14. THE POTENTIAL POWER OF THE HUMAN BRAIN
(A) To give some idea of what might be the potential power of the human brain.
(B) To point to the possibility that what most of us call "raising children" and "schooling" is, in reality, mental mutilation.
(C) To indicate that we have been brainwashed into becoming dependent on forms outside ourselves (which includes projected "external authority").
(D) To suggest that we have the creative intelligence to place ourselves in environments that will support our growth towards self-actualization.
(E) To draw attention to Barbara Brown's book, "Supermind."
(F) To suggest that the human eye can be used to activate and improve certain mental functions.
(G) To introduce the idea of the meta-information network as a "planetary brain."
(This section is based extensively on a talk given by Fred Stitt at the "First World Libertarian Convention" in Zurich during August, 1982. I often use Fred's words verbatim. This is also an appropriate point at which to acknowledge Fred for the inspiration he has provided to me.)
Imagine a small child, a prodigy of immense potential intelligence and ability being raised in a blank white room that has no windows and no visible door. His room is cleaned at night while he sleeps, food and water being provided for his day's sustenance by parents he never sees nor hears. The blank white room is the totality of his universe. One day, while the child is awake, the hidden door opens, revealing a strange and incomprehensible world outside. The child recoils in bewilderment and terror.
This same reaction can be observed in a young cat that has lived all its life in a particular apartment and is then suddenly taken outside into a strange environment it has never seen before—where it is confronted by a huge, barking dog!
The child, suddenly facing the exterior for the first time (like the cat), has no "frame of reference" by which to interpret the strange, newly-revealed world outside the blank white room where he has lived all his life. He has no language for it, no mental tools to cope with it, no way to think about what is happening—all is frightening chaos; the child does not have the information necessary for dealing with the world.
The "normally-reared" child has, of course, from an early age started to construct a "mental model" or "map" ("self-image" and "world view") or "frame of reference," or "paradigm," of himself, other people, and his world. The quality and the appropriateness of this mental model play a crucial role in the child's (and later, the adult's) ability to live a successful, happy, and satisfying life.
In our society, when we talk about raising children, we are really talking about driving them crazy. What education is about is conditioning people to be irresponsible and stupid. It teaches them to be skillful technologists and useless people...at the end of the "educational" pro-cess, we have become technically semi-competent human machines and, as creative human beings, we have turned into morons. -Stewart Emery ("Actualizations")
But back to the analogy of the child reared in the blank white room: This analogy emerged during a physicist's analysis of the human brain and nervous system at a conference on consciousness and the nature of reality held at the University of California in May, 1982. Conference speakers included brain surgeons, physicists, mathematicians, and biologists, such as Dirk Pearson and Sandy Shaw (authors of the best-selling book, "Life Extension"). It was a magnificent gathering of intellects.
The physicist, Dr. Harris Walker of Johns Hopkins University, presented some numbers concerning the possible pace of operation and capability of the human brain. Like several others in the same field, he has sought to quantify mental functioning, to make its scope more understandable and measurable. Like others, he has chosen to use the basic computer measurement of information processing, the "bit" (or "binary digit"), as his fundamental unit of measurement of brain function. The "bit" is the smallest unit of information, or data, in the computer: An "off" or "on" ("yes" or "no") signal in a circuit is represented as "1" or "0." It is the irreducible primary of information in a digital computer.
Dr. Walker, by "following the numbers," as he put it, suggested that our brain processes something like 1,000,000,000,000 (one trillion) bits per second, and that data transfer between brain cells occurs at the subatomic level via quantum mechanics. To get a sense of what this number means in real terms: A trillion bits per second would represent the equivalent computer processing of 125,000,000,000 (125 billion) characters per second (assuming a character made up of eight bits). Or, thinking in terms of normal English words, the data flow would equal 15,000,000 (15 million) words or concepts per second. That's an immense number. Far beyond what you or I are aware of processing in our day-today experience, never mind our second-to-second functioning.
Of course, it could be misleading to imagine that our brains function like computers, using "bits." But we do know that the human brain contains about 100,000,000 (one hundred million) synaptic cells. Now, consider these speculations:
(A) The basic unit of brain information is not a two-valued ("yes-no") "bit," but a many-valued "continuum bit";
(B) Each brain cell can process some large number of "continuum bits" per second;
(C) Together, with the fact of the number of brain cells (and the even larger number of interconnections between them), the above two speculations indicate that the potential capability of the human brain to process information may be vastly beyond the expectations of most of us;
(D) What if we can program our grains to "perform miracles"—even while we sleep?
Sound far-fetched? What about the reports of "mathematical freaks" who outperform our fastest computers in certain calculations? What about Najdorf, the chess grandmaster, who (as reported) played sixty-five simultaneous games of chess blindfolded...and after several months, could still recall every move of every game?
A researcher at a Xerox think tank has the view that a single brain cell processes about 10,000,000 (ten million) bits per second. His "numbers" exceed those of Dr. Walker by a factor of about one thousand. In other words, his estimate of the capacity of the human brain is approximately one thousand times that of Dr. Walker.
Regardless of which estimate is the most accurate, the implications seem staggering. They suggest that we have an intellectual potential almost beyond comprehension. Not just a privileged few, but each and every one of us—every human being on Earth has untapped mental resources that could only be described as gargantuan—resources vast enough to ensure that every functioning human being is fully capable of dealing with any problem or any concept that a universe of lifetimes might ever present..
Another immediate implication is that—considering our brain capacity—we must be among the most self-ignorant and self-repressed creatures ever to have lived in the universe...
You and I have, within us, the creative intelligence to recognize the conditions of existence that support our growth toward self-actualization, and we have the wherewithal to place ourselves in such an environment. - Stewart Emery ("Actualizations")
How did this ignorance and repression come about? Let us return to the analogy of our child prodigy. Instead of being reared in a blank white room, he grew up in a world of staggeringly complex information, much of which he misinterpreted, distorted, and misunderstood. His "self-image" and "world view" were accordingly formed—possible malformed. Consider the notion that the power of the brain is like a many-edged magic sword which can be used to empower or maim oneself, to inspire or slay others. Consider the notion of different parts of the brain being in states of inner conflict. Consider the notions concerning the evolution of consciousness. Of course, to explain the sources of human ignorance and repression, and to find remedies, are the domain of meta-psychology. Maybe most of the information is already available.
We are conditioned from the very beginning that either mother or father or somebody other than us is going to insure that our life is wonderful, happy, and beautiful...hope is the expectation that some source external to ourselves is going to save our ass so we will live happily ever after. Hope is the confirmed belief in Santa Claus, on some level. Hope is what keeps all the suffering in place...when you are attached to the notion that your well-being is dependent upon some form outside of yourself, the best life ever gets is temporarily better, which condition is always followed by disillusionment. - Stewart Emery ("Actualizations")
Maybe that child prodigy, with such potential of immense proportions and little actualization is all of humanity...just waiting for someone to provide the key to open that concealed door on the other side of which are: Consciousness, peace, harmony, satisfaction, freedom, power, responsibility, love?
The key recognition here, I think, is that in terms of our potential, we are still babies. In the introduction, I talked about ignorance hiding itself. In Section 12, I indicated that unconsciousness hides itself. Similarly, deception hides itself. So does weakness. And what about stupidity and stupefaction? They also hide themselves. So does fear, because fear includes fear of fear. Weakness includes an inability to recognize weakness. And, similarly, unrealized potential hides itself...think about it...a problem includes the inability to recognize precisely what the problem is...what is the key?...the question?...which question?...]
What flows from the mind of man can be as awe-inspiring, prodigious, and miraculous or as fearsome, odious, and intimidating as what flows from nature itself. The progenitor of man's schizophrenic nature is the intangible effluence of an animal substance called brain, a part of the physical being so exceeding the bounds of physical evolution that the magnitude of its capacity to determine the course of all nature, including its own, is scarcely acknowledged.
On the one side is the mind that can project a just, fulfilling existence for all life. On the other side is the beast of caged emotion, stripped of all intelligence. How is this dichotomy of human nature possible? What is it that has let man understand a golden age, yet destroy every possibility of reaching it? It is, of course, the activity of the mind that lies behind both the growth and destruction of man. No other species contains within itself the ability to control its own survival or death.
And the ultimate activity of thought—the faculty for introspection, for self-awareness, for self-analysis, and for analyzing one's own though processes—is still the mysterious "black box" of the mind miracles that no man seems to dare to try to open.
In a way, realizing the vastness of the unexplored territory of mind is a realization shocking enough to be frightening. If the mind can, for example, reveal its infinite capacities in the exquisite formation of complex symbols in dreams or in an occasional genius or create within itself supraconsciousness or end the agony of pain, if mind can accomplish such things, then the reluctance of science to explore man's supernature for the benefit of man may be a form of intellectual suicide.
I have a dream that soon man can begin to experience the wonders of his mind and learn to use consciousness to fulfill a greater potential of his being and of his species. My passions for this dream are undisguised, but they are passions for liberation of mind and consciousness as deeply rooted in science and philosophy as they are in personal experience. - Barbara B. Brown
Po: Brain!; Po: Mind! (Section 3).
The least we can do is to examine what someone who devotes her life to the study of the mind-brain has to say on the subject—not forgetting, though, what Nietzsche suggested about the danger of introspection (Section 12). Here follows a outline of "Supermind" from its table of contents:
(A) The mystery of mind: Enigmas and paradoxes. New awareness of mind.
(B) The realm of mind: Knowns and unknowns: Beliefs and attitudes. Untapped skills of mind and consciousness. Compartments of mind and consciousness. Exploring the resources of mind. Discovering the healing mind.
(C) Keen mind, simple body: Mind over matter. Controlling the body. The primitive nature of the physical self. The nature of mind-body operations. Central control is mind control.
(D) Body sense: Cradle of awareness. Awareness begins with perceptions. Biological awareness. Other "new" (evolved?) senses. Body—the mirror of the mind. Conscious vs. unconscious judgments. The body responds.
(E) The unconscious and body behavior: Awareness of internal states. "Teaching" the unconscious to control the body. Unconscious control of intelligent behavior. Intelligent, unconscious control of body. Benign interference. Reacting to placebos is intelligent. Victimizing the uncon-scious. Permission to become aware of internal states. Body awareness and well-being of the body.
(F) Stress: The uninformed mind: The stress illness. The current consensus about "stress." Insights from common sense. Stress is manufactured by the mind. Mental steps to distress: (1) Expectations; (2) perceptions; (3) Worry; (4) Uncertainty; (5) The images of worry—between reason and unreason; (6) Rumination; (7) Self-deception; Back to square one. People with stress are 100% logical! The second illness.
(G) Mind and Brain: The mind-body problem. How the experts see mind and consciousness. Brain-to-consciousness theories. To know mind is to know man.
(H) The creation of mind: Mind, brain, and the evolutionary perspective. Foundations of biological evolution. Survival of the fittest. Genes and the evolutionary inheritance. Biological communication systems: Their effects on genes. The communication systems. Expanding communications. From neural substance to brain. Learning and the evolution of behavior. Evolution of the social mentality. Best-fitting hypothesis?
(I) Tracking the unconscious mind: The invisible fabric of min. The unconscious reality. Historical insights. The approach of psychology. The roots of consciousness. Does "Primitive" behavior mean "primitive" mind? Communi-cating by time-space patterns. The evolution of awareness.
(J) The nature of exceptional mind states: Dissociations of consciousness: Unexplored resources of mind. Non-ordinary mind states. The nature of altered states. Mobilizing the unconscious resource. Visions of hidden intellect. Glimpses of the caring unconscious. Sleep-walking. Thoughts on out-of-the-body experiences. Life after death. Flying saucers. The idiot svant. Hypnosis. Sorting out altered states.
(K) Quintessential consciousness: Mystical states. Imagery, imagination, and mental images.
(L) The intellect of the unconscious: New insights. Learning to control a single cell. A summary of general observations. The unconscious intellect: The information it uses. Clues to unconscious abilities from observing the performance. A sense of order as a fundamental property of mind-brain. The will and the will executor. The Brownenberg principle. The unconscious mind—master of mind functions.
THE POWER OF THE EYE:
On the cover of this book, you can see the "power shining from the eye." Awareness begins with perception. By far, the largest portion of the information we ingest comes in through our eyes. Recently, it has been discovered that the eyes can be used in very special ways to trigger or activate and to improve dramatically certain mental functions...more about this in Section 16.
THE META-INFORMATION NETWORK AS A PLANETARY BRAIN:
The idea is that each participant in the network is like a brain cell. Each brain cell becomes highly effective at surviving, thinking for itself, and inter-communicating with other brain cells. Possibly, a "super-language" would have to be developed that carries a hundred or a thousand times as much information as English. When a sufficient number of highly-evolved brain cells inter-communicate at a high enough level, who knows what might happen? If you are interested in pursuing this idea, I suggest that you read "The Global Brain" by Peter Russell.
POINTS TO REMEMBER:
(A) Our potential brain power may be vastly beyond our current imagination.
(B) What most of us call "raising children" and "schooling" could, in reality, be mental mutilation.
(C) Most of us have been brainwashed into becoming depending on forms outside ourselves (which includes projected "external authority").
(D) We have the creative intelligence to place ourselves in environments that will support our growth towards self-actualization.
(E) In terms of our potential, we are babies.
(F) Unrealized potential hides itself—like ignorance, unconsciousness, deception, stupidity, and weakness.
(G) The possible importance of Barbara Brown's book, "Supermind."
(H) Maybe the human eye can be used to activate and improve certain mental functions.
(I) The idea of the meta-information network as a "planetary brain."
(A) What do you think of the idea that your brain might have far greater powers than you have ever imagined?
(B) What are your ideas on "raising children" and "schooling"?
(C) Do you think that you personally might have been brainwashed into becoming dependant on forms outside yourself?
(D) Would beliefs in projected and make-believe "external authorities" be a consequence of the above?
(E) Do you think that you have the creative intelligence to place yourself in environments that will support your growth towards self-actualization?
(F) What do you think of the idea that unrealized potential hides itself, like unconsciousness, ignorance, deception, weakness, stupidity, and stupe-faction?
(G) Is it possible for you to entertain the notion that you are a baby compared to what you could be?
(H) Do you intend to read Barbara Brown's book, "Supermind"?
(I) Do you thin the idea is crazy that the human eye can be used to activate and improve certain mental functions?
(J) What do you think of the idea of the meta-information network as a "planetary brain"?
(K) What is your overall opinion of this book, now?
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