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This distinction becomes even more emphatic when framed in the context of belief. Belief drives behavior, but often belief is not based on experience and so does not reach or reflect the intimately lived dimension of human existence. Indeed, the very nature of belief precludes the necessity of experience. I can believe, for instance, that Jesus sits on the right hand of God in heaven, and simply by believing it I do not have to experience it, do not have to put it to the test or search for evidence to prove it is so. I believe it is so, thats all, and that is sufficient to cause me to act in a certain way based on the belief I hold.
In the normal manner of expression, we do not usually apply the term belief to something we experience directly. We say we know something is true when we have experienced it to be so. Belief pertains where rational proof or verification by evidence is lacking, but experience is the only evidence. This means that if we can experience something directly, evidentially, we are free from having to hold beliefs about it. Laing warns: If our experience is destroyed, our behaviour will be destructive. (p. 28) It might be said, if our capacity for experience is destroyed, our behavior will be affected in a negative way. Indeed, this may be a huge understatement.
Like a signal flare, Laings distinction highlights an insight crucial to metahistorical inquiry: what is most subjective about us, that upon which both our personal identity and our sense of humanity depend, is a capacity to experience that can be destroyed. Factoring this idea into the primary assumption of metahistory (namely, that belief drives behavior), we may begin to comprehend that behavior is driven by belief precisely because the capacity for experience has been superceded by the willingness to believe without the evidence of direct experiencing. Considered in this light, beliefs in and about God (or anything else) may be derived from the incapacity to experience what God actually is. Someone who can experience God in a direct and evidential way no longer needs to hold beliefs in or about God.
The English word behave traces back to Middle High German, sich behaben, literally self be-having or be-holding. To behave is to have a view of yourself behaving in a certain manner, and probably to derive a sense of self from the behavior so enacted. This notion is not entirely trustworthy, however. It represents a concept of human identity that has been challenged in modern psychology relating to abuse and addiction. One of the guiding principles of recovery therapy is that you are not your behavior, although you are responsible for your behavior. Laing would probably concur with the semantics here. Consistent with his distinction, it can be said that you are the subject of your experience, not the result of your behavior. If you are truly living from experience, from the unlimited capacity to grow, learn and evolve, then you will be continually transcending the limits of behavior. In conventional terms, the most obvious sign of behavior is habit, custom, the usual way of doing things. It represents a form of conditioned response induced or programmed from outside. Such conditioning works against the innate capacity for experience.
Laing says that experience is intrapsychic. Someone standing before Niagara Falls may be expected to have a certain response, to act in a customary way: take photos, make oohing sounds, and so forth. This behavior is programmatic and predictable, yet the fact remains that an infinite variety of human experiences could occur in the presence of Niagara Falls. Laing asserts, My psyche is my experience, my experience is my psyche. (p. 21) Behavior is the conditional form experience assumes when acted out and shared with others. It is what happens to the psyche, but not what the psyche experiences happening in itself. To live in behavior and identify oneself with behavior is to become alienated from ones own experience, yet this emphasis on behavior (custom, habit, preprogrammed activity) is precisely the mark of belief-driven activity. People who hold the same beliefs will act in the same (predictable, customary) ways, and they will identify strongly with those ways. Their behavior will prevail because their capacity to experience has been severely compromised, if not destroyed.
behavioral cloning Proposed term for the hive behavior of a society driven by unquestioned beliefs or by technological prosthetics. Both beliefs (especially religious beliefs) and prosthetics (that is, tools that replace human faculties and functions) depend for their efficacy on a prior condition: disembodiment of the human subject, or the strong tendency toward disembodiment. See also discarnation.
In the long-term overview developed in this site, behavioral cloning is seen as developing historically in three phases:
Middle Phase: repression of body knowledge in favor of abstraction. Approximately 400 BCE - 1200 AD (the Dark Ages), overlapping and extending the Initial Phase. 400 BCE marks the death of Socrates and the rise of Platonic abstraction.
Terminal Phase: replacement of human faculties, and eventually the human organisim itself, by artificial entities. Approximately 900 CE to the present, overlapping the Middle Phase, with a surge at 1600 (the Enlightenment). The date 900 CE represents the introduction of the zero into Western science.
This entire trajectory of development would not have been possible if the quest for transcendence from the blocking of the ego-self had not been diverted into a quest of the ego-self to transcend nature. (By "blocking of the ego-self," I mean the psychological necessity of the social ego to turn off its connection with nature so that it can develop a field of human-based, culture-oriented relations. Genuine transcendence, such as was offered in the Mystery School initiations, involved temporary dissolving of the ego-blocks and melting of self-consciousness so that nature is once again encountered as the numinous source of life.)
In his landmark essay, "Why the Future Doesn't Need Us," IT pioneer Bill Joy wrote:
Once an intelligent robot exists, it is only a small step
to a robot species—to an intelligent robot that can make
evolved copies of itself... But if we are downloaded into our
technology, what are the chances that we will thereafter be
ourselves or even human? It seems to me far likely that a robotic
existence will not be like a human one in any sense we understand,
that the robots would in no sense be our children, that on
this path our humanity may well be lost.
IT is the tool we are using to write ourselves out of Gaia's agenda.
By themselves the Archons can do nothing but insinuate. They
rely heavily on our tendency to give over our power by wrong
use of imagination. Let's recall the alchemical
in Sources of the Gaia Mythos: "Let thy
imagination be guided wholly by nature... And observe according
to nature, through whom the substances regenerate themselves
in the bowels of the earth. And imagine this with true and not
with fantastic imagination." Our problem — without
question, the single most threatening spiritual problem of our
species — is
that we do not adequately or consistently distinguish the true
from the fantastic imagination.
One of the most reliable tactics of the Archons is simulation (hal in Coptic). We might assume, then, that they are capable of simulating life to the point where their simulation cannot be distinguished from the real thing. Not so. The Archons cannot make pearls from plastic, but we can become so dull in sense perception that we cannot distinguish plastic from pearl. Gnostic seers ascertained that Archontic simulation is largely a faking process, like the special effects of the Wizard of Oz. Our alien cousins cannot actually simulate the human organism, but if they can convince us that they can do so, we risk making the simulation look real because we grant it reality in our own imaginations. Gnostics taught that the Archons can do nothing without our complicity—and, in fact, we are the ones who do most of the work for them! The power of human imagination is immense (Gnostics called this faculty the luminous epinoia), and the Archons rely on stealing its inventive fire to pass off their simulations as real.
Consistent with this tactic, the Alien Dreaming seduces us into believing that all kinds of ridiculous things are possible, or even have been achieved already. The fear factor plays beautifully into our inflated expectations. For instance, we live in breathless anticipation that a human being will be physically cloned, perhaps with a little help from our alien cousins on the biotechnological points. Fearing this will occur, or eagerly waiting for it to occur, we do not see what is actually occuring, what is actually happening to us. It is as if we lived in a building under constant threat of an earthquake while acid is silently eating away the foundations. This tactic of distraction, or misdirection, is extremely effective.
Consequently, the world today is constantly jolted with the immanence of human cloning, while behavioral cloning proceeds unnoticed.
Common forms of behavioral cloning are: rote learning of religious scriptures (often accompanied by shaking the head, seen with devout Jews at the Wailing Wall, or the entire body, seen in Muslim schools where children are forcefully indoctrinated), conformity to empty religious formulas and vicarious rites (in the Catholic mass, for instance), usage of mobile telephones (involving the same set of gestures around the world: eyes fixed on keyboard to text messages, phoneset to ear while walking, eating, driving, etc), flag-waving and slogan-chanting at political rallies, the spiked fingers gesture of heaving masses at rock concerts (Who remembers that at the original Woodstock gathering, Frank Zappa told the immense crowd of hippies, "You are all wearing uniforms."?), mass gymnastic spectacles in Korea and China, dance crazes and mindless imitation of dance moves modelled by pop idols and mimicked by "Star Academy" candidates, accumulation of designer labels and chic logos, self-cloning via video-game "avatars"....
Furious and unabated, these and other forms of behavioral cloning proceed without the blink of an eye. Indeed, they are encouraged and enforced at every turn, especially where financial gain is at stake. Their effect is to reinforce the zombie mentality that allows them to occur in the first place. The dynamic of behavioral cloning is a classic case of "positive feedback" — an unfortunate designation, however. In the language of complexity theory (formerly, chaos theory) positive feedback is a self-enforcing loop that eventually spins out of control and self-destructs. On an icy road, when a car begins to slide out of control, the smart driver will steer slightly and steadily in the direction the car's rear end is shifting, thus correcting the spin. This exemplifies "negative feedback," but I propose it would be better called corrective feedback. Many of the natural processes on earth, such as the formation of the polar icecaps and the carbon cycle, demonstrate corrective feedback.
If the driver on an icy road panics and makes the seemingly logical move to steer out of the slide (i.e., away from it), the car goes into an uncontrollable spin. This is positive feedback, but I would prefer to call it dystrophic feedback. Dystrophy (from dys-, "abnormal, impaired," + tropos, "turn.") is a physical disorder of the limbs characterized by the wasting of organs and tissues, as in muscular dystrophy. Dystrophy — literally, "a turn for the worse" — is more radical than entrophy, which is merely the passive running down of a system. Dystrophic feedback leads to violent disintegration of an organiism or machine. In short, it is the path of catastrophic breakdown.
Behavioral cloning is extremely deceptive because the high degree of conformity it demands gives the impression of order and stability. Yet a society driven by behavioral cloning will, sooner or later, enter the path of catastrophic breakdown. Behavioral cloning is the norm in societies where the ruling powers are blindly driven to pathological extremes, such as the Sun sacrifice madness of the Aztecs. As noted above, behavioral cloning is driven from within by belief and lured or entrained from without by technology and trickery (i.e., "magic," as in the case of Aztec magical ceremonies to feed blood to the dying sun). When beliefs and technology combine, the formula is lethal.
Gnostics taught that the Archons do not autonomously cause us to deviate from our proper course of evolution, but they exploit our tendency to let our errors extrapolate beyond the scale of correction— i.e., to verge on dystrophic feedback. To my knowledge, no other ancient teaching carries such a clear predictive view of the risk of evolutional deviance inherent to human social behavior. The Gnostics may have been silenced 1600 years ago, but they can still speak vividly to us today.
The dynamics of behavioral cloning can also be understood by way of two seminal ideas proposed by cultural anthropologist Rene Girard: mimetic desire and the mechanism of unanimity. See Girardian theory.
belief-change The act of changing what one believes, especially by examaning and rejecting received beliefs and adopting aligned beliefs; and, going even more deeply into this process, by changing the way one views belief itself. I call these the relative and radical forms of belief-change, respectively.
In metahistorical analysis, defining yourself by what you believe looks like an extremely dangerous procedure. Unless you are able to determine if the beliefs you hold are insane and inhumane, the identity acquired through adopting beliefs could be delusional.
Of course, most people in the world today did not adopt the beliefs they hold in the first place. Our beliefs are more often chosen for us than by us. Relative belief-change begins with the act of questioning the beliefs chosen for us by family, racial background, culture, education, religion and government. If any of those beliefs are found to be untrue or harmful, then can be rejected, and others adopted in their stead.
Prizewinning author Barry Lopez has written extensively on the link that connects humans with nature. Like many others, Lopez was brought up to believe that humans are distinct from and superior to all other animals — if, indeed, humans can be considered to be animals at all. Lopez gradually abandoned this belief as untrue and exchanged it for a belief in the kinship of all species. Describing this shift, he said, "I would say that seeking nature has caused me to change my identity. I now regard myself as part of nature." The belief-change undergone in his life involved throwing off an entire sets of beliefs about how humanity is related to the natural world, the non-human and the Other. This process led to the dissolution of the entire belief-system chosen for him. Lopez presents an example of advanced belief-change, but it is still relative, still a matter of exchanging one belief or set or beliefs for another.
Radical belief-change goes beyond shedding particular beliefs or exchanging one belief (humans are separate from and superior to nature) for another (humans are part of nature, and not dominant to other species). Radical change involves a deep shift in the way beliefs are viewed, rather than a mere shift in belief. One of the most difficult but crucial lessons of metahistory is that we can assess beliefs to see it they are insane and inhumane. Doing so, we look deeply into the dynamic of belief. One of the first things we learn is that the power of particular beliefs depends in large measure on the nature of belief being left unquestioned and unexamined. Metacritique delves into the dynamic of believing.
Socrates said, "The unexamined life is not worth living." To rephrase this famous statement in metahistorical terms, we could say, "The unexamined belief is not worth holding." True enough, but the examined belief may not be worth holding, either. In other words, a great many beliefs, once they are examined, may prove to be worthless as indicators of truth or guides to experience, although they may serve to define identity and confer a sense of belonging. One of the more astringent lessons of metahistory is that beliefs are not adopted because they are true, but come to be regarded as true because they have been adopted. (This argument is developed via a dialogue process in Socratic Sessions, One.) Their value is not to carry truths that are acquired from the direct experience of the individual, but to insure the individual identity and participation in social terms.
This assertion is a good example of radical belief-change because it does not propose that any belief is better or worse than any other; rather, it exposes the inner dynamic of believing. With radical belief-change, one believes less and less and comes to rely more and more on the evidence of direct personal experience. On this path there is a possibility of liberation from all forms of conditioning that impede or conceal the authentic resources of the individual. Hence, belief-change is essential to the full actualization of human potential.
See also Morris Berman on ideologies.
It must be said, however, that radical belief-change carries a definite risk of social alienation, because so much of what happens in human society depends on the sharing of unexamined beliefs. One can become very unpopular very quickly by putting certain beliefs in question, especially religious beliefs. Radical belief-change is always intimate and deeply personal, specific to the individual who undertakes it. It may be debatable that belief-change of this kind is even possible on the social level, because it would dissolve the very fabric of society.
Relative belief-change is a way to overcome the conditioning that prevents us from realizing our authenticity as human beings. It is a path of spiritual awakening and transformation. Radical belief-change is a way, not only to overcome, but also to oppose the conditioning that deviates us, individually and collectively, from the true potential of humanitas. In metahistory we consider these two forms of belief-change to be the most effective strategies for shifting human behavior at the individual level, and, beyond that, perhaps for plotting a course correction for the human species as a whole.
belief-system An ensemble
of beliefs, usually codified in a system of religious ideology
and including rules for behavior, taboos, a dress code. Islam
is a belief system. The characteristic of a belief-system is package
deal: if the believer adopts even one element of the system
he or she becomes implicated in the entire ensemble.
Lloyd M, Graham, Deceptions and Myths of the Bible, p. 33
Despite the patchwork nature of both Testaments, those who take these writings for the revealed word of God see in them a coherent account of the operations of divine will in human history. Fundamentalist belief insists that nothing can be changed in Holy Writ, nor can any word or sentence be improved and expanded. To those who believe it is the result of superhuman authorship, the Bible cannot be amended or questioned.
In his comparative study of heroic narratives, The Hero,
Lord Raglan showed that the child in the bulrushes was a stock
feature in ritual tales of divine kingship. By demonstrating
that this and other incidents in the lives of Moses and Jesus
occur in many scripts, Raglan proved that sacred history is a
formula-story composed of many borrowed tales, not a seamless
narrative unique to Judeo-Christian tradition. (Engraving, Gustav
A subset of intervention theory, Biblical UFOlogy treats events described in the Old and New Testaments as testimony of encounters with aliens, i.e, non-human entities assumed to be of superior intelligence and advanced evolution. In some respects, this theory dovetails with the hypothesis of "ancient astronauts" made famous by Erich von Daniken. In both cases, supernatural events attributed to God are implemented by ET-like entities manifesting as angels. If the ET/angels are assumed to have been sent by God, the question of whether or not they proceed from advanced civilization elsewhere in the universe remains open. The main assumption is, they are allies and instruments of the Will of God. This belief reflects the deep religiosity of ET/UFO speculation.
All the best (i.e, most intellectually sophisticated, well-informed, cogent and critical) commentators on the ET/UFO enigma agree on its religious dimension:
- John Keel, Operation Trojan Horse, p. 216
Contactee organizations may become the basis of a new "high-demand"
religion. The current conservative backlash against "decadent" morality
and social liberalism has led many to consider their spiritual orientation.
The Catholic Church is at a critical point in its history, and many other
religions are in trouble... The creeds of UFO organizations often emphasize
themes of sexual repression, racial segragation, and conservative values...
Especially noticable in this respect is the attention received by "the
Two" and the widespread Melchizedek groups. Inherent in such sectarian
activity is the seed of revolutionary religious movements of almost unlimited
The aliens take the place of a God of salvation history working for
humanity's redemption. The goal of history, according to seduction narratives,
is not the union of God and man in Christ; rather, it is the union of
humanity and alien towards which the UFO godlings strive. The barely
disguised grafting of these theological elements of America's most popular
religion onto the bizarre phenomenon of UFO abductees argues strongly
for the phenomena's strongly religious character.
Gnostics, however, took an entirely different of view of ETs allied with the Creator God. The Gnostic theory of Alien intrusion states, first, that one specific type of inorganic being, called Archons, is predatory toward humanity, and second, that the Creator God of the Old Testament is a reptilian of the Archontic species, a demented deity who falsely considers himself to be the master and maker of our planetary world, and is actively working against the evolution of humanity. Thus, Gnostics assumed malevolent intent on the part of Jehovah, the supreme deity of Judeo-Christianity, whom they called Ialdabaoth. They warned of a pseudo-God at loose in the cosmos who works to deceive and deviate the human species from its proper course of evolution.
Gnostics were specific in exposing the motive and method of the Archons and their overlord, Jehovah-Ialdabaoth. They saw in the Judeo-Christian ideology of salvation both the evidence and instrument of alien subterfuge. Hence, their views represent a diametric opposite to Biblical UFOlogy insofar as the latter assumes that ET/Aliens are doing God's Will and serving the true needs of humanity. By contrast, Gnostics taught that the Archons want to alienate us from our true birthright, the wisdom endowment (nous) of the Goddess Sophia. In Gnostic cosmology, the emergence of the Archon species in the cosmic order is a special episode in the Fallen Goddess Scenario. In Biblical UFOlogy the entire narrative ignores any reference to the Goddess Sophia or her ancient cognates, such as Asteroth and Astarte, telluric female divinities of ancient Palestine to whom Sophia (vaguely indicated by the Hebrew Shekinah) can be equated.
The seminal text of Biblical UFOlogy, The
Bible and Flying Saucers, was published in 1968, thus preceding von
Daniken by several years. Its author, Barry H. Downing, was a serious
research is deep and whose writing is sober and carefully measured.
Often his tone is gently chiding of traditional belief: One
may not be pleased with the theological implications that Christ
ascended in some sort of space vehicle, but the implications fit
the evidence better than the suggestion that there was no Ascension
at all. (p. 47-8) Downings intention is to preserve
the miraculous aspects of Biblical history, but to explain them
terms of advanced technology; yet he does not impose this explanation,
he merely proposes it.
At the very moment when Judeo-Christian ideology was taking shape, Gnostics came forth from the relative anonymity of the Mystery Schools and engaged the proponents of the new religion in argument, pointing in no uncertain terms to the erroneous and deviant nature of such doctrines as monotheistic creation, the moral sovereignty of Jehovah, dominion of the human species over the Earth, the repression of the Goddess, sin and redemption, the incarnation of divinity in human form, vicarious atonement, blind faith in the saving power of Jesus, the resurrection of the body in the end time, and divine retribution. Almost nothing is left of the Gnostic protest against these ideological and supernatural tenets of Christianity, because thaat protest had to be entirely eradicated so that the Christian program of salvation could be propagated without informed resistence or critical dissent. The fifty-odd texts in the Nag Hammadi cache are pitiful fragments, mere flakes of what once was expressed in parchments and codices that ran into the tens of thousands, filling the libraries of the Mystery Schools in Biblos, Antioch, Alexandria and elsewhere, all over the classical world.
The teachers from the Mystery Schools refuted such doctrines as these in oral argument as well as in countless tracts and full-length books that were later destroyed so that no convincing refutation of salvationist doctrines survived. But Gnostics only launched a frontal assault on the beliefs of the early Christians: they did not attack the Christians themselves. By contrast, the converts to the new religion that eventually was codified in two vast movements, Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox Christianity, physically attacked the Gnostics, destroyed their writings, and demolished the Mystery Schools.
Thus Christianity arose from a centuries-long program of spiritual-intellectual genocide. The true story of the destruction of the indigenous spiritual traditions of Europa has yet to be told. Unfortunately, the well-meaning attempts of Biblical UFOlogists to reconcile the modern ET/UFO phenomenon with the "Divine Plan" completely disregard the Gnostic protest against Judeo-Christian religion. Doing so, they perpetuate the cover-up of the single greatest spiritual catastrophe in our history — the destruction of Gnosis, the way of knowing as the Gods know.biomysticism Proposed term for the practice of experimental mysticism with the physical senses as instruments of investigation.
The full term "psychosomatic illuminism" is correct, but awkward. I maintain that biomystical practices were systematically taught in the Mystery Schools of Pagan Europe (Europa). Evidence of such practices is skant, not because it never existed, however. Rather because almost all traces of what was actuallydone and taught in the Mysteries has been destroyed. Nevertheless, traditions of Asian mysticism provide plenty of examples that can be equated with probable counterparts in the Western Mysteries. For instance, siddhis, occult powers such as clairvoyance and clairaudience, are widely attested among Asian mystics. It can be inferred that some Gnostic "revelation discourses," such as the Discourse on the Eigth and the Ninth (NHL VI, 6), are transcriptions of visionary states or clairaudient sessions.
Early Theosophic scholars such as G. R. S. Mead routinely assumed that Gnostics attained the same powers as their Asian counterparts. Like Tantra, biomysticism uses the body and sense-impressions to explore and expand consciousness. M. A. Williams (Rethinking 'Gnosticism') refutation of the world-denial attributed to Gnostics supports the idea that Gnostic spiritual practices were body-based. In modern psychology, no one has contributed more to the basis we need for understanding biomysticism than Wilhelm Reich. In Ether, God and Devil, he wrote:
What Reich calls "orgone," the pervasive cosmic life-force, Gnostics knew as Eros. Orgonotic and Erotic are competely interchangeable terms. Reich's notion of "organ sensation as a tool of research" is a succinct formula of biomysticism. (For an introduction to the life and work of Wilhelm Reich, see Michael Mannion's essay in Invited Views.)
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