Eight-circuit model of consciousness

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The eight-circuit model of consciousness is a theory proposed by Timothy Leary and expanded on by Robert Anton Wilson and Antero Alli. The model describes eight circuits of information (eight "brains") that operate within the human nervous system. Each circuit is concerned with a different sphere of activity.

The lower four, the larval circuits, deal with normal psychology, while the upper four, the stellar circuits, deal with psychic, mystical, enlightened and psychedelic states of mind. These higher circuits are thought to have only recently evolved, with just a fraction of human beings using them. The higher the circuit, the fewer people have activated it. Leary describes the four larval circuits as necessary for surviving and functioning in a terrestrial human society. Leary proposed that the higher four exist primarily for future use by humans who might someday migrate to outer space and live extraterrestrially.

Leary, Alli and Wilson have written about the model in depth and how each circuit operates, both in the lives of individual people and in societies.

The term "circuits" came from the first wave of cybernetics research and development in the United States in the 1970s. (Others[weasel words] have proposed that the term "systems" should be substituted for "circuits" to reflect both a systems theory approach and also the changing anatomy of an entity as it goes through a neurological change).

Each successive circuit represents a more complex phase of evolution. In line with recapitulation theory, the model applies equally to the evolution of an individual organism and the evolution of the whole tree of life. Each neurological circuit provides a new cognitive function (whether or not the organism is aware of the circumstances that led to its activation).

The eight circuits[edit]

1. The oral biosurvival circuit[edit]

This circuit is concerned with nourishment, physical safety, comfort and survival, suckling, cuddling etc.

This circuit is activated in adults by opioids such as morphine and heroin. This circuit begins with 1 spatial dimension, forward/back.

This circuit is imprinted early in infancy. The imprint will normally last for life, unless it is re-imprinted by a powerful experience. Depending on the nature of the imprint, the organism will tend towards one of two basic attitudes:

  • A positive imprint sets up a basic attitude of trust. The organism generally considers the environment benign and accepts and approaches. This is equivalent to a default life position of 'you're ok' in the 'life positions' model of Transactional analysis.
  • A negative imprint sets up a basic attitude of suspicion. The organism generally regards the environment as hostile and flees and avoids. This is equivalent to a default life position of 'you're not ok' in the 'life positions' model of Transactional analysis.

This circuit is said to have appeared in the earliest evolution of the invertebrate brain and corresponds to the reptilian brain of triune brain theory. This circuit operates in essentially the same way across mammals, reptiles, fish, primates and humans.

Robert Anton Wilson equated this circuit with the oral stage in the Freudian theory of psychosexual development.

2. The emotional–territorial circuit[edit]

The emotional-territorial circuit is imprinted in the toddler stage. It is concerned with domination and submission, territoriality etc.

The imprint on this circuit will trigger one of two states:

This circuit is activated by depressant drugs such as alcohol, barbiturates, and benzodiazepines. This circuit appeared first in territorial vertebrate animals and is preserved across all mammals. It corresponds to the mammalian brain of triune brain theory. Robert Anton Wilson equated this circuit with the anal stage in the Freudian theory of psycho-sexual development. This circuit introduces a 2nd spatial dimension; up/down.

The first and second circuits both imprint in a binary fashion: trust/suspicion and dominance/submission.[2] Thus there are four possible ways of imprinting the first two circuits:

  • Trusting 1st circuit and submissive 2nd circuit. I'm not OK; you're OK. Friendly weakness. Water in the four elements model. Phlegmatic humor.
  • Suspicious 1st circuit and dominant 2nd circuit. I'm OK; you're not OK. Unfriendly strength. Air in the four elements model. Bilious humor.
  • Suspicious 1st circuit and submissive 2nd circuit. I'm not OK; you're not OK. Unfriendly weakness. Earth in the four elements model. Choleric humor.

3. The symbolic or neurosemantic–dexterity circuit[edit]

This circuit is imprinted by human symbol systems. It is concerned with language, handling the environment, invention, calculation, prediction, building a mental "map" of the universe, physical dexterity, etc.

This circuit is activated by stimulant drugs such as amphetamines, cathinones, cocaine, and caffeine. This circuit supposedly appeared first when hominids started differentiating from the rest of the primates.

Robert Anton Wilson, being heavily influenced by General Semantics, writes of this circuit as the 'time-binding circuit'. This means that this circuit's contents – including human know-how, technology, science etc. - are preserved memetically and passed on from generation to generation, constantly mutating and increasing in sophistication.

4. The domestic or socio-sexual circuit[edit]

This fourth circuit is imprinted by the first orgasm-mating experiences and tribal "morals". It is concerned with sexual pleasure (instead of sexual reproduction), local definitions of "moral" and "immoral", reproduction, rearing of the young, etc. The fourth circuit concerns itself with cultural values and operating within social networks. This circuit is said to have first appeared with the development of tribes. Leary never associated a drug with it, but some have pointed out that entactogens such as MDMA seem to meet some of the requirements needed to activate this circuit.

5. The neurosomatic circuit[edit]

This is concerned with neurological-somatic feedbacks, feeling high and blissful, somatic reprogramming, etc. It may be called the rapture circuit.[5]

When this circuit is activated, a non-conceptual feeling of well-being arises. This has a beneficial effect on the health of the physical body.[6]

The fifth circuit is consciousness of the body. There is a marked shift from linear visual space to an all-encompassing aesthetic sensory space. Perceptions are judged not so much for their meaning and utility, but for their aesthetic qualities.[7] Experience of this circuit often accompanies an hedonistic turn-on, a rapturous amusement, a detachment from the previously compulsive mechanism of the first four circuits.

This circuit is activated by ecstatic experiences via physiological effects of cannabis, Hatha Yoga, tantra and Zen meditation. Robert Anton Wilson writes, "Tantra yoga is concerned with shifting consciousness entirely into this circuit"[8] and that "Prolonged sexual play without orgasm always triggers some Circuit V consciousness".[9]

Leary describes that this circuit first appeared in the upper classes, with the development of leisure-class civilizations around 2000 BC.

6. The neuroelectric or metaprogramming circuit[edit]

Note: Timothy Leary lists this circuit as the sixth, and the neurogenetic circuit as the seventh.[10] Robert Anton Wilson reverses the order of these two circuits,[11] so that the neurogenetic circuit is the sixth and the metaprogramming circuit is the seventh.

This circuit is concerned with re-imprinting and re-programming all earlier circuits and the relativity of “realities” perceived. The sixth circuit consists of the nervous system becoming aware of itself. Leary says this circuit enables telepathic communication and is activated by low-to-moderate doses of LSD (50-150 µg), moderate doses of peyote, and psilocybin mushrooms. This circuit is traced by Leary back to 500 BC.

7. The neurogenetic or morphogenetic circuit[edit]

This circuit is the connection of the individual's mind to the whole sweep of evolution and life as a whole. It is the part of consciousness that echoes the experiences of the previous generations that have brought the individual's brain-mind to its present level.

It deals with ancestral, societal and scientific DNA-RNA-brain feedbacks. Those who achieve this mutation may speak of past lives, reincarnation, immortality etc.[12] It corresponds to the collective unconscious in the models of Carl Jung[13] where archetypes reside.

Activation of this circuit may be equated with consciousness of the Great God Pan in his aspect as Life as a whole, or with consciousness of Gaia, the biosphere considered as a single organism.[14]

This circuit is activated by regular doses of LSD (200-500 µg), higher doses of peyote, higher doses of psilocybin mushrooms, yoga and meditation.

The circuit first appeared among the Hindus in the early first millennium and later reappeared among the Sufi sects.

8. The psychoatomic or quantum non-local circuit (Overmind)[edit]

The eighth circuit is concerned with quantum consciousness, non-local awareness (information from beyond ordinary space-time awareness which is limited by the speed of light), illumination. Some of the ways this circuit can get activated are: the awakening of kundalini, shock, a near-death experience, etc. This circuit has even been compared to the Buddhist concept of Indra's net from the Avatamsaka Sutra. Leary felt this circuit could be activated by DMT, high doses of LSD (1,000+ µg), and high but sub-anesthetic doses of ketamine.

Leary's formulation[edit]

Although Leary propounded the basic premise of eight "brains" or brain circuits, he was inspired by sources such as the Hindu chakra system.

His most direct inspiration was received in the form of a document from a student of yoga, a pamphlet containing 24 different pages, with three-page subdivisions each corresponding to a particular yogic "energy".[15] Leary then translated this and expanded it into a 24-stage model of evolution, and eventually streamlined it into the eight-circuit model of consciousness. With this, Leary created his umbrella model which others have expanded on.

As one grows from infancy, the circuits are activated in turn, as described by Jean Piaget. Leary thought that the first four circuits reside in the left hemisphere of the brain or the cerebrum. The later four were said to reside in the right hemisphere.

An under-utilized “lower” circuit hinders the complete expression of a “higher” circuit. It would thus become necessary for a person to fully experience, integrate, and embody the survival circuits, in order to withstand the shock that accompanies the activation of the post-survival circuits.

One observation based on this model is about perceived “entities” such as angels, extraterrestrials, deities, etc. These may be archetypal and appear subject to interpretation.

Leary claimed that among other things this model explained the social conflict in the 1960s, where the mainstream was said to be those with four circuits active and characterized by Leary as tribal moralists and clashed with the counter-culturists, who were then said to be those with five or more circuits active and characterized as individualists and hedonists.

Leary's first book on the subject, Neurologic, only included seven circuits when it was published in 1973. Exo-Psychology, published in 1977, expanded the number of circuits to eight and clarified the subject; it was re-published as revised by Timothy Leary with additional material in 1989 under the title Info-Psychology (New Falcon Publishing).

Leary theorized that until recently in human development these higher circuits have remained dormant within the brain.[citation needed].

Other authors on the eight circuits[edit]

Leary's ideas heavily influenced the work of Robert Anton Wilson. Wilson's book Prometheus Rising is an in-depth work documenting Leary's eight-circuit model of consciousness. Wilson's published screenplay Reality Is What You Can Get Away With also uses and explains the model.

Wilson, like Leary, wrote about the distinction between terrestrial and post-terrestrial life. He gave each circuit a much more specific location in various regions of the brain than Leary did.

In chaos magic the eight circuits are related to the eight rays of the symbol of chaos

The model is fairly prominent in chaos magic. This concept has been detailed in "Chaotopia!" by Dave Lee, a leading member of the magic society Illuminates of Thanateros. Although both Leary and Wilson were members in this group near the end of their lives, the circuit design clearly predates this organization.

Angel Tech by Antero Alli, is structured around the eight-circuit model. In the book, the first four circuits are associated with robotic ("tech") aspects of humanity, and the final four are related to the "angelic" nature. It includes suggested activities such as meditations and construction of tarot-card collages associated with each circuit.

Rolf Von Eckartsberg also appears to have been influenced by the model.[16][17]

Bruce Scofield has written about the correlations of the mode with astrology. Resonances between planetary cycles and the birthday are suggested to be triggers that open temporary windows of imprint vulnerability. The Moon is correlated with the biosurvival period, Mars with the emotional-territorial stage, Mercury with the rational mind and Venus with the socio-sexual stage. These are initiated respectively at birth, at the second birthday, at age 3.5 and age 8 at which times the Moon, Mars, Mercury and Venus return to their birth positions, or are in phase with it. The other four circuits are considered octaves of the first four.[18]

See also[edit]

Bibliography[edit]

  • Alli, Antero. Angel Tech: A Modern Shaman's Guide to Reality Selection, The Original Falcon Press; (Reprint - 2008). ISBN 978-1-935150-95-4.
  • Alli, Antero. The Eight-Circuit Brain: Navigational Strategies for the Energetic Body, Vertical Pool Publishing; (2009). ISBN 978-0-9657341-3-4.
  • Leary, Timothy. Neurologic, 1973, with Joanna Leary.
  • Leary, Timothy. Exo-Psychology, 1977.
  • Leary, Timothy. The Politics of Ecstasy, Ronin Publishing, 1998 reprint (Original Ed. 1970).
  • Leary, Timothy. Info-Psychology, New Falcon Publications, 1989, ISBN 1-56184-105-6.
  • Leary, Timothy. What Does WoMan Want?, 1976, 88 books.
  • Lee, Dave. Chaotopia!, Mandrake of Oxford. ISBN 1-869928-88-1.
  • "Leary's 8 Calibre Brain", Psychic magazine, April 1976.
  • Valle, R. & von Eckarsberg, R. The metaphors of consciousness. New York: Plenum Press.
  • Wilson, Robert Anton. Prometheus Rising, New Falcon Publications (Reprint - 1992). ISBN 1-56184-056-4.
  • Wilson, Robert Anton. Quantum Psychology, 1990.
  • Wilson, Robert Anton. Reality Is What You Can Get Away With, 1992, new introduction added 1996.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Wilson, R.A. "Prometheus Rising" (1983). New Falcon Publications, Tempe. Page 79.
  2. ^ http://deoxy.org/raw1.htm
  3. ^ Wilson, R.A. "Prometheus Rising" (1983). New Falcon Publications, Tempe. Page 73.
  4. ^ Wilson, R.A. "Prometheus Rising" (1983). New Falcon Publications, Tempe. Page 73.
  5. ^ Leary, T., "Neurologic" (1973). Starseed Publications, San Francisco.
  6. ^ Wilson, R.A., "Quantum Psychology" (1990). New Falcon Publications, Tempe. Page 198
  7. ^ Leary, T., "Neurologic" (1973). Starseed Publications, San Francisco. Page V-1.
  8. ^ Wilson, R.A. "Prometheus Rising" (1983). New Falcon Publications, Tempe. Page 41.
  9. ^ Wilson, R.A. "Prometheus Rising" (1983). New Falcon Publications, Tempe. Page 184.
  10. ^ Leary, T. (1977). "Neuropolitics". Starseed Peace Press, Los Angeles.
  11. ^ Wilson, R.A. "Prometheus Rising" (1983). New Falcon Publications, Tempe.
  12. ^ http://deoxy.org/cc-chap4.htm
  13. ^ Wilson, R.A. "Prometheus Rising" (1983). New Falcon Publications, Tempe. Page 41.
  14. ^ http://deoxy.org/cc-chap4.htm
  15. ^ http://deoxy.org/8origins.htm
  16. ^ Von Eckartsberg, R. (1981a). "Maps of the mind". In Valle, R. & von Eckarsberg, R. The metaphors of consciousness. New York: Plenum Press.
  17. ^ http://www.earthportals.com/Portal_Messenger/bohm2.html
  18. ^ Scofield, Bruce (2001). The Circuitry of the Self. Amherst, MA: One Reed Publications. p. 190. ISBN 0-9628031-7-0. 

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