Monthly Archives: May 2011

Plenty of Time for the Human Race to Wake Up

Assuming that our theory is correct, the human race is currently in the grips of an Emergency Oversimplification procedure (EOP). This is a worldwide disease of the mind that we don’t know that we all have.

It started no more than about 6000 years ago when written language revolutionized our lives, kicking off inventions, weapons, and ultimately in the last half millennium mass media. There is now a rush of information into the human brain on a daily continuous basis.

Not only do the media pour in this complex and question-producing information, this info-density is also the product of citification, another result of written language. We now mostly live in each other’s faces while the brainwash drumbeat of media creates a ceaseless background context.

Havenotism (the belief that it is normal and appropriate for some individuals to have not) developed because certain individuals within the human race became more accomplished faster at the use of written language, inventions and weapons. Weapons and media are simply part of the inventing capability emergent from written language. Before written language, there was the use of inscribed and sculpted images to aid in the types of thought conducive to inventing things. But without written language, more complex inventions such as machines and machined weapons were very difficult to construct.

Written language not only captures and VISUALLY* freezes thoughts (which are therefore retrievable), it also trains the mind to think analytically about parts and wholes in a way that is visualizable. Imagery can become more complex when the mind is trained to use eyes and mind together in the process of written language. Inventions come about because of complex imagery and written language. Complex imagery cannot develop without the symbolic thinking and logic skills engendered by written language. Written language therefore stands as the most important invention of the human race.

It also brought on a temporary flood tide of ideas, which has hypnotized and intoxicated us all into this rapture we call EOP.

I say temporary because I am thinking of the time scale. Dinosaurs ruled the Earth for 150 million years. We have had written language for 6000 years, about 0.004% of the time humans will rule the Earth assuming we are as durable as dinosaurs. So as I said in the title of this posting, we have plenty of time as a race to get past EOP.

Best to all,

Bill

*Homo sapiens are a sub-branch of the family of primates, and the perception dominance of primates is visual – whereas for felines and canines it is olfactory (smell) and for dolphins it is auditory (hearing). Written language would never have been such an empowering and seminal invention for us if we were not visually dominant.

 

The Three States of Waking Consciousness

Western science has it that there is a single state of human consciousness. In his landmark book The Meditative Mind, my wonderful friend Daniel Goleman presents the ancient Eastern wisdom of the Visuddhimagga and other sacred texts, showing ten waking states above an access state which itself is superior to the everyday state on the path of concentration, and nine such waking states above access state and everyday state on the path of insight. This suggests that there are around a dozen waking states.

Obviously in the East they allowed self-observation to be considered a path to objective knowledge, a technique little used in the West. This is why psychotechnologies – ways of controlling our mental states by acts of will and concentration – were developed first in the East.

If there were only one state of waking consciousness, this means that Osama when he was reportedly high on heroin and about to be shot was in the same state of waking consciousness as Einstein was in when he had the insight of Relativity and the relationships between matter and energy, space and time. How plausible is that?

Even if we want to be snobbish know-it-all Westerners, unscientifically closed-minded and not even interested in experimenting with Eastern mental maps, is it not pretty easy to allow that there could be more than one state of waking consciousness?

As in the paths of concentration and insight in the example above, it is possible to conceive of a number of different maps of states of waking consciousness, all being true from their own viewpoint. There could be a map showing what you go through when you focus on your concentration in itself, and discover higher and higher degrees of your ability to concentrate. There could be a different map for what you experience when you practice ways of achieving deeper and deeper insights into what exists in your purview.

Here at The Human Effectiveness Institute (THEI), because we are singularly focused on the goal of increasing human effectiveness, we divide waking consciousness into three states. We recognize that there are other valid ways of distinguishing states of consciousness, and that there are undoubtedly sub-states within the three states that we use as a basis for our psychotechnology. However, for utilitarian reasons, we simplify to these three states:

  1. Emergency Oversimplification Procedure (EOP). The “functional” state of the human race today. You are acting like a robot. Somebody who knows you well can predict accurately what you will do in a certain situation. He or she could get rich making bets on your next actions, were there anyone to take those bets. You always say the same things, keyed to the situation. You have the same feelings and go through the same mental loops when the same types of things happen to you. You are focused on quickly classifying incoming situations into types so you know what to do.
  2. The Observer State. You can see that you have been acting like a programmed machine. You can see that it’s hard to stop the robot part of you from controlling your actions even though you are wide awake to the situation.
  3. The Flow State. Aka The Zone. Often for short periods, some of us are able to spontaneously do exactly the right thing down to miniscule subtleties, and it all happens automatically while you watch your self do this, from your ringside seat.

We hypothesize that there are underlying measurable brain states corresponding to these three experiential (perceived from the inside) states. It’s possible that one drives the other but we need to be careful in coming to conclusions about which drives which.

In EOP, we hypothesize that there might be high functional connectivity (or functional coupling) between neural networks in Brodmann Area 10 (sense of self; aka BA10) and the limbic system and other brain areas involved in the ancient fight-flight reaction syndrome.

In the Observer State, we hypothesize that there is high functional coupling between BA10 and the prefrontal lobes.

In the Flow State, we hypothesize high functional coupling across a number of brain regions, signifying natural harmony, possibly appearing in brainscan as symmetrical and balanced, possibly crystalline pattern of moving energies. Users of low cost EEG devices such as Mind Mirror since the early 80s have seen this yantra/mandala--like pattern in EEGs of advanced meditators. The Mind Mirror device is conducive to showing these artistic brain patterns during subject Flow State because the display shows left and right brain from “above”.

Computer science professor and prolific science fiction writer Rudy Rucker uses the pre-existing term “autopoiesis” (self-creation) to mean the degree of control an individual has over his or her self. (Rudy’s characteristically quantum mechanics infused twist on the term makes for a paragraph interesting to read.) Using Rudy’s meaning, the three states of waking consciousness as we have defined them, constitute stages along a continuum of self-creation/self-control. In EOP, regardless of what one thinks, one is not in control of one’s actions, which are being driven mechanically by people who push your buttons and by what appear to be stray events. These events may or may not being dragged (by inter-personal signaling among mirror neurons) into your purview, attracted by your fears; it certainly seems that way. Your fears keep attracting the feared situation.

In the Observer State, there are degrees of control. At the earliest stage of learning how to be when in the Observer State, one can see what one’s robot is doing but cannot stop the robot from doing it. Later on there is a higher degree of control.

In the Flow State, one has such a high degree of control that it has become autonomic such that the individual’s will has no inertial drag as it processes through to motor control.

We define “psychotechnology” (the word had earlier meanings in the 1930s) as anything that helps people get from EOP into either or both of the two higher effectiveness states of waking consciousness.

I have been creating such psychotechnology for my own personal use all my life, and began packaging it for others in the 1970s. In 1976 I founded the Human Effectiveness Institute (THEI) and others who saw the effectiveness increases from the early psychotechnology gathered around THEI to help disseminate it. We are working toward an even more effective package with the next book and its accompanying DVD video.

We hope you will experiment with these psychotechnologies on yourself.

Looking forward to that. All the best,

Bill

 

Psychotechnology for the 21st Century

This post will overview the Institute and our work. As a media researcher I’ve analyzed large databases, done surveys, measured brainwaves, tracked eye movements, absorbed a vast amount of information, and thought for the past 40 years about the way media affect the mind.

I started using computers in the 60s and was on the Internet in 1980 when it was called Arpanet. My exposure to computers during this period as they ascended to a major role in our culture got me to think about how the mind and the computer work in similar ways.

In my childhood my showbiz parents put me on stage from age 4 onward. The pressure of being on stage gave me the experience of “flow state” – almost an out of body experience, watching myself perform as if from the outside. These experiences made me intensely curious about what was going on in my head not only at these times, but all the time.

I have always been a meditator and contemplator, having discovered the techniques myself, under pressure to perform at above what I thought was my ability. What do these words mean to me? Contemplation is immersive observation, and can be focused on any subject. Meditation is when the focus of contemplation is one’s own self. You observe your self without identifying with the feelings and thoughts that arise, observing them as if from afar.

All of these currents in my life coalesced into a set of theories that are the basis for my nonprofit work, which is the Institute.

THEI as I call it for short has the Mission of disseminating useful psychotechnology – tools for internal information processing optimization – similar in a way to the media optimization tools I’ve helped invent for the marketing industry. Tools for sublimating negative emotion into learning and into action items. Leaving only positive emotion.

The Vision is that one day, maybe pretty far in the future, the whole human race will be using such psychotechnology on a continuous basis. Because this will avert war at the individual level and cause a shift from competitiveness to cooperation and mutual nurturing. May it come as soon as possible.

The history of the human race is uplifted over and over again by the introduction of bits of such psychotechnology, which in the past has manifested as yoga, Zen, religion, mysticism, philosophy, science, psychology, morality/ethics, aesthetics, and many other good things.

THEI’s psychotechnology is in the realm of science and specifically relates to translating ancient and self-discovered practices into the language of information processing so that it may be considered objectively by all parts of the population including people normally biased against such possibilities.

My book MIND MAGIC is an experiment to see if this personal psychotechnology (it has been proven to work in my own life, or I wouldn’t pass it on) could actually be transferred to anyone else. About 2000 letters, cards, and emails indicate that the original  version worked at least for some people. Including a range of well-known folks from Norman Cousins to John Lennon, Ram Dass and Daniel Goleman. Also some bank officials, corporate executives, Army Generals, Colonels, Navy Captains, et al, people in jail, teenagers, seniors, without any known group excluded.

Why do we need psychotechnology? It helps reduce stress, improve health, increase emotional intelligence, maximize performance, make you able to enjoy moment to moment Life even during downturns. It is speed learning. The element that it controls is attention – where you place it, where you don’t, and how to withhold the autonomic response that gets you stuck in every feeling and thought you have before you can apply quality control.

Some free samples of THEI psychotechnology are being offered in these blog postings and on our site. We hope you get something valuable out of THEI psychotechnology and give us feedback to help us make it better.

All the best,

Bill