapped in the human condition like everybody else, and are seeking to find a way through all this mess that we humans are born into via the scientific method.
Experiments with electronic probes on either reptiles – not having a bigger brain – or mammals – having a bigger brain – have demonstrated repeatedly that by touching various locatable areas of this ‘reptilian brain’, these emotions can be triggered at command. Thus the hapless animal will switch from trembling fear to rabid desire in the twinkling of an eye ... merely by applying the electrode to another area. Similarly, nurturing can be abruptly replaced by aggression ... again by moving the electrode. This has been demonstrated again and again with predictable results. Thus it is a fact.
So, beginning with a fact and not a premise, we can reliably ascertain that these instincts are what we are born with. Consequently, all sentient beings have, at the very least, a rudimentary sense of ‘self’ and ‘other’ ... and I am not suggesting for a moment that any reptile or mammal has an ‘I’ or a ‘me’. I mean it in the sense that an animal displays behaviour that indicates that there is an awareness of its physical form as being separate from the form of the world about ... which a tree, for example, does not display. This has been tested with monkeys, for instance, where a mirror is placed in the cage and the monkey first looks behind the mirror to find the – apparently there – ‘other’ monkey. After a while, an understanding that is observable dawns upon the luckless creature ... and it starts pulling faces at itself and otherwise enjoying the clearly demonstrable fun that comes as a result of the monkey knowing that it is its own reflection it is looking at. In other words: a sense of self.
With the hormonal power of the feelings engendered, one feels that a ‘me’ exists ... generally felt to be somewhere in the region of the heart. This is the ‘me’ that I consistently call the soul ... for convenience. This feeling – and feelings are so powerful that they can override intelligence – makes one think that an ‘I’ exists ... generally located in the head. This ‘I’, which for convenience I consistently call the ego, comes to realise that it is the spanner in the works when it comes to the ever-pressing matter of peaceful co-existence with other members of its species. ‘I’, realising (thinking) that ‘I’ am but an illusion in the mind, realise (feel) that ‘my’ true identity is to be found in those prior existent feelings (Zen Buddhism’s ‘Original Face’) and can, by dint of great endeavour, dissolve and become ‘Me’.
This ‘Me’ – usually capitalised to indicate divinity – experiences an oceanic feeling of oneness and unity with all of creation. This gives rise to the popular notion in the East: ‘I am everything and everything is Me’. The West has something similar: ‘I am That I am’ ... but this appellation is reserved for ‘God Men’ who are conveniently long-dead. Prior to the recent influx of Eastern Philosophy, if one realised that ‘I am God’, one would have been institutionalised ... and, to some degree, rightly so. One has stepped out of an illusion, only to wind up living in a delusion. However, the trouble with people who discard the god of Christianity is that they do not realise that by turning to the Eastern spirituality they have effectively jumped out of the frying pan into the fire. Eastern spirituality is religion ... merely in a different form to what people in the West have been raised to believe in. Eastern philosophy sounds so convincing to the Western mind that is desperately looking for answers. The Christian conditioning actually sets up the situation for a thinking person to be susceptible to the esoteric doctrines of the East.
It is sobering to realise that the intelligentsia of the West are eagerly following the East down the slippery slope of striving to attain to a self-seeking Divine Immortality ... to the detriment of life on earth. ‘Centre-less Being’, for example, is simply the Eastern term for ‘God’; thus any wisdom designated ‘Unitary Awareness’ translates easily as ‘God’s Word’ ... in Western terminology. At the end of the line there is always a god of some description, lurking in disguise, wreaking its havoc with its ‘Teachings’. Have you ever been to India to see for yourself the results of what they claim are tens of thousands of years of devotional spiritual living? I have, and it is hideous. If it were not for the appalling suffering engendered it would all be highly amusing.
RICHARD: Speaking personally, I did not know of any research on this subject [the genetic inheritance of the survival instincts] when I started to actively investigate the human condition in myself 20 or more years ago: as I intimately explored the depths of ‘being’ it became increasingly and transparently obvious that the instinctual passions – the source of ‘self’ – were the root cause of all the ills of humankind.
RESPONDENT: Yes, but are they not also the source of all that human beings are and do?
RICHARD: Not ‘all’, no ... this flesh and blood body is the air breathed, the water drunk, the food eaten and the sun’s energy absorbed. Just as the trees and the grasses and the flowers thrive without any instinctual passions so too is it eminently possible for a thinking, reflective human being to flourish, in pure delight and enjoyment on this magical paradise that this verdant and azure planet already is, sans the affective faculty. The living of this comes with the extinction of ‘self’ in its entirety (‘me’ at the core of ‘my’ being ... which is ‘being’ itself) which altruistic action enables this always existing purity and perfection into being apparent for the remainder of one’s life. And this is marvellous.
RESPONDENT: The instinctual passions are our base.
RICHARD: The very earth beneath our feet is ‘our base’ ... this planet grows human beings just as it grows the trees and the grasses and the flowers (although in the final analysis, of course, it is the universe itself which is ‘our base’ as it ‘grows’ the suns and planets ... and I am putting ‘grows’ in scare quotes deliberately as it is an analogous term).
RESPONDENT: What you seem to really be saying is that the imaginary psychological self who identifies and associates with various desires must be extinct for life to truly be lived (this imaginary psychological self and its image-bound spell acting rather like a thick cloud which obscures the energetic depth and infinitude of a cloudless sky).
RICHARD: What I am saying is that the ‘self’ (‘I’ as ego and ‘me’ as soul) is the ‘various desires’. The ending of ‘me’ at the core of ‘my’ being (which is ‘being’ itself) is the ending of the instinctual passions. To merely ‘identify and associate with various desires’ is to be one-step removed from yourself (detached from yourself).
RESPONDENT: It is this imaginary self-image which is the agitator of wars (and no doubt the chimpanzee, with its rudimentary self-image-structure, is able to be xenophobic too – though fortunately not to such a twisted and destructive extent as his fellow primate – the human being).
RICHARD: This ‘imaginary self-image’ arises intuitively in the instinctual passions themselves (intuitive ‘self’-consciousness’) and is the instinctual passions, at base. As such, the instinctual passions, in conjunction with their intuitive ‘self’-consciousness, are the ‘agitator of wars’. That this intuitive ‘feeling-self’ (‘me’ as soul) has given rise to a narcissistic ‘thinking-self’ (‘I’ as ego) in the human animal only serves to make the wars more deviously contrived than the wars of the chimpanzee.
The chimpanzee have been observed and documented to having a remarkable correspondence to humans (to being beset with virtually the same-same ills that beset the human animal) ... a difference in degree is not a difference in kind.
RESPONDENT No. 33: ... There is no freedom from suffering – none, whatsoever.
RESPONDENT No. 39: I can’t argue based on my own experience but how do you account for Richard’s view?
RESPONDENT No. 33: When you say, ‘I can’t argue based on my experience’ it implies, in my opinion, that you are saying there is no freedom from your personal suffering. But a Buddha goes beyond that view. For him personal suffering may not exist, but he still suffers with his fellow human beings. That’s an important distinction between the suffering of X and that of a Buddha.
RESPONDENT No. 39: This doesn’t make sense to me because suffering is still suffering whether it is personal or with others. Here is a piece of an article that I posted a few days ago which I found interesting: ‘Fear and the brain: Twenty years ago no one knew how fear conditioning worked. But by surgically removing discrete parts of rodents’ brains – and performing the same simple conditioning experiment – researchers have detailed the underlying mechanisms. The fear system’s command centre is the amygdala, a small, almond-shaped structure that rests near the centre of the brain and is elaborately tied to other regions through nerve fibres. A rat lacking an amygdala won’t freeze at the sound of a tone, no matter how often the tone is paired with a shock. And though human subjects can’t be carved up or electrocuted for the sake of science, studies of patients with damaged amygdalae show that they have similar deficits. Unlike people with intact brains, they’re no more attuned to emotionally charged words such as rape than to bland ones like handkerchief. And though they can recognize individual faces, they don’t perceive threatening expressions as unfriendly. Even a split-second glance at a hostile face activates the amygdala in a normal brain. (Newsweek, Feb 24: http//msnbc.com/news/873610.asp?0dm=c319N#BODY) . I find it interesting that a person with a damaged amygdala has similar experiences as Richard. Evidently he has found a way to disconnect the amygdala which is where suffering is generated.
RESPONDENT: Is your interpretation correct or are you making castles in the air? The above doesn’t mind that ‘a person with a damaged amygdala has similar experiences as Richard’ as you say. It means that a persons or a animal with a damaged amygdala can get a serious deficit for functionality in the outer world. To freeze is a defensive response in rats; the experiment shows that, after injuring the rat many times, the animal can not associate the tone and the injury and so doesn’t rise its defensive system. You are always interested in the amygdala business, perhaps the following can help you: [J Neurosci 2003 Jan 1;23(1):23-8]: ‘Bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (a cerebral area) is critically involved in unlearned fear, whereas the amygdala is more involved in the acquisition and expression of learned fear’. [endquote]. Personal comment: Unlearned fear = innate passions. Learned fear = fear from memory. Amygdala doesn’t process especially the so called innate passions but learned emotions, it processes fear from memory (thought based).
RICHARD: Here is the paragraph which contains the full sentence from which the quote you provide has been snipped:
As the parenthesised words ‘(a cerebral area)’ are not in the original it would appear they have been added by an interpolator as an explanatory aid ... yet the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis is generally designated as being part of the extended amygdala. Vis.:
The following URL provides both a photograph of a sliced human brain and a corresponding diagram (in which the stria terminus is annotated with the number 9): http://www.vh.org/adult/provider/anatomy/BrainAnatomy/Ch5Text/Section11.html
In case the above URL is not accessible the relevant text on that page is as follows:
Put succinctly: the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (small patches of grey matter) lies in the latter part of the stria terminalis (a bundle of fibres) which is the main outwardly conducting pathway from the amygdaloid nuclear complex ... which complex is not generally held to be ‘a cerebral area’.
Here is what the word ‘cerebral’ usually means:
Yet the first sentence of the paragraph which contains the full sentence from which the interpolated quote you provide states the following:
As it relates to experiments conducted on rats, and not humans, your ‘personal comment’ that the amygdalae process fear from ‘(thought based)’ memory is somewhat odd – unless you are suggesting that rats can think – as what the words ‘learned fear’ usually indicate in these types of experiments is that the rat has been conditioned to respond with fear to a tone (a tone initially paired with the passage of an electric shock through a metal plate upon which the rat is standing) ... therefore the words ‘learned fear’ in this instance refer to conditioned fear and not ‘(thought based)’ fear.
Thus it is apparent that the amygdalae process fear from emotional/ passional memory – and not thought-based memory – as is evidenced, for an example, by peoples with damaged amygdalae (as per the Newsweek quote much further above). Vis.:
What is even more odd is that you say that ‘unlearned fear = innate passions’ anyway – all you are doing is entering into the current scientific dispute as to where it is mediated – which innateness (meaning a genetically inherited origin) of emotion/passion is my main point when writing about these matters ... my associated point being that feelings come before thought (12-14 milliseconds earlier) in the perceptive process.
Hence it is of little relevance, if any, precisely where in the extended amygdalae the unlearned/innate passions are mediated.
RESPONDENT: ... I am not going to lose my time anymore with all this shit on the amygdala, it leads to nowhere.
RICHARD: At the very least it has led to your acknowledgement that, at root, fear is an innate passion ... which innateness, as far as I have been able to ascertain, Mr. Jiddu Krishnamurti never investigated despite advising everyone else to carefully observe the ‘what is’.
RESPONDENT No. 33: Correctly speaking, though, identity itself is an illusion.
RICHARD: Yes, although the illusion, just like all psychosomatic illnesses, somatises noticeable effects (such as emotional beliefs and passional truths) which in turn affect behaviour ... and which is especially noticeable when the illusion transmogrifies into a delusion (such as ‘Tat Tvam Asi’).
RESPONDENT No. 33: Therefore, there is nothing that is rotten or not-rotten to the core.
RICHARD: I beg to differ: it is a rotten illusion – just as its delusional core is – which rottenness is evidenced by its effects.
RESPONDENT No. 33: There is no core even.
RICHARD: Exactly ... which means that Brahman, for example, has no existence outside of the human psyche.
RESPONDENT: When you said ‘it is a rotten illusion just as its delusional core is’ do you mean that the core/‘me’ itself is an illusion?
RICHARD: Yes, although in this context – aggrandisement into a super ‘Self’ – it has become a delusion (born out of the illusion).
RESPONDENT: Doesn’t the core (‘me’) actually exist since it is genetically inherited?
RICHARD: No, what sentient beings genetically inherit is the instinctual survival passions – such as fear and aggression and nurture and desire – which means that, because the affective impulse for survival is primary, whilst being able to sensately perceive the distinction between this body and that body (which perception is generally called consciousness of self and other) the instinctual feelings have dominance over sentient awareness ... thus the perceptive sense of self and other is usurped by the feeling of ‘self’ and ‘other’ (to the point of intuiting the similarly felt ‘self’ of the ‘other’).
All sentient beings would be subject to this effect to some degree or another – however miniscule the effect may be by human comparison – which effect could be called a rudimentary animal ‘self’ for convenience.
It is this feeling of ‘self’ (and of ‘other’ of course) which is the illusion ... and it is this feeling ‘self’, the feeler (‘me’ as soul), the ‘me’ at the core of ‘my’ being (which is ‘being’ itself), who gives rise to the thinking ‘self’, the thinker (‘I’ as ego), which is where cognitive self-consciousness has become cognitive ‘self’-consciousness.
RESPONDENT: Ok, I think I understand what you are saying: The instinctual passions are genetically inherited and have a perception of self which becomes the feeling of self.
RICHARD: No, the genetically-inherited instinctual passions do not have a perception of self ... what they do is usurp the sensate perception of self and create the feeling of ‘self’.
RESPONDENT: It is the feeling of self (‘me’/soul/core) which is illusory which gives rise to the ‘I’/ego or thinker. In other words, the instinctual passions are genetically inherited and they give rise to the illusion of the ‘me’ and the ‘I’.
RICHARD: Exactly, and what is vital to comprehend is that the feeler is primary and the thinker is secondary ... and that the thinker is but the tip of the iceberg.
I kid you not ... the feeler automatically creates its own feeling reality, usurping sensate actuality as already explained, which reality is so all-pervasive that it is only in a pure consciousness experience (PCE) that this actual world becomes apparent.
RESPONDENT: Are you saying then that in order to eliminate the ‘I’ and the ‘me’ that the instinctual passions themselves have to be eliminated ...
RICHARD: No ... and the reason why not is this simple: who would be doing the eliminating of the instinctual passions? As ‘I’ am ‘my’ feelings and ‘my’ feelings are ‘me’ it is an impossibility because the result of trying to do so would be a stripped-down rudimentary animal ‘self’ (seemingly) divested of feelings ... somewhat like what is known in psychiatric terminology as a ‘sociopathic personality’ (popularly known as ‘psychopath’).
Such a person still has feelings – ‘cold’, ‘callous’, ‘indifferent’ and so on – and has repressed the others.
RESPONDENT: ... and in order to do that the layers of the ‘I’ and ‘me’ have to be peeled back in order to uncover the raw instinctual passions?
RICHARD: In the end, only altruistic ‘self’-immolation, for the benefit of this body and that body and every body, will release the flesh and blood body from its parasitical resident and, as ‘I’ am ‘my’ feelings and ‘my’ feelings are ‘me’, the end of ‘me’ is the end of ‘my’ feelings (aka the instinctual passions and all their cultivated derivations).
Of course, one does not psychologically and psychically self-immolate just because it seems like a good idea at the time. It requires a rather curious decision to be made – a decision the likes of which has never been made before nor will ever be made again – as it is a once-in-a-lifetime determination and takes some considerable preparation.
So, in the meantime, what one can do is choose to be as happy and harmless as is humanly possible each moment again – the means to the end are not different from the end – and with this pure intent, as one goes about one’s normal everyday life, each moment again provides an opportunity to find out what is preventing one from living in the already always existing peace-on-earth (as evidenced in the PCE).
RESPONDENT: The layers of the ‘I’ and ‘me’ consisting of beliefs and identity.
RICHARD: Well, as the word ‘identity’ is used to delineate the entity in toto (both ‘I’ as ego and ‘me’ as soul), it is clearer to say that the layers of identity consist of, not only beliefs, but all the rest of what constitutes identity. Asking oneself, each moment again, how one is experiencing this moment of being alive will incrementally reveal what ‘all the rest’ is made up of ... and of particular importance is the beliefs masquerading as truths.
The Third Alternative
(Peace On Earth In This Life Time As This Flesh And Blood Body)
Here is an actual freedom from the Human Condition, surpassing Spiritual Enlightenment and any other Altered State Of Consciousness, and challenging all philosophy, psychiatry, metaphysics (including quantum physics with its mystic cosmogony), anthropology, sociology ... and any religion along with its paranormal theology. Discarding all of the beliefs that have held humankind in thralldom for aeons, the way has now been discovered that cuts through the ‘Tried and True’ and enables anyone to be, for the first time, a fully free and autonomous individual living in utter peace and tranquillity, beholden to no-one.
Richard’s Text ©The Actual Freedom Trust: 1997-. All Rights Reserved.