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As I have to reread some books several times to get the full affect of its wisdom, I was rereading the supreme adventure and the people coming through these mediums are saying how limited their consciousnesses must become to communicate through a medium.

The brain appears to be more of a restrictor than an enhancer. I suspect this is necessary to function as a human and to advance as a soul in love and divine intelligence (wisdom).

A quote from Myers after he had crossed over: “I thought I could do better, but I cannot…….how easy to promise and how difficult to fulfill.” Pages 216 to 228; a section on the rare communications from the soul body in paradise.

In the book the open door the intelligence that came through George Wright must have been coming though a level even beyond what this book calls heaven. The many mansions that Jesus is given credit for stating appears to be true.

William, I’d say calling the brain a restrictor is a bit of a misnomer, although I agree with what you are getting at. I think it is more accurate to say that the brain is a tool well suited for its primary task – guiding us through the material universe. It is the hammer for the material realm’s nail.

We shouldn’t be surprised, however, that tool designed for one purpose has limits when applied to others – in this case, accessing immaterial information (as neutral a way as I can state it). We need to side step the tool that is the brain when attempting to do other things other than simply survive.

The problem for most materialists is that since they only believe in hammers, they try to turn everything into nails.

Great post Michael. I especially liked your comment about the Down's syndrome children. It's sort of a synchronicity to me because I was just sort of thinking along the same lines a few days ago. How kids with Down's syndrome seemed so happy and loveable. The one's I've known (from church) just sort of seem to take life as it comes. One funny story. Once my father-in-law (FIL), a preacher was preaching a particularly long winded sermon and he went well past 12:00. A little Down's syndrome girl stood right up in church and pointed at her watch and said out loud, "Well I don't know about you but I'm ready to eat lunch!!!" It was hilarious! The whole church laughed. FIL quickly wrapped up his sermon and we all went to lunch!

Great post Michael, very interesting.

>As a last speculation, consider that humanity was largely static, in terms of material progress, for most of prehistory. Something like 100,000 years may have elapsed while people made little apparent effort to improve their technology. Could it be that they saw no reason to do so, because they were focused on nonmaterial things?>

I think this is likely true to an extent, although I'd add that people back then were likely still very much concerned about finding an adequate level of food and such. They just didn't have any real concept of technological progess.

Personally, I'm hoping there will come a point where we can have our technology WITHOUT overpopulation, environmental destruction, consumerism and apathy.

Excellent post, MP, and I suspect much more solid speculation than you might think.

Just a couple things to note, the first having to do with the idea of, “it's just what we would expect if the "transmission" theory of consciousness were true.

“When we consider how often people report expanded awareness, vivid memories, and profound insights under conditions in which the brain is impaired or even shut down, this hypothesis gains additional weight.”

Newberg’s experiments with Buddhist monks and Franciscan nuns has documented the correlation of decreased frontal lobe activity with the experience of the divine, which can be interpreted as consistent with this idea, and is also consistent with your speculation about electroshock therapy and Down’s syndrome.

The second thing that occurs to me is that most ancient wisdom traditions would support the speculation that, “Perhaps only when the brain reached a certain level of activity did people start to lose touch with higher wisdom and to focus on aggressively competing for survival. Maybe that's where the story of the Garden of Eden (and other tales of paradise lost) came from - a dim recollection of a time when God spoke to us directly, and we didn't feel impelled to sweat and strive and make life an ordeal.”

All of the major faiths speak of an era of ancient masters living in harmony with the divine. Humanity has developed the intellect in myriad ways in the last few millennia, yet our achievements have come with tremendous costs attached.

We’ve become disconnected from our source, though if we look around we can see that source manifesting all about us in the natural world; in the migration of the birds, salmon and Monarch butterflies, the coordinated dance of flocking birds and schools of fish, the incredibly complexity of the realm of botany and the fascinating coordination of organic and inorganic matter working in concert to maintain the salinity of the oceans and the composition of the atmosphere. The behavior of DNA and subatomic particles provide further evidence in the micro world, while the graceful motion of celestial bodies represents the macro application of the source in action.

As I mentioned at the Daily Grail yesterday, true mystics aren’t puzzled by any of this. They consistently remind us to look within, remind us that one can’t truly understand the outer world independent of a true understanding of our inner world. They would tell us that the source is still there, still within us, but that we’ve just lost sight of it.

But the materialists don’t hear that, they just hear it as an invitation to fire up the fMRI, fully convinced they will eventually understand the inner world by mapping neural correlations.

What we have here is a failure to communicate. And that results from a failure to listen, both to each other and to ourselves.

I'm just another happy reader tipping their hat to your post. Wonderful read.

>people made little apparent effort to improve their technology. Could it be that they saw no reason to do so, because they were focused on nonmaterial things?

Interesting post, Michael. In a book called "Voices of the First Day," Robert Lawlor argues persuasively that the Australian aborigines made a conscious choice not to develop technology, nor even to use agriculture. He says:

" The adventurous joy of hunting and foraging, free and naked in the open air of primal forests, makes other possibilities unthinkable for a healthy, sensual, and spiritual people. As anthropologist Leslie White suggests, 'Hunting and gathering was unquestionably the most satisfying social environment man has ever lived in.' "

Oh—if you're interested in Downs syndrome children, read a book called "Expecting Adam" by Martha Beck. It's about a woman—a Harvard grad student—who has to make a choice about delivering or aborting a Downs' syndrome fetus. There is so much beauty and wisdom in this book I hardly know where to begin.

Here's one note I jotted inside the cover:
"Among other things, this book appeals to the part of me that is still looking for rational proof of the irrational. Many mystical and psychic experiences are recounted with all the necessary precision and integrity to convince me once again of the reality of the unseen world."

"I've also noticed that people with Down syndrome are often happier and more contented than the general population. Could it be that their inhibited brain function allows them to experience more of the peace and love that flow from higher consciousness?"

Oh, come on. You're going to start fetishizing retarded and disabled people?!!

There may be a great deal more to the disabled than we can know.

Sam Crane, the Taoist blogger at The Useless Tree, has written very powerfully about his experiences with his severely disabled son Aidan, and the lessons he gleaned from a tragically short life. His eulogy is especially touching and heartfelt.

These are experiences I doubt anyone can be truly equipped for.

Not the first speculation, by any means, to about a change in consciousness from early times to the present. The most famous is Julian Jaynes's bicameral mind hypothesis. In some ways, thought this is the exact opposite of yours (but only in some ways). Jaynes did not believe that people were in any real sense self-aware until the fall from grace ... errr, I mean, the breakdown of the bicameral mind. Jaynes, however, identified the changeover to modern modes of consciousness as happening in distinctly historical times, e.g., about 1000BCE. Check out:

when i was in elementary school, there was a down syndrome kid who was around 12 yrs old, and was one of the tallest kids in school. i was probably in the 3rd or 4th grade. one day, i was at the playground inside school and i saw 3 or 4 kids my age ganging up on him, throwing sands into his shirt, and pushing him into the ground. the kid didnt fight back at all, nor did he cry. i was just a spectator as i didnt know what i could have done to help him (playing hero in front of those kids will probably not fare well for me). eventually the kids walked away laughing. i helped the kid up from the ground, and i asked him, 'you're so much bigger and taller than they are, why don't you fight back?'

he adjusted his glasses and shrugged. he was not mad at all, and being so young myself i couldn't tell if he was sad or upset, but i do remember vividly that i did not see any anger in him. i dont remember what else i said to him, but i like to think that i remember him smiling at me afterward as we talked. i was mad at those kids, and if i was his height and build i would have kick the crap out of those kids- and i was mad at myself that i was too cowardly to do anything about it but to watch.

since the incident, i would walk by his classroom (special ed class) and saw him there once in a while. i felt so sad for him and his classmates as i think they're deprived of a full life, and that they wont be able to take care of themselves after their parents died....

but at my age now- with all the responsibilities and roles that i had picked up along the way, and also from losing people who were important to me, and really started pondering on the meaning of life, death, and the universe- i wonder if my enriched and full life is really better than the lives of those kids with mental disorders/conditions.

one thing for sure, i had to live with my own demons and imperfections- of which are anger and hate, but that's something that kid will never have to live with.

i envy a life without anger and hate

maybe these people are truly special people, to live in that kind of life.

perhaps i'm generalizing, but since michael brought up this point, that was the first thing that popped into my head.


>Oh, come on. You're going to start fetishizing retarded and disabled people?!!

I think we're all retarded in certain areas and talented in others. We plan our gifts and challenges beforehand to promote a certain kind of experience or adventure each time we re-enter physical reality.

>Oh, come on. You're going to start fetishizing retarded and disabled people?!!

I think we're all retarded in certain areas and talented in others. We plan our gifts and challenges beforehand to promote a certain kind of experience or adventure each time we re-enter physical reality.

> Oh, come on. You're going to start fetishizing retarded and disabled people?!!

I think we're all retarded in certain ways and talented in others. We plan our gifts and challenges beforehand to promote a certain kind of experience or adventure each time we re-enter the physical plane.

"I think we're all retarded in certain areas and talented in others. We plan our gifts and challenges beforehand to promote a certain kind of experience or adventure each time we re-enter physical reality."

I wasn't asking for a New Age space cadet answer.

Sorry for the triple post. Though it does neatly illustrate what I mean by retarded.

>I wasn't asking for a New Age space cadet answer.

Alex, can you see a glimmer of truth in my first sentence, even if you find the second one way out there?

Alex, what is your problem?

Oh, come on . You're going to start fetishizing retarded and disabled people?!!

Alex do you actually know anyone with Downs syndrome?
I have known a few and found them to be extraordinarily loving,joyful people.I'm not sure what you are inferring by the word "fetishizing".It's not a word I have ever heard used outside a sexual context which doesn't seem appropriate in this instance.

Regarding the bicameral mind concept, Jayne’s hypothesis is quite illustrative of the madness of the intellect run amuck, in that he regards the pre-modern condition as a form of widespread schizophrenia. I wonder if it ever occurred to him that perhaps he’s the one immersed in genuine madness himself, along with the rest of the world.

In an insane world . . .

"Alex, can you see a glimmer of truth in my first sentence, even if you find the second one way out there?"

Sorry for the barb against you...I couldn't resist. I guess we just have different tastes.

professional skeptic Michael Shermer (2003) once wrote in his monthly op-ed column in Scientific American that, with respect to telepathy, “Until psi proponents can elucidate how thoughts generated by neurons in the sender’s brain can pass through the skull and into the brain of the receiver

I wonder if Michael Shermer ever ponders about the alternative the filter/transmission theory. I think we know the answer to that question

>Sorry for the barb against you...I couldn't resist. I guess we just have different tastes.

Actually, I smiled when I read the "space cadet" remark because I used to be a militant atheist and materialist.

Actually these special people are very authentic. The children I work with who are 3 and 4 years old are also very authentic. Society appears to take this ability to be authentic out of us. Jesus may have had a point when he stated we must become as children.

But there are many lessons to learn in love and compassion from the harshness of a competitive and materialistic society. If we remained as children we may never learn these divine lessons. I suspect that the evolution of our souls demands we live many lives with many challenges.

Paul Brunton made a comment something to the effect that even enlightened Hindu masters may have to reincarnate in the western world to learn from the harshness of the western world. Interesting comment that I doubt has not been deeply thought out by most who read those comments.

"I used to be a militant atheist and materialist."

Me too, Bruce. Now I'm a militant atheist mystic. The main difference is I'm more easily amused.

"Authenticity" in personal existence is well noted by William. Used as a reference in assessing personification, we can look around us and all to plentifully find examples of "pseudo-people", individuals who define their identities and realities by the products they comsume, the social trends they espouse, the materiality they mistake for true "living". I, too, have worked around Down Syndrome people, and have marveled at the joy they seem constantly to inhabit. Our frontal lobe-triggered mental meanderings too often appear to burden us rather than enlighten. Perhaps conscious thought, the constant jangle of the inner monologue and mindworm music, is indeed given far too much credit by (what else?)the conscious mind. The Filter Theory seems to come closest to experience, at least as I can personally testify, and Michael's posting only reinforces the conviction. My subconscious is nodding in agreement. Turn off your television (it encourages the "pseudo" aspect).

Hmm, sounds familiar:

"Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you thinks that he is wise in this age, he must become foolish, so that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness before God.”

"For the wisdom of this world is foolishness before God.”

No truer words were ever spoken. I marvel that in a war both sides pray to god to help them win the battle.

We humans have truly made god in man's image. It is so much more convenient to do so.

It may be worth adding that there is a tradition in many cultures of the "holy fool" - the simpleton who possesses otherworldly insights.

There are also, of course, many documented cases of idiot savants. I'm not quite sure if this relates to the filter idea, but it may.

A rather mundane issue that also may relate to the filter idea is that if we're trying to remember some name or fact that's "on the tip of our tongue," the best way is to stop thinking about it or, better yet, stop thinking altogether! It's as if inhibiting brain activity actually makes it easier to access information.

I've felt for some time now that savant syndrome is among the best evidence in support of the filter concept. I can't see validity in any other explanation.

I think it shows up in creativity and athletics, too. It is impossible for a musician to deliver a virtuoso performance by "thinking his way there", and how often do athletes speak of entering the "zone", where their actions just flow?

As a professional writer, I'm sure Michael might have something to say about periods when ideas just sort of arrived, just came to mind, and may have also had the sense that his best writing occurs when he's not trying to make it happen.

> It is impossible for a musician to deliver a virtuoso performance by "thinking his way there", and how often do athletes speak of entering the "zone", where their actions just flow?

This may have an ordinary explanation. When you play a piano piece, for instance, what you're doing is basically that you're carrying out something that you've engraved in your muscular memory. It is quite natural that if you start to think about how to put your fingers and so on, you'll lose control of your movements. It will interfere with what you've learnt so far.

I'd tend to agree with Larry Boy. What I don't quite get is very young children who show unbelievable amounts of skill with almost very little practice. It could be a latent gift, but I've never seen the gene that codes for "excellent at three point shooting." It could just be a mixture of dexterity and perception, but if that were so, wouldn't it extend to almost all traits that require ability in these areas, and not just a few?

Larry Boy's point is well taken for average musicianship, but virtuoso performance remains inexplicable even to the performer, same with athletes following exceptional performances. They can't explain it, and they can't just return to that level at will. It's more about allowing it to happen.

There was a fascinating program on PBS a couple of months ago discussing the rarity of those moments that a classical musician will transcend their technical training, with no convincing explanation offered.

I suppose 'channeling the transcendent consciousness' is not what most would accept as a possibility, and it wasn't suggested, though it's probably exactly what's going on.

John's point deserves reflection, too. Genius such as Mozart's is pretty difficult to explain away by unusually rapid development of neural capacity alone.

These are all rare examples of course, but any theory of consciousness must address all documented phenomena, and the transmission theory at least suggests an explanation.

I can't count the times I have heard musicians (-especially jazz musicians whose business is improvisation-),composers and writers say that they have no idea where the music ideas etc come from .
I have heard it in TV and radio interviews and also in conversation. They suggest it comes from outside themselves.I know a few jazz musicians who say they seem to go into a meditative state and don't really know what they are playing ( I'm not talking illegal substances here!)

Michael --

I suspect you are probably aware of "The Omega Project: Near-Death Experiences, UFO Encounters, and Mind at Large" by Kenneth Ring, Ph.D. (Forgive the quote marks ... I don't know what markup tags work here.) This was the first place I encountered someone in academia suggesting that the brain is more a receiver than a creator of thought. (Very perceptive material -- if you haven't read it I very much recommend it.)

We are told by researchers that the brain has to selectively limit the amount of sensory input that goes into our system, otherwise we wouldn't be able to function, though maybe we've just gone too far. I tend to feel we as Americans are way too involved in our mental processes -- entertainment forms, drugs and alcohol, and various lifestyles can take us completely out of touch with ourselves, especially out of that quiet space inside which seems to me to be the foundation stone for any other growth in heightened consciousness.

However, I do have my own blog, so I'll get off the soapbox here ...

Ok, I'm continuing my discussion with Marcos up here. First, to Michael Prescott. You seem to be talking about the brain as (among other things) a limiting device, similar to Indalecio's limiter in Star Ocean: The Second Story (sorry, I had to get a reference to an anti-Christian Japanese RPG in there, even though you probably have no idea what I am talking about). That seems to be a possibility to me. However, it is a little different what Marcos and I are talking about. We are talking about how Marcos believes that it is unlikely that memory is housed in the mind, and I think it is much more likely than he does that the mind houses memory, not just the brain. We are also talking about the intricacies of transmission, particularly the transmission of the mind to the brain. His point of contention seems to be that when physical damage happens to the brain, the mind should still have access to the memory, if it is in the mind instead of the brain, and still be able to transmit intention based on that memory. I think that this is not necessarily the case. I hope that helps at least summarize things, without having to get too in depth and rewrite our entire conversation. Marcos can correct me if I'm wrong. I'll post my next response in a separate post.

To Marcos, I don't agree with this statement in its entirety:

2. The person whose intentions are being messed up is immediately aware, and thus capable of modifying their intentions in an attempt to get the desired result.

I will agree with the first half, but not the second. The mind may be immediately aware that intentions that are transmitted are not causing the same feedback from the brain that they used to be causing, but I don't believe that necessarily means that the mind can always modify its intentions that it's transmitting to the brain to get a desired result. The mind might have to do the best that it can with the damaged brain that cannot receive all of the transmissions that it used to be able to receive, and worse, not necessarily be able to transmit back to the mind the proper sense data that it is experiencing. Also, I want to make the point that I have written and used computer programs that have had portions of the program wrong with them, but the program still runs fine most of the time. It makes debugging a pain because you can't always tell where the problem is, because it runs fine most of the time. Even ones that don't run fine most of the time can still, many times, be consistent in their "wrongness."

With regard to direct transmission of energy to enhance brain activity, and its many benefits, check out

To Marcos, I have to say that after thinking about it some more, you do seem to have made a good argument for your case. In all probability, you are right that an intention is transmitted the same way regardless of whether or not memory is behind it. You are also probably right that if the mind itself can access all memory directly inside of itself before it sends an intention, it would probably not matter how badly the brain is damaged, as long as intentions can still get through. I am handing you a partial victory.

I say partial because I wish to abandon this line of reasoning, in favor of another possibility that I think might strike you as being more likely. I believe that the fatal assumption that I made early in this conversation is that I assumed that the mind is in the same state regardless of whether or not the brain is damaged. What if this is not the case? What if the mind has to put itself in a much more limited state in order to be able to communicate with the physical brain? What if the mind cannot access all of the memory that it has within itself, not because the brain is hindering the mind or because the mind needs to use the brain to communicate between the portion of the mind that controls intention and the portion of the mind that controls memory, but because the mind simply needs to limit its own access to itself by putting itself in a limited state in which it can transmit to and receive signals from the physical brain? Under this possibility it would make sense that if the brain was damaged, the mind might have to put itself into an even more limited state in order to continue the brain-mind communications, sometimes even further limiting access to the memory that the mind has within itself. If this is true, it would fit well with the one post that was on this blog a while back that talked about how ghosts have a hard time communicating with mediums because they are in a different state when they are in our universe. The link directly to it is:

Sorry I had to split it up into three lines. Marcos, you are very well-reasoned, as well as very good at arguing your point. If you are not sick and tired of discussing this subject with me, I would be interested in hearing any potential problems or unlikelihoods (if that is even a word) with this new possibility that I am suggesting.

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