Beyond the reptilian brain
By Athos Antoniades
In his controversial theory published in 1976, on the emergence of the human mind,entitled 'The origin of consciousness in the breakdown of the Bicameral mind'psychology professor Julian Jaynes, concluded after extensive research,that conscious thought in the human mind in the manner that it exists today,did not materialise until sometime between 1400-600BC. He hypothesised that Prior to this, humans acted upon direct instructions which they had received from the'Gods'.
In his opinion,they had a two chambered brain model,where 'instructions from the Gods'were received by the right chamber and transferred to the left, to be transformed into action,hence the name ,Bicameral mind.
Jaynes goes into intricate detail into how,in his opinion,the bicameral mind functioned,and how these messages were received by the right side of the brain which then transferred them on to the left side for it to be transformed into action.
However the Intricacies of these are superfluous to the scope of this article.
He demonstrated his theory by predominantly using Homers'great epic the ILIAD on the Trojan war, stating that,"There is in general no conscious thought in the Iliad",and that great warriors such as Achilles and men of wisdom such as Odysseus, who devised the plan for the Trojan horse,had no sense of subjectivity but were directed by the Gods through auditory and Visual hallucinations, in their minds .
In his opinion the Iliadic man learned to speak,read and write,but remained non conscious throughout his life,and his actions were instinctive,presumed to be initiated by the 'Gods'.
We in the Internal martial arts however,would regard the Iliadic man,as being in a constant state of 'Internal Stillness',which is the whole 'crux'to what we strive to achieve in our internal training.
In which case,humans of the time,were more likely to have acted out of a state of 'conscious presence',as opposed to been given direct instructions from the Gods.
In the Internal arts we train to achieve SUNG(Loose,heavy,relaxed,with the mind aspect of sinking everything down and,moving without feeling it physically) which is the key to achieving Stillness within.Sung would subdue conscious thought and therefore the ego,by releasing the energy held hostage by the conscious thinking brain and wasted in useless psychological thought,and also that wasted in tension throughout the body,and centering it down to our lower Dan Tien, which is our psychic energy centre.
When this happens, we will be rooted in Consciousness,leading to our actions emanating out of a state of 'intense awareness',which is the source of all true power and wisdom.
As the Iliadic man had no conscious thought process in the way that we do today there was no ego to subdue,as it is this part of the human brain which houses it,and must have therefore been in a constant state of stillness within(U/L).
In my opinion therefore, all their actions arose out of a state of Stillness, and therefore a heightened awareness,which they regarded to be instructions from the Gods.
Similarly,when we gain internal Stillness through being Sung,and action is required we will not react from our conditioned mind but respond out of an intense state of awareness ,which is the source of real power.
Acting out of awareness and not thought is true enlightened action.(U/L)
The development of the conscious thinking brain as we know it today,which Jaynes suggests was a result of various factors,including:
- The widespread use of writing which eroded the auditory authority of the Bicameral mind.
- The chaos of huge migrations due to overpopulation disrupted the the bicameral societies already in place.
- Natural disasters such as the volcanic explosion in Santorini that destroyed many Greek islands led to further migration and added to the demise of the bicameral mind-resulted in humans of that era,feeling that they were 'cut'off from God, as in their perception of the situation,they were no longer directly instructed by their Gods,but instead left to fend for themselves,as the development of the psychological thought pprocess in them,cut them off from 'Being',/God,the true source of power .
The proof of this was in the Babylonian lines "My god has forsaken me and disappeared,my goddess has failed me and keeps at a distance".According to Jaynes, the theme of the worlds religions became "Why have the Gods left us?",as people desperately tried to re-connect through prayer.
Similarly the ultimate objective of our Tai chi Practice,is to subdue the ego,free the mind of psychological thought of past and future and all pre conceived concepts and become present,and thereby,one with all(Tao,God,Universe). As we gain Internal Stillness,we will become perfectly balanced and therefore be guided by our soul and not the ego, and our soul will always steer us in the right direction. This will happen at the most advanced level of the form,the small frame(circle) level,where we move in harmony with our inner self,which of course is the Universe in the form of chi,thereby, becoming one with it.
Through Tai chi we use the physical to gain the Internal,and the Internal will then direct the physical .(u/l)
Subduing the ego and acting from a state of conscious presence,may also be gained through meditation,and other mindfulness (Presence) practices,such as breathSTILLNESS
As we achieve Stillness and grow in 'presence power', we will generate an energy(Chi) field in and around us of a high vibrational frequency.No negativity or violence can enter this field and survive,just as darkness cannot survive in the presence of light.
It will be as if we have a radar steering us out of harms way.The more presence we bring into our lives,the higher the vibrational frequency of the body becomes, much like a light which becomes brighter as we turn up a dimmer switch increasing the flow of electricity.
In this state of 'Being', humans of a lower vibrational frequency and therefore higher density, wishing to do us harm,will be unable to reach us,in much the same way that humans cannot reach spirits.Although spirits are all around us, they vibrate at such a high frequency that they rise to a different dimension, and are therefore invisible to us,and out of our reach.
The energy field which we generate around us,will create a protective aura,causing a potential attacker to have a 'change of heart'as they approach us,and before they are within striking range.This is something which I have personally experienced on several occasions.
On one such occasion I was giving a student a lift to the bus stop after a class,when out of nowhere it seemed,a dog run across the road,and was accidentally hit by a car coming in the opposite direction.Fortunately,the dog did not appear to suffer any serious injury as it rolled over a few times, got up and started to run.This however did not deter the dogs owner from running up to the vehicle in question,kicking the car causing a large dent on its side and proceeded to the passenger side(which was the pavement side)opening the door and attempting to pull the very young lady,who was hysterical by this time,out of the car.The lights were red on my side of the road, so I told my student to look after my vehicle,as I run across the road, pulled him out of the car backwards,whilst telling him the dog was not hurt, and that it was not the girls fault, and told her to drive off and go home, which she did.This further enraged him and he turned and pulled a knife on me.This will sound strange to some but I felt no fear as I adopted my Peng/Hinge fighting stance, taking me into Reptilian brain and beyond.A strange feeling of confidence came over me as I seemed to go into a different zone,one of deep Stillness within and inexplicable confidence,and although he was bigger than me,I saw him as quite small!I stood there waiting for him to make his move,murmuring something like,"You have the knife use it",but instead he just stared at me and started walking backwards whilst holding the knife!! Then his wife/girlfriend came and led him away. All this happened within the space of a couple of minutes!
On another occasion, as I was driving home one evening with my wife as a passenger,someone 'cut me up'on a corner causing me to almost swerve on to a parked vehicle.Instinctively I hooted my horn, to which the other driver took offence, did an emergency stop, got out of his car and started running toward me.I got out of the car and stood there in my Peng/Hinge fighting stance, waiting for him to make his move,in order that I may counter accordingly.
However as he approached me,and was just out of striking range,he said "I think I'll go home", turned around,got into his car and left. As I got back into my car,my wife asked"what happened there?",to which I responded "I don't know!"
There have been many other similar instances.
It may perhaps be due to a look in my eyes,or subconscious vibes they tune into as they approach me,let's just call it 'chi power'.
I accredit such instances, to my many years of diligent training in the 'Old' Yang style Tai chi chuan form',Chi kung and other internal methods,leading me to a state of 'No mind' above thought,which is superior to a state of 'No mind'below thinking,which is practiced by all animals instinctively(U/L).We too will first have to achieve this state before rising to a state above thinking.
No mind, below thinking encompasses the complete,integrated Dim mak system, incorporating,Reptile brain,Eagle vision,Fa Jing, subconscious reflex action and so on.
Through correct and consistent practice of Tai chi and Chi Kung,we would first gain a state of 'No Mind'below thinking by refining the chi centred in the lower Dan Tien to Jing, as water is to steam. This then rises up to the middle Dan Tien,situated by the solar plexus, where it is refined to Jing,and rises up to the Gall Bladder(Gb)20 points situated at the base of the scull, the doorway to the Reptilian brain,which in turn are the doorway to the subconscious.
However,the Iliadic man and his predecessors,much like wild animals, would enter their Reptilian brain automatically should the situation warranted for their survival,as like animals, they only had to go back one brain.Jaynes had concluded,that the conscious thinking brain(Neomammalian),had not fully developed in the Iliadic man, therefore like animals they only had to go back one brain which they did instinctively for their survival.
Modern day humans,have to go back 2 brains, namely the Neomammalian and Paleomammalian, in order to enter their Reptilian brain and must learn how to do so.
This would explain the formidable fighting skills of the Iliadic man as in addition to all their actions emanating from 'Stillness',they would also release the wild animal within automatically when in battle.
As we continue in our training of the form to its most advanced level,that of 'small circle',we would further refine the Jing to Shen(spirit) as it rises up to the upper Dan Tien,also known as the '3rd eye'this however,will only happen once the lower and middle energy centres(Dan Tiens),have been fully activated.
Physically, the 3rd eye is the 'Pineal gland'situated approximately half inch up from the brow point between the eyes,and quite close to the direct centre of the brain,and is said to house the spirit(Shen).
When it finally does happen after many years of diligent practice we would reach an 'Awakening'.This would enable us to achieve perception beyond ordinary sight by activating our 6th sense,giving us greater psychic ability,intuition ,wisdom and an increased sense of awareness,vastly improving our fighting ability by 'seeing'an attack before it happens.It would also improve every other aspect of our lives,as all our actions will emanate from a state of conscious presence and not thought.It also leads to an ability to observe auras,and have out of body experiences,as we ascend to a realm of higher consciousness,both of which I have personally experienced.
In fact these are both good indicators that we have opened our 3rd eye, even if only for a glimpse.
However most significant of all,is that when(and only when!) the 3rd eye is opened and our 6th sense activated they become the doorway to the SUPERCONSCIOUS.
This is where we become one with the Tao( Universe,God)as we reconnect with the Universe through the crown of the head (Governor vessel(Gv)20,aka Bai hui/ crown chakra) ,leading us to unconditional knowledge,spirituality,self realisation,mysticism,universal consciousness and unparalleled awareness.
An invisible current of Universal energy will pour into our whole system,nourishing the Shen in the pineal gland as well as every other part of our mind and body.
We will rise to higher realms of Consciousness as we progress to higher levels of Awakening, eventually leading us to connect with the Tao and Enlightenment,which is achieved in stages at different levels.It is said that it takes 3 lifetimes of Tai chi practice to reach the highest level, where we would become one with the Universe(God), literally!,whilst still maintaining our physical form.(U/L)
We would then literally be in this world,but not of this world.
From the instant that we open our third eye we will be in a state of No Mind above thinking,and beyond the Reptilian Brain'.(U/L)
As discussed above,in Tai chi this will happen at the small circle level of the form,where we are moving in harmony with the chi inside of us,which of course is a manifestation of the Universe.As the Universe is balance itself,we too will be perfectly balanced at this stage.
In the Tai chi form,Balance will initially be attained at all the points between Yin and Yang known as EMPTY SPACES.
They are empty because they are are neither Yin nor Yang but a perfect balance of both equally,as they have not yet taken form but are between Opening(Yin)and Closing (Yang).However as we further internalise the form to what's known as the 'Mind level',which is small circle at its most advanced and ultimate level,only the Intention,and small physical movement remain visible,and even then, only to the trained eye.At this level,much like the Yin/Yang symbol,Yin and Yang are equal and the whole form is now perfectly balanced.Even for the slightest of movements either way, Yin or Yang,there will be an equal opposing movement maintaining that balance. It is these micro movements which primarily heal the body and not the large ones which would use up much of the energy being generated.
Yin and Yang are equal in power,but must also be opposite,for Balance.!The legs and feet are Yang and the arms and hands are Yin.As we move further up the legs we become less Yang,and as we move further down the arms we become less Yin,until we reach the waist, which is the 'Void',neither Yin nor Yang, but both, equally!The waist is the ruler which directs the Yang movement in the legs and Yin movement in the hands,in accordance with what the chi is doing internally.Everything manifests out of the 'Void',in just the same way that the Universe was created.
As the ground chi connects us to the earth and the air chi to the sky we become at one with the Universe.
We will be 90% internal and only 10% physical, and this state of 'Being' and Internal Balance,will expand into our daily lives,and be reflected in our day to day existence.
We will no longer DO Tai chi, but BE Tai chi,as 'Being'isn't lost even whilst we do.In other words after many years of training we will naturally be in this Sung state of existence and intense alertness/awareness in our daily lives,just like the Iliadic man!
However,assuming we have done all the training,(U/L)but are still not at the level where this happens naturally,until it does,there are certain postures that we can adopt,that would instantly take us into this state of Being'.In a Martial situation we would adopt our Penge/Hinge fighting stance(Pic.1).In our daily lives we would adopt a similar stance to '3 circle standing Chi Kung',and be completely Sung with our Kwas open and our arms hanging lose by our sides(Pic.2).With both postures we must have the mind aspect of sinking everything down.Chi is centred in the lower Dan Tien,situated 3" below the
Naval and our physical weight rooted at the centre of gravity point just forward of the heel.
The result would be that our Consciousness/Awareness,will become the space for whatever is happening in the present moment and will manifest accordingly.As stated above the source of spontaneous right action and true intelligence emanates from the formless/emptiness,which is the source of maximum power,efficiency and wisdom.
In an altercation for instance ,every movement we respond with,will emanate from this state of presence,and therefore be spontaneous and in sync with the mind,which is imperative because of the way the mind works.If we think of something and then do it,the mind is already onto the next movement as once we have thought about it,in the mind it's done,as the mind cannot distinguish between real and imagination.The result being that the mind and body are not in balance.
In other words thought detaches us from Being,the source of all true power.
All 3 Mind, Body and Spirit (Yi, Li and Shen) will be in complete harmony with one another,with absolutely no interference from the conscious mind,as we would have by this stage,completely mastered self.
Another major advantage to the Martial Arts at this advanced internal level, is that in Stillness(Awareness) we will be able to sense the Stillness within a potential attacker prior to his Consciousness manifesting into an attack, thereby, pre-emptying,intercepting and countering a potential attack instinctively,prior to it manifesting into a full scale assault.
Also as at this level, we become one with the Universe ,which is perfectly Balanced,we will not be too Yin and cowering in fear, or too Yang and anxiously aggressive as we too will become perfectly balanced.
We will stay calm in all circumstances,and even if attacked,we would be violently aggressive on the outside but remain calm within.
Our mind will be free of Concepts,including the concept of non violence,therefore if the situation warrants it,sudden violence will be a spontaneous reflex action. We will never resist any situation but adapt accordingly,as any resistance,such as the blocks,taught in logical prearranged techniques,will cut as off from 'Being',the source of true power. Resistance is weakness and fear masquerading as strength. Our soul will steer us out of harms way whenever and wherever possible,but if there is no way out,and we find ourselves involved in an altercation,the very instant we see the attack coming in to us,the subconscious mind(Yi) will direct the spirit(Shen) which will in turn direct the physical(Li), to counter it at a superconscious level,no longer reacting from our conditioned mind but,like the Iliadic man,responding out of a state of intense alertness(U/L).This will be further enhanced by the fact that whenever we find ourselves in a dangerous situation, such as a fight,our awareness will intensify,as our survival instinct takes over,making us more present, as psychological thought of past and future disappear,creating more space to deal with the dangerous situation arising in the 'Now'.The result being that a potential attacker is likely to find himself confronted by a raging wild animal as we release the wild animal within by activating our Reptilian Brain whilst in a state of intense alertness,and not the placid person he thought he was attacking,and is likely to end up 'meditating in a horizontal position!',before he knows what hit him.
This is because, as mentioned above,in order for us to get to this most advanced level of no mind above thinking we would have mastered no mind below thought,therefore the very instant we 'engage in battle',like the Iliadic man,we would always have at our disposal,the complete integrated 'Dim Mak system', which incorporates the reptile brain,Eagle vision, Fa Jing, and subconscious reflex action,all of which we would have mastered at the state of no mind below thinking.
Such occasions however will become rare, as in a state of no mind above thought,our soul will,whenever possible,steer us clear of trouble,as our aura will mostly deter any potential attackers.
This is the 'essence'of No mind above thinking, a very spiritual state of being.
By mastering the small circle level of the 'Old Yang style Tai chi form', we will be moving in harmony with, and be led by, the chi inside of us,which is a manifestation of the Universe.We will therefore be in a complete state of Balance.A state of No Mind above thinking will prevail as we are led through life by our Soul and not our ego.
Our Soul will whenever and wherever possible steer us out of harms way,much like a radar steering us clear of trouble.
However,if an altercation is unavoidable we will also have at our disposal a state of no mind below thinking, encompassing the complete Dim Mak fighting system which incorporates pressure point strikes, Reptile brain,Eagle vision, Fa jing and subconscious reflex action.
In addition,gaining Internal Stillness will enable us to sense a potential attackers own Stillness within,prior to his intentions manifesting into action,thereby enhancing our ability to pre -empt and intercept his attack.
As this state of Being' and Internal Balance eventually expands into our daily lives, it will reflected in our day to day existence.Our actions will emanate out of a state of conscious presence and not the ego.
Athos Antoniades is a 9th Dan Black belt,and a Kenpo Taiji and Tai chi instructor,and holds classes in Finchley ,North London. He is also available for workshops.
E-mail address: Kenpo25@icloud.com