Frank Visser, CLIMBING THE STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN: Reflections on Ken Wilber's “The Religion of Tomorrow”
INTEGRAL WORLD: EXPLORING THEORIES OF EVERYTHING
An independent forum for a critical discussion of the integral philosophy of Ken Wilber
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Barclay Powers is an author and futurist filmmaker. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in East Asian Studies from Columbia University and has an extensive background as an independent scholar. He has studied Chinese, Tibetan and Indian meditation, yoga and martial arts traditions for more than 30 years. Powers is currently releasing multiple media projects worldwide in film and print, related to the evolution of consciousness based on his studies with numerous masters of ancient wisdom traditions. His most recent film, The Lost Secret of Immortality, based on his book, won best spiritual/religious/Christian film at the Great Lakes International Film Festival, 2012, the Silver Palm Award at the Mexico International Film Festival, 2012 and best spiritual documentary at the New York International Film Festival, 2011. See his website at www.lostsecretofimmortality.com for information on the book, graphic novel and film.
The Enlightened Source of the Posthuman
Transhumanism represents a modern version of the monomyth, the classical hero's journey, which results in the secret of immortality being successfully retrieved by the hero and given to humanity. The three most prominent 20th century scholars of myth, Campbell, Jung and Eliade, noted this archetypal narrative seemed to reside at the mythological roots of many civilizations. The concept that the pre-birth consciousness within all human beings represents an enlightened dormant structure of illuminated origin can be considered to be the essence of many of the primordial wisdom traditions. The idea that for thousands of years, the contemplative traditions of Asia have had an ongoing well-developed inner science of spiritual awakening that results in the complete evolution of consciousness has not generally been included in the transhumanist discussion of the future of humanity.
Transhumanism in its current form is essentially a 21st century science fiction version of the quest of the solar hero, which may include a machine intelligence explosion (the singularity) that results in a version of ourselves so technologically advanced it is barely conceivable. Ultimate human enhancement is often considered to be immortality, which is imagined in a variety of forms that are generally based on extreme mechanistic reductionism. The heart of transhumanism is the myth of materialism that represents the current scientific consensus worldview, which has not been successful in understanding the enlightened archaic origin of consciousness. Ultimate cognitive enhancement as the union of the three bodies, physical, subtle, and super subtle, the Trikaya, has not even been considered because science has lost its original goal of complete inner illumination, the Hermetic Androgyne or Philosopher's Stone. It is the rediscovery of this ultimate form of consciousness augmentation, which represents the real posthuman, a neuroscientific cross-cultural explanation of true enlightenment.
Central problems within transhumanism include a dramatic misunderstanding of time, consciousness, enlightenment and mythic symbolism. Unlike Darwin, the philosopher Jean Gebser recognized the point of origin as spiritual, and saw the progression of consciousness as archaic to magic, to mythic, to rational, to integral. The posthuman is post integral and post nondual, and requires a scientific explanation of the Trikaya, the union of the three bodies. Transhumanism has not comprehended the basic theory and practice of spiritual enlightenment, which is reintegration with the illuminated primordial state of origin. The idea that the posthuman is the dormant pre-birth origin of consciousness within the human body, called the Immortal Fetus or Embryo of Enlightenment in China for thousands of years, has been completely overlooked by Western researchers because of cultural bias. It was well known in the Hermetic tradition as Infans Solaris, the spiritual goal of Western alchemy, which had Middle Eastern roots.
Although optimism and the technological reduction of human and animal suffering are admirable approaches to the future of humanity, transhumanism and science are often unable to recognize the dramatic and inherent limitations of their own myths. One of the central myths of science is that enlightenment or complete consciousness evolution must not exist because Darwin has demonstrated that God does not exist. Similarly, the neuroscientific view that the mind is merely what the brain does is completely refuted by the union of the three bodies, the Trikaya, which could be described as the fully evolved consciousness of the posthuman. Any scientist that achieves the completion stage of Tantric yoga and meditation can easily see this for him or herself. The fact that the Philosopher's Stone/Infans Solaris was understood in Europe as the mechanism of enlightenment within the human body, and then lost, has greatly hindered both the scientific and cultural evolution of Western civilization. Contemplative neuroscience radically challenges materialist assumptions by showing that meditation and empathetic thought can actually change the structure of the brain permanently. Although skeptics deny even the possibility of non-materialist neuroscience there are a few researchers like Richard Davidson, Jeffrey Schwartz, and Mario Beauregard that completely disagree with the current mechanistic paradigm, which reduces all spiritual phenomenon to brain function. Western researchers have generally not considered a kundalini model of the evolution of consciousness because vitalism has been rejected by science even though it is the basis of the contemplative wisdom traditions. Since computers do not have the ability to achieve a kundalini activation this poses a substantial problem for the transhumanist model of future consciousness augmentation.
We have transmuted the elements and learned to fly. Immortality is next."
-Max More, On becoming posthuman.
The basic truth that classical Chinese medicine has recognized and cultivated an archaic enlightened structure of pre-birth consciousness, the Immortal Fetus/Embryo of Enlightenment, which is used to fully activate the pineal gland and restore illuminated consciousness, has been ignored by both science and transhumanism, which are lost in the myth of superior Western rationality. Losing and then continuing to overlook the most important structure of consciousness for the future of humanity is not rational by any means and represents the materialist superstition, which prevents the true Bodhisattva potential of humanity from being understood and experienced collectively. This means that the posthuman actually lies dormant within every human reproductive system right now, which is also consistent with the kundalini model of full brain activation. The complete version of consciousness evolution was well known in European alchemy as the Coniunctio, which was the union of pre-birth and post-birth subtle bodies or consciousness. As Jung noted, the Coniunctio was the true goal of spiritual alchemy worldwide. Unfortunately, he was only able to imagine the Coniunctio as the union of conscious and unconscious levels of the psyche. Chinese inner science has described spiritual enlightenment or immortality as the union of pre-birth and post-birth consciousness, or chi, for thousands of years. The complete process of Chinese inner alchemy is also believed to greatly extend the human lifespan. Transhumanism has completely overlooked the actual mechanism of human divinization and longevity, which are two of its potential goals.
It could easily be argued, from a cross-cultural perspective, that transhumanism has completely misunderstood the complete evolution of consciousness and the ultimate potential of the human body and brain. One of the problems with Campbell, Jung and Eliade's studies of myths, dreams and symbols was the inability of Western scholarship to distinguish between cultures, which had living traditions of complete consciousness liberation, and those that lacked a genuine inner science of enlightenment. Although they recognized that Western civilization had lost its own meaning and purpose in the 20th century, they could not understand that inner alchemy represented a genuine posthuman science concealed within many world civilizations including our own. Transhumanism has similarly failed to recognize the basic human condition of severe amnesia, which can be transformed into posthuman enlightenment when the pre-birth and post-birth subtle structures of consciousness are successfully united by Tantric yoga, meditation and inner alchemical qi gong.
Early Western science calls this inner subtle body union the Coniunctio, which still exists in Tibetan Mahamudra and Dzogchen traditions where it is called the union of mother and son lights. Taoist inner alchemy and qi gong systems call it the marriage of tiger and dragon. A South Korean flag symbolically represents this inner alchemical transformation, which restores the original enlightened consciousness and memory. The union of yin and yang, heaven and earth, and fire and water symbolically represent the integration of pre-birth and post-birth consciousness, which results in posthuman enlightenment, the true nature of the individual. Not noticing that a scientific explanation of the Immortal Fetus or Embryo of Enlightenment of Chinese classical medicine, represents the true singularity, the rediscovery of Infans Solaris/Philosopher's Stone, is ultimate proof of flawed model dependent realism in both science and transhumanism.
to preserve him cryogenically immediately following his death,
in expectation of technologically-enabled revival in the future.
The ethnocentric bias of reductionist science and confused skepticism ignores the kundalini/Embryo of Enlightenment, and makes a bizarre assumption that the Asian contemplative traditions lack a clear scientific explanation of spiritual enlightenment like most modern Western religions. Transhumanism has seemingly not noticed that Tantric Buddhahood, which has been achieved by many Mahasiddhas in Central Asia, is a living tradition of posthumanism. Theoretically, the real singularity may be technology and contemplative neuroscience facilitating a scientific explanation of the Trikaya, the union of physical, subtle and super subtle bodies. This potentially represents the Western rediscovery that the post-Coniunctio experience of inner illumination fully synchronizes the individual with the whole, the Unus Mundus. This was called 'squaring the circle' in Western alchemy, or 'returning the Dharmakaya to void' in Tantric Buddhism. Taoism describes this process as 'returning to the Source, the Universal Tao'. To be successful in guiding humanity to a posthuman Bodhisattva future, it will be necessary for transhumanism to integrate Eastern and Western models of complete consciousness evolution. Although the goal of transhumanism is some form of technological divinization, the mechanism of enlightenment, permanent super consciousness, is within the human reproductive system and the brain, based on an enlightened origin of consciousness within the individual and the species.
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© Natasha Vita-More (Image borrowed from here.)
The current mechanistic description of the posthuman is dramatically limited by many of the reductionist views of scientific materialism, which insists that consciousness is merely a byproduct of the brain. The idea that enlightenment has been proven not to exist like God, because of Darwin, appears to be the result of the highly distorted Judeo-Christian scientific worldview of reality. The technological singularity as a popular model of the posthuman actually represents an example of cross-cultural ignorance, and the unfortunate rejection of Hermetic and Asian models of complete consciousness evolution. Singularitans demonstrate the extreme alienation and confused scientific models of consciousness maintained by postmodern Western civilization. Transhumanism as a whole has not understood that the posthuman represents reintegration with the primordial enlightened state of the origin of consciousness.
The fact that five thousands years of Chinese and Indian contemplative inner science has been ignored or misunderstood by transhumanist philosophy is clear proof of an incomplete model of the evolution of consciousness. A more accurate description of the posthuman would have to incorporate vitalist, organicist, and mechanistic models of human consciousness evolution to successfully describe an enlightened future for humanity. Although contemplative neuroscience is largely mechanistic, Asian models of enlightenment are vitalist, and enlightenment itself is based on chi/prana cultivation, which has been ignored by most Western researchers because it does not fit the reductionist model maintained by most scientists. Although a Bodhisattva inner science is likely to be developed eventually, based on non-materialist contemplative neuroscience, much of mainstream medicine currently insists there is no non-materialist neuroscience. This model dependent confusion plays a major role in the modern scientific myth that the Philosopher's Stone/Infans Solaris never actually existed because Western researchers have not understood it as the Tantric Buddhist Dharmakaya, or Taoist Immortal Fetus/Embryo of Enlightenment.
If we consider the real goal of transhumanism to be the rediscovery of the Philosopher's Stone, and the starting point of the human body to be the dormant Tathagatagharba or Embryo of Enlightenment, the machine description of the posthuman changes completely. An accurate portrayal of the posthuman would be based on integrating Eastern and Western models of consciousness evolution, using technology to achieve the Trikaya – complete enlightenment, which is the union of physical, subtle and super subtle bodies. The super subtle body is the Embryo of Enlightenment, which dissolves into the subtle body when united by the Coniunctio at the completion stage of inner alchemy or Tantric yoga and meditation.
The Taoist Immortal, Tantric Mahasiddha or Hermetic Magus are not mythical imaginary characters as Western researchers assume. Although their narratives are often shrouded by mythic exaggerations and distortions, they represent individuals that have escaped the all-pervasive amnesia of the human condition by achieving the enlightenment of the Coniunctio, which results in successful reintegration with the primordial state of gnosis. The real goal of transhumanism is this reintegration with the primordial state of gnosis. The Western materialist assumption of religious superstition not only prevents the progression of science and medicine, but also causes the real posthuman to be misunderstood as a future mechanical event instead of the rediscovery of the enlightened origin of consciousness in the 21st century. To be blunt, Asian contemplative inner science is currently the most accurate description of the posthuman when the omnipresent cultural baggage and religious superstition is discarded. As the popularity of yoga and the Google Look Within Yourself program and book demonstrates, the Bodhisattva archetype is in the process of convergence with the progression of information technology as well as neuroscience. Imagine what happens when materialist scientific reductionism discovers that Infans Solaris, the dormant pre-birth consciousness/Embryo of Enlightenment can eliminate the plague of amnesia, which currently characterizes humanity as a whole and is still unrecognized by neuroscience. The true nondual goal of being human is erasing the distinction between enlightenment and non-enlightenment, which is the basis of the illusory amnesia that dominates mankind.
to computers by 2045 and that bodies will be replaced by machines before the end of the century,
currently receiving a new wave of media attention, overlooks the fact that such technology will likely
be monopolized by the elite as a way of enslaving the rest of humanity on an industrial scale.
– Paul Joseph Watson, Infowars.com, June 20, 2013
The rediscovery of the Philosopher's Stone/Infans Solaris is the essence of genuine transhumanism, which is currently impeded by a Western reductionist machine model. Although longevity is one of the major goals of transhumanism, the Chinese model of enlightenment based on vitalism has been completely ignored. China has a long history of double and triple life spanned enlightened Taoists, and the theory is well explained by the classical medical qi gong definition of spiritual awakening. It is important to notice the pervasive mythic belief that Asian medical science has been disproven by the superior rational Western intellect. There are regular accounts in Chinese newspapers of elderly practitioners of meditation and qi gong literally rejuvenating to a considerably younger state with hair turning black and teeth growing back. Where is the Western research of this phenomenon, which although rare, has been repeatedly proven by thousands of years of experimentation? Many Western scientists are so ethnocentrically biased and model dependent they assume that acupuncture is merely the placebo effect because it is based on regulating the flow of chi/prana within the body. How has the singularity movement completely failed to notice or explore the Chinese theory of enlightenment or immortality when longevity is one of the primary goals of transhumanism?
The neuro-alchemical hypothesis represents the convergence of consciousness studies, neuroscience and the contemplative traditions, and technological progression. The corporate globalization of human culture has changed the mythic narratives, which formed the worldviews of many different civilizations. The neuro-alchemical hypothesis represents a collective understanding that the 21st century human being has emerged in a period in which the inner alchemical contemplative traditions, which have always claimed an enlightened origin of consciousness within the individual, are in the process of being verified by modern brain research on meditation.
Cambridge UK and California · sens.org
As the Western worldview integrates Asian models of complete consciousness evolution, the necessity of creating a clear narrative of human potential based on a 21st century model, which integrates Eastern and Western definitions of enlightenment, becomes vital for the successful future of humanity. A scientific explanation of the mechanism of inner illumination within the human body represents a new worldview in which the origin of consciousness itself symbolizes the fully evolved human of the future, when the psychological split from Nature and the ensuing amnesia is understood, and human consciousness is reintegrated with the primordial state of enlightenment. The neuro-alchemical hypothesis represents the true posthuman that has achieved the Coniunctio, which fully synchronizes the individual with the whole.