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The Conjuring Trick

There has been a conjuring trick performed in regard to our view of who we are. It is almost as if we have stepped into a photo booth, and instead of a realistic image of ourselves being produced we are given one with most of our features missing. The strange thing is we usually accept this distorted image of ourselves as real, though most of us feel odd about it, and some of us actually get around to searching for a different image.

What I mean is that we have the notion from the current popular mythology of reality that we are produced by the combination of our parent’s sperm and ovum. The genetic combination is, we believe, the print of who we are. In fact Josh McDermott of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a team of researchers said their findings, described in the journal Nature, show that culture sensibilities are not hardwired into the human auditory system by DNA, they may actually be learned by the culture we are exposed to and the people we live with.

I know this is a massive simplification, and I am not saying it as a criticism, simply a statement of popular belief. Nevertheless it is a belief that shapes the concepts people have of themselves. But the sperm and ovum, the genes, do not provide language, they do not give us culture, books, music or religion, despite any connections there might be. Children raised by animals do not develop any of these culturally given enhancements. They are not innate. See Programmed

The myths of our times also suggest that our personality is either God given; or it is formed out of the whims and neurosis of our parents and events during our infancy; or perhaps it is just made that way like a piece of equipment stamped out in a factory or by the position of the stars at our birth, and there’s not much one can do about it. This modern myth goes on to suggest that the only eternal life any of us can hope for is that arising through procreation. It is only our genes, we are assured, that will live on if we successfully procreate and our children survive and prosper. Because of this, it is further explained, our sexual urge drives us all forward into the convoluted avenues of sexual relationships. And these are factors influencing how the image we have of ourselves comes out strangely distorted.

I sometimes think there is an odd quirk in human nature that makes us want only one answer to any riddle in life. It is as if there can only ever be one right thing, one truth about anything, and everything else is thereby false. This is a, ‘if religion is correct, then science is wrong’ type of reasoning, as if they are both looking at the same piece of the cosmos from the same direction. It is like the Indian story of the blind men describing the elephant. One has his hands on a leg, another on the trunk, and so on. None of them are able to see the whole animal and therefore have a distorted impression of it.

Therefore one must beware of the urge to avoid insecurity by hanging on to the tail of the elephant and feeling one is safe because at least we know what the beast is. It is in fact dubious whether we can ever know ‘the beast’, though it might be possible to have an intuition or sense of it. The universe and the mystery of life and consciousness are so vast that none of us can possibly hold all the factors involved in mind at any one time. Therefore we cannot possibly arrive at any inclusive understanding of the big questions – why am I here? What is life about? How did life come about?

Coming back to the distorted image we can arrive at of ourselves, if we take time to consider our origins, it can bring us a bit more toward a feeling of wholeness and sense of reality. For instance it is obvious and wonderful how the bodies of our parents, through the gift of their own genetic material, have shaped our own body and its inclinations. This much is now demonstrable, but where I want to go from here is to look at common human experience in an uncommon way, through the eye of a dream.

The Voice of My Dead Forebears

 The dream is that of a man in his mid forties.

“I am walking along a cobbled road going slightly down–hill. I know as I dream that I am in Italy. I do not feel a stranger in this land, and am learning the language.” Ron.

Ron describes his exploration and insights into the dream by saying:

This was a very short dream and I didn’t think it had any real significance, but I was regularly exploring my dreams, and it interested me because I couldn’t understand what it referred to in showing me learning the language. I had never learned Italian and was not doing so.

When I relaxed and allowed the free flow of my associations and feelings, the first part of the dream was easy. My father was born in England of two Italian parents. So being in Italy, a country I had never visited myself, I could immediately feel and understand as referring to my family on my father’s side and the influences that have been left in the way I think and live.

But I felt myself falling deeper into the dream. It was something I had learned to do. I not only kept the question ticking over quietly of what does the dream indicate, but at the same time I relaxed control of my thoughts, my body and emotions. This is like being half asleep in a state where the body can twitch spontaneously, and perhaps I can even hear myself making slight vocal sounds, and yet I am wide–awake watching what arises. Because of this state a flow of memories began to arise about my father, and I realised something I had only been partially aware of before.

My father had taken over the family shop when his father had died. The shop was in London, just over a mile away from the old Covent Garden fruit and vegetable market. Most days my father walked, pushing a barrow, and in later years drove to the market to buy produce for the shop. I often went with him, helping carry and load, and perhaps push the barrow. In my youth I wasn’t aware of it, but now in my flowing memories I realised that my father was very distant or cautious in his dealings with the market salesmen and porters. A distinct and overall realisation arose out of the many memories and impressions; it was that my father was expressing a particular type of caution in all his dealings with other people. I saw this as keeping who he was secret – keeping his head down.

As I saw this in my father it hit me with great power that this attitude had passed to me, and although I expressed it in a different way, I had inherited it with equal strength. Why? And, how?

The perception that was taking place was not like my normal thinking. It comprehensively gathered memories and put them together in a way that made patterns and themes stand out. So as the process of insight was taking place I saw just how the urge to keep my head down, not stand out in the crowd, not get involved with people, had influenced my actions. For a start I had never voted in my life. This was because I could never identify with groups pushing for power. I had avoided everyday social activity, although relationships with individuals were not threatening.

Now I started seeing how this attitude had passed to me so strongly. My thought, as I witnessed the flow of memories, was that perhaps such information was genetic, because my father had never talked to me much at all. He had certainly never urged me to keep out of the limelight – to keep my head down, and until now I hadn’t been aware that he had been doing it himself, so it wasn’t simply conscious emulation. I can only say that I ‘saw’ how it had happened. What I mean is that through the still flowing memory and feelings it was as if I could actually look into the heart of things and see how they worked. The insight I achieved was that we as humans, like other mammals, in our earliest years particularly, still learn like most mammals do, and that is not verbal at all. A massive amount of information is absorbed from our parents without any effort or awareness. 

What Ron realised is that just as a fox cub ‘learns’ how to hunt from its parents, so we absorb the deeply etched survival strategies of our parents simply by being around them. If genes come into it anywhere, they perhaps create the reflex response that instinctively draws in the survival tactics that perhaps even our parents themselves have never really been aware they live by. In doing this the higher animals learn what cannot be passed on as instinct, what is not ‘hard wired’ into them. This holds in it a tremendous advantage because ‘hard wiring’ takes a long time. Through this faster method we learn what to be afraid of, what to eat, how to hunt, because the lessons learned by pain through many generations are exhibited in our parents behaviour in dealing with events. The experiments with apes in Japan, where Imo the macaque ape learned the ability to wash sweet potatoes to remove sand grains, show how this was passed on from this one female to the whole group, and then to subsequent young macaques, and illustrates how survival information is passed on non verbally for generations. An important aspect of this is that whatever of such information is held in the present generation, it is an accumulation of skills and responses learned over many generations, and is the fundamental survival strategies of that particular family or group line. (5)

Ron goes on to say:

 The degree of this was staggering to me. It led me to wonder just where my father had got the information from, and although this was obvious from my own perception of where I had received the messages from, the resulting experience profoundly moved and impressed me. It taught me things about myself I don’t think I could have learned in any other way. A floodgate of impressions rushed into my awareness at such a pace I can only record the main ones.

Suddenly my mind let the power of the messages my father had carried and passed to me speak, as if they were alive. I experienced what appeared to be a direct connection with my far ancestors. This may sound strange, but my father had, as it were, handed me a recording. He and I had been impressed with the cover and it had led us to live in a particular way. But now I had put the recording on the player and the ancient originators expressed their own message.

Obviously this is only an analogy to convey the experience, but in some way the message played out in me from centuries back. From it I learned that my forebears had lived in Italy during a period of great religious and political tension. The pressures to conform had been enormous. Not only were my ancestors told to believe in a particular sort of God, but also to accept leadership from people they had no respect for. If they did not live this belief and submit to it they were killed or rejected by the community they had been born into. In their own words I heard them saying to me something like ‘The worst was they did not kill us, but they cut our vine at the roots. They burnt our land and they killed our children. If you want your sons to live, teach them not to hold their head up, but to keep their eyes on the ground.’

And out of that trauma the message had been passed to me many generations later. It was survival. I was still living it, but perhaps it was time to reappraise.

Another way of expressing it:

I see that a child may be brought up in a family that incorporates many positive responses to the social and biological environment. These are learned by the child and it uses them in its own attempts to relate to ‘reality’. In doing so it goes up the ladders. Its parents had made it up the ladder, and the child learns the ‘right’ responses. But the opposite is true of other children. Their parents, with little expertise in social and biological responses, only pass on their own set of poor responses. These children end up with a ‘bum’ set of responses. Their experience of forever going down the ‘snakes’, bump, bump, bump, is itself demoralising.

I Am an Ancient Thing 

 Ron’s description helps us look at what is a common experience, and in a different way, an established observation in biology. It is common knowledge that animals learn through example. It is common knowledge that traits pass on through generations. What is added here is the powerful way such behaviour can pass on in humans. It shows how we communicate behaviour to our children without any conscious intention. Looking through the eye of dreams we see here a psychological or psychic (6) realm that extends beyond the mere transmission of behaviour. It includes or leads to meaning, to understanding ones roots. This may seem mysterious or unfeasible if one has not actually experienced the way the dream process puts apparently abstract experience into imagery leading to insight. (7) If one has witnessed this process at work, what Ron speaks of does not seem remarkable.

Looking through the eye of Ron’s dream there is a suggestion that aspects of Ron’s personality did not begin with his birth. Parts of his personality preceded his birth, being carried and passed on by his father. This module or facet of Ron’s character had been formed hundreds of years previously. It had been part of the lives of his forebears, and had been carried forward into his life. It did not pass on to Ron through any genetic material. It entered him through absorption of the behaviour of his parent. So it is saying that just as the genes we receive are ancient and passed to us, this survival information is also ancient and passed on. It influences who we are as profoundly as any genes.

Of course, Ron is only seeing his connection with his father. There would also be packages of behaviour and information handed to him by his mother. (8) So not only can one have a ‘gene pool’ from which our being is formed, there is also a ‘behavioural pool’ acting as a similar resource. This does not so much shape the body, but certainly gives form to the character and responses. In fact unlike the genetic passage where a set of genes in the mother is united with a set from the father, the behavioural pool may have several ‘sets’ or packages which can be triggered by different environmental circumstances. My experience suggests that the behavioural packages from the mother and father certainly do not splice as do the genes.

The behaviour Ron observed in himself, in his father and grandfather, although according to Ron’s insight it arose at a particular period in history, it obviously rested upon traits already existing in the family from an even more ancient past. So the trauma of persecution may have modified existing traits rather than set in place entirely new ones.

Because of pre–existing traits, another family might have responded quite differently to being subjugated. They might have pushed for dominance rather than anonymity. They may have aggressively opposed, sought opportunity to join the ranks of power, or actively supported as a subordinate.

This is supposition based on insufficient evidence; but if the basic idea of the passage of behaviour is correct, it shows human nature as having several dimensions to what forms who they know themselves to be. These are almost like different streams from the past meeting in the person, and in some way passing on into the future, perhaps separated again. For instance we have the stream arising from the body and its genetic material; we have the stream arising from cultural language with all its massive inbuilt data; we have the behavioural pool that we inherit, again with massive innate information. When we begin to look at what it is to be human from this perspective we see we are multi dimensional creatures, existing in the flow of huge streams of influence. And these streams themselves mingle in different ways creating a variety of experiences and further dimensions.

Coming back to Ron though, there is certainly a transitory and short lived aspect to him, in that his unique body and many of his personality traits will only exist during his physical life. But facets of Ron have existed for millions of years – in the genetic stream for instance. And even in his highly ephemeral personality itself, there are parts that have had a long life before Ron woke to his personal existence. For instance the language he was brought into existence by and the behavioural influences he absorbed.

This makes nonsense of the myth that we only have eternal life through procreation. It also suggests that if Ron identifies with the aspects of himself that are short lived, such as the transitory aspects of his body, his less permanent personality traits, his changing likes and dislikes, then he faces death. All that he thinks of as himself will perish. In this sense he cannot survive bodily death.

In fact it seems as if Western society faces the issue of death in a much more catastrophic way than other cultures. The reason for this is that many older cultures see the personality as transitory anyway, and identify more fully with the family ancestors and the longer lasting aspects of life.

It might be argued that as the behavioural traits passed on to Ron preceded him, he cannot really identify with them as himself, so cannot see them as an aspect of himself that has a long life. The problem here is that hardly anything in the personality is unique except perhaps the exact mixture of traits and responses, memories and dreams that make up that particular person. Everything is taken from somewhere else, or is a mixture or development of what already existed. We all identify with the contents of our mind, our language and our traits, yet these are not new with our own personal awakening as a person. So we cannot separate Ron from what he has inherited. It is still him. If it has a long life, then we must say aspects of Ron have a long life.

Once we grasp this idea of the passage of behavioural traits from generation to generation, I believe it can be observed fairly easily in everyday life. Much of folk beliefs suggest it without filling in the details. Such sayings as ‘like father like son’ – ‘like mother like daughter’ have the belief implicit in them. The generally held view that each nation has a different cultural identity also suggests it. In fact we often use the word culture to describe the behavioural traits peculiar to a particular group of people, in reference to their observable behaviour traits which are passed on from generation to generation throughout the group or nation. We are therefore talking about a behavioural pool with particular characteristics.

I have frequently observed family groups out shopping and seen the intense mimicry of a child for its father or mother, even to certain positions of the hands, or posture of the body. Such passage of very particular behavioural traits is especially noticeable in the learning of language. The unique sounds of certain words, even within one language such as English, are mimicked in an extraordinary way by children, creating a local dialect in which sounds are made that are often quite difficult for people outside of the area to make.

It is innate in us to soak in and mimic the behaviour of those close to us. That is obvious. All I am adding to that is the suggestion that deeply seated personality traits, and the shape of our psyche, are also radically influenced in the same way. Not only do we soak in actual behaviour, but we are capable of transforming the messages coded in behaviour into personal psychological experience such as described by Ron. 

Example: In the 70’s, 80’s and early 90’s in my practice with children and their families, both nuclear and extended, I was always amazed at how certain traits had been passed down across generations. I also see powerful connections between myself and my own children that can only be explained through the non-language transmission/absorption of both style and substance of personality variables.

I Speak Therefore I Am

 That our often closely guarded personality is made up of pieces of behaviour that existed long before we did, may be a strange idea to many people. The way we present our film stars and pop idols as special, or particularly talented; the way we often think of ourselves, is as hermetically sealed units that have been influenced from outside by environment and people, but on the whole we are unique. Sometimes people even adopt a superior attitude, as if to say ‘I am vastly different to the rest of humanity’. This makes it difficult for us to actually observe our origins.

If we think of an acorn, it is easy enough to believe that if we planted it, a tree would grow from it that would be very much the same as the trees from which its genetic material arose. In its particular growth however, factors of soil, weather and events would shape it to its own uniqueness. With human beings we think similarly, except we commonly leave out factors of great importance, factors which contribute to our personal existence in such a major way that to forget them is to be like the blind men with the elephant once more. For example a tree doesn’t learn speech, or the customs of its cultural group.

Particularly in past centuries, when there was a much closer relationship between humans and wild animals, it was noticed that if a baby was lost and raised by a creature of the wild, such as a she–wolf or bear, the child never became properly human. Being human is not innate. Something rubs off from functioning mature humans onto their babies to make them into human beings. The major differences are that the baby raised by an animal lacks self awareness; it cannot speak any language other than that of the animal it was raised by, and it lacks a sense of time; and in many cases there is a deep sense of connection with animals and the natural environment. Its reactions to surroundings are those of the animal it was raised by. Thus the behaviour traits it learned were not those of the human animal, but of the mammal that mothered it.

A headline in the Daily Star on April 17 1991, at the time the film Dances With Wolves was popular reads: “TRAGIC BOY’S DANCE IN WOLF’S LAIR.” It goes on to say:

A tragic orphan brought up by a pack of wild wolves will never be able to live like a normal man, say doctors. The boy who REALLY danced with the wolves was aged about seven when he was found 29 years ago in the wastes of Southern Russia by a team of oil explorers. He howled like a wolf and savagely bit one of the oil men who christened him Djuma – the Wolf Boy.

Professor Rufat Kazirbayev said doctors had battled to re–educate him to act like a normal human being – but failed. They are now giving up the fight.

“His mind is with the wolves. He will howl at the moon for the rest of his life,” he said.

Djuma, now about 36, is still in hospital. He still crawls on all fours, eats raw meat and bites when frightened. He can speak only disjointed phrases – “Mother dead. Father dead. Brother dead. Sister dead. Mother nice. Father bad.”


Dr. Anna Ticheenskaya said: “presumably his family were killed in a purge. He has shown us in sign language how his mother saved him by throwing herself over his body.”

Djuma has learned to brush his hair, clean his teeth and use the toilet “Like a trained animal.” But when taken to the zoo he howls as if he was urging the animals to take him to freedom. Sadly that will never happen. Djuma will probably spend the rest of his life in the clinic where, doctors say, he spends his days like a dog – half asleep and dreaming.

The autobiography of Helen Keller helps in understanding what may be the difference between an animal, or an animal man like Djuma and a human being with self awareness. Helen, made blind and deaf through illness prior to learning to speak, described how she lived in a dark unconscious world lacking any sense of self until the age of seven when she was taught the deaf and dumb language. At first her teacher’s fingers touching hers were simply a tactile but meaningless experience. Then, perhaps because she had learned one word prior to her illness, meaning flooded her darkness. She tells us that “Nothingness was blotted out.” Through language she became a person and developed a sense of self, whereas before there had been – nothing.

This ‘nothingness’ described by Helen Keller is difficult for most of us to imagine, having all our life been exposed to other human beings through behaviour and speech. Helen describes it as having no awareness of personal pain or events. She says that perhaps things happened to her, perhaps they were painful, but as she had no personal self to appreciate this, they were merely passing tactile sensations. She was not personally disturbed by them because she had no ‘person’ to be disturbed.

The learning of language was the pivot around which Helen’s self awareness evolved, with its attendant ability to think, to have a sense of ‘I’ or ‘me’ and all the personal relationships with others and the world arising from that. Without the learning of a complex language which holds in it the concept of ‘selfhood’ there is apparently no possibility of self awareness. Without the passage of the ‘behavioural pool’ from a human being to a human infant, there is no possibility of a self aware human maturing from the baby.

The information gathered from the many cases of ‘animal children’ suggests that not only do the behavioural traits of the fostering animal pass to the child, but also the state of soul can be thought of as a form of behavioural response which is also learned. In other words, self awareness, which is so taken for granted in our own life, is passed to us as a learned response by the humans who are our role models and mentors. Selfhood is not genetically given, it is a behavioural response. See Programmed

The story of Imo the macaque mentioned earlier helps us imagine a possible first scene for the emergence of self awareness in the human species.

There must have been a gradual development of the complexity of language bringing the pre–human to the point where self awareness was ready to emerge, but hadn’t quite been realised. Then, perhaps an event or a particular situation in the life of the pre–human triggered the new awareness. Suddenly the pre–human was self aware and stepped into human experience.

This must have been a momentous experience for the individual or individuals it occurred to. If compared with the descriptions of people in our present times who achieve a new state of awareness such as Maurice Bucke describes in his book Cosmic Consciousness, it was probably a ‘religious’ experience – something appearing to have been visited upon the individual from a power exterior to them. In such cases the experience, the new state of awareness, usually only lasts a short time, but may become more prolonged as the individual is further exposed to it. One might even speculate that just as animals will repeat an action that provides food or pleasure, so the experience of self awareness in early pre–humans may have led to ritual performance of actions, or the re–creation of circumstances, that were part of the first experience. These I imagine as the roots of religious ritual. I believe such achievement of a new type of awareness by certain individuals is also behind traditions such as yoga and Sufism. This can be observed in particular in Subud in which one individual experienced what he was certain was a new experience and passed it on to others through contact. (9) In his book The Origin of Consciousness in the Bicameral Mind, Julian Jaynes gives a detailed historical perspective of these beginnings in the not so distant past.

The following dream of Joan C. illustrates and further describes the collective life of early humans, and the experience of developing from it to self awareness. Joan’s work on the dream provides us with another example of the information possible to gain through the eye of dreams.

In my dream I was in the garden of a large house. To the right of the house, my right that is, I saw the garden had been changed. I realised that I knew the garden from childhood, and there used to be a large pool by the house in which we all bathed when young. The ground sloped up from the house and was rough, but part of it had been dug over. The care and skill with which this had been done deeply impressed me.

There were no direct associations I could make with the house or the pond, so I started allowing spontaneous material to enter into the dream, allowing my mind to roam freely and show me out of what images and feelings the dream had been fashioned.

I started with the pond, and had the most unexpected set of fantasies and feelings bubble up from within. The garden when we were children referred to a condition of mind, which I now experienced, in which a group shared a common awareness, and felt at one with their environment. In other words there was no separate identity. No one in the group knew themselves as an individual. I knew as I experienced this that it was about the early condition of human beings, and was represented in the Bible as the Garden of Eden. It was about the history of our development as human beings. It showed me that in the early stages of evolution all human beings lived in a state of awareness in which they had no sense of separation from nature itself. They had no sense of individual existence either, but lived in a sort of paradise where there was no idea of birth or death or right or wrong. They felt at one with each other in their small groups and with the forces of nature.

When I experienced this I understood at last what the story of Genesis meant. It was about stages of psychological development, not physical or mythical history. Humans had come out of the pool though, out of the collective awareness, and at that point I experienced a mass of impressions and images I still cannot completely understand. The images suggested that at first, maybe one or two humans climbed out of that pool, and they left a mark. They climbed out and put one stone on top of another. The images developed further into suggesting that many ancient monuments were an expression of this enormous sense of the newly found identity – of personal existence.

I understood this to mean that one or two humans had achieved personal identity. In that state they realised something about themselves – they could say ‘I am’. They could ask ‘Who am I?’ That had never been possible before.

I need to say what arose in me were not those words or memory or vision of definite events, but a sense of touching or experiencing an overall memory, a vast overall process. So I am trying to put into words what I sensed. It was such a wonderful thing, so full of experience, to see this that I want to try to describe it. At the same time, it was an immense process and difficult to capture.

What I felt was that the pool was a collective consciousness such as Jung speaks of, and that it still exists now in our unconscious. At the early stages of human development though, it was the everyday experience, but the individuals who attained self awareness began to build a new type of life. They left stone monuments, carvings, paintings in caves, stone circles, pyramids; each person, each group realising deep down that this new level of awareness was a thing to be given and built. The Sphinx is an image of this half way state of human and animal.

This is where words are difficult, but the dug ground in the dream depicts it. If the son of a farmer takes over the farm, his work and achievement are built upon what his father did with the land. The father’s work is built upon by the son, and a girls life is a continuation from what her mother passed to her, and is a continuation of what the mother and father did. Even if one was to take a piece of land which had never been farmed before, one would farm it with tools, experience and attitudes developed gradually through thousands of years of human effort. I saw that I, although I am not usually aware of it, am formed out of the ideas, words, attitudes, pleasure and pain left to me as a heritage by millions of people. If I had not been raised by modern humans I would, in fact, not have developed an identity. My identity is a gift to me from the great river of human beings who left a mark, one stone on top of another, a concept enshrined in art, a struggle or love immortalised in stone, a realisation and transcendence depicted in a religious ritual or in a new word.

The garden, the dug plot was myself, my personality. But my personality, the attitudes and reactions of its very foundations and structure, the words with which my mind realises its existence, are the living remains of countless other lives and their endeavour, their love, their ignoble failure, their genius and their prayers. I AM my ancestors. That I have also dug that plot by my work on my dreams, by trying to transform the unwieldy loam of myself into finer stuff, gives me a place in the river of life, in the eternal process of continuity.

Most important of all, perhaps, in such simple acts as writing out this dream, I leave a mark. I etch upon the world the sign of my own realisation, the changed lines of transformation. For self consciousness is a sort of collective consciousness which forever depends upon giving, and upon physical records of living beings to enshrine its existence. Without living beings who carry the words and responses gradually developed by myriad ancestors; without books, paintings, music, science and architecture, we have no existence as people. In one generation we could be swallowed up by that pool, that sea of self–forgetting symbolised by the waters that swallowed Noah’s contemporaries. Even now, without the love of giving, that sea can swallow us. That was my dream.

Joan’s description further illustrates how our mind, approached in the right way, can pour out realisations and insights that are deeply educational. It is a form of outpouring and mental function that few of us are ever taught to look to or use in our schooling. But it IS a common experience in the sense of it being described in all the cultures throughout history. It IS accessible.

Joan and Ron’s descriptions taken together also say that there is a function in the human mind that takes external information, such as language, behaviour and architecture, and treats it like a code. Perhaps if the example of the printed word is used this makes it easier to understand. A book might be a couple of hundred years old. A baby who grows and is taught the language of the book can eventually read it. As it is being read, what was a physical object unfolds in the child huge amounts of information and imagery. Perhaps it moves the child emotionally also. It may even explain aspects of their own existence they knew nothing about before.

That is not an exact analogy, but Ron and Joan suggest that the external objects of culture we see around us and take for granted, actually produce in us the release of a massive amount of information and deeply felt experience. Most often however, we fail to appreciate this as it is covered, or obscured by the dominant sensory impressions and taught responses, as already described.

When it is appreciated and released, the result is probably due to a complex interaction between genetically produced inclinations, the environment, and culturally provided education, plus an up–welling of unconscious material from the ocean of information we all live within. This fuller understanding of our cultural environment is probably necessary for optimum survival, but is not necessary to become a conscious individual stumbling along through life.

The View So Far

Looking through the eye of dreams and human experience, such as Ron and Joan’s dream–work and the account of Helen Keller, a situation is described stating that our personal identity rests on –

The passage of behavioural traits from adults to the new born.

The learning of language.

The interaction between people affirming personal identity.

A collective consciousness. This is created physically by the written and spoken word, but also by all other works of humanity such as music, art, architecture, and of course social structure. Its fundamental base is living human beings who have learned language and carry ancestral behavioural traits. In a sense, the enormity of who we are is external to us and our body and brain are decoding instruments.

The collective consciousness is a code that can come to life in the individual. Only the cultural environment plus the personal response to it make a whole.

A collective unconscious is the source of our personal existence.

This is a quote from Tony Crisp’s book The Eye of Dreams - you can buy it in USA  or UK. Some other chapters from the book - Big Bang and God are the Same - Eye of Dreams Chapter 8


-Bob Cole 2014-04-23 18:09:24

In the 70’s, 80’s and early 90’s in my practice with children and their families, both nuclear and extended, I was always amazed at how certain traits had been passed down across generations. I also see powerful connections between myself and my own children that can only be explained through the non-language transmission/absorption of both style and substance of personality variables.

In addition I wonder if the absorption of which you speak is also partially the effect of non-local consciousness i.e. material transferred mind to mind from some means other than unconscious awareness? I’m referring to the work of researchers such as Grinberg-Zylberbaum-Ramos-Delaflor, et al in the 80’s and 90’s who found significant correlations between EEG patterns of separated subjects suggesting a non-local source of connection between them.

I first ran across this phenomenon when reading Larry Dossey’s book Recovering the Soul and ran across it again when researching the concept of Remote Viewing.

When doing diagnostic work for a number of residential mental health organizations in the 70’s and 80’s I not only used children’s dreams & standardized projectives I also used to meditate after each session and write down images and feelings that came to me associated with the child I had been working with. These images turned out to be highly valid insights to the child’s psycho-emotional status.

At the time I assumed that during each session I was picking up information subconsciously and/or interpreting projective data and dream material unconsciously while interviewing. But this didn’t account for information “absorbed” that was not present in the data or when “received” without anything other than a standard 1st meeting interview with the child.

Though not convinced of the phenomena of non-local consciousness I do wonder if some mechanism other than the survival mechanism that you describe is at work.


    -Tony Crisp 2014-04-25 8:10:35

    Bob – Thanks for your thoughtful reply. I see you have been in the ‘area’ for ages.

    The piece you mention was actually my own deeply felt experience. I did not claim it because of other things said in the book that may have been hurtful to read. It was like a waking dream experience and was not thought out, although my explanation of it may have lost some of its enormous impact. I didn’t, or do not, see the reason for it being about survival, but the attitudes of my forebears was about surviving. It was a passage of deeply imprinted responses to children and onwards till I met it and hopefully gradually transformed it. My children got it full blast, but I see some changes in them now. As you say, there are other ways we connect with each other.


    PS – I know the business of intuitive insight into clients so well – though it is not working so well as I age. I had an amazing experience once that gave me a clue – At the time I was working in a hotel kitchen. It was midday and the restaurant attached to the hotel was about to open. All of the preparations had been made so there was a lull as we were waiting for the doors to open and customers to enter. I was standing behind a countertop cleaning it, and about five or six metres away the elderly owner of the hotel was standing talking to a waitress. I think they were both in their 60s or the waitress might have been in her late fifties.

    They were casually talking about the amount of custom there was for this time of year, and about the restaurant. At one point in my cleaning I glanced up to look at them. At that moment a radical shift took place in how I saw them. It seemed to me as if a new sensory organ had opened, one I had never experienced before. With this new sense each tiny movement the waitress and boss made exploded with information. Subtle changes in facial expression I had never perceived before were now visible and meaningful. It even seemed as if I could sense and see an enormous energy connection between the two at the solar plexus. And what I understood through this new sense was that the waitress and boss at some time had engaged in sex. I was in my 30’s at the time, and silly as it may seem, the idea that these two 60 year olds could have sex with each other had never entered my mind.


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