From Spirituality to Neuroscience: Our Harvest of a Bounteous Knowledge––A Nested Scientificism

We are truly the luckiest generation ever to exist.  I am, of course, biased in this assessment, as I believe the “soul,” “spirit,” “psyche” and soma alike, are both limited, and finite.  This belief brings me to my very optimism, along with another: That we are now, or soon will be, in possession of sufficient knowledge to move beyond the splintered hope of a labored synthesis, into unbridled wholeness.  The process by virtue of which this new state of affairs has come to pass, is one of a “nested scientificism.”


In times past, the only recourse to knowledge beyond the desperation of our unskilled, unknowing, half-naked ignorance, was a direct belief in our own internal states of presentation.  Symbolism, expressed in our internal thoughts, dreams, pathological states, and other less easily classified phenomena, such as the hallucinatory bliss of the enlightened, or states of mystic “revelation,” is the psychical language of intra-systemic communication.  This compromise formation, symbolism, is how our unconscious thoughts are expressed in consciousness, and, the very language by which reality itself is defined.  If we are to give expression to those thoughts we can not see or hear because they are too unhealthy for us to understand directly [unconscious ideations], or, those thoughts and objects of everyday life which are rightly understood around us [reality], the method of representation used, the intra-systemic psychical language through which these disparate facets find conscious expression is identical: symbolism.  So, I propose that spirituality is but belief in our internal language of presentation, symbolism, and hence, constitutes the oldest and most direct form of knowledge.  Spirituality is endemic.  Indeed, I consider myself, a “spiritual atheist”:  Two parts paradox, and one oxymoron––hold the belief.  As you will see, the paradox is but illusion.


If you accept my line of thinking so far, you will agree that the first step toward science, the modern incarnation of knowledge, is spirituality.  The issues raised in this first intellectual discipline, seemed insoluble.  Only a doctrine of faith, or a miracle, might seal the holes, the questions of life, death, and meaning––good and evil, justice and the worth of life in the face of our clear and insoluble dilemma: we live, we die, and then…nothing.  In this uneasy admission, we find the birth of the next in the lineage of succession in our nested scientificism… Philosophy.  The lens tighter and less forgiving, this witch’s cauldron of human ideas, philosophy, is nested within the palm of spirituality, and was founded in part, to serve her deficits.  Philosophy, the father of science proper, this foundry from whence logic itself springs…logic: this split-tongued mother and begetter of all lies and truths comes into being, now put forth into the arena of public scrutiny and debate––logic, philosophy’s child, is but the offspring of spirituality’s womb once removed.


Now the idea becomes more plain: the insoluble questions born of one in the nested series, can only be solved outside of that paradigm, in the next.  Think of the questions which remain as indication of a “failure of perturbation” in physics… a failed guess which indicates the paradigm is flawed.  How anxious are we not to know, how very anxious not to know of life and death, and in this we find the answer, from the newest of spirituality’s children…a brash child, philosophy has evolved into existentialism, which has renamed our ancient spiritual problem: the existential dilemma.  And in this, naturally, we have an answer!   We are to understand that it is we who must provide our lives meaning, and so, we look TOWARD death and our dread anxiety, as a compass do we seek this dread, and answer it!  How proud is philosophy, to have found this hollow answer.  For the answer is not enough, and we feel afraid, uneasy if free, and Nietzsche shows us his mad man and his lantern, and in Nietzsche we come closest, and learn more, of the impossible, of the love of fate…but even this is not enough.  How, how are we to accomplish this thing?  A hollow place remains, empty and uneasy, anxious and brown with weight.  I am free, and know the truth, the dilemma solved, but now what?  My knowledge has grown, and now, despair has taken the place fear once held.  And so, philosophy has answered its mother’s want, and found, want of its own!


Next, from the swirling sands of an unquenched history, a seed laden with want calls forth the third child to fill the nest of Man’s misery and design: Psychology spilt from Time’s womb, the third precious thing to come forth from the hungry seed of Man’s want.  And so, the lens once again tighter still, psychology will not blink, and is rightly known as philosophy’s ugly, honest child.  How rude, this vile creature will say anything!  And soon we have an answer to fill our empty cup, and all the ugly unseen world within every man becomes visible and manifest beneath the unflinching black prism of psychology!  Now, the wishes which have risen up to fill the mind with beautiful and hideous poetry, our shaman’s world of symptom and symbol is revealed in black light––all wishes are unmasked and known!  Spirituality has been cast out naked, and we may see!  First we blink, and refuse.  Then…the answer seems to creep near, a blind and drunken answer stumbling in darkness, at last revealed to itself, so is the dull soul of man born again to insult and knowledge beneath the light which will not blink, and we see, even if we wish it otherwise!  The question was answered once, oh yes I do remember, and psychology tells me why.  The weight of death and life, of disappointment and triumph, the doubt and turning weight within my breast was once lifted, and all the world was once light!  Yes, it was true, once I had done this thing, and then twice again…to become everything and succeed, I have done this thing.  Think my friend, and remember the time you met your own standards, and even exceeded the impossible mark, for those such as us have standards beyond what is right by a thousand miles, and yes, even to surpass… this.  To finish a perfect novel, or a perfect recording, to write the perfect poem and spill out a hundred exquisite pages laden with every sweetness and bitter truth, to find the real answer, not a theory but a new fact, and know––you have won.  I lay in my bed and know it, I have surpassed the impossible, and found––perfection.  Each word of the 70,000 is perfect…utterly perfect.  Ahhhhh… And as I lay to invite my dreams with easy thoughts so unusual and wondrous, I think the impossible, “If I were to die tonight, it would be right, and I would be glad of it.  I have won.”


And we see, psychology sees, the answer is before us, and it is conscience, super-ego, the ego-ideal which decides what we think of the unknown, what we think of Death.  We never know this thing but too late, and so, it is but a dream unfounded––a concept, and no more.  It is conscience, guilt, and the mark we must hit to remove it, which set the mind at ease before death, and all things unknown.  Psychology, this ugly child so tasteless and vile, has saved us, or so it seems.  The source of this guilt, has spoiled us, made us stupid, unhappy and obedient, and so, we must remove it!  But how?  Ah!  All the mind is fueled from below and beneath, the very most basic and untenable of thoughts and feelings are but the wellspring of the heights, sullied and spoiled in guilt!  The entire of our person and psyche has been ruined, assembled amiss; as a masochism is modern man, a noose of guilt finds him forever stupid and immoral, obedient before any authority.  If psychology has shown me the problem, it has failed to find the answer alongside of the damage its black truth has born, for only want remains, the want of my potential, now squandered beneath a pall of guilt!  Psychology has found the reason the world is black and hopeless, the reason mankind is unkind, stupid and useless––guilt.  His stupid form has taken some 30,000 years to emasculate, now “mature,” the error of his disgrace is enshrined in his very blood and bone, so how, how are we to be free of this curse?


Soon the wheel spins and we fly apart, again drifting and alone, unweighted and slipping in a thousand directions at once, thinner and thinner is the soul of man before the terrible truth, his knowledge as a sledge slamming into him, Time spreading his blood as pooled water before a shimmering noontime sun.  Now the fact of our guilt and our truth seem too much, and we find the next and last bastion for our withered hopeless souls, for we know too much and know––we have no soul, but only broken hope and guilt to find our way.  But at last, our anguish might rest, for we are the very luckiest of our kind, the first to have found the bottom of the nest, and have it made sound and right before our doubts…now, glad to know.  The anguished seed of Man’s want and dull aching guilty hope has at last found rain, quenching and cold it spills from the cloud of innocence, and we can see, and stand––everything.  Oh how lucky are we to find this thing, this place so new and bright!  First she crawled from Time’s blessed emptiness, a child so new and silly, she thought that cognition was mind, the soul of Man’s ugly desires but information, so foolish and clean was this new child of stupid light, so blessed as to believe this thing.  Cognitive Neuroscience, the dull bastard child of empiricism and psychology, seemed to hold but a teething ring in her silly new mouth, but soon, the work of  Panksepp found the primary process emotions and affect were demonstrable as neuroscience; and then, Solms found even depth, even the ugly sister of happiness may yet be friend of truth, and Neuropsychoanalysis was born; and Schore found the time and place, our minds became…our minds!


Now, the nested series is complete, and the need of synthesis is past, for we are but white light, complete and unrefusing of all things!   The super-ego can be disbanded, Hebbian pairings can heal and repolarize the pain from our abuses, and the most deeply rooted and cancerous guilt can be eliminated.  The very source of spirituality itself may then find easy expression in consciousness, and our most potent energies, our most primitive wishes and emotions liberated, to fuel thought––directly.  The undifferentiated systemic potential may in this way be used directly, an energy source so powerful, the result is like adding a supercharger to your sedan.  A new type of person, a new personality type, the Emotive Rationalist, a type never before known but as a hit or miss proposition, may now be created intentionally, and human elevation can replace limit.  Our potential at any one place in evolutionary history is finite, and now, we may begin to approach it.  Now, we can release and use––everything.  The time of the guilty soul, has ended.  Now mankind might face his end without need of a comfortable lie, instead, he will have a worthy life to comfort him instead, and like Goethe, might find Life is rich enough in promise and pleasure, worth and value, to wish for more, even as it ends, it will never end in weariness… Might we all have graced Life with excellence and find her as perfect as we might imagine her, a perfection we might but add to, and cleanse, our lives themselves, a gift to life, as she was to us, and wish but one thing of life: More light.  Life is light, not guilt.  How splendid to see the chalice glitter with liquid and cut light, never guilty but vital and sparkling is this new life, now, we can know, and love…everything.  Pain itself is life!  Now, I can use everything!––release everything!  Use everything!  Life and my world are empty and finite…and I can think of nothing more hopeful!  I will fill this finite, empty place with pleasure, never guilt, and know, the energetic stores of the mind, the pleasure and energy within me, are now mine to use as I wish!  Every sunset is perfect, because, I made it so!


So I say:


We are truly the luckiest generation ever to exist.  I am, of course, biased in this assessment, as I believe the “soul,” “spirit,” “psyche” and soma alike, are both limited, and finite.  This belief brings me to my very optimism, along with another: That we are now, or soon will be, in possession of sufficient knowledge to move beyond the splintered hope of a labored synthesis, into unbridled wholeness.  The process by virtue of which this new state of affairs has come to pass, is one of a “nested scientificism.”



––Rich Norman