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The Technology of Consciousness

Our mind/heart/body is a complex machine, or interacting combination of machines, designed to work with and produce certain matters (energies). While we ordinarily have no knowledge of the possibilities of this vast mechanism, there is a theory that, given proper knowledge, we can learn and acquire practices that attain those possibilities, practices that improve and ultimately perfect the operation of the machinery. The result of this perfection is a constant condition of the highest energies and finest operation, enabling a connection between us and divinity.

But what does the divine have to do with technology? And surely the divine, if it wished, could simply make us—create us as, or transform us to—the highest energies and finest operation ...

The theory is that the purpose of our existence as we are is to require us to make this transformation, not alone but with help, but we must make the effort, and we must learn how. Help is given as direction, indications, a confusion of hints (some good some bad, but most a mixture of both), and the very weeding-out of the bad and cultivating of the good is a part of our learning, part of our effort.

We are, then, by design imperfect but capable of perfecting ourselves, to gain something for ourselves that we most deeply seek. And, perhaps, by so doing, contribute to something much bigger than ourselves. By design.

The basic technology has three steps: destruction, refinement, and regeneration. In terms of the food diagram, destruction is the breakdown of incoming material (food, air, and impressions), refinement is the continual separation of finer from coarser matters, and regeneration is the use of certain of these finer matters by higher consciousness.

The fundamental diagram of the fourth way, the enneagram, has been anthropomorphically represented as the "food diagram":

(image of food diagram)

This diagram shows how we transform coarser, heavier matters to finer matters, higher energies. The food we eat, for example, ultimately becomes the extremely fine, powerful energy of sex. In the technical terminology of the diagram, the matter or "hydrogen" 768, "do" 768, is eventually transformed into hydrogen 12, "si" 12.

To a certain extent, the transformation of our energies occurs mechanically, that is, we do not consciously participate in the process. Sex energy is produced without our control. But there are other parts of this diagram, other processes in us, which we can consciously control. Indeed, if we do not attend to them, they will not occur.

The points at which we can control processes are known as "intervals". In the musical terms which are used in the food diagram, there is an interval (a missing halftone) between mi and fa, and between si and do. Some intervals are bridged mechanically, and some may be greatly facilitated by conscious action.

For example, if we follow the line of the food that we eat, we see it starting at the mouth where it is called do 768, descending to the stomach where the now masticated and more refined material is called re 384, and via the venous bloodstream into the lungs where the material is called mi 192. Here an interval occurs, the mi-fa interval. Nature ingeniously provides the necessary "shock" to bridge the interval by introducing a new octave, breathing, at this point. The energy do 192, the influx of air we breathe, combines with the product of digestion mi 192, in the lungs, enabling the digestion process to proceed to fa 96 and so on. The interval has been bridged mechanically, automatically, by our breathing.

If, instead of the digestion of food, we now follow the octave that begins with our breath (inhalation), we again come to an interval at mi, in this case mi 48. And here, we come to a problem. Whether nature intended this interval to be bridged or not is largely a moot point—the necessary shocks to bridge this gap are lacking in us. They are lacking because we do not perceive the world we live in with sufficient intensity, but instead in a muffled sort of way. We can, however, consciously increase the intensity of our perceptions, and so bridge this interval, allowing mi 48 to be further refined, even up to extraordinarily fine energies.

The technique we use to intensify our perceptions is self-remembering. Self-remembering, properly done, vivifies our incoming impressions (in the diagram represented by the line entering at the eye as do 48) by splitting them, and so, in effect, doubling them. At this point, we leave physiology and begin to talk in terms of psychology. The matters of hydrogen 48, 12, and 6, are psychic energies, and it is these we cultivate. By applying the necessary "shock" to bridge the interval, we not only allow the octave of breath to continue further than usual, we create sufficient force for the octave of impressions to proceed to its next interval at mi 12. The single effort of self-remembering causes refinement of energies to proceed on two octaves that are otherwise stuck.

Work of the eyes is done,
now for some heart-work
Rainer Maria Rilke

In addition to what we've spoken of thus far, and in addition to the diagram shown above, is the possibility of still another "conscious shock". This effort is concerned with the interval at mi 12 which is in the impressions octave—the line shown in the diagram starting at the eye. The effort required to enable mi 12 to proceed on to fa 6 requires a certain facility with emotions, and the result ensures sufficient energies to enable our highest possible functioning.

Energy is the mechanical side of consciousness.
P. D. Ouspensky

All the hydrogens 12 and 6 in the world will not help us if we are unable to use them intelligently. In fact, such energies might well be dangerous. Such matter is highly volatile and explosive, forming its own channels of release if unused, or deepening existing channels in misuse. Other disciplines, albeit unwittingly, may generate and accumulate certain of these higher hydrogens, yet any practical results tend to be purely accidental or, at any rate, applied without understanding. There are "ways", for example, in which one develops finer matters and then uses them to visualize extraordinarily refined images, images that, because of the use of finer matters, seem much more real than our ordinary life. In such a manner people become enamoured of illusion, and find themselves at a dead-end without ever knowing it.

Or, as another example, people may work on the "wrong" hydrogen, for example si 12 instead of mi 12. We see this in various attempts to control and "sublimate" sex energy by means of less effective energies: the classic example may be of the monk banging his head against the cell wall in a desperate attempt to overcome the power of sex.

Work on the fourth way must, above all, be conscious. We must know what we are doing and why. There is no authority to tell us—a thousand clues but no authority—so we must verify each step along the way, learn each little technique or tool as we encounter it, and so build a practical tool-chest and personal map, tried and true and of our own devising. But we need help.

There is another way of viewing the technology of consciousness which may also seem theoretical at first, but is at least equally valuable. This is based on a somewhat different map of the human machine. In this case, we speak of the three parts (seen in the food diagram above), further divided into three parts. But now we speak of these parts purely in terms of the psychological functions. In speaking this way, the top part we call the intellectual center—it is what is commonly referred to as mind or thought. The middle part is the emotional center—our "feelings", a poor word to describe something that is distinct from sensation. The lower third is the center of our physical functioning, including sensation, movement, and sex. It is the work of the fourth way to harmonize these different parts.

"There are, as we have said many times now, three distinct types of soul that reside within us, each with its own motions. So now too, we must say in the same vein, as briefly as we can, that any type that is idle and keeps its motions inactive cannot but become very weak, while one that keeps exercising becomes very strong. And so we must keep watch to make sure that their motions remain proportionate to each other."
Plato, Timaeus

The key idea I want to discuss here is the profound insight that observation of our attention—which requires an existing and accurate knowledge of true psychology as may be acquired after years of fourth way study—determines without doubt precisely which of the three centers, and even which part of the center, under observation, is active at any given time.

The importance of this lies in the realization that when our attention comes from certain parts, as opposed to others, our possibilities of exercising consciousness, and harmonizing the work of centers, become that much greater.

Today, as always, there are various "spiritual" movements, varying greatly in intent and effectiveness. Many such teachings concentrate on the physical functions, primarily the moving center, focusing attention on controlled movements for extended periods of times resulting in an increase in finer hydrogens, permitting more refined perceptions and more powerful experiences.

It is somehow guessed that the movements themselves are sacred, but the knowledge of centers and the workings of attention which make such results possible is completely unknown. Almost any extended control of attention produces results, partly simply from the fact that it restricts customary wrong work. If, in addition, the activity requiring attention serves, to some extent, to bridge an interval in an internal octave, the results will be more impressive, though again, more exact knowledge of the reason for the effect is lacking.

But techniques that focus on the emotional center are also relatively common. Attending church services, for example, may require a person to focus on more proper emotional behavior and restrict the expression of negative emotions for an hour or more, producing some not unpleasant and no doubt useful results. Or an Eastern meditation practice may focus attention on the intellectual function, keeping it from wasting energy in daydreams, useless deviations, and so on, again limiting the loss of finer energy. But it is generally assumed that the object of attention, a mantra for example, is producing the result. All of this lacks gnosis.

To put it simply and bluntly, we have an intellectual, an emotional, and a physical "part", all of which have real physical, clearly differentiated, and experimentally verifiable existences. To begin to qualify this, we must understand that each of these parts also has an intellectual, an emotional, and a physical part. And it is at this level, this secondary level so to speak, that the nature of attention differs, thus allowing us to determine which part we are using, which part we are "in", based on the nature of our attention.

For example, we may attend to our thought, we may attend to our feelings, we may attend to our movements, but it is with the intellectual part of these functions that we so attend (1). The significance of this is that the intellectual parts of the larger components work well together, whereas the emotional and physical parts of the larger components work apart or, when trying to work together, make a mess of things. Our road to unity lies in the harmonious functions of our parts, and that harmony requires our attention.

Now the way this relates to the food diagram discussed above is that by the use of these intellectual parts we can "bridge intervals", we can supply the necessary "shocks" to further energy production at those points where the shock is not automatically provided by nature. Self-remembering is controlled attention, and controlled attention of a very special sort. Our attention is divided, and so doubled, and we need not stop at that. And, curiously, it is with attention to this attention that we can learn proper use of these finer energies. Never was a finer machine even imagined.

(image of 3-story factory further divided into thirds)

Note 1-
It may be useful to think of the intellectual parts of centers as the "attentive" part, because intellectual here means something quite different from what we normally think of as intellect. For example, the intellectual part of the moving center may be seen in a Tai Chi exercise, the intellectual part of the emotional center in a wordless appreciation of beauty.

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