Models of Consciousness- Part II – “Jesus said: If they say to you, Where have you come from? Tell them, We have come from the light, from where light came into being itself. It came and showed itself in their image. If they say to you, Is it you? Answer, We are his sons, the chosen ones of the living father. If they ask you, What is the sign of your father in you? Answer, It is movement, and repose.” The Gospel of Thomas, vs. 50
The discovery of second century documents (1897 Oxyrhynchus Papyri), and the virtually complete Coptic manuscript of these same sayings at Nag Hammadi (1945), gives us the fragmentary text of a gospel attributed to Thomas.
It is one of many interesting texts dating from the beginnings of organized Christianity, not easily accessible to the lay reader. And while the subject of Christian Apologetics is vast, suffice it to say the modern standard for what’s included as gospel, and what’s not, largely revolves around “who saw it firsthand.”
That being the case, then the texts of the Jews (Ebionites) who actually followed Jesus must surely rank right at the top. Unfortunately, their direct testimony, already tenuous after the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, was systematically obliterated in the long power struggle that followed to define what version of reality Jesus stood for among the gentiles, and not coincidentally, who owns it.
My purpose here is not to revisit history’s violently contested brier patch of religious certitude, but to bravely flail in the direction of a non-dual understanding of reality. This perspective is prominent in the Gospel of Thomas, which many scholars consider to be the most significant independent – and possibly the oldest source – for Jesus’ teachings outside of the New Testament canon.
For those wanting to follow the historic thread of this contest, and how we got today’s dualistic-dominant interpretations of scripture, I’d begin with the very accessible The Lost Religion of Jesus: Simple Living and Nonviolence in Early Christianity by Keith Akers. It’s pretty sound stuff. The foreword was written by the late Walter Wink, an influential American Biblical scholar, theologian and activist,
In Thomas, the mystical utterances attributed to Jesus speak powerfully to an internal kind of salvation – the Kingdom of heaven is already here if you are able to perceive it and partake of it. This leaves enquiring minds to contemplate the vast gulf between the immediacy of Jesus’ “at hand” demonstration of salvation, and today’s understanding that belief will take you somewhere else (not here), which happens sometime later (not now), and will be caused by someone else (not you).
The tension between “Onward Christian Soldiers” and “that peace beyond understanding” is irreducible. After 2,000 years of trying to drink from two cups, you’d think we’d have more dexterity to show for it by now. As it stands, critics waste no time pointing out that more people kill each other in the name of organized religion than any other cause. If so, a replicable biological approach to gaining the bliss of a non-dual planetary civilization seems highly desirable.
Hints of a telepathic reality have long flickered at the margins of research into rhythms of group breathing, the induction of a synchronized group heartbeat, and forms of mutual hypnotic trance. The internalized control of these various circulatory energies in the human body could provide a technology of shared consciousness. It’s possible some groups are already investigating this possibility.
Some key elements are already widely known, such as the “high” that comes from singing in a gospel choir, or from tribal dances, or by drumming. The same result is achieved in modern techno music which employs brainwave-driving features. To a larger point, the feeling of group wholeness – or holiness – is the same for all participants, even in triumphalist religions historically at each other’s throats. Cultural resonance and synchronicity – not belief – seems to be determinative.
So, how to build a direct biological connection to non-dual states? Consider how the heart of a mother beats in sync with her feeding infant, and that certain conditions can produce the same results in adult individuals. Haven’t we heard the saying, “Two hearts beating as one?” Bio-resonance is not just an old wives’ tale.
Computational and theoretical physicist Jan Kantelhardt and his colleagues at Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg in Halle Germany have measured the synchronization of heartbeat and breathing in a test group of 112 healthy adults. A Feb. 1, 2007 Live Science article reports that Kantelhardt and others found that breathing and heartbeats which normally occur at different paces, synchronized more than twice as much during light and deep sleep than when people were awake. On the other hand, during REM sleep when our most vividly recalled dreams occur along with a high level of brain activity, synchronization of these bodily functions was suppressed by a factor of three. While these findings are believed important for the treatment of a variety of ailments, including high blood pressure, the larger implications go missing. I’m proposing that we can go beyond individuals and can synchronize heart beats and breaths in an entire group. I’ve seen it done. Imagine the results if an entire group had been practicing some method of group resonance. What further areas for research might that suggest?
It turns out the brain waves that accompany light and deep sleep states can already be reproduced by various means. We already have exercises designed to facilitate synchronized heartbeats and breathing. For a broader update on neurological research check out Joseph Chilton Pearce’s revolutionary theories in The Heart-Mind Matrix: How the Heart Can Teach the Mind New Ways to Think.
The synchronization of the heartbeat provides a way to balance the brain’s calculating intellect. We need this fix because a system of emotional-neural coherence, innate to tribal culture, was lost generations ago. This severance from our heart intelligence left us with our selfish survival-oriented reptilian brains in charge. This has created, and reinforces what Pearce calls “strange loops” between potential and actual reality.
Our world’s endless cycles of self-inflicted disasters and societal crises stems directly from this. But there is some good news as well.
The mind can gain control of its parasympathetic (involuntary) nerve system through certain breath-control exercises (called pranayama in Sanskrit). The breath is the only body function where both conscious and autonomic controls overlap and gaining control over this passive half of the nervous system is one of the eight limbs of raja yoga.
There also might be ways to affect a more direct access to the “silent” or “unused” speech and meaning analogues in the right brain’s temporal lobe, and the orientation area – structures which may be crucial to telepathic resonance. But this exploration will have to wait for a later episode.
Mainstream Western science has long scoffed at these possibilities. Or used to, that is, before the discovery of autogenic biofeedback potential (Menninger Clinic), and testing of various yogis and swamis that started visiting from India in the psychedelic 1960’s and ‘70’s. They demonstrated a conscious control of heartbeat, body temperature, delta (sleep), and theta waves in top medical research facilities – and it changed a lot of minds.
But, the acquisition of a type of inner knowledge that is aware of its own processes is one thing. The larger objective, a culture which grounds a telepathic field consciousness in its social functions, must arrive through a transparent and non-monetized process where the student-teacher roles rotate throughout the practicum.
Anyhow, our heart’s emotions are in a constant two-way dialogue with the brain. In this constant two-way dialogue, our emotions charge the signals the brain sends to the heart, which responds in complex ways. These signals create the actual feelings we experience in the heart area and the body. Research suggests an important relationship among cognitive performance, heart- rate variability, and prefrontal neural function – all of which has important implications for our physical, mental and societal health.
Close to the causal level where synchronicity plays, muscle cells on the left and right pumping chambers of the heart coordinate their timing following the same universal fractal equations that determine the frequency spectrum of everything from earthquakes to economic phenomena. Moreover, the heart operates an intrinsic nervous system with several types of neurons, nerve transmitters, proteins and support cells like those found in the brain proper.
The challenge for science is not to endlessly research “How did nature manage to evolve such complicated architecture?” Instead, why not ask. “Are we ready to study the heart’s compassionate intelligence to finally open the door to transpersonal awareness?” To break our world’s endless cycles of self-inflicted disasters and transcend a life focused solely on survival, we must end our reactive patterns and reconnect with the compassionate intelligence of the heart.